Dogs Jumping On People

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Dog ownership leads to a lot of unpredictable moments; this makes for good storytelling. If you have a dog, or know a family with a dog there are often great “tails” of things taking a sudden turn for the worse.

I remember years ago taking a small group of dogs to a local off leash park. Sherwood Park is a beautiful piece of the country side in the middle of Toronto. There is an area for children to play on beautiful climbers, slides and swings plus a wading pool for hot summer days. There is even a shaded picnic spot for families or couples to enjoy a picnic.

The dog off-leash area is a gorgeous wooded area with a figure eight of dirt trails with trees on either side. There is a river that runs south of the off leash all year around. Many dogs make a bee-line for the water to cool off or to have fun.
The off-leash park has signs pointing to its entrance and rules for dog owners and walkers to follow. Once you enter this area dogs are free to run at will and explore. On occasion runners come through, or people taking short cuts to work.

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On one particular day it was a bit muddy in spots so I was on high alert; I wanted to try to avoid stepping in slippery areas. As I rounded the corner I could see a couple in their twenties in a loving embrace combined with some kisses. My heart skipped a beat when I realized the woman was wearing all white with her back exposed to my dogs running and playing. I called the dogs to come back my way and they slowed down to look at me. The woman started talking to the dogs in a happy excited voice and I knew things would not play out well.

One of the smallest dogs decided to jump and slide down her crisp white pants. Seriously it would have been the best “Tide” commercial ever! I was horrified and the couple were amazing saying they realized they were in an off-leash area where dogs run at large .I offered to pay for her dry cleaning but – Murphy’s Law – had no money in my dog walking pouch. She was very nice and said it was not necessary.

Another “dog tail” of things taking a turn for the worse occurred at my local bank. All of the branches of my bank encourage owners to bring in their dogs while they do their banking. Usually a dog cookie is offered by a staff member, and the monotony of doing banking becomes a pleasurable moment for both the two and four-legged.

I popped into my bank with two dogs to use the bank machine. While I began my transaction the “greeter” at the bank asked if both dogs would like a cookie. At the mention of the word both young dogs got excited and were eager to get a treat. They were so excited they could barely sit for their cookie. The bank staff crouched down to pat them both.

I kept peeking over my shoulder to see how they were doing and was horrified to suddenly see small pearls bouncing across the tiled floor in tons of different directions. The greeter had not even noticed that the thin gold chain of her bracelet had broken by accident by one of the dogs jumping around in enthusiasm.

I tried desperately to help her retrieve the rolling pearls. She was only concerned that no one slipped on one and fell down. I felt terrible and offered to pay for – what I learned to be a sentimental – bracelet to get fixed. She was very kind and said it was not necessary that accidents happen and that she had offered them the cookie etc. I left with a head hanging low; of course the dogs had no clue.

Fortunately these encounters are few and far between and make for great story telling. Owners often open up to each other about their “tails” of woe.

This post has me thinking. Have you ever experienced an unexpected “adventure” with your canine?

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Dog and Owner Pet Peeves, People at the Off Leash Park | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Dogs and their favourite toys

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When dogs arrive to board in our house they bring along one or two favorite toys from home. I always find it interesting if they will treasure these prized possessions while staying with us, or ignore them altogether. What makes a toy or stuffed animal so special?

Is it the person who buys the toy that makes it special? Or is a toy special because it has favorite characteristics that the dog enjoys? For example, a squeaker, a certain smell, or how it moves.

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We have discovered that Abby’s most prized possessions are always stuffed animals. She prefers them to not be too fuzzy as she “gums” on them in a rhythmic sequence which often puts her to sleep! Sometimes she shoves so much of the stuffed animal into her mouth that she makes funny noises as she exhales through a mouthful of teddy bear. This behaviour started around the time she was six and I have no idea what started it. She may have observed another dog “in action” gumming a “lovie.” In the five years or so she has been observed using her lovies as perfect pillows too.

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Quite often the fur gets “crunchy” from her mouthing so I toss her lovies into the washing machine to soften them up. I have wondered what she thinks of this as I have caught her bringing the clean ones back out from the laundry room when seeing them on the floor.

I do rotate her treasured stuffed animals as there we have quite a big collection. Some were gifts, while others were purchased over her almost fourteen years. She has never chewed holes in them or ripped pieces off. Her two most favorites are both grey in colour which I find interesting. One had an arm ripped off when a couple of boarding dogs decided to play tug-of-war. I stitched it up knowing how special it is to her. So far it seems like she doesn’t mind!

As I previously mentioned, when dogs come to board they often bring their own toys. I always smile when I see that a specific toy has made it through another year at their home. Some look pretty beat up and give us a good laugh. We had a toy arrive recently that was originally a stuffed squirrel by the looks of it; however, currently all of the inside fluff is gone. Ember, our other Labrador, takes great delight in visiting dogs’ toys. She especially loved what was left of this toy.
Ember is always the first to give visiting dogs’ toys a sniff or to carry them around. Penny, a sweet Golden Retriever, arrived tonight with her “baby,” a pink stuffed toy which to me looks shaped like a ginger bread boy. This toy has come with Penny to visit for over a decade! It still looks pretty good; I may have to ask if they have purchased others over the years or if the “baby” just washes well!

Leo, a fun-loving Portuguese water dog, arrived to board with us with a stuffed animal that he treasured. I think it was a stuffed monkey. We thought the toy was a cute and burst out laughing when it started to play out a tune when squeezed in Leo’s playful mouth. “Dling, Ding, Ding” played in succession at least three times in a row loudly as Leo ran around our living room. We gave it a couple of days then put it away to give us a break from the repetitive noise! All was well as he was happy to play with our assortment of other dog toys instead.

I always write down what toy our visitors bring so I can search for it when they head home.

Does your dog keep their loved possession in one room or near their bed? Or does the treasured item travel outdoors or maybe on holiday with you when your pooch comes along too?

Please share your dog’s “true love” and why it seems so special.

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Dog Boarding in Home, Dog Sleeping | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

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Ember joined our family last Spring; at the time, she was just two weeks shy of her eighth birthday. We decided to add a second older dog to our family knowing there are many senior dogs in need of forever homes. When she arrived, Ember had some basic commands like “sit” and “come,” but there was certainly a lot that she needed to learn. I wondered what it would be like to train an older dog who had been raised in the country.

When my husband and I drove home with her I was smitten already. She literally chose me. We had looked at other dogs that were available but she came through a doorway into the room where we were waiting and immediately did a massive “full body” wag. She came right over to where I was sitting on the floor and sat beside me, leaning her full body weight on me. She wiggled closer to further “let me know” that she was there and then licked my neck to seal the deal. Her tail never stopped wagging, especially the tip, which we now call her “rattlesnake move.”

After deciding that we wanted to take her home, we put her in the car. I made sure to give her lots of treats on the way home. I was delighted to see that Ember, like all Labradors, is a “foodie.” I realized that food could be used as motivation when training her further.

The first few weeks we worked on “sit” and walking her on-leash, which proved to be quite the challenge initially. Ember had never been in a city, and was easily distracted by all the noise and new scenery. She would zigzag in front of us randomly, despite trying to keep her on a shorter lead. We were constantly tripped by her sudden moves as she cut in front of us to get closer to a scent. I found that walking her with other dogs that were seasoned leash-walkers helped; soon, she caught on to the rhythm and the crisscrossing stopped. This whole process did take a few months, but today – almost nine months later – she is a delight to walk.

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Teaching "down" also took months for Ember to grasp. I do remember hearing that this is one of the hardest commands to teach a dog as it places a dog in a position of submission. It required a lot of patience on my behalf and our family members to work with her. Today I can honestly say that she will lay down eighty-five percent of the time when asked. Sometimes we get a blank, empty stare look from her. I think that that look translates to her saying "I don't know what you are asking” or “huh?”

Retrieving a ball also took a few weeks to master, but is her favorite pastime now. She takes great delight in bringing back a ball; I can tell from her "happy ears," wagging tail and the enthusiastic bounce in her step.
The one dog trick that has proven to be the most challenging to teach is shake-a-paw. Ember is the sixth dog in my life and all of my previous dogs have mastered this fun trick. Most often, Ember will look at us as if almost in a trance, or like we’re speaking Swahili.

What we find the most entertaining is that Ember will give a paw when asked but only about twenty percent of the time. She does understand the concept, but for some reason decides on her terms what day she will wow us with mastering the skill.
She does it the most for my older daughter Emily who has been the most patient with Ember and this simple trick. We find ourselves laughing each and every time as the outcome is so hit and miss.

When Ember "gets it" she is so happy and often does a victory lap around the room. On the other hand, when she doesn’t make the connection to what we’re asking she often will just lie down on the floor.

On another note, I wanted to share lessons that I have learned when working with an older dog.
1. Don't compare them to previous dogs owned, as each and every dog is truly unique.
2. Keep training sessions short to avoid frustration for both the two- and four-legged.
3. Find out what rewards work well for positive reinforcement. For us, praise and dog treats – or, Ember’s favourite, carrots – work the best.
4. Have the whole family onboard for training sessions to break up the monotony of only one person working with the dog.
5. Be patient!
6. Try having other dogs demonstrate the trick to those who haven’t.
7. Ask for advice from other dog savvy people or trainers. There is always more to learn!
8. Put aside a trick or skill for a bit and take a break, even for a few days.
9. Re-evaluate the trick. Is it really an issue to not learn it? For example, it’s not really a big deal that Ember can’t shake a paw on command every time.
10. Celebrate all your achievements with your beloved canine no matter how big or small.

The love Ember has given us in less than a year is wonderful. She is an awesome addition to our family and I believe that she has extended the life of our other, fourteen-year-old Labrador Abby, longer than we anticipated. And certainly, teaching her a few tricks has been fun, interesting, challenging and funny along the way.

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For more on Ember, check out this and this.

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Adding a Second Dog to Your Home, Dog Tricks, Owners with Two of the Same Breed, Senior Dogs | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

A Time To Help Out – Pattison K9 Rescue Team

A few weeks ago I was on Twitter; I follow quite a few dog sites as I enjoy their educational and entertainment value. One of the sites, The Toronto Daily Pet mentioned that dog collars were needed for the Pattison K9 Rescue Team heading to Mexico.

My heart “spoke to me” and I decided to tell The Toronto Pet Daily I was on board to assist gathering used or new dog collars for this group. Gord connected me to a dog walker named Maricella Sauceda of Love4Dogs.They provide group and private walks for dogs living north of the Greater Toronto Area.

Maricella told me her friend Julia was going on the trip to Mexico with the team and was leaving in less than a week. I had four business days to collect dog collars!

I never had a moment of “don’t bother with this Becky” in the back of my mind; it just felt like the right thing to do. My goal was to possibly collect 25 dog collars. I believed that I was aiming high, but remembered from other volunteer experience that a positive frame of mind fuels the outcome.

I looked at some videos on YouTube from former Pattison K9 Rescue Team trips to South America. These videos were tremendously inspiring, and I quickly looked up more information about their cause. Instead of heading to South America, this time the K9 Rescue Team was travelling to Cancun, Mexico. They planned to spay and neuter feral dogs, specifically females as they bear the puppies.

The vets providing the medical services will be from the area in Mexico. Additionally, the K9 Rescue Team plans share dog training information with the locals. They plan to particularly focus on schools in order to provide children the opportunity to be educated on how to handle and treat dogs.

The team also plans to visit local animal shelters to share information on training techniques and to give advice on how to house the animals etc. The dog collars collected for this trip will be given to dogs with ill-fitting ones, dogs with no collars or pooches with just basic rope ones.

I shared my desire to collect both new and gently used collars on Facebook, Twitter and by word of mouth. I mentioned my cause to the families whose dogs I walk, friends with dogs, and to my dog walker community. I even told people I know at the dog park of my little venture, which unfortunately was quite a time crunch.

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Magic soon started to happen; I was so thrilled. By the second day 25 collars had been passed my way. People left them on my front doorstep, in my mailbox etc. Dog walking friends would pull them out of their dog pouches and say that they were from their clients. One dog walking friend had collars for me and both of us realized that we would not be at the park at the same time. I suggested she leave them in the tree where walkers hang their leashes. Thankfully, they were there when I went to pick them up!

Not one person wanted the “glory” of being a contributor – it was all anonymous. I started piling the collars onto a counter in our dining room. At the end of each day I would look at them and pick them up wondering what stories each collar could tell.

One simple faded blue nylon collar caught my eye. It had a small clump of dog fur on it and I actually got choked up (I cry easily). It obviously had been around for a few years but was in perfect shape without a rip or loose threads. The buckle was in wonderful condition and will serve a needy dog well.

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By the last day of my plea to dog lovers almost 90 items sat on my counter. There were brand new collars with sparkly jewels on them, leather ones, funky fabrics and patterns, and dozens of well-loved canine neck bling. Brand new leashes and body harnesses were donated along with everything else.

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One of my dog clients sweetly wrapped two collars and a leash in a ribbon and simply wrote on the donation “For a dog in Mexico, Love Shuga,” their dog’s name. I put a note on one of our favorite collars that Abby used to wear, saying best wishes from Toronto. Our family unloaded all our puppy collars we had kept for sentimental reasons and a collar from our handsome Chocolate Labrador Chip who is no longer with us. I must admit I had a twang in my heart passing it on but love the idea that it will help out a dog in need elsewhere.

Julia, the volunteer, came to my house to pick up the haul. It was great meeting her and hearing about the trip. Stay tuned for pictures from her trip and some of her stories. Julia mentioned that, with the collars I collected, she will have 200 to take to Mexico!

Special thanks to my dog loving friends in my community and to my dog walker buddies – Ann Brown of Wiggan’s Pack, Deborah Lynch of Scamps Pet Care, Alexandra Sleightholm of Care of the Dog, Nafisa Noorani of Dog Walking and Jennifer Ego of Pawsitively Pets for putting out the word and gathering awesome donations.

So, moral of the story is that the next time you “feel” a nudge in your heart, follow it through. The magic that follows is purely wonderful and contagious to those around you.

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Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Care of the dog, Dog Collar, Dog Walker Helping others, People at the Off Leash Park, Shelter Dogs | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Dogs and Skunks – Not The Best Pair

My cousin Martha is a dog lover, too. We certainly inherited the “dog gene” from our Grandmother Ruth Allen. Martha jokes that I inherited the “dog gene” tenfold!

Martha had some up-close and personal experiences with her dogs and skunks last year .I asked if she would write about them at some point, and was delighted that she did this past week. The following story is in her words.

“A snow day in February may seem like an odd time to write about skunks – those adorable little creatures with their fashionable stripes all nestled snug in their beds for winter. But they, or at least their lingering presence – returned to me the other night when our Dachshund, Ziggy, got wet in the rain. Oh hello you nasty little flashback!

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My partner and I moved into a new neighbourhood last spring, which is really only a few blocks from our last home. But, it became a very different experience from our last ‘hood once fall rolled around. Our friends, who live around the corner from us now, had told us tales of hordes of skunks making their way across the local park like a herd of wildebeest moving over the African savannah. Funny, we thought they were exaggerating.

