How Do They Do It For You?

I have noticed that my dogs have become more loving in the last year or so. I don’t know what has brought this on, but it’s kind of sweet. They are always full of love and kisses and want to be around us. They just seem to be more affectionate lately, let me tell you some examples.

Meg, she will come from anywhere when she sees me and will just sit by my side and look at me with those big brown eyes. She will stare a hole in me until I pet her and rub her face. I don’t mean just a pat on the head; I l have to stroke her head with both hands. I have heard from trainers that the way you respond to them is important. If my dogs are sitting, facing me, I will take both hands and rub from their snout to their neck. I will do this 8 to 10 times, they say this is the same expression as when they lick us, it’s just the human response. When Meggie sits in my lap, she loves to have her sides rubbed too.

Molly is my heart dog. She will sit in the recliner next to mine (we have two of them sitting side by side). If I don’t pay attention to her, she will take her paw and put it on my arm and stroke my arm ever so gently. If I still don’t respond, she will move closer and whine a little, until I pay attention to her. What she really wants is for me to rub her head and ears. According to her, this should be done for hours on end. I don’t mind, except I do enjoy my afternoon nap in the recliner. Something else Molly does when we are outside is to come up to me and put both her front paws on my hip. She will stay like this until I respond and will even walk on her back legs if I begin to move. It’s cute, the two of us walking down the drive, her tagging along up on her back legs.

Abbie, OMG, the poster child of affection. She must have been deprived as a pup because she certainly makes up for it now. I was under the truck two weeks ago doing some minor repairs, and she trapped me. I was on my back looking at the bottom of the truck, and she attacked me with her tongue. Abbie can lick your eyebrows right off your face. The bad part, if you object or try to restrain her, she feels that it’s just part of the game and will intensify her endeavor. Finally, still under the truck, I just gave in and let her get her licks in. While Abbie was still getting her licks in, Meg joined in, and I had both of them licking my face and neck. My face and neck were wet, and my ears never felt so clean. Abbie always does this. In the mornings, when she sleeps with us, she stays in bed long after we have gotten up. At night she cuddles right up to us and gets very still, but once you move, you’re fair game, and she starts her mega licking.

Dutchess, as I have said before, will knock you down, loving you! I have seen her do this to people that come over to see the dogs. She will run toward you, and when she is just a few feet away will turn and jump into you with her backside standing on her back legs. She will then jump up and try to lick you in the face. I’ve never seen another dog do this. She will also run to me when I am in the recliner, jump in my lap, immediately flipping on her back, so I will rub her belly. She has nearly knocked both of us right out of the recliner.

Clancy is the quiet one. He doesn’t require much attention, he just wants to be near you. He loves to lick your leg or arm and will do this for what seems like hours on end. I used to think this was pretty yucky when I would see other people's dogs do it to them, it’s kinda like having to kiss your sister, something you don’t ever want to do, but your mother makes you. But with Clancy, it’s different. I enjoy it and don’t really know why. I guess it’s his way of “petting” me. He’s always ready to give you a proper washing. As I write this, he’s by my side licking my ankle.

Annie doesn’t show too much love yet. She just drags my underwear and socks around the house. Maybe that’s her way. Lord, help us…

I read an article several months ago about dogs licking a human in USA Today. It said it was something you should not do, because of germs. Have we become that sterile of a society that we should be afraid of a dog lick? I don’t think so, I can’t imagine a day without my “dog sugar.” Just my opinion.

If you want, let me know how your dog shows love to you.


It's Hard To Say Goodbye

I see it every time someone drops their dog off to stay with us while they go on vacation. The dog is so excited, they run around and play and scamper with the other dogs, but the first think they learn is where they fit into "the pack". There is a lot of smelling of butts and checking each other out, and sometimes Clancy will have to put everyone in their place, but it usually takes a minute or so, and then "off" down the driveway they all go, happy as they can be. I assure the owners that everything will be "OK" but they feel, "No One Can Take Care of Their Baby but Them", and that's usually true. We try our best to make the dog feel at home and I will tell you, we do spoil them.
Elaine and I just got back from vacation last week on a 10 day trip. I'm a "night before" packer so I don't plan too much. Socks, check...Shorts, check... Hawaiian shirts, check... passport, check...underwear, don't care...I'm ready in ten minutes. Elaine takes a few days longer, but then it's a girl thing. "Elaine, do you think we can take the dogs?", "No", she said.. "How about if they were our service dogs?", believe me I have tried to think of a way.

When we leave for that length of time, it's a hassle to line up people to take care of the dogs and to know they will do a good job. We usually try to get someone to come and live at the house and that has proven to be a disaster when Dogwood Ridge turned into party central. We did get it all figured out and I was very comfortable with the people watching the dogs. So off we went on the big trip...ten minutes on the road and I said to Elaine "What do you think the dogs are doing?, and we actually tried to figure it out. I am now in the same position as the many people that leave their dog with us. When it's time to leave, they rub them and try to get the last hug in, but the dog is too interested in running and playing for that. I reassure them everything will be "OK".

Only because some people will ask, I now ask everyone, "Do you want updates" and they always say "YES!". During the week I will email to their Blackberry or IPhone, photo's and progress reports. I do enjoy it, because I enjoy writing. Well now I'm in their shoes and there will be no updates.

Every day we talked about the dogs and wondered how they were doing. They were always somewhere in my thoughts. I hoped they were not barking or getting into trouble doing something bad, yes, they do bad things sometimes. The last day of the Cruise, we always have a farewell bottle of wine on the fantail of the ship. It's usually late and the stars are always out and you can see forever. We talk about our life and plan for the future. It's kinda nice and we reflect on the past too. This nights talk turned to the dogs and we wondered what they were doing, we assumed they were bedded down for the night, I only hoped so.

Usually there are no problems when a dog  stays with us, only once, did I have to take one to the Vet. She had broken her toe and had to wear a cast, but she healed nicely with no problems. The only other times were when some dogs tore their paw pads but they were fine. You always worry about them. I think that's the difference between a dog owner and a dog lover.

When we first got into raising dogs, we only had Max and Molly. We wanted to breed Molly so we purchased "Morgan" (seen above and below), because Max was neutered. Morgan was a beautiful dog and he was the apple of every one's eye. One day I came home from being in town and he had gotten tangled up in a fence with his collar. That night we buried him with our other forever pets here on the farm. Just a few days after the second photo was taken was when he passed away, with the very blue collar he has on. To this day, my dogs never wear a collar, and I always take a collar off if a dog comes to visit.
The trip home is always a little unnerving. I always worry just a little, but when we pulled into the driveway, all the worries fled away. They all greeted us and showered us with licks and kisses. They whine and moan and jump and dance, and in my heart I do too. It’s good to be home.....

Run Free Morgan...See you at the bridge. Dad

Footnote:  Just two days after Morgan's death, we found Clancy and brought him home and it all started.... 


Lil’ Possum Learns To Swim

I knew the time would come, and we needed to do it; I put it off because it took some work on my part, and we were getting ready for vacation. Annie (Lil’ Possum) needed to get in the water and swim because it’s just something they need to do. When we got Molly Mae, it was during the winter, and we didn’t know the importance of acclimating her to the water, so we never got her in, and besides, it was winter. Most of the other dogs will automatically get in the water, but Molly is the only dog we have that will not, except up to her belly.

The big day came right before vacation, and it was a hot day, which made it better for me. Elaine and I took her out to the swimming lake because we “were” going to swim. I drove off the diving board and swam around to the shore. Elaine took Annie to the shore where I was, but Annie was more interested in eating the mud than the water. I was in and coaxed her toward me, but every time she got her little nerve up, she would back off. I got a little closer, and she really wanted to come to me but was afraid to take the first step. I would pat the water and call her, and she would hop up in the air and then go the down position. I had my hand just a few inches from her, but still in the water. She was so excited and wanted so bad to come in but was just unsure. She would bark and bite at the water as if she was telling it off. Then I had Elaine throw me a tennis ball, and that did it, not only for her but for the other dogs that had come to observe Annie’s rite of passage. Abbie was the first to snag the ball up, and she was so pleased, but I was on another mission, which was to teach Annie. Thinking ahead, I brought two tennis balls over to the lake, one for Annie and one for the other dogs. Elaine would throw one and keep them busy while I worked to get Annie in the water. Things worked well except for the few times that Abbie wanted both tennis balls in her mouth at once, which she has. Elaine kept the other dogs busy, and the plan was working well.

Off the shore she sprang, she hopped once and came straight at me. Her eyes were as big as saucers and not a blink in them to be seen. Right to my arms. I turned her around and sent her to shore for another round. She did it again, and right back she came, to her “safe” spot, but this time she ventured out just a little more toward the dock, not the shore, as before. She ventured to her tennis ball that I had in my hand, wanting to play. This went on for a few minutes until she was comfortable with the water. The only problem was trying to keep the other dogs from jumping on Annie and me to get the ball, but Elaine did an excellent job. Lil’ Possum is officially a water dog and has started her journey to be one of the pack dogs.


Annie's "REAL" Road Trip

This week, Annie went for a real "road" trip.  She is doing very well and is getting along with all the dogs in the pack, so I thought it was time to get her acclimated to the farm and the surrounding woods and lakes.  We started down the driveway and she was a little unsure of where she was going and walked a little slower because of her size and the vast unknown.
She watched all the other dogs scamper off and looked at me, and then back at them, and back to me.  I said, "Let's Go" and off we waddled (puppy's waddle sometimes).  She started off in a hurry as long as I was close.  She sniffed and walked in the woods and sniffed and peed a couple of times, only because the big dogs were doing it and sniffed some more, she was so pleased with herself.  She tried to eat sticks and rocks and even who knows what else...
She walked a lot and ran a little and at times she would look back as if trying to say, "are we there yet"  After a few more feet, we need a rest break.
We got to one of our lakes and Dutchess gave her a few pointers on "Fishing".  Annie was so thrilled that one of the "Big" dogs was taking an interest in her and she even acted like she knew what she was doing.  Little did she know the Catfish were bigger than she was....
Right after she came to us, she had an upset stomach and did not feel very well.  She would drink her water but she was not interested in her regular food.  We tried several things and at times, everything.

She is all better now and everything is fine..., ready for another adventure...Next week we're going swimming in the big lake, Oh My, Oh My......