My Favorite Quotes regarding Dogs:
"We got rid of the kids. The dog was allergic."
"Everyone needs a dog to adore him......and a cat
to bring him back to reality!"
"...this "difficult dog" is an intelligent dog who asks too many questions for the average trainer." - Suzanne Clothier, HARD TO TRAIN?
The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world - the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous...is his dog. (George Graham Vest)
"Old age means realizing you will never own all the dogs you wanted to." - Joe Gores
For a dog so majestic, every compliment is also an understatement. (Great Dane)
"Dogs may not be our whole lives, but they make our lives whole."
"My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am."
"Fostering harmony between the human and non-human animals of our world."
"Some people have Border Collies and go on to lead normal lives."
"To the world, you are one person, but to your dog, you are the world." -C. Swetnam
"Until one has
loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened."
While a bite from a small dog will never be as serious as a bite from a large one, it’s not correct to single out any one breed — such as pit bulls or Dobermans — as “the biters.” It’s a dog’s individual temperament, training and environment that matter, experts say.
“Even a Chihuahua can sink its little teeth into someone who is agitating it,” says Karen Spaulding, animal trainer for American Humane Association, an organization dedicated to preventing cruelty, abuse and neglect of children and animals.
Dog: A kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world's worship. Ambrose Bierce
"You may pass a thousand dogs, but you will always stop to admire the distinctive appearance and the friendly attitude of a well-bred Great Dane." (By Lina Basquett)
So my kids have twice as many legs as yours. They also potty-trained ten times as fast. You were saying. . . ? - CafePress.com
"Dogs are my favorite people." Jack O'Neill, Stargate SG1
"The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his
"Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful." -Ann Landers
"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face." -Ben Williams
"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself." -Josh Billings
"The average dog is a nicer person than the average person." -Andrew Rooney
"We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made." -M.Facklam
"Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate." -Sigmund Freud
"If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons." -James Thurber
"A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance and to turn around three times before lying down." -Robert Benchley
"I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult." -Rita Rudner
"Dogs need to sniff the ground; it's how they keep abreast of current events. The ground is a giant dog newspaper, containing all kinds of late-breaking dog news items, which, if they are especially urgent, are often continued in the next yard." -Dave Barry
"Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog." -Franklin P. Jones
"If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise." -Unknown
"Ever consider what they must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul ... chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!" -Anne Tyler
“Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened.” - Anatole France
"Pedigree is an indication of what a dog should do; conformation is the
appearance of what he could do; and performance is the result of what he really
can do!" - Jocelyn Brody, AKC Junior Handler
Dog Poems and Articles that I like:
"Discipline Is Love"
by Linda Decker
Written in tribute to Kay Guetzloff
For the good of your dog you must understand
That discipline and love go hand in hand.
It's easier by far to pamper your pet
Than constantly strive to teach him respect.
But puppies, like babies, all have to grow up
And deal with the world as dogs, not as pups.
So greater than love is the gift you can give
By teaching your dog the right way to live.
"The Gentle Giant"
Dane is a man's dog;
he is big, strong, and courageous.
The Great Dane is a
he is sensitive, gentle, and affectionate.
The Great Dane is a
he is cheerful, patient, and protective.
The Great Dane is God's
he is powerful, intelligent, and loving.
"Will You Help Me Unpack?"
Now that I'm home, bathed, settled and fed,
and all nicely tucked in my warm new bed,
I should unpack my baggage, lest I forget,
There is so much to carry, so much to regret...
Hmm...Yes there it is, right on top, let's first unpack Loneliness, Heartache and Loss,
And there by my leash hides Fear and hides Shame,
As I look on these things I tried so hard to leave,
I still have to unpack my baggage called Pain.
I loved them, the others, the ones who left me,
but I wasn't good enough for they didn't want me.
Will you add to my baggage? Will you help me unpack?
Or recoil from my things and take me right back?
Do you have the time to help me unpack?
To put away my baggage, and never repack?
I pray that you do, for I'm so tired you see,
But I do come with baggage — do you still want me?
Rules for Non-Pet Owners Who Visit and Like To Complain About Our Pets:
1. They live here. You don't.
2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the
furniture. (That's why they call it "fur"niture.)
3. I like my pets a lot better than most people.
4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter
who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.
Dogs and cats are better than kids...they eat less, don't ask for
money all the time, are easier to train, usually come when called,
never drive your car, don't hang out with drug-using friends, smoke or
drink, don't worry about having to buy the latest fashions, don't wear
your clothes, and don't need a gazillion dollars for college-and if
they get pregnant, you can sell the children.
is a Title Really?
Not just a brag,
Not just a stepping stone to a higher title,
Not just an adjunct to competitive scores.
A Title is a tribute to the dog that bears it, a way to honor the dog,
An ultimate memorial.
It will remain in record and in memory for about as long as anything
in this world can remain.
Few humans will do as well or better in that regard.
And though the dog himself doesn't know or care
that his achievements have been noted,
A Title says many things in the world of humans,
where such things count.
A Title says your dog was intelligent, and adaptable,
It says that your dog loved you enough
to do the things that pleased you,
however crazy they may have sometimes seemed.
And a Title says that you loved your dog,
That you loved to spend time with it because it was a good dog,
That you believed in it enough to give it yet another chance
when it failed,
And that, in the end, your faith was justified.
A Title proves that your dog inspired you to that special
relationship enjoyed by so few;
That in a world of disposable creatures,
This dog with a Title was greatly loved,
And loved greatly in return.
And when that dear short life is over,
The Title remains as a memorial of the finest kind,
The best you can give to a deserving friend,
Volumes of praise in one small set of initials before or after the name.
A Title is nothing less than love and respect, given and received
And permanently recorded.
Sandy Mowery - 1998
And finally, the #1 reason why God created Great Danes:
http://www.ginnie.com/DaDane161.shtml Ginnie Saunders
Love my master;
Thus I perfume myself with
This long-rotten mouse.
I lie belly-up
In the sunshine, happier than
You ever will be
Today I sniffed
Many dog behinds--I celebrate
By kissing your face.
I sound the alarm!
Paper boy--come to kill us all--
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!
I lift my leg and
Whiz on each bush.
Hello, Spot--Sniff this and weep
I sound the alarm!
Garbage man--come to kill us all--
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!
How do I love thee?
The ways are numberless as
My hairs on the rug.
I sound the alarm!
Mail carrier--come to kill us all--
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!
My human is home!
I am so ecstatic I have
Made a puddle
I sound the alarm!
Gardener--come to kill us all--
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!
I Hate my choke chain--
Look, world, they strangle me!
Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack!
Sleeping here, my chin
On your foot--no greater bliss--well,
Maybe catching mice
Look in my eyes and
Deny it. No human could
Love you as much I do
The cat is not all
Bad--she dots the neighborhood
With Tootsie Rolls
Dig under fence--why?
Because it's there. Because it's
There. Because it's there.
I am your best friend,
Now, always, and especially
When you are eating.
My owners' mood is
Romantic--I lie near their
Feet. I fart a big one.
When I am Old...
I shall wear Turquoise and soft gray sweatshirts...
and a bandana over my silver hair...
and I shall spend my Social Security Checks
on Sweet Wine and My Dogs...
and sit in my house on my well-worn chair,
and listen to my dog's breathing.
I will sneak out in the middle of a warm Summer night
and take my dogs for a run, if my old bones will allow...
and when people come to call,
I will smile and nod as I show them my dogs...
and talk of them and about them...
The Ones so Beloved of the Past
and the Ones so Beloved of Today....
I still will work hard cleaning after them
and mopping and feeding them
and whispering their names in a soft, loving way.
I will wear their gleaming drool on my throat like a jewel,
and I will be an embarrassment to all, and my family...
who have not yet found the peace in being free
to have dogs as your Best Friends....
These friends who always wait,
at any hour, for your footfall...
and eagerly jump to their feet out of a sound sleep,
to greet you as if you are a God.
With warm eyes full of adoring love
and hope that you will stay and hug their big, strong necks...
and kiss their dear sweet heads...
and whisper to them of your love and the
beautiful pleasure of their very special company....
I look in the Mirror...
and see I am getting old....
this is the kind of woman I am...
and have always been.
Loving dogs is easy, they are part of me,
accept me for who I am,
My dogs appreciate my presence in their lives...
When I am old this will be important to me...
you will understand when you are old....
and if you have dogs to love too.
Just a Dog
Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog."
Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog," but I did not once feel slighted.
Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog," and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.
If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you will probably understand phases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise."
"Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.
a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that
So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.
"Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.
hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog"
the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog." just smile,
because they "just don't understand."
How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb?
Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got our whole lives ahead of us, and you're inside worrying about a stupid burned out bulb?
Rottweiler: Make me.
Border Collie: Just one. And then I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code.
Dachshund: You know I can't reach that stupid lamp!
Lab: Oh, me, me!!!!! Pleeeeeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Huh? Can I? Pleeeeeeeeeze, please, please, please!
Boxer: Who cares? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark......
Irish Wolfhound: Can somebody else do it? I've got this hangover.....
Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? I'm sorry, but I don't see a light bulb!
Chihuahua: "We don't need no steeenking light bulb."
Australian Shepherd: First, I'll put all the light bulbs in a little circle...
Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.
Jack Russell Terrier: I'll just pop it in while I'm bouncing off the walls and furniture.
Poodle: I'll just blow in the Border Collie's ear and he'll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.
German Shepherd: I'll change it as soon as I've led these people from the dark, checked to make sure I haven't missed any, and make just one more perimeter patrol to see that no one has tried to take advantage of the situation.
Greyhound: It isn't moving. Who cares?
Great Dane: Does that mean I have to get off the couch?
Whippet: Ooo Ooo! I can jump up and get it! LOOK!! A rabbit! <dash>
-Dog Letters to God
Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one
When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it the same
Why are there cars named after the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang,
the colt, the stingray, and the rabbit, but not ONE named for a
dog? How often do you see a cougar riding around? We dogs love a nice ride! Would it be so hard to rename the 'Chrysler Eagle' the 'Chrysler Beagle'?
If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him,
is he still a bad dog?
We dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals,
whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID's, electromagnetic
energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths! What do humans understand?
More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.
When we get to the Pearly Gates, do we have to shake hands to get
in? Dear God,
Are there mailmen in Heaven? If there are, will I have to
May I have my testicles back?
Let me give you a list of just some of the things I must remember
to be a good dog: 1. I will not eat the cats' food before they eat it or after they throw
2. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc., just
because I like the way they smell. 3. I will not munch on "leftovers" in the kitty litter box; although they are tasty, they are not food.
4. The diaper pail is not a cookie jar.
5. The sofa is not a face towel; neither are Mom and Dad's laps.
6. The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.
7. My head does not belong in the refrigerator.
8. I will not bite the officer's hand when he reaches in for Mom's
driver's license and registration.
9. I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the
10. Sticking my nose into someone's crotch is not an acceptable way
of saying 'hello.' 11. I do not need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm lying under the coffee table.
12. I must shake the rainwater out of my fur before entering the
13. I will not throw up in the car.
14. I will not come in from outside and immediately drag my butt
across the carpet.
15. I will not sit in the middle of the living room and lick my
crotch when company is over.
16. The cat is not a squeaky toy; so when I play with him and he
Makes that noise, it's usually not a good thing.
