Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day with the Dogs

Taking a break at Huffman Park
Happy Father's Day out there to all my Doggie Daddy friends. Hope you're enjoying the day. It is uncomfortably hot here and we stayed inside most of the day. When things cooled down this evening, Hubby and I took Jedi and Roxy to Huffman Park. It's not as big as Ed Austin Park, but it's closer to the house. Honestly, I don't think the dogs really care where we go; they just want to be out.

Jedi did much better today. There was some pulling, but none of the assitude we've had lately. Kids rode by on bikes and joggers ran past us with no reaction whatsoever. And Jedi barely even noticed the guys loudly playing basketball 10 feet from the path. Now we need to work on Roxy's pulling. sigh

Imagine this with two GSDs
I have fantasies of calmly walking my dogs on a tandem leash. I even have the leash! I bought it years ago, hoping I could walk Pepper and Logan together. Unfortunately, Pepper was just as difficult as Roxy. I felt sorry for poor Logan and gave up. I found the leash again a few months ago, but Roxy is such a spazz that I'm doubting it'll ever happen. And I'm starting to think the problem is me. Where's Cesar Millan when I need him?

So I want to close this post with a poem I found on Facebook. If the dogs had thumbs and a Facebook page, I'm sure they would have shared this with Hubby. -- K

To My Dad (a poem from the dog)

You feed me when I'm hungry,
You keep water in my dish,
You let me sleep on anything
Or in any place I wish.

You sometimes let me lick your hands,
Or even lick your face,
Despite the fact I've licked myself
In every private place.

You taught me how to come when called,
You taught me how to sit,
You always let me go outside
So I can take a shit.

You'll always have my loyalty,
Until the bitter end,
'Cause after all, it's plain to see,
You are a dog's best friend.

Happy Father's Day

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ed Austin Park

Jedi and I discovered a new park. Ed Austin Park is less than 10 minutes from the house and it's huge! There are baseball and soccer fields, several playgrounds, a skateboard park and a Senior Center -- all with plenty of parking, public toilets and lots trash cans for tossing poop bags. There's also a Frisbee golf course that weaves throughout the park. My favorite part is the paved walkway along the perimeter. This 1.75 mile path goes through the woods, around a couple ponds and past all the ball fields. It's really quite pretty and I didn't realize how far we had walk until I got home and my backside hurt. I guess those muscles haven't been used in a while! Jedi and I have been out to the park several times; this time I even took a few pictures. 

I'm committed to get more exercise for the both of us, and the park is much nicer than walking in our neighborhood. I don't have to worry about cars, stray dogs and disappearing sidewalks. There are always other people on the path, though it's far from being crowded. We encounter Frisbee golfers, other dog walkers, joggers, and people on bikes. These are all great distractions for training. Our walk follows a definite pattern: Jedi is an ass in the beginning, barking and lurching and pulling, making me wonder why we came out in the first place. Eventually he settles down and it turns into a nice walk. It seems that the time from "ass" to "OK" gets shorter and shorter with each visit. I'm hoping that the ass period will eventually disappear completely -- the sooner, the better! This adolescence thing really sucks.

While walking through Ed Austin Park we saw several signs announcing an off-leash dog park coming soon. There's a website listed on the sign, so I came home and looked it up. Apparently City Council just approved the addition of a dog park. I signed up for the online newsletter though I'm not quite sure how I feel about dog parks. We have one where I work and sometimes it seems more trouble than it's worth. I think a lot of that might be because the planning committee went out of their way to exclude animal control from the beginning. My partner and I has some ideas and were firmly told "Thanks, but no thanks" when we tried to share. Seriously! Don't get me wrong, it's a nice park and they did a good job, but there are some issues. For example, members must sign a contract with many rules that say "you will not do such and such." However, nothing is in place should somebody actually do "such and such." Now people are breaking the rules and the committee doesn't know what to do about it. I guess the committee just assumed people would follow the rules. Truth is, sometimes people don't feel that rules apply to them -- and that's why I have a job. Sadly I would have told them in the beginning, but . . . Anyway, I hope this dog park does better. It's close enough to home, maybe Jedi and I will join. But for now, we need to relax. It's been a long, hot day and Jedi and I need a nap. Hey! I think Jedi has started without me! Catch you later, -- K

Jedi after a long walk in the park

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jedi Goes to Work

Next Friday, June 21, is National Take Your Dog to Work Day. How cool is that? Apparently the ability to take your dog to work with you is a big deal. I have even seen a website advertising dog-friendly work places. Surprisingly, it's not just the mom and pop stores you would normally think of. I also found an online article that highlights ten dog-friendly workplaces, including Google and Ben & Jerry's.

One of the perks of my job is that I don't need to wait for a special day. I often bring Jedi to work on Sundays. He'll stay for about half a day then hubby will come and pick him up before he becomes overwhelmed. It's nice having Jedi ride around in the truck with me. He keeps me company and helps pass the time. He has even helped me with calls! One day there was a guy with a poodle that had gotten off its leash. Every time the guy would try to grab the poodle it would run just outside of his reach. The poodle thought this was a great game; the owner not so much. The dog wouldn't come to me either, so I came up with an idea: let's play a different game. I pulled Jedi out of the truck and asked the man to pet my dog while ignoring his. We made a big show fawning over Jedi and gave him several cookies (Jedi liked this game). Pretty soon the poodle came over to see what was going on and we snatched him up. Game over Curly!

Normally Sundays are pretty slow around here -- but not yesterday! I checked on and immediately had back to back calls. The dispatcher offered to watch Jedi while I chased wayward dogs. Jedi didn't like staying at the station while I was on a call. He whined and paced and looked for me. The dispatcher thought it was so funny that she took pictures and posted them on Facebook under the heading "Where's Mommy?"


I was back within the hour and we spent the rest of the morning patrolling the city and writing reports. It was pretty uneventful. I'm glad I had Jedi by my side. -- K

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Rain, Rain Go Away!

Tropical storm Andrea has really messed up our routine. It has rained for several days now. The dogs don't want to go outside and their playing inside has knocked over too much furniture. Jedi is tired of fetching down the hall. Everybody is on edge. Roxy has started snapping at Jedi. I'm frustrated. Today is my day off. Normally we go hiking on Thursdays but it's too wet for that. What's a dog to do? Hubby had an idea -- a pet shop tour! We loaded the dogs into the SUV and headed off for three stores we don't normally frequent.
Oh no he didn't! sigh. He did.

Our first stop was Petco. It's only 10 minutes from the house but Roxy whined the whole way. Jedi was an ass and barked at everybody in the store. He also took a dump in the dog food aisle. (I swear Roxy laughed because it wasn't her this time!) Hubby was ready to stop the trip right then! I took a shaming picture, picked up the poo, and convinced Hubby to soldier on. We walked around the store, looked at toys and treats, and the dogs eventually calmed down. I didn't see anything interesting, and remembered why we don't shop at Petco. The dogs got a small jerky treat and we headed off to the next store.

Our next stop was Petland. This is a tiny store in one of the newer strip malls. They had some interesting things we don't normally see at our regular pet store. Hubby spent most of the time talking to the resident blue and gold macaw. We picked up a toy for Hermione and a couple chewy treats for the dogs and headed toward the beach.

Not happy sitting in
the rain for a picture
Our final store was Pet Supermarket. By this point Jedi had stopped barking at strangers. We enjoyed wandering around looking at all the pet paraphernalia. Pet Supermarket has a lot of unusual stuff. I found a German shepherd training magazine that mentioned the bad habits of barking and digging right on the cover -- yeah, I bought it! Pet Supermarket has a nice bird section and we got some stuff for Hermione and Mr. Frodo. The cashier had sweet potato chews for the dogs. Roxy wouldn't take it (of course) but Jedi loved them so we bought a pack.
Jedi approved

We finished up the day with a cheeseburger at Sonic. The trip did it's job as both dogs are passed out on the floor. Yea! Hopefully Andrea will pass quickly and we can return to normal soon. If not, I have no idea what we'll do tomorrow. Any suggestions? -- K

Roxy and Jedi waiting (im)patiently for their cheeseburger

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Date With Cesar Millan

Last night Cesar Millan came to Jacksonville. I tried to get somebody -- anybody! -- to go with me but everyone was either busy or didn't have the money. I really didn't want to go alone. I'm a big fat chicken and I don't like to drive downtown at night. Finally I bit the bullet and bought a single ticket. I am so glad I did. It was awesome!!

I was surprised to discover that Cesar is really, really funny. The first hour he just lectured, and we laughed until it hurt. Anyone who has seen his show has probably heard most of what he said, though he was a lot more blunt in person. His animal impersonations are spot on and his American accent is hilarious.

Cesar talked a lot about energy, of course, but one thing he said really stuck out: "Humans are the only species that will follow an unstable leader." Energy is a difficult thing to describe, so he showed us an experiment he did with a dog, its owner, and a heart rate monitor. Wow.

Cesar also spoke about exercise. Yes, we all groaned, but he has a point. Another quote that really stood out: "Third world dogs may be skinny, but they don't have psychological problems." Maybe Cesar Millan can get me to do what Dr. Schwartz (my family doctor) can't -- get off my ass and go for a walk. Jedi would appreciate it!

The second half of the show was really amazing. Local rescue groups brought out some of their dogs and the audience got to watch Cesar work his magic right in front of our eyes. I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and bought a ticket. Sorry you couldn't come with me. Maybe next time? -- K

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dog Bites

One of my jobs as an animal control officer is to investigate dog bites. On the Health Department's bite report I'm required to annotate whether the bite was provoked or unprovoked. This bothers me because from the dogs' point of view all bites are provoked. It's my experience that the problem usually lies with the people. Granted, some dogs are just jerks and some are poorly socialized; but the biggest problem is that people -- especially children -- don't know how to read a dog. Most dogs will announce their intentions, but so many people don't "speak dog" and miss these clues. The result is often a dog bite. And in our litigious society, it rarely ends well for the dog.

Right now I'm putting together a presentation for the kids at the community center. I'm trying to come up with practical and kid-friendly tips on how to interact with a dog -- a kind of "How Not to Get Bit" thing. Do you have any ideas? I'll share what I come up with later, but for now I want to re-post something I found from the American Veterinary Medical Association. Hope you find it interesting. -- K

Dog Bites by the Numbers