Golden Retrievers Speak: Guard Duty!

Jeter:   We are considered such a lovable breed that most would probably say that we do not make great guard dogs. While it is true that we will not intimidate most with the size of our bite, we have different ways of making sure you stay far away.

Alanis:  It starts with our bark!   We don’t really mean to startle our humans with our 3:30AM barking at the air, but when we do that, we sense something – it may be nothing more than a random noise we hear outside.  It could be people walking by that we think are simply too close for comfort.

Jeter:  Josh was the master of the late night bark – he would just run to the window and start barking.  He had that very deep, “big dog” bark.  I swear if people just heard the bark without seeing the dog, they would have thought Cujo may be on the other side of the door!

Alanis:   I bark often, and it can be a bit jarring.  I am a bit like Josh in that I will start barking instantly if I hear someone outside.  We live close to a convenience store, so people can walk by at all hours of the day.  I have started to become very aware of their presence.

Jeter:   When daddy isn’t home, my alertness goes up even more.   Mommy has commented many times about how aware I am of EVERYTHING when daddy isn’t home.   Of course, I am a better protector than that klutz would ever be, anyway.  He would probably fall down the stairs if he ran down them to check for an intruder.

Alanis:   Bahahahaha!    They need dogs, because that moron can’t even walk two steps without falling sometimes.

Jeter:   My bark is obnoxious, but I can’t sustain it.  I can let out a quick bark or two, but that is it.  Josh used to sustain it for several minutes, and Alanis has that ability as well.   Of course, given how jarring my bark is, it is probably a good thing I cannot sustain it for long.

Alanis:  Look, we will FREELY admit that if your goal is to find a guard dog that perhaps our breed is not perfect for that purpose.   We may use our bark to keep people away, but we are just big softies in the end.  That said, you can read online about many stories where humans were protected by their Golden Retrievers.  Remember this fact:  We are playful and fun, but are also fiercely loyal.

Jeter:  Yep!   I even warned a few family members at Christmas to not get too close to my Mommy.   Don’t tempt fate with us, because we can surprise you!

Me:   Golden Retrievers will never rank high on the list of dogs one would adopt for protection purposes.   However, they are loyal companion dogs and are not likely to easily allow strangers access to those who provide them their food.   Josh had a bark that would make any stranger run away.  Jeter is sweet, but also has a bit of a feisty side to him.   Alanis is the type of dog that will bark if she senses any kind of movement outside the house.     I certainly wouldn’t tempt fate as a stranger, while also recognizing that our dogs are more likely to wag their tails for a belly rub when push comes to shove. 

Golden Retrievers Speak: New Members of the Pack?

 

Jeter:    It has been over a week since Josh passed away, and this may be a good time to talk about adding new members to an existing pack.

Alanis:   Humans sometimes will try to fill the void of losing a pet by immediately going out and getting a new pet.   There are reasons why this may not be the smart move.

Jeter:   Correct.  Looking at it from our perspective, humans need to realize that not only did we just lose a pack member – we lost the dog we thought was leading our pack.   Our dynamics are in a bit of chaos (though, to be honest, Alanis and I are handling pack alignment just fine – we are just a bit out of whack).

Alanis:    Being out of whack is natural for a pair of dogs that lost the alpha.    The problem with bringing a new dog into our structure is simple:   Although we are both friendly towards other dogs (even with Jeter sometimes being a tad snippy….)

Jeter:  Oh, stop with that – I just need a few minutes to get used to a dog and I hate it when dogs invade my space initially.  THAT IS WHY I SNAPPED AT YOU, GIRL!   The moment we met, you decided it would be a good idea to get right in my face!   Made me nervous –  I didn’t know your intentions.

Alanis:    Yeah, I know – I can’t help it.  I try to make my presence known everywhere I am.    But this is why adding a new dog to a pack that just lost a dog can be a bit tricky.

Jeter:   Especially if you do it too soon.   We are still trying to process the loss of Josh.   Imagine if humans bring a new dog into our lives that has more of an alpha tendency?   We may not be happy with that.

Alanis:  And if you bring in a dog that is a bit more submissive, we may not take kindly to that either – we may gang up on the poor dog.   This has nothing to really do with our temperament.      We are animals that need structure.  If that structure is thrown into any kind of chaos when we aren’t ready, it can lead us to being confused as we mourn the loss of our friend.

Jeter:    We understand that humans love us very much and want to help another dog, potentially.   Be patient with it – let us get through this trying time for everybody.   Eventually, we will get back on track and more accepting of a new member in our pack.

Me:   My wife and I have not even discussed a new dog yet.    This is not likely in our near future.      It may be a little easier to bring in a new dog if you are a one-dog household, but even then, you have to make sure you are emotionally ready to do so.  Some “experts” suggest not getting a dog that looks like the dog you lost.  I am not sure I agree with that, but everyone is different.   As we know with our Goldens, they are all unique in their own ways (in terms of look and personality) – getting another Golden wouldn’t lead us to compare the new dog to Josh.    We wouldn’t try to fit him into the Josh mold.    Regardless, this is always a decision to take very seriously, and you should indeed think about the other dogs in your household before you take the plunge.   They are missing their pack mate, and if they aren’t ready for a new member, it can lead to some resentment.    As is the case with most things when it comes to dogs, you will know when the time is right.  

Here is a good article on the entire process of grief, and how dogs may handle it.

 

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: 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: To Crate Or Not to Crate

Josh:    I was brought into this house the day before my mommy needed to finish up all of her Christmas shopping.  Suffice to say, I was going to be home for hours by myself.   My parents had not yet purchased a crate (they did it that day), so I was given access to most of the house on my first full day of living here.  This could have been a disaster, as I am a Golden Retriever and we can get quite bored very quickly.    Thankfully (for them), I didn’t get into any mischief at all. Nothing was broken, nothing was eaten, and I didn’t have any accidents.

Jeter:   That is quite amazing!   When I first came home, they had a crate all ready for me – I was going to be a crate trained dog.   I would spend many nights inside my crate, and I was enthusiastic about going in it to go to sleep at night.  It became a part of my routine….

Josh:   They never did get around to actually crate training me.   To be exact, daddy took the crate out of the box and placed it on the floor.   The next morning, I proceeded to pee all over it.     I guess that was the end of that experiment.   They were very lucky with me.    I wasn’t a destructive dog when I was bored – at least not INSIDE the house.

Jeter:     You will likely forever be the only dog they have that was never crate trained….

Alanis:  I came to this house crate-trained.      Daddy made the big mistake, however, of going food shopping without putting me in my crate.  I chewed a big hole in their drywall and ripped apart couch cushions.    He learned quickly that I needed to be in my crate for the sake of the house and for my safety.  Nowadays, I don’t go in the crate every time they are out, unless they are going to be out for a while.   I do love my crate, though…

Jeter:  Your crate is one of those closed-in crates.  I have one of those metal, open crates.    I no longer go in my crate, but I liked not being closed in.

Alanis:  I like being closed in.   It gives me the feeling of being in a nice, safe cave.   Just like my ancestors.

Josh:  You two are crazy!    I have always had FREEDOM!  Do you two not get it?   What fun is there in going inside of an enclosed structure with no place to go?

Jeter:  But what is the difference, old man?   All we do is sleep when they are away, anyway.

Alanis:   Yeah, I am no longer destructive – we just all find our own little spots and go to sleep.  Well, except for Jeter – he doesn’t like it when there aren’t people around him.   Needy Middle Child Syndrome.

Jeter:  I’m needy?  That’s a laugh.  Which dog is the dog that has to BARK every single time she needs attention?  Every single time we are fed?  Every single time she wants to come into the house?   Every single time she sees a person or a dog when we go for a walk?    There is a reason why you are the diva of this group – and it isn’t just because you are a girl.

