Golden Retrievers Speak: Memories of Josh

Alanis:   I wish I would have known Josh when he was younger – he was still a healthy dog when I got here, but he had already slowed down and his play time was limited to just playing a bit with Jeter.  He mostly ran away when Jeter and I would play.

Jeter:  You have no idea, girl.     We had some fun play sessions together.   The best memories I always will have with Josh were our beach days.   We would go in opposite directions – Mommy would take Josh for a sea shell tour, while I played ball with Daddy.    The funniest thing about Josh is that he HATED the ocean water.  He was like a 2-year old kid feeling the ocean water for the first time – he would hop back and generally just not like the sensation at all.  Meanwhile, I LOVED the ocean water and would often leave the beach soaked.

Alanis:   It has already been stated, but my best memory of Josh was Day 1.  My daddy and my previous owner got a kick out of how Josh sniffed me and walked off.    Daddy told her that it is exactly how he expected it go down, but it was funny.   He would rather prance around the park than be bothered “feeling me out” as a new member of the pack.

Jeter:   Josh hated the rain, which is interesting for a dog who (as I have heard) would run through the sprinklers when he was younger.   There were days when he would go 24 hours without going outside just because of the rain.  Often, it would get to the point where he knew he had no choice, so he rushed outside, ran under the deck, and rushed back in.

Alanis:    I remember our rides as a “threesome” together.   My parents don’t exactly own a car meant for three big Golden Retrievers, but we found a way to make it work.   Josh used to love laying down in the back seat, but he didn’t mind sitting up just so all three of us could be comfortable!

Jeter:  He was the quietest dog ever in the car.   Our parents often commented on whether Josh was actually back there!  He would occasionally do his “happy pant”, but there were times when he would be as far back in the back seat as possible, not making any noise at all.

Alanis:   I never had the opportunity to take walks with Josh.   I don’t think Daddy walked us once together.

Jeter:   He didn’t.  I was getting two walks a day – one with him, and one with you.    Walking with Josh was fun.   Daddy loved it because Josh was a dog who quickly lost interest in squirrels during walks.    If this wasn’t a busy area, Daddy could have walked Josh without a leash.  He would just prance along, forcing people to greet him even if they wanted nothing to do with him.  I like to think that Josh made dog lovers out of people who probably weren’t dog lovers before meeting him.

Alanis:   I missed so much, but Jeter has told me so much about his younger days – the play sessions, the long and short rides, the walks, etc.

Jeter:    I have only scratched the surface with you, girl.   I will continue to tell you stories every time a new memory comes into my head.

Alanis:   How about that damn “turtle” toy?

Jeter:  Oh, yes – the turtle.  See, everyone, Josh wanted nothing to do with tennis balls.  Nothing.  Some humans say that they have never seen a Golden who didn’t like a good game of fetch with a tennis ball.  Well, Josh was one.   He would occasionally catch a ball if daddy tossed him one, but more often than not, he would just let the ball hit him in the nose.   But when it came to that TURTLE, watch out!  He carried and whipped that thing around every day – he broke so many of those toys that I think our parents took out a home loan just to keep up with getting him new ones.

Alanis:  I do remember that on Christmas, they would give Josh the toys first, just so he can carry them around – 99% of the time, he would do a few laps with the new toy, drop it, and never care about it again.  He would go right back to his turtle.

Jeter:  He was also a big fan of bones.  He loved his bones.

Alanis:  Hide and seek with treats!  I haven’t really played that game much, but when I first came here, daddy played that game often.  He would have us “wait” somewhere in the house.  He would hide treats all over the house and have us find them.   Josh likely always found the most (he learned all the hiding places before Jeter and I even got here!), but that game was fun.

Jeter:   I can talk about this all night.  The two of us have shown, in different ways, how much we miss our friend.   I am probably more out of whack than she is, for obvious reasons.   He was our leader – a true alpha – and now, we kind of lack direction within the pack.

Alanis:  Yep.   We will figure it out, buddy – it was just easier letting him call the shots, while we just did our own thing.

Me:   The house dynamic has really changed over the past week.  The dogs are just having some trouble, I think, figuring out what exactly to do next in terms of forming a hierarchy here.  As I stated yesterday, they will figure all of that out.

Our entire household continues to miss Josh, and we always will.    For as long as we all live, we will never forget the first dog that gave this entire household so much joy.  

 

Golden Retrievers Speak: Do We “Grieve”?

Jeter:     This is such a complex question.    You can read different articles from different perspectives on whether we grieve when a member of our pack passes away.      I will say this – we don’t grieve like humans do.    Since we don’t really understand the concept of death while we are living, we can’t really “rationalize” it when another member of our pack dies.  However, there could be other dynamics going on.

Alanis:   For example, Daddy caught me the other day laying down in the middle of the kitchen.    The middle of the kitchen had become Josh’s spot for the last few months of his life.    This is not a spot I have been known to rest in, so why do I lay there?    The most plausible is that Josh’s scent is obviously still in the house – the humans probably can’t sense it, but we can.    It is also possible that I am wondering where the other dog in the house went, and since that is his spot, I am just waiting for him to return to it.    This isn’t necessarily “grieving” – it is me being a bit out of sorts because he has left.

