Monthly Archives: March 2012

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January 22, 2012 – Picking The Right Dog For You And Your Family

Recently, I answered an ad in Craigslist in which it stated that they wanted to get rid of their 9 year old terrier because she snapped at their 2 year old child.  The ad also stated that the dog was very sedentary and was not properly socialized.  I replied to the ad by advising the owners to first talk to an animal behaviorist and trainer and see how it goes.  I also told them that a bored and unexercised dog is really a recipe for disaster in any household regardless of whether children are involved or not.  If after exhausting all the avenues available to them their dog was still snapping at people then they should place him in another home.  Their response was an angry e-mail with language I prefer to keep to myself.

This is where the problem starts with anybody ready to adopt or buy a dog, I prefer the former rather than the latter, but that is just personal preference, and that is:

  1. Lack of exercise and socialization
  2. Lack of knowledge and unwillingness to learn from others with experience about dogs
  3. Believe that if the dog snapped at someone once he/she will do it again
  4. Dog’s energy level is completely different than that of the pet parents
  5. No consistency when it comes to training, exercise, discipline, etc.

Don’t misunderstand me, I do not recommend for anybody to keep a dog that they believe is ill suited for them, but you should try everything you can to see if what the dog is experiencing is something manageable specially when the dog is a senior.  Why?  because a lot of people prefer a puppy rather than a senior dog because as all you dog lovers know, puppies are adorable. I raised two puppies of my own, but to be quite honest the next time I adopt I will overlook the puppies and go for a dog that is 3 years or older.  Why?  I’d like a dog that is active, but if I wanted to vegetate on a Saturday afternoon, she’d be right next to me asleep on the couch making me company.  That would be my perfect companion and that is what I have at the moment.  Alex, my mix breed female dog, that is about to turn 10 in May of this year is perfect for my family.  I walk twice a day, weather permitting, and as she has aged I have noticed that she does not care to go out and walk when its very cold even though I make her wear a sweater so I have to adjust the time and length of our walks, but when I just got her as a puppy I used to take long, long, long, walks with her because she was very energetic, but that is what I had to do because she was my dog and I needed to be responsible. The right dog for you is out there.  Believe me.  But please take the time to look for him/her and don’t only look at the cute factor many puppies have but rather at the fact that this adorable puppy will grow and he/she won’t be so cute and his/her level of energy may not be the same as yours which means that sooner or later you will be going back to the rescue place to return him/her. I am not trying to discourage people from adopting or buying a dog, au contraire, please enrich your life by adding a dog to your life, but pick the right dog so the experience is good for you and the dog you pick.  Good luck to all new pet parents, and many thanks to those who choose to adopt.

January 25, 2012 – Goodbye, Our Beautiful Baliey

Bailey

A little over a year ago, I replied to an ad in Craigslist for a pet sitter.  After an exchange of a few e-mails, we agreed to meet at our home and see if Bailey, their dog, and Alex, our dog, would get along.  Bailey was fine with my girlfriend, Cynthia, and myself, but not as friendly with Alex.  We thought that Bailey and her parents would not come back after this meeting, but to our surprise they did and Bailey entered our lives and our hearts in late 2010.

Because Bailey’s parents traveled quite frequently, we had the opportunity to see Bailey very often and for longer than just a weekend stay.  Time went by, and little by little Bailey accepted Alex and without realizing it we started to get very attached to her, specially my girlfriend Cynthia.  The thing Cynthia loved to do the most with Bailey was to hug her as soon as we woke up and Bailey seemed to enjoy this love fest very much as well.

Bailey stayed with us for Thanksgiving and we were more than happy to have her, but the day that her parents came to pick her up I found out that they all would be moving to California and I was surprised, but more than anything I was really sad.  They left and I told Cynthia about it.  We were sad, but glad that she’d be coming back for the upcoming holidays which would give us more time with her.  That night while thinking about Bailey I was overcome with so much sadness and I was taken aback for I had not felt this way since my aunt passed away, and I had a hard time going to sleep that night.  Yes, I was heartbroken.  I also did something I only do in rare occasions; I prayed for her and her parents.  I know for a lot of people praying comes quite easy, but for me it has to be something very important or big for me to pray.  Anyway, I felt as if a hole was carved in my heart which previously was occupied by Bailey.

During her last stay with us, we spent a lot of time with Bailey and took a lot of pictures.  We had a wonderful time together.  The day Bailey’s mom came to pick her up we asked her to stay for lunch and she was gracious enough to accept.  That meant we could keep Bailey a little longer, of course, but we also did it because both her parents were very nice people and this would be the last time we’d see them.  We all walked Bailey and her mom to the car and then we saw them leave.  Boy, that was a hard pill to swallow.

