Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pet of the week

My Google Alert for "shiba inu" informed me that Savannah, a Shiba inu mix was Broward's pet of the week.

Savannah, a 6-year-old Shiba Inu mix, was given up because her family is moving and could not take her along.

Every fucking day there are animals abandoned by their owners because of "moving". I know that some people are going to moo and bleat, "Well we didn't have a CHOICE!" "It was unexpected!" "We couldn't find anywhere to keep her!" I'll tell you right now, if you think that moving is an acceptable excuse for abandoning up a companion animal that you CHOSE to bring into your life, you are not just an irresponsible dog owner, you're a crappy human being.

When people give up pets for spurious reasons, they do it with the air that they couldn't possibly have foreseen that they might move/have kids/lose jobs/blah blah blah blah fucking blah in the fifteen years it takes the average family dog to live and die. Which is bullshit. People who can't understand the future and how changes can affect it are either below the age of majority or are candidates for the nearest mental health unit. If you're neither of these things, then there is no reason why the rest of us, on whose shoulders your selfish choice to abandon your dog lies, should not hold you responsible for your pet animal's welfare.

I have marginally more respect for people who take the time and effort to rehome an animal that is not working out for them. Marginally. Most of the time, I see people who didn't think when they got an animal and are now trying to foist the animal's bad habits off onto other people. Buyer beware. "Moving" can be dog ownerese for "Ill-trained animal from unprepared people who are only too glad to have an excuse to give him up".

Tips on moving and keeping your dog:

1. Don't act like a fucking moron and expect sympathy. You are capable of predetermining whether you should take on the responsiblity of a dog. You are fully able to figure out where your life might take you and develop a plan to maintain your dog's welfare that doesn't involve abandoning it for other people to take care of YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.
Think about where your life might take you and how you are going to manage it so that your dog doesn't suffer for your mistakes.

2. Be financially prepared for a pet's expenses. Keep a sum in the bank or stuffed into the mattress to deal with emergencies - if you have to board your dog while you look for permanent accommodations, then you will have the money.

3. Keep up with regular examinations/shots/pest prevention. Get references from your veterinarian to show prospective landlords. A well-cared-for dog is more likely to be a dog that will not damage property or infest it with vermin.

4. Crate train your dog and invest in an exercise pen. People are a lot more likely to entrust their property to you if you can assure them that the dog will be contained when not actively supervised.

5. Get impeccable references from your current landlord, including a letter indicating that you left your house in pristine condition, despite having a dog there. My family was able to find a rental property with three dogs and two cats due to the sterling recommendation by our previous landlord who found his house cleaner and in better repair than when he rented it to us several years previously.

6. Start and maintain friendly relations with your neighbours. A reference from a neighbour, stating that your dog has never bothered them with barking or with midnight visits to their pansies can open up doors. If you have had any problems with a neighbour about your dog that was rectified satisfactorily, consider asking for a reference from them as well - it proves that you are a responsible dog owner who respects the rights and property of others.

7. If your dog is annoying people, do whatever you can to stop it. If your dog is lonely in the yard, bring him inside. If he barks while you're at work, take him to doggy daycare or advertise for a companion to spend the day with him. Pay someone to take him for a walk every day while you are at work. Do not let him run loose if his recall is in any way shaky.

8. Get your dog involved with obedience classes and get your dog certified as a reliable companion animal if your country offers such certification. In Canada, it's called "Canine Good Neighbour" and based off of the American "Canine Good Citizen". It is a certification that proves that your dog has a good temperament and is well socialized.

9. Have a game plan prepared for your landlord regarding the dog. Bring a copy for the landlord to keep. Offer a pet deposit specifically for the dog. Bring along samples of pet rental contracts. Bring copies of reference letters, vaccination records, spay/neuter certificate, and obedience/temperament testing diplomas. If possible, bring your impeccably groomed, obedient, friendly dog to meet the landlord.

10. Put up posters at vet offices, groomers, pet supply and the local animal shelters. Advertise through word-of-mouth. Make up business cards detailing what you're looking for and showcasing your dog's rental-friendly qualities. Hell, go to the newspaper and see if they're interested in a human-interest story. Make your dog-friendly home search everybody's business.

In short, do everything in your power, no matter how ridiculous or over-the-top it seems to keep the dog that you chose to bring into your life. A dog should never have to be a "pet of the week" when they could have been one for a lifetime.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Shibas advertising dog products.

Working in a pet supply store, I have already made a mental note of the products that feature a Shiba on the packaging. Here are two, both from Outward Hound:

Here we have a Shiba who is no doubt delighted to have this water/supply backpack on.

Next, we have something more in keeping with a Shiba's goals: a nice tent for camping! This nylon tent sports bug mesh to keep your Shiba free from mosquitoes.

A closer look:

I think I remember some Ziggys that had a Shiba puppy on them, but we don't have that packaging any more. Akira and Shiro's blog has a post about Shibas in other kinds of advertising.

Last but not least, I have to promote my favourite screensaver: Kissing Canines, which features Libby the Shiba, both as herself and wearing a santa hat.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hair today...

Today, I brushed Tierce. This is the result of 30-45 minutes of constant brushing with the slicker and the FURminator.

I generally have a low opinion of the latest overpriced, overhyped miracle tool, but this thing really works! It has a row of tiny, sharp inverted Vs that catch the dead hair and pull it out of the coat. It's real charm is the fact that one does not have to stop to remove the hair from the teeth in order for it to keep working.

The FURminator, alas, is not without its drawbacks. For the price (roughly $50 Cdn and up), this thing ought to groom your Shiba itself and clip its nails into the bargain. Instead of containing the fur in a easy-to-grab area, like the average slicker brush, it pulls it out in large, amorphous clouds, which float away and glom onto the nearest clean surface. I like the slicker for its ability to pick up the loose hair that the FURminator leaves behind and to generally separate and pull dead hair out of the coat.

The next time you and your Shiba are in a pet supply store, see if they have a test FURminator that you can try out. You may be impressed at the amount of fur it removes.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Shibas in love

Today was our introduction to Beginners obedience. No dogs; our trainer just went over the concepts/purpose/schedule and gave us our first week's homework. Along the way, she stated that "dogs don't love". In other words, she believes that dogs don't have human emotions as we see it and that they operate on "what behaviour will get me what I want".

When I was in the sixth grade, I had a teacher who insisted that dogs were stupid and that if he fed and was kind to my dog, Buddy, that Buddy would follow him around just like me. When I disagreed, he sneered "Don't be naive!" By the way, Mr. Prentice, it's been nineteen years and I hope you are or will be in a nursing home somewhere, being indifferently cared for by light-fingered nurses.

For me, the idea that dogs can't love like humans is rather painful but makes sense. Kind of like my attitude towards higher powers, an afterlife and the supernatural - it would be really cool if it did exist and I really wish it did, but I really don't have any evidence that it does. Then I get depressed, wondering why I keep a dog, especially a Shiba, who probably wouldn't fake giving a shit even if he could.

One issue is that people need for things in their lives to have meaning. We can't just accept the fact that a dog may not care about us the way we care about him/her. We have to have some perceived return on the investment that we make in loving our dogs. Which, for a Shiba owner, can be very, very difficult when the dog is throwing a full-scale temper tantrum at the mere hint of attaching a leash to his collar. Or ignoring you after you walk in the door without a slab of beefsteak in one hand.

I have come to the conclusion that Shassi and Tierce probably don't remotely give a shit about me like I do about them. They would happily go on with their lives as long as they ate, got walked, slept (Shassi) and occasionally (Tierce) had a toy to chew on.

Should it matter whether a dog loves you? It is a human choice to bring in another animal to the family circle and it has to be a human realization that the animal won't value what humans do. I believe that you can (and should) teach your Shiba to respect the things you wish them to respect, but expecting them to value you like you value them is unreasonable.

But it would be nice if it was true.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's that time again...

Well, so far, we have not seen any lethargy, tarry stools, coughing, aching, stuffy head, so I am pretty sure that the chicken that Tierce got into came out in record time.

