Friday, January 30, 2009

Some like it hot: part 2

Sensibull is a clever four-legged guy, and his antics can be both astounding and hilarious.
I’ll never forget his solution to his wintertime potty problem. The problem, of course, is that he hates the snow touching his furless undercarriage.
Before my husband and I bought our house, we were renting a lower level apartment.
Outside the sliding glass door where we let the dog out there was a cement patio and overhead, a deck provided us some cover from the elements.
The dog loved this cover.
To him, it meant that even when it snowed heavily, he didn’t have to take his private parts wading through the deep snow, unprotected.
The snow would build up around the patio, sometimes to heights taller than my dog.
My dog would eagerly trot out the door to go potty, stopping at the wall of snow and turning sideways.
As if he were peeing on a bush, he’d lift his leg to the snow bank and pee right into it. Before long, the snow bank would be streaked with holes of yellow-tinted snow all over its side.
And when it came time for number two, Sensi (short for Sensibull) still didn’t dare walking in the snow. He’d just turn his behind to the snow bank, put it in reverse and back-up until he was comfortable.
He doesn’t have this type of cover at the new place, so he hops around in an effort to keep his parts away from the snow. We’ve shoveled him a potty area during some of the heavier snowfalls too.
He makes quick business of the outdoors and runs back to the door.
“Woof!” sounds a single bark, letting us know he wants back in and it’s urgent.
He never barks to come in during the summer.

My sister shared a particularly funny cold-weather story about her dog, a boxer, with me recently. I’ll pass the humor on to you in the next blog.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Some like it hot

I’ve been told stories of dogs with big furry coats that love the snow and chilly air. Dogs that romp around in the first snowfall like a child who’s never seen snow before. These are the dogs, I hear, that love to snuggle into a nice deep snowbank as if it’s a cotton-filled bed.
I know one thing for sure, I do not have one of those dogs.
Like many short-haired breeds, my dog doesn’t grow much hair on his stomach and armpits, or his “private” areas (which, ironically, aren’t private at all since he doesn’t even have fur to hide them away).
His skin is a soft whitish-tone in the winter, and I remember how scared I was the first summer my dog learned to love the sun.
That first summer was when my dog became quite partial to the way the sun heated his undercarriage. He’d lay on the deck, alternating from one side to another with his belly exposed.
The black fur on the rest of his body would feel hot to the touch. His tongue would be rolled out on the deck, panting as though he’d just got done running 20 laps around the backyard. I’d literally have to pull on his collar to get him up and into the house because I thought he'd get heat stroke. And he would just go and sit by the door, wanting out again.
One day I noticed the skin on his belly was turning black. Some patches in the armpit were still white. Like a new mother, I panicked and rushed him to the vet.
“He’s just tan,” they told me.
The blood rushed to my face. I felt like an idiot. Of course he was tan, he was sunbathing at every opportunity he got!
That’s my dog’s heaven; the deck on a hot summer day. He also enjoys laying in sunspots on the floor, cuddling up to campfires as close as he can, and he even chooses bricks over carpet if it means being closer to the wood stove. And blankets, oh blankets. That’s a topic worth a whole entry on its own.
So how does he like the winter?
Well, he doesn’t.
His avoidance of snow and all things cold has given my husband and I a lot of good laughs. Stay tuned and I'll share some of his cold-weather antics in my next blog.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A canine trivia collection

Did you know that small dogs are more prone to tooth problems? That Bull Terriers — the “Target Dog” — are prone to having knee caps that slip out place?

How about the fact that Boxers tend to reach behavioral maturity much later than other breeds, often keeping their puppy-like behaviors and mischievous tactics until age 5?

That pugs can sometimes have a problem with their eyeballs popping out of the socket, and Great Danes are at a higher risk for having their stomachs twist — a very serious and sometimes deadly condition — during strenuous exercise?

Or that there’s a member of the canine family which happens to look amazingly similar to Racoons? A wild animal, it’s called the “Racoon Dog” and is a hint of how several species of modern day animals can trace their genes back to just a few.

Some people like to collect random trivia — I happen to center my trivia collection on dogs.

After surprising people with some strange piece of information about dogs, I usually follow it by jokingly adding, “Yeah, I have a lot of useless dog trivia stored in my head.”

However, I like to think I have as much useful information as I do useless.

As a little girl, I asked my parents for a puppy before every Christmas and every upcoming birthday. It was always first on my list, to be followed by a horse, and then some more realistic wants.

But with a father who is allergic and a mother who worried the responsibility of caring for the animal would fall back on her, I never did get that puppy.

I never got the horse either, but that was understandable. We lived in a subdivision, and not one where money grew on trees.

Without a dog to walk or horse to ride, I spent most my time with my nose buried in books. And most those books were about dogs and horses.

It not only interested me, but I figured I was preparing myself to be a good dog owner one day.

My “one day” came when I was 18 and dating my now-husband, who shares my love for animals and felt he’d gone too long in life with a four-legged pal.

On our anniversary, we went to look at a litter of puppies he’d heard about through a co-worker.

From that day going forward, I realized that I had been studying the wrong stuff all those years. I read about different breeds, enjoyed many fiction novels about canine heroes and even studied some dog training manuals, but it wasn’t helping.

I still didn’t understand my dog.

So I dived back into reading and this time, I studied canine behavior. I’ve been studying canine behavior for about five years now, and I enjoy it so much that I consider it a great hobby of mine.

Well, not so much the reading as applying it to my dog and seeing, by trial and error, what works and what doesn’t.

It’s been an enlightening five years and now I’m overloaded with a great variety of dog-related information.

I plan to use this blog to unload it all on you.

Anything from training tips, behavioral stuff, breed or health information and the occasional heart-warming or comedic story about my own dog or others I know are fair game, so check it out and enjoy!