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lefty's random dog thread.

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by lefty, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. mcbrown

    mcbrown Well-Known Member

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    Good luck Teger. I went through a similar story with a senior dog we adopted at something around 8-10 years old - a number of health problems from the get-go, and lots of tough decisions along the way. At one point we opted to perform a mastectomy for mammary cancer (she was intact when abandoned, and thus almost preordained to get it eventually) despite a heart condition, and though it was wrenching at the time I'm so glad we did... she got several more years of good quality with us. Eventually she developed nasal cancer, and we made the opposite and equally difficult decision to manage her symptoms as best we could and prepare for the inevitable. There are no right answers - just what you think is right under the circumstances.

    Consulting good specialists is helpful. In my experience they give it to you pretty straight.

    No matter what happens your dog sounds like she has a great owner. I wish you and her the best.
     
  2. JLibourel

    JLibourel Well-Known Member

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    I thought that line came from somebody else whom she quoted. A strange and remarkable lady, Vicki Hearne. I admired her greatly and had several lengthy telephone conversations with her.

    Years after her untimely death, I learned that my brother-in-law had known her. He didn't like her. "She thought she could write," he remarked dismissively. Well, I thought she could write and write very well. However, my brother-in-law's credentials as a writer are probably better than my own. He was runner up for a Pulitzer Prize a few years back. Nearly all that I ever generated were gun articles, a dreadfully schlocky genre, I must confess, and a few works of recondite scholarship.
     
  3. lefty

    lefty Well-Known Member

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    Maybe. It's been a while since I read the book. While she did act as a funnel for a lot of dog trainer folk wisdom it does smack of her writing style. Some of her stuff was a little convoluted, but there's no doubt she was a good writer.

    What compelled you to call her?

    lefty
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  4. Teger

    Teger Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the well wishes. she's been doing a lot better lately - it really seems that our mood totally dictates hers. when we're sitting around crying she's bummed out, not eating, but if we take her for a long walk and come home and make dinner, she's totally animated and chowing down.
     
  5. zissou

    zissou Well-Known Member

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    I'm trying to figure out what to do about my dog. I adopted her about four months ago from a pretty unstable home, and worked pretty hard to make her feel comfortable. She went from being a pretty neurotic dog to being much calmer and generally happy over a few months or so. All of a sudden, she's gone absolutely nuts. She'll destroy things in the yard if I leave her home alone, or even sometimes when I am home, so I've had to start crating her. She never relaxes unless I've take her to the dog park where she can run flat out for an hour (which I don't have time to do unless it is the weekend). In the evening, she paces around the house and never relaxes. She will go sit in another room away from us, but whenever we laugh or even put a glass down on the coffee table, she'll come running to see what is going on. I give her the same amount of attention and exercise as before, so I don't quite know what the deal is. It's been a real strain on my daughter and me.

    I am a firm believer of this. My lab of twelve years was getting old and having bouts of not eating or getting out of bed. The bouts became more frequent and lasted longer. The vet didn't seem to know what the problem was without doing extensive testing, and my dog was no longer happy. I had a vet make a house call to euthanize my lab, and she surprisingly tried to convince me not to do it just yet. It was pretty upsetting, but I told her that if she didn't want to do it, then I would just take her to another vet.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  6. mcbrown

    mcbrown Well-Known Member

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    Zissou, your dog sounds somewhat similar to my current dog (rescue dog, high energy, neurotic, etc.). I've had him for about 20 months. A couple thoughts come to mine based on my experience:

    1. After a few months, my guy's personality was still coming out. In retrospect we were still feeling each other out, even though we had seemingly already settled into routines and addressed some of his most pressing behavioral problems.
    2. Your first few months with your dog also corresponded with summer (assuming you're in the Northern Hemisphere), when some dogs seem to operate at a lower energy level. From about June through now, my little guy gets spent after about 10 minutes of running, even in relatively cooler weather. From fall through spring he can seemingly run all day if we let him. She might have a higher energy level than you realized.
    3. If she's as similar to my dog as she seems, she may get bored easily, regardless of exercise. We have to constantly keep teaching him new tricks to keep him stimulated. Every other dog I've ever had would be as lazy as we let them be, but not him. Using his brain tires him in a way that exercise alone doesn't. The good news is that small investments seem to have a big payoff - a few 5 minute training sessions a day coupled with mixing work into play (i.e. making him do a trick before I throw him a ball) and he's happy. If we slack off he starts looking for trouble.
    4. Likewise, if she's at all like mine, putting more of her food into things she has to work at may help a lot. My dog gets about 3/4 of his food from Kongs, treat balls, etc. He gets just a little in his dish. We give him the other things when we leave for the day (with some "high value" stuff like cold cuts along with the food), and make him wait nicely to get them. Since we started doing that he's not anxious when we leave, and a lot less likely to cause trouble while we're gone. It's just another form of work and stimulation... you may be seeing a pattern here.

    Sorry if I'm overstepping with my thoughts here - let me know if I've completely missed the boat. It just sounds like a very familiar story from the limited details.

    I've never had a dog that required so much work - not just exercise, but more effort and thoughtfulness from us. My wife and I both grew up with pretty "easy" dogs, and then adopted a sweet little senior dog together who was the definition of a lap dog. We were pretty cavalier in adopting this guy and got much more than we bargained for. :) It has been an eye-opening experience for sure!
     
  7. zissou

    zissou Well-Known Member

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    I think you've really hit the nail on the head. It's quite a contrast from having a dopey lab for so many years. One of the greatest struggles is that my time to spend training her is fairly limited, being a single parent, homeowner, university prof (and leathercrafter). I always make sure she has exercise a few times each day, although probably not the intense running she needs. Even after that, she wanders the house whining. Looks like I need to think about more daily training. I did buy a bunch of fancy toys from which she can get food, and she destroyed every single one within three days. The only thing left is the Kong with peanut butter.

    sigh. If you can recommend a good book or website with training ideas, I'm all ears!
     
  8. nootje

    nootje Well-Known Member

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    Sad to hear your story Teger, all the best. My family has lost three dogs in my lifetime and whatever path you choose its not easy...

    Happy to report back here that me cracking down on the inlaws hovawart seems to work a bit. I turned out that part of the problem came from him not being able to deal with his own energy. Having talked to the inlaws we realised this, and after a few days of him getting more exercise he isnt as interested in picking fights with other dogs...
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  9. mcbrown

    mcbrown Well-Known Member

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    I thought my wife and I were busy, but you sir have got quite a load... I feel for you! The good news is that it gets easier.
    Yikes. Sounds like you have a real chewer on your hands. Out of curiosity, do you have any idea what breed/mix she is? This treat ball has worked really well for us for dispensing kibble and keeping him occupied: http://www.amazon.com/Omega-Paw-Tri...?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1347023720&sr=1-1 Basically the dog just pushes it around and small amounts of food fall out when it rolls in just the right way. The design is such that chewing doesn't accomplish anything, so at least in our case our dog never got in the habit of chewing it. But our dog is a jack russell mix (large-ish for the breed at 27 pounds, but not a big dog), so if yours is bigger she may just chew the thing to shreds anyway. Regardless, there are other similar things out there that work more by pushing and rolling than by chewing... maybe one or more of them will work a little better for your girl.
    This book has been pretty good for us: http://www.amazon.com/101-Dog-Trick...3256/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347024136&sr=8-1 It's exactly what it sounds like - just a large collection of tricks with illustrations on how to teach them, step by step. There are also plenty of free resources available, but having a physical book with its own training log helped keep us diligent. If your daughter is of an appropriate age you can have her do some of the work too. :) Let me preface everything that follows by saying that I am not a trainer, so please take the rest of what I say with a fist-sized grain of salt. A professional trainer has been invaluable to us. I don't know if your budget allows, but if it does I recommend trying one. The really good ones diagnose your problems and train you to train the dog. But different trainers have different strengths, and we had to try a couple before we found one that "got" our dog and clicked with us (e.g. a trainer that specialize in puppies might not be right for an adult rescue dog, and someone that specializes in training hunting dogs might not be right for housetraining your Frenchie, and the trainers may not realize their own limitations). Clicker training has been an invaluable tool as well. It makes our training sessions much more productive (meaning you can do more with less, which is important for busy people). We started doing it under the guidance of a trainer, but there are lots of free resources on the web that can help get you started. Definitely watch some videos - the idea becomes much clearer when you've watched people do it. There are criticisms of the method as you'll see in the wikipedia article, all of which have some validity but IMO none outweigh the benefits. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_clicker http://www.clickertraining.com/ One question: how long is your dog typically left alone during the day (the longest stretch of contiguous time, not the cumulative total)?
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  10. dcg

    dcg Well-Known Member

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    This is another good option (same idea as the treat ball above):

    http://www.amazon.com/Kong-Wobbler-...e=UTF8&qid=1347025979&sr=8-1&keywords=wobbler

    Much bigger than a standard kong (a few of the user submitted pics on amazon give a good idea of the size). It's made of hard plastic, so it's not meant as a chew toy. My dog loved it, until she got tired of knocking it around and chewed through the top to get to the treats. This, at least, took some effort on her part since it was hard for her to get her mouth around it.
     
  11. mcbrown

    mcbrown Well-Known Member

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    I can't believe I've never seen the Wobbler before... that looks great for my dog.
     
  12. dcg

    dcg Well-Known Member

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    My former boss's English Springer Spaniel loved hers, and (as far as I know), it's still in pristine condition. My dog also loved hers, and understood how it worked (occasionally using it as intended), but preferred to try to fit her tongue through the hole/chew through the top to get to the goods. So mine ended up a slobbery mess. Still, if they would make an XL that was too large for her to fit her mouth around, I'd buy it immediately.
     
  13. lefty

    lefty Well-Known Member

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    zissou, you answered your own question - more exercise/activity/stimulation.

    I understand that may be a challenge, but you need a dog walker or a local kid that will wear her out.

    lefty
     
  14. Bakes11771

    Bakes11771 Well-Known Member

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    I've always done a lot of clay shooting, and have hunted farm raised pheasant a few times. I plan on hunting some grouse this season for the first time. From what I hear, they are few and far between lately in my area. Still it will be nice to get out in to the woods and get some exercise with the dog, even if we do come back empty handed. I spend all day in a cubicle, and she spends all day in the house, so neither of us get enough exercise anymore, and neither of us are as young as we used to be, so its catching up with us. I don't expect her to help with the grouse at all. She is a German Shepherd/Lab/Rottweiler mix, and doesn't have much hunting instinct. She prefers to chase the deer and wild turkeys away, as a means of protecting her domain. She sure is pleased with herself after doing so.
     
  15. JLibourel

    JLibourel Well-Known Member

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    Actually, she called me because I ran a very favorable review of Bandit back when I was editing Handguns magazine. I have always felt that there were close parallels between the BSL people and the anti-gun crowd. Actually, there's a lot of overlap between them.

    I located the quote from Vicki Hearne with ease. It's in the essay "Oyez a Beaumont" in her book Animal Happiness. You were right that it was original with Vicki Hearne. I had been under the impression that it was from Dick Koehler because she talks about Koehler immediately before that. She is talking about her Airedale Gunner, who had once saved her when a man was attacking her with a knife on the beach at Malibu one night:

    "Oh rare and dauntless Gunner. Even his hip, broken when a prostate tumor grew right though the bone, did not stop the courage of his gaiety, but I did. My friend Dick Koehler said, "He is lucky to have a good friend like you," to encourage me, you see, to get on with it, kill him, and Dick was right, of course, right, because when there is nothing much left of a dog but his wounds you should bury those decently."

    I wept practically the entire time I was re-reading that essay last night, even though I've read it several times before. It reminded me too much of the great dogs I've had to put down.

    I understand that some major booksellers won't handle Koehler's books anymore--too brutal. That sort of nonsense makes me glad I am approaching checkout time.
     
  16. lefty

    lefty Well-Known Member

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    "Oyez a Beaumont". Now i remember. I guess I condensed the quote down a little over the years.

    Here's a copy of the essay for those interested: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~cavitch/pdf-library/Hearne_OyezABeaumont.pdf

    Koehler... a number of years ago I was asked by a group of neighbourhood pet owners to help them with some issues. One was an older puppy who refused to walk on lead despite her owner's coaxing and bribes. I suggested she just ignore the dog and start walking and the dog would probably decide that walking was a far better option than being dragged. The owner looked at me like I was insane and carried her puppy back to the car. It was the last time I tried to help pet owners.

    Koeher was hard (and was training hard dogs) so you have to modify some of the methods, but there is good info in there.


    Speaking of Airedales, a breeder lets a sport decoy test his dogs:


    lefty
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  17. mcbrown

    mcbrown Well-Known Member

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    Heh. Adopting a dog with issues has given me a special "appreciation" for owners of 7 pound Chihuahuas that act like their dogs can't possibly be moved by the power of a single human. It always goes something like:
    • Yapping, snarling chihuahua approaches, walking on its hind legs because it is pulling so hard at the very end of its leash (which is of course connected to a harness, not a collar).
    • I put my dog into a sit and start distracting him with tricks.
    • Dog keeps approaching. Owner exaggeratedly follows as if being dragged by mastodon.
    • I discretely move my dog out of their path, continue distracting. "I'm sorry, my dog isn't friendly."
    • "Oh, that's ok." Continues to be dragged towards me by the powerful chihuaua, which is snapping and snarling all the while.
    • "No, please keep your dog away." My dog continues to politely do pushups, spins and begs, but definitely getting a little worked up.
    • Owner gives me horrified look. Manages to muster strength to halt progress of the mighty chihuahua, who nonetheless continues barking uncontrollably.
    • My dog is contemplating the end of this yapping little thing 3 feet away from him. Controls himself nonetheless. "I'm sorry, would you mind taking your dog away?"
    • "I'm trying too!" Chihuahua remains firmly planted, like a barking, growling fire hydrant. In sing-songy voice: "Come along, Mr. Biggles. This... dog... doesn't want to play."
    • I see my dog calculating how many bites to finish the job... One? Or two? I shorten the leash. "You're not trying very hard..."
    • "I'm doing my best." Back to sing-songy voice. "Mr. Biggles, oh Mr. Biggles... who wants a treat?"
    • My dog has had enough, lunges, barks once. "No! Come." Returns to me and back to a sit immediately. Never got closer than 2 feet to suddenly quiet Mr. Biggles.
    • Owner swoops in with the speed of Hermes and lifts mighty Mr. Biggles with the strength of Hercules. "What's wrong with you?!? Control your dog!" Runs off while glaring at me.
    Sigh.
     
  18. lefty

    lefty Well-Known Member

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    ^There's a lot of that out there.

    Christ, I just reread the beaumont essay and also teared up. I take back what I said. Hearne was a great writer. Suggest people give it a look..

    lefty
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  19. JLibourel

    JLibourel Well-Known Member

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    Just realized that the Koehler mentioned "Oyez" is not the "Great" Koehler. That was William Koehler. I believe Dick Koehler is his son.
     
  20. lefty

    lefty Well-Known Member

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    Yes, Dick "DK" was the son. Died in the late '90s. He was a good trainer as well.

    lefty
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012

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