What Happens When You Use Coconut Oil for a Doggy Massage

Garth is having trouble growing hair back on his shaved/bald spot (though now that he is on raw I have a feeling it will help speed up the regrowth!), and thanks to the bitter cold weather his skin in that area has been really dry and cracked and irritated from running around with the other dogs outside. Coconut oil is my magic moisturizing solution so I figured it would be a great oil to use as a massage oil for his bald spot. Of course, there are some minor side effects to using something tasty on a dog’s skin…

Introducing Garth

Well after my cliff-hanger of a Wordless Wednesday I figured it was only fair to actually introduce the “new guy.”

Garth is about two years old, and a mix of whoknowswhat.

He was found as a stray with a severely broken leg that needed to be amputated. He is a lovely dog but for whatever reason after a while in a shelter environment and after the leg surgery, he began to display some “fear aggression”, mostly toward strange men.

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After fostering him for a couple of weeks, my husband and I decided to make a long-term commitment to Garth (who will be keeping the name for now, I guess, since Chris likes it). He needs to build confidence, learn some coping skills and build muscle strength in the remaining hind leg. Most dogs adapt very quickly to life on three legs but Garth has been slow on the uptake.

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So our goals for right now are to teach him that it’s okay to walk away when he’s nervous, as well as doing lots of exercises to teach hind end awareness and build muscle.

Eventually we hope to find a new home for him, and with the right person, I know he will do well. He is a really lovely dog, likes to cuddle, very handleable, no resource guarding, perfect with other dogs and great with the cat. For now, he’s with us and I have a feeling once we smooth out a few edges he’s really going to be a flawless and enjoyable canine companion.

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Today I’m jumping into the “Thursday Barks and Bytes” blog hop with a little introductory post… Check out the hosts at 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog.

Update on Kringle

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Letting go of a foster dog (especially one I liked as much as Kringle) is definitely the hardest part of fostering, but the best part is getting updates and seeing how happy they are in their new homes. I got an email from Kringle’s new mom today and was thrilled to hear that he has adjusted well and he is dearly loved by his new family, and his new doggy brother.

“Kringle is doing great! He really enjoys it here and he and Brody are inseparable! He is such a great companion for Brody!

I am trying to introduce Kringle to the grooming table, with reasonable luck and baby-steps he’ll learn to enjoy it. He does enjoy me grooming him only not on the table. He loves playing, especially in the snow, loves to climb on the huge piles of snow and play “king of the land”!

I am amazed at how well he has taken to us and his new brother! His temperament is much quieter than Brody’s, makes a great mix. He still has had no accidents and is so quiet!

He loves playtime and is just so darned cute! We feel so blessed to have met you and given the opportunity to become Kringle’s forever family!”

Teaching “Take It”

I posted this video of Bauer picking up some things for me on Facebook and had someone asking how I taught him. My eventual goal with Bauer is for him to pick up anything from any distance and bring it to me. He’s making good progress as he’s able to pick up some trickier items like my keys though it was definitely harder to teach that than the easier/lighter stuff like my wallet and checkbook.

I could explain how I taught this to Bauer but it would probably be convoluted and might not work for everyone’s dog so instead I found a few great Youtube videos teaching similar behaviors that should give everyone the basic idea!

Stuff I Like: Diva Dog Charms

So I have a slight addiction to dog stuff. Collars, toys, tags, leashes, paintings etc… I always say some women buy shoes, I buy dog collars. That said, I also really like supporting small businesses, and I think the reason I have such an addiction is that there is some AWESOME dog/pet related stuff out there. So why not share my discoveries with the world?

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With all the dog (and cat) collars I have in this house, it’s only fitting that I have some awesome tags with which to ornament them. Tags are, of course, a valuable source of identification if the dogs are ever lost, but they are also stylish and fun. Now, I will admit that I generally don’t like dangling tags and while in the house the dogs have tags that attach flat to their collars.

That said, I think it is says a lot about Diva Dog Charms tags that they’re the one brand of “dangly” tag I use, and recommend (my mom has one for her dog as well as lots of dog friends). The tags are durable and extremely well priced, and the lovely lady behind the business, Justine, has a great creative flair and makes even simple tags completely unique. She also offers crate tags, bracelets, necklaces, rings and keychains. Jeni used her “I double dew dare you” tag (which was a genius tagline that Justine originally came up with for her Beauceron) while herding and playing at Icetoberfest 2013… if a tag can stand up to that, it can stand up to anything!

Justine also happens to be a great dog and cat owner, who introduced me to CPE agility and adopted one of our foster cats! This is the beautiful Panda with her Diva Dog Charms tag:

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Community Canines

The American Kennel Club recently developed a new advanced level titleCommunity Canine. This title is an “advanced” version of the Canine Good Citizen test which is a pretty standard/basic test of if your dog can do some basic obedience and work around distractions (and not bite anybody – that’s part of the whole “good citizen” thing…). For some dogs, like Bauer, this test is a pretty easy precursor to other obedience titles or work like therapy dogs or service dogs. For other dogs, like Jeni, the test can seem totally unattainable and is a big achievement. Passing the test doesn’t necessarily make your dog a “good” dog and not passing it doesn’t mean your dog is “bad” but it’s a nice title to have and generally demonstrates that a dog has a stable temperament.

Community Canine takes the test a few steps further, adding more distractions and really testing if the dog can function in a busy, “normal” environment. While the CGC test is generally taken in a ring at a class facility with manufactured distractions, the Community Canine test is often held in public environments with “real” distractions to see how the dog can handle it. Again – not a test of good or bad, but a fun title to get.

At our nosework class/All Star Dogs Club a couple of weeks ago, everyone was chatting and I was sitting on the couch with Bauer and Jeni when I asked our trainer if he was holding CGCA tests at any point. He asked me if Bauer was ready, which of course he was (or, he better be, for all he goes out in public!), and told me we could do it that night. Thanks to the other students and their dogs for making distractions for me… we simulated real life experiences like walking past another dog down a tight hallway and walking through a doorway while holding (and not spilling) a full cup of water. Bauer passed easily… yes, THIS goofball:

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After going through the steps with Bauer, I realized Jeni would be capable of taking the test as well! I should hope so, as she’s been going to busy agility trials and we have a rally trial scheduled for about a month from now. So at our next session, after running Jeni through some rally practice (she rocked it!) and working on some conformation handling (mostly having Jeni stand still and tolerating someone touching her), we decided to run Jeni through the test. And my beautiful and patient girl passed as well! She really is a special dog for always working so hard for me when most of the time I’m sure she wants to make this face:

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A perfect handler I am not, but learning together is part of the journey! Anyway, now Jeni and Bauer both get to add CGCA after their names and can move onto other fun things and new titles down the road.

So I’ll leave you with this… see those goofballs in the pictures? They are “community canines” but they are also DOGS. They bark, and poop, and jump, and bite, and bark more, and pull on the leash sometimes, and play keep away, and knock stuff over, and chew things, and steal food… I could go on. A very smart coworker of mine told me if she could only get people to understand that dogs are dogs, and teach people they can’t expect robots, we would have way less of a homeless animal problem. So, from someone who trains their dogs daily and has several titles on them, look at what my “community canine” did just last night, and think about the expectations you have for your own dogs…

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(Yes, Jeni does have a sense of humor…)

The Importance of Microchipping

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Legolas got microchipped today. He was not shy about telling me that I was an abusive owner for putting him in a carrier and how DARE I let the vet poke him with an awful needle. And he reminded me that I owe him extra dinner for putting up with this torture.

What Legolas doesn’t realize is that a microchip could save his life.

There are some arguments as to whether or not there are major health risks to microchipping but the general consensus is that risk is low and the payoff is high. For more detail on how exactly microchipping works, HomeAgain is a great resource, but in a nut shell it is a small chip the size of a grain of rice that has a unique number which can be scanned and matched to your contact information if your pet is lost.

All of our dogs are microchipped, though luckily we have not ever needed it yet. Legolas was the last pet in our family without one, and given his great interest in trying to get outside (“watch the door!!!” is a commonly shouted phrase in our house…), he needs the extra protection in case he gets lost.

The actual microchipping process itself took about 10 seconds and was all in all a non-event. Now he has a permanent form of ID that will last even if his collar and tags fall off when he gets outside.

Our shelter frequently returns animals to their owners because of a microchip. A few times, we have had amazing stories result from a microchip – the family who found their dog two years later when it was scanned in our shelter, or the man whose dog somehow traveled 600 miles from home and was found with a chip several states away. If your pet makes it into an animal shelter, the best chance of them finding their way back home, and surviving the experience, is if they have a microchip. I’ve heard horror stories of animals that are put down in a shelter for being aggressive, or just for space and the owner finding out after the fact that their dog had been in the shelter. None of it would have happened if the animal was chipped.

So there’s my public service announcment/lecture for the day. It’s very cost effective, and if the price your vet is quoting you seems too much, look up your local shelter or humane society as most of them offer low cost microchipping clinics at various times throughout the year. Hopefully you will never need it, but it’s just a little extra insurance in case your pet does get lost, as well as proof of ownership.

Icies at the Michigan Winter Dog Classic

Hung out with my favorite Icelandic Sheepdog breeder and my favorite Icie puppy, Asta, at the Michigan Winter Dog Classic today. Asta and I did not show because crowds freak me out but we DID get her CGC title at only nine months old! She is growing up to be a lovely girl.

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