Junior and Zoom Calls

Who knew that the world would face such a time of fear and lockdowns, where everyone is trying to stay healthy; at the same time make a living to survive during lockdowns. Thanks to the technology that we can still connect with everyone and work from home, as well as socialize with our near and dear ones.

From the past one year, Video calls (predominantly over Zoom), and meetings have played a very important role in our lives. Most of us were pretty new to working from home and didn’t know much about how to go about with it. Phone calls, emails, and, messages worked fine even when there was no lockdown. But when indoors, how do we conduct meetings or share a virtual get-together with our family and friends! Besides the practical use, there were many who were even shy to be on camera compared to personal visits.

Well, I had a different problem. Not just that I was new to Zoom, but so was Junior. He just couldn’t grasp the concept of someone talking back on the call with their face being seen. Also, sometimes he looked traumatized seeing his Mumma laugh like a maniac along with the various people on the call.

Dogs recognize voices, and are far more responsive to tone of voice than specific words. So initially when I had Zoom family meetings, I kept my phone or laptop on speaker, Junior would hear various voices and get confused. He would hear people call his name, but wonder where they were coming from. I would even show him the screen, but since he was never used to technology, he didn’t quite understand what was happening.

It was funny, as well as confusing. Since these Zoom calls were totally new for Junior, he would do anything in his power to get my attention. He would keep patting his paw on me or start barking or circling around and whine or take something in his mouth which he knew he shouldn’t. He basically protested towards Zoom calls.

I knew I had to do something, as I had no other option since we were in the lockdown. So, I observed Junior when I had a Zoom call next and tried to understand his trigger. His first trigger was voices of different people coming from a device which he didn’t understand and not physically seeing anyone. So I started using earphones even on my laptop. His second trigger was everyone calling out his name. Now, since I already started using earphones, that issue was also solved and I would tell everyone on the call to give Junior some room to get used to the new normal.

Then, came a behavior that I had to correct of mine towards Junior. Earlier when Junior would act up, I would push him away. Pushing him away didn’t work at all and technically wasn’t the right correction technique. So next time when I got a call, and Junior started throwing tantrums, I ignored him. I did not push him away. I simply ignored him. And when he calmed down, I gave him a treat.

Slowly, I started introducing Junior to the device. My parents were always eager to see Junior and I had to find a middle way to get this worked out. Besides my parents, my extended family, friends and colleagues too wanted to see Junior. So I introduced treats training i.e. every time I would call Junior and he would come, I gave him a small treat. Then I made him sniff my phone/laptop and gave him a treat. Then I removed my earphones and introduced him to others voices one by one, and when he didn’t bark or act up, I gave him a treat.

Within a few days, Junior was doing just fine with the calls. But here’s a catch. Dogs are so smart as we all know, so is Junior. He started looking forward for Zoom calls now, because, he knew he would get a treat……ha ha ha ha!

Here’s another funny part. After Junior got used to Zoom calls, and he was done with his treats process, he would just go about doing his own thing. Once, he farted and I was on a work call. I wanted to laugh out loud but couldn’t. The way I controlled myself, I only know. Another example, yesterday I had a work Zoom calls, and Junior grabbed the broom from the maid and started running around in the house. The tug-of-war for the broom between my maid and Junior was a sight to see. But again, I couldn’t burst out laughing as I had a work call going on.

Besides his funny incidents, in and out throughout the calls, Junior would come every few minutes and poke his nose. Honestly, it’s the best and the cutest thing. Out of nowhere, he will come to me, lick me, poke his nose, put his paws on my legs or shoulder and go away.

What a journey it has been. Last year this time the whole world was under lockdown and we expected all this to end in a few months. But This year, we are again in a second lockdown and back to working from home or socializing from home. It’s really a blessing to have Junior with me who has never let me slip into loneliness. And of course, his funny, but innocent behavior is something that I will always look forward to in every Zoom call.

Codependency

Legitimately, there are so many new words I heard and learnt in the past 4 years that it is unbelievable how our generation and the younger generation has complicated, wasted and made the beautiful term “LOVE” meaningless. Besides ghosting, gaslighting, narcissist, talking stage, etc., codependency is just another word that I learnt.

Now what is codependency? In simple words, it means where a person is needy, or dependent upon another person. Basically, clingy. In a relationship, one person is so addicted to the other, that their life doesn’t function normally without the presence of the other person. In a crux, it is actually an unhealthy relationship.

But here, I mainly want to talk about codependent dogs. Yes, I learnt this word after interacting with a Vet. And to understand it better, I read through some articles on the internet and realized this has become very common these days in a relationship.

I had recently gone to the Vet as we are in the process of changing Junior’s medicated food to normal food. He relatively had less patients that day and was free to talk to me. He shared some not so surprising facts with me about the 2 major issues dogs faced in the lockdown – anxiety and obesity.

Obesity was because of the restrictions during the lockdown and the fear of coming in contact with the virus if humans walked their dogs in public. So most of the dog parents over fed their dogs with treats and crumbs to keep them entertained or not to disturb them when they were on a work call or in short, when they were working from home.

The other problem was, anxiety that the dogs faced was because outdoor activities were limited, socializing was a strict no and every walk was atleast 6 feet away from any kind of interaction with other dogs and humans. Because of the pandemic, the humans stayed home 24/7, which means, it was a party for the dogs. For them, there is nothing better than being with their humans’ day and night for months together. Unfortunately, this in due course resulted to codependency. The dogs became completely reliant on their humans for every minute of their day.

You probably would think, “how cute, my dog follows me everywhere. Aww, he/she loves me so much.” But in reality, your dog has forgotten to grasp the concept of having space, and their dependency could be making them a nervous wreck. They have now become so afraid when you leave the house or are not there at home that they become ecstatic when you come home. Their tails are wagging frantically, they start jumping on you and sometimes, even the house is a mess.

For most of us this is a normal behavior, irrespective of the pandemic. But the difference is, now it has become difficult for the dog to be on their own after we have spent months with them and started suffering from anxiety.

So, how do you know the difference between cuteness and codependency? Here are some signs to check in your dog:

  • Barking more than normal
  • Jumping a lot
  • Howling
  • Peeing on the floor
  • Destroying things at home
  • Following you from room to room
  • Nipping on people who gets close to them
  • Over possessive about their humans
  • Head bobbing
  • Become a little aggressive
  • Eats only after you feed them

These are some signs to look for. If you can relate to some or all of the above, then your dog is completely dependent on you and may develop anxiety if not corrected soon.

When I had relocated to a new apartment, Junior faced codependency for a few days as the place was new. But since I knew it was a temporary phase till he got adjusted, I just let him be. But codependency can turn into a permanent problem for the dogs with the little lives that they have.

Allow me to share some suggestions/tips to help your dog and you through it. But first, let me once again bring light to the fact that their clinginess may look cute, but being responsible dog parents, we have to help them be mentally independent just like how we would for human kids. Here are some tips when they behave to gummy:

  • Pet them less
  • Ignore them when they are wanting too much attention
  • Make sure they sleep or have plenty of things to do when you leave home
  • Be strict on their sleeping time
  • Slowly and steadily start taking them to dog parks and socialize with other dogs (now that the lockdowns have eased all over the world)
  • Even when you are home, send them to their favourite space as time out. Basically, less dog-parent interaction
  • Burn their energy
  • Stimulate their mind with mental games

Let me inform you, sometimes, the way one partner is dependent on the other partner, even humans can be dependent on their dogs. Like some humans cannot sleep without their dog by their side, or some call the day care 10 times to know how their dog is doing, many won’t go on holidays or dates without their dogs, and even if they do, their only topic to talk about is their dog! Either way, codependency is not healthy. For the betterment of everyone living under one roof and the dog, start being honest with yourself. Learn to have a life of your own and also help your dog become healthy mentally.

OMG! – My Dog Does Not Eat!

For every pet parent, “what to feed my dog” is a question many constantly struggle with. We often wonder about which food is good for our dogs. We share our hearts and homes with our canine pals. Surely there is nothing wrong with sharing our favorite foods with them too, right? Not necessarily. Many of the foods, such as vegetables and fruits, that humans digest just fine can wreak havoc on a dog’s body, causing severe health problems. On the other hand, some of the foods people eat can be introduced to a dog’s diet just fine, and even provide health benefits such as joint strength, better breath, and allergy immunity. We want our babies to be in the best of health and live a long life and what we feed them plays a very important role in this.

