Archive | September, 2010

The bed dilemma.

21 Sep

I have a little dog and only big beds. Although they sometimes do sleep on the beds together,  I didn’t think Brodhi should be forced to share his bed unless he wanted to.

So I bought 2 small dog beds that are similar shape and even the same color as one of the big beds, and put them around the house. The little dog, Luna, loves them and it gives her a great alternative place to sleep when she would rather be in my lap. Here she is curled up one.

The problem now is that the big dog is trying to fit in the bed too.  Although he uses them, he doesn’t seem quite comfortable in them, yet he keeps trying it out.  Yesterday Luna approach Brodhi in “her” bed and she pawed lightly at his face, he groaned and turned his head away, she whined and walked away.

I know little one, it’s not fair. He clearly doesn’t fit but weighs 45 lbs more than you and is clearly not moving, so he wins.


Getting to know the moon

21 Sep

It has been a week and a half since bringing Luna home.   She started out a a dog who was at my side the first few days.  I mean literally.  If I stood up to get a book of the shelf in the same room, went to the bathroom, filled my cup, etc she was walking with me, often touching my leg.  I nicknamed her my “Luna-bone” because she was an extension of my ankle most of the time. When I sat down she would fly up onto my lap before  could even fully sit.  If I then put her on the floor she would frantically try to get back up ( no matter if Brodhi was in the room or not).  If I shifted my eight in the chair, as thought I may get up she would pop up and be ready to follow me. I had to go out into the yard every time for potty breaks ( which was fine as I wanted to reinforce her for doing the jobs outside). She would go only a few feet from me to do her business then would be right back at my feet.

Naturally she did not like to be alone. The first time I left her alone as for an hour and a half in a crate.  She pawed at it a few times, did not stay settled, and whined and howled intermittently.  The second time was later the same day, I left her loose in a room with Brodhi for the same period.  She was less vocal  but still did not really settle.  She is uncomfortable, but not that anxious. She is easily managed.  I have instilled independence training from me while I am home, keep my departures and arrivals low key (which I do anyway just even more so now), and leave her with a super stuffed kong when I leave.  She is loose in the house.  I have found she does best when she can watch out the window for me.  She settles within 15 minutes and stays curled up looking out the window until I come home.  I need to set up a video again to see how those first 15 minutes go, but she has been eating what I leave anyway.  So overall going well.

The first few nights she was protective of us and our space but completely fine when left alone with each other (based on video). If Brodhi came into the room and we were home, she would get up from her bed on the floor and come over to stand by us and give him an ugly face and growl.  All we did to change the behavior was get up and walking away from her or if she was on the couch we put her on the floor.  After 3-5 days of this, that  behavior has stopped completely.  Now all of us can make a dog pile on the bed, couch or chair and both dogs stay soft no matter who was there first.

No issues with food or resource guarding. They can eat together and each uses appropriate body language if the other is being inappropriate.  For example, when I have them sit for the food bowls, after I put them down, Luna often takes a few bites then leaves her bowl to approach Brodhi who is eating (they get the same food but it is as thought she needs to check his bowl out).  He just ever so slightly puts his head a bit closer into the bowl and looks at her up over the bowl and she runs right back to hers and resumes eating. He only tries to eat her food once she leaves hte bowl and has left some in it in which she lets him eat it.

She is fearful of new, loud, or fast things but recovers quickly. On walks the first few were difficult as cars go by fast and sometimes close.  She panicked and tried to bolt when they passed. She started taking high value food though and she is much better already.  She will still stop walking when they pass and look at them, but the panic seems to be subsiding.

She is quiet.  She seldom barks except as  an alarm and quickly settles. I love this feature! She doesn’t chew,dig, or try to escape. She is extremely social with people and very food motivated. Time to get training! The only formal training I have done is targeting which I am already able to use on walks.  I think she is settled in now that I am ready to start teaching her more cues so she can have even more freedom.

They have not directly played with each other yet.  Brodhi has done play bows on many occasions but her first response was to run away as though it startled her.  Not sure she has lived with big dogs before.  Now she doesn’t run away but doesn’t engage yet either.  I can play with them each side by side with toys and Brodhi will try to solicit her to play with a toy with him, but she only plays with us in those cases and ignores his solicitations.  I think that will come with time.

She is snugggle-bug!  She loves to cuddle at night under the blankets and will sit behind me when I am working in our overstuffed chair and lean her head against my back or shoulders (video here).  For the most part I limit the snuggle time during the day as part of her wanting to learn independence. She has to sit now before being invited up on the couch. She would then want to lay across my lap and be on me.  So when she is allowed up, I ask that she be on the cushion beside me. Many times I just  guide and reinforce her to sleep in her awesome dog beds on the floor rather than being up. She is so much better than she was. It is actually hard to get a picture of her doing anything but sleeping or resting.  She is an easy dog, which was what I wanted. She is well within Paul’s ability to manage her, walk, and train too.  I am so lucky on so many levels.

Luna’s transformation has been impressive so far. She now not only goes outside to potty on her own, but even uses the doggie door even if it is dark outside all completely on her own.  I have not had a single accident in the house which is hard to believe.  She is comfortable sleeping in a dog bed on the floor.  She no longer needs to sleep under my feet when I am working at my desk, but quietly sleeps on her dog bed in the same room and more recently I will find her on the overstuffed chair in the adjacent room. On walks she is more confident in general.  Her tail is no longer between her legs but often comes up a bit and she carries herself with  spring in her step (vid here).  We have been taking her off-leash on fenced-in properties and she is more and more confident each time (one of her earlier vids here).  On Sunday we let her explore an orchard that she had never been in and she zoomed away several times, running through leaves and pouncing on insects, acting like a much less fearful dog than I had seen since I brought her home.  The first few times she was not in the room with me I was concerned as I wondered what she was doing.  One time, I did n’t find her in the house at all and got concerned.  I went outside only to find the two dogs sunbathing in the yard together (vid here). She is doing so well and has made so much improvement in such a short time.

She is so much fun and fits in so well here.  I am so relieved and so happy to have found her.

I am considering doing the DNA test on her once I had a bit of extra money.  But what breeds do you think she is???

The New Moon

16 Sep

[This is Part 2 of the story of meeting Luna from the previous post.]

I came back that same evening with Brodhi (my other dog) and Paul (husband) to meet Luna. Fortunately the lawn guys are gone and we can hang out in the yard. The woman exclaimed how big a dog Brodhi was (he is a lab size).  Then I realized that even though she told me that Luna was living with all breeds of dogs and cats, the biggest dog I saw at the door was a beagle.  So they have only smaller dogs I presume.

Luna’s first response to Brodhi was to lunge and air snap.  When Luna did that behavior the woman verbally corrected Luna by harshly yelling  her name and saying  “Shhh Shhh” and   “NO” or something.  I don’t know really but I know the dog behavior was normal and long over before she uttered her first word. So I turned and corrected the woman by explaining I want to see her normal behavior and interactions without altering it. We decided to go for a walk with the dogs. They look so much alike it is strange.  They are a perfect matching set.

The whole walk there was literally no interaction between the two of them while they were walking.  Luna was walking crouched, scanning the environment, trying to figure out the leash walking thing. Brodhi was on alert scanning and putting his nose into the thousands of gopher holes along the road. Completely different agendas. At one point Paul crouched down one knee and Luna jumped up on his leg that was horizontal.  Brodhi started to come over and she growled at him. Interesting.

When we got back to the house I asked the woman if she ever saw space or lap guarding behavior in the home with other dogs when Luna was near her. Her response was something like ” Well when I sit down all the dogs jump into my lap and if there are any squabbles I just correct it.  It is as simple as that.”  Yet again, another vague answer that doesn’t answer my question about Luna’s behavior. We hung out in the yard a bit more. Brodhi was focused on the goats and domestic rabbits in a puppy pen in the yard. They drank from a water bucket together and Luna licked his face. I thought to myself that since she was so small we would just figure it out.

We said we wanted to think about it overnight.  She gave me the adoption application and her “paperwork” which consisted on a one page medical record that had just a few lines from a new puppy exam 2 years ago.  On that form was the previous owners name, address, and phone number. Is that even legal I wondered? It was unclear when her shots were given last or due as the only info I had was from 2 years ago. I was assured that she had all the vaccinations.  We decided the next morning that we wanted to give it a try.

The adoption application was a joke- filled with questions that make  the adopter feel like an enemy rather than an alley. Questions that close the conversation or never open one in the first place. Asking you to divulge all your prior history with every dog, your vets information, your landlord information, asking you to justify what you will do in the event of (your dog getting very sick, having to move to place that doesn’t take dogs, etc).  It describes them bringing the dog to you for a required home visit and if you pass their inspection they will decide to leave the dog with you or not. They sure need a lot of advice about the adoption process. They could model the ASPCA very easily or take one of their workshops on how to talk to adopters and have an awesome adoption process.

So I fill everything out and go to pick her up the following evening. I planned extra time as I expected it to be quite a conversation and a process, not even thinking I was bringing her home that night but unsure.  I tossed a crate in the car just in case.  So I pulled up to the house and the woman was taking out some trash.  She said she would be right back with her for me.  She brought out Luna with no collar or leash this time and said she would trade me (dog for the paperwork in my hand).  She took a nanosecond glance at the papers I filled out (it was not even all filled out as I was uncertain what a few things meant), took my $150 and said “ok, hope you enjoy her”.  That was that. I took her to my car and put her in the crate and drove away.  The whole exchange between us took less than 1 minute. It felt like a drug deal happening behind the trailer park on a dirt road.  I sort of felt like telling her should put in a drive-through. I made one stop on the way home and took this short video of her in back of my car. Video here

I was almost home, still a bit in shock, looking at Luna  in my rearview mirror and realized I didn’t have her rabies certificate. I would need that in order to get a license. I also realized I didn’t know the company who her microchip number is through to change that either. I called the woman and asked her to let me know if she had it or if I needed to vaccinate her. I have not received a response and that was over a week ago.

We just ordered new vaccines for her, plus her Heartguard and Frontline.  I think she has fleas as she is very itchy and had bites along her neck that look like flea bites. I gave her a bath within an hour of coming home and she was anxious but was a good sport about it.  The water was black was it went down the drain. I think she spent a lot of time outside and who knows what her story really is.

She slept most of the weekend while we tried to pick a name for her. We decided we liked Luna best for many reasons. One is that we live in the “Valley of the Moon” so a location based name seems appropriate. Since she is likely Chihuahua X, Paul was leaning towards a Spanish sounding name.  She really  is Kyra’s polar opposite in behavior, and Kyra meant “sunbeams/sunlight”.  Monday  I realized the street parallel from where we picked her up is called La Luna.  I also realized the new moon happened on Sep 8, the day I met her and Mercury was still in Retrograde. So of course her name is Luna, there is no other name that makes so much sense.

My first glimpse of the moon

16 Sep

Sep 6 I started peeking at Petfinder for a second dog.  Sep 8 I met one,  and the next day brought her home. I didn’t see any others that I wanted to even go meet.  I was like this with my relationships too.  I never liked shopping around much.

She was advertised as a 4 yr old Basenjii/Chihuahua mix.  She is actually 2 (based on her vet puppy visit) and I doubt any Basenjii. Let me preface her story by saying the rescue that I got her from seemed like a shady operation.  For this reason I am not even listing what her name was then, her name is Luna now. Here is what I was told: she was a puppy in a shelter where a woman adopted her. That woman had her apparently the 2 years along with another very small dog and then lost her house 2-3 months ago.  So this rescue  took the dogs through a friend of a friend situation and have had her since.  She is out in a yard with dozens of other dogs during the day and in at night in her own crate. She is housetrained and crate trained already they said. The people who own the rescue also own a force based dog training business and their website proudly displays they follow Cesar Millan’s methods.  They posted a pie graph to illustrate the percentage of exercise, discipline and affection that should be given to the dog, as though it is science.

I first met Luna by myself mid-day on that Wed.  When I drove up there was a woman outside with 2 goats on the side of the road and lawn equipment blowing through the yard.  There was no way to really chat with the woman to find out more info or sit to get to know the dog except on this gravel road along their house.  The man who gave her to me was like a caveman who didn’t say much but instead grunted and sprayed a water bottle towards all the little dogs that were barking at his feet. He handed me  her through the screen door then went back inside.  I take this frightened  little dog in my arms along the edge of the yard trying to avoid the rocks flying from the industrial lawn equipment to find a place to put her down to take a look at her.  I hear the goat woman yell to me over the lawnmower “Why don’t you take her for a walk?”  Ok I yell back.  I look each way on the  pothole ridden dirt road.  The way I came in goes along a trailer park a short ways before reaching the main road with traffic.  The other way leads to a foxtail empty field.  I choose foxtails.

We walk a little, I pet her, I hold her.  It is clear she never was on a walk in this area (maybe ever??) as she looks terrified and I fear she will bolt if I don’t hold on to the shoddy nylon leash well enough. I spent maybe 10 minutes with her.  She was filthy.  She didn’t look dirty but when you pet her you could feel the grime on her body.  She had weird thick grey areas on the tops of her ears that were described as fly bites, and very well might have been, but in a strange place. She has a blue S on her spay line. It wasn’t until I asked about that later when we were told she came from a shelter originally.

So I go back to the goat woman, standing about 10 feet away from her and the two goats and proceed to ask a few questions. Her answers were vague and some a bit shocking.  For example,  when I asked how long she had been here the woman said “Maybe 2 or 3 months?  I don’t remember as we have so many dogs here. We have had about 50 at one time”.  The woman made statements about how I felt which just annoyed me.  She said things like “Oh I can tell you are in love with her”.  My immediate thought was that she didn’t know me, and no I did not feel love. In fact I was trying hard to just  keep the shock off my face most of the time.  I set up a time that evening for Paul and Brodhi to meet there.

I drove away a bit shell shocked and very unsure what to do. I felt an overwhelming urge to just put her in my car and take her away from that situation.  I also had this awareness of not wanting to say yes to a dog just because I wanted to “save her” but that I really wanted her.  I think I did bring her home to “save” her, but within 2 days realized how much I really did want a dog just like her. After Kyra, I have to be careful who I bring into the house.  Paul feels a bit burned from the experience,  and it was too overwhelming for our family to make that work out.  How does one know I find myself asking?  Where does one find the crystal ball or the Magic-8 ball that actually works to predict what life will be like in 3 weeks or 3 months, or 3 years?

John William Waterhouse's art

John William Waterhouse Art

Let Go of Uncertainty!

6 Sep

So I just read a blog and it is so good I want to create a space here on my blog for it so I can share it with you and also find it easily later. Some great lessons for practice.

Great advice in today’s world:

1. Consider the idea of permanent uncertainty.

2. Stop waiting for something external.

3. See the benefits of releasing attachment.

4. Reconnect with the constants in your life.

5. Accept constant imperfection.
Link to the blog article here

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” ~John Allen Paulos

Buddha Daibutsu, Kamakura, Japan. This statue,...

Image via Wikipedia

%d bloggers like this: