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.

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How Do You Know Whether To Syringe Feed Your Dog Or Stop

Of all the things I wrote on this blog, the one that really grabs hold of me and forces me to think, critically, it was the time I wrote about Syringe Feeding my dog Lettie near the end of her life.

I made decisions, some were right, some were “right for me”.

It has been four years since, and I’m right around the anniversary that day that we let her go.  In fact, one day past.  April 11, 2013.

Yesterday, coincidentally, I got a comment on that posting from Holly.

My 16 yr old , rat terrier , Aggie, was diagnosed with renal issues by the ER vet on Sunday. She wanted me to put her down and when I didn’t agree, she sent me home with medication for her nausea and iron supplements. I will say they did give her subcutaneous IV fluids. I was provided a leaflet and told not to feed her protein….try oatmeal. I took her to my vet today and we have a plan. She is end stage, but at least he is trying to see if we can get her numbers down. I am feeding her via syringe with Hills A/D. He has started her on a phosphorous binder, antibiotic and more fluids. Thank you for your article. It’s calming to listen to others who understand the love we share for these creatures who only love us unconditionally.

Remember, I am not a Vet.  I’m just some blogger sitting in a chair in South Florida writing about my own experiences…

However.

I will say that everything that the vet told Holly was true to what I was told.  Low Protein, Low everything.  I had to wonder what on earth Lettie was getting in the prescription food.

This is basically what happened before mankind discovered Dialysis.  You flush the body with IV fluids, mostly water, to get the things out of the body that the body considers waste.  Dialysis machines are frighteningly expensive, and here in the US in this day and age, it’s well known how obscenely expensive health care is, let alone sending your dog or cat through this treatment.

Then you get a reprieve.

We went through three cycles.  You will know when it is time to stop.  Lettie told me.

Lettie was a McNab and Border Collie cross.   She had The Eye of a BC, but the webbed and cat like feet of a McNab.  She also knew how to get her point across.  Through the feedings she never bit.  I tried all sorts of foods to try to keep her energy up.  Finally one Friday morning, I knew.

Lettie stopped eating, looking at me, she stepped away from the syringe.

A Herding Dog can understand a lot more of your language, body and verbal, than you would realize.  I asked her if she wanted more.

A dog looking away but not walking away spoke volumes.  It was her saying “I’ve had it, I will do it if you want, but I don’t think it is for the best.”

That was the day that I made arrangements.

I had bought her fully almost a year.  The last month was for me to get ready.  It was time, I knew it too.

So that’s the thing.  You have to really KNOW your pet.  They do love you unconditionally, even if you’re not doing right by them.

It will test you and your resolve.  They may be a bad candidate for this treatment.  Dogs or cats may scratch or snap or just otherwise back away.

Some people are wrong for this – their view is that “the dog is just a pet”.  I will hold back comment on that mind set.

It is a lot of prep work to feed your pet this way.  Not for everyone.  It was for me.

In the end, you will make your own decision, and it will be right.  No judgement.  Especially if you try and don’t manage to get the feedings to work.

Lettie understood all this.  She taught me when it was time, and she told me when she was done.

By going through the treatment, you are buying time.  You are purifying the blood of a dog under Renal Failure.  You are partially resetting the clock, but you can’t completely replace what is lost.  All this will weaken them, but it will buy time.

Bottom line, yes, I absolutely would do this again.

Two weeks after I lost Lettie, I was told by someone who is very close to me this:

“Bill, it hurts too much, give another dog a chance, Lettie would want that.”

I did.  Rack is here at my right elbow while I am writing.  He is his own challenge with all his fear issues, but at four years on, we’re learning.

So I have a feeling I have around 10 to 12 years more with him learning me.  Why not, Lettie did.   She was a dog of a lifetime. She knew what I was up to at any given moment.

 

Rack? Yes, he knows that I don’t give him an ice cube until the second time I make coffee so don’t beg until then.

Good luck with your feedings.  Buy the time.  It is worth it.

If you’ll excuse me now, I have to give a very good dog a cookie.

McNab Dogs Are Just Too Polite

I don’t really have a dog.  I have a shadow.

Rack is my rescue.  Actually his full name is Rack The McNab SuperDog (TM).  He told me to put that TM there.  I’m on the fence about that.

Thing is that I’ll be in a room doing my thing and I notice he’s watching.  The bedroom door is across from the bathroom.  His mat sits there so he can watch both.

I’ll get up off my chair doing whatever it is that I do in the course of the day and wander into either room.  Do my thing, and turn around and there’s a mostly black with white accents dog looking back under all seeing brown eyes.

Watching.

If I happen to go into that bathroom in this little house and close the door, and I do close the door if there are other humans here as a polite man is wont to do, Rack will make his presence known.

He’s worried that I may Fall In.  I hear paws on the tiles. Walking.  Pacing.  Back and forth.  Too long sequestered, I have heard some gentle little whining at the door.

Watching.

This particular day was a very active one.  My normal routine was a bit upset.  You see my elbow got hurt.  If you have a foam mattress you may find yourself in the same position.  In my case, I was in a bowl.  Sleeping on that foam mattress, I found myself sinking down into it slowly until when I wake.  My elbow was hyper-extended by sinking so I will try to re-position.  Back to sleep.  Elbow wakes me up in pain again.  It got to the point where my elbows were both in pain all day.

I went to get a new mattress.  It was not an option, but a requirement.

I put this new one on the bed and flattened it out.

Mind you I am a very creative person.  I realized that inside the old mattress was one inch of memory foam and another five or so inches of upholstery foam.  I started carving it into shapes for future pillows and so forth filling the master bedroom with oblongs and rectangular shapes, odd specks of foam hitting the floor and bouncing over the distance to land near Rack’s nose.

Yes, he came in and was busy watching me make a mess of things.

I realized it.  He was doing his job.

He also has a bed.  That bed needs to be replaced a good six or seven times over.  Sure, he has mats that I can toss in the washer on Hot Wash Day to kill whatever is inside, but he prefers this slightly bowl shaped contraption that is a hand-me-down from a long since moved away neighbor who insisted that Rack would like it.

I got the bright idea to take some of the smaller scraps and filled the dog bed with it.  Eventually he will learn to like it as he melts over the side in a position that only a Bendy McNab Dog would enjoy.  Never complaining, melting over the side like a Salvador Dali painting of an impossible clock, he would find a new position.

All the while I was breaking the one cardinal rule of having a herding dog.  I was changing routine.  Listening to a radio station called 4TO in Townsville, Australia for their coverage of Cyclone Debbie, they sounded the hour.  I looked at the clock here and realized that it was already Noon.

Lunch would be late.  I had to make a pot of rice and warm the curry.

Putting the rice cooker back on, I looked around and realized that he had moved into the kitchen and was watching for some food.

“Sorry Rack, chicken makes you sick and this curry has onion in it.”

I got a disappointed look and he circled around to lay down, Sphinx-like from the little hallway.

 

Once the rice was on, I asked “What is it, Rack?  Show me!  Show me what you want!”

Nose in the air, I responded “Sorry, boy not for dogs.  How about something else.  Come here!”

Gently, he padded across the tiles on his cat like feet and wagged his tail at me.  I bent down to his ear and whispered the magic word:  “Yogurt.”

Got a solid wag there.  Never a bark, those are reserved for the intruders like UPS Guys and those rather insistent Duck that roam the yard.  I started to pour out the yogurt, he was going to get a treat…

OOPS!  A solid pint of home made plain yogurt?  This should be interesting.

I set him back on his way.  He downed the yogurt as I went back to stuffing his bed.

The rice cooker, later, snapped to the finished position.  I put the curried chicken on top and sat down at the little rolling table.  Rack was well tall enough to be able to bend down to eat right off that plate, but no, he got a conversation instead.

“Rack, you know this is chicken and onion!  Curry is too spicy for you.  Not for dogs, I’m sorry”.

I got the most plaintive look back from him.

“Rack it will turn you into a soft serve dispenser.  Let’s not have any of this here.”

Sad expectant look walked away slowly.  I was able to finish the plate of Chicken and Chick Peas, Onions, Sauce, Peanuts and Rice without an issue.

Watching.

Of course he was.  That’s his job.  Me.

If anyone tells you that you can’t have a McNab dog in the city, just tell them that they simply need a job.  You can be their job.  Best job a dog ever had.

Oh!  And as for the beds?  Both are fine.  My new one helped my elbows out greatly, it’s amazing what a good mattress will do for your back too!  Rack is still on the fence about it, but I took a giant cartoonish kitchen knife and cut the foam inserts I made down to one half thickness.  He’s on the bed now.

Winter in Florida and The Dogs Are Prepared

It was scheduled last week on Friday.

I hear we may be getting more this week.

By “Winter” I mean temperatures in the 50s.

That would be a low of between 10 and 15C for my international readers.

If you live in South Florida, have a pool, have social and intelligent dogs that follow you around every day, watch your Iced Tea.

This was an older picture.  That’s Lettie who passed a couple years back.  I was going through my pictures and she popped out at me.  It’s pretty much what I go through though.

You see that small area is a spa, or hot tub, and we rarely use it.  The heater takes hours to get it to a nice comfy 104F/40C and we settle for 95F/35C.  That last 5C is a killer.

I’ve sat in that spa at oddball times of the day and night.  Days are better since you can see the mosquitoes to swat at them.  Night is more comfortable since the air is cooler, and that is of course quite relative.

Lately thought it is just something for my dog, Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) to leap over when he’s

excitedly running circles around the yard and the pool and out to the portal in the front gate to see who is there.

Portals help.  It entertains the dog.  Entertained dogs are good dogs.  Herding dogs need to be mentally stimulated just like they need to be able to run off some of that energy from time to time.

Lettie used to have a portal that I created in the Laundry Room door.  It was completely frosted glass panes and Jalousie windows, since replaced.  I removed two of the slats at the bottom and replaced them with clear panes so she could go out there and watch the world.

Trust me she did.

She’s gone, the door was replaced with fully frosted impact glass, and Rack has the front door to look out of anyway.

Things certainly change in five years.  The weather is about to change.  And for now, Rack’s happy to watch out the front door.   He watches for his favorite people, and whines quietly as they walk past.  He also gets all bent out of shape when any sort of delivery comes through.  I think that is a requirement of Dog.  When Dog is selected and the soul inhabits the creature, there is a little subroutine written.  Delivery Truck requires Alert.  Luckily, Herding Dogs are easy to train and a simple “Go Look!” works.

No, nobody is out there, is there?

But that would be a story for a different day wouldn’t it?

Rack Convinces Me To Play – Video

Every so often I get the urge to shoot video.

This blog is very Photography Heavy, but it all comes from the same camera.  The trusty Samsung Galaxy S4.

I do video so infrequently that I had to find all the bits and pieces that I used last time to generate the files.  Luckily Linux simply updated everything for me and it Just Worked Just Like The Last Time.

Anyway, enough boring stuff huh?

Lately I’d go out back to do the Morning Inspection.  Happens right around 7:30AM.  I’m due for the second mug of coffee, Rack is due to water a Palm Tree or three.  Once that is done, I get herded.  He wants to play.

Before it was him going around the yard at lightning fast speed.  Now, he’s more interactive and more assertive.   For a dog who was completely “shut down” when I got him, I’ll put up with the assertions.

Oh, and he’s finding his voice, Finally.  After three and a half years.  Give or take a bit.

 

You will see what I mean.  Safe for all viewers.  Goofy for them too.

Now, if you want to see it, it’s in full HD on Youtube, and here is the direct link.

Rack the McNab Superdog (TM) Discovers the Cat Door

The hardest part of having a smart dog in your life is keeping their mind occupied.

We have all heard the stories of someone who has a Border Collie that goes everywhere with them.  The dog is perfect, goes where you tell them, knows when to back away from an encounter, and does all sorts of tricks that will blow your mind.

You probably have heard about someone hearing that story and thought “I want that”, and proceeds to make their lives miserable because they really don’t want to put the time into the dog that they deserve.

They – because it really is a partnership.

Now, I don’t have a Border Collie.  BC’s are great dogs, but they’re a bit “twitchy”.  Always on, a BC doesn’t know how to relax.

I have a McNab Dog.  They do know how to relax.  That is probably why the breed works so well with me.  I give my boy Rack, just like I did my departed Lettie before him, jobs.  He knows that there will always be praise or sometimes a treat after a well done job, but the whole “Lets Make The Human Do Things” doesn’t work well with me.

I’ve described him as my Business Analyst to my own Project Manager.   Go find the problem and report back and I’ll tell you what to do.

So running around the yard one day, he found a problem.  Someone was in the driveway.

We were in the back yard, and he was getting all excited.  Did another circuit of the pool, ran up to me and sat down.

“What is it Rack, show me!”

He stood up and ran to the gate to the front yard.   We have six foot fencing around the property to stop people from turning the pool into their own private spa.

It was a breezy day that day. Winds coming in from the ocean were making the palm trees sway.  They were feeling good on the skin, and would tousle your hair with a soft caress that you just don’t get in a cold climate.

 

At this time, Rack was startled by something.  I watched from the entry to the pool equipment, a good 15 feet, 5 meters behind.  It is a narrow corridor between the house and the property fence.  The air gets funneled between the area and that day blew out the plank that serves as a cat door.

He backed up.
“What’s the matter, Boy?  Go look!”

He looked back at me as if to say, “you’re kidding me, boss”.

“Go on!  Look!”

The wind was blowing the cat door out toward the yard.  He stuck his nose through it.  That was enough.  He discovered a portal to the outside world.

He also discovered that one of his very favorite people, Kevin, was standing in the driveway chattering away on the phone.

That just would not do.  Rack pulled back.  Looked back at me as if to say “Hey, Boss, can you let me out?”

Nope.  You need your boundaries just like the best trained McNab Dog out there.  That’s your task, watch but do not get involved.

He went back to looking through the cat door and wagging his tail.  He also had a new toy.

We all have a routine.  If someone pulls into the driveway, we hear it from the back yard.  I can also see what is in the driveway through the bougainvillea in the back and out the front windows.  I know just where to stand and can get Rack his exercise when he runs around the pool, behind the shed, and out the wormhole to the alternate dimension where his alternadog family lives on the other world.

He still visits them from time to time, using time and space dilation to jump the light years across the multiverse where he is the Emperor of the McNab Universe.

But here, he is content to run back around the shed, and down the corridor to the cat door where he can watch you and I and the rest of the world.

It is indeed a good time to be a dog.

A Morning Gift, Or Not All Of The Creatures Up Before Dawn Are To Be Avoided

Wandering through the heart of Wilton Manors means walking through an area that other people consider their playground.

It’s my neighborhood, you don’t live here, you’re borrowing it.

I’m up at stupid O’Clock.  That varies between 4:45AM and if I really am sleeping in, as late as 7AM.  One of us will get me up typically before 6 but it is almost like I set the alarm for 4:45.

Two solid hours before sunrise.

That means that some of the creatures of the night are not yet gone.  No, Wilton Manors isn’t that edgy or dangerous, it’s that people have a habit of lingering after the bar closes. If there’s a problem here, it is almost always due to an outsider coming in.

Typical for a resort.

So I watch as we walk.  Being up that early means I am out before the beginning of rush hour walking Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM).  It benefits him as he’s still quite fearful and afraid of things like traffic, the 50 Bus, and the beater of a minivan that the newspaper delivery folks tend to use to drop off the morning dailies.

At 5:15AM there is very light traffic, and that’s just enough to keep the dog alert without being wrenched out of his mind due to a stream of cars.

This one particular morning was an odd one.  There were leftovers in the bar parking lot having a party.  Salsa music floated out of a car and I caught random snippets of a conversation in Spanish, but not enough that I could completely understand.

Walking further south on Wilton Drive, the Fort Lauderdale police cars were servicing their normal Donut Emergency speeding north with the lights flashing.  They turned into the Courtyard Cafe and went for their breakfast.  Why they need to speed like that I have no idea but I do plan to have a talk with the chief of police next time I see him about this.  It’s a two or three time a week occurence.

I was awakened from my own reverie by a flash and a friendly wave.  One of the patrolmen on our own Wilton Manors PD were waving a hello and a quick burst from their lights.  Nice folks on duty here.

We have a long daily walk to start the day.  I’m out more than an hour most mornings.  A two mile walk with a dog can be a half hour or it can be two hours.  It all depends on how much there is to sniff and whether the walk itself slid late and I’m running into local friends to chat with.

Yeah, I can run at the mouth.

But right in the middle of Wilton Drive, in a traffic lane, there was a woman in a silver VW Jetta.  She was waving at me.

Now, being used to the creatures of the night, I am wary.

She got out of the car.  It was stopped in the traffic lane.  I was amused and relieved when she got out of the car in a black lace baby doll shirt and some rather short shorts.  There was no way she could have been hiding anything in all that lace.

I heard her story:

“Excuse me, but I want to give you something!”

That’s new.  I’m watching traffic approach from the north.

“You see I have some things.  I had a dog that I had to give up because my landlord won’t allow dogs.  I have a little Yorkie and I have to rehome him for a while.”

I’m thinking that I’m about to be given a dog by a random woman dressed in a baby doll shirt.  “But ma’am…”

She continues:

“So I have all these treats and I want to pass them onto someone who has a dog while I figure out what to do about my Yorkie.”  She opens the back door in a swift moment and starts looking through her packages.  I notice that her shorts were quite short indeed, but nothing out of the ordinary in Florida in August.

She pulls out a bag of treats and a small container of dog food.  Rack immediately stops being afraid and realizes that this could be good for him.  “I have some goodies.  Don’t worry, they’re all still sealed!  Can I pet your dog?”

“Sure if he will let you, he’s very fearful…”

Rack let her pet him but not too much. A truck sped by and he flattened out on the pavement.

“Aww, he really is afraid.  Enjoy these!  I really wanted someone who had a dog who treated them right to get them and you two looked like you were having fun on the walk!  Take care, bye!”

“Thanks, that was truly nice of you!  Thanks again, we will enjoy it!”

Needless to say I was bemused.  The package of dog treats and the small container of food were perfectly sealed, so Rack will get some treats.

It isn’t every day that you get stopped by a stranger in a major city to be given treats for your dog!