Monthly Archives: July 2014

Bella, An Energetic Pit Mix

Alex, ready to catch whatever is that that she just saw

Alex, ready to catch whatever is that that she just saw

Alex, my 12 year-old pit mix, only started to settle down when she was about 10 years old.  Yes, you read that right, 10 years.  During those 10 years, I had to take Alex for long walks and get her to run a couple of times a week in order to keep my sanity.  The weird thing about it was that once her level of energy started to decrease, I realized that I missed my hyperactive girl.  Humans!  Can’t make up their minds.  That’s what Alex would probably think if I told her this.

Alex and Bella (L to R)

Alex and Bella (L to R)

Anyway, then Bella came into our lives and I realized I was fortunate – ok.,to be honest sometimes I thought I was cursed – because she is also a hyper girl like Alex used to be.  For a while, she wore a backpack, but I stopped since I didn’t think she needed it.  Well, I was wrong.  The hour walk twice a day is not enough anymore so she is using her backpack again.  I am also getting her to run at least twice a week to drain her energy along with some basic training sessions.  Does it sound like a lot of work?  Yes.  Why do I do it?  Because I want Bella’s needs to be met and I want a dog I can enjoy sharing my life with and if that means being more active than usual, then so be it. 

Walter and Bella (L to R).  Photo taken May 2014.

Walter and Bella (L to R). Photo taken May 2014.

There are several things you can use and do to drain your dog’s energy such as: get her to use a backpack; take her for a run a couple of times a week; swim with her; train her to use a treadmill; and compete in Obedience Trials in your area, to name a few.  Those are just some suggestions, but I am sure you can come up with your own ideas.  With that in mind, what do you do to drain your dog’s excess energy?

Happy Hump Day

Bella, Alex, and Dexter (L - R) Alex and Dexter to Bella, "Wow!  Something smells delicious."

Bella, Alex, and Dexter (L – R) Alex and Dexter to Bella, “Wow! Something smells delicious.”

I had no idea what Alex and Dexter were smelling, but Bella was certainly not using her cute little nose.

Alex, "I'd love to eat whatever is that that smells amazing.  Bella, "I still can't smell anything."

Alex, “I’d love to eat whatever is that that smells amazing. Bella, “I still can’t smell anything.”

On Bella’s defense, she supposedly is part bull dog and they have a hard time using their nose.

Bella, "Oh, ok., now I can smell it."

Bella, “Oh, ok., now I can smell it.”

I wanted to lighten up the mood a little bit since my last post, See You Bailey, made a few people cry, and that was not my intention, but a million thanks to those that took the time to read it and empathize with we.  Happy Hump Day!

See You Bailey

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A couple of years ago, we met Bailey, a beautiful 3 year old basset/beagle mix, through an ad on Craigslist, so we got to see her every time her pet parents went out of town. As time went by, our home became a second home for Bailey, and although I was the one that walked and fed her the most, Bailey’s heart belonged to Cynthia. Every morning they had a routine: Cynthia would sit on the floor and Bailey would sit on her lap; Cynthia would then scoop her up in her arms like a baby while Bailey looked delighted with such show of affection; and finally, Cynthia would whisper sweet nothings to her. This love fest would last 5, 10, 15 minutes. Sometimes I had to tell Cynthia, “Come on, let’s go. They need to take a walk and do their business.” Cynthia’s heart, as it was clear to me, belonged to Bailey. Every time we have a dog staying with us, the dog chooses one of us, and Bailey chose Cynthia. It was beautiful to see them on the floor oblivious to everything around them because they were doing their “love fest routine.”

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Time went by, and on January 2012 Bailey and her parents moved to California. On her last visit with us, we went to the beach and Cynthia took a lot of pictures of both Bailey and Alex. The dictionary should have under the definition of happy the above picture of Bailey. That picture to me, from the very first time I saw it, showed what happy should look like.

Although I knew Bailey was leaving, what surprised me was how this affected me for although I did love her, I never knew how much. When I lost my aunt Maria to liver cancer in 2007 I was sad and anxious and I hated feeling like that. Bailey’s departure made me feel that way again and that night I had a hard time falling asleep. Bailey’s mom started a blog, and once a week I would take a look at it always hoping that I could see pictures of Bailey. A couple of months ago, I started to get a little concerned when I did not see any new posts since December of last year. I told Cynthia, “I think something is going on. I hope they’re ok.” I wanted to contact them, but I felt it would be inappropriate and intrusive so I just kept looking at Cara’s blog, Bailey’s mom, every week and wishing that soon she’d post something.

