Category Archives: Beyond Fostering

All About the Dogs

I’ve been contemplating how to mark National Dog Day today. I could tell you – or is it retell? – the story of spending the first half of my life terrified of dogs and how these days my life is all about dogs.

I thought about making a gallery of all the dogs that have graced these posts.

But that would go on and on and on and on …

Mostly I just want to share with you the dogs that have and do fill my life. These guys and gals can make me crazy, but I can’t imagine life without them. Heck, I don’t much know how I can vacation without them.

Happy National Dog Day!

So, don’t forget head down to your local animal shelter this weekend and find yourself a new best friend – preferably a dog. Wake County Animal Center is open every day from noon to 6 PM.

Training Really Is That Important

So, one of my part-time jobs is teaching classes at Teamworks Dog Training, LLC. I teach puppy class, a manners class, and a distraction proofing class. I really enjoy the dogs I meet and watching their progress over the course of the seven weeks.

I try to make sure that the humans know what an important thing they are doing for themselves, their dogs, and the bond between them. It really does make me all emotional thinking about it.

Optimus

And then a friend posts a recent rescue experience on Facebook and it really drives home the importance of training. I’m posting it here, with her permission, in its entirety.

“I have been going back and forth on whether to post this or not, but I think it’s important for people to learn from the tragic as much as we take joy in the positive. Remember: owning a pet isn’t enough. Training is part of their care. [my emphasis]

Optimus2

“A month and a half ago I brought home a foster dog named Optimus. He was super friendly, had a huge smile and at 97 lbs was quite the hunk. At the shelter he was uncertain, didn’t appreciate people invading his space and let you know. Over the course of his stay here, I got to know a friendly, happy-go-lucky guy who ignored the other animals in the house and just wanted to be your one and only. He began to trust me and would let me in his space, but was still wary of those he didn’t know when it came to his crate.

“I also got to know a dog that wouldn’t tolerate anyone messing with his food or high value food treats. After an evaluation by a reputable rescue, it was determined that because his behavior was so ingrained it would be difficult (if not impossible) to reverse and even more difficult to manage given his lack of warning. Not to mention the sheer challenge of placing a dog like this in a responsible home. His power, size and behavior made him a high risk for becoming a future bite dog or even worse. He was deemed not safe to adopt out. While it hurts my heart, I completely agree. As a result of this determination, Optimus was euthanized this morning. I hate that it had to be this way for him.

“Why did it have to be this way? Because while his owner was happy to have a big, powerful, gorgeous dog, he didn’t think it was important enough to train, mold and shape this big, powerful, gorgeous dog into a well-behaved and safe animal.

“The result? He sentenced him to death with his lack of training and then by dumping his responsibility on someone else. I’m sorry Optimus that you were desired for your looks, but not important enough to invest time and training into. I wish I could have done more for you. Be free now. I’ll miss your huge smile and big bear hugs.” ~BK

Optimus1

Mister M

So you see it means the world to me to see Mister M come to class with his mom and dad. He’s just nine months old but has been bounced around to several homes and fosters – hmm, maybe that’s what makes him such a bouncy guy. He’s an adolescent who hasn’t had any structure or direction in his life. He is loveable and boisterous and real jumping bean Tigger.

M has found his furever family. They understand he’s not the perfect dog (yet!) and that training is the second best thing they can do for him. I can already see they’re giving him tons of love and a good home.

One last thing, please be thorough in researching your dog trainer. Punishment based training is not a solution. I truly believe in Teamworks dog training philosophy …

At Teamworks, our goal is to help you create a successful relationship with your dog by building trust and mutual understanding.  We believe in and use family-friendly, humane training methods that enable effective communication between people and dogs.  We teach our classes using positive-reinforcement based training and encourage the use of humane “people empowering” techniques.  We do not use or tolerate harsh physical punishment-based methods, as that outdated style of training has been shown to damage the bond between dog and person, and often escalates aggression.

Max_20160811_0057

To Be or Not To Be Kissed

Happy International Kissing Day!

RLittlePhotographer_IMG_3193_edited
Random Stranger on Fayetteville Street 2013

Although I get many a nice kiss from my husband, my Khayla is one obsessed kissing Pibble. Now, I’ve never minded it. In fact my first dog, Sugar, had a very rough Chow Chow tongue that gave a wonderful massage on the bottom of your feet. So you can imagine my fear when this headline came across my Facebook feed the other day: “Kissing Your Dog Isn’t Just Gross, It Can Potentially Make You Very Sick” (iflscience.com). I really didn’t want to read it, but today – International Kissing Day – I did.

The blog post told the story of a poor woman in the United Kingdom who ended up spending several days in intensive care after getting a serious infection. Doctors could only figure it came from being licked by her dog. Whoa.

Digging a little deeper, I found the “No Kissing Please!” post on The Hippocratic Post to be very interesting. The post talked about not only what diseases our doggy’s saliva can carry and what can potentially be transferred from dog to human, but also what we can transfer to our dogs, for example, e coli. Professor John Oxford, emeritus professor of virology and bacteriology at Queen Mary, University of London, made a point that struck home with me about how it’s not just what’s in their saliva but the fact that they always have their noses to the ground in “nasty corners”. Hmmm, good point.

The post was also good in that it talked about the benefits of having a dog in your life. In the end it comes down to remaining calm and not being an alarmist about being licked by a dog.

So although I will now give Miss KK  fewer opportunities for a compete kissfest, I will not deny her or myself that gesture of affection and deep friendship.

10_29_13_susie_and_khyla2.jpg

Big Bada Boom Bada Bang!

So, here we are, July 4th weekend, the bane of many a dog, cat, ferret, or other non-human. For those of you who do not know what I speak of, just make sure that your pet is wearing an ID collar, has up-to-date microchip information, and is safely inside during the festivities.

We’ve been lucky this year and there were only a couple of pre-revelers setting off fireworks in the neighborhood the last couple of weeks. We played our “thunderstorm game” which I call Boom-Boom Treats. Yep, it’s simple – we hear the first distant boom, I excitedly ask them if they want boom-boom treats, and we run off to find the highest value tastiest treats in the house. It works pretty well for us at this point.

I thought I might add this reminder about all the foods, lots of which we’ll see at parties, picnics, and BBQs this summer, that are not good for our dogs. Pass it around ’cause our friends need to be educated about what is best for our kids too.

DangerousFoods