A blog about my life with dogs.......

Friday, January 27, 2012

UPS and downs....

Bugsy, during a hike with Comet and I.

UPS or the U- P- S (United Parcel Service) as most of us call them are those wonderful folks in the brown uniform and big brown truck that bring us those packages we, the people of the house, are eagerly awaiting. But to our dogs, the UPS, FEDex, meter readers and more are SPACE INVADERS. Invaders that come to our homes, bang on our houses, rattle noises trucks, walk the borders of our fences, invader our territory and often leave something behind. Oh the evil!
Any time I have had a foster dog and a package delivered at the same time (if appropriate for the individual dog) I have taken the dog out with me to get the package and asked the driver to please give my dog a treat or drop a treat on the ground for my dog. Most delivery drivers are happy to do this, many even carry their own treats. Can you imagine being a UPS driver and having all the dogs in your delivery area going ga-ga any time you come by?????

Why all this fuss about the UPS? I've got 2 big hairy reasons .....
Comet and Bugsy.
Comet is a Great Pyrenees mix, and he definitely has the traits of the GP being that he enjoys to guard the territory, and alert and warning bark when our territory is being invaded. He is also a wanderer. This week, Comet and I were playing fetch off leash in our unfenced backyard, something we have been doing regularly for at least a year or more, but this time a UPS truck rattled down the road at the same time as he was starting to loose interest in the game. He took off with gusto. He ran down the icy January road after the UPS truck and was out of sight before I could run out of our own yard. I jogged through deep snow until I was out of breath then tried to manage my footing on the icy road all the while happily calling out his name and making some clicky, kissy noises "COOOMMMMEEETTTT! Comie-boy! Come 'on pup pup! tsk tsk tk" He was no where in sight. I pulled the hat from my head so I could hear better, but I couldn't hear the rattle of the UPS truck. As I walked on I guessed which way the truck might have gone, and what the driver might do if Comet caught up to him at a delivery stop. "COOOOMMMMMEEETTT! COMET, COME!" I imagined the worst. It was only a few minutes until I saw Comet running full speed around the hard turn in the road I was on, running back towards me. Oh the things you can imagine when your dog has disappeared running down an icy road. (running, by the way, in the direction of a farm with sheep and cattle!) Oh the bullets we dodged that day! Comet came running back excited and happy as could be, I knelt down and held out a treat in my hand as he galloped towards me. I gently grabbed onto his collar and said in the most pleasant, happy voice I could muster "Good boy, good boy for coming back to me after you chased a truck down and icy road like a real dummy. You could have been killed, you handsome stubborn dog you." I walked him home holding his collar in my  hand and continued with the happy voice "You are loosing your off leash privileges mister! You naughty stinker!" I stopped insulting my dog in a happy praising voice because I was out of breath from running. It was then I realized that some of my neighbors were out in their respective yards and had obviously seen me running and calling my dog as I ran through their ditches after my dog who was chasing the UPS truck. ~ Oh well.

When we got home, I swear, Comet couldn't wipe the smile off his face. He just laid on the landing near the door with a big open mouth and his tongue hanging out and a look of satisfaction on his face. I like to see my dogs happy, but this is an awful turn of events. Chasing that truck was clearly VERY rewarding for Comet thus increasing the likely hood that he will repeat this behavior if given the chance.

If Comet is in the yard and the UPS truck comes by he will jump and leap and bark and jump against the fence with absolutely no response to any verbal commands from me. If Bugsy is in the yard with him the two of them will likely run into each other in their frantic display and on at least one occasion this resulted in a short lived fight between the two of them.

Bugsy will, upon seeing the UPS truck from inside our fenced yard, bark and leap into the air furiously. Usually after a few furious barks he will run inside if I've called him, but he MUST get those furious barks out.  If the two of them are in the yard and the truck comes I will call Bugsy into the house, and walk out into the yard to calmly collect Comet and bring him inside. I have the front door window covered, most packages are left outside that door. The front door, has a glass window which the dogs could see and would leap at when the UPS walked up to knock on the door. Being that I can't always be at home when a package is delivered, reducing the visual stimulation and the stress that it causes them has given us some relief from the extreme response they have to the UPS and FEDex.
Harry, after finishing off a lamb breast bone in the living room. This old blanket keeps clean up easy.

