Chix-A-Lot Friday: How play changed my life

Oh, hello friends! Is it Friday again? I’m so glad, because I have a secret to share: playing with toys changed my life.

And I’m not saying that lightly, either. As a young chap, I was a very nervous dog. I didn’t usually know what I was supposed to do, and I had a lot of energy. I would often use it on chewing up things, baking, or redecorating mama’s apartment in my own Chicklet style. Mama thought it was because I was a very naughty boy, but in reality? I just didn’t know how to be calm!

Then we went to training, and mama and dad were shocked that their first assignment was to play with me as much as possible. It was music to my ears! Mister Lee told mama that we should play as much as we can, but that she had to make the rules. She decided when it was time to play, when it was time to quit, and what the “terminal penalties” were.

There were a bunch of reasons that Lee wanted us to play. It was good for our relationship and for me being able to trust mama, it was a good way to burn off some of my energy and help me be calm, and it was a positive outlet for my natural inclination to chase, catch, and bite things. By teaching me to play fetch or run a lure course, mama could say “here is your opportunity to chase and catch,” and “chase this ball, not that squirrel.”  Mama says she can’t healthily control whether I chase and catch, but she can control when, how often, and what the subject is.

I adore playing fetch and tug almost as much as I adore my mama and dad and brother Doodlebug, and that’s saying a lot. And lately I’ve discovered a brand new love that may be my most naturalest expression of my instincts: running the lure. The lure is a simluated rabbit chase course using a series of pulleys, a motor, some thin chord, and a real rabbit (although they say it’s fake, I just don’t believe them). For dogs who love to chase small animals, it’s healthy, positive, controlled, rules-based, and awesome!

photo: Jim Isbell

photo: Jim Isbell

photo: Jim Isbell

photo: Jim Isbell

Dude and I have also been participating in some water sports with mama and dad lately. Water sports are different than chase and fetch games. They sure do tucker us out physically, but in a very different way. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are balance games for dogs. They force us to be aware of the placement of our bodies, be careful how we sit or stand, and pay attention to the little muscles that we normally don’t notice — especially those of us who are anxious or reactive and normally focused on everything BUT our own bodies. Obviously, I make this look easy. But just try standing on a balance board for an hour and a half and see if you don’t need a nap afterward! A dog like me can run 10 miles and still be ready to party afterward, but put me on a kayak or SUP for an hour and I’m done for the day. The mix of physical and mental concentration and focus will wear me out like little else can.

photo: Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine

photo: Jim Isbell

And there are so many other dog sports that folks in the know participate in with their dogs. Sure they’re fun for the owners and the dogs, but they provide a lot more than just something to do for a couple of hours every Saturday. Ever wonder why you see so many border collies on the agility field? Because they are very smart, high-energy dogs that need more than just a jog around the lake to help them chill out. Sports like agility, weight pull, air scenting, and tracking are amazing for building dogs’ confidence, channeling their energy, exhausting them mentally, and helping them to relax around people and dogs – especially those who are worried or anxious, like me.

Mama knows lots of dogs who are reactive, destructive, hyper, and irritable because they don’t know what to do with themselves. There is nothing wrong with them, they just need a job. Once they start to channel all of that energy into something challenging and positive, other things can fall into place!

Have any of you had a transformative experience involving play or dog sports? Tell us about it!


Chix-A-Lot Monday: We’re Illin’

The Dude and I, we are illin’.

Or, I should say, I am formerly illin’ and he is still and always illin’.

Remember when we told you about Doodlebug’s ringworms? Well, they seem to be gone, but mama still has to keep covering him in this icky yellow smelly stuff every week! So whether he’s illin’ from the ringworm or illin’ from the yellow stuff, he certainly is ill, poor Dude. When he went to see the allergy dogtor about his balding in patches, she told him it was the ringworm. And the best way to treat the ringworm on a dog is a weekly bath — and it gets worse — followed by a “dip” in something mama calls sulfur-hated lime. I don’t know what that means except that mama mixes some nasty stuff with water to make some watery nasty stuff that’s bright yellow, smells like rotten eggs, and gets poured over my poor little brother every week. Can you imagine? And it gets worse still! After he is poured over (they call it dipping although the only parts of Dude that actually get dipped are his poor little white paws), he has to drip dry. This means no toweling off, no rolling around in the grass, and no zoomies all over the yard with me! And the pourage turns his beautiful white furs totally yellow while it dries. It’s so embarassing. Just look at him:

Only two more weeks, mama says.

As for me, I shouldn’t complain much. While Dude has been dealing with allergitchies, heartworms, ringworms, bacterias in his poo poo hole, and a scary seizure a few weeks ago, all I have had to complain about is a little yeasties in my ears.

When mama took me to the vet for my checkup, the vet told her that one of my lovely Chick ears was a little red and in flames (which is a silly thing to say because there was no fire in my ear), and had some yeasty buildup. I asked mama if we could use my yeasties to brew beer or bake bread, but unfortunately I grew the wrong kind. The doc said that she should swab out my ears with a 50/50 white vinegar and water solution for a few days, and it would clear right up. I do NOT like having q-tips stuck in my ears but I let mama do it because I love her so, and guess what?! My yeasties are all gone! So now the only time I’m shaking my head funny and sideways is when mama gives me a bath with the evil outdoor spitting snake:

Wish us well, and I’ll see you on Friday!

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