Thoughts to Paws over…

Scared, Fear, Person, Stress, Young, Face, Afraid

It is all right to be afraid…   And yet, sometimes the way we deal with our fear is extremely counter intuitive!  Some people are afraid of heights, others spiders and the one I most commonly experience…a fear of dogs.  I do not judge those that are apprehensive around my four legged friends, I can empathize what it is like to feel an indescribable anxiety over something….I have been known to have a panic attack if I encounter a few serpents seizing the opportunity to bask on a rock in the warm sunshine.  Of course I know that those slithering creatures have no interest in me whatsoever, in fact, they would appreciate it if I would continue on with my walking and leave them to soaking up the warmth of the sun’s rays.

As of late, I have encountered numerous individuals who have announced, and rather overtly I might add, their fearfulness around the companions I am walking with!  I would like to start off with stating that I can usually recognize in advance, if a person is nervous around dogs, I sense it in their body language well before we approach.  Even if I don’t perceive those traits, my usual modus operandi is to steer a path around people we encounter when we are out walking to be safe, rather than sorry.  And yet, despite my best efforts to  practice avoidance, I have had some bizarre experiences with people who experience Cynophobia ( which is  a fear of dogs).  Last week one of my clients and I were strolling along the street, I spied a few ladies up ahead and was culturally sensitive to the fact that they most likely experienced a sense of uneasiness around canines.  I made sure as they approached that my companion and I meandered out on to the grass, ensuring we would be no where close to one another.   Imagine my surprise when one of the young women approached us, and asked directions.  I was in the process of trying to remember where the road met up with the one they were looking for,  when my furry friend at my side moved ever so slightly.  Much to my surprise, the woman who was standing quite close to us, let out a squeal and exclaimed she was terrified around dogs?   I felt rather irritated, I don’t mind helping someone who is lost, but if one has a fear of dogs why stop the dog walker…and most importantly…screaming isn’t the brightest defense mechanism around an animal!

Fears are sometimes based in reality, I think my discomfort around snakes dates back to when I was ten and my Dad’s buddy wanted to catch a Rattlesnake and put it in his cooler and have me sit on the flimsy plastic box, while he drove with it in his van so he could photograph it a more photogenic location.  Thankfully my Father prevailed and the Rattler evaded capture and was permitted to slink off into the tall grass.  I haven’t been a fan of anything that slithers since then!  Occasionally, when I am out walking, a snake will inadvertently wriggle across my path and I will let out some ridiculous sound and commonly I will run the opposite direction.  I am working on this irrational reaction, but I can say that a snake and a canine are about as similar as pandas and grizzly bears.  If I could make a public service announcement to individuals who are frightened by dogs to help them navigate the situation so that they stay calm and safe as well as the animal they encounter, I would feel rather empowered!

It is not a good strategy to yell at an oncoming dog walker, “I am afraid of dogs!” and then shriek or recoil.  That is a sure fire way to get the wrong kind of attention!  Basically, the pooch you are approaching can now sense your alarm and has become equally wary…such behaviour signals to them that they need to protect their human or depending on the dog, they think it is their job to make you feel better and now want to jump all over you in a futile attempt to make you happy.  And let me say, I do empathize that there are people who will let their dogs off lead to run around in public places which is disconcerting for those who are not dog lovers.  There is nothing more annoying than hearing a person call out “Don’t worry, he is friendly!”  That is entirely not the point…we can’t assume, as my Mother would say, it makes an ass out of U and me, that we are all the same and that Fido is everyone’s elixir to a happy life!

We all need to be sensitive and in tune to others we encounter!  Dogs are magnificent creatures, but not everyone has a shared experience of man’s supposed best friend.  I would like to suggest if you are a person who is fearful of dog’s, try to remain calm when you happen upon one, breath and don’t scream!  A couple weeks back one of my clients and I were walking along a path and a woman was approaching from the opposite direction, as she neared us she literally jumped onto the grass and shrieked.  Not only did she startle the dog, she scared the begeezers out of me…she completely confused me, my friend hadn’t even glanced in her direction and we had nearly passed her when she decided to have her outburst.   Thankfully, even though my companion reacted, we managed to pass by without any negative outcome.  I will say though, I spent the remainder of our walk lamenting that things could have gone entirely differently and that I would like to give that lady a wee lecture on how not to behave if she wants to avoid unwanted attention.  The pooch I was with went from calm and happy, to nervousand wanting to protect me.

It all comes down to fear…the way most of us deal with something we don’t like is to avoid it…if horror films are not a genre one doesn’t care for, you don’t go see the movie “Friday the 13th”.  But things like spiders, mice and dogs are not as easy to eradicate from our day to day existence.  How we react is the only thing we can control and this is something I would like all Cynophobes to take heed of!  If you see a dog, on or off lead that is heading in your trajectory you can attempt to change your course, or you could move well off to the side and calmly state that you are afraid, but what you should not do is try and whisk past the animal while you are exuding your fear…animals can smell that!  I can not emphasize enough, do not yell…scream….whoop…squeal…I know it is hard not to do that when you are afraid, but please, be smart.  Again, I can relate, it is very hard to stay cool and level headed when one is afraid!

This may sound like a crazy idea…but I bet if you sat in a room full of puppies you might come out with an entirely altered view of man’s best friend. It is a tall order to ask someone with a phobia to remain non pulsed when faced with a tail wagging, fur covered representation of something that makes one’s heart race.  I know I wouldn’t be able to sit in a snake pit without hyperventilating and transforming into a blithering idiot!  I will remain realistic and just advise that if you don’t like dogs try to avoid areas where you know you will encounter them.  And when the inevitable occurs, this is a coping mechanism that I try, when a serpent  crosses my path,  I retreat to my inner happy place.   If you meander past  the source of your angst and convince yourself that the pooch is a non issue,  the outcome that should ensue should be pleasant and uneventful!

What I know for sure….screaming in the presence of man’s best friend is a huge mistake!



No Time to Paws…

Let sleeping dogs lie…

Hmmmmm, this was the scene that met my eyes this afternoon!  Looks like these fur babies had an exhausting morning!?  My four legged friends did have a stroll to start off their day,  that lasted about a half hour, and keep in mind, the dog on the left is 13 ish so our pace was more of a leisure one.   Once we returned home the two found the couch and I headed out the door for to walk my friend Mia for forty minutes, followed by a thirty minute jaunt with Marcus and then another fifteen with my girl Sunny. No worries, they aren’t comatose, they did have a few bathroom breaks in between my comings and goings.  I realized though, that  after taking about 20,135 steps with my canine friends all before noon, it was time to tackle my ‘to do’ list before time got away from me and the afternoon walks were to commence!  I did a couple loads of laundry, changed a bed, made soup and scones for dinner, ironed a few items and got the mulch, garbage and recycles out to the curb…while these two enjoyed a wonderful slumber!  I have about fifteen minutes before I need to rouse these BFF’s and get them out for their second walk.  I kind of would like to curl up on the couch with them on this chilly fall day, but I am painfully aware of the fact that there is no room for me and if I am dumb enough to enter that room and disturb the scene I will be leaving sooner than I planned!  I am keenly aware that a potential trip to the bathroom will create a hub bub of excitement and a race to the front door !  Instead I quietly came into the office to do a bit of paper work and will let the sleeping dogs lie…    It’s a dog’s life at my house!

Thoughts to Paws over…

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This morning I was vacuuming and my dear old boy stretched, got off of his very comfy spot on the couch and meandered over to the door, so I let him out in the back yard and continued on with the task at hand.  About ten minutes later, which is usually a sufficient amount of time for him to do his business, I opened the door and there was no dog standing there waiting for me.  So I resumed cleaning the stairs.  And then this little feeling started niggling at me, “Why wasn’t Lucas ready to come in?  How unlike him…”  I out into the yard and spied my boy, he was laying by the back garden, a spot I don’t usually see him resting in and I will admit…I got a sinking feeling in my gut.   It is odd…there is this part of me that really hopes that this dog will be the one to check out on his own terms…to lay down and fall asleep and not get up one day.  I have this vision of how much better or more peaceful it will feel if I don’t have to make that dreaded trip to the Vet to say good bye.  He lay there and I stood on the deck staring at him with mixed feelings….he looked so peaceful and happy, but my inner voice was screaming…”NO, no…not today….I am not ready!”   I was trying to make noise to see if he would stir, nope, he lay their very still….I couldn’t see his chest rising and falling.  I wandered over to where he lay and stood over him, nothing.  I knelt down beside him, my knees getting wet and kissed his head. Poor dog, I startled him, he jumped up, eyes wide.  Up to that point he had been enjoying soaking up the sun’s rays without the disruption of my vacuuming noises!

