One of the reasons I love dogs is their capacity to give, especially to us humans. My adopted rescue dog still shows me how happy she is that we found each other at the SPCA. From the start we worked to build up Cleo's confidence in us, that we were a permanent family.
It took lots of practice of leaving Cleo in the living room with the words "wait here, I'll be right back" and closing the front door, for a few minutes at a time, before we could open that door and see a happy face. At first Cleo barked, howled, and cried on the other side of the door, or tried to block us from leaving in the first place. It was heartbreaking.
After many practice sessions we eventually got her to wait for us with only a mild case of stress panting. I learned that my dog is not interested in hanging out by herself. I also learned that though she was already three years old when we adopted her, rather than being wary and standoffish, she was eager to trust and bond with us immediately. Eight years together, she is still quick to forgive whenever I make her wait on her own.
Watching my old dog now curled up contentedly nearby, this story of Gideon the pit bull affected me deeply. How people can neglect and abandon a dog is beyond me. The fact that Gideon was microchipped and his people's contact information was current, yet when contacted they still chose to discard him like an unwanted toy is nauseating. Fortunately for you, I only share stories that inspire, educate or entertain - and this Huffington Post story touches the part of me that remains optimistic about the future of mankind. You'll be glad you read it.
There is no secret to happiness, or a happy life with an older dog. Happiness is a choice. Deciding to create and build a happy life with an older dog is also a choice. After her diabetes diagnosis, I chose to find positive life lessons. As Cleo lost her eyesight, I learned that focusing on the joy of our day-to-day life today is better than giving in to anticipatory grief. I chose the red pill and our life together is the better for it.
Red Pill or Blue Pill.
Having and loving my own senior dog, and being a long time supporter of San Francisco-based Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, this story about the joy older dogs bring to your life makes my day! [See: Senior Dog of the Week Adoptions] Social media is again shown to be a great medium to increase awareness about senior dogs abandoned in shelters and why they deserve our loyalty instead. Read this story about a movement and campaign in New York to save older dogs[...]
Could you imagine falling ill and being hospitalized away from your family for weeks and weeks? As you mend your physical body, the toll on your emotional health is bound to be tough. You are separated from loved ones, and all the routines and familiar faces that make a house a home. Now imagine that family included a beloved dog or cat? If it was me, I would be trying to convince my husband to help my dog Cleo Skype with me. Stat.
Read about a hospital in Omaha that has a new program that is better than any Google Hangout or Skype [...]
Why am I a human-animal bond evangelist? Because of dogs like this little Chihuahua, China Girl. She has been doing her best to give enough love to her papa to help balance the grief he is feeling for losing his wife to a brain tumor.
Dogs like her come in a tiny package, but manage to display an enormous quantity of fierce love and compassion. How does she know he'll benefit from her expression of love? Is there a smell we give off that only they can detect? We've seen the stories of dogs sniffing out drugs, low blood sugar or even cancer cells.
Dogs make us human
Given the connection I feel with my dog Cleo, I wasn't surprised last year when I read how new research showed the bond between humans and dogs might be more ancient than previously believed, going back not 10,000 years but three times that figure.
Dog lovers know that valentines and affairs of the heart, aren't just between people. There are a number of poems out there celebrating the love between human and dog. To honor our bond, I've found this poem by Kipling that had me shedding a few tears, but also made me smile when I imagined my dog Cleo waiting impatiently for me.
Read this beautiful poem, and tell me if your heart doesn't feel a little better afterwards in the comments [...]
As an open dog lover, I sometimes wonder how that came about. Was I born that way? Is it a choice? Was it the result of my being exposed to our first puppy as a child? I had such a positive experience that I was hooked on canines? I wonder...
Given that dogs can be loud, dirty and demanding, why are we continually drawn to them?
Having my own experiences with my dog Cleo, I believe in a dog's intuition. Their ability to rapidly sense changes in our behavior, and the environment around them is incredible. Read this wonderful example of therapy dogs in Oregon who are using their intuitive skills to help both hospice patients, and their grieving families[...]
It doesn't take much to see across the US how far we've come in the argument that spay and neutering of animals helps reduce the numbers of homeless animals. The ASPCA lists ten reasons here why it's a good idea for most cats or dogs. San Francisco residents can get low cost, or if you you've a pit bull or pit mix dog free, spaying or neutering.
In Fukushima, Japan, however it is still common for people to drown a litter of unwanted newborn pets, rather than spay or neuter their animals.
“Vets usually charge inflated prices for neutering and spaying. Many people don’t have the funds for it and we don’t want to force it on them,” Yamasaki says. “But, through being open with our activities at the spay clinic, we can show people it’s possible to perform the operations at a low cost. Our volunteers are working to change the attitude of the local people — even if we can’t change the authorities.”
With vets and clinics supporting this outdated notion, in a developed nation, what can people do to positively influence behaviors about spay-neuter?
As our dog progressively lost her vision, we adjusted. I adopted the habit of stepping between her head and obstacles, while trying to teach her the word "stop" means stop now, not after 5-10 more steps forward. She has always been stubborn, alpha-like and clumsy. I decided in the beginning that I would discover a balance between embracing her unique personality, while modifying her behavior if it gave her manners or added to her personal safety. Important issues for a big dog in a big city. We needed to do everything to keep her safe from being hit by a car to discarded chicken bones on the sidewalk.
Now that Cleo's vision is almost completely gone, I've learned some important lessons about caring for an elderly blind big bossy dog.[...]
Reading about dogs is something I never tire of. These amazing creatures comfort us, protect us, and make us laugh. Sometimes it seems without effort. Dogs don't hold grudges. If a dog loves you, they love you with no filters or hesitation. This year we've seen and read stories of dogs saving lives, comforting weary travelers, helping kids learn to love reading, and helping veterans live a good life. Whatever we ask of them, dogs step up again, and again.
Let's look back at some of my favorite stories from 2013 featuring dogs, being the amazing creatures that they are [...]