a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: June 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tunnel Chase

SUMMARY: Running dogs.

This time, Chip is chasing Luke. Sometimes it's the other way 'round.  For several days, Luke didn't do the tunnels at all. Then he walked through the straight one (in the background) a few times on his own, then for a few days, during chases, he'd run through it, back around, and through it again, repeat repeat repeat.  I finally saw him walking into and through the curved tunnels a couple of times. Running through these other tunnels is new today as far as I know!

(Chip already had been doing some running w/Luke and chasing the dog next door and is tiring out, so this isn't the full-blast chase.)

Luke learned the tunnel running during chases from Chip. He also learned the going back and forth inside from Chip.

Insect repellants and sunscreen

SUMMARY:  What works, what doesn't, how to apply; my summary from Consumer Reports July 2015

Tick on my jeans, Sierra Azul, April 2008
I'm active (well... was.  well... sometimes am). I like to be out and about, which puts me into the open air at times of the day and locations where bugaboos (mosquitos and ticks in particular) like to go bitey bitey bitey, and when the sun is high and harsh. The odds of developing dangerous skin cancer (melanoma) are increasing rapidly (about 1 in 50 people will develop it) with all the crap we've wrought upon our atmosphere, and the increasing incidences of West Nile Virus and such also are as a result of our meddling.

So, some useful info (mostly because I can never remember the important bits, so here it is).

Check the issue of the magazine for details.

Insect repellents

(They didn't address whether these are safe for pets.)
  • Apply repellants only to exposed skin and clothing, not underneath. Don't apply directly to face; apply to hands and rub onto face. Use just enough to cover; applying too much chemical does not work better.
  • They say, "At the end of the day, wash treated skin with soap and water, and wash treated clothing in a separate wash before wearing again." (Emphasis mine; interesting.)
  • My summary of what works:
    • Best: 20% picaridin
    • Best: 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus
    • Good: 15-25% Deet, varied by other ingredients, so sometimes a 15% blend is more effective (see report). Do NOT go over 30%.
    • Good: Sit near a full-power fan, blows away a lot of mosquitos.
  • My summary of what doesn't:
    •  "All-natural" repellants, (The best were effective no more than an hour, and others didn't work at all.
    • Wristbands.  
    • Skin So Soft (despite persistent lore).
    • Citronella candles, portable antimosquito diffusers.


What works:
  • SPF 30 or higher with UVA and UVB (broad-spectrum) protection.
     (UVA rays are present during the day no matter the weather or time of day or year, promote the aging of skin, and increase the likelihood of developing melanoma. UVB are more present from 10 to 4 and on sunny days, and cause redness/burning. Therefore, use a broad spectrum that protects against both (again, claims might be inaccurate).)
  • Hanes Beefy-Ts and Eastbay Evapor long-sleeved compression crew both provided over 100 SPF, so you don't even have to buy special SPF clothing.
What doesn't work:
  • You can't always trust the SPF on the container. Use CR's list of tested items.
    Ouch. March 2008
  • "all natural" or mineral screens don't usually work that well. CU rates only one even Good, but if you have allergies, you could consider that one (California Baby Super Sensitive 30+).
  • You don't have to pay a ton to get good results (see ratings).
  • They don't have to be gross and oily (some might start that way but rub in w/in 30 seconds and then are fine).
  • Apply 15-30 minutes before going out into the sun. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours even if your skin isn't looking red, because the damage might not be visible until a while after it actually occurs.
  • 1 teaspoon per body part (e.g., neck, arm)
Get out there and be safe!  (That's a note to me just as much as anyone.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Names names names

SUMMARY: Darn it, Chip and Luke are nothing like each other!

And yet--time after time, in spoken words and in my blog, I type the wrong name.

Sigh. I might have to change Luke's name after all, because apparently my brain thinks they're the same thing. Because they're both common, one-syllable, 4-letter boys' names, or, I don't know. Darn brain. It might be like SP changed Cutter to Butter because she kept following the K sound with Kinetic instead of Cutter (same breed, new adopted dog).

Now would be the time to do it if I'm going to. But I haven't been obsessing for months over possible dog names, so I'm going to have to start, and do it fast.

I've called him these, more or less deliberately, while dealing with him the last week:
  • Loki
  • Punk
But I also believe in the power of names in ones' own mind, so by calling him either of those, I'm expecting him to be naughty.

I also thought briefly about Stark. Hmm. Maybe I'll think more about that. You think he looks like an ironman?  And it's not too much off Luke, but at the same time, different from Chip. I think.   

(Fun interlude into brain pathways: You have to understand how my mind sees names...  oh, yes, you have to ... For example, if I'm struggling to remember someone's name, I might come up with Jack Smith, and it turns out that his name is John Brown, because, I guess, Jack and John are both common, 4-letter, one-syllable men's names starting with J, and Smith and Brown are both common, 5-letter, one-syllable last names. Really. This sort of thing happens to me all the time.  It's possible that that's from a lifetime of doing crossword puzzles, but who knows.)

Anyway, by those rules,  Luke and Stark would NOT be the same--latter is not common, is not four letters, and doesn't start with the same letter.  Hmmm.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Well, This is a Bit More Complicated Than Expected

SUMMARY: Luke and company.  With only 2 interruptions.

This new dog is not, by any means, housebroken.

I'm trying to start over from scratch. I take him outside every time he comes out of his crate, after he's eaten, after he's played, and before I bring him into the house if he's been out in the yard for a while. And yet I had TWO pees in the house today:

  1. He and Chip were playing in my office, and then he played alone with his newly discovered Love, the Giant Dog Cushion.

    (This is after I had to soak with bitter apple the corner of the cushion's cover where the zipper pull is because he was determined to chew it off.) I was counting some things while sitting at my desk. Luke stepped away from the cushion and stood there panting. I dropped the file back into the drawer so that I could take him outside, and I said, Come On, and he bent his back legs and peed right there on the carpet. I had taken him out and watched him pee less than half an hour before that.
  2. I was lying on the couch. He and Chip had been playing. As often seems to happen after play sessions, it ends with Chip lunging and snarling at him. I managed to talk them apart and was soothing Chip. I stood up and walked briskly towards the door, saying, Let's go, Luke! and he briskly dashed ahead of me, stopping suddenly to pee on the sofa cushion leaning under the dining table.

Jeez. I don't know how to manage this!  I suppose I should post a photo of the huge pile of rags I've used in the last week.  I've had to refill the Nature's Miracle squirt bottle 3 times from the gallon refill.

Yesterday I think it was zero times, but he was in his crate and I was gone for over 8 hours total.

The day before, 3 times. Once I wasn't paying attention, and the other 2 times, somewhat like today, I was paying attention. And a few other times in the preceding days. Potty training feels like it's getting worse, not better.

I had not expected this.

[Hola! Just now it's been just over 15 minutes since last pee. Since then, a bit of playing with Chip, a bit of chewing on a bone, and then Luke just got up and started wandering around, nose down. Whipped him outside and sure enough he peed a bathtub-load! Where does a little dog like him KEEP all that pee? This is the problem--peeing. all. day. long, and me taking him out--all. day. long. But this time, at least, I won.]

I don't like the way the play often ends between the two of them, and I can't see what's making it happen that way. I'm delighted that they'll play wrestle for 3 or sometimes 15 minutes, and often in that casual we're-both-lying-down-and-gently-interacting kind of play. But, so often, suddenly Chip is going after Luke, and Luke today is starting to return the action.

I don't know whether to try to keep them separated all the time, or to just break up the play quickly after it starts, or what. Darn it.

Luke does not return thrown toys and in fact doesn't even always chase them. If I try to play with him with a toy, he ignores me or he grabs my hand & wrist & fingers (whatever's available), neither of which is lovely.  I thought that it wasn't hard enough to hurt, but sometimes it is when I'm not in an easy position to get him off, and I'm realizing that, yep, after a week, my wrists and hands are bruised.  (Here's a truly gentle finger grab.)

