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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dogs and Children/Part Two

I was sending some lobbying emails from the ASPCA site (and some people say I don't know how to have a good time!) so, of course I wandered over to the pit bull section. There, I found this description: "[Pit bulls] actually earned the nickname 'nursemaid's dog,' because they were so reliable with young children." I have read this description of pits before--they have a long history of being good family dogs--but it started me thinking about the dog-as-nursemaid concept. Did people do that at one point?

I know there was Nana in Peter Pan--a St. Bernard nanny for the children. Seemed very reasonable to me as a child. Maybe it was the hat.

There was also Good Dog Carl, a children's story that starts off with the mother saying to their Rottweiler, "Look after the baby, Carl. I'll be back shortly." And that also struck me as a good solution. If you have to run some errands and don't want to bring your small infant along, the family dog is a very handy option.

Now, I do know you are never supposed to leave a child alone with a dog. Small dogs can be especially dangerous - perhaps, because people don't expect any problems. But, these are really big dogs. Is there a different understanding between babies and big dogs?

Several people have sent me this photo sequence that's floating around the internet, which does show some of their interaction.

This dog is obviously very happy with his new playmate and the baby seems to be taking it all in stride even in the midst of being smooshed. I think it does show the potential success of the combo.

On the other hand, I kind of already knew that from my friends Brian and Lisa. Here are the other two members of their family - Zane and Gracie Great Dane. Zane seems to be planning their next caper with Gracie picturing the layout "Would that be to the right or the left of the cookie jar?"


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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Pit Bull Picture

They say you can read a dog's expression in the same way you read a person's. What do you think this says besides "I am a very cute dog?"


Monday, June 12, 2006

Honey's a TV star!

This was a big weekend for a pitbull.

Honey shared the stage with the lovely and talented Lisa Rinna on the set of Soaptalk. Honey was one of the three starring dogs in a segment to illustrate animal plastic surgery.

Now, it isn't the way it sounds. Yes, I live in LA but, no, I am not insane.

Back when Honey was pregnant, she was huge. She weighed 72 pounds when I found her - up from 55. (Side note - one time I misspoke and said she had weighed 172 and did not realize it. The person I was talking to kept saying it seemed impossible and since I thought 72 was a lot, I said, yeah, I know. But they relentlessly kept saying she must have been as big as a house and how awful until, finally, I became defensive and said, well, she was pregnant. When they said, even so...I put it all together and realized in that case each pup would've weighed around 15 pounds.) She gained more weight in the next two weeks before she delivered so she probably was around 80+. And her teats became massive. I'm not sure there is any way to describe the situation delicately except to say she was the Pamela Anderson of the pit bull world. (And look! She ended up in show biz.)

This all would've been fine and good except, when her pups got sick a few weeks in, they thought it might be her milk (it wasn't), and abruptly put the pups on formula. This left Honey with huge teats that quickly became long empty sacs - especially in the back. These flopped and rubbed against each other causing a rash which became infected. Meanwhile, she was having other problems and needed to be spayed immediately. Dr. Schulman (our hero) said he would take the back teats in at the same time because they was no way to prevent continual rashes and infections until (or if) the back teat sacs fully receded.

She quickly healed from the operation and the change in her health was remarkable. Since then she has had two articles written about her procedure but this was her first TV appearance. She was the last dog to go on.

The first dog was the biggest Doberman I've ever seen.
He had had a face lift and looked so much younger! Just kidding - he had to have it done because he was having problems with his jowls. I have read about this before. It is a problem for a number of reasons including infection - and is exacerbated by food getting caught. I'm sure Dr. Schulman explained it much better than that but I was too nervous to listen, waiting for Honey's turn. Honey? She was cool as a cucumber.

They showed photos of a Sharpei who had a lid lift. His folds were so exaggerated in the before pic, he couldn't see at all - it seemed like his eyes were shut. The after picture showed a very cute dog with nice, warm eyes peering out.

The next dog on was a sweet, chubby tank of an English Bulldog. Loveable and affectionate to people, he growled and bared his teeth to both Honey and the Doberman. His owner was humiliated and said there's nothing like your dog misbehaving in a setting like this to make you feel completely ostracized. She was very nice and took her oblivious, if not proud, troublemaker to the corner to wait his turn.
He had had a case of screw tail which can be painful as well as cause infections. He had had to have his tail removed. I'm not sure how this was plastic surgery exactly since I was thinking of the human equivalents as helping define them but, maybe there are some medical procedures I'm unaware of. If so, it would be best to keep it that way.

And then came Honey.

I was afraid she would plant her feet and have to be dragged out letting out this new little pig-like grunt I've noticed every once in a while. I thought she might not stop and stand where they wanted her to. I thought she would pull them to move on and leave the stage.

But, she ended up just being Honey. She came walking out easily, licked the vet in the face. Stayed when she was supposed to. She let the vet hold her up to show her stomach scar. Then, she calmly stood there in front of the "live studio audience." She did stare at them at one point which I know makes people nervous but that is also Honey. She's just trying to absorb new information. Unfortunately, she didn't know which camera was hers so she didn't make the most of her close up, but they kept her on rather than walking her off when the segment ended so she was out there quite a while. Then, she came walking back to me and seemed a little bored and ready to leave. Just another day to a pit bull....


Friday, June 02, 2006

Celebrate Dogs!

While Honey was going through her TPLO, I discovered Orthodogs, a Yahoo! support group for orthopedically challenged pups. The information and the consoling from members who were going through or had been through the same thing was unbelieveably helpful. Recently though, there have been several losses - dogs who had what I thought was fairly routine, if invasive, surgery and then -- the complications were eventually fatal. It's amazing how you can care so much about a dog you've never met and then when you find out they didn't make can't believe how incredibly sad you feel.

Because of this, one of the moderators who is also a co-founder of a non-profit for dogs, OSLF, organized a "Celebration of Life" and wrote up a tribute that I think is so true to life with a dog:

"We are celebrating the life of every dog that has ever touched our hearts, changed our lives, made us laugh uncontrollably, licked our tears when we cried, cleaned our dirty plates for us, littered our homes with fleece-toy carcasses, made us appreciate the little things in life, laid quietly with us when we were sick, loved every car ride like it was the first, made us go for a walk even when we didn't want to, taught us the joy of a small yellow ball, caused us inexplicable worry at the first sign of illness, made our homes feel empty without them, and taught us that there are things better and greater than ourselves."

There is a part that kills me - "...we go through the heartache of losing them over and over again, and yet we can't imagine our lives without them." There is also a little video of some of the past and present dogs of Orthodogs. Norman, in particular went through a long battle and, there were so many times when we all thought he was really going to make it, and then, a sweet and dignified Rottweiler to the very end, he didn't. It still makes me cry and I feel so for his owners who tried to do everything they could for him. But - I am going to try and celebrate his life and the lives of other dogs instead of dwelling on the sadness.

Orthodogs joined with OSLF to honor dogs, giving away "Celebrate Dogs" wristbands to those who want to donate to service and rescue dogs in need of orthopedic surgery. There is also a tribute section for donations over $25.