Bewooty!

We met this bi-eyed bewooty today at the beach today! Her name is Katinka and she’s barely 2 years old. Incredibly tolerant, Loki just chilled as she flirted shamelessly with the cracker, trying to steal a kiss or give him a tap on the snooter. Continue reading “Bewooty!”

Happy Loki-versary!

Happy Gotchya Day to our best friend and family member. You had a ruff start in life. Numerous families. Nobody understood you. For the first five or six years, we sensed you were always wondering when, not if, you would be kicked out. Eleven years later, you’re still with us. “They” told me to give you back. That you were too much dog for me. Thank dog we listened to our hearts. “They” were blind. They could not see the potential in you nor your intense desire to do the right thing. We not only saw that potential and insane drive to work, we reveled in the marvel of what would become the dog who saved our home from burning down, chased away numerous vicious dogs and wildlife, nightly-patrolled our fences and doors, and yes, even guarded against the justifiably-uninvited person or two. I’ll never forget the day you wouldn’t let me go to bed because I left the garden door open. You always have my back, even for the smallest things. Daddy-O, you’ve earned your wisdom whiskers. If not for your ruff start, then certainly for the patience you showed with me as I slowly learned “loki-speak” so I could give you what you needed to become the ridiculous but brilliant, brave but afraid of flies, serious but silly dog you are today. You’re the cheese Big Boy. The man. Our best friend and family member. We love you to the moon and back. You are the light of our lives. Happy 12 years young and 11 year Gotchya day Loki!

 

Yesterday…Today

Yesterday:

“Sigh. Life is hard. Especially when my body guard is in the shop getting his smile brightened. I have nobody to protect my jodhpurs and gum drop nose. If woo could only recognize how hard this is for me, it would be so much easier for woo, Momma.” Continue reading “Yesterday…Today”

Dear Diary, Nothing New Happened

If you were to take a peek into my teenage diary, you would find about 360 pages of “Dear diary, Nothing new happened today.” The other 5 pages might read what I got for Christmas or a grade on a test and talk about how wildly unfair the teacher was.  Sadly, my teenage writer’s block was profoundly more prolific than my adult writer’s block. At least it had four words. Six if you count “dear diary.” Continue reading “Dear Diary, Nothing New Happened”

Happy Loki-versary!

This weekend marked Loki’s 9th year with us and roughly his 10th (maybe 11th) birthday. Time sure flies when you live with a cracker. He’s been our greatest teacher, our best friend, our most loyal companion.

This is the photo that melted my heart. When I called AHAN, the rescue, they literally said, “I’m not sure he’s suitable for a home because he’s a biter. He may have to go to dog sanctuary.” Thank goodness for his foster who worked with him on his less desirable behaviors. She sold with the words: “He really wants to do the right thing.” Those words were never truer.

The first two years with him felt like a constant struggle. A dog with a very high working drive and a high anxiety drive can be a challenge to someone who never worked with a high working drive dog let alone one with anxiety. I don’t know what changed between us, and how handling him became so much easier. Perhaps it was when I changed from trying to physically control him to working hands-off with his drives and needs rather than against them. Sometimes people look at this as “cross over training” in the dog training world. I developed a very hands-off approach to handling him and it’s worked out better than I could imagine. Teaching your dog to think and make decisions goes a long way in developing a trusting, confident dog. As much as I joke about managing my dogs with an “iron skillet,” with a dog as strong, powerful and intelligent as Loki, you can’t win through physical force. Getting him to use his head to make decisions and let him freely control his own body was the key to him becoming more balanced and less anxious.

Every night, before dinner, he goes out to the dog run and patrols the fence, preemptively barking at the wild life (we get lots of coyotes, bobcats, deer and mt. lions on our property 10-20 feet outside the fenced area), as if it’s his job and his payment is dinner. Then he comes in and watches me finish making their dinner, just like this in the photo above. After dinner, he goes out and does the same thing. If you don’t give a working dog work, they will always make work for themselves. And that’s OK with me. I enjoy his patrolling routines so much, and not only encourage them but thank him for his excellent service. And when his patrolling barks raise to cracker-insane cujuo, I, or Mr. Wild Dingo go out to assist him. Every single time that happens, Loki is 100% correct. It’s usually a skunk, a coyote or raccoon. That’s OK with me too. Because one day, it could be a burglar. We tell him he’s a good boy and reward him for his accurate alert.

