Boyoboy, I can’t think of any time in my life I have felt LESS sensual. Life just isn’t like that these days. It seems to be more about regularity, eating right, hoping nothing breaks, and wondering if the retirement money will last as long as your life and what happens if it doesn’t?
I think that’s where dogs become more important. They are furry, fluffy, cozy, and snuggly. They are more than a best pal. They are the other “person” who remembers to kiss and hug you. Dogs love you and you can safely love them back. All they want is a biscuit and some playtime or a walk.
The longer I live, the rarer such behavior becomes. Someone who loves without wanting something back. Amazing, eh?
Two Scottish Terriers and a mutt of Asian extraction.
2. How long have you had your current pet(s)?
We’ve had Bonnie since she was 9 weeks old and she is now 11. After that, We’ve had Gibbs for two years and Duke for one year
3. What’s the longest period of time you’ve lived with a pet?
Bonnie wins that one. We got her when she was only 9 weeks old. And suddenly, she’s 11. How did that happen?
4. What type of animals do you generally gravitate towards when adopting pets?
At this point? Dogs.
For a long time, we didn’t live anywhere we could keep dogs, so we didn’t have them, but once we could, we got one, then another. And then some more.
5. What type of animal do you think is the easiest to care for as a pet?
Pets are not “easy” really. When they are healthy and happy and not old and cranky, they are all easy. But time does to dogs what it does to people.
They develop physical issues, including arthritis and cancer and because their lives are so short, it feels like no time passes between puppyhood and old age.
6. Do any of your pets have annoying habits that you can’t break them of?
Gibbs barks continuously when Owen is around the house. NO idea why because he doesn’t do that with anyone else. Duke tends to try to bully the Scotties.
They don’t like it and neither do I, but he has a passionate yearning to be top dog and he’s pushy. The Scotties are not pushy, so he gets away with it.
7. What, in your opinion, is the most difficult thing about being a pet owner?
Vet bills. And losing your dogs to age.
8. Do any of your animals have amusing traits that are particular to them?
All of them.
Bonnie is just adorable, stubborn, funny. Duke lived most of his life in a cage, but he has come a long way in a short time.
He’s quite the cuddler these days when The Duke doesn’t try to muscle him out of the way.
The Duke is totally wacko. Seriously nuts.
9. Which type of pet do you think requires the most care?
Fish, absolutely. Fish tanks always need care.
10. Was there a furbaby that you bonded with more closely than any other?
Griffin, our big boy PBGV was my favorite. He didn’t live nearly long enough.
But I love them all. He was just such a big heap of love and he made me laugh.
11. Do you spoil your pets? In what way?
Basically, they run the joint and let us live here and feed them. We are very good about that.
12. How do your pets react to strangers in the yard? at the door? in the house?
It depends on the stranger. Mostly, strangers don’t come into the yard. I have signs everywhere warning people away.
It’s not to protect them. It’s to protect the dogs from them.
13. Do you tend to anthropomorphize your animals? If so, how far do you take it? For example: Do you dress them in clothing?
Not so much as I’ve gotten older. I often wish I could get into their heads and understand them better.
14. Have you ever had what might be considered “unusual” or exotic pets?
We had a pair of ferrets, Bonnie and Clyde. They were adorable, but they weren’t our pets. They were our cat’s pets. He adopted them.
15. How old were you when you (or your family) adopted your first pet?
I grew up with Doberman Pinschers. I think we got the first one when I was four and they were there until I was a teenager. Then they got a German Shepherd, but by then, I was out of the house and living a separate life.
Garry and I both had cats when we met. He had two, I had one. Getting them to like each other was not easy, but neither of us was willing to give up a cat!
16. What’s the most trouble you can remember a pet getting into?
Bonnie was stolen, but the cops brought her home. Sirens and all.
18. What does your relationship with your furbaby mean to you?
They keep us sane. I swear I’d never survive life without them.
19. How do your pets react when you sing and/or dance?
We don’t dance and our singing seems to be mostly ignored.
20. Have you ever adopted a pet and found out you didn’t get along with them? What did you do?
Yes. We rehomed them to people who loved them.
21. Where do your pets sleep in relation to you? Do they have their own bed, or do you allow them to share yours?
Our pets own the living room and sleep on the sofas. My back is too twisted to share it with three dogs and in any case, the Scotties are too short-legged to get up on a bed without being in danger of getting hurt falling off.
22. How do you come up with names for your pets?
Garry picked Bonnie whose full name is Bonnie Annie Laurie if you please.
I picked Gibbs.
Garry picked The Duke.
23. Putting aside money and sanitary issues — If you could fill your house and property with animals, what type would they be?
Dogs. And maybe a donkey.
24. What was the most expensive pet you’ve ever adopted?
A Norwich terrier who turned out to be a horrible mistake. We rehomed her and she lived a GREAT life, but she was not a dog who got along with other animals. And she was dumb as a rock.
25. What, in your opinion, is the best thing about adopting animals into your home?
They remind you to keep living! Because you need them — and they need YOU.
