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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Adventures with odor 1

Back to K9 nosework classes with Treasure!  It’s been awhile since we were at class.  We’ve been working on our own, pairing birch odor with food, and some odor by itself.  It was nice to be back at class.  Treasure recognized where she was.  I love to watch her working an odor.  It’s neat to watch any dog searching, but my other dogs use a combination of their noses and their eyes to search, looking for new nooks and crannies that may hold hidden surprises.  Treasure works strictly with her sense of smell, so visual things don’t distract her away from her course.  She follows the air currents as the scent drifts to and fro creating for her a road map to the hide. 
It’s as if she’s doing a dance.  Unscripted, with no plan, yet at the same time every move is perfectly executed as her nose moves her body through space to the prize.  She doesn’t totally look for the only the odor yet, as is seen when there are other distracting food smells in the area that pull her off track from where she is looking.  If she really understood that the odor was the target, she would have realized that the other food smells were not going to pay off.  Instead she kept bouncing her nose off the ring gates, trying to get to the food smells coming from outside the ring.  Something to work on. 
I need to work more with boxes again.  I’ve gotten lazy, since it really doesn’t matter what container I put Treasure’s hide in … she can’t see it.  But I need to start putting the hide into closed boxes again.  I haven’t done that for awhile.  We learned some new tips for getting our dogs to point out specifically where the odor was hidden, and to help them learn to be more persistent once they get to the hide.  This is why I like class – it always gives me new ideas to work on!  Happy sniffing!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Diapers, and Booties, and Cones – OH MY!

Part Two.  So Jazzy and I were relieved not to deal with diapers anymore.  But … yesterday little Jasmine got spayed.  The vet was fairly sure of himself that Jazzy wouldn’t need the cone I brought with me when I went to pick her up.  He said it was ok if she licked her incision.  Since there were no sutures to rip out, she wouldn’t cause any harm. 
But Jazzy also had her rear dewclaws removed and that meant that both of her back legs had bright green bandages on them.  And everyone knows that sheltie puppies LOVE to destroy and eat bright green bandages!  I had visions in my head of getting home only to find a crate full of bright green and fluffy padding, and Jazzy hiding gleefully underneath!  But there was something else – something I hadn’t yet thought about.  The vet was kind enough to point out to me that those bandages needed to be kept dry.  We had just gotten several inches of ice and snow over the weekend.  To top it all off, it was very warm today, which was quickly melting the snow into pools and ponds of water everywhere I looked.  AND, it had also been raining all day!  Imagine my luck!
Thinking back to the diaper fiasco, I chuckled to myself.  How would I ever get her feet wrapped in plastic baggies and get them to stay on her feet while I walked Jasmine in the swamp that had once been my yard?
Back to that good old dog supply box!  I was pretty sure I had a set of small dog booties in there somewhere.  Luckily Jasmine was still groggy enough that she slept in the car while I found them.  Still groggy and sore, she made a valiant attempt to kick off the boots as I tried to make them tight enough to stay on her feet without hurting her incisions.  I carried her to the highest part of the swamp (I mean yard) to keep her as dry as possible. 

I decided to leave the boots on her all evening until after her last trip outside for the night.  I figured if she started to feel better I may have a bigger struggle on my hands to get them back on her, and I knew she would need many trips outside still before bedtime.  At first all she did was sleep.  But a few hours later, as bedtime was getting closer, she started to feel better and I saw Jazzy sitting crooked on one hip.  Looking closer, I saw her other back leg was held precariously in the air while she chewed and tore at the boot!  And then the other boot!  Uh oh.  She was after those bright green bandages, I just knew it!  Well, I told myself, at least she is starting to feel better.
And so, much to Jasmine’s chagrin, she now had to wear … THE CONE!  Having some experience with dogs wearing cones, I decided to put the soft cone on Jazzy to spare her the constant jarring as she ran into furniture and walls.  It was good that I did.  She rubbed her head and the cone up against everything, trying to scrape it off.  She succeeded in pushing it out of her face while rubbing, only to have it bounce back into shape, encompassing her head and face, as soon as she stopped.  Jazzy has a small head, and even smaller eyes, so it was hard for her to see much of anything. 

I sat with her for quite a while to get her settled.  If I was directly in front of her, she licked me and seemed content, but as soon as she turned her head and lost sight of me, she began searching again.  She couldn’t see me past the cone.  Once she realized I was still there, she settled down and went back to sleep.  She had to wear the cone in her crate all night to prevent her from giving in to the temptation of bright green bandages!  She’ll have to wear the cone for a few days until the bandages can come off.  I know Jasmine will be SO happy to get all these weird things off her!  She’s been a real trooper through it all and it’s a good thing she has such a great bounce-back temperament!  Nothing’s really had more than a temporary effect on her. 
It will be nice for things to finally get back to normal around here!  … Whatever normal is! 

Runs with Diapers

I’m writing this and the next post at Jazzy’s prompting. She can’t believe all the crazy things I’ve made her wear over the past month!
Several weeks ago, Jasmine got a urinary infection.  It seemed like all I did was clean up dribbles of urine.  The fact that she had been pretty close to housetrained really flew right out the window!  That is, until I found that pair of little denim doggie pants that I had packed away in the dog supply box.  I just knew I would have another need for them one day!  But I only had one pair of pants, so the problem remained that when one pair was wet or being washed, there was nothing else to put on her. 

To solve that problem, a co-worker of mine sent me home with a package of disposable doggie diapers in pretty patterns of pink checkers and polka dots – who knew there was such a thing?!   But it was now, that my adventures truly began …
Anyone who has tried to put a diaper on a wiggly toddler single-handedly has had an easier job than I had!  Picture this – One excited puppy racing in from the back yard, ready to run and wrestle with the other dogs; one person, standing all alone, poised to catch said puppy with one hand while shaking open the diaper with the other.  I catch her easy enough, but I quickly realize that I need many more than two hands to accomplish this task.  Thinking that I can stabilize Jasmine and hold her still with my legs while my hands manipulate the diaper, I put her between my legs and try to hold her still with my calves.  With my free hand I make several attempts to poke her wagging tail through the small hole in the back of the diaper.  By the time I get the tail poked through the hole, Jazzy has managed to contort herself and is now lying upside down between my feet.  Her tail is back out of the diaper and is wagging wildly from side to side while she tries to escape.  What a grand new game I have invented for her!
I lift her up into a standing position once again and reposition her between my legs with her head facing behind me.  This gives me a clear view and easy (?) access to her tail.  Whether it’s because she is deaf and can’t hear me, or she can’t see just exactly what my hands are doing to her rear end, or maybe just because she’s a puppy – we repeat this wiggling scenario several times before I get it right!  Jazzy is having the time of her life, wiggling and leaping, trying to spin between my legs.  I really need to start working on my calf muscles!
Tails make great handles, and when I finally got the tail through the tail hole for the third time, I grabbed her tail – thus preventing it from being pulled back out.  My other hand can now pull the rest of the diaper down between her rear legs to her belly.  Now what?  My hands are both busy, as are my legs.  Jazzy is still wiggly, although not quite as badly as before.  She’s now entertaining herself with grabbing and shaking the back of my pant legs with her teeth.
By removing my hand from her tail and sliding it to hold the upper part of the diaper on her back, I now have one hand on the top and one on the bottom – AND – the tail is still in the tail hole!  The other dogs are all gathered around, curious as to what this new game entails and staring in disbelief!  I have no free hands to shoo their curious noses out of the way. 
I’m finally able to maneuver my hands to attach one side of the diaper flaps, then the other!  One final last-minute adjustment to make sure both sides are even and I release the bucking bronco Jasmine from my grasp.  I breathe a deep sigh of relief, proud of myself for my success. I don’t remember diapering to be an Olympic sport, but perhaps it should be! 
Back to Jasmine.  Jasmine leaped from my grasp, tearing off into the living room!  Freedom!  Freedom at last!  I see some puppy zoomies coming on.  When suddenly she begins spinning in tight circles, like a child’s top, across the floor, trying desperately to grasp the strange paper product that has attached itself to her rear end!  I’ve never seen anything like it.  She is running straight ahead, but the whole time she is spinning and reaching for the diaper.  She can almost reach it, but it is hanging on to her for dear life!  She rolls on the floor, she bucks, she jumps, she runs.  She even stops and play bows, and then circles the other way, but that paper is stuck to her for good.  It is not coming off.
I’m happy to say that each time got easier and Jasmine became cooperative and comfortable wearing her diapers.  And I’m VERY happy to say that she only had to wear them for a couple days until the medications kicked in and the peeing stopped!
Jazzy and I thought we were home free!  No more pants!  No more diapers!  No more tail holes!  Yippee …

Jasmine, AKA "Runs with Diapers"

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fun Things To Do

Fun things to do with your blind-deaf dog
© Debbie Bauer 2012
It’s easy for life to become the same old thing for a dog that is blind and deaf.  There is not the constant barrage of new sights and sounds to keep the dog interested and alert in the world around her.  At my house, our mealtimes always get Treasure’s attention with a new array of smells each time, but other than that, she will just find a quiet spot to lay and relax until something gets her attention.
It’s important with any dog to offer it new and varied things to do each day. It keeps the dog’s mind sharp and helps to keep her content.  Exercise is important for a dog’s physical body, but also for its mind.  Here are some things that Treasure finds interesting and exciting.
She loves food puzzles and toys!  I will often feed her meals in these.  We have a dog brick puzzle, which she likes.  She also likes her food ball and Kong wobbler toys.  Other food toys include Kongs and other rubber toys designed to put food inside...

To read the rest of this article, click here 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Double Merle Article

I'm planning to write a whole series of articles about double merle dogs this year.  Here is the newest one.

Things you need to know about double merle dogs
©Debbie Bauer 2012

Thank you for considering adopting a double merle dog! Here are some things that you may want to consider before adopting. This way you can make an educated decision as to whether the dog you are considering is a good match for your home.

Many double merle dogs may be deaf or hearing impaired to some degree. Hair cells in the inner ear need to have pigment in order for the dog to hear. Without pigment, the nerve endings do not develop properly and the dog will be deaf or partially deaf. Looking at the color on the dog’s ear is not an indicator. The inner ear cannot be seen by the naked eye. It is way down inside the ear canal. A dog can have a white outer ear but still be able to hear if the inner ear has pigment. It can also have a colored ear and be deaf.

Some people are afraid of adopting a deaf dog. They assume that the dog will startle easily and will be prone to biting. Deaf dogs adapt very well to their hearing loss. They learn routines and expectations in the home where they live. Yes, they can be startled by an unexpected touch. Hearing dogs startle from unexpected touches too, it is just harder to sneak up on a hearing dog without it knowing you are coming.

To read the rest of this article go to

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Please vote!

Please go vote for Treasure in this Super Dog Beauty Contest ... this week only!  Thanks!

