Sunday, November 24, 2019

Doggy Communication


Exactly how do dogs communicate with humans? They actually do it quite well, it is the humans that need to learn the nuances of this communication. Most of us that have a dog or more than one, can relate to the door mat above. I think that when our door mat needs replaced that this is the one we will get. WHY? Because it is so true! 

Luckily, our dogs are not barking aggressively, they are simply giving us notice that someone is on the other side of the door. And so much more: the garbage truck is going down our road, a biker is cycling down the cove, someone is walking their dog or baby on "their" road. Squirrels could be taunting them or the neighbor's cat sitting on the other side of the porch swishing his fluffy tail at the two doodles barking furiously at his antics. It has gotten so bad, as a matter of fact, that our FedEx, UPS and Amazon delivery people know that they don't even need to ring the door bell. Our doodles will start singing if they hear the sound of a truck, especially if it stops at our home.

a dog's bark is a form of communication to receive attention, much to the dismay of their owners. We have had to learn what most of the different barks mean. It definitely is a way to get our attention, whether to tell us we have guests, or we need to put their food put down or some water in the water dish, we want to play, or go out for a chase with the reflections from the back door. One dog rings the tinkle/jingle bells to go out to take care of business. The other one prefers to go to the back door and issue one loud woof. If this woof is ignored, she will continue and may even come to seek you out. Just know that they are trying to tell you something - you just have to learn the different barks. 

My brother's dog, Piper, has this look on his face that seems to be saying, if he could talk, "I am trying to understand you, what is it you need me to do?" They actually do seem to grasp more of what we are saying to them faster than we are able to toward them. It is a matter of paying close attention to them and their needs.

I am lucky in that I am able to work from home. When I have been writing for too long without taking a break to pay attention to our furbabies, then Maggie Mae will be sure to stop the whole process to let me know. She takes over the keyboard and gives me those big puppy dog eyes that melt my heart. Score for Maggie Mae and Davis. (and me - they get their love and devotion and we all take a break together.

Playtime is playtime, whether with me, with Steve or with our granddaughters. Our 60 pounder does not understand that he is not a lap dog, however, he is so gentle. Even with our 7 year old granddaughter.

I will be the first to admit that I am NOT a morning person. At least, not 4 or 5 A.M. Let's take it to 6 and 7 would be even better. However, when our youngest puppy, who is getting older and better at making it till about 7, yet still has her early mornings, calls for us at 4 - 5, there is no way when I see her excitement on seeing me come to save the day by taking her out. She races to the back door, takes care of business and rushes in to jump up on the sofa, licking me wildly and also paws at me. Never have we tried to teach give me 5 or a handshake, but let me turn my back to her to get my coffee cup or phone and she uses her paw to try to take my hand and almost pull me in to her, as if to say, "Come on. I am here and I need some loving." It is ever so gentle and ever so sweet. As soon as I sit down she is in my lap, Davis it up on the back of the sofa curled around me and all is right with the world. 

Both of them love to give kisses, especially to my hands and ears. When we drive in the car, their seat belts allow them to come forward just enough to rest their chin on either one of our shoulders and just kiss our ears with so much trust, as if to say, "We are not sure exactly where we are going but we are with YOU." Their absolute favorite place to go is to WGAC Doggy Day Care. They have figured out the route by the smells and sights and start with little grunts and cries of delights until we are a block away and then they go into full stereo harmony of barking and howling. Otherwise, they are quite happy to just go to the pet store, the pharmacy drive thru where they always get a pet treat or the bank where they send over a pet treat to the car. Another favorite place is Starbucks, because they have learned they will receive a puppuccino. They LOVE them. I believe, the fact that they get to go out in the car with us is good with them, because wherever we go, they get complimented. Actually, I have had the windows down a bit and while at a red light had people honk their horns to tell us what beautiful dogs we had. Even the Kroger Click List employees know them by name and are quite upset if they are not with us because we dropped them off at DayCare first. 

If our dogs are doing something that they shouldn't or we find part of a paper chewed up and ask, "Who did this?" They both put their heads down in shame. They know. In fact, the older one puts himself in his crate to show us that he was not a super star and his little sister follows his lead. We actually took him to Puppy School. We did not take her. Why? Because her brother taught her everything she needs to know. He sits, she watches and follows suit. At dinner, he takes a down position and she looks at him and does the same. They both come when you call their names. UNLESS, there is water nearby. Then Davis may have second thoughts and selective hearing.

Another way that dogs communicate is by watching their tails. 

Davis has always had a question mark tail. Even as an 8 week old puppy. I always can spot him from far away with that tail. It is a rare thing to see it go down between his legs due to stress, anxiety over something not making his happy. Usually when we spot him doing that, it is when we take him out and he is not pleased with a smell or a sound that he hears in HIS yard. Otherwise, we have this regal, beautiful black goldendoodle with a question mark tail. His little sister had a stick straight tail when we got her. 

I suppose Davis taught her how to do that, also! They seem to share everything else. 

Always listen to your dog. They are speaking to you!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

What Constitutes an Irrational Fear?

What constitutes an irrational fear? Depends on who you ask, really. I am going to tell you what an irrational fear is to me. You may have a totally different opinion, and that is fine with me. We can agree to disagree. 

The picture above is just that; a picture. I am not terrified of dinosaurs simply because I do not live in  Jurassic Park. If you saw the movie, then I am sure it terrified many, if not you personally. From experience, I know that it frightened my daughter, even though she could rationally say to you that she knew it was just make-believe. That did not stop her imagination from working overtime.

There are several things that I know I have irrational fears about. Some, I am aware that there are some plans of action I could do in order to overcome them. Then there are others that I simply ask myself, "Why would I want to?"

Only once have I flown in what I considered to be a small plane. I had many wonderful experiences flying before going in this plane and had no fear whatsoever. Let's just say that my fear does have some rational reasoning to it. I boarded just fine. However, once we got in the air over the Rocky Mountains, the turbulence took over. We rocked back and forth and up and down the whole trip. People all around me were getting sick. This in turn affected me and I got sick. It was an hour of sheer misery. The pilot got on the speaker and informed us that this was one of the roughest flights he has ever flown in, BUT there was nothing to worry about. He and the crew had everything under control. For me? Nothing was going to be under control until we landed safely on the ground.

As we got off the plane, the friends and family waiting for passengers were all asking why was everyone so green looking? When I looked around me, everyone did look as if they were related to The Grinch. I just made a promise to myself then and there that I would not ever be on a small plane again. Knowing that I had to get back to Denver from Jackson Hole in order to fly the large aircraft back to Memphis, I had decided that I would be renting a car and driving to Denver. Problem solved. Friends and family that met me had other plans. They managed to get some Johnny Walker Scotch in my system and I was not able to drive. I ended up getting on the small plane and sleeping through the uneventful flight. At least, they told me that it was uneventful. Maybe so? To this day I still avoid getting on small planes.

I might add that I had a similar experience on a very large deep sea fishing boat. The captain said that the sea was as rough as he had ever seen. Good grief! Does Mother Nature follow me around on my excursions? I was laid out across the built-in ice chests where they kept the caught fish alive. 

In my usually logical mind, I know that a cruise liner is so much larger than this large deep sea fishing boat. However, that one experience has made me just a bit terrified of taking a cruise. 

Maybe one day. Maybe!

Now, let's go to another kind of irrational fear. These fears are for real and I really don't want to do anything about these fears except avoid these things:

Usually, I manage to do a rather good job at avoiding them. On those rare occasions that I don't, bedlam breaks out. This blog was on my mind to write this week because of one of our goldendoodles, Davis. 

Normally, he has always been a model of the perfect dog. However, this past week, our perfect dog went out with me for the last trip to take care of his business before bed. Leaves had been falling all day and I noticed on our way in he grabbed at something, which I naturally thought was a big leaf. He followed me in with it to the screened in porch. It was there that I told him to drop it and he did. He followed me to the back door, only to turn quickly and went back to grab it and flew in to his bed. He put it down and looked up at me with his adoringly big brown eyes. I looked down and became totally irrational and close to hysterics. Steve came running in and so did our little goldendoodle. I put out my arms, waving them away and screaming for Steve to call them to their crates, quickly. Of course, he had no idea what the fuss was all about. I then barked out (literally) for him to bring two plastic bags fast. 

You see, on the bed was a dead (thank goodness) mouse. I had no idea that dogs caught mice. As Steve came out, he saw the problem and put the dead critter in the bag and took it out to the trash. It was at that point that I needed a tall G & T with a twist of lemon. It helped me to stop hyperventilating and even considering changing our dog's name to Hunter or Killer. 

