Dog Parks are not for Humans

 

 

For the past few months, I have been taking my dog Shadow to the dog park.  I’m a newbie at the dog park.  I’m still learning about how the dogs interact.  Besides being fascinated by dog behavior, I am becoming ever more fascinated by the semblance of characters that are human.

People are very serious about their pets, as they should be.  I love my dog and he’s part of my family.  The dog park is great stimulation for a one-year-old puppy who needs to get rid of stored up energy.  Shadow has no attention span when it comes to the park.  He starts chasing after one dog and his head goes back and forth, searching for what else is happening along the way.  He darts from one end of the park to the other.  I cannot keep up with him.

When you mix different dog personalities it becomes very interesting.  Certain dogs don’t have tolerance for specific dogs.  I’m learning that they all have unique personalities, the same as humans do.

Speaking of humans, my fascination with their interactions at the dog park piques my interest even more.  One lady brought her young dog into our off-leash dog park and Shadow wanted to play with him right away.  The owner was very nervous as she shouted, “Now, don’t you use your mouth.”  My question was, “What else are they going to use?” Dogs play by mouthing each other along with using their paws to spar.  That’s what dogs do.  This particular owner was extremely over the top because the dogs were playing nicely.  Did I mention that she brought an air horn with her in case there was a boxing match between the dogs?  I was astonished at the level of fear she brought into the park with her.

I came across a different owner the other day.  Her dog looked like a Doberman but he was small and fat. I thought maybe he was a mixed breed but she was sticking by her story.  I thought Dobermans were a taller, sleeker breed.  Once again, he wanted to play but she didn’t want him to use his mouth either.  I found her to be a bit eccentric. I commented on how shiny her dog’s coat was and she went on about how people give their dogs raw eggs to make the coat shiny.  But, she explained that if eggs are clogging the arteries of people, it certainly cannot be good for the dogs so she used cod liver oil instead.  That’s what her mother gave her when she was little.  Hmm,  I wondered if it made her skin shiny.  I don’t know.

Moving along to the characters that I have met, there’s a little dog, kind of scruffy, who doesn’t like Shadow at all.  I don’t know why but he has never liked him.  Whenever Shadow approaches, the dog snarls at him and Shadow retreats.  There has never been an altercation and I stay close to Shadow so as to be able to break up a situation if need be.  The owner of this dog continues to yell at Shadow.  I was allowing the two dogs to interact because I felt this was a teaching moment for Shadow to learn boundaries and cues from other dogs.  As I stated before, I stay close to avoid conflict.  The other owner clearly stated to me that his dog is not very social but he continued to yell at Shadow.  I subsequently put Shadow on the leash and escorted him to the other end of the park.  I shared this interaction with another woman.  I was aggravated because I was at an off-leash dog park and I had to put my dog on a leash because Mr. scruffy isn’t very social.  I was ranting and raving about why a person would bring a dog to the dog park who isn’t very social.  The owner of Mr. Scruffy happens to be an attendant at the dog park and he should know better than to bring his anti-social dog to the park.

Another owner came in with who I believed to be his mother.  This man did not want any dog near his dog.  His dog just wanted to play.  I approached the man, trying to be kind and ease his fearfulness.  I asked him about his dog and he wouldn’t answer me.  His mother, who was cloaked in a long fur coat with a hood to the point that you couldn’t see her face, barely responded with the dog’s name but I couldn’t understand what she said.  I continued to try to speak kindly to the man and he kept shooing Shadow away.  He was a mean type of person and eventually, I gave up and put Shadow on the leash and led him away, muttering out loud that the other dog apparently isn’t allowed to play.  I was so irritated and went to the other end of the park and told my friends why Shadow was once again being ‘punished’ by being put on the leash at the off-leash dog park.

Most people that I encounter here are very friendly and cohesive.  Our dogs get along very well and we have all become our own little pack.  But, you never know who is going to come through that gate and what baggage they are going to bring with them.

We are talking about a dog park.  You know, a dog park for dogs to run free and play.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s not a place for the mentally deranged, over the top, off-kilter types of people.  Dogs feel the energy of their owners and that spreads to the other dogs.  Most times, the dogs come in happy and ready to be free but I wonder if some of the dog altercations are coming from the negative energy that the owners bring with them.  I’m going out on a limb here and blaming the humans.  And, that’s all I have to say about that.