Alanis:  WOOF!

Josh:  OK, enough of this.   You two have freely accepted being locked in a cage, while I told them on Day 1 that I was having none of it.

Jeter & Alanis: at the same time:   But, I kind of like it……..

Me:   First of all, yes – that is Jeter in the picture above, “waving” at Josh. Anyway, I strongly recommend crate training your dog.   Dogs love having a safe haven where they can go when they are scared.   People like having the piece of mind that their house won’t get destroyed if they are gone for hours.     If you transport your dog around the country, having them in a crate in your van can keep them (and you!) safe.    Crates are also essential in housebreaking, as dogs have an instinct to not soil where they sleep.  Hence, they are likely to learn more bladder control.     DO NOT USE A CRATE AS PUNISHMENT!  One sure-fire way to make sure your dog will come to despise their crates is if you throw them in there against their will because you think the dog did something bad.  Crates need to be a safe haven and a fun place for them to want to go.   More information can be found here.  

Golden Retrievers Speak: Off to the Vet!

Josh:  Oh, the dreaded yearly checkup at the vet.    When I was younger, I was the best dog in the world at the vet.  I was calm.  I would let the vet do whatever they wanted to me with a smile on my face.   Nothing bothered me.  Sure, I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.  Sure, I would jump on my daddy when I got nervous.   Overall, however, it never did quite bother me much.  It was just a major inconvenience.

Jeter:   If only I was like Josh!  The vet terrifies me.  Not the doctor herself – just the entire idea of going to the vet.  I get panicky.  I am not a vocal dog at all – I rarely bark and I rarely cry.  If I get accidentally closed into a room, I don’t cry to come out – I just sit by the door and wait for someone to get me.   When I bark, I can’t even sustain it like most dogs –  I let out a few before stopping.   However, when I go to the vet, I do cry.  I jump on my daddy, and I want nothing to do with going into one of the dreaded rooms….

Alanis:  I know you are all going to call me strange, but I am used to that by now.   It isn’t that I actually love the vet, but I sure do act that way.  I look at it as I look at everything in the world:   A play session!  I try to go behind the receptionist desk to play with the people back there.  I try to play with the vet techs.   I bark like a lunatic, like I always do when I am actually excited.  I don’t push or pull to leave – I walk into the dreaded office as if it is a playroom.

Jeter:  You are one strange dog – I can’t even.    The worst thing about going to the vet is that someone, a LONG time ago, put the dreaded “WILL BITE!” sticker in my chart.   My daddy swears I have never bitten a soul at the vet.  The indicator was put in there a long time ago – the entire staff has changed since then – but we have no idea how or why it got there or how I got the stigma.  There is no doubt that I hate it there and that I need to be held for when they take my temperature or draw blood.    But BITE?   Never.

Josh:   That is strange, indeed.    Probably my funniest story (which wasn’t funny at the time!) is when there was a grooming accident at home – my owners accidentally cut me as they were grooming me.   As the story goes, I had blood on my fur but pretty much didn’t complain one bit.  I didn’t yelp or “shout” in pain.  I didn’t cry.  I acted as if nothing at all happened to me.   My parents didn’t call the emergency room that night, but they did take me in the next day.  I needed to go into surgery to get some stitches on the wound.  Daddy didn’t tell my mommy that I needed to go under for the stitches – didn’t want to panic her.  I came out of it all just fine……..

Jeter:  That indeed was a scary story that became just another tidbit about Josh – the happy-go-lucky dog that never complains.

Alanis:   I don’t really have any funny vet stories just yet…..

Jeter:   I don’t really have one either – other than the gross stuff.  When I was younger,  I was unable to “express” myself when I pooped.  I was prone to scooting because of this.  Daddy had to bring me to the vet fairly often so that they could work on those anal glands!   I guess somewhere along the way, my body started to do it since I never have to go to the vet for that purpose anymore.

