Archive for July, 2010

There’s a battle of wills raging in the Little Bear household.  Okay, it’s a quiet storm (we don’t want to traumatize the kids i.e. LB and The Cat), but it’s been rumbling on for about a year now.

Here’s the crux. I want another dog as a companion for LB – Other Half (OH) doesn’t.

He might correct me here as technically what he’s said is that he’d like another dog once we move to the ‘forever house’. Now as anyone with similar dreams of leaving the burbs and the 9-5 grind for a life in the country will know, it takes a little time to achieve. Failing a lottery win or six figure deal on my as yet unwritten book, realistically it’s some years off yet.

I want LB to have a friend while he’s still young enough to enjoy it!

It breaks my heart to see him looking so down when friends leave with their dogs.  After his birthday he really moped around after his beloved Poppy went home.  Just a few days ago a neighbour popped in with her Lab. Now Grace isn’t a ‘play with the youngster’ sort of dog. She tolerated him and they both played a companionable fetch in the garden as we sat and chatted. But I wouldn’t go as far as to say they were friendly. She even grumbled at him a few times for trying to steal her ball!

Yet LB was beside himself. He was so waggy and full of beans! He gave her a slightly wider berth after being told off but he still looked thrilled to bits to have her in his garden. Following her around and doing that goofy look he gets when he’s got company.

He was still looking for an errant tennis ball that had landed in the flower bed when they left.  He came racing indoors when he heard the front door shut and went nuts. He checked every room downstairs, double checked the garden and then raced up stairs to check the bedrooms. He poked his head over the edge of the bath (as if guests regularly take a dip on their way out) and he even looked under our bed for good measure! Resigned to the fact that they’d gone, he slumped on the sofa and grumbled (he lays there and woofs quietly to himself).  Poor Little Bear.

I do understand OH’s concerns and being the wonder he is, they’re about the dogs.  ‘What if,’ he argues, ‘we rescued a dog and we’re wrong? What if  LB doesn’t want a pal after all and we undo all the great work on his behaviour.  How terrible would it be to have to return a dog to a Rescue.’ And of course he has a point. 😦

But I know what’s right for my dog in the same way that I know when he’s hungry or bored or worried. Granted we’d have to pick the right dog but I’m convinced that he’d be happier with a companion. I feel it!

Hurrumph. That’s my equivalent of laying on the sofa and woofing to myself. 😦

Fingers and paws crossed that we find a compromise soon.

Any ideas/comments very welcome!

Little Bear and Molly laying in the long grass

Happiness is....friendship - Little Bear and Molly

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Barometer Bear

If it’s true what people say about ending up looking like you’re dog I’m in trouble.  In fact I’m in line for a beard and more hair in my ears than any clippers could cope with!  So I’m hoping that that old chestnut isn’t true. But it is true that people and dogs form incredibly close bonds.

This was brought home to me last night when I was caught by an attack of what Holly Go Lightly would call the mean reds.  A bit like the blues but grumpier, I huffed and puffed around the house and gave Other Half a hard time about the junk in his office (which to be fair is none of my business). Worth his weight in gold and with the patience of a saint he offered coffee and hugs and let the storm cloud rumble.

My bad mood might have gone on longer if we hadn’t suddenly noticed the look on LBs face.  Usually flat-out and snoring on the sofa of an evening he was sat right in front of me staring up into my face with an expression that was just a shade away from panic.  Eyes wide and ears flopped out to the side of his head he looked how I felt – miserable.

I slunk onto the floor and sat cross-legged as he scurried to fit himself into the hollow of my lap, his head on my tummy so that he could keep watching me.  This was his favourite spot as a puppy – a sort of leg bed to snuggle him on all sides but with the benefit of two free hands to tickle and stroke his head at the same time.

“Looks like we’ve got another B for him” said OH. “Barometer Bear.”

He’s right. LB had been my shadow all day and despite two lovely walks, had been quieter than usual. We’re not shouty types so there were no raised voices or cross words to upset him, just it appears my deteriorating mood in general.  Poor Little Bear.

