In December of 2005, we went to the Cleveland pet show where I met Doris Straka, an animal communicator. She told me the cutest story of a dalmation and we had a wonderful conversation. I wanted to bring a dog back over but time wouldn't allow. So this year, you can imagine my excitement when she was at the same dog show and she had an opening!
Here is some of Gator's background - he was bred by one of the top frenchie breeders in the US who live in Louisiana. He had been sold to a family who later returned him to get a female. He lived with the breeders until Hurricane Katrina hit in the fall of 2005. When the storm was approaching, they sent their pets to be in the care of their handler in Houston to attempt to keep them safe. Later, they returned home, and he flew up to us in December of 2005, still a little shaken and a bit unbalanced from all he'd been through, but overall a great dog.
In talking with Doris, he had quite a few things to say on many subjects.
Hurricane: He never called it a hurricane, but referred to quite a few things that happened "during quarantine." He said there were lots of animals there, dogs, cats, birds. There was a cockatiel that screamed and screamed and no one could get any rest. Gaqtor was very stressed and missed his people. Everyone was stressed - there was a group of people that cared for the animals and they were in a constant state of stress during that time. But they were always kind, always had the animals' best interests at heart, and where some people would have lost their temper and became aggressive, they did not. There was a woman there who had grey hair down to her shoulders and she, in particular, felt for the animals. She felt for them so deeply that she threw up. Gator said all the animals really liked her and his group wanted to take her home with them, but they couldn't. Gator is also a daddy - he and one of the females at the quarantine hooked. He said it was a one-night stand and she was gone before the puppies were born. Also, there was a larger dog (st. bernard, or maybe a bernese mountain dog - something with that coloring) who was very sad and lonely. Gator wants to find out if that dog is ok now. He wants to send out a "hello, I'm doing good now - how are you?" to him.
Handler's house: At one point he started to describe a room where there were some crates, some stacked on each other. And he said it was really cool - like a dormitory where they just all hung out together. But sometimes they would put a blanket over the crates and they weren't allowed to talk to each other. (That would be when our little man got his bulldog, wanna fight attitude going.)
Cooter: I asked if she could explain to him that it wasn't necessary to argue with Cooter, our male pug, that there was no need to compete. Gator simply responded he didn't consider Cooter much competition, anyway (he evidently forgot about the times when Cooter won the fight hands-down). I explained that the female pugs were for Cooter and the female frenchie was for him. This resulted in a long conversation with the communicator about how he wasn't snobby. Lineage and pedigree didn't matter to him - as long as the legs were short enough, that was good enough for him. He even made the comment that he'll be a stud until he's neutered. To this, Doris explained that there are other things to do like agility, obedience, and rally. Gator thought that agility might be fun, but the others might require him to pay too much attention. They didn't sound like as much fun.
Health: I mentioned to Doris that we are trying to get him to put on some more weight. She recommended slightly cooked chicken and chicken livers (beef livers only if they're organic). And a combo vitamin A & D. A would cleanse the liver and D would follow through and help to heal. She said all this before I told her that we suspected some liver issues (also confirmed by a holistic vet). In fact, when Doris looked through his body, she said that his liver is a little more pink (or did she say a lighter pink?) than it should be. It's not like he's in danger, but some things to help it cleanse and heal all the way will be beneficial to him. Other than that, she said he was in great shape. She said that his structure was good, his bones were good, and that between his structure and his temperament, she felt that his bloodlines should be continued. This surprised me because she certainly didn't have to say something like that just to be polite. She truly loved Gator's personality (he had her laughing on several occassions) and she thought that a lesser dog would not have recovered from the hurricane as well as he did.
Food: I asked him not to snap at puppies anymore. He had been so good around them, always patient, playing with them, that one day when I let him out of his crate, I was surprised when moments later he snapped at one at the food bowl and caused some damage. I was shocked and I reprimanded him, but in my heart, I knew that he didn't intentionally hurt him - it was just that he caught the puppy just right. And Doris verified this. She said the whole situation traumatized Gator - he truly did not mean to hurt that puppy. His stomach was tight and when he came out of the crate to eat, he was just so hungry that he snapped. Doris explained that he can't snap at the babies, they don't mean any harm. They had quite a conversation about it and Doris assured him that he wasn't going to starve, we will always have food for him and he never has to worry about the puppies eating all of it. After quite a bit of go-around, Gator finally acquiesced and said ok, the food at the bottom of the bowl is better, anyway. This mysterious comment was solved when Patrick, the handler, explained that he would put a bit of potted meat on the bottom of Gator's bowl when he fed him. I also asked if he likes the food I feed him at home. Yes, but there was something called the yummies that he likes, but that hurts his stomach as it goes through. Yogurt?? Yes! Yogurt.. he loves it, and the beneficial bacteria is good for him, but it takes 3 times the amount of stomach acid to process dairy, and adult dogs just don't handle it well. She said to put his supplements in oatmeal or chicken broth, but no more yogurt, cottage cheese, or other dairy for the dogs unless it's cheese made from non-pasteurized milk. She said maybe a small amount once a month since he loves the flavor so much, but it's giving him a tummy ache.
Being a show dog: Although he certainly seems to enjoy the ring, it's always good to know for sure. We want them to be not only successful, but happy. He said that he likes dog shows. He likes them because there are so many different types of people. It turns out our little man is quite a people-watcher. We amuse him. He said that it's funny to watch the new people who are tense and under stress and then watch the more experieced and calm been-there-done-that people.
All in all, he's a happy dog who takes everything in stride. He is sure he's the bomb-diggity! He is enjoying life and could we ask for anything more?