Delightfully Different

From the moment that I laid eyes on Penny, I knew that she was different.  Her severe overbite is quite hard to ignore.  And her deformed front paw turns heads everywhere we go.

When my husband first met her, he told me (and I quote), “She’s ugly!”  But, I completely ignored him as I watched Penny hopping around our living room like a bunny.  It was too late.  She had me wrapped around her little “stump.”

My mom also scoffed at my newest addition.  “She just looks….different.”  That is when I realized my mom was right.

Penny is most certainly different from any other dog that I have ever met.  While she has what some would consider to be “defects,” Penny acts just like her four-legged, normal snouted fur brothers and sister.  She happily jumps on and off of the furniture when playing.  She races Cole (our 21 pound Min Pin) around the back yard and often beats him!

Her spirit is simply amazing.  She has survived being abandoned and left in a shelter to die.  She greets everyone she meets with a wag of her extra-long tail and what can only be described as a smile on her face.

Penny has taught me that being different is wonderful.  And in doing so, I have gotten to meet other fur parents who fell in love with those that are “different.”  Rosie, is the most touching example.  She was a Chihuahua that was the product of backyard breeding by an animal hoarder.  Unfortunately, she was born with almost no hair, an elongated snout and front legs whose bones had fused together, forcing her to crawl on her “elbows.”

But, Rosie was also born with the most beautiful blue eyes.  And these eyes saw nothing but goodness and hope.  Upon being rescued, she was soon adopted by a wonderful woman.  She saw saving Rosie as the perfect opportunity to show the world that looking different was a gift and nothing to be ashamed of.

Poor Rosie had her share of health problems due to her previous living conditions.  Sadly, Ms. Rosie passed away this October.  But, her memory lives on through her website:  www.everythingrosie.com.  Rosie’s mom continues to spread the word about the importance of adopting animals from shelters instead of heading to a breeder.  She also strives to teach people to report animal abuse so that others, like Ms. Rosie, can have a second chance at life.

From visiting Rosie’s site, I soon found out about Bunny, the miracle puppy.  She was born with a primary cleft palate, and without eyes!  Unfortunately, many people would have thought Bunny to be “useless” and a “mistake.”  But, Bunny’s rescuers saw a special dog that simply needed love.  Bunny now thrives at the special needs dog rescue, Pulling for Paws. Check out this fantastic pooch on her very own Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bunny-the-Miracle-Puppy/361605037279954

Yet another unique pooch is Emma, the Chihuahua.  This little cutie was born with a cleft palate. To the naked eye, it appears that she is missing part of her nose.  And since her nose is deformed, her tongue can always be seen.  Still, Emma has grown up to be one sensational pup.  She is even in the running for the Guinness Book of World Records for “World’s Smallest Dog Model.”  Check out her Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfEmmaCleftPalateChihuahua and her official web page at: http://elizabethhart.com/friendsofemma.html.

To me, Penny is just as inspirational as Rosie, Bunny and Tess.  Special needs dogs are just that:  special.  And owning one will change your life forever.

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Americans are having dogs instead of babies

morethanwordslk:

Finally! An article about a family that I can relate to. I am glad that someone finally decided to shed light on the fact that pet parents are parents, too!

Originally posted on Quartz:

The fewer babies Americans give birth to, the more small dogs they seem to buy.

Birth rates in the US have fallen from nearly 70 per 1,000 women in 2007, to under 63 last year—a 10% tumble. American women birthed almost 400,000 fewer little humans in 2013 than they did six years before. The drop-off has come exclusively among 15- to 29-year-olds. This chart, taken from a recent report by the US Department of Health (pdf), does a pretty decent job of showing how much of the growing disinterest in having babies is due to younger women:

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Meanwhile, the ownership of small dogs—that is, pets weighing no more than 20 pounds (9 kilograms)—is doing just the opposite. Americans have been buying more and more small dogs each year since 1999. The population of little canines more than doubled in the US over that period, and is only projected to continue upwards, according…

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Adopting a Dog: Testimonials #5

morethanwordslk:

Check out the adoption stories of our fur babies! I am so honored to be a part of this project!

Originally posted on Dog Lovers Blog | Art. Dogs. Design | Woof Love :

Adopt a dog

We have 7 beautiful stories from one happy home. I can imagine all those angels barking and running around, but most of all, they have a family now! Read their amazing stories from Lauren:

“Theo is our long-haired Chihuahua. He was surrendered by his abusive owners to the local humane society. He would not allow anyone to come near him and was labeled as “Unadoptable.” One day, a foster mom from a nearby rescue group came to the humane society and asked about Theo’s story. She proceeded to stay with Theo for 2 hours until he finally allowed her to pet him. The woman knew that Theo’s time at the shelter was almost up. He was scheduled to be euthanized in two days!

Adopted dog Theo

This fantastic lady took Theo home with her and her 17 foster Pugs! Theo soon learned to love again and was placed on Petfinder.com for adoption. We…

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Wonderfully Weird

Something happened today that I was not expecting.  A person at my place of employment (who shall remain nameless) stated:  “You’re a little weird, Lauren T.”

 

In retrospect, I have been called far worse.  But, this surprising revelation really stung.  Somehow I found the strength to say, “How?”

 

This person appeared to be at a loss for words.  I suppose he/she thought that I would just laugh it off or walk away with my tail between my legs (figuratively, of course).  All I wanted was an answer.

 

“Well,” he/she stammered.  “You post pictures of dogs with no eyes.”

 

I have no problems being judged as the “crazy dog lady.”  To me, each dog is special, much like a human child.  I have no regrets about adopting any of my fur babies.  In fact, most of them would have been euthanized if their respective rescue groups hadn’t given them a second chance.

 

The particular pooch that this person is speaking of is Hope.  She is a double Dapple Dachshund that was born without eyes and is deaf.  However, she does not let these “disabilities” prevent her from living her best life.  She loves to meet new people and dogs.  We are still working on getting her to like the cat.

 

My husband and I find Hope to be one of the most inspiring dogs that we have ever met.  In just two days, Hope was navigating our house as if she has lived here all of her life.  She even climbs onto chairs by using her front paws to pull her body through the opening between the back and seat cushions.  And even when she runs head first into things, she simply shakes it off and keeps going with her head held high and a smile on her face.

 

The same is true of our three-legged dog, Penny.  She uses her “stump” to hold onto toys and to “pin down” her brother, Cole, when they play together.  And don’t forget that she is able to scale our four foot pet gate.  Penny also loves everything and everybody. 

 

Just because some of my dogs are not what many people would call “normal” does not mean that they are not worthy of being loved.  Can you imagine the parent of a human child with a disability not loving him or her?  Of course not!  Why should it be any different with fur parents?

 

While we are on the subject, my husband and I have CHOSEN to be pet parents.  We do not desire to have any human children.  And, quite honestly, we do not owe anyone an explanation as to why.  In addition, I believe that Matt and I take better care of our fur babies than many parents do of their own children.  Our “kids” are the most spoiled on the planet!

 

The person then managed to squeak out another reason for my “weirdness.”  My rubber bracelets.  Everyday, without fail, I ALWAYS wear 5 rubber bracelets on my left arm.  I call this my “cause arm.”

 

Each bracelet represents a specific cause that is important to me.  Allow me to explain.  The green bracelet is for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I wear it to support my 91 year old Grandmother who was diagnosed with Mantel Cell Lymphoma two years ago.  The red bracelet is for the American Diabetes Association.  I wear it to support my Dad who was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes almost two years ago.  The purple bracelet is for the Pancreatic Cancer Network.  I wear this bracelet in honor of a friend of the family who passed away a year ago due to this horrible disease.

 

The yellow bracelet is for canine cancer.  I lost my very first dog, a Border Collie named Spots, to cancer.  The final bracelet represents my support of “special” dogs.  The “Everything Rosie” bracelet was created to celebrate the very short life of Rosie, a special Chihuahua that was the product of backyard breeding.  The message on the bracelet is “Always Adopt.”  I agree wholeheartedly with this campaign.  (Check out www.everythingrosie.com to order your own bracelet and support the cause.)

 

I choose to wear these bracelets everyday because they are a part of who I am and what I stand for.  The people and animals that these causes represent mean the world to me.  I am proud to show my love and support.

 

I have known for quite some time that I am “not like everyone else.”  I have never had a drop of alcohol in my entire life (except for communion).   I haven’t ever tried drugs, smoked a cigarette or committed a crime of any kind, not even a speeding ticket.  I also do not believe in using profanity. It just diminishes the speaker’s intelligence.

 

I am proud of the fact that I am “different.”  I love knowing that there is only one person in the world like me.  And I am not afraid to own it.  In a world filled with copycats, I am an original.

Grueling Grieving

I will never forget the day that my very first pet passed away.  Her name was Precious.  She was the most beautiful Guinea Pig that I had ever seen.  I loved her to the moon and back.

 

My parents and I went out on a Saturday evening.  As usual, I had fallen asleep on the ride home.  When we arrived, my mom went inside first while I was still in the car with dad.  All of a sudden, she came racing back to the car and told dad that he needed to come inside quickly.

 

Precious had passed away while we were gone.  We didn’t even know that she was sick.  And maybe she wasn’t.  She was quite old for a Guinea Pig.  Still, I was beyond upset.  I couldn’t understand why she had passed.  And I did even get to say goodbye.

 

Thankfully, we still had Spots, our Border Collie.  But, his passing was even more traumatic than Precious’ had been.  We discovered too late that he had a form of canine leukemia.  He passed the very same day that we took him to the vet.  

 

My dad became very angry with me and my mom when we spoke of getting another dog four months later.  Dad was outraged.  How could we be over Spots’ passing?  Why were we trying to replace him?  The pain of losing Spots had crippled dad’s desire to save another pet’s life. 

 

Matt and I watched Hallmark’s “A Dog Named Christmas” movie yesterday and it dealt with the exact same issue.  Todd’s father did not want the family to get a dog because he was still grieving for two dogs that he had lost earlier in his life.  I have found that many people feel this way.

 

One of my former bosses lost a dog and refused to ever get another one.  Similarly, one of my current co-workers lost her beloved pooch two years ago and she still cannot bare to even look at other dogs.  Both women just kept saying, “I can’t go through that again.”

 

No one understands pet grief more than I do.  But, people should not let their grief hold them back from loving again. When we adopted Theo, we were not trying to replace Spots.  And we certainly were not “over” his passing.  However,  mom and I had dealt with our grief.  We understood that Spots had given us the best years of his life and that we had done everything we could to save him.  We also knew that Spots would want us to help other animals in the same way that we helped him. 

 

What we saw was an opportunity to save another animal’s life.  And in adopting Theo, we did just that.  He was moments away from being euthanized due to his “vicious; unadoptable” label.  At first, dad wanted nothing to do with Theo.  He wouldn’t even look in the dog’s direction.  But, slowly, Theo won dad over with the respect that he had for his master.  All dad had to do was a point a finger at Theo and he would instantly drop to the ground and roll over on his back in an “I surrender,” pose.  Dad simply adores Theo now and always tells me that he can come “back home” for visits.

 

While it sounds cold to say, loss is a part of life.  Of course I wish that everyone’s pets could live forever.  That would be fantastic!  And it is truly gut wrenching when they cross the Rainbow Bridge. But, if we let loss hold us back, we aren’t truly living our best life.  We should not look at loss as an excuse to close ourselves off from the world.

 

And we certainly should never let loss make us not want to love.  In fact, pet loss provides us with an opportunity to share our love with another animal.  Of course, I am not suggesting that you run out to a shelter the day after your pet has passed to adopt another one.  What I am saying is that it is okay to grieve.  In fact, we need to.  But, don’t let your grief become debilitating.

 

When you feel ready to re-introduce yourself to animals, perhaps you could begin by volunteering at an animal shelter.  You would be providing a much needed service in helping to socialize the animals as well as keep them clean and well fed.  Plus, you would be able to give these animals the love that they have been deprived of all of their lives without rushing yourself through the grieving process.

 

Perfectly healthy and loving animals are euthanized at shelters all across the nation every day. These creatures would (literally) jump at the chance to be a part of a loving home.  And when you adopt an animal from a local shelter, you save not one life, but two:  the animal that you adopted and the one that can now be rescued in your animal’s place.

 

Watching our fur babies cross the Rainbow Bridge is never easy.  But, we must always remember the most important lesson that our pets teach us:  Always love unconditionally and never stop.

Present Pets

As soon as our eyes locked, I knew he was the one.  His body was tan with a white stripe running down to his snout.  And his tail curled into a tiny “q.”

My husband thought I was crazy.  But, despite his protesting, I filled out the adoption paperwork.  After all, this dog wasn’t going to be mine.

I was purchasing this gorgeous puppy for my mother.  She just recently lost her Chihuahua due to a careless veterinarian.  And she had been broken hearted ever since Theo (our first Chihuahua) came to live with me and Matt after we got married.

Mom did adopt an adorable mutt, but, her heart was always longing for another Chi.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this little guy was perfect for her.  I couldn’t wait to get home and surprise her.

As soon as we got home, I called her over.  When she was seated on the couch, I presented her with the little puppy.  Mom thought we adopted it for ourselves.  Her eyes lit up when I told her the dog was for her.

My dad on the other hand….he blew a fuse.  And told me point blank that the dog was not staying with them and needed to be taken back.  I was devastated.  I couldn’t understand what went wrong.

Looking back, I know that the main problem was that I chose to think with my heart and not my head.  And I believe that many people that try to gift pets are doing the same.  Adopting a pet is a big decision.  One that should not be made for you.

Here are some things that I had not considered:

  1. This dog will need to be neutered.  Do mom and dad have an extra $100 for this procedure?

 

      2. This dog will need yearly check-ups.  Again, could funding be an issue?

 

      3. How will Declan (mom and dad’s first dog) react to the puppy?

 

      4. Adding a second dog will increase the pet food bill.

 

       5. Do mom and dad have time for another dog?

 

        6. Do mom and dad both want another dog?

 

Luckily, mom convinced dad to keep the puppy now known as Tito.  And dad adores him.  He even gives Tito his empty yogurt cup every morning.

But, not all pups are this fortunate.  Many dogs that are gifted without the potential owner’s consent are taken to the nearest humane society where they are typically euthanized within the week.  No animal deserves this.

I understand how our country has come to think of gifting pets as a good idea.  There are tons of movies and television shows that involve a child receiving a puppy for Christmas.  Who doesn’t want to see their child’s face light up with excitement and joy?  But, what happens when the dog isn’t a puppy anymore?

Not everyone that adopts a pet keeps him/her forever.  Some only want to keep a pet until it is no longer a puppy or kitten.  While others simply become tired of caring for the animal and seek to rid themselves of the “burden” as quickly as possible.  This is how many animals end up on Craig’s List or dumped alongside of a road.

There are other sticky situations to think about as well.  What if you gift a pet to your significant other…and you break up?  Who gets the animal?  This was the case with Trooper.  He was just a puppy when the owner and his wife got a divorce.  The soon-to-be-ex-wife then enlisted the help of her son to tie the puppy to the back of her ex-husband’s pick-up truck. 

Poor little Trooper was dragged down the Interstate in Missouri for over a mile, unbeknownst to the driver.  Thankfully, the staff at the Missouri Humane Society and their partnering vet were able to save his life.  After being rehabilitated, Trooper found a loving forever home.

Sadly, there are quite a few mentally deranged people out in the world that would think nothing of harming an animal like this.  All the more reason to fight the urge to gift a pet.

Additionally, choosing a pet is a very personal decision.  Not everyone’s version of a Chihuahua is the same.  While my mom was delighted with my choice, others may not have been.

While I believe that most people who want to gift a pet have the best of intentions, I feel that this practice should no longer be an option on adoption applications.  It tends to leave the door open for trouble.  If you would like to adopt a pet for a loved one, include them in the process.  Your significant other and pet will thank you for it!

 

Polite Pooch Etiquette

Since I was a little girl, I can remember being around dogs.  My Grandma went through a series of dogs that included a Poodle, Pomeranian and Shitzu.  From owning Spots, a Border Collie, I was also used to handling large dogs.

After attending several dog centered events with my husband, we quickly discovered that many parents (both fur and human) and children do not exercise the proper etiquette when around dogs.  So, I would like to share our top etiquette rules that we enforce when out with our pack.

 

  1.  Not all dogs are friendly.  I know that everything most people have learned about dogs comes from television and movies.  With superhero dogs like Lassie and lovable cartoon characters such as Disney’s Bolt, it is easy to see where people are taught this misconception.  Children especially need to be taught that not every dog will want to be petted by a complete stranger.  Some dogs can become quite territorial around their owner as they feel the need to protect him/her.  This does not mean that the dog is vicious.  It simply means that the dog takes his/her role as his owner’s guardian very seriously.

