Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dog Day Care Attendant; What Skills Are Required?

Day care workers need skills in recognizing which dogs can go with each other, what signals mean a confrontation is imminent. The attendant, who redirects play when signals are sent, is better than one skilled in the fastest correction. Both are better than the lovely lady, who loves dogs, but stands shocked when they become animals.

Entertaining dogs is another educational category. Have you ever watched half dozen eager labs wait for one ball to be thrown? The skilled day care attendant can throw the ball, throw the next ball, so all the dogs have a shot at a ball. Not every dog wants to play fetch; what’s in your bag of tricks for these dogs? My personal favorites are the smart dogs tired of the usual day care games; what do you have to offer these pooches so they don’t go home restless and bored.

Lack of knowledge runs deep with inexperienced day care attendants, this is a skill set that must be learned by every new employee, we hire. Owners of day cares have a huge investment in staff.

Observing the dogs is an art form honed over years, where do you begin with a newcomer? Sadly, I’ve had people tell me that they didn’t count the dogs until they moved them to the yard where they were going to play. It’s already too late!

The day care attendant who thinks the dog lying in the corner is a good dog has ever so much to learn.

Have you ever watched the day care attendant who runs behind the dogs correcting all forms of doggie behavior, such as butt sniffing? Understanding normal dog behavior, when to correct and when not must be part of the training.

Dogs forgive us for tons of mishandling, but good in service education is a must for our business. This is an industry that must develop a skill set for staff, so perhaps we should identify what the skills are.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Socializing Feral Dogs pt. 3

I don’t use food initially because a dog that becomes a food whore is more apt to lose it when stress/fear overcomes the desire for food. Getting accustomed to me without fear just feels like a stronger foundation. I bring food in 3rd phase because I want the food to diminish the reaction to crazy human moving.

By the time we get to phase III, the feral dog should be relatively calm in your presence and interested in what you’re doing with the friendly dog. Back pedaling should cause the feral to follow the friendly dog.

With Blondie, a semi-feral Puerto Rican street dog and Bonita, Blondie’s feral daughter, I would play the good morning game in which I bent at the waist telling Blondie, “Good morning”, while thumping her sides. She was my friendly facilitator with Bonita.

Blondie followed my back pedaling and cheery voice, Bonita followed her. They both liked the game with tails wagging. When Bonita noticed the game change, she went to her safe distance to think it over.

With the next morning came; no retreat, soon I thumped Bonita for the first time. She shot across the floor like she had been touched by a red hot poker. When she reached her safety zone, she turned and glared at me. Clearly, I had violated her trust. I will never forget the seething look into my eyes.

By violating the rules of our relationship, I established that she expected me to behave in a certain way. She didn’t fear me; she was mad at me. I always loved her spirit.

My qoal in phase II is not to touch the dog, but to get the feral comfortable with stupid human movement. Sooner or later something always happens so the hands fly up into the air or we slap our side in laughter.

Social dogs need to be child safe, so the human Bonita trusted most became a child. I threw my hands in the air, saying weeee. Startled, she retreated behind her mother. The dogs were about fifteen feet away when I did this. They both looked; I tossed them dog cookies. Soon my idiotic behavior meant treats are coming.

I chose to save the treats for this; instead of using them from the beginning. At this point, I started having friends come over to give treats to the dogs. None of my friends throw their hands in the air and act nutty like I do, so the dogs accepted them even taking treats from some hands.

Sometimes, I wonder if I should have used treats sooner. I didn’t because I thought of show dogs I’d seen turning down freeze dried liver. I mean; where do you go from there?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Socializing the Feral Dog Using A Facilitator Dog pt II

Did I tell you that in phase one; no treats?! In phase I, it’s best if you just spend a little time with the friendly dog, which gets really excited when you come into the room. Each time the dog is all about you.

Dogs know enough about each other for the feral to figure out that its buddy likes you. Most ferals will come out of the corner or comfort spot to re-gain buddy dog’s attention. Don’t panic if they do it doggy style. Obviously, you’re not using a friendly dog that is being dominated, etc.

Frequently, the first big signal we get of the feral building confidence is it trying to separate the friendly from us. It shows that they are longer so afraid that they won’t move while in your energy field.

Ferals will behavior will range from lip licking submissive to teeth snapping attempts to herd the friendly dog back with the feral. I don’t worry about the feral attacking my buddy dog. It takes just a move on our part to scare the feral back into hiding, so don’t move much. Call the buddy dog close to you, if you fear harm.

Comfortable that your feral isn’t a neurotic mess going to hurt your dog? Good. Your first real movement should be pedaling backwards away from the dogs while telling them how wonderful they are. Yes, you know the voice.

When you stop and the dogs stop, don’t move; at some point the feral will look in your eye. That sweet second when a frightened feral looks into your eyes, wow. Bonita looked like she thought she was going to be struck by lightning and then got all happy bouncing away. The blog posts about Bonita tell about our progress.

With continued practice, the feral dog will begin making eye contact with you. Somehow it’s as if by eye contact, you are less mysterious.

This is you 2nd plateau; enjoy the success of eye contact. After the first time it may not happen again for days. Don’t push it; wait for it. It’s cute when they try it again.

The trickier steps are coming; build the foundation. Once I learned the steps and began to celebrate; it seemed like Bonita did too.

In the 3rd phase we start to move more in preparation for focusing on the feral. We’re almost ready to apply some games and techniques. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Socializing the Feral or Semi-feral Dog Phase One

If the feral dog is safe with other dogs, introduce him to a socially skilled dog that is well bonded with you. Give them time to become buds. Once they bond, your k9 ally will pull the feral into your energy field.

This is a huge step; patience, please. Happy talk the friendly dog, pet and focus on the friendly dog only. There should be stillness, a quiet deliberateness in your movements. Be aware of your body postures, no stances where you are bent at the waist. Avoid facing the dog frontally, oblique is best. If the feral stands in front of you, fine, but he probably won’t.

Bonita, the feral I worked with the most, always came up behind me. When she built her confidence up, she began bumping me in the back of the calf with her nose.

Your facilitator dog will do wonders for teaching the feral that you are not a crazed monster about to attack at any moment. I don’t know where a feral dog would get that, but it will need convincing.

Taking this approach with a k9 facilitator, you’ll spend frequent, short times in the dog area; not the hanging around all afternoon, as you would without the dog.

After enough repetitions the feral knows that you are coming in the enclosure to pet and talk to the other dog. The feral lying comfortably in a corner is the end of the first phase.

Watch how the feral signals stress in the beginning. Absence of fear/stress signals demonstrate that a minimal level of trust has been created.

WARNING: At this phase, DO NOT be tempted to talk to the feral! DO NOT look at the feral trying to make eye contact. If eye contact occurs, make your eyes soft, then look back to whatever you were doing. Go back to talking to your facilitator dog, if appropriate.

Once you become predictable to ferals, they will relax. . Congratulations, and then begin phase two.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

More on Predatory Drift

My experience is that in many cases; the drifter has been trained with coercive techniques.

Okay, this isn’t exactly what I meant. What I meant to say aggression begets aggression. The dog that gets away with a behavior one time and then the next gets clocked in the head for the same behavior is more likely to be a drifter.

Dogs that don’t feel well or hypothyroid dogs may flair up. A dog with a sore back is notorious for being grouchy.

Often two dogs that aren’t getting along will take advantage of a stimulating moment to take a nip. The momentary snapping and spitting through teeth is a spat. That’s just two dogs getting their relationship worked out.

A spat is the k9 equivalent of having harsh words. It’s over in about twenty seconds or less. By the time you react to say no, stop or OMG; it’s over.

That may be what some are calling P.D. Is that what you see as predatory drift? Or does P.D. result in puncture or rip and tear?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Predatory Drift

On the subject of predatory drift; can we agree that dog drifting over the line has a hair trigger compared to the dog that can engage in stimulating or competitive play without losing it.

Some breeds come by a lower threshold of stimulation genetically. Hmm, pits come immediately to mind.

My experience is that in many cases; the drifter has been trained with coercive techniques.

The other important factor in my opinion is young dogs need to develop social skills beyond the litter box. A litter bully needs to learn consequences to uncontrolled behavior. If a puppy like this has no further contact with others from leaving the litter mates it beat up until adulthood that dog has not learned the social pressure of self control. Does that make sense?

In street dogs I’ve seen groups of males interlope another dog’s spot. I could see the rage in the face of the dog whose space was invaded. The boys swarm around and may jostle the home dog. Home dog wisely tolerates the intrusion. Watching these dogs has taught me how naïve our dogs are when it comes to social skills or dog language.

Canine social skills are impaired by isolation during maturation.

Finally, we introduce dogs one on one. Two dogs without the skills acquired in adolescence are better when they get to know each other without one of them having his buds to back him up. A month later the new dog is friends with these dogs. The first dog jostles new dog, who can now respond without the dogs backing up the other dog, so now you get the one on one. It’s fast and it can be ugly.

Predatory drift is not a mystery. I believe it follows these threads. What do you think?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dog Training, A Look Back continued

Water parks with trained dolphins and whales amazing us with flips and tricks became popular. By the late eighties a new model of training hit the dog world.

The ever brilliant Karen Pryor changed the face of dog training and psychology with her ground breaking book, Don’t Shoot The Dog.

In her early workshops, Karen would talk about pondering the problem of training a whale as she sat poolside. What to do; you can’t put a leash or choke chain on a killer whale, always got a big laugh from the audience. Karen showed her video of a goldfish she trained to swim through a hoop. It was jaw dropping. Was there nothing this woman could not train?

Seminars and workshops for dog trainers were at best sporadic; until veterinarian, Ian Dunbar put us on the fast track by organizing the APDT, Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Networking and sharing info became common place in an industry dominated by lone wolves.

Terry Ryan taught us how to make dog training fun with games.

Through organizations like the APDT the science of behavior and training became available to masses of trainers more quickly. A standardized test for certifying trainers began in 2001.

A plethora of scientific trainers can quote quadrants and name behavior maladies.

This century has delivered to our doors the very best dog trainers ever. I say that earnestly. These guys are spectacular in their knowledge.

With all the wonderful trainers and scientific approach to dog training, why do we have more problem dogs than ever? On PBS we see shows with dogs snapping and snarling, out of control.

There is more legislation against dogs because we’re having problems with them. I don’t think that’s the answer, but I want to acknowledge the problem. What do you think?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dog Training, A Look Back

Each generation stands on the shoulders of the last. I remember thinking about that statement with gratitude as a young woman. Then my thoughts were about quality of life issues for women.

Now, I reflect on changes in dog training over the decades. We’ve come from a harsher way of being in general to a respect that includes other beings.

After World War II men who handled war dogs came home and opened up dog training schools. Training of war dogs required the dog to be more “respectful” of the handler than afraid of bombs bursting. That, of course, is the mindset these guys brought home with them. Sadly, “If you want the dog to respect you, just roll up a newspaper” can still be heard.

By the fifties our dog training heroes became the fellows training dogs for the movies. Old Yeller, Big Red, The Shaggy Dog were movies that made us laugh and cry. “How did they do that?” was answered in books by Bill Koehler.

As families made their way to cities, so parents could find work, we lost our connection to nature. A dog in the backyard was the only animal most kids had to relate to any species other than our own.

Lassie, Rin-tin-tin and Bullet were regulars on tv. Dogs were thoroughly romanticized by Disney in Lady and the Tramp. The natural ability of our species to connect to others was being lost, while it was being idealized.

Jim Pearsall was the gentler trainer of the sixties and seventies. He wrote about technique from a perspective of a relationship with the dog. When it came to dog trainers, Koehler was king.

In the eighties along came a lady with a funny voice and a British accent. Barbara Woodhouse hit the talk show circuit with her, ”Walkies” and “What a good dog.” America fell in love with her and positive reinforcement.

Tell a dog it did right; what a concept. As people started telling the dog it was good, kids started complaining that they never heard praise from their parents. It was a revolution.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Social Animals?

Does it matter if a dog is socially dysfunctional with other dogs? Back in the day before we kept our dogs securely locked in their own yards, neighborhood dogs visited with each other. Dogs were proficient in their own language.

Fire hydrants were and still are places where dogs left scent marks to signal other dogs. Today when they meet on leash there is frequently frantic barking.

I am not suggesting we return to the days of free roaming neighborhood pets, but I’m trying to explore what we’ve lost; what the dogs have lost.

After watching the exquisite ways the Puerto Rican island dogs communicate with each other, I watched a couple of dogs introduced in one of our yards here at Carrvilla.

A sweet cocker spaniel and a lab beagle cross were put in a yard to socialize. It was considered a success because there was no barking or growling, no hackles were raised. Both are adult dogs. One is two years old and the other is four.

Both dogs focused on the human in the yard. Tails wagged; they were happy to be out with her. Because their behavior was appropriate by our human standards these dogs will be allowed to go out with an attendant to play in the field.

Two dogs without a clue of what to do with each other, they walked around the yard without interaction. Sooner or later they will figure it out; they may even like each other.

Beings who can’t relate to their own kind bother me. I won’t hire anyone who tells me, “I love dogs; it’s humans I can’t stand.” It seems to me that comfort with your own should be the framework from which you see the world.

Does this bother you or am I over thinking this?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tail Talk Discussion

Melissa said...

Tails and dogs are a never ending fascination for me. They can say so many different things. With my boy I can tell so much about what he is thinking by the position and then the movement that goes with it. His tail is most often held above body level. A high stiff tail if usually accompanied by stiff legs and a little bit of an attitude. A high tail wagging quick and short means, "Hey girlie, I like you..." His tail has a different position when interacting with me, it is relaxed lowered and seems to wiggle with his whole butt attached. He also does this lowered relaxed wiggle butt when he sees his "girls" after being gone.

My girls also have a lot to say with their tails. I live with 5 bitches and their tail carriage differs depending on who they are interacting with. My youngest rarely carries her tail at back level or higher at home. When we have company her age or younger she all of the sudden has this beautiful straight off the back tail (I would love to see this confident tail in the show ring with her...) When introduced to some younger puppies a few weeks ago I saw her tail higher than ever. My older girls also vary tail carriage depending on who they are interacting with, very interesting, it an change in a moment. It definitely seems to be a peace keeper. The strange this is, is the bitch in charge has a very low tail and rarely raises it very high. Is this confidence? I don't know. She never has the tail up look that Blonde does so well...

Melissa, thanks for the observations. Dogs talk with their whole bodies. Understanding tail talk is part of the communication picture.  
Stormy with the politically unchallenging tail is the leader of the gang here. Some dogs lead with brute force. The smarter dogs lead with finesse. I think these savvy pooches know how to keep their egos out of it.

Blondie is a lovable brute. She doesn’t think as much as she reacts to things. She holds the curl in her tail. How high she carries it tells how she is feeling. She has never had a physical challenge so she doesn’t need to be a shrewd girl.

Owl’s tail is the most variable. It’s low around the other two guys. If he forgets to lower the mast, the boys react to it. He promptly lowers it.

When Owl gets excited usually about hunting, he gets the high straight tail carriage. A strut always seems accompany the tail.

Owl has to be smart to not get his butt kicked. He sits back in the corner watching the other dogs. I suspect later he will be one of these smart dogs, who does not display his status, much like Stormy.

Bluto is a lovable dope. Stormy and Blondie can bully him. His life has been limited to his yard. Some males do that curved tail look. Does a dog lacking self confidence disguise himself ? Or do the curved male tails go with small testicles?

If tails are the indicator of status, how absolutely brilliant of the smaller leader to not advertise or to give the brute something to challenge!

Is this the level of evolution that gave birth to deceit or duplicity? Ha-ha, makes you wonder.

In groups of dogs the language of the tails is the peace keeper. Our pet puppies don’t have opportunity to learn this language. Can you imagine how devastating early isolation would be to our communication skills?

So keep swinging yer tail, Tricia

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cute Dog Story

Have you ever had a dog run to you a little too fast? Apply the brakes only to skid past; gripping toe nails toss turf into the air as they slide beyond the mark. We’ve all been there; right?

Picture my front yard, thirty to forty feet of grass plateau with sudden sixty foot drop off. We call it the infinity yard.

Our newcomer, Bluto sounds pretty bad ass about protecting his home. Bluto hates loud rap music; he gets spitting through his teeth, I will rip the tar out of you worked up. Barking may last a full minute after the sound is well down the road.

Boom, boom, boom; everybody alerts to it. Boom, boom down the hill road causes a collective aw, shit. Bluto growls; for a moment he’s in a freeze frame ears forward, ready to spring. Boom, boom; the sound heralds the way for the broken down piece of thundering towards us.

With as close to a doggy, oh, hell no, as I’ve ever seen, Bluto jumps up, springs forward like he’s going to lead the charge of the light brigade down our driveway.

Remember he’s a home boy; he doesn’t usually go beyond halfway down the drive. Boom, boom, boom; it’s getting closer.

Bluto charges back up the drive, runs around the veranda to the side facing the road.

BOOM, BOOM getting really loud, dog doesn’t stop growling and running; he runs past where we are sitting like a shot. He races back to see the culprit coming. This is one hot hound dog!

The other dogs stand poised for action, watching Bluto.

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM; he flies off the porch and more than halfway or twenty feet across the infinity yard. So about this point hauling ass pissed off boy changes the forward body posture to brakes; where ARE my brakes!

You could smell the pads burning, as paws hit the earth in three big grasping attempts to call the whole thing to a halt. The skid marks end at the edge, where the angry dog barked his message for but a moment or two.

He managed a ceremonious strut to the nearest bush to relieve himself.

The adrenaline rush over Bluto settled next us for a long nap.

Did he dream of sailing through the air or landing on the car’s windshield? Perhaps, he wondered if we noticed.

Happy wiggle butts, Tricia

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What Does Tail Carriage Say?

The tale of three tails tells so much about who they are.

Blondie carries her tail in typical bitch fashion for a Puerto Rican street dog. The curl in the tail is most common to the females. She shows off her female parts confidently.

Owl (white dog dark head) has the most variable tail. It goes from typical poker straight male tail to look at this broken tail, can you see how it just hangs! He’s young and smart; confidence is coming. In the aroused state he carries it high. He knows when to lower it. For a taller dog to get Stormy to accept his presence, it’s an uphill battle. Owl manages to get along with both males few incidents.

Bluto grew up in his yard. He doesn’t have confidence. His tail curve got bitchier when his people moved. He is naïve, doesn’t know how to play with the other dogs. He rough houses with Blondie a bit. If she’s playing with Owl, he stands next to them barking; he’s doing that in the picture above.

He has small testicles held tight to the body. Maybe, one of you vets can tell me about testicular tissue mass contributing to gender characteristics; i.e. the bitch like tail carriage.

Stormy still bullies him. Blondie beat the snot out of him yesterday. She turned away from her dish; he got in it. She turned her head, saw him and it was on! He bit her hard; oh, was that wrong. All he did was cry after that mistake.

Once Bluto realizes his strength, if he overcomes his fears, things will change. It seems to me that as Bluto gains experience in the street, his confidence increases. When Blondie and Stormy are off, he gets cocky protecting the veranda. Just this morning during a protection event; he straightened the tail by a full fifty per cent, most impressive macho. He had a sheltered life, waah, he is a poor baby. At least that’s what I think so far. The more I watch, the more seems to come together.

Stormy has the most interesting tail of all, the broken rat tail. Not to be graphic, but it hangs like a limp dick. It tells the other males that he has no power at all.

Groups of males hang out; cocky boys have their tails raised like banners of social status.

The young Stormy’s tail was carried straight out, an extension of his spine; not straight up. The tail was lowered in two events in this dog’s life. Both were dog fights.

The first fight he came home with wounds on head, ears, neck and bad back leg. He hardly picked up his head as I cleaned him up. When he healed up, his tail carriage was low.

Stormy loves for me to work on his back. I’ve worked on hundreds of dog tails back in Illinois, so I am surprised when he doesn’t want me to do the work that will change his tail back. Conscious choice to keep his tail low??

The second incident was an event some dogs ganged up on him. It was breeding season; he lost his head. He lay under a car for days without moving according to a neighbor. We saw him about a month later; he looked like he tangled with a lawn mower. That was two years ago. His tail has dangled ever since.

Oddly, if Stormy is very happy; he can wag his tail.

The genius of Stormy’s low tail is that the cocky boys don’t alert to him to see him as a challenge. They put up with crap from him that they wouldn’t from a male with an erect tail.

When Stormy stays in the dog’s peripheral vision without the tail mark, he can bark his butt off. The other dog gets annoyed, but doesn’t react. Stormy is able to take advantage of this sweet spot for him because his tail doesn’t give him away.  

So with this tail raising and lowering going on that keeps the peace; what does that tell us about dog socialization, dog language and dog park??

Don’t be shy; tell me what you think. Mean while wag yer tail. Tricia

Friday, April 22, 2011

Survival, Difference between Discard Dog & Sato/Street Dog

It’s Good Friday and I’m rip roaring upset; not about Good Friday, it’s always good to remember that we are loved.

My ham is in the oven because of the discarded dogs showing up in this community. These dogs will not survive in nature.

The little lap dogs, any of the toy group would be doomed without a soft heart. If you think bigger is better you’d be wrong. A seventy-five pound dog is a lot of animal when dining on leftovers, basura/garbage or predation.

That lovely lab bitch will lose her body fat; she’s too large to survive. Even if she learns to hunt, she won’t make it without a human resource. Being an unsprayed female; that’s not terribly likely. Her picture is damned bleak. She needs to be rescued.

Personally I am a fan of the Puerto Rican island dogs, the satos. A sato is a street dog that can live of the land/street. The dog must be smart enough to not get hit in the street; that’s a biggie.

A sato knows how to get along with the other dogs. It’s a competition for resources. There are times when it’s beneficial to pack up. A rat hunt is one of those times. This is survival school for new satos. Owl loves the hunt. It makes his tail go straight.

A sato is a small medium to large medium dog on average. Toby the Airedale  an old timer on the street barely keeps that big frame goiing. 

A controlled number of street dogs actually benefit an area. They control the rodent population. Young men sometimes walk the roads at night. All dogs bark at them, but you can hear the satos escort them to the end of their home turf.

I’ve lived in the country long enough to know the value of predators. Coyotes and fox are fine, but Puerto Rico has satos and gatos. This is good for the island, discarded or throw away dogs are not. They aren’t going to make it.

The sad thing is that the shallow ass self centered thing throwing them out the window doesn’t care. Ok, I’d better quit here; God bless.

And Happy Easter, Tricia

Is this the Picture of a Street Dog?

Don’t you think she’s lovely to be roaming the roads on Caribbean island? I saw the sweet look in her eyes; grabbed my camera, got this shot and she was gone.

Guessing that she was slinking away, afraid of us or something else with the low head and tail carriage, could be. Does this make sense or do you see something different?

It would seem that at least one leg is hurting; right?

Question: Is it the right rear or the left front? Or heaven forbid; could it be both?

By what looks like a layer of subcutaneous fat, she can’t have been on the road too long.

There are breeders of Labradors on the island. Pictures I’ve seen show me a nice quality of stock. Perhaps there is a lab rescue here. Let me find out; I’ll get back to you.

In the mean time let’s play which is the hurt leg!

By the way Chi-ping is doing well. She’ll get back with you later.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pure Bred Labrador in The Street

Hey, dog show people, students of movement; tell me what is wrong with this picture.

This lovely pure bred bitch was outside the Boy Scout Camp on the other side of Lake Guajataca. After this shot she was gone.

Interested in what you have to tell me about her based on this picture. It’s the only one I have of her.

Thanks, Tricia ` 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Animal Rights and Rights for Mother Earth

I come from the world of pure bred dogs, where the worthiness of an animal to breed is adjudicated in the show ring.

Workshops, seminars were a way of life for breeding better dogs. The sense of satisfaction standing in the winner’s spot with a fine healthy animal you bred is phenomenal. I was proud of what I did; I still am.

Animal rights people, animal activists scared us. Stories of activists letting dogs out of their crates were abound. Animal owners have lost the right to make decisions for their pets.

Did you know that in Illinois I can take my child to a faith healer, but I can’t take my dog to an animal chiropractor without the written permission of the veterinarian?

As my rights as an animal owner have been eroded, it was hard to listen to people talk animal rights. From the framework of my overly conscientious mind, I saw the interest of my animals being best served by my rights. I guess to me they were one and the same. Myopia is a metaphor for many things.

The journey I am taking is farther than Illinois to Puerto Rico. It’s like those books I’ve read on spirituality have a new meaning.

Why?? In a large part because of a facebook friend, Cindy Badano; thank you, Cindy, your post: Bolivia Grants Right to Mother Earth opened my eyes. What a concept! Even the U.N. hasn’t gone there.

This fascinating story reminded me that Gary Zukav wrote about granting rights to the earth as a living organism in his book the Seat of the Soul. I saluted the idea when I read it.

The realty that a nation granted rights to the earth; not as a symbolic gesture, but actual rights. How can I think that is so cool and not re-think the issue of animal rights?

I’m new at this, so let me see…… If I breed a litter of puppies, I don’t feed them and care for them because I’m a good person caring for what is mine. I take care of them because as my creations it is their right to be cared for.

I guess I always thought that was a given and perhaps it isn’t.

I like the right to life. It’s a life; we can’t throw them away or “put them to sleep”.

Killing for convenience stabs us in the gut. It’s like losing part of your soul.

Tell me what you think about this; it’s a virgin forest for me. I’m still waiting for an equal rights amendment for women.

Discarded Puppies at Beach in Isabela, Puerto Rico

Not a Pitbull, I am house elf; Doby is my dad.

May I say, I am sad                                                                                            
 that you don't see the resemblance!                                                                              
Princess Leia here thinks my father was Yoda.                                                                   

She just starts rubbing on me talking about one with the force;                                                                                
 I'm not sure what she means, but why try to fight  it.                                                                                         

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Puerto Rican Satos Share Space

Three intact free ranging males and one spayed female sharing the same space can be interesting.

Stormy the resident male for almost six years wants no other male here; on that this dog is perfectly clear.

The injured Owl had no intention of leaving no matter how many beatings he had to endure from Stormy. Blondie began to like Owl, but would join in Stormy’s attacks. Every neighbor yelled, “Hey!” when Stormy attacked him, so he backed off. It wasn’t any more difficult than that to my surprise. Every once in a while Stormy can’t resist taking food from Owl; otherwise they get along.

Since Bluto moved up here, Stormy has focused on Bluto removal. Stormy’s tactics are genius. He constantly nags staying just out of reach. Any nippy games Bluto may want to play with Blondie or Owl end up with Bluto getting his butt chewed by Storm. He just makes his adversary’s life hell until they leave. Bluto just doesn’t want to be alone; we stop Stormy.

Stormy’s determination undermines the other dog’s confidence, once that stopped Bluto moved to bully Stormy. A couple of lacerations later, they both understand there is no fighting on my porch. These two got into it good; it was a blood all over brawl. Owl sat in the corner and watched. Blondie took Storm’s side. He still ended up with a badly bleeding ear. No wonder why he’s starting to look like Mickey Bourke.

Stormy, Blondie and Bluto can be raising hell, barking and spitting through teeth. Owl will wind his way through the mess, sticking his tongue out about an inch as he goes past each one. They completely ignore him. He must know the password.
 Owl gets himself into trouble when he forgets to lower his tail. He riled up, runs down the drive with his tail straight in the air. When it’s all over and his tail is still straight the other boys will remind him to lower his mast or else. Being submissive immediately gets him out of it, so far.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spay Day for Chi-ping

Have you ever been spayed? I don’t care what they said; it is a big deal.

Early this morning Tricia, the lady up the hill came talking to me all nice. I don’t know her very well, when she tried to pick me up I growled.

I snapped my teeth at her. She didn’t have a good hold, so I leaped out of her arms. As fast as I could I raced up the road to the farmer’s house. She sat outside the fence talking sweet nothings. I was having none of it, so she left.

I stayed hidden until I heard my friend, Geri; call Chi-ping, Chi-pin. Oh, my friend I wanted to tell him all about Tricia trying to take me. We went up the side of the hill. He stopped to pet me. He told me how pretty I am; I love to hear that I’m pretty. He’s my new best friend. Did my human know he would be good to me?

I didn’t want to leave the spot where my human left me, but Geri put me in a car to go for a ride. I was on Kirt’s lap the whole time; he’s Tricia’s husband. He pets really good. He holds me close and whispers in my ear. I felt so special; I started panting hard. He said I was hot. I like him too.

Tricia took me into the PetVet in Isabela, then everything went dark. I drank some of my human’s rum once, I kinda felt like that only I have to go to sleep now.

Tricia put me down on the grass to let those satos sniff me. I didn’t like it one bit. I was going to walk off with my tail high saying, “Sniff this you satos,” but I fell on my face.

Blondie sniffed me for the longest time. She said this had happened to her also. I tell her, “Who cares; I feel worse than I did when I got hit by a big car.” Blondie gets all attitude with stiff tail standing over me.

Tricia tells her to go, but she comes back when Tricia picks me up. Blondie wants all the attention with Tricia, so she tries to bite me. I’m so stoned: I laugh in her face, “Tricia’s holding me, Tricia’s holding me, nah-nah!” Oh, Blondie’s pissed; I need a nap.

Before Blondie got all snarly she told me being spayed isn’t as bad as being hit by a truck and she knows.

I’m in a house on a pad; not bad.           Chi-ping

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Got a New Name

Oh, what a day I’ve had running around with my new best friend. My tail held high as I pranced up the hill before him. We dug roots. He sat on a log and pet me. It feels so good to be pet; I almost forgot how good.

I got to go in the yard. He held the gate for me. I love going in the gate. The mami who lives there has cats. I ran in and chased them. Get those cats moving!

Later my friend and I worked on a construction site across the road. When we were on a roof, I barked at the satos up the hill. “See, I am a working dog; I’m not a sato.” Blondie said I was one of them.

My friend talks to me and smiles. I like talking and smiling. My tail just wags. My front feet step in place. I can’t be a street dog. I’m happy again, still I miss my human.

Today when it started raining, my friend left the gate open for me. It was great; I chased the cat off the pad. I was dry and on a pad, woo-hoo.

The mamis told the lady up the hill that my name is “Chi-ping”. That’s a good name. “Chi-pin” that makes my mouth hang open happy. Oh, there goes my tail. It’s good when everybody knows your name. :)


Puerto Rican Island Dogs Have Many Stories, but One Truth

Blondie gets antibiotics twice a day for her bladder infection. Makes me wonder what would have happened to her if she had not been living on the door step of a former nurse.

