Why do some dogs take a piece of our hearts?
Such as Zeke, a leash aggressive, separation anxiety ridden, jumping, abandoned, mixed breed of uncertain lineage. There is no logic to it that I can see. More and more I find myself saying, “Duncan used to do that”, about something Zeke has done.
Duncan was the love of my life. Of course for his first few years I referred to him as the sheltie from hell. He got into trouble frequently, often because of something he chewed up. The corners of the coffee table, the pull handle off the lawn mower, handles from a bicycle, drywall in the garage. He also charged at bicycles on walks, and had endless energy. But as the years went by and we worked together on all these issues, we developed the deepest of relationships. He even earned the title of TDIA (Therapy Dog International Active) for completing over 50 visits to nursing homes and care facilities. He attained this because it made me happy.
And now Zeke does some of the random things that Duncan used to do. He charges bicycles, he pulls me up hills on walks when I’m tired. He likes hanging out with daddy but lives for when I come home. Just like Duncan.
I do realize he’s not Duncan. But I do love Zeke dearly too. Perhaps, as time goes by and our relationship grows, I will be gifted with another Lifetime Dog.
What are signs of spring in our family? Lots of hikes! Here we were making our way down to the water at Towner’s Woods near Kent, Ohio.
Zekie, the former foster dog, enjoyed it as much as the rest of us. We discovered that he loves water. We walked down to the edge of the lake and he jumped right in. So did Cassius the greyhound.
The park was full of hikers and Zeke was good! He didn’t growl, bark, or lunge at anyone while I walked him. This is a first! I was so proud. And he seemed intent on paying attention and interacting with me. Let’s hope this was the first of many such peaceful walks.
Both of the girls, Shelby and Nikki, enjoyed their jobs visiting at the nursing home this week.
That’s why they have the big smiles.
Shelby knows when it’s important to be good. She will hold a sit-stay while I walk around putting all the chairs away at the end of our visit.
Nikki doesn’t like to touch the floor so this is no problem for her either. It’s not that Nikki is following a command, it’s that it’s not safe on the floor when you are tiny.
You might think the dogs are just getting petted, no big deal. It’s tiring work though. There’s the behaving, the going to whoever I direct them to, all the odd smells, and different people constantly coming and going through the main gathering room that we meet in.
However the rewards are great and the nap is well earned.
Zekie continues to fit into our family just fine. He and our other dogs are quite comfortable with each other. Here Zekie and Cassius give me “the look”. As in, how dare you go to work. Zeke is adjusting though. He doesn’t bother to get up anymore when I go. Daddy is still home so he doesn’t have to go in his crate.
Cassius was cold so I stopped to cover him up before I left. Spoiled much? I contend that if they appreciate it, it’s not spoiling!
We have had only two cats for about a year now. We used to always have more. They have both claimed my husband. I am catless. They don’t dislike me. They just treat me more like a roommate.
The little black and white guy is Morty aka Mortimer Kitten. Makes him sound like a Beatrix Potter character. He is tiny, about 8 lbs. He is a little chunky right now so his winter weight may be closer to 9 lbs. He is also 8 years old. He is a playful kitten who is shy around most people, except his daddy. It’s not so much that he’s afraid of people. It’s more that he has no use for them. He apparently finds them to be filthy since he washes furiously after anyone touches him. Morty finds me to be one step up from most people. I am to be tolerated.
We also have Orange Kitty. He is 3 years old and weighs in the neighborhood of 18-20 lbs. Although he dwarfs Morty, they are fast friends. They eat, sleep, and play together. Orange Kitty is tolerant of everyone, animals and people alike. If he has a choice he will hangout with daddy or Morty. He particularly likes to sit beside daddy in his armchair and watch tennis.
I’m not going to look for a cat for myself though. It’s only a matter of time before someone drops one off near our house. This happens every few years. Then we will have room to keep the next foundling.
I bought Zekie’s dog license today. He is on the books as mine!
This picture was taken back when he still had one fang. He broke the last one off on Valentines Day when we were away for five hours even though I had given him his Prozac and a Valium. I guess I will never be able to call him White Fang. That would require at least one fang.
I tried the Easy Walk harness on Zekie. It does help me have more control when he is lunging but it has had no effect on stopping the growling, barking and lunging at other walkers or joggers and cyclists.
On the last walk I tried a muzzle and also had limited success with changing his behavior. He does better walking with my husband. My husband can warn him ahead of time, “Zeke, be good.” And then Zeke will walk by people with only a slight growl under his breath. This is no answer for me though.
Next I will try going somewhere that we can see people walking from a distance. If he still reacts, we will have to move farther away until I can get him to sit and behave. Then I can give treats and praise. We will try moving closer on subsequent outings. And I will work on general obedience so Zeke will acknowledge me as being in charge, thereby lessening his need to threaten people.
I also purchased some morsels that have four different calming herbs in them. Hoping these will take the edge off. I have weaned Zeke off the Prozac. It didn’t seem to be helping much and he won’t be needing to transition to a new home so we didn’t see the point in keeping him on the meds. So no need to worry about herbal and prescription interactions.
Wish me luck, I think I’ll need it!
I have been teaching a Therapy Dog Training class for the past 6 weeks. It was geared towards getting dogs ready to test so they will be certified to visit nursing homes, hospitals, libraries, etc.
Last night was our final class so we briefly had our dogs don costumes. I’m not a big fan of putting costumes on dogs but the people we visit draw so much enjoyment from it. I think it is worth it to make our friends at the nursing home smile. I do tend to reserve this for our October visits to celebrate Halloween. For the final class, I wanted to teach how much laughter this can bring, and what a great thing it is to share with others.
Above is my dog Shelby being a movie star. Shelby is already a certified therapy dog so I use her as my training and testing dog. Shelby is proud to say that she goes to school and has a job. I was surprised but she actually walked around the class room smiling in this get up. Of course she is still on pain meds so that may have something to do with it. You can read about why she is on pain meds in my previous blog post. https://sanctuaryacres.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/a-trip-to-the-vet/
In class we also had Bella, a chihuahua mix, dressed as a sports fan.
And Greta, a possible Dane/Boxer mix, who came as a pirate.
Here Greta and Shelby greet each other. It was a fun time but alas, I will not be teaching this class again until fall.