Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Shibamas!

Wow - I gotz so many goodies from my Secret Shiba @BlueLeath, @shiba_rinji and Mika!

Here are some photos:

I smell goodness in here...

Tie die! Now I can be like the other hippies in San Francisco!

This needs noms added it it later...

Like maybe CHEEZE snacks!! Yeah! It iz like they knew me or somefing.

Is that a cactus? Tastes yummy!
Yeah! Mom, time to get baking for me!
What an awesome box of gifts! This is the best ever - me and my pack wuv all the Twibas and the Secret Shibas all over! Woof!

-- Merry Shibamas from Zuko!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Me and Dad are crafty ...

Twas the week before Shibamas....

And dad and I were sneaky. We put a gift into this tiny little box for mom:

It's so little! 

And then we hung it on the tree:

Hey dad, let me help you with that. 

It took her at least a day to figure it out. This morning while we were all eating blueberry pancakes, she looked over at the tree and said: "Hey, that wasn't there before...."

Just hanging there, disguised as a tree ornament

Hee-hee. We are sneaky!

-- Happy Shibamas from Zuko and family!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dear Santa Paws - 

I haz been a very good dog this year. As you might remember from the above picture, I was very scared of you but I was a good boy and let you have your picture taken with me. I submit this as proof I iz a good dog!

If you need additional proof, I submit this picture: 

I allowed my hooman to put a Santa hat on me and didn't bite a single thing. Again, proof I iz a good dog! 

This year I request the following prezents:
  1. Cheese. I would actually like a dairy farm that produces cheese, but my hoomans have told me I would not have any place to put this. *huff*
  2. More bouncy balls. I keep losing them somehow. 
  3. A new collar. Preferably one I canz escape from. 
  4. A kitty brofur. 
I think that iz all for now. Oh - my hoomans could use some stuff for the howse so if you get a letter from them, pleaze do give it the same V.I.P priority level I iz sure my letter is getting. 

Sincerely - 
Prince Zuko (a.k.a "Good Dog")

I iz waiting for my prezents!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shibasquatch: I Believe

Much like Fox Mulder, I want to believe in something many think is only a myth. The off-leash Shiba being (mostly) good. Many non-believers equate a sighting of such a Shiba as a myth, similar to the Sasquatch stories. Hence "Shibasquatch".

I have video proof that Zuko can do this given the proper requirements:

  • I have cheese in my pocket
  • We are on a beach where one escape route is blocked by his nemesis: water. 
Do YOU believe?

-- I Believe

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Official Vet Report: "He's a Chill Shiba"

There have been so many sad reports about Shibas on the internet lately. And each time I read one, I force-snuggle Zuko and tell him he has to live forever. To help ensure that, I scheduled a vet appointment and took him in for a full check-up. He more or less seems like a super-healthy dog, but I can be a bit of a paranoid puppy mommy at times.

I'll say upfront: our vet is amazing. He really likes Shibas and has worked with them a good bit. I like him both as a doctor and as a person. He never says "do this" - instead he says "this is what I think and would recommend, but it is your choice". He gives you the information and let's you stay in charge of your pet's health.

First thing that came out in the exam was Zuko is a bit chunky. I knew it as soon as he stepped on the scale: 31 pounds. He was 28 pounds. Oops. Someone has been getting a little too much cheese! The doc said it wasn't too bad and Zuko carries it well, but he'd be better off a couple pounds lighter.

The rest of his physical exam was good: heart, lungs and so forth - all good. Teeth are starting to get some plaque but not too bad. During this entire time Zuko was standing on the table being a good dog. He wasn't thrilled, but no shaking, no whining, just the "martyred Shiba" look. Of course, he was also getting a little bit of spray cheese, so it wasn't all that bad.

Then came time for the blood draw. Oh boy. Our vet did it there in the room with me present and two nurses holding Zuko. I was ready for the Shiba scream. I was ready for thrashing, violent craziness. Nothing. I am not kidding - he didn't even whine. He did tuck his tail, which is the first time I've ever seen it truly tucked! I was so proud of the little dude I gave him tons more spray cheese. As soon as he came off the table, the tail curled back up and he decided he wanted to go explore the rest of the clinic since his leash wasn't yet attached. As usual, he bounces right back after "trauma".

