Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I've been a good dog this year. The best, really. So come Christmas morning, I expect to find everything on this list under the tree.
  • A new stuffed toy (because I chewed a hole in my last one, and the humans took it away)
  • A new antler (because I broke off a huge chunk of my last one, and the humans took it away)
  • A new Nylabone (because I chewed a hole in my last one, and guess what the humans did?)

In addition, maybe you could take away some of these things, since I don't need them.
  • My crate (the world is my crate)
  • My head collar and leash (they prevent me from chasing rabbits and eating trash)
  • My sister Mushroom (I'd like a new brother or sister that likes to play and doesn't steal my toys)
We don't have a chimney, so I'll leave the balcony door unlocked for you. We don't have a tree either, but you can just drop my presents off in front of my crate. I'll set out some Milkbones, but I can't guarantee that I Mushroom won't eat them first.

Thanks and merry Christmas,


P.S. Mushroom wants me to tell you that she wants all the other doggies in the shelters and rescues to find their forever homes. What a silly wish. You should probably just get her a lump of coal instead.

I'll be watching you

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mushroom Can't Turn

For the most part, Mushroom has been a rockstar in her reactive dog 2 class. She's jumped through hoops, stepped on platforms, pranced through horizontal ladders, and, most importantly, watched the other dogs in the class calmly. But you know how sometimes a student who generally gets good grades will completely fail their test in Health class because it has badly designed multiple-choice questions? Just giving a generic example... But yeah, Mushroom can't turn.

*womp womp*
In last week's class, we practiced shaping our dogs to walk around a chair. Mushroom gave up and sat in the chair instead. This week, we worked on getting them to spin in circles. Mushroom would spin halfway and then go back the way she came. I ended up having to hold the treat next to her butt to lure her, and even then, she'd sometimes just look at the treat as if she was deciding whether it was really worth it to do something as difficult as turn.

We have the next two weeks off, so her class resumes January 8th. In the meantime, we will be trying to teach her to turn. We've also given her the nickname Moolander.

Blue steel
Does your dog have that one thing they just can't do?

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christmas Song

Mushroom the stinky pit bull
Had a stench from tail to nose
And if you ever smelled her
You would even say "That's gross!"

Who me?

All of the other doggies
Used to laugh and call her names
They never let poor Mushroom
Play in any doggy games

Like bitey-face

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
Mushroom with your stench so bright
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight

This doesn't involve being cold, does it?

Then how the doggies loved her
As they shouted out with glee
Mushroom the stinky pit bull
You'll be bathed sometime this week! (Hopefully...)


Do you write holiday songs about your dogs?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Crate and Rotate Routine

We live in a happy two-dog household, but you won't see any pictures of Badger and Mushroom snoozing together in a puppy pile because it's never happened. In fact, Badger and Mushroom are happiest when they're not together, so we've settled into a crate and rotate routine.

I don't think crate and rotate is publicized nearly enough as an alternative to rehoming a dog. As we like to say, Badger and Mushroom are both wonderful dogs, just separately.

I'm awesome
I beg to differ (and for treats)

Crate and rotate isn't only for dogs that are aggressive toward one another. In fact, Badger and Mushroom get along with each other and most other dogs. However, they are very excitable when they play together, so we need to always keep an eye on them, rewarding them for calm behavior and separating them if they get too rowdy.

Crate and rotate is also good for dogs that need to stay calm because of a medical condition. Mushroom was recovering from heartworm treatment when she first came to live with us. This is actually the reason we started to use crate and rotate.

Since L stays home with the dogs, one of the dogs will be crated in the morning/afternoon, and the dogs switch in the evening when I come home. We try to alternate which dog gets the "morning shift" vs the "night shift" because I only get to interact with the "night shift" dog on weekdays. For me, the biggest con about crate and rotate is that, on any given weekday, I can only spend time with one dog.

Can it be meeeee?

I've come to recognize that phasing out crate and rotate may not be a good goal for us. Rather, we should focus on helping Badger and Mushroom to be calm around each other. We purchased Patricia McConnell's "Feeling Outnumbered?" booklet yesterday, and I've been reading Dr. Sophia Yin's blog for tips about dog play.

Ultimately, whether we continue to crate and rotate will depend on what Badger and Mushroom are most comfortable with. I did catch them snuggling yesterday while they were waiting for treats.

Didn't get a picture of it, but here's one of both dogs

Thoughts on crate and rotate?
Thoughts on dogs being calm around each other?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What to do if you're approached by an off-leash dog

My version:

  1. Freeze
  2. Hope the off-leash dog doesn't hurt Badger or vice versa
  3. Wonder if I should be clicking and treating, or whether that would cause the off-leash dog to become aggressive
  4. Breathe a sigh of relief when the owner finally notices and calls his dog away
  5. Upon arriving home, report the situation to L, who calls the apartment complex (the off-leash dog and its owner live in our complex)
  6. Beat myself up for not reacting quickly enough / resolve to do better next time
  7. Feel proud of Badger for handling the situation much better than I did

Badger's version:
  1. Look
  2. Sniff
  3. Play bow
  4. Aw darn, it left before we could play
  5. Accept treats as a consolation
  6. Wonder why human is apologizing to me
  7. Accept belly rubs
Is that a belly rub over there?

What I should have done:

Hopefully the apartment manager will give this guy a talking-to for breaking the leash law, and we won't meet off-leash dogs anymore. (Wishful thinking!) I also realize how lucky I am to have been walking Badger instead of Mushroom. Next time, if I'm not frozen in shock, I'm going to try throwing treats at the dog and retreating.

Has your dog ever surprised you by handling a situation much better than you did?

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Graduate

Who has no thumbs and graduated last night?


Okay, so we didn't have a real graduation ceremony, hat, or certificate. And since it was a level 2 class, he went in already knowing basic commands. And Badger is still as Badger-y as ever (he jumped the baby gate to say hi to me this morning). But we're very proud that he's accomplished the following:

  • Jumped through a hula hoop
  • Touched an object with his nose
  • Touched an object with his paw
  • Laid down calmly on his mat
  • Stayed quiet while other dogs barked
  • Walked past people and dogs on a (mostly) loose leash
  • Looked at us instead of the treat
  • Greeted a new person without jumping
  • Ignored the cheeseburger (eventually)
  • Concentrated for the length of an entire 50-minute class period

Badger will have his "winter break" for a month, and then when Mushroom's current class finishes, we plan on enrolling them in a Control Unleashed class together. Let's hope he does his homework!

What "homework" are you doing with your dog this winter?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

First, the bad news

...We were fired by our dog sitter. Well, nothing quite that dramatic, but we learned that Badger has in fact not been enjoying his staycations, and our dog sitter thinks that it would be best if we found another option for him during our Christmas trip. She did say that she would honor her previous commitment and be our backup if we couldn't find anything on such short notice, but thus continues our search for what to do with Badger when we travel.

Badger didn't do well when he was boarded at the vet's last Christmas, which was what prompted us to have a dog sitter come over in the first place. Because of this history, L is hesitant about any option that would require Badger to live away from home. It looks like the best-case scenario might be to find a live-in dog sitter. 

We're also exploring the possibility that Badger doesn't miss us so much as he doesn't want to be crated for so long while we're gone. Our dog sitter wondered if he would be less stressed if he was given the run of the apartment. So as part of our backup plan, we've been leaving Badger uncrated at night and using a baby gate to keep him out of our bedroom. 

A very toothy baby

We don't really have any good news yet. I guess the closest would be that so far we've left Badger out three nights in a row, and he hasn't chewed anything up.

Has anyone tried for dog sitting services? Any other suggestions?