Jasmine 4-5 months

It’s the stage of the funny ears!  Sheltie puppy ears are so funny, and Jazzy’s are no exception.  Sometimes they are both straight up.  Sometimes they are tipped perfectly.  Other times they are laying down heavy on the top of her head.  And still other times, they are each doing something different from the other!  She looks leggy as she is growing in spurts now.  And she is losing her puppy teeth.
Jasmine is doing well with housetraining again now that her UTI has cleared up.  She will run wildly to the door when she needs to go, but I have to hurry to be right behind her because she can’t always hold it once she gets there!  But she makes the effort.  For the most part she goes out on everyone else’s schedule now.  She really fits in comfortably here.  She knows the routine. 
She enjoys her lesson time each evening.  She knows the sit signal very well and will actually offer sits for anything and everything she wants, even without a signal!  It’s really cute to see her plop her butt down on the floor and wait for whatever it is that caught her attention.  She is doing much better with lying down.  That seemed to be a difficult concept for her for several weeks, but now she is doing it more fluidly – from a sit still.  She comes when I beckon and is learning to go out the door or into her crate when I point.  She went through another avoidance stage where she didn’t want me touching her collar, or even her for that matter, but that seems to have subsided.  We practice collar grabs every day for goodies.  She walks well on a leash and knows how to spin right and left.  Tonight she started to learn how to shake hands. 
As Jasmine is getting bigger, it makes her eyes look even smaller.  Sometimes it is very obvious that she can see, but I am seeing signs that perhaps her eyesight is getting worse.  She has been running head on into the open door on her way into the house, but I think she has now started to slow down and pay more attention.  She seems to lose track of the other dogs more easily when they are playing.  If Brinks jumps away from her when they are playing, she will stop and look all around for him, even if he is only a few feet away.  Then she goes off to find him, unless he comes back to her first.  Sometimes it seems like she is surprised when she approaches one of the dogs.  It seems to me like she thinks it is one dog, gets there, and is surprised when it is a different dog than who she thought it was!  I see this especially with Grace and Treasure who are both white and about the same size.  She seems to be able to pick out Brinks pretty easily if he is moving or close enough, but he is darker than everybody else. 
I notice her bumping into things the most when it is dark, or even in the evenings in the house with the lights on.  But it’s still darker with the lights on than it is during the day when the sun is out and the room is bright.  She can do steps in the daylight but she is a bit slow and likes for me to go first and then she follows me.  She is also starting to follow us much more closely, as in we can feel her walking almost on our heels.  Is this because she can see us better when she is very close?  This is a new behavior for her.
She is starting to jump up more now.  She jumps up on me, or the side of my chair, or puts her front feet onto the couch or coffee table.  So she is learning the sign for “off.”  I’m also starting to teach “leave it” because she is suddenly very interested in any food we may have nearby!  She is such a happy girl and I’ve made an effort to take her out and about with me to continue to let her meet people and dogs and to see new sights. 
I think Jazzy has been talking to Grace too much!  Keeping Jasmine clean is impossible!  She is so very white when she’s clean, but it doesn’t take her long after a bath to be dirty and muddy again.  She loves to run and roll around in the yard.  Right now it’s pretty easy to give her a bath because she’s small and has very little hair!  But one day soon she will have a full sheltie coat like Grace has, and it won’t be worth giving her a full bath every day …or several times each day! 
It’s fun to see her having fun out there though. She squints outside when it’s sunny.  She tends to stay to the shady parts of the yard when it’s bright out.  But the shady parts are also the parts where the ground does not dry up … hence the mud!  She loves to chase Brinks and Grace and they all wrestle and roll each other around.  She has learned to follow them through the big agility tunnel.  If they go slow enough she can keep up with them.  If not, she tends to follow them in, then gets lost, stops and slowly finds her way out.  Because it’s darker in there it might be harder for her to see.  But I’ve seen her wander in and out on her own too. 
Jasmine is just a joy.  It makes me smile to see her playing, or sleeping, or just chewing on a bone.  When I pick her up, she will poke the air near my face with her nose until she makes contact with me and then she will give me tiny little sheltie kisses.  Jazzy is growing up! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Reinforcing Fear?

This is an article I started writing awhile ago, but just got around to finishing ...

Reinforcing Fear?

There’s an ongoing debate as to whether it’s possible to reinforce your dog’s fear or not. It has long been suggested that people don’t coddle and make a fuss over a dog that is afraid of something or someone. The thought behind that is the dog will enjoy the attention and will think that we want it to be afraid. That the attention we are paying to the dog may be interpreted as praise or reinforcement.

Fear is an emotion, not a behavior. Your dog can choose to perform certain behaviors. She cannot consciously choose to be afraid or not afraid of something. I have a very fearful dog I am fostering right now. She is very afraid of me. I can feed her the best treats in the world, but it does not erase her fear of me. In fact, she is often very conflicted when trying to overcome her fear to come take the food from somewhere near me. Over time, her fear is lessening. If the food was reinforcing her fear, I should be seeing her fear of me increase, not decrease.

To read the rest of the article, click here ...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Make A Change

Jasmine 4 months

A new year has begun!  A year full of possibilities; of excitement; of great things yet to come!  I found this marvelous quote that I wanted to post for the new year.  I resolve to keep this quote handy where I can read it and live it every day.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch,
a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest
compliment, or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around."

~Leo Buscaglia

Whose life have you touched today?