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Posts from the ‘searching for answers’ Category

Now Taking Questions!

Well, hello there stranger. Is it OK if I join you?

It’s been a long, long time since we last saw each other.

I’m sorry I didn’t write, but I want you to know that I think about you all the time.

It’s just that with the job and the other job and the job on top of that and the grad school and the old dog peeing on everything, I haven’t been able to think of anything to write during my five minutes of free time that I spend lying on the floor.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it was me who sent you that random text in January. You know, the one that said: SEND ALL THE COOKIES.

Can we just forget about that? Thanks, you’re a real friend.

Anywho, we’ve got some serious some catching up to do, don’t we?

First things first:

Imagine that a professional dog trainer, a veterinary behaviorist, a social worker, and a dog walker all offered to answer your most pressing questions about living with a reactive, fearful, aggressive, or just plain old weird dog.

What would you ask them?

I want to know. Tell me in the comments section.

Here’s why: I’m interviewing some pros for the upcoming DINOS online mini-class that I’ll be offering later this year and I want to make sure I ask them what you want to know.

I’m creating this class to help you guys feel less stressed, more connected to your dogs, and more empowered with good info. Plus you’ll have private discussion boards to talk with each other. Wheee!

The DINOS class isn’t a dog training class, although the info will pair nicely with any dog training you might be doing.

The class will include, among other things, a few recorded interviews with professionals who really understand the challenges you’re facing and have good advice we all need to hear.

So you tell me what questions you have for a: professional dog trainer, social worker who runs a support group for people who live with dogs who have behavior issues, and veterinary behaviorist.

I’ll choose a few of your questions to ask when I sit down to talk with them!

Speaking of questions…

And now for my most favorite thing ever: I’m answering the questions I get through my search results. I haven’t done this in years, but I love it and I wanted another round.

Here’s how it works:

When you type words into a search engine, like Google, results will pop up. If you click on a blog that came up in those search results, then the writer of the blog will see the exact words (the search terms) that you typed into the search engine, which led you to their blog post. Bloggers get a whole long list of the “search term results” that led people to their site.

These search terms crack me up. Sometimes they make me sad. And lots of times they’re good questions that deserve to be answered!

Without further ado, here’s a lightening round of search term Q+A:

 

“List of names for a pit bull dog”

Hoagie

Francis

Snack Pack

Prince Harry

Grandma

Bagel

Garbanzo Bean

Tushie

 

What can I say, I like carbs and old people. And rear ends.

 

pit bull in car

I don’t care what you call me, as long as you call me! Ba dump bump ching!

 

 

“Dog licking its balls”

To clarify, are you looking for photos or advice? Or is that you’re so stressed out by that awful slurping noise, which distracts you while you try to write important emails, that you were looking for an online support group? Help me to help you. Also, here’s the best ball licking cartoon out there.

 

“Why my dog doesn’t stand up for himself.”

Because he’s waiting for you to do it.

 

“Is it bad to let a dog dictate its life to you?”

It depends. Do you have an app to record them telling you their life story or will you have to take the dictation by hand? Because I can’t write as fast as my dog talks, so it would be a bad call for me personally. But maybe you’re a court stenographer, in which case you have the necessary skills to record your dog’s epic stories of relentless ball licking and how they learned to stand up for themselves when other dogs made fun of them for being named Tushie.

 

 

“I am a dog owner in Ireland but hate people with multiple dogs that are not kept on leashes and cant control them.”

Matching! Except I’m in America. Let’s be pen pals!

 

 

“tradmil for dog practice and make metirial Punjab”

Terrific! I’ll see you at 7.

Wait, huh?

Did your dog tell you to write that?

 

I sure do miss you guys. Remember, tell me what you want me to ask the smart kids when I interview them. Put those questions right in the comments for me to read!

Oh, and if you want to be the first to know when the DINOS class will run, please sign up for updates here! I’ll only email you about class info…no spam, ever.

 

 

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How to Talk to Your Gynecologist About Euthanasia

If I tell someone that I work with dogs, it’s guaranteed that that person will ask me for advice about their dogs. This happens no matter where I am.

If I’m getting a massage, I get asked about house training problems. If I’m at the dentist, my hygienist wants to know how she can convince her mother not to be terrified of her pit bull (who is lovely, thank you very much). And when I’m at the gynecologist, my doctor is asking me about her elderly dog’s end of life issues.

Let me say this from years of experience with a variety of gynecologists who have nothing in common with one another except that they all like to talk to me about their dogs while they root around in my lady bits:

After someone’s had their hand in your vagina, it’s pretty easy to talk about euthanasia.

 

So there I was at my new doctor’s office, having never met her before, and she’s telling me about the wonderful dog her family adopted a few years ago from the animal shelter where I used to work. The dog, let’s call him Paps (ladies, are you with me here?), was pretty old now and had a whole host of expensive medical conditions.

His meds were running about $500 a month. My doc said she didn’t mind paying, even though that meant her family wouldn’t be able to afford a vacation this summer. She was really just so worried about her dog.

Was he ok? Was he suffering? Why didn’t she know if it was the right time to let him go?

Everyone kept telling her she’d “just know” when it was time.

 

photo credit: glamour magazine

photo credit: glamour magazine

 

Around this point in the conversation I wrapped that weird plastic sheet around me and sat up. “That’s not true for a lot of us. We don’t just know. Some dogs don’t magically tell us and we can’t figure it out, even though we love them. It’s ok if you don’t know.”

Tears. Hers.

She was relieved to know she wasn’t failing Paps.  Because you know what “you’ll know when it’s time” implies? That if you don’t know, then you suck at loving them.

Doc thought that if she didn’t know the answer to this seriously important question, then that meant she didn’t really know her dog. How awful is that? On top of being torn up that your dog is old and sick, now you have to question whether or not you’re a good dog owner because you don’t “just know”?

I know we mean well when we say this (I know I’ve said it in the past) and it is true that sometimes we do “just know.” But this common advice winds up not only failing, but hurting, a lot of good people.

So, why wasn’t he just passing away quietly in his sleep? Would that happen, she wondered?

Maybe. But with the level of medical care she was giving her dog, Paps, like so many of our pets, was receiving life-extending treatment. It’s not like the old days – for pets or humans. Today we treat a lot of conditions we couldn’t years ago and that means that both pets and people may get to experience a long period of old age. And with it comes full on decrepitude and peeing in our beds (when we’re sober). Which means we need to actively make a choice on their behalf.

So when is it the right time?, she asked.

I told her what so many people have told me over the 15 years I’ve been caring for their pets:

Waiting too long, because we can’t bear to let them go, often results in a shit-storm of guilt later. If we let our pets suffer, because we’re not ready to lose them, then months and years later we’re stuck with a lot of guilt about the unnecessary pain we put them through. Often, it’s better to err on the slightly too soon side, then the slightly too late side of things.

Disclaimer: When I say “soon”, I don’t mean that the minute they have an accident or sneeze or fall over we should rush to put them to sleep (if that were the case I would have sent Birdie to meet her maker – Charles Schulz, I think – about 4 years ago). I really mean when things are already quite serious and the end is near.

But how will I know?

I told her about the Quality of Life scale which would help her measure the, uh, quality, of her dog’s life. She was so relieved to know this existed and that she would have something to help her measure this seemingly immeasurable thing. She thanked me profusely.

Tears again. Both of us this time. And a hug.

Then she stuck her hand back up my hoo-ha and talked to me about my cervix.

Later that night, when she opened my email that shared a link to the Quality of Life scale, Doc was sitting in her sons’ room waiting for her boys to fall asleep. Her boys wanted to know why she was crying. It was because, thanks to the scale, she now realized that old Pap had some life left to enjoy.

And when the time comes for her to make that inevitable and excruciating choice for her family member, now she knew that she didn’t have to hope that she’d “just know.” She’d have some help.

End of life issues are so complicated. People shouldn’t have to hope that a dog walker with no filter and no shame comes into their office for a birth control refill just so they can get sound advice about when they should put their dog to sleep.

Instead let’s make a point to talk about the hard stuff. Leave out the judgement and shaming and let’s do everything we can to help our family, friends, and clients be better prepared, so that they can make choices that support real quality of life for both them and their pets.  And veterinarians, can you please do me a solid and make sure this Quality of Life scale (and hospice information) is easy to access? It’ll save me some weird moments next time I’m in stirrups at the doctor’s office. Many thanks.

 

weimaraner

 

Here are some resources about figuring out when it’s time, including the quality of life scale:

The “HHHHHMM” Quality of Life Scale by Dr. Alice Villalobos

Minimizing the stress of euthanasia by Dr. V of Pawcurious

How to say goodbye by Dr. Andy Roark (with other ways to measure quality of life)

 

And because I get asked about euthanasia for behavioral issues ALL the time, here are some wonderful, non-judgmental, realistic resources to help with that brutally painful and individual decision (really folks, we need to do a better job of openly talking about this too. I’ve had enough with the shaming and bullying around euthanasia. It’s not helping anyone when we go ALL CAPS about something as complex as this):

When is it time to put down a dog who is aggressive to people? by Patricia McConnell

When is it time to put a problem dog down? by Casey Lomonaco

Euthanizing Aggressive Dogs: Sometimes It’s the Best Choice by Phyllis DeGioia, editor Veterinary Partner and VetzInsight

The burden on euthanizing an aggressive dog by Mel of No Dog About It

Goodbye Huckleberry by Ana Poe – I read this years ago and it’s never left me. Such brave, compassionate, honest writing.

 

Searching For Answers: Lightning Round

Last year I decided to start giving search terms (one of my fave parts of blogging) a little love. You can see those posts here and here. 

Short version: you search for stuff on Google and results pop up. If you click on a blog that came up in the search results, then the writer of the blog will see the search terms you used to find their blog in the “search term results” of their blog’s back end.

I keep meaning to do another post with these nuggets of human gold, but man – life is hectic y’all. So let’s just do a lightning round. Ready, Set, Search!

Search terms you’d think have nothing to do with my blog, but you’d be wrong:



“Dog poops in house after tuba song”

“Men ride river rapid while balancing on log of bamboo

Steve Martin butt cheeks”

Governor peeing on plane”

Bitches be acting like they have rabies”
 

This has nothing to do with dogs. I just want people to start getting my blog when they search "Bill Murray and Hunter S. Thompson."

This is here because: 1. I want to see if people start getting my blog when they search “Bill Murray and Hunter S. Thompson.” 2. I want to be on that boat.

Fast answers to your burning searches:



“What kind of fences do dogs like?”: Bacon Flavored. 


“I’d like to put a lock on my wood gate”: Mazel Tov!


“My dog ran off today for 4 hours should I leash him from now on?”: Ayuh.


“Which dog breed has a skinny tongue?”: The Gene Simmons Fox Hound. You weirdo.


“What does it mean when two dogs show up out of nowhere?”: Ghosts! The Apocalypse! Aliens!

 

Searching for Answers: Pit Bull T-Shirts, French Bulldog Woes, and More Poop

The other week I decided to start giving search terms (one of my fave parts of blogging) their moment in the sun. If you missed it, here’s how this is gonna work.

Short version: you search for stuff on Google and a blog pops up in the search results. If you click on the post, then the writer of the blog will see the search terms you used to find their blog in the “search term results” of their blog’s back end.

The search terms are some funny stuff. And don’t worry – it’s anonymous. I’ll never know who searched “cannot commit to children and pets” and wound up on my blog. Not that I don’t have my suspicions. 

Anywhoozle, here are some goodies from the latest batch of search terms. Enjoy!

“Are there t-shirts designed to fit pit bulls?”

Aw yeah! Are there any other dogs on the planet that look better in clothes than pit bulls? This (clearly biased) lady thinks not. The fine folks over at Fit for a Pit agree and they know just how to cut a tee to fit our dogs. Behold:

fit for a pit tees

see all the tees here


p.s. I bet they’ll let you buy one of these sweet tees even if you don’t have a pit bull.



“Are French Bulldogs easy to train off lead?”

“We rescued a 2 year old French Bulldog. He beats up all dogs that come to our home. Can his behavior be corrected?”

“Do French Bulldogs have cellphone aggression?”

“My French Bulldog chokes on his own bile”

I like to imagine that all of these searches are coming from the same family and they’ve got one French Bulldog that’s driving them nuts.

Considering I’ve never written about French Bulldogs before I have no idea why this poor family winds up on my blog every time they search for answers about this piece of work dog of theirs. But they keep landing here, so allow me to take a swing at this:

1. “Are French Bulldogs easy to train off lead?” Depends. How good a trainer are you? No matter what breed your dog may be, just know that it’ll take time to build up a reliable recall (even if you’re a pro and your dog is made of genius) which is a key factor in allowing a dog off lead. And even if they have a great recall, always obey leash laws. No excuses.

2. “We rescued a 2 year old French Bulldog. He beats up all dogs that come to our home. Can his behavior be corrected?” Yes, you can stop bringing strange dogs into his home. Unless your house is a bus stop for hobo dogs and you are required by contract to let them wait for the bus in your living room. Then you might want to work with a trainer to help your dog feel more comfortable with all these hobo dogs entering his home. He may never like itthat’s ok and normal – but perhaps you can help him cope a bit better by giving him some new skills with the help of a professional trainer. In the meantime, manage him and the other dog by crating/gating/leashing, so everyone is safe and your dog can’t rehearse that naughty hooligan behavior.

3. “Do French Bulldogs have cellphone aggression?” Do French Bulldogs work in retail? If so, yes. They hate it when people talk on the phone while they’re trying to ring them up. But, if your dog isn’t in customer service, maybe he’s just freaked out by your Bell Biv DeVoe ring tone? (Get your BBD fix here.) One thing I know for sure: hating mobile devices isn’t a breed thing.

4. “My French Bulldog chokes on his own bile” Poor kid. He’s so worked up from all the hobo dogs talking on their cell phones while he’s busy working on his off leash recall, it’s no wonder he’s puking up his guts.

I hope your vet can help. That sounds like it’s no fun at all.


Final thoughts for this family (or any one else that thought their dog’s breed would make them immune to dog problems): French Bulldogs are hella cute. Hella hella hella cute. So lots of humans snatch up one of these four-legged smashed-faced yummy dumplings because it’s pretty much impossible to resist these dogs. If you put a French Bulldog in front of me right now, I’d stuff it down my shirt and run.

But – hold on a sec, I’m getting up on my soapbox – no matter how cute or where you got them from, French Bulldogs are still dogs. They need training, management, and responsible ownership like any other dog. They’re also just as susceptible to regular dog problems, like leash reactivity, aggression, fear, and general in-need-of-basic-training glitches as any other dog.

That’s because there is NO breed on the planet that you can buy or rescue that will behave perfectly all the time and requires no effort on your part. It turns out that when you get a dog, costume changes are only like 1% of the real day-to-day shit. OK, maybe 3%. No matter what breed or mix your dog is, be prepared to train, manage, and help your dog succeed. Even if they’re hella cute, dogs still need you to do the work. It’s a partnership with a living being after all.

I have no idea if that rant applies to the specific family searching for help with their Frenchy, but I wanted to throw it in for good measure. Now on to the poop.


“Turkeys with wet dark poop”

This is what I get for putting “turkey” and “poop” in the same blog post. I have no one to blame but myself for this one. And now I’m starting to feel obligated to get educated on turkey care. Is there a Dancing with Turkeys book I should be reading? The Way of the Gobble?


That’s it for this week folks. I’ll see you on the back end of the blog!

 

Searching for Answers: Turkeys, Soft Poop, and Underage Dog Walkers

One of my most favorite things about having a blog (other than getting to hang out with you guys – seriously, thank you for being here gang!) is reading the search terms that lead people to my blog. For those of you who have better things to do with your time than hang out on the back end of a blog, search terms are the words that people plug into Google or other search engines. Sometimes the terms trigger my blog to pop up in the search results and then those poor innocent people are directed to my posts.


For example, here are a couple of common search terms that bring people to my blog:

“How to make flirt pole” or “Toy on a string for my dog” 

Then they get directed to this post. 

Makes sense right?


Here’s where the fun comes in: people plug in all kinds of oddball search terms that lead them to my blog, even though they’re clearly hoping for something non-dog related. Like:

“How much space do I give my girlfriend?” or “Tell that bitch to back off.” 


Then I get some that make me want to cry, like:

“My dog was killed by a loose dog” or “My dog got hit by a car and died in my arms.”  

These slay me.


But I also get a ton of questions in my search term results. It turns out that, in addition to typing in questions like:

“How do I get my dog to stop pulling?”

We’re also typing in our deep, dark, vulnerable questions, hoping that the Universe (aka Google) will guide us to the answers.


Questions like:

“Am I bad dog owner?” and “Does my dog hate me?”

And much more, much worse. Trust me.


Except it’s not Google/Universe getting the questions, it’s me. And every other blogger out there.

If you click on the blogs that pop up in your search results, then we’re the ones who see you in your most freaked out, desperate-for-answers moments.

Hi.


So I thought: What if I just answered the (anonymous) questions that lead people to my blog?

I feel like these questions and search engine terms deserve their moment in the sun. I’m gonna give it to them.



Here we go. Let’s start with a couple of funny search terms that have led people to my blog this week:


“Turkey Harness”

Do people walk their turkeys? It never occurred to me that they did. Are there TINOS out there? Do I need to start another website?

I don’t know where you get a turkey harness, but I do know that if a dog can get out of a harness, so can a turkey. So, to all you turkey wranglers out there, always use a carabiner for back up. Safety (gobble) first.

Why bother with a harness when turkeys can clearly drive themselves to town? (source)

Why bother with a harness when turkeys wearing cool headgear can drive themselves to town? (source)


“Don’t get mad when a girl cares too much. Worry when she stops caring.”

True that.  Except if caring too much means pulling a bunny boiler ala Fatal Attraction. In that case, go ahead and worry. Go ahead and call the cops actually.


And here are a couple of questions that people have plugged into the interwebz, hoping for answers:


“I have begun a dog walking business. But will people be surprised that I am a kid?”

Maybe. How young are we talking here? When you roll up to a new client’s house, how many wheels are on your bike? Do you have enough facial hair to convince them you’re not a 7th grader?

Depending on how slick your website is, some people will be really surprised that you’re not an adult. If, on the other hand, you made homemade fliers with construction paper and glitter, people might not be so shocked that you’re 10. And they might be fine with hiring a kid to walk their dog. Sometimes kids can be OK dog walkers. And they’re cheap too.

However, lots of families want to hire an adult that is a real pro and for good reason. You’re too young and too full of magic unicorn dust to understand liability issues, but sadly adults are not. Due to stuff like liability, geezers like us may prefer to hire someone that considers dog walking a full time profession and has significant dog handling experience under their belts.

They should know in advance that you’re not an adult.

I'd be surprised if this kid showed up to walk my dog. I'd also be time travelling. (source)

I’d be surprised if this kid showed up to walk my dog. I’d also be time travelling. (source)

Going forward, make it clear how old you are in your advertisements. It’s a waste of your time and theirs for you to show up for your first meeting and have them discover then that you’re 6. Plus, it’s gonna be super awkward. Especially when you have to excuse yourself mid-consultation to have a juice box and take a nap.

Also, be upfront about your handling skills when you’re talking to potential clients. Don’t overstate your skill level. Being a good dog walker – at any age – means recognizing how much people are relying on you being honest and trustworthy. Don’t get a relationship started in a lie (of omission). Admit your newbie-ness and get your feet wet by walking easy, laid back dogs. Or stuffed dogs on wheels.

Please recognize your limits kiddo, even if your clients do not. No one under 18 should be handling other people’s dogs who are fearful, aggressive, or reactive. If something goes wrong (it will) you need to be experienced, insured, and have access to a car or cab to get to a vet asap. Or be able to get yourself to the ER. There are some dogs that really are adults-only when it comes to taking them out in public.

Good luck in your new business. Be proud of who you are – you’re a hardworking kid that digs animals and wants to earn money providing a valiant (if not poop covered) service.  That’s exactly what some folks are looking for, so don’t be afraid to strut your wee stuff.

 

“How come my poop came out like soft serve yogurt?”

Dude. I know why it happens to your dogs (see this), but I’m so sorry you wound up on my blog when what you really need is WebMD or some other site that deals with human #2.  I want to help you, but after reading this page with one eye closed (just in case there were photos), I’m going to throw this one back at you and Google/Universe.



There are hundreds more. I purposely left out the sad ones this first time, but I’ll come back around and answer them sometime in the future. It seems like the people who are throwing those painful questions out into the universe are most in need of a little anonymous support.

Until then, keep asking questions. One day, you might just get an answer!