My wife and I are volunteers/fosters with a Boxer rescue organization in North Texas. My wife picked up this little heartbreaker last night
If you need more reasons to keep your dog on the leash or safely in your house, here’s one: The U.S. Postal Service might stop delivering your mail. Or, as in the case of a neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, it might stop delivering mail to your entire block.
The mail carrier assigned to the block has reported feeling threatened by a Chihuahua mix wandering around without a leash several times. After the fifth time, the USPS decided that enough was enough and issued notices to about 12 residences that mail services were being suspended until owner Guillermo Tellez controlled the dog.
“The dog has interfered, on a number of occasions, with the delivery of the mail in that particular neighborhood,” USPS spokesman Richard Watkins told TV station KCRG. “Once we know that the dog owner has taken responsibility and is making sure that dog is not running free in the neighborhood, the mail delivery will continue.”
As you can imagine, Tellez's neighbors aren't happy about having to visit the post office to pick up their mail. Elmer Kasey was very direct and descriptive on his feelings about the whole thing:
"It's a bunch of poop," he told a television reporter. "I think if it's got stamps on it and it says to deliver it, they should deliver it."
A lot of the neighbors share Kasey's frustration, but they also understand, having had their own problems with Tellez's pet.
"We got chased a couple of times just bringing groceries into our house in our own driveway," says Alyssa Taylor, who lives next door. "And then, we called animal control at that point and they did come and seize the dog because it did not have its vaccines up to date. Two weeks later my five-year-old was bit in the leg in the back of our own yard."
Tellez, however, says that his pet is a "nice dog" who gets along with children, and only occasionally gets out. Nice or not, the dog needs to stay on a leash or behind a fence, and until then, the street's mailboxes are staying empty.
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On March first, I hit ‘send’ and the first draft of my manuscript went flying through the ether to New York to land in the capable hands of my editor. It was simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. If any of you watched the Oscars and heard De Niro deliver this little nugget:
The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.
That pretty much sums up my experience of churning out a manuscript. It lifted my spirits to know I was in such good company in my certainty of inadequacy. I’m still not sure of the publication date yet; it depends on a lot of things, such as Grand Central’s current catalogue and how many rounds of editing the book has to go through before it’s whipped into shape like a perfect meringue. I’ll be sure to keep you posted because I did guarantee AT LEAST 25 copies sold and my mom can’t buy them all.
In the meantime, I set myself to a side task which turned out to be rather entertaining. As part of my contract I get to submit about 15 black and white photos for the book, covering my life with Taffy, Emmett, and Kekoa. The latter two I’m set on, but finding old pictures from my childhood was a bit more of a challenge.
My father, like my husband now, was an early adopter of new photo technology. This is all fine and good if the technology sticks, but of course as we’ve found it usually doesn’t. This resulted in two major problems:
1. 1975-1983 exists solely on old slides.
2. 1997-2002, the early digital age which also coincided with vet school, ended up on an old-school iOmega zip disk. The whereabouts of said discs are unknown. They may be floating in a box that’s been packed since the day I left vet school, or in a Goodwill store somewhere, or maybe Brian put them on an old PC that is also dead and gone, who knows. It is possible the pictures could be recovered if I actually HAD them, but at this point I would need a genie and a committed tech nerd.
Fortunately for me, my father kept his slides miraculously intact, and spent the last year faithfully transferring them into a digital format. It was crazy to see what he delivered, keeping in mind the last time my father actually set up the projector in the house was 1983. I hadn’t seen any of those pictures since then, kindergarten, first communion, all those moments from decades ago. Taffy as a puppy.
I chose one or two of Taffy looking cute then a few more of me looking as dorky as possible, which meant pretty much all of them (I had a very extended awkward phase.) So because I love you all and I thought it was funny, I wanted to share one of the pics I didn’t end up using but is very illustrative of my formative years:
I’ll need my sister (the elegant brunette in the back) to chime in on the age of this one. Mid 80s for sure. And there’s me, the love child of Sandy Squirrel and Benny Hill:
It was a bad time for fashion in general.
