The Most Terrifying Day of the Year – Happy 4th of July!

 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

- Benjamin Franklin

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When I was a kid, my grandma had a dog named Patches.  He was the sweetest beagle ever.  A bit stoic for a beagle, he wasn’t really into playing much, but he was a solid companion.  He was one of those dogs who never did anything wrong – he was trustworthy both in and out of the house.  He never needed a leash, and he didn’t have a fenced-in yard.  Didn’t matter; he never even thought about leaving the yard.

I’ll never forget Fourth of July when I was 11 years old.  Patches would have been roughly 13 at that point.  A senior most definitely, but a healthy, sprightly old man.  Most of my  mom’s side of the family was spending the holiday at my grandma’s house:  at least 18 of my 22 cousins, plus aunts uncles – it was a kid heaven.  At dusk the adults started to light some fireworks.  We had a great time.  We headed home around 10:00.  Traffic was unusually heavy on the street where my grandma lived.  It took us a while to navigate.  When we got home, we found out why.

Patches had been hit and killed by a car.

The dog who had always been so stoic, truly a Pilot of a dog, had been frightened by the fireworks and run into the street.  Nobody had bothered to check to see where he was because the dog had never left his boundary in his entire life!  Not to chase squirrels (he stopped at the perimeter), not when guests came (he met them at the driveway).  Never.  Of course if we had realized he was terrified, we would have taken measures to ensure his comfort and safety.

Sparta and Orion have a fenced-in yard.  They will be spending the 4th in their crate, with soft music playing (I almost always have music on in my house, so this will seem normal, if not a bit louder, to them).  My pets’ safety is all on me.  It’s my job to make sure they are happy and healthy.  Things that may not seem scary to me may be terrifying to them, so even though they’ve never shown any signs of fear in the past from fireworks or thunderstorms, I’m still going to make sure they are contained.  It’s my job as Pilot.

Fourth of July is the busiest day for animal wardens.  Dogs (and cats) become scared and run off.  Some never return.  Take some precautions to avoid tragedy:

  • Exhaust your dog before nightfall.  Exercise creates a natural state that make your dog want to sleep.  Help them to sleep through the scary parts.
  • Secure your dog in their crate.  For added security, a blanket can be placed over the crate (it will insulate some of the noise).  Just make sure that the dog is comfortable, and not overheated if you add a blanket, and always leave a few inches of the crate uncovered for ventilation.
  • Make sure your dog has their tags on, and consider microchipping. It could be their ticket home.
  • If your dog is terrified, Pilot them.  You can’t soothe them.  They are legitimately frightened, and speaking to them in a high, whiney, “soothing” voice is counterproductive.  They need a Pilot, not another source of stress.  Read how to accomplish this here.
  • If your dog needs to eliminate, take them outside on a leash.
  • Ask your vet about medication if your dog has a history of reacting badly.  I’m against casual medication of dogs because they are “too hyper” or “anxious” during normal situations.  Those dogs need Piloting.  This is not a normal situation.  Before I get on an airplane, I have drink.  A strong one (or two).  I’m terrified of heights, and it takes the edge off.  That’s all you’re looking to do:  take the edge off of a truly terrifying and abnormal situation.  Again, consult your vet.  Do not self-medicate.

I do miss Patches, though it’s 25 years later.  He was a good dog.  Perhaps he would have lived only a few more months before succumbing to old age.  Perhaps he would have lived a few more years.  Regardless, his life was cut short due to ignorance.  I now know better.  I will Pilot my dogs through the Fourth of July.

Keep calm and pilot onKerry Stack
Darwin Dogs LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

When Pugs Were Pugs

 Don’t you see the danger, John, inherent in what you’re doing here? Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet’s ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun. – Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park
Photo: charlesdeluvio

Photo: charlesdeluvio

I love dog training, and I am fortunate enough to be constantly learning.  One of the greatest sources of growth for me has been my clients and readers.  You never let me down with your succinct and intelligent commentary.
Recently, a post on breeders vs. rescuing.  Karen Privitera’s response to the debate blew me away:
Forgive me; this is going to be long….I am conflicted.
Pugs have been a part of my family for three generations … they’ve been part of us for well over 85 years. For years, I knew of no other families with pugs; but we had magazines, books and pug organizations …and we had no debilitating medical problems with our dogs.

My earliest memories are of correcting people; it seemed like nobody knew what they were:
“he’s not a bulldog, he’s a pug”
“no, he didn’t run into a wall”
“that’s not very nice, he’s not ugly…I love him”

Fifty, forty years ago — I didn’t see pugs with their tongues hanging out constantly (birth defect); I wasn’t hearing or reading about nasal enlargement surgeries or the rest of it.

For the past 5 decades, none of our pugs have been purchased from a breeder; they have all been from shelters and legit rescue programs. One was adopted after being featured on Captain Penny’s Pooch Parade in the 1960s.

In 1981, a pug won Best of Show at Westminster. I recall telling my Vet that I hoped that “win” didn’t set off crazy popularity. I remember him looking at me oddly and asking “why?”.
I was shocked that he didn’t seem to be thinking —or concerned — about the long-term ramifications of a frenzy of bad breeding.
But that’s exactly what happened — and suddenly pugs were everywhere: in commercials, on greeting cards, etc.

…then “Men In Black” contributed to the irresponsible growth of the breed and so on & so on…

Ask long-time Dalmatian breeders what happened after the 101 Dalmatians movie came out.

Not a single pug of my grandparents’, my aunt or my immediate family ever required nasal surgery or had medical issues related to their respiratory system.
None of them were ever used for breeding.

Truth be told, I wish the day would come where only responsible, licensed, well-regulated breeders are permitted to sell animals.
I *wish* there weren’t so many animals dumped, abandoned, “born just for profit”; I will spend the rest of my life only having pets that come from those unfortunate situations.

I personally will not go to a reputable breeder, ever, for any future pets … not while so many other dogs are in shelters.
I wish I could.

In a different world, how I wish the breed hadn’t exploded — bringing all the physical problems now suffered by these sweet animals and perpetuated by greed & ignorance.

The breed is not inherently bad: irresponsible breeders are BAD.
Don’t buy from the Amish, EVER.
Don’t buy from people who “just wanted their dog to have one litter” and have no idea what the hell they’re doing.
Don’t purchase off of Craigslist; be responsible and do some damn research.

And while I’m on my soapbox: there’s no such thing as “teacup” or “miniature” or “micro” — they’re the result of runts being bred to runts. None of that is good.

Photo attached of my Grandpa — long before me. Sadly, these healthy pugs don’t look like what you see today.

Pic courtesy of Karen Privetera

Pic courtesy of Karen Privitera

Thank you, Karen, for stating exactly what needed to be said.

keep

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio