Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Leopold, the Gum, and the Peanut Butter

I guess you could call this "Adventures on the Road, part III", as the beginning of this story takes place during the end of our road trip mentioned in the two previous posts.

As people are wont to do on a road trip, we stopped at many a service station on our day of driving home from Cape Cod.  At each stop, we would assess the car's gas level, our hunger level, and how strongly we needed to visit a rest room.  We would, also, put the dogs in their harnesses and let them hop out of the car to walk around for a bit in order to stretch their legs and take care of business.

Leopold, you have gum on your paw!
As you may know, service stations are not the cleanest places--inside and out.  At one of these not-so-clean service stations, Leopold stepped in gum.

At the time of the gum adhesion, I actually thought the substance I saw on his foot was mud, and didn't worry too much about wiping it off.  A little mud never hurt anyone.

The following day, however, we were out on our walk when I noticed that the "mud" was still on Leopold's foot.  I stopped to investigate ("Why isn't this mud falling off?") only to discover it was actually a hard wad of gum.  It had mushed right into his paw pad, up around his nail, and into his fur.

Once we got home, I looked up home remedies for curing "gum paw".  Just like getting gum out of human hair, many people recommended peanut butter.
So that's what I tried.
I am pleased to report that peanut butter worked like a charm!  I massaged the peanut butter onto the gum wad, and it almost immediately started to release from Leopold's fur, nail, and paw pad.  Leopold's paw was gum-free in no time.

I was happy that the solution to this problem ended up being so easy.
And Leopold was happy that his paw tasted like peanut butter afterwards. 



massaging peanut butter onto the gum on Leopold's paw

the gum is starting to come off!
On a side note, the experience of massaging gum with peanut butter was just down right gross.  (someone had chewed that piece of gum!  as in... it was in some stranger's mouth!  uck!).  But for Leopold, I would touch a thousand pieces of service station gum if it meant he was healthy and happy and gum-foot-free

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Adventures on the Road Part II: Wine Tasting with Dogs

Stopping to enjoy the view while traveling the Cayuga Lake wine trail with our dogs.

After discovering that we were not allowed to leave our dogs unattended in the cabin in which we were staying at Cayuga Lake State Park, Chris and I (especially I) felt defeated.
Now what?
It seemed like spending a day happily gallivanting down the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail had fallen off the table and onto the ground to rot like a forgotten grape: there's no way to get wine out of that.
We had planned to "gallivant" in a car, safely driven by a hired wine trail guide (Finger Lakes Winery Tours & Fitzgerald Brothers).  Chris called up the driver and explained the situation and ended with "We don't know what to do".

In the back seat of our winery-mobile with Halo and Leopold. which the driver responded "Bring them!"

A response we were not expecting! (but maybe hoping for deep deep down)

Our driver showed up with a sedan, introduced himself as Dan, opened the back door and welcomed both our dogs onto his leather seats without a second thought.  He told us later in the day that ours were the first dogs he's ever driven around on a wine tour.  I was impressed with how cool he was about having 125 lbs worth of dog in the back seat of his car.  Halo and Leopold quickly decided that they liked Dan, their newest friend.

As it turns out, there are many wineries along Cayuga Lake that allow dogs in their tasting rooms.  In fact, we learned on the way that there are even some wineries that have their own dogs (or cats!) in residence who lounge about in the tasting rooms.  Dan explained that it was lucky we were already planning on checking out the Cayuga Lake wineries instead of the Seneca Lake wineries (which are not far away) because the Seneca Lake wineries tend not to be so dog-friendly.

Leopold lays down on the floor of the
Goose Watch Winery tasting room for a nap.

It felt very strange at first walking into a winery with dogs, and we did get some looks.  Almost all of those looks were friendly, however, and followed by sought permission to pet our incurably cute dogs.  Leopold and Halo were the open windows through which strangers felt invited to chat with us;  I don't think I've ever interacted with so many strangers while out wine tasting before.

I've always felt that having a dog is like being part of a club.  As soon as another Dog Club member sees you with your dog, they instantly get excited and want to tell you about their own dog or their childhood dog or some dog they met here or there.  We met many other members of the Dog Club while out wine tasting, and other non-members who were intrigued by the sight of the dressed-up couple with dogs hanging off their arms.

Halo was so sleepy at the end of the day that
she laid on the floor and rest her head on
the console in the winery-mobile.
We visited six wineries in all:  Swedish HillGoose WatchButtonwood GroveKnappAmericana, and Sheldrake Point.  Along the way we gave treats to a highland cow named Melody, learned why the area is known for its Rieslings, and Leopold met a cat close up and personal (if you're curious, the cat hissed and Leopold spent the rest of our time at that winery with a watchful eye and a low woof for the cat).  For lunch, we ate at a Bistro call the Thirsty Owl, that offered outdoor seating so that we could have our dogs with us.   Dan the driver also brought us to a scenic overlook of the Taughannock Falls, which was absolutely amazing.  By the end of the wine tour Chris and I were feeling light and happy, and the dogs were tuckered out from all their new experiences.

Our day ended up being fantastic.  And what felt at first like a disaster, turned into a unique experience that I would recommend to those who like to find new activities in which to include their dogs.

A scenic overlook of the Taughannock Falls
Halo waits in the car while we give Melody a treat.  Halo does not like this.
Offering Melody a treat

waiting for lunch at the Thirsty Owl
Halo and Leopold enjoy some cold water.

Strolling by the grape vines
Halo and Leopold look out over a vineyard.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Adventures on the road Part I: Learning about Possible Campground Dog Rules

Halo sticks her nose over the dog barrier we constructed in our car.
Chris and I took somewhat of a road trip with the dogs as part of our honeymoon.  The plan was to drive from Madison, Wisconsin to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  On the way we were going to stop in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, spend a day wine tasting, and then be on our way the next day.
We reserved a cabin at Cayuga Lake State Park in Seneca Falls, NY because they fit our criteria: they allowed dogs.  We planned on thoroughly wearing out the dogs in the morning before we left for wine tasting so that they wouldn't be restless in the cabin.  We thought it was a good idea.

It was late at night when we arrived at the Camp Ground; the staff was gone for the day, but they had left us our key and some campground information.  Upon reading through the park information, we discovered that rabies vaccination certificates were required for all dogs staying at the camp ground.  I thought of the rabies certificates that I keep safely in my filing cabinet at home and wondered to myself who in the world carried around their dogs' rabies vaccination certification papers.  The vet gives you a tag to hang on your dog's collar along with the certificate so that you don't have to do that.  I wondered if this was a common requirement for doggy campground patrons.  Regardless, we must have completely missed this piece of information when reserving our cabin online.  

Huddling with Halo and Leopold (there was a fridge, an oven,
but no heat!  Good thing we had warm blankets!)
We settled in for the night (huddled together is more like it, because it was so cold!) deciding that the first thing we would try to do in the morning when registering is beg for mercy and see if they'd let us stay at the campground despite our certificate-less situation.

Luckily, they agreed to letting us and our dogs stay, stating that it was ok only because we were just staying two nights.  Any longer and we'd HAVE to provide the certificates.
We took the dogs for a long walk and then headed back to the cabin to get clean and ready for our romantic day of wine tasting.

Back in the cabin, I took a moment to sit.  My eyes wandered over the humble abode: concrete floor, four small beds, patrons' initials scratched into the log walls, cob-webbed windows, and the occasional laminated sign stating various park rules.  Quiet time was after 10p.  Check out was before 11a.  No Smoking.  Phone number for park police.  And dogs are not allowed to be left in the cabins unattended.
DAMMIT!  The whole reason we chose this place was because they allowed dogs, meaning that we could keep the dogs there while we were out wine tasting.  Again, we must have missed this piece of information when making our cabin reservation online. CRAP!

Upon later investigation, I discovered that we did, indeed, miss a small section about the requirement for all pets to have proof of vaccination in the form of a Veterinarian certificate and that pets must not be left unattended.  I'm inclined to blame our error on the stress of planning a wedding.  Yea, lets go with that. 

But really, this experience taught me something important about traveling with dogs:  make sure you carefully look at all campground rules pertaining to dogs before making a reservation and definitely before arriving.  Chris and I also decided that it would be a good idea to put together a file folder of copies of our dogs' vaccination records to take with us whenever we travel with them again in the future.

Friday, November 1, 2013

On October 5, 2013, I married my best friend--my best human friend, that is! ;-)

I've been a bad blogger and have been neglecting Leopold's Crate.  Sorry!
I have a good reason though: I was preparing for my wedding (making a wedding dress can take a while!)!  I'm happy to say the wedding went well, and now life can get back to normal. :-)

Halo and Leopold dressed in their best for our big day!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

So my dog ruined his sweater...

I mentioned in the last post that one of the only things Leopold has every really destroyed was his sweater.  I bought it for him because he doesn't have enough fur to be outside long in winter; I never thought I'd be the type of person to dress my dog in a sweater, but a girls got to do what a girls got to do to keep her dog warm.  I decided to buy him a sock-monkey sweater because, well, he just looked so darn cute in it.  It was a little pricey for my wallet, but cuteness triumphed.

And... then I accidentally left it down too low,  went out for a bit, and returned home to find that Leopold had torn off all the "cute" parts of the sweater (ears, monkey face.... all gone).  I was sad, and angry at myself for leaving the sweater down where Leopold could get at it.  What a waste of money!  I couldn't bring myself to throw the sweater out, so I decided to "fix" it.

I replaced the lost monkey ears with monster horns, and filled in the missing monkey face with a monkey skull. 

The end result was a unique, punk sweater that passers-by get a kick out of.  I think it suits Leopold's personality better, anyway.  (He can be such a little punk!)   :-)

One cute monkey sweater bit the dust.
One punk monkey sweater is born.

Leopold is usually pretty good about not ruining my (or his) stuff, but every dog has his day.  and I've learned that living with dogs means that you've got to accept that sometimes stuff gets ruined because there is only so much you can do to prevent it from happening.

I'm happy that I was able to turn this particular ruined garment into something functional and funky.

The Woes of Leopold, a cautionary tale: One Dog's Fear of Inanimate Objects

This blog is about the trials, troubles, and triumphs I've had as a dog owner.  Its about the things that I've learned work; and... the things that I've learned do not.  This post, in particular, is the story of a hard-learned lesson on a bad way to train a puppy not to chew my stuff.

Leopold is the first dog I ever owned on my own.  He was also the first puppy that I raised on my own.  As a first time puppy-raiser, I was nervous about making sure I raised him right and spent much time researching how I should do one thing or another.  One issue that I knew a lot of dog owners had problems with was chewing--and I wanted to nip that problem in the bud, before I ever lost any personal items that I would be very sad about losing. 

So I looked online and I read books and I talked to people, and discovered a lot of suggestions for "training" a puppy not to chew on your stuff.  Many methods involved scaring the puppy when it started mouthing something it shouldn't.  "Fill a soda can with change and shake it when the puppy messes with the TV remote".  Or "drop some books near the puppy (not on!) to startle it when it starts to chew on your favorite shoes" (I'm paraphrasing).  Etc....
This made sense to me.  If a dog associates putting its mouth on the TV remote with scary things, then its not going to want to put its mouth on the remote.
So this is the tactic I chose.     

But then, when Leopold was about six months old, I came home from work one day and my roommate says "Laura, watch this".  She grabs her gigantic stuffed penguin from her room and shows it to Leopold.  Leopold's eyes go wide and dilated, he crouches low and backs into a corner, shaking from snout to tail...   My roommate seemed amused.  I was not. 
That was the beginning of Leopold's fears.  After that, he was afraid of ANY stuffed animal (except a few that he had had since day one).  And then it was any large object that a person was carrying around--grocery bags, boxes, etc.  And then large objects that were sitting on the ground.  And then it was any inanimate object that moved, from wind or gravity or from a human touching it.  Branches that blew in the wind.  Manhole covers or any other metal thing imbedded in the street or sidewalk.  Pillows, wet puddles, ice puddles, swaying trees, the ocean, cars, children’s scooters and toys, our awning, doors, trash cans, recycling bins, ski poles.
At one point Leopold was afraid of the ceiling.  He would get low to the ground, continuously glancing up at the ceiling (especially when our housemate was walking around upstairs) and scurry around trying to get away from the scary thing.  Unfortunately the ceiling was everywhere. 
The list of things he was afraid of grew very long.  It was concerning.  The only thing he didn't seem to be afraid of was people and other animals.  (At least I did a good job socializing him...).
And I didn't know how to reverse all his fears.  I still don't.  Currently, I just manage his fears.  (But I'll save that for another post).

I was perplexed for a long time as to the cause of Leopold's fears.  They really did get out of hand.  But I've since come to the conclusion that it must have stemmed from the very beginning, when he was a puppy and I purposefully scared him away from my stuff (my inanimate objects) with other stuff (other inanimate objects). 
That was probably the worst thing I ever did for Leopold.  Its true, Leopold has destroyed very, very few of my personal items.  He once chewed up his own sweater, but it was my fault for leaving the sweater low enough that he could get at it.  And I've had a couple of pieces of paper torn up, but that's about it.  He's very good about not touching things that aren't his.  So I guess you could say the tactic was successful; but it came at such an awful price.

While I think that maybe Leopold was predisposed to having a bad reaction to the "training" method I used (all dogs are different),  this experience has me determined to avoid using the scare tactic in the future.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"roundy beds": an afordable, washable alternative to store-bought dog beds

Here's an idea I got from the clinic I work at......

I've noticed that my dogs like to have soft things to curl up against and put their heads on when they're laying down and sleeping.  I often find Leopold bundling up a sweatshirt or jacket that I've left on the floor to make a nice pile to sleep on.  He has fluffy blankets and a foam-mattress bed to sleep on too, but something about a bundle of fabric is really appealing to him.
And for that reason I've spent many a long minute staring at the big, squishy beds at pet stores.  You know, the kind that have a thick, fluffy edge all the way around.  "Wow, my dogs would love that", I think to myself.  And then I imagine what a pain in the butt it would be to wash that bed.  It won't really fit in the washing machine, and what a mess it would be to de-stuff in order to make it fit.  Not practical at all.  And then one look at the price tag helps speed up the decision-making process, and I walk away.  Expensive!  I've thought about making my own, but that still leaves the washability problem.

The solution I've come up with turned out to be quite simple.
At work, we have only blankets to create beds for our patients.  We often make what has been dubbed "roundy beds" out of the blankets to put in the cages so the animals have something more than a cage wall to lean against.
I've been making roundy beds for Leopold and Halo at home, and they have seemed delighted!
I'm happy they like the beds, and am pleased at how easy they are to wash since they're just made up of blankets.

Here's how to make a roundy bed:

1.  gather materials:  all you need is a couple of blankets (I have pictured a queen-sized fleece, and a smaller, throw fleece)

 2.  roll up the large blanket and form it into a circle on the floor or on top of your dog's pillow/foam bed

3.  put the other blanket over top and tuck in the edges-- it helps to keep the circle from unraveling

Simple, washable, and inexpensive!
And, dog-approved:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What do you do when an off-leash dog charges at you and your dogs?

I’ll tell you what I do.  And I’ll tell you why I do it. 

I was on a morning walk with Leopold and Halo today when an off-leash, med-large dog saw us, and then ran, barking, full-speed towards us.  The owner tried to call off her dog, but clearly did not have control over her dog (annoying…).
What did I do?  I did not retreat.  I stood tall, held my ground, and then actually took a large step closer to the charging dog.  In a loud, commanding voice, I said “That’s enough!” The dog stopped charging us and stopped barking.  Then I told the dog to go away (both verbally and with an arm movement).
Why did I do this?  I did this to try to take control of the situation.  The owner clearly did not have control over her dog, so I stepped up and took a “dominant” role.  And by that I mean that I did my best to put out a calm, confidant, and assertive energy.  I stepped closer to the dog and used an arm motion when telling it to go away because dogs tend to be more visual communicators than verbal (for more information on this fact, please read mypost on the best way to communicate with dogs).

My goal in reacting to a charging dog this way is not to be aggressive, but to take control of the situation by using verbal and visual cues to let the dog know that I have done so. 

This is not the first time an off-leash dog has charged at me and my dogs:

Chris and I had recently moved to the Annapolis area and were out walking Leopold (we had yet to adopt Halo).  We were strolling down the street in a residential neighborhood when two Boston Terriers suddenly appeared in a yard across the street.  They ran to the edge of the yard and started barking at us.  They were off-leash, and I wondered if they had somehow slipped out of their yard and were roaming free.  I considered trying to catch them to find their owners, but decided there were actually in their own yard because they didn’t seem to be leaving it.  We decided to move along and started back on our way.  As soon as we turned our backs on these dogs, one of the Boston terriers bolted out of its yard and charged at us, barking wildly.
As soon as this happened, I turned back to the dog, took steps towards it and said in a very firm, raised but controlled voice “That’s enough!”.  The charging dog stopped dead in its tracks and both dogs stopped barking.  “Go home!” I said, and pointed to the dogs’ house.  The two Boston Terriers put their tails between their legs and ran back home.  Chris told me later that even he was scared. Ha!

Why did these dogs charge?  From my understanding, these two boston terriers most likely saw us as “intruders” approaching their territory.  They were barking at us to scare us away; when we turned to walk away, in their minds they had been successful, which only encouraged the behavior (positive reinforcement, if you will).  It gave them the confidence to scare us even further out of “their territory”.  This is why I took a step towards them.  In a way, I believe I was telling them it was not their territory, and that they needed to go back to their own. 

Having another person’s dog charge at you can be somewhat frightening, I know.  And some people may not feel comfortable confronting the dog in such a way as I described above.  The alternative is, of course, to let the dog complete its charge and harass you and your own dogs.  And running away will of course not work, because dogs instinctually will chase (as you saw above, even walking away can trigger chasing behavior).  I’d rather stop the charge before the dog gets to me and my dogs.

Of course, it’s important to assess the situation and decide on a response accordingly, but it’s also important to remember that most dogs will respond to a calm, assertive show of “dominance” with respect, not aggression. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Parsley: foil foul breath with this nutritious addition to your dog’s food

I’m excited to share something new that I recently learned! 

Not long ago I was sitting on the floor with Leopold, giving him a head massage and rubbing his ears, when he decided to give me kisses.  ….Stinky, smelly, eau de dead-animal, rotten kisses.  Bleh!

We’ve been putting up with bad doggy breath around this house for a while, but it was then that I decided to finally try something I had read about a while ago in a book: adding a little parsley to a dog’s food is said to help fight bad breath! (I’ve heard it works on humans, too).

We’ve been putting parsley on Leopold and Halo’s food off and on for the past week or so.  Every time we put parsley on their food, their breath is noticeably better!  And their breath goes back to being kind of stinky the times we forget to add parsley.  The parsley seems to be a bad-breath-exterminating success!

In addition to now being able to withstand being in the same room with my dogs when they yawn, I can also feel good about adding some extra nutrients to their food.  Parsley is a source of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and iron.  Some think that it may even help prevent cancer! 

I plan on making parsley a daily addition to my dogs’ meals from now on!

Brown, Andi.  Whole Pet Diet: Eight Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats.  New York: Celestial Arts, Crown Publishing Group, Random House, Inc, 2006. Print.