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Here at Casa de Kolchak, we lead a charmed life. We are extremely lucky that we are happy, healthy and that we get to come here and do what we love. I’m embracing a bit of a Gratitude Adjustment and as a part of being so very grateful for all the wonderful things in my life, I think it’s time to Wag It Forward a bit. This year, I’ll be sharing small ways that you can make a big impact for the animals in your community. Some will be low cost, some no cost and they’ll all be something every single one of us can do. Will you join me?
Suggest a Wag It Forward cause by emailing me at kolchakpuggle (at) gmail (dot) com
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Having a reactive dog is the pits.
Don’t get me wrong, Felix is 110% the BEST thing that happened to me. He changed my life, he brought me Koly, and he inspired this blog. There are a lot of reasons to adore him, but it’s not all puppies and sunshine. Felix is a rescue dog that came from a less than ideal situation. He wasn’t properly socialized, he had no manners and I had no dog skillz. Not used to leash walks, sweet, fluffy Felix had a tendency to go all Kujo on any dogs we met out on the road.
Holy woof, it was the MOST embarrassing.
There I would be trying to dodge an oncoming dog as it’s owner shouted (my pet peeve) “Don’t worry, my dog is friendly”. Reactive dog owners, can I get a holla if this is the MOST obnoxious thing you’ve ever heard? Oh, you’re dog is friendly? That’s great. Rub it in. My 17 lb. fluff ball thinks he’s a werewolf.
The thing is that leash reactivity is actually super common and it doesn’t mean you have bad dog or a mean dog or an unfriendly dog. It just means your dog needs more space. Felix is actually the most darling little guy, but he feels really insecure and scared on his leash. After 6 years of work, it’s a million times better, but when he’s tired or stressed or when he was hurt, that reactivity comes back in an instant. Forcing a reactive dog to do on leash greetings can actually make the problem worse, so many owners of reactive pups become dog walking ninjas. I’ve mastered the fine art of darting around corners, dashing across streets and the ever popular 180 degree turn and run in the other direction. There’s got to be a better way.
I L.O.V.E. the Yellow Dog Project.
Have you heard of it?
It’s awesome. The whole idea is that anyone who has a dog that needs a bit more space can tie a yellow ribbon to their leash providing a clue to other dogs owners and people on the street to please keep their distance. It’s genius. It’s not only good for reactive dogs, it could be great for dogs who are recovering from an injury, dogs with a sensory disability and for dogs in training.
The plan has one flaw though: In order for it to work, the word has got to get out there.
As a part of our Wag It Forward project, we want to help bring the Yellow Dog Message to our community. I was talking about the idea with some friends and there were a few who weren’t convinced this could work in their neighbourhood. No one had heard of the project, there were too many people, the city was too big. No one person is going to convert a whole city, but imagine if every dog owner or even only every reactive dog owner tackled JUST their neighbourhood?
It could change everything for you and your dog.
Here’s the plan:
- Share! Share! Share! You can find the Yellow Dog Project on Facebook. We recommend sharing this post of the Yellow Dog Poster with your Facebook friends. Many neighbourhoods also have a community group or page, so make sure you share it there as well. Not every one is addicted to the Facebook like I am (seriously, I have a problem.) You can share this poster via Twitter, Email or even Pin It to Pinterest. (Posters are also available in a ton of different languages. Find ’em here.)
- Post it. That poster we linked to above? It was drawn by the awesome Lili Chin and you are absolutely allowed to have copies printed. How cool is that? For less than $20, I was able to hit up my local copy centre and have a bunch of ’em made. Take them to the vets in your neighbourhood, pet stores, dog parks etc. I definitely recommend hitting up a few “high traffic” areas like the local gas stations and grocery stores. After all, we want EVERY ONE to hear about the Yellow Dog Project, not just dog savvy people. You can even post them on telephone poles along your walk route. If you live in an apartment or townhouse complex, post one on the shared message boards.
- Ribbons and Bows. I pretty much haunt the craft store anyways, but for once, I had a good cause in mind. I used a 40% off coupon to buy a few spools of wide yellow ribbon. I cut it into 6″ lengths and left it with the posters at the vets, pet stores & dog parks – just in case anyone needed them.
- Talk about it. If you have tiny humans, make sure they know what a yellow ribbon means. Ask their teacher if you can share the yellow ribbon story with their class (see volunteer opportunities for more info.)
- Volunteer. The Yellow Dog Project is always looking for volunteer and they have all sorts of opportunities from speaking gigs to admin work. Find out more here.
- Respect the space. If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon – keep your distance. If you happen to be caught in a space where a dog with a yellow ribbon is and the owner can’t do anything to prevent your paths crossing, the best thing you can do is just go past. You can’t help but come into the dog’s space, but you can minimize the amount of time you’re there. Make sure you don’t stop to chat or apologize. The owner will appreciate your briskness more than you know.
How could you help spread the Yellow Dog message?
Do you have a dog that needs more space? Are you as grateful for this movement as I am?