A Golden Retriever Saved My Life

Seven years ago my father passed away.  He was my best friend, my confidant, and my co-conspirator when it came to getting dogs.  When I was very young, we could not have a dog as my older brother was quite allergic.  When we would go to our cottage for the christmas holidays, and my brother was old enough to stay home alone, my dad would go to the nearest SPCA, adopting a dog for the two weeks we were there.  When it was time to come home, we would find a friend who could adopt the dog permanently, and give it to that family.  Many of my friends got amazing dogs this way and many dogs got wonderful homes.  As soon as my brother moved out for good, I think it took about 5 minutes before he was replaced by a stunning black mutt named Sadie.

As we learned about different aspects of different breeds, we both fell madly in love with the Golden Retriever.  Long after I was married and out of the house, my dad got a beautiful boy named Barclay, and he and I shared the dog.  Barclay was my dad’s, but I was his best babysitter, and we enjoyed 11 years of co-ownership.  

When my dad passed, I felt very lost.  It’s amazing how you can be surrounded by loved ones and still feel so alone.  And then while looking through pictures one day, I got the bright idea to look on different breeder’s websites and see what kind of golden retriever’s might be looking for homes.  I ended up talking to a breeder who had an 8 month old puppy who was available.  With 4 kids at home, and an older german shepherd, my husband was understandably insistent that we could not bring another dog into the house, but for the first time ever in my life, I did what I wanted to do, and not what was expected of me.  I told him I was going to pick the dog up, and all he had to do was help me to introduce the two dogs.  In the time it takes to say “you want how many dogs?” Oscar was an integral member of our family.  That was 6 years ago.

Everywhere I take Oscar, people fall in love with him.  He is a gentle giant, handsome and sweet.  My daughter says he is the canine equivalent of Jeff Bridges, and I’d have to agree.  From the moment I brought him into our home, I started to heal.  I could almost hear my dad telling me what a beautiful dog he was, and I could sense him smiling at the pleasure my youngest children got from him.  Today is Oscar’s 7th birthday.  Time has certainly flown, and the acute pain caused by my father’s passing has certainly eased.  I don’t know where I would be today if I hadn’t had him there by my side to help me grieve, and luckily I don’t have to worry about that.  So happy birthday my big, sweet boy, thank you for all that you have given me.

If you are looking for a companion to become a part of your life, you should go over to http://www.petbreederconnection.com, the best place to meet your match!Image

Who is to blame in vicious dog attack?

I just finished reading a terrible story about a 14 year old girl in England who was attacked and killed by 4 dogs in her own home.  All that is known at this point is that the girl left school, picked up a meat pie for her lunch, and headed home to eat it.  Her body was found at about 2pm in the home.  A police sharpshooter had to kill two bull mastiffs and two staffordshire bull terriers.  A young girl, and four animals are dead, is anyone to blame?

There are many opinions when it comes to assigning the name “dangerous breed” to different dog breeds.  Many cities and countries try to create breed specific legislation to stop dog attacks from happening, but is that really the answer?  Where I live, in Ontario, Canada, we have a ban on pit bulls and pit bull mixes.  Despite being banned in over 600 cities in the U.S. the following chart depicts the breed division of the dog fatalities for 2012.

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It would seem fairly straight forward to assume that the pit bull ban is the best way to get these attacks under control, but is that really the case?  

I am the proud owner of a german shepherd.  I know her strengths and I know her weaknesses and I control her behaviour accordingly.  She is not allowed off-leash in public places, when we are out for walks, and another dog is coming our way, I usually cross the street, as she can be a little snippy, when people come into our home, she is introduced properly, and when we have a larger get together she is confined to a bedroom.  I understand that she is never going to be like my golden retriever.  She is never going to be that easygoing dog that just is happy to hang out.  It is in her blood to be protective, alert and aloof with those she does not know.  Although she was recently attacked by a much smaller little white dog, (I call those the “cream filled ones”)  It was the other dog who did the attacking.  Due to the sheer difference in size, it was also the other dog who got injured.  And as the owner of the shepherd, I was the one who got stuck paying half the vet bill.  So is it the dog breed, or the owner’s fault?

Years ago, when my father was out walking his sweet golden retriever, a young man with a pit bull took one look at my dad and said “my dog could kill your dog!”  What my dad explained to me after that encounter was that some people’s insecurities were bolstered by their dogs.  The tougher the dog, the more the dog builds up the owners self esteem.  Somewhat like gang members hiding behind their violence and guns, these dog owners cowered behind their tough dog breeds and their reputations.  It goes back to that old adage that says There are no bad dogs, just bad dog owners.  So who is to blame?  Where these dogs vicious or were they never socialized?  Were they rewarded for their bad behaviour or were they punished for it?  Did anyone ever train these dogs to be good members of the canine community?  Perhaps it would be more fitting if we banned bad dog owners.  If mandatory dog training was in order with every dog purchased.  Is it so wrong to look at ourselves and realize that perhaps it is not the dogs, and perhaps it is the people who own the dogs?

ImageThis is Cupcake.  He is an english bull mastiff, the same breed as two of the dogs killed in todays attack in England.  Cupcake is a registered therapy dog for the veterans wing in a Toronto hospital.  He is owned by a very responsible person who has spent time and effort training him to be a good canine citizen.  So again I will ask, is it the breed or the owner?  In the end, I do believe it is the owner’s responsibility to control their dog.

 

Please check in with the crazy dog lady at the top of the street!

I know I’ve mentioned the Crazy Dog Lady before, but here we go again.  Crazy Dog Lady, or CDL as she will henceforth be known, lives at the top of my street, and she knows more than you or I could ever hope to know about dogs.  She knows every different breed, and all of their characteristics.  She knows how every dog will react to every situation no matter what, and she is more than happy to tell you about it!  If you are new to the neighbourhood, or pet sitting someone else’s pooch, and she has never seen the particular dog you are with, she will find you, and tell you everything you are doing wrong.  And trust me, there is always something you are doing wrong.CDL

CDL has some sort of sixth sense when it comes to new dogs in the ‘hood.  Its almost as though she is lurking behind every tree or bush, just waiting to jump out and educate you.  Day, night, morning, noon, holidays, weekends, weekdays….there is never a safe time to walk your puppy.  But now I have a new plan.  I am just going to hook up a little hyena puppy to a leash, and sign it up for some puppy walks.  That should solve that situation once and for all!

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Worst TV Show Ever!

Being an animal lover, I do have a soft spot for wildlife TV shows.  Yes, I subscribe to Animal Planet, Discovery, National Geographic, and of course National Geographic Wild, and unless I am outvoted by an NHL game, this is mostly what I watch.  The other evening my son mentioned a new TV show that he thought I might like called ‘Urban Tarzan’.

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The following statement from http://www.urbantarzan.com would seem to be true “He is fearless and lives an exciting and dangerous life, often risking his own to  save the lives of people and animals from injury and death.”  He, however, is not the problem.  The problem lies in the people he is trying to help.  I don’t know if these are re-enactments, but if so, the show should state that.  Each and every person he tried to help appeared to be an acting school drop out.  Their inane comments and actions made me feel like I was watching a sixth grade play.

During this episode, good ole’ Tarzan rescued a chimp who was all hopped up on cough syrup, an alligator who was thrown into a swimming pool by an irate ex-husband, and a pretty large sized bull trapped in a corn maze.  And while he made great rescues, and saved the world for another day, the show was entirely ruined by the poorly scripted acting and third rate cast.  I guess there is a reason this show is on Spike TV and not a more reputable station.