Good Dogs, Unleashed!


Petey Hits Puberty
September 5, 2011, 7:38 pm
Filed under: Training | Tags:

As you know, Petey was neutered last month. While neutering is a great thing, it unfortunately doesn’t stop the adolescent months from coming. Between the ages of 7-9 months, dogs hit their teenager phase and start testing their limits and their owners patience. They may be more active, bark more, start destroying things, or just generally being a handful. This is when a lot of those cute puppies get taken to the shelter because now they’ve grown into not so cute dogs. This is also the time when all those behaviors you let your dog do as a 15lb puppy (sleeping in your bed, jumping on you at the door, nipping your hands, etc.) become the behavioral problems you call me for. It’s amazing how many people think that dogs inherently know how to behave and will just become good dogs as they grow up. Unfortunately, a good dog is work and unless you get incredibly lucky, directly depends on your behavior as an owner.

So Petey seems to have hit the adolescence mark a tad early, and it started with chewing 2 things I really didn’t want him chewing. One was a plastic figure of Spike from The Land Before Time that I have had since I was a kid. Literally, at least 20 years. It was, fittingly, preserved in perfect condition by being buried in our childhood sandbox. When my dad dismantled the swingset last year, he found it in the sand and I took it. I loved that I still had it and that it still looked the same as the day I got it. Now it’s missing a hand and part of it’s tail. Worse, Petey took it out of the bag it was packed in, and chewed it right in front of us. Stupidly, we were distracted with one of our friends who was visiting, and we were watching Breaking Bad. I was so pissed, I didn’t even take a picture of it for you.

I did take a picture of the second thing he chewed, ironically, my camera case.

Grrrr...

Boyfriend was quick to point out that I didn’t even like this case when I bought it, but I have no recollection of that. Or at least not a lot of recollection. Shut up. That’s not the point. The point is, I use my camera all the time, and now it’s unprotected. “Like it was for the first 2 years you had it?” I said shut up.

Petey’s other fun, new, adolescent behavior, is barking! The neighbors at boyfriend’s parents’ house have three dogs who DO NOT SHUT UP. They bark every time they see us in the backyard and they bark loudly and incessantly. I actually feel semi-bad for the owners because they can’t even sit out on their deck, because the second we come outside, their dogs lose their minds. On the other hand, I don’t feel bad, because they don’t do anything to retrain their dogs, they just put them inside. I’ve thought about leaving them my card, but I think they might be offended, and they’re not my neighbors, so I haven’t.

Anyway, Petey has decided that, since the neighbor dogs bark, he should bark back. We’ve heard him bark, maybe 5 times in his life, and that’s always at Chomper when they’re playing. Since we’ve been here, it’s all the time. I’ve been working on teaching him the command “quiet” and so far it’s going well. Although as I’m writing this, a gaggle of brats emerged from the woods and both dogs ran to the fence barking their heads off. Did I mention Chomper hates kids? Luckily, Petey is a lot of talk, he loves everyone. The brats ran back into the woods. I don’t think they saw me on the upper level of the deck, so who knows what they were plotting. Whatever it was, Captain Barks-a-Lot and the Fun Police foiled it.

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Moving
September 5, 2011, 7:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

At the end of August, we finally moved out of the ghetto. While the house we lived in wasn’t terrible, it was definitely a stupid, impulse decision to move there and it was a poor choice. The landlords were nightmares. Constantly talking down to us, treating us like we were second-class citizens because we rent and just generally being difficult to deal with. On top of that, the landlord’s father would show up at the property unannounced on a regular basis to do yard work. Not only does this go against the landlord tenant code, and our lease, but is also disruptive to my schedule, freaks out Chomper and is creepy as hell. The week before we moved out, I found him in my kitchen window at 8 in the morning. Yes, he might have been pulling weeds or some crap, but I was in my pajamas and hadn’t even had my coffee yet. Rude and creepy.

So we finally were set to move out on the 31st, but spent our last night at the new place. We showed up the next morning to find our back deck painted, and all our back deck stuff gone. This included the $80 metal baby gate we use to keep the dogs on the deck. I freaked out and called the landlord who was rude and dismissive. The landlord’s dad showed up and told us he thought we moved out so he threw away all our stuff.. And not just threw away in our trash, but dumped illegally in the people across the street’s trash. The gate was obviously gone since people pick through trash there all the time and who wouldn’t want a free baby gate? The landlord’s showed up to do a walkthrough of the house and offered me their old, beat up baby gate that was missing pieces. No deal there bucko. They still refuse to buy a new gate, but I have an appointment with my lawyer on Wednesday and I think he’ll be able to handle it.

The other thing about us moving out, was that during the walkthrough, the landlord complained that the house smelled “like dog.” Now, we had permission to have Chomper, and Petey is a service dog who is allowed to be in any housing he damn well pleases. The house smelled mostly like rug cleaner since we were extra nice and got the carpets cleaned. Other than that, it smelled overwhelmingly like wet basement. Which is understandable considering this was what the basement looked like the morning after Hurricane Irene:

Dirty standing water smells bad?

But obviously it wasn’t the water that smelled bad, it was “dog piss.” Nice try landlord, but my dogs don’t go in the basement. Ever. It didn’t smell until we had a HURRICANE. Basements all over the east coast smell like this right now. Don’t be a jerk, jerk.

-By the way, the hurricane was incredibly anticlimactic where we live. I told everyone that it would be. We’re not near any bodies of water that would flood, so I wasn’t worried. Chomper, who is terrified of the average thunderstorm (see Petey Takes Drugs), spent the night sleeping and didn’t need any sedatives at all. Boyfriend and I had an epic, 4 hour game of Trivial Pursuit (I won, obviously) and Petey spent the night like this:

Hurricane? What hurricane?

Anyway, other than the basement, the landlords seemed genuinely surprised that the house was in the exact same condition that they left it to us in. Uh, yeah, we’re not jerks like you people, of course we took care of your stupid, falling apart, poorly painted house. Do we seem like irresponsible people? No, obviously. The best part was at the end when the ass told us we should think about buying a house. I think he works for a mortgage company or some crap. Yeah, like we’d ever talk to you again after any of this. Don’t think so.

 

On to the AWESOME part of moving. The house we want won’t be ready until the end of the month, so we moved in with boyfriend’s parents. They have a huge fenced yard, and pool, a hot tub, and the best part is that their property backs up to a creek surrounded by tons of woods. The dogs are having a blast running around off leash back there, and Petey has even taken to playing in the water.

What? I've always liked water. Duh.

This is of course, awesome. Since I still can’t do anything to strenuous, and sometimes walking 2 dogs is just too strenuous, having the ability to take them for a walk off leash is perfect. Petey does superbly well with staying close to me and Chomper checks in every few minutes before running off into the woods again. Petey also lets me take glamour shots of him:

Dead eyes.

Today, Petey used a downed tree to balance beam himself right across the creek. I’ve been doing this every day, but this was the first time he followed me. It was awesome. He has amazing balance and can jump ridiculous heights and lengths. Agility trials here we come. But not really because I don’t have the self-discipline for that stuff. I will make him jump through stuff and walk across narrow things though, so that kind of counts.

The only problem, as usual, is the Chomp Star’s typical fear aggression issues. The house already had 2 large pugs and 1 large chihuahua/pug. All females. Chomper does not approve of this situation at all. The big pug is about 30lbs, deaf and mostly blind. Chomper ignores her completely, and Pudge ignores Chomper right back. The medium pup is about 25lbs, and apathetic toward Chomper, so she ignores her back too. The little pup weighs in at around 20lbs and is a yippy little bugger. She is terrified of both Chomper, and Petey. She hides from them, and as soon as they start to leave the room, she’s breaks into a fit of barking, “Yeah, that’s right, you keep walking!” Chomper does not like other female dogs. She does not like dogs that bark or act up in any way. This makes for a problem. Luckily, Chomper mostly just wants to herd all three dogs into a corner or under the table and then she’s satisfied. For now. We only had one little skirmish at the door when the pizza guy came. Mostly just a lot of noise and snarling, but I yanked Chomper up quickly and put her in the bedroom to cool off for a while.

Besides the dogs, Chomper has nipped at boyfriend’s brother while he tried to put bug spray on, and barked menacingly at brother’s girlfriend as she came up the basement stairs. Chomper’s original owner taught her that biting feet was a fun game, so the foot nip, while bad, is not surprising. Chomper’s veterinarian and I also believe that she may have progressive retinal atrophy. This manifests itself in crappy eyesight from a young age, especially in the dark. She’s always had issues with growling at the top of dark stairwells. Usually, once you get close enough for her to see who you are, she wags her tail and gives a little doggy apology. This of course, does not make it any less disconcerting when she’s growling at you. So mostly, Chomper has stayed close to me, in the backyard, or in the bedroom. So far, so good, considering. Then again, it hasn’t even been a week.

 



Petey Takes Drugs
August 22, 2011, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The day after Petey got neutered, he was quiet and sleepy most of the morning. This was highly unusual, but I wasn’t worried, I figured he was sore and hungover from pain meds. When he got up around 11 though, I started to get concerned. He was walking funny, and not the “I just lost my testicles” spread legged walk that I’ve seen before, but a woozy, legs coming out from under him kinda funny. I tried to walk him across the room and he was uninterested. I coaxed him with some treats and he started walking sideways. At this point, my overactive imagination slash worst case scenario pessimism kicked in. Clearly he’s neurologic. They must have done something wrong in the surgery. Maybe he’s having a bad reaction to the anesthesia (yes, 20 some odd hours after he got it, shut up). I switched my brain to tech mode and started a full exam. Heart rate slowish, but normal, reactions normal, conscious proprioception normal (flip over each paw and see how long his reaction is to flipping it back to normal). Clearly he is just in pain and groggy and I’m overreacting.

So of course, I text someone. This someone happens to be one of our foster pups new moms, and we talk on a regular basis. She’s hilarious and awesome and if we lived closer to each other, we would be best friends. Sadly, she doesn’t. But she does have a male dog who just recently got neutered and ended up with a terrible infection. He had some antibiotics and is fine now, but I thought I’d ask her if she’d noticed any of the same symptoms. Even in the back of my head, I knew he wasn’t acting normally, but I didn’t want to completely freak out. He still wanted food, so I took that as a good sign.

I decided to watch him for a while to see how things progressed. As I waited, I thought I’d do some laundry. Standing in our bedroom folding clothes, I noticed Petey licking the floor. Great, another button from the comforter. Nope. Crushed pink pill. Specifically, the half a sedative I had on my bedside table for Chomper and the loud thunderstorms we’d been having. In my half consciousness in the middle of the night before, I had taken out 1 1/2 pills for her. 1 I shoved immediately down her throat so she would stop clawing at my face in a thunder panic. The other I apparently sat on the table, so of course, Petey ate it.

This explained everything. Now that I knew what happened, I recognized all the same signs as when I drug Chomper. Woozy walk, slowed movements, droopy eyes, drunk crooked stare. I contemplated calling poison control or the vet, but only for about 2 seconds. First, poison control costs $75 a pop and they’d just tell me to go to the vet anyway. 2nd, I knew he had gotten into it hours ago, so there wasn’t going to be much they could do. They could induce vomiting, but the pill was probably already absorbed, and they could give charcoal, but I didn’t think he needed it. I decided to just watch and wait. It was a small dose and he weighed almost as much as Chomper. He was fine, but drunk as a skunk. By all reports, he was extra maniacal the next day while staying with my sister. Which was fine with me.



Petey Petesworth and the Big Snip Snip
August 22, 2011, 8:36 pm
Filed under: News

So this past Thursday was the big day for Sir Petesworth Duke of Awesome. We took him up to The Spayed Club in Sharon Hill (a depressing place p.s.). The Spayed Club is a non-profit spay and neuter clinic that offers discounts to rescues and generally has much lower prices than you would pay at the vet. I dropped him off at 8 in the morning and, other than being completely terrified by the rain soaked, slippery linoleum, Pete seemed very nonchalant about the whole “losing my testicles” thing. Here he is on the ride up:

La la la, just another ride with the momma.

The momma was less nonchalant. I had been thrilled that the clinic had a webcam to watch their surgeries, but of course, it was down that day. Being a tech makes me an extra nervous mom since I know all the things that could go wrong. That being said, I also know the likelihood of a complication with a neuter is slim to none. So I went about my day, which included a lovely hour and a half of driving through Bumble, Pennsylvania. I had a pain appt in Brynn Mawr and thought I could just drive from there to Sharon Hill and stop at some coffee shop or bar along the way, do some reading, get some work done and kill time while waiting for Pete to be released at 6. Little did I know that the drive from Brynn Mawr to Sharon Hill consists of nothing but horse farms and ghetto. I seriously went from beautiful rolling hills to unattended children roaming the streets in about half a mile. Then I got lost.

You see, I don’t have a GPS, but I do have an iPhone. Sadly, I have a 3G that I naively updated to iOS4 last year and it has basically become a Nokia 2001 brick phone ever since. It’s painfully slow to the point of uselessness. Could I downgrade my software to fix the problem? Yes, but that takes an awful lot of effort and frankly I am much too lazy. I will just upgrade to the 4 when the 5 comes out and never update the software. Ever.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I didn’t know because my phone sucks. So I spent about an hour and a half cruising through what I assume was Darby and eventually ended up at the Springfield Mall. This is not a mall. This is a large, prison looking building with a Macy’s, a Target and a Ruby Tuesdays. It was however, not as sketchy as all my other options and I was starving. I spent an hour and a half at RTs talking to my ridiculously stereotypical bartender who dropped out of her agricultural high school when she had her kid, but apparently was there long enough to castrate sheep. She was interested to know that you do not wrap a rubber band around dog balls and twist them off. She also told me all about kick boxing lessons, her flooded jeep she left open in the rain (twice in 24 hours), good ways to quit smoking (I don’t smoke) and the best iPhone app for directions. It was an interesting afternoon.

Finally, it was time to pick up the Peteburger. I stopped at a PetSmart and bought him a stuffed monkey for snuggling and headed to the clinic. I was told how adorable he was (obviously) and that he weighed in at a whopping 34.8 lbs, leaving him trailing behind Miss Chomp by just 5. When they brought him out, he still was griping about the floor, but forgot once he saw me and Monkey. He took one look at me holding his leash and took off straight for the door. The tech said he hadn’t bothered with his incision site and that they weren’t sending him with an e-collar (lampshade). I wasn’t surprised because he is awesome. Then I realized it may have been because he was drugged out of his mind and spent the drive home hanging on for dear life like a drunk with the spins.

I'm just gonna hold on right here and breathe in this sweet freon.

Seriously, even when he stopped inhaling directly from the AC vent, he still had to hold on just in case.

Ughhhh....is this gonna be forever?

Yes, that is Monkey laying discarded on the floor. But don’t worry, once we got home, Petey decided Monkey was awesome.

Mom, if you don't stop flashing that at me, I'm going to eat it.

Other than acting like he’d never been fed before in his life (you know, since he missed breakfast, which to him is like missing food for a month or two), he just seemed a bit tired. Didn’t bother the sutures once. Chomper seemed to understand that he was in need of lovin, and I caught this before we headed up to bed:

Don't tell Monkey.

 



Old Dogs, New Tricks
August 16, 2011, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Chomper, Training

So this month, one of my all time favorite stores, Borders, started liquidating their stock of books. I’m both happy and sad. Happy because I can buy ridiculously cheap books. Sad because I’ve spent countless hours in that store since I was in high school. However, I may have been a slight part of the problem, because I often found books there that I wanted to read, then went home and downloaded them to my Kindle.

Anyway, the first thing I did when I heard, was pick up a bunch of dog books (obviously). Now, you would not believe the ridiculousness of some of the books there. Let’s start with the one I opened up to this:

Yeah, right. In no way would this end with me getting my feet bitten off.

Now, I’d love to give you the source for this, but I can’t remember for the life of my what it is. I’m leaning toward a book by Kyra Sundance. Yes, that is her name. While clearly this means that her parents were on hard drugs, I try not to hold it against her, because she’s a great trainer. I want to say this was from her 101 Things to Do With Your Dog book. Clearly this is not something a sane person does with their dog. Also, your dog will hate this.

There were other books too. Like this:

Dog names for people who have apparently never met any dogs.

Really? A dog name book? Let me tell you something. After 10 years working with other people’s dogs, I can tell you that they are all named the same things. Bailey, Buddy, Sandy, Bella, Maggie, Max, Lucy, Daisy… Occasionally you’ll get a great, unique name. My favorite so far was Waffles. That was a cat though. Either way, if you need a dog name book, you probably shouldn’t have a dog. That being said, I highly suggest taking a look at Veterinary Pet Insurance’s craziest names list. They include such absolute winners as Sir Broccoli and Sir Oswald Wigglesworth. Then again, they also include losers like Yager Myster Baby Puppins. Because apparently someone can’t spell Jagermeister. My point is that you can pretty much name your dog anything, so why do you need a book? Also, have you heard of the internet?

This is one that I’ve sadly seen in real life. Crazy pants groomers compete in creativity challenges at grooming competitions and expos around the country doing things like this. It takes hours. The dog has to stand still, on a table, for hours. I wouldn’t want to do it, I know my dogs wouldn’t want to do it, and I can’t imagine their dogs enjoy it much either. That being said, how ridiculous is this?

This dog hates its life.

After laughing hysterically at a lot of books, including one that claimed to be able to teach your dog to talk to you with sign language (not respond to your hand signals, but tell you who was at the door by lifting his back left foot and moving it in a circle kind of sign language), I did actually end up with a few. Remember I mentioned crazy named Kyra Sundance? She’s got two great trick books. One for puppies and one for dogs. Despite the fact that they include pictures like this:

No.

And this:

Also no.

They really are beautifully designed books with great step-by-step photos of how to teach your dog new things. She covers everything from the basic sit, stay, come, to advanced things like jump over my crotch while the blood flows to my head. I also am endlessly amused by the fact that she shows how to teach your puppy to get a soda from the fridge, then uses the same steps to teach your dog to get a beer. Because your puppy is obviously not old enough for beer. Petey and the boyfriend apparently disagree with me on this:

This beer has the word "dog" on the label. Clearly this makes it mine.

I’ve been using the books’ ideas to come up with new things to teach the dogs, and have had a lot of success. Petey now knows how to sit, lie down, stay, come, focus, shake, spin, beg, high five (while in the beg position), army crawl, put his two front paws up on something and ask for beer (thank you boyfriend). Chomper can do all of those plus target any object and turn on a push light. I’m working on play dead, roll over and be ashamed with both of them.

In addition to plain old tricks, I also purchased a kid’s play tunnel to go with my homemade weave polls and balance board/teeter/big piece of wood that i balance on one or more smaller pieces of wood. They love the tunnel and both are running throughout without hesitation. Chomper still doesn’t love the weave polls and seems to look at me like I’m asking her to put an umbrella in the dishwasher. She thinks it’s pointless and she’s only doing it because I’m giving her liver treats. Even then she’s only willing to do it once or twice before she tells me to go shove it while looking at me with disdain.

Like this.

Petey on the other hand loves the weave poles and looks like he has the makings of an agility champ. If, you know, I had the desire to put that kind of effort in to competing with my dog.

I’ve also been using the tunnel as a jump hoop while it’s folded up. They love it and Petey can jump ridiculously high for his size. I have a feeling this will manifest itself in fence jumping in the near future.



Catching Up
August 16, 2011, 6:17 pm
Filed under: Chomper

So I’ve been neglecting this blog (yes, again) but I have a good reason. I’ve started writing the National Dogs Examiner column for Examiner.com. It’s been difficult to get things up and running, there’s so many things to write about, yet I have such a hard time picking something and sticking to it. Refilling my Adderall script has helped with that. Anyway, I highly suggest you pop over to the column if you want to check out national stories featuring dogs. I’ll also have some general advice on their as well. Here will stick to local stuff for now and training tips.

So last you heard, Petey had lost his first canine tooth and we’d found it in the carpet. Yay! Well, since then he’s lost almost all of his teeth, and we’ve found 4 or 5 of them. The teething has made him much more of a chewer, but luckily, he’s sticking to his toys and bones. He also got to have his first marrow bone last week. He was in heaven, as you can see.

Yes, of course I love you bone!

He’s also been scheduled for the big snip snip. It’s this Thursday. As a tech, I know there’s nothing to be worried about. Neuters rarely have complications and are done in about 45 seconds. I could do one with my eyes closed. As a momma, I’m worried sick. What if he has a reaction to the anesthesia? What if something goes wrong during surgery? What if they don’t give fluids while he’s under? What if they have a new tech and she gives him the wrong dose of meds? What if a unicorn flies through the window and distracts the doctor and she cuts off one of his legs!??!?! Obviously, I am handling this much worse than he will. He loves everyone and I’m sure he will walk through those hospital doors with not a care in the world and come out tail wagging a few hours later. That doesn’t mean I won’t spend the day staring at my watch.

Pete’s also going to be microchipped on Thursday. If you don’t know what microchipping is, it’s a simple procedure where a vet injects a small RFID chip under the skin, between the shoulder blades. The chip has a unique number that you can register your information to. If your dog ever gets lost, any vet or shelter can simply wave a scanner over his back, see the number and contact you. It’s by far the best thing anyone can do for their dog, next to altering of course. It’s the primary way dogs get reunited with their owners these days, since collar ID tags can become separated or damaged. I’ve had to replace Chomper’s tags twice in the 3 years I’ve had her.

Speaking of Chomper, she’s back on her Prozac since we’re moving at the end of the month. She has serious anxiety issues, and although we work on it, she does poorly with change. She didn’t do well when we moved last year, but the boy toy and I also were living together for the first time, so there’s a good chance that made things worse. Hopefully she’ll take to the new house better. We’ve been looking for a place with a fenced in yard and we think we’ve found a winner. We should know soon.



Petey lost a tooth!
July 25, 2011, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Tooth!

Every morning, after their walk, the dogs wrestle and run around together. Today, Petey came up bloody. We saw he was missing a toofer, but we didn’t think we’d find it. Normally, dogs swallow their puppy teeth, or they get lost in the carpet or grass or whatever. Lucky for us, we found it! Here’s a picture of the hole it left:

Tooth hole!