Friday, February 28, 2014

fifty ways to say "i love you" to your canine

This came up because a dear internet friend is facing terminal illness with her much much beloved lab ... while chatting to her about the future I mentioned that I do something meaningful for and with the ones I love every day when their status is palliative. I wish I could say I do it for everyone every day. I don't but I think I may work at it harder after writing this.

When Laurice died I did it right. She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma after a painful bump came up on her leg. Every single day something special happened for her from diagnosis to death. I had started that with Rufus when he went into liver failure but missed some days. As a palliative foster parent we have had more chances than many people to figure out how to say - I love you, I value you, you are special to us.

  1. Go somewhere they enjoy alone with them. Even just sitting in a favourite park can be a pleasure.
  2. Do a short, slow version of a treasured walk. 
  3. Sit outside a store and be admired. 
  4. Go somewhere they enjoy with the family. Even if all they feel up to is watching a younger dog play they'll enjoy it.
  5. Brush them gently in their favourite places. 
  6. Find some sun and sit in it together.
  7. Visit a pet friendly store. 
  8. Pick a BRAND new toy out and take it home with you. 
  9. Let go of some rules. Maybe they can lick a plate after meals? Get on your bed? You know your rules and your canine. Make it special. 
  10. Find a puddle they can lie in if they love to swim but can't anymore. 
  11. Make a huge and very comfy bed for them for the times getting on a couch or the bed is too hard.
  12. Invite their human friends over for a visit. 
  13. Go visit favourite humans, trainers, vets, groomer - whoever makes your dog happy. 
  14. Go visit favourite non human friends or invite them over. 
  15. Go through a McDonald's drive through and order them a plain cheeseburger, or chicken nuggets.
  16. Go through Timmies and get them a tim bit.
  17. Take them through the drive through with you.
  18. Read them a story
  19. Share an ice cream cone. 
  20. Tell them stories about when they were young. 
  21. Find someone who can do a reiki session for them. (or play, gently, with their energy fields yourself)
  22. If they are up to it and would enjoy it book a swim for them. 
  23. Make a little extra of your breakfast and share it. 
  24. Try making special dog treats yourself - with your dogs favourite ingredients. 
  25. Make a little extra lunch and share it. 
  26. Turn an extra heater on in winter, or an extra fan on them in summer. Let them be super super comfy. 
  27. Make a little extra of your dinner and share it. 
  28. Make sure you leave them, even if it's not for long, so they can have the joy of welcoming you home. 
  29. Laugh with them. 
  30. Cup their chin in the palm of your hand and connect with them..
  31. Give them a puppy pad or  other indoor place to potty if they simply can't hold it anymore. 
  32. Cry with them. 
  33. When you get frustrated or sad explain why to them and let it go. 
  34. Learn a couple of TTOUCH moves and practise them with your dog. (I love raccon personally) 
  35. Book a massage for them. 
  36. Sit quietly with them in a peaceful place watching the birds or squirrels or whatever. 
  37. Make a fun ritual of medication time - premack the meds with something awesome. Pills and shots predict GREATNESS!
  38. Make a video or slide show of your favourite clips of them. 
  39. Share your clip with friends - and tell your dog all the great things they say.
  40. Go for a drive to see something new - cows? horses? a waterfall? 
  41. Teach them a new trick
  42. Watch animal shows on tv with them. 
  43. Review an old favourite trick.
  44. Pat and scratch them their favourite ways not the easy ways. 
  45. Brush up on a trained skill. 
  46. Have a photo shoot - pro or friend with props and silly stuff .
  47. Look into their eyes and smile or make your mutally favourite face. 
  48. Let them lick you if they love to do so. 
  49. Feed them an extra meal in a day. 
and of course

  50. Tell them you love them when you awaken, when you go to sleep and a million times in between. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

stay tuned ....

new fosterling arriving tomorrow - an orphan ... should be pretty amusing ....

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Cost of Love ....

Been a sad, difficult time for too many dogs lately and lots of people are stepping up to try to help them and their people get through it.

Lots of people have been facing tough times without the support of the larger dog community too - getting through expensive vet bills by going into debt, tapping on family and friends or digging deep into savings that had been set aside for other things.

