The Dog Blog

The Beauty of Adopting an Older Dog

 

Avoid the Puppy Phase

Yes, puppies are adorable, but they’re also a lot of work. Adopting a dog when it’s in its puppy years is somewhat like having a baby. If you adopt a puppy, plan on having some sleepless night and being constantly on watch. Puppies need constant attention and time to adjust to their new homes. They miss their littermates and can be very lonely, which leads to crying and even howling throughout the night. An older dog will likely already be housebroken, will be more likely to resist chewing your favorite shoes, books, glasses, furniture, etc., and can require less training and vigilance from you. The reality is…if you’re not ready for a baby, you’re not ready for a puppy.

Older Dogs Are More Likely to Have Some Training

More often than not, an older dog will have received some training in their prior homes. And even if this isn’t the case, an adopted dog may be coming from a foster home where its temporary family will have provided some training and socialization. The-beauty-of-adopting-an-older-dog

A Great and Grateful Companion

If you’re adopting an older dog, chances are he or she may not have had a perfect life. Dogs land in shelters or rescue groups due to neglect, abandonment, or abuse. This can have a tremendously negative impact on their emotional state. Those giving an older rescue or shelter dog a second chance may find that the dog is eager to be a part of a family and may bond more quickly than a puppy.

Knowing What You’re Getting Into

When you adopt an older dog, you know exactly what you’re getting. Personality, size, and health are already apparent. With a puppy, there can be some unknowns in regard to how they will mature and develop. An older dog, coming from a rescue or shelter, will have been evaluated for temperament and behavioral issues, and they’re done growing, so you know, for the most part, what you’re getting into.

Not Supporting a “Puppy Mill”

When you buy a puppy from a pet store, chances are that the poor dog came from a puppy mill and could suffer from poor health and medical complications down the road. Puppy mills are horrific breeding facilities run by people who care little for the welfare of their breeding dogs and whose sole purpose is to churn out litter after litter of puppies for profit. Dogs in puppy mill facilities receive little or no medical care, are generally caged for their entire lives, and have a poor quality of life. When you adopt an older dog from a shelter or rescue organization, you’re not supporting the puppy mill trade.

Save a Life

It’s a sad fact, but many shelters haven’t adopted a “no-kill policy, which means that if an animal isn’t adopted within a finite window of time, it’s euthanized. In fact, it’s estimated that 4 million dogs are euthanized annually. And since puppies can be more sought after for adoption, older dogs are often passed by for their cuter counterparts. Adopting an older dog from a rescue or shelter not only saves its life, but it makes room for the shelter or rescue to take in another dog so you’ll really have rescued two dogs. And once you bond with your new companion, you may find yourself wondering who rescued who.

So there you have it. The beauty of adopting an older dog…and six beautiful reasons why you should.

 

The Art of Communicating with Your Animal Companions

Want to form a more connected bond with your animal companion? One of the most profound ways is to learn to communicate with them and speak their language. From my experience all animal species communicate through telepathy using their minds, thoughts, and feelings to convey a message.

Once you have trained your mind or your intuition to receive messages they may take many forms. Animals communicate in pictures, feelings, emotions, and concepts. You can then translate these inner impressions in ways that we (and other humans) can understand. Continue reading

Why Books Can Change Everything

People have asked me why I wrote Finding Forever and the number one reason is that, as an animal lover and animal communicator, I wanted to change people’s perspective about their animal companions. I wanted to illustrate the volumes we can learn and the rewards we can reap when we really pay attention to our pets.

Before reading Finding Forever, people might have wondered…what can I learn from a group of abandoned German Shepherds seeking their forever homes? The answer may well surprise you: These dogs taught me profound life lessons about love, hope, and resilience. In 2009, I tragically lost my beloved German Shepherd, Blitz and I was devastated by his death. Soon thereafter, I began volunteering for a local Shepherd rescue group, thinking that I might find my next four-legged love. Now more than ever, I thought, I could really understand these deserted dogs’ shock, pain, and sadness. And I was ready to immerse myself in their healing. Week after week, dog after dog, I got to know these amazing souls through our time together and our conversations that often rocked me to my core. The more I communicated with them, the more I understood their pain, disappointment and confusion in regard to the human race. And yet in the face of all this, they remained hopeful, forgiving, and open to the possibility of love

So imagine my surprise when, as weeks and months passed, it was I who was being healed. These abandoned, but oh so wise dogs, were teaching me profound lessons about life and love. One dog at a time, one story at a time, I was being powerfully awakened to the expansive healing of hope, faith, love, courage, forgiveness, healing, perseverance, and more. And I felt called to impart those lessons to the world.

In my book “Finding Forever,” I share awe-inspiring stories and their life-altering lessons for the rest of us. As readers, you’ll come to know 26 truly remarkable rescue dogs, including: strapping Spartacus, who illustrates the incredible beauty of opening a broken heart; Patience and Eve, both pint-sized and pregnant, who reveal the staggering power of friendship; and gentle, bunny-soft Annica, who teaches us the untold importance of living with a higher purpose. Animals are wise and wonderful teachers. They show us, among other things, what it means to love fully, deeply, and unconditionally; to live without judgment; and to forgive even those who have hurt us most.

I’ve had readers tell me that they will never look at their animal companions the same way after reading Finding Forever and that the book changed their perspective about the animal kingdom. That’s why I believe that books can change everything. And that’s why I wrote Finding Forever, Four-Legged Wisdom and Devotion…in hopes that my stories could reach and touch other hearts. Today, I am a tireless crusader for animal rescue. As founder and executive director of Finding Forever, a foundation dedicated to raising money and awareness through writing and arts projects, I have helped numerous animal rescue groups, sanctuaries, and charities. I believe everyone has the power to help change the world.

To learn more about my books visit https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Dobie+Houson&crid=IHRT745DFA33&sprefix=dobie+houson%2Caps%2C231&ref=nb_sb_noss

 

Bristol’s Amazing Journey-Another Happy Rescue Story

It happens all too often. A  lost dog running panicked alongside a stretch of road. It’s a sight that fills most of us with a sense of panic, immediately followed by a rush of adrenaline that sends us bolting from our cars to help.

Worse yet, when the dog is dodging traffic on a busy interstate, it’s terrifying. For us and them. But that’s exactly what happened to Bristol—just eight weeks old, scared and scooting between cars as they rocketed past her. It could have been the end of her life, but one guardian angel leapt from her car, stopped traffic, and scooped the poor girl into her arms and out of harm’s way. Then she contacted rescue to find Bristol a home. Bristol6

Bristol, a brindle Dutch Shepherd mix, had a multi-color coat with a patch of white scruff on her chest. She is a spitfire with a great personality. She loves life and everything about it—people, dogs, cats, toys, everything. One only has to gaze into her sweet eyes, and she captures your heart forever. Never mind that she’s only distracting you so she can grab your snack or whatever you might be carrying. Her ears are a never-ending source of movement and entertainment. One moment one up, the next back, then the next goes up, then to the side, and back toward the middle. Wait. Back down again.

Bristol enjoyed life as she waited for her forever home. No more freeways for this little angel! But she had lots to learn. Sit, down, paw, and especially walk on a leash. When it came to walking with humans, Bristol meandered aimlessly, ignoring any attempts to direct her energy and direction. Bristol3

One day, a family fell in love with Bristol on our rescue’s website. And they came to meet her. They’d recently lost their two dogs and had adopted a twelve-month-old shepherd, Bodie, from us just a few months ago; they thought Bristol might be a good match. Bodie was pure puppy—a jumping, chewing, energetic, pushing-the-boundaries puppy, so we questioned their sanity about wanting another.

Especially since Bristol was also pure puppy. She can easily scale a four-and-a-half-foot baby gate without a running start. She loves to chew; though she’s learning her manners, she’s still very much a puppy. Their answer: “Absolutely!” They met Bristol that weekend. When her new family came, Bristol was invited for a walk with Bodie and family. Mom walked Bristol, and to our amazement Bristol walked calmly by her side, stopping every few steps to look at her new mom for direction. It was as though she had found the leader and companion she’d been searching for.

A few days later, Bodie and family made the second trip to the rescue to pick Bristol up and take her home. And we did one more get-reacquainted walk. One of our volunteers walked Bristol, Dad walked Bodie, and Mom was on the far right. As we walked, Bristol kept pulling to get to her new mom. When she grabbed the leash in her mouth and tugged the volunteer to get closer to her mom, we knew that Bristol had found her forever home.

Bristol, now Cali, is her mom’s shadow, and Bodie is her adoring brother. She and Bodie follow each other around the house and share the toys. They spend hours running, chasing each other, and playing. Training classes are set to begin next week for everyone. Now, our freeway puppy, is now on the road to becoming the most wonderful dog.

The Perfect Fit

Pure white and stunning, like the snow-capped peaks she was named for, Sierra once had a home and a family and a best canine buddy. She and her buddy spent their days together in the house while her human parents worked. But her family was gone a lot. They didn’t have time to train Sierra, or to work with her, or even to exercise her properly. And Sierra was a bundle of energy, which proved to be overwhelming for her doggie friend who was too old to fend for himself. He’d ignore her invitations to play by flopping on his side or turning his butt to her. Finally, the family made the painful decision to relinquish her in hopes that she could find a brighter future. So Sierra came to rescue and joined the rest of the canine family in the kennels. I tuned into Sierra and asked her what she’d like in her new home. Her response was simple. Busy, busy, busy.

sierra

Sierra was a loving social girl who bonded with everyone—human and canine. Every dog she was introduced to became her best friend. And those who accepted her invitations to play had a special place in her heart. While she yearned and searched for a new family, she had plenty of play time in the yard, dashing around hay bales, jumping over new playmates, and playing tug of war with a rope toy. Rescue volunteers quickly learned that she was highly intelligent and turned the play yard into her personal agility course. And while she had received little training in her previous home, she mastered commands quickly, jumping on and off the hay bales on command!.

When Sierra’s bio was posted to the website, applications streamed in, but there was one that stood out. One that might be the perfect fit.

A young family with two dogs and two young children was looking for another active dog because they had an active two-year-old shepherd (Kiara) and a 14-year-old retriever (Kimba). Kiara was desperate for a more-constant playmate. It sounded just like the situation Sierra had come from. Except this family was active. This family was often home. This family had a young energetic dog as well as an older one. And this family had the time and energy to give Sierra what she so desperately yearned for.

So a meet-and-greet was arranged, and it exceeded expectations. Sierra met Kimba first, gingerly sniffing her, and then gently nudged her with her nose. Kimba sniffed back and then wagged her tail and walked away. Success! Then it was time for Sierra and Kiara to meet. Kiara jumped and spun and play-bowed, turning himself inside out with his delight. It was a bit much even for social Sierra. Mom corrected him and redirected his energy slightly. He settled, and Sierra accepted his greeting. Then it was time to meet the kids. Sierra gently sat on cue and offered a paw. And with that, she sealed the deal.

Now Sierra is settled in her new home and it’s the perfect fit. She’s thriving on her daily runs with mom and her new canine playmate. Sierra also proved to be great with the kids. All mom had to say was “gentle” or “paws off” and Sierra settled immediately. One of our volunteers visited Sierra on her second day in her new home and reported back that Sierra is in heaven now. You can see the joy on her face as she gazes at her new family and the wonder in her eyes as she explores every square inch of her new home. She has finally found her match. Her new mom reported recently that Sierra is being run ragged by Kiara and the kids, and the hikes, and the daily runs. And she sleeps like a baby at night, exhausted by her busy new life. I asked Sierra what she liked most about her new home, although it seemed like a no-brainer. Her response surprised me. She said that there was a collective wisdom in her new home, that the people seemed to almost intuitively understand her needs and desires. Sounds like heaven to me.

 

Gizmo’s Grand Adventure

Gizmo was a happy-go-lucky Shepherd mix with floppy ears, white paws, a patch of tan under his chin, and two tan dots centered over each eye. A friendly 18-month-old, he was first adopted from us when he was just a pup. In his family’s care, he grew to be a lovely dog, walking his children to elementary school each day. And on the return trip to retrieve the children, he’d prance as he neared the school, wagging his tail excitedly.

 

Unfortunately, when he was a few months old, he was diagnosed with a congenital condition that was beyond his family’s means to deal with, and Gizmo was returned to the rescue. But every cloud has a silver lining, and lucky Gizmo was scooped up by a volunteer who researched his condition and found a solution. Two more angels stepped in and welcomed him into their family as a foster and continued to treat his condition. With meds and the right care, Gizmo’s health returned to normal. Now all he needed was a savvy family who could cope with his needs and, most importantly, love him forever.

Gizmo_1HS

His foster family described him as a delightful dog who would make a wonderful addition to any family. He was super affectionate. He’d nudge people with his nose or sit next to them in a chair, looking longingly into their eyes as he waited patiently for a petting or scratching session. I asked him how he would describe himself, and his response was “I am happy-go-lucky, and I like tinkling noises and cold on my nose. And I am one in a million. And I am a curious bird.” It was all true. Born a curious guy, Gizmo would watch everything that moved. He’d follow his people everywhere to make certain he didn’t miss anything exciting, and he’d examine anything that moved—bugs, toys, people, birds, squirrels…anything.

 

Gizmo had some basic training, was well behaved, and loved kids and dogs, so we looked for an active home to satisfy his curious nature. I later learned that we also needed to find a house with an icemaker. Why? Gizmo loved ice cubes! He’d trot to the refrigerator, stare expectantly at the icemaker, and pace in place, eagerly waiting to be given one. That was what he meant by tinkling noises; it was the sound that the icemaker made when the cubes dropped from the chute and clinked one on top of another in a glass.

Gizmo_FunGuy

Although Gizmo had many angels in his life, when the time was right, he met some very special ones. Friends of his foster family cared for the family’s dogs when they were away and began to form a bond with Gizmo. Over time, those friends fell in love. Now he finally has the home he has been waiting for and Gizmo’s grand adventure can begin.

How does Gizmo spend his time these days? He spends every moment with his new family. Our little guy is now a companion dog who accompanies his new dad everywhere he goes. He is also making lots of new dog friends he meets during adventures with his new family. And in his spare time, he monitors the icemaker. He’s even learned to push the lever so he can dispense his own ice any time he wants.

 

 

What Dogs Know About the Power of Simplicity

There’s a powerful quote about simplicity—that it reveals the pure beauty in life. Nothing could be truer about this saying than with dogs. They have such simple needs…food, water, play, and love. A walk, a romp in the park, a pile of leaves, or even just a treat brings such joy to their lives.

One of my foster dogs exemplified the power of simplicity by inventing a game. He’d jump off the two-foot bank in the back yard, fly through the air ala Superman style with his front paws outstretched, land with a soft thud, race underneath the deck, jump up to the bank on the other side of the deck and careen around the corner to his jumping off point. Rinse and repeat. He’d do this until he wore himself out. And then relish the tranquility of a simple nap. It’s such a simple metaphor for life…work hard, play hard and reward yourself with something that makes you happy. Here are 3 things dogs know about the power of simplicity.

 

  1. Be open to experiences. Embrace them with your heart and allow yourself to feel and rejoice in the simplicity of every experience. An autumn leaf falling, the colors of the seasons, the sounds of the birds chirping, the changes of the seasons, all have the power to uplift and inspire through the beauty of simplicity.
  2. Stay young at heart. Like Peter Pan, who never aged, we can all tap into our inner child and recapture the innocent wonder that lies in every moment. Imagine you are seeing things for the first time and honor how it makes you feel. And take note of what it sparks within you.
  3. Look at life as a game and try to find the fun in every experience. Play with color. Color has the power to change our vibrational energy, shift our mood and renew us. Allow the innocence within you to bubble forth, and unleash the wonder all around you.

Big Ben

Big Ben was a big, handsome, black and red coated boy who’d lost his way. In his first home, he’d never received training or guidance. As a result, his sweet disposition, his polite nature, and his excellent obedience skills became overshadowed by his resource-guarding behavior. Without guidance, he became aggressive, guarding his people, his food, and his territory in general. And because of his size and power, Ben could be dangerous and unpredictable. When I asked him why he was aggressive, he said that he was worried about things getting out of control. He was simply trying to establish order and structure.

When he came to rescue, we paired him with a trainer and reinforced his training with a team consisting of our most savvy volunteers. In time, he settled into a more peaceful routine. But his past was imbedded in his character, and Ben would need a home with structure, gentle but constant guidance, and strong yet compassionate leadership.

Ben was a stunning, commanding boy. He tipped the scales at 100 pounds and his long, luxurious coat made him seem even bigger and more imposing. He was with us for just a few months when he found his first home. But after eighteen months, divorce shattered his family. And Ben was returned to rescue. And we were back to square one. BigBen_1Ben’s training had been neglected. So we placed him in training again to rebuild the foundation we’d once built with him. And he needed a makeover. He’d gained twenty pounds while he was with his first family, so Big Ben was huge now.

Despite his aggression issues, Ben was loyal and devoted and generally great with people. And despite the lack of training in his previous home, he had retained his knowledge of basic commands like sit, stay, down, up, and shake. All we needed to do was tune him up and look for a savvy and communicative home. Why? Ben was a talker. He loved to express his point of view via his vocal stylings!

After a one-year wait, Ben found a family. A husband and wife team came to meet Ben with their five-year-old GSD Baron in tow. They were smart, savvy people undeterred by Ben’s size and challenges. Baron was huge, big-boned, and also coated; he could have been Ben’s twin. Now Ben had a family and a brother.

Sometimes when we have a dog like Ben, we wonder: will we ever find him or her the right home? Will we ever find a match? But we have faith that there’s someone out there for everyone. There’s someone looking for this dog. There’s someone willing to take on even the most challenging dogs. And it happens. The right family steps up. It’s all about timing. And when it happens, it is wonderful and inspiring.

Ben now has a home where he knows exactly what to do. His boundaries are clear. He is lovingly guided and accepted. His mistakes are seen just as that, just mistakes that are correctable. His humans are committed to giving Ben the best life possible. They pay attention to everything and let Ben know he is home…finally he was really home.

 

Kona’s Search for Acceptance

An impressive black and tan German Shepherd dog, she was named after the small town of Kona, located on the big island of Hawaii. Its meaning, leeward, refers to the dry side of the island, and it’s an expansive section of coastline.  Her family had fond memories of their time on the island. Now four, she had lived with her family since she was eight weeks old. Sadly, her human mom had contracted a progressively debilitating disease. And Kona’s love of being glued to her mom now meant that even a slight unintentional bump from Kona could cause her mom to fall and be injured. After much anguished soul-searching, the family finally knew that they must relinquish her to rescue. When they brought her in, they shared a huge album filled with photos documenting Kona’s world so that our volunteers would know her history and her life. The couple tearfully shared story after story about their beloved dog and their memories of her. And when it was time to leave, they walked away with their heads hanging and their hearts heavy.

We quickly placed Kona in a foster home with an older dog and a cat. Cats were new to Kona, and she tried to practice restraint, but if the cat ran, Kona would follow! But she adored her new foster mom and was always at her side. Kona tipped the scales at about 100 pounds, so you can imagine the challenge of navigating your home with a large dog underfoot. In addition, Kona was a pro at counter surfing, hand mouthing, couch jumping, and dinner stealing. So a refresher in House Manners 101 was in order. But she was smart and willing and fast to learn, and she flourished in her foster home. She loved car rides, long walks, fun toys, and napping in her cushy crate.

I tuned into her and asked her what she was looking for in a home. Her answer: to be accepted for who she was. On her terms.

As we got to know her, we learned that she had a special talent for opening gates. And on her occasional visits to doggie daycare, it wasn’t uncommon for her to open the gates connecting the play areas of the big dogs and the little dogs to let them mingle. She also managed to let herself out of the playground by opening two gates in succession. Maybe she was channeling her inner Harry Houdini? Unfortunately and perhaps due to missing her original family, Kona developed separation anxiety, and it was challenging for her to left alone.

So we searched for a quiet home with another confident dog and humans who were home a lot. The brilliant part of this story is that a couple became interested in Kona as a companion for their dog Buck. They had tons of experience with separation anxiety since Buck suffered from it, so Kona’s issues wouldn’t be daunting for them. Here’s the twist. The couple thought that Buck wasn’t very playful, and they were looking for a mellow companion for him. Turns out the reason Buck wasn’t playful is that he never had another canine to play with! Things are party central in Buck and Kona’s home now, and from reports the first night was pretty wild. But all is settled now, and everyone is happy and in love. And no more separation anxiety for Kona! In addition to opening gates, Kona loves water. Her new home has a fish pond, and splashing around in it has become one of her favorite things, although Buck was always a little indifferent to it.

We hear that things in her new home are going beautifully. Kona and Buck are bonded playmates. And that fish pond that Buck never was interested in? Well, apparently Kona showed him how much fun that could be. Luckily, Kona’s new family thinks that the dogs’ penchant for the pond is adorable!

When I tapped into Kona to ask her why she thought her new family chose her, she offered me one word. Adequate. Which means acceptable in quantity or quality. I’d always thought of the word in terms of “that will do.” I now have a different understanding of it. In Kona’s world, it means to be accepted for what you are. Wholly accepted. Worthy. What a beautiful word. And exactly what she was looking for.

7 Beautiful Behaviors to Learn From—and For—Your Dog

Like people, dogs are complex, sentient creatures. They feel love and joy, sorrow and pain. They have thoughts and emotions, and hopes and dreams. And they care as deeply about their needs and desires as we, as human beings, care about ours.

As an animal communicator, I work telepathically with dogs, often to help humans, whether at shelters or in forever homes, to better understand and support them. So I also know this about dogs: they are more than “man’s best friend”—they are wise and wonderful teachers. By their very nature, they are remarkable role models for mankind.

But to benefit from your dog’s wisdom, you must open your heart and mind. And you must be willing to be his student.

For starters, consider seven virtuous behaviors you can learn from—and for—your four-legged companion:

  1. Be loyal. Trust is essential to any whole, loving relationship. Be a faithful companion to your dog, and devotedly meet his needs and desires—physical, mental, emotional and, if possible, spiritual.
  2. Be loving. Make an effort to deserve your dog’s unwavering, unconditional love. Every day, day by day seek ways to express the love and respect you have for him.
  3. Be attentive. Watch over your dog’s health and well-being. Educate yourself on his changing needs in each life stage, and consider holistic approaches to nutrition and veterinary care.
  4. Be compassionate. Always be kind and gentle with your dog. No excuses. No exceptions. Period.
  5. Be forgiving. Know how to forgive—and forget. And remember there are no bad dogs. Even bad behavior is often a cry for help, to express angst, boredom, or physical pain.
  6. Be dependable. Embrace routine. Be consistent with your dog in all areas—with feeding, training, walking, playing, and beyond.
  7. Be present. Don’t hold on to the past or fret about the future. Be in the present moment with your dog.

Finally, accept that being human doesn’t make you smarter, let alone superior. Be the teacher—and the student. Together, you and your dog can learn a lot.