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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Nuisance Barking

One thing about dogs that can drive you crazy is constant barking. Whether it is a deep shuddering “Woof, woof, woof” or that ear piercing “Yap, Yap, Yap” push your button very quickly. Generally speaking, barking can be a sign of stress, frustration, anxiety or over-excitement, none of which are particularly good for you or your dog.

Remember a content, relaxed dog does not bark!

A common cause of barking can be dogs who are left at home alone. Unfortunately, pet owners often are not aware of the problem until they receive complaints from a neighbor or worse yet, animal control comes calling. Understanding why your dog is barking is key to stopping it so you can actually address the cause of your dog's problem and not just treat the
symptoms. In order to understand this problem, you need to see it through your dog's eyes. Visualize this....your dog is a pack animal, which means there are leaders and followers in a pack. One of the pack leader's jobs is to protect the pack.
So when on Monday morning everybody leaves the house to go to work and leaves the dog at home alone they become stressed… and so would you if you lost your pack! That’s the reason why they're stressed and barking. They are calling out to you to come back. They just are trying to do their job. So, do you see why your dog is stressed out and barking every time you leave the house?

A lot of annoying doggy behaviors like chewing, destroying things, digging, etc., only happen when you are not there. That's correct, these are all symptoms of a stressed out dog who is worried about you not being home and safe. Obviously, your dog can't express these worries to you in English, right? Oh, if only it could be that easy, we could just sit down and have a talk with Rover to work out the problems!

So what’s the answer? Well it’s certainly not by giving them a bone to chew on while you are away. Imagine saying to a parent who is totally stressed that their child is out on the streets…“Calm down, here’s a box of chocolates”! While you may love chocolate, it's not going to work in this situation. Toys, treats and other distractions are not going to solve the problem, they are only an attempt to treat the symptoms. Oh they may work for a short period of time, but not likely in the long term.

So what is the solution? You need to become the pack leader in your dog’s eyes. Once you do this correctly, your dog will not see it as their job to protect you. You will be able to come and go as you please and they will be totally relaxed.
This is the real solution to having a calm relaxed dog. No tricks here, just honesty.

Becoming the pack leader is not complicated, in fact, anyone can do it. But, it's not really something that I can explain in 2 minutes here. However, you take a look at Doggy Dan’s website, he explains very powerfully how to establish yourself as the pack leader and stop your dog from barking when you leave him.

Here are additional tips that you can use in conjunction with becoming the pack leader that will help stop your dog's barking:
• Exercise: Exercise your dog before you leave him – a tired dog is more likely to be relaxed.
• Find the right space: Try leaving your dog in different areas – some dogs will relax more outside, others inside and some prefer smaller areas such as a kennel.
• Fed and watered: Always leave water and make sure that your dog is fed before you leave.
• Pick up the bones: Leave toys around for your dog but not bones.
• Music and TV: Consider leaving music on for your dog or the TV – this really helps my dogs stay calm.
• Dog walkers: A break in the middle of the day can certainly help break up your dog's day.
• Leave calmly: While it's fun to get excited when you leave your dog it's better if you leave calmly. Try to say goodbye 5 minutes before leaving to help him stay relaxed as you go.
• Comfort jackets: Thundershirt is a wonderful product that has worked well for my chihuahua, Chuey. He particularly has anxiety when riding in the car and the Thundershirt has been a great help in this area. While it doesn't work for all dogs, it is worth a try, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, the idea that getting another dog is going to stop the problem is something I would stay well away from. After all, the source of your dog's barking is not boredom. Many dogs who bark when their owners leave are the same dogs who will lie around the house doing nothing when their owners are at home.
So, I hope that you now have a better understanding of your dog's problem! I really do suggest that if you are serious about stopping the barking immediately, then please take a look at Doggy Dan's site and learn to become the pack leader. That will be the end of your issue.

To take a free look around the Doggy Dan site.
There is an entire section dedicated to stopping this sort of barking under the dog problem section "Separation Anxiety".
It’s not hard, but you must understand your dog's problem through his eyes rather than human eyes! They do not want more treats or toys, what they want is a strong pack leader.
So get started now, don’t hang around. The sooner you turn things around the sooner your neighbors will be grateful for bringing peace back to the neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Torture Chamber

Ever since I started writing this blog I promised myself that I would write a new post at least once a week, usually on Mondays. If I have a lot on my mind, then I might post 2 or 3 times a week. But no way could I write anything yesterday because I was being tortured....for 2 and a half hours! 

