Thursday, February 9, 2017

Maybe clip that leash instead of hitting your dog with it?

Hanging out by our mailbox
Me and Copley were out for a short walk around our neighborhood and had a terrifying experience.  I live in a suburban community, but it is still pretty tight quarters.  There are no sidewalks in my homeowners association and the houses are packed together.  The thing you need to take away from this information is that it is an on leash area for sure.  I am all for letting dogs run around in rural areas where it is appropriate, but my neighborhood is not one of those places.

Well I had Copley on a leash and we were headed to the mailbox down the street.  Between my house and the mail boxes there was a man standing with two large dogs, one tan and one black.  I'm not sure what they were, but they were tall.  Perhaps giant shepherds of some kind or something crossed with a big sight hound maybe?  The breed is not important to this story, the size is though.  As we approach the man starts yelling at the dogs angrily and pulls his leash out of his pocket.  I stopped to give him a chance to leash up the dog closest to him, it was sitting right next to him in easy reach.  Instead of clipping the leash to the easily accessible dog collar he starts angrily yelling at the dog and hitting him with the leash.  Not a gentle attention getting tap or anything, but hitting him.

I think this is the time I should say that based on what this guy and these dogs were wearing, I would bet this man fancies himself a "dog trainer."  These two were in vests with handles, and wearing around their necks the pinch collar/large black flat buckle collar combo that you might see on a police dog.  If you need all these thing to control your dog, why isn't a leash attached to at least one of them?  The man had cargo pants and a pouch that I imagine were not at all full of treats- as he clearly was using other (obviously ineffective) methods here, but still screamed "tough man trains tough dogs!"

Well the tan dog that is being hit with a leash finally runs away from his person and over to us.  He stopped facing me and Copley about 5 feet away, staring Copley down.  It was the frozen, terrifying stare that you read about in books.  Meanwhile the guy just continues his angry screaming.  I tried to assess my options here.  Picking Copley up was not going to work, as bending forward was only going to provoke an attack I figured.  The dog was huge, it's giant muzzle was level with my chest so if this fight happened I was probably screwed too.  I didn't have the mace I carry on walks because I was just headed to the mailbox.  This really could have been a disaster really quick here.  The fur was starting to go up on Copley's back and this tan dog ever so gently and silently began to curl his lip.  In what had to have looked comically opposite to the other mans method here I just calmly and cheerfully said "Copley!  Come on."  I have to give Copley some credit here, that dog always comes through for me in a pinch.  I want him to get his feet off a chair and you would think he was deaf, but in case of imminent dog attack or pigeon in the house he listens like a champ.  As I said Copley he looked at me and as I cheerfully asked him to move along we stepped sideways out of this dogs glare and walked away briskly at an angle.  By this time the man came over to grab the tan dog and was angrily yelling at it and glaring at me as I was saying "good dog!" to Copley.

Then here comes the black dog jogging down the street at us.  Luckily this one was much friendlier and assumed the "I sniff your but you sniff mine" position with Copley.  I was not thrilled about this as Copley's hackles were still up and he was clearly a little uncomfortable from our last encounter.  This dog was so tall that Copley fit all the way under him and as I was trying to figure a way to pull him out without us getting tangled up (I only had a 4 foot leash to work with and I didn't want to drop it if I didn't have to) I look down and see Copley comically wincing as this dogs giant balls hit him in the face.  It was the only hilarious part of this whole experience.

We took a quick turn around the corner and loitered at the mailbox for a long time to give the dogs a chance to move along.  I have not seen them since and it has been a few days.  Hopefully they were just visitors to the neighborhood. 

P.S.- A few resources if you are either the guy hitting his dogs for no reason in the name of "training" (indicating you might want to learn a little about the real science behind dog behavior) or if you think you might run into someone like that on the street (at least one of you will have some read on what the dog is thinking).  My favorite behaviorist Particia McConnell has some great books The Other End of the Leash and For The Love of a Dog  Those two taught me a lot of what I know about dog body language and have helped me so much in my interactions with our dogs and dogs out in the world over the years.  

Or find a local positive reinforcement based trainer and take a class.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

New Year New Tooth!

Post Root Canal and Pre Crown

The Final Product


This is a story of root canals, dentists and pet insurance gone right!

A few days before Christmas I came home and found Copley with a lump on the side of his face under his eye.  We had been rummaging in the garage a lot due to the pilot light going out on our hot water heater so I figured it might have been a spider bite or something like that.  I gave the poor guy a benadryl and called our vet.  Luckily our vet is a wonderful lady who always answers the phone.  She informed me it was likely actually an abscessed tooth!  It being 6pm already there was not a whole lot to be done that night so she suggested I visit a vet who did root canals in the morning with the hopes that we could save the tooth.
 
