Golden Retrievers Speak: Alanis And Grieving

Alanis:    What happens when a canine loses a canine companion?  Do we experience grief, or do we think our friend will eventually return?    When Jeter left the house on December 31st, was it to go to the groomer, or was it to go away forever?   Does the concept of time even enter my brain?  Can I count the seconds, the minutes, the hours, and the days?     Do I forget that Josh and Jeter once prowled around this house, or can I still sense their presence days, weeks, and months later?

How do I entertain myself, without another dog to keep me entertained?  How can humans replace the bond I had with my canine companions?   How do I walk alone, how do I jump in the car with nothing else in the back seat?   How do I feel about being the first dog to receive a meal, the only dog that gets the nightly treat?  How I can play with a toy, or chase a tennis ball, without another dog offering competition?

Will another dog come through those doors some day, and how will I react to once again sharing all of this stuff that is only now enjoyed by me?

I have three bowls of water to choose from every time I need a drink, and yet I still feel thirsty.  I get a good meal twice a day, yet I still feel hungry.    I am trying to regain my energy.  I am wagging my tail again.  I am panting more, sleeping better.   I am following my owners around the house like a lost puppy, and that is because I am a lost puppy.

Mommy gave me a toy octopus the other day – the type of toy Josh loved to carry and whip around back in his heyday.   I do some of the same, though I am hoping the octopus will come to life and fight back.  It never does, but I will keep trying, for it is not my nature to give up.

This is weird.  This is awkward.  When I was growing up in a different household for my first six months, I was the only dog.  I should be used to this, but I am not.   This is a process.  I lost my best friend before he had a chance to grow old with me.   The dog that would always give me a tongue bath even after I tormented him.

I am a dog.  I guess I am not supposed to “grieve.”  I guess I am not expected to know exactly what “death” is, nor am I supposed to comprehend what it means when a canine companion leaves.

But if all that is true, why does my behavior change, and why am I sad?   You may have some clinical definition of “grieving” in a dictionary, but I can’t read one of those.   I just know what I feel and what I miss.  And nobody can define that for me.

Me:   Alanis has been out of sorts since Jeter passed.   She has definitely improved as the days have gone on.  She is playing more, she is eating better, and is spending more time outside.   She went on her first extended walk today since Jeter’s death (it has been too frigid in New Jersey to go for a longer walk over the past week+), and she did well with a “play date” she had on Saturday.  That date seemed to rejuvenate her, as she likely needed to be around a dog who was willing to play with her.

Do dogs actually grieve?  Doing research on the topic, some experts think that dogs grieve at the level of a small child:  They comprehend the loss, but don’t understand the death.  

Alanis’ behavior has consisted of sleeping in Jeter’s spots (and sniffing around his favorite spots), loss of energy, and being more “clingy” than usual.   She rejected a piece of string cheese the day Jeter died, but her appetite has been mostly intact.  On today’s walk, she did a lot of sniffing.  Whether she had the scent of Jeter or it was something else, I have no idea.  I just noticed an increase in the behavior.

Dogs will process a death in different ways.  It is up to you as an owner to differentiate what may be grieving vs. what may be an actual illness.   It is easy to chalk everything up to a dog missing their companion, but just watch your dog to make sure he or she snaps out of it after a few days.

Tennis Balls and Meatballs: Jeter (July 30, 2009 – December 31, 2017)

Me:  “Can you help me remember how to smile?  Make it somehow all seem worthwhile.”   While this line from a 1990s hit has nothing to do with grief (it is a song about kids who run away), it seemed poignant today when I walked into Wawa.  It was the first thing I heard when i walked in, and it just hit me as being so appropriate.   I have smiled a lot today over the memories of Jeter, and it is the dogs that my wife and I will continue to give homes to that makes it all worthwhile.  They, just like us, can’t live forever.    We have lost two in the last year (Josh in February), which is sad but we will get through it.  Below is Jeter’s last blog entry (though flashbacks are always possible), as he crossed over the rainbow bridge on New Year’s Eve.

Jeter:   Daddy is telling me that he wants to take me for a “final” walk through the neighborhood, since that is one of my favorite things to do.   Don’t ask me why walking around town with cancer in my body on a day where I will freeze my tail off is the definition of “fun”, but I will oblige.  If you have read this blog long enough, you know I am the wise guy dog of the bunch.  If you think I am going to be “whoa is me” when writing this blog post, this is not the post for you.   I live my life with humor and happiness, and cancer, no matter how advanced, is not going to make me change.

When I take this final stroll through the neighborhood, if my dog calculations are correct (tough to punch in numbers with my big paws on this small calculator my daddy provided me), I would have walked somewhere over 2,000 times in my lifetime.  TWO THOUSAND.  And I am supposed to sit here, feeling sorry for myself when I got to do one of the things I enjoy the most that many times?    This is going to be fun, and nostalgic.  I am sure Alanis (who I guess must come, or else she will do her diva thing and whine the whole time we are away) will oblige in letting me do what I want to do on this walk, and not what she wants to do.   I hope the people who commented on my absence recently are looking out the windows today, because I am going to be strutting my stuff like I never have before.   I will be slower, as my illness has greatly impacted me over the course of the last several hours, but I am going to do it like a champ.

Why have my walks been less frequent recently, or shorter in duration?  Because everyone thought I had an injury, and that I needed rest.  Injury?  I wish it was an injury, or maybe I don’t.  Who wants to live out their final months, years, or whatever chronically injured?  Not this dog.  I want to go all out, each and every day.    Regardless, the rest was really not doing me much good, as the “injury” was a red herring for something worse.    But that is OK.  Injured or sick, who cares?  Life is precious, and I am going to make these last hours count just as much as my first hours.  I would say that cancer decided to pick on the wrong dog today, but I am in no mood for such proclamations.  I will say that if cancer thought it would kill the dog that I am, it was wrong.   You think you won, but you didn’t.  I am at peace with my life…and you will never once define me.

See, only yesterday, I was out back chasing a tennis ball, trying to convince you that I was happy and healthy.    You thought I was injured, so you stopped the game early even though I wanted to go on.  I knew (did I?) that this may be the last game I would ever play, but you were convinced otherwise.  Don’t feel bad about that, for I did my job:  I didn’t want anybody to worry.  I wanted you to think that there would be more ball to be played at another time.

Only yesterday, you decided to take away the barrier that stopped me from going upstairs.   The barrier you thought was keeping me from hurting myself further.    You didn’t know it, but unless you had a magical cancer block for my internal organs, nothing you could do was going to prevent me from hurting myself further.  (It is doubtful that even a cancer block would have helped me, either)   I did my job, yet again.  I convinced you that all I had was an achy leg or a sore hip.  I am proud of myself for that, as who wants to think that a tumor was doing this to me?   I had the magic of the fake out – just when you started worrying about me, I was able to flip the script by playing with Alanis, or picking up one of the several Christmas toys Santa Paws brought for us.  I didn’t eat that day?  I figured out quickly that it put you both in panic mode, and that meals must be eaten, even on those days where my body didn’t want to work to digest things I put in my body.

