What the…..?!? Mink oil dog shampoo.

6/22/12 Update: One one of my grooming forums, someone posted this information about mink oil alternatives. From Wikipedia:

“Mink oil is made from mink fat and originates from China. The fat that is made into this oil is stored just beneath the skin. Removed from pelts destined for the fur industry, the fat is rendered into mink oil.

Mink oil is a source of palmitoleic acid, which possesses physical properties similar to human sebum. Because of this, mink oil is used in several medical and cosmetic products. Mink oil is also used for treating/conditioning and preserving nearly all kinds of leather.

Botanical alternatives to mink oil as a source of palmitoleic acid include macadamia nut oil (Macadamia integrifolia) and sea buckthorn oil (Hippophae rhamnoides), both of which contain a larger percentage of palmitoleic acid (22 and 40% respectively) than does mink oil (17%).

‘Mink oil and its fatty acids are unique among animal-derived fats and oils. The total unsaturated fatty acids in mink oil account for more than 75% of the fatty acid content, but the oil, nevertheless, has a greater oxidative stability (resistance to rancidity)… than other animal or vegetable oils.'”

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I have a bee under my bonnet about something: The use of mink in products.

Saturday is the second tradeshow I have gone to where there is a company called “Touch of Mink” that is fairly pushy about their product (at least to me). They ask to take your hand and do a demo on it.

I tried to ask the obvious, “Mink?” Really?” Truthfully, I thought the fur industry was long gone by now. But they are so confident that I thought maybe they were going to tell me that there is a new ‘dolphin cruelty free tuna’ method of obtaining mink oil that I will be thrilled with.

At the first show (a pet event), a young  girl excitedly told me that the products are primarily used for burn victims, etc., etc. I still felt a little nervous, but didn’t want to be rude by asking for specifics and putting anyone on the spot. So, I went home and Googled. To my surprise, Utah (my 2nd home) is a major mink producer. What?! No!

My second surprise was that mink “by products” are used in dog food. Tell me this is incorrect. Apparently, the mink industry is alive and well. Who is buying and wearing mink coats anymore??? I wouldn’t dare. Sure, our mothers had them, but it just isn’t done anymore.

So, I read further and found that mink ‘ranchers’ are a die hard bunch. “How else are we going to make a living? We’ve been doing it for generations!” they were quoted as saying in news articles in response to an apparent series of raids that animal activists were doing in Utah. The activists were ‘liberating’ the mink from their cages. That’s another post for another day with the exception being that *I* have had to change careers out of necessity. It can be *did,* especially over the time period of ‘generations.’

My second tradeshow was last weekend. It was a craft and sewing show. Guess who? Touch of Mink. Again, I tried to avoid, but they called me over and, again, wanted my hand. I decided to stop and have a conversation with a more mature woman (ahem–someone my age). This was a more interesting talk because she was full of answers, even one that might be complete horse feathers. You let me know.

So, I dared to ask, “So, mink huh?” I think they are ready for people who are less questioning. Strategy 1: Re-direct. Show how amazing your skin will feel. Explain the full line of products. Do a demo.

Strategy 2: For the person who very gently presses the issue. “So, what about the mink? Is this still being done?” Launch into a hazy, Disney-fied vision using words like “by products, “these are *ranched* animals.” Does this make a difference? Because, in a way it almost makes it seem even “wronger.” I’m possibly not educated enough on the subject to have an intelligent conversation, but if there was an overpopulation of, say, rabbit or deer, then it could be argued that is a smart use of an animal that is going to be hunted/extinguished anyhow. But, to purposely breed to kill? Well, that question is one that definitely drives people into their corners on a daily basis, no doubt about that. Stay with me…

For the person who presses even further (that would be me, but I didn’t give a disapproving face, just gentle questions)

“Is it, you know, humane? These are questions my customers and friends will ask and I kind of need to know before I could promote. It does sound like it does amazing things.”

This got me into ‘testy’ territory.

“Are you a vegetarian?”

“No.”

“Well, there you go.” (Said with a cranky, impatient look.)

??? What kind of answer is that? Honestly, I did not ask the questions in a way that was aggressive. She was still holding my hand in her cleansing water. I was just a curious consumer willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. (And, p.s., YOU ARE THE ONE THAT CALLED ME OVER LIKE A CARNIE AND INSISTED ON SHOVING MY HAND INTO YOUR PRODUCT.)

It was a sudden switch from exuberant salesperson to me being a problem. Now we were getting to the nitty gritty. Vegetarian vs. Non-Vegatarian is something we all have to weigh in on personally, but straight answers were what I was going for. Any company who sells mink products would HAVE to expect that a product like this (and perhaps, horse/cat/dog meat as well) is going to raise questions from any semi-intelligent person, or at least the average American? Those are meats that we, as a culture, don’t accept very well.

They especially need to anticipate questions from business people from whom they might want to retail and/or recommend the products. Is this how I’m supposed to respond to questions from my own clients? A company that is proud and confident about their product will have nailed this sensitive topic down.

Question that I wanted to ask but didn’t dare: “So, if the oil is super important for the medical profession, how is there any left over for non-essential products such as body lotions and especially pet shampoos? We have amazing plant-based products already that do a superb job.  Is the mink industry struggling and/or greedy and just trying to create a demand? (Personal note: In all honesty, if I had a child with a severe burn or bite and the sacrifice of a mink would heal this better than any product known to man, I would justify its use. I would thank the animal profusely and apologize and be very grateful. I know, I did just stray into my own personal “Sophie”s Choice” terrain. Let me try to steer us back on track.)

Next question asked quietly and respectfully, “So, um, how *is* the oil obtained from the animal?”

“Let me tell you something. These animals are treated VERY well. Because if you have unhappy mink, they do not grow beautiful coats.”

(Gulp.) Uh oh. Looks like we were getting away from the main purpose of the animal being a medical wonder. Now she’s admitting to fur mining? Don’t think I like where this is going. I kind of next anticipated some kind of reverse argument that goes like this: “Well, if we’re ranching mink for medically necessary purposes anyhow, then why let the pelt go to waste? Use every part of the animal and make sure it is salable.” Even that could be a fairly strong persuasive argument if I wanted to be on “Team Mink.”

“So, the animal is *not* alive then.”

“No, the animal is alive! They remove the fat between the pelt and the body.”

“Oh, so the animal is alive while they extract the oil?”

“Yes.”

“They don’t need to kill the mink to harvest their oil?” (In the farthest reaches of my brain, I was imagining something akin to squeezing of a dog’s anal glands. Gross, but…well, doable.)

“No. Again, they remove the fat from between the meat and the pelt.”

“Ok, I see. ‘Pelt’ just sounds like something that is not alive.” (I don’t refer to the stuff on my dog as a pelt, but as fur.)

“Yes, it’s alive.”

“Wonder how they get the oil from that? A needle into the coat?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what they do.” (My mind is now picturing something akin to liposuction on a mink.)

“Wow! That’s great and really interesting!!”

“Yes, don’t you love how your skin feels? Can you tell a difference between this hand and that hand? Mink oil is so much like our own skin oil that you can literally put a drop in your eye and it will not hurt.” (And back to all of the benefits of their products and which ones would I like to purchase today.)

“Do you have anything I can rea..?”

Before I can finish my sentence, she slaps a handout into my hand. “Yes, you can read all about it on our website. It’s all there.” And, she’s off. I presumed that I was time wasted. This is short sighted. Slap a free sample in my hand, get my contact information because if what you’re telling me is correct and harmless then I *will* order a superior product. This is how I came upon the products I rely on to this day. I will even make sure you get the commission. But, if I am treated like this *before* the sale, I am reasonably confident I will be treated with less regard after.

So, I just took the brochure and just now visited the website. Guess what is not there that you would think would be THE first question posed and answered in the FAQs?

Oh, it’s answered, and here is the official answer. The saleswoman tried to fill my head with sweet eclair cream. Mink oil is NOT obtained from live animals. According to their own website what she told me with a straight face was a blatant lie. It’s one thing to offer a product and just be honest and confident, but it is entirely another thing to fabricate something so outrageous to make a sale…a sale to a potential retailer who would then be lying (and embarrassing themselves and potentially angering customers who think I am lying to them) to their customers who rely on professionals to do their homework. “Disappointed” is the nicest word I can use to describe how I feel about this person and the company.

Another thing is that the company only mentions that this oil is used incidentally in the medical community; it doesn’t present it as being so necessary that we need to ranch mink over the whole thing. The main use for a mink, apparently, is still for vanity: Fur. And, what the heck? Sell the meat to dog food manufacturers.

Here’s the link and here’s their official information: Notice that it does not even mention the medical industry.

Touch of Mink Blog

“Mink oil is a by product of the fur and pet food industry. Minks are farmed here in the United States just as any other ranched animals: chickens for meat and feathers, geese for down for pillows and blankets, cows for meat and leather products. The mink meat is used for dog and pet food, the fur industry uses the pelts and we buy the fat and oil which would otherwise be destroyed in our landfills.  It is then sent to a Texas A & M University lab and filtered through a process to remove impurities and deodorize the oil.”

And here’s another relevant quote from their “About Us” page.

“All of us at Touch of Mink are encouraged and expected to promote integrity, honesty, respect and a professional relationship with everyone we come in contact with, especially our customers. We hope your use of our Touch of Mink products brings you healthy and younger looking skin for many years!”

I did ask her which dog food manufacturers use mink. She responded, “Almost all of them. They won’t list it as such, however, it will just be identified as “bone meal” because the public won’t tolerate seeing “mink” listed as an ingredient.”

Hmm…Whole Dog Journal, are you reading?

So, she IS aware of the controversy.

Unless someone can really convince me to see this another way or that she didn’t lie through the roof, I can’t support this. I’m pretty tolerant, but a major lie is unacceptable to me, unethical, disrespectful, unprofessional, and just really makes me mad. Your thoughts?

Update: I did email a link to this blog entry directly to the company and invited them to come here and leave a response. If they respond via email, I will post that as well. I also sent an invitation to Whole Dog Journal to read and review.

Getting in Shape

I invented a new exercise game with Ranger. I’m calling it “It’s All About You; It’s All About Me”

Mind you, I’m completely out of shape. Walking around the block has felt like an effort lately. So, this probably works best for someone like me or someone who is in medium shape versus someone like my brother who runs further than I drive every day.

I’m going to guess that our total mileage today was probably 1 mile (yay!)

When Ranger and I leave the house, it’s all about him. We walk/jog to a huge park/rec center that is probably less than 1/2 mile away. The rules are that he can stop and do whatever. It’s sort of a warm-up for me.

When we get to the park, we roam the soccer and baseball fields. He is still allowed to stop and smell. When he does, however, this is when I do a slow lunge or a squat (is that called isometrics or yoga? I don’t know. I just try to do quality over quantity.)

As soon as we get back to the road home, it then becomes all about me. So I try to jog, very slowly (pit pat pit pat) all the way home. Ranger doesn’t get to do his stops.

And, you know what? He seems to get it!

It could be as simple as a horse excited to get back to his barn, but he doesn’t mess around on his jog home. He will maybe make one pit stop, but that’s it. There are a lot of dogs that bark from inside their yards and he ignores all and just continues forward.

When I first started doing this, I would walk him on his harness so that if he pulled hard on our way home, I would just keep going. I mean, I would slow down a little, but I didn’t let him dawdle. I *would* pull him to keep going. Now, if I’m in a hurry and don’t take the time to put on his harness, I don’t worry about his pulling.  He now has a pretty nice loose-leash walk and I’m not pulling on him on the way home. He just does a nice trot all the way home.

Because it’s a game, it has become fun and I find myself getting up and out earlier in the morning. That NEVER happened before.

Here’s to fitting into my old wardrobe!!

While We’re on the Topic

Yesterday, a friend told me that they saw an article that said that two of the fastest growing, economic resistant occupations are dog grooming and dog sitting.

I replied that I had another encounter yesterday morning that convinces me that animal behavior rehabilitation (and/or euthanasia) will likely follow this trend. Happily, I can also report a good ending to the day.

Hello Insensitive Groomer

After a romp on the beach, I took a friend’s dog and mine to a local, do-it-yourself dog wash. This wash had an experienced groomer in the back who was working on a small Labrador. Not so typically, she had grooming ribbons displayed on the wall behind her. I don’t have ribbons because I have never competed. Most groomers I know don’t have them either.

Since we were the only ones in the shop, I tried to initiate a bit of grooming chitchat as we worked. I wasn’t of much interest to her until I asked her about her awards. She explained that she owns a Kerry Blue terrier and she has competed with those.