If you can . . .
start the day without caffeine,
get going without pep pills,
always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
take criticism and blame without resentment
ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him,
resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
conquer tension without medical help,
relax without liquor,
sleep without the aid of drugs,
Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!
Before Show Dogs, I:
~Never had to fix liver for anything.
~Lived in the city, had extra money, and thought I was sane.
~Bought clothes for myself instead of for dog shows.
~Thought a tie was something a man wore around his neck.
~Didn't own a pooper scooper, grooming table, 5 crates, or 4 exercise pens.
~Thought a professional handler was an agent for a fighter.
~Thought a major was an officer in the Army.
~Never told my kids to sit and stay.
~Would come home from a party at 4 am, not leave for dog show then.
~Never worried about parasites or kennel cough.
~Never owed a Vet a dime.
~Had furniture without dog hair on it.
~Didn't worry about dog shows or whelping calendars.
~Had long hair and time to groom it.
~Thought "in season" referred to the latest fashion.
~Thought "bitch" was a swear word.
~Didn't worry if my skirts had pockets.
~Thought bait was used for fishing.
~Thought politics took place only in Washington.
~Thought a match was something used to light a fire.
~Had a phone bill I could afford.
~Thought if someone was "finished", he was six feet under.
You know you are a Great Dane owner when . . .
"If I Didn't Have
1. I could walk around the yard barefoot in safety.
2. My house could be carpeted instead of tiled and laminated.
3. All flat surfaces, clothing, furniture, and cars would be free of Dog hair.
4. When the doorbell rings, it wouldn't sound like the NCDL kennels.
5. When the doorbell rings, I could get to the door without wading through dog bodies who beat me there.
6. I could sit on the couch the way I wanted, without taking into consideration how much space several fur bodies would need to get comfortable.
7. I would not have strange presents under my Christmas tree - like dog bones, stuffed animals or have to answer to people why I wrap them.
8. I would not be on a first name basis with three vets.
9. The most used words in my vocabulary would not be: "out", "sit", "down", "come", "no", "stay", and "leave him/her/it ALONE."
10. My house would not be cordoned off into zones with baby gates or barriers.
11. My pockets would not contain things like poo bags, dog treats and an extra leash.
12. I would no longer have to spell the words B-A-L-L or F-R-I-S-B-E-E or W-A-L-K.
13. I would not have as many leaves INSIDE my house as outside.
14. I would not look strangely at people who think having their ONE dog ties them down too much.
15. I'd look forward to Spring and the melting of the snow instead of dreading "mud season."
16. I would not have to answer the question "Why do you have so many dogs?" from people who will never have the joy in their life of knowing they are loved unconditionally by something as close to angel as they will ever get.
17. How empty my life would be...
You Know You're a Dog Person When...
You have more dog beds, chew toys, collars, leashes, harnesses, and dog crates than you have dogs.
You meet other people with dogs, and remember their dog's call name after 30 seconds, but don't get the owner/handler's name until you've met them 2 or 3 times.
You don't think twice about trading licks of an ice cream cone with your dog.
Your parents give up on grandchildren and start to refer to your dogs as "your kids" or "your children." (Bonus: they start to call them "our granddogs.")
90 percent of your Internet connection time goes to the dogs (seeing what's new when you enter your breed into the browser, reading up on multiple lists, checking out photos, sounds and FAQs, etc.).
You have hundreds of pictures of your dogs on your desk at work, in your wallet, etc., but none of your family or yourself.
No one wants to ride in your car because they know they'll get dog hair on their clothes.
You reach into your pockets for change, and liver treats, dog kibble, and pick-up bags fall all over. (Bonus: You've done this in a classy establishment.)
You've had long meaningful discussions with your friends on the best way to trim your dog's nails, but have never had a manicure or pedicure in your lifetime.
Books and movies are ruined for you if the dog references are incorrect.
The highlight of your day is spending time with your dog.
You watch simply awful movies because your breed is either featured in a cameo scene or there's a 3-second camera shot during a crowd scene.
All of your clothes have dog hair on them, even when they come back from the laundromat or dry cleaners.
The only thing your friends, colleagues, and passing acquaintances say to you when they see you is, "How are the dogs?" or "How many dogs do you have now?"
Your photo Christmas cards feature your dogs (humans optional).
LEASH: A strap which attaches to your collar, enabling you to lead your person where you want him/her to go.
DOG BED: any soft, clean surface, such as the white bedspread in the guest room or the newly upholstered couch in the living room.
DROOL: Is what you do when your persons have food and you don't. To do this properly you must sit as close as you can and look sad and let the drool fall to the floor, or better yet, on their laps.
SNIFF: A social custom to use when you greet other dogs. Place your nose as close as you can to the her dog's rear end and inhale deeply, repeat several times, or until your person makes you stop.
GARBAGE CAN: A container which your neighbors put out once a week to test your ingenuity. You must stand on your hind legs and try to push the lid off with your nose. If you do it right you are rewarded with margarine wrappers to shred, beef bones to consume and moldy crusts of bread.
BICYCLES: Two-wheeled exercise machines, invented for dogs to control body fat. To get maximum aerobic benefit, you must hide behind a bush and dash out, bark loudly and run alongside for a few yards; the person then swerves and falls into the bushes, and you prance away.
DEAFNESS: This is a malady which affects dogs when their persons want them in and they want to stay out. Symptoms include staring blankly at the person, then running in the opposite direction, or lying down.
THUNDER: This is a signal that the world is coming to an end. Humans remain amazingly calm during thunderstorms, so it is necessary to warn them of the danger by trembling uncontrollably, panting, rolling your eyes wildly, and following at their heels.
WASTEBASKET: This is a dog toy filled with paper, envelopes, and old candy wrapper. When you get bored, turn over the basket and strew the papers all over the house until your person comes home.
SOFAS: Are to dogs like napkins are to people. After eating it is polite to run up and down the front of the sofa and wipe your whiskers clean.
BATH: This is a process by which the humans drench the floor, walls and themselves. You can help by shaking vigorously and frequently.
LEAN: Every good dogs' response to the command "sit!", especially if your person is dressed for an evening out.Incredibly effective before black-tie events.
BUMP: The best way to get your human's attention when they are drinking a fresh cup of coffee or tea.
GOOSE BUMP: A maneuver to use as a last resort when the Regular Bump doesn't get the attention you require. This is especially effective when combined with The Sniff. See above.
LOVE: Is a feeling of intense affection, given freely and without restriction. The best way you can show your love is to wag your tail. If you're lucky, a human will love you in return.
Why don't dogs
live longer than people?
Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year- old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's
owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker and they were
hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family there were no
miracles left for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for the four-year-old Shane
to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience. The next
day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm,
petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few
minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion.
We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives
are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why!" Startled,
we all turned to him.
What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.
He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the
time and being nice, right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so
they don't have to stay as long."
Courtesy of and Copyright © 1994, Robert J.
Humane Society of Ventura County, California
I woke up one morning with my littermates. I saw Mom lying there so I went over to get some breakfast. Mom was warm and she licked me all over. She loved us so much. Things were good back then. Now I am bigger and live in a home with two kids and their mom and dad. I used to be able to come in the house and play. They even let me sleep in the house. The children would run and I would chase them around. When I was little they would let me jump on them and even playfully bite them. The family would laugh and encourage me to play like this. They gave me lots of toys such as socks, shoes and stuffed animals. I had so much fun. Those were the days.
As I got bigger, I would accidentally knock the children down. I would try to bite them on the cuff of their pants as they ran. I found toys like the ones my master gave me when I was younger, and I would chew them up. They started getting mad at me all the time. When I jumped up they would knee me down. One minute they were laughing at me for play biting and chewing and the next minute they would spank me for doing the very same thing. I am so confused!
Now I spend my days, hour after hour, chained in the back yard. No one comes out to play with me. I am so happy to see them when they come out that I jump and bark with joy. I spend my days digging up the yard around me, which makes my masters mad at me. The fleas crawl all over me, which drives me crazy. I get so mad that I want to bite someone.
The more I sit out here the madder I get. I cannot understand why they brought me home just to chain me in the yard. If my masters are unhappy with my behavior, why not train me? Why did they encourage me to jump and bite?
Things have not gotten any better for me. Now I sit in jail. People come by my cage looking at me. I do not trust them so I bark and bare my teeth. No one wants me. Oh, no! Here comes a lady with a leash. Where is she taking me? She walks me into a room. Oh she likes me. It's so good to be hugged again. She puts a thing around my mouth so I cannot bite. What's this? She is sticking me in the leg. Oh, I am so sleepy. What has happened to me? I am asleep now. NO ONE CAN HURT ME ANYMORE.
"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Average Pet Owner"
Thank you for contacting us animal rescuers, shelter volunteers, and foster-homes about your inability to keep your pet. We receive an extremely high volume of inquiries and requests to accept surrendered animals (and none of us are getting paid, OK?). To help us expedite your problem as quickly as possible, please observe the following guidelines:
1. Do not say that you are "CONSIDERING finding a good home" for your pet, or that you, "feel you MIGHT be forced to," or that you "really THINK it would be better if" you unloaded the poor beast. Ninety-five percent of you have already got your minds stone-cold made up that the animal WILL be out of your life by the weekend at the latest. Say so. If you don't, I'm going to waste a lot of time giving you common-sense, easy solutions for very fixable problems, and you're going to waste a lot of time coming up with fanciful reasons why the solution couldn't possibly work for you. For instance, you say the cat claws the furniture, and I tell you about nail-clipping and scratching posts and aversion training, and then you go into a long harangue about how your husband won't let you put a scratching post in the family room, and your ADHD daughter cries if you use a squirt bottle on the cat, and your congenital thumb abnormalities prevent you from using nail scissors and etc., etc. Just say you're getting rid of the cat.
2. Do not waste time trying to convince me how nice and humane you are. Your co-worker recommended that you contact me because I am nice to animals, not because I am nice to people, and I don't like people who "get rid of" their animals. "Get rid of" is my least favorite phrase in any language. I hope someone "gets rid of" YOU someday. I am an animal advocate, not a people therapist. After all, for your ADHD daughter, you can get counselors, special teachers, doctors, social workers, etc. Your pet has only me, and people like me, to turn to in his or her need, and we are unpaid, overworked, stressed-out, and demoralized. So don't tell me this big long story about how, "We love this dog so much, and we even bought him a special bed that cost $50, and it is just KILLING us to part with him, but honestly, our maid is just awash in dog hair every time she cleans, and his breath sometimes just reeks of liver, so you can see how hard we've tried, and how dear he is to us, but we really just can't "You are not nice, and it is not killing you. It is, in all probability, literally killing your dog, but you're going to be just fine once the beast is out of your sight. Don't waste my time trying to make me like you or feel sorry for you in your plight.
3. Do not try to convince me that your pet is exceptional and deserves special treatment. I don't care if you taught him to sit. I don't care if she's a beautiful Persian. I have a waiting list of battered and/or whacked-out animals who need help, and I have no room to foster-house your pet. Do not send me long messages detailing how Fido just l-o-v-e-s blankies and carries his favorite blankie everywhere, and oh, when he gets all excited and happy, he spins around in circles, isn't that cute? He really is darling, so it wouldn't be any trouble at all for us to find him a good home. Listen, we can go down to the pound and count the darling, spinning, blankie-loving beasts on death row by the dozens, any day of the week. And, honey, Fido is a six-year-old Shepherd-Lab mix. I am not lying when I tell you that big, older, mixed-breed, garden-variety dog are almost completely unadoptable, and I don't care if they can whistle Dixie or send semaphore signals with their blankies. What you don't realize is that, though you're trying to lie to me, you're actually telling the truth: Your pet is a special, wonderful, amazing creature. But this mean old world does not care. More importantly, YOU do not care, and I can't fix that problem. All I can do is grieve for all the exceptional animals who live short, brutal, loveless lives and die without anyone ever recognizing that they were indeed very, very special.
4. Finally, just, for God' s sake, for the animal's sake, tell the truth, and the whole truth. Do you think that if you just mumble that your cat is "high-strung," I will say, "Okey-doke! No prob!" and take it into foster care? No, I will start a asking questions and uncover the truth, which is that your cat has not used a litter box in the last six months. Do not tell me that you "can't" crate your dog. I will ask what happens when you try to crate him, and you will either be forced to tell me the symptoms of full blown, severe separation anxiety, or else you will resort to lying some more, wasting more of our time. And, if you succeed in placing your pet in a shelter or foster care, do not tell yourself the biggest lie of all: "Those nice people will take him and find him a good home, and everything will be fine." Those nice people will indeed give the animal every possible chance, but if we discover serious health or behavior problems, if we find that your misguided attempts to train or discipline him have driven him over the edge, we will do what you are too immoral and cowardly to do: We will hold the animal in our arms, telling him truthfully that he is a good dog or cat, telling him truthfully that we are sorry and we love him, while the vet ends his life. How can we be so heartless as to kill your pet, you ask? Do not ever dare to judge us. At least we tried. At least we stuck with him to the end. At least we never abandoned him to strangers, as you certainly did, didn't you? In short, this little old rescuer/foster momma has reached the point where she would prefer you pet owners to tell her stories like this:
We went to Wal-Mart and picked up a free pet in the parking lot a couple of years ago. Now we don't want it anymore. We're lazier than we thought. We've got no patience either. We're starting to suspect the animal is really smarter than we are, which is giving us self-esteem issues. Clearly, we can't possibly keep it. Plus, it might be getting sick; it's acting kind of funny.
We would like you to take it in eagerly, enthusiastically, and immediately. We hope you'll realize what a deal you're getting and not ask us for a donation to help defray your costs. After all, this is an (almost) pure-bred animal, and we'll send the leftover food along with it. We get it at Wal-Mart too, and boy, it's a really good deal, price wise.
"We are very irritated that you haven't shown pity on us in our great need and picked the animal up already. We thought you people were supposed to be humane! Come and get it today. No, we couldn't possibly bring it to you; the final episode of "Survivor II" is on tonight."
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Pet Owner, for your cooperation.
(Author Unknown, but could be any shelter worker or rescue worker)
Do Dogs Think?
Owners assume their pet's brain works like their own. That's a big mistake.
Blue, Heather's normally affectionate and obedient Rottweiler, began tearing up the house shortly after Heather went back to work as an accountant after several years at home. Blue, they concluded, was resentful at her owner's absence and was misbehaving to regain the attention that she'd once monopolized.
"Everybody says the dog was reacting to her going back to work," I suggested.
"Everybody is probably wrong," was his blunt comeback. "It's 'theory of mind.' This is what often happens when humans assume that dogs think the way we do."
His analysis: "Being angry at the human and behaving punitively—that's not a thought sequence even remotely possible, given a dog's brain. The likely scenario is that the dog is simply frightened." When Heather was home, she was there to explain and enforce the rules. With her gone, the dog literally didn't know how to behave. The dog should have been acclimated to a crate or room and confined more, not less, until she got used to her new independence.
Lots of dogs get nervous when they don't know what's expected of them, and when they get anxious, they can also grow restless. Blue hadn't had to occupy time alone before. Dogs can get unnerved by this. They bark, chew, scratch, destroy. Getting yelled at and punished later doesn't help: The dog probably knows it's doing something wrong, but it has no idea what. Since there's nobody around to correct behaviors when the dog is alone, how could the dog know which behavior is the problem? Which action was wrong?
He made sense to me. Dogs are not aware of time, even as a concept, so Blue couldn't know whether she was being left for five minutes or five hours, or how that compared to being left for a movie two weeks earlier. Since she had no conscious notion that Heather's work life had changed, how could she get angry, let alone plot vengeance? The dog was alone more and had more time to fill. The damage was increasing, most likely, because Blue had more time to get into mischief and more opportunities to react to stimulus without correction—not because she was responding to different emotions.
I don't believe that dogs act out of spite or that they can plot retribution, though countless dog owners swear otherwise. To punish or deceive requires the perpetrator to understand that his victim or object has a particular point of view and to consciously work to manipulate or thwart it. That requires mental processes dogs don't have.
The more I've moved away from interpreting my dogs' behavior as nearly human, the easier it is to train them, and the less guilt and anxiety I feel.
To attribute complex thoughts and plots to their actions unravels the training process. Training and living with a dog requires a different theory: that these are primal, predatory animals driven by instinct. Rather than seeking animal clues to her dog's behavior, Heather imagined herself as the dog. She reasoned that if she, Heather, were suddenly left alone for long periods, abandoned by someone she loved and used to spend a lot of time with, she would feel angry and hurt and might try to get even, not only to punish her companion but to try to persuade him or her to return.
That's attributing a lot of intellectual activity to an animal that can recognize a few dozen words but has none of its own, that reads human emotions but doesn't experience the same ones. Since the Cornell behaviorist made sense to me, I conveyed his analysis: The dog didn't know how to behave with Heather gone. Crating Blue would reduce her anxiety and give her less chance to act up. I persuaded Heather—by now distraught—to buy a large crate. For weeks, she fed the dog in the crate, leaving the door open. Between meals, she left treats and bones inside.
After several weeks, Blue began to go into the crate willingly and remained there quietly for short, then lengthening periods. Heather walked Blue two or three times daily; when she was gone for more than three or four hours, she hired a dog walker to take her out an additional time and throw a ball. But whenever Heather left the house, she put Blue in the crate and left a nearby radio tuned to a talk network.
This time, Heather got it right, treating Blue as a dog, not a rebellious teenager. Blue improved dramatically, and the improvement continues. Her aggression diminished, then seemed to vanish. It seemed the dog had comprehensible rules to follow, and felt safer.
Blue was liberated from the confusion, anxiety, and responsibility of figuring out what to do with her unsupervised and sudden freedom. Once again there was little tension between the two of them. Heather's house wasn't getting chewed up, and homecomings weren't tense and angry experiences. Yet here was a case, I thought, where seeing canine behavior in human terms nearly cost an animal its life.
Sometimes it does. Harry, a social worker in Los Angeles, wrote me that he had a great rescue dog named Rocket and was happy enough with the experience to adopt a second. Rocket attacked the new dog while Harry was feeding them, then bit a neighborhood kid. "He never forgave me for getting the new dog," Harry explained. "He was so angry with me. I couldn't trust him not to take out his rage on others, so I had him put to sleep."
We will never know, of course, what Rocket could or could not forgive. Rocket probably didn't attack the new dog out of anger at Harry. He was more likely protecting his food or pack position. The creature in the household with the most to lose from a new arrival, he probably simply fought for what he had. Then, once aroused, he was more dangerous. As trainers know, dogs under pressure have two options: fight or flight. Rocket decided to fight and paid for it with his life. Had his owner known more about dogs' true nature, he might have introduced the new dog more gradually, or not at all. And there might be one less bitten child. But this is all a guess. We will never know.
Jon Katz is the author of The Dogs of Bedlam Farm: An adventure with three dogs, sixteen sheep, two donkeys and me. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com