I took full advantage of having the stairs back, as I went up them to jump on the bed to sleep with my mommy.   I needed that last night by my mommy’s side.  That jump on the bed was pure adrenaline – I shouldn’t have been able to do that, but I had to.  I needed to feel the warmth of that bed while laying with my mommy.     Did I cry in pain that night?  Of course not.   I was not going to allow her to worry about me on this special night.  I was going to sleep peacefully and allow myself to enjoy these moments while I still had them.

I thought my game was up when you decided to take me to the vet a few times over the last several weeks.    How can I hide my illness from a vet?    I didn’t even have to, because my symptoms as described are typically associated with manageable conditions.    I wagged my tail, refused to do any hacking, and let you examine me from head to toe.  I had a little mass on my leg?  I am an 8-year old Golden.  Those are fatty tumors!  I wasn’t moving well?  It is frigid outside, my breed is prone to arthritis, and I am 8 years old.  Easily explained!     Don’t sit there and think I am blaming my doctor for what happened to me, because I was a goner the moment it invaded my body.     I am GLAD nobody ran a test on this two months ago, because I likely wouldn’t have been able to live out the final two months I had.  As soon as this was discovered, my life was going to be over.  Prolonging that diagnosis allowed me a final Thanksgiving.  It gave me those final rides through New Jersey to see Christmas lights.  A final trip to see one of my grandmothers for a plate of meatballs.  A final Christmas night with my mommy, daddy, and Alanis.   One last trip to the dog treat bank.   Wait, you don’t know what a dog treat bank is?    It is an amazing concept:  Mommy and daddy drive up to this machine that contains this cylinder.  They drop pieces of paper into the cylinder, put it back into the machine, and viola!  A magical dog treat comes back.  If your town doesn’t have one of these amazing inventions, you may as well move now.

Telling my mommy early this morning that I wasn’t feeling well was hard.  I was restless, refusing to go to sleep.   I was trying to get myself to fall asleep so that nobody would worry, but it became too unbearable.  I guess cancer can bring you to the point where there is no return.  Who knew?  I certainly didn’t.  I had no choice but to start whimpering.  Softly, mind you, because crying too loudly would set off a panic that I certainly didn’t want to hear.   I am too sensitive to that kind of thing.   Thunder makes me run for the hills, and the sound of a fly buzzing in the house puts me in complete panic (thankfully, Alanis eats them for me.   That little brat is good for a few things.)

When my mommy and daddy first visited me on my litter mates back in 2009, I knew right away that I wanted to be mommy’s dog (I probably could have done without daddy, but I guess it was a package deal).  The moment I was put in her lap, I fell asleep.   I was the runt of my litter, and that came to pass through my adult years, as I was a very small Golden Retriever for a male (my weight rarely went above 55 pounds).   My parents were thrilled when they got that phone call from the breeder, telling them that I was matched up with them.   They may have been thrilled, but I was ecstatic when my dog mommy (“Summer”) told me the news.   She gave me a nice, big sloppy kiss when my family picked me up to take me home.    On my upcoming final ride to the vet, I think I will make this full circle – I will put my head on my mommy’s lap as daddy drives us there (editorial note:  That is exactly what he did.  He was so peaceful in that back seat, as if he knew what was coming and was not going to fight against it)

My favorite meal isn’t a $50 bag of the best kibble my parents can afford, and my favorite toy isn’t some $20 green thing with 8 legs that my parents called a “turtle”. (That was Josh’s favorite toy, but my big mentor had expensive taste….)    All I need is a rolled up piece of fried beef you called a “meatball” and a little, round yellow thing you called a “tennis ball”.    Give me those two things, a leash to walk on,  and some water (which I refuse to drink unless it is FRESH! I am a quirky little thing), and my life is perfect.   My mommy and daddy will keep telling me that I deserve to be spoiled, but I don’t look at life through that lens.   Want to spoil me?  Spend more hours of your life with me than you do without me.   That is the ultimate spoil, and I had that for my entire lifetime, which I am grateful for.  I was never alone – on those rare occasions that my parents left me at home, I had dogs here with me.    Talk about a charmed kind of life, no?

My life was full of joy and anxious moments.  I had two seizures in my lifetime, both occurring during the Final Jeopardy theme song.  You think that is a silly coincidence?   After the second seizure, my parents put Final Jeopardy on mute…and I never had another seizure.  My mommy accidentally forgot to mute it one night, and I started making strange noises in my sleep.   You can take me in for expensive tests to see why I am seizing, or you can just cut that damn Alex Trebek out of my life.   Thankfully,  I didn’t have to go under a microscope, and they didn’t have to cut out watching Jeopardy.  Just as long as they kept that damn tune on mute.

One time, I was walking across the boardwalk to the beach, when a man with a big, scary bag walked by me.  I got so freaked out that I slipped my collar and fell to the sand below.   Thud!    That may not have been a fun little adventure for my parents, but I found it to be funny.  I brushed myself off, ran to some steps, and worked my way back up to the boardwalk to continue my adventure.

My biggest mission in my life that everyone says was too short but I think has been more than long enough was helping my mommy heal from her serious, multi-year illness that invaded her body.   It was my goal in life to make sure she felt better before I had to go, and I fulfilled that dream.   How in tune was I with my mommy?   Daddy didn’t even have to ask mommy how she was feeling every day – he could tell just by MY actions.    I would never leave her side.   I did everything I could to put a smile on her face even when she thought there was no reason to smile.   I think to myself now that I was put on this earth to help somebody get through their darkest hour, and that is exactly what I did.   My bond with my mommy was unbreakable.  I went everywhere with her, and she went everywhere with me.

When Josh wrote his final blog post back in February, I had no idea I was going to be writing my own before 2017 came to a close.  I was so sad that day, and for many days that followed, you could find me laying down next to the last “cone of shame” that Josh wore in his lifetime.   Josh may run away at first when he sees me walking across that bridge, but don’t worry, big buddy.  I am not coming to torment you….well, maybe for a few minutes for old time’s sake.

When Alanis first came into my life, I wasn’t all that fond of her.  I may have even growled at her when we first met at a dog park.  Oops!  Sorry, girl – but you came to understand that my nature was to not trust a new dog at first sight.   If a dog came charging at us during a walk, I put myself in front of you, making sure the dog didn’t get near you.  I didn’t know if the dog was friendly or unfriendly, but I never took that chance.   To get to you, he would need to get through me.   Alanis is attached to my hip, and I know she will be devastated to lose her playmate and partner in crime (though she commits all the crimes in this partnership!)   Don’t be sad for too long, my friend – life is too short, and I don’t want you to have sadness.   Take out your toys and play.  Go on your walks, even if you don’t enjoy them quite as much as I do (no dog can possibly enjoy them more than me).  If you want to honor me, do so by mentoring the next dog that walks through these doors.  That was going to be my job, but things can change.  I would do my best to hang on longer if I thought you weren’t up for it.  You are.

My grandmothers always made sure they had treats or meatballs ready when I arrived, even though they didn’t have dogs of their own.  I thank you for all the hospitality you provided, and for allowing me in your homes.  I understand not everyone allows dogs into their homes (losers), so I am happy that my extended family was OK with that.

My daddy played with me, from fetching the ball to wrestling on the bed to a good, old-fashioned game of hide-and-seek.  I figured out all his hiding places, so the game eventually became “Hide, and I will run right to you in five seconds”, but it was still a fun activity.    I found out early on that Josh was the rare Golden who didn’t care much for tennis balls.  I made up for that in spades and enjoyed all the games we would play.  I loved my time in obedience school, even if you occasionally made me sit a bit too long just for a stupid little piece of string cheese.   Why was I so eager to please my owners?  This man deserved at least one pee on his head.

My mommy gave me more love than any dog can ask for.  She would cuddle with me, she would pet me, she would feed me.  She made sure I always had my share of yummy treats, and that I would get to go on as many adventures in the car as humanly possible.  One of my favorite passions was going to the beach, and I enjoyed all of my days as a beach bum dog.    The bond we had was a bond that most owners only wish they can have with their dogs.   I certainly hate to leave you without that constant companion by your side, but my physical presence is no longer needed.  I have stamped myself in your heart and soul, and because of that, I can leave without needing to worry about whether you will be OK.

I am feeling a bit sicker now, and my Daddy wants to take me on this walk.  Will you shut up, already?  You asked me to type this, and now you are asking me to wrap it up.  I can’t please this man – maybe I can do something to make him fall on this walk to give me one last laugh (trust me, it doesn’t take much).    I feel right now as I have been hit over the head with a bunch of bricks, but I don’t let that get me down – I will instead build a house with them.   Yes, I know that something is going on that will put this chapter of my life to a close.  This is not a final chapter, however, as I am always somewhere.  You may not see my smiling face or my wagging tail physically, but you know it is there.  Forever.

I didn’t live my life with a clock attached to it.  I never woke up in the morning, wondering if I was going to be hit by a car or by an incurable disease.  No two days are connected in my life – every time I wake up, it is time for something new.  A new adventure, a new dog food, a new treat, a new toy.  A walk through a new neighborhood, a ride through a new town.

I leave you now in peace, as I know my paws are soon going to walk away from the sidewalks and towards a bridge to much happiness.     I thank you all, and love you all.  My sweet, precious presence will only be stronger when it enters your thoughts and your hearts.

Love and Peace,

Jeter

Me:   There are not enough words to describe Jeter.  He was everything one could ever want in a dog x 1,000,000.  He was delightfully quirky, very loving, and was playing and goofing around all the way up to his final hours.   We are heartbroken, but also know that we made this decision before Jeter could suffer for even a minute, and that will always make us feel as if we made his life complete from start to finish.   While I stayed in the room while he was being put down (I needed that), Colleen was able to last see him as a dog with a wagging tail, as she left before the procedure.   Who wouldn’t want their last image of their companion to be that of happiness and joy?
“Jeter” didn’t really get into it, but I will:  He had hemangiosarcoma , one of the most aggressive forms of cancer found in canines.   Golden Retrievers are, unfortunately, prone to this disease, and it rarely (if ever) presents itself at a time when your dog may have a slight chance to survive it for a few months.  There is no cure, and no way to prevent it.  Jeter had impeccable bloodlines; he was a part of a one-time litter between a very healthy female and a male that was chosen by the breeder after a very careful search.   While this will likely reduce the risk of your dog dying from this horrible disease, always remember that dogs are like humans, and sometimes cancer strikes those who have a family history that suggests it shouldn’t.
Are there signs your dog may have this cancer?  Yes.  The problem is that those signs present themselves in ways that other diseases or conditions can present themselves.  Dogs with cancer will sometimes “limp”, but when you have an 8-year old Golden Retriever, limping usually means arthritis.   Dogs with cancer will sleep more, but when your dog is eight years old, you are already expecting the dog to begin sleeping more.   While Jeter started “hacking” recently, hacking doesn’t mean your dog automatically has cancer.  There are many diseases and conditions that can cause your dog to hack, and many dogs who are hacking (or coughing) may stop doing it after a short period of time.    My wife was more in tune with Jeter’s condition, and did have a bad feeling that something may be wrong.  I tend to worry a lot about our dogs, yet I did not share that same feeling – I was convinced it was arthritis and his advancing age.
When it comes to this condition, you can’t play a “What if?” game.   For one, early symptoms your dog MIGHT show will not lead you to think that you should have an ultrasound done to check for tumors.   While Jeter showed subtle signs, many dogs won’t.  This cancer is known to cause dogs to suddenly collapse and pass while exerting themselves.  That last game of fetch I played with Jeter could have easily caused such a thing to happen.  There is no blame game to play here – if your dog has it, you aren’t going to be able to stop it.
Your vet will explain your options if the disease is caught early (early means that it has not yet spread into the lungs).  In those cases, surgery may be possible, which could give your dog extra months to live.  That is another dreaded part of this disease:  While we got “lucky” in that the decision was made for us based on what was seen in an X-Ray, in some cases, the decision comes down to a surgery that MIGHT give your dog some extra time or ending the dog’s life because quality of life is not guaranteed.  I brought home a Chinese supplement to aid his internal bleeding, and feel it was worth it, because it may have helped him give us those last few hours.  We’ll never know that, but we do know that it didn’t hurt him.
While the fear of cancer could keep one away from this breed, I would advise against that being a determining factor.  They are great dogs who happen to have this black cloud hanging over them.  While most Golden Retrievers will actually die from some form of cancer, keep this in mind:  Your dog is not a statistic, and most cancers will not present until later on in life.  Josh died of natural causes at 12.5 years.   If he would have died of cancer at 12.5 years, he still would have lived a comfortable, long dog life.
If you have another dog in your house, he or she may take some time to get over the loss of a companion.   Let them heal at their own pace.    They will “get over it”, but if your dogs were bonded (like Jeter and Alanis were), it may be a process.  They have to get through their own special set of emotions.  Alanis is sleeping in Jeter’s old spots, keeps going over to the area where Jeter’s leash hangs, and didn’t take a piece of string cheese I gave her last night.    She is better today, but still isn’t at her normal levels of insanity.
Thanks to everyone who has sent on their well wishes – we appreciate them.  The blog will go on, even if only one dog is here at the moment.  She will talk about her experiences dealing with Jeter in due time.  Thanks for reading, and I hope your 2018 has started off well.

 

 

 

Golden Retrievers Speak: Down & Out

Jeter:  My parents always say that they wish we can talk….

Alanis:  Aren’t we talking through this blog?

Jeter:   I guess that is true, but be quiet.   Last Thursday night, I started to feel ill.  I didn’t throw up or anything like that, but I suddenly went from playful dog to dog that didn’t want to do anything.

Alanis:  It was weird, and I could tell our parents were a bit worried about you.  Jeter went to sleep on Thursday night, and barely wanted to move on Friday……

Jeter:  Yep.  I was just out of it.  I would get up to eat (they were so relieved that I had my usual appetite!), but I didn’t want to do anything else.  I didn’t want to play with Alanis.  I didn’t want to follow mommy everywhere, which is my normal routine.  I just wanted to sleep.

Alanis:   Every chance our parents get, they go on Christmas light tours around New Jersey.  They drive around, looking at houses, for hours on end.  This can be a whole blog post on its own, but the point I am making here is that Jeter slept through the entire tour on Friday night.  Usually, he likes to look out windows, move around the back seat, and just take it all in.  On Friday, he just wanted to sleep.  And sleep.  And sleep.  At one point, I put my head on his head.  Was I sensing that Jeter wasn’t feeling well?  Probably.  We may fight in this blog, but we are still close…

Jeter:    Be quiet with your sappy crap.  Anyway, my Daddy went out on Thursday for the sole purpose of going to the store to get chicken breast to boil.  This has happened before where they have put me on a bland, boring chicken & rice regimen….

Alanis:   You showed them, though!  You refused to eat the rice!

Jeter:  Yeah, they have me on a GRAIN-FREE kibble diet, and yet that moron daddy decides to give me rice as part of my “recovery” meals.   Nice job, Einstein.  I don’t eat grains, so leave that garbage out of my bowl.

Alanis:  Poor Jeter was so hungry…

Jeter:  I kept looking at my bowl for MORE.  I was obviously a hungry dog, with no idea on exactly what they were doing.  Was I being punished?  Did they no longer like me?   What was the point of this exercise?  I felt so sad…

Alanis:  And they kept you on the diet all weekend!

Jeter:  Yep!  Daddy, being the meanie that he is, wouldn’t give the green light for Mommy to start giving me some kibble again 🙁

Alanis:  I was getting kibble!  It was soooooooooo yummy, Jeter…

Jeter:  You are such an idiot.

Alanis:  An idiot that got to eat KIBBLE!

Jeter:  Yeah, whatever.  Go outside and stare at a fence for 30 minutes, like you do every single day.

Alanis:  I will do that with a stomach filled with kibble!

Jeter:  Go away.  I finally got some kibble with my Monday dinner, and it was so yummy.  I am still not back to full kibble meals (Daddy bought enough chicken to feed a family of 8 for a month, never mind one dog trying to get better.  Ugh.  I am never eating chicken again after this exercise)

Alanis:    Yes you will – we are dogs, after all.  Dogs sometimes eat their own poop.  Why would we ever turn down CHICKEN?

Jeter:  True that.  After a few days of being down for the count, I am slowly working my way back to being the excitable pooch I have always been.   I am 8 now, so sometimes my body just won’t let me do the things it was able to do when I was 1.  But I am still a hyper Golden Retriever, and I want to continue playing and being a goofball.

Alanis:   I love all sides of Jeter, but that is my favorite side.

Jeter:  There you go with the sap again.  Sigh.

Me:   I think I have said this so many times that you may be tired of reading it:   Nobody knows your dog better than you do.   Dogs typically don’t have “bad days” because they decide they want to be lazy.  They have bad days because something isn’t feeling right, whether it be an injury, something they ate, or even being sick.  We think Jeter’s issue had to do with something he ate (even though his appetite was still fine, his enthusiasm wasn’t at its normal level), though the leg injury he suffered a few weeks ago may have also flared up.  We will never know.  We gave him nothing but boiled chicken all weekend, and he took one day off from going for a walk.    If he still wasn’t feeling well after the weekend, we would have called the vet.    He has been able to recover though, and we will be increasing his meals back to normal levels over the coming days.

Golden Retrievers Speak: Walk Injury!

Jeter:    As every dog would tell you, I love going for walks and rides.  I realize most dogs are like this, but I take it to another level.  When my family goes on a ride without me, I become upset.  I can anticipate when they are going out, and always assume I am going….

Alanis:  I love walks and rides as well, but not to Jeter’s extreme.    Walks are fun and all, but they require a lot of work for my diva self.  I would rather be home playing with a tennis ball.  As for rides, I love to lay down in the back seat more than anything – looking out windows is so cliche….

Jeter:   Cliche is something you aren’t, girl.   Anyway, during our walk on Tuesday, I came up a bit lame.   Daddy was a good 5 minutes or so away from home, and I am a Golden Retriever, so good luck trying to carry me home.  He simply walked me very slowly towards home.  I was able to put weight on it, but couldn’t support my weight completely, so Daddy’s arm and shoulder had to take on some of the stress..

Alanis:  It was scary!  We were just walking at our usual pace around the usual neighborhood, and he just started limping, seemingly out of nowhere.  I didn’t know if he stepped on an acorn, or legitimately hurt his leg or hip.  Poor Jeter.

Jeter:    After what seemed to be an eternity, I finally was able to walk into the house.  I was hurting pretty badly, though (since I am a dog!), I was trying very hard not to show how badly I was hurting.   Eventually, I just laid down on the floor.

Alanis:   Jeter is many things, but lazy is not one of them!    Jeter is usually very excited after walks – on that day, he just wanted to lay down and not be bothered….

Jeter:   Daddy called the vet, and they were able to get me in on Wednesday afternoon.  Mommy and Daddy would have to find  a way to keep me calm over the next 24 hours.

Alanis:  They discussed taking you to an emergency vet!

Jeter:  Yes, they did – but I definitely wanted nothing to do with that.  Last time I was there, it was because I was having a seizure.  I am good at associating places with good vs. bad….I would have been a wreck going to the emergency vet!

Alanis:  They decided to put up the dreaded gate by the stairs, which of course also limited MY ability get around.   As the resident diva dog, I was not happy with that!

Jeter:  When Mommy had to go upstairs to shower, I sat at the bottom of the stairs, looking up the steps.  I sat (and stood) there for seemingly hours.  I wasn’t going to move from that spot….

Alanis:     It was quite funny for the humans to laugh at us because of our behavior.  Wasn’t funny for us!  We wanted (no, NEEDED!) to get up those stairs.

Jeter:   Daddy eventually went out to the supermarket.  When Mommy had to go upstairs again, I wanted nothing to do with that gate.  After a while, the gate “mysteriously” fell, and I made my way up the stairs!  Yay!

Alanis:  Yay?  You’re INJURED, dog!  What the heck were you thinking about?

Jeter:  I didn’t care – I was not staying downstairs without the human species!

Alanis:  Why are we so attached to that species?   Humans tend to be very weird.

Jeter:   True, that.  But we need them for food and water.

Alanis:  Must be nice to have all that power…

Jeter:  One day, Alanis.  One day…

Jeter:  Any way, as “luck” would have it, after those few hours of limping, I was suddenly OK again.   I didn’t limp again the entire day or night.

Alanis:  Obviously, a ploy so you wouldn’t have to go to the vet.

Jeter:  Of course, but it didn’t work.  Daddy decided I was going to the vet regardless 🙁

Alanis:  I get jumpy when Daddy leaves with Jeter.  I think Jeter is going on some sort of fun adventure!

Jeter:  Fun adventure it is not.  The vet’s office is the only place where I ever cry and whine.

Alanis:   I don’t whine at the vet, but I bark a lot!

Jeter:  In other words, just another day at the office for you.   The vet took me in and gave me a thorough exam, from the basics down to an exam to test my joints.   My behavior changed slightly when she did a particular movement with my leg.  While you can’t really diagnose anything that way, she thinks I may have a little arthritis in my leg or hip….or perhaps have slightly torn a little cartilage or something to that effect.  I had a little injury when I was a puppy, so maybe it is the same injury again?  I don’t know.

Alanis:   He didn’t even X-Rays or anything – at least not yet.   They are taking a more passive approach.

Jeter:   Yep, but unfortunately for me, the passive approach means no walks for at least two weeks.  And I bet Daddy limits my walks for a while even after that time period is up.   Cautious?  No.  Just mean!

Alanis:  He is definitely the mean one, Jeter.  He won’t allow my buddy to go for a walk with me because he is mean.

Jeter:  You can say that, again.  I run to the door when he takes you for a walk, only to realize I can’t go!

Alanis:   The ultimate cruelty!

Jeter:  It is OK, Alanis – I still am playing with you, as there is no way for them to stop me from EVERYTHING I like to do!

Me:  True, that.   Try to force a 60-pound bundle of extreme energy to take a chill for two weeks.  Not easily done, but thankfully for us, Jeter is not the type of dog who typically plays when he is outside.  He likes to take care of business and come into the house, unless I want to play ball with him.   He also isn’t keen on sleeping on beds, which is limiting his jumping.    When situations like this arise with a big dog, you just have to not force them to do things like run, play, fetch, jump, etc.  Anything you can do to curtail the dog’s activity will help them heal, even if they can’t follow the vet’s instructions themselves!   Be patient – don’t take the dog for a walk just because it seems they might be OK now.    A dog is like any animal:   They are not going to show you they are in pain unless there is no other option!   Jeter is doing very well, but may actually still have some pain that he is not showing us.  A wounded animal in the wild either gets eaten or the pack leaves them behind.    Be aware of that, and don’t be fooled into thinking a dog who injured himself yesterday is suddenly fine today because they aren’t limping.   It is a good sign, but it doesn’t mean they are back to full strength yet.

Sudden lameness could mean a physical injury to the area, though it is also possible the dog has an illness.   Don’t take “illness” to automatically mean “terrible illness”, but they may not be feeling well, and it is affecting their ability to walk.   Think about when you get a bad case of the flu:   Is your first instinct to go on a 60-minute walk through the neighborhood?  Thankfully, Jeter is not presenting with other signs of illness (vomiting, reluctance to eat or drink, lack of energy, etc.), so the injury is likely physical.

Just like with humans, getting a dog to the vet as soon as possible is recommended if something seems to be amiss.    The chances for human recovery for any illness get better the quicker you see a physician.  The same goes for a dog:  If your pup strained a ligament, waiting to take him to the vet could lead to worse damage.  As I always say in this blog, YOU KNOW YOUR DOG.  You know what is normal for your dog, and if your pet is suddenly doing things that are abnormal, try to get it figured out as soon as possible.  Your dog may whine and cry, but you will get some piece of mind.

Golden Retrievers Speak: Hematoma!

No matter how many dogs you own or how many situations you find yourself in, you will sometimes find yourself learning something new…..

Jeter:  About a week ago, mommy was playing with my ears, when she noticed a mass on the flap.  It didn’t seem to bother me, but it was noticeable.    At first, my daddy (always looking for benign reasons for everything) thought it might be a clump of hair.   Mommy wasn’t convinced (and of course would be proven correct).    The growth on my ear grew within the next few days, prompting my daddy to start doing some research.   While reading about masses on dog ears, he came across articles on hematomas, though he still was not convinced that this is what I had.  After all, it didn’t seem to be causing me pain.  I didn’t yelp or do anything to tell my parents that there was an injury there that I didn’t want touched.     He was reading stuff that dogs do with hematomas, and the only behavior I exhibited was scratching at my ear.  However, I have done that since I was a baby.  As dogs always say, don’t always go strictly by the textbook.  Go by how much you know us and our behaviors.    If we suddenly don’t want to play when playtime was our favorite time of day, suspect a problem.  However, if we never played much in the first place, it likely wouldn’t even register in your brain.

I was due for my yearly physical by the end of October, but daddy decided at this point that we should move the schedule up to “as soon as possible.”   I got in the day that he called, and after my exam, the doctor determined I had a hematoma on my ear, which is essentially a “solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues” (yes, I am very good at looking stuff up on dictionary.com)

This probably sounds horrible.  The words “clot” and “blood” in the same sentence are not words anyone wants to read.   However, in this case, the condition isn’t life-threatening serious.  You don’t have to rush your dog to the emergency vet at the discovery of inflammation, but you should try to get them to the vet as soon as your vet can see you.  Hematomas can, and do, grow.    They can burst.   If they do burst in your home, you can have a mess on your hands – never mind a traumatized pet.

The doctor drained my hematoma, and was a bit surprised that there was a lot of fluid in the location, but most of it didn’t seem to be blood.   Could it be a seroma, a similar condition that has fluid that isn’t blood?   It is possible, but it could also just be semantics.

Today, my mommy was playing with my ears again, and noticed that the bump has reappeared, which is a dreaded scenario.  Not dreaded in that it makes my condition any worse.  Dreaded in that it didn’t resolve with just one draining.  I will probably have to go back to the vet to figure out what the next steps are, if anything.  My hematoma is not big, so I think the doctor will continue to watch me closely over recommending a surgery for my ear.  I guess I shall find out.

I am not a fan of the vet (like most dogs).  I shake and cry.  It takes a lot to calm me down, and my chart actually says “Will calm down for treats.”  I am no idiot.  It is possible I have associated the exam room with the crying with the treats.  That doesn’t mean I am actually calm – but is it impossible that I know to put on an instinctive “show” just so I can get some extra cookies?  I will let you humans try to figure that out.

Alanis:   I don’t have much to say here, other than I hope my big brother is OK!  We are always playing, and (like many dogs) we like to go after each other’s ears.  I hope I can’t cause any more damage with that type of play!  And my parents will have a devil of a time trying to keep me calm if Jeter needs any time to rest his injury!   I don’t take “no” for an answer easily, and I am always in play mode around Jeter.

Jeter:  No worries.  I don’t think this is serious, girl!   And never mind keeping you calm if I had an injury – imagine them trying to keep ME calm!  I may be 8 years old, but I want to move!  I want to walk, I want to play.  I have no intentions of slowing down!   Nothing will stop me!

Alanis:  Except for when stuff falls out of the freezer…

Jeter:  Different topic, different time.

Me:   Hematomas are typically not dangerous,  but you will need to get your dog to the vet for treatment.  Hematomas can form slowly and stay small (like Jeter’s), or they can grow tremendously in the space of only a few hours.  What are they caused by?  Typically, they are caused by ear infections, in a bit of an indirect way:  Your dog has an infection, so they shake their head violently, which is what causes the hematoma to eventually form.  They can also be caused by trauma to the ear, and other medical conditions (allergic reactions, etc.)    Your vet should be able to get to the bottom of the underlying condition, but I assume in many cases that the cause can be rather benign.   They are more common in big, floppy eared dogs.   If you often like to scratch around your dog’s ears, feel around their flap every now and again to see if there are any abnormalities.  Sometimes, the hematoma will present itself just by sight.   

Golden Retrievers Speak: Quirky!

Jeter:   The title of this entry describes me perfectly.   I have several little quirks, the most notable being that I refuse to drink water that doesn’t pass my “standards.”   Don’t ask me what those standards are, but I have no problem sniffing the three bowls of water in this house and walking away.

Alanis:   You are probably the more quirky of the two of us, but that doesn’t mean that I am completely void of them.  While I don’t do it nearly as much now as I used to, I have this thing where I don’t like walking down certain streets in the neighborhood.   I probably experienced something “bad” (in my eyes) down certain roads in the past, and now have trouble getting down those streets.

Jeter:  That is very weird, indeed. You are so annoying on walks.  I just want to walk – whether it be for 30 minutes or 90 minutes, I just want to walk, undisturbed.  I just look ahead, without a care in the world, while you are nothing but a scatter brain without any direction whatsoever.

Alanis:  Of course, we have this dipshit walking us, who doesn’t know where he is going and can even get lost if he walks in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

Jeter:  That is besides the point, though it is true.  My most recent quirk is that I refuse to go downstairs after Mommy wakes up from her sleep.  When Mommy wakes up (very late at night, or early in the morning, depending on how you look at it.), she eats a frozen dinner.  I am petrified of the freezer, so I have learned to now not go downstairs until after the freezer door closes.   For a dog who really doesn’t like being alone, it takes a lot of willpower for me to stay upstairs alone.

Alanis:  You are a strange bird.   One quirk we both have is that we rarely (or never!) play and get rambunctious when we are only with our Mommy.  We only seem to get crazy if Daddy is in our presence.  I am a barker – I bark to an extreme!  But I am less prone to it when Daddy isn’t around.  When he is around, I tend to bark more, Jeter tends to become more hyper, and we are more likely to be crazy.

Jeter:  This is likely due to Daddy always “wrestling” with us, and throwing the ball all over the house.  We associate that clumsy moron with play, and associate Mommy more with calm….

Alanis:  Except during Wheel of Fortune….

Jeter:  Don’t mention that game show!!  Please  – that is cruel!

Alanis:  Sorry…

Jeter:  I hate, hate, hate that game show!   Mommy yells at the stupid contestants all the time…

Alanis:  I know.  But she is a good puzzle solver.  Much better than Daddy.

Jeter:  WE’RE better than Daddy!

Alanis:  True, that.

Jeter:  I love our quirks – I love that I stay outside for maybe 2 minutes, just to do my business, while you roam out there for up to 20 minutes at a time.  I love that I have no issues with going out in the rain, while you are more willing to hold it in for 12 hours if you have to (that used to be a Josh trait, too!)

Alanis:   Having dogs with the same personalities and traits would be boring!

Jeter:   Correct! Though I do wish you would shut your pie hole from time to time.

Alanis:   Woof!  Woof!  I am a dog, big brother!   I was born to bark!

Jeter:   You are noise pollution, plain and simple.

Alanis:  You are just jealous because your can’t sustain a long bark!

Jeter:   The moment I am jealous of you is the moment I see a doggy psychiatrist.

Alanis:   Can we both agree that we are less quirky than Daddy?

Jeter:  Certainly.  He walks around the house singing songs he doesn’t even know the lyrics to.   Badly.    He will throw a towel on the floor that he plans to use after showering.  How does that make and freaking sense?

Alanis:  When does he go away again for a day or two?

Jeter:  Don’t know, but the sooner the better.

Me:   If you have a Golden Retriever, you likely have your own set of quirks to share about them.   Some quirks are traits that many Goldens have, while others are traits that may be very unique to your dog.  Jeter’s “water sniffing” is something I have never seen before.   I have never known a dog to simply walk away from something they instinctively are supposed to drink.   I have heard of Goldens that do similar things when it comes to their food – refusing to eat it unless it is presented in a specific way.   Having unique dogs will lead to very few dull moments in your dog-owning lives.

 

Golden Retrievers Speak: Jeter’s Birthday

Alanis:  Happy Birthday, Jeter!   I can’t believe my big brother is now eight years old!

Jeter:  Age is just a number.  I don’t feel a day over one week.  To be exact, I don’t even know what a birthday is or how I am supposed to feel as I get “older.”  I will just do what I always do – live every second to the fullest.

Alanis:  That is very philosophical, brother – but also stupid.   Come on, do you want us to really believe that?

Jeter:   We’re dogs, egghead!   We have no concept of time, other than when our internal clocks go off for breakfast and dinner!   We sleep when we feel like it, and take our cues from our human parents!  “They went to sleep?  OK, guess we should too”

Alanis:  You are annoying.  You are EIGHT years old.   You have to feel something, no?   Today, we played fetch outside and you got a nice collection of new toys and treats!

Jeter:  New toys that you conveniently stole from me….

Alanis:  What is a younger sister for, any way, if not for stealing your stuff?

Jeter:  Not that I typically care.  That is what makes the dynamic in this house so special – we don’t get possessive over treats, toys, or food.   I think I have on a few occasions given you the dirty eye when you came close to one of my bones though!

Alanis:  Yes, when you are chewing, you don’t typically like being bothered.  Not that it stops me from trying, of course.

