Social Media: Friend or Foe ?

The answer - I don't know.

Disclaimer: This post is not related to rescue directly. But it will point you to rescue related posts if you read on. It however might be an interesting read anyway, and I would love to hear your  thoughts.

Very recently, I deactivated my Facebook account. I don't know if or when I will return to join the circus.  I thought I would miss it you know? I thought I'd have the jittery fingers, the irate reactions, the withdrawal headaches and all that fun stuff and finally succumb to the Social Media giant and it's invincible-ness (word? no.). But I don't. I honestly do not care, and it feels great. Kahlua still has his account, but we have signed in once in the last week amidst battling Turbo Tax to file our taxes one night because face it - that stuff gets boring quick.

Ofcourse there are a million pros to Social Media. Specially in the world of animal rescue where the power of the FB share can mean life or death for a shelter dog. (Other ways to help are Transport, Donations, Volunteering, and more..). And, I cannot emphasize enough what it means to have Social Media at your disposal when you live 10,000 miles away from your family, and your closest friends are scattered all over the world. If I do rejoin the bandwagon, it will be for these two reasons.

But I have a theory on how things like Facebook can affect your psychology and your mental health and I shared it with some of my colleagues this morning and they too had great inputs. It was great having a conversation about the world of Social Media with an intelligent group of technically sound and well informed people, most of whom have college degrees in something related to computers and programming, and see that they too share similar concerns.

First off, kids. They no longer go out to play. They do not experience other kids, fresh air, a football, a frisbee or whatever other strange object that might bring amusement. I don't think its healthy mentally and physically to be constantly battling flying creatures with some vivid high tech gun or well lit sword and calling it a game. (Please excuse my lack of knowledge of games - the only thing I ever played was Super Mario, and Tetris. Even today, my very close  to new Nintendo Wii is used about once a year to play Tennis when my overseas friends visit and we have had a few too many and then some more.).

Next, adults. How many 'friends' do you have on FB ? How many of those actually call you - yes, how many actually use that phone to make a real phone call on  your birthday ? And I am bad at this myself. Very. I had also become of the frame of mind that wishing someone on FB, was what made it official. Just like wedding invites these days. I think it's cheesy to have your wedding as an 'Event' on FB. Yes, I do, and you can judge me for it.

More, adults. What's your FB personality ? Oh come on, we all put our best paw forward on FB ! We all showcase the best events in our life - weddings, babies, puppies, trips abroad and all the good stuff. I am guilty of this too! My colleague had a very interesting theory of how this can affect one's audience, for the worse. People tend to compare these 'FB lives' to their real lives, and might tend to feel worse about themselves. It's easy to forget that people are on FB who they choose to be on FB. They choose to showcase those events. This does not mean that they have the most perfect, most beautiful lives that their Timelines show!

Even more, adults. Would you really, and I mean in the offline world, be aware of what 400+ people say or think? Would you really have that much connectivity, that much insight into someone's 'comments', 'likes' or other such preferences ? No. Should you care what they think, now that you do because you are on FB? No you shouldn't. But you do! Because you are human. So yes, if someone was rude to you on FB, it might affect you negatively even if this someone is not someone you really care about in the real life. I guess my point is there is all this extra baggage that you wouldn't otherwise carry. FB wars, Cybercrime, all that good stuff.. ! You become party to all this because of your constant online presence and accessibility.

I honestly believe that we are slowly and knowingly (yet, ignoring-ly) moving toward some sort of crazy online world domination. Like being in a Sci-Fi film where the major Social Media and Search giants of today, will use all of this information to control our every move. And I am not sure there is a solution. I am not even sure that this is a problem. Weird much ? I don't know. Maybe it's what's supposed to happen - like evolution ?

The best part about being offline, I think happened to me today. I got news that it was someone's birthday and my offline self had to get her phone number to send her a text message to wish her. And you know what? I absolutely LOVED doing it.  And I am sure there is more to come :) It's already begun, with personal email exchanges, phonecalls, and whatsapp messages from overseas. One on one meaningful conversations. No extra unwarranted comments etc.

Alas, the bittersweet symphony here is that I can't share this post on FB, which was where about 90% of my traffic came from. Still, I'm hoping people will somehow find this and it will strike a chord somewhere.

Puppies of the Humankind

This is all over the internet, but I still don't think it's talked about enough, so I decided to write about it. And I have been meaning to for a while but I guess the topic found it's way into the depths of my subconscious until a little girl, with outstretched arms, and all the love in the world to offer, came charging toward Kahlua yesterday bellowing "Puppppyyyyyyyy". Hmm.. familiar much ?

Kahlua believes, that the solution to all things scary is to hide behind Mom. This makes me one of the more fortunate fur parents. Do you have a dog that would react differently ? How do you deal with such situations?

Children maybe God's gift to mankind, or God in disguise, or little angels or whatever..but the truth is they move unpredictably, at high speeds,  emit loud sounds and are often found zooming around on these loud, strangely shaped monsters with wheels. Heck, they scare me, why wouldn't they scare a dog ?

If you are a parent (the non fur kind), I request you, please, teach your children to respect a dog's space. I know some parents who do a wonderful job of this. Their kids come up to me and say "May I pet the puppy?" first. We take it from there and these kids never, ever, enter his personal space. They even understand that shelter puppies often have fears that we as humans cannot comprehend. I've met kids who time and again have tried to befriend my baby but they do it in baby steps. They accept when he chooses to hide under a table when he sees them. They even feel a little bad, but they still understand. They understand because either they have dogs of their own, or their parents explained  to them to approach with caution, if they must indeed approach and always ask the human first.

On the other hand, I've encountered kids who notice that their bike or the little scooter that they so confidently whizz by on, is scaring my pup, and they choose to come closer and at higher speeds, to gain some sort of silly thrill out of a poor creature's fear. This is when I need to step in and request the child to please wait while we leave the scene and go the opposite way. Who is raising these kids like this ? And why ? (The problem in this situation, in my opinion, is bigger than 'just' thriving on the 'pleasure' of scaring an already scared puppy.)

My point is that an animal's space needs to be respected as much as a human's. Just because we are human does not mean we have some sort of natural right of way. Infact, we have the more complex emotions in place to actually 'yield' right of way to those more in need. Unfortunately, not many people actually think like this and then accidents happen. What would you do if I sat by you, for an hour, and kept jabbing you with a pencil. You'd go Hulk on me, correct ? What would you do if some unfamiliar person came charging at you screaming unintelligible words? That's exactly how a dog feels when his/her personal space is invaded. Let's break the notion that all dogs are natural nannies. We need to recognize that it is not true and children and dogs need to be introduced to each other in a positive environment. The dog needs to associate the child with happiness, and not fear. We respect that there are humans who are scared of dogs. Why can't it be accepted that it can be the other way round too ?

I don't mean to blame anyone or sound like some self righteous animal freak. These are things that I did not know before I adopted Kahlua. So I understand that some people and some kids don't know that they are scaring the dog. And if they did, they would check their actions. Hence the post. I want to talk about this more. I want this to be spoken about more. I want to spread this message as far and as wide as I can. So please help me.. please use the share buttons below this post.. you might just be preventing yet another puppy of the human kind from being hurt, and a puppy of the puppy kind from suffering the consequences.

Image Credit:

Serene Sunday- Kahlua says Happy St. Pa(w)trick's Day!

Alright everyone, Mom is a little busy today so I'm doing the responsible thing and updating you all on her behalf. Tell me - why is everyday not Sunday? 
Mom and I went on the most wonderful hike today. It was not very long, but look how lovely!


  Today is St. Pa(w)trick's day and I would like to wish you a happy one! Be green, enjoy yourself but also be safe, ok ? Many happy tails depend on you.
I am SO pretty in green! I'm all set to go out and celebrate, but hey look at the beautiful guy below! Don't you want him to find a safe home on this special day ? Did you know, the animal shelter is waiving all adoption fees for Pitbulls today ? Mom says Pitbulls have the most beautiful smiles. I feel a little green when she says that, but you know what? I secretly agree.  Some of my closest friends are Pits! Go get yourself one, and complete your family today!

Friday Fleatles: How can I help ?

Today's title is based on one of the Text From Dog jokes. Here it is -

Thank God it's the Fleatles!

Anyway, let's ignore my poor sense of humor for the better of all mankind, and get to talking about today's topic: What are the different ways to help the cause of Rescue ? What can I do ?

The first and most obvious thing is - adopt! But I won't go into detail about this because there are lots avenues where you can get this information. The local animal shelter, rescues in your area, your local radio station are just a few.

The second thing that you probably already know of,  is to foster. I have a lot of acquaintances who do foster and who write about their experiences too. Fostering is great and really means you're saving lives, making space at the shelter, rejuvenating a dog's life (and yours). It is a very selfless deed. Another advantage to fostering, specially for novice pet parents like myself is that it actually allows you to experience the joy of having an animal, and also the responsibility associated with it, without actually making a lifelong commitment. Before some heckles are raised let me make my statement crystal clear - I am not saying fostering is not a commitment. It is a means to allow yourself to actually find out if you are a good pet parent, and if this is what is really good for you and the dog; without there being a case of owner surrender, and all the negative implications it has. In the event that you do actually figure out, that it's not for you, the responsible and adult thing to do is dedicate yourself to finding that forever home (a great one) or a better foster home, and accept gracefully that the time is not right for you.

So now what ? You still want to help the cause, your heart is in the right place - what do you do ? Lots ! Here goes -

Take your time... and give it to them.
Visit your local animal shelter's website and fill out their volunteer application. There is a need for all types of people with all kinds of callings. If you are not really experienced with animals, but are a people's person, you can be a 'greeter'. Are you a great event organizer ? You're needed at adoption events. There is a plethora of options on the website. Usually, the shelter interviews you and takes you through an orientation process. If you factor  even a few hours each week into your routine, you are helping the cause. You're helping the animals find homes.  Time is essential and the clock is ticking, specially for shelter animals. Donating your time, is helping save lives.

Sit Happens
Are you experienced with animals ? Did you do a behavioral training class with your own pup? Can you teach basics like "Sit", "Down", Stay, "Heel" ? Use that knowledge to train a shelter dog. Knowing basic commands will help the dog become more adoptable and find it's home. Show off the dog's skills at adoption events you take it to.You might just be able to find that forever home!

Love that Lens?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It is not unheard of, that a great picture has resulted in an adoption. My inspiration behind writing this is Betsy Sasnett. Betsy is a talented photographer who donates huge amounts of time and effort to the cause. She goes out to shelters in the area to photograph adoptable animals and showcases them on her website. You will see Betsy at adoption events, tirelessly taking pictures of people and their pups and donating her proceeds to rescues in need. You can do the same. Check with your local shelter if they need their animals photographed. With today's World Wide Wildfire and the power of the FB Share, you may just save a life!

Do you dabble ?
In web programming? Know a little http ? You can help maintain your shelter's website.

Is your pen mightier than your sword ?
Do you have a way with words? Help write up descriptions of the dogs you help train or simply  those that catch your eye at the shelter. Did they do anything particularly cute?(they always do!) .. write it up with a couple of catchy sentences and unleash it on Facebook.

