Keeping your dog happy is one of life’s little pleasures, for me. I mean, how hard is it to do things for someone you love so much?
Our family members are huge animal lovers. We have had so many furry friends that have become a part of our family over the years – count ’em – 8 cats, 2 chinchillas, and 4 dogs!
We are left with just one now, our beloved Ashleigh. I thought it would be fun to share the story of how she found our way into our hearts and some of the things we do to keep her happy and healthy.
Keeping Your Dog Happy is Easy if You Follow Just a Few Simple Tips.
For years, my husband resisted getting a dog. We had enjoyed a long succession of cats in our time, and he was very happy with them, but for some reason, getting a dog seemed to be something he didn’t want to do.
We even had a friend send us a “dog a day” calendar page to tempt him, all to no avail. But when Rusty, a huge German Shepherd, got lost and found his way to Richard’s business, all that ended.
My husband came home one day and said “come see what I have outside!” It only took one look at his big ears and long nose, peeking around the corner of the car, and I knew my husband had become a dog owner.
Over the years, we have had three more Germans, and they have won over our hearts, and completely overcome my husband’s resistance.
Richard called this friendly dog his “big boy.” But after just two weeks of loving him, we lost Rusty, when our ad for “found dog” got answered and he went back to his first family.
When this happened, Frannie came into our lives and really took up residence in our heart. Sadly, she died several years later from a tumor and we were devastated.
Right after we got Frannie, our dear Rusty had come back to us, because the owners no longer wanted him. Can you imagine?
Not wanting that big boy? Frannie and Rusty were inseparable for the next few years until she died. Rusty was with us from age 3 years until we had to have him put down when he was 11 years old.
One day, long after Frannie had died and Rusty was about 7, our phone rang and things changed in a big way. Jim, the breeder from whom we got Frannie, gave us a call and told us that Frannie’s son, Caesar, had sired a litter and we were welcome to one of her grandbabies.
We couldn’t get out to his house fast enough to choose! As luck would have it, my daughter Jess fell in love with one and I fell in love with another, so we brought both of them home, with the understanding that whichever one Rusty didn’t get along with would go back the next week.
Silly us…you guessed it. By the next week, Rusty, Jess, Richard and I were totally in love, and couldn’t part with either of them, and now we had three dogs! I mean…I ask you, could YOU have resisted these balls of fun?
Sassy is the fluffy one. She is a Shiloh Shepherd and ended up looking and acting just like Frannie. Ashleigh is the one in Jess’ lap who spent the next 10 years trying to be the Alpha, and not succeeding very well.
In her heart of hearts, she is a softie, and softies can’t be Alphas, no matter how much they try. Sassy was really the Alpha, but she was kind enough to let Ashleigh try to be top dog! Ashleigh is now our only dog. Her personality has totally changed since Sassy died last year. She would be better called “Shadow” now.
She never leaves our side and has the most endearing nature.
- 100 trips to the shed √ I’ll come too!
- Going for a walk? √√ You better not leave me behind!
- Time for treats √√√ I’ll be sweet and just stare at you, until you relent and give me my favorite treat
- Time for dinner √√√√ Oh, goodie my favorite food!!
Any dog owner will know that having an animal is not about just having a cute and furry puppy. Those puppies grow up and need lots of care and love. Here are some of my tips for making sure that your dog is happy, healthy and lives a long time as a member of your family.
1. Dogs need exercise
All dogs, and German Shepherds in particular, are prone to hip problems later in life. Regular exercise helps to keep their joints healthy.
Ashleigh and I walk together all the time and it’s a highlight of her day. She is 11 and shows no signs of slowing down (although she sometimes steals my seat on the Lake Benson walking trail!)
2. Go for a Ride in the Car.
Ashleigh likes adventure just as much as we do. She is happiest when she is with us – as in “I want to be wherever you are.”
And if that means a ride in the car, even better!
3. Use treats for rewards
We all love treats. (peanut butter and chocolate are mine, and my figure shows this love!) Dogs love them too.
I use treats to reward Ashleigh for good behavior and as an incentive to learn new things. I think it’s safe to say that she LOVES it when they come out!
4. Talk to your dog
She won’t really know what you are saying but just listening to the sound of your voice will make her happy.
All I have to do is say the word “Ashleigh” and she comes right over to me to see what I have to say! Look at this picture of me talking to her and tell me she is not happy!
5. Give them shade
I don’t know about you, but in the summer time I feel HOT and love the shade. And I don’t wear a full body fur coat. Be sure to give your dog plenty of indoor “air conditioned” time and when they are outside.
Make sure they have a shady spot to lay down. This is one of Ashleigh’s favorite spots. She sits right behind us when we sit in our slider, under the shade of our big magnolia tree. Heaven for any dog!
6. Feed them well
This means, sorry folks, no table scraps. I know we all want to do this, but it’s not in the best for our dog’s health.
Instead, give your dog a food based on their age. Choose the best dog food that you can afford which has natural ingredients, if possible.
7. Take your dog swimming
Swimming is a great exercise for dogs, especially older ones with arthritis and other joint problems.
Sure they get messy in the water, but that’s what baths are for!
8. And finally, fresh clean water is a must
Get in the habit of changing the water when you feed the dog. Ashleigh gets very very thirsty, especially in hot weather.
Fresh water is cheap, always available and makes for a very happy dog.
Basically dogs are fairly easy to keep happy. They require love, good food and water and some fun and exercise in their life.
If you give these simple things to them, they will reward you in spades by being a loyal and wonderful companion as long as you are fortunate to have them with you.