After I was led into this special room outfitted with all its fancy equipment, a pleasant lady had me sit in this leather reclining chair and she put a little bib around my neck to protect my clothing from all of the spit, blood and goo to come. Then this guy walked in and cheerfully jabbed a big old needle into my gums several times and left me to sit there waiting for the effects of the drugs he had injected to take hold.

Soon he and his assistant were back to begin the torture process. He grabbed a drill and started whirring away on my tooth. But because the Novocaine did not work well enough, I felt the drilling all the way through my skull and they practically had to peel me off the ceiling, the pain so excruciating. So he grabbed another syringe full of Novocaine and jabbed around with the needle some more.
As I am lying back with the bright lights shining down, I closed my eyes and tried my best to picture myself sitting beside a gurgling stream somewhere deep in the Rockies, in a feeble effort to take my mind off of what was going on in my mouth. But with my mouth propped open with a rubber dam while the dentist drilled away and his assistant held my tongue aside with a piece of gauze (my tongue has a mind of its own and doesn't like to cooperate), I felt like I couldn't breathe or swallow and had to fight the urge to let panic take over.

Long story short, I had to have a root canal and a crown put on a very bad tooth. Anyone who knows me understands how much I HATE going to the dentist. Many times I have said I would rather take a beating than go to the dentist. 

Though it took 2-1/2 hours from start to finish, at least the work was all done in a single visit and I don't have to go back for a long time. I have several crowns in my mouth, but this is only the second root canal I have ever had and this one seemed much worse than the first. 
This was the first time that I have had a dentist make the crown right there in the office, though. There was amazing, state-of-the-art computerized equipment that they used to map out the exact size and shape of the crown, then molded it, "baked" it and glued it in all at this single visit. And it fit perfectly on the first try!

But after all of that, the most painful part of all was checking out of the office. When I handed my paperwork over to the lady behind the desk, she punched some data into her computer and calmly said, "That will be $1800." What the hell! Do I look like I carry that kind of money around with me, I thought. Even though I have dental insurance, come to find out, the coverage is pretty measly and they don't cover crowns or root canals at all....not even a small percentage of it! Fortunately, they agreed to work out a payment plan for me. But it's gonna make the budget super-tight for a long while. 

I still think $1800 is pretty outrageous for a couple of hours in the torture chamber, but I guess they have to pay for all that fancy equipment somehow. 

Anyway, I survived, but I'm still hurting. Today I feel like someone punched me in the jaw, and my wallet is still screaming bloody murder!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My First Dog

Of course growing up on the farm we had many dogs over the years. While I don't really remember the very first dog my parents had when I was a toddler, my mom has told me stories about it. The dog was a German Shepherd and every time I went outside the dog would jump up on me and knock me down. Maybe that's why I now prefer small dogs, I feel like I can better control them. 
When I was about 3 years old we got a Border Collie puppy. His name was Mickey and he quickly became my best friend. Mickey and I grew up together. While I don't have any photos of the real Mickey, he looked a lot like the photo here. 

Mickey was so smart, he quickly learned lots of tricks like sit, stay, lie down, play dead, shake hands. You only had to show him a couple of times and he seemed to know instinctively what to do. Naturally, he was great at herding our cows and bringing them in at milking time. 

I spent many hours during my childhood hanging out with Mickey and telling him my deepest, darkest secrets. He was a great most dogs are! No wonder they are called "man's best friend."

When I was 14 my parents sold the farm, bought a bar and moved us to town. My dad said Mickey couldn't come with us because he was used to living on the farm. I was so sad that my best buddy couldn't come with us, but at the same time I understood that Mickey was used to running free and he couldn't do that in town. So Mickey went to live out his days on a neighbor's farm. But even though that was almost 60 years ago, I will never forget Mickey, my first best friend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Need Help

I enjoy writing, but there is something that all writers need, and which is sorely lacking for me.....readers! Please help me out. If you stumble across this blog and enjoy it, then tell everyone about it, comment, share. I would appreciate it so much! Thank you for your help!

You can generate more traffic too. Just click here.

My Little Loves

More than any other animal, I have loved dogs all of my life. Of course, growing up on a farm there were many animals that I loved`including cows, especially black and white Holsteins, pigs, goats, and horses. 

The little guy pictured here is one of my two current little loves, Chuey. He is a 6-year-old chihuahua and Jack Russell terrier mix, (at least that is what the vet says). All I know for sure is that his momma was a tan chihuahua. Dad could have been any roaming Casanova from the old neighborhood. I adopted him when he was about two months old. We quickly bonded and now he is definitely a mama's boy. Most people when they hear what kind of dog he is, will say, "Oh he must be so hyper." But he is not at all. He is sweet and calm. He only wants to be near his favorite person (me), and if I want to sit and watch TV all day, he is fine with that. If I want to take a nap, he is right there snuggling under the covers. If I want to take a long walk, then he is ready for that too. 

My husband, Josh, was a truck driver and whenever he would return home from a trip, Chuey was the first one at the door to greet him with kisses and hugs. One of Chuey's favorite commands is to give hugs. When I say, "Momma wants a Chuey hug," he jumps up on my lap, wraps his paws around my neck and snuggles. 

Josh passed away from cancer in August 2012. He spent his last days at home under hospice care. All during that time, Chuey rarely left Josh's lap. I think dogs have a special instinct for those things. In fact, the day that Josh passed Chuey never left his lap all day. Amazing! 

Since then, Chuey has helped ease my loneliness and grief so much by his sweet presence.
 Chuey loves his walks. Because he gets cold easily, he wears his jacket whenever it is chilly out. No, he is not spoiled much! 

He does get into mischief at times. He has a particular fondness for digging through the trash and finding paper to shred and scatter. So now whenever I must leave him at home, he has to go into his kennel, which he absolutely hates. As soon as he know it's "kennel time," he runs into the bedroom and tries to hide under the pillow. Even though his little bottom is sticking out, apparently he thinks if mom can't see him, then he is hidden and won't have to into the dreaded kennel. It never fails to crack me up!
When we first adopted Chuey he became the little brother to our 10-year-old Schnauzer, Cosmo. At first there was a lot of jealousy, but they eventually bonded. Sadly, about 18 months later Cosmo died. Chuey was lonely after that, but he and I gave each other comfort. Then a year ago I adopted another Schnauzer, Cash (pictured here). 

Chuey and Cash have become best pals and they play together constantly. They will curl up and snooze together. Now I feel like my doggy family is complete again. 

I call these two guys my "personal trainers," because they make sure I get outside to take long walks and get plenty of exercise every day. 

I have had plenty of different pets over the years, and each one has had such a unique, individual personality. 

I hope to share more pet stories over the weeks to come. I'd also love to hear from you all about your special friends too, so please don't hesitate to share your story.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Time is a Funny Thing

Remember when you were a kid and often time just couldn't go by fast enough? You couldn't wait to grow up so you could do whatever you wanted to do. At least, I remember feeling that way long ago. Little did I know that growing up would mean lots of work, headaches, and responsibilities. Now I wish sometimes I could go back to those carefree days, especially summer time on the farm.

The land around my family's farm in southeast Nebraska had rolling hills and trees similar to this. My parents had a herd of Holsteins and I had to help with the milking every day. There were always plenty of chores to do during the day too, such as working in the garden, feeding calves, etc. But I also had days where I was free to do my own thing during the long summer days. By the time I was 10 or 11, one of my favorite things to do was pack a lunch and saddle up my horse, Suzy, and go out exploring the surrounding pastures.I had a favorite spot way back in the pasture where a large patch of wild strawberries grew. I would stop there, spread out a blanket and savor my peanut butter sandwich, with juicy berries for dessert. Then I might lie down on the blanket and study the clouds and daydream, or get lost in a book for awhile before it was time to head back home. 

My, how the world has changed since then! I asked my mom recently if she ever worried about me back then, and she said not really. Too bad that kids today don't have the luxury of enjoying such freedom to explore and just be kids. For one thing, there doesn't seem to be any safe places where a child can be alone any more, and with "stranger danger" everywhere, its not safe for a child to be alone anywhere. For another, kids today seem to have every minute of their free time scheduled. I know my granddaughter has a schedule that would drive me crazy. In addition to keeping up with all her classes and getting good grades, she has dance class six days a week, as well as cheerleading practice, school and church activities, dance competitions, cheer competitions, the list goes on and on. She barely has time to eat or sleep in between everything she has going on. Just as bad, her brother spends all of his free time glued to a computer playing video games. At the risk of sounding like an "old fogey," what has the world come to? 

I'm not saying my childhood was idyllic, by any means. Sometimes my solitary wanderings were merely a way to escape my father, who could be very mean and abusive. But how I'd love to be able to go horseback riding now sometime and sit in a pasture eating wild strawberries just to get away from my adult worries and responsibilities for a change. 

How about you? What favorite childhood activity do you wish you could do again?