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.
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