Monthly Archives: February 2014

Alex, My Almost 12-Year-Old Canine Companion

12soon1Alex is our second dog and she’ll be turning 12 on May 5th.  We got her when she was a little over 3 months old.  At that time, I never knew nor imaged how much she would change my life, but she did and I am glad and grateful for that.  Here are just a few of the positive changes Alex brought to my life:

  • Before Alex, fun to me was going out to the club and partying until it closed.  Nowadays, fun is staying at home watching a movie with Cynthia and Alex.
  • Temper – When I used to get mad, it was hard for me to cool off.  Alex is the only being that can get me within seconds from being angry to being calm.
  • Anger barometer – Alex can tell when I am getting angry even before I realize it myself.  She’d sit by me and look straight at my face until I look at her while her whole body shivers.  When Cynthia wants to know if I am angry, all she has to do is tell Alex to get close to me and that girl gives me up every single time.

12soon2Having a dog can change your life, like in my case, but please understand that this is also a big commitment.  When your dog stops being a cute puppy, and when you have to move, she is still your dog, and your responsibility for she is not something disposable, but rather a living, breathing being.  The amazing love and loyalty she gives you must and need to be reciprocated.

Grey Muzzle? I Don’t Think So

senior1The cute lab in the above picture is Bingo.  Would you believe me if I told you that he is 14 years old?  Probably not.  Usually dogs with dark hair show very easy, as they age, grey muzzles, but Bingo is one of those rare exceptions because most of his hair is black and shiny.

Bingo is the oldest dog to date that I’ve taken care of and the needs of a senior dog are different from that of a puppy or mature dog.  With that in mind, walks are shorter, rest is plentiful, no loud noises, etc.  Have a great week.

Walter, My Aussie Companion

IMG_4639Every time I see Walter, this is what comes to mind first, “Que guapo,” in Spanish.  Best translation since a literal translation would end up having a different meaning is, “So handsome.”

Walter will be staying with us for a few days so I am crossing my fingers that the weather is nice and we can take long walks together.  If not, I’ll have him help me do chores.  My favorite one and the one that gets all dogs tired: doing laundry.

Go Away Winter

goawaywinter1For the first 15 years of my life, I lived in a tropical climate.  My past time was riding my bike, going to the beach almost every day, and/or playing with my neighbors.  I never liked nor thought that I could live in a place where winters were as bad as what we are experiencing this year, but here I am living in Maryland with my girlfriend and our canine daughter, Alex.

goawaywinter2Does it sound like I am complaining about the weather?  Yes, I am.  Today, I finally was able to take Alex and Bella for a nice walk.  I took them to walk separately because Bella is still learning how to walk on leash, but I was really surprised at how well she did today.  It does not mean she is done, but she has improved a lot.  In the near future, when the weather gets better, I am going to start taking her to walk in different areas so she can be exposed to people, dogs, cars, etc.  For now, we are just walking around the neighborhood and that keep us busy enough.

goawaywinter3Although I really like Maryland and our neighborhood, this year I am seriously thinking about moving to the Southwest.  Yes, I am that fed up with this weather.  And you know what?  I just heard that we have more snow coming our way.  Boy, the fun never ends.  Look at Alex.  She is just enjoying being out.  By the way, that picture was taken last year.  Maybe I should do the same, and enjoy what I have, and yes, that includes this awful weather.  Have a great week:-)

Alex’s ACL Injury – Part 2

acl21It’s been about 2 1/2 months since Alex started to wear a brace from Woundwear, and this is her progress so far:

  • Alex was only able to walk for 3 straight minutes while wearing the brace and was so exhausted that she slept for hours after that short walk
  • Nowadays, when the day is not too cold I take her to walk for about 20 minutes in the morning, and about 10 minutes late afternoon or vice versa.  Even after taking those walks, she likes to walk around the house
  • She is still on bed rest, and she is not allowed to run up and down the stairs which she still loves to do
  • She does not wear the brace when she goes to bed.  I put a heating pad around her injured leg and back when is time to go to sleep
  • In the morning, once she sees one of us get up, to our amazement and delight, she walks without limping and no brace for a couple of minutes
  • She seems to have gained some of the flexibility and agility she had before she got injured

acl22By the way, I don’t get any monetary compensation from Woundwear.  What I like to do is share the experiences I have with different products.  Why?  In the hope that you get an unbiased opinion, and I get feedback from you.

The only two things I found negative about the brace were the price, $386.75 including shipping, and having to pay about $120 for someone to take the measurements for the brace.  I did not pay for the latter because Cynthia took the measurements, but a lot of people, for what I read online, had difficulty with this part so the total for them would have been a little over $500.

Was it worth it for Alex?  Yes, it was.  I am hoping that in a couple of months from now she’ll be only wearing that brace once in a while.

Burn Off Pent-Up Energy With A Backpack

Alex to Bella, "I know you are shy, but you'll get used to them taking pictures all the time.  I promise."

Alex to Bella, “I know you are shy, but you’ll get used to them taking pictures all the time. I promise.”

If you happen to have a high-energy dog like Alex used to be, and nowadays Bella, you certainly have to look for ways to drain their energy.  In order to keep my sanity, I had to make sure that Alex walked, 1 – 1 1/2 hour twice a day, ran, twice a week, and do some training.  Because of her injury, Alex now walks around 20 minutes once or twice a day when the weather is not too cold, but just when I thought I was about to get a break, Bella joined our family.

As you can see in the picture, Bella, like many siblings, gets her hand me downs from Alex which includes a backpack.  Why do I use a backpack?  For some dogs like Bella, a regular walk will just not do, therefore adding a backpack can give her a job to do and she will be tired by the time we get home.

Some dogs have to be eased into wearing a backpack.  You can use treats to do that.  Let her wear it for a couple of minutes while rewarding her.  With Alex and Bella, it seemed like they’ve done this all their life.  Go figure.

backpack2What do I put in her backpack?  In order to make it even, I put the same amount of weigh on each side.  Do Not make your dog wear a backpack while she is running.  Some people put a bottle of water, wipes, keys, etc., in the backpack so the dog is really working by carrying her pet parents things.

backpack3What do I get from making Bella wear a backpack?  A tired, relaxed dog, as you can see in the above picture.  If you happen to have a high-energy dog like Bella, you need to drain that energy and fulfill her needs in order to enjoy her company rather than having a dog that can easily drive you crazy and frustrate you beyond words.  What do you do with your dog to drain his/her energy?

One Month With Bella – BARCS ID# A21561474

1monthToday, Monday, is exactly one month since we picked up Bella from BARCS, and to say that she has changed a lot would be an understatement so I’d like to share her progress with you and hope to get some feedback.

Walking – She did not know how to walk.  She pulled every which way, and she was so bad at it that while attempting to walk her a day when we had a lot of snow on the ground, I ended up flat on my back while holding on for dear life to her leash and at that moment I said, “That’s it, I give up on this dog.”  Yes, I actually said that.  I never had a dog be that bad at walking.  That day while talking to my girlfriend, Cynthia, she mentioned me flat on the white snow while dressed in dark clothes and you know what we did?  We laughed like crazy.  Nowadays, Bella, for the most part, walks next to us.  That is progress:-)

Feeding – While I put their food together, at the beginning, Cynthia had to put a leash and collar to restrain her from going to the other dog’s area while they were still eating.  Bella also used to make this grunting/piggy noises that would start as soon as she saw me take our their dishes.  What about now?  She still makes those funny noises, but not until she hears the kibble going in her little dish, and we restrain her by using voice commands.

Pacing – Even after we took her out for a walk, she would pace in a frantic way.  She had a lot of anxiety and pent-up energy in her.  Now she seems to be much more relaxed and comfortable, and the amount and intensity of her pacing has greatly decreased. I love to see her walk around the house relaxed and content.

Training – Bella is attending a Basic Training class that will last 5 weeks, and to be really honest, I thought she was going to be the worst student ever.  Sorry, but that is how I really felt, but you know what?  On our first class, last Saturday, she did great.  She got almost all the commands correct, received compliments from one of the trainers, interacted well with people and one child.  I was so proud of her.

1month2Doggie manners – She almost stepped over Alex when they were sunbathing on the deck.  Right now she is more aware of her surroundings, but she still needs some fine tuning in this area.  She also, once, took a Nylabone from Alex’s mouth.  Alex just looked at me like, “What was that?”  I don’t allow Bella to do that because that can cause a fight.

I will probably start taking her to BARCS adoption events in the near future.  With that in mind, let me share this with you.  A student from Animal Behavior College told me that she volunteered for an adoption event for, I forgot the name of the organization, sorry, and the dog she was handling after a couple of hours made her hands red and raw from pulling.  That is something I want to avoid with Bella.  When she is ready to go to an adoption event, I want people to see the amazing girl she really is and not walk away because all they see is a hyperactive, crazy, out of control dog.  I will not set her up to fail.  It is up to Cynthia, Alex, and I to do the best that we can to get her ready to go to her forever home, but not until she is ready.

If I were asked, how’s it living with a foster dog?  I’d reply, “You will never have a dull moment, and you’ll have plenty of laughter, lessons learned, tears shed, frustration, and moments when you question your own sanity for embarking in such a difficult, arduous, sometimes, heartbreaking journey, but this was something I have wanted to do for a long time, and I am fortunate enough to be able to do it now.”  So, the succinct answer to your question would be, “Challenging, heartbreaking, and rewarding.”  I know, I know.  I could have started with that.  Have a great week.