Tag Archives: good dogs

Defining Raising

If you were unaware, a couple weeks ago at the Huffington Post it was Huff Post Pit Bull Week. Basically, for the entire week advocates, trainers, behaviorists, and just plain Pit Bull lovers wrote and shared stories combating misconceptions about the breed. Many stories were beautiful, funny, and really moving. I enjoyed these authors sharing their wonderful pictures of their own dogs and such personal stories. As much as I loved and appreciated these authors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I agreed with everything they had to say (or write).

One of the main sticking points that many authors touched upon was the idea of “it’s all how they are raised.” Many authors brought up the example of the Michael Vick dogs. Stating that obviously those dogs were “raised” to be fighting dogs, authors argued against using the popular euphemism because it was clearly untrue. Those specific Pit Bulls have been able to go on to live wonderful, happy lives and many of them are good-natured and friendly. So, evidently it is not the way that Pit Bulls, and dogs in general, are “raised” that makes them good dogs or not because dogs have a greater capacity to be good, despite people’s past actions unto them.

I get it. I understand the point being made. Dogs are born good. It is what people do to them that has the potential to mold them into something not quite so great, and many times regardless of humans’ actions dogs are still good. Breed matters not here.

And still, I find myself having to say it. . .
I disagree.

I truly do believe that it is how a dog (Pit Bull, Golden Retriever, Chihuahua, Yorkie, and any other breed that exists in this world) is raised that makes all the difference. Regardless of whether or not a dog is born good, “raising” him or her will always have a big impact on how that goodness shines through.

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One day he’ll teach us all his secrets.

You want to know why?

Because even when my dogs are ten years old, closing in on their twilight years, and slowing down just a little bit I will still be raising them.

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She thinks if she steals it then it might magically refill itself.

I do not believe that “raising” a dog ever really ends. I am firmly living in the camp that raising something, whether it be a dog, a child, or even a goldfish, never stops. The “thing” always has something to learn and be taught, as there are always new lessons to live by. To me “raising” is defined as the ways in which something, an animal or little human, is educated throughout its entire lifetime, not just during a very specific and narrow time frame.

Can you teach old dogs new tricks? It seems that these authors would have me believe that they can’t if they truly believe that “raising” a dog ends after year one. Throughout their stories many authors implied that they adopted their lovable pooches after they were a year old and so, the time for “raising” had obviously passed. However, I can tell you from my own experience that “raising” my two rascals has not ended with year one. Simon (who is working past year three) has just recently learned to consistently Drop It, and Rosee (who is just closing in on year three) is still working to curb her kleptomaniac ways. So, I am still effectively “raising” them and will continue to do so until they leave this earth. My job will not end just because they reach a certain age or because they have learned a specific number of commands. My job will end when there is no more Simon and Rosee, and I hope that that time does not happen upon me for many (many) more years.

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He’s going to let go any minute now. Any minute.

If someone were to say to me “It’s all how they are raised” I would say “Yes, it is.” Because if someone is saying this to me, they are saying it in regards to my dogs whom I have raised. And no, I was not a part of Simon or Rosee’s lives in the beginning, you know during that crucial first year. Honestly, my mother adopted Simon when I was going off to graduate school. While I was home for the summer, the rest of the year and the next I lived six hours away. Sure, I came home on holidays, but I was not raising Simon during this time. It’s a similar story for Rosee. My family adopted her during my second year of school, so again I missed the end of that first year for her (and she was initially raised by a shelter anyway). But I have raised my dogs because since I have been home, finished with school and moving on with my life, I have been one (of the ones) to train, care for, and love Simon and Rosee. I have raised my dogs, and when people tell me “It’s all how they are raised” I can agree because in that moment when it is said it is being said about my dogs as are they are in that specific point in time.

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Look! A trained potato.

