Friday, August 23, 2013

Looking Back | Moving Forward

I totally missed my 1-year blogging anniversary back in July. I'm actually a little surprised I kept up with it for as long as I have! When I started this blog I didn't really have a clear picture of what I wanted it to be. My earlier blog entries were very information heavy, covering a wide array of topics. As of late, the last 8 months or so, the blog has been more picture and anecdote heavy, with the occasional product review. Blogging is a lot of work and I applaud the folks out there that plug away at it every day!

As for me...while I've had fun sharing some of the ups and downs of adopting a shelter pup with the world I think I've reached a point where I'm ready to slow things down significantly. I know I said I would be doing this earlier this summer but now I really mean it. We're on the cusp of a new academic year and it's time for me to get down to the serious business of life. Work calls. School calls. The GRE calls. Graduate school applications call. My husband calls. And of course, Andy, Pablo, and Diego call. Life is going to get wild over the next 6 months but I'm ready to answer it's call! I hope you'll still stop in now and then. I'll continue to post pictures of Andy and let you know how we're all doing. Until then...arooo!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Obsessive Compulsive Andy

A picture of Andy's injured snout - you can see the pinkish "raw" spot right above his little black nose.
Some of you may recall that Andy had a borderline manic episode of OCD-like behavior last week, where he became so overwhelmed with the desire to bury his new Himalayan Dog Chew he ended up rubbing the top of his snout raw in the process. Well...later that week he did the same thing with a dog biscuit while my husband and I were out. We gave him the biscuit as we left the loft and came home some hours later to find the couch bloodied and the biscuit "buried" between the cushions. Thankfully no permanent damage was done to either Andy's snout or the couch. Sheesh.

I'm totally disturbed and weirded out by this new behavior. It's hard to believe the boy's compulsion to bury things is so overwhelming that he completely disregards any pain or injury he's inflicting on himself...but that's what appears to be happening. The question is, why? And, how can we get him to stop? Our first step to address the issue has been to not give him any treats unless he's under supervision. Second, I think a lot of his behavior issues are tied to boredom. I think the pup needs more exercise and mental stimulation in order to redirect his energy. To that end, we're committing to walking him more. I'm also going to try some light jogging with him once the Fall semester kicks into gear. We may also start taking him to Camp Bow Wow more regularly. Talk about high maintenance. Again: sheesh.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wellness Brand Kibble | A Change of Pace

Andy's been in a bit of a dietary funk lately. He's never been a really food driven dog to begin with but he seems even less interested in food as of late. It used to be that he would eat his kibble as soon as it hit the bowl but he's been really inconsistent with his eating habits the last couple of weeks. Sometimes he eats his kibble right away, other times he sniffs the contents of the bowl, then walks away without eating. He'll eat the kibble eventually but he doesn't seemed too thrilled with what he's eating. This pattern is especially worrisome to me because the dog we had before him, Maxwell, died of complications related to irritable bowel disease. Given that Andy's food issues have only surfaced recently, and don't seem to be all that serious, I'm not going to let my mind jump to anything like IBD just yet.

My husband and I have been debating about how we should handle this new situation. At this point we're approaching it as a dietary issue likely related to allergies, or, that Andy is just sick of the Merrick kibble he's been eating since day one. In order to kill two birds with one stone we've been
transitioning him to a new brand of dog food. We decided to try the Wellness brand, which I've read many good things about and have purchased in the past. Specifically we bought a bag from the Simple line - which is formulated with limited ingredients and is specifically for dogs with food sensitivities. We've also been wondering if Andy's food issues are related to boredom. He's a very active (and needy!) dog and could probably stand to get more exercise. In either case we're trying a holistic approach - tending to both his physical and mental needs. Sheesh. What a high maintenance dog! If we don't see some improvement in the next couple of weeks we'll take him in to the vet for a checkup.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Forthcoming Review: Himalayan Dog Chew

We took Andy on an outing to Petco yesterday and came across a product called a Himalayan Dog Chew. I read some good things about these all natural chews this past winter but never got around to actually ordering one. This is the first time I've come across them in a store, so, after some hemming and hawing (over the price!) I decided to pick one up. I'm intrigued by the products ingredients (yak/cow milk, salt, and lime) and the chew's back story - it's actually a cheese eaten by the people of the Himalayas. The Himalayan Dow Chews themselves are made by a consortium of farmers in Nepal. The chew is pretty hard and is suppose to be long lasting. Will let you know what Andy and I think!

*I gave Andy the chew last night, and as expected, he had absolutely no idea what to do with it! He's always flummoxed when I give him something new and it usually takes him some time to warm up to new edibles. The pup carried the chew around the loft, going up and down the stairs. He tried burying it in the couch, in both of the dog beds, and the human bed. He's never done this before! Obviously he thinks the chew is something worth concealing from others. I thought it was hilarious...until I saw his nose. He got a little OCD about trying to bury the chew and actually rubbed the bit of muzzle right above his nose raw trying to bury it. Sigh. I ended up taking the chew away and will give it back to him when his nose heals. In the meantime I'm keeping on eye on his wound and putting Neosporin on it twice a day. Never a dull moment with Andy.

Qui, Moi?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Plays By His Own Rules

Andy: "I'll shake your hand when I'm good and ready to shake your hand."

Basic Obedience | "Shake"

Andy and I have been working on the "shake" command for about 2 weeks now.
I've been following instructions from this video I found on youtube. Basically I'm supposed to crouch and offer my hand to the pup while saying "shake." If he gives me his paw I reward him with praise and a treat. If he doesn't respond I put my hand on the back of his leg and run it down to his paw, lifting it gently while saying "shake," after which he gets praise and a reward. Supposedly if I do this persistently enough the boy will put two and two together and know that when I say "shake" he's suppose to give me his paw.

This sounds easy enough in theory, but in reality, it hasn't gone so smoothly. Like I said, we've been working on this for about 2 weeks now and Andy will only give me his paw maybe 1 out of 5 times. 20% of the time after 2 weeks of persistent training? Those are not good percentages! Now, my pup is either dumb as a door nail, or willfully disobedient. I'm betting on the later. He is such a stubborn and willful dog. Unlucky for him I'm just as stubborn and just as willful. Another 2 weeks of patient and persistent training should do the trick! Sigh. Will let you know how Andy progresses. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

At the Park

It rained on and off all weekend so we ended up not making the trek out to
Jacobsburg State Park. Thankfully Sunday turned out to be a lovely day and Andy wasn't completely housebound. We hit up our local park and he got in a good hour of romping, wading in the river, and sniffing other pups. Andy loves going to the park!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jacobsburg State Park

We took Andy on a hike at Jacobsburg State Park, a small state park about half an hour from where we live, earlier this month. It was the first time Andy got to try his hand, or paws rather, at trail hiking. He passed with flying colors! He had no problem navigating the sometimes narrow and precarious trail and he loved dipping his toes in the water. We made sure we had plenty of drinking water for everyone and lots of dog poop bags to pack out Andy's little piles. 

Jacobsburg State Park is a great park to visit for light hiking. It's even better with a four-legged friend! There are a number of trails with varying degrees of length and difficulty - though as far as I can tell there's nothing too strenuous. There are picnic areas and lots of nice spots near the creek (Bushkill Creek) to while away an afternoon, with or without kiddos. There's also an environmental educational center at the park that might be worth visiting.

I have the rest of the week off from work, and if the weather stays as nice as it's been the last couple of days, we'll try to hit up the park again. Andy can't get enough of the great outdoors!