I’ve had a lot of dogs — and I’ve learned a few things, mostly from the trainers with whom I’ve worked.
The most important thing I’ve learned about dogs is they can’t and don’t think like humans. We tend to anthropomorphize them and attribute motives to them of which they are incapable. For example, most people believe that dogs chew furniture or poop in the house when they are left alone because they are ‘getting back’ at their humans for leaving them. The problem with that theory is that it requires levels of conceptualization, insight, and understanding of cause and effect way beyond a dog’s capabilities.
First, they must have the self-awareness to know they are feeling angry at you, which they can’t and don’t have. Then they have to understand they can get ‘revenge’ (a human concept) if they make you mad or upset too. That is more than a two-year-old child can do, let alone a dog. Thirdly, they have to figure out, in the abstract, what behaviors they could perform to make you upset.
This is a more than a reasonable stretch for any dog.
The explanation for most negative dog behavior seems to be stress or anxiety. Different things cause stress in different dogs. Various dogs react to stress in unique ways. Chewing and making in the house are examples of anxiety-driven behaviors, as are excessive barking and hyperactivity. None of these are thought out revenge schemes.
My anxiety prone dog gets most anxious when other people come into the house.
Apparently, that’s because she thinks she has to ‘protect’ me, which means she is on duty when the doorbell rings. However, this skittish dog does not react to things that stress out many other dogs, like thunder, vacuum cleaners, packed suitcases or even a trip to the vet. She is the calmest, most relaxed dog my vet has ever seen in her office!
Another interesting fact I learned about dog psychology is that dogs are very Zen. They truly live in the moment. They can only think about what just happened for about 10 seconds. That’s why to train a dog you have to reward them the minute they do what you want them to. When housebreaking a dog, you have to praise them profusely while they are in the act of making, not even a minute later. If you rewarded your dog right after they made, they would think you were praising them for whatever they were doing at that exact moment, like sniffing a bush or wagging their tail.
This brings up a funny story about how my anxious girl, Lexi flummoxed the dog trainer.
It also points up how dogs can see things differently than even the dog trainer believes they could. When Lexi was on the sofa with me, she would often growl at our older dog when he came near the sofa. So we followed the trainer’s advice and told her ‘no’ immediately and threw her off the sofa. In most dogs, this would end the offensive behavior.
However Lexi continues to growl at her brother, but as soon as she does, she immediately jumps off the sofa and lies down on the floor. The trainer has never seen a case of self-punishment before. Her takeaway is logical though.
Thus “When you growl, you have to get off of the sofa,” is as valid a lesson to take from the situation as is just ‘stop growling’!
Think of your dog as a two-year-old child. You can’t expect the child or the dog to act or react like an adult/human or understand the world the way we do. You are the superior intellect in the relationship so you have to try and understand how your dog perceives and thinks.
Don’t get mad at your dog for ‘scheming’ against you and ‘purposely behaving badly to annoy you.’ His brain doesn’t work that way. Figure out what stressor is triggering his undesirable behavior and deal with the stressor or channel the dog’s anxiety in another way.
My house was neat enough if you didn’t look too closely. You could walk into it without falling over a pile of dirty clothing (that was all in the basement — another story entirely) and the dogs and cats were (usually) housebroken.
I couldn’t say the same for my toddler or my friends. Overall, the toddler was less of a threat to house and home than the friends, but when they got to messing around, anything could happen.
As my son grew, he developed (what a surprise) a passion for all kinds of creatures. Rabbits. Hamsters. Birds. We already had cats (many) and dogs.
We never properly owned more than two dogs but often had three or four. Two of them were ours. One was on loan from a friend who was in the army or on the road playing gigs. The fourth had belonged to a houseguest who had left but somehow forgotten to take their dog. Sometimes, it took us years to get the owner to come back and take the furkid too.
I love animals that aren’t insects, so while I frequently pointed out that it was NOT my dog and would they please come and get him or her, I would never throw them out. The owner I might toss out the door, but never the dog.
The year Owen turned eight, he decided he wanted geckos. They were the “in” things for 8-year-old boys that year. I pointed out that I didn’t think they would last long with the cats in the house.
He wanted the geckos. I was not much of a disciplinarian. If you argue with me, I’ll say no at least twice. After that? I usually give up.
As soon as we got the terrarium and the plants and finally settled the geckos into their home, Owen promptly lost interest in them and rediscovered his bicycle. That left me to care for the geckos, who would only eat mealworms.
I am not a big fan of worms. Any worms. I can tolerate earthworms because they are good for the soil, but overall, if it creeps or crawls, it’s not my thing. Did I mention that the geckos would only eat LIVE mealworms? I had to buy them in little cups at the pet store.
So mom dropped over and the cup of mealworms for the geckos had tipped over in the fridge. Which was now full of tiny worms. I assured her that my fridge does not usually contain worms and the worms were what the geckos ate. I don’t think she believed me. It was years before she would eat anything at my house. She always quietly inspected everything, in case there were a few worms there.
As for the geckos, a few days later, the cats figured out how to open the terrarium and there were no more geckos. And thankfully, no more mealworms.
You could never tell with those furry furies. Who was the doer and who was the do-ee? From 2015, it’s “Dogs Gone Bad” by Garry Armstrong.
Marilyn and I follow lots of those TV procedural crime shows. We anticipate all the cliché lines.
“Stay in the car”
“He was turning his life around.”
“Everyone loved him.”
“No one was supposed to get hurt!”
We usually figure out who the “vics” and “perps” are before the coppers and lawyers find the answer, often before the credits finish rolling. Now, fiction has turned to cold, hard reality in our home. We are the victims. Not the mob, not the cabal, not even some local mokes looking for an easy score.
It’s an inside job and the perps are our DOGS!
They’ll smile, offer constant affection and cheer us up when we aren’t feeling good. But it’s part of their sting.
Food is the motive. Their “jackets” are full of priors. Most are misdemeanors but now they’ve moved up the chain to a felony. Bonnie, our beloved Scottie, is the boss. She leads the furry gang in snatches, intimidation, assault (head butting), larceny and perjury.
We’ve tried to turn their lives around with extra Christmas goodies, more fun battles on the love seat and long chats to emphasize our affection.
But Bonnie and her accomplices are food-driven. Nothing we do can stop this furry reign of terror. We don’t want to profile Bonnie because she is black, and we are afraid of possible lawsuits. Perhaps the IA people can check out her background.
Bonnie, clearly driven to revenge, is hell-bent on retribution because … we’ve put her on a diet. Bonnie is relentless in stealing Marilyn’s food. She stalks Marilyn and refuses to back down when confronted. The other dogs make sure Bonnie’s six is protected.
We’ve tried so hard to show them the path to a good life but their crimes are senseless.
Our three dogs think they have the whole subliminal thing down pat. Like last night.
Thunder was rolling through the valley. Not very loud thunder, but definitely thunder. Rolling. It might mean rain … or just the heat of the day breaking up. Our dogs are not particularly nervous about noise. Guns, fire-crackers, thunder? Meh. Only when lightning actually hits the house does everyone — human and otherwise — react.
It’s hard to not react when a bolt of lightning hits the house or relatively nearby. It hit a pole in front of the house and burned out two computers — and they weren’t even turned on. It hit the pump in our well — 450 feet (that would be almost 138 meters) underground.
I thought that was really weird, but the guy from the insurance company was unphased. He said the combination of electric current, iron, and water had a way of enticing lightning. Not so unusual after all.
I was really unbelievably grateful we had insurance!
Meanwhile, our dogs have figured out when there’s a storm, we check on them, just to make sure they aren’t getting weird. I don’t think they have any idea why we check on them, but they know it’s something about storms, so as the thunder roared across the valley, they poked their three little noses into the bedroom.
Bonnie was first because she’s the dominant canine. Also, she knows Garry will let her do anything.
“Hi there,” she said, waving a furry black paw.
Gibbs’ nose appeared next. “Hi Mom, Dad. How’re things hanging with youse guys?”
Of course, The Duke was grinning up at us. Panting a little bit and using one of his front paws to point to the kitchen. Where the food is. Because nothing makes a dog less apprehensive about rolling thunder than a quick snack.
They were so cute that I got up and gave them one of the little treats.
We have treats in three sizes. Small, which isn’t small unless your dog is a Wolfhound or St. Bernard. Pretty small, which is maybe the size of the upper joint of your thumb. And teeny, tiny … maybe the size of my littlest fingernail. That’s the one I give them when they are looking particularly beefy. They are all permanently on a diet, too.
But since they’d gotten me up and into the kitchen once, they were sure they had it nailed. As I was getting back into bed I heard the little “scratch, scratch” on the door. This is a big improvement over Bonnie and Duke’s previous method which was to fling themselves — TOGETHER — against the door.
Our interior door are not all that sturdy and this usually meant an explosion of dogs into the bedroom. That did not go over well with me. Garry, of course, slept through it. Will he sleep through it after he can hear? Because having your dogs break down your door is pretty damned loud, deaf or not. Even if you can’t hear it, you can certainly FEEL it.
We discussed the whole “breaking down the door” thing. I explained that if they didn’t cut it out, I was going to put all of them into crates. They didn’t like that idea.
So now, it’s a gentle scratch and if I didn’t fully close the door, a little push and a few noses in the doorway.
That is our dogs’ version of subliminal. Really subtle. Below the level of our inferior human understanding.
Duke is smart. Too smart for his own good and not as smart as he thinks — and seems to feel we need clear instructions about how to do what we ought to do. Since he can’t type, he points. With paws and nose and sometimes, entire body.
They all lick their jowls, just in case we aren’t clear that what they are hoping for is food.
After I told them to cut it out and settle down, they did. But don’t imagine for a moment that they’ve given up. All the subtle hints — like pushing the 40-pound crate of food into the living room, for example — will continue. I suppose we could try to discipline our dogs. Make them “obey” us. But I’ve never really had an obedient dog.
They all do pretty much whatever they want, even when they know better. I don’t really mind because they are much more fun “au naturale.”
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