Discipline

I was outside with my dog, Joy, this morning when she got her lead wrapped around a tree. I was able to guide her into unwrapping herself by a series of hand and vocal directions. When she finished unwinding herself, I highly praised her. I remembered the dog trainer who led me into training my dog, Atlas, The first thing that trainer taught his class of twenty-some students (and their dogs) was to praise your dog! Actually, the first thing he taught us was to get your dog to look at you. Then whenever your dog does one thing towards what you want him to do, PRAISE HIM!

This works with children as well. It works very well. When your child is doing the wrong thing, first you need to get his/her attention. If you’ve trained your child well, s/he will look at you when you call his/her name. You can begin to make silent gestures as well. If your child is doing something wrong or inappropriate, you shake your head while saying, “Don’t do that.” It works best with a child if you give them something different to do . . . tell them what they should be doing instead.

You would think this was apparent, but it’s not – the part of telling a child what to do instead. Too often we will scold a child when s/he is doing wrong, but fail to tell him or her what s/he should be doing. That’s actually the most important part. If you fail to tell him or her what they should be doing, they will gravitate back to the inappropriate behavior because to them, that felt “right”.

I substitute taught in a classroom and a little boy kept “misbehaving”. No matter what we were doing, he did something entirely different. Finally I went over to him . . . his desk was already up against the teacher’s desk, which was a clear indication that he had some behavior problems, and I got on his eye level so we could look in each other’s eyes without my looming above him, and I asked, “What SHOULD you be doing?” His simple answer explained it all. He said, “I don’t know.” So I patiently explained the directions again to him and stayed with him until he started doing the activity the correct way. I suggested that when he was confused about what to do, for him to look at his classmates and try to do what they were doing. This was going to be difficult because he sat with his back to most of his classmates, but he could turn his head and try to watch.

And I praised him! I told him what a good job he was doing and how proud I was of him! He continued to do well, with redirecting comments from me, the rest of the day.

Instruction in what to do is necessary, for if we only tell them what not to do, they learn nothing; if we tell them what to do instead of what they are doing, they learn everything.

And praise. Do not be afraid to tell your child when he is doing the right thing. Even if he hasn’t done something wrong, when you see him/her doing what you want, tell him/her that is correct. Those words can be short and sweet. Here are examples:

Good Job!

Well done!

Nice work!

Look at YOU!

Way to Go!

Yay!

You can come up with your own words of praise, but find a few comments that are easy to say and use them to train, or discipline, your child.

Discipline is teaching what to do; it’s not all about punishment.

For my interested friends, here is a Bible verse to remember: Proverbs 22:6 KJV Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

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Bookends

I was outside with my young dog, Joy, this morning. I was looking at the way her back feathers out to her feet in a lighter shade of brown . .   perhaps a tan, and then her feet become almost white. Her back and head itself are a light brown. I’ve seen this shade of brown before. It was on my dog, Honey. She was the first dog I ever had, and she arrived one Christmas Eve when I had just turned ten.

Honey followed me everywhere. We were the best of friends. Everyone who knew me said if you were looking for me, keep your eye out for Honey as well, because we would be together. I loved that dog.

Looking at Joy’s back this morning, I thought about how she was the same color as my Honey dog had been. Although Honey was half Cocker Spaniel and half Rat Terrier, Joy is part Collie and who knows what else? Joy is bigger than Honey was, but she has the same “Wants to be with me all the time” nature.

Those dogs represent bookends of my life. How young I was when I got Honey; how old I am now.

I hope when I die that all the dogs I have ever owned run to greet me. I hope the rainbow bridge has hand rails. Otherwise, I’ll be knocked down by the pack.

Joy – To Be Or Not To Be?

Joy thinks she’s my dog. She’s never been my dog. She was the puppy I got from someone I worked with to help my dog, Blackie, get out of the funk she’d fallen into when Blackie’s mother, Magic, died. I was in a funk too, but I had no interest in another dog. My motive was to make Blackie move from her mother’s favorite spot in the blue recliner. I wanted Blackie to eat with gusto again. I wanted to assuage her grief.

It worked. Blackie moved from the blue recliner, if just to get away from Joy, at first. Later she jumped down to go outside with Joy. Blackie couldn’t bear to see Joy eating all the food, so she jumped down to join her. Blackie sat with Joy and taught her tricks, like catching thrown bits of food in the air. Whatever Blackie did, Joy did.

My sons spent time with Joy. One trained her to do her business outside while the other played with an old basketball with her. I watched Blackie and was glad I’d gotten Joy.

When we moved, Joy was tied to a tree out front while the doors were open for the movers to bring in everything. Blackie sat inside with me. Joy was still a puppy and watched in amazement as everything was brought past her from the truck into the house.

Joy doesn’t sleep in my room. She has never slept in my room. There’s been a few times she’s slept up against my bedroom door . . . on the other side. She sleeps in the guest room and often one of my sons is in there with her. Joy’s never been my dog.

This morning when I went out to fix breakfast, Joy jumped up from her bed and wagged her whole body when she saw me. Why? I took her outside since I thought that was what she wanted. How happy she was to be there. Outside is that mysterious place where she can smell smells and see things she can’t see from inside the house. I always stay out with her until she’s ready to come in.

Once back inside, she grabbed a tennis ball in her mouth and used her front paws to push one towards me. I was busy fixing breakfast. She was so insistent, I finally picked one up and threw it down the hall for her to chase. She ran back with it between her front paws, as she still carried one in her mouth. She reminds me of a soccer player the way she can handle moving a tennis ball. Tail wagging, she pushed the ball towards my foot. I ignored her and she did it again. Annoyed I picked up the ball and pretended to throw it. She ran down the hall and I bounced it in the kitchen to let her know I still had it. She ran back, tail wagging, and was so happy that I did throw it down the hall this time.

Breakfast made, I put her plate down in front of her. Her tail continued to wag as she began to eat.

Joy is the embodiment of happiness. Joy has lifted my spirits more times than I can count. I had to quit work in 2015. I was not happy about it. Blackie sat on the porch with me day after day while I watched the world go by and felt sorry for myself. When we came in, Joy met me at the door with a tennis ball and wanted to play. More times than not, I threw it more out of anger than out of wanting to play. Little by little, Joy taught me that all was not over. It is hard to stay mad or sad when a dog is being silly and bouncing down the hall and wagging her tail.

Joy came into our lives to lift Blackie’s spirits. I never knew she’d do the same for me. Joy is my dog. Blackie is still my dog, but Joy belongs to me.

'Heating Gas Man just came and the sun is shining. I don't know how he made it here . . . I don't know how he walked on that ice, but I was GLAD to see him. Have you SEEN Thursday's Temp Predictions? Oh, and I have a watchdog again! Her name is Joy, but he didn't even get out of his truck before she let me know he was here.'

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Don’t Try To Say I’m Confused

In March 2015 I called in late to work to take my cat, Hunter, who was struggling to breathe, to the vet. The vet said Hunter was in heart failure. The last time a vet told me a pet was in heart failure, I ended up losing my beloved dog, Magic. I was devastated.

The vet suggested I leave Hunter with him to see what he could do for her. I told him, no, I would stay. I called my school to say I’d be out all day, not just the morning. The vet administered lasik, but before the assistant could get in the room with a litter box, Hunter had peed all over me. I didn’t care. I was prepared to stay with her all day .

The vet came in and said actually, if I could take her home and keep her quiet, she would fare better than being there in his office where she would hear barking dogs from time to time. She needed to be kept calm and quiet.

So we loaded Hunter back into her carrier, and I was to bring her back later that afternoon for more checks and meds.

When I got home, I saw a bunch of people at the house next door. That house had been for sale for months, and it looked like whoever had bought it was moving in. The noise! The commotion! I was happy for my new neighbor, but did he have to be so loud? All the women who were there helping were yelling at each other at the top of their lungs. It was as if they were competing for the man’s attention.

The men, who were there, were doing loud things with loud machines. I was distressed that I had brought my cat home to more noise than a few barking dogs at the vet. Still I took her inside and tried to settle her in the quietest place in my house. I could still hear those unnecessary shouts from the women next door. When I looked out the window, I saw some of the yelling women were in the back yard yelling to the ones who were in the front yard. And the drills, and hammers and everything else they were doing to move that man in were so LOUD.

At one point, I lost it and went to the closed window and hollered at them, “Could you make a little more NOISE???” I doubt they heard me over all the racket. It was a miserable day for me.

Late that afternoon I took Hunter back to the vet. She was “holding steady” and he gave her more meds and said to bring her both before and after work the next day for medications and rechecks. He said it would be best to keep her at home, if that was possible. I told him “at home” wasn’t as quiet as I had hoped. He said it still was probably better than hearing strange dogs barking, which is what she’d hear at his office.

So for several days I took her before and after work to the vet for medicine and check-ups. Eventually the vet showed me how to give her medicine and I was able to go a little less often. She still wasn’t “out of the woods”, but he seemed hopeful that she would improve.

She did continue to improve. Right now her heart condition is stable. She’s lived longer already than I expected.

But this blog isn’t about her; it’s about my new neighbor who moved in the day I found out my cat was in heart failure.

As I began to notice my new neighbor, I decided he was about the same age as me, and by then I had stopped working due to disability. He looked disabled too. I thought wouldn’t it be nice if we became friends?

He was never open for that. Any time I glanced his way, if we were both outside, he avoided my glance. No doubt I’d made a terrible impression on him the day he moved in. Well, he didn’t  impress me either that day.

So . . . fast forward to this year. In March 2016, my old dog, Blackie and I got attacked by a neighborhood pit bull. Blackie needed expensive surgery and I ended up in the ER and later had many visits for Physical Therapy.

I had noticed in that year’s time that my new neighbor had a visitor who would come with large dogs. The dogs were never on leashes and once one of them ran at me and Blackie when I was walking Blackie. I screamed and screamed and finally the owner (or was it my new neighbor?) came out in a bathrobe and after calling their dog repeatedly, was able to get it to stop charging at us and go back towards him. That was before the pit bull attack, but it was frightening.

So . . . a few weeks ago, probably 2 or 3 weeks ago, I was out at 4:00 am with my dog and I saw two large dogs run from my new neighbor’s drive way and across my yard. It scared me to death. I quickly got my dog, who was on leash, just as she had been when the pitbull attacked us March 2016, back into the house. I could not stop shaking. I considered calling the police, but the last time I called, the police spent more time telling me I’d been rude to the 911 operator (who was playing 20 questions, asking the same questions three times, over and over until I lost it and told her to write it down! if she couldn’t remember, and quit asking me for my address as I knew it had popped up on her screen!, and I’d given it to her twice already.) But rather than help me, the police fussed with me. So I don’t call 911 any more. That night, even while shaking all over, I talked myself out of calling. What would they do? Tell me the animal control officer wasn’t on duty at that time of night? Finally I calmed down enough to decide I should call. So at 5:00 am, I called 911. That operator was actually nice. I told her about the dogs who visited my neighbor, and how I thought they were loose . . . a policeman was sent. I had told the 911 operator that I didn’t need to talk to him.

However shortly after he drove up, he shone a light on my house and I went outside to see if he wanted to talk to me. He said he had talked to my neighbor and there were no dogs. My neighbor didn’t have dogs and he was furious at being woken up. I said they were not his dogs, but belonged to someone who came to see him. No, the policeman said. There were NO DOGS. He didn’t see any dogs over there; he didn’t hear any dogs barking over there. I said I knew that. The dogs ran down the driveway, across my yard and were now loose somewhere in the neighborhood. The policeman repeated that all I had done was upset my neighbor for getting him woke up in the middle of the night, and IF I’d seen dogs at 4:00 am, why did I take so long to call?

I stood there wondering why he was so mad at me. When I complained about him later, I was told Hurricane Matthew was coming and he was probably upset over that. It seems the 911 operators and the police can act any way they want to. Funny, I thought they were public servants. I have often defended the police, as my grandfather was constable for years in our small town. I defend them no more. This is not the first time I’ve felt like the police here think I’m a confused, old woman who bothers them.

A few minutes ago I heard a dog bark. I checked to see if it was one of mine. No. I went towards the back of the house and looked out the window the next time I heard the dog bark, and the bark was louder this time.

Well. . . look at that. Two large dogs chained in my neighbor’s back yard and one was barking. I got my camera and took a couple pictures. I may send them to the policeman who said there were no dogs . . . I may print them out for future reference.

I’m old. I’m not crazy; I’m not confused. And if you act like I am, I will show you up the first chance I get in the most public way possible.

Not sure what I’m going to do with those pictures, but I am going to post one of them here. The dog on the right is bigger than it looks. He’s about the size of a pit bull. The one on the left is larger than that

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Help! Help! Police?

I’ve had great respect for the police in the past. However, several events have made me rethink why I unconditionally respect the police? I expect it had to do with my grandfather being the Constable of our small town and me being sent to the police station to get him to come home when my grandmother wanted him. Insdie the police station, the officers seemed so competent. They were my grandfather’s friends. They were ok.

Even when my grandfather died, the police played a part in his funeral. He had a police escort to the cemetery and I remember the blue lights flashing and thinking how happy my grandfather would be, if he could see them.

In years gone by, I’ve had some good encounters with policemen and some not so good. Lately the not so good have out-weighed the good.

On March 6 of this year, my little dog and I were attacked by a neighbor’s pitbull. The police finally came – when I didn’t need them any more – and they took a police report. They asked if I wanted to be transported to the ER by EMS and when I said yes, they called. The police had been called by my across the street neighbor, who saw the dog when it began the attack. By the time the police showed up, the attack was over and I was on the phone callnig 911. I was told someone else had already called it in and they were on the way. How comforting.

During the investigation. it turned out that the owners of the pitbull (and the pitbull had not been vacinated for rabies and bit my son) and was quarantined, but the owners were known “pill heads”, as the policeman stated.. When I called the place quarantining the dog, I was told the owners could get the dog back in ten days. How comforting.

Then the police raided the pitbull’s owner’s house and found it to be a drug manufacturing establishment and no one could go back to that house. That helped.

I was outside early Saturday morning – just yesterday morning – with my little dog again. It was around 4:30 am and my dog insisted she had to “go”. So there we were in my yard when two large dogs ran across my neighbor’s (on the other side, not the drug house) driveway and across my yard. I quickly got my dog inside. I was shaking all over. One of those two dogs – at least one – was a pitbull. It took me awhile to calm down.

Then I debated calling 911. What good would it do? Always before when I call 911 about animals, they tell me to call animal control. So I looked that number up online. They were only available from 8 to 5. I noticed an email and I sent the animal control officer an email. My neighbor, on the other side, has someone who visits and has three large dogs. They are never on lease. One ran at me and my little dog when I was out walking her one day. The person who comes to visit and brings them (so I never know if they’re there or not) relys on his voice commands to control them. He called that one back and it continued to run at me and my dog. I was screaming, he was calling, and the dog would come towards me, hesitate, and then continue towards me, all the while ignoring the commands from its owner. Finally the owner started towards the dog and the dog turned around and went back to him. This is how that man handles his dogs in a leash law (but who really cares?) town.

So I thought those two dogs belonged to my other side neighbor. I thought about going over and telling him his dogs were loose, but then thought no, if they were loose, but still close, they might attack me for going into their territory.

So I finally sat down and called 911. For once the 911 operator was reasonable and didn’t play 20 questions asking the same bunch of questions 3 times like the one I got before did. She took the information. I told her I didn’t need to speak to the officer, but the dogs came from the house next door. I gave her that house number. By then it was 5:30 am.

I saw the police car drive up. I waited. It appeared the policeman shined his light on my house, so I went out. I was met with disparagement, and condescension. Why? I was asked, Why? didn’t I call 911 when it first happened? Did I thnk of that, he asked? He told me my neighbor was mad at being woke up. He told me there were no dogs at my neighbor’s house. He told me there were no dogs period.

I know I’m older now. I also know what I saw. I also know I will never call 911 again. If my neighbor’s visitors non-dogs get in my yard or near me and my dog, I will defend us myself.

The police suspect everyone of lying. They listen to the person with the most money. They have pre-conceived ideas when they approach you. Don’t believe otherwise. That’s how they are.

Emotional Creatures

Dogs are bundles of emotion who are keen to human emotion and seek to communicate that way.

I’ve had dogs throughout my life, starting with my little brown dog, named Honey, who was brought to me by Santa Claus the year I was ten years old. She was my constant companion and we spent many happy years together. I lived in a small town and everyone said if you wanted to know where I was, to look for that dog, because she followed me and went with me everywhere.

Now I have a little black dog named Blackie. She is almost sixteen years old. We recently went through a Pitbull attack together. She still has nightmares from time to time and I have to wake her up when she wakes me whining during one. She used to sleep on the bed with me, but the last time she was up there, when she jumped off, she didn’t land softly, and so now she sleeps at the foot of my bed in the floor on an orthopedic dog bed.

I read on the news this morning that a 22 year old woman had been shot last night. She was a singer and her name was Christina Grimmie. I wasn’t familiar with her, so I decided to listen to one of her songs on youtube. She had a beautiful voice. I got very emotional at such a loss of so much talent. Suddenly I felt my little dog bump up against my leg as I sat here in awe of Christina’s beautiful voice and was feeling the brunt of the loss of her so young. I looked down and Blackie sat there looking up at me wagging her tail . . . trying to cheer me up. Like so many dogs before her, she felt my emotions and she wanted to comfort me.

I think all animals are here for different reasons. I think we are barbaric in our treatment of many of them and it bothers me to know how some of them are treated. Some time in the future perhaps humans will appreciate animal lives more than many do now.

I thank God for all the dogs I’ve had in my life, and if I see them again after I die, I will know I made it to heaven.

 

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Is The Dog Smarter, or Am I Older and Wiser?

I was sorting clothes yesterday before putting them in the laundry. I do this in the hall because I have a hamper in the bathroom and one in my bedroom and the hall is between them. So I make my piles of dirty clothes in the hallway floor and then spend the day washing, drying and putting them away.

Yesterday my young dog, Joy, who is now 4 1/2 brought her dog bed out of my son’s room and laid it on top of one of the piles. “Does that dog know what I’m doing?” I wondered. I asked her, “Joy, do you want your dog bed washed?” She stepped back into my son’s room, laid down in his doorway and looked at me. “Ok,” I told her. “I’ll wash your bed.”

I put her bed to the side of the piles and washed all day long. When I had finished with my things, I put her dog bed in the washer with a couple of the cat’s blankets and washed it all together. I dried her bed in the dryer. When I took it out, I carried it into my son’s room and put it down in the floor where Joy sleeps. She’d followed me happily into the house from the dryer and when I put the bed down, she licked my hands and my arms and wagged her tail madly.

All I know is if the dog is going to have laundry, she needs to learn how to operate the washing machine and dryer. Ha, ha. Just kidding. We seniors have to watch what we say or the younger people look at us strangely. I kid around a lot. Some people don’t realize that. Life is a party; we might as well have fun. I’m going to see if the dog does the same thing the next time I’m doing laundry.