Archive for January, 2014

January Train Your Dog Challenge

January 31, 2014

One of my resolutions for 2014 is to teach Maya and Pierson more dog tricks. So far, I have been pretty good about keeping this resolution. Maya and Pierson have learned two new things this January.

TEACHING ALL THE WAY (aka head down)

You saw Maya do the “all the way” trick posted on January 6th. Now I have a photo of both Maya and Pierson doing it together.

Head Down All the Way Dog Trick 002

Maya and Pierson have both mastered the dog trick where they put their heads all the way to the floor.

Have your dog lay down in front of you. Tell them to stay, and then squat down and put the treat in front of them. If they reach for it, say “no”, “eh eh”, or “wait”. Slowly bring the treat (or toy) to the floor, leading their nose downward. Say “all the way” or “head down” the moment their chin touches the floor. Then say “good” and give them the treat or toy as a reward.

If they have a hang of this, move the treat down and a little out so that their entire muzzle is flat on the floor. Next, work your way up to where they don’t just touch the floor, but actually rest their head on the floor for a few moments.

Eventually, you will be able to say the command without having to put the treat in front of their nose and leading them into the position. Don’t worry if they don’t get to this point right away, like Maya. Train for only a few minutes at a time and be sure your training session always ends with a reward. So if your dog doesn’t get to the point where his entire muzzle is on the floor, that’s okay. Reward him if he is at least getting his chin to touch the floor. Reward your dog for what he can do and stop training before your dog gets bored or before either of you get frustrated.

The hardest part of this trick for both Maya and Pierson was keeping them from trying to crawl after the treat in my hand. It’s easier to teach this trick if your dog already knows to stay or wait.

TEACHING HOLD AND CATCH (aka balancing a treat on the nose then flipping it into the mouth)

The next trick is still in progress. I’m trying to get them to balance a treat on their nose, and then catch it when I give the release command. Once again, Maya was the first to get a hang of the trick. She will hold still without me having to hold her nose while Pierson still needs me to touch him. Both of them are still trying to learn how to flip the treat into their mouths rather than flip the treat behind them. Maya catches them more often than Pierson.

Pierson Balances Dog Treat on Nose

“I can see the dog treat. Why can’t I eat it?”

To teach this trick, hold your dog’s muzzle. Be gentle. Don’t make them uncomfortable, but hold on well enough that they can’t move around. When they seem to be holding still, give the “hold” command. Reward.

Next, add a treat to the mix. Hold your dog’s muzzle and gently balance the treat on their nose. This is a very tough one for most dogs because the can see the treat and really want to move so they can get the treat. Hold their nose gently and say “hold”. If they try to move out of your hand say “no” or “eh eh”, whichever your dog is more familiar with. If you dog doesn’t try to move out of your hand, hold for a few seconds. If he does try to move out of your hand, hold for only a split second. Try to only hold for just under the most amount of time your dog will hold still. You can gradually increase this amount of time over several training sessions.

When you reward them, let go of their muzzle and give the release command. I can say “catch”, but I use “okay”, which is the command I use to release them from “stay” or “leave it”. At this point, don’t worry about whether your dog flips the treat in their mouth. You want to teach them to balance it first.

Once you think they understand the “hold” command means to hold still, cradle their muzzle in your hand rather than hold it. After several successes, simply touch their chin when you give the “hold” command. Eventually, you can have them balance the treat on their nose without you having to hold them still at all.

Pierson Tries to Balance Dog Treat on Nose

I still have to touch Pierson’s chin in order to get him to hold still and balance the dog treat on his nose.

To teach them to catch the treat rather than flip it backwards is not easy. The best way I can say to do this is to double-reward them when they do it. In other words, if you give the release command and the flip the treat behind them, let them get the treat as their reward. But if they actually flip the treat in their mouth, give them another great right away and give lots of extra praise. Make a big deal out of their success.

The hardest part about this trick for Maya and Pierson is teaching them to hold still. I think it was easier for Maya because I have sort of used it before when I tried to balance my glasses on her nose.

Maya Balancing Dog Treat on Nose

Maya is good at balancing a dog treat on her nose.

Student Dog Maya Wearing Glasses

Maya already knew how to hold still and balance a pair of glasses, so teaching her to balance a treat on her nose was easy.

January is train your dog month. Dog training doesn’t have to be a chore. Teaching tricks is a lot of fun. So take up the challenge and remember to keep training sessions short and train often.

To see what’s next on our dog trick training agenda, come back on Monday to see. 🙂

Check out the blog hop below for more Train Your Dog stories, tips, and challenges.

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The Rest of Pierson’s Gotcha Story – Part 2

January 28, 2014
Pierson Playing with Ball 1

The Wobbly Nobbly dog toy ball was one of Pierson’s favorite toys, until he chewed it to pieces.

In Part 1 of Pierson’s story, I told you how I convinced my husband to let us keep a stray and about how he had to be treated for fleas and ticks at Pawsh Wash. Today, I’m going to tell you about a very expensive mishap that occurred after only three days of having Pierson in our home.

Crate Training Disaster
Pierson did very well on his first night in the crate. The second night was a very different story. Pierson not only cried, he also fought his way out and actually succeeded. I think he did some damage to his nose in the process because the next afternoon he had a terrible bloody nose. I suspect he bruised his nose while trying to escape the crate and the heater on in the house made a blood vessel burst the following day.

Pierson Watching the Rain 1

Pierson is wishing it would stop raining so he can go outside and play. This photo was taken after he lost his thick winter coat.

Second Vet Visit and Emergency Hospital
I took him to our vet in town. They couldn’t do anything so they sent me to the emergency vet, Blue Pearl. Blue pearl is a 45 minute drive. I can’t even begin to tell you how terrible the back seat of my car looked after Pierson sneezed blood all over it! Thank goodness for Oxyclean.

We Can Put Him Down
When I brought Pierson in to Blue Pearl and told the staff I just got this dog and how I got him, they assumed I wouldn’t want to pay for his treatment. I imagine it happens often where people bring in a stray animal that is ill or injured and just want the dog taken care of but don’t want to pay for it. It’s reasonable to want to help a stray animal but not be able to afford emergency medical care. Emergency vets are expensive. But I had made a commitment. When they hinted they could put Pierson to sleep, I made my position clear. No way! Do what you can, I told them.

Pierson with Legs Out

Frog Dog – I’ve had many dogs in my life but I do not ever recall having a dog that could do this with his legs.

Recovery and Reunion
They couldn’t stop the bleeding with a cold compress or by putting gauze up Pierson’s nose so he ended up having to stay overnight. When I went to get him the next day, I paid $800+ and was rewarded with Pierson being very happy to see me. He had been very shy the first three days at our house, so this warm welcome was very heartwarming. Yes, I cried.

Fitting In
Every day brought Pierson closer to me and my husband and to Maya. He learned his name very quickly. His shyness with us slowly wore off and the real dog began to blossom. He learned to play with Maya and he learned to play with us. He came housebroken, which was bonus! As he got more comfortable, though, bad habits became evident. But those are other stories and already told in previous posts.

Maya & Pierson Sleeping on Dog Bed

Maya and Pierson are often found sharing the same dog bed, even though I have one for each.

There you have it, the rest of Pierson’s Gotcha story; told in full detail.

The Rest of Pierson’s Gotcha Story – Part I

January 27, 2014
Pierson at Pierson Park 1

Stray dog living at Pierson Park in Kansas City, Kansas in December-January 2012.

On January 10th, Pierson’s official Gotcha Day, I told you about how he was finally caught after living in a park as a stray for nearly a month. But his adventure didn’t stop there. Coming into a strange new home took some adjustment. So let me tell you the rest of Pierson’s story.

Take Him to the Shelter?
When we first started trying to catch this stray dog, my husband didn’t think it would be a good idea to take in a stray. He was worried about bringing in a dog with unknown behaviors and unknown diseases. He suggested that if we catch this dog, we should take him to the humane society, let him go through the adoption process, and then adopt him. There are some no-kill shelters in the Kansas City area, so it was not an unreasonable request. Also, considering he was a stray, it would give his previous owners a chance to claim him.