Speaking of time, it's shedding season again. I've taken a good-sized Pomeranian out of Tierce today, while my boyfriend and other guy friend watched "Balls of Fury". I started out watching it, but it quickly paled for me. The grooming rake quickly paled for Tierce. He wriggled around until I got a firm grip on his scruff or his tail and held it to keep him still. However, he is not protesting with his teeth, which is a Good Thing.

I don't know how this much fur hides inside this little dog. It reminds me when I moved from my apartment in Victoria up to Nanaimo. The whole apartment was supposed to take up half of the large U-Haul truck that I rented. Instead, we wearily lifted the bikes up against the huge pile and barely got the door shut. I had a lot of stuff. Tierce has a lot of undercoat. Maybe I should have collected it to have a picture to show, but I'm just not that dedicated.

Speaking of grooming, the second show handling class came and went. We have to work on stacking. One paw goes down, he moves another one. Damn dog.

Monday, January 14, 2008


It's my beanbag and don't you forget it.

Look, it's 1 AM and I'm sleepy and cute!

Tierce knows what you did last summer.

Tierce and the bones

Fool that I am, I left some chicken wings alone long enough for Tierce to snag a couple. Agggh! So I phoned the vet and was somewhat reassured to know that most dogs weather accidents like this with no problems. Supervise him and bring him in if he seems lethargic or weird or if his stools are tarry. I fed the chicken hound a stomach full of the new potatoes that we had baked up and am crossing my fingers. Might feed him a can of dog food to further cushion any splinters working their way through his little body. Results will probably come out (har-de-har) in a couple of days.

Now: worst case scenario. The worst is if the bones actually pierce the intestine and cause peritonitis. From what my boyfriend experienced when Tierce chowed down on his dialysis line, this is not a comfy way to go. An operation can cost upwards of eight hundred dollars. I am not worried about the expense, as I have ensured that I have enough to take care of Tierce in the event of an emergency. But I am kicking myself for letting him anywhere near bones like that.

So, it looks like we're in for a couple of days of eagerly waiting for my dog to take the magic shit.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sato has been found!

Anonymous found this long before I did...

Trucker reunited with his best friend

Michael Risinit • The Journal News • January 12, 2008

EAST FISHKILL - Maybe someone will sing this story someday, a twangy lament with a happy ending: Trucker loses dog, trucker pines for dog, trucker finds dog.

That's the tale of Sato, a 2-year-old dog who left his owner with nothing more than an empty collar and some memories more than a week ago. But yesterday afternoon, they were reunited in the same spot where life went wrong.

Alen Nelson of Denver climbed out of the blue cab of his Freightliner at the Interstate 84 rest stop as the rain poured down.

Fox-sized Sato, a shiba inu, waited in the back seat of a Ford F-350 pickup. The only thing missing was some whisky or a cheatin' wife.

"Where have you been?," Nelson said to his dog. "I've been looking for you."

With that, the trucker scooped up his damp pet in a hug.

Sato, a reddish-brown dog, responded with high-pitched, throaty whimpers.

That, in turn, produced tears of joy and relief from volunteers who had spent days searching for him.

"This is all we wanted, just to get him back to you," volunteer Michele Dugan of Southeast told the trucker.

Nelson said he hadn't seen Sato since Jan. 2, when they pulled into the rest stop, on westbound I-84, not far from the Putnam County line and Sato slipped his collar. Since then, local animal lovers have searched for the dog.

The trucker speculated that his furry friend, who will turn 3 next month, had gotten confused by the new truck in which they were riding. Sato and Nelson have rolled across the country together since the dog was 8 weeks old.

"He just disappeared among all those cars," Nelson recalled yesterday. "I didn't see him after that."

Faced with losing his job, Nelson had to give up the search and hit the road. A load of frozen bread sat in his trailer and Atlanta beckoned. Later, he had to head west before he could turn his truck back to where his heart was.

"When he walks, he just gets his little feet going so fast," Nelson said, from somewhere in Pennsylvania, as he was heading this way about 9 a.m. yesterday. "I just want my dog back."

