Monday, February 14, 2011

Play with your dog!

Yesterday I had my first session of our new "activity class" - the "scent class". This 3 week fun course is all about playing games where your dog can use his/her nose. To say the least, it was way more fun than I had even anticipated!

But, the moral of this story is this. Dogs love to play with us. Yes, we need to be the leader, we need to set and enforce the rules. We need to set boundaries and do all the right training, etc. However, don't forget to play with your dog. Playing doesn't mean wrestle mania - which alot of our male counterparts like to do! I mean setting up a game where they can use their body, their eyes, their nose. Watching my students "play" was fun. They were so happy, that even the dog that was a bit worried loosened up. We all clapped for each other dogs - we smiled...Alot! The dogs left with their tails wagging and their heads high. They had fun, plain and simple.

Games are whatever you come up with. With my basset Gus, his favorite game was the "pick-em-up Game. It included food, which for a basset is really what's life about. His job was to go find toys and bring them to me. For each toy brought, he would get a cookie. I could get a lot of toys on my lap by the end of our "play"! He had to go "find" them (they were usually just on the floor or in the toy box), but he enjoyed his "search" as he was particular about what he brought. He would RUN to get his toy and RUN to get back to me. I laughed, he laughed, and he ate. A good world for both of us!

So, loosen up a bit, get silly and laugh with your dog. Your games should be something personal and fun. No rules on how to be creative - the only one is have fun!

Enjoy smiling with those pups!

Deb Schneider
Everee, Corky, Eli

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When is it "time" to say goodbye

I get this question alot - it comes in many ways. But the answer is nearly always the same. You can't wait for your dog to "tell you" that it's time. That said, some dogs can and will tell you. Most folks won't even know why they know, they just do. Trust me, it's your dog telling you.

For other dogs, they will hang on as long as they can because they know YOU aren't ready to let go. Those are the hardest cases for me. Often, when I read a dog he's clearly telling me, "I can't leave yet, she's not ready for me to go". Many dogs stay here, in pain and old age, to take care of us.

I told this story just today to a client, and want to share it again with you all. My border collie Jezzie was the love of my life. She was 14, had lots of hip issues, and was becoming slightly senile. However, I loved her, and truly I never saw the pain she had. She did her absolute best to keep it from me. On the day I decided it was time, I called on Monday and set the date for Friday. It gave me time to say goodbye, to have some "last time for this" things that we did together. By Friday I was surprised to see that my eyes had cleared, and I saw her for the first time as the older, dog in pain that she was. Two things happened, 1) she could let down her front with me and be how she was and 2) I was finally seeing her through eyes that had accepted that it was time. When I let her go on her new journey on Friday, she was happy - came into the vet clinic walking on air. She smiled at me to her final earth moment.

So, when you have a dog that is ill, or getting older, take into consideration more than what the vets ask about quality of life. To our veterinarians quality of life is, does she still eat, go outside, play a little ball? Well, yes. But, are they really happy, or is the pain starting to wear on them. We would all like our dogs to simply pass in their sleep, or come down with something so bad that there is no decision. Sorry, this doesn't happen often. I always say, let your dog pass in dignity, if possible. Your last gift to them can be letting them go.

Sorry for the sad blog today - but, I had the need to write it. Take care all!

Everee, Corky, Eli