Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tricks worth Teaching

I am not a dog trainer and I can not say that my dogs are perfectly well behaved, but here are a couple of commands that I think all dogs should be taught no matter what.

1) DROP IT. I have taught this to my dogs from day one. Some came to me as a puppy and some were older so this is not just for the young ones...its for all dogs. I can not tell you how many times a dog got something in their mouth that was potentially dangerous and the need for them to release it immediately very necessary. To have a dog 'drop it' on command is vital. You can say it when they pick up your shoe, a dead animal, feces, food items that are dangerous to dogs (ie, onions, mushrooms, chocolate, etc) or you simply want to play fetch not tug.

2) COME. As humans we are terrible at consistent commands. We teach this command but will use 'come' for bad times and then they don't always listen. Remember: if you give the command to 'come' and they are punished for being have taught them that 'come' is not always a positive experience. Problem really lies in the time you need them to 'come' and they don't. You may need them to get back in your control because you see another dog, a hazard, dropped the leash, need to hurry, etc. If they know that 'come' is an order to listen to because punishment doesn't follow, you will be able to use the command when its needed most and possibly ensure a better day at that point.

3) ENOUGH (or whatever word you wish to use). Doesn't matter if Fido is a miniature Poodle or a large German Shepard barking needs to be under your control. Its great that dogs bark when someone enters your property or knocks on the door, but that barking needs to have a clear end. A command like 'enough' allows you to acknowledge the signaling of a breech in security, but once you have checked the situation and all is no more barking. Yappy dogs or barking dogs are a product of your doing...not the dogs. Excessive barking is often a product of ignoring their communication or rewarding them for consider this new command for your own pup.

These commands for the most part are there to make sure you can keep your pup(s) safe and your home a happy one.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Old Man Cody

On Monday, March 15th we said good bye to my sweet kitty, Cody. He was 20 years old. He lived a long life. Although I have no idea how well he lived his first 8 years....his last 12 were pretty good. Adopted in 1997 at age 8, he entered his final home...although we told him it was his forever home. Such a dream is not allowed. I miss my old man. I know he is so much happier now. No longer in pain, suffering from the deterioration that comes with being diabetic and old.

I looked up his name after I got him (Yes, I changed his name) and Cody means 'to comfort' and that explained my sweet Cody to the tee. He was a sweet and gentle soul who was all about a warm place to name and a soft purr to tell you how he felt about it. He was easy going and very forgiving, he had no problems with change and settled in nicely when there was some.

His last year was tough as his gentle side became a more aggravated guy. He was not comfortable and was more vocal about it. We never saw him suffer, just experience the side effects of old age. Arthritis, weight loss and slowing down.

I miss him. I know he is happier, and that brings me peace, but I miss him just the same.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Doggy Dreamin

I have 4 dogs and they all have very active dreams. It breaks my heart to see them making cry-like noises and twitching, my husband and I had been waking them up to comfort them. But I have been doing some research on this very subject. The 'doggy-dreamland experts' out there say that you should let sleeping dogs lie. Dogs that twitch and cry in their sleep are just experiencing a dream. They go on to say that dogs that have active dreams are in a deeper sleep. And that happy, safe, content dogs feel more comfortable sleeping so deeply that they are more likely to experience a dream. Who knew? My dogs dream so vividly and actively because I gave them a great safe home. So, these are not signs of torture...but rather signs of joy! This is great news.

So, let your pups chase after that dreamland bunnies, its all good! They are happy, safe and content and therefore just enjoying their dream. No more interruptions from us...we get it now. Sweet Dreams.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spoiled Dogs

My dogs are spoiled. Seriously, brats. And its all my fault. I break every pack animal rule there is: let them sleep in my bed, bend down to love on them. smooch them, fail to discipline them when they jump on me and pretty much do their bidding when they ask (in their doggy way). I am actually not really bothered by their behavior, but others are.

If you walk in my front door, you will most likely be jumped up on. If you sit on the sofa, they will jump in your lap, climb up behind you and start licking. They will demand you pet them, play with them and give them your immediate and full attention. Its when guests come over that I realize that my dogs are brats. I can honestly say that it will be impossible to change. I love the they snuggle with me in bed and want to lounge on the sofa with them. I do not allow them to jump on me when I enter (and therefore they do not) but my husband loves it. Its the guests who suffer.

So, I am sorry. My dogs are bad. I loved them to that point. They are so spoiled and they know not what they do.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Toss the Retractable Lead

You have your holistic pet owners, your old schoolers (ie, thats how my daddy's dad did it), your co-dependents and your folks who read every puppy rearing book on the market...but there is one single thing you should NEVER do!  Never purchase and use a retractable lead. There are countless reasons why you should not use them and every reason I have heard to support using them often further strengthens my stand to never use them. They are dangerous and offer worst level of control over your pet...thus a recipe for disaster.

