Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Myths of Dogdom—Solved!

In Sunday’s newspaper, Parade magazine had an article on the “secret life of pets”.  In this article the author, Catherine Price, decided to clear up the top head scratchers that pet owners have about the strange behavior that their pets have—in particular cats and dogs.  Her goal was to find the answers to twelve puzzling things that cats and dogs do—four about cats, five about dogs, and three that were a combination of both.  The article caught my eye as I am always curious to know what is going through the minds of the family’s two dogs—Maddie the Boxer and Dora the Dachshund—pictured above.  I want to know why they are so darn weird!

The number one question that kicked off the article had to do with dogs drooling.  Inquiring minds want to know!  You want to know what the answer was?  Loose lips.  Some dogs have looser lips than other dogs.  Maddie, our Boxer, has her breeds jowls—a fancy name for loose lips.  She drools, but only at certain times—typically around six o’clock in the evening—suppertime.  She likes to sit by our chairs, roll those big brown eyes, and drool—which is usually good for a green bean or broccoli spear.  Yeah, our dogs like vegetables—of course, Dora the Dachshund like everything and anything, but she doesn’t drool.  She sits in a chair, at the table, puts on her pathetic puppy face, whines, and then barks until someone acknowledges her with a scrap.  Maddie is the drooler—a puddle maker—always have to watch your step leaving the table . . . especially on nights when there is steak.  That dog knows her steak. 

Maddie definitely has loose lips . . . thankfully she only drools around food unlike her boyfriend who lives next door—Moose.  Moose is a Great Dane and he is HUGE . . . and he has some of the loosest lips I have ever seen.  He drools all of the time.  Sometimes his greeting is a great big slime-fest.  You especially don’t want to be around him when he shakes his head—the drool goes flying!  But Maddie loves her big boy . . .

. . . she has never minded swapping spit with the big guy.

Tail chasing—that was the next big dog mystery.  Why do dogs chase their tails?  Neither of my dogs ever chased their tails.  Maddie had her tail bobbed when she was an itty bitty puppy, and Dora . . . well, that would be work . . . Dora doesn’t like work.  But our granddog—Blitz the German Shepherd—likes to chase his tail.  Drives the daughter and her husband crazy--especially when he catches it because he has a tendency to gnaw on it.  The answer to the question?  Basically the dog is bored and would like a little interaction.  It is a sign for us owners to get up and play with our dogs.  Now the bigger issue is what is going on when the dog keeps doing this tail chasing all of the time?  Dog behavior experts—yeah, I didn’t know that these people existed—state that it is probably an obsessive compulsive disorder and that the dog’s owner needs to his or her pet some expert help.  A shrink for the dog!  I think you oughta duct tape a tennis ball to the dog’s tail and let the critter have some fun.  Tennis balls are a heck of a lot cheaper than a doggie shrink!

Color blindness in dogs—yep, they are color blind.  Dogs have the same sort of color blindness that humans do—red-green.  Plus the colors that they do see are muted—not as vibrant as the ones we humans see.  That is good to know . . . now I know why the dogs always run to my gold truck when I tell them they are getting a ride in the wife’s red truck—they can’t see it!  I just thought they were being difficult.  But they make up for their color blindness by being able to see super well in the dark and being able to easily detect motion.

The author of the article states this is why dogs are aware of every squirrel in the yard . . . unless they are my dogs.  Maddie is squirrel blind—she rarely can find the squirrel when it is stealing all of the bird food.  Dora, well she is a little better.  But we have more than one squirrel and the two of them are pretty smart.  They play games with the dogs because the dogs think that there is only one squirrel, so when one squirrel is pillaging one bird feeder the other one is distracting the dogs at the other.  We have some of the fattest squirrels in Montana.

“Pee mail” . . . pee mail is like email to dogs.  This is the answer to the next big question: Why do dogs sniff around so much before deciding where to pee?  Because they have to read the pee mail.  Dogs, with their acute sense of smell are able to gather all sorts of information from the scents of other dogs’ urine.  They can determine which dogs passed through the area, how long it was since they were there, and whether or not it was a male or a female.  With so much reading to do it is no wonder that dogs take so long before peeing—besides reading they are composing their own little message.  I am thankful that Maddie had good examples and was trained to pee on the command “Take a break!”  Mention that phrase and she pees wherever she happens to be—like clockwork.  I wonder how the other dogs read that one!

Do dogs have a sense of time?  The author could have come to our house and figured that one out.  A quarter to five in the morning and four o’clock in the afternoon—Dora is raring to eat.  Like clockwork that dog begins to dance and prance in anticipation of her breakfast and supper.  Of course Dora is always ready to eat, but at those two times a person could set his or her watch.  It doesn’t even matter if you switch time zones—she knows when it is time to eat!

Panting . . . this one I was surprised that more people didn’t know the answer to: why do dogs pant?  That is how they cool off since they don’t sweat like us humans.  Oh sure, the pads of their feet sweat, but if they use doggy deodorant (Hey!  If there are shrinks for dogs then surely there is Right Guard for dogs!) . . . the bottom line is that panting cools the dog off.  It can also be a sign of excitement . . . typically Maddie displays this sort of panting when Moose is out in the yard.  Usually, though, it is just to cool off.

Chocolate and onions—bad for dogs?  Why?  Well, onions give dogs bad breath and chocolate makes them fat and sassy.  Actually both have chemicals that are bad for dogs and if taken in large doses can kill them.  I can vouch for that—especially chocolate.

During the holidays the wife likes to leave bowls of candy out for people to treat themselves to when a chocolate pain hits.  For the most part the dogs have never messed with these bowls of chocolate . . . until one Christmas.  The family all pack themselves up and went down the road to enjoy the holiday festivities in a nearby town.  All those years of smelling that chocolate and never succumbing to the temptation must have final caught up to Dora—she ate a whole bowl of the best chocolate money could buy—the very best.  She peeled off every foil cover and left it piled up neatly by the bowl.  I estimate that she must have eaten close to a pound of chocolate—which is quite a bit of chocolate for a fourteen pound dog!  She bloated up like the Hinderberg and could barely move when we returned home.  It was like poking a great big balloon . . . it looked like she could pop at any moment.  She was one sick puppy!  Nearly died.  Thankfully a quick phone call and some fast remembering we had a solution that would save her life—hydrogen peroxide.  A table spoon of that stuff to make her vomit and life would slowly return to her.  She vomited nonstop for over an hour and then slept next to me the whole night—shallow chocolate breath in my face the whole night.  Next morning—at 4:45AM—she was up and ready to go for her breakfast.  Yes, chocolate can kill your dog!

I was glad that the author decided to clear up a few of these myths about dogs for me . . . I just thought that we had gotten a few of the stranger dogs.  Turns out that they are pretty normal.  I like my dogs . . . they are pretty good companions . . . and they make great lap blankets in the winter.  I was disappointed that the author didn’t tackle a few of the questions I had . . . like, why do dogs always fart when they are sleeping?  Why do dogs always thumb their legs when you scratch them behind their ears?  And, why, oh why, do they always poop in the neighbor’s yard even after they have pooped in their own yard?  If the author can answer those questions for me life would be good.  In the meantime, I love my dogs and . . .

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