And, We’re Back!

I’m back! I’m sorry it took so long. It’s amazing how long it takes to get back into the swing of things after you’re out a computer for a few weeks, but now (knock on wood) I think everything is all right.

Anyway, things have been going pretty well over here, for the most part, and I have lots of posts for you the next couple of days, but I’ll start out slow. I’ll have more for you in the next couple of days!

A Brief Hiatus

Hi All!

Just wanted to let you know that I didn’t create a blog and promptly forget about it! My computer has been down for the past week, and the problem has been diagnosed as a defective hard drive.  It is currently in repair and I’ll be hopefully back to regular blogging early next week!  

Thanks for understanding!

Cara

Petfinder’s Luckiest Pet!

Want to help me out in a big way?

Vote for Maple in Petfinder’s Luckiest Pet Contest.  Just type Maple into the search bar and you should see this picture of her! She’s advocating for the Ohio House Rabbit Rescue– which is a really great animal rescue in Columbus that I happen to work with!

Thank you so much in advance for voting!

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Shed Happens

I am a clean freak.  I have a very specific cleaning schedule.  The house gets swept daily, vacuumed every other day, and dusted/scrubbed weekly.  Once a month, I pull the furniture out to sweep behind them, clean out the refrigerator and microwave and anything else that just doesn’t get done regularly.

Don’t worry- I’m not totally crazy. I’m not extremely strict on my schedule.  If I have better things to do than clean, I do the better things instead.

Shedding has been a new kind of experience for me. Growing up, my dad’s allergies stopped us from having dogs that shed much, which is why my parents have a poodle and shih-tzu. I even tried to adopt a low-shed dog, but they were always on the way out as I was walking into the shelter. Everyone wants a low-shed dog.

When we adopted Maple, I knew that bringing her home meant she was going to shed all over my pristine home.  It’s fine, I told myself. She has short hair so I’ll brush her regularly, and I’ll vacuum a little more often and I’m sure I won’t even notice.

Wrong.

Her little black hairs seemed to be exclusively on my light colored Pergo, her white hairs were exclusively on my dark carpeting.  My blankets and sheets looked like they were half fabric, half fur, and Maple didn’t even sleep with me.  And even though her fur blended in with the color of the couch, you could see it all over your clothes when you walked away.  I thought about at least stopping her from going on the couch, but, like I wrote about here, my favorite part of the day is cuddling with her.

The first brush I bought was a regular dog brush with soft bristles on one side, harder bristles on the other- the same brush we used for the dogs when I was growing up.  As I’m sure those of you with shorthaired dogs know, that doesn’t do much at all.

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Maple’s brushes: the left most brush was our first try, the right most was our second try, the center is the FURminator.

So we switched to a rubber brush. It was supposed to gently pull loose hairs out of her fur, and I could also use it to brush hairs off the furniture and carpets. It did both- but it didn’t cut back on her shedding, though it was really good for scrubbing her at bath time.

I heard about the FURminator long before I got Maple.  But at $50-$70 for a dog brush, it seemed a little ridiculous.  I set aside a specific amount of money per month just for Maple, but I promised myself that I wouldn’t spend it on a FURminator if it could be better spent on something she would really enjoy, like a new toy or some really good treats.  But last weekend, I decided it was time.

And holy cow, does it work.

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It’s tough and it has small teeth that reach down to pull out the loose hairs in her undercoat.  And it pulls out lots of hairs.

I mean lots.

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Post-Furmination hair.

And her coat looks noticeably shinier, which I didn’t think was possible just from brushing

Regardless, I haven’t seen a significant reduction in her shedding yet- but we’ve only done it 2 times.  You’re supposed to do it 1-2 times a week, so maybe after a while I’ll start to see less hair on the floors and couch.

What grooming tools do you use on your pets?

How to Make a Reactive Dog

We only had Maple for about three months, but everything was going well.  She hadn’t chewed up anything, she was really calm, and she seemed to like other dogs.  We worked hard on socializing her; every night we went to the dog park and on a walk.  If the dog’s owner was comfortable, we would let Maple meet other dogs on her walk. And we were working really hard on not pulling. 

She was phenomenal.

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The car was all packed up and we were ready to go on a long car ride to visit my parents in Cleveland.  I was walking Maple out to the car when, all of a sudden, the neighbors’ dog shot out of their door, straight at Maple’s throat.  She pulled Maple to the ground, snapping at her in every direction. Luckily, Maple was wearing her harness so Ian could pull her out to scoop her up, as the neighbors’ dog snapped at her heels.

I was stunned.  The neighbors just stood by, watching and saying, “Well, she’s never done that before. 

Their kids sat on the back of the truck yelling, “Fight, fight, fight!”

Ian turned to the kids, looked them in the eye and said “Don’t you ever say that to a dog again. Ever.” To this day I’m thankful that he said that, and I hope it stuck with them.

We got in the car, and I checked Maple out for any bite marks. She was fine, but obviously uneasy.  I felt sick, but I was glad she was okay.  It was only a few seconds, maybe a full minute.  And she was fine.

It wasn’t long after that was started noticing the changes. When another dog would walk by while Maple was out going potty, she would start growling, and if the dog got too close, she would lunge at them. 

Soon, she would start growling and barking when we would pass dogs at walks.  If she was allowed to greet them, everything was okay, but if she couldn’t, she would pull and growl. 

We tried to look up all different ways to calm herdown.  We contacted our trainer, the shelter we adopted her from, and another local shelter for advice on how to deal with it.  Nobody had a straight answer. We read articles on how to calm dogs down when they’re suffering from leash reactivity and most of them involve treating to teach them that it’s okay.  But unfortunately, Maple is so anxious on walks that she won’t even accept treats, not her regular biscuits, apples (which are her favorite), or the freeze-dried liver treats (which she otherwise would do anything for). 

Since then, it’s been rough.  Taking her for a walk is difficult, and sometimes embarrassing. We get dirty looks from people as we walk and I just wish I could scream, “She’s a great dog- she’s just been nervous ever since she got attacked.  But she deserves to go on a walk, just like your dog.” Someday I hope that she learns that walking is safe again.

That’s why I was excited when I read yesterday’s post over at love and a six-foot leash, where she recommended Dogs in Need of Space.  She has some great sources for how to deal with reactivity, but beyond that it’s a great community of people who have dogs who just, need space. 

Does anyone else have a reactive dog? How have you dealt with it?

My Favorite Part of the Day

After the rush of a whole day, after working, going to the gym, walking Maple, cooking dinner, sneaking in a little wedding planning and whatever else the day might bring, Ian and I snuggle on the and watch Netflix until we get sleepy.  As soon as we’ve sat down and pulled out a couple blankets, Maple starts pacing the floor, looking up at us with concern.  She wants to sit with us.  Not with us, because if that were all she wanted she would just hop on the couch.  There’s plenty of space. 

No. She wants to sit between us, touching us both. 

Ian laughs as we slide apart and Maple hops up to her “spot”, curled in the crook of my knee.

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There we go… absolutely perfect.

Life in the Townhouse

When I was growing up, I always wanted more pets.  At different times, we had gerbils, a Guinea pig, hamsters, chinchillas, a turtle, and all sorts of frogs. When I was in second grade, I came up with a whole list of reasons why we needed a cat despite my dad’s allergies. After quite a bit of determining, my parents took my siblings and me to the local shelter to adopt Whiskers, the troublemaker who stole my sister’s pacifiers right out of her mouth.

And, except for a brief period of time between third and sixth grade, I always had at least one dog.

But, usually, when I decided I wanted another pet, my mom’s answer would be “When you’re living on your own, you can have whatever you want.”

As it turns out, if you grow up with a dog, living without one is really difficult.  So when I graduated college, I moved into a pet-friendly apartment complex and in a month I adopted Maple

This isn’t what I would recommend for everyone.

Having a dog in an apartment requires a lot of commitment.  Here are some of the reasons.

  1.  Pet rent.  Most of the time, apartments require an additional rent for pets.  I pay $20/month to have aple, plus a non-refundable deposit. It’s worth it since I get to have her around, but, when you think about it, it’s pretty pricy.
  2. Neighbors. Living in an apartment means you’re pretty close to all of your neighbors.  Close enough that you can hear them through the walls.  Which means that they can hear your dog barking.  Plus, we have to be extra cautious that she doesn’t run off. We generally don’t run into these issues, but we have neighbors who do.
  3. Potty time.  Instead of just being able to open the door and let Maple out, I have to go outside with her and wait for her to go.  And then I have to clean it up. Immediately.
  4. Exercise. Most dogs need lots of exercise. Without it, they can be destructive and even aggressive.  So, in order to make sure Maple is getting enough exercise, I have to drive her to the dog park and/or take her on a walk.  It’s great to exercise any dog, but for an apartment dog, it’s imperative. Even when you’re tired.
  5. Training. There is only so much training you can do inside the house. Maple’s mastered recall indoors, but as soon as we go outside, she can’t do it anymore.  And it’s outside that it really matters.
  6. One-on-one play time. Don’t get me wrong, going to the dog park is the best. But sometimes I just want to take Maple out to the backyard and play fetch or roughhouse. Just her and me.
  7. Weather. Sometimes, it’s just too cold or rainy to take Maple out. Which means we have to be creative with how to keep her stimulated, so that she doesn’t get out of control inside.  We have lots of puzzle toys. And we play lots of tug-of-war.

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Some dogs do better in apartments than others.  French bulldogs are supposedly really great apartments dogs, and I’d bet my mom’s Shih-Tzu, Maude, would be just fine. I knew adopting Maple would be challenging, and I was up for that challenge.

Do you have an apartment dog? How do you handle the challenges you run into?