Dog Hugs

Did you know dogs can hug? I don’t mean when they jump up an put their forelegs on you — but emotionally?

It doesn’t look like what you’d expect. A dog gives you a hug when they squint their eyes at you, with their mouths open and relaxed. And it doesn’t last long — just a moment. Dogs consider looking directly at you for more than a few second to be rude.

Look at how relaxed Zoe is. Her mouth is open and the corners of her mouth are pulled up. But it’s her eyes that are “huggy”.

Tegan isn’t usually a huggy dog. Here, she was walking with my daughter in a 5 k run/walk event, and was surprised to see me on the sidelines taking pictures.

We met Misty when we went to Denali last summer. She loved everybody, and showed it with her relaxed posture and soft, half-closed eyes. Her mouth was closed so she could nuzzle me.

Not all dogs give hugs; some show their affection in other ways. But when you get a squinty-eye look from a dog, with their mouths open, know that it is a really special emotion they are sharing with you.

Zoe, the Pet Therapy Dog

After training  (Zoe the Corgi’s First Day of Pet Therapy) and an initial evaluation, Zoe and I went to our final Pet Therapy evaluation today. Considering that Zoe is my third dog in the program (Dog as God’s Messenger), I was surprisingly nervous. I worried that I might forget something or that rules might have changed while I wasn’t looking.

Things started off well. We met Lyn, our evaluator, at hospice, and proceeded to visit the staff. We always try to see all the staff we can at hospice. It takes a special person to work there, and they deserve all the warm fuzzies we can give them. Zoe was her charming self, her little stub of a tail wagging furiously as she dashed over to see her next new best friend.

Once all the hospice staff had been suitably loved, we walked down the hall to see patients and family. As we approached our first room, we were surprised  by a little Scottie who came charging out of the room, barking to mark it’s territory. Zoe, startled and challenged, barked back.

I groaned inside as red-alert alarms went off in my brain. Pet Therapy dogs are not supposed to bark in the hospital. I corrected Zoe by giving her the “leave it” and “quiet” commands, but I also waited for Lyn to show us the door.

But Lyn just shrugged. While patients can bring pets into hospice, they are supposed to abide by the same rules as pet therapy dogs, and not bark in the building. This dog had startled Zoe, and barked a challenge. Zoe responded, but quieted almost instantly. No harm, no foul. Whew!

The rest of the visit went fine. We shared the love with patients and visitors. I didn’t make any mistakes. Lyn’s biggest concern was that Zoe pulled at the end of her leash in her eagerness to get to people. Since she weighs 22 pounds, it wasn’t as if she was going to pull loose and go tearing down the hall. With age and experience, and me gently reminding her, we agreed that she’ll settle down and save her energy for wagging her tail stub.

So it’s official: Zoe has earned her purple scarf, and is now a Pet Therapy dog.

Zoe the Corgi’s First Day of Pet Therapy

Zoe turned two yesterday, and so we were able to visit the hospital as a pet therapy team for the first time today.

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Don’t you just love the little corgi tongue sticking out?

I’m often asked what it takes for a dog to be a pet therapy dog. Requirements vary from program to program, but here’s the minimum for the pet therapy program at Lutheran Medical Center:

The dog has to be friendly to every person it meets.

It absolutely cannot growl, snarl or snap. If it does for any reason, it’s out.

It has to be well behaved — no jumping, lunging, or bark. Basic obedience is nice — sit, stay, settle, down — but not mandatory, as long as the owner has control of the dog at all times.

It can’t lick or give “kisses”. I know. I love them, too, but mouths are germy places, and that’s bad for people who are sick already. More surprising, it’s not dog hair that people are allergic to, it is dog saliva. It’s just that the hair has saliva on it. So, no licking.

It must be able to take a treat gently.

It must pass a fecal screening to make sure it is free of parasites.

And finally, the one Zoe and I have been waiting for, the dog must be two years old.

When Zoe first came to us (A little corgi dropped in and wanted to stay.), she was a little skittish around men and other tall people. Hats and umbrellas freaked her out, too. I can’t blame her for being nervous — she’d had a lot of changes in her short life.

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Just a little worried…

But I could sense even then that she would be a great pet therapy dog if we could get her used to new things. So we started encouraging her to “say hello” to every person she came across. Treats may have been involved.

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We worked on “no kisses” after Zoe got over being shy.

The end result was visiting the hospital, with all it’s strange sights, sounds and smells, and greeting new people, some of whom who wear floppy gowns — and loving it. I was ready to leave before Zoe was.

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Why are we stopping?

Next up — being evaluated by other pet therapy program people to make sure I’m not biased or missing something. I don’t think she has any serious problems, but we’ll see…

Zoe the Corgi Snores

Zoe is a small dog — I think she is the smallest dog we’ve ever had — just about 20 pounds. She is small enough to pass under Tegan, who is not a tall dog.

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Tegan and Darwin, each 35-40 pounds.

 

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Tegan and Zoe, who weighs 21 pounds.

 

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Zoe has a pointy snout.

For a corgi, Zoe has a pointy little fox nose. When she sleeps, she likes to tuck her nose under something — a pillow, or a blanket, or your sleeve. It’s as though she’s worried that she’ll suddenly start to float off if she isn’t moored by her snout.

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Zoe is held in position by her nose under Tegan’s leg.

She likes to sleep on our bed, and she has taught Tegan to do so as well. Tegan stays at the foot of the bed, but Zoe rambles around and over everybody else. The obvious answer is to keep putting her back down at the bottom of the bed, but that requires waking up multiple times through the night to re-position her, so it happens only rarely.

Zoe often snores. For such a petite dog, she snores surprisingly loudly.

All of these factors came together last night when she stuck her little nose IN my ear, right up in the ear canal. And began to snore.

A little corgi dropped in and wanted to stay.

It was hard to lose our corgi, Darwin, but it was time. Still, we all missed him greatly. (The Gift Of the Dying Dog)

Then we got a call from our veterinary clinic, asking if we were ready to adopt another corgi. A relative of one of the staff at the clinic is going through a divorce, and moving to a smaller place. Too small for even a small dog. He didn’t want to give the corgi to the pound, if he could help it. Could we take the dog?

We were a little reluctant to take on another dog so soon after Darwin died. We were still recovering from watching the little skamp slowly decline.

More to the point, we already had Tegan, our year old corgi-Rottweiler-cattle dog-pit bull bundle of enthusiasm. (What went into this mutt?) Years ago we brought two dogs into our home one who didn’t get along. The result was ugly. So we were a little wary — once we said yes to Zoe, we’d be committed —  if these two dogs didn’t get along, we’d have a big problem.

Her owner said her name was Zoe. She was just a year old, and a little on the small side for a corgi — about 21 pounds. She’d been around a bunch of chihuahuas without incident, whom she was happy to let rule the house. The owner sent us some photos so we could see what Zoe looked like.

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He really didn’t want to take her to a shelter, but time was running out. He wanted to know that she was going to a good home.

After thinking about the temperaments of the two young dogs, we said yes. We’d work out any problems as they came up, but we couldn’t let her go to a shelter.

It took the better part of a month to hammer out the details, but finally, on the day after Halloween — All Saints Day — Zoe flew in from her old home.

The people at the airport Live Animal Pickup were wonderful. It was obvious that they tried to make the animal’s trip as stress free as possible. Even so, her flight was delayed, so she had to stay in her kennel for about 8 hours. She was stressed.

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We took her home, and introduced her to Tegan the Terror. Loud noises, being bounced around, needing to pee, ending in a strange place, with strange people — it had been a very hard day for a little dog. Zoe took one look at Tegan, twice her size, and bolted to hide under a chair. She showed her teeth to tell Tegan she’d had enough.

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Tegan responded with a play-bow so deep she was in danger of rolling over. Pawing the air, with little yips of excitement, Tegan coaxed Zoe out from her hiding place.

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They then started a game of chase that has lasted two months.

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Zoe starts the chase as often as Tegan does. They race at top speed around the yard and through the house.

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They take turns being chaser and chasee. They have worn paths in the lawn.

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They play tug-of-war.

 

 

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When they finally stop, they flop down next to each other. I think we can relax about how they get along.

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Sometimes, you just have to trust that things will work out. And sometimes, they do.

May the New Year work out for you, and bring you unexpected friends.

 

The Gift Of the Dying Dog

Hemingway said that all true stories end in death. This, then, is a true story…

Autumn, 2011

My son wanted a dog of his own. We said no.  We already had two dogs. He only had two years before he went off to college. There was no point in getting him a dog that he was going to leave. I didn’t need to take care of three dogs.  The question was settled. We weren’t getting my son a dog.
Then my daughter started talking about a puppy at veterinary clinic where she worked. It was adorable, she said, a little corgi with big ears and inquisitive eyes.  And then she mentioned that it had been relinquished to the veterinary clinic because it had an incurable heart problem.  The clinic was trying to find somebody to take it so that its last days wouldn’t be spent in a kennel at the back of the clinic.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The prognosis was not good.  The puppy had patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) with reverse flow. Translated, patent ductus arteriosus means that a valve in his heart didn’t shut properly when he was born.  This open valve allows oxygen-poor blood from his body to mix with oxygen-rich blood from his lungs, diluting it.  Without treatment, dogs with this heart problem typically live just weeks to months.
By itself, PDA is fixable with surgery; the veterinarian would just operate and sew the valve shut. The problem is in the reverse flow.  In a small percentage of PDA cases, the blood vessels in the lungs thicken and narrow, causing the flow of blood to reverse from left to right, hence the name “reverse flow.” Once the blood vessels thicken, the veterinarians can’t shut the valve without forcing too much blood through the narrowed vessels. It would be like trying to force the flow from a garden hose through a straw – the extra blood would blow out the narrowed vessels.
But my family agreed that we couldn’t let the puppy live out its life without at least being able to lie in the grass, and watch the squirrels, even if he couldn’t chase them. And so we brought the puppy home. A Welsh corgi (are there any other kinds of corgi?) needed a Welsh name.  My son named him Darwin. It means “dear friend.”
A few days before we adopted Darwin, the veterinarian tried him on a new medication – Viagra, of all things.  Viagra was originally designed to treat pulmonary hypertension (“high blood pressure in the lungs” –  the problem causing the reverse flow).  Viagra just happened to have other, more profitable, side-effects. For Darwin, the drug changed his life from one of lying on his bed watching the world, to one of being out chasing those squirrels.  But we have no idea how long the improvement would last.
Darwin, of course, doesn’t know that he is dying. He’s a cheerful, active,
busybody. Every morning starts with him bouncing stiff-legged down the stairs, his ears flopping on each step. Then it’s time for a game of tug, or a ball-throwing session.  If you try to ignore him, he pops his short front legs up on your lap, drops the toy-of-the-day in it, cocks his head at you and let out an insistent Yarp! This is corgi for Hey! Play with me!
Once the game is over, he supervises getting everybody out the door to school or work, and then makes sure that the birds don’t get too comfortable on the bird feeder. After that, he rootles around in the garden, or barks at the neighbor’s dogs, flaunting his toys.
And he does flaunt his goodies.  He takes them to the back fence to show to the dogs in the yard behind us.  Once they are nicely frenzied, he tosses the bones in the air. La la lah la la!  What do I have here?  A bone!  Would you look at that?  Don’t you wish you had one?Darwin holding Kuramas leash ed 2
As everybody settles down for the evening, Darwin makes little piles of his toys, sorted by type: balls go in our room at the foot of the bed.  Bones go in my son’s room by his computer, where he can step on them when he walks around in bare feet. Prized chewy things go at the top of the stairs, where Darwin can keep tabs on the other two dogs.
He’s had a busy day.My Ball
Darwin has enemies, though. Cleaning utensils are a constant threat. He has reduced the kitchen broom to a fringe of bristles sticking out at every direction.  The vacuum sweeper is an angry menace, to be attacked on sight. The snow shovel has teeth marks on it where he has wrestled it away from us, saving us from some horrible fate.Darwin in the snow-09
Our feeling is that if Darwin has a short life span, we are going to give him every opportunity to experience the world. We take him on walks, to the dog park and on errands around town. As if trying to make up for time he won’t have, Darwin dashes toward everyone he meets, ears back and a smile on his face.  He proceeds to charm people as only a puppy can. The biggest proof of this is that the grandparents no longer ask about their grandchildren.  They want to know how Darwin is doing.Darwin in dog food bag-6_edited-1
But in the back of everybody’s mind lurks the knowledge that he won’t last.
Grasping at straws to cure Darwin, we took him to the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The canine cardiologist there listened and looked and took blood. But in the end, she shook her head.  She could adjust Darwin’s medications so that he had more energy. But she couldn’t cure him.  He might live three to five years, seven at the most, but in the end, his body will become adapted to the Viagra, and the drug won’t work any more.  And he’ll die.
The knowledge of his shortened life makes our time with Darwin more precious.  And to make sure that they aren’t left out, we pay more attention to the other two dogs than we did before, too. In fact, the constant nearness of death makes us pay more attention to everything about life.
But it’s hard to stay glum about Darwin’s future when a twenty-five-pound fur ball jumps on your chest in the morning, gently placing a ball in your sleeping hand. You’re wasting the day! he yips. Toss the ball!
My son says Darwin has given him a gift. Darwin has taught my son that “Every day may be my last day.  But every day may be my best day.”
Don’t worry about tomorrow.  Just throw the ball!  

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September 2017
Darwin lasted six years longer than anybody expected, living a full and happy life. Finally, though, his body adapted to the medication and his great heart gave out.
But Darwin had one last lesson to teach us: how to die with dignity. So on a cold grey September evening, we said good-bye to our dear friend.
Godspeed, Darwin. We hope there are balls to chase, where ever you are.Darwin on Apex-4_edited-1

What Friends Do, Puppy Play

What Friends Do

We got Darwin, the pure bred, championship-quality Pembroke Welsh Corgi, as a freebie from our vet. Why? Darwin was born with an incurable heart problem that was supposed to kill him within his first few months. With a new medication, and great care from the vet, Darwin’s made it to six years old – far outliving all expectations.
For his first five years, Darwin shared the house with a chow-golden retriever mix. The bigger animal never really understood how to play with another dog.
So Darwin played with people, bringing us toys and teaching us games. For all that he had a heart problem, he was passionate about chasing a ball.
When the golden-chow died six months ago, we got a corgi-pit bull-cattle dog-Rottweiler puppy we named Tegan. Tegan is the most playful dog we’ve ever had. If you try to put on a sock, it is instantly a pull toy. If you give her a yogurt container, it provides hours of amusement. And all with a healthy puppy’s energy.
At first, Darwin didn’t know what to do with Tegen-the-whirling-fur-ball. He wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to have to deal with all that young energy.

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At first, Darwin wasn’t sure he wanted to play with Tegan.

But one day about a month after we got the puppy, Darwin came out of his dog cave, looked at Tegan and gave a high-pitched growl. Tegan tentatively play-bowed and raised her paws to him. Darwin responded by yipping and running. Tegan chased him. Game on!Puppy Play
Since those first days, their games have changed. They play tug of war over a favorite pull toy. They chase each other. When Darwin comes downstairs after his afternoon nap, Tegan pesters him mercilessly, play-bowing and groveling flat on the floor – then mouthing Darwin’s feet until they are wet with slobber. She’ll grab a mouthful of the fur on his butt, and yank, pulling him off balance.

 

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Tegan biting Darwin’s butt.

She’ll swing her hips around and slam him with her rear end.

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Tegan gives Darwin a hip bump while playing.

 

After Darwin wakes up a little, he responds in kind, biting Tegan’s cheeks and mouthing her muzzle.

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Darwin will grab Tegan’s cheeks.

If you don’t keep reminding yourself that either dog could leave at any time, you’d be worried by the intensity of their play.

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But they keep coming back for more.

Darwin’s condition began to decline just before we got Tegan. While Tegan was just a few months old, Darwin was able to hold his own against her playful assaults. But by New Year, he was having a lot of trouble. He now pants constantly, and his chest heaves as he tries to suck in enough air to keep his body going.
I took him to the vet, who took an ultrasound of his heart. While a normal heart compresses about a third of the way down each time it beats, Darwin’s heart collapses completely. The vet said, “I don’t see why this dog is alive, let alone walking.” I didn’t tell her that every evening involves a twenty minute play session with an active puppy.
That night, Darwin and Tegan played as hard as ever. But I noticed something remarkable. Tegan, at four months old, was handicapping her play — when she got too excited, she’d redirect her energy to calm things down. In the middle of wrestling with Darwin, she’d turn aside and bite the table or chair legs, or more recently, my legs. Not hard, which is remarkable given the frenzied nature of the play, but with enough pressure so I knew she could do real damage if she lost control for a moment. These redirected bites clued me in to how much Tegan the puppy is holding herself in check so she didn’t hurt her sick friend.

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Tegan handicaps herself by getting lower than Darwin.

Once I noticed her redirection, I could see more examples of restraint. When she gets too aggressive, she rolls on her back, or when she pulls the rope toy away from Darwin, she brings it back and offers it to him.

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Tegan gives Darwin the toy so they can play some more.

 

Today, while we were playing fetch, Tegan let the dying dog get the ball, or if she happened to get to it first, she’d drop it in front of him to keep Darwin in the game.
After all, isn’t that what friends do?

What went into this mutt?

We’ve been having a lot of fun with Tegan, the new puppy. We play with her constantly. And between ourselves, we try to guess what breeds of dogs her parents were.

She is long and low. The gene for short-leggedness in dogs is their version of dwarfism. It is found in only a few breeds, yet oddly, it is the dominant gene.

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Viva the Great Dane plays with Tegan. You can really see how short Tegan’s legs are here.

Long and low breeds: dachshund, either Cardigan or Pembroke Welsh corgi, Swedish valhund, basset hound.

 

Her coat is black, with “pumpkin seeds” above her eyes.

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I’ve always heard the orange marks above her eyes called “pumpkin seeds”, but the American Kennel Club seems to call them “kiss marks”.

Black dogs with pumpkin seeds: Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers.

But her muzzle and paws are speckled, brindled or “merled”.

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The speckles on her paws are called “merle” or “brindle”. Not many dogs have merling or brindling.

Dogs that are brindled or merled: Greyhounds, pit bulls, boxers, dachsund, Cardigan Welsh corgi, Australian shepherds, cattle dogs, collies, including border collies. The gene for merling is incompletely dominant, which means it is dominant except when it’s not. Helpful? Not so much for me, either.

She has no undercoat — soft fine hairs that provide insulation.

Dogs without an undercoat: greyhounds, pit bulls, Doberman pinshers, Rottweilers.

Her coat is stiff and wavy.

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Every zig-zag in her coat is a natural wave in her fur. When you run your hand over them, they are hard ridges.

Rottweilers, Chesapeake Bay retrievers.

Her paws occasionally point out.

Dogs with bow-legs, or “knuckled-over”: bassets, pit bulls (this is a flaw in either breed that can become severe). Hers isn’t bad, and we hope she’ll eventually outgrow it.

Her ears are thin and erect…

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Coconut courtesy of the State of Florida.

Erect ears: lots of dogs have erect ears, but for our purposes I’ll limit the choices to others we’ve talked about — corgis, cattle dogs, border collies.

Rottweilers and Doberman pinscher ears are actually droopy — when you see these dogs with erect ears, it’s because they’ve been cropped so they stand upright.

…except when her ears curl back, which is called a “rose” ear.

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Tegan chewing on a coconut I brought back from Florida years ago. They ought to sell these as chew toys.

Ears that curl back: greyhounds, pit bulls.

She is the friendliest, cuddliest dog I’ve ever had.

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Tegan when she was very young, cuddling with Darwin. He is not a naturally cuddly dog.

Cuddly dogs: Everybody has their favorites, but the breed that has been the most consistently cuddly for me has been pit bulls. Yes, pit bulls. The ones I have known have been crawl-in-you-lap-and-hug-you friendly.

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I’m sure I’ve missed some breed with these characteristics, but I think I got the main ones.

So what do you think? What breeds went into Tegan?

Puppy Play

We got a new puppy in November, and it has been a pleasure to watch her as she grows.

We named her Tegan, which is a Welsh term of endearment that means “number one girl”, “sweetie”, “honeybunch”.

She is a Mutt. Based on what she looks like and how she acts, her ancestry probably includes Pembroke Welsh corgi, Dobermann or Rottweiler, cattle dog, and pit bull but we really don’t know.

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Tegan at four months old. She loves to cuddle and play. And her tail never stops wagging.

We got Tegan when she was two months old. One of the biggest things that attracted us to her was that the first time we met her, she climbed right into our laps. I want to use her as a Pet Therapy dog, so this was a big plus.

When we brought her home, our corgi, Darwin, didn’t know what to do with her. It took him about a month to figure out that puppies can be fun.

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Tegan and Darwin playing together. It looks like they are fighting, but they were both free to leave at any time. Darwin was growling, but it was a high-pitched “puppy” growl.

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Tegan is mouthing Darwin’s muzzle. He is comfortable enough with it to be on his back.

Since Darwin accepted Tegan, they’ve been good buddies.

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Darwin lets Tegan join him on his favorite perch.

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Tegan is being very submissive here, no threat at all.

The red “octopus” is a favorite toy of both dogs.

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Her reward is to get to play with the favorite toy.

There are limits though. When Darwin has had enough, he retreats to his “man-cave”, which happens to be the bathroom. Tegan is not allowed in.

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Tegan waits for Darwin to come out and play.

Once Darwin has had a chance to be by himself for a while, he’ll be back out, ready to play.

 

 

 

Dogs and Raccoons Battle to 1-1 Draw

My dogs got me up at 3:00 this morning to tell me that the raccoon we have visiting the backyard was back. I stumbled downstairs in a waking-up-from-deep-sleep daze to let them out. I always turn the light on before I let them out, to give the raccoon fair warning that it is time to move on. But this time, when I flipped on the lights, there were four sets of eyes reflected back at me — a mama raccoon and three babies, or kits.
The lights were on, but the raccoons weren’t moving. The bird feeders were too much of an enticement. I banged on the window to tell them that we were here, and we were getting impatient. Mama raccoon finally began to amble over towards the fence. Her kits followed, darting here and there to investigate the yard as only curious youngsters can.
Finally, though, all four were perched on the top rail of the fence.  I knew that they would jump into the next yard as soon as I let the dogs out, so I opened the door.
The dogs raced out to defend their territory. To my horror and confusion, though, mama raccoon launched herself back into our yard. The kits followed. Now the backyard was seething with six snarling snapping animals. I watched, helpless to do anything.
My corgi, Darwin, was the first to throw in the towel. He came back inside, casting resentful looks over his shoulder. Mom! Those guys didn’t play nice! They hurt me!
As I shooed Dawin back inside, I discovered why mama raccoon had come back and started a fight: clinging to one of the screen doors around the sun room was a fourth kit. Mama came back to protect her young.
This information didn’t immediately help, but it crystallized for me what had to happen next — I needed to break up the fight and get my 12-year-old Chow-Golden Retriever mix, Kurama, under control so that I could drag her back inside. The problem, of course, remained how. There was no way that I was going anywhere near those flashing teeth. I had just decided to get the hose out when I heard a yelp from mama raccoon, and she shot back over the fence. I think she finally got hurt. I grabbed Kurama, who had been having a great time and didn’t want to stop playing with the raccoons, dragged her back inside, and closed the door. As soon as we were inside, the last kit shot over the fence to mama. The whole fight probably lasted two to three minutes.
I cleaned up the dogs, both of whom were covered in slobber, and Darwin had a cut on his muzzle. Then I went to bed.
This morning, I gave both dogs baths and took them to the vet. He said a number of interesting things.
First of all, Darwin’s cut was minimal and didn’t need stitches. He was far more concerned with Kurama, who like most elderly who over-do it, was really stiff and sore this morning. She hurt.
Next he said that I was very clever to wash the dogs. Not only did it minimize the transmission of any saliva-borne diseases and fleas, it allowed me to check them over for cuts better. Thankfully, there were none besides Darwin’s lip. He also said that washing out the wound with plain water or saline solution (he recommended contact-lens solution) is now considered the best way to deal with cuts. Back in the day, we had been told to disinfect with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, but they have discovered that those two liquids kill the white blood cells that flood the area around the cut, taking away a secondary line of defense. Saline doesn’t do that.
Other than recommending extra arthritis pain pills for Kurama, he didn’t do anything more. If the dogs hadn’t been up on their vaccinations, he would have vaccinated them for rabies and leptospirosis, a bacteria that is common in my neighborhood, although not necessarily everywhere in the Denver metro area. But they were good.
Finally, he said that the dogs had been lucky. Raccoons have teeth as long as a dog’s and as sharp as a cat’s. One small cut was nothing. He agreed with me that, although it sounded and looked terrible, the fight was mostly just a way to get the dogs to back off so the kit could rejoin it’s family.

As a precaution, we are now taking down our bird-feeders every night. This is a major undertaking, but we would really like to discourage the raccoons from making us a regular stop.