So, my neighbors, who live across the street, their adult sons who don’t actually live with them, but sometimes sleep in their garage, have been showing up this past week with an extra large Uhaul truck. They leave with the truck early in the morning, are gone all day, and return some time late in the afternoon. Today, they decided to park their huge truck directly across the street from my front door. Rosee, who barks at all loud noises and unknown vehicles on her street, started barking. The son driving the vehicle literally leaned out of his open car window as he was parking the truck and yelled and cussed at my dog because she was barking. Imagine, a grown man yelling and cussing at my dog who is in her own house. This guy was yelling so loud that even though I was working in my living room, with headphones on and my music turned up so loud that I couldn’t even hear my own television, I could hear him. At first I thought that someone was outside fighting, what with all of the cuss words being thrown around. So, I turned off my music and went to my front door where I see this crazy man practically threatening my dog. Of course, I go outside and stand on my porch and ask him “Why are you yelling at my dog?” This just redirects his attention to me and he starts yelling and cussing at me. I tell him she’s a dog in her own house and she can do whatever she wants, so stop yelling at my dog. Then he gets really crazy and starts ranting about how he didn’t know dogs had feelings, and didn’t I know that dogs can only see in black and white, and so on. I rolled my eyes at him and went back inside.
I ended up telling my mom about what happened and she went across the street to talk to the actual owners of the house, you know the parents. Of course, they’re not home or they’re busy. (They always are. . . ) So, my mom talks to the other son that had been with the one that was yelling at Rosee and me. This guy was incredible! He denied everything, said that I was the liar, and that I was the one who started the argument and “confronted” them. I said of course I confronted them, the guy was cussing at my house and dog and threatening us!
My mom came back home and as fuming as I was at the entire situation, a nice walk with Rosee, Simon, and the family helped me to calm down. (The milkshake my mom bought me didn’t hurt either.) By the end of the night the Uhaul truck had moved so that it wasn’t parked directly across from my house, and I haven’t heard a peep out of the neighbors since.
Morale of my long rant: Don’t yell at dogs in their own houses . . . because they are dogs in their own houses.
Also, don’t be afraid to stand up for your dog. This kind of seems to be a running theme throughout our blog here at Play Hard, Bark Often. Being Rosee and Simon’s owners have certainly forced us here to confront people who don’t understand that not all dogs are perfectly behaved and quiet little angels, and that’s okay as long as we, as their owners, are constantly working with them to be better. Being a dog owner is work, though rewarding work. Rosee is seven years old and we still have to work on her manners every time we go on a walk. Simon, now at the wise old age of eight, still gets too excited anytime we put on our walking shoes and starts to hump his bed – a work in progress certainly.
Truth is, I don’t need my dogs to be perfect. I just need them to be happy (and healthy, but that’s a whole other blog post just waiting to be written).
So take your perfect and imperfect dogs (or whatever animal you have!) and give them a cuddle from us here at Play Hard, Bark Often.
Sending you happy and healthy thoughts, and I hope your neighbors are nicer than mine!
(And next time I post, it’ll be something much happier. . .)
I can hardly believe it’s already the middle of February. Wasn’t it just last weekend that we celebrated the new year? I guess it just feels that way, and while so much has happened in just the few short weeks since the beginning of the year, I still can’t help but look back and wonder where all the time has gone.
Yet, here we are, Valentine’s Day, and in our household this day is extra special. Today also happens to be Simon’s birthday. As of today Simon is 7 years old (at least it human years), and that officially makes him an old man. Don’t get me wrong, he still has way too much energy, but he seems to love to indulge in his morning naps just as much these days. Seriously, some days he will not get off the couch until at 12:00 in the afternoon! By the late afternoon, however, he is always ready for his daily walk. I’m not sure he’ll ever really slow down, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing since Simon’s antics always seem to keep everyone on their toes—if you know what I mean. Still, it’s weird to even think how much has changed in the past 7 years since bringing Simon into our lives. We were newbies to dog ownership (serious cat-only zone here), totally unprepared (although can you ever really be completely prepared?), and had no idea what kind of adventures we were in for. Now though, looking back, I can say it was definitely all worth it.
Yet, life is set to change again with job changes, commutes and overall daily schedule changes. The dogs as well as the cats, I’m sure, will adapt to the new changes and daily schedule just fine. Really, it’s mostly me who is going to miss having the ability and flexibility to spend so much time with Simon and Rosee during the day (why must adulting be so hard sometimes?).
Nevertheless, with our pet family growing—seriously, we gained 4 cats in 1 year!—both pups getting older, and our own personal lives changing, I’m excited to see what the future may hold and the adventures that are in store.
So, whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, or Pawlentine’s Day…we hope it was a good one!
