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.

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