 I can interact with him with food, and that's mostly it so far.

He has definitely graduated from finding dog toys everywhere (for days I kept being amazed at how well he knew which were dog toys and which weren't for the most part), but now he's in full-on assault on anything that I might have worn (shoes), touched (something that fell on the floor), moved (wastebasket full of stuff), etc.

On the up side, he's still just as cute as ever.

He's very smart. I love it when he makes that eye contact to get a treat for something.

He made me laugh (and curse) at the same time,  as I tried to keep him in the kitchen with me by closing the doors during the times I was there--and within a day he had figured out how to jump down (and back up) through the railing overlooking my carpeted office.

Like Boost used to do.  Of the six dogs I've had in this house, these are the only two to do that. (Jake used to jump down, but never back up.)

[Whoa, look, now he has a pair of my underwear!  We're not into "Drop it," apparently, and I have to get his attention that I have treats before he'll consider whether it's worth it to come back for it. Nope, doesn't want the kibble in the pocket. I race for the Zukes in the cabinet while he races for the yard. Didn't I close off my bedroom door? Oh, right, moved it when I went upstairs for pain pills a bit ago. Up I go to close it off again.]

He never stops moving until he sleeps.

I managed to get some of his sewing-needle-sharp toenails clipped this morning, but it took a long time; I'd hold his paw, stick a treat in his mouth, grab my clippers, line them up on his toenail, and he'd be wiggling and grabbing at my hand already.  Not a lot, not like in terror, but like as in come on don't keep sitting here holding my paw!

He's getting better and better at sitting in the back of his crate and waiting for a release when I open the crate door (thank you, crate games), but getting onto the floor and back up, or bending to do it, even if I drag a chair over every time (which I stopped doing after the first day, jeez).

[OK, he's decided that it's time to jump on my hands and grab them, and I have to disentangle him and get him into his crate again. DEFINITELY nap time again, even though it's only a little before bedtime. Just like a toddler, I can tell when he needs a rest by the increasing level of brattiness. So far, he's never giving himself the luxury of just lying there.]

He comes in from the garage quickly after I go out for something and come back in, even if he's distracted, because he comes when I call (not from anywhere else, but from the garage).  I always have to remember how very long it took for Tika to decide to pay attention when I called her in from the garage.  A long long long long time, and I think she was older than Luke when she got here.

But All day long during the times when he's out of his crate (back in every couple of hours so I can rest or when he starts acting like a brat) it feels as if I'm constantly practicing back-away-from-the -treats-and make-eye-contact or stay-away-from the table-top or don't-get-into-the-trash or please-go-pee or I dunno whatever, dispensing treats often for many things and some things I see improvement but jeez I am physically exhausted.


TIRED. And sore.

I keep reminding myself: You knew he'd need work. You know that you'd have to give it at least 6 weeks to figure things out into a calmer life. You knew these things.  I just didn't expect to be working on the things that I'm working on, I guess.

And with all of this, I completely forgot about Chip's class yesterday morning, darn it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Luke's Squirrelly Lover

SUMMARY: Some toys are better playmates than others.

(If you're on Facebook, you've seen this already, 2 days ago.)

Luke is in love! (See: Giant Squirrel Toy) He flings it around, drags it around, er, um, humps it, orjust settles there with his mouth on it, lying still, eyes half closed, not moving at all. This has been going on all day.

(Third evening in a row.)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Chip's Grizzled Face

SUMMARY: Comparing a year apart.

I don't really have good photos of Chip from the side, for comparing the white in his black muzzle and chin. Here's the best I can do, and I don't see much difference.

Three years old:

Four years old:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Happiness is a Cushy Chair All To Yourself

SUMMARY: Wordless Wednesday.


>>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. <<

Missing Them All

SUMMARY: Tika, Boost, Jamela.

Tika, March 29

Boost, April 24

Jamela,  June 6 (my cousins' dog, same ending scenario as Boost, and just a year older)

So hard to believe. They were such good dogs and hiking partners.

(Photo by cousin Simon)

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Names! Aughhhh!