The other day as I was perusing my newsfeed I came across a story written about a pit bull named Meli. The author, Katie Crank, shared the four things she “wish[ed] I knew before loving-and losing-a pit bull.” When I first read the title of this story, I thought for sure I knew what was going to happen: a person who maybe didn’t know much about pit bulls or more or less believed in the negative stereotypes adopted one and suddenly their mind would be changed for the better about these dogs. Yet, when I actually read this story I got so much more.
You see, Simon has been an easier dog to have, and it’s mainly because we’ve had him since he was a puppy. That’s not to say that adopting an older dog is a bad thing, it’s just easy with Simon because we know all of his issues. Adopting him so young allowed us to do our best to socialize him, put him in training right away, and just get him used to things from an early age. With Rosee, things have been a real learning process. We had to learn what makes her tick, if you will. I’m not going to lie either, Rosee has had her issues. She’s not very trusting of strangers, can be reactive to certain types of other dogs, and likes her personal space.
As I was reading about Crank and her time with Meli I honestly felt as if someone was finally articulating everything I’ve learned with and about Rosee, but have never really said out loud. For instance, as Crank explains there are so many things we, as human owners, believe that our dogs need to be able to do. They need to behave and walk nicely on a leash, be able to get along with other dogs, and general be social beings, just to name a few. However, our expectations of dogs aren’t always right for them. Some dogs aren’t necessarily very social, and that’s okay. As Crank writes, “it is absolutely ok for her [Meli] to say no.” (when it comes to not wanting to meet some dongs she may pass by) Dogs each have their own personalities, and much like humans not all are social creatures. Really, why should I expect my dog to be the most outgoing animal on the planet, when I myself am not always in the mood to interact with others? The point being that our dogs (pit bull or not, large or small, furry or bald) all have something they can teach us as long as we’re willing to pay attention.
Rosee may not be the “perfect” dog, but she is a loving dog who has taught me the fine art of cuddling, she often reminds me to let my voice be heard (even if I have to bark), to not worry so much about what other people think, and to be confident in everything I do. My family may have been the ones that adopted Rosee, but I know that she owns us. So much of what Crank wrote really struck a chord with me, and it was not just because it was about pit bulls. Rosee came into my family’s life at a time when we weren’t really even looking for another dog. Honestly, Simon was more than enough, and yet she gave us everything we didn’t know we needed. It feels like we’ve had Rosee forever. I can’t imagine a time when we didn’t have her. I mean, seriously, what did I do with myself in the days pre-Rosee?
Especially, this past year with a broken toe and a subsequent 8 weeks in a leg cast, an extreme case of hives, and everything in between, it’s amazing learning exactly how resilient Rosee and the rest of us truly are.
So, Happy 4th Birthday Rosee and here’s to many more years of doggie escapades!
And to everyone else, all of us here at Play Hard, Bark Often wish you a frightfully fun (and safe) Halloween!
I recently came upon an article entitled Dog Given Up For Being “Too Big” Gets New Life, New Job. It was a story about Lupine, a dog from Arizona, who was given over shelter for being too big, and she subsequently has become an ambassador for large dogs. When I first saw this article I have to admit I wasn’t surprised. It’s really a sad day when I find that I’m not surprised over another inane reason someone uses to justify giving up their dog. Yet, when I read this article it really struck a chord with me because I could relate. Of course, I’m not saying that I could relate to deciding to give up my dog because she or he got too big, but I can definitely understand having a dog that grows much bigger than was initially anticipated.
You see, as a newly rescued puppy my mom and stepdad took Simon to his very first veterinarian’s appointment and was told that he would probably be about 40 to 50 pounds fully grown. Now, I know this was an educated guess since he was part of a litter of stray puppies that was abandoned at one of our local firehouses. No one knew what kind of breed or rather breeds he was, and any guess we made never seemed to fit him quite right. However, whenever we took him anywhere anybody that saw him swore up, down and sideways that he was a pit bull, and for a long time we too simply thought he was a pit bull as well.
Weeelllll….as you can tell from pictures of a more adult Simon he pretty much turned into a mystery of a dog. Don’t get me wrong, he does seem to have some pit bull in him, but personality/behavior-wise we also think he might have some labrador or boxer mixed in (or maybe even dalmatian, especially given all the spots he has on his stomach and legs). Particularly, given his coloring most people these days ask us if he’s a boxer-mix. Still, he ended up turning out a lot bigger than we originally thought he would be. Instead of only being about 40 to 50 pounds, he ended up weighing in at about 75 pounds fully grown. iUnexpected Twist!
Seriously, talk about having a dog that ended up being “too big.” Plus, along with weighing 25 pounds more than we thought, he also grew about six inches taller and a bunch more inches longer than we thought he would get as well. Yet, I can’t imagine Simon being any other way. His big and tall appearance is an essential part of him (no kidding, I know). While there are some instances I don’t like his size—like when he can reach some food left out on the counter because of his long legs and tall stature. However, his size can also make it easier for him to reach my cheek to give me a kiss.
Size Simon turned out to be.
Now, here’s what I’ve discovered from being owned by “too big” of a dog: a dog is a dog whether big or small. All dogs need exercise, both mental and physical. All dogs deserve to be walked, and have play time, and most importantly they deserve to have people that love them. Most importantly, a dog is only as well-behaved as its owner encourages. Sure, perhaps a smaller dog can’t do as much damage at one time, but they can still cause damage, be unruly and poorly behaved, and even aggressive. For instance, I have these neighbors that many years ago had two bigger dogs (about 60 pounds each) and due to lack of training, socialization, and just plain interest from their owners they just weren’t nice dogs. They were scared of people, didn’t react well to anyone, and were basically almost always left out in the backyard. Fast forward to present day and these same neighbors now have two small dogs that are exactly the same as those previous bigger dogs behavior-wise. So, what’s the common factor here you might ask? The owners. It’s the owners. Bad owners=poorly behaved dogs, no matter what size they turn out to be. Of course, a bigger dog does take up more space (or maybe they’re just a bigger lap dog), and consume more food (or perhaps they’re great French fries sharers, if that makes sense), but I can’t say there’s much of a difference between having a 50 pound dog versus a 75 pound one. Big or small a dog has so much love and companionship to give. All they need is someone to give it to and it seems that Lupine ended up with exactly the right people for her.
So here’re two paws (one from Simon, and one from Rosee) up to all you “too big” dogs out there.
Let’s just say your size means you have even more love to go around.
I came across an article recently while perusing Yahoo’s newsfeed. Now, usually I scroll right past this type of story because they’re just plain wrong. The stories either don’t report facts correctly, or just don’t report facts at all. And quite frankly I don’t want my newsfeed to start feeding me a whole bunch of nonsense stories, and then I’d have to find a new homepage. (What a drag!) However, the title of this particular story caught my eye. Entitled “Read on: Maybe we need common-sense dog laws,” I was intrigued. I thought maybe this article would introduce something new, something more than erroneous facts, gross stereotypes, and terrible generalizations. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
You see, I don’t like reading stories about Pit Bull attacks. And no, it’s not to try and ignore or disillusion myself, but it’s because a LARGE MAJORITY of the stories are wrong. The dog is not a Pit Bull, not even some sort of mix, the “attack” wasn’t some senseless act of violence, but provoked, and the story always likes to report made up facts about Pit Bull attacks that just get me angry. I also don’t want to be giving any attention to these types of stories, because it only helps them to gain traction, and that is something I refuse to do. But like I said, this story’s title caught my eye, so against my better judgement I clicked to read.
Was I genuinely surprised and tickled? Nope.
In fact, the author describes a beautiful day with his beautiful dog that is viciously attacked by, you guessed it, a Pit Bull. How does he know it was a Pit Bull, because his son who was actually present during the attack says so. The author himself wasn’t present, but sharing his two cents anyway. Those two cents go on to say that because some other places have enacted terrible discriminatory practices known as Breed Specific Legislation that all places should as well in order to stop terrible attacks that have left his dog unable to leave the house now. In fact, his suggestion is that all Pit Bulls should now have to be leashed whenever outside of their homes, on a short leash, and with muzzles on. All because one dog attacked his precious little pooch.
Well, you know what? I’ve got a suggestion for him too. Let’s muzzle Chihuahuas. How about little white Terriers? Pomeranians? Cats? Because every single one of these types of animals have attacked my two big and bad Pit Bulls, making them bleed, leaving scratches on their legs and faces, leaving us running into the middle of traffic to get away from them while careless owners stood on watching. And we haven’t been attacked once, twice, not even just three times in the four years we’ve had dogs. Nope. We’re lucky if our dogs only get attacked once a week. Once a week! This guy gets attacked once and suddenly he’s fighting to muzzle an entire breed! I can’t EVEN!
And before it gets asked, yes, I’ve had to fight off all these animals from my dogs. I’ve gotten scratched, bruised, bloodied, and pushed down. I’ve yelled at poop-shamers, and I’ve fended off Golden Retrievers and Labradors. I’ve had to fight off terrible people trying their best to get my dogs to attack them just so they can have something to boohoo about. I’ve protected my dogs and made sure the general public is protected every time I bring Simon and Rosee outside of the house.
So . . .
You want to muzzle someone or something? How about the people that think to fix one we have to punish all? How about the people who think their dog is somehow more important than another? How about the people that spew ignorance and hate? Because people who do these things are not helping to fix the actual problem that exists in society, but in fact are only creating new ones that impact people who are not even at fault.
My dogs should not have to walk around with muzzles on because of one set of irresponsible dog owners. My dogs should not be attacked by any other dog because of irresponsible dog owners. My dogs should not be subjected to irresponsible dog owners, period.
And neither should any other dog. An owner and a dog should be able to go on a nice, enjoyable walk in their neighborhood, at a park, or wherever they choose to go, without being subject to irresponsible owners and their untrained dogs. How does this happen? By enforcing leash laws and putting an end to illegal practices like backyard breeding and dog fighting. If leash laws were enforced then dogs wouldn’t be let loose in public places. It is usually the rules in cities and counties that when out in public, even in an owner’s front yard if not fenced in, dogs should be leashed, on a leash no longer than about six feet. Instead of being able to run at unsuspecting things, ALL dogs would be kept under control and their owners would be forced to take responsibility for them if leash laws were actually enforced. A novel idea, right?
Or how about stopping dog fighting rings and backyard breeding? Breeding creates an influx of dogs with not enough people willing to care for them, and more dogs ending up in shelters because of it. Breeding is a big problem for Pit Bulls as they are often the ones subjected to it. Everyone wants a Pit Bull until it comes time to actually caring for one. They are a strong breed of dog, one that needs lots of exercise and attention. Simon and Rosee certainly need their daily walks, playtime, and human interaction. But not everyone can give these things to a dog, much less a Pit Bull. So, after the novelty wears off and the dog is no longer a cute little puppy, the dog either gets abandoned to the streets or left at a kill shelter.
That is if the dogs don’t end up the hands of people who want to use them to fight, which is a whole other issue I am not even ready to get into. Dog fighting is disgusting and should not be inflicted on any type of dog period. It is something that needs to be taken more seriously by society in general and stopped immediately, with harsher sentences to those found responsible (looking at you Michael Vick).
But muzzling one breed? That is clearly not the answer. So please, think before your write.
And for the record, this is not “blowback” as you so kindly put it, author of the original article. This is common sense, just like you asked for.
The story of Diggy is both sad and upsetting. If you haven’t heard, though it seems to be everywhere on my newsfeed, Diggy is a dog whose picture went viral due to his smiling face. Due to the popularity of his picture local authorities took note and threatened to take him away from his brand new home because he looks like a Pit Bull and the area that he lives in has Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). Despite numerous pleas that Diggy is not a Pit Bull at all, but in fact an American Bulldog mix, and has a DNA test to prove it, his fate is kind of unknown.
Now, I’m glad that Diggy’s story has garnered so much attention. His ordeal has provided the chance to bring some much needed attention to the unfairness that is BSL. People have been given the opportunity to see just how damaging BSL is to families and how it kills dogs simply due to what they look like. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happened. Instead, of opening up a larger discussion on BSL, the focus has been kept on this one dog. The problem is that even saving this one dog from being a victim of BSL does not actually address the root issue: BSL.
I’m not going to lie, of course, and say that I don’t have a personal opinion on BSL because as the owner of a Pit Bull how could I not. I love my dog and I don’t like anything that targets my dog based on stereotypes.
Still, my logical brain doesn’t agree with BSL simply because it’s inherently unfair and biased. My understanding of BSL from what I’ve read (which can differ from area to area) is that it is based on a checklist and features that Pit Bulls typically have. If your dog fits within any of those parameters, then your dog could be apprehended. The main problem I have with BSL is that it is meant to target a specific breed of dog, yet a “Pit Bull” is not an officially recognized breed of dog. There is the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Bulldog, which are commonly all labeled under the nickname of “Pit Bull.” It doesn’t mean anything. It’s almost synonymous these days with calling a dog a “mutt” or a “mixed breed.” If people aren’t sure what type of breed a dog is, then they just seem to label it as a Pit Bull. For reals, I have read plenty of stories about dogs that clearly looked nothing like a Pit Bull, yet they were labeled as such in the article. I mean honestly, how could a tall, skinny dog with a Golden Retriever-like coat be labeled a Pit Bull at all? Even more upsetting is that BSL is based on stereotypes. Am I denying that people that have been bitten by bully breeds are lying? Absolutely not! However, why should all dogs suffer as a result? Do we still believe that all poorer people are lazy? All Jewish people are cheap? All Hispanics are Mexicans and immigrants? All women “asked for it”? No, because we know stereotypes are just that; stereotypes.
Last night as I perused my newsfeed I came across two articles about Diggy. One was a report on the fact that a veterinarian had run a DNA test on him and confirmed that he is an American Bulldog. The other was from Woman’s Day magazine and the tagline stated that the reason Diggy was in danger of losing his forever home was “absurd.”
Give me a moment…
Of course, it’s absurd! It’s absurd that a dog may lose a home just because of what he/she looks like. It’s absurd that a girl was in danger of losing her therapy animal, which was a Pit Bull, because of what he looked like. It’s absurd that a long-haul truck driver lost his dog because he dared to have a heart attack while he was passing through a town that had BSL in effect. It’s absurd that people choose to live in their cars in order to keep their dogs, or spend an enormous amount of money keeping their dogs in kennels because they aren’t allowed to keep them where they live. It’s all absurd. These dogs have never done anything wrong. They have loving homes and great owners, but are suddenly in danger of losing their lives anyways.
Furthermore, the fact that one of the main arguments people have used in favor of freeing Diggy is to say that he is an American Bulldog really displays just how little understanding there is about BSL. Bully breeds are usually what BSL targets with Pit Bulls being the main bullseye, and if it walks like a Pit Bull and talks like Pit Bull, then it surely must be a Pit Bull. Still, proving Diggy is not a Pit Bull doesn’t explain why it’s not okay for him to lose his home. It doesn’t address why he deserves to stay.
I guess the point of this post is to say that Diggy, the smiling dog, is not alone. BSL affects more than just this one dog and more than just this one family. When did we condone blanket punishments based on a biased and unclear stereotype? Let’s talk about the larger havoc that BSL wreaks, raise awareness about it, and see if we can find better ways to stop all dog attacks. (*cough*leash laws*cough*) I want owners who have misbehaving or dangerous dogs to have to take responsibility for their inability to be responsible owners. Do I enjoy getting attacked by the same Chihuahua every time I walk my dog and have it bite Simon’s face? NO! Is it okay that I’ve complained three times about this dog and yet it still gets to run around loose without supervision? NO! Yet, there are laws in place for dogs like mine who have never done anything, but look a certain way.
Sadly, Diggy’s story isn’t the first and he certainly won’t be the last dog affected by BSL. So, please, support Diggy, but not just because he’s a cute, smiley dog who deserves his forever home. Support his case because you don’t agree with BSL and want to give a voice to the many other dogs that fall victim to this policy.
I know what you’re thinking! (Seriously though I am a mind reader, in case you didn’t know)
You’re probably thinking: What happened to Rosee?
I get it, I do. I mean, it was only a little over a week ago that Monica posted a story about Rosee having a bad case of hives, and now here’s a picture of Rosee in a cone with a cast on her leg. So, what Happened?!
It turns out, despite what stereotypes would have most people believe about Pit Bulls, Rosee is no match against the ordinary house cat. You see, last Tuesday evening Rosee decided it would be fun to chase Orion (the cat, who is not an ordinary cat at all, by the way) through the kitchen. Orion, of course, was too smart for a silly old dog to catch him—cat’s rule, dog’s drool!—and ran away to his bedroom, which is actually my bedroom, but semantics. However, as I went over to get Rosee after checking on Orion I noticed that she began limping. She would not put her back right leg down, and was holding it up whenever she was standing or walking anywhere.
So, in case you’re keeping score its: Cats 1 Dogs 0.
Now, we were concerned about Rosee’s leg because she wouldn’t put it down. We weren’t too worried though because Rosee has strained her leg before and it turned out to be nothing more than just that, a mild strain. According to the vet (when we took her at the time), she just needed about a week of rest and she’d be fine. She was given some anti-inflammatories to help with the pain, but there was nothing more to do than wait for her to heal. Unfortunately, this time was different. The next day Rosee was still not putting her foot down, and something told us we just couldn’t wait. Fortunately, Rosee’s annual check-up was due and so we thought we might as well take her in for her annual vet appointment and get her leg checked at the same time. Two birds with one stone, you know?
Luckily, we were able to get an appointment for that Friday. Of course, at this time I was convinced that the vet was going to think we were terrible pet owners considering that she has strained her leg in the past, just went in to get treated for a bad case of hives the week before, and was now needing to go in for a bum leg. I was seriously doubting my abilities as a pet owner. Either that or Rosee was much more fragile than I ever thought.
Still, I was trying to remain positive and hoped the vet would tell us that she sprained her foot and just needs a week or two of rest like he did before.
The vet did not tell us that.
It turns out Rosee broke one of her toes in her back right foot. The vet was actually surprised that she didn’t react when he was first feeling her leg and foot, and instead just lay on the ground letting him feel and bend her foot. After taking an x-ray of her whole leg and foot he saw that the bone in one of her toes was pretty much broken in two and just hanging in there. So, one cast, a prescription for anti-inflammatories, a prescription for sedatives, and one head cone later Rosee was finally headed home.