Jeter:   We went for a nice 80 minute walk on my birthday.  It was a beautiful day today – more like middle-of-the-spring than middle-of-the-summer.   Neither one of us even felt the urge to go to the bathroom – we just walked, and walked, and walked.

Alanis:  Daddy did twist his ankle on a curb, though.

Jeter:  Par for the course when it comes to that idiot.  I am sure a people get a kick out of watching him *try* to walk us.

Alanis:   Back to the grind of Monday tomorrow.  I hate Mondays.

Jeter:  Ummmmm..what is a Monday and why should I care?

Alanis:  I don’t know.  Daddy just says he hates Monday.  I assume that means we should hate Monday too.

Jeter:   I guess Monday is another word for broccoli.    I don’t like broccoli.

Alanis:  Guess so.  But doesn’t daddy like broccoli?

Jeter:  I don’t know, nor do I care.   Whatever Monday is, I hope he doesn’t try to give it to us.

Alanis:  Happy Birthday, Jeter!  I wuf you!

Jeter:  Thank you.  It is time for my birthday nap, which interestingly enough, I do very often regardless if it is my birthday.

Me:   Not much to add here!   We spoil our dogs on their birthday, because they are our children!  We obviously recognize that we are celebrating more for US than we are for them!

Golden Retrievers Speak: Summer Fruit!

Jeter:    Daddy has been bringing home some fruit from the farm stand lately!  I guess it is that time of year again!

Alanis:   Nothing beats fresh fruit, Jeter!

Jeter:  Well, except for sniffing each other’s butts, biting at each other’s legs, going for walks, going for rides, eating ice cream..

Alanis:  OK, we get it Jeter – you have interests beyond fruit!

Jeter:   Oh, shut up – you are the one that barks at anything that moves, and even stuff that doesn’t move..so don’t be telling me that I have bizarre interests!

Alanis:   Barking is what dogs do!  Duh!  Woof woof woof!  Something you never have been able to do with any consistency!  You just let out little “puffing” noises!

Jeter:  When I bark, it means SOMETHING.  When you bark, the humans have to guess whether it means something because you ALWAYS DO IT!  “Time for a walk!”  WOOF WOOF.   “Time to eat!”  WOOF WOOF.    “Time to jump off the couch!”  WOOF WOOF.   “Time to breathe air!”  WOOF WOOF.

Alanis:   Wasn’t this supposed to be about summer fruit?

Jeter:    The people at the farm stand like Daddy.  That is only because they don’t have to live with him.

Alanis:  True, that!  Today, we got BLUEBERRIES!

Jeter:   We love blueberries!   Of course, they have to feed them to us in moderation for the time being – too much of a good thing can have us running outside a bit more than we would want to, if you catch my drift.

Alanis:  We couldn’t get the blueberries out of my bowl!

Jeter:  I don’t know why we couldn’t figure that part out.    They came out of my bowl so easily!

Alanis:  It was annoying.   That was hours ago, and I bet if Mommy didn’t help us, we would still be trying to get them out!

Jeter:    Nothing beats a true New Jersey Blueberry!   So good, and so good for us!

Alanis:  Yep!  People sometimes buy these treats for us – our parents do too! – but stuff like blueberries makes us just as happy as a Beggin Strip.

Jeter:  We don’t get Beggin’ Strips….

Alanis:  Daddy is a meanie, that’s why.

Jeter:    Why don’t we get anything else from the farm stand?  Apples are good for us, too!  Some vegetables can be incorporated into our diet as well.   But we usually get stuck with the blueberries!

Alanis:  Ask daddy.  My guess is that he saves everything else for himself,  because he is selfish that way.

Jeter:  Just ask Mommy about that – he only buys stuff for himself.  We are lucky we don’t just get stale bread.

Alanis:   He would probably take that for himself, too.

Jeter:   We should demand more variety!  More than just blueberries!

Alanis:    Yep.   How about some liverwurst from time to time?

Jeter:  That isn’t a fruit, you idiot.

Alanis:   Well, it should be.

Jeter:  Why do I bother?

Me:   Dogs can get the same benefits as us humans can from fruits and vegetables, but remember that there are some that dogs are not allowed to have.  For example, grapes are toxic to dogs and should not be given to them under any circumstances.  Onions are also a bad choice, but humans also don’t typically sit around the table eating raw onion.

A full list can be found here.

Dogs don’t really care what they get for treats, so giving them something “healthy” doesn’t ring a bell to them like it does to us humans.  Sometimes, when we are presented with a choice between two scoops of ice cream vs. an organic fruit smoothie, we take the ice cream!  Our brains are wired that way.  Dogs?  They don’t care if they get the smoothie, the ice cream, a rice cake, or a blueberry.  They will eat it all.

 

Golden Retrievers Speak: Extreme Heat!

Jeter:   Last week was not a fun week for Alanis & myself.    The air in our home wasn’t working, leading to a very uncomfortable environment for us doggies!  It became so warm inside the house that we barely even wanted to play with each other!

Alanis:  Yes, you know the house is uncomfortable when we have no interest in playing.  We tried, and had our moments, but for the most part, we rested a lot.

Jeter:  It was a situation where it was nicer outside than it was inside!   Daddy skipped one day of walking us, but took us for a quick walk during the second day of the mini heat wave.  It actually felt good to get outside of this sauna.

Alanis:   Daddy said they are in the process of replacing the air conditioning system!  That will be nice!

Jeter:  Correct – the lazy man finally was able to find someone to come out to look at the unit.   I will not have peace of mind until everything new is in place, though.    We are almost in June, so another heat wave can come at any time!

Alanis:  Thankfully, we have our long coats……

Jeter:   Isn’t that funny?  People sometimes feel bad for us because of our long coats.  Our coats actually protect us from the heat.    Our coats actually work as insulators, just like inside of a house.   If you don’t have heat in the house on a cold day, the insulation will prevent the house from becoming too unbearable.  The same is true for our coats!   If we are outside on a 5-degree day, certainly we can get cold – however, our coats keep us comfortable.  It is the way nature works – we weren’t originally built with heaters and air conditioners in mind.   We were originally built to stay comfortable regardless of the weather.

Alanis:  Correct!  We should never be shaved during the summer.   That could lead to sunburn and actually make us less comfortable.    Just make sure we have water, and our bodies will take care of the rest.   We also know where the coolest and warmest areas of the house are.  We’ll seek them out and we will find them.  That is just a part of who we are.

Jeter:  This definitely does not mean our bodies can withstand any extreme condition you throw at us.  We can, and WILL, overheat.   If we are left in a hot car, we will overheat, for example.    We pant to stay cool – if the rate of our panting can’t keep up with the temperatures our bodies are feeling, we will overheat.

Alanis:   Is there anything a human can do to help us?  Would throwing us in a pool of ice water help?

