Melvin has severe allergies. Anything he gets to that he shouldn’t will cause him distress, be it itching or stomach issues. Sometimes, worse. In the house, I have control. He has zero access to anything and if people are over and there is food, he is in the office with an approved treat so that he can’t get to anything that might fall or be left by a novice on the edge of the table. I wash his bedding daily. Yes, daily. In the house, we are golden.

When we leave the house, it’s like walking through a minefield. Unfortunately we live in a new neighborhood (that part is not entirely negative!) where there are those who challenge my control over what Melvin eats. Workmen, who eat chicken wings and then throw them into the open field. The field where we walk. Or pasta salad, that they may not love, so they dump it on the road. Half eaten donuts, yeah, they’ll toss that. BBQ ribs, bread crust, you name it, they throw it. They do not believe in dumpsters or garbage cans. Melvin finds each and every morsel. You know who else finds those things? The geese. And geese poop. And Melvin says ‘yes, please’ too that too!

I don’t have special glasses that highlight goose poop, Melvin always finds it first. I can’t see the chicken bone through the grass so that I can use ‘leave it’ before he sees it. This morning, in our safe place to walk, I realized the geese had recently tainted it. The entire walk was me pulling Melvin (and subsequently poor Jake). I’m sure it looked abusive to anyone who saw it! “Why won’t that crazy lady let that poor dog put sniff the grass?!”. Oh also, I regularly have to reach into his mouth and pull bones and food out. This is not pleasant for either of us but once that food goes down, I have lost control of protecting him.

For five years now, after countless stomach upset issues, vets have been suggesting that I muzzle Melvin on walks. They say this because it is in his best interest. I, being human and all, feel bad muzzling him. I don’t care if we come across someone and they worry he is muzzled due to aggression, that can be explained with a conversation I. Just. Generally. Feel. Bad. Muzzling. Him. That said, he is currently at home itching himself to pure redness due to all the goose grossness he ate this morning.

9 thoughts on “Muzzle.

  1. I mean really Tracey, I can’t believe that you don’t have special glasses that highlight goose poop!!!! And who raised people that can’t properly use a garbage or a dumpster? I’m guessing the same people who raised the NYC people who throw fried chicken remnants, pizza crust in boxes and used prophylactics on the West Village streets.

    I can’t remember if you already walk Melvin on a head halter or not. While certainly not as foolproof as a muzzle because you still need to keep an eye out for “street food,” at least with a head halter you can turn a dog’s head away from whatever he/she wants pretty quickly.

    And I so feel your angst about muzzling Melvin. I would feel the same way. That being said, I see a lot of city dogs walking around with muzzles who look pretty content. I guess you have to think about how much Melvin would mind wearing a muzzle (and the impact it could have on his behavior) and being allowed to take in all of the smells he wants close hand, as well as how many potential vet visits and skin/stomach issues you could avoid, and balance that against the pros/cons of sticking with your current plan. XXOO to you, Melvin and Jake

    • Thank you for making me snort-laugh!!! I don’t walk him on a head halter (any more). I was giving the stress of this thought on the way to work today and the challenge is, Jake. Not Jake specifically, just in walking two dogs. When I walked only Melvin i could focus on the ground in front of us and do quick(er) corrections with him. And, he was just more focused on walking (and less on grazing). With two dogs, I go to pick-up after Jake and Melvin takes a load off and has a snack!

      The prophylactics comment took me back to my days living in NYC! Ahhhh, the joys of maneuvering through that city!

  2. Oh, this is so interesting as so many people really do associate muzzles with negativity, but this shows how it can really help with eating issues. We definitely have the goose poo issue with Miss m on nearly all of our SociaBulls walks. She cannot even stand in one spot without suddenly darting out and snatching something.

  3. Those f’n chicken bones were the bane of my existence as a city dog walker. I cannot tell you how many of them I’ve pulled out of the mouths of dogs…so gross, so slimy. I once took a pet first aid class in the ‘burbs and the instructor thought I was nuts because all I wanted to know was how to extract chicken bones from dog’s throats. Turns out, this was not an issue any other class members had to deal with, except for me (every day, all day).

    So here’s my thoughts on Melvin: muzzle him. The part of you that feels bad about making him wear one doesn’t feel nearly as bad as he does when he’s itchy. And you feel much worse then he will about wearing it. It’s the right call and you’ll kick yourself the next time he’s scratching himself raw after eating someone’s hoagie stub off the ground. Try a tan basket muzzle, so it won’t be too noticeable and he can still, technically, eat and drink while wearing it. And hopefully, he won’t get any chicken bones stuck in the grill.

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