Adopt-a-thon

Hello friends!

I’m going to change the pace and write something that will hopefully give you happy tears for a change – Imagine!

This weekend I had the pleasure of volunteering at an Adopt-a-thon. PetSmart and SPCA teamed up all weekend long to host PetSmart – NB’s first ever Adopt-a-thon – How exciting! We paired experienced SPCA volunteer handlers with an adoptable dog to create an interactive experience. There were also four SPCA cats up for adoption – you should see their adoption space, there’s even a play space in the back!

adoption center - cats
3 floors per cat kennel!
cat adoptions
Puuurrrrfect

PetSmart

PetSmart partners with non-profit animal shelters like the SPCA to create an interactive space for adoptable animals. Plus, they get tons more animal lovers coming through naturally. Our hope was to expose these little fur babies to a great experience and more – people who may be interested in giving them their forever home.

I believe PetSmart is only in Canada/US. Here’s a bit of background for my European/Aussie peeps! They are an all-in-one pet warehouse where they welcome you to come shop WITH your pet! Some locations may also have some of the following: Grooming, Overnight boarding, Training and Doggie Daycare. I’m usually all for supporting the little guy – i.e. small business, but I love me some PetSmart!

Back to the Adopt-a-thon!

To reduce the amount of returns completed like a Wal-Mart customer service desk, we ask a lot of questions up front. After all, we hope for a forever home, not a weekend stay.

  • Temperament testing sheets were available
  • Vaccinations were up to date
  • Volunteers were on hand to call references immediately (including 3 non family members and current/past vet contact)
  • Training: PetSmart trainers were present to speak to potential owners about helpful hints on whatever concerns they had. They also volunteered to help socialize any new adoptees to any new furry brothers/sisters.
  • Second thoughts? We were urged to tell people to think it through, take the night to think it through or bring their families in for a second visit.
  • Financials – PetSmart had these savvy sheets that outlined financial costs associated with dog ownership.
  • Spaying contracts – As all the dogs had been neutered we did not require spaying contracts to be signed.

We were ready. Doors opened, and it was time.

Meet the dogs

Chance:

I had a lovely 8 year old German Shepherd named Chance – appropriately named! His family had him for 8 years before surrendering him due to moving. A sad story, and one seen too often.

Lots of action
Chance meeting his new parents for the first time!
Chance outside
Bathroom break
Chance and Mike
It was love

Chances new parents saw him, and we took him for a walk outside together. I heard their story. They only adopt Senior’s, and call themselves the “Golden Oldies”. They’re mission is inspiring. They adopt Senior dogs and cats and give them a safe and happy place to live out their golden years. How AMAZING is that?

Chance had never lived with other animals before. They currently owned a 9 year old Bernese Mountain dog (*sigh*), a 7 year old Shepherd mix and 2 cats (14 and 16 years) on 20 beautiful acres of country space. Once we called their references, including their current vet, Chance went home with them. The lovely couple brought all 3 dogs in later the afternoon for a bath, so we got to see him again. Who doesn’t love a SPA DAY! They said Chance went into the house, sniffed everyone, grabbed a football and jumped up on the couch to have a nap.

Enjoy your new home my friend!

Mishka:

Mishka means mouse in Czech!
Mishka means mouse in Czech!

This little lovebug is 3 year old Lab/Retriever/Shepherd mix Mishka. Mishka’s been with us since November. She’s a sweetheart, with the focus and smarts of a Shepherd. What a terrific combo.

Mishka was found as a stray. Posters were put up, she was announced on the radio and a profile was made on the SPCA website and Facebook page. No responses. During testing, we found she can be slightly reactive to other dogs, but appeared fine other then that.

Mishka’s new family had been looking for a puppy. When they came in for catfood, they took home more then they had initially planned on. The connection they had was instantaneous. They’re references checked out, they had budgeted appropriately and their vet gave a glowing report! Mishka was adopted!

They also bought adult training sessions for Mishka to start working on her reactive nature, starting this week. Wins and tail wags for all.

The first family photo
A first family photo

Pepsi:

Pepsi teaching me to parle francais!
Pepsi teaching me to parle francais!

I know I’m not supposed to play favorites, but too bad – he’s it!

