She’s Here!

Time for a new addition at The House of the Fox Dogs. Introducing, Zora!

zora6wks

Zora at 6 weeks, photo by Liberty Akitas

Zora is an American Akita, bred by Liberty Akitas in Oklahoma.  I have been wanting a Liberty dog ever since I met the Bennetts several years ago, and I inquired about upcoming litters after we lost Bel.  Last weekend, little Miss Zora came home with us.

Years ago, I met her grandsire, Bugatti, at a show, and was quite taken with how friendly and even silly he was (he was just a pup then!)  I also met Demi  at that same show.   I really wanted a Bugatti puppy, but we were full up on dogs at that time, since in the intervening years we’d gotten our Whirlwind of Naughty, the Kai Ken Leo.

But this year, everything fell into place.  Zora’s sire is Bugatti son Clooney, and the lovely Demi is her dam.  Clooney is gorgeous, and it was fun to meet him and see he was as fun loving and wonderful as I remembered Bugatti to be, and Demi is a lovely lady.  And now we have Zora!

P1020281

Zora, 8.5 weeks

As you can see, she is a mostly white hooded girl, and while her head looks black in some photos, she actually has some brindle on her neck and cheeks.  And she has the black spot near her tail that a friend christened her “spanking spots!”  She’s a lively, curious girl, who has charmed everyone she’s met, including our dogs.   While it takes Oskar the big boy awhile to adjust to puppies, he’s already much less grouchy with her than he was with Leo (though they only are having very limited controlled meetings for now).  Toby ignores her (but he also only has met her while she was crated). Leo spent two days trying to ignore her and pointedly ignoring me (oh Leo’s feelings are hurt!  He’s not the baby anymore!) but Zora was determined to make friends and less than a week later, they are already comfortable with one another.

P1020288

Little Miss is busy, into everything.  She’s an adventurous girl, and in her short time here has already explored much of our large yard.  She climbed up the stairs on her second day here, and has already mastered going up the outside stairs, which are open stairs and harder for dogs.  Indoors, she loves a good game of tug, and outdoors, she likes to climb and jump and run.

P1020308

Indoor activities include getting into EVERYTHING!

P1020305

You had to wash these anyway, right?

So things have changed at the House of the Fox Dogs, and sadly, we are almost not really a house of Fox Dogs anymore, as now we only have one Shiba, Toby.   But I’ll keep the name, even though we’re becoming a house of Akitas these days.

I hope to have a few different type of blog posts in the next couple of months.  While I intend to keep up my sporadic dog updates (more pics of Zora, I promise!), I’ve also been working on two dog related writing projects, one a longish fantasy story about Japanese dogs, and also an essay about Bel.  I’ve decided to post both of them here, probably in a series of entries since both are long.   So look for that in the next few months, and I also promise to update with pictures of Zora, the Queen of Cute (and thanks to another friend for coming up with that nickname!)

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this photo of Little Miss on “guard” duty.

zorasign

Zora on her first day home (thanks Marisa for this pic!)

And a huge thank you to Liberty Akitas for trusting us with this sweet little monster, to Marisa for driving out to Oklahoma with me to get her, and for my husband for holding down the fort while I was gone, and managing the rest of the canine crew.

Merry Christmas to All…..

Leo’s first Christmas at the House of the Fox Dogs, and I think he enjoyed it!

There were lots of interesting things to look at and unwrap:

P1010813

And at first, even Bel had fun–what’s in this bag?  (There were dog treats in there–a gift from my mother).

P1010818

But the holidays can be stressful, too, especially when others climb all over you in a rush to get at the presents.

P1010825

And then Bel starting getting a little anxious:

P1010826

Leo was enjoying checking out the stockings, but Bel thought, When will it ever end?

P1010827

Leo loved it!  He loves the limelight too.  Bel?  Not so much.

P1010835

Handsome Oskar had to have a timeout with his presents upstairs.  Oskar doesn’t share well, and at some point he decided he should have ALL THE THINGS.

P1010838

I’ll be good now, I promise!

He had taken his Himalyan chew upstairs, and was torn between coming down to be with us, and guarding his chew.

P1010840

Toby had his chew and a quacking duck toy in his room.   He came in to investigate the wrapping for a bit, but decided that he would prefer to spend the holiday alone with his stuff.   We could hear him quacking his toy merrily from his room.

P1010850

Toby says “Hmmm…..nothing to eat.”

Bel had been in and out several times by then, but still seemed to be anxious, and was now frozen in front of M’s chair, where she stayed for most of dinner:

P1010842

Bel says “the holidays are so stressful.”

Leo decided that holidays are about eating ALL THE THINGS and decided that he was willing to eat anything and everything, including brussell sprouts and then salad:

P1010851

Leo says “That looks tasty!”

P1010852

Leo says “Lettuce! My favorite!”

P1010853

“Hey, what about me?”

Overall, Bel was less than thrilled with the holiday.  Either that, or she was just stuck:

P1010828

Oh god, is it STILL Christmas?

But the rest of us had a lovely day.   And we wish you all wonderful holidays, and peace, blessings, and abundance in the new year!

lunapic_135643121136444_2

Happy Birthday, Toby!

Today Toby is 8!

In honor of his birthday, I thought it might be time for a Toby retrospective.  Toby, this is your life!

Four weeks old

This may be the cheeriest he ever looked, and honestly, we’ve debated…is that really Toby?  Did he ever look that innocent?  (That was a picture the breeder sent).

Toby quickly developed the typical grumpy-buns Shiba puppy face:

Puppies together

Or maybe he just thought, what am I doing here with this Not-a-Shiba?

Of course, Toby’s interests and hobbies developed early:

And you may also notice, when you look at later photos, that his overall shape has not changed much either!

Well, that’s not entirely true.  Toby did have a svelte phase as a young dog, and he even had a phase when he got along with Bel (before she went all psycho on him):

(And wasn’t Bel a pretty puppy?  Shhh…don’t let Toby hear me say that.  This is really all about him, after all!)

Some of you will remember that when Toby first came to live with me, he was very concerned about the fact that there were not enough Shibas around, and he felt the need to call to Japan for some more.  He was initially at least sort of happy to have another Shiba in the house, though he knew all along that Bel was not from Japan, but from Nebraska, which in his mind, explained a lot about her.  I’m sure he would like me to say that he quickly got over the idea that there should be more Shibas, and now he believes that there are entirely too many dogs in the house.  And possibly in the world.  Because of course, he should be the ONLY one.

Soon Toby entered into the darker days of his misspent youth.  There was a lot of fighting.   Many of these fights he started.   Unfortunately, he didn’t win any of them, unless by winning we mean who got the most scars and vet visits.  There was the battle between Toby and Gideon that ended their friendship.  Toby started that, of course, and while Gideon would forgive and forget to this day, Toby has a very long memory indeed.

This was not the first time, nor the last, that Toby got an “outfit” from the vet to cover the wounds he had from a fight.  This was, perhaps, the most dashing of his outfits!

Then there were many “Very Large Array” outfits, in which Toby imitated a giant satellite dish:

And here’s what he looked like after coming very, very close to losing his life to Bel’s murderous attack:

It was quite an outfit, but as you can see, Toby still kept his spirits up, with the help of some Liberty Ale.  Oh wait, I guess I drank that!  This picture, by the way, was after he finally got to come home from his five-week stay at the vet.  We really did almost lose him, but as my vet sometimes jokes now “only the good die young” and we all know Toby is NOT a good boy!

Of course, Toby has had some other types of outfits too.  Not all of them were medically necessary.  The Toby Soprano look, for example:

Or  Toby as the Great Pumpkin:

Of course, Toby looks good in everything, and he knows it.  Even a sweater with the tag on it just accentuates his rugged good looks!  (And he really does prance around whenever he wears something).

