Author Topic: Animals In Our Lives  (Read 379475 times)

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Animals In Our Lives
« Reply #830 on: September 22, 2011, 11:21:50 am »
A couple of days ago was pushing a chair towards the dining table, automatically checking if Max doesn't lay there, like I did for the last ten years. It was his favorite place. Damn.
Yes, I can relate.

Offline David In Indy

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Re: Animals In Our Lives
« Reply #831 on: September 22, 2011, 07:05:34 pm »
I see somebody put my raccoon picture up on the banner! YAY!!  :laugh: :laugh:

They still come around. Probably because I FEED them every night, along with some stray cats. At least I think they are stray. I put the scraps out for the raccoons during late afternoon, and the cats get fed early in the morning. It works out pretty good that way!

Did you know raccoons GRUNT like pigs? I never knew that! I was sitting out on the deck late one night and suddenly I heard all this grunting and snorting and it was surrounding me. Fortunately Jason (my niece's husband) was out there at the time and he told me it was the raccoons! I was getting ready to freak out and high tail it back into the house. The mother raccoon was coming up on the deck for the scraps and she had her babies with her, which were nearly full grown at the time. She must have been teaching them to fend for themselves and NOT depend on HER so much. Jason said they will snort and grunt to tell the other raccoons to stay away!

Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Animals In Our Lives -- RIP For "Hound"
« Reply #832 on: September 22, 2011, 07:10:34 pm »
I hope people will check back on this thread and read this story -- it's always timely for a discussion among pet lovers.  People sent in their own stories in Comments, including a doggie ghost story; and they're as touching as the story itself.  Anyone who's had pets for awhile eventually gets a "pet from hell" that's somehow special in its own way.



Hounded By Grief Over A Canine Companion
by Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh

He has been trouble.

From the first second he stepped out of my car and ran far, far away to the recent whole chicken episode in the backyard. From the tunnels he dug under our fences to the path he swam to freedom when we lived on Chesapeake Bay. From the squirrels he treed and dismembered to the skunk that sprayed up his nose.

He has been a difficult Hound.

He has had fleas, ticks and worms, weeping eyes and seeping cysts. His first surgery cost more than my first car. Despite his slender frame, he has fought every dog he has ever come upon unleashed. Though he is neither strategic nor wise, Hound holds his own in these scuffs because he fights like a weasel: He bites hard and never lets go.

But he kept me company when I lived alone in Seattle and has barked off more predators than I care to count, including the thieves who broke in and stole tools while I slept. If Hound could have opened the French doors, I'd still have that nail gun, and he probably would have used it on the intruders himself.

Before bed, I always say, "Good boy, Hound. Good boy." Based on his history, he can have absolutely no idea what these words mean.

He's run away in swamps, forests and subdivisions. He's chased every motorcycle, no matter how far from our home it blazed. I imagined one day that's how he would go, a flash of brown and white loping away with my heart.

Instead Hound died of cancer. Not from a snakebite, a car accident or chocolate.

I found him at the top of the stairs. I put my head to his chest, unsure whether I heard his heart beating or mine. He was still warm when I carried him to the car, still soft as the vet laid him on the doggie stretcher and pronounced him gone. I have bid farewell to grandparents, neighbors and classmates, but I did not cry for them like I did for my Hound. He was my first dog, the great canine love of my life.

We shared only a decade, but I can hardly remember life before. I have imagined him into it all. We are children together: I'm climbing a tree with Hound nipping at my heels. He is barking at my first boyfriend and waiting at the back door when I tiptoe in after curfew. Hound is eating pizza in my college dorm. He nibbles on my bouquet as I prepare to walk down the aisle.

I am torn between being glad he's at peace and hoping he haunts me, not unlike a dog version of Patrick Swayze in Ghost. Dogs love us like we wish we could love others; they are faithful where we are feckless. For as long as they are able, they endure.

So today I'm wearing sweat pants, crying over chew toys and wondering about the future. I'm looking for my next big leap, a jump Hound knew we could no longer make together, but something I suspect he did not want me to miss.

Reminds me of James Thurber's short story collection My Life and Hard Times (a must read book, if you haven't read this) where in a chapter he recollects a childhood pet.  The chapter is called "The Dog that Bit People" and it's about their Airdale terrier named Muggs who was basically a terrorist to their friends and family.  A dog only his mother could love.  :)

Offline Fran

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Re: Animals In Our Lives
« Reply #833 on: September 22, 2011, 10:16:46 pm »
Marge, belated condolences on the loss of your Otis.  Never enough time....

Marge_Innavera

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Re: Animals In Our Lives
« Reply #834 on: September 23, 2011, 09:51:38 am »
Marge, belated condolences on the loss of your Otis.  Never enough time....

No there isn't -- for anybody -- but we had Otis for 16 years and we're very grateful for that.

I keep wondering if we would value those we love as much if we did have enough time. 

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Animals In Our Lives
« Reply #835 on: September 23, 2011, 10:55:29 am »
Well, I think we could continue our animals news banner with a whole new set of photos! I would love to see Otis and Max up there.  :'(  :-*
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Animals In Our Lives
« Reply #836 on: September 24, 2011, 03:10:42 pm »
No there isn't -- for anybody -- but we had Otis for 16 years and we're very grateful for that.

