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Showing posts with label pet personality.
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Thursday, August 8th, 2013, 10:33 AM | Updated: 08/08/2013, 10:33:55 AM | (Anonymous) [0 Comments]

One of the most gratifying things about spending time with animals is having the opportunity to communicate with them.  I don’t profess to have the talents of Dr. Doolittle, the fictional physician and subject of Hugh Lofting’s children’s books.  However, I manage quite effectively in “talking” with my pet clients.

One of my cat clients, SOCKS, and I spend a significant portion of our time together communicating.  I use my human voice and sense of touch, while SOCKS uses his feline voice and body language.  For example, when I sit next to SOCKS and brush or stroke his handsome coat, he lets me know that he’s thoroughly enjoying himself by purring, lying on his side and stretching out his body in a way that asks for belly rubs.  I comply by gentling rubbing his belly and using a soft, soothing tone of voice to engage him.

In today’s post, I’m going to go out on a Dr. Doolittle limb and detail how a typical conversation would go if SOCKS had the capacity to produce human speech.  

A Conversation with SOCKS:

I turn the key in the lock, push down on the door handle and enter his home.  SOCKS is always upstairs so I let him know that I’m there. 

Me: “Good morning SOCKS, it’s David.”
I immediately proceed upstairs and am overjoyed to find him waiting for me on the top landing.  My experience tells me that when SOCKS greets me at the top of the stairs, he’s going to be in a particularly talkative mood.  
“Hi SOCKS, it’s so good to see you.  How are you doing today?”
SOCKS: He looks up, “Hey David.  Doing quite well.  Been waiting for you.”
Me: “So what have you been up to?”
SOCKS: “Just kicking back this afternoon, taking some cat naps, snacking in between.  Other than that, there’s not much happening.”
Me: “Really? But you’re such an intellectual cat.”
SOCKS: “That’s true.  I do have a rich inner life.  Actually, I was sitting over by the window earlier looking out.  It’s entertaining to watch birds fly by.  They’re always in such a hurry.  Guess they have to look for their three square meals every day.”
Me: “Yes they do SOCKS.  Of course, that’s why I’m here.  I’m going to give you your dinner so you don’t have to expend any energy searching for it.”
SOCKS: “Thank you.  Appreciate your efforts when my Mom is away.” SOCKS rolls over on the floor, stretches out the full length of his body and throws his head back.  “Before you go grab my food, do you mind a little belly rub?”
Me: “Well of course SOCKS.  I don’t mind at all.  My pleasure.”  I sit down on the floor next to him, and start to rub his tummy gently.  SOCKS begins to purr.
SOCKS: “That sure feels good.  Oh yeah.  Work those tummy muscles David!  Mmmm!  Feels good.  A little bit lower.  Oh yeah.  That’s right.  Right there.” SOCKS purrs continuously without interruption.
Me: “Feels good?”
SOCKS: “Just like cat Nirvana dude!”
Me: “Glad I can help.” SOCKS sways ever so gently, relishing all the attention.  
SOCKS: “That’s so good.  But I’m getting hungry.  Do you mind……?”
Me: “Absolutely not.  I’ll be right back with your dinner.”
SOCKS: “Don’t be too long.  I’ll start to miss you and might require another belly rub.”

I hope you get an idea from this brief dialogue how SOCKS and I communicate during my visits.  As a cat care professional, I listen closely and take cues from my kitty clients.   When they’re as expressive as SOCKS, the communication is easy and very straightforward.

Gotta go blog readers!  My cell’s ringing.  Hmmm!  I recognize that number.  It’s SOCKS calling to catch up.  “Hey SOCKS……What’s up?” 

Thursday, July 11th, 2013, 03:45 PM | Updated: 07/11/2013, 03:45:05 PM | (Anonymous) [0 Comments]

In my last post, I disclosed my multiple dog personality – my adoration for larger breed dogs along side my actual pet ownership of small breed dogs (Shih Tzus to be precise).

Upon close examination of my feelings, I’ve been able to identify the reasons for my small dog affinity.  First, there is a very practical reason.  Throughout almost all of my adulthood, I’ve lived in condominiums or apartments.  While these living spaces have not been tiny, they also have not been expansive.  It wouldn’t seem fair to a large dog to be confined to a limited space, especially one with no private yard or secure outdoor area in which to run and play.  Our Shih Tzus weigh approximately thirteen pounds each and are fairly sedentary; this is a perfect pet size and lifestyle to negotiate around a 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo. 

The second reason relates to ergonomics.  When I’m not performing dog walking or pet care services for my clients like kitty home visits or pet sitting, I tend to spend time working on my laptop.  One of my dogs, Lucy, loves to be held.  It’s much more comfortable to sit in my office doing computer-based work with her in my lap than it would be with an affectionate and well-intentioned Weimaraner pinning me down in a half nelson.

Third, I’m very tactile and affectionate with dogs.  That said, it is so easy and personally soothing to be able to wrap my arms completely around a small dog like a Shih Tzu than it would be to pick one body part like a Great Dane’s head and scratch both of its ears only having to leave its feet for a later reflexology treatment. 

Finally, there is the small female dog factor.  This one is a bit more elusive. Nonetheless, I experience immense joy when my two girls come home from a day of beauty at their grooming salon with decorative bows adorning their backs.  I’ve resisted dressing my dogs in canine haute couture and crowning them with diva-esque tiaras, but the feminine bows certainly add something and I look forward to picking them up and seeing which colors Jeanine has selected for them this time. 