Bailey’s mom started a blog to document their trip to California, and everyday, twice a day, I check for pictures of their adventures and always hope that she posts as many pictures as possible of Bailey.  Yes, we miss her dearly and maybe one day we’ll see her again.

You know what? Every dog that enters our life take a piece of our heart and even though Bailey will be far away from us, she’ll always be close to our hearts and I am very glad and grateful that she was in our lives even though it was only for a short period of time.

We love you Bailey and you’ll always have a second home with us.  Enjoy California with your parents and make many, many, new friends.

January 31, 2012 – Don’t Judge a Book/Rottweiler by Its Cover

Last week, a pet parent contacted me to see if we could pet sit his dog for the first time and, as customary, I asked him a few questions about his dog, Maggie.  We agreed to meet a couple of days later to make sure that his dog and ours were compatible.  I told my girlfriend that the dog was a 6 year old female Rottweiler, but she said that it was ok and to meet her before we made any decision.  When we saw Maggie, it took our breath away because here was a 105 lb. Rottweiler that looked intimidating and fierce.  My girlfriend looked a little hesitant, for not saying a little afraid, and I just thought to myself, “Wow, you are so beautiful and huge, like Max”.  Max was a Dogo Argentino that belonged to my sister and he was an amazing dog, to say the least.  Max looked intimidating, but he was extremely loyal to his family.  But, I digress.  I always walk for about 10 minutes with a new prospective boarder and our dog, and while doing this I noticed that Maggie wanted to smelled Alex, but because Maggie was so big Alex looked a little hesistant, translation: a little afraid, so we continued walking with Maggie and Alex for a couple of minutes.  The reason I do this is to asses the dog’s body language, temperament, etc.

After our walk, we all came in and I talked to Maggie’s dad asking him questions about her quirks, likes, dislikes, etc.  I showed him Alex’s bed, and I told him that I change the sheet I cover her bed with and that of the dog that stays with us every other day in order to keep them clean unless it needs to be changed sooner.  While doing this, I knelt on the floor to show him Alex’s bed and Maggie sat right next to me and gave me a couple of kisses.  That’s it, I was in love, again.

Maggie stayed with us five days and she was a pleasure to have in our home.  She is the only dog we’ve had so far that actually was trained and listened to commands.  She did look quite intimidating, but she was such a sweetheart.  We walked with her and people, more than once, crossed the street when they saw us coming.  Why?  She looks scary.  I was thinking, “If they only knew how wonderful, obedient, and loving this dog is, you’d change your mind and ask me if you could pet her”.  But, that was not to be.

Many times we do judge a book by its cover like in Maggie’s case, but I think that all of us, whether we are talking about dogs, people, religion, etc., should be more open minded because what we find is usually the complete opposite of what we expect.  Aside from my aunt who raised me, the best teachers I have had happen to be dogs.  They’ve taught me about patience, which I have little of especially with humans, loyalty, love, compassion, and I am sure that every dog that comes into my life will leave a little paw print in my heart, mind, and soul anf for that I’ll be forever grateful.

February 3, 2012 – Carpe Diem Mom :)

Today I was really in a bad mood because I am dealing with an ex-tenant from hell and the prospect of going to court, as those of you who happen to be landlords know, is pure hell.  Anyway, I got home and my beautiful canine daughter, Alex, wagged her tail and did her happy dance for me, the one she always does everytime I am out of her sight even if its only for a few minutes, and I just had to laugh at her exuberance and smile.  Yes, people, dogs do smile:)

Well, this was short-lived because once I went out to walk with her I started to think about all the headaches this ex-tenant gave me and, yes, you guessed it, I was in a bad mood all over again, and I noticed that Alex walked not next to me, but rather a little behind me.  This exasperated me and I told her, “You got to be kidding me.  Walk.”  I saw her face and I felt as if she were telling me, “I don’t want to walk next to you because you look so mad”.  I smiled and told myself that if there is a being on this earth that knows when my mood changes that is Alex.  I told her, “I am sorry for being such a pain to you.  I am human and I have a hard time living in the moment, but here you are, to teach me how to do that”.  To what she responded, ” exactly; carpe diem mom, carpe diem”.

February 3, 2012 – Bike Riding with my Beautiful Alex

Today is a beautiful, beautiful day, to say the least.  Its sunny and warm for February in Maryland and I decided to take out my bike and go with Alex to enjoy the outdoors.  We were out for about an hour, bike riding, and we both throughly enjoyed it, but before anybody reading this end up thinking that we are some sort of athletes, let me dispelled such crazy thought and tell you that we mostly walked.

Bike riding with Alex started because of her.  Yes, what a terrible influence my daughter is on me.  She was an extremelly active dog and the two long, long, walks a day did not seem to help so I started to read about bike riding with a dog and how to do it safely.  By the way, this is a really good website if you are planning to do that, http://www.wikihow.com/Ride-a-Bicycle-with-Your-Dog.  Please do not attempt to just go out and expect your dog to know what he is supposed to do.  I would recommend for you to read very carefully the website I have listed and then go from there.

