Early Morning Open Thread


From commentor Grover:

Maggie, aka the Blonde Bombshell, aka Queen of the Dog Park, was acquired two years ago from a local family who was losing their house. Our old Dalmation-Australian Cattle Dog mix was on her last legs and we thought some company would perk her up a bit. We were looking for a Golden Retriever and that was what the ad said, but when we arrived the woman apologized and said the ad was a mistake, she was a Golden Lab. Maggie was kind of timid, especially around me (it was an all-female household) but she seemed sporty enough and very obedient, so we brought her home.
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Unfortunately she couldn’t do much for our old dog, who was sinking into blindness, deafness, arthritis and general disorientation, till in the end she wandered the house day and night like an Alzheimer’s patient, miserable and in pain. We finally put her to sleep, but Maggie has stepped in admirably. She is the happiest dog I have ever met. Her timidity around men has vanished and she has definitely become “Daddy’s” dog, much to the disappointment of my seven-year-old daughter, who really wanted a tiny ball of fluff she could dress up and cuddle.
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Maggie is like one of those irritating children in elementary school who is so well-behaved, so smart and so endearing that she makes the other (normal) children look like wild beasts by comparison. She’s quite large, but she flits around like a Jack Russell and never seems to be in the way or underfoot. She is the daintiest of ladies — never wolfs her food or slurps her water — and when you offer her a treat she NEVER grabs but just reaches up and softly takes it from your fingers. Her mouth is so gentle I had to teach her to tug, but she loves to fetch a ball and, best of all, play hide and seek. This is her favorite game with other dogs — she’ll hide behind a tree or bench and pop out like a jack-in-the-box. I don’t know what all is in her, but she runs like no Lab I’ve ever seen — arches her back and flings her hind quarters forward like a jackrabbit. It’s quite a sight. Hikes in the woods and mountains are a joy–no leash necessary, she’s always within earshot. Our only shock came when we discovered she hated water and couldn’t swim! We’ve gradually been coaxing her into the lakes and rivers with us during the summer, and she’s getting the hang of it.
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But my wife works part-time and she seems to be getting a little lonely during the day. We had a friend with a jaunty male Akita mix who use to let us borrow him for a weekend for “play dates,” but they’ve moved away. So we thought some company was in order — especially another lab, since Maggie gloms onto the ones she meets at the park.
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Enter Ruby. We went to the pound Saturday after looking at the pictures online and spotting a big black lab mix. When we got there we sought her out but she was cowering in her igloo and wouldn’t come near us. Huh, I thought, what kind of dog is THAT? I left my wife on her knees trying to coax the poor thing into the light, while I sauntered around in search of a peppier model. Hey, here’s a big old Shepherd mix with a busted hip, jaunty in spite of that handicap, but…oh, he’s showing off by shredding his blanket with his teeth. Okaaaay. Ah, here we go! A skinny little skeezix of a border collie who would have jumped into my arms if there hadn’t been a gate between us. Now that’s my type! I spent a few minutes with him then trotted back to alert my wife that the hunt was over, only to find her…with a huge black lab head crushed in her lap, the two of them embraced like long-lost lovers. And that, my friends, is how my wife got her very own dog.
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Early Morning Open Thread: RIP Blaize


From commentor Montysano:

Back in 2003 or so, we were momentarily without a pet. My wife, however, had been visiting the shelters, and so one day I came home from work to find a 110 lb. Lab/Dane (or Lab/Newfie, or all three?) mix at our home. She was 2-3 years old, jet black, with a whiteblaze on her chest and white socks, so we named her Blaize. My wife said that the moment Blaize looked in her eyes at the shelter, it was all over, and indeed it was hard to believe that such a magnificent creature had been abandoned.
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Blaize was a regal animal who loved everyone (except squirrels, who vexed her), but she loved our daughter above all others and usually waited at Anna’s door in the mornings. On weekends when Anna slept later, Blaize was genuinely concerned as to the whereabouts of her favorite person. When we took Blaize out in public, everyone wanted to love on her, and she was fine with that.
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Her only quirk was that, if any door was left unlatched, she would bolt and go for a run, loping down the street at 20 mph, grinning
back at us while we chased her.
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Well, not her only quirk. I wish I had better photos of her, but aiming a camera lens at her, no matter how surreptitiously, sent her
into hiding. Go figure.
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On Tuesday, she was frolicking like a puppy. On Wednesday, she seemed to not feel well. On Thursday morning, she was having troublewalking, so I took her to the vet. “Probably arthritis, bring her in tomorrow and we’ll check her out.” By that afternoon, she was down and could not move her hind quarters, so we took her back to the vet. By this morning, there was no change and she was obviously in distress. We knew we’d arrived at that crossroads that all pet owners dread.
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When I was growing up in Indiana, we raised and sold registered Beagles, so I’ve been around dogs all my life. Blaize was in a class by herself: soulful, majestic, and….. proud, I think, is the right word.
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So long, old girl. Journey well. Thanks.








