Sunday, January 23, 2011

Let's Play!

Cash Playing with cousin Sassy (7 months), Miley, and Savina
         Instead of marching by, time seems to zip forward during the busy seasons of life!  Cash has been with us for over a month now, and Zeus gone just under that amount of time.  Cash has made some major improvements in his behavior and acclimatization as a “house” dog.  The first and most noticeable is that Cash (now neutered) has quite marking things and is fully house trained!  This is a vast improvement over our first few days were Cash had to wear a male-dog diaper inside to keep him from marking random bits of our domestic life.  Cash has also learned “sit,” “down,” “wait,” and “off.”  In learning these behaviors, he is learning to read people and respond to them fully.  Cash is still a rambunctious puppy, but we no longer have to worry about him scaling furniture to get to food.  He patiently waits for his meals and knows to “sit” before his bowl is placed on the ground.  Often now, he will simply lie down and snooze while we prepare his dinner.
Snoozing away...
      Our cat, Amadeus, who is 12-14 years old, disappeared for some time and we worried we would never see him again.  He has been returned to us after spending time with our neighbors.  I honestly thought Cash would never do well with cats, BUT he is great with Amadeus!  Cash does not chase or bark at ‘Deus.  Cash seems far more interested in finding the cat food or eating “kitty-crunchies” from the litter box than in the actual cat.  ‘Deus is a very dog-savvy cat and usually gives us clear indicators of dogs that think cats are chew toys.  ‘Deus feels comfortable enough around Cash to walk calmly on the ground, eat in front of Cash, and sleep with Cash in proximity.  I think with other cat-savvy dogs and with cats that are dog-savvy, Cash would do just fine!     

     One of my bigger concerns in placing Cash was his tendency to “mouth” humans when he was trying to get them to play.  My husband and I have been working diligently with Cash to teach him this is not acceptable behavior.  We have been using a combination of techniques to extinct this behavior and he understands it is a no-no and will not get him the attention he is demanding.  He will occasionally still do this if he has not been exercised and is over excited and wants someone to play with him.  Prevention is the key with this behavior!  Cash really needs about an hour of exercise a day and individual attention “working” for treats or playing ball.  Again, I feel confident that an individual or family that has prior dog, or N. breed experience, will not have troubles with Cash. 
Startled awake by the flash!
     Cash has also proven to be a GREAT outdoor partner.  He does “wander” a bit on leash, but does not pull his walker one direction or another.  We have recently had him out hiking in slick, muddy conditions and on icy, rocky trails.  He was wonderful about waiting patiently as we picked our way through the conditions.  He loves to go for walks and has great trail greeting manners with other dogs and with people. 
Cash is such a wonderful combination of “on-the-go, ready for an adventure” and calm, “let’s take a nap” energy.  He is always game for going out and exploring, but then once you are home he is ready to settle down for a nap or relax with a chew toy.  He is super sweet, goofy puppy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Ode to Cashews & Other Mixed Nuts

