Loki playing with his blanket

Here is about a two minute clip of Loki playing with his blanket.

Nine Weeks Old

At over nine weeks old, Loki is calmly chewing on a tree branch on our balcony. I have found that the toys that amuse him the most are the ones that are free - tree branches, rocks, grass, pine cones, and leaves. I can't wait for the day when he is fully vaccinated and we can let him explore the world of nature.
Let me tell you, pet photography sure is difficult. Dogs don't quite understand the idea of posing for a photo. Thus, I take many shots in hopes that one turns out well. Here we are in early morning, so the shadows are quite strong; I think that makes for some interesting photos. Also, a good zoom helps, as pets may get too curious about your camera when you are too close. And be sure to hold on to any cords or wrist straps! Loki loves to nip at any dangling string.

Here are some good tips on photographing pets:

Eight and a half weeks old

Isn't he the cutest thing you ever did see?

Misadventure #2: Escaping

Last Friday, I entered my apartment around noon and Loki was nowhere to be seen. To my shock, Loki was NOT in his exercise pen! Where could he be? I dropped everything in my hands at once. Then, the little puppy comes sauntering into the apartment from the balcony as happy as can be. What?! I called Yun immediately.

What happened? Did you put Loki in his pen this morning?
Yes. I definitely did.

Did you forget to close the balcony door?
Oh, maybe I might have forgotten to do that.

The door of the pen is still locked.
Oh, I guess Loki must have climbed out.

The exercise pen is two feet high and Loki is maybe a foot tall now. We did buy a top for it, but had kept it half open. We figured that he is still a puppy and couldn't climb out. We planned on closing the top when he got bigger. Luckily, Yun forgot to close the balcony door that morning, so Loki was able to go out there to pee and poop, both of which he did in the correct spot. Amazing!

Well, now we definitely keep the top closed when we leave him unattended.

Never underestimate a Shiba!

Twitching Hind Leg

Here is another video of our adorable puppy. Can he be any cuter???

String Play

Here's Loki trying to get at a string while being inside his cage. He eventually figures it out, but it's cute nonetheless.

A quick tip in dominance training

A very important part of puppy training is to assert your dominance as the pack leader. There are a few common exercises and one particular one I like to follow is to grasp Loki by the neck with a firm hand (much like a jaw), hold him down on his back and then relax him by massaging his underside. This is quite effective to teach him how to submit to the pack leader (you). However, there are times when he does get fiesty and fight back by thrashing back and forth. A good way to overcome this antic is to allow him to "flip" and quickly use his momentum to pin him to the other side. Usually he'll resist a few times, but he soon realizes that the only thing his efforts have accomplished is to switch which side is pinned down and thus he submits.

Housetraining Misadventure #1

When I initially asked about housetraining, my breeder replied that Shibas come housetrained. To be honest, I didn't really believe her. I've read three puppy books and numerous online resources about housetraining -- it takes some time and it's not easy! I was expecting to be taking Loki to eliminate every 2 hours and also expecting some accidents. Little did I know what I was in for.

In my first couple days with Loki, my housetraining experience was most unexpected and very stressful. Since he is only 8 weeks old, he has not yet received his full set of vaccinations. Because of this, it is a health risk to take him outside to eliminate as there are some very serious contagious diseases (such as Parvo, which can be deadly to a small pup). So, instead of him going all over the place like other breeds, my problem was that Loki refused to go both indoors and on the balcony. He only wanted to go outdoors.


Trial #1: Paper. I wanted to paper train him but he absolutely refused to go on the paper (the expensive commercial puppy pads kind). He wouldn't go in his exercise pen and he wouldn't go on the balcony. The first day home, he went 9 hours without eliminating at all. Finally, we gave in and took him outside. And as soon as he was taken outside, he both peed and pooped.

Trial #2: Paper with poop. Well, we didn't want to repeat going outdoors, so I took some of his poop to smear on the paper puppy pads that I put out on the balcony. That didn't work.

Trial #3: Gravel. We tried getting him to go on gravel outdoors, since most dogs go on grass, so gravel was probably safe from contagious diseases. That didn't work.

Trial #4: Pebbles. We went to Home Depot and bought a bunch of pebbles to put on our balcony. That didn't work.

Trial #5: Waiting. The only thing that worked was to wait Loki out. I kept feeding him every meal and giving him water right on schedule. He actually ate most of the meals and took the water. After one evening of relaxed play with Yun and I, he was walking back to his pen, stopped, and then peed on our carpet. Well, I guess the play relaxed him enough! Our feelings were mixed - although we were upset about the mess, we were happier that he finally went. After a couple more accidents, he made it to the balcony and now pees on the paper. As for poop, he sure put up a long fight. He held in his poop for over 24 hours while still eating all his meals. Finally, after an enormous amount of stressing (probably on both of us), he went on the pebbles on the balcony! I was so happy that I excessively praised him as he did his business. I think he probably saw this less as praise and more of a victory dance on my part. He made a really funny noise at me (it kind of reminds me of a seal call), as if to say, "Shut up!"

Trial #6: Sod. Before he successfully went on the pebbles, Yun and bought some sod from Home Depot to see if that might work. So far, the sod has really puzzled Loki. He doesn't get why there is grass on the balcony.


So, now Loki has this beautiful toilet area on our balcony. It's only been a few days and housetraining on a balcony is far from perfect, but we've made huge improvements. He has now peed on paper and pooped on the pebbles. The sod still confuses him. And as I type this up right now, he's on another poop strike.

Here's a hypothesis of why the paper didn't work. When I initially thought of the exercise pen, I thought it would make a great place for him to hang out if both Yun and I needed to be gone all day. So in one corner I put his bed, in another corner his food, and in another corner a puppy pad for him to eliminate on. However, Yun thought that Loki ended up associating the paper as part of his den. Going with this hypothesis, we've now taken that away the puppy pad from his exercise pen. So if there are other potential Shiba owners trying to paper train, I recommend that you don't put anything paper-like in or near his den.

First Day Home

Today was Loki's first day in his new home. He was pretty good during the entire 1.5 hour car ride home. Sometimes he was too hot (as were we... it was over 90 degrees outdoors during some parts of the ride), but for the most part he was really good and just napped. Within out apartment, he quickly figured out where his pen was and his bed. He loves his pen. It's his own safe haven, since he is still fairly timid about the new environment.

Nose licking! Yummy!

Foot eating! Even more yummy!

Ahh... at last... FOOD!

Tomorrow's the big day!

We get our puppy tomorrow! I'm so excited! Everything is ready... well, almost ready...

Here are some adorable pictures of Loki and his sisters at five weeks of age. Yun and I went to visit them at the breeder's place.

Is there anything cuter than a pile of puppies?

We took them outdoors. It was their first time outdoors and it was a bit cold and windy. So they all huddled together for warmth and also because they were confused about their new surroundings.

At five weeks of age, they didn't really have much of personalities nor did they explore at all. It was actually really funny because where ever you plopped them down, they just stayed there and didn't do much else.


Puppy stuff

We'll be able to take our puppy home in just 2 more days! I'm so excited! This week we bought all of our puppy stuff. We spent so much more than expected at PetSmart.

collar... leash... food... bowls... toys... treats... it sure adds up fast!

We also bought a puppy exercise pen. This will be Loki's home when we are not. It'll be sufficient for our puppy, but really quite small for humans. I tested it out, as you can see. I even tested out the door. It's really quite small, but I did make it through!

The Dog Whisperer

I love The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan! He is a wonderfully charismatic and fun dog psychologist.

His show comes on Friday nights on the National Geographic Channel. All the episodes are more or less the same:
(i) meet neurotic dog
(ii) meet Cesar, who fixes the problem
(iii) everyone lives happily ever after

However, despite the repetitive pattern of the show, I still love watching it. The dogs are always cute and it's satisfying to see them rehabilitate.

Cesar is not a dog trainer; he's a dog psychologist. In fact he spends most of his efforts training the humans rather than the dog. His methods are not without opposition, but anyone in the public eye always has dissenters. In any case, I believe in his methods, as do many other dog trainers in the world. (He didn't discover the methods, but is instrumental in publicizing it.) I am excited about learning to be a calm, assertive pack leader with my new puppy, especially since the Shiba Inu is one of the more dominant dog breeds.

The biggest benefit to truly learning these methods is that it lets one deal with any dog. Hence, it would allow more people to effectively deal with their dogs' behavioral problems and (in theory) lead to fewer euthanized dogs. Many of the dogs in Cesar's pack have had traumatic and abusive pasts; he can deal with all of them when no one else can. It is wonderful to see so many of them rehabilitated and living in peace with other canines. Perhaps the next dog Yun & I get (that is, after we are a bit more experienced in raising a dog), we will adopt one from an animal shelter.

(Funny isn't it that I'm thinking about our next dog, when we haven't even gotten our first one yet.)

Four Weeks Old

Pictures of the little pup at four weeks old. He looks so sad that it's cute. These pictures were taken on February 25, 2007.

Doesn't he look so sad?
A little bit bigger than before. Now he's held up by two hands instead of just one!

About Three Weeks Old

Here is our little puppy at about three weeks old. The pictures were taken by the breeder on Valentine's Day (February 14, 2007). Apparently, these little critters have a huge head to ear ratio.
"Ack! Put me down!"

"Okay, if I pose nicely for the picture, will you put me down?"

Born on January 24, 2007

Here are the puppies at only two days old with their beautiful mother, Nettie.

There were four puppies in the beginning - two girls and two boys. Sadly, the little runt didn't make it. Now there are two girls and one boy. And that remaining boy is our puppy, Loki.

Why a Shiba Inu?

To begin with, since we live in an apartment, we needed a small dog. The more I researched the Shiba Inu, the more I realized that this breed is exactly like Yun and me.

The AKC says that the temperament of the Shiba Inu is:
A spirited boldness, a good nature, and an unaffected forthrightness, which together yield dignity and natural beauty [dignity and natural beauty? Hmm... obviously like me]. The Shiba has an independent nature [independent? just like both Yun and me] and can be reserved toward strangers [definitely me!] but is loyal and affectionate to those who earn his respect. At times aggressive toward other dogs, the Shiba is always under the control of his handler. Any aggression toward handler or judge or any overt shyness must be severely penalized. [Hm... overt shyness must be severely penalized? no one warned me.]
The National Shiba Club of America says:
The Japanese have three words to describe the Shiba temperament. The first is "kan-i" which is bravery and boldness [boldness? That's Yun.] combined with composure and mental strength [Obviously, both of us.]. The opposite side of "kan-i" is "ryosei" which means good nature with a gentle disposition [Both of us to varying degrees. Personally, I think this fits me more so than Yun.]. One cannot exist without the other. The charming side of the Shiba is "sobuku" which is artlessness with a refined [refined? Me, me!] and open spirit. [open spirit? That's Yun.]

Then after seeing these beautiful creatures in person, our hearts were sold. Shiba Inus are the perfect breed for us.
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