Monthly Archives: August 2010

Hedgie Found!

Mama’s letting me write this post! I found my hedgie. I love my Hedgie. I’m sorry I lost you Hedgie. I love you. I love you. I spent too much time hiding bully stick and I lost you. Now I found you. I’m never letting you go. No never, never, never, never!

I love you Hedgehog, dearest Hedgie. I won't let you out of my sight again.

Ah, ambrosia! The best squeak toy EVER!

My name is Hedgie! Someone please help me! Squeak, squeak!


Haikus – Bully for Bully Stick

 

Yes, I have the soul of a poet.

Haiku #1

Steer muscle baton

brings happiness to Opie,

but where to hide it?

 

 

 

 

Haiku #2

Oh, my lovely, lovely bully stick!

Meaty stick brings joy

and instinct to hide it well.

Alas, no digging.

 

 

 

 

 

Haiku #3

Hedgehog and Antler

Abandoned for Bolly.

Poor hog,  poor antler.

 

Haiku #4

Safe and secure place!

Bully meat stick hidden well.

Uh oh! Where is it?

Only squeaky ball remains loyal.

Haiku#5

My hedge hog has fled.

Only bone and ball remain.

Oh well, ball can sqeak!


Here I come to save the day — Treat Man!

Preparing for “Treat Man!”

Sunday morning was unusual!   At 6:45 AM we got up to walk Opie.  I offered to walk Opie alone if Greg would clean the bathroom. Greg agreed, but Opie didn’t. Opie stood on Greg’s side of the bed,  wagging his tail expectantly.  He nosed Greg’s hand, licked him. It was clear that he was not happy with Greg staying at home for the walk.  Okay now we’re both going.  That was okay, except that I usually return from these walks completely exhausted.  I need good quality time with my coffee and the cross word before I can bestir myself to do any significant work.   Unfortunately, I was not going to get any leisure time this Sunday Morning. We had an early morning  appointment with our trainer/animal behaviorist Larry B.

Weirdly, since we’ve gotten Opie our house has been a lot tidier than normal. The boys have kept up their end of the doggy deal. Their laundry does not migrate far from the hamper and little toys and things are no longer likely to show up on the floor. Fear of Opie choking on it or Opie destroying the toy seems to have created an obstacle free floor. Everything within Opie’s reach is in pretty decent shape.  How many more reasons to love this dog can there be?!!!!

However, there are still some things that have to be done in preparation for our guest.  Dishes must be washed, the floor vacuumed the  furniture dusted, the clear coffee table cleaned. Oddly, there are little doggy footprints on the end nearest the window. I wonder how that happened?

I roust the boys!  They vacuum and dust while I close myself up in the bathroom with the windows open and create my usual toxic cleaning cloud.  Why is it that when it’s my turn to clean the bathroom, I’m wearing black?  Yes, I am using a product that has bleach in it.  The tub is clean, the sink, mirrors and toilet bowl are spotless!   We finish tidying with an hour to spare. We have our coffee and breakfast and I jump in the shower and clean up minutes before he arrives.

We are eager to see Larry. He costs about $90 an hour, but as far as I am concerned he’s already earned the money on his 2 hour session with us.  You may recall in a previous blog post Turning a Corner — Opie Loves Daddy!  that we had some trouble with Opie in those first weeks. Larry is the one who gave us the advice that really turned the situation around.  His phone advice turned Opie into a family dog and not just my devoted dog slave.  I was happy  and eager to find out what great advice and choice information he would impart to us.

Opie still has a problem with men.  We’ve definitely got to get him over that. But first we’d like to keep him from barking incessantly and suspiciously people who come to visit us.  Larry is going to help us with that and a few other things which will be chronicled at a later date.

It’s Treat Man!

Opie acted predictably and growled and lunged at Larry when we let him into the house.  Opie was clearly outraged.  The translation of his barks was pretty clear.

” Who the *&%# are you? Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out!”

Larry was very calm and knelt down and let Opie smell his hand.

Opie: ” Yes, I smell you hand, you smell likes treats and one old dog and one younger dog and some other dogs that are not so close by. Yes, you smell good, but I’m not that easy, buster. I got my eyes on you!”

Opie quieted for a bit and finally contented himself with sitting under Greg’s leg and looking menacingly back at Larry.  We offered Larry a chair and he sat down and pulled  treat out of his pouch. Opie was quiet and came forward cautiously.  He took the treat and let Larry pet him.

I should say that intermittently this treating continued throughout our conversation, but only when Opie was quiet and not growling.

I got my eyes on you!!

Opie’s self talk:” This guy has some tasty treats. He hasn’t tried anything yet. Hmm those treats sure are good. As long as he doesn’t try anything, I guess he can sit far away from my mom and dad. He better not move. Gee those treats were yummy.  Mental growl, I wish I could just have the treats and he would disappear.  I’m sleepy.”

Larry asked us lots of questions. He asked about Opie, about our family. He talked to the boys individually.  I have to say I was impressed.  So far Larry’s advice had been sound. He seemed to have gotten Opie’s number pretty quick and he was doing his homework with us to see what our family was like and how good we’d be to work with and maybe also what Opie’s relationship was with all of us.

We talked about leashes and walking and collars and food and treats. We talked about dog parks and dog behavior and Opie’s behavior and where it probably was coming from. We talked about Larry’s work at the South L.A. Shelter, the sad situation with rescue dogs in general and the need for more people to be better and more committed owners.  He talked about his dogs. He would take them to the dog park after he left us.

Opie fell asleep almost under Larry’s feet during our conversation.  He’d worn  himself out being alert. He’d rooted around in Larry’s bag and found himself a big chew bone. Larry had taken it from him and given it back to him several times, until he’d finally been allowed to eat it in peace.  He’d sampled a few more Larry’s treats during his good behavior.

Larry gave us our homework  and a couple of things to work on.  Opie already sits when asked 95% of the time.  However, he does not stay at all.  So we will be working on Sit and Stay for a  few weeks before we have another appointment with Larry again.  He taught us how to go about it. and clearly does not subscribe to the Cesar Milan dominance theories of training.

However, he’s not a full on positive dog trainer either. He seems to take a middle of the road approach, pulling what seems like the best advice from both streams.

Our Homework!

We are to work with Opie inside the house where there are no distractions.  He is to be on leash at this time.  We will work on the sit command and treat for that.  Then we will work on the stay command and treat for that.

 How do we do the stay command?  First, we ask him to sit. Then we tell him to stay and then we wait  about 20 seconds  before we give him a treat.  We keep increasing the time that we wait and eventually we step back  from him a little bit.  If he gets up before we are ready we start all over again. We’ll have to do this for some period of the time every day.  Since I started writing this particular posting ( yes, I take a few days to write them!), he’s  can wait  about a minute well for his treat.    Essentially, that’s it.  As he gets better at these commands we’ll move out to the backyard which is full of distractions!  So far we are still in side.  He’ is fascinated  with the backyard!

Challenges

I have a tendency to repeat myself and say the command more than once.  This is really hard.  You know how counter intuitive it is to say something once and WAIT for the creature or person to perform the command.  My boys have trained me to say a command about 20 times before I see some action. Now I have to expect Opie to do it after I say it once. YIKES! That’s hard.  I didn’t realize how well the boys had me trained.  Maybe they might be interested in some sort of behavior modification profession. I didn’t even know I’d been trained!

We’ll see if  I can learn this new trick! 

The boys are really ready to get to work with Opie! 

At the conclusion of our visit with Larry, Opie woke up. He didn’t bark at him, but let him give him a goodbye pet without incident. Opie probably isn’t Larry’s greatest fan yet, but that’s okay.  We’re in this for the long haul! Wish us luck!


Opie’s Tummy Troubles — A Mystery — SOLVED!