So why the bloodwork? I told the vet I have a lazy Shiba. He gets the zoomies, he goes nuts at the beach, he's a monster at daycare - but given what I have always heard about the breed, he seems lazy. And I wanted to rule out any underlying medical issues. The doctor tested his thyroid and blood levels, and checked for heartworm. We received the results Saturday morning: all clear.

Official vet report: "He's a chill Shiba". We have that shocking rare Shiba, probably almost as rare as a Shibasquatch*: a mellow, chill Shiba.

One final note: We did start him on Heartgard. Northern California rarely has cases of heartworm due to the fact we really don't have many mosquitoes here. Dr. Layba has never recommended it, but we discussed it this time. He said he and his fellow Bay Area vets have seen a slight rise (meaning a couple cases a year) and if Zuko is what he called an "adventure dog" and goes everywhere with us, then it would not hurt to have him on it. I tend to believe we over medicate ourselves and our animals, but I also believe in preventative care so I made the decision to start him on it. Of course, the nice tasty chewable "pill" was rejected by Zuko. I broke it up into smaller pieces and he spit them out. So I had to wrap each piece in cheese to get it in him. Day one of his diet and he figured out how to get a whole slice of American cheese!!

-- Posted by Paranoid Puppy Mommy

*Shibasquatch is a Twitter hashtag reporting the odd occurrences of a Shiba being spotted off-leash and behaving. Much like the Sasquatch, the Shibasquatch has true believers and those who think this is just a myth. For more information, run a Twitter search!

"I believe in Shibasquatch"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Leash Monster: Training update!

Lots of changes in our world recently and I'm way behind on blog posts! So without further ado, an update on Zuko's on-leash snarling.

I mentioned before I wasn't sure we were getting the most we could out of the group classes. Zuko's "issues" are pretty specific and random. Or so they seem.

Then I got the brilliant idea to talk to the folks at his daycare. They run a huge gig there, lots of dogs, all cage-free. They are separated into size and activity groups for indoor romping and go outside in their groups. Some days they have upwards of 50 dogs! And with all that chaos, they still get stellar reviews on Yelp - so they must be doing something right.

One of the guys there, Scott, trains service dogs and is always there. He knows Zuko well, and I asked him one day if Zuko is snarly with other dogs. He said he isn't, unless the other dog won't back off and listen when Zuko says he's had enough rough playing. He said when they see that, they will either move the other dog into a high activity group or put Zuko in a lower activity group. He was also very clear that while Zuko snarls, he has never seen him try to bite a dog and it is his opinion it is not in Zuko's nature to actually bite and be aggressive. The snarling is him communicating the way dogs communicate.

We started talking about on-leash issues and Scott told me what they do to get the dogs' attention in playgroups. Zuko has always been good with his name, so they do use that and reward him with treats for focusing on them. Also, they use "look". In obedience, we learned "watch" - with a point to your eyes as the hand signal. I was standing there with treats and Zuko was fixated on me - then Scott said "look" and Zuko's head whipped around to look at him.

Interesting, right? Such a little thing, but to have consistency in the command used makes a difference. Zuko spends anywhere from 5-8 hours, 2-3 times a week at doggie daycare. They are working with him all the time and if I am using a command they are not using, guess who is losing? (Me).

So now on our walks, I take cheese or the Natural Balance sausage-roll treats and whenever he sees another dog, I do a "look" and he responds. He will cheerfully walk right past another dog, looking at me for treats. In class, the idea was to use "leave it" to create this behavior. Zuko knows "leave it" when it comes to icky stuff on the ground and other objects, but he was just not getting it with dogs. By using "look" I'm leveraging a command that turns his focus away from the dogs and one that he already knows is always rewarded with some good stuff.

We've had zero snarling incidents for about a week now. That isn't to say he hasn't TRIED to snarl. I have found one certain pattern: puppies. Young puppies, under probably 6 months or so, set him off. I am not 100% sure if he just gets all excited and is lunging at them to play or he's ready to put them in their puppy-place as an adult dog. Considering how violent-looking Shiba-play is, it probably doesn't matter which one it is - both are scary to a little puppy! Usually the pups give a yelp and back off. This week I've been able to catch him before he gets into full lunge and draw him back to me with the "look" command.

