A Ray update!

This Blog was started in 2014, a little over a year after Ray moved in with us. Ray not only triggered the book “Who Said I was up for Adoption?”  (click cover in right side column for more information) but also this Blog. Having said that, he has not been getting much coverage here recently!

For all the work that Ray was during the first few (quite a few) years, the past few have been relatively uneventful. He is now showing clear signs of being in his senior years, and has mellowed accordingly …. or has he? For a dog with no English vocabulary at his disposal, he has learned quite a lot and knows how to use body language … especially his head.

Our introduction to the subtleties of Ray’s communicating technique was during his early time with us when he used to bark at every dog he saw. He was clearly not comfortable and barking made them go away (at least from his perspective). When we involved a trainer, she watched him under controlled conditions and dropped on the issue straight away.  She told us that he was giving us a really clear message when a dog approached, but we were not responding so he took charge!

As she explained it to us, when Ray saw the other dog, he gave a very slight turn of his head in our direction. He was basically “saying” that he was uncomfortable and turned to us for direction. “C’mon guys. This is not looking good so either you take charge or I will.” As we had not responded, he took charge! We soon had him meeting other dogs and people.

This has more recently been developed in other areas. Sadly for Ray, he was very happily in the routine of greeting people and other dogs when the COVID-19 scene unfolded. Based on past training, Ray was given a treat after he had greeted satisfactorily, and he therefore tried to greet everybody he could … because he would get treats, but then we started avoiding everybody!

We had a dilemma of how to handle a very disappointed dog, who obviously had no knowledge of COVID-19. The solution was to treat him whenever he made a gesture towards another person or dog. He will now get as close as his leash allows, and then look up at whoever is on the other end of his leash (“Where’s my treat?”).

We taught him to make eye contact with us so that we can hold his attention if he was tempted to distractions. He has reversed that process in his favour. Last  night we had our dinner as usual, and were chatting away such that I forgot to give him his regular after dinner pumpkin biscuit! Carol suddenly gestured to me with her eyes to look down … and there was a big furry face just staring at me. Eyes unblinking, there was only one likely interpretation (C’mon Colin … my pumpkin biscuit!”).

Whether he is looking to us for direction, or reminding us of our routines (at least as he sees them), or simply drawing our attention to an apparent oversight … it is all done with head movement and eye contact. I know some people who have no concept of body language, and I know a dog who uses it very effectively. There’s something wrong here!

 

A pause for paws!

We are very fortunate to have a covered front porch, so we can sit outside and be sheltered from the sun. We take advantage of that at every opportunity, particularly at lunch time, and Ray has no problem joining us and stretching out on his mat … unless we just emptied a yogurt container, in which case his job is to clean it out before we recycle it!

Ray has always amazed me at how much dexterity he has if food is involved and, despite the limitations of his paws, he can quickly stabilize the container for as long as is necessary!

Nice work Ray, and great show of creativity!

A dog’s perspective!

Living with Ray in those early years was a massive education for me.  Because Ray was my first dog, I not only had to learn how to interact with him; how to establish mutually acceptable behaviour patterns; how to “read” his body language, but also (as a context for this Post) how to try and see the world from his perspective. If I could understand his view of the world, I might be able to understand him! Continue reading

“So Long Ago”

“So long ago” was a Post from “long ago”, and considers how perceptions of time will vary with any given event. My subject for that Post was our beloved Ray, and how the time when our year was pre-occupied with his heart-worm treatment program seemed like only “yesterday”. Continue reading

Self Publishing/Marketing

One inherent and major challenge with self-publishing, is the marketing aspect. No book is going to sell if nobody knows it exists … and that is where the marketing comes in. If you happen to be a celebrity, then your marketing issues are quite possibly going to go away as some publishing and/or marketing company will happily take on those responsibilities but … for the rest of us? We tend to be on our own, developing our own strategies, and trying to come up with something that is financially feasible.

A professional publicist did offer to take on the marketing responsibilities for “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” for $18,000.00/year (if I recall correctly). To “break even” would dictate selling over 3500 copies per year however, as all net profits will be donated to the Oakville & Milton Humane Society (our local shelter who rescued Ray and worked with him to make him a feasible candidate for adoption), the questions all revolved around investing such a significant value into a high risk venture. Should I take the chance, and be prepared to write-off the $18,000.00 if necessary? My answer to myself was a decisive “No!”

The most economical method of reaching people is via the various social media platforms and, of course, through blogging. A local library here agreed to carry “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” in their inventory, and our local newspaper has promoted it on a number of occasions.

“Who Said I was up for Adoption?” is quite simply a tribute to our beloved Ray. It documents, in considerable  detail, the emotional roller coaster ride that was the first eighteen months of Ray living with us. He gave us many challenges, not the least of which was testing positive for heart-worm, and our first summer with him was subsequently dictated by his heart-worm treatment program. He was distrusting of all people and other dogs and would bark loudly to show his displeasure and “make them go away”! He would misread body language and react inappropriately. and would do so many other challenging things that we used a considerable amount of professional help in order to get him comfortable in his new environment. All of this is detailed in “Who Said I was up for Adoption?”

For marketing, I will simply say that it can be purchased in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats, and is available world-wide through all the usual on-line book retailers. It is currently on special pricing of $4.99, $11.99 and $19.99 (for the three formats respectively) if ordered direct from the FriesenPress Bookstore (link below):

https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000018826578/Colin-Chappell-Who-Said-I-Was-Up-For-Adoption%3F

Finally, there are numerous reviews on amazon.com. for anybody trying to decide whether Ray’s story is for them!

A local interview!

We have a lady in our town that loves dogs … and photography.  She publishes a book every year that is a collection of photographs of dogs she meets as she travels around here. All the proceeds from book sales go to the Oakville & Milton Humane Society (being the organization that rescued our beloved Ray).

The book is a very popular fundraiser, but this year she wanted to go a step further in her interest in dogs. She subsequently started podcasting, which covers her interviews/talks with people from all aspects of life and from anywhere  in the world. The common denominator is man’s best friend …. dogs!

A few weeks ago, she asked me if I would be interested in participating, and the answer is below!

https://dogstories1.podbean.com/e/colin-chappell-and-ray/?fbclid=IwAR3PEjDmYew7YJatVZlo687Qw3U1dDgFU9yr-xVf89tSMXQGTv5rdIFgKo0

Who am I? Do I really exist?

Personal identity (in this context = how you see yourself), is always an interesting topic for discussion. It can however be very complicated if you have a dog in your life and, in some cases, may even trigger an identity crisis! Continue reading

Life Circumstances!

The following is a copy of a May 2016 Post from this Blog. There are now many new Followers who would have never seen it, and therefore missed out on a golden opportunity to have some constructive and positive reflections! You “guys” can now have the same opportunity that my earlier Followers had! Enjoy! Continue reading