One of the other things I’ve come to love about Loki is the trust he’s gained in me as well. When I first got him, he would flip out over anything touching him other than petting. This can be troublesome if you have to investigate a tick bite or a fox tail or anything that could cause a dog harm. But now he’s so trusting, he comes to me and asks for help. My favorite of course is when he eats too much grass and it gets stuck coming out the other end. He looks at me sheepishly and knows I will have a bag to help him out his uncomfortable situation (it pulls right out and no it’s not gross, i pick up dog poop). It took a long time to develop this “lemme see” approach whenever he had an owie or something bothering him. He’d jump around like a Mexican Jumping Bean rather than letting me see or touch the source of his concern. Now he comes to me for help and stands still to let me handle it.

One of my favorite experiences is when I come home and Mr. Wild Dingo is out in the garden with the dogs. Loki runs and greets my car at the gate and herds me 500 feet down the driveway into the garage. In the beginning I was always panicked that he’d get hurt no matter how slowly I drove, but over time we both figured it out. He’s a herding dog, and this is what he does so I let him, carefully of course, herd me and my car to the garage. As soon as I open the door, I get a big sloppy kiss and some cries. When he herds me, no matter how badly I feel, it brings a mile-wide smile to my face.

He enjoys communication and using his head to make decisions that make me happy. I never miss a chance to tell him when he makes the right decision and what a good boy he was for it. Even if that decision was for coming to me to help him with a problem, he gets a “Good Boy” and lots of pets. That is literally all it takes. How I wish I knew that early on in our journey.

I love you Loki,” I tell him. “Thanks Mom! I love me too,” he replies. Sigh. Self love: another important lesson he teaches me.

Happy Loki-versary handsome! You are the light and soul of our lives! Love, Momma, Poppy and Juicy

Sometimes Crime Does Pay

“Hey Daddy-O! Mom looks like she’s packin plenty of profit in those high pockets. How about you put your paw down and demand a toll for this bridge?”

“Don’t worry Princpessa, it’s in the bag. She’s an easy mark, a real rube. We’re big rough wild dogs and crime is the price she pays. There’s plenty of profit in those pockets to greese our chops. She’ll pay up…woo else!”

Happy National Puppy Day

It’s National Puppy Day! Here’s Loki, aka: The Cracker, when he was just a wee thing in Taiwan, sometime in 2007. Even as a puppy, his penetrating eyes impart a heartbreaking story of abandonment, fear, anxiety and a desperation to find *his* person—one who spoke his language so many before misunderstood—to whom he’d gift his unending loyalty and affection. It took me a while to become fluent in the Cracker’s language, but I did. Now we’re connected forever. He grew into those magnificent ears, which now stand up proudly and not only serve as his mojo but are quite literally responsible for saving us from a house fire in the middle of the night. I trust him completely with our safety. Many undervalued dogs can be found in rescue.

This is the closest puppy photo I have of Juno, though she’s a year old here. This little criminal stole my heart the day I laid eyes on her. Never a dull moment with Juno around. She has a long rap sheet of her crimes of mastication including: countless danskos, several flip flops, purses, trash cans, magazines, books, glasses, postal mail, my passport (yes the dog ate my passport Mr. Consulate), our landscaping plans, boots, plastic bottles, dental floss, toilet paper, office files, yoga clothes, yoga blocks, yoga mats, yoga magazines (she obviously doesn’t think much of yoga), computer wires in original box, pillows, blue masking tape, and wait for it… my mini cooper seats. That last crime took her less than 5 minutes to commit. Like I could love this dog any less for her transgressions. Do you know what kind of punishment Mr. Wild Dingo dishes out when (not “if”) she commits a crime? Steak dinners. What can I say? We’re soft on criminals. Especially when they are this adorable.

Adopt! Don’t Shop!

Loki and The Back Creek Band

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When I posted the memory about Loki teaching the two packs of coyotes to sing in our forest, I had a few people ask for videos. So for weeks, I’ve been trying to record the coyote pack singing with Loki.  It’s harder than you think. A siren goes by, sets off a dog and the pack, you run for the video and it’s over. Also, the coyotes stopped singing for a while, so I thought they moved on. The other morning while gardening, a siren went by and set off Loki’s solo. As soon as the coyotes chorus started, I scrambled for the iPhone, hence the vertical shooting. Only one pack was singing with him. The other pack, usually a bit more off to the right of the video, must have moved on.  However, shortly after the video, another siren went by and the two packs of coyotes started singing, so they are still there.

Enjoy a clip of Loki and The Back Creek Band. They will be coming to a forest near you.

Mistaken Identities

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Once again, Juno proves that she is really a German Shepherd in a Siberian Husky suit. Coming back from our walk, I unleashed the dogs once we got onto the pasture on our property. She immediately put her nose to the ground and followed a scent. As soon as we go to Upper Nitwit trailhead, we found her scent object: a young guy rolling a doobie on one of our foot bridges. Loki, the rough-tough GSD, on the other hand, was unusually friendly with the strange dude, proving that he is just a toker in a GSD suit.