Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today in Daily Dog Walk

Brian sent me this email after the dogs' near-daily walk. The email was titled "Summary of Dog Walk."

  • Bruschi finds wrapped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup….RPB Cup removed from Puggle and disposed of
  • Bruschi finds wrapped Three Musketeers bar…. 3M bar removed from Puggle and disposed of
  • Kodi raises hind quarters to pee on lamppost….Bruschi sticks his head under Kodi’s po-po….Bruschi gets pee’d on

Nothing else to report.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bruschi, Kodi, meet Teddy!

This is sort of a teaser post-- because the videos and photos aren't quite ready yet, but I couldn't resist blogging about Brian's and my latest adventure-- introducing Bruschi and Kodi to our new baby, Theodore.

We've been doing household baby prep for the past 9 months-- exposing the dogs to more babies and children, setting up the baby gear, correcting some nagging behavior problems (like barking and pulling on the leash, riding in the front seat of the car, etc). For me, this was more important than any aspect of "nesting."
If I didn't already have an infinite number of reasons I love my dogs before yesterday, i'd have another one afterward. Bruschi and Kodi had a fabulous reaction to the new edition. I couldn't have asked for better, and, I couldn't have asked for two more patient dogs yesterday while Brian and I stumbled through our solo flight as parents, without the help of nurses, a nursery or my mother.

And, perhaps because while still in the womb, Teddy had tons of dog exposure (animal welfare research projects, HSUS Conference, trip to Best Friends, numerous adoption events, a foster dog, a few obedience classes...) barking, sniffing and wet noses did not seem to phase him.

Stay tuned for more details on the actual introduction, including some video footage.
below: kodi and I at 8 m0s, Bruschi and I the night before the baby was born. gotta love cell phone cameras!

Monday, August 24, 2009

QT with the Pups

Excessive home renovations and baby prep limited time lavishing the pups with fun adventures and outings this summer, and a few weeks ago, I craved some quality time with Bruschi and Kodi.

In the car we got, headed to Quiet Waters in Annapolis for a day of play, then lunch downtown. Bruschi and Kodi took in the multiple dog parks, trail walk, and the romp on the beach. Bruschi bravely entered the water, chest deep, and Kodi took to critter surveillance in the swamp.

After, we stopped at the conveniently located dog spa just outside the park to de-stinkify the canines, then headed to a nice Annapolis restaurant with an outdoor dining patio that catered to dogs.

We rode home with the top down and two very, very tired dogs.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Refresher on Terms and Conditions Surrounding Sleeping in My Bed

To: Bruschi and Kodi
From: Colleen
Re: Refresher on the terms and conditions surrounding sleeping in my bed
Date: July 5, 2009

1. Amount of space you are allowed in the bed is proportionate to your weight and height. You can not take up more room than me. Stretching out from limb to limb and laying diagonal will not fool me into thinking you need more space. This will only earn you the title "bed hog."

2. I will require my pillow back when I return from the bathroom. You can keep it warm for me, but do not pretend to be in a deep sleep, and unable to wake up when I ask for it back. I will wake you up.

3. We sleep UNDER the covers. Sleeping on top of them, anchoring them down is not helpful. I understand you might get hot during the night, but remember, I do not wear fur to bed like you do, and therefore need unrestricted access to the covers.

4. Spooning together is OK. Sleeping on my head is not.

5. I brush my teeth before I go to bed out of good hygiene practices and respect for others that sleep with me, including you. Please do the same. If you forget, we will not be able to sleep face-to-face.

6. I still have to get up in the morning, even if you lay on top of my legs like dead weight. This does not make it any easier for me to get out of bed to go make a living, so that you can continue to enjoy the pampered life you lead.

7. Your tail often betrays you. When your body is completely still, but your tail is moving, I know you are awake and only pretending to be asleep so that you think you don't have to shift positions or get out of bed. I'm on to you. You can't fool me.

And, lastly:

8. This is my bed (key words being "my" bed). Do not fight me for space. And do not groan if I shift you over so that I don't fall off the edge. Remember, I feed you.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Sweetest Puggle...

Bruschi gets a bad rap for being a food-stealing, impatiently whining little bugger, but I gotta tell you, all that is wrapped up in one incredibly sweet, super loving dog.

I'm working late (its almost 12:30 am Eastern), and most of the house is upstairs, asleep. I walk out into the living room, and there is Bruschi, fighting the sandman on the couch while waiting for me to retire. His head delicately placed on the couch pillow, paw ever so carefully curled under his chin.

If cuddling him wasn't a good enough excuse for a work-break, nothing is. So, I sat down, leaned in, pet his super-soft head, gave him a kiss, and told him I loved him. He licked my cheek. We cuddled a bit more, I told him we'd go to bed soon, and headed back to the computer. He sighed, put his head back down, and closed his eyes.

Really, its worth the peanut butter sandwich that we "shared" earlier this evening.
(Left: Cell phone photo of Bruschi right now)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kodi's Killer Instincts

I've mentioned more than a few times on this Blog that Kodi, our rat terrier, has a very, very impressive prey drive, along with a remarkably agile little body.

Weighing in at 9.2 pounds, this tiny Feist can leap yards from a stand-still position, runs as smooth and elegantly as a racing dog, and springs into action at the smallest sight or sound of oncoming prey, including those that outsize her. OH, she also has a battle-cry that rivals most fire alarms.

Much of this can be attributed to the unique breeding that made the Rat Terrier back in the early 1900's. These dogs can claim roots that include the hound, jack russell, whippet and others. This is a breed that was established for one main purpose-- eradicating rats.

Kodi's opportunities to exercise her prey drive are limited to what can be done in a backyard, or on a walk-- so not much, but we do love to watch her signals and behaviors when she detects a critter or critter-hiding place. We do not encourage her committing or attempting any homicides. In fact, I keep bells and jingles on her to give critters fair warning that she is on their path.

This past Saturday, early morning, a wandering cat became the object of Kodi's "affection." We were at my parent's house in NY, in a neighborhood that does not respect the fact that cats should be indoors at all times. This one extremely large feline dared to enter the neighbor's yard and cross Kodi's sightline while she was sniffing some bushes in my parent's backyard.

She detected, snapped to attention, issued her battle cry, and charged to this teeny, tiny opening at the bottom of the fence, barely wide enough for my wrist. I panicked at her escaping the yard, and then really panicked when I realized her harness was caught on the bottom of the fence, while she was still lunging forward.

I grabbed the attached portion of the harness, my dad ran to alert the neighbor, the neighbor ran outside to look under the deck at where Kodi was caught... I released the harness lest Kodi struggle to escape and dislocate or puncture something. The cat was LONG since gone, and the yard was fenced, so I figured this made the most sense.

Once freed, she charged in impressive fashion out from under the deck that bordered the fence, through the yard, right into the arms of the neighbor, who picked her up and remarked "She's a cute little thing!"

After the panic was over and Kodi was securely inside the house, my dad and I started talking about her prey drive, how she immediately identified her path, and how she maneuvered her body so flat to get between the ground and the fence so, so quickly. And, how in-her-element she was on the chase. While nerve wracking, it was also quite impressive.

Oh, in case you were wondering, our home has been rodent-free since Kodi. And it safe to assume our child will never have guinea pigs or hamsters as long as Kodi is around.

That's a woof for now.

Baby-mania, Bruschi and Kodi

Brian and I frequently say to each other that we can't remember our lives before Bruschi, and it is even hard to remember what it was like to only have one dog, prior to Kodi. Our vocabulary quickly adapted to include words like "no-pull harness, raw food," and "veterinary opthamalogist," and questions like "Did they both poop? What color was it? Did he pull on the leash? Did she have a good time at day care?"

Now, with baby on the way, our regular conversations include words like "Pack N Play," "receiving blankets," "bouncy chair" and god help me, "stroller travel systems." I do remember when these weren't part of our vocabulary.

Silly me for not realizing the full, excessive extent of pregnancy/new baby merchandising....this coming from someone who admittedly is part of the "dog collar of the month" club. I love to shop and buy, I love novelties and accessories. I am a consumer at heart--But I assure you, this is over the top. Selecting a stroller was more difficult, and is taking longer than when I decided to purchase my first new car back in 2005. Business opportunity for Volkswagen: Start making strollers and car seats- oh, and helmets for babies riding in convertibles for your brand loyalists. And, I've seen more versions and types of blankets for babies than I tried on wedding dresses. Someday, I am sure Vera Wang will own that line as well.

Despite my tendency toward consumerism in general, the main focus of my baby prep is not the acquisition of all sorts of plastic baby gear-- its prepping Bruschi and Kodi (and Brian and I) for a teeny tiny human heartbeat that comes complete with lots of crying, dirty diapers, demanding feeding schedules and oodles of special attention from friends and family members. Its breaking bad habits that we've allowed to develop and tolerated over the past three years because they really didn't bother us that much. And, its creating new routines for them that will make for a more harmonious household.

We started this a few weeks back, moving the dogs to a once-daily feeding schedule (critics, have a field day here), and this weekend, even made them sit in the back-seat vs. my lap on the long, traffic-heavy drive to and from NY. This month, we are going to crack-down on turning noise outside the house (that usually brings upon non-stop barking) into a cue for "go get your ball." July we'll start with baby noises, and in August, the stroller (oh, god help me again) will make its debut on our walks.

I'm reading a few books by well-respected dog training professionals on what to do to get the pups ready for bambino. I know that bringing in a baby will be a huge change on them, and I really want to minimize other abrupt shifts during that time. It will certainly be an ongoing process for all of us, and I can't say that I am absent any fears or concerns-- because there are plenty.

I'm also spending a lot of time rebuking accusations that my dogs will become second class citizens in their own home once the baby arrives, explaining to people if that does happen, I will not only be a bad dog mom, but also a bad baby mama as well.

Surely, there will be more to come on this topic, but..

That's a "woof" for now!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Bigger Question about Bo

Obama-mania continues this week, with the latest topic of obsession being over Bo, the First Family's new six-month old Portugese water dog. While some in the animal welfare community applaud the adoption of a "re-homed" dog from a reputable breeder, other massively criticize it, and feel "betrayed" that the family did not go the Rescue Route.

I find it both laughable and frustrating that this is the focal point-- where the dog came from--, and that these major entities are not instead using this media blitz to focus on what a dog needs in life, and how the First Family can set an example for the rest of humanity on the proper care for a dog.

Many friends and colleagues have asked my opinion on the Obama dog, even before Bo came to be, and here is how I feel. I offer up my opinion as nothing more than a dog-mom (of one rescue, and one breeder-dog). How a dog comes to be with a family is far less important than how a family cares for and tends to a dog's needs over the course of his or her life. A responsible family will do everything within their means to make sure that dog has a high-quality of life and does not end up in a shelter or rescue. This opinion I hold that applies universally, not just to the Obamas.

In fact, by setting a good example for America on proper care for a dog, the President and his daughters can do more for the larger world of rescue pets than adopting just one shelter dog. Those of us that work and volunteer in rescue know all to well the realities that bring a dog into a shelter, or cause a dog to need to be re-homed, the latest being the economic crunch that makes pet care more of a luxury than a necessity. But poor knowledge about good training, pet health leads age-old, way outdated stereotypes to persist when more modern wisdom is available.

Instead of spending any more valuable air time on Bo's family tree, here are 10 other topics that can really help the dogs of America.

1- Consider feeding a raw diet when evaluating food options. It might sound rogue, weird, or crazy, but it is a very real option that is much healthier for the average dog. After all, would YOU want to eat the equivalent of dried cereal every day, twice a day, for your entire life?

2- Use positive training techniques!!! This is the best way to build a working relationship and strong bond with your dog.

3- Make sure that dog has PLENTY of opportunities for exercise, including with other dogs. Two walks a day just don't cut it, especially for a working dog that was bred for a specific intent (like a Water Dog).

4- Treat your dog as a member of your family-- not as a possession you own. A dog is not an iPod, a piece of clothing, a car, or a piece of decor. It is a living, breathing being that thinks, shows emotion, and can express itself.

5- Keep your dog at the right weight. Obesity is a silent killer.

6- Keep your dog's mind stimulated. Their brains need activity as well--- Toys are a dog's equivalent of Nintendo DX and Wii.

7- Use positive training techniques!!! (Did I say that twice-- that is because it is important). Choke chains, shock collars, and other corrective methods can severely hurt a dog physically and emotionally, and make the problem worse than what it is. Dog training has come a long way, and we don't need to rely upon those methods.

8- Expose your dog to all sorts of sights, sounds, people, and places, building positive association with each (hmm, there it is again, kinda).

9- Hire an expert trainer. Dog training is not a "DIY." Get a professional trainer who can help you speak dog, because it's a language that is a whole lot different from English!

10- Don't ignore small problems, thinking they will go away. Address the problem properly when it presents itself, whether it be excessive barking, pulling on a leash, or even an allergic itch. So often a small complication is let to progress to a large problem, forcing a family to make a real tough decision.

Many hard-core policy wonks are probably scratching their head over "Bo-Gate" right now, thinking that there are no fewer than a bazillion more critical issues facing this country. But see, this isn't just about a dog-- this really should be about being a better human.

After all that, I really need my weekly puppy-fix, and there is a little Rat Terrier standing on my shoulder (really, not kidding).

That's a woof for now!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Three years of Bruschi

Bruschi's birthday is Saturday, February 21. He turns 3 this year, and it is now hard for me to remember a time when Brian and I were without Puggle. Caring for another being truly changed our lives in a profound way. Bruschi is, and I believe will always be a bit of a menace, and that makes us love him even more.

Here are my top 10 (ok 12) memories from Puppyhood.

- Realizing that a three-month old Bruschi licked my diamond earring out of my ear, then waiting 48 hours to get it back. NOTE: All diamond earrings need to come with screw-backs vs. standard posts.

- Coming home after a Yankee game to find one happy Puggle and one completely and utterly distraught-to-the-point-of-tears husband, who spent 5 hours trying to entertain a puppy.

- Bruschi Graduating "Most Improved" from Puppy Basic. (To say it was an upward climb is an understatement).

- Seeing Bruschi curl up on the couch with Kodi for the first time, snuggling.

- Watching the foster pups teach Bruschi how to take toys out of his toy box so that he did not have to whine and moan for a human to do it.

- The infamous night where Bruschi learned how to escape the crate, then came barreling into our bed.

- The second most infamous night when Bruschi learned how to hop over the extremely tall baby grate, then came barreling into our bed.

- Watching him chase his first rabbit across the back yard, until it ran under the fence, at which point he looked up at us and if he could speak, he would have said "Where'd the bunny go?"

- The day that I realized his ears were finally in closer proportion to the rest of his face.

- Him tunneling into a pillow case, then rolling all about in it until he figured how to get out.

- How he would have the zoomies one minute, launch himself onto my lap the next, and pass out.

- Putting a very sleepy puppy to bed in the crate every night (pre-houdini-ing out of it) and watching him curl up into a teeny tiny ball.