IN MEMORIAM – Tyler Died

Tyler – my constant companion, full of playfulness Painfully Missed.

Around 2005 to Tuesday June 20, 2017 around 5 p.m.

He was my bodyguard. He was my forever friend. And he loved everyone he met. He was beautiful in body and spirit. But now he’s gone and I’m devastated.

Tyler and I met in August 2006, one day after my last dog died of old age. He was locked in a cage at the local animal shelter next to about 8 other large dogs that were barking their heads off. Only Tyler was silent, leaning back against the cage, looking up at me and ‘smiling’, happy to see me.

He was bigger than any dog I’d had before, plus he was part Shepherd, so I wasn’t sure of his temperament. We spent four hours together outside behind the shelter where I tried to get acquainted with him, but he wasn’t interested. He was just glad to be outside and anxious to find out what was in the next field.

Eventually, I determined that we weren’t going to get anywhere, so I said, “I think I can work with you.” Thirty minutes later, we were in the car heading home.

To my surprise, he turned out to have basic obedience training, which meant I didn’t have to worry about house training, sit, stay, although he did need a bit more work on ‘stay’, as he was a very determined and independent fellow.

Tyler loved his long walks down the block and into the forest where his nose could delight in all the smells and track other dogs that had gone before. He loved rides in the car because even though some were to the vet, he liked the vet and staff, and they loved him. He was so sweet, patient and a willing patient, seldom struggling, never biting. Our other trips meant walks in new forests or along riverbanks he’d never seen before.

He had free reign of the house, yet he preferred to stay beside me. He particularly liked hogging half of the bed while we slept – probably hoping to push me right out onto the floor.

One of his favorite activities was to play with his Chuckee ball. He managed to destroy about 8 of them over time, he was such an efficient chewer. Good thing, because it sure kept his teeth white and strong into old age. He also loved to stare. Always watching me and staring, he was so confident. You could stare back at him for several minutes, but he wouldn’t look away. Until he got bored.

In the past two years or so, he suffered a lot of pain from arthritis in his back, so the vet says. Then one day, his right rear leg became useless. The vet thought he had a serious neurological problem but it turned out to be a possible slipped disc, because two weeks later, he started using it again. We were encouraged.

During the last two weeks, he struggled to make his way up the street 5 to 15 houses. And then, the worst happened. His right rear leg went again, and shortly after, so did his left rear leg. He could barely turn himself over on his bed, only swivel and then give up. He had no use of his back legs, so I helped him out to relieve himself using a special sling. That same day, I called the vet about a possible injection that might remedy his paralysis.

We went through his usual morning routine, I fed him on his bed, and then we went out to the car and to the vet. When we arrived, the vet did a thorough check of his body and said that the injection probably wouldn’t help him, but we could try. But Tyler had looked at me a few days prior, somewhat teary-eyed as if he knew the end was here and that we would have to part.

I knew it too, but didn’t want to give up. I loved him… and still do. It was just too painful to think of life without him. But I realized he couldn’t go on. He couldn’t even raise his body as he lay on the floor at the vet. I gave the vet the go-ahead. Shortly after, he slowly slipped away peacefully.

It was one of the most horrendous experiences of my life. The images of his last hours haunt me daily. My house is full of dead space, and it’s too painful. I have his ashes, ready to be buried with me when I go, along with the ashes of my previous two dogs, Cindy and Kobe.

So now I wait, and wonder, and just don’t care about anything. It’s sure to pass eventually, as it did with Nikki, my first pet loss some 20+ years ago. In the meantime, I’m searching for another dog but it’s tough because all I can think about his getting Tyler back.

In one of my posts, I wrote that euthanasia isn’t as bad as it sounds. True, the actual peaceful passing that this method provides is somewhat comforting. But the pain of loss is unbearable.

Goodbye Tyler! I love you. And hope we meet again.

Posted in Dog Care | Leave a comment

Should you trust this face?

How easy it is to fall victim for those innocent eyes, the cute pose, the soft texture of the Pekingese.  You believe you can trust him and you turn your back. It only takes a second.

