I met Walter at his home in Maryland. A magical place really, owned by an angel.
The house is huge and old, built from stone and slate, a hundred years ago it was a school house.
Outside, it is cold and windy, inside sunny, and bright, The house flows with energy and joy. A grey whirlwind of fur greets us.
Walter in himself, is a small miracle.
Transferred to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah from another shelter, where he was picked up as a stray, Walter was already missing one leg and dragging another.
Being the charmer he is, Walter made it known that he wanted no part of pity, and when his second leg was removed, He was up and about in no time. Walter made a lot of friends at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and it wasn’t long before he was ready to be adopted.
When Melody* saw Walter online, she knew that he would come to live with her. Melody has other animals that are disadvantaged, and had recently lost her canine companion. Melody does not feel sorry or pity her pets, but she is able to offer them the opportunity to live life at its fullest, knowing that some day she will have to make the hard decisions when quality of life has all but vanished and arthritis takes control of Walters two good legs.
But for now Walter and Melody are Angels among us.
It is not for Walter or Melody that I write this, but because of them.
I write this for my sister, who crossed the rainbow bridge just months after meeting Walter herself.
My sister suffered from alcohol abuse for a good part of her adult life. Liver failure finally took its toll and landed her in the hospital, where she realized the grave situation that she was in. She rallied, and made a good attempt to get her life back.
Laurie found employment with a pet sitting group and soon was found by Melody, who needed someone to be with Walter on the days when she worked long hours. Melody and Laurie hit it off and soon Laurie was living in the basement of the old school house with a handful of cats and Walter.
Walter played, and he smiled, He made Laurie smile. Walter made friends with the neighbors dog and they played for hours. Walter and his new friend would run up and down the flights of stairs, back outside and around the house, never letting his disability slow him down.
Walter showed Laurie that you can be happy even if you have suffered. He showed her how to laugh again and he showed her that you should never give up. Walter showed her Love.
Melody never knew about Laurie’s past, They became fast friends and enjoyed movie nights and girl’s nights out with Melody’s friends, no one asked Laurie why she didn’t drink.
No one knows what exactly happened, but Laurie had been hospitalized enough to know that her time was limited and that she did not want to leave this place hooked up in a hospital bed. On the Saturday that I saw her, just before her death, she didn’t feel good, and we encouraged her to get checked out. Sunday she went to a urgent care center where they were unable to prescribe anything due to her health and sent her home. Monday morning Melody left her in bed. When she returned from work. Laurie was gone. Walter was with her.
Laurie loved being with Walter and was looking forward to adventures with Walter and Melody. I hope others get to share the magic of Walter. Laurie was one month short of 57.
As unintentional as it may seem, I am convinced that the chance meeting of Laurie and Melody, because of Walter, was no accident, but an intervention by a power greater then all of us to help a damaged soul heal, and to be at peace, knowing there is Love.
Thank You Melody for giving Walter such a great home where he can show others what it means to live. You are both Blessed, and will forever be in our families heart.
Adding a new pet to your family is a big decision. Pets bring balance, love, and an escape of sorts from our everyday stresses. Pets also bring us together and manage to teach us an awful lot. All dogs were originally bred for certain behaviors, (herding dogs herd, sight hounds run fast, etc) so do your research and make sure the breed of dog you are interested in has an activity level that will fit into your lifestyle. Dogs are not predisposed to behavior problems. Most behavior problems are due to inconsistent or lack of training from the beginning, and behavior problems are the most common reason dogs are left at pounds.
Puppies (and dogs) are not really that hard to manage if you remind yourself that you are dealing with the mind of a 2 year old and that training is a logical, progressive process that anyone can master with a little patience, humor, some high value treats and a lot of love. Spend the time when your dog is new and you will soon have a loving, well behaved member of your family.
Here are seven basic rules to help you manage the toughest puppy training challenges and ways to incorporate them into your daily activities:
Dogs are not spiteful. Dogs live in the moment. Chewing up your shoes or shredding the garbage was not done in spite because you left him home alone. Remember that 2 year old? Well he has got one powerful nose and if the garbage is accessible and something good and smelly was left inside, he is going to want to investigate. If you leave your new dog loose in your house, there is no telling what sort of mischief he may get into. A large new place, like your home, can be a bit overwhelming and even scary for a new dog to be left unattended in. Crate Training does not mean that your dog should / or will live the rest of his life in a crate. What it does mean, if done correctly, (lots of high value treats) is your dog will have a place where he can be feel safe and secure until he is mature and confident enough to handle a larger space unattended. Giving your dog a place that he can call his own also can help suppress separation anxiety, and speed along house breaking. Click here to learn more on how to crate train your dog.
