We’re with my family for this Thanksgiving holiday. While I was gearing up for this trip AND our move, I’ve been stressed, yes, and Pyrrha has also been stressed, but when I stop for a moment, I realize that we have a LOT to be thankful for.
Thinking just about Pyrrha this season, during our second Thanksgiving with her, I am thankful that:
She is so easy. We never worry about her getting into stuff in the house, making messes, or causing general headaches.
She is patient with us.
She is healthy!
She is so food-motivated. This makes training (and coercing her to love Guion) a whole lot easier.
She adores other dogs.
She is quiet.
She’s become much more calm about visitors and house guests. Although she’d still prefer that they didn’t touch her, she warms up to them a lot faster now, particularly with men (who are never her favorites).
She’s always looking out for me.
Pyrrha continues to make lots of progress! It’s amazing to me to look back to last year’s Thanksgiving and realize that that was the first time she showed interest in retrieving. Crazy! Fetch is now one of her favorite games. It amazes me how much shy dogs can change, as static as they can seem sometimes. Yet another thing to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you US-based readers and pups!
I’ve been thinking about how I am thankful to be a (relatively insignificant) member of the dog blogging community. Just wanted to say that I really like you people.
Dog bloggers are a breath of fresh air in the blogosphere! There is so much vitriol and contention on the Internet; everyone seems to be either composed of total idiocy or rage, or both. But not dog bloggers. Yes, there are debates, and we may not always agree with each others’ decisions or training tactics or feeding choices, but at the end of the day, the dog blogosphere is a peaceful place to be.
Thanks to each of you who have encouraged me during my foray into this wide world of dog bloggers. Your advice has always been so deeply appreciated, and I am particularly thankful for how gentle you have been with me as I’ve made mistakes (of which I have made plenty) during my first time adopting and raising a dog of my own, and now fostering.
In the real world, I get made fun of for having a dog blog, and I frankly don’t tell that many people about it (unless they secretly reveal themselves to be just as dog-crazy as I am), but this is a little place I am grateful for. I’m not trying to get famous or super social-media-powerful from it; it’s just an encouraging outlet for my primary life obsession: DOGS. So, again, just thanks to all of you, readers and bloggers — for being a breath of fresh air.
(SIDE NOTE: Rainer’s trial with his adopter seems to be going well! I recently heard from Cody, and he said that Rainer was quite shy at first, as we told him he’d be, but that he was really warming up to his new home. We’re very happy!)
“No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.”
— Christopher Morley
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Happy Friday, everyone! Thanks for all of your great feedback on my post about where your dog sleeps; it’s been really helpful to hear from all of you, as always, and I take all of your comments and advice to heart. Hope your weekend is filled with many walks and cuddling sessions.
Happy almost-Thanksgiving to U.S. readers and pups! Some canine-centric links from around the Web this week…
The Smallest Acts of Kindness. In this season of gratitude, it’s nice to remember that even the smallest acts of kindness can have a big impact. (Modern Dog Magazine)
Meet My Evil Bathtub. These photos are endearing and funny, mainly because Chix’s displeasure is written all over his face. I’ve never met a dog who loved getting a bath. (Love and a Leash)
Orvis: Pre-Race. A cute, short video of our wedding photographer’s lab, Orvis, on race day. (Meredith Perdue)
How to Measure Your Dog for a Martingale Collar. I’m a big fan of martingale collars–we use them a lot at the SPCA, owing to our large number of hounds–and they have saved my sanity on many occasions. This is a great video tutorial from the makers of beautiful martingale collars, Classic Hound. (Classic Hound)
Cancer Part 4: Hemangiosarcoma. This series of sobering posts about canine cancer has been eye-opening. My attention was caught by this one in particular, because my research of the GSD has indicated that hemangiosarcoma is an unfortunately common cancer among the breed. It sounds dreadful. But it’s good to know the facts. (Borderblog)
Recognizing the Signs of Bloat (Video). Another serious topic, but one that people with big, deep-chested dogs are always aware of. I’ve also read about this being a quick and terrible killer of GSDs, and so this video and the corresponding facts were very helpful. (The Bark)
I confess that I went to the SPCA for my day of dog walking somewhat reluctantly this past week. The weather has been brutally hot here and last Saturday was no exception. The heat index on Saturday was showing something like 102 degrees Fahrenheit for the majority of the day. Even though I was sweating my face off, I was happy, because the dogs are always happy.
My most memorable dog of the day was Pooch, a young male pit bull. Pooch was one of the last dogs I walked on Saturday. Unlike most of the dogs, he didn’t jump or bark at me when I stopped at his kennel to take him out. He quietly sat by the door and just watched me, somewhat shyly. I crouched down and put my hand out for him to sniff. He ducked his head in an anxious way when I put his leash on, but as soon as I turned around to walk, he bolted out of that kennel like a rocket. The kid was ready to GO!
Like most pits, Pooch used his low center of gravity and strong pulling force to drag me all over the trails. I wasn’t much use trying to calm him down, so I took him to one of the enclosed “agility” areas. As soon as I snapped his leash off, he went wild with excitement: Racing in circles around the perimeter, looking for things to chew and balls to chase. He was especially enamored with a stuffed lamb toy that had been left in the pen. To amuse himself, he would toss it up in the air and then jump and catch it. I was delighted to just sit there and watch him play. If I wasn’t engaged in the activity, however, he was sure to let me know that he wanted my full participation. If I sat down after throwing the ball, he would charge up to me and impatiently throw his paws on my knees, grinning the whole time.
Pooch taught me a few things on Saturday. First, that dogs can behave very differently depending on their environments and situations. Pooch was shy and still when in his kennel, but as soon as he got out, he was like a totally different (and energy-packed!) dog. Second, Pooch reinforced that many pits and pit mixes have almost boundless energy. Compared with the different breed mixes I’ve met at the shelter, it’s the pits who seem to be the most gregariously energetic. And third, Pooch reminded me of what a thoroughly delightful thing it is to just watch a dog play. It’s encouraging to find the dogs at the shelter who are able to maintain their play drives to such a happy extent–despite their circumstances.
I hope Pooch finds a great home of his own very soon.
I was also taken with Beauty, a sweet-faced female hound of middling adult age. We have a ton of hounds at our shelter. I’d never seen so many in my entire life. This is because of the area in which we live, where there are many hunters and who go out with packs of hounds. These hunters don’t always take the best care of their hunting dogs, who may often get separated from the pack or breed with each other without any regard for what will happen to the bitches or their puppies.
I don’t know Beauty’s back story, but I do know that she’s a quiet and lovely soul. Many of the hounds I’ve met show little to no interest in people. I don’t know if this is because this is a “hound thing” or if it’s because of the way they’ve been raised, but it’s often hard to get a hound’s attention–mainly because they are usually following the scent trail of something that’s about a hundred times more interesting than I am. Beauty was an exception to this aloof, uninterested hound trait.
As we walked, she paused every so often to stop and just look me straight in the face. Not in a challenging way, not in a fearful way–but a look that communicated calm attention. I’m anthropomorphizing here, but to me, Beauty’s look also communicated gratitude. Every time she stopped to watch me, to follow my eyes, she seemed to be saying, “Thank you.”
I don’t know what she was actually saying, but I’m going to believe that for a while longer. She deserves a family who will appreciate and cherish her gentleness and goodness. I hope she finds them soon.
Finally, another favorite moment of the day was with the tiny beagle mix puppy that I got to cradle for a few minutes. (I don’t have a picture of him, which probably means that he got adopted!) He was in a small carrier on the floor while his kennel was being cleaned and the poor baby was just crying his heart out. I was in between shifts of walking and I couldn’t help myself when I heard him. I stopped, sat down on the ground, and let him walk out of the carrier toward me. I didn’t want to reach in there and grab him, as he already seemed very frightened and confused. He cautiously approached me and I picked him up. He had brilliant blue eyes and those sweet, velvety beagle ears. I held him for a few minutes and spoke softly to him.
I could have sat there all day, but there were big dogs who needed walking and so I reluctantly put him back. My wish for him is that he will find a family who will raise him well and give him a long, happy life in one household.
I’m looking forward to my next volunteering weekend and to all of the new things that I will undeniably learn!
(Also: Some exciting news about Penny, the hyperactive dog that I thought no one would adopt: Apparently, she was adopted by the DEA to be a drug enforcement dog at the airports! I’m excited for her and I hope this job will provide a great channel for her boundless energy.)