It is must seem reasonable to a dog, this feverish response to a 'space invader', an invader of our home territory who does not bother to let us smell him, who drives by regularly with a loud rattling truck, an invader who bangs on our home! The last package that was delivered to us came unfortunately while Bugsy and Comet were in the yard on a muddy day. I struggled to get my boots on and quickly threw on my coat as I called Bugsy into the house. I walked out to Comet who was jumping at the fence and barking loudly as the UPS truck pulled up right next to our fence. I got hold of Comets collar and pulled a treat from my pocket in the hope of diverting his attention, waved the treat in front of his nose with no response. We walked towards the house and the driver suddenly jumped from the truck with a very large box in his hands and ran to the fence and dropped the package over the fence at me.(silly me, ASSumed that he would leave it at the front door) Comet went wild. Not only was the space invader here he was assaulting us with weird objects from the sky! Clearly, evil!

So, my advice to all of us with dogs who see evil in the UPS...... When you bring your new dog home start right away with conditioning your dog to LOVE space invaders, especially of the UPS persuasion. By starting early, you will be less likely to have to manage the situation I am describing or do the difficult work of retraining your dog to not engage in naughty behaviors like these after they have become a habit. If your dog is reactive blocking the sight of this activity can help your dog not be overcome with the stress of an approaching invader. Offering your dog a tasty treat, bone to chew or fun game in response to the visit of any space invader can help condition your dog to think that space invaders are great(because their arrival means cheese or fetch or tug of war! Whoopie!).

Also, remember that you and your dog see things differently. For example, I knew that Bugsy was reactive to UPS when they came to our home. But I was caught off guard when, about a year ago, Bugsy and I were sitting outside our favorite coffee shop enjoying sunshine and coffee when Bugsy suddenly leaped into the face of an approaching man, making it very clear that this man was coming much to close for comfort. Bugsy had been sitting next to me in the narrow area between the coffee shop entrance and the sidewalk. I hadn't noticed a delivery driver (who was not UPS, but was driving a rattling truck and wearing a uniform) drive up, park and approach us with a package. The man walked very close to us, cornering Bugsy between the concrete table I was sitting at  the wall of the coffee shop and him and his package. Bugsy leaped into the air with a loud bark at the last possible moment. Poor Bugsy, he was clearly surprised and frightened and likely saw this man as one of the evil space invaders who is repeatedly approaching our home. Bugsy retreated immediately and so did the delivery man. I was stuttering apologies in my surprise at my dog, but it only took me a minute to think out what had happened. Now, I am prepared for the next time we are approached by a man and his package.

In sad local news 88 dogs have been found at an Iowa farm. Over 90 animals including 5 dead puppies were seized in what authorities believe is a puppy mill breeding operation. If you need a reason not to buy a puppy from a pet store here it is.<--- a link to the local news story about these rescued dogs.

In other news, Westminster is debuting 6 new dog breeds into the lineup this year. As you know if you read the blog, I am more of a rescue dog person, than a show girl. That said, I do enjoy seeing all the different breeds and learning about new breeds I am not familiar with. And if asked, I would jump at the chance to encourage the AKC to take more and more steps to influence breeding dogs for health not just the looks that are en vogue in the show world.