For now, I'm happy to have a good way to intervene and reward Zuko for focusing on me. In theory, he should start to look at me in anticipation when he sees another dog, right? :-)

Next step will be working on "go say hi" - for that, I think I may leverage private training with Scott. The benefit of working with a private trainer at a daycare is we can bring dogs in all day long and test Zuko! 

Good Dog?
-- Posted by Zuko's slacker mom/typist

Saturday, November 6, 2010

National Shiba-Inu Meet-up: Survey says...

Well, I'm not really sure what the survey says. :-) Other than people seem to really want to do this and price for a hotel isn't the biggest factor.

A few factors that do stand-out:

1) For those who cannot fly with their Shiba, driving means we should really aim for the "middle" of the US.
2) Time of year is important: cooler weather is preferred, but too early in the spring or too late in fall will prohibit drivers from the West coast and the North from being able to make it due to storms and snow.

Click photos for the full results and image. 

Memorial Day was preferred, though Labor Day also had a strong showing.

There were additional write-ins for the Northeast and other locations. However, back to the drive-time for folks, the middle-America areas seem best. Texas, Kansas City, Omaha and St. Louis were the strongest showers. New Orleans came up a few times but having recently visited NO, I didn't get a dog-friendly vibe from it. Cost would also be a factor there.

One of the write-ins mentioned that St. Louis isn't an easy city to navigate, but Omaha is - however, if we factor in dog-friendly factor, St. Louis still seems like a winner.

I love that 20.8% said cost didn't matter. :-) However, looks like we need to stay under $100 a night for budget which rules out the bigger cities (like New Orleans) and probably even Austin, TX which was listed as a write-in.

One of the write-ins that didn't fit on the screen mentioned swimming wasn't a priority since these are SHIBAS ... who typically hate water. ;-) However, beaches and lakes seem like a good idea since most Shibas love to dig in sand and / or chase ducks. What we humans like is irrelevant if you ask the Shibas. (ha). However, dog-friendly restaurants, parks and fenced-in off-leash parks seem to be big hits. Contests and prizes are also a stand-out!

So, where does this leave us? With 49 respondents (it is 50 if you can me) I'm not sure we have a clear winner. If you factor in driving challenges and time-of-year, Memorial Day weekend wins (hopefully the weather won't be too hot by then) and St. Louis or Northern Texas win.

Personally, budget will be a factor and time to plan, but I think Demon Dog and family could make this. If anyone knows just how dog-friendly St. Louis REALLY is, that would be helpful for planning. Oklahoma, Nebraska and Northern Texas still seem to be in the running if we can find good dog-friendly sites there (again, looking for input).

Chime in! Let's see if we can pull this off.

-- Posted by Zuko's event planner

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trick or Treat!

It is almost as if my friends at Woofgang's Doggie Daycare know I am a Demon Dog!

Trick or Treat. I think I was TRICKED!
-- Posted by Demon Dog

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Beach!

I luvs the beach. We haven't been there in a long time, even though it iz only like 2 miles from our howse (lazy hoomans).

One thing you might not know about the beach: there are Teradactyls there. See the footprints?

Evidence: Exhibit A - Footprints

My mom sayz these are not teradactyl prints. She claims these are "seagull" footprints. I disagree. Notice me examining what had clearly been a teradactyl party spot before I arrived:

More clues
Unfortunately, everyone knows the Shiba Inu is a mighty hunter. Since I did not see, stalk or capture a teradactyl on the beach, I can only assume they left cuz they knew I was coming for them.

Next time I getz them!

-- Prince Zuko, Master Detective and Hunter Extraordinaire

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Leash Monster: Update - the proper way to meet and greet

Last week in Leash Monster training, we continued to practice the "leave it" idea. As you dog sees or approaches another dog, you do a "leave it" and then turn the dog around and walk backwards.

It sorta works with Zuko. I think Shibas are related to that little girl in the Exorcist though - Zuko can swivel his head around to a shocking angle and STILL be walking towards me while giving the evil eye to the dog behind him. Impressive, but not helping the situation.

