Guest Post: Rubbish Rage

The following article is a guest post written by my PH. I injured my ankle last week (more on that another time) and he has been helping out with evening dog-walking duties. As a result, he has recently encountered one of my biggest annoyances: litter in the park. Litter that our lovely dog views as her own personal buffet. This is his rant. You have been warned. (Photographs and italics are mine.)

I suppose I should begin with an introduction. Most of you will know me as the PH, but some of you will know me by other, often less flattering, names. For your entertainment pleasure today I bring you the first in a long line of  rants about dog-related things that really bug me. I was recruited for this for two reasons:

1-       My recurring rage against humanity and…

2-      Kristine is far too nice to rail against the things that bother her*, so I am the voice of both of us. (Note: Kristine does not necessarily endorse the views represented by her guest poster). 

With that in mind, let us establish a couple ground rules. When I rant I often cannot control the colour of the language used. Because of this, and the fact that this is contrary to the general feel of this blog, please refer to the following guide:

4 letter word that starts with F = will be replaced by the word pork

4 letter word that starts with S = will be replaced by the word piston

7 letter word that starts with A and ends in HOLE = will be replaced by the word fisherman

All variations of the above mentioned rules with be used (eg. porking, pistonhead, etc.)

With my variables defined, let us begin.

 

Scene: On leash human area

As you know, there is an on leash dog area in a little forest not far from our home that we often use for walking the Pupinator (I will refrain from further cute pet names from here on in, I just had to get that out). As a responsible dog owner, I rarely let her run free on the pathway. Rather I leave her on leash until we get to an isolated back section of the park. I do this out of courtesy for other dog owners who may be struggling with reactivity and for the locals who use this picturesque setting to engage in recreational fishing or strolling.

I like to fish myself, and love showing up to a lake or river when the sun is rising and the fog is lifting off the water’s surface. This is just slightly (cue sarcasm) ruined by the pile of porking trash left by the previous fisher. Just last night one stop in particular was riddled with two  full grocery bags of garbage, no less than five disposable drink cups, and various other piston that people leave behind.

Garbage is circled to make it easier to spot

Two points on this.

1-      Good on fishermen (remember the definition) who have the foresight to bring a bag for their inevitable waste. But my questions is: if you go through the trouble to bring a garbage bag to fill with waste, WHY THE PORK CAN YOU NOT TAKING YOUR PORKING BAG OF PORKING GARBAGE WITH YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE?

Such a pretty scene, too bad about the disgusting thing hanging off the tree

2-      What the pork is wrong with a fisherman who goes fishing, knowing full well (based on the last 80 times they went porking fishing) that they are going to generate waste, and do not bring a porking way of bringing it back out with them?

Garbage cans are handily placed at all three park exits for just this purpose.

Now that I have identified my issues with fishermen, I will get on with my glorious afterthought. On average the park by the lake to which I refer is even less frequented as the local off leash dog park. Despite this, the dog park is always in immaculate condition, free of litter and cared for by all who use it. Birdhouses are built, benches are donated, and plaques are hung in memory of beloved pets.

I think you are able to see where I am going with this, but indulge my righteous outrage. The muggles** of the world (or whatever it is that you call them in this dog blog scene) seem to have a hate-on for dogs and all their “wicked” and “unclean” ways. It seems to me that the real porking problem is the jack-fishers that cannot be bothered to even walk their porking garbage 30 porking metres to the garbage can. I do not know if this is a fundamental error in their wiring, but I am sure I can come up with something for a future rant.

Shiva is probably eating a Tim Horton's cup in this photo

So now we are left with two options on how to deal with the current situation. I will use number bullet points for this again because I like numbers and because I can.

1-      Make all green spaces in every city off leash, upon approval of local dog owners. This way the dog owners will take pride in something that is theirs and keep it clean. It will also allow them to impose rules upon fishermen that will either force them to conform or see them banned.

