Friday, December 31, 2010

How will your dog celebrate New Year's?

If you have a dog and plan to celebrate New Year's with a loud party, will your dog be celebrating too?  Probably not. The reason why I say this is because noisemakers may get him or her excited enough so that he or she barks for much of the time, adding to the commotion. Barking may not be the biggest problem. Some dogs get so excited that they pee wherever or throw up in the darnest places. Now between the pee and puke, you're likely to have a real problem going on at some point over there.

I hate cleaning up any kind of mess that an animal leaves behind, don't you?

I think that I would first try providing a quiet place for my dog to relax and sleep instead of forcing him or her to be the life of the party. God, with all of that barking, and singing and puking and peeing, a migraine is inevitable. Plus, the guests might take the initiative and start doing their own thing too, especially with a few drinks under their belt. If you're not careful, the whole thing becomes a mad cycle, beginning with dog that barks, then pees on something or someone's leg, causing that person to spill some whiskey on him, causing him to get even more excited and....and....

So much for my nightmare.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

My attempt to get Aries to do what I want instead of what he wants

Aries is really a good dog. He reminds me of Ferdinand the Bull who only wanted to enjoy and smell flowers. Aries is laid-back like that. He has the looks of a pit bull, but the heart of a good friend. That's why I don't mind walking him occasionally.

But he does get his moments in which he refuses to budge when he's found something interesting on the ground or just wants to savor his surroundings. This is really nerve-wracking, especially when he refuses to get back up and resume his walk with you. I began to get tired of this and decided to train him a little to do what I want.

The next time Aries didn't move, I didn't try to tug his leash in order to make him move. He got back up, but began to move in the opposite direction. I didn't give in, but stood patiently, waiting for him to see things my way and begin moving in the direction that I wanted him to go. After one or two minutes, he stopped resisting and began walking slowly toward me. Seconds later, we continued walking in the desired direction with no problems whatsoever. My stubbornness outlasted his.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Good-bye to a long-time dog owner

Today, I learned from my sister that my aunt (my mom's sister) passed peacefully in her sleep. I'm a little shook up right now and know that if I had a dog, that dog would probably sense how upset I was. The dog would probably sit near me and perhaps lick my hands or face. I would talk to him or her, saying that I was glad to have him or her nearby as a comfort. I'd also say other things, such as how close I was to my aunt during my whole life and how thankful I was to be able to visit with her about two weeks ago.

I would probably sit with the dog, unable to sleep tonight.

Of course, I would explain how I missed my aunt, but know that she's in a much better place and that she will always be close. She also loved dogs and owned a terrier-mix for a long time named Skippy. The amusing part about Skippy was when my aunt mentioned the word, bath, to Skippy, he would growl and show his teeth. My aunt loved all animals, especially dogs and helped to convey her love of animals to her nieces and nephews. In fact, I will just bet that she is with her sister and brothers who predeceased her AND Skippy!

Perhaps if I was able to sit with psychics John Edward and Sylvia Brown, I would learn that my aunt, mom and Skippy are right behind me, sending their love from the Other Side.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

discussing dog preferences

On Christmas evening, my cousin and her daughter and sister were discussing dogs. My cousin's daughter was holding and kissing her basset hound and saying how much she loved the dog. Eventually, we talked about the kinds of dogs we loved or loathed.

I mentioned that I thought a St. Bernard would be a great dog. I happen to like the way St. Bernards look, but nothing else about them, such as their temperaments. To my surprise, no one laughed and told me that I had to be crazy for considering a St. Bernard. A few other dog preferences were discussed, like someone mentioned a preference for a rottweillor, but not for a pit bull. I like rottwillors, especially the one that my sister owned some years ago. The dog's name was Roxy and she was a real sweetheart. Never pulled on the leash or growled or acted crazy.

But I stuck to the idea of maybe owning a St. Bernard, which would create a stir in my neighborhood and would be a hoot to own. Maybe intimidate a neighbor's forever-barking dog or the neighbor herself. But she probably wouldn't notice because she always looks like she's high on something.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I don't want to go out vs I WANT to go out now. Do I have to lift up my leg?

So yesterday, my sister and I visited a cousin. My cousin's daughter owns a basset hound, a cute, affectionate dog with brown and white fur. She dressed the dog up in a little Santa outfit, minus Santa's hat. But the dog looked good anyway. As we sat and talked, the dog walked up to each one of us and was patted on the head. It's got brown soul-ful looking eyes that would make anyone's heart melt.

Of course, the dog eventually needed to go for a walk once and some time later, again. Her owner gladly took her out for that walk.

At that point, I had second thoughts about owning a dog. I'd have a real dilemma. I'd be relaxed and mellowed out and comfortably resting on the sofa, reluctant to get up off of it. I'd even say something like, "Awwwwwwwrrrrr, do I HAVE to go for a walk NOW?" And the truth would be, yes you would. Exercise is good for you. Come on, come on, because I've really got to pee."

I just pinpointed why I haven't got a dog yet.

Friday, December 24, 2010

let your dog be Santa for a second

My vote would go to one of those breeds featuring shaggy hair, perhaps a terrier?  And how about a Chihuahua wearing a Santa hat?  I bet that would be the cutest picture of all.

If you were to make a Santa hat for your dog, would you poke two holes in it for the dog's ears to show through?  Or would you kind of squash one part of the hat over one ear and leave the other one open? The important thing to consider is whether your dog will let you place something on any part of his body, including his head. I know that trying to place a hat on a cat's head would not work so well, having tried to do so myself.

This is something to think about doing for today, Christmas eve. You don't have to send the photo to anyone, but place it in a photo album. When you look at it again next year, you will have many happy memories.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Even more cartoon dogs I love and wish that they were real

Marmaduke, that large and awkward-looking, goofy-looking dog is one of them.

Two others are Lady and the Tramp. Can't pick a favorite between these guys no matter how hard I try. Lady looks so sweet and caring, while Tramp seems so brave, reckless and strong. It's hard to choose. I'd take them both.

As much as I like these dogs, I still like Bryan in Family Guy so much better. Bryan can drive a car, fix breakfast, read the paper, converse intelligently. He's an ideal family pet. Long live Bryan!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Adopting a shelter puppy vs a shelter dog

Yesterday, I found and read a book on adopting a puppy from a shelter. Since there is more uncertainty in adopting a shelter puppy, there is naturally more to think and do in that regard than there probably would in adopting an adult dog from a shelter.

Still, I think that some of the suggestions are applicable to would-be dog owners. Those potential owners, including myself, should find out what they can about a given/chosen dog's background. Unfortunately, this information is not always provided to shelters because it is either unavailable or because the shelter is more interested in placing a dog in a regular home.

Another suggestion I liked was that you talk to the dog. Call him or her by name (the name assigned to him by the shelter) and see if the dog responds, and if so, how. You can also observe whether the dog you've chosen is aggressive or not and guess how much training or additional care it is going to need. Of course, you'll get a copy of paperwork regarding shots, age, and information about any physical disabilities. And usually, there's little need to scrutinize (I think) the relationship between you and the dog. However, it would be a good idea to find out if your chosen dog would get along with any other pets, such as cats, that you may have at home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Do dogs need to wear sweaters outside?

I think that it all depends on how thin or thick a given dog's fur coat seems to be. A dog such as a husky mix just loves cold weather and romping around in the snow. But a greyhound or other dog who doesn't have a shaggy coat would tend to freeze faster, in my opinion.

Of course, I've put myself in the dog's place, imagining myself to step outside for a walk with my human and boom, feel the cold whoosh at me the minute the door opens. To explain this a bit further, I would have to research, but off the top of my head, I think that it is safe to say that such a dog would quickly dodge back inside the house and resist his human's urging him to go out for a walk.

Dogs may think differently, though. I've seen them being walked in the coldest temperatures, and they all seemed to take things, including the cold, in stride. But I'm sure that if any of those dogs were left outside for any length of time, they would feel the cold and shiver in it, pretty much the same as people would.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My favorite cartoon dog

I just love Bryan on Family Guy.. He acts like a human, does human things like read mail and newspapers, and is more practical than Stewie. He's also funny. But most of all, he's a perfect dog!  He's fairly independent and finds his own ways to amuse himself. Of course, when Bryan gets himself in a ridiculous adventure, he sees through it all and winds up being a hero or at least comes close in being one.

I would also love to own a dog like Bryan, if that were ever possible. He'd understand what I was saying and respond back with a comment that would make perfect sense. He'd be calm and logical, while not imagining me as the source of his meals or even A meal, lol.

If I could ever create a dog like Bryan, I'd make sure that my creation would have a lot of Bryan's characteristics, including his personality. He would never be another Bryan though.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dog toys at Christmas

I was looking at dog toys at PetSmart for Christmas. Basically, I focused on a section of squeaky toys. One toy was a dog wearing a Santa hat and squeaked if his tummy was pushed. There were other toy animals, such as reindeer and turtles. The number and variety of toys for dogs is amazing at Christmas time.

The squeaky toys are populat, I suppose, because their squeaks do attract (real) dogs' attention and sort of motivate dogs to play.

If I ever do get a dog, I've got to experiment to see what kinds of toys he or she prefers AND uses. That way, I can save money and time shopping, or maybe not. I was also thinking that there should be some kind of exchange for dog toys. If my dog didn't like a squeaky toy, for example, I could exchange it for a frisbee or rope toy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dry food can actually do this!

My sister was buying dog and cat food today at Petsmart. I was with her and bought some food for my cats. Then we reached a point at which we decided to buy dry food, and asked what food was the best. The sales associate asked the pets' ages and whether they were indoor or outdoor pets.

Then came the amazing part.

We were told that a given brand of dry food, one for dogs and the other for cats, actually helped to reduce the size of poops!  I didn't know that. I had no idea that any given pet food, dry or wet, could do this. But then again, there are so many varieties from which to choose and those varieties cover various issues, such as intestinal health and the like.

So with the discounts and all, my sister saved a few dollars buying dry food for her dogs and I saved a few dollars buying the same brand for my cats.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Why should Mike Vick be trusted with any more dogs?

In a recent interview, Mike Vick repeated his apology for his cruelty to dogs and expressed a wish to own another dog. However, he is forbidden to do so, I think, for good reason. What if he cannot overcome a temptation to abuse the animal and perhaps hits or beats that dog?  He reminds me of a wife beater who keeps apologizing for his misdeed and promises that he will never, ever do it again.

But unfortunately, he does. And just as unfortunately, it will happen again and again until the animal, in Mike Vick's case, winds up dead. Mike Vick has lost his credibility as far as his possible ownership is concerned. He should not be trusted owning any animal. He's better off with a stuffed dog.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

That dog in the (open car) window

A potential dog owner, I would never even consider leaving the passenger window of my car wide open. That is, enough to allow my dog's head to stick out and the dog to suddenly bark and startle passerby and cyclists and whoever.

There's always a chance that a startled pedestrian or cyclist will lose his or her focus and become injured. That is the owner's fault, by the way, not the dog. In a situation like that, the dog doesn't know any better and will hang out, sniffing the air and so on, but bark randomly at strangers on foot or on bikes. Plus, the startled humans are likely to become annoyed and tempted to throw something at the dog. Hey, this hardly happens, but there is always a first time.

At the same time, the dog runs a higher risk of being injured by a fast-moving car. The dog could also try to squeeze himself or herself out the window to pursue another animal or human. If more dog owners realized these potential hazards, maybe they would think twice about leaving their car windows on the passenger side wide open.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Barking dogs

Everytime I walk past a certain house in town, I'm always startled by this rather large dog that runs to the gate, stands on its hind legs and barks up a storm. I'm also sure that the neighbors next door are startled as well. What really gets me is why the dog's owners even think of leaving their pet outside for so long in 19-degree weather, with the wind blowing and all. That sounds inhumane to me, and I suppose that if I were in that dog's place, I'd bark loudly too ---- because I'd be freezing cold.

Aside from this issue, I have found that quite a few dogs bark in the early morning hours. They bark at passerby. They bark at cyclists, of which I am one. And the best part about this is that when one dog starts barking, others begin to bark also. That pandemonium must drive neighbors crazy.

If I owned a dog, I think I'd be more considerate and keep the animal indoors, protecting it from the freezing temperatures outside. And I'd find out as soon as possible why the dog was barking so frequently and then do something about it. Dogs have a reason to bark. There can't be that many people walking or cycling past in a given hour or so.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I like Border Collies, but......

In my search for a dog, I confess that I did consider Border Collies. But now that I've read more about this breed, I regretfully have to keep searching.