Josh:   How about the leg injury?

Jeter:  Well, yeah – when I was really young, I was playing ball with my daddy.  I started limping badly on one of my legs, so he rushed me to the vet.    By the time the doctor saw me in the office, I was no longer limping!    I was acting as if there was nothing wrong with me at all.  The doctor decided not to do any kind of x-ray because I was acting fairly normal.   It is possible I simply strained a ligament………

Alanis:  You two are full of stories!   Maybe one day, I too will have a good vet story!

Me:   Boring is good in this case, Alanis!    Just like kids will be kids, dogs will be dogs.  They will injure themselves.  They will have days where they simply don’t want to eat for reasons you are not likely to figure out (especially if it is a benign reason!).   They will have days where they don’t want to play or be active.    When you own a dog, observe them closely.   Even dogs who are of the same breed will have unique characteristics about them.    Something that may raise an alarm bell about one dog may be more common for another.  A perfect example in our house:  Jeter has always been an active dog.  So when he is lethargic, we know something is wrong.    However, even in his younger days, Josh had a tendency to be a calmer Golden Retriever.  A day of Josh not wanting to play was not really concerning.     I have said this a few times in this blog:  KNOW YOUR DOG.   Don’t panic at every little thing that is out of the ordinary, but also don’t gloss over an obvious change in behavior.    As for shots, talk to your vet about how you want to go about keeping your dog protected from disease.  Rabies will always be mandatory, though in recent years, they have developed a 3-year shot for that disease.   Other shots are also now going the 3-year route.   A good vet is not going to force vaccinations down your throat.  A good vet will work with you to offer the best care for your dog.  Studies on vaccines are always being conducted.  Do your research and make the best possible decisions you can.   You may also want to look into titer testing, a test that is designed to see if your dog is still immune to the diseases a vaccine is trying to guard against.  (Full disclosure:  I have never done any titer testing for my dogs, but have considered it).    Obviously, i am completely in favor of taking your dog to the vet at least once a  year just to get the basic wellness.  Just like with humans, that one trip to the doctor can save their lives if something underlying is going on within their bodies.

 

 

Golden Retrievers Speak: It’s Snowing!

Josh:   When I was younger, I loved the snow.   Whenever it would snow, I would run around outside like a goofball, prancing over any snowbanks in the yard.  I also had this tendency to roll around in it, to get myself nice and wet – after all, I didn’t have to clean myself when I was done!  That was for my parents to do.   As I got older, I would still roll around in it, though I was no longer the goofball I once was.

Jeter:   Only a few months or so after I moved in here, we had a blizzard.  It was crazy.   Daddy had to put Josh and myself out on that crazy night, and went into panic mode when Josh essentially lead me to a blind spot in the yard where we couldn’t be seen.   I am not sure how we got back into the house (I am sure Josh simply lead the way for me to follow), but what was fun for us certainly was not fun for daddy.   That also was the first night where I was allowed to stay out of my crate all night long.   It wasn’t the last time I was able to do that, but it was nice to spend the cold, wintry night with my family.  Daddy didn’t let us back out until the next day though.

Alanis:  The big snowstorms they are talking about are storms I have not yet really experienced here.  I understand that down the Jersey Shore, we can get hit with some monster storms due to all of the moisture coming off of the ocean – but they are quite rare, as many such storms turn into rain events if they form at all.   Today, I experienced a nice 8″ storm though, and I was having a blast.  My mommy commented that she got a bit nostalgic for Josh, because I was acting like Josh used to act in the snow – running around like a crazed lunatic without any cares in the world.   Maybe someday I will experience a big blizzard, but this storm was perfect for me….

Jeter:  She really was crazy today.  While she was doing that, I was actually laying down in a big pile of snow on the deck – with the junco birds, who weren’t all that scared that I was laying there (until I moved, of course!)

Josh:  I just watched from inside the house – no real motivation for the snow.  Nice and toasty inside the house, where I can eat, drink, and just sleep.   That is the most important thing in my life nowadays – sleep.

Alanis:  I wish I was around when Josh was crazy in the snow.  We could have had so much fun!

Josh:   I think fences would have been broken.

Jeter:  I was never like that in the snow – I do like to eat the snow and dig through it, though.  Especially if I know there is a tennis ball beneath it all.  I also will pull out sticks and chew on them.   Interestingly, I never do this when there are sticks randomly laying around the yard.  I only do it when there is snow!

Alanis:  Daddy didn’t play ball with us in the snow today.  Lazy daddy!

Jeter:  He claims he is still getting over an illness and didn’t want to expose himself to the conditions….

Alanis:  Yeah, right.  He just didn’t want to be bothered.  But we made our own fun.  We were out there for at least a half an hour on two different occasions today……

Jeter:   I am exhausted from it all, to be honest – I am going to go take a nap now so that we can play at 1 in the morning and drive them crazy as they are watching the Dummy Box!

Alanis:  My favorite part of the day……..

Me:   Dogs seem to LOVE snow, and it certainly can make things easier for owners who are looking for ways to exercise their dogs.   They pretty much take care of it all themselves by rolling around in it, running through it, etc.  I am getting over a cold, but in the past, I have been able to keep them occupied simply by throwing a tennis ball in a snowbank.  They would dig through the snow, trying to find it.    Just like with children, dogs consider a “snow day” a fun treat, and there really aren’t many precautions to take.  Obviously, you want to make sure they don’t overdo it, and watch for any signs that they are getting lethargic or feeling too cold to stay out there.   Dogs like Golden Retrievers are built for these elements, though – and you really shouldn’t have to worry about much of anything, other than an injury as they run around.   Enjoy days like these with your pups – they don’t get too many of them in their lifetimes, unless you live in Alaska.    The days will give you memories that can last a lifetime, just like the memories we had today of Josh back when he would run in the snow like Alanis did today.

Golden Retrievers Speak: Loose Doggie!

Josh:   A topic I can sink my teeth into – roaming and (nearly) getting lost.   When I was young and mobile, I was able to sneak out of the yard three times!

Jeter:  I got out a couple of times – once when daddy threw the ball over the fence and didn’t even realize he did, and once when a trick-or-treater rang the doorbell!

Alanis:  I had one try at being an escape artist, but didn’t get far…

Josh:  The first time I got out was due to a fire in the front yard.   Someone knocked on the door, and my daddy ran outside to see the fire at the edge of the lawn.  In his haste, he opened up the back gate, and you know where this is going – he left it open!   Within a few minutes, I roamed outside the gate, only to hear my mommy frantically screaming for me (more on that later in daddy’s summary).  I ran back into the house, and thankfully, the fire didn’t get very far.    The second time, my daddy (who is full of fun stories of his complete incompetence) was getting ready to mow the lawn…and again, left the gate wide open for me to walk out of.  Next thing he knew, I was all the way down the street (and this is not a quiet street….).  He yelled and told me to come, and I obliged.   The third time, the guy reading the meter came into the yard to get a closer look and didn’t close the gate.  I again wandered outside, but this time, I only went into my neighbor’s yard.  My Mommy saw me and I ran back into the house.  All three times, I was the only dog living here.    Those were the days…..

Jeter:   Much quieter days, I am sure.     Josh always had a roaming tendency – he liked to see the world!  Me?  I am the type that wants nothing to do with being alone.   My daddy once threw the ball over the fence without knowing it went over.   I came back without a ball and he told me to go get the ball, so I obliged by digging under the fence (I was still very tiny!) and grabbing the ball.   I just sat there after I got it – no incentive to move away at all until he got me.  The second time was more exciting!  A group of kids came for trick-or-treat, and as soon as daddy opened the door, I bolted.   I just wanted to play though.   Within a minute, my adventure was over.    Those are the only two incidents in my entire lifetime!  I am too attached to people and my dog pack.  I seriously have no drive to wander away.

