Socializing and Siblings

One of the most common “problems” in my village is socializing one’s pet(s). In truth I find this issue sad because dogs clearly want to be socialized, they are a pack animal and being around others (dogs or otherwise) is important to their morale and self-esteem. I had people tell me that getting a second dog to keep my first one company was a bad idea. I scoff at them. Why would I want to have a companion for my first dog? Well, I work and spend eight or more hours a day at school, so Nakama was at home, by himself, all day. That has to be a lonely lifestyle for someone with an innate pack mentality. Did I adopt Tomodachi just for him? No, I adopted her to be part of our small family, and give Nakama an opportunity to have a sister to boss around (and boy does he ever, such a bully at times!). When I walk the Appalachian Trail I wanted to have a dog, but I realized that Nakama was not going to be able to walk the entire time with me due to his short stature, so I had it in mind to have a second one before the trek so we could go together. I digress, though with this thought, since it is now more about adopting a second than socializing, so let me get back to that.

Unsocialized dogs can be loud, violent, and difficult to control. When I first got Nakama I let him meet up with others in the area to play when we were on our walks. Sadly, many of these dogs he played with remain unsocialized and have even killed other dogs in the area because of dominance. We no longer socialize with these dogs, and for very good reason. Tomodachi is still a puppy and we are now working on her socializing. She is very good at not barking at the other dogs who bark constantly. However, she still pulls quite a bit on her lead, which means I stop what we are doing (usually walking) and pull her back until she sits down. After she sits, then we continue on. Instead of using the term “down” when she jumps on people, I chose “off” and have advised people to push her off when she does (I do the same thing, whether it be when I want her off my person, or off the table). She is learning that she is not to jump on people when we meet them, and I try to have her see people on a daily basis, just so she learns.

The other day I took her for her first social call to another person’s flat. This type of socializing is important so she knows that there is a big world out there, enclosed. Meaning that the world isn’t just the outside where we walk and our small set of rooms, but there are other places with lots of smells and new people. She did rather well with this meeting and my friend was just ecstatic because she loves Nakama and Nakama loves her, too. Tomodachi was rather timid at the beginning, but she opened up and showered my friend with all sorts of love thereafter. I have some cute pictures of both pups on her lap, but chose a different photo to accompany this post for a reason. In this photo I had someone else use treats to get my dogs’ attentions and look at the camera. I’ve been working on them looking at my camera when I take a photo of just the two of them, and it works well. In this case, I wanted them to look at my friend who was taking a family photo, another part of socializing. I was there, so the dogs were safe. My friend has a dog, so she is aware of how to act. Also, my friend is the one who crocheted the neck warmers all three of us are sporting! She has a major talent. The dogs did well, and while only one picture worked, it turned out rather cute.

Socializing is important and these baby steps I am taking with Nakama and Tomodachi are going to benefit them their entire lives. Nakama does well, but is still pretty skittish in situations. I need to focus on that, but it isn’t something easily attained in bush Alaska. One day we will be in a more urban area, or a rural area with more opportunity. Until that time we will work slowly so my pups have the confidence we all three need to walk the Trail in a few years. I want them to meet people and be respectful. I also want to learn how to help them in certain situations. I feel we are on the right track, but I am open to suggestions. I am new at this because even though I had dogs before and grew up with dogs my whole childhood, things have changed in my mind on how we should work with pets. While I am teaching them to socialize with humans and other dogs, they are teaching me how to socialize with them!

Hydrogen Peroxide

Here is a picture of my cute, little doggie-boy, Nakama. I ended up terrorizing him yesterday because he managed to swallow a piece of felt about 1.5 by 1.5 inches; totally my fault, I should have known better. I also thought I had the hydrogen peroxide at hand, which it wasn’t and when I called our market, they didn’t have any either, so I shoved the poor guy into the bathtub and tried to induce vomiting using my finger and shoving it down his throat. Poor guy ended up bleeding and foaming at the mouth, but still didn’t vomit at which point I contacted a friend at the school and asked if she knew if we had any hydrogen peroxide in the nurse’s station. She said she had some in her desk and I was welcome to the lot. So I prepared to drive my ATV back to the school, but ran into a set of flatmates and they had some at the flat. Needless to say, I borrowed the stuff and did what my folks had said, I put some of that in his mouth and had him outside to vomit. Well, nothing happened, and I was thick enough to not have my mobile on hand, so we went back inside. I had recalled reading on a web post that it takes about five to ten minutes and the hydrogen peroxide needs to fizz. The stuff didn’t fizz. So I did the intelligent thing and called my vet in Wyoming. I spoke to a few folks and eventually I was informed that the dog should have something in their stomach (I gave him some chicken while on the phone), it could take up to thirty minutes to work, and walking or running around helps. Just as I was preparing to hang up, Nakama started his vomiting spree all over the apartment. It was a major load, let me tell you. Two huge piles of food (one of which I did find the felt), and then quite a few hydrochloric acid spills with foam. Poor guy walked around the apartment for an hour vomiting and I cleaned as he went since I didn’t want to drag him down the stairs after he had already emptied the food contents of his stomach. Lesson learned in multiple ways, especially in making sure I cut off all loose pieces of felt from toys since it only takes a few seconds for a dog to gnaw off and swallow. Keeping hydrogen peroxide at hand is good (the vet told me he could have up to two table spoons, but I am not sure if that is based on his weight or not, he weighs about 30 pounds). Also, since it could take up to thirty minutes, ignore what is said on certain Internet sites and just chill outside if you don’t want to clean up a sticky mess. I know dogs tend to eat all sorts of garbage from who knows where, so when you live in the bush and do not have access to a vet, this is the best option. I would still call a vet to walk you through making the dog vomit, just because they are knowledgable (they said up to thirty minutes when the Internet pages I read said between five and ten, that extra twenty minutes is a long time when your heart is racing!). Nakama had only rice and chicken for dinner last night and this morning to help settle his tummy. He gets that normally anyway, but I held off on his dog food because I have no idea how his poor digestive tract feels after yesterday. As I mentioned, I tried to manually induce vomiting and he was quite distraught after that episode until I brought him outside, at which point he was excited to be out without Tomodachi. I am sure he felt he was being punished, and in a way he was, for my mistake and his natural desire to mangle any and everything in his reach. As long as I have the hydrogen peroxide at hand, then at least I don’t have to worry about him becoming aggressive and biting a finger off by manually making him vomit. All I can say is, thank you to everyone who helped me fix this problem and I learned many valuable lessons.

Dogs on the Bed

I have people constantly telling me that dogs are dirty and they don’t belong on the bed or the furniture. Well, good on them, they don’t need to allow their ‘pets’ on the bed. Why did I insist on my pups on the bed? Well, dogs supposedly have an innate desire not to ‘mess’ where they sleep. By having the dogs on my bed from the beginning it kept them from messing on the bed, but also helped me wake up to take them out to for a potty break. Both Nakama and Tomodachi nosed me when they needed to go from the time I brought both of them home. The bed isn’t huge, a full-size, but as neither could get off the bed in the beginning without assistance, it helped them easily night train. I still had to get up multiple times a night with Tomo, Nakama was older when he came to live with me, so he only needed one break a night from the beginning. Now, at four months, Tomodachi can make it through the night most nights, other times she needs one break, but she always wakes me. As for being on the bed or the sofa, they can cuddle with me on these pieces of furniture, and I want to have a bond with them, not treat them as objects. My fur-family, my choice. I chose their names intentionally, companion and friend. To me, they are not pets, they are family.

First Solo Walk!

Today was a beaut of a day, so Tomodachi had her first solo walk. Now, by walk I mean that it wasn’t her going out to the approved relief area and sniffing, but an actual half-Mile of walking. Took us twenty minutes. I didn’t require much of her since she is just four months old, however we are going to start working heavily on her not pulling. I didn’t attach the leash to the ‘no pull’ part of the harness, but her next solo walk I definitely will. We worked on ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ ‘watch,’ and ‘walk.’ today. She is still learning and I believe will get better much faster if we do solo walks a couple times a week. After her walk, which included skating on the ice rink that is our roads, she and Nakama decided to have a wrestling match on the bed. Clearly he missed her while she was gone, but they both need to get used to being alone at times since training them together all the time will not work.

The ‘Come’ Game

I was all excited to start the New Year off with Tomodachi going on her first, solo walk. Weather happened, meaning I will never take my pups out in inclement weather they themselves choose to avoid. Today it happened to be 30 mph winds. None of us are fond of walks in the wind. Bring on snow for all, and Nakama and I will happily walk in the rain, but wind isn’t a condition we like. So, training today was what I like to call ‘Come.’ This game, as it were, is when I go to a different room I will wait a spell and say: Nakama, come. Tomodachi, come. When the come I give them a treat. Now, I do not do this every time I switch rooms, and I do keep treats in all rooms, including the bathroom. I do not want them learning to follow me everywhere and expect to get a treat, they need to learn the command. Nakama is actually pretty good, or was before I started this game, but he can be a seriously stubborn punk, so at times he sticks his nose up at the treats and does not come. He will learn, though. Tomo comes running, she loves treats and head rubs!

WoofTrax and AARF

One of the walking applications I use is WoofTrax and with this application, whenever I take a walk I have a chance of a donation going to AARF. I will talk more about AARF later, but this application is great! Imagine waking and possibly earning a monetary donation to a non-profit! As you can see, we don’t walk far since my puppy is still rather young, but we do go out because both she and Naka love our walks.