Tag Archives: Life with dogs

Boring Update

I don’t have much to say, but I knew it was time to write. I’ve been out of it, probably due to being unwell and a touch of depression. However, the biggest problem is I’ve been battling fleas. I’ve been fortunate enough that my infestation hasn’t been as bad as others’ (a neighbor told me that her grandchildren can’t even go in the backyard due to all of the fleas), but it’s annoying.

Good news, I’m on the verge of getting rid of the little vampires from my home once and for all. My intention this year is to keep up with flea treatment even after the fleas are gone, even on into the winter. Make them see that my home is not to be messed with.

Then there’s the mice. Outside of parasites like fleas and tick, I rarely declare war on another living creature, let alone another mammal. I’ve declared war on the mice. They are kind enough not to chew on any wires (knock on wood), but they have been known to make their home in inappropriate places–the shelf that my computer speakers are on and the paper tray of my printer. They climb up my stove and poop on my counters. After evading the live trap that I set out, I realized that the only way to get rid of these nuisances is to kill them. I hate killing mice, but they have driven me to this extreme.

As for the dogs, they’re wonderful. I recently moved Buddy’s crate to the utility room so he can stay in the same room as his sisters and that was the best thing I have ever done for Buddy. Prior to the move, he would wake up early in the morning crying because he was lonely. Now, he and the girls sleep in and I’m the one that has to drag them out of bed rather than the other way around. I’ve also noticed that the girls seem to enjoy him more now.

There’s a wonderful peace that has settled on my little mixed species family. Everything goes smoothly now. I can’t complain. I wouldn’t say my life is perfect in society’s sense, but as far as I’m concerned, my life is fairly perfect right.

Now if only I can rid myself of the fleas and mice…

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. What has everyone else been doing? Hope all is going well with you and yours.

Until next time, knock on some wood for me…


Happy Gotcha (Adoption) Day, Buddy

One year ago today, I brought Buddy (then Ferguson) home. He has since become the sweetheart of the family and the neighborhood. I’ve regretted some decisions in my life, but I have to say that Buddy is not one of them.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

It was my intention to take him to PetSmart and get him a new toy or something, but that never happened. Perhaps next week after he’s had a bath…

Until next time, don’t forget to celebrate the day that your human came into your life.

Note: I got the term “Gotcha Day” from the Disney series Jessie. That’s what they called the day they adopted each of their children.


Guilt and Severed Ties

Sometimes I feel guilty for some of the stupidest reasons.

Today I feel guilty for leaving my dogs outside. It’s a pretty day–not too hot and not too cold. The sun is warm and the patio is shady. Needless to say it is a lot nicer outside than it is inside, so I put the dogs outside and I feel guilty.

Stupid huh?

I remind myself that they’d just be in the way while I clean the house. I tell myself that it’s just an excuse. That my dogs need to be in the house because that’s what a good dog owner is supposed to do. Never mind the fact that most of the dogs prefer to be outside rather than inside.

I’ll get over it.

Now onto a more serious issue. Nia.

Nia is thriving at her new home and when I sent her there I thought I’d never see her again. Unfortunately, I see her more often than I thought I would. I realize I said “unfortunately.” It wasn’t unfortunate until a couple of weeks ago.

Nia’s new owner has a tendency to give Nia more freedom than she really should have. I’ve told him time and time again that until she listens to him that he shouldn’t allow her to be off leash when he’s busy working on his truck. He doesn’t listen and sometimes, while he’s distracted, she’ll wander into the road, or onto other people’s properties, or on up to my house.

One particular day I decided to walk Buddy and Molly to the park. We enjoyed a revival and eventually walked back home. I decided that I’d walk the other three so they could get some exercise too. On our way home, we met up with Nia who tried to follow us home and ignored her owner when he called her back. Eventually she went back when she realized that we weren’t going anywhere. We went home and I decided not to walk the other three because Nia was on the loose.

Clara has gotten a bit chubby and needs regular walks and I figured that Nia was back home. So, against my better judgement, I leashed up Haley, Luna, and Clara and we left the house going toward the park. Nia was there and headed straight for Clara, attacking her. Luna, who will do whatever Nia does, also attacked Clara. I screamed for my neighbor, for Nia’s owner, but no one was around. I had to deal with these dogs by myself. I carried Nia while handling the leashes of Luna and Clara. Haley refused to go back to the house and I didn’t have enough hands to grab her too.

I put Luna and Clara in the house while leaving Nia outside. I put them in the backyard and Haley and I took Nia home. By this point in time, I was angry and frustrated. I didn’t blame Nia, but her owner. I put Nia in the backyard and told her owner that he needed to watch her closer because she attacked Clara. He apologized and as I walked home I regretted giving her to him rather than finding her a home far, far away from my house.

Clara, Luna, and Haley did end up getting their walk. We walked a different way and it was a relaxing walk. Luna and Clara were friends again. They walked beside each other, backing each other up when they “need” to bark at another dog, or cat, or squirrel.

I used to worry about Nia. I felt guilty about giving her away, telling myself that I didn’t try hard enough; that all they needed was time apart. That day I realized that Nia and Clara were never going to be friends again and that I had done the right thing by finding her a new home.

As much as I am annoyed at Nia’s owner and his lax dog ownership methods, Nia is genuinely happy at her current home. She’s put on weight and the wild look in her eyes is gone. She loves being held; she loves being with her people. She fills a need that they have and they fill a need that she has. It’s not the home that I think she should be in, but it’s the home that she needs and I realize that is a lot more important than my opinion.

Now if only he would learn to keep an eye on her and to close the gates after he’s finished mowing the lawn.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to the last couple months. School’s out and I finally have some time to write. Oh and I realized that I will have had Buddy exactly a year on June 1. I might take him to PetSmart and let him pick out a toy on that day…we’ll see though.

Until next time, keep an eye on your owners. They might stray too far away from you.


Nia, pt 2

On the fourth of this month, I took Clara and Nia for a walk, hoping that a pack walk would clear the tension. Hey, I’m not 100% for Cesar Millan, but some of his tactics work. The pack walked helped Nia and Luna. Why wouldn’t it help Clara and Nia.

I kept them from fighting, most of the time. Sometimes, they even walked side by side and didn’t even cast a glance at each other. I’d correct Nia when she thought about biting Clara’s backside. It was going smoothly. Once at the park, I realized that Clara shook anytime Nia was near her. I also noticed that Nia waited until Clara’s back was turned before thinking about attacking. That’s why Clara attacked Nia sometimes, to keep from being bitten from behind. Nia couldn’t take Clara head on and went the coward’s route.

We walked home. The girls got into a fight. I just ran them. They couldn’t fight and keep up at the same time. Then I saw them, two men close to my age getting out of a car. One asked me if they were Shih Tzu; asked me if I had puppies. I said “no,” but turned aside to talk to them. During the course of the conversation, I explained that I was looking for a new home for Nia. It just popped out.

He was more than happy to take the dog. If only he could convince the mom. She declined at first, but relented. The family had Shih Tzu in the past and apparently Nia looked like one that a family member had. The mom said  she’d give it a week. I went home with Clara.

Nia escaped two or three times that day, there were small gaps in the fence that looked impossible for any dog larger than a Chihuahua to get through, but Nia got through, and came back to my house. The new owner was distraught. I explained to him that the same thing happened to me when I first got Nia. I told him to give her time. By the next day they were bonded and he thanked me for giving him the dog.

I found out that his mom fell in love with her. His mom works at night and sleeps during the day. Nia sleeps with her. It was perfect, except Nia kept escaping and coming back here to make sure I didn’t forget about her. It had become a game. I think we got the escaping problem under control.

Nia is a different dog there than she was here and at her former house. Here (and at her former home), she paced the house, looking to get into trouble; to get to one of the other dogs. He told me she doesn’t pace much at their house. That was when it was confirmed that Nia needed to be an only dog. Or at least an only female dog.

I feel guilty on so many levels. I feel guilty that I had to get rid of Nia. I feel guilty because I didn’t realize that Nia had special needs (and might have a touch of OCD).

At the same time, I am so glad that Nia found a place where she can be the center of attention and not feel like she’s competing with another dog. Plus, she lives down the street, so I get to see her quite often. I’m glad that Clara has gone back to her easy-going self. I’m glad that both dogs are happy. because that’s what I really wanted in the end.

So, now I have five dogs again. My house is quiet; the tension is gone. Everything has gone back to normal or as normal as a multi-dog household can be. I can’t complain…

So until next time, listen to your heart, snooze all day in that patch of sunshine.

 


Nia, pt 1

A week ago yesterday, I woke up and prayed for one of two things: either for my dogs to start getting along or for Nia to find a new home. A couple hours later I was leaving Nia in the care of a kind twenty-something young man and his mom. They said they’d give it a week. Yesterday he confirmed: Nia is his dog.

She lives in a home with no other dogs and is doted on. If I could have chosen a perfect home for Nia, this is what this home would look like. Granted, there have been hiccups over the past week and I wasn’t sure if they would want to keep her and I think he was afraid that I would take Nia back.

Here’s how the whole story happened.

I thought keeping Nia and Clara separate would help things, but it only escalated. Nia got to the point that if she was inside and Clara outside (or vice versa), her only objective was to find Clara and attack. Out of defense (and later I realized fear) Clara would attack first in order to keep Nia from attacking her from behind. Sometimes blood was shed. Most of the time it was just a lot of noise. All of the time there was stress.

Why this started, I don’t know. Nia and Clara used to be friends, cuddling together when it was cold, playing together, etc. Then we hit the week where it was constantly 9 degrees and sometime during that week Nia decided she hated Clara. At first it was just to get attention (i.e. they only squabbled when I was around), then it turned to full-blown war. Luna, having experienced Nia’s wrath in the past, sided with Nia and the two of them would gang up on Clara every chance they got. Buddy, my blessed baby boy, often helped me separate the girls, sometimes grabbing Nia by the tail and dragging her outside for a timeout while I put Clara in a timeout.

I employed every tactic I knew how and even researched on how to stop this. All the while tension simmer just below the surface. Oddly enough, the times that should have been most stressful–dinner time–was the most relaxed time of the day. For ten blissful minutes, the girls forgot about their war and ate. I was hopeful. I mean, if mealtime is peaceful, then this could be fixed.

One day–I don’t recall how long ago–after Nia couldn’t get to Clara, she tried to pick a fight with Molly. I realized that there was something wrong with Nia.

I wanted to fix her. I wanted to fix her; I wanted to fix this…no one else. I wasn’t giving up MY dog. She was mine. I spent the last year getting her to the point where people could pet her and she wouldn’t pee on the floor. I spent the last year teaching her how to share her toys. I had put in all that work. I wasn’t getting rid of my dog.

But no one was happy, least of all Clara and Nia. The tension did something to them. It changed them. These were not my dogs and I realized that something had to give. So that’s what led me to pray that day. My dogs weren’t happy and that made me sad.

 


End of My Rope

I regret this morning. I regret not catching Clara soon enough. I regret dumping water on my dogs. I regret causing them any discomfort.

I regret ever bringing Nia into this house.

Back in December, Nia decided that she hates Clara. I hoped that it would go away with time, but it hasn’t. Things have escalated to the point that Clara no longer is defensive; she’s offensive; attacking Nia before Nia has a chance to attack her. Most of the time it is nothing serious, but sometimes it is.

This morning wasn’t serious, but it made me wonder. Will I ever have the peaceful house that I used to? Does the fact that I’m no longer on my depression/bipolar medicine have any bearing on my dogs’ behavior? Does Nia have a neurological issue which accounts for her constant pacing?

When Nia came to live with me, I realized that she had a bunch of restless energy. She was possessive of toys (something I’ve since worked with her on), she peed whenever someone wanted to pet her (yet another thing I’ve worked with her on), and she paces, never settling down; never relaxing.

She feels the need to keep moving. She doesn’t like being in laps. Human beings are just creatures that make her life easier. They throw the ball and feed her, but other than that Nia has no use for people. She constantly chews; toys stand no chance against her and if she can’t destroy a toy, she won’t have anything to do with it. She also doesn’t like if anyone else has a toy. She’ll gather all of the toys in one spot and lay on them, keeping everyone away from the toys.

As I write this, I’m beginning to wonder if Nia suffers from OCD. That might explain some of her behavior. That might even explain all of her behavior, except why she doesn’t like Clara, unless Clara did something to Nia.

Sigh.

I don’t want to get rid of Nia. I’m her third home. I know why her second home had to get rid of her, but I’m beginning to wonder if her behavior is why Nia was rehomed the first time. I don’t want to give up on Nia, but I have to ask myself, where do I draw the line? This morning’s fight didn’t even result in anything bad. It was actually more noise than anything else.

New action plan(s). 1) Determine if Nia has OCD or not. If she doesn’t, then we’ll go from there. If she does, determine what needs to be done. 2) Instead of keeping the girls in a rotation (Nia inside, Clara outside and reverse) put them in crates and keep them with me rewarding them when they’re quiet and being nice to each other. 3) Now that the weather is getting warmer, start taking them for walks/runs together. Preferably runs because that would keep them from fighting. 4) Resume Mommy-Puppy time where each dog gets undivided attention from me for about fifteen or twenty minutes.

Let’s see…this is the middle of February, I’ll give this until April 1 to see if there are any positive results. Who knows, maybe it was just a weather related thing and now that we’re having 60, 70, and 80 degree weather things might mellow out on their own. Wish me luck.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions, please let me know. I need all the help I can get. Also, if you’ve had this problem before, tell me about it.

Until next time please lay down…you’re making me nervous.


He Chose Me

THanks to his sisters, Buddy has developed a warped sense of humor when it comes to bedtime. After watching the girls refuse to come in at night, Buddy felt like he needed to put his own spin to the bedtime reluctance ritual and turned it into playtime.

He’ll start out on the porch and then run into the yard trying to get me to chase him. Not a problem on warm nights. Cold nights are a different story and require me to don appropriate attire. I know I didn’t/don’t have to indulge in this behavior, but there’s something fun and special about chasing a bear-like creature around the backyard.

He’s developed an arsenal of tricks when playing keep away. His favorite is to dash away when he hears the neighbor’s dogs barking. I feel like the dogs have this all planned out. You might think that I’m reading too much into it, but it never fails that one of the dogs will bark right when I’m about to grab Buddy’s collar. coincidence? I think not. I think they plot it the entire day.

A few days ago, it looked like history was about to repeat itself. It was a chilly night, too cold for a short-sleeved shirt, but too warm to expend the energy to go inside and get a jacket. I got all of the girls in the house and only Buddy remained. I crouched on the patio and inched my way toward Buddy, calling his name quietly.

Then it happened. One of Buddy’s friends barked. Buddy looked at the back of the yard. I knew I had lost and was ready to accept defeat. Either I was going to have to wait him out or go inside, get a jacket, and run him down.

The dog barked a second time and Buddy ran…

Toward me.

He allowed me to grab his collar and we went inside.

That was when I realized that over the past seven months my bond with Buddy has strengthened.

He chose me over his playmate.

He chose me over a game.

He chose me.

It was and still is a wonderful feeling.

Until next time, hug your bears and hug your dogs and if your dog is a bear or your bear is a dog hug it too.