We were given very strict instructions for Rosee. For the next 6-8 weeks (no, you didn’t misread that) Rosee’s foot will be in a cast with weekly visits to the vet to ensure that her cast is working and doesn’t need to be rewrapped. She’s basically on bed rest for the next two months (yikes!) and we have to keep her as quiet as possible, which just seems impossible (especially with Simon around), hence the sedatives.
Then, as if all this wonderful news wasn’t good enough for one day, Rosee somehow ended up getting her entire cast off her foot that afternoon while my family was out running errands. It didn’t matter that she was tethered to her bed, and had her cone on so she couldn’t actually reach her cast with her mouth. She still managed to get her cast off with no issues. Luckily, the vet was able to squeeze us back in later that afternoon to replace her cast.
What’s the teaching moment here? Rosee may be a Pit Bull, but despite all the stereotypes she’s really just a delicate flower.
These past two weeks have been bad. I’m talking long-lasting, long-suffering, earth-shaking bad. Why? Well, it just so happens that everyone here at the Play Hard Bark Often doghouse was sick. And I do mean sick. Luckily, there was no puking, but there was nausea, coughing (hacking, really), sore throats, runny noses, and congested noses. We were all sick as, well, dogs.
Everyone except Simon that is. Unfortunately for the rest of us Simon remained in tip top shape and fully unable to comprehend that his people didn’t feel good. At all. He would go out in the backyard and stare forlornly at his toy box, making sad eyes at anyone who happened to make eye contact with him, doing his best to make you feel guilty on top of the sore throat, headache, and chest pain. He was good at it, I’ll tell you that much. His darn eyes got to me so many times I would spend every morning hiding from him on the couch and resolutely looking anywhere else.
And like I said it wasn’t just me that was put out of commission, but the whole entire family. Theresa was laid up on the couch next to me, with the other couch taken over by our mother, while our stepdad had been exiled to the bedroom as the sickest one out of all of us. Even Rosee was not immune to catching something this past week. However, her sickbed was quite certainly the scariest of them all.
Yeah, that happened.
Theresa and I woke up one morning, let the dogs out into the backyard so we could feed the cat his morning wet food, and by the time I followed outside to do poop duty Rosee’s entire face was swollen. Her left eye was almost swollen shut, both of her jowls looked and felt like they were stuffed with tennis balls, and she had spots all over her sides and back. Quite frankly, she was a mess!
Now, both Simon and Rosee are sensitive dogs. They roll around on too much grass for a little too long, get stung by a mosquito, come into contact with some chemical sprayed at our local parks and their skin tends to react. They will get bumps all over their backs and itch themselves into a frenzy. The only thing that helps reduce the bumps and calm the scratching is some cheese pockets filled with Benadryl. Yup, that’s right. Benadryl works wonders. Of course, always check with your veterinarian before giving your animal any sort of medicine. So, after consulting our veterinarian we were told it was safe to give our dogs a couple Benadryl pills over a few days whenever an allergic reaction took hold. And Benadryl has certainly been a little pink lifesaver for our two sensitive pups.
Like I said, allergic reactions hit at the most unexpected of times (and some not so unexpected) and it’s nice to be able to have something always on hand to take care of them. Benadryl has always proved strong enough to combat whatever is in the dogs’ systems and get them back to feeling their best in no time. However, this past allergic reaction of Rosee’s was definitely the worst I have ever seen on one of my dogs, and it was really scary!
Right away when we found Rosee swelling up and numerous bumps rapidly appearing all over her body we stuffed two Benadryl down her throat and anxiously awaited them to take effect. They did, slowly, but surely. Since her reaction was so severe we kept a close eye on her and when just about two hours had gone by it looked like her slowing deflating face was starting to get worse again, we stuffed another Benadryl down her throat. However, it became clear that whatever was wrong with Rosee was not going to be halted, let alone stopped, with Benadryl. So, it was off to the veterinarian for an emergency visit.
Our veterinarian was able to squeeze us in and after getting checked over it was a lot worse than we thought. Rosee had an elevated temperature, her ears were swollen and red, and her poor little paws were all red and inflamed as well. Luckily, after listening to her lungs our vet was able to determine that her breathing was fine and unobstructed even though the rest of her was puffy and swollen. So, in order to help her before things got worse the vet administered a steroid shot and gave clear instructions on when to give her more Benadryl throughout the rest of the day. Immediately after the shot her swelling started to go down. Her face became more recognizable and lost the tennis ball-hoarding look. You could clearly see both of her eyes again and her bumps started receding. Things were looking up . . . at least until that night.
By bedtime some sort of negative reaction had taken place within Rosee’s body. Either her steroid shot had worn off and the Benadryl wasn’t doing enough by itself, or the Benadryl and the shot were not mixing together well. The end result however, was even more horrifying than it had been that morning. Rosee’s entire body—back, sides, neck, chest, stomach—was completely covered in red raised bumps. She looked like she had been stung by over one hundred bees. It was terrifying! The poor girl was so incredibly uncomfortable! She would sit down for five minutes, then start running around the house whining. Our mother was so worried. She stayed up with Rosee all night to monitor her breathing, except the poor girl didn’t let anyone get any sleep. She barked and whined and ran around all night, just so miserable in her own skin. By the next morning the veterinarian was called again, and Rosee was prescribed stronger pills in order to combat the bumps. And combat the bumps they did.
After about two days on these extra strength pills Rosee’s bumps had completely disappeared and any sign of redness or swelling was long gone. The girl was healed! In fact, after being so swollen she looked positively small once back to her original state. I was ready to stuff her full with tons of treats if only to make her smile more.
According to our veterinarian the cause of Rosee’s ordeal was most likely some sort of bug bite or bee sting. Now, Simon and Rosee have been stung before, Simon has actually picked up a fallen bee and eaten it (getting stung in the mouth of course). They have also received numerous mosquito bites when, during the summer months, we sit out in the backyard for too long, too late in the evening. When they have gotten bitten or stung in the past bumps rise right where they were bitten, but don’t spread over the rest of their bodies. So, I find it hard to believe that Rosee’s dreadful allergic reaction was due to a lonely bee sting, and considering it was 9 o’clock in the morning, there were no mosquitos around. Also, we don’t use chemicals in our backyard (no weed killer or anything like that), no spiders (like the dreaded black widow!), and nothing weird that the wind may have carried over the fence. It’s like her allergic reaction just materialized out of thin air, which is really disturbing because we’re all afraid it could happen again. So far it hasn’t, but knowing that her allergy could be that bad certainly makes all of us keep a closer eye on where and what both Simon and Rosee get into. Caution is the new rule of all our lives, so cautious we will be.
Clearly, allergic reactions in dogs are serious business, just as they are in humans. Allergic reactions, whether to bug bites, bee stings, food allergies, in dogs should be monitored and treated because they do have the ability to get worse and have quite severe repercussions. Our veterinarian made it clear that Rosee’s airways could have swelled and made breathing difficult. Any sign of wheezing was dangerous. Also, overheating for a dog is a very serious matter. An elevated temperature can start killing brain cells and affecting your dog’s quality of life, not to mention it’s not always an easy situation to rectify. In the years that we have had Simon and Rosee we have learned what foods, treats, and toys are off limits because of their sensitivities and have been lucky that no truly life-threatening reactions have occurred. This last reaction of Rosee’s has certainly been the worst that either dog has ever experienced, and I am glad that our local veterinarian could take care of us so quickly and efficiently.
Bottom line: red, swollen bumps bad; normal smiling faces good. Be wary, but prepared. Learn your dog’s sensitivities and allergies—it could save his/her life.
You see, I fell. I fell hard. I fell in slow-motion. I felt my foot slide across a slick patch of mud, heard my knee hit the gravel walking path, and could only stare as the ground came into sudden and immediate view. Next thing I knew I was face-planted in mud, less than an inch from a puddle of dirty rainwater, with both of my hands stretched outward clutching the leash as tightly as possible.
Oh, that’s right.
I was holding a leash. A leash that was connected to Rosee.
What was the girl doing while her person took a trip downhill? She was walking a few steps ahead, sniffing out all of the intriguing smells at the park we hadn’t visited in a whole week. She was just minding her own business, blissfully unaware of the pain that was about to befall one of her favorite treat dispensers.
It’s true. I was not pulled, yanked, or dragged down. I simply slipped. Good ol’ human ingenuity at work!
The only thought in my ahead as the ground got closer and closer was “This is really happening. I can’t believe this is really happening. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much.” Of course, after the shock wore off that last thought proved to be pretty useless. Everything hurt! Young, sturdy, strong, resilient, I don’t care what you call yourself if you fall like I fell then you will hurt (and use it shamelessly to get other family members to buy you things like dinner and milkshakes, you know things that promote faster healing).
As I look back on the fall now, a week later, I often wonder why I didn’t put my hands out to brace myself. Why didn’t I scream as I went down? (I honestly feel like screaming would have somehow made the situation more climactic, right?) I have no other answer than at that moment in time there was nothing that could stop my inevitable fall. Afterwards, even Theresa mentioned that the fall seemed to take place in slow-motion and she wondered why she wasn’t faster (like she could have stopped my descent), but of course the whole episode probably only lasted about ten seconds between slip and full-body impact. There was no stopping this muddy-bloody-tumble train.
It was just my luck too that the day I took my tumble was the same day there were a lot of my mother’s friends at the park (along with my mother) keeping up with their weekly walking sessions. This was partly the reason why Theresa and I started taking Simon and Rosee to the park on that particular day, because there were more people, dogs, and ambient activity around for them to learn to get used to and ultimately ignore. With so much going on in the park it was the perfect place to keep up with training and make sure our pups weren’t getting complacent on their otherwise regular walking routes.
So, of course “everyone” paid witness to my epic downfall and immediately set to rush over. However, Rosee, who had been faithfully sniffing my face and standing by my fallen body until the shock had passed through my system and I regained enough control of my extremities to sit up, suddenly got protective. She started barking at the approaching helpers, getting very upset and stressed out. To help calm her down, and since I was still sitting on the ground in a puddle, Theresa took Rosee and started to pull her away a little. She needed to put some space between us so that Rosee could relax without being surrounded by strangers. This meant that I had to take Simon and do my best to hold him back. Fortunately, our mother, who was at the park walking with friends, rushed over to take him so that I could regain my wits further and stand.
Now, I get that everyone’s first instinct was to run to me and try to help. My face was bleeding, I was covered in mud, and I basically looked like roadkill. But someone with a dog you don’t know well is not someone you just run up to. As compassionate as your instincts are, coming at a dog and its person is how people get hurt. Even Simon, poor, confused Simon, was getting upset at all of the people trying to surround me and I was left trying to hold onto him until my mother could get to us. (It’s unfortunate, but when Rosee gets really agitated—and I mean really agitated—she can snap without looking and we couldn’t have Simon around her at that moment until she calmed down, so I had to hold him until I could pass him off to my mother.) However, I wasn’t one hundred percent in control of anything at the time and would not have been able to keep Simon calm by myself.
The fact is those nice people coming to help me would have been jumped on, and even perhaps pushed down, because Simon was in an excited and stressed out state and I was in no condition to worry about others. So, instead of running up it would have been safer and more helpful if people could have approached calmly and slowly, asking if I needed help, and then acting accordingly. I know it’s a lot to ask, but even at my lowest it’s important that my dog and other people are not put in unnecessary danger. It’s the same reason that as I fell I did everything I could to not let go of the leash. A loose Rosee in a park is a crazy Rosee in a park, not something anyone is too keen on witnessing I’m sure.
However, someone walking up to me with their dog just to stare at my misfortune and then in turn glare at my protective dogs is not someone (or something) I consider helpful–I’m Looking at You bystander! I kindly ask that in the future unless you find yourself with some sort of help to offer, please ignore me and walk around. I promise you won’t hurt my feelings. But staring at me like some sort of alien creature with an unruly dog will surely get you a poisonous glare and harsh words in return. (And honestly, I don’t need any more help reminding myself to laugh at my pain, I’m doing just fine thank you.)
Finally, after I was able to rouse myself to my feet, accepting tissues from friends to stem the flow of my bloody face, I trekked back to our car to clean myself up a little more and take stock of where exactly the blood was coming from. Oddly enough, I scrapped both my knees, got a small scratch on my right elbow, and ended up with one good gash on my upper lip, but that’s it. Nothing twisted, nothing broken. I didn’t even have scrapes on my hands (or my nose for that matter; I’m not really sure how I missed that, but hit my lip). The bleeding stopped quickly and the worst of “other fluids” I had to contend with was the mud plastered all over my front. And I mean all over. From cheek to shins, there was mud.
It’s been a week now and my scrapes have become itchy scabs and I walk without any lingering soreness. And if you’ve stuck through reading this story you’re probably wondering what the point I’m trying to make is? The moral of my story?
You will fall. At some point in your life your face will become intimately acquainted with some kind of floor. You may have a dog with you. You may not. Hopefully, you will end up like me with just scratches, instead of anything broken. You may scream. You may have better bracing instincts than me. But you will fall. Learn from it. Laugh at yourself. Make others buy you things. Move on.
This fall is not the first one. Simon has caused some memorable tumbles into the waves during trips to the beach and Rosee has dragged a stunned Theresa a few inches through wet grass in pursuit of those elusive garbage trucks. The two of us have been soaked with sea water, grass stained, and now covered in mud. This fall is not the first one, nor will it be the last and it is not because my dogs are completely unruly or out of control. My dogs are dogs. They get excited, they have memory lapses, and accidents happen. (Their humans also have bouts of terrible coordination and simply fall all by themselves.) Keep the Neosporin close at hand and move on. There’s nowhere to go but up, right?