Jeter:  Speaking of out of sorts, I have been a crazy dog since the dreaded day.  I am an excitable Golden Retriever – always have been.  But I have been extreme for the past several days.   When I go for walks, I am laser focused on the walk – today, I kept drifting over next to where Alanis was walking.    I have read (in those doggie books that only we can read) that one sign of a dog who is distressed over losing a member of their pack is the tendency to be clingy.  I have always been a clingy dog anyway, but I have taken it to new extremes lately.  I want nothing to do with being alone.   I should also note that I have done some sniffing around the house.

Alanis:   Do you think it is possible that we are acting up a bit because he was the alpha dog?

Jeter:   Maybe.    Although Josh was no longer leading us in the last few months, the respect was likely never lost.    Now we don’t have that respected leader.  Neither myself nor Alanis has alpha tendencies.   Sure, I am being fed first now, and Daddy usually leashes me up first for walks, etc.   But I have zero interest in the role of a true alpha dog….at least now.

Alanis:  You have been humping me more often though!

Jeter:   True.  And it is true that a dog that humps another dog could be showing some alpha.    But I used to hump Josh as well.  And I have always humped you.   But I am extremely submissive, and rarely do I bark at Alanis or any other dog if I am “angry” with them.     It could just be our pack dynamic right now in this house.  Neither one of us cares whether we lead – Josh took pride in being THE dog.   But that can change once the dust settles.

Alanis:    How about the fact that we both acted strangely when we went for rides in the car?

Jeter:   Josh’s scent was all over the car at that point.  We went through a bit of craziness because we knew that scent.  It doesn’t mean we necessarily understood everything, but it could have provided us some “doggie closure”.

Alanis:   Very true.   I usually get in the back seat and instantly go to sleep.   That day, I was going to a training class and I was going crazy in the back seat.

Jeter:  Yep.  I did a lot of sniffing.

Alanis:   So, do we grieve?    Yes and no.   If there was a dog funeral, for example, we wouldn’t walk in with our tails between our legs and our heads down.  We just don’t think of things that way.  What we likely CAN figure out is that our friend is no longer with us, for whatever that reason may be, and that we have some sort of sense of what a certain scent may indicate.

Jeter:  Indeed.  Don’t ask us to rationalize what “death” means.  But do realize that we likely have some sense over a dog that leaves with the intention of coming back vs. a dog that leaves that won’t be coming back.    And understand that different dogs can act differently.  I have heard that many dogs will start howling when one dog leaves the pack.  This is not necessarily grieving – this is likely the dog thinking their friend is simply lost, and they are trying to bring the dog back.

Me:     This is a topic that is impossible to really know the full answer to.  Researchers continue to find out that dogs are much more complex than we give them credit for sometimes.  The behavior of our two dogs has certainly changed a bit, and it is much more noticeable in Jeter.     Using human logic, it is easy to make a connection:  Josh was essentially Jeter’s leader – he let Jeter know on multiple occasions that he was the alpha dog in this house.  Jeter played with him, licked him constantly, went on many rides together, etc.  It simply is not a coincidence that Jeter would be more out of sorts than Alanis would be.    This all tells me there is an emotional thing going on – again, probably not the same emotions my wife and I feel.    

If you have two or more surviving dogs, it is very important to not force the issue with them in terms of house structure.  If one of them attempts to become the new pack leader, don’t jump in and say “NO!  We want this other one to lead the pack!”  It won’t work.  Let them figure out their own hierarchy.  Jeter’s increased “humping” of Alanis can certainly be a sign that he is trying to be a bit more assertive in this house, but there is really no way of knowing what the dynamic will be, if it changes at all.     Give your other dogs some extra love and attention.  Play with them, or let them go crazy with each other.   When humans go through a traumatic event, usually we do things to take our mind off of what happened.  Applying that same strategy to your dog can be beneficial for them to get past the loss of a pack mate.

Letter from Josh – July 5, 2004 – February 3, 2017

This blog’s twist since the day I opened up shop a few weeks ago is that it a blog about dogs…told from the perspective of the dogs themselves.    I can write forever on the cherished life of Josh, but I don’t know how much justice I can really provide.

Josh:    Well, I guess if you are sitting there typing this up, it means I am no longer there.      But trust me, I am there – I am always going to be there in some way, shape, or form.   Whether it be through Jeter or Alanis or any dog you may have in the future – they all will learn things that were passed down due to your experiences with me.

When you are a dog, the concept of time is meaningless.   If we run around a meadow as a 5-day old puppy or as a 15-year old senior, it all means the same to us.   We don’t care if we live for five days or 5,000 days – we just live.    We celebrate every day we are on Earth because we have no other choice – it is what we do.     While it was certainly great to be four years old and running around on the beach, I still enjoyed my time as a 12-year old dog with little mobility.   If I was happy, you were happy.   If you were happy, I was happy.   That was always the goal in this relationship.

I know you will grieve over my passing and that you will miss me. (Because how can one not miss all of my beauty, inside and out?), but always think two great thoughts for every sad one – you will find that it is easier to move on that way.      Never think about what may have gone wrong, because in my eyes, everything you did was right – even if it didn’t always go the way that was planned.

I remember the day you brought me home – crazy people coming up to the mountains of Pennsylvania after a snow storm for little ol’ me. (OK, there was never anything little about me – from the size of my body to the size of my personality to the size of my heart.  Am I bragging?   Perhaps, but I know it to be true).   I remember my Mommy instantly falling in love with me (so much so that I instantly farted – something I would continue to do all the way back home to New Jersey.  I found it funny).    I remember the woman saying “I will leave for a bit so you can discuss”, and you taking a minute to say “OF COURSE WE’LL TAKE HIM!”   It was a scary but fun first night.  Conquering those darn stairs was hard for me, but once I did, I was unstoppable.

Through the years, I was a little bit of everything all rolled up in one big, giant ball of fur.   I was the playful, crazy dog that pranced around the house carrying a big toy with eight legs that my parents called a “turtle” (Silly humans – it was a SPIDER!).   I was the dog that would lay by your side when you weren’t feeling well.  I was the dog who had the “Josh Patrol” – Iate at night, when my parents were watching TV, I would get up and just start walking through all the downstairs rooms, looking through the windows as if I was on guard duty.   I was the dog that could be next to you one moment, and off in my own little world the next.       I would walk on the beach for miles, collecting sea shells – I would run out in the snow, rolling around in it as if I was a polar bear.    When I was young, I would go outside at the crack of dawn just so I could run through the sprinklers.  I was an imp, but I didn’t care – after all, any mess I made, my parents would have to clean up.

I loved going for walks around the neighborhood, greeting everyone who walked by regardless if they wanted to pet me or not.  (trust me, most of them ended up having no choice BUT to pet me).    I loved hopping in the car to go for rides, no matter how long or short they were.  My parents took me everywhere.   I had the life of a king, and one of my nicknames was King Josh.

When my parents brought home a bunny rabbit, I didn’t miss a beat.   I loved that little guy for the short time we had together.  When they brought home Jeter, I welcomed him with open paws, even if he was a little pain in the ass.  When I met Alanis, well – at that point, I had reached retirement and wanted nothing to do with her lunacy.   I met her in a dog park – gave her a few sniffs and ran off.  That was the Josh Stamp of Approval.

I can go on and on, but I am getting tired – and seriously, I would rather eat and drink than type up a full memoir.

To my mommy:  Thank you for everything.  I was your Great Protector because I knew how much you loved me.   You showered me with so much love and affection, and of course, TREATS!  (the way to a Golden’s heart is through the treat bag).    You say that I was the perfect dog – well, you were the perfect owner that molded me into the perfect dog.  Our beauty shines through our owners.

To my daddy:  Thanks for all of the walks and constantly playing with me.   You know I will always be Mommy’s dog, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate what you gave. (I would have been happier with less vet visits though.  I swear that early on he would take me to the vet if I had a hangnail)

To Jeter:  Carry on the tradition, my friend.  You were a pain in the ass at times, but you would always give me kisses at the end of our play time.  Those kisses continued to happen just about every day even when my playing days were over.  You were my first partner in crime, and we shared so many days on the beach and meatballs in our bowls.    I loved the 7+ years we had together.

To Alanis:   Sorry for snapping at you that one time, but you deserved it for constantly trying to make an old dog play with you.   Seriously though – my Daddy has said you share some of my traits (don’t get cocky – I didn’t say ALL of my traits!  I never ripped through drywall or couch cushions!)    Continue to mature and blossom into the dog you are becoming. Part of me actually loved it when I would see you torment Jeter – PAYBACK!

To all of those who came in contact with me:  Thanks for all the welcomes, all the meatballs, all the Milk Bones, and all of the love.  I know people in this neighborhood loved my wagging tail when I was walking, and I always overheard Daddy tell Mommy how people asked about me when I could no longer go for walks.     It is always nice to be loved, even by those who don’t know you.

My life was full and my journey was complete.    I hope that one day people can sit back and think about how dogs view the world, and try to envision it like we do.  No greed (except when it comes to TREATS!), no hate, no fighting over petty differences.   Live today as if tomorrow isn’t even on the calendar – don’t be limited by the numbers on a clock or the next page of a calendar.   The next number may never come, and the next page may never be turned.

The circle of life is often not fair, in the mind of humans.  For me, the circle of life was perfectly fair and overwhelmingly positive.  I stamped my paw print in the lives of many, left their lives knowing they were better for having known me than if they didn’t, and never let a second go by without appreciating everything.  What was not to love?   I know not of death – I only know life.  And damn, was it ever precious.

Love to everyone –

Josh

Me:    Josh will forever be missed by us – he was a special dog with special traits that just don’t come around often.    He was the type of dog you could easily take for granted because he really never did ANYTHING wrong.  We tried not to fall into that trap, though.   He was loved not only by us, but an ENTIRE neighborhood of people who often commented about him when we would walk by.    I don’t know where this decade + went, but I DO know that it wouldn’t have been the same without him.   Rest in peace, dear friend.  Hope the rainbow bridge is filled with gourmet treats and plenty of fuzzy “turtles”.  We love you.

 

Golden Retrievers Speak: Super Bowl Picks!

