About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Foxy and Mr. Vargas

(Our host for this week's Fun Monday is Swampy . Long time Fun Monday participants understand that, in Swampy's book, rules are made just to be broken. However, for the good children who must follow the rules, our assignment is to create an ABC listing of anything that interests us or may potentially amuse our readers. So, here's my ABC's for living with and loving dogs.)

I've looked at this photo of Foxy the loyal pit bull almost daily after reading about her and Mr. Vargas in the New York Times in March '07. You can read the full story at Foxy the Pit Bull . Briefly though, Foxy and Mr. Vargas were homeless and lived together on the streets of Hoboken, NJ. He rescued her from a life of abuse with another homeless man. She paid him back by giving him purpose, companionship, and love. Mr. Vargas cared more for Foxy than he did for himself. She got sweatshirts in the winter, an umbrella shelter from the rain, off leash runs at a dog park, and vet care.

I look at this photo to remind me of the great relationship we can have with our dogs if we're willing to put in the time and love. Our dogs never fail to do their part. In my adult life I've lived with a crazy border collie, a bossy chow mix, a golden retriever lump of sugar and a pit bull like Foxy. Based on my experiences with each of them, here's my ABC's for living with and loving dogs:

Affection -- part of the formula for a balanced dog, comes after Exercise and Discipline

Boundaries -- dogs, especially strong breeds, must be taught what they are allowed to do

Consistency -- there are no off days in being your dog's leader, they thrive on routine

Discipline -- NEVER by hitting or physically man-handling, but by calm assertive energy and tone

Exercise -- dogs of all breeds and sizes must have daily activity--a tired dog is a good dog

Followthrough -- relates to consistency, if you want a certain behavior you must make it happen

Good -- there are no "good" or "bad" dogs--only dogs that have, or have not, received leadership

Help -- read books, watch TV shows, attend classes to better understand and train your dog

Intelligent -- try not to get a dog smarter than you are--that includes border collies for most of us!

Jumping --on anyone is a show of excitement or dominance by your dog, not happiness--don't allow it

Kindness -- is different from indulgence. Kindness is keeping your dog balanced with exercise, discipline and affection. Indulgence leads to an anxious, demanding or aggressive dog.

Leadership -- is what your dog wants you show him --then he doesn't have to take on that responsibility. However, if you don't he will.

Males -- are not necessarily harder to train/lead

No -- is most effective when said in a low, firm voice--not a scream

Old -- our dog's life span is never as long as we would wish

Pets -- provide purpose, friendship and happiness for many of us

Quirky -- a good name for a border collie

Rescue --there are so many homeless and abused dogs who need us--do what you can to help

Sofa -- hopefully your decor allows dogs to share your living space--remember that they miss you and want to be around you whenever possible

Toenails -- regular trims can show your dog that you're in charge, not him

Ugly -- there's no such thing as an ugly dog

Volunteer -- help your local animal shelters or rescue groups--build up some dog karma

Walk -- the most primal bond that you can have with your dog--goes a long way in preventing a lot of behavior problems and establishes you as the leader. I like to use a shorter slip leash and keep Willie close by my side for most of the walk.

X factor -- we have the major influence in what kind of dog we'll get from a sweet puppy

Years -- a good dog never has enough years with us

Zzzzs -- dogs make great bedfellows, if you can get around the snoring and hogging of most of the bed space--they don't get the king bed concept.

There you have it--one person's ABC's of dog ownership. Now head on over to Swampy's for some more interesting lists.


Peter said...

Well done Faye, a different list to most.
Thanks for your support.

Lane said...

Mr Vargas said when he lost her 'I feel like I have a hole in my soul'.
What true words and what a story.

I agree with every letter from A to Z. I've never seen an ugly dog and the bed could be the size of a tennis court but they still want to sleep on you:-)

mjd said...

You have provided a fine list of guidelines for living with and caring for our dogs. (touching about Foxy and Mr. Vargas)

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

I very nearly did a doggy A to Z, but ran out of time this morning!

A very good list indeed Faye!

prunella farquar said...

P should stand for poop that the petowner steps in and ends up having to clean-up in the middle of the night!!!! (Sorry, we had an accident last night).
Great post. Gotta love anything dealing with doggies!

-Min (mamadrama--Prunellafarquar is a made-up Blogger person).

KAREN said...

What a great post!

Molly is a labrador/border collie cross, and LOVES her exercise. I have to say, I enjoy taking her out, even when it's snowy like today :o)

Swampwitch said...

Oh, you have just warmed my heart. As I was reading this wonderful ABC list, I was also listening to Bubba and June Bug snoring peacefully on my couch. Dog Lovers are a special BREED of people.
Unconditional Love is what they have and share.
Thanks for playing the game. Have a wonderful week.
Here's a Slurpy Doggy Smack for you.

ellen b. said...

Hi Faye,
Dogs can be loyal companions. You sound like a responsible pet owner! You were wondering about one of the flowers on my collage. It's a lenten rose...

Sayre said...

What a great list! Though I disagree with the dog on the furniture. Possibly because most of my dogs have been BIG. I prefer to have them on the floor and maintain contact with petting and stroking. They don't seem to mind...

lisa marie said...

Great list. I love dogs. Mine are mad at me right now because they went to the groomers. :) No such thing as an ugly dog? Have you seen the hairless ones? My mom has two, they are ugly. :)

Pamela said...

Every time I read a post like this I have pangs for another dog. I had a precious loving dog that I had to put down, and I've been not so eager to replace him.

But I sure love on the neighbors dogs and friends dogs.

Jan said...

Yes, I'm a dog lover, too. I can't imagine being with out one or two.

My Husband Calls Me Weird said...

Great list!!


gibnjen said...

Great list! You obviously know your dogs!!!

hulagirlatheart said...

I love this list! You are so right, there's no such thing as an ugly dog. And I love what you said about the king sized bed. Our schnauzer thinks he owns the whole thing, and he pretty much does.

Lil Mouse said...

love dogs! yeah!

ChrisB said...

That is a great way to tackle this week's topic. I love the picture~ and what a beautiful but sad story!

Baba's Blog .. Babies Are Special said...

Hi Faye, what a great list of ABC's on dogs for fun Monday...thanks for your visit to my place today...Our last dog was a female Yorkie who lived to be 17 years old.We loved her dearly..

IamwhoIam said...

Dog, best deal man ever made, for table scraps, you get endless love, loyalty, laughter, and friendship for life. Great story about Foxy, my own 9's have always been foundling. Thanks for sharing

Karina said...

Great list!!! Dogs are such great additions to a family.

SwampAngel65 said...

I love your list! Perfect, true and a good list to refer back to to remind me of a few things. Love it!

Jo Beaufoix said...

What a lovely story, and your list is fab.
And Posh didn't take her fish on Project Runway as it clashed with its massage apparently. ;)

Alison said...

wonderful list Faye and I agree 100% with everything. BTW - Baron is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Celeste said...

Awesome list! I especially love your lead-in picture.
Celeste (and her Wayward whippets).

Melanie said...

This is great list! What a touching story too about Foxy and Mr. Vargas.

Randy and Kim said...

Great post. To me there are no dogs... they're all just puppies needing lots and lots of love.
Nekked Lizards

kitten said...

Beautiful touching story and a great list!

Kaytabug said...

This was fun to read! I am a dog lover! But I have seen some ugly dogs. What a great list!!

Debs said...

I loved your list and agree with all of it. It's true that they never have enough years with you.

Jettie said...

OOHh I love yours what a truly touching story!!