What's that over there? Can I obsess on it? Is it a dog? Please let it be a dog!

Our trainers from Dog Evolve swear by the Gentle Leader head collar. They claim there are pressure points on the back of the head where the leader sits that help calm a dog. Jokingly, they refer to it as "doggie Prozac". And clearly, some of the dogs in class really, really need this. One woman has a herding dog mix who she says is a spaz. I've never seen it - because she's had the Gentle Leader on the dog in every class and he is super mellow. However, I struggle with this - I don't want to use something artificial to force behavior in Zuko. Nor do I want to put him into a zen-trance. I love my happy, energetic dog. I just don't want him lunging at other dogs and being a leash monster. Every other dog in class is using the Gentle Leader now except us. The trainers asked and I said I'd rather not - and the one trainer supported this. She said the only dog she has ever had a complete freak-out-melt-down when having a Gentle Leader on was.... wait for it... yeah, a Shiba Inu (surprise!).

What I have done is switch back to the front-clip Easy Walker harness instead of a collar. I'm guessing dragging him away and him making choking sounds as it happens is not reinforcing the message that leaving dogs alone is a GOOD and HAPPY thing. Of course, this puts us back where we were months ago - we think he was clipped by a harness buckle as a puppy and he flinches everything one of those snap close behind his head. We tried reconditioning him out of it, but he's like a cat - he will never, ever, ever forget it.

So - back to the lesson last week on proper greeting. In my last post I talked about Mr. Rudeness and his face-sniffing issues. In class, we focused on first approaching a dog and doing the "leave it" and turn and walk backward before anyone got snarly. Next, we would pass each other - quickly - the whole time talking to your dog and dangling a treat in front of them. In this exercise, the dogs are next to each other so when they are looking at you and that tasty treat in your hand, they are ignoring the other dog.

The next step is to just stop as they reach nose-to-butt position.  The dogs are facing opposite directions and positioned in the right place to turn their head, sniff butts and be polite. Even the slightest turn of the head to proper sniffing position is immediately marked and rewarded and you continue walking forward.

Whew! Easy enough in class - the dogs are all getting to know each other and everything is calm. At the end of the class they brought in a good sized female lab - a new dog!! This was the test... and everyone passed except for the one dog who barks so much at other dogs she has to be isolated during class or she will not stop. (This dog's trainer is the one who actually needs the training - he's very timid with her).

I am personally relieved I do not need to lead by example to show Zuko the proper way to meet and greet another dog. ;-) We've been working on doing the "leave it" and then "go say hi" and stopping where he can be set up to properly greet. Of course, this morning we met a Shiba mix who he knows and we passed each other, stopped, and they BOTH immediately turned all the way around so they could face-sniff. No monster-badness happened, but I was still left standing there rolling my eyes and shaking my head. Shibas. 

-- Posted by Zuko's bewildered mom

P.S. - If you haven't heard, the Twitter Shibas are considering a National Shiba Inu Meet-up next year! If you could / would attend, please complete this survey before Oct 30th!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

If you could do a National Shiba meet-up, where would you go?

@WalkingYuki @LeahShiba @_tar0_ and I started a Twitter thread on the dream of a National Shiba Inu Meet-up. Where would we meet? When?

Ideas so far:
St. Louis
Needs to be over 3-day weekend
Dog-friendly city and hotel or B&B

For those of us on the West coast, St. Louis shows about 30+ hours of driving but my mom sayz she has always wanted to do the "Route 66" drive so it is possible. From NYC it is about 15 hours.

Other locations "mid-country":
Amarillo, TX
Wichita, Kansas
Omaha, Nebraska

So what do ya'll think?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Leash Monster! Training class report

Over the past nine months or so, Zuko has been getting more and more reactive to other dogs when on leash. It tends to be very hit and miss and unpredictable. Off leash, he's great. He loves other dogs and does well at daycare and at the off-leash beach. So, needless to say, we were a bit mystified by his on-leash behavior.

Does that look like a Leash Monster to you?

