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?



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.

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.

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…

October dog expenses

Stance #prettypyrrha #germanshepherd #autumnnights

A breakdown of what we spent on the dogs in October:

  • 1 October 2014 / Eden’s fish oil pills, Dentastix / Amazon / $28.48
  • 6 October 2014/ Eden’s annual vet visit / Vet / $191.00
  • 8 October 2014 / Kibble / Tractor Supply / $46.00
  • 27 October 2014 / Kibble / Tractor Supply / $51.00
  • 29 October 2014 / Flea & tick prevention / 1800 Pet Meds / $66.54

Total dog expenses for October: $383.02

And then… sometimes… you have months like this. None of it could be helped. At least the kibble was on sale that one week??

(Previous month’s expenses: $124.00)

September dog expenses

Mischief maker

(I’m biased, but I think this psycho puppy is super-beautiful.)

A breakdown of what we spent on the dogs in September:

  • 6 September 2014 / Kibble / Tractor Supply / $51.00
  • 22 September 2014 / Kibble / Tractor Supply / $53.00
  • 24 September 2014 / Self-serve bath for Eden / Wash & Wag / $20.00

Total dog expenses for September: $124.00

(Previous month’s expenses: $177.10)

August dog expenses

Hard life

A breakdown of what we spent on the dogs in August:

  • 1 August 2014 / Kibble / Tractor Supply / $51.00
  • 4 August 2014 / Heartworm preventive / $39.56
  • 4 August 2014 / Fish oil supplement and toothpaste / $26.54
  • 22 August 2014 / Kibble / Tractor Supply / $51.00
  • 24 August 2014 / Nylabones / Amazon / $9.00

Total dog expenses for August: $177.10

(Previous month’s expenses: $189.65)

How do you train in a multiple-dog household?

I am a lazy trainer.

This is perhaps my least favorite attribute of myself as a dog owner. Now that we have two, I’m finding it even harder to make time to work with the girls on new behaviors. Since the nipping incident,* our commitment to working on P’s classical conditioning protocol for reactivity has been strongly renewed, and that has been encouraging and motivating. But everything else? Eh. Not much progress.

We tell people all the time, “Oh, Eden is SO smart,” and then they say, “Really? What can she do?” Umm… she can sit… and maul you at the front door when you come in? Oh, yeah, and she’s also really good at digging giant holes in the backyard… Yeah. Definite second-dog syndrome sufferer.

(*Side note: Thank you all for your gracious and kind comments about the nipping incident. You were honest with me about the difficulties we’ll continue to face with Pyrrha and children, but also encouraging that this is something we can continue to work on and be very vigilant about. Meant a lot to me.)

The babes.

One of my main training dilemmas/deterrents right now is the difficulty of training one on one.

Pyrrha is extremely attached to me — as in, obsessive level of attachment. She is uncomfortable and anxious if I’m not in her line of sight at all times. This is one of her many fear burdens. Eden, being much more laid-back, is fine doing her own thing, but she also doesn’t like being excluded from the action (and will voice her discontent quite enthusiastically).

What I’ve done in the past, when I want to actively work on new behaviors, is crate one dog, and then go into another room with the other dog and close the door. What’s happened so far is the crated dog pitches a fit with lots of barking and crying, either from mere separation or the knowledge that someone is getting treats and it isn’t them. This usually results in the dog being trained feeling rather distracted by all the commotion beyond the door.

Potential solutions I haven’t tried yet:

  • Give the crated dog a high-value bone or stuffed Kong, in the hopes that this will distract her
  • Train out in the backyard, in the hopes that this will reduce crated dog’s distress and minimize the noise distraction
  • If I’m working with Pyrrha, ask Guion to go play Frisbee or fetch with Eden, if he’s home (this solution has limited applicability, however)

I know there are little videos and podcasts on how to train with multiple dogs in the room at one time, but those dogs have killer down-stays and self-control, neither of which our pups have mastered yet (see introductory text: “lazy trainer,” etc.). So, those things need to happen first before we can reliably work on simultaneous, double-dog training sessions.

I really do want to work on this and renew my commitment to our girls. They could be SO much better trained than they are, and I take full responsibility for that failure. A partial motivation to revisit this conundrum is that I’d like to take Eden to an intermediate training class with our beloved trainer, but I don’t want the trainer to be disappointed by how little Eden has learned since we were last in class! Yeah. Chalk it up to the strong motivator of Dog Lady Shame.

So, help! Those of you with multi-dog households: How do you make solo training time happen? Even if you don’t have several dogs at home, how do you think I could manage this more effectively?