Death, Life, Mourning and Dancing

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It’s been a month and I’ve just gotten to where I can talk about it.  Yes, Clara was a dog, but there are some dogs who are more than dogs. Even now, just remembering her big, soft ears and deep brown eyes, and the way she would lean on me so hard she almost knocked me down at times, brings me to tears.  I know that the love of dogs has a price- their lives are far too short.

Everything I had learned of the Malinois breed indicated they are noted for health and longevity. Most of the 12 years she lived in our home she was happy, healthy and robust.  In spite of Clara’s difficult start as a rescued dog with a laundry list of physical and emotional issues, she healed and blossomed with us.  She mentored our other dogs.  She visited the nursing home when my Grandma was there, and offered comfort to many of the residents. Clara was a gentle, intuitive dog, who even took care to mentor Brutus, her final protégé, who she had a month to teach, until she got ill.  He has many of the same beautiful, intuitive traits Clara had.  His gentleness reminds me of her.

Brutus

I am thankful her final illness was brief.  It took only a week from the time I noticed she was getting a bit melancholy and slow, then she stopped eating, and by then she was displaying all the classic signs of congestive heart failure.  We took her, and for the first and only time, I had to lift her in and out of the truck- to our long time family vet.  I hoped the vet would have a different answer than what I knew to be inevitable.

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Our vet knew the labored breathing and heavy plodding of a dying dog all too well though. One look at a dog who used to be vibrant and alert and active, but now was struggling just to breathe and move a few steps, was enough for the vet to conclude that given her age, and the signs of heart and probably multiple organ failure, that Clara was, indeed, dying. We agreed that letting Clara go in peace without pain would be far more humane than heroics that may or may not buy a week or two. I held her in my arms as she passed, so she would know how much she was loved. We buried her near the gate she used to guard.

Clara 14 small

Clara was 14.  I was blessed to have her for a little more than 12 of those years.

Unfortunately there is more impending death around me, and it will cut even deeper than losing Clara.  Jerry is getting more and more ill from the pulmonary fibrosis.  He keeps getting put on more meds. He tires easily and is spending more and more time on the oxygen box.  The only hope for him to improve- and hopefully not die right away- is to get him on track for a lung transplant.  He will have to go on disability to do that, which will be at most optimistic, the very least a month or two away.

To add more to the chaos in my life, we will be moving as we are buying my grandmother’s old house.  Dad is selling it to us, and I am glad to get the strangers he’s been renting it to gone. They are supposed to be out tomorrow, then I can assess what needs to be done before we can move in.  I will have a lot longer drive to work for me, but it will get him into a quiet neighborhood out of the city.  The house is small but the yard is huge and there will (soon) be a large fence so the dogs can go out safely.

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Talk about the psychological maelstrom that I am trying to navigate.  I want Jerry to stay healthy enough for a lung transplant but the reality is that I may lose him too.  Yes, he is difficult and high maintenance, and he takes out his frustration on his health issues on me, but contrary to logic and reason, I am in this regardless.  Death, life, mourning or dancing- it’s all part of the drama of life.

I am looking forward to moving if only because it feels like I’m going home.  I will finally be able to be in a home I will own, that nobody can arbitrarily throw me out of, and my grandparents’ house will stay in the family. I’ll also be closer to my parents, my son and my granddaughter.

 

The Reality of Canine Longevity, Denial, and a Catahoula Cur

Brutus

Brutus, my 1 year old male Catahoula Cur

I might as well begin with the Catahoula Cur.  I had been half-heartedly looking for a dog for Miss Clara to mentor for awhile before her time with me is through.  We got Clara as a two year old- when our Kayla was 14.  It was a great arrangement in that Kayla had some time to work with Clara, who was a rescue with a laundry list of issues. Now she is well-adjusted, a fine protection dog, and has had many good years of happiness and health.

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Clara (left- 2 years old) Kayla (right- 14 years old)

I admit I am still in denial that now Clara is 14 years old, and she is slowly fading. I know, and lament, the limited lifespan of dogs, especially when I consider Clara, who is very precious to me.  Lilo is 13. She is also dear to my heart, and a good protection dog as well. Lilo has been Clara’s shadow since she came to us, and will probably not outlive Clara by long.  They are only eight months apart in age.

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Lilo (left- 2 years old) Clara (right- 3 years old)

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Lilo- 3 years old

Even though my mind understands the limitations of canine longevity, in my denial I wasn’t looking very hard to find Clara a protégé.  I was thinking either I would save up some money and try to get either a GSD pup from someone reputable, or that the Hand of Fate would somehow place another Malinois in my path.

SAMSUNG

Lucy – 1 year old, being good, but only because she was sleeping.

For me the thought of living without at least one protection dog is not a pleasant one.  Lucy (the Bulldog X Beagle) is only three years old, but at only 40# and with dim wits (love the dog, she’s very sweet, but she’s as thick as a post) she’s not a protection dog.  So I faced the prospect of not having a protection dog at all, and then trying to educate a green dog without the help of a seasoned dog.  Lucy is not a role model.  If anything, as far as canine behavior goes, she serves as a primer on how not to act.

clarawindow1Clara used to get up in the window to watch the world go ’round, but not much any more.

Oddly enough, Providence doesn’t necessarily share my aesthetic, my timing, or my professed desires.  Let’s just say that instead of a young female Malinois or GSD… I ended up with a young male Catahoula Cur.

One of my son’s friends had come back to Ohio from Texas (don’t know all the background info, don’t really need to) and couldn’t keep his dog.  My son- and only male children have a surprising amount of sway on their old decrepit mothers- implored me to come meet this dog before he was consigned to the dog pound, which, given his looks, could lead to a probable nasty fate at the hands of local dog fighters.  So, even though he is not a GSD or Malinois, I agreed to meet the dog.  And I fell in love. Let’s just say I’ve gotten Mr. Brutus his rabies tag and dog license, and he’s loving having a three-girl-dog harem.

Brutus LucyBrutus and Lucy

I’d never even heard of a Catahoula Cur (or more properly, Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog) before last week, and I am pretty aware of dog breeds.  I thought he was a very large (1 year old and 65#) and strangely marked Pit Bull.  But Catahoulas are not Pit Bulls.  Their bodies are longer and a bit leaner, their feet are larger, and the webbing on their feet goes all the way out to the ends of the toes.  They are larger (males are 65-95#) than Pit Bulls, and are known for the leopard patterns in their coats. Many, like Brutus, have blue eyes.

Catahoulas are used to hunt wild boar in Louisiana and Texas, and they likely have Pit Bull in their lineage, along with Mastiff, and various sight hounds.  Even though Brutus and Clara look nothing alike, they have eerily similar mentalities.  Both dogs are infinitely aware of their surroundings, and both are intuitive.  He will learn well, and it is good to have a young protection dog again.

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Clara, age 14

I know that I will grieve down to my very soul when Clara and Lilo pass.  They have been most excellent dogs,  but that is the condition of loving a dog- that their life spans are quite finite and all we can do is love them well in the time we have.

I could talk about and dote upon my dogs forever, and that’s a great thing because they are positive.  Not everything in life is so good.  Jerry is failing at an even faster rate than Miss Clara, and that is not a good thing.  He has gotten the oxygen concentrators he needs to help him breathe.  Life is finite.  Do what you can with what you have.

God Loves a Hot Mess, and the Devil Is in the Details

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All I can think is that God must love a hot mess, which is good news for me.  The past two weeks have been rather crazy.  I’ve had to make some difficult decisions, two of them in saying no to things and situations that would have been desirable- except that the devil is in the details.

I did get to say yes to the car, which I had been mulling about for awhile, and the pieces came together fortuitously on that one.

But I had to turn down taking in a beautiful black Malinois (still a bit despondent over that one) because Jerry insisted on taking in Lucy last October.  I couldn’t say no to that, especially since we had lost Sheena last May.

Lucy, while she is a sweet dog, is definitely not a Malinois.  Lucy is a hot mess of a willful, disobedient and destructive Beagle mixed with English Bulldog (why, oh why would someone interbreed that combo on purpose?)  Clara, my (1/2 Malinois) sweet pleaser, obeys hand commands and head nods (she’s that intuitive) and Lilo, just knows and follows the routine.  I am still carrying Lucy to her crate in the mornings. She does not go to the crate of her own volition even though she knows she is going to end up there one way or another.

