Sorry for not posting for a while. Unfortunately I was ill for three months. Then we lost our lovely Boxer, Sammi, which was unbearably sad. She died in her sleep in the beginning of November. Sammi was eleven – a long life for a Boxer, but we are all struggling to get over the loss of her. For my return readers, you all know Sammi pretty well.
Here she is with Sally, our Bichon Frise/Italian Greyhound mix. Sally misses her a lot and is still checking out the front door in case Sammi will suddenly appear, her whole body wagging at the sight of her best little friend.
Jake, our pit bull mix, definitely went into a depression when Sammi left us. Our good friend Loraine owned Sammi, but the dog came to us for doggy care on a regular basis. Jake bounded downstairs when Loraine and Sammi arrived, barking happily and wagging his tail. When Loraine arrived alone, he tore downstairs initially, but now seems to understand that Sammi is not coming with her.
Dogs losing their friends as Sally and Jake lost Sammi brings a tear to the eyes. How can you explain to them what has happened, why Sammi no longer comes to play, to cuddle and to go for walks with them. Goodness, can Christmas be ruined because a certain stocking is not hung by the chimney with care? Certainly it puts a dent in what was a fun activity last year.
The dogs still with us had bulging stockings this year – couldn’t make up for the one not filled, though.
Sammi had a brown stuffed dog which squeaked at our house. Sally carried it about. Jake did not destroy it as he does with his own toys, but kept leaving it in the hall by the front door. Sally left it on the bed. I hugged them more than usual, but I can’t make up for their lost friend. I wished I could see the owner of that brown stuffed dog which squeaked, too.
Yes, the good part is that a stiff, aging Boxer died peacefully. She was having trouble sitting down and getting up. Stairs were becoming a problem, I am grateful she is no longer struggling or hurting, but I so miss Sammi Freckles. She is an ache in my heart, even as I smile remembering how very special she was.
Sammi, cover girl, chosen for AstroPups.
I am dedicating this post to our Samantha, so loved, and so very missed by us all. Thanks for sharing with me – see you soon 🙂
You can almost hear this yelp from some dogs when they are faced with the dreaded stairs! Stairs sure can be a formidable challenge for senior dogs, all breeds of puppies, and some toy breeds.
Dogs in their Senior Years
I know a lot of you will relate to the day your beloved dog lets you know the years are getting the best of him or her. Stairs are the problem. Not so long ago, the dog bounded up those stairs, racing ahead of you, tail wagging, glad to be home. Nowadays, the dog stands in the hall, looking up the stairs, wondering if he or she can make it up them without falling. You put on your high, happy voice, chatting to the dog; taking his or her collar at the same time and both of you go up together. It works for a long while like this. You two can do anything together whatever the challenge might be. Eventually the day comes when the dog is reluctant to go down the stairs, and when it’s time to go back up, your high happy voice doesn’t work anymore.
I experienced this with my black Labrador retriever. His name was Hector.
Now Hector was a very sneaky dog. If you turned your back for a second, he was gone. He came back reluctantly when I recalled him.
Hector was an amazing hunter. We don’t hunt, but this didn’t stop our dog from doing what his breed demanded of him. He considered hunting was his calling. We always took off his leash when we went for walks in the fields and ahunting he would go! When Hector brought us live pheasants with a sparkle in his eyes and his tail erect, you can imagine the looks of reproach we got when we released the poor squawking birds. We thanked him for his gifts, and even apologized, but Hector was not happy.
Some hunting dogs have such a gentle mouth. Hector was one of them. When my daughter’s hamster escaped his cage, and she was sure he was lost forever, Hector would turn up, waging his tail, and placing the small creature right into her outstretched hands.
Whenever any of the family came home, he grabbed a shoe from the closet to present as a gift. His tail and whole body was wagging with joy. He was always so pleased to see his people. We told the kids to thank him for his present, even when it was a smelly old sneaker. Yuck, they said.
Most retrievers will do this if the owners understand it is part of their breed traits. When they can’t please by retrieving game, they will grab a substitute.
Years Go by so Quickly
Of course we took Hector for granted. The children adored him and he went with us in the car for many adventures. Grey hairs appeared on his muzzle and he moved to action, not leaped. Our vibrant, active dog was suddenly becoming old. We acknowledged it, but were in total denial until he could no longer come up the stairs. He whimpered at the bottom of the stairs of our split level. My husband, Pete, had to carry him up. Then the day came when he couldn’t go down the stairs. Our back yard is down one long flight and then a short flight to the patio. We had a doggie door, mid level, but there is a step, and Hector could no longer use it. Pete carried him just like he did when Hector was a little pup up and down those stairs. Tears filled my eyes. They flowed down my cheeks as Hector’s bladder weakened, and I watched him being carried down the stairs and back up more often.
Time to let go
It was when Hector could not get to his feet anymore; we decided for his sake that it was time to let him go. Of course we had taken him to the vet and were told he had arthritis and lumbar problems and this was to be expected at his age. No, Mr. Vet, it was not expected. It wasn’t supposed to happen. This was Hector!
Eventually we had to relieve him of the pain he was in. The medications the vet prescribed worked at first and then they didn’t help anymore. We made our last visit to the vet with Hector and came home without him. I thought I would die, too, that day, I hurt so much.
They make ramps of any length nowadays. Hector was our first dog, and that was a very long time ago. Pet supplies now cover almost anything your dog may need. We would have installed ramps on both sets of stairs had they been available. Tonight, we built a ramp for Sammi to get in and out of the car more easily. She still manages the stairs, but falls getting into the backseat of the car. Recently, I noticed that her face has so much white in it. I look into her sweet face, talk to her gently, and feel the sadness I never want to come. She wags her stump of a tail.
Will Sammi use the ramp? Well, it was dark by the time we built it, so we thought we should introduce it to her in the daylight. Cataracts give her poor vision. I’ll let you know how it goes. We bought the ramp from Amazon.
There are several gates and ramps available on Amazon. I will attach a link to help you explore the range.
If you have a new puppy and there are stairs in your house, you have to get a baby gate. Think of your pup as a toddler and install gates.
Going Up and Down Stairs
Of course, you are going to have to carry pups up and down the stairs initially. It is not long before they learn to go up and down all by themselves They are so proud of their new skill that some pups run up and down again and again just for the fun of it.
Most of these little dogs can leap on chairs and couches with ease. They are agile and light. Some will leap onto your lap without warning. Yet, some of them do not like stairs. It’s usually okay if your stairs are carpeted, but so many stairs nowadays are polished wood. Sally took her time accepting stairs, but my stairs have carpet on them and it wasn’t long before she raced up and down them. We took her to a friend’s house and we went down the wooden stairs to the basement to watch the kids play a Wii game. We heard Sally crying and found her at the top of the stairs. I called her, but she wouldn’t come down those wooden stairs.
Toy breeds are smart little cookies. Those wooden stairs do not feel safe to them Could be they have slipped on wooden floors and remember the experience. Carrying them up and down for their wonderful long lives is not something you would want to do. Besides, they follow you everywhere and will be most upset if you are upstairs and they can’t be with you. You can carpet those stairs. You could add treads to them just for the little dog. But if you don’t want the expense of doing either of these options, an inexpensive solution was implemented by a friend of ours for her toy breed.
Java is a Papillon Chihuahua mix. When her owners moved into a new home, Java took one look at the flight of wooden stairs and decided she didn’t like them. Her owners understood she was afraid to use them and carried the little dog up and down. However, this became tiresome, especially when they were carrying other stuff. Java doesn’t like being left at the bottom of the stairs. True to her breed traits, she wants to be with them all the time.
After several months, Java and her fear of using the wooden stairs became a problem they had to solve. They bought some rubber welcome mats and cut them into squares. They put a rubber square on each step. Yay! It worked. Java can now access the upstairs all by herself.
For those of you who live in a ranch style home, you probably never think of the problems some owners with dogs have with stairs. Stairs can be a serious problem when the dogs become seniors, when they are pups, or when the stairs are wood and too slippery for little feet.
If you want to contact me, please leave a comment or you can send me an email. My email address is on About Us – top right.
Once again, it was fun chatting with you. Thanks for visiting my blog. Please come back soon for more tips and tails. 🙂
I got a phone call recently from a friend, Kelly. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying. Finally, through sobs, I heard, “OMG, my dog is a lunatic. I don’t have a couch to stretch out on and watch TV. Now he is eating the carpet! Wasn’t the couch enough for him? I should never have got this dog!”
People have said that kind of thing to me a lot. Kelly’s dog was frustrated in his new home, missing his owners, and taking it out on the furniture. However, some people do make the wrong choice when picking a dog, and that’s what some of my blog is about.
One of the most important tips I can give you is how to get the right dog for your personality and lifestyle. Not all dogs fit as you well know, but I will introduce you to an amazing idea I had some years back on helping you to know yourself as a dog owner and the breed of dog who will be just right for you. There is more than one way, of course, but I have fully explored the concepts and will chat to you about how you can check yourself out as an owner. I am confident in my knowledge of the breed you may be thinking about.
If I can save one dog from being euthanized, I would be so grateful. Getting the wrong dog can and does lead to this sad outcome. Tears in our vet’s eyes when he put down a healthy Rottweiler because the owner couldn’t handle him prompted years of work of matching. He said, sadly, “I wish there was a way we could match breeds with people.” I set about finding ways.
One of the methods of matching personalities with breeds is by using sun sign (Zodiac) personality guides. A gifted astrologer, Jacqueline Chapple, helped me with this as I knew little about astrology except for checking out my horoscope. We know that a person is not just their suggested sun sign personality, but it is an established personality guide I could use to match breeds of dogs. I wrote a book about this and for those interested in this method, it is available on Amazon, or can be ordered through Barnes & Noble.
The book is called AstroPups and is a fountain of information on sun sign personality traits as they apply to owning a dog. We thoroughly researched 85 breeds of dogs and suggested several breeds for each sign. The book is beautifully illustrated by an award winning artist. In addition, we offer helpful training tips.
Some astrology buffs think you should pick a dog by its sign. Could be that this might influence its personality, but breed traits are the way to define a dog.
If you are interested in other ways to choose the right pup for you, I will be giving ideas and tips on every post to this blog. I will also share friends’ and family’s stories about their pets and their adventures with them.
First, though, I would like to tell you a little about myself and my dogs.
I absolutely adore animals. They are a part of my life just as my children are. Right now, I have three dogs, Sally, Jake and Samantha.
Sally is a toy breed, a cross between an Italian greyhound and a Bichon Frise.
When I was browsing in a pet store , this tiny black dog wouldn’t stop whimpering and looking sad. She was housed in an open playpen, so I picked her up to comfort her. She snuggled into me and absolutely refused to go back into her playpen.
I was looking for a Labrador pup, The pet shop was a center for local breeders, and you could see the breeders’ pups via video.
Maybe it was her bright little black eyes, full of trust, peering up at me that pushed the sale. I handed over my credit card and took Sally home. When I got home, my husband, Pete, took one look at the tiny pup nestled in my arms and said, in disbelief,, “What is it? I thought you were getting a Labrador. You’ve got a cartoon dog!”
Whoops, the lab pup was supposed to be my husband’s Christmas present and instead he got jeans and a sweatshirt. How many times have you bought something you liked for somebody else? That’s definitely what I did. Toy breeds suggested for my own sun sign (Libra) are an Italian Greyhound and a Bichon Frise. Merry Christmas to me!
My challenge dog Jake is a pit bull mix. One of my daughters brought him home to us as a rescue. At four weeks old, he was a solemn, small pup who was hesitant to receive affection. When I crated him with a soft toy and a blanket to cuddle into, he didn’t make a sound. True, our home was a new place, he had lost his mom and his siblings way too early, but it was odd that he was so very quiet. When I unlatched his crate in the morning, he just stared out at me and showed no interest in getting to know me. I advise people to get the friendly pup, eager to be friends.
Still, a rescue dog is a totally different story. That’s where the rescuers’ love for dogs is the only thing that’s important. People who rescue dogs often save their lives. Jake’s future would have been short and miserable had he not been rescued.
How that pup has changed. At over a year old now, and about 72 lbs., he is truly testing all my skills as a trainer. Those of you who have pit bulls may identify with this. Super affectionate and so much energy, he is like a speeding train when he goes on a runabout.
Jake has two best friends that he absolutely adores – little Sally and Samantha. Sammi is a purebred Boxer we bought ten years ago. From the start, she was perfect. Sammi was eager to learn, quick to obey, and soon won everyone’s hearts. Sammi loves her family and certain friends, but she is not eager to receive the affection offered by strangers.
To see Sammi as an adult, she is on the cover of AstroPups.
So many dogs, cats, rabbits, doves and even a parrot have been and are a part of our lives. They have taught me as much as I have taught them. God bless them, they have made me laugh until my sides ached and cry a river. Mostly, they have enhanced my life beyond measure.