SUMMARY: How could one new dog complicate names so much?

Just about 24 hours ago, I posted on Facebook:
The addition of a wild, half-trained 8-month-old puppy is shaking things up in many ways, not least of which is that for the past 24 hours I have been calling each of the dogs by a name coming randomly from the list of Chip, Jake, Luke, Boost, and Remington. It's disconcerting. But I think also it's because Luke has aspects of different dogs, and Chip certainly has a lot more of Remington in him than I had originally thought but also some Luke and vice-versa, and also three boy-dog four-letter one-syllable names and, well, brain is still adjusting.
Despite having looked at the title of yesterday's post over and over, it took a friend this evening to point out, "I think you mean How Luke Came Home."  Augh, yes, I had titled it, How Chip Came Home!  (Fixed it now; thanks Human Mom to Scully, Sparkle, and Ben.)

When talking to my renter earlier this evening, I had to stop midsentence for about 5 seconds because I could not sort out which dog name to use when referring to Chip!


How Luke Came Home

SUMMARY: Poor neglected puppy.

Here's the description of Luke from his rescue home, posted April 29. Boost had just died 5 days before and I streaked past any dog-available posts on Facebook, so didn't even read it then.
Luke is an 11 month old McNab boy (possibly a cross) who gets along well with dogs of all sizes and personalities. He is willing to concede to a more assertive dog without any contention. He's very good at independent play with a toy but loves to tug and fetch for you.

Luke is a small guy (16") who weighs about 22 pounds. He has good basic skills, crates, hearty appetite, food motivated. Busy body. Very interested in exploring his surroundings. Luke is very athletic, agile and quick. Luke does well with cats; sniffs and curious without any aggression but will chase if they run. It's a youngster thing!

Luke loves to cuddle and wants to please. He's a quick learner and would make an amazing agility dog. He is neutered and ready for a new home.

Sorry about the airplane ears...this was a quick photo when he arrived...he's a happy boy who adores people and wants to interact and play. Ears are always erect (except when you point a camera at thim). Better photo tomorrow.

The better photo didn't arrive until May 7 -- and Bam! he just hit me hard.
New photo of Luke our McNab cross boy. Yes...those ears are that big. He's about 20 pounds...25 max. 16" boy. Good skills and crates, reliable off lead and eager to please. Clicker trained. Ready to rock and roll.

I wasn't sure at all that I was ready for another dog. But I was ready for a playmate for Chip, if that was possible, and also one who'd have the enthusiasm to play with me (like Amber or Jake or Tika or Boost) for more than a few minutes (like Chip does; like Remington did).  But, still, grieving hard.

BUT I kept looking and looking and looking and looking at this dog's photo and description and photo.  For four days, I examined my own motives and ability to incorporate a young, active dog into my life and into Chip's life--which had become rather sedate--BUT I kept looking and looking and looking.

On May 11 I called about him. She said, oh, he went to his new home this morning; a couple who want a dog to run with and be their companion.  I felt...  a little relieved, a little more disappointed.

We talked for a bit about what I might want in a dog (or not want). And, at her request, I sent her a rambling list of my thoughts at that moment.

On the afternoon of the very next day, May 12, I got this email:
The family has decided he’s too much of a puppy for them right now. So he’s coming back. Are you still interested in him?
I said "Yes!" and we were off and running!

Schedules didn't mesh--I left messages and finally spoke to her on May 15--the night before my week-long trip to DisneyWorld.  She said that she had a couple of other good performance homes interested in him, too, but she'd wait for me. I felt great relief!

Schedules and my health aligned 3 weeks after that, and I drove the 3-4 hours to Somerset and, on June 6 I met him in the evening; on June 7 Chip met him; finally, I decided for sure to take him home (with her making it clear that, if it didn't work out with Chip or any other reason, he always had a place to go back to).

His brief backstory is: First owner (not sure where he came from before that) mostly worked and left him at home and would send him off to The Trainer periodically to be trained, then mostly neglect him at home again. Eventually he just landed at The Trainer's place, and from there into the rescue home with a dozen other dogs.  So he knows some things, but not very well. Poor guy.

Rescue says that some of his issues and his training were much worse when he arrived, and of course she had him for over a month to work on some things.

Anyway, here we are on June 9, his second morning here with me, and boy oh boy are we really off and running!

Dogs in Our Lives: To Remember

SUMMARY: Living within a fragile circle of life.
"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle; easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we would still live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan."
                -Irving Townsend

Thanks for posting on FB, Katrina P.

Monday, June 08, 2015

First 24 hours of Luke

Added more at the end June 9, 9:45 a.m.
Just trying to capture some notes--an inventory of where he is--while there's a brief peaceful interlude. In general, I'd say that he has the training that one might expect of maybe a 4-month old puppy, but he's maybe 12 months old (waiting for confirmation on age).

...  hmmm, I wonder why it's so peaceful and where he is and what he's doing? ... Oh, he just came downstairs from my bedroom and isn't carrying anything, so I guess that's good.
  • He's mostly good enough in the house that I'm letting him wander around on his own.
  • Big problem with that is getting up on kitchen chairs to find things on the table, paws on counters, etc.  I've been trying to keep things clean because of Chip anyway, but things feel so chaotic all of a sudden that I'll set something on the table and go quickly into the other room and forget.
  • He was supposed to know how to use a doggie door, but seemed completely unclear on the concept for the first couple or three hours yesterday. But if I lifted one corner about half an inch, he'd come through.  So I finally figured out that he was distracted by it being in a sliding glass door that he could see through (vs a solid door or wall). So i covered the glass alongside the door and voila, he started getting it. Then I uncovered the glass again and we're fine.
  • The only trouble with that is that, if Luke isn't under my close supervision or in his crate, he's happy to run out when Chip starts barking at the dog next door and join in. Just NOT what I need, 2 of them.  Which means I also need to do something about Chip, sigh.
  • He grabs grabs grabs grabs my hands and wrists and even arms and toes and sometimes at my face. As in, with his teeth. Not hard, but OMG what a challenge that is proving to be.  Working out how to approach this. Interestingly, it seems to be better if I reach under to rub his chest sometimes, but mostly not. Have been told that it's because he wants to be close to you and/or affectionate and/or play. But, jeez, needs work.
  • And completely unconcerned about jumping right up into or at my face.  Or, since I'm lying on the couch and using the computer, just right on top of me. Ouch and ouch and ouch, getting bumped and thumped and whapped.
  • He's learning very quickly to sit before being released from the crate or to get his meal. Dogs find these things to be highly motivating for learning, yes indeedy.
  • He has had his meals in a Leo Genius toy and the other big red egg-shaped thing. Figuring them out very quickly. However, he left some of his meal behind in the Leo for dinner this evening.
  • Worked a little on not grabbing at food in my hands. Has had some background in that previously but needs a big refresher.
  • Worked a little on nose touches to my hand. Getting a lot of tongue and mouth, too, but I think starting to focus in on the nose touch with little effort, so he might have had some background on that.
  • After a little griping, he does seem to settle down OK in a crate.
  • He does not like going into the crate, probably because he gets shut into them often. I need to spend time on some crate games, and ASAP, because I don't want to be fighting with this, and I still need to be able to crate him for some peace or when I'm out of the house.  I tried just a little last night, and it was a battle just to try to get him positioned in front of the crate!
  • He's housebroken, definitely. At least that's OK!  There was one accident while he was still figuring out the doggie door, so that's why I made sure that he could use the door correctly (although I swear he'd been out less than half an hour before).
  • He generally seems to understand what are dog toys.  Except that the pile of toys he'd accrued this afternoon included one of the shoes that I'd kicked off before hitting my couch office.  And the cell phone that fell out of my pocket while trying to do something with him on the floor. And my computer mouse when I raised my arm (leaving it on the couch) to fend him off.  
  • He throws water all over the floor from the water dish! I think because he just leaves in such a hurry (he's a busy guy).  But his rescue person did point out that he's a water dog, with his feet in the ranch water bucket. And sure enough, once this morning I found him with both front feet in the water dish in the kitchen.
  • No good name recognition (he came to rescue as Luther and she changed it to Luke--which I completely agree with, but that means that he hasn't had much time to understand it).  I get virtually no response when I say his name unless he's right in front of me and there are no other distractions.
  • Doesn't really bring toys back when thrown. Maybe. Eventually. 
  • Does love to play by himself, which is nice, too.
  • Is clicker trained, so responds well to it. I'm using "Yes!" along with it to get him used to that alternative sound.
He and Chip are figuring out how to play with each other.  I think. Yesterday Chip wanted to hump him and climb on him and lie on him and I kept removing Chip, and sometimes Luke would come back at him to play, but more often not.  Today Chip's not being quite as pushy and they did run around together a bit and play a bit.

