The intrigue of the impeccably mannered London dog

Camden and Regent's Park area

This vicious, vicious guard dog at a pub in our neighborhood.

As I mentioned, we are living in London for the summer and the girls are enjoying summer camp at my parents’ house. (I don’t think they’re going to want to come home with us in August. They like it there more than their normal life with us, I think.)

Deprived of my two misbehaving monsters, I have become unaccountably dog crazy here in London, and I am particularly intrigued by the observation that 90%* of these city dogs are unbelievably well behaved. Like, stunning composure.

Field notes on the London dog

  • They spend a lot of time off leash in the giant, gorgeous parks. Most amazingly, to me, the vast majority of them exhibit almost NO interest in other people. I kept waiting, desperately, for an unmanned dog to come running up to me, seeking pets, but
  • Despite all this off-leash time in parks, I have yet to see a dog fight. I am sure they occur, but partly because the dogs get to be off leash, all of that leash tension is absent.
  • They exhibit a great degree of patience. Tethering dogs outside stores seems like common behavior here, and the dogs are amazingly self-controlled and quiet while they wait for their people. They also continue to show no interest in people walking past them (again, to my personal/selfish chagrin).
  • They are very quiet. Much like their British owners, I suppose, these London dogs have assumed that stiff upper lip and seem to always be full of decorum and composure.
  • Popular breeds, according to wholly anecdotal observation: Long-haired chihuahuas, border terriers, Jack Russell terriers, English cocker spaniels, long-haired dachshunds, French bulldogs, and miniature schnauzers. (I have seen exactly two Alsatians, both long-haired, and they were so beautiful I kind of wanted to cry. The trend for long-haired dogs seems quite pronounced here.)

I saw a French bulldog on the Tube the other day. His owner deposited him under her seat and he just put his head down and didn’t move for 15 minutes, until she told him it was time to get off. A marvel!

While walking in Hyde Park, this whippet and border terrier, below, were tearing around and playing with each other. They were so engaged that they actually collided with my husband’s legs but didn’t give him a moment’s thought.

Hyde Park and Kensington

(I have also never seen a whippet off leash before, in an unfenced area, so this was interesting. He did seem to be wearing some kind of shock collar, however.)

Along with making me miss my boorish American dogs, I continue to be enchanted by these London pups and their good manners. I keep wishing that we could have raised Pyrrha and Eden here, but I’m sure it has as much to do with the place as it does with the standards society sets for dog owners. For example: In London, you best have a well-behaved dog if you want to bring it out in public, else it disrupts the sanctity and composure of the urban space and brings shame on your good name. In America, caution to the wind! Let dogs be dogs. And don’t let anyone tell you what to do; land of the free, home of the brave, et hoc genus omne.

(*The sole example of a badly behaved dog I have seen was a leash-reactive miniature schnauzer outside our local pharmacy. He was straining on his leash, aggressively, toward a little cockapoo, and his middle-aged owner was yelling, “NICE! NICE! BE NICE!” Which was somewhat sadly/hilariously ineffective, of course. She let the schnauzer rush up to the cockapoo and in a split second, he tried to snap at the cockapoo’s face. She jerked him back on the leash and yelled, “BAD BOY! NOT NICE!” And they continued on their way. So, not every  London dog/dog owner is perfect.)

Hyde Park and Kensington

Have you observed dogs in other countries? What do you think? Are there cultural standards for dog raising? Is there any chance Pyrrha and Eden could one day be as polite as an English dog?

Still alive

Dog life in May 2015

Still living!

It’s been a long time since I last checked in, and although I don’t think I will take up the regular posting schedule that I once did, I may endeavor to write a bit now and then. Because I’m still obsessed with dogs. As much as I may pretend that I’m not.

What’s new with the pups since January 2015:

  • Eden’s itchiness reached desperate levels. She was scratching constantly and causing hot spots. After hundreds of dollars and a series of unhelpful tests (including a $300 allergen panel that came back saying she had no allergies whatsoever) and false diagnoses, it seems that she may just have environmental allergies. So, she’s now on a daily dose of Apoquel, and that seems to be helping her. Sigh. Makes me think about what I wrote about a while ago, musing on the misleading health of expensive purebreds versus sloppily bred/mutts.
  • On the whole, however, they are happy and fairly healthy. Pyrrha is now 5 and Eden turns 3 in July.
  • They are currently living with my parents for the summer, because my husband and I are living/working in London right now! We miss the dogs, but they are having a great time. I don’t think they miss us at all. Eden is getting lots of daily exercise with my dad (including Frisbee, morning runs, and rollerblading sessions), and Pyrrha is just happy to be with Dublin on a daily basis. We’re really grateful that they can have such a happy temporary home.

Not having them around right now makes me think about them more and about all of the training goals I have for them when we come back home at the beginning of August.

Three main things I want to work on:

  1. Eden developing some impulse control, especially at doorways and when greeting house guests.
  2. Pyrrha’s tendency to be the “fun police” with Eden and other dogs; specifically, her very annoying habit of explosive barking every morning and redirecting it at Eden when they are let out of their crates.
  3. Putting daily walks back in my schedule. I was good about this with Pyrrha, but I got lazy when we added Eden to the family, and having two leash-reactive German shepherds made me even less inclined to take them out on my own. And so it became a vicious cycle, in which I rarely walked them because of the reactivity and their reactivity never improved because I rarely walked them. Mea culpa!

More ideas on this later, but I have been doing lots of behavioral refresher readings during my lunch breaks in London. (Eileen and Dogs seems to always know what I want/need to read!)

Simultaneously falling asleep

Napping in synchrony.

What’s new with you and your pups?

Lacuna

The anxious one

Pyrrha, dear.

Just a friendly note to say that I may be taking some time off from Doggerel. Nothing is wrong; the dogs are still alive; I am not depressed. I just feel like I need to take a breather — and I feel like I’m running out of original, thoughtful content, which is never a great feeling.

So, this is just to say: Hello, I am thankful for all of you. We are not dead; we are grateful for you and your sweet comments and wise advice.

Expectant

That ring of mud on her nose, from illicit digging.

We’ll still be online via Instagram and Twitter.

Happy 2015! Love to you and your pups. Let’s talk again soon.

Review: Dogswell Chicken Breast Jerky

The girls were REALLY excited to sample these chicken jerky treats by Dogswell.

Doggerel | Dogswell Chicken Breast Jerky

Check out the tongue action and the tail blur!

Doggerel | Dogswell Chicken Breast Jerky

Doggerel | Dogswell Chicken Breast Jerky

These are great “special occasion” treats, but they are also easy to divide, if you want to make them last longer.

Doggerel | Dogswell Chicken Breast Jerky

The ingredients list, as you can see, is pleasingly minimal:

Chicken Breast, Vitamin E Supplement, Flaxseed, Vitamin A Acetate

A 5-oz. bag currently sells for $5.75 at Chewy.com, and there is also a 15-oz. and 32-oz. option.We will certainly be checking out more products like this from Dogswell. This is a high-quality product for high-quality pups!

Does your dog like jerky? Any particular brands you’re fond of?

Disclosure: We were provided with a bag of these treats from Chewy.com in exchange for our honest review.

December dog expenses

Christmas puppy is all pooped out #carolinachristmas #gsdlife
Things we bought for the dogs this month:

  • 2 December 2014 / Eden’s spay / Vet / $420
  • 5 December 2014 / Fish oil for Eden / Amazon / $20
  • 6 December 2014 / Vet visit for Eden (ear issues) / Vet / $65
  • 15 December 2014 / Kibble / Tractor Supply / $51
  • 18 December 2014 / Antibiotics for Eden / CVS / $15
  • 23 December 2014 / Christmas presents, toys / Pet boutique in North Carolina / $25

December total: $596

Ugh. Obviously, the spay threw this entire month out of order… and then Eden had to go in to the vet to get evaluated for an aural hematoma (which, thankfully, it wasn’t, but the vet said had the potential to be; so we’ve been treating it and we kept the cone on for a longer time frame). Awesome. The month that we have to buy Christmas presents, too… thanks, dogs.

Previous month’s expenses: $112.09

Oh, and happy new year to everyone! Let’s hope that 2015 is kinder on the budget…

Seeking indestructible dog toys

We live with two very heavy chewers, and I’m always on the hunt for indestructible dog toys.

Hard at work

Things that have held up to the shepherd chompers:

  • The black (extreme) Kong products
  • The Planet Dog ball
  • A version of the Kong Wubba that looked like a rabbit (has since died after the head was removed with near-surgical precision)
  • Nylabones

Things we’ve tried and failed with:

  • Rawhides (upset stomachs)
  • Deer antlers (upsets Pyrrha’s stomach)
  • Marrow bones (splinter so easily; also dogs lose interest quickly)
  • Anything remotely stuffed
  • Rope toys (Eden thinks the game is to rip out the threads of the rope and swallow them)

I’d like to try some more products from Planet Dog; I’ve been impressed with the strength of that ball. But I’m always looking for other suggestions!

Do you have heavy-duty chewers in your house? What products have you liked for them?

Dog Days

Source: Flickr user nickweinrauch, PhotoPin, Creative Commons license.

Source: Flickr user nickweinrauch, PhotoPin, Creative Commons license.

Dog Days

Michael Klein

Franz Schubert, in this life, is six weeks old in the body
of a chocolate-brown labrador who reminds me that risk
is extra life when he takes my hand easily in his
mouth and leads me through new teeth and a snowfall blanking town.
I think this snow must be able to lift two children, who
are fighting, out of their argumentative skins and make

a day so bright, it winces. What is ever this willing?
This vibrant dog with me, loving my hand as if it could
delay his life a little, makes me want to be him and
his newborn smile: play-ferocious on the way to heartbreak.
Reaching it back to the perfect wet arc of young bone
that forces itself into the roof of Franz’s mouth, my hand

follows my body and enters him. It is summer
again in the canoes. The man I come to when he calls,
approaches, first on a wrinkle of water, then as
himself, and we are ready to go. Franz, good dog, inside
me this is life I did not choose and you have yours, ready.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Happy holidays and merry Christmas from our pack to yours! We hope that your winter holiday season is merry and bright.