Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Time flies when you're having fun!

Well, it's certainly been a little while since I last posted on here! Things got busy with the fourth of July! We had such wonderful weather here, that to be inside doing anything was an absolute waste. BUT since the last post of mine, the missing boxer (the one that got taken in a stolen truck) has been found, and I believe this dog was alive! What a relief that must be for the owner. I know I would have been beside myself wondering how my dog was.

Actually, to be honest here, I feel like a lot has happened, but I feel that if I try to type all of it, I wont do any justice to all the things! Over the weekend of July 4th Levi learned to swim on his own! I know that swimming for dogs is a natural instinct, but Levi had NO desire to swim. He was fine just wondering into the water and beating at it with his paw. Well, over this weekend, he finally swam OF HIS OWN ACCORD! nobody carried him out and let him swim back in, he jumped in the water and swam! Now he likes water just like any other dog. This took a lot of work to do with him, but I am so glad that I did it! Now the little guy can really cool off in the summer, and get exercise without over heating! I also bought him a life jacket. For those of you out there laughing at me, I really do have his best interest at heart. The life jacket is more for when he is in the boat with us. It's easier to get him in and out of the boat, and if anything ever happened (heaven forbid!) I want to know that he will be able to be found before he drowned or something. I am not one of those people that tries hard to make my dog look like a sissy but I really do worry that something could happen and it's better to be prepared than not! :)

On another note, I have been taking Levi to agility classes for the past month or so. We finished one session and signed up for another. It is a lot of fun and a good chance to exercise obedience mixed with some fun for the dog! At our last class Levi was the veteran dog (nobody showed up or they hadn't been before, or in once case, a new dog came in place of an injured one). So we got to do our rounds off leash, and it just takes my breath away to watch these dogs perform. They will do anything to please their master. Furthermore, it always touches me when I look down into Levi's eyes while we are training and he just seems so ALIVE and energetic. This isn't for show, but for play, so we can really have a good amount of fun with it. I would recommend this for anyone that wants to do training with their dog, but no more obedience. It does require patience, but it is worth it!

Well, I appreciate your reading this, I am sorry it's so short (and late)! I hope you all are having a wonderful summer with your pets! :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Lovin'

The beautiful day put Levi in a great mood! He loves going for rides and hanging his head out the window. I see all sorts of dogs doing that this time of year and it's such a wonderful sign! Today we went into the pet store to buy some cat food, Levi's least favorite reason to go there. (to him if it's not about him what fun is it?) On our way out to the register Levi found the bones, so he helped himself to one. I always think it's adorable when he picks out his own toys/treats, so obviously I bought it for him (but he got it when I wanted him to have it). However, while we were at the pet store waiting in line, a lady saw Levi and said I really hope that guy finds his dog. Since there is a dog missing just a few towns over getting tons of spotlight I assumed that was the one she was referring. Sadly, there is news of another dog missing. The owner had left his truck at a gas pump, leaving his boxer inside, so he could go pay for the gas. When he came back outside, someone had hopped into his truck, with the dog still inside, and driven off. The truck has been located in Connecticut, but sadly, the dog was nowhere in sight. For me, I would be way more concerned with the dog than the vehicle. I mean, it would suck to have my car stolen, but at least I could buy a new one, I could never buy a new Levi. My heart hurts for the owner of this missing dog, I know I would be losing my mind thinking that my poor decision allowed my dog to be taken from me, possibly killed, at best, left somewhere unfamiliar and alone. For this family, and all others with a missing pet, I pray you are soon reunited with your beloved pet. When I was 4ish my family had our dog run away, and I remember standing out on our porch calling for our missing dog, to no avail. Hopefully I will hear more news on the dogs in my area that have gone missing, and the news will be that they are happily reunited!

Yesterday, while I was working, one of my members came up and we got talking about dogs. She went on to say how glad she was that I had my dog, and continued to talk about how happy hers made her. I have had this job for more than a year, and have been hardly able to really connect with this member, and now we have a common link! This truly reinforces my belief that dogs connect people, creating a common link. This is just one of many members that I can connect with through our pets. It's just wonderful how happy dogs can make their people, and how amazing it is that these animals become so much like a member of the family that they are spoiled as if they were literally one of the kids.

Well Levi is looking for his dinner (and his auntie to come home!). So I will go take care of the one thing that I can! Everyone please keep your pets close to you, and be grateful that you have them for another day and aren't out looking for them like some sad owners!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Always learning something new

As I begin writing this, it's not quite noon and the first not-complete-wash-out-rainy-day for 3ish days now, and we have learned something new! Yesterday, after my dad tuned up my once retired mountain bike, I decided to take a couple loops around our driveway with Levi. He was nervous, and that made me nervous. I know how to ride a bike, but not having done so for YEARS, I was still getting comfortable with it. Trying to ride with a puppy that isn't really sure of what the heck you are trying to make him do, occasionally running in front of you, only made me more nervous. So I decided that I would wait until I was wearing more appropriate clothes, and he would be on his gentle leader, affording me a little more control in a situation where I can't get much. So this morning, after being a bum on the couch for a bit, I decided to go outside, especially since the sun is finally peeking through the clouds, and give it another try. Oddly enough, Levi seemed to get the hang of it almost immediately, giving me the feeling that I wasn't going to get any scrapes and bruises from this venture. Now, I just need to get him used to the commands right and left, so when I turn he isn't blindsided by me on the bike and we will be all set!

Working with Levi for even the short time today, it just makes me wish more and more that I could take a few pages from his book! I have learned from him countless things, but the one that seems to always amaze me with him is his ability to get back up and try again. Levi doesn't care for swimming just yet, but he loves water, so when he did a nose-dive off a friend's dock, I was sure that would be the end of his water love affair. To my shock, he got on shore, shook off, and went back in the water to wade. Same thing with the bike, he was afraid of being around it, but decided that despite his fears he would cooperate, and from doing so, learned that it wasn't all that bad after all! I wish I had his ability to do this. Imagine if we all did what Levi does, and despite our fears, charged on. We could all probably learn that the thing we are so afraid of is kinda fun. Or at least we could learn that the big scary thing isn't so scary in the end. (You'll never see me do this with spiders though!) It just gets me every time that when something freaks Levi out he just endures it, and eventually he isn't scared at all. Another example of his puppy-bravery happened last weekend. My town does this little carnival thing every year, and at the end there is a fireworks display. I have planned to take Levi to this for months, simply because the experience in a crowd is great for him, and of course, the fireworks. Compared to some fourth-of-July displays, ours is a nice warm up. So as the fireworks began, Levi sat right at my feet and just stared ahead, watching the colors explode in the sky. People turned around and commented on how good he was behaving with such loud noise. Little did they know my little man was shaking like a leaf! He was determined not to show his fear though, and sat/stood right there, staring his fear down. In the end, he was fine. I was bursting with pride. His show told me that no matter the situation he will behave for me, regardless of his distaste of it. He didn't become a bucking bronco dog, not once trying to get out of my control to run. I love having him around, and I love being able to take him everywhere with me, knowing that I can trust him in any situation. Adding fourth-of-July fireworks and crowds to his list of accomplishments is coming up soon! And I know he will be just as good for me there as he was at the smaller community event.

Levi is a great protector, and a great friend, always knowing just what to do to make me smile. As young as he is, I truly do fear the day that his time comes, because in the short time that he has been with my family and I, he has left his mark on our hearts forever. I am always grateful that I have been given the means and opportunity to have such a wonderful dog as my companion. If people are wondering what sort of dog they want for their family, I always recommend boxers. However, there is the stipulation that to own one, you must have double the time available to get this high energy dog outside and exercised. Levi is gentle with kids, but still learned how to act towards their attention, since most could almost ride him like a horse! He loves people and I know without a shadow of doubt that if someone (like at that carnival) just came up to him and pats him, his first reaction would NEVER be to bite/harm them, with the exception that if the person were to be harming me or his other family members. It's just an unbelievably awesome feeling to own such a friendly, loving dog. While they are a HUGE responsibility and commitment, they are so worth it. Dogs, regardless of the breed, bring so much light into people's lives. As Levi gets a little older and loses some of his puppy hyper-excitement, I do hope to get him certified so that he can bring that bright little face into a hospital, and bring smiles to faces, while of course, getting scratched in that perfect spot!

For now, take your dog outside! Appreciate the personality they bring to you and your family, and spoil them rotten! <3

Friday, June 24, 2011

Defiance at it's finest

Like children, I think that puppies choose to be just as defiant. Maybe it's for attention, maybe it's just to show off, but I think that puppies go through the stages like "terrible two's" just at a different age. Levi, when he is feeling defiant, as shown in the above picture, will grab his leash and swing it around and run with it. He does this especially when we go outside and it's time to come back. It's mostly when he is feeling playful. He will pick up the end, so we can't step on it to catch him(smart boy!), and run away with it. Generally, he will just run circles around us. Occasionally we will get clever and run away from him and make him chase us. Sadly, he catches on to our trick so when we turn around to grab him he turns faster. It's a fun game, and to end it we all go inside where Levi is sure to follow.

I think that one thing that non-dog owners/dog-haters fail to understand is the unique bond that is formed between the dog and the human. This can be said for many animal-human relationships, but I think that dogs are the most expressive (at least of all the animals I have ever known). Most likely, anyone that has had or has a dog knows what I mean. Well, I should probably be more specific here..anyone that has owned/owns a dog that LOVED them and CARED for them, never neglecting and abusing them, this category of dog lovers is the one I am referring to. When I came home from work today, as with any day that I come home, Levi gets SO excited his whole body wiggles. I know it's definitely a boxer thing, that little butt shake they do, simply because they have no tail. It's the cutest thing ever, and no matter how bad my day has been at work the Levi wiggle never fails to but a smile on my face. Its such a simple, and innocent thing, and who can't be happy when they see that?

Levi is my first dog. My family has owned dogs before, but the dog was not any one person's dog, so while I love her, I have a different bond with her than with Levi. I am the one responsible for feeding/buying the food, shots, vet appointments, and training. Levi loves his whole family, and would likely give his life for any one of us, but when it comes down to it, he is my dog. This is not me being possessive, but he is my boy and what I mean is that I can almost tell what he is thinking and read his expressions. This may sound crazy, but I think that many people that do a lot with their dogs could say the same, or maybe it's just the wonderfully expressive face of the boxer that makes me think this :).

I never could have predicted when I picked Levi up as a puppy that it would be possible to love him as much as I do. The very thought of ANYTHING happening to him fills me with so much sadness, just as much as the thought of him being unhappy. Furthermore, making him happy (giving him a favorite toy or treat) makes me SO happy. I have spent plenty of money on training classes too, and I would spend it all again. We have a special bond, and the training has been so much fun for both of us! We have both learned a few new tricks, and made some new friends too :).

Having a dog is like entering a whole private club of itself, when I go places with Levi, someone ALMOST ALWAYS stops me and tells me about their boxer and comments on Levi's looks. In Maine, I see so few boxers around that it surprises me how many people come up to me and tell me they own/have owned one! It's so great to get the chance to compare notes and hear the stories of things their boxer does/did. Some I can relate to, some I can't, but either way it is quite fun!

On a different note, Levi demonstrated his guard dog behavior the other night in full bore! My family lives on a busy road, and across from a gas station. Levi will look out our screened door and occasionally bark at the people over there. Well, a few nights ago, he started barking again, only this time more riled up with a deeper growl underlying the bark. This is an unusual thing for Levi, and if anything it wont last long, but he kept going. It was just my mother and I were home alone and we were asking him what the heck he saw. We couldn't see anything. Then, a few seconds later we saw a person slowly walking past our driveway. The man was carrying something and just staring towards our house. It was a freaky experience but Levi did not leave the window until the man was long gone. It made us both feel very secure knowing that we had Levi on our side :)

Well have a great night, give your pet an extra scratch behind the ear tonight :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

From the beginning

It seems like it has been so long, but in all reality it has only been 9 months since I brought Levi, my boxer, home. If you have a dog, no matter what the breed, you can relate to the excitement and chaos of bringing home that puppy for the first time. When I got Levi he was just that, a puppy, 8 weeks old and as cute as a button! All I wanted to do was play with him all night long. The first thing we did when we got back into our town (his breeder was an hour and a half away!) was take him to our local pet store. As nervous as he was being away from his family, he was so brave. I had hoped he would pick out his own toy, but had no expectation that he actually would as such a young puppy. We perused the toy aisle a couple times, coming up with nothing that truly interested him. Then, on one of the endcaps he spotted the "skinnies" (no idea on the spelling). It has a squeaker in the head and the tail, and no stuffing in the rest of it. He waddled (as boxers do as puppies) over to it and grabbed it in his little mouth, telling me as clearly as possible that this was the toy he had chosen. This quickly grew into his love for all things that squeak. A squeaky toy can almost always get him way more excited than a simple treat. And the way he will prance around the house with it in his mouth squeaking away is precious...well once you get over the annoying sound. To this day, that is still the first and only toy he really goes for at the store.

The store was our first little hurdle. The next was the fact that it was freezing out, and raining. TONS of fun that was. Poor little guy wanted nothing to do with being outside, especially just to go "potty". There were times that I had to spend a half our or better standing in the pouring rain just waiting for him to decide that he was cold and wet enough and would just go to the bathroom and get it over with. It was frustrating, but well worth not having to pick up many messes inside! Along with this, we had decided that Levi would need to be crate trained because there would be times that nobody would be home, and for his safety and our houses safety it was ultimately the best option. I know that for some people this idea sound cruel, but if you think about the things a puppy can get into inside a house it was far safer for him! He caught on quick and soon hardly went to the bathroom in his crate. I was very impressed that a puppy so young learned so fast. Actually house breaking him was a little different, but I still feel like I was privileged in only having to pick up a few messes, far fewer than I had expected. My advice to anyone getting a puppy, stay patient and loving, and VERY consistent. Eventually you will get to know your new puppy and recognize some of the signs that means they are about to go to the bathroom. Even at 11 months old Levi has made some mistakes inside. Twice in the last couple months, mostly due to the fact that we forget he is still a puppy and don't let him out as much...being reminded too late that we need to keep a regular schedule for him still.

I digress, back to the beginning. That first night in a crate was rough for everyone. The poor little guy cried most of the night. The first idea was to keep him crated in our basement, the theory being that a mess down there wouldn't be so bad. I HATED this idea, but went with it just to prove my point. Finally, after night one, we moved him up to my room where he was much happier sleeping. This is where I think some people forget that puppies are like babies, only instead of waking you up in the middle of the night to be fed, they need to go out. I work part time, and go to school the other days, both before 8 AM. I remember being so tired because I had to get up and go outside so he could potty. At first this really frustrated me because I was SO tired, but soon these early outside visits got later and later, until eventually he was sleeping ALL night and waiting until I was up to go out. Our morning and evening routines are pretty much perfected now, so 99.9% of the time I don't have a mess to clean up anymore :).

I feel like I should have began this story long before now, because I think that the adventures of people and their dogs can be the most interesting stories out there. I know that Levi has gotten me out in so many more ways than I used to be before I had him! I hope to continue, with a few more stories of Levi's growing up adventures, and soon segway into what we do now! There isn't a day that goes by where there isn't something that Levi does that totally amazes me! I hope that you all have a terrific day and give your pet some love today <3