June 11, 2015

Hi, Subscribers ~

Since some of my previous posts have been pretty heavy and serious, I am shifting gears to something that is more warm and fuzzy – puppies and dogs.

What is there not to like about them?

They live to please you.

They don’t care what you look like in the morning as you roll out of bed with messy hair, no make-up and lousy breath.

Then, your urgent need to pee. Actually, as puppies, they are politely curious about what goes on in your bathroom. If you leave the door open, they will sit and watch you, blinking and cocking their head from left to right. Then when the flush comes, they jump back and peak their head around the corner looking at the toilet and then at you. While washing your hands, you look down at them and tell them you will explain this to them when they get older.

Oh, you know what is really great? They don’t care what you look like naked.

They also don’t care that you haven’t shaved your legs in two weeks.

They don’t care if that outfit makes you look fat.

What they do care about, is following you around with intense curiosity watching everything you do and hoping for a hug.

It is impossible not to spoil a dog. He wants to play with you, and you want to play with him. My dog was a Golden Retriever. The first toy I found for him was a tennis ball. I rolled it away from him assuming he would run after it and bring it back. The retriever instincts hadn’t kicked in at 3 months old, so I walked him over to the ball and rolled it again. He saw it moving and followed it with his eyes. Then nothing. He looked up at me and I reminded him he was a retriever and his DNA needed to kick in to gear.

I rolled it again. Nothing. So, I picked him up with his feet still touching the floor, and waddle walked him to the ball and sat him down. Then I placed the ball near his mouth. Nothing. He sniffed it, licked it, and just stood there. I was laughing the whole time and at one point I just hit the floor, rolled over on my back and suddenly he came over and started licking my face and wagging his tail. That was the end of the lesson for the day.

He yawned, so I set him in his cushy little doggy bed and let him sleep.

Well, as the months rolled past, he did get the instinct to retrieve and loved chasing Frisbees in the back yard. I’d keep throwing them, he kept catching them, but a curious and frustrating trait appeared. He would not drop the Frisbee when he brought it back to me. I quickly learned this was part of his game and he loved avoiding me as I lunged for it. He’d run around, come close, and I’d grabbed for it and he’d pull away. Then he decided it would be even more fun if he let me catch it, but not let go. This behavior with Frisbees or anything you played with him continued for the rest of his life.

I bought him one of those little tug-of-war ropes and he loved that. He could pull really hard on it and if I was not careful, he would some times accidentally bite on a finger. This time, I yelped a little and he dropped the rope and came over to look at my very small wound. Then he did the most amazing thing. He sat down, looked at it, and started licking it. I knew he was saying he was sorry, so I’d stroke his side and tell him it was alright and that he was still a good dog. He’d wag his tail and then – boom – he wanted to keep playing!

One day I got the idea of faking him out. When he grabbed something and would not let it go, I showed him a doggy treat and he’d let go. I loved yelling “fake out”, but he jumped right on me and kept on playing. Oddly, he always fell for that trick and never did catch on.

There were two events later in his life I will never forget:

The first one was when he wanted to play with this huge very sharp chef knife. I don’t know how he got it, but as he was coming towards me, I noticed he was holding the sharp side of the blade towards his mouth. I sat down and froze. Luckily, he was just walking not running towards me, so with the most calm and serious voice I could muster, I told him: “Drop it!”. He didn’t. So, I said it again and made firm angry eye contact with him. He lowered his head and dropped it. I casually walked over, picked it up, and told him he was good dog and I threw the knife in the dishwasher and told my family what had happened. We were more careful about not leaving knives on counter tops.

I always reward a good behavior by saying: “Good dog!” so they know I will not get mad at them after giving a command (as above) and having them obey it even if their behavior scared me to death.

The second thing was amazing. He was now grown and weighed 60 pounds. There was this large black dog the same size who liked to stare at him through a window in the living room. I had heard about dog’s hairs going straight up when angry, but this was a first for me. Every time that black dog came by to stare and antagonize him, my dog would go nuts. Hair straight up, growling and barking and basically going ballistic.

We never let him out without a leash, but our parents weren’t home, so we let him out. The window was on the side of the house, so the black dog did not see him coming. Talk about a double take! My dog lunged for him and the dog fight of the century broke out. We looked through the living room window totally in awe. With his dog hair standing straight up, we suddenly realized our dog was 80% pure muscle. The fight continued until the black dog rolled over indicating he had lost.

We went out, full of excitement, to congratulate him and hug him, but as we saw the black dog walk away, that dog rolled his tail around and flipped it straight up. (The universal gesture we all know.)

Well, our dog took off at warp speed and attacked him. This time the fight lasted 15 seconds and the black dog ran off never to be seen again.

We (my brothers and sister), were still outside in a semicircle as our dog trotted happily back into the house as we all took one huge step back. We looked around at each other and I said: “That dog is never sleeping in my bed, again!” But, dogs let go of emotionally charged issues must faster than we do. When we got the nerve to go back inside, he was wagging his tail, looking very proud of himself for guarding his turf…and us. We spoiled him rotten all day.

How do you explain snow to a dog? The snow is pretty easy.  But, the thunder? Oh, man. I tried to comfort him, pet him, hold him and tell him everything was going to be alright. Then, crash! Another thunder blast.

He shot out from under the table and ran upstairs. I ran up after him, found him squeezed under my bed. I threw back the sheet and blanket and patted the bed to tell him to get in. He did.

I laid next to him and pulled up all the covers and hugged him close to me talking softly. I guess it helped a little, but the storm went on for an hour and he was still shaking and whimpering. He protected us from that black dog, and now I was trying to protect him, but nothing I did seemed to help.

Finally, the thunder stopped and as the silence slowly settled over us, we both fell asleep.

Dogs never do get over the fear of thunder. You just have to be there and go through it with them.

Warm wishes to you all and to the wonderful dogs in your life,


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