Loyal Lunatics

Whoever said dogs don’t have feelings is a lunatic.

Today on the news I heard about a loyal labrador  named Grace who stayed by its companion’s side after the other dog was hit by a car. The dog stood in the middle of the multi-lane road even though cars swerved and drove past. As Grace stood by her now dead companion, a good samaritan put cones up to block traffic. Eventually, animal control came and they are looking for the owner of Grace and the other dog, otherwise she will need to be adopted. I found the article here http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_20400328/loyal-labrador-stays-by-companions-side-after-la

This is a heart warming and heart breaking story, to think Grace’s best friend was hit and she wanted to stand by and not leave him. This is not uncommon. Dogs are very loyal to their companions, whether human or canine. If you search on youtube for dogs stay by companion or any other search terms similar, you will find endless videos and reports on dogs not leaving their owner or companions side when they are injured.

One of the most heart-breaking and famous stories is of a dog named Hawkeye who refused to leave a fallen Navy Seals side. He was killed in a helicopter crash and at the funeral Hawkeye walked up to the casket and with a heaving sigh laid down next to his cakset. The picture at the top of this entry shows the picture taken by the Navy Seal’s cousin. We can’t always speak the same language as our dogs, but they understand much more than people give them credit for, and their bonds with us go much deeper than we think.

Another dog, Sadie, stayed for 3 days near her owner when he got thrown from a boat and into a tree. The dog actually removed tree branches from on top of him, and licked his face, trying to revive him.  Other dogs have stayed by their owner’s graves for days, or a dead soldier’s side. Dogs give unconditional love, protection, and emotional support. Yes, sometimes it’s not the greatest time when you have to take your dog to the vet, or when you are walking your dog in sleet or rain, but it is worth it. Many times we do not recognize how amazing dogs are until dogs like Sadie and Grace show us. For those people who think dogs don’t have feeling or bonds with people are loyal lunatics. They are loyal meaning they don’t change their mind about animals or dogs even when the facts are in front of them. Dogs do have feelings, they are loyal, and do as much for us as we do for them.

Another Great Lesson & A Graduation

Today was graduation…not for me…but for Annie, another dog we work with. We are a close group, considering there are only 5 of us and we grow closer each day due to our shared experiences with our reactive dogs. Annie is a dog who isn’t aggressive. I am sure she would be if put in a situation where she HAD to be, but she’s really the opposite of Oreo is many ways. Instead of showing she is scared by growling, lunging, or barking, she will run. Most of the time her tail is tucked so far between her legs it looks like she doesn’t even have one. She bounces from person to person excited to get treats, her tail out in sight. As soon as she’s within a foot of a person the tail disappears again.

She was rescued in a field, found on the run. Every time her owner would pick something up, especially the newspaper her dog would run. Obviously Annie was abused in the past 😦  Her owner spent weeks trying to get her out of the corner of her living room from behind a recliner. She has made great strides. Now she can go up to people and perform tricks for treats. She doesn’t love other dogs, but can stand right next to them-as long as they don’t touch her. She has made so much progress she is graduating, and moving on to reactive rally!

Oreo had another wonderful day. We arrived and she was whinning to go play with the other dogs and see the people. Familiar dogs she is okay playing with now, at least the trainer believes so-makes me nervous but slow steps will help. She greeted everyone and we did a “hanging out” session, and Oreo did great, but now she just sits and whines because she wants to greet everyone! (Hey, it could be worse, she could be like her old self growling, lunging, barking, etc). She also learned the send off, a structured greeting for people (she did great!).The trainer said she may be able to do rally one day! I never thought!!

I still don’t see so much of a difference at home when walking (she still barking wildly at dogs, etc), but she is in the same neighborhood still she was in when she was attacked. So her situation here is the same, but within the next 6 months we are looking to move, and Oreo will have a big yard to run around in! Looking forward to the future, but enjoying the present!

It’s A Miracle!

It’s a miracle! Oreo is approaching 2 years old (next week), and today was amazing for her. She had a major breakthrough.

Let’s first start with 3 weeks ago. 3 weeks ago when we did “treat and retreat” (someone throwing treats to her from 10 ft away-starting that far away, then taking stepsback) she barked and started to lose it when the woman was 10 ft away. So the trainer, who Oreo trusts, stood next to the other woman throwing treats (she was a stranger). Oreo caught on, but didn’t show much trust.

2 weeks ago she made a best friend with one of the women who threw treats to her. She wouldn’t leave and go back to the car without her. She had to walk her back (walk next to us) for Oreo to move. Last week, Oreo woke up sick, wouldn’t take her medicine, so I knew it was bad. Then on the walk, she was eating grass, and threw up a few times. I think it may be due to allergies, so the training was out for the day.

Today, we did “treat and retreat” and Oreo did AWESOME! She was okay with 4 different women, did tricks for them, jumped up to them, pulled to get to them, and loved them! She hung out with a group of women around her, completely cool and relaxed. This would never have happened, even 2-3 weeks ago!!!

Not only was she comfortable with everyone there, she was comfortable with the dogs there!! We did “calming curves” and Oreo wanted to meet a mini pincher, so she did, sniffed and was amazing!!! She actually sat 1 foot away from the dog, and just watched, waiting patiently. She was so good! Then she wanted to play with him, but unfortunately, he wasn’t ready for that yet, so Oreo needs a new friend. We then did parallel walking with another dog and Oreo romped around trying to get to play with the other dog. She really wanted to play but I couldn’t let her 😦 The other dog doesn’t get along with dogs. Soooo the trainer said it is time for Oreo to find a play partner. She had one…the neighbor, but they moved. So I’m not sure. It’s scary to let go.

I’ll have to take baby steps with her. However, today she took a LEAP!!! Next time I want to work on her with men, that is her very big issue. However, today a neighbor at my parents (who she never met) was less than 10 feet away and she did amazing. I keep wondering what was different today. What did I do different that she did so well? I hope this progress keeps up!! Things are looking good! Hard work does pay off.

Levels of a Relationship

I continued reading and I have more to share! There are different levels of a relationship with a dog.

The first is the mechanical level. This is the level where someone will ask a dog to do something and they respond.Often time, when someone is on this level, they will use force. For example, someone will ask the dog to sit. If the dog doesn’t respond they will use force to push the dog down and pull the collar up. This level may help your dog with shows, or commands, but the good, soulful relationship is missing. This is not a partnership, this is forcing your will and needs upon the dog.

The next level is motivational, which many people are on. This is where you figure out what your dog wants, what motivates them. You learn more about your dog on this level, but some people take this level of a relationship into a bad area. They will use negative motivation. Suzanne uses the example of a person, and someone asking them to do something while waving cash in their face. A dog may also be motivated through fear, pain, or deprivation (such as shock collars, witholding affection/attention. Suzanne speaks of how she got stuck on this level for many years, not necessarily using negative punishment, but using treats/rewards and nothing else.

The third level is the spiritual level. On this level, you are not asking the dog to do something. You are asking yourself, “How do we accomplish this together?” Suzanne describes this in detail, but it is where you and your dog “do the dance”. Your dog is always watching you. From their eyes your motions and actions build or take away from their relationship. You must always be thinking of how things will impact your relationship with your dog. For example, if your dog hates getting tick preventative drops on them, and they run away, you need to think how will this impact my relationship with my dog if I force it on them. Well, really it will show them they can’t trust you, and you bring fear, not pleasure. So instead you might think of another way to prevent ticks, or figure out how you can work together to do this. It’s thinking as a team.

If you never get to the third level, it’s okay. You can still have a very loving relationship with your dog, but you will not have that full companionship. I find this true. In the beginning of my training and life with my dog, I started at the first level. I went to a standard puppy training class, where you ask the dog to do something, and they have to listen. Then I progressed to using motivation such as treats and toys to get the actions I wanted. At this stage things got hairy. Not just the dog, but the training. My dog started reacting towards people and dogs, especially after being attacked by another dog in the neighborhood on a walk.

I wasn’t listening to her. She would tell me she was afraid of walking outside, and afraid of dogs and people. She did this through freezing and through physical signs. I didn’t listen, and things got worse. Eventually I started researching, reading, and found an excellent trainer who holds similar views as Suzanne and myself. We started making recipes, building a basis (started trianing, building a relationship and basic skills). I fed her and said her name (associating her name with good things). I threw her treats to build a relationship and build the foundation, just like baking. Suzanne uses that in her book…if you start cooking or baking you build a basis with a cookbook, but eventually you don’t need the book, and you and and take away things based on the needs. Same with the dog. I built the basis, with things from a book, now I go to training and we do what she needs. I also listen to her now. She is much happier and I have seen lots of progress.

For example, outside today she laid on the porch. People walked in the distance and she just looked. A fly flew by, she tried to eat it. This may seem little, but she used to be terrified of flies. She would freak out and panic with big eyes jumping around, anxious and wouldn’t relax. She now is at peace at home, and on walks. She can walk around the neighborhood without freezing all the time, and can turn and walk away from other dogs on call. I believe this is because I am listening, our relationship has improved, and we built a basis to build upon.