Note to self: Create Puerto Rican utopian society in which all street dogs have veterinary care.

Blondie and Owl went for a walk with me shortly after the first light of day. Actually I tried to sneak out while they were eating their kibble. A dog on either side escorted me before I got to the end of my driveway.

On a walk up the steep, very steep road; Blondie killed a rat. She walked away from it. Blondie returned to the rat salivating like Pavlov’s dogs. I mean droolies that would make Hooch an amateur drooler.

A voyeur, as I watched her tear into the flesh. Finally, I was witness to the act of dining tartar a la sata. A brief kinship with our cave dwelling ancestors turned ninety degrees to what if the rat has been poisoned. I screeched, “Leave it.” OMG, I would have never made it as a pioneer woman.

My poor darling Blondie trotted up to me with her head down. My guilt rose as her low tail wags told me how contrite she was. The head line in my head read, “Human screws up street dog psyche; she’ll never rat again.” I praised her for coming to me and headed for home.

A couple of hours later, a man who is going to build a little higher up the hill came walking up our driveway. He was followed by two other men; they wanted to cut through our land.

Blondie decided one of them was an asshole (not very scientific:), but you know what I mean). She barked, growled and began to nip at his pant leg. She was working herself up to bite him! I had never seen her do that before; she has always been good with our company.

My experience with dogs that basically like people is that when the dog really doesn’t like somebody; they have always ended up being right. That doesn’t make any difference, when there’s a street dog in your yard about to bite an engineer from San Juan.

I corrected her verbally, but firmly; she cowered like I beat her. I wanted to cry. Head down, tail tucked she plodded to the far corner of the veranda, where she pouted. As I consoled her, the headline in my head read:”Mean woman, abuses trust.”

The neighbors like Blondie to be here because she will chase any man walking down the road at night. There’s always some asshole, who will steal your stuff, if they can.

Whether the neighbors know it or not; they’ve reinforced her for shagging guys down the street. Dogs know what it means, when our heads go up and down, while we are smiling.

What she couldn’t figure out is why I stopped her. She seemed so shocked and hurt.

Resorting to the cheap tricks of a dog trainer, I produced dog treats. The boys had a treat party. Blondie just laid there with her head on her paw.

I tell the dogs what I like all the time. Training is pretty much limited to: no fighting on the porch; no, you are not going to take his food or no boys pissing on my porch. I try not to interfere with their lives.

The quality of life for a Puerto Rican sato or street dog varies greatly. Ive learned a few things watching over the years.

One is that Puerto Ricans are good people, who will share what they can with the creatures of the pais. It is not their fault that obtaining a puppy is so easy that adults are thrown in the trash.

The people will be kind to the animals until there are too many.

Before things become toxic with too many animals spreading disease, we need a two year moratorium on back yard breeders.

We need to support our professional dog breeders, who breed to improve their line and to have new dogs to show. I would gratefully ask them to limit the number of litters per breed to two for the next two years.

Good animal control must have an island wide spay program.

These are incredible creatures, which share the island with us. A forward thinking people, who can enforce ley 154 can find a way to honor our friends, the satos.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another Day on The Street

Birds chirping announced the light. MY fine black Casanova trotted up the road without a sniff good-bye. I could go with him, but I was left here. Besides, the ladies here feed me. What if there is no food where he’s going? He thinks it will be better up the road, but I know he was afraid of the three big boys on the hill.

The two neighbor ladies open their houses when the sun lights the valley. They talk to me. My tail wags so hard; I like talking and food. I like talking and food. Oh, that was so good.

It’s a beautiful day in Puerto Rico; last night’s rain made everything so fresh and clean. That means it’s time to scent mark, so everybody knows I’m here.

My human must miss my cuddles. These ladies like me, but they don’t cuddle. I love laps and cuddles, but the grass is soft. The sun is warm. The mami in the one house has a clean bowl of water out for me. It’s time for a siesta.

Dreaming of my life on a lap before awakening on the street; I stepped into the road for a shake and a stretch. That’s all I remember before a big SUV hit me. “Yipe! Yipe! Yipe!,” I screamed.

The two mamis came running out of their houses. The lady up the hill appeared, watching as I shook it off. She gently held my chin, while her hand slid across my body. She said that I was lucky. Blondie and the boys came down the hill to give me a sniff; I’m okay. The ladies smiled at my prancing and tail wagging.

Now, I know why these street dogs hate cars. The lady up the hill said I was lucky; that must mean my human will be back soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Oh, How I Want To Go Home

Can't you see, I'm a house dog!
 It’s been two weeks since I saw my human. I’ve trimmed down, looking good. I’m right in the road where you left me.

The lady here feeds me a few table scraps. I run from house to house hoping to come in, please let me out of the rain. With a tight squeeze under the door, I can rest in a garage.

Why am I outside the yard?

I don’t bother with the satos; I’ve heard about street dogs. I don’t want to catch anything. Mostly they stay by the house on the hill.

During the day I go walking with a man who digs up roots. He talks to me; sometimes he pets me for a second or two. Oh, how I miss cuddles.

Just after the thunder storm, a car past me; it looked like yours. So excited, I ran as fast as my little legs would go up, up; the car slowed.

To my surprise a handsome black guy only a couple of inches bigger than me came out. We sniffed; he looked scared. I told him not to worry, my human would come back to get us. Until then, the kind folks share what they can. Be brave like me.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Night Moves

Tonight is alive with the racket of the hunt. Frenetic barking gives way to yips and howls. Except for the barking, it could have been coyotes in Illinois.

Listening to the night sounds slowly reveals the picture. At first I thought all frenzied barking was about a dog fight. Some sounds didn’t quite fit a fight. It wasn’t until I realized that mornings when the dogs came back full of burrs were the same they didn’t care so much for their kibble. Tummies checked full. You do the math.

The nights, when some poor dog looking for a spot, gets his butt kicked all down the road sound different than hunting nights.

Hungry satos hunt to survive. It’s probably some of the best protein they get. Stormy and Blondie hunt regularly; they aren’t in the hunting party I hear tonight. Well fed satos hunt for sport.

Owl has learned from Blondie. He’s at that age where he gets so excited to hunt. They will kill any rat that comes in my yard. Those mangled carcasses left in the doorway by an admiring sato.

The experienced street dogs teach the new kidz the tricks of the trade. Bluto, the three year old home boy may not know how to hunt. It will be interesting to see if an older dog learns.

Speaking of Bluto; the family member has come two nights in a row to feed him. I’d say something about renewed faith, but I’d be full of it, so good night. Tricia

Blondie's A Sick Street Dog

Blondie was a little out of sorts last night. Owl, the gentle scared to death of Blondie young boy, hurt her in play. After a fierce growl, she walked away. She had a head tilt, so I adjusted her neck. She held still while I worked down her back. There wasn’t the usual happy bouncing afterward, so I cleaned her ears. For a street dog, the ears weren’t bad.

This morning my gang buster girl was just flat. She held her head down in that way people usually associate with a guilty dog look. During our good morning ritual she could only manage a weak low tail wag. Blondie loves good mornings, now I’m worried.

Her back looked fine, so I cleaned her ears again, only deeper. Her tonsils could be a little swollen, this bitch looks sick.

She’s urinated three times this morning, a lot of bottom licking. The boys have been sniffing her rear and covering her urine, so I am going to go with bladder infection.

I can’t afford to get that other little bitch spayed. Money is so tight, I had to think how much.. Oh hell, she can’t wait til Monday. I have emergency antibiotics for a reoccurring infection. With a prayer Blondie got a dose.

A few hours later the big girl picked her head up and wagged her tail. We all know how it feels when you’re so sick and the antibiotics kick in, so you recognize the look.

To add to the excitement Stormy has a small cough tonight. I hope it’s from all the barking he’s been doing at Bluto.

Tomorrow is annual meeting for the Puerto Rican Animal Control Officers Asn or FOICCA. It’s in Florida, not the state; we’ve not been to this part of the island. So merrily we roll along.

We must get back to the three little snorts that say come hither. I overdid it yesterday. After a while they just look at me like you really don’t know what you’re doing; do you? If it’s in the wrong context, it gets ignored. When I manage to hit it right; it’s like getting my Spanish right, good communication. 

Happy wiggle butts, Tricia

Friday, April 8, 2011

Que Pasa?

I’m fat and spoiled. I didn’t think I was useless. My human loved me.

I ate so much, my tummy hurt. My human cuddled me so much. What will my human do without my cuddles?

I bark alert, warning is my job. My human gave me this green leather collar; it’s good leather too. How will my human know when danger approaches?

I love to be with my human. My human took me for a car ride. What will my human do without me?

Yes, folks, this beautiful little creature was dropped off just two doors down. My elderly neighbor would like to keep her; can’t afford to have her spayed. Here’s where I need to find out more about the spay certificates from the government. Like I need one more thing to do, well perhaps I do.

My neighbors are caring people, who do what they can for the satos.

In general people don’t seem to feel responsible for the dogs’ welfare. I suppose that’s the way we feel about fox and coyote in Illinois.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Still Learning To Speak Dog

Those of you who are interested in dog language are going to love this.

Have you heard that little snorting some dogs do when we pet them? That dog is welcoming you close.

Not all dogs do this with us. Enough make this three “syllable” sonorous sound, that I eventually tried it back.

When I get it right, all the street dogs I’ve tried on have responded. Some have raised the head to give a quizzical look before getting closer. Others just zoomed in as close as they can get.

It’s like having a new toy.

It’s three little snorts on the exhalation. Get your body relaxed before trying this. It’s a friendly sound; don’t get uptight about doing it right. You know who you are. When I shake my head side to side (small movement) while making the sound some dogs get so excited.

The next step is to try it on satos I don’t know. We’ll have to go for a ride later; there is a colony of satos by punte blanco. They are well fed and a little aloof except the man who feeds them. This will be the acid test. After all it could be dogs who know me just reacting to me being silly. I don’t think so, but I’ll honor the possibility.

If you try this, please give me some feedback. Or if somebodyelse has already come up with this and I just didn't know. In which case, sorry it's new to me.
Happy wiggle butts, Tricia