Nelson knew then that Sato -spotted two hours earlier -was back at the rest stop. And that's where the skittish dog stayed, as Kathy Hamilton of Kent, Dugan and others spent the morning enticing him with kibble. Hamilton, who is the Kent animal-control officer, volunteered her own time in the search for Sato.

Around 1 p.m., Rob Morrison of Mahopac was able to grab Sato and slide a leash over his head -then into Hamilton's pickup the dog went.

About 30 minutes later, Nelson blew two blasts on his air horn as he climbed the hill across from the rest area, heading east.

The next stop was his dog.

Sato and Tierce

In chronicling Sato's adventures and sudden fame, I was reminded of a little incident that occured just - and I do mean just - before Tierce's and my first show handling class on Monday. My boyfriend had just put him out on the cable outside the door so that he could pee. He was preparing supper and had a good view of Mr. Tierce inspecting the bounds of his tether. Until I came home and asked him where the dog was.

"Outside," he said.

"He's not there."

"Not there?! But he was there a second ago!"

The tether stays out all day and all night and is consequently stiff. Sometimes so stiff that one has to work the clip back and forth before it will move into place. The best we could figure out was that Tierce had gotten lucky and the clip had fallen off his collar.

So... no Tierce. We go out to the front. No Tierce. We call, yell and no doubt introduce new and interesting terms into the general vicinity. No Tierce.

Now all the worst things that could happen invariably flood the mind as one is trying to figure out where that dog could have gotten to. A limp body by the side of the road. A little face in the window of a car driving to Elsewheresville. A hole where whimpers can't be heard. A dog, raccoon or cougar swallowing a curly tail for dessert.

I can only imagine what Alen Nelson is feeling right now, especially having to abandon his pet to keep his job. It must be a comfort to know that a search is underway, but that doesn't stop the mind from going places where the dog suffers and dies because of one little mistake. And, the dog being a Shiba, that one lapse in attention ends up with the little brat revelling in sweet, sweet freedom and loathe to give it up.

I sure hope that Nelson gets his dog back. When Tierce came barrelling towards me to welcome me back from work, it was at the same time a huge relief and an I'm-going-to-fucking-kill-you moment. Fortunately the huge relief and the imminent show class won out.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sato sightings

Search goes on for dog lost at I-84 rest stop

Michael Risinit • The Journal News • January 8, 2008

EAST FISHKILL - The 2-year-old dog who slipped away from his owner last week at an Interstate 84 rest stop was seen twice last night close by the highway.

A woman who was driving on Stormville Mountain Road, which runs parallel to the interstate near the rest stop, spotted the 23-pound red dog with a tan belly about 7:15 p.m. That followed a sighting about 45 minutes earlier on Grape Hollow Road. Both roads, as well as the Appalachian Trail, converge near the highway.

Michele Dugan of Southeast, who works to locate and reunite lost pets with their owners, speculated that the dog, a shiba inu, found the rumble of traffic familiar. His owner is a trucker.

"That's what he's known all his life," said Dugan.

Sato, the dog, slipped away Thursday from his owner at the westbound rest stop, which is in Dutchess County and not far from the Putnam County line. Trucker Alen Nelson was hauling frozen bread to Atlanta when the dog, who also answers to Little Toad, ran away from him. Nelson said the dog was spooked by the new Freightliner rig he was driving.

Sato was used to riding in a Kenworth. His employer told him to give up the search and keep on trucking.

Dugan has put up fliers at the rest stop. She is also driving along Stormville Mountain and Grape Hollow roads with the dog's favorite toy - a plush raccoon - and occasionally squeaking the toy in hopes of attracting Sato.

Anyone who might have seen the dog is asked to call 845-494-1519 or 914-329-6067. Nelson said he was offering a $500 reward.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Search Continues...

Search continues for dog lost at rest stop

Michael Risinit • The Journal News • January 8, 2008

EAST FISHKILL - The search continued yesterday for Sato, a 2-year-old dog who slipped away from his owner last week at an Interstate 84 rest stop.

Sightings of the 23-pound, red dog with a tan belly have come in from Pawling and Beekman in Dutchess County, which are northeast of the westbound rest stop in East Fishkill.

Michele Dugan of Southeast, who works to locate and reunite lost pets with their owners, said yesterday that she was going out to post some additional fliers and look into the reported sightings.

Afterward, she said, she would check out the rest stop, where the shiba inu slipped from his collar early Thursday. His owner, trucker Alen Nelson, was hauling frozen bread to Atlanta when the dog, who also answers to "Little Toad," ran away from him.

Nelson, who was just outside Oklahoma City on Sunday night, said the dog was spooked by the new Freightliner rig he was driving and ran away. Sato was used to riding in a Kenworth.

Anyone who might have seen the dog is asked to call 845-494-1519 or 914-329-6067. Nelson said he was offering a $500 reward.

Reach Michael Risinit at mrisinit@lohud.com or 845-228-2274.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Laser pointers

During the quest to put up my new bookshelf, I found the laser pointer that I had bought to play with Tierce. I figured that I might as well see if it still worked, so I turned it on. As luck would have it, Tierce saw it and immediately pounced at it. This was not the problem. The problem was, after less than 30 seconds of exposure to this little red light, he was running around the living room looking for it - for an hour. I definitely urge anyone who has one of these things to rethink playing with their Shibas with them.

I'm not alone. A Google search for "laser pointers dogs OCD" nets thousands of pages. This page particularly warns against using laser pointers as play or training aids because of the behaviour that they encourage.

I notice that Tierce also chases shadows when we walk at night. It's not appearing to be a manifestation of OCD. Apparently he can understand that shadows come and go, but the light from the laser pointer appeared to have a weird effect on his mind. He even spent 10 minutes staring at my boyfriend's computer tower, at the blue light that indicated its functioning status. A blinking cycling light from MEC elicited only an initial period of excitement, followed by boredom. Kind of like a crack junkie being given a big chocolate bar. Nice, but nothing special and he doesn't really want to eat anyway.

Sorry Tierce, no more little red lights for you.

ALERT: Lost Shiba!

(Original publication: January 6, 2008)

Sato, a 2-year-old dog Shiba Inu, should be riding shotgun in a Freightliner cab tonight on his way home to Colorado.

But the 23-pound, red dog with a tan belly is instead on the loose in the Lower Hudson Valley.

His owner, trucker Alen Nelson, was hauling frozen bread to Atlanta early Thursday when the dog, who also answers to Little Toad, ran away from him at the westbound rest stop on Interstate 84 in East Fishkill.

Nelson, who was just outside Oklahoma City tonight, said the dog was spooked by the new truck and ran away. He was used to riding in a Kenworth. Nelson wanted to keep searching for his friend but said the freight company told him to keep on trucking or find a new job.

People living near the rest stop have been searching for the dog, and ask that anyone who might have seen it call 845-494-1519 or 914-329-6067.

Nelson said he is offering a $500 reward.

Nothing in life is free

Right now I am pissed right off. My landlord's kids decided to throw a party. Early in the morning, my mother came over to pick me up to do laundry. Unfortunately I was dead asleep and did not hear the alarm or anything that ensued. A couple of the kids demanded to know who she was and what she was doing. Then they called her a bitch, made obscene gestures and scared her enough that she did not even come to my door; just drove away and called me on the phone. We're still waiting for the landlords to come home.

We've heard some of the laments from our landlords before. Their children are lazy, rude and unappreciative of the advantages they have. Our landlord regularly mows the lawn; his children never stoop so low. They are helpless when confronted with a set of gardening tools or cleaning equipment. I have never seen them in the laundry room, but you can bet I've met their mother in there.

They are clear products of parents who never set boundaries or expected their kids to adhere to a standard of conduct. Everything these kids got, got handed to them on a silver platter. Consequently, they are useless wastes of skin. What is disturbing me is that they are now threatening wastes of skin. My mother is 73 years old and was deeply frightened by the menacing behaviour of these teenagers.

We might think that this is a human issue, but it is also an issue of importance to those of us who own dominant, pushy dogs who will, if not properly trained and socialized, use aggression to get what they want. Shibas perfectly fit this description. If they are handed everything they get without having to work for it through obedience or certain behaviours, they will assume that they have the right to take it. And take it they will.