Josh:  I’ve had a rough few days, but I am going to still give my analysis of this game.

Jeter:  I love the Super Bowl!   There are always plenty of dog commercials to choose from!

Alanis:  I love it when a Golden Retriever scores!

Josh:  That’s the Puppy Bowl, jackass.

Alanis:  Oh.

Jeter:   The Puppy Bowl is fun to watch, too.  Who is playing in the Super Bowl this year?   Are the Golden Retrievers in it?

Me:  There doesn’t exist a team in any professional sport called the Golden Retrievers.

Josh:  Well, there should be – Patriots?  Falcons?  What kind of names are those?

Jeter:   I don’t like the Patriots.

Alanis:  Nobody does.  I think even Patriots fans are getting tired of them.

Josh:    OK, what are our predictions?  I need to get back to sleep – I haven’t been feeling well 🙁

Jeter:  Sorry, Josh – we can tell when your days are rough.  I am going with Falcons 34, Patriots 28!

Alanis:   That’s a lot of touchdowns!

Jeter:   You get six points for every touchdown, girl.

Alanis:  Oh.

Josh:  Enough of your bickering.  I am going with Falcons 27, Patriots 21.

Alanis:   If touchdowns are worth six points each, why aren’t any of your scores multiples of six?

Jeter:  Ummmm…oh, never mind.

Alanis:  Well, it’s dumb.  So I am going with the only thing that makes sense.  Multiples of six!   Falcons 30, Patriots 18

Josh:  That score is almost impossible, but whatever – you can have your fun.  I am back to bed.

Jeter:   Hope you feel better Josh.   I hope everyone enjoys Super Bowl Sunday!

Me:  The only tip I can give today is to watch those snacks!  Dogs are sneaky, sneaky!  Leave some chips in a spot where they can reach them and you will end up sometimes with zero chips.  To emphasize this point, Jeter and Alanis are very well-trained not to touch anything.  Tonight, Colleen left a biscuit in the bedroom and went into another room.  When she returned, no more biscuit!  So just be aware that Goldie may try their own little sneak attack.  Enjoy the game!  

Golden Retrievers Speak: Showing Love and Respect

Jeter:    Let me first point out that daddy got the idea for us to talk about this particular topic from his sister, who posted a picture of one of her dogs licking the other in the face.   This is one of MY favorite things to do.    I have licked Josh since Day 1, and started doing it to Alanis not long after she got here.

Josh:   He loves to lick my face and my ears.   When I was younger and more mobile, he would sometimes get to the point where I would get annoyed and we would start wrestling.   Of course, Jeter never won a wrestling match against me.

Jeter:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.   So, you may be asking why I do this, and why the other two don’t do it as often?    There are several reasons why one dog may lick another dog.   One of them could be a sign of respect.   The most common reason, however, is likely more of a bonding/friendship type of thing.    I often lick the other dog after a play session.   To me, it could be a way of showing a special bond towards the other dog.    Alanis sometimes licks me back, but not always.  Why is that?  Let us ask her that question!     Let us see you wiggle your way out of this one, diva!

Alanis:   There really isn’t an explanation.  It doesn’t mean that Jeter likes me more than I like him.  It just means I may have other ways to show our bond.  For example, I love to follow Jeter around.  I love to get close to him when we go to bed at night.   Dogs are very complex in how we interact with each other.  Just like with humans, we have different ways to display our affection to other dogs in the house, IF indeed we actually do like the other dog.   If not, there could be problems.

Josh:  I’ve never liked you, Alanis.

Alanis:   :'(

Josh:   Get over it.   Actually, because I was already an older dog when Alanis came into the house, my play days were pretty much over.   The way for me to show her that I didn’t want to play was by essentially ignoring her if she went into a play stance.    It wasn’t a sign of dislike or disdain – it was a sign of “I am not into that anymore – sorry”.   It is actually quite funny, to me at least – stuff I would “yell” at Jeter for doing to me I would rarely (if ever) yell at Alanis for.   I just was beyond the point of really caring about it.

Jeter:  Yeah, she’s lucky that I am not as “strict” as Josh was!  He would kick the crap out of me when I got out of line.  I do not do the same to Alanis if she gets out of line.  I am a submissive dog that wants no part of being the “alpha” in any pack.

Alanis:   I am actually similar in that regard – alpha does not interest me.   But since two submissive dogs don’t make for much fun, I tend to be a little less submissive when playing with Jeter!

Jeter:  The interesting part of the relationship with Alanis is that I didn’t actually like her at first.   But that is true of any “new” dog I meet.  I was not happy to see her when we first got together – but five minutes later, we were playing in the park as if we knew each other forever.

Josh:   I accepted that little brat Jeter the first day he came into this house.   If only I knew better – I was the boss, after all.  If I didn’t like having another dog or animal in this house, I could have easily rejected the idea and my parents would have had no choice other than to keep me as an only dog!

Jeter:   Your biggest mistake was liking the rabbit they had for a little while, Josh!  If you reject the rabbit, they may not have even TRIED to bring another animal into the house.

