Happy Friday, everyone. Hopefully, wherever you are, you are starting to feel more signs of spring and beginning to heal after a tumultuous week last week. If you read the blog Monday, you are aware that I shared the 60 Minutes story on the importance of highly trained, bomb-sniffing dogs. Today, I'd like to share the story of a different breed of helper dog.
Meet Maggie, Addi, Ruthie, Luther and Isaiah, five helper dogs from K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs. Unlike bomb-sniffing dogs who are trained to sniff out bad things, these dogs are trained to heal good people through emotional support. These dogs travel all over the country providing support to humans in times of tragedy. Two of them actually work at Sandy Hook Elementary full-time.
National Geographic posted an excellent article about the importance of the human-canine bond. These dogs and this organization represent the importance of animals in our lives. We've all heard the stories about how pet owners tend to have longer, happier lives than non-pet owners, and now we're seeing first-hand what a couple of hours, or even a couple of minutes, petting and playing with a dog can do for our emotional well-being.
It's been a crazy last few weeks, to say the least. I wouldn't typically like to go more than a week without posting, but a lot has happened since I last wrote. Last weekend I got my wisdom teeth out, which meant lots of snuggle time with Woody and lots of Netflix time with the bf. I'm still swollen like a chipmunk, so I worked from home this morning, which, I think, made Woody one happy pooch.
The previous weekend, we went to visit a friend in Boston. As we waited at our gate with dozens of runners getting ready to run the Boston Marathon, we enjoyed the conversation among us involving anything from pre-race rituals to how good alcohol will taste after they cross the finish line. No one at that gate had any idea about the events that would take place on Marathon Monday and the days following. I still have no idea if the people we were surrounded by before take-off came away unscathed. I only recognized one of them on our way home last Tuesday.
In tragic events like the Boston Marathon bombings, we often find peace in hearing the stories of the first responders, the unlikely heroes and the survivors. Yesterday, 60 Minutes posted a story about the importance of our canine heroes, the ones who go through as intense of trainings as humans, to find the bad things that humans can't see or feel.
Since 9/11, dogs are being used more than ever, because nothing has proven more effective against hidden bombs than the nose of a working dog.
I always knew how important bomb-sniffing dogs and K9 units are to society, but I never knew how intense the training can be or how top-secret the missions entail. As the story shows, these elite dogs use their best sense -scent- to detect dangerous weapons and people that humans could not find by a simple search.
When we think about our heroes, we need to also remember how important dogs are in protecting soldiers and civilians. Though bomb-sniffing dogs were on the scene after the bombs went off last Monday, they were able to provide security and precaution for the humans they were protecting. We often think that guns and other weapons are our best means of defense against the bad guys, but maybe we would see less violence in the world if people chose a more faithful, yet ruthless, companion to watch their backs.
Finally, after much anticipation and months of snow, wind and unsettling cold, spring has returned to Ohio in the non-early-spring-seventy-degree-weather tease kind of way. I took Woody on two long walks around downtown Cleveland, and the bf and I took him to Edison's Pub, a dog-friendly bar in Tremont. Overall, he did pretty well, minus the fact that he fell off a bench. It was a new experience for all of us, but luckily I kept him occupied 80 percent of the time with a chew bone. He also suffered a bout of separation anxiety when I would get up to order drinks or use the restroom. The boy said he was barking pretty intensely in the short time I was away. I'm sure it was embarrassing, but at least I have something new to work on with him. The only thing I regret was not bringing treats to work on training and reward him for his positive behavior moments. Lesson learned.
Today I'll be enjoying Cleveland Indians opening day, and Woody will hopefully get some much-needed rest after a busy weekend. As a sidenote, one thing on my Cleveland 2013 bucket list is to take him to Puppypalooza, a dog-friendly evening at the park. Stay tuned for a post about my experience, which I'm sure will go smoothly (not).
Earlier this week I shared my love for one of my college dogs. Did I mention I actually lived with TWO dogs during college? I lived with Abbey (the one I wrote about this week) my senior year. But I lived with Griffin - a goofy dalmation who, like Woody, is named after a Buckeye great - my junior year. Tuesday was Griffin's 6th birthday so I thought I'd give him a little love, too. He deserves it after all of the shenanigans we put him through.
Apologies for the non-original title, but this week I've been thinking about how one of the most interesting things about the human race is how focused we are on each others' differences. This has become so apparent in the news with debates over immigration, marriage and childhood bullying. We stereotype and generalize other humans because it's easier for us to classify people in a simple manner than to really get to know who they are as individuals. Dogs don't do this. Sure, they may sniff a butt or two they don't like, but it has no basis on looks or appearance. So why is it that humans have to be so focused on categories that they have begun to classify dogs in the same manner?
This pretty girl is Miss Abbey. Abbey is my friend Steph's dog and I had the ultimate pleasure of living with Abbey my senior year of college. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better companion at the time.
Abbey was more like a house dog than anything. Every roommate fed her, let her hang out on the couch and took her for walks. I took her to the oval, snuggled with her some nights, and often came home from class to find her perched on my bed looking out the window watching the world outside. Sometimes I wish I could look out a window all day like Abbey does.
Other hobbies Abbey enjoyed (many of which are still important to her) include:
I understand why there are limits on breeds when it comes to rent stipulations, etc., but I wish it didn't have to be this way. If every person was able to experience the sweetness of this dog like I did, they would find it difficult to comprehend why they get such a bad reputation. Luckily, there are rescue shelters for bully breeds that make sure these sweet animals receive proper care in a home that knows how to love them unconditionally, no matter what society says about them.
In a perfect world, we would drop stereotypes and short attention spans in favor of using the analytical mind we all possess. Then, there would be no need for housing restrictions and bully breed shelters. Nor would there be a need for laws that restrict people from being people. Humans have a mind so complex that we are capable of doing this, yet we don't. As complex as they may be, dogs don't think too much about how they need to feel. Dogs don't stereotype. Dogs just know love. No matter what the breed or circumstance, that's all that really should matter.
I'm just a twenty-something female raising the weirdest dog I've ever met.