Follow by Email

Thursday, November 20, 2014

From Puppy to Self Proclaimed Adult Dog

Approximately 4 months ago I received a call from a new client that was getting a new puppy.  I always love to watch my animal clients grow up and be a part of their "beginning."  There really is a true bond when that happens. So I go to meet this puppy and immediately fell in love.

 Leo grew up so fast!  He is a Wheaten/Collie Mix, so every week he would change colors and grow.  My first time staying with him overnight he was a teething maniac!  He would chew on EVERYTHING and pounce on me like a cat!



 The older he got, the more endearing he became.  His puppy personality was still there, but he was starting to think and make decisions and grow delicious chin whiskers!!  He was no longer in a crate, but gated off in the kitchen.  He was just getting taller and taller and I wondered why he stayed behind the gate so well.


  The last time I stayed
overnight with him (which was last week) he look it upon himself to declare adulthood and get out of the kitchen when I left. He jumped the gate (So I thought) and would greet me from the couch.  He would not stay put!  His owners have tried 2 more methods of gating (very creative)  He managed to escape both numerous times and I would swear that he grew wings and flew.  You cannot keep a determined dog contained :)
He has grown into an amazing dog who is funny, loves to hug, and has an ability to escape rooms like Houdini himself.  :)
 








Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Poop War #23

I write about poop a lot. I know I do, but it is a major part of my day and it also seems to cause the most stress.  I have touched upon the issues of the lack of trashcans, businesses having a trashcan and then trying to tell you what trash you are allowed to put in it, and the ever popular fight of "Walk your dog on the street and use the trees! NO! Don't let them go on the trees, go to a park!  No, get them out of the part, kids play here!"

Today was a whole different story!  Let's actually go back about 2 months to when I was walking a dog past the section 8 housing at around 9am.  There are large grassy patches there and this particular dog likes the grass.  From behind me I hear a lady yell, "I HOPE you ain't bringing your dog here to SHIT!"   My reply was honest.  I said, "Noooo.... not specifically, but if she does I'm picking it up."  We then got into a discussion about how people are assholes and don't pick up after dogs, etc.  I told her very clearly that I will absolutely pick up after any dog I walk 100% of the time so she didn't have to worry if she saw me.  That was good enough for her and we went our separate ways.  There was some other babbling about how these are peoples houses, kids play right here (they don't, I have been walking past that corner daily for the better part of a decade), just use the side grass, etc.

Today, I was walking a dog nearing the same corner when the dog went up to the tree (across the sidewalk from the house) and squatted to pee.  From behind me I hear a SHRILL voice screaming , "Don't you bring your fucking dog over here to shit!!!!"  I whipped me head around in disbelief and said, "Whoa!!  First of all, she didn't shit as you can see.  Secondly, if she DID shit, I would pick it up.  Lastly, this it NOT your property.  This is a tree on the sidewalk and it is city property!" She said, "Yeah, it's PHA (Philadelphia Housing Authority) property!!!! " I told her that we had had this conversation before and I told her that I pick up after my dogs,  She said no, that was with her neighbor.  She told me to walk my dogs around my house, stay off that street, go somewhere else.... Wouldn't let me get a word in, wouldn't calmly talk to me - just came out of her door and verbally attacked me.  I yelled back of course because that is just who I am, but I chose my words carefully.  I didn't call her a bitch (she called me one) and I didn't drop an F -bomb (she did) because I was trying to maintain some level of respect (as she was about 60 yrs old).  The worst I could come up with in the heat of the moment was "Bite Me!!" Which only caused the reply of, "Yeah, bite cha ass bitch!"

The issue is over for right now, but this whole ordeal leaves me questioning people in this city yet again.  First of all, I know a few people who live in the section 8 housing in that development.  The people I know are wonderful and have no problem with me.  It seems that every block has their crazy representative though.  Up the street there was someone that didn't want us to park in front of her house because we were white and "Black people need to park too!"  Section 8 is low cost housing.  They can live there with a huge amount of assistance.

Funding
How do we pay our bills?
The Philadelphia Housing Authority has a $371 million annual budget that comes from several sources. (Our fiscal year runs from April 1 through March 31.)
We receive most of our funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
A small part of our budget - $1.5 million in state and federal money - comes in the form of grants. These grants are used for programs such as the Summer Food program.
PHA received $126.9 million in stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to improve and expand affordable housing throughout the city.
We bill $24 million in rents to our residents.

