Is your terrier empathetic? Share a story that’s touched your heart.

We really need to come to our senses and embrace the emotional make-up of our dogs–especially terriers.  When we do, life with them just makes more sense. For everyone involved.

Bossy After The Storm

Many animals are ’empathic’.  Don’t believe me? Watch this amazing video presentation by Frans de Waal, acclaimed Dutch primatologist and ethologist, that aired originally on the TED network.  He provides evidence of empathy and compassion, reciprocity and fairness in the animal kingdom.  Turns out there’s proof empathy isn’t just for people. Now that’s an “idea worth spreading”, though good ‘dog people’ know it instinctively.

If you own any kind of terrier–a Cairn, a Border or a Pit Bull, for instance–you’ve seen empathy and plenty of it.  All dogs have it. But terriers seem to have more of it than most.  (See Terrier Logic # 12).

Terriers are emotional beings and can recognize, respond to and mirror our emotions.

When someone coughs or sneezes at my house, Bossy is right there checking on her person.  You OK?  Good. Now rub my belly.  When a golfer on TV rims a putt, both of my dogs console my husband after confirming he didn’t have a heart attack. More kisses.  And like most people, my dogs will snuggle in close when they know someone isn’t feeling well. I’m not leaving your side; I’ll stay here as long as you need me.

How does two-way empathy help us in handling our feisty terriers?  If we can change, our dogs can change.  And change usually starts in our hearts.

Is your terrier empathetic? Do you think terriers are more empathetic than other breeds you’ve lived with? Share your story about a terrier that’s touched your heart and shown you his.  Click on the comment bubble on the top right or write your story below.

Lyme Disease is more tenacious than a Master Earthdog

Many terrier owners are doing Earthdog Trials with their dogs this time of year.  You could be doing hunt-ups in long grasses, searching for hidden rats among the brush then WAITING as your dogs go to ground.  That’s on top of all the standing around you`ll be doing at the test site.

Somewhere along the way, a lyme-infected tick could hitch a ride–on you or your dog. So be on the lookout for ticks.   Recent reports say that 10% of black-legged ticks carry the bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) that`s responsible for Lyme Disease.

Lyme is officially on the rise in Canada, yet disease incidence numbers are probably grossly under-estimated.  While most dogs don’t get Lyme when they`re bitten by a tick, you`re much more like to become infected.  Be vigilant. Not all bites have a classic bullseye rash.

The Lyme Disease bacteria is formidable.  It’s tougher, smarter and way more tenacious than any Earthdog you`ll ever meet. Learn more and stay informed if you`re going to be out working with your Earthdog. Visit www.canlyme.com

Recent News on Lyme: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1215210–ticks-that-can-carry-lyme-disease-agent-spreading

Terriers are more than hypo-allergenic dogs

Why did you pick your terrier puppy?

Because it won’t make you sneeze or wheeze? Because it had a rep for being smart and feisty? Or because you didn’t want to fix your broken doorbell?

If you got a terrier mainly because it’s a small, hypoallergenic breed you may have gotten more than you bargained for.  I, for one, got great “value-added” for my dog investment dollar.

When most people meet me with my Border Terriers they comment on their size and ask if they shed. They definitely don’t ask about their intense hunting natures.  All except for Hamish’s Dad–a young Scottish transplant to Canada–who spotted my Borders hundreds of yards away as we walked towards him.                                       [He “knew all their Border tricks”.]

If you’re considering a terrier puppy, consider Terrier Logic:

  1. Respect yourself and respect others who respect themselves.                            Terrorize everyone else.
  2. Hunt until you drop.
  3. Love your human companion with all your heart, but…
  4. Keep the Terrier “You’re-Not-The-Boss-of-Me” Motto in mind.
  5. If it moves, get it.
  6. If it scares you, GET IT.
  7. If it scares your human companion, GET IT.
  8. Get it before it gets you.
  9. Remember that persistence usually pays off. And that…
  10. Your desires are directly proportional to your human’s. The more your human wants something, the more you should want it.
  11. Tune into every thought and feeling your human companion has.
  12. Live with passion.

Terriers are way more than small, cute and hypoallergenic dogs. They’re empathetic and intense dogs with strong prey drives.  They can be reactive, determined and indefatigable.

Terrier Logic #5: if it moves, get it

So, before you get a terrier puppy know what you’re really getting into.  Prioritize your needs and theirs. Terriers respond best to self-respecting, calm human companions who honour their independent, hunting natures.  Be realistic about how your personality will mesh with–or fuel–theirs.

If you chose a terrier puppy and are having some challenges, be optimistic. If you can change, they can change.  Match your dog’s persistence. And consider these 12 Rules of Terrier Logic and how they might be playing out in your relationship. Doing so might help get you through The Rough.

If you “own” a terrier and have him all figured out, congratulations.                                  Please add your Rules of Terrier Logic so we can share in your success.

On Burrs

Burrs happen. Suffering is (usually) optional.

I’ve had lots of practice with burrs.  I get into a lot of things.  Bossy and Bark find them  all the time and my mare grazed a paddock laden with burrs a few summers ago. Every day, until I trudged out with a wheel barrow and the will to tear every last of those dang plants out, she came in with a unicorn horn and a dreadlocked tail.  It took ages to get them out. Never to be cut out. Like a terrier’s beard.

Day after day. What to do?

Do the opposite of what comes naturally. Don’t hold the hair and pull the burrs out. Hold the burrs and pull the hair out.  It’s counter-intuitive. Yet it works for beards and manes and tails. And life.

When you’re on the hunt, burrs–and other sticky or prickly things–come with the terrain. Take hold of the problem and tease the good stuff out.

Just tease the good stuff out.

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:  http://canlyme.com