Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you watching the conclusion of the Westminster Kennel Club show tonight? I’m going to watch it with my husband and his hilarious poetry colleagues from the university, who have an annual tradition of watching Westminster at a local sports bar. I am so excited. Could there be a more ironic combination of things? Poets + wings + cheap beer + dog show = I think not. Who’s your bet for the big win?
Dog show fun aside, here’s a few interesting links from around the Web:
5 Reasons to Adopt a Dog. These are the standard, excellent reasons, or at least, a great place to start in listing them. I like reminding myself of these reasons. I’m always surprised at how many people look sad or disappointed when I say I want to adopt an adult dog. “Don’t you want a puppy?” they plead. Next time, I’ll gently remind them of some of the elements on this list. (The Bark Blog)
NYC Dog Art Tour. A collection of canine artwork from around New York City. (Loving the Dog Art Today site redesign, too! So sleek!) (Dog Art Today)
Sharing the Love. Sweet-faced border collies and a dachshund with their Valentine’s message. (Raising Addie)
A lot of interesting, dog-centric links from around the Web this past week:
Getting the Most from Dog Training Classes. These are really helpful and insightful pointers about how to get more bang for your buck in a training class. I wouldn’t have thought of many of these things, and I’m glad I read this before signing up for a training class. (Oh Behave!)
Surprise! These (pretty adorable) photos of a border collie pup are proof positive that breeds have strong, inborn instincts. (Alta-Pete Farm Tails)
Wrapping Up the 2011 Budgeting Project–Onward to 2012! If you ever wanted a seriously comprehensive glimpse of pet finances, look no further than M.C. and her Bows. This is a really helpful year overview and it’s inspired me to keep track of my own purchases for my future dog. (The House of Two Bows)
Finding a Purpose for a Pup. A success story of a sheep-killing German shepherd turned drug-busting police dog. Just proof that every dog has his proper place, if only we’ll give them a chance to find it. (The Bark Blog)
I was very flattered this past week to receive a mention in the “You Are an Inspiration Awards” from Pamela at Something Wagging. I’ve been so encouraged by Pamela’s blog since I started my dog research, and I look forward to continuing to follow hers and Honey’s adventures.
That said, here are some great dog-related links from around the Web this week:
Therapy Dogs: Born or Made? Patricia McConnell reflects on the qualities a great therapy dog should possess and discusses the age-old question of nature vs. nurture. Basically, if you have a calm, perhaps older golden retriever, your dog should be doing therapy. Bo and Dally would be IDEAL candidates, maybe when they’re older. Goldens were just made for this stuff. (The Other End of the Leash)
An Uphill Battle: Tartar in a Kibble-Fed Dog. Stephanie, the Biologist, discusses the problems of tartar buildup in her kibble-fed dog and debunks the popular myth that kibble cleans dogs’ teeth. (Musings of a Biologist and Dog Lover)
Comparing Bergan and Kurgo Dog Harnesses. The most widely traveled dogs give their reviews of two car harnesses. I’ve thought about getting something like this for our future dog. How does your dog travel in the car? (Take Paws)
Indigo: The Hockey-Loving Dog. This focused border collie reminds me of Emma, my childhood Aussie, who was fixated whenever we played hockey on the cul-de-sac. We kind of drove her crazy. It’s torture for a herding dog to watch such a game and not be allowed to get out there and HERD! (Shirley Bittner)
The Dog. My dear friend Rachel writes about her dog Cider‘s displays of devotion when she comes home. So sweet! (Mixed with Gold)
Are Too Many Vaccinations Bad for Adult Dogs? A thoughtful and informative discussion about the controversy over vaccinating our dogs. This is something I’ve been thinking about lately, too, and it was nice to read such a balanced and fair article on the topic. (That Mutt)
Pet Fostering Is Tax Deductible! This is great news for those who foster animals. It’s something I’m seriously considering after we have a few years of dog parenting under our belts, and this new tax break is just an extra incentive! (Pawesome)
Just a series of photos of some of my favorite dogs from the herding group. Not to pick favorites or anything, but I think I’d have to say that all of my best-loved breeds come from this group of high-maintenance, noisy, difficult dogs. I know. I just can’t get over them. Why this post? Well, I like to look at dog pictures. No apologies. A girl can dream, right?
