Kim Bock

I currently have three doggos: An 80-pound brown lab, a 40-pound black curly mutt and an 11-pound white Chihuahua mix.

My “team” gets plenty of attention when we romp around Crown Mountain Park sniffing other furry butts (not me, obviously). We greet familiar faces/butts, unintentionally share balls and I keep several poop bags on the ready.

To keep my poop karma in good standing, I pick up any stray turds on my way to the trash can with my own puppers’ poop. It isn’t unusual to have three or four different “samples” in one deposit. Recently there’s a meme floating around saying, “You know it’s cold outside when you step on a turd and roll your ankle.” It’s ankle-rolling time folks!

Poop bag dispensers are now ubiquitous, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, too many humans didn’t get the memo on loaded poop bags. I’m sure everyone has seen neatly tied off bags set along a trail or path, on fence posts, and even slung into trees! Most were well weathered, obviously placed long ago. How pleasant. If you won’t pack it all the way out, don’t bring your dog – or at least get a stick or rock and fling the naked turds off the trail into the scrub oak. Would these people leave a full diaper by the side of the trail? Well, I’ve seen those also once or twice.

It’s been a long selection process we humans have created in the canine world to bring the genus from wolf to domestic dog. Y’all have probably seen the pictures of a mighty wolf juxtaposed next to a pug dressed in a bunny costume (cue the sound of the phonograph needle scratching vinyl).

Through the eons, humans have developed so many breeds with the fantastic array of traits and skills we value. One of my favorite annual TV rites is watching the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving. I learn so much about a breed’s history. My cat likes watching it too, but she has no favorites. I root for Labradors myself.

What this breeding/selection process has meant is that domestic dogs are now dependent on us hominids for pretty much everything – food, warmth and companionship. This has been a double-edged sword for canine pets, even in the Roaring Fork Valley. We have created such devoted creatures and abused them in sometimes not-so-subtle ways.

So, besides the poop bag issue above, here’s something else even more important to consider – people should NOT take their dogs where they shouldn’t be. They REALLY don’t want to be at crowded events such as pretty much any kind of festivals, music concerts, FIREWORKS (really, do I have to say this?). They go with you because they are programmed to please their human, and you also leash them, so they have no choice. A happy car ride can turn into a very scary situation for them.

A dog’s hearing is far better than humans. We must take this into account. Thank goodness that parents of babies and toddlers put noise-protection earmuffs on their kiddos at concerts.

Dr. Laura Hungerford, a veterinarian and research scientist, explains that, “Dogs could feel pain from sounds that weren’t painfully loud to us. Very loud sounds can hurt the ears and if a sound seems too loud to you, it is probably more so to your dog.”

At the New Year’s celebration in Glenwood Springs last week, there were way too many unhappy dogs in the crowd. It was 15 degrees and I saw a dachshund without a sweater or booties being walked on the icy sidewalk – really?

A large shorthaired pit mix was looking up woefully at his owner right in front of the music stage. It was so loud I was ready to shoo the owner away, when they sauntered off into the crowd, dog’s tail tucked. I hope all these pups didn’t have to endure the fireworks an hour later.

Signs of distress in dogs manifest in many ways – tails down maybe wagging nervously, ears down or back, pacing, eyes wide and whites showing (to better see threats), panting, and even yawning. Keep your eyes open and you’ll see these signs.

Last summer I called the police about a dog in a car at the City Market parking lot. My party sat eating outside and noticed the dog in a car parked right in front of us, which had been there throughout our meal. Windows rolled up except for an inch, it was probably well over a hundred degrees inside.

Before the officer showed up, the car owner shows up and two of us got up from lunch and told her she better roll those windows down fast as the police were on their way. Her response was astounding: “It was only a few minutes, and look at me, I’m not hot standing out here in the sun.”

We corrected her about the actual time the dog was sweltering, and I asked her to let the dog out and get inside the car herself for 20 minutes. She left in a quick huff before the cops came. If that dog had gone down on the car seat, I would have bashed that window so fast!

Can you hear the Sarah McLachlan commercial for the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) talking about the abused and neglected shelter animals? It’s been a huge fundraising success by the way and that is great. But what about the day-to-day situations we force upon our fur-kids? Don’t be that human…

Kim Bock lives in El Jebel and is the mom of her spoiled but lovable dogs and cats.