Bailey's best friend, Snickers.

Bailey’s best friend, Snickers.

Then, on March 23rd of this year I received an e-mail from Ryan, Bailey’s dad, letting us know that Bailey had a form of bone marrow cancer and she was to be put down the next day. Ryan told me that they did everything they could, but you know what? I already knew that. Bailey was not only deeply loved by her parents, but also well cared for since they were willing to drive all the way from Arlington, VA to Odenton, MD to drop off or pick up Bailey when they had to travel. For those that are not familiar with this area that is a trip of about 40 minutes without traffic, and up to 2 hours when you hit traffic.

Ryan also asked in his e-mail if we wanted to see Bailey one last time via Skype, to what I promptly replied, “Yes.” Ryan and Cara looked beyond sad and although Cynthia is always the strong one, for I am the one that cries quite easy, this time she was the one crying so hard that at times when we were talking to them, she moved away from the camera to cry her eyes out. We were fortunate enough to see Bailey one last time and for that we’ll be forever grateful to Bailey’s parents. Thank you Ryan and Cara for giving us the opportunity to say bye and see Bailey one last time. You two are amazing people for sharing Bailey with us.

cuBaiely4Afterwards, Cynthia and I just sat at the dining room table, held hands and cried. Cynthia kept asking me, “Why did she have to die so young?” The only thing I could come up with was, “Maybe because whatever her mission was on this earth she got to accomplish it.” I said this to Cynthia as a way to comfort her as well as convince myself that that was true, otherwise Bailey’s departure, at least in my eyes, would have been unfair.

Lately, Cynthia kept asking me why I haven’t posted anything about Bailey, and my excuse was, “You have to sit with me to pick the pictures I’ll post in my blog.”  But the truth was that I avoided writing about Bailey because I felt as if by delaying this post I could hold on to her a little longer.  Crazy?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that the heart does not rationalize, it just feels.  And my heart wanted to hold on to Bailey for as long as I could, but my head kept telling me to get on with it and write about her, so I finally did.

Dear Bailey, or as Cynthia used to call her, BaBailey, please know that you were very much loved by your pet parents, the people that were fortunate enough to know you, like us, and the dogs you met along the way because your presence brought lots of laughter, joy, and love. You left such a hole in our hearts, but we don’t regret loving you. See you later “our” beautiful BaBailey, we love you dearly.

Bailey, Cynthia, and Alex (L - R)

Bailey, Cynthia, and Alex (L – R)

Dexter’s Energy Level

Dexter, Bella, and Alex (L to R)

Dexter, Bella, and Alex (L to R)

When we first met Dexter, a handsome boxer mix, I thought that he was a high energy dog, but I was wrong.  Dexter is actually a medium-level energy dog.  Why am I talking about this?  Because your level of energy and that of your future or current dog is very important in order to make the right match.  Dexter does well, during Summer, with a 30-40 minute walk in the morning, and evening, and a small break around noon for 15 minutes.  But, when Winter comes, he needs longer walks.  The first few days, when he comes to stay with us, I walk Dexter the most because he has an abundance of energy, but as days go by I have to use Bella for longer walksn because this handsome boy starts to walk behind me rather than next to me. 

dexenergy2Also, remember that as dogs age their level of energy will decrease.  Alex, my pit mix, so far has been the dog with the highest energy level.  If she were a human being, she’d probably be classified as hyperactive in her younger years.  Well, it only took 10 years for Alex to calm down.  How would you classify your dog’s energy level?  Have a great week.  

 

Hanging Out On My Deck With My Canine Companions

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Bella, Alex, and Dexter (L to R)

Cynthia, the designated photographer in our home, was able to capture this picture with our 3 canine companions.  Well, maybe it was me taking the picture.  I look at it this way: if pictures look amazing, Cynthia took them; if pictures look terrible, then I took them.  You be the judge of that since I am not too sure which one of us took this photo.

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Alex is asleep. Bella and Dexter are on guard duty.

Dogs with short hair like Alex, Bella, and Dexter usually love to sun bathe, but please do not leave your dogs unattended.  After they have breakfast, I take them out to the deck so they can enjoy the sun and relax for a couple of minutes.  They go out again in the afternoon for a few minutes, usually shorter than in the morning, since we are usually in the basement which is nice and cool and we all want to warm up a bit.  Please, be very diligent with your dogs during this hot Summer and do not expose them to too much heat.  Have a great week!

