May 30, 2007 Do dogs go to Heaven?

May 30, 2007

Do Dogs go to Heaven?

Losing a beloved pet is an unfortunate part of life. When our animals pass away it seems so soon, so unfair and why can’t they live longer? For many people, myself included, our pets are part of our family. I can’t imagine a house without my pets. When you lose a pet, that emptiness surrounds you and even though you are sure you will never want another one, when you least expect it sometimes, another pet finds you, and you start all over again.
It’s never easy losing a pet. Facing the thought of euthanasia is daunting to most people. The guilt of playing executioner looms over us. Yet, it is humane and kind and ends suffering. I recently had the honor; yes, it was an honor, to help a friend who just could not take her dog on that last trip to the vet. I took him and stayed with him until the end. He was held gently and loved. He was kissed and spoken to softly, and told how much his family and I loved him. He passed quietly and peacefully. I know the pain of losing pets, and I know how hard it is to make that final trip. It was an act of love for him and for my friend. I gave her a card with “The Rainbow Bridge” poem on it. Rainbow Bridge is a place pets go to wait for their owners when they pass away. When the owner passes away, they are reunited with their beloved pets so long from our memory but never long from our hearts and they cross the bridge together into Heaven.

Do pets go to Heaven? There is no definitive answer in the Bible to say for sure, that is really up to us to decide. This is what I choose to believe:
A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years.
He wondered where the road was leading them. After a while, they came to a high, white, stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.
When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like Mother of Pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.
He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"
"This is Heaven, sir," the man answered.
"Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked.
"Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up."
The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

"Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveler asked.
"I'm sorry sir, but we don't accept pets."
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog. After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road, which led through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed.
There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book. "Excuse me!" he called to the reader. "Do you have any water?"
"Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there." The man pointed to a place that couldn't be seen from outside the gate. "Come on in."
"How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to the dog.
"There should be a bowl by the pump." They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.
The traveler filled the bowl and took a long drink himself, and then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree waiting for them.
"What do you call this place?" the traveler asked. "This is Heaven," was the answer.
"Well, that's confusing,” the traveler said, "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too!"
"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's Hell."
"Well, doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?” the traveler asked.
"No. I can see how you might think so, but we're just happy that they screen out the folks who'll leave their best friends behind."
Author Unknown

May 16, 2007 Dog Walking 101

May 16, 2007

Dog Walking 101

While taking my son to 4H dog obedience this year which is his second year in it, I was quietly observing the kids in the class and noticing some things about how they handled their dogs. At the end of the class a little girl was struggling with her large chow mix dog that was dragging her all over the place. Her mother told me how softly she speaks and she doesn’t want to hurt the dog, yet I couldn’t help myself and just had to jump in and show her a few tricks to help make her a better handler.

I began by placing the dog’s choke collar very high on his neck directly under his jaw so she would have more control and the dog wouldn’t choke himself literally by pulling so hard on the chain across his trachea. Next I didn’t say a word to the dog; I did all my speaking through the leash. We walked around the ring, the instructor gave commands and I simply followed along not having any problem whatsoever with this dog. When I halted, he sat as he was supposed to do. He didn’t whine and whimper and carry on with me like he did with her. He didn’t drag me. I gave a little tug on the leash to encourage him to sit, stay, heel or down and he listened immediately.

The little girl’s mother was in awe. Then I gave the little girl the lead and showed her where to put her hands. As she was walking along, I saw her hands riding up higher next to her waist. I told her to relax her arm and only give him a tug to correct him if he pulls ahead, otherwise relax. She did as I told her and she was surprised to get the very same results that I did with her dog. Her dog quit making noise as well. This was a two minute lesson! The trick I told her was do not talk to the dog with your voice, but only through the leash. When she saw how he responded she instantly gained confidence and I gave her some other hints that I swear by such as you go in and out of doors first, the dog must sit and stay until you say “ok” and then he is to come out. That little bit of body language puts you in the leadership role in your dog’s eyes. Her dog wasn’t a disobedient dog; he just did not view the little girl as a leader so he didn’t respect her. After she gained a bit more confidence, her attitude changed, and so did her dogs! She thanked me as if a miracle happened before her eyes.

It was really nothing more than being assertive and demanding respect. Learning how to properly walk any dog will change their attitude and behavior at home immensely! I have groomed some really large and obnoxious dogs that outweigh me and can definitely out muscle me and ended up soaking in a hot tub that night and waking up very sore the next day. Recently I decided that the next time I have an unruly dog that we would be teaching walking 101 for dogs before I groom them to save my aging body. Well I had the pleasure of doing some training for some really big dogs lately and it was a huge success! Within five minutes of walking the dog decided, “Oh, so you are the leader I get it now”. When we got back from our walk the dog calmly walked into my shop, I was leading of course, and the groom went off without any fight at all. Suddenly the dog respected me and realized that I was the leader and they couldn’t lead me and they became so cooperative! I wish I had time to do that with all the dogs that I groom! I may institute this new rule with new clients or old clients with unruly dogs. It sure made my life easier and of course when the owner came to pick up their dog they got a mini lesson in dog walking 101 so they could get the same results. You may have heard Cesar Millan, “The Dog Whisperer” refer to learning the walk on his show. I can honestly say that the walk is the foundation of everything you teach your dog. Walking your dog is leadership and once your dog understands that you are the leader, the rest is easy. So now that the weather is nicer, get your dog out of the house and take him for a nice long walk, with him by your side and not ahead of you. Lock those flexi-leads into a fixed position so they can’t keep pulling on them. Make sure your dogs collar is up high on his neck just under his jaw and take off with your head held high, chest out, looking ahead, don’t watch the dog, just look ahead and your four-legged companion will soon turn into the best walking buddy you have ever had!

P.S. Don’t forget the baggies to clean up after him just in case . . . be a good neighbor and a good walker!

May 2, 2007 It's SPRINGTIME!

May 2, 2007


Yes it’s that wonderful time of year, the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, everything is green and beautiful and we have our lovely spring rains. Our dogs are eager to play outside and go after all the new little bunnies, squirrels, and other creatures and some dogs love to DIG in the ground for them!

Well this means only ONE thing; you open your door to a dirty, wet, smelly dog! Most people can manage to wipe off Fido’s paws as he comes in the door or towel him off after his romp in the wet grass. In extreme cases Fido may need a bath, no problem, pop him into the tub and scrub him down. Unfortunately if Fido has a longer coat you may then discover something you hadn’t notice before this bath; matted hair.

You dig out your grooming tools, find the dog brush and brush away but you notice that those matts are not coming out or you have managed to brush the entire top coat OVER the matts so they are now less noticeable. Hmmm, better call the groomer you say to yourself. You dial your groomer and you get her answering machine, so you leave her a message. She calls you back but you aren’t home so she leaves you a message to call her back. This scenario goes on for a few days. Meanwhile, Fido continues to go outside and play in the mud and comes back inside and after toweling him off you notice something else. Tiny little ticks embedded in Fido’s skin! Uh oh! Well what did you expect? It IS mushroom season in Indiana now.

You head for your vet and pick up some Frontline Plus for fleas and ticks, you figured it was so cold out last week you wouldn’t need it before now. Au contraire! Haven’t you learned yet that there is one thing you can count on in Indiana that is the weather changing all year long, balmy and sunny one day, rainy and cold the next, snowing the next day, 74 degrees the next. When you do your laundry you discover shorts and tanks, sweaters, coveralls, mittens, hats and bathing suits.

Your groomer finally manages to reach you but she’s booked up for the next month! Wow! You didn’t have that much trouble getting an appointment in the winter, why is she so busy now? Why? She is busy because it is spring and all the dogs are shedding their winter coats, getting filthy and hot! You asked to be put on her cancellation list just in case she gets some time to squeeze you in. So you apply your Frontline Plus to Fido and a week later the phone rings and it’s your groomer calling to tell you that she had a cancellation for TODAY and she can get you in. Whew! What a relief, Fido’s odor was really beginning to get to you and all that hair to wipe off day after day was wearing you out washing all those towels. You look outside and it’s raining. If you get Fido all cleaned up today he’ll just go outside and mess himself all up again. You briefly consider not taking that open appointment, but then look at poor Fido and his long matted hair and decide that it’s the best thing for him, besides can you stand him another 3 weeks?

Fido gets groomed, looks great, smells great, and now thanks to you getting Frontline Plus he has no more ticks. The moral of this story is, we live in Indiana. If there is anything consistent about Indiana it’s the weathers inconsistency. So what’s a person to do? My advice is this: stay on a schedule all year round for grooming appointments, flea and tick control, (yes even in the winter!) and heartworm medication then you won’t be caught off guard by the sudden emergence of long matted hair, fleas and ticks, and groomers who are too busy to squeeze you in. If you pretend it’s spring all year round you’ll always have a clean, parasite-free pet, and it’s really time to put your New Year’s resolution into effect about getting organized. Get out your calendar now, make your appointments, stock up on your pets’ flea and tick control, and take Fido for a walk in the woods and start looking for mushrooms!