Early Morning Open Thread: Ozymandias



From commentor Tabor:

I found Ozy(mandias) in a shelter after a few months of looking for a dog. He stood on his hind legs and walked to me, and I knew he was the one. He had been dropped off by his previous owners because he was “too expensive” for them.
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His presence alone is worth much more than any cost to take care of him. He’s at the door waiting for me when I come home from work (or anywhere else) ready to lavish me with attention. When I read in my recliner he stretches out and sleeps between my legs, with his head over one of my calves. When I am on the treadmill, he sits at the door and watches me tread away. He even joins me on the sofa to read the paper. As I type this, he is a foot away, chewing on a bone on the floor. I have gained a companion, a friend, and unquestioning love.
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Adopting Ozy was a great decision. I am much better for it.








Open Thread

Was walking the dogs this morning, when I looked down and Rosie looked like a hammerhead shark. After closer inspection, it turns out she just had what must have been a month old, frozen, stale hot dog bun wedged sideways in her mouth, and she was not letting it go (I got it away from her by dangling a chew toy in her face when we got home). That made me wonder- how does the sense of taste work for dogs.

With us, we differentiate between things that taste good and bad. Some tastes we like, some we don’t. Is there actually anything that will offend a dog’s sense of taste? Or does it just not matter- they’ll hoover up anything and say “MMMM- different!”








Early Morning Open Thread: Paws for Purple Hearts

The Washington Post has a story about a new program to assist two groups of wounded veterans, “Vets with PTSD train dogs to help comrades“:

… The program trains Labradors and golden retrievers – including many offspring of Yount’s dog Gabe – as lifelong service dogs and companions for veterans who use wheelchairs. But for their first two years of life, these dogs spread their love around in another way. They are trained by veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. For many of these psychologically damaged warriors, this human-canine connection provides them with emotional sustenance, a mission and important lessons in patience that help them get on with their lives.
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“It was challenging, and it tested my patience, but it taught me to have patience again, and that was something I had really lost because of PTSD,” said former Army reconnaisance officer Amanda Heidenreiter, 26, of Columbia, of her experience training Owen, a golden retriever. She had returned from Iraq terrified of crowds and children, and “Owen helped me relax, calm my anger.”
[…]
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The vets who train the dogs spend several months with them, sometimes longer, and letting go can be difficult. Yount said that some experience sleep problems after their dogs go, but “processing that sense of loss in saying goodbye to their dog has been a valuable gateway to processing other loss issues that have been hampering their recovery. ”
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And it’s terribly important for veterans to feel they are continuing a mission that held them together through the violence and stress of war. “PTSD carries a stigma, that you’re broken and wounded,” said Yount, “And many guys have guilt for not still being in the fight. The idea of Paws for Purple Hearts is you can be part of the war effort while you’re getting treatment.”
[…]
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This is where the dual benefits of the program are apparent. The vets are working on behalf of a wheelchair-using vet, but are learning – or relearning – the emotional skills needed to manage a dog that will help them function in a world of normal human feelings and interactions.
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“The training of a dog requires you to emote,” Yount says. “That’s hard for a guy with PTSD who’s emotionally numb. But if you tell them it’s necessary to train this dog to help a fellow vet, there’s motivation. First, they have to sound happy. It’s fake. But there’s a concept that says, ‘Fake it until you make it.’ Within a few days, it sounds more and more sincere. Pretending to sound happy actually impacts your feeling of happiness.”
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Heidenreiter, the former reconnaisance officer, said training a golden retriever named Owen forced her to go into malls, restaurants and stores so that the dog would be a good companion for a physically disabled veteran. Doing so terrified her at first, but eventually she learned to relax…

There’s also a slide show, which starts with Yount explaining Gabe’s expert qualifications: “He will train you to pet him.”