The Adventures of Bitey Dog!

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Didn't They Talk About This in Animal Farm?

October 18th 2010 8:03 pm
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Yesterday, I was changing the linens on the bed. After I took the old sheets off the bed, I tossed them in the corner while I put the new ones on. Geordie was in the room with me, and as quickly as he could, he ran over to the sheets, arranged them in a nice bed, and went to sleep on them. A very sound sleep that I could barely rouse him from. Hmmm...what's next? Four legs good, but two legs better?


Geordie Names Things

May 11th 2012 4:47 pm
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Ever since Geordie was little, he liked to make up rules for things and then teach me about them. When it comes to his vocabulary, he is no different.

(I will preface this story by saying that I have taught Geordie to nod his head to answer a question with a "yes", and to turn his head to the side to mean "no". In this way, I can hold conversations with him by asking yes/no questions.)

Last night as I was cooking, Geordie kept squeaking and nudging me to let me know he wanted something. When I asked what he wanted, he pointed with his nose at the microwave. (He didn't realize that I hadn't heated anything up yet.) What made me laugh was his word for microwave. He thinks of it as a "Beep, beep, beep"!

I had told my Mom about some of Geordie's words before, and she asked me how I know what his words are. I explained how we go about those sorts of things. An easy example is soup. One evening, he wanted to taste the soup I was making. Wanting him to learn and respond to a word, I asked him, "Do you want some soup?" while pointing to the pot. If he would have nodded "yes", I would have given him a taste. He did nothing. So, I asked, "Do you want some broth?" Again, no response. Then I asked, "Would you like some chicken water?" (thinking to put together some words that I knew he was familiar with), and he gave me a big nod and got all excited. OK, Geordie's word for soup is chicken water! I used a similar process with the microwave. It is funny because I asked if he wanted "hot food" (He knows hot and cold), but he wouldn't say yes. He wanted food specifically from the microwave (or the Beep, beep, beep). He is such a funny guy. He decides these things and insists I learn from him. Of course, I wouldn't have him any other way!


On Flea Protection

July 27th 2012 2:58 pm
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Like many people, I used Sentinel to keep my dog safe from heartworms, fleas and other pests. After the temporary closing of the Novartis plant, I had to make a choice about which alternate product(s) I wanted my dog to use.

Ever since the commercial campaign started for Trifexis, I felt uncomfortable about the product. I got their pamphlet from the vet and read it cover to cover, including adverse effect that were reported in the back. Then, just for fun, I looked at reviews from ordinary people whose dogs weren't part of the test group. There was a significantly higher number of reported side effects with warnings from people that said things like, "If you love your dog, don't give him/her this pill!" A particularly nasty problem with the pills was painful sores on the dogs' backs. In general, I don't like to take new medications. I prefer to wait until more is known about them, so I decided to have the vet switch Geordie to Heartgard instead of Trifexis, which my vet was pushing.

Pushing is the word for it, too. I felt as if I had asked her to give up her firstborn instead of a simple prescription for a well-known and safe heartworm medication! (Long story short, I am now on my vet's Poopy List for bucking the trend.)

One reason I chose Sentinel for Geordie was that I didn't like the idea of the topical insecticides that you put on a dog's fur. I have a lot of chemical sensitivities, and I was afraid that I might have a reaction to it. At that point, it would be difficult to get it out of the carpet and off of any furniture where it may have touched. (Even though Geordie is not allowed on the furniture, I could transfer it there by touching him, then touching it.)

I read the Dogster article about using neem as an alternative to topical pesticides, and I looked at other sources as well. In the end, I chose a topical treatment that included neem, lemon grass, cedar and other aromatic oils. (For safe measure, I have diatomaceous earth, and I comb a little of that on his fur in case a bug gets on him.)

What I wanted to share was the happy side effect I have found from stopping using an internal flea protection for my little guy. For years, Geordie has had increasingly bad skin allergies. He would actually cry for me to use topical sprays on him to alleviate his misery. Since stopping Sentinel, his allergies have improved about 95%. Occasionally he will lick a paw, but that is normal. This isn't a scientific study, but if you like anecdotal stories, I will say that I have observed a marked improvement in my dog's allergies after stopping those pills. And how do the oils and DE work? So far, great! I was a little nervous when I first made the switch, but I am happy with the results. "What about the scent?" you may wonder. I have found that it dissipates in just a few minutes. It is strong enough to keep the bugs away, but I don't smell it on him.

In case you are considering making a change in your pet's prevention routine, let me encourage you to give it a try. If you are uncomfortable about the risk with ticks, there is a Lyme's Disease vaccine you can get for your dog. It is a once a year shot, and it is effective 99% of the time. I do this for my dog. He is good about telling me when there is a tick on his fur (he absolutely hates them), but in case one sneaks past us, he shouldn't get the disease.


The Joy of Unanswered Prayers

August 3rd 2012 10:59 pm
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After my elderly dog passed away years ago, I missed him terribly. I wanted a new companion, but I couldn't envision myself with anyone but him.

I used to imagine that I would wander into the pet store and find him as a puppy among the other pets. Maybe he wouldn't even look the same, but I would recognize the spark in his eyes that would tell me it was him.

Then, landlord be darned, I would take my little puppy home and give him a wonderful life! I would already know what he liked and disliked. I would make sure that we spent as much time playing as he wanted. This time, I would make his life perfect. (Not that he had it bad in the first place, but whenever you lose someone, you always wish you had done more.)

I never did find my little guy again, but many years later, I met the most wonderful pup in Geordie. His personality is completely different. His energy levels are high. His opinions are strong. Sometimes I hate to admit it, but I think Geordie might be even smarter. Imagine if I had gotten my way, I would never have met my new pup. Geordie has changed everything from how many people I know in the neighborhood to my business where I design pet costumes. Sometimes there is joy in unanswered prayers.


Happy Tails

August 6th 2012 8:20 pm
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A while ago, I read an article that said that dogs only wag at things that are alive or that they think are alive. (For instance, they may wag at a leaf blowing across the lawn if they think it is really a chipmunk.)

The other evening, Geordie was pestering me for a bite of my dinner, and I gave him a really long green bean that I had cooked. As soon as I lifted it out of the pot and moved it toward him, he started doing an excited, happy wag. It made me wonder, did he think of the green bean as alive? Or, were the scientists wrong, and dogs do wag when they are happy and anticipating something good?


It's Allergy Season!

September 27th 2012 3:47 pm
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A while ago, I wrote how by switching Geordie from Sentinel to Heartgard, I saw a marked improvement in his allergies. Well, Heartgard or no, it is definitely allergy season here!

I know we're not alone in this boat. It seems everyone I talk to complains of their dogs licking all night and suffering from lots of itchies. Poor Geordie is no exception. The little guy has spent the last 3 weeks rolling on his back in the grass or rubbing up against the furniture.

Finally, though, I think he has found a solution for his itching problem: he makes me scratch him. All the time. If I stop, he barks or whines or gives me Sad Puppy Eyes until I give in and start rubbing him again. I wouldn't mind that much, except that he insists in lying juuuust out of my reach so that I have to stretch in order to touch him. I'll insist that he come closer, but then he'll slither down and ooze across the floor until he is juuuust out of reach again.

I hate to wish my life away, but I am very anxious for first frost. I am hoping that whatever is blooming and making both him and me miserable will die so that we can have some relief.

Good luck to all of you dealing with pets with allergies. And, if you have any secrets for dealing with the itching, please feel free to share them with us!


Learning to Spin

November 2nd 2012 1:30 pm
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When I started teaching Geordie to spin, we hadn't learned to talk that well yet. To get him to spin, I used a toy and had him follow it in a tight circle. I would say "Spin", he would follow, then I would give him a reward. We practiced and practiced, but he wouldn't do the spin without the toy. One day, I finally got frustrated and threw my hands up and said, "Why won't you spin?" I was totally not expecting it, but he understood my question, and he answered me! He took his toy, shoved it into my hand and gestured that "Spin means follow the toy, doesn't it?" I gasped, "Ooooh!" with the accompanying look of comprehension on my face. From that moment on, he spun without the lure. I finally understood that he thought I wanted him to follow the toy, and he understood that I am an idiot. That was one of the first breakthroughs we had in talking. Now when I want to teach him a new trick, I can largely use English to explain what I want him to do. I will repeat myself once or twice so that he knows that I am teaching and to let him get used to the sound of the words.

He likes when we use words to play Find the Biscuit. I will hide one, then send him to go find it. He gives up early and asks me for hints and clues to where it is. The other day, I learned more about how he understands my words. I told him to make a left turn, and he did, but he thought I meant that the food would be right there. I learned to tell him, "Left turn. Walk, walk." So, he turned, then took two steps and then found the biscuit. He is such a little smarty!


Geordie and the Christmas Presents

December 15th 2012 4:28 pm
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In previous years, I would wrap Geordie's Christmas presents and hide them in a closet, saving them for the holiday. This year, his joined everyone else's under the tree as part of the decorations. I figured they would be safe because he is very good at leaving things alone that aren't his.

Yesterday, however, when I was busy doing something else, Geordie got into the Christmas presents but good. He used his claw to tear each one open enough to stick his nose in and check it out. He kept opening until he found one for himself. Then he unwrapped it and played with it. By today, his new stuffed puppy has been ripped in half, the squeaker torn out, and his ears pulled off. Hey, at least someone is having a good time at Christmas!

(I could picture him thinking, as he opened each gift: "This one is too hard. This one is too soft. But this one is juuust right!")


Geordie and the Toy Puppy

December 20th 2012 2:43 pm
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Oh goodness, I have to tell you my Geordie story from last night! Since it has been raining, Geordie has a touch of cabin fever. Last night, he didn't want to go to bed but wanted to run around and play with toys. We chased one after another, and he chewed on a few. At one point, I reached into his toy box and took out Brown Puppy. I may have mentioned this toy before. I am partial to it, and Geordie knows it. When he really wants me to play with him, he will bring me that one as a lure. So, I took out Brown Puppy and I made him wag his tail and do a few tricks. I held him close and scratched his ears. Geordie hates the trick, "smile". I try to get him to smile, but he won't, so I touch his whiskers and it makes his lips draw back. Anyway, this toy puppy has a big grin on his face, and I showed Geordie Puppy's big "smile". That made him angry. Later, I was trying to convince Geordie to go to bed, so I showed him how Puppy was going to bed. I brought the toy into the bedroom and set it on my sweatshirt. I thought that maybe Geordie would curl up next to the toy and sleep. What did he do, though? As soon as he saw the puppy on "his" bed, he stomped into the bedroom, grabbed the puppy, dragged it into the hallway and threw it on the ground! He always gets jealous when I show any attention to the toy, but he usually doesn't evict it from the room! I was laughing sooo hard on the inside, but I didn't want him to know I was laughing at him. You know how self-conscious dogs can be when they know you are laughing at them!


A Corrupting Influence

January 7th 2013 3:22 pm
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Last year a one of our neighbors adopted a shepherd dog. He is a very handsome, very good dog and would sit watching the family, not barking or jumping or acting up. Whenever Geordie would go out and see him, Geordie would do his loud, trash-talk bark to let the shepherd know he was there. The shepherd would simply sit and ignore him.

After Christmas when it snowed, the first thing Geordie did was run outside and start calling for the shepherd to come and play. The other dog wasn't outside, but Geordie kept calling and calling. Now, whenever Geordie goes outside and the shepherd is out too, the other dog jumps and barks and greets Geordie. Oh dear, my boy has corrupted the nicest dog in the neighborhood! (I know who won't be sending us a Christmas card next year.)

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