Randy's Woofs

A blog about my life rescuing dogs.

 

 

 

Take A Chill Pill

Take a Chill Pill

Happiness is a three letter word in my life – DOG – and I am blessed with a dog named Chill whose life mission is to bring bliss to all who meet her.  

Happiness is contagious, and it’s a mindset that makes the world and our interactions with each other joyful. We all know someone who lights up a room just by walking in. My “someone” is Chill who lights up my home every second of every day. She howls in pure pleasure throughout the day just to say “I love life.”   I promise I am going to make a point by the time I am done writing…promise as of right now I am curious of what that point will be too.

Coldness and sorrow is what I remember of Chill’s rescue. There was this skeleton carcass of a dog lying there dying. Someone, and I will call this “someone” a monster, chopped off both of her back paws. Memories of sitting at a specialty veterinarian hospital holding her with prayers and tears, I was told she probably wouldn’t survive. What can I do? I said a prayer, “Dear God let her live, and she can live with me never to suffer again.” Little did I know it was going to be my Chilly Girl to help save me from my own inner demons of depression and to heal my own suffering as I healed her physical wounds. Perfect match.

Chill knows forgiveness and how to move on where as I wanted to find the monster and dole out punishment. An eye for an eye. I felt anger. I guess you can say I wanted to kick the guy’s ass.

“Abundance” is another word that comes to mind when I am with Chill. Her abundance of love for all my dogs, every stranger, and her deep rooted appreciation of living is a life lesson for us all.

Let’s think about Chill using what I’ve shared so far. Focus on those words that jumped out at you, and ask yourself this: if Chill knows what happiness is, how do you find this same inner abundance of joy in your own life?   How do you let go of bottomless anger?

Love. Love is unconditional, and some people even refer to love as spirit. Love is an action and experienced as a feeling. Chill taught me to encompass compassion and live in the moment without ever shying away from embracing love in its many different forms. She taught me to howl in unison with her….okay, sing badly….but you get the point. It is hard to be depressed when you’re surrounded by pure unfiltered love by your best friend. This is only something that comes from unrestricted and untainted spirit, the spirit of a dog.

Forgiveness. How do I forgive the worst in mankind – an immoral criminal who commits unimaginable torture on a trusting and blameless creature? Forgiveness is a choice to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. That means I can make the choice to harbor anger and want to chop off the felon’s feet or not. Chill chose to rise above the act of cruelty and didn’t hold any victim-type resentment. The translation of this in dog language is that she didn’t manifest mental scars such as fear biting and social dysfunction. Man, on the other hand, will manifest cruel actions toward us through depression, drugs and anti-social behavior. Or we can choose to forgive and move on to a better life, a Chill-type life.

Holding on to anger would make me less compassionate for the strays trying to stay alive in the urban jungle. The street dog needs my empathy and Chill-like love. Anger causes a shift in consciousness that a scared street dog will pick up as fast as a flash of lightening, causing them to run from you. Let it go.

Joy. Boy does Chill know how to express it!  I have personally known and had the privilege to care for so many abused dogs and still never met one quite like Chill. Embracing life to its fullest, disregarding the fact she has physical limitations, is a powerful message. How can I be depressed ever when all I truly have to do is take a Chill pill – a dose and lesson from my lil’ survivor. Without pain, how could we know joy? Maybe that is what Chill is teaching me every day. Embrace joy.

Finally, here is the point. I get asked all the time, “Randy, how do you handle what you see every day on the streets?”  I never quite knew how to answer this until right now at this exact moment, my “ah-ha” moment, as I type this. I deal with it through love, forgiveness and joy. Thank you Chill for teaching Dad such a valuable lesson in life.

 

Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures

 

Panda is the poster dog for Stray Rescue’s hospice program, but is she the true fit to gloss the pages of our website?  She was given 6 months to live, so I brought her home with me to spoil and love. As each day passed, each week, each month, each year and then the next year and the next…..now over 3 years later, I say Hospice Shmospice.  My little chow mix is now dubbed my little Eveready Bunny. I think Panda is a life worth examining. Did I do all the right things I should be doing with aging and older dogs? As I found out, I failed miserably.

Reading through websites looking for answers on why Panda is living so long has me laughing most of the time. Here are examples of what is recommended for your dog to live longer and what I did for Panda instead. Now, I am not knocking their advice for canine longevity! Please use their tips. I am just saying….well….you will see……here we go!

Let’s start with WEBMD. They give multiple tips, but all of it is about diet. Here is an example. “Start a journal, and log everything that passes your pooch’s snout, including treats. Extra calories show up in places like rawhides, which can pack 75 to 100 calories. A landmark study showed that Labs fed 25% less food than their counterparts lived almost 2 years longer. And if that doesn’t convince you, this might: Thinner dogs may have more fun. In one small study, obese dogs who lost weight scored higher in happiness and vitality measures than ones who stayed stout.”

