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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Street dogs film and the foot bath battle

A film to watch for....Street Dogs of South Central.

     Captain has made some strides in raw eating this week. He chewed on a lamb bone in the yard, and he ate salmon which was served in a 5 inch long chunk! The salmon he first knocked around, and then ate some but didn't finish it all. After 20 minutes in his crate with the salmon I took it away and fed it to Comet. The next meal was also salmon and this time he gobbled it up! The lamb bone he jumped at the chance to get into his mouth, but then wasn't sure what to do with it. He held it for a minute, then dropped it. Then walked around to see what the other dogs were doing with their bones. Below is a picture of him watching Bugsy chew on his bone. Can you just see the thought bubble above his head....
"So that is how this is done. I see."
Captain looks over at Bugsy chewing on his bone. I have a theory that he is learning by Bugsy and Comets example.
Captain gives the bone a try as Bugsy chews away on his lamb 'trotter'
'Tilda update!
I hear Ms. Matilda was recently spayed and is currently wearing the "cone of shame".
Geez! She sure is cute, isn't' she?
     Captain and I took a walk around the block just the two of us, and half way around he laid down. I coaxed and coaxed but he was done. So I carried (yes, yes I carried my dog. This is a new Jeni/dog relationship!) Captain the half block home. Naturally some neighbors slowed there truck while passing by to yell "Now, that does NOT count as walking the dog!". All in good fun. We both had a laugh and I certainly hope neither of their two dogs ever decide to quit while walking with them as these particular neighbors have a very large German Shepard Dog and a Great Dane.

     Peke N Chin told me that Captain had a reputation for being a bit of a wonderer. So until this week I hadn't attempted to do things off leash outdoors whatsoever . However, this week, after much time with him on leash and him never showing particular interest in leaving my side, I have begun to do off leash work with him. First I (with treats in hand) let him walk with me from the front door to the cars  few times. Success! Then I walked out to the back yard (which is not entirely fenced) with Captain. He learned quickly that staying right next to me and looking up at me got him bits of roasted chicken. He never so much as peed on a bush he was so focused on me! We have done this 4 times now, once with me pulling some weeds between treats, and twice with Comet along with us on leash. Each time his focus stayed with me. I'm one proud pekingese person. They, pekingese, are notoriously difficult to train, says the literature.

     "What made you go from big dogs to little dogs?" One neighbor asked me. Oh, I've got all sorts of reasons, such as: this particular dog was just the perfect fit for me(and Bugsy, Comet, Quimby and Purr-C too). Captain eats a whole lot less than Comet, so I could argue for cost effectiveness. I have two high drive, high energy dogs who, being herding dogs, like to bark....and although I was very tempted to adopt an Aussie, Sheltie, Border Collie, English Shepard ( I could go on) it did not seem wise to push the pack further into a reactive bark at anything that moves, high drive, high energy, flurry of flying fur. Now if I lived on a farm and had sheep to herd this would be a different story, but I live in a sort of rural, country-suburb hybrid. I do not have sheep but I do have neighbors.

     I also considered hunting breeds, maybe a bird dog. Oh English Setters, you are so handsome a breed of dog!. The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon has also long been on my list of dogs I simply must have in my lifetime. But as much as I yearn for my Aussie to herd, I would yearn for my Setter or Griffon to hunt and until I learn to shoot a gun and hunt something, maybe those dog breeds would be putting the cart before the horse? Future hunter or not, these breeds have plenty of energy and I'm not sure I'm ready to add that much size AND  'spirit' to the pack at this time.

