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Dogs: A case of Conflict Avoidance

October 27, 2014 6 comments

Jack Russell Terrier SnarlingThe older I get, the better I get at knowing, and understanding, myself.  Foibles and flaws? Got tons of them. And, I am aware of almost every one. You might think I am oblivious to them, but I’m not. I am painfully aware, and have analyzed every single one – over and over again.

For instance, I not only know I have a problem with the Big C.A., Conflict Avoidance,  but I can actually admit I have a black belt in it.

Oh, I don’t avoid every conflict, I’m actually quite good at dealing with them sometimes, but if it involves something I am afraid of I can avoid it like nobody’s business.

I can pretend not to see it.

“I can’t SEEEE YOUUUUU! I’m covering my eyes now!”

I can pretend not to hear it.

“Nah! Nah! Nah! I’ve got my fingers in my ears! I can’t hear you!”

I can even pretend that it will go away if I just ignore it long enough.

“POOF! All gone!”

Fear and me? We don’t do well together. In fact, I think I boarded him up behind some hidden room in my house. Much easier to avoid him that way.

Of course, the downside of avoiding all the things you are afraid of is that it eventually has a way of coming back to you. Karma. It’s a bitch. Or maybe it’s just a boomerang? Anyway, life has a way of making sure you cannot ignore that which you fear indefinitely.

Ignore a bill long enough and the bill collector will come a’banging on your door. Avoid the fact that you cannot keep growing your business if you don’t hire someone and eventually you get burned out. Pretend you don’t see that warning light in your car dashboard and eventually it WILL break down and leave you stranded on some deserted road.

You can’t live in denial forever. Fear will hunt you down and make you look it in the face.

I am starting to realize that living this way, avoiding that which I fear, has impacts that go beyond me.

In an attempt to avoid that which I fear (losing someone or something I love), I have placed two of my dogs in the uncomfortable position of trying to keep up, even though their bodies were clearly telling me they cannot. I have been acting as if they are still young and vibrant dogs in order to avoid admitting the truth, they are getting older, and as they get older they getting closer to saying goodbye. (God, how I would like to avoid that.)

Untitled

Daisy

Daisy is starting to slow down. No. Not just slow down. Her body is starting to show her age in all sorts of ways (she will be eleven in November).

Her eyes have become cloudy with cataracts and her sight is causing her some trouble when it comes to going outside at night. Her sense of smell seems weaker too. The super sleuth, the master of sniffing out the smallest piece of food in a pile of leaves, now struggles to find the one I just placed on her paw.

Instead of running off to explore the woods, she now stays within sight of me, afraid to wander too far away from me and worried about trying to keep up.

She has a little sway to her hips now. The kind you see in older dogs whose back legs have become weak with arthritis and over use. Her legs are definitely not as strong as they used to be. Jumping up on the couch is no longer as easy as it used to be either. There is a slight pause now, as if her front legs may not be able to pull her body all the way up and onto the couch.

Naps and cuddling are much more preferable to her now too. She still loves to go for rides and go to the dog park, but her stamina is not what it was a few years ago. Taking three-mile walks tires her out.  Two miles or less are more to her liking.

Hiking through the woods with Cupcake.

Cupcake

And it’s not just Daisy, Cupcake is slowing down too. Dog park jaunts are not as thrilling for her. She has been happy to stay home from time to time. On those days, she doesn’t even bark in protest when we leave her behind.

When she does go to the dog park, she often lags behind, stopping to sniff or to saunter along at her own pace.

Hills are something she dislikes now too. The steep inclines at Minnehaha Falls Dog Park are too much for her ankles. They have been known to give out from time to time, causing her to stumble and sometimes fall. Rimadyl is her friend.

Like Daisy, Cupcake is also more affectionate and cuddly than before. She prefers long naps and hanging out at home versus gallivanting around town. Old age suits her. She doesn’t seem to mind it much.

I wish I felt the same way.

I remember when Sharon from Grouchy Puppy would talk about the beauty she saw in her aging dog, Cleo. I would marvel at how well she handled it all. How could she stay rooted in the moment all the while knowing she was getting one day closer to losing her?

