Puppy Goes Zoom

Dogs, cats, randomness–my adventures in pet ownership and fostering

A Pile of Cute

It’s been forever since I’ve posted, hasn’t it? Tyson is still with us, and we also have a foster kitty, Sassy. In this picture, Diamond, Haley, and Tyson are chilling on the couch. The dogs got two days of daycare in a row, which makes for sleepy puppies.Pile of Cute

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My dog is my baby like a cheeseburger is a banana

Recently, I was rereading a bunch of Joanna’s posts at Ruffly Speaking, because there’s so much good stuff there (and the malware attacks have been resolved a while ago, so it will go back on my blogroll as soon as I update that). I ran across this one, which I had previously liked but also kind of disagreed with, but hadn’t been able to really articulate why.

The basic point is not only true, but hugely important. Dogs are dogs; they aren’t human children. When we think of them like human children, we set them up for failure, misinterpret the hell out of their behavior, or do things that are wildly inappropriate.

And yet, at the same time, I feel like it’s possible to make useful comparisons between dogs and children, and I don’t think that by referring to my dogs as “the fur-babies,” I’m necessarily setting up any kind of harmful dynamic. I feel like the way I relate to my dogs is, vaguely and broadly, *like* how I would (hypothetically) relate to a kid. I’m responsible for keeping them fed, giving them opportunities to learn and have fun, keeping them safe, establishing rules for living in my house that help us all happily coexist. I’m my dog’s advocate at the vet like I would be my kid’s advocate at the doctor’s office. I try to listen to what they’re telling me when they don’t speak English. (Having two dogs and no kids, I think I speak dog *way* better than I speak baby.) I cheer for their victories and comfort them when they’re sad, and try to give them tools to live in a world that doesn’t, initially, make a whole lot of sense to them (dogs because people are weird, kids because they’re still learning how things work).

Basically, it’s a metaphor. And even the best metaphors fall apart if you try to stretch them too far.

My dog is like my child in that I’m responsible for making sure their physical, emotional, and social needs are met, that I feel loving and protective toward them, and that they live with me. A dog is unlike a baby in a lot more ways than it’s like one, but the metaphor illustrates aspects of the relationship. If I treat it like a truth instead of like a metaphor, then, sure, I run the risk of interacting with the dog in a way that the dog doesn’t get. Or if I get a dog to fill the needs that a child would fill, I’m setting that dog up for horrible failure and myself up for disappointment. Just like if you treat all the metaphors we have for arguing that are drawn from war (attacking an opponent’s position, dismantling weak arguments) like truths, you will end up with a whole bunch of enemies and no one who wants to discuss anything serious with you. (And you’ll probably be reduced to trolling the comments section on YouTube.)

I feel like it might be better to think of the owner-dog relationship and the parent-child relationship as two very different things, but things that are still in the same really broad category. To use another metaphor, if someone pointed to a cheeseburger and said, “That’s a banana,” you’d say they were crazy. And if you try to make a banana cream pie with a cheeseburger, it will be a disaster. But they’re both foods. They both provide you with fiber, sugar, protein, Vitamin C, and iron, although in very different amounts. In kind of the same way that , the basic need for food is met by a cheeseburger or a banana, the basic need for affection and companionship is met by both dogs and kids. In both, it’s in very different ways, and can be really unhealthy if you treat one like it *is* the other. Don’t pile ice cream on a cheeseburger and call it a banana split, don’t eat a banana by itself and think it’s going to provide you with enough protein and fat to get through the afternoon. Don’t put your dog in a little sweater and carry him everywhere, or expect that he understands what you’re saying as much as a five-year-old would. But if thinking about how children melt down when they’re cooped up on a rainy afternoon gives you a mental picture for why your dog is getting on your last nerve after missing his morning walk, then go with it. Don’t stretch it past where it’s useful or appropriate, but use it for what it’s worth.

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Meet Tyson

Our current foster dog is Tyson, a ten-month-old pit mix with a really gorgeous brindle and big ears. We got a genetic test done (which I’m going to do for all of our fosters as long as Maryland continues to pretend that there’s something “inherently dangerous” about pit bulls, particularly when the ruling only applies to “purebred” pit bulls), and he’s supposedly 75% American Staffordshre Terrier and 25% Tibetan Mastiff, which left me wondering where he got those ears. Apparently some pitties do have ears that stick up, though it’s not what I’ve usually seen.

Tyson standing

I stole ’em. From Batman. Cuz I’m fierce.

He’s shy and slow to warm up to new people and situations. Men, particularly men in hats, are scary, as are little bitty dogs like chihuahuas and pomeranians. He was cruising around daycare in typical zoomy fashion when he almost ran over a little pom. Who barked at him and chased him for daring to invade his personal space. But in general, he very much likes other dogs.

Hey Diamond

Hey…whatcha doin?

Especially Diamond, who he seems to have totally fallen in l0ve with. Unfortunately, he thinks the way to a girl’s heart is by chewing on her ears. Yeah, Romeo he’s not. But Diamond seems to like him too and they run around together at Countryside a bunch.

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Golden Shar-Pittie

It sort of got lost in the excitement of Reba getting adopted, but we got genetic tests done on Diamond and she is apparently about equal parts Chinese Shar-Pei, Golden Retriever, and American Staffordshre Terrier. The other quarter is random mutt. I’ve decided that makes her a Golden Shar-Pittie.

Matt and I laughed our heads off at the “Golden Retriever” bit. In the time we’ve had her, Diamond has fetched a ball exactly once, from a distance of about two feet. When I threw the ball again, she looked at the ball, looked at me as if to say, “Guess you didn’t want it, then,” and wandered off. And goldens are people dogs. Diamond is so very much not a people dog. She’s okay with people she’s gotten to know, or new people in small doses (particularly if they have treats),

I find it amusing that she actually does have “pit bull” in her, since the whole reason I started reading up on pit bulls and got into fostering with a rescue group that works largely with pit bulls was that a lot of people thought she looked like a pit mix of some sort. We had expected her to be more shar-pei than anything else, though.

Of course, all of this assumes that the results of a genetic test are valid, and a lot of things I’ve read suggest that the science is not exactly rock-solid yet. But it’s a better answer to “What kind of dog is that?” than a complete guess.

 

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Plague! Run away!

I’ve temporarily pulled “Ruffly Speaking” off my blogroll. This isn’t because I no longer think Joanna is awesome, but because she’s having issues with malware and I don’t want to send anyone to her site to pick up something nasty. She’s got everything locked down six ways from Sunday and is doing what she can to fix it, so I’m hoping it will be corrected soon. (So I can get my corgi fix. Not a breed I should ever own, but my gosh are they cute and fun!)

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Not Actually the Hardest Part

So, Reba got adopted! Her new family has three kids, a pittie puppy (who Reba gets along very well with), and a big fenced yard. She has a neighborhood full of kids to wag at and be adored by, and a little boy who loves dogs to tire her out. It’s pretty much everything she could want. Wait, no, they’re probably not going to give her a pound of bacon every day and let her chase the cat. It’s *almost* everything she could want.

And I miss her. Kind of a lot. We were starting to despair that she’d ever be adopted, and she was starting to feel more and more like “our” dog, and like if we ended up keeping her forever, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. And, so, of course, once I started thinking, “Yeah, I could keep this dog forever, that’d be okay,” she got adopted. Apparently that’s how it goes.

The upside is that Diamond seems much happier by herself. It’s odd, because she and Reba had gotten to a point where they liked each other and Reba wasn’t getting on Diamond’s nerves (much). Diamond definitely looked for her at daycare and other places, and Reba had this “protective big sister” vibe toward Diamond. But she’s been a lot bouncier since Reba left. Could be that she’s more relaxed now. (Diamond’s not a fan of chaos and Reba is a *fount* of chaos.) Could be that she was toning down her own play to avoid ramping Reba up more than she wanted to deal with.

We will definitely foster again. I’m thinking of giving it a couple more weeks, just to be certain that Reba’s settled in well in her new home. I’m also thinking an older dog would be more Diamond’s speed. Wouldn’t have to be a senior dog, although that would be fine, but a dog who’s five or so. You know, an actual adult dog, rather than a 1-2 year-old, which seems to be a puppy in an adult’s body.

I’ve heard people say that giving up a dog you’ve gotten attached to is the hardest part of fostering, but I’m thinking that’s not true. Taking a dog back after the adoption didn’t work out was harder. I can think of lots of things that would be worse and more difficult than having a dog go off to a loving home (taking a little piece of your heart with them). Really, I should probably *stop* trying to think of all the things that could be worse, like finding out the “sanctuary” you sent an animal to was a scam, or the adopters who sounded so good on paper abused or abandoned a dog. Volunteering at a shelter, with dogs who you know are going to die, is probably way worse. (And yes, I’m planning on doing that after I get some other commitments knocked out. Because, well, because.)

Anyway, much as I miss Reba, I am very happy for her. It sounds like she is loved, which she more than deserves. And we get to eventually help another dog, which is an awesome thing.

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Vicious Pit Bull Kisses

The awesome husband and I went on a mini-vacation with my parents, and our friends were kind enough to house-sit for us. While we were away, I got the message, “Everything is okay, but I have an amusing story to tell you about Reba and a police officer. She made a new friend”

Dude wait what? So I had two or three days of picturing them getting pulled over for speeding and Reba crawling out the window to lick the cop’s face, or Reba and a police dog having an epic tug of war in the middle of Petco.

What actually happened was this. Alex was walking Reba, and she decided to nudge him in the back of the knee, knocking him over. (I find this kind of worrisome, to be honest, and we need to work with her on not pulling crap like that.)

Anyway, since he was on the ground, of course Reba decided he needed his face licked and proceeds to give him a million kisses.

So, a police officer driving by sees a guy on the ground, probably shielding his face, with a dog on top of him. When he gets close enough to realize that this is not a savage mauling but an over-exuberant goofball face-licking dog, he just stands there looking amused. Alex shoves Reba off, the officer says, “I take it this *isn’t* a dog attack.” and ends up petting Reba for a bit. She, of course, sucks up the attention, because in her mind, everyone should love the Reba.

Yep, that’s our girl, causing chaos and making friends wherever she goes.

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Tracey v. Solesky Petition

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently defined all “pit bulls” as “inherently dangerous” and declared that not only owners, but landlords who allow “pit bulls” on their property would be strictly liable if the dog injures someone. So, as predicted, this resulted in a flood of landlords telling people to get rid of their dogs or move out, and an influx of dogs into Maryland shelters.

There was a bill to address this during the special session, but the House added a ton of amendments that the Senate didn’t like, and it went nowhere. So, now every renter with a pit bull, or a dog that vaguely looks like a pit bull, is in a precarious position until January, the next session of the state House and Senate.

The good news is that the governor can, if he chooses, put the ruling on hold with an executive order. That’s where this petition comes in.

Maryland residents, please check this out and consider signing. There are tons of dog owners across the state who have to choose between their dogs and their homes because of this ruling.

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Channeling Crazy Dog Energy into Agility

Reba is, to put it mildly, easily excitable. And nothing gets her more worked up than having people over. She runs around the house in crazy circles, jumps, up, licks faces, and generally makes herself a giant pain in the posterior.

We’ve worked on this in a few different ways. We give her a time out in the bathroom when she’s getting in guests’ faces. We periodically take her outside to play fetch or tug or chase the flirt pole. Both of these seem to be very short-term solutions. She’s chill for a little bit, then ramps right back up again.

So, the new plan is to get her good and tired before people come over, as recommended by Jolanta Benal here, as well as making sure she has something to occupy herself rather than continuously begging for attention. A food-dispensing toy or a marrow bone would be a good choice.

Meanwhile, Matt discovered Instant Agility, which has plans for building agility elements out of PVC. He set up a quick jump in the backyard (a board on two concrete blocks) and taught her to jump it. Then, he hit the hardware store and built two of the PVC jumps.

He did the first bit of training on a day when we had a friend over for dinner. That little bit of agility work seemed to make Reba much calmer in the evening. Admittedly, it was only one person, not five, and only an evening, not an all-day thing. But it was still very encouraging.

I think that from now on, when we have guests, we need to not just tire Reba out beforehand, but work on teaching her something new, whether it be agility or random tricks. Basically try to get a good mix of both mental and physical exertion.

She definitely has a lot of fun going over jumps. The next build project will probably be either the ladder or the adjustable weave pole, both of which should not only be amusing, but also help develop some coordination.

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Fundraiser for Second Hope Rescue

Second Hope Rescue is sponsoring a golf tournament as a fundraiser. This will go towards the many costs of animal rescue (vetting, transport, food, etc. etc. etc.) There will be door prizes, as well as prizes in the tournament itself.

Date: September 27
Place: Wicomico Shores Golf Course (Mechanicsville, MD)
Cost: $80 by 9/12, $85 9/13 or after. (Burgers, hot dogs, soda, and beer are included.)

Come out for a fun day of golf for a good cause. We’re also looking for hole sponsors ($100 for a banner at the hole with your company name and logo) and donations of door prizes.

Second Hope Rescue Golf Flyer

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