Pierson Playing with Toy 001

The day Pierson first felt comfortable enough to play in his new home.

No, I want to Keep Him
But when I finally got Pierson in the car, I did not want to take him to the shelter. So on the 40 minute drive home, I began to think of reasons why we should just keep him. For one, it was unlikely he would be claimed. He had no collar and already been living in the park for three weeks. And an officer who had also been trying to catch him said she called local shelters and no one had reported a dog of his description as missing.

Prepared to Beg
When I got him home, I introduced Pierson to Maya. He didn’t like her, but at least he didn’t outright attack her. There was hope. So I called my husband at work, prepared to present my argument about why we should keep him rather than let him go to the shelter first. To my surprise, it didn’t take much to convince him. All I had to do was give Pierson a bath and take him to the vet.

Maya and Pierson 006

Pierson loves to chase and Maya loves to be chased.

Fleas and Ticks
I took Pierson to Pawsh Wash, a doggie boutique with half of the store dedicated to grooming. I could pay someone to bathe Pierson, or I could pay a smaller fee and use their facilities to bathe him myself. I opted for the later. Pierson was so well behaved during his bath! I must have been there for an hour-and-a-half combing him, bathing him, and pulling out all the ticks. One of the staff at Pawsh Wash helped me even though I had opted to not to pay for the full grooming service. I believe it was Chelsea who helped me. One of the other staff members helped me pick out a good nutritious food for Pierson. Chelsea and all the Pawsh Wash staff are PAWSOME!

Vet
Next stop was the vet’s office. It was an easy visit. Except for the fact you could feel his ribs, there were no visible signs of illness. Blood work was done and vaccines were given.

Maya & Pierson 005

Pierson warmed up to Maya rather quickly.

Smart Dog?
Remember the post on the 10th of this month where I told you we got Pierson because my husband said he wanted a smart dog? Someone asked if my husband was satisfied with Pierson’s intelligence. My husband has very little experience with dogs, so he didn’t really know what he meant by a smart dog. But he is very happy with Pierson, despite a few mishaps. What mishaps, you ask? Come back for Part 2 tomorrow where I tell you about Pierson’s emergency room visit three days after we brought him home.

Rocky Goes Over the Rainbow Bridge

January 26, 2014
Rocky the Dog on Couch

Rocky has gone over the Rainbow Bridge.

My mom just called me. She said her dog Rocky died in his sleep last night.

Rocky was very special to my mom and stepdad. Like me, my mom has had dogs her entire life. That was, until she lost Beethoven, her poodle. After Beethoven, she swore she would never get another dog because it hurt so much when they left. But then she met my stepdad. After they married, they went searching for a dog together and opted to search through Craig’s List.

Now I know you’ve heard bad things about getting dogs on craigslist. But this was before a lot of people posing as rescue groups sold their dogs there. And before there was a known problem about people in dog fighting getting bait dogs off unsuspecting families looking to rehome their dogs. Rocky was from an actual family who was trying to find a home for him because they realized they didn’t have time for him and being tied up in the back yard was no life for a dog.

My mom and stepdad fell in love with Rocky right away. One special trait of Rocky is that he was so lovable. I mean really really lovable. If you didn’t like dogs and you met Rocky, he would impose himself on you until you learned to love him. And there was just something about his black eye, black lip, and his small ears compared to his big head. He was just too cute.

Rocky What's Up?

Seriously, how could you not fall in love with this goofy face?

Portrait of Rocky's Happy Face

Rocky has one black eye and one black lip. Silly-cute.

Another special trait about Rocky is he was not very bright. My mom and stepdad often joked about how dumb Rocky was. But they made fun of him lovingly. They didn’t care that he wasn’t smart. He was loveable.

Rocky Standing Over Mom

Rocky like to be on top of things, like laps, shoulders, etc.

Rocky also had a cute way about hogging the bed. If my mom went to bed before my stepdad, Rocky would lay next to her. Then when my stepdad went to bed and try to get Rocky to move, Rocky would grumble about it for a bit before he’d decide to move.

Rocky Sleeping

Rocky would complain if he was told to move from his spot on the bed.