Chip is also being a bit grumpy at times even when Luke isn't doing anything.

But Chip seems exhausted for the 2nd day in a row (well, 3rd, with visit at our overnight spot's dog house), and So. Am. I.

Haven't had time to do more than glance at the photos that I took on our trip and afterwards. Ack ack ack.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Trying out a dog

SUMMARY: That's a lot of driving for a cute face.

Saturday Chip and I drove about 4 hours up to the Sierra foothills (Google maps says 2 hrs 45 minutes. Maybe if someone cleared all the traffic with a bulldozer). Today I drove about 4 hours back.  Maybe longer. I did stop 3 or 4 times on the way home.

Anyway, Luke came home with us to try us out.

Very tired. Have many photos for a long and entertaining story. Or, at least, long.

Chip and Luke are still trying to decide about each other.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Of Dragons and Broomsticks and Grieving, Oh My

SUMMARY: Bittersweet dog hair.

Everything in my home and my life is anchored with nano-thin strands to my brain or my heart, or both. The threads hang loosely most of the time, and I never know when one will be yanked and the pain hits and the tears come.

Sometimes in the silliest and most bittersweet ways.

I hardly ever take Chip anywhere. We used to go everywhere. This morning when he went outside with me while I got the newspaper (tears still, every morning, because Boost isn't getting it), he saw a neighbor open their car door and raced over to try to get in. Darn it, we never go anywhere. I no longer have a dog with a reliable recall. Darn it darn it darn it.

After that, I swept the kitchen and the stairs, for the first time since just after Boost died. So--6 weeks. Used to be that granules of dirt and crud accrued rapidly under the two PVC beds in the kitchen, forming a textured carpet of filth on the floor in the exact rectangular shape of the bed. Sometimes every couple of days I'd be so horrified by the grunge that I'd grab the hand vac just to clean under the beds.

Dog hair used to rain down; it formed puddles of fur in the corners of every step on the two staircases, along underneath the fronts of all the cabinets, all across the floor and the corners of the rooms and under the chairs... Sweeping once a week wasn't really enough, but I'd be lucky to get it done half as often, and then sweeping created mountains of fur in multiple locations for scooping and hand-vac-ing, all filling half a wastebasket at least.

Tika drooled at the drop of a food, her whole life. So the areas on the floor of the kitchen where she'd sit and wait while I put the food bowls down, or where she'd hang out by the counter as someone prepared any kind of food. became spotted and smeared and filthy and gross and had to be mopped regularly.

The kitchen floor as a whole easily displayed dirty swaths that demonstrated easily the paths that the dogs took in and out and around.

Today, after 6 weeks:
A bare handful of hair after sweeping everything.
Hardly a speck of dust beneath the PVC beds.
A few random dirty spots here and there on the kitchen floor.

You'd think I'd be happy about the lack of mess, but no: I bawled. Chip moved in and let me lean my head on his shoulder.

And this, in my head:
Boost and Tika doggies lived by the sea
And frolicked in the big back yard in a land called Honalee.
Together they would travel in a van with billowed sail.
Tika kept a lookout next to Booster's white-tipped tail.
One gray night it happened: Boost and Tika came no more.
And MUTT MVR the minivan it closed its rear hatch door.