Alanis:   No, you don’t.  You hate being alone – if mommy and daddy dare leave the house without Jeter, may as well get the violins out, because Jeter is going to mope.    Anyway, one day, my daddy was outside talking to a neighbor who was at their window.  I heard him and essentially ran run through an opening in the fence!  As soon as he called my name, I stopped and ran at him to greet him.   I am certainly the type of dog they have to keep a close eye on – not that I WANT to get out, but I am so hyper and insane that nobody knows what would happen if I actually DID get out!

Jeter:  You’d probably run up and down the street, barking look a lunatic.

Josh:    And likely eating anything that is on the ground – whether it be rocks, leaves, acorns, or heck – she may even try to eat the black top in the street if given enough time.

Alanis:   I am who I am….

Jeter:  One strange dog is what you are…..

Alanis:  No denials here.

Me:   I don’t care who you are – you have likely dealt with “loose doggie!” at least once or twice in your lifetime.  And I know exactly what the instinct is:  Run after the dog!   Right?  You don’t want the dog to get hurt, so you run after them, screaming at the top of your lungs.   You wonder why the dog keeps going AWAY from you as you do this!  The answer to that is simple:  He thinks you are playing with him.    Do you want to get a dog to come back to you?  if they are still in your sight, the easiest way is actually the exact opposite:  Get down on their level – sit down, lay down, whatever.  Don’t shout and scream. If you have a solid “COME” or “TOUCH” command in their vocabulary, use it!    The dog should eventually come back towards you.  If the dog is out of your sight, that is another good time for the “COME” or “TOUCH” command.   If all else fails, and you can’t find your dog, the good old-fashioned hopping in the car will have to do.   There are also several groups out there (many on Facebook!) who are Lost Dog specialists.   People who find lost dogs will often take them to the nearest shelter.    If your dog is away for an extended period, call the shelters.  I would even recommend you go to a shelter, if possible, to check out all the dogs who were recently brought in.   Dogs CAN change in appearance rather quickly!      And one last piece of advice for you:  Get your dog chipped, as that is the FIRST thing a shelter or a vet will do if a lost dog is brought to them – check to see if they have a chip!    

Don’t feel like a terrible dog parent just because your furry friend got loose – it is a part of their instinctive drive.  Just try to find them as soon as possible, and take whatever safeguards you can to help avoid the incident from happening again.   

Golden Retrievers Speak: Going for a Walk

Josh:   When mommy and daddy first brought me home, I wasn’t very good at the walking thing.   I would keep my head to the ground for pretty much the entire walk, refusing to look up at the world around me.    I was interested in the occasional squirrel, but for the most part, if I put my head any lower, I would have bloodied my nose!

Jeter:  Daddy started me off slowly with walks – he would walk me around the block slowly, just to get me used to it.    He found out quickly that, just like with training class, I was a natural when it came to walking.    I would pull on my leash if I saw a squirrel or cat, but for the most part, I stuck by his side, refusing to get too far ahead.   My daddy would often stand back a bit to let me get ahead, and I would just stop and look back at him.

Alanis:  I was a bad walker at first.  A very bad walker.   I would often walk down the street and stop in my tracks.   There were certain streets I refused to walk down for reasons only I knew.    After 15 minutes or so, I was ready to go home.  For the first several weeks, he refused to cross over busy roads with me in fear that I would stop dead in my tracks, so we stuck very close to the neighborhood.   I would pull and tug at the sight of another animal, and I would bark uncontrollably if something bothered me.

Jeter:  I can attest to all of this, since Alanis is my walking partner!

