I took this shot the day we got Clyde. He was 9 weeks old and weighed 20 pounds. Obviously, this was also back when he still had his natural floppy ears and people thought he was a black lab. That lasted for a few weeks because he started gaining 5 pounds/week for months. Now he weighs 150 pounds.
Now, I make a distinction between “dog owners” and “dog people.” You can be a dog owner and not a dog person. Dog owners often call other dogs “it” instead of “he” or “she.” Dog owners are people who just have a dog kicking around the house. Usually it’s a lab. Maybe they walk it, maybe they don’t.
Close to the other end of the spectrum is the dog person.
They’re people like me who host birthday parties for their dogs, dress them in costumes, that sort of thing. They’re crazy about dogs and often do, uh, irregular things to show it.
There’s only one more extreme step on the dog craziness spectrum: the dog breeder. They’re especially nuts. I have known a number of them over time, and it’s amazing to me that they tend to believe their breed, the one they center their lives around, is the absolute best breed in the world. Actually that’s probably not extreme enough–they tend to think their breed is the best thing in the world.
It always amazes me that anyone would think a single dog breed could somehow be the best dog for everyone, but I hear that a lot from people who should know better.
German Shepherd people say shepherds are the best. Labrador people? Labs are the best. Of course, they might prefer a color (light or dark) and they’ll definitely say they’re the best dogs for kids. Golden Retrievers are the best, if you talk to “Golden” afficionados.
The crazy Chihuahua lady (whose trailer house was filled with about 30 Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes and smelled like an especially pee-soaked exhibit at the county fair) went on about how Chihuahuas are the most lovable, smartest, most fun to cuddle dogs around. Obviously she had never met Poncho, my great-aunt’s Chihuahua. He was a nasty little bastard who seemed to hate everyone except her. (I loved Dulce, our Chihuahua, and I like the breed quite a bit, but they aren’t for everyone).
The Great Dane maniacs I talked to before we found Clyde? Same deal. The Yorkie people? Same thing.
These people also, without exception, filled their houses with pictures and statues and paintings of their special breeds. They wore Great Dane shirts and Yorkie hats and had dog-themed cookie jars and neck ties–pretty much everything under the sun.
Karen, the really cool lady we bought Ivan (our Doberman) from, used to wear all Doberman stuff all the time (from her earrings to her shirt, to her socks, she was always decked out in Doberman gear). I love her, but she’s nutty as hell about Dobermans.
So what’s my point with all this? Well, I’m going to discuss the relationship between humans and dogs quite a bit in this blog, but for now, I have been considering the fact that so many dog maniacs believe that their breed is somehow the best dog for everyone.
But I have some news for you: there is no best dog breed.
It’s common sense, right? I’d think so, but it’s amazing how often people try to convince me that their breed is best.
Everybody has different lifestyles. We do different things. And not every dog breed excels at everything–in fact, that’s why humans developed different kinds of dogs–they all play different roles. I love Great Danes (at least I love Clyde, anyway, and I admire the breed for their gentle strength, among other things), but I’m sure not going to say they’re for everyone. They’re not. They might be statuesque and powerful, sleek and friendly, but they can reach pretty much anything they want throughout your house (including the top of the fridge).
And big dogs are dangerous. Clyde is careful around Gretel, Sally, and Gianna, but if he manages to step on one of them . . . well, he weighs 150 pounds.
Plus Great Danes eat and poop a lot! They’re expensive to feed, vet bills aren’t cheap. You get it.
Same deal for Chihuahuas, Yorkies, and other micro dogs (that’s what I call my tiny dogs). Many people assume they would be excellent kid dogs since they’re little and cute and kids love them. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Micro dogs have thin little bones and can easily be hurt by kids, so they often preemptively defend themselves by biting kids.
Of course we’re raising Gianna among our pack of 3 dogs, and she’s learning fast which dogs not to mess with. Sally bit her a few days ago when she tried to manhandle the poor old dog. Gianna cried and pulled her hand away, and now she’s a lot more careful about grabbing Sally. She’ll still just grab Clyde, but that’s fine since he doesn’t really care.
Okay, enough soapboxing for one morning. The next time someone says their breed is the best one, you know where this dog maniac stands. What about you? What’s your favorite breed? Why? Do you think I’m wrong?
The sky is white over Missoula today, and the cold has pulled back a bit. It has been cold enough that Clyde’s feet are all scratched up from the ice, so we have been forced to keep him inside most of the time. I am looking forward to taking him out again soon. So we also recently picked up Gretel, a Yorkshire Terrier puppy. She is independent, scrappy, and ferocious. She and Clyde get along really well, and even Sally thinks she is okay most of the time. She is tiny at this point, weighing in at about 1.8 pounds right now. When we got her, she was 1.5 pounds, which is what Sally weighed when we got her. Dulce weighed only 1.4 pounds when we got her, so they are all about the same size. I weighed Clyde at the vet again the other day, and he is still la solid 145 pounds. I think that will be his healthy adult weight.
Andrea Howe, of Blue Falcon Editing has been going through my manuscript the Child of the Myriad. It is interesting to work with an editor as opposed to (maybe I should say in addition to?) fellow aspiring writers. She line edits, taking advantage of Microsoft Word’s review abilities. This means she can add comments and make changes through the text without actually changing them. This gives the writer a chance to choose whether or not to use the edits (and makes it very obvious what changes the editor suggests).
I am excited to work with her–it’s not as though she is making huge changes or anything, but in such a big work it’s easy to lose track of things (some of which she is finding). I feel like after having her go through it, it is now ready to withstand the crucible of acquiring an agent and getting the beast published.
I need to run to the store and pick up a few things for dinner, as well as take Clyde out for some exercise. I must bring the camera to take some current pictures of him outside running around.
Last night Clyde woke us up with another bout of diarrhea. This is a terrible problem since he is so big and his watery diarrhea never seems to want to stop once it starts. At least this time he was fine throughout most of the night once his system emptied itself. Yay. So then when Melissa and I were getting ready for work he clung to both of us every second, as if being close to us would make him feel better (or make his butt hurt any less, I guess).
Of course the diarrhea returned as I was making coffee, so I put him outside, not thinking he would just plunk down in a nice watery puddle of last night’s diarrhea and cover his tail, hind legs, and back with it. So I waited until my brother showed up and planned to hose Clyde down with his help. Well, I then realized Clyde had already taken care of himself by licking himself sort of clean. I thought we would just take him to work with us since we were working only 3 blocks from the Vet’s office. So I brought him into the house again as I grabbed my stuff. Then Clyde threw up all over the kitchen floor (and of course it was pretty much his own diarrhea). Needless to say, it smelled fantastic. Tomorrow I will write about Clyde’s ladder incident . . .
Today Clyde turned 8 months old. He is now 33 inches at the front shoulder. His tail is 23 inches long and hasn’t grown for about a month. He weighs maybe 110 pounds, although I am not sure right now. He has been suddenly growing the last few days, thickening up and getting taller. Soon I will post some pictures I took today.
Apparently my blog only concerns dogs these days. Oh well, I guess, dogs are fun. So we have been teaching Ckyde how to walk on our treadmill this past week. He really gets the idea and isn’t afraid of it at all. Actually he isn’t afraid of most machines that make noise, at least around the house–the other day he flopped down against the vacuum while Melissa was running it across the carpet. It was as though he didn’t even know it was there.
Yesterday evening I had Clyde’s front legs on the treadmill and was trying to coax him to fully get on it –I use a blanket he wants to chew on to draw him onto the treadmill. While he seems to understand what I want, but can generally get to the blanket without putting all 4 feet on the platform. Here and there I had him on there and he would walk along, but it wouldn’t last too long, since he could pretty grab the blanket with his mouth. He is learning though, and I don’t think it will be too long until he is walking on it on his own without too much coaxing.
So then Sally comes along, winds up through his legs and tries to get on the treadmill. She always wants all the attention and usually wants to prevent him from getting any (she also always tries to prevent him from doing fun stuff like play with a toy or ball or now, apparently, the treadmill). As she tried to hop up onto it, I just decided to stick her up there.
In the past we tried to get Ivan, Dulce, and Sally all to walk on the treadmill (after Cesan Millan the Dog Whisperer demonstrated how to do it many times), but they were all too afraid of it and wouldn’t even touch the treadmill if it was moving. Ivan was especilly terrified of it. Anyway, last night, Sally just started running along and did it for about 20 seconds a few different times. It was amazing to see her just take to it in order to prevent Clyde from doing it. Of course I petted her and praised her, so she continued to do it. The only thing is that she didn’t yet understand that if she stopped moving the treadmill would kick her off the back end. nd being as she only weighs 7 pounds, it tossed her off pretty fast. She didn’t get hurt or anything, but it was funny.
Hopefully soon Clyde will be walking along on the treadmill on his own (wihout interference from Sally). We shall see.
Clyde turned 6 months old today! He is now a little over 80 pounds, stands 30.5 inches at the front shoulder, and his tail is now 21.5 inches long. He seems to be about done teething and has suddenly calmed down even more. He is much easier to deal with (he isn’t chewing on stuff and listens a little better without the obsession of constantly needing to chew). I have been taking him to the dog park almost every day, which has done him a lot of good too–he is very social with both people and dogs.
Clyde is now about the same size as Ivan was, although good old Ivan weighed 100 pounds for most of his life, including at the end after he bounced back on Prednizone. Ivan was an inch taller in the front end than Clyde, but tapered down to his tail where Clyde’s back legs are taller than his front. It’s amazing how fast Great Danes grow.