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48. A white ball with feathers

Sir Oliver's Granny

We did our evening walk with sir Oliver as usual. In winter now, we during the evening in the dark. Whenever sir Oliver is sniffing the ground, in the dark, I tend to watch him closely to see if he is not eating anything along the sniffing process. Which means that I am walking quite a bit with my head bend down.

At a certain point, on 1 third of the walk, I slowly looked up. Sir Oliver was peeing and I had a moment to look around. While lifting my head up, I saw a white ball on an old rickety fence. I blinked my eyes, not sure what it was I saw. Looking again, I saw a white ball, but now with feathers. Feathers! I did bend a bit forward to have a closer look. It’s a chicken!

At the same time I was in denial of it being a chicken. My mind said: nope, not possible. The physical reality gave me feedback, saying: yep, it’s a chicken. So I looked again, maybe it is a fake chicken like an ornament, went through my mind. Then the chicken’s head moved, I was a little startled and stepped back.

I told my daughter, look a chicken, there’s a chicken sitting on that rickety fence. My daughter had  a look and went more or less through the same phases I just went through. Now that we were positive that it was a living chicken sitting on a rickety fence where there should normally not be a chicken, we said: and now?

I suggested she would ring the bell of that house, since I had sir Oliver on the leash. To ask the residents if the chicken was their’s, or whether they know who’s chicken it is. Normally my daughter would not just go and ring anyones bell, but now when there was a chance of an animal being in danger, she grabbed herself and rang the bell.

It took a bit before the man opened the door, waving with €20, thinking that my daughter was the courier that would bring him and his family the food they had ordered. My daughter explained the situation with the chicken and the man turned out to not be the owner of this white chicken. He said: just let the chicken be, don’t worry.

We did worry. There was a busy road on the other side of the house, dogs running around unleashed. We didn’t want the chicken to get hurt or even killed. On the other side of the road there is a gypsy camp and they do have chickens. So the bird might have flown across the road. I suggested to use our Nextdoor app, where citizens of this district in town communicate with each other. At least then we could ask if someone had an idea who’s chicken it was.

Then when almost home, my daughter wanted to go there again without sir Oliver,  to see if the chicken was still okay. Before it seemed as if the chicken was sleeping on the fence. When she arrived the residents told her that they had called the emergency number and asked for an animal ambulance. I had no idea we could have asked for an ambulance for a chicken, so cool it was possible. Taking the chicken home with us to a house with cats and a dog was no option.

Later that evening my daughter asked on the Nextdoor app if someone was missing a white chicken. One lady responded, thinking that the chicken probably belonged to the gypsy camp. The chicken is brought to an animal shelter where they already have more chickens.

What seemed to be just a normal walk with sir Oliver, became a rescue story of a white chicken. And sir Oliver he never looked at the chicken, he might not even have seen it. And if he had, he had not known what it was. A white ball with feathers.

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47. Garbage Hunting

Sir Oliver's Granny

Litter Art

It’s on our morning walk that sir Oliver and I walk past houses who’s front door verge on the sidewalk. And it’s the third day that there is more litter on the street than normal. We had some storms and garbage day, and those 2 are not really best friends. There is one front door, where there is this crushed empty can of cat food, lying on the sidewalk. Every day sir Oliver sniffs it and goes crazy about it.

Also today I had to divert sir Oliver to get my attention and walk along with me. The front door of this house was open and a lady was busy to get herself ready to go to work by car. She almost stumbled over sir Oliver, who was in dog heaven of the scent that was still coming from the crushed can.

As always I spoke to sir Oliver telling him that it was no use to smell an empty can and we’d better move on. That moment the lady looked at the sidewalk and noticed the can. She said to sir Oliver: yummy! I looked at her, and apparently I gave her a certain look that made her straighten herself saying: or maybe not. She picked up the can and said: we better throw it away, and disappeared in the house.

Unexpected things happened within me, at first I became mad at her for saying yummy. Who says yummy, when there isn’t any yummy? And then when she picked up the crushed can, I was mad again that she hadn’t picked up the can days ago. I figured she must have stepped over the crushed can several days now when going to work or somewhere else.

