Sunday, March 30, 2014

Where Everybody Knows Your (Dog's) Name .....

The weather has been miserable!! Mud mud mud and more mud! Rain yesterday. And this morning, we woke to a fresh, deep coating of .... white cement!! Hardly nice fluffy snow - this stuff sticks to everything and weighs a ton! It's been really hard to take Nicki for a walk without needing a sponge bath afterward.

Yesterday we went for a long walk around Bass Pro. Lots of people don't realize that Bass Pro is very dog-friendly! They even have a dog treat waiting at the turnstiles! And most of the staff wanted to greet Nicki. It makes sense that Bass Pro is pro-pup. After all, many hunters hunt with dogs! There's even a dog section! But no cat section. A-hem. Nuff said! Ever wonder if there are more pet friendly businesses to share with your friend? Check Yelp! Type in "dog friendly" and your location. You can see some suggestions near us here :

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Adventures in Potty Training

Nicki is a very complex little creature. She has obviously been through some abuse, and I believe she's also suffered neglect.

That she's been abused is revealed in how she reacts to men. Not universally, but she is often hesitant or even fearful with men. For the first few months with us, Nicki would pee submissively every time she saw my husband. He was unfailingly patient with her, and he wouldn't hurt a fly. Nonetheless, she was clearly intimidated by the man in the house.

Out in the world, her encounters with men ran the gamut. Some got the cowering, submissive pee, others got a happy dog eager to interact with them. I couldn't see any correlation between their appearance or her reaction - so it must have been something else that only animals can detect. I do NOT think that her negative reactions indicated that the males in question were bad or mean. Rather, I think there was something about them that made her think of other males who had been abusive with her.

When Nicki was rescued, she had been left tied outside on a fence for who knows how long. She apparently wasn't brought into the house much. Dogs left outside don't have any reason to restrict the location in which they relieve themselves. They're outside, after all. They pick a spot and do what they must. If that goes on for most of their time, they have no thought not to continue the behavior when brought inside. In a neglect or abuse situation, a dog that eliminates in the house will only be shoved outside again. Nobody learns anything that way, and the dog has no clue why they're being shunned.

Before Nicki got the idea that this is her house, too, there was a lot of elimination in the house. It was frustrating! We never scolded or punished. We cleaned up and forgave. Obviously, though, nobody mops urine out of a rug for the umpteenth time without emitting an "I am NOT happy about this!" vibe. Although we restrained our outward reactions, dogs know us too well to be fooled. Nicki undoubtedly knew we didn't appreciate it.

As luck would have it, just as things began to improve, the weather started to turn cold. This year, the change was pretty abrupt. Nicki, being from the south, hadn't had to cope with a Northern winter before - that we know of. We had several instances in which we let her out to "do business", but she spent only moments out in the cold. Then she'd come back into the warm house, head to the dining room rug, and relieve herself. We had read the signs correctly: she had to go. She was also apparently telling us that, she may go out into the cold if we insisted, but she'd rather use the indoor facilities, thanks. So the problem became how to convince her that there were no "indoor facilities"?

We began keeping the door to the dining room closed. Nicki had no access to that room unless we were physically with her, walking through it to go outside. She was free to run in the rest of the house. Once she understood that this was our shared den, she stopped eliminating indoors - except for that dining room rug. Obviously we thoroughly cleaned the rug using enzymatic products. Still, given a chance, she'd prefer the rug to the freezing yard. Can't say I blame her!

We also continued to watch her very carefully outdoors. As soon as she was done with her mission, we brought her back into the warm house, gave a treat, and praised her for "good business". We're still doing that.

Gradually, we began leaving the dining room door open during the day. Nicki heads to the door for business, and heads through that room, usually without pause. One morning when I slept in, Nicki was particularly keen on going out, and my hubby had left the dining room door open! I raced down the stairs after Nicki, to find her sniffing and circling on the rug. I immediately ran to the back door, calling to her. She followed immediately, went right out, and disaster was averted! Nonetheless, that tells me that it's up to us to continue to put Nicki in situations where success is guaranteed. We need to remain vigilant, continue to reward and praise, and think ahead.

Rescued dogs can have some serious issues and big problems. I don't think this is that much of a problem, actually. It's only been six months. And besides, the weather's turning warmer again. ;-)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ride our Brain Waves

Ride our Brain Waves

Mom's been deadly sick for three days, and Nicki has become bored out of her fluffy gourd. She resorted to pulling tissues out of the full trash pail and tearing them up. I wouldn't really care. I have a vacuum after all, and the tissues are of no value. But - I worry that a dog chewing on the discarded tissues of two diseased hoomans may be getting the bad end of the deal. So - we put a stop to that! I emptied the trash.

I, too, have been bored out of my skull, which has resulted in a couple of not-too-bad ideas.

Do you know what QR codes are? If not, you've seen them around - probably on posters or adverts. They're pretty nifty, because you can encode a LOT of information into them. More than you could in - say - four lines of type on a dog ID tag. Some dog tag makers have clued into that, and they now offer a service by which they will take your information and create a QR code for your dog, then print the QR code on a tag for your dog. The ones I've seen take up quite a bit of space on the tag with unattractive "art" and their own logo (of course!) Long story short: they're not cute.

I've know for quite a while now that there are FREE QR code generators online. They require no registration, no personal information, no nuthin'! And QR codes are, in and of themselves, graphically interesting. Or at least not as repulsive as the commercial QR tags I've seen. So - what if you could create a QR code for your dog, then make a tag with it? And what if you could also, on that same tag, use standard text to include name, address, phone, chip number, etc? You can.

A while back I got a Groupon for dog tags. I kid you not. At the time, Nicki was brand new to our household. I was very aware (thanks to the excellent literature that her rescue organization, New Spirit 4 Aussies, sent home with her!) that a rescued dog in a new home is at heightened risk for becoming a runaway. I'll do another entire post about that, if you'd like. Suffice to say that even rescue is a traumatic experience, and a rescued dog new to your home doesn't yet know that they are finally SAFE. So anyway - I was all over microchips and ID tags and everything to help ensure Nickli's safety. So, given the chance to get cool, design-it-yourself ID tags at a discount, I leapt! PLUS I got to upload my own snowflake design and create a cool winter tag for her. Nicki is a fashion plate. Even when she's rolling in unknown substances......

The company, Dog Tag Art ( offers great, high-quality tags with a graphic of your choice on one side and up to four lines of text on the other side. BUT - you can kind of "game" this process by uploading your dog's personal QR code as the graphic side. You can include health information! (Allergies, medical conditions, meds needed) Alternate phone numbers! Websites AND street addresses. As much as the QR generator will allow. You can even offer a reward for return. On the other side, there's room for standard text with your dog's name, your address, phone, and maybe the pup's chip number.  In case you're wondering, I generated this using  Just scan it with your smart phone for a demonstration. CAUTION: before you print a tag using a QR code - have someone double check it by scanning it with their smart phone. It should present the information you wanted, EXACTLY as you put it in. Here's an example:

My other idea? Most dogs love yogurt. The next time your pup does something good, give them a teaspoon of yogurt. It's different. It's healthy! It doesn't leave crumbs on your rug. It takes more time/effort than a crunch and a gulp. Do you use frozen stuffed Kongs? Don't use fatty peanut butter and spray cheese exclusively. Consider a spoon or two of yogurt, as well. Take it easy with the yogurt, though. A little bit of live culture goes a long way. You don't want Super Yogurt Poops!