dogs-allowed

Don't look away

“ GRANT WHERE DID THEY GO?” Candice shouted. 

“LOOK I TURNED FOR OE SECOUND AND-”

“GUYS, COME HERE NOW!” Carlos had a bat with him as the three went into the yard. 

Okay, lets get you caught up to what happened. 

So, Grant and Candice were walking their dogs, when an emergency happened. ( Carlos lost a bet and needed them…don’t ask) So, they walked their dogs to where he was, and it just so happened to be a huge sign that said ‘No dogs allowed.’

Candice, who was already getting an eerie feeling from this place told grant one of the, should watch the dogs. 

He, wanting to be ‘the man’ said she should. 

But before anyone could talk further someone pulled her in. He of course freaked out and set the leashes down, and banged on the door. 

“CANDICE?” he yelled. his heart beating faster than he can feel. 

He heard two screams. “oh no!” he thought. 

he turned around and the dogs.were.gone….Great.

“JET? NORA? ZOE? OH SHI-”

“ Grant!” he went in a haunted house, and he lost a bet because he got scared, lol, I did too tho, but NO MROE BETS.. where the heck is zoe?” She asked all at once. 

Candice stopped smiling when she did not see their fluffy friends. “Where are the dogs?” 

Grant’s face turned red and he started rambling. “I have no idea I just-”

“GRANT WHERE DI THEY GO?”

“LOOK I TURNED AROUND FOR ONCE SECOUND AND-”

“GUYS COME HERE, NOW!” The two looked and saw cisco with a bat. 

“Where the hell did you get that?” Candice asked. 

“ I have my secrets, you have yours” he walked slowly star wars style to the yard. 

“Guys, i’m scared” Grant blankly stated. 

Candice turned around. “You are supposed to be the flash, grant”

“I am, I…we should call the police”

“And say what, our friend lost 20 dollars because he got scared at a haunted house, and some ghost took our dogs, and now we are going to find them with the help of the flash? they will think we are on drugs…grant”

Grant swallowed hard and followed her. “A-are you sure this is safe?” he asked rubbing his neck. 

“Sweetie, everything will be okay? Okay?” Candice leaned up to kiss him on the cheek. 

“ Okay, yeah, I’m the flash, I am THE FLASH, my name is barry Allen, and I am the fastest man alive-” 

Candice laughed as she heard Grant recite his intro in full on Barry Allen mode as they walked. “Carlos?” she called out. 

Finally they saw where he was, along with the dogs.

“how did they get here man?” Grant asked. Candice smiled. 

“Zoe!” she went to hug her fluffy pet when she heard growling. “ oh, don’t tell me your mad” she said kindly. 

Grant sat down and tried to get Nora and Jet and the same thing happened. 

The two looked at each other. “ what do you think happened?”

Grant shrugged. “ you don’t think aliens are real…do you?”

Candice smiled and kissed him. “No”

The two picked up their pets and walked with Carlos to the car.

“ Carlos are you okay?” Candice asked. Carlos turned around slowly. 

“Yeah fine” 

imgur.com
Recently found this on Facebook and it sums up my hate for people who breed these dogs perfectly.
Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet.
By Imgur

This is AMAZING!

For those who can’t go to the link, the following is what it says:

FYI, none of this is mine. It was posted by Bilton veterinary centre, the same one as in the picture. All credit goes to them but I felt it was important to get word out about some of the breeds of dogs that are riddled with health problems. If you own a pug that’s perfectly healthy that’s cool, but it’s doesn’t change the fact that an alarming number of short nosed (almost no nosed at this point) dogs have extreme difficulty with tasks like breathing and blinking.

 "So I am going to have a rant now and I apologise in advance if this upsets anyone, but here goes.

   Last week, I managed to reduce a lovely family to floods of tears.  They had brought their new dog in to come and see me.  There was a young lady, her husband and their two children of about 8 or 9 years old and they were all already absolutely besotted with their new pet - their first dog, and they had been planning it for several years.

   The dog was a 5-month-old French Bulldog that they had picked up from a breeder about 4 weeks previously.  They were concerned that their new dog may have “a chill” as the dog had sore runny eyes,  difficulty in eating and kept making a choking sound.  They had also noticed the dog had a “funny smell” about him. As I examined the dog it became quickly apparent what was occurring and my heart sank.

  This dog was yet another increasingly popular “short-nosed” breed that was suffering horribly from a myriad of problems - all related to its poor breeding and its unfortunate anatomy. After the examination, I found that this dog had: 

 - Eyeballs too big for its eye sockets. So much so, that when he blinked, the eyelids didn’t fully cover the eyeballs.  (Imagine going out on a windy day and not being able to blink!) This had resulted in deep painful ulcers forming on both eyes that in the short term would require intensive treatment and could feasibly result in the rupture of one or both eyeballs. 