Ms. Matilda is doing great!
She is now officially transitioned from the dry dog food she was eating before she came to us to the raw food diet the boys have been eating for years. She has consumed many new foods including whole raw chicken necks, rabbits feet with fur, ground beef, ground turkey necks, salmon, and lamb breast chunks. She is eating with gusto. She has also had steamed spinach, pureed pumpkin, raw egg, and dried or fresh fruits like strawberry, banana, raspberry and pineapple. Pineapple is something I've never fed before, but I read somewhere that it makes an animals poo taste fowl and unfortunately Matilda has a habit it nibbling her poo. This is a nasty habit we would like eradicate. Pineapple in her diet is the first thing we are trying. So far, she is still closely investigating her poo, but we are not allowing her to eat it anyway so its hard to say if pineapple is helping or not. This could be a puppy thing, or possibly the result of not getting enough nutrition to grow properly from her previous food. It could also simply have been a snack when left bored or hungry in a kennel with her poo for too long in her previous home and thus this habit developed. Whatever the reason, we are working on it.

Continued updates on Matilda, info on the boys and their interactions with her and more soon!

Matilda climbing into my lap. Quimby cat in the background.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A week of ignoring her, now this!

After a week of ignoring her Comet finally decided to give in and play with Matilda. Bugsy is still steadfastly ignoring her. But in an action I'm not sure the meaning of, this morning Matilda was running around like a little bullet and came quickly up to Quimby, my big black and white cat, and began to bark and play bow at him. Quimby stood his ground and began to go all puffy when Bugsy walked in between them, calming Quimby down and shielding Matilda from Quimby's claws.

Here is Comet and Matilda at play ......

Monday, January 23, 2012

Puppy Proof!

     We did a lot to prepare for this puppy. Can you imagine? Adding a puppy to a three dog, 2 cat household! If your reading this blog you probably can! Here are some the things we did to prepare.

     I re-read "The Puppy Primer" and tried to get Craig to read it too. He kept saying he would get to it, until finally we had found our girl, the date to bring her home was set and I found myself reading the important parts aloud to him while he ate. What can I say, I was determined for us to be on the same page.
     An appropriately sized metal crate with adjustable sizing panel and double doors. I am feeling very good about this crate, especially since when I added the link to this post I noticed the price had gone up significantly. bah ha ha ha ha! I love it when I get a good deal! The one I bought is 24x18. I paid round about 40bucks for it and it works great.
     A crate pad. This pad is so cute. The outer shell is cloth in a rainbow paw print pattern and is covering a wet resistant layer that encases the foam pad. It's darn cute, but not at all puppy proof. The seam of the cloth cover began ripping apart on day 1 and has continued to fall apart. Matilda then managed to unzip the second layer and begin chewing the foam. Fun for her, clean up for me.

     Mess mats. I love these. These mats happen to fit perfectly into her crate and are easily washable and look just great. I feed her in her crate for now, so I lay one out and give her a big ole meaty bone to gnaw on. She makes a mess all over, but when she's done I just pick up the mat and toss it in the laundry. This makes indoor raw feeding super easy.

     I had the winning bid on a dog package at a silent auction to benefit the local animal shelter (remember the rubber chicken?) a baby gate was one of the items in the package. This has been so useful. I use it to 'quarantine' her into a room that I am in so I can keep an eye on her (a potty training must), I use it to separate her from the boys if I think she is beginning to annoy them, and today I used it to keep the boys in another room while she tirelessly attempted to finish her bone in her crate. The gate has also been helpful to keep distance between Matilda and the cats, Quimby and Purr-C. The cats can easily jump over the gate and escape from Matilda if they need to. The model I am using is from Theisens but is not on the website. It works well, but is a bit tricky to adjust its sizing.
Purr-C jumps the gate

     We've also set up an X-pen (something like this one). It's a hand-me-down from a friend. I have it in the basement so when I go do laundry I can put her in it. This way I know where she is, and I know she's not making snacks out of what the cats put in the litter box! A big no thank you to kitty litter kisses. I laid an old blanket on the ground covering the floor of the x-pen so if she had an accident in the x-pen while i wasn't looking I could just pick up the blanket and take it to the wash..
     Natures Miracle has been a helping hand. Because accidents do happen even when you are diligent.

     A Cat bell  attached to her collar has been a great tool in keeping track of this little wiggle worm. If she is out of sight, I just follow the jingle. This also keeps her from being able to sneak up on the cats.

     Of course we got her a lupine collar, leash and harness(no surprise there). This I am thankful for because they are lifetime guaranteed even if chewed, and she is chewing them whenever she gets the chance. Another tool in the anti-chewing tool kit, bitter apple spray. I sprayed it on any electrical cords I thought she might be able to get at and on anything she showed interest in chewing that she shouldn't, like the drawer pulls on the bathroom drawer.

     I also tried something new which I can honestly say may have worked great, or may not have worked at all. I can't say for sure. The D.A.P. diffuser and Feliway diffuser . I set up the Feliway diffuser in the kitchen near where Matilda's crate would be during the day and plugged in the D.A.P. diffuser in the bedroom near where her crate would be placed at night. Matilda has quietly slept well her in crate every night and the cats, though larger than her and not generally fond of new dogs have not attacked her or done anything rash whatsoever.
     It should be said that before she was with us Matilda slept in a crate at night, and that we did our best to put her to sleep in her crate when she was tired and so were Craig and I and the dog boys as well. We took her out to potty just before bed and we ignored any whimpering that might have gone on momentarily so as not to reinforce it.
     We kept the cats in a separate room for the first 2 days Matilda was here. We let the cats out to smell her crate and toys when she was in another room. We have provided safe areas and escape routes for the cats when they are in the same room as her(cat trees, window perch, baby gate), and under no circumstance has Matilda been aloud to chase the cats.
     So is it all the work put in to setting all this up? Or is it the pheromone diffusers? Or is it both?
I have to say I was surprised when Purr-C climbed onto my lap for a nap while Matilda was also napping on my lap.  Maybe it's the experience Purr-C now has under his belt, meeting many new animals and becoming more comfortable with change and feeling safe because he has an escape route.   ?

     When Matilda arrived we made sure the boys had been properly exercised that day and under no stress. We introduced them in a calm environment with rewards. In this case we put Matilda in her crate and then let Bugsy come into the room. Bugsy is the least likely to make a huff, bark or pee. He is the most likely to respond to treats and to ignore a puppy and so the least likely to scare Matilda. When Bugsy saw Matilda, he got a treat. Then every time he looked at her over the course of about 5 minutes he got a treat and praise. Matilda also was offered treats while she calmly stood in the crate. This went so well that I opened her crate door after a few minutes. Matilda went to the nearest lap she could find and ignored Bugsy completely. Bugsy was almost in my lap dutifully looking at Matilda then drooling for his treat and otherwise ignoring her. After a few minutes I let Bugsy outside to sniff the yard and pee. Then a break for Matilda and then the same routine with Comet, then Harry. Each introduction went about the same with the boys mostly ignoring Matilda and Matilda showing more interest in the people then the big dogs. This was all perfectly acceptable. Was it the calming effect of the diffusers???? Or the positive reinforcement? Each dogs individual personality?

     The boys are all used to introductions with new dogs, and have met many on the home turf like this. Had it been a lovely warm sunny day I might have chosen to introduce them individually off turf on a walk in a park somewhere, but it was not a lovely day and I am comfortable that this routine works for my dogs. So I am pleased it all went well. Since I can't say for sure the diffusers helped I'll just give myself the credit, how about that?  :)

So you see, a lot has been done to prepare for this new arrival.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Drumroll Please!

Big News!
Okay, about 10lbs of news is more like it.

Meet Matilda! 

Matilda is a 5 month old Boston Terrier full of snores, snorts and wiggles. We welcomed her into our home a week ago and our hearts are all the more full for it.  Months ago we began our search for the perfect addition and let me say we have learned a lot. From reading books about the breed to phone calls, applications, interviews and emails to rescues, shelters, breeders and owners.This has been a journey and we are pleased with the outcome. Little Matilda is adjusting just fine, her new hobbies include chewing, napping, snuggling, snorting, tug of war and watching TV. Yes, last night cuddled on the couch with us she sat up and watched the TV. I've never seen a dog watch so intently.

Another thing about Matilda, she is NOT fond of the snow. Most of this Iowa winter has been mild, nearly reaching 60 degrees in early January.  Now, the week Matilda settles in with us, we have been ushered into the Iowa January norm. The snow is falling now and piling above little Matildas head. Comet and Bugsy are thrilled at the weather and they look at Matilda prancing toward the door to inside and I very anthropomorphically imagine them thinking she is a real wimp.
Matilda is asleep on my lap as I type all this. She is snoring.  :)
Here is Matilda with her first raw bone.
 As you might imagine the whole freezing weather and snow thing is really putting a damper on potty training. Boston Terriers are not the hearty cold weather tolerant dogs my boys, Bugsy Harry and Comet are. I am now doing things I would 'poo poo' other dogs owners for. So, I'll just lay it all out. Matilda has a sweater,.....and a waterproof, fleece lined winter coat. In my defense it is really cold and maybe the boys are right, maybe she is just a bit wimpy. But soooooo cute!

Bugsy and Comet are loving the weather. Craig shoveled the snow from the driveway into a pile in the yard and Comet dug and rolled in it over and over. Nothing beats the pure joy of a snow loving dog after the first big snow.  Here's a few shots of the boys out enjoying the snow, unforuntaly the "pure joy" will have to remain in my memory because those photos came out all blurry due to Comets erratic and fast movements.

Harry is none to thrilled with the return of winter. He prefers the couch to the snow drifts.

Here is Craigs photo of Matilda
More info soon to come about Matilda and how we are tackling potty training,what we have done to puppy proof the house as well as how we are setting all the animals up for the best possible likelihood of enjoying each others company.

Here is a video of a dog meeting cows. This was sent to me from a Facebook friend and I just had to pass it on. :)


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In pursuit of car safety

     This months issue of National Geographic features the article The Cold Patrol about the worlds only military dog sled team. The photos are amazing. The cold looks tremendous, and the dogs, fearless. In most shots the dogs look very happy. A photo of a man outside in a winter storm hugging one of the many dogs, each chained to a small outside 'dog house' and each dog just out of reach of another, sends chills though my spine. I look over at my dogs, asleep on the sofa and I'm hard pressed to think these pack animals would be happy tied to a dog house on the frozen tundra. Again I am reminded each dog is an individual and as National Geographic shows us, these dogs appear as happy and satisfied in a snow storm as Harry does on my couch. Oh, dogs, you are amazing creatures.

     Here's the new set up for the boys while riding in the car. The car seat cover was a Christmas gift from mom and can be ordered from Duluth Trading company. It is sturdy and has zippers to pull the buckles through if need be. The boys are each wearing their lupine harness and the harness is clipped to a strap that has a buckle which simply buckles into the regular seat belt buckle in the car. Comet is not pleased with this situation. He is great in the car, and always lays quietly waiting to arrive at where ever we are going. I imagine him wondering what on earth all this extra fuss is about. However annoyed, Comet still rides quietly and politely in the car as usual.

Bugsy on the other hand seems to be happier and calmer in the car while restrained. Before being restrained he was constantly pacing as if on over drive. He would sometimes hop between seats, sniff different windows and stand on that spot between the driver and passenger seat like he just had to have the perfect view of straight ahead. Bugsy still whines when he gets excited in the car but I am easily adjusting to the extra calm.

Bark magazine is hot on the heels of safety with an article in their latest issue about car riding canines. Also the latest cover dog is ADORABLE! My guess for this mutt, Corgi/Cattle Dog/German Shepard. Check out the magazine to see what I mean.

Comet at the dog park.

