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.
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