Archives for August 2008

Is Your Dog Really Perfect?

“My dog is better than yours” a common phrase heard within the dog owner community. What makes a perfect dog? One that comes when you call, sits when you say, walks by your side as if you are the most important thing to them, waits patiently for your command, ignores other dogs who pass…well get a robot.

Do you sit patiently and wait for your parents, friends, spouse or whoever to tell you what to do? Do you listen intently to people who talk to you as if everything they say is gospel? Then why should we expect our dogs to do this? Like us, our dogs are not perfect and make mistakes and have good days and bad. I have met many more dogs who I would love to spend hours with than humans. Dogs are non-judgmental. Dogs aren’t afraid to show you how they are feeling or to let you know when they have had enough. Dogs don’t try to impress us or hide their desires – the amount of drool hanging from their jowls gives them away.

I don’t want a dog who listens every second of every day. I don’t want a dog who waits patiently for me to tell them what to do. I don’t want a dog who worships me. I want a dog who has spirit. I want a dog who loves doing what they do, not one who does it because that is what they were raised to do. I want a dog who thinks for them self. I want a dog who will tell me no and that I am expecting too much. I want a dog who will test me and give me a reality check when one is needed. That is why Phoenix, Cessna, Aspen and Aiden are four of the most important mammals in my life.

Phoenix wears a colourful party hat at Aspen's birthday party.I have had Phoenix for ten years now and he will be 12 in October. Some people would assume he was a perfect dog given his age and experience, but he is far from it. Phoenix isn’t afraid to give you the “f*** you” look when he isn’t in the mood to listen or feels he is above you. My husband gets the “f*** you” look on a weekly basis from Phoenix and gets little reminders every once in a while that he is third in command, me being the first and Phoenix the second. Don’t get me wrong, Phoenix is and will always be my buddy, he came to me when I was 17 and taught me how to be responsible, what being independent felt like, and what unconditional love truly meant. I can remember the times we’d be at school and I wouldn’t let him do something he wanted, he would give me a dirty look as he walked me full force into a garbage can. I’d correct him and he would just look up with this huge smile and his tail wagging.

Close up of Cessna wearing a white baseball cap.Cessna’s picture should be beside the word “spirit” in the dictionary. She is the true definition of a dog with spirit. She works well and loves her job, but she also loves to just drop the professionalism and go crazy. She is a dog who loves life and makes sure to make the most of it, sometimes it is as if she knows she won’t live forever. I can take her into Toronto and feel absolutely safe following behind her, but then she makes sure to remind me that she is not perfect, jumping around like a kangaroo, all proud of herself for making a flock of geese take flight at once by barking while she walks by. I can honestly say that Cessna makes me smile all of the time.

Aspen is our pet dog, she definitely didn’t pay attention to the lessons Phoenix tried to teach her. She may not have the intelligence of Phoenix and Cessna, but she sure does have her looks. She is cute, affectionate, and extremely happy with life. We have had Aspen since she was 8 weeks old and she just turned 5 in June. We have been trying to teach her for years to move out of the way when someone walks near, but all she will do is lift a leg and look up as if to ask “is that enough room for you to get by?” Her breeder told us to teach her all we could before the age of 6 months and we made sure to work hard on the basic obedience commands, she learned “sit” within hours of arriving. Maybe it was just laziness, but she would sit and look up at us anytime we said something so we just assumed she knew what we wanted. After she turned 6 months it was like the learning part of her brain turned off, it took her to the age of about 2 ½ to learn to swim and to the age of about 3 to learn the game of fetch. Phoenix has tried to teach her how to leash guide, but she just can’t seem to get the concept, Cessna learned in only two short lessons.

And finally we have Aiden. Aiden came to us at 10 weeks of age and has done nothing but absorb skills and mostly positive behaviours from Cessna and Phoenix. He just turned 8 months on Saturday and already he is showing signs of being mature and responsible. Unlike most puppies his age, Aiden is content to sit by my feet and watch the world go by. He loves to learn new things and devotes most of his attention to whoever has hold of his leash. But, just as the others aren’t, Aiden is not perfect. He has an overwhelming love for lotion, attacking whoever put some on with kiss after kiss until they get annoyed. He loves going places and just can’t seem to understand the concept of having a loose leash, even the halti doesn’t seem to make a difference. He is not a strong puller, but still there is tension on the leash.

As you can see none of my dogs are perfect, but I love them each for their personality and quirks. Life would be boring if they adhered to the ideals of the “perfect dog”. What’s the point of having a dog when you aren’t being challenged or made to laugh each day by their antics.

So my message to all you “perfect dog” owners out there is: maybe you should step back and take a closer look at your dog because if it’s :”perfect” then it isn’t really a dog, it’s a robot and what’s the fun in that?

“There is no faith which has never yet been broken, except that of a truly faithful dog.”

Cessie’s Trip To Marineland

On Tuesday Huib, Cessna and I all packed into the car and headed off to Niagara Falls for a trip to Marineland. My friend and her group home were going so we thought we’d tag along. I was surprised when my friend called ahead and they agreed to allow Cessna to attend with us, the Toronto Zoo forbids service dogs from entering their premises. We arrived around 11:15am and waited for my friend and her group to arrive. Marineland was busy, I think it must have been group trip day or something because there were bus loads of people arriving one after another. The group arrived around noon and after a quick lunch we all headed into the park.

The first exhibit we checked out was the feeding of the sea lions. Cessna growled and made small barking noises at them, but I muffled her noises by holding her mouth closed. She was fascinated by the sea lions who were swimming around and making different noises. Next we watched the performing seals, dolphins, and walrus. Cessna was trembling with excitement, she began whining after a while of watching the show. I am surprised the people in front of us didn’t complain because she was right between them. After the show we headed over to the orca whales where we were splashed and entertained. Cessna was absolutely thrilled by them, she was so excited watching them swim and jump below her. Huib held her a couple of times so she could see better, she whined tons, wanting to swim with them. She enjoyed them so much that we went by and watched again before leaving.
Another eventful part of our day was when we entered the area where their were deer roaming free. We entered the iron gate and walked along, Cessna was absolutely amazing, she just walked along side me looking around with interest. About halfway through this part Huib looked back and noticed that all of the deer were following us, he stopped and took some pictures. When we began walking again a brave deer began to approach us, Huib scared him off several times, but he continued to come towards us so we left as quickly as we could.

Next we walked by a red deer, elk, and buffalo…I always thought that deer had smooth coats… Our final visit was to the beluga whales, they were boring! The line up to pet them was too long so we left after only a few minutes of watching. Overall we spent 4 hours at Marineland and had a great time. I don’t know if it would have been as much fun though without Cessna.

“Sing like no one’s listening; love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching; and live like it’s heaven on earth.” Mark Twain

Weekend of Parties

It has been a while since I last posted an entry, so I thought I’d do one today. Friday was my cousin’s wedding. Lance is a year younger than me and works as a criminal defense lawyer in Toronto. Lance and I were always quite close as kids, but as we grew up, we also grew apart. Lance met his wife, Christina, at work about a year ago and it was love at first sight. Unlike most of his family, with their long relationships before marriage, Lance decided after just a year that it was time to propose and get married soon after.

The wedding was nice, the bride’s maids wore fuchsia pink dresses that were all designed to their liking, while the groomsmen wore black suits. The ceremony took place outside near a fountain which created a pleasant mist in the air every once in a while. The guests all sat on white plastic chairs which were decorated with white ribbons. The bride was beautiful coming down the aisle with her father and it was so cute to see Lance’s face as she approached. Being the oldest cousin in the family it is always neat to watch my younger ones grow up and become mature men and women. Our family sat mainly at the back, we’re the rowdy crowd J My younger cousins were all quite well-behaved sitting quietly and waiting for the ceremony to end. My youngest cousin, Harrison, was hilarious though, he has a habit of pushing on his mom’s breast with both hands to get her attention…oh baby, not in public!

The reception took place about an hour after the ceremony ended, the food was good and the desserts were awesome (this coming from someone who dislikes most desserts). Once everyone was nice and full the speeches began. Each speech was well presented, some brought tears to your eyes, while others were just too funny not to smile. The first dance of the night was beautiful, Christina’s dress just flowed around her so nicely. The rest of the night went by pretty quickly, Huib had to work the following day so when 11:00pm came we knew it was time to go.

On Saturday I spent the day with just Phoenix and Aspen, Cessna and Aiden were with my friend who had watched them while we attended the wedding. The day was so quiet and boring. Even though Aspen is only 5 years old, she is like having another older dog in the house. Finally, around 6:30pm Huib came home and we piled into the car and headed off to my friend Jess’s place. Jess was holding a retirement party for her guide dog Jetta. We arrived about half an hour before the other guest arrived and enjoyed greeting Aiden and Cessna who were quite excited to see us all. Aspen came along and created quite an eventful 20 minutes. Aspen has bowel issues and was having problems all day, but we thought she was feeling better so decided to bring her along. Aspen often has bowel flare ups when she is stressed and we believe she was stressed out about Cessna and Aiden’s absence. Well she was greeting Jess and cuddling with her on the couch, then she decided to clime up onto Jess to let Huib know that she needed to go out. Well when she climbed into Jess’s lap her bowels let go and what a mess it was. I was so upset, but also knew that Aspen did not mean for this to happen. Jess was a good sport about it all though which was nice. The party was fun, there were 6 dogs in total (us having 3 of them). Jetta seemed to enjoy her retirement cake along with the others, but didn’t seem to like all the company as much. Jetta will officially retire this coming weekend when she will head to Sault St. Marie with Jess’s parents to live. We will all miss Jetta, but I also know she will love her retirement.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
– Dr. Seuss