Thoughts about old dogs, and a few special dog stories from 2019

As 2019 closes, I’d like to share a few dog stories from the doggy loft I visit every week on Rescue Row, in San Francisco. From my earliest years, dogs have been my favorite teachers, and best friends. This year, I’m particularly thankful for the optimistic attitude of dogs, in addition to their ability to be both simultaneously silly and affectionate. If I’m being honest, I’m still recovering from the massive invasion we had during the summer from Boston Terriers. Mostly though, I have finished many a volunteer shift with the oldsters feeling more inspired and calm than when I started. 

Enjoy these dog stories, and at the end, I’ve added a short list of inspired thoughts that came from another year helping in the doggy loft. Please share your own in the comments, and any special dog moments from your year, I’d love to read them - Sharon Castellanos 

Ay Chihuahua! Since I began volunteering in the doggy loft at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue three years ago, I have met more chihuahuas than I can count! They have been funny, scrappy, scared, fluffy, fat, skinny, silly, and shy. Boys and girls have expressed patience, frustration, crankiness and an unstoppable flow of affection. One little lady I met in January this year, Ginger Rogers, grabbed my attention and compassion all at once. She began her time with Muttville wanting attention while being left alone. She’d snap at people and other dogs alike if she felt like it. But she also could make you laugh out loud. I was on hand to help feed her breakfast several times and she would take turns eating, and lifting her tiny lip to snarl at me. When she was done, I would often be offered her butt for a brief soft scratch. This exchange brought me so much joy.

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Seeing her figure out how to be close to me, to show me her version of affection so soon, was heartwarming. Over many months, Ginger slowly blossomed, in her own unique way. I was on the receiving end of several tiny kisses, and a quick snuggle or three, before she fell in love with a member of the Muttville staff and went home. I’m so thankful she found a place like Muttville filled with people who gave her the chance and space to shed her worries and welcome in all the love and care she deserved.

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Fluffy dogs come in all makes and models. Having had the experience of living with, loving and caring for a small dinosaur, also known as a shepherd husky dog, I never really knew what Pomeranians, miniature poodles, papillons or corgis were all about. We get many of these dogs or blended fluffy versions coming through the doggy loft. Who knew fluffy dogs came in so many types and sizes? What has been a gift this year is getting a chance to experience these dogs. You get some really beautiful examples of true sugar faces from the darker fluffs. Also, I can’t tell you some of the funny expressions on these dogs faces just because of a little contrasting hair! If you ever watched Seinfeld, I’m describing some dogs who could give Uncle Leo’s eyebrows a run for their money. My dog had three layers of fur to shed, which gave me a chance to use many different types of grooming tools. I am happy to report that I have been fortunate enough to get a chance to have my share of brushing parties this year after breakfast, with many satisfied customers.

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The blind and wobbly. How endearing is it to have a dog get up and teeter over for some love from a stranger, first thing in the morning? I am astonished every morning I walk into the doggy loft and a blind or vision impaired dog works their way towards the sound of my voice and greetings. I mean sure, the smell of breakfast or the sound of metal food bowl would be one sure way to get any dog’s attention, but a loud lady chirping “good morning” and “how did you sleep” to mostly dogs she has never met, is a crap shoot for getting a blind dog to respond. All year I have been thankful for periodic reminders from these dogs to never give up, to persevere and to keep my sense of humor. They show me how to live each day to the fullest, and taking it slow is not a bad idea or anything to be embarrassed about. I love their joyful expressions, and appreciate their fierce displays of optimism!

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I am reminded this year that dogs are still one of my favorite sources of life lessons! Here are some thoughts and inspiration gained from dog encounters (mostly in the doggy loft) in 2019:

- Dogs are really good at teaching you how to take every ounce of compassion and affection that crosses your path.

- These incredible companions of ours show us what is important, and to move towards your goals one small step at a time.

- No matter how old or impaired you get, never lose your sense of humor!

- Don’t let distractions, like the sounds and smells of other dogs, get in your way. 

- Even if you can’t see exactly where you are going, keeping moving forward.

Oh, also naps are your friend, and learn to delete really old dog photos from your smartphone because no one needs over 15,000 of them at any given time.

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A final inspiring note from 2019: This adorable fluff came into Muttville and immediately showed us all why senior dogs really do rule. If you get a chance, stop by their website, visit them in person, or subscribe to their newsletter. You will read more dog stories and discover more about how to live life to the fullest by these sweet sugar faces and grey muzzles.

 

 

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Wow 😳 It’s been ten years since an adopted dog inspired the launch of Grouchy Puppy

A walk in nature, an art exhibit, the autobiography of an inventive person? Where do you draw inspiration? Have you ever been inspired by a dog?

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Ten years ago, a big, older dog, who found her way from the country and into our hearts, inspired the creation of Grouchy Puppy. To many, this may not come as a surprise given how popular dog pages are on Facebook, in Twitter feeds, and how many dog Instagram stars and influencers there are today. However, ten years is a long time ago in dog years and definitely in social media years!

November 9 is Grouchy Puppy Day

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Celebrating dog adoption, big adult dogs, and a Grouchy Puppy muse

On the fifth anniversary of her passing, and ten years after we adopted her from the San Francisco SPCA, I’ve written a letter to my Grouchy Puppy muse. November is a big month here. November is Adopt A Senior Dog Month, in addition to these two auspicious anniversaries. Dog adoption, and adopting a big adult dog in the city changed my life in such a profound way, it felt right to send a virtual thank you to the shepherd husky responsible. 

Dear Cleo:

Thank you. It has been five years since you went on ahead, and though we miss you every single day, I have gained so much insight about people and dogs since your passing.

Image from GrouchyPuppy.com
Best Big Dog Ambassador Ever

I am so grateful we chose to adopt you. Our life together forever positively changed my views on dogs, what you can expect from life with a dog, and I realize that loss is not something to avoid or be afraid of.

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Free Giveaway: Celebrate National Dog Day + 10 Years of Grouchy Puppy 🐶

We can’t think of a more fun way to celebrate National Dog Day, and a decade of celebrating how the human animal bond is demonstrated by dogs and those who love them than with a free giveaway!!

Starting August 26th, visit Grouchy Puppy on Instagram to enter, and one lucky winner will get a sweet picture book about puppies by animal activist and amazing photographer, Seth Casteel. 

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[From Amazon] Follow several irresistible puppies as they play, go for walks, eat, sleep, and romp about adorably. Readers will be captivated by the incredible photography paired with witty text to illustrate a day in the life of a dog. Although written especially for young readers, this book will appeal to kids and adults of all ages, from tweens and teens to hipster parents and doting grandparents. 🥰

 

WINNER WILL RECEIVE:

A hardback book edition of It’s A Puppy’s Life by Seth Casteel

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Muttville Cuddle Club: Where Older Dogs Give Love Get Love(d) by Seniors

There are more older people who are life long dog lovers than ever before! These folks are positively influencing senior facilities and retirement centers to accept dogs either as residents, or at least as regular visitors, and I’m here for it!

Another important issue is that as we age, a dog lover may reach a point when they can’t take care of a dog, but they still enjoy giving and getting the canine affection. They intrinsically appreciate the human dog bond.

A very sweet way to access the love and affection from a dog is cuddling and for those in the San Francisco Bay Area, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue offers Cuddle Club!

 

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Dog lovers in Denmark and Danish “hygge”

To many of us, actually millions of people according to trade associations, dogs mean everything. We love them more than most people. We spend more on our dogs than we do on ourselves. We care about their wellbeing and spend tons of time and money making sure they live their best lives with us. After spending a week in Denmark recently, I can confirm the Danish feel this way too.

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Last month, I went to Copenhagen and experienced the best of Scandinavia. Spring was beginning with longer hours of blue skies, fewer wool layers, and many people riding their bikes with their dogs! I saw dogs on walks, in cars, inside department stores, and at cafe tables. I even watched one wait patiently until his person returned from having a drink inside a bar. 

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GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND'S GRADUATIONS OFFER UNIQUE EXPERIENCE FOR ALL

Do you live in the Bay Area? Do you have an animal lover or dog person who loves to see how dogs positive influence our lives? There are free graduations happening this fall at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael.

These moving events are open to the public and are inspirational and family-friendly for all ages. I think they make for a wonderful weekend excursion and a great way to learn more how dogs give fearlessly!

