Aren’t humans brilliant? You’re fairly smart, right? And yet at the same time, we earthlings can be somewhat creepy creatures. Intriguing, yes. Creative, yes. Resourceful, yes. Still, sometimes we find ourselves standing ankle deep in layers of our own excrement, figuratively speaking. Which is odd, given how much we laud our intelligence. With five or six feet from ankle to brain, should we be worried about our personal rising tides, or confident in our abilities to stem them?
The truth is that most people do not worry much about their personal weaknesses. In many ways that is fine, some would even argue helpful. In other ways, however, it definitely is not fine. While this is a topic more typically covered by psychologists and psychoanalysts, it is of interest to rescuers as it pertains to the care and safety of our beloved animals, like the dogs we rescue, love, rehabilitate, and home.
Surviving Earthlings: A How-To. Even if dogs could read it, there’s not much they could do with it, what with being at the utter mercy of us earthlings. It’s a good thing, then, that we are so proud of our own intelligence and abilities, because it means that we earthlings are absolutely capable of making sure that our dogs survive us—and as the most logical creature, we’re also able to admit that therefore we are obliged to make sure of it. I offer to you, dear earthling, for your dear dog, this little set of instructions to help your dog survive earthlings. (Would you believe me if I told you I found it in a crop circle?):
- Due to the fact that some stranger earthlings can be nefarious, vengeful, or simply dog-hating, do not for any reason leave your dog outside alone or when you are not home. Strange earthlings all over the world have been known to throw poison food into fenced yards, shoot or otherwise harm dogs, steal them and do dastardly things to them, or simply taunt them through the fence, causing copious barking or even biting that has then gotten dogs in trouble with earthling law, sometimes even resulting in the earthling death penalty for dogs. In addition, dogs can get out of their yards and get lost, hurt, or killed, and wildlife can get in to their yards and hurt or kill dogs.
- All of the above can also happen if earthlings leave their dogs inside but make the very common mistake of using an earthling-invented dog door, allowing a dog to either access outside while its earthling is away, or access outside while its earthling is home but asleep or not paying attention. Therefore, earthlings and their dogs would be well-served by some honest soul-searching about the use of their beloved dog doors versus their highest and best safety of their beloved dogs.
- Much of the above can also happen if an earthling leaves a dog alone in a vehicle, even for a moment. Earthlings being so logical, I’m sure I don’t need to explain exactly how in the context of vehicles these things can happen, right? Suffice it to say that while windows up means hot cars (all you dog-loving earthlings know that hot cars kill dogs very quickly, of course—and even A/C in a non-moving car does not stay cool for very long), windows down means earthlings have access. But earthlings can and do also have emergencies while outside their vehicles and when earthlings have emergencies, however intelligent they are, they can tend to forget things or go into fight / flight like any other mammal. Either way, the result can be terrible for an earthling’s dog. We say we would never… but it happens to earthling children many times every year in the states alone!–even though earthling children have many more laws and advocates trying to protect them. So, most logical of all species, do the math, as earthlings like to say.
- Due to the fact that so many earthlings drive cars and live in traffic areas, do not unleash your dog unless in a fully fenced area where no earthlings can run over your dog and where your dog cannot run out eventually to where cars are. You could also consider not unleashing your dog where wildlife might eat your dog–or where your dog might eat wildlife that other earthlings love. Also for the earthling’s logical mind to consider is how many other earthlings’ unleashed dogs are properly trained; how do you know, if your dog is not protected by being at your side on leash, that another dog s/he comes upon isn’t going to attack? Yes, all earthlings have the ability to be logical, but not all earthlings always use that ability, so there are bound to be untrained off leash dogs in your path. This is often true at traditional style dog parks as well, where sometimes, some earthlings seem to enjoy picking on other earthlings perhaps more than their dogs enjoy picking on other dogs.
- Secure, solid fences, tempered glass windows, and locked gates and doors are just a few things that help protect earthlings’ dogs from careless or nefarious earthlings as well as from doggy-temptations. No matter how many times you tell a contractor-earthling to keep all gates, doors, and windows closed, for example, most earthling dog guardians will find themselves running around behind their earthling contractors, closing closing closing. Or else looking for gone dogs.
- Tying your dog to things, whether moving or still, is bad for your dog, earthling. If you tie your dog to a moving object and something goes wrong with that object, your dog could be injured or worse. If you tie your dog to a still object, you dog is going to wonder why, and after a while that wondering can turn to frustration which can turn to what earthlings like to call aggression, not to mention potential injury, escape, theft, or worse. A dog tied to something and left while its earthling runs in to grab a quick coffee, for example, is a sitting duck for some stranger earthling passing by who 1) dislikes dogs, 2) had a bad day, and 3) decides to take it out on your tethered dog.
- Earthlings make lots of messes and therefore require lots of cleaning products and other chemicals in their homes. Plus they also like cats (I know!! CATS!!) which means the dreaded cat box, which can carry toxoplasmosis. Therefore, a dog’s earthling must be vigilant. Keep the litterbox somewhere the dog cannot access. Keep all chemical-bearing products and other items toxic or dangerous to dogs out of reach and behind child safety locks because dogs are smart and can learn to open doors, cabinets, trash, purses, etc., easily. Many earthlings have lost their beloved dogs this way. Did you know that pets can suffocate while playing in a chip, treat, or dog food bag? There is so much that an earthling needs to know in order to protect a dog. It’s a good thing earthlings have such huge brain capacity!
- Parent-unit earthlings used to say NO SWIMMING AFTER EATING OR YOU’LL DROWN! That turned out to be false, but earthling dog guardians don’t want their dogs to get lethal bloat, to which barrel-chested dogs are especially susceptible. Some ways to help protect against bloat are: Wait a couple hours after a meal before allowing play or exercise. Don’t feed for at least an hour or so after play/exercise. Feed two smaller meals a day rather than one big one. You should research more about this on your own since there were no formal veterinary notes in the crop circle.
- Most earthlings don’t like worms, and even though some dogs might try to eat some kinds, they probably still don’t want them living in their hearts, especially since that would be a death sentence. That is why earthlings must give their dogs Heartgard or other heartworm protection every single month, to keep heartworms from taking hold of their dogs. If some earthling declares that heartworm is rare in your area, ask that earthling how much they will pay you in losses if your dog gets heartworm. (PS: Maybe heartworm is rare because smart earthlings keep their dogs on Heartworm prevention!)
- Okay earthlings, the number 10 seems to be a BIG deal on this planet, so hopefully this will be an easy one to remember: 10 as in the PERFECT 10, as in the perfect kind of training, the kind that your dog wants, needs, and loves: POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT ONLY! Also known as R+, aka force free/pain free/fear free training (but never ever called “balanced” training, which is code for aalso uses aversive methods), you teach your dog by reinforcement, also known as ‘paying’ e.g. with treats for the behavior you want only. Look, earthling, when your bossling wants you to do something, does she drag you to your desk and then if you don’t do it, spank you, push you down, pop your belt, or alpha roll you? No, she pays you to do what she wants you do to. And do you only get paid for it the first few times? Nope, you get paid regularly. Very few earthlings would work for someone else if they were not paid to do so. If an earthling stops getting paid, he finds another job. Dogs are not too much different in that regard. Positive reinforcement training not only motivates a dog without intimidating or hurting the dog, but helps build trust between dog and earthling, and science has now shown that it is the proper way to train.
