Monday, May 24, 2010

Dog Park Bliss

After reading Brad Pattison Unleashed, I felt it was time to take my boys to the dog park.  Gabe has not been well socialized and it became a Catch-22.  He wasn't socialized because I was scared to take him to the dog park, but because I was scared to take him, he wasn't socialized.  I had hoped that obedience classes would help (we went when he was 3), but the instructor didn't really care about socializing his class (meanwhile, in the puppy class next door, all the little ones were chasing each other and tumbling around, making friends).

Gabe was my main concern, but I also worried about Archie.  He spooks easily and doesn't listen to me when he's in that scary place in his mind.  He was also a fence-jumper when he first joined our family, determined to see the world, and I'm not convinced that wanderlust is totally eradicated.

However, Brad Pattison makes strong arguments for taking your dogs to the dog park.  His arguments make sense, and it was something I've always wanted to do .... I just didn't have the confidence - in myself, or in my dogs.

My worries were largely for naught.  Gabe barks a bit when we get there. I think it's mostly excitement, "Whoo hoo!  I'm here!  I'm really here!"  His fur stands up sometimes when dogs sniff him up, but he pretty much puts up with it.  He even put up with a very rude pit bull that was absolutely determined to hump him.  (Gabe was extremely embarassed by this, sitting down and hunching up, looking sheepish - his body language was clear, even to me!) 

Archie was not impressed the first few times we went.  He kept running back to the gate, wanting to go home.  He doesn't do that anymore, but he certainly sticks close by.  And, both of them give me no attitude when it's home time - in fact, they usually head to the gate before I do.

I'm proud of my boys - and you know what?  I'm proud of me too.  I regret that it took us this long to do it, but now that we're there, we're not turning back.

(It's windy on top of the hill!)

Happy puppies!

We went again this weekend, and met up with Annie and her family. Annie was a foster beagle who lived with us from November 2008 to April 2009. It was lovely to see her and her people, and her brother Zeus too :-)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dogs on Thursday ~ Brothers

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review ~ Brad Pattison Unleashed

With my last review, I met my goal of reading and reviewing 13 books in one year for John Mutford's Great Canadian Book Challenge.  When you've got another great Canadian dog book just waiting to be reviewed there's nothing for it but to plow ahead and make it to number 14.

I had been planning on buying Brad Pattison Unleashed anyway, and when Brad posted on his facebook page that he would be autographing copies of the book that were ordered directly from him, I jumped at the chance for a very small brush with fame.  My book arrived inscribed, "Enjoy the book Jacki ~ Have a great day.  Cheers, Brad Pattison."  Coolness!

Autograph aside, the book is awesome. Here at Gabe n Arch, we're giving it 8 paws up and some tail wags too.  It's a nice little physical specimen, without the quality issues that I noted in Pattison's Synergy.  The book is really well written and very forcefully projects Brad's voice, clearly recognizable from the way he speaks on his television program, At the End of my Leash.  Brad the Author once again seems much more approachable and less abrasive than Brad the TV Guy.  He is someone I would love to sit down and chat with.  Brad is funny and insightful, and most of all he is passionate about doing it right.  Some people might argue that his methods are not the best, but the book is persuasive.  I think by the time you're finished reading it, you'll be nodding your head and thinking, "by golly, this guy is onto something!"

The book goes over the same lessons we've seen in the tv show and in Synergy - replace treat training with umbilical training, get the dogs off the furniture, no talking, and lots of physical and mental activity; gradually working up to the ultimate doggie reward, off-leash freedom.  Common issues like how to choose a puppy, house training, and how to introduce a second dog to your household are addressed.

Something I've never seen addressed in the tv show (though, granted, I've not seen every episode) is Brad's take on shelter dogs.  Brad says, "I have mixed thoughts about shelters," and goes on to say that about 40% of his workload involves shelter dogs.  I know from experience that shelter dogs are not baggage-free.  They are a lot of work.  But they're there, and they need someone to love.  Earlier in the book, Brad points out that only 16% of dogs sent to shelters are actually adopted out.  That's about the saddest thing I've ever heard.  I'd love to learn how we can improve those numbers.  Nowhere in the book does it talk about fixing your dog, and that seems like a big first step to me.  What else can I do - beyond committing to my two rescues - to stop 5 million dogs and cats from being euthanized annually? (US figure) Someone that loves dogs as much as Brad clearly does must have thoughts on this.

Part of the answer is to commit to your own dog.  Don't get a dog without giving it a lot of thought, and once you have a canine member in your household, give him the love and training that he needs.  So people, buy the book, read it, love it.  And most of all, embrace it.  I'm still slacking off on umbilical, but we did try the hide-and-seek game tonight.  We all had a blast.  We're working up the courage to try the dog park next ....

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Natural Tick Repellent

A friend of mine forwarded a CBC news story about ticks arriving early in our part of the world this year.  Thankfully, Gabe has only ever gotten two ticks in his six years on this planet; and Archie has never gotten any.  Still, time to break out the tick repellent!

I have been buying Hartz UltraGuard Plus for a long time, even though it makes me uneasy.  Have you ever gotten that stuff on your own skin?  It feels cold and tingly for hours, not a comfortable feeling.  And, since I wash my hands much more often than my boys get washed, I have no idea how long the cold, tingly feeling lasts for them.  And what if they accidentally get some in their mouths when they're wrestling with each other or something?  Although I'm generally not keen on chemicals, my stance is that some are a necessary evil.  In this case, it's not so much that I was against applying chemicals to their skin as knowing what it felt like to have it on my own skin.

So, I googled, and I found a recipe for a natural tick repellent that has been amended and reposted to a few different sites:

2 tablespoons nut oil (I used almond oil)
10-25 drops rose geranium or palmarosa essential oil (I used palmarosa)

Pour into a glass jar or bottle and shake well.  Re-apply a couple drops to your dog's collar about once a week.  I'll let you know how it works out!