Well, on June 13, my new seven week old Golden Retriever puppy picked me and I brought him home. I have had dogs all my life and raised all of them from this tender age but had not done it for ten years. I felt like a rookie all over again. Like any new mother with her first baby, I felt overwhelmed with a litany of new responsibilities and adjustments I had not thought about – or forgotten about

I had formulated all these grand ideas about separate vaccinations for each disease, natural products to protect against fleas and ticks – no massive combo vaccines or Frontline for me.

Then reality set in.

It is almost impossible to obtain separate vaccines for the principle diseases a puppy can get – they are sold in 4,5, 6 vaccine combinations and all the vets around here use at least a combo of four – so I caved and accepted the four shot combo (parvo, distemper, canine hepititis and adenovirus-2 vaccine)  – no leptospirosis though. At least not for this year. And, of course, since no one knows when a puppy loses its mother’s immunity so when the vaccines kick in effectively, Spirit is being given these vaccines four times, three weeks apart until he hits 16 weeks, when it is generally assumed the vaccines will be certainly effective.

A month later, he will get his rabies vaccine – I wanted it done separately mainly to avoid the possibility of a reaction with too many vaccines at one time – and to assure, if he does happen to have a reaction to the rabies vaccine, it would not be confounded by all the other vaccines.

At the same time he gets the rabies vaccine, I will have blood titers run for the antibodies associated with the other four vaccines to assure they were indeed successful. I want to know he is, indeed, protected. Next year, instead of any re- vaccinations, I will run the blood titers again. If the numbers look good, there will be no more vaccinations until the titers indicate he needs them. After the first year or two of good titers (just to build up a data base for his blood antibodies), I will probably recheck the titers every 2-3 years and hopefully, he will never need another vaccination (other than the required-by-law rabies shot).

As to my resistence to Frontline, well, when Spirit began scratching himself every 5 minutes and getting scabs on his body from fleas and I tried spraying him with my newly purchased assortment of essential oils – mainly cedar oil based – and the scratching did not abate at all (although he smelled like a brand new cedar chest) – and the vet confirmed a flea infestation. Being the chemical engineer by training who I am, I caved and gave him a Frontline Plus treatment and started vacuuming my house and washing my bedding periodically.

Within a few days, the scratching stopped, the scabs healed up and here we are.

The vet helped convince me – Frontline has an excellent safety record according to her (everything I find on the internet, pro and con, is all anecdotal anyway); she argued it does not go into the blood stream but follows the fat containing cells at the base of hair folicules along the skin – and it does not merely repel fleas but kills them (and the FL Plus kills fleas at different stages of  development as well) and my own research indicated that, if you choose to use an insecticide on your dog, Frontline is the safest choice out there. And, it lasts for a month.

Not only does FL deal effectively with fleas, just as importantly, it will deal with ticks – and we have plenty of them around here too.

Does any of this prove FL has no adverse effects on my dog? No. But, I watched him driving himself crazy with scratching, thought about how I would like living like that and said to myself, I am not going to watch this happen and not do something THAT WORKS to relieve his misery.

If it were me, would I rather live a long life constantly itching or a shorter life free of it? Simple answer for me. And this assumes FL shortens life. We really don’t know that either.

So, while I am at peace with my choices, I am disappointed I had to resort to these measures. I was hoping to avoid them.

Life

.

Golden Retrievers average life expectancy is 10 years. I have known some that have lived 15 years while treated with FL while my four have lived 11, 10, 8 and 8 years – so, maybe it is just the genetics of the breed and the breeding lines more than anything else. No one knows.

So much for my elaborate plans to follow the natural path to pest control for my dog.

 

 

 
 
 And so Chili, my last Golden Retriever, did.
 
As each one who has chosen to be in my life has.
 
Hurts my heart each time they leave. 
 
Why do dogs live such short lives>
 
So we can learn the minutes of life can be counted though we don’t know how many we will have together … and maybe … learn something about making them count.
 
So, we might learn something about Appreciation and Gratitude and Love.
 
So, we might learn something about the meaning of life.
 
They do all this without saying a word.
 
Amazing.

No Form Communication

 

First, a brief excerpt from my soon to be published book, “Dianna’s Way”:

 The spectrum of knowledge a dog has is not congruent with our own, so we deem them less intelligent. Fundamentally, I absolutely know this is not true. Truth is, we have barely a clue about what they know.

I do know, while Dianna lived in the Present almost all of the time, and I am an occasional visitor, it was Chili’s default way of being in every moment. This creates a wisdom we simply do not understand, do not even realize we do not understand, and certainly have no way to language. It is wisdom living in the language of the unspeakable.

All of us who love dogs and live with them learn to communicate with them in our own ways.

What I have learned is that, of course, they figure out what a few of our words mean – certainly the commands words we use in training, and words that alert them to activities they particularly love to do (“want to go outside?”, “go for a ride”, “want to go for a walk?”) and probably a few more. For them, just sounds (all words really are anyway) they learn to associate the corresponding activity, which is all I think it is.

But, in order of most impact, I think a dog responds most strongly to touch, followed by hand movements, followed by the sounds we make (our words) in that order.

These are all what I will call form oriented communication – they rely on the usual senses all animals, including humans, depend on for input data.

However, I have come to believe the most important communication between humans and dogs – at least I will say, between me and my own dog – is what I can only call no form communication.

I have learned over the years – and became particularly sensitive to it during the intense grieving period I went through after my wife, Dianna, died – my dog knows exactly how I feel and responds to those feelings accordingly (some practical examples show up in the book) – and communicates back to me with feelings of his own.

While he is very finely tuned to my feelings, I admit, I am not as adept at sensing his – so, he is keenly conscious at levels I am only weakly conscious.

Of course, it is no news flash human to human interaction contains tons of no form communication happening all the time but most of us generally do not bring this level of communication to consciousness – though we certainly react to it anyway (we may not notice it at all – or call it a “gut feeling” if we do)

This suggests if I am willing to become more conscious, there is an opportunity to communicate with Spirit (my new dog) at a level he understands only too well. Herein lays the possibility of an extraordinary relationship between us – with him the teacher and me the student. Maybe if I can turn down my brain chatter a little and open my heart and body, I might learn something.

And, is there even more beyond this? Is there the possibility of a soul level communication too? I don’t know.

We will see what Spirit has to say about it.  🙂

As I am heading down the home stretch toward picking up my new Golden Retriever puppy, ran into a snag with the very reputable breeder I am buying him from.

We had originally agreed on my having first choice of males from the litter. Then, through a series of unexpected events not worth going into, I was suddenly “demoted” to seventh pick out of eight males.

At first, I was dumbstruck. This felt so unfair and unexpected although, to be honest, I had been feeling apprehension about it all for weeks without knowing why.  So, my gut was working just fine. As usual, it was my brain that was not listening.

After hearing this news, for two nights in a row I had some really nasty dreams involving dogs (dogs being hit by cars, dog fights, dogs trying to kill each other). In dreams, “dogs” in general usually have to do with male behavior, masculinity and, in this case, anger, aggression. Usually my dreams are pretty nice – Buddha dreams I like to call them-  and I have learned a ton from analyzing them over the years.

By the way, dreams are very important and remembering them (best to write them down before getting out of bed) is even more helpful – but even if we don’t remember them, we are still being educated every night in our dreams. For those of you who think dreams are not part of a valid reality and/or unimportant, the “reality” you are living in while reading this in is no less a dream – our waking state being just another dream. [Read my soon to be published book, “Dianna’s Way” where the practical use of dreams are illustrated in daily life.]

Anyway, I woke up from these nasty dreams wondering what the heck is going on with me. Since I know most dreams are simply various projections of myself, I suddenly realized I was really angry about this puppy situation.

Fortunately, simply the act of acknowledging my anger rather than suppressing it cleared the way for me not writing the nasty email to the breeder I wanted to write. I cooled off.

The next thing that came up for me was surrender (again, this is also an integral part to the book afore mentioned).

So, I did.

Surrender, I have learned is not an act of will nor can it be a mental decision. It is an act of faith and hinges on having trust in the universe. It is either easy to do or impossible, depending on the state of grace one is in (i.e., connected to Spirit or not).