Yes, Dogs Not Only Pray…But Smile Too!

I am currently reading a book called, If A Dog’s Prayers Were Answered, Bones Would Rain From the Sky” Deeping our relationships with dogs. Suzanna Clothier is inspiring. I have only read the first few chapters, but already love her, and her passion for relationships with animals.

She speaks of a friend who adopted a dog who came from a bad situation. The woman had previously had a dog all her life who behaved, grew up with her throughout her life, into teenage years and adulthood. The dog obeyed, was her partner and companion. This reminds me of my own life. I had a dog from 2nd grade until I was in college, then in adulthood adopted another dog after my first dog passed away. Anyway, the newly adopted dog had issues at training and with trainers. However, the real problem was not the dog, it was the trainers. These trainers would hold down dogs until they were submissive and the dogs peed themselves out of fear.

Many times we blindly follow trainers, thinking they know the best for our dog (I have done this). In the book, the dog runs away from the woman (it was a stray for a long time, and was in a shelter for over 6 months in a cage). The dog seems panicked and will run and not come back. On the advice of trainers, she did a shock collar, and the dog was terrified. It made the dog regress and the relationship between herself and her dog was torn apart.

Training is not really training, it is building a relationship with your dog. This makes me realize, as I have in real life, we must LISTEN to our dog, like Suzanne says. Our dogs are always sending us messages, talking to us, but most of the time we aren’t listening. We know when our dog is nervous and doesn’t want to do something. We know when our dog is excited. They talk to us. Not in human talk silly, but in dog talk. When they are nervous we see their tail go up, we see them get rigid and they look alert or freeze. We know when they are happy…YES dogs not only pray, but they smile too!

 Sometimes I admit I have not listened to my dog telling me things. For instance, my dog was telling me not bring her close to someone she was scared of, ears alert, tail up. Someone with me said that it was okay, don’t be such a worry wart, the dog will be fine. I listened of course, and it wasn’t okay. She freaked and I took her away. But the trust was gone there after a few times of not listening to her. Building a relationship takes time. I have taken time with her, and we rebuilt our relationship and it has blossomed. Suzanne tells in her book about how we should think about dogs. We should treat them like we want to be treated. We should think about our relationship with them such as, “What would you think if someone shocked you, or pinched you? Would you trust and like to be around them? Would you listen to them?” It’s true. What kind of relationship with our dog, who we love is that?

This woman’s story is very true to everyone in the world. Some people think of dogs as being “just dogs”. They are not just dogs. They have emotions, feelings, and even PRAY! They pray for things to fall when you are cooking. They pray to run in an open field. They pray for people to stop hurting them, or to get out of a cage. Like Suzanne says, their prayers are sometimes answered when we “accidentally” drop food. They communicate and pray, you can see it in their eyes! Haven’t you ever seen them just staring in the distance, or looking up at you as if they are seeing through you? Yep, they are praying!

I have so much more to say on so many topics brought up in the book. Suzanne has so many good things to say which I have mentioned! More to come later.

Not Your Normal Dog Class…

Went to my first reactive dog class! It’s not your normal dog class. For one thing, the dogs aren’t all out at the same time. You drive there. Strategically park your car somewhere around the “farm” and walk them around, then make sure they are comfortable, set, and they can’t see out the windows to other dogs. People take turns working on their dogs specific needs.

For instance, a dog that is people reactive was taken out of the car and walked along a path, while a person volunteered to walk next to the dog and owner, feeding him treats. I was told this dog was super people reactive, and actually bit the trainer once. But now, he has made so much progress, and even wagged his tail!! YAY!!

Everyone else watches and discusses. We also sat in a circle for a super shy dog and let her eat from our hands/toss treats without eye contact. This gave the dog some confidence and get them used to people. Another dog walked on the leash while a man walked along with them 10 feet away. The owner gave treats to the dog.

The students in the class pick what they want to work on, and everyone usually gets 2 sets of practice, or more depending on how many people are there. Some of these dogs have made great strides which makes me hopeful, but every dog is different. Next Saturday will be our first go at it! Makes me nervous, but excited to know there are other people out there. It’s like a support group, but real life controlled situations are put into place to help the dog and owner!

In other news…I have seen some progress with Oreo. She has had dogs barking at her and she had no reaction! No running, freezing, or barking. She acted like they weren’t there. She also looks at me sometimes when she is scared, which is the goal! Additionally, when we were on the back porch a painter was next door and came out-she didn’t bark at all-was just looking curiously! She also saw a dog at the mailbox and no barking!! (which is usually common for her). Seeing some good things. Now..that painter man was outside the front door talking to my husband and Oreo didn’t like that, she barked, whinned, and was very nervous. Same man..different situation…different reaction…

Also Oreo looks forward to wearing her thundershirt (it seems that way). The other day she came right up to me wagging her tail when she saw it! Like she was saying pleassssssssssse. On another note I will be starting teaching again, so will be home less, and have less time to train with her, but intend to definitely continue!

Last Training Session!

 

Oreo had her last training session! We started off discussing how she has been doing, and discussed how her new medication may be causing irritation around her eyes. She has been itching them and they are red :(. This could also be allergies, but has been new since the new anxiety meds have kicked in. I hesitate to post the medication’s name because anxiety medicine is a tricky game. Some medicines work get to aide in training with one day, and horrible with another.

We practiced focusing on me while she got out of the car. Now the trainer had her dog more than 50 feet away and Oreo got out the first time and did wonderfully when I called her name she focused on me and did tricks. Then back in the car to celebrate! YAY! Next, the trainer had her dog walking around instead of having their back towards her. This proved harder. We tried 2 times, then decided on a new strategy. It worked!! The first time at least….

The second time  she did look back at me quickly, did 1 trick, and in mid spin stopped, looked at the dog, then pulled to go into the training house. I don’t think she wanted to avoid the dog, I think she was thinking, “Geez can we stop this already?” We discussed what happened and went to do calming curves (taking a few steps toward the dog at a distance, then calling our dog’s name and hoping she turns). Well, she didn’t turn. She sat and watched the other dog…with interest???

The trainer asked if she should break protocol. I knew what that meant…bring the dog closer. She thought Oreo wanted to play. I agreed because she gave out little whiney sounds, which she does when she is excited to see another dog and wants to play. They neared each other and I became more nervous. Oreo went into her “stalking” pose, and I thought, “Uh oh,” although I shouldn’t have because she does this when she approaches her friends  (dogs she plays with). The trainer turned her dog around to sniff and we let Oreo sniff for a few seconds, then called her to turn around (more like I had to pull her a little). The second time we did this, she wasn’t even interested, she just sniffed around and looked around (YAY!!!! For Oreo, she realizes she doesn’t have to go crazy or get too excited, or even be interested in another dog!!).

We proceeded and Oreo did have a little lunge/out of control outburst, but only lasted a second and was composed. The trainer said, “What was that? I don’t know what that was?” It was like a loud whiney type thing while lunging. Anyways, she was okay after that, and even let the dog sniff her butt and walk by her on the side where she was attacked (YAY!!!). Also, later as we were talking the dogs both were okay just relaxing near each other and Oreo didn’t even seem interested!! YAYYYYY This is a big deal for her because she has never been “not intereseted” in another dog. When she was younger it was lunging to play, wouldn’t stop wanting to play, can’t stop playing..then after she was bitten it was growl, lunge, bark..get away!!! She has never relaxed with another dog around. YAYYY for Oreo!!!  She also layed down one foot away from the other dog who was standing near her!!! YAYYYY!! That is not the behavior of a reactive dog. Perhaps because she knew the owner??

I also noticed she walked away from a neighbor dog who she would sometimes interact with (yay!!!). Oreo is hopefully learned she can walk away instead of going crazy. So our training is not done, nor will it probably ever be done. It’s not easy, but it’s life! I am going to continue to work on some recalls, and one of them should help with her space issues (she stops a foot or more away from me), and work on getting out of the car & focusing with dogs around. Another thing I want to start is a routine when people come into the house. This will get Oreo used to people coming in, and know what to expect. Leaving her in a room when the doorbell rings, invite the guest in, get them comfortable. Do focus/trick exercises in the room, outside, have her leashed on a bed next to me with the person in the room or next room, and so on….I wasn’t pleased that she didn’t focus on me…but if she wanted to play with another dog…that’s okay with me!!!!!!!!

Just like Normal

Did you ever see the joy on dogs faces when they are playing with their best friend? I have, and it makes me forget that Oreo is reactive, just for those minutes, it’s as if she is the friendliest dog ever! She was just outside playing with her best friend, Boomer, a large dog who lets her jump on top of him and roll over and play ball. They share toys, run together, and lay next to each other. It is truely a sight to behold.

Oreo is afraid of strangers, and will even sometimes lunge/bark at them to try to ward them off. When she is playing EVERYONE is her friend. Even the scary neighbor guy who comes out with his dog. When she would once bark at him and lunge, she goes right up to him and all of the people outside for petting and playing. She even lets all of the older SCARY MEN pet her. It’s like magic, and it makes me feel happy to see her so happy and not worried. If every day could be like this! This bring up feelings of why? Why is she okay now, playing in the backyard, when other times she definitely isn’t?

The other day one of the scary neighbor men came right up to us and she had a fit, barking, lunging, and I’m sure if she was close enough she probably would’ve tried to bite him to make him go away he was so scary. We put her in the house, then minutes later took her out the back to play with her friend Boomer. A scary man was sitting next door with Boomer’s mom, and Oreo never met this man before–she went right up to him jumping up on him licking him loving the petting! What is up with that? Pehaps she has associated the back yard with good experiences, and good people? Who knows, but I wish it wouldn’t stop. Unfortunately her best friend boomer will be moving in less than 2 weeks 😦 So we have to savor the moments we have…

On another note I am proud of some of the little things I have seen from her. When she is tired of playing, she will walk away from Boomer or lay down. This is a smart decision for her because sometimes she gets over tired then gets snappy. Another thing I noticed was when the other neighbor’s dog came out she did not go over there. I actually think she knows this dog is super shy. It might sound weird, but I think she knows. She uses calming signals with this dog EVERY SINGLE TIME. When she seems him she automatically turns her head and lays down. If you haven’t read about calming signals you should definitely do that. She is trying to calm the other dog down (yay!). Usually she is the one out of control, but after hanging around this dog a few times at a distance, and having her friend Boomer around she has been more comfortable. Also, she was looking out the door and saw a dog coming, barked 2 times, then walked away. Yay! Small victories when there is a long way to go keeps you going…

Growing Up Dog

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.  ~Ben Williams

You heard it right. My best friend is my dog. When I was in second grade my parents got a west highland terrier puppy, we named her Snowy. She lived to be 19 years old!!! She was with me through all of the hard times and the good times too. Some people will just say that I’m crazy, but for those of you that know what it’s like to connect with a dog, they are a member of the family.

I always used to say, “Snowy is my favorite family member”, as I rubbed her head telling her it. Everyone would groan, “We know!” She would close her eyes slightly and smile. It became a joke, but it also showed how much she meant to me. When I was in elementary school and a boy on the bus would bully me, pull my hair, I had Snowy. I would go home and talk to her and tell her. My mom told me to ignore the boy, but Snowy just listened…and agreed. Well, I assume she agreed, she didn’t say anything.

When I was in middle school and trying to fit in with the cool crowd, I would come downstairs in a mini skirt and my mom would tell me to change. Snowy just came up and greeted me and said, “You look lovely.” Okay, she didn’t say it, but she didn’t say anything, she just looked happy to see me. When I came home crying because girls made nasty rumors about me, who was there? Snowy. She laid by my side and liked my face when I cried.

When I got my first job at Dunkin Donuts and I had to get up at 5am, who was there to greet me in the morning when I could hardly get out of bed? Who was there when I got home and opened the door exhausted? Snowy was there wagging her tail. She did not judge, she did not argue, she just listened. I made sure I told my family those things too.

I went to college and knew I would miss her. I rubbed her head goodbye and gave her a hug and kiss. By this time, she was slowing down and her eyesight was going. I felt bad to leave her, but knew that she always liked my mom best and would be in good company. I returned to finish college locally and saw her health slowly deteriorate.

It made me sad to see her move slower and stop playing. I gave her my bean bag for her to lay on close to fire. Hopefully that helped her rest. I remember coming home late one night, and finding her down the hallway. As I went to say hello, she growled at me. Snowy wasn’t usually a growler, so it startled me. I told her that its just me Snowy, and she stopped, realizing through her blindness I was approaching, and not a stranger.

At night she would bark, perhaps she had dementia. Perhaps she couldn’t see well and was afraid. Perhaps she had bad dreams. We thought she had to go outside to go the bathroom, and it became a routine waking up once a night. Eventually it progressed to a few times a night. My parents were miserable. I ended up getting a job after college and moving out, so I didn’t know what it was like to be woken up constantly. I would go visit my parents all the time and see Snowy. Her normal excitement to see me was gone, and she looked sad. When I say she looked sad I mean her tail didn’t wag much anymore and she just laid sleeping in the laundry room, on the dirty clothes.

