Monthly Archives: May 2015

Deaf or Dumb?

Remember this not-too long ago post about our hope to share great adventures from our visit to hospice and the hospital? Well, I’m here to tell you that “great’ might have been a bit of a stretch and over zealous on my part. Truth be told, I am more flummoxed than ever. Apparently getting even for the bath thing was on the agenda though I didn’t know it at the time.

I’m never quite sure which Sam will show up when we go off to the hospital. It could easily be ‘deaf Sam’ where he just doesn’t hear my commands. Granted, I am somewhat soft-spoken at the hospital. Personally, I think it’s important not to go inside sounding like a stevedore shouting out greetings and what-have-you on our shifts. But I suspect it’s more a case of selective hearing. ‘Yeah, I know you said to do “X” but I’m gonna act like I didn’t hear you and not do it.’

Then again it could be ‘Simple Sam’ (otherwise known as the dummy) who shows up. When I give a command for him to put his feet up on a bed, he’ll look at me as if I just spoken to him in Yugoslavian.

Lately though he’s done really well with the “Feet”command where he puts his front paws on a bed to let a patient pet him or to get a closer look at those sweet eyes. If I were to say “Up,” he’ll pogo-stick his entire body up on the bed and while it can be weird endearing sort of, it more often it startles patients, not exactly the kind of practice conducive to healing, now is it?

So after we checked in, I made my preliminary rounds which means stopping by the front desk and saying hello to our friend, Nicole. She’s super adorable, cute as a button with a million watt smile-just the kind of person you’d want greeting visitors at the hospital. Often times, there may be a student volunteer there as well helping out and I know they enjoy Sam’s visits and it gets him ready for the harder work with patients. We also swing by the Gift Shop too since it’s almost always manned by high school student volunteers and the girls absolutely LOVE Sam and he naturally loves their attention.

So imagine my surprise when I gave the “Feet” command and pointed to the counter and Sam popped up like a Jack-in-the-Box with all 4 feet landing on the counter looking quite innocently and pleased with himself. Sweet Nicole laughed and said “oh my, I sure wasn’t expected that!” Naturally, I was horrified by his broad interpretation complete disregard of the command. He’s actually done so well with it lately, it just never occurred to me that he’d completely blow me off, especially around someone he knows.

Yet he wasn’t quite finished being a toad. A few minutes later when we were up on a floor,  I gave the command again (could it be that I’m the numskull here since we’d already had an epic fail downstairs–what was I thinking?). I thought he’d actually put his feet up on the bed for a patient who was very excited to see us. What did that dog do?

IMG_1816You may not be able to tell from this photo but how about full on “Scoot over lady…INCOMING!!” He totally jumped in the middle of her lap. OMG, what is wrong with this doofus? While it’s not specifically against the rules when dogs are invited up onto beds with patients, the key word here is being ‘invited‘. As you can see, she was a very good sport about it, albeit surprised but I was completely embarrassed and horrified. We visited with her for a few more minutes, all the while she kept petting Sam and saying what a sweet face he has and, of course he was eating it up like crazy. No doubt in his smug mind pea sized brain, I’m pretty sure he was subconsciously sticking his tongue out at me and thinking “Ha, ha so there–give me a bath will you!” He pretty much did the same thing to a guy we visited shortly thereafter but that guy so missed his own dog, I don’t think he realized that Sam was being a brat. Course, he did casually mention that Sam was kind of nudging him over to the far edge of the bed (OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THAT DOG?!). We joked about that (I tried desperately not to totally wig out choke the life out of that miscreant therapy dog) and then Sam and I left to visit with patients, visitors and Sam’s favorite nurses over at hospice. Ever since though, I’ve been trying to decide whether or not Sam is deaf…or dumb.

Then again after several days of reflection, I’m wondering if there isn’t a very fine line between being dumb and being stubborn. Now to just figure out which one that dingbat dog is because he clearly hears me open a package of cheese from the fridge no matter where he is at in the house, so we can probably rule out his being deaf! 😉

Live, love, bark! ❤

 

Take a Bite Outa This

Sam here…with almost 70 millions dogs in this country, it’s no wonder there’s a  National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Mom just mentioned it to me so I thought I’d write a post about it from a dog’s perspective.

