Monthly Archives: April 2015

Do Dogs Mourn?

The whole hee-haw gang, Sam, Puck, Eliot

The whole hee-haw gang, Sam, Puck, Eliot

There was a story in a local paper several months ago about a dog who was hiking in the backcountry when his master was injured in a terrible freak fall and died. When the hiker didn’t show up, people went out looking for him and found the loyal dog lying next to the body refusing to leave. Was the dog mourning the loss of his master? Some people thought so.

I thought about that story as I realized that 4 years ago today, Puck crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Sam was the third dog to join my merry little band. Back then I already had two Old English Sheepdogs as different as night and day. Eliot was the consummate worry wart while Puck was a strong-willed pill of a dog, hell-bent on torturing her big brother (and the rest of us, too!) at every opportunity. She tormented him in all sorts of ways and he always fell for her antics and head games. She’d engage him in all sorts of devious ways and he’d fall for it every single time without fail. I swore I once heard her bark “sucker!” when she got him in a particularly clever way. As often happens in multiple-dog households, there were times when the fur would fly and despite sibling rivalry, they were completely bonded to each other.

Sam joined our little circus as a young whippersnapper doofus 7 years ago and true to her bad little self, Puck continued her puckish ways on the naive little brother when Eliot wasn’t available by tricking him into giving up toys and favorite napping spots when she engaged him with her noisy barking etc., yet Sam fell in completely in love with her despite her devious-ness and food stealing. Like most brothers rationalize, that was his big sister and he loved her deeply despite her being so wretched to him and Eliot.

Sadly our fur babies don’t live forever. First Eliot passed away, then a couple of years later, Puck joined him. Both had been rescued from the Denver Dumb Friends and while their exact ages were uncertain, they lived with me over 11 years making them somewhere around 13-15 when they crossed the Rainbow Bridge. What was most unexpected was Sam’s reaction to each of their passing and especially with Puck. Though not close to him, he was mostly confused when Eliot died, he’d look for him throughout the house for some time but he had an even more dramatic reaction when Puck left us. He clearly was distressed and even depressed. He paced from room to room looking for the friend he adored. He moped around, refused to eat and did loads of heavy sighing when he realized he couldn’t find her. I tried to give him more attention, extra long walks and lots of ear scratches. It took nearly 6 weeks before he was his old goofy self again. One day on a long walk, he spied a OES walking across the street. I thought Sam was going to bounce right out of his skin trying to get to it. He was so excited at the thought of seeing his old friend again I guess and to this day he still looks long and hard at all sheepdogs. Who ever said dogs don’t have memories must not have ever had a dog.🐾

Have you ever had a dog mourn the loss of a beloved family pet? How did you handle it? How did your pooch deal with it?

Live, love, bark! ❤

National Kids and Pet Day

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Today is National Kids and Pets Day and was created by celebrity family and pet lifestyle expert, mother and pet lover, Colleen Paige in 2005. According to the webpage, this day is “dedicated to furthering the magical bond between children and animals to help bring awareness to the plight of pets in shelters awaiting new homes and educating the public about safety between children and pets.” The idea of guiding children to treat pets with compassion and teaching them responsible, safe interactions seems like a no-brainer to me yet we’ve all heard horror stories about caregivers leaving small children in particular unsupervised with the family pet.

Sam loves little kids. His gait quickens to check out any stroller along our walks, his tails wags furiously and he’s always patient letting kids pets him in our neighborhood and at the hospital. Being eye level with children, it’s especially my responsibility to make sure his interactions are closely supervised for everyone’s comfort and safety and I’m ever vigilant at watching his body language around them, checking for any signs of distress or unease. Too often adults leave children and pets vulnerable by not staying close by or by not seeing signs of distress in pets by ensuring a chubby well meaning hand doesn’t grab an ear or nose and pull too hard. It’s too easy to view the family dog as a 4-legged TV to ‘watch’ the kiddos. Supervision is necessary for both the child’s safety as well as for the family pet. We all know that children raised with pets tend to be more nurturing and compassionate and make better parents and pet owners once they’ve grown up but it’s our duty to make sure it’s done safely for both kinds of kids.

So celebrate the bonds between kids and pets today but know it’s your obligation to keep your pup or kitty safe around children. Diligence in that regard keeps our 2 and 4 legged kids safe and happy. So what special tips do you use to keep your fur-kid safe around children?

Live, love, bark! ❤

 

Velcro Dog

So I’ve been away on a much-needed holiday vacation with my family which meant that Sam needed to go back to the boarding kennel (remember the last time I was out of town-see this for all the embarrassing details). I was worried that another German Shepherd might be there and look crosswise at Sam and Sam would again be a bully but I was pleasantly and happily informed there were no ‘time outs’ for Sam (yay!). There were however, assorted ‘mountings’ (oy) but I guess you can’t win them all, right? Oh, the things that dog does to embarrass me.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

And while I had the most amazing time on the beach and sipping aged tequila, Sam has yet to leave my side since I came home. Whenever I try to do any blog work or catch up on the laptop, he straddles my lap and looks longingly up into my eyes with a please don’t leave me.”  I cannot sit down for a second without ‘Exhibit A’ jumping straight onto the middle of my lap which can be kind of inconvenient if you have to get up frequently to do anything and if I do get up, he follows me as if joined to my hip. When he’s on the furniture, he will at least lay next to me most of the time, but these days the little buddy has become ‘Velcro Dog’ and is quite stuck to me, literally and figuratively.

In order to get Velcro puppy back into the swing of his normal routine and off my lap we I eagerly signed us up for the first weekend possible to visit patients upon my return figuring it would be an easier transition for him. But yesterday I could tell he was a little off his game. Instead of his usual happy go-lucky “Hi, I’m here to cheer you up,” MO he was somewhat listless and decidedly distracted. Once in a while, all dogs will have an off day at the hospital but this was different. He wouldn’t couldn’t keep his eyes off me and never once looked for any extended period of time into patients or visitors eyes. Even with one of his favorite nurses at hospice he leaned against her but kept his eyes focused totally on me.  He laid down twice at the foot of a couple of patients beds like he was bored to tears. Poor baby, I felt so bad since I couldn’t do anything to help him out but pet him frequently to gently reassure him through touch and try to carry on conversations with patients. For this inveterate introvert, that ain’t easy.

We had several requests for visits in addition to the floor we were assigned which was full with patients. That meant it would be a long day and poor Sam struggled throughout. We came home and Sam took a very long nap and slogged through our evening walk, continually checking in with eye contact rather than the usual sniff fest with nary a second glance my way.

Today he was a tad better; there seemed to be a bunch of kids at the hospital and that always seems to brighten this simply minded pup’s disposition. Still he kept focused on me. One woman who had requested a visit both yesterday and today remarked how “in-tune” he was to me. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I think he’s suffering from abandonment issues from my absence.

Do I feel guilty about leaving him at the kennel in order to ‘pawty’ in Mexico with family? Sure, a little. But when you see a beautiful early morning beach like this, tell me that it wasn’t worth it. Go ahead, I dare you. 🙂

Mazatlan, Easter

Mazatlan, Easter Sunday

Does your pup get out of sorts when you’re gone for extended periods of time? How do you handle it?

Live, Love, Bark! ❤

Dog IQ

Hoppy EasterIf you’ve followed us for a while, you know how I’m always remarking that Sam is a bit of a doofus. We recently took a Dog IQ test and discovered (at least where treats are in the mix) this sweet goofball hound scored mostly high on this test. To say you could have blown me away would be quite an understatement. I’ve always pegged Sam as a pretty dumb pooch. Maybe today’s test was an anomaly, and maybe Sam is just more stubborn than dumb, either way, I guess it’s a good thing to realize he isn’t as retarded simple minded as I thought he was!

While he’s still no Einstein, he is a lovable mutt and both the patients and I sure love him and I’ll take that any day! 🙂 I’m in Mexico now but I’ll be home soon to share some thoughts about traveling.

Live, love, bark!

A dog’s love

Recently I read an article from Cesar Millan who was quoted as saying, “There’s a saying that goes, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” That saying by the way, is incorrectly attributed to Lao Tzu for those keeping track of such things-even Cesar noted that. If you are interested on the history of that and other Lao Tzu misquotes, check out this website. 🙂

I’m guessing you could add to that last part…living with a dog.  We certainly know that dogs bring us peace, joy and happiness.  They ask for nothing in return and give everything of their soul. They don’t look back or forward, they just stay in the present. Some day I’m hope to be half as good as my dog thinks I am. Till then, I’ll try to keep it real in glorious Spring.

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Live, love, bark! ❤

 

Life Advice

image  Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Learn from it; tomorrow is a new day. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

i came across this Emerson quote recently and it reminded me how dogs deal with life. Never looking backward at the past, never looking forward to the what if’s…it’s always about the present.  Great advice for us bi-peds, too. 😉

Live, love, bark ❤