People we pass daily on our walks have said similar things. In fact, one woman we pass by all the time has mentioned each time that the dogs keep getting better. (And she should know. We used to have to walk across the street from her. Now, we only need a foot in between.) Every time we are out in the world Simon and Rosee are a direct reflection of me as an owner. Their triumphs are my triumphs. Their failures are my failures. If someone is to judge their behavior out on a walk, they are judging my raising skills, not the ones of Simon and Rosee’s past. No one else knows that Rosee lived in a shelter for eight months, or that Simon was taken from his mother too early and lacked early socialization. All anybody else knows is that in that particular moment they look like (hopefully) good, trained dogs. Whereas the authors of these other stories use this reason as to why you can’t say “It’s all how they are raised,” I say this is why you can say it. By saying this people are judging the way the dog is now, and as of now said dog is not being “raised” in some terrible way. (Or else the raisers wouldn’t be advocates, trainers, behaviorists, or lovers would they?)

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Her Beach Motto: Leave no stick un-turned.

My beliefs are also not breed specific. This does not only apply to Pit Bulls (and their owners), they just tend to be the ones held under the most intense scrutiny. When I see an unruly Chihuahua and an owner not paying it any mind I can safely assume that it was “raised” without boundaries or limitations. When I see a very excited Boxer with its owner firmly telling it to “Leave it” I can also safely assume that they’re working on it and I applaud their hard work and determination. Each dog is a firm reflection of their owner (sometimes quite literally) and each owner should take pride in that. I know I do.

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I like to think that he gets his “serious face” from me.

Feel free to disagree with me, or even think something completely different than either opinion shared here. Having an opinion is, in fact, one of the great aspects of the human condition. Just please don’t feel the need to ask me to stop happily accepting “It’s all how they are raised” because it means something deeply personal to me. For my dogs Simon and Rosee it is how they have been raised that makes them good dogs. It’s how I and my sister and mother and stepdad have been and will continue to raise them that make them good dogs. It is an acknowledgment of all of the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into making sure Simon and Rosee are happy, healthy, and content dogs, not just the undeniable fact that they were born good, but that they in fact are and will continue to be good. It’s a euphemism that recognizes both the canine’s inherent goodness and the human impact that builds upon such greatness. So. . .

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Happy girl!

Thanks for the compliment.

One Wrong Turn

Happy Labor Day everybody!

Now, I know that this day is meant to celebrate the American Labor Movement and typically my family gets together to have a barbecue, but today we decided to do something a little different. Being that the temperature has been somewhat cooler this past week, my mom thought it would be nice to take a day trip with the dogs. We don’t always get the chance to take Rosee and Simon to new and exciting places.  We go to the beach at least once every couple months, various parks nearby, we’ve taken them to the Sacramento River because Simon likes to swim, and ot too long ago we also used to take the pups to a nearby nature preserve. However, after the last time when we came home to find a handful of ticks on Simon we made the decision not to go back, just in case. So, we do take them places, but it always seem to be one of the same places few places we usually go. Today though, we all decided to load up the pups and go somewhere somewhat new: Folsom Lake in Folsom, CA.

I say that it is somewhat new because earlier last year we did visit the unearthed city down in the Folsom Marina. Due to the current drought in California, the water levels of the lake are so low that an old mining town was uncovered.

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Not much of the town is left, except for a few rusted tools and boundary lines, but it’s still pretty neat to see. According to the park rangers, the ruins can be found by going to Brown’s Ravine (I can never remember the name myself), although after googling it I think it’s also called Mormon Island. Frankly, I get really confused and can never find a straight answer off of the state park website. Still, it was an interesting trip and the pups enjoyed sniffing around everything. We all had a good time. This year we thought we’d go back Folsom Lake, which wasn’t necessarily new, but our adventure ended up taking us some place a little different.

Folsom Lake, or Folsom Lake State Recreation Area as it is officially named, is a pretty big state park. It has numerous entrances, campgrounds, and trails among other amenities available to visitors. As I said, our original idea was to go to the Marina to see the ruins. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite remember how to get there, and wound up ending up at a different entrance to the park called Beals Point.  While going to Beals Point wasn’t planned, upon entering we decided to get out and explore because it turned out to be such a nice place. There was a big grass area, a bunch of picnic tables, and a giant lake bed to walk down. (I feel the need to mention that there were also numerous bathrooms, which were pretty nice as well.)

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We started our trek by walking down towards what little lake there was. The existing lake bed may not have much of a lake, but it provides a nice place to walk through and explore. The scenery was beautiful and if you walk down far enough you will eventually encounter the lake. The walk was kind of long and all in the sun, though since the weather wasn’t too hot no one minded. Plus, after walking down all that way the pay off was worth it.