IMG_1219 Some facts about dog bites:

  • The CDC says that dog bites were the 11th leading cause of non-fatal injury to children ages 1 to 4, 9th for ages 5 to 9, and 10th for ages 10 to 14 from 2003 to 2012?
  • The Insurance Information Institute estimates that insurers paid just under $500 million in dog bite claims in 2013.
  • The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports almost 27,000 reconstructive procedures were performed in 2013 to repair injuries caused by dog bites.
  • The US Postal Service reports that over 5,500 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2013. Children, elderly, and postal carriers are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
  • The American Humane Association reports that 66 percent of bites among children occur on the head and neck.

I’m not a biter–there’s not a cross bone in my body, In fact, I’m a very good and sweet boy but it’s probably because Mom did a few smart things when she first brought me home (and continues to do). It’s not to say I couldn’t bite under certain situations. Here’s what Mom does and recommends:

How to Keep Us from Becoming a Statistic

  • Socialization and training to respond consistently to basic obedience commands. This strategy cannot be stressed enough. Mom made sure I was socialized as soon as she brought me home, that very afternoon in fact. I lived the country life so being in the city was really weird to me. I’d never seen a stroller, a bus, had no idea how to deal with sandwich boards or even curbs and buses. We immediately went on the very long walk and I was able to sniff out all the wonderful smells in our neighborhood and get used to seeing people, other dogs, bicycles and cars. Proper and ongoing socialization is the single most important thing you can do to reduce behavior problems. The “ounce of prevention” is definitely worth a pound of cure.
  • Provide us with loads of exercise. Regular aerobic exercise is necessary for physical conditioning and it also provides good mental stimulation for us dogs so we’re always well-balanced.
  • Playtime is important, but don’t over-stimulate us or pit us against you, like wrestling or tug-of-war. Never put us in a situation where we feel threatened.
  • Use a leash when we’re out in public. Remember though it’s not enough to put a leash or harness on a dog with unpredictable behavior; you need to be able to control that pooch. If you can’t, you need to get additional obedience training and make sure dog-walking duties are done with someone who can maintain control. No wimps here.
  • Secure our yards so that they are completely secure. Make sure the fence is high enough so we aren’t able to jump (or dig) our way out. And definitely make sure the gate is secure/locked.
  • Proceed with caution regarding vaccinations. Mounting evidence suggests rabies vaccines in particular may be contributing to aggression in some dogs. Since rabies vaccines are required by law, insist on the 3-year vaccine and avoid the annual shot. Ask your vet for the homeopathic rabies vaccine detox Lyssin after each rabies vaccine.
  • Discuss the best time to spay or neuter your pet. Intact pets are sometimes more aggressive than those who have been neutered. In addition to reproduction concerns, timing is critical, and smart decisions should be based our total health and personality.
  • Teach kids how to behave around us. Children are by far the most frequent victims of dog bites and need to learn to be cautious and respectful with all dogs, especially their own. Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.

Things to keep in mind as our guardians

  • Lifelong learning, socialization, and mental stimulation are essential if we are to become (and stay) balanced.
  • Ongoing training and proactive behavior modification are essential to avoiding problems.
  • We may need a refresher obedience or socialization course between 2-3 years of age. If you don’t like the direction we’re taking, it’s on you to make sure we get the proper training.
  •  If you adopt (especially a puppy) during the colder months of the year, begin socialization ASAP so that once warm weather arrives we will be used to sights, sounds, and other stimuli of summer. In fact start socialization right away no matter what the time of year!
  •  Dog bites are more common in hot weather probably because we tend to be outside more often.  Kids play outdoors with us so please realize we can become irritable and aggressive in the heat. Some of you bipeds get grouchy when it’s too hot, so understand it’s possible for us, too. 😉
  • Research the type of dog best suited to your family and lifestyle before selecting. Impulse adoptions are just a bad idea. If we’re your first dog, talk with a vet, a well-informed shelter or rescue employee, reputable breeder, or other knowledgeable person.

More Ways on How to Stay Safe

  • Approach strange dogs with caution. Don’t rush up to pet us before we see and sniff you and let us approach you on our terms. Not all of us are as friendly as I am and could be intimidated by you. 🙂
  • Never turn your back to us or try to run away. Our natural instinct may be to give chase and view you as prey.
  • Don’t attempt to interact with us if we’re sleeping, eating, playing with a toy or bone, or with a mother dog with her puppies.
Grrr!

Grrr!

Signs that Indicate We Might Bite:

  • Our bodies may freeze up and we’re rigid in stature
  • Front legs splayed and head held low, looking at you
  • Curled lips showing teeth or growling

When we feel a threat:

  • Stand still with your hands at your sides
  • Avoid eye contact
  • If we lose interest, back away slowly
  • If we come at you – try to distract us with something
  • If you wind up on the ground, curl up into a ball, put your hands over your ears and stay still – resist the urge to yell, scream, or move around.

Stay safe and proactive and you’ll have a good dog just like me [tail wag].

Live, love, bark! ❤

 

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ May 20, 2015

IMG_1745 On yet another cold and rainy day in Denver, I wish I were back on the beach, but not this week. My smart beautiful niece, Bailey is graduating tomorrow and I wouldn’t miss the celebration of this fabulously gifted, young woman. Best wishes for a bright future, Bai. We love ya!

Live, love, bark! ❤

Oh no!

Ever see anything so pitiful?

Ever see anything so pitiful?

Is this my best side?

Is this my best side?

This can only mean one humiliating thing…it’s bath time again at the ranch. But in the good news department, it also means we’re going to hospice today. Now where is that wily dog now that I retrieved the hair dryer?

Where's that dog?

Where’s that dog?

[note to self – remember to gather ALL the bath accoutrements before starting this processl!] 🙂

Paws crossed we have great adventures to share next week!

Live, love, bark! ❤

Disneyland or Disaster?

Dog parks–are they a Disneyland or a disaster waiting to happen? People tend to have strong feelings on this topic. Personally I’ve only taken Sam to our neighborhood dog park once and he stayed right next to me the entire time. Ok, truth be told there were those few minutes he went sniffing around and found someone who he must have thought was me and began to lean against them, but other than that, he really didn’t seem interested in everyone running hither and yon chasing after balls, Frisbees and other dogs racing by. Sam’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, he doesn’t do ball chasing and doesn’t seem to get it at all. His reaction suggests he doesn’t understand why you threw that thing in the first place and maybe wonders if you threw it, maybe YOU should go get it, not him.

Not sure if it’s the dog park’s frenetic energy or if it’s more like that 2009 movie He’s just Not Into You, because he’s just not into dog parks. Don’t get me wrong, Sam loves dogs, but he loves people so much more and he’d just rather lean stand next to someone who was willing to pet him. I recall a rally near the house a couple of years ago and we were getting ready to cross the street along with 50 or so other people and he leaned against the guy standing next to me while we were waiting to cross. The guy looked down at Sam, smiled, then said “Guess he kind of likes me.” Eek, talk about embarrassing!  This guy was a complete stranger; we had never seen him before that day and my dog was leaning like he had a major crush on him. I mean, what the hey dog…?!

The dog park in my neighborhood is your classic urban dog park-large enough for dogs to run themselves silly around on a few acres and just uncomfortable enough for the humans standing on the periphery near the gate chatting up neighbors waiting for the dog to “be finished.” It’s mostly flat at the far edge of a decent public park and bordered by a busy major street (read noisy). There’s no grass, only pea gravel and dirt, a couple of benches and one small awning. There might be maybe 3 trees in the entire area but they are small ones at that providing almost no shade. There is no running water tap so you need to bring your own H2O. Lots of people arrive after work so the place gets super crowded and there are more than a few aggressive dogs that show up. Hel-lo, stupid owners…don’t bring big, bad Brutus to the dog park. Instead get your sorry tush out and walk him on a leash and don’t let him terrorize that 6 pound Yorkie that is freaking out seeing your 90 lb. fur-gorilla come racing toward it. And even if you say “he’s friendly,” that gigantic ox is scaring the be-Jesus out of little Muffy. Course a fair number of purse sized dogs are terrorizing big dogs as well. Just saying.

No matter which side of the coin you’re on, here are some issues that come to mind where dog parks are concerned.

  • People think they don’t have to pick up after their dog. Unless you mother follows you around and is willing to pick up after you, YOU NEED TO PICK UP YOUR DOG’S POOP!  It’s bad enough when dogs aren’t vaccinated and go to dog parks, but there are all kinds of diseases and parasites living in dog poop. For dogs who suffer from Coprophagia (the polite code word for stool eating), this has all kinds of implications. ‘Nuff said there.
  • Pre-exercising your dog (which seems counter-intuitive, I know) helps keep any overstimulation under control. Dog parks should be a supplement to daily activity, not the only activity.
  • Dogs with socialization issues should not come to a dog park. Dogs need to introduce themselves appropriately and politely. Just like people, not every dog appreciates being charged by a loud, boorish critter who gets up close and personal into everyone’s face.
  • Leave the gangster collar in the low-rider. Pronged/spiked collars and harnesses should not make their way inside a dog park while they are playing. Rough-housing with them on can lead to broken teeth, jaws, paws and legs.
  • Keeping your dog leashed inside the off-leash area is…well just plain dumb. It’s too easy to trip or snap a leg that gets tangles while a dog is running close to the speed of sound after a tennis ball. Retractable leashes are an even worse idea. See this if you really want to know how I feel about that topic. 🙂 There’s no need to clothesline a dog or rip your dog’s head off once they reach the end of the cord at warp speed.
  • I can’t believe I even have to mention this one. DO NOT BRING YOUR FEMALE WHO IS EITHER IN HEAT OR PREGNANT!! Why isn’t there a law against this kind of stupidity-can anyone explain that to me?
  • Puppies less than 12 weeks old or dogs with incomplete vaccinations should not go to dog parks. Unvaccinated dogs could be dangerous to young puppies who haven’t had the opportunity to build up immunity for certain conditions like mature dogs have. Nasty stuff like Giardia or worms can play major havoc on those tiny bodies. Yes, they are adorable and EVERYONE loves seeing puppies play, but the dog park is not that place.
  • You need to be careful about having small dogs and big dogs in the same area. Some large dogs view little dogs more like squirrels than small dogs. That big galut is probably not vicious, just overstimulated yet the result can be the same.
  • Don’t pick up your little dog and carry it to “safety.” Some dogs view the pickup-ee as fleeing the scene which translates into “chase!” in some dog’s brains and which can trigger a treeing instinct. Picking up a small panicked dog could get you knocked over or possibly bitten.
  • Make sure your dog has recall skills. Being able to disengage a dog from escalating bad behavior is critical for everyone’s safety.
  • Dogs should not be allowed to bully other dogs. Bouncing all over a dog is not cute, it’s obnoxious and rude. Tag and run is cute, but non-stop nipping and pouncing with already overstimulated dogs…yeah, not so much.
  • Dogs shouldn’t ‘have to work it out’ at the dog park. First time introductions in a super stimulating environment probably isn’t the time for resolving potential canine drama.
  • Dogs that cannot share toys probably shouldn’t be at a dog park. That’s an invitation bound to go badly. No one needs to see varying levels of aggressiveness accelerate because of a resource guarding dog that can’t take cues to back off.
  • While it’s always nice to run into a neighbor or make new friends, owners need to stay engaged with their dogs at dog parks, not catching or hooking up. Dog parks are for dogs, coffee shops or bars are for chit-chatting.
  • Finally, just like chatting up people at the dog park is a no-no, people need to get off their smartphones and pay attention to their’s as well as other people’s dogs. If you’re texting or tweeting, you’re not supervising your dog. I don’t know what it is about millennials but they just can’t seem to put their phones down. I know, I’m starting to sound like the crabby old geezer who shakes their fist in the air and yells, “get off my lawn!” But it makes me crazy when these social cretins nearly walk into Sam and me when we’re out walking early in the morning because they are reading or texting something on their phone and then give me the stink eye like we did something wrong (true story, but that’s for another rant, er I mean, post). Sheesh, Sam has far better social skills and he’s a millennial, too. 😉

Sure I’m passionate about this topic but hopefully haven’t come across like a jerk. I realize it’s a thin line between the two and if I have, please accept my apology. So tell me, where do you weigh in on the issue of dog parks…Disneyland or disaster?

Live, love, bark! ❤