Tag Archives: dogs

Do you eat your way out of confinement?

My daughter has a new dog.  Dolly is sweet and cuddly, but there are problems with her roaming the house alone.  For one thing, there is another dog, one who is not exactly thrilled to have a newcomer taking away her status as “only child.”

Crating Dolly seemed like the answer.  It would separate the dogs while my daughter was away, preventing potential conflict.  Sounds like a good solution, right?  There was only one problem . . . a BIG one.  She cannot tolerate the confinement.

When she was left in a wire sided crate, she managed to open the door and get out.  My daughter found her loose in the house.  The next step was to try a plastic sided crate.  She couldn’t open the small door to it, but – believe it or not – she did manage to CHEW through the side of the crate!  She literally ate her way out.


Can you believe she ate through the plastic on this kind of crate?!

Confinement in the house is fine, because it is a bigger space, but that little box was not at all OK with Dolly.  After consulting a dog trainer, my daughter was told that she probably cannot be crated.

I could not help but think about how this applies to setting boundaries with eating.  We all have a need for some boundaries.  Without them, there is no feeling of control at all, and that feels awful.  But boundaries that are too confining are miserable and ineffective.

And, like Dolly, when the rules are too rigid, we too will “eat our way out.”  We all are different relative to the amount of wiggle room we need, but we are all similar in our need for comfort within the boundaries.  Some dogs do fine in crates – in fact they feel cozy and comfortable – while others like Dolly just need more room.

If you often find yourself eating your way out of your eating plan, you may want to ask if you need a different plan.  It just makes sense.


Hello, Dolly!

Is It Worth Getting Zapped To Eat That Treat?

Sometimes my ideas for blog posts come from very unlikely situations.  In this case, I was walking Stella (our Beagle-Australian Shephard mix).  She stopped at a crusty looking object to take a sniff.  As she picked it up in her mouth, clearly finding the disgusting thing absolutely delightful, I reached down to take it away.  I had no idea what it was, and worse still, where it had been.

It turned out to be a partially enjoyed rawhide chew, left by a neighbor’s dog for a later time.  The likely owner?  I guessed that it probably belonged to the brown Labra-Doodle whose house was a few steps away.  The chew toy was just on the border between this house and the one next door.  Logic dictated that Cocoa, the tiny 2 pound mini-dog next door, never laid teeth on the object in question.  He would not have been able to lift the 5 inch gooey strip.

If it belonged to Jasper the Labra-Doodle, there was a problem – for him that is.  The chew strip was located just beyond his electric dog fence, just out of reach enough to offer temptation.  As I gingerly tossed the icky thing back on his lawn, out of the “zap zone”, I began to think about food choices and how people decide whether or not to eat something yummy.

We make decisions all the time, consciously or otherwise – to eat it or not to eat it.  Sometimes the choice involves a food that has no nutritional value – but AHHH, it looks (or smells) so good! – and that invisible fence is there.  Is it worth the zap?  That is the question.

If the choice is unconscious, and we dash over the invisible fence to grab the tasty morsel, the zap can be surprising as it appears out of nowhere.  “I shouldn’t have done that.  What WAS I thinking?!  I blew it (cheated, stepped out of bounds, etc.).”  This often feels much like a dog must feel as it temporarily forgets the boundaries of its invisible fence to chase a squirrel or retrieve a temptation from outside its limits.

A more conscious look at the choice would weigh the pain of the zap against the pleasure of enjoying the treat.  “Is the pleasure worth the calories?  Is it worth any disappointment I might have about myself?”  The bigger the potential indulgence, the bigger the potential zap.  Making more conscious choices will minimize the jolt, and maybe even more importantly, the consequences will not be surprising.

The bottom line:  It helps to take a good look at that tempting tidbit.  Is it worth crossing that line, or is it the human food equivalent of a crusty old slimy rawhide chew?

Our dog thought this was worth the consequences. Hmmm – half a garlic summer sausage vs. a gentle, entertaining scolding?? Not much of a choice for a Black Lab!

Can You Keep Life “Fresh”?

There are two tents and eight 20-somethings in my 87-year-old parents’ yard.

As I pull in the driveway, a complete stranger greets me as he makes his way back to the campsite.

Oh, yeah, I thought.  My mom mentioned that my nephew and his friends camped there last night after a concert.  It did not occur to me that they would still be there at 3pm when I drove in for a visit with my niece, in town from Colorado for a short visit.

I wondered what I would say if my future grandchildren asked to camp with 7 friends I didn’t know – in my yard.

That’s my mom.  You have no place to stay, or you need someone to hear your struggles?  Look no further.  All are welcome!

I appreciate the comfort of routine, and as empty nesters, Peter and I have quite a nice routine established.  At the same time, I realize how important it is to be comfortable with disruption of that peaceful, predictable pace.  I always want to invite a little “messy” into my life – the good stuff that isn’t predictable.

I think this takes a continued willingness to actively deviate from life patterns, in other words to practice it.  Left to our passive tendencies, don’t most people just passively slide into a rut before they know it?  And then, isn’t it extremely difficult to be comfortable outside of it?

Although we have no grandchildren yet, I can see how important it is to welcome – even encourage – kids and stepkids, along with their significant others, dogs, friends, . . . . along with the messiness that a good life contains.  If they don’t feel welcome, they will not come – simple as that.  One more thing – cook it and they will come.

Note:  Here’s our current source of practice with messiness – Kilty, a small but feisty Westy we are dog-sitting this week.  There is nothing like a dog – especially someone else’s dog – to keep it “fresh”.   She has the bark of a dog many times her size, and seems to magically appear under foot at all times.  Super cute though!  I guess I have to forgive her for the housewarming gift she left under my desk when she first came over – a little nervous in her new surroundings.

Body Image Tips from Dogs

It’s OK to have wrinkles.  They add character.

Short legs are just fine, even if they don’t go with the rest of you.

Big ears?  No problem.

There is no such thing as a “bad hair day.”

You look cool in anything, you trendsetter!  

Why do we have such narrow definitions of attractiveness for ourselves?  While there is some variety in what we consider attractive, it is so limited when you consider what we think of dogs’ looks.

Can’t we cut ourselves at least a little more slack?  If you inherited short legs (I did), they will always be short, so focusing on more significant assets is going to offer more possibilities for growth (haha – very bad joke!).

Weight, which is such a negative focus for so many people, can often be improved for better health, but having a poor body image will not really help to speed the process along – really!  The opposite is more likely.

In summary, there is no such thing as ugly, since if you are ugly enough, you are really cute and you win a prize.  

(Note:  I wish I could claim credit for these pictures, but they were from Google Search.)