Posts Tagged ‘Observations’

Time for Thanks

November 19, 2009

Well, as everyone else in the world seems to be doing, let’s offer some thanks.

Many of you know that I’m going through life changes recently. Some are easy, some are very, very hard. I am very thankful for friends that help hold me up and support without judgment.

One of those friends is covered in fur. I truly feel that we are blessed by our dog-friends. I know it’s one of the strongest reasons many of us are so close to dogs. They seem to know when we need more attention. As I’ve moved my life and business to a new location, she’s been more clingy.

Since I’ve had Lexi, my German Shepherd, she’s been pretty indifferent. Murphy, my Golden Retriever, was always under my feet. Lexi, in the middle of the room. Murphy loves it when you’re right in his face and being cuddly, Lexi couldn’t care less. But since the move, she’s more at my feet. Moves to where I am a lot. This is all relative, by the way. She’s still not like Murphy, but still way more attentive than before.

At first, I thought it was all new surroundings and missing Murphy, as he stayed behind. And while I still believe that, I also believe that she senses my need for a good, non-judgmental friend. And if not, that’s the role she’s filling.

I hear stories all the time about dogs knowing when to cuddle up, or pay extra attention to owners, so I know I’m not totally off my rocker! (I hope)

If you’re so inclined, comment a story about your pooch and its attentiveness or a way it has helped you through tough times.

The blog is going to take next week off due to the number of things going on around us next week. Give thanks for our furry friends!

Advertisements

It Takes All Kinds

November 10, 2009

I had a really good time on Sunday supporting the Akron (Ohio) Humane Society. Back last summer you may remember that I wrote about performing at the Bow-Wow Boogie. It was a USO style variety show that supported the AHSociety. It was a fun show (By the way, if you should ever need classy entertainment, Rat-Pack style, check out my “Entertainer side“).

After that, the man that produced the event, Ron (Bus) Hill, asked me to sing for the AHS Telethon. So I went and recorded a couple songs, then Sunday went down to Akron Aeros Stadium in Akron for the telethon. As I waited in the “Green Room” (aka: a hallway!), I was right outside the “Dog Green Room”. They had a selection of the adoptable dogs there to go “on camera”. Many people came in with adoptable dogs, dogs they’d adopted from the AHS. I also took Lexi, my German Shepherd, as she was adopted from a pound too, so she got a few seconds of camera time too!

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you
more than he loves himself.”
– Josh Billings

But as we waited to go on, it was fun seeing the stream of people and pets that came and went. I think we all have a breed that really gets in our heart. When I was a boy, the man across the street bred/raised German Shepherd’s. I’m not sure if that’s my connection or not, but “when I grew up”, I always wanted one. Since I’ve adopted Lexi, I’ve come to learn how incredibly smart this gal is. Sometimes she scares me. The fun part is watching her watch. You can really see her trying to figure out most everything.

Well anyhow, Sunday I met a little pit that had lost one back leg. Never got the story why, and didn’t ask, as the dog acted like he didn’t care: Full of life, running around. I think he was over a year old, but still had plenty of puppy in him. Sort of reminded me of the dog from “Little Rascals“. He would’ve been a great “little boy” dog.

I met several little puppies. One was in constant motion. Wanted to be involved in anything/everything. Another one was very content to just be held. There was a blind dog that had a companion he stayed very near to. There was a shepherd mix a lady had rescued- honestly ‘just a mutt’, but a sweet dog that just wanted to meet everyone.

And for every dog, you could see an owner totally in love with that specific animal. That was the common thread. There had to be over 100 people involved somehow volunteering their time and/or resources to help animals that need that “forever home”. Support your local pound or Humane Society. Adopt responsibly if and when you can! YOUR kind is out there!

Remember, They have to Adjust too!

November 5, 2009

For those of you that follow this blog, you know I’ve been moving for the last several weeks. While Amanda, my office assistant, helps here and there, much of the work falls on my shoulders. So everything goes slow. Very slow in some cases. Then there’s running the business, doing various Chamber events (we support both the Canton Regional and Jackson/Belden Chambers of Commerce), singing at Primavera’s Italian Restaurant on Friday nights, teaching for Portage Lakes Career Center – oh yeah and sneaking in some sleep here and there! So my apologies yet again for not being as “on top” of this blog as I’d like to be.

That preamble sets up something we tend to forget: The dog. Lexi, my German Shepherd, is an amazing dog. Incredibly smart, more obedient than I even understand, and a great companion. This week, I finally brought her to the new pad/office; our new home. We tend to think because we understand something, so will the dog. How ignorant we are sometimes! More than that, I think it’s how much we take our pals for granted. Even though I had brought her here to visit several times, for the first three days she pretty much had the runs. It’s called stress.

Remember that anything outside of your dog’s normal routine will cause stress. Sometimes its no big deal, sometimes it is. It depends on the cause of the stress, the intensity, duration and then just how your particular dog will react to those variables. She also ate less food for a couple days. Both reactions are perfectly normal.

Another way we take Fido for granted is that while we have meetings and work and all kinds of ways to help us or entertain us, all your dog has is you. We’ve had Lexi since May. In that time, I can’t think of a single “human” thing she’s gotten into. She just doesn’t touch stuff unless it’s specifically placed in her mouth. This week has been particularly stressful working with utilities and many, many meetings. Yesterday I was in and out way too much; every time allowing her out to do her duty. But when I got back yesterday, she had found a roll of masking tape and a carpenter’s pencil. Both items had my scent on them. Both were chewed to throw-away status. Many people think their dog is “punishing them” for a lack of attention. I don’t think that dogs think that way. I DO think, however, that my dog so craved SOMETHING from me, that she found some stuff with my scent on it in an effort to help her comfort level.

What did I do? No punishment whatsoever (Why punish the dog because I was an idiot?). I threw them away and spent about 30 minutes on the floor with her, petting, playing and giving her attention. The rest of the night she was under my feet, which is very unusual for her. Lonely? I think so.

Remember that you brought the pet into your home. They really didn’t choose you. We have to make sure we honor that responsibility. If you’ve never read it, we have a Pet 10 Commandments on our website. I didn’t write it. Many pet sites have borrowed it. Read it and remember; they need to adjust too!

The Difference Between Dogs

October 21, 2009

Seems I hear a hundred dog stories every week. From the cute ones to aggression issues to pains in someone’s life to just about everything in between.

While I am in transition and will end up with one dog, right now regular readers know I have a Golden Retriever (Murphy) and a German Shepherd (Lexi). They are so totally different, yet in many ways the same.

Murphy is a four year old boy. Think of most any toe-headed, rambunctious 4 year old boy and you have Murphy. Lexi is just over a year old. She is the consummate princess. Everything about her is “little girl” from the way she eats to the way she walks.

I’ve written before about how watching them play is like watching a Ferrari and a Pickup truck. They are a hoot to watch.

The very interesting thing however is how differently they approach situations. My oldest son loves to play with my dogs, especially when it involves teasing. So last night he gets out a small radio control car and is running it around the floor. Murphy has got to chase it no matter how many circles and twists the car makes. Lexi couldn’t care less; isn’t scared of it, pretty much just indifferent, and walks away.

When playing Lexi lays down immediately to conserve energy. Murphy stands there and pants. While I was working at my new office the other day, I took the dogs over and same thing: Lexi lays down across the room and watches; Murphy stands three feet away… and pants.

I’ve actually missed them this week as I spend lots of time remodeling. Sorry this is a short post, but I am jammed trying to get the remodeling finished. Hopefully, I’ll be finishing up this weekend and can get back in the swing of things next week.

Thanks for your patience!

Stories You Hear at Dog Events

September 29, 2009

Ho boy. How long THIS blog can be. I’ll try and keep it under 10,000 words. Okay, a LOT shorter than that! Spent most of Sunday at the “Mutt Strutt” event that supports the Stark County Humane Society.
==
But first a really cool dog video I just saw. Think our furry friends don’t think or feel??
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofpYRITtLSg
======
I observed a lot on Sunday. Several hundred dog owners and the requisite number of pets makes for very interesting entertainment. Was it Yogi Berra that said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”?

A guy with two Golden Retrievers, both at least 80-85lbs. walks down the middle of where we’re set up with booths. We all know Golden’s are very strong. He can barely hold them back (as in: can BARELY control them). He’s got a death grip on both leads. A lady in a booth holds out ONE treat for the two dogs.  One moment here:
    Really? Do people THINK anymore? Do people observe and try to use common sense? “I know, here comes a guy with two dogs barely under control- I think I’ll tease them, then be surprised when they tow the owner over to my booth and jump up on me.” OBVIOUSLY, “NO” to both questions.
The guy is actually smiling as this all happens. Either he is clueless, or the strain of pulling on the dogs just LOOKS like a smile! “Obedience” doesn’t fit here. Weird.
======
A guy with a dog that barks at other dogs every time it sees one (see previous observation on HUNDREDS of dog owners). So the dog pretty much barked at everything. You can tell he’s very frustrated. He’s using a Halti (which in my opinion are pretty much worthless) and the dog is barking. So he pulls the dog back to him, makes him sit, closes his mouth with his hand to get the dog to quit barking, and pets him (giving affection). Then they asked me why he continues to bark. Let’s review:
1) Using a collar that provides pretty much no real control over a dog.
2) When the dog barks, YOU close his mouth instead of training him to quit barking.
3) Giving affection to the activity you’re striving to stop.

Note to owners: you don’t give affection when the dog is misbehaving. Never. Ever. Well, unless of course you wish to NOT correct the behavior. Remember that affection to a dog is better than ANY treat you can give. Give affection to support good behavior.

======
A lady whose designer dog barks at everything holds the dog to give it security- so it quits barking: rewind to above. Dog barks, owner picks up dog, pets dog (“Good Girl, Sassy!! Thanks for Barking!!!”) Owner puts dog down only to be surprised when dog barks again. See above three points.
=====

To the guy with the 110lb. German Shepherd who was as gentle, quiet and well-behaved as they come: THANK YOU! And to the guy with the Pit/Boxer mix of the same description: THANK YOU, TOO!

=====
When I get home my two dogs, Murphy & Lexi, are running around the yard playing and wrestling. I’m reading a book, occasionally watching them. Suddenly I hear a different bark. There’s a cute little retriever mix running in the yard with my two. It’s not real sure it wants to play, but it wants to play. Thirty seconds later comes the young gal owner from a party down the street, calling for her dog to come to her. Short story is I tell her to squat down and pet Murphy. Sure enough, the dog being a golden mix realizes Murphy is getting more attention and comes over to get his share. I pretty much figured that would happen. So she grabs her dog and thanks me. As she pulls the dog up the driveway with her hand on the collar (yes, I wonder where the lead is too…) she starts to smack the dog and tell him what a bad boy he is.

If you read my blogs you know I preach about NOT punishing your dog. She must not be a reader. I called her back. I asked if I could ask a question, “Sure,” she said. I asked, “If I called you over here and gave you a dope slap, how likely would it be that you’d come back over, even if I use a really nice voice?” “I probably wouldn’t,” she said. “Exactly,” I said, “So when you call your dog and you get a hold of it, and you smack him, what do you think his motivation is to come to you next time?” She didn’t say anything but got the point. I told her that while it may seem very (humanly) backwards, even though the dog ran, when you catch him, praise him for coming and being a good dog.
1) Maybe next time he won’t run as quickly or as far.
2) Maybe next time he’ll remember getting petted and praised and come more quickly?!

Till next time!

Is Your Dog Really “Jealous”?

September 22, 2009

I take our dogs a lot of places. Various events all over the place. People are always coming up to pet Lexi & Murphy. I find it interesting how often I hear people say, “Oh… my dog is going to be soooo jealous!” And I always think, “Really?”

We pick up a thousand scents everyday that we’ll never smell, but our dogs will. I left yesterday for a non-dog appointment and when I got home our two were all over me, smelling specific spots on my pants and shoes. I’m fairly certain they were not jealous as there was nothing to be jealous of; short of me having chicken for supper that they didn’t – but then they never get people food, so why would they be? Okay, enough of that!

I am always amazed at how dogs will sniff, sniff, sniff, then razor in on a spot the size of a dime. Lexi, our German Shepherd, will sniff her food for the fish oil pill we give her. Ironically, at first I had to give them to her in peanut butter to get her to eat them. Now she finds it first (no peanut butter). Go figure. But in all the different food smells, she can pick out that fish oil tablet. You ever smell one? NO ODOR – to me at least, but Lexi knows it.

My point? You can read on-line most anywhere about how sensitive a dog’s nose is. Trust me, when you get home, your dog wants to know what’s going on and end up doing the same thing to you that they do to each other… they sniff! So quit giving your dog the human capability of jealousy and assume they are just curious. You know why?

They are!

This Dog is Uncontrollable!

August 19, 2009
Murphy at Sunrise

Murphy at Sunrise

Murphy, our Golden Retriever, was adopted a while back from a couple that “Can’t handle this wild-unruly dog”. You can read the story here: Our New Family Member. We’ve worked with Murphy using our standard methodology. As with the shoe-maker’s children, I don’t get as much concentration with Murphy as I would like. That said, the changes in his behavior are dramatic!

In case you don’t go back to the article above, when we went to adopt Murphy he was in a really small house with owners that wouldn’t walk him because he pulled so badly, jumped on everyone, and more. Murphy now has the run of the yard with Lexi, our German Shepherd. He still has a tendency to ‘blow through’ our yard border (no electric fence, just on-going obedience training) when he sees our neighbor lady out (he DOES love people), but is easily recalled now with just a whistle.

However, two things happened today that let me know Murphy is truly “in a different place”.

A friend stopped by today. He’s never been to my house and so Murphy has never met him. While Murphy was very, very excited, he never once even acted like he might jump up. Nice for the dog that “couldn’t be handled”.

Second was the gal that does some in-office administrative work for me. She always brings her baby. While getting ready to leave, she put her little boy down on the floor by Murphy (She knows Murphy!). Slowly he crawled over to the little tyke and very respectfully showed interest. The video isn’t great and will be re-processed, but you can see Murphy here and watch his reaction to the baby. And look at Murphy’s tail: a constant “I am sooooo happy” wag!! thump, thump, thump. Just remember this is the dog that “didn’t know how to relax or settle down”! Most facinating to me was when the baby reached for Murphy was his reaction to the reach and then his reaction when the BABY pushed on his head. I nearly cried! HOW COOL!!

Moral of the story: with the right training and attention, most dogs can learn basic obedience and learn respectful rules!

I think the video is proof!

The GULP Follow-Up #2

August 17, 2009

It’s now been about two weeks (give or take) with Murphy on the “Rock” diet. Okay, not a rock diet, but using the rocks in his food to slow him down. (See Dog Food and GULPing” and “The GULP Follow-Up” if you’ve recently joined our blog pack.)

We’ve an interesting development that I didn’t expect. When we first got Murphy, our Golden Retriever, he always had really Bad Dog-Breath. I’m talking, “You’re a nice dog, but PLEASE don’t pant anywhere near my face” bad.

One night I was on the floor playing with Murphy and noticed his “dog breath” is gone. I don’t mean it’s better. I mean he no longer has “it”. I can only assume from my vast experience with this technique (yes, the first application), that it’s due to his digestion of the food being better. What a great side effect!

“Ten Commandments” for a Responsible Pet Parent

August 7, 2009

We found this on the internet recently (in 1000 different places). We’ve attributed it below, it is not ours (emphasis is ours). However, when we read it, we can’t help but agree. 10 barks to whomever conceived this!

 “Ten Commandments” for a Responsible Pet Parent
(As told from a pet’s perspective)

  1. My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years. Any separation from you will be very painful.
  2. Give me time to understand what you want from me.
  3. Place your trust in me – – it is crucial for my well-being
  4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment. I only have you.
  5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I understand your voice when it is speaking to me.
  6. Be aware that however you treat me, I’ll never forget it.
  7. Before you hit me, remember that I have teeth that could easily crush the bones in your hand, but I choose not to bite.
  8. Before you scold me fore being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I’ve been out in the sun too long, or my heart may be getting old and weak.
  9. Take care of me when I get old. You too, will grow old.
  10. Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say, “I can’t bear to watch it” or “Let it happen in my absence.” Everything is easier for me if you are there.

Remember, I love you!

Attributed to: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas, May-June 1998

Our New Family Member

July 6, 2009
Murphy

Murphy

Several weeks ago, we met Murphy (a registered Golden Retriever) at PetSmart. A nice retired couple owned Murphy and were having trouble with his energy level. They’d had him for three years, (I found out this morning that Murphy is a registered purebred. How cool!) and as things go, were becoming more and more frustrated with their inability to manage Murphy’s energy level. 

There’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve witnessed with dogs and owners. We sometimes get “tired of it/them (the dogs)”. I KNOW dogs sense our attitude at any given time. And when we start to lose patience with them, we get more tense and a downward spiral has begun. They start pulling harder on walks; we pull back. They want to walk faster and pull us down the stairs; we don’t want to walk them as often. They get bored and chew our slippers; we think they are getting out of control. Then they pull really hard; we stop walking them. They get VERY bored….

Lexi

Lexi

We brought Murphy home and took him outside to play with Lexi, our German Shepherd. Lexi is a tad shy around new dogs. She was adopted as a stray from a pound, so we don’t know what her “other dog” experience is. But Lexi & Murphy PLAYED in the yard for over an hour. Poor guy is a tad overweight and, with all that fur, drank more water than we could track. It was great to see Lexi having fun PLAYING. It was great to see Murphy having a blast too.

Murphy and I went on a nice walk last night. By the time we got back, he was loose-leash healing and sitting on stop (on his own)! So when you look for help with your “high energy” dog, look to his activity level and maybe even your attitude!

Oh, by the way, yes we do bring dogs here to board and train, but this story has a cool, happy ending! In this case, the couple realized that maybe with their age advancing and Murphy needing more interaction and challenge, they offered to allow us to adopt Murphy! So now Murphy is running around our big yard with Lexi having a blast! This morning, Paula brought her dog, Sequia, over to play too, so all three dogs had about an hour of fun time. Thanks to the people who knew they were giving Murphy a great home!

PS. If you’re in the Stark County, OH, area this Thursday (July 9th), The Puparazzi Pet Boutique is having their grand-opening/ribbon cutting. Stop by and visit! We’ll be there with our dogs. Come and meet Lexi and Murphy.