How your mood affects your dog

Dogs can experience both positive and negative emotions. They can experience pleasure, comfort, fear, and anxiety. Dog’s ability to communicate with humans is unlike any other species in the animal kingdom.  Having said that; dogs can catch our (humans) emotions very well. They seem to possess a special skill for knowing exactly how we’re feeling.

As a pet parent, we also have to keep in mind how our mood and behaviour affects our pet’s behaviour and overall well-being. We are their primary care-givers. To keep them in good health is our priority. If we are angry, throwing a tantrum, screaming, etc. Our dogs are most likely lurked below or behind a couch out of fright, afraid to make eye contact; for fear that he or she might intensify our rage.

Conversely, if we are feeling sad, our dogs are drawn towards us trying their best to make us feel better. And if we are happy, they are happy. Laugh out loud and watch that tail wagging. I can say this with guarantee as I am a living proof to this. As mentioned in my earlier posts, I wouldn’t have been living if it wasn’t for Casper who understood my sadness and immediately came towards me and started licking my tears.

Thankfully, those bad days and weak attitude is gone. Dogs adapt to figuring out their humans’ emotions. It is very important for us to stay hale and hearty at most times. But what if we’re not acting out? What about those times we put on a brave face for the world when we’re fearful — or when we keep a stiff upper lip even though our world is falling apart? During these dark times, it sometimes feels like your dog senses your emotions, even those you thought you were hiding.

Living among people with consistently negative emotions can create negative behaviors in dogs. On the other hand, cultivating an environment in your home that fosters mostly positive feelings in your human family will help contribute to well-adjusted, content dogs with fewer behavioral issues. It’s not always easy, but doing your best to sustain a positive, happy household is beneficial to everyone — you, your kids, your dogs, and other pets, too!

When Casper passed away, I was consistently reminded by the vet, family and friends to keep a positive attitude; as it would affect Junior. But I was in a very fragile state and would break out crying often. I started noticing that Junior became a little distant from me. This was because, every time he came towards me to lay his head on my lap or bought his favourite toy, I would push him away (not physically push of course). He caught up on my behaviour and became distant, and also stopped eating.

Mercifully, I collected myself for the sake of Junior and made a full recovery. Had I continued with being depressed, Junior could have developed a full blown anxiety. Once again, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. For and because of Junior, I became strong.

Dogs are intuitive, and also sensitive to human moods and behaviours. You must have noticed that dogs are playful with some humans, and distant from some. This is because they can sense human vibes. If your dog doesn’t like someone or is hesitant to be close to some humans, then it is an indication that you too should maintain a healthy distance from that person.

Dogs can make you happy and improve the quality of your life. They also keep us physically and mentally active. Looking after them is not a burden, but indeed beneficial for our own health and well-being. I used to purposely stay in a good mood around Junior, and now it has become a habit. We are humans, we have our days. But having my dogs around have helped me go through the bad days by staying calm and positive deliberately so that I don’t remove my anger on my dogs. This in turn, became a lifestyle. I never display my negative or bad mood in front of Junior. Infact, I start playing with him and my mood automatically changes.

So, next time you want to wipe your tears on your little fur baby, remember to think of his feelings, too…

Remember, your behavior has a significant impact on his peace of mind and quality of life.

I am a proud Dog Mom

Being a mother doesn’t mean being related to someone by blood. It means LOVING someone UNCONDITIONALLY and with your WHOLE HEART. Being a dog mom isn’t an easy job, but it is definitely the best job anyone can do. And I am blessed that in this lifetime I got an opportunity to be a Mom to two wonderful dogs – Casper and Junior.

Being a dog mom is the best gift of my life. My dogs gave me a reason to live and smile every day. I am in love with my children (fur babies) who were not born from me, but FOR ME. Yes, this is absolutely true. Casper and Junior literally gave me a reason to keep living, and not just living; but thriving. Had it not been for my dogs, then I would have been in deep depression or probably wouldn’t be alive.

Everything I know about my life, I learnt from my dogs. Predominantly; living in the present. Just like them. There are many people who try to correct me by saying that I am a pet owner and not a pet parent. For me, I emotionally see myself as a Dog Mom to my fur babies. My life revolves around them. I spend most of my free time with my dogs.

I own many things, such as furniture, car, house, clothes, jewellery, etc., but I don’t have this type of emotional attachment to those objects as I have for my dogs. Though Casper is no more, but I still consider him my baby even in the present, and will do so in the future. I don’t have human children, and probably would not even in the future. I chose my dogs as my family and children.

My dogs are my responsibility, and a large part of my life. Much of my time and energy is spent in caring for, nourishing, and engaging my kids. They sleep in my bed and eat off my plate. I believe I know what’s best for my dogs. No one knows their needs and desire better than me. It is just not my duty and responsibility to care for them, but as a mother, my utmost priority.

It is often said, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friends”. But my best friends are dogs. My dogs have given me the best days of my life. And also one of the worst day; when Casper died. I laughed with him for all his life. And now I cry in his memories for all my life. However, I was proud back then, and I am proud even today that I was a Mom to such a beautiful soul. On the other hand, I still have Junior who has kept me going after Casper. He makes me laugh with his funny tactics, he gives the sloppy kisses, he is the warmest blanket for me in winters, and he is my anti-depressant.

My life feels so fulfilled and satisfying. People think I am stuck with a dog to take care of, and I cannot enjoy my life. According to them, the meaning of enjoying life is going out clubbing, partying, socializing, etc. What they do not understand is, I am already living a cheerful and adventurous life with my dogs. I also socialise with the right people who understand the importance of dogs in our lives. And trust me, there are many. I have made more friends who are dog lovers than what I had made when I didn’t have any dogs.

Dogs are our link to paradise. They know no evil or jealousy or discontent. Living in a metropolitan city, I have a dream to sit with Junior on a mountain top, enjoy the view, and just live in the moment. To experience the time what my dog experiences everyday – live in the present.

My life with my dogs has been a blissful journey. A journey which started unexpectedly and made me explore those parts of me which I didn’t even know that existed. The Accidental Dog Mom who is now a Proud Dog Mom. A girl who is recognized by her dogs, a girl who’s loved ones knows her dogs are her priority, and a girl whose life was saved by her dogs. My dogs are my babies. I cannot find the words to explain how much having my dogs in my life means to me, but I do know that without my dogs my world would be empty and dark.   

My pet parenting mistakes

There are a lot of different beliefs about how to raise a dog. Just like every human, no dog is the same. And while there is no right way to raise a dog, there are certainly some bad practises out there. Raising a dog is a lot like raising a child. Just like how you want your child to be healthy, happy and mannered, the same way what you do greatly affects your dog’s wellbeing as well. Let me share my personal experience about the mistakes I made while raising my dogs:

  • Scolding them:

Casper was my first dog. I had no experience or knowledge about raising a dog back then.  And as we all know, puppies are very adorable; but at the same time naughty and destructive. Whenever Casper would destroy something or wouldn’t listen to me, I would scold him sometimes. This was an absolute ridiculous behaviour from my side. Being illiterate in dog behaviour, I was dumb as well to listen to others who would suggest me stupid ideas on how to make a dog methodologically mannered. The right way was to train him early, and even though if he misbehaved post training, I should have been patient with him.

  • Keeping their food bowl full:

Casper was a picky eater. After he recovered from Tick Fever, he became all the more choosy about his food. I would leave his food bowl filled for hours thinking that whenever he would be hungry, he will eat it. But that doesn’t work for dogs. The best way was to mix wet food with dry food and feed him. And leave it in front of him maximum for 30 minutes. Eventually, Casper started eating his meals like a normal pup and I never faced any other issues regarding his eating habits.

  • Feeding them low grade treats and food:

Often times we have to consider our income in many things. Casper was always on a good brand food. However, I had to switch Junior’s food for sometime to a cheaper kibble as I was going through a hard time in life. But that turned out to me more expansive. How? Junior fell majorly ill. I had to spend a lot of money on his tests, medicines, check-ups, etc. Fortunately, Junior was in good hands and the vet never let him slip into a critical stage. Let me tell you, the vet always scolded me and asked me to switch Junior’s food to a better and know company. But my hands were tight, and I thought, that “kibble is a kibble, be it any company”. I was so wrong.  The same applies for treats and bones. Always use a good quality product for your dogs.

  • Not giving them time:

I was an animal activist for some years. Besides that, I was even working. The only time I had for my dogs was their walk time. Casper passed away at an early age. And till this day I regret not giving him more time. It is said, “Make sure your cup if full before you pour into others cups”. My own dog was feeling lonely and I was busy saving others. I quit the animal activist work, started spending a lot of time with Junior, and now I take care of only those stray cats and dogs where I can reach without compromising on Junior’s time.

  • Neglecting symptoms:

Casper always vomited once a month. Each time I would think different reasons like the weather is bad, or he must have eaten some crap, etc. Had I got him checked earlier, maybe, just maybe I could have saved him. Please do not ignore even the slightest sign which appears to be different than their normal behaviour.

These were the major mistakes I made. As you must have realised, most of them were with Casper, because by the time I got Junior, I had gained good knowledge about raising a dog. Don’t take me wrong, though I have made mistakes in raising Casper, but I have loved him immensely as well. He had a very lavish and happy upbringing. He was the most mannered and loving dog. And now, I make sure I don’t repeat my mistakes with Junior, spend a lot of time with him, give him enough exercise, feed him the best food, and love him a lot.

Whether you are a new pet parent or already a pet parent to many dogs in the past and present, mistakes are inevitable. But pet parenting mistakes are worth reviewing and avoiding whenever possible. Socialise them, exercise them, feed them good food (don’t over feed), don’t leave them alone for long hours, get their check-ups done regularly, train them, NEVER punish, scold or beat them, keep them clean, don’t neglect their personal hygiene, and most of all – LOVE THEM.

How much freedom is too much freedom?

Is there such a thing as too much freedom? In case of dogs, I don’t think that such a thing exists! Atleast in my house. What I believe is, dogs are already confined to in one house, if you have a backyard, then one house and a backyard. In that, if you restrict them to not enter the kitchen or bedroom or on the bed, then it is not fair. But this is entirely my perspective. And far more easier for me as I live alone.

Casper and Junior had no restrictions in the house. They were and are allowed on the couch, bed, kitchen, practically everywhere. They had full access to the house. But before we achieved this freedom, I have paid a little price for it. That is, I had to train both my dogs so that there were no accidents or damage. The price I paid was, eaten walls, eaten wires, damaged shoes, a little fall here and there, peeing anywhere, broken crockery, eating scraps in the kitchen, and some more little accidents.

But this freedom still comes with a price. There is dog hair everywhere. On the couch, bed, kitchen platform, wardrobes, bathrooms, etc. As I mentioned earlier, it is easier for me as I live alone and I pretty much now cannot live without coming across dog hair from anything I use.

However, there are some dogs that cannot be left loose in the whole house. If that’s the case with your dog, do not get disappointed. You can always crate train them. Crates are great to keep the dog safe and out of trouble. Since I was always of the opinion that dogs should be left loose in the house, I never found the need to get a crate and trained them accordingly. I had also trained my dogs to stay alone at home when I was not there. Again, initially I paid a price for it, because when I came home, I would find poop at random places or torn mattress or chewed bottles, etc. I never left them alone for long hours and they always had access to fresh drinking water. Also, they were always fed before I left the house as I have also managed my time according to their feeding schedule.

So, if you are thinking about giving your dog full freedom and if your dog is still having accidents or if he’s chewing off-limit items, it may be too challenging for him to be left loose while home alone at this point. Just keep working on the basics and use a crate for now. There is no magic age that says dogs can suddenly be given more freedom. It all depends on your unique dog’s behavior, so just be patient.

