Posts Tagged ‘dog’

Wordy Wednesday – Who Wants Breakfast? Maya Does!

March 25, 2015

It doesn’t matter how sound asleep my Labrador Maya is. If I say the word breakfast, food, cookie, or oops (to mean I dropped something on accident), she is suddenly alert and comes running!

Labrador Dog Maya Sleep Awake Breakfast

What is your dog’s favorite word?

For more Wordless or Wordy Wednesday fun, check out the pet blog hop below.

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Managing Undesirable Dog Behaviors

March 6, 2015
Bad Poetry Day - Roses Aren't Edible

Pierson likes poop so I need to manage his behavior.

Dogs will be dogs, but some of the things they want to do are annoying, unpleasant, or possibly not safe. If someone is not familiar with dog training, their first instinct might be to try to correct the issue with punishment. Those who are familiar with better ways to stop an undesirable behavior will try behavioral modification techniques such as redirection and positive reinforcement. But sometimes, we don’t have to go through all this work. Sometimes we can eliminate an undesirable behavior by managing it.

Let me give you an example. My dog Pierson loves to eat my other dog Maya’s poop. I’ve considered training him not to eat it. But let’s be honest, even if I did teach him not to eat it, he will probably still try whenever I’m not looking. I’ve also considered giving Maya something like NaturVet Coprophagia Stool Eating Deterrent to make her poop taste bad. But I’d have to buy this stuff all the time or risk Pierson realizing the poop wasn’t tainted and eating it. So what did I do instead? I simply decided to always pick up Maya’s poop right after she poops. Yes, it is a bit inconvenient, especially in colder weather. But it’s more sanitary and it has completely stopped Pierson from eating her poop. No training, no expensive supplements.

Another example is with Pierson’s barking. As you may know from previous posts, I gave in and got him a no bark collar. It worked well much of the time. But sometimes he really couldn’t help himself from barking and I felt terrible about the collar shocking him. It finally occurred to me that I should try managing his barking instead. This is what I did:

Determine the Cause of the Behavior

Pierson barks at surprising noises and he barks at squirrels, rabbits, and birds. I decided that barking at noises isn’t such a bad thing. I want to know if someone is creeping around my house. Even though most of the noises Pierson barks at are nothing to be concerned about, I can live with that. But the barking at squirrels, rabbits, and birds when he can see them out the back door window was too much.

Eliminate the Cause of the Behavior

Like how I eliminated Pierson’s desire for eating Maya’s poop by picking up her poop, I managed Pierson’s barking at animals he sees through the window by blocking the view from the window. It worked like magic! By simply putting a large piece of paper over the bottom half of the door window, I eliminated Pierson’s barking by at least 70%.

Dog Pierson in Front of Blocked Window 1

See how I blocked the door window so that Pierson can’t bark at squirrels?

Dog Pierson in Front of Blocked Window 2

“How am I going to talk to the squirrels now?”

Other Ways to Eliminate Undesirable Behaviors

If your dog tends to get in the trash, eliminate the behavior by getting a trash can with a secure lid or by putting the trash can in the pantry. If you don’t have a pantry, use a smaller trash can and put it under the kitchen sink. You may have to throw out trash more often, but isn’t that better than picking up trash from the floor and worrying about whether your dog ate something harmful?

Eliminate digging behaviors by filling his favorite digging spots with rocks or even his own poop. Keep your dog out of your garden by putting decorative fencing around your garden. Keep your dog from trying to bolt out the door by putting his leash on him before you open the door. Stop counter surfing by making sure food is always put away and/or out of reach. Keep your dog off the furniture by laying a sheet of foil over it when you’re not around.

Managing your dog’s undesirable behaviors isn’t always feasible and doesn’t always work. But if you think outside the box, you might just come up with a simpler way to stop your dog from doing things you don’t like. You can save time and even money by not having to hire a dog trainer.

Does your dog have an annoying behavior that you’d like to stop? Comment below and let’s see if we can come up with some creative ways to manage your dog’s behavior.

Story of a Lost and Found Dog

February 16, 2015
My Dog Smokey

In Memory of Smokey – One Darned Good Dog

This is a true story about my dog Smokey from several years ago. Smokey has since passed on, but I still think of him from time to time. I was recently reminded of this lost and found story when empathizing with someone whose dog has been missing for over a month.

