Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sophie has come a long way

in 2008 I was found in Gatineau by Hopeful hearts. My first adopted family became my forever home. I read this and cant imagine how far I have come since those dark days.


Sophie is a sweet little spaniel cross, about 7-8 yrs old, who came to Hopeful Hearts with the help of a caring group outside of Ottawa. She is a sweet little darling who is coming into her own very nicely although when she was found, she was a complete wreck. Sophie will be having her spay in early January due to just finishing a heat and her teeth will be taken care of at the same time. Sophie does have mammary tumors but these will be examined during her surgery for any hint of cancer and if so, removed. Sophie is a darling little girl who is currently settling in very well in her very loving foster home and would like to one day have a family to call her own.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dogs as teachers

Many of you misunderstand us dogs. You think that all you have to do is feed us, or take us for a walk and we have no real purpose other than to please you. If you think that, I am sorry because we are sent here to teach you. Yes teach you. Both of us are writing this blog!

My name is Sophie and most of my life was lived in fear and I was abused. A hand to me meant someone would strike me and I often cowered and screamed. 2 years ago, my life changed when I began to live with Karine and Cyril. Oh I was afraid, and yes I squealed but after almost two years I trust, and I look forward to being kissed and cuddled. I love having my own beds and being valued. I came with the gift of love. I taught Karine and Cyril that I loved them and that meant that I trusted them with my life. I am always happy to see them but more importantly I am deeply grateful for my new life and the faith they showed in me. You see, they showed me faith and patience and I rewarded them with love. My gift is to show love and gratitude. Even the neighbours see it and claim I shine like the sun with happiness. I show people that it is possible to be happy even if you have a bad start in life and a lot of painful memories.

My name is Bubba and in truth I am not really a dog. I have a dog's body but my mind is far above most of my kind. I seem to have an uncanny ability to sense things and to communicate. Karine and Cyril understand this. I can tell if someone needs my attention and I worry for people. I really do. Life for me is not just about treats and walks. I love Sophie but honestly, brains???? Life for me is only meaningful when in service. I am only truly happy when I am assisting other people, be it in hospitals or stopping to chat with the elderly on my street. My gift, my lesson, is the gift of service.

So next time you see a dog, don't see it just as a 'dog' but rather a little furry teacher with a unique and special gift to teach you. Trust us, it will make you a better human!

Bubba and Sophie

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hallowe'en approaches

Hallowe'en can be a lot of fun for adults and children alike. My mother, Karine loves it and loves to dress up, as you can see she even has accomplices for her pleasure. As fun as Hallowe'en is there are a lot of dangers for us dogs.

The first is that people come to the door with sticks and masks and guns. I don't know about you, but my basic watchdog 101 course has told me, that people coming to the door with a gun and a bag...means trouble, so I will bark. I don't know if it is a real threat or not, so the entire night I am worried. I hope Karine gives me some herbal relaxing medicine or even puts me in the study while this is going on. It is very stressful for us!

The second problem with Hallowe'en is the treats. This is more applicable to Sophie who loves food. Hallowe'en treats, the chocolates especially are poisonous to us. Keep them away from us! They taste good, we will over indulge but unlike you, we might die or get seriously ill!

The third problem with Hallowe'en from a dog's point of view is the door that opens and closes...if I perceive a serious threat I will run out the door! I don't know who or what I will meet out there! Vampires, dog killers, wild is pretty scary out there with flaming pumpkins, ghostly sounds and hoards of costumed invaders with weapons.

Enjoy Hallowe'en but think of us too. Keep us safe!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dogs in Church

Today Sophie and Bubba attended a blessing of the animals service at Mt. Calvary church. Bubba has been to church before and sat on a pew and slept through most of the service, peering on occasion to see what new dogs entered the church. Bubba is like many church goers, he goes for the social interaction.

Sophie on the other hand was fascinated. She sat beside me on the pew and watched everything. She was fascinated as Duffy did the service with her huge malamute beside her. Sophie found Jack the malamute very handsome. Sophie enjoyed the music but did not sing but was especially pleased because church has treats. Not only music but treats and food and a chance to interact again.

For the most part, the dogs were very good. At first they were uncertain and gradually as the service went on the dogs calmed down. The choice of hymns and psalms no doubt assisted!

Sophie received her blessing with the help of a cookie, and Bubba assisted a rather nervous little daschund to calm down. Bubba is such a relaxed little soul that he can calm down the most tense and anxious of situations!

There were pugs, hounds, daschunds, little miniature poodles, malamutes, corgies and other assorted dogs including lhasa apsos!

Sophie was excited to be in church. It was new, it was welcoming. She found the pew a little narrow but managed. She loved the fellowship and especially the lemon cake. Sophie is very fond of lemon cakes. Bubba refused all dog treats but did condescend to nibble on a maple cookie and partake of some lemon cake.

The idea of the service was to bless the animals and to allow us to thank God for letting us share our lives with them but I think that animals could have a much larger role in church. It was not only Sophie who enjoyed fellowship but so did the people. Having a dog relaxes people and gives them other things to chat about than the weather or their health concerns. Dogs lift us out of the mundane and show us that there is a big bright world out there as Sophie will tell you. The world is full of people to meet, things to discover, and of course lemon cake.

Why not have services where dogs are allowed? I am sure it would bring many people to church, some lonely and others who would appreciate the soft touch of a furry paw on a Sunday morning.

Sophie has told me that she would gladly join a church, as long as there are treats, good music and people...count her in!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The perils of good looks

Most women glow when complimented and told they are pretty! When I am told how pretty I am I have to admit I smile inside but I know my beauty came at a terrible price!

I spent the better part of my life in a dank and dingy place forced to breed because my captors thought I would make cute puppies. I finally escaped, I don't remember how that happened. All I remember was I was in a lot of pain and was not used to walking so my legs hurt a lot. I was terrified of people and lunged at them. I was all matted with tumors and rotted teeth. No one wanted me and I could not explain to them that I really was a good girl! Thankfully, I was found by Amanda who contacted Hopeful Hearts who got me connected with Karine and Cyril. I was to be 'fostered' but they adopted me and had my tumors removed and my teeth fixed. I was pain free and had a great smile to boot!

That was about two years ago. I am a new dog today, happy, no more pain when I walk, tumor free and I accept people. However whenever I hear "What a beautiful dog" I smile, but I also shudder a little. I was abused because of my pretty face. What is beauty anyways?

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy compliments but compliment me on my behaviour or my calm temperament rather than something so shallow, and in my case do destructive as my 'looks'. If you are thinking of living with a dog, remember we are MUCH more than a pretty face!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What a new Haircut can do! Hooray for short hair!

As a long haired dog, I have spent most of my time worried about my hair. I like when it flys in the wind, but it gets tangled in weeds, or snow gets in my toes, it is very hard to keep up. It gets matted, I worried about sticks and bugs, it was constant chore!

When I was younger my hair was pulled a lot and it hurt and now at 10 years of age, I have decided that no one is going to comb my hair. My Mom tried by feeding me treats but I know it will hurt.

My Mom took me to a groomer and they shaved my hair. Yep, I look like a labrador puppy...fuzzy and short haired. At first I was in shock...I was used to my long hair, it gave me a certain look of mystery...of auburn beauty. Once I left the groomer I waited until my Mom saw me. She was thrilled.

I look younger, I am more energetic and I can let my Mom cuddle me. I am no longer afraid and I have come to really enjoy being stroked and caressed. I always wanted to be affectionate but was so afraid of having my hair pulled, it stopped me. I now walk with a bounce in my step, people think I am a puppy. A lady never tells her real age but I am about 10 years no puppy!

If you have never experienced the freedom of having your long draggy hair cut, trust me it is a life changing experience. With my new short cut, I am really a new dog. I have gone from being fearful to affectionate and sweet. I have become the dog I always knew I was.

I would have cut my own hair but I can't hold a pair of scissors in my paw and I have no idea how to use a shaver.

There is nothing like a trip to the hairdresser to make me feel like a new woman!

Heatwaves and dogs,,,calling all people!!!

These past few days have been so hot that my mother has not taken me on any meaningful walks. I don't blame her, I have a short nose and find the heat and humidity too much for me.

I hope that other humans are sensible. We dog's don't sweat apart from our feet and the only way we keep cool is by panting. Try panting sometimes, it works but in the high humidity is not efficient.

I am a Tibetan watchdog and I am genetically bred for the mountains of Tibet. This heat is better suited for a Mexican dog...those Taco bell know hairless....

If you are hot, think of how we feel!! Always carry cool water for us...and lots of it. (I like a slight hint of lemon in mine!) and make sure that we don't walk too far even though we may want to. The backyard is just fine when it is 40 degrees.

As I write this I am lying down on the floor..even my bed is too hot. My house is air conditioned but I blame my heat intolerance on my genetic background and Tibetan bloodline. I am a mountain explorer...I am not a sun worshiper who wears cool shades and sits by the pool all day.

Talk to you later!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The joys of summer from my perspective

Summer is a wonderful time for me. As a dog, I get to experience a myriad of new smells, there is always grass to roll in and if I am lucky I can roll in on a pile of decomposing matter. My mother gets extremely upset when I do this, and once had to hose me down in a strangers garden. I can't fathom the reason. My sense of smell is so superior to hers and I can assure you that 'eau de dead animal' is a much nicer smell with far more character than your human scents.

One of my great joys is the outdoor markets, in particular the Main Street Market. This Market was designed by dogs I swear! It is large and spacious, none of the crowding I have seen in other markets. This gives us time to socialize and if I want, I can avoid certain dogs who got up on the wrong side of the bed. The human vendors are very well trained and give me treats. It is outside and I am always admired. The humans and their children are all trained to admire and appreciate dogs!

If that is not enough, there is a very large field outside of the market behind St. Paul University. My mother was a student there and speaks fondly of the fields and the peaceful atmosphere. She is right, it is a great place to run and meet other dogs. It is about the size of a soccer pitch and as I run, I feel like a superstar as my ears flap in the breeze and I charge around.

This is a perfect Saturday morning for me! My Dad takes me to the experimental farm where he leads volunteer teams and catalogues trees. I am an expert in trees! He is responsible for one section and lets us loose. What a lot of fun to watch the ducks. Sophie checks out for food. We also go to the Fletcher wildlife garden. It is really beautiful. We have a beautiful garden at home but Sophie and I love the Fletcher gardens!

It seems that when the sun is shining (But not too hot for me!) the humans take their dogs out a lot more and I always make new friends in the summer. There is no ice or salt to freeze my toes and I love the smell of linden blossoms and trees that greet my nose. I am not a beagle but why should they get all the glory for their noses! We Lhasa Apso's have brains, looks and a nose!

My sister Sophie enjoys outdoor BBQ's especially when Granmere is visiting. She always gives us lots of BBQ chicken and treats. I think Sophie loves food more than anything else in the world. She is a sweet but simple soul.

My work is going very well. I can see results and bring a lot of joy to the people I visit. I am told that the people I visit have Alzheimer's but to me they are just people and I can sense that they need my soft fur and little kisses more than most people. They seem to enjoy looking into my deep brown eyes and they always smile and talk. We dogs don't distinguish between dogs but I have noticed that you humans attach labels to others. I think this is a mistake. We are much happier when we open up to others and don't judge.

Since I cannot type, I have dictated this letter to my mother in the hopes that those of you who have dogs will appreciate what I have to say.

Kisses from Bubba

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dog walkers...Caveat Canis!

Yesterday I was reminded of how important it is to teach your dog the 'come' command. I own two dogs and walk others but I never let any dog off leash unless I am 100% certain of their recall. It is safer for me and for the little dogs.

Today at a park I met a lady who had a fairly large dog pack of close to 15 dogs, all sizes and all colours and all off leash. One of them decided to follow me and my little client. Shout as she may the little dog did not listen. The little fellow was a very cute dog but had no recall whatsoever.

Eventually I concluded she would follow me and I left the park with the dog and approached the road I saw that she was not following us but had elicited the help of a total stranger to 'catch' the dog. I caught the little dog, calmed him down and gave him to the dog catcher.

Folks if you are thinking of a dog walker ask the following questions for your dog's sake:

1)How many dogs do you walk at a time?
2) What is your off leash policy?
3) What kind of restraints do you have in the car?
4) Are you or have you taken a course in pet first aid?
5) Does your dog know the 'come' command? If not get your little dog trained.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rules for small dog owners.

The bane of most dog parks and neighborhoods is not the snarling large breed dog, but almost always a yapping, aggressive pint sized terrorist, otherwise known as the 'small dog'. Small dogs have a terrible reputation. Every small dog that I have met is always lunging at its leash, or other people, or cowers and growls after a few minutes. The owners simply laugh when the dog lunges or behaves in unacceptably aggressive ways.

I am the owner of a small dog and a medium sized dog. The small dog, the Lhasa apso requires much more training and discipline then does my small retriever.

Yesterday, I was walking past the drug store and a small dog, looked a little bit like a cross between a Yorkshire terrier and a Pomeranian came charging out of the door, not on leash towards my two well behaved dogs. I chided the lady for not being able to control her dogs and told her her dog was aggressive. She denied it and said her dog simply did not like dogs on leashes.

My pack and I went to the pet store where she followed us, this time with her tiny terror in her arms.

The problem with small dogs is invariably their owners. They do not spend the time or the energy to train these dogs thinking they are cute or toys. As a result, they soon become unhappy, yappy and aggressive little creatures. You would not dream of not spending any time to train a large what makes small dog owners think they can simply unleash their terrorists on owners of well behaved dogs and on well behaved dogs.

My little dog is a therapy dog and for the most part pretty unflappable but he was taken aback when lunged and barked at.

Here are what I consider some very basic rules for small dog owners:

1) My small dog is not a toy, but a living breathing dog that I will treat with respect and dignity
2) I will train my dog in basic obedience and reprimand him or her if they become aggressive
3) When my dog is aggressive I will not pick it up and cuddle it, but remind it of its place in the world and of my place as the dog's owner.

As small dog owners we have a responsibility to change the bad reputation of small dogs by becoming responsible owners!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pack leaders and human misery

I have been enjoying watching episodes of the dog whisperer with my dogs. The show basically has one theme and that is in order for dogs to be well adjusted they need a pack leader. The leader is not a tyrant merely one that is consistent and worthy of respect. Without a pack leader, the dogs in the house set up their own rules, which are almost always disastrous. These dogs are aggressive, destructive, bolt at the doors and rush at strangers or other dogs. Some dogs even throw themselves on the floor and jerk their legs as if having a fit if they are not paid attention to. Many of Ceasar's clients are literal slaves to their furry house partners!

A dog with a pack leader is well adjusted, calm and able to interact with other dogs and other people. In other words, a good pet! Dogs have a complex system of social interaction and once they have a pack leader, they fit in very well. They then know what is expected of them and how to behave.

I have known many families who have no pack leader. The children watch videos and need to be coaxed to do something with the family. The parents barely speak to each other and the entire family is busily pursuing their own interests. Families such as these do not even gather to eat together, they snack and run. They do little, if anything 'together' and there is no negotiation. Like neurotic dogs, if they don't get their own way, the children whine (Bark) or misbehave until the parents capitulate. Like the badly adjusted mutts featured on Ceasar Milan's entertaining shows, the children have no clear leader and act out of fear, aggression and insecurity.

In any social group, we as humans need a pack leader. It is someone whom we respect and whose authority we defer to. It is someone who 'sets the tone'. In a family this is crucial as young children are learning how to behave around other children and adults. They learn their socialization skills mainly through their parents.

Ceasar Milan should expand his practice to include parents!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bubba replies

I am Bubba and for the past 6 years have lived with Karine and Cyril. Unlike most dogs, I am an intellectual and enjoy working. I work as a volunteer visiting Alzhiemers patients. It is very rewarding but exhausting work. Most of my patients have suffered many losses in their lives and I offer a warm touch and a few kisses. I am beloved where I work and some folks even sing songs to me. This is what I call a welcome!

Sophie moved in about a year ago. She is obsessed with food. Honestly, I just sit back and shake my head. I know my meal will come, and sometimes I have brunch instead of breakfast. Sophie is always trying to cuddle with me and within a week of moving in, tried to steal my bed.

I now volunteer twice a week for about an hour at a time. I would do it daily if I had a choice, but my driver has limited me to twice a week. My driver, is also my mom Karine.

While I am pretty wise, there are a few things about humans that elude me. The first is, what is their fascination with computers? The sun is shining, the snow is almost gone, and my mom is here typing my thoughts. I also want to know why I am not taken everywhere when my mom or dad use the car. I love cars! I wanted to be a race car driver but I cant reach the pedals. My last question about why cant they all get along. I watch the news at times with my mother and I am dismayed at the number of wars and conflicts. Dogs just dont do that. We say hello to all the other dogs. While I have heard of some doggie psychos who attack other smaller dogs in parks, I am pretty convinced that this condition was brought about by their environment, ie humans and not a genetic condition. If we dogs ran the world, there would be treats for all, and fights for none.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sophie the Finder

My name is Sophie and for many years I just survived. I did not really have a lot of joy in my life until I was adopted over a year ago by Cyril and Karine. I share my home with Bubba, the therapy and wonder dog. Sometimes it is really a pain sharing space with super dog. To show him who is boss I will sometimes put my nose on his back..just so he knows or give him a little slap when he comes back from work in a coat. Oh yes, Bubba the super dog works.

As for me, besides adoring my meals and a warm loving home, I have discovered a hidden talent that my mother finds charming. I can find things! Yesterday I found a silver ring while on a walk..but today I found a rabbit. I used to chase them but now I just pointed it out to my mom. It was nearly dark but I could see him... a frisky little brown thing that would make for a great chase. Somewhere in my brain my hunting background was awakened and on that darkened suburban street, I felt like Sophie the huntress. Yes I was Diana with her bow...only I was on a leash. I pointed out the rabbit and my mom was thrilled.

She came home and announced to my dad that I find things. I smiled smugly at the 'super dog' who was being warmed up by a blanket. I find things...yes you may work and win accolades and yes your wardrobe is a lot bigger than mine...but I find things!

Don't get me wrong, I love Bubba, but I want him to know I am more than just a pretty orange face!