My cat has been chomping on the house plants. In an effort to fulfill his desires I have been attempting to keep some 'pet grass' in the house and adding it to the pets food now and again. I tried the Pet Greens Garden which is super duper easy. You just cut the top of the bag off, put in seeds(included) and add water. The only problem with the grass is how plentiful it is! I have 3 dogs and 2 cats and they can't eat this stuff fast enough. Most of the grass is going to go to waste. This is wheat grass, so I think buying a flat of wheat grass for human consumption so a person could make smoothies with it and share some with the pets would be a better solution for this household.

My kitchen window plants.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A taste of blood

I have never owned a ferret, so I didn't know they are carnivores! This website with information about raw feeding by the author of "Work Wonders" and "Raw Meaty Bones" has a great picture of a ferret digging into a meaty morsel of food as part of the page header. I love it.

Bugsy and Harry enjoying a meal of beef trachea.

The taste of blood.
At a family get together over the weekend I was warned of the dangers of feeding animals raw meat. That it "makes them turn" and "gives them the taste of blood" which will make them fight and attack livestock and other animals. If you are a raw feeder you know these myths are out there. The people who believe them may do so with the best of intentions but are never the less wrong. This myth is one of the reasons for the blog. All my boys have been eating raw for years, and Comet was raised on raw. I promise, I'll let you know if Comet takes down any cattle, or sheep. And if I suddenly stop writing this blog, do check your local papers for a story about me being eaten alive by my dogs. But if I do keep going and my dogs keep doing well with shiny coats, healthy teeth and gums please do consider it evidence against the taste of blood myth.

Speaking of myths "Beyond the Myth" is a movie about breed specific legislation, and the myth that all pit-bulls are dangerous fighting dogs.  Here is a link to the Beyond the Myth website, check out the movie trailer and screening locations.

In other dog related adventures this week,....
      .....While driving home I spotted a golden retriever having a sniff in the ditch very near a busy road where drivers are going 55mph. I slowed my car and looked around for his people. When I didn't see anybody I pulled over and waited for the traffic to subside, holding my breath that the dog wouldn't run over to greet me in the way of an oncoming car. I stood at the side of the road my arm pointed at the dog so if a driver came by he wouldn't just focus on why the heck this crazy lady was standing by the road, but following the lead of my pointed hand might see the dog and avoid hitting it. After the traffic subsided the dog crossed the street to me and approached cautiously, then laid on the ground. I petted him beneath his neck after letting him sniff me. No tags! I gently took hold of this collar, praised him for being a good boy and led him to my car thinking "oh great, now I've got to bring him into animal control when he probably lives here in this neighborhood! No tags! Humpf!"  Luckily for both the dog and I a big suburban drove up and a man in a sweater and slacks came out with a leash and an apologetic face. " I just had surgery" he said. "I can't lift him into the car." I walked the dog by his leash and encouraged him into the vehicle. The golden jumped right in! Good boy!

Harry enjoying a snooze on a freshly made bed. People bed that is! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Always learning

Wow. Why haven't I read this book before? Somehow I missed it until now. This is a great book for those of you beginning or considering the raw food adventure with your pets. Work Wonders by Tom Lonsdale will soon be added to the reading list at the bottom of the blog page.

In other news, ground ostrich is a new meat arriving in the bowl of my boys this week. The cats L-O-V-E it, the dogs,...well, are less than enthusiastic. In all my time with Bugsy I have NEVER seen him nibble a meal. Bugsy is a gulper, he eats so fast it is scary. Feeding him big chunks of meat helps slow him down. Anything small is in him quicker than can you say woof. But, when I fed him a meal of predominately ground ostrich this morning, he ever so delicately licked out the pieces of carrot and banana from the bowl, then looked around at the other dogs eating. Granted, the other two were eating slowly as well. For a second I thought I had fed them rotten meat without realizing it. No, No, I did not feed them something spoiled.I checked. I think the only thing spoiled rotten in the kitchen this morning was the dogs! hardy har har. In the end they ate the ostrich, but I think I will save it for the cats in the future.

Neato slide show of Boston Terriers from 1870-1970