2-      Expand the definitions of “on leash” to include all fishermen. This will require them to be with a guardian at all times who will hopefully  shame them into complying with social norms and environmental common sense. If not, there are always shock collars.

Does your city have a similar littering problem?

*Really? Clearly someone doesn’t read this blog very often.

**Please excuse the gratuitous Harry Potter reference. At least, I think it’s Harry Potter – I could be thinking of something else. I haven’t read the books so I am fairly clueless on that scale.

A Humble Ramble

As Shiva and I are sneaking in some holiday-time this week, I am relying on the kindness of my fellow bloggers to fill in. Donna of the eponymous blog, Donna and the Dogs, agreed to write today’s post. Ever since I discovered her website a few months ago, I have been a huge fan of Donna’s writing. She came to positive-based training much the same way I did and she shares her experiences with great honesty. I was thrilled when she said she would write something for my site. Just having her name linked here adds a touch of class.

Kristine was nice enough to ask me to contribute a guest post to her blog, which I try to stop by regularly so I can read about her adventures with Shiva, her gorgeous (and oftentimes challenging) dog. Flattered that she thought I might have something of interest to share with all of you, I easily accepted, but then came the big question. What should I write about?

Hopeful, I asked Kristine if she had any topics in mind. Nope…it was up to me – as long as it included a dog.

You would think, with such a broad topic, it would be easy to come up with something to write about. After all, that’s pretty much what I do with my own
blog – I go on and on about the first thing that lodges itself into my skull. But…I wanted my guest post to be special, different from my daily blog, slanted so it fell in line with the “Rescued Insanity” theme.

But of course, I don’t own a dog named Shiva, none of my dogs are learning agility, my name’s not Kristine, and last I checked, we even live in different countries. So, for about a week, I thought and I thought, and I thought some more.

What in the world should I write about?

Growing desperate, I looked around my house to see what my dogs were up to, searching for inspiration, and right off the bat, two of them were missing.

Vanished without a trace – most likely hidden away in the bedroom.

I can’t really blame them. Meadow, the short coated Vizsla, prefers the warmth of our tiny bedroom over our drafty kitchen-living room combo, and Toby, the aging Labrador, prefers his soft cushiony dog bed over lying on a mat upon the hard tile floor.

But one dog, was there, right at my feet. One incredible, loyal, protective, lovable dog – my sweet senior, Leah. So I decided to write about her. But when I looked at her, I realized I had nothing to say. What can you say about a dog who is almost perfect? A dog who wants nothing more in life than to be able to lie at the feet of her favorite human. A dog who comes whenever she’s called, who’s never stolen so much as a morsel of food from the counter – and who’s even dropped a live squirrel from her mouth upon request.

None of which can be credited to me.

It’s just who she is – probably due to one or more of the breeds that make up her genetics. And to think that I almost didn’t choose her – for that very same reason. Yup – I admit it. I suffer from breed prejudice. Even as her exquisite eyes beckoned me to stop and consider her at the shelter, I nearly left Leah behind once I noted her markings and read the label hanging on her kennel door.

German Shepherd mix.

It wasn’t the mix part that worried me. You see, I grew up with Shepherds. They are amazingly obedient, patient, intelligent, affable dogs. Protective, but not to extreme. The ones I was raised with put up with more shenanigans from me as a kid than my mother would care to know. And, rather than biting me, (as they probably should have), they even allowed me to rest my tired head on their big furry bodies and use them as pillows while I watched television after I was done playing with (tormenting?) them.

Furthermore, after knowing each of the Shepherds my Mom has owned both past and present, along with several other great dogs I have met along the way during my forays into obedience school and dog sports, I can confidently say that German Shepherds are almost perfect dogs. (Disclaimer: When properly bred, socialized, trained, and exercised – as with any dog.)

So, you’re probably wondering why I nearly passed Leah by?

Did you notice where I said they were ‘almost’ perfect? That’s because I left out one horrific detail about German Shepherds.

They shed.

And they shed.

And they shed.

And they shed some more.

In fact, if it were up to me, they’d be called German ‘Shedder’ Dogs.

But, despite my fear of living with a vacuum cleaner attached to my hip, Leah snared me with her soulful brown eyes on that day nearly eight years ago, and she’s been at my side ever since. Since then, twice a year, (and every day in between), my faithful friend has proven that Rin Tin Tin’s blood flows freely through her veins, with every strand of fur that floats across my kitchen floor, and with every shake of her body that sends clouds of her coat into the air, making her resemble the peanuts character, Pig-Pen.

Do I regret adopting her?

Not ever.

Tricks ARE Treats

While Shiva and I bask in the cold November rain on our first official holiday, we have asked several bloggers to fill in for us with their own stories. At this point, Shiva is a little worried. Shiva, my loyal furry friend, thinks I will have my work cut out for me when I get back to work. Especially after today’s post, brought to you by That Jen K of Back Alley Soapbox fame. Not only is Jen a fellow Canadian, she also resides in my former home city of Calgary, Alberta. For that she has my deepest sympathy. Jen is a strong activist for animal welfare in Calgary and I wish I had known her when I lived there. If you are not already reading her blog, you are seriously missing out!

It’s no secret that many of us “dog bloggers” spend a lot of time off-line working on various skills with our canine companions.

Whether it is practicing something fun like agility weave poles and tubes, or something challenging like working towards loose-leashing walking with a reactive dog, we put a lot of time and effort into building skills and trust.

Heck, some of us even take it a step further and test out clicker training with the cat!

Unfortunately, it just happens to be the case that most of the general public doesn’t really see the point of some of the basic obedience skills like a 20 minute long-distance sit-stay.  Nor do many appreciate the accomplishment and all the hard work it takes to get there.

Moses’ strength: the plain ol’ boring sit-stay

Of course, sometimes, you can spruce up an old favourite for an immediate increase in public admiration and appeal.

The sit-stay, spruced up

 

But when it comes to showing off our dogs – and our relationships with them – tricks are the ultimate crowd-pleasers.

From shake-a-paw/high-five, to dancing, to catching treats tossed in their direction, everyone gets a kick out of dog tricks – and of course they’re a blast to teach!  And I’ve heard of some pretty cool dog tricks in my day.

But when it comes to teaching Moses tricks, we had trouble coming up with something unique and interesting.

I mean, he’s a pretty big guy, so speed and agility aren’t really his strongest suits.

But then it occurred to us – we have a Newfoundland.

And what is a very common Newf characteristic?

You guessed it: drool

In reality, drool isn’t just a characteristic.  It’s a hazard.

It is not uncommon for Moses to grab a drink in the kitchen, saunter into the living room, and shake his head free of the slobber.  It’s just like going to the Blue Man Group; those in the “splash zone” should be prepped with ponchos.

It was our desire to harness this phenomenon that helped us to come up with the ‘trick’ Moses does that makes us most proud.  We can use it when he gets
out of the water after a swim, or any other time we want attempt to pre-empt the inevitable soaking.

And how did we get there?  We discovered if you blow lightly into Moses’ face, the tickling causes Moses to shake his head and send drool flying.  So, using the simple premise of capturing the behavior and putting some verbal associations with it (easier said than done, but that’s the cliff notes version), we were able to come up with Moses’ “motorboat” signal.

And here is what that looks like:

And even though it might not be something super cute like rolling over and “playing dead”, we’re happy to say it’s both practical AND a crowd pleaser!

So now I’m curious: what are some of the most fun, challenging, or unique skills and tricks you have mastered with your pooch?  Or what goals to you have for new ones?

Many thanks to Kristine for offering me the opportunity to guest-blog!

Not the Dog You Want, But the Dog You Need

While I am give myself a mental break from work and the website, several of my fellow bloggers have generously agreed to take over my posting duties. Today’s blog was written by a fellow Canadian! Mother of three, the writer of The Dog Park blog somehow manages to stay anonymous. I’ve been reading her posts for a while now and I am always touched by her commitment to her dog and her family. Unfortunately, she doesn’t write nearly often enough for my liking. Knowing how busy she is collecting various degrees, I am grateful she took the time to share her perspective here.

When Kristine asked me to do a guest post, she said topic and length were up to me. I write better on assignment; I need a theme. As the blog is called “Rescued Insanity,” I decided to look there for ideas.

Kristine calls her blog “Rescued Insanity” for two reasons. Reason one, Shiva is both a rescue and insane (in a good way, of course). Reason two, owning a dog rescued Kristine from the insanity of boredom. In addition to twelve pairs of chewed shoes, owning Shiva has given Kristine some structure and goals: daily walks, blog posts, and of course, agility training. So the question is, has my dog rescued me from insanity?

As with Kristine, the answer is both yes and no.

First the “no.” Number one, while I love dogs, there are some breeds I like more than others. I like fluffy little things that can’t reach past your knees, give kisses, and fit in your lap with ease. German shepherds are far down the list. I subconsciously associate them with World War II prisoner-of-war camps, an association reinforced by their modern connection as police dogs. I don’t need a guard dog. I was never interested in owning a dog that looks intimidating or barks too loudly. Our Best Friend strikes out on both counts.

Number two, OBF is highly anxious. We have many friends who are terrified of dogs, and they no longer visit us because I can’t put OBF behind a closed door (say, in my bedroom) and leave him there. He goes mad barking and trying to dig his way out through the floor. I can’t leave him alone in the back yard on leash, either. He barks and howls until we come to rescue him.

With the anxiety comes number three: a high level of nervous energy. He barks hysterically and jumps at the door repeatedly the minute he realizes we’re going for a walk. During the walk, he pulls on the leash. Whenever we put him in the car he goes berserk barking until we get to wherever we’re going. And don’t ask about his prey drive. He walks looking up to find squirrels in the trees. If he sees one, he makes every attempt to scramble right up the trunk to get it. Cats aren’t safe from him either, and I love cats, so that annoys me.

So, in summary, I have an overly-large incredibly anxious German shepherd mix who barks too much, is difficult to walk, a pain to drive around, and chases anything that moves.

So why did we keep him? He was up on Petfinder for six months; I could have left him there longer, and by now I’d have my little white Maltese/bichon cross who would sleep quietly in a basket while we entertain, leaving no fur on the guests’ clothing because, unlike Our Best Friend, my ideal dog wouldn’t shed. Yet we still have him.

One reason we kept him, the silliest reason, was because he’s so beautiful. Yes, he is intimidating, especially for people who don’t care for dogs, but he’s no less beautiful for it. Instead of black and tan like a pure GSD, he is all shades of brown. He has an unbelievably gorgeous, wavy, plumy, Malamute tail. The Spouse tells people he’s going to cut it off and hang it on the wall. Even people who dislike dogs admit he’s a beauty.

Second, although he came with many issues, he also came fairly well trained. He sits. He stays. He doesn’t jump on people. He never, ever, goes in the garbage or counter-surfs. He only eats people food that falls on the floor. He’s easy to feed; I’ve never had him walk away from his bowl no matter what I put in it. He’s non-destructive and we don’t need to crate him. My Oldest taught him a few simple tricks, and he’s quick to learn (everything but the word “Quiet!”). He’s eager to please, even when he doesn’t understand how.

Loyalty-wise, he’s a true shepherd; we are his people, and he needs to be with us. When we first got him, he was fearful and aggressive. Now a dirty look from me makes him whimper rather than growl. He cuddles. In the absence of distractions like squirrels, he always comes when called. He patiently puts up with what he doesn’t love, like very small children who pull his tail, or being brushed or bathed (though he does cry in the bath). And as much as I hate the barking, I feel much better leaving three girls alone in the evening knowing that bark will make people of ill intent think twice.

Finally, Our Best Friend has brought me two things. One, he brought me back to writing, after decades of hiatus. I don’t write regularly, but I am writing, and it’s a start. Two, he brought me a new community of friends, both at the dog park and on-line. As a mother of three trying to juggle too many things, I don’t follow as many blogs as Kristine does, but those I do follow give me my daily smile, and often make me think. My outings to the neighbourhood dog park have filled my life with characters and stories that can, and do, fill many blog posts. There is no question that the dog park saves my sanity. It’s my outlet, my escape, my place to be when I want to be somewhere else. I wouldn’t have that without Our Best Friend.

He’s my partner during the long days with kids at school and the Spouse at work. He’s a hot water bottle on cold days when the furnace is off. He’s my unconditional love fix. He keeps me sane while simultaneously driving me crazy. He’s my dog, for better and worse. And he’s off Petfinder for good.

Nail Trimming Can Be Fun! (No Really, It Can. I Promise!)

Shiva and I are on holiday all week. Well, I am, Shiva still needs to work hard to earn her kibbles. Fortunately, some of our fellow bloggers have agreed to step in while I laze around drinking beer and eating cheese. Today’s post was written by Tena Parker of Success Just Clicks. She describes her blog as “tangents on dog training and life with dogs” but it is a whole lot more than that. Dog trainer extraordinaire, she combines helpful information with a wicked sense of fun. Her photos of her brilliant dogs Shayne and Rio are nothing short of stunning.

First of all, I want to thank Kristine for inviting me to do a guest  blog!  I was so humbled and quite excited – I’ve been a daily Rescued  Insanity reader for quite a while (since probably right after I started  blogging) and absolutely love her stuff!  Once I accepted her offer I  was suddenly hit with this mildly concerning thought….”What the heck  am I going to write about… should it be serious? should it be funny?  This is quite a lot of pressure writing for someone else!!”  I got over  it and decided to try a little bit of both.  I first want to  apologize to those who also read my blog since I sort of wrote on this  topic recently, but it lent itself to my serious/fun game plan so I went with it. PLUS it involves the making of a video.

“The Serious”

I’ve noticed a lot recently (since our weather has been extra rainy and  getting colder) that more and more of the dogs I see have nails that are overgrown.  Nail clipping really is an important part of dog  ownership.  Whether you do it yourself, take your dogs to a groomer, or  have your vet do it, it is something that needs to be done.  Extremely  overgrown nails can cause a variety of problems from sores on the paws  and actually growing into the foot, to even causing structural change in the foot (which in turn changes the gait, which in turn causes injuries to the wrist/elbow/shoulder like debilitating chronic arthritis if it’s an older dog).

It’s really easy to clip both of my dogs’  nails–mani/pedis happen probably every other week and both dogs are done in  less then 5 minutes.  Shayne, for all of her issues, came to me that  way… she’s never once had a problem with me clipping her nails but  I’ve also never clipped a quick or fought with her about her feet.  When I got Rio, the very first handling work we did was about feet touching  and ultimately nail clipping.  It wasn’t a super slow process but it  took some time on the final steps to get him to sit still long enough  for me to clip more than one foot at a time–it wasn’t stress/fear but  puppy wiggles.  He’s not happy about nail clipping but he tolerates it  without any fuss.  Bandit, my mom’s Shih Tzu, on the other hand, is a  pain.  He tolerates me clipping his nails most of the time but he has  given the groomer (our neighbor) such a hard time with his feet that I  just do them for her.  So I decided to teach him something that will  help keep his nails short without me having to clip them (more on this in a moment ).

So, what are you to do if your dog currently HATES  nail clipping?  Basically a lot of desensitization and counter  conditioning.  I would start at getting my dogs used to getting their  feet touched during normal cuddling/petting time. So while petting the  dog I would start petting my dog’s shoulder and then running my hand down the top part of the front leg and slowly going further down the leg  until I could run my hand all the way down to the feet.  If the dog is  extremely reluctant, even in the context of just being pet, you can use  food to reward each time you pet the shoulder/leg/feet.

I would  also start teaching the dog to shake and rewarding the dog for giving me their feet.  I may start hold the foot for a little longer before  rewarding and letting go.  Eventually I would like to squeeze the foot  gently and touch each toe like I would when clipping nails before rewarding.

When  the dog has no problem with me handling their feet, I would introduce  the clippers and just let the dog sniff them and get rewarded.  Next  step for me is to generally just have the clippers around when I’m  handling their feet.  If that doesn’t create any fear/stress response  I’ll start just holding the clippers in one hand while I pet the pup  with the the other.  Then I’ll start picking up the feet while holding  the clippers and eventually move to touching the clipper to the foot  quickly (and rewarding after each time the clipper comes near).  I  slowly then work up to mock clipping of nails while gently pinching the  toe to replicate the pressure of the nail clippers (rewarding after each nail) and if the dog is calm about all of that, I’ll start clipping one nail at a time.  Clip a nail, reward with food and release the dog.   I’ll do one a day for a while (being very careful not to clip a quick)  and then slowly increase the duration to two toes, then three, etc.

You can also go the route of a getting a Dremel nail grinder (and I’d  suggest desensitizing in a similar fashion) but I would only buy a  professional grade one.  The commercially available ones are okay for  up-keep but take quite a long while if the nails are long and break easily.

“The Fun”

One of my favorite tricks of the trade about nail clipping is that you can  teach your dog to file their own front nails!!  Just buy an inexpensive  skateboard and you are ready to go!  No fighting with your dog to get  their mani/pedi, no worry about clipping the quick, and it’s basically  fun to watch!  I couldn’t get clear shots of the before/after of Shayne  and Rio’s nails but with just a few scratches the nails were noticeably  shorter and nicely rounded–Bandit hasn’t really gotten into it and his scratches were much lighter but I could still feel/see a  difference!  Here’s a video of all three of my dogs learning to file  their own nails.

Now this is far from perfect for a variety of reasons… it doesn’t get the dew claws and it’s not effective for back feet.  BUT it’s a great  option if your dog, at this point, wont allow any type of nail clipping  or for quick and easy up-keep of the nails. When training this, make  sure you keep an eye on your dog’s nails so they don’t file down to the  quick and so their pads don’t get scratched!  I’ve also noticed that to  get the back-feet, two or three fetch throws on the driveway keep the  back nails under control without hurting the pads of their feet or  quicking their nails (drivey Shayne has been known to do some SERIOUS  damage to her feet while playing fetch while never showing a sign of pain  until later).

I recently heard that some groomers/vets are  charging upwards of $15 for a nail clipping… it depends on the dog,  but I’d say nails need done an average of once a month (my dogs, who do  most of their running on grass/mud, need it done more frequently).  If  you went once a month to a groomer charging $15, you’d save $180 a year on nail clipping for the  cost of a $10 skateboard.

How would YOU spend the $170 you’d save by not going to a groomer/vet?

Have fun teaching your pup to do their own manicures and THANK YOU Kristine for sharing her blog with me today!!!

Dogs + Baby = Serenity?

While Shiva and I are enjoy a long-anticipated vacation, some of our fellow bloggers kindly agreed to pinch-write for us. Heather Kalinowski is the proud mom to two fur-kids, an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson, and her baby boy, born in August. Heather spends her days writing about pets for Trupanion pet insurance and her nights playing fetch and cleaning spit up.

I considered myself a mom long before I had my baby boy. I was a mom to two fantastic dogs and they really were my ‘kids’. I took them everywhere, fed them well, bought them presents, took care of them when they were sick – you know, everything you do for your kids.

You would not believe how many people just expected, or encouraged, me to give up my dogs when I found out I was pregnant. Of course the idea to me was ludicrous, but to them it felt like I was endangering my baby by exposing him to my dogs. I received so many un-supportive comments and heard so many horror stories, that I retreated to the internet to try to find families who had positive experiences.

Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing? I found so many other new parents who felt the same way I did about my dogs and who made the transition seamlessly. I took any advice they could give to heart. We made sure to allow my dogs to sniff me during each stage of my pregnancy so they could understand the changes in their own way. We encouraged them to explore the baby’s room and all the new furniture when we got it set up. And we invited friends who had children over to expose the dogs to the new smells and sounds.

But what was most interesting to me was how the dogs started training themselves for the new arrival. My little dog, Ava, is my sweet lap dog. She was constantly attached to my hip. But as I got more and more
pregnant, she realized that things were changing and she started hanging out more with my husband, something she never did before. She would choose to cuddle up next to him on the couch since my lap was disappearing and there wasn’t as much room for her anymore. She would sleep on my husband’s side of the bed because my hormones were causing my body to overheat and I was too hot to cuddle next to anymore. It made me sad but I also knew it was best for our new situation.

When we brought our baby home I walked in first with a blanket the baby had been swaddled in at the hospital. I made sure to give them some attention and let them smell the blanket. Later, my husband walked in with the car seat. The dogs immediately ran up to the car seat to sniff it. My husband sat the car seat on the floor and we sat down with the dogs. We allowed them to sniff at the baby, but not touch him. And they did just that. They were curious, but with a few quick sniffs, they were satisfied and just wanted to celebrate the fact that we were home.

Since then, the dogs have continued to have interest in the baby, but never in an aggressive way. We always allow them to sniff him when we have him on our lap or are changing him on the floor. Because we have never made that big of deal out of their interactions with him, they have learned that it’s not a big deal and nothing to get worked up over. We know we’ll have to do another round of close supervision once the baby becomes mobile and starts being able to grab handfuls of fur… but we’ll take each new stage as it comes and continue toward our goal of a happy, well-adjusted family of five.

On Adopting an Older Dog

Since Shiva and I are on vacation all week, we have asked several of our fellow bloggers to fill in while we enjoy long naps on the sofa. After a crazy agility workshop on Sunday afternoon, we are feeling just that lazy. Today’s guest post is brought to you by the always-entertaining writer of Dog is God in Reverse. Human to four very different dogs, she offers a unique perspective on life and remaining sane. Quite frankly, I don’t know how she has survived all this time. I’d like to thank Kari for taking the time out of her insanely busy life to help us out!

We recently added a fourth, yes fourth, dog to our family. Having been a life-long Scooby Doo lover I just couldn’t say no when a friend told me about an 8 year old Great Dane at animal control. Breed rescue had been called but they said “No, she’s too old.” Her time was up, she had already been there for two weeks which is longer than most get. After some time spent convincing the husband (I travel for work every week so the dogs are mostly his responsibility) we made the decision.

 

I was immediately in a state of shock. Could I really do this? What if she dies right away? What if she is sick (even though the animal control exam found nothing) and it is something incurable? I didn’t have these fears with our other three dogs. Baily came to us as a pup from rescue, Mesa was 9 months old from animal control and Big Carl was 2 from rescue. The biggest question that lurked for me was “Can I let myself love her as much as I do the others, knowing that we have so little time together?” It sounds selfish but the life expectancy of a Great Dane is 7-10 years, and she was already 8. I told many people how I was setting myself up for heartbreak.

When I returned home on Thursday night from work, I was greeted by Tori and instantly fell head over heels in love. I took her to my vet and was given a clean bill of health. Over the past couple weeks she has really come out of her shell and I fall more in love each day. I know it won’t be easy and that the end will come too soon, but I have decided to open my heart and embrace what time I have with this goofy, attention loving pup.