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Many people will be celebrating Father’s Day this weekend. I won’t be one of them, but I will be thinking of my dad. He and my Sheltie, Alicia, were pretty close back in the day. She watched over him after he recovered from heart surgery, often sleeping next to him when he took his daily naps, and she accompanied him on walks when he was getting better. He was quite fond of her. I love that she was his companion when he needed one most.
There are a lot of dog dads out there who don’t often get credit for being the awesome dog owners they are. And, they should.
When I think of great dog dads, I not only think of my dad, but also of the men I have met at my dog park who really showed me the special relationship that exists between a man and his dog, people like Tom and his dog, Compton, and Corky and his dog Roscoe, and Jerry and Brutus, all huge dog lovers and great dog dads.
If you have that special man in your life who cares just as much for his dog as he does his kids, then give him a hug. Dads like him are worth celebrating.
Now, in honor of you dog dads everywhere, here is this week’s Favorite Friday video.
Happy Friday everyone!
And, Happy Father’s Day Dog Dads!
I often try to remember back to when I adopted my first shelter dog. I was so uninformed and inexperienced back then. I had never adopted a dog before. I had absolutely no idea what to expect with an adult dog, especially not one who had a whole history behind her that I didn’t even know about. I probably made a lot of mistakes and bad decisions in those early days (I am sure of it).
What I didn’t know then, but know now is that for a rescue or shelter dog, the first few days and weeks in their new home are risky ones. They are at the mercy of their new human to make the right decisions for them. One mistake, and the dog could end up back at the shelter, or worse, euthanized for a serious mistake that could have been prevented if the human had made a different choice.
That last part is what I was thinking today when I read a story on my local station’s website – “Brainerd Woman Suffers ‘Serious’ Injuries from Dog Bite”. If what the dog owner said was true, and he actually did just adopt the dog who bit the woman in the story, then he just put his new dog’s life in danger. Most likely, when he and his dog are found, his dog will be quarantined, and then euthanized. One mistake. One life.
I don’t want make pet adoption seem so serious and dire, but it kind of is. We can make a lot of survivable mistakes with our newly adopted pets, but there are a few that could place their lives, and others, in danger. Knowing what not to do can be the difference between life and death.
Here are a few things NOT to do when you adopt a rescue or shelter dog.
- Take him to a pet store – A dog in a shelter environment is already stressed out. Taking him from one stressful place to another stressful place, with a complete stranger (yes, that would be you), is a recipe for disaster. A stressed dog may do things they might not do in a another time and place. I remember one dog that was adopted from our shelter and taken immediately to a pet store to purchase some things for him. He ended up biting a child and as a result, lost his life. I know another dog who was adopted right off the rescue transport and taken to a pet store. He escaped the car and was missing for several days. When he was found he was almost 20 miles away from where he was lost. It almost cost him his life. Luckily, a stranger came upon his dehydrated body and saved him.
- Take her to the dog park – Not only has your new dog not had a chance to bond with you, but even more importantly, she doesn’t even know you yet. I still remember a couple who brought their new dog straight from the animal shelter to the dog park and ended up spending a couple of hours trying to catch her. She might have been having a ball, but they were not. Luckily, their dog was not aggressive, but many people have brought an adopted dog to the dog park who was. To assume a dog you just adopted is not dog aggressive or will not harm another dog is not only naive, but dangerous. Get to know your dog before introducing her to other dogs and people. You may also want to work on training her to come when called before letting her off-leash in a dog park.
- Invite friends and family over to meet her right away – People often want to show off their new dog right after they adopt them, but this can be a huge mistake. Strangely enough, dogs are very much like us humans in that they need time to get settled into a new place. Imagine how overwhelmed you would feel if your new neighbors came over and started making themselves at home while you are still unpacking from the move. Pretty uncomfortable, right? So imagine being a dog and having complete strangers invade your space and touch you and get in your face when you haven’t even had a chance to get settled into your new home. Not fun. It’s also a recipe for disaster. One mistake, one dog bite later, and you may have a dead newly adopted dog.
- Let him off-leash in a public place – See #2 above. No, seriously, why would you let a dog you don’t know off-leash in an unconfined area? You don’t even know if he likes squirrels or people or other dogs. If you have a dog like Jasper (my Sheltie), then you might find out that he likes to herd runners and bikers and skateboarders and…. yeah, you get my point. Once you let a new dog off-leash, you have no control. Not only do you risk him getting lost, but you also risk being liable to the danger he might do to another person or dog (see the news story I mentioned above).
- Leave him out in your yard unattended – This one might sound silly, but I really cannot emphasize it enough – Do Not Leave Your New Dog Unattended In Your Backyard. The riskiest time for a new dog to become lost is in those first few days and weeks in a new home. Your new dog is probably stressed and scared and disoriented. One strange noise or sudden movement or scary incident and he can be gone in a flash, right over the fence. Being in the yard with him tells him he is not alone. It also ensure that he won’t have a chance to dig under a fence or look for an escape route, and if he does, you have an opportunity to redirect him before he makes it out.
Most rescue and shelter dogs are not there because they were bad dogs or had behavioral issues. Most are there because someone had to move or was going through a life change that required them to give up their pet. They need time to adjust to all the changes.
And while these dogs are awesome pets and companions, they also have the potential to bite if backed into a corner or placed in a stressful situation (every dog has the potential to bite when placed in a stressful position with no way out). It is up to us, as their new owners, to protect them. It is up to us to do right by them. Spend time getting to know your new dog, and let him get to know you too. Before introducing him to all the new wonderful things in your world, take the time to bond. You have time. You have the rest of your lives to do all those cool things you want to do together. Why rush it?
I’m a little behind the curve when it comes to my book reading list. I didn’t read Gone Girl when everyone else did (I watched the movie instead). I missed the whole Divergent series when it originally came out. And, all the dog books everyone else has been raving about for months have been sitting on my night stand for months.
However, I did get around to reading one book that was making the rounds last year (at least I think it was last year). The book is “Unsaid,” written by Neil Abramson, and it has been occupying my mind for a while now.
Bare bones, the book is about a dead woman, Helena, and her relationship with those she loves. It’s also a story about coping with life after you lose the love of your life, friendship, and fighting for those who don’t have a voice in our legal system. Woven through the story (and various storylines), there are dogs, cats, horses, a pig, a chimp named Cindy, and a boy named Clifford.
At the beginning of the book we learn that Helena, a veterinarian, has died from cancer. She lingers on in the lives of her husband and beloved animals, unable to move on and unable to help them in their grief. She feels for her animals, for whom she was the prime caregiver, and her husband who is trying to care for them while still dealing with his debilitating grief at losing her.
Reading her words and her feelings in this early part of the book was difficult. I imagined myself in her position and having to watch my own animals struggling to deal losing me. It was painful. I couldn’t help but wonder how they would cope with the loss and with being split up. How scary would it be for them to suddenly be living in a new home or in a rescue? How confused would they be? Would they thrive? Would they struggle? Yeah. Not pleasant thoughts to be thinking.
But soon, the book has you heading in different directions and off on a journey that explores the relationship between her husband, a veterinarian friend, a woman and her son and the pets she leaves behind. Each person is someone you come to care about. Each is struggling with loss and trust and change. Even Helena’s animals become personalities that you root for or worry about.
When Helena’s husband (a lawyer), takes on a case involving a chimpanzee, named Cindy, and the woman who has raised and studied her, the story takes turn. At the center of the court battle is the argument that Cindy, a chimp who communicates using sign language and has been shown to have the capacity to think like a child, should be saved from experimental testing because she is a sentient being. The battle takes many twists and turns but in the end leaves one thinking about the value of an animal life and the value each animal brings to our own lives.
As Helena says near the end of the book:
“I’ve been so foolish, running through the forest searching for some profound and eclipsing life meaning when it is the trees themselves that were bejeweled the whole time: Skippy, Brutus, Arthur, Alice, Chip, Bernie, Smokey, Prince, Collette, Charlie, Cindy, hundreds of cats, dogs and other creatures whom I treated, made better, eased into death, or simply had the privilege to know. Each was worthy in his or her own right for being valued, each was instrumental in connecting us and then moving us onward in our own lives, and each gave more than he or she got in return.”
This is a book worth reading. It leaves you thinking and it makes you appreciate the time you have with the animals in your life. I think I only had two disappointments in reading this book: 1) that I never got to experience Helena being reunited with any of her animals, and 2) that it ended way before I was ready for it to do so.
