She is confident. Beyond confident. She struts up and down the streets while we’re on walks as confident as can be. (I’m pretty sure it’s her new Freedom No-Pull Harness she’s showing off, but who cares? I’ll take it!) She always has that Pit Bull smile ready for those she meets and decides to fold into her favor. She is a force of happy, confident nature that just wants to be shared with the world, as long as the world understands she also needs her space. Hey, everybody’s got a personal bubble!
She is a trailblazer. Rosee is brave and knocks through barriers like they are made of air (even when those barriers are made of my legs and she’s got a hard head!). She is not afraid to remake the world in her image and try to make it a more accepting and lovable place. She makes mistakes and sometimes goes overboard (with her barking), but she is always ready to learn, mature, and grow from her experiences.
She shuts down objectification. Literally. When someone, anyone, stares at her, directly into her eyes for too long, Rosee lets them know it’s not okay. She barks at them, telling them in her own doggy language to stare at something else, as she is no show to be watched or puppet to be made to perform. She is a dog that knows she is not an object to just be looked at and used! She has feelings and emotions (sometimes very loud emotions), and you had better pay attention to more than just her coat color. She is a dog, a Pit Bull—one put on this earth to enjoy life and share her happiness with others, but only if you don’t stare too long.
She will bark at you regardless of who or what you are. She does not discriminate. She dislikes all people, animals, and leaves that make their way onto her front lawn. She does not care for any car that parks in front of her house that does not belong to her humans. She’s all about fairness and equality when it comes to letting people know of her displeasure with their actions. (Even her own humans when they are too slow with the feeding!)
She is a Pit Bull. Yes, that’s right. Rosee is awesome because she is a Pit Bull. She has that wide, happy smile. She has that muscular body. She has ears that go up when she hears interesting sounds, and stay up even when she sleeps. She snores louder than the men in the family when she is asleep, drowning out their snores by decibels! She likes her space to spread out in the sun. She loves to cuddle with blankets on the couch when it’s cold. She is Rosee and she is awesome. (And Simon’s okay too, she guesses.)
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!
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?
Rosee’s New Year’s Resolution: To stop barking at the same cat, who sits in the same spot, outside our front window . . . every single day. (At the very least to get her barking down to every other day.)
By now most presents have been unwrapped, and meals eaten
Good tidings shared and heavy traffic beaten,
As we all put our feet up, and rub our full bellies
There is only one pup that is not done telling
His humans to Get Up!
While we are tired and sated,
Simon is still elated
Ready to jump and play,
He is not quite done with this Christmas Day,
So, be gone pesky clouds and you starry night
Simon is not ready for all your Christmas lights,
He still wants to run and tug, barking non-stop
At least until Rosee gets on top,
Of him and his bed, unwilling to move
He has no countermove,
His whines go unheeded, his sad eyes ignored
Rosee has no use for such behaviors she abhors,
(And not so secretly uses to her own success
Many times, yes!)
Finally he lies down, and she returns to cuddle
With the rest of us still in a huddle,
Wrapped in warm blankets
In a food coma from our banquet,
Watching It’s A Wonderful Life
Imagining a beautiful world without strife,
So with those happy thoughts in mind
We here at Play Hard Bark Often hope you will find
And a happy New Year!