In that moment she was, in my eyes, a terrible lady. Although it felt good that she was the bad guy, so to speak, something was off. It was too easy in a way, to get internally mad at someone I do not know. I had been building the anger up over those 3 days, wondering who let this litter out on the street. So I had been mad at someone and now all of a sudden this someone got a face and a body and I could divert my anger towards her through looking in an evil way at her.

Indeed I had been building up this anger about litter on the streets over time, and yes when litter lands in my front garden or on the sidewalk, I pick it up and throw it away. I want others to do the same thing, but others do not know I have this desire or wish.

And still this explanation was too easy for how I responded. I had to ask myself, who am I in this situation? Why do I get mad at others? Why am I disappointed in others? And why does it touch me so bad that I get angry?

So what if I am not angry at others for abdicating their responsibility and not picking up litter when it is actually in front of them? What if the anger  I experience is actually meant for myself? What am I then communicating with myself?

Thus I tried to get in touch with this anger and imagined it was anger towards myself. Where am I disappointing myself and am I angry at myself when it comes to litter and taking responsibility? I realized that I could as well, already 3 days ago, picked up the crushed can and throw it in the first bin I would see. Why did I not do anything, and pointed fingers at others? It was easier to let it be their problem and not mine. In fact I found that I was already taken responsibility for my own street and saw that as enough.

Then I pictured myself with a litter picker and a garbage bag and right away getting confused how I would manage that with walking sir Oliver as well. Not sure how I would be able ti rake responsibility here. So maybe, I should loosen up a bit. I can pick up things that sir Oliver goes crazy about and throw it in the next bin. I cannot de-litter my whole city by myself. What I can do, is being nicer to citizens and not give them a look that makes them shiver. I could have thanked the lady for picking up the crushed can, instead of thinking she’s 3 days late. I simply better focus on myself, see where I can improve myself and where I can be nicer and stimulate others to do the same.

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46. Traveling

Sir Oliver's Granny

We had to travel to visit family and we decided that it was a great moment to introduce a different home to sir Oliver. So far he only has been in our home and only a few people came over to see him, therefore it was time to expand his world, and see how easy he is with traveling.

The day we took him home things were quite confusing for him. All of a sudden he was with strangers and in a car. Then we travelled a bit by car with sir Oliver all within a 10 to 15 minute travel time. We really didn’t know how he is on longer car trips.

Last week at the vet’s we bought some car sickness pills. So an hour before traveling we gave him the pill with a bit of food. I took him for his afternoon walk while the rest of my family packed the car. It’s almost like traveling with a baby. We took his dog bed, blanket, toys, food bowls and food, his leash and harness. My daughter was already joking that she needed a diaper bag for all sir Oliver’s stuff.

After exactly an hour that sir Oliver had taken the pill we left for an hour and 15 minute drive. On the way there he wasn’t able to sit in a comfortable way and he was panting and trembling a lot. Even though he did decide to lay down after a while. I knew he wasn’t car sick, but he isn’t used to long car drives either. He’s never trained as a pup to be in a car and to learn to enjoy it.

When we arrived we let him out on a lawn next to the parking lot, to make sure he would not pee in the house out of anxiety or being overly excited. Just to be sure he would not do any thing on the wooden floor of my family. The first time I brought my first kitten home, he climbed the lace curtains and basically destroyed them. So that memory had come up, now I was bringing home my daughter’s dog. Even though I knew nothing bad could really happen.

Sir Oliver was really relaxed in this new environment, he already knew the smell of the family that lives there, maybe that helped. After exploring the entire penthouse he slept on his dog bed and ate his dinner like normal. We took him for his evening walk in this unknown city, sir Oliver was really excited to be able to sniff new scents, following new trails and he was pulling the leash as never before.

I did not do the stop and stare to the sky method, he is doing very well on it at home, now he was just so overwhelmed with new things and excited that I didn’t want to stop after each few steps we did.

An hour before we thought we would leave we gave sir Oliver his car sickness pill, to make sure his car drive back home would be as nice or nicer than on the way there. With again a bit of food he had no problems taking the pill. And it almost seemed that he got a picture of what was going to happen. He jumped into the elevator and didn’t seem surprised about the feeling of going down. He almost jumped into the car as if he new what the drill was, but the car is a bit too high for a Beagle.

On the way back he didn’t pant and almost no trembling, he slept in between my daughter and I in the back seat. I really would love it if traveling by car would not be a problem and be able to take him to places.

After coming home we went straight onto his night walk. When finally home, he went to bed in his own dog bed with my daughter and he slept through the entire night and was even a bit sleepy the next morning. Although he had been having fun, it was as well a lot of new experiences he had gone through. I really enjoyed bringing him along and gradually expose him to more and more things. Sir Oliver is quite a social dog, so he deserves it to expand his world step by step. And we expand with him on his and our journey to life.

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45. Vaccination time

Sir Oliver's Granny

Today we went to see the vet with sir Oliver to get his annual vaccine. A combination shot that contains: Parvo inactivated, Parvo live, liver disease and leptospirosis, that should prevent him from getting really sick. I Googled vaccines for dogs, to reassure myself that most dogs will not get really bad reactions from the vaccine. As with human vaccines there are large groups for and large groups against it. The information available is most often not enough to really make a well balanced choice, a choice not based in fear nor ignorance, which leaves me still a bit indecisive. And to fill that void of knowing, we did get sir Oliver his shot today.

Sir Oliver has been having his vaccinations throughout his entire life, in the laboratory and outside. He never has become dangerously sick of it, so that made me decide to vaccinate. Last week we postponed it, since sir Oliver had diarrhea. His stool has been solid for over 5 days now and another examination of the vet told us that his health is fine.

We had some questions about other things for the vet as well, so she asked us if we wanted to do the shot first or the questions. We choose the questions first, since we had no idea how sir Oliver would react to getting a shot.

Since we are going to travel by car for over an hour this weekend, we wanted to buy some anti-nausea tablets and ask if that is a good idea. We do not know if sir Oliver has car sickness, but when finding that out during our travel, it will be too late to medicate him. The vet agreed that it is best to prevent the nausea and give him a tablet an hour for departure. It also gives me some peace of mind, knowing that he at least will not become nauseous. Whether he will enjoy the ride, that is still questionable.

Another question we had was about sir Oliver, is rubbing himself against fences and walls when walking outside. He isn’t doing it always, but on some walks it seems he has to rub every fence, and we mostly walk by gardens with fences. Lucky enough for us he did it as well inside the vet’s practice, so she could observe how he rubs his shoulder first and then his first part of his back. Doing this very slowly and pressing himself very firm against the fence, wall or sometimes hedges.

My idea was that it is a way to release stress. Outside there are many city noises and new things that can be overwhelming from time to time. Sir Oliver seems to be immune for those noises, although his hearing is perfectly fine. So who knows, maybe it is his own reward after blocking out the noises to get himself a positive reward. The vet says that sir Oliver enjoys the rubbing, due to his facial expression. So stress might be one of the dimensions together with rubbing his scent on the fences, or taking other scents with him, or not being comfortable with the harness to simply enjoying the rub.

When she saw sir Oliver rubbing himself, she said he is one of a kind, a funny dog how he rubs himself. Well we do call him the clown, and there are reasons for that… At least it is not something to really worry about, unless he becomes obsessive with it.

So after our question time, I lifted sir Oliver onto the table, to get his shot. He had been more nervous than the 2 other times we went to the vet’s practice. I was almost certain that he felt our energy of: today is the day, and our not yet clear stance with vaccinations. It was not that I was noticeable nervous, though in the background I could feel there was a bit of energy going on. I tried to stabilize myself for the sake of sir Oliver.

He reacted to the shot just as we and the vet had expected, he simply stood there and let the vet do whatever needed to be done. She took a small needle which would cause less pain, just in case he would not visibly react to it.

In a year we have to go back for sir Oliver’s next shot. Lets see who I am within the whole vaccination point next year. A whole year to prepare and investigate, to figure out what is best for sir Oliver and his surroundings.

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44. Balancing Our Relationship

Sir Oliver's Granny

The stop and stare to the sky method we started applying 2 days ago, due to sir Oliver pulling on the leash, is becoming more natural for me now. Where I first had to consciously think to stop, now a pull on my arm is enough to stop.  I cannot stop just anywhere, when crossing a street or a car is approaching us or another dog is passing by, I will let go off the method. Safety first.Yet there is something going on with pulling and me.

The first walks with this method, sir Oliver had really no clue of what I was doing. He would pull even harder and not let go. Then later on he would use the length of the leash to walk in circles around me while keeping the leash tight. Only recently he quickly goes into slacking the leash and we continue walking. He had to understand that walking was his reward and he found out that stopping became a bit boring.

Change will not always happen quickly. And the golden tip that explained this method, already said that it is not a quick fix, and when it works it is a long lasting change.

Sounds a bit like us humans, we want to change occasionally, but we rather go for a quick fix and then hope it will be long lasting.

So with this method of changing sir Oliver’s behavior I am changing my behavior as well. I need to be disciplined and not connect pulling to hurting or being mean. That is what I saw, when I pull sir Oliver away of something he may not eat or when rubbing a fence with his shoulder and back. I really feel like a mean person when pulling sir Oliver’s leash, and can’t stand the fact that I feel powerless and not yet able to come up with other solutions that are applicable as of now.

Thus pulling even when sir Oliver does it himself, is a negative experience to me. When I have to stop when sir Oliver pulls on the leash, and while he pulls, I have to pull as well to not fall over. And that sensation of pulling him, while it is more keeping us both in balance, makes it a bit uncomfortable for me. Or I am being hard on myself, since it is not about being mean. It is about being directive and balancing out the relationship between sir Oliver and I when we are outside.

I also read that dogs that have  harnesses on are more likely to pull on the leash. I do not exactly know what to think of that. It gave me some vivid thoughts though, and pictures in my mind. Using a collar and due to not wanting to pull him on the neck, I am standing in the street not knowing how to move myself or sir Oliver. Almost begging him to move and follow. Wait a minute, that is the opposite of natural dogmanship. I am the leader, the leader of the pact. So what does this mind flash or vivid fantasy tells me?

At the moment when I have to pull sir Oliver in whatever situation, I’m almost apologizing in my mind to sir Oliver for pulling him. He might be aware of me trying to be a leader from a point of inferiority and thus he might not acknowledge my leadership from such a starting point and thus pull and lead.

Cool points to look into, and an opportunity to bring change within myself as well. Changing another never goes without changing oneself. I have to respect the workings of the dog brain and not see pulling necessarily as being mean when done with respect and not from a point of fear and inferiority. So I will live the word ‘balance’, where we change both to establish a point of equilibrium. Where pulling is alternated with letting go/slack and merely a form of play or a way to behave together outside, to make walks fun for both of us.

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43. The Dog Poo Piston

hondepoepzuiger

From the day on that we had sir Oliver in our lives, poop bags became one of my best friends. My philosophy is that everybody should clean up their own shit. And since we are the legal adopters of sir Oliver, we adopted his poo as well. It was all in the package, so to speak. Since day 1, I and my daughter have been taking care of sir Oliver’s shit. I’m very dedicated, seeing myself taking on the role of an living example within taking responsibility for one’s animal.

I mean cleaning up one’s own shit goes further than a pet, and the responsibility thereof. And that’s why I am sharing my story of today.

A few weeks ago I was sitting on my haunches in the grass, picking up sir Oliver’s poo with a poop bag. As I made a knot in the bag to close it off, an older man driving a scooter for disabled people approached me. I see the man almost everyday walking his dog with his scooter. We mostly chit chat for a few minutes and then move on. The man told to me to not bother with the poop bags. He said: they clean it after you. So I asked him, do they clean here with a dog poo piston? There was some hesitation and then he said yes.

This yes fucked with my mind. I live here now for 4 years, and I have never seen any dog poo piston as of yet. So my reaction was, when walking away from the man, he is just saying so. He wants to calm his own guilt. I mean how would he be able to get out of the scooter and pick up his dog’s poo? And thinking as well: why would this nice old man lie to me about a dog poo piston? I know in the city they have a piston, here in the outskirts I have never seen one.

Now this story about the municipality cleans up after our dogs, kept bothering me. I once had the idea of Googling it or call the municipality and ask them if it was true. Though I did not, I was actually fine with pondering about this question now and then.

I did not see immediately how I had labeled the old man as an silly old man, believing fairy tails about dog poo pistons. So then a few weeks later, the man told me how the dog leash had gone around his dog’s hind leg, and pulled so hard on the leg as he could not stop his scooter in time. The lower part of the dog’s leg was bruised. The dog was still not walking like he normally does.

I left the man after the conversation and moved on physically, but not mentally. Sentences went through my mind as: silly old man how can you let this happen? You do not deserve a dog, you should not have a dog, you’re simply a lazy man sitting in a scooter. Wow, I was really surprised by my ‘secret mind’ gossiping like my life was depending on it. Shit, am I such a horrible person, went through my mind. No, not really.

Over time I had accumulated the thoughts about the man, who told me I was doing a job that wasn’t necessary, according to him. And I had taken it personally. The man never said: you silly woman picking shit for nothing, are you trying to look like a good person? Although it felt like that when filtered through my mind. I simply had to face that I had allowed a certain form of gossip within me and not stopped it while I could and thus it accumulated.

Then 4 days ago the lawns were mowed. Probably the last time before winter, and all the leaves and all the dog poop was minced up and spread over the lawn. Now it was even dirtier to walk on the grass. So I thought maybe the old man was talking about mowing the lawns and mincing up all poo, and not so much about a dog poo piston. Imagine how silly the man became now within my mind.

Today while almost crossing a busy street, I heard a sound and I couldn’t recognize it immediately. So I looked around to see where it came from. And there it was, A DOG POO PISTON, man did I feel silly. For a moment my mind went: but he is not sucking anything, he is just driving around. As if that made any difference.

So next time when I meet the old man in his scooter and his dog, I will myself to disconnect the word ‘silly’ and all the accumulated thought that are attached to it and live the word ‘humbleness’.

 

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42. Where Did My Leadership Go?

dog_pulling

Over the weeks I started to be more easy on sir Oliver and myself when it came to leadership. I had decided that it was okay when he walked a bit in front of me. Still thinking of sir Oliver as piteous for walking on a leash. Feeding my mind with, it is okay to give him a bit more space to explore.

It was of course obvious what the consequences were going to be, though the consequences didn’t come in right away. Sir Oliver took a while before pulling on the leash and being in a total leadership position on our walks.

I tried to get myself back into the role of leader and one day it would work and the other totally not. At the moment the only thing that was bothering me, was sir Oliver pulling on the leash.

Somehow I could not figure out or come up with a way or solution to stop the pulling. Pulling him back didn’t seem a solution to me, yelling at him or trying to use a word so he would not pull seemed not right, and are either the way to treat sir Oliver. In all those cases there would be no reward in it for sir Oliver and as I understood, a Beagle or for that matter a dog,  is not going to do anything unless there is a reward.

When thinking of treats, I saw myself already walking behind him, while sir Oliver would pull on the leash and me holding up dog treats. Nope, that would not work. I had no idea what to do, other than being calm and being clear where I wanted him to go. Shortening the leash for a few seconds, did however work, but didn’t seem something that would stick in sir Oliver’s brain and was not connected by him to the pulling on the leash.

Just before my daughter and I were about to walk with sir Oliver his evening round, I got an email. I have a subscription on a Beagle forum and the guy that set this up sends me every week 1 email with a golden tip.While making myself ready for the walk I read quickly what the title was. I read: “How to train your Beagle not to pull the leash”, wow that was exactly what I needed.

I read the golden tip and found out that whenever sir Oliver would pull the leash I had to stop, stare at the stars, and only continue walking when sir Oliver would stop pulling on the leash. What an awesome solution and how simply! So my daughter and I decided to start right away on our walk.

First of all sir Oliver was walking fairly good on this walk, but there were occasions where he did pull. So we stopped, stared at the stars and walked again when he stepped a bit aside and the leash would slack. I think we did it 4-5 times and sir Oliver was a bit startled and didn’t seem to know what to do, or what was expected of him. Then when we started walking again he would follow right away.

The guy of the golden tip didn’t say it would work right away. It simply needs time to correct things again. Although at first it seemed a bit silly to stop in the middle of the sidewalk and stare at the stars. That is if I really would care of what others possibly would think about me. In a way it felt quite natural this correction method and I can see that in time this will certainly assist and get the pulling on the leash out of the way.

This new method made me confident, and it was so simply, so it could be easily applied. The key is discipline and not slacking my leadership again. And having pity is not going to get me anywhere with sir Oliver, that is the first thing I must get rid off.