The Power of a Smile

There is nothing like coming home after a trying day and seeing the smile of your best friend.

It changes your attitude, and it puts life back into perspective. dsc02958

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Paying it Forward – Update

Back in October of 2012 I had a chance to work with two very nice young ladies. They are hungry for knowledge about dogs and I shared quite a bite of it with them. The sisters, then 5 and 10 years old, both love dogs, but the 5 YO was afraid of bigger dogs. Patchs is a bit “high strung” and that didn’t help.

By Best Friend Patchs

Patchs

UPDATE: Patchs and I spent a few hours per week playing with the girls and the girls got to safety interact with Patchs in a fenced-in area.

I spent most of my time working with the 5 YO because she clearly needed to learn that the dog would not hurt her. I showed her that by just looking at the dog  she could see what the dog was thinking and what it was going to do. Then I showed her how to use her voice and her body to control Patchs.

After about one month, she was no longer afraid of Patchs, and in fact, she started to play fetch and even started playing “chase” with her. Everytime we walk in that neighborhood, Patchs would turn into their driveway. Patchs had a new friend! Even better, every time we would see the little girl she asked us if we could stop to play for a few minutes. I get a big “Warm Feeling” in my heart every time when we get ready to leave because, she asks us, “WHEN are going to come back again!”

As I’ve said before, it’s very rewarding to “pay it forward”. Mentor kids about dogs is exciting for me because I get to watch them learn and when they “get it” their eyes get wide and a big smile spreads across their faces. It’s very cool to see that look when they realize that they can communicate with an animal in a completely natural way.

Teaching kids to properly treat animals (with love and respect) at an early age will build good character that will serve them in all areas of later life. We as adults have a responsibility to give the children in our little corner of the world all of the tools they will need to become not only great pet owners, but responsible members of society.

Teaching them to work with nature (not against it) will help a lot.

Hero Dogs – They’re Everywhere!

I read an article on Buzzfeed.com entitled “10 Heroic Dogs that will leave you in Awe”  http://bit.ly/1emuFSc And as the subtitle says: These incredImageible dogs will shock you with their selflessness. Their stories will truly amaze you.

Over the years I’ve read about a lot of dogs who either wake the family at night to warn of fires, bark at burglars, and even warn their owner about pending earthquakes.

Well, I too have a story of a dog who saved a life. Or at least extended it quite a bit. 

This is a story about a little spotted dog (a Dalmatian) who was adopted at 8 1/2 weeks old. It was the cutest little thing, and it was so small and helpless when it started it new life in the city. It had no idea what it was doing or what was expected of it.

It learned quickly, and the dog and owner bonded almost instantly. The puppy seamed to be insightful even though it always wanted to romp and play. It loved to go outside and run in the yard but it was never to far away from it’s owner. If the owner walked out of the play area or toward the house, the pup would drop what it was doing and run toward him to make sure he didn’t loose sight of him.

Before long, the pup was getting restless and the back yard wasn’t giving this little guy enough physical or mental exercise. It was time to go for walks in the neighborhood.

After a week or two of leash training it was time to go exploring. The little guy was more than ready to go and with a extra high energy level he would prove to be a handful on occasion. The first few blocks were always a bit of a challenge. All of the new smells were overwelming and the excitement was more than the pup could take.

But that wasn’t the biggest problem!

ImageThe biggest problem was that the owner was a 2 1/2 pack a day smoker. By the time the two had covered about a 1/2 mile the owner was “hands on knees” gasping for air and had to stop frequently to catch some breath. Most of the time they stopped and sat on the curb and the pup would crawl up in the owners lap and lick the owners face as to say: “are you alright”… or … “what’s your problem, we just got started here”.

It was evident very shortly that something had to change. One of two things had to go! It was the cigarettes or the dog!

Well, the dog was cute, the dog was cuddly and dog was a great addition to the family. It also barked and kept strangers away. It also only cost about $1.00 a day to keep and at that time the cigarettes were about $4.00 a day. The clincher was that the dog was better for the long term health. 

The dog’s name was Chip … and I was his owner! His love of the outdoors and his love of “the walk” led me to stop smoking and I have now been smoke free for 21 years. Chip has been gone since 2007 but he was my four-footed little brother for 15 1/2 years. He kept me going and helped me with a lot of things in my life. I will always be indebted to him for that!

Walking Your Dog Could Be Hazardous!

Yes, you read it correctly. I said: walking your dog COULD be Hazardous.

No I have not changed my position on taking your dog for regular walks. I just want to make you aware of a few hazards that you may come across while you are out on a walk.

I was recently sitting on my front porch (with Patchs) enjoying a nice quiet evening at home. While relaxing, I noticed that a lady was walking her dog down the other side of my street. She was walking her dog, listening to her MP3 player and appeared to be texting someone on her phone all at the same time. (Distracted  Walking)

The city had recently repaired a water main leak in the yard across from me and the yard had a 6′ x 10′ area of fresh dirt where it had been back-filled after the repair. Needless to say, she found it. With luck, she was not hurt.

I can’t count the amount of time that I have had near misses while walking. The biggest problems are pot holes in the street, cracks in side walks; stray or loose dogs, and even a stray car or two. I’ve even encountered wild critters. But last night I had one of my CLOSEST calls yet.

It was about 10pm. Patchs and I were walking in a quiet neighborhood on a route we walk about 4 times per week. There aren’t very many street lights on this street, but Patchs alerted on sometime crossing the street about 30 yards ahead. I strained to see it, but it looked like a raccoon or a big cat. It crossed right to left in front of us and then stopped at the curb. It then moved back into the street in front of us.

By this time we were about 20 feet away so I could see it’s outline much better. All at once the critter turned its back to us and I saw it raise it’s tail. Without hesitation, I jurked the leash and made a 180 degree course change. I ran as fast I could (dog in tow) and avoided being sprayed by a skunk.

Had I NOT been paying attention we would both be taking tomato juice baths today.  So please … leave all of the “stuff” behind when you walk your dog. Turn off, gear down, unplug and enjoy a nice relaxing walk with your dog. It may even save you a trip to the hospital or doctor’s office.

Accidents Happen – Are You and Your Dog Ready?

Accidents can happen at any time and they always happen without warning. You may be sitting in the yard with friends, walking in the neighborhood, or driving to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared.

The law of averages is against us. Injuries are going to happen! That’s why we should always have a few basic items on hand to treat them when they do. We all know that having an emergency (First Aid) kit in the home and car can save a life. But how many of us have one of these emergency kits for our pets?

I’ve lived with and around dogs since I was 8 years old. But the idea of having a dog friendly first aid kit hadn’t even crossed my mind until the 1990’s. While watching an episode of “Good Dog U” the host, Joel Silverman, had a guest from the American Red Cross explain what we needed have, and how to use each item.

When something goes wrong, you need to be prepared to take care of your pet’s injuries just as you would if it was your spouse, son, daughter, friend or even yourself. You can purchase a first aid kit for your dog at a pet supply store, from the Red Cross or you can make one of your own. If you opt for the last option, here are a few items that you should have on hand:

First Aid Kit Content:

· Bandages and Gauze: to cover wounds
· Scissors
· Tweezers:  to remove objects or debris from injuries
· Cotton Balls & Swabs
· Alcohol towelettes: to clean wounds
· Cold pack or large freezer bags: to ice down injuries
· Towels: to comfort or clean your pet.
· 2”x 60” wide strips of cloth: to bind wounds or hold bandages in place, also to use as a muzzle if needed
· Bone Splints: to immobilize a broken bone or fracture
· A Warm Blanket: to keep your pet from going into shock. May also be used as a stretcher.
· Medical Tape
· Muzzle: to protect you from bits
· First Aid book for animals: Use as a quick reference guide
· The top half of a 1 liter plastic water or soda bottle: To place over the dog’s muzzle to aid in CPR

Come back tomorrow for an explanation of how to administer first aid under different conditions.