The leg bed, two gravy bones (for LB not me!) and a game of fetch soon cheered us both up.  And of course, Other Half now has a great new line guaranteed to work every time “Lighten up Hun, you’re upsetting the dog!”

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Blue tongue Bear…

The lack of posts may be a give-away, but Other Half and I have been on holiday. We had a wonderful week exploring Dorset and Somerset and did it all dog free thanks to the excellent house, dog and cat sitting expertise of OH’s daughter and boyfriend.

Little Bear adores them both so we never worry about leaving him. That doesn’t mean of course that I don’t obsess for the first few days. I can’t help myself.

By day three of the trip I’d calmed my pants enough to not call daily just to check that they both still had four legs each and were eating their food.  I didn’t manage to stay completely dog free though. A friendly Lab in a crystal shop in Glastonbury was very obliging and let me give her a cuddle and our hotel at Lyme Regis had a resident Labradoodle who, I think out of sympathy, indulged me with a game of fetch on the lawn.

Doing the true tourist thing Other Half bought a postcard to send home. I added a quick PS along the side which said something like “Remember to kiss the kids from me!” The kids of course being LB and the cat.

The next day OH’s daughter called in fits of giggles.  The postcard had arrived and being as daft as we are, took it to LB to show him.  He apparently sniffed it all over as he does with all of the mail but then went into hyper drive when he got to the PS. Tail wagging he then proceeded to enthusiastically lick it until it most of the PS ink had disappeared!

Clever little (blue tongue) Bear.

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After two long weeks of antibiotics and medicine Little Bear is now fully recovered from the kennel cough. Although it was a mild dose he was pretty miserable bless him, mainly because he wasn’t able to socialise with other dogs or exert himself too much.  So walks in our favourite dog parks were replaced with solo walks at quiet times and the ball thrower had to be left at home. Add in a mini heat wave and you’ve got the perfect recipe for one miserable little schnauzer.

The lack of proper exercise also made him completely hyper at home too. We had to compensate with lots more playtime but with the vets instruction not to push it, it was impossible to wear him out physically so we had to just keep him occupied as best we could.

It reminded me of so many of the ‘problem dog shows’ like The Dog Whisperer and It’s me or the dog.   So many of the problems seem to be rooted in the lack of exercise people give their dogs.  I wonder how we’d behave if we were locked in the house for days at a time with nothing to do! 

I was amazed by a recent article on Chihuahuas in a well-known Dog magazine in which the British Chihuahua Club of Great Britain said that a run around the garden is quite enough exercise for them. Although they go on to say on their website that they will derive enormous enjoyment from outings on the lead, and lots of new sights and smells I was left with the feeling that the dogs were somehow being short-changed. 

They may be small and owners would obviously need to be sensitive to their physical limits, but dogs need stimulation.  Dogs, I’ve just learned thanks to the excellent ‘Inside a Dog’ by Alexandra Horowitz are naturally predisposed to neophilia – the love of new things.  So this explains why Little Bear is so interested in the other dogs stick, tennis ball, toy etc. 

So for a breed club to suggest that a run around the back yard is enough for a dog seems to give out the wrong message, especially considering the tendency for Chihuahuas to be bought as toys and accessories. I’m sure the advice is well-meaning but I think a stronger steer on the emotional needs of dogs is needed.

Little Bear knows two Chihuahuas.  The first is a feisty long-haired little lad who takes no prisoners.  LB barreled up to him in the field when he was a pup and was swiftly brought down a peg or two for a lack of manners. Needless to say they get on famously now. The second is a dainty little lady who  I swear can actually flutter her eyelashes. She did this to great effect on their first meeting and LB melted into a puddle of complete silliness. 

Here’s hoping that most responsible owners take the official advice with a pinch of common sense and take the time to enrich their dogs lives with new experiences and social time as well as trips around the garden!

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