Just when you thought it was safe to stop following, I'm back, like a bad smell (which of course, Bosco would love).
I find it hard to believe how long it is since I last posted - time has flown, mostly due to a busy time doing other things (not much of huge significance, except...) and pushing my online activities to the back burner.
This last weekend we have returned from a vacation in our home country which necessitated putting Bosco into kennels for two weeks. It's the first time he's been in boarding kennels on his own (he and Buckley had their first kennels experience together about three years ago) and while we were a little uncomfortable handing him over to comparative strangers, our previous experience with Mission Country Kennels gave us some confidence.
We picked up Bosco as early as we could after arriving back home - somehow the house feels very different without him there; there is a certain energy missing from it. At just after 8am we were there, collecting his blanket, his bowl and his favourite toy (one of my old leather slippers), but most of all, excited to see him.
A 100lb puppy bounded over to us, jumped in and out of the old Volvo tailgate several times, whined and sort of grunted a bit, and rubbed himself against our legs in what appeared to be his version of excited bliss. A dog that is pleased to see you is one of life's wonderful little treats, and we both basked in his very obvious joy while we heard how he had behaved himself and seemingly enjoyed the company of his kennel-mates. His habit of scratching himself a little too hard seemed to have not manifested itself, and his sore shoulder (a recurring injury) also seems to have almost completely healed.
Within a few minutes we were headed up the road to one of our favourite walking trails, and just as if nothing had happened (well, almost), we were following the big daft dopey mutt around while he checked on our progress just a little more often than usual. The tension we had both felt about collecting him and potentially hearing something unpleasant drifted away as he galloped, lolloped and scampered about in the bushes, in puddles and through the forest.
Once back home we were sure to follow the old routines of towelling him down (he gets wet during almost every walk) and playing the 'towel game', followed by his morning meal, a sleep (him, not us, despite the jet lag) and then what I think is his favourite part of the day; a small bone to chew, worry and consume. I could almost watch him relax into his old familiar patterns; the things which make him feel safe and part of the pack.
We were back, and until we retrieved our faithful companion we hadn't felt properly home. Our thanks to the folks at Mission Country Kennels for looking after and keeping safe our pet in an idyllic location and with genuine care, and for giving us such complete feedback about his stay. We know he will be safe there if ever we need to have him cared for again.
'Humane' is a word that we habitually use to describe something that is merciful, moral, ethical - the best way to do something unpleasant.
Perhaps, in the light of this story (link below), it's time for us to abandon this word, since what we humans do to the animals with which we share this tiny dot is clearly in many cases none of the above. Perhaps it's time we stopped thinking of ourselves as the most principled beings on the planet...
Yes, above is THE offending broken tooth which was removed a short time ago...requiring of course a general anaesthetic and a full day's care in the hands of our favourite veterinarian. Strange; every time I cast eyes upon this object I hear the sound of an old fashioned cash register in the background...I can't think why.
Bosco had barely recovered from the dreadful torment of having a tooth extracted (his woe-ridden form was to be found in strategic locations for fully two days, his expression one of "What have I done to deserve this suffering?"), when he decided to yet again strain one of his shoulders.
He's a big, powerful dog but we think he is not very aware of his physical parameters, and with a regularity that suggests that this is becoming a hobby, he seems to strain a muscle in his left shoulder.
Bosco doesn't really believe in suffering in silence...or alone. This means that he has been very vocal in telling us when he has twinged his shoulder getting up, lying down, coming upstairs or going downstairs...in fact when he's doing just about anything. He will yelp loudly and then come over to me for comfort and reassurance, shortly before springing silently (and presumably, therefore; painlessly)out of the back door to try to catch the birds on the bird feeder or the mice which seem to enjoy this part of the world.
Similarly, he is apparently utterly without discomfort when out for a walk - funny, that. We think that he tweaks something while in the act of picking up a thrown stick - his technique usually involves stopping very suddenly from top speed and pivoting around his front end. Sticks, therefore are currently not being thrown - unless into water, where he can't injure himself that way. It's a little bit sad to watch him stand hopefully next to hisi heart's delight, pleading with his eyes for me to throw it for him, but thankfully he generally has the attention span of a toddler, and so is quickly and easily diverted - for example by a truly fascinating piece of Coyote scat.
Now, Bosco is thankfully if slowly healing through the emotionally painful process of denying him his favourite game; I'm not sure who this is harder for; him or me...
This week has so far been dominated by the persistent arrival of droplets of H2O by way of our friend gravity. It's soggy out there, especially after another heavy dump of snow on Sunday began to melt, making the paths and trails less fun to traverse than usual. I thought I'd cheer myself up with pictures from last week, when cold bright weather was gracing us...
A friend shared this with me: I just had to do likewise. Enjoy!
Since we live in the Northern hemisphere, and it is officially winter, some snow has been falling and making the world white and slippery. This has alarmed and taken by surprise all the local news channels, who have been carrying the shock/horror/can you believe it? story of wintery weather in winter for several days now.
Dogtastic, however, simply posts some pictures which I hope captures the beauty of where we live and how nature does her stuff.
Well, I've been sick and I've been busy and if truth be known, a little lacking in enthusiasm. However, I haff return-ed. Almost, anyway.
I just came across this absolute pearl which I'd not seen before. Very funny, full of observations which strike close to home, and I hope you'll agree; well worth the short read. I wish the author all the very best!
As I think you will likely agree, dogs are more than merely a useful animal to have around.
I don't believe that dogs can 'love' in a human sense; my belief is that it's one of those emotions that we as a species project onto them in an almost hopeful way. As humans, most of us want to be loved, and the attention that we receive from dogs is often interpreted as love. It doesn't, in the grand scheme of things, matter very much, I suppose - unless it leads to humans expecting more from a dog than they can feasibly give, and I'm afraid that is probably not uncommon.
One of the gifts that dogs give us, I think - something that transcends mere companionship - is the instinctive level at which they seem to bond with us. There's something indefinable about the link between a dog and a human that I have never experienced with another animal, although I suspect that the same might be true about the great apes, elephants and cetaceans.
We utilize a dog's instincts and senses in ways that benefit us in so many aspects; thus we have seeing eye dogs, hearing dogs, dogs to detect illnesses and seizures, etc., etc. Their instincts are perfectly attuned (in most cases) to working with their human pack members, whether it be in some highly trained and formalized role, or in a loose, informal pack (family) environment.
But somehow, there's more, something I can't adequately describe. There's a quiet dignity about some dogs (Bosco being one of them), a calm awareness of mood, health and state of mind. For me, these qualities are what make a dog special, and what makes having a dog so important to me.
The attached link will take you to a video of a very old dog that is using these instincts in ways which bring joy to people at one of, if not the most important times of their lives.
I don't agree with everything that is said in the video, but I thought that this was worth sharing for two reasons: first (because this is a blog about dogs) to demonstrate that therapy dogs are out there and can be of tremendous help and comfort to those in need, and secondly to highlight the place of Hospice in our civilization.
Do yourself a favour if you are unaware of what a hospice is or what it provides: find your nearest hospice and at the very least check out their website. They provide an amazing service at moments where the word 'care' in its purest sense means everything.