And of course Taffy, who was as always plotting her escape. Or perhaps planning where in the house she wanted to pee next. I owe my dedication to the newest odor removing technology to years of following her around with an ineffectual roll of paper towels and whatever carpet cleaner they had in the 80s.
Your turn- who was your first pet? What is your most clear memory of them?
It’s officially been one week since I returned from my Arizona trip, and I’m still waking up everyday wishing I was there. There is something to be said for getting up early, walking out the back door, and being greeted with warm sunshine on your skin and a view dotted with mountains and giant Saguaro cacti. After enduring one of the most grueling Chicago winters in history, something as simple as a morning like that can make your whole day. Your whole month, even. Thankfully, April is finally here and I’m holding out hope that the weather here in the midwest will start to include a little sunshine of its own sooner than later. In the meantime, you’ll find me daydreaming about this trip.
I took a lot of pictures while I was in Arizona, and although I posted many on my Instagram account along the way, I also snapped some others with my DSLR and phone, and thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you guys. Rather than give you a play by play of our vacation, I’ll let the pictures do the talking this time. More than anything, baby Essley and I had a lot of really wonderful family time while we were there, including a surprise from her Austin, Texas based cousins (you can read more about that here). Other highlights included Robbie arriving at the end of our first week and reuniting with us after two weeks apart (and taking Essley to the band’s show – despite the fact that she decided to have a sudden aversion to her noise-canceling headphones, resulting in us having to send the majority of the show backstage), a day trip to Sedona (now a yearly tradition for us), Essley’s first time swimming, a girls’ day which included shopping (I got my new favorite dress at Free People Scottsdale) and lunch at Dr. Andrew Weil’s restaurant True Food, a visit with an old family friend who I hadn’t seen in 20 years, lots of walks and down time by the pool, lots of delicious meals, and some much needed extra sleep.
This Arizona trip to visit Robbie’s parents and meet him out there for a break in the band’s late winter tour has become an annual thing for me. I remember last year thinking (hoping) that this time, maybe I’d have a baby with me. Just a couple of weeks later, I got pregnant. I can honestly say that having Essley along made the trip infinitely more special. She did a great a job on both flights (I’m pretty sure she’s got the travel bug in her blood), and it was so much fun watching her take in all of the new sights and sounds (and getting to spend time outside for the first time in her life). I’m already looking forward to next year.
A few nice dental bone images I found:
Image by one two one three
NOTE: THIS WHOLE THING (above and below) IS NO LONGER TRUE.
Things change, dog.
Because there isn’t enough bone (width-wise) in my bottom jaw to
attempt to place another implant, I am going to forgo that step and
get my bottom teeth replaced in the next couple of months! ASAP, I am
going to have my oral surgeon expose the implant I do have. Once that
skin heals after a couple weeks, my dentist will make impressions of
that area and create the porcelain teeth we’ll be putting in. A month
or so later, she’ll install them, and I will have ALL MY TEETH for the
first time in 1.5 years! Dr. Reynolds says I will be able to eat
bone head gravel nose
Image by Anika Nui, Waikoloa
This lady has a lot of dental work but no matter how hard I tried, the gravel inside her nose would not show up in the scans or photos. Nose fine, except scar. 3 stitches in nose and three inside mouth below lower lip. They have since begun to replace the 1" blue rock gravel with asphalt and stuff at the Waimea Transfer Station. So when she falls face first next time, she’ll bust her nose but it won’t have gravel in it.
Should I tell you how they get the gravel out? It involves a toothbrush. I don’t know why this grosses people out. she was fine with it.
Stitches – TMBO (245/365)
Image by essgee51
My dental bone graft – let me show you it. Only pic of the day, or I would have chosen another.
Last week I described the counter-condition and desensitization process (CC&DS). When is it the right approach, as opposed to addressing a problem with reward-based training?
Deciding that an association is causing your dog to behave a certain way means making assumptions about what is going on "inside" the dog. These kinds of assumptions are not always right. As a matter of fact, these kinds of assumptions are what can lead to describing a dog as stubborn, dumb, or even the dreaded (and horribly misused) "dominant." Which is not a personality attribute dammit. But I digress…
With the understanding that we are making judgements based on our dog’s body language and behavior there is a general rule we can follow. We use CC&DS to change an undesirable response to a stimulus that seems to be driven by a negative reaction to the stimulus. Let’s consider three possible responses to a human stranger approaching a dog:
- The dog attempts to escape.
- The dog lunges, growls, barks, in what we would characterize as an aggressive manner.
- The dog attempts to jump up and greet the person.
In numbers one and two the dog’s reaction is negative. Both reactions are likely driven by fear. In number three his reaction is positive – he is happy to see the person and wants to greet them, albeit in an inappropriate manner.
We need to change the emotional response in scenarios one and two. A dog that is attempting to flee or attack cannot be taught to greet someone politely, and even if it were possible, he would probably still be distressed. We want to make him more comfortable. This is job for CC&DS.
In scenario three the dog is happy to see people! We certainly don’t want to change that. We have a training problem: we need to teach him how to greet people politely.
In situations where we need to make something "bad" become something "good" (or at least a lot less bad) we use CC&DS. In a situation where something is already good but the response is what is "bad" we use training.
That’s it for CC&DS in this series. Next week we move on to a new chapter in the ABC’s.
But before we move on, here’s a cute video illustrating how classical conditioning works. I wish I had found it when I started this series.
Counter-Conditioning and Desensitization for Dogs (Part 3) is a post written by Eric Goebelbecker . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey
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- Redirect to an Alternate Behavior
A movement that has been making the rounds for a while now is encouraging people to place yellow ribbons on dogs that need space. "Needing space" is a euphemism for dogs that display aggressive behavior toward other dogs and/or toward people. (Labeling dogs as aggressive is bad. So we give them a different label.)
While this idea comes from a sentiment that I can certainly empathize with, I think it is not only doomed to failure but that it actually has the potential to cause more problems than it solves
Yellow Ribbons Will Never be Widely Adopted
First there’s the issue of whether or not enough people will use this to make it a reliable tool. We can’t get people to stop buying dogs from pet stores and puppy mills. We can’t get trainers to stick to science to choose and discuss their methods. (This goes for trainers on both sides of the fence by the way. "Do as I Do Dog Training?" Really? Let’s start a new training method based on a couple of studies.) Hell, we can’t even get people to agree on administering vaccinations to prevent disease in our children, let alone our dogs.
But we’re going to get people to reliably put yellow ribbons on dogs that need distance from each other?
Right. The check is in the mail too.
False Security or Denial?
Do you believe that these ribbons would be, if they somehow gained widespread adoption, a trustworthy indicator of an aggressive dog? Do you think that the absence of a ribbon would be a good indicator of a friendly dog?
Go to any conference, or even a working seminar, that allows "friendly" dogs and objectively watch the dogs that (alleged) professionals decide to bring. Chances are you’ll see at least a few that honestly do not belong there. Strike up a conversation and the rationale for bringing the dog there will be appalling…if there even is any recognition that there is a problem.
The sad fact is that denial is a very powerful force, powerful enough to make the desire to have one’s dog with oneself more important than the comfort of the dog. People, especially dog enthusiasts are terrible at self-selection when it comes to their dog’s behavior. The sad fact is a creative explanation for a dog’s behavior is often an acceptable substitute for actually addressing the problem.
And what happens when it’s possible to place a warning signal on an aggressive dog? Who’s problem is the behavior then?
Your Dog is Your Problem
Whether your dog "needs space" or not, your dog is your responsibility. Period. Placing a warning on your dog so that others can look out for her, or relying on other people to tell you that it is safe for your dog is not a good idea. Either way, you are relying on the judgement of others.
Of course many of the ribbons’ advocates are thinking “but the ribbons are only meant to serve as a warning, not as a crutch!” But that’s how they are likely to be used, and at best they are a distraction from what we need to be teaching our clients to do, as well as doing ourselves.
In situations in which you will meet dogs that you are not familiar with:
If your dog does not want to interact with other dogs, keep her away from other dogs.
If your dog does want to interact with other dogs, keep her away from other dogs.
It’s really simple, and all you need to do is look out for yourself and your dog, which is what you should be doing anyway.
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