Yes, Rocky was a very special dog. My mom and stepdad are understandably upset. Me too. I’m crying as I write this. It is going to be strange visiting my mom next time and not having a 75 pound dog rest his head on my shoulder or try to climb in my lap. We will all miss you Rocky. I’m glad your passing was peaceful and I am positive you’ve found some friends to play with over the Rainbow Bridge.

Rocky and the Snowman 2

My mom’s dog Rocky and his twin brother.

How Bad Would My Health Be Without My Dogs?

January 23, 2014
Maya on the Couch

When I’m not feeling well, I put a sheet over the couch and call the dogs up. Maya loves to cuddle with me. Mentally, it really helps me feel better.

Did you know about 1/4 of people with fibromyalgia are considered disabled? I do not consider myself disabled. Over the years I have learned how to manage most of my symptoms. Maya and Pierson help a lot. I imagine that without them, my symptoms would be far worse.

I wrote a post in November about how I was starting up a treatment that was supposedly going to cure my fibromyalgia. Well, it didn’t. I did everything I was supposed to. I did not have the support of a doctor, but that is only because there are no fibromyalgia specialists in my area. I did, however, buy a book that explained the treatment in detail. It required an over the counter drug, so I was able to implement everything to a T.

Anyway, since it didn’t work, I have to continue to manage my symptoms. This is where Maya and Pierson come in. Most days are pretty good, but I still have some bad ones. Yesterday, for example, I had to go to the emergency room. Before you worry, I was okay. I went at the suggestion of my doctor even though I was reasonably certain it wasn’t serious. It was my fibromyalgia acting up again.

Yesterday, I had an unexpected and terrible pain in my jaw and my mouth started to feel tingly. I was in extreme pain for several minutes before the pain slowly started to dissipate. This pain was unusual for me so I called my doctor and she told me to go to the emergency room.

Apparently, the painful jaw and tingling of the mouth is a symptom of a stroke. So when I got to the hospital, they immediately checked me in and began running a bunch of tests. All tests came up normal. They didn’t find anything wrong. Whew!

When I got home, I did my own research. I searched and searched about jaw pain until I finally found one that sounded like it could fit my situation. It said about 1/4 of fibromyalgia patients experience jaw pain. And the pain is more in the muscles than in the jaw. So there it is folks! I wasn’t having a stroke. It was just yet another symptom of my fibromyalgia. Ugh!

By now, it is well known that there are several health benefits to having a pet. I wholly believe this to be true. Sephi, Maya, and Pierson have been wonderful blessings in so many ways, including my health. Regular exercise is one way I am able to keep most of the fibromyalgia symptoms at bay. Maya and Pierson are great at helping me with this. We walk and play together all the time. Stress can trigger fibromyalgia symptoms as well and my dogs are great at helping me to alleviate stress.

Pull No More dog harness

Walking makes me feel better, and Maya too! 🙂

If you ever tell anyone you’ve heard pets provide health benefits and they don’t believe you, tell them you know someone who knows it is true. Attribute it to the placebo effect if you want. Whether my dogs are the sugar pill or the medicine, the fact remains that they are still a real remedy. They provide not only health benefits, but they hold the key to happiness. I don’t even want to imagine what my health and my life would be like without them.

Pierson and Mr. Monkey Dog Toy

Pierson’s cuteness helps lighten my mood whenever I’m not feeling well.

Thank you, Amy Shojai, for letting me reference your article about the health benefits of dogs.

Wordless Wednesday – Great Stuff from The Petter & Loving Pets

January 22, 2014

Welcome to the Wordless Wednesday blog hop! I’ve got a couple of cute photos of Maya and Pierson showing off some new stuff they got. Sorry Pierson is so hard to see. I should have taken the photos with the light behind me rather than behind him. Oh well, I hope you like them anyway:

Maya Pierson Canister Planner

We’re two lucky dogs to get all this great stuff.

Pierson and The Petter Planner 2

Pierson’s new planner.

Pierson and the Petter Planner 1

Inside The Petter planner.

Bella Canister from Loving Pets

The lid seals in freshness so well that I can pick up the canister by the lid and it won’t open. It is still easy to open, though, when I want to pull out some treats.