This past Thursday we started "Leash Monster" training with Dog Evolve. First - I just have to say - Zuko is a pretty well adjusted dog. The other dogs in his class have a number of issues going on: attention barking, leash straining, cowering from people, etc. It was nice to get this perspective that he's a pretty easy dog - especially for a Shiba. We believe a lot of it is he has good genes, but I think we should give ourselves some credit for doing at least a few things right with our pup.

OK - so Leash Monster training is specific to dogs who are good off-leash but reactive on-leash. We learned two very important things Thursday night:
  1. Zuko is rude. 
  2. The lunging, barking and snapping is out of frustration, not aggression.
Let's talk about the rudeness. The trainers were saying his behavior is not unusual for Spitz breeds and Shibas: he's a face-sniffer. He will butt-sniff also, but he often approaches a dog and sniffs their face and apparently in the dog world this is RUDE. So we had a few laughs about needing to train him to always butt-sniff and I expressed that I sincerely hoped I was not going to have to lead through example.

This face-sniffing thing gave me one of those "doh" moments though - I flashed back to his most reactive moments and it is after he has approached a dog and face-sniffed. I'm guessing the other dog then says "rudeness, get out of my face" in some doggie language I don't see and Zuko gets all badass and lunges and snarls. It would also explain why the sighting of another Shiba can sometimes be a total mess as both of them snarl and lunge at each other - because they are both being rude badasses.

One approach the trainers recommended is to pass the other dog and walker first. This sets the dogs up to be facing the proper greeting area - their butts. It also gives you a quick and clear escape route forward if your dog reacts negatively versus being face-to-face and having to drag your dog back away from the other dog.

The second lesson was a bit of relief for me: he's reacting out of frustration, not aggression. We suspected this may be the case since we noticed early on that he would often start growling when we pulled him away to continue his walk. The trainers described the dog's feeling as this: imagine you love ice cream and someone keeps taking you into the best ice creams shops and never letting you buy or taste any ice cream. Wouldn't you be frustrated?

Our homework this week is to work on doing a "leave it" and redirecting his attention when he sees another dog. Since Zuko tends to obsess a bit when he sees another dog, this is challenging but we are working on it. The other homework is to just go the other way when you see a dog or do a very fast "blow by" the other dog - not stopping, not looking, getting past the other dog and then when Zuko is re-focused on us he gets treated.

All of this is easier said then done. San Francisco is a dog-crazy city and so many dogs are off-leash where they shouldn't be and not under any kind of voice control. So I had to ask the question: what if you turn and leave the situation and the other dog follows you. The advice was to keep going, don't look back. If the dog just will not give up, the final emergency-last-ditch advice was to take treats, turn, and throw them at the dog. This will surprise them and they should start snarfing up the treats on the ground and leave off. The trainers discussed that they are not in support of feeding other people's dogs nor rewarding bad behavior (following you and your dog forever) but you have to take care of your dog first. If the other dog's owner isn't doing their job you have to do what you have to do.

So, as with all things: practice, practice, practice this week! Looking forward to our next class!

-- Zuko's Trainer

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy 2 years Zuko!

Our little dude was born two years ago today - one day before our wedding anniversary. I have many, many Libra friends so I guess it was fate that Zuko would be our pup.

His daycare, Woofgangs, celebrated his birthday on Friday. I still have no idea how they get pictures of him in a hat without getting the "airplane ears".

We took the little guy with us everywhere this weekend, including a winery and The Refuge yesterday. He did indeed get to try the famous pastrami at The Refuge and he loved it. Today we walked up the hill to brunch. Our family doesn't eat pork, but based on recommendations from @iamkaiju, Zuko insisted on trying some. I ordered a side of applewood smoked bacon and he loved it. (He only got about 1/2 of one piece though).

Finally, we went by one of his favorite pet stores, George, and picked up some of his favorite treats and a new toy. While I did try the bat-wings on him as a possible Halloween costume, I decided I couldn't do that to him on his birthday. I'll sneak back and buy them later. ;-)

Happy Birthday!
Nom Nom Nom....

Happy Birthday Little Dude! You make us smile and laugh every day and we love you!

-- Mom and Dad

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Good Life

Well, since little Prince Zuko thinks if he lived in Japan he would get to hunt wild boar and be worshiped as royalty on / near Mt. Fuji, I thought I'd set him straight just a little.

Our friend recently visited Tokyo (so jealous) and brought back this magazine called "Shi-ba". Yes, a whole magazine dedicated to the Shiba Inu and their awesomeness. Zuko was pretty pleased with this. It did start off well:

Clearly this Shiba is master of his own domain and having a happy life. But then the horror starts:

Is that an UMBRELLA on that Shiba?

A cow? Cows are prey, not a Shiba costume!
So when Zuko starts getting a tad too big in the ego department, I now bring out this magazine and start asking him which costume he would like me to purchase for him. The cow? The sheep? The fish-on-your-head? The Santa Claus costume?

-- Posted by Bad Mommy

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shibas are Fearsome Hunters Part II

You seriously have to check out the comic and video over at Shibal Inu on Shibas hunting wild boar. I laughed so hard I nearly cried. Zuko is NOT amused. 

-- Posted by Zuko's mom

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Shibas are Fearsome Hunters

Hi everyone - Prince Zuko here. While my people are off in France eating lots of "fromage" without me, I decided to post something I've wanted to post for a very long time.

Mom purchased a book in Japantown some time ago about Shibas. While it is all in Japanese, I translated it for her.

See the mighty hunter, the Shiba Inu, chasing a wild boar

Shiba Inu takes down boar. Fear the Shiba Inu.

See the amazing Shiba Inu in action. Shibas are awesome.

Shiba Inus are awesome. And super cute.
End of translation.

-- Posted by Prince Zuko

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm Tuff

Mom caught this video of me teaching my new toy, Lamb Chop, a lesson. I like her music selection. Suits the situation I think!

-- Posted by Prince Zuko, Gangsta INC.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Mom took me to a friend's house last night and there was a KITTY there!! Oh my gosh! I was pretty excited but the kitty was growling at me. My kitty brofurs taught me as a puppy that I have to respect a kitty's authority, so I wuz a good dog. I kept my distance but I just couldn't help trying to get closer...and closer...and then kitty would hiss and I'd back off.

Finally, the kitty bolted under the bed and mom's friend got him out and put him on the couch. I wuz so happy my tail was wagging all over the place! Still, the kitty didn't want to play with me and ran back under the bed. I was a good dog still, played with mom's friend and was pretty much awesome but now and then I'd go check under the bed to see if the kitty had changed his mind about playing with me. He never did.

The good news is I get to stay with mom's friend for a week and I'm sure the kitty will decide I'm a great friend and play with me during that time.

- Posted by Zuko!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Handouts for Shiba owners

Tired of answering questions about your Shiba? Lost your voice from explaining that you are NOT actually walking a fox on a leash in a heavily populated city park? Well Phineas the Shiba (@PhineastheShiba on Twitter) used his amazing Shiba Mind Control powers on his people to get them to produce this useful and informative handout! Print them out, stuff them in your doggie walk bag (similar to a diaper bag but not as embarrassing) and educate the world on the awesome-ness of the Shiba!

This is a Shiba 
This is NOT a Shiba. This is a red fox.
-- Posted by Zuko's mom

Saturday, September 4, 2010

FUN at Ft. Funston!

Last weekend my people took me to Ft. Funston - best dog beach ever! First, you have to get to the beach which is so much fun 'cause the beach is waaaaaaay down there:

Look how tiny the people are down there!
But it is totally worth the wait - look how far the beach goes on (and on) - and this is just one part of it!

Mine. All mine.
So, you know, my people have trust issues and I've been Shiba Mind Controlling them to let me off leash more 'cuz I am a GOOD DOG. It worked! Here's me sniffing cool stuff on the beach and running around playing with dad - he's my favorite dog to play with even if he only runs on two legs.

Mom sayz this video proves I can get sorta wet if I want, but I still don't really like it:

The last word: HAPPY DOG!

-- Posted by Prince Zuko!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Buena Vista Park

One of the best things about San Francisco iz all the hills! We Shibas are good climbers and all, you know, and SF gives me plenty of opportunity to keep those skills sharp.

This weekend my people took me over to Buena Vista Park. Mom sayz it is a fake hill - people built it up and made it - but I don't really care. Look at the stairs!