Biting dogs are usually made, not born. People just ignore or don't recognize the signs. It starts small - a dog pushing ahead of the owner out the door or growling over food or a cherished toy. An owner who makes excuses for their pet or who does not pay attention is telling the dog that they accept the dog's taking an Alpha role. This enables the dog to think that it has the position to possess, warn and eventually take the final step of attacking to maintain its perceived standing.

I believe that when it comes to dominance, you cannot be your dog's friend. You can love your dog and rely on his companionship, but you always have to be willing to stomp to death the slightest notion that your dog has the standing to threaten you or any other human being. You must always be on the alert and be ready and willing to deal with dominant behaviour.

This doesn't mean that you take a baseball bat and beat the everlivingfuck out of your pooch if he lifts his lip. It means that you need to take the time out of your day to regularly enforce your dog's subordinate position with you and your family. It means sometimes feeding your dog his meals by hand - only after he obeys commands or is maintaining a certain position. It means insisting that he sit quietly and wait at the door when you open it instead of bolting out ahead of you.

It means involving your spouse, friends and children in your dog's education as a subordinate pack member. There's a bit of an ego boost when your dog will only listen to you, but do you really want your dog to ignore or threaten your spouse, family or (Dog forbid) your child when he's being told something that he doesn't really want to do? No. Especially if it involves removing something from his mouth.

I believe if these children were raised with the NILF principles I've outlined for dogs, they might not be the self-serving, rude, lazy, useless pieces of shit that they are today. Tierce might have followed in their footsteps if I had allowed his pushy behaviour to develop into true aggression. Fortunately, there is no way that I am going to allow a dog of mine to be a little shit who thinks he's all that and a big bag of kibble. I'm thinking more of a small bag myself.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Shiba Fitness Plan

I don't have willpower for a lot of things. Chocolate is not something you can leave in the house and expect to get back. I should be in bed instead of noodling around on the Internet. I don't exercise as much as I did or as I should.

However, I've been lately getting a lot more cardio than a few weeks previously.

It's all the damn dog's fault. We don't let him out in the yard because he will dig, spread the landlord's recycling all over the yard and destroy just about anything else that happens to be there. We can't keep him on a cable tie because he absolutely refuses to poop so close to the house. That leaves the lead.

Case in point: a couple of hours earlier this evening.

Me: Type, type, type, click, click, click

Tierce: whine

Me: Type, click, click, type, click, type

Tierce: Whine

Me: "I'll take you out in a bit." Type, click, click, click, type, type


Me: whine

We get the Flexi and head out to the little kiddie playground a few doors down. Right behind it is a small space that is full of underbrush, ideal for a dog to pee on and poop in. Also, the playground sports a garbage can convenient for the poop-scooper minded.

Tierce: PeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeokayI'mdone.

Me: Walk three steps.

Tierce: PeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeokayI'mdoneforrealnow- hey, what's that smell? Is that the Poodle from down the street? Better let him know I'm still here. Peeeeee.

Me: You done?

Tierce: I am now discovering other important posts upon which I would like to send a message.

Me: No. You're coming on to the brushy side so you can do your major business.

Tierce. No! I wanna... well alright, fine. Let's go over here!

Me: No. It's full of blackberry thorns.

Tierce: Nooooo! It's full of RABBITS!

Me: I don't care if it's full of winning lottery tickets and Hugh Laurie. You're not going anywhere near that.

Tierce: Fine! I'll go sniff over here.

Me: Better be preparing for your imminent poop.

Tierce: So you say.

Me: Are you going to go?

Tierce: Eventually. Not here.

Me (striding down the hedgerow): How about here. You went here before.

Tierce: That was before.

Me: Before what?

Tierce: Before you didn't let me eat the rabbit poop right over there.

Me: No rabbit poop.

Tierce: No Shiba poop.

Me: No more walk.

Tierce: You're just waiting for me to poop so we can go in! Don't bullshit me about no more walks, or shall we play chase the Shiba around the yard?


Tierce: You're a bitch.

Me: Right back atcha.

Tierce: I'm not a bitch. I've got balls.

Me: I've got the vet's phone number.

Tierce: poops