"Girls I'm going to Harvard!"
"You mean like on vacay ?? Let's all go..ROADTRIP!!"
[I originally just wanted to title this "Roadtrip", but it's my third coffee of the day and a scene from one of my favorite movies "Legally Blonde" popped into my head.. so you had to bear the brunt of the combination. Also, I ain't going to Harvard just yet. *sigh*]
I'm talking about transport. Today, geographical separation is no deterrent (The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman). Rescues can pull urgent dogs from across the country and adoptions can cross state boundaries. You can help get pups from shelter to safety. It's easy! Each trip is divided into multiple legs and each leg is on an average 80 miles long each way. Take a couple of friends (depending on how much four legged cuteness you need to transport).. make a day of it! You get to meet some really nice people.
One place to start is the Compassionate Animal Rescue Team.
Here is some of my precious cargo from some of my trips with my bestie Nandita who shares my craze for canines!

Money for something, and your tax for free
I should stop with the bad titles and the coffee. But hey - donate! All shelters will give you a receipt for that time of year. Itemize it under tax free donations. Most rescues and shelters have wishlists on Amazon or on their website. Put a smile on someone's face and make a few tails wag by shipping a bag of dog food or flea and tick meds. Spring time is puppy time - so keep this in mind. Many shelters will be having some sort of "stuff the crib" type donation now. Contribute!

Confessions of a Shopaholic
Shop to help! Can it get any better than this ? Look for websites that donate part of their proceeds to animal rescue. One such website is the Animal Rescue Website. They have stuff from all over the world. Trust me, if I had a dollar for the number of times something "Made in India" turned up at my doorstep and I laughed (because hey.. i'm Indian.. I don't just laugh at a whole country.), some rescue would be getting a few bags of food today!
Order checks and address labels from the ASPCA. Looking for a Car ? Get a Subaru! They donate part of their proceeds to the ASPCA. All the dogs on their advertisements are adoptables/rescues.

And last but probably the most important
Are you resourceful? Can you network? Can you recognize that someone's need is someone else's superpower? Connect the people. Your strongest resource is the people you know, their strengths and their abilities - you never know when someone can help your cause. Talk to people at events, network, tell them about rescues you've touched upon, share contacts, introduce people to people. Never rule out a person or a possibility. The grapevine is more powerful than you know.

Let me zip it now, but not before I bring to your notice a business, with wonderful people who have several times  helped the cause:

Out U Go
Need a professional and trust worthy pet sitting service ? Reach out to the Elizabeths at Out u Go!  Yes there are two of them, and I'd trust Kahlua's life with them.

Tick-Free Tuesday - End Dog Fighting.

I received this in an email from the ASPCA. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am a strong supporter of the ASPCA. Please help end dog fighting by reading below, donating if you will, and spreading the word.

 They're Fighting for Their Lives

Young puppies bred for fighting are often forced into lives of abuse and neglect. Tethered to short, heavy chains or locked away in tiny cages, they often receive inadequate care and little socialization. They can go for days without food or clean water. They never experience unconditional love.

When dog fighting dogs are old enough to fight, many die of blood loss, shock and exhaustion. Others are unceremoniously killed for losing a fight.

Even when they’re lucky enough to be rescued, dog fighting victims face a difficult path to recovery. Despite the best efforts of expert rehabilitators, not all dogs rescued from fighting make it.

From the very beginning, these dogs are fighting for their lives.
But with your support, we can put an end to dog fighting.

The entire ASPCA is deeply committed to saving dogs from fighting.
The Blood Sports Unit of our Field Investigations and Response Team helps carry out criminal investigations, providing expertise in large-scale rescues and raids including the Michael Vick case and a Bronx bust less than a year ago.
Our experts provide critical training to animal control officers, police officers and veterinarians across the country to empower them to take action against dog fighters.

Behind the scenes, our legal team works to ensure dog fighters face tough consequences, and our government relations staff is pushing hard for tougher dog fighting laws.

With your help, the ASPCA can remain a leader in the battle against dog fighting, working to rescue animal victims and prosecute offenders.

Help us in our fight to stop this barbaric form of cruelty and all others. Together we can save countless animals from lives of abuse.

Weekend Wags: Another pup? I guess not.

First off let me thank you for reading my posts and humoring my thoughts and all that good stuff. I am elated because Google Analytics shows me I have 250 page views already.

Next, allow me to clarify the title of this post. I want another pup. I want many another pups. But today my Kahlua put his paw down.

We had the most wonderful afternoon at my friend Sheila's house. Sheila is a wonderful human being and a rather brave one, because she is fostering an 11 week old puppy. Her personal dog is a beautiful, wonderful, calm and very affectionate Great Dane named Shadow.
Beautiful, shadow all puppied out!

I say she is brave because an 11 week old puppy is a LOT of work and it's no mean feat fostering one.

Meet Esme, a bundle of love and happiness who was found abandoned alone, and now is being fostered by my lovely friend. She is up for adoption through Last Hope Rescue Florida.

Gosh Kahlua, go home already so I can sleep!

She is one lucky pup to have found such a great foster family, but remember, she wants her forever family. Do you want to be her forever home?

Loving foster mom Sheila, and sweet Esme.

Kahlua & Esme. Esme is great with other dogs, of all shapes and sizes!

Auntie Sheila, I love you!

Esme goes outside to do her business. She is very play motivated. Food and play motivation automatically makes a pup very trainable.
Can you see anything, Shadow? Is she having more fun than us ?

Puppies are addictive. Puppies are little love bundles. So ofcourse I was all over Esme. Now I feel like I was cheating on Kahlua, but come on.. he is affectionate toward other humans too! Sometimes he even forgets about me .. and that is (not) ok.

Look Kahlua, your mom loves ME now! muhahahah!

So, Kahlua's reaction to this puppy love phase of mine, was a loud whine and a very puppy puppy-face. My boy was actually, well I don't really like the word 'jealous' .. let's say.. possessive.

I do honestly believe that pups go through all these emotions just like we do. And how do you explain to them that you love them, unconditionally, even if you can love another pup?  I am not sure you can! Which is why I've reached the conclusion that I probably cannot adopt another pup. (I had an inkling about this when I briefly fostered a dog, but that's a story for another post.) Maybe in the future there can be a family dog, but another dog who is solely mine, like Kahlua is, is probably a ship that has sailed.

And I am ok with that! Why shouldn't he feel this way ? I am the only family he has ever known! I'm the only thing he has to call his own.

Ma, you are obnoxiously embarrasing.

His happiness is way more important to me than my desire to adopt again anytime soon. And who knows, maybe will grow out of it ? (Do they ever grow up?)

Mysteriously Misaligned Stars

Astrology - Do you believe in it ? I am very confused about my beliefs in this one because I come from the land of where people, who are not me, believe that stars determine everything.  Right from if you are the bane of your family's existence,because the exact time of your birth is just plain unfortunate owing to some strange planetary occurrence; to you having  the modern day Midus touch because you were born when Jupiter was doing a little happy dance.

My point is -Astrology- I don't understand it, but there are people who do, and people who study it, and people who calculate the correct time for every move of their life based on it.

Btw- this post is not canine related.

I've had a string of misfortunes lately. Nothing very bad. Just one of those times where everything sort of happens together. The only way I've been taught to rationalize it is this: A small misfortune that happened to you, has warded off something much larger, or much worse that was about to come your way.

When my second 'bad thing' happened, and I told Sambuddha about it, he said "I know you don't believe in all this, but listen to me, just be vigilant at all times, you are going through an Astrologically bad spell". I've been told this before, and in India it was a common custom to 'rid the evil' by performing certain rituals, one of which my mom would do a slightly 'fast-forwarded' version of - because like me, she is not exactly a believer, but hey.. her daughter was having a spell.. so you bring out the salt .. and you do that thing you do, right ?

So, I asked Sambuddha - when does it end ? He said.... just wait it out.. it will. Hmm.. to a girl who when looked at her birth chart (the one time that she did), it looked like a crossword puzzle gone very wrong. Why was the chart made ?  Because every Hindu family does it. Just as every Hindu man has a thread ceremony when he is young. Except, my dad had his the day before his wedding otherwise he wouldn't be allowed the luxury of holy matrimony. And where is that thread now, Papa ? I don't know, child, I lost it the day after the wedding. Hmm.. so my dearest Sambuddha, you need to tell me exactly when it will end - or give me a formula, or a method.. something!

And I thought it was over, until I was in a minor car crash today. I am seriously upset about it. I'm still paying off this car. It's my first real car and I love it with all my heart. The whole thing was so unnecessary. But it makes me think, had I left the house a minute later, would this have been avoided? I had been thinking of stopping at the laundromat all morning to check my balance, but in the end, I just decided it could wait. Crash.

I have always believed that all events are linked. All people are linked. Everyone you know, you have met for a reason. But are there certain times in your life where the stars are so grossly misaligned that every hand dealt to you-sucks ?  If something can go wrong, it will ?

Do you believe in Astrology ? Do you believe that the planets and the stars are sitting up there playing a morbid game of hopscotch wherein suddenly they decide  to line up, and screw you over? And what is the average time frame in which they decide to un-align themselves ?

And please, my stars, enough is enough.. this is just not funny anymore.

Rest Insured

Pet Health Insurance - Should I ? Shouldn't I ? He's just a puppy so he is healthy. Maybe later when he's older and health problems start creeping in.

Yes, all those thoughts crossed my mind too. But in my opinion pet insurance is a must, and the sooner you start, the better. Why ? It is easier to have a decent plan at a decent premium for a healthy pup with no existing issues. Note, Obamacare does not apply to puppies.

I looked into a multitude of options and decided on ASPCA. I pay $20 a month for a $100 deductible and accident and illness coverage.  The per incident limit its $1500 and annual limit is $8000. So, for $240 a year paid monthly, we are insured for upto $8000.   There are options for wellness coverage too, but when I calculated the cost of Kahlua's annual and semiannual exams against the cost of the premiums for that plan, I did not find it beneficial. I urge you to do your own calculation based on what the quote shows for your baby's age, size and general health situation.

ASPCA has been good to us so far. I am a strong supporter of ASPCA. What do you do when you get an envelope in the mailbox with a sad and VERY cute puppy picture inside, equipped with a business reply envelope ? You put a check in it, and send it right across. (It disturbs me that when it is for a human, I don't exactly have the same speedy response.)
She does, she puts checks in them. And puts return address labels with puppy pictures. She does.

Back to insurance. The ease of claim submission, the response time, and the fact that they do not screw you over like my dental insurance did me (rage), make them a good choice. I simply scan and email them the claim with the itemized invoice the vet gave me. In a few weeks, I have an email explaining what they covered, and a check in the mail. (Which, I photograph with my bank's fancay shmancay app, and volia .. chaching on my end!).

It's not 100% coverage, but it is something. I agree that bad incidents happen, and can go upwards from $1500. My paws are crossed that nothing bad happens to my Kahlua, but in the unfortunate event that we do have such an incident, we will be grateful for even that much coverage (for which we paid much less in premiums).

By the grace of the universe, we have not had any major mishaps thus far (please knock on wood for us?).
Please ?

 But my baby is a baby and yes he will come home from daycare with a cough every once in a while, or a puncture wound, or get into something at the park and get a stomach bug.

Expenses add up. Quoting one of those insurance ads on TV, "Chances are, you're not made of money". It's easier to factor $20 into a monthly expense than say $500 as a sudden expense (that will not be reimbursed.. ever) It maybe hard to front that cost but you can beg, borrow (and not steal) and arrange it somehow and pay it back later with the insurance money.

So, do the math, and make the choice!

Mom thinks Angry Bird bandages are a good idea. Is she normal?
Mom, you are awful to take pictures at this painful time in my life.

Fun phrases from everywhere

You know those one liners that often catch your eye and make you smile ? Or even laugh out loud ? (No, I will not use "LOL" on my blog. I am old enough to have used Audio Cassettes and Video Tapes as a kid, so no. )

I just decided to share some of the fun stuff I've read around town, or on the Internet.

Unattended children will be given expresso, and a free puppy.
I saw this at Mojo's Backyard and at Paws Pet Boutique.  Ofcourse both times led to good conversation. Please check out both places right away if you haven't. They're wonderful, and they're local so support them! 

A dog wags its tail from the heart.
Raise your hand if you went "Awwwwwww" ! Also please post a comment because I can't see your hand. 
This one, I saw at Doggie Dayz Daycare and Training. Have you ever wondered what happened to those quiet, calm evenings that you used to have before you adopted your pup ? Well you can have them back again! Send your pup to DDayz and upon return,  he/she will make a bee line for the bed.

My blood type is Coffee.

I bought this wall decal from  Etsy. A fun website where artists can showcase and sell their creations.

Keep Calm and Blame Malfoy.

I saw this on a Tee on RedBubble. The Tees here are also designed and shipped by real people as opposed to mass manufactured. So think about getting your next wacky Tee from this website.  You can tell I'm a serious PotterHead! Are you ?

Dog Hair is a condiment in our home.

Yep, that's right. Also available on Etsy.

Dog friendly, beware of People.

Available at Paws! Also, if someone gifted this to you, either they really love your dog, or you have something to think about. We own this sign, so go figure :) haha!

If my dog doesn't like you, I don't like you.

This is a cold hard fact. Deal with it.

Did any of this make you smile ? I sure hope it did! Did you read any fun stuff around town you'd like to tell us about ?

Weekend Wags:Mistakes of an Instant Mother

You know that giant switch you have, buried deep in your gut? Wait, you do? Because I didn't know I had one. Until a small, furry, 10 week old labradane came along and took charge of my 'motherboard'. (Sorry, the bad jokes are a result of being a nerd for way too long now. Can't teach an old dog new tricks. Or can you ? hmm.. #FuturePostMaterial).

I did not grow  up with any petst5  (pets - sorry, Kahlua just threw his Kong at my keyboard.). I knew nothing about Dogs. To the shameful extent, that I did not even know chocolate was bad for them. (Don't worry, nothing bad happened.) But that's my point - everyday you learn something new.

However there are days, when you look back and say - I will do this differently with my next one! #InstantMother And I think, today is one such day.

When Kahlua came home, it took me but a few days to realize, he was a different puppy. He was not your typical, launch yourself at anything strange that runs and chase it, puppy. He was a scared puppy, and I was a clueless new mom. Yes, I had some very wonderful, experienced, helpful people around who guided me and I am ever so thankful for them. (Karan- My strongest support system, Sambuddha - grew up with what 10-12 Fox Terriers in India, Nadine - had Jenny Dog in Germany, Angela- my magic horse woman. I had not discovered my other wonderful magic woman - Michelle of Doggie Dayz just yet).

My natural course of action was to protect him, from everything. #InstantMother. The only times we went out - were to do business. I was very lucky when it came to house training - he trained himself. I had nothing to do with it. We did not really go to the park. I provided him with no stimulating experiences. This was my first major mistake with him. He stayed in his shell. I stayed feeling like the worst mother ever. To the extent, that I'd  started doubting whether the life I was giving him was in anyway better than what he had at Best Friend's Dog Rescue (the rescue where I adopted him from).  I seriously felt that at the shelter, the poor pup atleast had an open space to run around in, and his sisters for company, rather than being in an apartment with us.

One day I decided - a trip to the dog park was in order - it was a disaster. But, it was a disaster in my mind. It was a stride of progress for Kahlua. He witnessed other dogs playing, other people with their dogs and just outdoors in general. However, he mostly stayed under the park bench. Or hid behind me. I hugged him and cuddled him. In my mind, I was comforting him, telling him it was ok. All would be well.  #InstantMother. This was my next major mistake with him.

When we walked outside the apartment, he shied away from everyone. I failed to understand. People loved the new little black puppy. But he wanted nothing to do with them. He peeked at them from behind me, worried. If he did not want to go in a particular direction, would sit stubbornly, in his tracks. He even quivered with fear. I had no idea what to do. Bewildered, I would just pick him up, and carry him around like a baby. #InstantMother. Huge mistake. He was going to grow into a massive dog! But we would deal with that later, right ? Even bigger mistake.

Every pup is different. It was my misconception that puppy equals always playful and crazy. It was my misconception that all puppies rather be outside than inside the house. It was my misconception that all puppies are rambunctious and will chase after everything. Usually, the problem is at our end of the leash.

Kahlua is one of the most intelligent people I know. He is smarter than most human beings I know. He is cautious, and honestly, I am grateful that he doesn't chase after anything and everything that moves, launch himself into poisonous plants, eat suspicious things outdoors (indoors? different story). I am even grateful he is wary of strange people. Outdoors, he will approach with caution, or not approach at all.  (indoors? different story)

It took me a long time to accept that my pup, is an introvert. And I don't know why, because I myself am almost exactly like this. He is absolutely happy with people he knows and loves, but takes time to warm up to new people. It is important to overcome one's misconceptions, and accept your pup for who they are. Just like you would, a child. This does not mean I did not love him then, and I do now. Absolutely not! This means, I was upset, thinking that I was doing a bad job, and my baby was unhappy. I was upset he didn't play freely like other dogs I knew. But this was my problem. I realized in time,  that we can find our own fun stuff to do. Yes, we need to get over our fear of all things outdoors, but we are happier playing indoors, there is nothing wrong with that. If we want to just hang out with each other at the dog park on certain days, and play with the other puppies on other days, that is fine too. There are no rules to happiness. This is our life together. There are no rules for fun!

What would I have done differently ?  exposed him to many more new experiences than I did at the puppy stage. Brought him everywhere with me like I almost always do now. Taken him to friends' places. Taken him on trails. Taken him to daycare. Taken him to parks (dog and human) to play fetch. Just.. anything that would be new and stimulating!

What else ?

When he showed fear, the right thing to do,  would have been, just to ignore it . Give him time. Walk around the park and let him follow me around. Let him sniff around, and let him realize, that this is all good. Everything is ok. I should not have pawositively reinforced the fear that he was already feeling. Not only at the park, but in all 'walks' of his life (quite literally).

When he parked his obstinate behind, as a puppy, I should have kept going in the direction I had originally intended. Me stopping, talking to him, picking him up was a signal to him that:
  1.  He could control me. He was the pack leader.
  2.  That there was indeed something to be scared about (if he was doing it out of fear).

Almost two years have passed now, and he is much much more confident, and his fear almost gone. He does like going to the park a lot, chase other dogs who are chasing tennis balls and distract them, walk on trails, go to restaurants and to the beach. He loves going with us to parks where there are large open spaces and play fetch. God knows he LOVES playing fetch inside the house (we don't encourage this for the sake of our neighbors), chasing the laser pointer in the patio etc. He runs confidently off leash alongside his human, and very well on leash too. He absolutely loves going to day care. At one of the boarding places, they tell me he loves playing in the pool. I try and expose him to as many new experiences as possible.

My fur baby is a smart, loving, playful pup. He used to live in a shell just after I rescued him. But just as soon as I learned to be at ease with myself, he started crawling out of it and turning into a pure goofball - and that's a great thing.  As long as he is healthy,  happy and well behaved, everything is a good thing.

Weekend Wags

Hi everyone! It's supposed to be a cold weekend (well, by southern standards !). What does that mean for us ? We get to stay in with hot chocolate and share pupdates ! So stay tuned.. Weekend Wags is coming up soon!