I keep wondering if we would value those we love as much if we did have enough time. 

I think positively on it.  A line from the Anne Rice's "vampire" novels said something along the line of "How deep could love grow if you had an eternity to nourish it."

Offline Fran

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Re: Animals In Our Lives
« Reply #837 on: September 24, 2011, 05:43:55 pm »
I'm pleased to report that cautious Ember has successfully completed her Shy Dogs class.  Life in the city was stressing her out and she was no longer enjoying her walks, so we sought help from the experts.  Early in the summer, she had some private in-home training sessions, and we followed them up with enrollment in a six-week Shy Dogs class which was taught by her trainer.  I can honestly say that Ember was the most "normal" dog in class.  She was definitely the teacher's pet.  


:)

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Animals In Our Lives
« Reply #838 on: September 24, 2011, 05:48:08 pm »
Did she get over her shyness? How do you know? Is/was she shy with people, with other dogs, or both?
Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Fran

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Re: Animals In Our Lives
« Reply #839 on: September 24, 2011, 07:31:17 pm »
Did she get over her shyness? How do you know? Is/was she shy with people, with other dogs, or both?

Lee, I think Ember will always have shy tendencies, but at least now we have ways to deal with them.

Ember has always been good inside the house.  Being outside was another story.  It was as if someone flipped a switch.  We got her when she was 4-1/2 months old, and I think she was under-socialized as a puppy.  In fact, on the day we went to get her, we almost left with her brother when I saw that she was acting shy.  The last thing I wanted was a shy whippet... but during our visit, she gradually got friendlier, so I figured she was just slow to warm up to people.  Plus, she was so darn cute.... Her breeder lives in a big house (with a huge yard) in a quiet suburb, and when Ember came to live with us, she was scared to death of traffic noise, the sound of the elevated trains, etc.  Plus, it was the dead of winter.  

While Ember does get to run around at least once a week in my mom's yard, her daily exercise is walking on leash on city streets.  From the get-go, she was frightened of dogs she did not know. The first trainer we had suggested that I let Ember lead the way.  For example, if another dog was approaching and Ember wanted to turn around and walk in the opposite direction, I should let her.  We did this for a time -- all the time treating her when she acted bravely -- but progress was very s-l-o-w and Ember never got to the point where she would confront anything that scared her.  Even stepping off of the sidewalk into the grass while the dog passed wouldn't give her the space she needed; she wanted to flee.  The second trainer was in favor of "flooding" Ember with the things she feared.  He told me that once she was a year old, it would be too late for her.  He suggested taking her to the dog park at a quiet time when well-behaved, calmer dogs were there.  On our first visit, I asked him if Ember could fit through the wrought-iron bars in the fence.  He assured me she couldn't, but we were only there a couple of minutes when Ember (off leash) somehow managed to get her body halfway through the bars (nearly giving me a heart attack because I feared she'd slip all the way through and get hit by a car). Fortunately, the trainer reached her before she squeezed all the way through the bars. We put her back on leash, but she clearly did not want to be there.  We had a second session with that trainer at the dog park, but Ember clearly wasn't enjoying it, and I decided that I didn't care if she ever went to a dog park.

This past spring, Ember was getting increasingly skittish while out on walks.  Any dog coming towards her would freak her out, and she would make every attempt to flee.  She also was acting scared when people walked by, but once they passed, she would turn around and attempt to jump up on them from behind.  Her outside behavior was starting to stress me out, and I knew I had to do something.  For a time, I thought about sending her away to "doggy boot camp" for a couple of weeks, but I'm glad I didn't because I don't think those programs work well with soft dogs like Ember.

I finally Googled "Shy dogs Chicago" and found her current trainer.  The goals were simple:  I just wanted Ember to be able to walk past people and other dogs while on leash without freaking out.  On the trainer's first visit with Ember, she told me, "Just watch.  In five minutes, I am going to be your dog's new best friend." She was right.  In five minutes, Ember was literally eating out of her hand and sitting next to her on the sofa.  Once Ember got comfortable with the trainer, we took the training outside.  Long story short, while outside, I gave Ember a treat (freeze-dried liver) whenever she looked at me.  Then, whenever a dog was within view, I would say, "Where's the puppy?" in a happy voice, and once Ember looked at me, she got a treat.  For bikes, buggies, people, loud noises from trucks, I would say, "What's that?" in a happy voice and give her a treat when she looked at me.  We practiced practiced, and practiced, and now we're at the point where Ember will look at me automatically -- most of the time -- when a dog or a person is approaching.  She has come to associate "scary" things with getting a treat, so she no longer flips into panic mode like before when she would be so upset that she couldn't take a treat.

The Shy Dogs class was good because it got Ember around other dogs in a controlled setting.  Since Ember had worked privately with the trainer, she was calm in class and the teacher would often use Ember to demonstrate concepts. She really was the teacher's pet.

My neighbors who own dogs are amazed by the change in Ember.  I have to admit that they have been very helpful with her late socialization and very good about keeping their dogs under control while Ember was still getting to know them and very good about giving Ember treats when she was brave enough to approach them.  So, so far, so good.