Dogs be like: Coffee…Go! Go! Go!

I’m not a coffee snob. But lately I’ve been drinking enough cups of Joe to know the difference between “battery acid” as one of my co-workers put it, and a genuinely fine brewed cup of java. I had one such cup as I neared the halfway point of my shift at work last night. It was strong in flavor, but mellow at the same time. It had me peppy. Correction, it had me revving and ready to go! go! go! It’s not my first time getting hyped up on caffeine, but having so much pent-up energy and no real way to a expel it put me in mind of some near and dear creatures I know.

20171213_105227_Burst02

Of my three dogs, Jordi the Husky-mix is probably the most high energy and athletic dog. I take it for granted that I have such a wonderfully huge backyard to let him run around and play in. I assume that this is enough, or at least better than if I had a small yard or no yard at all, i.e. if I lived in an apartment. I let the dogs out regularly, at least three times a day. And they’re outside for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes, but many times going on an hour.

20170819_153031_HDR (2).jpg
Koba Go!Go!Go!

Surely this routine of regular outdoor time is enough to work out any hyperactivity he must have? Surely he must be content with regularly romping in the leftover dried fall leaves and chasing the family of squirrels up trees? Surely he must be satisfied and exercised enough that he should behave like a perfectly good and well trained dog once he’s back indoors, right?

Well, after sharing my stories of various damaged furniture with coworkers and other dog owners, I’ve been receiving the same advice. His breed needs to be walked regularly. In my mind, he’s walking all the time. He walks around the house which is a large 4 bedroom home that he has nearly free reign of. And he has a quarter acre of backyard to run free in all the time. How can he not be exercised with all this walking?

20170302_092250
Meh, just open the back door. They’ll be alright.

Well, free time and structured walking are two different things. I know this, but it still doesn’t make it any easier for me to maintain a consistent walking schedule with my dogs. Between working 6 days a week and staying busy with my new online endeavors, I find it very easy to neglect this very simple dog-owner duty.

I’m about halfway through with the Cesar Millan, Be the Pack Leader book I mentioned in my last blog. And I have garnered lots of great insight, as well as the repeated advice to walk my dogs. Keeping dogs well exercised not only feeds their animal needs to be active, but it tires them out in a way that removes the need for destructive behavior. I keep reading this and hearing this and yet I’m not putting in the effort to walk them and wonder why me being out of the room for 15 minutes results in a 6 inch hole eaten into my bedroom mattress, or why two of my living room sofas have no cushions. None.

20170627_075959_HDR - Copy
R.I.P. Sleeper Sofa

Pent up energy from my dogs can only be expressed in so many ways. I guess I should be lucky that this energy isn’t expressed in a more violent behavior. Although my two boy dogs have had a few spats here and there, with the lack of regular exercise things could very well be more dramatic between them than it has been.

 

For the first time tonight I think I was actually able to empathize with them with that lovely hot cup of coffee from the work cafeteria. It made me feel so energized. So alive. So ready to move my feet and do something. Anything! And that’s probably exactly how my dogs feel on a day-to-day basis. Only caffeine is not the stimulus to their instinct to move. Where as I had the wiggles, and pretty much became a non-stop busybody the remainder of my work shift, the dogs have their own way of releasing their wiggles and need to go !go! go!

images
Ahhhh!

This catharsis isn’t going to make an instant change in my routine, and I can’t promise that I’ll be training them like it’s the Olympics seven days a week. But I am definitely becoming more attuned to some of their basic needs and allowing myself to make more room for patience and understanding when their limited methods of expression are focused in a way that continually reduces my living room furniture.

Thanks for reading, be sure to check out my uploads at YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Also check out my affiliate sponsored pet store at www.catsdogsharmony.com till next time keep the harmony!

Advertisements

Who’s the real bully?

A couple of months back I wrote an article on a fight that broke out between my now one year resident Husky and the newly adopted bully pit. Because of his breed type, a lot of finger pointing defaults to the pitbull. I, being a novice dog owner, aligned myself with that philosophy and was determined to keep an extra careful eye on him and discipline him as necessary.

I’m so misunderstood

It’s become a regular routine for me to rotate the dogs. While I’m out of the house, one dog will be in my room while another is out back in the yard, or one will be in the garage while the other is free to run the house (usually Jordi, my Husky who has a very low prey drive and doesn’t bother the cats). Sometimes two are in a kennel and one is given free time. While I’m at home all three dogs are out and about with the cats in the mix. Cat and dog incidences are virtually non-existent, but I’ve continually been experiencing incidents between my two boy dogs about every other week. Biscuit, my bullypit just keeps bumping heads with Jordi. What could I do to get him under control, I thought? I’m always careful to give them individual treats and to separate them with this much territorial space as possible so they don’t feel the need to protect their food or themselves. But, even without the temptation of a treat to fight over, from time to time when my back was turned a scuffle would break out. It lasted no more than two to five seconds with me intervening with a shout or clap of my hands. Jordi my supposedly goofball would always look casual and innocent, while Biscuit was noticeably worked up with tense face muscles and keen ready eyes. The front of his muzzle was even flushed red. He was obviously keyed up and ready to rumble. But was he really the instigator?

Who, me? A bully?

One day Biscuit was confined to another room and Jordi and Koba, my German Shepherd-mix we’re free to roam in the living room.


I heard the tell-tale snap and growl from the adjoining kitchen. I quickly looked over and saw Koba cowering from Jordi as a leftover bone was being guarded on the floor. No doubt about it this time. Jordi, being bigger, older, and the alpha male of the three was showing his dominance and claim to the chew treat. Would I have come to the same conclusion if it had been him and Biscuit? Probably not, “Got to watch those pitbulls” you know? Fast forward to the next incident… I was laying on my bed with Koba and Jordi at my feet. I was checking my email on my laptop and my daughter was beside me playing on her phone. We heard a vicious snap and growl and both looked up expecting to see Biscuit, but he was in the garage. Koba again was on the receiving end of a show of Jordi’s dominance. Apparently she was too close to Jordi as he snuggled beside my feet. I’ve been noticing more and more lately Jordi becoming somewhat possessive which I hadn’t noticed in his character before. Of all 3 dogs, Biscuit has definitely been the most affectionate but since his arrival Jordi seems to be getting jealous? Or am I just anthropomorphosizing him? He’s definitely been trying to get closer to me, and sometimes physically blocks Biscuit from getting to me when I’m giving out pets.

Koba showing rare affection

In any case, the final show of aggression came when all three dogs were in my presence and I clearly saw Jordi bite Biscuit on the top of the head. I think there was a rawhide cow ear involved this time. But Jordi was the aggressor. A few days later and Biscuit has a small red scar on his muzzle where Jordi has bitten him over an unknown cause.

Everybody on my bed, as usual

The triggers are not always consistent and sometimes they’re not identified at all, but I have definitely discontinued my automatic blame on Biscuit as being the aggressive one in the bunch. Whether it’s jealousy, or instinctual need to dominate, or fight for something else other than attention, I am definitely seeing Jordi as less of a goofy get-along pal with paws and more of what he is. A dog. A complex and multi-faceted animal with unique needs and personality. Intelligence and primal instinct all rolled into one. As a side note, I’ve even caught Jordi snapping at one of the cats who approached to eat from one of their bowls while Jordi was eating from it. (some nerve!) That earned him a couple of hours of time out in the garage as well as ingraining it in my mind that my lovable blue-eyed,brown-eyed dog was no innocent angel pup.

Jordi and Tulip enjoying (?) each other’s company.

So the truth is out. There is a bully in my home, and it’s not Biscuit. It’s Jordi. This is an issue that I will continue to watch and intervene in as necessary. I will make sure that all the dogs get as much equal attention as possible and that their needs are met. It is my goal to do more research on dogs as a whole so that I can do more training for myself as an owner and give more personalized training and conditioning to my dogs. At the moment I’m reading Cesar Millan’s Be The Pack Leader * which is giving me helpful insight.

*Purchases made through affiliate link gives me a commission.

Because of the difference in their build and breeding I am still aware that one dog may have more capacity to cause damage but that doesn’t make him the more dangerous dogs. In order for them to live together in harmony, and show mutual respect for each other I’ve got to put in the work. I’ve got to make sure that Jordi and the other dogs recognize that there can only be one alpha. Me. And as far as everyone being so quick to caution me on watching out for the unpredictable Pitbull, I say don’t believe the hype. Open your eyes and open your mind and look at what’s really going on. The details are in the dog.

Getting used to each other day by day.

Thanks for reading, be sure to check out my uploads at YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Also check out my affiliate sponsored pet store at www.catsdogsharmony.com till next time keep the harmony!

“Shh!…Don’t talk about it: the taboo of Pitbull fights”

About two weeks ago, I shared a story about my pit bull Biscuit. He and my husky-lab Jordi got into a really bad fight.  Since coming home in August of this year, the two have had snipped and strutted around each other occasionally before in an effort to determine alpha status. There were only a few micro incidents that quickly dissolved in response to my chiding them.

What happened that week was different. It was serious, violent, and bloody. I still can’t put my finger on the trigger of this event, so I’ve kept them separated both inside and outside. One hangs out in the garage while the other is either in-house with Koba, or in the backyard and vice versa.

I shared the incident with my mother, but haven’t talked to the rest of my family about it. Mostly to avoid the “I told you so’s”. You see, my family like many people already have a negative opinion of the breed that is known as the pit bull.

Upon hearing that one of my three dogs was a pit bull mix( the other two are husky-lab, and german shepard mix), one of my aunts stepped on her soap box, and grilled me through the telephone on why I would bring “something like that” into my home, and around my daughter at that?

She retold me many accounts of dog attacks she had seen on the news and asked if I knew that “these kinds of dogs turn all the time?” Well, I didn’t. Because I choose not to watch the news (I may blog about the reason why another time), my mind hadn’t been inundated with scores of gruesome stories of dogs attacking owners, children, and babies.

I didn’t think, and still don’t think that Biscuit is a threat to either my daughter or to me. But I am starting to think his preference is to be around an only dog, and particularly not around other male dogs. I make this distinction because of Koba, my female German Shepard.  His interactions with her are very different than how he behaves with Jordi, a male. Also if I could do it again, I probably wouldn’t have adopted him into a house full of cats.

Full disclosure: he bit my oldest cat on the paw while following me to the front door to take out the trash.  He had been in my home for barely a month then, and I hadn’t established many house rules for him then. A week later he cornered her in a room that I had left open for her and bit her paw again.

Now, he and the other dogs are trained to stay in the back of the house and out of “Kitty City”.  This helps the anxiety in the cats and the “instincts” he may be harboring. Biscuit has calmed down considerably around the cats and is nearly nonchalant when I’m in the same room with them. But I don’t think I’ll ever leave him alone with the cats. I am not naïve to think he can fully accept them as not being prey, but I am hopeful that as time goes by he gains more self-discipline and accepts them as part of his pack.

So this is it, me talking about a Pitbull/Bully breed in an unfavorable light. This is an issue that I am only now realizing is a very controversial and sensitive topic.  I question my own intentions from time to time as to why I haven’t returned him to the shelter, which would be an easy solution for me but a likely death sentence for him.

Am I out to prove a point that he can be trusted to be a safe and loving animal in my home? If so, to whom am I trying to convince: others, or myself? There are concerns that I have still, but none that influence me to “get rid of the problem” that is Biscuit.

I will continue to practice methods that will both protect my other animals, and hopefully, retain him to become a trusted and cooperative part of my family. I will update on progress and regress. Keeping my fingers crossed, I encourage you to keep the harmony.

Hidden wounds

I have so much confidence in my own abilities to manage issues that arise with my pets that I often times do not seek outside opinions or help.

*Disclaimer, there is a disturbing picture of a medical procedure included this article. Proceed with caution.

The title of this article talks about hidden wounds. They can be worse than those seen, because you can’t take care of something if you don’t know its a problem.

Last week I posted an article and video on the unfortunate dogfight that happened between my 2-year-old shelter dogs Jordi; my Husky-Lab and Biscuit; my Bully -mix. I’ve taken care to keep them separated for the week and I’ve been reintroducing them and allowing them to share space little by little in order to reestablish their relationship.

Initially, when the fight happened, Biscuits injuries were the most obvious of the two. Being a short-haired dog, Biscuit’s bites and were more prominent and as such, I took to nursing his wounds first.

I should say, I only nursed Biscuit’s wounds. Although I gave Jordi a once over, I naively concluded that his thick fur buffered him against being mauled.  I patted him on the head with a “good doggy” and told him he was okay. But he wasn’t.

PSA: take your dog to the vet after a dogfight.

A week and two days have gone by. Jordi has looked and behaved as normal. He’s eating and drinking well, running and playing just fine. Saturday morning I even decided to record some video of the dogs for an upcoming youtube video. I was literally rolling around on the floor with them and hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary.

Later on, with Jordi sitting on the floor, and my daughter sitting on the bed next to him she pointed to a spot on his chest. “Mom, what’s that?” she asked me. There was a fist size protrusion sticking out of his chest! Looking at him straight on it was barely noticeable under his fur, but from the angle we were both sitting it was a very disturbing sight.

I gingerly touch his chest. The lump was soft and spongy and filled  my cupped hand. Jordi didn’t react to being touched, which made me think maybe it wasn’t as bad as it looked (it looked bad).  I was only now noticing him lightly panting. Had he been panting all day? Was he panting from thirst, or exertion, or pain?

I called the vet immediately (in hindsight, I should have called the vet right after the fight from last week). It was 2pm and my local clinic has just closed an hour earlier. I got the number for the nearest emergency clinic in Mansfield, about 20 minutes away.

The whole time I was driving there I was speculating what the lump was. Naively I thought his poor little heart was enlarged and pushing out of his chest. Or maybe it was a tumor? Or a reaction to a tick burrowed deep into his skin. Or was it a nasty toxic infection, leaving him with only hours to live? My mind did this for the entire ride.

A quick intake at the clinic and a retelling of the previous week’s intake concluded that it was more than likely an abscess, or what they call a seroma. The bite-hold-and-shake trauma that is common in dogfights not only punctured Jordi’s skin, but ripped apart the layers of tissue to muscle under the skin, leaving an open void underneath to close without proper healing.

Jordi at the Vet
Jording heading back for the procedure

A simple solution was to put in drains to allow the built-up inflammation and blood to be released. The procedure itself took about 10-15 minutes. Jordi had to have his fur shaved at the site to get access for the drains to be placed. He also had to get a leg shaved to place a butterfly catheter for anesthesia.

According to the doctors notes: Jordi got an IV for pain, a clip and cleaning of the wound site, another IV for the anesthesia, drainage and lavage of serosanguinous fluid from the wound, a penrose drain and sutures, and a prescription for painkillers to take at home.

The clinic sent Jordi home with the standard e-collar, to keep him from licking at the drains sticking out of his chest. He also got a prescription for a painkiller and antibiotic. In 3-5 days he’ll be returning to the clinic to get them removed. In the meantime, he’s on the doggy version of bedrest: no excessive activities and to stay in a calm quiet environment.  That will be easy enough since for the past week I’ve been rotating him and Biscuit out of the garage for isolation purposes.

Then there’s the issue of the constant trickle of blood draining from the plugs in his chest. In order for the inflammation to go do and to encourage his wound to heal, it has to drip. Dressing him in an old t-shirt is a solution to allowing the drains to do what they must while keeping my carpet from looking like a crime scene.

Now Jordi is visibly miserable. The area on his chest has fresh pain. The leftover drugs in his system have him out of sorts. The gigantic e-collar around his neck has him bumping into places he normally eases in and out of. And it’s awkward for him to eat and drink. I hand fed him his supper, before helping him onto the bed so he could try to rest.

So it’s official. Jordi got worst of it from the fight. His continued happy-go-lucky demeanor and invisible scars hid the fact that he was in need of just as much care an attention as Biscuit. Fortunately, he was able to get some today, albeit much later.

 

It’s also official that I am a terrible pet parent. Or at least that’s what I feel like right now. I have so much confidence in my own abilities to manage issues that arise with my pets that I often times do not seek outside opinions or help.

This makes me challenge my thoughts on the blog and how it may be affecting my care of the cats and dogs. Blogging and vlogging have proved to be a very satisfying endeavor for me. It’s fun to write about and record the pets doing wacky pet things. But it takes a lot of time to actually put the content up in a way that is enjoyable to others.

Have I been spending too much time on the talking about how I take care of my fur babies, and not enough time actually taking care of them? I’ll be contemplating this more as time goes on.  Ironically, I will be posting a video documenting Jordi’s injury on my YouTube channel catsdogsharmony.

Jordi post dogfight
I’m sorry Jordi

My gratitude and appreciation go out to Animal Emergency Hospital of Mansfield, for taking care of my baby and giving me the extra information I needed to document and share Jordi’s visit.

Until next time, I’ll try to keep the harmony. You do the same.