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Instinct Is Still Intact

Our dog, Zip, has been full of challenges.   Most of them come from his previous life as a puppy companion to an older woman.   He ended up in the shelter when the woman could no longer stay in her home and family could not keep her dear pets.

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Zip loves laying in the lush grass over the septic field.

Read between the lines, and you know what things Zip never learned.   Zip’s main purpose in life was to sit on her owner’s lap and be the center of her world.   We suspect his owner wasn’t very mobile  and because of that  he wasn’t house trained until he learned it here. He had never experienced grass before us. To this day he likes to walk and lay in lush Iowa green grass and hates prickly cured Montana dry grasses.   He isn’t crazy about snow and absolutely hates rain.   He can hold it for hours rather than go outside in even a light drizzle.   We have learned that we just pick him up and carry him out to a spot because he likely will never choose to go outside instead he will explode.  He will go on walks, but he is the first dog  that we have had that is not passionate about them.  He is not a dog who loves to train with me or gets me out when I don’t want to go.   We don’t tell him this out loud, but we think he is a pansy dog.

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He hates walking through even a little water on the road.

Today he fooled us.   His terrier instinct kicked in and he was on the hunt for some ground burrowing animal that has turned up in our yard.   We have not see what is making all these holes, but Zip was out there in the hottest sun of the day digging for all he was worth.  He was dirty from digging with his front feet and tossing with his rear feet.  His feet were digging through not only soil but also rocks and roots.  Some how I imagine that was harder on his feet than the dry grass.    His head was down in the hole, snorting in a highly unimaginable fashion before today.   His nose was mud caked from sniffing out his imagined prey.  It was fun to see him having fun doing something outside.

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This is fun and I know how to do it.   How’d I know how to do this, my humans have not tried to teach me this?

So we now ask ourselves nature or nurture?   When does it kick in?

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It was fun to see him enjoying himself doing something so dog.

Holiday Weekend – No Plans

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It is a hot day, but there is a little breeze that makes the temperatures feel quite nice.

RangerSir’s occupation means that he works the all the summer holidays, because on the holidays  it is all hands on deck and everyone is out in the field with the increased visitors.  Folks always act disheartened when they ask me about holiday plans and I claim none because of he is working.    For me it is quite the opposite, it is a long weekend were I have no plans except of my choosing.   I usually pick to stay home and do whatever possesses me.   Working up to this holiday we had company for over a week followed by a summer cold that had me off of work for several days.   I am still hacking a bit with a cough that hangs on  so I am hanging around the house.   All the chores and housework are done or will wait until after the holiday.   Instead I am taking walks, cooking, writing, spending some time in my studio, reading and I am even thinking a summer time nap in the hammock may be in order.    Sounds like a perfect summer holiday to me.

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Zip is napping.

Cold to the Bones

Sometimes I just feel cold to the very core of my being.   I call that being cold the the bones.    I have been having a lot of that lately with lots of wind and subzero temperatures.  Our new dog has no undercoat and I suspect that he can vouch for the feeling of cold I am talking about.   He has recently taken up sleeping as close to the propane stove as he can get.

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All I can think when I see that is lucky dog.  For a little while he has to be totally warm.

Zip is the Bottom of the Pack

In September we adopted/rescued Zip our dog.  Based on past experience with the pets we have had over the years, we knew it would be awhile as he and the cat sorted out their relationship.  We have watched at times unsure where this relationship was going.   This week it became clear how it was going to work.

Our cat was a ten-year-old rescue when we got her.   She had been in the shelter for six months and had no front claws. Corabelle was not a fountain of self confidence or assertiveness.   Her relationship with Harley, our previous dog, had been one of an quiet truce.   Neither acknowledged one another more than necessary and when they did it was usually with a snarky look.   CoraBelle did not have much use for dogs, and would prefer that they not be there, but would tolerate them if we insisted on one.

Zip had lived with a senior woman and two senior dogs before she passed away.   He had not lived with cats and by all accounts had a sedentary indoor lifestyle.    After living with us, he has decided that there should be some times of intense play and zipping around the house.   He has also shown interest in playing with the cat and  sleeping with the cat. Up to this point the cat is unsure why she should allow either of these.  To Zip the cat was his friend, who cared that she was a cat, she was an animal that was good enough for him.   We were not sure how this was all going to fit in with CoraBelle’s idea of life at home.

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But….but….but…that is my toy

This last week CoraBelle decided she was the top of the pecking order.   She decided  to hog the dog toys and making the dog watch as she slept on his toy stash.   Zip is fast enough he could have made his way and stole his toy back but instead he deferred to her.    I am guessing that she thought enough of this running around and she was going to a stop to it. Zip, though he had nothing to fear from a older clawless cat, gets it and has recognized her as the top of the pecking order in this house.  It appears that the cat has chosen to interact with this dog and by controlling the dog toys control the dog.    I can’t wait to see where else this takes them.

Learning to Walk

When we first got Zip he hated to go on walks.   It gave me pause because I picked my little terrier because of their energy level and my desire for another walking partner.  I have blogged previously about his lack of outdoor experience and it turned out that this was part of the problem.   He really did not know how to walk.   When he walked his legs went every which way.   They did not move in conjunction with one another. He spent untold amounts of energy in forward momentum.

He has now learned how to walk.   He has found his rhythm.  Now he begs to go on multiple walks each day.   I have found my walk partner.

He wants to know why we have stopped.

He wants to know why we have stopped.

Life With a New Dog – Housetraining

This past month has been full of triumphs and amazing awakenings for us  with our new dog, Zip.   He came from a pound after he was turned in when his frail older owner passed away.   We were unsure what we were getting into but once we had decided to take him we knew that this first month would be a learning process for both him and us.  It has been much more time consuming than we had experienced before when we adopted a shelter dog.  Each dog before Zip has had a set of adjustment and learning curves, but Zip’s are for the most part things we have not experienced before.

The best we could tell Zip was a 100% indoor dog before he came to our house. This was a first for us.  He was startled when he walked on grass the first time. He walked funny, because the grass to him felt funny.   Fortunately he quickly learned that he loved the outdoors and would gladly go outside and flop down in the grass.

Zip loves the outdoors and isn't sure how he lived without it in his previous life.

Zip loves the outdoors and isn’t sure how he lived without it in his previous life.

I am going to repeat the observation, Zip was a 100% indoor dog before he came to our house.   We did not have to figure out how to show him where our door to go outside was.    We did not have to figure out the magic word to tell him it was time to take care of business.   All of this was because, it quickly became apparent that he was worse than not house trained, he was indoor trained.   We kept logs of all input and output trying to figure out his schedule so we could beat him to an “accident”.  We used the crate and the umbilical method both which had worked with past dogs who had been house trained but need a brush up when they arrived at their new home.  He had no idea about either method and fought them both.  We would sit outside, tried walks, and even the  in/out only for the toilet method trying to help him get the gist of what we were asking.   No matter what we did, he refused to do anything and then he would immediately perform when we gave up and took him inside.   Each time he would  wag his tail and if he could he was smiling as though he was doing the right thing.   It was almost laughable if it wasn’t so wrong.  Recognizing the problem I first tried the puppy pads thinking if he used those and then I put them outside he would get the idea.   He did not use puppy pads in his past life either.  If he had a choice between doing it inside on the pad or the floor.   The floor always won.    This was how he was trained.

Zip is now well on his way to being trained.  Our combination of scheduling, umbilical and crating had him, not giving up was the key to our success.  His original schedule required hourly stops and nightly runs.   He now can go for longer periods of time including the whole night.  We are trying to figure out how to get him to ask to to out.   When he sits at the top of the stairs and then heads down when everyone is active upstairs it is a sign he his heading for the door.   He will wait a few minutes for you. You need to notice that he has gone to the door, because the clock is ticking.   So far it is working, with no accidents in the past week.   Now we really want him to learn to bark or something so we notice that he needs attention.  Only once have successfully taught a dog to bark on command and then to go outside, so odds are not in our favor, but we know things could be much worse.

Another Life Change

My last day of my summer job we learned we were going to have to put down our dog Harley.   We had adopted him from a rescue shelter as an adult.  We soon figured out he had been abused, but it would be a long time before we heard via the local grapevine how terrible his abuse.  It was reflected in some of his behaviors, that we we could never convince him to let go of.   All this aside he was a great little companion in our family.   I worked from home all but the last three months of his life, so we were constant buddies.   Yet when RangerSir got home each night he followed him around and tried to make up for the time they did not have together while he made money to buy dog food.  Harley was a little Cairn Terrier (think Toto), and his terrier attitude and energy level made him a perfect match for our household.   He was the world’s best hiking partner, tireless but alert.  As a Cairn he should have seen anything that was small and darted as prey, but he was the protector of baby chicks and our adult flock.   Never made sense, but it was a role he took seriously.  He fit into our lifestyle, energy when he needed and quiet when we were.   He was our pet, a member of our family.  He is gone now, but he will always hold a special place in our heart.

One of my favorite pictures of Harley doing what he loved sitting up on a rock looking out on the world.

One of my favorite pictures of Harley doing what he loved sitting up on a rock looking out on the world.

After we put him down we had a hole in our hearts but we were not sure if or when we would want another dog. We started to look at the local shelters and the online shelter pages after about a month.  Sometimes thinking yes it was time and other times thinking not so sure, and if you are not so sure – you really aren’t ready.   It is hard to know if and when you are ready.

We talked about the four dogs we had owned in the 35 years we have been married    We were honest about their quirks, good traits and the bad traits.   Our next dog could take us into our 70’s easily and so as we thought about the things we wanted in our next dog, some things were negotiable and others nonnegotiable. We were getting closer to making a commitment to a pet for their lifetime.

Five weeks later we were fairly certain we had found a match.  We had found this dog from an online shelter notice. We had asked lots of questions and RangerSir and I had discussed his pros and cons. Sunday we drove nearly four hours to a shelter to meet this dog and see if when we met him it was a match.   We are now the owners of another rescue dog.   He is a teenager mixed breed, likely of Cairn origin.

I am sure that we will do some pet posting on the blog as we move along the continuum of learning about this dog and his quirks.   There are sure to be lots of bumps in the highway and some long learning curves for all of us.  In spite of it all pets bring so much to our lives that years from now we will only remember a few of the challenges that come with a new pet, Zip.

Our new teenager, Zip.

Our new teenager, Zip.