Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Off Lead

Everything I have read about shiba inus recommended one thing: never let them off lead as they have a high prey drive. I have always wanted a dog that you can let off the leash and play fetch with in a park or something. My first dog, a Korean Jindo, has an extremely high prey drive and couldn't be trusted off lead. Although I will admit, she is a clever escape artist and would randomly get loose and roam the neighborhood. God knows what she killed during her time away from home, but she always came back in one piece and without blood all over her so I figure we're ok.

Anyway, my friend Fox has a male shiba inu named Jackson. Jackson is the very rare shiba because he listens to Fox attentively and can be walked without a leash. He stays relatively close by and although he doesn't know "sit," "shake," or other cute tricks like that, he knows "up" (get up on the sidewalk), "heel," and "watch out." It's so amazing to see an animal who is so prissy and independant willingly listen to his human and follow him devotedly around. Jackson will also willingly give up pursuit of squirrels, rabbits, and other small vermin he comes across. I'm jealous.

Since moving to the suburbs and noticing the lack of sidewalks around here, Corey and I take the dogs to a near by park and let them run around. We use those super long training leashes on them so they're easier to catch if need be. Sometimes I think I can trust Cooper off lead because he has no interest in anything. He doesn't care if a squirrel is less than 3 inches from him, he doesn't care for other dogs, children, or balls thrown in his general direction. After we switch leashes on the dogs, Pickle takes off and runs around in ecstacy while Cooper rolls around in the grass and plops down to watch Pickle. He doesn't want to run, play, or enjoy the great outdoors. Corey and I have to coax him to run by dragging him a little or getting Pickle to attack Cooper. Cooper just isn't interested in being "free." If I walk away to the other side of the field, Cooper will pick himself up and follow me. Even though he has some free rein, he stays no farther than 15 feet away from me.

This is Cooper just sitting in the park. Pickle doesn't stay still long enough for me to take a picture and I only had the camera on my phone available. Anyway, I kind of worry about Cooper's weight because I feel like he isn't getting as much excercise as he did when I lived downtown. I wold walk him for at least an hour after work and since I don't have a car, whenever I went anywhere I would drag him with me for a false sense of security against the homeless and the crack whores. I don't get home until much later now that I live so far away and usually I have to start dinner almost as soon as I get home. So poor Cooper will be driven to the park that's less than a mile away, I make him run for about 20 minutes, and we walk around the park but in all honesty, the entire trip takes less than half an hour. Totally not enough excercise for Cooper and Pickle.

I just feel guilty I suppose. I don't want obese dogs but at the same time I'm too lazy to do more than the run at the park. Living in suburbia really does make a person lazy...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Too Cute!

I always loved random fuzzy animals larger than myself. I am not the type of person who will carry around a 5 pound "dog" and still respect myself at night. As a small child I have always wanted German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, or Huskies. I loved big cats, wolves, bears, you name it. I'm partial to polar bears because I love their kindly expressions and their tiny little eyes. I like how they slump around and how gracefully they swim for such a large size. Most of all, I love how roly-poly they are. They remind me of gigantic white puppies.

I am bored at work and Googled polar bears and I came across this image:

I mean, how cute is that? Apparently the polar bear came back several times to play with the dogs. It makes me think of Cooper because before he got attacked at the dog park, he loved bigger dogs. He would jump on them and frolic with them and it was the cutest thing. At our old apartment in Iowa the upstairs neighbor had an old German Shepherd named Max and he was like a grandpa to Cooper. He never seemed to mind when Cooper would jump at his face and pull on his lips. If Cooper heard him coming down the stairs guess who wanted to go outside. Cooper. Ah, they were too cute for words and it was the sweetest thing to watch a 120 pound dog playing with a puppy that weighed 13 pounds...

Cooper actually had a goat friend for about an hour when I took him up to CSU for an echocardigram and x-rays. CSU's Vet Hospital also looks after large farm animals and had a few goats and horses in a pen behind the vet school. I needed to walk Cooper and also wanted to pet the horse so I figured, eh, two birds, one stone. Cooper didn't like the horse too much and the horse didn't like him either, but the goat loved Cooper. They were sniffing noses through the fence and would walk next to each other. It was sad to leave because the goat stoof on its hind legs and bleated at Cooper in the most heart-breaking bleats I've ever heard. Cooper kept looking back at the goat and tugging on his leash to try to go back there. It was Cooper's first true love...

