As much as I love dogs, and love dog lovers, I have to admit — being one — that there are times many of us tend to view canine behavior anthropomorphically, interpreting what dogs are doing in terms of what we, as humans, would like to think it means.
Such was the case the other day, as I prepared to leave the home of my brother, a visit during which Ace and Roscoe, and Roscoe and I, formed a new bond.
The two big dogs — Roscoe is a yellow lab – accepted each other after some initial growliness. Ace, I think, kept a low profile, allowing Roscoe to be top dog. He stayed away from Roscoe’s toys, and, with some help, Roscoe’s food, followed him when he went outside to bark at something, or nothing, and, for a week, they peacefully coexisted. The last day, they even went so far as to share the couch, which, though Roscoe’s turf, also served as my bed.
When I went to take a quick shower before leaving, Roscoe came in, picked my t-shirt off the bathroom floor, and carried it to the bed. After my shower, I tried to get it back. He mouthed it, chewed on it, dared me to try to take it, but would not give it up. To my silly human sensibilities, it was as if he didn’t want me to leave, or at least wanted to keep a remembrance of me if I did.
That, and his tendency, especially they day I was leaving, to follow me every where I went, had me thinking Roscoe considered me as special as I considered him.
More realistically, he was probably recalling the treat or two I gave him, and the shirt theft was just a game he likes to play. He’d done the same thing with my socks, does the same thing with his toy bone, and engages in even more bizarre behavior with his pillow.
It’s a regular sized big bed pillow, designated for him, and he likes to jump in bed and get it, and carry it in his mouth, outside, back inside, around the house, until he finds a suitable spot to place it down and lay his head upon it.
Like most yellow labs, he’s a natural born clown. Few other breeds seem so intent — keyword being seem — on entertaining us. Really, they’re just following their instincts, which include carrying things around in their mouths and, in the case of other yellow labs I’ve met, loudly and frequently voicing their opinions. They bark at things that are there, and things that are not.
Roscoe, when humans are engaged in conversation, seems to need to get his point of view across. Even when my brother is talking to somebody on the phone, Roscoe must get in his two-cents — sometimes more like $1.50 — worth. Why? I’d only be guessing, and likely anthropomorphisizing again, as much as I hate trying to spell that word and its variations.
Generally speaking, its more fun to simply enjoy a dog rather than try to analyze one.
In any event I finally got my t-shirt back. Roscoe agreed to give it up in exchange for a treat. I got packed and was on my way, though it’s likely I will take advantage of my brother’s hospitality again in a few more days. I left with only one conclusion about my brother’s big goofy dog:
Roscoe, a gracious beast, rocks.
(To go back to the beginning of Dog’s Country,” click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 27th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, american, animals, arizona, behavior, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, gilbert, labrador, ohmidog! yellow labs, pets, phoenix, retriever, road trip, roscoe, travel, visiting
How do you go from drainage pit to the nation’s top dog park?
You take a giant leap.
Cosmo Park was one of the first stops Ace and I made in the Phoenix area. Impressed as we’d been with Millie Bush Dog Park in Houston, Cosmo Park, though smaller, was a true gem (or oasis, pick your cliche) in the desert.
With four fenced acres to romp, a large lake complete with diving pier, nighttime lighting, a washing station, tables and benches for the humans, agility features and a separate area for “timid” dogs, I’m sure it’s destined to end up on my top 10 list.
In 2007, Cosmo dog park was named the top dog park in the nation by Dog Fancy magazine. This year it dropped to fourth, with another Arizona dog park — one we’ll get to shortly, called Jackass Acres K-9 Korral– taking top honors.
“It offers a great opportunity for dogs and families to get active and socialize. Everywhere you go in the park, you see the celebration of dogs,” town spokeswoman Beth Lucas told the Arizona Republic. The park averages more than 600,000 visits annually.
Residents were so psyched up for the new dog park that some climbed over the fence before the July 2006 opening for an early look.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, arizona, cosmo, dog, dog friendly, dog parks, dog's country, dogscountry, gilbert, millie bush dog park, park, parks, pet friendly, phoenix, travel
Too hot for dogs, in Ace’s view — even though I pointed out to him it was a dry heat. Too hot for fleas, too. I’m told. Temperatures get so high in summer, that pesky species doesn’t even bother to book reservations. Survival is impossible.
Humans, on the other hand, despite their bigger brains, don’t seem to have figured that out yet — my father and brother among them.
Both of them have lived in Phoenix for a while now, leaving me with good freeloading opportunities — oven-like though they may be.
So, as this will be our base for the next week or so, we plan to do a lot of what people who live in Phoenix do — stay inside in the air conditioning. But we’ll be setting off some day trips, too, and exploring the dog friendly side of Phoenix.
Saturday’s day-long drive from Santa Fe was half Interstate highway (with nearly every exit sporting an Indian trading post, and/or casino, and not much else), half back roads (most of them cutting through the Tonto National Forest.)
It was all evergreens as we climbed up and through the mountains after crossing the border, then turned to desert and cactus as we came back down and approached the Phoenix area.
Ace and I are staying for now in Gilbert, at the home of my brother, who, along with his yellow lab, Roscoe, we’ve visited before. Last time there was some bloodshed, when, as I recall it, the two got snarly with each other and Ace bit his own tongue.
This time there was one brief growly period when they first approached each other, outside, but the two have been getting along just fine since. To make sure that continues to be the case, Ace is taking dinner outside by the car, which he’s come to view as a big red feeding machine. He will sit and stare at it, just as he used to with the treat shelf back home in Baltimore.
While Ace likes to keep his visits outside short, Roscoe is the opposite. The heat doesn’t seem to bother him at all and, given the opportunity, he’d lay on the hot cement for hours. Maybe, living here all his life, Roscoe, who we featured here in his puppyhood, and who we’ll be telling you more about later, has adapted. Ace prefers my brother’s cool tile floor, right under the ceiling fan.
That’s where I’m sleeping, too, on the couch, with Ace stretched on the floor out next to it. Last night, as I was falling asleep, arm dangling off the couch, Ace got in a hand-holding mood (which he often does), reaching his paw out for my hand every time I let go.
I’m pretty sure that’s how we, or at least I, fell asleep.
(To read all of the continuing series, Dog’s Country, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, america, animals, arizona, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, fleas, gilbert, heat, pets, phoenix, road, road trip, roscoe, travel, traveling with dogs
Since his death, the Arizona Republic reports, his owners have received about 400 e-mails, stacks of cards, floral arrangements and 1,000 new followers on Twitter.
The responses came within a day of the news that a second bout of cancer had ended his life, at age 11.
Gabriel inspired the founding of Gabriel’s Angels, a non-profit organization that today has 150 dogs and their human partners providing help to kids in Phoenix and Tucson.
“If it wasn’t for him, there wouldn’t be a Gabriel’s Angels,” says Pam Gaber, who adopted Gabriel on Jan. 1, 1999, from a Gilbert family.
Gaber was volunteering at Crisis Nursery in Phoenix, an agency dedicated to stopping child abuse and neglect. Children were so entertained by stories of her dog’s antics, she decided he should visit with her.
The pup made his first appearance there dressed as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
“If he had acted like a typical Weimaraner, which would have been, ‘I ain’t doing that,’ that would have been the end of it,” Gaber says. “But he walked in like, ‘Here I am!’ And because of that, Gabe started a revolution of therapy dogs helping kids.”
Gabriel’s Angels was founded in May 2000. Certified owner-pet teams (including one cat) began volunteering with Pam and Gabe. Now the agency each year helps about 13,000 kids through age 18 in more than 100 facilities, including shelters, schools, treatment centers and recreation programs.
The dog answered to English, Spanish and sign language. But it was his gentle ways the kids responded to most, learning from him and Gaber how to be gentle in return.
“Kids who were normally angry were loving and soft and kind with Gabe,” Gaber says. “He went to every single kid and said, ‘You rock. You’re a great kid.’ And the wall came down.”
In January, four months after the cancer returned, Gabriel retired as a therapy dog. Unwilling to let him suffer, Pam and Michael Gaber called a veterinarian, who came to their house on May 17 to euthanize him.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arizona, children, dead, death, dies, dog, dogs, gabriel, gabriel's angels, gilbert, kids, michael gaber, pam gaber, pets, phoenix, schools, shelters, therapy dogs, treatment, tucson, weimaraner