After the attack by Bel, Toby never really did tolerate any other dogs again, and he still doesn’t.  In his life, he only had one true dog friend, and that was Kai, his foster father.  This is a picture of them together, not too many months before we lost Kai to cancer:

Yes, Toby has faced many challenges in his eight years, including baths:

Toby says "I hate this"

But he is always magnificent:

Even if, like so many of us, he’s grown a bit more plush with the years.

After all, he still has his same hobbies–foraging, sleeping, foraging some more.

Happy birthday Toby!  You’ll always be the dog closest to my heart.   I hope we have another 8 years together, and you become the old crotchety Shiba we all know you’re destined to become.

PS.  Toby was watching TV tonight, and has been inspired to write a “State of the Shiba” post.   Stay tuned for that!

Toby’s Still Acting (Out)

A Photo Essay

Apparently, Toby has found his acting career so compelling that he wants to continue it.  And apparently, he has decided I am the perfect audience for this, because according to my husband, Toby does not do nearly so much paddling and howling when I am not home.  He saves that pleasant behavior for me!  I’m his chosen audience, apparently.

However, he does have another, very rapt audience.   We have blocked off the area behind the sofa, so Oskar can’t get over to the sliding glass door where Toby is, but Oskar was so entranced by Toby’s “performance” that he got on the sofa to watch:

But then he decided he needed to get a bit closer:

Oskar has seen Bel and Toby lay on the back of the sofa, so I think he decided he might want to try that, but of course, it’s quite different when a 110 pound Akita tries it!  When the sofa looked like it was going to flip over, U. called Oskar to get off the sofa, and since Oskar’s a good boy, he obliged.  But on the way down, something caught his attention:

That’s when we discovered that there was another member of the audience:

(blurry photo--it was an Oskar action shot!)

Bel was watching too!

Toby should be delighted that he has such an attentive audience for his daily acting, but he seems not to be.  He wants ME to pay attention to his acting.

And I feel I’ve had enough.

So after some useful input from the Shiba forum, I realized I missed some obvious solutions to Toby’s situation.  First, yes, it probably is a kind of separation anxiety.  He’s used to me being home a lot of the time, and even if I’m not in the room with him, he knows I’m here.  But this fall, I’m busy with work and classes I’m taking, and I home a lot less than usual.   Toby feels neglected.

Someone suggested I try a thundershirt on him, and I thought, what a brilliant idea (and then, why didn’t I think of that?)  So I got out Bel’s thundershirt and tried to put it on him, but Toby is a bit, well, more substantial than Bel, so it would not fit around his girth.   Then I got some suggestions for substitutes.  I decided to try these, first just with a t-shirt.  I found a smallish one of mine and put it on him, but obviously it was not small enough:

Toby Soprano

While he looked rather dashing in it, it had absolutely none of the swaddling effect necessary to calm anxiety.  I’d also been directed to a good link to a blog that talked about anxiety wraps for dogs*  (see below), so I decided I could easily make one out of an old boxing hand-wrap:

This was slightly more successful:  it did at least fit tightly, and Toby was intrigued with the process.  I don’t think I wrapped it quite right (and there was rather a lot of material to use), but Toby seemed pleased with his new look:

Toby says "I look good!"

Toby dreams of his boxing debut

And he was actually calm for, oh, about 15 minutes.

Deep sigh.

 I’ll have to try wrapping him up in a different way, perhaps with more across the chest.  Probably tomorrow, as I’m sure he’ll be back at it soon.

*Here’s a link for the blog that has the home made  anxiety wraps for dogs:   The Peaceful Dog

Bonus Photos:

A couple of weekends ago, we cleaned the chimneys.  Bel got into the soot:

Bel's a little chimney sweep

And so did Toby, which is why his chest still looks a little grey in his “Toby Soprano” photo.  But here’s what he did look like:

Both Shibas need a bath!

