Went to WAPA (water and power for those who don’t live on island) yesterday because our bills were weird and I needed to do a name change now that I have my license. Got everything sorted out with no issues, although the office employees appear to have developed a serious case of PTSD because everyone is stressed out over their bills and yelling at them.
But here’s where it got weird (y’all knew it would get weird, this is me – I always (inadvertently) bring the weird.): I went to WAPA PREPARED. Yes, I had the standard requirement of 57 different ways to prove my identity, but I also brought snacks, beverages, and my work with me ’cause I knew it would be a while. I signed in and because every seat in the place was filled, I plopped down on the floor. The dyspeptic-looking guard asked I not sit there because of traffic flow and offered me a chair in another corner. I smilingly replied I had no problem moving but perhaps some of the elderly folks that were standing would appreciate the chair more. Then I proceeded to plop my booty down in an out of the way spot and dove into confined space regulations (work). Little did I know, people sitting on the floor at WAPA makes them *very* unhappy. Seriously, I was completely oblivious, at least until I noticed a WAPA employee waving her arms at the guard frantically and realized a few other employees staring at me through the glass. I smiled and waved and they scattered, so I went back to figuring out what sorts of hazards could occur inside of an emptied cistern, and what kinds of chemical exposure monitoring would be needed depending on type of sealant used, etc. Next thing I notice is the poor beleaguered guard standing next to me with a folding chair saying I was no longer allowed to sit on the floor. I blinked (in my mind, I was in a cistern) and once the words registered I nodded and said, “alright, set me up wherever” and he put the chair right next to where I was and I climbed into it. About 35 seconds later my name was called, the (poor) guard helpfully bellowed, “she’s here, she’s right here! Hold on! She’s on her way!” when they called my name. Now, I can’t swear I got pushed ahead of the line just to get my (apparently troublemaking) butt off the floor, but I also can’t swear I didn’t. However, I can attest to the fact that if you sit on the floor at the WAPA office you will really upset them. Please use this knowledge responsibly. 😈😈😈
So, in many dog behavior trainer courses you may come across a similar test question to this:
Question: 3. A friend of yours has a nervous dog. Your friend tries to reassure her dog whenever it demonstrates fearful behaviour by giving the dog affection and attention. Why might this be a bad idea and what terms within operant and classical conditioning might help explain your answer?
And there you have what can only be described as one of the many seriously divisive questions in dog training.
So, thought about this for a while over the past few days and I think (please remember I do not know everything, I learn more every day, and trends and methodologies in dog training advance and change daily) I finally have a better explanation of where the thought process behind this training maybe came from:
I remember that “don’t comfort the dog!” was one of the first things I was actively taught about dog behavior in the 90s and I remember being completely flummoxed by the theory then, but I think I (kinda sorta) understand the kinds of situations from which this training theory arose.
So, you may not know this, but Dr. Ian Dunbar in the ’80s was considered extremely radical with his (forgive the exteme oversimplification), “maybe we don’t need to literally choke and beat our dogs to train them, let’s try not doing that, shall we [with a solidly implied, “ya idiots?!” at the end there]”. Okay, so like all great ideas, the world of dog training began (for the most part) following that solid and sound teaching advice. Unfortunately, it rather stopped following and sort of caught up with and then ran right over Dr. Dunbar’s methodology and now some trainings have gone so far down the path of poor communication and too much food that it is now rather unrecognizable from good training.
So, here’s my mental example of where the original “don’t comfort the dog” mentality may have come from:
Picture an over-reactive human handler, completely freaking out that their dog is freaking out – to the point that they are on the floor with the dog, smelling of fear and stress and a little panic, because Mr. Fliffernoodle growled or barked at them while they were shaking out a new trash bag and now the undereducated-in-canine-behavior human is *sure* Mr. Fliffernoodle is becoming aggressive.
And Mr. Fliffernoodle is like, “holy crap, look at how upset human is because of that trash bag! That *IS* the scariest worstest most deadliestest thing in our house and we will defend against it TOGETHER! “Fluffinators!, mount up!”
Or something like that (forgive me, I live a rich internal life 🤓).
So, I don’t think the original intent of “don’t comfort the dog” was meant to encourage dogs to be freaked out and force them to deal with what scared them while the human just ignores the dog (at least I freaking hope not!), but it probably should have been phrased more towards encouraging the human in the equation to keep it together and provide a calming and comforting presence for anything that requires a calm and comforting presence.
That way, you save the mounting up of said Fluffinators for appropriate things, such as axe murderers breaking in.
So, what do you do if Mr. Fliffernoodle is reacting in fear and horror to something like a garbage bag?
- Finish putting the bag in the bin while talking happily to the dog.
- Take out a new bag, all the while talking happily to Mr. Fliffernoodle, do not shake it open but grab yourself some treats. Sit on the floor and feed teeny tiny pieces of treats whenever the dog shows interest in the bag. Keep with the happy verbal encouragement and keep going until you determine the dog is either relaxed around the non moving bag or that he has been pushed as far as he can go for that session. Then you get to do it again a few hours later, and at least daily over the next few days and weeks, slowly taking them to the edge of their comfort zone and eventually getting them all the way to being completely confident and comfy while you shake out those garbage bags.
Um, but wait, FoodLady?! you *just* said too much food is bad, right? These days dog treats *are* being overused during normal activities and fun dog training. But in this case you are using classical conditioning to reduce an emotional (fear) reaction, and when doing that with a dog you will *always* use extra value rewards.
I sincerely hope that was was in my head managed to translate into words that other people can understand. ☺
If not, message me. ❤❤❤
So, so many people ask me questions like, “how do I get my dog to stop going to the bathroom in the house?” Or, “how do I stop my dog from chewing on shoes?”
Because of what I know, those are easy (to me); you know what kinda shit *I’m* trying to fix these days?
“How do I keep my problem-solving jerk dogs from testing each fence quadrant and climbing over any vulnerable areas and then running to where they have apparently found, and revel in rolling in, a very smelly decomposing corpse of what I now know to be a dog because SamSam dog brought. me. a. leg. yesterday. Ya know, just in case I wanted to roll on it too.” Yep. I have apparently been officially and completely creeped the hell out. I can handle A LOT of gross with no issues, but this one threw me off my stride. It is now a tie as to which was worse, waking up to a surprise chicken head on my pillow with intestines still attached (thank you Herbert), or the decomposing and slightly mummified but still horrifyingly stinky dog leg (thank you SamSam).
So, limited access to fenced in yard today (supervised only) and have to extend the electrified “hot wire” fencing further after work and long term correction of this problem is that I need to increase their exercise and activities – I have spent too much time working with other dogs and not enough with my own. ❤
For some great information about what to do with escape artist monsters that *have* to be secured, I found this post to be super helpful!
I forgot this part.
I forgot how much grief physically HURTS.
I lost my soul-dog, my diabetic alert service dog named Herbert on February 10, 2016 and I started therapy in 2017 which has helped me a lot. I’m doing okay.
But I live on an island that has a serious pet overpopulation problem and I when I find an abused/neglected/abandoned dog I do my best to catch them and get them vet care and then find them a home.
I found Honey Dog on February 23rd. Despite food, antibiotics, etc. she wasn’t improving.
We did exploratory surgery yesterday and she was riddled with cancer, obviously, I let her go.
But when I got home, my body was aching; and this morning I woke up sore all over. And then I remembered I’ve felt like this before, after Herbert passed. Grief hurts, emotionally AND physically. This poor dog was sick, starved, abandoned, shot with a pellet gun (x-ray showed us), and I found her rooting through trash on the side of the road while people drove by and walked by her like it was nothing. Like she was nothing – and she was amazing. I fell in love with this dog and didn’t know her very long. Everyone who met her fell in love with her.
At this point I don’t know if I am grieving for the loss of her, or the loss of faith in humanity? But it’s probably both.
I will keep on doing what I do, because for the many who just don’t care, or choose not to see, there are just as many people who care deeply and give of themselves to make the world around them a better place for everyone.
Try to do something good today in the memory of this dog that had every right to be nasty and bitey and hateful, but never was. Learn something new about dog behavior and then pass it on and think of a little blonde dog; or buy someone a snack to help them not be hungry because hunger sucks; or just go to PayPal and send a dollar or two to the STX animal shelter (email@example.com) and make sure to reference Honey in a message, something like “because of Honey” or “RIP Honey,” because that would help too.
Ok, I do not have good news and I’m sorry for that. Honey-dog should not have been as happy and alert as she was. Her life put her through hell, and I only wish there was more I could have done.
I went back and forth about whether to have the surgery today. I managed to put 2.6lbs on her over the weekend, but the weight wasn’t sticking to her spine (I know that sounds weird, but I swear, it’s a thing). I spent the day with her at the clinic and the vet decided to move forward this afternoon. If it had been something operable, she would have made it through the surgery just fine.
The mass had metastasized and it involved her pancreas, lymph nodes, and the majority of her intestines. I only saw about 6″ of viable intestines left.
We let her go, she deserved some peace.
So, please everyone, pet your beloved pets, take a deep breath, donate a few dollars to the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center if you can, (PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org in memory of Honey), and for the love of anything good left in this world – please spay and neuter your pets.
Rest in peace sweet girl; I wish I could have done more.
In the, “well, that was unexpected” category, Snoopy-dog (fka airport road dog) looks like he has a future home. The poor woman who was helping the animal shelter prep and stuff envelopes for a mailing campaign had Snoopy attempt to assist her by sniffing each envelope she stamped and put down, probably making sure no dog biscuits accidentally got sent out by mistake. I also, in my rambling dorky way explained he had already had one bath, and yes, those are fleas – we are calling them the Fleatles,…that one’s Ringo, that one’s John, I think that one was George, and yep, sorry….just killed Paul. And then the poor woman got to witness my mini meltdown (sobbed like toddler for a few minutes) as I’m filling out the paperwork to surrender him and I got to the call me or don’t call me if we have to put him down choice, because y’all? The shelter is FULL.
Anywhoodle, she apparently left a message on the voicemail that she wants him and wants to fly with him to the states in April.
So the shelter wonders if I can come in on a regular basis for meltdowns? Or even to just do bad paraphrasing of internet comedy?
I’ll take the happy. ❤
**so many inappropriate words**
I’m feeling a little raw today, not because my life is bad because holy crap – *my* world is pretty great.
But please (PLEASE!?) spay and neuter your pets.
We’ll start with the deeply depressing, then do the stressful and enraging, and then end on a bit of happy, ‘kay?
Airport Road Dog/designated Snoopy at shelter: he is heartworm negative (wooo!), full of fleas (all dying right now!), and a handsome and happy boy who would make a wonderful pet. Fingers crossed someone will fall in love with him and take him home. He was not chipped and will be on a stray hold for the next few days. And given the full state of the shelter, if no-one claims him or falls in love with him soon, he will end up euthanized. But for now, he is no longer itchy, fed, and comfy. And that’s better then his world was two days ago.
Honey-Dog, still at the vet clinic with her as I type this. She is not healthy. Possibly cancer, possibly liver disease – pretty much every horrifying possibility still TBD. Oh, and that someone shot her with an airgun pellet?! Yeah….’cause that happened too. So, she is not a great surgical candidate; we are waiting on a few more tests and I will make the best decision I can.
And Mariposa, she is still hanging out with the babysitter and hopefully meeting people who will fall in love with her and adopt her. But she’s having fun! ❤❤❤
A quick update on the current FoodLady’s list of abandoned/lost/neglected/foster misfits:
Honey – didn’t get to see her yesterday, haven’t heard anything yet but I know she is in great and loving hands with Eby and we will head off to the animal shelter to get additional testing done on Friday (took day off work).
Miraposa – little monster is currently being babysat by her very own Prince, and as you can all see in the photo, her difficult life continues.
Un-named airport dog – greatly enjoying kibble and water although his joy at being segregated from gen pop is waning. In the realm of TMI (but a great, if not definitive indicator of good health), his poops are seriously healthy which gives me hope he has a home and just got lost (please please please please please please!). He’ll get scanned tomorrow when I can get him to animal shelter.
So, here’s a little pickle of a problem I could use some help with, how to get this lost/abandoned/stray dog to the animal shelter tomorrow morning when I have to fly to STT in the morning? Help?
So, today I spent the day in STT (for work) and have to spend the entire day there again tomorrow. To make my life extra convenient, I’ve been flying out from the airport and returning on the seaplane. 😒
So, while husband was driving me to pick up the jeep from the airport there was a loose white dog on airport road. We stopped, but he ran from us. So, after I got the jeep and was headed west I saw him again so I pulled over. Did he run to me? Uh, no. This is not a Disney movie. I sat on the ground and told him in my happy voice all about how handsome he was and shook my fancy kibble container (aka empty sorbet container). Then we moved a little closer and eventually I had him (literally) eating out of my hand and then sneakily leashed his scrawny, filthy, and underfed butt. When we walked on leash towards the jeep he kind of trotted and waved his tail which is a great sign.
He is currently locked in my laundry room with squishy blankets, kibble, and water. He went for the kibble first.
Intact male, young, weighs about 25-30lbs (should weigh 50), and very handsome.