This dog has a better resume then I do! Pepsi is also our longest resident. He’s been with us since June 2012. He had been microchipped and spayed – proving he had been taken care of once. His family was contacted and they said they do not have the time/energy and did not want him back. He found the shelter a highly stressful environment and was put into a Foster home in December. Pepsi has come a LONG way. He’s extremely social and loves people and big dogs.

One small fault – Pepsi tries to herd anything smaller then him – it’s the Border Collie in him. What a great agility dog he would be!

Pepsi’s Resume

  • -Border Collie/Lab mix
  • – 3 year old
  • – High Energy
  • – bilingual
  • – SMART! This dog learned sit, sit/stay for 10 mins, down, paw, dance, crawl and beg in the matter of a 2 month span.
  • Check out his video here!

Pepsi did not get adopted, but is still looking for his forever home. I added him into the mix as I adored working with him and I wanted to showcase how amazing Foster Care can be. What a difference to the anxious dog I met months earlier.

These were the three dogs that I worked with during Saturday/Sunday. There were many others in attendance – Here are just a few others!

Bruno face
Bruno came to the SPCA a month ago. Badly frostbitten and with a split tail, Bruno rebounded amazingly. He met everyone with tail wags, smiles and a request for bellyrubs. A true ambassador for the Rottweiler breed.
Cupid face
Cupid a Pit mix, only 4 months old found his forever home finally on Saturday! He had been adopted twice before and returned both times. His owners found him too active – COMMON he’s a puppy!
Katie face
Katie’s going home to another sister boxer today!
Rex  -after
I thought Rex the Corgi/Terrier mix needed a little sprucing up. What a party animal.
Rex the corgi - before
That face!
Willer
Willer, an amazingly well behaved Shar-pei 7 year old mix! Willer impressed everyone, but still has yet to find his new home.

I’m proud to say that all in all, 8 new furry family members are sleeping in warm new beds as of Sunday. Meeting all these families first hand, I have no doubts that they will be amazing parents. It was an amazing experience to participate in.

I know all over Canada and the US, most PetSmart’s are partnership with a local Animal Shelter of their choice.

adoptable weekends

If you’re interested in participating – please do not hesitate to contact your local PetSmart to find out more.

Thanks for reading !

Dailyspro

*If you’re interested in any of the other dogs listed, please see monctonspca.ca for more information!

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Losing a pet, It’s not just you..

Dear friends,

When your family loses a pet, your ENTIRE family loses a pet. Not just your two footed bi-ped members, but your furry four footed ones as well. The purpose of my writing today –  a friendly reminder to take care of your furry friends (as well as yourself) during this very tough time.

I’m ashamed to say that when we first lost Newton, I was so lost in my own anguish that I forgot this all important thought.

Of course, I kept up with their daily routine and was a good parent – but not a present one. I was stuck in a self-centered sad bubble of a life for a little while. Thankfully I went home to my parents at Christmas time to drink a lot of wine and cry heal. This was a change of pace for Stewart and Frankie and they got a ton of attention they so deserved.

Merriam-Webster.com describes grief as;

1. obsolete : suffering, distress
2. a cause of distress (as an unsatisfactory working condition) felt to afford reason for coplaint or resistance

Obsolete, so final and definitive. Exactly how I felt.

The point I’m getting at is that for those first few weeks, I was lost. I was grasping for reason, some semblance of normalcy. I’m not beating myself up about this, as I was learning my way. Nonetheless what I should have been was a better, and more present Momma, to the two wonderful fur kids I still had.

To help give you some understanding of our story, I’ll share a little bit about my two lovely fur-kids.

The story of Stewart and Frank “the tank”

Stewart has always been the more resilient of the two. We had him from around the 4-6 week mark of his life. He literally found us and chose us to be his.

Stewart - Day 1
Stewart – Day 1

Stewart’s always gone in the car (LOVES it in fact), he’s gone on road trips, spent time with other members of our family, goes with us on our week long summer getaways. My point – Stewart has always surprised us with his acceptance of change.

In case you don’t believe me…

stew snow
Deep snow, not an issue
Stew car
Packed in the car, ready to go!
best co-pilot
Best Co-pilot/Navigator combo
cattage stew
Obviously stressed about the first day at the cottage…

Most importantly, when we introduce new members into our family, he stays as cool as a cucumber. Here are some pictures of his first minutes with both new family members.

Stewart and Frankie day 1

day with Newton


Frankie on the other hand, does not deal well with change.

Frankie does not like dress up
Frankie does not like dress up, can’t say I blame him… haha
Do deal with stress, he usually tries to hide in the sink...
To deal with stress, he usually tries to hide in the sink…

We adopted Frankie almost 3 years ago when my fiance and I were volunteering at the SPCA. We were looking for a furry friend for Stewart, and found Frankie. He had been named “Gadget”. He was born and lived all 10 months of his life thus far in the kennel at the SPCA. We fell in love with him instantly. We found out that his hind end muscles had never developed properly, and he was left unable to jump, sprint or walk in a straight line. We chose not to be sad about this fact, it was just Frankie.

We like to think that as Frankie ran face first into the plexi-glass when he first saw us, he was giving us a sign… I mean COME ON… A cat trying to jump through fake glass to get at you?

We got approved for adoption and took him home almost immediately. Once Frank the tank was cozy, he showed us he does not like his routine disturbed. He’s actually kind of a jerk sometimes (albeit, our own lovable jerk). Wherever we went, he marked his territory by seeking out each and every corner of his new temporary home and hissing at it (obviously terrifying all the spiders lurking in the corners). Even so, I considered Frankie my little lovebug from the start, he snuggles whenever and wherever he can.

It's hard to get any work done when your boss is so snuggly....
It’s hard to get any work done when your boss is so snuggly….

We both cheered him on as his back legs developed muscles over time. As he eventually learned to jump and run stairs for the first time, we were witnessing milestones really.

However, due to his temperament and aversion to change, I believe he was affected more then Stewart by Newton’s sudden departure from our lives.

During those first 2 weeks home, anything I saw of Newton’s made me burst into tears. I took everything that was “his” and placed it in the spare bedroom and shut the door. I couldn’t look. I noticed Frankie’s change immediately. He snuck around the house, my own personal “velcro”, then would let out what I can only describe as “yowls of death”. I thought something was seriously wrong with his health.

Then I had a thought.

I brought back out one of Newton’s dog beds. Immediately he curled up and stayed there for almost two days, leaving only to eat and use the litter box.

“I’m a terrible person for not trying this sooner”, I thought to myself. I lifted him off the dog bed and “traded”. I brought out one of Newton’s old blankets, which I folded and tucked into a basket. Four weeks later, Frankie still lays in his basket, with Newton’s blanket inside. He lays beside the couch from 7:30 pm – 11 pm every night while I watch terrible reality TV. He does not come to bed with me like he used to, but I know he’s content where he is. There are no more “yowls of death”, and he acts like his happy self. Frankie still cannot run a straight line to save his life, but what really do you require that skill for?

In their happy places. Stewart gets any closer and he'll have to change his facebook status to "In a relationship"
In their happy places. Frankie in his basket. Stewart scarily close to his personal heater.

The main thing is he’s back to playing with Stewart, inquisitive about new visitors and eating normally. So, why did all this happen?

My cat was grieving.

I’m not writing to make you sad, even on such a topic. I’m sharing this with you all to hopefully learn from my mistakes. I should have been aware earlier on, and helped make the transition for all in our household, as easy as possible.

Cesar Milan writes,

“A dog that has lost a companion may show signs of emotional distress with a lack of appetite, aloof behavior, or even be demanding of attention and affection. We have to remember that when a living animal relates to another for a long period of time, they do develop relationships; they do create habits, routines, boundaries and even rules around each other. When suddenly one of the ‘partners’ is no longer there, the dynamic changes.”

I think this can also pertain to cats as well. Frankie, never great with change, must have had quite the shock.

Messybeast.com further remarks,

“Though it may seem an odd question, how are you responding to the loss? Cats are sensitive to changes in human emotions, behaviour and routine. If you are upset, your cat will respond to this and may become anxious, depressed, agitated or physically unwell.”

Of course I was a mess! Not a hot mess at that… A cat is never “just a cat” and a dog is never “just a dog”. They are important members of your family. An important part of ours abruptly went missing, we were not whole. I was anxious, depressed, easily agitated and did not go back to my normal routine of work, gym, dinner, family pet time. Things had changed, and I had too. How could I not expect my furry friends to pick up on this? We needed to find a new normal. So we are picking up the pieces.

Getting back to a "new normal"
Getting back to a “new normal”

If you’ve lost a furry friend, I’m so very sorry for your loss. There is no time limit for grief. Take all the time you require, but make sure you do not get lost in it. Do not let it define you. Whether you like it or not, you will have to find your new normal.

My advice to you, should you go through this terrible ordeal, is observe your other pets’ behavior. Sometimes I’m sure what they need is to feel some semblance of normalcy – just as you do. Just as important, is to ensure you take care of yourself in this difficult time. I’ve offered suggestions that have helped me here. I should have also added to ensure that you give your pets some extra TLC. It’ll make you both feel better, after all snuggles never hurt. Do not feel bad if you find your feelings of grief do not subside. Know there are many groups and professionals available and ready to help.

Wishing you all happy days, it will get better.

Thanks for reading,

Dailyspro

My first blogging award!

Hi friends,

Awww shucks - thanks!
Whoa, how did that get there?  Really? Awww shucks !

I’m so behind on my writing, but for good reason. Ahh so much upcoming that I need to write about (cue suspense music). I wanted to take a few moments and thank Mayra Bitsko for nominating my blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award – Thank you for the nomination. If you haven’t checked her blog out yet, she’s a terrific, passionate writer who also is a dog lover/owner – yay!

As most of you know, this is a therapeutic process for me. I’m happy that even sharing some of this difficult process is helpful to another.

I wasn’t quite sure how to go about this, as it was my very first nomination so here goes. I’ve never been good with rules, so like all things best to start at the beginning.

Here are the rules of the award:

1.) Display the award logo on your blog.
2.) Link back to the person who nominated you.
3.) State 7 things about yourself.
4.) Nominate 15 bloggers for this award.
5.) Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping back.

7 Things About Me

1 – I am the proud mama of two rescue cats: Stewart Scoudouc (Orange Tabby) & Frank the Tank (“Frankie” – Russian Blue mix). Frankie was born without the proper functioning of all of his back leg muscles, leaving him unable to jump/move quickly. We rescued him when he was almost 1. As his muscles evolved, he had his first jump/hop EVER onto an armchair when he was 2.5. Although Stewart hated him on site for the first few weeks, you can see that they have formed a bond and understanding.

Stew2 Stew1

2 – I have been with the love of my life for almost 14 years, and we’ve been doing part time long distance for the last 3 years.

3 – I was an elementary teacher for 6 years, before switching to a wonderful marketing position. Teaching is an amazing job, one that I definitely miss from time to time but love my new job!

4 – There are three things that relax me completely in life – animals, cooking and my family.

5 – My socks will never match

6 – I believe if you are an animal lover, and have the time, space and means to do it – you should always own animals. I truly believe ife is better with pets.

7 – I believe in the Karma of the Universe – what you put out is what you’ll get back.

15 Blogs that inspire me on a daily basis, and usually make me smile are….

1. http://ohmelvin.com/ – Wonderful, quirky blog about a girl and her two wonderful rescue companions. Loads of personality, plus she makes me want to have an office just like hers!

2. http://gardensforgoldens.com/ – Simply an amazing and inspiring project!

3. http://markingourterritory.wordpress.com/ – exploring great topics for all dog lovers, including how/where to travel with a dog! Plus, Eko’s pretty darn cute. Inspirational is the bond they have!

4. http://raisingmyrainbow.com/ – A blog about a family raising a fabulous gender creative son.

5. http://gorginggeorge.com/ – Fellow Canadian, foodie and lover of GIANT dogs, she inspires me to cook beautiful, fresh food on those lazy days when I don’t want to. Love all her recipes!

6. http://wordpress.com/#!/read/blog/id/40966220/ – A beautiful Golden Retriever, Miss Harper Lee’s point of view and sense of humor will make you smile.

7. http://thegradyreport.wordpress.com/ – Fellow NB’er writing an inspiring blog about a blind dog and his guide human. Make sure to read the backstory about Grady!

8. Evis Lens – Such a talented photographer!

9. Lesley Carter’s http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/about-me/ – Simply described as inspirational, she lives each day as if it’s her last, with meaning, purpose, adventure and passion.

10. 2me4art – I love art, photography and jewelry. She creates amazing, one of a kind jewelry. I only wish I could start AND FINISH the beautiful projects she creates!

11. PuppyVision – 8 years young, life with Panda the Bernese is always enjoyable to read about.

12. A photographic journal of a wonderful Jack Russell named Sawyer, make sure to check out Adventures with Sawyer!

13. Slowgirlfastdog – A great blog about the hilarity of owning fast dogs while training for a half marathon.

14. The life and times of Zoey – A wonderful blog about life and living with a paraplegic cat and other pets.

15. Peace, Love and Fostering – A photographic and well written view of fostering animals and making a difference!

I know I’ve missed many of you! I do enjoy all of your blogs, videos, posts and pics. Thank you for the ongoing support.

I’ll leave you with something Mayra Bitsko included in her post –

Sometimes you make a positive impact on others without realizing it. ;)

Yes, I’m talking about all of you! So thank you all for all of your wonderful, funny, supportive, happy, sad and always inspiring posts.

Keep writing,

Dailyspro

Commemorative thoughts

Hello friends,

First of all, if you are reading this, you’ve probably either lost or are losing a furry friend. Please know I’m very sorry for your loss. It is never easy. Take solace in the fact that you gave them a great life, and don’t be too hard on yourself. My post today is dedicated to discussing a multitude of ways to commemorate your best friend.

Everyone is different. I know as I go through my own grieving process, I’m looking for ways to continue to keep Newton near and dear. We were a one dog family, we went from arranging our entire day around Newton to nothing. I was lost. In the beginning I don’t mind admitting that I was desperately searching for anything that I could hang on to. There are still days that I want to stay in my jammies, listen to some sad tunes and down a bottle glass of vino. I’ve found a better way (for me). Most of you who follow my blog know I started working with the SPCA again after losing my best buddy. Being around dogs who need so much, allow me a new routine that makes me feel necessary again. They give me strength, love, laughter and a purpose when I felt I had little.

These are not ways to ease grief, only time can do that. Instead, when you’re ready, and are looking for a way to commemorate your furry friend – this list may be helpful. Find something that speaks to you, and represents your lost companion and your bond. It can be very therapeutic.

First of all ignore those people who say, “It’s just a dog”. Thoughtless words. In my opinion, they will never understand so do not waste your time with them. They do not belong in your process.

Commemoration  – Let me count the ways

1. Write a Eulogy, it helps to think back and remember all the great times. Trust me, you’ll go back and re-read this.

2. Have a ceremony. We have yet to have ours, but it will be coming. I want to spread Newton’s ashes in his favorite places, and we have to wait until Spring in order to do this. I’ve been told it helps, especially little ones, with closure.

3. If your a writer, write a letter. I wrote and then shared mine here. If you’re an artist, paint. If you’re into music – write a song. Another blogger friend is having a ring designed to represent her pup and their bond. I thought that this was beautiful. Any form of expression is healthy.

4. Plant a tree. Most dogs love being outside. Plant something that is representative of them, that will bloom every year and give you a beautiful reminder. Some people even plant a flower, bush, tree or garden in a spot of significance. If you need a little inspiration, check out a blogger friend’s project – “Gardens for Goldens“. They’ve taken their project to a whole new level!

tree of love

5. Store the memories somewhere, including photos, a favorite toy etc. I decided to make a picture book that has all photos of Newton, in all stages of life. I wanted a place that I could go back and remember all the good times. Further, I’ll be getting close friends and family members to sign it and include a favorite memory. I’ll be bringing this out on those sad, dark days. If a photo book isn’t your cup of tea, Modern dog magazine has some pretty exceptional ideas here. The blog, My wonderful life, has another list of unique ideas here.

6. If you know your pet is terminal or have little time together left, make a list. When we found out we were losing Newton, we made a list of everything we knew he loved. The vet thought we would only have less then a week left with him. If he was up to it, we wanted to try and fit everything he loves into this 6 day period. We were lucky, he was never in pain and he was able to do many of these things. It was a celebration of his life for 6 days.

My entire point, make your days all epic days.

If you all haven’t seen this wonderful video of a man who gives his dog, who has cancer, his last epic meal. It’s touching, and a real tear jerker. Amazing to watch if you’re able.

__________________________________________________________________

Newton’s list

– Visit his best furry friends (if he’s feeling up to it).

– Visit original Grandmom (Breeder), with brother Richard and sister Livy (He loved it here)

– Eat a Christmas Turkey dinner, with gravy

– Eat a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, (He ate 4) I know he’s always wanted this…..

– Make a snowman for him to “kill”

– Cuddle as much as he wants.

– Invite Aunties and Uncles to visit – We invited and almost everyone came during one point or another over this 6 day period. It was a wonderful send off.

– Take one last hike as a family – Newton loved hiking. He was feeling weak so we never ended up finishing this one off. However we had more then enough family hikes throughout his life to remember.

_________________________________________________________________

7. During the time you would normally spend together, keep yourself busy. If you had a specific time that you would walk together, make sure to do something else. These can be the saddest times if you’re alone. Finding something else to do can make this easier.

8. Try something I call “Fur Therapy”. Whether it be visiting another cat or dog, boarding a friends fur-kid or volunteering at your nearest shelter, it can be extremely therapeutic. If you’re an animal lover, animals may be healing for you. I know this has worked amazingly well for me. I’ve also been boarding dogs on weekends for friends and family members and volunteering. It has given me a purpose.

9. Read Jon Katz’s book “Going Home“. He speaks about something called the “Good Life”. A wonderful notion which I think would give most solace. Read more on my review of this here. If you’d like a quick snapshot – here’s a excerpt from Going Home.

10. Read “Rainbow Bridge“. A beautiful piece of writing.

rainbow bridge

11. If you need, reach out to people who understand. There are a multitude of pet grieving groups. People who are in these groups will not judge, only listen.

12. Cry when you need to. There is nothing wrong with it.

13. Write a list of everything you learned from your companion. It’ll make you sad at first, but then extremely thankful they were ever a part of your life.

14. This one may be too early to mention, but I’m going to put it out there. When you’re ready, welcome a new furry friend into your lives. This is best way to celebrate a life. Practice everything your lost companion taught you. This could take a few months, or even a few years. When you’re ready, you’ll know. Grief does not have a time limit.

This is a difficult road to take. I hope you’ll find the above list helpful. If any of you have any other ideas, please comment below. I look forward to hearing about them and sharing them with others who are going through this terrible time.

I’ve gotten so many responses back from so many of you. It shocked me at first. The support many of you have shared, I’ll be forever grateful for. This process is the hardest part of being a pet owner. Know that you are not alone. We are lucky to have them in our lives at all, they always leave far too early. If you haven’t seen the link going around, check out A dog’s purpose: According to a 6 year old here. It’s a beautiful thought.

Grief is a powerful thing, do not lose yourself in it. There will come a time when you remember the great times, and tears do not fall every time. Until then, I hope some of the above helps.

Thanks for reading,

Dailyspro

RIP dear friend

Thank you for all you've done.
My Newt – Thank you for all you’ve done.

Paperwork and Personalities

Hello friends,

My fiance and I took another visit to the now two week old Bernese Mountain dog puppies. It was his first time returning since we went to meet and discuss a home for our Newton, 3 years prior. We once again were received with face licks, body wiggles and Berner smiles (From the dogs, not the breeder – haha). After an little while chatting with one of the breeders and snuggling with the 2 week old puppies, we went to a friends’ surprise birthday party.

puppy snuggles are the best kind
puppy snuggles are the best kind!
Week 2 - eyes are open!
Week 2 – eyes are open!

My mind however lingered on the Berners. I know there’s a long wait list for puppies, so when we arrived home we talked. We talked about our readiness, our commitment, our finances, our time, and of course Newton. As you can imagine, I talked the most. What came out of our chat was that we believe we’ll be ready to welcome our arms up after our big three week trip to Europe in July.

While Newton still has my heart, I think I’m able to share what bits are left. Waiting for a bit longer will also give me more time to work on what I need to.

I need some more time just to honor and remember Newton. It may sound strange, but I feel as if I’m giving him a disservice if I stop what I’m doing now. Also, let’s be serious I could not have a new puppy or dog and leave for 3 weeks. Thank you to my Mr. for making me realize this. There is just NO WAY. Even though we’d have fantastic support, I’d constantly be thinking of everything I was missing out on! If it turns out to be a rescue or a puppy, we need to reintroduce consistency. Leaving for 3 – 4 weeks is exactly the opposite!

I also took my Mr. to the SPCA with me yesterday. He met my new buddy Rusty. Rusty is super sweet, but very timid to strangers and anything new. He’s like the 80 year old woman next door that peeks out from behind her curtains, curious about what’s going on but wants his door closed for protection against life. We’ve developed a special relationship – in the dog runs, he runs into my arms full speed and turns last minute and collapses in them. Always giving me face licks in the process.  I really need to work with him on the full speed ahead tactic 🙂 We worked with him meeting my Mr. (new people!), going past with his tail high and wagging, and ears up, rewarding him the entire time. He also went to meet my Mr. once free in the training room all by himself, sniffing his leg and hand, allowing my Mr. to even reward a head pat or two. What a good boy!

"listening"
“listening”
good boy
Being a good boy, greeting new people with tail wags!

Then there’s Des. You’ve met Des before, she puts me through my paces every single freaking time. Walking her is a workout. I can’t even try and manage her until she has run out her energy. We take her to a dog run, play “catch the snowball” and run the excitement out of her. Then we get to work on her resource guarding. Des is like the grouchy old man of my little pack that likes HER things. “Silly youngsters”, I can imagine her saying, “Keep your paws off my stuff!”. She has been letting me slowing get closer to her as she holds her tennis ball. Today she looked at me while holding her tennis ball with her tail wagging, I rewarded her with a butt scratch. She dropped the tennis ball at my feet. PROGRESS!!

old man
This photo does not do Des justice, she’s actually a beautiful dog. I had to spend all my attention on her, rather then taking pics.

So we came home and took one more step forward – We filled out the applications for both the SPCA and the breeder. We want to be ready in case we find the right rescue or the right puppy or dog for our family after our trip. We wanted to get started early as I know some people who have been waiting a year or two for one of their Berner puppies. There are a few reasons for this, first of all, they do not churn out puppies like a puppy mill. Secondly, they only breed dogs that pass their pen/hip score clearances and eye exams. This helps weed out early hip/elbow displaysia and the eye/health issues that Berners are prone to. We’re going to fill out another form for the Bernese Rescue Society of Canada after our trip.

I’ve discovered three things throughout this process so far.

1. I never want to be just a single dog family again. Ideally I’d like to welcome our arms in July/August to a new furry friend, then keep our eyes and ears open shortly after for another.

2. Filling out both forms was both exciting and gut wrenching *sigh*.

3. Our retirement plan will be to Foster dogs 🙂 Long term planning at it’s finest, we’ll see – maybe we’ll be ready before!

There was a guilt that I felt about moving on to another dog that I knew would be there, but still did not feel comfortable. Newton will forever be a part of me, this I know. I’ve said this once, but I believed he was the daily food for my soul. Sounds dramatic, but true nonetheless. I am trying to consider this next step a tribute to him. A testament to him, making us better owners and dog lovers. Newt would want us to be happy, living life to it’s fullest as he did.  Our lives are the happiest and richest when we have a furry friend by our side. Until July, we’ll keep taking it day by day, week by week, month by month.

Aww Newton, the best teacher in the world. Photo cred: Norma Jean Worden Rogers
Aww Newton, the best teacher in the world. 

Thanks for reading,

Dailyspro

A dog’s language

Hi friends,

I went to the SPCA last night to walk some of my oranges. As I walked through the kennels I noticed a few things, let me tell you first the good news. I immediately saw that two of the dogs I regularly work with had been adopted, with a third pending!

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Way to go Leela! My Leela, who hates all men.
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Way to go Sophie!!

It’s policy that we are not to take the dogs out once the adoption papers have been finalized as they no longer belong to the SPCA. I immediately gave Newton a “high-5” in my head. I locked eyes and gave them each a “great job”. I was so happy for these dogs. Furthermore that someone else had connected with them, saw beyond the orange and yellow sheets explaining their issues (Colors are a way of identifying a dog’s temperament, Green = easiest, yellow = a few issues, Orange = please read all testing & check with manager before handling).

Then I turned the corner and saw Big Ben’s kennel. It was empty. Ben was an interesting case, a 4 year old half husky, half shepherd. One of the prettiest dogs I’ve ever seen. All alert eyes, with a body that was ready to spring into action upon the snap of some fingers. I took my fiance in to meet him once, all he said was “whoa, that’s a pretty dog”. He was a dog who I’ve learned the most from as a volunteer. Ben made me work for everything.

I had a friend that once said,

“The most stubborn and difficult dogs can be the ones you learn the most from”

Ben had never exhibited aggression to humans to my knowledge, however canine, feline or any other furry friend had better watch out. I don’t know why Ben was surrendered, or anything about Ben’s previous life. He was surrendered without a reason given. Ben had a few issues. He responded to uncertainty with “fight” rather then “flight” when presented with other furry friends. Loud noises and surprises frequently made him feel this uncertainty as well.

Walks with Ben made me more alert , I always had to be aware of my surroundings, ensuring his (and others) safety. When handling, grooming or practicing commands/manners, I had to be completely immersed in the process, ensuring I was aware of his level of comfort at all times. I’ve always felt that I was in tune with the body language of a dog, but he brought me to a whole new level.

It’s a sad story that I write about today. Ben did the unforgivable – he bit another volunteer. I think it may have been quite bad. He sadly wrote his own ending and passed over the rainbow bridge yesterday. I know that some of you may be torn about my next comment – I believe that Ben may have been part victim and part aggressor here. I know that might seem strange to say, and not all of you will understand my way of thinking.

Let me elaborate. I know the volunteer he was with, a green volunteer who just wants to be around dogs. I think this wonderful, further that she’s wonderful. Working with the oranges may not be where some volunteers/owners belong. These dogs deserve love yes and attention – but they also need more: consistency, a firm and fair demeanor and most of all an understanding of boundaries. I’m not saying that what he did was ok. I’m saying this may have been avoidable.

Ben, a dog who I’ve worked with for 5 weeks has never even shown a hint of aggression towards me. He greeted all orange volunteers the same, with the wag of a tail, a hand lick and a love for humanity. I also understand he greeted us this way because we had not ever proved him otherwise. I believed that there was a person out there without kids, without other pets that would have understood him and gave him a forever home.

I think the key is understanding a dogs’ body language and respectful handling, Orange dogs can also find their forever homes. It takes time though, and Shelter dogs aren’t always given all the time they need. In an already tense environment, kenneled with other dogs all around (not a great environment for Ben) – Ben needed to be put through the paces, tired prior to handling, easing his tense nerves. Not everyone might understand this, or take the time to read thoroughly through his temperament testing.

Some people wish that their dogs could talk, I believe if we look close enough – we can read them. Listen to what they have to say. A dogs’ body language can tell us all we need to know.

A few links worth looking at go further into this:

Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan explains in this video about compatibility and interpretation. Cesar is waaayyyy above my personal abilities, I think these cases are better left to experts. In the meantime, I’ll be comfy just working on my listening skills.

I found this video quite interesting as well, and more pertinent to Ben’s case. We always want to touch dogs, but not all dogs want to be touched. Check out eileenanddogs.com video on body language and petting here.

Since I was not there, I hate to jump to conclusions. What I do know is this: Ben has never exhibited any signs of aggression with me. I’d like to think that if with a little more understanding and respect for a Ben’s comfort level and needs, this all could have been avoided. Some people may argue that Ben was a ticking time bomb. In this case, I do not agree. I know it’s a controversial topic.

I say this as I have seen the positive, the light. Once he became comfy, he seeked out my hand to rub against his ear, his special spot that he loved being scratched. He made me laugh constantly. Ben had a great sense of humor. The right owner may have come along, they also may not have either. As an SPCA volunteer, you cannot afford to think this way.  I like to think that the right home would have worked on this with him, protecting him and others in the process.

In this world of partnerships between human and canine, we have an upperhand. As we can dictate the fate of such dogs. I think it’s a responsibility that we have and should take seriously when handing special dogs, such as Ben. We need to listen to what they have to say.

Another sad side of this is that dogs who have not been given their forever home before passing over the rainbow bridge aren’t given the same respect, grieving, and remembrance of life.  I believe they deserve this too, and I know I’m not alone. So today, despite Ben doing the unforgivable, I dedicate this post to him. Ben, thank you for teaching me to be more compassionate, more understanding, more patient and more alert and in tune with your language.

Lastly I leave you all with this…

Dear Ben, when you pass the rainbow bridge I wish for you lots of doggy treats, big fields without leashes to run and explore, incredible adventures, no other dogs or cats and many humans of your choosing to give you head scratches ONLY when YOU want. I choose to simplify this process and remember you only for the positive.

Ben, If my Newton does meet you, know he will be your friend. He will continue teaching you that not all dogs are enemies, I hope he will show you that some can become friends.

I ask you, if you would, fellow dog lovers to take a moment to think of my friend Ben.

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The only pics

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Rest in peace my dear friend,

Dailyspro