Sunday, June 13, 2021

A Marmaduke wannabe

 In the Sunday comics section of the local newspaper, Marmaduke, a Great Dane, famously buries (and digs up) bones in his back yard. I always thought bone-burying dog behavior was an exaggeration exploited for the funny papers.

It is not.

Katie does the same thing.

We noticed this behavior several weeks ago. I had given Katie a hard-chew  that was shaped like a bone. After gnawing on it for a while, she picked it up and carried it outside with her. She then explored all of the flower beds to find an appropriate place to bury it.

Jim and I both chuckled over this, and didn’t pay too much attention to what she was doing or how she was doing it. But over the weeks, we have continued to watch her and enjoy her treasure-hunting/retrieval.

Just like cartoon canines, Katie sniffs around until she finds her bone (the same one she originally buried). Once she locates it, she exhumes it, takes it in her mouth, and scurries around the yard to scout out another appropriate internment. She will stop, try the soil, and go to another site if the dirt is too hard or if there are too many tree roots with which to contend until she finds the perfect burial ground.

Once she has found the right spot, he uses her front paws to dig a hole deep enough to entomb her treasure. Then she plops the bone into the hole and proceeds to cover it up—not with her paws, but with her snout! (We always know when she has buried a bone: She snorts to get rid of the dust in her nostrils!)

Here is a short video:


Not every treasure gets buried outdoors, of course. Some get buried in the house. I gave her a commercially purchased four-inch long beef bone filled with a peanut-butter concoction. After licking out as much of the “marrow” as she could, she repeatedly has carried the bone around the house until she finds an appropriate grave. I have found the bone hidden in a corner and under the couch, and concealed under some pillows on the couch. She keeps very busy safeguarding her cache.

Surprisingly, Katie does not bury real bones. When we have treated her to the remnants of our barbecued ribs, she enjoys chewing for every bit of leftover meat, grist, and marrow. Then she walks away from them. No burying attempts.

Katie, you are puzzling; you are amazing.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant ROVER,

Linda

  

Monday, May 24, 2021

Sit Happens

Even before we adopted Katie, we had decided that we would invest in hiring a trainer once we acquired a dog, if only to reinforce basic commands. The question was, “Which trainer?”

Most pet stores offer some type of group dog training, which would be the most economical, but we quickly realized that Katie would not respond to that training: She was afraid of strangers as well as other dogs and would virtually freeze. Even if she got comfortable in the training situation, she did not respond to treats. She had never had treats as a breeder dog.

One of the people at our vet’s office recommended Sit Happens dog training company. Danny, a representative from the company, came to our house to explain the company’s philosophies, show off its successes, explain how the training worked, and observe Katie.


Danny said Katie’s disinterest in treats was not a problem; Sit Happens recommends using an electronic collar for training. The pulse does not hurt the dog, but the dog responds well (and quickly) to it. We agreed this type of training would be appropriate for Katie, and agreed to purchase the collar. We then debated if we should buy the three-lesson or five-lesson package. (The five-lesson package included lifetime reinforcement training, if needed.) Naturally, we expected Danny to recommend the more costly five-lesson package.

After observing Katie, though, he said, “I don’t think you’ll need the five-lesson package.” He was right; we barely needed the three lessons we bought, because Katie is a quick learner—and because I was committed to do the practicing required. After two lessons she was doing three basic commands: “Katie, come,” “Katie, sit,” and “Katie, place.” (This last one tells her to stay in her bed or her “place” in the living room.) She also quickly learned, “Katie, stay,” although she doesn’t always stay as long as I would like her to. We’re working on that, however.

One of the things our trainer Michele did not have to teach Katie was to stop barking at and jumping on strangers. Once in a while (not always) she will bark when someone comes to the door, but she hushes quickly at my command. And she does not jump on people. Although Michele did not have to teach Katie restraint with strangers, she did have to teach her something that most dogs do instinctively—to jump up onto furniture! Unlike any other dog I have ever known, Katie did not know how to jump on the couch or a chair. Michele showed us how to train her to “up.” After some reluctance, Katie learned and discovered it was fun to jump up!


During those first weeks of training, I diligently worked with Katie on her commands several times a day. As she was learning to obey, Katie decided that our training times were play times. Consequently, whenever she wants to play, she demands going through our training routine, especially the “Katie, up!” command. (Interestingly, she rarely jumps up on the couch or a chair on her own, only when we tell her to.) And when I decide play time needs to end, I command her to “Katie, place” and go to her spot in the living room, where she sits and gets quiet.

I no longer need the collar to make her obey. She can even be out in the front yard without a leash, when we are out there.

The training was expensive, but it was well worth its cost. Sit, does in fact, happen.

Until next time,

 

Your Reluctant ROVER,

Linda

Sunday, May 2, 2021

An Awesome Dog, Despite Her Beginnings

Before adopting Katie, our rescued Bichon Frise, who was raised as a breeder, I had had only two exposures to dog breeding. The first was about 50 years ago. Our next-door neighbor had purchased an English Sheepdog, a big, beautiful, gentle animal with a full, bushy coat. She was a pet, but the neighbor also intended to breed her and sell the pups. I don’t know if he ever did, since we moved out of the neighborhood before she was bred.

Fast forward to last year: We were storing our truck camper in the backyard of a lady who bred dachshunds. At that time she had a female wiener dog and five offspring. The female was her pet, and I believe she intended to keep most (if not all) of the current litter. She raised the dogs with love and kindness, because they were her friends first and an income source second.

Periodically I had read about puppy mills; there are many in the rural areas of Florida and southern Georgia. These animal farms breed for profit, at the cost of humane care for the dogs. Females in puppy mills are forced to reproduce each time they are in heat, until they can no longer bear. The dogs live in tiny cages, receive little care or exercise, and have no interaction with people. Often their cages are filthy, and they lie in their own excrement.

According to the Humane Society, most dogs sold in pet stores or online are bred in such deplorable conditions.

Katie was raised to breed, but she did not come from a puppy mill. The “dog lady” (the head of Wags-Rescue, in Jesup, Ga.) said she had developed a unique relationship with a local breeder, who had approached her to adopt out dogs when they reached the end of their breeding—five years. The dog lady said the breeder had a dedicated barn in which she raised many different types of dogs. Each dog had its own kennel as well as a dog run and was able to exercise. All of the dogs, male and female, received regular shots and veterinary care. The dog lady had inspected the breeder’s establishment and was satisfied that although the dogs were not pets, they were cared clean, manicured, and cared for. Consequently, she often had purebreds available for adoption.

A very scared Katie, the day we picked her up from the adoption agency.

A key phrase in this description is “not pets.” I didn’t realize the implication of that phrase until we brought Katie home.

On the drive home, I held her on my lap; she trembled the entire two-hour ride to her forever home. Car rides were foreign to her. At home, she quickly learned where her water and food bowls were. And she acclimated to her new bed in our room.

But she had no social skills, actually no “dog” skills either.

You know how dogs are naturally curious and chase squirrels and anything else that moves? She didn’t. I don’t know if she had ever been exposed to a squirrel or a lizard (or even other dogs, except for male breeders), since her life had been limited to a dog run. It was a couple weeks before she was willing to take a walk on a leash. (During the first attempt at a walk, she froze after about 25 feet. I had to pick her up and carry her home.)

For weeks when we took walks, she would stop abruptly whenever she saw another dog, cat, or human being. She would refuse to move until the “creature” went away. 

Fortunately, Katie is learning how to be a "real" dog. I am happy to say that now she is not spooked as often by human beings who are out taking a stroll or bicycling the neighborhood, and although she still goes on alert when she sees another dog, she is willing to passively make friends with it.

She loves to be outdoors, but she still does not venture out on her own, despite our encouraging her by keeping the back door open to our fenced-in yard. Freedom is apparently a learned thing.  

As time passes, however, Katie is gradually coming out of her shell, and her personality shines. My husband said it best: “She is an awesome dog.” More about that later.

Until then,

 

Your Reluctant ROVER
Linda

 

 

 

 

 

   

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Dog Decisions

This past winter I caught the “dog bug”—that undeniable urge to adopt a small dog. The bug started small, but intensified as Jim and I began to take weekly (sometimes more often) trips down to the Jacksonville Humane Society.

Almost every time we visited, we would see one or two excellent candidates for adoption—the only problem was that they were already adopted! One day, though, I looked on the Humane Society’s website and saw a small dog that appealed to me. She seemed to be a Yorkie-mix. Usually any small dog pictured on the website was already adopted by the time we visited, but this time, the pooch was still there, homeless.

We couldn’t get a good look at her, since she was lying in her bed and did not get up to greet us, but we decided to inquire about her. The Human Society adoption counselor told us that the dog was a senior. She had just had dental surgery and would recover from that trauma, but she had an eye condition and would require constant care for the rest of her life. Adopting a dog in good health would be quite an adjustment; adopting one that required considerable care was more than I felt able to do. We decided she would not be a good fit for us. The counselor understood, but to help us adopt, she provided a list of local small-dog adoption agencies.

That night I started a search.

One link led to another, and I finally found petfinder.com, an adoption-agency aggregate, which allows you to search by zip code. I found a picture and description of a dog that appealed to me; I showed Jim, then I completed an application online.

Several days went by with no word from the agency. Finally, I received an e-mail saying the dog had been adopted. Darn!

I searched again. This time I found two different dogs and completed an application that included references. I said we would welcome either dog into our home. (Incidentally, my references were called!)

Several days later I received a phone call from the adoption “dog lady.” She said that those dogs were already adopted, but she thought we would make ideal “parents” for another dog. She then described a female Pekingese. I admitted that Pekingese was not a breed I had ever considered. We then talked some more, and she said she also had a male Shih Tzu. I warmed to the idea of a Shih Tzu. More talk, and she finally said she would have a female Bichon Frise within a week. I was familiar with Bichons. My sister Dawn had one many years ago. Her Bichon and my Poochi looked like brothers, at least from a distance.

The Pekingese 

Shih Tzu

Bichon Frise


All of these dogs were purebred. Purebred rescues? Yes! Several years ago, the dog lady explained, a breeder in her area had contacted her about adopting out dogs that were no longer going to be bred. The dogs were usually about five or six years old, both male and female. The breeder did not run a puppy mill, the dog lady explained. A personal visit to the breeding facility proved to her that the breeders were kept clean, healthy, and up-to-date on all shots.

The breeder was done working the Pekingese and Shih Tzu; thus, they were being put up for adoption. The Bichon was, too, but for a different reason: The 3-year-old Bichon had just aborted a litter. Consequently, the breeder would not use her again.

We discussed the pros and cons of each of these three breeds. The dog lady sent me pictures of all three and left it to me to make a decision about which I would like to have.

Each was cute as a button, but I leaned toward the Bichon: With her coloring and her curly coat, she reminded me most of my Poochi. And everything I read about Bichons said that they were affectionate and smart, although clingy. I decided on the Bichon. The dog lady told us we could pick her up in a few days, once she had recovered from being spayed. I could hardly wait.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant ROVER

Linda

 

 

 

 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Scam Alert!

Scam alert!

My dog Poochi died in 1993, but every time I see a Benji-dog with a poodle-ish face and blond coat, I feel the pang of his loss.

I had found him in a pet store when he was a tiny little pup, just weaned from his mama. He was not a smart dog. Some would say he was not even a cute dog. But he was my dog, a loyal companion who moved with me from Indiana to Louisiana, Texas, back to Indiana, then up to Michigan.   He was about 14 or 15 when old age caused kidney failure and numerous aches and pains. I knew when he began to cry in his sleep it was time to say good-bye.




 The cats (Charlie and Xena) I adopted when I moved to Florida filled a void created by the loss of Poochi, but despite my treating them like dogs, they were cats—aloof and independent. They tolerated some petting and occasionally sought some cuddling. But there was no way the cats could tug at my heart strings like my dog did.

Periodically Jim and I talked about getting a dog. He said it was entirely up to me to decide. About six months ago, after we sold our truck camper, I started to feel like it might be time. So, we started going to the Jacksonville Humane Society to check out their dogs. (We also went to the city’s dog pound. However, its location is distant from our house—not as convenient as the Human Society.)

The Humane Society separates small dogs from the big ones. I had my heart set on small lap dog, one that would resemble Poochi. I didn’t care about the gender or the breed, but I preferred one that would not shed and had a terrier-like face.

Several times when we visited, we saw dogs that met my criteria. The problem? They were already adopted. We were told we should come by immediately when the doors opened at 1 p.m. to get “first dibs.” We started doing that, to no avail. I suspect that the pandemic contributed to the paucity of lap dogs.

Frustrated, I started to check other digital sites: Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist.

I had seen postings on Nextdoor once or twice from neighbors who could no longer take care of their pet for one reason or another. I had not been ready for a dog when I had seen those postings. Unfortunately, now when I was ready, there were no postings. Facebook didn’t have any either.

Craigslist was a different matter.

I discovered a number of ads for “re-homing” pups. Few mentioned the actual cost of the re-homing fee. Were these fees actually breeder fees (which could be thousands of dollars for a purebred)? Or something reasonable? Curious, I decided to inquire. Every response I received was similar (almost verbatim) to this:

We are glad you are interested in our Yorkie Pups we have for adoption. We have one Male (MARKY)  and one Female  (MILKY) they are pure breed Yorkie  puppies, they are vet checked and will come with all necessary papers. The puppies are very playful and are all of absolute temperament as they also love playing with kids and other household  animals. They are 11 weeks old and are brother and sister. I am giving these pups out for an adoption with no adoption fee, this is because we just relocated to a non pets apartment and we can't keep them any longer. 

I will be very willing to give you these pups if you can promise me of never to sell them, also do get back to me with   answers of the few  questions below so i can have an idea of where our puppies will be going to;

-Have you owned a pet before?

- Do you have a vet doctor?

-where precisely are you located?

- Are you a breeder?

- will you take all or just one? if one what sex?

-Do you have pets loving children at home?

- Give me a Brief Description about your Environment?

-Will you take good care of the babies like your own children?

All I need is just a caring and loving home for our babies where they will be well loved and spoiled to rotten. Thanks and will be waiting to read from you again.

Hmm…This sounded too good to be true. I sent another e-mail, “Where are you located?” (Mind you, these were advertised as available in the Jacksonville area.)

The response:

Am so glad, after reading through your mails, you moved to the number one sport in my heart for potential adopters of my lil pups.
More details on their personality.

*** My Lil Girl Milky *
-she is not yet Spayed,
-she is house broken and potty trained,
-She eat 2 times daily,
-She is socialized with kids and other house hold pets especially Dogs,
-She likes to be carried a lot and be spoiled,
-She likes to be kissed and likes Licking your legs.

*** My Lil Boy Marky ***
-He is neutered,
-He eats 2 times a day,
-He is socialized with kids and other house hold pets especially Dogs,
-He likes to keep him self away from the crowd but is also socialized,
-He feels shy when carried,
-He also likes Licking.

My husband and I have decided to give out these puppies to any one who is ready to take good care of them and we are happy you are willing to do so for them. All we need from you is your love for the babies. I really wanted to meet with you so you can pick up the babies yourself but since you are not in our area and it's a distance of long hours drive on car. I don't know if you will make up the ride to come pick up today or tomorrow.

We just relocate some few days ago to TX here is our address: 9310 Salisbury Avenue Lubbock TX 79401

Better still if you can't make it up here, then a pets transportation company with a great team is located close to us here and they can be registered and will be home delivered to you in less than 24 hours. All you will have to do is pay the transportation fee so they will be home delivered to you right at your doorsteps. We are giving the pups for free since they were given to us as a birthday gift ( at just 6 weeks old) and all I want in return is just you to take care of them and send me monthly pictures so I can see their progress.

Did you catch the sentence, “All you will have to do is pay the transportation fee so they will be home delivered to you right at your doorsteps”?

Yeah, right. Craigslist had several postings similar to this one. I wonder if they were all written by the same scam artist.

Next time—how we found our sweet Katie.

Your Reluctant ROVER,

Linda

 


Sunday, April 4, 2021

Her Yippiness

 A few months after Mollie (our neighbors’ Yorkie) died, Tommy came over with handful of a surprise—a tiny Yorkie puppy, appropriately named Minnie. She is a miniature version of Mollie. He swears that getting Minnie was Joanne’s idea. Easy for her to want a puppy, he said, since she didn’t have to take care of it all day long. I think his complaints were hollow, though. It didn’t take much for him to fall in love with that tiny pup.

Minnie is a handful of energy.

Minnie is a cutie, who has enamored all of the neighbors. Whenever she is tied up outside and sees Jim or me coming out the front door, she starts yapping, demanding that we come visit and pet her. She is not satisfied until we do. With her constant barking, she could easily be dubbed "Her Yippiness."

She is definitely a sweetheart, but she is not Mollie, who could be demanding but not too much, especially in her last years. Molly was mellow. After playing for a few minutes, she would go lie down and let you go back to whatever you were doing. Minnie, on the other hand, is a 5-pound bundle of energy, who, despite her tiny size, thinks of herself as an alpha. God help any other dog that comes near her yard! I’ve seen her make 80-pound dogs cower before her! Even when she is in her fenced backyard, she somehow knows when someone (or some dog) walks by on the sidewalk or street. Her barking is relentless until the "danger" has passed.

Several years ago, Tommy and Joanne had asked us to take care of Mollie when they infrequently (perhaps twice a year) went out of town for a few days. I enjoyed Mollie’s company; it gave me my “dog fix.” So, when they planned to take a trip up to New Jersey to visit Joanne’s grandkids, Tommy asked if we would watch Minnie. Jim volunteered us (me). Taking Minnie's energy level into consideration, I was not sure if I was up to the task, but I agreed to dog-sit, provided Jim would help.

We never had the chance to take care of Minnie. Before going on their trip, Tommy and Joanne had to get tested for Covid. Unfortunately, Tommy tested positive, although he had no symptoms. Joanne was negative, but had to quarantine because of Tommy. The trip was cancelled.

I figured that once Tommy was healthy, they would reschedule the trip. They never had the opportunity. Joanne, who always appeared to be in good health, suffered a massive stroke and suddenly passed away. It was a shock that reminded us that each day we have is a gift that we should not squander . 

I think it is good that Tommy has Minnie to keep him company.

I don’t know when the yearning for a dog started—possibly around the time that Tommy got Minnie—but Jim and I started talking about adopting a dog. I had to convince myself I was ready.

But more on that next time.

Your Reluctant ROVER,

 

Linda

 

 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Getting My 'Dog-Fix'

 Poochi was my companion for about 15 years. 

I cried when I had to put him down, and for the longest time, every time that I saw a small dog that resembled Poochi, I would tear up. I really missed him. The cats were nice, but they were not dogs.

Several years ago, I think Jim realized I needed a periodic "dog-fix," so he volunteered me to take care of Mollie, our neighbor’s Yorkie, whenever they went out of town—just a couple times a year. Taking care of Mollie gave me a "fix" that would last me several months. (Getting a dog-fix is kind of like getting a grandkid-fix: You get to love them for a while, then leave them to their parents—the best of two worlds.)



Mollie was the cutest little thing—very small—and smart. And she loved to play. For example, when Jim and I were using our computers in the office (in other words, not paying any attention to her), she would come in and yap until we would say, “Go get your toy!” Away she would go to fetch a squeaky toy, with which she would play tug-of-war and fetch until she got tired.

She was a good dog, but she did have the habit of barking to get attention. At times I could quiet her down by holding her on my lap. Other times, by playing fetch with a toy. But it seemed that in the early evening, she just didn’t want to calm down. It took us a while to figure it out: By 7 p.m., Molly was ready to go to bed, and she wanted us to go to bed, too!

Tommy and Joanne, Mollie's parents, were early-to-bed/early-to-rise people. Joanne actually left for work about 5:30 a.m. to avoid traffic, going into the city and returning home. Since she got up so early, they went to bed early—very early. And so did Mollie.

Jim and I, on the other hand, don’t go to bed until 11 p.m. or later. Once Mollie figured that out, she gave up and receded to the bedroom and her bed without us.

One time when Tommy asked us to watch Molly we had already planned a camping trip in our RV. Tommy didn’t care if we took her camping, so we did. I think she loved the experience, since she was able to explore new sights and smells. She was even content when we left her in the camper while we went fishing.


Toward the last time we cared for Molly, we saw that she had become virtually blind with cataracts. She still found her way around OK, but age was definitely catching up to her. If she wandered off, she would get lost—not because she didn’t know her way home, but because she couldn’t see to find it.

Finally, about two years ago, old age finally paid its final calling card, and Molly left this world. I was sad to see her go. She had satisfied my dog craving for many years. Now what would I do?

Until later,

Your Reluctant ROVER,

Linda

A Marmaduke wannabe

 In the Sunday comics section of the local newspaper, Marmaduke, a Great Dane, famously buries (and digs up) bones in his back yard. I alway...