Missing Miss Melie

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is, "Is it sad for you when the puppies leave?" The answer is a resounding "YES!" I do miss them so much, but it doesn't compare to the sadness of parting with a beloved and retiring breeding dog.

I knew when I started my breeding program that over time I wouldn't be able to keep all of my dogs. I mean, it wouldn't be fair to them or to me, and I could just see myself being one of those people that you see on the television news that has 80 dogs and says they love every one of them. Yea, right.

So the right thing to do is to let them go. Reluctantly. Sadly. But I know I have to do it, and I know they go to great homes where they forget all about me. Sad

That's a good thing! Really it is good for all of us (I tell myself). I know that my dogs go to loving homes to live out their lives in families where there may be no other dogs, or just one other dog. They deserve that, and that's what I want for them, no matter how sad it is for me at the time.

Even so, I worry about them being successful in their new homes, and I agonize over finding just the right ones for them. Quite often their forever families are already known to me years before they leave here.

Our sweet Amelia, or Miss Melie as we usually call her, recently found her forever family here in Austin. She now has two human brothers to play with, and she is living the high life.

We will always miss her. She was our class clown, our prankster and game player. You could practically see the gears working in her brain as she plotted against the other dogs and played little tricks on them. One of her favorites was placing a coveted bone close by, like across her front paws, and then pretending to be asleep. The other dogs obsessed over the bone, which was exactly what Amelia wanted…that scamp!

Another favorite game was "Catch me if you can! Come on….CATCH me!" I didn't like that one.

But most of all she loved to play "Whisper in My Ear", and her favorite thing for me to whisper was, "Are you my teddy bear?" She would sit perfectly still, not moving even a paw, while I whispered to her, and she seemed to delight in every word.

Yes, I will miss Miss Melie. Her new brothers whisper the teddy bear question to her now. I made sure they knew how important that was to her. I know that her new family loves her as much as we did, and that she will live out her life in the best place for her, delighting her new mom and brothers with her sweet spirit and mischievous ways. I know she will add as much to their lives as she did to ours. How could she not?

Here she is with her new bros:


Goodbye Miss Melie; we love and miss you!

What clean floor?

This is why my floor only stays clean about five minutes:


Twygg thinks clean floors are highly over-rated.

Don't anthropomorphize your canine!

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to non-human creatures and beings, phenomena, material states and objects or abstract concepts. It is a huge disservice to your dog to attribute your own feelings and emotions to him. Please don't do it!

For example, reaching down from above to pat your dog on the head could be perceived as a very scary thing by your dog. Now, probably all of us do that, don't we? But if you think about it, it makes sense that a huge creature (you, as viewed by your puppy) reaching down toward the puppy could be scary from the puppy's perspective. If not scary, then at least something that makes its heart race a little. So no wonder some dogs get excited and pee all over the place when that happens!

We as humans place a lot of emphasis on making eye contact. To your dog, direct eye contact is something to avoid. Dogs consider direct eye contact a challenge. It's really not fair for your dog for you to insist upon it. Respect your dog's hesitance to make eye contact, and understand where he is coming from. Who wants to constantly feel challenged or threatened?

Always try to take your puppy's viewpoint into consideration when it comes to your own actions. Soothing a puppy that is crying in her crate will teach her to cry in her crate. Same goes for a dog that is afraid of thunderstorms or of riding in the car. Indulging a puppy by letting it take over the house and do whatever it wants will lead to a puppy that "sasses" back, by growling.

Sometimes maybe we try too hard to make them fit into our world when what we should be doing is understanding theirs. A lot of the doggy behaviors that we don't like have a very understandable purpose in their world. Obviously you can't let your furkid run amuck, but try to understand that some things that we may consider bad manners or perplexing behavior have roots in survival instinct for the dogs with whom we choose to share our lives. Co-exisiting shouldn't be a one-sided denial of all things dog; there exists a happy medium where both man and canine may be fulfilled. For the sake of your dog's emotional health and development, please make an effort to find that middle ground!


Boy....or Girl?

The answer is simple! It doesn't matter!

I'm serious; it really doesn't!

Statistically, there are supposed to be an equal number of boy and girl puppies born in nature, however my experience is that the boys almost always outnumber the girls in my litters. Now that doesn't make sense in any species! I have tried and tried to figure out why that happens to me, but I haven't come up with a good reason. I keep thinking it is the timing of the mating, something I am feeding them, or who knows what. I've experimented with some things, but I just can't come up with anything that seems to change the outcome.

Invariably I have more requests for girls than boys, but I can tell you without a doubt that it truly should not matter. People often tell me that they think girls will be sweeter, or that they are afraid that boys will mark. The fact is that girls are not sweeter, and boys neutered early generally do not mark territory. They don't even realize they should have a territory to mark!

Your relationship with your dog has the potential to be one of the most rewarding and meaningful relationships of your life. Even in an "average" litter where there are an equal number of puppies of each gender, why rule out half the puppies before you ever get started?

Please consider the boy puppies! They deserve to be loved too! You will not be disappointed.

Boarding Kennel vs Puppy Sitter?

Dear Dixie, I need your wise advice about whether to board or not to board my dogs.  I have a friend who we pay to house and puppy sit.  She is very reliable and takes great care of Emma and Sully.  She stays here with them at night.  The only problem is that she works full time.  When we are gone she comes home once during the day to let them out.  They stay in my master bathroom which is a very large room (still with their litter box).  They are very content there and have lots of chew toys, kongs with peanut butter etc.  When they are alone we keep a toddler gate over the door which they could step over with no problem..  I just don't think it has occurred to them to try.  She tries not to leave them for more than 4 hours at a time.  On the other hand, we do have a great place to board them which has large rooms they can stay together in instead of kennels.  They also have a puppy play room where they play all day (supervised) with other dogs.  It is a very nice place and I trust the people who own the kennel.  It is owned and run by a veterinarian whose clinic is also in the buidling.So here is the question....when we leave for a long time (5 days) and it is during the week while my friend is working, do you think it is better to leave them in their home environment or board them in a place where they get lots of attention.  We don't leave often for more than 2 or 3 days, but I worry about them when it is 4 or 5 nights.  What is your take on this?  I appreciate your insight!!!  All is well here......hope you are doing great too!  Thanks for your advice!!!

This is an interesting dilemma! Would a dog be more comfortable in his home that he knows, that smells like his owners, where things are familiar? Or would he be better off in a more social setting while the family is away? I think we all too often project our own feelings onto our dogs. We think, "He looks sad", or "He must be lonely". Honestly I don't think dogs feel exactly the way we do, and in many cases we are mistaken when we make assumptions about their feelings. I have often heard that dogs don't really have a sense of time. It could be a day or a week, and they don't really realize the amount of time that has transpired.

That being said, dogs are social beings. Isn't that why we love them? I think for most dogs, particularly those that are used to an active lifestyle and are well-socialized, they would probably be happier for an extended time period in a boarding kennel that has doggie day care. Some of them have web cams, and you can watch your dog to see how he is doing in this setting.

An active environment would most likely be a better choice in this situation...worth a try at least. After all, a tired dog is a happy dog!