Lessons learned from dogs and my biggest mistake made I still feel guilty about

Have you ever done something to a dog, that years later, you still feel bad about? Maybe the biggest mistake I made when we adopted our first dog was six months after we first brought her home. I can still remember every detail and this moment happened over ten years ago. All I can say is, thank goodness dogs don’t hold grudges, and are predisposed to living in the moment. Sure, I can make excuses to let myself off the hook but I decided it was better to focus on learning from the experience and appreciate her ability to teach me such an important lesson.

The short version of this story is that I assumed (yep, big mistake right there) that because we’d only had adopted her six months ago, and because she was a dog, staying with another dog, in the home of a dog trainer, that she wouldn’t miss us. I was wrong. Very wrong. I didn’t know that she could, or would, bond that quickly with us.

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Why dogs are adoptable and why we embraced the word ‘surrender’

We fell so hard in love with our adopted dog that within months of bringing her home, it felt like she had been with us forever. I remember staring at her wishing I had known her as a puppy. I dreamed up scenarios of her life before us. We exhaled in her presence, as if we’d been holding our breaths expecting her to disappear, as if she was too good to be true. She was about five years old and perfect. It took no time before it was clear she was the missing piece to our family puzzle. She plugged herself into our life and home completely and seamlessly. I pinched myself every time she walked into a room, or I walked in the front door and saw her big fluffy face.

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Owner surrender

Adoptable dogs become adoptable for a bunch of reasons. They are often picked up as strays. Sometimes their person passes away, or their family is moving somewhere and can’t take them and the dog is taken to a shelter or rescue. Many of the Muttville Senior Dog Rescue dogs were strays or surrendered for some reason.

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Discover why senior dogs rule and caring about dogs matter: Meet Ginger Rogers

Is it true that like attracts like? I do find myself pulled towards certain older dogs when I enter the doggy loft each week at Muttville. Sure, some are just so outwardly engaging that most dog people would notice them and respond. I certainly greet all the dogs with happy good mornings, followed by questions about their night. I try not to wake any who want to sleep in, or generally disturb any of the dogs who just don’t do mornings. Not everyone is perky first thing, and that includes dogs.

Spice Girl or Spicy Dog

There is a dog that has been with Muttville longer than usual who I find relatable in a million ways. She is what is called “spicy” or rather, she can snap at you if you’re not watchful. What I love about her is that I get it. I can relate to the desire to react negatively or at least guardedly to others. She’s wary, but at the same time I can see her desire to engage. I can see her body language trying to communicate that she wants to be pet, but just in a certain way and for a certain length of time. If those planets don’t align, then forget it.

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She needs to call the shots and that’s okay

I have a strong feeling that Ginger Rogers is a wonderful little dog who just needs someone who gets her. Someone who maybe has their own particular set of rules, therefore appreciates and respects hers. She needs someone who respects her individual nature but also appreciates it and will accommodate it...maybe even enjoy it. She needs patience. I used to enjoy seeing my big dog tell other people when they were doing something wrong. She told them when they weren’t petting her properly, or when they were too loud near her.

Ginger Rogers is a sweet old lady. I know she will find her person. I’m glad she has Muttville in her corner.

From Muttville:

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Do you have a social contract with your dog?

Before we adopted our first dog, I told my husband that having a dog, especially an older dog we didn’t know meant we were taking out a social contract with the dog. For me, choosing to bring a dog into my home and family is something I take serious, because I believe loyalty goes both ways.

People talk about what loyal companions dogs are but they deserve loyalty too. So when my husband was ready to have a dog, I made sure he understood what intentions would be and what my part in the relationship would look like. I explained that any adoption meant that I was agreeing emotionally, financially and spiritually to commit to this dog forever. Til death us do part. 

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And when we finally adopted our dog from the San Francisco SPCA, that night, I literally looked her in the eye and shook her paw, saying I will do my best to set her up for success and give her the best dog life she could have in the big city. I promised her that I would try to never let her down, to not take her for granted, and to appreciate her dog qualities, for as long as she gave us. We had nine incredible years together that I believe were made indelible because of this social contract.

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Tuesdays with Muttville 🐾 Senior Dog Adoptions at SF/SPCA Fillmore Campus

What a wonderful way to share space and get adorable adoptable senior sweethearts in front of potential new families. Spring has sprung with adorable adoptables!

Today begins weekly adoption events called, Tuesdays with Muttville Senior Dog Rescue at the Pacific Heights campus of the San Francisco SPCA. Stop by each week between 12 and 4pm, and discover why senior dogs really do rule!

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When: Tuesday, Mar 19, 12:00 - 4:00PM through April 9th

Where: SF SPCA Pacific Heights, 2243 Fillmore Street, San Francisco CA

Join Muttville at the SPCA Pacific Heights location for Tuesday adoption hours this spring! Come meet the mutts from 12-4PM on their Fillmore campus. Getting ready to fall in love with your new best friend!

More info: https://muttville.org/event/20190319-tuesdays-with-muttville-spca

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Discover why senior dogs rule when you fall in love with Smoochie!

When you think of having a personal cheer squad, this is the dog for you! He's the perfect wee man who makes you feel like the best thing since sliced bread. Look at how he holds your gaze confidently while looking very dashing in his warm fleece!

This little guy is a beautiful chocolate brown chihuahua who was brought into our local shelter as a stray – are you ready to give him his forever home!?

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Smoochie is cool with other dogs and enjoys meeting new human friends.

He’s got a great little pep in his step for your weekend adventures but is chill to just hang on your couch while you are at work all day.

Hurry and snap this little guy up, Muttville is estimating Smoochie to be about 9 years old and 7 pounds.

Fall in love with Smoochie at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue on Rescue Row in San Francisco!

Here’s what his foster has to say (Pssst be ready with the ahhhhhhhh):

Smoochie is an incredibly affectionate dog. He is most happy when there is a lap for him to sit on. If there is no lap available he is the king of finding or making nests in the cutest places. He loves a nice walk around the neighborhood as long as he doesn’t have to do it in the rain or through puddles! He is fine hanging out on his own at home, but will be very very happy when you return. His little tail will wag wildly and he’ll run to you barking his greeting.

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KQED SF & PBS Digital Video Short 🐶 How Your Dog's Nose Knows So Much

Dogs are infinitely interesting to me. They do everything from make my neighborhood better by their very presence, to making me healthier by lowering my blood pressure. I am endlessly fascinated by their behavior and why they seem infinitely smarter than most humans at times. 

I love reading books about dogs. Soldier Dogs, by my friend, Maria Goodavage, is an outstanding book about America's military working dogs. (Read my 2012 review) The Education of Will, is an incredible memoir about empathy, compassion and forgiveness for both the author, Dr. Patricia McConnell and her dog. (Read my 2017 review) I absolutely loved reading the book, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Dr. Alexandra Horowitz. As a layperson, this book really got me interested in knowing more about the science of why dogs do what they do!  

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After reading that particular book, I paid closer attention to how dog's sniffed me during my Muttville Senior Dog Rescue shift. I'm also happy to report that earlier this month new research shows that letting dogs exercise their noses is good for them! Read the blog postAllowing Dogs to Sniff Helps Them Think Positively by Dr. Marc Bekoff.

Public Television is a great place to learn, and my husband and I have been long term supporters of our local PBS station, KQED. They also produce an ultra-HD (4K) short video series with PBS Digital Studios called Deep Look. It’s about exploring big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small - from grains of sand to squid skin. They have a new Deep Look video, “How Your Dog’s Nose Knows So Much,” about the science behind dog noses.

WATCH: New Deep Look Video from KQED and PBS: How Your Dog’s Nose Knows So Much

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Adopt ♥️ Love! Reduced Adoption Fees for Chihuahuas at Muttville SF until March 1st

My first dog love was for a very large fluffy Samoyed. She was a senior sweetheart we took in from a family friend who was moving away. I spent more time on the oily ground of our carport playing with her than I did with any doll or toy. Fast forward to three years ago and the start of my weekly volunteer shifts with Muttville Senior Dog Rescue.

Thanks to weekly shifts with the sugar faces in the doggy loft on Rescue Row, I can say that little poodles, terriers and chihuahuas have won my heart a hundred times over! This affection I have developed for these wee dogs kind of surprised me because I have been a devout big dog lover my entire life, up until now.

We all know that it is to our detriment when we believe stereotypes, when we assume other people’s experiences are the only truth. Assuming the stereotypical picture parroted about chihuahuas is the absolute truth is no different. Not all chihuahuas bark a lot, shiver constantly, act territorial or bite everybody. It makes me very happy to report that I have met some of the cutest, softest, calmest chihuahuas since I began volunteering at Muttville.

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My Muttville Story About Adoptable Tag

What is it about big dogs that I love so easily? Is it their large body proportions? Their often out-sized personalities? This week when I met a new big shepherd-like boy at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, all of my empathy responded to his presence.

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This dog came at me as soon as I entered the open doggy loft. He thrust his big plush head into my lap to say pet me. So I did. His thick fur was rich. I immediately smoothed his face and cleaned his eyes, telling him with my hands and expressions that he is loved, and in a safe place.

Some people get nervous when a big dog isn’t shy about telling you that they need and want you. This dog’s body language said he was open but wasn’t a pushover. He let me kiss his face, and enjoyed some cuddling but he wasn’t lazy about it. He seemed to orchestrate how you could engage with him, as if he was saying, “I want you to pet me, only right here, not there, and like this.”

He reminded me of when we first met our newly adopted dog. She was a big fluffy girl who acted very open and willing, but only to the untrained eye. In reality she was just showing you that her confidence in herself allowed people she barely knew to engage with her. But as we learned over time, she knew what she was doing and if you did something she didn’t like, you knew it.

Tag, the big shepherd boy, was showing me similar signs. What I hope to communicate to anyone interested in adding him to their home is this lesson. Trust him. Love him. Set him up for success, and he will be your fiercest buddy and confidante.

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From Muttville:

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Captain America 🇺🇸 is ideal narrator for Superpower Dogs movie!

Wonderful dog lover and sometime Captain America, Chris Evans will be narrating  Superpower Dogs, a series of stories about some of the world’s most incredible dogs! The trailer below has a few highlights but if you’re like me, smitten with the secret powers of dogs already, and probably know a few dogs worthy of the title “hero” ...then grab a tissue.
 
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With soaring music that sets the tone of heroic feats ahead for these canine crusaders, the trailer with Captain America’s voice, had me a bit weepy. I can’t wait for March when the movie comes out in IMAX theatres. There are only quick highlights and a few slow motion super hero clips in the trailer, but I spotted the Italian Coastguard Newfoundlands and several known search and rescue teams! Who else is excited that these amazing groups (often all-volunteer) are getting this well-deserved attention?
 
Watch for yourself and if you’ve a dog at home, give them some extra love and gratitude for being your best friend. They may be more of a couch warrior but their ability to give fearlessly is as real as the dogs in this movie.
 
Watch the official trailer and experience the superpowers and extraordinary bravery of some of the world’s most remarkable dogs:


(Photo above is screen grab from trailer)
 

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My Muttville Mutt Story about Adoptable Franknfurter

One of the best things about spending time with dogs is the engagement. You get to figure out what they like to do, how they like to play, what makes them happy and want to hang out with you. At least that is how I approach every dog I encounter when I volunteer at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue.

My goal with every dog is to learn what makes them, them. To focus on them and what they are communicating with their noises, and body language. Playing with Franknfurter recently I learned what his kryptonite is — ear rubs!

I work at Muttville during the morning shift so I am there before most of the staff arrives. Today I was having a fun session in the lower office where Franknfurter was hanging out. We played and tossed his ball a little before breakfast then before he settled into his bowl of chow, I gave him a little ear rub “see you later” and he suddenly plopped down hard against my hand! It was so funny and suprising because HE LOVES BREAKFAST. I thought he’d already mentally moved on from me to his bowl, but guess what? He gave me extra minutes!! I felt like the biggest winner as I left his room and went to work on laundry.

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Senior dogs inspire: Meet Samba the Tripawd

Meet Samba. We ran into her on the streets of San Francisco where she was showing two young boys how to sit and wait for a treat. I love seeing dogs out on walks. Often I exchange a smile and a knowing “dog lover club” look with the person, or sometimes just with the dog. I wave at the dogs if they look at me, otherwise I gauge my reaction based on them. When a dog is on a mission to poop or pee in a particular place, or get to the dog park, it would be criminal to get in the way.

 

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Discover why senior dogs rule when you fall in love with Puffin! 🦄

Some dogs just make the cutest noises without even realizing it. This little poodle spaniel girl is one of them!! She’ll steal your heart and every other body part if you give her a chance.

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Puffin is a sweet poodle who is so ready for a new beginning! She wanders around Muttville all day long looking for her forever-people. If you are looking for a mellow friend who loves you no matter what then there really is no need to look any further. Puffin loves to cuddle in a big pile of blankets and return the favor if you tuck her in at night. This fluffy sweetheart is so looking forward to spotting you at the next adoption event!

Puffin is estimated to be 13 years young and weighs about 25 pounds.

Here’s what her foster has to say:

Puffin muffin is a real sweet girl! She likes people and dogs of all sizes. Puffin will meander up to people and kindly wait for them to pet her. She has a head tilt that could break your heart, and a coat that’s as soft as velvet!

Puff is quiet. She has only let out a few barks in the time I’ve known her, once when she couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t share my pizza. Puffin loves to snuggle up on the couch in a pile of blankets, and generally sleeps through the night. She loves a good dental chew and is very food motivated.

Puffin can keep a good pace on a walk and loves to take in all the neighborhood scents. When she’s sleepy, she’ll quickly do her business and trot back to the house to resume her cozy spot. Puff would do best in a home with easy access to an outside space so she can continue to perfect her house training.

Fall in love with her at Muttville in San Francisco today!!! Visit 🐾 this link: https://muttville.org/mutt/puffin-6160

“Hear about Puffin and watch her being cute!” —> https://youtu.be/Y7jZurR1POE

 



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Can you believe we began Grouchy Puppy a decade ago?! 😳

Happy New Year dog lovers and Grouchy Puppy peeps! It’s storming here in San Francisco and it seemed like the perfect time to sit indoors with a cup of tea and return to writing blog posts. 

Have you seen or heard about the #10YearChallenge on Facebook or Instagram? Quite a few adorable side-by-side photos of dogs growing from puppy to adult have filled our news feed. Ten years is a long time and for most people and pups, it’s hard not to see significant changes, though I swear some of the dogs at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue do not seem aged at all.

So this challenge had me looking back at old blog posts and I realized that Grouchy Puppy is ten years old. Can you believe it?! The oldest post I have saved is over on Cleo’s blog because this is where it began, with my overwhelming love and new life with this enormous, fluffy, adopted dog from the San Francisco SPCA — a dog who people thought was a wolf and a boy! 

Today, January 17th, ten years ago, inspired by my dog and our new life together in the big city, I launched a blog and website. The posts and site have ranged from simple, funny, and deep, but always devoted to the human dog bond. Take a look in the archives and you will see what I mean...

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I didn’t even use any photos of her yet, just this sentence that I imagined she would say based on the look she gave me after she did the dramatic drive-by around the foot of our bed. Hahaha, dogs are such expressive creatures! Every week at Muttville, there is at least one dog whose face or body language is speaking volumes about how they feel or what they want to do, or don’t do. I love deciphering or at least trying. 

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When I look back, is it any surprise the first blog post is titled Magic? For me, all dogs are magic. I’m as passionate today as I was ten years ago about dogs, and our unique connection with them. I am fascinated by the evolution of our relationship. With that in mind, I am thinking about how to celebrate this wonderful decade Grouchy Puppy has officially been in existence. 

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How does a giveaway of some fun dog books sound? To celebrate ten years of all things Grouchy Puppy, I have some ideas but would love to hear from you instead. We have 11 months for festivities!!

Share any and all suggestions in the comments below, go to the Contact tab above, or send your email to info@grouchypuppy.com — or use hashtag #grouchypuppy10 and Tweet or Instagram us your ideas! 

Thank you for sharing our dog-filled journey!

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This holiday season and beyond, love is always the perfect gift

When in doubt, this holiday season, remember that love is always a perfect gift. 

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Love is timeless. Sharing your heart with an adopted dog can make you feel like the smartest, happiest, most amazing person in the world. Opening your home to an animal companion gives the gift of love, safety and care to another being.

So, this holiday season, and beyond, always remember that love, is indeed, a perfect gift.

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