Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pet Parent Peeves

I’m a lazy person, I’m not even going to try to deny that. But, when I finally get off my butt, I can be pretty anal about things. I also have a lot of peeves. One of my major ones has to do with pets. Dogs in particular. If you are going to be a dog owner, please be a responsible dog owner.

Now I know that not everyone is a kid person, but I am. I have three of them. From the time that Jesse and I started dating, he (and later “we”) has had a dog. He had dogs before my time. I will say this about my husband. He is wonderful with training dogs to tolerate children. No one will ever have to worry about their kids being left alone with our animals.

Daisy loved Kids
I hate when people have dogs that aren’t trained for kids, but let them be alone together anyway. If your dog is nippy, tell me. If your dog is skittish around little ones, let me know. Don’t let me lead my children into a potentially dangerous situation. If your dog doesn’t do kids, either (a) keep my kids and your dog separate or (b) train your dog to be around children.

As far as training goes, every dog should know basic commands: Sit, Stay, Come, and Leave It, at the very least. Any dog owner that hasn’t taught their dog to at least sit, should have their pet parent card revoked. You can train a puppy to sit as early as 6-8 weeks old. It is one of the easiest commands to teach. Not doing so is pure laziness. If you don’t want to do it, bring the dog to me. I’ll do it for you.

In addition to commands, I feel that every dog should be taught manners, too. “Doggie manners?” you might be asking. Yes, there are such things as doggies manners. Barking at visitors and passers by? Not acceptable. An initial outburst is okay, but please don’t let your dog carry on for an hour. That’s just annoying. Someone in your neighborhood might be trying to sleep.

Not everyone likes to be jumped on, either. I don’t want to be mugged by your 100+lbs mastiff when I come to visit. He would probably knock me over. I do like doggie “hugs”, but only when I ask  for them. (Yes, my jump command is “hugs.”) And, some dogs have really sharp claws. My husband has scars from his step-mother’s dog. You can imagine how I feel about that--jumping and untrimmed claws? Tsk, tsk.

Murphy~early learner
Grooming. Feeding. Potty training. All things you’re told about when you first pick up your puppy/dog. Potty training is a sanitation issue. Really? Who lets their dog “go” in the house? I know that there are some smaller breeds that can be trained to use a litter box in the house. That’s awesome. I just haven’t met any of those dogs. I know dogs with parents who are either too lazy to take them outside, or their people didn’t follow completely through with housebreaking. (I’m a crate-training person myself.) How gross is it to go over to someone’s house and smell animal feces and urine? Yuck!

I like to think that a well-groomed dog is a happy dog. As much as she hated the actual bath, my Bella loved to have her fur blow dried and brushed out. She was also great at getting her claws clipped and letting me trim the fur between her toe pads. If you don’t trim the fur around their pads, it gets long and matted and can actually cause them lots of discomfort. Same as claws left to grow can curl and become painful (and dangerous). Most dogs only need to be brushed once a week, have their toes clipped every couple weeks, and have a bath once a month. If you can’t devote 30min to an hour for your dog each week, why do you have her?

How hard is it to feed a dog? You feed them twice a day (or leave them on full feed if you have a grazer, like Murphy) and make sure they always have fresh water. That’s all they ask for. They need food and water to survive, just like us. If you can’t be bothered to fill the food dish, please let someone who will have your dog. If you can’t afford to feed your dog, there are people out there who can. Be responsible. Know the limits of your laziness and finances. Don’t let an innocent dog suffer.

I am by no means an expert. My own dogs have their problems. But what separates me from others is that I make an effort with my animals. Everyday--not just when it’s convenient. Bella and Murphy are American Eskimos (Minis, to be exact); they are a very vocal breed. I have problems getting them to stop barking sometimes. Between the kids and the dogs (and Jesse), our house can get very loud. But, know this, no one will ever be able to break into our house. We have great alarm dogs.

My Bella, RIP
Daisy was my special child. She was a Pit Bull/Boxer mix that stole your heart as soon as you met her. She had quirks that she just couldn’t work passed. Dogs are instinctively led by their noses. You know how dogs “meet” by sniffing each other’s butts? Daisy did that with people--but to your crotch. If you visited our house, (BAM!) Daisy would stick her nose in between your legs, then before you knew what was going on, she would recognize your scent and move on.

The closest we got to a solution was making Daisy wait until people were seated before she could greet them. But then, she would lay her head in your lap and pretend that she was asking to be petted, and she’d still manage to sniff your crotch. She was special, but she wasn’t stupid!

The issue we never worked out was her separation anxiety. She could not stand it if she couldn’t see us. We’d lock her up during parties (so she didn’t accidentally lay on any kids), and she would whine like she was dying. When we left the house she would destroy things (or eat them). She ripped linoleum floors, and ate plants and a plastic bowl. We tried treats, busy toys, exercising her, and leaving her alone for graduated times to get her accustomed to being alone. Nothing worked. After she ate a potentially poisonous plant, I debated calling Cesar Milan.

But, again, we tried. We didn’t just leave Daisy to continually violate our visitors. We didn’t let her destroy our house without trying to figure out what was causing her so much distress. We tried. All I’m is asking is that you try, too. Otherwise, give your dog to someone that will. Like me.

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