  - The bones forming the front of his face (the maxilla) were so squashed by virtue of this style of this breed (called the brachycephalics), that the soft-tissue structures of the throat are compressed and forced backwards -  obstructing his larynx.  Amongst other things, his soft palate was so elongated (relative to his skull) that it kept getting trapped over his wind-pipe.

 -His nostrils were completely occluded, so absolutely no airflow was possible through his nose.  All of his breathing had to take place through his open mouth.  This meant that whilst he was eating/sleeping he was going through bouts of asphyxiation and so would have to spit the food out or wake up and open his mouth - purely so he would be able to breathe.  This explained the “choking” sound that there were hearing all the time.  He could just manage to breathe with his mouth open, but this then exacerbated the problems with his soft palate.

 - The skin fold over the top of the nose (caused by the squashed face involuting the skin) had caused a crevice of around 2-3 cms deep, where the skin was rubbing against its self.  In this area, the skin was ulcerated and was full of liquid pus.  It was this that the owners were smelling.  This was incredibly painful for the animal and he cried every time I tried to clean it.

 -The skin around his feet, ears, armpits and groin was red raw and inflamed.   He clearly was very itchy and had been licking at these areas repeatedly - which had, in turn, made them more sore and painful.  This is very typical of a condition called “atopy” which is very common in many breeds, particularly the Bulldogs (French and English). So at this point, the shocked owners asked what needed to be done to sort him out.

  So I had to explain that he would need: 

 - Bilateral eyelid shortening surgery that would allow the dog to blink properly and prevent further ulcers from forming.  As well as long-term medication to improve the quality of his tears.

 - Complex soft tissue surgery of the back of the throat to, (amongst other things) shorten his soft palate to facilitate his breathing.

 - He would need both of his nostrils opening up so as to allow adequate air flow to be possible to allow him to breathe/exercise/eat/sleep properly.

 -He would need a “face-lift” to remove a large amount of excess skin on the front of his face, to try and open up the fold that was causing so much infection and pain.

 -He may need allergy testing, food trials, anti-inflammatories etc to try and manage the atopic skin disease that he has. 

 *He needs all of this fairly urgently.  

 *He can’t have all of this done at once and so will require several anaesthetics and complex procedures to be done over a period of time.   

*He is only 5 months old. 

*He needs all of this doing - just so that he can live a vaguely normal life.   

*HE IS SUFFERING. 

 Also - he is not insured.  It transpired that the new owners looked into insurance but the premium was so high for this breed, that they felt they couldn’t afford it.  To move forward, he would have to go to a specialist veterinary unit (sadly recently set up to deal with the increasing number of very poorly brachycephalic dogs with extreme conformational issues) and this treatment could cost upwards of £8,000 to correct.

 Once I had discussed all this with the owners - they were understandably distraught.  They had hoped for a “cute” and “cuddly” family pet that they had seen examples of spread throughout popular media.  They had no idea that these problems even existed.  Instead, they now have a much-loved dog that is miserable, has a long journey ahead of it and one that they cannot afford to have fixed.

 The family left the room in floods of tears, armed with medication that would temporarily alleviate some of the symptoms and try to make the poor little dog more comfortable.  From what I have later found out, this dog has gone to a rescue centre to be rehomed.  It may have moved away, but its problems most certainly will not have done.

 Pugs, Frenchies, English Bulldogs and Shar-Peis are amongst the breeds which are increasingly being abandoned in vast numbers as people cannot cope with their ongoing problems, illnesses and costs.  It upsets us all hugely when we see how many of the problems frequently associated with these breeds are now classed as “normal”. I will commonly hear “Oh it is normal for this breed to struggle with A, B or C”. NO IT ISN’T NORMAL!

 These trendy flat-faced breeds are some of the most expensive puppies to currently buy.  There is serious money for people who sell a litter of these puppies and so the incentive to breed is VERY high.  It must be said that there are responsible breeders who are trying to “back-breed” these types of dogs to have longer noses, smaller eyes, more open nostrils etc and try to reduce the incidence of these conditions, and these people should be applauded.  However, puppy farms and irresponsible owners are rife, and these “breeders” don’t seem to care a jot about the long-term prognosis and what the future holds for “their” breed. 

 It is also worth noting that many of these breeds are unable to give birth naturally now too (due to the shape of the puppy’s skulls) and so the mothers often go through multiple caesareans… 

 PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STOP AND THINK before you buy.  Come and talk to US about the breeds that you are interested in - and we shall give you the whole picture.