Any of you doing the K9 Camp challenge? The Petter is 2014 pet planner for dogs. It’s a great way to keep track of and document your pet’s activities.  The Bella Canister is from Loving Pets. It’s great for storing treats. The lid automatically creates an air tight seal in order to keep treats fresh.

Thanks for stopping by our nearly Wordless Wednesday post. Be sure to check out these other great pet bloggers who have joined the blog hop:

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Scoop That Poop at the Dog Park

January 20, 2014

Scoop That Poop Logo

We’ve had unusual weather here lately, as I imagine most of you have as well. One day it is below zero and the next it is light jacket weather. Well, I took full advantage of one of those nicer days by taking Maya to the dog park. We hadn’t been since before the holiday, so it was nice to be able to go again. Most of our visit was nice, anyway…

I don’t understand why so many people still don’t pick up after their dog, despite all the signs and the free dog poop bags! I guess they see that one person was too lazy to pick up after their dog and so they assume it is okay they don’t either.

It’s not okay. I feel that in a dog park, it is even less okay. After all, some dogs visiting the park might be carrying harmful bacteria, a virus, or they might have worms. Yuck! :p I don’t want Maya to get sick. Nor do I want her to accidentally step in some and track it in my car. She could also bring it home to Pierson.

"Don't be a turd. Scoop that poop."

“Don’t be a turd. Scoop that poop.”

I have to admit our dog park is not as bad as it used to be. When I first moved to this town, the park didn’t have any signs or any dog poop bags. So someone is making an effort. I also believe volunteers come by from time to time to scoop. Perhaps I should get on that volunteer list. Or I could just go out there and do it. I have a great poop scooper called Scoopy the Poo.

Scoopy-the-Poo Dog Poop Scooper

I have this except in red.

Do you think people who see me scoop that poop will realize perhaps they should pick up after their dog? Or do you think they will figure that since someone else will scoop it, they don’t have to? I have a feeling many people will think the later. Perhaps I need to wear a vest saying, “VOLUNTEER”. What do you all think?

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Mostly Wordless Wednesday – Petco Toy and Bandana

January 15, 2014

Look what Maya and Pierson won from Petco through the All Things Dog Blog! I don’t usually have Maya and Pierson wearing bandanas because bandanas were Sephi’s thing. But you have to admit that Pierson looks darned dashing. 🙂

Maya Pierson New Petco Toy

Yes, Maya. You get to play with the toy too. But the bandana goes to Pierson.

Petco Stuff from All Things Dog Blog 003

Well, Maya. You’re going to have to wait until Pierson is done with it.

Do you want to see more fun pet photos? Visit the Wordless Wednesday blog hop by clicking the link below:

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Monday Mischief and an Award

January 13, 2014

Monday Mischief Blog Hop

This is my second Monday Mischief post ever. I don’t do these often because, well, Maya and Pierson are mostly pretty good. Don’t get me wrong, they do get into mischief. But not often enough for me to remember to grab my camera and take a photo. So for my second ever Monday Mischief post, I want to share a video I made of Maya and Pierson riding in the car. Some of you may have seen it on my Pet Auto Safety Blog. If not, check it out. Maya is definitely up to trouble in this funny dog video.

Cute or shameless promotion? Perhaps a little of both? Either way, it is mischief. 😛 Maya would definitely be sticking her nose in my face or trying to climb in my lap if she wasn’t buckled up. I will be making another funny dog video of Maya and Pierson soon. It’s going to be hilarious, trust me.

Maya Pierson Car Talk Cover

Okay, now that I’m done showing off the video I put together of my two little cuties, I want to let you know about an award we got from Clowie. Clowie is one very well-mannered Great Pyrenees dog. She’s never into any mischief. Seriously. She always has an interesting story to tell, a story that passes along an important lesson. Go check out her blog, Clowie’s Corner.

This award recognizes friends and followers and I am very honored to have received such recognition from Clowie. Thank you so much Clowie!!! ❤•.✿.•❤

Friends Followers Award

I am supposed to pass on the award. However, I am having a hard time narrowing down who to give the award to. To be honest, all of you deserve one. So consider yourselves all winners of this award. Thank you so much for stopping by and for being loyal followers of Maya and Pierson. 🙂

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Pierson’s 2nd Gotcha Day

January 10, 2014
Pierson at Pierson Park 1

Stray dog living at Pierson Park in Kansas City, Kansas in December-January 2012.

I WILL MISS YOU SEPHI

November 2011, my dearest Sephi crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I still had Maya, but there was still a hole in our lives. At the request of my wise husband, we waited until after the holidays to look for a another dog. I checked PetFinder.com and put in applications to a few rescue groups. But it wasn’t until I posted something on Facebook that the perfect dog came along. Some of you may know this story already. But for those of you who do not, read on. 🙂

I WANT A SMART DOG

My husband said he wanted a smart dog. I’m not sure what his definition of a “smart” dog was. My honey doesn’t know much about dogs, so I’m not sure what his expectations were. Sephi wasn’t the brightest bulb on the chandelier, but she wasn’t dumb either. And she was very well behaved. At any rate, I followed his request and began looking at Border Collies, Aussies, and even a Standard Poodle.

FACEBOOK SAVES THE DAY

Border Collies were my first choice, though, and so I posted a request for information on Facebook. I wanted to know what Border Collies were really like, not just the generalized descriptions you find in breed books or online. I wanted to hear from real people. And that’s when one of my Facebook friends told me about a Border Collie mix that had been living in a park for nearly a month.

Pierson at Pierson Park 2

Luckily, this stray dog had a thick coat and we had yet to have our first winter snow.

ROAD TO RESCUE

I found out more information through a friend of a friend and drove the 40 minutes or so to the park in order to try to catch this dog. He was friendly and let me pet him, but the moment I pulled out the leash he’d run off. It took me three days to catch him, and it wasn’t even me that caught him.

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

Keep in mind, this was in January. Every day I didn’t catch him, I’d lie awake at night thinking about how cold this poor dog must be. After two days of no luck and no sleep, I was at a loss. But thankfully, within five minutes of arriving at the park on the third day, an old man showed up. He said he had been feeding the dog for about three weeks. He couldn’t catch him either and already had too many dogs of his own, so he didn’t know what else to do other than make sure this dog was fed. And animal control wouldn’t try to catch the dog either. Unless the dog was dangerous, animal control didn’t care. (By the way, if they did care, they would have taken the dog to a high-kill shelter… another reason the old man didn’t do anything more than feed the dog.)

GOTCHA!

Anyway, the dog walked right up to the old man. The dog still backed off when he saw the leash, so I asked the man to sit in the back seat of my car and try to coax the dog in. It worked. But instead of coaxing the dog in, the old man simply picked him up and put him inside!

YOU’RE FAMILY NOW

The dog was now mine. I named him Pierson after the park, and he has been a beloved member of the family ever since. That day was January 10th, 2012. I estimated him to be about a year old at the time, so today is his 2nd Gotcha Day and his 3rd birthday.

WORTH EVERY EFFORT, AND THEN SOME

Happy Gotcha Day Pierson!!! You’re the best little fuzzy boy ever and I hope you will be my little fancy pants for the next several years to come. ♥ ♥ ♥

Pierson Rescue Dog

Pierson was nervous on his first day at his new home. He wasn’t quite sure yet what to think of me and my husband or Maya.

Portrait Photo of Pierson Small

I could tell he was young by his shiny white teeth and lack of fully developed boy parts.

Me and Pierson

Pierson was still a little nervous when we had this photo taken in February 2012.

Pierson Playing with Ball 4

The Nobbly Wobbly ball is one of the first dog toys Pierson played with at our house. He has since chewed this ball to pieces.

Maya & Pierson 005

Pierson warmed up to Maya rather quickly.

Maya and Pierson 006

Pierson loves to chase and Maya loves to be chased.

Pierson Sleeping 2

As you can tell, Pierson is quite content in his forever home.

One of the first things Pierson learned at our house was how to sit and wait for dinner.

For more fun videos of Pierson, visit us at YouTube.com/NatureByDawn