I started thinking that if we had that goat, no other dog would dare mess with him again. That goat would kick any dogs' ass should they threaten Cooper. The horse was being mean and stampy towards Cooper and the goat wedged its way between the two lest Coop gets hurt. If only I could keep a goat in my apartment...

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I know I'm not supposed to have a favorite dog out of the two I have but sometimes I just can't help it. Corey's really good at liking both Pickle and Cooper equally but sometimes I see myself favoring Cooper more than Pickle. I play with both equally and give them the same amount of treats but I just like Cooper better.
True, Cooper has a lot of problems. He chooses to listen to you and rarely does anything you ask of him unless you have a treat in your hand. You can see the little wheels in his head turning when I tell him to sit. "Hmm, do I really want to do that? She doesn't look like she has anything in her hand...I don't smell anything...ugh, that stupid Pickle is looking at me...wait, what did she want me to do again? I'm itchy; I'm gonna sit down and scratch myself." By then I get exasperated and either tap his butt to make him sit or ask him to do something else such as a high five. "High Five? Does she have the nail clippers? I hate getting my nails trimmed, it hurts. It makes me feel weird. Hmmm, I'm hungry, when was the last time I ate? Ugh, there's stupid Pickle!" Seriously, I think that's how Cooper thinks.
Anyway, I think I like Cooper more because obviously I've had him longer. Not only that, he was my only friend when I moved out to Iowa last November to be with Corey. He kept me company while Corey went out every weekend with his buddies and obviously he didn't invite me. When we broke up, I moved to Colorado and left Cooper behind for a few months until I got settled in with all intentions of having him flown out to me. Corey and I tried to get back together again and he came out with Cooper and left him since he was returning on my birthday. Well, long story short, we broke up again for a long time and Cooper was my main company while I lived in Downtown Denver. I was very depressed and had absolutely no motivation to do anything but lay in bed and cry. The great thing about Cooper is he really could care less about my problems. He would whine and scratch at the door to be let out. He refuses to poop anywhere near where we live and makes me walk him 8 blocks before he considers pooping. If I don't let him out quickly enough he will drag over my coat, shoes, whatever to make me get out of bed. He refused to show that he cared, never cuddling, licking, or anything. Everything he wanted he had to have and I existed to make him happy. Needless to say, if I didn't have Cooper I would have been a complete shut in.
I suppose that was Cooper's way of telling me that hey, life goes on. Sure it sucks ass that your boyfriend/fiancee dumped you twice in 6 months but look outside! Snow! Let's play in it! And hey, look, it's spring! Let's go sniff all the flowers and you can pick me up to sniff the cherry blossoms! And ooo, the crab apples are falling off the branches, let's chase them! Cooper always managed to cheer me up regardless of how badly I felt about life. Also, if anything were to happen to me, who would take care of his cute little face? Cooper lives a very pampered life which includes tons of organic chicken treats, peanut butter and cream cheese filled kongs, organic chicken breast cooked with rice once a month, and organic free range beef with rice every month as well, and all the free range bully sticks he wants. That doesn't include toys every few months, long daily walks where people will chase me for blocks to pet him, and not to mention all my friends downtown who have dogs and we have random doggy playdates.
That being said, I have a lot to be thankful to Coop for. He showed me that it's ok, you have to live your life even if it's boring and only involves work but hey, let's go outside and chase things. He is a very wise little guy and I guess he has that going for him.
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself but obviously, Corey and I are back together. Maybe third time's the charm for us. He moved out to Colorado to be with me and we are pretty happy. We're working on our issues and it helps that we have Mr. Man to make us laugh and set aside our differences and anger to fulfill his every need.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sibling Rivalry

You would think that after three months Cooper would realize that Pickle is here to stay. Unfortunately, Cooper still hates Pickle almost as much as the first day he arrived. If anything, I think Cooper might hate Pickle more now. Cooper was never one to cuddle, but he really does enjoy lying by your feet on the couch or on the bed. He hasn't been doing that since Pickle came into the picture because Cooper refuses to be on the same bed/couch/side of the floor/you name it with Pickle. Cooper will give an angry bark/growl/snarl and jump off the couch or bed while giving Pickle the dirtiest look I've ever seen from a dog. Pickle, being oblivious, will jump off the couch or bed and follow Cooper around just to annoy him further.
Besides the fact that neither dog can sleep in the room with us, Cooper also steals treats and food from Pickle. Pickle never defends himself in those situations and lets Cooper eat everything. I think Cooper just eats out of spite and not because he's hungry. However, Pickle will beat up Cooper if they start "fighting." Cooper wouldn't harm a fly and has no hunting skills nor prey drive so watching him try to "fight" with Pickle is one of the most amusing parts of my day. Granted, my life is very pathetic and sad which is made even more pathetic as Cooper is the highlight of my day. Cooper tries to make himself look tougher by growling and snarling for all he's worth but he never goes in for the "vital" areas of Pickle's body. He never goes for the throat, ears, pretty much anywhere where he might actually have a chance. He nips at Pickle's thighs and tries to nip Pickle's paws but he's too scared to actually bite. Pickle, on the other hand, has no problems going for Cooper's throat, ears, eyes, belly, and other vital areas. It's really pathetic to watch Cooper start a fight with Pickle only to run away to his safe area (Corey and I established "safe areas" for both dogs to run to when they're feeling overwhelmed with each other).
Last night Cooper was sleeping on the floor while Corey and I were watching tv. Pickle was sitting on the other couch and when he got up to move to the couch Corey and I were sitting in, Cooper started growling at Pickle. We thought he was growling at the door so we ignored him but when Pickle moved to the other couch, Cooper growled again. Even when he's sleeping he can't ignore Pickle. I'm hoping that with time Cooper will accept Pickle and just leave him alone but I don't see that happening anytime soon. Cooper's very stubborn and sometimes when we go for walks, I can see Cooper giving Pickle the evil eye and scheming ways of pushing Pickle into on coming traffic.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pick Pocket

Oh Pickle...where do I begin? Well, my boyfriend and I decided that maybe Cooper would like a friend. I have always wanted a black and tan shiba and we found a breeder that had a few available in Jewell, Iowa. My boyfriend was moving from West Des Moines out to Denver and we decided to buy a pup before he made his move. We got Pickle at 6 months of age; we thought an older puppy would be more appropriate for us since Cooper's mellowed out and we didn't want to stress him with a young pup. Also, he would immediately get neutered and that greatly helps with potty training.
Alas, in deciding to get Pickle, I had to trust the judgement of my boyfriend when he went to pick out the dog. We agreed on a male about six months of age that was a little on the submissive side. That was the easy part. When he went to pick out the puppy, he wasn't able to "tour the facility" and only met Pickle's mom. I have reservations when it comes to looking around to see how the dogs are kept. Also, the breeder bred several other breeds of dogs including poodles, huskies, carin terriers, and I think that's it. I thought it sounded like a puppy mill of sorts. Anyway, poor little Pickle's first experience off the farm was a 10 hour car trip from Iowa to Denver. When he got to my place, the poor little guy refused to look at me. When we introduced him to Cooper he perked up a bit but once we got them inside the house, Pickle sat in a corner and didn't move, look around, anything. Cooper got a little territorial because he's been an only "child" since we brought Pickle home. The first night Pickle spent in Cooper's kennel and didn't make one sound.
Now, at 10 months of age, Pickle has a ton of social problems we're working with. I believe that he was kept kenneled all day when he lived in Iowa and had very few encounters with people. He freaks out when he sees someone; running in circles and defecating or peeing. When we take him out for walks he constantly circles in a clockwise direction; never counter-clockwise. He's fine with other dogs but when he meets people he just freaks out and can't calm down. I've had friends, strangers, vets, you name it, try to make him feel comfortable by not directly staring at him and letting him sniff them but he refuses to do it. When we have company over, he runs and hides in his kennel. Since we moved to the suburbs from downtown Pickle has had less encounters with people and I wish I could get him out there. We're going to enroll him in puppy classes to see if this will help. He's smart; he just has interaction issues. His constant circling makes it almost impossible to walk next to him without tripping on him and we have tried harnesses, a gentle leader, keeping the leash longer, shorter, somewhere in the middle, and even walking him with two collars and leashes with one person on either side of him. Nothing really helps. However, the circling has become a lesser occurance since we got him in July so I believe we're making progress.
Besides his circling and fear of humans, Pickle is an overall good dog. He is a very quick learner and bascially copies everything Cooper does. He loves to cuddle and will squeeze his way between Corey and me when we're on the couch or in bed. He was a little hard to house train but we expected that. Pickle seems to be fascinated with TV and will watch TV with us for hours on end. Once he started trusting us, his personality just bloomed. He's very playful, happy, and so eager to please. I think he appreciates his new life with us compared to the hell he had to live through in Iowa. He has the stinkiest breath and no matter how much we brush them or give him this anti-tartar stuff, his breath smells like dead and rotting animals. The vet says his PH balance is off and he has a lot of tartar build up so we'll have to get his teeth professionally cleaned every year.
He loves Cooper. I don't know what he would do if Cooper wasn't around for a day. He follows him around like an adoring younger brother which annoys Cooper. Pickle wants to be as close as possible to Coop but Cooper doesn't allow that. But, it is so cute to watch them play together; tackling and running after the same toys. Pickle's more assertive than Cooper and will yank toys out of Cooper's mouth. Cooper doesn't know what to make of this and will usually just make angry noises.
I'm hoping with time and some training, Pickle can start to trust humans and not be deathly afraid of them. So far, we're making slow but steady progress.

Friday, October 3, 2008

All About My Mr. Man

I got Cooper when he was about 10 weeks old from a small breeder in Iowa in November of 2006. Well, she was almost at the Minnesota border, but Iowa nonetheless. He was the last one left of his litter and the little guy was so excited to see and meet new people. He was fat, cuddly, healthy (as far as I can tell from looks alone), and had a dingleberry stuck to his side. It was love at first sight. I just wished that the breeder noticed the clump of poo stuck to his side but oh well, I brought him home with it on him since it was freezing and I didn't want him to catch a cold.

Now Cooper is fully grown at 2 years of age. He's quite a handsome fellow if I must say so myself, but he is very, very dramatic and prissy. I think he has more feminine features than masculine but I suppose that's ok. He is very eager to please and is extremely easy going and laid back. He's the first male dog I have ever owned so it has been a learning experience.

Here's more about Cooper:
  • He hates water and will squirm and scream during baths. I happily paya very nice man to wash my dog a couple times a year. He also hates getting his nails trimmed but I put an old t-shirt on him which for some reason makes him freeze up so the most he can do is whimper while I trim away.
  • He has seasonal allergies and I am dealing with that right now. Poor little guy's face is red and puffy and he just looks miserable.
  • His nick names include: Coopa Coop, Mr. Man, Choo Choo, and sometimes I call him Cooper Face.
  • He loves everyone he meets. I don't think he ever barked threateningly towards anyone unless they were ignoring him. He doesn't do too well with dogs since he got viciously attacked by some huge mutts at a dog park.
  • He's not a cuddler but is on you like glue when you're sick. I like that.
  • He is very vocal. And he has nightmares and screams in the middle of the night because of them. It probably includes water and large mean dogs.
  • He has a heart problem. At first the vet thought it was a heart murmer but after a year of saving money (i.e. paying off enough of my credit card debt) I took him to Colorado State University Veterinary School to have it thoroughly checked out. I can't remember the medical name, but basically he has a small hole in his heart that never closed up while he was in the womb. Nothing too serious but we'll keep checking up on it. Nothing but my deep love for that dog would make me step foot on my rival college's campus (I went to the University of Colorado at Boulder and CSU is our rival in-state college).

So yeah, I suppose that's about it for him. He's really the pride and joy of my life right now.