 I am completely exhausted and totally demoralised seeing these type of problems on a daily basis.  There are enough horrible illnesses, diseases and potential accidents out there without being destined to be unwell before you are even born.

   Whilst people are still buying these dogs, people will still breed them and the problem will never go away.“

In defense of sniff walks (and the dogs that need them)

It’s very easy for us, as dog owners, to get into a routine that ignores some of the basic drives of our dogs. Sometimes the desires of our dogs are annoying and inconvenient. Sometimes dangerous. Sometimes they are weird and slow us down. But sometimes they are a necessary form of enrichment.

When we work, our dogs are often shut in the house or kennel to rest. When we sleep, we expect them to sleep. When we take them for walks, we expect them to get moving at all times. When they stop to smell the grass (or graze), a weird rock, or a squirrel trail, we often get frustrated and call them to us. After all, most of us are on a schedule. I find myself forgetting that while I experience stimulation constantly, all day every day, dogs do not get the same opportunity. I propose that when possible, and when a dog expresses interest, we allow them those moments to sniff. To track. To excite themselves and eat the grass. After all, their life experiences are shaped by what we allow, and often what we have time for. Make time to let your dog be a dog! Most of us could use the moment to take in our surroundings and observe the world, too.

This property is HOA-Free.

This is a long one, because it involves a growing escalation of actions. TLDR at the bottom. Some terms are translated because I don’t live in an English-speaking country.

We moved houses last year, to the ugliest in the street. The previous owners must have loved Mondriaan, because the front was red/blue/yellow in windowframes and door. One paintjob, many thankful neighbors and several months later, I get an invitation to a voluntary “Collective of inhabitants”, the terms read like an opt-in HOA that you can never leave. A long list of restrictions, and no benefits? No thanks.

Keep reading

i’ve been getting a lot of messages lately (and unsurprisingly, considering how unrepentantly i’ve been reblogging stuff from them) from followers asking me for podcast recommendations - and i love getting those so thank you, guys! - and i thought i’d make a masterpost of what i’ve both a) finished and b) enjoyed since i’ve started bingeing them.  and, as an extra added bonus, what has canonical lgbt+ representation (since i know what you guys are into [waggles eyebrows]).

1. the bright sessions

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  this is definitely the first podcast that i’ve fallen in love with as hard as my original gateway podcast: welcome to night vale.  it’s so well-written, the characters well-drawn, the premise fascinating - atypicals, or people with some sort of special ability, in therapy - and it’s such a positive story and experience that i can’t help but feel better on days i listen to it.  it really believes in humanity and that’s such a wonderful thing in this day and age.  plus, the voice acting is killer.

2. eos 10

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  i don’t think it’s been officially confirmed that dr. dalias is, at the very least, bisexual (in fact, the official channels seem to be dancing around it, possibly so as not to spoil anything in the upcoming season), though it’s been hinted at plenty in story.  especially as i don’t know how else you can explain a supposedly “straight” male character getting called out on repeatedly thinking about a naked man during a group mind-link experience.  that aside, it is freaking hilarious.  the premise is doctors in space, one formerly drug-addicted doctor helping to stabilize a currently alcoholic one with amazing side characters including nurse jane johns and levi, a hypochondriac alien and deposed prince who seems to have a personal vendetta against wearing pants.  it’s well-acted, cleverly written and a freaking joy to listen too.  so funny and so smart, i can’t recommend it enough!

3. the penumbra podcast

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  so much queer representation it’s bananas.  this ask the creators got is actually pretty representative of their approach to the show, slyly funny and very gay.  our main character is a genderbending queer private investigator who’s lost his heart head over a sweet-smelling thief with a heart of gold and more aliases than jennifer garner, all set against a noir backdrop.  oh, and on mars.  yeah, you read all of that right.  there are a few awesome side stories as well, including a couple of horror ones (that have no effect on the main juno steel story line, so can be skipped - and the creators are VERY GOOD about warning what’s to come in the episode notes), as well as lesbian outlaws and a disabled knight.  there’s literally nothing not to love.  EXCEPT FOR HOW JUNO STEEL WON’T LET HIMSELF HAVE NICE THINGS.