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The first thing Simon did once we got to the actual water was down.He took a momentary breather before diving in fully, and it wasn’t long  before Rosee decided to join him.

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The only problem was that I was not prepared. Not prepared at all actually and before I knew what was happening Rosee dragged me right into the water. My shoes mostly got ruined in the process, but seeing the grins on both pups’ faces was worth it.

Simon, of course, spent most of his time swimming around. Much to our surprise Rosee also swam around for a while, which was only surprising because she usually avoids going in so far so that her feet can’t touch the ground. Yet, today she was swimming like a champ.

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The girl is actually swimming!
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He’s part fish, in case you didn’t know.

Rosee and Simon had way too much fun, and got way too wet. Luckily, the walk back up to the top where the (empty) lake bed meets the grass area was long enough to dry them off.

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We walked around a bit more, though after so much swimming both pups were pretty tired. Overall, we all had a fun day where adventures where aplenty and exploration of absolutely everything was required. It seems our wrong turn actually turned out pretty exciting, or should I say rightly awesome!

Finally, we had to call it a day (before it got too hot) and returned home with two very tired pups.

I can’t complain though, because, sometimes, tired pups are the sweetest kind of pups.

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I hope everyone else had a wonderful and relaxing extended weekend!

Fly Chasing 101 (as dictated by Simon)

I thought I would be a generous companion this week and dictate a blog post in lieu of my human. She offered to do it for me, but really what does a human know of the sport of fly chasing? I’ve only been perfecting my methods for the last three summers. (Your sarcasm is noted Simon—Theresa) Though, I did require some help from my aforementioned human to actually type this post because, alas, my paws are not dexterous enough for the laptop’s keyboard. Nevertheless, my human graciously agreed to type my story out for all of you to see. She also tried valiantly to capture my demonstrations of each step, but I fear my movements occurred somewhat too quickly for her camera to capture easily. She did do her best however. Not everyone can be as multi-talented as me.

Now on to the main event…

First spot the fly

In order to properly fly chase the first thing that must be done is to spot a suitable fly. It’s preferable to choose a fly that is not moving around too much. If a fly is moving around a lot, then it can be more difficult to catch. You will need the right mix of focus and control to find just the right fly to attempt to catch. But do not fret, for it can take a while to spot an appropriate target.

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Searching for just the right fly.

Next move in closely (yet carefully) until your nose almost touches the fly

Once you’ve got a target in your sights you then come upon a most sensitive step: getting close enough to pounce. It can be difficult to approach, especially if the target is shifty. Yet, if you’re not close enough to the fly, then it can be difficult to ultimately catch it. That’s why a careful and patient approach is required. My owners may not think I’m very patient, and while most of the time I’d have to agree with them, I make an exception for fly chasing. Luckily flies aren’t the most intelligent creatures around (and surely everyone knows dogs are the smartest), which makes them an easy target. Still, it’s best to approach with some finesse to ensure that your target remains cooperative or at the very least unaware.

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Try to be as quiet as possible while moving in on the fly.

Then stay perfectly still until just the right moment

It is of the utmost importance to wait for just the right moment to pounce on your unsuspecting target. After you’ve gotten close enough it’s imperative to wait for the right time to make your move. Patience is key here! My people may not think that I’m capable of patience, but given the right motivation I can be quite good at waiting for the exact instant to act. The truth is I just happen to be cleverer than my people and have them trained well to suit my needs. (I, meaning Theresa, would 1) like to object to this statement, and 2) state that “I knew it!”) It is quite important that your target not know what you are planning to do. Instead the fly should remain in blissful ignorance until you make your move. Otherwise, you chance them fleeing before you’re ready. The phrase “still as a statue” comes to mind at a time like this, and also “keep your eye on the ball” (or fly in this case).

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I cannot stress enough just how still you must remain!

Last pounce on the unsuspecting prey

Last, but certainly not least, pounce on the fly! Hopefully, if you have been able to get close enough, your pounce will result in immediate capture. However, if you’re still working on your technique it can take a few tries in order to be successful. Flies are tricky targets and due to their size and ability to move quickly it can be difficult to capture them. Ultimately, their evasive maneuvers only make their eventual capture by me that much sweeter.

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This is me mid-pounce.

Now go forth on your on fly chasing journey. It may take some time and practice to master my steps, but actually capturing the fly is only part of the fun anyway.

Panting Through It: Ways to Beat the Heat this Summer

I knew summer was on its way, I guess I just didn’t quite realize that it was already here! Recently, the temperature has spiked into the 100s. For days. Of course, we make sure to turn the air conditioning on before it gets too warm and to keep the house cool, but in my house the air conditioning is not something we like to leave on for a long time. Generally, it’s used to cool the house down and then it’s turned off at night before we all go to bed. Unfortunately, despite the blazing heat, both Rosee and Simon expect their daily walk in the morning, and Simon still requires his afternoon play session. The problem still remains that it is too hot. Now, I don’t mind playing with Simon, but when it’s so warm outside it is not great to play for an hour. The cement is hot which can be dangerous for the dogs’ paws, Simon gets winded easily, and too much time in the sun can mean a longer time to cool down. Therefore, I am going to share a few tricks on how you and your dog can beat the heat this summer.

Trick #1: Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

Much like humans, dogs need to stay well hydrated, especially over the summer. Most dogs don’t have any problem drinking water. If they’re thirsty, they’ll drink water. Just like if they’re hungry, they’ll eat. However, during the summer there are a few important things to keep in mind when it comes to ensuring your dog is well-hydrated. Drinking water, while significant, can be harmful if too much is ingested, particularly at one time. So, in order to avoid this, the best thing to do is to give your dog water breaks over a period of time. For instance, if we take Rosee and Simon on a long hike or something of a similar nature we make sure to bring water for them and every so often we all take a short water break. This way the dogs stay hydrated throughout the whole walk. Also, while I know it can be tempting for your dog if they see a water puddle from a sprinkler or run-off, I don’t recommend letting them drink from these puddles. Rosee always likes to look for a puddle while we’re out on walks, but I can never be sure what’s actually in the water. Maybe there’s soap (if someone was washing their car) or run-off from lawns which could d have things in it such as fertilizer. So, just to be on the safe side, if you don’t know where the water came from and if there’s a chance that there could be something foreign in it, don’t let your dog drink it.

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Trick #2: Exercise early in the morning or later in the evening.

Even when the weather turns warmer, exercise is still a must for most dogs, especially dogs like Simon. Normally, I like to take Rosee and Simon for walks in the morning anyways, but during the summer we sometimes have to go even earlier than usual. Where we live it can get pretty hot (we’re talking in the 100s for multiple weeks). As a result, it gets too hot to go in the afternoon, and by the time it’s cooled down enough in the evening it’s too late (I don’t like walking when it’s dark out). Plus, I enjoy going in the mornings because for me it’s a natural energy boost. Either way, whether you go for a walk or play with your dog it’s important to avoid peak sun hours (I think it’s about 10:30am to 4pm). Along with avoiding the hottest part of the day, because it’s just not good for anyone to be outside when it gets that warm, it’s also important to watch out for your dog’s feet. While the pads of their paws are usually pretty sturdy, they can still be vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. The general rule (as far as I know) is that if the ground is too hot for you to walk on it barefoot, then your dog shouldn’t be walking on it for prolonged periods either. That’s why it’s best to exercise in the mornings before it gets too warm, or later in the evening after the sun has gone down.

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Trick#3: Find ways to engage your dog inside.

While daily walks can be rescheduled to more accommodating parts of the day, the same can’t be said for Simon and Rosee’s playtime. Every day around 5pm Rosee and Simon awake from their afternoon naps and decide that it’s time to play. The problem still remains that the sun hasn’t quite set and it’s still pretty warm outside. Yet, both dogs still expect to play.  Consequently, I’ve had to come up with ways to entertain them inside. Unfortunately, playing fetch inside the house is out because there’s not really enough room and Simon’s not great at paying attention to what he might run into. Although, if Simon and Rosee don’t get any playtime, they start to wrestle, and being part Boxers that can involve a lot of jumping up, which again, there’s really not enough room for. Ultimately, I’ve found the best ways to entertain the dogs while inside include giving them bones they can chew on, rope toys because they can both pull on an end (and they tend to tire out quickly) and it doesn’t take up a lot of space, and training practice. Besides the bones and rope toys, training practice is helpful in keeping Rosee and Simon entertained as it’s mentally stimulating and helps build good habits (since, you know, training your dog is really never ending).

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Trick #4: Rethink treats.

Most dogs love treats, mainly the edible kind. Simon will eat just about anything he’s given or stolen. He especially prefers tortillas, particularly the homemade kind (he’s weird like that), and while Rosee loves special treats as well she can be somewhat pickier about what she puts in her mouth. Nevertheless, treats during the summertime can take on a whole new meaning.  Ice is always a good treat during the summer, especially if you’re trying to keep your dog hydrated. Sometimes after their morning walks I’ll set out a bowl of ice for them to help them cool down more easily. Other times I just put ice in their water trough, although it’s mostly for my own amusement as Simon likes to bob for each piece of ice.  Also, during this time of year seasonal produce can make excellent treats. For instance, try a nice dog-friendly fruit salad. Rosee and Simon particularly love strawberries and bananas, and recently tried blueberries for the first time. Simon wasn’t too sure about the blueberry and actually spit it out a couple of times before deciding to eat it. You could even freeze bananas and strawberries to serve as a cold treat. Point is: get creative. Dog treats can be more than milkbones.

Trick #5: Take shelter.

Besides water, another summertime essential for a dog is some type of shelter. Particularly, if your dog is left outside when you’re not home it’s important to provide them with some type of shade or dog house. Personally, I prefer the igloo-type dog houses because they stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In addition, we have a covered patio so there is ample shade in our backyard. Still, when it gets to the days where the temperature reaches the 100s it’s best to stay inside. Originally, Rosee and Simon were outside dogs, meaning that when we weren’t home we left them outside in the backyard. However, due to circumstances (i.e. neighbors, and weather) we now leave the dogs inside when we aren’t home. Frankly, over the summer it’s just too hot outside to leave them there during the afternoons. I know leaving your dog inside isn’t for everyone. Some dogs aren’t used to holding “it” for long periods of time or maybe you’re afraid they’ll get into too much mischief. I would probably recommend then kenneling your dog while you’re gone. Otherwise, make sure that if your dog is left outside when it’s hot they have shade, shelter, and plenty of water.

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Trick #6: Throw a pool party.

Of course, when it gets too hot outside and the air conditioning just isn’t doing enough the best thing to do is have a pool party of course. Whether it’s a kiddie pool or an actual full-sized pool, taking your dog swimming or splashing through it can be fun, and a good form of exercise. Rosee and Simon absolutely love water, just not when they’re getting bathed. They love splashing around in the waves when we go to the beach, swimming in the river when we visit the local park next to the Sacramento River, and will not stay out of the pools at the local dog park we sometimes visit. Simon is a natural born swimmer. The first time we took him to the Sacramento River he went right into the water and took off. He couldn’t get very far since he was on a (very long) leash, but he swam around for about an hour before coming back in to the shore. Rosee, on the other hand, is a splasher. She’ll only go as far as she can touch the bottom, and loves chasing the waves at the beach. Overall, it’s just another way to have fun with your dogs, and it’s most fun when it’s warmer outside.

Rosee and Waves

Trick #7: Wet your dog down.

I know this may sound strange (or maybe not), but stick with me on this one. Due to the fact that dogs do not sweat they have to cool down in a different way, hence why they pant. Another way to cool them down though, is to get their paws and bellies wet. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, dogs are similar to pigs in this way. However, instead of rolling around in mud (even though Simon would probably do this if he could), dogs typically will roll around on grass (since it’s usually cooler) or step through puddles of water. Or some dogs may be like Simon who just puts his front paws in his water trough, and if he’s really warm he will paw at the water in order to splash it on his stomach. Basically, getting your dog’s stomach and paws wet can help them cool down or at least keep them cool for a little while.

Rosee Bath

So there are my tips for beating the heat this summer.

It may be hot outside, but there are still ways to have fun with your dog(s).