Border Collies are active and friendly BUT they get bored easily. Dogs that are bored tend to bark more often, trash items in the house, act aggressively and all of that. These dogs need a variety of active things to participate in and I'm afraid that I could not provide such variety.

But I'm still looking. At this point, I am focusing on getting a dog that is a good companion and is ok with being laid-back and enjoying the comforts of home.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

DON'T give a dog as a gift during the holidays

Imagine that you like puppies and dogs. But one day, one your friends or family members surprises you with a "gift" of a puppy or dog. After all, you like dogs, right?

Yes, you like dogs, but are in the middle of a hectic time, what with shopping and fixing the house, and so on. And now, in addition to all of that activity happening in your life right now, you've got an extra responsibility --- caring for a dog. How fond of puppies and dogs are you now?

So whatever you do, avoid giving animals as gifts for the holidays, especially to people that may not really appreciate them. Instead, make a donation to your local animal charity/shelter instead. Or consider sponsoring a puppy or dog. Believe me when I say that the money will go to good use. And you'll feel good supporting a very worthy cause, especially now in hard times when many pets are given up simply because their owners could no longer afford to support them.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How about those adoption fees?

A shelter will charge an adoption fee for whatever dog or cat you select, but these fees tend to vary. Basically, the fee covers veterinarian and other related expenses. But a lot depends on the animal you select also. If, for example, a dog has received all required shots and has been fixed, the fees are generally higher than for a dog who needs blood work or other treatment.

Lately, fees tend to be higher, but overall, still within reason. They are effective in deterring pet abusers from adopting.

Most of all, many shelters are righttfully concerned that a potential adopter will treat a pet right at all times. Put yourself in the shelter's place as you view this person. You don't know him or her. Hearing them say that they'll care for a pet doesn't mean anything, really. Same thing if you decide to sell your pet. Who are you going to trust?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Punishment for killing a police dog

So on a recent talk-show a few mornings ago, the issue of how severely a killer of a police dog should be punished was being debated. A lot of callers thought that the guilty party should receive maximum punishment, that the dog should be considered a trained police officer.

I agree, but like a few other callers, still cannot decide how severe that punishment should be. My first reaction was throw the killer in jail and throw away the keys. Let him rot in jail. The poor dog never got a break, but it may turn out that the lowlife who committed the crime will. Where's the justice?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shelters do it too, ie., take in dogs with negative traumatic experiences

Yesterday, I've bought up the topic of adopting a dog whose background included trauma. Would knowing that a trauma could possibly affect the dog's behavior towards his owner in a negative way? I believed that it wouldn't.

And today, I'd like to bring up an example of a shelter whose experience includes working with animals, dogs and cats who've experienced mental and/or physical trauma in the past. That shelter, North Shore, based in New York, has managed to successfully rehabilitate those animals and then adopt them out to loving owners. Very often, this is a long and expensive process. There are multiple trips to the vet, medicines to buy and administer, and lots of loving care in-between. But it's worthwhile.

For my part, I believe that dogs adopted from shelters prove to be trusting, loving companions. Some dogs, because of their temperaments, may take a little longer to get used to their new home, but they come around eventually.They seem to be far more appreciative.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adopt a dog whose past involves trauma?

Someone posting in the forum at inquired about the  possibility of adopting a collie/shepherd mix whose puppyhood involved trauma. The poster said that the dog caught his eye and he was strongly considering adopting the pet.. The poster was also a first-time dog owner.

Another poster replied that the dog's puppyhood's traumatic experiences should have no bearing on the collie/shepherd mix and expressed the belief that such dogs make good pets and are easily trainable.

I was happy to see this post, even though I am a potential dog owner, as it brought up an aspect of dog ownership that I had not thought of! Sadly, not all shelter personnel know everything about a given dog. The shelter takes in the dog, brings him to the vet for an examination and shots before putting the pet up for adoption. The staff rarely knows the dog's complete history. What you wind up doing is in effect, buying a pig in a poke.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Latch-key dog

I'm fortunate in that I can work at home and can be there for my pets. So if I owned a dog, I could easily provide quality time for it on a daily basis. I'd feed and play with him or her;  as soon as my work was done, I could take him or her out for a walk. There's a field nearby and during non-rush hours, we could jog over there and back.

I would have a problem if I had to be away from home much of the time. When I had an office job about ten years ago, I left for work about 7:30 in the morning and returned home around 6 or 6:30 pm. My dog would be home during that time (if I owned one). He or she would be considered a latch-key dog. Of course, I could take a day off now and then, but my time would still be limited. I'm only saying this because there may come a time when I may have to work in an office.

Monday, December 6, 2010

(Wet) dog's in the house!

Another concern, although a small one, is having to wipe off a dog whose feet are muddy or wet. If this chore isn't done immediately, and the dog runs through the house, the floor is virtually covered with dirty or wet pawprints throughout. No fun at all to clean up or even think about cleaning up. A real downer.

Then I've noticed that the minute a dog steps back into the house, he or she shakes himself or herself, splattering water or mud or both all over the place. If you're standing too close, you get a bonus shower to boot. Where is the justice?

I suppose I could manage this if my dog's fur was relatively short, as I could wipe him off with an old towel and check to see that his feet are dry. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. But it's worth it. Your dog loves you no matter what, so why let a little thing like a few pawprints stand between you and your dog?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Two concerns of a would-bel dog owner

Although  I feel very positive about the possibility of one day owning a dog, I still have two misgivings. The first one concrns barking. I know that dogs bark for a reason. Maybe they are frightened or bored or angry. That might be okay, but I've also read somewhere that dogs stop barking on their own, usually. So what happens if a given dog keeps barking?  How do you get him to stop before the neighbors start complaining? And trust me, some neighbors won't hesitate to complain. They have nothing better to do and crave some excitement in the neighborhood. So for them, a barking dog is a perfect excuse for complaining.

The other misgiving concerns training. How much training does an adult dog really need?  Is it better to train him yourself?  I've never had experience training dogs, so what do I know?  Does a dog's breed dictate the way training is done or not done?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Everyone knows Chloe....

My sister has had her dog, Chloe, for a long time now. Everytime they go for a walk, Chloe just seems to know exactly which neighbor will give her a lot of attention and a treat. And somehow, the neighbors seem to know when she's likely to be around for a visit.

There are several houses that Chloe knows where to visit --- and be rewarded. Aries, the other dog, will follow, though much of the time, he has his own little agenda and will just mosey along.

Now my neighbors are different. They, for the most part, are not really friendly and could care less about any dog that I might own walking past their homes. And even if they are out, the neighbors focus on whatever they happen to be doing at the time. I wonder if they would change if I had Chloe with me for awhile and begin to be friendlier. Somehow I doubt it. But maybe a sociable, nonbarking dog like Chloe would know and be able to motivate those humans. On the other hand, maybe not.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Life is dangerous for police dogs too

There was a story in the news today about a thief robbing a Chinese diner and running away. The police were called and dispatched one of their dogs to catch up with the thief and the dog did. However, it and the thief struggled. The thief grabbed the dog, a German Shepherd, and threw him in the middle of traffic on a busy highway. Needless to say, the dog was killed.

In another equally tragic story, a policewoman left her dog in a car, windows closed, on a hot July day. She assumed that her husband would arrive shortly and pick up the dog. As things turned out, the husband had to deal with an emergency immediately and could not reach the dog in time. The dog died in the car. This tragedy was so unnecessary because the husband could have used his cell phone to call his wife and let her know that he couldn't make it.

I think that more attention should be devoted to the safety and welfare of these highly-trained, loyal dogs instead of using them as cannon fodder. They shouldn't be exposed to situations that could prove fatal to them. They need a break too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

things to think about before you adopt a shelter dog

A few days ago, I wrote a post on adopting a shelter dog. This has got to be the ultimate way to save an animal's life and making a friend whose love for you is unconditional.

Before even visiting one or more shelters, you should know in general what kind of dog you'd like to bring home. That is, do you want a large or small dog, a dog that will coexist well with another dog or cat, a dog that will protect your home when you're away, a dog that's good around kids, a dog who is rather young or a senior dog?

To get some answers, consider your present situation. For example, is there just you at home or do you have a spouse?  If you have a spouse or live-in companion, would that person likely enjoy having a dog around?  Too, there is a question of being able to support your chosen dog and providing it with love, companionship, food, shelter and other things.

These considerations need to be all taken into account completely and honestly, and will help you narrow your search even before you visit a shelter. Here's to a successful match!