What I realized was Spirit, my new dog, was coming to me, whether it was my first choice in the litter or the last. So, I put the matter into the hands of the All That Is (my second favorite word for God) If God was not dog spelled backwards, it would be my first. All That Is is really the most accurate description of God because it is bereft of all the social and religious bullshit the word God carries with it, thanks to centuries of religious distortion.

As a fall out from this shift in point of view, I also realized all this breeder wants is the best possible home she can find for her dogs and her sense of responsibility and devotion for them is unquestionable – why I admire her so much and keep going back to her – this will be my third GR she has bred.

So, I emailed the breeder, asking her to do whatever seemed fair to her after reviewing our process together to date. If that was picking first or last, it was going to work for me in some way my ego does not understand.

She replied I could choose from five males and would that work for me?

Certainly.

Everything is still a go.

 I got up this morning with a new thought about Spirit coming.

I will be picking him up when he is seven weeks old near the end of June.

The thought was that he will be my last dog.

A very simple thought uncluttered by emotion. Sort of like, oh, the sun has come up already ……  and more like something I know, not just something I think. Something obvious.

This feels like a shift within me.

When my last Golden Retriever,Chile, showed up, I wondered which one of us would leave this reality first. That was a first time thought for me too. Well, Chili suddenly left on June 23, 2011.  

Now, with this dog, it is different again. If my intuition is correct, there will be no other dog for me after Spirit. He will be my last partner along the trails, fields and woods we will explore together.

So what? one might say.

Nothing monumental and yet monumental at the same time. We all die. Nothing interesting about this. But, what might we do about the quality of our living? A much more interesting question.

The quality of our living is deeply affected by how conscious we are of the preciousness of life, by our capacity to be in a space of Appreciation.

If Spirit is to be my last dog, then he is offering me an opportunity to embrace the limited number of minutes we will have together more consciously and at a feeling level too. We may not know how many minutes there will be but we do know they can be counted – they are not infinite.

This insight changes everything.

 

God, this dog is talking to me already and he has not quite been born yet.

But, soon. 

 

 

Eric (youngest son) and Chili, grouse hunting in upper Michigan

Well, decided to cave on my original intention of trying to create my own limited vaccination protocol for my puppy, Spirit.

I wanted only parvo, distemper  and canine hepatitis done but am going to allow the standard 5 way vaccine to be used for Spirit, which also includes para influenza (would exclude this if I could but not a big deal because reactions to it are uncommon and not severe) and canine coronavirus (often referred to as a vaccine searching for a disease).

Why?

All the vets in my area use only the 5 way (or even more) and they would have to special order my preferred 3 way in a 25 dose package costing ~ $400+. Since I would need but a small portion of the order, basically the rest would be wasted.

 Of course, I will also have to do the rabies vaccine (will do this at 20 weeks of age to keep it 4 weeks away from all the other vaccinations completed at 16 weeks).

I  will also do the lepto vaccines annually unless Spirit reacts adversely to it, in which case I will forgo it permanently – but, as mentioned in a previous post, will not do the first lepto until next spring.

 What I am not giving in on is my plan to not vaccinate my dog again in his lifetime unless the periodic blood tests I will have done show antibody levels indicate he needs to be re- vaccinated.

End of story

For those of you with dogs, it is worth thinking about vaccinations.

Without impugning anyone – companies who produce the vaccines or the vets that administer them – it is worth thinking about what is best for your dog.

I will be getting a puppy soon, already named Spirit, so I am evaluating all this and want to share my conclusions with you.

To begin with, the way I look at it is Spirit is my dog, in my care and no one else will ever care as much about him as I will. Since he gets no say in the matter, it is up to me to figure it out and do what is best for him, us.

No doubt in my mind, he needs to be protected from the usual – parvo, distemper and rabies (by law) but what about the other vaccines and how often does he need any of them?

As for the unintended negative side effects of vaccines, Spirit isn’t talking – at least not until it is too late – not until after the vaccine has been given and he reacts to it – maybe acutely, visibly, maybe in some unknown chronic way I, at least, will never notice, maybe not at all.

So, what I am going to do is follow the advice given at the website given here. Makes sense to me:

http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/09/09/combination-shot-for-dogs/ 

This is a terrific website for pet owners, by the way!

So, I am going to seek a vet that will give Spirit just four vaccines: the parvo and distemper vaccines separately or at least those two together with no other vaccines combined with them. When he gets his booster for those two after 16 weeks of age (so he will be certainly past his mother’s immunity influence and the vaccines are sure to take) I will also add in the adenovirus-2 vaccine, not because he is likely to get this disease (has become rare in US due to widespread vaccination) but to prevent the disease from resurfacing for others in the future. Then, waiting until at least 20 weeks of age, give him his first rabies vaccine.

What about all the other vaccines?

For Spirit, I plan on giving none of the others except a vaccine for the bacterial disease called leptospirosis. I struggled with this one because adverse reactions are more common, especially in small dogs and puppies, it is often unnecessary, does not last long (because it is preventing a bacterial infection not a viral one), and it protects against some strains of the bacteria but not others.  

On the other hand, this bacteria is transmitted via soil and water contaminated by urine of typical wild animals like rodents, etc. Hmmmm.

I talked with the world expert reseacher on this disease at Michigan State University, Carole Bolin, who highly recommends doing it. She pointed out there are safer, more effective lepto vaccines available now so the liklihood of adverse reactions is much less and their effectiveness has increased. However, they still last only 6-12 months so must be given annually.

I lean toward doing it because I live in the country, sprinkled with swamps, streams, ponds and my golden retriever (a water loving dog) is, no doubt, going to want to lay in every single one of them and drink out of a lot of them – and we live in an area populated with tons of raccoons, possums, muskrats, etc. so he is going to be much more at risk than, say, a house or city dog. So, after much hand wringing (because this vaccine has more negative reactions than most), I have decided to do this one each spring

However, I am also not going to give him the first one until spring, 2013 since I am not getting this puppy till almost July, 2012, will be training him mostly around home for the first few months anyway. This will give him time to get bigger, better able to handle the vaccine, hopefully. I will definitely have it given to him as a separate vaccine – both to reduce the potential for side effects and to be able to discern such effects if they occur. And, if he does react very negatively, I will just not do them anymore and chance it.

Down the road, once I have proven Spirit has good immunity to parvo, distemper and adenovirious with blood titers, which I will do in spring, 2013, I will likely never vaccinate him for these diseases again but simply check his immunity with blood tests every 3 years or so.

So, this is my game plan.

Wonder if I can find a vet who will cooperate with it?

Next step: interview local vets to see if I can find one on the same page.

Summer not far from home

I am in the end phase of my life now where “the getting” – and even the “doing” of life is waning. More money or more stuff or even more love is all good but these concerns are no longer the focus of my days and nights. 

I have enough. Enough money, enough stuff and even enough love (though love is not a thing one “acquires”). When it comes to love, I do have plenty to give.

And, here comes Spirit!  Just in time!

As for love, we cannot “get” love. Perhaps we cannot “give” it either. Most concisely, I think Love is tightly related to “being”.That is, we can only be love ….. Love is an awareness, a space to be in.

This seems obtuse I suppose but, consider. To genuinely love another being (not “in love” with a projection of what we have decided they are), we must actually be present to them – that is, we “get” the way they are, not the way we wish they were.

Even deeper than this, the peak experience of love is to experience being one with another – the romantic version of this is being with one’s soul mate. But, truth is, a soul mate is simply someone who we find it easiest to be present to, to feel one with.

Of course, if we were fully awake, we would be one with everything – each person we meet, even those we don’t, the trees and stars and the blades of grass under our feet and ……

Well, it is easier to do with someone we feel strongly connected to  – the reason, I believe, this reality comes equipped with male female dualism, , sexual drives, children developed, then born right out of mother’s bodies – so amazing – and all of that.

Fun eh?

Also, has taken me a while to notice love is not a feeling either. Some days I feel love – and loved – and some days I don’t.  Some days I may feel love for someone but some days I don’t  – so, I try to make it up or act like I do feel it. What is this about?

Well, here we go again.

I believe It is about being in the Present (not thinking about past or future – or focused on thinking at all). If I am present to other, love simply, naturally shows up. Love fills the space, fills me up (unless they happen to be a sadistic serial killer – then, I would need the advanced course on being Jesus Christ or the Buddha). Sometimes we are present to another but, mostly we aren’t, so, unlike the romantic phase (when it is new), the bloom comes off the rose. Just the way it is until we, ourselves, are some other way – until we have developed our capacity for being present.

Dogs can help with this.

I have lived with dogs all my life. Everyone who has raves about their unconditional love, man’s best friend, all that (me too) and, it turns out, we have good reason to rave. It is no accident dog is god spelled backwards. In an important way, they can be our teachers.

They naturally know something we don’t.

Dogs know all about being present.

They may not know it intellectually and they certainly cannot write about it – or even talk about it – that is, they cannot language it in our language. So we think they don’t know.

But, they know …….. in the way they know such things.

We have trouble with this because we live mostly in our heads, which separates us from the present, where love lives as an experience. I talk about this in my book, Dianna’s Way (not due out till maybe June so no use looking for it yet)

Dogs are almost always being in the present moment (they can slip out of it too though – expressing fear, aggression, or anxiety, when they are reminded of past pain event or  maybe apprehensive about a feared future).

If we understood their language, we would know they know it. I do not know this because I understand their language – I might stumble into bits of it here and there – but, I know it intuitively ……….. which maybe is part of their language.

Hmmmmmmm.

Am in the throes of preparing for the new addition to my family of one. Spirit, a Golden Retriever will show up in this world in early May and I will be picking him up sometime in late June.

Some of the things I have been resolving:

 

  • When to take the puppy?  I will be picking up Spirit when he is 7-8 weeks old.

Lots of confusing debate about this and finally figured out why. It is perfectly fine to remove a puppy from its mother and litter when it is between 7-8 weeks old and also after 10 weeks old – but not between 8-10 weeks, which turns out to be a period of particular sensitivity for the puppy – when they should not be traumatized by separation. My sources for this are http://dparksdachs.com/id17.html and http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/DevelopmentalStages.html  so you can check it out for yourself.

  • Crate or no crate? Decision made: no crate.

Have never used them religiously, tried them once or twice   and, for older dogs, never saw the point of them. But I am going to have to leave this young dog home at times before he is fully housebroken or maybe before I can fully trust him (running errands during hot weather is the main one) – will he poop on the white rug or chew the legs off the dining room table or ……… But, decided I can block off the ceramic tiled bathroom floor with a cardboard box on its side and a blanket in it for him to hide in when he wants – and a dog pillow too. Better than a crate, which, once the dog is grown and reliable, is way too confining when I can give him the entire house to wander and wonder in. Saves the money and the space for a crate too.

Blog #3 – march 10,2012

 

How soon we forget

 

I was jogging my memory about what to do to prepare for and start out life with a puppy – I basically know what to do but has been ten years since I had one and even this old dog might learn a few tricks – and found this – ah yes, if memory serves me………

 

How to Prepare for a Puppy

Pour cold apple juice on the carpet in several places and walk around barefoot in the dark.

Wear a sock to work that has had the toes shredded by a blender.

Immediately upon waking, stand outside in the rain in the dark saying, “Be a good puppy, go potty now – hurry up – come on, let’s go!”

Cover all your best clothes with dog hair. Dark clothes must use light hair; light clothes must use dark.

Float some hair in your first cup of coffee in the morning.

Also put some hair in everything that you cook! And in the pots and pans in your cupboards!

Run out in the snow/rain in your bare feet to close the gate.

Tip over a basket of clean laundry, scatter clothing all over the floor.

Leave your underwear on the living room floor because that’s where the puppy will drag it anyway… especially when company is coming.

Jump out of your chair shortly before the end of your favorite TV program and run to the door shouting “No, No! DO THAT OUTSIDE!” Miss the end of the program.

Put chocolate pudding on the carpet in the morning; don’t try to clean it up until you get home from work in the evening.

Gouge the leg of the dining room table several times with a screwdriver… it’s going to get chewed on anyway.

Have a backhoe come in and dig random giant holes in your yard. Then go out in the early am and step in a few. Try not to break anything.

Take a warm and cuddly blanket out of the dryer and immediately wrap it around yourself. This is the feeling you will get when your puppy falls asleep on your lap.

🙂

– Author Unknown