Wednesday, February 27, 2008

They play together so nicely.


Mischa (long suffering boyfriend): There is a Kong in my lap.

Tierce (balancing on top of the couch): Yeah, I don't know how it got there. Throw it for me, will you?

Mischa: No. I'm resting.

Tierce: But I'm staring at you!

Mischa: No. I'm resting and I'm Alph- FOR FUCK'S SAKE THIS IS SLIMY AND DISGUSTING! (hurls Kong away from him)

Tierce (leaping off the back of the couch onto Mischa's crotch and launching himself towards the Kong): YAYYYY!

Mischa: That hurt, but not as much as it's going to hurt you in a minute.

Tierce: But I'm cute and I've got the Kongandyouneedtothrowitformerightnow!!!!

Mischa: The only thing I'm throwing is you.

Tierce (drops Kong on Mischa's foot): Throw this!

Mischa: Ew! (kicks Kong across living room)

Tierce: YAYYYY!

Mischa: I'm going to watch Iron Chef. Maybe the secret ingredient today is Shiba.

Tierce: I GOT IT!!!

Mischa: I'm not throwing it for you.

Tierce: But it's riiiiight heeeeeere! And I'm cute.

Mischa: FINE. (Takes Kong and puts it on top of the stack of cardboard boxes in the other room)

Tierce: ...

Tierce: I can't get it.

Mischa: YAYYYY!

Mischa (settles down on the couch): Now life is good.

(five minutes pass)

Tierce: ...

Tierce: Hey, Mischa.

Mischa: Snore

Tierce: ...


Friday, February 22, 2008

Ideal Houseguest

Tomorrow, Mischa, Tierce and I are heading up to Courtenay, BC for a housewarming party. Well, Mischa and Tierce are heading up in the car and I'm cycling it. To make a long story short, I'm crazy and have been cycling long distances for a number of years. And it's going to be nice out tomorrow.

I was thinking about Tierce and the fact that we have managed to bring him along to so many friends' places. He is not obedient, he's still a chewer, we have to keep an eye on him in strange homes so that he doesn't blithely mark in the house and, while we managed to wrest a second dog out of him a while back, still sheds a good deal of hair. Well, it's not so amazing that we managed to bring him to so many friends' places; it's that we managed to bring him more than once.

The key, of course, is that a) we never assume that Tierce is welcome without specific inquiry and b) we take exquisite care that he is properly exercised, fed, confined and entertained. His parasite prevention is kept up-to-date. His exercise pen and crate are standard equipment for an overnight jaunt - they provide a safe, familiar environment for him to stay. I also make a special effort to take him for a good walk and/or a place where he can safely run his little heart out. Tired puppy = quiet, happy guest puppy. We also are very aware of his abilities and limitations and take those into account

I truly appreciate our friends' indulgence in permitting Tierce to accompany us to their homes and feel that the only way to return such a favour is to ensure that his deportment is nothing less than impeccable. Tierce is still a long way off from being a model puppy, so his deportment is largely dependent on his confinement and supervision.

It surprises me when other dog owners don't take these kinds of things as a matter of course. It seems that people's sense of entitlement extends past their overfed and underdisciplined spawn to their overfed and underdisciplined dogs. To my surprise, there have been stories surfacing of late that involve people bringing their dogs to places and events without ascertaining whether the dog was welcome. Some of these incidents have resulted in remarkably non-dog-friendly reviews of the situation. I like to reserve my disdain for stupid, selfish people, not people who happen to love their dogs - some people actually have a sense of limits.

Things we take when Tierce visits:

1) Crate
2) Exercise Pen
3) Dishes
4) Food
5) Kong - silent toy that can be stuffed with treats
6) Flexi and 6 foot leads

If we were visiting off-Island, I would also take copies of his vaccination records, veterinarian records, Canadian Kennel Club papers, identification (he's microchipped, so that has to be noted), recent photos and grooming supplies. Just in case.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Don't let them hang with the cool kids

Shassi was born on August 27, 1993. When I started showing her in 1994, I was often the only person nervously trotting back and forth in the breed ring. I have a bagful of impressively coloured ribbons, but Shassi only achieved 9 points before an unfortunate incident involving my father, an open car door, and the highway going through Cloverdale, BC marked the end of her show career.

Back in 1993, somebody casually recognizing Shassi as a Shiba was cause for throwing a mini-party. It meant that I could talk to someone who understood. Back then the only people who recognized Shibas were Shiba owners or the owners of some breeds who greatly resembled a Shiba in looks and temperament.

In 2008, "Hey, that's a Shiba!" means that someone has a friend or a relative with one or considered one as a pet. This means that Shibas are (slowly) becoming more popular. 16 years after the Shiba Inu was recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club, they are slowly becoming mainstream. With Tierce, proper breed identification stands at about 33%. The other 67% is broken down into "What kind of dog is that?", "Is that a Chow mix?", and other haphazard breed guesses, with the most points going to people who at least name some variety of spitz breed. From one or two breeders on Vancouver Island, I can count at least five who are closely involved with breeding Shibas.

Popularity has its ups and its downs. On the plus side, I can now find Shiba merchandise at the local dog biscuit kiosk that also peddles breed-specific keychains, stickers, and other memorabilia. People actually recognize my dog's breed! It's easier to convince people of the Shiba's unsuitability for their lives when they have a vague memory of the problems that their brother's friend's nephew's sister's dog's best friend's owner went through.

On the negative side, the Shiba can now be found in pet shops and bred by unscrupulous fucking idiots. The more common a breed gets, the more likely that members will fall prey to the shelter/SPCA/rescue roundabout. Being as the Shiba can be a high-strung, dominant, independent breed to start with, rehoming a mistreated/unsocialized/ill-trained one can be, at best, difficult.

A Shiba breeder of my acquaintance lamented that the Shiba people at one dog show she visited were unrelentingly negative about the breed's traits. I was of a differing opinion. I thought then and I still do now, that emphasizing the negatives of the Shiba scares away the undedicated and prepares the tenacious of dog ownership. It also keeps this breed mildly unpopular with those who want an easy ride on the pet wagon, despite its appearance in Vodka commercials and as the evil genius (how appropriate) behind Silent Hill 2.

Unpopularity is the Shiba's saving grace when it comes to people who are not willing to accept and address its unique philosophy that all things exist to be eaten/chewed/played with/dominated. Most owners are already addressing this by rabidly jumping on even a hint that someone wants a dog "just like yours!" with tales of valuable items destroyed and frantic chases through the streets, not to mention the unfortunate incident with the neighbour's cat.

Keep up the good work. We don't want the Shiba to go through what the Akita went through in the 90's, what with being shoved into the limelight as big, unique protection dogs. The last thing we need is someone touting the Shiba as the very latest thing in wash n' wear home alarm systems. Thank Dog they're too big for your average handbag.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Just hangin' around

We're still here; just haven't had much to blog about. We had obedience class tonight. Tierce isn't doing too badly, although he needs a lot more work with distractions. My trainer assures me that someday, if I keep working with him, he will come when called. I have my doubts.

What I am going to do is buy some snaps to attach to a length of the 1000 lb tested cord that one of my friends was kind enough to bring by. I want to take Tierce to the beach on the next sunny day and need something to attach to him so that I can stomp on it when he whizzes by.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Out for a walk

Dog strolling along railway tracks brings train to a crawl in Yamanashi

How could it not be a Shiba?

This kind of reminds me of an adventure 10 years ago with Shassi. Friends and I were hiking Dodd's Narrows, which is a place of rock, ocean, islands and trees where one could watch the strait flow on by. When the herring run was on, the strait was churning with sea lions. It was the first time Shassi or I had been there, or to the house where we started from.

In my madness, I had let Shassi loose, figuring she would run with the other dogs and so stay with us. She did stay with us until after lunchtime. About an hour into the hike back, we took stock of the dogs and found that there was no Shassi. Calls and hollers rebounded into the woods - no Shassi. The best thing we could do was hike back to the house where we had left the cars and figure out what to do from there.

When we got there, who should uncurl herself from the doorstep, but Shassi. Apparently she had had enough of hiking and calmly decided to head back to await us hiking fools. We later heard from some locals that they had seen her trotting purposefully on the side of the road, heading back to the house. Keep in mind that this was the first time she had been to said house, and that via a car, so that made it even more incredible.

Note that I don't recommend this for Shibas or any dog who doesn't stick close or come when it's called. There are a lot of things in the woods who would happily make a meal out of a 20 pound dog and we're lucky that Shassi came out of the woods with nothing worse than a tick bite.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tierce's first sanction match!

