Monday, June 30, 2014

Team for a lifetime

As Roc requires more of my time and attention I worry that Teddy isn't getting enough of either. It's a balancing act that's part of everyone's life, since we haven't found a way to stretch time.
To make sure I'm not falling behind with training and spending time with the Ted-Monster, I go to obedience or agility class even on the days I'd rather just collapse on the couch after work.
I always wind up being happy I went - one of the reasons I have dogs is that I love spending time with them, I enjoy the training process, and it's wonderful when you see your dog finally "get" the behavior you're working on. You can almost see Teddy being proud of himself.
It's also an opportunity to spend an hour - even if it's the only hour you get all week - to ignore all of the stresses and demands on your time. I can shut out everything else when I'm training my dog. Precious time, indeed.
I extend that time for a few minutes every day. Whether we work on a perfect "front" or a faster "recall," or just try to get a few, perfect heeling steps, I meet Teddy's eyes, we're working together, and we're a team.
The training and teamwork lasts a lifetime. Roc remembers all those little things, too. And when I ask him for one of them - his tail still wags.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Living with a little old dog

Roc on his 12th birthday in December, 2013
I went into the vet's office this morning to pick up some medicine refills for Roc. My little old man isn't doing all that great these days - something happened to his back in December and he's losing the use of his back legs.
In all honesty, neither the vet nor I really expected him to still be here in June - if we hadn't been able to control his pain, he wouldn't be. He has trouble getting up from a sit or from lying down, his back legs don't always turn when he does, and he doesn't always realize that his right, rear paw is upside down. I fix it for him.
And because of the medication he's on, he gets really warm. So I bought a bunch of flexible cooler sheets that rotate in and out of the freezer and under his towel on the couch. So he's cool enough to enjoy watching his beloved television.
Teddy and I wanted to
go walking on vacation.
 Roc came along strapped
to my front in his Pooch Pack.
And he's lost feeling and control of his back end, he doesn't always know when he has to poop and doesn't always make it outside anymore. But he still yells for his dinner (and breakfast, and snacks), and he still likes to play with his toys (even if "fetch" is just a few inches in front of him), and he still likes it when I hold him and give him big, smacky kisses. And he still loves barking at the lawn service, the mail carrier, the UPS guy, and his brother.
Today the vet gave me "the talk." She was acting as Roc's advocate - she's known him since I brought him home as a four-month-old puppy. She wants to make sure that Roc is still here because he's happy, not because I need him to be. I was able to reassure her - according to her own rules, which she told me years ago, it's not time. It's a good way to know - think of your dog's three favorite things. When two of them are gone, it's probably time.
I've let my friends know that vacations I've planned probably won't be happening - Roc can't travel and I won't leave him now. Having a little old dog restricts the time I can be away from home - he needs his medicine twice a day, and really can't "hold it" for more than a few hours anymore.
Non-dog people might think it's not worth it. But they'd be wrong. Roc is still my best little buddy, my first obedience dog, and my responsibility. And the day I brought him home I made a promise to him that I'd always be there for him. And I will.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Securing my dogs' future

The last week has found us deeply immersed in the dog world - and wanting to share. The best way we can think of is to dust off the old blog and give it another spin. We're hoping to make it a habit - but not going to promise.

Yesterday our training club addressed an important issue for all of us who love our pets and consider them members of the family - estate planning and pet trusts. There was an article going around the internet a few weeks ago entitled "Will you be coming home to your pet." Lots of good ideas (entering an ICE number in your cell phone, hiding a key so your emergency contact has access to your home, etc.) for emergencies, but not long-term planning.

There were over 20 people at our club meeting - all of them deeply involved in dog training, dog sports, dog competition. And not one of us raised our hands when the speaker, Peter Canalia ( asked us if we had created a pet trust. Ooops.

According to Mr. Canalia, 10% of the pets euthanized in this country every year lose their lives because their owners made no provisions for their care. I'm not going to let that happen to my dogs.

Based on what I've learned, I think a Pet Trust is the best solution - naming a trustee to oversee the funds,
 and a caretaker to oversee the pets. And back-ups for both of them. It doesn't have to be a boat-load of money in the trust, and I can even buy a life insurance policy to fund it - just name the trust as the beneficiary. It seems like a relatively easy and painless way of making sure my pets get the care they deserve.