Smokey was everything a good dog should be. Smart, loyal, lovable, and well-mannered. He was my boy. He didn’t just love me, he took care of me. I can recall a number of incidences when he had my back, but before I relate the lost and found story, let me tell you about one of these incidents during our trip to the Grand Canyon.

I was separated from my husband at the time and was anxious to go out and see the world. I was really into hiking, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities at the time so the Grand Canyon seemed like a great place to go on vacation. As a single female, I should have been a little afraid to go on vacation by myself. But I really wasn’t going to go by myself. I was taking my boy Smokey with me.

Me and My Dog Smokey at Georgetown Lake

This isn’t the Grand Canyon, but my dog Smokey was my hiking buddy on a lot of trips. We spent three days roughing it on a hike we made around Georgetown Lake in Texas.

Our first stop was in Tucson where we slept in my car at a campsite. We stayed only long enough to sleep and for me to take a quick photo of Smokey in front of a tall cactus. Then we were on our way to Sedona. I think we were there for a day or two hiking the wild green trails surrounding various big red rock formations. It was on that trip that Smokey and I saw our first Tarantula. Cool!

My Dog Smokey in Tucson Arizona 3

Before we headed to the Grand Canyon, we stopped in Tucson.

 

Next, we went to the Grand Canyon. It was here that Smokey first exhibited his role as my guardian. I was young and pretty back then so it is no surprise that I had men hit on me from time to time. For the most part, Smokey could care less. He got along with people well. But he had a sixth sense, as some dogs tend to do. There was this one particular man that Smokey did not like one bit. And he let the man know exactly how he felt, too. Smokey did not lunge at him or even bark, but when the man went to pet him Smokey showed his pearly whites and let out a menacing rumble. Now I don’t really know if this man was up to no good or not. But I trusted Smokey more than I trusted myself.

My Dog Smokey

That’s my boy!

This is just a hint at how close Smokey and I were. So you can imagine how devastated I felt on the day he disappeared. Someone left the gate open and being an intact male, Smokey went out exploring.

I looked everywhere for him to no avail. I must have filled the tank in my car a dozen times while out looking for him. I even checked the animal shelter, but there was no sign of him anywhere. The internet was not as prevalent as it is now, so I did what most people who lost their pet did back then. I put up hundreds of fliers and posted ads in the newspaper. I also talked to people who were out and about and visited the shelter on a regular basis.

No one had claimed to see Smokey. Not a single person responded to my ad or my fliers. I did have a scam call where a truck driver told me he had my dog and he wanted money, but I didn’t fall for it. This man didn’t have my dog.

For two long weeks I feared for the worst. I was sure Smokey had been hit by a car or something. Smokey was smart but he was not streetwise.

By the beginning of week three, I was ready to give up. I almost didn’t place an ad in the paper. But thankfully, I did.

A couple of days after I placed that ad, I finally got the call I had been hoping for. It was a vet office. They said they had picked up a dog fitting Smokey’s description a couple of weeks ago. It was quite a distance from our house, but it really sounded like it could be my Smokey. He had the same collar. He had tags too, although the woman said the tag information didn’t lead her anywhere. (I checked the tags myself later and the tags did, indeed, come back to my current information. But that is another story.)

I still wasn’t sure if it was my Smokey that they had or not, but my heart raced as I got in my car and tried not to speed over to the vet office. When I got to the office, I tried to be patient as the receptionist called someone to the front. As a woman led me to the back kennel area, I asked her a dozen questions. My heart was still racing and she was walking so darned slow!

Smokey must have heard my voice because before we got to the door of the kennel area, I heard a wailing cry. I’ve never heard this sound from Smokey, but somehow I recognized his voice too. The woman couldn’t open the kennel area door fast enough!

She didn’t have to show me which cage Smokey was in. I just followed his cry. And sure enough, there was my boy!

I cried so hard at seeing him again. He cried too. It didn’t take long before the entire vet staff had tears in their eyes too.

When the woman opened the cage, I was mauled by the happiest dog ever. I’m sure he scratched me with his nails, but I didn’t care. I was so happy to see him again. I got my boy back! It was the best day ever!!!

