Reading Kristine’s post (“Wordless Wednesday – Fence Friend”) yesterday on her blog, Rescued Insanity,brought back so many memories from my days as a pet sitter and all the dogs I got to know as I walked my client’s dogs in their neighborhoods.
In the morning, there were the two Yellow Labs that used to run with their owner – we would wave “Hi” as he jogged by and once in a while I would greet the if I arrived as he and they were leaving for their morning run.
In the afternoon, there was the black Lab mix who lived behind a brown picket fence and who would whine for us to come and greet her when we walked by. We always did and I often would sneak her a kibble or two. She was such sweet dog.
In the same neighborhood as the black Lab, was a Husky that loved to run along the fence with Marley (one of my clients) and sometimes, when she was feeling particularly frisky, she would hide behind the corner of her deck until we had gone almost the whole way past her house, then she would bolt and race to the fence to try and scare us. It never did, but it often made me laugh to watch her. She loved kibble too.
In my friend, Henry’s, neighborhood, there was a sweet girl named Blondie. She was a yellow Lab like my Daisy, and just like Daisy, the sweetest thing you could ever meet. She would often sit in her garage or in her driveway while her Dad worked on his car and then would wander out to greet us as we walked by.
The little guy across from Henry also used to run over to greet us if his owner was outside with him. He loved all the attention I gave him, even though he got more than plenty at home, and most certainly was happy to take a piece of kibble from me.
But, perhaps my most favorite was a Husky/Yellow Lab mix that I got to know pretty well. Annie was a sweet older gal who loved laying in the sun and napping most of the time. The only exception was when the kids were returning from school or when I would walk by with my clients, Marley and Bailey. Then she would “chuff “and sometimes bark, to let me and the kids know that we had to stop by and say hello, and you know what? We always did. She loved the attention she received from all of us.
Over time, I got to know this dog’s owner as well. A nice older gentleman, named Frank. We would often wave “Hi” and stop to chit-chat for a minute before I moved on with the girls. Annie was the love of his life and over time I fell in love with her too. There wasn’t a day we didn’t stop to greet her and give her a piece of kibble or two. She came to expect us and would wait by the fence for us as she watched us come up the street.
Then one day, she wasn’t there to greet us. I thought maybe it was too cold and she was inside laying on a nice warm rug, but the next day she wasn’t there either. A week later, I ran into Frank and he told me the news. Annie had gotten ill and had died. How sad. She had become my friend over that year and a half that I had come to know her. Frank and I both shed a tear over his girl as we talked, but it was hard. We both were grieving her loss. I still think of her and smile today. Like Kristine’s dog friend, she was my fence friend too.
It’s been a year since I left my pet sitting business, mostly for monetary reasons, but I still miss it. I don’t just miss the dogs and cats I cared for every day (I miss then a lot!), but I also miss the ones I didn’t care for but got to know along the way.
My fence friends.
Last night our local station, Fox 9 News, aired a great piece on dog attacks. I highly recommend watching it.
There were so many things I liked about this piece, it:
– Recognized that dog attacks happen with all dog breeds (they even mentioned the small breeds)
– Included an animal behaviorist from the U of M
– Discussed the dangers of letting leashed dogs greet one another (as a professional dog walker, I never let my client’s dogs greet other leashed dogs for this very reason).
– Spoke with veterinarians and a professional Twin Cities dog walker about the dangers of dog attacks
– Included information on why dogs who get out of fenced yards may be more dangerous
– Concluded with tips on what to do in case of an attack and linked to two videos on Dr. Sophia Yins’ website on dog aggression
Kudos to this news organization for doing a well-rounded discussion on the issue! I have rarely seen a news organization do a piece on dogs that was as well-informed and educational as this one was last night.
One of the things I most worry about are dog attacks. I have been in the middle of one between a client’s two dogs and it was one of the most frightening things I have ever experienced (by the way, pouring a bucket of water on them is what finally worked to break them up). I have also been charged by dogs who have escaped from yards before (in both cases, yelling “GO HOME!” is what worked). Even at the dog park, I am constantly watching other dog’s behavior to see what signs they are giving off.
One of the areas I avoid at my dog park, is the front area. Why? Because that is where (I know this will sound condescending) the uneducated and unknowledgeable dog owners hang out. It’s where I find the most frustrated and over-hyped dogs too. The owners who stand around while the dogs play are not helping their dogs. They are not exercising them either. They are are waiting for trouble to happen – they just don’t know it.
I keep my dogs moving when we are at the dog park. We don’t stand around. When I see trouble coming our way, I change directions or leave.
I know dog attacks will happen. They just will. But I don’t have to be a willing participant nor a sitting duck.
I hope people will watch this piece and learn from it. It was one worth sharing.
This weekend I was reading something that Pamela, from Something Wagging This Way Comes, had posted on her Facebook page. It turned out to be a blog post by Jodi Stone of the blog named (funny enough) Jodi Stone. Jodi was responding to Pamela’s post called “Do you have dreams for your dog?”
Pamela’s wonderfully thoughtful blog post asked:
If you had expectations for your dog, did they work out? Or have you had to shift your attitude and accept that some things would never happen?
What has been the best thing you’ve received from your dog that you weren’t looking for?
(If you get a chance, go read a few of the interesting answers to Pamela’s questions.)
Jodi’s blog post was a response to Pamela’s questions, but what really caught my attention was the alternating activity schedule she has for her dogs. Check it out:
In the winter on Mondays and Wednesdays they get a twenty-minute around-the-block leash walk, once the time changes and the days are longer, they will get at least a half hour hike.
Tuesdays and Fridays they get a half a day of daycare, and yes it’s true most days they don’t play a lot, but they are awake the entire time and it is a different type of mental stimulation.
Thursday nights are obedience class, which is where Delilah really gets her mental stimulation. Sampson just doesn’t care for it at all and I think I’m going to have Hubby start walking Sampson somewhere else, because I don’t think he should have to do it if he’s not enjoying it.”
What a great idea! Alternating your dog’s schedule probably adds more stimulation to their lives and addresses the monotony that comes with doing the same thing every day. Why didn’t I think of this??? Our schedule usually consists of a little training reinforcement in the mornings and a walk at the dog park in the evenings. But, maybe it’s too predictable? To boring? Maybe I need to switch it up a bit. Hmmm…..
Reading Jodi’s post made me wonder if anyone else was doing something like this with their own dogs. Do you switch up your schedule for your dog? Do you have a daily schedule or routine? And if you do, do you notice a difference in your dog as a result? What do you think of the idea of creating a schedule like Jodi’s to make things a little more fun for your dogs?