         2. Dogs are not toys.  Being the owners of three Chihuahuas, we know all too well the idea that this breed is nothing more than a living toy.  Again, movies like “Legally Blonde” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” portray these pooches as being nothing more than an accessory that is carried around in his/her owner’s purse while she shops, hits the spa, etc.  Children appear to be drawn to Chihuahuas because of their small size.  I believe that they do not feel intimidated when approaching such dogs.  However, since this breed is known for being tiny in stature and weighing very little, many children like to simply grab at the dog, attempting to pick him/her up without the owner’s permission.  We have also seen cases where children pull on the dog’s ears and tail and poke at its’ nose and eyes.  Please, teach your children that dogs are no different than people.  They deserve respect and should never be manhandled.

    3. Never pet a dog without the owner’s permission.  While this seems like a no brainer to most of us, you would be surprised at how many children come running up to our pack at events like Bark in the Park and the Canine Carnival and just stick their hand in the dog’s face.  One year, we even had an unattended child unzip the flap to our pet stroller while my husband and I were eating lunch!  We have since purchased a set of locks for both the top and bottom flap so that this does not happen again.  As parents, we know our fur babies very well.  We know their quirks and their history.  People typically cannot tell an abused dog when they see one unless it has been burned or beaten.  Theo, our eldest dog, was abused by children and wants nothing to do with them.  He will snarl and bare his teeth (which is why he no longer attends such events).  Domino is very particular about strangers coming into our home, but loves to be petted while on territory that is not his.  While he, too, was abused, he seems to be fine when meeting people outside of the house.  Cole becomes spooked if you approach him from behind.  Again, these are things that you don’t know until you ask.  To avoid a potentially dangerous situation, please, encourage your children to always ask the dog’s owner before attempting to pet him/her.

      4. Do not bring retractable leashes to pet events.  I cannot tell you how many events we have attended where this etiquette rule was actually listed on the event poster.  But, despite the rule, some pet owners still insist on bringing this type of leash.  There is a reason why most venues are banning the retractable leash:  people can easily become tangled and fall.  While attending the Celebrate Spot event, one woman had nothing but trouble with her large dog.  He was hooked to a retractable leash and pulled his owner the entire time.  Plus, she did not think to lock the leash so as to limit the dog’s mobility.  Instead, he would race out to the end of the leash and entangle himself in the runners that were passing by.  The woman kept apologizing, but everyone seemed very annoyed.  Not only could this cause injury to other event participants, it could end up choking your dog.  Please, respect the rules of the pet event that you are attending and leave the retractable leash at home.

   5. Proper petting techniques should be enforced at all times.  Remember the reference to children simply sticking their hand in a dog’s face?  Unfortunately, this is how many children have approached our dogs.  Matt is always so patient in showing them how to properly pet a dog that you are meeting for the first time.  His rules are:

           a. Ask the dog’s owner if it is okay to pet his/her dog.

           b.Crouch down to the dog’s level so that he/she does not feel that you are trying to dominate or intimidate.

           c. Slowly, place you hand in front of the dog’s nose (your palm should be facing you).

           d. Remain calm and allow the dog to sniff your hand.  He/she is learning a great deal about you from this initial sniffing.

           e. Read the dog’s reaction.  Is he/she wagging her tail?  If so, you may proceed with petting the dog.  If he/she is pulling away     or cowering, you should probably not try to pet him/her.

       6. Never feed someone else’s dog.  Matt and I have witnessed many a dog being fed chips, hot dogs and even hamburgers!  We choose to listen to our vet and not give our dog’s “people food.”  Some may say, “What’s the harm?”  Our dog, Theo, found the answer to that question.  He began to urinate all over the apartment we were living in.  The truly frightening moment was when he urinated inside a Petsmart and we saw blood.  It turns out that he had developed bladder stones.  Our ex-vet said that there are a variety of things that can cause this.  One of them, eating certain kinds of food.  For years, my mom allowed Theo to do a “pre-wash” of the dinner plates.  His little tummy was exposed to cheese, bread, meatloaf bits and everything in between.  She thought that she was treating him, but in the end, it did more harm than good.  Theo needed surgery to remove the stones and now has to be on a special (and expensive) form of dog food for the rest of his life.  Other dogs have skin conditions that require a special diet as well.  And certain breeds, like Dachshunds, need to be particularly careful about packing on the pounds.  So, even though you are trying to be friendly, do not “treat” someone else’s dog.

 

I hope that these etiquette tips have been helpful as well as informative.  By following these few simple guidelines, we can all continue to share our love of dogs with each other and the world.