Monday, May 30, 2011

The joys of walking shelter dogs in springtime

It's always so much fun to walk shelter dogs when the flowers are in bloom. This little 6 month old darling is Sara, the Black Lab Border Collie mix (with one blue eye), available for adoption A perfect combination of friendly and smart. She passed all my good dog, tests. She came to me when I sat down, and shared affection. She looked back at me during our walk. She got along with my Aussie Cash, walked nicely on the leash. For a 6 month old puppy stuck in a shelter she was sweet, well mannered, medium energy level, and smart, traits which are not always easy to come by in an abandoned dog. She even came to me when I called her, and sat when I told her to "sit". What a sweetie pie, she can only get better from here, as she is still young. It makes me wonder why someone would get rid of such a nice puppy, but then I wonder a lot when working with shelter dogs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

There is the Dog Whisperer and then there is..,

me, the "Dog Conjurer". When I am not helping shelter dogs I take a large, white, rescued dog with me that belongs to my friend who is a nurse and who works long hard hours in service to the sick. My friend's dog is 3 years old, as is my Australian Shepherd, so they are fairly well matched as playmates, in terms of energy levels, and play styles. I usually pick the dog up on my way to one of the many nice trails we have around here and then walk for an hour or more. On a few occasions I have taken her dog to my house which is about 4 miles away, and then walked from my house either with just my dog and friend's dog, or with my neighbor and her rescued greyhound joining the pack. My friend's large female dog had been to my house about 4 -5 times when one day about an hour before I was going to get her to walk, she just showed up. My dog's started barking and my husband said" there's a strange dog running down the driveway" and low and behold it was my friend's dog. I just gave her some water, threw her in my stall shower and cleaned her up and then let her play with Cash my Aussie. We later went for a walk a good 5 miles, and then I returned her to her house and shut the doggie door to the outside. It seems she had found a way through the fence. On another occasion my friend had been working a lot and her boyfriend was gone all Saturday volunteering for a charity event. Once again I had planned to take her dog later in the day. I was sitting on my sofa feeling a little off, as the spring weather around here has been snowy, rainy and miserable with a few scattered moments of sunlight breaking through before another bout of hail. I was debating the merits of which walking trail to take. Do I want to go to town? go down the paved bike trail? Take the gravel hiking path? I really wanted to stay at my house and walk out the scenic ridge past the farms. It's a paved road out in the open, which means I'd be able to absorb what little sunlight might be available, and not heavily trafficked, and there are long vista type views in certain places and two adorable cow dogs at the halfway point that come out to greet us. I'm such a sucker for cute dogs as motivation for keeping my spirits up while walking. I kept thinking "oh it would be so handy if my friend's dog just showed up here, then I wouldn't have to drive over, get her and drive her back later" Just as I was thinking to myself "I shouldn't even be putting that thought out into the universe, what am I thinking?" My dogs started barking and I looked over at the door and there she was! I guess the dog read my mind before I even thought it! A more reasonable explanation was she was bored and lonely, and knew where her friends were. So we went over the same routine again, I cleaned her up, gave her water, she played with Cash, my Aussie Shepherd, and then we went for a long walk. I told my friend what had happened and she was shocked that the dog had found it's way over here. It's about four miles by highway or perhaps shorter as " the dog runs" We were trying to figure out what kind of reasoning led her to find my house. Did she take a short cut? or follow the path the car took? Did she use visual landmarks? My friend got a little annoyed at her dog, but the dog was only trying to alleviate it's loneliness. Dogs are pack animals after all. I was reminded of how we humans can get rather annoyed when our children, pets, other fellow humans do not fit nicely into our plans. What may initially seem like annoying behavior or willfulness that disrupts our intentions, is only another creature trying to express in a communicative way, that it's needs aren't being met. Instead of just being annoyed with them, we should try and listen to them and identify the problem and rectify it . I suppose that's what communication is all about: listening, hearing the message, identifying and understanding the issue, and then solving the problem. Happy spring dog walking to all.

On a side note, I recently read Cesar Milan's book " Cesar's Way." I was touched by his sensitivity, especially given that he is such a powerful, macho guy. I thoroughly enjoyed the book