Friday, May 21, 2010

Shiba Toy: the Water Bottle

Zuko loves water bottles. What Shiba wouldn't? They crunch, crackle and roll! They are hours of fun! Okay, maybe minutes....

I put a couple of treats in the bottle and drop it on the ground - keeps him busy. It is noisy as hell, but he has fun. :-)

The stare-down

The attack

There is now a whole listing of water bottle toys for dogs. Very funny - Zuko doesn't need the fancy wrapping, he's happy with just the bottle.

-- Prince Zuko's mom

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hide-A-Squirrel: Zuko needs remedial class

After seeing the fun Betsy and Kit had with the Hide-A-Squirrel, I was eager to get one for Zuko! I finally found them at George, here in SF.

According to the box, I was suppose to let Zuko torment the squirrels first. I guess this helps him get a taste for squirrel stuffing and make him eager to dig them out of the tree stump. So - OK. Step one worked well:

Step two: hide squirrels in tree trunk. I also buried a treat in the bottom so it would smell delicious to Zuko. As you can see below, he is going to have to attend remedial Squirrel Hunting class.

-- Posted by Zuko's still amused mom

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Zuko's (Odd) Shiba Behaviors: the Southpaw

Zuko is a southpaw. I don't know if most pets show a particular "handedness" but he showed a clear preference for hiking up the back left leg by the time he was five months old. At four months he was trying both legs (and losing his balance alot - it was pretty funny) but by five months he was solid on the left leg being the preferred one. Even our dog-walker noted that he was a lefty.

This makes walking him interesting, if the bushes are on the right side of us. He'll cut over, approach the bush, sniff and then he has to orientate his body properly so he can lift the left leg. He will not life the right one. It is actually pretty funny sometimes as he struggles to get in the right position!

-- Posted by Zuko's amused mom

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why the beach is pawesome!

Look at me at the beach!

I love the beach - best..ever. Why you ask? Even tho my people won't let me off leash (something about "never coming back") the beach is super. I like to pee on seaweed, sand castles and driftwood. I also like to poop in the water line and see if I can get done before the wave hits me. My people mom says the Greenpeace people and surfers give her dirty looks for this and now she tries to stop it ... but sometimes I iz faster than her AND the waves! Woof! I also like to dig in the sand looking for tasty crabs or just for the fun of it. I then stick my nose in the hole and flip out the water and sand. Mom is mystified by this, I iz not telling her what the secret is!

The best part of the beach is running in the sand. Wheeeee!

-- Posted by Prince Zuko, Beach Bum

Monday, May 10, 2010

Essentials: Shiba Health and Wellness

Experience has made me believe Shibas mature fast. Zuko had great bladder control early, had all his adult teeth by five months and was hiking a leg to pee at about four and a half months. We had him neutered at five months and both of his boys where there and fully dropped. Teething wasn't too bad for us. He loves bully sticks but scorned Nylabones. He also liked ropes and Kongs for chewing. Plastic water bottles are a favorite since they move and crunch and are noisy. Only once did he damage anything when he was a puppy - I had not put a big enough selection of chewies in his ex-pen and we came home to find he'd chewed the wood trim by the wall. Now he's just over 18 months old and he has the calm confidence of an older dog and was full size since last summer - people are always surprised how young he is when they ask his age. The only major physical change over the past 6 months has been the fading of the black on his muzzle and he seems to look more "wolfy" and less "teddy bear".

Cute and he knows it - at only 5 weeks!

Our biggest medical challenge was diarrhea. Cheese doesn't agree with him and he picked up giardia in daycare and this year with the rain and mud he has diarrhea again. As he has got older, the cheese doesn't trigger problems anymore, but he only gets it in small doses when we are doing training exercises.  We do feed him people food - I know some people will condemn us for this, but he gets small bits of carrots, apples and bananas, almonds and dried cranberries, fish, eggs and meat that doesn't have any sauce on it. On special days he might get a few pieces of mac and cheese if I'm in the mood to share. While he steals the occasional corn tortilla chip, we avoid corn and wheat in general in his food and treats. As a puppy, these ingredients seemed to contribute to his tummy problems and itchy skin and it is pretty easy to avoid them. By avoiding them most of the time, when he does stumble onto something with corn or wheat in it, he does just fine.

The only other medical challenge we have had are allergies. Besides the suspected food allergies (wheat and corn) he definitely has seasonal allergies. He had goopy eyes and was very sneezy his first winter with us. Then, late last summer, at about 9 months old, he scratched his muzzle so hard he had a bald spot. He was frequently chewing his legs and feet and scratching at his neck. We took him into our vet (who is awesome) and he said that time of year in SF was trouble for many, many dogs. This winter and spring, as the rains have fallen and things are blooming again, we've noticed he started getting sneezy and itchy starting around the February timeframe. We clean off his feet and legs when needed and if he's really struggling we slip him some Benedryl before bed. Overall though, it seems much better this year than it was last winter and the Benedryl is rarely needed. The goopy eyes are a thing of the past and he hasn't scratched enough to rub off his fur. So not sure if he is just acclimating to the San Francisco allergen system or "growing out" of his allergies like human children do sometimes.

About Benedryl: my aunt is a vet-tech and he suggested about 1/2 an adult Benedryl per 15 pounds of dog or 1mg per pound of doggy body weight. Since Zuko is about 27-28 pounds, she said he would be fine with a full pill, but suggested we test a half dose first and go up if needed. He's fine on a full pill, but does get sleepy. The antihistamine effects seem to carry over to the next day a bit also so we only use it at night. We use this very, very rarely but we have it as part of our doggie medical kit. We also buy the dye-free pills: why add one more element (hot pink dye) into an allergy situation?

He picked up some type of doggie flu/cold this spring: it could have been kennel cough though he's vaccinated. It only lasted a week and wasn't too severe.

Otherwise, he's a darn healthy dog. At 27 pounds he's not fat (at 28 pounds he's starting to push his limits) and he is solid and a bit bigger than the average size for a Shiba. His coat is good, his teeth are good and his energy is good (too good sometimes!). With the allergies more manageable this year, he's in full Shiba excellent form!

--- Posted by Zuko's parents, M.D.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Zuko's (Odd) Shiba Behaviors

Zuko is a typical Shiba in many ways and has a nickname of "Demon Dog". Shiba Shake gives a very fun article on the Good / Bad personality traits of Shibas. Zuko is exempt from only a few of these, for most it is matter of to what degree the trait manifests itself! I have only heard the Shiba Scream three times: twice while bathing him (he now goes to the groomer for that) and once when he was attacked by a dog at the park.

Pretending to be a cat.

Here is the "short" list of some of his amusing and odd behaviors:
    1. Somewhere along the way, he must have been pinched by the buckle on his harness and he started running from it. He got over the fear and now it is a game to him. The harness comes out and he takes off into the back room bouncing along the way. He goes into play-bow stance, tail wagging. Dork.

    2. He does not like to be seen when he poops. He will strain to the end of his flexi-leash and pace back and forth, back and forth, before he finally goes. If we go to the fenced-in dog park, he will run to the complete other end, go behind the bushes, and then finally go. Not sure if this is a Shiba thing or a dog thing, but I've seen a couple of other Shiba owners mention it.

    3. He likes to squeeze between our legs and the kitchen or bathroom cabinets whenever we are standing at the counter.

    4. He knows the sound of me cutting carrots and will come running for them.

    5. He likes to shred sponges. Woe to the dish sponge or cleaning sponge left lying around. So far he has suffered no ill effects, but this one is a bit scary.

    6. He loves to shred paper, napkins and tissues as much as he likes to shred sponges. I never thought "the dog ate my homework" was real, but he actually did shred my notes from a work call one day and I had to 'fess up to my co-workers that the dog ate my work notes.

    7. He was car sick as a puppy and still hates cars. He has reached the point where he can sleep in the car and will sometimes jump into the car voluntarily - but it is rare. Unlike other dogs, I don't think he's ever going to like the car. Shibas remind me of cats in this manner: they never, ever forget things. Ever.

    8. He loves ice chips. But only the ones that fall on the floor.

    9. He will steal your spot in bed at night. If you get up, even for a few seconds, it is as if he teleports instantly into your spot on the bed, snuggled up against your pillow. When you try to move him, he suddenly weighs 400 lbs and has grown roots into that spot.

    10. His favorite thing to pee on is geraniums. There seems to be a species that grows wild here and is sort of a weed: we see it in the parks and along the streets. This is absolutely his favorite thing to pee on. They must have some smell to them that screams "pee on me Shiba!!".
     On top of the world!

    -- Posted by Zuko's very amused owner

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    Dog Aggression or Aggressive Playing?

    So, we had a "thing" happen at the off-leash dog-park today. I took Zuko to work on recall - and that wasn't the problem. In fact, he was like a little red rocket flying toward my hand holding the turkey pepperoni. Good Dog! He was being pretty mellow and interacting with the other dogs well.

    Then a big puppy showed up with his older, not very mobile, owner. The puppy was immediately in submissive postures with the other dogs. On the ground, tail tucked - super, super submissive. Hmm. The owner threw out a stuffy toy and Zuko and another dog got it instead and began the tug-o-war. Zuko was LOUD. Very snarly, very growly. If I didn't know otherwise, I would think some dog was getting his ass handed to him. The other dog seemed fine, but I think I was getting some odd looks from the other owners. The stuffy toy came apart in about 30 seconds, and it was over.

    Then the submissive puppy got into the mix and Zuko snarled her down. Meaning she was in his face a bit and he snarled and teeth came out and she dropped to her belly and gave a yelp. I was watching closely - Zuko's teeth didn't land on her, but my sense was he wasn't a fan of her attention at that time. I've seen grown up dogs put puppies in their places, but I don't know if that was what I was seeing or not.

    Zuko goes to daycare 2-3 days a week and they have never had issues with him there. So - what gives? Am I over-reacting?

    -- Posted by Zuko's paranoid people mom