Category Archives: Pets

I have finally accepted the truth

Other doggy parents will feel joy I will never experience.

It is inescapable now. Otto the rescue pitbull does not like bacon.

I was making breakfast for dinner tonight, and fried up some bacon. When it was done I took a piece out to let it cool on a paper towel. 

I gave it to Otto and he, as he always does with any particularly messy food, carried it into the living room to eat on the new rug. I thought nothing of it.

Then I walked into the living room a few minutes later and there it was. Sitting there, untouched on the carpet. Mocking me.

The uneaten bacon.

I tried everything. I desperately offered it to him again as he was sleeping on the sofa. He turned up his nose then looked away.

I pulled out the big guns. I acted like I was eating it, making “nom, nom, nom” sounds and saying “Mmmm, DELICIOUS!” like I do right before he rejects yet another expensive  doggy treat and then eats some poop.

Nothing. He just looked at me, yawned and then licked his rope toy.

A rope toy? Over bacon?

You turn it over in your mind. Where did I go wrong?

There were signs I ignored. He would not take bacon-flavored treats. He did not like Pupperoni.

I should have known. But I was in denial.

Where did I go wrong? Did I love him too much? Did I love him not enough?

What will the other parents at the dog park say?

“His dog does not like bacon. Also he doesn’t use biodegradable waste disposal bags.”

The words ring in my ears.

I don’t want to talk about it.

I will post a vague reference on Facebook to something being wrong and hope nobody takes that extra step of asking, “What happened? Are you OK?”

The world seems off-kilter right now.

Bad kitty!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate it.

And to all my cat lover friends and followers.

A new chew toy!

(Part of an ongoing series of posts about my life as the new daddy of Otto, the rescue pitbull mix.)

What it is about bringing new toys home to your dog that is so enjoyable?

I suppose just the happiness it brings you to see them enjoying themselves.

With Otto it has also been waiting to see whether he would sniff it, taste it and then walk away bored no matter how much you tried to get him to become interested in most toys.

Otto is a bit of toy snob. He just can’t be bothered with balls (boring!) and the kinds of toys for which many dogs go nuts. He won’t chase anything on its own. Throw a ball and he looks the other way.

He likes stuffed toys with squeakers, but has the stuffing and squeaker removed so quickly that I stopped getting them for him.

It is said by many who love them that it is an almost universal trait that pibbles love to play tug-of-war and this is definitely Otto’s favorite game. Whether it’s with a rope or strip of canvas (or his leash when I am trying to walk him) he never tires of any kind of tug of war.

So I keep my eye out for different kinds of rope toys which look solid enough and have some sort of rubber ball or similar object attached with which he can occupy himself.

I ran across this one today which is almost all rope. He loves it. 

Which is great, because you have to keep those doggy minds occupied as much as possible if they are to be happy and out of mischief. It’s also satisfies their need to chew on things that are hopefully not your shoes and furniture

Chewing is one of the major reasons why dogs are given up for adoption or abandoned, so if you can learn to constructively deal with the problem you’ve won a major battle.

I knew this about dogs, but did not realize how central giving them things to chew on (some breeds more than others) is to their well-being and happiness. 

This toy bills itself as virtually indestructible. We’ll see. I’ll give it less than an hour before Otto has it at least partially destroyed. The only thing he never eventually destroys is his rubber Kong.

Such is life with a beloved pibble!

$12.99 at Target! Don’t spend too much on most toys unless they have stellar reviews on, say, Amazon where many people say they last a long time.

Otto with his new toy.

 

And now, a puppy break

Oh, man, is this not the most adorable neediness you’ve seen in a while?

Dog mysteries: puddles vs. poo

Some things Otto does make no sense. But they don’t have to because he’s a dog. And we love them anyway, right?

Otto graduates to his harness for walks

Otto in harness
Otto (and his ever-present tongue)  looking great in his red-and-black harness, which he now seems to able to use on walks no problem.

(Another in a series on my life as a first-time owner of a rescue pit bull.)

When I first adopted Otto from Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC), the Chicago municipal shelter, I bought a harness for him and it turned out to be a bit of disaster on walks.

Otto was a problem dog on walks. He was not socialized well. He lunged at everything. Other dogs. Adults. And, most frightfully, little children. He was also a terrible ambassador for pit bulls, only reinforcing in the minds of all we met on his walks that pit bulls were scary dogs. (Any dog can be scary if they are not socialized well, BTW.)

I thought a harness would give me more control and calm him down, but that is not the way the harness worked in the real world. Just as with a plain old collar, Otto pulled and tugged and struggled to get at other people and dogs while wearing a harness. The harness gave me some measure of control over him which exceeded a plain collar, but did not seem to lessen the lunging behavior. Its advantage over a choke collar seemed to be only that: he was not choking himself while lunging. But walks were still a headache for Otto and me, and scary for my neighbors.

Reluctantly, I considered a training collar, which is a collar with (in my case) smooth plastic teeth which face a dog’s neck. So while the collar is designed not to close past a certain point so as to choke a dog, the teeth do dig into a dog’s neck if they pull too hard. Some “dog people” oppose them reflexively. But if you have a dog with whom you lose control because of aggressive behavior, you run the risk of that dog being labeled as vicious (or worse) and the authorities in Chicago will take that dog away.

So I tried a training collar that a friend gave me.

It worked. And it’s been working since I first put it on him. After a short time he adjusted to it and just never pulled past a certain point. Otto started to find his equilibrium on walks. He still pulled, but pulled less all the time. 

Today, five months later, I decided to switch Otto’s training collar for that harness I bought. We went on our longest walk ever.

He was great. Never lunged one time at anyone and walked in the same relaxed, controlled manner that he showed when he had been walking with the training collar.

An added thing to celebrate: when I first adopted Otto he was so skinny! Life in a shelter did not agree with him, I suspect because he was not getting the 24-hour loving he craves so much. The harness I bought was too loose even when it was adjusted to its smallest size.

Today the harness fit perfectly (as you can see from the above photo) and my little voracious eater has grown so much I hadn’t even noticed until I put the formerly too loose harness on him. In fact, I may need to buy a harness a size larger as he is almost to the point of outgrowing this one.

Patience and consistency in training. Those are the keys to life with a happy, loving pit bull. 

Keep at it. Don’t give up. If I can do it, you can, too.

The training collar I used for Otto, given to me by a friend. Click on the pic to go to the page where you can buy one.

A Valentine’s poem

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
You pee on the flowers, 
And poop on my shoe.
 

And I can’t imagine my life without you, buddy!

 Happy Valentine Day, everyone!

Otto, my pitbull rescue dog.

 

 

Otto at Lake Michigan

Otto on this morning’s walk. He’s still a little scared of Lake Michigan. We’ll change that this summer.

Good dog!

Helping another struggling dog in the water.

Things certified cat behaviorists say

So I ran across this article online:

Those empty boxes may be trash to you, but your cat can’t get enough of them. What’s up with Fluffy’s affinity for cardboard castles?

There are several reasons why cats love boxes, but the big one is safety and security, says Marilyn Krieger, a certified cat behavior consultant and owner of TheCatCoach.com.

Boxes are like Winterfell! Casterly Rock! The Wall! But for cats!

I knew it! I totally got this one, people.

Who certifies cat behaviorists? Is it expensive? Is it difficult to get certified? Is the process certified by some questionable accreditation organization that seems to accredit just about anybody? Do they take advantage of have special programs for military veterans?

I know tons about cats*, and not because I can, you know, read cat minds. I just know things. I know a lot of things. Terrific things. The greatest things. The best things you can know about cats? I know.

“Mr. Cat Behaviorist, why did my cat piss in the bed and shit in my slippers?

“Because he is angry at you.”

“Angry at me for what?”

“How the hell do I know? That wasn’t part of my certification. Next!”

See? I feel as if I am at least halfway to certification already.

*Although there was that time I bought my male cat one of those motorized, battery-driven automatic cat pooper scooper litter boxes. Except my cat kept urinating not in the litter, but directly onto the battery compartment, shorting it out and eventually ruining the $100-plus contraption.

You ever tried cleaning cat piss out of a battery compartment? Not pretty.

I never did figure that one out. Perhaps that issue is covered in one of the advanced cat behavior courses.

Source: Why Do Cats Like Boxes? | PawCulture

A cat in her cat fort. May or may not be an actual pet cat. Actors may have been used.