It is hard to reconcile what we think we want…and what we actually want.  All I can say is I am happy that he was just soundly sleeping today and hope, that one day….way down the line, that maybe he can move on when he is ready and hopefully I can share the same sentiment.  And here is hoping that I don’t scare the dog to death in the interim, while I am checking for signs of life….I wonder if he finds it irritating that his people keep thinking he is ready to check out when he is just enjoying the warmth of the suns on a lovely autumn day?!

Thoughts to Paws over…


Mayday, Mayday!  Our upstairs bathroom is desperately in need of a renovation!  When we bought our house it was on the top of our to do list, but somehow life kept getting in the way…the furnace died, the back door leaked water ruining one section of floor in the basement and then the washing machine malfunctioned making it an unavoidable task that needed to be taken care of, not to mention, we had to replace the washer and dryer.  I am afraid to jinx things, but finally after six years, a fence, two entry doors, a roof , the basement washroom, 14 windows, a garage door and countless other items that begged for attention, it’s time to rip apart the rotting walls, remove the broken sink and get rid of the leaky tub!  Progress is a good thing…YES?   I am not sure if that went to a vote in my house if  all parties would concur!  After some heavy rain this afternoon Lucas, my lovely old boy,  went to his refuge, the bathtub.  I stood there watching him climb over the side and nestle down and I was struck that the new tub that my spouse and I are overtly excited about…is longer, substantially deeper and the side is much higher, and to add insult to injury, we are erecting glass walls around it making it an inaccessible location for our pooch to retreat to.  This new vessel of bathing bliss, which will actually inspire me to want to sit and relax in it,  will no longer accommodate my anxious friend’s needs!  I have been scratching my head wondering where the fourteen year old dog is going to go when it starts to thunder outside.  Of course we aren’t going to grant a reprieve for that abysmal excuse to bathe in, but I am wondering would it be odd if I took out the spare bed in the guest room and stowed the bathtub in there for a rainy day?  The dog is not going to be impressed with our fancy ideas to bring our bathroom up to snuff and I am envisioning him the day he realizes we have messed around with his panic room!  I need to put my thinking cap on, thankfully,  I have a couple months to find Lucas a new safe haven and try and transition him into it.  And if worse comes to worse….we will have one hell of a conversation piece in the family room instead of a couch!

Thoughts to Paws over…

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”
― Truman Capote

“If I only knew then, what I know now…”   I had a wonderful conversation with a neighbour the other day about being a pet parent that has ruminated with me over the past week.   We were discussing what it was like to have pets when we were  a young adult starting out versus the people we have evolved into after a long road of various furry friends who come in and out of our lives.  I can remember what our dogs life looked like when I was a small child, and when I think about it, I feel sad.  We had a run at the side of the house, it was a dirt patch, surrounded by a chain link fence under the pine trees that was about four feet wide by fourteen feet long, not much of place to recreate in.   Exercise for our pets looked rather bleak, we would open up the door letting our dog out to run up and down and do it’s business and when the barking became incessant and annoying, we would yell at him to come in.  That was what an outing consisted of for our pooches, heart breaking when I think of it now.  When I was in my last year of high school my parents bought me a Sheltie, she was to be my responsibility.   I can remember trying to take her for walks, she went from being afraid to leave the yard to pulling so hard on the choke chain that she would gag herself.  It wasn’t a pleasant experience, so she was subjected to the same treatment as the other four legged friends who came before her, I’d open that side door and let her out into the run, where should would become anxious and drive the nearby residents nuts.  It wasn’t until I started dating a young man that liked to hike that life began to change for my dear girl…we started going for long treks in the woods…and she loved it!  I will admit, we didn’t explore the neighbourhood, but on the weekend we would drive out to some lovely trail and let her walk along with us and we watched her transform into a much happier and calm dog.   When she passed, I realized with the next dog that walks weren’t something that should only occur on the weekends, every morning I would put on the leash and we would go for a stroll to help her burn off some energy and we would repeat that same experience in the afternoon.  By the time we took in a second dog, our walks went from fifteen minutes to a half hour, which extended to an hour on a good day!  Hind sight is 20/20!  I look back at the food I would feed my pets, the vets we chose, the list goes on and on, and I wish I could have a chat with that person .  If only I had a time machine, I would go back and inform that person the err of her ways!   Instead of regret though, I am grateful for the life lessons and what each furry friend helped me learn! I do think of Noel and Sargie and that wretched poop filled pen that I would bemoan about cleaning and wish that I wasn’t such an ass about making it a nice place for them to do their business, that I didn’t see it was an honour to have those two beautiful souls to love and care for!  I no longer see poop scooping as an annoyance, I scout the back yard for land mines without frustration and I feel blessed that I have a four legged friend to share my abode with!  I walk realizing how lucky I am to have a companion!  When it’s time to go to the vet I realize that although budgets are important and living within my means is  an intelligent practice, I also understand what regret and remorse feel like and how lonely life can be without a best friend in it, and I don’t worry about the dollar amount.  It’s easy to know the right thing to do after something has happened, but none of us have a crystal ball.   What we need to do is turn our remorse into wisdom, because once we are enlightened, we won’t return to darkness!  Experience is what you get when you realize the outcome wasn’t as good as you might have hoped for.  Maturity is often the most valuable thing you have to offer, so I know with each furry friend I share my life with, their experience and mine will become richer and richer!

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Thoughts to Paws over…

A note to Mr. Kitty:

Dear Romeo,  I have been thinking about our bond and have been baffled by a few intricacies of our relationship.   Since the day I realized you were meant to be part of our family, I have dedicated myself to your care!  And you have done the same for me! When Piper passed you were there, cuddling me whenever you sensed I was sad.  You would lay on my chest and purr, reminding me to smile.  When we found you one night underneath the wash stand in the basement, miserable and making strange wailing sounds, we whisked you off to the vet.   While we awaited test results to find out what was ailing you, I came daily and held you in my arms, talking to you softy and assuring you we were going to do our utmost to get you through whatever it was that was making you sick.   I stood my ground and I made sure that I have advocated for you ever since and I have been resolute in figuring out how to keep you healthy and happy.  I have been your safe place to rest, while you got stronger.   I will admit that I have put you in stressful situations at times,  but I make sure to take ownership of those less than perfect moments and apologize  profusely for my screw ups.  The recent bathroom incident being one of those regrettable moments .   Our relationship has been one of give and take, ups and down, but I know we love one another.  Which brings me to your eating habits,  I spend my day making sure you have a balance of wet and dry food,  and that you eat every two hours.    In fact, I am so unwavering, I get up 3 or 4 times nightly,  to fill your dish so you don’t get sick to your stomach….but I ask you my dear friend, (as I am truly bewildered about something), why is that you will eat your kibble and wet food through out the night from your perch on the night stand, but once the big hand hits the five, you will look at that same food and act like it has all of a sudden transformed into toxic waste?   You will poke at me and become an incorrigible pest until I acquiesce and get out of bed.  Why is it that you will strut down the hall a mere six feet from where you were once lazing comfortably and perch at the bathroom door, without fail and wait for me to walk by?  How come, when I place that very same food on the floor in front of you…that you had access to only minutes ago, it suddenly becomes incredibly appetizing and you voraciously woof it all down?  I can’t help but feel like you are similar in nature to the guy in the Pina Colada song who is bored with his wife so he looks to the personal ads.   He thinks he is going to hook up with someone new, only to realize that the woman he has chosen to cheat with, is his own lovely lady! She is no different really, it’s the change in venue that makes her suddenly so appealing.   Is it the ambience in the bedroom that turns you off your meal? Does your food somehow taste better with the change in location?   Do you get tired of eating to the sounds of my rhythmic breathing  as you chomp away,  because if I am being honest, you are a very loud chewer which doesn’t facilitate for a restful night for me in any way!   Please Mr. Kitty, share with me why you are so adverse to me sleeping through the wee hours of the morning without your constant and frequent disruptions to my slumber?   Honestly, if I know better, I can do better….it’s a win, win for the whole household if I am not dragging myself around for the remainder of the day!  You must know by now that I am not allowed to do caffeine so the struggle is real!   Is there some compromise we could reach where you feel you catered to in a way that floats your boat, but also allows me to go through the course of my day without walking into door frames?   Please enlighten me if you will my dear boy, let’s open the lines of communication!

Love,  the puffy eyed lady who struggles with coherent thought processes  and her ability to stay consciousness as she eats her lunch!

Thoughts to Paws over…


Kot, Hundehaufen, Funny, Poop

As humans, we often use expressions…  “Let sleeping dog’s lie…”, “Don’t let the cat out of the bag..”, “Curiosity killed the cat”, the list goes on and on!  This past weekend we took the boys on a road trip to visit my daughter’s family!  Their house is of average size, there were two dogs, two cats, five grown ups and a toddler all under one roof! My Grandson turned one a little while back and isn’t walking yet, for the furry creatures this has been a positive thing, as the little gaffers mobility is limited to crawling, which affords them the opportunity to get away from him if they are not interested in his attention.  Romeo, our cat isn’t a huge fan of the new addition,  it’s not that he doesn’t like him, he will purr and lay beside him, it is just that the cute little kid “steals his thunder”.   Cats are funny creatures, at least our is, he tends to like to be in the middle of the action.  He is not one to shy away and hide under a couch, nope, he likes to be in the thick of things.  If we are all in the family room watching the little guy play, then Romeo can be found laying nearby surrounded by the toys and dogs.  Heaven forbid that someone else steals the lime light and gets all the attention!   “To make a long story short,” I wanted to see my Grandson on his feet, I decided to give him his push and go walker so we could see him in motion.  It was such a delight to watch his youthful exuberance as he raced about the house doing laps from the family room, into the kitchen and then around the living and dining room in a circuit.  The animals didn’t find the rug rats liberation of movement quite as entertaining as the human’s did and they all scattered to get out of the way.  Romeo was absolutely horrified that the wee attention hog was mobile,  and was unimpressed by him careening about the house with his plastic conveyance, he found it extremely disruptive!  My feline friend haughtily strutted off through the kitchen towards the back of the house to find some peace, when the little demon unexpectedly came whisking up from behind, knocking him off his feet and “scared the shit of him”,  literally!   My dear kitty had tried valiantly to get out of the way without success, wide eyed and incredibly unimpressed as he tried to flee, he left a small piece of poop behind!  Romeo was rather indignant at being treated with such blatant disregard, and what was worse, the human’s were all standing about laughing at the evidence of his mistreatment that had dropped out of his back end.  Humiliated and unimpressed with the lot of us, it was the “last straw”!   “Drastic times, call for drastic measures,”  having to listen to the five of us giggle and remark at his expense on how “he had lost his shit”, was far too much to endure, the cat took off to the basement to compose himself!   Expressions…who knew a chunk of poo flying out of the cats backside onto the kitchen floor could be so incredibly entertaining!


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Thoughts to Paws over…

I have been thinking about those times in life when the best of intentions go woefully awry.   Our cat Romeo has a few health issues that inconvenience  his ability to be a completely normal kitty, but he has learned to cope quite well with his struggles.  The other evening he jumped up on the bed and sashayed past me so he could stand on the back of the bed frame and look out the window.  “Ooh Wee,”  did I get a whiff of something nasty!  After my big guy had finished scoping out the goings on in the back yard, he decided to come snuggle.  The stench was pretty noxious, causing my stomach  to lurch.  Romeo gets blocked anal glands from time to time and I figured he had a situation going on back there.  It was close to eleven and I was tired, there was no way I was going to try and bathe him at that hour, waiting for the morning seemed prudent.   As soon as we woke up, I stripped the bed and announced to my spouse that I wished to enlist his help in giving Master Romeo a spa treatment.  Normally when Romeo  needs some help maintaining himself we put him in an empty tub and then add water, one person holds him steady,  while the other washes his back end.  In retrospect, I am  not sure why I came up with the crazy idea that I would fill the tub with water, sit in it with him, thinking that my being there,  would help keep him calm.  As my hubby went to place my feline friend in the tub, with me already seated, waiting to receive him, I realized things were not going to go as I had hoped.  As Romeo was lowered into warm water, the cat began to squirm, getting rather wet, which caused him to panic. My spouse began to feel a bit nervous that he was going to get scratched and lost his hold, and Romeo took this opportunity to try and flee, however he unfortunately slid on the side of the tub  landed on his back and the next thing we knew he was under water!  We grabbed him and got him in a towel, it was seconds, but to a cat, that was a complete and total gong show, very uncool!  For the remainder of the day, Romeo glowered at us and slunk around the house, bedraggled and pathetic looking.  Since his unfortunate happenstance, Romeo no longer lays on the bathroom floor like he usually does when I bathe, go figure he doesn’t trust that we won’t try and drown him.   I am no longer allowed to pick him up, if I do he squirms and grumbles and becomes rather perplexed with me.   On a positive note, he doesn’t smell any more, but I am thinking the next time he becomes odiferous there is no way, come hell or high water, that we are getting our boy into a bath!   I know he will forgive me, last night when he thought I was asleep he sidled up next to me and purred, but in the waking hours he remains aloof and I am getting the message loud and clear, “You done be wrong, woman!”

Thoughts to Paws over…

My second trip to melancholia came later this morning while I was out walking my friend Marcus.  There is a lady who lives in my neighbourhood who has three Shelties, one of them was a pup just a short time ago.  I passed them at the very beginning of our trek,  I think at that time I was more focused on the Beagle behind me, the potential of the Jack Russel at the corner waging a surprise attack and me not tripping over my big white German Shepherd friend that I didn’t really take the time to “look” at the lovely trio of dogs.  A half an hour later we were on our way back to take my friend home when much to my surprise we encountered that same little group, I didn’t realize they walked for as long as we did.  I was on the other side of the street going the opposite direction and I became aware of the fact that the newest member of their family had grown quite a bit over the summer, he wasn’t a puppy anymore.  I can’t adequately describe the moment really, I locked eyes with Finn and for a brief moment I didn’t see him.  I felt like there was something behind his eyes that I recognized and then my dear Piper came to my mind, a lump formed in my throat and tears welled up in the corner of my eyes,  I was engulfed by a feeling of loss.   It most likely is a breed thing, many share the same characteristics, it’s not hard for my long lost friend to come to mind, and yet, there was something?   Finn was looking back at me as I looked over my shoulder at him, while all the other dogs moved forward  The movie “A Dog’s Purpose” came to mind, the idea of reincarnation, the dog never dies—he keeps being reborn, remembering his past experiences, learning lessons from each life that help him with the next one,  wishful thinking I know.  It never ceases to surprise me though that no matter how much time elapses, how grief can creep up on me and that the absence of Piper’s presence has a left a void in my heart , an ache that will never go away.  I think that is permissible, I know that I have no shortage of love to share, it is okay if I miss that bond we shared.  I am just grateful for sun glasses to hide behind, that’s all I can say!

Thoughts to Paws over…

I seem to be having a melancholy kind of Thursday!  I was hustling about this morning to get organized to take Lucas out for a walk, my friend that has been with me for a week , went home last night.  She is my shadow when she visits, she is never more than a foot from where I happen to be, and I know if she isn’t, I better go looking for her just in case she has found some mischief.   I love my boy, don’t get me wrong…but he likes his  personal space.  He will lay on the couch beside me if I am watching T.V., sometimes he will even go as far as to put is head on my thigh, which I love, but most of the time he finds a quiet room and curls up on a couch for a nap  (unless there is a storm and then he is sitting on top of me looking for me to save him).  My girl friend, she is different, I am her lounge chair, I never feel alone.  As I darted around this morning I spied her favourite toy that I bought her for our house sitting on the floor beside my desk chair, it will sit there until I move it. Lucas is laying in the hall, I think both of us are feeling that the house is just too quiet!  I have come to realize I don’t have just one dog or one cat, I have family that live all over the place!  I wonder if they think of me and miss me as much as I do them!?