As we worked, I noticed that the dog she was working on was was scared mindless. It was cowering, shaking, wimpering, and its eyes were bugging out of its head. She was shaving this small labrador (another topic for another day). There was no soothing talk for the dog. It was all business. After all, this is an ‘experienced’ groomer.

And then came the dog’s nails. How did I know she was working on the nails? Because the dog squealed and screamed. As a groomer, I know. It’s a hassle. Did the nails need to get done? I couldn’t tell. Some groomers are very thorough and will, as a matter of practice, not let anything go out the door without a nail trim, even if a dog doesn’t need one. Another customer entered the shop. Did she try to stop the screaming in front of a ‘regular’ type of customer who also brought in a lab?

No. She became more commanding. “Stop. Stop it right now!”

“She has awards!!,” I pantomimed to point out to the dog. “Relax and show the proper respect.”

The Lab telepathed back to me one of my favorite quotes, “Properly trained, man can become dogs best friend.”

Touché.

After the ordeal, I casually meandered into the territory…”You know? I’m starting to teach workshops on toenail training for dogs to be alright with having their nails trimmed.”

No answer.

“…for owners.”

No answer.

“I have another class I’m starting that teaches dogs how to be alright and steady while on the table.” (Echo…echo.)

Maybe I needed to put it in a way that shows her a benefit for groomers?

“Trying to do something to help make a groomer’s job easier, you know.”

And finally, the response which deserves the caveat that I don’t remember her exact words, but were pretty close to, “Good for you.”

And that was that. And that is pretty typical for the average groomer.

Most groomers (my younger self included) do not make the connection between what they do and the rest of the animal. They do not see their job as part of the whole for a dog. (To their credit, their owners may not either.) Nor do they really have time to care. They have a living to make and a dog that causes them trouble just makes making their income even harder. We/they like dogs that are easy to groom.

I could make an educated guess that the groomer would not remember the name of the dog today. It is impersonal. The dog’s reactions were an inconvenience…for her.

I would lay odds, however, that if I had her dog on my table and I slapped it in front of her, she would be more involved. But, I would explain, “She’s not cooperating with my dematting and she hates her ears to be cleaned!” “Knock it off!” [shove] “Hold still.” Hopefully she would attempt to stop me. Every dog deserves to have an advocate, don’t you think?

And now for the good part.

I received another call. I have been playing phone tag with this person for 2 days. The person hasn’t provided any information in her messages about why she’s calling. Finally, after getting home I reached her. She thanked me for my persistence in returning her calls.

“I have a dog that bites while being groomed. I was referred to you by (a local person who belongs to every positive dog association that I do and who I routinely see at dog events–she specializes in various wholistic treatments for dogs).”

Flashback: See my previous blog entry “Daring to be Unpopular.”

My thoughts: I’m not ready for this conversation yet.

She continued, “(She) said that I should contact you because you are gentle with dogs and that you might be the one to help my dog to overcome his issues.”

?? Really ??

“We have worked with clicker training. I don’t know if you still groom anymore, but if we could work together with my dog, I am willing to put in the effort.”

?? Really? Really Really? For REALS?!

Was this a staged call just to make me feel heartened?

“Are you alright knowing that we may not accomplish a haircut right away?”

“Absolutely.”

“Did my friends put you up to this?” (Just kidding.)

“Welcome to my salon!” and yes, ‘Good for me.’ And good for this little 10 lb. dog.

Daring to Be Unpopular (Part III)

How it Turned Out

I pre scripted the points I wanted to make with the client. I took a big breath and I dialed. When I am nervous, I practically stutter. This really did take all the courage I had.

I explained about “the bad guy” (owner of place where I would be working) not wanting to assume this type of liability. Yep, I displaced the blame initially. And then I tested:

  • Does this person have the level of income to afford what we offer? A quick conversation of what they do for a living revealed that this would not be a problem to pay for private training with a skilled trainer who specializes in reactivity and aggression.
  • Are they willing to do what it takes? I recommended that they pay a vet to anesthetize the dog and groom it very short while under and then we start training immediately to avoid this emergency grooming scenario in the future.

    The person kept repeating that they will probably need to call around because the dog needs to get groomed now. This was a revealing conversation that I have avoided in the past. My vet suggestion was being ignored. Whomever handles the dog next is being put at risk. Previously, I had believed that I was chosen as the groomer because I was somehow special. I was. I was willing to risk a bite. More self respecting groomers would not.

    As we spoke, I gained confidence. He doesn’t really care about what is good for the dog. If he did, he would do it the right way. I explained that training will take time and that we have to go at the dog’s pace.

    He responded that he had done the nice thing by fostering and then adopting this dog when no one else would. Where does the kind part come in? If I am willing to adopt a dog that has this level of behavioral problems, I feel I must assume responsibility for helping the dog all the way …not just feeding it.

  • I recommended that the dog be thoroughly evaluated by a good veterinarian who can evaluate things like the thyroid and/or possibly prescribe an anti-depressant to help a dog whose history is unknown but who may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and is not possibly entirely in control of its responses. This is a truth for some dogs.
  • I then finished by offering the final test. I have previously recommended a very good trainer who is in the position to (and was very interested in helping this particular dog/person) offer her services for free when I explained to her the severity of the dog’s reactions. I reminded him of this person. It’s FREE. Does it get better than that? The response was, “Well, I’m going to need to call around and find someone who can groom him today.” Oh.
  • This owner did ask me to email the information to him. Maybe it all needs to marinate in his mind. We, as people, have our time schedules of change too, I suppose.

In conclusion, this experience was very revealing, not only about this particular client, but as to what is really important to me and why. Sometimes you just know when you know and it’s the day your path changes. Today was noteworthy.

So, the job hunt begins until what I have to offer is in demand enough to support us. The good news is that my own dog will have my full attention. And he needs it because…here is another confession: He is not always a good dog. He is socially challenged with other dogs. We need to work on that…or, as I have done and continue to do, I have to manage his environment very carefully. Were he unreliable around people, we might be having another discussion about whether his days are numbered. As it is, I am willing to assume the risk and do the work that is necessary to help him get along in this world.

As a final note, I have to thank the person who set my limits for being kind and strong. I called to tell her how I handled the conversation and the outcome. She rewarded ME. I am not used to being rewarded for turning away a client. I am really not. It is scary. Normally, I would be accused of giving a salon a bad name. For once, I was commended for not taking a job. I’m still absorbing the message. Thank you to you-know-who-you-are.

Dogs Have No Social Filter

Ok, I’ll admit that I’m not enamored with every single dog that comes through the grooming door. I secretly probably blame the owners, but I’ve spent a lifetime mastering the fine art of being polite and respectful.

Dogs? If I were to treat a dog the way other dogs treat dogs they don’t like? I would be out of business. They don’t even attempt to conceal prejudices and judgmental attitudes.

There’s a poodle in the shop today that, I’ll admit, I’m not super crazy about. He is flea infested (owner’s fault), 12 years old and still unneutered (owner’s fault), is walking around peeing on everything, is neurotic (so is the owner),  and has few social skills (again…similar to the owner).

His owner is someone (to put it politely) I would like to find a way to fire as my customer. I just haven’t found a way I feel comfortable with–and, of course, I’ll need to lie since anything else would feel just…impolite!

Right now I am boarding a dog whose personality I wouldn’t mind borrowing from time to time.

When this poodle walked in and pee’d, “Teddy” came out, took one look, and started growling.  It’s like he said, “What’s the matter with you? We don’t like you.”

My own dog was a little more forgiving.   Teddy then followed our ‘guest’ outside. The dog pee’d more. (The owner told me as he dropped this dog off that he probably also needed to ‘poop.’ I handed the leash back and asked if he would like to take him for a walk then. He responded, “No, I’m late for an appointment.” When I callled to tell him later that his dog was ready to pick up, he informed me that he won’t be able to pick him up for another two hours because he is at a doctor appointment. I am not providing daycare voluntarily. Yes, I really do want to fire this client.)

Teddy comes from the old school of behavior adjustment and admittedly has infinitely more influence than I. He gave poodle dude an instant attitude adjustment.

Poodle guy was boldly investigating everything in my clean studio–and acting like the joint was his. Teddy addressed it immediately. “GRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!” (Translation: “Make one more stupid move and it will be your last.”) I was embarrassed, “Teddy, can you find a nicer way to say that?”

Teddy: He doesn’t understand “nice.” It’s completely lost on him.

Couldn’t disagree with that.

Poodle Dude: I was uh…just going to go over here.

Teddy: You don’t listen very well, do you?

Poodle Dude: Uh, how about if I go over here instead and don’t really look at you?

Teddy: Your left testicle is in direct line of my laser vision. I am a herding mix, you know.

Poodle Dude: Just one step?

Teddy: Try me.

Poodle Dude:  So, no step?

Teddy: I see that you’re still breathing. You must be getting too much air.

Poodle Dude: Umm.

Teddy: Did you move? So help me…

Poodle Dude:  Nnnnnnnnnnnn…help? <lifting front legs toward me>

What can I say? Poodle Dude is now wisely asleep in my lap.

Normally I might be concerned that one dog is bullying another. In this case, I have to agree with Teddy. Were it not for him, this dog would have made a really awful mess of our just cleaned shop/home.  Teddy handled the peeing, the snooping, and the whining with some very well-timed and clear guidelines about how to act (or not act). He’s convincing to the poodle that his criteria doesn’t change: The rules are DO.NOT.MOVE. And that’s all the poodle needs to know.

Hmm…

Children and Dog Parks

Ok, we’ve heard the rants.

“KEEP CHILDREN OUT OF DOG PARKS!”

“CHILDREN HAVE MORE RIGHTS THAN DOGS!! DON’T BRING DANGEROUS DOGS TO DOG PARKS!”

And then there’s Rodney King…”Can’t we all just get along?”

Answer “In a perfect world.”

I happen to own one of those “challenged” dogs who isn’t fond of children. He’s not out seeking to hurt them, but his preference is that they all fall off the earth like fleas off of his body.

And, having been a child myself, I do recall the rude awakening to the idea that some people (as well as dogs) don’t like children. I felt sorry for them.

As an adult with a dog I (mostly) love (ok, mostly like), I try to be responsible. My dog serves some purposes of security, he is a good friend, he is family. He is not going to tolerate nonsense from children.

What to do? I try to spend time helping him to meet children on a safe basis for both them and him. I spend a lot of time helping Ranger to escape the advances of unsupervised, determined children who want to hug the cute dog who is giving them every signal that he wants AWAY.  I try to find ways to say it that won’t hurt the feelings of children, that might help to educate them, etc., etc.

Put Ranger to sleep? I mean, that’s the ugly question,isn’t it? For me, I’m going to choose “management.” Ranger DOES, in fact, like some children. They are those unique children who are able to be quiet and patient. Their reward is that Ranger will come lie next to them and expose his tummy to be rubbed. After that, he may ‘bump’ their hands to encourage the to pet him. He’ll follow them around. This is the exception.

He really, really doesn’t seem to want to bite children. He just wants them to not share his space. He doesn’t like their shrill voices (of which I most certainly  had as a child), and he doesn’t like to be the subject of their experiments while they learn not to scream in his ear, fall on him, run at him,  drop things on him. You know, things that my easygoing dogs we had growing up with could tolerate from my being a pet-savvy child. He doesn’t want them to so much as make one mistake.

If he does, guess who pays the price? Me (monetarily)…then him. Then me again if he must be put to sleep over an ‘incident.’

So, I work to enrich his world. He has a lot of dog friends who come to play, and we have our evening walks around dog island. It’s just for dogs. The dogs romp and run for acres.  It’s a place where a dog can be a dog.

Or it was until some new signs were posted in the recent-ish past to the effect of… “Parks are for everyone’s enjoyment. You are responsible for your dog’s actions.”

Well, fair enough. I mean, you know… But, here’s the thing that causes arguments faster than anything. Can we please have a place where our dogs can let their hair down (literally)?

Can we compromise?

I have, for example, managed to work with Ranger to where he will now just see a group of children, possibly issue a quiet, nervous “hoof” and then dash  off. That’s polite-ish.

Parents, please recognize, for the sake of your children, that some dogs are less capable. Please, please stay near your children if you take them to an off-leash dog area. I have seen several bites in dog parks from unsupervised children. Yep, it’s bad and traumatizing for a child. It’s sickening and scary for the owner. People get into verbal fights (bordering on physical) when something goes wrong.

Personally, if a group of rowdy children arrive, I put the leash on and we go home. Fun’s gone. Unfortunately, I don’t have the option of going to any local playground or even to many public places to let the dog have a good time.

So, even if children have the “right” to be there, and we must yield (which makes sense), here are things that will help (as I experienced on my walk this evening):

  • Please take the child to another location to ride their bicycle. Children + wheels are a setup for something very bad to happen. Even if a dog is generally alright with children, he may have a “thing” about wheels. I saw this happen. A woman sent her autistic child zooming around on a bicycle in the dog park. A shepherd chased the child and knocked this, already special needs, child to the ground and she had a small bite. The child was traumatized and so was the owner of what looked to be an average shepherd type mix. East met West. It was a toxic combo.
  • Tonight both a young girl and her brother were riding their bikes all around the island sans their parents. The little girl was the younger one, she both has the shrill scream from her brother chasing her combined with the wobbliness of someone who hasn’t mastered a bike yet. They were both wearing alien-head helmets (kudos to the parents), however these can also freak dogs out. I changed course to avoid having to do a walk by, but I’ll be darned if the kids managed to find ways to cross paths with us twice more.  I was lavish with the praise as Ranger trotted behind me and didn’t so much as let out a peep; he only watched as they wheeled by. Where were the parents? Alarmingly, they were on the other side of the island. IF there had been an attack, they would have had to rely on the ability and concern of a stranger for their children not to have been seriously injured. That’s too far away.
  • Coincidentally, a enormous Mastiff (dog) tried to attack my dog on our way out. Fortunately, both the owner and myself were within inches of our dogs as we both worked fast and hard to spare my dog from a bite. He managed to grab his dog and I managed to block and pull my dog out of the way. No ensuing drama; just a quick defusing and away we all went. Had my dog not been close, I could not have helped him.
  • The same goes for any child in my care; ;their welfare comes first. Part of that involves using good judgment about where to take a child. I like an acronym used in my motorcycle class. SIPDE. It stands for:

* Constantly *S*can your environment

* *I*dentify potential hazards

* *P*redict any likely dangerous scenarios

* *D*ecide what you will do should the scenario happen.

* *E*xecute your decision.

Scan: I see children on bicycles without an adult.

Identify: They could scream and blaze past us and startle the dog.

Predict: I think they are going fast and will likely pass us; could possibly even fall on the gravel. Adult is too far away to save their child. The adults are busy talking and not aware that their child is trying to throw rocks at dogs.

Decide: If they get any closer, I will put a leash on my dog.

Execute: Leashed the dog. He barked. We made it to the car.

A situation was avoided.

But still, please…there are better places for children. Not all dogs or dog owners are as in control. So, if they aren’t, you must be. Prevent the bites; prevent trauma. Even a good dog can lose it and surprise you. I know you’ll find better places–all the pretty and fun places that I’m prevented from enjoying with my dog are there for your enjoyment. An off-leash dog park isn’t worth it.

Muchas Gracias.

 

 

Pupsicles

Looks like it’s about time for a new post lest Word Press thinks I no longer exist and, well…just for fun.

I’ve been making up my own little recipes for refreshing little keep-them-busy-for-awhile treats. I’m sure you can think of your own, but here’s what I do.

Meat-based broth: Chicken or Beef (or whatever). I’ve been using boullion cubes and just follow the directions for making a cup or two.

I vary the sizes of my molds. Originally, I started with a commercial, giant-sized form so that all the neighbor dogs could come over and try some, but quickly found that the idea was a mess and that I just never knew when the dogs would be around.

So now I just use various sized plaxtic containers. If I’m making a mold for my dog plus another or two, I will use a sandwich sized container. For my own dog, or for two dogs who could argue over who “owns” it, I use my ice cube trays to make their own individual pops.

Once I make the broth, I pour it into a mixing bowl and just start adding bite-sized pieces of things. Have leftover treats? Toss ’em in.  Ingredients I have tossed in (chopped or broken small, except for toys or chews):

cheese, cooked meat, Natural Balance dog roll, chicken and duck strips, dog cookies, rubber toy. The great thing about mixing up heavy (sink to the bottom) and light (biscuits–float to the top) is that your dog is pretty much guaranteed a surprise throughout and may sit and work on his pupsicle until the end.

The broth is just a little tastier than water and the whole thing is not too calorie laden, unless you’re really overdoing it.

After stirring it up, I just “set it and forget it” as they say. I pour the mixture into my molds, let ’em freeze and then pop them out and store them in a container in the freezer. Dog needs something to do?  Pull one or two of these out and now you’re Super Mom!

Have fun and add some more ingredient ideas in the comments area.