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How the human animal bond motivates us: Creating a lap bed

Readers and followers of Grouchy Puppy know that we celebrate how the human dog bond is demonstrated. The examples we find are a wonderful testament to the enduring positive influence dogs have on us. This inspiring story came out of wanting to soothe both her dog and cat while undergoing painful radiation treatment for breast cancer.

Five years ago, at one of the lowest points of her life, Tammy Olley came up with the idea for a unique pet bed.

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Every day after work, I would go to my radiation treatment and then drive an hour and a half home. My days were long, and the radiation made me so tired and sore. My cat had always slept on or against my legs, but at that time I was so sleep deprived and achy that as much as I loved her, I just wanted her off of me.

While laying on the radiation table I came up with the MYLAP pet bed design method, which allowed adding scent to the bed. After I had my prototype made, I began testing it out on my cat and I noticed that my dog, who has every kind of anxiety including separation anxiety, was starting to steal the bed. I realized it calmed him as well, and I began finding him sleeping on it more and more...

This unique bed allows you to add your scent to the fabric of the bed while providing your little buddy with the comforting shape of a warm lap. 

Innovational Pet Product LLC is women-owned small business, with Tammy as the only employee at this time which means all of these beds are proudly assembled in the USA.

Learn more about how the love for her pets, even in her darkest hour, inspired Tammy, and where to buy this homey little bed > here <

 

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Want to feel good about helping give an older dog a second chance at a happy life?

Whenever I volunteer at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue there always seems to be Kodak moments with the dogs. These sweet adoptable dogs caught my eye last year with their loving manner, soft and welcoming expressions, and ability to make me laugh.

Do you need a dose of oxytocin, or a shot of endorphins? Want to feel good about helping give an older dog a second chance at a happy life? Have a few hours in your week to offer?

 

You’ll get love, when you give love (and a little elbow grease), each time you help Muttville mutts! 

Learn more here.

Foster. Adopt. Donate. Volunteer.

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Hey! It's National Grouchy Puppy Day!

November 9th is a big day around here! Today is the day one fluffy, large, adult, husky-shepherd dog changed our life forever. Thanks to her mere presence, Grouchy Puppy was conceived, slowly blossoming over the years into an incredible community of dog lovers!

In 2013 we threw a fun virtual party that is still whispered about. In 2014 our beautiful muse passed away and November 9th that year turned into a tribute.

This year, we invite you to celebrate with us again, in a way that embraces all the ways dogs give fearlessly and influence positively!! We invite everyone to share the spirit of Grouchy Puppy this weekend by contributing a six word story about dogs, a dog you know, a fictional dog, or your own dog(s). 

 

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

Share Six Word Stories Celebrating the Dogs We Love All Weekend Long

Tell a story consisting of just six words. Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s famous challenge and first six word story, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

What: Share a six word story about dogs, a dog you know, a fictional dog, or your own dog(s).  

How to join in the fun? Email us at info@grouchypuppy.com your stories and photos, we'll share them across our social media channels. Leave a comment below. Tweet us @grouchypuppy your photo and story, or message us on Facebook.

Giving Tree: November is Adopt a Senior Dog Month. We've had a soft spot for the oldsters for years, and since the passing of Cleo we've been spending hours every week helping the sugar faces at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. If you buy anything from our Zazzle store until the end of the year ALL proceeds will go to Muttville as our way of paying it forward

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

Join us! It's easy! Above are two stories that are endearing and funny six word stories reflecting our grouchy puppy muse. We hope you'll contribute your own six word stories in celebration.

We'll close with our deepest thanks for sharing these years with us and for your steadfast support!

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When you have a dog what is your responsibility?

What is the number one responsibility when you have a dog? This can be answered with specifics but also with general notions such as setting them up for success. That was the mantra we heard when we adopted our dog from the San Francisco SPCA.

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We posed this question to our Facebook community and their big concern was safety which I couldn't agree more with! When you choose to have a dog you're taking on the role of guardian. This means you guarding them, as much as they may be guarding you.

Keeping a dog safe includes have secure harnesses and leashes that don't break. It means being watchful and insuring your dog can't bolt out into a busy street or charge through an unsecured screen door. Good training as well as safe barriers protects everyone from tragedy.

Safety means watching out for chicken bones on walks, keeping toxic foods away from inquiring snouts, and making sure they get regular vet check ups. 