You can’t end a story on a happier note than this, so The End.

My Dog Smokey When He Was 2.5 Years Old

This is my dog Smokey in his younger years. He is 2.5 years old in this photo, long before the lost and found incident.

Wordless Wednesday – Dogs and Snowflakes are Kisses from Heaven

February 4, 2015

Ever heard the quote, “Snowflakes are kisses from heaven”? After shoveling 10.5 inches of snow from my driveway this weekend, I wasn’t sure I agreed. But after watching my dogs Maya and Pierson play in it, I’ve rediscovered the beauty of snow.

The Street to My House February 2nd, 2015

The street to my house after our weekend snow was so pretty that I had to pull over and take a photo.

My Dog Maya Scales 10.5 Inches of Snow

This bench in our back yard shows how deep the snow is compared to my Maya.

Snow-Filled Trees in Our Back Yard

The trees in our back yard are heavy with snow. Some branches broke.

My Fluffy Dog Pierson in the Snow

My fluffy boy Pierson likes the snow. Can you see his boots?

Dogs Maya and Pierson Looking at Frozen Squirrel

Maya and Pierson are looking at a squirrel that is sitting on a lower branch of a snow-filled tree.

Maya and Pierson Giving Snow Kisses

Pierson gives Maya snow kisses.

Okay, so it’s not so wordless. I just can’t help but to comment on the photos. You’re welcome to leave a comment too. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Wordless Wednesday!

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Happy 3rd Gotcha Day Pierson

January 10, 2015

I can’t believe it has only been three years since I got my dog Pierson. It seems like he’s always been a member of the family.

Happy 4th Birthday & Happy 3rd Gotcha Day, Pierson!

Pierson Cuddling on 3rd Gotcha Day

Pierson Cuddling with Me 2

Maya wants cake for Pierson Gotcha Day

Yes Sweetums, of course you get cake too.

Want to know more about the day I caught my little fluffy pants Pierson in Pierson Park? Check out my post on The Reward of Rescuing a Dog.

 

Dog Attack Again?

September 26, 2014
Maya on Dog Bed Looks Sad

“Why does everybody want to beat me up?”

I thought the two incidents with Maya being attacked by other dogs were isolated incidents. But it almost happened again and with a different dog! Actually, I should say dogs because there were two. Poor Maya. This time, though, I think I handled it much better for her sake.

The first time Maya was attacked, I froze. I didn’t know what to do. Luckily, the owner came and grabbed her dog and Maya wasn’t injured. The second time was too hectic because I was trying to deal with Pierson. It didn’t occur to me that the dog would turn around and attack Maya when Pierson was out of the picture.

But this third time, everything worked out great. I actually kept the two dogs from reaching her. Here’s what I did:

When I saw the two dogs coming, I stepped in front of Maya to protect her. When the two dogs got close, I stomped my foot and yelled “No!” They slowed down but were still approaching so I hunched down as if I were going to come at them and stamped my foot and yelled again. This time, they stopped. A couple more times and they backed off.

Where was their owner? She was outside with them and was yelling her head off for them to come back. They did not listen to her. I’m not surprised. I doubt Pierson would have either if the situation were reversed.

Last time, I excused the owners of the other dogs. This time, though, it was pure negligence on the owner’s part. She purposely let her dogs outside off a leash and without an enclosure. I felt like I should have said something to her, but as soon as those dogs backed off I got the heck out of there.

How would you have done?

Just Because My Dog is Shy Doesn’t Mean He Was Mistreated

September 5, 2014
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.

I was talking to someone about my dog Pierson the other day (when do I not talk about my dogs?), about how he was rescued and about how shy he can sometimes be around strangers. Their first reaction to his shyness was to say he had probably been mistreated by his prior family. My immediate response was to say this is not necessarily true and here’s why.

SHY BUT NOT FEARFUL
Pierson is wary and shy, but he is not fearful. He darts out of the way of a fast hand movement or if someone bends over him. But this is a natural reaction for many dogs. He doesn’t snap or growl in reaction. He simply takes a few steps back.

Dad Pierson Shake

Pierson was a bit shy around my dad at first. But he warmed up to him after a few treats.

BREED BEHAVIOR
Pierson is most likely part Border Collie and part Australian Shepherd. Both these breeds are very high alert dogs. They were bred to guard flocks and so they tend to be naturally wary of strange things, including strange people. Pierson tends to warm up to a person better if I or my husband is there and if the other person lets Pierson check them out first on his own terms.

LACK OF SOCIALIZATION
I got Pierson when he was probably a year old so I have no idea how well he was socialized. He was very shy when we first got him. I have been doing my best to introduce him to new people and new things. And as such, he tends to warm up to new people much quicker than in the past. There are still occasions when he decides to be shy. Generally it is around small children since he doesn’t get the opportunity to be around children much.

Family Playing Hungry Hippos

Pierson looks on as my niece and nephew, my brother-in-law, and my husband play Hungry Hungry Hippos. He was wary of the little ones but not fearful. My sister has done a good job of teaching her kids how to approach dogs and to leave them alone if they don’t want to be bothered.

MISTREATED
A dog very well could be shy due to mistreatment. If Pierson had been mistreated, however, I would expect his reaction to be a lot more severe. I’d expect tail tucking, ears going back, eyes dilating, growling, or cowering. He occasionally growls, but it is usually when a person tries to be too overly friendly with him. He’s not a Labrador. You can’t just go up to him and try to put your arms around him! (Actually one shouldn’t do this to any dog regardless of breed, but you get my point.)

I honestly don’t know whether Pierson had been purposely abandoned in the park I found him in or if he had wandered off from his family and found his own way to the park. I have no idea if he was loved or if he was unwanted. Either way, I very much doubt he was abused. For Pierson, I think the most likely explanation for his shyness is his breed mix. Lack of socialization is probably a factor too, but I think it is possible for certain dogs to have a shyness tendency regardless of proper socialization.

Do you have a shy dog? Why do you think he or she is shy? What do you tell people when they suggest your dog might have been mistreated?

Poor Maya – Sometimes Stuff Happens with Our Dogs

August 1, 2014
My Sad Dog Maya in a Cone

Poor sweet Maya. She had to wear this cone for a few weeks. You’ll see why below.

Stuff. I’m putting it nicely here because I don’t like to curse. If you have dogs, you understand what I mean by stuff. It doesn’t matter how much preventative action you take, how much training you do, or how responsible of a pet owner you are. Stuff happens. And it happens when you least expect it.

Let me tell you about the bad stuff that happened to my poor Maya during her first couple of weeks in our new home in Iowa. Maya was attacked on two separate occasions by two different dogs and two different owners. Sounds terrible, right? It was traumatizing for us both, especially Maya.

The funny thing is, we don’t live in a neighborhood of irresponsible pet owners. Our neighbors don’t let their dogs run loose. There is almost no trouble here. It just so happens that Maya was in the wrong place at the wrong time… twice.

The first incident was when we were on a walk. And it was as a result of a pet owner who had a momentary lapse of judgment. She went from the back yard to the front in order to put something in the trash. It was only going to take a few seconds so she didn’t close the gate. A few seconds was all it took. Maya and I happened to walk by at that moment and her dog ran out the gate and attacked Maya.

It happened so quickly. I was too shocked to react. Thankfully, the owner reacted right away. Maya’s feelings were hurt, but she was otherwise unharmed.

The woman was very apologetic. I didn’t lose my temper or give her a lecture about how she should have known better. The truth is, it could have just as easily happened the other way around. I get complacent with how well my dogs behave and sometimes I don’t think. Seriously, what are the chances of another dog walking by in that less-than-30-second span?

In the second incident, a Jack Russell Terrier let himself outside when he saw my dogs. Jack Russells are extremely intelligent… and devious. Although the owner knew how smart her dog was, the act of him opening the door like that took her completely by surprise. The Jack went mostly after Pierson and it was an ugly fight. But Pierson has thick fur and he defended himself, so he was fine.

The other dog owner and I struggled to get everyone separated. It wasn’t easy. Jacks are fast and agile. Pierson would not back down but I managed to grab him and get him away. When I did, the Jack went after Maya. Maya didn’t fight back. Her skin is thick around her neck, but the little dog got her around the leg and tore off a quarter-sized patch of skin.

My Dog Maya and Pet First Aid Kit

I used the pet first aid kit from Kurgo for the first time when Maya was injured by another dog.

The owner was extremely apologetic and took full responsibility. She helped me tend Maya’s wounds and took care of her medical needs. The injury on Maya’s leg looked terrible. But no arteries were hit. There was very little bleeding. Her hair will probably never grow back in that spot.

Maya limped badly for the rest of the day. But by the following morning, she was back to her chipper self. She wore a cone for a while, took some antibiotics, and had some nice pain relieving ointment. Her wound is now healed nicely, although scarred.

I know my Pierson is dog aggressive. And as such, I am very careful with him. But stuff can still happen. I can see the possibility of Pierson getting out or getting away unexpectedly and going after another dog. It has actually happened once while on a walk. He jerked the leash right out of my hand. We were very fortunate in that I got a hold of him before he could do anything to the other dog.

If Pierson had done what these dogs did to my Maya, would that make me an irresponsible dog owner? Would it label Pierson as a vicious dog? If it had been Pierson who had done these things, how would I have wanted the other parties to react? Angrily? Accusingly? With hostility?

Let’s face it, sometimes dogs do doggy things. It could be easy to judge these other dog owners and their dogs. And I think sometimes we tend to do just that, especially when we are the victims. But it is important to look at the entire situation. We are not perfect. Our dogs, angels though they might be most of the time, are not perfect either.

This article is not to say that being responsible doesn’t matter because stuff is going to happen anyway. Always be responsible with your pets. Never be careless. Because that one moment when you’re not is when stuff will happen to you and your dog too.

Maya Under My Desk

Maya loves to lay under my desk when I’m working. If you look at her front left leg, you can see her injury.

Wordy Wordless Wednesday – Celebrating 41 Years with Dogs

July 30, 2014

Did I say ‘wordless’? Okay, so it’s not completely wordless. Today is my 41st birthday. I do not dread this day (nor did I dread the big four-o day). These are the happiest times in my life. There have been a lot of bumps in my early years, but one great thing has been constant for all 41 of them and that is dogs. Let me share them with you.

I showed you a photo of this dog last week. Wendy wasn’t just special to my mom, she was special to me because she was the first dog I was ever exposed to.

Spaniel Mix Wendy

My mom was worried about how Wendy would react to me as a newborn baby. Luckily, Wendy adored me and she was very protective of me. She would sleep under my crib and she’d watch me carefully whenever anyone held me.

I showed you this photo last week too. While I was growing up, my mom had a number of dogs, but Cassie was the first dog that was considered my dog.

Cassie - Shetland Sheepdog

When my mom took Cassie in, I was just 10 years old. Cassie immediately attached herself to me and would only sleep with me in my room, even when it was my sister’s turn to have her.

After I moved out of my parent’s house I, of course, took Cassie with me. Cassie was getting older and I thought a new puppy would liven things up a bit. Cassie wasn’t as thrilled about Smokey as I was, but they did play from time to time and Smokey did put a bit of a spring into her step.

Me and My Dog Smokey at Georgetown Lake

My dog Smokey was my hiking buddy. We spent three days roughing it as we hiked around Georgetown Lake in Texas.

My Border Collie / Shepherd Dog Smokey

Here’s a better photo of my dog Smokey, also taken at Georgetown Lake.

More of My Dog Smokey

Smokey and I did a lot of outdoor things together. Swimming was one of his favorites.

After a year or so of getting Smokey, I started working for the animal shelter in Austin, Texas. Since then I adopted and fostered a number of dogs (and cats). I don’t talk about them as much as the others because I had to leave them with my ex after we got divorced. The divorce ended badly so I do not know what became of them. I can only hope he cared for them or gave them to good homes.

Beagle Mix Huckleberry Hound

Huckleberry Hound was rescued from the back of a Uhaul truck with 50 other dogs. The dogs were all sick with Parvo. Huckleberry was the only one that pulled through. He lived at the shelter for three months before I decided to take him home. Huck lived with me for four years before he got out of the fence one day and was struck and killed by a car. :(

My Dogs and Cat Huckleberry Grady Scrapper

Huck with Scrapper and Grady. Scrapper is the cat and he loved to walk on a leash outside. Grady was my dad and stepmom’s dog. They gave up Grady because they couldn’t train him. They do not have the dog-sense that my mom has.

Cats CleoPatra Scrapper Dillan

Patra (short for Cleopatra) is the tortoiseshell cat and is the first cat I rescued from the animal shelter. She was a stray and was in rabies observation for a week for scratching a child. She was going to be euthenized but I didn’t let it happen. I don’t remember how I got Scrapper, the white with gray kitty. And Dillan, the all gray kitten, was rescued from the jaws of a Doberman named Dillan.

Golden Retriever Molly McButter

I fostered Molly for a few weeks, during which time she earned the nickname of Molly McButter.

Foster Pups Skittles Max Puddles

From left to top then bottom right: Skittles, Max, and Puddles. These were foster pups I had for a few weeks.

My Black and White Cat Spider

I honestly don’t remember how I got Spider (so named because he often climbed the curtains and walls). He is one of the ones I was forced to leave behind when I got divorced.

Dogs Becky Anne and Sheba

Becky Anne, the G. Shepherd-colored Whippet mix, was going to be put to sleep because she wasn’t cute enough. Yes, it’s true. The man in charge of the shelter I worked at decided he didn’t like me and immediately ordered the dog to be put to sleep when he found out I took interest in her. Sheba is the Rottweiler mixed that was abandoned in front of my house. I guess her owners decided that since I already had five dogs, I wouldn’t notice the sixth! I had Sheba for two years before she got out with Huckleberry and was never heard from again, even though she was wearing her tags. :(

My Chow / Shepherd Mix Achilles

Achilles came from a box of pups that someone was giving away in front of Walmart. I had him for almost three years before he escaped from the yard and was never seen again. He had tags, but I lived in the country so anything could have happened. :(

If you’ve been following this blog, then you remember this dog. Like my dog Achilles, Sephi was named from Greek mythology (short for Persephone). My ex gave Sephi to me because he felt guilty for cheating on me. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time. Sephi was the only dog I was able to keep from the divorce. I couldn’t keep the others because I wasn’t working and so my ex got to keep our house.

My Chow Shepherd Mix Dog Sephi

Sephi was my sole companion for many hears after my divorce. She passed away at the age of 11 in November 2011.

My two current best buds are Maya and Pierson.

My Dogs Maya and Pierson Having a Ball in the Fall

Maya was adopted by a family with two toddlers and an infant. After one week, they posted her on Craigslist and I was the lucky responder. Pierson was rescued from Pierson Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

That’s all the words I have on this very special Wordy Wordless Wednesday. For more doggy fun, check out the blog hop link below.

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A Few Words About Drawing Rocky for Wordless Wednesday

July 16, 2014

Just before my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer, her dog Rocky passed away in his sleep. My mom really loved Rocky and wanted to have him memorialized with art. And not just art from anyone. She wanted me to draw him. :)

Portrait of Rocky the Dog

It really helps me to draw a dog if I have a great photo, and my mom had the perfect one of Rocky.

Third Sketch of Rocky the Dog

It took a few sketches to get the proportions of Rocky right.

Drawing Rocky the Dog Step 1

I traced the sketch onto acid free pastel paper. As always, the first color I added was to the eyes and nose using pastel pencils.

Drawing Rocky the Dog Step 2

The next part was coloring Rocky’s open mouth. This was actually far more difficult that I first thought it would be.

Drawing Rocky the Dog Step 3

Drawing Rocky the Dog Step 4

Drawing Rocky the Dog Step 5

I’m almost done!

Drawing of Rocky the Dog - Pastel

The final touches were adding Rocky’s whiskers (which is something I almost always forget) and adding texture to his long neck fur. This photo is actually a little dark compared to the original. Imagine the fur as white as in the previous image.

I was lucky enough to be able to complete this drawing while my mom was visiting me (which was just before I moved to Iowa). She was able to watch me draw and got to see me finish it. And I am proud to say that she absolutely loved it!

For more great pet photos, check out the Wordless Wednesday blog hop link below:

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