Thursday, May 31, 2012

Are They Friendly?

This is my LEAST favorite question to get asked while walking Badger and Mushroom. It's a trick question. Answer yes, and the person will assume you gave them permission to approach. Answer no, and they may think you have a stereotypically aggressive pitbull. But what if my dogs are friendly, but I don't want them meeting people?

I tend to say "Yes, but [insert excuse]". This strategy has not been successful. People either hear the "Yes" and immediately start approaching or they try to argue with me about the validity of my reason. Llamaentity says "No" and walks on, ignoring the scowls and glares.

Yes, but the black one is a jerk

It's not that Badger and Mushroom aren't friendly. They are. They love people so much that they'll jump all over them for attention. We're trying to train out the jumping behavior by not reinforcing it or letting others reinforce it.

Mushroom is reactive on leash toward other dogs, but this also doesn't mean she's not friendly. She can play appropriately with dogs of all sizes when off leash. But again, we don't want to reinforce on leash lunging or barking, so we try to give other dogs a wide berth and distract her.

The question I wish people would ask is "Can I meet your dog?" That way, I can safely say "No, (s)he's in training" without any implication that Badger and Mushroom are unfriendly or aggressive. We've only had this question asked to us one time, by a little girl in Petsmart, back when Badger was a tiny puppy. We explained to her that she could pet Badger after he sat, and the entire interaction was quite pleasant.

I'm considering sidestepping the "Are they friendly?" question altogether and saying, "They're in training and need space."

Will behave (temporarily) for treats

Do you have a way to discourage someone from approaching your pitbull-type dog without reinforcing negative stereotypes?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

For Memorial Day weekend, I flew to Houston to attend a wedding, while Llamaentity stayed home with Badger and Mushroom. We didn't want to leave the dogs alone (albeit with a dog sitter) for two weekends in a row, so Llamaentity volunteered to stay home, as the groom was an old friend of mine.

On Sunday morning, I went for a bike ride along a paved trail. There were lots of bikers, walkers, and well-behaved dogs. Three of the dogs appeared to be bully mixes, and I even went up to one dog that slightly resembled Badger (perhaps a Boxer/pit mix?) and asked if I could pet her. I learned that her name was Lucy, and she slobbered on my hand.

I didn't bring my camera on the bike ride, so here's a picture of my sister's cat, Kina.

She's yawning or meowing or preparing to bite. I don't know; I'm pretty clueless about cats.

Did you have any unusual (or usual) animal sightings during your Memorial Day weekend?

Saturday, May 26, 2012


When we went out of town for my sister's graduation last weekend, we didn't really want to drop Badger and Mushroom off at the kennel. We'd taken Badger to the kennel twice before. The first time, he came back with tapeworms, and then the second time, he was terrified of his food bowl for weeks after he came home. Also, we knew that Mushroom had been in a high-kill shelter before being rescued by ARNNE and fostered. We didn't want her to think we'd abandoned her.

Congrats, lil sis! Sorry that the real world kind of sucks

The first time we went on vacation after getting Badger, we left him at our friends' apartment. However, this was no longer a viable option because we didn't want them to be stuck with four dogs (Badger + Mushroom + their two dogs).

One of my coworkers recommended a dog sitter that she had used before for her Boston Terrier. Though we were wary of having a stranger come into our home while we were out of town, the fact that my coworker liked her was able to give us some peace of mind. We gave the dog sitter a call (or possibly an e-mail - Llamaentity took care of this part), found out that she was free the weekend we would be gone, and scheduled a time for her to meet the dogs before we left town.

Llamaentity was nervous. What if the dog sitter didn't like Badger and Mushroom? What if they were loud and poorly behaved? Would we be stuck having to take them to the kennel anyway? Llamaentity's mother even took the worrying to the next level (as parents tend to do) and worried that the dogs would bark so much that our neighbors would call the police.

Badger is like the teenager that everyone thought was high all the time but was actually sober and just weird

Well, I'm glad to report that everything was fine. We introduced Badger and Mushroom to the dog sitter separately, and while Badger did jump, he eventually settled down a little for a belly rub. Mushroom was amazingly polite and didn't even try to jump. Sometimes, Badger doesn't like when he's crated and Mushroom is getting attention, but he only whined a few times during the initial visit. The dog sitter agreed to watch our dogs (big sigh of relief for Llamaentity).

We booked three sessions with her per day we were gone: breakfast / morning walk, mid-day walk, and dinner / evening walk. We checked in a couple of times while we were out of town. We learned that Badger ripped apart a fuzzy toy (no big deal, except that we're still finding bits of stuffing in our apartment) and that he wasn't too keen on being crated at the end of a session. Generally, everything went smoothly, and the dog sitter seemed to love Mushroom.

It is impossible not to love this face

The only part we were still nervous about was the bill, since we hadn't discussed costs up front. (Note to self: Always discuss costs up front, if just for peace of mind.) Luckily, it turned out to be roughly the same cost (or even a little cheaper) than if we'd left Badger and Mushroom at the kennel. And no worms or behavior issues to sort out afterward! It looks like we have found a good permanent strategy for vacations, though I'd still like to take a road trip with Badger and Mushroom sometime.

What arrangements do you make for your dogs when you go on vacation?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The Mushroom that we have now is very different from the Mushroom we had as recently as a month ago. When she first arrived, she always looked worried and rarely smiled.

Also cross-eyed

 I thought she hated it here and wondered if maybe another home (specifically one without a pushy Badger) would be better for her. Much to my relief, after about 2 months, she seemed much happier.

However, she developed a rather confusing behavior. When I was petting her, she would roll over on her back, which is Badger's signature "I want a belly rub" pose.

Badger probably thinks we're his servants

When I proceeded to give Mushroom a belly rub, though, she would bite my hand gently. It was and remains the only time Mushroom has ever been mouthy (not counting when she's really fixated on a toy).

With some trial and error, I think I've figured out what she wants when she assumes the belly rub position. Mushroom wants a belly rub, but she also prefers for her "udders" to be left alone. Since she's small, and that doesn't leave much room for actual belly rubs, I usually end up just petting her side. But she seems happy, and I haven't been bitten in a while.

After careful deliberation, Mushroom decides she wants a belly rub

Did you adopt a female dog who's had a litter?
How do you navigate belly rubs without being udderly awkward?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Alternate Blog Names

This blog was originally meant to be a gaming blog, hence the title. And though I've had a bit more time to devote to gaming recently (currently plaing both Tera and Diablo 3), the main focus of my life and this blog are the dogs.

That said, we're probably not going to change our blog name, especially not to any of these silly names we came up with:

- Pitties Pitties in the Pitties - This one is sort of an inside joke. Llamaentity has trouble remembering the names of all the blogs I follow and just refers to them collectively as "Pitties Pitties in the Pitties".
- Powder Puff Pittie - Badger has some features of pitbull-type dogs, but one of the ways he isn't like a pitbull is that he has a medium-length coat. Hence, the powder puff pittie.
- Two Blubbers in the Suburbs - A play on Two Pitties in the City, the blog that introduced me to the world of dog blogging.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Mom on Pitbulls

Our family Border Collie, Betsy, passed away last December at the age of 10. This March, my mom said she was ready to get another dog. Her criteria were: a dog that can fit through their existing dog door (Betsy weighed 45 lbs at her heaviest), a dog with short fur (Betsy left tumbleweeds of fur everywhere), and a dog that was calm around my grandparents, who have limited mobility.

RIP Betsy, 2001-2011

I jumped upon this opportunity to look through pages upon pages of adoptable dogs on Petfinder. I sent pictures of several older pitbull-type dogs to my mom. To my dismay, she said she preferred "the Lab look" and that my grandmother "doesn't really like pitbulls". I told my mom that Badger and Mushroom were both pitbull-type mixes and wonderful dogs, but I basically dropped the subject because I've never been able to convince my parents of anything.

Mushroom was listed on Petfinder as a Lab/terrier mix (no longer adoptable)

A couple of weeks later, my mom texted me a picture of a little black dog. It was facing away from the camera, but it looked like a pitbull. I texted her back, "Did you get a dog? Can you take a picture of its face?" She replied that no, they were at a friend's house for dinner, and the picture was of the friend's new puppy. Then she sent me another picture... of a blurry little pittie face!

The teaser...
Apparently taking blurry pictures of dogs runs in the family

My mom told me about how playful and cute the puppy was and how our whole family loved it. I told my mom that the puppy was probably a pitbull mix, and she seemed surprised but didn't stop gushing about the puppy. I reminded her that an adult or senior dog would be a better fit with the family.

Weeks passed without any mention of dogs. During our Mother's Day phone call, seemingly out of nowhere, my mom said, "I heard that bulldogs are very loyal. Aren't your dogs bulldogs?" I asked her if she meant pitbulls, and she clarified (or perhaps obfuscated), "Any of those bull-type dogs." I explained that since both Badger and Mushroom were from rescues, we had no way of knowing exactly what breeds they were, but that they did both resemble pitbull-type dogs. I was confused until I logged into Facebook later that day. I saw that my mom had "Liked" a link I posted - the story about the pitbull that saved its owner from an oncoming train.

Badger keeps an eye out for rogue trains in our apartment

I don't know if my mom is going to end up adopting a pitbull-type dog, but you can see how much her views on our favorite blocky-headed dogs have evolved. All it took was an open mind, some puppy playtime, and some positive press. I'm so proud of my mom!

Has anyone in your life changed their mind and decided to give pitbull-type dogs a chance?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Food Woes (aka Poop Woes)

Disclaimer: This post is not for the weak of stomach. Which probably doesn't include any dog owners.

I never thought (or talked) this much about poop until we got Badger. Llamaentity and I even have special terms to describe poop quality (ewww). And we've also learned that what our dogs eat affects what comes out. One time, Badger pooped pure, undigested carrot chunks. We stopped giving him as many carrots after that.

A carnivore

We found a food that works for both dogs, California Natural's Lamb Meal & Rice Formula. But I read somewhere that it was best to rotate foods to prevent dogs from developing food allergies. This month, our rotation experiment led us to California Natural's Grain-Free Venison Formula.

The amount of poop immediately skyrocketed. On Tuesday, we took Mushroom out, and she pooped twice. Not 15 minutes after we got back inside, she pooped on the carpet. On Wednesday, Badger pooped three times in one walk. (Wednesday was also the day I accidentally touched poop with my bare hand, cursed loudly, and turned around to find a 6-year-old kid standing right behind me. Oops.)

The Mushroom cycle: eat, sleep, poop, repeat

So what have we discovered during our food rotations? Here's a table:

PowerPoint is fun (Click to enlarge)

We cut down a little on the amount of food that Badger and Mushroom are eating for each meal, and it seems to have brought the level of poop back down to manageable levels. Although next month, it may be difficult to convince Llamaentity to try out another new food.

Do you rotate your dog's food, or did you find something that works and stick with it?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I once caught Badger and Mushroom cuddling for about 30 seconds. And by "cuddling", I mean Badger was lying down on Mushroom's tail. Their bodies were barely touching. Badger and Mushroom do not cuddle. They are definitely not a couple; sometimes they are not even friends. In fact, they act just like siblings.

They like to roughhouse with one another, growling, jumping, knocking things over, running, and knocking things over. (We've worked with our trainer to learn when to let them play and when to separate them.) Whenever one dog grabs a toy, the other dog immediately wants it, despite all the other toys lying around the apartment. Sometimes they'll even share for a bit.

Sharing - the period of time right before Mushroom steals a toy

We spent the first month getting Mushroom accustomed to walking next to Badger while on leash, and now they can walk side-by-side nicely. While each of them reacts to different stimuli on walks (Badger is scared of the sound of tires on pavement, and Mushroom reacts to other dogs), it seems that walking them together calms both of them down more quickly.

The camera is the least exciting thing on this walk

Over the weekend, I sent Mushroom to her crate for being too vocal, and when I went to let her out after a few minutes, I found Badger lying in his crate in solidarity. (Badger never chooses his crate over lying at our feet.) And then they laid down like piggies and snoozed on the carpet, several feet apart. Definitely not cuddling.

Voluntary imprisonment

Do your dogs cuddle, or do they prefer not to touch?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day of Disappointment

First, Mushroom pooped on the floor, despite having pooped outside just 10 minutes prior. Then, North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Finally, the Celtics lost game 5 of their playoff series against the Hawks. All-in-all, it's been a disappointing day.

Even Badger is disappointed

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mushroom's Favorite Color

When we first adopted started fostering Mushroom, we gave her Badger's old collar to wear.

Just like human siblings, the 2nd dog gets hand-me-downs

It was okay, but we thought she needed something of her own, so we ordered the "Shrooms" collar and matching leash from Sirius Republic. It just so happened to be green.

Quick! How many mushrooms are there in this picture?

And then a funny thing happened...

It was not easy getting Mushroom to pose with her toys

I actually don't know when we started consciously giving her green toys. And I don't really know whether green is her favorite color, though we could probably do a test similar to the treat preference test. But someone once told me that brown and green go well together, so for now I'm just happy that something around the apartment matches.

Does your dog have a favorite color?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Things we have purchased from

1 reversible puffer jacket for Mushroom
2 bags of Zuke's treats - peanut butter and chicken flavored
1 Outward Hound backpack for Badger

We have not used the jacket yet because it was purchased right at the end of winter. We haven't used the backpack yet either because it just arrived, but if the weather is nice this weekend, we'll try using it on a hike.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Training Session 2 - Old Stuff

Our trainer, Bird from Queer Skies Ahead, came over this weekend to check up on our progress and teach us cool new tricks. We covered so much that I'll be splitting it into two blog posts. This one will just be about the behaviors we've been working on since our first training session.

When Bird came over, we let Badger out of his crate to greet her at the door. He jumped at her a few times, but he quickly decided that a belly rub was what he really wanted.

We had made some good progress with getting Badger and Mushroom to wait for treats (especially Badger), so Bird administered a test for them. Not the bad kind of test - this was the kind of test where they ate a lot of treats and any answer was correct. She tested them to see which of four treat types they preferred by holding a different treat in each hand. Badger's favorite turned out to be salmon treats, while Mushroom preferred Zuke's peanut butter treats.

Trick question - Mushroom loves everything edible

We also worked on making the "Wait" command more difficult by putting treats on the ground in front of the dogs or even putting treats directly on their paws. This one will take a little more work though, since Badger ate the treat right after I snapped the picture, without us releasing him from waiting.

"I thought cruel and unusual punishment was illegal"