Having 2 dogs, the dilemma for me was even greater as one food would suit Casper, then the same food wouldn’t suit Junior, and, vice versa. I was always in a fix and honestly, still am. When Casper was a puppy, I used to feed him a particular brand food and Caspu grew up to be a very fluffy and healthy dog. But the same food was fed to Junior and he was the skinniest dog for a pretty long time. Then I put Junior on another food brand and he developed fat lumps because of it. It’s always been a constant struggle. Briefly, I had even substituted their one meal to homemade food. Now, being a vegetarian, their homemade food consisted of brown rice, veggies, buttermilk, flaxseeds and cold press coconut oil. They were doing good with one meal as non veg kibble and other one as homemade. Sometimes, my neighbor would give them boiled chicken, but soon both Casper and Junior developed rashes and acidity and I had to stop that.

Good nutrition is extremely important for dogs. It keeps them healthy and happy. But there’s no set formula for how often you feed your dog or what you put in their bowl. That’s because each pooch is different. At all times, my vet has given the best advice about my dog’s food and changed their lifestyle as per their health and age. After years of testing and trying, and, having worked with various NGO’s and pet lovers, I have come to a conclusion that dry dog food is usually the safest and best option for dogs. It meets all nutritional needs as most products have meat, grains, vegetables, fruits and vitamins. It is also healthier for a dog’s teeth as wet food creates more moisture, and most pet parents do not brush their pets or take them for dental checkups.

Apart from dog food, I also struggled with dog treats. Although there are some table scraps or food in your plate that you can give your dog, you still have to be careful. Junior has wheat allergy and is lactose intolerant. I can never feed him rotis or milk. Casper would love chewing on commercial bones, but there was always a fear of being choked. Other than that, here in India, we really do not get good quality bones or treats. So I had to rely on carrots at all times. As a thumb rule, if you are feeding your dog’s anything outside his meal, it should not exceed about 10% of his daily diet. Dog obesity is another big issue and is not only difficult to deal with, but also attracts several medical complications. So, to keep your dog at the optimum weight and healthy, we have to feed them the right meal and at proper intervals.

Unfortunately, Junior stopped eating carrots out of nowhere and I was back to the perplexity of what to feed him now. I hunted for a better option, but to no respite. Any other treat or biscuit I would give Junior he would throw up. I would give him watermelon or apple slices sometimes, but because of my busy schedule, I couldn’t be regular in buying them and stocking them.

In the midst of all this, I was already in talks with a friend to start a new business. He being a dog dad and a dog lover himself, suggested that we should work on something that we love the most, and that was animals. We came up with the idea of providing the best dog food and dog treats to our lovely and beautiful fur babies. After all, what’s better than watching your pooch react to the question, “do you want a treat?” We love to give our dogs treats because it makes our pups so happy, and when these treats are safe and healthy too, it’s an icing over the cake. Treats can be used for various purposes like training, comforting, just because we love them, health related, etc. Commercially available dog treats have become very popular and a common part of a dog’s diet.

So here we are, we started a joint venture and joined hands with a very trustworthy and reputed company to import dog food from Netherlands, and meaty invigorating dog treats, and then packaged here in India after adding top of the class vitamins and nutrients. In all, super premium quality and a complete power packed and balanced diet for dogs at all life stages. A dream come true. No longer a dilemma of running hither and thither for the best and genuine dog food and dog treats.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  said by Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, Apple. What more would have we asked God for! Being dog parents and diehard animal lovers, we have entered into a venture which is extremely close to our hearts and the best health of our pooches.

Introducing Hunger Fills and Sniffy. Let me tell you this, Hunger Fills is the only treat which Junior didn’t show any remorse or threw up as other all treats he has always had indigestion problems. As for Sniffy, he actually pounces to eat it. So it’s tried and tested on my own dog and then put out in the market.

Hunger Fills is a delicious, meaty and nutritious dog treat available in three flavours – Carrot, Chicken and Milk.

Sniffy is a premium dog food product made in Netherlands and power packed in India. It comes in three variants – Starter, Puppy and Adult and Chicken and Egg flavor. It is fortified with vital nutrients, enriched with energy and protein.

We are so grateful for all the support and encouragement from all our loved ones and happier to see our pooches wagging their tails and drooling over Hunger Fills and Sniffy. Something that we have wanted very much for a long time that have now happened. It is true, if you love something, go after it without limiting yourself, add faith, add action, add perseverance and lastly, add patience and time. Then everything is possible. A dream to keep our dogs healthy, hearty and live long with the right food and treats has finally seen the light and is shining bright.