Don’t walk your dog today!

Don’t walk your dog?

What on earth would possess me, the ‘owner’ of two high-energy terriers who LOVE and need to trot for miles and miles and miles, to recommend that?  Simply: better results.

OK. I’m not really saying we shouldn’t walk our dogs.  What I’m offering is the thought that we walk with our dogs, not for our dogs.

This shift in perspective can make a lot of the dog-walking challenges disappear.

Both Bossy and Bark can be very forward. Especially in an exciting, new park or trail or when we’re out on wet, smell-enriched ground.  As a puppy and despite a lot of very solid obedience skills, Bossy pulled so hard in these settings I was sure she was going to collapse her windpipe. She could snowplow her Gentle L headhalter right off her nose. And Bark can still–at three and half–do a 5 or 6 km walk with his nose on the ground, tracking one inch ahead of his leash.  Just lovely!

Yet when I walk with Bossy and Bark and lose myself in music, or let my mind wander through the challenges of my work, we start walking together.   The dogs just fall in at a my side.  We’ll travel as a unit. We all forget the leashes.

I change. Then they change.

But whenever my attention snaps back to them, I’ll feel them in my hands again.  We’ve fallen out of the zone.

I’m sure the secret is in my more focused, peaceful and happy energy. In my deeper and even breathing.  In the speed we can walk when I relax, let my arms swing naturally and just go.

When I’m in this zone, I’m a whole lot more interesting and easy-going.  I’m someone Bossy and Bark want to walk with, rather than someone they have to walk with.

So don’t walk your dog today.  Take yourself for a walk; bring your dog(s) along for company. Enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and use of your own body and mind.  Lose yourself and find your dogs.  See what happens when you forget about demanding respect. You might discover that you’re someone who can actually command it.

Terriers will teach us that if we can change, our dogs can change

Terriers–and dogs in general–are much more “plastic” than we are.

A speaker at a semi-recent national veterinary conference reported that canine personality (and related behavioural issues) is fixed by about three years of age. The implication was: if you haven’t ‘fixed’ your dog’s issues by then, forget about it.  Time to despair?  I don’t think so.

Bossy changed a lot between three and four. So I, for one, conclude this assertion is “bunk!”, to quote my colourful first-year sociology prof, Kunkel.  Of course, if I’d stayed stuck so would have Bossy.

What’s more, if I could’ve figured out faster what I was doing–or not doing– in the situations that stressed and challenged her, I could’ve helped her find her softness and stillness sooner than she did.

Freeing ourselves with the idea that behaviour is malleable is a key to improving all our relationships. After all, isn’t change–and not stasis–the real way of life? Let’s be tenacious on that thought.

Let’s be open to having a terrier teach us.

May is World Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Is Lyme Disease an occupational hazard for Terriers?

Terriers might be at higher risk of getting tick bites and Lyme than other breeds. Unlike many domestic dogs, they’re out “working” in tick country.

The Lyme infection (“bug”) can get the better of the most tenacious of us. While dogs are much less likely than people to contract Lyme if they’re bitten by a tick, they can still get it.  And the infection can make them very sick.  So don’t take risks for either of you.

Be on the look out for Lyme. Inspect your dog and yourself. Learn how to remove a tick safely.  If you suspect you’ve been bitten or find a bullseye rash, see your doctor as fast as you can.  Insist on a test and treat assuming you have Lyme.  Human tests aren’t as sensitive as those for our dogs so many infections are missed and later misdiagnosed after the easy treatment window has closed. A moderately short course of antibiotics very early in the infection could save you years of debilitating disease.

If you live in a community with a high incidence of Lyme, consider having your dog vaccinated. If you don’t, test for Lyme every year when you test for heartworm. Ask your vet about the “4-way snap test”. And, of course, invest in good tick and flee protection.

Lyme is not an over-hyped risk.  This blogger’s life was nearly destroyed by it.

Learn more about Lyme here: