Chihuahua dog watching through a window -stayathome

How to Help Your Dog Thrive through the #StayatHome Policy

Dogs are remarkably resilient animals, surprising us with their fight through incredibly tough circumstances over and over again. But dogs are also social creatures that need the outdoors to thrive. Despite being able to lean on you for social support, staying at home will not be an easy pill to swallow for most of them. 

The outdoors is calling for long walks, countless sniffs, hanging around other canine friends, and, yes, for something as ubiquitous and taken for granted under normal circumstances – going potty. Moreover, when you are “stranded” at home, you may become more anxious and/or depressed as an owner and affect the dog’s wellbeing, as well. 

For now, the full liberty to move around hasn’t been restricted but the #stayathome policy is inevitably changing one of the most wonderful aspects of being a dog owner: freely exploring the neighborhood with your dog as you meet with others who like to share the same experience.  

So, what can you do to make it easier for both of you to go through days, weeks, maybe even months (we don’t know) of not being able to get out as you please?

1. Stay assertive and calm.

Easier said than done, especially if we consider the good old adage: “Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being able to calm down”. 

However, your dog needs your sanity and assertive manner. Therefore, do all that you can to mentally adapt to the new circumstances and accept that your life for now just cannot go on as it used to be. 

Acceptance of human vulnerability and gratitude for the time in solitude help establish a flexible mindset that will serve you well during self-isolation. 

Try not to project fears in the future or make assumptions about what will happen next. Listen to your gut about how to best cope with the situation. Then, think of the practical stuff for your dog.

2.  Create a dog supply list.

Food and medicine top the list, of course. 

Purchase your kibble, get flea, tick, and worms pills from the vet. It is not easy to plan for a different species when we are in times like this, but with a little careful consideration, this time may be the time to bond with your dog like you never did before. 

Think of anything you may need for reshaping your dog’s life from the one with lots of outdoor activity to staying within four walls for long periods. 

Consider point number 3 below as you may need to add dog diapers to your list. 

3. Going potty.

Now we come to something that can be a serious problem for some dog owners. If you live in a house with a small yard, there is an easy solution: you can just open the back door and let your dog do its business at the corner of the yard. 

But what about people who live in apartments and need to go out several times a day for the dog’s potty? 

If  you are unable to go out whenever you like because of restrictions, you might consider doing the following arrangements:

  • Dogs like going potty in an area that they’ve used before. In the worst-case scenario, if you are unable to go outside at all, you need to recreate the experience as close as possible to the real thing. 
  • Behave like you are doing the usual walk. Get your walking shoes and clothes on and grab the leash. 
  • Assign an area in your house that will serve as the potty area – think the hall, under the stairs, the garage, the attic, the toilet, even the corner of a room if nothing else works. 
  • Go back to old times and recollect potty training tips, such as using a dog diaper to mark the area or setting a real grass patch or an artificial dog potty turf. Some of them include a bottom drawer tray that is easy to clean and will help your dog do its thing when inside. 

Be patient, it may not be easy at first, but it will work out after a few days. 

4. At-home physical activity

In line with the “A tired dog is a good dog”, take care to provide enough physical activity now that your dog cannot go for long walks or run in parks. 

One of the best ways to engage anxious stay-at-home dogs, and include children, too, is to organize an at-home agility training or a secret hunt maze. 

  • Use dining room chairs to set a tunnel covered with a tablecloth or linen. 
  • Children love tents and dogs love safety areas: the final goal could be them arriving in the cozy, safe area of an improvised tent
  • Get an old tire or a hula-hoop to use it as a jumping hoop. 
  • Use plastic plates or Tupperware to replace cones for the zig-zag walk. 

Naturally, it would be ideal if you could do this in a yard, but if you can’t, remove all furniture that could pose the risk of the dog (less likely) or kids (more likely) hurting themselves. 

Ropes, duct tape, elastic string, a tape measure, scissors, glue are among the other equipment you will need. 

Get creative – now is the time to recycle unused stuff you hoard in case you need it – great, you need it now, make the most of it.  

5. Go virtually social. 

Most of us would agree that we never have enough of watching dogs and cats being cute, crazy, funny, loving, confused, guilty, nurturing, smart or hardworking on the Internet. Hence, maybe now is the perfect moment to open an Instagram account or a Youtube channel and share more about our precious dog. 

Sharing your coping strategies could help others and build connections you never expected, and even build a business! It has never been easier to do that and hopefully will benefit your life of a grounded dog owner.

Stay strong. The times are tough but your dog will love you nonetheless. Love them back by helping them adapt in return! 

Featured image credit: Image by robo1214 from Pixabay

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Black and white image of Leonard Seppala holding the real Togo

Watch ‘Togo’, The Movie (2019): It Will Be the Best 2 Hours You’ve Spent During the Coronavirus Crisis

Scrolling hypnotically through my social media feed in search of some common sense in the current panic-ridden world, I came across a friend who shared how his family filled the self-quarantine hours. 

His suggestions weren’t altogether alike the examples of parents who do scavenger hunts and agility games to entertain anxious (read: energy-driven) stay-at-home children. But they were, nonetheless, true jewels: he spent a couple of the lockdown hours watching ‘Wonder’ and ‘Togo’ together with his kids. 

A Precious Movie to Watch Alone or with Family

The first one of his movie suggestions is on my ‘Favorite 100-or-so Movies of All Times’ list and I couldn’t recommend it more as a family movie: kudos for the wonderful heartwarming story starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as parents of the wonder-turned-hero fifth-grader Auggie (played by Jacob Tremblay). ‘Wonder’ will teach you a few lessons and remind you of the powers you don’t think you have. 

That movie, I knew. But ‘Togo’? Nope, it was new to me. Seeing that it has a 92% user rating on Rotten Tomatoes, my curiosity was stirred, especially since I know how merciless the spoiled ketchup fruits can get. (For comparison, ‘Wonder’ has a score of 85%.)

But when I read it pictures the uncommon bond between dogs and humans, I didn’t hesitate for a moment – my curiosity went over the top. I went straight on to watch it that evening. 

Togo Changed Me, and It Might Just Change You, Too

A single movie rarely has that powerful effect to change me, but ‘Togo’ did. If you love dogs, this one will be a treat. For those that you want to discover your truths about the movie without getting any spoiler alerts, this may be a good moment to stop reading this overview. However, I will try to avoid overly disclosure of the facts so that your viewer’s experience doesn’t suffer as a result. 

Regardless of how factual your knowledge gets before you watch it, ‘Togo’ has mesmerizing cinematography and a screen-worthy true story that represents powerful emotions via pictures and story flow I couldn’t possibly elaborate in a text. Therefore, even if you read all the movie reviews and watch all the trailers, you will still enjoy the actual movie show immensely. 

This is a Disney fable so part of the story at the end has been changed. A take on what has happened is told in this video. However, from the comments below, it’s noticeable that what is the true story of Togo remains to be questioned. Since it is a new movie, books are being written and facts gathered from multiple resources as we speak. 

Despite the incongruity in stories, the majority of the facts are indisputable and well represented in ‘Togo’ (2019). One thing is certain – Togo is one remarkable, special dog.

Togo: The Braveheart Husky

For those of you that haven’t heard of it, Togo is the name of the lead sled husky running the most dangerous 261 miles of the 1,085 km or 674 miles long Alaska Serum Run that took place in 1925. A relay of twenty sleds was formed to help the isolated and epidemic-stricken town Nome in Alaska get the diphtheria antitoxin, which would help the sick children overcome the disease. 

Yes, a century ago, people died from the disease. The adverse weather and poor infrastructure blocked any other means of transportation. Dog-ran sleds were the only viable option. Each of the dog teams from the relay ran approximately 30 miles. It was only Togo that mastered an incomparable challenge of running almost ten times more. 

Given the comfort we currently live in, ‘Togo’ is a true eye-opener. Togo’s owner, the Norwegian Leonhard Seppala, breeds working dogs in the Alaska mountains, living in harsh conditions, that, from today’s perspective, look insurmountable. His wife keeps him company while he tries to realize the cherished dream of finding gold, an incentive for many of his kind that moved to Alaska in search of a better life. 

Togo, smaller in size than the others, is at first adored by his wife but not so by Leonhard who thought the Siberian husky is too weak to be a sled dog. Slowly but persistently, Togo manages to grow into his owner’s heart, showing incredible stamina and intelligence. Despite being smaller, he has the heart of the winner, he is a true wolf. 

Why I Recommend Seeing ‘Togo’

Togo will not only win his master’s heart and soul but the hearts of anyone watching this incredible tale of a dog’s loyalty and devotion. The movie is rated as ‘PG, yet it can be a delight for young children with a parent’s support during a few specific scenes. 

Why should you watch it? Here’s why”

  • Enjoy exhilarating photography of Alaska’s ice sceneries and amazing green nature in warmer periods
  • Gain perspective of how spoiled, comfortable, and healthy we are compared to a hundred years ago, i.e. develop gratitude
  • Appreciate dogs even more for how forgiving and loyal they are. (Spoiler alert: get the tissues ready for some real tearjerker moments.)
  • Bond with family or other loved people in your love focusing on what truly matters 
  • Smile at Togo’s escape endeavors – beautiful moments of husky’s devotion and relentless desire for freedom
  • Maintain your sanity intact and forget about the Coronavirus for at least a couple of hours

Dog lovers, you won’t need much persuasion to watch this gem of a true story. Others, after you are done with ‘Togo’, dogs may finally start growing under your skin. You have most probably heard of Balto, the lead dog of the final sled that got his pictures taken by the local newspaper photographer, and whose statue is now placed in NYC Central Park. At the time, he got all the credit.

 

Togo’s skeletal remains have been donated to the Peabody Museum at Yale University by his last owner, Mrs. Elizabeth Ricker of Poland Springs Maine. He may not have been recognized for his heroic success back in 1925 but at least this movie is a partial tribute to his contribution to the lives of dozens of sick children who didn’t face favorable prospects without his bravery. Togo, thank you! 

Featured Image Credit: History 101

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A Basset Named Isaac - Chapter 17 two lab puppies

Chapter 17 – Love is Not Magic, It’s a Decision

“We must speed things up, Pixie! If you do this well, and I’m sure you will, we will spend hours together, sharing stories and contemplating life wisdom”. Marshall’s face opened in a wide grin as he started picturing his new disciple’s adventures in the future. He loved being there for someone, as he knew too well what it’s like to have to take care of your own business very young, all by yourself.

“The sixth principle of love is about dedication. Dedication is a simple thing, but many people fail short in meeting it. They think love is some esoteric force that comes out of nowhere and swipes them off of their feet. 

“Does this have something to do with the saying saying ‘swept off one’s feet’, Marshall?” asked Pixie.

“Good point. It has. People often say that someone swept them away off their feet when they fell madly in love. They attribute too many magical qualities to the other person, believing it’s all about the other. But this is a trick our mind plays on us, Pixie. Falling in love and staying in love is a lesson of self-discovery. Unfortunately, people easily know how to fall in love, but rarely know how to stay in the maelstrom. The art is in the stay because that’s when one’s shadow starts creeping in.”

“Shadow? What kind of shadow? The one that shows up in the sun?” Pixie was getting more and more curious.

“Ha-ha! Not exactly, although exposure to the sun is a good metaphor for what happens when two people fall in love. There must be light for a shadow to come up. If we live in constant darkness, we will see no shadows at all. This is about the shadow inside.”

“I guess that Daniel and Pixie have a lot of shadows in their worlds, then!”

“Probably. We all do. You see, the worst part about shadows is that we don’t know we have them until the light is on. And that’s what two people are to each other. Lighthouses. Pocket lamps. We only get to truly know our shadows if someone directs a ray of light directly at us, and that’s what takes place in relationships.”

“Are Daniel and Charlene each other’s lighthouses?”

“They may be. People have complementary shadows. They are perfect for pairing because what one lacks the other is providing, albeit unconsciously. Often, such awareness leads to hurting ourselves and others. We think we love them, but we don’t. We don’t know how. No one has taught us how to love because we have only seen hurtful things. That’s why we need to help Daniel and Charlene learn this.”

“But how come dogs help them? I don’t get it! People seem to be living the best life, why do they hurt each other so much?”

“Ah, it seems they do. And some do, that’s for sure. But many don’t. Nonetheless, the difference between falling in love and staying in love is learning to dance with the shadows. Shadows have a nasty habit of surprising you when you least expect. Dedication in love means staying with the shadows and working through them until they become radiant pieces of your soul again,” added Marshall.

“Love is not magic, though it can feel so nice, people believe they are enchanted. Love is a decision.”

Marshall’s words reverberated in Pixie’s head as she was growing into a completely new dog.

Chapter 16 A Basset Name Issac husky dog

Chapter 16 – Pixie Flourishes as Her Heart Grows Bigger

Pixie was one third into her training but was already feeling the fur on her back raising with a pleasant pull. The blood in her body tingled with the sweetest tiny tremors and her eyes started sparkling with a newly-found vigor. It was something she has never felt before. 

Those wise healing words pierced through the core of her being and touched at the softest tissue inside. Even for a dog for whom love comes naturally, Pixie was astounded by Marshall’s acumen. His therapeutic words made her stop in her tracks. She was full of love but young and inexperienced. And she never had a guide, a mentor, or someone pointing the right way forward without all those painful learning from her own mistakes.

“I wonder if Daniel and Charlene had such a person in their lives… I wonder if someone taught them how to love themselves, appreciate the moment, and love another without expectations and calculations. Heck, I am just trying to make sense of it all myself and I am a dog! As Marshall says, we know better. If dogs can be so far back in the lessons in love, how far back are humans?” 

Pixie was having this self-talk as she began to understand that there is so much in life she doesn’t know anything about. And that she was lucky to have met Isaac and got on Marshall’s team. Her heart started filling with warmth, kindness, and compassion unfamiliar to the times spent leading her pack. 

She started gaining a new appreciation of life. People seemed less scary. Her fear was diminishing as she started to understand then better. The only problem was, will they be able to reciprocate? Will they learn tough love lessons in so little time? Can Isaac and her inhabit Daniel and Charlene in a single night and consider the job done? Her doubts went up as she asked the old wise pug:

“Can we get this finished in just one night, Marshall? It seems very unlikely. I have a feeling the damage done to these two has taken many years. It can’t be solved with quick-fix solutions, can it? It just looks impossible!,” Pixie shared her concerns loudly.

“Indeed, Pixie. You are partially right. Yet, I’ve seen instant transformations with people we have inhabited in the past.”

“There was this drug addict who went into a withdrawal crisis and beat his own mother so hard that she ended up in intensive care. I think his name was Jay or at least that what people used to call him. It was short of something – Jordan, or James, maybe. He almost died that same night because he took a large dose afterwards and went fully unconscious. 911 arrived at the last minute and put him in intensive care, just a few rooms across from his mom.”

“Fortunately enough, Jay had a colleague with a freshly adopted husky – Simon, who spent some time on our team.”

“Did his colleague call 911?”, Pixie’s curiosity was growing. 

“Yes. Simon decided to make Mark his forever mate (that was the name of the colleague and adoption guy) and found himself on the hospital bed together with him when they went to visit Jay. Jay was already on the brink of desperation, his life losing all sense or meaning due to the low he managed to get to – how could he do that, he thought? How did he ever come to that point to hurt people that love him the most so badly? 

“Amidst the worst of his torment, Simon hopped on his bed and licked his face. Then he howled with that famous ancient husky howl that sounds like it had traveled through time and space and will go on to reverberate in eternity.” 

“The sound of that howl made Jay break into tears. He wept for two nights without a pause. It was terrible. He had intravenous support but the withdrawal symptoms started to kick in hard. His pain went from the usual hardness he knew to unbearable physical and emotional pain he had never faced before.”

“Guilt and awakened conscience took their toil and he felt worthless. He called himself a piece of shit so many times those two nights.”

“Did he get better eventually?”, Pixie was growing fond of Jay already, her natural canine compassion revealing itself.  

“Be patient, Pixie! Mark noticed Simon’s impact on Jay’s well-being and decided to break hospital rules. He sneaked into the room during the night and left Simon through the night to stand by Jay’s side” smiled the pug.  

“What about security, Marshall? Didn’t they kick the dog out or press charges against the irresponsible owner? Or did Simon have some therapy dog license?”

“Nope. Simon wasn’t a therapy dog. But Mark was clever. He did this when security wasn’t watching. They didn’t give dogs visitor badges, so no one knew that the dog sleeps by Jay’s side each night calming him as he was suffering. Simon was very quiet when he wanted to help people. He didn’t make a sound, just calmly slept next to Jay’s feet and licked his arm when Jay would start panicking. Mark came back in the mornings and took the dog out. So, all went smoothly. 

“It only took 48 hours and a husky full of love for Jay to change his ways. This was a rare case, Pixie, but it happens. Generally speaking, you are right – it takes longer for love to penetrate and complete a deep healing cycle for people to be able to wholeheartedly love themselves and others. Some never do”, sadly mentioned Marshall.

“This is the perfect moment to talk about principle number five: love takes time. Simple, but very powerful words for people who are used to instant gratification, including Charlene, who loses herself into another, and Daniel with his almost predatory attitude, who thinks the world exists to serve him,” concluded Marshall. 

“Goodness me, we will never get this done if I continue with the storytelling. Let’s not digress and come back to the task at hand. Deep healing is not what we are doing tonight. We are just doing the initiation. The rest of principle number five will take a little longer,” said Marshall.

“Don’t stop your stories, Marshall! I love them!”, exclaimed Pixie. “Each contains precious gems of wisdom. I learn a lot from them. But I agree, let’s continue with the principles. What’s next?” 

A Basset Named Isaac Chapter 15 - pug dog close up

Chapter 15 – Third and Fourth Principle of Love

“But both of them are very different, Marshall. One is the black moon and the other is the golden sun. One is a wrecking ball, the other one is a dandelion in the wind. One is a forceful spring that makes its own riverbed wherever it goes. The other one is meandering like a huge, calm waterway that has found its peace in the valley. It’s so gentle, it’s invisible.

“They seem like the total opposite. How could the twelve principles work on them both? “I’m not sure how that would work out. If I inhabit Pixie, and Isaac inhabits Charlene, wouldn’t the same principles just separate them further apart?”

“That’s a great question, Pixie. I see where you are coming from. But love is not about maths. It doesn’t work with statistical precision. Or,  rather, it isn’t simple math – it is a complex function – university level math. It is not a simple addition or extraction with pluses and minuses. It’s not linear. It doesn’t go one way only on a straight line.”

“It’s circular, concentrical, multidimensional, irrational. Just like irrational numbers. Pure chaos, sometimes. Gosh, I blabber too much about maths and our minutes are numbered…” 

“So, principle number three is pretty simple, short, and sweet: in love, there is no calculation. If you are calculating and representing people and their actions through numbers or put them on an end of a spectrum, you are not loving, you’re manipulating. Love is horizontal. No one is better or worse. Everyone is a human being deserving of respect and reverence. See what I mean?”

“Fine, but we do have some hierarchy as dogs. And it can sometimes get pretty violent. It’s not that everyone is equal.”

“Ah, yes… It can get violent. Bloody feral, you are right.”  

The corners of Marshall’s eyes swelled with unresolved memories as he remembered the number of canines he loved and that loved him back through the years. The wet sparkle made his big sad pug eyes even bigger and his wrinkly, downward-facing, frowny muzzle even heavier as he remembered the dogs that left him. 

Some of them were like family. “My own family,” he thought. “And now, there is no one left. I am the oldest. From time to time, it can feel terribly alone.” Such heavy thoughts were frequent visitors lately as he was becoming more and more aware of the shortness of a dog’s life, so much shorter than what humans get on average.    

“But dogs never hurt each other out of spite or pure evil, like humans often do, Pixie. For food and shelter, maybe. Sometimes, when they are young and stupid, out of fear. But never, never just to cause pain… And what’s even more important, they never hurt themselves on purpose.” 

“We have an incredibly healthy sense of self-preservation. Which brings us to principle number four: your love must always include yourself, too, otherwise, it’s not love.

You see, I’m not sure either one of our targets for tonight knows how to do that properly. On the surface, it looks like Daniel is completely in love with himself. All that bloated self-esteem and high opinions about himself would make you think he truly loves himself. But all that overworking, overexercising, overdrinking, hooking-up, is that really a sign of self-love?”

“Think about it, Pixie! What would happen if you forget how to sleep, eat well, form long-lasting bonds with other dogs, and nourish your soul by doing what becomes us naturally? And that is to love like we are the love masters of the universe!” 

Pixie listened thoughtfully and started thinking about Charlene: “I guess Marshall is right. All that softness and passivity can’t be good for her. Does she put herself into the love equation? Why is she letting people walk all over her, especially that arrogant, bull-headed, deeply unhappy colleague of hers, Daniel?”           

A Basset Named Isaac - Chapter 12 razor blade

Chapter 12 – Daniel’s Drinking and Violence Problem

Daniel has just finished his daily workout and sat cross-legged in front of the window, staring into the dark, at the lights dimming across from the windows of skyscrapers that were far, far away, too far from each other to offer a chance for humans that lived in them to ever encounter each other’s eyes. He sipped from the whiskey glass, scratching his two-day stub. He was too lazy to shave the beard today. And girls liked it anyway. 

Another thought crossed his mind but he dismissed it as swiftly as it entered his consciousness. Sharp as a blade, the thought pierced through his calm demeanor and reminded him of something he was trying to forget by not thinking about it. Somewhere deep in the back of his head, he knew that he loved the beard because it covered the scar on his left cheek. 

He hated shaving it because, if he was not careful, the coarse upper skin would interfere with the smooth shaving strokes and the scar would start bleeding. He wasn’t as skilled with the hand stroke on the left, causing him to reopen the scar more than he thought was only by chance. 

Daniel used to shave his face the old way, just as his father did, with a razor blade. “Well, that’s about all that I’ve learned from my old man”, he thought. 

“That, and how to tell the difference between a good and a bad whiskey”, he laughed sarcastically as the whiskey was taking over and he didn’t even notice that he was scratching so hard that the scar started bleeding again. 

A dog’s bark nearby brought him back to his body and his immediate senses. It was Shark calling for Isaac and Pixie to wait for him.

“Damn it, you bastards!”, Daniel grew so angry that he opened the window and threw the half-empty glass at the dogs, breaking it into tiny pieces, the crystal of the expensive glassware spreading across the street into worthless sparkle, glowing on the candelabra and reminding Daniel he just wasted another sixty dollars of the luxury set. This was the second glass from the set of six he had broken by throwing it on stray dogs, but he didn’t care. For all the problems he had, money was not one of them. Young, ambitious, and handsome, he was among the top performers in his company. Deviant as he was successful, Daniel overdrunk on whiskey on Friday nights, especially when the next day was the Saturday visit day. 

Visit days were once a month, usually on the last Saturday of each month. They were a nightmare for Daniel, regardless of how cool he kept it on the outside. Each Saturday visit day, he went to see his old man in the senior’s residency out of town. All that whiskey just lessened the pain of the imminent meeting and helped him forget about how unhappy he was under all that surface glamour.

“Watch it, Issac, glasses are flying again!”, Shark warned his friend.

“He might as well throw us a bone or cook those eggs he throws at us!”, thought Shark as he sniffed around the broken pieces, discovering soon enough that nothing was interesting for him. There wasn’t any food, not that he needed any urgently because he was still delighting on the juicy t-bone that was hanging from his grip.

Daniel closed the window and poured himself another glass of whiskey as he went on to pick up the tonight’s outfit. It was time for action, and he had to look sleek. He didn’t plan to go home early and he didn’t plan on coming back alone either. He planned a long night – it usually solved his insomnia, at least for a short while. 

Insomnia always came after he drank too much, uncontrollably. The last physical he took showed the first signs of his deteriorating body. The poor physical health followed his mind that was already a wreck. 

The doctor warned him: “If you continue like this, you won’t even wait to live your father’s age, no matter how grim his life looks to you now. No amount of weight-lifting will handle it. You’d be dead by forty.” 

Daniel secretly knew his doctor was right but he didn’t want to admit that his pain came from his head and his heart. To admit that would mean having a mental health issue on his record and defeat at work. And his boss would certainly not like that! 

Daniel couldn’t face such a career demotion so he went ahead with letting his body and soul fall apart. It was the easier, safer option.

The Lucky Alpinist Dog who got stranded

The Alpinist Dog Who Got Lucky After Being Stranded and Freezing for 24 Hours

There is an unspoken pact between humans and dogs: collaborate, cohabitate, and support each other. Many of us have opened their hearts and souls to understand this intuitively. Some are not there yet. But that’s not so important: what matters the most is not which side of awareness you are on, but the depth and meaning of connections you have made – and if they include an army of dogs, even better. 

For one curious dog that decided to follow humans on a mountain expedition, this pact included copious amounts of luck, one that not many other dogs have had when facing extreme weather conditions.

A group of three climbers from the AK8 club started their journey on day one. Was the white dog getting bored on this first day, so much that it decided to try its mountaineering skills in weather that is challenging even for experienced trekkers and Alpinists who have spent many hours on the mountain? We can never tell, at least until we learn how to understand dogs and talk their language perfectly. 

For now, we know that the dog decided to join a group of mountain climbers who were doing regular training. The dog followed their footsteps on day one. But much to their surprise, they’ve found him stuck on the high rocks when they returned to finish the training on day two. So, a training session turned into a saving mission as they invested a lot of effort to get and get down the scared, freezing dog that couldn’t find his own way down through the steep climb. 

Check out for yourself what these amazing team did to rescue the stranded dog that was freezing for 24 hours, both literally and figuratively, because it was too curious, adventure-stricken, and human-bonded. Thanks to that important bond, Lucky (not necessarily his real name) was brought back to safety. 

All credit for the photo and video materials goes to Maja Muhic and Metodi Cilimanov, who were also a part of the rescue mission

We see so many dogs helping people that it is nice to see examples of humans that randomly help dogs, too.  And maybe Lucky is destined to become an Alpinist or at least learn how to find his way around mountains better so that he doesn’t get into trouble again.  

Chapter 11, A Basset named Isaac, basset hound portrait

Chapter 11 – Two Human Knuckleheads in a Desperate Need of Dog Help

“I know it sounds complicated. We have never inhabited more than one human so far. Is it troublesome? Sure. Can we make a mess? Perhaps. But should we do it? We must do it, without a doubt!”, Isaac assured Pixie as her Spitz eyes grew with suspicion even more 

“You are telling me that you need me to inhabit this human female Charlene, whatever that means, and that you will inhabit that bozo Daniel, and that all their problems would melt away? For both of them? That sounds pretty incredible if you ask me. I’ve heard of dogs who have overturned people’s destiny once they came into their lives, but this? This is something beyond I’ve ever imagined it’s possible”, Pixie shook her head in disbelief. 

“Especially with these two knuckleheads. That Charlene girl seems like a softie. What is it that she makes, you say? Gold rings. I don’t know what’s the use of them – they are not food! They look like a cat’s toy, all shiny and tiny! If she were a dog, she wouldn’t survive on the street for more than a few days. And as human, those savages from Duke’s gang would scare the hell out of her. They hang around the ”Demure” often. Weekends are their specialty because of that Chinese place nearby. The cook throws away a week-long of leftovers on Friday afternoons”, she continued. 

“Sometimes I get there before them with my dogs and we manage to pick up most of it. That’s why Duke keeps his fair share of anger directed towards me. I think he hasn’t forgiven me for a full house win last November. We were faster and outsmarted them for the whole month. They ended up hungry all the time and had to go far, further than they’re used to”, concluded Pixie in her adult manner, with just a tad bit of childish victorious grimace that shows up on a toddler’s face when they steal someone else’s toy.

“You should give more credit to people, Pixie”, said Isaac. “For what I can say, you and Shark have a lot in common in how much you distrust people. Maybe that’s why you hate each other. Each reminds the other one of a part of themselves they’d rather hide. Come on guys, we are stray dogs. We shouldn’t be afraid of our shadows!”, Isaac’s wise words rang a bell of truth in Pixie’s head as she reluctantly waited for him to finish.  

“There is something about this dog that strikes me as unusual,” Pixie quietly contemplated. “Isaac is not the usual type I’m used to hanging out with. He has some fineness, gentleness, even nobility about him. He is almost like those wined-and-dined dogs that have found their forever homes”, curiously thought Pixie as a surprising notion initiated into her head. 

“Jesus, it’s not that I like him, do I?” she asked herself as she evaluated the likelihood of his plan ending up in success. 

“Nope, impossible! I’ve just gone all mild and tender because of the boring last couple of months. Well, maybe this is exactly the challenge I needed to spice things up”, all of a sudden, she got excited.

“Alright, Isaac. You got me interested, I must admit,” said Pixie. “And not only in your plan, but you’ll never hear that from me!”, she added silently as Isaac’s face lighted up hearing her agreeing to cooperate in the most difficult of challenges.

“Really? Well, that’s great. I never thought you would agree in such a short conversation. But I guess I underestimated how smart you are. Your willingness to cooperate is probably why you are the leader of the pack in your area.”, complimented Isaac, which, much to his shock, wasn’t just a courteous way of getting points and enticing her cooperation.

For a moment there, he honestly thought that Pixie was special. 

However, he didn’t have the time to give too much meaning to the feelings that have arisen unexpectedly. They had work to do and messing with feelings could only further complicate things. 

“Listen, now! We have to visit Marshall. He will train you. You’ll see, inhabitation is not so difficult. You’ll just need to fine-tune your sixth sense and learn how to communicate with humans confidently. We are much better in that than they are anyway. They’re clueless!” finished Isaac as he and Pixie directed towards Marshal’s headquarters, turning their back on Shark, who left them alone for a moment, ravaging a trash bin nearby.

“Hey, there lovebirds, wait for me!” teased them Shark, not assuming how much truth his joking words contained. “Did you forget about me?”, he yelled, as he hopped over, following them with a huge T-bone in his teeth and an equally massive sense of satisfaction. This was the type of bone he often received as a treat on Matias’s farm.

His food quest for today was over. 

Christmas Dog Adoption: Pawsome Enthusiasts’ Efforts to Find Homes for Stray Dogs

In a modest but heartwarming photo exhibition, the passionate volunteers from Pawsome Enthusiasts yet another time tried to find forever homes for homeless dogs in Skopje. 

Heartwarming Stray Dog Photos

As you may already know, there are always more dogs that are trying to find their owners than owners willing to take dogs.

Therefore, any adoption that results in a beautiful story of a human-dog bond warms people’s hearts. It is even more so touching during the holidays when we are all a bit more generous and full of gratitude.

It is a bright shining star among the grey dire everyday events we hear about on the news, instilling hope and optimism in people’s souls, which are never enough around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. For some people and many dogs, this holiday time is the toughest. It’s winter. It can get pretty cold and lonely.

Since most charities and volunteering organizations push forward their plans at this time of the year, dogs often come last. Nevertheless, there is a tiny fraction of the hooman population that is wholeheartedly dedicated to helping dogs. 

We Just Can’t Have Enough of a Noble Cause

What’s so special about this particular photo exhibition is that it included professionally made images. Social media is overflowing with pictures of pedigree dogs and stray dogs who have found their owners. So, why not follow the common trail of success and entice prospective owners with some expert-made pics?

These are stray dog images that have been put on a stand and taken at the exhibition itself. Therefore, some of the picture quality may be lost. But what we could get is the special attention given to each dog when on a pedestal. A single dog gets lost in a legion on thousands on the web or in dog shelters. Yet, when put on a display in front of a dog-loving audience, each dog becomes a character, a persona, and a glorious life waiting to be lived until the very happy end.

A Story Waiting to Be Told

There is a story behind each of these images. It would have been nice to have the dog’s personal story attached to the images. However, given the hours these volunteers invest in saving hundreds from stray dogs from the streets, each small step matters. This blog is an attempt to contribute to their story and help them live happier lives.

Visitors had the chance to ask questions about possible adoption, contribute to the dog rescue Christmas fund (usually an endless pit), and acquire small presents for themselves or their friends and family. Cup and glass coasters, mouse pads, filigree brooches – all lovely things that could be a nice holiday gift for someone. There was coffee and refreshments for a tiny donation fee. All in all, an event that goes well with the Christmas spirit.

Stray dogs for adoption – collective image. Credit for original images made by pro photographers goes to Pawsome Enthusiasts. Display image credits: Stories about Dogs and People

Some of the dogs that were on display are already adopted and some are still waiting for adoption. Perhaps we cannot yet have the final say about the success of this adoption event. After all, dog adoption is not an easy decision and should not be taken lightly. Hopefully, many dogs have been joined with owners. 

Having said that, when it comes to the benefit of stray dogs, all the glory goes to owners who adopt and don’t shop. But to each their own – if you decide to get a pedigree dog from a breeder, it’s a choice you have can make in full right. However, if you hesitate between adopting a stray dog from a shelter or a street dog, at least consider going for one without a pedigree. The rewards you will reap are limitless.    

how to understand stray dogs: three yellow puppies on the street

How to Understand Stray Dogs

Stray dogs are the true underdogs of street life. Just as homeless people, everyone feels sorry for them, but few are likely to have the means, time, interest, or wish to do something about it. In Kurosawa’s “Stray Dog”, the cult Japanese black and white film from 1949, the stray dog is the pickpocket who faces punishment after he steals the cop’s gun, causing detectives to face their dark shadows of a feral dog while on the chase to catch the criminal himself. People dislike, fear, or even hate stray dogs, criminals, and homeless people not only because of the damage they cause but also because they are not willing to face their own shadows. Truth be told, demonizing society’s outcasts is a sort of a vicious circle. Their rejection breeds their homelessness and the attributes and behaviors we are not ready to shed a light on or embrace on a collective level. 

Understanding stray dogs is not easy, mostly because we don’t understand dogs and animals in general. Another reason is that we don’t fully understand ourselves and view the world from an anthropocentric perspective. Rather than being helpful, our human-centered approach is often an obstacle to understanding stray dogs. Although we think we know a lot about the stray dog behavior, we have plenty to learn, at least when facts and figures come into consideration.

Stray Dog Facts and Figures to Contemplate 

In the United States,1.6 million dogs find their forever homes each year. It sounds optimistic, doesn’t it? For a well-rounded picture, though, maybe we need to look at this number combined with some other stray dogs statistics. We rarely have a realistic interpretation of the stray dog problem.

Here are some estimates about stray dogs that will give you a fuller idea of the issues with street dogs:

  • 6.5 million animals enter U.S. shelters each year
  • 3.3 million of them are dogs
  • 670,000 dogs are euthanized each year 😦
  • 620,000 dogs that enter shelters are returned to their owners each year
  • 44% of the households already have a dog 🙂

With as many street dogs roaming on the streets, no wonder it is difficult to solve the stray dog problem. Yet instead of trying to remove all dogs from the streets at a pace that’s close to impossible, we could do something else: we could understand street dogs better. 

Why Domesticated Dogs Stray?

Dogs stray for many reasons. Unless the dog is born on the street, most of these reasons are associated with unmet needs in the current environment. 

For example, dogs can get distracted by uncommon smells or, if male, by a female in heat. Dogs have a very good nose, 40 times stronger than the human sense of smell. Therefore, if you find your dog wanders into the wild for reasons that are not obvious to you, the escape is likely to be connected to an attractive smell. 

Another common reason for home dogs to venture out into the streets is because they haven’t been sufficiently stimulated in their current homes. Something else got their attention from the outside and they just went for it. 

Sadly, abuse and neglect is also a reason for dogs to leave their abodes. When this happens, dogs are not only suffering because of the new environment, but also due to the stress suffered with their owners.   

How do Stray Dogs Survive?

Once domesticated, stray dogs have poorer chances of survival than dogs born in the street, growing as such. 

This doesn’t mean that street dogs are necessarily better equipped to handle street life by nature. Unfortunately, it often means that only the most resilient or the luckiest survived, in line with “the survival of the fittest”. 

Stray dogs rely on human leftovers or intentional human care to give them food while roaming in the street. They have to find shelter, sometimes fighting for it with other animals, often sharing it with homeless people. 5 to 10 percent of all 3.5 million homeless people in the U.S. own either a dog or a cat.

A dog’s love is pure – they don’t choose who to love by looks or social status. For a homeless person, a deep bond that develops with a canine is a sort of comfort. In a broken system, the love of stray dogs is a bright star.

The bond between a homeless person and a dog is a prove of the ancient adage: ”When there is a will, there is a way.” Having to share so little, homeless people still find a piece to share with their dog.

Regardless of how unwilling we are to accept the shadows of society, we have plenty to learn from them.

Many stray dogs survived exactly because a homeless person decided to give them the love a mansion owner never did.  

Stray Dog Behavior

Dogs left roaming on the streets depend much more on their survival instincts. They can be either playful and friendly, or fearful, anxious, and aggressive.

Aggression arises out of fear, and fear arises from pain. If you think that stray dogs can display unpredictable behavior, you are right.

Nevertheless, they deserve to approach them with caution that involves compassion for their pain. You can use their body language to assess the situation:

When encountering stray dogs, don’t assume that the dog is aggressive and act out of fear yourself causing even greater trouble.  

For the several dog bites that you’ve read about on the web or in a newspaper, there are thousands even millions of happy encounters with stray dogs no one reports about.  

Do Free-ranging Dogs Have Social Skills?

Dogs are incredibly sensitive to social cues, as several studies performed on stray dogs have confirmed.

Dogs don’t need to have been house pooches to understand whether you approach them in a friendly or unfriendly way. To survive, they tend to maximize collaboration and minimize conflict. A simple threatening gesture works much better with dogs than with humans. It is not difficult that, thanks to the dog’s ability to secure food resources, the treat-based training results in such success. 

Having in mind how easy it is to befriend dogs, it is disheartening to see so many stray dogs being euthanized because of irresponsible humans.

We cannot solve all the world’s problems all at once, including the stray dog problem. What we can do is do more about understanding stray dogs and domesticated pooches, as well. 

A good place to start is thinking about compassion and collaboration, instead of conflict and control.

This is one area in which dogs have advanced knowledge, it seems – the people’s superior aggression above all other species is the reason why we rule and destroy the planet. It’s time to apply more of the superior awareness skills, too, if we have them at all. 

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