Corona Dogs

The dogs are living their best life ever!

Someone is always home to give them attention.

There are multiple opportunities for snacks in the kitchen with everyone taking their lunchbreaks at different times.

We all spend lots of time on the front porch, waving at friends and watching people walk by.

With everyone at home, crate time is minimal and play time in the yard is available all day long.

During normal times (it’s almost hard to remember what those times were like), I was the one who was home the most. I’m the one in charge and I feel like I know my dogs really well, but with all of this concentrated time together with more family members added in, I’ve learned even more about each of them.

Winn

Nicknames include: Winsor, Winderella, Big Winn, Winn Winn, Pushy McPush, Chompadile, Fluffernutter and Kissyface

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Winn. What can I say about Winn except that she is constantly looking to do something that will bring her a treat. (When she’s not passed out on the cool tile of course.)

Winn learned to bring in the paper just a few weeks after we brought her home, and as she’s gotten bigger and stronger she brings in lots of other things as well. When she hears the car pull into the alley, she charges outside to help. She loves to bring in groceries and shopping bags.

Everytime one of us goes out to the front porch, Winn is right on our heels looking for packages or mail. There have been a lot more deliveries since the Stay at Home orders were activated and Winn is thrilled about that! If we don’t open them right away, she will grab one that might be laying around and bring it to me again, looking for a treat. This also includes empty mailers and boxes, packing material and anything that might be in a plastic bag.

She developed a new habit as soon as my husband and I would sit down for dinner. We have never fed from the table, and never will, but she decided it was worth a try to push that boundary. Immediately after we sit down, we will hear her rummaging and then she will appear with something in her mouth. If she can’t find a piece of mail, paper, wrapper or a catalog, she’ll bring something else. When she started bringing me shoes, I had enough of this new habit and started putting her in her crate when we ate. After two nights in the crate she got the hint and left us alone….for a few days. Now if she brings something while we are eating, I take the item, say thank you and direct her to her crate with the door open. She lies in there for a few minutes and then will leave and go to her napping spot in the other room.

After realizing she won’t get anywhere with us while we are eating, she has recently started bringing us a toy when she thinks we are finished and might be ready to clear the table. Since this is water season and I hope to start water training soon, she’s been playing with her bumper and that’s currently her toy of choice to retrieve. I really can’t turn her down when she sits there looking so cute as she patiently waits for us to throw it.  That’s the signal that we are done with dinner and she might get a little reward (recently she got some tortilla bites which she thought were abosolutely delicious).IMG_4903Winn makes me smile. She is so affectionate and will suddenly charge at me and climb all over me. She likes to kiss my face, and she usually does this when she wants to go outside, but first I have to get her off of me so I can get up and let her out! She loves food, any food, but she also knows that everyone gets a bite so she is (somewhat) patient when I give Maisie and Chocolate a nibble of whatever Winn is getting. Maisie is very picky so if she takes too long sniffing the offering, Winn is happy to take it off of my hands.

Winn doesn’t like it when I’m on the phone, or working on my laptop. I have to be quick when her big head comes at me because she will flop it down on the keyboard.  She wants my attention immediately, and she will do whatever necessary to get it!

Winn is my working girl and we have had so much fun together learning new tricks and skills. We haven’t been to our Rally and Obedience training class since February, nor have we done any water training yet but I hope to get back to it soon. Safety is the priority but we could both use a change of scenery and I really miss training with other dogs and handlers.

Maisie

Nicknames include: Maisiepie, Maizelda, Tiptoe, Miss Princess, Snugglepuss and Fussypants

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I’ve always said Maisie is like Mary Poppins, she’s practically perfect in every way.

She is so sweet, so gentle, so eager to please. She understands and reacts to human emotions so much more deeply than any other dog I’ve had. She instinctually knows when someone is sad and needs comfort, when someone is frail and she needs to be extra gentle, when someone is fearful or shy and she needs to be still and patient while they approach.

Maisie is also a Nanny dog. She will become alarmed and scold when kids are running, people are yelling, or someone is being disruptive. This pertains to people she sees both in real life and on the TV. We have a very hard time watching TV when Maisie is in the room. After seven years, this is my biggest training fail because she still barks at the TV and we still correct. Every. Single. Day.

Maisie and I have volunteered with a reading program for kids in Chicago Public Schools. Maisie is a natural with the kids and is very popular when we show up in the classroom. She also takes her hall monitor duties very seriously and will tell kids to slow down if they even think about running. I work very hard to spot her warning signs before she lets out a bark, but every now and then I’m not quick enough and she lets them know when they are being too loud and fast in the hallway. We both miss seeing the kids and having them read to us.IMG_0292

I’ve mentioned that Maisie is a fussy eater. She doesn’t like green vegetables, strong smelling cheese or things that feel slimy. Sometimes she will eat a banana, but if it’s too ripe, she will spit it out. Sometimes she will eat a tomato, after Winn has inhaled a piece, but often times she will spit it out and Winn will swoop in and gobble it up. She doesn’t like ice, but she loves “ice cream”. I  mix yogurt and different flavors together and freeze  in silicone molds. Maisie sits by the freezer every night waiting for her bedtime ice cream treat. Maisie loves all meat, chicken and most fish. Sometimes she will eat shrimp, sometimes she will spit it out depending on if she thinks the texture feels wierd that day. Winn is happy to clean up the floor for her.

Maisie does not like a water bowl with floaties in it. Winn leaves floaties everytime she takes a drink. Maisie will go up to the water bowl, dip her nose in about 1/8 inch, and turn and walk away if she doesn’t think the water is fresh enough. If she’s really thirsty, she will sit by the bowl and stare at one of us until we change the water. Now that so many people are home, she’s gotten really bold and started flipping the bowl when she would like it to be fresh. When the bowl with the fresh water arrives, we try to give Maisie first dibs but Winn almost always comes rushing over and sticks her big head in while Maisie is drinking. These two girls are a lot of work, just in very different ways!

P.S. Maisie’s biopsy results were benign, we are so relieved!

Chocolate

Nicknames include: Chockie, Choco Taco, Buddy and Needle Nose (given more time together, more names will evolve)IMG_0077

Chocolate is doing really well. He has adapted to our house and family remarkably fast. He seems to be more at ease and his barking has decreased by a huge amount.

He still sneaks up on me, but I’m getting better about checking behind me when I move around to see if he’s there. I’m not running into him quite as often but I’m still amazed by his ability to move around so quietly.

He has accepted us as his new flock to watch over, and I think that’s really sweet. He spends most of his time keeping tabs on me, I’m the one who feeds him but he does flit around the house checking up on my mom, husband and son.

Chocolate is a pill spitter. He will eat any food I offer him, but pills, chewable or not, forget it.  I’ve had to wrap his meds multipe times in diffent things. Peanut butter was good at first, but now he knows that trick and won’t touch it. Bread doesn’t work at all but turkey and ham are acceptable. For now, at least.

He’s a quirky little dog, but I find him entertaining the more I get to know him. He likes to learn new things, maybe when things get a little more normal we will try taking a class together.

Have you noticed new behaviors from your dogs recently? How have they responded to the Corona lifestyle changes?

Going to the Vet in the time of Corona

Because of the Corona Virus we’ve had to put almost everything on hold,  but when it comes to medical care I had to figure out how to do that. In the very first week of our lockdown, I made a trip to the Animal Emergency Hospital and the Emergency Room for humans. Everyone is fine, they were treated for their conditions and sent home to recuperate but the stress level was very high during both of these episodes!

Once the emergencies were behind us, I thought I had done everything right. I made sure that we had two months worth of medications, both animal and human, but eventually those ran out and I had to get refills. Maisie and Chocolate were both overdue for their annual physicals, so I made the decision to make an appointment for all of them and get them taken care of in one big swoop.

I was nervous about taking this on, but I figured “in for penny, in for a pound”. So I headed out, knowing this was going to cost a lot of pennies and loaded over 200 pounds of dog into the car.IMG_4612I received instructions on the new ways of handling the appointments, so I knew what to expect. I’m sure they will vary by office but if you are going to the Vet sometime soon, these changes are probably similar to what you will experience.

  1. I was told to park in a designated area and call when we arrived. After the Dr. explained all of the sterilization procedures they are practicing, we talked about what each dog needed (vaccinations, refills, nail trims etc.).  She asked for the make and model of my car and then sent out two techs to pick up the dogs. I was asked to wear a mask during the transfer and then wait in the car until the appointments were completed.  (It was pouring rain, they were fully covered in masks, gloves and rain gear and Winn was not a fan.)IMG_4614
  2. Once they were inside, their collars and leashes were removed and put in bags with their names on them. Sterilized slip leads were put on and used while they were in the office.
  3. I received a call from their doctor, and she carefully went over her appointment notes for each dog, explaining everything they did and answering all of my questions. It was difficult not being inside to comfort them during their appointments, but I knew they were well taken care of. We’ve been going to this office for over 20 years and have always had very positive relationships with all of the staff.
  4. After going through all of the appointment notes, I was transferred to the front desk to, ahem, settle up. Yes, it was a big bill but I was glad to have it all done at once.
  5. I waited outside, and they were all brought to me. Three bags were set down in front of me containing their leashes, collars, meds and appointment summaries. IMG_4711

So…despite the changes it really wasn’t so bad. Everyone went out of their their way to smile and be friendly (behind their masks) and make the appointments as easy as possible. I have the feeling these protocols will be in place for a while, so many things have changed over the last few months, but it is still possible to safely take care of important appointments to maintain good health.

I’m glad we went, an issue was discovered with Maisie that needs to be addressed. This was something I didn’t want to put off despite my inclination to stay home and I’m hoping for the best. She went back yesterday for a biopsy, so please keep her in your thoughts. She’s such a special girl who brings joy to everyone she meets. IMG_0336I hope you have all been safe, healthy and enjoying being with your pets during this stressful time.

 

Who’s the little guy in the back?

We’ve had some changes recently and Chocolate the collie is now a full time resident and pack member!

To be honest, it was a very easy transition because the dogs were all well aquanted. Chocolate is my mom’s dog. He’s a sweet boy and they have all gotten to know each other well since she moved to the area 3 years ago.

Over the last several months, it was becoming more difficult for my mom to take care of him, so we welcomed him and her both into our house full time a few weeks ago.

Maisie and Winn reacted to him in the same manner they always do, which is pretty much “oh hi, it’s you” and then they went on with whatever they were doing. None of them have dominant tendencies, but they all seem to know where they are in the pecking order. Chocolate is last, he knows it and so do they. There haven’t been any squables and I’m thankful for that.

The transition has been pretty seamless, but we have all noted some differences that are kind of funny.IMG_0077.jpeg

  • I’m used to big heads and big teeth. They don’t scare me and I regularly put my hand in Winn’s mouth to pull out whatever she is trying to hide from me. Hand feeding my newfs has never been an issue for me. Maisie is the most gentle, Winn sometimes gets a little overexcited but she never bites down. Bailey, my first, was the one that needed to constantly be reminded to be gentle.  Her nickname was Chompadile, but Chocolate has a pointy mouth and sharp little teeth and we are both having some frustration while he learns what gentle means.
  • He has a very inefficient mouth. He spends more time at the water bowl than the other two and there is water everywhere when he is done. Winn slings water around too, but with her, she brings in so much that the excess drips out of her jowls. If she moves her head while this is happening, she leaves a water trail. He doesn’t seem to be able to bring much in, again it’s that pointy snout and mouth, and the water flies around him while he tries to get a drink.
  • Chocolate is a stealthy watch dog. He wants to know where I am at all times and he quietly moves with me. I have turned around many times and run into him because he sneaks up behind me. The girls sleep soundly and rarely wake up once they are down for the night. Apparently, Chocolate doesn’t sleep through the night. My son recently told me that he gets freaked out when he is in the kitchen for his 2 am snack and turns to find Chocolate standing and staring at him. I didn’t know he was also keeping tabs on my son!
  • His leash manners are terrible. I’ve known this for a while and Mom used a no pull harness with him that worked well for her but I really prefer to have my dogs walk on a loose leash naturally. I’ve worked with him in the past and gotten him trained for Mom but she didn’t really hold him to the same standard so now we are working on it for real. I get funny looks walking the three of them. Winn on the outside left, her leash over my shoulder, Chocolate with a short lead on the inside left by my hip and Maisie on my right. (If Mom is with me, she holds onto my right arm and has Maisie’s leash.) The collie is the one getting most of my attention, the other’s are just out for a stroll. I’ve jokingly said, if I trip and go down, the whole train derails.
  • He’s a waddling pooper. He will squat to do his business, but then keeps walking while pooping leaving a trail behind him. I find this very peculiar and I’m not a fan. I have stepped in poop several times on our backyard sidewalk which in all my years of dog ownership is a first!
  • He barks. The doorbell and trucks driving by set him off the most. I still get starteled by the increased noise level but we are working on it.  He’s a really smart boy and responds well to positive reinforcement so we will get there together, it just might take a while.
  • He figured out the mealtime routine really fast. Everyone sits and stays while I put the bowls down and then they get to eat when I say OK. When they are done, they all move around licking each other’s bowls just to make sure they all got the same thing. Mealtime makes me smile.
  • Chocolate is a thunder dog, meaning he’s terrified of it. I’ve never had a thunder dog but I have heard enough stories from friends to know that it can be pretty challenging to deal with. I knew this from talking to my mom, but one night a couple of months ago, I experienced it for real and it was rough. I’ve stocked the house with calming things to try and now I’m taking note of thunder warnings so hopefully with a little preparation I can help him be a little calmer next time.IMG_0133.jpeg

So, despite all of the changes we are all dealing with right now, Chocolate has been a nice diversion and we certainly have the time to give him all of the extra attention and training he seems to love. Welcome home Chocolate, we are happy to have you!

A New Year’s checklist for dog owners

New year, new decade, fresh start.

Each new year, I like to reflect back on the past few months and set goals for the next few months. This year, I seem to be finding things all around me that I want to go through, reorganize, purge and clean out. I think it’s the added drama of a new decade that has me feeling so energized. Since the dogs are a huge part of our household, I wanted to create an organizational punch list dedicated to them to add to my New Year’s goals.A New Year's checklist for dog owners

1. Bath and groom. Everyone deserves a feel good in the new year and smelling fresh and clean is a great way kick things off.

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Bathtime for Winn

2. Go through the grooming tools.

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These belong to a friend who grooms a lot of dogs.

  • Wash the brushes and combs. Replace any with broken bristles or tines.
  • Send scissors out for sharpening and/or replace any that aren’t comfortable or work well.
  • Refill products that you like and work well for your dog, dispose of products that you don’t use.
  • Make a fresh batch of dry shampoo, two recipes that we use can be found here.

3. Is your house suddenly overun with toys? Sort and wash all of the dog toys. Donate extra toys to a local shelter, dispose of toys that are no longer in good condition.

4. Sort and wash beds, blankets and towels. Donate extras in good condition to a local shelter.

5. Review vaccination records for each dog. Make sure everything is up to date and mark the calendar for when each of them is due for their annual check-up and 6 month stool check.  Take a picture of the current vaccination certificate for each to keep in your phone. If required, renew pet licenses.

6. Review pet insurance policy, be aware of renewal date. Make any desired changes before policy renews for the year.

7. Go through your pet first aid kit. (I keep this one in the car.) Replace/refill any products that have been used or have expired. Insert current copies of vaccination records so that they are in hand if you have an out of town emergency.

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My first aid kit that is always in the car

8. Confirm that your contact information is correct with the pet I.D./chip company.

9. Take a look at collar I.D.’s. Replace any that are hard to read or have out dated phone numbers or information. Order extras if you change collars frequently or ID clips that make it easy to transfer tags from one collar to another. 

10. Set some new goals for you and your pets. Walk more, play more, try something new. There are so many options!

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Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

New Year, new friends!

On New Years Day, Maisie and I met a new friend at the dog park and had a wonderful time.IMG_3696Maisie has always had the attitude that everyone should be her friend. Most of the time, this is OK, but I’ve always been sensitive to her over-friendly ways and how they are received.

When we were going through our Therapy Dog training, the biggest challenge for her to overcome was to restrain herself when meeting new dogs and understanding that playtime doesn’t happen all the time. Fortunately, with lots of work and positive reinforcement, she was able to understand that she needs to wait for me to cue when it is OK to meet.

We continue to work on this…every time we encounter a dog.

One of my New Year goals with her is to start giving her more opportunities to run and play when it’s appropriate and to find doggie friends that are a good match for her.

Luna is definitely a good match for her!fullsizeoutput_306bShe is a sweet, young, energetic girl who was adopted from Newfoundland Rescue by a wonderful nearby family.  We have met a couple of times at events put on by our local Newfoundland Club but I always had Winn with me.  Winn is more reserved about who she wants to meet and play with, but I knew immediately after meeting Luna that Maisie would love her.

They ran, they bounced, they greeted a few other dogs and then ran off again together. It was perfect and we will be doing this again regularly. Maisie works so hard when we are visiting schools, she deserves some time when she doesn’t have to contain her exuberance!IMG_3686

 

a shared life with our very large dogs

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