Josh:   Yep.    We co-exist great as three dogs in this house.  There really isn’t much of an alpha anymore, since I have retired from caring about any of that stuff.   I was the ruler of the dog world when I wanted to be, though.

Me:   Relationships between multiple animals in your household can be complicated.   As Jeter pointed out, we once had a rabbit in this house who tragically passed away.  Josh had no issues at all with that rabbit.  We never left them alone together, but he was perfectly OK with a bunny hopping around in the exercise room.   When it comes to multiple dogs, the best case scenario will always be that they can coexist in the household without any issues.  Like humans, dogs will have the occasional “disagreement”.  Unlike humans, they can usually let it go instead of holding a 50-year grudge over spilled grape juice.    As I like to say in this blog, watch your dogs closely for anything obvious.  It is essentially a bad thing if one dog is constantly growling at another dog.     Consider licking, cuddling up next to each other, not fighting over food, etc. as good things.  Dogs by nature are pack animals that will form their own little hierarchy.  Don’t try to fight their hierarchy unless you are getting the feeling that they are trying to be the true leader of the entire household (meaning:  Including YOU).   They have many years of evolution on their side, and will be able to figure it out for themselves.  In the meantime, consider a multi-dog house without any (or many) issues to be a blessing.  

Golden Retrievers Speak: Wet Doggie!

Jeter:    Daddy woke up today on a mission:  He was going to take us for a walk regardless of the weather, as tomorrow figures to be a very windy and rainy day!   He is crazy about the weather – and when I say crazy, I mean OBSESSED.  He is a lunatic.   If they predict a wind gust of 10 MPH, he wants to run into the basement that we don’t even have.    Anyway, today he thought he had a window to walk us in.  A window where it may drizzle and shower a bit, but it wouldn’t actually rain.  Boy, was he wrong.

Alanis:   And, of course, the rain finds a way to make me even more hyper than I already am.   At one point during the walk, I was gearing up to do some zoomies, while on a leash!    He put an end to that real fast, but I was a very hyper dog on today’s walk because of the rain.

Jeter:  Too hyper, you lunatic.  When that leash is on me and I am going for a walk, I am laser focused on one thing and one thing only:   WALKING!   Sure, I may become distracted by a cat or a squirrel.  I may want to sniff a tree from time to time, but I want to walk!  Walking is not play time.    And in this area, playing can be dangerous, as some of the roads can be a bit busy.

Alanis:  Oh, he has experience walking us by now Jeter – we won’t get hurt!  Weeeeeeeee!  Let’s play.   Oh, and bark too!  I love to bark at anything and everything that walks by me during a walk.  It is fun to embarrass my daddy as people thing I am some sort of monster just because I bark.   I am WAGGING M Y TAIL, people!  I do it for attention.

Me:  You sure do.  And some people are indeed scared of that behavior.  It is pretty funny, really – it goes back to my basic point:  Don’t ever assume a dog is friendly just because he is seemingly panting and smiling as he is walking.  And don’t assume the dog is mean because he is barking at you.  Pay attention to other cues, and never approach a dog unless the person walking the dog gives permission.  That person knows all about the dog’s personality.

Jeter:  Since when do you interrupt us while we are talking, daddy?  Wait your turn.

Josh:  Sorry, I was sleeping.  Are we talking about treats?   I love treats!

Alanis:  Go back to bed, dog.  We are not talking about treats!

Jeter:    Anyway, the walk was a good 50 minutes and, of course, it rained a lot more than daddy thought it would (don’t give up your day job, moron).   Alanis and I came into the house soaked.  Completely and utterly soaked.  And of course, daddy (with his pea-sized brain) wiped us off with a DIRTY TOWEL.  That worked well, Einstein.

Alanis:    What a mess we were!  But of course, we don’t care.  We want to run around the house, shaking the water off of us on every possible piece of furniture we can find.

Jeter:  I hear they refuse to get nice things because of us.

Josh:    Treats are nice!

Alanis:   Ugh.    Anyway, yes – we were drenched.   It was not easy to dry us off, but eventually, we dried off well and went on with our day.

Me:  Wet dogs, indeed.  It was a mess, but when you walk into a bit of a downpour 20 minutes into the walk, there is no real use to turn back – may as well finish what was started.  Golden Retrievers have thick coats, and if those coats get wet, it can be a bear to dry them off.  Jeter actually has a perfect coat that typically will dry off quickly, but for today, it took a bit longer.   When Josh would walk in the rain or get caught outside in the rain, it was a complete disaster, as his coat is very thick and unruly.     Alanis is somewhere between – she doesn’t have the coat of a bear like Josh, but also doesn’t have the smoother, silkier coat that Jeter was blessed with.  Any way, there isn’t really much of a “lesson” today..other than making sure you have plenty of “dog towels” at your disposal for days like today.    Dogs will get wet, and they aren’t vain about it.   A couple of hours after the walk, Alanis was outside again – just standing in the rain for a good ten minutes.  By the way, although I haven’t taught my dogs the trick, you can actually train your dogs to do that shaking motion they do when they are wet on command!    

Golden Retrievers: A Day in the Life

Me:   For today’s entry, I asked the dogs to document their entire day.  Here is what they came up with!