I started slowly with Alex.  First, she just walked next to me and the bike.  After that, I got on the bike and started to move slowly and she followed.  Then, being the curious girl that she is, while jogging she was trying to sniff the bike.  I stopped and let her sniff it, aka introduce each other, and once she was done I got back on the bike and started to peddle.  She ran right next to me for about 5 minutes.  We walked and then again “we” biked.  As time went by, I saw that she could go further and further.  But everytime we went out for a bike ride I always, and I emphisize this a lot, checked her pads after the run to make sure they were fine and that there was nothing caught in them.

Well, time went by, and we still go out for our bike rides, but now they are fewer and much shorter because my girl is 9 1/2 years old, and, let’s not forget, I am also aging, but we certainly enjoy them.

The time I feel truly free is when I am dancing and when I am bike riding with my girl, Alex.  So go out with your dog and have fun.

February 6, 2012 – Bike Riding With my Beautiful Alex – Part II

Today, Sunday, the day really looked gloomy.  It looked like it was about to rain or snow and it was pretty cold.  I was about to go and take Alex for a walk, but I really wanted to go bike riding, so I stood by the front door for about 5 minutes trying to make up my mind.  What if it rains?  What if we are only able to go around the corner?  Then I thought to myself, “So what?  Go out and enjoy the day with Alex?”  And so we did.

I put Alex and my folding bike in the back of my CRV and we went to a really nice trail about 10 minutes from home, and to my surprise my girl, Alex, was really in the mood to run.  She usually runs right alongside of me, but this time she was a little ahead of the bike and twice I had to tell her to slow down.  She is in better shape than her mom.  We were out for a little over an hour and no, we did not bike the entire hour.  We walked and biked.  A couple saw her running with me and one of them said, “She is so cute.  And she is wearing a sweater”.  And as all you dog lovers know, that just made my day because of that nice compliment directed to my daughter.  Yes, when it gets cold she wears a sweater that by the way she has never learned to like nor appreciate, but she still has to wear it.  Anyway, Alex sniffed some trees and God only knows what else and after we were both tired we headed home.

As soon as we got home, I took her to the deck and brushed her, cleaned her paws, and checked her pads.  All intact.  She then proceeded to drink water and went straight to her little bed in the kitchen while a late lunch was being prepared.  After we ate we headed upstairs, Alex to sleep and her moms to wait for Super Bowl XLVI to start.

I cannot speak for other people except for myself, but having a dog as a companion is really relaxing for me and it also gives me the opportunity to be more active and forget any worries I may have when I am with her.  I think dogs do more things for us, humans, than we do for them, and lucky are those of us that realize this.

February 7, 2012 – Cesar Milan in a Word? Inspiring.

Funny, entertaining, and very true.

Februrary 7, 2012 – What is The Best Remedy for Anger and Rage?  Your Dog

Natural anger is useful and we need it. But rage is anger out of control and there’s nothing useful or funny about it. Some people compare it to a rampaging elephant, but this insults the animal kingdom. Animals feel anger for good reasons but they cannot control it. Human rage is so ugly because people can and should control anger with intelligent dignity.

About a year ago, Summer time, for a reason that I cannot even recall, I got into a very heated argument with my girlfriend.  When they say that you see red when you are enraged, I can say that that is so true.  I was not angry.  I was enraged.  I knew that all that was going to come out of my mouth was going to be hurtful and maybe even unfair therefore I decided to walk away.  I lay on the couch and I was hoping that sleep would soon take the place of the rage that I was feeling, but no such luck.  My girlfriend came over and started to talk to me.  I don’t know what on God‘s green earth she said for she was the last person I wanted to see or hear at that moment, but seeing that she got no response from me, for it was quite clear that I was very angry, she walked away.  I thought to myself, “Good.  Finally some peace and quiet”.  A few minutes later, yes you guessed it, here she comes again, but this time with Alex.  I, then, heard her tell Alex, ” go and lie on the couch next to mommy”.  She obediently did just as she was told, and as soon as she settled next to me, I started stroking her ears and head and thought to myself, with a smile on my face at this point, “you are so soft and beautiful”.  I did this for a couple of minutes and seeing that it was “safe” to approach me my girlfriend started to talk to me.  I got up and I was still a little angry, but not enraged.  We talked and worked things out.

Later on, I asked her why did she put Alex on the couch with me?  To what she responded, “You were not angry, you were enraged and there was nothing I could say or do to get you out of that mindset so I decided to use Alex to calm you down and it worked.  She is the only being I know that can get you out of a bad mood, or in this case enraged mood, in a matter of seconds”.  She was right.

