Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yay for Poop!

It has been a blissful several months (in fact, almost a year I think) that I have enjoyed picking up Oscar's wonderful poops. On the Bristol Stool Chart (pictured above), I would say he is in the "Sweet Spot" with a Type 3-1/2. Perfect, beautiful poops. Not to soft, not to hard. Simply wonderful.

Until this week.

Something that the Dog God only knows about has set Oscar's bowels into a tizzy.

Shame on me for almost forgetting what it was like to have a dog with a sensitive GI tract. Dare I even admit that I have not felt the need to look stare at Oscar's rear end every time he squats for a long, long time. I haven't needed to. With the ridiculous help of Monica Segal, we got Oscar to the point where he was wonderfully healthy with beautiful poops.

Just goes to show you that getting comfortable in routine - whatever that routine may be - often comes back to bite oneself in the behind.

Oscar has pooped 6 times today. I repeat 6 times. While I almost gasped in horror after my husband sent me the "Puke and poop in the kennel" text during lunch today, I almost started crying when he sent me the "He pooped outside" about 10 minutes later, then the "He pooped again, that's #6" messages. I put my head in my hands and prayed that whatever it is that was making my precious Oscar flail at the rump would quickly subside b/c, seriously, I don't know how much more Aaron and I can take. These GSD's are driving us mad. They are wonderful in so many ways and when it rains, it pours - on both ends  of the spectrum...both good and bad. The constant swinging of the pendulum has been steady since May, yet I remind myself that things could be much worse. Fanny could have left us in May, Oscar could still be a skinny-bone boy.

My dogs teach me much more than I ask for...and sometimes I wish they would just shut up. For now, I will try to focus on the good...the many months of fabulous poop from Oscar and the rebound Fanny has made form yet another bout of aspiration pneumonia. I'm grateful that each of them are in my life and that Aaron and I both can tolerate cleaning up more bodily fluids than one person should have to experience in a lifetime.  I leave you with this statement...something you shouldn't take for granted and a phrase that would make an excellent bumper sticker..."Yay for Poop!"

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Finished Book: "Play With Your Dog" by Pat Miller

Q: What do I love getting in a plane for my 8a-5p work-related trips?

A: They allow me to read about dogs...and get paid while doing it.

Thursday morning's schedule had me getting up at 5am and heading to the airport for a trip to Seattle, WA.  The trip would be short; leave MKE at 6am, land in SEA around 11am PST, head to downtown Seattle, eat a little something, then head into a creative brainstorming session for a well-known mobile device manufacturer and their global branding agency.  The return trip would be quite similar; getting up at 4am, heading to the airport, landing at O'Hare for a connection flight that I didn't have a confirmed seat on. I ended up taking the bus back, which actually got me home and hour and a half earlier (yay!).

It all worked out in the end and during the combined hours in an airplane I got to pull back the cover of Pat Miller's Play With Your Dog.

While many of the concepts in the Pat Miller's book were not new to me, I was ultimately looking for additional games...that I could implement into my relationship with Oscar.  He is a dog who LOVES to play. He will (literally!) spit out food if the Frisbee or orange Chuck-it! ball come out. Any movement toward the side door sparks an immediate dash and look of hope from my handsome little man. I got what I was looking for...a few nuggets of ideas and inspiration that I look forward to trying out.

The flow of chapters in Play With Your Dog is brilliant. Pat starts with describing what play really is, then moves along to describe different dog play styles (Oscar is definitely in the typical herding "cheerleader/fun police" category). Following these topics, she discusses proper ways for humans to engage in play, talks about the overall benefits of play (hint: the benefits are HUGE!), different types of play (object play, mind games, chase games, and contact play) and gives great examples of each type, including the wonderful game of TUG! She makes a point to discuss the importance of children playing with dogs and games that should be avoided as well as games that are well-suited to keep the dogs and kids safe and happy. She ends her book with a great section on rehabilitating the play-deprived dog...something that hits very close to home since I can count on both of my hands how many times my dear Fanny has engaged in play just for the thrill of it.

Overall Pat's book lays out a great foundation for those who are looking to engage their dogs in play. Pat challenges us, as owners and guardians, to tailor the play games/style to the individual dog and to keep it fun!  While play can be a very powerful reinforcer, it is absolutely OK to play just for play's sake!