Until the nights we started witnessing this for ourselves. I began to classify my evening walks with our Labrador, Scout and Ziggy as a “one, two or three-skunk” walk. There was a hilarious skunk up the street that I dubbed “Tina Turner” because its tail looked like big, bad 80’s hair. We had skunks in our driveway, under our car, in the neighbours’ front yards, in gardens, behind fences … it was “High Alert, Def-Com-4 Level” walks every night!

Oh yes – they were everywhere, including our backyard, which is where Ziggy met her nemesis, twice. The first time, as was our habit, we unleashed the dogs at the gate after the walk. Both took off along the side of the house with furious barking. Ziggy must have gotten there first, or more likely, Scout, who is naturally timid and submissive to almost any creature, kept her distance. But leave it to a Dachshund to get her face right into the butt of danger. I sent apologies around to the neighbours the next day.

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The second encounter was entirely our fault, as by now we should have known better. But, it was one of those nights when we had gotten into our jammies early and were not feeling the evening walk. So we simply let the dogs out into the yard. On hindsight, a walk would have been so much easier and far less time consuming. More apologies sent around to the neighbours.
We now keep hydrogen peroxide in stock at all times during the skunk season. Used in combination with dish soap and baking soda, it cuts the odor very well – until the next time the dog gets wet. I hope Tina and the rest of her posse are having nightmares all winter!”

Martha is a 53 year old public school teacher and happy dog owner with her partner Rachel. Ziggy, the Daschund, was their practice dog. When they knew that their schedules would work with dog ownership, they got a “real” dog – Scout, their Yellow Labrador. Ziggy is now 11 years old and Scout is 10 years old. With a big yard and walks in the city and freedom at the cottage in the summer, life is good for both the two- and four-legged when skunks are hibernating. Besides their dogs, Martha and Rachel have 3 grown children.

For more on dogs and skunks, check out my previous post.

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Care of the dog, Dog and Owner Pet Peeves, Stinky Dogs, Your Dog Gene | Tagged , | Leave a comment

HOTDOGZ & CO.

When I am at the off-leash dog park I am always in full observation mode. I watch the dogs with me and scan the area much like people do when driving their vehicles. As I walked around the large, open, fenced-in field I noticed a small black dog wearing the cutest coat. Clara was with another dog walker I know named Voula. I was curious where Clara’s coat came from since it was so unique.

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When I got closer the coat made me smile; it was a beautiful shade of red. The colour was cheery like a red Lifesaver candy. On the fabric were large ladybugs across the back and sides. Clara’s name was embroidered across the collar of the coat which was a cute touch. I asked Voula where the coat was from and she told me it was a HOTDOGZ jacket and that they are custom-made.

It was a freezing day here in Toronto and it was the perfect coat to help with nature’s elements. It had a double layer of polar fleece Voula pointed out and I gave it a feel as dog walkers do to test things out. The coats are Canadian made and designed and I was happy to hear this. I was impressed and got the information to contact this family run business for a possible interview for this blog.

When I looked at their website I discovered that they are in Ottawa, Ontario. You can build your own dog coat with many options to create a one of a kind look. Options include adding reflective trim, choosing fleece colors/patterns, a faux fur collar, harness access, and adding your dog’s name. As the designer you can add a waterproof saddle or pockets too! I was intrigued and contacted them for a fun interview. The following is the interview with sisters Joanne and Michele.

Q: Please tell me how you decided to have a custom pet clothing and accessories business.
A: Having been raised in rural and isolated air force bases across Quebec and Ontario, our mother taught us at a very young age how to sew by hand, creating snazzy outfits for our stuffed animals and dolls. We never stopped. As we grew older we graduated to the sewing machine. Imagine sisters fighting over the sewing machine. Our mother seldom used patterns when making our clothes and of course as adults, we’ve inherited this skill of creating unique and amazing things from scratch. Over the years we have sewn clothing, embroidered, and completed many home décor projects, handmade quilts for our children, family and friends. As a professional dog walker and lifelong dog owner, we see first-hand the types of dog coats on the market. In particular, the selection of unique stylish coats incorporating warmth and functionality for large dogs or odd sized dogs is very limited.We are very passionate about our company and love the challenge of creating original and unique designs for our furry clients!

Q: I love the name HOTDOGZ & Co. Tell us about coming up with the name.
A: Yes, it took many brainstorming sessions. Our initial goal was to design unique, stylish yet very warm and functional dog coats, hence, the words HOT DOGZ.

Q: I understand it is a family run business. Who is involved?
A: Yes, this is a family run business. My sister and I are Co-Owners. Growing up together enables us to give honest feedback when discussing business details. We also have a mutual respect of our individual talents. Together we develop new and unique design ideas. Michele, our Designer and Stylist then takes our rough draft and creates a pattern, chooses fabric and trims, etc. We then cut, paste, embroider and sew as a team. My previous work experience – customer service in the hi-tech sector – provides me with the experience needed in business administration, customer interaction, website management, accounting and shipping. We both feel that providing a high level of customer service is essential for a successful business.

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Q: How long have you been in business?
A: We are in our first year of business; however, this has been an ongoing hobby.

Q: As a Canadian I am delighted you are located in Ottawa. What made you decide to have them handmade and sewn yourselves?

A: First and foremost, this is our passion. We are very proud of our unique designs and workmanship.

Q: Your fabrics are very distinctive – what types of things do you look for?
A: We are very particular on selecting our fabrics. We have certain criteria we are looking for including uniqueness combined with functionality, warmth, and durability.

Q: Do you have a designing background?
A: No, although we do not have a formal background, as mentioned, we have many years’ experience perfecting our craft.

Q: Do you design mostly for smaller dogs?
A: We design custom dog coats for all shapes, sizes and breeds. As we have found, every dog is unique!

Q: Tell us some fun stories about designing for some dogs.
A: We don’t have a particular story in mind however we do meet and forge wonderful relationships with many interesting people. It is great fun working with all of our furry 4-legged friends!

Q: You must be dog owners as I have noticed the coats are very practical in many ways for both dog and owner. Do you have a dog?
A: Yes, we were raised in a pet friendly environment and have always owned dogs. As a matter of fact Bentley, Michele’s weimaraner and Broady, my schoodle are models in our Photo Gallery on our website. They are very precious to us!

Q: Where do most of your clients live?
A: Most of our clients are in the Ottawa area; however, we are slowly expanding across Ontario. We hope to continue to grow throughout North America.

Q: What accessories do you offer?
A: We are currently establishing our custom dog coats but have many ideas coming soon for our pet accessories.

Q: What are your dreams for HOTDOGZ & CO.
A: Our dream is to see our custom products walking down the street or wrestling in the dog parks throughout the city and eventually around the world.

Q: Tell us about your website – it is certainly very user-friendly.
A: Thank you. We have worked very hard in creating a user-friendly website. It is an amazing marketing tool for us to showcase our unique custom designs to the animal loving-world.

There is a Custom Dog Coat giveaway from HOT DOGZ & CO.

Here’s how to participate:

Access HOT DOGZ’S website between now and the end of February.

Go to the Contact Us page and submit your details stating you are entering the contest from dogstwentyfourseven.

At the end of February, all participants will be entered in the draw for a Custom Dog Coat.

The winner will be contacted by HOT DOGZ & CO. and posted on dogstwentyfourseven.

HOT DOGZ & CO. will then work with the winner to design a custom dog coat.

Free shipping will only be included to Canada and the US.

613-402-4203
http://www.HotDogzPetClothing.com
HotDogzPetClothing@gmail.com

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Care of the dog | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Keys and Alarm Codes – Dogwalker Challenges

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My job involves a lot of trust; I am given keys and alarm codes to my client’s houses. Not only am I trusted with their beloved canine but also to keep their house secure. Over the years there have been to the occasional blips which jump start my heart rate in seconds.

Yesterday was one of those moments. I was delighted to walk a sweet young black lab for a new client and practically skipped to her apartment to pick up a new canine friend. I entered the first door by punching in a code and then headed up one flight of stairs to pick up my new charge, Gemma. I put the key in the lock and said hello to Gemma, who was on the other side of the door eager to greet me.

I twisted the key a couple of times and was horrified to see it snap off into two pieces. The round part of the key remained in my hand while the longer part remained in the lock.

A feeling of dread overcame me from my head down to my feet. It was an awful moment standing there feeling helpless and realizing that I was on my own. Gemma needed a walk but I could not get her out. This was only her first day with me!
A young woman in the building magically appeared and kindly listened to me ramble and helped me figure out a solution. She gave me the building superintendent’s name and phone number before heading on her way.

I made two phone calls to the super minutes apart as my heart raced full speed ahead. Minutes later he called back and once again I relayed my misfortune and begged for help. He basically said that he could not let me in without the dog owner’s permission. I agreed on principle while secretly hoping that he was a closet dog lover and would see my side of things.

I promised that I would have my client call him as soon as possible. She was at work, and it might take a bit of time for her to get back to him. My heart leapt when he said that he could release the dog into my custody and I found myself singing his praises over both on the phone and in person.

The whole situation reminded me of the epidural I had while delivering of my second daughter, Hannah – full panic and a loss of control with labour pains initially, and then a serene feeling when the drugs kicked in! I clearly remember telling the doctor how appreciative I was and how wonderful he was over and over.

I told the super that I would keep Gemma all day to prevent bothering him again and to get to know the dog better. I could easily pull the remaining piece out of the key hole in one precise move – thank goodness! I would return Gemma to her home at day’s end.

A second key has recently been made; however, it will take a few more visits to walk Gemma until my fear of the lock will subside!

In addition to faulty locks and/or keys, alarm codes also can keep dog walkers on their toes. I have been prevented from getting into houses when battery operated key pads are dead. I always know when this happens. I punch in the familiar number and the key pad makes a tired sound as it struggles to open the bolt fully. The worst part is the family dog on the other side of the door barking to let me “know” that they are there and to hurry up and open the door as per usual.

In the past I walked a dog in a home where the alarm system was unpredictable on a regular basis. I would punch in the code and correctly follow the steps but the screaming alarm would still go off – almost giving me a coronary every time!
If you have not experienced hearing an alarm go off in a house that is not yours I can tell you that it is dreadful. Full panic sets in, barely allowing someone – even if they are meant to be there – think clearly.

I remember one client who would leave for the cottage on occasion and forget to tell me that their dog was headed north too. Calling the dog walker slipped their mind in the flurry of heading out the door. During one of these two occasions the phone rang and I knew right away it was the alarm company. My answers required an Oscar-winning performance to persuade them that I was actually their dog walker and not a robber.

Another time I was asked by a client to go to their house and see if I could locate a missing hamster that was on the loose that they could not find before going on vacation. My husband sweetly offered to help find the critter and we were blasted by the alarm going off upon entering as the code had been changed. The scare we received is still a memory today that often gives us a good giggle.

At least a half dozen times a year I get calls from dog owners saying that they have locked themselves out of their homes. One of the perks of having a dog walker is that I have an extra key in my care, which can often resolve a frustrating issue.
I have received calls from families asking me to check if they left an iron plugged in or a computer left turned on when they have left their home for a long period of time.

The best example of a dog walker with keys to the rescue occurred a year ago. I received a panicky phone call from a friend whose dog I walked. She had taken her daughter for a music audition at a university hours away. A piece of music was left behind in the young woman’s bedroom and was needed for a prearranged audition time. I raced to their house and found the music; I took it somewhere close by to scan and send it. It was really down to the wire!

I think this proves that dog walkers are creative thinkers, fearless and willing to help both the two and four-legged any way that they can!

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/#!/dogstwentyfourseven. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on Twitter at Dogs247Becky.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

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The Seven Deadly Dog Sins

My daughter, Emily, suggested that I write about “the seven deadly sins” but with a canine twist. Naturally, I loved the idea and felt that it should be my next post.

Lust of course comes straight to my mind from my hours at the off leash parks over the years. Fulton, a regular I walk would find this the hardest sin to let go of. After each of his trips to the park, his owner Janine will always ask, “How was he?” The funny thing is that we both know the answer. I always say that he had a great time, and perhaps mention if we went somewhere new or if an adventure had occurred. Then after a pregnant pause, I wryly answer “He was humping again” and give details on his newest desire. Fulton has favorite types, particularly Golden Retrievers or Chocolate Labradors. Sometimes he lusts after an older slow moving senior (an easy conquest!) which I have to break up. He certainly is known as the park “Romeo,” but I figure there are far worse traits than doing the “dog conga.” He is totally aware of his actions and my usual response; like a child he waits for me to make eye contact with him, or to physically remove him from the situation.

Gluttony is one of my two Labradors greatest sins. They love watching me prep and make dinner and hope that I will drop a morsel by accident. They both eat their food in record time and stalk me when their meals are due. They have incredible inner clocks that are so completely accurate, I could go without a watch or clocks on our walls to know what hour it is! From my boarding experience, I have found that dogs eat at all different paces. When a dog is a slower eater – which I find most poodles or poodle-mixes to be- my Labradors are very hopeful that they will get some of their meal. They are very stealthy and walk silently up behind the visitor, politely eating its food, ready to gulp down any remaining bits of morsels left. Once the dog is finished, its bowl is spun in a whirling fashion; all sides of the dish are explored by Abby and Ember’s fancy tongue work. I have no doubt that if I ever left their bucket of kibble open they would eat the entire pail and then be sick. Gluttony really is their dog “sin.”

Greed is another dog “sin” which I see on a regular basis, especially by my dog Ember. She is the type of dog that will not allow other dogs to have their own toys, carefully packed by their owners before a dog comes to board. The resource guarding type of dog could also be accused of this “sin.” At the park I see many dogs who won’t share their ball, or stick, for example. Sometimes they will take others toys, which is evident when a dog has three balls etc. in their mouth at once!

Wrath is a trickier sin to put a spin in in the canine world. All I can think of are dogs that have experienced a negative event with another dog, for example a fight. I walk a Portuguese water dog named Jackson. When he was a puppy he had a terrible scare from a large dog. If I am walking him and the other dog comes towards us by fluke with its owner, Jackson goes crazy in a “rage,” which I believe is wrath in its best form. He even associates all other dogs that look like the other dog as being “the one.” I always have my eyes peeled when walking Jackson to try to avoid an unnecessary flare up. He is a lovely dog otherwise and a pleasure to walk along with his sister Marley.

Envy is another dog “sin” that I see on a regular basis. It can be something as simple as patting someone else’s dog in front of your dog. Quite often the owner’s dog will body check the other dog out of the way, or start leaping on the owner with body language saying ‘I am here, pat me instead!” I have even seen a large dog breed stand up on its rear legs onto their owner, which makes themselves taller and easier to see.

Sloth was also an easier “sin” to think of. Believe or not some dogs actually would rather sleep than go for a walk. I walk a dog that needs a lot of prompting to get off the couch and go get some exercise with me. I know her hiding spots around the house, where she is always found dozing. There are some dogs that come to board who sleep in later than we do! When I try to wake them up for their breakfast, they don’t even open an eye!

I found pride to be the most difficult of the sins to create with a canine twist. Immediately I think of our two dogs and their “happy ears” they display at times. This happens sometimes when they see me come through our front door, or come back from the park. They wag their tail and tuck their ears back in an unnatural state; seeing them do as so pulls at my heartstrings every single time. A full body wag is Ember’s signature, which she often does for family members; I am sure she does this because of her pride in her forever home and as a way to show us her gratefulness. Also, I can easily say the majority of dog owners think their dog is the most beautiful, clever, smartest and most loving dog in the world. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

What do you think of these deadly dog “sins?” How does your dog “sin?”

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on twitter, too @Dogs247Becky

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

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My Dog Kiefer

I love writing this blog. It has allowed me to share my dog adventures, and the interesting people I have had the opportunity to connect with. Like I’ve said before, dogs are wonderful connectors; this is proven to me on a daily basis.
I am amazed at how many dogs have their own Facebook pages. I have discovered countless interesting people who love their dog enough to do this; many have numerous fans that follow their posts and pictures with great enthusiasm. I saw that the Facebook page “My Dog Kiefer” had been “liked” on another Facebook page. I was curious to find out about this dog. My intuition was a gift, as Kiefer is no ordinary dog. I asked his owner if she would be a guest author on this blog and the following is her story.

“Hello, my name is Trisha Malfitano, and I am the author of two children’s books. My first book called My Dog Kiefer was published in 2010. The sequel, titled Kiefer and Friends was published just last month. I travel to schools to read my story and spread a message to children about acceptance.

My Dog Kiefer is a children’s story about my deaf dog, named Kiefer. The first time I read the book to a class, I choose not tell anyone that Kiefer is deaf. My goal is to have the kids try and figure out what makes Kiefer different from other dogs. When we get to the end of the story and everyone finds out he is deaf, people are usually surprised. Most people would have never guess on first meeting Kiefer that he cannot hear. They usually say things like, “He seems so normal.” It is for this reason that I do what I do. Kiefer can do anything a hearing dog can; the only difference is that he listens with his eyes, and that I talk to him with my hands. The two of us are on a mission to educate children and adults alike, about deaf dogs and dogs with other different abilities.

Kiefer and Friends is our second book. In this book, Kiefer introduces the reader to some of his awesome new friends. Some of the dogs in the book have what is considered a “disability,” others are judged harshly by their appearance. Our goal with this book is to educate people that all dogs deserve a chance at a happy life. We then hope our message of acceptance will translate into interactions with other people who are different as well. It is important to us that we teach people not to judge others, dog or human, by the way that they may look, learn, or even get around.

I was inspired to write my first book after adopting Kiefer; at the same time I was working with a young student who has Downs Syndrome. I found that people often assumed that she could not perform well, without even giving her a chance to try. I noticed that the family had to fight for her to have the same education and the same opportunities as other children without similar disabilities.

When Kiefer and I attended our first puppy training class, I was again shocked at the intolerance and ignorance of people. One of the other owners repeatedly referred to Kiefer as being “retarded”; a harsh word to use, even on a dog. Another owner was afraid that their dog would somehow “catch” being deaf because of contact with Kiefer, and I had to try and explain that deafness cannot be “caught.” Despite the fact Kiefer could do all the same things as the other puppies, there remained individuals that believed he should have been put down at birth and not given a chance.

The second book was inspired and written after Kiefer and I started to befriend other dogs who had different abilities. Listening to their stories, I saw how they had to fight for certain privileges as well. I decided that I wanted to educate people about not looking past these dogs, and that they too are worthy of a loving home.

I also adopted an Australian Shepard, named Theresina, who is deaf and partially blind. We too have been met by similar people who do not believe that she is worth the effort. Training her is a new adventure; for others, however, the obstacles that come with having a dog with disabilities outweigh their chance to life. During the puppy training classes, we had one owner who refused to have their puppy in class with us, because of her disabilities.

Kiefer recently passed his Canine Good Citizen Test and is ready for therapy dog class. However, once again, we are having a hard time finding a place to fit in. We have been refused by training facilities simply because he is deaf. There are many places that view deaf dogs as vicious and unworkable.

When Kiefer and I visit schools, I am constantly amazed at how gentle and kind he is around children in particular. He has this special ability to pick out the kids who need him the most. We have also been to two schools for the deaf, and have visited classes with special needs children.

One amazing moment happened with Kiefer was about a year ago. We were working a booth set up for the rescue group I volunteer with, and many people, of all ages, stopped to see if they could greet Kiefer. During this time, a family came by and with their son in a stroller. I am not sure what physical problem the boy had, but he was not moving much. I then asked the family if Kiefer could go up to the little boy. Kiefer went up to the stroller and nudged the boy’s hand very gently, and the boy’s eyes lit up. Being very careful, Kiefer climbed on the side of the stroller to get a better look at the boy. The boy reached out his hand to pet Kiefer, who stayed very still, and stroked his fur. When the boy was all done Kiefer got off the stroller and sat next to the father whose face was priceless. Kiefer looked up at the man; you could see in his eyes that he was asking the man if he did a good job. The family thanked us for making the boy smile. It was then I realized that Kiefer had a gift, something that you cannot teach.

