Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Extraordinary Dogs with Ordinary Stories

Lately I have been feeling like the world is maybe a bit too caught up in sob stories. Every time we turn on the TV or check our email boxes, we are flooded with sad stories followed by even sadder ones. It seems like shelters and rescues across the country are in constant competition with each other for the biggest sob story. This dog was shot, this one starved and still this one shot and starved!
I know the reason these stories are exploited and I get it, really I do. They are money makers, plain and simple. Also, not being born yesterday I realize that not all of these stories are true. It is a sad reality I know as there are plenty of real tear jerkers to go around, people really needn't make up their own, but they do. The answer as to why again is money.

Please do not think that I am heartless or that I believe that the poor shot/starved dog does not deserve a loving home and a happily ever after because believe me I do. I'm only saying....what about the rest? I know plenty of dogs that have never been fought or abused but have still been abandoned by those they loved and languish in shelters waiting for some one to save them. These dogs may seem quite ordinary, but they need love too.

If you own a former puppy mill, bust or even Vick dog, thank you. But if you, like myself adopted a dog with no particular past traumatic event, then I would also like to say a heartfelt thank you.

The bottom line is: They all need love, they all need care and they all need homes.

Seemly ordinary dogs can become extraordinary in the eyes of their families. So thanks again to all of you who, when it came time to add a dog to your family, chose adoption from your local shelter, wherever that might be. Whatever dog you chose, you made a difference in their life, and that, to me is what is really extraordinary.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm a Stage Mom

About a month ago, a photographer friend of mine let me know about an upcoming gig she had. Usually, her photo shoots have one thing in common; people paying her good money to photograph their dog. This time however, a company (DogiPot) was paying her to take pictures of their products, and needed a dog model. They wanted a dog, medium to large build, not black, not white, well trained. Well, that's MY dog!
Although I didn't know I had it in me, I immediately went into 'stage mom' mode and submitted my baby's pictures. Within an hour I had gotten her an audition!
I'd love to say she passed her auditi0n with flying colors, but she did not. She actually charged her auditioner, hackles raised and barking. Luckily he came equipped with doggy steak treats, and she soon changed her tune. After about 15-20 minutes, she had the job!

The big day came, and I wondered how she would do. The shoot lasted about 3 1/2 hours and she was such a trooper! (I'm sure it helped that she had a tent, plenty of water and treats, and of course lots of love and everyone telling her how pretty she was!)
During the shoot it was as if she could read the photographers mind. When she asked her to look up, she looked up when she thought she should sit, she'd sit before the sentence was even finished!
One of the very last shots sent a wave of pride over me. The photographer asked if she'd put her paw on a box of poop bags. I honestly didn't think she would, as she doesn't enjoy having her paws touched. We set up the shot and I took her paw, placed it on the box and asked her to STAY...and she did! Then the photographer asked her if she wanted to go for a WALK and she put her ears up and cocked her head to the side. Evey one in attendance gasped. It was perfect.

So now I'm not only a stage mom, but a proud one. She received compensation (a REAL working model!) and over 6000 doggy poop bags! It was a great experience all together, and I am quite grateful for it. But most of all, I am proud.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Are You Ready?

In case you haven't noticed...Football is back. Fans across the country (and the globe) are apparently quite excited by the fact, as ratings are soaring farther than they have in years. I am not sure if the release of the new book; The Lost Dogs, was timed so near the start of the season on purpose or not, but it just goes to further illustrate the absurdity of the fact that Micheal Vick is once again playing in the NFL.
During the Eagles season opener, starting Quarter Back Kevin Kolb was knocked out of the game with an apparent concussion, so in came Vick.

The Eagles lost the game against the Green Bay Packers (thank GOD) but that didn't stop Vick from making several highlight reels.

I just have to wonder the lesson this all teaches us....

It must be OK to do reprehensible things, and even get caught as long as you say you are 'sorry' (you don't have to actually mean it!). The world will not only forgive you, but actually REWARD you for it. Giving you your job again, paying you royally and acting like those horrible things you did never really happened or at least weren't that bad, because after all, they happened years ago.

I DARE any 'normal' working class person out there to get arrested for something, go to jail for it and then come out and GET YOUR JOB BACK! Most ex-cons have a hard time finding work that involves hard labor or deep frying something let alone a paycheck worth MILLIONS.

I am a dog trainer, therefor I understand dogs pretty well...humans on the other hand...well, that's a whole other animal indeed.

Friday, September 10, 2010

May I Have the Attention of the Class?

Yesterday was the first day of Fall Obedience classes.
So much promise, so much hope, so much work!

As always, we start our program with a people only information session. By the end of the class I already know what dogs are going to be more work than others, even though I haven't met them yet.

As many of you undoubtedly know, teaching a dog to sit, lie down or stay is the easy part. It's teaching their human counterparts to interact with them and community with them effectively that is the real challenge.

Generally I feel the owner with the widest eyes by the end of the class is probably going to be my biggest challenge.

Basic obedience classes will always hold a special place in my heart, because you can really see the change in owners and dogs by the end of the series. The confidence level increases as stress levels decrease for both human and canine.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dog Friendly

Recently I went on a road trip with my Dog. Fun right? Well it was, mostly...

I was traveling in a somewhat rural area of the southern US, and hotels were not as plentiful as I am used to. Finding a dog friendly hotel on my route actually turned out to be impossible. So I ended up driving about an hour out of my way to stay in a La Quinta. (All of the hotels in this chain accept dogs, all sizes, no deposit.)

Although I am a HUGE fan of La Quinta's pet policy, I have to say, our accommodations were less than satisfactory. The lady at the front desk told me she didn't want to say my room number out loud, and wrote it down for me instead. When I asked where I could park my trailer, she told me to park in the back...if I wasn't worried about anything getting stolen! When I pulled around the backside of the establishment I could not believe my eyes. Drug deals and prostitution. Seriously. At this point I was weighing my options of making it to my next destination, a 6 hour drive, before falling asleep at the wheel.

We ended up staying the night, hoping our car would still be there come sun up. Our dog had one of the double beds all to herself, but that didn't last long. The loud music and voices from out side made her nervous, and she soon joined us on our small bed. None of us got much sleep that night.

This all made me ask: Why is it so hard to find a decent pet friendly hotel in ANY location you wish? We drove by several lovely looking places, where we were not welcome, all because we choose to travel with our well behaved dog. Is it really that hard to set aside a room or two in a hotel for dogs? We'll pay our pet deposit. And what's with the size limit? 25lbs is the most common. I have never owned a dog that small in all of my life, why am I being discriminated upon? Just because a dog is small does not mean it is well behaved or less destructive or quieter. It angers me that we are treated like second class citizens because we are 'dog people'. Perhaps I am alone on this one, but I don't think so.

And although this particular La Quinta wasn't the nicest place I've ever stayed, (but maybe the worst), I still feel better about giving them my money, because as a cooperation they do not discriminate. They open their doors to us 'crazy dog lovers' who would rather travel with our loyal companions than leave them behind.

Maybe someday other corporations will catch on that they are missing out on a huge market. Until then, it's a good thing that we are traveling with our "over the normal weight limit" dogs, as we'll need them to feel safe during our 'dog friendly' travels.