Panda came to me with heart failure and a neurological disorder. Getting her to eat was like teaching a dog to wash dishes. It just wasn’t happening. Sure, I was freaking out for I tried everything from playing Chef Boy-randee with boiling chicken breast to baby food. And after a few days, defeated and ready to give up, I made myself a breakfast bowl and thought, “Hell, here Panda! You have it.” Voilà! My girl started to eat!  Maybe it’s time to buy stock in breakfast bowls. I guess my point is that it isn’t diet that is keeping my old girl alive and well.  And she’s not a Lab (why do they only test Labradors anyway?).  She gets her 25% more because, like her Dad, food makes her happy.

Now a website called Dogs4Dogs has these tips. “Resist the urge to suppress disease symptoms with drugs. Though some problems may require pharmacological intervention, many can be resolved—even cured—with improved nutrition and environmental changes—without dangerous side effects. If you do decide to go the “drug route,” personally check out medications. Countless dogs have died from popular “cures.” Most of us over-vaccinate our dogs. We give the wrong shots and revaccinate too often. The result can be autoimmune dysfunction, allergies, organ damage and even death.”

Panda did have drugs for her heart failure, and I thank the Dog Gods she did.  She is also vaccinated. Better life through chemicals is sometimes needed. But I also consider – and use – holistic approaches too. I think there is a balance to be had and any sentence ending in “and even death” makes me want to pop a valium. A cure wouldn’t be “popular” if it didn’t work, right?

From Dogster.com I read this and giggled at their aging tips and how they automatically assume we all make dog biscuits. “When making dog biscuits, use organic rye flour, instead of bleached white flour.”

I never made cookies, unless you count Pillsbury already cut and ready to bake. I would never know what organic rye flour is if you doused it over my head.  I doubt Panda and her daily milk bone is her death sentence for I tried organic treats and she spits them out like I spit out Grape Nuts.

What’s Panda’s secret? One word – LOVE.  

I give her as much love as I can muster. I spend extra time holding her, petting her and watch my other kids play softly with her. She has a home – my home. She has a family – my family. And, she still eats breakfast bowls.

Viva La Panda, my senior miracle!

 

 

Healing from fear with your dog.

How many of you are able to feel joy and react in a loving way when a dog nuzzles up to you? To me that is a prescription better than any drug on the market.  That is why we call the dog, “Man’s best friend.” I say let’s start calling the dog “Man’s best therapist.”

Let’s face it, life is challenging with tough times that are overwhelming, and if you are like me, it can be paralyzing.  Trying to let go of fear in one’s life and replace it with courageous love can seem impossible. I recently started to listen to self-help books, and at times spiritual audio books to lose the fear and be a better human.  I have a tough week ahead filled with dread and looking for a miracle on how to handle it all.  Today on this chilly fall day, I made a fire outside and started to listen, hoping something sinks in and sticks. And as the burnt orange leaves flutter in the cool wind and the smoke of the fire rises into the air, I turn my head and see my miracle. A dog.

Rosebud was a third generation feral dog I rescued off the streets about 7 years ago. He was the epitome of fear. Afraid of a sound louder than a whisper or a hand reaching out to pet him, Rose didn’t just have a tough week ahead of him, he had a tough journey. He did it though.  He overcame, and as I looked into his brown-yellow eyes I whispered, “I want to be more like you. No more fear.”

I watch as he plays with the others, and then he comes to me for a petting and in that moment Rose even realizes we have role reversal. I think he is tuned into my fears and anxietie,s and if a pooch could talk he would say, “Look Dad, if I can do it, so can you.”  So I started to think how did Rose do it? Can I apply the same principles to my life? My upcoming week? 

Looking back I realize, the short version, there were basic revelations he, a dog, not only experienced but conquered.

1)      Find comfort in your friends and those you trust. Rose found his comfort in my other dogs, and I became who he trusts.  That comfort and trust with others reduced his anxiety. Dogs are social creatures that respond to us quite sensitively, and they seem to respond to our emotions. Rose was no exception. I had a friend.

2)       Accept the unknown.  Worrying how a situation or scenario will play out can be difficult to stop. It is important to simply accept the ever-present fact of uncertainty. Worrying about the unknown is an unnecessary source of fear that can be avoided with the simple acceptance of chance.  Rose took many chances. He chose to stop worrying about outcomes and embraced all of life’s uncertainties (and in my house that means the outcome is 99.9% going to be awesome if you have four legs and bad breath).