   You have read the many goings on of this dreaming blogger and all the breeds I fancy. When I was on my search for the right dog for me I kept an open mind big dog, medium dog, small dog it didn't really matter. What I missed when Harry passed was that clam center asleep on the couch. A dog who might bark and become aroused at this or that, but not at everything. A dog who might be lazy enough to enjoy being by my side outside even if I was not moving. Captain has all the qualities I searched for. Captain is no Harry, but I did not look to replace him! No dog ever could! Still Captain has filled an open spot on the couch and a lazy piece of my heart. I love him more every dog gone day. <3

     Comet has dealt with me putting drops in his ears, and on his paw twice daily for a week now. Poor guy, when he sees the medicine dropper he walks quickly away and plops in a pile on the floor. The first vinegar/water foot bath went terribly. I should have known to positively reinforce him through-out the steps instead of putting the pot of water and vinegar on the floor and then bringing him to it. He pulled away and fought me. Me stubbornly trying to get him to hold still and Comet probably thinking something like "what the $*#%!".  Poor guy, what the heck was I thinking? Man handling him into a foot bath like I don't know how to handle dogs? Day 2 I brought out the roasted chicken, placed the footbath on a towel and put the other animals out of the area. It took a minute or two for him to come near the "evil pot of doom foot bath", but once he realized it was me, his loving, chicken treating person and not the evil footbath forcer he came over and reluctantly let me handle his foot, chicken, place his foot in the footbath, chicken, chicken chicken, then I petted him and waited a few seconds, chicken, petting, waiting, chicken, "goodboy" petting,waiting, chicken, and on and on for a few minutes as his foot soaked. The rest of the weeks baths went easily and with some but less chicken. The last bath putting Bugsy and Captain outside backfired because the neighbors were playing a rousing game of fetch and Bugsy could not contain himself. I brought the two of them in and Comet stayed in position, chicken, Bugsy "down" chicken, Captain "cabin" (cabin is code for crate) chicken, and so it went the entire footbath. Oh what fun! I'm glad it's done. :)

Oh! I keep forgetting! Captains previous people, his loving foster home, have a face book page for him and  are still keeping it up(at least so far.)Check it out and Feel free to friend him! Lisa, Captains foster mom, clearing has skillz with the pics! To avoid confusion I will share the knowledge that before he was with me Captain went by the name Ben. I still find myself calling him Captain Ben now and then, but honestly more often than not, I call him "Cappy"

Monday, March 26, 2012


     I saw this youtube video and found it very interesting. For one, ouch! It looks like this greeting was a little uncomfortable for the woman involved! These are, as you can see, wolves, not dogs. These are wolves in a zoo and are displaying tail wagging, face licking behavior upon the return of a human they have bonded with. In the background towards the end of the clip some of the wolves are displaying behavior of aggression/dominating or submitting/appeasing to each other. It gets me thinking about groups of wolves......

     Often wolves in zoos are not a natural pack, or family group, like what would be found in the wild. Zoo wolves are often individual wolves grouped together that are not family. It is thought that aggressing between group members, creating a constant struggle for power between each other  is caused, in theory, by this false group dynamic as well as the stress of zoo life. As some of you know, this behavior of one wolf  standing aggressively over another wolf, is what the whole dominance training "hold your dog down and force them to submit" mumbo jumbo is based upon. The constant, aggressive combat for power displayed in captive wolves is now thought to not be a natural behavior displayed by wolves (and then thought, to be passed down as a natural behavior for our dogs, hence the dominance theory based "alpha roll"). It has become popular belief that this wolf behavior, of  group members being aggressively ladder climbing/power hungry, is not natural at all, but a struggle created by humans when we pushed non family groups to live together as packs in zoos.
     This following documentary segment shows an established wolf pack, known as "The Druids" (which by the way, was formed initially by humans who picked wolves from Canada, attached tracking device collars to them and then released them in Yellowstone National Park). At one point the commentator notes that the pack has "a constantly shifting power struggle". But, if you watch the whole Wild Wolf 1,2,3, 4and 5(available on YoutTube) you will notice that once established the male and female rein for years. The commentators even take notice of the alpha male and females age, and their graying fur. Certainly the younger, more spry wolves could challenge them, kill them and take over, but they do not. Instead, as shown in this segment the younger wolves willingly submit to the elders. These wolves follow a family order, respecting the groups leaders. Wild wolves kill prey and aggressively defend territory from other packs, the pack functions as a family group amazingly well. Without team work, this group would not succeed in as many ways as they have. For certain, functioning in a pack is advantageous for the group members.

     Our dogs, they are not wolves. But isn't it amazing how their body language is so much the same! I find both creatures to be absolutely fascinating. Please, don't go thinking adding a wolf, or wolf dog hybrid is the next step on your big adventure(if you fancy any such ideas you must have missed the post where I recomend you read "Part Wild"). Like the wolf, your dog has found it advantageous to function in a pack. Your dogs pack may consist of mostly humans, a few other dogs, or a mix of both, but one thing is for certain:
Being a leader worth following is one of the best things you can do for your dog.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


     Science and dog lovers are going to want to add The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum to your list of places to visit.  All the way in London the museum is a LONG way from home for me.  Someday....someday. The visit is a big lure because of the amazing exhibit featuring 837 preserved animal species including 80 domestic dogs. This article, about the origins of the Pekingese, has some enlightening photos taken at the museum of the domestic dog display.

     Not going to make it to London (dream big!)? Check out this fun and factual dog blog "Dog Spies". You are going to love the first photo in her latest blog post "H*mping" which is a great snap of a dog humping a cats head.

A picture of Frida, the super amazing rock climbing dog.
OH! Have you heard about the many dogs who have become ill or died because of bad chicken treats? See this story about Wagon Train treats.

This is Captains new favorite meal.
Ground chicken, potatoes, zucchini, kale, tomatoes, sea meal and fish oil. 
 So far Captain is refusing to rip and tear apart large pieces of meat. For example a chicken thigh, or chunk of beef heart he will lift or knock out of his bowl. So we are still adjusting to the new diet. The ripping and tearing that comes with larger pieces of meat is so good for the teeth! Captain has so many little tiny teeth crammed into that little mouth of his. In order to keep Captain and his tiny teeth healthy, hopefully we can graduate him to ripping and shredding soon.

Just look at those pearly whites
Comet saw the vet today, and just in the nick of time. Last night he was keeping me up with his head shaking, a sure sign he has an ear infection. Because he has a history of ear infections, I clean out his ears once a week, but now and again he still gets an infection. Also, Comet has been chewing on one of his paws and it is red and irritated. Turns out it is also a minor infection. So the poor guy has to have special drops in each ear and some in his paw which then has to be wrapped.Also, once a day a vinegar foot bath for his sore paw. Other than that a clean bill of health! The vet gave us a special ear wash which he hopes will be better than our current product and prevent future infections, also Comets meal portions will be increasing since he was lost weight since his last vet visit. What can I say, the dog is all fur!

From the front yard flower garden!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

oh the adventures

      Biggest happy news of the week is that walking all three dogs at the same time is going swimmingly well! Of course I walk the rowdies(Bugsy and Comet) for 40 minutes first, then swing back to the house leash up Captain and off we go for another 15-20 minutes all 4 of us! I think this is helping Bugsy and Captain bond, and it has me on cloud nine with all 3 of my boys prancing along happy as can be.  :)

Can you see the injured camouflage bird?
    Tuesday, Bugsy and I were in the backyard playing fetch when Bugsy found an injured bird on the ground beneath the bird feeder. He tenderly sniffed it and I called him to the house with me to get the camera,....only to realize I had locked us out of the house! It being Tuesday late morning I know the (super duper evil) UPS truck may be coming by. I also knew that climbing over my 6ft chain link fence I could get into the house threw the door that accesses the yard. The gates to the yard are both padlocked. Bugsy has a good stay, and many a time when the ball flew out of our yard during a game of fetch I will put him on a down stay and walk out of his line of sight to get it from a neighbors yard BUT a down stay with the 'threat' of a UPS truck driving by and me, busy climbing a fence unable to quickly call him to me,.....I didn't want to risk it. Sooooo, Bugsy and I both climbed the fence! I found a spot by the fence next to the porch where the drop would be the shortest and hoisted 45 lb Bugsy onto my shoulders. Then balancing him, grabbed his front paw and put it on the top of the fence "Paws up" I said, and onto the fence went his other paw. "Good boy". "Over!" I said and gave him a nudge, over the fence he jumped, with an easy landing he quickly turned to me, big open mouth smile on his face. He looked so proud of himself! I handed him the treats from my pocket through the chain link and then went to find a spot easier for me to climb over. I'm so proud of him. It reminds me how good of a team we can be. This silly conundrum could have easily had me all scratched up, but there is not a scratch on me. Bugsy used the commands I taught him to adapt to this situation.Good boy Bugsy! Good boy!

     Last night I met a friend at an outdoor ice cream parlor and Captain came along. I parked a block from the ice cream parlor (Can you believe this? Visiting an outdoor ice cream parlor in Iowa in March! This is crazy! If you are not familiar with March in Iowa, it is usually snowing ) so we could enjoy a little walk on the way. Captain eagerly sniffed every little thing along the way. Once we arrived at the parlor, Captain stole the show! One woman recognized him as a pekingese and immediately asked to pet him. While in line for ice cream a small child sneaked up behind me and pet Captain while his dad ran over "Hey! You can't go around petting strange dogs!"The dad said to his son. Captain just soaked up the love from the little boy. "Luckily, he is very friendly." I smiled and said to the dad. Then when we settled down to chat (my friend and I) Captain hopped onto a bench and made eyes at an older couple sitting a few feet away. Before you know it the couple was complimenting him, and "Excuse me, but could we please give your dog some ice cream? He's just so sweet. What a good dog."  I declined to let her give him any ice cream, but handed her a dog treat instead. Captain took it from her gently and I'm very sure if I hadn't been watching the woman would have sneaked him some ice cream. Oh Captain, you really have a way with the ladies!

     While we ate ice cream Captain did bark a few times at passing dogs. But was easily distracted by a showing him I had a treat and asking him to "sit" or "watch" then rewarding him.
     I recently received a short video of an old foster dog, Frida (a gorgeous cattle dog who has been pictured in the blog before) rock climbing with her person. Yes, rock climbing. Sometimes, a dog is adopted into just the perfect home and can achieve true greatness and enjoyment in life. I wish I could share the video but I can't seem to get it. A rock climbing dog, amazing! Frida is a dog who I look back and think, oh geez I should of kept that one,......but then she would have never learned to rock climb.   

A cause worth a pause

Red Rover rescues animals, educates children, trains volunteers and provides funding for animals in crisis. Who can come to the rescue when tens or hundreds of animals are seized or displaced? Red Rover can. Check out the website, watch the video......Maybe you could be a volunteer????

A photo from last year. Comet and I meet a snake while hiking.
      The birds are chirping, the frogs are singing and this week, while walking, we saw our first(live) snake of the year! A good sized one two, almost 4 feet long. We were not able to get close, but I think it was a bull snake. Oh mother nature, I find you so interesting! Last night I fell asleep with Bugsy snuggled into the crook of my right arm, Comet leaning into my left side and Captain asleep on my belly. Oh the snuggling dog joy! Also last night, I was awakened by all three dogs jumping out of bed and barking, followed by the DISTINCT smell of skunk wafting into the open bedroom window. Oh the stinking dog joy! This happens every year, at least once. I think the skunks like to scavenge from the compost pile in the backyard.

Monday, March 19, 2012

          Captain may as well have lived here all his life. He has settled in so well! I just have to share the joy of adopting an adult dog! So may folks shy away from this, as if with out puppy bonding, we cannot truly connect with our dogs. So not true, dogs are such adaptable creatures. Of course many dogs take more time than Captain to settle in, but even so, a transition period is inevitably shorter than puppy hood and , depending on the age of the adult dog you choose, involves a lot less chewing!

    Captain and Comet are the most adorable playmates! Captain spinning around and launching himself onto and under things during play. Comet swishing his head around like he is rocking out to 80's hair metal, fur flying. Bugsy is even playing with Captain already! I have seen the two of them (appropriately) tug together on a toy on 2 occasions now.One, then the other, victoriously squeaking the toy. Oh joy!

Did you know there is a live action Lady and the Tramp? 

Thinking about adopting an adult dog? Maybe you should consider adopting from Detroit......
A story in Rolling Stone magazine describes the ongoing situation in Detroit and what a few unlikely dog rescuers are trying to do to make things right.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

So Delightful!

     The weather around here has been delightful. The winds of change have blown 70 degree weather our way in March! Iowa is having record breaking high temperatures and people are out in their yards beginning spring yard work. Neighbors I haven't seen all winter are coming out for a walk with their dog, giving the boys something new to bark at. The grass in the yard is attempting a come back, and the windows have been thrown open to let in the breeze. Is spring really here? This early????  I don't know but I'm putting out the welcome mat for it to roll on in.

     This week I was pleased to be led to the first film starring a dog. "Rescued by Rover" a 1905 black and white picture starring a collie named Blair. I think this proximately 6 minute film is just great!

Did you love it? Oh that lovable Rover! That darn flirty nanny!

Okay, on with the big news! After much searching, I have found the newest addition to the pack! 
Salute, Captain! 
Here is Captain at his post on the picnic table.
     Captain is a 4-5 year old Pekingese dog! He is larger than the average "peke" at 20 pounds. I adopted him from the wonderful people at Peke N Chin Rescue Midwest who fostered him after he was found wondering a parking lot and never reclaimed. Captain is settling in well, he ignores the cats, and is very appropriate with Comet and Bugsy. He is even potty trained! Captain has learned quickly that sitting at the door and waiting politely gets him a treat and then let outside. Captain was shaved a few months ago, so we will see what kind of coat he turns up with and how much grooming I am in for! I am looking forward to seeing just how handsome he can be!

     The first 2 nights Captain slept quietly in his crate. By night three I was so impressed with his behavior that I let him sleep in the bed(Comet and Bugsy too). Captain kept my feet warm all night. His transition from kibble to raw is going smoothly so far, no runny poo, no lack of appetite.
For his first meal he ate the kibble he had been eating. Then the next meal I mixed the kibble with lightly boiled ground beef, fish oil, potatoes, kale and carrots. After two meals of this, I mixed the boiled meat mix with raw ground beef for two meals, then added beef heart chunks(still w/ a little kibble). Now he is eating raw meat mixed still with a teaspoon of kibble. Last night he picked out one of the pieces of beef heart and did not eat it (Bugsy helped him out) then this evening I added chunks of raw chicken and he picked one out again (Bugsy is still happy to help show him the way).

     Today he had his first raw meaty bone, a small marrow cut from the grocery store. He LOVED it. He jumped up and grabbed it out of my hand! I was so surprised! I think he was to, because once it was in his mouth he just stood there looking up at me. I gently took it back and then we tried again, more politely.

     Pekingese dogs have a very interesting history, including folk lore that they are the offspring of a lion who fell in love with a monkey!  Captain is already showing he is a brave soldier, barking at any invaders. I wish Comet and Bugsy would tell him that Chevy, the neighbors Labrador, is not an invader.

     Captain has been an easy going companion while I work in the greenhouse. He lays near my feet and chews a bone or naps while I plant and transplant. Afterward, we take a walk around the farm. Captain sniffs the smells, pees on posts and tires, then investigates Haley, my parents farm dog. Just when he thought the fun was over, my mom brought out one of her horses. Captain huffed, sniffed and barked at this giant creature. The well behaved horse was none to concerned.

    Captain met Matilda and Matilda ran circles around him. She bounced high in the air and raced around the room while Captain chose to rest on the couch. I think they will get along just fine. I look forward to seeing the two of them play together should Captain decide not to nap through her next visit.

     Here is a photo set of Captain playing with Comet. The two of them have hit it off straight away (Oh, Comet you are so adaptable!) . In this first picture, Captain is pulling one is his fancy helicopter moves where he spins himself around in the air. It is pretty amazing.   :)

 Oh the cuteness!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Winds of change


       My last post we were enjoying the snow fall. Today, it's at least 50 degrees and I walked the dogs in a light spring jacket and tennis shoes! Everybody in the neighborhood is out with their dog enjoying the weather. Bugsy and Comet are enjoying it too, standing out on the porch with their noses in the air and the wind blowing their fur coats. A wind of change is blowing. February many loses hit this home, but now we are full speed March-ing in to spring. Moving forward. We have been honored this week by the loving mention of Comet in my clients obituary. I am proud of Comets work in the group home, the hospital and the hospice house. Again, I feel truly honored.

     Here at home I am working on fine tuning some house manners. When new dogs, foster dogs, or visiting dogs are in this house certain rules apply and I like to have those rules be followed before a change occurs. For instance,  when multiple dogs are at the door wanting to go to the yard- the old rule was for the dogs to "Sit" "Wait" and then be released by name one at a time. This routine is now out of practice and Comet and Bugsy are taking full advantage. When I say, "wanna go outside?" the two of them rush to the door with there noses touching it. If I ever want to add a 3rd dog, the best time to start prepping the boys is now. So, I've hung a bag of treats next to the door and reward them as needed for following the new door routine which is "wanna go outside?" dogs head to door then I stand between them and the door and say "settle" with a hand signal along with it. Sit didn't work well because Bugsy would always rather "down" than "sit" and if I say settle, then I'm not ruining Bugsy's sit. I reward the dogs for settling down which can be sitting or downing or just calming down-but always for backing from the door as well. The bag of treats by the door (which hangs well out of reach of all paws and noses) is working well for recall too! Bugsy will immediately come when I call him from the yard every time I call when there is NOT a UPS truck in our driveway. Comet is usually slow to come when called, he comes, but in his own time and not if there is a squirrel. So now it is easy for me to reward him for coming when called and this is working so well that I am already adjusting the reward for only when he quickly comes when called.
Can you see his fur blowing in the wind?

     Another preparation I'm making is a little harder of a routine for me to follow through with. Bugsy and Comet both love to cuddle. I enjoy them sleeping with me in bed at night, but sleeping in the bed is a big privilege. I want Bugsy and Comet to be able to deal with disappointment and not associate it with another being (like oh say, a new furry friend in the house). When a new dog comes in the house, that dog is crated at night for the first several days or weeks(or even months depending on the dog). The crate will be in the bedroom at night where the crated dog could see and hear Bugsy and Comet having the privilege of sleeping in bed with me, where the crated dog cannot go at night. To ensure that this does not become a problem I keep all dogs out of bed overnight before and during transition periods. Some people think that one dog on an elevated surface, above another dog, shows that the higher up dog is dominant. I'm not so sure that it is as black and white as that at all. But, the human bed is a really special place, it is where the person sleeps, there are lots of pillows and blankets, and it's just so darn warm and cozy. Of course a dog wants to be there! Some dogs in bed and others not, just doesn't seem to set all creatures involved up for success. Besides, Bugsy and Comet have very nice dogs beds all their own.

     As always leash manners are a life long project. Most days the boys are great on walks but we are still working on fine tuning. I love my dogs, and going on walks with them should be so much fun! It is, but I am absolutely guilty of (occasionally)becoming a dictator during my leash walks around the neighborhood. Imagine me walking with Bugsy and Comet. Comet catches a sniff of something and suddenly pulls off to the side. "ah ah!" I say and freeze waiting for him to come back to my side, not letting him sniff the precious scent that is so alluring because he tugged on the leash to get to it. Oh dear. Training is great, but I am guilty of needing to lighten up sometimes!

Dinner plans?
Have a heart........

A lamb heart.

Lamb hearts I feed whole to the dogs and cut into smaller chunks for the cats.

Or a beef heart.....
Beef heart I serve in chunks. Kitchen scissors are handy for this job.
The more I look at this picture, the less I am sure that it is actually beef heart! My photo folder has it labeled as heart, but I'm thinking it is actually beef chunks. Likely some heart some other organs in this picture.