Retractable leads have burned, cut and seriously injured so many including the handler, innocent bystanders and even the dog. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 16,564 hospital related injuries occurred in 2007 that were associated to retractable leads.  Injuries are so common that the Germany based company FLEXI posts warnings on their website and packaging as follows: “To avoid the risk of eye or face injury and cuts, burns, and amputations to your body or the body of another person from the leash cord/tape or all belt and hook, (sic) read and follow these Warnings and Directions for Use before using your Flexi leash.”

Most dog trainers will tell you that in order to truly handle your dog, you must have a 4-6ft sturdy lead. This lead should allow you to keep your dog under your control at all times because we all know, the further away you are from your dog, the least amount of control you have over your dog. With a retractable lead, your dog can be extended 10 to 30 feet in front of you. If they were to suddenly bolt across a street, you have given them that much space to move and put themselves into traffic. They see and interact with other dogs, people and small animals and are far enough away from you to get into trouble. There are reports of dogs getting hit by cars and kids on bikes because they are not street smart enough to know to watch for these dangers.

The lack of control of the dog can lead to the cord burns to folks as their dogs get tangled. I have been burned as someones dog walked behind me and the owner tried pulling in the lead. As the cord pulled across my lower leg, I was burned through my denim jeans leaving a red welt on my skin. The owner had already started the damage and I was on my own to get out of the mess before additional harm was caused.  To be honest, there was nothing she could have done other than use a better lead to control her dog. Her tiny Rat Terrier was excited to greet me and my own pup. I had the better (and traditional lead) and was able to untangle our pets while all she would do was stand their while I did my best to save my skin.

If you feel its convenient to allow your dog to wander further from you and do not feel the risk of injury to you, your dog or the people you interact with while walking then do a Google search. Search retractable lead dangers and read all the stories from pet owners who have severed fingers or scared their legs and arms of themselves and their children. You can even ask my friend Berhan about the 9 inch scar on her leg from her Chihuahua walking around her while waiting to cross the street.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Love is True, My Love is Real

I do not have kids....meaning the traditional, two legged variety. I have dogs & cats instead and I love them dearly. I love them more than I can ever explain, basically, I would go to the end of the earth to ensure their safety and happiness. I would be heartbroken to lose them or see them suffer in anyway. I would fight for them, I would do anything...that is a lot of love. That is the farthest reach of my love...its 100%.  But, a mommy of the traditional kind and they will tell you that you do not know love. OUCH!

I would never go up to someone and tell them that their love is not valid, that their love is substandard. But 2-legged mommies do it with vengeance. If your love is for a dog or cat, you apparently do not know love, that you can only know love of a 2 legged child and thus they have set the scale. What I want to know is, when did they crawl in my body, read my level of love and decide that I can not possibly know love? Should I ask them how much I love my husband? My parents? My sister? I find it pretty outrageous that one person can tell another how deeply they love. I thought love came from the heart, meaning from 'my heart'. I thought that the warm fuzzy and smile that bubbles up from my deepest core of emotion was mine and real. I feel it as real, I wrap myself around it as real, but since my love is for a furry face with a big tongue I guess its a myth.

Here is my advice to people who tell others how to live, how to dress, how to act, how to believe, and most importantly how to love: Love is Love and its so deeply personal and cherished....don't be so heartless and try to diminish others feelings. Its cruel and unnecessary...because I would never tell you that you don't know love, you only have a kid.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Party Dogs

I am about to take my dog Hank to a charity event at the Westin in Charlotte. Hank is a social dog...he lives with 3 other pups so he plays well with others. We take him camping 4-Paws Kingdom where he romps and frolics in dog parks with other happy campers. But I am a little worried about Hank at a charity dinner.

In fact, Hank can be quite the little booger. He has this sharp, nerve grating bark that can call the whales from the deepest ocean. He gets excited and jumpy but all with tunnel vision and hearing. He is actually incapable of hearing me when he is most excited and in need of reigning in. So, I am not sure how I feel about this outing of ours.

I do expect to wear, ditching the skirt/dress option since I have no idea what activities I will be forced to partake in. I do not want hosiery snags and rips to be part of my evening and I do not think that high heels will be wise as I may need to move fast.

So, why take the little boog? He is a Humane Society Alumni and the charity event is to raise money for the group that brought my little booger to our home. It hasn't all been fantastic and wonderful, but it has been great. I will take Hank to the Charity Dinner and hopefully he won't cause too much pain and suffering for all involved. I am sure he will land us some laughs....he always does.