3)      As James Stephens once said, “Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.”  Two summers ago Rose was too curious not to step in a pond although I knew he was afraid.  Once he felt the cooling relief on a sizzling summer’s day, he realized his fear was based on nothing. So I am looking at the upcoming week as a giant pond on a sultry day and let my curiosity help me overcome fears based on the lack of doing and jump in embracing the outcome. Good or bad, it isn’t the end of the world.  Of course, if it is bad I know my plan “B” …..Martinis.

 

 Ask your soul, God, the universe, or whatever you feel comfortable with why you are afraid and how to let it go.  I did and kept hearing the word “Relax.”   I think Rose asked the Dog Gods, and I bet they told him the same thing.  I am starting to think that everything we need to learn in life is probably better taught by our dogs. Dogs live such short lives for they are already perfect. Man, on the other hand, has many more life lessons to go. Rose is 7 years old now, and he knows how to tackle fear better than my old human self. And he doesn’t drink!

 

“There is no illusion greater than fear.”
Lao Tzu

 

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
 
----from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.

 

 

 

 

 

A visit to Grandpa's House that goes horribly wrong!

A visit to Grandpa’s House that goes horribly wrong!

You rescue a dog that had such an abusive unloving beginning. You bring him into the fold at the shelter and the compassion crew starts performing their magic. Step one is an overabundance of love. Step two is trust and socialization. Step three is training and adjusting to other dogs.

You know this dog is a winner, and you know any family will be the lucky ones, more so than the dog. BUT then the dreaded call comes – the voice of an adopter waving the white flag and thinks they adopted a defect pooch. Grandpa Joe got bit, and like a bad fitting pair of jeans, the dog is returned….clueless of his crime. But there is much more to the story as we dig a bit deeper with the irritated caller who obviously doesn’t believe in patience. Making awesome with your new “Kid” requires using your noggin. Common sense is my definition of the term using your noggin.

I know when you get a new kid your first instinct is to pass out cigars and show off your new pride and joy. “Look world, I finally have something to love that is greater than me.” And this euphoria can come crashing down as quickly as a house of cards if you don’t use your noggin. The caller certainly wasn’t a nogger, a master of common sense. He took the dog to meet Grandpa’s pup and let’s just say a WWE fighting match happened because no prep for this was done. You can’t toss two dogs together all willy-nilly and think it will go just fine. Personally I would have avoided Gramps home for a while until my newbie was adjusted to mine, but that didn’t happen and Gramps tried to break it up and got bit….by who? It could have been either warrior.

Here is what our caller and Grandpa Joe should have done:

  • No surprises! Don’t just waltz into an unfamiliar house harboring dogs and Gramps. Familiarize your dogs on neutral territory, like on a short walk in a nearby park. Have two people, one to handle each dog, while keeping the dogs on leashes. The magic word is RELAX. A leash is an emotional grid from human to dog. If we are anxious, it signals to the dog that something isn’t right. 
  • To decrease this anxiety, try to keep the dogs’ leashes loose so you don’t give wrong signals. A tight leash is telling the dog there is something not quite right and/or the new dog is not my friend. Try switching off; Gramps walks the newbie while you walk his dog. This helps cut the jealousy.

·         Butt sniffing, there I said it. All dogs must say hello, and the sooner they sniff the other dog’s butt and vice versa, the calmer they will be. I am so glad us humans do not perform this greeting ritual. I would have no friends.

·         My friends at the ASPCA recommends, as do I, to closely observe the dogs’ body language. Their postures can help you understand what they’re feeling and whether things are going well or not. Loose body movements and muscles, relaxed open mouths, and play bows (when a dog puts his elbows on the ground and his butt in the air) are all good signs that the two dogs feel comfortable. Stiff, slow body movements, tensed mouths or teeth-baring, growls and prolonged staring are all signs that a dog feels threatened or aggressive. If you see this type of body language, quickly lead the dogs apart to give them more distance from each other. Practice simple obedience with them individually for treats, and then let them interact again or go for a walk.

  • Be patient. Let your new BFF adjust to you and your home before you take the leap and show him to relatives and their pets.  This is why God created the iPhone. Take pics and videos and send to those folks. Better yet, use Facebook.  I know you’re proud of your new BFF.
  • Keep toys away while doing introductions. No need to start jealousy wars or it’s my toy war.
  • If the dogs are very different in age or energy level, be sure to give the older or less energetic (fat) one his own private space where he can enjoy rest and down time. Just like we do for our Grandparents!
  • Once the dogs’ greeting behaviors have tapered off and they appear to be tolerating each other without fearful or threatening behavior, you’re ready to take them to hang at Gramps’. Before you take them inside, walk them together around the house or apartment building.
  • Don’t leave two new dog friends alone, ever. Give it time.