 

Be advised this posting will contain Too Much Information about Dog Poo so if you are eating lunch reading my blog… well you’ve been warned.

Opie was having a time with his tummy.  The first week we had him he had a case of the runs and threw up twice. This sent us to the  Animal Hospital’s ER.  We could only speculate about what caused his problem.  He had more than one test of his poo to see what was going on. Luckily, he was  negative for all the big bad stuff.   The vet put  him  on an antibiotic, pro-biotic powder and Vet only prescription pet food.  Guess what? Opie didn’t like the food.  He ate it, but he always left a little.   He’d never left it before.  At my wit’s end,  I decided to do some Internet  research on  tummy remedies.

Here is a summary of my Internet research results

Some dog owners swear by the boiled chicken and rice diet.  Some have even boiled hamburger meat as well. The common denominator is rice.  There are others who swear by the use of canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie, but just the pure vegetable.  Some of the same owners also suggest a little Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate to soothe a bubbly doggy tummy.  Most of them qualify these remedies with a suggestion to check with your vet to make sure that your dog does not have something really awful.  The other night when I was teaching my online class, my students even had suggestions.  They were firm believers in the chicken and rice diet, but cautioned me to be certain that my dog didn’t have anything life threatening.   My children’s nanny suggested a remedy that we both have used on the kids when they were similarly afflicted. Can you guess what it was?

Rice!

My Next Step

So what was my next step? Well, I didn’t dose him with Pepto Bismol.  I don’t dose my kids with that stuff. We’ve always used the rice and apple sauce/banana remedy. Nothing works quite like a banana.   I didn’t want to mix chemicals in an already sensitive belly.  I have no doubt that the pet owners were sincere in their belief in Pepto method.  I have heard it from others as well. However,  I’d rather not mix prescribed medication with over the counter stuff unless I have the doctor’s permission.  I see this as a something to do if  less radical measures don’t work.

I would have given him some banana but Opie does not have a sweet tooth.  He sniffed the banana I offered him and looked at me as if to say, “You eat it, crazy lady. I’m not eating it!”  I think he considered snarling at me when I dumped pumpkin in his plate.  I swear he looked at me and said “YUCKY!!!!!”  There is nothing quite so obvious as doggy disgust.

I mixed his prescription dog food with a half portion of rice. He was supposed to get one-third of the can. I gave him one sixth and filled in the other sixth with rice.  To make certain that he ate all the rice I sprinkled the new meal with some chicken broth.  He cleaned his plate. More importantly, the effect was immediate. 

SUCCESS!!!!  No more soft serve poo!  YIPPEE!

However, like any good scientist, I like to see a repetition of test results. So he had the same meal for dinner. The next morning…soft serve again.  Okay, well, maybe the rice just needs more time to work.  That evening… same result.  Okay what now?  Can you feel my confusion and consternation. The boys were getting tired of walking the dog with poop bags and paper towels to leave neighbor and city grounds in a pristine condition.

Back to the Drawing Board

Back to the drawing board!  We went back to the straight Vet’s diet — antibiotic pill ( We never stopped. ), pro-biotic powder ( We never stopped that either) and 1/3 can of the Vet prescribed food. Result …. slightly stiffer poo.  Okay, so now we have the first day of good poo morning and evening.   Did the vet food just need more time to work? Did the rice finally kick in?  Did the pro-biotic stuff finally kick in? Or did whatever was causing the problem in the first place finally work its way out? 

We ran out of Vet food.  Now what?

After several days on vet food and long conversations with various dog owners, we decided we needed to try something different. I’d read on the Internet that it sometimes took dogs months to get used to certain foods. I’d also read that Yorkies and Schnauzers were known for their sensitive stomachs. Wow, this dog is more like  me than you can imagine!   Maybe there was too much moisture in the canned food.  We conferred with a nice girl at Centinela Pet and Feed and decided to try California Natural- a low ingredient dry food made for dogs with sensitive bellies and allergy issues. It was also easier on our pocket-book than the Vet food. Instead of mixing the food in with the remaining vet food we started him cold turkey on the dry.

That evening he was fine. We had good success. Not only was the poo good, but we could now use comparisons to playdoh to talk about its consistency. Was it fresh playdoh or dried playdoh?  TMI — remember I warned you!

This went on for days. We were finally happy. However, Opie wasn’t all that keen on the food.  He kept leaving 1/2 of it. We knew we weren’t over feeding.  We measure his food out in our old Weight Watcher Measuring cups ( they have a nice long handle!)  He was still not getting any snacks or treats during the day. He should have been hungry enough to eat it all.

Finally, of course we ran out of that bag of food.  Yes did we change.  Isn’t it normal to want your “kids” to eat the food you make for them?  I bend over backwards to make healthy food my kids will eat. Did we owe Opie any less?  We wanted his doggy taste buds to be happy as well as his doggy belly.  Besides, we wonder if the whole problem couldn’t be laid on wet canned food.  We jumped ship from the low ingredient California Natural and jumped back to Innova for adult dogs.  He’d been on the Puppy kibble before.

How’s it going? 

As Tony the Tiger would say… GRRRRReat!

Tummy trouble solved. Opie is perfectly happy with dry food and so are we. No more paper towel need to be carried with the poop bags and that makes everyone happy! Best of all, he cleans his plate!


I’m Legal!

It’s official! Opie is legal. We got our dog license in the mail today!  Yippee!  Now he can really jingle when he walks.

Opie has a total of three tags on his collar.

1. Our tag which has his name and our contact information on it.

2. His Lhasa Happy Home Rescue tag  which has their contact information on it.

3. His dog license.

A lot of people don’t license their dogs.  They probably think it’s one more tax from “The Man.” Well, it is! But it’s a good tax. The money from dog licensing pays for dog shelters and animal control.  Consider the fact that if everyone licensed their dogs, there might be enough money to  fully staff and fund existing facilities and build new ones. We could have more “No Kill” shelters.  We could have dogs and cats spayed and neutered all over the place. We could get control this sad overpopulation. We could give teeth to the animal control people so that they could really go after these people who abuse animals. Maybe we couldn’t do all that, but we certainly could make a dent in the problem.

It’s really easy to do, and it’s cheap!

How easy?

Well, if your town is hooked up with www.Petdata.com, it’s a snap.  Just choose your city from the drop down menu on the site and fill out the form. Voila, you’re done. You can scan your vaccination data in or mail it. I just scanned Opie’s vaccination records and spay neuter certification. I paid for his license with my credit card. Maybe I helped pay for some portion of the dog food at a local shelter.

Did I mention that it’s cheap?  Of course, every place is different, but $25 a year is really not that bad.  Consider how much you spend on Starbucks, the odd pair of earrings or a Slurpee during the year, and it’s really not that bad.   It seems to me that we make an investment in rescuing a dog. This is the smallest expense I have. and it’s good for Opie if he manages to escape the backyard one day and good for all the other little Opies, Tobies, Bogies and Sages out there who need some good Mommies and Daddies.

How important is this? Let’s say that I didn’t license Opie. Let’s say that he escaped somehow. Without a tag, Los Angeles County Animal Control would pick him up. If they pick him up in our area with no tag, they take him to a shelter that euthanizes dogs.  They may or may not call us. They may or may not notice check his microchip. He’s would be in real danger.  Our local city has a new deal with the county. All dogs with our city license tags go to a no kill shelter. I’ve just improved Opie’s chances of survival if the unthinkable happens.

You know what else is cool? Next year this time, all I have to do is “point and click” to renew his license. I’ll whip out the old credit card and… he’s covered.

So, three cheers for licensing! Hip, Hip, Hooray!  Hip, Hip Hooray! Hip, Hip, Hooray!


I Gotta Be Freeee!

Hi, Opie here!

I usually don’t tell my own stories, but this time. I just have to tell you about this cool thing I did.

Mom and Dad and the boys were chillin’ in the living room. They were  watching something . They weren’t watching me.   I had been asleep on my doggie bed, and then, I smelled something, something INTERESTING!  So I hopped up and trotted to the back bedroom. Mom and Dad usually keep the big windows in that room open. I really like that. I can smell everything in the backyard.  Well, the interesting smell was coming through the window.  It was telling me to come closer. I got as close to the screen as I could. I pressed my nose against it and and guess what?

The screen popped open!

FREEDOM!

I squeezed out the gap! There it was. I was surrounded by the interesting smell — FREEDOM!

I was out in the back yard all by myself. Free to crawl under the bushes, roll in the grass and investigate that really funny smelling place behind the gazebo.  I’m not supposed to go back there.  Mom thinks that there’s some sort of old animal den back there. I wonder what kind of animal. Another dog?  I don’t think it’s there anymore.  It smells old.  Yippee!  Mom and Dad and the boys never leave me out here by myself. They think I’ll eat things I shouldn’t eat or poop somewhere they don’t want me to poop.  But, I was a good boy!  I like being a good boy. I get tons of tummy rubs, and I  LOVE tummy rubs.  Sometimes I just lay down in front of Mom, Dad or the boys. They always give me a good tummy rub when I do that. They say I’m cute!

I had a good time by myself for a while, but then I wished the boys were outside with me. They like to play ball with me. I like to chase Michael. He’s fast, but not as fast as ME!!!

Gregory saw me through  the window and yelled for mom.  He called me and I came.   You see, I am a good boy!  Also, it wasn’t as interesting out there without them.  It was kind of lonely.  I tried to get in the same way I got out, but the gap didn’t want to let me in the right way.  Gregory and Michael and Daddy were at the door. They let me in.  Dad called me a “Dickens.”  He calls me that a lot. He also calls me “honey dog.” I heard Dad tell the boys that I’m really smart,  so that’s why it’s important that they keep the back yard gate latched.  Mom washed me with grooming wipes. I got a little dirty.

Anyway, the window is closed every time I go back in the bedroom now.   I don’t mind. I miss the smell of outdoors, but it’s warmer in that room now.

Gotta go!

Smell you later!

Opie


Opie — Silky Smooth and flea free! (hopefully)

Scratch, scratch, scratch! Thump, thump, thump.  Hmmm.  “Honey, I think the dog has fleas!”

Well, we are 5 days away from giving him his flea treatment, but he seems beset poor little guy.  I looked at his documents from the rescue organization. According to those documents, he had a flea treatment a little less than a month ago. In fact,  the form shows that he had his treatment the day we picked him up.   We are coming up quickly on the 30 day mark. I have to say I am not terribly impressed with this treatment. He’s been scratching since we’ve had him — so that would be 27+ days!  I”ve seen the evil  little fleas crawl across his snout. I’ve picked them off and crushed them between my finger tips. Never have a killed bug with more relish! ( Oh yeah, mosquitos!)   Fleas are the reason he’s banned from the bed.  Well, that and that special “odor de doggy” that he gives off from time to time. Luckily, we have leather furniture and hard wood floors. We only have rugs in the living room at the entry way and in the bathroom. There aren’t a lot of places for the little beasts to hang out other than Opie!

We’ve got to wash, vacuum and de- flea every place where Opie’s been and hope that’s enough. Our trainer had recommended a “flea bomb”.  However, I am not a fan of spraying poison indiscriminately all over my house.  My house is not a toxic waste dump! But we’ve got to take action.  Every time he scratches, we scratch — sympathetically, of course! ( We hope!)

Opie before going to the groomers

Here I am before going to the groomers. I think I'm going to the dog park.

So, at 10 AM I took Opie to the groomers for a bath and a clip.  Fouad, the groomer  told me to pick Opie up at 5PM. That gave us time to do a lot.  ( By the way, is this an excessive amount of time to be at the groomers?  I’m not at the beauty salon for 7 hours!  I’d go nuts! Poor Opie, I hope they have good magazines. )

10:15AM  I vacuum the h-e-double toothpicks out of the living room rug.

10:30AM I  spray allegedly “safe” flea spray on the living room rug.

10:35AM Gregory beats the h-e- double toothpicks out of the entry way rug. Then I vacuum it and spray it.

10:55 AM I put Opie’s doggy bed, blanket and towel in the washing machine and choose the steam clean option.

11:10 AM I pull the pillow covers off the throw pillows on the couch in preparation of washing them. I pull the rocking chair cushions off as well as well as the big yellow pillow from our bed that briefly served as Opie’s bed before we went to the pet store to get him the one in our room.

The day was filled with spraying flea stuff, Oxyclean, and washing and drying various bulky items.  By 4:30PM Opies personal bedding is completely dry. Other items are either in the wash or the dryer. The flea spray which needed at least an hour to dry has been dry for hours.

I'm silky smooth!

5PM I pick up Opie who is now silky smooth and beside himself with joy to see us. He looks like a midget Afghan hound with his silky do and newly shaved snout.  He smells divine!  He rides in my lap as Daddy drives us home. He sticks his nose out the window and gets his doggy high!

Once home, he’s a ball of excitement! He’s so glad to be home!  He’s also STARVING!  His last meal was at 7:30AM.  We feed him. Take his picture. Cuddle him and then put his Advantix on.  Dad and Greg take him for a walk immediately. That stuff has to dry and its best if it drys outside.  Besides that, Opie has been cooped up all day at the groomers. He needs a vigorous walk.  

“Gotta walk the cobwebs out,” says Daddy!

Now he’s home circling his bed, pawing at it, trying to stamp some of the dryer puffiness out of it.

My bed is puffy! But I am silky smooth!

Home… silky smooth and on his way to being flea free!


Socks, Sandals and Swords!

“Mom, Opie’s got a sock !” Yells a young male voice.  Sure enough, Opie has someone’s white gym sock. He’s trotting down the hall, tail up and  head up with his prize.  He plunks down on his fleece bed and begins chewing on the sock.

“Opie, Give!” He lifts his head up and I snatch the now soggy sock out from between his paws.  Hmm, it has a red design on the tip and a little “M” for medium on the bottom. This is Michael’s sock.  This of course is not the first time that Opie has absconded with somebody’s sock.  Opie loves socks and he seems to be able to find them anywhere.  You know that mysterious orphan sock that always shows up in the laundry? Opie has managed to find its mate.

I look at him sternly, but he looks back at me with such doggy innocence. I can’t be irritated.

The next evening we are all sitting on the sofa watching Michael and Gregory’s favorite program, “Deadliest Warrior”. I hear the comforting sound of Opie gnawing happily on his elk antler.  He’s under the glass top coffee table in front of us. He’s really going at it. Watching the Navy Seals beat the Russian Spetnaz, makes me thirsty so I get up to get a diet soda from the fridge.  As I walk into the kitchen, I see Opies’ elk antler sitting next to  his water bowl.  “That’s interesting, ” I think.  I return to the sofa.  Opie is still under the coffee table. Through the glass top I can see his furry doggy butt jiggling as he savages the antler. Wait a minute! The antler is on the kitchen floor near his water bowl.  I look up at Opie’s “treat basket”.  We try to keep control of his toys so that he never develops any kind of possessiveness about them.  I can see Opie’s hedgehog, his squeaky bone, his squeaky tennis ball, his tug of war rope and his big red ball. What is he chewing on?  His doggy behind is blocking my view.

“Gregory,  can you see what the dog is chewing on?” I interrupt my 12- year- old who is holding forth on the better quality of one automatic Navy Seal Fire arm over the Russian’s machine gun.  He ducks down, grins at me and says,” He’s chewing on your brown sandal, Mom!” 

