Littering almost Killed my dog… again. 

So, there is no shortage of littering in the neighbourhood where I walk my dog, Riker. There are loads of festivals, carnivals, concerts and tourist attractions in the area all year long and while the need to do so is rage inducing, I have become quite adept at playing “dodge-the-death-pile” with Riker.

There have been overflowing garbage cans, garbage cans with holes in them or sometimes just not enough garbage cans for the amount of people (read trash) coming into the area. What ends up on the street and in our path when that happens? Well, next to the seemingly harmless paper wrappers and plastic bottles, there are used food containers (usually with left over, dirty, dangerous food waste) such as,  but by no means limited to: fish, sausage, bread, bubble gum, chips, crisps, chocolate and of course empty or even shattered alcohol bottles, the smell of which attracts dogs who don’t realize that both alcohol and glass can kill them. So we do our best to dodge these disasters.


But there doesn’t have to be an event for regular old ignorance to rear its ugly head and become the unwitting assistant to a swift doggy demise. Tonight’s attempted culprit? An entire bar of chocolate.

We were walking home along the back of the Odyssey Pavillon, when Riker went sniffing through what looked like fallen leaves. I had to bust into a sprint to get to him (he has an 8m long leash to allow for playing) when I saw one of the “leaves” go straight into his mouth. As I caught up to him he seemed super excited and anxious to stop me from wrestling what ever sneaky treat he’d found away from him. He jumped and twisted and even tried snapping at me, but that meant he had to open his mouth and that was just enough for me to get my hand in there – I had to go all the way back to his throat and I pulled out this monstrosity:


Here is the bar next to my hand for reference:

Do you know what chocolate and sugar do to dogs? If so, you’ll understand my horror… if not… let me break it down for you real quick:

“A small amount of chocolate will probably only give your dog an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea. With large amounts, theobromine can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack. The onset of theobromine poisoning is usually marked by severe hyperactivity.

In large enough amounts, chocolate and cocoa products can kill your dog. The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Humans easily metabolize theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system.”

http://www.hillspet.com/en/us/dog-care/nutrition-feeding/is-chocolate-bad-for-dogs

And sugar:

Xylitol – A sugar alcohol found in gum, candies, baked goods, and other sugar-substituted items, Xylitol, while causing no apparent harm to humans, is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, even death for your pup.”

http://www.caninejournal.com/foods-not-to-feed-dog/

So yeah – leaving that lying around is DEADLY!!!

Here’s the deal, if you litter, not only are you an asshole who doesn’t care about societal norms and the environment, but in 99% of cases you are endangering animals, including other people’s pets. End of. No excuses.

Oh, it wasn’t you? You think your kid dropped it? I’m sorry if this is a little blunt for you, but if your offspring is too uncoordinated to eat and walk at the same time (or too little to just not throw junk out of their buggies) they shouldn’t be eating junk while travelling then!!! By all means, give your kids snacks if they’re hungry; apples, bananas, carrots, celery sticks… you get the picture?

If you insist that they DO need to be eating sugary junk while in transit, through shared public spaces, fine, but you better watch them like a hawk and pick up any mess they make. I pick up my dog’s faeces for the greater good of society around me for crying out loud, you can bloody well pick up any garbage your mini human throws around. It’s not just dirty, it’s bloody dangerous and yes I am swearing because I am f*cking livid!! If I hadn’t have wrestled that piece of garbage out of my dogs throat… omg … the possible consequences aren’t even thinkable!! Why did this happen? Because someone was an ignorant asshat!

Just know this: if you litter, you’re an asshole. If you encourage children to litter, you’re an even bigger asshole, nay a cunt even, and if I catch you doing either, I’ll make sure to publicly shame the shit out of you. We clear on that? 😡

Holy crap…

Now, to watch my poor puppers for the next couple hours to make sure he has no side effects from what ever he did manage to swallow. 😢

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Control your dog!

So, there are unspoken but universally accepted rules to owning and walking a dog. Most of them, I thought, were inherently obvious such as “pick up your dog’s mess” and “keep your dog under control”. Apparently these things are not as obvious to other people as they are to my dog owning friends and myself, though. 😦

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Here is today’s tale: There’s this lady in our neighborhood in Belfast, with an oversized white fluffy dog; I know its name but for privacy reasons let’s just call the dog “D”. It’s a giant teddy bear of a thing, I can’t quite judge it’s breed, but he’s friendly as all things; he just has zero manners and she is 100% NOT in control, always getting dragged behind him like a rag doll.

A few weeks ago there was an incident where he was so rambunctious, that he tore his own leash, leaving her to wrestle him by the collar. My Derek, being the gentleman that he his, leant the lady our spare leash and told her to just bring it back once she’d bought herself a new one. She was all grateful, we got the leash back, no problem – end of that story.

However today, as in 30-ish minutes ago, I was walking Riker and saw her; today I have lots to do and do not have the patience for the leash tangled mess that always happens whenever we bump into them so I choose a different route. At the local main attraction though, where all the dogs go walking, I’m talking to my Mum on the phone, via my headset so that I have free hands for puppy, when suddenly my headphones are ripped out of my ears by Riker’s leash getting tangled in them as he tries to hide behind me!!!!

“D” was OFF LEASH and his never-in-control owner was about 60m away, near the street! Now, “D” wasn’t being aggressive or anything, but he’s 4 times the size of Riker and off leash, trying his best to get his nose right up in Rikers ass for a good sniff! Riker can’t get away fast enough and I’m completely tangled in leash, cable and foreign fur!!!

I call out to her asking for help; her reply? “Just stay still! It’s what dogs do!” I yell back that she has to control her dog and come help me, she says “I am!”… (?) … She then gets to us and pulls her dog away, so I say “if you can’t control your dog he belongs on a leash, that’s why mine’s not allowed off leash yet!” What does she reply? “Well maybe you need to train your dog better.” with a sneer.

Excuse me? I need to train MY dog better?? We just got accosted by YOUR beast and it scared the wits out of both my Riker and me!

She then has the audacity to pull her dog away, proclaiming loudly for all to hear “come on “D”, clearly that doggy’s not allowed to play.”

It took all my self control to not to start an all out screaming match. I was livid; still am!

I knew I was going to get ugly if I stayed, so I stormed away, cutting poor Riker’s walk short.

How dare she? Clearly she didn’t recognise me or Riker, because she normally plays all cute and coy when we meet her… good to see what people are really like when they don’t know who you are!

Lessons learned? Other people are still assholes; don’t let a coy misdemeanor fool you.

Please please please, if your dog can not be vocally controlled leave them on their leashes. It’s not safe for them (traffic, rivers, other maybe not so friendly dogs or dog owners) and it’s dangerous for other dogs and people. Some people and other dogs, can be terrified by your dog, have allergies or react aggressively in defense.

Please remember that not all dogs like to be approached like that! I’m lucky because Riker is very social and he didn’t react aggressively but that could have easily turned ugly and I blame her 100% for all the risk!!!

Here are two great little posters I found online that outlines safe dog approach rules, if you’re a dog owner, or live near dogs, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with these guidelines.


I really hope that this insane lady, gets a better grip (literally) on poor Big “D” before something awful were to happen to him. I am terrified that he might run into traffic, or the water or antagonize the wrong dog… it’s not his fault his owner doesn’t know how to handle him. 😦

Riker and I are now curled on the couch, where he’s sleeping off the small shock.


Thanks for reading and thanks for being responsible dog owners. xx 

#FluffyFriday – Pros of being a Doggie Mama

Riker has been with us for just over 6 months now, and as I realised back in March, yes, I am a puppy mama.

This comes with wonderful pros, and an unexpected boat load of cons, so I thought it would be nice to talk about both. However, I thought it would be best to start with the pros, which is of course what every prospective dog parent hopes for.

CUDDLES ~ So many cuddles. You won’t know what to do with them all!

EXCITEMENT – trust me, no one will ever be as excited to see you at the end of the working day than your pooch!

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COMFORT – They’re like little sadness detectors & then come to kiss away your tears.

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COMPANIONSHIP – There is no such thing as complete loneliness when they’re around, even if they’re just sitting on your feet sleeping.

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EXERCISE – Who knew I could walk this much?

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MEETING NEW PEOPLE – I have literally met more of my neighbours by having our dogs meet, than ever before!

HILARITY – They bring hilarity into your life, you will laugh so much. Especially when they do things like: trip over themselves, scare themselves by falling off folding chairs, chase their tails and pull goofy faces.

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PRIDE – When they learn a new trick and you get to show it off? Priceless!

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LOVE – In all of this, your doggie makes you feel unconditionally loved, appreciated and needed in this world, which is a true gift.

 

I don’t think either of us would have this any other way, at this point; Riker has become an integral and irreplaceable part of our lives, even though he’s only been in it for 6 months.

(Disclaimer: It’s not all been sunshine and daisies though, and I will share some more about that, that next time. 🙂 )  xx

Becoming a Puppy Momma

For years I have wanted a dog, you could say I was one of those kids who had wanted a dog her whole life; but as is the case for so many families, due to commitments, restrictive landlords and financial concerns (A pet insurance costs HOW much?) we did not get one.

Fast forward 2 decades, past countless cases of dog walking, minding and sitting (as in watching someone else’s dog, not learning to sit like one 😉 ), my parents having eventually caved and gotten a dog of their own too and *drumroll* … Derek and I finally found ourselves in an apartment where, due to the fact that we own all our own furniture, we were finally allowed to have a (small – medium sized) dog. 😀

There were so many things to think about, such as what breed would suit us best, could we reconcile our busy work schedules to properly care for a wee dog, how much would it cost per month to have him… well normally I am the “write it all down and do the math” kind of gal, but in this case I was just too excited and dove head first into trying to find ur perfect furry match!

I started sending my hubby an excessive amount of Gumtree advertisements of dogs I fancied, (primarily of pugs, who are a) really expensive and b) brachiocephalic meaning their health would be even more expensive in the future) and he kept giving me the non-committal  “uh-huh”, “that’s nice” and “mhm” responses … however, to keep a long story short I eventually found this guy:

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He is a Puaglier; he has the features of a pug that I adore (extra skin rolls, squishy forehead, short coat, faun coloured and a curly tail) but he has the height and long snout (read: good breathing) of a Cavalier. Derek saw this picture and the response I got was: “Now THAT’s a dog.”

(I took that as a “yes honey, we can buy him” and contacted his owner without further discussion. 😉 )

I met the very lovely lady and her husband a few days later, at a park in Belfast (you don’t want to invite strangers you met on the internet to your home, even if you are buying/selling a dog). Since then I have been in semi-regular contact with them, since they wanted to know how he was settling in. I thought this was really sweet, and it actually made me really happy that they got back in touch, because it proved to me that he came from a loving home and that the circumstances of his rehoming were indeed as genuine as they seemed.

IMG_7392They had named him Gus, which is really cute, but I had my heart set on Riker (yes, like Commander Riker, from STTNG). All the dog training books said to rename your dog as quickly as possible, so as to create a permanent association to the name, so I started calling him Riker right away, on that first walk home.

Every time we stopped at a light, I praised him, wanted him to stop or was just talking to him, I called him Riker. It took us an hour to get home, so he got loads of practise and it worked really well. (Also, my friend Taryn of Kawaii Candy Couture made us a custom dog tag for him, to cement his place in Puppy Star Fleet. 😉 )

By the time I got him home and Derek came home from work to meet him (yes, he knew that Riker was coming home that day), he was already responding to that name. ❤

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First “Family Photo”.

Now, when “they “say that getting a dog is a lot of work… believe them, and trust me that every dog owner you have ever talked to downplays just how much work it really is. 😉 He is inquisitive, clever and crafty. He wants to get to know the world (and to my dismay usually explores it with his teeth) but also knows who his pack his, and is wonderfully affectionate and sweet.

12806165_10153781090500219_7138642072306859621_nTo be perfectly honest, the first couple of weeks were rough; he seemed not to know how to sleep on his own (we’ve a bed area set up for him in the hallway outside our room), so he cried ALOT at bed time. Even though he was already 7 months old and housetrained when we got him, he didn’t know how to “mouth” gently, so instead of playing gently his nips and bites really hurt, and he was humping anything with upholstery – which was exhausting. Walking him was also a touch tricky, since he thought the nice extending lead that I bought for him (8m to give him lots of play room without being off-leash) was a chew toy and don’t get me started on my fear for my Disney Stuffies! *sweating just thinking about it* (He has also destroyed the leg of my new dining room table… I thought he was lying underneath it chewing on his bone, and I was waaaaay too late to notice that he was actually chewing on the table! Alas… my fault.)

12670499_10153840904390219_5339511400703164018_nHowever, he is an incredibly fast learner. He learned to walk on leash very quickly and we were even able to upgrade him to the extendable leash within just a few weeks. 🙂 He (almost) walks at heel now (hopefully that will get better with time), does not bark at strange dogs when walking, is incredibly gentle and patient with strangers, good with children, and knows to not bring his treats onto the sofa… he has (almost) learned not to touch my stuffies and that he has his own toys, is getting really good at a doggie food puzzle toy that we bought him and has excellent dinner manners (he sits pretty and waits as I prepare his food).

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There are still a few things we need to iron out, such as his incredible curiosity for anything edible (eating on the sofa is really hard for us these days) and he still does not know the different types of human/dog interaction. Whenever we go to touch him, he thinks its play time, so he doesn’t really know yet how to just let us pet him, brush him or scratch his belly without him trying to “catch” our hands with his teeth, since they’re playthings in that instance. *sigh* But we’ll get there. 😀

Coming home to him at the end of the working day is priceless. He is affectionate and excitable, gets us making better choices (we are sooooo much more active now)… we still get to be ourselves, be social and play our video games as well, but we also spend a lot more time in the here and now, with him. He loves to play, cuddle and just generally be around us – which is oddly, magical.

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Even though I always wanted a dog, I never understood why people called them “fur-babies”… they’re animals after all, not people. But now that I have Riker I am starting to understand:  I love his goofy puppy grin, how he licks me all over and jumps like a kangaroo in excitement when I come home, how he curls up at my feet to keep them warm when I watch a movie and how he has brought out the very best in Derek. (I could write a whole separate post about how having Riker has positively affected him.)

 

Now I can’t help but admit that he is indeed my fur baby, and I have – at long last – become a Puppy Momma!