While Sam is a purebred, he’ll always be my special “mutt.” Special in that he’s not too bright but also special in the way he interacts with people and other pets. Today on our morning run we stopped to visit one of his neighborhood friends, a chocolate Lab, named Moxie. She is very sweet and when she saw us, she began racing back and forth along the fence line trying to get Sam engaged. He was so excited by her running back and forth but just stood there, tail wagging furiously like a flag. Moxie was showing off to her buddy and Sam loved the show!
What did you do with your ‘mutt’ this morning? Here’s wishing you and yours a Happy National Mutt Day.
When I was invited by the fabulous ladies over at Campari and Sofa (http://campariandsofa.com/) to participate in this tagged blog, I was equally honored and scared to pieces. That meant my recently born little blog was actually being read (and by two women whose blog I truly admire no less–can you say holy &#@%!) and not just by my Mom. OMG…totally cool but…gulp (cue the scary music here), intimidating as all heck.
How does my writing differ from others in my genre? Anyone who writes a pet blog probably shares the same feelings for their pet as I have for Sam, yet my passion about his work as a pet therapy dog and how this wonderfully goofy fur-kid interacts with people is probably different from most pet blogs. Humor is the one connecting thread I strive for throughout the blog. My goal is to make every reader smile and feel better about life in general, but especially for those suffering from illness or injury. Sam and I have an enormous amount of empathy for what they are going through and hope to lighten their load, even if only for a few moments, so they can move on to whatever comes next. The same holds true for caregivers.
Why do I write? I wanted to share our experiences as a pet therapy team but little did I know how strongly I felt about it, particularly the “transitional phase” of hospice. To say I’m surprised has been an understatement. When a person arrives at that last door in life with no one by their side, it breaks my heart to see them move on alone. Sam and I are happy to hold their hand and hear the stories about their lives and their own pets as they embark on the next journey, wherever that takes them. We are happy to escort them out of the hospital and back to regular lives but are especially grateful to those who won’t be leaving yet who feel comfortable enough sharing their thoughts and personal stories with us. It’s humbling and rewarding beyond my wildest imagination.
How does my writing process work? With a great deal of luck! I try to look at life in general in such a way that others might be interested in what we are fortunate to see and hopefully have them positively impacted by our observations. Most of my ideas take shape as we take our twice daily runs where I mull and ponder life’s twists and turns. There’s so much to see and share when you look closely.
What I’m working on: My son, daughter and their families have recently moved (or are in the process of moving) away from Denver so I’m in kind of an emotional transition now. Not sure in which direction I’m headed as we’ve always been close, but in the meantime I’ll watch Sam and see how he reacts to our adventures and how I can share those experiences with others till I figure it all out. Sometimes I rant about people’s disconnection with each other through the advent of technology or on the thoughtlessness of people toward pets in general and have been accused of having ‘strong opinions about certain things.’ Frankly I don’t think we were put on this earth to dominate creatures, but to help steward their lives with compassionate care and love.
Please give a big hand to: So without further ado, let me pass the baton to my dear friend, the extremely talented designer/blogger/photographer, Anna from designpunk blog. (http://www.designpunkblog.com/). Anna is a world and life traveler with whom I was fortunate enough to meet happenstance at a bus stop in our neighborhood and where we became friends and shared an addiction to Nutella lattes before she moved to Japan. Anna secretly started a design blog ages ago that I only recently discovered by accident (you wily girl, you). She’s bright, charming, shares my twisted sense of humor and owns two gorgeous and quirky Boxers that Sam adores (even if Lulu doesn’t quite share his devotion). So with hugs to you and ear scratches for Klaus and Lulu…tag, you’re it!
We worked at the hospital over the weekend and thankfully we did not have a repeat performance of one of THOSE days where I managed to get both Sam and I all twitter-patted about silly stuff. And despite it being hotter than bloody-blue-blazes in the Mile High City, we encountered no problems this time. No drama, no meltdowns, no lost ID badges or misplaced keys. It was pawsome and Sam was a rock star [note to self: act more like the dog and live in the moment, but I digress].
One thing I thought about while we were visiting the hospital was why does Sam lean against people so often? I know–weird but haven’t you ever wondered why your dog leans against you? Come on, fess up, you know you do. Most people don’t seem to mind the leaning, they say something like “aw, he’s a leaner, just like my Rusty was…how cute!” So it got me to wondering why dogs do that, and especially, why does Sam do it?
There are a few theories about why dogs lean. Some folks suggest the dog is trying to dominate or exert power over its human. They believe that the dog is trying to claim space or control the situation. Then there are those who think dogs lean to feel safe. They need to feel secure and the close touch reminds them of their litter mate days which, when you think about it makes sense since dogs are, after all ‘pack’ motivated. I tend to think that most of the time though, the dog is leaning because he’s just seeking attention.
Dogs lean for all those reasons at different times. Careful observation when they lean can provide clues in determining just why. Specific instances show how dogs react to different scenarios. Take for example a rescued dog. He may lean against you to feel more secure [oh thank god, she’s still here to protect me!]. Other times they may be looking for reassurance dealing with loud noises or when they’re in unfamiliar territory or around strangers. And sometimes, they just want you to pay attention to them, much like when you get that nose jerk under the arm “commanding” you to pet them or throw the ball or whatever at that moment. And that’s all wonderful in my books.
in Sam’s case I do think he wants make that, craves attention. He just likes being around people and I can always tell when someone is especially high on his list of favs. We always check in at the nurses station to see if there are any patients who especially want to see a pet therapy dog or those that absolutely don’t (hey their loss, but whatever–not my circus, not my monkeys). I noticed our absolute favorite one was manning the station-a male nurse who just happens to be Scottish. Whenever I see him I’m completely delighted by his unbridled enthusiasm for people and his love of dogs and then of course there’s that wonderful lilting brogue! Sam adores him and when we saw him Saturday, the two of them greeted each other like two long lost BFF’s. He shared a couple stories about his own two dogs with me and I started to notice that Sam was leaning in pretty hard (while I’m just swooning at listening to him…I know, shameless-what can I say?). But his voice is so soothing and that accent–oh my stars!! He noticed Sam was leaning against his leg and chuckled out loud about it. “My Scottish Terriers don’t do that to me, it’s lovely that Sam does,” he said in that wonderful brogue (OMG, can you just hear it?). You’d have thought he hung the moon for Sam (not to mention for me) and well he kind of did. 🙂
After our chat we went off to visit patients and Sam seemed especially keen on leaning on people that day. He sat in front of a visitor in one room and leaned heavily against his leg. Everyone of the visitors in the room said “oh that Paul…dogs just love him” and I knew what they meant. He was kind and Sam couldn’t stop leaning and looking up at the guy. Even the patient commented on it and I think poor Paul was a bit embarrassed. No matter to Sam. It was heaven to this goofy Standard Poodle. And when my pup is happy, I’m happy. <3
So the bottom line I guess is in Sam’s case he probably does just want the attention. Then again maybe it’s his own way of giving attention back to a receptive soul. Either way, we’re all the better for it. Hope your weekend was as grand as ours. 🐾
Yeah, I did say that but it doesn’t refer to what you think it might. 🙂 Size doesn’t matter in the world of dogs. Big or little. Yet I wonder why do little dogs in particular have to be so freaking aggressive if size doesn’t matter? Is there truth to the ‘small dog syndrome?” Can dogs have a Napoleon complex? Or do we uprights “make” them aggressive by constantly picking them up and letting them get the upper hand because “they’re so little and cute?” We wouldn’t allow that kind of aggression from a big dog so why do these little guys seem to get away with it?
No disrespect toward little guys, but what IS it about those aggressive, noisy little ‘purse dogs’ you see? As I’ve said before, my ‘hood is very pet friendly. Almost any time of the day you will encounter someone with a stroller or a small kid walking along with their dog in tow on the way to the cultural square to enjoy lunch, coffee, dinner or a shopping excursion. It’s just how we roll. And it’s one of the nicer aspects of living in this old, well-established neighborhood. And every day on our walks we see a number of dogs and several of them and their owners have become friends of ours. On this morning’s walk, we encountered a couple of little dogs that we often encounter that were even more hostile than usual–barking, snarling and lunging toward us, so much so it was fairly alarming. Sam isn’t some hulking big Standard Poodle by any means (he’s actually a bit on the smaller size) and he’s certainly not intimidating. At his size though, he could easily snap those 10-15 pounders like twigs. But instead he’s balanced and calm around all the dogs he encounters which is probably why dogs (and people) like him. Good dog, Sam!
At this morning’s encounter he just stood there, tail not aggressively positioned, eyes and ears soft and looking pretty bewildered like, “gee, what did I do to deserve this?” I too was flummoxed. It’s not like we bum-rushed these cantankerous little dogs, or acted hostile in any way. So if size doesn’t matter, why do little dogs go all ‘up-in-your-grill’ belligerent…every. single. time. we. come. across. these two? Can anybody shed some light on that? I know some of you have small dogs, fill me in because I’m curious so I know how to handle the situation the next time we encounter those little demon dogs. Then again, I don’t know…maybe if I were only 8 inches high in a world of giants, I’d have an attitude too. <3
[Photo source public domain]
P. S. To my small dog owning friends and readers, this post in no way should be taken as a criticism of their pups. It’s merely an observation on a few pooches I have personal experience with in the neighborhood. Ok, those and that nasty little Min-Pin around the corner who terrorizes EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY. No one likes him! I personally know some of your small dogs and they seemed delightfully sweet. ❤️
25 years ago on July 12, 1989 (egad…am I really old enough as to have an “I remember when” moment?), one of the most delightful movies of all time opened in selected theatres across America. When Harry Met Sally debuted, it became the quintessential template for future romantic comedies. And who could forget that classic line by director Rob Reiner’s own Mom in the deli scene…I’ll have what she’s having?”
The movie (loosely based on Reiner’s own return to single life following divorce) examines whether men and women can ever be just friends and established a new way of thinking about everyday male/female relationships as viewed in the 80’s. All those back and forth, quirky one-liners we heard throughout the movie set the stage for an enduring and enjoyable film. Meg Ryan went on to become America’s sweetheart and Billy Crystal underscored his chops for impeccable comedic timing.
I, for one, hope that this weekend there’s at least one showing of this timeless film so I can at least record it for later viewing and relish all the classic exchanges between the title characters. Like this one: Harry Burns: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance. Sally Albright: Which one am I? Harry Burns: You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.😄
Wishing you a fabulous weekend. Just thinking about what to order the next time at a deli, makes me giggle a bit. ❤️
I don’t know about you but when a holiday falls on a Friday, I’m completely turned around the next couple days. Today feels like a Sunday. I keep thinking I should be getting ready for work tomorrow. 😟
Today is one of the hottest days yet this summer so I thought it only proper to share a great way to cool down your fur friend. And so without further ado or rising temperatures, here a frozen dog treat recipe that might make everything a bit better. As for what day it is, you’ll have to look at a calendar because I have no idea. ❤️
FROZEN DOG TREAT
100% pure canned pumpkin (NOT the one with spices!). Feel free to use strawberries, bananas, blueberries or other safe fruit for dogs.
fat free plain yogurt.
mix together, place in an ice cube tray, Freeze and serve.
