Posts Tagged ‘Raja the World Traveler’

How to Put Your Dog’s Boots On

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”

- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

That’s right right- when dogs go out and about, boots mean adventure, whether it’s galavanting on the cross country slopes or trotting in the urban slush.  Some may say, “Dogs don’t need boots.”  Oh, but they do… crossing the finish line at the famous Alaskan sled dog race the Iditarod, as well as transporting supplies for scientists and explorers in the Arctic, dogs wear boots.  Your dog, stepping out on a blustery day in January on icy cold slushy streets, deserves boots too.

Look at it this way… human beings don’t need boots either.  Cave people didn’t have boots.  (Of course, their average life spans were perhaps 16 years.)  But, as we human beings have learned, anything that keeps us comfortable makes our lives longer and better.  Ditto the dogs.

Boots prevent cracking in the callouses of the pads and keep the feet clean.  While boots in summer can make a dog too hot, boots in winter make for happy little feet.

Now, maybe you are thinking you don’t know how to get boots on a dog.  He’s not jut going to step in on his own.  Or, perhaps you are thinking fatalistically, that your dog’s unlikely to like boots.  In this case, boots are like kale: how do you know you won’t like it until you try?

Rubber Boots are led in the industry by the Paws brand (don’t be suspicious,we cannot be bought).  Paws are the hardest to get on, but the easiest
for dogs to adapt to. Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit your dog on your lap, back to your chest and wiggle the boots on in exactly the same way as you would put socks on a toddler.  There will be  squirming.  There will be floppy feet and limp ankles. Don’t give up.  If you can put socks on a child, you can put boots on a dog.
  • Make sure you work the claws all the way forward into the toe and make sure you have not rammed a toe in at a peculiar angle (same as for a todder).
  • Make sure the boot covers the bottom pad of the foot and doesn’t just cling to the toes.
  • Now is the moment of truth… put your dog down outside, give him a treat and watch him trot. If he walks “funny” at first, do not indulge him.  Walk on and say something like, “You can really chase squirrels in those shoes, Fluffy.”  Paws boots have a high success rate.

Hard soled boots are led in the industry by the Uggs-style faux suede boots with fleece trim, velcro fasteners and awesome ridged  rocker
soles.  These seemingly clumsy boots are fantastic for protecting the pads and they actually work.

  • Sit your dog on your lap, toddler style.  If your dog is very furry, try to get the paw in the boot without unzipping, since zippling is hard with fur in the way.
  • Work your dog’s foot into the forefront of the boot and make sure gently to lower the leg into the boot cuff so the pad is flat on the shoe floor.  (This is hard the first time, but easy by the third time.)
  • Now tighten the velcro ankle straps very firmly.  Take advantage of the narrow part of the lower leg between the hock and the knee.
  • Similarly, carry your dog outside, offer an irresistable treat and see what happens.  Trust us- that awkward walk will transform into a comfortable rolling gait as your dog learns to roll the rocker sole along.

I will leave choosing the size to you and the website directions.  And I will leave it to your discression whether to buy one or two sets.  Sometimes you can lose one shoe, although if the boots are on correctly, they will stay put.  Raja has many sets of Paws and one set of Ugg-Style boots and he and his happy little feet are doing fine.

What does a flying dog do when nature calls?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Nothing could be more unnatural than air travel- for all of us.  Two hours before flight we submit to a series of harassments during which TSA  counts coup on our fatigued persons: questions, clothes removed, body scrutinized, luggage rummaged, torso wanded, patted down, patted up,  hurry up, wait, eat bad food, wait.  Then, we load thousands of pounds of heavy stuff in a winged metal rocket and depend upon the effects of thrust and lift to keep us hurtling through the skies until we land far, far away.  And while we are in the plane we sit, alternately freezing or sweltering,  cramped and phlebitic, hungry and thirsty. Our only source of exercise is an apologetic squirm to a claustrophobic, germy WC.

But that’s the humans… what about the traveling dogs!

In some sense, the dogs have it better. They get transported and, for the small in-cabin traveling dogs, their travel bags insulate them from outsiders.  (Well, for some reason, Raja always gets frisked.  He’s not a real fan of having complete strangers fumble around under his fur, but he puts up.)

In another sense, dogs who travel are not properly served.  First, they can neither eat nor drink during transport because, once they leave the car at drop off in front of the airport, they have no place to go to the potty.  Think about it.  Once they enter the airport, they are not able to relieve themselves until they arrive.  So for International transport, that’s 2 hours, plus the flight (a minimum of 5 hours) and then a minimum of 1hour post flight, considering how slow gating, deplaning, baggage and customs are.  And let’s think of how the frequent delays take a toll on pet patience.

We have two obvious solutions:

  • The first is that dogs should not fly.  But that’s preposterous.


  • Airports  should provide restroom facilities inside the terminals for traveling  pets.  It is not an unreasonable  request since airlines charge for pet transport- around $150 per flight-  which is a whole huge lot to pay and get absolutely nothing in return except the expectation that the paying client will be neither seen nor heard from.

Many airports have smoking porches or decks for the really addicted.  A segment of this area could be partitioned off for traveling pets to sprinkle a plastic hydrant.  Perhaps once a day somebody could douse it with inexpensive, non-toxic hydrogen peroxide.  (Is that so hard?)

Traveling pets are highly unlikely to relieve themselves in their transport bags.  This would be tantamount to relieving themselves in their beds. This they will not do at any cost because, in spite of what some may think, pets have strong codes about where they will and will not, uh, “go.”

Since airlines charge for pet transport, airlines should do the minimum to make transported pets as comfortable as possible.  Since most people cannot make it through an airplane trip without also visiting the WC, to expect our pets to be “better” than we are is both unfair and mean.

Raja and I call upon the great airlines of the world that allow pet transport to do the right thing for all the paying customers that keep the airlines in business.

Happy New Year to All Our Readers!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Love my Travel Dog Theme Quilt!

Raja and I want to thank all our readers, especially our most loyal commenters:  Patty, Buttercup, Sheryll, Carolyn, Cy, CT, Tasha, Rhea, Skamp, Colette and Demon Flash Bandit the Sled Dog. We want to send a bark out to our friends at Dogster, Dog Fancy, Fido Friendly and Three Rivers Holistic Veterinary Service who help us get our message out on the web. Originally, when we began our blog, we wanted to focus only on pet travel, but we found ourselves also drawn toward other issues such as pet health, athletics, advocacy, book reviews, recipes and just plain fun.  We redefined travel for our blog to mean anything from a walk around the block to the adventures of a dog making new roads to places where travel dogs have never been able to go before- Raja’s trips to Machu Picchu, the Vatican Museum and Valle Nevado in Chile being three of them.

To that end, we want to thank some of our favorite Travel Friends: Mr. Mohammed, our driver in Cassablanca, Morocco who was super nice to Raja; the staff of the Cavalieri Hilton in Rome, Italy and the Tambo del Arriero in Cusco, Peru and the Porto del Mare in Tropea, Italy and Gringo Bill’s in Aquas Caliente, Peru- all of whom rolled out the red carpet and didn’t mind muddy paws; and the owners of the Bakeri Fuchs Café in Zematt who treated Raja like a regular.  Raja sends happy barks to that cute Shih Tzu girl Kiwicha that he met in Cusco and the baby camel he played with in Morocco.

Our plans for 2013 are to go on doing exactly the same: supporting travel dog companionship near and far.  Pushing boundaries and expectations. And traveling.

To that end, in our next post, we are going to bark at the airlines about a simple remodeling project at all airports that could make pet travel ever so much better.

Wishing peace and happiness to all in 2013.

But for right now, on Christmas Day 2012, Raja wishes you a wonderful, adventuresome, healthy and peaceful 2013.  He got two awesome gifts this year- his whole family in one house for a few days and this beautiful Travel Dog Theme Quilt by his wonderful friend Carolyn of Carolyn’s Originals , Raja’s favorite outfitter. He loves it so much that it’s highly likely we will be traveling a little less light in future.

Semi-Urban Wild Animals and Your Pet

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

The United Staates leads the world in urban encounters with wildlife.  Which is wonderful- if we consider the global ecosystem.

Not one step further into the rough, puppy dog!

Here in New Jersey, Raja has foxes, raccoons, possums and even the occasional bear to deal with. Well, he doesn’t really deal with any of them if I can help it.  The worst problem is the foxes.  They run through his yard, scenting anything they like the looks of and the girl foxes are particularly thorough.  Raja finds the fox scent alluring, while I find it completely repellant. Completely. What he doesn’t know is that, although he is only a little smaller than the fox, he is completely docile and gentle and the fox is pure predator.  Raja sees the fox as an interesting dog friend.  The fox sees him as an enormous, tender snack.

In his California home, Raja has possums, raccoons and coyotes.  The coyote scent scares him and terrifies me.

In both locations, unbelievably, neighbors find the wildlife charming… until their cats don’t come home at night, that is.  Until they hear about a lost Chihuahua.

How do wild animals survive as suburban and urban sprawl encroach on their territories?  Very, very well, it seems.  Green belts in Northern and Central New Jersey cover enormous contiguous swaths of land all the way into upstate New York.  In California, the isolated hills of the mid state regions lead toward urban/suburban neighborhoods that dead end right at the feet of nature.

And we feed them.  A garbage buffet is fairly carelessly set out once a week.  Fruit and berry trees, as well as compost, attract small animals that larger animals eat.  Even badly cleaned grills lure with the deliciously rancid scent of animal fat.  Docile, protected wildlife like deer, wild turkeys and songbirds attract non-docile, but similarly protected, carnivores.  Urban golf courses grow tender grass that grows enormous, tasty gophers in spite of the pesticides.

I’m not advocating eradicating wild animals.  Except for the smelly foxes and hungry coyotes, I like having wild creatures around.  In theory, I even like the foxes.  On a good day.  But we all have to be sensible, especially as winter makes every wild thing hungrier.  And bolder.  And more confident to reclaim yards as cooler weather keeps people inside more. (Yes, even in California where some people think 60 degrees is awfully cold.)

In winter, put on your coat and go out with your dog in the yard.  If you stand behind a glass door and watch, you cannot beat a fox to the prey.  If you chase a coyote down the sidewalk at night, you will run out of steam far before the coyote tires, and he will not drop the Chihuahua to lighten his load.   Keep an eye out for movement at the edge of darkness at night and do not allow your dog to wander more than a foot away from you.

Especially in New Jersey and New York where Hurricaine Sandy has uprooted trees and taken down brush, if at all possible, reassert order in wooded property.  Chaos and neglect make for new neighbors.

We can all live together if we pet owners are vigilant and protective at the edge of nature.

Winter Disaster Prep for Pets

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Staying warm on a really chilly day inside.

Hurricane Sandy wasn’t the best at Raja’s house, but it was disastrous in other parts of New Jersey and New York.  Since climate change is a reality and since we can anticipate future challenges, Raja and I want to bark about home prep for pets in power outage cold weather conditions.
So… Let’s all do a little cold prep for our pets:
. Sweaters: Every small, thin or older dog needs a couple of fluffy, lofty sweaters.  As we know for ourselves, fluffy sweaters trap air and are warmer.  Put the sweater on in the house and keep it on until the pet doesn’t need it.  (You might be thinking, “But he has fur to keep him warm.”  Sure he does, but you have hair and yet wear a hat when it’s cold, right?  And, I’m guessing that if you’re reading this blog, you have no problem with canine winter apparel.)
. Fur Care: Do not leave a single sweater on for days at a time.  Sweater fiber mats fur, reducing loft and reducing the natural warming properties of fur when neglected.  Daily remove the sweater, comb and brush your pet’s fur gently and put on a different sweater.  Keep alternating so one sweater doesn’t wear fur too much in the same places.
. Socks:  No, we’re not being funny.  Dogs lose heat through their paws on freezing floors. Little dog socks with slip free patches help, if your pet is compliant.
. Hats:  Without a hat, Raja’s nose was icy cold.  With a hat, his nose was appropriately cool. That’s all.
. Calories:  A recent NYT article discussed the extra five pounds apartment grounded New Yorkers gained in the past two weeks.   Dog physiology is different.  When dogs worry, they do not binge eat.  They mope.  If you have a dog who is inclined to be thin, increase calories.  Bulk supports warmth and chilling promotes weight loss.
. Exercise: Keep your dog’s spirits up and keep the blood pumping by playing in the house.  Well, do what you can.  When we exercise we feel happy and we warm up.  You will too.
. Feet: While you can’t wash your dog when you have no hot water or power for a blow dryer, you can keep his feet clean.  Wet feet make a cold dog colder; matted fur makes for less effective drying; dirt is unhealthy.  Using a damp cloth and a dry towel, you can  maintain those fluffy paws.
How did Raja do during the days of cold and no power?
Having fun in my fierce Yeti costume in the sunny snow!

At Dog School, Graduates are Champions

Friday, October 5th, 2012

After a month of back to school for the children, it is possible your family dog will be a little lonely.  Non-family dogs have been watching the children come and go through the window.   Where are they going?  What are they doing?  Can’t I go somewhere important too?

Cy has returned to school to get in shape for his upcoming Championship events.

There are so many things dogs can learn in dog school.  Obedience is just the beginning of the skills set.  There is agility, rally, flyball, Frisbee, dock diving, lure coursing, nose work and the much appreciated therapy categories that include hospital visitor and reading helper.  Not only are there lots of classes for dogs, but also Raja and I must share with you that we have never seen a dog who is unwilling to go to school. Oh sure, some dogs learn faster than others and some are more suited for
different courses than others, but all dogs always have fun.

Raja’s friend Cy has returned to school and to competition after a few months down time healing from the neck trouble that took him out of the Canine Performance Event Nationals in Altamont, New York.  Some people might say Cy’s career should have been over, but, as we humans know about ourselves, exercise is good for the body and exercise helps prevent injuries from becoming entrenched.  Cy’s slipped neck disk could have happened jumping off the couch while turning his head toward the side, or in any number of ways.  There’s no reason why Cy’s days of glory and Olympic dreams (read: days of fun and sense of pride) should be cut short.  That doggy’s too busy to be shut down; he’ll only get in trouble from being bored.

Cy and CT share some downtime with Carolyn between events.

For his rehab, Carolyn took him to Arf Animal Rehab in Dexter, Michigan, an animal sports and injury reconditioning facility for an evaluation and training program.  Working in conjunction with his vet and the specialists, Cy was prescribed a personalized exercise regime that stretched his range of muscles in his neck and strengthened his core, some of them using a ball similar to the way humans use a ball to strengthen the center.  Since Cy’s a social snacker, he took readily to the exercises as long as treats and human attention were the main part of the process.

Cy returned to private classes with his trainer before competing at Think Pawsitive in New Berlin, Wisconsin  for a weekend of fun in which he earned three qualifications towards his

Cy taking the high road in his little white socks.

championship in the categories of Wildcard, Snooker and Jumpers. Still doing fine, Cy recently competed in Williamston, MI, Capital City Canine Club to earn 2 more Qualifications towards his championship.  And now, Cy has only 5 more Q’s to earn.  4 of them will be the hardest Q’s for him ever as he competes in an agility event called Jackpot.  In Jackpot, the dog and his human are far apart, so Cy has to run away from Carolyn to do his challenges.  Cy likes it best when he’s got Carolyn close.  But we have confidence that he’ll get the job done.  Carolyn and Cy are saving the bet Q for last- one final Q in Jumpers because Cy is he best in that challenge.  And next time you readers hear about Cy, he’ll be Champion Cy to you and me.

After Championing, what next for Cy?  Carolyn and Cy will decide, but I will share with you that National Champions can compete Internationally, and if Cy chooses to fly overseas to compete, you can bet Raja and I will be on the same plane.

So back to back to school… Dogs love school because dogs love to interact with their humans, make new friends and learn new ways to be companionable and important to humans in daily life.  If your dog seems like a schooldog to you, google “CPE” for your area and learn how you two can get started.  Your little scholar might amaze you by graduating to be a Champion too.

Fall Feasts and Feasting Dogs! Read down for a delicious fall feast recipe for your dog.

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Tulips and daffodils are not good doggy snacks!

Dogs love fall. It’s cooler so they have more energy and the chaos of swirling leaves and gusty cool winds makes dogs feel like running and barking all day long. Or at least that’s how Raja feels.

Now, running in the wind makes a dog hungry and a hungry dog will begin to forage. Just because a dog wants to eat something he finds does not mean that the food is safe. Wild dogs learn the hard way. Your dog has you to sort out the forrage from the fodder.

Acorns:  Pigs, squirrels, chipmunks and deer love them. Dogs should not eat them, but the smell of deer, squirrel and chipmunk in the areas where acorns fall might draw your dog to them. Acorn contain gallotanin. While in lab tests gallotanin has been associated with antioxidation, anti-inflammation, blood lipid and glucose lowering action and anti-aging, acorns are not a good way to ingest gallotanins. Basically, acorns will cause gastric distress and the hard crushed nut material could injure the intestine. So if you see your dog rooting like a truffle pig amid the fallen acorn leaves, haul him out and redirect him to some other more productive.

Tulips:  You guessed it, tulips are considered to be toxic. They contain tulipanin, which is an anthocyanin, which is a water soluble plant pigment, which is present in eggplants and red wine, but which is supposed to be poisonous to dogs. Hmmm, eggplants are OK for dogs, but red wine is not. Squirrels and deer love tulips and seem to thrive on them, as they do after a big meal of acorns.???Look, tulips may attract the gastronomic dog in some way. Just don’t let them eat them. They’re probably not fatal in moderation, but I bet even one will make your dog sick.

Dadodils:  Even deer that are starving won’t eat daffodils. It is unlikely your dog will try to eat them, but if she does, they are very bad news. Pobably the scariest symptom is cardiac arrhythmia. And that’s very scary indeed.

Alliums:  Those gorgeous puffball purple and white spring flowers with the strappy leaves are allium family. They are onion relatives, very toxic to dogs, can cause dangerous anemia and some crazy dogs seem to like raw onions.  Plant them deep and make sure your pup doesn’t dig them up.

You don’t need to worry about these toxic and irritational plant materials unless your dog is a mischievous snacker. Raja won’t eat bulbs and acorns, so avoiding his contact with them is just paranoid.  As for you and your doggy, well, some dogs will try anything at least once, so keep an eye open.

What can your doggy eat in fall?  To support good food in fall and not to seem like two spoil sports, we have created a seasonal, sustainable early fall garden-inspired dinner for your dog.  It’s much tastier than forage- a cooked meal with meat, fruit, vegetables and grain.  Some of you may buy your dog food; some of you may feed raw; some of you may be anti-grain.  Raja and I are not canine nutritionists, but we are canine home cooking enthusiasts.  Do whatever you think best; we’re not doctrinarian… but Raja really loved this seasonal stew made with our own beans and figs:

A seasonal stew with a fall theme...

Cornucopia Lamb Slow Cooker Stew

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb ground lamb (crumbled in small morsels)

1 medium yam (cut in medium dice)

15 fresh purple Tuscan beans- green are fine too- (cut in one inch dice)

4 ripe figs (quartered)

1 cup faro (rinsed)

3 cups water or onion-and-MSG-free meat or vegetable broth

Coat a slow cooker with the olive oil.  Add all ingredients making sure the liquid covers the faro.  Cook on high for 4 hours or until done.  Cut to desired bite size and serve.  Makes eight ShihTzu- sized portions or three Lab-sized portions.

Readers… what seasonal foods do your dogs like?  Let’s hear your ideas for snacks and meals of the season.




Keep your promise to play with your dog

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Dull playtime for dogs

Puppies play all the time.  They’re awkward and fairly chaotic. But, we get a handle on that.  We socialize our puppies to be calm and placid most of the time.  We have to- chaos and randomness rule  the house otherwise, right?

Over time, our desire to control doggy chaos and organize our pets into our own compartmentalized days means that “play” often becomes the daily walk- a scheduled, stately, linear, tromp down the  concrete sidewalk.  Playful initiatives on our dogs’ parts are discouraged.  We don’t want them running into somebody else’s yard, tripping other pedestrians or sniffing anything at all- whatsoever. We want them to go out purposefully and return expediently, and cleanly.  Sometimes we try to run off their excess energy so we let them become joggers with us.  Just FYI, jogging doesn’t work all the muscle groups for them either.  Only Dalmatians, Fox Hounds and a handful of other breeds really get into running.   (Dalmatians prefer it if horses are involved.  Fox Hounds like something smelly to chase.)

Let’s be honest, part of the reason we control dog play is that we sometimes don’t feel too playful  ourselves.  After a day of work, we think we want to go home and sit down.  (ummm… weren’t many of us doing that all day?)

As the video reveals, true dog play is something different from exercise and often extends way beyond puppyhood.  Watch street dogs in Puerto Rico, as one example. Though they are semi-feral foragers, the adults love to play, chasing, tugging, growling and wrestling spontaneously. There is no real fighting, even though the play seems loud and fierce.  After tumbling and rolling about, the dogs get up, shake, and wander off together to find a snack.  Our point is:  dogs love to play throughout their lives.

If your dog has lost her playfulness, it could be because she’s not feeling well or it could be because there’s nobody to play with because YOU, the designated doggy companion, have lost your interest in play.

A playful dog is happy, energetic, flexible, well muscled and relaxed.  A playful dog owner has pretty much the same characteristics. Help your dog stay youthful and happy. Don’t discourage doggy play.  You know it’s good for you too.

Should you choose your dog’s friends?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Probably not. Arranged friendships are fairly perilous.  When I was in primary school, my grandmother had high hopes I’d befriend the children of people she approved of. We both ended up disappointed.

Unsuccessful photo session 1.

Perhaps for similar social, demographic, geographic reasons, we hope our dogs make friends with our friends’ dogs.  That way, everybody can have a good time at summer get togethers.  And the photo ops will be so charming.

Well dream on…  In our house, we have always hoped that Raja and the lovely Coco Bella would hit it off like peas and carrots.  We humans all get along just fine.  At our socials however, Raja and Coco Bella occupy different social strata.

Michelle and I are friends; why can't Bella and Raja just get along?

That’s right.  If he’s on the floor, she hops from couch to table to tuffet to chair, always at least 8 inches above his head.  When she comes down from the heights, he goes up. He even gives up his dinner to her if she even glances at it.  Maintaining distance is everything.

Who is Coco Bella’s special friend?  We don’t know if she has made her choice yet, but Raja’s friend is the lab next door.  Oh yes, they do look like the odd couple.  Ginger’s tall; he’s small.  She walks through puddles and rolls in the mud; he wears boots and outerwear.  She occasionally eats a stone or a bug.  He hardly even eats his food.  She’s submissive; he’s dominant.  What?  Yes, that’s how it goes.  He chooses the route and the pace.  If he barks, she sits.  If he stops, she lies down.  And if I pick him up, she cries at me until I give him back.

"I know who I like and who likes me."

But, hey, they’re happy together and, even though Ginger is six times Raja’s weight, she plays appropriately with him.  He has a strong sense of self preservation and doesn’t choose to hang with a rough crowd, either.  Well, last month he was attacked by a bantam Papillion, but Raja’s hair trigger flinch and sideways hop saved him from the goofy little nipper.  He didn’t really see it coming that time, but the Papillion was incapable of inflicting too much harm at any level.

So this summer at the dog park, as long as your dog seems to be aware of his surroundings and his options and all the dogs seem to be playing nice, you probably shouldn’t try to make your dog be friends with the dogs or people you like.  You choose who you want to hang with and leave that important decision of choosing a best doggy friend to your dog.

Update on Cy: Cy is doing much better.  He has an evaluation for his disk at a sports clinic this weekend as well as an agility session with his teacher.  Cy’s getting back on track!  Thanks to everyone who worried about him!

Responsibilities of Canine Agility Competition: CPE Agility Nationals Update

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Cy flies out of the tunnel at a full gallop at a 2011 CPE trial.

Raja and I are really disappointed because our dear friends Carolyn and Cy will not be competing in the CPE Nationals in Altamont, New York this upcoming weekend.  BUT, we are so proud of Carolyn for making the challenging decision.

Yesterday afternoon, Cy yipped and cringed.  His tail dropped; his behavior indicated he had neck pain again.  A visit to the vet this morning revealed nothing significant in the x-ray, but his vet did caution that Cy’s previous injury may give him trouble from time to time.  Cy will continue to do agility, but when the injury shows up, he should take ibuprofen, a prescribed muscle relaxant and he should not jump for a few weeks.

Cy and CT pose for a publicity picture.

There’s the rub.  To complete an agility course, jumping over low jumps, off a low teeter incline and off a low ramp are required moves. Maybe it would all go OK, but if it didn’t, Cy would be seeing a new vet in a different time zone far from home. Almost all active animals, like people, sustain little injuries from time to time.  Maybe a human athlete can make the personal decision to compete when not in tip top form, but to make the decision for a beloved pet, a pet who would literally walk a plank cheerfully if asked… well, it’s not ethical to ask.

Last week, a similar decision for the racehorse I’ll Have Another pulled the champion from the Belmont Stakes, the last race in the elite winner’s circle of Triple Crown contenders.  I’ll Have Another had the beginning of tendonitis in his left front leg.  Owner J. Paul Redman said that he and the horse’s team were unanimous.  I’ll Have Another will retire to a nice life at stud, so, snarking and speculating from the wings aside, the decision averts another racecourse-side tragedy.

Big expectations and high exchanges of money often accompany animal competitions.  Canine Agility is high value on the side of expectations, while nurturing animal/human companionship and genuine fun, unlike horse racing that probably is a lot lower on the expectation of animal / human fun and higher on the finance side.  Nonetheless, animal competition as a sport is an expensive hobby at many levels. Carolyn made the best decision for Cy at this time.

Cy’s probably disappointed too.  Carolyn considered bringing him to Altamont anyway just for an outing, but she knows he’d spend the whole time straining at the lead expecting his turn to run the course.   Our guess is he’ll get an ice cream party at Stewart’s Root Beer and an opportunity to compete at the state-of-the-art agility facility Think Pawsitive in New Berlin, Wisconsin as soon as his vet gives him the go ahead.

Cy and CT pose with some of their prizes and ribbons.