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The Top 13 Dog Blog Posts of 2013

December 31, 2013 27 comments

IMG_1443It’s become an annual tradition for me to end the year by sharing those blog posts I thought were most touching, interesting, or emotionally powerful throughout the past year. There was no shortage of amazing writing in 2013.

You may not have the same posts on your list that I have on mine, but I hope you will find them worth reading and sharing.

Have one of your own you want to share? Please do in the comment section below.

Happy New Year everyone!

1. Why Supervising Dogs and Kids Doesn’t Work  and My Dog Got Kicked Out Of Daycare Today by Robin Bennett Yes. Robin had two great posts that made my list this year.  The first one covers an issue near and dear to my heart – dogs and kids. The second one covers another topic I wish all dog owners would heed – not all dogs are made for dog parks or doggy daycare. Both are worth reading.

2. A Cautionary Letter by Nancy Tanner – I remember the first time my friend Nancy directed me to this post. I had such strong feelings after reading it – anger, sadness, despair. If ever there were an argument for people to better understand training methods and their impact on fearful dogs then this is it. Trust me, this will leave an imprint on your mind.

3. What My Dying Dog Taught Me About Life by Alisa Bowman of Project Happily Ever After – Even though I read this post in January, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterwards. It is a loving, and at times funny, tribute to a dog who loved well and was well-loved. I cannot help but think that Rhodes left an imprint on many a reader (like me).

4. What Does It Mean to Give Your Pet a Good End? Maybe Not What You Think by Edie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me? – Too often in this world we judge one another based on what “we” would do vs what is right for the person in question. Edie takes on an issue that is often considered taboo in pet lover’s circles – should you be with your dog when their life ends. She handles the issue with her usual class and grace, but makes a great point that I think we could all stand to hear.

5. What’s in a Name? A whole lot of bullshitittypoo by The DogSnobs writers – Okay. I admit it. I really do love The DogSnobs. I love that they have a  no-holds-barred kind of writing style and an I-don’t-give-a-sh*t-what-you-think attitude. This particular post makes fun about all the silly names breeders have given designer dogs. Want to read more? Here are a few that made the Honorable Mention list:  Owner Profile: The Distracted DingbatYour dog isn’t being friendly. He’s an asshole. And so are you., and Put it back, you don’t need that! a.k.a. Picking the correct breed is important. Don’t fuck it up.

6. This test that you keep using…… and Beware the Straw Man by Linda Case of The Science Dog – Although these are two posts in one, they are really linked. Both deal with the issue of canine assessment tests used by many shelters and animal control centers to determine if a dog is adoptable or destined for euthanization. I admit I have a bias on this issue since Daisy and Jasper likely would have fallen into the latter category if they had not ended up at my shelter. Thank goodness they didn’t.

7. What it’s like to meet an angel… by Kaylee Greer of Dog Breath Photography – I first read this story on Kaylee’s Facebook page and was moved to tears. Her big heart and giving nature made one woman’s painful day a little brighter. She later posted it on her blog and I read it all over again. If you haven’t seen any of Kaylee’s photography, it is magical, whimsical and beautiful. You can see some of her work on her blog and on her Facebook page.

8. The Four Phases of a Positive Reinforcement Trainer by Katie Hood of When Hounds Fly – Even though I am not a dog trainer, I could completely relate to this post. In any ways it was the post that created a light-bulb moment for me and changed my overall response to animal welfare issues in general. If you have ever worked in the animal welfare arena, it is worth a read. You will find yourself nodding your head in agreement or holding up that figurative mirror of self-reflection.

9. Chasing Sunsets by Leo of Kenzo the Hovawart (and Viva) – This post may have touched me more than most because it was by a fellow dog blogger and friend, but I thought it would resonate with many of you who have recently lost a beloved four-pawed friend. Recently, Leo and his family went on a journey to retrace the steps he had taken with his late dog, Viva. I thought it was a beautiful follow up to her story.

10. They Never Told Me I Would Love the Snow by Kristine Tonks of Rescued Insanity – Anyone who has read Kristine’s blog knows she has a talent with words. This one in particular is a special one. It’s like poetry. Beautiful and visual.

11. Do Some Dogs Need a Heavier Hand? by Nicole Wilde – Nicole is well-known in the dog training world, but what I love is her unique way of getting a pout across by allowing you to examine the issue from all angles. Here is one particular post that resonated with me this year.

12. Chix-A-Lot Friday: Fostering as a New Years Resolution by Aleksandra of Love and a Six-Foot Leash – I love this post simply because it is so thoroughly covers all the things one should think about and plan for when fostering a dog. If you are considering fostering a dog, read this post first. It can help set your expectations and help you prepare ahead of time.

13. Letting Go Of Ruby: A Lesson In The Dying Light by Lisa from Going to the Dogs – Even though this is a more about her mother than her mother’s dog, their tales and lives are woven together. Poignant and heartfelt. Written beautifully.

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Do pets really tell you when it’s time to say goodbye?

October 9, 2011 292 comments

I recently had a conversation with a friend who said that pets always tell you when it’s time to say goodbye. I had to be completely honest and tell her that I had yet to experience a dog telling me it was time.

It’s true. I have never had a dog or cat tell me when it was time. Not that I doubt that it happens. I’m sure it does. It’s just that I’ve never experienced it myself.

A friend of mine is going through this very same situation right now. Every time she starts to think it’s time to say goodbye, her dog rallies and makes a comeback. There is nothing like a dog rallying back from illness or death to make you doubt yourself and your decision-making process.

I have experienced this very same thing with each of my dogs. Every time I would be ready to say goodbye, they would rally back. The worst is when they are still there in spirit, but their body is failing them. I am always filled with doubt – Is NOW the right time? Is it too early? What if I’m missing something else that is wrong with them and I say goodbye too soon?

Part of me wonders… Am I just too close to the situation to see the signs? Do I refuse to see what they are telling me because I don’t want to see it? It’s definitely a possibility. And yet, when I look back I can honestly say that none of my dogs “told” me that it was time. I always felt like I had to make the decision for them, and each time it devastated me.

So, I want to hear from you. How did you know it was the right time to say goodbye to your pet? Did your pet tell you? And, if so, how did they tell you?

 

Note: This post has taken on a life of its own since I first posted it back in 2011. I am grateful for those of you have comforted others and helped them to know when was the right time. One reader shared this in the comments section. I have shared it with many a friend who told me later that it was helpful. I encourage you to read it if you are struggling with this question too.

Here is the link to that article:  How to Know When It’s Time to Euthanize Your Pet

 

It appears the link to the article has been recycled, so I am sharing the words here. I would give full credit to who wrote it, but Yahoo took their name down as well. I hope it will help you as you make the difficult decision to say goodbye. Thank you to Coni for sharing it first.

Remember that pets live in the moment. One of the most wonderful things about animals is how they embrace the present. Every time I walk into my house, my faithful Vizsla throws a one-dog ticker tape parade. The fact that I have entered the house thousands of times before, or that I will leave again in a few hours, means nothing. All that matters to him is the joy that he feels right now.

When our pets are suffering, they don’t reflect on all the great days they have had before, or ponder what the future will bring. All they know is how they feel today. By considering this perspective, we can see the world more clearly through their eyes. And their eyes are what matter.

Ask yourself important questions. Sometimes, articulating or writing down your thoughts can make the right path more apparent. Some questions that help pet owners struggling with this decision include:
• Why do I think it might be time to euthanize?
• What are my fears and concerns about euthanizing?
• Whose interests, besides those of my pet, am I taking into account?
• What are the concerns of the people around me?
• Am I making this decision because it is best for my pet, or because it is best for me because I’m not ready to let go?

Measure their quality of life. This is no more than trying to determine how good or bad our pet’s life is at this moment. Trying to assess this can be difficult, but there are some ways you can try and evaluate it. Let’s take a look at a few of my favorites in the next section.

Is Life a Joy or a Drag?

Our pets may not be able to talk to us and tell us how they are doing, but if we pay close attention, there are many clues that can help us answer that question.

The Rule of “Five Good Things”: Pick the top five things that your pet loves to do. Write them down. When he or she can no longer do three or more of them, quality of life has been impacted to a level where many veterinarians would recommend euthanasia.

Good Days vs. Bad: When pets have “good days and bad days,” it can be difficult to see how their condition is progressing over time. Actually tracking the days when your pet is feeling good as well as the days when he or she is not feeling well can be helpful. A check mark for good days and an X for bad days on your calendar can help you determine when a loved one is having more bad days than good.

