A dog in a stroller is still a dog

This is a post I've thought about writing before now, since it's something that really bugs me, but then over the weekend something happened that convinced me I had to write about it, even if just to get it off my chest.  

So here it is: as the title of the post says, "A dog in a stroller is still a dog!"  

But before I offend anyone, let me clarify.  The dogs in strollers thing doesn't bother me as a general rule.  I can readily see at least two very valid reasons for dogs to ride in strollers.  Such as:  

  1. Being elderly/infirm/having a disability.  For example I have read more than once that three legged senior rescue pup Lucky Diamond often used to ride in a stroller before passing away of cancer earlier this year.  Bravo!, I say.  There's no reason why not having full mobility or a great deal of stamina should prevent a dog from being out and about in the world getting the stimulation and socialization that most of them so crave.  
  2. Being a small dog in a big city/large crowd.  It makes perfect sense to me that in large crowds of people and/or big, crowded cities, it isn't safe or particularly enjoyable for a small dog to be walking under their own power where they can easily be trodden on, nor is it always particularly convenient or comfortable for them to be carried around.  I would much rather see a dog in a stroller in this situation than, for example, a dog in one of those "Snugli"-type carriers where they are strapped to a person's body.  At least that way, as opposed to when they are in the Snugli-type, they are able to have all four feet on the "ground", can sit, stand, or lie down as they choose, and can be separated from the public at large, whether for their own protection or that of the public, by a mesh barrier.  Most of the dogs I've seen out and about in strollers seem relaxed and content while the dogs in the Snugli-things always appear unnerved at being toted about with all four feet waving in the air, or at least this is so of the ones I personally have seen. 
I also happened to find this article (granted, it's published on a site that sells dog strollers):  16 Reasons To Use A Dog Stroller.  In case you were wondering what the 16 reasons were, and don't want to read the entire article, some of the reasons that were mentioned were using the stroller as a "no strain pet carrier," or using it for multiple small dogs instead of having the dogs go every which way while on leash.  For urbanites the former might be a valid argument, I really don't know since I have never lived in a large city, but the latter seems like a "problem" that could easily be solved with some basic leash training.  

Understand, my beef here is not with dogs in strollers per se, but dogs in strollers where dogs aren't welcome in the first place.  Case in point - a local shopping mall this past weekend when I witnessed a woman with a popular "purse dog" breed pushing said dog in a doggie stroller.  For the record, my issue was not that the dog was in the mall in a stroller, but rather that it was in the mall at all, since signs prohibiting dogs from entering the premises are present on every exterior door. But for some reason, there is a certain type of person who sees no issue with flouting rules prohibiting dogs from a given premises just because their dog is small, and is in a purse, stroller, etc.  Even though I have two small dogs, one of whom I am sure, would ride quite happily in a stroller if it meant she could accompany me to shopping malls rather than being left at home, this "the rules don't apply to me!" attitude really rankles.  

Why?  Well, for one thing because I have made it a point, since starting to live with smaller dogs nine years ago, to do everything possible to fight the "small dogs as ill-behaved, yapping ankle-biters" stereotype that exists out there. I know it exists, because as a former card carrying member of the big dog lovers club, I have been guilty of this same narrow-mindedness in the past. So it ticks me off that a person with a small dog in a stroller feels justified in thumbing her nose at rules prohibiting dogs inside a place like an indoor shopping mall, and even worse that mall security just looks the other way instead of enforcing the same rule that they would undoubtedly enforce without question or hesitation if someone walked in with, let's say, a  German Shepherd (or bully breed or Rottweiler, or even a Greyhound or Golden Retriever) on a leash, or even, I feel sure, if said dog was being pushed through the premises in a stroller, and no matter how well-behaved/socialized said dog happened to be.  Which, to me, is ridiculous, not to mention unfair.  A five pound dog is no less a dog than a fifty pound dog.  So if there are no dogs allowed, then there are NO dogs allowed.  Otherwise, the signs on the door should specify that only dogs not in excess of a certain weight are allowed.  Or if the stroller is the thing that guarantees a free pass, then it should say so right on the door.  But that, then, means that if I have a Great Dane and want to push it around the mall in a stroller, no one is allowed to give me any crap about it.