Now a little about me, as I do not find myself as interesting as Kiefer. I currently live in Watertown, CT in the U.S.A. I am a mother of two, a wife, and a paraprofessional. I work with students in 3rd and 4th grade. I volunteer for New England Border Collie Rescue. My family and I share our house with six rescue dogs and three rescue cats.
I hope to continue Kiefer’s story in more books in the future. You can visit Kiefer on Facebook or check out his website. At both sites you can see pictures from some of our schools visits. Kiefer and I have also had the chance to be on television three times now. We love having the opportunity to reach out and spread the news of our books. If you have any questions or would like to order an autograph copy of the books please e-mail me at mydogkiefer11@gmail.com.”

I welcome people to share their dog stories on dogstwentyfourseven as guest authors. Please contact me if you have an interesting story on a rescue dog, a dog with special needs, a funny dog “tail,” or a well-loved pooch that you adore. A tribute to a dog would be very special to share with others too. Comments can be made on the blog after any of my posts are published.

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on twitter, too.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

Posted in Children and Dogs, Deaf Dogs, Dog with Special Needs | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dog and Owner New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! As we head into the first week of 2013, New Year’s resolutions have been on my mind. I’ve been bombarded by the idea of resolutions on television, the radio and through other various forms of the media. I thought that I might as well climb on board with the concept, but add my own canine twist.

I will start off with my resolutions for our two Labradors; Abby is 13½ and Ember is 8½ years old.

Abby’s Resolutions
1. I will try to not wake up before 7am from Monday to Friday. Currently, I like to wake up before Dad’s alarm goes off at 6:15. I let everyone know I’m up by licking loudly and flapping my ears!
2. I will eat at a slower pace and savor my meals.
3. I will not beg… O.K., just less often when my family is eating.
4. I will not “boink” the door with my head to open it onto the back porch, leaving cold air streaming into the house.
5. I will bark more at Irene – my Fairy Dog mother – since she brings me cookies whenever she sees me in the garden, two houses over. It works every time!
6. I will try to dig fewer holes in my garden in the summer when looking for dirt to lie in; I’ll try to focus instead on the nice grass or deck as better options.
7. When going to the vet I will try not to shiver in the waiting room because I’m nervous. I’ve heard it can be a blast hanging out there. I will give them a “shot” – lord knows they have given me enough shots.
8. I will try to be more patient with puppies when they leap at me or on me. I was a young puppy once and need to remember this.
9. Live until my 14th birthday in June!
10.I will keep carrying my poo bags since I like doing this! This neat trick makes strangers smile when they see me. Retrievers like to carry things and be helpful.

Ember’s Resolutions
1. I will continue to snap at dogs that try and mount me. I have produced 3 litters of puppies and other dogs need to be reminded that I am in retirement.
2. I will try and persuade my family to give me more meals. I love breakfast and dinner – how about starting a lunchtime meal?
3. I will try to not sneakily eat other dogs’ food when they’re boarding with us and walk away, leaving some in their dish.
4. I will try to not eat plastic if I find garbage at the off leash park.
5. When my Mom is trying to do up her winter boots before we head out for a walk I will try to not stand over her feet so that putting her boots on isn’t more effort than it should be; I just don’t want to be forgotten.
6. At the off leash I will try to not retrieve balls that are not thrown for me. This will be hard since I only learned to retrieve this year with my new family and I love it so much!
7. When my human family or Abby is using the stairs I will try not to barrel by to get up or down first. I just learned to do stairs with my new forever family and they are still fun to use!
8. When my mom opens the van door I will try to be more patient and wait until I am asked to come out; I know I need to curb my enthusiasm.
9. I want to find a few of my puppies and see what they look like now and where they live.
10. I want to continue to show my new family that I am grateful to live with them each and every day. Even though they tell me that I do this already.

Becky’s (dog-related) Resolutions
1. I want to continue to feel blessed that we have 2 terrific dogs we that we adore.
2. I will appreciate Abby daily as she approaches her 14th Birthday and is managing so well.
3. I will try not to fret about the dog fur on the floors or on our clothing – it is marginal compared to the love that they give us.
4. I will brush the girls more often; it will help with resolution 3.
5. I will bring on the pats that they love, especially when one-on-one.
6. I will try and clean their teeth on a more regular basis.
7. I will contribute to great dog charities; a personal favorite is the Lions Club Foundation of Canada Guide Dogs.
8. I will visit with Ember regularly at my father’s long-term care facility to help raise both his spirits and those of others living there.
9. I will continue writing about my dog experiences and sharing with others on my blog.
10. I will read more about dogs – there is always something new to learn!

What do you think of my dogs’ and my resolutions?

Can you think of some resolutions for your dog or for yourself as a dog owner?

Dogstwentyfourseven has a Facebook page. Interesting articles and links are posted every week. Please click on “Like” if you are enjoying my posts and page. I am on twitter at Dogs247Becky.

If you would like to receive my blog posts by email as soon as they are published, click on “Follow” on my main page. You will automatically receive them immediately after publication. Thank you for your support! Becky White

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