Archive for March, 2012

Dog Friends, Old and New

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

This week, Canine Camp Getaway hiking and lure coursing instructor Bob Dealy is guest blogging for us about dog friends, old and new, and about the journey from “new dog” to “beloved friend.”

For ten years my beagle Duke and I were inseparable. We were best friends and a good team. Around Christmas 2010 he passed. This November I was fortunate enough to have Shadow (Black Lab mix) come into my life. She is lovable and happy and we are bonding well. The two dogs are very much alike in many ways.

My old friend Duke set the bar high for future canine companions.

I love the way the two dogs would come up with alternatives to barking by using their tails to bang against objects to get attention. They are great at socializing with people and other dogs. Both are willing and ready to take a car ride at a moment’s notice, and when I come home, they give me the best happy dance you’ve ever seen. I was charmed when I first brought Shadow home that she went right to Duke’s old toy box and started playing with the toys. Talk about a quick adjustment period! Who could be so lucky?

I’m comforted by the similarities I see in the dogs. So what is the problem?

It seems that I am very lucky to have two great dogs, and I am. Yet I sometimes find myself assigning Shadow the job of being “Duke 2.0.” She is not.

I have not allowed her the time and space to show me all the wonderful things that she can be yet. I get disappointed when Shadow shows a behavior that Duke never would (i.e. the case of the disappearing chicken breasts). But she is not he. I must learn to teach her what is expected. I can’t take for granted she knows what to do just because of the similarities. And I certainly can’t expect her to live up the expectations of an old friend she has never met.

And that is the point of this entry. In dogs, as with people, we need to give those we let into our lives the opportunity to show us what is great, unique and different about them — even when they seem so much like others we have loved.

They say it’s the journey that matters, not the destination, and that is particularly true with our four-legged friends. Getting to know a new dog is a wonderful adventure. And just as no two dogs are alike, the relationship you build with your canine buddy is utterly one of a kind.

I see great things for Shadow and me in the future. We’ll share adventures, hikes, vacations, BBQs, days out playing with friends and lazy nights in watching Yankees games. We will share many of the things I shared with Duke, and many new things that are all Shadow. She will be her own dog, and I have no doubt she’ll make a great companion.

The Scoop on Poop

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

This week, Canine Camp Getaway hiking and lure coursing instructor Bob Dealy is guest blogging for us with the scoop on poop, responsible dog ownership and why cleaning up after dogs sometimes takes a village.

In the reader sound off section item of this morning’s paper, a lady was complaining about dog owners not picking up after their dogs. She was a bit dramatic, stating, “Do I have to dress up in a uniform and issue summonses?”

My first reaction was, Lady, you have no idea how far dog owners have come.

In college I lived off campus, I constantly had to dodge piles that were left on the sidewalk on my way to and from classes. It was all over the place.

Dog owners are so much more responsible today. The fact I noticed this as rare indicates there have been great strides made by dog owners over the last couple of decades.

Still the reader’s comment is valid. My dog can still find stray poop along our daily walk. And if you’re a responsible dog owner, you know this shouldn’t be. Like a lot of you, I’ll sigh, tell my dog to leave it and continue with the walk. As someone who likes to run, I occasionally have to avoid it or clean it off my shoes after returning home. But rarely on a walk will I pull a bag out and clean up someone else’s mess. After all it’s not my responsibility!

But after thinking about it, I have to wonder, should it be? I reluctantly came to the conclusion, yes.

There are two reasons for us to consider this. One, dog poop is the greatest danger to our own dogs, as it transmits illness to our dog or other dogs in our home area. Active dog owners are at greater risk than the general dog-owning public. Two, it enhances the reputation of dogs and their owners within the community. Property owners are not responsible for the care of our dogs and that includes picking up after our dogs.

If you know where there is stray waste on your walk, take an extra bag and remove it. Set the example for responsible ownership in your community. The property owner will appreciate it, and maybe the person whose dog dropped it will learn from your example. (I highly doubt the second part but it’s possible.)

In a world where we are asking for public funds for dog parks, showing increased responsibility in ownership can only help us all.