Setting a Dog up for Success

Keeping your dog safe is tops, because that includes their health and wellbeing for as long as you are their guardian. But we'd add to that the notion that it's your responsibility to set them up for success.

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Dogs who are perfect for introverts. That personality tho'

Endless belly rubs. Long bouts of toss the squeaky toy or playing keep away. Cuddling and tussling around with Rugby, the senior beagle, honestly was a little overwhelming at times.

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

Why? Because he never tired of me. Even my own dog at home got tired of me at some point, and would walk away into another room. This dog seemed to have unlimited energy, plus a steady need and desire to engage with people. If you walked away at any time, he would just get up and trot over to someone else.

As an acknowledged introvert, I could see how this little guy would be perfect for my community. He radiated interest, affection, and an honest joy of just being with you. If you had the energy to play, he would too. If you wanted to sit next to him and snuggle for one minute, or ten, he would too. He sensed your rhythm and worked with it to his advantage, and ultimately mine.

Have you ever thought about how certain dogs might be perfect for introverts? 

I expect many people would believe all dogs are perfect for introverts but I think that is too simple. I would think that a dog's individual personality would have a lot to do with it too. For example. I don't think puppies are very good at all for introverts. Their energy is usually too manic and unfocused. Their sense of awareness is still unshaped.

If I was to use a broad brush, I'd say senior dogs are almost always perfect for introverts. All of the ones I have ever known have made sure I got outside, engaged with people, and generally focused my thoughts on the good that's out there. They calmly reminded me that it's worth it to keep giving fearlessly to the world. There are worthwhile people, causes, and dogs out there.

What do you think? Have you experienced a dog giving fearlessly like Rugby?

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Young readers will love the story of Gobi, the little stray dog with a big heart

When I think back to my childhood, I realize that after my stuffed Snoopy, my first real friend was our family dog. I think because of my young age and personality, I was willing and able to develop meaningful friendships with all of our family dogs over the years. Each of them had an important and positive influence over my development growing up in a remote area of a California county. They were my study buddies, cheerleaders, confidants, motivators, and moral compass. I know that is a lot but believe me, never underestimate the power of the human-dog bond.

The support, generosity, and kindness of strangers

This leads me to a wonder pair of books that I was given the chance to read before their official release August 29th, starting with Gobi: A Little Dog With a Big Heart. It's a picture book that offers a humane education for little ones, taking them on an adventure across the desert! They are introduced to a little stray dog whose positive influence has a remarkable impact on an ultra-marathon runner. Based on a true story, this picture book is a wonderful introduction to the idea of compassion for animals, courage and love for a little stray dog with a big heart.

Gobi Picture Book
Gobi: A Little Dog With a Big Heart [picture book, 4-8 years]

 

Both books are about teamwork and power of a dog's positive influence, but the young reader edition adds a lot more to the 'man meets dog' story...

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Greta howls her way into your heart, today's Muttville moment

Last week I met a new Muttville mutt named Greta. She is a german shepherd, all legs, and currently skin and bones. Given our immediate mutual affection, I have a feeling she'll be plumping up soon. I can still smell the after-breakfast chicken treats I gave her on my fingers.

Having had a large Shepherd-Husky dog, I was drawn to Greta as soon as I saw her fuzzy gangly body. She loped across the doggy loft as soon as the door opened and I wheeled in the yellow cleaning bucket. Her concerned brown eyes locked on my movements, tracking the mop to the bucket and back to the floor. I was glad to see she was not spooked by my morning cleaning of the loft.

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Patricia McConnell Gives Fearlessly in her New Book "The Education of Will"

Anyone familiar with my blog, or the Grouchy Puppy motto, will know that the central theme to the writing and social media posts is the broad positive influence of the human-dog bond. 

The Education of Will
When Dr. Patricia McConnell published her new book, The Education of Will, I was immediately interested because it spoke to what I hold dear, the positive influence of a dog. However, her stories of facing one fear after another pulled me through the book. Her self-effacing and humble style of sharing filled me with empathy. It isn't easy to face our fears even with the help of a special dog. 

"I knew Willie like I knew myself. I knew what it was like to be happy and friendly on the outside and yet spend much of your life in fear."

This mutual memoir is a story of injury and recovery, but in addition to the themes of trauma, fear and love, I felt forgiveness, empathy, and compassion were striking themes throughout the book. 

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