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Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, Blue, Rodrigo, Dogs in Mud, Dog Rescue, Cattle Dog Mix, Mixed Breed Dogs

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When we were doing our homework about adopting a dog my entire focus was on long walks, dog parks, and puppy kisses.  Although I knew adopting a dog was a lot of responsibility, I was entirely focused on the fun stuff and not a lot on dog care.  I still am most of the time.  The other day, I read an article that listed 50 things the author wish he knew when he was younger.  That article inspired this one of 50 things I wish I knew about dog care when we adopted dogs.

Dogs and Their Personality

  • It takes a while for two people to come up with a dog name they’re happy with; it took us a couple of hours to name Blue (his name was Edgar Frog) and two days to name Sydney (I wanted to name her Princess or Ava).
  • Yawning doesn’t always mean “I’m sleepy.”  Dogs have so many ways of telling us how they feel and what they’re thinking.  We just have to pay attention.
  • Dogs will steal your heart in seconds.  I fell in love with Riley on the way home from picking her up.  We were fostering her, but I couldn’t let her go.  I love watching videos of her playing with Rodrigo and Sydney even though I cry every time.
  • Dogs bark.  Sometimes for a very good reason.  Sometimes just for fun.  And it’s loud.
  • Dogs don’t know what coyotes or skunks are; so it’s up to use to keep them safe.
  • Dogs hate baths and think they smell just perfectly; it’s the humans who think they stink.
  • No matter how big a dog is, they can always be a lap dog.
  • Dogs read our energy; if we’re stressed, they’re stressed.  If we’re comfy and happy, so are they.  If you make “night night time” fun, they’ll be excited.  And sometimes they’ll put themselves to bed.
  • Dogs will cringe away from you as if you abuse them in front of strangers.  Blue!  The UPS guy thinks I beat you now!  Stop barking at him.  I’m just trying to leash up your harness.
  • You will laugh every single day.
  • Crunches, sit ups, lunges, and jumping jacks look like a fun game to dogs.  Work out when they’re outside.  You can also do lunges and squats while walking the dogs.  When they stop to smell something; knocked out a set of 15.
  • Taking pictures with dogs is like trying to collect raindrops in your hands.
  • Not all dogs like other dogs.
  • Every package that comes into the house is something for them; carry it high.
  • Dogs are smarter than you think; one of your dogs will know how to open doors.
  • Get used to poo and muddy paw prints and don’t become too attached to those shoes.

Dog Training

  • Confidence and consistency is key.  If you freak out, you’re just giving your dog the cue that he or she needs to step up, because the human is out of control; plus it’s scary.
  • Even our dog trainer’s dog sometimes doesn’t come when he’s call, so it’s pointless to get frustrated when our dogs misbehave.  I choose to go with the 90%/10% rule – if our dogs are well behaved 90% of the time, then I’m winning!
  • Dogs don’t understand English, they understand some words and they mostly read our body language and energy.  Check all of the negative emotions at the door and bask in the love of all things canine when you get home.
  • Cesar Milan is evil.  It doesn’t matter what he’s done for dog rescue or rehabilitating un-adoptable dogs, he’s evil and if you plan to say anything positive about him, prepare for the attack.  I have been attacked many times for saying something positive about Cesar Milan.
  • People will judge you harshly for the smallest mistake or for simply doing something that they wouldn’t do.  For some, crate training is imperative, while others think it’s abusive.
  • Some dogs aren’t able to greet one another on a leash; it can be stressful and a play session can quickly morph into a fight.

Dog Health

  • I will call the vet at least once a month or two.  Something is always going on and we’ve learned that if the dogs aren’t displaying a drastic change in personality or crying out in pain, we need to give it a day so that we know what we’re calling the vet about.  Having three dogs gives us 3x the opportunity for an injury or allergy.
  • Everything is dangerous – their food, their environment, the dog park, other dogs.  After reading some blogs and following Dr. Becker, sometimes I wonder if I should put my babies in a bubble.  Dog parents have to educate themselves about dog care.
  • There are old school veterinarians and new age veterinarians and vets who have a foot in both worlds.  If your vet makes you feel like an idiot for asking a question or doing your own homework, run and find a new vet!
  • You can use social media to connect with holistic veterinarians across the country who will make dog parenting a lot easier and open your eyes to new dog care methods.
  • Pet insurance isn’t cheap and researching for the best pet insurance carrier pretty much sucks.  Oh and they don’t offer discounts; if you come across one that does; run.
  • Dogs get car sick; pumpkin and frozen yogurt (for dogs) is great for car sickness.
  • Hiding pills in peanut butter doesn’t work forever; shake it up and use marshmallows or turkey hot dogs.
  • Just like with humans, stress exhausts dogs.  Prepare for thunderstorms and fireworks with long walks and play sessions before the noise starts.
  • You’ll need a first aid kit for the house and each car.

Dog Food

  • There is a dog food recall every single month and even the premium brands can experience a dog food recall.  The FDA may not act fast enough so (once again) dog parents need to be educated.  And don’t toss the packaging; you’ll need to be able to match up the UPC code should a recall be announced.
  • Premium kibble isn’t enough.  Grain free isn’t enough.   Even a raw food diet may not be enough.  There are so many options and everyone is only too happy to tell you what’s best.
  • Cooking for your dogs is fun, but time consuming.  You will not keep it up even though you have the best of intentions.  And buying the food in bulk at Costco doesn’t save any money.
  • Dogs can be allergic to chicken; but that doesn’t mean they’re allergic to turkey – go figure.
  • Many pet food companies will talk to you about nutrition and their food; especially if you’re a blogger with a big mouth who can help them promote their product.

Dog People

  • Unsolicited advice will fly at you regularly.  Everyone means well.  They’re advising you based on their experience with dogs and other dog parents.  There will be days when you want to scream, but pause, count to ten, take a deep breath, smile and say thank you.  By the way, if you do this in front of someone, they’ll notice.
  • If someone touches your dog (or acts like they plan to), flip the hell out; show people how you and your dogs expect to be treated.
  • If someone makes a false claim about your dog (they’re aggressive, violent, have caused injury), flip the hell out, but politely.  There’s nothing more satisfying than throwing logic back into the face of a liar.  Especially when they threaten to call the police and you can point to your boyfriend and say “he can take your report, the’s a deputy.”  Booo-yow!
  • Not everyone is a dog lover.
  • Not everyone wants to look at new pictures of the puppies or hear new, cute stories about their antics. Shocking, I know.
  • Not everyone thinks walking dogs off leash is a great idea and loads of fun.
  • Not everyone thinks it’s adorable with your dogs bark and lunge at them.  They’re on the leash.

Dog Rescue

  • Dog breeders are greedy, selfish, evil animal abusers.  If you even hint that there is such a thing as a “reputable breeder” then prepared to be called several not so nice names from people who have only interacted with people who run puppy mills.  I’ve been personally attacked for believing reputable breeders exist.
  • Dog rescue workers are a very passionate group of people, it’s fantastic to support dog rescue, but set boundaries on what you’ll take into your experience.  If you can’t handle the pictures, don’t allow someone to make you feel like you’re not really as supporter.
  • You can set up a recurring donation to your favorite dog rescue group.

Dogs and Finances

  • Two dogs are way more than twice the work and twice the expense; three dogs are expensive.
  • If you’re dog parents, then recognize that raising dogs is a partnership and you’re not alone.  Talk about finances, training, chores, nutrition, and health regularly.  Make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Sick time doesn’t cover when you stay home with a sick dog.
  • Vacation plans include the dogs; either you take them with or you hire a pet sitter.

 

Now it’s your turn – what are a few things you wish you would have known before you adopted a dog (or two, or three).


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