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.

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.

What A Difference A Day Makes

Today was a polar opposite to yesterday.   Yesterday was nothing short of miserable.  I did get out and walk, but wore hiking boots in the snow and slush and left the dog at home.   Our dog is  too close to the ground and too old to be walking in the miserable cold.   Today he was once again walking with me in the Montana sunshine. harleytrains

Harley is our Cairn Terrier and he walks regularly with me.   He is a tireless terrier and still sets the pace for our walks even though he is 11 years old.   We are in training for him to once again do the Tails on the Trails 5K though he already does three miles easily currently, so the training is really a moot point.      Last year it rained and snowed on us, but we finished in record time  This year’s walk is on the 9th so who knows Harley may set a new personal best again this year while raising money for dogs and cats still looking for their forever home.

Tender Heart

Everyone has things that bring out their tender heart.   For me it is senior animals in shelters.   I wish I could bring them all home.  It breaks my heart to see them there.

I have a dog that was eight and a cat that was ten when they were turned into the shelter.   Their stories are like so many others who should being enjoying their golden years, instead are uprooted from the only home they have known and sent to a shelter environment.   Our dog only spent a few weeks in the shelter, unfortunately our cat spent over half a year before we adopted her.

Senior pets are often slow to be adopted because folks are generally attracted to those young cute kittens and puppies.   Most senior pets have some basic skills and likely a couple bad habits as well.  What is unique about the senior pet is that they are very anxious to please and forever grateful when rescue them.   They will forever be thankful to you for picking them.   This gratitude makes them much easier to train and teach them the rules of your home.

Now that I have more time of my own I find myself stopping at the local shelter volunteering  and spending time with the animals there.  I know I can’t take them home, but I can make their time at the shelter a little less lonely.  Sooner or later a senior lover like me will find them and take them to their forever home.

I just learned that November is adopt a senior pet month….how cool is that.

 

And You Wonder Why- Shithead Dog Owners

I tried to think of some other title for this posting, but somehow this seem to be the only thing that fit. I apologize if I have offended you, but I really think it is the best I can do.

I just returned from a week long holiday.    For the first time ever we took our dog rather than board him.   It was an enlightening experience.   The add on fees for places to bring your dog ran the whole gamut, from just a little extra to fees that altered what we would do and where we would go.   I could understand this after all my dog is not perfect, no far from it, but I do think I am a responsible pet owner.  I did wonder why there were not add on fees for kids because I suspect that they can do as much damage as some dogs and there are many more of them that travel.

My dog is a house dog and yes he his allowed on the furniture (track dirt that is in his toes).   He barks at folks who walk by our car and when we are home barks at strangers who pull in the drive.   That is the downside.   The upside is he sleeps in a crate, and goes in there when we are away.   He is low to the ground and stands by the door to be dried off and paws cleaned when it is damp out.   He doesn’t bark when left home alone in the crate.   That is the upside.

Having never traveled with a dog before I spent some dough decking him out to make traveling with him easier.   The first thing I got him was a travel crate.   I had planned to collapse his home crate and take it along until I saw the travel crate, then I knew he did not care but I had to have one for this week on the road. It was lots like the collapsing lawn chairs with the bags you sling over your shoulder.  Of course we put his wool blanket from home in it. What was so interesting is that in the evening our dog heads to his crate long before we head to bed and with this one we found the same to be true when we were on the road.  He quickly figured out it was his safe place just like home.  It was a safe consistent place that he knew, no matter if it was a hotel on the road for a night or a house for the week.   Thousands of people will argue against crates and I will continue to argue that it is like a den that canine in the wild seek out.   You are feeding your domestic dog’s wild side.

It folds up like lawn chairs and works great if your dog is used to being crated. If your dog hasn’t already been trained to be in a crate I am sure they would rip their way out in 10 minutes tops.

I also decked myself out with a poop gather for walks since I did not do it at home since he had nearly 25 acres and he choose to do it out of what would be considered the lawn here at home.  One of the advantages of having a country dog. My contraption hooked on the dog leash, dispensed bags and even had a pouch to hold the full nasty until I got to a place to throw them out.    Nothing I hate worse than seeing dog poo that has not been picked up.    (Now you understand my blog title).   I know my dog his healthy and even though picking up dog poo is not my idea of a nice time, I know he is vaccinated, healthy and does not have worms or other intestinal nasties.   I can’t same the same for anyone who is so ignorant they don’t think that they have to pick up after their dog.   If they are that stupid about that simple responsibility, who knows how much more stupid they are about responsibilities that cost money like veterinary care. I was absolutely flabbergasted that the hotel and other places furnished bags and special waste cans and still people were so stupid and lazy as to not pick up after they dogs.   RangerSir was sure I was going to get decked each time a dog owner would walk away from a pile and I would call after them and say hey there are bags there pick up after your dog.    Stupid, lazy dog owners allowed their dogs to poop everywhere and I suddenly knew why the fees…at least most children are potty trained.   Children must toilet train themselves , because obviously if they had to depend on their parents many would never learn if devoted dog owners are any indication.

Now how stupid or lazy can you be? I sure found out on this trip.

It worked out well taking the dog along.   He went with us many times and stayed home in his crate when we didn’t want to take him along, no different than home.    We included him on the daily walks on the beach and we left him home when we explored towns.   He spent his day sitting between the seats watching where we were going in the rig.   When he got tired of that he would curl up and sleep until we got to our  destination. It was a vacation for him and us.   I would repeat taking a dog a long, it worked great for us, but was an eye opener as well.

 

Pissing Match ~ Dog Vs. Fox

On of the common phrases in the American vernacular is phrase pissing match.  It is one of my favorites to use to describe when that contest of wills kicks in between two parties, most often men.   Recently I have been reminded of how this phrase may have come into being in a very primal way by my dog.

One of my local foxes.

One of my local foxes.

Ten of the last 12 years we have had a family of foxes have their kits on our property.   It seems that the family of foxes is back again this year right on time.   The foxes have been busy scouting out the chickens and marking their territory in our pasture and yard.   Our dog, Harley, though likely no match for Mr. & Mrs. Fox, is out there squatting the same place the Fox Family left their mark.      He is determined to make sure his is the last calling card in the pissing match between the fox and the dog.

This dog Vs. fox pissing match has resulted in some restrictions on Harley.    He suddenly has gone from a dog who has free range to a dog who is on a leash and to a dog who  has an owner with him at all times.    He desire to remark everything has made he travel too far from home, have complete disregard for commands and in general practice reckless behavior.    A Cairn Terrier is likely no match for a single fox, let alone two.    It has become a burden to us  because we no longer can open the door and let him out.   Now every time he goes out it is a twosome effort and we have to  leash him up as well.  In so many ways this pissing match has so many of the same characteristics that we humans demonstrate when we get into pissing matches.   We get so caught up in the one-up-manship and having the last word that we don’t think about is this really right or worth the effort.  Pissing matches often impact others on the periphery of those who get caught up in pissing matches.    I always thought pissing matches were testosterone gone awry, but I have decided that hormones may have a part in all this, but more likely this is more about our animal instincts resurfacing.