Lucy sleeping

In the words of the philosopher/theologian Mick Jagger: “You can’t always get what you want/You can try sometimes/You just might find/You get what you need.”

Sometimes what I want and what I need are two completely different things.

I discovered last week that even though I’ve been away from the automotive dealer scene for almost fifteen years, just how easy it would be for me to go right back to where I was before (different place, same type of job.)  I was given the opportunity to do that.  I really, really wanted to, but again, the devil is in the details.  Thankfully I came to my senses and realized that 1. working straight commission is no way to live, because you end up living at work, and 2. it would be so easy to go back to that work-as-a-drug power trip euphoria.

The problem with that is when I live that way my entire identity becomes what (and how well) I’m doing versus who I am being.  And that is some scary shit.  That’s what landed me in my doctor’s office with ischemic attacks, bleeds in the scleras of both eyes and uncontrolled high blood pressure. That’s what got me the lecture from my doctor (when I was 30) that I wouldn’t live to see 35 unless I changed my lifestyle.

I made it to 45, so I must be doing something right, but in a rather unexpected and unsolicited job offer I learned something about myself that I don’t particularly like.

I like being in control. I really like it, and if I’m honest with myself I find that’s what’s been pissing me off for so long.  I don’t like being talked down to.  I don’t like having to work within inefficient processes and inane policies that I don’t have the authority to change.  I don’t like being held responsible for bad outcomes that I had no hand in creating- and that I don’t have the authority to fix.  I don’t like being controlled by people who shouldn’t be in the positions they’re in.  I don’t like being in a position where challenging the status quo is an exercise in futility.

The bad thing is that in any environment where one has to deal with people, all of the noxious roadblocks to harmonious living, good business, and successful outcomes listed above are right there, wherever one may go.  So it’s better to deal with the devil you know than to buy into a whole ‘nother demon who may be even worse.

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I remember reading somewhere that the devil can be in all the things you really, really want.  It sort of reminds me of when Satan tempted Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world- that somehow selling your soul is worth all the stuff you get in exchange.

I really don’t want to make deals with the devil.

While it’s not good for me to be the one in charge, it’s also not good for me to play the whipping post.  If only I could avoid either extreme.  I’ve been doing “whipping post” for way too long, which is what made my out of the blue offer look so attractive.

whipping post

Maybe somewhere along the line I went from brash hard ass to completely losing my voice (in a figurative way) and that’s another vexing place to be.

I Don’t Wanna Talk About It (But I Will Anyway,) and I Love Lucy

Lucy

Lucy is clearly not a Belgian Malinois (most likely Bulldog and Beagle) but as Mick Jagger once sang: “You can’t always get what you want /But if you try sometimes /You just might find /You get what you need…”

Even considering the insight of the Rolling Stones, I didn’t really need a third dog.  Even so, I was surprised it took Jerry from May to September to end up with another dog.  I wanted another Malinois for Miss Clara to mentor, (and I still do) but when a stray dog (almost) got into it with one of the ankle biters at the campground over table scraps, Jerry had to intervene, and rightfully so.  I couldn’t say no to that face and those eyes.

Either we took Lucy with us, or she’d have ended up with an ass full of buck shot, as the owner of the ankle biter in question would not hesitate to do it.  It was a no-brainer.  We took Sheena, messed up as she was, because she needed a home and we had a space.  Lucy, even though I have little to no experience with either bully breeds or hounds, has a lot more going for her than poor Sheena did.

young female malinois

This is a young female Malinois- not Lucy!

Unlike Sheena, Lucy can hear. Lucy also has teeth. She has a bit of an underbite, (normal for Bulldogs) but she still has 42 sturdy, clean, white teeth.  She’s also young (about a year, according to the Vet) and to our shock, had already been spayed. I feel bad that she was put under anesthetic and cut on only to find out she’d already been spayed, but how were we to know?  In spite of undergoing what proved to be an unneeded surgery, she’s in impeccable health- aside from having to lose a pound or two from her incessant moochings at the campground. (Who can resist those eyes and that face?) She should get down to a proper weight now that she’s on Diet Plate with Lilo and eating pretty much just dog food.  She also has a microchip and tags now, should she manage to wander off from us.