Manners, Manners, Manners, Please!

manners1Yes, by the title of my post you probably can sense that I am a little bothered.  No, let me rephrase that, I am angry.  Why?  I had a guy get quite bothered because I did not allow him to pet Bella.  I was walking with Bella in a brand new area for her, and this man came straight at her, looking directly at her, saying in a high pitch voice, “Oh, you are so cute”.  He did not have the common sense and yes, manners, to ask me if it was ok to pet Bella.  At the beginning, I did not get angry at him since I know a lot of people even pet parents don’t know how to properly greet a dog so I told him, “No, please do not approach her.  I am still training her and she seems to be a little bit sensitive towards men.  Thanks.”  He stopped and walked away quite unhappy.  I saw this man again about 10 minutes later and I said, “Hi.”  He made a face as if bothered. 

manners2Let me make it crystal clear that I wil not allow anybody to approach my dogs, or those I am taking care of, unless I am 100% comfortable with that interaction and the dog I am handling is relaxed.  Just like we humans are supposed to have manners, that man certainly did not since he did not ask me if he could pet Bella, dogs also have to have manners.  This is what he did wrong, what he should have done instead, and why I said no to him.

  1. He came straight at her.  Being approached in this manner only meant that he was challenging Bella.  In other words, he was looking for a fight.  He should have come from the side, either left or right.
  2. He looked straight at her.  Another red flag.  Direct eye contact is another way dogs challenge one another.  Glancing at her would have been more appropriate and polite.  Stress on the word Polite.
  3. He did not ask me if he could pet Bella.  That is rude in our world.  How would he like it if some stranger went up to him and touched him?  This one I’d like to firmly stress, please ask the pet parent if you can pet his dog before you do it
  4. High pitch voice.  That only created excitement and a nervous dog like Bella can easily have reacted by barking, hiding, shaking, etc.  He should have used his usual voice and talk to me and not Bella.
  5. Because of all the above mentioned, the first word out of my mouth was, “No” when he tried to approach Bella.  That stopped this rude man on his tracks. 

manners3Yes, as you can see in the above picture, Bella wears her name well, but regardless of how cute a dog may be, you need to have the pet parent’s ok before you pet her dog.  A lot of bites could be prevented if we, humans, learned how to properly introduce ourselves to a new dog.  Please, let’s have manners, both in our canine companion’s world and ours as well.  Enjoy your weekend.

Dog ACL Injuries – Know Your Options

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Lately, perhaps because the weather is warm, I’ve encountered a lot of people during our walks asking me about Alex’s brace, and I am more than happy to stop for a couple of minutes and chat with them.  Do you know what I found surprising?  Every single pet parent that asked me about Alex’s brace told me the same thing, “I thought that the only option for an ACL injury was surgery,” to what I responded, “No, that is not the only option”.  By the way, I do not get any monetary compensation from WoundWear Inc., what I like to do is talk about the products I buy for Alex and Bella and give you my poin of view, a consumer’s point of view.

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Here are some of the questions I’ve been asked:

What is your dog wearing?  Is it a brace?  Is she injured?  Alex is wearing a brace and yes she injured her ACL.

My dog had an ACL injury too, but I did not know about this brace.  How did you find out about it?  I did some research and read a lot of comments regarding this brace.

Does she wear it all the time?  The first few months, she wore it all the time, except when she went to bed.  As time went by, once I saw that she was putting pressure on the injured leg, she only wore it when we went out.

Why didn’t you opt for surgery?  Alex is 12 years old, and because of her age I wanted to find out a less intrusive way of dealing with her injury.

How much bed rest did she have?  At the beginning, a lot.  She only got up to eat, drink water, and do her business outside.  Some people use a crate, but Alex loves to sleep so I did not have to do that.  Currently, she walks twice a day for about 20-30 minutes, but when I see that she is starting to slow down during our walks I make the walks shorter for a day or two.

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There are a lot more questions I get asked, but this post would be too long to mention all of them, therefore, what I’d suggest to all pet parents when they have a canine kid with an ACL injury is to ask a lot of questions to the vet.  If you are not happy with his answers, talk to different vets, including those that practice holistic medice and do some research.  The more information you have the better equipped you’ll be to make a decision for your canine companion.  Remember this: you are your dog’s best advocate,