Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Chained Dog’s Plea

I wish someone would tell me
What it is that I’ve done wrong.
Why do I have to stay chained up
And left alone so long?
They seemed so glad to have me
When I came here as a pup.
There were so many things we’d do
While I was growing up.
But now the Master “hasn’t time”
The Mistress says I shed.
She doesn’t want me in the house,
Not even to be fed.
The Children never walk me.
They always say, “Not now.”
I wish that I could please them.
Won’t someone tell me how?
All I had, you see, was love.
I wish they would explain
Why they said they wanted mine,
And then left it on a chain.

By Edith Lassen Johnson


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Recipe for the "almost perfect" dog

It is reassuring to know that the ingredients for an "almost perfect" dog are available to any responsible dog owner. You can enjoy the wonderful benefits of an "almost perfect" dog. The ingredients are:

One clean bill of health. You can help ensure this vital ingredient with current vaccinations and regular veterinary check ups. 

One proper I.D. Make sure your dog has a license and/or I.D. (dog tags, tattoo, canine microchip).

One well-nourished, well-exercised dog. Feed your dog as recommended by your veterinarian or professional trainer. Exercise your dog as often as possible.

One safe, secure, comfortable environment free from abuse and neglect.

A full measure of time. Time spent with your dog should include training flavored with reward, positive reinforcement, petting, grooming and exercise such as walking, playing, fetching, and just being with you and your family.

Missing ingredients result in behavior problems. Over 60% of dogs in shelters are there as a result of behavior problems or lack of identification.


(from the Kong website)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Who IS this person??!!

I was looking through some old photo albums a few weeks ago and ran across this photo of me. I guess I was about 10 years old, and as usual, I was with the family dog.

Suzie was a purebred fawn boxer who found her way to us via a truck driver friend of my dad's. He "found" her in Tenessee (note the cropped ears which was not legal in New York even in the 1960's). He brought her back to Akron (NY, near Buffalo), and somehow she ended up with us. In the photo I was teaching her to sit.

All these years later, and I'm STILL teaching dogs to sit!! I can't think of a better use of my time!!

PS - Did you catch those cool shorts? Rolled up denim shorts, we called them "hogwashers". Oh yeah, life in the country!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tears on earth, stars in heaven

The last few weeks have been tough, especially for friends who have said goodbye to the dogs they loved and watched them depart for Rainbow Bridge.

Maria's two, Mari and Dale's Buddy, and yesterday, one of my students, a puppy named Shadow.

Shadow was a 6 month old rottie pup who suddenly showed signs of neurological disorders and an enlarged heart. He had been to class last Friday. Very smart, loved coming to class, and his mom and dad worked with him a lot to help him learn. They adored him. He was beautiful and loving.

Yesterday they came early to class to talk with me. When I asked where Shadow was they simply said, "He's gone," and broke down as they told me how quickly he deteriorated. They had hoped he would be well enough to come to class, at least to get a photo of him wearing a graduation hat. But early Friday morning he was in such bad shape that they decided he was suffering and that it was time to say goodbye.

They brought me two of his toys to put in the classroom toybox to share with the other dogs. Today I watched as the first dog in class found one of them and picked it up to play with and show his dad. Ironically, it was a black lab named Shadow.

It's so tragic that a beautiful puppy like Shadow had to leave us so soon. I only knew him for a few weeks, but he left his pawprints on my heart.

I trust that my Noir has welcomed him to Rainbow Bridge and is running and playing with him until the day in the distand future when his mom and dad come to walk him over the bridge.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Pet's Ten Commandments

1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me

3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.

4. Don't be angry with me for long and don't lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.

5. Talk to me. Even if I don't understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.

9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will grow old.

10 On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can't bear to watch. Don't make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.

~Take a moment today to thank God for your pets. Enjoy and take good care of them.

Life would be a much duller, less joyful experience without God's critters.

~Now please pass this on to other pet owners. We do not have to wait for Heaven, to be surrounded by hope, love, and joyfulness. It is here on earth and has four legs!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance for Memphis

Here's Memphis, my latest Puppy Class graduate at PetSmart. She's a puppy Einstein and her family is very proud of her. The time and effort they devote to her training is paying off. Next stop: Intermediate class starting Monday. Her new classmate will be my very own Karma! What fun!

Missing from today's graduation ceremony was Delaney, the precocious Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

RIP Jackson Brown

Three years ago, Jim and I built and moved into our new home. Our development was brand new, and everyone was "new". It was fun to meet people as they walked through the neighborhood, and of course the ones we remembered most were the ones who had four-footed friends with them.

The first woman I remember meeting was Susan. She had a beautiful chocolate lab with her named "Jackson Brown". Jackson was a sweet boy, happy and friendly like most labs are.

As time passed, we got to know Susan and her husband John quite well. They had a big house, and John was constanly building upgrades to it. Huge deck, Beautiful fireplace in the living room, gorgeous den, bar, and card room downstairs. Every completion meant a party with the neighbors. It was fun, and always Jackson was there to add to the smiles.

Jackson was aon older boy, though I'm not certain of his age. This spring he became ill, got a serious infection, and his health declined. He couldn't shake it.

Yesterday morning while I was out walking Casey and Karma, Susan was driving by and stopped. She told me they had to make that awful decision a few days ago and say goodbye to Jackson. I know her pain. I know her sweet boy Jackson is at Rainbow Bridge with my Noir and together they are playing and watching over the families they loved and left behind on Earth.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More puppy class graduates!

 Meet Mo-Mo, Finley and Tuffy, the latest puppies I graduated. I didn't teach all their classes, but I was delighted to see them graduate!

Monday, May 31, 2010

My Dad: Veteran.... Prisoner Of War... Dog Lover

Prisoner Of War medalMy dad, James Ladd Houlihan, was not the greatest dad in the world. He was abusive and alcoholic, but he was very intelligent and I tried to love him and I hope I learned from him.

My dad was drafted and served in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He was shot down over Germany and spent 10 months in a POW camp. He rarely spoke of his experiences there, but when he did, we learned of horrible conditions, sickness, and friends around him dying. There was very little to eat, and what they did have sickened him. It was mostly a stew made with dog meat.

They were on a forced march when they were liberated. He came back to the states weighing just over 100 pounds, and spent several months in the hospital getting his strength back. When he returned home to Buffalo, he married my mom, began a family, built a house, and got a dog.

I was the fifth of five children. When I was born, the family dog was an Irish Setter named "Edie". Mom always claimed I was named after my Great Grandmother, Edith Ladd, but I know better. I'm proud to have been named after the family dog.

Dogs were always well-treated in our house. In fact, they always had their own chair that no one else was allowed to sit on. I think while he was a POW he befriended dogs in the camp, then watched them disappear. I imagine he felt almost like a cannibal having to eat the meals that were probably composed of his friends, the dogs in the POW camp.

One thing I know I learned from Dad is love and respect for dogs. He is probably smiling as he watches me rescuing and fostering puppies, driving transport, and now training dogs.

A few years ago I applied for and received his POW medal. Today I hold that medal and reflect on his service to our country, the price he paid both physically and emotionally, and mostly I think about his love for dogs. I hope I have made him proud in carrying on that love.