Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Busyness, water fear

We’ve had lots going on this week.  My sister Deb has been here to work on her website with me (and blab and shop and eat and go sailing with our brother and hang around with our sister Priscilla), we had a stunning dinner made by Erin of With Vanilla and Honey fame, friends came through on their way home to Minnesota from a summer trip to New Mexico, Monday was B’s 21st birthday, and I can’t even think what else.

It has also been a million degrees in the shade.  Yesterday when we took Buster for a walk he leaned over into the pond for a drink and fell right in.  He hauled himself out and shook off.

Now this is a dog with severe fear of water.  Last year A threw him off the dock to see if he’d figure out that water was OK.  Buster broke all Olympic speed records getting back to shore and wouldn’t come near the dock for the rest of the summer.

Tonight when we took him for a walk, even though he normally takes a drink from the pond, he avoided it completely.  We sat on the cabin porch for a while, and I gave him some water in a pan.  He guzzled it all right down.  My guess is that he won’t be drinking from the pond for a while.  God forbid  he should fall in again.

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Dang dog

That Buster, we just love him.  But he has been rambling off on his own lately.  He still won’t go outside by himself, but when you take him out, he’s off like a shot.  Last week we found out one reason why:  He killed and brought home one of our neighbor’s chickens.  Amazingly, A got him to sit and stay, and then took it away from him.  Too late, though.

He’s intent on finding his way out of the fence, and if that doesn’t work, heading out the driveway.  He becomes deaf, totally focused on hanging with his pals across the road.  I’m sure they put him up to the chicken killing.

Several people have suggested that the cure for that is to hang the dead chicken around the dog’s neck.  I’m not doing it.  For one thing, I’m hoping he won’t kill any more, and for another thing, he’s an indoor dog.  We’d have all-night barking to come in with his chicken necklace.  For another thing, it seems inhumane.  For another thing, nobody has ever said “We did this.”  Instead, people tell you that they’ve heard of that as a cure, or that their cousin did it.  I want first-hand evidence, please.

We, who have made huge efforts to use only positive training methods (and with good results), may possibly try a shock collar.  The electronic fence isn’t practical for us because there’s too much area to fence in.  He never goes out alone, though, so I think it might work.  There we’ll be, walking along, and Buster will start heading off towards the road.  If he knows we have hamburger or cheese in our pockets, he’ll respond to calls.  If not, he’s deaf.  A little zap just as he’s cresting the hill might work.  It seems horrible, but perhaps worth it if it prevents him from being shot by a farmer.  (Our chicken-owning neighbor would never shoot him.)

Tonight we discussed the idea of getting another dog so he could have a pal.  There was a yellow lab pup listed in today’s paper.  It doesn’t seem like the right time.  We ought to cure him of this bad behavior before we get another dog he could teach it to.

Any good ideas out there?

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Guest dog

We are taking care of Bailey, who belongs to our friends down the road. She’s very large, maybe part chow, part shepherd, who knows what else. Definitely part beefcake. She’s happy and friendly. It’s fun to have another dog in the house. She and Buster have been doing lots of horsing around, inside and out. Her presence has greatly reduced Buster’s crazy 10 minutes a day, because they can crazy around together and not jump and bark at us.

Good things about having another dog: Less Buster pressure (playwithme, playwithme, playwithme!), more entertainment. Bad things about having another dog: More mud, more dog hair, more slobber, more noise at night. We won’t mind when she leaves, but we could also have her come back, easy.

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Silly dog

Buster just hates to go outside by himself. He can be dancing up and down because he has to pee so badly, but he won’t go out alone. If you try to grab his collar he ducks away. In the bedroom he makes an immediate dive under the bed.

Yesterday A and Buster came in to the kitchen. Rick said something to me about going outside and at the same time leaned down to pat the dog on the head. Buster threw himself to the floor and tried to get under the refrigerator. Yes, he thought he might work his way into that inch between the floor and the fridge.

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First of all, I am very happy and thankful for many things, most particularly my family, immediate and extended. Willie is home till Monday and it is a great pleasure to have him here.

Rick loves taking Buster to the airport to pick people up. He (Buster) sits calmly, Mr. Mellow. They went yesterday to pick Willie up and got photographed for the Kansas City Star website. Check it out.

Rick didn’t want to get another dog, but I talked him into it. It seemed like a good idea to have a companion for the aging Sparky, and I thought having a transitional dog would be a good idea after Sparky died. I was right and wrong.

We got Buster last October, and he was totally crackerdog. He herded us, but worse, he herded Sparky, who could barely move. Buster nipped at his hocks and heels and generally made old Sparker’s life miserable. It took several months of the Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) method of dog training to get him to settle down. It did work, on the whole, and finally we were able to take the dogs on walks together without incident.

NILIF involves making the dog do something – sit, down, heel, etc. – whenever he wants something. Suppertime? Sit, down, sit, down, sit, down, stay, OK, you can have it now. Rick can put the bowl on the floor next to Buster and make him stay for 5 minutes before allowing him to dive in. When we open the door to go out, he has to sit and stay while the humans go out first. He got the big idea that we were in charge, and so he quit behaving badly with Sparky as well.

Sparky and Buster

Sparky died in July. He was a total dawg. Not too quick on the uptake, but loyal, happy, friendly, biddable, and in his day an excellent Frisbie dog. We all loved him, and he loved us, but Rick was as a god to him.

Rick is still grieving the loss of Sparky, but Buster really has been a great dog to help with that. He is so unlike Sparky that we don’t have crushed expectations. He is pretty well-behaved now, goes all over the place with Rick, loves me too, hangs out nicely, doesn’t beg (much).

But every day, for maybe 15 minutes, some days more, some less, he is Mr. Crazy Dog. It occurs when we take him out for a walk. He is so excited that he’s awful. He jumps in your face, pushes you in the chest with his front paws, barks like a maniac, dives and bites at your legs, and generally makes himself extremely unpleasant. Both of us entertain notions of extreme pet abuse when this happens – you just want to reach out and shake him. (Don’t worry, we’d never do it.) It helps to throw a tennis ball for him at this point. He won’t bring it back and drop it at your feet, but he seems to be calmer when he has it in his mouth. That’s him up in the header of this page. The first half of the daily walk usually involves him running around with the ball, and then he a) settles down and b) loses interest.

We’d sure like to figure out how to change this behavior. But we do love him anyway.

And now let me repeat: Willie’s home, yay!

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