The Peeing Post

Newsletter for dog lovers who respect the dog's nature

Chief Editor: Mogens Eliasen

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Dear Dog Friend,

Summer camps are ready! I got all the important details in place, so we can do it. A couple of small details are still awaiting confirmation from third parties, but worst-case is a change of times in the schedules. The plans are thus called "tentative", but they are actually as firm as they can be, at least as all the dog training stuff goes and the accommodation.

We bring the dogs along to Birch Island Campground, located in interior BC, close to the Yellowhead Highway (HWY 5) between Kamloops and Jasper. Accommodation is

All meals and supplies are on your own - shopping is possible from the General Store (open also Sunday) just 2 minutes walk from the camp, or in the nearby small towns. There are facilities on site so you can keep your food cool or frozen.

For schedules and other details, please see http://k9joy.com/dogtraining/campcourses.html. As announced earlier, there is room for everybody, although I want to reserve the weeks July 13-20 and August 17-24 for people who are former students of mine or Human Dog Leadership Inc. The weeks July 6-13 and August 10-17 are open for everyone, also people who have never done training with me or HDL before.

The tuition fee for the training is US$190 (CAN$295) - for the entire week. Minimum number of participants is 5. There will be maximum 10 dogs participating in each course, though. (Please notice that I count dogs as participants - I don't care how many family members you bring along, as long as you take care them yourself…)

Please add to this what you need for accommodation. Birch Island Campground will charge you CAN$72 (US$46) for a tent for the week, CAN$108 (US$70) for an RV spot (with all hook-ups), and $192 (US$124) for a trailer you can rent.

Again, please check the details at http://k9joy.com/dogtraining/campcourses.html

 

When the time calls…

I recently received an e-mail from a very good friend of mine. He had a friend who had a sick dog and wrote:

"A very good friend has a 13 year old black Labrador with bone cancer. She - the friend - has been through several major traumatic events in the past 2 years. She sees the dog as her daughter and is reluctant to let the dog die - she also openly admits that she is prolonging the inevitable primarily for her own needs. Currently she has to carry the dog outside to poop etc...but believes that as long as she sees an occasional tail wagging, the dog has some quality of life left... and she will continue medicating the dog until she knows the time is right to let it go. She doesn't know exactly how she will know the time is right...but believes that when it is...she will know.

I remember some of your views on this subject, but would appreciate - if you have the time - hearing them again! I'm sure you must also have some good resource material that I would welcome, e.g., what drug is normally used? what would the dose be for a medium size Labrador? I have mentioned to my friend - who is a doctor - that perhaps her greatest single act of love for her dog, could be to release the dog herself. What experience have you in this area?"

Since the question is of a nature we all need to have a strong opinion about so we don't leave our dogs in unnecessary pain because we cannot make up our minds, I want to share my reply with all of you:

I disagree with this friend of yours. A wagging tail does not mean happiness. It means "positive expectations"! It says nothing about those expectations being met or not....

I can point to quite a few need barrels that just cannot get any release...

My personal parameter has been - and is - this one: I want to see that the dog can enjoy some kind of hunting behavior and some kind of social interaction. In the moment any one of these goes "blank", the dog will enjoy peace in my arms immediately I am certain that I cannot change this.

Now, "hunting" for my 18-year old Bettemuir is currently reduced to Small Area Search and her treat ball. But she thoroughly enjoys those games, despite her crippling arthritis.

She also still enjoys interaction with us and insists on the rituals being followed around her medication time.

I know of a man whose dog was lame in the back. It could only move around with the body tied to a little buggy on wheels - to substitute for the hinds legs that plain simply did not work. This dog needed help with peeing and pooping. No problem - he helped out. But it could follow him of his walks, and it could use its nose for tracking, as long as the terrain was not too bad. When the front legs could no longer pull the rest of the body on a track on a soccer field, he let the dog sleep in...

Pjos, my own male, got deaf as Beethoven - which was a severe challenge to me (he was a top S&R dog...). He got a stroke that caused him to suddenly have a seizure that lasted for a few minutes. He had those once a week or so. But he could still do his searches and bark at people for a treat... The second stroke he got, however, left him lame in his entire right side, so he could only get around by being carried. No buggy could help.... His body could have lived another two years, but I did not let it happen. He was in eternity before his need barrels for searches could fill up again... It was 1997. The decision took me 10 seconds - mainly to confirm my understanding of the vet's diagnosis. He lived less than an hour with his lameness and never got to realize that he was "spoken for" in terms of joy in his life....

All my dogs before him have ended their lives on the same note: in my arms - before any fundamental need barrels could cause trauma by spill-over. And I will do it with every single dog I will ever take responsibility for. I cannot accept taking responsibility for an animal without also making sure that the balance of joy/suffering for the animal is way to the side of joy being predominant. Just a few "moments of hope" in the midst of constant misery does not cut it for my ethics.

I think your friend is outright cruel to that dog - from what you tell me...

I do not know the drugs, and regardless your friend being a doctor, I would let a vet do it. (I actually think is it illegal for her to do it herself... she does not have the license to get the drugs legally for that purpose and it could cause some severe problems for her career...)

What the dog needs the most in the last moment is her devoted attention to it. Not her attention to administration of some injections... (the vet should give 2 - one first to make the dog sleep, then a second one to stop the heart). The dog is far better off with her cuddling it (simple greeting), while somebody else takes care of the practical work. With her being there, the vet will for sure do a good job. If it is all done in her home, nothing more can be done to make it stress-free for the dog.

It is like making your will. You need to do that while you are still sane. Once your dog is past the point where life is enjoyable, you will not be sane, and you run a severe risk of letting the dog suffer, just because you cannot make rational and loving decisions when your sanity is gone…

 

Feeding

I got another question about feeding: "What do you do when your dog does not want to eat in the summer heat?"

Answer: NOTHING! Except for taking the food away!

Here is why: Your dog is a carnivore. It does not need food every day. In the summer, it needs far less food than in the winter. 80% of the energy we get through our food is used to maintain our body temperature, only 20% goes to muscle energy. For the dog, which has a higher body temperature than a human, even less goes to muscle energy, especially when the heat makes the dog lazy!

Further, the dog's gastrointestinal systems needs at least one day per week where it can rest. Digesting raw, uncooked food is tough work for the biochemical factory the stomach truly is. It takes a dog some 20-24 hours to digest a full meal, sometimes even more.

Compare that to your stomach - it can finish your supper well before midnight! So, your stomach gets to rest almost all night, until you "break the fast" with your breakfast (that is actually the origin of the English name for the morning meal!). How much rest was that? 6-8 hours! Let be conservative so you don't get too shocked by the conclusion and call it 6 hours. That is one quarter of the day. For every three 6-hour periods, your stomach gets one period of rest.

Convert to the dog's situation and you realize that the analogy is that your dog should have one fast day for every three days of food! Considering that the dog's digestion of raw food is far more energy consuming that our digestion of cooked food, this would be the minimum amount of fast days the dog should have!

Research shows that the optimal feeding schedule for dogs is one big meal every second day.

(I heard the screaming - and I ignore it.)

I will give you three situations to think about that prove this point:

  1. When I had three males and one breeding female, my males always volunteered a minimum of fourteen fast days when the bitch was in heat. They did not lose any energy - but did lose a few pounds they quickly gained again when the season was over. They were perfectly healthy and were happy to let their "love" get their food. They had more important things on their mind than food.
  2. When you feed a dog only once every second day and let it eat as much as it wants, it will eat less than what it would on an every-day diet. (I am talking about the total consumption of food, not the individual meals.) At the same token, it will show no reduction in energy, except the first 6-8 hours of the digestion where it wants to sleep. What this means is this: The dog can extract more value from the meals when you let it fill its stomach. This is exactly the opposite of what is the case with our stomachs! But you do remember that your dog is no monkey, right?
  3. A famous zoo in Denmark had a little pack of lions on a large property. The park made money from inviting tourist for car rides - just as in the famous parks in Africa. However, these lions had all kinds of small health problems, and the vet bills were huge. The owner of the park considered closing the park, on pure financial reasons. He then spoke to some of the keepers of other zoos and came to the conclusion that he should stop feeding those lions every day. Instead, he shifted to buying a cow every week - a whole cow! - and let the lions do what they wanted to do with that cow. It took them about two days to eat it. It took them at least another two days to digest. Three days were left to rest - with no food. Do I need to tell you that the only problem was that the vet lost a huge income source…?

I know, it is hard to believe! You see that little pooch sitting there, making you believe he is starved almost to death, just because he smells some delicious food from your table and really, really, really would like you to share!

Trust me - this begging is not driven by hunger. It is nothing more than a learned reaction you have trained into that dog yourself - probably without knowing it.

The sure way to get this kind of begging is by making a habit of giving the dog its food right after your own meal. All the books will tell you that you are the pack leader, so you eat first. When you are finished, the dog can eat.

Right. But the consequence is that the dog learns to recognize your eating as a signal to getting food itself! And there comes your begging!

It is easy to prevent this. You simply make sure that the dog never has a clue when it will be fed. It will happen some time, sure, but when YOU feel like doing it. And you should feel like doing it when the dog has done a good piece of work for you! It can be mid afternoon, or it can be midnight. Who knows?! Hopefully, not the dog!

Even if your dog already got the habit of expecting food at certain predictable times, you can normally break it in a few weeks by simply teaching the dog that a hunter's luck is never on schedule. (Did you ever know of a wolf that would catch a deer for dinner every day at 6:30?)

Cheers and woof,

Mogens Eliasen

 

If you have any comments or questions pertaining to this issue or in general pertaining to dogs, please respond - if I can find an answer for you, I will!

If you have any suggestions to contributions or contents of The Peeing Post, I will be happy to know about them. (Please no anonymous contacts, though...)

 

PS. Speaking of your will, then I strongly urge you to get that piece of paper in order. You know, if you don't, your family and your dog will pay a high price for your excuses! I speak of experience. When my wife died two years ago, she left a 16-year old will that wasn't updated. It was written at the time of her divorce from her first husband, and in the 6 months we had together in our short marriage, we were too busy "honey-mooning" for talking about death. But when she died of a stroke in my arms, we got no time to discuss anything. It was over - in a matter of seconds! She was in good health. We got no warning.

I got a furious legal battle out of that old will. I know that it did not represent what my wife wanted to have happening - but I had no way of convincing her family without going to court! Although my attorney told me I could win the case, I chose to let it go - but I most certainly don't want anybody I have positive feelings for to ever experience anything similar.

The facts are that you do not know how long time you have. The longer you wait, the greater the risk of your being amongst those 80% whose loved ones will have to live with the standard will the government will use for your estate if you did not make your own.

The simplest and least expensive way of getting your will in order is by signing up for a PrePaid Legal membership. It costs less than a dollar per day, gives you all kinds of legal services for free, including establishing and maintaining/updating your will every year. Whether or not you feel you need any legal protection of your rights, then please do yourself the favor of acquainting yourself with what you can get with a PrePaid Legal membership. I made my own experiences available at http://novasoljudicare.com/family where you can also access other people's experiences - I am certain you will find it worth your while to at least check it out. If you have any questions about it, you are welcome to e-mail me.