Seven years ago today Banjo came into our lives. Back then he was a black, wriggly pup with a fat belly who grew into a lanky dog who, according to one Brooklyn teenager, “looked anorexic.” (He has since filled out in his middle age!) These days, Banjo is a senior with white whiskers appearing around his muzzle. He doesn’t fly across the beach the way he used to but he charges into the ocean after a toy in spite of his arthritis and hip dysplasia.

How time flies. How precious life is. How special it is to know the unwavering love of your dog.

Banjo-Adoptaversary

Happy Adoptoversary, Woozle!

Banjo says Aroo!! Gimme a chikken. Or a beef. Or a lam. Dat’s a nice hambuggler. Le’s hav dat.

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It’s been another busy semester, and poor Shyhound.com has been a bit neglected of late. Here’s an animated short I did for my Photoshop class, starring none other than Banjo!

 

Ever since I took the iPhone footage of Lefty sneaking up on the sleeping Banjo, they have become firm friends.  I don’t think Lefty is as pleased to see Banjo as he is to see her, but they share the garden happily.  Sometimes Lefty even allows Banjo close enough for him to smell her butt.

For more observations on inter-species relations, read my post on Banjo & Lefty: “A Metaphor for World Peace?”.

Yappy Howlidays!

Banjo says Aroo!! I luvs Lefty so much dat Lauren can’t say her name becos I start barking happily!  She can’t even spelling C-A-T wivout me galloping to da back door. MEOWROOO!!

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Banjo says Aroo!! Dis a sad and scareful pikchuh.  Iz a guud reminder to spay/nooter yoh furry frendz and to fink abowt the responsabubbletees of pet ownaship. Pleez fink carefully before adopting a dog (or cat) from a shelta.  Remember! Dog is a friend for life, not just Crissmuss.

recession victims include pets

from Total Bankruptcy

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Aroo!! Dis Banjo heer. Iz a long time sinz mah hoomin, Lauren, iz posting propallee. Dis becos she doing a studying at school an she doing learningz on da computah. Iz a fing calld grafik dizyne and she soOOOoooo bizzy.

But she making a biddyo aboud me.  Iz calld Shyhound and da Ball.  I a Shyhound.  I like a ball. Iz a playtime. Nao yoo wotching!

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Aroo!! Iz a long time sinz I riting ennyfing! Mah auntie-mum haz been busy studying wiv her Fotoshop class and she iz making all sorts of fings dat not smelling.

But heer is a rrrrrroootiful pikchuh of me:

I haz a big pawsome, yes?

Olso, yoo see I haz a noo banner? Iz like my collah — aroo!!  Moh cartoony fings coming soon!  Wat yoo has been doing?

Aroo!!

Ruff, Banjo

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It’s autumn, which means Del Mar beach is open once again to our furry friends.  Our latest beach visit reminded me to write another Not Just a Dog post – through Banjo’s eyes, I see things I might otherwise miss.

Like this mussel shell, with its pearlised interior:

Without Banjo hovering nearby, we might not have attracted the attention of this Pit Bull puppy…

…or this little dog with a pronounced underbite…

We might not have revelled in the thrill of the chase…

… or caught up with someone to show them you love them…

Through my dog’s eyes, I see things I might not otherwise notice.  His joy gives me joy.

Banjo says Aroo!! Dat was a stinky shell, and noisy dogs.  I luvs Del Mar beech! Dere is dogs, a oshun, seeweeds to tinkle on, balls to play wiv, sand to dig, wateh to shake off, and a big yellow cliff wiv caves in it!

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Banjo and I have the pleasure of introducing one of our regular readers, Tina of Kadja1, who is going to tell us a bit about what makes her dog, Buddy, so special. But it is also a cautionary tale about the importance of preventing heart worms in our canine friends.

–> We’d love to know what makes your dog so special too!  If you’d like to write a guest post for Shyhound’s Not Just a Dog series, please email me for more details.

• Name: Buddy
• Breed: Lab mix
• Age: 13
• Best tricks: catching chicken meatballs
• Most defining feature: white whiskers he’s getting on his handsome face
• Favourite game: fetch – but when he goes and gets the ball, then he wants us to chase him for it!
• Favourite walk: up and down the neighborhood

Buddy first came into our lives when my youngest son, Kevin, was about 11 years old.  He saw a boy with a fishing rod pulling Buddy — with the hook sticking through the bottom of his chin.  Buddy was yelping and in pain.  Kevin knocked the boy down, broke the fishing rod and line and brought Buddy home.

We took Buddy straight to the vet because he was whimpering.  The vet said he couldn’t have been more than 6-7 weeks old — and then the mailman maced him around 3 weeks later… I felt so bad for this dog, but part of me tried not to get attached because the Humane Society was full and we were not planning to keep a pet.

We ended up agreeing to foster him, but when nobody came to claim him and nobody adopted him, he became part of the family.  He is a faithful friend and when he is finally gone, I will miss him and have no intention of taking on another animal because no other animal can replace him in my life. He is at an age now where these thoughts do cross my mind.  Hopefully, I”ll have him around for a good long time and can enjoy him come running up to me and then doing a sit!, or speak!, or paw! for me to take — all the while wagging his tail.

When he became ill with heart worms recently, I received some flak for simply not having him put to sleep, but I couldn’t do that to him.  I had the means to get him treated, so I did.  He’s finished his treatment, but I have to take him back for a blood test next week.  It is very important to keep the monthly treatments up for prevention for the simple fact that once the heart worms hatch, they invade the dog’s heart.  Also, treating them after the fact is very expensive.  I cashed in my retirement to get Buddy helped and it was close to $2000.00 so far.  I share the information about the expenses because it only costs around $30-40 for a six months of preventative medicine.

Treating heart worms is invasive because the medicine used to kill the heart worms is toxic. The veterinarian usually prescribes Prednisone (a synthetic corticosteroid drug that is particularly effective as an immunosuppressant drug) as well as an anti-inflammatory to use as the worms are dying off.  As the treatment kills the worms, they move into the dog’s lungs to die which can cause respiratory problems.  This is why the veterinarians tell pet owners of pets with heart worms to make them rest and keep as still and quiet as possible, including not letting them even play outside: because of the effects on the respiratory system, allowing them to play can put stress on the heart which can lead to heart failure.

It is also important to note that once cats get them there is NO cure, so they have to be treated without fail each month to prevent their getting them.  It is rare for cats to get them but it does happen. Left untreated, heart worms can lead to a slow and painful death.  I cannot stress the importance of keeping the medicines up to date along with pet vaccinations.

The decision I had to make was whether to let nature take its course and eventually have Buddy put to sleep, or do what I know in my heart was the right thing to do.  This dog has a spirit.  This dog has a soul and was depending on me when he could depend on nobody else–just as my children at one time did.  I had no choice but to do what I could to help him… Yes, I could have kept the money I had, but I would now be grieving miserably right for a pet that I have  had for 13 years and love very much.  I will never regret my decision.  Buddy is doing much better now and his vet is amazed that he is so happy and healthy!  To see him look up at me with so much love in return, take that leash in his mouth like he does and “take ME for a walk” is well worth every penny.

Banjo says Aroo!! Buddy, I haz a big glad dat yoo iz bettah now!  Dem hartwurms is scareful! Fangs foh sharing yoh story wiv me.  Nao abowt dem chiken meetbollz…

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Aroo! Dis Banjo heer, and I iz feelin ever more speshul becos nao I iz in mah own logo!

Mah auntie-mum, Lauren, iz doing a speriment in sumfing called Fotoshop.  Befor, da Shyhound logo is a cartoon dog. Nao iz me!

<– Luuk dis! I haz a big pawsum!

Dere is lots of buttonz for yoh website.  Chek out da Sharehound page!

 

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Of all the things Banjo has taught me, I am learning to trust his reaction to people.  True to his Greyhound genes, he can seem a little aloof at first, but once he knows you, you’re in his inner circle you’re in for life.  Like most Greyhounds, he will often sleep in the ‘cockroach’ position – but only around people he trusts:

Banjo spends most of the day sleeping – also true to his Greyhound genes, he is a 45-mph Couch Potato!  Having said that, he is also what is affectionately known as a ‘reactive barker’ – a dog who barks at certain triggers, like the doorbell.  (He’s good at being quiet when told, but we’re working with a trainer to lessen his barking.  There’s always room for improvement, right?) But there are some people who he just won’t shut up about!

A few years ago, we lived across the hall from a woman, J., who was going through a difficult time in life and was on half a dozen medications for various forms of chronic mental illness, including major depression and anxiety.  We had a few things in common, and so a friendship grew.  There were only two apartments on our floor – hers and ours – but Banjo would always howl at the sound of J.’s footstep or her key in the lock.  I always assumed it was because her door was so close to ours – after all, he wouldn’t bark at our other neighbours that way. I always thought it strange, and tried to train him out of the habit, to no avail.

A couple of years went by, and J. became very paranoid.  One day she sent my husband and me an email that accused us of doing something that was not only ludicrously unrealistic, but deeply insulting.  We responded with an email that was supposed to reassure her that what she thought simply wasn’t true, but her response  showed me that she was very unbalanced and destructive, and from there the friendship quickly unravelled.  We were all relieved when she moved out a few months later – but no one more than Banjo.  Other people soon moved in; a year later, others still.  Banjo never had the same reactive barking problem with any of these new neighbours.  To this day, I maintain that Banjo knew all along that J. was someone to be avoided, which is why he never warmed up to her.

Looking back, I must have first started paying attention to Banjo’s people skills when we were looking for a pet sitter.  In those days, living in New York and with half the family in California and the other half in Europe, Wonderman and I wouldn’t travel out of town often, but when we did it was usually for at least a week at a time.  Being a sweet and sensitive dog, it was very important to us that not only Banjo love his sitter, but that his sitter love him back equally.

We found the lovely Jamie through our vet, and as is typical with someone who understands dogs (i.e. not making aggressive eye contact), she was greeted quietly and curiously.  Banjo quickly formed a deep attachment to her and loved going to Jamie’s – hearing her name put a spring in his step, even after the ‘wheelie-boxes’ were taken out of the hall closet…

It isn’t hard to accept that a dog can tell a ‘good person’ from a ‘bad person’ if you remember that dogs’ language is primarily based on body language.  Dogs are hard-wired to read even the most minute of body movements, and pick up on all sorts of things that we humans miss.  Banjo has proven himself over and over again in this regard, as I’m sure your dog has too.  What’s not to trust?

Banjo says: Aroo! Yea, I has a big clever becos I knoes a scareful person from a luffly person.  Does any oder doggies out dere doing dis? Wat yoh hoomin sez?

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When people say that their dog has taught them so much, non-dog owners always seem quietly amused by this.  It’s just a dog!  No, “it” isn’t anything. “It” is either a he or a she, for a start.

And “just a dog”? How little they know!

Banjo has taught me so much.  Through his soft and curious eyes, I see things I probably wouldn’t notice.

So, I’ve decided to start a regular column on Shyhound called Not Just a Dog.  I think dogs have taught humans a great many things, and I want to explore those lessons.

I want to share some of what I have learned from Banjo, but I also want to hear from YOU, dear Shyhound readers:  What has your dog taught you?  Would you consider writing a guest post for Shyhound?  Let’s celebrate our canine friends and their wisdom!

Banjo says: Aroo!  I like dis ideeyah becos I like learning about mah doggie frends!

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