Doggy Duty

I took Shadow to the dog park today.  We usually go at the same time so he hangs out with the same group of dogs.  They have their own little pack now.  Today we had a special visitor named Sheena.  Shadow and Sheena have met before.  They are both around the same age, 10 or 11 months old.  They play perfectly together and run like the wind.  It is glorious to watch them run the entire length of the park with the wind in their hair.  They don’t have any worries.  The only thing that matters is the joy they are feeling in that very moment.

I have never really paid attention to dogs at play before.  I am becoming fascinated with their interactions.  They share a language that only the dogs know.  If you watch closely you start to pick up on their conversations.  For instance, there is one dog at the park that does not like Shadow.  He has never liked him.  I don’t know why,  but Shadow is young and still learning to pick up cues from other dogs.  He doesn’t always understand that they are not in the mood to play.  Most of the other dogs are tolerant and are teaching him what their behavior means.  He’s starting to get it.  The one dog that doesn’t like him, certainly makes it known that he is not a fan of Shadow but for some reason Shadow refuses to believe him and then a riot ensues.  I am noticing now that Shadow is starting to step back when that particular dog growls at him, but he doesn’t always back away.  He better figure it out soon, though.

As I watch the dogs play, I notice that they like to spar.  They both jump up on their two back legs and come at each other in a way that may look threatening but they are careful not to hurt one another.  They mouth each other and nip at each others’ ears.  But there is no intent to injure when they are in full play mode.  They automatically know not to bite down too hard.  Of course, there are occasions when that happens and there will be a loud yelp but no harm ,no foul.

When a dog means harm, there is no doubt what is happening.  You cannot misinterpret their cues.  Not from the human standpoint.  When they are agitated, they will make their intentions known immediately.  Shadow, on the other hand, will learn one way or another.  When I notice a problem arising, I immediately leash Shadow and walk him away from the ruckus.  All of the other dog owners do the same.  We have a little community at the dog park and we realize that some personalities just won’t mesh.

While watching the dogs interact, I realized that if humans interacted like the dogs, there would never be misunderstandings.  Dogs don’t talk about each other and spread rumors.  They do what they do and if they don’t like what is happening, they share that very loudly and clearly.  It would be great if humans could just say what’s on their mind, have it out and move on.  It would only take a second for the situation to be solved.  But, there’s the whole, getting feelings hurt stuff.  Yes, I guess humans have it a little bit more complicated.  It would feel so good if you got in a situation with someone and you didn’t like what they did or said, so you just spurted out what you thought, true to your deepest feelings ,and then both parties would just walk away with no hard feelings.  Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works.  Every now and then, I would love to just shout out what I am really thinking.

There is a lot of joy in watching the dogs run free and wild.  There are also lessons we can learn while watching.  But, humans are not dogs and we do get our feelings hurt.  We have a right to have different opinions but we do not have a right to hurt each other. Eventually, I think we will also figure it out, one way or another.  Hopefully, peace and harmony will be the outcome.  Meanwhile, I will continue to admire the strength, and willingness to have fun as I watch my four legged friends frolick in the park.

 

Shades of Shadow

I have this four legged companion who is now eight months old.  Oh he’s so cute and certainly a lap dog, full of love and kisses.  His name is Shadow and in the deep recesses of his personality, there lies a shadowy darkness.  Oh, yes, underneath that loveable exterior is a rebellious teenage monstrosity.

He challenges me every single day.  In the beginning, the potty training went well and all was right with the world until I realized that he used his urine to make a very loud and clear protest.  That’s how it all began.  Shadow doesn’t like when Daddy comes home from work and goes on the computer, so he stands in the middle of the kitchen and pees, not just in one spot but over a five foot radius.  Shadow doesn’t like when Mommy leaves the living room to go to the bathroom so he decides to chew the remote control.  Did I mention that most of the time I am not allowed to go to the bathroom alone simply because, well, he is my shadow.  He likes to pull the toilet paper off the roll as entertainment while I am desperately trying to take care of business in peace.  I have to use reading glasses and when I decide to get up off the couch, he eats the glasses.  I am now on the third pair of reading glasses.

His protests are becoming quite clear and more and more destructive despite my attempt to give him plenty of exercise, discipline and affection.  It seems that the kitchen counters are not off limits to this guy.  I was in the living room and he wandered into the kitchen.  He came right back out again and I thought everything was okay.  But evidence to the contrary grabbed my attention.  When I went into the kitchen, there were paw prints on top of my counter.  He was just checking things out I guess.  One day, while I was in the shower for all of 5 minutes, I came out and heard a strange crunching noise.  I knew he had gotten into something.   I have  my medications in a daily pill box.  He reached up on the counter and took the pill box.  I was in a horrific panic as I was considering grabbing the phone and calling the vet.  If he ate my medications, I don’t know what would have happened.  But, to my surprise, all my pills were spilled on the floor.  He was more interested in the plastic pill box than the pills.  Thank God.

Yesterday was a new twist to this menace of a dog.  I watched him through the sliding glass door as he went to do his business.  I don’t know if  you can really imagine my horror when I tell you that he was eating his poop.  I totally freaked out.  I ran outside, screaming like a lunatic, “Get out of there, what is wrong with you.”  I honestly couldn’t look at him the same way.  I was so repulsed by his action.  I immediately went online to look up this disgusting behavior to find out that it is quite common among dogs.  I guess that is why they are dogs.  I don’t know, but common or not, I cannot live with this nonsense in my life.

I took some time to calm down and regroup.  This one will take a little longer to get over than all the other troubling things this holy terror has done.  So, here are the new measures I have had to implement.  Every time I am watching television and need to leave the room, I must remove the remote, cell phone, reading glasses and anything else that is on the end table.  I mean, every time.  He has to be in the crate when I shower.  I cannot let him out of my sight for one minute.  He’s not allowed in the kitchen if I am not in there.  I have to watch him every time he goes outside to poop so that I can clean it up immediately, which, I have always done anyway, but now he can’t even have time to smell it.  So disgusting.

I am at my wits end with this puppy.  He’s about 65 pounds and despite his size, he’s still a puppy.  I don’t know if I’m going to make it through this first year with this calamitous animal.  I often feel like a prisoner of this dog.  I hate to admit it, but he requires my attention every single moment of the day.  Many times a day I get so frustrated and I actually say out loud, “Dear God, please help me.”  When I do that, I am seriously praying for help and the truth is that it calms me down and allows me that moment between raging reaction and constructive action.

I love Shadow and I know that this too shall pass.  These days are very trying and I do believe that when I “pray” and ask God for help, he does help me.  This is just a small trial in my world and I know that in the grand scheme of life it’s not important but, this animal is a spiritual soul and it is my duty to give him the best life possible.  The unconditional love and loyalty will make up for these teenage times with my pup.  You can’t get much closer to God than that.  Complete unconditional love and loyalty with pure innocence.  I can only hope that I could exist with those attributes for even a small amount of my time.

Once again, I am finding another pearl of wisdom in my daily life.  Simple, daily life issues always have some form of a gift for us to take away.  As I struggle with this young creature of God, I am reminded that the gifts in my life are plentiful.  Shadow is a gift that will enrich my life and bring me so much joy.  I am truly thankful for him.

 

 

Cool It

It’s been a very relaxing weekend.  I love that the cooler weather has made its appearance.  I am one of those people that, no matter the temperature, I always have the fan on at night.  I like to have the air moving so I can breathe easier.  Last night the temperature got down to about 47 degrees.  It was wonderful and yes, I had the fan on until the other occupants of my bedroom, namely the dog and my boyfriend, started shivering in the night.  I gave in and turned the fan off.

As a woman in my late 50’s, I experience hot flashes.  All night long, I have the blankets on and then off.  I repeat this cycle throughout the night.  It only stands to reason that I need the fan on.  Is it selfish of me to freeze everyone else out?