I don’t know why anyone would bother to spay a dog and then not microchip her, or bother to put a collar and tags on her, but that’s not my call.  Against my first instincts, I love this weird looking little dog, even though she waddles when she walks and drools in her sleep.  Even the cats are chumming up to her and kissing on her, (Jezebel especially loves dogs) which makes me wonder if she really went off on the ankle biter, or that if the ankle biter’s owners were just paranoid that she was hanging around and mooching.  Then again, in our house the cats don’t compete with the dogs for food.  The cats eat in a dog-free area, otherwise the cats wouldn’t get to eat at all.  As far as competing with the other dogs, Clara and Lilo are both a lot bigger than Lucy, and she strikes me as being smart enough not to pick a fight with either one of them.

old boobs

I’m starting to think my tits have mistaken themselves for migratory birds, as they have moved so far south.  I know my grandmother warned me when I was 13 that I should always wear a sturdy bra, and for the most part I have heeded her advice, but the effects of gravity, like those of other forces associated with entropy, are inevitable.

Aging sucks, especially when it challenges your deeply held belief that it won’t happen to you.

I’ve been trying to avoid the political landscape as that whole scene is just plain depressing.  I knew what a piece of work our illegitimate president was before he cheated himself into office the first time.  I’m not at all surprised by what’s going on, even though it’s puzzling to me why the illegitimate fraud squatting in the White House hasn’t been impeached, removed and deported by now.

-Apparently playing the race card can still get you very far even with no experience, talent or ability to cooperate with others, and apparently not enough people care that you are illegitimate and lacking any sort of merit, if you can claim a favored minority status- and that makes my blood boil.

Anyway, I told myself I would avoid political tangents today so I am trying very hard not to.  The bad part about trying to avoid doing something is that if you avoid it too hard you step right into it, sort of like when I try to go out in the back yard and try not to step in dog shit.  Usually when I’m hell bent on avoiding dog shit is exactly when I step in it.

Oh, the parallels between stepping in dog shit and the illegitimate, destructive and dangerous Obama administration.  The only difference is that dog shit washes off.

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Another Dog? Yes I’m Nuts, and More Obvious Truths

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I am surprised that I’ve been 2 1/2 months with only two dogs.  Clara and Lilo don’t seem to mind one bit, as they have been constant companions for the better part of a decade, but I know what I’m thinking in the back of my head, and what Jerry’s thinking in the front of his head.  Our dogs are treated better than most people’s kids, but they still are working girls.  They don’t just look cute and eat high dollar dog food.  They are our home security.  In this day and age I don’t want to be dog-less.  It’s hard enough to sleep at night as it is.

I am more than mindful of the fact that a dog’s lifespan (ideally) is about 15 years, though a large dog’s lifespan can be shorter than that.  Sheena was only about seven when she died, although Sheena had Issues that Clara and Lilo don’t have.

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Sheena’s laundry list of health problems finally caught up with her- at only seven years old.

Clara’s 11.  Lilo’s 10.  Both of them are in good health, but they are not young dogs by anyone’s standards.

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Kayla (right) at age 14, Clara (left) at age 2

Kayla was almost 16 when she passed, which is almost unheard of for a large GSD.  We were given the responsibility to care for Kayla in her retirement (she was 11) and were told, “they don’t live much past 12.”  Kayla was an effective security dog up until the last six months of so of her life- after she had already had Clara well-trained.  I know that Kayla’s lifespan is the exception rather than the rule.   Heidi (also a GSD) didn’t “live much past 12. ”  She was 12 when she passed-but Heidi had some of the same issues Sheena did.  I almost want to avoid GSDs completely because of all the health problems they’re known to harbor, unless I luck upon another Bavarian import like Kayla.  Even though Kayla was from a good bloodline and enjoyed good health for almost 15 of her nearly 16 years, most GSDs are not that fortunate.

To make the whole dog-finding process more complex, I really want a Belgian Malinois, or barring that, at least a Malinois/GSD mix.  I’m probably going to have to spend $800-$1000 to get the dog I really want, and I will probably have to make a substantial road trip to boot. I’m willing to do that for the right dog, but if I can find a shelter dog that fits the bill, better yet.

young female malinois

Here’s what I’m looking for- a young female Malinois. 16 weeks to 2 years would be ideal- the younger the better.