This picture is obviously is not Davis but this is exactly what he did. I did not stop to take pics. The next day, I looked up dogs catching mice. There were a few breeds of dogs listed who actually are known for this. Goldendoodles were not on the list, nor were poodles or English golden retrievers. However, he looked me as if he should be praised for bringing me such a gift. He was so proud. I was speechless. Steve and others let me know that I should have thanked him and praised him. hmmmm

This is what I would expect, even though I have never really had a cat. Never would I expect our dog to catch one, kill it and bring it to me. Even though I have had a couple of times, a field mouse coming in our house, I know that I managed to acquire this irrational fear of mice from my Mother. She came in from her bedroom with her handgun when I screamed about the mouse that I spotted in the kitchen. Truly, at that stage, I did not know which scenario that I should have been more afraid of: the mouse who ran off to who knows where or my Mother standing in the doorway pointing a handgun, as if she could really shoot a mouse!

Then, some rational thinking had to be mustered up by someone and to my amazement, it was mine. I had to take the phone from her hands when she told me that she was calling 9-1-1 for the mouse in our house! Ya'll, this is for real! I just can't make this up out of the blue. Quickly, I took the phone from her and tried to explain that she/we would be fined for calling over a mouse - not considered life threatening.

After buying out Lowe's of all of their glue traps, I managed to get our problem solved with the help of my daughter. You see, she also is not fond of mice. She had to help shovel up the trap that the mouse got stuck in and place him into the bag that I held out and we took the bag out to the trash bin. We also called in my dear, sweet Uncle to check out the garage door where he guessed the mouse came in from the field beside our house. He fixed the problem.

There were also times when I worked outside of the home, that it was known there was a mouse problem. I kept my feet up off the ground when I had to sit in a meeting or work at my computer until the problem had been solved.

While at work, our building was being renovated. The ceiling tiles had not been replaced just yet, so all of the piping and insulation was exposed above the long hallways. I was out in one hallway with the locksmiths that were sent to our building. We were going over the blueprints where they were marking the doors that needed to have locks with keys installed. I was pointing at the pictures they had on a rolling cart just as a rat from above fell down right in front of us. I can still hear the sound of that rat as it hit the floor. DEAD. "SPLAT!"

"Looks as if it broke its back," one locksmith calmly uttered to me and his buddy. 

At that stage, I grabbed my radio and managed to screech for a call of help from our building engineer. The call went into the office and to anyone else that carried a radio. People came out of everywhere to see what kind of commotion was going on. I was literally, helped into my office to a chair. No one could believe that my normally calm voice went into a wild banshee howling. That was the talk at work for over a month and still to this day, 17 years later, is still remembered.

There seems to be patterns to me encountering fears of rats. Just two days ago, Steve and I were leaving out of our garage to take our puppies to WGAC Doggie Daycare. With cold weather approaching, we have a few hidden places with sticky traps just in case one wants to come in from the cold. 

As I backed out of the garage and put the car in Drive, we headed down our cove at a slow speed and heard a thump, thump sound from the rear of the car. Steve got out to investigate. He discovered a dead rat attached to one of the sticky traps that was in turn stuck on the rear left tire. Clearly, my fear of rodents manifested itself one more time. Steve suggested, "Let's just drive and hope that it comes off." It did! It was all that I could do to guide the vehicle on the correct side of the road. I couldn't even talk at this point. I am really hoping my irrational fear of rodents does not come in 'threes!'

I am not apologizing for my irrational fear. To me it is very rational. To this day, I will not go in a cave where there could be bats, look and watch carefully when outside where snakes could be and will use a shoe to kill a spider or spray it to death with bug spray or hairspray, whichever is close at hand.

 What makes sense to you? 

Sunday, November 10, 2019



One thing that I have to continually remind myself of is that my feelings don't have a schedule. I am human. I am not a calendar and it is ok to have an 'off' day, as long as I know what it is I need to do to kick myself back into gear. It is ok to have a day on the weekend that is not super duper. It is ok to have a fantastic Monday. I need to remember that it is important to forget the calendar and focus on how I am feeling.

This past Saturday, I had a really 'off' day. I just was not me. I would be cold, then hot, and really upset with myself for not being able to do what I needed to do. Was that the important thing on my agenda? NO! The important thing was for me to focus on the things that could make me get over the funky mood that I was in, or find out through process of elimination, if I was coming down with something. (I wasn't.)

It is one of those deals that require me to talk nicely to myself. I have discovered it is ok to not give everything my all and to take a break from being me. So, no blog, reading here and there, staying warm and then cooling off. Giving myself permission to nap, just rest, and enjoy the day. 

Other ways to work your way through is to have a very supportive significant other (or really good friend - sometimes, one in the same when you are lucky). I have mine. He helped by getting me some tea and trust me, no one can make a cuppa tea like a Brit! He also left for a moment to go and pick up a prescription for me, he was there to cover me, turn the fan on overdrive and never, ever complained. Just wanted to be there for me. That is true love. He even made a great soup for us, which truly helped the sore throat that I was just starting to feel and gave me some ibuprofen for a headache beginning to take over.

I also worked on a lot of meditating. Just closing my eyes and taking deep breaths to push out the negative and pull in the positive. 

I would alternate between doing this and reading a bit. It was a gorgeous sunny day so all was helping weather wise. No gray and gloomy day tuning in to my ikky feelings. It was all day that I worried a bit that maybe I was coming down with something. 

The next helpful way to kick myself up into 1st gear was to focus on our puppies. Ok, so one puppy just turned three. He will always be our senior puppy and is so damn calm and loving. Both of them are intelligent and so very empathetic. They knew that I was not up to playing with them and they just cuddled in to me. It felt so good to have their love.

The last thing that I thought about was to just walk it off. I just was not quite well enough to try that today. It is a good plan for when it is more of the moody blues that have you vs. whether you are coming down with something or not. 

Even though it was a beautiful day, I could not have managed this and it is best to know your own limitations. This quote is so appropriate:

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Life Lessons Learned From My Dogs

There are those who have the misconception that dogs are "just dumb animals." Truly, I feel sorry for any human who has this attitude towards a person's best friend. If only humans were all smart enough to pay attention and learn from them. Dogs have so many life lessons to teach us. Just open your eyes and hearts and learn.

The overall lesson in the scheme of things is just what the poster states above. No matter what life brings my way, I just kick some grass on it and move on. Dwelling on problems are not going to solve them and make them go away. And so there is where and when I try to pay attention to what I need to do about what is going on in my life.

  • I have learned that I am only as old as I feel. If I want to run, then I will train to run. The only thing stopping me is me! Maybe I don't want to run, but slow it down to a swift walk. There is nothing more delightful than the simple joy of a long quiet walk. That is all up to me. My motto should be, "I can and I will!" I get to set my limits or open up my limits to explore everything. I have promised myself that I will show passion and gusto in the things that I do. I have decided that Tai Chi is most definitely for me. So I have discovered some beginning YouTube videos to help me and have placed some DVD's on my Amazon Wish List. I will have to work on where I am practicing Tai Chi. Maybe one day I can be at the ocean to stretch and breathe. Until then, my Happy Place will have to be in my vivid imagination. My dogs have shown me that it really does not or should not take a whole lot to just make the choice to be happy.

  • Never will I stop "playing." Play is a good thing. Everyone needs a time in the day, or even several times where they can run and romp - just play. There are ways to turn the most mundane task into play if I try and use the right attitude to approach my issues that face me. There is never a bad time to play. Working on happy attitudes toward lemons coming my way always brightens my day. Another way to think about this is put it in doggie terms; wag more - bark less. Being a member of the BMW club (bitching, moaning and whining) is not going to help. It is mind over matter and delighting in the simple things, alone sometimes and most definitely with friends. Keep in mind that 'things' are just 'things.' I try to keep things in perspective.

  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent and sit closely by and nuzzle them gently. I feel that it is a great way to show my loyalty to them and how I just want to be supportive. Just sitting and listening is what others may need from me. Dogs seem to have so much empathy for others. My dogs seem to know the exact moment that something is wrong and they just cuddle up and are there always.

  • There was once a time that for some reason, I felt that it was a bad thing to take naps/rests. I believe that it is part of what "they" (whoever they are) would have you believe. Well, take it from your dogs. You need to take plenty of rests and naps are in fact a good thing. My dogs seem to be able to fall asleep almost anywhere and probably do not understand why I do not follow suit. It is not a good thing to buy into the guilt thing. Run right back at them and make friends. Friends don't have to agree on everything. One very important lesson that I have learned from my dogs is to always make it a habit to stretch when you get up from a rest or nap. It adds to the enjoyment.

  • The one thing that I love to see is the pure joy of a dog safely letting the wind and fresh air hitting him in the face so never ever give up the opportunity to experience this for yourself. 

  • It is a matter of me just being me. Dogs are always just themselves. They love unconditionally and are quick to forgive. When their loved ones come home, they run to greet them with such enthusiasm, never taking anyone for granted.

These are lessons that I have learned from my dogs on ways to get along in life and handle stress when it comes my way. Here is the low down on how to handle stress like a dog. If you can't eat it or play with it. Then pee on it and walk away. I would not exactly advise anyone to do this. Dogs are so much more intelligent than this, yet there are times, just as in our own lives, that sometimes you just have to express yourself.