Monthly Archives: July 2010

Opie’s Bed Head

The only person I can imagine who doesn’t have a bad hair day is a person who is entirely bald.   But who would think that a dog could have bad hair days?  Just look at this mop!

Opie ‘s hair is fine and  wavy and mats up almost instantly.  Brushing once a day is just not enough.  His coat just won’t stay untangled.  He seems to have a permanent case of ‘bed head”    But we love his moppy messiness!  His original name was “Chewy” We don’t think it was just because he loves to gnaw on antlers. He does bear some resemblance to George Lucas’   Chewbacca.   Although in my opinion he looks more like the Jim Candy version from “Spaceballs”.  His groomer has recommended and ultra fine grooming brush with needle sharp prongs. This works well and his  nice “Do” lasts  until the next time the boys take him outside for a walk or a rousing game of wounded caribou.  Opies favorite thing to do is throw himself to the ground roll in the grass.   His favorite place to sit outside seems to be in a major ant highway.  So now  we brush again to get the twigs, leaves and dirt out of  and to get pick the ants off him before he drags them back into the house.   Sometimes I can just see little Opie from the town of Mayberry in his striped shirt covered in mud.  Yes, this is the right name for you!

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Opie the Misanthrope

No, I did not sleep in this bed. Why am I on it? Uh..uh…

Opie’s not too fond of men.  We are not sure why this is, but we are working on it.

We don’t know much about Opie’s past.  We only have a copy of his Kennel Card and what the Rescue people told us. 

Near the first of June, his original owners surrendered 8 month old Opie  to a shelter.  We don’t know why.  The Lhasa Happy Home Rescue picked him up from the shelter about a week later.  He was with them for a bit, and then they placed him with a foster family.   About a week later, we adopted him.  From June to now, he’s been in five different locations —   His original owners, the shelter, the rescue home, the foster parents and finally us.    We don’t know what kind of movement he had with his original owners.  They probably got him from somewhere.   With so many placements you’d think he would have been a nervous wreck when we first met him. However, he was great. That’s why his misanthropy was such a surprise.

As you know we found Opie through Petfinders.com.  We met Opie at the home of the organization’s founder and owner.  Randi had decided to take him on little walk before we arrived.  We were early and met Opie on the sidewalk in front of her home.  He behaved well. No barking or growling.  Randi picked him up and all of us held him including my husband.  I stuck my face in his fur and inhaled deeply to determine if he was truly hypoallergenic. If I started sneezing, we might as well have gotten back into the car and saved everyone some time.   But, there was no sneezing or itchiness or anything. He was quiet and affectionate as all of us took turns holding him.

Then, we went inside of Randi’s home. She had several Lhasa type dogs running around her living room. Opie was the biggest guy in the room. He was totally calm and placid. He wasn’t nippy or demanding of attention.  My husband approved and so did I. The boys wanted him. Unfortunately, I had no idea that we would actually get Opie that day.  My check book was sitting at home in a cupboard.  My husband had a meeting so we went home and got the check book and he went to his meeting. The boys and I picked up Opie and took him to the pet store and loaded up on his supplies.

Later, that same evening, my husband came home.  Opie barked and growled at him.    We didn’t know quite what to do. We figured it had something to do with him entering the house. Perhaps Opie viewed  hubby as an intruder or a non pack member.  We surfed the web, read Cesar Milan’s book in one night and sought advice. We finally got some that seems to have helped a great deal.

Part of Opies problem seems to be that he’s turned himself into my devoted body-guard/furry son. He has a bit of an Oedipal complex regarding my husband. The behaviorist suggested that my husband take a much more active role in Opies care.  Opie is already devoted and well bonded with me and the boys.  He needs to build a bond with my husband. What does that look like?  Well, hubby walks Opie twice a day, prepares his breakfast, lunch and dinner and hand feeds him a portion of it.  He’s opened his home office door so that Opie can wander in and get petted. Is it working?  I’d say yes.  Opie now sleeps on a pillow on the floor on my husbands side of the room.  Daddy is the first person he sees awake in the morning and the last person he sees at night time.

The other part of his treatment is a weekly visit to the dog park.  Opie’s been twice now — Saturday and Sunday.  He’ll probably go again this weekend.  However, I am a little suspicious of the park. Opie developed his second bout of tummy troubles after visiting the park. I think I’ll bring him his own water bowl and not let him share the communal bowl. I suspect some creepy parasite is reeking havoc with his guts.

We’ve had two male visitors since we started his behavior training. Opie barked and growled crazily at both of them, but eventually settled down.  Last night our good friend Peter visited. Peter has a huge Ridgeback of his own named Fergus.  Fergus stayed home, but his lingering essence was probably all over Peter. Opie of course growled and barked, but eventually settled down enough to fall asleep during Peter’s visit. 

Clearly, this will be a slow process.  Opie gets along wonderfully with every human in the dog park – male and female.  It must have something to do with his natural territorial nature.  We’ll know more soon. We have an appointment this weekend with the behavior guy. He’ll probably give us some more homework and more insight into our little misanthrope.


Did we find the right dog for our family?

My eyes are not blue -- It's Mom's flash. She's a lousy photographer

  

In an earlier posting I told you that we had certain criteria that we were looking for in our dog search.  You may wonder how we came up with that criteria.  Well, we found an online quiz. Here is the link: http://www1.dogbreedinfo.com/search.htm    

 The quiz makes you consider things like whether you want a pure breed or a hybrid dog, whether you’ve ever owned a dog before, whether you think you can control a dominating dog, the size of your yard, etc.  The quiz is fast and tabulates the responses to spit out a list of dogs that might be appropriate based on your answers.   When we put in our responses, the list we got contained the following dogs:  Cocker Westie, Miniature  Labradoodle, Petite Goldendoodle, Miniature Schnoodle and Whoodle.    

 Notice that most of these dogs have a little poodle in them. My guess is primarily because poodle mixes are by far  the most hypoallergenic dogs out there, or so I’ve been told.   You may notice from the picture of Opie that he doesn’t appear to be very poodlelish.  There’s a very good explanation for that.  He has no poodle in him.  He is  a mix between a Schnauzer and a Yorkshire Terrier.  Okay, how did we end up with a Yorauzer instead of  an “Oodleish” type dog?   

When we surfed the web for all of these Oodle dogs and we didn’t find one within 100 miles of our location.  Hold on —  that’s not exactly true.  We did find some Oodles in our area, but they were either too old, inappropriate for children , adoptable only with their Tasmanian devil  litter mate, or missing an eye or a leg or pancreas. I suppose if we’d had more patience we would have found a sound and healthy Oodley pup that fit our criteria, but the boys had already gone completely against character for 6 months. We’d made them wait until we got back from 3 weeks worth of travelling in the summer and they were literally chomping at the bit. Too be honest the boys weren’t the only ones yearning for a furry little mammal to cuddle.    

Is our little Yorauzer right for us? Well, let’s see.    

1. He is not only hypoallergenic, but he seems to be anti-allergenic.  I am not assailed by pollen allergies when I am walking him outdoors.  He’s a cure! Hallelujah and don’t tell the pharmaceutical companies!    

2. He is house trained!    

3. He loves me slavishly!    

4. He loves the boys slavishly!    

5. He is a smallish medium-sized dog!    

6. He fits compactly in our car on rides to the dog park.    

7. He ‘s not a picky eater!    

8. He comes when called most of the time.    

9. He has learned to sit when commanded to most of the time.    

10. He is a sociable and fun pooch at the dog park and conducts himself well even when faced with bullies.    

11.  Did I mention that he’s  house trained?    

Now what are his drawbacks?  Well the quiz asked if we wanted a dominating dog. Opie is a bossy little guy who definitely wants to rule the roost.  However, he already knows that Dad is the purveyor of food and treats and neither Mom, Dad or the boys wants his little smelly dog bottom on the couch.    

He is territorial. He doesn’t like anyone other than us to come into the house. He hates the mail carrier, the UPS guy and anyone and everyone walking down the street.  He doesn’t seem to like men an awful lot and barely tolerates Dad.  He barks and growls at our very friendly favorite neighbor.  His favorite spot is right under my chair.    

He steals shoes, socks and anything that looks interesting . Luckily the kitchen trash has a lockable lid on it. He is not a picky eater.    

He does not fetch and if he does fetch something  certainly won’t give it to you  without a vigorous game of tug of war.    

Did I mention that he’s not a picky eater.  We’ve been to the vet to the tune of about $300 for various tummy troubles.  Now, he’s on the expensive vet provided food.    

 Oh and yes, he’s expensive.  Here’s his tally:    

$200 adoption donation. ( We got him from a rescue organization and that fee covered his shots, spaying/neutering , microchipping  and flea treatment and volunteer foster family overhead.)    

$230 Emergency Vet  Fee ( Tummy trouble was very severe! Intravenous fluids, antibiotics, anti-emetic, ant acid and special vet food, Parvo test)    

$170  Initial pet supplies ( dog food, dog bed, ball,  hedge hog toy, tug of war rope, new collar, bag of treats)    

$50 flea killer for yard, special cleaner for puppy accidents ( so far unused), grooming wipes to combat bad doggy butt odor between groomings, doggy brush, doggy toothbrush and doggy toothpaste    

$100 initial check up with regular vet    

$130 check up for recurrence of tummy trouble, special vet doggy food 12 day supply, doggie antibiotics, doggie probiotic powder to fix tender doggy guts    

$25 pet grooming  ( The most reasonable cost here!)    

$180 ( anticipated cost of initial session with trainer/animal behaviorist to help us deal with Opies “ugly man doll”/ territorial issues)    

Okay, did I mention that we’ve now had  Opie the Opulent for a little over 2 weeks.    

Is Opie the right dog for us?     

Even with his little foibles and the fact that he was not on the list of dogs that fit our family, even though he’s expensive as all get out and is personally responsible for them adding a new clerk over at Centinela Feed,  I’d say yes.    

He is the right dog for us.    

As I write this, Opie is playing wounded caribou with the boys outside.  They are having a great time!  So far, I’d say he’s worth the love and affection that he’s spreading in our family. If you pet him on the side of the head he will collapse on the floor and lay on his back,  not his side, for a full tummy rub!Is he one of the breeds on the quiz list? No, but who cares?  He’s the dog for us.  He fits. He’s just like us — territorial, a little bossy, not a picky eater, prone to tummy troubles,  occasionally obedient,  warmly affectionate and yes, costly. 


How did we find a hypoallergenic dog?

What I look like when confronted with pet dander.

I have always been a dog person. Imagine my surprise to discover that not only was  I allergic to cats in my 40+ years but I was now allergic to dogs as well.  I love dogs.  As I child my parents kept German Shepherds as guard dogs in the yard.  Believe me,  they were all looks and bark and no bite. Prince I and Prince II ( Yes, I know that’s confusing, but they let me — the 6-year-old only child —  name them) were complete pushovers.  One good belly rub and the dog was yours.  The worst thing either of them did was pen me down and lick me.   I do not recall having a runny nose or that hair ball sensation in the back of my throat in those days at all.  That came later.  

Now it was imperative that we find a hypoallergenic dog for the boys. We couldn’t get out of our commitment using the paltry excuse of an allergy. In response to my half-hearted attempt to renege on the deal, my steely eyed  12-year-old said one word,  ” Benadryl”.   I had  a choice — spend the next 10 or 15 years popping antihistamines to deal with my itchy runny eyes and nose or get a hypoallergenic dog.  Thanks to President Obama  we knew that such animals did exist. But how to find one?  I doubted the Kennedy’s were going to oblige our little family and send us a little blue dog.

How did we find one?  We did what any red-blooded American family would do. We googled it. We found lists and lists and lists of such dogs.  It turns out that there are lots of breeds out there that fit the bill. Just about anything mixed with a poodle or a terrier will do.  Just to be helpful,  here is the link to one of the more helpful websites  http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/allergy.htm

We started out wanting a labradoodle. We searched high and low for one in our area that met our search criteria. However, they are very popular dogs. We couldn’t find one within 100 miles of our house. There was no way we were going beyond that.  We live in a small town within a very big city. Overpopulation of dogs is a huge problem.  Travelling beyond a 10 mile radius seemed a bit excessive to us.  Luckily,  we had other breeds to choose from.  It was just as well, because we had more criteria in our pooch search than hypoallergenic. The dog had to be medium-sized, have a good disposition and fit our family unit.  We took a quiz that listed the breeds that were good for us.  I’ll give you that site in a different posting.


new Our Family’s Preliminary Puppy Finding Steps

Over the past six months, my two kids, Gregory and Michael, have been painstakingly trying to “earn” a dog.  How does one do this in our family? Well, after preliminary fish, and hamster pets, it is necessary to demonstrate long-term discipline that benefits the entire family unit.  Remember that a dog will change the whole family dynamic so there have to be more compensations to us grown-ups besides the love and affection a furry friend can offer. After all, who’s  going to pay the “adoption fee”, the vet bills, and the added food bills. Let’s not forget that we fully expect that the care of the dog between school hours to fall Mom and Dad.  Essentially, we have adopted another “child” and all the added expense that entails.  The boys have to give Mom and Dad something for all this added expense and effort. We didn’t just fall off the turnip truck!  

So here was the deal. The kids had to learn to keep their room and their primary play area, the living room, in tip-top condition for a total of six consecutive months.  Every time the room fell into disrepair they had to start all over again.  So picking up socks, stray toys and the other kid detritus off the living room rug was no longer my job!  To my surprise and to my husbands surprise our 8 and 12-year-old boys lived up to their committment.   They also agreed to the added condition that these duties would continue along with dog care duties for ever and ever and ever and … Well, you get the picture.

My husband and I don’t make promises we can’t or won’t keep so right after school was out and summer trips were complete we got on-line at Petfinder.com and started surfing the web for likely pooches.  We looked for a hypoallergenic low maintenance dog with a decent temperament.