10 random facts about us that might surprise you

  1. We have never purchased a dog bed. Really. Never.  I cut Yun’s old college comforter into 4 quarters and sewed up the sides. Two of the pieces go into each of the crates. The other two pieces are scattered around our home to be used as dog beds.
  2. We don’t celebrate our dogs’ birthdays. We acknowledge that it is their birthday (see here, here, and here), but other than that, we don’t celebrate it.
  3. Each dog has one martingale collar/leash set and one additional collar that stays on at all times. And we have one extra leash, which we bought when we first got Loki as a puppy. (This extra leash has proven to be very useful as a temporary replacement for all the times that Jujube has chewed up her leash.)  Other than that, we don’t have any more collars or leashes.
  4. We’ve never made our own doggie biscuits or treats.
  5. We’ve never taken either of our dogs to the dog groomer.
  6. We haven’t bought a dog toy in over a year.
  7. We don’t spell out words, like W-A-L-K. Instead, the dogs have learned to understand the word “Sorry.”
  8. The dogs’ medical records are more organized and complete than ours.
  9. We have a one way doggie door.  (Actually, it’s just a regular door. Jujube figured out how to push it open to let herself back inside the house, and Loki followed suit.)
  10. The dogs are welcome to accompany us when we’re in the bathroom.

Seasons Greetings!

From our family to yours --

We wish you a happy and safe holiday season!

So sweet

One of the best things that I love about Juju is that she accompanies me around the house when I'm suffering from insomnia in the middle of the night.  The neighborhood is quiet.  The house is quiet.  My husband's asleep in bed.  Loki is asleep in the crate. 

And Jujube gets up out of bed to be my companion.  If I go get something to eat or drink, she's with me in the kitchen.  If I go to my laptop, she's resting in the nearest corner.  If I go read a book, she's right there with me once again.

I suppose that many dogs display this sort of clingy behavior, but shibas tend to be more independent.  Loki certainly doesn't bother to follow us around like a shadow.  Normally, both Yun and I like their independent nature.  But then, there are times like these, when I've haven't been able to fall asleep for over an hour, and Jujube's close companionship is very much appreciated.

Jujube, the Overseer

Jujube oversees the driveway snow shoveling effort and makes sure that it is up to her high standards.

More snow...

I think our tree is going to break... or die...

And here's Juju, enjoying the peaceful scenery. I don't get it... isn't it cold? Somehow she seems to like the cold.

Lots of snow!

It's only Saturday morning, and it is forecasted to snow all day long.  The snow's already too deep for the pups to venture out too far in our little backyard.  Jujube tried, but failed to get very far.  She wanted to poop farther back, but ended up going where the snow wasn't as deep.  At least she went.

You can see in this picture below that there's barely an inch in the foreground.  That's because we have a deck above to catch most of the snowfall.


Some updates

Here are some updates on the two pups:
  • Taking Loki to the vet to get his nails trimmed has been working out very well for us.  This has seemed to help some of his behavior issues.  He's much more comfortable with us playing with his feet.  The only downside is that it's an additional expense of $18 a visit.  Not terribly expensive, but more expensive than a groomer.  And we don't think that the vet does a great job of really getting those nails down as far as possible.  Maybe they don't want to risk cutting it too close, or maybe they just want us to come back more frequently.

  • Jujube's allergies seemed to get better for awhile after we switched her to fish.  But then  recently, we noticed that she started scratching up a storm.  Yun thinks this is because she ate turkey.  Does being allergic to chicken mean you're also allergic to turkey?  I don't know, but it seems plausible.

  • Other than the scratching, Jujube's been perfectly fine.  No problematic turkey bones in her system.  No infection from the cut from the fight.

  • Complete potty training has resumed.  We've been back to normal for a few weeks now.  No more accidents.  Yay!

Temporary Solution

This is our temporary solution to Juju's garbage misadventures:

Looks lovely doesn't it? We'll probably look into buying a step-style trash can with a lid on it later on as a more permanent solution.  We did try blocking the trash with some obstacles, but that didn't deter Jujube.  So far, this looks like it's working.

Hachiko straight to DVD

I just got word from shiba Dogster forums that Hachiko will not be coming to theaters on December 18th, but instead will be released on DVD in early 2010. I've been wondering why there hadn't been any publicity about this movie. I wasn't planning on watching it in theaters anyways, so from that standpoint, I'm not disappointed. I prefer watching movies at home with the comfort of my two dogs, who wait patiently for me to drop popcorn out of my uncoordinated hands.

Dumpster Diving Doggie Style

After a full day of work, this is what we came home to:

I guess after the turkey, Jujube has trained herself to go through our garbage.  Now what do we do?  Does this mean we can't throw any food garbage in our garbage?  Yun thinks that we can somehow block it off from her.  I'm not as optimistic.

Random Shiba Links

I've followed the blog Rowdy Rover for a long time, but recently I've been absolutely smitten!  This shiba breeder now has puppies, and we all know shiba puppies are the cutest!!!  Here's one of my favorite pictures:

In addition to chronicling the lives of my two pups, I'm also going to start sharing "Random Shiba Links" on this blog. I hope you enjoy!

Yet another leash

We're now going for ... not our first... not our second... but our third leash replacement!  I have to say, I've been extremely happy with the lifetime guarantee offered by Lupine.  It's so easy!  I just ship them the old leash with a note telling them my address, and then they very promptly send me a replacement.  I pay less than $2 to ship the old chewed up leash back to them.  I highly recommend Lupine!  (I feel obligated to give them some free advertising, since this is our third replacement.)  You can also buy Lupine products through the Midwest Shiba Inu Rescue shop.

"Why so much chewing?" you might ask.

Well, Jujube isn't much of a puller.  She might give you a couple tugs to indicate where she wants to go, but she won't really pull much.  Instead, she'll start chewing on the leash.  So if you're not paying attention to her, and not headed in the direction she wants to go in, then she'll be secretly and patiently working her way to freedom.  She also has the bad habit of immediately chewing on her leash as soon as it is put on her.  What can I say?  The girl likes her freedom.


This past weekend, we finished our Thanksgiving leftovers, and tossed the turkey carcass into the garbage. Our kitchen trash can has a top on it, so we've never been concerned about the dogs getting into the garbage. Well, never underestimate a shiba, especially a shiba named Jujube.

Yun and I were upstairs putting together our new Ikea closet system when we heard some noises. Loki was with us, but Jujube was nowhere in sight. Uh oh, if Juju isn't nearby, then she's up to no good. We came downstairs to this sight.

How in the world, did she get the turkey out of the trash without knocking the whole can over? It's a typical tall kitchen trash can. Maybe 2.5 ft. tall? Practically none of the other trash was taken out -- just the turkey and some pieces of paper towel.

Well, I've been very worried these past couple of days about whether Jujube ingested any bones. Turkey bones are particularly bad for dogs because of splintering. They can cause lots of damage. So far, she appears to be acting completely normal. She's full of energy. She still wags her tail lots. She still prances around and dances in circles before all her meals. She still gobbles all her food up very quickly. The only thing is that she has had some diarrhea. But everything else seems fine.

Well, I'll keep my eye on her for the next couple of days. Hopefully there was enough leftover meat on that carcass (yes, we were a bit wasteful) so that she went for the meat first rather than bone. And hopefully, she didn't have too much time alone with that carcass before we found out.

By the way, this act, which was clearly all Jujube's doing, now confirms the our suspicions that she was the culprit in the apple pie mystery.

Video of the First Snow of the Season!

Video of the pups enjoying the first snowfall of the season. Loki is the one who keeps on digging and offering play bows. It's so much fun to watch them enjoy themselves!

First Snow of the Season!

Loki Digging!

Loki in a Play Bow!

What a pretty boy!

Where's my girl? 
There she is!

What kind of sleeping spot is that!?

Last night, Loki slept in a crate as usual, and Jujube hopped on the bed as usual.

But where does she decide to settle down??

On my foot! Not near my foot. Not leaning against my foot. Right smack on top of it. What kind of sleeping spot is that? Does she not notice that my foot is there? It can't be comfortable! The entire other half of the bed is completely empty! (Yun comes to bed later than me.) Of all places to circle and plop, she decides my foot is the best place?

A doggie stressful weekend

What a weekend! Lots of yummy food and good company, but full of doggie stress. We had not one, but two incidents!

My family came over for Thanksgiving. The family was nice. All of the food was super yummy. Thank you to my lovely, non-stressed cook, Yun! I especially liked the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. The dogs got some scraps of turkey from the table. We were all very happy on Turkey Day!

Incident Number One: Loki bit my sister.

So, maybe this is going to sound bad, like I'm a terrible owner or person, but I'm not the least bit sorry that Loki bit my sister. For years (or as long as we've had Loki), I've been warning her to be careful with him, and she never listens to me. She had always carried around this idea that she's special, that Loki won't bite her because he loves her, that Loki has never bitten her before, so she doesn't need to be careful. To be fair, he does love her. She's great with him. She gives him lots of doting attention. But she also discards our warnings, even after I've told her about how he's bitten us in the past. Somehow it didn't matter to her that he's bitten us before, because in her mind she was special.

So what happened? Loki was sleeping in the corner while our family was playing Scrabble. When it was not her turn to play, my sister went over to the sleeping Loki and tried to pet him with her foot. Now, I don't know about you, but a big giant foot hovering over me while I'm sleeping seems pretty threatening. Sure you could do that to Jujube, and she wouldn't care. But definitely not Loki. He bit her foot.

No one was upset over it. I think Loki was a bit stressed, but we all left him alone. It wasn't his fault. I hope next time my sister will heed my warnings.

Incident Number Two. The dogs got into a fight.

This fight was over rawhide. They have both amicably eaten rawhide together many times before, so we were not supervising them particularly closely. Jujube finished hers first, and we think that she must have went for Loki's. No one was there when it started, so we can only guess as to what happened. I asked Yun, "Why do you think Juju that actually went for his rawhide? I mean, she could have just gotten too close to him as he was eating?"

His reply, "Because after I broke up the fight, she picked up his rawhide." (Of course, Yun took it away from her.)

The scene looked worse than it was. We had blood splattered over Loki and on the carpet. But where was it coming from? This question took a very long time to figure out. The fact that it took us so long to figure out where it was coming from goes to show how small the cut was. We must have looked Jujube over three times before Yun noticed that it was her nose. Actually, it was the area where the side of her nose meets her furry face. We cleaned it up and Yun applied a little bit of pressure there to stop the bleeding. It stopped shortly. Without the blood, you can't even tell that she was hurt at all.

Trying to assess Loki was a much bigger ordeal. We had to first muzzle him. Then one of us held him down while the other looked him over. He was not a happy camper. We cleaned off the blood on his fur, and tried to figure out if he was hurt. Nope, not hurt! It was just Juju's blood on his fur.

In a matter of hours, I went from "OMG, we have to go to the emergency vet!" to "Oh, you know, I don't think we need to go to the vet at all." Today I called the vet to ask about the risk of infection. They told me to just keep my eye out for any signs of infection, such as puss or swelling. If there are signs, then bring Juju in. If not, then don't worry.

The dogs were mostly back to normal within an hour. I fed them dinner together as I always do. They were fine and mostly acting normally. Dogs are resilient. Juju's extremely resilient. Loki's less resilient than Juju, but I can't imagine anything or anyone being as resilient than Juju. We left Loki alone for the rest of the night. We didn't want to add anything else to his stress level. If the fight didn't traumatize him, the body assessment with muzzle definitely did.

Although we still think Loki is alpha (and still support him in that role), Juju going after his rawhide seems like an alpha thing to do. Don't you think? I actually don't think that she will contend him for alpha status; I think that she's just an opportunist. If Loki left his rawhide unguarded for a second, she'd go for it.

Lesson learned: Supervise very carefully when giving rawhides.

Our last dog fight was in July. This one's at the end of November. And the behaviorist came back in May. It's not a bad track record. It's not perfect, but it definitely shows improvement.

Shiba Meetup at the Dog Park

We had a shiba meetup this past weekend at Shirlington Dog Park. This place always seems to generate the best turnouts for our meetups. I don't know how many dogs showed up, but we had 15 people with an RSVP of yes. We had many reds and sesames. Only a couple black and tans. And no creams.

Unfortunately, I can't figure out who's who in these pictures.

At least I can identify my own dog. Here's Jujube soaking up attention from the people. She's more of a people dog. Sometimes she participates in the dog chasing, but most of the time, she seeks the attention of humans. The funny thing is that petting is always on her terms. She'll demand attention from some people, and ignore others who call for her to come.

Shiba meetups are great places for people who are considering the breed. You can see their behavior in person and ask owners questions. It's striking to see how different shibas can be. Surely, you can read about common characteristics of shibas online or in books, but each dog is unique. And in a meetup you can see both their commonalities and their unique traits.

At our meetup, I saw the shiba that loved to be chased. The shibas that loved to chase. The shibas that love to wrestle. The shibas that are mellow. The shibas that stick to people. The shibas who ignore people. The shibas that are anxious and the shibas that are fearless.

Potty training regression

Grr... I'm so frustrated! Our potty training has taken a huge step backward ever since we got back from vacation. The dogs (probably just Jujube) were not used to the new schedule of the pet sitter. We had the sitter come three times a day, but her schedule was still different from ours. We found accidents in our home in a low traffic area. No one ever seems to check that spot.

I'm not actually frustrated over the accidents themselves, but rather frustrated because the behavior has continued this past week. I thought once we resumed our regular schedule things would be fine, but unfortunately not. The peeing is continuing in the same spot. I had cleaned it as well as I could and sprayed it down with Nature's Miracle, but we're still getting accidents there.

On top of that, after I had cleaned that spot down, I tossed the soiled paper towels into the low and open wastebasket in the bathroom. A few days later, Yun tells me that Loki marked the wastebasket. It couldn't have been Jujube; she's a girl. And even though we're having a handful of potty problems, we both think it's really funny that Loki marked the wastebasket in the bathroom.

Can you see the yellow dribble?

The dogs were doing so well for such a long time too. Our last accident was in mid-June. Now, I think we have to re-potty train them, especially Jujube. Her peeing habits have also changed. She used to always pee very quickly as soon as we let her out into the backyard. Now, she's adopted Loki's behavior of sitting outside and not doing anything. She also pees on walks much more regularly nowadays. She used to never pee during walks, preferring to go in the backyard. Actually, I guess the more I think about it, her potty habits are slowly changing into Loki's.


A few weeks ago, National Geographic sent me a copy of DogTown: Tales of Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Redemption to read and review. I had never actually seen the TV show, Dogtown, before, but nevertheless agreed to review their book. So here we go!

The book Dogtown is a collection of stories about resuced dogs at Dogtown, the canine part of Best Friends Animal Society, which they claim is the largest no-kill animal shelter in the world. Each chapter tells the story of at least one dog and the opening chapter features one of Michael Vick's dogs. The book does a good job of selecting a variety of stories, and this variety helps keep the book interesting. Some dogs are painfully shy. Others are aggressive. Some were found wandering the streets. Others were turned in. Many have an unknown history, but surprisingly some have a completely known history.

In addition to the dog stories, the book also features the staff members who work at Dogtown. The staff members write in the own words about what particular dogs affected their lives and how they came to work at Dogtown. The book also touches upon both the adopters and volunteers of Dogtown. I found it quite interesting to learn that there are a number of people who come to Dogtown for a volunteer vacation. What an interesting way to spend a vacation!

Because this book is a collection of short stories, it is easy to read in short increments of time. If you want to read for just ten minutes right before bed every night, then this is the perfect book. You can quickly read a complete story and then put the book down until next time. It's easy to pick up and put down at your convenience.

As I mentioned before, I haven't seen the TV show, so I don't know how the book compares to the show. My guess is that the stories in the book parallel the stories on TV. Some of the dogs mentioned in the book ended up being adopted after they were featured on the TV show.

This book is an enjoyable, heartwarming, light read. And it also makes a nice holiday gift for dog lovers.

Coming Soon: Hachiko!

I'm eagerly awaiting the release of Hachiko: A Dog's Story. With a US release date of December 18, 2009, it's now less than a month away! The movie is about an akita, but the film makers used shibas to play the puppy version of the akita dog. The official movie website is pretty sparse, and I haven't heard much buzz about it. I'm hoping that the release will be large enough, so that I can find it easily in theaters. Otherwise, I'll have to wait until the DVD release.

Here's the Japanese poster:

Here's the US Trailer:

Based on information from the Shiba List-Serv, I learned that some of the shibas used in the movie are bred from River Wind Shibas and Copperdots.

Edit:  If you are considering adding either an akita or shiba to your family, please do your research. They are not suitable for everyone. According to a poll of over 100 shiba owners, 77% of shiba owners believe that shibas are not good for first-time dog owners. On my blog, I reveal some of the harsher realities of owning Loki and Jujube.

For more information about shibas, please visit The National Shiba Club of America.
For more information about akitas, please visit The National Akita Club of America.

A Frantic Juju

This morning began as usual. Fed the dogs. Let Juju into the backyard to do her business, because she goes really quickly. Loki doesn't get to be let out into the backyard, because he will sit outside for hours and not do a thing. (Loki must wait until Yun wakes up to take him out on leash.)

I see Juju pooping, so I grab my shoes from the garage so that I can go pick up after her. (We used to have flip flops conveniently set out in the backyard, but they got chewed up.) She frantically pushes open the door and runs around our basement like a frantic lunatic.

"What's wrong? Juju, what's wrong?" I ask her as if she could respond.

Ah, she had poop dangling from her butt. Luckily, this happened to Jujube and not Loki, since Loki would probably have biten me if I tried to help him. As soon as I could catch her (which isn't an easy feat), I wiped her with a tissue and let her back outside, where she finished her business.

All this craziness and I still made my morning train on time.

Returning home

When you have dogs, you always have something to look forward to upon returning home from vacation. Now that we are back, Loki can resume his regularly scheduled peaceful sleeping.

I was very anxious about my dogs, especially the first day of vacation. I called our pet sitter as soon as we landed in Hawaii to ask if everything was okay. Of course it was. I originally thought I'd end up calling her everyday, but it turned out that I only called her that one time.

As a testament to my anxiety, I did dream about them during vacation. I dreamed that when I returned home from vacation, both of my red shibas turned into black and tan shibas. I didn't know dogs could change colors, but apparently they can in my dreams.


For the first time since we've moved out to the east coast, we're going away on vacation and will have to leave our dogs behind. When we lived in California, we simply dropped Loki off at his breeder's. This gave us great comfort. Not only was our breeder obviously familiar with the breed and dogs, but she also had some emotional attachment to Loki. Now on the east coast, we don't have her as an option. And we are noticeably more anxious about leaving them behind.

Our first and best solution was to have my sister house sit for us, but unfortunately, she has a life. Our second solution, which was what we decided upon, was to hire our dog sitter. We had hired her from time to time for just mid-day trips. This is the first time we'll be using her for a vacation. She'll be coming three times a day for them. I think that keeping them at home is better than kenneling them, but they will be dreadfully lacking in human companionship. Poor pups. As a testament to my anxiety, I wrote up a two page document detailing all my instructions for the dogs. I had already told her all of that information in person, but I wrote it all up anyways.

I hope they will be okay without us for a week.

No more apple pie

On Saturday, we invited a couple to watch the Michigan v. Illinois football game with us. They brought a beautiful and delicious apple pie, homemade from apples that they picked themselves. Yummy!

On Sunday, about a quarter of the remaining pie was sitting on the table. We left to go grocery shopping, and when we returned...
...there was no more apple pie.

Allergy Evidence

Juju is apparently still having allergy issues. She has these tiny scabs in a bunch of places. Now that she's shedding, the scabs come off with her fur.

We don't know what's causing her allergies. We originally guessed that it was chicken. But she has now been on fish for the past few weeks, and her condition isn't improving. It's possible that she has seasonal allergies. I know that we definitely did not see this the last time she shed in the spring. I'm afraid to furminate her this time around, because doing so will pull out all these scabs. And that seems like it would definitely hurt her.

Poor Jujube.

Jujube's Sleeping Places

Jujube resting on our bed:

And here she is under our dining room table:


The problem with some visitors

Being social and having lots of visitors has been great for Loki. As I previously reported, he's now really wonderful and friendly with all our human guests. The dogs are great. They aren't the problem. Sometimes it's the visitors who are the problem.

This past weekend, we had a very upsetting incident, when one of our visitors left the front door open for too long and Jujube escaped. I was upstairs in the bedroom at the time. I looked out the window just to to see her bolt across the street and out of sight. We live in a townhouse community, so the street she crossed is residential and fairly safe. But there is only a short a brick wall that separates our townhouse community from a very busy street with a speed limit of 45 mph.

Jujube ran past the townhouse buildings across the street from us. To me, it felt like she was gone was forever. But I suppose in reality it must not have been that long, for by the time I got dressed and put my sneakers on, someone already had scooped her up and she was on her way back to us.

Needless to say, I was furious at this visitor's carelessness, and greatly upset by the whole incident. Dogs are simple. Humans on the other hand can be so difficult.

Adventures in Uncrating

In the dead of the night during one of our early days with Jujube, sometime between last January and April, Loki and Jujube got into a fight. Both Yun and I were sound asleep when it happened. Since that incident, we kept both of them crated at night.

We put Loki in the wire crate and Jujube in the plastic one.

Now, because the two of them have been behaving pretty well (only one fight) since we hired our behaviorist in May, I figured that they have displayed sufficient good behavior to warrant trials in being uncrated at night.

Jujube always sleeps in our bed. Always. There's no keeping her off of the bed. She's very persistent. Even if you constantly tell her to get off, she'll sneak back on after you've gone to sleep. Loki, on the other hand, sleeps everywhere. Sometimes, he'll sleep in his crate:

Sometimes he'll sleep in Jujube's crate:

Sometimes he'll sleep on the bed:

Apparently he thinks all sleeping spots belong to him.

Most nights, Jujube sleeps in between Yun and me by our feet, and Loki picks one of the two crates to sleep in. Loki only sleeps in the bed if one of us humans isn't there to claim our spot. He doesn't join the crowd if there are two humans and a dog already on the bed.

In the past couple days, I have been sick, and spent most of my day in bed. Just me and two dogs: one on each side of me. This has given me greater insight into the world of my two dogs. If Jujube is on the bed first, then there are no issues with Loki getting in bed. However, if Loki is on the bed first, then he sometimes growls at her when she tries to jump on the bed. Ah, but like I said before, Juju is very persistent. She will not be deterred from getting in bed. What does our smart little lady do when Loki growls? She climbs into bed under the covers. Yes, she uses her muzzle and burrows her way onto the bed. Once she settles down, no one would ever know she was there. Amazingly, her technique works! Loki's not smart enough to figure out her sneaky antics.

Lastly, here's a picture of our peaceful pair:

Impossible to find poop

Autumn + rain = many falling leaves

So it's really, really, really hard to find poop to pick up in our little backyard.

Thoughts on redirected aggression

One type of aggression in dogs that is often misunderstood and puzzling is redirected aggression. This occurs when a dog redirects his aggression from one source to another. We see this during our leashed walks when Loki barks and lunges at certain neighboring dogs. Because he is unable to reach that dog, he redirects his aggression to Jujube. Fortunately, he doesn’t bite her, but he does lunge and bark in her face. She puts up with it and doesn’t react.

I can’t say that I know much about how to deal with it other than managing each occurrence individually. Since the two of them are both on leash, it’s not terribly difficult to hold them back. Then, I just keep moving forward to try to get his attention on something else. I don’t linger around the source of his aggression. I hope this approach is good enough, because I’m not quite sure what to do if his behavior became more severe.

Although it seems like an odd sort of behavior, I can’t help but to relate it to humans. Humans display redirected aggression all the time. This is what happens when one person “takes it out” on another. After suffering from a bad day at work, some adults come home and take it out on their family members. It can range from just being snappier to being abusive. Interesting parallel, isn’t it?


In the past couple of weeks, when we've pet Jujube, we've noticed some bumps. And when we try to dig through her incredibly thick coat, we come up with little tiny black bumps. They looked like dried blood, in other words, scabs.

At first we wondered if Loki and Juju have been getting into fights while we were away at work, and so she had scabs from that. But the bumps were all over her body in places that didn't make sense for any bite marks. Yun thought that maybe she'd been scratching herself so hard to break skin. But why would she do that?

To help solve the mystery, we took her to the vet this past weekend. It turns out that she has allergies, and she must have been scratching hard enough to break skin. The vet explained that when humans have allergies it often manifests as sneezing and watery eyes, but for dogs, it almost always manifests itself on the skin. We don't know what she has allergies from. The vet said it could be seasonal or it could be food. We don't know what it is, but we did have her on California Natural chicken. Prior to that we went through a bag of fish and a bag of lamb. Yun says this was the first time that she was on chicken with us. I frankly don't remember. So now we got a bag of fish just for her. Loki's fine on the chicken, so we're keeping him on that. The vet also gave us some medication for her. This is our first experience in dealing with dog allergies. I hope that it's the chicken and not something else. We'll see what happens in a few weeks. Hopefully, she'll get better.

Crate Marks

What is that? Do you see it? Loki has these four vertical marks on his side.

What is that?
They are crate marks! He slept in his crate and must have leaned up against the side of his crate. (We didn't even close the crate; he just voluntarily chooses to sleep in there.)

But why these marks?
Ah, because we gave him a bath last night and he must have slept against the side of the crate while still wet.

My poopy memory

I thought my memory was bad, but this takes the cake

6:30 pm    Arrive home

6:35 pm    Take dogs out for a walk so that they can do their business. Remembers that Loki didn’t poop this morning, so we stay out longer than usual so that he has ample opportunity to poop.

7:20 pm    Return home

7:30 pm    Feed dogs

7:40 pm    On the phone with Yun. About to tell him about how I’m furious at Loki for not pooping, but I didn’t get the chance.

8:30 pm    Dinner discussion with Yun about Loki not pooping. I know… it’s a wonderful topic of conversation for dinner.

8:33 pm    Then I say to Yun, “Oh wait… Loki did poop. We went on a walk. I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for him to poop. And finally he did poop! But then I forgot that he pooped and was mad at him all evening for not pooping.”

A real fox

This is what a real fox looks like. Not quite the same as a shiba, but still very cute.

At Cape May Zoo

Socialization with visitors

Since moving to the east coast and buying our own home, we’ve had both the pleasure and the pain of hosting A LOT of guests. This summer was so busy that I felt like we were running a bed and breakfast. Once I even had to ask my sister to strip the linens off the bed and stick them in the washing machine as she left, because another guest was arriving that evening and I had no time to do the wash myself.

From the beginning of June through the end of August, we had:

7 friends
3 from my side of the family
+ 3 from Yun’s side of the family
Total: 13 unique out-of-town visitors

To be accurate, 2 out of the 13 did not actually stay overnight, but the remaining 11 did. And a few of them visited multiple times.

The benefit in this overkill of visitors is that Loki and Jujube are now both very well-accustomed to visitors in our home. Loki still is our guard dog in the sense that lets me know when people are arriving, but he’s quite friendly and loves our visitors. Sometimes, he gets so overly excited that he pees in the house. This is annoying to clean up, but for some reason, I also find it funny and endearing.

With so much socialization with human visitors, we have no problems now with service people or contractors who come to do work on the house. Still, sometimes we put the dogs away because not everyone loves dogs and they can get in the way.

I think in order to properly socialize your dogs to humans, you have to also be social. Back when we lived in California, we didn’t have nearly as many visitors, so it was much more difficult to get Loki accustomed to them. But now that we are more social, it seems that visitors are no longer a problem!

Actually, the biggest problem we have with visitors is Jujube’s sneaky ability to slip around all us and bolt out the front door. Luckily she’s never gotten too far, and usually wants to come back anyways to greet the visitor. But my gosh, she sure does love to bolt out that door.

Shiba Meetup: Hike at Great Falls

Our hike at Great Falls was a pretty good success. We had a total of 5 shibas.





And unfortunately, Jujube didn't get her own picture.

One interesting thing was that there was some sort of rescue or practice rescue operation being done at the time. So we got to see this helicopter come down very low into the gorge. Look! It made a rainbow with all the water it caused to splatter up.

All in all, it was a pretty good meetup.

The Dog Park

When we first got Loki, we made a concerted effort to socialize him. We took him to puppy socialization classes. We enrolled him in a basic obedience class. We took him to the dog park once a week.

He did fairly well at the dog park for about a year. And although he never did get used to dogs sniffing his butt, he was pretty well-behaved.

Then we had a couple of dog fights.

Afterwards, I made a concerted effort to slowly reintroduce him into the dog park by making use of the small dog area. I was fairly successful with that.

Then we moved across country. Our lives became busier, as I took on a full-time job. We weren’t able to take him to the dog park once a week anymore. He got to go once last fall, and that was about it. Then we got Jujube.

And now, Loki is no longer a well-socialized dog, at least not with other dogs. (He’s gotten much better with people and visitors, but that’s for another blog post.)

He can be aggressive on-leash as well as off-leash. It started very slowly and gradually increased. At first, I thought it was just with large, black dogs. Then one day while on-leash, he snapped at a small, black dog at a pet store. I thought, maybe it’s just all black dogs. A few months later, he snapped at a golden retriever. So maybe it’s not just black dogs. I don’t know what it is any more. He’s not reactive 100% of the time. He still has his good moments with some dogs, but the bad moments outweigh the good.

At this point in Loki’s life, I don’t think he can safely go to dog parks. My view is that, if Loki never gets to go to another dog park again for the rest of his life, that’s fine with me. He has Jujube for a companion. They might not cuddle with each other or be best of friends, but they definitely do wrestle with each other and run around like crazy together. My motivation for bringing him to the dog park was so that he’d have a chance to interact with his species. There’s nothing like watching dogs run and chase each other. It’s quite captivating. But now Loki has Jujube to interact with. Is it really necessary that he go to the dog park? Is this even a goal worth working towards?

Yun’s opinion differs from mine. I think Yun sees the situation as rather sad; he wants Loki to be able to go to the dog park. He thinks Loki needs to be exposed to dogs more, not less, and hence Loki should be brought to the dog park more often. Yun has been an advocate of trying to re-socialize Loki.

So, on Yun’s insistence and my reluctance, we attempted to take Loki to the local dog park a couple weekends ago. To start with some good news, Loki was very well-behaved with a couple dogs. One was a black, female Chihuahua -- at least I infer that she was female since she was decked out in pink clothing. Loki was very interested in her and didn’t mind her being in his face. Loki was also pretty good with a very calm, light-colored spaniel -- I’m not sure what type of spaniel it was.

But other than those two, he wasn’t good with any other dog. We did not get into any fights, but he snapped at a few dogs.

Loki doesn’t have issues with other dogs as long as they respect his personal space. He really starts to have issues if they sniff him up close by his muzzle. For the first few seconds, he’ll tense up. If the sniffing continues, which it almost always does, he starts to growl and show teeth. This will continue for a couple seconds. Then if the sniffing continues, he’ll take a snap.

The interesting observation that Yun made was that Loki does give ample warning before he snaps. He doesn’t snap immediately. There’s plenty of time for the other dog to back away. So my question is why doesn’t the other dog back away? Of all species, wouldn’t other dogs know how to read the warning signs?

For the dog park issue, I’ve basically given up. If he doesn’t get to go to the dog park, that’s fine by me. I do think it’s possible to re-socialize him, but that will take more time and effort than I’m willing to put in. The payoff isn’t worth it to me. The payoff isn’t interaction with other dogs. It’s the incremental interaction with other dogs on top of what he already gets with Jujube. So in my opinion, the costs outweigh the benefits.

And although I say I’ve given up, I am hoping to re-socialize him to some degree. Maybe not full-fledged off-leash socialization, but more controlled on-leash socialization. Our shiba meetup tomorrow is a hike. We are taking both Loki and Jujube. Hopefully, Loki will get to socialize with the other shibas while on-leash. The leash will give us better control, and allow him to walk with all the other dogs. The last time I tried a shiba meetup hike, I met up with only one other shiba and Loki was well-behaved the entire time. I’m anticipating more shibas this time, but I hope it will be a good experience for him.

Loki and Jujube running

Labor Day weekend was definitely a dogs' vacation at our home. They got to go to the park each day of the three-day weekend. We sniffed out two new parks near us, and what fun parks they both were! Lastly, we let them run free for a little while.

In the video, you can see that Loki's tail extended. It reminds me of a squirrel -- you know, squirrels use their tails to keep balance while they leap from tree to tree. Jujube always keeps her tail tightly curled. I just love seeing the joy on their faces when they get to run through nature.

Deshi Dishes with Jujube

Jujube was interviewed today by Deshi on the Deshi Dishes Series over on the Dogster Forums. I've copied the interview here to share with you.

My interview with Jujube - 951723:

Tell me a bit about your name and how you got it.

My full name is Kari-on’s Essence of Tenju. In my old home, they called me Essie. My new mommy picked out Jujube because it sounded fun. My daddy agreed because a Jujube is a red Chinese date. Red and sweet. Yep! That’s me!

Mostly, my pawrents call me Juju… doubling the last syllable of Tenju.

I read on your profile that you moved to your forever home when you were three years old. What was it like when you first moved in? Did you and Loki get along right away?

It was kind of scary when I first moved here. My new mommy and daddy were nice, but everything else was scary. The car ride was scary. Loki was a big mean bully, who didn’t want me touching any of his stuff. It took awhile before Loki and I got along. He still doesn’t like to share.

Do you have a favorite toy? If so, what is it?

My ultimate, favorite chew toy was Mommy’s underwear, but she was a meanie pie and took that away from me. Boo! Now my favorite toy sits on a high shelf. One of these days I’ll figure out how to get to it.

Tell me a bit about the place where you live. Your profile doesn't mention it all all. What is the scenery like and is the weather nice there?

I live in a nice three-story townhouse. There are lots of stairs, which is so much fun. I get to zoom past everyone on the stairs – Mommy, Daddy, and Loki are all slow-pokes. The weather here changes all the time; I don’t mind. Sometimes it’s hot and humid. Sometimes it’s rainy. And sometimes we even get a little bit of snow. Loki balks at the rain, but it’s all good to me. And I love the snow! So much fun to prance around in.

Have you ever been on a long road trip? If so, what did you think about it and where did you go?

Long road trips used to really stress me out. But after going to New Jersey a few times now, I learned that it’s not so bad. Once we get there, Loki and I get to bark at the cat and eat its food. That’s kind of fun.

Do you have any allergies?

Nope. Luckily, none for me.

What kind of food do you eat? Do you always eat all of your food or are you a picky eater?

I get California Natural. Sometimes I get chicken. Sometimes I get lamb. And sometimes I get fish. My pawrents like to switch it up. I inhale all of my food in thirty seconds flat. Better eat fast lest Loki steals my food. What’s there to be picky about? I’ll eat anything and everything. And no delicate chewing for me either. I could beat all the boys in an eating contest.

What is your favorite place to go for walks? Tell me a bit about it and what makes it so great.

I love being FREE. My favorite walk is any walk where I’m FREE. I try to get FREE as often as possible. Sometimes I escape out of the smallest crack in the front door, and sometimes I’ll gnaw on my leash to chew my way to freedom. If I’m really, really lucky Mommy will let me off-leash in a secluded, wooded area. That’s the best.

Do you like getting baths? What kind of shampoo are you bathed with?

Who likes getting baths? Of course I hate baths! I try to jump out of the bathtub as often as possible. Unfortunately, I get slathered in Oatmeal Shampoo. It smells yucky. I much prefer the smell of mud and dead animals.

Are you a very talkative shiba or are you a quiet girl?

I wouldn’t say that I’m a talkative shiba, but I do gently remind my Mommy with incessant whining when it’s time to feed me, and when it’s time to walk me, and when it’s time for me to pee, and when it’s time for her to wake up, and when it’s time for her to pet me. Sheesh, she’s so lazy!

Oh, and I’m the loudest belcher in my family. I bet I could win a burping contest among both humans and dogs.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with the dogs on the shiba forum?

It’s been lots of fun getting to know all of you pups on this forum. Smiles and tail wags to everyone!

My dog has had more life experience than me…

It occurred to me the other day that my dog has had more life experience than me. Before she was a part of our family, Jujube was bred. I’m not sure how many litters she had, but I think it was at least a couple. (Click here to see one of her pups.) Jujube’s already gone through the whole experience of motherhood, whereas I haven’t. She’s already given birth and gone through the experience of taking care of her helpless babies. She’s had her boobs tugged at, become completely misshapen, and then shrink back to normal. Although she had the help of humans through the process, she instinctively knew what she was supposed to do.

Will I know what I’m supposed to do with my own baby? I guess I’ll find out soon enough, but the uncertainty is slightly terrifying.

Fur Dent!

When Loki was a puppy, he had a fur dent. It was very apparent with his puppy coat. After his adult fur came in, he never had a fur dent again.

But Jujube keeps her tail so tightly curled all the time, that she does have a fur dent!

Shiba Meetup

The shiba meetup today was a success! We had a great turnout, though I'm not exactly sure how many shibas we had in total.

We've got 7 shibas alone in this picture below.

Curly tail!

We even had one long-haired shiba, named Mortimer. I had never seen a long-haired shiba in person. He was beautiful. I loved the fluffy face and big fluffy tail.

I stayed for about 40 minutes, because it started raining. At least it was nice and cool. Not too hot for an August day.

Here's a video of them running around:

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