Jeter:   12:00am – I am still with my mommy as she completes her work for the day.   I love to hang around with mommy, if you haven’t figured that out yet….

Alanis:  12:00am – I am in daddy’s office, sleeping.   The funny part about that is that he is actually downstairs.  I am in here all alone – as I have started to mature, I have shown a little more independence.

Josh:   12:00am – Simply put, I am done for the day, folks.  I am on the floor, trying to fall asleep as I type this.   I am older.  I sleep a lot.   I have arthritis, so I sleep a lot.    Perhaps there will be a post written about how a day in my life used to be – kind of like how This is Us does the time travel thing!

Jeter:  1:00am – My parents are weird.  They start watching their DVR’d shows at 1:00am.   That works for us a bit, because at 1:00am, we get treats!  Daddy eats some string cheese after midnight and always saves some for us.

Alanis:  1:00am – I love the string cheese.  Mommy also gives us a little treat around this time.  Mommy’s schedule is so interesting – she actually eats her dinner around 1:00am every morning…..this morning, she is eating a frozen dinner, corn, and some slow cooker macaroni and cheese.

Jeter:  1:15am – Time for Alanis and me to play.   We will play for a good 45 minutes around this time, though tonight I am thinking of cutting it a bit short.   Yep, I typically control the play time.  When I am done, I jump on the couch and curl into a ball.  Alanis may still try to get me to play more, and sometimes it actually does work.  I am a sucker for play….

Alanis 1:45am – Seems that Jeter is done for the day, so I am going to jump on the couch and go to sleep as well.

Jeter 3:30am – Jeopardy is over (due to my seizures, my parents mute Final Jeopardy!), so it is time for daddy to go to bed.  Mommy will stay up longer to do her thing while daddy goes to bed.    I will stay down here with her.

Alanis:  3:30am – I am a bit more erratic, but lately, I have stayed downstairs as well.  Sometimes, I will barge into the bedroom to lay by daddy.   I don’t have a set plan like Jeter does.

Josh:  9:30am – Time for breakfast!   I am the oldest, so I will get fed first.  One of my favorite parts of the day – though I don’t eat as much as I used to.

Jeter:  9:30am – Mommy gives me Rachel Ray dry and wet dog food.  I love all the varieties of the wet food.

Alanis: 9:30am – I only get the Rachel Ray dry.     Good stuff.  I also love the Earthborn when daddy brings that home.

Alanis:  9:45am – I will now go upstairs and lay in daddy’s office as he works.   Good time for a post-meal nap.

Jeter:  9:45am – I will often go behind a chair and take a nap around this time while mommy works out.

Alanis:  12:15pm – Daddy just got up!  I think it is time for our walk!   Let’s go!

Jeter:  12:19pm – He is coming downstairs – must be time for our walk!  I love going for walks.  It is one of my favorite activities.

Alanis & Jeter 1:20pm – We just got home from our 53 minute walk (according to Runkeeper, whatever that is).   Funny that daddy will now give us a treat…after taking us for a walk, which I thought may just be a treat by itself!

Alanis 1:30pm – I will now go lay in daddy’s office again for the rest of his work day….

Jeter 3:45pm – Time to go to bed with mommy!  She has such a weird schedule, but I love it.  I follow her into the room and lay down in the dog bed they have in there.

Alanis 5:05pm – Time for dinner!   I do this neat little trick where daddy says “Go get your brother”.  I have figured out how to open the bedroom door by the handle to let Jeter out of the room.

Josh 5:10pm – Here comes the cavalry!  I guess it is time for dinner   Lately, I have left some kibble over from breakfast and I just finish it off for dinner.  Old age does a lot to a dog.

Jeter 5:15pm – I don’t get the wet food for dinner.  Daddy is so lazy.  He just drops some dry food in a bowl and tells me to eat it.   Not that I ever turn it down.

Alanis 5:16pm – I am such a lunatic with my bowl.  It starts in the kitchen, and ends up in another random room.  I push it all over the place as I eat……

Jeter 5:35pm – I am done going to the bathroom, so guess where I go now?  Yep – back up to sleep with mommy!  Sometimes, daddy will play with us for a while before I go back to bed, but not today.  Mommy doesn’t even call me or anything – I just automatically go back upstairs and back to bed.

Alanis 5:40pm – This is usually the time where I show off some independence.  Sometimes, I will take a nap downstairs, sometimes I will go back upstairs.  Daddy usually does some sort of workout or walk around the house around this time.  It really is our quiet time in this house.

Alanis 6:00pm – Daddy is going to his favorite place for dinner!   He really is a high-end kind of guy – going out to dinner every Friday night in his suit.  Actually, he goes to WaWa (it is an East Coast thing) to get a sandwich while in his pajama pants.  Damn, if I was a child instead of a dog, he would be so embarrassing.

Jeter 6:05pm –  Even as a dog, I find him embarrassing more times than not…

Alanis 6:06pm – LOL.

Alanis 11:30pm – Time for daddy to go downstairs and do some walking in circles (what a weird man – he does it for his FitBit counts.  I have never seen anyone take enjoyment in doing such a mundane thing.  And he will keep walking until Mommy comes downstairs.

Me:   Dogs have such a fun existence, don’t they?  They eat, they play, they sleep.     That is the summary of everything above.   Since it is a weekend night, Colleen sleeps a bit longer, since she doesn’t have to do work.   Typically, Jeter would get up with her around 11:00pm for that purpose.  I think this post actually illustrates something else about dogs and being a dog lover:  Nothing about the above is really all that exciting in the grand scheme of things.   But we wouldn’t really want it any other way.

Golden Retrievers Speak: Treat Us Right!

Me:  I thought I would begin this discussion.   I recently came across a Facebook post (If that link doesn’t take you anywhere, it likely has been taken down) about a Golden Retriever owner who is ranting about his dog.  Within the post, he discusses “beating the shit out of him” and threatening to turn him into an “outside dog”.     The owner actually responded to the thread in an attempt to clear things up, which was great and all – but there were still a few not-so-ideal thoughts in his post (claiming he “only” spanked the dog for acting inappropriately)    We will continue the discussion below with my dogs, and go from there.

Josh:   This is a very serious situation.  When you own a dog, you have to understand that even the most well-trained and behaved dog will occasionally do things that will cause you to shake your head.   I used to steal my mommy’s underwear.   I once pooped in her car during a road trip.   As noted in an other post, I got out of the yard on multiple occasions.  I dug holes under fences.   I ripped shirts.   These are things that dogs do, for various reasons.  The key is that if you don’t like a behavior, you need to correct it appropriately.   Remember one basic rule when it comes to dogs:   If you don’t catch us in the act, you may as well just let it go.   We have already forgotten about our bad deed.

Jeter:   I know we often talk about how good I have always been, and it is mostly true.  Mischief has never been my thing, and I have mostly stayed out of trouble.

Alanis:    Just like with Josh, I have my share of stories to tell.    I have chewed drywall, destroyed couch cushions, and stolen socks.

Josh:   If you catch us in the act, a stern “No” can go a long way in teaching us that the behavior is not right.   If we steal your lunch off of the kitchen table (something NONE of us has actually ever done, surprisingly), and you don’t catch us, there are ways you can fix it.  The best way to do it is by setting us up with a bit of temptation.   Essentially, place a piece of food on the kitchen table and walk out of the room (keeping your dog in sight of you).   Once one of us makes a move towards the food, give a stern “Leave it!” command (assuming you have taught us this command).   Eventually, we come to think that you are everywhere and can see us doing everything.   is this method foolproof?  Of course not.  The best way to make sure we never touch your food is by putting it somewhere where we can’t actually get it.   Remember, it is up to you to make the environment safe for us.   If you leave things to fate, you are likely to be disappointed in the overall results.

Jeter:  The “Leave it” command is one of my favorites, and it should be one of the first commands you teach your dog.   Imagine a scenario where you are taking your dogs for a walk and you come across a meal that someone dumped in the road.   The instinct of the dog is to eat the food.   Obviously, you don’t want that – a good command can potentially be life saving.

Alanis:   And it isn’t a very hard command to teach.

Josh:  As for threatening to turn us into outside dogs, there isn’t much worse you can do to our breed than make us outside pets.    Don’t get us wrong – we love to be outside.  We just don’t necessarily want to live outside.  If you don’t want us to have access to certain rooms in the house, close them off.  Use gates.  There is no harm in that – it can actually protect us from ourselves.  Our parents always have the laundry room closed, for example.    Nobody is saying to give us full run of the house .    If there are things in a certain room that you don’t want us to access, close it off – especially when you aren’t home.   There are so many ways to can control situations that are humane and defensible.

Me:   Exactly.  The purpose of this blog is to look at things from the mind of the dog.   I like things to be a bit on the lighter side, but sometimes a more serious topic can come up that needs to be addressed.   I don’t know what the poster above was thinking when he made those remarks, but we should always remember that in the social media age, everything you say is going to be taken in full context.  I hope for the sake of the family and the sake of the dog that nothing awful is going on there, regardless of the tone of the post.   Everyone needs to understand that when you get a dog, it is a commitment to keep them safe and happy.   It is a commitment that if you want a good canine citizen that you will need to work at it.   If you go down the path of spanking or hitting your dog, you are doing nothing more than raising a dog to be frightened.   And a frightened dog is a dog that can go from the sweetest, most friendly dog in the world to a dog that can bite you.   If you think spanking is teaching them a lesson, you are absolutely wrong.   Enforce the behaviors you don’t want your dog doing by working with them to correct the behavior in a way that dogs will actually understand.

Golden Retrievers Speak: Pills and Thrills

Josh:   Well, there certainly isn’t any thrill in taking pills.  Given my condition, I am on a pretty heavy cocktail of medication to keep me feeling comfortable.  Arthritis is not fun, folks.

Jeter:     I am only on the basics.   I take a heartworm preventative monthly.  We also get flea and tick treatments in the form of a pill.

Alanis:  I take the same cocktail Jeter does.   The funny thing is that all three of us take the heartworm medication as if it is candy.   Little do we know that the medication is essential to keep us healthy.  If we understood that, we could certainly force them to use treats to get the pills into our bodies.

Josh:  I don’t like my pain medication at all.   Mommy buries it in a big hunk of biscuit, and I still find a way to spit them out.   I am quite clever (and stubborn) in my old age.  As daddy likes to say, I have lost my mobility, but I have not lost my brain.    I am still quite aware of my surroundings and can outsmart any of you young whipper snappers!

Jeter:   Luckily for me, I have never needed to take medication for my seizures.   I hear it can change the personality of the dog, and everyone knows my personality is perfect as is.

Alanis:  Your personality is one every dog should strive for.   Thankfully, I haven’t needed any kind of medication yet, beyond the essentials.    I have yet to wear the “cone of shame” since I came here.  I am hoping I can avoid it for as long as possible.

Jeter:  The cone is a pain in the ass, no doubt.   Josh has to wear it more often than most dogs, but he is such a trooper.  The few times I have worn one, I have hated it with a passion.

Josh:  It’s fine.  I sleep so often that the cone is meaningless.

Alanis:   Why is the title of this post “Pills and Thrills, anyway?”

Jeter:  Daddy probably wanted to come up with something catchy – listen, doggies, and listen carefully:  THERE IS NOTHING THRILLING ABOUT PILLS! NOTHING.   Avoid them at all costs, and spit them out so that you can at least force your owners to give you more treats!

Josh:  It is also very important for pet owners to understand that human medications may not be suitable for us.   Don’t just assume that because you can knock out your back pain with an Aleve that it will also work for us.  That is not true.   Talk to your doctor about any human medications that may be safe for us to use.   I would take it even further than that – research it.  Even if a doctor says it is OK, you still may want to read up about any potential problems other dogs have had.

Me:    I doubt you will find an owner who will say that giving dogs medication is fun and easy.  My dogs do seem to love their heartworm medication (Interceptor), for whatever that reason may be.   This medication is essential for your dog.  When I was growing up, I had a dog who had issues with heartworm, and it was not a pleasant experience – especially for the dog.  You may read some people who may not give this medication – that is essentially playing Russian Roulette with your animal.   It is possible they will avoid worms – but if they don’t, expect some potentially serious consequences.   Fleas have been an issue with my dogs through the years, so preventive measures are not always 100% – though that is true for most any medication, canine or human.  Fleas can be a major problem for your dog’s health and your home.   They reproduce rapidly, and you can have an infestation in no time.    Keeping your dog up to date on their medications will not only help them long term, but it will also help you and your environment.     Heartworm has been found in dogs in all 50 states, though there are areas within certain states where it won’t be as widespread.  As always, consult with your vet and make sure your dog is tested for heartworm as well as using the preventative.   It is a dangerous disease, but also one that is relatively easy to prevent.

Golden Retrievers Speak: Happy Birthday!

Alanis:  Today is my third birthday.   Time flies when you are a dog.   At least that is what humans tell us – we have no real concept of time.

Jeter:  Three years old.  Goldens tend to mature later than most dogs – you are essentially just now entering your “adult” years, whatever that means.  I still feel like a puppy!

Josh:  When I turned three, they didn’t have toys with squeakers that only dogs could hear…

Jeter:  Here we go with your nostalgia.

Josh:   Mommy once baked me a birthday cake!  Neither of you have ever received such an honor.

Alanis:  We get treats and toys for our birthdays!  Yay!

Jeter:  We get treats every day, and toys once a month or so.

Alanis:  True.  So, what is special about our birthdays, anyway?

Josh:  Nothing.  We don’t care one bit about our birthdays – humans just like to live vicariously through us.  Back in my day, I was lucky if I got a bag of Beggin’ Strips – never mind all of this “all natural” crap they have out now.

Jeter:    Cue the violins!

Alanis:   Jeter and I went for a long walk for my birthday!

Jeter:  We do that every day, Einstein.

Alanis:  Right.  So, what exactly did we do differently today than any other day?

Jeter:  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.   Though you did get a Facebook collage.   Wonder how many likes it got?

Josh:  I love the collages.   Mommy knows what she is doing.

Jeter:  Can you imagine if Daddy did them?

Josh:   OMG.  Don’t even.    Everything he touches is already a disaster.

Alanis:  One of the pictures in my collage is a perfect image of me with my “resting bitch face”.

Jeter:  You have that down to a science…..

Josh:   Back in my day….

Jeter:  STOP!  JUST STOP!

Josh & Jeter:   Happy Birthday, Alanis!   Here’s hoping for a lot of play, a lot of food, and less of your crazy barking.

Me:   Indeed, time does not really compute in a dog’s brain.   Like I said in the Christmas post, every day is a dog’s birthday in their eyes.  They wake up and get to do whatever they want until they go back to sleep again.    Treating your dogs well should be something you do every day & night, but there is nothing wrong with a birthday splurge.   That can be a toy, a treat, a cake – or whatever your imagination can think of.   For Alanis’ birthday, the dogs will be getting a special meatball treat later.     As for a Golden Retriever’s maturity, it is indeed true that this breed tends to mature a bit later than most breeds.   That may not really be all that meaningful in the long run, but dogs have their phases just like humans do.    You should definitely see at least some change in your dogs as the years go by.  Just like you see changes in your children, or your parents.  It is all a part of the circle of life.