Yeah! Let's climb!

And there are squirrels in those hills and stuff - I chased two of them but 'cause mom had a me on a leash they got away from me. :-( But she did get a picture of me looking awesome:

After I take care of bizness, I tend to get a little over-emphatic with my scratching and my people laugh at me. They captured me on video going a bit crazy in the weeds. What can I say? Everyone needs to know ZUKO WUZ HERE.

Later we were at the top of the hill and there was this sand pit - I LOVE sand and I got the zoomies!

Super fun day for me - we got back home and I crashed out on my people's bed.

-- Posted by Zuko the Squirrel Chaser!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Working hard today

Today, I have a big job: Sleep on all the couches.

In this job, which I have self-assigned, I am awesome. Mom documented my superior couch-napping skillz with her terrible camera that made me fuzzy. I will be Shiba Mind Controlling her to buy a better camera so the Internets can see my true awesomeness.

The TV remote is also mine.
This couch is comfy too!

-- Posted by Prince Zzzzzzzzuko

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Itchy-itchy, Scratchy-scratchy

The Twitterverse seems to be full of Zuko's Shiba friends really struggling with allergies. Reports come in from everywhere and for some Shibas, there seems to be no relief in sight.

Wide open spaces are awesome - for allegies!
I decided to log all the remedies I've been seeing, in order of "extreme" nature of the treatment.
  • Raw food diet: Taro the Shiba reported scratchy ears that had no cause that could be found. Switching to a raw diet cleared up the issues and landed him a spot as a customer testimonial. For Zuko, we have had him on a raw diet almost since we first had him. He was a super-scratchy puppy and switching to the raw diet seemed to alleviate most of the itchiness. 
  • Supplements: Omega-3 supplements have been widely suggested by many Shiba owners and other dog (and cat!) owners as beneficial. Our breeder also recommended Vitamin E and kelp. The kelp isn't easy to find and can be pricey - but a small bag goes a long way. We use Pet Kelp. Zuko gets a small sprinkle of it with his breakfast, along with some Vitamin E drops I found in the humans' drugstore.
  • Cleaning Shiba feet / legs and paws after going outside: This is probably a really extreme measure even though it sounds simple (Insert sound bite of a Shiba screaming: don't touch my feet!!!!!).  There are packaged wipes for this or just a damp cloth can make a difference. Zuko has a melt-down if I even think of touching his feet so we don't usually bother with this. I have heard a few owners say it makes a huge difference, especially when there is visible pollen on the ground. 
  • Hot spot / anti-itch sprays: Again - queue the Shiba Scream for most of us on this one. My favorite product is Earthbath Hot Spot Spritz. It seems to help the itching but also tastes nasty enough that Zuko is less inclined to lick obsessively at times.
  • Flea / tick allergies: According to the National Shiba Inu Club of America, flea allergies are one of the number one health complaints for Shibas. This is complicated by some dogs have an allergic reaction to Frontline or Advantage. Our friend Princess in Orlando switched to Comfortis to help with an allergic reaction to the topical flea and tick prevention methods. Staying up to date on flea and tick control can make a huge difference for your Shiba.
  • Benedryl: I blogged about the dosage of Benedryl here, and also recommended finding the dye-free pills. Hot pink dye just can't really be good for anyone suffering allergies (human or canine). This isn't a sure-fire fix for many dogs and has a the soporific side effect. 
  • Atopica: The Misanthropic Shiba has been having success with this medication, but it appears to only be available in Canada. More info can be found on their website.
  • Colloidal Oatmeal bath: Again, this should not be "extreme" but how many Shibas can be bathed without drama? Also - too many baths will reduce their natural oils and possibly complicate the situation. You don't always need suds in a bath, just something to soothe the problem. I cheat on this one. A good Shiba mommy would probably cook oatmeal and make this from scratch. I buy the Aveeno packets. Always good to have on hand for people and puppies.
  • The last resort - Prednisone and corticosteroids: The can have wide-ranging side effects and most vets will discourage their use unless there is just no other way. This is actually true for human allergy sufferers also - an emergency shot of this stuff is avoided in all but extreme cases. Last summer Zuko went off the deep-end suddenly with his allergies and scratched his muzzle raw. The vet gave him an injection and he was on pills for several days after. He peed more often and was grouchy as heck the whole time. Not something I want to go through again.
Over at the House of Two Bows, they have made some interesting discoveries about hypothyroidism and the symptoms. It appears to have similar characteristics to those of allergies and they have started Bowdu on thyroid supplements. We are all watching to see how it goes for the little guy. The lesson from this is just don't assume it is allergies! 

What have I missed? Please comment and share your success stories with allergies and what you've learned to avoid.

-- Posted by Zuko's mom

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Trust Expanded

We took the little monster... er... I mean Zuko to Ft. Funston today. For those of you not in the Bay Area, this is pretty much Dog Heaven. Lots of rolling hills and sand dunes at the top of the cliffs. Down on the beach area it just goes on and on - cliffs on one side, water on the other and lots of room to run! For dog owners with recall concerns, the beach is a great area to practice since two directions are closed off by cliffs and water, leaving only two possible escape routes.

In the past I've had Zuko drag a leash so when it is time to catch him, I can step on the leash and stop him in his tracks. The leash also tangles up on his legs and slows the little guy down. All part of my evil plan to control my Shiba. Today, the leash kept really tangling on his back leg and he'd have to stop and wait for us to untangle it. My husband and I made the decision to just take the leash off. And what did Zuko do?? He was GONE up the beach in flash - it was as if he knew he had full freedom. He was still in visual range so we started trudging up that way. He found some dogs to play with for a bit and then suddenly he was coming back our way! Yeah!

I had the ultimate motivator in my pocket: turkey pepperoni. We had skipped breakfast this morning so little dog was very, very hungry and turkey pepperoni is his favorite. It seems he would occasionally remember I had this amazing treat in my pocket and he'd come back to me - sometimes without me even calling him.

We didn't have our Flip video camera with us, but I wish we did - the sheer joy of watching Zuko run with full abandon was great to see. He'd stop, frantically dig in the sand, stick his nose in there and flip out sand and water and then just take off again. By the end he was covered in sand with his tongue hanging out and a belly full of turkey pepperoni. GOOD DOG!

-- Posted by Zuko's mom

Friday, August 6, 2010


Shibas are hunting dogs, so I guess it would figure they have ginormous teeth. We've never really compared Zuko's teeth to other dogs, but folks comment on them often.

Last weekend we went out to Carmel Valley and Zuko met his new BFF Riley. Riley is a 60 pound white lab 7 month old puppy - so she had a bit of a size advantage on him. But his TEETH! Bigger than hers and he flashes them often during playtime. He's also very, very vocal when he plays. We don't call him "demon dog" for nothing!

Want proof? Check 'em out:

Love bite
Monster teeth
I'm Fierce!
To get all the action, here is the full video. I had to put cheesy music over it because we were all yapping about pointless stuff as I recorded this and we sounded like dorks.

And for further demon-dog-in-action video, here is another clip on Zuko and Riley:

-- Posted by Zuko's Teeth-Brusher

Monday, July 26, 2010

Table Manners

As a Shiba Inu, I am very good at Shiba Mind Control with my humans. Being an ancient breed, I am also a zen master when I need to be. Therefore, I do not need to "beg" for food when my people are eating something tasty. I patiently wait, using Shiba Mind Control and my zen techniques and good things come my way. Most of the time. 

Starving. Plz feed me. on Twitpic
"You want to feed the dog...he's starving"

The other day, we were at a cafe and I was sitting there on the sidewalk being a zen master and this lady walks by and says "what a patient dog". Yup. That's me!

I have noticed sometimes I need to get pretty close to my people for Shiba Mind Control to work. This means I sit next to them on the couch and look at their plate, then look at them - CLEARLY communicating what they are suppose to do. At times, their food seems to have some sort of anti-dog weapon called: "too spicy" and they are able to resist my charm and mind control. However, being a zen master, I know this builds up good food karma for the next time!

"You are getting sleepy and want to feed the dog...yesss...feed the dog...."

Woof! Wishing all my fur-iends good food karma!

-- Posted by Zen Master Zuko