Monday, January 2, 2017

Dogs and Owners

Over my years of dog-walking and dog-sitting, I have never ceased to be amazed by how well-trained dog owners are.  When I first go and visit and new client, I get the owners to tell me all about their dogs - their little quirks and cute tricks, and things they will do and won't do for the owners.  One of my favorite items is being told that the dog will "never" do this or that...  and they do it, happily, for me.  I easily and readily admit that my two cats have me wrapped around their whiskers, and that they are spoiled rotten.  (And their Auntie Bea, my room mate, spoils them worse than I do.)  But dogs and cats are very different - cats may run in a clowder in the wild, but they are not pack animals with an alpha leader, like dogs.  When I start taking care of any dog, I am the alpha leader, not them.
   I have been told by one client that their older dog will only eat if she's fed by hand - she eats out of her dog bowl for me.  I'm told several dogs are extremely picky eaters and that I need to offer them multiple things for their meal, until they deign to choose something.  With those dogs, I'm happy to alternate different foods at meal time, but I put one item down and tell them, "That's what you get - eat it or leave it."  The dogs might wait a few minutes, but they always eat what I give them.
   One of my favorite items involves short-coated dogs and weather.  I've been told that if it's less than 35 degrees outside, these dogs must wear a sweater or coat just to walk into the back yard and relieve themselves.  If it's below freezing, they must have their booties on.  I've been told that one dog in particular does not handle cold weather well - that if it's below freezing, his feet get so cold that he can't walk, and he falls over on his side and lies there, stiff-legged, until his owners pick him up and carry him inside.  That same dog is supposed to be allowed to wander for 20 to 30 minutes each time he goes out to potty, because it "takes him a long time to decide it's safe enough to poop."  I can tell you that that specific dog, and several others, will run outside, and do their business quickly if they don't have a coat or booties on when it's cold.
    Now, if I'm taking the dogs out for an hour's walk, or more, then, yes, they get their coats and boots put on, as well as a good coating of Paw-eeze.  The little guy who falls over stiff-legged from having cold feet (for his owners) has never pulled such a trick on me... Dogs that owners can't control when on the leash, or loose and on voice-command, I have no problems with.  I know that I'm guilty of letting my cats do crazy things - but I guess I'm the strict disciplinarian when it comes to others...

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