Hart Ford
Hart Ford
Home Columns, Opinions & Misc. Being a dog 'parent'

Being a dog ‘parent’

I was enjoying a deep, REM stage nirvana sleep, dreaming away when I felt something on my left hand.
As I worked my way out of REM and began to reach consciousness, I realized it was Cali dog, licking my hand to wake me up. It was dinner time! My dogs do not wear a watch; I’ve checked, so I cannot figure out how they know it’s time for each meal, usually within minutes of mealtime.
I just love the excitement the words “Dinner Time” elicit from my furry pals. The ecstatically happy faces, dancing paws, and joyful noises. I have trained them to wait until I place the dinner bowls on the floor. And then the games begin.

Based on the excitement, all of the commotions, the speed and agility of a ninja they begin to eat. They make a noise similar to the big machines that grind up cars into metal scraps. The feeding frenzy continues until the bowls are empty.

Dogs do not eat to enjoy the taste or the ambiance. They gobble, gulp, and vacuum up the food like a Dyson ® animal vacuum. Yes, my usually well-trained pooches, totally change personalities and appear as a shark, piranha, raptor mix as they consume a cup of food faster than Scotty could beam up Captain Kirk on Star Trek!

Being a good Doggie Dad, I have them trained to be able to let me pick up their bowls without a growl. I also can take anything out of their mouths, unless they swallow it too fast before I can get to them. That can be an essential skill if you have a toddler over that runs up to try their kibble.

Dog training is a labor of love requiring a lot of patients, and as Caesar Milan puts it, use a “Calm Assertive Style!” Doggies do feed off your energy if you ramp your voice or demeanor up, so do they.

My rescue dog Charlie was a bit of a challenge to train. He was 8 months old when he came into our lives, did not seem to have any training commands.

I began to believe that his ears were there for decorative purposes. I would command, “Charlie, come!” he would look at me like a teenager being asked to cut the lawn, absolutely clueless and non-committal. Then he would go about exploring the yard.

Using a calm assertive style along with some small treats. He began to come to me for a treat, and after a few weeks, would come on command. That is a critical command word for their safety as well as others.

Doggies do learn from each other, my other dog about the same age, but trained from a pup, would walk with me off-leash no problem, but she learned from Charlie boy that she could go wherever she wanted and paid no attention to my commands. She trained back up after a few months, Charlie boy took about a year and a half to be able to listen and work as a team off-leash.

I love walking my dogs off-leash, no pulling on my arms. In summer, no pulling on their leashes is strenuous because when to 80-pound doggies see a rabbit and begin to pull, it is difficult to contain. In the winter, on the snow or an icy spot, you can go down to the ground very quickly and dangerously.

There is nothing better than a well-behaved dog. My dogs fit that description until someone comes to visit. Their behavior shifts to look like someone that just won the lottery.

Visitors come in two sizes, they either love dogs or have no use for them. I’m still working on the sit command when company comes over. We have not yet mastered this situation. But like all of us, it’s a work in progress. So, when you see us walking off-leash, no need to worry, they will not come to you unless I give them the “Okay” command. Good doggies!

“Remember, every day is a gift! Some are just a little more fun to open than others. – © Joel M. Vernier 06/23/2020 Author of: “The Guinea Pig In The Freezer.” joelmvernier@aol.com

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