I have time, and I’d rather keep a lookout for suitable shelter dogs or rescues, but Jerry is Jerry.  He can procure or find just about anything that exists.  The girls need a protégé.

I’ve never had a male dog, and don’t particularly want one, as the girls tend to have fewer health problems (when spayed) and longer lifespans.  That, and I really can’t deal with dogs that hump people, and that hump other dogs, or unfortunate petite black cats.  I know not all males are humpers (and some females oddly enough, are) but the visual of Jerry’s Mom’s weirdo odd-eyed Shih-Tzu humping poor Isabel is burned into my retinas.  That might not be entirely fair, as ankle-biters are strange anyway.  As far as I’m concerned, a dog should be at least 50#, and I have a strong preference for the “protection” breeds.  They seem to be more intuitive and intelligent than the average ankle-biter.

reverse racism

When anyone is “more equal” by merit of their race, gender, behavior choices, et cetera, there is no equality and no justice.

I don’t believe in the concept of retribution when it is not directed toward the original wrongdoer.  I understand that people of certain races were targeted for unfair treatment in the past, up to and including torture, lynchings and genocide.  The problem is that those wrongs are not “made right” today by denying justice simply because a person is of a certain race or ethnic group.

In order for justice to be just it has to be colorblind- not politically correct or expedient for certain “more equal” pigs.

blind justice

If someone breaks into my house and threatens me and I am in fear of my life, I’m going to blow his/her head off and I’m not really going to care if that person is black, white, green, straight, gay, bi or furry.  I have to agree with the Zimmerman acquittal for that reason.  I have a right to defend myself if I am being attacked and am in fear of my life.  I shouldn’t have to think twice because my attacker belongs to a “protected” group, like the Al Sharptons and Obamas and other race baiters of the world want us to believe.

Should black people be able to perpetrate crime against white people with impunity because some black people were victimized by white people in the past?  Obviously the race baiters would scream bloody murder should anyone suggest the opposite scenario, (and they do even when it’s not warranted) but why should crimes perpetrated by ANYONE get a pass?  Deeper yet, why should any person have to forfeit his/her right to self defense when he/she is being threatened by a perpetrator of any color?  The Trayvon Martin issue was conveniently crafted into a racial issue- when the real issue was the right of self defense.

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It seems like a white person using a white toilet is enough to get the race baiters going.  It’s reverse racism and it’s just as ugly regardless of who’s being racist toward whom.

reverse-racism

To those who are protesting the Zimmerman acquittal, perhaps the real issue is crime- and remembering that in this country, much to Obama and Al Sharpton’s chagrin- citizens still do have the right to defend themselves.

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The Second Amendment is crucial to the preservation of American freedom…which is why Obama and others who are anti-freedom can’t stand it.

Then again, the best way to know if a public policy is wrong- and/or in support of the criminal element- is if Obama supports it. That’s why he’s all for gun control, abortion, punitive taxation on commerce, and letting every third world terrorist nut job in the country.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he is trying to set us up for a takeover by his friends in the terrorist world.

Wrong_Way_Obama_by_Conservatoons

It’s long past time for this country to get beyond race and start addressing the entitlement culture and the nanny state, which are the real roots of both poverty and crime.

Simply Enchanting, Of Rainy Days and Melancholy

melancholy tracks

There’s something about days like today- cold, heavily overcast, with torrential rain, that makes me wish I could stay home in bed.  When I was working out this morning and had done my laps in the pool, I didn’t want to leave the hot tub.  For a fleeting moment I thought about how nice it would be to say screw it all and just plain not do anything today- or do what I want to on my own time. Until I remembered all the crap I absolutely have to do today that can’t just be blown off, that is.

This picture reminds me of the times I spent wandering the railroad tracks that went past my grandparents’ house.  Technically we kids were not supposed to go anywhere near the railroad tracks, as they were live and in use until they were pulled up some time in 1983 or so, but there were two irresistable lures that made the tracks worth the possibility of encountering an oncoming train, and/or being eaten alive by the local insect life.   As far as oncoming trains, one could generally hear and see them in more than sufficient time to get clear.  The bugs were another story. The ground around the tracks was swampy and there were plenty of sources of stagnant water for mosquitos to breed in.   The open sewage creek that ran a few yards south down in the ditch alongside the tracks could be a source of foul odor in high summer, and it was positively rancid when the water levels in the creek got low and the wind blew in the wrong direction.  There was a reason why Dad freaked out when he found us floating paper boats in the creek. We had already figured out we were floating our boats in an open air toilet when we saw the dookie floating in in the creek.  Sometimes there was toilet paper and feminine hygiene items too.   He didn’t have to warn us “not to touch the water.”   Sometimes the dookie made it downstream faster than the boats.

Railroad spikes were worth fifty cents apiece to the right buyer, (if you could find one who didn’t ask questions as to how you got railroad spikes to begin with) which was a small fortune for a kid back then.  There were bushels and bushels of black raspberries to be had (in season) and they were well within reach.  Even so, while picking berries, one still had to be wary of both poison ivy and bugs.

spikesThese were actually worth some money in 1974- don’t know if they’re worth anything today.

Probably the one time I can remember getting a good thrashing from Dad instead of just having to deal with Mom breaking wooden paddles on my ill-fated fanny, was when my sister and I (not the sadistic one) decided to take a big gym bag down to the tracks and fill it up with spikes.  Never mind she was six, I was five, and we were both small for our respective ages.  We loaded this gym bag down until we could barely carry it with all the spikes in it.  It was a good eighth of a mile from the tracks to our house, and in order to get to the house from the tracks we had to wander by the whole neighborhood lugging this thing.

Dad’s friends had spotted us, and he had gotten numerous phone calls before we were even close to getting home.  Back then a kid couldn’t cut a popcorn fart without the whole neighborhood knowing about it.  He was waiting to tan our hides the minute we dragged the spikes in the door.

Back in the day no one would hesitate to narc on other people’s kids, and there was no mollycoddling – or mercy- when it came time for the punishment.  When punishment was administered, the neighbors didn’t hear a thing.  If nothing was broken or bleeding and they couldn’t discern any flaming injuries when your parents were done with you, they figured justice had been served and that was the end of it.

black-raspberriesWe generally got away with the raspberries, though.

The raspberries went when the railroad pulled up the tracks.  It seems as if all the weeds and garbage have come back to over grow the track bed, but the last time I went wandering where the tracks used to be it was rather frightening even in broad daylight.  I spotted plenty of trash, used syringes (not the ones used for insulin, either,) used condoms, had a near-death encounter with some redneck’s pit bull, and all sorts of nastiness, but no berry bushes.

I don’t like going to where my grandparents used to live.  It’s creepy knowing there are strange people living in their house.  It’s never been a particularly nice neighborhood (although when the tracks were pulled up, the city tiled over the sewage creek, which was a bit of an improvement) but it went from ‘po folks to dangerous folks.

I can’t fault anyone for having dogs, but when I bring Clara with me (partially because she likes to explore, and partially for protection) I don’t need someone’s pit bull coming at her as if it were going to tear out her throat.  Clara is formidable (she’s half Malinois, after all) but if a pit bull really wanted to get aggressive with Clara it would be ugly, and it would break my heart to see either her or another dog injured unnecessarily.  One of the most important tasks of a dog owner is to teach good socialization skills and appropriate behavior with other dogs.  Protection breeds are more prone to dog-aggression than most, so I try to keep all my dogs’ encounters with other dogs as positive ones.  Clara is particularly well mannered with other dogs and I want to keep her that way.  Should she have a bad encounter with another dog, it would be harmful to her physical well-being as well as her mindset toward other dogs.

pit-bull-dog-pI have mulled over the possibility of getting a pittie- though I am more familiar with the herding breed mentality.

I don’t have a problem with pit bulls- or any other dog breed- when the dog is handled responsibly.  A well trained and properly socialized pittie can be a fantastic, gentle, intelligent dog, but even an ankle biter can be dangerous if it’s ill-treated and improperly trained.  A pit bull can be deadly in the wrong hands, just as a GSD, Malinois, Doberman, Rottie,  and just about any other breed, etc. can be as well.  No dog is born aggressive or dangerous.  He / she has to be made that way.

Today I’m just trying to keep my mind off the rain and the funk and the dreariness.

basketball

Then I remember the damned basketball tournament is going to be all over TruTV, and I hope and pray I DVRd a whole lot of episodes of Top Gear and the bizarre 90’s cartoons I love so well.  Mmm, three middle aged Brits playing with cars, Cow and Chicken and 2 Stupid Dogs.  I guess that will have to be intellectual enough for me.

2stupiddogs

I Love My Dogs (In a Totally Non-Creepy Way)

It’s probably more stressful for me to take my dogs to the Vet than it is for them to go.  Clara doesn’t even notice when she gets shots.  Lilo can be fidgety but usually isn’t too weird about it as long as I hold her head against my chest so she can’t get snippy.  Both of the girls (Sheena is on a different schedule than the other two) were as good as dogs can be last night.

Granted both Clara and Lilo are edging up into “senior” territory which is a difficult reality for me to get through my head.  Clara is 9, Lilo is 8, almost 9.  I have had dogs live almost 16 years- Kayla would probably have lived even longer had we not decided to put her down when her DM (Degenerative Myelopathy) got so bad she was having trouble controlling her bowels and bladder.  That really sucked, especially for a dog whose healthy weight was about 90#.  I couldn’t carry her out, and eventually it got to the point where she didn’t know when she needed to go and then she’d  just let fly which was humiliating to her and difficult for us.  Kayla was otherwise healthy- except for the damned DM keeping her from being able to control her bathroom functions and use her rear legs.  Unfortunately dogs don’t die from DM- but if they are left to die a “natural death,” they die from the pneumonia and heart failure brought on by inactivity.

Because Clara and Lilo both are crossbreeds and not purebred GSDs, it’s unlikely they will get DM like Kayla and Heidi both did.  I am generally not a believer in “hybrid vigor,” but the likelihood of genetic disease is lower in mixed breed dogs.  Heidi had other issues besides DM, though nine years of very poor care before we got her didn’t help.  I doubt if I will ever have another purebred GSD for that reason- the American bloodlines are repositories for every wicked genetic disease under the sun- but who knows.  I love the protection breeds.

In this pic, Clara (top) was a thin and lanky two year old- Kayla (bottom) was a healthy and active 14 year old.   Kayla did wonders developing Clara’s confidence.

Lilo I know has hip dysplasia, but hers is mild, which is a workable condition for most dogs.  Lilo and Clara both have allergies that seem to get worse as they age. Lilo has seborrhea,  and Clara is prone to lick granulomas which are generally not life-threatening but are aesthetically unpleasant.    Sheena has severe hip dysplasia and she has completely destroyed her canine teeth and incisors from cage biting.  Both of these conditions  will probably cause issues as she ages.

Sheena does have issues, but she’s a sweet dog.

The sad truth of having dogs is that they age a lot faster than we do.  I love senior dogs as they are usually a lot more laid back than their younger counterparts and they are confident in their routines.  I was thrilled to take Heidi in at the age of 9- partially because we had just lost Kayla, but also because I enjoy senior dogs and their mellowness.  I was thankful that Heidi had a good three years with us, but it broke my heart to see her go at the relatively young age of  12.

Heidi was always grateful for everything.

I can take Clara anywhere.  She and I have an understanding which is hard to describe, but I know I have a deeper appreciation for her and her gentle, intuitive nature, especially after she was hit by a truck and almost killed two and a half years ago.

When Clara had the stitches- and the seroma- after she was hit by a truck, she had to wear t-shirts to keep from messing with it.  She was not amused.

Lilo is also very mellow and easy to handle, especially for a dreaded “Chow mix,” but that mellowness has taken years to cultivate.  Sheena (about 4 years old now) is not as confident or as obedient as the other two are now.  But Clara had a lot of “puppiness” to her when I got her as a thin and somewhat spooked two year old, and Lilo had her special little “Chowtude” and didn’t want to trust anyone when she first came to us.  Kayla scared her, and Clara just wanted to kick her ass.

Lilo is strange in one regard- she actually enjoys wearing clothes.

Perhaps it’s a bit twisted that I hold my dogs in higher esteem than most people, but at the end of the day- there they are.