Saturday, August 31, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday Bugsy

About 7 years ago I decided that we needed to choose a specific date to celebrate Bugsy's birthday, like shelter dogs everywhere, no one knows when he was born, or to who.  So I thought about it and decided to choose September 1st. September 1st was the birthdate of a colleague of mine's mother. She lived to 101 and was one of the most vibrant, tolerant, energetic, and positive thinking folks I have ever known. It was in the right time frame, so September 1st it is.
Sifting through my emails reminding me to get my senior pet checked, I shake my head and my heart says no!
My happy, crazy, overgrown idiot surely can't be a senior!
Science, however, disagrees. Recently I read a way to calculate his age based on his size and likely breed mix and he's 80+ in human years. I don't actually think Bugsy is going to emotionally age past 25 or so, meaning his older years are bound to be interesting.
He's had knee, elbow and shoulder repair. Cancer scares, horrific allergies and myriad other issues, none of which have changed his joie de vivre. 
This morning he looked right at me, grabbed a clump of dried grass that had fallen off the mower and taunted me, hoping I would chase him.
I just said "drop it" and boom! He was zooming, dodging and charging me, flying over shrubs, figure 8's around trees and playing hide and seek behind the cars.
I recall the days in which I was soooo frustrated when he would do this, now I laugh and smile and am ever so thankful that he can still run like this after what he's been through.
Back when he was barely out of puppyhood I started talking about The Daily Zoomie, here we are age 8 and he's still zooming.
From those early days of hardship in managing him; his energy and drive and intellect, to now when we expect it and appreciate it, and know I wouldn't want a dog without those qualities. 
Countless adventures, I bear physical scars from some, and joyous experiences, he is such a part of OUR lives I try not to think of when he won't be.
So happy birthday Bugsy, thank you for every laugh and every heart attack. 
Thanks for being so damn funny, and so kind (to people and dogs).
Thanks for loving me as much as I love you.
Thanks for teaching me to enjoy every walk, swim, car ride, yard wander, OK everything.
Thanks for showing me true focus and reminding me to live in the moment.
Thanks for being such a willing learner and being tolerant of my mistakes as a trainer.
Mostly, I hope we have plenty of GOOD years left, I selected this day as an omen for a long fun life for you.
You deserve only good times ahead! 
Love you bud!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My dog IS friendly

And I think that is a good thing.
Lately there have been several blog posts circulating, written by herding breed owners/enthusiasts, stating that sociable dogs are the scourge of the dog world. Of course what they really describe are obnoxious dogs - interestingly labs are singled out in all the posts as being the worst offenders. 
I think the part that really irritates me is that the stand-offish, resource guarding,reactive herding breeds supposedly demonstrate the ideal behavior. 
When describing the behavior of the 'ignorant' and 'foolish' Labradors they say it's like the person that's too in your face.  Hmm bring on the goofy sporting breeds please. 
Using the analogy with humans, I guess that makes the herding breeds the uppity, stand-offish bitch that looks down on everyone and flies into a rage when approached by the presumed lower classes.
Knew her in high school, and no thanks, not interesting in a dog like that.
I am ever so happy with my friendly dog. 
He doesn't hump other dogs or jump on them, he doesn't bark in their face, or bare teeth to try to claim the stick, ball, human or other item.
He will politely greet small, medium & large dogs. He loves puppies and knows to be careful with older dogs too.
He'll ignore the nasty behaviors and ask me to move on by turning away from the nasty herding breeds, or the small dogs with the Napoleon complex. He will ignore the idiot trying to hump him.
He will be non-plussed when your wonderful herding breed attempts to take a chunk out of his neck after the owner asks if he wants to play frisbee and he dares to join in.
Please give me a sea of wagging tails/nubs any day! 
Keep your paranoid, edgy, unsocial dog.
I love that my dog truly is friendly. 
And I don't mean obnoxious.
He's sociable and happy.
No matter how poorly behaved your dog is, he's not going to retaliate. 
I have no idea why the new rules for canines are that they shouldn't be approached by other canines and its reasonable to be reactive and guardy.
I suppose it's a reflection of a wave of paranoia and distrust in society. Where no one should politely say hi as you pass. 
For the record, some dogs will always be 'nervy' and unsocial and others obnoxiously boisterous - for those dogs a behaviorist or professional  is recommended.  
But let's keep some perspective here, a friendly, well-socialized dog is a very good thing.
Stand-offish, reactive and resource guarding are negative traits and behaviors, certainly not what should be held up as correct.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

His world has been turned inside out, topsy-turvey or whatever term you like

Yesterday I started a new position. It is a long way from home and the days are long.
The days are about to get longer and there won't be days where I am fully 'off' for quite some time.

I am not sure what vibes I sent out but somehow Bugsy was aware that things were about to change and radically so.

I tried to tell myself I was imagining it.

Then my husband told me that all of yesterday (my first day), Bugsy stayed under the dining room table and ran to grab a toy (never greet your human without a gift) if he *thought* he heard something.
Then when I came home, oh my.
He was out with Steve in the yard and when he saw me turn towards the drive he came galloping across the lawn.
It was like a sappy Hallmark movie where the star crossed lovers finally meet.

He was soooooooooooooo happy. Ridiculously happy. As if I had left him for months happy.

I was overwhelmed with emotion. I figured he would be happy to see me, but not THIS happy.

Whew. I had taken him for a pre-work walk and I also took him for a post-walk work. That seemed to settle him.

Day two

I woke up a bit before 5 and he rolled over on his bed asking for a belly rub. I obliged.
Then I put on walking clothing and headed downstairs to put some coffee on. I looked and saw he was at the back door with his tail wagging, "ready Ma!"
That's my morning dog for you - one day and he says the new routine rocks!

Then in a blur of motion I left. Steve was teaching today too so he left the same time.

Steve said when he got home. Bugsy didn't even get up. Nary a tail wag. And wasn't going out for nothing.
Eventually he got up and Steve fed him.

Then once again my boys were in the yard when I pulled up.
Oh Bugsy, everyone should just once feel so loved as you display for me.

After being wrangled and held by Steve, he charged towards me. Immediately bursting into zoomies which led to keep away with some cardboard.
We eventually made it inside and his little heart was bursting with joy.
Again I felt happy to see how happy he was to see ME but also felt badly.
Poor guy.
One can't explain to them, so I am doing what I can to keep our bond but change our outings and adventures as I can to fit them in.
He was ever so hopeful I'd take him on another walk tonight. I didn't.
I did try to do some of our wobble board work and let's just say that he took overexcited to a new level so we had to end that immediately while we both had all our limbs and digits intact.

I know he'll adjust and be calmer about my arrivals.
Part of me loves the outpouring but a larger and more responsible part of me hates to see him be so worked up.
My days are about to get longer and I wonder how long I'll be able to be out walking him at 5am and still working at 9pm.
I will guarantee you, that I have promised him I will do it for as long as I can and every day possible.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, its a bond that is forged through effort and commitment.

I promise you Bugsy, for as long as you live or I live, I will do all that I can. Promise.
And I am not known for breaking promises.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Maestro of Mischief

Why he wears the moniker Maestro of mischief.
He was out in the yard this morning, looking for creatures.
I watched him through the window for a while, then decided to get a fresh cup of coffee.
When I looked back out, no Bugsy.
I wandered around looking through different windows, no Bugsy.
Hmm. Ah well, he'll turn up.
He did, with an empty pasta box in his mouth, that he got from the garage where I had the doors opened about a foot to let some air in.
So my 29" at the shoulders dog slinked under the garage door that was open a foot, found the recycling pile, selected just the right box, crawled back under the garage door, came charging onto the deck and through the dog door with the box in his mouth, staring into our sunroom with trouble in his eyes and tail wagging furiously.
"let me in"
"No, drop the box"
wiggle wiggle waggle
paws the door
So dumb me opens the door and tries to take the box from his mouth.
Whoosh! he's past me.
"Bugsy give me the box"
wiggle wiggle waggle with a look that said "chase me, Mom!!"
"I am not going to chase you, let's trade"
His furry brow furrowed.
"Nope not giving you the box until the treat goes in the ball."
"Really dog???"
So off I went to collect his orbee ball and find a treat to put in it.
Once the ball was loaded to his satisfaction, he traded the box for the ball.
All was good for at least 2 minutes.