Now, back to the woman I saw in the mall over the weekend.  As I was strolling along, no pun intended, I saw the woman advancing towards me pushing the aforementioned dog in the aforementioned stroller.  Right as we drew almost abreast of one another, a young girl about four or five years old who was walking along a few feet to my right with her mother, abruptly darted away from her parent and ran up to the stroller.  Whereupon the stroller's occupant emitted two sharp barks, one unmistakable growl, and then lunged and snapped at the outstretched hand of the little girl.  (The mesh cover was partially unzipped.)  The little girl, startled, scared, and crying, backed away rapidly, clutching her mother's hand. It was one of those things that seems to happen in slow motion but in actuality the whole thing took maybe a second and a half to go down.  

I suppose it could be argued (by someone other than me) that the little girl was at fault here.  After all, she rushed at the dog, who was understandably startled.  As we all know, any dog will growl or even bite under the right (wrong) circumstances.  Or perhaps we should blame the mother, who was failing to control her child and keep her from rushing the dog.  But this was a four or five year old child, capable of walking along next to her parent without having to be kept firmly by the hand as a toddler might need to be.  And it all happened so quickly that I don't see anything the mother could have done to prevent it.  Once she had her shaken and crying daughter by the hand again, she murmured a quick apology to the woman with the DIS (dog in the stroller), and they walked quickly away.

The craziest thing about all of this, to me, was the way the woman with the DIS reacted.  As she and I stood there watching the woman and her daughter walk away, she said to me, in a voice full of righteous indignation, "Do you believe that?!!!"  In response to which I wasn't, honestly, sure what to say.  Nothing that came readily to mind seemed advisable or appropriate, especially since the woman clearly was expecting sympathy, which was not going to be forthcoming from my corner.  The dog in question was probably about five or six pounds soaking wet, but she (I assumed, as she was sporting a bejeweled collar and being conveyed in a pink stroller) still had forty-two teeth and ensconced in the stroller, she was right about at face level with the child.  Had she been a little quicker to lunge and snap or the child been a little slower to jerk away, things might have ended with a trip to the ER for stitches.  

Now, had the same thing happened on a crowded sidewalk, I may have felt differently.  After all, if the dog was doing nothing more than riding along in its stroller and a child rushed over and startled her, then really, it's hard to blame the dog.  Then again, I didn't blame the dog in this scenario, either.  I blamed the woman.  Who shouldn't have had the dog, stroller or not, in the mall to begin with.  Let alone been angry at the little girl or her mother for what happened.  

I did say to the dog's owner, who by now had unzipped the mesh and was lifting her out to cradle her and murmur sympathetic endearments, something to the effect of "She seems a little nervous, maybe she'd be better off staying at home next time." I felt it was a valid point, as the dog was also visibly quaking, though to be fair it could have been as a result of the incident that had just occurred rather than a general state of unease at being strolled through a crowded mall.  The woman, though, didn't think much of this.  Rather, she became hotly indignant and made a nasty comment about how her "baby" was probably cleaner than most of the children in the mall, that this dog was her child, and how just because  she wasn't human didn't make her any less the woman's baby.  I could see this was going nowhere fast, so I just smiled nervously, nodded and walked away.  

Inside, though, I was seething.  Because it is people like this who ruin things for the rest of us. After all, dogs are welcome on airplanes, on restaurant patios, and all sorts of other public places.  Which is great, and I'll freely admit that I'm more likely to patronize a restaurant that has patio seating that allows dogs than one that doesn't.  I love having my dogs with me, and they love to be there.  I even get to bring them to work, which is awesome.  But I wouldn't be doing them, myself, or any other dog lovers any favors by bringing my dogs places where they are clearly prohibited, whether I can get away with it or not.  And with Phoebe, who is just small enough to be carried comfortably in a shoulder carrier, or even shoved inside a purse if I really wanted to, I probably COULD get away with it.  But that doesn't mean that I SHOULD. Something which was all too obviously lost on this woman, who had learned nothing at all from the experience, because she was too busy blaming a four year old child rather than herself.  Make no mistake ... I, too, consider my dogs to be my surrogate children.  I love them dearly.  I spoil them rotten.  But I hope that I never lose sight of the fact that they are dogs, not people, and that even if I choose to wheel them down the street in a stroller rather than walking them on leashes, that is what they will always be.  

Because, say it with me, people:  A dog in a stroller is STILL a dog!  

Tucker & Phoebe ... much-loved, greatly spoiled, but still dogs.  And very much ok with that.


Bark Box Giveaway

For the past few months (three?) we have been getting a monthly Bark Box and we love love love it!  It's the ultimate surprise package ... full of all sorts of cool things, most of which I am unfamiliar with, but then once I know about, I absolutely need.  Can I get an amen?  

Anyway ... this month one of the items in our Bark Box is this great wool ring toy by Lollycadoodle.  
Photo credit:  Lollycadoodle.com

According to the info card inside the Bark Box, the Lollycadoodle ring is a "100% wool toy ... handmade by trained artisans in Nepal.  Each toy is unique, fun, and colorful, and if your pup is anything like ours, they'll love this fun and durable toy!"

Trouble is ... Tucker and Phoebe are just not too interested in this toy.  Probably because neither of them are super big on fetch, which I think is mostly what this toy is designed for.  It's a really nice toy, though, as well as brand new with the tag still on it, and we don't want it to go to waste.  So we'd like to give it to another pup who might really like to play fetch with it.  

Our ring toy is pink (the same color pink as in the photo above) with turquoise striping and about six and a half inches in diameter.  We ordered the small bark box, as Tucker is fifteen pounds and Phoebe is nine and a half pounds, but I think most medium sized dogs (Cocker Spaniels, Shelties, Beagles, Border Collies?) who like to play fetch could also use this toy just fine.  So if you would like to have it ... all you have to do is let us know by leaving us a comment.  We'll draw a random winner on November 1st!

Happy Friday to all, and happy fetching!


A new award from a new friend!

A couple of weeks ago, in the course of a mid-week blog hop, I discovered a new-to-me blog, One Blue Dog, that I am really enjoying.  

So I was quite pleased and flattered, the other day, to have been gifted with this sweet award, courtesy of our new friends over at OBD.  

So thank you, Remy and family, for this award.  We so appreciate it!


Mancat Monday with Tanner

Cats are so constant ... such creatures of habit and routine.  Every morning and evening, you can find Tanner on the top of the storage cabinet in the mudroom off the kitchen, where he and Olivia eat, eagerly anticipating his meal.  Every so often, he will peek his head around the corner like this ... 

and meow, at first softly, and then more insistently if I don't deliver his breakfast (or dinner) quickly enough.  

For such a big cat he has the softest, sweetest little meow.  Just love that boy! 


Meet Murray!

This week the Tucker Tells All family gained a new member ... meet Murray!
As you can see, Murray is of the finned, rather than the furry, variety.  He's a male Veiltail Betta, and the first fish I have cared for since I was about ten years old.  

Murray was an unexpected, rather dubious, gift from an office colleague, and I found him swimming around in circles in his little plastic cup when I returned from lunch on Monday afternoon, with a container of Betta food sitting next to him.  After work that night, I went to the local pet supply store and got him a Betta tank, a Peace lily plant (which is so far resisting all my attempts to keep it upright), some decorative rocks for substrate, and some disgusting-looking dried mealworms for treats.   

While there, I got some instructions from an employee about how to successfully transition Murray from his cup to his new tank, and I must say, he looks pretty darn happy in there, and I quite enjoy watching him swim around, and the white noise of the filter is actually very soothing.  

My concern, though, is that according to the directions on the jar of Betta food, he should be fed three times a day, which is fine during the week, but what about weekends and holidays?  So I guess this afternoon I am going to have to go back to the pet store and ask about some kind of automatic feeder?  

Meanwhile, does anyone with fish experience have any tips to share?  


An award!

We were so honored to receive this Sweet award from one of our sweetest friends, Miss Katie Isabella
Thank you, Katie! We have added it to our awards page, and are now pleased to pass it along to some other blogs, as instructed.

The five blogs that we'd like to pass this award along to are:

Nola from Dachshund Nola

Snoopy from Snoopy's Dog Blog

Heather - the human from Three Dogs And A Couch

We think you're all very sweet! 


Finn on Friday

I took this photo of Finn the other night and as you can see he was giving me his best house panther stare.  In fact, he was staring at me so intently that I couldn't help but wonder if he was trying to tell me something.  (Though usually he is more the type to just open his mouth and TELL me ... he's a big talker ... rather than try to get me to understand what he wants by using mental telepathy.)  

Then I realized ... he must have been telling me that it has been WAY too long since I have posted a picture of his handsome self on the blog.  Point taken, Finney.  So this one's for you!

Mom!  It has been WAY too long since I've been the subject of a blog post!  People love me!  What is wrong with you?  Take my picture NOW!
It's amazing to me to think that sometime in the middle of January, my little "kitten" will be turning three years old! Time sure flies - it's honestly hard for me to remember when he wasn't here, and as much as I was sure that the last thing I needed was another cat (or anything else with fur for that matter), the simple truth was that he needed a place to belong, and as hard as I fought it, he sure has stolen my heart.  Maybe it was how hard we had to work, along with our wonderful vet Dr. G., to get him well.  Or maybe it was because, after I took him to what I thought would be his forever home on a Friday evening and then got a call on Saturday morning that I needed to come get him because he wouldn't come out from under the bed, he came running when I softly called the name that I hadn't meant to christen him with, proving that a once-VERY-feral kitten could learn to trust.  Or maybe it's because he's just so darn sweet that there was no way I could resist him.  Whatever it was, I sure love you, monkey, and I'm so glad you're my "kitten." 


Good News / Bad News (Phoebe Vet Visit Update)

Phoebe can't really decide which expression to wear this morning.  Should she smile like this ... 

Or should she instead wear her pouty face ... like this?

The reason she is undecided is because we heard back from the vet yesterday afternoon and the good news is that Phoebe's urinalysis and bloodwork came back picture perfect.  She does not have a UTI, bladder infection, or any other medical issue that would explain the recent episodes of peeing on the floor.  That's the good news, and is certainly reason to smile.  The bad news is that since there is nothing medical to explain these episodes, it has to be behavioral.  IE - Phoebe has an aversion to going outside to pee in the rain, and has decided to pee on the floor in the house instead.  And while I must admit that I would not enjoy peeing in the rain either, neither do I find Phoebe's proposed alternative to doing so acceptable.  

So until the rain stops, well, raining, Phoebe will be spending the nights in her crate as opposed to in our bed.  She did so last night, and as, thank goodness, I have always made a point of building and maintaining positive association with the crate, she went in willingly, bedded down happily, and spent the night there without a whimper of protest or complaint.  She did wake up about thirty minutes earlier than my alarm was set to go off at 6:30 am, because she urgently needed to pee, which she did in spite of a light drizzle.  

I got a comment and an email or two about using puppy pads when it rains.  I know a lot of people use these, and that's fine.  For city dwellers with smaller dogs, I can see how these would make life a lot easier for all involved.  And if that were my situation, or if Phoebe were a puppy, a senior dog, or were ill, I would happily make use of these pads.  As it stands, though, she is none of these things.  We have a suburban house with a spacious fenced yard, and she also goes on frequent walks, so as unfortunate as it is, until she can learn to use the toilet, she's going to occasionally have to go outside and pee in the rain.  I already scoop three litter boxes on a daily basis.  I'm not going to add picking up soiled pee pads to my list of daily chores unless there is a valid reason to do so.  Unfortunately for Phoebe, I don't consider her stubbornness a valid reason.  Also, even though those pads are treated with a pheremone that is supposed to encourage the puppy/dog to eliminate on them, there is still training involved in getting the dog to actually use them.  I just can't justify expending effort and time training Phoebe to do something I don't want her to do.  

On the up side, the weather is changing and as of November 1st, our rainy season will be essentially over.  So in a few more weeks this should be a moot point anyway.  Meanwhile, if it rains during the day, Phoebe will be spending the nights in her crate.  Fortunately, she doesn't really mind this all that much.  


Vet Visit

Phoebe went in for an unscheduled vet visit this morning.  As far as I know she is fine, but in the past ten days she has peed on the floor three times in the night.   This is really not like her, and if it hadn't coincided with some very rainy days (as I've already written, Phoebe really does NOT like to go out and dispatch her "business" in the rain) I would have been more concerned, but I was pretty sure that she was just being a snotface.  I consider basic housebreaking to be the first order of business with any new dog or puppy, and barring illness or advancing age, once mastered, I expect it to be solid.  At five years old, Phoebe is neither a puppy nor a senior dog, so I was, I'll admit, rather miffed, but neither was I particularly concerned that anything might be wrong.  The third incident, though, which happened last night and was discovered at six thirty this morning when I awoke, concerned me.  

Phoebe had a persistent UTI and demodectic mange when I adopted her as a six month old puppy, and while she hasn't had any trouble with it recurring, it crossed my mind that a UTI might be the issue so we hustled through our morning routine and made it to our wonderful vet's office right as they were opening (and they kindly squeezed us in right away so that I was only five minutes later for work, bless their hearts!), to see what was what.  They took a urine sample (no blood in her urine thank goodness) and the urinalysis is pending (we should hear tomorrow morning).  While we were in there, I had them do baseline blood work as well as she hasn't had blood drawn since before she was spayed a week or two before I adopted her.

I've got fingers crossed that all is well with the blood work, and there's really no reason to think that it won't be, but I will admit that I am halfway hoping she does have a UTI or bladder infection, or something else minor, not life-threatening, and easily fixable) that could explain this recent behavior.  Nothing else would seem to, and I can't think of any other reason a solidly housebroken dog would suddenly "lose" her house training in this way.  (If anyone else can, please let me know!)  

I will of course post the results of the tests when I have them.  Meanwhile, Phoebe, as expected, is milking the oh-so-traumatic experience of an early morning vet visit for all it's worth.  

See what I mean?


Just me ...

... and my shadow.

This is one of those photos that I like for inexplicable reasons, since it isn't very good.  But I kind of liked the idea of capturing for posterity the shadow of the dog who is my  shadow.  Every step I take, this dog is right there with me.  It's a pretty fine way to go through life, now that I think about it.  

There are certain things that enrich a life ... and for me, as far back as I can remember, a good dog has been one of these.  Something, in fact, that I wouldn't know how to be without.  So in this, as in many other things, I am blessed.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


Confessions of a Nip-a-Holic

I know Olivia looks demure and lady-like, but at the risk of shattering her carefully constructed image, I will let spill that on occasion she does like to get all nipped out and party.  

So there you have it ... my little calico princess is in fact a closet nip-head.  She may never forgive me.  


Early morning walk in Indian Riverside Park

Anytime the pups and I visit my parents in the town of Stuart, Florida where I grew up, I make a point of taking them to Indian Riverside Park in neighboring Jensen Beach.  It's a beautiful waterside park situated on the Indian River Lagoon.  It has a walking path that loops along the lagoon, a fishing pier, picnic areas with grills, a banquet hall for weddings and parties, and public boat docks.  It's also dog friendly! 

The pups absolutely love it there, and let's face it ... if they're happy, I'm happy!  This past Saturday, my dad and I got up early and took just Tucker and Riley (my mom & dad's Bichon Frise) over to walk along the water and hopefully get some good pictures, which is much easier to do with fewer dogs.  I shot a bunch of pictures, and managed to get some that I was reasonably happy with.  

This is Riley.  My mom & dad's favorite "child."  Just kidding.  (Sort of.)

He really wanted the biscuit my dad had in his hand.  (Too bad he has a dirty face here.  He was overdue for his grooming because he had to have surgery on his left knee and hasn't been able to be bathed.  Fortunately he's recovering well and should be back up to full speed in a few more weeks.)

This is one of my favorite shots of the day.

Usually this fountain has a lot of little kids splashing in it.  (And a lot more of the fountains are actually turned on.)  But this early in the morning there was no one there.

So I took an opportunity to get a photo of Tucker against the mosaic tiles on the outer edge of the fountain.  I was hoping to get one where you could see his collar better since it's blue and green and would have tied in nicely with the color of the tiles.  Oh, well.

This is on the path next to the lagoon.  You can sort of see the water in the background through the trees.

Here you can see that the reason why Tucker appeared to be up in the trees is because I posed him on a low wall.  The beach and the lagoon are just on the other side, and many times I've seen dogs swimming there.  Tucker wasn't interested in getting wet ...

But it turns out he's pretty good at posing on walls.  

Then we walked on to the boardwalk leading to the fishing pier.

Always yield to Cresties.

Riley ... 

Riley on a wall. 
Overall, I think it was a successful outing.  Lots of photos shot, a handful that came out reasonably well, and two tired, happy pups at the end of it all.

What did you do with your dogs this weekend?