Monday, April 22, 2019

Katie: 2011-2019

Katie, Katie Roo, Katie Pop, Queen Katie, KayTeeeeee, she had a lot of cute nicknames.  We first met Katie when she came to our local rescue group along with her two puppies.  She was bred at her first heat and had a litter of two when she was 9 months old.  She and her pups were rescued from a hoarder that kept dozens of dogs in her back yard to breed willy nilly. Being the Chin person in our local rescue, I was called to help foster.  Once I laid my eyes on Katie, it took me less than five minutes to tell them that I could not foster her.  I paid the adoption fee and adopted her site on-seen. 
Doing Therapy Dog Work

Despite a horrible upbringing, Katie was a very happy dog.  She wagged her tail a lot and was like most Chin, fiercely independent.  Things were always done Katie’s way.  The water bowl had to be filled to the brim for her to drink, or she would splash it all out in protest.  Her meals had to be served with the dry food on one side and the wet on the other.  She had only one spot on the couch she would settle on and she rarely shared her bed with the others, but KiKu on occasion.  She and KiKu were like the bratty sisters, they loved each other until they wanted to argue and boy, could Katie get loud!  
Queen of the Head Tilt

In her latter years, she gave up her ruling with an iron fist and became a benevolent leader (due to some good training by her Mom).  All the dogs bowed down to Queen Katie.  She could give a look and they knew not to take a step.  When dogs came to visit for training or for fostering, she was the first to explain that she was the Matriarch here.  They always obliged. She would look at the humans and we obeyed her commands for potty break, picking up to get on the couch, night time routines and treats.  Her demanding squeeky little bark could get her anything. We did all that was asked of us in exchange for the adoration of Queen Katie.

Katie was born with a congenital defect in her hips.  They were malformed, rendering her 100% unable to jump up on anything or even climb a step or walk up an incline.  She also had bilateral luxating patellas and a wonky heart with funky valves.  Despite her birth defects, it didn’t slow her down.  She loved to be outside with us, basking in the sun or barking at a neighbor.  Her favorite summer pass time was when I got out the kiddie pool and put water in it for her to splash around.  

Dad and his dogs!
Katie loved the human race most of all.  She became a certified therapy dog and went to our local nursing home to spread smiles and joy.  She loved to be held like a baby and have her tummy tickled until she fell fast asleep in someone’s arms and began snoring.  She made so many people smile during her time as a therapy dog.  She retired after we discovered she had an odd eye disorder that was limiting her vision, making her nervous to be approached and difficult to walk from dark rooms to light.  It never slowed her down, though.  Our years together as a working therapy dog team were my favorite.  She and I spent Sunday mornings making people smile.  Her favorites were a lady named Dell and Miss Beverly.  She would snuggle up and make them smile.  Her most important therapy dog job was when my Father came to live with us.  For those days, she was part of his therapy dog team, making him smile on days he found so difficult.  She made his last days the happiest.

Katie reminded me that even little dogs need a place in the world with a job.  Hers was to make people smile.  She never met a stranger.  When folks came to the house to visit, she would bark and push herself ahead of the others to be noticed and adored.

Katie’s favorite foods were boiled chicken, watermelon, popcorn and her daily chew-chew bones.  She liked to parade around with it in her mouth like a cigar, then perch on her bed, surveying her kingdom for potential robbers before having a good chew. When she heard the popcorn going in the microwave, she walked to the couch, demanding a ride up to her spot where she not so politely barked for each piece tossed to her.  There was no way to eat popcorn without giving a good portion of it to Katie, thus her nick name “Katie Pop”.  When she was truly happy, she would pop up and down and make the cutest noises.

Katie had a few favorite pastimes.  Yard time was fun for her, basking in the sun, walking along the flagstone path like the beauty queen she was and letting the next-door dog know she was really the boss of the neighborhood by letting off her cute little 4 and a half pound dog barks.  She enjoyed the fan I put outside in the summertime, feeling the breeze in her beautiful hair.  She had the most amazing coat and fuzziest feet.  She also loved rides in the car.  On the days she deemed it her turn to ride, she would rush past the boys for the door, demanding a taxi cab ride out the door into the car.  She knew the way to take Steve to the bus stop each day.  When we made the last turns, she started bouncing, demanding that her Dad pick her up so she could observe the people in the bus line.  She expressed her appreciation with little chuffs of joy. On rides home, she knew the last turn into our subdivision and would bounce again, trying to climb up the seat to see the neighborhood as we pulled in the drive. Dog walks for her were fun too.  Because of her hips and knees, she rode in a stroller and I always imagined her waving like a princess to the adoring crowds. 
  
Willpower was her biggest strength.  She never let her “handicaps” hold her back from enjoying life.  For a little dog, she had a big soul and personality.  She never let things get her down and she was tough as nails.  Two months ago she developed congestive heart failure due in part to her heart and to the small chest cavity (another birth defect).  Despite that challenge, she lived each day to the fullest.  She didn’t let the occasional cough get her down.

She made me giggle every night at bedtime.  I would call the dogs to bed, three of them came running.  I would do my nightly return then head to my side of the bed and call Katie, “are you ready for night night?”  She’d come in and go to the same spot, turn around and wait for her servant to deliver to her spot on the bed.  It’s a nightly routine that put a smile on my face each night.  It was so Katie, being the Queen, she had to have a special entrance.  Nightly treat times she would push ahead of the pack to be first in line.  She always went first, because that’s how it is when you are the tiniest little Queen.


In the end, Katie left this world in her own way, the way I would have expected, without assistance from the human race, in the arms of the person who adored her the most of all, held like a baby with me rubbing her tummy. I believe dogs know the special person who saves them in rescue and she definitely was “my girl”.  Fiercely independent, much like me, we “got each other”.  I understood how she wanted to do things herself, her own way.  

Eight years is entirely too short of a time for her to have been here, but so many more than she and I expected her to get with all the issues she was born with.  We gave her everything she needed to live as long a life as she could.  My heart aches with a pain that is indescribable at the loss of my Katie Roo.  My world is a little darker and the hole in my heart from losing my pets is bigger.  

Katie joins my first dog Bandit, Gina, my first Chin and the cats we have had through the years: Kitty Copper, Kitty Coal, BabyGirl, Buddy and Kitty Buster.  My hope is that when it is my turn to leave this world I go where my pets have gone.   Nothing in life could make me happier than seeing them all again.  Will Rogers said it best: “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” I think Mark Twain got it right too:  “The dog is a gentleman. I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.” 

Rest well my Katie girl and know that having had you with us for this time made us better people.  You taught us to be tough, never give in and just be happy, no matter what life throws at you.  Here’s hoping we see you again.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Overwhelmed?


Do you feel overwhelmed?  Do you feel you are not doing the right thing for your dog?  You are not alone! Your human brain, like all of us, is structured to look for the bad, and so negative moments stand out more than all those positive training moments.  Do you think everyone else has a perfect dog and your dog is failing miserably at life? That’s because your brain is wired to see the bad more easily than the good.

What can you do?  Play on your strengths. If your dog is not good on walks, take a break and do other activities instead.  If your dog is not a social butterfly then not "socializing" on the walk and doing other activities is probably a relief! Find something else to do that your dog loves and keeps you less stressed. Play to your strengths.

Is it easier if you walk with a friend and their dog instead of by yourself? Then ask some friends! Do you find it less stressful to walk late at night or early in the morning when your dog has less encounters?  Then do it! Play to your strengths.  Maybe one big walk a week is better for you and your dog than daily short walks?
 
Focus on what your dog is good at then spend more time doing what you and your dog are good at and shorten or avoid the stuff that your dog struggles with. Have fun with your dog! Don’t do things just because others are. Safety first! Focus on what your dog is good at!

Think in percentages when you are trying to fix a bad behavior your dog has.  Look at the percentages of improvement, keep a record of how many times your dog gets it right!  You will be surprised when you change your focus, how much success you are having training your dog!

Make training fun, it should not be a stressful chore….do what you both find fun and work in that mindset.  Most importantly, accept your dog for who s/he is...your dog is not a robot, you cannot reprogram it.  Your dog is not a watch, you cannot just send him/her off for a repair and have a new watch!  Acceptance is key.

Did I mention having fun with your dog?...........You will have more success!
 



Like Us on Facebook



Follow on Twitter

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Nail Trims


Some dogs hate nail trimming, others merely tolerate it, almost none like it. Some dogs need tranquilizers to make it through the process without biting, while others sleep through the procedure without a care. No matter what your dog’s personal take is on nail clipping, it is something you should do for your dogs regularly to keep from harming their skeletal structure.

A dog’s nails are important parts of their anatomy. Unlike cats, dog claws are not weapons, but are used when he runs to grip the ground when accelerating and turning corners. Outdoor dogs run around enough over different surfaces and wear their own nails down. But our house-bound companions don’t get that natural wear from carpet, hardwood, or vinyl flooring.

Having long nails changes the way a dog carries himself. The diagram below shows how a long nail causes the bones in the foot to flatten and the Metacarpal, Phalanx I and Phalanx II bones to sit more angled every time the dog walks or stands. Click here for full article.

Like Us on Facebook
 Follow on Twitter

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Philosophy Matters in Dog Training

KristiBenson.com

Recently, one of the many wonderful rescues I work with posted a picture of a gorgeous dog, who was en route to her new home. As I skimmed the post, I read about this dog’s backstory, which was a bit sad: she had come from a life without a lot of enrichment or human contact, living outside without adequate shelter, and so on. But things were looking up for this particular dog, and of course I had to smile. She’d scored big with a wonderful home in another city; a family waiting eagerly for their new canine addition. But then I got to the end of the post: she’d needed some vet care and was being boarded with a dog trainer for a few days before traveling on to her final destination. 
When I saw that another trainer was involved, I will admit my smile cracked a bit. As you may be aware, dog training is a wholly unregulated industry. That is, anyone can open shop, take your money, and do whatever they want to your dog. Hitting, shocking, and yelling are just the start of some of the negative and wholly unnecessary experiences that dogs may receive while being trained by a subset of dog trainers (and that is to say nothing of the trainers who are motivated by a desire to help dogs but lack formal education, skills, and experience, so end up taking handfuls of dollars from unsuspecting clients and failing to make a difference). The problem is so pervasive that my mentor, Jean Donaldson of the Academy for Dog Trainers, has created a video to raise awareness. Click here to watch video


Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter