Whole Dog Journal's Blog November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving with Dog People

Posted at 01:43PM - Comments: (8)

In my family, thanksgiving was always the big annual holiday.  We always had the usual family, friends, and food, but also lots of extended family – which includes dogs – and lots of dog-walks in the day and music at night.

Rosie, Woody, and my friend Mary's dogs

Happily, my sisters and I have carried on the tradition. My sister Susan has driven over from Colorado – no small feat – and dinner itself is being hosted by our other sister Pamela, who moved with her husband and their dogs to my town about a year and a half ago when her husband retired.

Sue is a little sad; she’s brought her (adult) daughter’s little long-haired Chihuahua, Riot, who is heading to a new home. Her daughter, like so many young adults, adopted the dog in her last year in college, but hasn’t found the time to properly care for and exercise the cute little dog while working to support herself “in the real world.” The inevitable house-training and problem barking ensued, and my niece actually had to move twice because her roommates were unhappy with the dog. She started leaving the dog more and more with my sister, who likes dogs but does not actually want to own one. My sister has felt sorry for Riot, but also resentful of being “stuck” with her so much, and pressed her daughter to rehome Riot, for Riot’s sake. 

The last time my sister visited here, we had breakfast with a friend of mine, who told Sue she knew someone who was looking for just the right little dog to join her family. Many months later, after innumerable texts, photos, and yesterday, an in-person interview, Riot is going to live in a new home here in my town, with a super nice older couple who live on a large piece of property where they farm oranges with their extended family. After all the time she’s spent with Riot, my sister is sad to see the dog leave, but she’s glad the cute little dog will have a more consistent, solid family with people who are always home and who LOVE dogs.

No one could love dogs more than my other sister, Pam. She and her husband have three: Daisy, a little rescue Jack Russell Terrier-mix; Dinah, one of my former fosters, a Chihuahua/Dachshund-mix; and Bo, a scruffy Schnauzer-mix. Last year, writing a blog post, I mentioned that Bo was about 10 years old. Some months ago, Bo’s original owner came to my sister’s house for dinner and to visit the dog, whom she left with my sister about four or five years ago, when her life was in turmoil. Pam was telling her about a series of small strokes that Bo had suffered; each one leaves him a little less sharp, but he’s still eating well, pottying outside appropriately, and going for (slow) walks with the “pack” each day. Pam said, “He’s still doing good for a 10-year-old dog!” The former owner said, “Pam, he’s 16!” She recounted the math:  She got the dog as a puppy for her son’s 10th birthday, and that son is 26 now… Well, Bo is getting a lot more respect now.

Out of respect to Pam’s much-more-senior-than-we-knew-dog, my own dogs (9-year-old Otto and 1-year-old Woody) and my guest dogs who will be in town will spend the actual Thanksgiving dinner-time at my house, or my office/house. My son is coming with his hound, Cole, and Woody will be overjoyed to have the chance to play fast and rough with his . . . cousin? uncle? I won’t try to describe that dog relationship in human terms; I’m no good at genealogy, ha ha.

Also hanging out at my house, but not for much longer, is Rosie, the five-month-old presumed Shepherd-mix, whom I’ve been working with daily for a few weeks, getting her ready for life with my sister-in-law and her 7-year-old daughter, Ava. Rosie is going to be Ava’s first “own” dog, and I’m going to have to hand it to myself on making a great match.

Rosie and Ava

I spotted Rosie in my local shelter’s kennels, and snapped her up the day she became available for adoption. She’s super friendly, happy to meet any dog or person with a wag, confident without being over-bold, and doesn’t seem to have any odd fears or phobias. She’s been in the accelerated class and learning fast what she may and may not chew on, and where she may and may not potty, and getting straight A’s. She walks more nicely on a leash than my dogs – perhaps because I’ve been working her more on the skill than I do with my dogs, hmmmm. She actually looks like a nice little obedience dog, walking smartly at my side looking up at me for clues as to when to stop and plop fast down into a sit. She spent six days with Ava and her mom when I was traveling for a conference, and bonded quickly with them. When I picked her up again when I got back, for more training, Ava’s mom texted me and said how much they missed her, immediately. They are taking her home for good the day after Thanksgiving, and I know she’s going to help that family feel a little more joyful, a little fuller, in the absence of my brother and his dog (both of who passed two years ago).

A rescue Boxer, also named Rosie, is one of our guest dogs; she belongs to my husband’s brother and his wife, who will join us for a few days of feasting and hiking with dogs. During one of last Thanksgiving’s hikes, my sister-in-law took a great photo of their Rosie and my Otto, and submitted it to a Boxer rescue group for their annual fundraising calendar. Otto and Rosie are the September 2017 dogs! http://www.zazzle.com/beautiful_boxers_2017_calendar-158195861511460764

I’m hoping for more great photos from this year’s hikes.

Joining us at the table on Thanksgiving day will be my friend Leonora and her husband. Leonora owns Samson, Woody’s tiny best friend, as well as two senior dogs. My friends and Samson will join us on our Thanksgiving day hike, but the seniors’ hiking days are over, alas. We’ll save them some turkey, instead. Leonora is currently fostering two adorable pit-mix puppies, about 7 weeks old now, for our local shelter.

Also fostering puppies for our shelter is my new friend Mary, who posted an ad on a neighborhood site a couple months ago looking for a playmate for her 1-year-old pit-mix dog, Izzy, and found me. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, she’ll have to tell me in a few weeks. On one hand, we’ve been taking lots of great hikes together with all of our dogs (she also owns a tiny Chihuahua/terrier-mix), but on the other hand, there’s this: When she asked me if there is anything she can ever help with at the shelter, I promptly set her up with a litter of five Lab-mix puppies, about 5 or 6 weeks old, to foster until they are old enough to be spayed/neutered and adopted. For now, she’s enjoying the wealth of puppy breath, and the puppy poop has not yet overwhelmed her, so I don’t think she’ll be shooting daggers at me across my sister’s Thanksgiving table.

Mary's foster puppies

I’ll be toting my camera on our walks, and visiting all the foster pups. I hope you all get out for a nice walk with your dogs, too! I’ll make a post on the WDJ Facebook page, and ask you to upload your Thanksgiving Day dog-walk photos there. Then we can all share how thankful we are to share our lives with dogs!

Comments (8)

Lovely post read.

Posted by: TerriJohnson | January 27, 2017 1:54 AM    Report this comment

I have a 4 year old intact chocolate lab that is having some problems lately. His whole disposition has changed. All he wants to do is get out of the back yard and run off. He has pretty much quit eating for the last two weeks and is dropping weight quickly. We have an appointment with the vet Monday for check up but I think it is the doe deer in the neighborhood that are in season. When we walk him he will freeze and bury his nose in the ground, sniffing and licking. There are no dogs in the neighborhood that are in heat that we know of. Something has him going crazy to get out and run off. He has slipped off a couple of times and we found him a mile away with his nose in the grass. Any help here? My wife want to have him neutered but I hate to do that at his age. Thank you in advance for any response that may shed light to my quandary.

Posted by: B. Back | November 25, 2016 11:52 AM    Report this comment

Response to UK about US early spaying/neutering. Not enough people will do the research about the health problems caused by early spaying/neutering. Their intention is good, trying to prevent over-population and unwanted dogs, but in the long run dogs suffer. Also, unfortunately, there are some veterinarians that will not educate owners and will do the procedure because that's what the owner wants or the vet hasn't done the research or doesn't agree with the research. I am one who waits til after first season and I am a believer in homeopathic treatments and natural diet for my dogs. I try to educate my dog owner friends so they will make a better, more informed decision, about the health of their dogs.

Posted by: vkyzar | November 25, 2016 10:06 AM    Report this comment

Hi Daisybeth...The trend in the US, although some of us (me included) are opposed (and as I understand it, there are some good reasons medically speaking as well) is to do it early, i.e. before adoption, to prevent more shelter dogs because people tend not to follow up and do it. When I adopted my Lali, being old-thought, I asked if I could have an extension granted because of my feelings...and it was given. I also had the spay done laproscopically so it was less painful and long a recuperation. There also is good thought on not waiting until a first season though too.

Posted by: robin r | November 24, 2016 12:14 PM    Report this comment

I started a dog rescue - 501c3- about 18 years ago. A bit more of 1,000 dogs have come through our house. Have the cremains of 72 that didn't make it to new homes. Too sick or injured. One is a little Chihuahua x Terrier that was found on a street corner in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She had a broken leg. She is one of the few I have not been able to part with, Champagne. She was guessed to be at an age that I celebrate her birth day on April 1st each year. This will be her 15th year. Someone left a pretty little white Chihuahua and her four puppies at the door of the pet ER in ABQ. After they called us we picked her up. After six hours later and every test we could do she passed away peacefully at 3 am. I kept one of her pups, Pandora. AKA Pandorable. Then I had a call from the shelter about dog they had to pull out from under a trailer in a not so nice neighborhood. They got her and her four puppies. Elin is a bit nippy. Made the Fed X driver dance. Placed all of the puppies rather quickly. She is about 12 years old now and adores my husband. I have an old watch that would be too expensive to repair so am going to have it made into a charm for her collar. After all she is our watch dog. We have two foster dogs with long stories. Skipper and Samuel Adams. Three others in a foster home. All seniors with health issues. Baby Girl (Bee Gee) a Chihuahua, Meeko deaf Shih Tzu and Momma Cass that we had to have her right eye removed and is almost blind in the other, Shih Tzu. Samuel Adams has graduated from obedience class and had gone through almost a year of agility training! I think he is the brightest dog we have ever had. Hyper active Min Pin (best guess) and Skipper is a delicate white Chihuahua found in a create on the side of the road with another dog we named Gilligan. Gilligan had to have his right leg amputated. So named as they were castaways. I had planned to retire from rescue at 20 years, but will not be likely that I will be able to give it another 2 years. We have done so much but not enough to prevent the euthanasia of the many of dogs and cats that do not find loving homes at the local shelter. Each of them have back stories, some will have a good ending. Most will not. Thanks giving to you and your families. And hugs to your pets and tail wags from mine.

Posted by: Judy Babcock | November 24, 2016 12:11 PM    Report this comment

I am in the U.K. where we wouldn't dream of neutering /spaying dogs until they are at least 6 months old - sometimes people prefer to wait until after 1st season or when the male dog us fully grown. Why do you do it so early in the USA?

Posted by: Daisybeth | November 24, 2016 11:34 AM    Report this comment

Happy Thanksgiving! What a lively crew you're hosting. :) My actual Thanksgiving day will be quiet with just my parents but then my nephew will arrive and the dogs will be ecstatic. He'll get here too late to come on our T-Day walk but tomorrow will be all about little boys and happy dogs as we head out in the rain to "discover a trail" (as he calls it). Plus leftovers.

Posted by: Chaosbean | November 24, 2016 10:03 AM    Report this comment

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family (two and four legged members).

Posted by: PJKutscher | November 24, 2016 9:57 AM    Report this comment

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