Poised to steal

My sister had a Pekingese that was pretty much given the run of the house.  She seemed hesitant to train or correct him because he had a rather nasty snarl that he frequently displayed.

One day while on an extended camping trip, we were settling in to eat dinner. We were in a tent trailer, which meant the table was level with one of the bunks. Since there’s little floor space for a dog, he spent most of his time on that bunk, watching and drooling as the food was laid out.

He didn’t seem to bother with their meals, so I thought, “Oh, that’s good. He’s not bothering them for food.”

They finished eating and settled back with their coffee while I finished preparing my spaghetti dinner. The dog lay down on the bunk, relaxing as my sister began cleaning her dishes. Feeling a little hesitant about eating with the dog practically sitting on the table,  I put the plate on the opposite side. Realizing I’d forgotten something, I got up and went to the stove. A matter of seconds later, I turned around and there he was, brave as ever, standing on the table, his face deeply immersed in my food.

It made me wonder why she didn’t train him better.

My American Eskimo and several other of my dogs were quite trustworthy. I’d become so confident in their obedience that one day I placed a plate with food on a low table and walked away. When I returned, the dog was well away from the food. He didn’t even care that it was at eye-level and an easy grab. I was so proud of him.

If your dog steals, read this blog post:

http://dogtalkweekly.com/dogblog/dog-training-problems-why-dogs-steal

Posted in Problem Behaviors | 3 Comments

Dog Obsessive Behavior – What Can You Do?

When dogs exhibit obsessive behavior, you can be sure there’s a good reason. Most often, it relates to a conflict between the dog’s current living conditions and its inherited traits. The bigger the gap between them, the more likely your dog will participate in obsessive actions.

You could almost state it as simply as “the dog is bored”.

Imagine if you are a person who was born to experience an active lifestyle. Suddenly, you’re put into an environment that limited that activity. You will go through a few stages, from being anxious to accepting your fate to boredom. Boredom brings other activities. For humans, that often is over-eating or obsessively playing video games.

Dogs follow a similar path when what they were bred to do never materializes.

This is when you will see problem behaviors, such as scratching, being destructive, obsessive licking and biting that causes skin lesions and sores.

Now imagine this.

By inviting the dog into your “humanized” home, you have removed his need to hunt. You have removed his romantic instincts by having him neutered. You are depriving him of his pack interests and competition. He can’t even solve his own problems, because you’ve taken care of everything for him.

In exchange for all your “kindness”, he channels his energies in unacceptable ways.

Joggers and cyclists are perfect prey to satisfy his hunting instincts. Dogs with high prey drive need predatory outlets. You can do that by involving him in planned events that require him to use those predatory instincts. Seek and find is a great game.

You must find ways to stimulate your dog’s mental abilities on a regular basis. Teach him new tricks. Give him the opportunity to mingle with his own kind, like at the dog park.

If this doesn’t resolve any obsessive dog behavior, ask your veterinarian as it could be several other things, depending on the behavior. Snapping at imaginary flies could indicate a mental disease like seizures. Perpetual licking and biting his own body can indicate allergies. Or it could simply be a coping strategy resulting from deprivation.

In any event, your first goal is to find ways to optimize your dog’s lifestyle.

Posted in Problem Behaviors | Tagged | 1 Comment

Would This Happen If Your Dog Escaped?

Past experience with my dogs has shown me that if my dog escaped, he would not return. He’d continue on his merry way, oblivious to the traffic dangers, regardless of my calling him.

Well, I got a pleasant surprise just now. Tyler escaped. Again. No, that wasn’t the surprise.

Previously, a service man left the gate open. After that, Tyler simply jumped over the rear fence a few times. So, I built that fence higher so he couldn’t get into the side yard. Unfortunately, one of my tenants thought it was “cute” to entice Tyler to climb over the old gate that remains.

That’s all he needed. Thanks to that tenant, he discovered how easy it is to get over the chain link fence and into the other part of the side yard. Which is not a problem… as long as tenants and service people close the second gate.

With two fences to scale, I figured Tyler would give up after the first one, even though the front fence is only 4-feet high, an easy leap for him. Generally, this is true.

So about 15 minutes ago, he had a strong urge to fight his way over the back gate, pushing aside the temporary blockade I slotted above it to keep him in. I saw him make the attempt, but then give up. I thought he was safe and that he wouldn’t try again.

Wrong.

A few minutes later I went to check the front gate and it was wide open. I stepped outside to close it, looked back at the rear gate, and the barrier had been moved far to the left, leaving a gaping hole on the right. Tyler was gone.

“Crap!” I said, and called out, “Tyler!”.

At that moment, I spotted him across the road, sniffing around my neighbor’s house. Tyler has become infatuated with their female husky. I can only assume that he became excited enough to scale the gate when he smelled her scent on the breeze, or maybe the presence of another male.

Needless to say, I panicked. I could hear a car coming up the road and knew that there was a huge chance he’d get hit if he tried to cross back. Traffic frequently speeds on my street, which is supposed to be 40 km/hr.  You’d never know it.

I stepped through the gate and noticed a small pick-up truck on the other side. If Tyler ran out from behind it, he surely would get hit. I heard another car and was ready to freak out when Tyler tore around the back of my car on his way towards me.

My first instinct was to make some comment about his leaving the yard. I know I’m not supposed to scold him when he does the right thing (even when it’s right after doing a bad thing). He immediately crouched down, tail between his legs as he approached me. I changed my voice to a kinder one and ordered him into the yard.

Once inside, he knew he’d done something wrong, but I also knew I should praise him for actually coming back on command, something I had not expected.

Of course, as soon as I said, “Good boy!”, he got excited and happy, and tore off into the back yard.

It’s difficult to keep your cool when your dog is in danger from something he did wrong. But it’s important to let it go and show your dog that he was good to come back home.

Guess what I’ll be doing as soon as the weather warms up a bit more. Yep. You guessed it. Building the gate to match the 6-foot fence I built last year. It’ll be a huge relief when it’s done, knowing he’ll have a tough(er) time escaping.

Posted in Admin Updates | Leave a comment

How To Take Care Of A Dog’s Special Needs

It’s important to know how to take care of a dog that has medical issues that lie outside the realm of general health. Perhaps you are unaware that there are veterinary specialists who can address specific issues.

Since these specialists can be costly, it’s important to know when it is necessary to consult one.

Your veterinarian will refer you to such a specialist when your dog needs special diagnostic tests such as an MRI scan, radiation therapy or surgery such as cataract removal and dental care.

There are specialists who are invaluable in diagnosing and treating severe conditions, such as epilepsy, persistent skin conditions, and when your dog is facing a life-threatening illness or perpetual health problem.

Your regular vet will do whatever possible to treat your dog, but if you are not satisfied with the results or diagnosis, you might want to consider asking for a referral to a veterinary specialist.

This is a perfectly acceptable when you want to take care of a dog that is seemingly unresponsive to treatment.

What you want to avoid is vet-hopping when you are not satisfied. Seeing a specialist is not the same thing. Vet-hopping means that you will be facing increasingly expensive treatment because each vet will start from the beginning. This can start from a complete physical and then be broken down into resolving the immediate problem. In other words, you are paying over and over for some of the treatment.

It’s best to stick with a vet that you trust and just ask for a referral to a specialist for this one condition.

If you do choose to find another vet, ask for your dog’s medical records so that you can avoid duplicated some of the procedures.

Since these specialists can be costly, it’s important to know when it is necessary to consult one.

Your veterinarian will refer you to such a specialist when your dog needs special diagnostic tests such as an MRI scan, radiation therapy or surgery such as cataract removal and dental care.

There are specialists who are invaluable in diagnosing and treating severe conditions, such as epilepsy, persistent skin conditions, and when your dog is facing a life-threatening illness or perpetual health problem.

Your regular vet will do whatever possible to treat your dog, but if you are not satisfied with the results or diagnosis, you might want to consider asking for a referral to a veterinary specialist.

This is a perfectly acceptable when you want to take care of a dog that is seemingly unresponsive to treatment.

What you want to avoid is vet-hopping when you are not satisfied. Seeing a specialist is not the same thing. Vet-hopping means that you will be facing increasingly expensive treatment because each vet will start from the beginning. This can start from a complete physical and then be broken down into resolving the immediate problem. In other words, you are paying over and over for some of the treatment.

It’s best to stick with a vet that you trust and just ask for a referral to a specialist for this one condition.

If you do choose to find another vet, ask for your dog’s medical records so that you can avoid duplicating some of the procedures.

Posted in Dog Care | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Dog Euthanasia Is Not As Bad As You Might Think

Dog euthanasia is difficult for any pet owner to endure. You’ve spent all those great times together, bonded, and suddenly you see it coming to an abrupt end. Of course you are sad and upset.

> Get my report on dealing with euthanasia, surviving the funeral, celebrating your dog’s life, building a memorial, ideas for immortalizing your dog, and much more.<

When my first dog Nikki had to be put down, I couldn’t do it. My partner did it for me. I couldn’t even be there because it would have been far too painful. I’d spent 16+ great years with him. I didn’t ever want it to end. But here we were, facing the end of his life and I couldn’t be there for him.

This made it all the more painful for me today, because he was always there for me, through my divorce, mental distress and job loss – and a whole lot more. He was my child. Our bond was strong. After his death, I couldn’t get the vision out of my mind – even today. My partner had lifted him off the floor and as he carried him to the door for the last time, Nikki looked at me, I’d swear knowingly.

It’s a look I’ll never forget. Neither will I forget the pain of that time.

Dog euthanasia is a good thing, despite your pain

About 15 years later, when my next dog Cindy developed cancer and was extremely weak, it was obvious she wasn’t going to make it. As I transported her between the vet, the hospital and back to the vet over a few days, I knew. Moments after we got back to the vet and put her on the table, she began to fade. Her eyes were rolling up into her head.

The vet said she was going to give Cindy something so that she would be “more comfortable”. I immediately asked what, and that’s when she told me that she would put her to sleep. Of course I cried as I petted Cindy and assured her she would be okay, everything will be fine, just relax. I don’t know if she was aware of me or what I was saying. She just lay there.

The vet gave her the shot and seconds later, Cindy’s eyes glazed over. It was that fast.

But it was very peaceful. I had expected something horrible to happen to her as her body began to shut down… but it didn’t. She simply went to sleep. It was so easy that I couldn’t even tell she had passed. The vet assured me that she was gone.

A year later, it was Kobe’s turn. He was in severe distress because his organs were shutting down due to kidney failure. Well, he was 15, so he was reaching the end of his life, too.

When I saw how much he was panting and struggling to survive, I knew it was time. He lay on the floor of the cage. I sat on a cushion beside him and stroked him, calmly telling him to relax, it’s okay. Good boy, Kobe. He seemed to understand and in that moment, our complicated relationship changed to one of support and compassion. When he looked at me, it was as if he were letting me know that he understood.

The vet said we should let him go, because he was struggling and there really was no hope. I nodded in agreement.  While waiting for her to return with the shot, I continued to pet Kobe. My respect for him changed drastically.

When she gave him the shot, like Cindy he just calmly stopped panting and rested his head on the blanket and quietly fell asleep. The vet listened for a few moments and is was merely seconds later, she confirmed that he was gone.

Now that I’ve experienced this twice, I only wish I’d been there for Nikki.

Dog euthanasia is not a horrible as you might think. It’s a very peaceful event. And if you watch the dog’s expression, you will see that he or she is finally at rest, free of the pain, anxiety and distress of disease.

It’s a matter of putting it into perspective. Your dog does not suffer. In fact, it will ease suffering when used to alleviate the distress of a sick and dying dog.

The important thing is to think not about yourself, but about your dog. Will he or she be better off? Will the pain and suffering stop? Will your dog be at peace, finally?

You will grieve, but knowing that your dog is in a better place and that you provided an easy way for him to get there will make the loss less painful for you.

Don’t Wait until the end to plan for it. Start now. Here’s how.

I’ve just published a report on this very issue. It gives you advice on telling your children about your plans for your dog. It also provides you with lots of ideas for celebrating his or her life, building a memorial, sharing with your dog’s friends. You can read more about it by clicking here! If you love your dog, you’ll want to start collecting memories now. The report gives ideas on how you can do that.

Posted in Dog Care | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Is My Dog Sick? These Symptoms Can Indicate Serious Diseases

You would think that if someone has to ask, “Is my dog sick?” that there’s probably something to be concerned about. Fortunately, that’s not always the case. There are many mild conditions that can cause such symptoms as itching and scratching and vomiting.

For instance, dogs sniff the ground, they wander into tall grass, the swallow unsavory items. In response, they get runny noses, parasites and runny noses. These symptoms can be serious if they persist or are severe. If you think your dog is suffering from these mild but persistent symptoms, don’t take any changes. Take him to the vet.

These dog sickness symptoms can indicate serious illness.

If you have any suspicions whatsoever, take your dog to the vet. Nothing can replace his valuable expertise in these matters.

Frequent loose stool, sometimes bloody, or constipation

There’s little doubt that your dog is probably suffering from some sort of bowel disorder. It could be something he ate, but it also could be caused by parasites, an intestinal blockage or internal disease.

Limping

So many things can cause this, from a pulled muscle, a small fracture, joint dislocation or some other injury. The problem might not be where you think it is. Check all areas that make sense, such as the feet, the legs, the hips, the knees and the elbows. You are looking to see any visible signs of injury, such as splinters, cuts and sores.

If you find nothing, watch your dog over the next day or two to see if the limping includes abnormal movements. Your dog could have arthritis, but if other symptoms are present such as vomiting, it could indicate renal disorder, especially in older dogs.

Whiteness in the eyes

This could indicate corneal opacity that can occur in diseases like trypanasomosis. When the dog becomes anemic, the mucous membrane of the eyes becomes paler and in severe cases, this may have wall white color.

Unusual biting

If the dog bites his chain, the owners or other people and pets, look for behavior disorders. Rabies needs to be ruled out.

When severe or persistent, these are the signs of a sick dog.

Posted in Dog Health | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Your Dog Training Methods Aren’t Working

Do you really want to know why your dog training methods aren’t working? Most owners don’t think they are doing anything wrong, yet they aren’t getting the results they expect. Rather than checking their methods, they blame the dog.

  • “He’s just stubborn.”
  • “He refuses to do as I say.”
  • “She’s just being bad.”
  • “She isn’t listening to me.”

These are all directed at the dog’s behavior. This is your first mistake.

Dog training depends a great deal of the relationship you have with your dog. If he or she has not yet learned to trust you, your training will be ineffective. Or at best, you might achieve some basic commands, but don’t expect to go beyond that.

What should you do when your dog training methods don’t seem to be working?

  1. Make sure you are giving each method sufficient time to work.
  2. Make sure you are giving the commands the same way every time.
  3. Make certain everyone in your family is following the same methods.

When you can check all of those off, take a look at the particular exercise. Is there another way to do it that might be more agreeable with your dog? Or perhaps that he might better understand?

Dogs are like people – they all learn in their own way. You can’t use ne teaching method on one person and expect it to work for everyone. The same rule applies in dog training.

If you don’t know any other way to train your dog than what you learned way back when, look into some of the great dog training methods that are offered by experts.

Remember, it’s not your dog. You just need to switch your dog training techniques.

Is your dog misbehaving? Take a look at this resource:

5 Step-by-step Exercises to Totally Calm Your Dog

Posted in Dog Training | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Good Dog Training Respects A Dog’s Internal Calendar

Dogs are not unlike children in several ways, especially when it comes to stages of life. They experience pre-adolescence (9-13 months), Adolescence (13-24 months) and of course, they go through the toddler stage.

Good dog training should take this into account. Consider your dog’s age and where he sits on this scale, keeping mind that he could have two paws in one and two paws in another at some point.

Why is this important?

Just like people, dogs experience mental growth as well. How they turn out (both people and dogs) is affected by their upbringing. Perhaps you are aware of the rebellious teen or the unruly toddler. Part of the problem might well be related to how they were treated early on.

Here’s a breakdown of the different age ranges and what your dog will go through:

  • (0-49 days) Birth to 7 weeks
  • (7-12 weeks) Socialization period
  • (8-11 weeks) Fear imprint period
  • (12-16 weeks) Status in the pack
  • (4-8 months) Flight instinct period
  • (6-14 months) Second fear imprint period
  • (1-4 years) Maturity

Between 9 and 24 months, your dog should receive most of his formal training. The speed at which your dog learns will differ based on several factors, including the size and breed as well as his temperament and personality. Every dog should be considered an individual, just as every person is unique.

Some just learn faster than others. It’s the way nature is.

It’s interesting to note that erratic behavior is common, especially in the teen dog. Once again, emulating humans. One day he might run away or refuse to come when called, even though he has been trained. The next day, he can hover around you (his mother or father) like a timid child. Something as simple as passing a falling dumpster on the street can trigger fear in a 10-month-old dog.

This is not unusual at this age but be careful not to pamper him or he will believe he has something to fear. Stay calm yourself and encourage him along. Praise him when he does so. Pass the object several times until he can do so calmly. You want to get him over his fear while it is fresh in his mind.

So you see, good dog training isn’t really all that difficult, but you will need to be alert to your individual dog’s shortcomings and strengths.

Posted in Dog Training | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dog Training Equipment: When The Buckle Collar Is Not Effective

You chose the basic dog training equipment to get started with your new dog. After a few weeks, you begin to think you made a wrong choice. Your dog is not responding as well as you would like. What do you do?

Well, the obvious is to first check your dog training methods, because it’s quite possible the problem is not with him, but with you. Make sure you are being consistent. Don’t let him get away with the bad behavior – not even once. Always correct him. Do not let him disobey one time and correct him the next. This will never work. Your dog will simply be confused.

Next, just make sure you aren’t confusing the dog with how you are correcting him.

Here’s a brief story.

The other day while I prepared to walk my dog, he would not stay in position long enough for me to attach his collar and leash. He would sit and raise his head, as dominant dogs do. Having him stand is far more effective, because he will then lower his head.

He understands the “stand” command, and did that without hesitation. But he would not hold perfectly still because he was so anxious to get going. I told him, “Wait!” without even thinking what it really meant to him. His previous owner taught him to “Wait” by sitting. So here we were in conflict. Me telling him to “Stand” and shortly after, “Wait”, and him standing and sitting as per my ever-changing commands.

It took me a few days to realize what I was doing wrong and I had to laugh at us.

So be careful of your words. We humans don’t always think what we’re saying and tend to blurt out what’s foremost in our minds. You can see the difficulty.

You have your dog training methods sorted. The next step is to consider a change in dog training equipment. Perhaps what you are using just does not apply sufficient pressure to let him know you are the boss.

When the plain buckle collar or choke collar does not work on your large dog, a prong collar can be quite effective.

Before you cringe at the thought, realize that this type of collar looks far more deadly than it actually is.

It is designed to fit snugly around the dog’s neck, high and behind the ears. The prongs can be used to resize the collar and for putting it on the dog. It should not slide. The part that attaches to the leash should be on the right side of the dog’s neck. Of course, this depends on your method – if you are right or left handed. If you walk with your dog on the right, then it should be on his left.

The part without the prongs should be under the dog’s throat where the neck is more vulnerable.

This type of collar is designed to pinch the skin evenly around the dog’s neck. This means that the correction is applied all around the neck, not in one place as with the choke collar. Less force is needed with the prong collar. It is especially effective on dogs that can ignore the effects of a choke collar or who have been allowed to pull on the leash for months.

Still struggling? Get these secrets to dog training.

Posted in Dog Accessories | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment