How to Break Your Dog Using Generic Store-Brand Cereal

I’m on a quest.

You see, every time I go to the market, I buy a different brand of Generic Cereal.   The stuff that looks like if you planted it in the backyard, you would get a bagel growing.  Bagel Seeds.

I mean, Cheerios look like bagel seeds, so you end up getting … well never mind, that simile is stretched to its breaking point.

However you could do worse.  One Gram Of Sugar, It’s Not A Lot.  Per serving that is.  I’m taller than average, so I have one and a half grams in my own Moose Sized Servings.

However, Rack, The McNab SuperDog (TM) knows though that I can be a soft touch.

He follows me around the kitchen and watches.  Since the world is not sized for my own Six-Foot-Four-Inch-One-Hundred-Ninety-Three-Centimeter, 220-Pound-One-Hundred-Kilo frame, I drop things.  Constantly.  Reach into the ice bin in the fridge and I get my five cubes for coffee and drop one.

That hardened into a ritual where he hears the freezer door open, listen for the rattle of my right hand grabbing those cubes, and he gets up and pads into there and waits.

Which is to say I get twin laser beams of brown eyes staring a hole through me.

First mug of coffee ONLY.  I merely say when I hear him get up, “Nope”, and he sits down when I go in for the second mug of coffee.

Being a dog of a lifetime. he currently speaks English well enough that I am learning Spanish to avoid him knowing when I am doing something.  Yeah right, he has figured out that he can also go into the kitchen when I am getting a snack.  Bilingual dog in the making.  What’s next, sign language?

Like those Bagel Seeds.   Generic, of course.

The Generic ones come in various kinds.  The best tasting ones are the ones with mostly oats, and wheat instead of only oats.  The “real” cheerios are Gluten Free and taste like cardboard, only cardboard.  Ok, not quite so bad, they taste like Only Oats which can be fine in making oatmeal with milk and a blob of lemon curd on top and …

But the Generic-with-wheat fake-Cheerios that I like taste sweeter.  No more added sugar, I hope, but I’ll eat them out of hand standing in the middle of the kitchen dropping them on my damn boot as they roll under the refrigerator.

Being a dog, he’s also part vacuum cleaner.  He’ll trot in there and vacuum up the things.

Being me, I upgraded him.  Once.

I took a handful of the bagel seeds and put them in his bowl.   Add milk.  Just a splash.

Now, my dog, is broke.   This dog who has the genetics of being the smartest creature in the pasture has learned that I have the power of milk.

Yes, you guessed it.  He won’t eat them if I don’t put the milk over them and merely gives me That Stare.

“Where’s my milk?!?!?!”

Indeed.  “I didn’t even give myself any milk!”

I ignored him and put the cereal away.  He walked to his hiding corner next to my big green chair and waited.

When I finally sat down he decided it was not going to happen, fifteen minutes later, and had his treat without milk.

I have GOT to stop feeding this dog people food!

It’s bad enough that he knows that the rawhides are stored within reach of my desk.

He’ll do the same thing.  Walk to my left elbow.  Wag his tail for attention.  Stare holes in me, wait for me to ask “What?  Show me!”.  Pad over to the rawhide bag and then lasers.

A beggar of my own creation!

 

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Training your Fearful Dog – Rack Rides In The Jeep and gets a Bonus Tornado Warning

I’m sitting here with my foot up on the arm of the couch like I am not supposed to do.   I catch myself doing it and put my foot on the floor.

Why?

We just had a massive storm come through.  It’s strange because April is the driest month.  There was a confirmed Tornado touchdown in downtown Fort Lauderdale, and confirmed touchdown at the Airport in Fort Lauderdale, or Hollywood.

Mind you, this is strange, and the last major storm that we had approaching this was back last year before the end of Hurricane Season.  I guess November or October.

Driest Month.   At least my grass will get watered.

You see that’s the thing.  All these atmospherics and the worst of it is that I’m stuck inside at the Dog Walk Hour with Rack next to me.  He’s not freaking out and shivering, just laying there on guard.

Much better than he was.

I still have video on one of my servers somewhere of Lettie, who predated him, running from room to room in my old house in a T Storm in Philadelphia barking at the skies at every thunder clap.

Rack is too laid back for that.   That is a good thing.

As terrified and fearful as he is, there are things that he just will push the fear aside and do.  That is something that speaks volumes.  You see, some dogs never get past their fears.  They sit in a corner and shiver at the slightest provocation.

I know some people like that.

One thing Rack likes is a Ride In The Car.

To say like is a gross mis-understatement.  It’s like the world likes its electrical gadgets and its internal combustion engines – an addiction that thinking people, even here in the US know, will come to an end… or else.  That’s the thing about Science, it is true whether you believe it or not.

Period.

If I mention that I want to go for a ride in the car in any context, Rack will proceed to

speak in tongues, vibrate, make unintelligible noises, and generally lose his … cool.

Since I only drive my own car very rarely, and normally to keep the battery charged, it only gets out about once a week.

Now, on his best day, Rack is still a dog.  I’m not delusional, but McNab Dog is as intelligent as many children I have met.  Toddlers not being very focused, and a good herding dog will be.

If I say lets go for a ride in the car, he is at the dog, speaking in tongues.  I open the door and he’s out to the regular car.  A Sedan.  And will sit next to His Door waiting to go in.  It’s not all smooth sailing, if a truck gets too close, he dive bombs into the back wheel wells and hides.

On the other hand, I say “Lets Go For A Ride In The Jeep” and he is torn.  He understands the Jeep-ness of the situation and isn’t quite so excited.

The last time I invited him to the land of Jeep, because as you know, anything else is just a car,

He took me up on it.   He walked to the Jeep and gave it the suspicious eye.  Opening the door he hesitated to step in but in he did go.  Parked himself on the Passenger seat and proceeded to give the look of fear that you see in dogs that are excited and terrified at the same time.

I drove out of the driveway and down the street to the first major intersection and he was fine.  I give him what he needs, a way to find success.

In this case it was to go for a ten mile circuit of the area and back.  Nothing special.  About 16 or so KM.

He managed to even relax.  Having him on two lane roads helped since there were few large trucks with evil diesel engines.  He will avoid those even on a walk.  He will try to tear my arm out of its socket trying to get away from those.

Once a few years back on a similar loop, he dove under my feet on the Interstate 95 which was actually terrifying especially since I need both feet to pilot the car.

Manual Transmission which means here in the US it won’t get stolen.

In the intervening years, he’s had plenty of exposure and while it didn’t look like it mattered, it did.

The solution is to keep exposing your dog in safe and small ways to things they dislike.  Eat some of your peas, kid, they’re good for you.

Rack found out, they are good for you, and he got to actually enjoy a ride in the Jeep.  He was still tense, but visibly happier at the end of the experience.

At this point “Do you want to go for a ride in the Jeep” is not a sentence of fear, but an invitation for excitement.  Sure he wishes it was a conventional sedan, but here he can go with Dad In A Ride In The Jeep!

And isn’t that all a kid wants?  Even furry kids?

Now that the rain has stopped… Hey Rack, Hungry yet?  Time to eat!

Good boy!  Gooood Boy!

Teaching Rack to Eat – A Slow Eater Gets Much Better With Water and Heat.

Rack is a fascinating character.

My dog, Rack, has some quirks.  Some of those quirks are endearing.  He greets me in the house, despite other people living there, first.

Mind you since I’m the one that tends to grab the heaviest bags from the back of the car, that’s not always comfortable.  That wet nose has found itself in places it never should have been.

He sleeps in his bed, but only until I have drifted to sleep.  Many nights, in the glow of the clocks and

Dogs live by their noses, and will curl up next to their favorite people, and barring that, their clothes so

that they are comforted by the scent.

lights in the bedroom, I open an eye and see that he’s moved to the bath mat I keep next to the bed and my boots.  I would have thought it is more comfortable in his bed that is chock full of foam rubber, but he’d rather curl up on a flat mat next to my shoes and my bed.

Ok, Boy, as long as you don’t chew anything.

But one of those quirks has bothered me since day one, and is something I will have to watch for the rest of his time.

Food.  He’s a terrible eater.

Many dogs are too fast.  They eat so fast that they bloat and you end up turning the bowl over, or get a Maze bowl to force them to slow down.

Lettie was fine, although she was a bit too quick on snacks.  Just watch your fingers, she thought her snout was shorter than it actually was.

In Rack’s case, Food is an Afterthought.

He has severe food allergies.  Grain and Poultry are a definite no.  We went through quite a few meals followed by projectile “Soft Serve” and diarrhea until we figured that out.

Cheap food is full of grain.  Dogs don’t need grain.  They are omnivores, but more toward being a carnivore than we are.  So cut out the grain.  Chickens and Turkeys eat grains.  So whatever was in that grain gets stored in the muscle tissue, and whatever else, that is used to make the dog food and more “Soft Serve”.

We found a couple of foods that he could eat safely, but the damage was done.  He gets extremely picky.

Since one of the foods was a dry kibble, he would take as much as a half hour or more to eat on a normal feeding.  Twice a day and I was spending an hour tapping and shaking the food bowl to motivate him to eat. I would get frustrated, start nagging him to eat.

Not good.  Nobody likes to be nagged.

So I hit on an idea.

Take the food in the bowl, ours is purple plastic, and add an ounce of water or so.  Just enough to puddle a little bit in the bottom of the bowl.  Coat all of the food with the water.  Shake and stir it around.

Then microwave it for 15 seconds.  Just enough to warm things.

The last dry day he had was 27 minutes of crunching.  Lettie would have had that done in short order and ask for more.

The first wet day he was done so fast that I had to do a double take.  It took three minutes.

So the rule is that he gets bored and needs variety.

The main rule is that even just an ounce of water to warm and soak things is a help.

Reading this you may say to “Give him 10 minutes then remove the food, he’ll eat when he’s hungry”.

No.  “I mean are you stupid? No.”

I have a dog with a very low prey drive, and a very low food drive.  He will starve himself.  As in “I’ll lose 20% of my body weight and still ignore that food.”

It simply is not a priority and removing food from a dog is unnecessarily cruel.  Better to try something positive and see if you can change things.
Of course we’re also dealing with a dog who was still growing when I got him from the rescue, so he

You see, Puppies are wonderful and beautiful balls of love.  However taking a dog away from Mom means that it does not learn what is acceptable in a pack.  Feeding is one of those things that is effected and you end up with a painfully fussy dog.

He was almost certainly taken from his mother early and not socialized properly.

When your pup is in a pack of 8 brothers and sisters, you eat or you go hungry.  Being picky means failure to thrive.  If you aren’t taught that lesson, it may linger.

In our case it did.

So a little water, and 15 minutes in the microwave may just do the trick.  It did with us.

The Colder The Weather, The Tighter The Dogball

Cold is relative.

No really, it is.

You ask someone who lives in a place where they get wild swings of temperature when you don’t, they may tell you you’re crazy.

But if your dog gets cold, it gets cold, no matter where you are.

In my case, my dog got cold, and so did my relatives.  Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM), handles it in style.  He simply rolls up into a dogball and parks himself in the corner.

He does it wrong, but he doesn’t care.

Last night, watching an old sitcom, I saw the ritual of the nest.  I’ve got a mat for him to lay on to protect him from the cold slab that the house is built upon.  Yes, I know, Cold is Relative.  In this case, it’s relative enough for me to be wearing a pair of Doc Martins any time I am not in bed, or a shower, or shaving in front of a mirror.

But that’s normal for me.

The one time I tried to put my own Docs on my dog’s feet, he looked up at me with all knowing brown eyes and basically told me I was an idiot.  Taking one foot out of each shoe, he slipped away.

Good for me, I was able to finish dressing.  Sitting on the edge of the bed means that I generally have a 46 pound, badger black and white dog weaving his frame in and out of my legs.  Like a cat.  Which I can’t.  I’m allergic to cats.  That’s why we have a dog.   A Good Dog indeed.

Who’s a good boy?  Hmmm?  You are!

So as he’s pawing on a mat that has to weigh as much as a bag of flour, not having much luck, and basically making a mess, he manages to roll it up into a ball.  Then, Plop! He’s settling in next to it to sleep.

That Dog Sniffing His Tail position that McNab Dog owners are so familiar with.  The tighter the dogball, the colder the weather.

But cold is all relative.  My relatives.  One in the Philadelphia Area, My Sister Pat at least doesn’t laugh at me when I tell her it’s cold out.  She does remind me that while I may be feeling cold and it’s 50, I also went to Kelly Drive and would have a skate workout when there was ice on the trails in a T Shirt and Boxer shorts with a sweatshirt if it was windy.

Just a short workout, mind you, only 9 miles, but you can do it too.  Come on, it was only 25, and I wasn’t crazy.  Really I wasn’t.

The other one is in the middle of the great plains.  The Middle of Nebraska.  Les Nessman’s dream state.  Where it was minus-freaking-25 Farenfreakingheit.  Too Freaking Cold.

So cold that it doesn’t make too much sense to take the effort to convert the temp to Celsius because it is roughly the same.  And my mind may be going from all that cold anyway because I could be getting the temperature wrong, oh never mind, let me have my damn coffee, it’s too cold to think about that!

Replace Freaking with whatever intensifier you wish.  I have one in mind.  Four bold letters.  Describes the situation perfectly.  Survival gear to go to the mailbox cold.

No.  Just No.  I’ll take solace in that it will only get colder here, and we’re expecting two degrees above freezing.  Yes, 38F or 2C.

So this is the dry season.  How I know is that it has been raining for two days in a row, and my banana tree sprouted a flower that just popped open.  Just in time for near freezing temperatures.

The storm forms in the Caribbean, where the water is still warm, relatively.  It does that pirouette dance to spin up into what my Sister will be calling a Nor’Easter, and wondering if it will get above freezing before the storm hits there.

Dunno, Pat, I remember once riding my motorcycle this time of year through the NJ Pine Barrens with just a T Shirt and Jeans because it was 70 with snow banks on the side of the road and ice patches in the shadows.

Dress for the Slide, not the Ride.

So it’s all relative.  I will hide from my cold.  You hide from your cold.  Here, have some coffee.

Did I tell you that the freeze line is 8 miles north of me?  Yeah, Clint Moore Road in Boca Raton according to the National Weather Service is as far south as freezing temps get.

Take that Boca!  Hah!

Four Paws and Bored? What do you want, Rack?

I putter in the yard a lot.

When you have a string of pots with 25 species of plants in an average sized suburban yard, it tends to take a

little bit of time to do a yard inspection.

I’m out there twice a day, at least, and every day regardless of the weather.

Ok, there really are exceptions.  I don’t think I went out there that day that Hurricane Irma was blowing her nasty head all over the entirety of the Florida Peninsula, but cut me a little bit of slack.

We have, all over the perimeter of the yard, plantings.  They have been discovered by my dog, Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM), as well as Lettie who proceeded him and came down here with us from Philadelphia.

The plantings have also been discovered by the creatures that are trying to live in this yard.  We’ve got two species of lizard here on a daily basis.  They’re small enough to be entertaining and not a threat.  There have been rare snakes, opossums, raccoons, iguanas, and of course neighbor’s cats that come through here.

The cats don’t belong.  If you want a pet, keep them safe inside your home or on a leash.  Can’t manage that, don’t have one.  It keeps them alive longer.

For the most part whenever Rack explores, and I rattle around the plants, we don’t see anything out there.  They hear us and move away.

With all this propagation going on, I’m kept entertained.

Monarch butterflies spot the Mexican Milkweed and eat it all to sticks.  When the sticks get long, and begin to re-leaf, I take cuttings and stick them in pots.  If I get seeds, the park gets them scattered there to return the favor of the original milkweed plants from years back.

Orchid pots are designed to rot away so that the plants can eat the nutrients.  When they do, they need re-potting and you can split the plants into two or more.

Banana trees constantly regrow and are bursting through the pot I have them in.  I’ll need a better solution but frankly unless you want to live in a banana grove that won’t happen.  Pots it will be.  Bananas are growing too, so I’ll have a treat further down the line.

All the while that I am doing that I am being watched.  Granted, there are flocks of feral parrots that fly overhead screeching their call to flock, and a random scrawny squirrel that dines on Palm Nuts out of the trees on the property.  Those squirrels would be laughed at up North.  They’re about half the size of the ones up there.

No, I mean by my own dog Rack.

You see he goes through and does his own plant inspection and waters pots too.  Thankfully not my food crops, but he does have his spots behind the hedges and under the Podocarpus.

Sometimes he’ll want to start running around so I’ll get distracted from considering the pruning of the Condo Mango tree that isn’t supposed to get more than 10 feet tall but is getting close.  Usually we’ll get into our dance where he’ll run around like crazy to burn off steam.  When he does, he will make these sharp turns around the obstacles in the yard at a speed that a hockey player would only dream of, and with grace a ballerina would aspire to.

In a short blast of air, he vanishes into a wormhole and visits his alternate family in the alternate universe.  Coming back out of warp, he slows down to conventional speed and will run around some more.

Meanwhile, I’ve gone back to being boring and puttering around the yard.  Fretting over the black mold that will grow on the concrete in cold seasons, or debating whether to break apart the Lemongrass that is now over 8 feet tall and swaying in the breezes making me want to make Thai food.

This is when I will feel the weight of his eyes.  He will appear.  He will tell me that he wants something else.

Inside.

You see, instead of having a kid running around screaming at me, I have a four footed McNab Dog staring me down.  Smartest of all breeds, along with all the other smart ones, he knows how to get his point across.

If I ignore him, I do so at my own peril.

He was mistreated before I got him.  Most likely removed from his mother too early, and then the first owner tried to convince him to be a hunting dog, he was an owner surrender.  I would say that his allergies to grain and poultry based food had a lot to do with that.  He came to us with worms that had to be treated three times, and a crushing fear of everything that he still shows from time to time.

However, I am his main person.  Wherever he is, he is watching me, or at least where I am.  If I am doing something and he wants a change, I find two brown eyes staring holes through my soul.  He will sit at my feet and block me from moving on.

That is a herding behavior, modified.  As a result of his rough start, his play drive is warped as well as his herding drive.  If we are out and not going where he wants us to, he circles in front of me, looks up, and blocks my path.

Usually I give in, but that cuts my own walk short.

In this case, we’re in the yard. I’ve bored him.  Plants are for peeing on, not for propagating to make fresh herbs for a pizza.

Come on, lets go! I’m Bored! say the brown eyes.

Just like a kid.  “Ok, Rack, Show Me!”.

He trots to the door with a smile on his face.

“Show Me” is something I have always taught dogs.  They can’t talk but they surely are expressive.  They will take you to what they need or what they think you need.  It isn’t always treats, it can be just the door or the leash.  This makes things simple.

It also stops the bored dog by giving him a hand in what he wants to do.

Show Me, indeed.  “Ok Boy, I’m coming, let’s go in.”

“Anybody want to go for a walk?

With an Intelligent Dog, You Get Opinions

I have read that dogs don’t disobey.  They interpret.

You just may not understand how they are interpreting things.

Of course all of that interpretation will change based on where that dog finds himself in a pack.

A dog who is confident will decide that it wants to go for a walk, so it decides it will do so.  Whether it is on its leash or not.

Of course they tend to only do such a thing if they are not getting exercised enough or are deadly bored.

Don’t want your dog to wander off?   Walk him.  Long walks.  Three miles for a dog in a day really isn’t a lot unless you have one of those fussy little things that bark at a leaf moving in the next county or an airplane over head.

That’s your burden.  It still needs a walk.

Beta dogs are a puzzle.  They require careful handling.  After all, they are looking to you for guidance.

Constantly.

Rack is a Beta.  He’s also incredibly intelligent just like any other McNab Dog.  Intelligent breeds are that way.  Anything-Shepard.  Herding Dogs are used for their intelligence because they think.  In a house, they can get bored.   A Beta who is Bored is going to still find things to do and interpret what he thinks the rules are.

Luckily Rack isn’t bored often.  He’s happy to lay down and sleep next to me for most of the day.  My chair that I do most of what ever it is that I actually do is near a window.  I see things that happen, after all it is a busy street.

The other day I saw something go on.  Rack was asleep.  But being a herding dog, it was almost like there was someone whispering in his ear what is going on.

Then I spotted that something.  Could have been anything from the feral ducks to a neighbor getting landscaping to a passer by.

I made the mistake of saying “Oh.”.  Not particularly loudly mind you.  Just a slightly louder than a whisper “Oh.”

Rack had an opinion.  “WOO WOO WOO WOO!”

Standing up, he ran to the front door.  Fur up on his back.  I guess he didn’t like what was going on.

“Damnit Dog, go take a look, there’s nothing out there!”

“WOO! WOO woo grumblegrumble mmm”

The grumbling went on for a bit, then he lay down and go back to sleep.

“Knucklehead”.

I go back to entertaining myself answering emails.  Reading tech websites.  I realize that I have a website that needs attention.  He’s fast asleep and jogging in his sleep.  Alternating between running and wagging his tail.

“Hmm, better log into that site.”
“WOO WOO WOO”  He didn’t like my tone of voice.

“Rack!  Nothings wrong, go look!”

My standard thing is to keep him busy when he’s interpreting what I am going on about.  I won’t tell him to look if there’s a delivery in the area.  That would set him off again.

I get the same cycle of winding down and walking back to his place where he can continue watching me, getting things wrong, sliding into sleep, and wagging his tail.

When he’s not doing dippy things, he’s actually very quiet in the house.  But twice a day…

You see, the UPS truck comes through the neighborhood every afternoon and that would set him off.

Opinions.  Interpretations.  Two Plus Two are Five.

That’s what you get with an intelligent dog.  A Police Officer who worked with dogs once told me “On their best day, they’re still a dog”.  I can see that.  They just don’t always get it right.

But, I can easily tell him to walk around in the front yard to dry off his feet after I wash them at the end of a walk.  Even if his best dog friend the giant Rottweiler named “D.O.G.” is out there.

Yes, D.O.G., and no I don’t know what Double-Oh styled agency that he’s a part of or what it is short for.  It’s just 165 pounds of mostly black love sponge who whines at me from across the street.  And yes, he interprets as well since that whine is him saying come on over I am lonely.

Weirdly, Rack is now comfortable enough with that that he hasn’t taken the Once Around The Car “Walk in the Grass” order as being conditional and up for interpretation, but who knows.

After all, on his best day, he’s still a dog.

Morning Tummy Rubs Are The Best

Anyone who has the pleasure of having a McNab Dog in their life knows the position.

On their backs, spine curled, one or more legs in the air, exposing their belly for all to see.

Have you no shame, Sir?

Nah.  Why?  It’s tummy rub time.

Actually in this case, it’s an every morning thing.  Even before I get out of bed, I am leaning over and rubbing a tummy.  The lights then get turned on, and the abbreviated morning routine happens.  Coming back into the bedroom, if he gets up, as soon as the door to the bathroom opens, he’s back down on the floor preparing to roll back up into his bendy self.

It is a comically common position with Rack, my McNab SuperDog (TM).

He does it anywhere he thinks he’ll get attention.  He has also fallen asleep under my hand while I was rubbing that tummy so I must be doing it right.

If he isn’t sleeping on his back, he’s bent into a dogball with his head on his tail.  It isn’t that he does that to keep warm, I live in Florida.

South Florida.

You know, below the Freeze Line?  Boca Raton gets temperatures down to 32.  The coldest it has been since I moved here was 34.  That’s 1C for those Metricated people out there.

He will do that in winter, summer, no matter when.  If he gets too warm being curled up in his bed, he’s going to come out and sprawl out on the Terrazzo floor and curl up there.

Bendy Dogs will do that.

Comically so.  In fact, those of us who follow the breed have decided that our bendy dog is normal, it’s a trait, even if he’s being visited by a parrot who may want to try to take over his crate.

Oh sure, they can flatten out like any other dog.  If they act like they are made out of latex, rubber bands, springs,  bits of string and other things that stretch and bend, they will sprawl out on the floor.  In fact I do believe that they will deflate partially, lowering their internal air pressure by half like I did when I used to take my Jeep off road in the New Jersey Pine Barrens near Chatsworth.

So I have an off road dog.   Wouldn’t be the first.  Lettie did it as well.  When she got older, she stopped bending so much and would be solar powered, letting her mostly black fur soak up as much sun as possible, recharging her for later.

But she used to sleep in a ball just like Rack does.  Like I said, it’s a breed trait, and an amusing one at that.

I guess it is one of those things to watch for.  As time goes by, Rack will choose to recharge in the sun, flatten out and stop his bendy ways but I bet he’ll always roll up for a tummy rub when it’s available.

And even when it is not.