What the dog has been up to lately

A goofball at heart.

Little Pyrrha stories from this week:

Mmm, toothpaste!

Guion called me yesterday and asked, “So, is too much dog toothpaste toxic?”

Oh, boy. I made another overconfident mistake with Pyrrha and thought we could trust her alone in the house, out of her crate, for an hour. She doesn’t get into anything when we’re home and we left her alone for 30 minutes the other day and nothing was touched; she was just dozing in her crate. So, I was all, “Sweet, she’ll be great on her own! We won’t even be gone that long.”

Pyr, however, found her canine toothpaste down in the bottom of a bin and went to TOWN on it. Guion said she was covered in gooey, green paste when he found her. It was all over the carpet, all over her paws, and the tube was obliterated. She’d sucked out all the paste and had started to chew up the plastic tube itself when Guion came home.

I proceeded to panic a little, and panicked even more when my I told my boss, she called her vet friend, and the vet friend said, “Call the animal poison control center immediately!” But Guion didn’t report that she was acting sick, and the toothpaste was a “natural” brand, so it didn’t have the typical chemical cocktail. And the poison control hotline costs $65.

So, I got in touch with her foster, her fairy-dog-mother, who recommended that I call the vet. I did, and they told me not to freak out, that she’d probably have an upset stomach and possibly vomit. She slept through the night without incident, though, and seems totally fine today, except for those sticky green stains still on her front legs…

What contraband item has your dog ingested? Did you freak out?

Crushin’ on Camden

Pyrrha is still getting used to greeting other dogs on leash, but I think she’s made pretty significant improvements since we first brought her home. She is still scared of any and all dogs, but I’ve been relaxing my hold on the leash a LOT and calming down significantly, and I think that’s helped tremendously. Her hackles still go up and her tail still tucks, but she seems like she wants to greet them now and she hasn’t had any snarling or growling incidents in a month. We’re still moving slowly with it, but I have been delighted to discover one thing: CAMDEN.

There is a young female chocolate-colored pit bull who lives on our street. Her name is Camden and we often see her out walking with her humans. I don’t know what it is or why, but Pyrrha ADORES Camden. Camden is the only dog that I’ve ever seen Pyrrha genuinely happy to spot. She runs right up to her, all wags and smiles, and starts to play bow all over the place. Camden responds in kind, and the other night, the two of them romped around in our front yard for a bit (albeit on long leads). It totally made my day.

Camden’s humans were shocked when I told them that Pyrrha doesn’t like other dogs. “Are you sure? She is so good with Camden! She loves her!” They protested. I said it was true, but it seems that Pyrrha only has room in her heart for Camden. They seemed pleased and surprised to hear that their baby was the only one who could tame our fearful beast.

Camden doesn’t have a fenced-in yard, so I told her people that we really ought to have a play-date with the girls. We didn’t exchange any information, however, so I’m hoping we’ll run into them again soon and make that happen.

Does your dog have a best friend? A dog he or she instantly preferred over others, for seemingly no apparent reason?


After my big fail of an attempt to teach Pyrrha to target, I am happy to report that she has successfully learned the “touch” cue! I took a lot of your advice to heart and stepped back a lot before I tried to re-teach it to her. I tried again when she was in a happy, relaxed space and I didn’t make any suspicious movements (like trying to pick up a clicker). She learned the cue in about four repetitions, and now we’re practicing it in other rooms, environments, and with other people. She performed it successfully with Guion last night, too. I am hoping that this command will be a helpful focusing bridge for her when we start obedience school in a few weeks.

What new command or behavior is your dog learning now?


10 thoughts on “What the dog has been up to lately

  1. Glad to know the toothpaste scrounge wasn’t a health emergency. Tricky, girl.

    Loved the story about Camden. My last dog, Shadow, was very dog reactive. We attended a well-supervised play group at the SPCA to improve her comfort around other dogs. She was relatively calm if a little hackly. But one day, she just started chasing Sally. After a few weeks observing, she decided she was in love with the little lab mix.

    Dogs like and dislike each other just like people do. But they don’t have as much freedom to express their tastes as we do. It’s fun when we get to see clearly that our dogs really love someone.

  2. Rufus is a fickle dog as well! He has dogs that make him leap with joy, but most annoy him haha. The “touch” command is one of my favorites, love that trick!

  3. Touch is amazing! I loooove that cue. I often use it during heelwork. Elli loves jumping to touch my hand. 🙂

    Elli loves all dogs, not all dogs love her… her best friend is a border collie who lives in Canada. I’ve never seen two dogs wrestle for four hours before. ❤ She'll see him again in September!

    Elli's learning a hand (paw?) stand, right now. 🙂

  4. Bowdu got into coffee grounds when he was about 8 or 9 months old (major medical emergency — freaking was sort of necessary, but he got fantastic care and got over it).

    He also got into an ant bait that probably WASN’T a medical emergency but the vet treated it like it was when we called to ask. I now know that it truly wasn’t as bad as they made it out to be, but they still gave him emetics and flushed his system anyway. I actually regret that we felt compelled to do as the vet said (or risk being seen as “bad owners”) because that unnecessary visit no doubt contributed to Bowdu’s hatred of vets now.

  5. One of our dogs, Lilac, who passed away at the very old age of sixteen last year, once stole about four bags of Easter candy and then got it out when we left to run some errands. We came home to find that all three of our Greyhounds had ingested a lot of chocolate. Gah! There were no long lasting effects besides sparkly poop for a few days. There was no wondering who ate what!

    Our dogs all have other dogs that they’ve immediately liked or preferred, with perhaps the exception of Blueberry.

    Morgan and Kuster are currently relearning some manners and we’re trying to get back to having them loose in the house together. When he got about five months old, he just got to be too much for her and we instituted the separation. They really like each other, but they just get too ramped up in the house together. So far this week, they’ve been doing really well, so I’m hoping things are lightening up here!

  6. Tala is primarily very shy and cautious with most dogs she meets in Hanoi and if there are multiple dogs she gets even more nervous primarily because most of the dogs here are very cocky males who have not been neutered and so hence take a very sexual interest in her even though she has been spayed. She is even scared of most puppies! But the strange thing is (like with your dog) is that she has two friends in particular, both local dogs (One spitz like and one Phu Quoc dog) who when she sees them even from far away she becomes overjoyed and immediately runs to greet them with ears pinned back and a low fast tail way. I think with these two friends there is a mirroring and similarity in their body movements – very cautious and jumpy with their body movements but she clearly finds this far less threatening and then they will begin to play!

    What really confuses me though and I would love to know the answer to (please let me know as you have read far more on dog behavior than me!). Is that for a generally very submissive dog (around male dogs, puppies, and humans) Tala will completely change her behavior and become very aggressive around an older female Shih Tzu who she sometimes passes on her way to the park. It is so extreme to the extent that once we saw the owner without his dog coming towards and then he walked right past us but as soon as he was a few feet past and she had clearly smelt him she whipped around with hackles up and growls. So strange – any advice on this behavior would be much appreciated! Can there be issues with territory with females?

  7. Oh boy, who hasn’t had that thought, “i’ll only be gone an hour.” I had that thought and Reggie promptly went into my laundry basket and ate two socks. They came out – a week later! Can you imagine having two socks in your stomach for a week?
    Still he never missed a meal! 🙂

  8. Yay for touch!

    One of my worst doggy mistakes was a long time ago, but I am still grateful it turned out OK. I put my then-puppy into the bathroom as a possible small puppy proof room. Problem is I forgot about the proofing part of puppy proof and didn’t move anything. I came home to find my disposable razor all shredded up and the flat blades just lying on the floor. After freaking out and carefully looking the dog over, I discovered that he didn’t cut himself, but man, that was a frightening minute. This was close to 15 years ago and I can still remember how scared and stupid I felt about that.

    Good luck on your first training class. Touch is the first thing I teach in my classes so that pet parents have a way to redirect their dogs before they start barking fests. Useful for puppies, but invaluable for beginner classes with older dogs. I also recommend bringing a frozen stuffed kong for dogs who are likely to bark either due to nerves or to frustration. It can be a good way to positively redirect them during the talky parts of class.

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