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We’re in the midst of the last days of summer. Days are getting shorter. We no longer wake up to the sun in the morning. There is a chill in the air that has not been there since spring. You can tell fall is just around the corner.
That’s why the dogs and I are trying to make the most of these last few nice days. We’re spending more time outside, either at the dog park or playing ball in the yard. Jasper is happiest when he has a ball to chase.
I think that’s why this video resonated with me this week. It has that end of summer feel to it. Jasper can relate to this Golden’s love of tennis balls.
For me, Hurricane Katrina and my late dog Indy will be indelibly linked in my mind forever. While it was a disaster of epic proportions for the United States, and a deadly and devastating hurricane for the people of Louisiana and Mississippi, it was also the beginning of the end of life for my dog Indy.
Evacuations were going on in New Orleans. It was all over the news. Like everyone else, I was glued to the news, watching the city and state leaders plead for people to leave the city and shorelines.
I was also focused on getting my dog Indy into the vet. It was not a particularly memorable day that day I brought her in. I think it might have been beautiful and sunny, but I am not completely sure. I brought her in, she got her rabies, distemper and bordatella vaccinations. I bought her a treat and we went home. That’s it.
It was the next day that when it began. Indy had a seizure. I rushed her to the vet, where she had another one. They recommended we rush her to the emergency vet clinic to be assessed, because of course, it was a Sunday and the vet closed after noon. My mother came with me to the emergency vet. We sat in the waiting room for hours as they assessed Indy and treated other patients. The television was on CNN in the waiting room, where coverage of Katrina evacuations were in full swing. We watched the flow of vehicles leaving the city using all lanes of the highway to get out. It was something we had never seen before.
Indy ended up spending the night, but when she came home, the seizures continued, at first once a month, then once every couple of weeks, then once a week. Throughout it all, was the horror of what happened in New Orleans, on the nightly news. It was an epic tragedy playing out on our television screens, but a very real traumatic event for those living there. We might’ve been going through our own tragedy at home, but what the people of New Orleans (an their pets and children) suffered was so much greater. I cannot forget it.
In April of 2006, disaster recovery was in full swing. The devastation left behind by hurricane Katrina was undeniable then, the population of New Orleans had been cut in half, whole parishes were destroyed,and we said goodbye to Indy, who by then was having seizures every few days.
It’s hard to believe it has been 10 years since all that happened. Time has a way of healing all wounds, but also etching moments and events in your mind forever, like Hurricane Katrina and Indy.
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After a lot of long days competing for the Twin Cities’ Hottest Dog, we’re sitting back and reflecting on what really matters today.
- We’ll be able to go to bed early now.
- All my dogs are happy and healthy.
- Foster Maggie is making huge strides after a year and a half with us.
- The contest brought lots of attention to a great organization, Minnesota Sheltie Rescue.
- We truly have the most amazing friends around. Thank you to all of you who supported Jasper and voted your hearts out this past week. We were floored by your support.
Given how much we have to be grateful for, it seemed to be appropriate that this video came across my feed today. It’s a little different from past videos shared here on Friday, but once you hear it I think you will know why I shared it. Gratitude comes in many forms. This kind of gratitude (and relief) is one I think most owners can understand.
Have an amazing weekend and a wonderful Friday everyone!
One of the things I love most about rehabbing puppy mill dogs is watching them bloom and start to become real dogs. They might never become the dogs they were meant to become, but they get close as time goes on. The difference between puppy mill dogs and other dogs is that they spend a lot of time watching and absorbing everything around them before actually trying it themselves.
They act like little sponges, filling in all the holes left behind by their lack of socialization on early life, and then suddenly, a switch turns on and they start to put all the pieces together and act out the behaviors they have seen in other dogs.
Daisy was like this when I first brought her home. When we would go to the dog park, she wouldn’t interact with the other dogs (and most definitely not with people), but would sit and watch and observe them. She would take in their behaviors and the repercussions. She would watch how they played and drank and interacted with each other. From these observations, she slowly started to fill in the gaping holes in her knowledge of how to be a dog.
I still remember how she would watch her friends, Prince and Princess, drink from a water jug at the park. She watched them for weeks, and then one day, she tried doing it herself. It was clumsy and messy, but she tried. She pulled on her past observations of their movements and mimicked them as she attempted to drink water out of the water jug.
Cupcake has always been an observer too. She’s never had an issue with “speaking dog”, but interacting with humans was something she has always been fearful of, until recently. All those years of watching other dogs approach strangers for treats and a butt scratch has paid off. She is starting to mimic their behaviors. If you had asked me if Cupcake would let strangers pet her two years ago, I would have said NO WAY. But now? She does it more than I ever expected. And, with strangers too! She’ll follow behind them and wait for them to offer her a piece.
Maggie is no different. For the past year and a half she has been absorbing tons of information about her environment, dog behavior, and me. It started slowly with just learning the routines and knowing what to do when.
She learned how to put herself to bed at night by opening the kennel door herself. She learned that she gets fed in her kennel and being in it brings good things. She also learned that scritches feel good and now seeks out my touch daily. (I love her little nose nudges for attention.)
But even more recently, Maggie seems to have flipped a switch and decided that she wants to be like the other dogs.
Last Saturday, I updated the Sheltie volunteers (at our Sheltie Meet and Greet) on where Maggie was at in her rehab. I told them that Maggie had “watch me” and “touch” down, she had yet to learn “sit.” I also told them that she still needed a long line on when she went outside because that was the easiest and quickest way to get her inside.
I guess Maggie felt she had something to prove, because Saturday night I held out a treat and asked for a “sit” and she sat, several times! In the past , I had worked on sit without the cue word by holding a treat over her nose (like you do in puppy class) but each time it was met with nervous lip-licking and look-aways. It was too much pressure for her. She would back away or shut down. This time she not only sat, but she did it when I said the word! She had put the two things together on her own.
Then, on Sunday and Monday, I thought I would see if she knew the word “down” and asked for a down while also holding a treat near the floor. She did a down too! Not just once, but several times!
Then yesterday, Maggie’s long line broke in half while I was bring her inside. I groaned because I knew that I might be late for work since I would need to herd her inside. (This has taken me anywhere from 30-45 minutes in the past.) But apparently, Maggie had something else she wanted to show me. She took her usual route around the lilac bush and behind the chairs on the patio, but she went inside all on her own! I was shocked. She has never done that without me herding her in. Holy cow Maggie!
Last night I thought I would see if it was a fluke and let her out into the yard without a long line. Not a fluke. She did the same thing! She went right inside. On her own. And, this morning? She did it again. Could it be we are permanently done with long line? I hope so!
I am so proud of her. Maggie is pulling on all that information she has been collecting for the past year and a half and using it. Her sponge might not be completely full yet, but she definitely has filled a lot of holes. This is the very best part of working with a puppy mill dog. It makes it all worth it. Go Maggie Go!