Josh:   Suffice to say, due to my immobility, I don’t go on walks anymore.  There was a time when I would go with Jeter for the first walk of the day, and Jeter would go with Alanis on the second walk of the day.

Alanis:  Correct, Josh!   Jeter would get TWO walks while we would get ONE!  And they say there aren’t any favorites!

Me:   To be fair, Jeter is the most enthusiastic walker in the house and giving him a double walk always worked out well.  Nowadays, Jeter and Alanis just go for one long walk…..

Jeter:   Thanks, Daddy…..of course, during one of those Alanis/Jeter walks, we had what is famously referred to as the “Raccoon Incident”.

Alanis:  Funniest freaking thing ever!    Middle of the day, broad daylight, and Daddy walks right into the path of a rabid raccoon!   I understand he has a knack for some weird stuff happening to him – but this was really weird!

Jeter:  The jackass started running away from the critter, and feel squarely on his right shoulder, spraining it.  Thankfully for him, Alanis and I scared away the raccoon AND neighbors saw the incident (if only they got video!) and were able to come out and save Daddy (and us, who Daddy lost control of when he fell!)

Alanis:  This still makes me laugh – I know, it isn’t funny.  Yet, it is.   Daddy going to the emergency room over a raccoon!

Josh:  I wish I was there to see it.  Knowing me, I would have sniffed the raccoon and walked away.   Anyway, back to my original story, I eventually figured out “how” to walk.   For the next several years, I would hold my head up high when I walked, prancing along as if I didn’t have a care in the world.  My Daddy would always comment that if we didn’t live in a busy area, he could walk me without a leash.

Jeter:  I have essentially maintained my walking discipline, though I have figured out that if Daddy lets me go ahead of him, I should just keep prancing along – I have gained a lot of confidence.  And yes, even at seven, I still get very excited over squirrels and cats.   I am not fond of other dogs though.

Alanis:  Yeah, Jeter can get a little snippy if another dog enters his “space”.

Jeter:  I will warm up to a dog eventually, but people need to understand that it makes me nervous.  I know I am a cute, happy Golden walking down the street, but I have some insecurities, just like everyone else!

Alanis:  I am like Josh used to be – I want to socialize with everything, though I do it through barking, which tends to scare people more than anything else.  I am trying to be friendly!

Jeter:  Funny, isn’t it?   People are more afraid to approach Alanis with their dogs because she is barking, while they look at me as being more “dog-friendly” because I am quiet.     If only people would first talk to my owner before approach!

Me:  Indeed, Jeter.    Jeter is obviously a fantastic dog – but he gets nervous if strange dogs invade his space and will get a bit snippy.   If you have a dog like this, try to keep the dogs apart the best you can.   (Especially if the approaching dog is loose!).   KNOW YOUR DOG!  If you have an Alanis-like dog, explain to the other owner that the barking is more of a “Look! I’m here!” bark than a “Get away from me!” bark.   If you have a dog like Jeter, explain that your dog doesn’t like being approached and if you want them to meet, best to do it in a more controlled environment first, or to let Jeter do the approaching.   Also remember to watch the body language of the OTHER dog.  Sometimes, owners simply do not know their own dogs, and think they are friendlier than they actually are.    I have often turned my dogs in the other direction if I see another dog walking towards me.     I do that for safety reasons, mostly (I am walking two big dogs, after all!).  If a loose dog comes at us, I stay very calm and just try to keep the stray dog and Jeter apart, if possible.   As I said above, it all comes down to one big principle:   KNOW YOUR DOG.  

As an aside, the “raccoon incident” happened in August, 2015.  I still have lingering affects in my shoulder, but it is probably 99.9% healed.   If you get into this situation, you will have to use your best judgement – a raccoon in the middle of the afternoon is NEVER a good thing.   You also want to watch out for deer (especially if it is a mommy deer and you see her babies nearby), etc. Be alert of your surroundings and you should accomplish a healthy, fun walk for both yourself and your dogs.