It’s time for my second annual list of favorite blog posts. This year was full of wonderful posts. In fact, there were so many great ones that I had a very hard time whittling it down to just 10. So, I decided to compromise a bit and make it 11 AND to lump those written by the same blogger together (Yes, several bloggers had more than one good post!).
I want to make clear up front that the blog posts I chose were the ones that touched ME most. I know there are many more that people would nominate for their top 10 or 11, and I encourage you to do so in the comments section below or write your own Top 10 or 11 Blog Posts posts and share them. I always enjoy hearing what you found most inspirational, powerful or funny. This year’s list is quite a variety – some are funny, some are sad and some are thought-provoking. I hope you enjoy the ones I have chosen as much as I have.
So, without further ado, here are My Top 11 Blog Posts for 2011…
1. So You Think You Want a Human?- Prologue by Kevin Myers at Dog Lover’s Digest – Kevin is a great writer. He is smart, witty and has a great sense of humor. If you haven’t read his blog you may want to after reading this post and his accompanying piece, So You Think You Want a Human? – The Announcement. Both pieces are written from the dog’s point of view and while extremely funny, they also have a message to convey. They are definitely worth sharing with friends and family who have a dog.
2. Be Gentle: I know my dog is old by Susan Seligson – This post actually appeared on TheBark.com, but I felt it was powerful enough it was worth sharing. So many of my friends have lost their senior dogs this year so it struck home. It’s a good reminder to everyone, dog owners or not, to be gentle (and kind) when you encounter an owner and their senior dog.
3. Blog-a-versary! A celebration in photos by Aleksandra from Love and a Six-Foot Leash – i love Aleksandra’s blog for many reasons. She brings attention to what wonderful dogs pitbulls are, she fosters and finds home for pitbulls who otherwise would have perished in a shelter, she educates people about pitbulls and she takes the most amazing pictures of the pitbulls she fosters. This post is more pictures than words, but I think that’s why I love it so much. She captures so much of each dog’s personality in each picture, proving once again that pictures do matter when it comes to helping a dog to find its forever family. There is one other blog post that Aleksandra wrote that is worth mentioning, “Pit bull awareness: words do matter“. It’s educational and informative and leaves you thinking.
4. Drunken Master IV: Canine Fu by Kristine at Rescued Insanity – I love reading Kristine’s blog. She is exceedingly honest about her relationship with her dog, Shiva, and all that comes with that relationship – the good, the bad, the funny and the inspirational. This is one of her funnier posts. I read it back in August, but have remembered if often with a smile on my face. I hope you find it as funny as I did. I also recommend A Letter Long Overdue. It’s a letter to her dog, Shiva. If you’re a dog owner, I think you will be able to relate.
5. Old Ladies Wear Purple In Heaven by Carrie Noar from Tales and Tails – This was perhaps the hardest post for me to read because it was about Carrie’s grand dame Greyhound, Lilac, and about saying goodbye. I love reading Carrie’s posts about her Greyhounds and German Shepherds, especially when they write their own blog posts. Lilac was a beautiful senior girl who had an elegance and style all her own. It hit all of us fans pretty hard when Carrie shared with us that Lilac had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Carrie’s loving tribute to Lilac’s life is touching and beautiful. I encourage you to read it. I also recommend her follow up post, With Deepest Gratitude, as Carrie shares a little more about how Lilac came to be with her and her husband.
6. Putting the pieces together by Debbie Jacobs from Fearfuldogss Blog – As always, Debbie’s posts leave me thinking. They always offer some valuable piece of insight that leaves me examining my relationship with my own fearful dogs, Daisy and Lady. While Debbie specializes in working with fearful dogs and their owners, this post is particularly applicable to all dog owners, reminding us that our dogs’ issues often cannot be summed up in one root cause, but are only one piece of the puzzle.
7. The Cuteness Curse by Brandi Barker and Megan Ores-Ulrich at Barker Behavior – This post was particularly powerful for me because it covered a lot of the human behaviors I encounter as the owner of a fearful dog. So many well-meaning people have made these mistakes when approaching Daisy or Lady. Brandi and Megan’s advice is clear, concise and straightforward. I shared this one all over the place, so it made sense to include it in my top 10 list.
8. I am living with serial killers by Jan at The Poodle (and dog) Blog – This post is nothing short of hilarious. Jan has a unique way of writing. She is humorous, educational and informative. Her blog has a good mix of everything for everybody. This post takes Jan through an interrogation that will leave you laughing your butt off.
9. Everyday Heroes: Foster Families by StubbyDogs – This one actually came in under the wire, but I knew it would have to be on my list as soon as I read it. Having been a foster parent to several dogs it was nice to see such a loving tribute to foster parents everywhere. I was particularly struck by these two sentences: But when people tell them, “I couldn’t foster because it would be too hard to give the dog up.” They say, “How can it be harder than knowing a dog died because no foster home stepped up?” If you have fostered before or are considering doing it now, this is worth the read.
10. We’re Certified Humane by Lisa Spector of Through A Dog’s Ear (featured on Victoria Stilwell‘s blog Positively) – This was another post that I shared everywhere I could. Lisa’s pondering on the phrase “We’re Certified Humane”, found on a particular yogurt company’s product, and how it could be applied to dog trainers was particularly insightful and thought-provoking. I loved it.
11. The Puppiness Project – You Can’t Change Everything (and You Shouldn’t Try) by Pamela Webster at Something Wagging This Way Comes – All year Pamela has been dedicating her Tuesday posts to The Puppiness Project, modeled after Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. I have found myself looking forward to these posts each week because I always know Pamela will have some wonderful insight to share that makes me think our dogs are much wiser than we are as human beings. This one was particularly powerful for me, but I encourage you to check out her other posts on this topic. They are wonderful.
There were a few blog posts that were not pet related but still powerful in their humor (like this one from TheBloggess.com), personal experience (like this one from Jennifer Margulis about the death of her mom or this one from Kim Clune over at This One Wild Life about remembering 9/11) or messages of personal growth (like this one from Marc and Angel Hack Life)
Welcome to the Saturday Pet Blogger Blog Hop. I encourage you to check out some of the other awesome pet bloggers out there. Much thanks to our most generous and interesting hosts, Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers, and Confessions of the Plume!
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My very first apartment had a lot of amenities I liked – a deck, off-street parking, a huge living room and a large bedroom with a huge closet. It also had something else… a ghost cat. I know. It sounds crazy doesn’t it?
The first time I knew I had a ghost cat was soon after I moved in. I was laying in bed, about to fall asleep, when I felt little cat paws walk up along the side of my body, alongside my leg, and then knead the mattress right next to my hip and lay down. I remember lying there frozen with fear. Did I just imagine that? Was I half asleep and just dreaming it? Was I losing my mind? It kind of freaked me out. The only way I could sleep that night was to tell myself that I had imagined it.
Over time I would come to realize that it wasn’t a dream. I really did have a ghost cat. And, he would often sleep by my side after kneading the mattress. Even after I got my two real cats, Nick and Sebastian, he would come up on the bed and follow the same old routine of walking along the side of my body, kneading the mattress and then curling up beside me. For some reason, it never seemed to bother my cats that there was another kitty, not to mention a ghost kitty, sleeping on my bed.
When I moved to a different apartment across town my ghost cat came with me. His routine was always the same and I began to find his presence comforting.
I once told my mother and sister about my ghost cat, but they just rolled their eyes and tried to humor me. They didn’t believe in ghosts. But I knew that what I was experiencing was real.
When I started traveling for business, my sister would come to stay with my cats so she could give Sebastian his insulin injection in the morning. One evening, I called her to see how my cats were doing and she informed me that she had had a visit from my ghost cat. She told me that the previous evening she had been almost asleep when she felt the little cat paws walking up from the end of the bed and then start to knead. She had assumed it was Nick or Sebastian, but when she looked, both cats were already sleeping next to her. I think she was a little freaked out by the whole thing, but it was nice to have some validation.
Somewhere along the way, my ghost cat just disappeared. I have often wondered what made him go. Was it the new bed and mattress that did it? He seemed to disappear right about that time. Or, did he just find someone else that needed his comforting more? I like to think it was the latter. How nice to think that he moved on to help someone else that needed him.
Have you ever had an experience with a ghost pet of your own?