HHHHHMM: Doctor Alice Villalobos is a well-known veterinary oncologist. Her “HHHHHMM” Quality of Life Scale is another useful tool. The five H’s and two M’s are: Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Happiness, Hygiene (the ability to keep the pet clean from bodily waste), Mobility and More (as in, more good days than bad). Dr. Villalobos recommends grading each category on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being poorest quality of life and 10 being best). If the majority of categories are ranked as 5 or above, continuing with supportive care is acceptable.
Pet Hospice Journal: Keeping a journal of your pet’s condition, behavior, appetite, etc., can be extremely valuable in evaluating quality of life over time.

A Tale of Two “Endings”
The reality of having older pets is that we must be vigilant in their care and aware that every day is a gift.
In the case of my long-ago patient, Stone, with whom I first walked this path, I am glad to say that he did not suffer unnecessarily with osteosarcoma. His owner made a good decision, and Stone crossed the rainbow bridge while in the loving arms of his people. He was remembered by them as a strong, loving protector of the children in his family, and I will always remember his owner for having the strength and wisdom I hope we’ll all have when the time comes to say that final goodbye.
http://shine.yahoo.com/pets/know-time-euthanize-pet-162100593.html

Top 10+1 Favorite Blog Posts

September 6, 2010 10 comments

I’ve been finding some great blogs lately. Most I found through other bloggers who shared a list of their favorite bloggers on their blogs.

All I can say is there are some really awesome people out there doing some really great things!

I thought I would take a twist on this common practice (of sharing favorite blogs and bloggers) and share my favorite blog posts (not all animal related). Each of them was chosen for the powerful message they had to share. I hope you find them to be inspirational, thought-provoking and informative.

Top 10 Favorite and Most Powerful Blog Posts:

1. A Social Media (and Life) Lesson I Learned From My 12-Year-Old: This one comes via Brian K. McDaniel (@bkmacdaddy on Twitter). I love this blog post because of the universal message it has for us all (whether you are a social media person or not).

2. Passage: Dr. Jessica V is a vet who writes from the heart. This blog post left me thinking – how often do we make judgements about others without knowing the whole story. Read and find out.

3. Fear of shipping:Seth Godin is known worldwide (if you haven’t heard of him you will want to check him out). This post spoke to me because as a small business owner, I often have to face my own fears and overcome them. I think his insight applies to everyone and anyone who has let fear stop them from doing what they were meant to do.

4. Magnet word poetry pulls a family together: Kakie Fitzsimmons is a mom, an author, a blogger and social media expert. This post was more visual, but the message was powerful. Another great post on her blog is Is your home a soft place to land?

5. Let’s be fair: Mary Doane is a dog owner, turtle expert, and nature educator. She also created and runs Project Nature. Mary took in her first foster dog, a fearful dog named Aaron, this year. Her commentary on shelter dogs and purebred dogs is powerful and yet reads like poetry at times.

6. Last Night I Dreamt of Snow Anyone who is a pet owner knows how hard it can be when they get sick or it is time to say goodbye. Jasper Roo and his Dad are blogging about his journey through cancer and dealing with the inevitable moment when it will be time to say goodbye. It is powerful and raw and worth reading. Make sure you also check out Jasper’s professional photos as taken by SaraBeth Photography. Stunning stuff.

7. Just a Dog: This is really a video, but it was posted on Life With Dogs and moved me so much it brought me to tears. Powerful enough for me to include it as a blog post. Enjoy.

8. Your Dog Won’t Hate You. This I know.: This post comes from Edie Jarolim at Will My Dog Hate Me. It struck a chord with me not only because how sad the woman was in the e-mail Edie shared, but by the comments left by the people who read this post. There is compassion in this world. I read it here.

9. Breeding Dogs vs. The Horrors of Inbreeding: This post opened my eyes to the world of dog breeding and dog shows in a way it had not been before. I was so amazed at the information Kim Clune shared in this post that I had to go out and watch the whole BBC series: Pedigree Dogs Exposed. I think every dog owner should read this post and watch the videos before getting their next dog.

10. The Richest Man I Knew: I don’t know much about the blogger of In The Boat, but I like the positive message he is trying to share on his blog – Human Beings And Be-ing Humane. I like that. Given the economic turmoil our country continues to experience, this blog post was one of my favorites this year.

11. I lied there’s one more. Life is One Continuous Mistake Patricia McConnell is a wise animal behaviorist and dog trainer. Her willingness to share her own knowledge and experiences with her dogs is amazing. This post is powerful because it had a message for me. I hope you will find your own message as you read it.

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