Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Week of Kids and Dogs!

I seriously need a full time assistant! That's not the cry of an overwhelmed man, nor is it bragging, it's the fact that so much is left unshared here at Sit & Stay. This became vividly clear to me this week, when I introduced a Dad and his two Daughters to their new Dog. There's nothing more meaningful than the child and dog relationship! I mean, it ranks up there with "mother and child". I got a full dose last Saturday.

It took me back to the memories of pestering my folks for a puppy when I was around seven; I took this on as some sort of mission and heard things like, "someday", "maybe Santa will bring one", "we need a bigger yard sweetie", "okay, okay, we know, you want a dog!" I was determined to have my own dog, and these answers just fueled my imagination.

"Someday" was a word from fairy tales, that always end well. Santa was never more than 12 months away; I wrote him. We saw houses with huge yards for sale daily; I was quick to point them out. I would not take "no" for an answer! Especially since a pasta company was giving a puppy to the kid that wrote the best letter. Nothing worked!

Fairy tales aren't real; Santa didn't come through; we didn't move, and don't get me started with that pasta company! I was a learning to be a pessimist at age seven. However one night that spring, my Dad was late for dinner, it was storming outside.

He came in from the rain all hunched over something wrapped in his jacket; he was drenched, but wasn't concerned with that.

My Dad sat on the floor, and unfolded his jacket to reveal a 10 week old puppy. I freaked! I finally had my own dog, and didn't care that he didn't look like "Lassie" or "Rin Tin Tin". He had a very familiar sounding bark though, it reminded me of a favorite cartoon. Does anybody remember "Dino the Dinosaur"; hence his name.

It was no time before I had "Dino the Poodle", doing tricks. We had all of the obedience skills down in no time. Soon after, I had him sitting pretty, praying, and eventually walking around on his hind legs. Fetch was his favorite, and he cherished his toys... that's why he bit my sister. It wasn't that bad, who said she could take my dogs bone anyway? Of course I get it now, and he went to a good home, but it was quite a blow to me. Even then I knew that there had to be a better way; "someday I'll do something about it." I've heard many similar stories since.

When I read a dog, named Charlie, was surrendered to a shelter by a young man age sixteen, the memories all came back. I'm sure he was devastated, he'd apparently had Charlie for a good while before she ate one of his folks chickens. I'm pretty sure she just played with it to death. I don't believe she ate it. Many of us have been through something similar, especially we in the dog care community.

Thanks to far too many people to mention Charlie's story continued on a positive note when she was adopted by a great family that "gets it." Alice, Carlos, and their sons lost a Border Collie to a inoperative tumor some months ago. When they saw Charlie on The DogLiberator's Petfinder posting, she stirred up the Border Collie lover in them. Alice and Carlos have already expressed how well they're all getting along. Even the family Shepard, that may have been a concern for some, but not these dog savvy folks. They made all of the right moves.

Unfortunately not all adoption stories go as well. We at Sit & Stay pride ourselves in rehabbing "problem dogs." We're aware of some TV popularized techniques, that require a dog surrendering, but who wants a "zombie-dog" that's more inclined to cower than play. I must admit, I've tried these techniques, and I'm here to tell you all "there is a better way." It requires we be smarter than a dog; we can handle that, can't we?

Many people expect a trainer to "fix" a dog, and they expect to pick it up all repaired, as though a dog is a car, or a computer. It doesn't work that way! Dog owners need to invest some time in that relationship, and real education is key. It doesn't have to be a drudgery, but rather, it should be fun. We can't allow ourselves to be discouraged, but rather, learn from our mistakes. We're supposed to be these evolved beings, yet cave men understood their dogs better than many modern humans ever will. There is no animal more in tune with we humans on the planet! This is why it burns me deeply to continually hear a human's blamed a dog for anything "bad!" It's ironic that much like a computer, bad in bad out, is what we get with dogs.

When I hear an adult gets a dog for a kid, and that the dog connects with him immediately, I love it! When I hear that same dog has been returned to rescue due to a bad interaction with an adult, I question the adult human. What have you done to prompt that dog to "act-out?" The kid had no problem. Of course, the kid didn't put that dog in an uncomfortable position. If so, a growl or warning wouldn't make a loving kid retaliate! It's we adults that take failure as something that we must push our way through.

I had that same dog here for weeks, and in that time, saw no issue that couldn't be turned around, by just ignoring, or distracting him by crying into my hands. That's right, even a so called "red-zone aggressive case" will want to see what happened to you if you're crying, or hurt! I've seen one "bad dog" after another show up here to act as perfect ladies and gentlemen. It's not that hard, just treat them with the respect they deserve! They have a mouthful of weapons #1, and #2 if they're a rescue who knows what they've been through? I would never assume a dog can tolerate a prodding, poking kind of kid, before I expose them to a kid in a controlled situation. But,...

Kids meet dogs with no expectations, they don't need to be told much more than be nice, and don't hug the dog, let it love on you first. It's hardwired into our DNA to interact with them on a respectful level. We humans learn abusive behavior, and dogs learn to be "mean" or afraid in the same way. I've never heard anyone tell a kid, "don't play with the puppy, he can hurt you."

Of course, some dogs come through ready to rock a kids world. Often, we see dogs that are surrendered due to economics. Some folks have to move, or get too old to handle the walks, or the vigor of a dog. Maybe they just got too much dog for their lifestyle. Such was the case with Kansas the beautiful red Aussie. His folks did the right thing and surrendered him to The DogLiberator rescue. He came here as a foster, mostly because we have tons of room to run. Kansas was a pleasure, but he wasn't here long.

Less than a week after his arrival, I got a call from Tony who was super interested in Kansas. He was well qualified, and the active sort that lives near the beach- perfect! We scheduled a weekend meet.

When I saw the two little girls get out of the car I thought, this couldn't be better. The look in the girl's, their dad's, and Kansas's eyes made me melt inside. After they left together, I wiped away my tears...holy dog crap! I got so caught up in the moment that I forgot to take pictures. I could have kicked myself! Surely I had just missed capturing an incredible, and instant bond that's second to none- that of a child and dog.

I stole the photo,'cause I clearly need a hat cam or something!!!! Luckily, I can always draw a picture for you with words.

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