It's been an expensive start to 2014 so far around here ... and Sampson  just ate the show budget for the year (literally he ate a blue kong that broke into pieces just large enough to get stuck in his stomach AND his intestine - because, really, why would anything be simple with our dogs?).

happy boy - run run run 

We were so very very fortunate to be able to simply say do it when surgery looked like the best answer. I was 95 % sure he was blocked somewhere (violent puking from 4 am to 8 am produced 2 of the Kong pieces but didn't bring him great relief) so we didn't drive to either Ottawa or Toronto for ultrasound or scoping  that would be best practise if I had been doubtful about the block. We went ahead with exploratory surgery. Good thing. Sammo was well and truly blocked,. (Why do anything in half measure eh?).

Surgery was finished quite late in the day so the clinic convinced me to transfer him to emergency care for monitoring - which I would generally recommend to anybody. It was good to develop a first hand relationship with both the closest clinic and the emerg clinic but it would have been better had it been a something a little less serious.

a happier winter day 

I was my usual high maintenance self. Staff at both clinics were great and understanding, actually they all seemed to think I was pretty funny too. I think they might remember me. In fact I was told that my level of high maintenance was bearable because I was funny.

Sam went into surgery relatively quickly. Apparently people often have dogs that are sick for days before people ok exploratory surgery. I suppose his producing chunks of Kong was a good thing to encourage us to move ahead with getting the rest out. However, a sick dog is probably a little more sensible than Sam was at the emerg clinic. He got out of his lovely floor heated pen in the middle of the night, pulling his catheter partially  out and  filling his leg with enough fluid he looked pretty stocked up.

even on leash mr sniffer still loves to smell stuff 

He quickly developed a foolproof method to remove his cone as well - he slammed his face to floor and used both paws to hold the hood down and yanked his head out - again, and again and again. So we went with a spray to prevent too much licking.

He developed some funky bumps along his belly - so he gets extra drugs for more time - because, you know, there is nothing any of us would rather do than ensure compliance with doctor's orders.

He is now BORED. REALLY BORED. I am terrified about how to ease him back to fitness. This is not a dog that knows the meaning of take it easy. Luckily he is not a huge house play dog so has been content to eat yummy treats and lounge on the couch. We've both been taking him out in the car too so he can watch the world go by at least. That's helping a bit.

PS - this dog with potentially terminal kidney disease when he arrived had, and let me quote,  "PERFECT" pre-surgery blood work - sometimes one celebrates the little things ;)

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Train for you - not for "them"

I'm  a Fenzi academy course addict  ... I've taken scenting courses ,  ring prep courses, a rally course, a play course and I've thoroughly enjoyed them. Courses are at the gold (working spot) silver (participant - auditor) and bronze (silent observer) levels and I've done both gold and bronze. One gold turned into an expensive silver when a camera died in the first week of class.

One thing I find really rewarding about the classes? They constantly reinforce my sense that I am on the right path for me. Usually it's subtle - being positive, approaching training as fun, only sending 2 minute video clips (which I of course interpret as I only need to train for three minutes!) but every once in awhile a pearl drops onto a thread of discussion, or out of a lecture that makes it all so blatantly in line with my philosophies  I grin for days.

One such piece of wisdom came from instructor Margaret Simek the other day.

"One judge isn't gonna change how I train"

So deceptively simple. So so critical.

Whoever the "them", "one judge" is you have to train to make you happy. If you are like me you also have the goal of happy animals. If one judge in scent work will slam you if your dog touches a box, or in rally hates barking and marks it way way down, or in agility builds courses that asks questions you don't train for for whatever reason- either don't show under them or show under with the understanding that your principles matter and you will stick by your beliefs. Don't change your training long term and CERTAINLY don't change it short term.

I am, to all appearances, casual about training but I plan every single training session with the dogs and horses. I plan pilling cats. The plan may be simple "build Thea's confidence on teeter". Or it may be more complex "squish to front to heel for Dora" but it's usually simple and helps me move towards accomplishing one of my goals.  Oh yes, must get on long term goal setting.  

Train for you, and your animals. Not anyone else.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Askhole ...

Yup sometimes I'm a total askhole. I apologize.

Urban dictionary defines askhole as  "Someone who asks many stupid, pointless, obnoxious questions."

I'd add this element to it - asking questions only to completely ignore the answers! Might as well just use google if that is the plan. 

If advice is all that is wanted with no intention of taking action I am going to start saying that. 
If I already know what I want to do I am going to say so. 
If I am seeking validation rather than advice I am going to say so. 

If I just need a listening ear I am going to say so. When I listen I want to feel like a part of the conversation. 

I am getting a little tired of being on the receiving end of askholes too - but they do remind me to struggle not to be one myself so I am grateful to them.  A good problem solviong conversation should look like this

I am determined to do my part to make it so! Strategies to redirect askholes welcome ;)