Fun and thought-provoking dog-related links from around the Web this week…
Top 10 Myths about Dogs. I’m certainly ready for these myths to disappear from the general public’s perception! (A Place to Love Dogs)
Puppy Mill Expose on HBO. This looks like a great film. I hope it reaches the public, too. The fear is that it would only be seen by those who are already well aware of the tragedy of puppy mills. Let’s hope that’s not the case. (The Bark blog)
Enzo & Hughie. A cute series of photographs of these tiny canine BFFs, by our wedding photographer, Meredith Perdue. (Meredith Perdue)
I Love Dooce and Her Dogs. I have been reading Heather Armstrong’s incredible blog for years now and have always delighted in the stoic Chuck. Lindsay from The Hydrant collects a few photos of Chuck’s best. (The Hydrant)
What You See… The pack of dogs from Wootube always seem to be having the best time. What a fun and energetic set of photographs, too! (Wootube)
Lacamas: Day One. Speaking of another pack of high-energy dogs… I love these photos of the border collies like sharks in a field. Such expert stalkers. (BCxFour)
Day 4: Sharing. A sweet photo of two new corgi mamas feeding their puppies side by side–and their breeder’s story of how they get along beautifully together and happily feed each other’s pups. Motherhood! (Ruffly Speaking)
This past weekend, my husband and I house/dog-sat for some friends of ours. Kendra and Ehren have a 7-year-old black lab/border collie mix named Zoe. Guion was excited that they had a piano in the house; I, naturally, was way more excited that they had a dog.
I’d met Zoe once before at a crawfish boil that Kendra and Ehren hosted. I was extremely impressed by her calmness and tolerance. She patiently submitted to having a grabby 10-month-old baby stick his hands into her mouth and ears. I was anxious about it, but Kendra was right there and assured me that Zoe would be fine. And she was. Zoe rolled her eyes up to look at Kendra, as if to say, “Look how patient I am. This baby is trying to gag me and I am letting him. Because I am a very good dog.”
And she is.
Understandably, Zoe was pretty anxious about what we were doing in her house on Saturday night. She is extremely submissive and doesn’t really have much desire to protect anything. She rolled over on her back continuously until we were able to calm her down. We spoke softly to her, slipped her a treat, and soon she seemed much more at ease about our brief residence in her home.
On Sunday mid-morning, I took Zoe on a long walk around a circle of pretty residential streets. She pulled a lot at first, but once she figured out that we weren’t going to move until there was some slack in the line, she calmed down and was an excellent walking partner.
Going on daily walks is actually one of the things that I am most looking forward to about getting a dog. (I may not say this after we have the dog, especially in brutal January, but still!) I eat well, but I do not make time for much physical activity, and I am looking forward to having to care for an animal who requires a good amount of daily motion.
There is also something very soothing and meditative about walking with a dog. There is no need for conversation; you merely listen to each other, observing nature and feeling your bodies relax and refocus. I love walking dogs and I wish I could do it all day long.
The other thing that Zoe reminded me of is the calmness of touch. I’m reading Suzanne Clothier’s book Bones Would Rain from the Sky right now, and in it she talks about how she was impressed by famed horse trainer Linda Tellington-Jones’ injunction to always use “soft hands” when working with animals. Remembering this charge is a great way to prevent yourself from lashing out in anger or impatience.
While Guion was out grabbing lunch, I sat on the living room floor with Zoe. She crawled over to me and put her muzzle up against my leg. I started slowly massaging her back and neck. She seemed to like it, and so she rolled over, inviting me to do her underside. If I paused for a second, she urged me on with her nose, as if to say, “Don’t stop now!” We continued this session for a good 15 minutes and it was very peaceful. I was reminded of a scene in the documentary “Dogs Decoded” that talked about how petting a dog releases a similar burst of the “happiness/bonding” hormone oxytocin in both the dog and the human.
It made me wonder about dog massage. In April, the New York Times ran an article about dog massage that sparked my interest: Dog Massage? Isn’t Petting Enough? I saw that Modern Dog Magazine also ran a short, illustrated piece about how to massage your dog. I’d like to learn more. Has anyone ever tried this before? Do you practice it regularly with your own pooches?
Overall, the long weekend with Zoe just increased my already burgeoning desire to have a dog. It was a good exercise in canine parenting and Zoe was a wonderful and patient teacher. I look forward to getting to see her again soon.