Some people. It's really all I can say. Some people are amazing pet lovers who go above and beyond for their animals who call them family; some people are not. Both groups found their place in a recent encounter I had with a friend of mine who loves dogs just as much as I do, who shared the amazing story of Ford, an abandoned puppy in Georgia.
Heather, a former co-worker and an amazing friend (you can thank her for the presence of Life with Arie on the web; not only has she encouraged me to blog, but she also helps me host the page and helped me through some tech issues when I was just starting out as a pet blogger) contacted me earlier this week about an event that some of her friends experienced. Heather's friend saw a car drive by, and then just happened to see the woman inside throw a puppy out of the car and drive away; she even had a child in the car, performing this heinous act in front of them. (Way ta' go role model). Heather's friend immediately went to check on the little guy. He was covered in fleas, but otherwise seemed to be healthy. They bathed him and cleaned him up. He's eating well and doesn't show any signs of sickness; he has a good disposition and does really well with kids. While he's in their care, they've named him "Ford" for "Found on Road Dog".
Look at that face. The farm-kid in me wants to snatch him up and call him my own, but of course, one apartment is small enough with a White German Shepherd, two black cats, and a betta fish.
Look at that face. Just look at it. It's so adorable it's painful. I digress... Getting back to Ford's story, the family that was so amazing with taking him in now has Ford quarantined until they can take him to the vet tomorrow to make sure he's okay; they have three dogs of their own, so safety first. I think Heather summed up my feelings with one sentence in her chat: "I don't understand people; how can you just dump a little guy out like that? :(" Sad face, indeed. Even though Ford was the victim of the people who don't treat animals with the love and respect they deserve, I'm glad that he was found by the other kind, the ones like you and me. For now, Ford is camping out with them while they try to find him a home. I'll be reaching out to rescue groups this week to try to find someone to take him. If you're in Atlanta or in the metro Atlanta area and know of someone or a group who could lend Ford a helping hand, email me at canismajortreats at gmail dot com.
On a side note, Heather's dog, Dolly, had a mishap with a door and a four-year-old. Needless to say the door was shut very quickly by the four-year-old and Dolly's tail didn't quite make it clear in time; her long, pointer-like tale is now a docked nub from the experience, and she's wearing the cone of shame. Dolly is quite sad in her cone of shame, so send her and Heather some happy thoughts on the Life with Arie Facebook page. Look for the following thread:
Thanks, all. I'll see you tonight for the announcement of Mr. Fish's new name!
Xylophone. Xerox. These are the popular words of today (well, yesterday as I'm a day behind) in the A to Z Challenge. I laugh in the face of your common words, and instead raise you Xoloitzcuintli.
I confess: I am have not been a fan of hairless dogs; this could be due to the fact that they require sunscreen and are high maintenance to a certain extent, or to the fact that I'm so used to having my apartment completely infused with dog hair because Arie sheds so much that it just wouldn't be normal without it. Still, this breed is a little larger than the tiny toy options you usually in hairless dogs, so I have to give them some credit. They would also be great for allergy sufferers, or for someone who isn't committed to a love affair with their vacuum, as I have to be to deal with the shed-inator. They also got their first debut at Westminster this year, and since I mentioned the Kennel Club in my W post, I thought it might be nice to name drop it here as well. At the time of the show, I wrote an article about the new breeds in the herding group on my Examiner page, so I couldn't give true face time to the Xoloitzcuintli until now.
Have you seen a hairless dog in person? I haven't, and I'm very curious about them--Are they as odd in person as they are on the screen? Do you have one? If so, what drew you to the hairless breed?
Over the counter medications are convenient for people, as they relieve symptoms without a prescription when you need something in a pinch. I don't like to take medications, but I do frequently get migraines and have an OTC migraine medicine that is a lifesaver...but I digress.
When I was younger, I remember my mom being told to give our little mixed breed, Daisy, half of a Benadryl when she had an allergic reaction to ant bites. Her at home medicine cabinet remedy isn't the only one I've heard of either. Louis C.K., the hilariously subversive comic, was on Conan recently. He talked about an incident where he saved his dog's life with hydrogen peroxide...in the hilarious manner that you can only get from Louis C.K. (NOTE: He is going to call the dog dumb. He is going to talk about the measures he has to go to get her to drink the hydrogen peroxide. Take it with a grain of salt and humor, people).
Mom's home remedy and Louis C.K.'s life-saver aren't alone. Some sites, like Yahoo or WebMD say that giving your pet certain over the counter medications like Aspirin is okay, while others, like one vet's website, say that aspirin is lethal in any dose. There is so much conflicting information out there that I doubt I would ever give Arie anything without being directly told to by a vet in the moment of need, just to be on the safe side.
Have you ever given your pet OTC medications usually meant for people? Were you told to by a vet, friend, or your intuition? Tell me about it in a comment here, or on Life with Arie's Facebook page.
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The next letter of the alphabet brings us to N, for nail trimming.
Nail trimming. Who knew such a simple act could be so intimidating? This seemingly innocuous act that I had been doing my entire life to all of my fingers and toes was all of a sudden very foreboding when it came time to try it on an animal--Like many pet parents, I was terrified of hitting the quick and hurting them.
We had pets for years before I adopted my own, but never had the struggles of nail trimming; our dogs and cats were outdoor animals and our house was off of a gravel driveway that served as its own nail trimmer of sorts. After I found my cats and adopted them, I had to learn the ways of a nail trimmer; with them being indoor cats, their nails were going to need trimming at some point, as the act is very important for their health. After a while, the cats and I realized it wasn't that big of a deal and adjusted to at home nail trimming. When I got Arie, the same fear ensued, as her massive paws were more intimidating that a feline's, and her nails were of a different texture. She's due for a trim now, so I can show you what I mean:
My friends who are new to pets have asked me before how to trim their pets' nails. The easiest way for you?
This easy three-step plan is not your most affordable option, but it does put a lot less pressure on you. On the other hand, you could:
If you're pet is comfortable with you clipping their nails, go ahead with option two. If you have a young pet, be sure to play with their paws a lot, as this gets them used to you handling their feet, and makes trimming nails much, much easier later on in life. When you've got your clippers and you're ready to trim, I suggest watching a video before you get started--It helps give you a visual and get your ready for the task at hand. I'm a little partial to this one, probably because it opens with a White German Shepherd Dog:
For the cat people out there, this was pretty good, even if a little awkward:
Do you trim your pets' nails at home or do you go to the groomer's or vet's office to get it done? Why did you choose your method?
We find ourselves today (with only thirty minutes to spare!) on the letter I, for Ice. I had originally planned this to be a light hearted post, as we've been talking about a lot of the heavy stuff lately, but alas, the internet had other plans.
Arie LOVES ice. If I open the freezer door, Arie becomes suctioned to my side with her eyes trained on the freezer. Nothing will pass by that portal unless she sees it. As soon as she hears the rustle of the ice in the ice tray, it's over. I'm getting sad puppy eyes and that little "treat please" dance--The one where they seem to bounce a little on their two front paws?
I don't give her the ice without her earning it. We use it to practice stay commands and a few others, like sit, lay down, and so forth. Sometimes, resisting the urge is hard.
Arie usually eats one or two ice cubes a week, depending on the day. We don't regularly give them to her after a hot walk or to cool her down, just as a treat that she likes. When I logged on to write to this post, I did a little Google search on ice and dogs to find out if there was anything interesting on the topic. I was truly surprised by what I found.
Apparently there was an email that circulated the web on the matter, discussing how one pet parent had a life-endangering experience with her pooch after feeding them ice. The email details her account of giving the dog ice and having to rush to the emergency vet because of severe bloat and issues for the dog. I found the exact same story in several forums, and even on an Examiner pet writer's page.
"In an effort to keep your dog cool you may give them some ice to chew or put some cubes in their water bowl. Sounds logical? NO!!! Ice, ice water or very cold water can cause severe muscle spasms that result in bloat." - LA Pet Care Examiner
After years as a dedicated student and 24 years with a type A personality, I don't usually accept information lightly. I had only read about this risk on various chat forums and then in this Examiner article, so I kept searching. I did find an article on PetPlace.com about the matter.
"There are several known risk factors associated with bloat but eating ice cubes has not been firmly documented. Apparently, an email has been floating around the internet identifying ice cubes as a problem. I found some information in blogs but nothing solid. I talked to several veterinarians and none of them confirmed this claim." -Dr. Jon Rappaport, PetPlace
While my gut and research tend to lean towards Arie's ice cube habit being okay, I know that we have a lot of amazingly well informed pet parents in our circle of bloggers. What do you guys know about the ice debate? If you're new to the blog, weigh in as well! I'd love to get your opinions.
We're onto H now, and onto the topic of habit forming behavior. If you haven't been able to read recent posts, I'm doing the A to Z blog challenge in April, where I post using topics inspired by the alphabet almost every day. To stay up to date on the series, subscribe to my blog to have it delivered to your inbox or to your reader.
With people, we talk about our bad habits. Nail biting (guilty), caffeine (guilty), lying (just white ones), etc. By calling them bad habits, in a way we excuse our actions...it's something we slipped into, an accident--one day we bite one nail, then two, then three...and all of the sudden it's a habit.
With dogs, we talk about bad behavior. Your dog barks when someone walks by the door--bad dog. Your dog chews on your stuff--Bad dog. By calling it bad behavior, we imply that the issue is something to do with the dog. We give ourselves excuses, but somewhat blame the dog for their actions in the way we describe these things.
Dog behavior is just your dog developing a habit, bad or good.
I've been thinking about this a lot today, all because of a stupid move on the Internet. I made the mistake of wandering onto Craigslist for furniture, and being the sap that I am, checked the pets section. Being completely masochistic, I searched for "German Shepherd". Sure enough, a list of dogs popped up. Most of these dogs ran along the 1 and a half year mark, the perfect age to stop being a puppy, and, if not raised properly, to start being a really big problem. People give reasons like "the dog is too hyper for us" or mention that this dog, at a year and a half old, "isn't house trained and needs to be an outdoor dog". In other words, their dog has formed bad habits, and they can't deal with it anymore.
Dogs often develop bad habits when they are in search of fulfilling a need that they have. Dogs who are highly energetic breeds, like a Border Collie, German Shepherd, or Jack Russell can develop destructive habits if their energy needs are not met. Intelligent breeds, with several names from the same list I just gave (Shepherds are number 3!), also fall into this category. Dogs are smart. When you don't play games or don't give them toys, they'll make their own. Take this little guy--he taught himself to play fetch!
Arie, when she was about a year old, taught herself one such form of entertainment as a tantrum. Any time you went to the bathroom, Arie would follow you into the room and smack her big face in your lap while you were occupied. After growing up in a family with four people (6 after my sister had kids) and one bathroom, my bathroom time is precious to me. While I love my dog, my time in that room is a private affair, and even she is not invited. We began shutting Arie out of the bathroom and leaving her on the other side of the door, much to her dismay.
At first she whined. Then she barked. And then the crazy girl figured out how to OPEN THE DOOR. This wasn't a jump-and-hit-it-with-your-paw by chance venture either. Arie knew how the handle worked. She used her muzzle to push the lever down while pushing on the bottom of the door with her paw to pop it open.
My dog taught herself a habit as a way to "stick it to the man" for trying to bar her from bathroom time. When we moved to our new apartment, the handles were, thank goodness, round door knobs, so she can no longer practice this feat.
To help Arie avoid learning any other bad habits, I try to do what is required of all pet parents: train, entertain, and occupy.
Train your dog by teaching them good habits. Sit, stay, speak, roll over, lay down, down, crate, etc. By giving your dog a positive task, you create a stronger bond between you and your dog, give them a sense of purpose, and keep their brains busy with good things.
Entertain your dog by giving them the exercise and play time they need. In my last post, I mentioned that I'm upping Arie's walk time to get her energy out. We play catch with her favorite tennis balls and stuffing-less toys, and we always play "tag", another game of Arie's device---Arie will get into her play bow, then bounce toward me, then run away. If I run, she'll chase me and tap me with her nose, then run away, waiting for me to come touch her on the back, then so forth and so forth. I've taught that, even while playing tag, if I call her the game is over to avoid letting this behavior become problematic and instead keeping it fun.
Occupy your dog when you can't be there to train or entertain. For Arie, right now I use puzzle toys and treat hiding toys, like her Kong, while I'm at work. You can also try boarding your dog or taking them to a day camp for dogs, where they can interact with other people and other dogs to have a great time.
What funny or odd habits have your dogs formed? I know that many of you are amazing trainers and great at working with your dogs, so share your secrets to training, entertaining, and occupying your pooch with the rest of us in the comment section. I'd love to hear them for help with Arie! I don't usually post on training or my thoughts on it either, so tell me what you think---Do you agree with the post? Disagree? Love it? Hate it? Weigh in with your thoughts.
F is a term filled post for us, so I'm going to be discussing a variety of subjects briefly. Let's start off with the last one... Failure.
The A to Z Challenge is a daily posting challenge with Sundays off. Yesterday, I was supposed to have written my F post. That, sadly, did not happen. I'm 24 years old. I usually have a lot of energy and stay pretty active, except after a very long week at work. This was such a week. After a few drinks with friends after 5 PM freedom, I came home for a quiet night of blogging and bumming around the apartment. I tuned into Grimm, one of my guilty TV pleasures....and fell asleep. I fell asleep, around 9:45 ish, and slept until 1 AM. I not only failed my blog challenge, in that I didn't write my "F" post, I also failed my generation of sleep deprived post-collegiate professionals. Oh well--better job next time.
So, today you will be getting my belated F post...and G later on in the day. Bear with me as double down on the posting today. Now onto the rest of the F's:
Fleas. Fleas are a threat pets face every year. These nasty little buggers cause discomfort, irritation, and even infections--they are also very determined in their pursuit of a host. "Fleas are hearty and nimble, and when searching for a host, they can jump 10,000 times in a row, the length of three football fields" (Web MD). I've been trying to lead a "greener" life; I recycle, use organic, natural cleaning products, drive a fuel efficient car and walk to destinations when I can, etc. I would like to find a natural flea repellent, as I already use other natural bug repellents. Fun fact: You can use vinegar to deter ants from your home. We had some getting into a window, so I sprayed the outside and inside sills with vinegar. No more ants! Still, I haven't found a natural flea repellent that works quite as well as the one we're using now, so this change will have to wait.
Facebook. Did you know that Life with Arie now has a Facebook page? I confess, I have been less than diligent when it comes to Facebook, but I'm trying to post more actively now and grow that online community, as Facebook makes it so easy to share information quickly. Stop by for a laugh, and post a link to your page so that I can "Like" it too!
Farm life. For old friends on this page, some of you may remember my post about going home for the holidays, and about my family's farm. For those of you who are new, or for a refresher, you can read that post here. I love taking Arie home, because she can run free in the field and enjoy some time off leash without being hindered by a fence. The farm isn't only a happy place for Arie, but for myself as well. There's something very calming about being out in open nature, even though I prefer to live in a more populated area for now. In the future, I'd like to talk to my family about buying some of the land we have for a rescue and adoption center. Perhaps one day I can make that a realty.
I'd love to hear of any natural flea preventatives you may use on your pets; if you have a Facebook page for your blog, or just for yourself, post a link in the comments so I can connect with you! Do you have a dream for the future that involves helping animals? What is it?
We all have our quirky features. Arie's are her ears.
A German Shepherd Dog's ears are probably their most recognizable feature. These satellites of sound sit atop their heads, giving them the look of attentiveness and awareness as adults. As puppies...well, let's be honest...they're hilariously disproportionate. Arie's ears, as a 3 month old little thing (at the size of many fully grown toy breeds), looked like a baby elephants:
Cuteness aside, Arie's massive ears make the risk of her getting an ear infection much lower. As young puppies, the German Shepherd Dog has ears that are folded over, but as they age, their ears stand. These upright, open ears help to keep Arie's ears free of bacteria:
"Open ears are a benefit to the dog in that there is increased air circulation in the ear canal. If a shepherd has an imbalance in the naturally occurring yeast or bacteria in the ear, the ensuing ear infection will not progress as rapidly as it would in a dog that has a flap covering the ear canal. (Ear flaps create a warm, wet area in which yeast and bacteria can multiply quickly.)" - Net Places
Though the natural posture of her ears helps keep Arie free of infection, that doesn't mean that she won't get one. Knowing the signs of an ear infection are important, as ear infections that go untreated can result in very serious effects, including hearing loss. Here are a few things to look for:
If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, go to the vet. I repeat: Go to the vet! Unless you a) used to work in a vet's office, b) volunteered at a shelter and helped with their veterinary care, or c) have been shown...in detail (NOT from the internet) how to clean your dog's ears, you need to consult a vet before you try.
Okay...your dogs ears a smelling a little funky and he tossing his head like it's a maraca. It's time to go to the vet. The vet may clean your dogs' ears there, but they may also send medicine home with you and directions on how to continue to clean his ears. Here are a few things to do before you try to clean the infected ears:
Finally, clean your dogs ears, as directed by the vet. So far, I haven't had to clean Arie's ears after an infection, and her vet keeps a nice eye on those bat ears to ensure that they're doing fine each time we visit. Have you had to clean your dog's ears? Was it an easy or difficult task?