This also means that the housing authority covers outside maintenance (they mow grass, plant trees and bushes, clean trash, etc)  The parking lots, sidewalks, and grassy areas are COVERED in trash and empty drug bags, but THAT's ok for the kids to play in??  I walk a dog that pees on a tree not even touching your property and you yell at me like I threw dog shit on your front step!?
Bottom line is once again, I am doing my job and abiding by the law.  I get dirty looks wherever I walk a dog, whether it is in a park or on the street.  Nothing is right, yet there are thousands of dogs in the city.  People need to get off their high horse trying to boss everyone around and just accept that this is how it is.  
                             Dogs have to go somewhere outside. Deal with it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Morning strangeness.....

I have been doing overnights for 10 days thus far, and each day I am up between 6-7 am.  We go out for a walk, eat breakfast, and then I head home to shower and get my schedule together.  Yesterday my mornings took an odd turn.  I was walking home from my overnight around 7:30am and passed by an older man on one of the side streets.  He stopped and said, "Hey pussycat".  I stopped and smirked for a minute because my dad called me that when I was little.  He was amused that I stopped and reiterated, "You are.."  It went from amusing to creepy real fast. Maybe it was because the night before I watched a lifetime movie about online predators of young girls and it portrayed all older men to be scumbag pedofiles. I had flashbacks to the movie where they would bait these men with cops pretending to be 14 years old.  They would give them a hat, braid their hair and give them a backpack.  I happen to have been wearing a backpack...

Anyway, I went home, got myself together, then took the bus to Old City.  I was going to walk back and feed cats along the way.  I get from 3rd and Market to 2nd and Chestnut where an Indian mother stops me and asks me if I have a phone.  Her long winded story was that her son was across the street at the passport place and had a 9am appointment.  It was then 9:30 and the car was parked slightly far from the curb, but she didn't have the keys.  He had the keys.  And she thought the police were going to come and take the car.  She dictated (more or less) while I texted this guy in the passport office.  She went on and on about irresponsible kids, the car, etc.  I sent about 4 texts because she was frantic.  About an hour later he sent me one back to thank me for everything.

I kept heading south to cats, the bank, and then the next cat.  This is a house that is the last one down an alley.  I get to the door and there is a huge spider on the knob!  He won't move.  I was there for 15 minutes trying to get closer and he just kept going from the knob to the deadbolt and back.


I finally gave up and decided to go back later and as I walked out of the gate, I see a UPS truck turn down the next street.  The driver is a good friend of mine and I know that he deals with spiders at his house all the time!  I run over and ask him if he can move the spider so I could get into the house.  After laughing and mocking, he agrees.  We walk over, he pokes him, the thing jumps in his hand and he walks down the alley with it.  My hero!  And yes, I was mocked by a spider AND a human within an hour.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Oh, she bites :(

I had to do something this afternoon that I never had to do before.  I had to turn down a dog due to aggression.  The owner adopted this beautiful (60+ lb) Shepherd mix a month ago from the SPCA.  Since then, her new fur kid has been extremely protective of her and the apartment.  She did warn me about this ahead of time, so we decided to start the meet and greet outside and go for a walk.  She took treats, let me walk her, let me pet her, did her business, and seemed pretty relaxed.  We then went up to her apartment where she snapped at me once, and then again when I tried to touch her toy.  The second time was a bit worse.  I had to be honest and tell her that I was extremely apprehensive about walking the dog on my own, and of course she understood.  We discussed training, behavior issues, options, etc.  It's tough because I really like them, but can't put my limbs at risk.  The owner understands of course, but it is just a crappy situation for all parties to be in.  The dog has aggression issues, the owner can't have people in her apartment, and the potential walker is scared of the dog. I don't claim to be a behaviorist by any means, although I have learned some things along the way.  I hope that everything works out for the best....

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Politics of Poop

I know that dog owners are all on same page about this.  The subject is poop.  I have literally discussed poop on a daily basis for probably the past 10 years.  It is a gross, but valid subject for dog owners as well as walkers.

Basically in the city you have a few options for dogs to do their business.  They can go on or around trees in the street, parks, dog parks, empty lots, or on the sidewalk.  Very few dogs will go on the sidewalk, so I usually leave that out.  If you take your dog to a regular park, you get dirty looks from those laying down in the grass.  You then avoid the people, and the kids, and pray that the dog goes in the designated spot away from people.  They then tell you that you should go to a dog park, but if you walk a dog aggressive dog that is impossible.  If you try to walk around the outskirts of a dog park, they don't want dogs there.  If you find some grassy area around new construction (not being used for anything), there are signs that it is "pet free." If you go by trees on the street, you get yelled at by the people who own the house behind the tree.  You can search for empty lots, but not only are they disappearing fast, they are full of garbage and broken glass.  Basically, our dogs are screwed because they aren't allowed anywhere!  Don't get me wrong, I do respect the flowers and signs asking you to keep your dogs out of private areas, but public parks?!  I consider them free game.

Let's say poop happens and you are carrying around a bag only to find that there are no trashcans.  You find one and there is a sign on it that says  "No dog waste".  You find another one and someone comes out of the store to tell you that you can't throw away dog poop in the trash!  They tell you to take it home.  I tell them that this isn't my dog, nor my home so I need a trash can.  I'm sorry, when did people get to dictate what trash goes in the trashcan??  This explains why people have stopped picking up after their dog OR they pick it up and then leave the bag of poop in the middle of the sidewalk.  Which is worse?  A poop covered city or smelly trash?

They don't make it easy, but we are figuring out ways to avoid the rules.  I feel bad sometimes, but I am in the business of making dogs happy.  They shall poop where they please and I shall pick it up.  :)




Sunday, April 6, 2014

If you brought a golden retriever over to the middle east, the war would stop.

My title seems deceiving, however I have a point.  This is a bit after the fact, but I needed time to cool down a bit.  I was dog sitting in a highrise for a golden retriever for 8 days.  That consisted of 3-4 walks a day on top of sleeping there.  That means that I was on and off the elevator and in the lobby a minimum of 24 times (much too early to do the math).  Over the past year, there has been a huge influx of people from the Middle East that have moved into this building.  In their culture, dogs are not respected or treated as pets.  During those 24 times, I learned how much people from the middle east fear dogs.  Well, I use the word fear but it could also be loathe.  They are considered "unclean".  Here is an article discussing such disdain if you are interested in reading it:

By: Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl

Islamic discourses on the nature, and function of dogs are representative of a range of tensions regarding the roles of history, mythology, rationality, and modernity in Islam. In fact, the debates surrounding the avowed impurity of dogs, and the lawfulness of possessing or living with these animals were one of the main issues symbolizing the challenging dynamic between the revealed religious law, and the state of creation or nature. In addition, certain aspects of these debates pertained to the power dynamics of patriarchy, and more generally, the construction of social attitudes towards marginal elements in society.

In a fashion similar to European medieval folklore, black dogs, in particular, were viewed ominously in the Islamic tradition.[1] According to one tradition attributed to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, black dogs are evil, or even devils, in animal form.[2] Although this report did reflect a part of pre-Islamic Arab mythology, it had a limited impact upon Islamic law. The vast majority of Muslim jurists considered this particular tradition to be falsely attributed to the Prophet, and therefore, apocryphal. Nevertheless, much of the Islamic discourse focused on a Prophetic report instructing that if a dog, regardless of the color, licks a container, the container must be washed seven times, with the sprinkling of dust[3] in one of the washings. Different versions of the same report specify that the container be washed once, three, or five times, or omit the reference to the sprinkling of dust. The essential point conveyed in these reports is that dogs are impure animals, or, at least, that their saliva is a contaminant that voids a Muslim’s ritual purity. Hostility to dogs, not just as a source of physical but moral impurity, are further expressed in Prophetic reports claiming that angels, as God’s agents of mercy and absolution, will not enter a home that has a dog,[4] or that the company of dogs voids a portion of a Muslim’s good deeds.[5] Cultural biases against dogs as a source of moral danger reach an extreme point in reports that claim that Prophet commanded Muslims not trade or deal in dogs,[6] and even to slaughter all dogs, except for those used in herding, farming, or hunting.[7]

These various anti-dogs reports expressed culturally engrained social anxieties about aspects of nature that were seen as threatening or unpredictable. In addition, discourses on dogs played a symbolic role in the attempts of pre-modern societies to explore the boundaries that differentiated human beings from animals. In that sense, the debates about dogs acted as a forum for negotiating not just the nature of dogs but also the nature of human beings. This is most apparent in traditions that create a symbolic nexus between marginalized elements in society, such as non-Muslims or women, and dogs. In some such traditions, it is claimed that the Prophet said that dogs, donkeys, women, and in some versions non-Muslims, if they pass in front of men in prayer, they will void or nullify that prayer.[8] Interestingly, early Muslim authorities, such as the Prophet’s wife Aisha, strongly protested this symbolic association between dogs and women because of its demeaning implications for women. As a result, most Muslim jurists ruled that this tradition is not authentic, and that the crossing of women in front of men does not negate their prayers.[9]

Despite the attribution to the Prophet of a large number of traditions hostile to dogs, for a variety of reasons, many pre-modern Muslim scholars challenged this orientation. The Qur’an, the divine book of Islam, does not condemn dogs as impure or evil. In addition, a large number of early reports, probably reflecting historical practice, contradicted the dog-hostile traditions. For instance, several reports indicated that the Prophet’s young cousins, and some of the companions owned puppies.[10] Other reports indicated that the Prophet prayed while a dog played in the vicinity.[11] In addition, there is considerable historical evidence that dogs roamed freely in Medina and even entered the Prophet’s mosque.[12] A particularly interesting tradition attributed to the Prophet asserted that a prostitute, and in some versions, a sinning man, secured their places in Heaven by saving the life of a dog dying of thirst in the desert.[13]

Most jurists rejected the traditions mandating the killing of dogs as fabrications because, they reasoned, such behavior would be wasteful of life. These jurists argued that there is a presumption prohibiting the destruction of nature, and mandating the honoring of all creation. Any part of creation or nature cannot be needlessly destroyed, and no life can be taken without compelling cause.[14] For the vast majority of jurists, since the consumption of dogs was strictly prohibited in Islam, there was no reason to slaughter dogs. Aside from the issue of killing dogs, Muslim jurists disagreed on the permissibility of owning dogs. A large number of jurists allowed the ownership of dogs for the purpose of serving human needs, such as herding, farming, hunting, or protection. They also prohibited the ownership of dogs for frivolous reasons, such as enjoying their appearance or out a desire to show off.[15] Some scholars rationalized this determination by arguing that dogs endanger the safety of neighbors and travelers.[16] For the majority of jurists, however, the pertinent issue was not whether it was lawful to own dogs, but the avowed impurity of dogs. The majority contended that the pivotal issue is whether the bodies and saliva of dogs are pure or not. If dogs are in fact impure then they cannot be owned unless there is a serious need for doing so.[17]

As to the issue of purity, the main point of contention was as to whether there is a rational basis for the command to wash a container if touched or licked by a dog.[18] The majority of jurists held that there is no rational basis for this command, and that dogs, like pigs, must be considered impure simply as a matter of deference to the religious text. A sizeable number of jurists, however, disagreed with this position. Jurists, particularly from the Maliki school of thought, argued that everything found in nature is presumed to be pure unless proven otherwise, either through experience or text.[19] Ruling that the traditions mentioned above are not of sufficient reliability or authenticity so as to overcome the presumption of purity, they argued that dogs are pure animals. Accordingly, they maintained that dogs do not void a Muslim’s prayer or ritual purity.[20] Other jurists argued that the command mandating that a vessel be washed a number of times was intended as a precautionary health measure. These jurists argued that the Prophet’s tradition on this issue was intended to apply only to dogs at risk of being infected by the rabies virus. Hence, if a dog is not a possible carrier of rabies, it is presumed to be pure.[21] A small number of jurists carried this logic further in arguing that rural dogs are pure, while urban dogs are impure because urban dogs often consume human garbage.[22] Another group of jurists argued that the purity of dogs turn on their domesticity—domestic dogs are considered pure because human beings feed and clean them, while dogs that live in the wild or on the streets of a city could be carriers of disease, and therefore, they are considered impure.[23] It is clear from the evolution of these discourses that as nature became more susceptible to rational understanding, complex and potentially dangerous creatures, such as dogs, became less threatening for Muslim jurists.

Aside from the legal discourses, dogs occupied an elusive position in Muslim culture. On the one hand, in Arabic literature dogs were often portrayed as a symbol of highly esteemed virtues such as self-sacrifice and loyalty. For example, Ibn Al-Marzuban wrote a fascinating treatise titled, The Book of the Superiority of Dogs Over Many of Those Who Wear Clothes, which contrasts the loyalty and faithfulness of dogs to the treachery and fickleness of human beings. Dogs were also widely used for protection, sheep herding, and hunting. On the other hand, dogs were often portrayed as an oppressive instrument in the hands of despotic and unjust rulers. Similar to the medieval European practice, in the pre-modern Middle East region, as an expression of contempt or deprecation, at times dogs were hung or buried with the corpses of dissidents or rebels.[24] Furthermore, in popular culture, unlike cats, dogs were considered filthy or impure animals that ought not share the living space of the pious or religiously observant. This cultural anti-dog prejudice survived into modern times, and as a result, the ownership of dogs continues to be socially frowned upon. In the contemporary Muslim world, dog ownership is common only among Bedouins, law enforcement, and the Westernized higher classes. As a matter of fact, it is rather striking that, to a very large extent, modern Muslims are unaware of the pre-modern juristic determinations that vindicated the purity of dogs. Nevertheless, this in itself is a measure of the ambiguous fortunes of the dynamics between Islamic law and nature in modernity. In the pre-modern age, Islamic law evolved in near proportion to the advances achieved in the human knowledge of nature. But as the institutions of Islamic law were deconstructed by European Colonialism, and with the rise of puritanical movements in contemporary Islam, Islamic jurisprudence has ceased to be a forum for creative thinking or dynamic interactions with the vastness of nature.


Even if you just skimmed it ,you get the picture.  Dogs are the enemy basically.  What baffles me is that these haters of dogs move into a dog friendly building and then either look at you with disgust in their face when you walk by with a dog or cower in fear OR slam themselves up against a wall when you get off the elevator and try to play a disappearing act.  It is not only stressful for me and the dog, but stressful for them!  I was refused entry on an elevator while standing with another lady and her dog by a man who just put his hands up and started yelling, "No! NO, no no no!" I had to deal with this on every walk and it got to a point where I snapped on 2 young guys at the front desk.  I can fully appreciate different cultures and what they accept as normal, but I say it once again.  YOU MOVED INTO A DOG FRIENDLY BUILDING! If you hate animals, then move into a building that doesn't allow animals!  I may not understand it, but I accept it.  The overly friendly golden retriever that I was taking care of did not understand it and seemed a bit put off.  The most heartwarming part of my stay was on the last day.  We were headed out for out afternoon walk when in the long hall we passed 2 girlfriends that obviously hadn't seen eachother in ages.  They ran to eachother and they were hugging and talking and just bound together in joyful embrace.  The dog literally stopped next to them and wouldn't move until they acknowledged him.  (awkward for me)  They were so happy they both hugged him and he just joined in with their rejoicing!  I got teary, I'm not gonna lie.  At that moment, I thought to myself, "This is the dog that people have feared for the past 8 days?  The dog that just wants to hug strangers who are so happy?"  It's a mad world...


Monday, March 31, 2014

Loose Dogs and Lost Mind

Today was one for the books!  Well, quite literally since I am blogging about it.  It started off very strange with some odd personal things that happened while out with a certain someone.  I will not say who or what, but I will say that certain events were VERY out of the ordinary.    

The first dog that I went to walk was a semi regular newish client. The dog is a total sweetie pie, but recently the owner and I had been texting about his behavior at daycare.  It seems that he was so high energy that he was getting aggressive with other dogs when they had had enough and he still wanted to play.  I hadn't seen him since this incident and didn't think anything of it. 

It was business as usual.  I got big hugs and smiles from his velvety face and we headed over to the park.  He did his business pretty quickly and then we just kept going around the grassy areas.  He met some construction guys, other dogs, squirrels, and then found the sticks.  He got SUPER excited with the sticks! There were zoomies and tossing of said sticks, and then he started to bite my ankles and my legs.  At first it was a small nip, and then he started chomping!  I thought he broke skin (he didn't) but I do have quite a bruised lump on my ankle.  I got him to stop and we kept on going.  We ran into a corgi who wanted to say hello so they played while on the leash for a bit.  Then he jerked and grabbed the plastic part of his retractable leash and took off with the leash in his mouth! He is big on me chasing him in his apartment, so I knew that he just thought this was a game.  No matter what I did, he would not listen or come to me.  It literally got to the point where I threw my bag down and starting chasing him.  I had the guy with the corgi, a walker with a pug, a lady with 2 shih tzus, and a lady with a min pin all helping me try to get him back.  My stomach was in my throat, thank God he stayed within the park.  It took about 15 minutes for all of us to get him to stand still for a minute.  I am so grateful for the help of these people, you have no idea!

When we FINALLY got him back, I stood and chatted with the other walker that was there for a little bit.  He started jumping up and biting me again!  I got frustrated and took him back in.  Poor thing had no idea he did anything wrong.  His problem seems to be that he has a trigger that overstimulates him in the blink of an eye and he doesn't know what to do with all of his energy!  It ends up in him getting aggressive.  He doesn't bark or growl or act angry at all - I was not in fear for my limbs being ripped off, but he does get very bitey.  He thinks it's a game.  We are all going to work with a trainer next week and try to get this kid on track, but this was not the way I wanted to start my list of dog walks.  He must earn my trust back.

Face of an angel - teeth of a beaver :)



He is my buddy, and I do love him - we just have work to do