Don’t think about giving your dog too much freedom too quickly. You have to build a solid behavioral foundation for him first. I would like to bring one important point to your notice, i.e. never force your dog into the crate and never use it as a punishment. Always create a positive atmosphere by using treats and extra goodies like stuffed toys or durable toys while you are away.

Besides crates, there are also pet gates. They are fold-able and portable. Let’s say, you do not want your dog in the kitchen. You can put the gate at your kitchen entrance and restrict your dogs from entering the kitchen. Or you can use these gates anywhere in the house where you do not want your dog to have access to.

Now, let me make one thing clear. If your dog is trained and goes hours without any trouble in house, doesn’t mean he can be let off leash or let roam free outside your house and in your locality. No matter how well trained and well behaved your dog is, it is neither safe nor appropriate to allow your dog to roam free or off leash outside, even with supervision.

Every dog is unique. With time, you will understand your dog’s behavior and will be able to take a call if your dog can be allowed in the whole house or restricted to a particular area. None of the decisions will be wrong. Start by leaving your dog alone for 30 minutes, and then gradually increase the time. Accordingly adjust the time as per their meal schedules and your work schedules. If you do not want them on the bed, get them their own bed. I would also like to suggest to not leaving your dogs in the crate all day long. Besides their walks, let them play or roam a little in the house or your backyard.

Never punish your dogs, specially for making funny Instagram or TikTok Videos

Although everyone wants to give their puppy plenty of space to play and explore, allowing it free run of the house too early on is a sure recipe for disaster. Keep setting your puppy up for success by making sure it has toys to play with, has had plenty of exercise beforehand, and has already gone to the toilet.

Eventually, once he is able to go a full month without making any mistakes, he will be truly ready to roam the house on his own. Don’t expect a completely smooth process- but do expect a rewarding one as you develop an unspoken bond with your dog.

Regret getting a Dog?

Nothing has ever made me regret getting a dog. They are the best. If you give them love and take good care of them, there should be no regrets. However, I personally know some people who were pretty enthusiastic and formed an idea into their minds of how it would be like taking the dogs for walks, playing fetch, plenty of cuddles, etc. before bringing home a new dog; but later regret it.

I have been approached for advice a couple of times by people who were looking forward to bring home a dog. I have been asked questions which are always of cosmetic nature than practicality. They ask me which breed to buy, the cost of keeping a dog, the life span of the dog, etc. But it is only when I start asking them questions in return is the time they realise that bringing home a dog is just not “for my son/daughter” or “a status symbol” or anything which is cosmetic in nature, but way too different than that.

Nevertheless, they still bring home a dog and regret it later, because the reasons of getting a dog were always wrong and never backed by knowledge and a strong foundation.

Regrets can affect anyone. Whether it’s your first time bringing home a new puppy or a dog. I completely agree that it is not a piece of cake when a new member enters the house. However, if you are prepared and aware of the efforts to put in, there won’t be any regrets.

Often times, after getting a dog, people feel like they can’t do anything right, or the dog and they don’t have a meaningful connection, or they feel their freedom has gone for a toss. You may also have irregular sleeping schedules, and sometimes you can’t even catch a break. Most common sign of regret is feeling trapped, helpless and guilty. Please remember that these signs or regrets don’t last forever. It is a just human to feel all kinds of emotions when any new member enters your house, whether it’s a human or a dog.

Allow me to throw some brutal honest light on what you should know before bringing home a new puppy or a do:

  1. Every member in the house should agree to welcome the dog
  2. Don’t get a dog just for your child. After the initial excitement wears out, it is you who will have to take care of the dog and not your child
  3. Puppies require a lot of attention which will consume a lot of your time
  4. Your sleep will be disturbed for some weeks
  5. The initial few months will be a little heavy on your pockets
  6. Never bring a dog in a congested and a small house
  7. Your furniture, clothes, walls, wires, etc. can get destroyed till your puppy is teething and trained
  8. You will be restricted to travel for long hours for some time as you cannot leave your puppy alone
  9. There will be times when you will have to even cancel plans
  10. There will be poop and pee in the house till your dog is trained. Even after being trained, there will be accidents, plus vomits. Be prepared to clean it up by yourself
  11. Lower your expectations

All the above may seem overwhelming in the beginning or to even read it. But trust me when I say this; if you bring home a dog as a permanent family member (right reason), you will fall madly in love with him/her and you won’t be able to imagine your life without them.

Always consult a good vet and follow their instructions well. Besides the initial hick-up, getting a dog is the best decision in the world. Their unconditional love and loyalty is unbeatable. The fact is, dogs make us more Human, and I cannot explain this in any other better words. If there are problems, do not give up on the dog or beat them up or keep them tied. There are solutions to every problem. Do not give excuses like “I am getting married, so I have to put up my dog for adoption” or “my partner/child is allergic to dog” or “I am relocating”, etc.

Understand that there are teething problems, whether you start a new business, enter a new relationship or have a child. You don’t go around replacing or abandoning everyone and everything right! Just because dogs are voiceless, doesn’t give you the rights to abandon them.

While everyone’s circumstances and experiences are unique, you aren’t alone. Remember that on the other side of regrets of getting a dog are many years of love and friendship with your dog. Feelings of regrets are completely normal, but temporary. Don’t make a permanent decision on temporary feelings. I am no different. I too had puppy blues. But I was determined to get through it and today, I cannot imagine my life without my dogs.

Try to understand, your puppy has just been taken away from everything he has ever known by alien creatures (humans). He doesn’t even know what “good boy/girl” means yet. He’s still trying to figure out where he is and why he’s there. He doesn’t know this place is home yet, and he doesn’t know who his owners are. He’s scared. Day by day, the more you feed your dog with love and care, and the more you bond with him, he will begin to realize that you are his family. It will get easier with time. Whenever I got too frustrated or upset, I tried to remind myself how hard this must have been for Casper and Junior as well.

Birthday Week 😀 with Food

I finally succeeded in making layered parathas. Here’s, Masala Laccha Paratha with Cardamom Tea.
My signature dish, Paneer Butter Masala, Salad, Naan and homemade Shikhand (made by my Mom)
We recently encountered a cyclone. It was windy and raining heavily. The best weather to have Aloo, Pyaaz and Paneer Pakoras with Kadak Masala Tea.
Rawa Dosa in the making
Cauliflower Manchurian
Junk food – Samosa Pav 😍
Junior shares his birthday with his elder brother Brad and Pitt. They live in Kolkata and I made this as a gift for them in Soft Pastels.
Birthday boy with his Grandparents
Mammu (Mumma’s brother) and nephew goofing around
Mumma and Baby 💞

Behind the Scenes

An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language; but only a few can understand this. I respect those who do not understand this language, and believe that a pet isn’t for them. Their reasons may be any, but are respected as they understand that they are not ready for it, and, know for sure, that they will not be able to care for the pet and do justice by bringing it home. These people are far better than those who brings pets home for various reasons, and, leave them neglected or abandon them or leave them back to the shelter.

I have come across a few people who have enquired with me to bring a dog home, only on the basis of seeing me and my dogs and how easy I make it look. So, today I am going to talk about the actual challenges I face and have faced by being a “make it look so easy” dog mom. As I always say, “Will it be easy – no! Will it be worth it – absolutely yes!”

I have heard this common statement, “I have grown up with dogs, I have always had dogs in my house, so I can handle a dog after marriage also, etc.” What they forget to compare is, they lived in a joint family where many were there to take care of the dog. These days, we live in a nuclear family in apartment houses and working couples. The biggest challenge here is, who will walk the dog? And once you have a kid, who will look after the dog? It doesn’t stop here. Even if couples distribute their walking schedules, who will wake up in the middle of the night if the dog throws up or falls ill and clean up? These are not small issues, as a dog’s life revolves around you, and if you struggle with the basics, then it is advisable to not bring a dog home. A dog is just another child; everything you do for your kid; you do for the dog. I cannot emphasize this more and its every word of it is true to the dot.

According to general public, I am living alone happily, I do what I want, I can go out party whenever I want, I can call anyone at home, etc. Because my dog stays at home peacefully, doesn’t destroy things, doesn’t bark or bite, doesn’t smell, etc., all because I make it look easy. Let me make one thing very clear, whatever I have done or do for my dogs is because I WANT TO DO IT. They are my responsibility and my babies, and I will make sure that they are healthy, happy and safe. And I believe, anyone who has this mentality will always make it look easy to others about caring for their pets.

Thus, these are the behind the scenes of keeping my dogs in the best atmosphere. Recently, I had fallen ill. It was so bad that I couldn’t even sit for more than 5 minutes. But, even in such a state, I had to take Junior for his walk. I was so liverish, but I had to feed Junior his meals on time and keep filling his water bowl as and when it got over.

I rarely go out for late night parties. Because then it becomes difficult for me to wake up in the morning to take Junior for a stroll. Living in a crowded city and being alone, I as it is sacrifice on taking Junior out to the beach or socializing as it is not my cup of tea. So my emphasis is more on his walks as that’s the only time he is outdoors.

When Casper or Junior are unwell, I stay up all night to make them comfortable. If they are better by the day, then I go for work or else take days off to look after them. Pay cuts, juggling between vet visits and back log, and make sure my dogs become healthy again. And not a damn soul would come to know I was struggling from past few days.

When I was heartbroken and going through the post breakup depressed phase, I grappled through my daily activities. I wasn’t even in the mood to take a shower or make coffee for myself. But, I fulfilled all my responsibilities towards my dogs.

I went broke for a period of time. I quit having one meal for myself to save money so that I could feed my dogs their required meals. And again, people thought I was living my best life alone with my dogs.

I adjust or miss out on many outings with family and friends because of my dog’s schedule. I don’t regret it at all, but there have been times when I had to skip on some important occasions because the boarding lodging was full and I had no place to keep my dogs. Also, recently my cousins planned a holiday and I to cancel it because Junior was recovering from pancreatitis and I couldn’t leave him at boarding lodging. When I needed to take that break the most, but I couldn’t. And it is ok, because that sacrifice was worth as Junior is in the best of health now.

I clean my dogs vomit, I clean their poop, I clean their drool, I clean their butthole, I apply ointment at weird places whenever needed, I remove ticks and fleas (whenever they get) from their body, there is dog hair all over my house, etc. and some people call it disgusting after knowing what all I do. Until then, “wow your dog is so clean, he doesn’t smell, his coat shines.”

Even on daily basis, whether I am in a good mood or a bad, I have to keep all that stuff aside and make sure my dogs schedule is not disturbed. My dogs do not bark, or bite, or destroy things is because I have put in a lot of effort in training them. My dogs can stay home alone without creating a ruckus is because of all endeavor I have made to tutor them since they were puppies.

I will definitely accept the fact that if I had a little help or someone with me, then it would be a lot easier for me to care for my dogs. Nevertheless, I still make it look easy for others on my own; but the fact is, It is NOT easy. Some days, you see stars in the day, some days, you only want to cry, some days, you are in too much pain, either physical or mental. But end of the day, when Casper and Junior sleep besides me snoring out loud, it’s all WORTH IT.

A dog is not just a Christmas gift or a companion for loneliness or an Instagram model or a status symbol. And definitely not “I have had pets all my life, so I can bring a dog after marriage”. A dog is a family member. Most of the people will get a dog and within a month return it. So, think about all the aspects before you decide for a commitment of their life time. He might only be here for a part of your life, but for him, you are his whole life. Remember that people. Dogs are forever, not until you get tired of them – be sure before you get one and once you do, he is for life! Would you return or abandon a baby no matter what the reason? Then why abandon a dog?