Finally, just like with people you are not thrilled to see, if the dogs still don’t care for each other then use avoidance techniques. You don’t have to go visit family with your dog if their dog isn’t a fan. Visiting relatives is stressful enough, so bring the wine and not the dog! And if you’re gonna dump the dog back at the shelter, bring me and my staff the wine so we can do our collective eye roll over a glass.

 

Saving OP

Saving OP

 

Dumpster: Noun. A trademark used for containers designed for receiving, transporting, and dumping waste materials.

 

Daybreak hums of diesel filled carrot-colored trucks, buses and sirens that infuse the morning air. Fall temperatures with a low dark sky triggers a damp cold drizzle.  Emma Avenue is still asleep from a previous night of drugs, guns and fear. This is the time of day, 7:00 am, when the refuse trucks are out with military precision collecting the garbage from the city’s North side street dumpsters.

 

The 6000 block of Emma saturates your senses; bombs could drop and do less damage. Feeble insignificant houses stand next to burnt out or boarded up ghetto dwellings. This block may have two or three habitable homes, barely standing. One block north is Arlington Avenue, a street that is divided - forcing most residents to pack a gun. Emma is on the wrong side of Arlington and turf wars are as common as the tattered stray dogs that roam the garbage strewn alleys. Vulgar sounds coming from the orange truck signals that it is ready to pick up yesterday’s trash.

 

Refuse workers typically do not have to leave their massive waste trucks designed to operate with large automated hydraulic Transformer type arms. Today was different, and for some mysterious reason, the worker got out of the truck heading towards the dumpster in the alley behind 6003 Emma. Fast paced drizzle drummed his government issued uniform as he looks down and begins to open the dumpster’s grey plastic lid. An instant jolt of shock flows through his body like electricity traveling through the grid. Catching his breath and rubbing the rain from his eyes he sees it move, or thought he saw it move. An orange cord matching the color of his truck is wrapped around its neck. Riddled in gunshots, it laid there in silence amongst the reeking debris not moving. It was a dog. 

Now my dog. His name is OP.

 

 

Dogs, Babies and Parentals

“Stop the madness folks! This isn’t crazy town,” I screech as I lay back down on my shrink’s couch hoping he gets it.  My $40 co-pay rant was because of this:

Another dog was returned to the shelter today and this time because the sweetest dog bit the six month old baby. I know that sounds awful, but what if I told you that the parental's PUT THE BABY PRACTICALLY ON TOP OF THE DOG who was startled when the baby rolled over on her? I would bite the senseless parents.

Here’s the deal. A dog is not a piece of furniture. I know we all lay with our dogs, but it is a special bond that we have, and the dog understands the rules. Using a dog as a baby Lazy-Boy is nothing but confusing to both baby and dog.

Here is some advice about dogs and babies from my previous book. I left out my Mr. Obvious quote in the book, so here it is: “Never use the dog as your baby’s bed, crib or changing table.”

Even before the baby arrives, get the dog used to baby items including rattles, blankets, the nifty Diaper Genie, and the Bumbo seat. In essence, desensitize the dog to anything associated with the baby, especially the nursery.

Start by keeping the nursery door closed more often, and always at night. Use the sit command before she can enter the room. Once she’s allowed to enter the nursery—if at all—make her sit by both the crib and the changing table.

You also want to desensitize the dog to baby smells. Consider dusting the house with baby powder, and then borrow some unwashed baby blankets from a friend, which you then place on the floor. If the dog so much as sniffs the blanket, let alone tries to lie down on it, shake your can of pennies or give her a squirt with the water gun and redirect her to a more appropriate place.

Once in a great while, a new parent calls me and says the family dog growls at the new baby. I stress those two words, because the situation usually only occurs when this is a family’s first baby and is nothing more than a temporary case of new-sibling jealousy.

Think about it: For thousands of years, we’ve selectively bred as much of the wolf out of the dog as we can, which means we’re basically left with a hairy two-year-old kid who makes a lot of noise and licks his own butt. Like a toddler, he depends on us for everything. He can’t hunt, he can’t problem-solve, he can’t imagine any world besides his own, so when you—his parent—brings home someone else, routines, affections, and everything else in his life changes.

He is, in effect, confused.

So make it easy for him to understand. Whenever you hold the baby, reward the dog; whenever you feed the baby, feed the dog; whenever you change the baby’s diaper, give the dog a treat. If you reward your dog every time he comes near the baby (and sits on command), it won’t be long before the baby becomes your dog’s favorite person, besides you.

Finally, never punish the dog for growling, because that only teaches him not to warn before biting. Remember, growling is not a bad thing—it’s the only way your dog has of warning your child that he/she is too close, too smelly, or too annoying.

As a last resort, you can always put the baby in a plastic bubble (which would be my choice, personally). It would make for great conversation when you have company and could be great exercise for the baby!

 

 



Source: http://www.strayrescue.org