Conflict avoidance can seem so much easier than truth sometimes. That is, until you realize that your inability to see and hear is not just impacting you, it is impacting your friends too. Old age and death are hard to deny. They come whether we choose to see them or not. So I am doing my best to NOT avoid seeing what is really happening and to acknowledge it. I am trying to REALLY see what is before me so I can enjoy our time together, at whatever pace that may be.

The girls

Doggie Morning Routine

November 11, 2013 19 comments

602680_10201671334374426_2048586869_nMost people who know me probably think I am not a morning person and probably get up a little later in the day. But the truth is I am an early riser who likes to putz around a bit before getting ready for the day. Here is just a synopsis of our morning.

What are your mornings like with your dogs?

The sun is still in hiding but we get up.
The first order of the day? A downward dog stretch.
Butt in the air.
Legs extended.
Toes flexed.
Cuddle time with the Shelties. A scratch behind the ears is heavenly.
Chilly morning potty break.
Check the yard for rabbits and squirrels.
Food preparation under watchful eyes.
Cupcake lies at kitchen’s door. Waiting.
Bangs from Daisy’s kennel door. She paces as she waits for her food.
Towel placed on the kitchen floor. Cupcake is a sloppy eater.
Jasper paces, then sits, as his dish is placed on the living room floor.
Daisy waits anxiously for food to come to her kennel.
She waits again for me to leave so she can eat in private.
Food gone. Inspection tours begin.
Jasper checks Daisy’s dish.
Cupcake checks Jasper’s dish.
Inspection done.
Mom eats breakfast as Daisy slumbers at the other end of the couch.
Watchful eyes hoping for for to fall.
Repositioning of doggie bodies when food fails to come.
Mom’s computer time. Gentle snoring is heard from the other end of the couch.
Computer time ends.
Cuddle time with Daisy begins. Belly rubs are her favorite.
Soon it is shower time.
Cupcake guards the bathroom door; Jasper the bedroom.
Mom is ready for work
One more chilly potty break.
Cupcake announces to the world she is there. (One must let the world know.)
Excited little feet dance their way inside to wait for frozen Kongs before mom leaves.
Slurping sounds.
Nap time later.

What quirky behaviors do you love about your dog?

September 24, 2013 39 comments
Jasper and his stare

Jasper and his stare

Monday night, as I came back into the living room from the kitchen, I noticed Daisy with her head hooked back over the arm of the couch watching me. I was suddenly hit with a pang in my heart. That was something Aspen (her doggie sister) used to do. She would hook her head over the arm of the couch and cock it back so she could see what I was doing in the kitchen. It was one of those things that always made me smile. It was her “thing”, her quirk, what made her, her. You know what I mean?

Every dog has that “thing” that makes them special to us. That one quirky part of their personality that stands out in our minds. The thing we miss when they are gone.

All three of my dogs have quirky things they do that makes me smile. They are the things that make them each unique and special in their own way.

Cupcake smiles all of the time, barks when Jasper gets excited and loves to steal toys out of Daisy’s kennel, but there are two quirky behaviors of hers that always make me smile. The first is when she goes out for her last potty break before I go to work. When she goes outside, she just barks. That’s it. Oh she’s not barking at anyone or anything. No. She’s barking at the world to let everyone know she is there. “Hello world! Cupcake is here!” It cracks me up every time.

The other thing she does is put her front paws on my lap (when I am on the couch) and smile and waggle her little butt and tail. I just can’t help but smile. I love it when she does this.

With Daisy, it’s that coy look from the end of the couch and the tail thump that follows and the more recent addition of her choosing to cuddle with me. My heart melts every time.

Jasper has so many quirks,  I cannot even begin to name them all, but the one thing he does that always makes me laugh is he gives me something I call “the stare.” I never know what he is thinking or what he wants, but he does it all of the time. Sometimes he just stands there and stares at me and I stare back at him. This can go on for several; seconds and sometimes minutes. You would think it would be a bit intimidating to have a dog staring at you, but it’s not with him. It’s like he is deeply contemplating something about you and hasn’t quite figured it out yet. It’s quite amusing to see.

I love my dogs. I love their quirks and everything that makes them who they are.

What quirky things does your dog do that make you smile? What funny behavior so they do that makes you smile? 

Has your dog opened a new world for you?

February 4, 2013 26 comments

Dog worldThe other day I saw this picture and quote posted on Facebook. It immediately set my mind to thinking.

We have all heard the news stories touting the health benefits of dogs and cats – how they enrich our lives, lower out heart rates and make us get outside and get exercise (even in the frigid cold temperatures in Minnesota!).

But, do they open our worlds for us? Do they make us see things we may not have seen before? Or, help us to realize the vast possibilities before us?

I know that my dogs have taught me to be more balanced and calmer. I’m not sure that has necessarily opened new worlds for me, but it has made me a better person for my dogs to be around.

I think I have explored more, tried more things, and sought new places to walk because of my dogs. I love seeing them explore a new place (noses to the ground, running through the woods, enjoying the water, etc.) and try new things. I guess if you think about it, I am trying new things too!

Perhaps the area in which my dogs have opened a new world for me is through blogging. I started blogging to catalog Daisy’s progress as a puppy mill dog, nothing more, nothing less. I never imagined becoming a part of a blogging community that loves dogs and cats, or having such fantastic readers like you (or readers at all!) who challenge me and comfort me, or learning so much more about dogs and the business that surrounds them. I never imagined running my own business and caring for other people’s pets either. My dogs gave me that too.

The more I think about it, maybe dogs do open a new world for us. What do you think? Has your dog opened a new world for you? How?

What goofy thing does your dog do?

November 28, 2012 34 comments

Daisy. Giving me “the look”.

One of the things I love most about dogs is their silly side. I haven’t yet met a dog who hasn’t been able to make me laugh. Some dogs chase flies, others sleep with their favorite toy, and many others just get the zoomies and race around the house or yard like crazy dogs. How can one not laugh?

Each of my three dogs has their own silly behavior that is unique just to them.

  • Cupcake loves to carry her stuffed toy over to me and get me to chase her so I can catch her and give her a belly rub.
  • Jasper loves to have me hold his indoor ball out at arm’s length while he races around the coffee table and pretends to leap up to grab it before running around the coffee table again (it really is quite hilarious).
  • Daisy loves to run around the house with her stuffed toy in her mouth. When she is sitting on one end of the couch she will slowly dip her head and turn it toward me and give me “the look,” before thumping her tail and scooting over for her belly rub.

It’s hard not to laugh at them They can be so goofy. I am sure my cat, Nick, look at them much like Garfield looked at Odie. Those darn goofy dogs!

I know each dog is their own individual, so it made me wonder…

What goofy behavior does your dog do that makes you laugh?

Cupcake being silly.

What kind of song describes your dog?

September 24, 2012 31 comments

Tonight, I was listening to some music and playing with my dogs. I don’t know about you, but I love music. It can be such a great reflection of my emotions – happy, sad, angry, silly, etc. Sometimes music brings me up when I am down or makes me dance when all I had wanted to do before was sit down and relax. Music has a way of moving us in various ways.

Music can also be a great way to define ourselves or our friends or a specific situation. And sometimes, it becomes our theme song (at least in our heads).

Thinking about music and playing with my dogs made me wonder… was there a song that I would consider a theme song for each of my dogs? And then, before I could even think about it some more, Jasper’s theme song entered my head.

Born to be Wild by SteppenWolf

Jasper was so easy, but what about Lady? The images that came to me immediately were of Lady flirting with all the boy dogs at the dog park, and with Jasper at home. I get such a kick out of watching her. When she flirts, she practically dances – play bows, jumping in the air, sashaying around. How could I not see her in West Side Story?

I Feel Pretty from Westside Story.

Daisy was the hardest one though. What song could possibly describe my sweet, shy girl? My survivor? My inspiration? Suddenly, it came to me. For those who know Daisy’s story and know how much I love my girl, it will make perfect sense. I know this is more of a love song, but it is sweet and beautiful and describes how I feel about Daisy perfectly.

Your Song by Elton John

So what about your dogs? What song would you choose as a theme song for your dog? What song comes to mind when you think of her or him?

What does your dog do while he is sleeping?

August 12, 2012 30 comments

Sometimes I swear the universe tells me what I am supposed to write about – even when I have other plans. I was all set to write about a more serious issue today, but by chance, coincidence, or the universe, two things occurred today that made me believe a little lighter fare was needed.
The two things?

First, my brother called me today and shared a couple of Dozer stories. (Dozer is his dog. I wrote about him back in March .) Dozer is quite a character, so when my brother shares a story you know you’re going to laugh. The last one was the funniest to me. My brother told me that today he heard some thumping coming from another room in the house. Knowing Dozer was in that room, he got worried and went to check it out. The thumping noise? Dozer wagging his tail. In his sleep.

The second was a video a friend shared with me of a Lab doing the very same thing. Seems a bit serendipitous doesn’t it?

Both things brought back a lot memories of my dog Indy. Indy was a Shepherd/Collie mix I adopted at 5 years old. She was a great dog – smart and loyal and well-mannered. But when Indy slept she became a dog on the move. Her mouth would twitch, her body would move and her feet would start flicking back and forth. We always assumed she was running in her sleep and used to joke and say that she was moving her flippers.  🙂

Thinking about Indy and hearing about Dozer made me wonder what other dogs do in their sleep. Do they bark? Do they make strange noises? Do they move their flippers like Indy? I would love to know.

What funny things does your dog do in their sleep?

The Scoop on Poop: Do you dump and run?

May 24, 2012 23 comments

Ex-CNN Executive Busted Putting Dog Poop In Neighbor’s Mailbox

That’s the headline that was being discussed on my local radio station yesterday morning as I was getting ready for work. The story is that Bob Furnad, a former CNN political director and CNN Headline News president, “was busted by a local CBS affiliate in Atlanta placing dog poop in his neighbor’s mailbox.”

Yuck! Who does that?

Well, I guess he does!

It was the topic that followed the one on this story that caught my attention though.

Yes. It was another dog poop-related discussion.

The question?  When out on a walk with your dog, do you drop your poop bag in your neighbor’s garbage can (if it is sitting out)?

I have always been of the belief that no neighbor of mine would appreciate me leaving my dog’s poop in their garbage, whether it is convenient for me or not, but that’s just my opinion. I’ve never really asked them before. Who knows? Maybe my neighbors don’t really care one way or the other.

The radio host, Ian Punnett, asked non-dog owners to call in if they felt it was wrong for dog owners to dump their poop in their trash bin. Not one did. You know who did? Dog owners, every one of them loaded up with guilt, or at least the thought of the guilt they would feel, if they did dump their dog poop in a neighbors bin. So it made me wonder…

Have you ever dumped your dog’s poop bag in a neighbor’s trash bin if it is out when you walk by?

If you are a dog owner, would you mind if someone dumped their dog’s poop bag in your trash bin?

And, you non-dog owners (if there are any non-dog owners actually read this blog), would you care if someone dumped their poop bag in your trash?

A little shy about answering with your real name? Take the poll and see how you compare to other dog owners. Multiple answers are allowed.

Doggie Schedules – Do you have one?

March 5, 2012 19 comments

Duncan and JasmineCan a blog post generate another blog post and then another? It appears the answer to that question is yes, because I am about to be the third in the chain. I hope you will be able to follow along.

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:

Did you get the dog you wanted? Or did you get the dog you needed?

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:

“On Saturday and Sunday we take at least an hour’s hike each day, with lots of running and sniffing.

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?

“Cuddle-bug” dogs – Do you have one?

January 24, 2012 50 comments

Lady

I was thinking about “cuddle-bug” dogs the other day and pondering the fact that throughout all the dogs I have had in my life, I’ve never once had a full-time cuddle-bug dog. Do you know what I mean? The type of dog that just wants to be near you all of the time and would prefer to cuddle up on the couch with you when you’re reading a good book or watching TV or having a sick day.

Daisy likes to cuddle for a belly rub in the morning, but that’s pretty much it. Jasper likes belly rubs but would prefer to play ball. And then there’s Lady, my off and on cuddle-bug dog. Ever since she’s come home, she’s been more affectionate, often lying on the couch next to me as I pet her or give her a belly rub (Last week I gave her a body massage and now she’s really affectionate!). But, being a Sheltie, she doesn’t like to cuddle for too long because she gets too hot. So as you can imagine cuddle sessions are rather fleeting here at Casa del Mel.

Jasper


Given that I’ve always adopted dogs who are not cuddle-bug type of dogs, it made me wonder… is this my preference or merely chance? What do you think? Do you have a cuddle-bug dog? Do you have a preference when it comes to dogs and their need to cuddle? It seems to me that little dogs are more likely to cuddle than the bigger dogs, but maybe I’m wrong. Do you have a large cuddle-bug dog?

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