Friday, March 18, 2011

Bailey Protects Katy

Saturday we went shopping for Bailey's birthday. We visited several of the local pet stores to get the best selection and price on the items we were looking to buy.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog Bailey loves to shop. Katy would much rather shop from home if the option was available.

I grew up with four older brothers and at times Katy and Bailey's relationship makes me laugh. It does remind me of that big brother to little sister relationship I remember. Bailey and Katy are both loyal and annoyed by one another at times. However, nobody gets between them. Bailey may tease his younger housemate, but nobody picks on Katy.

Bailey and Katy have both benefited from the stores that allow pets. Katy has developed better social skills in her outings. Bailey loves the interactions with humans and dogs. I like meeting other pet owners and find most are responsible about handling their dogs in tight quarters and potentially challenging situations.

The larger dogs usually are more cause for concern than the smaller dogs as they tend to be harder to avoid. Yesterday, Katy realized the smaller ones can be intimidating and Bailey came to her rescue. Bailey and my husband had fallen behind in an aisle as they were checking out some items of interest. Katy and I were moving ahead. I wanted to price a few items. A small white powder puff proceeded to jump out at Katy and lunge at her. Bailey quickly moved up the aisle and put himself between Katy and the powder puff. As the powder puff tried to get around Bailey, he looked like a basketball player using defensive moves to block it from getting at Katy. The minute Bailey arrived on the scene Katy dived under Bailey's stomach.

If Katy had not been so scared, it would have been the sweetest moment I have observed between them. He might steal her toys, but nobody messes with Katy, but him. Bailey never showed his teeth or any aggressive moves. He just kept blocking the dog from approaching Katy. I slowly moved the two dogs back and the dog's owner finally retrieved her dog stating she is not normally aggressive.

Katy pressed up close to Bailey for the rest of the trip and Bailey showed no signs of leaving her side.

Pictures may not be used without written permission.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Bailey and Katy

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

This is such a fun holiday. Mom and Dad play our favorite music. We love Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder, and have recently gotten hooked on the High Kings. Dad always plays the CD's in the car on the way to playgroup. We love it when he puts the DVD's on the TV and we can sit in our favorite spots and fall asleep to the music. These DVD's are so much better than the scary stuff Mom likes to watch.

The bears Mom has out as decorations are a bit freaky. They are almost as tall as we are and they are not real. We keep poking them to check, but they are still fake. What is the significance of bears for St. Patrick's Day? There were other bears there for Valentine's Day and then they switched. We are very confused.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chuck It Balls

While we were out shopping for Bailey's birthday, we bought some items for Katy as well. Katy had limited experience with toys when we got her. She has transitioned to playing with Bailey's toys, but has trouble holding on to some of his larger toys. I grew up with smaller dogs that never had trouble with tennis balls or the toys Bailey plays with, but they all played with toys as puppies. Katy has struggled with keeping the toys in her mouth.

At one of the pet stores we were at yesterday we explored the Chuckit! Ultra Ball Small 2-inch, 2 pack. These toys come in multiple sizes. We bought the smaller ones for Katy and the medium ones for Bailey. Katy was thrilled. For the first time she has a good grip on the ball when she grabs it and the ball does not fall out of her mouth when she plays.

We also bought just the Chuckit! Tennis Ball Small 2-inch, 2 pack. My disappointment with these, as with all the dog tennis balls we have tried is they do not bounce. However, Katy has been chasing these around the house as we toss or roll them to her. She has an advantage because Bailey is finding the smaller balls harder to pick up and this gives her a few added moments to get and hold on to the balls when she plays.

We saw the Chuckit! Pocket Ball Launcher (Colors Vary). We do not have any issue in throwing the balls for the dogs. If we launch them too far, they will be in our neighbors' yards. We have had that issue with Frisbees, so we try to avoid it with our tennis balls.

One suggestion I would make is to shop around for price. My main reason for buying these balls was the smaller size and the durability of the medium sized ones we bought for Bailey. I like the idea of being able to wash his outdoor toys as the tennis balls can get pretty dirty in the mud. We visited several stores and price and selection do range.

Pictures may not be used without written permission.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Snow Gives Way To Land

As I mentioned in an earlier blog Katy and Bailey are struggling with the change from snow to mud. This will be Katy's first spring with us, but Bailey has had a few transitions. He loves the snow packs and he loves the summer grass. He is no fan of the spring rains and mud. Katy is showing no signs of enjoying the transition either. They are both clinging to the last bits of snow.

Soon this will only be a fond memory of winter play.

I suspect they will find plenty to entertain them this summer. The squirrels are already emerging and the chases have begun. While they will regret the loss of snow, they will find other amusements.

Pictures may not be used without written permission.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why Katy No Longer Goes to the Vet Without Bailey

One of our first tasks when we brought Katy home was to take her to the vet. She was fully vaccinated and had been treated by the foster's vet, but we wanted to establish a relationship with our local vet before Katy needed care. We wanted to get her started on Frontline, which we did not realize at the time was far more important than we knew.

Therefore, an appointment was made and my husband got Katy ready to get in the car to go. Bailey lost it. He made every non-violent protest move he could make to keep Katy from getting her harness on and then being able to get to the door. He actually tripped my husband who landed on the floor. Bailey was terrified Katy was being sent away and doing everything in his power to prevent it. The vet has a small outer office and we were not sure how comfortable she would be if we took both dogs. Bailey cried and paced the entire time Katy was gone. I have never seen him so distressed, not even during our worst storms.

Katy was fine with the whole thing. She was not thrilled with the exam, but not many dogs love the process. However, she was amazed at the attention Bailey showered her with when she arrived home and she made the most of it.

Our Vet asked my husband where Bailey was and on hearing, his concern about bringing both had no issues with it. Now Bailey goes to the vet with my husband, but Katy always has an escort.

Pictures may not be used without written permission.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Surrendering a Dog

I may have a different position on this issue than others. As someone who has rescued two Shelties, I do believe that it is better to surrender a dog one is not willing to care for than to continue to make the dog suffer for sins it has not committed. This is not the position many hold. Some believe taking on a dog is a relationship that is similar to the “until death do us part” vow taken by couples at a wedding. Bailey and Katy have taught me why this can be a dangerous vision to have.

First, let me state I am a firm believer in educating people about the challenges of dog ownership, specifically of taking on a puppy. I think it is important families and individuals understand the challenges as well as the great joys that come with taking on the responsibility of a dog. What is done up front and at the time of an adoption to help people adjust is very important. Getting people help with training, obedience, and finding affordable vet care can make a rocky start a lifelong companionship. However, not everyone is cut out to be a dog owner. No amount of encouragement to research the process upfront can persuade people to do it.

Bailey was an impulse purchase by people who had no experience with puppies. He was a typical puppy. His owners had no idea it would be like bringing a baby into their home with teeth and no diapers. At four months, they had enough and found a sheltie rescue to turn him over to for placement. Some would condemn them for their actions. I was grateful. They gave us an amazing gift. You rarely find puppies in breed rescues. Most people do “hang on” to their dogs through the puppy stage. Some do emotional and sadly sometimes physical damage to a pet before determining they are not cut out to be dog owners. While it would have been preferable that they researched prior to purchasing, I am grateful that they realized they were not capable of handling his needs before neglect or abuse occurred. I am also glad that instead of dumping him at their local shelter they were responsible enough to find a breed rescue. Instead of being caged, Bailey stayed at a foster home where he was house broken and screened for placement.

We know less about Katy’s background, but while we would have missed her life, it would have been kinder if someone had acknowledged that she was more than he/she could handle before she was two. We are still working to fully housebreak Katy. Her accidents are fewer, but at two, this is a clear indication that someone failed in their duty as an owner. She was never trained to walk on a leash and was unable to respond to her name when called. We changed her name to be closer to the only word she would respond to when we brought her home.

Unlike Bailey, I do not know the specifics of Katy’s history. I am glad that she was released to rescue at two and not made to wait longer to find a home that would treat her with love, respect, and dignity. I only wish someone had made the choice earlier.

I cannot be angry with Bailey’s previous owners. They could have dumped him at the local pound. They chose to be responsible and deal with a breed rescue, which increased Bailey’s chances of finding a permanent home. This time prospective owners were screened to determine if they did understand the challenges and obstacles of owning not just a puppy, but a Sheltie puppy. I do find myself more frustrated with Katy’s owners. Her neglect is not as bad as many stories we have all read, but still clearly not necessary, when other options were available to find her a loving home.

I take my responsibility as a dog owner seriously. This is not a casual commitment entered into lightly. I see these as a death do us part relationships. However, I realize Katy and Bailey were not in healthy relationships before they came to us. Sending those dogs into a quality breed rescue was perhaps the most responsible choice their previous owners made.

I would much rather see other dogs in unhealthy or unsustainable relationships surrendered than to continue suffering out of some kind of misguided belief that the commitment cannot be broken. When dog and human are miserable finding a better home is the right choice.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy Birthday

Bailey turns eight today. It does not seem possible that our first is eight. Now I sound like my friends with children. However, it does seem like yesterday we were driving back from Connecticut with a carsick puppy and beginning our lives with this amazing dog. It does not seem possible that he could possibly be eight. The calendar keeps us honest, though.

Last weekend was cold, wet and rainy, so we decided we would take the dogs out birthday shopping this weekend. I want to see if we can find some of the puzzle toys that will keep the two of them entertained. Of course, Bailey will get some bones as well. We all know that this will start a game of grab and go with Katy. There are no individual purchases for these two. Both share what we buy, even when we buy duplicates. There is no concept of individual ownership.

I do like the pet stores that allow the dogs. We do visit Petco and some of the local dog stores allow the dogs to travel with their owners. Bailey and Katy do not match the human stereotypes. Bailey loves to shop. He could spend hours in the store pursuing toys and treats. Katy wants to get what she needs and be gone. If she could use the Internet, she would do all her shopping online. She sees no benefit to the social aspects of shopping.

Happy Birthday Bailey!! May you spend many more happy years with us.