- Here are some weird dangers the earthling may never have thought of: Mail slot in the door: Why? Well, what if an earthling friend mails a box of chocolates and your dog finds it? That could be good-night doggy, since chocolate is toxic to dogs. It’s pretty much the same story for stuff left along your usual walking paths—could be a stick of gum sweetened with xylitol, also toxic to dogs, or it could be something purposely poisoned by one of those evil-lings mentioned earlier. Garden stakes and pointed fence tops: Some dogs, podencos, for example, are really bouncy. Sorry for the graphic detail, earthling, but there have been impaling accidents in other bouncy breeds; they are not as common as other accidents, but hey, do you want your dog to be that special one? Balconies and windows: Some dogs are bouncy and also jumpers; add high prey drives and low think-before-go? Then please also add keep-off balconies and raised decks, away from open windows, etc. Wire crates and baby gates: The first may be obvious. Wire is quite chewable for many dogs, leading to mouth injuries and emergency vetling visits. Baby gates, not so obvious. Be aware, earthlings, that baby gates can be strangulation hazards. Dogs can get and in fact have gotten their necks stuck in them and have died. Make sure baby gates are properly made, sized, installed, and closed. Boyfriends, roommates, and otherlings: You may be appalled to learn, earthling, that no one loves your dog as much as you do. You would be even more appalled if you read all the animal advocacy news about naughtylings who take out their anger for their spouses, friends, girlfriends/boyfriends, parents, et cetera, on those earthlings’ pets. Choose your earthling cohorts carefully is all we’re sayin’. Already have concerns? Maybe invest in some cameras. (See also our previous blog post BE YODA for thoughts on dog walkers, sitters, groomers, etc.) Snuggle-soft muzzles: So your dog needs a muzzle? But you want it to be comfy. The store clerkling hands you a fabric one because it’s soft, and streamline, and looks harmless. Nope! Those fabric muzzles prevent the dog from proper panting and therefore, especially if worn for any length of time, and moreso if the dog is stressed or it’s a warm day, can actually threaten your dog’s life, earthling. Do not do it. Get a plastic molded basket muzzle instead. They look ridiculous but allow plenty of room for air and panting, as well as drinking and even eating if you want. This list could go on and on earthling. I invite you to email us with your additions. I disinvite you to email us exclaiming how crazy I am. Rescuemoms be crazy when it comes to keeping dogs safe. Deal with it.
- For many earthlings, 12 is a sacred number, and here I present the most sacred of all topics to most earthlings: childlings. I’ll keep it short, like they are. Your childlings also have brains like you and must be taught to behave responsibly and kindly if you, earthling, expect to be a proper dog guardian of a happy, long-living dog. Childlings cannot be expected to handle dogs as adultlings do, so they must be supervised with dogs at all times. No chasing, poking, pulling, dragging, riding, hitting, or yelling, squirting, or throwing things at the dog, childlings! No taking dog toys or food away either. The adultling supervises the childling to ensure no antics occur with the dog, thus protecting both dog and childling. If a terrible mishap occurs between dog and childling, what happens next? Terrible things happen next, that’s what. But if something has happened between dog and childling, the starter question should be: Where was the adultling? Earthlings, your beloved dogs, whom you have wanted and loved, are still dogs, and will always be dogs. They communicate in Dog—via whines and jumps and stares and yips and growls and barks and snarls and nips and yes sometimes even bites. These are their only modes of communication. If you do not want them to use their natural modes of communication, you must keep them out of situations where they have something that they, quite naturally and usually innocently, understand no other alternative but to say. Do not blame the dog, earthling, if a mishap occurs. Do not say “The childling is dog-savvy”—which is unlikely, scientifically speaking, from a brain chemistry perspective. Do not say “The dog is aggressive,” which is an earthling construct lacking crucial context. You are your dog’s only advocate; you are all the dog has; you must be willing and able to remain so.** Or you must not get a dog at all. You could maybe get a hamster?
*Even though they also live on earth, dogs do not fall into the earthling category. This is because, as all dog guardian earthlings know, dogs are born as angels.
**Sometimes a dog needs behavior modification and being the dog’s advocate means hiring a behavior modification trainerling to help you. Yet every once in a while for some other reason, an earthling may decide to give up the dog. Earthling, you can do one last bit of advocacy by at least surrendering the dog to a reputable charity rescue group rather than posting to that scary place earthlings call “craigslist,” or those scary places dogs know as “the pound.” Don’t just give your dog to a friend or family member either, earthling, nor leave it somewhere alone. Rescues are your dog’s best chance for getting a safe new home where it will be truly wanted and loved. Isn’t it true that, in addition to big brains, earthlings also have big hearts? At least that’s what I keep hearing.
(blog post KADANSE by Rain Jordan)