Friday, August 24, 2012

Dogs and kids

I have three dogs, a foster dog, a 20 year old cat and a two year old daughter.   Crazy, right?    I take my 2 year old daughter to the rescue events. She can be seen sitting in the puppy pen with puppies on any given Saturday out in front of a Petsmart.    We walk our dogs daily, and yes... Ella walks Odie who happens to be a 95 lb German Shepherd.  

Which brings me to the question I get asked more than anything else-

Are your dogs good with kids? 
Yes, my dogs are great with this kid... Ella.  Believe me, it didn't just happen overnight.   Now Ella- she still has some training to go.   Did I just throw Ella into the mix and expect everyone to get along.   Ummm, no.   We didn't do any of the fancy introduction stuff when Ella was born.  We did not bring her dirty diapers home to the dogs before we brought our newborn little princess home, or her umbilical cord as some people suggested.  That was a little much for me.   We just brought her in in her little carrier and quietly put her down on the ground for everyone to see and sniff.   I am not saying this is what everyone should have to know your own pack and what works, but this worked for us.   At the time, we had two shepherds and two poms and they all looked, some sniffed, a couple of kisses were given and that was pretty much it.   Our life changed a little...the dogs had to learn to walk around the stroller, the love was spread out over one more creature, but things were still good. And then- she started getting around on her own.  Three of four of the dogs learned to scatter.  Our youngest dog, Violet learned how to play with Ella.   We immediately started teaching mutual respect from all parties.   In reality, it is a two way street between kids and dogs.   As soon as Ella could understand we started teaching her that you must be gentle and slow around dogs and that if you hurt a dog, they will hurt you back, and they have bigger teeth. 
I also STRONGLY believe that you should NEVER teach a dog to not growl at a child.  I think you should teach a child that if a dog growls, back off.   Odie growls at Ella often.  Actually much less now that she is a more seasoned dog girl, but how else could he tell her that he didn't want her pulling his tail, or coloring on his feet, or whatever else she thought was cool.   The truth is, Odie stayed out of her way for most of two years.   Now that Ella is a little more predictable in her movements and actions, he is ok to be petted and loved by her.   He was however, always quietly her protector. 
So, when people call the rescue and say they want to turn in their dogs because their dogs aren't getting along with their kids, or they don't like the baby... I say... get in there, do the work.   Of course the dogs don't like the baby.   She is taking some of their attention.  She screams.  She takes food out of their bowls.   She is a pain.  But you know what else?
Ella has these amazing creatures in her life that are teaching her respect and patience.   She also has buddies to play with... and play they do.  Violet and Ella wrestle.  They play chase.  They cuddle and sleep together.   They actually make my heart bigger just watching them love each other.   These are things that every child should have.  
Dogs and kids do mix.   Are my dogs good with all kids.  No way.  I keep my dogs close to me when we are around other kids and if someone wants to pet my dogs, they have to obey the rules of mutual respect.  
And I will keep teaching Ella the same thing that my dogs teach her every day... kindness and mutual respect will take you far in this life kid.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Protecting our dogs from the heat

It is HOT here in Southern California.   I live in a Coastal area and it is HOT, so I know it is hot, hot, hot out there.   It was so hot that when I got up to take the dogs out for a quick walk this morning, 3 of the 4 opted out.   They just laid where they were and looked at me.   Considering that normally when I get close to where the leashes are they go crazy, I realized that the heat really gets to them. 

I started thinking about all the warnings you see about keeping your dogs cool, making sure they have water, making sure they have shade...and I couldn't help but think about some of the dogs out there who, on a normal day get the bare minimum they need to survive, let alone thrive.   How are they fairing today? 

As I wet down my dogs  and put ice cubes in their water dishes for the third time today, I worried about the dogs out there. 

I think MOST people know that you cannot leave your dog in the car when it is hot...but what about the dogs who live in the yard?   Did you know that the temperature on a slab of cement can get so hot in the sun it can actually burn a dogs feet?   I mean like, blisters burn!   And asphalt is worse.  So bring your dogs in, and only walk early in the morning or later in the evening. 

Did you know that dogs can die from overheating in a garage?   A garage can get so hot that even with water available, dogs can die from overheating in a very short period of time.   Can you imagine?   How horrible.   Locking a dog in a garage in the heat can be as deadly as a hot car.   Bring them inside.

So add GSROC to the list of people sending out warnings about protecting your four footed babies from the heat.   Give them extra water, extra shade, and remember... you are responsible for their lives AND their comfort.   

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Guest blogger-middle aged cuban girl: a "thing" for German Shepards...

middle aged cuban girl: a "thing" for German Shepards...: Not too hard to figure it out really, having "volunteering for the German Shepard Rescue of Orange County " make #2 on my Fifty Things ...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Leaving your dogs with a petsitter

I have been volunteering with German Shepherd Rescue for more than a decade.   That is a lot of years, a lot of homeless dogs, a lot of leaving dogs behind at a shelter because the sad truth is that we just cannot save them all.  
So, you would think I would have a pretty thick skin when it comes to leaving my dogs behind for a few days while I take a much needed trip.   However, this is not even close to the case.   I am only slightly embarrased to admit that leaving my dogs behind causes me so much anxiety that I have to wonder if it is even worth it.   So, I do what any neurotic poochie mommy does... I plan.  
I am leaving for them for 4 days.   I have a petsitter who I have known and loved for almost 8 years.   She came this week and spent three hours hanging out with us and the dogs, so they know she is a good person and we love her.   As I was going over the schedule, where they eat, who gets what food and what supplements, who gets fed first, who sits where, who sleeps where, what time they go to bed, what time they get up... etc, etc... I saw her eyes glaze over.   I know it is excessive.   I also know there will be 5 pages of these details left out in writing for her to refer to. 
So, I thought I would put together a few "must do's" if you are leaving your pet with a petsitter. 

  • First, make sure the petsitter is someone you can trust with your babies.  Check references.  Get a reference from his/her vet.  How they treat their dogs may be an indication on how they will treat your animals.  

  • Have the petsitter come over and meet your pack and see how they interact with him/her.  

  • Give your petsitter a number of a friend or family member who has a key to your house in case of an accident or emergency and she can't come. 

  • Leave out an extra bowl of water.  

  • Lock your gates.  If you don't keep your gates padlocked all the time (which you should with dogs) make sure you padlock it when you are going to be gone. 

  • Leave a written list of instructions.  Even if you have verbally gone over everything with the petsitter, make sure you leave instructions for her to refer to. 

  • Do a double check of your home and pick up things that your dogs may get into if they are bored (or mad at you for leaving them) that they wouldn't normally bother with. 

  • Ask your petsitter to text you pictures daily so you know all is ok, and you get to see their smiling faces.  

I hope you are like me, and as soon as you pull out of the driveway, you relax a little.   You did everything you could to make sure the babes are well cared for and safe... and they get so much love all the time.  After all, maybe they need a vacation, too.