Ode to Kona's Malamute Hair~ Melissa R. Gallegos
I finally adopted my first malamute
She is big and strong yet fluffy and cute
Little did my tiny brain know
My kitchen would look like it's covered in snow
Mal hair is here and mal hair is there
I even found some in my underwear!
It's in my mouth, it's in my tea
Let's not even get started about my SUV
The comforter's a hairball and the pantry is too
My socks, my slacks, my renowned beef stew
I vacuum and mop and constantly dust
I hired a housecleaner; her work is a must!
I apologize to guests before they take their first bite
We know who our friends are by the lack of fright
It mocks me, it taunts me, it drives me insane
It tickles my nose, it's probably imbedded in my brain
I finally adopted my first Malamute
She is big and strong yet fluffy and cute
She has come a long way from her life as a stray
She blows her top coat and undercoat every other day
She lights up our lives like no other can do
I take the hair out of my mouth to say,  "Kona, I love you" 
     I love this poem, written by one of my mal friends and fellow rescuers.  I think we still have Mowgli hair in our house from a year ago.  It is truly amazing how mal hair is found in inconceivable places!  
     So, "Why" you might ask, "do you want a dog that sheds its own body weight in fur, has selective hearing, doesn't come when called, is rambunctious (think bull in a china shop), needs outdoor, fun exercise, howls, finds escaping and adventure, makes an art of chewing, is picky with doggy friends, and did I mention sheds?"  I could chalk it up to the fact that we are all a little "nuts" (which may be true), but I think "we" like the flip-side of the malamute coin.  Malamutes are loyal and fun, enjoy spending time with their people outdoors, are intelligent, self-confident, comedians that appeal to the adventurous in spirit.  A cold, blusterous wind can shake one to the core; in that same way, malamutes echo to the bone, reminding humans of the spirit of adventure that hearkens to the days of undiscovered frontiers and the soulful desire to explore the world.  I witness this undefinable commonality in disposition between our species every time I see/hear updates of MMR malamutes off on adventures with their adoptive owners. It takes a certain person with just the right spark (or discerning taste) to pick out dogs like our Cash(ew).  Rather like eating mixed nuts.  You may love the crunch and saltiness, but not every nut that comes in the mix.  Cash(ew) has some amazing personality traits, but if you are not a cashew person keep sorting through the mix, a peanut of a dog like Mika might appeal more to your tastes! Haha!  Ok, get the metaphor yet?  Kevin and I have nick named our sweet Cash, Cashew.  Who may end up being cat friendly!  We have only tested him once, and will continue with testing as this week continues.  Fingers crossed. 
Cashew on his "bed" (rug by the front door)
     Thank you to all you mixed "nuts" for adopting our malamutes, and to all the other mixed nuts out there who adopt any other breed.           

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who IS that Puppy in the window?

Cash was neutered today, which went well.  However he has to wear a soft Ecollar since he will not leave the incision alone.  The dog in the patio door came back tonight, wearing a matching blue collar, which upset Cash!  This is some video of the big guy figuring out that dog is...him!

Sigh...Poor me...
*Sad* Cash with his collar on post neuter...

Monday, January 10, 2011

The world is too much with us...

North of Ketchum, ID

     The world is too much with us; late and soon,
          Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
          Little we see in Nature that is ours;
          We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
          The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
          The winds that will be howling at all hours,
          And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
          For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
          It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
          A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;                        
          So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
          Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
          Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
          Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn. ~Wordsworth
Enjoying some time outside!

I am always reminded that the world is too much with us when I make the drive from Twin Falls to ISU and see the Great Basin mountain range capped in winter white.  My fondest desire would be to turn the Jeep towards those mountains to explore, but instead I spend time under florescent lighting nurturing my gray matter.  Do not get me wrong, I love my literature classes, but spending time outside feeds a deeper part of my soul. Wordsworth had it right and I think dogs know this truth, too.  We need to feed our brain as well as our physical body. I had a professor describe the landscape of the West as being large enough to cradle both joy and despair; I find it sublime.  
We have been enjoying mild winter weather in Twin Falls, so the pack, Kevin and I have been hiking in and around the Snake River Canyon frequently.  Cash loves these hikes! He walks really, really well on leash.  He has been steadily gaining weight and we will find out how much he has gained over the past week tomorrow morning.  Cash is also going to be neutered tomorrow, which makes this foster mom happy!  
Kevin with the girls and Cash in the Canyon

Snake River with the dogs

Near Practice Rock in SRC

Cash got to meet one of Moonsong’s matriarchs Sunday, a beautiful female mal named Denali.  He was in love and a bit exuberant, but obviously liked her.  The feeling was mutual until Cash tried to hump the sweet girl. Oops, he needs to learn the ladies only like to play.  His “tutoring” should help!
We recently took Cash and Miley Snowshoeing in the Baker Lake/Billy Bridge area north of Ketchum, Id.  Cash took to these winter adventures like an old pro.  He really just wants to be someone’s buddy while they hike or walk.  There were other dogs everywhere and he did very well with the few we met.  He is super dog friendly and wants all new dogs to be his playmates.    
Cash, Miley & Kevin near Billy Bridge area

Cash & Miley

"hunting" snow mice snowshoeing

Cash also did well today, my first day being back at ISU for the Spring semester, when he was alone (well with the other dogs) for 7 hours.  We have tried crate training with Cash, but he really dislikes it so far.  We left him out in the house with the girls and did not have any damage!  He did manage to get himself closed in our bedroom for about 3 hours (until Kevin came home for lunch) and rearranged pillows, but nothing was chewed or torn apart.  

Just a fun Video of Cash & Miley "hunting" in the snow (and the two of us being dorks). 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Perspective & Improvements on the Christmas Dog, Cash

          Yesterday we took Cash to meet our vet at Magic Valley Veterinary Hospital.  The visit went very well!  Cash was his usual curious, happy puppy self for the exam.  He willing let the vet thoroughly look him over.  The only problem we had was Cash had a really hard time holding still when Dr. L was trying to listen to his heart; the stethoscope was so fascinating!  Cash kept trying to twist around to examine the new object.  It was very funny to watch.  The vet agreed he is about 11 months old and gave him a clean bill of health, other than being about 15 lbs underweight.  Cash currently weighs 59 lbs and will round out around 75 lbs.  We were able to micro-chip him and inquired about his back dewclaws.  Since he is far past infancy we will not be removing them.  When we take him hiking we will just use RuffWear booties to protect the dewclaws from bramble.  Last, he has an appointment for the 11th for his neuter (yeah!).
Cash with his male buddy, Rodrigo

I'm so sleepy, I think I'll snooze in the water dish

Kevin and I both think Cash is one of the most inquisitive dogs we have ever met.  Any new object or item he finds needs to be thoroughly sniffed and explored.   He saw his first rocking horse Sunday.  It was great to watch him!  He froze, then slowly moved closer.  He finally moved up to the horse and nudged it.   When the rocking horse moved he got very excited and bounced a little.  He kept looking over at me as if to ask if I had ever seen such a thing.  His joy of exploration is infectious.  Everyday items become an adventure when viewed through Cash’s eyes.   
Cash is still opening up with our pack and finding his place.  He loves to play with Miley and his foster cousins Lilo and Sassy.  Tug of war with toys and wrestling are two of his favorite games.  We bought the dogs Snoopy tugs which lasted 24 hours.  They played nonstop over an afternoon until all that was left of Snoopy were little white bits of fluff, too small to play with any longer.  
Miley (3 year old lab) & Cash with the Snoopy toy

Cash & Miley relaxing in the aftermath of the Snoopy carnage

Cash’s indoor behavior is improving at a rapid rate, too!  The first evening Cash did not understand that dogs’ feet should not be on counters and tables, especially when food is out.  He quickly learned that treats only come to him when he sits patiently.  He no longer does this if we are in the room, but will still take advantage of counter cruising if we leave the room.  We are continuing to work with him, but are happy with his improvement.  Here are some pictures from day one of Cash “problem solving.”  
Problem solving...
Dang!  I found the bag of cat food, but I am busted...
 Thankfully it only happened the once, and now makes a funny story!  Cash was hungry and set out to feed himself.  We had a bag of of cat food on the top of the refrigerator.  He figured out that the rolling cart would get him close enough to the top of the refrigerator that he could climb on up and eat.  The last picture was taken just after he tried to jump the rest of the way up, we yelled no, and he realized we were watching him.  I think this poem sums up the difference between how we think and how dogs think.  Was it inappropriate that Cash stood on the table, yes from our perspective, but he is a dog, so not for him.  Enjoy:

Christmas Dog by Shel Silverstein

Tonight’s my first night as a watchdog,
And here it is Christmas Eve.
The children are sleepin’ all cozy upstairs,
While I’m guardin’ the stockin’s and tree.

What’s that now--footsteps on the rooftop?
Could it be a cat or a mouse?
Who’s this down the chimney?
A thief with a beard--
And a big sack for robbin’ the house?

I’m barkin’ I’m growlin’ I’m bittin’ his butt.
He howls and jumps back in his sleigh.
I scare his strange horses, they leap in the air.
I’ve frightened the whole bunch away.

Now the house is all peaceful and quiet again,
The stockin’s are safe as can be.
Won’t the kiddies be glad when they wake up tomorrow
And see how I’ve guarded the tree.