Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What's love got to do with it?

April 24, 2019

The theme of the week is the Human-Animal bond....so I will continue along that same thought process.

Dogs are my life.  They love unconditionally.  They don't talk back.  They are the best listeners ever.   It is hard to NOT smile when a dog is near.  And they allow you to act like a complete goof around them, encourage it even!

Today at The Canine Campus I got to see this awesome humane animal bond in a different light.  You see me and dear friend Lorri Matey do service dog training on Tuesdays.  Today was extra special.    After months of working on obedience skills and impulse control, they received their vests!  This is always such a fun day, to watch people accomplish the next step.

A service dog is a big, big commitment, and a true bonding of 2 beings.  They both come to help each other every hour of their lives.  They learn a level of a trust most won't ever know.  In our program we look at the program first through the dogs eyes, and then the humans.  The 2 can have a mutual love where they honor EACH OTHER. That it is a mutual relationship. It should be!

Miss Thelma, above, has shown me a lot of understanding with the Human-Animal bond.  You see, Miss Thelma was on a meat truck when the driver of the truck, drunk, tipped over at 5:30 Am.  2 pigs were thrown from the truck, and while their scariest day ever, it saved their lives.  Sam, myself and several others took 4 hours to save these 2...now named Thelma and Louise....and living a happy ever after life in my barn....they are fully recovered.  Thelma, even more than Louise at first, were so scared they wouldn't leave each others side, touching at all times for about 10 days.  Once I watched as they were sleeping, touching. Louise woke up and moved, and a few minutes later Thelma woke up and went into a complete panic.  They feel emotions. Fear  is real. So is a Human-animal bond....which is what the girls have come to understand and they have taught me a ton in the process.  

More than 20 years ago my Dad and I started the group K-9s for Compassion.  It is a therapy animal group that goes to area nursing homes, hospitals, libraries and schools to visit, make people feel better, and to provide assistance with therapy (Our animals can act as a motivator to have a patient throw a ball, or brush them for instance.)  I am very proud of the fact that we were the first ones in the area to have a therapy group.  We are recruiting and looking for more teams!!  We are looking for animals of almost any kind!  Join our group and come and have some fun with us!!  You can come in and take the evaluation, or if you need a prep course we offer a class, the next one starting April 29, Sunday 1:30-3:30. Call us if you are interested in signing up! (330) 716-3051.

Honor they bond....animals are awesome....you can find a serenity and a calmness in a cloud of insanity that we call life.  Reach out, see into their world.   Open your eyes and accept a new reality.

"The greatness of a nation can be judged based on its treatment of animals." -Ghandi

HUG your pet!

until tomorrow!  Peace out!!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Smells, running and other oddities

April 22, 2018

Nearly 4 years ago I was in a car accident.  The guy that hit me was going 70 and didn't see that several of us had stopped.  there was a turkey crossing the road.  A car in front of me had stopped, a truck with a trailer in on-going traffic had stopped.  and I was nearly stopped.   Usually I am paranoid with being hit from behind, but in this case I was more concerned that the turkey make it across the road.  All of a sudden I am hit, the guy goes up and over my VW beetle, ripping the tire off and causing enough damage that the car was totaled.  Johnny, as I called him...my first car that I had bought brand new was gone. that alone was a loss.  The guy who hit me continued on and hit the truck and trailer in the on-going traffic and veering off also hit the car in front of me.  Taking out 3 vehicles, (And realizing he was in shock as well), he got out of the car and after making sure everyone was alive and okay said one of the funniest things I have ever heard.  "Well, thank goodness I took that defensive driving class." What an odd thing to say!  Thank goodness because you didn't take out 2 more cars?  Because we were all still breathing?  And then later....I would wander why in the world anyone really takes defensive driving classes?!  This was the beginning of an incredibly difficult year.

Several months later my Dad and I drove to the PA/NY line to pick up my next VW Beetle, this time a convertible. I took my beloved standard poodle, Garbo, with me.  She would have the maiden voyage in this nice piece of machinery....with the top down!  It was a great day!  Garbo was well known....going to classes with me.  Everyone loved her.  Little did I know at that time that within a year I would lose both of those beings that I loved in that cat that day to lung cancer.  Garbo could melt any soul with her eyes.

The loss of Garbo came within 2 months in spite of chemotherapy.  Such a sweet soul who gave so much to so many.  She has been gone for 4 years now and there is rarely a week that goes by that someone doesn't say something to me about her. she was amazing and gave everyone something. I always have a lot of dogs. At that time I had 7 other dogs. Garbo just stood out.  Her sweet personality is still missed today.  None of my other dogs had the personalities to go to work with me and they really weren't neutral dogs for my classes.  After several months I went looking for a rescue standard poodle who might be able to work with me.  Not to replace, but to heal the huge loss and void that was left.

I found him in Missouri in February.  I had a plan to drive straight down and straight back.  It would be a long trip.  My Dad didn't want me to drive by myself all of that distance.  In spite of him being sick with cancer at this point, he went with me.  We tried to stop frequently and by the time we made it there I couldn't wait to meet this boy.   Ben had been surrendered to the rescue because of separation anxiety.  We would work through that!  And anything else that would come our way. We drove home in a snowstorm that took nearly twice as long to get home. 

Enter into my life Mr. Benny, my big red dog.   My Dad would declare before we made it home that day, "You are going to be okay." When I looked at him to try to figure out what he was saying, Benny had his head in the seat between me and my Dad and he said again "He is going to be a good dog."  And truer words have not been spoken. He would help me live through my fathers death and make every day since entering into my life better by just being there.  

This boy, this clown stuck in a poodle costume, reminds me every day not to take life too seriously.  And so here we are today....with the difficult 3 years it has taken me some time to process it all.  I have put on weight and am ready to take my life back.  so, this morning me and Benny woke up and decided to go for a run.  Benny will do ANYTHING as long as he is next to me.   So, Benny is going to help me through that as well.   No time like the present!  So on our run a few different things came up that I hear clients in my classes complain about all time.  

That nose.  The amazing nose!  Dogs see with their nose....and they have an amazing sense of smell!!  It has been said that dogs can smell a dead body a mile under water or 3 miles under earth.  THINK about that!! What a talent!  What a stinky world!  And then think about how we mask everything that we think smells with some very strong smelling perfumes!  There are some amazing books out there about a dogs sense of smell!  (Namely Being a Dog by Alexandra Horwitz of the Dog Cognition Lab).  So, it is really important to get them using their nose. We navigate the world through our eyes,  imagine not being able to stop and look at something.  It is almost cruel think about.  Yet, when we are walking dogs, we expect them to keep moving.  I encourage clients to allow their dogs to have walks where there are no expectations. I tell people to determine the amount of time the walk would be, and then let your dog dictate what happens.  If he wants to smell one tree for 20 minutes, so be it!  I took advantage of when Benny had a sniff he couldn't resist to catch a breather.  Benny knows when he has his harness on he needs to stay next to me and when he has on his long line and collar it is a free for all walk.  Because we have this understanding, our run this morning was pretty smooth.  I knew when he did smell, he really needed to!  Imagine seeing this absolutely beautiful sunrise...but the second you see it you are jerked away.  Allow your dog to explore.  Allow him to 'see' his world the way he knows how.  Honor thy dog!  Make sure you are truly in a relationship with your dog...meaning it is 2 sided and not always what you want.

And finally, remember that your leash isn't a steering wheel!  I do an exercise in some classes and always in the prison programs and children's programs where the people pair up. One person closes their eyes and wraps the leash around their hand.  The second person holds the leash and directs where they go.  And then, they switch places. It is an eye opener how little it takes to direct where to go.  And it is also amazing how aversive a big jerk on that leash is. I recommend taking a good walk nice class and remember to practice the skills or your dog will lose them.

So, in closing Benny and I made it through our run today!  I was able to marvel in his nose and make up some stories about what he was thinking. The most enticing area for Benny was at the corner of a row of pine trees, and after sniffing extensively he would then mark it. Even in my oxygen deprived brain, I could see what was going on!  In this world of Monopoly, Benny found and owned Boardwalk!   Long live the dog!



Saturday, April 21, 2018

April 21,  2018

                                                       The Human-Animal bond!

For the last 2 days Sam and I have had the amazing opportunity to speak at the YSU English Festival about the Human-Animal Bond.  While creating our Powerpoint presentation, I was able to reflect on so many stepping stones throughout my life where I have been able to strengthen and deepen my resolve with the Human-Animal bond.  I was 5 years old in the picture above.  My grandparents had a farm.  My friends were cows (This was Molly), chickens, and sometimes pigs.  My Grandfather mostly had guernseys (rather than the holstein above).  I named all of the guernseys "Sunshine".  And that is what they were to me.  A ray of sunshine....as a matter of fact the brightest ray of sunshine in my world.  It wouldn't be until a year later that I realized why we were "trading" the cows.

On my last day of Kindergarten I felt the world was coming to an end.  Not only was I losing my amazing Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Modarelli-I also lost my dog Charlie.  Charlie had always been with me since I was born.   Charlie was my oversized dachshund mix that meant a ton to my family.  My family pictures involved Charlie, including professionally done photos.  Charlie would ride on the double swing with me, have tea party after tea party with me, play dress up and dolls, and sit next to me while I learned to talk, and learned to read.  He was always there.  My world had changed forever.

The next year, while sitting in Mrs. Sox 1st grade classroom we were talking about the 4 food groups.  When it came to the "meat" group I had lots of questions.  Because I loved them so much I couldn't believe how nice they were to also give us food.  I vaguely remember Mrs. Sox face being a bit bewildered, and not certain how to answer the questions I was excitedly drilling at her.  The conversation that transpired upset me so much I can even remember what I was wearing.  A light blue dress with a red tulip on it and white tights.  When Mrs. Sox answered my question "You mean they give these things to us?" With, well, no, we are eating the actual animal, I was devastated.   I needed to make sure I understood because it truly wasn't making sense to me at all...so one final question, "Doesn't that hurt them?"  Her reply about how they die for us made me put my head down, and start to cry, and then start to sob, and her consoling wasn't helping me and my head was racing because there were so many Sunshines.  I went to the nurse, and I went home that day.  Never to eat meat willingly again.  Certainly my Mom would have been able to trick me sometimes. I was, after all, 6.  But every year, I understood a little bit more.  animals were truly my friends.  At that age, really the only friends that I had outside of school.   As much as I loved that farm, it was never that amazing place again because I didn't have the power to keep them alive.  That theme of saving them, though, all animals, has been the one consistent thing in my life.  Truly it is my mantra.

This was Jebbe Boye. We lost him in August of 2017, after living with us for 8 years.  I would often say that it was love at first sight.  We rescued him from Happy Trails Farm Animal sanctuary.  Each animal that has come into my life have taught me something about the human animal bond.

It is truly more than just loving animals. The definition of the Human-Animal bond is:  The Human-Animal Bond is the dynamic relationship between people and animals in that each influences the psychological and physiological state of the other. Human-animal interaction has profound physiological consequences. People, in contact with animals experience a decrease in blood pressure, reduced anxiety, and a general feeling of well being. By observing the behavior of animals, children learn to be more nurturing and perhaps better parents to their own children. The therapeutic value of animals for socially isolated individuals in nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, and prisons has been documented. People in the presence of animals are often perceived to be more happy and healthy.  

W      When I was 16 I started working at a local animal shelter/veterinary clinic/wildlife rehabilitation facility.  There were 7 veterinarians, 3 technicians, endless surgery staff and receptionist and humane investigators, it truly was an amazing place to be.  We sometimes saw the worst of the worst there.  I would go home almost every night crying.  At some point I had decided that I was going to figure this out and find a way to deal with this, or I needed a to get out of this profession because you can't live as sad as I always was.  It took about 3 days for me to decide that I would figure this out.  I would later decide to go to college to become a veterinary technician.  With that degree I would help endless animals.  Even as I packed my car to go to Columbus to college, I took some of my best friends.  Peppy and Hershey my dogs, a ferret named Chantilly Lace, My cockatiels Macbeth and Duncan and my lab rat, Templeton. 
Upon graduation I was lucky enough to work for many years at an absolutely amazing place in Howland, Ohio called Town and Country.  I learned so much.  This incredibly progressive practice allowed me to see so much.  I could see the Human-Animal bond on a daily basis.  This was a very large spring board to where I am today.  It was during this time that my parents adopted an amazing dog called Munchkin. 

Munchkin had been hit by a car and was left on the side of route 680.  A local shelter had picked her up.   She had a severed spine, and was paralyzed from the middle of her back down.  The workers at this shelter, and namely Peggy O'Hara, saved Munchkin.  She had such a zest for life!  She didn't care that she was paralyzed at all.  And she would take that attitude on the road. The shelter bought her a dog-wheelchair and they would take her to local nursing homes.  There were stories about people talking to Munchkin who hadn't spoken in years.  My parents adopted Munchkin and part of her adoption was that we would continue to take her to nursing homes.  As a veterinary technician, I loved the idea, but felt that people were really not able to accurately judge their animals.  I felt like there needed to be some checks and balances, so I started to look at national organizations that registered and insured therapy dogs.   From Munchkin, a group was formed.  K-9's for Compassion was born. 20+ years later, this is the oldest therapy group in our area, and I am proud of the fact that this group that me and my Dad started is still in existence!  (If you are in our area please consider giving of your time to enrich the lives of so many by joining us!)

My husband (A veterinarian) and I were married in 2005.   We combined a house hold of 10 dogs and 7 cats.  It was a crazy time.  It did force both of us to understand more about behavior, though. All of my continuing education hours were put into training and behavior.  I started to teach therapy animal classes at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center and then proceeded to teach other obedience and behavior classes at other people's businesses until opening and co-owning The Learning Dog in Hubbard.   Throughout our 7 year run we found much success, and found even further proof of the human animal bond. I went on to get my Certified professional Dog Triner and  Fear Free professional-Certified, Certified IAABC member...and I continue on!  I truly believe in proving myself to the public through certifications and continuing education!

One of my dearest friends, Lorri Matey and I started a service animal group called The Together Journey.  We train service dogs by people who already have them as well as rescue dogs that we take into Mercer County prison.  There will be more blog posts on this in the future.  I will be sharing many stories throughout the future!  This has been an amazing eye opener, especially the prisoners bonds with these dogs.

In 2017 we opened The Canine Campus Training and Wellness Center.   Our mission statement is all about the Human-Animal bond.   It is to enhance and improve the Human-Animal bond through understanding.  Everything we do is with this goal in mind. We speak different languages, and through understanding that language we can communicate and add layers to our relationship.  This is my challenge to all of you.  There are always new things to learn and a way to further the understanding!   It is the most amazing relationship you will ever have.  My incredibly devoted team....all of our trainers and Liz....SUPER office manager...we are truly family.  Your dedication will inspire many posts.  THANK YOU ALL for being the awesome, dedicated people that you are!

Join us for our daily blogs....all about building the Human-Animal bond....and honoring the AMAZING animals in our lives!

"Let the beauty we love be what we do.   There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."                   Jalaluddin Rumi