Tierce went to the Victoria City Kennel Club sanction match this weekend. We got best of breed! We got a Group Second! Sounds great, except when you find out that Tierce was A) the only Shiba and B) one of two dogs entered in the Non-Sporting category. We did have some good talk with the other person, a lady who was starting to show her Keeshond by herself instead of using a handler. We ended up exchanging names and addresses and maybe we'll see each other again at the shows :)

Tierce kept on crabbing when he was moving for the judge. For those of you not crazy enough to hang around at dog beauty contests, "crabbing" means that his front end and his back end are out of kilter when he's trotting. This looks hideous and is a sure-fire losing proposition in the ring. The thing is, when Tierce is interested in something, he is perfectly straight. It's when he wants to go somewhere that I am not going or when he wants to avoid something i.e. a leash, getting too close to my feet that he says, "I may not be able to move my head away from you, but I sure as hell am gonna move my body!" I'm going to ask my show handling instructor on tips to avoid this.

However, this was not entirely wasted. Tierce got a chance to be in a show-like atmosphere and got examined by a stranger. He did very well for not having a lot of experience and I'm going to work really hard on his trotting and down-and-back for next time.

The ugly world of dog-show-snobbery reared its scaly head today. I heard stories of cattiness, the turning of the backs, etc. People, if you show, why the fuck do you do this??? Even if you don't give an inch in the ring, it doesn't mean that you can't be half-decent to people whose only crime is that they don't belong to your clique. So what if the dog is your competition - he's also a member of your breed and don't you want more people who love and respect your breed to spread the good word about them? Grow up. And get a life - maybe the person you snub today ends up leaving the show, thinking that it isn't worth getting involved because you were a complete fucking bitch to them - never mind your dog.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I'm definitely reading this one

Ruff love

The love of Andrew DePrisco's life is loyal, affectionate, well-groomed and high class. Unfortunately for his partner, Robert White, his main amore also has four legs and goes to the bathroom in the backyard. Don't get them wrong - their 11 years (and counting) human relationship is strong and healthy. But from the first week the New Jersey-based couple started dating, DePrisco made one thing clear: He would always have two dogs and they would always be purebred Shiba Inu. "He wasn't unhappy with it, but he wasn't as committed to that breed as I was," DePrisco says of his confession. "He pretty much had to accept it."

That's DePrisco's number one rule: Never choose a man over your dog. You will regret it, he warns. But that's just one of many tongue-in-cheek - yet strangely accurate - observations he makes in his book, "Woof! A Gay Man's Guide to Dogs" (BowTie Press, $19.95).

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Do I say "Hi" to you with a baseball bat?

He Just Wants To Say "Hi"!

The above is one of the best articles on dog behaviour that I have ever read. It ties in to both the Shiba temperament subject and my pet peeve about dogs who are allowed to run up to mine.

A lot of owners are oblivious or just plain stupid when it comes to their dogs running up to others. They think that just because there is no fight starting immediately that their dog is "just being friendly" when, in fact, he is creating the potential for a severe backlash.

Clothier provided an excellent analogy in the above article, but let me provide another.

I'm walking down a city street and notice a big man staring at me. Without warning, he starts running towards me and nearly knocks me over. He then starts feeling me up and asking personal questions. When I kick him in the nuts and follow it up with a boot to the head, he starts screaming that he's going to call the police and charge me with assault.

Sound fucked up? But that is exactly what thousands of fucking assholes are doing to responsible dog owners every day. The implication is that they can allow their dog to run up to yours and jump all over him, but if there's a fight it's your dog's fault because their dog was "just being friendly". For variety, there's the OMG!thishasneverhappenedbefore! breed of idiot haunting city streets and pathways.

I also love how morons with their dogs on Flexi-leads allow their dogs to pull them over to my dog so that the dog can jump all over him. It smacks of the dog telling its owners what to do and the owners allowing a potentially dominant dog to get into my dog's face. It's like somehow things are okay because the dog was the one initiating contact. Never mind that I might be holding my dog close by my side so that we can pass by in peace.

Tierce is friendly with most other dogs. I like to have him meet other dogs regularly. On my terms. I don't like it when someone else assumes that he is fresh meat for their dog to jump on. I know Tierce and I know that he's a dominant little sumbitch. Therefore, I like to initiate how far and fast he gets into other dogs' faces because he will jump all over them and paw at their eyes and nibble on their ears. Not a good thing with the wrong dog.

Tierce also is figuring out that I will not allow him to dictate where we go and what he does. Because I'm the Alpha and I say whether he gets to meet that dog or run over to that person. Poor little guy never gets to have any fun.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

You can touch this one!

How are Shibas seen in your area? Good? Bad? Indifferent? What the hell is that thar dog?

Today, Tierce and I decided to drop into a local doggy daycare to check out what they had for sale. While I was there, the staff exclaimed over the fact that Tierce was friendly and pettable. They told me that the one Shiba they took care of needed to be lassoed in order to take her for a walk and didn't like to be touched at any time. Seven months ago, my veterinarian said that Tierce might well be the only Shiba she doesn't have to muzzle. Even people at the school where Tierce goes for socialization have remarked that Shibas are snappy around children.

The truth is that members of our breed, when they are not bred and raised responsibly, are nasty little creatures. We're starting with a dog that, even when it is healthy and well-adjusted, is naturally dominant, high-strung and independent. Bred without care and raised without structure, a Shiba will evolve into a canine Vlad Ţepeş.

I blame Shiba owners for the breed's bad reputation. They are not doing their jobs. What every Shiba owner has control over is the structure that they provide and enforce. Yes, yes, I know - sometimes people acquire Shibas that have less-than-stellar origins over which they and the Shiba have no control. That still doesn't preclude them from starting and maintaining control over their Shiba's behaviour.

Insisting that your dog behave politely towards other people and not immediately try to kill other animals is not just good for you and your dog. It also helps pave the way for the Shiba breed in other situations. Breed prejudice has long been considered the problem of Pit Bull people and Rottweiler fanciers, but it can work against any breed not considered "nice". Some people will refuse to rent to people who own certain breeds of dog or refuse to interact with them without a muzzle. This is not how we want the Shiba inu to be reacted to!

Little dogs are often perceived as less dangerous than big ones, and that causes some people to treat their little dog's aggression/dominance as not serious. Every person who has had to deal with a little dog who refuses to be touched, groomed or let someone take items away can attest to this fallacy. While a little dog may not be capable of the sheer damage of a large one, it is still capable of inflicting severe wounds and, in the case of small children, even death.

Things every Shiba should be informed of:

1. Nothing in life is free.

2. Children are living hot dog dispensers provided that you sit quietly.

3. Vets are actually kind people who dispense cheese (most veterinarians encourage you to bring your dog around for random treats so that they associate the vet's office with cheddar rather than shots).

4. Your food/toys/leash/collar/brushes are not your property and you will not treat them as such.

5. Your nails will be clipped. Your ears will be cleaned. Your fur and teeth will be brushed. You will sit/stand/lie quietly and not bite the brush or the hand that wields it. This is not negotiable. You may pout.

6. At no time will you ever growl/snarl/snap/bite at your owner or any person who is put in charge of you.

7. Lunging and trying to kill other animals upon sighting them is not in your best interests.

It's all very well to say "this is bad and don't let Shibas do this", but how do you correct them when they step out of line? Thoughts on this will be chronicled in a future post.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A morning's walk...

Yesterday, I took some pictures of Tierce as we went on our morning walk...

This is our street.

A favourite stopping place on the way.

The path around the Pitch 'N Putt at Beban Park.

There's more in this series, but it'll have to wait!

Selling Tierce's Soul

We have joined up with PayPerPost to see if I can maintain my website by blogging. If anyone doesn't know, PPP is a site that connects bloggers with advertisers wanting to sell something. However, you can be assured that I'm not ever going to type, "Oh, XYZ is just maaahhhvaaaleess! It makes my Shibas soooooo happy!" just because someone pays me to. If I can earn some money writing about Shibas and the various aspects of the world they happen to be connected to, yay me!

Look where Tierce is sniffing! I bet he smells a custom tracking image!

This blog post was what?

Disappearing Act

Anyone seen a Shiba named Gimli?

Well, what do you think? Is it a four-legged predator or a two-legged one? There's no mention of any blood or signs of a struggle, but then again, there wouldn't be with some of the larger predators. However I am suspicious that this rash of disappearances just started out of the blue, it seems. Either a new predator has moved in or a human has decided to augment their income with black market beagles.

I'm pretty sure that all of these dogs were taken from yards or something like that, but the article doesn't say. It's definitely a warning to keep your dogs where you can see them. It's sad that you have to supervise even in your own yard, but there it is. It also says something for keeping a rifle around to kill predators. And, no, I wouldn't care if a dog thief got involuntarily neutered with a 12 gauge.