If there were to be a pill for anger/rage in the future, I would not buy it.  Why?  I have my dog, Alex, and the best part about it is that there are no side effects.  Well, except for the wet kisses, but I can live with that.

If you are interested in reading the whole article about anger, visit this website: http://youaskandy.com/questions-answers/article-series-1970/12582-what-is-the-best-remedy-for-anger.html

February 9, 2012 – Mom, I Can Teach You To Be More Social

A couple of years ago, I went to visit my sister and she told me that her neighbors thought of me as a hermit because the only thing they ever heard from me was, “hi, and bye”.  My sister, on the other hand, would stop by and stay a while talking to them, but I chose to say hello  and I kept going without a second thought.  Her neighbors asked her if maybe I did not like them for some particular reason, to what she responded, “No.  It just takes a while for her to warm up to people”.

Time went by, and one day I remembered this and told myself that I was going to pay attention to how I acted and reacted to people and see if it was true that it takes me a while to trust people.  I decided to do this because I am a firm believer that everyday we have to try, although many of us fail, to be better than yesterday.  My findings were actually somewhat comical, well, at least to me.

During my self-assessed “study”, I realized that certain settings made me more comfortable than others.  If I were at work, I would talk to anybody even those I did not know well.  But once I left work, I noticed that unless the other person initiated contact I made no attempt to interact with him.  Now, here comes two very interesting findings; one, if the person had a dog with him, I would right away make an attempt to interact with this person; two, if the person did not have a dog with him, I did not even bother looking at him.  This reminded me of something that happened to me a while ago.  A woman walking with a very uncooperative puppy was coming down the street and her face looked flushed and she was angry, to say the least.  My usual reaction, and that of many others, would have been to leave the woman and puppy alone, but I surprised myself because I went straight to the woman who looked at me with a lot of anger and disdain.  I told her that her puppy was beautiful, I saw a faint resemblance of a smile on her face, and that puppies sometimes are very stubborn.  She looked at me again, this should have been the time when I ran as far away as possible from this woman, and started to talk to me.

I still cannot believe I did that.  If she did not have a dog with her, I would have kept walking, I know that for sure.  Well, since I figured out that I find dogs more interesting than people, now I try, emphasis on the word try, to say hello even if that person does not have a dog with him.  This is my ritual; first, I look at my dog’s body language towards that person; second, I look at the person’s body language; third, I tell myself, “people are interesting too, people are interesting too”; fourth, still talking to myself, “remember to be a better person today than you were yesterday”; fifth, I finally say hello.  Boy, that took so much energy from me.

The only bad thing about this approach is that many times because of my lengthy ritual, the person passes by and either he says hello first or neither of us acknowledges the other.  Well, I did try.  Right?

Alex, my dog, is not only my companion, but also my teacher.  Thanks to her, I am attempting to be more social, but I know this is a very long and hard road, but I’ll navigate it with her, so I know everything will be fine.

March 1, 2012 – Never Say Never, Specially When It Comes to a DachshundSnickers, on the left, and Alex, on the right.

I always liked medium and big dogs.  I never saw myself as a pet parent of a little dog unless it was a puppy, but then something very strange happened to me one day.  About a year and a half ago, a couple contacted me so I can take care of their dog, Snickers, for a couple of days while they were out-of-town.  As you can see by the picture, she is a senior, but don’t let the white on her face fool you.  She loved to play and take small walks.  She was an active girl, to say the least.

For some odd reason, every time I had a chance I would pick her up, hold her close and talk to her.  Now, what was I telling her?  Who knows?  Although, I think that by the time she went back home she was bilingual since I usually use Spanish when I was telling her sweet nothings.  The day came when her parents came to pick her up and as I saw her leave, I felt a wave of sadness running through my heart.  I thought to myself, “Is this sadness or indigestion from eating too much?  Even before I asked myself that question, I knew that it was sadness.

Time went by, and her parents contacted me again so I can take care of Snickers.  I gladly said yes to them.  This time she stayed a little longer and, yes you guessed it, the pain was a little more evident.  I thought, “I like all dogs, but I prefer medium to large dogs, so why do I feel this way?”  Epiphany.  Oh, oh.  I had fallen in love with a Dachshund and it only took me a couple of months to figure it out.

Don’t take me wrong.  Alex, my dogo/pit bull mix, is the best dog I could have ever wished for but even now I hold a very special place for Snickers in my heart.  I was thinking about getting a dachshund from a rescue place, but Alex is almost 10 years old and I think she deserves to be the only dog without having to compete for my time and affection with another dog.  Therefore, my next dog, I am pretty sure will be a dachshund.  By the way, because I like this breed I am following a blog, thewienertakesitall , and yes you guessed it.  The blog is about the adventures of a very handsome dachshund.  I look at it this way, if I can not have a dachshund right now I can certainly live vicariously through this blog.  What do you think?