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Tag Archives: dog lovers

My Buddy (Kid Sister Sold Separately)

Our dogs follow us everywhere and are very much a part of our lives, so much so that I hardly even think about the awkward contortions I put my body through just to navigate the kitchen, walk down the hallway, or sleep.

better bed buddy

Any ’80s kids out there? Who remembers these lyrics? “My buddy. My buddy. Wherever I go he goes.” So that is why we started calling Sir Dylan buddy from time to time. And then we got him a little sister, and since she also sticks to us, and her older brother like velcro, she is Kid Sister.

Now for an ode to my dogs in pictures.

dogs holding hands

They are inseparable (Dylan left, MJ right)

My bed is not the only one they take over.

My bed is not the only one they take over.

They really don't even let me go to the bathroom alone.

They really don’t even let me go to the bathroom alone.

Dylan is my 55lb lap dog.

Dylan is my 55 lb lap dog.

Now if you have a dog, give him or her a big hug for the unconditional love you get. If you have an old My Buddy or Kid Sister…I don’t know, but that’s pretty cool.

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#5 Those Crazy Aussie Dog People

I’ve spent a week attempting to entertain with stories about my two delightfully loving, yet headstrong Australian shepherds.  Yet, I’ve only scratched the surface.  I’m sure more dog blog posts will come, but I recommend you go out and get an Aussie or two of your own so you can experience the joy for yourself and you will not need to live vicariously through me…because that’s a scary thought.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the day we brought Dylan home forever changed my world.  It wasn’t instantaneous, but crept over me slowly, like my little ninja MJ tends to do while we’re watching TV or trying to sleep.  These dogs opened my eyes to an unconditional love not often seen in people, unfortunately.  They have inspired me.

The world is a complicated place, unless you’re a dog.  People commit cruel acts towards one another all the time, but not dogs.  People judge one another, even when they don’t know each other.  Dogs tend to be accepting.  We can learn from dogs.

Dylan’s sire is a therapy dog with Delta certification.  He visits the elderly in nursing homes, and helps kids who have difficulty doing so to read.  Their intelligence and their loving and accepting demeanor often make Aussies a good breed for such  endeavors.

We see it in our dogs too. During a trip to Petsmart, a boy with special needs saw our dogs and came, practically running, towards them and plopped himself down on the floor in front of them.  Now if Robert or I sit on the floor by the dogs, they tackle us.  If we run, period, Dylan will attempt to bring us down.  They tend to get excited beyond control.

An attack might look like this…

…or this. (again, ignore the dates from our confused camera)

Not this time.  Both dogs remained calm and let that boy pet them and put his face close to theirs without them licking him or pushing him down.  They knew.  The boy’s father told us his son loves dogs and thanked us for letting him spend some time with them.  It was our pleasure, and the dogs’ pleasure too.  We could tell they were loving it.  They understood their boundaries, but they still got some lovin’ out of the deal.

We were able to bring the dogs with us to Christmas at my sister’s the year of my grand nephew’s first Christmas. He was at the age where he was using anything and everything to pull himself up, including Dylan’s long fur, which apparently was easy to grip onto.   As far as we knew, Dylan had never been around a small child like this before, and it was clear he was taken aback by the assault, but he somehow knew this child meant him no harm and he was not to retaliate in any way.  He suffered silently and bravely.

A few months ago I had a horrible day at work.  Honestly, I do not remember the details, but it was one of those emotionally draining days when one thing after another piles on (I’d probably been cussed out by a parent who was mad I gave her kid a zero for work she didn’t turn in or something equally unjustified in her eyes).  This was a day when I left as soon as my time was up for the day (I tend to stick around for at least an hour or so) and I fought back the tears during the drive home.

My homecoming routine is to set down all the work I have to bring home, let the dogs out of their crates, and take the dogs out back to potty.  Their routine is to attack me with love and music (they both sing), which means they jump up and rub on me. On this day, I let them out but denied them each their “welcome home, we love you Mommy” time.  I’d been holding those tears in and wanted to let them out quickly so I wouldn’t have a breakdown in the backyard.  Once back inside, I collapsed in a chair, placed my face into my hands and sobbed- we’re talking audible, body-shaking sobs- like I hadn’t in years.

At first the dogs stood back, tilting their heads as they watched.  MJ even seemed a bit scared at first.  Slowly each dog came to my side and nuzzled me until I looked up at them.  In that moment, MJ did her snarl which means she wants to make sure it’s ok to approach you, and both dogs placed their upper bodies in my lap, all at once.  It was a lot of dog to have in my lap.  They were sneezing their laughter sneezes and nuzzling me, and all the while their eyes expressed concern.  They weren’t sure what was wrong, but they wanted to fix it and let me know they loved me.  They do these actions often anyway, but there was something different about their approach and delicacy in the matter.

I recently read about an organization called the Heartland Alliance which uses therapy dogs to comfort victims in court when they need to testify.  For example, a young girl had to testify against her father who had sexually abused her.  A golden retriever had spent time with her getting her comfortable with what would come and was even able to be in the courtroom as she gave her testimony, apparently nuzzling the little girl when she paused for too long, to give her support.  With that dog’s help, the girl got through it and her father was locked away.  What an amazing story!

My husband and I have felt a pull to DO SOMETHING to help fight human trafficking, or to help the survivors.  One idea that keeps knocking around in my mind is the idea of therapy dogs.  We would love to have land, dogs, and a sort of “retreat” for survivors to come as part of their recovery.  I have no idea how to make that happen, but we’re believing that God does. Also, neither of us are counselors, but we believe if it’s meant to happen, everything and everyone we need will come together.

None of this would even seem an option today had we not adopted Dylan back in March of 2007.  His love, and MJ’s love inspire me.  They have all the qualities these survivors would need.  Acceptance, unconditional love, and hope.  These dogs display hope every moment of the day.

Those Crazy Aussie Dog People: Quatro

I guess dogs will be dogs.  When they are bad, are they really bad, or just operating on their instincts?  Sometimes it’s hard to be upset when they seem to think they’ve done something perhaps beyond acceptable, and possibly even treat-worthy.  Also, my Aussies are so cute I can never stay mad at them.  I cannot resist the wiggle.  I believe I’m what you can simply call a sucker, push-over, or puppy-whipped.

First, there is theft.  Am I saying it’s natural for dogs to want to steal?  Of course not- at least not in that sense- but they may get hungry from time to time, and well… let me go back to the beginning of this story.

The little girl next door was having a back yard birthday party and we had been invited, along with Dylan (this was the summer before we adopted MJ).  Dylan just loves children.  After all, children love pretty, fluffy doggies, so not only are they active targets, but they also are prone to fawn all over Dylan.  He was almost more the center of attention than the birthday girl at this party.  “Where’s Dylan? Come here Dylan. I want to play with Dylan. Can Dylan play on a swing?” could be heard in little voices all over the yard, and even on their back enclosed patio (I have no idea how he got in there).  Maybe he was caught up in the excitement, or maybe all the activity had simply left him famished, but as I was sitting in a lawn chair (having a surprisingly pleasant conversation with a couple who had discovered I was the teacher in whom’s class their son had just scraped by with a D), the half a hot dog I had been holding in my hand was gone, and a reddish furry flurry had just made a pass-by.  Yes, I had fallen victim to a run-by hotdog snatch by my own lousy dog!  I wanted to be angry, but another part of me just wanted a slow motion instant replay because I was impressed that he had managed to steal the wiener without actually touching me at all.  Mad skills, right?

Second, we have assault and battery.

A few months later, the little girl next door had a girl scout sleepover.  Most of these girls had been at the birthday party and remembered Dylan.  Now, what I write next is the story as told by my husband because I regret not being a witness to this one.

It was early on a Sunday morning, not even light for long yet.  Kids never sleep at sleepovers and the scouts were already awake and playing outside next door.  Dylan, being a dog of routine and having a tiny bladder, needed to go outside.  Once the handsome dog’s presence was discovered, little girls were begging, “Oh, please let Dylan come play with us!”  In that moment, Robert was torn, knowing it was innocent enough, but not sure of the outcome.  He prefaced the play time with a warning: “Remember that you can’t run.  Dylan WILL chase you, so just stay calm.”

“We promise!” declared those little liars.  As soon as Dylan was free from the leash, he harmlessly jogged, perhaps a bit quickly and excitedly for a jog, over for play time, and every one of those little girls ran in different directions, screaming as they went.  I mentioned in the past Dylan’s breed’s skill set and instincts are to herd, right?  Imagine being a herding dog- it’s in your blood- and all the little “livestock” is running free in chaos.  Yep, Dylan ran literal circles around them to bring them in together, knocking some down and using the nipping technique as he went.  Robert described it as pandemonium, and as he retold the story, I could see his mind wandering back to the fateful scene, as if he now suffered from PTSD.  “One little girl fell down and cried out, ‘I’ve just been bitten by a dog.'”

No worries.  Everyone was fine.  No blood had been spilled, and we learned that Dylan enjoys herding girl scouts, even if they do not have any cookies for him (he loves cookies!).

The third issue is conspiracy.

MJ tends to be shy in social settings, so we weren’t sure how she would take to the dog park.  At first she stuck as close to her big brother as possible (she literally wants to be touching him when at all possible), just observing the other dogs.  Then she strayed from her brother’s protection and headed straight towards some largish mutts, challenging them.  This was all calculated as I could clearly see her making sure she knew exactly where her brother was first.  Once the other dogs began to chase her, she ran past her brother, whose attention was now piqued, and under a picnic bench she was still small enough to fit under, but the mutts were not. Obviously that slowed them down, and gave Dylan enough time to come to MJ’s defense.  She is smart and manipulative.  Since almost every other dog Dylan comes into contact with recognizes him as the alpha, the mutts backed off and MJ came out from hiding, and repeated a similar process a few more times.

The fourth crime is accessory to murder.

Ok, so not really murder, but a good crime of passion anyway, or maybe a bit more a case of domestic violence.  I’ve mentioned a few times how much Dylan loves his plush green squeaky spider we named Green.  Seriously, this dog has separation anxiety if he cannot find Green.  When the vacuum runs, Dylan needs Green; when the blender liquifies our smoothies, Dylan needs Green; when it’s bedtime, Dylan needs Green; for any uncertain situation, Green is there, in Dylan’s mouth, or laying close by.  Dylan and MJ play tug with Green sometimes, and now Green is missing a few appendages. Sometimes Daddy and Dylan play tug with Green, and he’s required a few surgeries.  Dylan’s love of Green makes what I witnessed one day seem impossible.  Every time I see Dylan with Green, the song, “Happy Together” plays in my head, so why would I find Dylan holding Green down between his paws as he ripped stuffing out of Green’s neck by use of his teeth?  It was horrible, and I was almost too late to stop it.  At the last possible second, as I called out to Dylan from across the room, and ran in what seemed like bad slow motion in a B movie, he stopped, looked up at me and whimpered.  “Mommy!  I’m so sorry.  I don’t know what came over me, but can you save my friend?”  No, I didn’t actually hear him say that aloud (I’m not really crazy), but it was clear in his eyes.

With a needle and thread that sort of matched the correct shade of Green, I went to work on saving Green, forcing as much stuffing as I could back into the oozing wound.  Dylan paced like an expecting father in the waiting room in those old shows and movies when men weren’t allowed in the room during childbirth.  He whimpered and cried out.  He even came and tried to pry Green from my hands a few times.  Finally, Green was repaired and the two old friends were reunited.

I’d like to tell you that Green and Dylan have lived happily ever after, and they sort of have, except we are now on the fourth Green.

Still, I don’t always understand why my dogs do what they do, but I know by their happy faces that their intentions are never to do harm.  They may just get carried away in the moment.  You cannot look an Aussie is the face and see anything but joy and love, unless it’s guilt brought on by some misunderstanding.

Those Crazy Aussie Dog People: Part II

The star of today’s show is Sir Dylan.  You may remember his rump from yesterday’s post (that’s usually the part dogs meet first, right?). Today, here is his handsome mug for your viewing pleasure:

Dylan enjoys peanut butter, long walks anywhere on a leash, cuddling, barking at squirrels, Mommy and Daddy time, and his best friend Green.

Ignore the date- the camera lies.

The day we bought Dylan changed the course of the rest of my life.  Due to health issues in his original people family, Dylan had been “returned” to a breeder (Heavensent Aussies) in connection with the Buckingham Ranch, where he was born.  By this time he was alomst 1 1/2 and was a discount dog because of all this.  We arranged to look at a litter of puppies, but had been informed he would be there too.  I don’t remember even looking at those puppies once we arrived.  We met Dylan, took care of the financials and paperwork, and were on our way with our new dog.

It all happened so fast.  As we walked our new dog to the car, I remember freaking out a bit.  After all, with dog ownership comes great responsibility.  I could only guess this was the feeling new parents get when taking home their baby for the first time. Now I know you are shaking your head at this if you are a parent- probably laughing too- but it’s the closest thing I know.

I wanted Robert to have a dog and I was going along with it.  I knew little about taking care of a dog and was terrified.  I had been a cat person because they were easy.  Food. Litter box. Clean litter box. Done.  A dog would demand my time and attention, which I had little of as a first year teacher.  As I watched Dylan leap excitedly and unquestioningly into the back seat of the car, I was panicked.  He seemed ok with the whole thing, but I wasn’t sure I was…and I had to sit in the back seat with him in order to keep him from climbing up on us in the front seat.

We had purchased a crate, which Dylan was to sleep in at night and stay in when we went to work.  The crate was in the living room and our bedroom was far down at the end of the hallway, around a corner even.  Still, we could hear him crying all night long. Determined for Dylan to get used to sleeping in that crate, Robert even spent the first night sleeping next to him on the floor.  After that we tried earplugs at night because Robert couldn’t sleep on the tile floor every night.  A month or so of this must have gone by before I realized it made more sense for Dylan to be free to roam at night since Robert tended to be gone at least a few nights each week.  After all, dogs are protectors, but he couldn’t protect me while locked in a crate.  That was phase one for Dylan getting his way.

Phase two came one day when I wasn’t feeling well.  I had a mind-numbing, vomit-inducing headache, so I went to bed to nap in the darkness.  After a while, Robert realized Dylan was not with him. As he approached the bedroom, there was Dylan, curled up right next to me…on the bed!  After that, the rules about not getting on the furniture no longer existed.  He won us over with love and devotion.  Once we also had MJ we had to upgrade from a double to a king.  Heck, there were cold nights when even the cat slept on the bed with all of us, and she hates the dogs.

Dylan’s protective and loving nature helped us form a quick bond, and learning how to care for him became easy.  Love has a way of working itself out.  Even as I type this, Dylan’s head is resting on my foot while he sleeps, ears twitching and all.  It’s hard to remember that time over five years ago when I couldn’t imagine bonding with this guy, because now I cannot imagine NOT having this love.