Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dog Hospice - My Lovely Lily

Nearly ten years ago -- Jan. 2, 2000 -- in a serendipitous fit of insanity, I brought into my chaotic life a long limbed gangly rescue puppy of questionable heritage. A diamond shaped white spot on her neck made me think of Diamond Lil, and hence, Lily entered the menagerie. (photo 1 from January 2000: from left: Finney the Sheltie, Zena at age 6 1/2, author holding 10 mo. old Sophie and 2 month old Lily, Callie just turned 3 and Maeya, the then queen of the pack at 8)

Whatever her genetic makeup, Lily and my youngest daughter Sophie grew up as puppies together. They shared toys, floor time and vied for my attention.

Lily started as a cocktail party dog, segued in her middling years as an intimate dinner party dog, and because I put effort into it, settled into her role as a dinner party girl.

She taught subsequent dogs -- some permanent members, others for shorter stays -- the way of her world. And she was just, fair, clear and direct. Once you earned her trust, she was yours for life. You can't ask for more than that.

It's hard to put into words all that she has been in her 10 years. What I do know is she has advanced canine hemangiosarcoma, discovered 10 days ago. Her time is measured by days or at most weeks, and there's little to do but make her comfortable.

While her energy level is fading and she is steadily losing weight despite efforts to feed her more food and lots of treats, she still savors lots of petting, ear strokes and car rides. She greets all visitors and still nudges old friends for more of that petting. I am grateful I can modify my schedule to spend lots of time with her, and I can only hope that she stays comfortable until the end.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fetching as an adjective

We've talked before about behavioral chains and how the game of fetch is a great way to define a behavioral chain link by link -- 1. Toss object (or direct dog to get object). 2. Dog goes to object (speed a variable of course -- saunter, run, hurl, etc.). 3. Dog picks up object. 4. Dog brings object to person. 5. Dog hands object to person. If your dog isn't fetching, figure out which link or links are missing and fix those first.

Here and today, hours before the holidays kick into highest gear for millions of celebrators, I mean

fetch·ing (fěch'ĭng) adj. Very attractive; charming: a fetching new dogtag.

And now and for a limited time, you can get your own pet a fetching tag from the very place itself, Fetching Tags. And for added savings, tell them OH249 (that would be me) sent you and use coupon code HOLLYDOG (use all caps!!!) for an extra $4 off.

Lightweight, unique, useful and allowing for individuality, all my creatures wear theirs with pride ( and they make cool zipper pulls too!).

Happy Holidays From A Better Pet

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Walk the dog

It's official. Researchers at The University of Missouri have confirmed what many have instinctively known for years. Walking your dog (or dogs) has more health benefits than walking with other people.

Learn how to teach your dog the benefit of loose leash walking or reliable off leash walking, put on your comfy shoes, dress for the weather, and get out there and walk.

Friday, December 04, 2009

In time for the holidays

Just in time for the holidays -- the perfect pet for you or your loved one. Different colors and breeds, already crate trained -- handy for when you want to toss them aside when the festivities get started. And no worries. These furry pets only sleep and stay quiet, NO MATTER WHAT is going on.

These perfect pups don't require healthy food, potty breaks, any structure, guidance. Hey, take 'em out in the world or don't, socialization smocialization! All they do is sleep!

Say farewell to drool, accidents, gnawed shoes, muddy pawprints, strained shoulder and walks in cruddy weather. What are you waiting for, get your perfect pet for the holidays!

Okay, if you're feeling a little more ambitious, and you might be reading this because you're interested in training and want to try your hand at it but still don't like the drool or accidents or gnawed shoes, maybe an animatronic dinosaur is more your speed.

But if you REALLY want to get a real live wriggling pup for the holidays, think long and hard about whether or not you have the time and energy during the shorter and colder days of the year that will be necessary to raise your pup right. Because with the real one, to put it mildly, there are gonna be some dirty pawprints.

At least consider a Voucher or Coupon for a real pup or dog in the future -- when you're ready to take a real live creature on and shape him or her into your dream dog.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

On a mission - one client's psychosis

This morning a client has put into words what I imagine some of my clients think as they adjust to a sometimes significant change in their relating with their dogs. Based on a new and better understanding of identifying and then achieving their goals, people are empowered to become benevolent leaders. Watching clients take on and work through their issues and achieving success in a reality based universe is uber cool to me.

The dog in this story is Winnie, a stray who arrived into the life of Jim and Susie during a wicked bad thunderstorm in August of this year. Winnie's peeps run a business with employees working on their first floor the second and third floor of their house is their residence.

Winnie is very sweet but very aloof and cunning and in many ways, shut down, possibly from trauma during her time on the lam.

Here's the report from the Files of Susie: (the words in red are evidence of her psychosis!)
I have been reading, reading, reading. And some training. When I have food treats and the clicker, Winnie does very well with the touch and sit. I have also noticed that she’s going to other rooms to “shut down” less frequently. Another bully stick gone. She likes her beds.

This morning’s dilemma….. Winnie doesn’t want to get out of bed which is typical. I’ve already been up, and went for my 3 mile walk outside. Jim’s been up, showered and gone down to the office. At 6:45 am, I’m back from my walk and need to get the house ready for work and employees. I call up to Winnie on the 3rd floor, she doesn’t come. Rachel would tell me I should have clicker and treat in hand ready to reward good behavior.

I go upstairs to retrieve her, and she gives me her belly (which I rub because she is so damn cute, bad Susie!). Rachel agrees bad Susie. I just rewarded bad behavior in that she got a belly rub for not coming. I nudge her to get out of bed and she follows me with joy in her step.

We go on our walk. Euroleash on my waist connected to her gentle leader easy walk harness. Out the driveway, she stops to smell the skunks living under the front porch. Rachel tells me I could have used the eh-eh which I always forget about, and that I could/should have clicker and treat ready to re-direct and reward good behavior. Ok, I wait, thinking I can’t pull her, and then I get a little irritated when she tries to push her head under the porch so I pull a little (bad Susie!) and she follows me. Rachel tells me to use the eh-eh and that I gave her the privilege of sniffing the skunks and Winnie took that privilege. With a clicker and treat ready, I could have had some tricks up my sleeve to re-direct bad behavior. We go down the driveway, turn right, and Winnie stops on the tree lawn. Kind of freezes, standing position, doesn’t want to go further. I scan for distractions…there are none that I can tell. I wait patiently until no tension on leash. We continue to the next tree lawn, she pees, and then stops/freezes again. I decide to wait patiently again until no tension. It’s a stand-off. Minutes pass, I turn my side….I turn my back….I yawn….I bend at the knees to get to her level….I put my two hands on the ground….lots of calming signals. It’s cold out, I need to get inside to shower, my patience is wearing out. I pick her up, walk a couple tree lawns with her on my side, put her down, thinking I can “re-set” her agenda. I try to start walking, same thing. Again, minutes pass as I try the calming signals again. It doesn’t work. I turn to go home and Winnie leads happily and turns into our driveway.
I’m bothered for two reasons:
1. She didn’t get any exercise
2. She didn’t poop (which she normally does on the morning walk). She’s tethered in our office now, content to sleep away in her bed.
Lot’s to work on, I know. Rachel tells me to head out on my next walk with clicker and treat ready.