Thank You for Being Such a Pain

Taking a stroll with your dog in NYC can be an uplifting experience. Manhattanite faces soften allowing themselves a smile, even a little chuckle when they see Eti trot purposefully by, their tough exteriors compromised by the sight of his big bat ears. Many abandon the first rule of NYC sidewalk survival "walk fast, no eye contact" to stop and say hello, or "he's beautiful". How wonderful you think, that a dog can inspire human nature to manifest in such a positive way. And then you get to a NYC dog run and things are quite different.

Richard Freedman of Leonard N. Stern School of Business of New York University, says, “Difficult people are distributed evenly throughout society.” In the 2 years of hanging out at NYC dog runs, my personal empirical evidence would be that most of these difficult people find their way here. There's all sorts. There's the ones who bring their breakfast or lunch to the dog run or their one year old just starting to walk toddler staggering unattended with an ice cream in their hand and then are exasperated that your dog is bothering them.

There's the ones that bring their dogs toys to the dog run and are annoyed that your dog keeps trying to take their dogs toy. Or how about this little exchange I had with a lady with a bright red plastic ball thrower that she kept swishing in front of Eti.

Lady:"Your dog is trying to bite me"
Me: "No he's trying to get that bright red plastic thing in your hand that you keep swishing around-he thinks its a toy"
Lady:"Its not a toy, its a tool to pick up my dogs ball .
Me: Yes I know that, and you know that, but my dog doesn't know that, he thinks its a toy. Please read the guidelines on the noticeboard that advises dog owners not to bring food or toys into the dog run.

Guess what the owners of the most obnoxious bad mannered dogs are usually doing- talking on their cell phones with their backs turned of course. Guess what the owners of the most (dangerously) submissive dogs are doing- not leaving. Just staying and allowing their dogs to continue to instigate huge brawls, cluelessly complaining how everyone else's dog is so aggressive.

Even though you pick up after your dog every single time, and yes you just saw him start No. 2 over there by the fence, in fact your hand is in your pocket fingering a plastic bag in anticipation of its imminent use. You're distracted however for a nano second as someone engages you in conversation and a shrill voice from behind informs you sternly -"Your dog just pooped". Tell that to the lady with the Mastiff whose dog built a poop sandcastle right in the middle of the run 15 minutes ago. And don't even get me started on the dogwalkers with more dogs than they can handle who arrive like a swarm of locust at certain times of the day.

Dog runs have increasingly become the most annoying places on earth to be in, for me. If Eti didn't enjoy running around in them with such unfettered delirious joy, I would stop going altogether because the people that frequent them drive me nuts. According to a New York Times article today however, " the problem is not the difficult people. It is you." Thats right, it is I that needs to empathize, understand and of course realise that "we cannot control other people, only our response to them"

"Life is like a school.....conflicts that seem to be chance occurrences are actually orchestrated for our spiritual development....the Universe delivers unto us the ideal foe, a person whose characteristics exactly correspond to the places within us that need learning and healing" writes Deepak I mean Mark Rosen in his book, “Thank You for Being Such a Pain: Spiritual Guidance for Dealing With Difficult People,”. My usual tactic is is more along the lines of one of the reccomendations in Carrie Mason-Draffen's book “151 Quick Ideas to Deal With Difficult People”-know when to cut your losses ie get the hell out that run. Know thy enemy- explore the psychological roots of ten specific behavior patterns that represent normal people at their worst- then work on communicative skills to turn conflict into cooperation is the tactic pursued in “Dealing With People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst,” by Dr. Rick Brinkman.

I guess I could brush up on the subject. Or, the dog run people could read a thing or two.



Pearly Whites

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, "80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age three. In fact, oral disease is the No. 1 health problem diagnosed in dogs and cats. What exactly should one do about this? Christie Keith explores the subject in this post but in a nutshell what your dog eats is primarily going to determine the outcome of its dental health.

"The body's natural control methods basically revolve around physical removal of plaque bacteria during eating, the antibacterial chemical and flushing actions of saliva and a cellular response involving 'neutrophil' white blood cells. When animals feed in the wild they rarely develop a serious level of periodontal disease unless they are debilitated in some other way.

If you're feeding a diet that approximates what a dog might eat in the wild things would, by the above logic, take care of themselves. But what happens when we're not. In Eti's case, although I feed him a raw diet, a fair percentage of it is premade/pre ground. Its more convenient and its safer- he's a gulper. Although he doesn't eat whole pieces all the time I do make sure he has them some of the time- things like chicken breast/backs and even larger pieces of lean meat to ensure he gets some of the physical removal of plaque as described above not to mention the psychological satisfaction of chewing and ripping through meat as he is meant to. He also gets recreational marrow bones, but this is not sufficient and if the activitiy is too vigorous can in fact wear on the tooth enamel.

If you're not feeding this way, then you have to brush your dog's teeth. The general rule is to brush every day-as long as the biofilm on the tooth is broken up once every 36 hours, plaque does not form. If it does, and it leads to tartar buildup you will need to get a professional teeth cleaning procedure done under anaesthetic. There's a recent post by Christie Keith on Pet Connection on this subject which also references Nancy Campbell's (VetTech) opinions amongst others which also, in a nutshell is- don't try to do this yourself or allow anyone other than a registered and certified veterinary technicians with special training in veterinary dentistry to do this.




Calendula is one of the best natural ingredients for treating local skin problems. It may be used safely wherever there is an inflammation on the skin, whether due to infection or physical damage. I particularly like it in a gel form as it dries to form almost a protective barrier. I've used it after cleaning a small bite wound or on an insect bite. I've also used it as a base- for example when Eti had a little bout of acne on his chin I added calendula gel to benzoyl peroxide to dilute the potency from 5%(human) to 2%(canine). Eti's friend Magnus who suffers from allergies has his tube of calendula gel in the fridge for cool relief when required.


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