The Lump
I am all for saving teeth.  In most practices vets just pull teeth, but Las Vegas is lucky enough to have a veterinary practice that regularly does root canals and other advanced dental work (if you are in Las Vegas and looking, it is Dr. Hewitt at Cheyenne West Animal Hospital).  Even though we knew it would be more expensive we decided to try to save the tooth. 

He looks thrilled for the dentist!

That night from my vet, and the next day from the vet who did dental work I learned something really interesting.  Dogs only actually eat their food with four teeth.    Two molars (top and bottom) on each side of their mouth.  The other teeth are mostly for ripping flesh off bones.  Admittedly my dogs probably do a little more flesh taring than your average kibble fed dog, but it is still not the main activity for a domestic dog.  While a lot of dogs do ok with no teeth at all (I have seen foster dogs that can actually get a lot done with just gums) it is pretty bad to loose any of those four teeth.  It would have basically forced Copley to move all of his eating to the other side of his mouth.  To my great relief many vets and techs told me what a young dog he was at only eight to be loosing teeth like that!  Copley acts like a grumpy old man from time to time so hearing medical professionals call him young was both reassuring and refreshing. 

As our options were being laid out at the vets office a crown came up.  I just about fell out of my seat as dollar signs swirled in front of my eyes!  I told the vet that the root canal and filling to continue to at least use most of the tooth seemed like the best plan considering it seemed unlikely pet insurance would cover a crown for a dog!  The vet in turn asked who I had insurance through and after I informed him it was Pet Plan he told me I was probably in luck.  I don't know why I figured a crown was out of the question but he believed it was covered.  After all he had a pile of literature about how this was really the best option for his long term health.  We left the office agreeing to read more about crowns and submit the procedure for pre-approval with Pet Plan to help with our decision.  The more I read about the procedure the more I was convinced the crown was best for Copley.  Luckily for us the procedure was approved just after Christmas and Copley went in for a root canal.

There was still a worry on the day of the procedure that the tooth could be lost.  The fracture went below the gum line and could have been so bad it was a lost cause and there was also the possibility that the infection would be so bad in the bone that the tooth had to go.  Even though it was possible it would have to be pulled I felt good that between the coverage by Pet Plan and the talented vet we were giving Copley the best chance at the best outcome.  This really almost seems like a Pet Plan ad here but I assure you it is not.  In fact I have been paying them for the last six years, not the other way around!

Loopy From The Surgery

Luckily the root canal went great and the tooth was saved!  After the root canal came a great time of paranoia for me.  They carve little ridges into the tooth to put the crown on.  In a person it is pretty easy to ensure the tooth doesn't get damaged in the week or so while the crown is being made.  You just tell the person not to chew anything on that side!  With a dog it looks a little more like clearing your entire house of anything even a little bit hard, feeding ground up mush as food and praying to the tooth fairy (she seemed the appropriate deity for this situation).  As it turned out everything went perfectly and now I am the proud owner of a dog who is the proud owner of a $2800 tooth.

Now to train him to open his mouth to show it off, this should be fun!

P.S.- What did Copley fracture his tooth on in the first place?  There is no way to know for sure, but after talking to the vet about his chewing habits his best guess was a nylabone.  Apparently the hard ones are actually hard enough to break a tooth.  Here I was thinking the only danger with a nylabone was breaking off pieces and eating them, which is why I was buying the super hard ones!  I will be kicking myself in the butt about that, so just a warning, if your dog is an intense chewer like Copley, maybe stay away from the hard nylabones.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dog Owner Level 100 Reached



I really feel like I accomplished something today.  It wasn't that I have successfully integrated a feral dog into every day life with people, that I have solved problems with positive reinforcement that trainers told me I never would or that I have successfully raised a puppy.  It was today when I saw pieces of a Christmas ornament on the ground in a pile of puke and thought "this can be fixed."

I will say it is not quite as gross or premeditated as it may seem.  The items were in a small pile of just them, surrounded by a sticky kind of yellowish bile many dog owners may be familiar with.  I pulled them off the carpet with a paper towel.  On my way to the trash can I looked down and seeing as how everything was intact I figured I might just try to wash it off.  The plastic cleaned up beautifully, I found the ornament they fell off of and with a little bit of the proper adhesive everything was like new.  As you can see above it is like no damage has ever been done to the little reindeer.

How many people have an ornament on their tree that was once inside their dog?  This is certainly a next level of dog ownership.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

4 Years with Nova


It is hard to believe we have had Nova for 4 years.  The day I picked her up from the rescue's vet they warned me not to take her home.  She had been living feral, scavenging food behind a tire store for at least six months.  She had two puppies who both died a few weeks before she was trapped, was malnourished, upset and her first interaction with people directly was being trapped then going through surgery.  She was scared and skinny and it was hard to say what kind of dog was under all that scared.  It turns out now, 4 years later, she is actually a really amazing little chihuahua.  She is very smart, cuddly (with me), and she has great dog skills.

Her life isn't exactly the normal that a lot of other dogs experience.  She won't voluntarily let anyone but me touch her, however she will let me hold her for someone else to trim her nails and just a few weeks ago she made it peacefully through a vet exam and a rabies shot.  Nova does things on her schedule, so we try to concentrate on the important stuff and everything else comes with time.  

Most of Nova's day is spent wrestling with Kerrigan, throwing toys in Kerrigan's face and sleeping cuddled up next to her.  Those two are the best of friends, it is hard to imagine how we would have gotten Nova through these four years without Kerri.  Nova is still wary of new things, you should check out our facebook live video from her cake eating this morning.  The cake was new, and the setup was new so as you can see she is pretty unsure what to do.  Eventually she realized the new object is food and she calms down.  Letting her work through things that in return are self rewarding has been a great strategy for helping Nova learn to live in our house.

Most of her day to day life is actually very joyful.  When she is comfortable (which is most of the time) she is a fun, silly dog.  She wakes me up in the morning by bouncing on the bed, play bowing and jumping around.  As I mentioned she throws toys around to play, loves to cuddle and gets very, very excited when she sees her clicker.  Learning clicker tricks has given her a lot of confidence and is one of the things that has really helped us bond.  Giving her some control over her own life, and learning new things through positive reinforcement has been the key to her success.  It has been a long journey and sometimes it took weeks just to get to the next little step, but me and Nova worked together to get her where she is today. 

After our rather chaotic Facebook video this morning I decided to grab an interview with Nova.  She is in a much more comfortable enviroment in this video and the clicker is in my pocket.  I think it captures a little more of the excited and happy essence that is the real Nova I get to see every day.



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We Are Back

Hello Everybody!

I am here to say we are coming back and sticking around.  Over the last couple of years this blog has fallen a bit to the side.  2017 is the year we come back!  Next week we are going to be celebrating a certain little chihuahuas four year adoption day and that will be our first regular post.  In the meanwhile please, please follow us on our social media Facebook and Instagram!  We are on twitter too but I can't make any promises there.

This blog got a little stale for me for a few reasons.  Mostly because I felt like I wasn't really filling a spot in the dog blogosphere.  I don't blog from my dogs point of view, my dogs are cute but not the Tuna Melts my Heart kind of cute.  For a lot of pet products I am not very advertiser friendly because I vocally feed a home made raw diet, but for hardcore raw people I am useless because I vaccinate my dogs and believe in veterinary science.  

In the end I think this blog can have a voice going forward.  It just might take a little exploring to find that again.  In the meanwhile here is a preview from our holiday card shoot.  The photo is by our good friend @ladylockoff



Thursday, February 25, 2016

We Gave Up on "Dog" Water Bottles

Instead of a long post about me falling way behind with this blog- let's just get back into the swing of things shall we?

If you have been reading for a while you would know we are outdoors people.  Not just casual, stroll at a big park people, but we camp, hike, backpack and generally spend a lot of our time in the wilderness.  Since most of that wilderness is in a desert water is a major consideration.  We have been through many different water packing methods for us and the dogs through our years out west and finally have settled on what works for us: the dogs just drink out of wide mouth Nalgene bottles.  On long hikes we will refill them out of the large water bladder we carry just like our own Nalgene.  For a long time we carried the Gulpy.  It is a fine piece of gear and for daily walks I do really like it.  The problem with the Gulpy is similar to every other method we have tried, that once you squeeze the water in the bowl portion it is there forever.  You have to squeeze out enough for the dog to lap up then you end up pouring out more water than your dog drank.  Let me tell you that on an overnight backpacking trip in the desert where you are lugging every ounce of water you have on your back the idea of pouring water out on the ground is extremely demoralizing.  The other issue with the  Gulpy is filling it with our water bladder.  Any dog water carrier out there has a lot of extra "stuff" on it as compared to a regular bottle and when you are looking to save weight on your back carrying several is not really an option.  This leaves you out in the woods trying to fill a tiny hole with water from a bladder meant to flow into large mouth nalgene bottles.  This is both not fun and a recipe to waste water.  Since our dogs are so small their faces can fit into a nalgene comfortably to drink it just started happening because it was the easiest thing to do in a pinch.  We even got Kerri a cute little nalgene that has a nice wide mouth but only holds a chihuahua sized amount of water.  Copley still needs the full size because his face is a little bigger, but he is going on less and less hikes in his older age so it is not a huge deal.

So now, after years of doing this or that we have settled on the dogs doing the exact same thing we do.  For the record I don't share water with the dogs, they do get their own nalgenes, but my husband I believe is not nearly as picky.  I try not to think about that- it is really gross.  I am curious what people with "full size" dogs do on backpacking trips.  A nalgene only would be comfortable for the little guys or maybe a hound with a long skinny muzzle as far as I can see.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015