And so while I yearn to own a larger breed “guy’s dog” someday, for right now I’m perfectly happy with my two Shih Tzu daughter dogs as they create their own feminine mystique in an otherwise all male household.  You Go Girls!  Your Dad promises to manage his multiple dog personality and keep his big dog feelings in check.  “Doctor, how much is that therapy going to cost me?”

Monday, July 8th, 2013, 05:40 PM | Updated: 07/08/2013, 05:40:40 PM | (Anonymous) [0 Comments]

I feel so fortunate to be able to spend time with animals and integrate them with my work.  Furthermore, my dog walking and pet sitting experiences have led me to think more about my close relationships with dogs.

For more than 13 years, my partner Michael and I have been parents to two female Shih Tzus.  And before this, we shared our lives with another female Shih Tzu.  One would conclude based upon our history of pet ownership that we are partial to small dog breeds, females and specifically, Shih Tzus.  But this conclusion is only partially true.

For many years (and continuing to the present day), I have harbored a strong desire to parent a larger breed dog.  These feelings intensify when I see a pet owner with their Great Dane, Weimaraner or Vizsla (to name only a few of my favorite breeds).

Recently, I have sought to understand the underlying reasons for my feelings.  One relates to the regal appearance and magnificent form of larger breed dogs.  They are handsome, stand tall and seem to convey self-assuredness.  Of course, sometimes the opposite is true.  For example, many of the Great Danes I’ve met are much closer to big sweet kids that prefer to trot along the side of their parents.  They also lumber along, a little uncomfortable in their own large bodies.  And if they have smaller dogs for siblings, their brother or sister often assumes the alpha dog position.  With regard to Weimaraners and Vizslas, I find their physical beauty is enhanced by their startling eyes and the intense gaze they’re able to maintain.  They seem to convey the message. “You can’t fool me.  I know what’s going on.  I see and hear everything that’s happening.”

Another reason for my large breed appeal is they figure prominently into my wish to have a male dog “buddy”.  This is a “guy’s dog” who would sit next to me on the sofa and watch television as I eat munchies (of course, I’d also give him some healthy treats to be perfectly fair), ride next to me in my pickup truck*(if I were to own one) as we travel on adventures together or simply go to the dog park and play catch with me.  In other words, I think it would be awesome to have a four-legged guy around with whom I can do stuff.

Check back in a few days to learn more about my multiple dog personality; my inner psychic life as Dad to a big dog rubbing up against the reality of my holding toy dogs in my lap as I shower them with hugs and kisses.  “It’s okay Doctor!  I don’t believe my condition is serious.”

*Please note that it is not safe to travel with your dog sitting next to you in a moving vehicle.  Should you become involved in an accident, great physical harm and possibly death could occur.  Always secure your four-legged loved ones in the rear seat using a dog restraint device (e.g., special pet seat belt, harness, etc.).

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013, 03:47 PM | Updated: 06/05/2013, 07:36:15 PM | (Anonymous) [0 Comments]

Do pets have a soul?  Read on to find out! 

I was making a quick stop at Costco the other day and found myself browsing through the store’s book selection.  Despite already owning many books about pets, I found myself on the other side of the checkout aisle having purchased two more for my reading pleasure and growing collection.

One book is “Following Atticus” by Tom Ryan; it’s an account of the author’s true adventures with his miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch as they attempted to hike to almost one hundred snowy peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire one winter.  The second book is “Oink” with the subtitle “My Life with Mini-Pigs” by Matt Whyman.  This true story captures the author’s life with his wife and four children in the idyllic English countryside and how Butch and Roxi (two miniature pigs) joined their family and added their own special charm to an otherwise ordinary life. 

As I look at these two books and the others on my bookshelf, I think about one book that preceded most of them, “Marley & Me” by John Grogan.   For animal lovers, there’s no need to explain who Marley was and what he accomplished as “the world’s worst dog” during his life.  I was one of the millions who read this book, and laughed, cringed and ultimately wept as Mr. Grogan related Marley’s story.

Mr. Grogan’s book led the pack of the hundreds of others that followed.  And what they all have in common is they tell the story of an animal (cat, dog, horse, pig, etc.) that changed someone’s life (often many lives).  They changed human lives through their unique pet personalities – their likes and dislikes, behavioral idiosyncrasies, and hysterical and sometimes dark or tragic adventures.  Upon reading these stories, it’s difficult not to think about the animal as somehow human.  This is because the author (either intentionally or not) imbues the pet with human-like attributes.  The reader can actually visualize this character with four legs situating himself/herself in the activity taking place and consciously exerting some impact on the course of events.

And so this brings me to the key theme of today’s post.  Domesticated animals absolutely do have their own unique personalities – qualities and nuances that make them different from others of their same species.  And when I think about the animals under my care, I believe they each have a soul, a being or spiritual essence that goes beyond just an endearing pet personality.  It may not be a soul in the human sense; however, it is a soul nonetheless.  As other people play important roles and touch our lives, our pets play equally important roles and touch our lives in affirming ways.  And so today I offer this Soul Food for Thought.  Every time I meet a new pet and they greet me, I first say hello and introduce myself.  Then I try to sense what makes this animal distinctive.  That’s my Ah-ha! moment!  I realize it is my search to understand their soul.

Read more about pet personalities at my website,

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