Taylor and Madison – two dogs, best friends and my heros

I was reading stories of dogs rescuing people and I was reminded of the time I had my own experiences with my dogs alerting me to dangers and rescuing me from a nasty fall.
Madison who is now nearly thirteen years old managed to alert me to danger.
I had come home from work, exhausted and desperate for couch time. Finally I made my way to the couch, laid down, opened my book and started reading.
At the time Leroy and Madison were asleep on their beds and all seemed very peaceful and relaxing when Madison got up from her bed and started to nudge me. I thought she wanted a pat, which I gave her, took off her dog collar and continued reading. Again Madison nudged me this time a little more forcefully and again I just patted her but did not look up from my book. A moment later she nudged me so hard that the book fell out of my hands. I looked at Madison about to reprimand her for being so demanding but as I was about to speak I saw the biggest White Tailed Spider only centimeters away from my bare legs on the couch. I looked at Madison and her eyes screamed at me to move. Which I did at a rapid pace.
I had no idea there was a spider let alone one that was so close to me and they are not the sort of spiders some one wants close to them. They are a particularly nasty spider which is known for delivering a horrible bite which can ulcerate.
It was very unusual behaviour for Madison to be so pushy and demanding. I will never forget the look in her eyes trying to gain my attention. I am sure she saved me from a nasty spider experience. I didn’t feel comfortable on the couch for days after that close encounter.

My first dog Taylor was only a few months old when he alerted me to a smoldering fire in the living room. I had been busy in the kitchen when he began barking and barking. Firstly I just yelled for him to be quiet but his barking was relentless. Angrily I stomped down the hall only to find a room full of smoke and a cushion from the couch smoldering on top of the heater about to ignite. I was quickly able to extinguish the smoldering cushion but hate to think what would have happened if Taylor had not alerted me to the situation. He was only a young pup but he had known something was wrong.

Quite a few years later I was sitting watching T.V with Taylor dozing at my feet, suddenly Taylor sprang up and raced down the house towards the front door. I heard the front door slam and then I could see someone running up the street away from the house. I realised I had forgotten to lock the front screen and an intruder had entered my house unbeknown to me but Taylor had heard them and went straight into protection mode. Again I dread the thought of what would have happened had Taylor not been by my side.

The third time Taylor came to my rescue was when I was bush walking. I had decided to go on quite a big bush walk which explored historical sites in my local area. At that time I was living in the Adelaide Hills so I started my journey from home with Taylor on the lead. I had been walking for only thirty minutes or so and I had let Taylor off the lead and he was happily exploring the gully ahead of me. He was quite some distance from me when suddenly I slipped and fell straight onto my knee. The pain was rather shocking and took my breath away. Taylor was instantly at my side, it was like one second he was three hundred meters away and then whoosh right there next to me and in fact I was still in the process of completing my fall when he was suddenly by my side. A wet nudging nose on my face as I gripped my knee. It suddenly dawned on me that although I was not far from home I was a long way from home with a knee that I didn’t think I could stand on. It was as if Taylor knew I had to get to my feet and he had to help me out of there back to home. I gingerly attempted to get up off the ground and I found that Taylor was leaning into me quite heavily, at first I had no idea what he was doing and then I realised he was allowing me to lean on him to get up. I pushed myself up with my good leg and leaned on Taylor to get to a standing position. Taylor didn’t budge he stayed by my side and as I tentatively put some weight onto my knee. It really hurt but I could weight bare a little on it and I was just able hobble back up the hill and head for home. Taylor stuck to me like glue and offered his support by taking some of my weight when I had to climb back through the rocks. The journey back home took nearly two hours as I had to stop several times to rest. He never left my side, he knew I was hurt. Taylor had never been trained to assist me. I had just trained him like a normal dog with the general sit, stand and stay commands, nothing out of the ordinary just everyday dog training.
My knee eventually got better but I will never forget the help Taylor had given me and again without him my walk home would have been much more difficult.
What an amazing dog he was a great friend and protector. Unfortunately Taylor passed away in 2007 leaving Madison and us very broken hearted. He’s big smile always live in our hearts.

There are numerous stories of extraordinary feats dogs have done to save people. I have experienced first hand their protective and nurturing natures and I truly believe there is more to dogs than we know.

Dogs on the bed or dogs off the bed?

Is your bed a no go zone for your pets or is it OK for your pets to sleep on the bed? I was very adamant when Leroy was a puppy that he was going to sleep on his puppy bed on the floor beside my bed, no way was I going to share my bed with the dog. Yeah right!

It wasn’t long before Leroy was sleeping on the bed. He was quite clever because he would start out on his bed and give me a false sense of security that he would stay there. Then at some point throughout the night he would sneakily get up on my bed and make himself comfortable. I would then awake to an empty puppy bed while Leroy was snuggled next to me, thumping his tail with a look of “I don’t know how it happened but I ended up on your bed”.

I would then demand he got off the bed, and return to his dog bed which he did. I would puff up my chest and remind myself I am the top dog. Then the next morning I would wake with Leroy on the bed again but had no memory of him jumping up through the night. Each morning I would wake up to find him on my bed and each morning I would go through the same ritual, telling him to get off and putting him back on his dog bed.

I had bought him a very comfortable dog bed so there was no excuse of him not sleeping in it. I would find him on it during the daytime all curled up so he definitely liked it. For a joke one night I pretended to go to bed in his dog bed. He was most confused as I faked falling asleep in it. He didn’t seem to mind and seemed to be amused at my antics. I didn’t last too long. I moved back into my bed and Leroy jumped straight into his dog bed, did a few circles and fell asleep. I woke up the next day with his head on the pillow next to me.

I would like to think I decided he could sleep on the bed but really I know I caved in. I could never catch him doing it and he eventually won me over with his cute morning face of innocence. He still starts out the night on his dog bed and sneaks up at some time through the night. I now have a rug on my bed which seems to protect the quilt from his dog hair.

I would say in general beds are best left for humans to sleep in but who would I be fooling. I love waking up to Leroy. The first thing I see is a big smiley face full of joy and excitement of what the new day holds, yes he could express that from his dog bed and I know deep down how wrong it is that he sleeps on my bed but….I’m a sucker!

Whether you prefer your dog on your bed, in a dog bed or sleeping outside, the key thing for having a well behaved dog is that it is your choice – when and where. The fact is that dogs are pack animals and much prefer to sleep with the pack. In cold climates it’s very natural for them to lie against or near each other for warmth. Digging ‘the dog bed’ is also very natural because dogs would ‘burrow’ shallow beds to sleep in. For example clearing away leaves, twigs, or grasses to create a ‘sealed’ dog bed. Hence why the seem to bunch up the doona in their favour or do a 100 circles prefer settling down. Keep this in mind when expecting your dog to sleep in their own dog bed and not yours. It’s not always the ‘comfort’ factor but the company factor that they naturally crave.

Dog Park Behaviour

Leroy loves to go to a particular dog park that I don’t like. I always grimace as I walk in the gate but Leroy smiles from ear to ear. I like to call the dog park the “Dirt Bowl”. There is only one undercover seating area which has an uncomfortable atmosphere around it and often its the unfriendly regulars who have claimed the bench and table. The dogs always fight to climb up onto the table to have the top dog position in the park and there is always a certain tension of a dog fight about to happen.

Needless to say I don’t like the people there and I often find the dogs to be manic, unfocused, aggressive and bored.
One day I rode down to the Dust Bowl with Leroy and rode around the small inside boundary track of the park. I had all the dogs following me and all the owners looking at me bewildered while they sat on their butts. All the dogs loved it and they ran and ran and for a little while the dogs had some sort of purpose in the park other than to hang around their seated owners and fight for the top dog position on the table.

Most of the dogs in the “ Dust Bowl” are bored and I believe dogs can be become bored with dog parks. They may not be on their dog lead but the dog park is just like a backyard only a bit bigger sometimes. I simply don’t think it’s enough stimulation for a back yard dog to go to a small dog park for an hour or less a couple of times per week with an owner who does not interact with it nor pay the dog any attention. Is it always held close to you so you can grab the dog collar if it seems to get too close to another dog. Yes the dog is getting out, yes it’s socialising but is it enough? I don’t think so, dogs need more than a small dog park for stimulation.

Most people consider dog games to involve a dog chasing a ball or stick but games don’t just have to involve throwing something to them to fetch, dogs need mental exercise too.

Dogs are smart and they need to exercise their intelligence. There are some great games to play with your dog that don’t really involve too much effort on our part, which is good if you don’t have a lot of time. I love to play the Where Is It game with Leroy and Madison. I simply take one of their favourite toys and hide it somewhere in the house or back yard and they just have to find it. Sometimes it can take them ages to find the toy or object but they keep searching and using their brain to find it. Now days you can buy lots of dog toys where food can be hidden and the dogs need to work out how to get the food out again and have to use their brain to work out what the best method of extraction to apply.

Simple training is a great way to mentally stimulate your dog. Teach them something other than sit, lay down or stay. Teach them to crawl on their belly or roll over. Teach them in a manner that’s fun for them to learn and of course be patient.A really easy and simple game is to put some dry food in one hand, show your dog which hand it is in, put your hands in front of them and ask them to find the food. Keep mixing which hand has the food in it and you will make their brain work to try and find the right hand with the food in it. While you do this you can also teach them to wait until you are ready for them to start to play the game.
I play a game with Leroy in the car called “Where’s the dogs”. I ask Leroy if he can see any dogs. He instantly looks around and tries to find any dogs walking or playing as we drive by. I have taught this game over time and now he will actively seek out dogs when I ask him and I can see he enjoys this observation game.

I am always making up new dog games to keep it fresh and interesting for them. I discovered they love it when I hide around the house or garden and they have to find me, it’s really simple for us but a huge amount of joy for them.

Please don’t be one of those boring dog park people who sit and ignore their dog, play some games with your dog while you are in the park, hide the ball from them, get them to find the treats in your hand or around the park.
Help your dog to learn to think and gain confidence because it’s really easy to do and you will be rewarded with a happier and more intelligent dog friend and you won’t look so boring at the dog park either.