Archives for posts with tag: Lessons

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We can learn so much from watching our dogs enjoy themselves outdoors

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They know no comparison, or criticism

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They move their little bodies with confidence and curiosity

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They are in touch with the earth, they let the grass tickle them and mud cake their feet.

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They smile

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They are present

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So we’ve talked about the little quirks we love about our dogs, and also how we are failing them as parents.  But what about those habits of theirs that really get your goat.  Now now, I know that we all exercise additional patience with our dogs- Hell, I’m actually working with a personal trainer to find ways to better my dogs while still being the soft spoken wimp that I am. My first lesson is to try not to laugh when Bardia does something bad.  That being said, there are definitely certain behaviors I could live without.

Both of my dogs beg for food.  Elsa takes it to a new level though.  She will sit beside me and actually use her paw to pull my hand toward her and try to eat off my fork.  When that doesn’t work she will casually crawl into my lap to lay down, and then subtly crane her neck toward my plate to lick whatever she can.

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She also loves to wipe her eye boogers on me.  It’s gross.

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Mornings with Bardia are a struggle.  He wakes up unfailingly at 6am every day- weekends and holidays included.  Then he proceeds to cause a raucous throughout the house until he and I go for a run or one of us humans leaves for work.  These actions include pacing through the house while mildly whimpering at nothing, repeatedly stealing shoes, hairbrushes, pens etc. from whatever room we leave open, and knocking on the door to go outside 9 billions times. Again, this behavior is entirely confined to the first two hours of the day.

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Bardia is also very jealous.  He does not like me kissing Elsa, or John, or hugging my mom or petting strange dogs and will actively jump between me and these things.

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So spill! Does your dog have any less-than-charming habits?

 

If there’s one thing I can say for sure in this life it’s that no one is perfect (IDK maybe Beyonce is?  She seems to have her shit down).  Not our dogs and certainly not us pup-parents.  Some days it’s really hard raising those fur butts- we’re tired, they’re acting out, we’re pressed for time, or sometimes we’re just being stupid and lazy.  But we all have our faults, here are a few of mine.

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For starters, I wait too long in between nail trimmings.  I know how important it is to keep your dog’s nails short and neat but hot damn are they just awful at sitting through trimmings.  It’s like I need to wake up and accept that half of the day will be spent struggling through something that is horrible to all involved.  So I put it off as long as I can.

I sometimes forget to brush their teeth…and sometimes I just don’t do it.  Again, I KNOW how important dental hygiene is but some nights, it just isn’t worth the struggle of trying to force my fingers into their mouths.

I get grumpy and impatient when they take too long to poop.  Especially in these frigid months.  DSC_0415

Every now and then, I’ll ignore their pleas to play.  Yeah, I’m the worst.  Most of the time, thinking about coming home to play with them is all that gets me through the day.  But other times,  I’m so exhausted I just want to crash on the couch and watch Netflix until my face falls off.  Lucky for me, they usually accept a good cuddle in place of play.  

I reward bad behavior.  Like when they are begging for my food and I just give them some to get them off my back.  Did I mention I’m the worst?

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What are some parenting mistakes you make with your dogs?

 

I have a confession to make.  I used to be one of those people to say, “I’m not that big a fan of small dogs”.  Pretty unfair of me considering most of the dogs I knew and loved growing up were small dogs.  That’s probably where my issue stemmed from though.  Lap dogs were great for petting and picking up, but I often felt like I was missing out on some great adventure reserved for those who shared their lives with big, sporty dogs.  I was so envious of the neighborhood kids I would romp through the woods with, their trusty black Lab always in tow, the families who took their dog camping, the man who walked his Shepherd on the beach every morning of every Summer.  Wasn’t that the joy of  dogs?   To run and swim and hike and play?

I brought my childhood dog, Pookie, a Yorkie-Poo to the beach once and the poor thing got so scared when I put her  down that she just ran as fast as she could down the shoreline, heading nowhere.  Of course, on her stubby little legs she was easy to overtake and shaking like a leaf when I scooped her up.  I held her close to me, while we waited on the street for my mom to pick us up.  Her heart rate slowed down to a normal pace and she settled against my chest in a warm gratitude for saving her from the fear to which I myself exposed her.  I loved that little dog so much and it took until that moment to realize that the joy of her wasn’t in what she did or didn’t do.  It was just in knowing her and loving her and having her as a part of my life.  I wasn’t sad because she didn’t like hiking and swimming, I was sad because I had to do those things without her.  Because I liked her company, and I wished she could always be present.  You see, the thing about small dogs, the really incredible thing, whether they’re athletes or not (and God knows they can be- I’m looking at you, Elsa) is that they really know what they’re doing in the lap dog department.  They were literally bred to be pets.  Do you understand what that means?  It means that their job is to love you and be loved and cuddled and doted upon.  It didn’t matter that Pookie never joined us on any outdoor excursions because she was there every evening when I returned home, ready to rain kisses and settle into the crooks of my legs.

To this day, if I’m sick or sad, Elsa goes into overdrive.  Ever see a dog on point?  Ever watch a Border Collie herd?  That’s the sort of intensity with which she takes her comfort dog duties.  Like something is vibrating in her core, saying this is your moment, Elsa.  You’ve got this.   Then she wedges herself between my neck and shoulder, so close she’s practically under my skin, and lets out a little snerffle like she’s just fixed everything in the world.  And as far as I’m concerned, she has.

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Almost a year ago I reviewed a few products by the honest kitchen and raved about how my dogs thrived on their food. For most of Elsa’s life and the early part of Bardia’s I fed them Preference with boiled chicken breast. However, as Bardia got bigger, it got more tedious and more expensive buying and preparing both the chicken and vegetable mix. I ended up switching them over to a high quality, grain free kibble. Convenient and super affordable! Almost immediately, though, I began to see changes in them. They both put on weight, which is good news for Bardia who is a spindle but bad news for Elsa, especially considering how little her serving size was. I feed them twice a day so for her recommended quarter to 1/3 cup, I was giving her literally a few tablespoons per meal, poor thing. In addition to the weight gain, her coat grew dryer and less easy to manage until she ultimately developed a hot spot. I tried to remedy this with adding yogurt, sometimes eggs, and eventually fishoil to her food. No go.

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As for Bardia, while the weight gain was welcome and his coat didn’t change much, he developed excessive discharge from his eyes. Something in the recipes ( I use plural because we tried numerous “regions” and protein sources ) also did not agree with his notoriously sensitive stomach because it took a whole lot of pumpkin to get that guy to have a solid stool. While I was glad he bulked up a little bit, the rate at which he did so alarmed me. Since both of my dogs are avid runners and hikers, I prefer to keep any excess weight off in order to reduce the strain on their bones and tendons.DSC_4106DSC_3967

I reached a point where it was too difficult to remedy all of the issues that kept arising. Honestly, I don’t even feel like I can’t fault the kibble too much. It’s tremendously hard to find a food that agrees with my two dogs who are so vastly different in size, coat and sensitivities. The executive decision in our household was to return to The Honest Kitchen. Instead of going back on Preference we put the dogs on Embark, the formula for active adult dogs and puppies of all breeds and sizes. Almost instantaneously everything went back to normal. The eyes, the coats, the bowel movements (I swear THK doesn’t pay me)! I couldn’t believe the stress I had put on myself and the dogs for months trying to get another food to work, just to save some money. Well let’s be honest here, a lot of money. In fact the only drawback is that I now have about a $400 dog food bill every month. Now of course it would be less if you have a smaller dog but all together, my guys don’t weigh more than 75 lbs and we go through one ten-lb box a week. I can understand how it wouldn’t be feasible for someone with a large dog over 100lbs, but if you can make the room in your budget , I would recommend The Honest Kitchen a hundred times over- you can can’t put a price on happy, shining, energetic dogs.

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*photos from our recent visit to Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve

Elsa has only switched harnesses once in her life because she outgrew her first one.  Bardia, at 11 months old, has had about 7.  He grew out of a few of them, sure.  He chewed through a couple others- one while we were driving through the mountains of upstate New York, with no place to pull over.   While he enjoyed the freedom of nonchalantly hopping around the Explorer, we prayed to our maker.  The most recent rotation of harnesses, though, has been due to the fact that my main man over here has become quite the escape artist.  He’s discovered that if I’m not looking, say picking up after Elsa on a walk, he can bow down and back out of it in a hot second.  What’s more is he tends to execute this stunt at most unsafe and inopportune places, i.e. at busy intersections, crowded parks, etc.  taking years off my life and putting me right on the path to some early gray hairs.  Luckily though, we seem to have found THE ONE.

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The Ruffwear Webmaster Harness.  http://www.ruffwear.com/Web-Master-Harness_2?sc=2&category=1131.  This harness not only wraps around the chest and rib-cage, like most, but the belly area as well, really hugging the dog.  Meant for assisting dogs over obstacles while hiking, the secure fit discourages any escape.  Since we do use it for hiking as well, the bright red color is ideal for this time of year when hunters are about.  The straps are well cushioned also for the comfort of dogs (like mine) who pull or perform vigorous activities such as running or biking alongside their master and the handle gives me extra control if he gets rowdy at the sight of prey.  As the description on the website says “It makes everything easier”.  I can’t begin to describe the relief of being able to just walk my dog and enjoy the walk- worry free. DSC_2146

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Listening to the radio this morning they were talking about how people allow their cats and dogs to lick their faces,  knowing full well that those animals lick their own nether regions, eat poop, drink toilet water, etc.   While I keep a very clean house, having grown up with dogs I never was a germaphobe.   I share my bed with my dogs, kiss them as much as they kiss me, and I’ve been caught giving them food off my fork.  But a recent experience made me wonder if maybe I’m a little too comfortable with my dogs.  You see, I’ve been really tired lately.  I hate complaining about it because literally every single person in the world is tired (it’s just the modern age)  but this past month has really whooped my ass.  So a few nights back I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, rolled over and saw the stuffed squirrel from one of those ‘hide-a-squrrel’ toys on the floor.

It should be said that it was very dark and I have very bad eyes and did I mention that I’ve been really effing tired.  My first thought was OMG A MOUSE.   I froze of course and tried to think of what was in my reach that I could smash it with while I waited for it to run off.   When it never did, I relaxed and thought, Oh it’s probably just poop,  AND THEN I WENT BACK TO BED.   About 4 minutes later I woke up, realized what I had done and leaped out of bed with hot shame and disgust to clean it up.  You can imagine my relief when I realized I haven’t quite reached that level of crazy/gross yet.  Luckily, in the real world, if either dog had to go in the middle of the night, they would not allow me to sleep.  In a better rested state I would have remembered that fact or,  you know, just gotten up to check like a normal person.  And now that I’ve shared this traumatic experience with you all I hope you can ease my conscience and share an embarrassing experience of your own!