I have been a lover of all things on four legs since I can remember; in particular dogs rather than cats. The whole “dogs have masters, cats have staff” is something I have never been able to get over but I digress.
As a breeder of german shepherds in another life, a previous owner of 2 border collies and now seemingly the “father figure” of an English staffy named Kayzer, one thing has become very obvious.
Every breed of dog has its own set of characteristic and then more. We all know that german shepherds and border collies are working dogs. That if left to their own devices, they get destructive and anything around the house is fair game. The washing ripped from the clothes line, the gardens dug up and the holes created, big enough that a small child could be buried there and none the wiser!
Yes we know we need to walk them twice a day, interspersed with a game of chase the frisbee or tug of war for fun. Again I’m not sure if they are referring to me or the dog; oh of course it’s because they are so smart, right up near the top of the tree.
How to stop El Destructo
Do not think that leaving your dog in the backyard will be enough to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. It won’t and the collateral damage can be massive. Boredom is a big issue with smart animals. They need to be challenged as much as any young child or toddler.
Do not allow your dog to become a fussy eater
Not only will they refuse to eat “expensive dry dog food” (have you noticed the price?) but they will only look to eat the same food as you. Believe me when I say that I had a german shepherd that came from a chicken farm and would only eat BBQ CHICKEN! The solution is not only very easy but very quick. Make a point of just giving them 10 minutes to eat their dinner and then take it away. They will soon learn that the idea of grazing all day won’t cut it.
Kayzer my greatest Challenge
I must say that I thought I had dogs worked out until Kayzer came along. I got him free at 1 year of age and as I was driving away the previous owners told me that he will probably fret a little for a few days. No sooner had we turned the corner that he spent the next 80 miles trying to sit on my lap. What!
He is now 6 years of age and I love him dearly and fret when I am away from him for any length of time. Kayzer is everything they say about the breed; he is loyal, affectionate, fearless, obedient and bold. He as I speak, is sitting at my feet whilst I type and reminisce. However they also say that staffys are intelligent and that is where I beg to differ.
Staffys do have a tendency to put weight on and therefore love their exercise. Therefore I walk him twice a day, every day. As a result he has had a lead around his neck some 1800 times and yet every time I reach for it is like it’s his first. He runs around in circles barking at a high pitch like I would if I had won the lottery! Surely not the sign of an intelligent animal?
The phrase “me and my shadow” has never been so applicable here. Irrespective of where I go, he is always only one step behind, even patiently sitting outside the bathroom door whilst I am occupied.
Staffys need to be Included
Do not in your wildest dreams, do anything that doesn’t include your staffy. Moving furniture, washing your car or rigging up your new fishing rod, leave a space for them. I am certain that to not do so is a personal affront which you will soon notice. It will not be any form of aggression on their part but they will make you feel guilty with those sad eyes and body language.
So let me say it now that there is nothing I can get away with Kayzer. Whatever I eat, he also needs to have a taste. These include foods that I read are toxic to animals; chocolate, salty snack foods, onions and the like. As for the liquid side of things, I cannot drink a beer without significant barking. I have even tried to put beer in a soft drink can or plastic cup but that never works.
Before you report me to animal cruelty, let me say it is only a taste and he has never been sick because of it. I firmly believe that in Kayzer’s case it’s not all about the taste but more the fact that he needs to be included. That he is a member of our family in every way and I am not his owner or master but I am his father figure because there is no doubt that he believes he is not a dog!
However that’s ok as he brings so much joy and happiness to my life. There is not a day that goes by that he doesn’t make me smile. I am lucky that in my neibourhood, there are plenty of dog owning people who say hello when we pass on the street. I now feel sorry for people who are not animal lovers as I believe their lives are incomplete.
As I said at the very start of the article, I have been lucky enough to be the owner of three different breeds of dogs. They each had their own personalities and inherent breed characteristics. As owners, we all need to respect that and do our best to bring out the best in our pets.
The best way to finish this piece, is to simply quote from the rock band The Fauves whose most popular song is “dogs are the best people”.