Rule #2 Practice Redirecting
So your new pup wants to play, but your schedule is keeping you busy and the pup at your feet is getting in your way. This is a good time to redirect your pups attention to something that will entertain him, but allow you to get your tasks done. The easiest thing to redirect to is a chew toy. I use nylabones for this purpose, as they are safe (they don’t cause guarding in my multi-dog household) clean and easy. You may need to spend a few minutes interacting with him with the bone.. maybe toss it a few times, let him know how excited you are about this bone and how good it is to chew. You could also get an interactive toy that involves putting dog cookies or peanut butter inside and let him play with that for a while. Nylabones do seem drab and unexciting to some dog owners compared to other chew toys that are now on the market, but, they are much safer and healthier then processed rawhide or animal parts, and will last a lot longer. Read more about the best chews for your pup here.
Rule #3 Draw Boundaries
Puppies are cute, But when your 10 pound puppy grows into that 70 pound dog, are you still going to want him sitting on your lap? It is a whole lot easier to train a puppy correct behaviors from the beginning then it is to try to re-train that half grown dog. Boundaries can and should be established with the beginning of training, besides, once training begins, and the “lightbulb” goes off in your little dogs head that you are communicating and he will get a cookie if he responds correctly, learning will begin in earnest. So decide from the onset where your boundaries are. Are you going to let your dog on the furniture, or on the bed? Are you going to let him chase the cat or the children? Don’t know how to stop behavior that you don’t want.. Go back and review rule #1 and #2
Rule #4 Socialize your Pup
Everyone wants the perfect dog. One that will be friendly with visitors, yet bark at danger. A dog that will hang with the kids, and be ready to go for a jog. Your perfect dog is within your reach, but it is up to you to mold that “2 year old” into the solid citizen that he needs to become. Socializing your new pup allows him to meet other humans and dogs in new and exciting places. But the biggest benefit to taking your dog out to new places is the “bonding effect”. Your new dog is going through a lot of new experiences, hopefully by this time, he has learned that YOU are “nice”. He knows you feed him, you let him out, give him cookies, love him and you talk nice to him. When you are at a new place, You are his comfort, his trust and his safety. By taking him out into the world you have given him a big adventure with his new best friend. The more adventures you have together, the more confidence he will gain in himself and the more trust he will gain in you.
Not sure where you can take him in your town? Look for farmers markets, dog friendly festivals, and outdoor supply stores. Make sure you are loaded with his favorite high value treats, and his favorite toy. And Please don’t forget to bring your common sense. Make sure your dog has a properly fitted collar (combo collars are good for new dogs) or harness, with proper ID on it, be prepared to clean up after your dog, and remember that not all dogs that you meet will be friendly, so ask the handler before you let your dog run up to any unknown dogs.
Rule #5 Be Consistent
As a perpetual 2 year old your dog is going to have a limited vocabulary, and even though dogs are champions at reading body language and tone, it is important to have consistent verbals when training. You do not have to use the words that everyone else uses, and you can certainly make your own words for communicating with your dog. For example, I use “This Way” while free walking my dogs on their daily walk, it keeps them with me without feeling that they have to be beside me.
One of the absolutely easiest things you can train your dog to do in your house, yard or out on an adventure, on lead or off, and quite possibly the most important thing he will ever learn is a recall. I carry dog treats with me 95% of the time. This allows me to call my dog and reward him whenever and wherever I can. For a new dog this may be 2 feet away and on a leash.. that is okay, if the dog looks at me and comes for a treat when I say “HERE” he gets a reward. Always practice this in a enclosed area at the beginning, eventually get someone to hold him while you increase your distance. Practice this often, ALWAYS, ALWAYS reward (eventually this reward will be just a “good dog”)
Rule #6 Create Motivation
Your dog should be exposed to different sorts of toys. Things to Chew, Things to fetch and Things to tug, shake and share. As he grows you will learn what toys are best for him and what toys he responds to. Eventually, you will notice that he may favor a certain toy, Maybe he really loves to fetch a ball, maybe its a frisbee, perhaps he Loves a game of tug with you. This favorite toy can also work for you as a motivational aid. This favorite toy may eventually be substituted instead of treats, and can be used as a reward for training tricks, dog sports, or any thing that you may need to teach your dog for his own safety. Be observant, and notice what toys really excite your dog. Take that toy with you on outings and use it when you need to get your dogs focus back on you or just to help him relax.
Rule #7 Enjoy
New dogs and puppies do not happen very often in our lives, and this new relationship should be looked upon as the special new beginning that it is. Have fun with your dog daily. Smile and laugh at the silly things that your dog does. He will love you with all his heart and You should love him back. Get help if you need it and if you really want to explore all that a new dog has to offer, take him to classes. There you will find others exploring relationships with their dogs, new friends and new dog friends.
I hope I have offered you some clues to make your new dog comfortable and your new position as caretaker enjoyable and full of positive fun. I Love talking dog and would love to hear about a special time in your relationship with your dog. Please leave me a comment.
I don’t know why it took me so long, but I do know it was meant to be .
I met the cutest, sweetest puppy you ever want to meet. He is a very special puppy and his owner has big plans for him. You see his new owner is handicapped, and this little guy is going to be a service dog for her. He will help her move around the house and he will help her pick up things. I am sure this little guy will be a true asset to his new owner and he will be loved by quite an extended family of both two legged friends and four legged ones. So what is my new perception ? Well this little guy is a Golden Doodle, and if you have read my “adopting a puppy” post you would have seen how I blasted the Golden Doodle along with a couple other “designer” dogs for not being breeds. Now, this little puppy could possibly not be a better breed to accomplish his owners hopes and dreams for him, for with the Poodles intense intellect and the Golden Retrievers gentle, loving, friendly demeanor, I can not find a reason why this puppy should not fulfill his owners every wish.
What is a Breed?
For generations humans have messed around with selective breeding of all sorts of animals. Mostly we have bred animals together that served a purpose for us, or in some way carried a genetic advantage that we could exploit. We bred all sorts of chickens.. some for meat and some for eggs. We changed the genetics of many types of cattle and live stock, for their meat, their hair and their rate of growth, and we altered many types of horses that we used for labor, transportation and sport. We have done no less to dogs. We bred the best to the best, and we got a really fast, biddable collie to help us keep our sheep in order, and we bred a large guardian dog to live with the sheep and protect them.. The list is endless.. Every breed of dog that we have and know of, was developed through selective breeding to acquire the traits that would benefit our needs.. Who am I to say that the Golden Doodle is not the perfect service animal? Certainly, in this day and age, with what we know about how dogs can benefit our health, service dogs are a big necessity.
So, I Apologize.
The American Kennel Club recognizes breeds that conform to a “Breed standard”, which means that all the dogs in that breed should look alike, except possibly color, and although the AKC promotes conscience breeding , they do accept new breeds every year into their ranks of Pure Bred dogs. How do these new breeds just appear? Well people with a need create dogs that fill their void, often these are special dogs, bred for a unique purpose in some remote part of the world . The point here is that even the AKC should not be dictating what breeds this 21st century world will need, some old breeds may well disappear and be replaced by breeds that better suit our needs. Point should also be noted that often times dog breeds that are bred to conform to a certain standard often lose their effectiveness for the purpose for which they were originally bred for and, become just pretty show pets. So, I Apologize. I do not mean to pass judgement against any dog used for any purpose that benefits humankind, or anyone’s decision to have what ever kind of dog they would like. Please, just remember to check out the homeless now and again. Almost every breed can be found in homeless shelters, pounds and rescues across the US.
Lets not forget the homeless..
I know that there are reputable breeders and, there are those breeders that keep their dogs in horrid conditions (the puppy mills), and all sorts of breeders in between. There are just as many reasons for them to choose to breed their dogs, and it certainly is a shame that reputable breeders suffer for the overpopulation of homeless dogs bred by those breeders who exploit their dogs to the point of abuse, just to make a buck. So until this quandary can be sorted out, it is a problem that all of us must deal with, and it is important for us to save these lost and homeless dogs to the best of our ability. It is also important that we educate dog owners and encourage breeders to breed responsibly, encouraging spaying and neutering, and remembering, not to punish any dog, for humans mistakes and ignorance.
These are COOL! Unlike earlier versions that can be bought on amazon, these “smart” tags will last for years. These tags contain the latest in digital Smartphone Technology. Like a normal rabies tag, each tag shows the current required information, the Vet Clinic name and phone number on the front, but on the back, the tag contains a QR code that provides key information on the Pet, the Owner and the Veterinary Clinic. Each Tag also provides a digital Pet Health Profile with the Pet’s complete medical and vaccination history. And if the pet gets lost, a finder with a smartphone can scan the tag which will automatically send a text and an e-mail alert to the owner and a GPS location of exactly where the pet is. If your vet doesn’t have these yet, Have them contact Stone manufacturing &Supply Com. AlsoCheck out this web site http://www.vetidtags.com This is where you go to register your pet’s tag.
This is a great option, along with a microchip, to make sure that your pet is always returned to you if he gets away or lost
where to buy: www.stonemfg.net
Price: only available from your veterinarian, $10.00 -$15.00