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.

The Gravitas of a Popcorn Fart, Pit Bull Vindication, and the Tyranny of Stuff


I really had to do a bit of work on this pic to make it legible, but I couldn’t resist this old bumper sticker.  I saw this one  the other day displayed on an old, distressed Chevy “G” series van, and was fortunate enough to get a pic of it as I was stopped at one of the endless traffic lights on Morse Rd..   I don’t have any Pit Bulls (or Am Staffs, as many Pittie owners prefer to call them) but as a person who 1. loves dogs, and 2. owns protection breeds, I have to agree with this.  I’ve said it before, that the quality of a dog is heavily dependent on the quality of care and training it receives from its owner. 

Genetics and breeding do play into a dog’s basic temperament, and are essential factors when dealing with a particular dog.  I cannot realistically expect Clara (her predominant breed is Belgian Malinois) to obey commands given by anyone she doesn’t know.  Her inclination is to obey and protect her owner (me) and she will naturally be wary of others.  This is a personality trait of Malinois and most other protection breeds.  GSDs are notorious for being wary of strangers as well, which is a neutral trait in and of itself.  It’s good to have a dog that only obeys one person- at least in certain circumstances.  I can, however, expect Clara to be polite with people when she is properly introduced.  When Grandma was in the nursing home, Clara enjoyed going to the nursing home and visiting with people.  She was comfortable with this, and welcomed people’s attention, as long as I was with her, and she was in her harness.  Lilo is not a terribly social dog (typical of Chows.) She is obedient when she is in her harness as long as people and other dogs keep their distance.  Unlike Clara, Lilo does not allow “strangers” to pet her even when she is in her harness.  I understand that Clara and Lilo both have to establish relationships with people and with other dogs, which require careful introductions, before they will be social with them.  I do not force Lilo to be around children, and I don’t let them attempt to pet her, because she doesn’t like kids.  Since I understand that, it is my obligation to keep Lilo away from kids and out of situations in which she could potentially be dangerous.

Sheena, for all of her bad breeding (the poor girl’s mannerisms and dim-wittedness scream “inbreeding”) doesn’t know a stranger, human or canine.  Anyone can interact with Sheena and likely end up getting leaned on, flopped on and headbutted into loving on Sheena, because that’s how she rolls.  If she gets attention or food out of the deal, she’s your buddy for life, and she’s not picky.  This too can be a beautiful quality in a dog as long as you don’t expect that dog to defend you or your property.  Sheena’s not that bright, but it’s OK.  She looks intimidating.  The poor kids over in the drunk and domestic apartments across from the body shop think she’s a wolf.  They can think that, especially if it keeps them out of the body shop lot and out of our yard.  Clara is the one they really need to be aware of even though she doesn’t look anything like a wolf.  They don’t know that Sheena is as harmless as harmless gets- docile, dim-witted, and the poor girl wore down her canine teeth to little stubbies and her incisors completely to the gum from cage-biting, since the inbred fools who used to have her had no idea how to care for a dog, but I won’t get into depth on that subject.  It still pisses me off to think of it.  Just because they bred with their sisters didn’t mean it was a good idea to do the same thing with their dogs, but again, I really don’t want to get into that.

The bottom line is I don’t blame the dog when someone gets dog-bit.  There are two reasons why anyone would get dog-bit.  One is owner mistreatment or neglect of the dog.  People who intentionally mistreat dogs and try to make their dogs mean and turn them against people and other dogs fit into a category including child molesters and rapists and other despicable individuals.  The other is if you are stupid enough to come into a dog’s domain when you’ve been warned- either the dog itself warns you, (most dogs would rather not attack you- they will give you a warning) or you enter into an area that is the dog’s territory.  Go ahead, jump my fence, or break into my house, and if Clara and Lilo have your ass for lunch, guess whose fault that is?  My dogs are not vicious. They are duly restrained and kept from situations in which they could be dangerous- unless you make a conscious effort to place your butt in their mouths.

I understand that people have intentionally bred for the tendency toward dog-aggression in certain Pit Bull lines.  I will even agree knowing that many Pitties tend toward dog-aggression that they be kept as “only dogs” or that they be raised together from earliest puppyhood with other dogs to mitigate that tendency, at least with members of their own packs.   Ultimately how safe a particular dog is depends on how the owner deals with that dog.  Individual dogs are as different as individual people, even though you can expect certain broad behavioral tendencies within certain breeds.   Responsible owners will have safer dogs. 

I will not say that any dog is 100% safe any more than I will say any human is 100% safe.  There is no such thing as a “safe” creature that is armed with 42 razor sharp teeth that are designed to rip and tear flesh, and that is three times stronger than a human pound for pound of body weight.   If I had to wager though, the dog’s behavior is going to be more reliable and predictable than any given human.  We are a far more violent species.  One’s safety (and the safety of children in one’s care) is dependent upon common sense.  Canine body language is not hard at all to read, and there are some common-sense rules to observe when dealing with any dog.

I love this pic, even though it is only a yawn.  There’s no aggression being shown here at all even though it could be taken that way out of context.  Clara has always had lovely teeth.  She is not an inherently aggressive dog, but she will protect me and she will defend her territory.  That’s what I expect her to do.  We do not use physical punishment to train our dogs- just a simple system of redirection, rewards and simply living with and building relationships with them.  They get a lot of activity and affection.

I know my opinion generally has all the gravitas of a popcorn fart- a lot of hot air and easily missed- but for what it’s worth I simply can’t stand it when people condemn any particular dog breed.  What they’re really saying is that they are too stupid and/or lazy to learn how to deal with dogs, and to have a healthy respect for what dogs are capable of. 

I’ve never been what anyone would call a clothes horse- for the most part I follow the “Three C’s” of clothing acquisition.  Is it Cheap?- not as in poor quality, but as in low price?  Thrift stores and garage sales rule for this very reason.  I don’t like to spend a lot of money on clothes.  Is it Comfortable?  If it itches, if it’s too tight, forget about it.  I’m too old to sacrifice comfort for vanity.  Does it Cover the essentials?  At my age, nobody really wants to see much skin.  As a courtesy to the rest of humanity, I try to make very sure that the essentials are covered.

Shoes are a whole different ball game.  I love shoes.  I wear an easy to fit size (unlike clothes, where the tops have to be one or two sizes bigger than the bottoms.) 99 times out of 100 if I order a 7B  shoe, it will fit.  I do have a high instep, so I have to be aware of that when I mail order shoes (I have to avoid certain boots and certain over the top of the foot styles) but for the most part it’s a wide open vista of foot fashions for me.  I must have over a 100 pairs of shoes and I freely admit it (most of them bought on clearance, but still.)   It is my vice.  At least they’re cheaper than cigarettes, won’t kill me, and are a damned sight more practical.  Never come between a cougar and her shoes!