Today the alphabet takes us to the letter D in the A to Z Challenge, and it's time to discuss deciding to get a dog. While every day, some families and individuals find their animal companion that will enjoy a happy and active life with them for the duration of their life span, so many more people are adopting a pet they're not ready for, that will eventually end up back at the shelter. An average 6-8 million pets are surrendered to the shelter each year, with 3-4 million of those eventually being euthanized. You can help cut down on these senseless deaths by ensuring a few things before adopting a pet.
1. Are you ready for the costs and responsibilities of having a pet?
The expenses of having a pet don't stop there. With new cats, dogs, ferretts, and more, you'll have to be able to afford the damage they'll inflict as well. When I first got Arie, she luckily was not a big chewer--Even then, I had to have my carpet cleaned several times and replace a pair of shoes. Emergencies also arise, as do emergency vet expenses. Even common problems, like UTI's in dogs, cost you for a vet visit and treatment.
If you can afford to have a pet, are ready to love one for the long haul, and have the time to spend with them for walking, feeding, vet visits, and more, you're ready to move on to the next question.
2. What kind of a dog should you get?
You're heart is set on a dog, you have the funds you need to support a furry addition to your family, and your schedule allows you time for training, walks, and play time. Now, it's time to decide what kind of dog fits your lifestyle. When people adopt dogs that don't fit their lifestyle, both the people and the dogs often end up miserable. That Shih-Tsu may look sweet, but these notoriously hard to train and stubborn dogs can be too much for someone who can't handle little mistakes in the house. Are you a couch potato? Your Border Collie could develop destructive behavior when you aren't able to meet their exercise needs. Mixed breeds, or mutts, still require this consideration. One trip to the shelter isn't enough to know if the doggy behind the glass is right for you--You need to spend time with a dog before bringing them home, and ask about their temperament. Many shelters offer overnight trials with pets so that you can see how a certain dog fits into your life at home before you make the set commitment to give them a forever home.
Here are a few considerations to keep in mind while selecting a dog:
3. Can you truly be committed to a pet?
Being committed to a pet goes so far beyond the financial and time commitments. When you adopt a pet, you adopt them for life. Are you ready to stay with your dog if they develop health issues, such as seizures or cataracts that hinder how the see? Are you prepared to live through the sleepless nights of howling in their crates during crate training, to leave your vacation early because your dog is sick at the kennel, or to pick a different apartment because the one you're in does not welcome your dog? Having a dog changes your life--even in the end. On the day you bring home that bouncing puppy or your newly adopted adult dog, you need to be prepared for the day you go into a vets office to say goodbye to them forever. Having a pet is like a miniature marriage--that commitment must survive through rich, poor, sickness and health, until the end of a life separates you. While it's hard to think about such things, stories from our friends and family, and even movies (ala Marley and Me, My Dog Skip, Old Yeller) all tell us that this is something we have to be prepared to handle.
Are you considering getting a dog? Do you have one, and have other recommendations for those considering taking the leap? Share your thoughts.
After settling in for a quite Saturday night at home, I stopped by some of my favorite blogs to check in on their latest posts. The Elka Almanac had a wonderful post about a new bill to protect dogs in the military and ensure they make their way home after their services.
It was pure coincidence and serendipity that after reading Jen's post, I checked my Google Alerts for White Shepherds and German Shepherds (They come in handy for the stories I write as the Atlanta German Shepherd examiner). In the listed articles, I found the amazing story of Marine Megan Leavey, and her fight to save the life of and to adopt her canine military companion, Rex.
Leavey was a dog handler in the military that worked with Rex, a bomb-sniffing dog, very closely. The two even survived a roadside bombing together.
"'Rex is my partner; I love him,' Leavey told Msnbc.com 'We have been through so much together … I’ve spent day and night with this dog. It’s a very strong bond.'" (via Mail Online)
Leavey has tried several times to adopt Rex, but was denied because he was still considered a valuable active work dog. Rex now holds status as the oldest dog still in service at Camp Pendleton at the ripe age of 10, which makes him an elderly German Shepherd. Rex is now facing health complications with Facial Palsy that cause his to be unable to serve. This complicates the matter even more, as his illness could be another reason to deny his adoption outside of service, and also a reason to put him to sleep because he cannot be used in service anymore--Not because he's not capable of living in fair circumstances.
Leavey is now working with several vets and members of the Air Force who train the dogs used within the military to get approval for Rex's adoption. For more information on the story, you can read about it via the NY Post or Radar Online.
While we've discussed canine members of the military before, now we have a chance to help these dogs get the recognition they deserve. Call your representatives and discuss S.2134 -- Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act (Introduced in Senate - IS) as a way for them to help dogs in the military.