The joy I find in being around dogs is immense. We speak the same language. Their way of processing life around them is a wonder to behold, and the old dogs in particular inspire me. I love watching them problem-solve. That is one reason I went to Muttville Senior Dog Rescue last weekend to become a hands-on volunteer.
If you are new to Grouchy Puppy or my dog blog, you may not know that I live in San Francisco and have been involved with Muttville for many years. I discovered them when I was looking for a local animal nonprofit who stood out in their focus, and results. With my own dog at the time a beautiful senior dog, I was hooked by Sherri's commitment, and impressed by her success finding old dogs homes. Six years later, Muttville is a model for rescues across the country!
Dogs need manners. All dogs need to understand basic commands for their own safety, whether they live in the city or country. Our front door faced the street. One of the first commands we taught our new dog was "wait", to prevent her from dashing out after another dog, or the man in brown into the busy avenue and possibly a car.
I believe strongly in reward-based training. It was clear from the start our dog responded to positivity more than aggression or dominance. Her strong desire to be with us, and her obvious delight when she pleased us was mutually rewarding.
"It is more parsimonious to interpret dogs’ behaviour as if they were simply trying to maintain access to essential resources, perhaps the most important being, uniquely for this species, access to one or more human attachment figures."
As my friend Debbie Jacobs (FearfulDogs.com) reminds us regularly, dog training is a unregulated industry. Therefore, I was glad to read the Psychology Today article, "Dominance" in Dogs-Again, by John Bradshaw, Ph.D.
In addition to the wonderful quote above, Dr. Bradshaw explains clearly why, in my view, we do a great disservice to dogs, writing:
“So it is suggested that Dominance Theory, when applied to dog training, may serve as a self-reinforcing hypothesis: by using physical force, the owner elicits an aggressive response from the dog, which in turn is interpreted as a sign of dominance; alpha-rolls and other forms of physical confrontation may actually increase the risk of an aggressive responses from the dog”.
The dogs of today don't need to be dominated to learn how to be a wonderful companion. At a minimum, dogs want companionship, even the street dogs of Turkey I met wanted access to humans in a comfortable format.
Teaching a dog basic manners doesn't have to be through aggressive techniques. We can do better. Positive reward-based training allows you to show a dog why it's worth it to listen and learn from you. It worked for us.
- Sharon Castellanos
What about you, do you trust the accuracy of Dr. Bradshaw's canine science?
If you ever wanted to feel what love and warmth is like when given by a big old senior sweetheart, you are in luck! Having just snuggled up with this cutie in the doggy loft, I can confirm you will know why senior dogs rule when you meet this Great Pyrenees girl.
Can you imagine a big and beautiful girl like Sydney wandering around as a stray with no home to call her own? We sure can’t, because she’s one of the nicest, most easy going and gentle dogs you will ever meet!
Sydney likes to take her time warming up to new people and places and we don’t blame her one bit.
She can’t wait to find a mellow, quiet home to spoil her rotten during her golden years.
We think Sydney is 10 years young, weighing about 85 lbs.
Fall in love with her at Muttville on Rescue Row in San Francisco!
Fabulous Fabio is Muttville’s newest heart throb! Not only does he have rugged good looks, he has a great personality to match. He likes meeting new people and dogs wherever he goes, and makes a wonderful walking companion. A stray no longer, Fabio is ready to find his forever home!
Here’s what Fabio’s foster mom has to say about this special guy:
“He is housebroken … He is very lovable and wants to be directly next to you at all times. A sweet lap dog for sure! He’s very sweet and mellow. He gets a long with my two other dogs, goes on hikes and can still keep up with the younger pups. He is also very happy to cuddle all day.”
We think Fabio is between 8-10 years young, weighing about 12 lbs.
Fabio’s adoption fee has been sponsored by an adoring fan!
Meet him at Muttville on Rescue Row in San Francisco!
Acknowledging, and appreciating, the unique companionship dogs offer humans is what sets us apart, individually and as a community. I also believe how we treat dogs reflects our culture, and our own humanity.
If you see a dog as your baby, than it's likely you'll care for them as a parent. With my dog, we treated her sometimes as a roommate, expecting her to contribute to the household, yet letting it slide when she left behind a mess after dinner.
What if you see dogs as roaming animals? While in Turkey last year, in some places I saw dogs tied up outside with, and without, shelter or water. They roamed city streets, sometimes wary and hesitant around people, while at other times a dog seemed quite comfortable being near strangers.
My experience in Turkey showed me that generally the Turkish people weren't cruel towards dogs, but they also were unlikely to bring a dog into their home as a companion. It was fascinating to observe and think about because, as you can see from the photo above, we Americans couldn't stop ourselves from getting close to the dogs, willing them to engage with us.
A compassionate response to the homeless pet population should include educating people about the joy found in writing the last chapter in the life of a senior dog. It should include supporting seniors for seniors programs, getting more communities to offer pet food pantries, and subsidized veterinary care for low income people.
Any of those would be helpful and constructive, real, ways to save dogs lives because you really care about dogs.
Today, under the category "animal lovers" I was surprised to read this: "People who really care about dogs pass by breeders and pet shops and save lives instead by adopting their best friends from animal shelters."
Simplistic, broad statements like this one are the worst, because they are shame-based. Do you really believe anyone who is shamed into an action has a positive experience? And wouldn't you want the act of bringing a pet into your life to be a positive experience so that it happens more than once?
What is the point of shaming someone into adopting a dog, if your goal is to get them to adopt their best friend?
We think Squirt is between 12-14 years young, weighing around 10 lbs.
Due to Squirt’s advanced age and health issues, Muttville is currently looking for a loving fospice home for this special boy.
We are seeking a fospice (foster-hospice) home for Squirt 3624 so he can live his remaining life to its fullest in a loving home. If you are interested in joining Muttville’s Fospice Program Team as a Volunteer or a Fospice Home, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet him at Muttville on Rescue Row in San Francisco!
Get ready for a spectacular evening of dancing and dining in support of San Francisco SPCA animals!
The Bark & Whine Ball is presented by Critter Lovers at Work (CLAW), an all-volunteer nonprofit with the mission to support the SF SPCA. All proceeds from the evening will benefit homeless animals.
“Dress yourself and your furry friend in your finest and join us,” invites Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, co-president of the SF SPCA. “Your contributions will help homeless animals in need of urgent and extraordinary care get the treatment they need.”