Jun 252009

How do dogs communicate with each other?  Some dogs make friends quickly and others not so quickly.

Today we took another trip to the animal hospital for another bandage change.

I met more and more dogs and one of them even let me lick him!  This dog I liked a lot. Her name is Fay. When Fay’s mommy was holding her in her lap, Fay let me lick her face.  She was really happy about this and we got along really well.  Then later Fay’s mommy put Fay down on the ground. I went to play with Fay and lick her face but suddenly she seemed afraid of me and hid behind her mommy’s legs.  Maybe because when she was on her mommy’s lap and higher up she liked me to play with her but when she was down on the ground and could see that I was many times bigger than her, she got nervous. So Fay’s mommy and my mom decided that I should leave Fay alone so that Fay could feel happy and comfortable.  It’s too bad that I couldn’t just say to Fay that no matter how tall or small she is, I would like to be friends with her and I hope she could be friends with me.  But dogs don’t communicate that way.  But if we could, that’s what I would tell her.

There were other dogs in the hospital, too.

There were two dogs named Lowell and Lana who went together with their dad.  Lowell was the younger dog and was very excited to be in the hospital but Lana, the older dog, was very nervous.   Their dad held Lana in his arms and you could see Lana was shaking and their dad held Lana so that she felt comfortable and protected. It’s too bad that I couldn’t just say to Lana that I’ve been in the hospital many times and that everything was going to be alright and that the doctors in the hospital really care about their patients. Dogs don’t have that kind of communication but if we could, that’s what I would say.

Tern, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Tern, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

I also met a dog named Tern. Tern is a Cavalier Spaniel and these dogs are very friendly to humans and to other dogs. Tern and I became friends there at the animal hospital and he even let my mom take a photo of him.

Then something really great happened:  My mom and I met two children who had a dog.  The two little children asked my mom, “What happened to him?” and my mom said that I had a broken ankle. Then the two children pointed to one of their dogs and said that their dog had a broken ankle too and had plates and screws in his leg too!   Maybe if their dog could talk to me he would say, “Don’t worry, just like me, you will be able to run again.” But dogs don’t communicate that way.

Still, I feel it in my bones that I will be able to run again and I will be able to run with my dad, we will run early and we will run far, and we will run side by side!

Now you can please continue with today’s story!

May 182009

Can you tell what a dog is thinking by reading his ears?  Learn to read your dog’s ears. This is especially important if your dog is sick or injured.

These days I’m pretty relaxed.   I’m feeling better, the sun is shining, and the children in the neighborhood still want to come and visit me.


They like to come and say “Hi, Joey” and they like to come give me a pet.

Because I’m still injured and Jane doesn’t want me to get too excited, I will sit down and then Jane will allow the children to come over to pet me, one at a time.

It’s important for the children to understand when I’m relaxed and when I’m nervous.  How can children know how a dog wants to play?  I can’t tell them with words, but there is one easy way for them to know how I am feeling: They can look at my ears! They can read my ears.

My ears are very important for a lot of reasons.

Of course, I use them to listen.

I also use them when I am trying to smell something!  Since my ears are large and floppy, I can use them when I’m trying to smell the scents of dogs, and food, to cup the odors.

Here's a photo of a dog's ears when the dog is being attentive. Here, I am looking in the direction of the dog that lives next door to us, a black Labrador Retriever.My ears are also an indicator of my mood.  You can tell when I am relaxed, when I am excited, or when I am nervous or afraid. When children want to pet me, they need to make sure that I am relaxed, and not nervous or afraid.

Here are so photos of my ears. Can you read them?

using my ears as a cup when I'm following a scent

Can you tell which is the best time to come pet me, and which is the best time to leave me alone and let me be by myself?

May 142009

What are the best places to pet your dog? What are the best places and ways to pet a dog that you do not know?  How can you tell when your pet is feeling comfortable and relaxed and wants company, and when he is feeling anxious and aggressive and wants you to stay away? Why is it so important for an animal to have lots of rest when he is injured?

With each new day, my leg is healing more and more. I have more and more energy, but I still need a lot of rest.  I spend a lot of the day sleeping, which is important, because my bones and ligaments need to heal.  My belly is mostly healed, though I have some scars there, and on my legs, and my fur and hair are starting to grow back.  The doctor is also watching one of my top front teeth because she is concerned that it might need to be extracted some day.  I don’t think about that.

under my jowelsI also need a lot of attention!  I go up to my parents a lot and, silently, request that they pet me.  When I go up to them and sit down right in front of them and stare at them, unless they’re eating potato chips or some food that I am interested in, they understand that what I want is attention. They understand that I want them to pet me. They understand that I am saying, “Oh, pet me, please!”

I have some special places where I like being patted and pet.

One place is right under my jowels.neck

I like to be pet also on my neck. It’s much easier to pet me here when I am sitting up.

Another place is right behind my ears.behind my ears

Jane likes to pet me gently on the top of my head. This is her special place.  Most people don’t pet me on the top of my head but I’ve known her for a long time and so I allow her to do that.

In all of these photographs, I’m feeling very comfortable and relaxed.

May 102009

How do dogs perceive something far off in the distance? Do they use their sense of sight, hearing, smell, or touch? Why would the doctor not allow our friend Joey to chase a squirrel?

Every day I have gone out for my daily walks but today I am finally allowed to go outside to sit outside on the grass, like I used to, as long as I am wearing a sock on my wounded foot, and have a plastic bag over that.  I still have to be on the leash at all times.  Dr. M said I might want to chase a squirrel or go run to say hello to a neighbor and the leash will prevent me from running off.  He knows me very well and we’ve just met; how could this be?  Doesn’t he trust me?  Still, it was fine with me.  I can’t run around much anyway, since my ankle is really sore from the surgery. For now, I’m happy to be outside in my world!

When I walk, sometimes I hop on my three paws, holding the fourth leg up in the air, and sometimes now I’m actually using my fourth paw, putting my 4th leg down every now and then. Dr. M said this was a good idea, because he wants my muscles to get nice and strong again.

(Here’s where a sentence was that my mom deleted from this blog post…)


Wait.  I perceive some movement beyond the fence.  Who’s that I see and hear off in the distance?  Is that my little neighbor, Zooey, and her mom? Oh, it is! Can she see me?  I’ll just quickly wag my tail and say hello!

Zooey’s mom calls hello back, and tells Zooey to say “Hi Joey!” They wave. Then Mom calls out, “Joey … can have visitors today!” Soon Zooey and Zooey’s mom come over to my home to say “Hello, Joey!” closeup.  They walk slowly because Zooey is only now learning how to walk.  This is great. When Zooey and her mom come into our home, I am very excited, because I love to play with children. However, I’m a big dog and almost 10 years old, and Zooey is a small child and only 2 years old.

So on this afternoon, my mom puts me in the living room and closes the new gate that we have, and Zooey stands in the hallway in the arms of her mommy, and she waves at me from there, and says, “Hello, Joey!”  Then she smiles, and I wag my tail.  Both Zooey and I are happy.

We have great neighbors, and I’m a Labrador Retriever, after all, and being neighborly is one of my and our favorite hobbies.

May 072009

What can we expect after our dog has surgery? How should we treat him after we bring him home following surgery?

Is there anything we need to do to our home to protect our dog?


One of my new friends was Evan. Here you can see Evan and me, as I was about to leave the hospital. Even has a mixed Labrador Retriever puppy. He said that he hopes his Lab will grow up to be as strong and healthy as me. Wow, that’s quite a compliment!

The air at Angell energizes and excites me. When I was leaving, I saw a lot of people who made me happy, and I let them know that by wagging my tail. I think that people really like it when dogs are friendly to them.  When I go to this hospital, people who pass by me, or who I pass by, say “Good boy” and “He’s a beautiful dog” and “He’s so friendly.”  I don’t understand “boy” or “beautiful” or “friendly” but I do know that people are saying the nicest things!

Outside of the hospital, I jumped into the back seat of my parents’ car, they jumped into the front seats, and we drove off.  Suddenly I started to feel really tired.  My dad opened the back window so I could get some fresh air. That was nice. But still, I felt very slow, very low on energy.   At some point the car stopped and Jane got out of her seat and ran around the car to the back and got into the back seat with me, and petted my head, and kept saying, very softly, “Good boy. Good boy, Joey.”  She said, “We’re going home!” I felt so knocked out and barely heard the word “home” but I do know that I was with my parents, and that was just fine with me. Mom scratched me under my ears, and in between my eyes,  some of my favorite places. It was so pleasant that I kept dozing off.

Maybe my being so groggy was a good thing. When we got home, Mom walked me into the house with the lead on, and then she took the lead off of me. Freedom rang and I was able to walk around the dining room and the living room and the kitchen on my own.  I was able to drink my water right in the kitchen, in its old place.  Life had the ring of familiarity to it.

But many things about our home, and about my life, had changed.

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