This weekend we celebrate America’s independence. July 4th and I have a complicated relationship. As a naturalized citizen, I love being able to celebrate and share in all the wondrous aspects of being an American. But I admit, I mostly hate July 4th because of the fireworks. They’re loud, smell badly, hurt untold numbers of people, can damage property and send dogs into sheer panic. Having been hit by a bottle rocket as a kid and attended an event supervised by a fire department that went dangerously awry as an adult, you can probably guess where I fall at on topic of fireworks and the 4th of July. I’m with the dogs. I’ve spent countless hours trying to sooth wigged out pets over the years and it breaks my heart to see them so traumatized.
Most communities have professional events where they set off amazing displays to which I say go if you need a sparkly light show that goes boom! In the city of Denver, fireworks are illegal for homeowners to shoot off, fire danger and safety being the primary reasons. All of the metro area municipalities have displays at various baseball/soccer stadiums, concerts and other venues which you’d think would be enough for celebratory patriots. But that never seems to stop loads of ignorant and clueless people who merely drive to the suburbs where they can buy bags of fireworks and return home to set them off…for days in advance and days following the holiday. I first heard them this past weekend. “Uh oh,” I thought, “here we go again.” 🙁
In our ‘hood there is a kind of digital bulletin board (an online neighborhood watch if you will) where people can post pretty much anything. The police department likes it because it engages neighbors to be aware of people and things and neighbors like it because they can share service recommendations, get information about local happenings, etc. Lately it’s been dominated by the number of ‘lost/found dog’ postings. Some of those were dogs were spooked by thunder, but a lot of them were due to illegal fireworks.
I’m very fortunate that Sam is pretty non-plused by fireworks. True to his nature, he stays calm or as calm as Sam can stay since he’s pretty much a pogo stick of a dog, bouncing up and down with joy over the simplest of things in life. He only gets stressed whenever the vacuum comes out, always keeping an ever watchful eye on the dreaded ‘corded Dragon’ making a racket he simply cannot understand. My last dog however was so terrified by fireworks I used to think Finn was going to stroke out before we made it through the fireworks season. A friend of mine who used to live in the neighborhood has a couple of Boxers who also freak out whenever there are fireworks. We have commiserated and groused for years about the neighborhood clowns who shoot them off at all times of the day and night despite high temperatures and fire danger or the city ordinance banning them. The worst part has been we’ve been powerless to do anything about it or make things better for our pets.
So what can you do to ease a pet’s fears about fireworks? Behavioral strategies can include advance desensitization to the sound of fireworks through countless CDs or apps or distraction with high value treats and toys, though in both Finn’s and my friend’s Boxers’ cases, neither options were ever successful. Their only coping was through extreme pacing, whining, drooling, and hiding. Other advice suggests (a) using Adaptil, a chemical compound that resembles a calming pheromone found in the milk of mother dogs that can be diffused in a room or on a collar; (b) L-Theanine, an amino acid that may calm a dog neurologically; (c) the popular “Thundershirt” which fits snuggly around a dog (a-la burrito style) to help alleviate anxiety related issues; or (d) use of a pharmaceutical medication (but not a sedative which would only induce drowsiness and not change the feeling of intense fear). It should be administered before fireworks begin and then employ the other behavioral strategies.
Because July 4th is on a Friday this year, it makes for a nice long 3-day weekend. Woo-hoo! What better time to host a summer party with friends and family? And what 4th of July party isn’t complete without the requisite red, white and blue bunting or flags, burgers/brats on the grill, noshing of baked beans and chips, and homemade ice cream all washed down with some beer or wine? It’s probably the alcohol on the menu that contributes to the setting off of fireworks in my neighborhood but hey, what do I know about these things?
So this 4th of July, be especially aware of how setting off fireworks can affect pets. I say be patriotic…fire up that BBQ grill and have a cold one but please don’t set off fireworks in neighborhoods, especially where it’s banned. The fur babies will be happier and everyone will be safer, too.
There, I’m climbing off my soapbox now. 🙂 Wishing you and yours a safe and happy 4th. <3