Pack Hierarchy

marking.JPGIt was hate at first sight. They were about to kill each other. I had just moved to Mr. and Mrs. Train’s house after their passing. They had Samson, a beautiful mixed breed dog and I came along with three dogs (and two cats). Aldo was the oldest and the biggest, therefore, leader of the pack. Aldo was used to have always his way. Samson had always been solitary and his territory had now been invaded. From the moment Aldo and Samson saw each other, they had to prove who was “the boss”.

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Heavy-eyed

My first attempt to stop their daily bloody combats was to sedate Aldo, but once the drowsy effect wore off, they recurred to their fiery biting which left them with torn out skin

bloody.pngThe Vet recommended to have them “fixed” to help them deal with their male dominant behavior and said it would approximately take three months to get their strong hormones out of their system. I thought the pain of the procedure would reduce their impulse to conquer the “Alpha” Title, but as soon as they woke up from anesthesia; they got at each other again.

There were occasional fights in the past three years, but finally Aldo and Samson got to tolerate each other’s presence and even abide in harmonious companionship.

Aldo died four months ago and Samson died last week. They are buried next to each other.

their tomb.jpgThe moral of the story is: What was all that fighting for? Who won? We all have our struggles in life; it has been well said to choose wisely what battles are worth fighting for. In the tomb, no one is stronger than the other.

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Published in: on April 27, 2017 at 9:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My German Shepherd IV

When people say “you’re getting older“; I reply “And who isn’t?”. We all take this “de rigueur” path from the time we are born. It is unavoidable and undeniable.DSC_0003 A few weeks ago I uploaded a video in Facebook of my old good dog Aldo struggling to walk. I received all kinds of responses to the video. Most people were sympathetic and felt sorry; a few looked at it with humor, the dog’s uncoordinated movements and stumbling walk made him look as if he were drunk. The reaction that most got my attention though was from those who asked me how could I dare to: 1.- Keep him alive in pain and 2.- show in public media his suffering. In Facebook we are given the choice to upload our “best” pictures to show the world. We can create our own make-believe lives: all smiles and laughter, good times and parties, good-looking and fashionable. In real life failure, sickness, suffering and death are part of the package.

dog-life-spanAldo is 14 human-years old; he is a senior dog and I write about his aging process thinking about me. A dog’s lifespan is faster and shorter, but I have grown older with Aldo and I am learning from him to enjoy all things: company, sunshine, other animals and above all, food. I am learning as he keeps doing simple things he used to do effortlessly and without sweat that life is worth living not matter how difficult things may turn out. And finally, to sleep, eat and poop are priceless treasures for your well-being. The day comes for all of us when we realize that little things are actually big things.

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

Published in: on August 18, 2016 at 5:53 am  Comments (1)  
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My German Shepherd III

DSC_0015A week ago I thought Aldo, my mix breed German Shepherd, would not make it to his 14th birthday, but he did today. He is suffering a common ailment to his breed where he has trouble standing up, pain when trying to get up and his hip is very  weak. He has bad days, worse days, good days and better days. I have been helping him to get up and he makes my day when I find him in a different spot where I originally left him. I clap and “hooray” him, “Aldo! You did it!! Keep doing it good boy!! Keep doing it!!” and I hug him.

I know Aldo is living his final days. He is being totally spoiled by me. I love my other two dogs, but Aldo is getting a lot of privileges and benefits of the old age.

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I don’t want to humanize him. Although, yes, he could be described as “my good loyal friend and companion” I simply think that Aldo is at his best when being what he is, a dog. I would not want him to be a human. I love him exactly for what he is and with all what it brings to own a dog.

One good thing about old Aldo is that he has not lost his appetite. So after a good meal, he loves to lie down in the sunshine and a walk from the back of the house to the front and backwards, it’s all what it takes to make his day.

WOOF WOOF! It’s time for a Paw-ty

Published in: on July 9, 2016 at 2:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My German Shepherd II

Eight years ago, I wrote a blog telling how I became owner of my German Shepherd, Aldo.  Actually, the story of how HE chose me. Many years after that post, Aldo remained the same energetic unintimidated Alpha male dog. It took me by surprise when, one night, during a walk, he almost gets run over by a car twice! I then yelled at him to stop so I could leash him, but he delightfully continued his walk. How could a dog who once was at my beck and call with just one whistle ignore my voice? Following that, I noticed he would not show up for meal time at the sound of the food plastic bag or his dish as before. I had to go looking for him and call him, only to find him sound asleep. I am now aware he lost his hearing sense and I can walk over him while sleeping without being noticed and if he fortuitously hears a noise, he has no idea what direction the sound is coming, he turns his head in all directions until he makes eye contact with me, then vigorously wags his tail as saying “Oh! it is you here”.

Aldo2016I calmly accepted his first signs of old age and even welcome his funny and humorous new “disobedient”, slow, lay back behaviour. I could live, with no pain,  with a dog who is no longer the most wanted eligible mate to breed, the perfect playful pet or the best guardian dog. I had aged and changed along with Aldo in these 13 years. Except that this week I noticed that our life cycles have different speed. One day he was dragging his back legs and tried to follow me two stairs up in the front porch. He stopped to contemplate and consider how feasible the task was and when he ventured to give it a try, he fell to the ground hitting his head on the stairs. He is too heavy for me to lift him up, I wanted to carry him in my arms and take him to his bed, but I couldn’t. He looked up with eyes of embarrassment; I lay down with him and hugged him tightly. I know he would have done the same if it had been I on the floor.

How soon will Aldo’s final day arrive, I don’t know. I wish with all my heart that nature will take that decision and not me. Today he is walking with difficulty, but alive. We are alive and yes, we all have our difficulties, but we also have the wonderful opportunity to love and hug those around us.

Sometimes you will never know the true value of a Moment,

until it has become a Memory.”

 

 

 

 

Published in: on April 14, 2016 at 3:38 pm  Comments (3)  
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The house is silent

100E1593Ten  years ago, SAI was just a vivacious, mischievous puppy whose manners never were the most feminine, but ever since, she lived her life always waiting for the moment I could spend time with her and to be cuddled in my arms.Today the house is silent. The noisiest of my 5 dogs got sick two days ago and this afternoon the veterinarian put her to sleep. She used let me know when someone was coming even before the doorbell rang and announced my arrival to all the neighbors with her 100_4048 aobnoxious, but cheerful good-to-see-you-around-here barking. Today I don’t need to tell her to be quiet; her absence is felt and the house is silent. I came back from school after her burial and in the night after church and none of the other dogs barked. I now understand that the noisy welcome was her initiative and the other four dogs are missing her and observing some moments of silence in gesture of mourning in their own way.

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It is just the death of another dog among millions of dogs and animals dying every day, but in a very unique way, her death has reached the heart of God as creation’s groan for liberation of futility and decay. Today the house is silent, but a cry in a hushed tone was heard in heaven, a creation’s plea which wants to be brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God (Romans 8: 20-22).

 

Published in: on October 23, 2014 at 4:34 am  Comments (2)  
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Tummy Rubbing Lesson

When she sees me coming from afar she starts getting ready for what she knows is coming; a tummy/ ear rub. What it started as a way to gain her trust as I daily walk by the street where she is always lying down, it has become her long-awaited pleasure and “my duty”; when in my frenzy busyness of coming back and forth from school and church I pass by ignoring her, she barks her attention-seeking bark as if saying “Hey! Hey! I am here! STOP!”.

It is not always easy for me even though it doesn’t take me more than a minute, but as a dog lover, how could I resist! And the exercise of stopping for a few seconds has been good for me; a lesson I am day by day learning.

Published in: on March 1, 2012 at 6:10 am  Comments (1)  
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Strange Visitor

Homeless, old and almost blind; nobody knows to whom he belongs or where he comes from. He is called “Tres-Orejas” (Three-Ears) Notice his right ear is cut by half giving the illusion, as they flap, that are two; plus his left ear, equals “three”.

Three-Ears will never, not even in his wildest imagination, have the slightest chance to be in the AKC registration, he is not qualified for any championship, he does not know any protocols; his only routine is to punctually come to school-recess.

There are two facts I like of having this weird visitor:

1.- He might not be well groomed, trained or a blue-ribbon bearer, but seems to be content, blissfully happy and at peace with the students’ left-over snacks and affection.

2.- The big heart of children with its radical acceptance. They love regardless of appearance. Pedigree is irrelevant.

Three-Ears and children have only one rulebook to follow: love!

Published in: on April 22, 2010 at 6:23 am  Comments (2)  
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My female German Shepherd

Titi with her carrot toy

Titi with her carrot toy

A few days ago I discovered something about my female German shepherd called “Titi”. She was given to me by a colleague who did not have space for her in his house and must have been more than a year old. She was in heat thus enthusiastically welcomed by Aldo. Titi has her peculiarities: Primarily, she has no notion what obedience is all about, next she is somewhat mentally disturbed, for example, while my other two dogs try to find shelter as rain pours down, she is in frenzy chase attempting to bite off raindrops; when she finally gets tired, she places herself in the middle of the shower pacifically wagging her tail as she gets soaked. Her favourite hobby is to search for any kind of dazzling light reflected from any shiny object. She has a “mother complex” that literally kills with love newborn kitten (her jaw is too strong to hold the little creatures) and tears apart any Teddy bear. I have learned to live with all her inconvenient and inappropriate manners, I would just not have the heart to send her away somewhere else.

One of her annoying habits was to lie down just in front of the dooryard and every time I had to open it with a major thrust. Often I would say “Would you please find another place to couch yourself?” This I thought till the other day when the weather temperature was so high that I decided to sleep in a cooler room outside which had a mosquito screen as door. I noticed Titi was not in her usual place. I found her cuddled right in front of the screen door where I had slept. When the temperature got bearable again, I went back inside the house to sleep in my bedroom. Next morning when I went outside, she was also back to her customary post. I deliberately moved back and forth from these two rooms only to discover she would also move with me. She slept closer to the door of the room I was. It finally dawned on me; as a good guardian dog, she was watching over me. I had misread her behaviour, misinterpreted her attitude and unwisely complain

about her devotion to me. How could I have been so stupid?       

Crazy and Beautiful Titi

Crazy and Beautiful Titi

                                             

 

After this experience with Titi the dog…I ask myself:

 Has somebody’s bothersome attitude been the way to tell me something important?

 Has a phone call been considered inopportune when actually somebody is affectionately thinking of me?

 Has a visit been regarded as an interruption to my free time when in reality those people want to fondly spend time with me?

 Oh Lord, give me wisdom to never misjudge people’s actions!

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 2:49 pm  Comments (1)  
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tOddY

"I hate Mondays"
“I hate Mondays”

tODDy is my big, laid back, male Siamese cat. I have never considered cats to be very smart, but about a year ago he had to make a decision and demonstrate his cleverness. He had joined my pet family in 2005 and had lived with me in the same house for two years when one day I had to move out. I started the process of transporting the animals one by one. When it was tOddY’s turn, I placed him in a small zipped duffle bag because he was not used to be around strangers and street noises. I also had heard that if  cats don’t see the course they’re being taken, can’t find their way back. tOddY would prove the theory wrong. As soon as I got him out of the bag, he jumped off the fence and disappeared. Next day during my daily morning walk with the dogs I passed by the previous house and behold he was there.  I called him, came to me, held him close to my chest and brought him to the house I had just moved into. This once I took the time to be with him, showed him around, served him a whole can of tuna fish, his favorite dish. He finished it and got out of sight again. I repeated the procedure five times, including the tuna-strategy, and five times he went back to the other now EMPTY house. I would think that an animal that is smart enough to have a sense of orientation and direction to find his way back; would also be judicious to realize that it was not the place, but I who love, feed and protect him. He had to make a choice:

-stay in familiar surroundings without me

                       OR                                                                           

-follow me wherever with my protection and provision.

Five and a half months later, he simply made an appearance as if he had always lived there and had not gone anywhere else since. He finally got the point.

tOddY has no idea how much I relate to him. I am usually scared of new situations, circumstances and incidents, like having to find a new place to live, moving to another country to serve the Lord, meeting new people, etc. I would rather become stagnant, stationary and static, but my God would not allow it. He makes me move on, act on his promises, advance in faith and stretch the limits that I may grow and know him.  Many a time I am afraid, but I know I better follow him, for with Him I find love, shelter and all my needs supplied to the full.

We both liked that house

We both liked that house

Published in: on October 30, 2008 at 12:05 pm  Comments (6)  
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My German Shepherd

 

Aldo as a puppy in 2002

Aldo as a puppy in 2002

Aldo was born July 9th of 2002 in a batch of nine. He was the biggest and the strongest of all. I bought him for a farm where the One-Year Bible School is also operating. I kept him with me till he was big enough to be detached from his mother and after I had taken him to the vet for all his vaccines.

One day during the short period of his puppy days, I took him out with a leash. He immediately made me know that in his mind it was not the ideal walk. I had to literally drag him with every step as I pull with all my strength. He howled, yelled and wailed all the way; we were quite the scene and Snoopy would have considered it “animal cruelty”. I sat in a bench and we both rested from our recent odyssey. In time to head back to the house I felt sorry for him, after all it was his first time in leash-training and I did not want to be the point of attention in the streets again, so I carried him in my arms. Next day it was time for another walk and for more struggle, so I thought, but to my surprise, he just walked next to me. He knew what to do! I realized how amazingly smart dogs can be.

 

 

"Orejon" (Big ears)

"Orejon" Big Ears

 

 

His eyes can talk

His eyes can talk

 

When he was about three or four months old, I left him where it would be his new home, the farm. I pictured him having fun in the open space in curiosity quest. He seemed to adapt well to his new surroundings and people, but not long after that , he began to make trips back to my place, which it meant more than 2 miles having to cross the river on a swinging bridge. I would take him back time after time, but he would only stay for a while before he came back to town looking for me. This happened so many times that the owners gave up after trying all sorts of tricks and disciplinary actions; then they finally asked me if I wanted to keep him. I love dogs, but for many reasons I had not planned to have one. In any case, apparently we, the people, had nothing to say on the matter, it was Aldo who had made up his mind as to who was going to be his master. He had chosen me and I accepted his decision.

 

 

This year Aldo turned six. He is an all grown up pal, still full of stamina and vigor, playful and a very loyal friend. I am sure all dogs are special creatures above all, made by God for human enjoyment and benefit. Dogs are by nature man pleasers. They use their intelligence to seek affirmation and approval. Their biggest content seems to be companions, expressing sadness with one’s absence and great excitement with one’s presence; whenever they have the chance, they like to be near you. They are excellent guardians. Aldo is very friendly, but his growl can intimidate anyone and few times he has not allowed people to even shake hands with me.

 

I believe Aldo is not a coincidence. I believe God has used his creation to his purposes. He has used stars, rain, hail, clouds, earthquakes, fire, wind, etc. He used:

-thirsty camels to find a wife for a promised son,

-a donkey to rebuke an ambitious prophet,

crows to feed a hungry servant,

-a big fish to transport a disobedient messenger,

-a hive to give strenght to a solitary man in the wilderness,

-a lions’ den to show his care to a faithful prayer warrior,

ants, rock badgers, locust and spiders to inspire a proverb writer,

-an untrained colt for his son’s triumphal entry,

-an animal’s skin to dress a naked couple in a garden,

-many lambs to picture the coming perfect substitute, His Son Jesus Christ, The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world AND He is now using a simple dog in my life to teach me lessons about Him, his creation, people and myself.

Love each other

Love each other

I would like to be loyal to God as he is to me. Enjoy God’s presence as he enjoys mine. To be content and happy with small things and celebrate food with enthusiasm. I want to follow the Lord and never lose sight of him as Aldo does when we take walks. To be smart enough to learn lessons from who cares and provides for me. That my love for God may grow with each passing moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on September 11, 2008 at 4:33 pm  Comments (7)  
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