She would growl at other dogs and had arthritis. We tried giving her pills to help her, but it didn’t seem to help. My mother would always say that she hoped Snowy would pass in her sleep, that one day she would go downstairs and find her peacefully “sleeping” in the laundry room. It stung everytime she talked about it. I told her Snowy would live forever, and was my best friend.

I knew she wouldn’t live forever, but didn’t want to face the fact that my best friend would be gone sooner than I hoped. I grew up with her, and she was there for me. I remember going to the Poconos and it was about a week before I would be going on vacation to Las Vegas. As my mom played cards with a friend, I went into the dark bedroom to find Snowy laying on the ground. She didn’t look happy, so I went and laid next to her with my arm around her, petting her and telling her I love her and what a good girl she was. I remember my mom looking at me and talking to her friend. I knew she was talking about me and the dog, and I knew she was thinking of putting her to sleep.

My mom asked many times if we (someone in the family) would go with her to put the dog down since she was miserable and hurting. I said no and so did everyone else. We didn’t really mean we wouldn’t go, we just thought mom wanted to go soon, so we all thought that saying no would delay the process. I packed up for vacation and said goodbye to my parents. As I left out the door, I saw Snowy laying in the laundry room looking at me. I waved and said goodbye. As I stepped down from the door,  something stopped me. I froze for a second and thought that maybe I should go pet her and say goodbye. Deciding against this, I knew I would see her when I came back.

Arriving home from vacation, I went to my mother’s for dinner. She was still in the Poconos, but was packing up to come home. I walked in the door and automatically looked to the left for Snowy. “She’s in the Poconos, ” I thought. I figured I would hang out and wait for my parents to return for dinner. Needing a drink, I went into the kitchen and noticed Snowy’s bowl was gone. “Hmm, that’s strange”, I thought. “No, they couldn’t have, must have taken it to the Poconos, or they must be cleaning it”. My fiance was with me and I told him out loud that the bowl was not there. I think I knew it then.

Moving to the living room, I looked for the bean bag I had given her many years before, so that she was comfortable. She would always move around in circles, creating an indent on the bean bag perfect for her shape. The bean bag was GONE. I increased my pace, now a fast walk to the laundry room. No dirty clothes down there for her to sleep on. I jogged around the house looking for toys. No toys. “It couldn’t be, she couldn’t have”, I thought.

I immediately called my mom and her voice sounded very surprised that I beat her to the house. She then told me what she did. She took the dog by herself, while everyone was at work to the vet to put her to sleep. She sat alone, in the waiting room with Snowy, while Snowy shook in her arms. Snowy always shook in the waiting room, terrified. I can imagine her shaking with fear, and my mom crying in the waiting room, holding her, trying to tell her everything would be okay, while tears of guilt and saddness of what was to come streamed down her face. I can imagine my mom bringing her in, crying to the vet,  and Snowy thinking it was just another shot or puff of air for another vaccine. I can see the vet putting the puff up her nose of air that would soon put her to sleep while my poor mom watched our family member slowly drift away.

I can’t imagine the horrible images that day has left in my mom’s memory. It is a hard decision to put a dog to sleep, and harder to do it yourself, with no one there. The day still haunts me and I can’t believe my mom had the strength to go herself. I still cry, in fact I’m crying as I write this. It must be the worst feeling in the world watching the one you love dying, and by your choice. I know she was miserable and hurting and went to a better place, but I miss her. For years afterward I would look into the laundry room at my parents house when I walked in the door thinking she was still there. Sometimes I still slip up and call my new dog Snowy.

I know this blog is about reactive dogs, and I have a new dog now who brings me joy, but I write this because it upsets me when I see things in the news about people shooting their dogs or other horrible things. People who say dogs don’t have feelings must never have spent time with a dog. When we brought our new dog Oreo home, she cried and howled as a puppy. She was lonely. When she is hurt she cries and screams. When she is scared her eyes get real big and she freezes. When she wants attention she barks or stares at us. I think with reactive dogs you also see more emotion. The highs are very high, with her jumping around uncontrollably zooming, and her lows of freezing when she is scared or lunging and barking out of control in order to scare away whatever is scaring her.

 Yesterday I had a conversation with her. Well, not quite, but I would say something, and she would give me a little bark back. This continued for a few minutes. I wanted to youtube it, but figured most dogs do this sometimes. Whether people want to admit it or not, dogs have feelings and deserved to be treated like family members.

Dogs are miracles with paws.  ~Attributed to Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy