A look at relationships, personal growth, & living/working in the 21st century.

Posts tagged ‘pets’

What 2012 Presidential Political Candidates Can Learn from Dogs

After taking my dog to the dog beach I had a revelation – dogs have all the answers. Dogs, great companions and clearly the most popular of the domesticated animals, are often seen in a somewhat negative light. In the English language there are numerous common idioms which cast aspursions about ‘man’s best friend.’ For example, consider the following sayings, 1) to ‘dog it,’ means to shirk responsibility; 2) to ‘go to the dogs,’ means to deteriorate; 3) to ‘lead a dog’s life,’ means to have an unhappy or harassed existence; or 4) to ‘put on the dog,’ means to assume an attitude of wealth or importance.” However, despite what are often seen as negative aspects of their behavior, dogs generally treat each other fairly and decently. First, dogs know how to work things out and get along. Little dogs get to sniff big dogs and vice versa. Among dog social circles, even the unattractive and ill-behaved get a shot at ‘running with the big dogs.’ Dogs are fair and quite equitable with each other. If a small dog gets too aggressive with a larger dog, the bigger dog likely growls and/or snaps at the smaller one to reprimand it or put it in its place. The smaller dog then responds respectfully by ceasing its inappropriate behavior. This is sometimes taken to the point of a sort of restitution when the smaller dog lies in a submissive position to show its remorse and acknowledge its guilt/misbehavior. There’s usually no need for one dog to attempt to cause permanent harm to another or destroy another’s reputation with other dogs. There’s no arguing over ‘super-packs’ as you’re either in a pack or you’re not. No one cares about such things since you’re just a dog either way. Eventually, in the equitable world of dogs, there’s a chance for every dog to ‘have his day.’ And, finally, at the dog park, no one gossips or mud-slings about another dog. Everyone is accepted and treated based on their merits, not the color of their skin (coat), and there’s no barking about any other dogs’ skeletons(bones)-in-the-closet. In conclusion, dogs are quite wise because all dogs know that, at the end of the day, EVERY dog licks itself. Talk about the great equalizer. Are you, like me, already tired of the endless political squabbling being broadcast all over the news, which will continue into the month of November? If it brings you any solace, just remember, we’re making the whole thing harder than it has to be. Dogs really do have all the answers and know how to get along with each other, how to resolve conflicts. Thanks for reading my rant, and, please share your thoughts.

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Somebody, please – help me be a better puppy parent

I think I need help being a better puppy parent.  We have a 9-month-old puppy in the family, Rex, a male Beabull (1/2 Beagle & 1/2 English Bulldog).  He really doesn’t ask all that much of me.  However, lately he’s let me know many times that I’m falling short when it comes to giving him the attention, love, holding, etc., that he wants.  Rex lets me know I’m not attending to him properly in multiple ways.  There’s the ever-so-subtle, very sharp, puppy bark.  The barks may be few, such as when something happens to capture his attention, or the barks can be many – unending until I give in, stop whatever I’m doing, and let this almost 40-pound dog pretend he’s a lap dog.  Then there’s the lengthy whine, often high-pitched, piercing, and one which makes you wonder if your neighbors are now certain you have begun the nightly beating of your dog (kidding, of course).  Who would have thought so much drama could be communicated by a whine.  If these methods don’t work, Rex gets really creative and finds new and better ways to be annoying, destructive, or just amazingly cute, all of which are done to capture your attention.

I’ve finally accepted that in my relationship with Rex, he’s the ‘giver,’ and I’m the ‘taker.’  Oh sure, I make sure he’s fed, bathed, walked, etc.  But he’s the one always offering unending affection and unconditional acceptance.  My moody self can be flighty as the wind – loving one minute and an iceberg the next.  Now don’t get me wrong, neither of us in this relationship is without his faults. So, lets look at Rex’s shortcomings.  He has that Beagle stubbornness, which can really try your patience.  When he picks up a scent he likes, his ears turn off, his eyes focus only on whatever has captured his interest, and I become non-existent and irrelevant.  What about dogs being pack animals, what about my being the ‘alpha dog’?  All of that goes out the window when Rex smells something interesting. Apparently, I’m just the ‘means to an end’ for Rex.

Rex has that cute Beagle face, you know, the big brown eyes, floppy rounded ears, and the ever-sniffing nose.  Everywhere we go, people respond to him and seem to immediately adore him.  Women always smile, often stopping whatever they are doing to pet him.  I’ve seen women walking, even romantically strolling, with the one they love, pause and react to Rex’s presence.  I’ve seen women stop their conversation, release the hand they are holding, to speak to me and say, “What a cute dog.  Can I pet him?”  I wish I had half of my dog’s magnetism – animal or whatever its origin.  I often see men doing the same, commenting on how cute my dog is, saying it in their most masculine tone of voice.  I often don’t get it – Rex is just a puppy.  I grew up in a household with pets (cats & dog), and when I was a pre-teen, we had various creatures in (guinea pigs) or outside (a rabbit) the house.  I know the attraction of household pets.  However, what is it that happens when you walk a puppy down the street causing others to go out of their way to get some ‘puppy time’? I just took Rex out for his last walk of the night. I planned to get him, do the deed, and get back in – you know, a clandestine manuever. Wouldn’t you know it, we were mobbed by dogs and people in the elevator. When we got outside, other dog owners, not content to just enjoy the companionship with their own dogs, began with the questions, “What a cute dog – What is he, a boy or a girl, What’s his name, Isn’t that darling,” etc., ad nauseam.  I guess you’d have to have an extraordinarily ugly or viciously mean dog to be able to take a walk and be left alone.  Don’t get me wrong, many times I get a real kick out of the attention, but, at other times, I just wanna be left alone.  Do I sound jealous of all the instant love and affection Rex gets?  You bet your dog biscuit I am.  Anyway, Rex is worth his weight in gold.  And if you have a dog, or even a cat, I’d bet you’d say the same about your pal.

Why EVERYONE should have a pet.

Take a minute to hug your dog – I’m sure he kisses you every chance he gets.

Having a pet is a always a winning proposition. Some people will say they don’t have time to care for a pet, or they can’t afford the vet bills. However, the reality is that being a pet owner can only improve your life. Caring for a pet requires you to step outside yourself and love another being. A pet’s love for you is unconditional and ever so powerful. No matter how badly your day has gone, upon returning home, your awaiting pet will shower you with genuine, wholehearted affection. As a result, you become happier, healthier, and generally a better person.

In case you’re questioning my logic, let’s look at the anecdotal evidence-health benefits. Pet owners improve their health by interacting with their pets. Lowered blood pressure is one outcome of interaction with domesticated animals. Whether you are walking through a petting zoo or holding a furry family member, it’s just pleasant, relaxing, and peaceful to interact with a friendly animal.

Oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone,” is being studied to determine it’s role in social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors (Wikipedia). Oxytocin is a neuromodulator, meaning it is a horomone which remains in the cerebrospinal fluid for an extended period of time, thereby exerting a longer influence on overall brain activity.

Recent studies have shown that after interaction with their pets, individuals have higher levels of Oxytocin in their bloodstream than if they have not had such an interaction with their pet. This research moves science toward finding measurable effects of human-animal interaction.

It is known that pet owners are in better physical health than those without pets. Further, pet owners are more likely to survive serious heart attacks than those without a pet in the home. Anecdotes on the benefits of companion animals are quite compelling, and the professional community is finally noticing. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Devrlopment, part of the National Institute of Health, is examining whether service animals can tangibly benefit children’s well-being.

My Grandmother is a living testament to the fact that loving animals extends your life – both the quantity (length) and quality. Despite daily arthritis pain in many of her joints, she spends a significant portion of every day caring for/interacting with her dogs (English Bulldogs).

Pets teach us invaluable life lessons, such as, how to be happy, how to treat others well, and how to enjoy every moment. Why would anyone not want to learn to live these lessons? So, don’t forget – hug that pet!