Jeter:   We should throw Daddy in a pool of ice water just for the comedy of it all.  It isn’t necessary for us, however.   We sweat through our paws, believe it or not.  If you notice we are overheating, find a way to cool off our paws.  That will help us regulate our body temperature again.

Alanis:   Can we still go for walks on hot days?

Jeter:  Yes!  But we have to rely on our humans to make the correct decision on hot days.  Try not to take us in the middle of a hot day, because – duh – that is when it is hottest.  If you don’t like walking at night, you can take us before the sun goes down.    It isn’t just about the heat hitting our bodies, it is also about walking on hot asphalt if you must walk on some road surfaces.    For the humans:  Put your hand on the asphalt.  If you can’t keep your hand there for long because it is too hot, it is also likely too hot for our paws.

Alanis:   We will still be enthusiastic, because we are dogs!  That is why Daddy has to make the call that is in our best interests!

Jeter:    We all love a good, long walk – but health should always come first.

Alanis:  Correct!  If Daddy passes out, who cares?  We have great noses and will find our way back home.  If we pass out, however, that can be a disaster.  Be careful with us is all we ask.

Jeter:   That was mean, but oh so true – we would find our way back to Mommy.

Alanis:   Thankfully, the temperatures have gone down again and we are once again comfortable and playful.

Jeter:   Daddy went out to buy a couple of fans, and you are afraid of the one in the bedroom!

Alanis:  Yeah, yeah – like you are Mr. Brave all of a sudden!  Pulllleeeeeaaaaasssseeee!

Me:  The dogs summed it all up perfectly.  There isn’t a need to shave a long-haired dog in the summer.  Their hair helps keep them comfortable.    If you run into a situation like the one we had, make sure they have plenty of water.   They may search out comfortable places to lay down.   After we got the fans, Jeter found a perfect spot that was both underneath our ceiling fans AND within range of one of the tower fans we purchased.  As I said, they figure it out.   If you don’t have carpeting, they will also likely lay down more on the colder surfaces of your floor rather than jump on a couch or bed (if you allow for that!)

If you see signs of overheating, cool off their paws immediately.     Call the vet and take them in.   Overheating is just as dangerous for them as it is for us – do not take it for granted that they have “recovered” after you cool them down.   Better be safe than sorry.

The summer months can be a lot of fun for you and your dog – nicer days to play outside, etc.  If you monitor their activity and watch for lethargy, you will be able to enjoy the months ahead without much of a worry.

Golden Retrievers Speak: A Walk Through the Neighborhood

Jeter:   One of my favorite daily activities is my long walk through the neighborhood.  Daddy takes us down a bunch of different streets so that we can get different sights and smells.  Yes, as dogs, we LOVE that!   We’ll take any walk, but if you can occasionally get us down a street we rarely frequent, it makes it even that much better.

Alanis:  I have grown to like walks.  I didn’t like them at first.  My first family even told Daddy that I was a very stubborn walker who didn’t want to walk more than a block before stopping.     Through training and recognizing how much fun these adventures can be, I have grown to enjoy them more.  I no longer resist, and I am less insistent on going down the streets that I instinctively know take me closer to home….

Jeter:  That was a Josh trait.  When Josh was done walking, he just knew what roads would get him back faster, and would start pulling Daddy towards them.  He had a limit in his head, and when he was done, he let you know.

Alanis:  We met a new yellow lab recently.  She lives right next door to the older yellow lab that used to run along the fence when we would come into view.  He doesn’t do that any more (though maybe he will when it gets warmer again?), but he does lay next to the front door and bark at us when we walk by.  The new lab acts just like the older one did was he was younger – runs along the fence, barking at us when we walk by.      We know exactly what house it is, because we get all excited walking by the house even when she is not outside.

Jeter:    It is always fun to see new dogs in the neighborhood, and there are a lot of them.  There is another new dog right down the street – we haven’t really met him or her yet, but she lives in the same house as another yellow lab once did years ago.

Alanis:  How about the young kids we walk by every day?

Jeter:    Daddy gets uncomfortable with them, because he doesn’t know their intentions!   Rarely do kids ask to pet us nowadays, but when they do, he is very quick to point out that both of us WILL jump when we get excited.  He won’t really let us go by kids he thinks we will knock over!

Alanis:  How about that kid in the wagon the other day?   YOU MADE HIM CRY!

Jeter:  LOL…yeah, as the father was petting you, I went over to the wagon and licked the toddler.   He was crying within five seconds.  I was only trying to be friendly! 🙁

Alanis:  He may have just been crying at the sight of Daddy.

Jeter:   I think that definitely contributed.

Alanis:   I hear I am a bit like Josh in that I want to greet everyone when we walk?

Jeter:   Yes.  The difference is that people actually are taken aback a bit by you because as you go towards them, you bark!   Josh never did that.  Plus, you are not as insistent as Josh was.  He wouldn’t let Daddy (or the people walking!) take no for an answer.  You are more willing to just keep on walking.

Alanis:  Like with the woman reading the meters a few weeks ago?

Jeter:  She WANTED to pet us, but we jumped all over her.  We are so sorry.   We didn’t mean to!  We just get so excited, especially since we have so much adrenaline running through us because of the walk!

Alanis:   Daddy hates loose dogs.

Jeter:   Yeah, if you want to make Daddy mad, just leave your dog unleashed in your front yard.    I hope he realizes that he isn’t always talking under his breath when he begins to curse….

Alanis:    Most of the dogs don’t come at us, but when they do…..

Jeter:  It isn’t pretty…..

Me:   The dogs are correct – I hate it with a PASSION when I see an unleashed dog in someone’s front yard.  Our two dogs are very sweet, but are also BONDED and will defend each other if they sense even a hint of danger.  And, to a dog, a dog coming straight at them from a yard is certainly a hint of danger.   We have had very few instances, and I do try to turn quickly before the other dog can recognize we are coming.

As for children and all of that, I let my dogs greet kids who I think are old enough to withstand a potential jump.   My dogs do not run and jump…they get close to you, and start to jump when you begin to pet them.   If the kid is too small, they can easily get knocked over.  I remember a year ago or so, there was a group of 20-somethings hanging out by a car.  One of the young women in the group shouted at me, asking if she could pet them.   Of course, I let her – but the moment she got them excited, they jumped all over her.   I assume she had to probably change her “night out on the town!” clothes after that.

As always, just keep your dog safe and keep the neighborhood safe.  You know your dog better than anyone, but recognize there are things kids do that your dog just might not like.   Our dogs have not been exposed to many young children, so I am naturally hesitant to let my dogs greet them.   If my dogs are their first experience with a dog, it could scar them for life if they get knocked down!   I wouldn’t want that.

Goldens are generally great with kids, though.  My dogs are no exception to that rule generally.    A bit of caution will keep everyone safe…..