4. the black tapes

hey, hi, if you’re into horror, suspense, creepery or demons, this is so very much for you.  the premise is that alex reagan, our host, begins a podcast to interview people with interesting professions.  she starts out with dr. richard strand, a paranormal investigator whose mission statement is to debunk all things paranormal.  he even has an institute that offers a one million dollar prize for proof of the paranormal, which he has never even come close to having to part with.  while alex is interviewing him, she comes across a handful of black vhs tapes: the only cases that strand hasn’t been able to definitively solve yet.  the technology to disprove these incidents simply hasn’t come far enough, in his opinion.  needless to say, she never moves on from dr. strand and the mystery of the black tapes.  each episode, alex investigates another of the black tapes and much later on realizes it’s possible that they’re all connected.  oh my god, i almost got chills just writing that, it’s so good, it’s so real, because dr. strand is such a good anchor to reality.  alex will occasionally lose her skeptic’s perspective; dr. strand does not.  and once alex starts experiencing intense insomnia, making you realize your narrator might not be so reliable?  things somehow manage to get even murkier.  i really, really adored this one.  it’s paranormal set in the most normal of normal worlds, only making it that much spookier.

5. wooden overcoats

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  okay, well, if you’ve ever watched black books?  this is kind of like black books, aka one of my all-time favorite shows.  rudyard funn is just as incapable and universally disliked as bernard black, which was all well and good when the village of piffling vale (which is very nearly a town, you know!) only had one funeral home to choose from.  unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore.  eric chapman has moved his funeral home right across the street and stolen all the business from rudyard, his embalmer (cum part-owner) and twin sister, antigone, and georgie, their assistant.  to add insult to injury, he’s charming and universally adored by everyone except those at funn funerals.  very british, very ridiculous, and very funny!  WE GET THE BODY IN THE COFFIN IN THE GROUND ON TIME.  (well, like that one time they did.  [coughs])

6. ars pardoxica

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  i listened to this one pretty slowly, for me.  it’s very much plot over character, at least in my opinion.  which is fair since there’s quite a lot of plot and set dressing to establish.  we’re following (dr.) sally grissom, a scientist from the twenty-first century who accidentally creates time travel and ends up stuck back in the 1940s.  think a bombs and eisenhower.  it was always interesting, and the paradoxes created by the time travel experiments they kept doing were fascinating (i love time travel stuff because of the paradoxes it creates) but i didn’t get really ravenous for it until season two, which is when i really felt it picked up speed.  you’ve got anthony stuck in a literal CAGE - a “blackroom” bubble set outside of time, sally trying to garden (oh god), a gang consisting of a veteran, a (former) widow and time doubles trying to bring down ODAR (the company sally used to work for, and that anthony still does) and esther sliding down the ladder of morally unsound one determined rung at a time and it makes for a REALLY grabbing audio drama, eh?

7. the strange case of starship iris

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  i’m already in love with violet liu, all right?  she’s a science officer on starship iris–well, what was starship iris.  when we first join violet, every single one of her crew mates has just died in an explosion on the pod they were traveling off ship with and the starship iris is in its last throes as well.  luckily(?) a passing ship comes along with a plan to get her to safety.  this has a real illuminae vibe to it (which is an amazing book btw) and all the characters are already so freaking likable.  it’s only on episode two and already shaping up to be a favorite!

8. the orbiting human circus (of the air)

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  if there’s a more heart-warming podcast out there, then i haven’t run across it yet.  first of all, julian koster’s voice is so vulnerable and soft that i would use myself and everyone i know and also puppies as a shield against everything terrible in the universe for him.  second, the rest of the cast - leticia especially - is just as freaking talented.  the premise is that julian is the janitor at a radio show that broadcasts from the top of the eiffel tower and has strange and impossible acts every night, from tale-telling crickets to singing saws to the orkestral, a bird that can play every orchestral instrument (except that it refuses to play the viola, because reasons).  it’s fun and cute and breaks your heart with happiness regularly and often!

9. alice isn’t dead

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  this is a horror podcast about a truck driver who is looking for her missing wife.  jasika nicole has to have one of my favorite voices around and having it be so heavily dependent on that makes me ridiculously happy.  throw in the story-telling of joseph fink, the depth and cohesiveness of his writing, and there is nothing not to love here.

10. within the wires

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  this is really sufficiently creepy considering it’s not often overtly creepy.  this is set up as a series of relaxation tapes, which progressively get more and more interested in helping the listener break out of the facility in which she’s being kept.  super chilling at times, because the voice is so calm and the action so dangerous.