“Opie Give!” Opie looks around at me, and Gregory yanks my now ravaged sandal out from between his paws. He holds the wet and slightly ragged sandal by two fingers.   Now, you’d expect me to be a little annoyed now, but I’m not.  Gregory is grinning and Dad pretending that he’s not snickering.  Michael is still glued to the “Deadliest Warrior” program.  They seem to be blowing something up on the show.  Explosions beat chewed up sandals every time.

Now, those sandals were cute, but over time, they seemed to make my bad knee hurt.  I’d been thinking about throwing them out anyway.  “Opie, no shoes… Naughty!”  I say in my firmest voice.  I know that he has no inkling of what I’m talking about.  I’m not too sure about how to break him of this habit.  I do have shoes that I like.  Luckily, most of them are tucked away in the closet. He has not shown any predilection for my every day tennis shoes.  He has fallen asleep with his nose lodged inside one, but there’s been no sign of doggy drool or teeth marks on the white rubber.  I contemplate my ragged sandals. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to buy myself some new sandals.  No trace of annoyance now. I get to shoe shop! Oh and by the way the U.S. Navy Seals beat the Russians!  A great evening all around!

A couple of days later we were sitting around the dinner table eating our lunch. Opie had been walked and fed and was waking up from his nap as we were chowing down on Subways sandwiches. He looked at us, stretched and trotted out of the room.  He returned with a rubber pirate sword double his length  clutched between his teeth.

“Arrgh, Matie! It’s a Pirate Dog I be, Captain Opie Valtierra or White beard ye may call me!”  He struts into the room. I think I hear the sea chantey from “Pirates of the Caribbean” as makes his way to his bed.

I give up. We all give up. There’s no punishment or sternness in anyone’s voice. We’re all laughing now. Gregory has his head in his hands he’s laughing so hard he can’t catch his breath. Michael has started to snort. And Dad, he’s trying not to choke on  his sandwich. Opie looks at us and with sword still clutched between his teeth tilts is head to the side. There’s no doubt that our behavior is puzzling to him.  He drops “his” sword on his bed and comes over to the table to see what in the world our problem is.  Jumping up with his paws on my knee, he seems to say, “What’s going on? Are you guys alright?”

I rub behind his ears. He licks my hand.  I scratch his back. He plops down and rolls over for his belly rub!  A giggling Michael retrieves the toy sword!

Has Opie learned his lesson? Yes, and this is what it is. Bring in funny things from the boys’ room and get a belly rub from Mama.

Oh well! Cesar Milan, I ain’t!


Turning a corner — Opie Loves Daddy!

I love my Daddy!

In the first days, Opie wasn’t too keen on  my husband.   Whenever  Daddy entered the house or even entered a room, Opie would growl and bark at him.  Ears and tail angled down,  he’d hide under my chair whenever Greg walked around the house.  These were clear indications that he was frightened.  Now, those of you who know us personally, know how ridiculous this is.  Greg may be a sharply intelligent fellow, but he is not scary.  A gentler and  sweeter man never walked the earth!  Greg was not happy with this situation, and the kids were not happy either.  My eldest son was irritated by Opie’s attitude.  There were quiet late night conversations about giving Opie back to the rescue people if things didn’t turn around — and not just among the grown-ups in the house.  In our application, there had only been one thing we’d noted that would make us return a dog — viciousness.  I don’t think anyone really believed Opie to be vicious.  He was too sweet to the boys and to me.  However, nobody wanted Greg to be left out of the puppy love fest. Opie could ignore him, but he couldn’t growl and snap at him. That was completely unacceptable. Opie was supposed to be a family dog.  He had to like everyone in the family!

We tried outright bribery! Greg would give Opie treats if he came to him when called.  This worked a little bit, but just when we thought it was really working, Greg would go to the bathroom and come out and get growled at.  Tail down, head down , teeth bared and growling — this was not some sort of puppy game.  The bribery didn’t work.  It was time to consult an expert.

I put out a somewhat frantic emergency email to the Culver City Friends of Animals. Their response was immediate and the organisation’s head referred us to an animal behavior/dog trainer.  We called other trainers while waiting to hear back from him. That’s when we learned exactly how expensive training Opie out of this behavior might be.  Not only was it a big money committment but a huge time commitment as well for the entire family. I was beginning to feel as if I had bitten off more than I could chew.  

Luckily, our first choice returned our call.  He was of course booked solid until mid August. Luckily, that didn’t stop him from giving us some “homework” that he felt would make an immediate difference.  Here was our assignment:

  1.  Mom needs to disassociate herself a bit from Opie. ( No more gratuitous belly rubs, or other spontaneous “love’!) Mom is over bonded.
  2. Opie needs to have firm boundaries in the house ( So, the living room furniture was now firmly off-limits.)
  3. Dad needs to walk Opie at least twice a day
  4. Dad needs to be the one who feeds and treats exclusively for a while.
  5. Dad needs to hand feed Opie the first part of every meal.
  6. Opie needs to go to the dog park.

I can’t tell you how hard the number 1 task was. I could only look on longingly as Opie was petted and “loved up” by others. I had to ignore him. 

Opie wants a belly rub

Rub my belly! Rub it! Rub it NOW!!!!!

 I did tag along on the walks.  Opie’s walk is the best exercise of my day! I worried that my tagging along on the walk might interfere with the bonding. Opie kept looking back at me on the walk.  However, my tortoise like progress allowed my husband to practice Opie’s “Sit” command several times during the walk. Opie got lots of praise and treats from him whenever he complied.  This had to help the bonding process.

A firm “Off” command over a couple of days and Opie understood that he was limited to the floor.  He was also banned from Mom and Dad’s bedroom.  Dad took over the evening walk exclusively.  Opie learned to “Heel’ and got to cover a lot more territory with my husbands ground eating strides. He was good and exhausted after these walks.  He got lots of praise and treats on his walk for “heeling” and “sitting” when asked.  He reveled in his obedience!

Opie was rather cagey about the food issue, though. We finally saw a complete turn around when we increased Opie’s meal times from two meals a day to three under vet’s orders.   Dad’s hand feeding three times a day seemed to really do the trick.    

Wahoo!

Opie loved the dog park!  The break from the human pack was like the prize at the end of a good week of long walks.

We continue to see improvement in Opie’s attitude everyday. Our behaviorist gave us concrete things that are really turning him around.

Ball? What Ball?

I can safely say that the problem between Opie and Dad is solved.

Opie is slavishly devoted to Greg. He no longer barks at him. Opie  comes when called with ears and tail up, visits him in his office and sits at Dad’s feet adoringly.Opie at the Dog Park He spontaneously rolls over in front of him for a belly rub. He greets him happily at the door when he comes back from an errand or work. When Greg pulls out the leash Opie is ready to go!  He sits patiently but happily at the front door and waits for his leash.  

 One thing Greg discovered while learning to deal with Opie that surprised us all!

Greg has a deep voice.  When he said “Good boy,” he had a tendency to drop his baritone even deeper. Opie’s tail would and ears would immediately drop.  I noticed that our deep voiced male veterarian talked to Opie in falsetto. I suggested this  to Greg and once again we saw another improvement.  Maybe Greg’s baritone rumble sounded like a growl.

In any case, Opie is now a  true  family dog!

I can’t wait for Opie to show off to the trainer.  Maybe we can work start working on his AKC good citizenship certificate! He already knows how to sit, and he comes when called.  We just need to work on the requirements for that good citizenship certificate.  We all want Opie to get a good report card.  Now that he understands that everyone in the house loves him maybe he’ll be more relaxed about our friends and neighbors, and dare to dream….the mail carrier!  I think he’s on his way!


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