You can call me a lot of things, but a political commentator I am not. That was until the Mutts blog on the Baltimore Sun declared that Obama was a Great Dane and Hillary a Labradoodle.
I spent the last 24 hours weighing this hefty issue.
How many of use have wondered what our dogs would be if they were people?
Charlee would most assuredly be the bitch at the beach who snarks at the teenagers for getting too close to her towel, while reading great literary works. She would be the party hard on the weekend type of girl who holds a high powered job, and makes more than a few subordinates miserable along the way. Charlee would mess with people's heads just for the sport of it, and see a shrink every week. She is a work hard, play hard kind of gal.
My daughters and I have declared Finney a science nerd, complete with calculator and a pocket protector. He would be the kind of guy who is book smart, but lacks a little in the common sense department. Not unlike my cousin who teaches at Harvard, and had three members of my family get a van to help her move her brand new couch on a Saturday morning, only to find the couch was too big to fit up the stairs. Finney would be the guy that everyone liked in high school, but no one dated and everyone wanted to marry at the high school reunion. Slow bloomer type.
But what of our candidates? In group class last night I asked a long time Dane owner what she thought about Obama being a member of her breed. Quote, "well that must have been written by a man." Laugh out loud to that one! Why yes it was written by a man. She went on to tell me that Danes are too silly and would have little interest in politics. Agreed.
I was thinking Pointer, a hard working dog, but I hadn't really hit it on the head quite yet.
So I asked the class what about Hillary as doodle? They all agreed that was in insult to her. I was thinking terrier, or even standard poodle, but still the fit on both candidates, just wasn't quite right.
So....are you ready for this...I consulted the all powerful all knowing on line CATS The (C)anine (A)lgorithmic (T)ransfer (S)ystem, What breed of dog are you game from the movie Gone to the Dogs. They were dead on when they pegged me as a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog three years ago. Smart, more mellow than the other herding breeds and great with kids.
Oh I thought, this is genius.
I painstakingly filled in question after question and Hillary is a
"This adaptive dog wants to, and can, do all the jobs on the field".
Yup I thought, dead on.
So it was with a light heart that I plugged in Obama's info and he came out a Kuvasz. What?!? A WHITE guardian dog?!? Well that was close but no cigar . So I pondered this dilemma more and more and it hit me at about 3 am. this morning.
Why on earth would Obama be a pure bred dog in the first place.
He is an "All American" pure and simple.
Speaking of voting. Dont forget to vote for your favorite blogger at the Portland Phoenix
Talk to anyone who works with dogs and they all will agree to the same phenomenon.
Clients come in the weirdest of cycles. More often than not, there is a common similarity in any given week's work that is down right mystifying. I have had weeks where I have seen 7 Mastiff clients, all from different breeders and for different reasons. Oodles and oodles of doodle weeks, puppy weeks, dog bit my kid weeks, my kids are scared of the dog week, no one can come to my house week, help I am having a baby week, I need help with my pet store puppy week. There have been group training classes that fill with small dogs only, big dogs only, and shelter dogs only with no input from me. Recently I have had several puppy play groups where the entire group was filled with fearful and shy pups. Interesting to note that not one of these puppies would have been able to attend a normal rowdy puppy play group, but together they all helped each other be brave and learn about the world.
It goes on and on.
This last week's common thread was a new one to me.
I am coming off J- baby week. Nearly everyone who contacted me had a name that started with the initial J. Or a spouse that had the initial J and even dogs that started with the letter J. Nearly all calls were baby proofing and either they were expecting or had wee ones at home.
I have been saying for years that I wish I could some how figure out how to play these cycles in the lottery. Maybe someone can help me break this secret code that appears just out of my reach. These cycles are not unlike when you here the same song for a weekend, all in different places that you haven't heard for years.
Weird you know?
With my brain not being as young as it used to be I found myself getting quite a few of the J folks mixed up in head. I left two silly messages on people's answering machines where I laughed out loud while catching my mistake mid sentence. Thank goodness my new 08 black planner helps me keep everyone straight.
Today's blog is brought to you by:
Jane, Jamie, Jasper, Jayne, Jeremy, Jewel, Jill, Jim, Jingles, Jt, Jodie, John, and June Bug.
It seems that every time I start to entertain the idea of a "major purchase" something breaks. You all know what I mean don't you? I am not sure if the universe waits until I finally have enough cash to replace something, or if the universe is intentionally trying to keep me down.
My computer is dead, and I can't live, work or blog without one. Did my computer's demise have anything to do with the fact that I was jealously eyeing one of these way cool dog beds/shelves from Pottery Barn that Holly just added to the entrance at the Brown Dog Inn and the fact that I was entertaining the idea of getting one for my house?
What I was really thinking of is having one built. I like the look of the white, but I thought wood would fit better with our house and my dog's choice of mud as a lifestyle. I have already looked ahead into making my garage a dog mud room come mud season . Why I didn't do this before, I will never know. All it will take a little spring cleaning and a gate and the dogs will be able to hang out and dry right next to my office and then I can hose the room down. Really who ever heard of putting a car in a garage anyway.
The good news is, I have bartered for computer service and should know by next week just how dead the computer is. Hopefully I will be able to retrieve the hard drive and my son will continue to let me use his new computer for a few more days. Either way, lap top here I come.
Now I all I need is a carpenter with a dog who is looking to make a little trade.
Ok, news flash. It is cold.
How cold is it?
It is so cold that the dog's breath is freezing to my windshield and I had to scrap it off FROM THE INSIDE!
This after I warmed up the car for quite a few minutes.
Frozen dog breath on the inside of the car windows needs it own word to describe such an abomination.
Anyone got a good sniglet for this?
The person who can come up with my favorite sniglet to describe frozen dog breath will have their dog featured here on A Dog's Life!
Please don't let that scare off your creativity. You may choose to remain anonymous.
Ok- I'll start.
What about pice? (pup ice)
used in a sentence...
"Honey-fetch the ice scraper there is pice on the windows again".
"Don't take the dogs in the car today, we might get pice".
This picture of Charlee in front of my house goes out to all of you living in warmer climates and for those of you who have moved away and actually miss Maine winters.
Take a good look at the picture and you will see the snow is higher than our regulation basketball hoop. We live at the end of a cul de sac and the kids usually have snow to play in until after Easter.
It is hard to believe that Brewster has lived for more than a year after being diagnosed with Lymphoma. I no longer believe anything that I did has helped to keep him well. I think he is just one amazing dog. Brewster the amazing Golden, who has been my friend for most of his 9 years, seems to have taken a turn for the worse.
Right now at 4 am, he is outside on my deck and refuses to come in. He won't even lick peanut butter, his all time favorite food, off of my finger and, well of course I am just plain sad. He doesn't appear to be in pain. He is not limping, has none of the open sores that I have worked so hard to keep under control for these last months, but he just looks distant. He looks like he has given up. I will continue to try to get him to eat today.
Like the rest of you, I have no idea what food to buy for him. Several months ago, I would have bought premium canned food, but right now, my head is flooded with images of pre-recall people and their sick pets. Pets who were in renal failure from eating poison pet food. These poor folks were doing what I will doing later on today, coaxing and cajoling a sick dog to eat so they can live another day. The thought of giving Brew poison food on my hands and knees along with the rest of you who have done that is just plain sickening. Have you heard that there are more recalls likely? GRRRRRR.
Brew's family is home for the season on the 22nd and I sure would like him to "go home". This dog has rallied more times than I have ever seen, and I am not giving up yet, but it is hard not to think that this is the end of the trail for Brew. My Vet said at his last visit that Brewster just didn't read the Vet manual. Some dogs are like that.
Please think good positive thoughts for Brew , and for me and the kids while you are at it. My kids are just so sad...
Finney, my young Collie boy was at the Vet yesterday. He has conjunctivitis, tested positive for Lyme, and he broke an outside front toe nail that is infected. This morning he is going under anesthesia to clean it up real good and remove the nail. Am I nervous? You bet! That is why I am up typing at 4 Am!
Finn will need to be kept quiet for a while. Possibility a month, depending on how he heals. He will come home with a bandage and an Elizabethan collar. That should be fun keeping a young active dog quiet. Good thing I am toy testing two new busy toys. The Hi.Q, (invented by a woman in Portland!)and the Treat stick. So far I am loving them both. People have begged me many times to write about how to keep a recuperating dog calm and quiet. You can bet there will a "how to" blog coming up next week on that one!
On another note, I came...this close to adopting a rescue Border Collie this weekend.
I was convinced that this dog was meant to be mine. A third dog would stretch any Mom's budget and as my good friend Sandy said in an email this morning "Fate will step in and let things happen when they are ready to happen. The time and the right dog will come".
