BonBon’s Injured Paw and the Value of Pet Insurance

Warning: Some images might be disturbing to some viewers, especially those who love puppies.

On Thanksgiving, we took BonBon for a long walk down by the Humber River, to watch the salmon jumping over the dams. As she was jumping over the wet rocks, BonBon slipped and fell onto another rock, and briefly lifted her paw in the air and hobbled around a bit. It only lasted a few seconds, and she soon regained her footing and was off and running again as she normally does. We had no idea this would be the beginning of a two-week ordeal that might have had dire repercussions…

That night, I took BonBon for a one-hour walk and she seemed totally normal. Her pace seemed a bit slow near the end of it, but I didn’t think anything of it. At least, not until the next morning, when she couldn’t put any weight on her paw, and it swelled to about twice its normal size! I called the vet immediately, and they had just opened, so we booked an appointment for 10:15am and I cleared my schedule for the day.

(Graphic images after the jump)

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Seven things I’ve learned about owning a puppy in a condo

When I was growing up, my family had a wonderful Black Lab, who touched all our lives in so many ways. Blacky lived to be nearly 15 years old, and when he finally passed on, it was like we all lost a piece of our heart.

Now in my early 30s, I recently made a decision to adopt a beautiful Chocolate Lab puppy. BonBon has brought that same energy and love into my new home, but I’ve noticed a few major differences in how we look after her. When I grew up with Blacky, my family lived in a large house with a backyard, but my current home is a condo unit. Here are seven things that every condo-living prospective dog owner should think about when deciding to bring a puppy into their home:

1) Get to know your breed before you choose a puppy. Some dogs are more energetic than others, and it’s not necessarily anything to do with their size; a small Havanese (a very high-energy dog) might require more exercise than a huge Mastiff (which is just a big couch potato). Websites like Dogs 101 from Animal Planet make for a great place to start, and if you want to learn about the relationship between humans and dogs, I highly recommend “And Man Created Dog” by National Geographic.

2) Check your condo’s policies on dog ownership. Some condos restrict the size of dogs to nothing larger than 30 pounds, while others ban dog ownership entirely. It’s critical that you find out the policies before you bring a dog into your building, because disputes between condo boards and dog owners can get highly acrimonious very quickly; you don’t want a silly policy to threaten to separate you from your loving companion.

3) When housetraining, keep a set of clothes near your bed so you can take your dog out quickly. Sometimes a few seconds can be the difference between a successful bathroom trip outside, and an accident on the carpet. Having my clothes nearby meant that I could get up and out of the unit quickly, which made a big difference in how fast BonBon could get to the grass. More successful bathroom trips outside lead to greater confidence in a puppy’s bathroom skills, which in turn, lead to fewer stains on the carpet. It’s not like you can just open the back door and send the dog into the yard; in a condo, every puppy bathroom break involves getting fully dressed and ready for the outdoors. Admittedly, taking the puppy out in nice weather is a lot easier, and winter presents its own unique challenges; if my neighbours knew how many times I took BonBon outside in the middle of the night, wearing nothing but snowpants and my winter coat… Well, I’d probably be a lot more popular around the condo!

4) Don’t be afraid to do crate-training, but be sure to do it properly. Crate-training a dog can alleviate a lot of potential problems, and a properly crate-trained dog will feel happy and secure in its crate. They will think of it as a safe space that it has some ownership of, almost like it’s their own room, or den. They will avoid making a mess inside their crate and it can be very helpful in housebreaking your puppy. However, it’s crucial to use the crate for the proper purposes. NEVER place a dog in its crate as a means of disciplining the dog for bad behaviour, because it will quickly begin to associate the crate with punishment, and will become anxious and fearful of being placed in the crate. Make sure the dog’s crate is a happy place, filled with treats and toys, that the dog enjoys being in; one tip is to put your dog’s food and water bowls in the crate, to make it that much more appealing.

5) Locate nearby parks with off-leash areas, and socialize your dog frequently. You’d be surprised how many parks in Toronto have off-leash areas, and they’re becoming popular in other areas as well. These are great places for your puppy to learn how to interact with other dogs. One of the biggest problems for a dog living in a condo is the lack of time spent with other dogs; check out the City of Toronto’s website for a list of off-leash areas near you. Just make sure your puppy has all her shots before you expose her to dog parks!

6) If you’re buying a new condo, remember that lower is better! There’s nothing worse than waiting for the elevator on the 20th floor, as your dog desperately tries to avoid an accident… If you live on a lower floor, get used to taking the stairs instead. We’re on a lower floor in our building so it’s quite easy to take BonBon out when she needs to go, and we don’t have to wait for the elevator to reach us – we just trot down the stairs and let her do her business outside.

7) Dogs are dirty, filthy, gross, disgusting creatures. Some of the things your dog does will appall you at the most visceral level, and you’ll find yourself absolutely sickened by some of your dog’s behaviours… So if you’re a clean freak or a germaphobe, don’t even consider it! They’ll shed all over your furniture, track mud all over the building, and do things with their mouths and tongues that will disgust you completely – but they’ll also show you all the love in the world, and you’ll realize it’s totally worth it. 🙂

Random puppy cuteness and life updates

Hey everyone, sorry about my blogging hiatus over the past month or so… in addition to all the holiday insanity, I had to move to a new location this month, and it proved to be quite the ordeal! First off, the place that I was originally looking at needed more extensive renovations than expected, and the property management company wanted me to sign a form allowing them to finish renovations up to seven days AFTER my move-in date, and not finish cleaning it until another fourteen days had passed! So, basically, you want me to move in on the 1st, let you continue renovating for another week, and continue cleaning for another two weeks? Yeah, I don’t think I’m moving my things into an unrenovated and unclean location, under any circumstances!

Luckily, I found another place nearby, which was even nicer than the first, even though it has two more flights of stairs to climb… but that’s ok, it’ll just help keep me in shape! The move was a little more difficult than I’m used to, but we got everything settled last week, and now it’s back to business as usual.

As for other things in my life, BonBon continues to get bigger and feistier all the time, and we’ve been taking her to dog parks on a regular basis. She’s completely fearless when it comes to playing with other puppies, and no matter how much bigger than her a dog happens to be, she’ll keep tussling and wrestling with the dog until she’s made herself the dominant. She took on a Great Dane three times her size last week, and she had it on its back in about 30 seconds flat! You know what they say – it’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, but the size of the fight in the dog. 😉

We’re going to take her up north again this weekend for more playtime in the snow, I’ll post pics as soon as we take them. In the meantime, here are two absolutely adorable puppy-related things that I just had to post: the first is a Subaru commercial that made squeal from its excessive cuteness, and the other is a Letter From a Puppy that tugged on my heartstrings. Enjoy!

A letter from your puppy

J.D.Ellis 2001, rottweilerdriver@aol.com

I am your puppy:
To Whom it may concern:

I am your puppy, and I will love you until the end of the earth, but please know a few things about me. I am a puppy; this means that my intelligence and capacity for learning are the same as an 8-month-old child. I am a puppy; I will chew EVERYTHING I can get my teeth on. This is how I explore and learn about the world. Even HUMAN children put things in their mouths. It’s up to you to guide me to what is mine to chew and what is not.

I am a puppy; I cannot hold my bladder for longer than 1-2 hours. I cannot “feel” that I need to poop until it is actually beginning to come out. I cannot vocalize nor tell you that I need to go, and I cannot have ‘bladder” and bowel control until 6-9 months of age. Do not punish me if you have not let me out for 3 hours and I tinkle. It is your fault. As a puppy, it is wise to remember that I NEED to go potty after eating, sleeping, playing, drinking and around every 2-3 hours in addition. If you want me to sleep through the night, then do not give me water after 7or 8 pm. A crate will help me learn to housebreak easier, and will avoid you being mad at me. I am a puppy, accidents will happen, please be patient with me! In time I will learn.

I am a puppy I like to play. I will run around, and chase imaginary monsters, and chase your feet and your toes and ‘attack’ you, and chase fuzz balls, other pets, and small kids. It is play; it’s what I do. Do not be mad at me or expect me to be sedate, mellow and sleep all day. If my high energy level is too much for you, maybe you should consider an older rescue from a shelter or Rescue group. My play is beneficial, use your wisdom to guide me in my play with appropriate toys, and activities, like chasing a rolling ball, or gentle tug games, or plenty of chew toys for me. If I nip you too hard, talk to me in “dog talk”, by giving a loud YELP, I will usually get the message, as this is how dogs communicate with one another. If I get too rough, simply ignore me for a few moments, or put me in my crate with an appropriate chew toy. I am a puppy; hopefully you would not yell, hit or strike, kick, or beat a 6 month old human infant, so please do not do the same to me. I am delicate, and impressionable. If you treat me harshly now, I will grow up learning to fear being hit, spanked, kicked or beat. Instead, please guide me with encouragement and wisdom. For instance, If I am chewing something wrong, say “no chew!” and hand me a toy I can chew. Better yet, pick up ANYTHING that you don’t want me to get into. I can’t tell the difference between your old sock and your new sock, or an old sneaker and your 200.00 Nikes.

I am a puppy; and I am a creature with feelings and drives much like your own, but yet also very different. Although I am not human in a dog suit, neither am I an unfeeling robot who can instantly obey your every whim. I truly DO want to please you, and be a part of your family, and your life. You got me (I hope) because you want a loving partner and companion, so do not relegate me to the backyard when I get bigger, do not judge me harshly but instead mold me with gentleness and guidelines and training into the kind of family member you want me to be…

I am a puppy; and I am not perfect, and I know you are not perfect either. I love you anyway. So please, learn all you can about training, and puppy behaviors and caring for me from your veterinarian, books on dog care and even researching on the computer! Learn about my particular breed and it’s “characteristics”. This will give you understanding and insight into WHY I do all the things I do. Please teach me with love, patience, the right way to behave and socialize me with training in a puppy class or obedience class, we will BOTH have a lot of fun together.

I am a puppy and I want more than anything to love you, to be with you, and to please you. Won’t you please take time to understand how I work? We are the same you and I, in that we both feel hunger, pain, thirst, discomfort, fear, but yet we are also very different and must work to understand one another’s language, body signals, wants and needs. Some day I will be a handsome dog, hopefully one you can be proud of and one that you will love as much as I love you.

Love,
your puppy

May be reposted and shared freely as long as this credit appears with the post given to J.D.Ellis 2001, rottweilerdriver@aol.com.

BonBon in the snow

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BonBon is almost six months old now, and just about to enjoy her first winter. We decided to spend the weekend up in Huntsville, and took her on a few hiking trails in Algonquin Provincial Park. She had never seen snow before, and she loved it! It was almost a foot deep and pretty much up to her belly, but she romped through it with great delight, only stopping to make sure her human companions weren’t falling too far behind.

Here are some of the best pics of our weekend up north, including a very unique picture we took as we were leaving the park – two moose having an intimate moment by the side of the road! We didn’t want to get too close (bull moose are VERY protective of their mates at this time of year) but we took another pic of them after they saw our car and scurried off into the bushes – I assume they picked up right where they left off after we drove away. 😉


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When the “Spirit of Giving” Overcomes the “Spirit of Getting”

When I was growing up, I really enjoyed Christmas. I loved tobagganing in the park down the street, having a big fire in the fireplace, and of course, having two weeks off from school. But as I got older, the so-called “Christmas Spirit” started to wane, and eventually disappeared altogether. It was replaced by strong feelings of disdain towards the commercialization of the holiday, and a general malaise would overcome me every year. I couldn’t stand the sound of Christmas music, I hated fighting for parking spots at the mall, and anxiety over whether I had purchased appropriate gifts for friends and family became overwhelming. In a nutshell, I really started to hate Christmas. It became a symbol of greed and consumption, rather than a joyous holiday event.

As another December dawned last year, I found myself dreading the holidays once again, and I agonized over “what to buy” for my family. Should I get my dad another tie he’ll never wear, or another tool he’ll never use? Should I get my mom some more scented candles that she’ll never light, or more exotic bath soaps to display on her bathroom counter? Will my brothers and I pick out random stores to buy gifts cards from, or will we do the same thing as we had before – exchange generic and impersonal Christmas cards with exactly the same amount of money in them? The whole exercise seemed so pointless and so painful, I was all but ready to give up on it completely.
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Sex Brains & Money – Episode 8

Great episode today! BonBon the chocolate lab puppy is getting so big, I don’t think I’ll be able to have her in my lap anymore. But she was a wonderful Santa’s Little Helper today, while I was talking about how a friend of mine helped me rediscover the holiday spirit last year, by encouraging me to give money to charity instead of buying pointless gifts for friends and family:

Also, an interview with a client! Christian decided to join me today to talk about how he started visiting escorts, and what he likes about seeing sex workers:

Next, an interview with Helen Lee of The Living City Foundation, talking about her organization’s holiday gifts, and the importance of supporting local causes:

Finally, I closed out the show with a little bit more about giving to charity during the holidays:

BonBon visits the farm

I haven’t been writing too much about politics or sex work or activism or whatever lately, mostly because I’ve been really busy with other things – such as taking BonBon on random adventures in the GTA! This weekend, we took her to Bronte Creek Provincial Park for some hiking and exploring, and she got her first exposure to a handful of farm animals she hadn’t seen before. She was a little confused at first, but of course, her curiosity got the better of her and it didn’t take her long to say hello to all the fuzzy creatures around her. Enjoy the pics! 🙂


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