11. welcome to night vale

canon lgbt+ is a ✓.  okay, well, what more can be said about this at this point?  if you’re not listening to it, you’re wrong.  why wouldn’t you want to visit a town that can’t be visited and where every conspiracy theory is real and a part of everyday life?  yeah, everyone knows about the vague yet menacing government agency, steve carlsberg, you’re not hitting on anything new there.  there’s a dog park that doesn’t allow dogs, angels that are never to be identified as angels, mountains that aren’t real, a glow cloud that–ALL HAIL and a love story so complete and perfect that it can and will utterly steal your breath at times.  go, listen, inhale.

signs as The Adventure Zone quotes

aries: i very flirtatiously hit it with my warhammer

taurus:  and instead of using castor sugar like i normally would, i went with uuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhʰʰʰʰʰʰʰʰʰʰʰʰʰʰʰ splenda

gemini:  PERCEPTION CHECK i want to see if he wet his pants

cancer:  no dogs are allowed on the moon. they just run right off the goddamn thing

leo: “the second ruffian –” “give them names.” “ –……..craigory”

virgo:  it covers all of his essential, uh, oils, but it does say “juicy” where his butt would be

libra: “and when i take my hand away, i’ve stuck a ‘kick me’ sign on his back” ”i kick him”

scorpio:  i need to do a check to see if him being on fire gives me the idea for spicy food

saggitarius:  somewhere in the distance, ludacris smiles

capricorn: “you run up and tear the box open, it explodes, you die. no, you tear the box open, it DOESN’T explode, you DON’T die –” “i’m fine either way.”

aquarius: abracafuck you!

pisces: the three of you walk into this room singing showtunes, and everyone inside this building looks at you, and kills you

Humans are Weirdos (ft.  animals)

I know a popular ‘humans are weird to aliens’ topic is how easily humans can bond to animals. But then think the opposite.

We humans are so weird because we are practically bonding magnets to animals.

We have our social hierarchies, so it makes sense that we can fit in with certain groups like dogs and even gorillas if we can understand them enough. We get ourselves acquainted with dogs who have been domesticated and these dogs will leap into our laps and constantly bother us for pets and treats and licking us as a way to show affection. People who can get certain animals to open up to us are super cool. Aliens are in awe of how our understanding of them can get us into a pack so readily that humans who are super close to normally protective dog mothers are allowed to hold their precious babies.

We can even manage to bond with animals like cats, known to be mostly solitary. We care for these cats and when they’re comfortable they will break their isolation and seek us out for affection.

Imagine an alien seeing a dog or cat go to an upset human and try to nuzzle them or snuggle into their lap to let themselves be held for our emotional comfort. These animals which, though currently domesticated, were descended from predators streamlined towards a goal of becoming efficient hunters. Willingly coming to our emotional aid and comforting us because they’ve bonded with us so closely.

Aliens see dogs act as protectors and bark away intruders on the human territory, but instantly turn happy when they know it’s their owner and friend. They see cats utilizing inborn maternal instincts to hunt down and leave 'gifts’ of dead things in an effort to feed and teach their humans to take care of them since we’re such worthless hunters in their eyes. They’ll even know if something is wrong with humans medically before we do, or know about disturbances in the home like fires or gas leaks, and will uncharacteristically jump us to get us out of danger.

And when humans are in danger by others, and an animal senses it before we do, these animals will immediately jump on the defensive and snarl and warn against any potential enemies  and try to alert us.

You’ve got dogs who will literally jump on intruders and bite them when they’re trying to attack their human owners. Throwing themselves and and intimidating animals many times larger than themselves for our sake. Even cats, the ones people might think aren’t very interested in their humans, will throw themselves into the fray and claw the hell out of something that’s a danger to a precious human of theirs.


And, for an added bonus, imagine if we can get this to apply to bigger, deadlier animals with similar capacity for pack bonding.

After months and months of talking, mimicking, feeding, and caring for a giant predator the rest of the crew refuses to near, it’s sort of relaxed to the human. A sense of loyalty that 'yes, this creature cares for me’. Then, one day, pirates invade the vessel and somehow the animal gets loose. Cue the crew panicking when it comes ambling out of its’ holding bay at the time when a pirate is about to bring a knife or something down on the human. Two seconds later this pirate is running and screaming for its life when it sees it. The creature takes a running start, LEAPS over the human (which was closest to it and already injured) and takes off after it. When that pirate is either captured or dead, the creature returns to the human, nuzzling them and making sounds to see if they’re okay.

The human is smiling and mimicking the sounds back, or just talking to it to say what a 'good boy’ it is.

The aliens of the crew are in shock.  The rest of the humans just smile knowingly.

mere-peripheral  asked:

Why do people approach stress-barking dogs? My dog is people-nervous, and has some kind of PTSD going on, and we've much figured out how to manage situations to keep her the least stressed and therefore less likely to lash out at people as they leave the room or (in the case of one cousin) try to hit her. But this lady arrived without warning and even though my dog was barking and I said "Don't come close, she's anxious" she tried to approach the dog until I literally screamed "Please, don't."

Society, at least the society I live and work in, has this habit of viewing dogs as public property, even though they are not.

Dogs firstly are their own animals, and they have their own comfort zone, which if you cross is likely to end up with you being bitten, but they are also private property which means nobody should approach or touch any dog without permission.

Tumblr is a funny place to see these posts, because while I see lots of posts about humans and mental health and the importance of consent, but I also see lots of posts about ‘Doggos! Luv all teh doggos! I pat all da doggos!’ without considering that, like humans, perhaps there are some doggos which do not want pats.

Some people perceive dogs as objects, and will automatically assume a dog will react how they want them to react, and also believe that they have a right to interact with the dog. I believe some service dog handlers would have quite a lot to add on this topic. This sort of person will often take great offense when they are asked not to touch your dog, and will often ignore requests to do so. They may also bark back at or antagonize an already stressed dog to ‘talk to it’ or ‘show it who’s the bigger dog’. This is not recommended and makes no sense.

Lots of non-dog people don’t understand dog body language or read their cues well. To be fair, lots of dog owners don’t either, which is why so many dogs are said to be ‘dominant’ when they’re really just scared.

It’s also why I’m frustratingly frequently told on the street, when I stop to let a stranger’s dog sniff me, that I ‘shouldn’t be afraid, they wont bite’ when I am not at all afraid of dogs, but I am being polite and allowing the dog to approach on its own terms. It’s no wonder so many people get bitten.

This is why continuing, accessible, accurate education about animal behavior, especially pets, is so important. Both for human safety and animal welfare.

So the short answer is: Entitlement, ignorance or mis-information.

A rare snake-related post by me-

I have had Vision, a dwarf BCI and my youngest snake, for roughly 9 months now. He will be a year old in July, so by snake standards he is still very much a baby. In the past 9 months, he’s gone from, for lack of better words, a bitey defensive asshole to a relatively passive and trusting creature who simply has Rules ™ on how, where, and when he can be touched. I used the same method to produce these results as I do with all of my reptiles, including my young snake of a notoriously aggressive and defensive species (Amazon Tree Boas) and have frequently been asked how I manage to get these animals that instinctively bite first and ask questions never to allow handling and pictures without drawing blood.

On my dog blog I’ve mentioned the concept of body autonomy a few times in relation to training dogs, and how it crosses over into husbandry in other species. In these posts I’ve detailed how I tame the larger birds at my job, how I teach my snakes not to bite me when I take them out, how I can successfully convince a thrashing dog to accept grooming without a fuss, how I teach cats to not turn into screaming demons for nail trims, and more. I also cover this in many of my dog training lectures at work as my students teach their dogs to allow grooming, nail trims, and medically related handling to prevent injuries and incidents when interacting with these animals. All of this relates back to body autonomy, and how we as humans have consistently ignored other species’ instinctive need to be autonomous.

I am no master animal trainer and do not play one on TV. I train pet dogs and service dogs and have begun to venture into competition, at one point I specialized in rehabbing aggressive and reactive dogs. I have trained various common pet animals in occasionally unconventional ways to do things that make life easier for the both of us, but I don’t claim to be anything special, because what I’m doing is not all that special. It is, however, uncommon for people to make these considerations with their pets and then they call in someone like me to fix a problem that didn’t need to start in the first place.

An example being: frequently on this website and others, the solution for convincing a biting snake not to bite you is to hold it still until it stops biting you. The snake will learn that biting you does not produce the desired result (you letting the snake go or putting it back in its cage) and thus will eventually stop biting you when you pick it up.

In the dog training world, we call this flooding and learned helplessness. It “works” because it produces what we wanted it to. The snake no longer bites when you pick it up. But it failed to address the root of the problem, and frequently if regular handling is not maintained the snake will return to biting you every time you touch it. The snake had learned that there was nothing it could do in order to make you stop doing what it didn’t like, and so had learned that it was helpless against the much larger human. The snake in this situation still doesn’t really want to be handled, it is merely tolerating it because it sees no other option.

While snakes have a much more primitive brain than dogs and thus a much more limited scope of emotions, aggression and violence are always expensive measures to use and thus are frequently considered last resort measures to make an unpleasant situation stop. They are costly in body resources- they take large amounts of energy, stress, and time to resolve, and wounds obtained from violence can become deadly with infection or severity. As a result, a bite should always indicate that whatever you are doing is so unpleasant to the animal you’re doing it to that they’re willing to risk their life in order to make you stop. The common pet snake knows it cannot win against an animal as large as a human. It is hoping you have not come to the same realization, and will not call its bluff.

This creates a problem. Like with dogs, backing off from a situation that is required after a bite will teach the snake that all they have to do to get you to leave them alone is to bite you. If I need to trim my dog’s nails, give him a bath, brush him, or have him examined by a vet, sure I could put him in a muzzle and force him to do it anyway, but it is counter-intuitive to teach him that all he has to do is bite me in order to get out of doing those things he may consider unpleasant. I need to be able to handle my snakes. This is not negotiable, just like the above things I do with my dogs are not negotiable. If I cannot handle them, I cannot check them for injury, disease, or distress. Backing off because my snake, or dog, has threatened to bite me is thus not a viable option. I must be able to complete the task, and the animal in question must let me.

Dogs, by comparison, are relatively easy to convince in this problem. I need to be able to do my dog’s nails. If I give him amazing treats on a good reward schedule, shower him with praise, listen to his body language to give him a chance to calm down and destress before pressing on, and remove my own negative emotions from the equation, he will learn to let me do his nails and even offer the position required for the task within a relatively short amount of time. He does not have to like having his nails done, but I can convince him to like he benefits he gets out of it. Cats and birds and small mammal pets like ferrets, rabbits, and rodents may be slower, but follow much the same way.

I can’t give a snake a treat. That’s not really how snake digestive systems work. I can’t give them a toy. I can’t give them praise. The subtleties of snake body language are much harder to read due to a lack of eyelids, ears, and limbs. Dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, all of these are social creatures that practice social bonding and feel an emotion similar to love (in the dog’s case, actually do feel love). Snakes are not social creatures and their brain is not capable of producing the chemicals involved in the emotion we call love. I cannot convince a snake to love me or to like being handled. That is not something their biology is able to do. Does that mean I have to rely on flooding and learned helplessness in order to get them to let me handle them?

I keep stressy species. While all reptiles are more than capable of stressing themselves to death, my current list of exotic pets includes a special needs ball python with a severe neurological condition, a brazilian rainbow boa specifically purchased from someone who breeds minimally stressy snakes because he got tired of the species’ reputation for being bitey assholes, and a dwarf bci locality (read: like a subspecies, but not different enough to get their own scientific name) known for being defensive bitey assholes. Previously, I had a special needs corn snake that was a defensive bitey asshole, an amazon tree boa that was remarkably handleable despite the species’ reputation for being aggressive and defensive bitey angry assholes, and a few foster ball pythons that came from neglect situations and had never been handled before leading to them being defensive bitey assholes. Stress is common in situations where aggression or violence is utilized, even if it is being utilized by the animal and not the human. If the stress from moving can kill my beloved ATB Hydra, why would I intentionally expose him to situations where he would feel required to use violence again and again until he learned that that was not a way out of the situation?

I did not flood my snakes. I hold them. They do not bite me. It has been a long time since any of them have even struck at me, and the majority of the bites and strikes I have received have been from when I was learning the snake in front of me or from me intentionally ignoring their body language and handling them a way I knew they didn’t like for whatever reason. Snakes do not bite without cause. Whether you, a human, can see that cause or not, snakes do not bite because they are vindictive or mean. As said, their brains are far too primitive to feel such complex emotions. Even wild snakes do not bite without provocation- whether you intentionally provoked them or not does not matter, simply whether they felt provoked enough to need to defend themselves possibly with their lives.

Vision came to me unsure of my intentions and of whether I could be considered safe. He certainly didn’t believe I should be picking him up. At two months old, the world is a scary place to a baby snake where nearly everything is bigger than you and nearly everything wants to kill or eat you. I do not blame him for doubting the warm giant cooing over him with grabby hands. To him, I’m sure I am some baffling mixture of hawk, bear, and wild canine. All of these things readily kill and eat snakes, all of these things may be persuaded to not kill and eat this particular snake if he bites them.

Instead of picking him up and allowing him to spend precious resources stressing himself to the point of repeatedly biting me- which hurts, by the way, so I don’t really want to be bitten any more than I need to be- I allowed him to show me things about him. I let him show me what he does when he’s nervous, when he doesn’t want to be bothered. I let him show me what he does when he’s curious and feels like investigating what’s in front of him. I let him show me how he does and does not like to be touched. Like many snakes, he seems to enjoy being scratched lightly under the chin. Like many snakes, he doesn’t seem to appreciate being tickled on the stomach. He prefers to create a “foot” about 2/3 down his body and use it as an anchored perch when exploring my hands. He does not want his tail to be touched. When he is nervous or unsure of potential danger, he will retract and coil himself into a loose ball. If pressed before he recovers, he will “expand” the “ball” quickly and vocalize. If he continues to be pressured, he will threaten to bite and will begin to try. If he is allowed to relax, he will recreate his “foot” and resume quietly investigating his surroundings.

Today, I took the lid off of his enclosure and lifted him out without a fuss. While this is not a first- we accomplished this task about 4 weeks in- only in the past few weeks has he not immediately retracted into his loose ball and required me to wait a few minutes for him to relax before touching him. Instead, he immediately made his “foot” and began to investigate, leaned against my finger as I scratched his chin, and maintained his confidence throughout the time I handled him. Sure, I could possibly get a similar result through the first method of flooding and teaching him that he is helpless against me, but I don’t need to. I can get a confident content snake that is not only tolerating my handling but also showing curiosity and intelligence without forcing him to accept my hands as things he has to deal with in his life.

The people espousing these methods always ask me how I managed to take such nice, interesting pictures of Hydra without bleeding- or joke about how much blood they think I lost inbetween shots- and are always surprised when I tell them that I don’t get bit because I understand a snake’s need for autonomy and allow the snake to tell me their “rules” for being touched and then follow those rules or understand if I break them I will get bit. As a result, I don’t break their rules unless I have to, and thus I don’t get bit unless I have to. This allows me to handle and investigate my snakes, look in their mouths, check their vents and between their scales, touch their heads, and rescue them from fluke accidents such as Quetzal’s injury with his decor without the snake taking their frustrations out on me. It also allows me to take some pretty pictures of them outside or on props without worrying how I will retrieve them without being bitten when I’m done. 

anonymous asked:

What does this engagement training look like? Like, what are the games you might play for that?

Most of what I’ve learned about engagement has come from Michael Ellis’ materials. Denise Fenzi also has a lot to offer on this subject, and I like the way she lists out five stages of engagement.

  1. Handler starts the engagement by bribing the dog with offered food/toys/play
  2. Dog starts the engagement with eye contact (cookies/toys are hidden, and appear with the eye contact)
  3. Dog starts the engagement with sustained focus while moving around
  4. Dog starts the engagement with stage 2, stage 3, and offered work/behavior
  5. Handler starts the engagement (without bribing as in stage 1)

Many people get stuck at stage 1, or try to skip from stage 1 to stage 5, but stages 2-4 are the critical ones that make stage 5 possible.

What does the process look like? You can see visuals through the resources below, but here is a basic breakdown.

  1. Allow the dog time to acclimate to the environment, sniff around, potty (if outside), etc
  2. Pick a spot and just stand there. Dog should be on a leash. 
  3. Eventually the dog will get bored and check in with you. As soon as they make eye contact, mark it with a “yes!” (or whatever your marker is) and provide the reward. Generally food, and if so you want the dog driving into your hand for the food, rather than you reaching towards the dog to deliver it. I move backwards so the dog has to move towards me to get the food. If you watch the videos linked below, note how much the handlers are moving around. Movement and contrast is motivating and helps the engagement process.
  4. If the dog is maintaining connection, mark and reward again.
  5. When the dog is focused, release them back into the environment. “All done” is my cue.
  6. I also mix in some repetitions of cuing “get it”, toss a piece of food on the ground (make sure you dog can see it on the surface), and as soon as the dog gets the food and stops sniffing for more, mark it with “yes” and reward from my hand. The dog gets faster to stop sniffing and re-engage as they learn there is nothing more on the ground and it’s more rewarding to engage back with me.
  7. Rinse and repeat. As with everything else in training, choose your environments carefully and start in a no/low-distraction environment. Such as inside your house. And gradually move to more busy and distracting environments.

There is technique involved in the marking and rewarding process that increases the dog’s motivation. How you hold the food, how you move your hand, making the dog sometimes miss the food to increase frustration and drive, having them spin around, etc. More details about that in the resources below.

Honestly I don’t really allow my dogs to play with each other, especially not inside. Partly because of the dogs I currently have, and partly because I don’t want that chaos in the house. I do not allow Ryker and Chandra to play at all, because Ryker is an asshole who can quickly go from “happy happy play” to “fuck off you fucking fucker”. I did allow Solstice and Chandra to play together, but only outside. And it was structured so that I did training/engagement sessions with them first, then they were allowed to play. Or at the very least, Chandra had to give me eye contact before being released to play with Solstice.

If Asher’s engagement at home is an issue, then I’d start requiring Asher to go through you to play with Gunner. Eye contact, release to play. Sustained connection, release to play. Basically moving through the stages of engagement and building up to Asher doing more and more with you before he gets to play with Gunner. This might require restricting the dog’s access to each other or not allowing free access when you’re not around, until Asher is engaging more easily.

Free resources:

Paid Resources