I take a moment to consider the dog.  He is very lucky to be priviledged enough to sleep in my bed so he doesn’t get any say in the tempererature.  He has his own blankets and still continues to steal mine when I need them.  Besides the fact that he spreads out and nearly pushes me right out of the bed.  His days are numbered in my bed.  The dog weighs 60 pounds and my patience is running out very quickly.  I just have to figure out how to get his majesty to sleep in his own bed.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, is 63 years old.  He works as a carpenter and his body is tired and achy.  He works in all the elements, whether it be heat, cold, rain or snow.  When he comes home, all he searches for is comfort.  I’ll give him that.  I make a nice dinner each night, well, most nights and I rub his tired, achy feet.  I always try to accomodate him especially where his sweets are concerned.  He loves sweets right after dinner and I usually always have something for him.  I believe that this man deserves this respect as he is the bread-winner in this household.

When it comes to sleep there are several things to consider:  I have several medical issues, including multiple sclerosis and heart disease.  He works a 14 hour day and has to leave the house at 4:00 am every morning.  God only knows what medical issues he has because he never goes to the doctor.  I have to say that he always tries to accomodate me with my illnesses and he is very patient when it comes to the bedroom temperature.  I do feel bad at times when he tells me he was shivering at night.  I always ask him to wake me up and I will turn the fan off but he won’t do it because he knows I need my sleep.  Of course, he could get up and turn the fan off himself but I choose to believe that he is trying to accomodate me and not that he is too lazy to get up.

Between the three of us in this double size bed, there is too much tossing and turning for everyone involved.  I know the dog has got to get out of my bed. But, my boyfriend wants him with us.  Where do I draw the line?  I have a feeling that it may come down to me sleeping in the dog’s bed and my boyfriend and the dog taking the human bed.  I think I would do anything for comfort at this point.  Still, it’s the principle of the thing.  I love the dog but I am the alpha in this relationship and come hell or high water, that dog is going to start sleeping in his own bed.

As far as the cool temperature goes, I think I am winning this battle, if you even want to call it that.  It’s  more of a silent stare-down but he relents.  I have to give him credit though, because he really doesn’t complain that often about being cold.  I guess it’s more about my guilt than anything else.

I’ve decided that I am going to enjoy these beautiful cool days of fall to the fullest extent, even having my window open at night.  This is my favorite time of year and it’s the little things in life that count the most.  The summer is the worst time of year for me because of my MS and so the fall is my respite to enjoy everything inside and outside.  I’m going to take this guilty pleasure of cool nights and not feel guilty.  The heat will be on soon enough.  As for the dog, I’ll keep you posted on my progress of moving him out of the bed.  That will be a whole debacle in itself.

Happy Fall.  Enjoy the beautiful show of dazzling colors and campfires and the coolness of the air.

 

Pissing Contest

My puppy, Shadow, is a 6 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback.  He’s a good dog even though it’s been somewhat of a challenge for me starting over with a new baby.  Training is going very well.  He walks great on the leash, he’s fine with people and other dogs, and he’s been potty trained for months.  It sounds like it was easy but this dog has a stubborn streak like no other animal I’ve had in my life.  Truly, at the age of 57, it’s been a very difficult road for me to train him.

Yesterday morning I took him for a nice long walk because he’s been stuck in the house for two days due to heavy rain.  As a puppy, they get all this pent up energy and it has to be released.  The preferred method for him to release it is through a walk  rather than by chewing up the house.  Even after an hour long walk in the neighborhood he still didn’t seem quite tired out, so we played in our back yard and he ran around like crazy with the wind in his hair.  I have to mention that I ran around with him too so I get credit for releasing my energy,  much to my dismay.

Feeling quite satisfied that I had fulfilled all his basic needs such as, food, water, potty time, exercise and play, I continued about my day.  I was in the kitchen preparing baked apples in the crockpot and chatting with my step-daughter.  Then the most unimaginable thing happened.

I felt something on my leg and I glanced down to realize with disbelief and horror that Shadow had lifted his leg and peed on me.  I might mention that this dog has never lifted his leg to pee.  He still squats like a girl.  But, NO, he has decided to take a monumental step in his development and lift his leg to pee directly onto my leg.  He chooses me, the alpha person in his life.

At first, it didn’t register in my mind what was happening.  I have never witnessed such an outlandish act in my life.  I’ve never even heard of anyone describing such a scene but there it was right in my kitchen, with no shame from him whatsoever.  Going ballistic is the only way I can describe what happened next.  I have new hardwood floors in my house so it was easy to grab him by the collar and drag his sorry ass out the door.  As I am sliding him across the floor I am sure the neighbors could hear me shouting “What did you do?” , “Bad Dog, Bad Dog”.  When my voice reaches  high octaves there usually isn’t anybody that can be spared.  The words flying out of my mouth as I cleaned up the floor, “I knew I shouldn’t have cancelled his neutering appointment.  Never mind, I’ll do it myself.” were spewing forth.   Fire was oozing out of my ears.  My step-daughter was laughing at my reaction because I am sure she never witnessed this implausable act before either.

After I somewhat calmed down, I called my boyfriend to tell him what our precious puppy just did.  He was not quite giving me the reaction that I thought was appropriate.  He was surprised but didn’t get crazy like I did.  I could only imagine how he would have felt if the dog peed on his leg.  Once again I am screeching my dismay over the phone to him and here is what he had to say on the subject.  “Well, you know what has to be done now don’t you?” I replied, “What do you mean?”.  He proceeded to tell me that dogs are territorial and with his new found hormones it is natural for them to urinate as a way of claiming their territory.  He went on to say, “The only option now is for me to get the dog when I come home and show him that you don’t belong to him rather, you belong to me, so I will have to pee on your leg too.”  Then he began convulsing in laughter as I began to shriek to the heavens until there was nothing left to do but join in the laughter with him.

I was so upset with the dog that I had to google what this behavior meant.  When my boyfriend got home, he told me that he and his co-worker were laughing so much that they had to google it.  The result is that unaltered dogs will urinate to claim their territory and as a puppy his hormones are kicking in and I had the honor of being the first victim of Shadow lifting his leg to pee.

Honor or not, I stated clearly both to Shadow and to Bill that I am an independent woman and I belong to no one.  Once again, though, I am reminded not to take life too seriously.  When the day was done and the story recounted many times, there was nothing left to do but laugh.  The memory created brought a smile to many people yesterday and I am sure it will continue on for some time.  After my strong and appropriate reaction I was able to see the hilarity in it all.  I am Blessed to be able to laugh at my own self once again.

Becoming a Mother, Again.

Last October we sadly said goodbye to our beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback Shakarri.  He was eleven years old.  I swore I would not ever get another pet ever again.  I was surprised at how much my heart has ached since he left us.  I just can’t seem to shake it.  My depression was getting the better of me.  Finally on March 10th, it was a Saturday, I was in a deep state of sadness and I told my boyfriend that if I saw a Rhodesian puppy that day I would take him on the spot.  My boyfriend was very surprised at the statement because I swore never again.

On March 10th, 2018 I decided to go online and look for a Rhodesian puppy.  I found a woman who has spent the last 50 years raising, breeding and showing Rhodesian Ridgebacks.  She has studied them and loved them deep in her soul and it has been her life’s passion to share these beauties with the world.  I decided to call her but she didn’t answer and then I texted her but I didn’t get any response.  Two days later I was finally able to get hold of her.  When I told her how heartbroken I was and how I needed a Rhodesian puppy she immediately said “I have one for you.  He was just born on March 10th”.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  I believe that things happen at specific times and for specific reasons.  I believe that the Universe puts all the pieces together for us if we are willing to be open to receive.

On May 12th, 2018 we brought home our new baby and his name is Shadow.  The name is so very fitting because I cannot take a step without tripping over him.  Here I am at the age of 57 and raising another baby.  Puppies are babies in every sense of the word.  They require complete attention and awareness and they rely on us to meet their needs.  I’ve taken on this responsibility willingly with open arms and heart.  Once again this is a true exercise in living in the moment with complete awareness and love.  These are the things that I have always strived for. The true gifts in life are within the here and now.  This moment is the only thing we truly own and I am embracing this moment with my new puppy.  Once again in life I have the opportunity  to practice my experiences of patience, love and kindness and grow with this little guy.  This little puppy will open me to new joy and new lessons that I can learn from each day.  I’m already  experiencing them by being able to just let everything go, the housework and the routine to nourish this sweet precious little soul.

I am grateful today for all the new challenges Shadow will bring.  I look forward to sharing our growth with all of you.