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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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42. Where Did My Leadership Go?

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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.

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41. The First Law Of The Beagle’s Constitution

Sir Oliver's Granny

The first law of the Beagle’s constitution is: eat whatever seems edible.

The moment we got sir Oliver, we were prepared for an eating machine, and almost the opposite was true. He had to be encouraged to eat. Only over the weeks he is getting more and more back in his Beagle expression. Which obviously means that he is now following us either with his eyes or physically when we go into the kitchen. At certain sounds of certain packages/bags he points his ears.

Now with sir Oliver having diarrhea over the last 3 days, his appetite was lessened as well. Knowing that he really likes chicken we used that to get him some nutrients. This morning, the fourth day of him being sick, he was far more dynamic than the last couple of days. So we gave him his breakfast before his walk, since he was a bit shaky. He didn’t care about the food at all, which I found odd. Yesterday evening he had started to eat a bit more and drank water instead of only broth.

I took sir Oliver on a walk to see if he liked some fresh air and some movement. The moment we were outside he pulled extremely on the leash. Every bit of green between the paving stones he investigated and sniffed. Then when we walked by a public lawn, I wasn’t able to get him to move on. Sir Oliver started biting the long grasses and eating it as well. I did not feel confident and comfortable to let him continue eating the grasses, and I decided to pul him away. Since I had no idea if eating grass is okay for a dog, and he was so obsessive about it.

Thoughts went through my mind of maybe sir Oliver’s body is telling him what is good for him, and maybe he is self-medicating himself. I had no idea at that time, if my mind was justifying whether it was okay he had already eaten some grass. I also had read that dogs eat as well rotten food, so that didn’t give me the impression that dogs really know what is best for their body. Which I found weird, since I like to believe that nature has everything in order and animals are self-directive and act upon what is best for them and their species. In the meanwhile sir Oliver seemed to calm down a bit, after eating the grasses.

We went into the park, while I was holding my breath, and hoping he was not going to eat the grass there as well. The very grass where all other dogs pee and poop on, the grass that probably is full of bacteria. So I was a bit paranoia about him eating more grasses. To my surprise sir Oliver had no intentions anymore to eat grass in the park and we walked our walk  like we always do. He defecated as well and his poo was normal again. That I found really great, after 3 days of watery poop.

When we came home sir Oliver’s stomach/intestines started to make bubbly sounds and he indicated that he wanted to go into the back yard. I let him and he started to eat from the grass the cats eat as well from. This to me was less dangerous, yet I felt really uncomfortable with not yet taking my full responsibility. I could Google it and know if it is okay for a dog to eat grass and when they do it. It almost seemed for a few minutes that I rather stayed in fear and not knowing than moving myself, still believing that there was a reason to why sir Oliver did this.

I took sir Oliver inside and Googled my grass question and found out that dogs do this for several reasons. One of them is calming down nausea and bubbly intestines. So that was why sir Oliver had not yet eaten his breakfast, he had been nauseous! After eating some more grass the bubbling sounds stopped as well and some time later he ate his food.

So there was some truth in my self-medicating theory. Yet my fear that it would be bad for sir Oliver, without being able to back it up with proof/applied information from others, was quite big and in my face. I usually look things up right away and now it took me a bit longer fearing I had let him do something that possibly would make him even sicker. I was in fact for moments already living out, in my mind, a scenario that was not yet here, built on guilt and ignorance.

Next time I will trust my common sense and work with what is here. Bring my smart phone with me, which I mostly not do, so I can Google it on the fly. That way there is no need and no room for guilt and fear. I would simply know and act upon it.

 

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39. Exploring The Vet’s Practice

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We knew that at some point we had to take sir Oliver to the vet to get his annual shots. It was also a point that we tried to delay. Not knowing how sir Oliver would react to an medical environment, being a former laboratory Beagle. And I might find it more tensive than sir Oliver, who knows.

So I had made a phone call to a group practice of vets, a 5 minute drive from our home or a 15 minutes walk. The vet’s assistant took the call and told us that they only see animals by appointment. Which I found really reassuring knowing that we didn’t have to wait in a full waiting room with all kinds of animals. My only memory was one of about 40 years ago, maybe now all vets are doing there business by appointment.

The assistant suggested for us to come in the afternoon when it is in general less busy. She also suggested to come by a day earlier to look at his medical passport, weigh him and let him walk around a treatment room so he could sniff up all scents and not be excited about it when the vet would examine him. That sounded great, it gave me a sense of being taken of and real care, which seems to be the starting point of this practice. I had heard cool reviews about these vets and according to the phone call I had the impression that the animals are more important than their business model.

Today we had the appointment with the vet’s assistant. The idea was to walk sir Oliver to the practice. However this morning we found out that his one time diarrhea was not a one time event. It had become worse and this morning he didn’t want to eat all of his breakfast and no dog treats either. He was pacing throughout the ground floor and at a certain moment he started to pant. He never had done that for no obvious reason. My daughter took him for a short walk and see if he had to defecate, but with no success.

We decided to go to the vet anyway, since that is the place to ask and find assistance if needed. My daughter and I went by car, to not let sir Oliver walk 15 minutes back and forth in the rain. Sitting on the backseat of the car has become less exciting for sir Oliver. I however felt a certain level of tension within me, hoping things would went well, so going to the vet would eventually become a positive experience for sir Oliver.

I could see that my suspicion for doctors in general played it’s own movie in the back of my mind. I wanted to make sure and be assured that we were doing the best thing by bringing sir Oliver to this vet practice. All I could do was breathe through it and be aware of the thoughts that flashed at a high speed through my mind.

We went inside with sir Oliver, which he seemed to find odd. We so far never go into other’s houses with him. So he hesitated, but walked with us inside, where the doors automatically closed after some time. Since he had his harness on and was walking on a leash, his primary response was to track down new scents. Standing or sitting was no option, when there was so much to smell. We were allowed to explore the room and talk with the assistant at the same time. We tried to let him be at stop on the animal scale, which was pretty much a tough thing to do. He will sit if we ask him inside the house, maybe in the back yard, but that is it for now. His weight was less than on our own scale, so the assistant suggested to come by every now and then to weigh him and they put it in his records and be able to see if things are not okay.

I was impressed with how they run the practice, where employees are allowed to bring their own dogs to work. How great is that? The people were kind and not pushy at all. I explained about sir Oliver’s diarrhea and we got some pills to get back to normal stool. No need to pay them now, we can pay them tomorrow if the vet says he is healthy enough to get his annual shots. They are not allowed to vaccinate animals that are not healthy. And that is exactly where my fear of vets comes from.

We once had 3 stray kittens from a pet shelter, just a few weeks old. We brought them to the one and only vet in the village. He gave them without examination a lot of shots and deworming medicine. One kitten didn’t make it and the vet admitted that it was of the heavy medicines. So my trust in the credibility and professionalism of vets was lower than ever after that experience.

I can see that these are bad memories and at the same time not likely something that will repeat itself. So being aware that I make the right choice in vets, is the one thing I should focus on. Understanding that my mind will take me to places that are no longer relevant, is important as well, because then I know I have a choice. Do I follow my negative thoughts about vets and generalize all vets and all their actions? Or do I not follow these thoughts and work with what is here? And the last thing I chose to do, excepting my nervousness, knowing where it comes from and at the same time not let it direct me and the choices I make.

Lets see the vet tomorrow and get things done. The main focus is sir Oliver and making things as comfortable for him as possible. And that can only happen when I do not stress myself. Sir Oliver seemed pretty okay with this vet practice, just like us.

 

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37. That Dog Sitter Is Mine

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I was presented with a dilemma  when I needed a sitter for sir Oliver, half December when we have a golden wedding anniversary. It’s a party that will take up the entire afternoon and evening and where we cannot bring sir Oliver with us. While payed dog sitters only offer their services during the day, and we cannot think of someone in our nearby area that would be perfect as a sitter for sir Oliver.

A few weeks ago when we had the men of the foundation visiting us, I asked them if there exists some sort of a group of people with lab Beagles that could act like dog sitters for each other, since such people know the ins and outs of such dogs. Unfortunately they did not know of such a group.

One of the men asked us during that visit if we have someone in our nearby area that possibly could be a sitter for sir Oliver. My daughter has some friends that just have new puppies. One is away a lot herself and the other is physically disabled and has difficulties walking. Then there is a neighbor that has a quiet old dog herself, who we could ask. So the one man said, ask the neighbor first and if things do not work out I will be your sitter.

When he spoke those words,  inside of me I was cheering, this man had already walked with sir Oliver. Sir Oliver was really calm with him and not giving any signs of being afraid. This man  knows all the ins and outs of lab Beagles. In that moment I decided he was the man for the job.

However I saw it as socially incorrect to say to the man that I rather had him as a sitter than my neighbor. So in the last weeks we have been watching the neighbor how she is doing with her own dog and if she gives us the impression that it could work out. My daughter and I were looking at the pro’s and cons and came to the conclusion that the cons were not really acceptable. They leave their front and back doors open for long periods and their back and front yard are not closed of. So when her 4 year old would open the door and sir Oliver would go and have a look, he might go outside and it would be practically impossible for them to catch him or call him back.

So the idea of asking the neighbor to be our sitter for a day was more a frightening idea than anything else to me. And besides that I didn’t want her to say yes to help me out and maybe not being sure about it. So I had already quite a worst case scenario in mind. At the same time I didn’t want to call the man of the foundation while I had not tried to ask my neighbor as agreed. I didn’t want to ask her and say yes, while I rather had the man as my dog sitter.

To lie about asking the neighbor and making up that she had refused or was unable to be a sitter that day, did cross my mind a few times. I didn’t think that was a cool option. I also remembered that the man had said, when you have no good feelings about letting the neighbor be the sitter, call me. So my daughter arranged a phone call and we explained the man that we had looked at the pro’s and con’s and that we didn’t want the neighbor to be our sitter and take more responsibility than she possibly would or could take.

The man said right away, no problem, he already placed the date in his schedule. I was so happy. Now I could relax at the party, knowing that sir Oliver is alright. The man already spoke about walking sir Oliver together at his address and then leave as smooth as possible. So he had given it some thoughts as well.

Although I was really happy I also felt manipulative, since I had been thinking up all kind of scenarios in my mind to get to the point that the man would accept the task. While in reality it was only asking him to do it, he had already agreed a few weeks ago to do it. It was all in my mind that I thought I needed to ask my neighbor and I had to be honest and tell him exactly why the neighbor would not do the task.

In my mind I gave the man far more authority and it felt like I had to explain myself while all I had to say was: I need your help. How simple can things be? And how difficult can I make it for myself when things are howling in my mind? This whole event made me realize and commit myself to live more within simplicity, without the frills of the mind. Simply tell this man that I like him to be our sitter in the moment that he offered his support. I already saw that he would be the best choice, so why bargain for something less. And why make more out of a situation where things are not so complicated at all? Next time I will be open and communicate and not let myself be directed by what I think society or others would think about it. There will always be a plan B which is maybe not the best plan, but what is there really to lose?

 

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30. When The Rebel Comes Through

Sir Oliver's Granny

Yesterday we had, the 2 men of the Laboratory Beagle Foundation, over for a house visit and we absolutely had a pleasant gathering. There was only one point that offended me, in a way that I immediately started questioning the information that was given to me. I could partly see what happened inside of me and saw no way to address it in the moment. The result was that almost right away after the men had  left, I noticed I had a stiff neck.

To me, a stiff neck that hurts when I try to move, means inflexibility. So what had they said that offended me and how did this eventually made me inflexible?

One of the men asked us how many times we walk sir Oliver, and we answered proudly 3 times a day. The men expressed that 4 times is the minimum a Beagle needs. So what we were doing was not in line with what sir Oliver needs. Despite the fact that he doesn’t pee or poop in the house due to not being able to hold it in, with a 3 times per day walk. My mind took it right away as: you are wrong, you are doing it wrong, aaaannnd you must do it this way.

Now that is a construct or pattern I am familiar with, it’s my so called rebelling character, when I suspect people want to make me do things whom I consider more than me. I then see them as an authority, while they mostly are not. It’s my labeling that makes them in my eyes an authority figure that must be obeyed. My standard response to this is doing the opposite, rebel against it. Mostly not so much in deeds, more so in thoughts or spoken words. So then the nasty stuff comes out. “Who do they think they are, to tell me what to do!” And then mostly the plan is already brewed within my mind. “I will not walk 4 times a day, 3 times is the limit!!”

By then I feel really sick of being controlled and rational common sense thoughts like: this will assist sir Oliver, it might make him happy to go on a late short walk and do his last pee, will not appear. At that moment it is all about me. I am not going to do what they are saying, because I believe that they are compelling me to do it. This state, I bring myself in, from a point of inferiority where I react within myself with superiority, is quite hard to move out. At least I can see it at a certain point now, and no longer take it as normal behavior or coping mechanism which it is not.

So the thought:”I will not walk sir Oliver a fourth time”, was stuck inside of my body and manifested itself as a stiff and inflexible neck. In between owning my own creation and getting to a point of understanding there was self-pity as well. The “I take the whole world on my shoulder’ syndrome, and making the whole issue into a heavy issue. Which made my shoulders sore as well.

As soon as I was able to own my creation I asked myself if walking him 10-15 minutes extra on a daily base would make a huge difference for me, and asking myself if these extra 15 minutes would make a difference for sir Oliver? The answers were no and yes, in that same order. That was the only question to ask, all the emotional fuss around it were diversion mechanisms. I did not want to do the fourth walk, only because I felt forced,  while I wasn’t. Someone did a call on my common sense and I responded polite on the outside and anarchistic on the inside.

The only question I have to ask is whether it is good for sir Oliver and for me at the same time. When it compromises my schedule, another family member, can take the responsibility and take over. It’s a joined adventure, so why not honor that and spread the responsibilities. I’ve been so much looking at how to be good and do good that I had reached a point of not wanting to bite off more than I can chew and felt my limits were reached, while it was the way I looked at this task, through the eyes of my rebel character that made it the straw that broke the camel’s back. While in fact the camel is still in good shape.

Owning my problem was the first step that already lessened my pain in my neck and shoulder area. Quitting the habit will really deal with the problem. And do the walk and not making it into a problem, but simply walk the problem.

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26. Scary Things

Sir Oliver's Granny

Every dog owner knows that dogs can be easily scared by random things, and even things they are familiar with. Over the last weeks we had several things sir Oliver had issues with. It went from being surprised to almost too scary.

On our morning walk we walk on a dike with dike houses on it. The facade of the houses is on the dike and the rest of the house is descending proportionally downwards to the dike. Every few houses there is an alley downwards. In one of those alleys there was an outlet of steam of the heating system. This produced on a cold morning little warm bubbles of steam coming up the dike about a meter/39 inches high. We passed the steam cloud when it was still in the alley and just behind our backs the cloud came out off the alley. Sir Oliver noticed the cloud and stood transfixed, to then move quickly away from it, looking backwards to see where the cloud  still was. If he were human I could hear him think: where the hell came that from? And what the hell is it? Run, run for your life.

Then we were walking in the park, no one there, just sir Oliver and I and the red ball drifting in the canal. We were not close by yet, though sir Oliver wasn’t sure about this absolutely scary thing. When we came closer he growled at it. I tried to divert his attention and move on and after a bit it worked. Then the next day this very same ball was lying next to a garbage bin, I dropped a poop bag in the garbage bin and expected sir Oliver to move back from the red ball. He didn’t, I’m pretty sure he didn’t make the same connection as I did. For me it was the same ball that we found drifting in the canal. For him today it was an entire other object that gave him no fear at all.

There are 2 herons in the canal we walk along. One on each end of the canal, that normally are in the canal watching for fish. This time the heron was standing on the lawn, almost on the pavement. These herons are pretty big birds if you are a Beagle. So while passing by it, I placed myself between the heron and sir Oliver. Sir Oliver was nervous and started growling at the bird. The heron moved as slowly as possible towards the canal, probably fearing for his life, while staring at us. Sir Oliver was pulling the leash and I had to pull him away from the bird. This was not so much an attempt of sir Oliver to attack, but more to show off how big he was and saying, no one can mess with me. All the other occasions where we passed by a heron standing in the canal, there was nothing to be scared about.

The last example is about my partner going out the kitchen door into the shed in the garden. It is already dark outside, and when my partner comes back into the kitchen, just visible through the window of the door, sir Oliver starts barking or howling as Beagles do. Alarm phase one, an intruder at the back door! When my partner enters the kitchen, sir Oliver is still scared by him. Only when no one is giving attention to the situation anymore he calms down. That was the first bark/howl we heard from sir Oliver.

Then there are also men in general or especially men with suitcases or bags, women on high heels, men on high ladders and a lady with a cardboard box in her hands. Where I would expect him to be scared about cars and buses driving by, fire crackers or other dogs.

When I come to think of it, whenever I am scared or fear something it mostly isn’t rational. It might seem rational in the moment where it looks real, but when looking back at it, I mostly laugh about it. Sir Oliver seems to not like the dark and for many years I wasn’t fond of it as well. Mainly because I do not have a good night vision, so every shape or shadow that I saw, as out of the ordinary, would give me the creeps. I mean the list goes on and on where I am afraid of something to do or really fear something. Knowing that animals are not burdened with emotions and feelings like us, there is still enough for them to get scared by.

At this point I know and experienced already enough to say that it mostly doesn’t make much sense to me why today something scares sir Oliver and the next day it is perfectly fine. The only thing I know is, that animals can live much easier in the moment, and have not such vivid memories like we humans do. We humans can be scared and then upgrade the fear for a next occasion. Animals are lucky they don’t have our minds, it would make a dog’s life.