When Trauma Happens

This last Saturday my dog was viciously attacked by another dog.

We had been gone for a few hours and came home to find two labradors (one yellow, one black) running around in our backyard and pond behind our house.  They seemed friendly enough.  Our neighbor called police to come pick them up and I put up a post on our community facebook page with a picture of the dogs and our general location.

We put the black dog on our dogs leash so they wouldn’t run off.  The yellow one eventually did run off and was traipsing around the neighborhood.  At that point I let my dog out in our front yard so he could “go potty” after having been inside all day.  The black dog was leashed in our backyard.

The yellow dog came back and at first was just sniffing my dog.  I can’t remember the exact sequence but very quickly the yellow lab started attacking my dog and chasing him around the yard.  I ran after them yelling to no effect.  I ran around the house and found my dog cowering by my front door with the other dog attempting to block it from going back inside.  I screamed at the dog in my most authoritative voice to scare it off enough to get my dog safely inside.

I didn’t realize my dog was badly hurt until some 40 minutes later.  He had a pretty serious bite wound on his tummy.  I didn’t see it because he is a golden with very thick, long fur.  The wound was about 1 1/2 inches wide and definitely required immediate vet care.  Since it was Saturday I had to drive him 45 minutes away to the nearest emergency vet clinic.  He needed to be put under general anesthesia so they could flush out the wound and stitch him up.  20170514_084321

This was traumatic for me on two accounts.  My Copper is my “baby”.  He is the sweetest, most loving dog you can imagine.  He is my joyful companion on many adventures.  When I need a hug he is always happy to oblige.  He is just a great dog and wouldn’t hurt a fly.  The thing that really wrecked me is that I was the one who (unwittingly) put him in danger.  If I hadn’t let him out this wouldn’t have happened.

I felt very awful and very responsible for the whole thing.

But I slowly gained some perspective.  I had no way of knowing the dog would react that way.  It was a lab!  It showed no signs of aggressiveness up until the attack.

It was awful, it happened.  But I can’t keep beating myself up over it.  My culpability amounted to my being a bit naïve and impulsive.

I’ve thought quite a bit about what I learned from watching the Dog Whisperer; dogs live in the moment.  People often live in the past and get stuck after traumatic events but dogs don’t.  They heal and move on with the right care.

That’s one thing I love about dogs.  They live in the moment.  If the owner moves on, they will too.

I love my dog and he brings a lot of joy to my life.  We are going to move on from this together and leave it in the past.  (well, after we get the vet bill taken care of by the other dog owner!)  It was a painful learning experience.  I’m not going to go overboard but I will definitely be far more cautious in the future.  I did a lot of reading on the subject and dog attacks on other dogs are common enough that you need to have some sort of game plan just in case. 

Carrying a can of mace may seem extreme but if you ever need it, you’ll be thankful to have it!!  A heavy duty walking stick can also work to break up an attack, or defend yourself if you ever get attacked.  I also read that you can pick an attacking dog up by the back legs (like a wheelbarrow) and pull it back, or grab it by the tail, but those moves would obviously involve some risk and require some physical strength.

I assumed the dogs were friendly because of the reputation of the breed.  But any dog of any breed can become suddenly aggressive.  It’s illegal to let your dog wander but dogs do escape and/or have irresponsible owners.  In that scenario, it is better safe than sorry.  Don’t approach a dog running loose, especially if there is more than one dog.  Dogs are more aggressive when they have that “pack” mentality.

Copper is going to heal up and be ok.  He’s been a bit fearful out in the yard but I’m confident that will subside and he’ll go back to his happy-go-lucky self soon enough.  One bad incident isn’t going to sideline us or make us bitter or fearful.

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Copper and my son, Michael

Golden Retrievers: The Good, the Bad, the Furry.

It’s been a year since we brought home our first family dog, a golden retriever puppy.  copperI had always wanted one.  It just took a little (lot) of convincing for my husband to get on board! I found a puppy on my son’s birthday and drove half way across the state to go get him and bring him home just as the kids were getting off the bus.

It’s been a learning curve ever since and I’ve done a lot of researching on the breed in the mean time.

If I had to sum up the personality of the breed in one word it’d be “friendly”.  These dogs are never happier than when they are right in the mix of things, with their people. copper7

Goldens are possibly the friendliest breed.  They love meeting new people, they love playing with other dogs.  They make ‘ok’ watch dogs.  They like to keep an eye on the neighborhood.  Mine will bark at anything he sees that looks suspicious, like a garbage bag that has blown into the yard.  But they are horrible guard dogs.  If someone breaks into your house your golden is likely to give them an enthusiastic greeting.  They also aren’t big barkers.  Mine rarely barks.  Which is 90% a good thing but can be a problem in that he quietly runs to the basement door when he has to relieve himself, which has gone unnoticed with messy results.

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Little puppies?

These dogs are rarely aggressive.  This is hugely important to me, because I live in a neighborhood with a lot of small children.  Children that often come to the door to play with my children.  I can’t have an aggressive dog that see’s strangers as a threat.  But if you want an imposing guard dog, a golden is definitely not for you! bewaredogGoldens were bred in Scotland to be hunting dogs, retrieving fowl in swampy conditions.  In most lines the strong hunting genes have been muted in favor of looks and personality.  But they still have a relatively strong prey drive.  They will go crazy and drag you half way down the street in pursuit of a SQUIRREL!  squirrel

Mine inadvertently terrified a few of the neighborhood kids when they ran away and he gave chase.

We bought a gentle leader collar early on, to curb his pulling on walks.  These are very strong dogs so you really need to train them well and/or get a specialized collar to reduce pulling on walks.

Goldens are very enthusiastic eaters.  Mine wolfs down his food within 60 seconds and sniffs around for more.  If you have a golden you’ll have to be careful to not overfeed them.  Many will happily eat their way into a doggy-weight problem.  Mine is currently a good five pounds overweight, at 80 pounds.  It’s really hard to cut back on treats when they beg with the world’s cutest canine face.  copper3

So along with a careful diet, you’ll also need to provide a lot of exercise.  As hunting dogs, they were meant to spend a lot of time running and swimming though challenging conditions.

A dog that isn’t properly exercised is likely to become overweight, develop health problems, and exhibit destructive behavior like digging or chewing up your couch.

Goldens, as a large breed, can also develop problems with their hips.  So you don’t want to run them too hard until they are mature, about a year and a half.  I like taking mine to a local nature reserve where he can swim and run on soft grass. copper4But a brisk daily walk around town works too!

Goldens are very social dogs.  If you can’t provide a lot of interaction, a golden probably isn’t for you.  I jokingly call mine my “shadow” because he is almost never more than a foot away from me.  He wants to be near me, all the time.  When I leave he lays by the door until I come home. copper8If I’m sitting down he wants to be cuddled up to me.  This is not the type of dog that will take well to being an outdoor dog.  This is a family dog, that needs a lot of interaction.

Golden’s rank at the top as great family dogs.  They are very patient and gentle with young children.  copper9

So, we covered all the “good”.  Golden’s are extremely friendly, sweet, loyal, gentle and easy going.  They are highly trainable, among the most intelligent of the dog breeds.  They are also just gorgeous.  I may be biased but I think they are the most beautiful dog breed.  Not only that, but they have wonderfully soft fur that is pleasant to pet.

Now what about the bad?

Golden’s are notorious for health problems.  From allergies to cancer.  Mine has had chronic ear infections, as the long floppy ears trap moisture.  You’ll want to feed your dog a premium dog food.  We opt for grain free.  I’ve heard of golden’s living healthy lives of up to 17 years.  So take good care of your dog and hope for the best. copper2

The beautiful golden coat is very thick and sheds like crazy.  I vacuum 2-3 times and easily fill the canister with an insane amount of dog fur.  Their coat also produces an oil that helps makes them water repellant and it attributes to a strong “doggy” odor.  They aren’t the stinkiest dog, but they definitely need a regular bath.  Their long fur can also require regular brushing and the removal of matted fur.

They don’t have stinky breathe and they aren’t quite big enough to slobber, so that’s a plus!

Golden’s are very “mouthy”.  They love to chew so make sure you provide plenty of chews toys.  Ours will run off with our shoes, though he know better than to chew them up!  We really had to work with ours when he was a small puppy because he always wanted to chew on our hands with his sharp puppy teeth.  It’s something he grew out of, thankfully. 15940774_10158109670100074_8447059713771371583_n

Golden’s are wonderful dogs.  So much so that I don’t think I would ever get a different breed.  If you can deal with some of the challenges, you will truly find a wonderful companion and best friend.

 

 

 

 

Puppy Love

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I haven’t blogged in a bit because I have been busy with our new puppy, Copper.  Our kids have been begging for a dog for years.  Last year we went the chintzy route and got a couple pet rats.  About the fourth time they bit one of the kids they went back to the store!  SO I finally twisted my husbands arm- er, talked him into- a real live puppy.  Not just any puppy.  A golden retriever.  Like and 90’s kid I grew up watching movies that featured talking golden retrievers and have always wanted one.

Right now he is super cute and super annoying!  He is really mouthy, which I guess is common for a hunting breed.  He is also sweet and follows me around the house.  He’s only had a few accidents and seems to be doing well so far with the training.  I can’t wait till he is grown and calm and the famously easy going, happy family dog.

So here are some purely gratuitously cute pics for your enjoyment… 🙂

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