Fate steps in...get it? Finn's toe? Yesterday in the vet office it sure seemed like I was getting a "message" loud and clear that the time is not right for a new dog. Finn's vet bill will be well over what I would have paid for the new dog and it just wouldn't be fair to Finn to add a new dog while he is munching Kongs in his crate on bed rest
Guess that's that - for now!
Shot this afternoon with my cell phone at the end of my street for my Dad in Florida to show to all his friends. When I spoke to my parents the other day while it was snowing, somehow they kept translating to each other that we only got 5 inches of snow. So I ask you Dad....does that look like 5 inches of snow to you?
Does it look like it melted by morning? And does it really look like I didn't have to shovel it? Does it look like it is going away any time soon?
Official measure by my next door neighbor....13 inches!
This weekend A Dog's Life reached a major milestone, when my good friend Donna posted the 1000th comment in the comment section. Donna and I "met" when we both worked for a " training chain" back in the 90's. She in Ohio and Me in Mass. We started to write privately to each other after we realized that we had many shared opinions in regards to training dogs, and which members of our on line training family were total bozos!
Over the years, I cannot think of another person who has given me more support in both my personal and business endeavors than Donna.
Donna encouraged me to write for a local paper when I moved from Boston to Portland five and a half years ago. She pushed me to contact the Casco Bay Weekly (now defunct) and thus I began my new past time of writing about dogs. She has edited untold articles for me, yet we have never met.
I know her life story and she knows mine. We have often joked that we will meet one day on Oprah when Oprah does another story on "net" friends; people like us who have become fast friends due to the net.
I often refer to Donna as a best friend I just haven't met yet.
As a thank you, I have ordered Donna her very own FURminator, but truly it doesn't come close to covering the years of friendship, kvetching, and last minute edits.
(insert graffiti, dropping and popping balloons and a loud polka band)
I try very hard to be a positive sort of person. I try not to dwell on the negative, and I always try to look on the bright side of life and to carry on as best I can. But waking up on my birthday Monday really pushed me over the edge of the happy cliff.
O.K., how would you feel if you woke up on a big birthday? You know, a scary number year. The kind of year where your first thought of the day, before your eyes are even open, is that you need to sell the minivan and buy a 2-seater BMW convertible and cancel your work day so you can have your hair done.
I know that isn’t going to happen…so I hit the floor with both feet to start my day. The time is not quite 6 a.m. and I am, of course, pre-coffee. I barely take ten steps before my heel hits an unexpected slick spot of doggie doo on the hardwood floor, sending me skidding on my heel (just like my nine-year-old does in her wheeled sneakers) three-feet across the floor, coming to a halt in the living room and looking very much like a Flamingo in shock.
The dogs cock their heads and send puzzled looks my way. Is she dancing?? I glance at the cable box for the time display and discover it’s flat-lining. Guess I should have paid the bill before I left on vacation... O.K., now I’m beginning to worry. What kind of new birthday year am I in for?
The dogs continue to watch me and I’m certain I can hear Charlee snickering. I haven’t found my predicament as entertaining as they apparently have, so grumbling to myself I head for the bathroom to clean up. I clean up the floor and let the dogs out; however retrieving them from the yard presents a new challenge. Finney is missing and has broken out of the yard. He has joined forces with my neighbor’s Golden Retriever, and is fence-running, all the while barking his wonderful shrill head off. It isn’t even 6:10 a.m. yet.
So I get my boots and jacket and head across the deep snow to snag him. Back in the house, I start brewing that elixir of the gods – Java – and proceed to wait for more bad things to happen.
For the rest of the day I keep expecting a new disaster, but nothing further occurs.
The slick spot on the floor isn’t repeated. The dogs aren’t sick after all. I fixed the fence and paid the cable bill. My Dad calls to wish me a “Happy Birthday!” He asks "Did you get hurt"? "No," I say. "Did you fall in it"? "No," I say. "Do you know how lucky you are? "You’re going to have a very lucky year" he says.
I guess that’s where I got my optimistic side from.
Bet you thought Cupid was a dog eh?
No blogs this week-On vacation!
Across the great pond, Charlee is causing a little bit of stir on this blog's sister site, It's A Dog's Life. Do you think I should write to Murph and tell him what a great dancer Charlee is?
Although I don't even come close to getting all the British references, The Murphmeister is still laugh out loud funny.
This photo of Murph at work was lifted without permission from his blog
In case you have noticed the lack of blogs this week, here is why.
Lots of germs pass through my home. I have three kids. Need I say more?
Last week one of my kids had an early case of the flu. The rest of us got sick but didn't miss work or school.
One of my client's dogs was diagnosed with Kennel Cough (Bordatella) at the same time. I am getting sicker with a nasty cough that is barky and quite distinctive.
Three people yesterday jokingly asked me if I had Kennel Cough, but not before I wondered the same thing myself.
So I came home and goggled Kennel Cough, and yes apparently humans can get it! Usually it is those with compromised immune systems. I had pneumonia two years ago, so I guess I fit the bill for that. If I am worse tomorrow I will go to the doctors but it got me thinking...
If I do have Kennel Cough, can I pass it on to my client's dogs? Tomorrow (Monday) I would come in contact with about 15 client's dogs so I need to know!
Comments most welcome!
Look what we got! More on Freddie, a 7 month old Maltese soon. He is here due to a work schedule change of a friend. Think good thoughts that we return him safe and in one piece. Right now I have Freddie's teeny crate with the door open, in Finney's large crate (door shut)so he can move around. I didn't feel comfortable with his puppy playpen, because my dogs and kids could easily get IN.
Please wish us extra luck, it is after all Friday the 13th.
Your sitting in a waiting room all day waiting for your car to be fixed, when in walks a rowdy year old Boxer. Dog is wet from the rain, pees on the floor, and is allowed to meet, greet and jump on just about everyone in a six foot radius, and the dog has no manners. Then said Boxer starts to bark and whine, so the owner calls the dog up on a chair to try to quiet him. Owner then blames the dog's bad behavior on her old boyfriend.
Anyone see what is wrong with this picture?
Hello! If your dog is in need of manners, the place to get it is not where I am getting my car fixed. Even my four year old gasped; "Your letting that dog on the chair? My Mom is a dog trainer and you need help".
People - if you insist on taking your dog to a public place, please set a good example because you are representing all dogs. Your dog's bad manners will get us all banned.
I have had dogs in waiting room many times and each time I keep my dog away from customers unless they ask, and if the dog gets fidgety, I take it outside.
Plus if I am annoyed and I am a dog person, what about the people who are not? Show some respect!
After my daughters little outburst, the owner then asked me for training suggestions. Anyone surprised that she didn't listen to a single one?
I felt like the guy whose job it is to make the donuts, and he is so sick of making donuts that he doesn't want anything to do with donuts anymore. By this point, I wanted nothing more to do with this dog. Waiting room at the sixth hour does not make for a happy Mommy, or happy trainer.
Clearly, it's not the dogs it's the people.
In the last few days I have seen a huge jump in the number of people who have signed up to be notified via email alerts when A Dog's Life is updated. It could be that readers want to win the highly coveted MaineToday.com Frisbee prize offered in the 'Where's Charlee?' contest. Maybe they want to be the first to read the clues and get a jump on other ferocious competitors...
But more likely you have found your way here via syndicated pet columnist Gina Spadafori's plug of A Dog's Life Blog over on her great blog Dogma.
For the record, while the first contest was specific to those of us who visit off leash areas in Portland, there will be soon be photos of Charlee visiting places of local interest, and it will be possible to win even if you have never been to Maine (if you are a good Googler).
The first 'Where's Charlee' location was correctly identified by Susanna of Dogs Deserve Better who has requested that the Frisbee be set free at the Ocean Avenue Dog Park.
The first day of spring may not officially be sprung until March 20th, but spring fever sure has struck at my house!
Spring bulbs are already popping up everywhere around here...
Ruby, a Rotti pup visiting with us for a few days, proudly shared with me a dead frog that she found off the path in the woods, that surely had been covered in snow and ice for some time. Here she is with the poor frozen being.
Charlee and Ruby had a full tilt romp and both my four year old daughter and I couldn't stop smiling while we watched the two of them race and tag.
Walks in the woods with overjoyed dogs is a good cure for whatever ails ya.
Best part about spring fever with out the actual spring?
No hamsters were harmed during the taking of these photos!
We have been laughing really really hard, since the day that the dog discovered the ball we bought our hamster Tater-Tot for Christmas and Charlee turned the hamster into her new and unique game of hamster soccer.
Relax, I monitored the game very closely and the dog was very gentle. Game over as soon as Charlee started to get excited, and well before she got carried away. Please do not try this with your hamsters, my dog is well trained and has a reliable "off" switch, and the dog and hamster are good friends.
For several weeks I have been toying with the idea of blogging how we can teach our dogs behaviors simply by laughing. Herding breeds tend to have great senses of humor in my experience, and they are quick to learn both the good and the bad with very little encouragement of the chuckling kind. Charlee has learned some really intricate dance moves just by hanging around when I danced in the living room with the kids. The more we laugh the more into it she gets. Some of the jumps, twirls, and airs above the ground she 'offered', I have easily put on cue. The more we laugh, the wilder she dances (really!) I explained to my tricks class recently that it is like the beginnings of dressage with horses.
Intricate moves were later developed based on what the horses in the field performed naturally while at play. One day when I have more time, Charlee and I will strut our stuff in the Freestyle arena.
Is there anything, good or bad that you taught your dog while laughing?
Please post it here.
I noticed today that I'm starting to feel better. It happened about the time that my dog brought me a tennis ball for a quick game of catch. She didn't put it on the floor or fling it at me as usual, but instead brought it to the couch and interrupted my movie by placing it gently beside me with an expectant look.
Not that I was surprised.
Dogs most definitely have a sixth sense and Charlee's has been working overtime during my recuperation from stomach surgery. She gets up when I get up and follows me ever so carefully to wherever I need to go, settling down nearby. Currently she is sleeping under my desk.
My doctors orders are to not lift more than fifteen pounds. But I couldn't stand the pleading look in Charlee's eyes as I was refilling the bird feeder so it was with some trepidation that I put a halter on her and took her outside for a quick walk around the yard. I have written several times about how my dog can be reactive and will often act without thinking. But even when the neighbor's Beagles rushed their invisible fence baying loudly, she stayed by my side.
Not that I was surprised.
There is that unspoken something that can pass between man and beast. It didn't just "happen" between Charlee and I though - we earned it over time. It was during this illness that my dog crossed the invisible line from "Just Dog" to "Heart Dog." Heart dogs do not come along every day as any dog person will tell you. I have been fortunate to have had two - Dina was my first. I never thought I would have another one. Most people are lucky to have just one in their entire lifetime. A heart dog makes you think you could never own another dog because your heart will break when you loose them. A heart dog has an inexplicable connection to you - and you alone.
Charlee joined our family at a very difficult time as my Dina was dying from a brain tumor. There were times when I resented Charlee for being so alive, difficult and downright awful when my perfect (heart) dog had left me. I remember when I first started bringing her to agility lessons. My friend made the most appropriate comment saying, "Working through things with the tougher dogs can be the sweetest. Besides, anyone can train an easy dog. How boring!" I rolled my eyes just as Charlee lunged at the nearest dog and I thought again "What have I done? What was I thinking?"
Charlee has been a great learning experience for me. Not only did she do all the things that my students' dogs do - like jump up on the counter to steal food, pull, run away, and nip (Hard!) - but she also had psychological issues and would lunge at other dogs or get so high I couldn't calm her down. I even discussed the idea of trialing her on drugs with the vet. At times she reminded me of a thoroughbred race horse, snorting and prancing about with uncontrollable excitement. My Dad tells anyone who will listen how she didn't like to be petted or touched for the longest time. But he's equally quick to brag, "But just look at her now!" No one in my family let her into their hearts for the longest time and we would look at her and wonder to ourselves why she was with us when Dina's life had been cut short so early. We were all thinking it.
When I consulted two good trainer friends of mine for help with several behavior issues they both said the same thing. "Just because you can help the dog doesn't mean you should. Maybe you should send her back to rescue?". Of course I said, "No way." Maybe Charlee wasn't the level-headed demo dog that Dina had been, but I learned TONS from her about what it is like to live with a reactive dog (and a smart one at that). She has taught me many lessons that have proven invaluable to me as a trainer and in helping other people with their fearful and reactive dogs. Reading about it, watching a training video, attending seminars for reactive dogs just isn't the same as living day-to-day with the uncertainty of a reactive dog.
When I was at Maine Med last week I had the honor of a therapy dog visit and that was a wonderful experience. But my real therapist is sleeping right now under my desk. So if Dr. Charlee says I am well enough to throw a tennis ball around for a little while today, it must be true! She knows me so well...
Dina and Charlee