Experiences with Dogs

I was flipping through boxes of old photos to see if I could find pictures of my very first dog, and I ran across this photo of myself and a former neighbor’s two dogs.

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(Pictured is a small, white, fluffy dog, a brown and white fluffy dog, and me as a kid.)

I did find pictures of my first dog as well! But this one made me realize that I’ve really had dogs around most of my life. These two may have been my neighbor’s, but my younger brother and I went across the street all the time to play with the girl who lived their and the two dogs. I know the white one was named Gizmo, but I can’t remember the name of the other dog. They were male and female respectively.

I remember one time, after the second dog had passed (she ran away, I think, but my mom said she died or was attacked by a dog), I was feeding Gizmo some grass through the fence. I thought it was funny he was eating it. My mom said to stop since it would make him sick. I don’t know if it did, but I still feel a bit bad for it now! I’d also noticed that he would have strands of fur stuck on his eyes, so I’m always really careful to trim my dogs’ eye furs so it doesn’t happen to them.

My aunt, Pt (I’ll call her that), also had a precious Cocker Spaniel named Molly! Here is a picture I have of her.

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(A pretty blonde Cocker Spaniel walking.)

My aunt wasn’t always in town, of course, but I did get multiple chances to spend time with this sweet girl. One memory I have about her is that my aunt had put her upstairs while we opened presents, but then one of my presents was one of those “furreal friends” toys that was a dog who looked kind of realistic and even “walked” around a bit. It used sensors to go around obstacles, I think? I don’t quite remember. But it ran into my Aunt Pt, and it surprised her for a second since she thought Molly got out!

In second grade of elementary school, my family got our first dog. She was being given away for free outside of Walmart, where many people gave away or sold puppies. It was irresponsible on my parents’ part, since she grew too big for the family as a whole to manage, and we had to rehome her. But she was absolutely sweet. She was a mix between a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd. I don’t have the best pictures of her, but here are a few I found.

Her name was Hana, which means “flower” in Japanese!

(I think she’s peeing in the first one sooo… excuse that. A mostly black dog with Rottweiler-type markings (tan feet, chest, and muzzle, and spots above eyes), but a long muzzle like a German Shepherd!)

The only problem she had was her size and that my family hadn’t taught her not to jump. She jumped and scratched my arm, probably more than once, but I know for sure because I have a couple small scars on my right arm. They are tiny! And she meant no harm. But she had also jumped on my brother at one point, accidentally scratching his neck, and my parents decided to rehome her then.

But we got a second dog about a year later, when I was in third grade. He was a Brittany Spaniel named Russel. Here he is!

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(White puppy with pink paws and orange spots sleeping on his side.)

My brother got tested for allergies at some point, since he had suspected dog allergies after getting Russel, and the doctor said he tested negative on the allergies. That was the first and only time I’ve ever cried tears of joy. Unfortunately, when my brother went to an allergy doctor, that one said he actually did have a dog allergy… so my parents also decided that we needed to re-home Russel.

Well, my family didn’t stop there, but luckily, the re-homing did! Well… maybe. That’s a bit yet to be seen.

But the next puppy we got was one given to me as a Christmas present. Now I kind of cringe when people do this. Of course, I was a child — this time, I was in fourth grade — so even though I said I’d take responsibility, the caretaking ultimately fell on my parents. I feel bad about it. I regret it, even though it wasn’t my decision. But I love her a lot!

Her name is Toffee, and she had her 10th birthday last month! But here are her baby pictures.

(A tiny puppy with similar markings as Hana, first sleeping on her side and then rolled on her back showing her belly.)

The person who had given Toffee to my parents claimed that she was a full Miniature Schnauzer (which I was obsessing over at the time… they are still my favorite breed!). I’d found Mini Schnauzers when looking on the AKC’s site where they listed some hypo-allergenic breeds. Toffee is definitely a mixed breed, but she always gets a schnauzer cut and is a beautiful dog.

My mom wasn’t done, though. She really wanted a Yorkshire Terrier. She got one under the premise of “getting a dog for [my brother],” but we all knew she was really the one who wanted him! But he was adorable, so we accepted it. Here’s a picture of Toffee and Buddy the Yorkie pup!

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(A Schnauzer-cut black/tan dog facing a Yorkie puppy.)

My brother named Buddy. This was from 2010.

Essentially, though, my mom liked the idea of dogs and not the reality of dogs– that they bring dirt in the house. So most of the time, while my mom was here, the dogs both had to stay in their crates unless they were going outside.

It’s terrible. It’s borderline abusive, in my opinion, but some may disagree. It was worse for Buddy than Toffee, since Toffee ran around in the yard a lot. Buddy was too small to run around the yard, since he’d be able to slip under the gate if he tried, so he didn’t get out much.

Luckily, after my mom left, my dad came to his senses and let Toffee have somewhat free-reign of the house. I had to convince him to let Buddy out too. Buddy isn’t house trained, now (I don’t know if he ever was or if he just lost it). He’s getting better, though, and the two of them play together!

Before I talk about Lukas, I also want to mention my partner’s dog, Zack. He’s very special to me, too.

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(A very cute, fluffy dog, freshly groomed and wearing a bandana.)

Zack’s breed is unknown, but he’s probably some kind of mix of Maltese/Chihuahua/Poodle. He’s super sweet and LOVES to give people “kisses” (as in, he’ll lick your hand/face/whatever non-stop).

Of course, Lukas as a puppy looked completely like Zack did as a puppy. My partner got him a few days after we started our relationship, and though we were long distance, I had somewhat gotten to see Zack grow up. I fell in puppy love with Lukas when I saw that he looked so much like Zack, who I grew close with.

Since Lukas has his own page on my blog anyway, I’ll share these pictures of Buddy, Toffee, and Lukas in my backyard recently!

Though I’m not very attached to all of them, I’m glad to have had the opportunity to be around dogs my whole life. I don’t plan to stop anytime soon (obviously).

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No Confidence

This isn’t about Lukas really, but about myself.

I’m proud of Lukas’s progress in training. His sit is almost reliable (it’s at least reliable when he’s focused on me), loose leash walking is improving, he knows to be patient for a few seconds when I ask him to “wait,” etc.

He’s about four months old (he’s 17 weeks, but was born on Aug 28th so it’s actually “4 months” in a couple days). So he’s certainly in a good spot for his age… I think.

I have a friend who I’ve known literally over half my life now, and I’ll call her C here. Her dad is a vet, and she’s lived with dogs/various animals her whole life. She’s been around even more dogs than I have and currently owns five! She’s my age, but fairly experienced with dogs. She said I’m doing well training him, so I was glad to hear that from her.

Today, the Petco here had a $10 seminar on “jumping up” — no one else came, so it was more like a private session! Lukas did great and caught on quickly. I have taught him for me to sit instead of jumping if he wanted me to pet him. So I think that helped, since when he saw that he couldn’t get treats by jumping, he’d sit or lay down. Well, basically, he had kind of a head start since I did work on getting him to not jump before. But the session still helped greatly, I think! Especially since I’m bad at asking others to help, and it gave me a better idea of how to get other people involved.
The Petco trainer said I had a really smart, good dog. Many times. I was glad to hear that, too.

But I have a huge problem with confidence. I know Lukas is doing well, but I’m worried that I’m not on the right track, going too fast, going too slow, or that I will get off track soon.

I’m worried about his socialization, with people and with other animals (of any kind). I know how to do the socialization– but the problem is with me! It’s so hard for me to reach out to people to ask them to help with socialization/etc. Probably because I have social anxiety myself. So sending someone a message like “Can my puppy have a play session with yours?” or “Can you come play with Lukas a bit, but not let him jump or mouth your hands?” is more hard for me than some people, to put it lightly. The biggest problem is getting people who are willing to help socialize by playing with and petting him, but asserting that they can’t let him jump just because he’s cute. I’m having so much trouble asserting that with people. I do say out loud that I can’t let him jump, I’m trying to teach him not to, but I am just being ignored.

I don’t know. Basically I have a lot of training fears, but mostly about myself. Lukas has been giving me hope often, and everyone says he’s well behaved. Still, I worry.

But I guess that’s just what I do with everything.

The picture here, I took after asking Lukas to sit. I was hoping he’d keep looking at me too, but he looked at one of my family members– he didn’t break the sit though, despite the distraction, so I got this picture! (I may have asked him to stay also, but I don’t remember now.)

Anyway, that’s my post for the day, I suppose. I’m not sure if I’ll try to update daily or just when I think of posts, but we’ll just see how this runs.

Long story short on this post, I’m just a really anxious person and need to get past that.

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First Post.

I’m new to WordPress. Or at least, I think I am. I have probably made an account here before, even a couple times, and forgotten about it. It happens a lot.

But I was inspired to make this by the members at SDC (Service Dog Central), and will only link to this blog from there. I’m not sure how actively I’ll update this, but we’ll see where this goes.

As an opener, here’s a picture of Lukas! (His paws are a bit dirty from digging.. he got a bath right after.)

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