Sunday, 26 May 2013

The "poo" noise!

I've had my dog for almost 2 years now.  In these last 24 months, we've had our ups and downs..I've fed him/he's bitten me...I've walked him/he's attacked me...I've taken care of him/he's eaten all the cushions off every sofa...I've petted him/he's sneezed in my face!  Yes, we've had our ups and downs...and we've had a very complex relationship.

And, in these 24 months, I've gotten to really know him.  I know when he's happy, I know when he's hungry, I know when he's tired, and..most importantly...I know when he has to relieve himself.  I'm not just talking about when I get home from work and he runs outside to pee (or mark every single solitary tree, bush, fence, railing, fire hydrant, mailman) in sight.  Nooo.  I'm talking the big one.  The yucky one that I, as a conscientious owner, have to pick up..I'm talking about his poop.  I can always tell when he has to poop.

You see, my dog has several sounds that he makes.  He has this kinda yawning noise he makes when he's super excited.  When he sees his girlfriend (a golden doodle about 2 months older than him), he yawns loudly and runs to her.  They can play together for ever..and he doesn't like it one bit when it's time to go home.

He also makes his stretching noise.  This one makes me quite envious.  When he wakes up in the morning, he gets down on the floor, stretches out his front paws, butt in the air (he looks a lot like a cat doing this).  He actually sighs.  He loves this.  Then he gets up and stretches out his back legs one at a time.  My husband and I think he was a Nordic skier in his previous life.  He just keeps on sighing until he's all stretched out.  I sure wish I could be that flexible.

Unfortunately, we've also hear his "I just got hurt" yelp.  Poor baby..he has, a couple of times, gotten his paw stepped on, or, when he was a puppy, the occasional 170 lbs Bernese would sit on his back.  The yelp breaks my heart.

Then he's got the "can't you see I want to play?" bark.  PWD's don't really bark all that much.  When they do, it's usually to get your attention.  So, if I'm talking to someone, or if the other dogs at the soccer field aren't paying attention to them..he barks just to let everyone one know to drop everything they are doing, and play with him.

Which brings me to his "poo" noise.  My hubby and son think I'm nuts..but I know the truth.  Whenever my little portie has to go, he makes a very complicated sound.  It's a cross between a yawn, yelp, and swallow at the same time.  I swear this is true!  There are some evenings, after dinner, after his walk, after we've brushed our teeth-and his..where he makes this sound.  Immediately, I order my, oh so wonderfully willing :( , 16 year old son to take him to the back yard because of the poo noise.    My son, who'd rather text then get up, refuses to believe this noise.  "Mom!!  He doesn't have a poo noise!!".  So of course, I turn to the next person closest to me and say to my hubby, "Oh sweetie, our dog is making his poo noise.  Can you please take him out?".  Hubby, who wakes up every morning at 5am, and who is almost dead asleep by 9p, looks at me and simply says, "no".

Now if my family just believed me, I wouldn't have to get up, put on a jacket, put on shoes, turn on the lights in the backyard (gotta scare away the skunks and raccoons), and go out there with him.  If my family would just believe me, I wouldn't have to take out the flashlight and go the the spot the dog "went"  I wouldn't have to get that wonderful poo bag, pick up after him, and leave it by the side of the house (where I hope to remember to remove it in the morning).  Yep, if my family only believed me, I could lie on the couch and bark out my orders to them...yep..they know our dog has a poo noise...but they're just wise to me.

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Monday, 2 July 2012

The Marine

So here we were, our little Portuguese Water Dog had been a member of our family for just over a year.  Cute as a button, loyal as heck to the 2 men in my family.  A real "family" pet.  He followed everyone around, he played with us in the back yard, he had his favourite toys, his favourite resting spots, his favourite games, heck, even his favourite friends.  His best friend was a Golden Doodle just 2 months older than him.  He just couldn't get enough of his favourite little missy,  and could play with her for hours on end.

Now my relationship with my little 14 month old dog was a completely different ball-game.  Although he'd let me pet him, he'd try to sit on me all the time.  Believe me, at 60 lbs, this got to be a little ugly.  When I'd gently pull him off me, he'd get agitated and try to sit on me no matter what I did.  My husband and son told me that it was a form of domination over me.  The only thing that would work was if I got up from my spot.

Back when my doggy was a 3 month old puppy, we had taken him to puppy training.  Our trainer at the time had told us that the way dogs assert their dominance over others was to take up their space.  In the canine world, if they are the "boss", they push each other out of the way.  That's why, in the wild, the pack leader usually eats 1st, followed by the other members of the pack.  The lowliest member gets to eat last.  Well, such was the case in my house.  Hubby and son would sit comfortably, but every time I'd try to occupy a space, doggy would be all over me....and that was domination just in the house.

Our walks were always horrible.  It had been over a year and I'd still come home from a walk in tears.  I had tried everything...long leash, short leash, tying him around my waist, giving him a chew toy on the walks, bringing treats along, wearing gloves (so my skin wouldn't tear from the constant chafing caused by the leash biting/pulling), I'd walk fast/slow, I'd ignore/pet the dog...never made a difference.  My dog would continue (after more than a year) to bite and pull the leash.  I think it's fitting that I mention we are on leash #11.

And so it went....I'd try to walk him much more often than the other members of the family..but to no avail.  Doggy was brutal with me.  The growling had gotten really bad too.  Lately, it was not only the biting and pulling of the leash, but it was the biting and growling at me that made it worse.  Of course they are very smart animals..for sure he would sense my apprehension as soon as the garage door would open.  But, in my very small world of master and servant, I did tense up as soon as we would leave the house.

I knew this wasn't normal.  People couldn't believe that this was happening a year later.  People couldn't believe that it was getting worse instead of better.  I finally knew what I had to do.  I had to call the Marine!!

The Marine is a local trainer here in my city.  I had heard both great and horrible things about him.  It seemed that the people who loved him, LOVED him.  Those that hated him....well you know.  There was no in-between with this guy.  I did lots of research on line about him.  I started noticing that all the bad reviews seemed to sound alike..almost if they were all written by the same person using a different alias..  Of course, I can't prove it, so I went to the people that loved him.  I thoroughly interrogated them...wanting to know what the Marine was really like.  In case after case, each person said that the Marine never trains the dog..he trains you, the owner.  Once again, dogs are really smart, so they can always pick up on your mood, etc...The Marine had helped these dog owners find themselves, had helped them open the lines of communication between dog and owner, and had helped the owner "talk" to the dog in canine terms.

I decided to give it a shot.

The Marine 1st came to my home to assess the situation.  He saw me interact with the dog.  He immediately began to correct the way I held the leash, the tone of my voice, and my stance.  He was really good with my doggy.  The Marine was not the "Marine" I had expected at all.  He spent over an hour with me.  After he left, I tried the walk on my own.  It went well for about 3 blocks (longer than ever before), and then the biting/pulling started.  I knew I wasn't going to see the Marine again for another week and a half...but...the difference between this training and the training I had had a year ago was huge.  A year ago, I had no idea what I was doing, and, no idea how the dog would react to me.  This time, I had a full year under my belt, and I knew how important it was to be "consistent", "persistent", and "insistent" when you're training a puppy/dog.

That week and a half was touch and go.  We had OK walks, and some that were nightmarish.  I went to the 2nd class (group classes from now on), then the 3rd, and the 4th.  I have to say that for about 1 week now, I've been holding the leash loosely in my left doggie walks right beside me..and he sits at every street corner.  Occasionally he'll get that crazy urge to bite the leash but it usually only lasts 2 minutes.  I still have a couple of lessons left.  I hope that my doggie will stop chasing squirrels (he tries to run out into the street), or will wait until we walk up to another doggy on our walks instead of running to the end of his leash trying to get to the other dog...all the while jumping on and off the sidewalk.

My goal is to keep doggie safe for ever..I want to keep him alive.  The dog is still the same dog he always's me that's been trained now..

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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Master and Servant

Back in the late 80's-early 90's, I'd go out a lot!  I just loved to dance.  I never drank, never flirted, never regretted any of my actions...I'd just dance, dance, dance the night away.

I had favourite groups too.  I just loved Depeche Mode.  To me, a young kid barely the legal age limit, I never really listened to their lyrics..just danced to the beat of their music, all night long.  One of my favourite songs that they had was "Master and Servant".  Like I said, I was very young and didn't really understand the undertones of the song.  All I knew was that it had a great club beat to it, and I could just close my eyes and get carried away with the music and rhythm. 

A few weeks back, as I was walking my little PWD devil dog, I started singing the words to "Master and Servant" to myself:

There's a new game
We like to play you see
A game with added reality
You treat me like a dog
Get me down on my knees
We call it master and servant
We call it master and servant

Now of course, as an adult, I see how inappropriate the words may seem to some people...but when I was walking my little devil dog on that warm evening, the words just popped in my head.

My doggie is definitely the "Master" in this relationship.  I'm not exactly "Servant", though.  In order for me to be a servant, the doggie would have to acknowledge me as Human.  Unfortunately, that is not the case in our complicated relationship. 

Our hierarchy is as follows:
15-year old son
Other Doggies

I wish that I could be the master in the relationship.  I see the other members of my family, I see the other people walking their doggies down the street...and I think, "One day, one day when I'm singing this song in my head...I'll actually be in charge..I'll actually be the boss..."  But for now, I'm down on my knees....while 14 month old doggie hold the leash.

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Grab Yer Pardner..Do-Si-Do

My 14 month old Portuguese Water Dog is in great shape.  He's lean, he's trim, and he's STRONG!!  Weighing in at just under 60 lbs, he's got the strength to pull down children, joggers, little old ladies, and of course, me!!!

He sure loves to pull..especially when the leash is in his mouth!!  He knows that once he's got that sucker firmly placed between his spectacularly white teeth, there is no way that anyone can make him budge.  (NOTE: husband and 15 year old son possess a power over my PWD that I haven't figured out yet...doggy walks exceptionally well with them)

Many moons ago, when doggy was but a 3 month old pup, we had taken him to a doggy training course.  Even then, when pup was at such an early age, the trainer could see that he would be giving me problems in the long run.  She would take me aside and give me secret tips she wasn't giving the other puppy owners in the class.  Actually, one day, she tied the pup's leash around my waist.  She said that if the pup could feel my movements, he would be better inclined to keep up with me and walk with me.  I felt like a moron.  There were all the other puppy owners walking like true masters, and I was the only chump with a dog tied around my waist.  That did not last long!!  I untied myself from the dog and tried to walk like everyone else.......

Fast forward one year later.  I still can't walk my dog.  He bites, pulls, jumps up, and always has the leash in his mouth (once again, let's be clear..only with else)  Walking him for 12 months has been the worse experience of my life.  There has been no bonding.  The only things he has given me is a twisted finger and tendinitis.  Oh, I also have shin splints from the awkward positions he puts me in while pulling.

One afternoon, while contemplating the next 14 years with my tormentor, I decided to watch an episode of the Dog Whisperer.  Cesar just made everything look so easy.  Then, I really took notice.  He was talking to a lady that had a demon dog.  He suggested that she tie the leash around her waist.  He did it with his own waist and the dog was walking perfectly next to him within a matter of moments.  She then tied the dog to her own waist.  Within a half hour, her doggy was the best walker ever!!!

So I thought, hey, my 1st trainer had suggested I do it, and then Cesar did it...what do I have to lose??

Yeah..TV, man nothing ever works out the way it does on TV.  Real life is so DIFFERENT..

I tied my doggy around my waist and started walking.  He kept pulling me on to lawns, up against trees, and out on the street.  He tried to pull me in front of a moving bus!!  He still pulled and bit the leash, but because he was so close to me now, he could nip at my hand or butt as well.

And so it goes, every-time I'm out walking, instead of holding the leash I have it tied around me.  I just keep hoping doggy won't go after squirrels, that hurts the most as he dashes out at a moment's notice and the leash jabs itself between my ribs.  Most of the time, though, I just look like I'm square around my dog down the street.  He's got me round the waist and he's just spinning me...spinning me..spinning me....

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Sunday, 10 June 2012

Dog Walk-Moon Walk

So here's the deal.  When I got my Portuguese Water Dog just over a year ago, he weighed all of 11 lbs.  Although he was not trained at all, he was pretty easy to control.  As Summer turned into Fall, and the weather got cooler, I started wearing gloves on our walks.

Then of course, with the cold Winter months, my gloves got heavier.  Doggy got heavier also, but I had no problem holding onto the leash and trying to get our walks under control.    He'd pull like crazy, but the leash always stayed firmly in my hand.

Then a strange thing happened...the snow started melting away and the weather started getting warmer.  By now, (March), doggie was close to 55 lbs.  As I started shedding layers of clothing to go out on our walks, the gloves got lighter.  Doggie never learnt to walk properly with me.  In the year that I had him, our walks had gone from bad to worse.  He still pulled and pulled...he bit the leash, he jumped on me and other poor unsuspecting passers-by.  He was getting to be a big dog who was completely out of control.

Back to the gloves.  One day, mid-March, the weather was wonderful.  All I needed to wear was a heavy gloves!  I took doggie out and the nightmare began.  The leash whipped across the palm of my hand.  I had horrible rope-burn on the fleshy part between my thumb and my forefinger.  IT HURT!!.

The next day, I took him out again, no gloves again, and with all his jumping and pulling, I twisted the pinky of my left hand!!  And so on, and so on..every time I would go out without any gloves, my hands would come back looking like raw meat.

Then it hit me, I started carrying 1 glove in my pocket.  Ever time I'd take little pooch out, I'd make sure I had my cell phone, 3 poop bags, and my right glove.  It didn't look too awkward in March and April.  In May I started getting weird looks.  By June, it was downright ridiculous!!  I'd be in shorts and a tank top, wearing my right glove, and I'd be flying down the street trailing after my pulling dog!!!

Look, I know I have the Michael Jackson thing going don't have to point, you don't have to laugh, you don't have to tell me.  I'm well aware of how crazy I look...but hey, the flesh has healed on my hands, my palms are no longer whipped, and I'm practicing my moonwalk too!!!

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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Bye-bye, Martha Stewart

When my husband and I first got married 17 years ago, we had fact we had less than nothing!!  Mind you, it could be argued that we had 2 things: 1-We had each other, and 2-we had a massive amount of debt!

But, we got ourselves a tiny 2 bedroom apartment, and slowly began to eradicate the debt. Slowly, over the years, we were finally able to save up enough pennies to put a down-payment on a house. We did finally buy a tiny little townhouse.  It was perfect for the 2 of us, and our little 3 year old son.  The house was small, but it suited us just fine.  We had a tiny garden/yard, and an even smaller deck.  The deck was only big enough for the BBQ and a very small round white plastic table with 3 chairs.  (The 4th chair had to be kept underneath the deck and would only come out if we had A guest!!)

For 8 years, we lived like that, but as our son got older, we started running out of room.  A 12 year old boy takes up a lot of space!!  We finally sold that house and moved to the one we live in now.  It's still not the mansion of my dreams, but it will do.  We moved at the end of the summer of 2009.  We finally had a deck that could actually fit a real table and chairs, but, because it was at the end of the season, the only outdoor furniture we could find was either way over priced, or really really bad quality.

So, onto 2010.  In April/May, we started looking for garden furniture.  The only thing we could find within our price range was a Martha Stewart collection at Home Depot.  Unfortunately, we were really early in the season so all the pieces weren't in yet.  We bought the table and chairs, but we had to wait 2 months for the parasol. I guess it wasn't such a bad thing, though, as 2010 produced a very rainy summer, so we hardly ever sat outside.

In 2011, we finally found the matching chaise longue and side table. We found it in October.  It had taken 2 years, but our set was finally complete!!  Late in the season, but complete nonetheless.

Finally, 2012 rolls around.  We've had an amazing year so far.  It's been warm, it's been sunny, and I've finally started enjoying my garden furniture that I had started piecing together 3 years ago.

Then, last week, I tied my little 14 month old Portuguese Water Dog outside for 15 minutes one morning.  I was running late and needed a little extra non-distracted time to fix my hair and make-up before I left for work.  The dog was out there between 645am-7am.  When I was ready, I went outside to bring him back in.  It was at that moment that I saw the carnage.  It took me a few seconds to process what my eyes were seeing.  There, lying on it's back, was one of my Martha Stewart lawn of a set of 6 around the glass top table.  The back of the chair was on the ground, and the seat was pointing up.  My doggie was on the chair, eating up every bit of it.  In fact, you could not even tell that it was a chair at all.  Bits of cloth, plastic and stuffing were strewn all over the yard.  There was no cushion left, no backing, no "nothing". I could barley make out the iron frame.

Bye-bye, Martha Stewart...I hardly knew ya!!

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Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Chiropractor

In my line of work, I get to meet many people from many walks of life.  Some people are quite fascinating.  I learn a lot from them.

The other day, I met a doctor of Chiropractic Medicine, I.E., "Chiropractor".  He was quite interesting.  He told me all about his he manipulates one's spine to work out kinks, cure sore necks, and adjust one's posture.  He showed me diagrams of the spine and neck and showed me how he uses his hands to align one's back.  Fascinating!

That night, after dinner, I took my lovely 13 month old doggy out for a walk.  The weather was mild and lots of people were out with their kids, walking their dogs, or even just sitting on their front porches.  My doggy loves an audience, and with so many people out, he just HAD to show them his chiropractic skills!!

In a split second, he went from walking calmly beside me, to whipping around behind me.  He tried to pull my arm out of its socket!!  He then whipped around in front of me...spinning me 180 degrees.  Once I got my bearings, I realized that he had the leash wrapped around his when I bent down to help him, he jumped back resulting in propelling me forward with my arm outstretched...At this point, I was sure that he had indeed dislocated my shoulder.  Fortunately, though, it wasn't my shoulder that was dislocated, but he had managed to sprain my finger.  Dozens of people looked on, but because I had a forced smile on my face, they couldn't see that I was in distress!!

In the evening, after a long hard day, I sat staring at this ball of fluff at my feet.  I pondered about his career as a chiropractor and thanked my lucky stars that he didn't want to be a yoga instructor!!!!

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