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

The human contingent of the House of the Fox Dogs has been on vacation, visiting U’s family in Germany. It actually looked like I wouldn’t be able to go at first, because we had an unexpected canine health issue: One month after his neutering, Oskar suddenly developed a rather large hematoma in his scrotum. It was, well, rather noticeable, since I took a look at him and thought wow, he looks like he was never neutered. The scrotum had filled up with blood.

So off the vet we went, where it was aspirated, but unfortunately, it filled right back up again with blood. This meant Oskar needed a procedure I am unfortunately all too familiar with from various dog injuries: the vet had to put in drains, and a pressure bandage. Obviously, this is not the easiest place to bandage, so as usual, my vets got creative, and Oskar ended up with a very interesting outfit:

Oskar's outfit

Granted, that wasn’t all the vet’s doing.  Oskar’s bandages wouldn’t stay up so we sacrificed a pair of U’s boxers and put them on Oskar.  It did help to keep everything in place, but as you can see from his dropped tail, he wasn’t happy.  He had to wear that ensemble for about a week, and his drains had to be flushed at least once a day, a procedure that I simply could not do by myself (imagine trying to hold down a 110 pound dog and squirt betadine into his nether regions.  Not a one-person job, and U. had already left for Germany), so Oskar went to the vet daily.

Poor Oskar!

Luckily for me, the drains came out two days before I left, and there were no more complications, so I was able to leave Oskar and the Shibas with our lovely housesitters, and go to Germany.

(I should add that the complications with Oskar’s neutering are rare.  This kind of swelling does sometimes happen in dogs that are too active immediately after the surgery, but it is rare indeed for it to occur a month later.  My vet said he had not seen it happen so long after the surgery in his 30 years in practice.  We’re not sure what caused it, and it was probably just a fluke, but given that Oskar has had a few other odd issues with bleeding–a broken toenail that bled on and off for two weeks–I’m going to have him tested for von Willebrand’s Disease, which is a hereditary clotting disorder.  While it seems unlikely that he has it, as he did not bleed excessively during surgery, we decided that it would be good to know for sure, so he’ll be tested for this soon.)

German Dogs!

I spent a lot of time in Germany looking at dogs.  Of course,  I am terribly interested in all things canine, anyway, but there was another reason:  I don’t speak German.  So during gatherings of family and friends, I was often left to my own devices.  I like to imagine that my understanding of German is something like the way dogs understand any human language.  This is what I understood:   Blah, blah, blah, dog!  Blah, blah, blah chocolate!  Blah, blah, blah beer!  Of course, like a dog, I perked up noticeably when I understood those key words.  I also perked up when I heard my name.  I imagine if I had ears that pricked forward they would have done so, and if I had a tail, it would have wagged.  Other than that, I spent a lot of time observing dogs.

First, there was Gina, who belongs to my brother-in-law.  Gina was the first German dog I met:

She was good-natured, and I was never able to figure out what breed she is, or if she is a mix, but she does slightly resemble a Gordon Setter, and is even more like a black and tan Hovawart, a breed that originated in Germany. (Gina looks a lot like this dog).  We took her on quite long walks, including to an outdoor museum, and she was always well-behaved.  Until we saw other dogs, when Gina turned into a maniac, jumping at the end of her leash, snarling and barking.  Clearly Gina is a reactive dog!

Gina in repose

Dogs are allowed pretty much everywhere in Germany it seems.  Gina was welcome at restaurants, though we only ate at outdoor beirgartens with her, where she laid under the table quite happily.  We did not take her with us when we went to the retirement home to visit my husband’s 95-year-old grandmother, but there was another dog there, also laying calmly under the table while the family had coffee.  We also saw a young pup there that looked–and acted!–like a Shiba puppy; it was leaping about and biting anything that came within reach, a crazed little ball of fur.   It was not a Shiba, but the owners told us it was an “island dog” whatever that means.  I would have asked more questions if I could have spoken German.

I am fairly certain Gina has food allergies.  Her stomach is almost completely hairless and freckled and she was almost constantly scratching and licking at either her belly or her paws.  I suppose my brother-in-law’s family was spared a long talk on diet and food allergies because of the lack of a common language.

On the first day in Germany, with a bit of translation, I was made to understand that the neighbors had a Shiba.  Except that it was a big Shiba. But it was a puppy.   I immediately suspected that the “big Shiba puppy” was a Japanese Akita.  The neighbor was invited to stop by on his walk for us to meet the “big Shiba puppy” and one morning the doorbell rang, and we met this dog, who is almost a year old:

Japanese Akita

While he may have seemed a bit cautious in this picture, it only took a few moments for him to become a typical, young Akita.  He jumped up to try to lick our faces.  He mouthed our arms and hands.  He grabbed onto U’s shirt and started tugging.  While his looks are quite different from an American Akita–in much of the world the Akita is split into two breeds, American and Japanese–his mannerisms were very similar to Oskar’s.  We enjoyed having a visit with him, and I was delighted to have met my first Japanese Akita.

The next canine we met was in the small town where my mother-in-law is from.  We went to see her brother and the farmhouse she grew up in.  When the family came outside to greet us, they brought a little dog with them that at first I thought was a pug, but then I recognized those bat ears; it was a little French Bulldog.   I’m not a fan of the flat-faced breeds, usually, but in the 20 minutes or so we spent there, this little dog thoroughly endeared herself to me.  She was clearly not interested in everyone there–she barked at my mother-in-law–but she came up to me immediately, and tilted her head and looked at me as if she was trying to decide if I was worth her attention or not.  Apparently I was, because she licked my hand, then set to sniffing me with a great deal of interest.

French Bulldog

She was, apparently, visiting while her family was on vacation.   She was quite a self-possessed little dog, who followed conversations by watching everyone with a grave, and slightly affronted look, as if she wasn’t sure approved of the conversation.  I found her quite charming!

On Sunday, we ventured into nearby Bavaria for a trip to Germany’s most iconic castle, Neuschwanstein, pictured below.

Neuschwanstein, Aug. 2011

After our visit, we had coffee with one of U’s school friends, who had accompanied us on our tourist jaunt.  He and his wife have a lovely house they had designed themselves (she is an architect), a lovely daughter, and of course, a dog.  I thought the dog was a greyhound, so I asked (they both spoke some English), but as it turns out he is not, though he does resemble one:

Delgado, a "windhund"

I was told that Delgado is a “windhund,” which I understood to be a category of dog.  With the help of a dog book, I was able to say that, yes, the equivelent of “windhund” is probably “sighthound.”   This still did not explain Delgado’s breed, however, and the book that included his breed was only in German.  I understood that his type of dog came from Spain, and his breed is related to greyhounds.  I thought that perhaps he was an Ibizan Hound, only because it was the only Spanish sighthound I could remember, but once I looked in the book, I saw this was clearly not the case.  When I got home, I was able to figure out that Delgado is a Galgo Espanol, a type of Spanish Greyhound that is not closely related to the English Greyhound.

Delgado is a Galgo Espanol

Delgado was quite sweet, and content to lay on his bed, until the cakes were brought out, and then he quickly positioned himself where he could not-so-surreptiously put his head on the table and sneak a treat.  When he was shooed away, he settled his head on my lap for a bit, but I was not fooled….it was not me he was interested in but my cake!  I learned that Delgado does not like having his picture taken (and he turned away as soon as the camera came out!), that he is quite a thief, and that he loves to sleep on the sofa, but will only do it if no one is in the room with him.  Our hosts admitted that they struggled with teaching him to stay off the sofa, then finally decided that the battle wasn’t worth it, and Delgado has apparently slept on the sofa ever since.  I’ve always been fond of sighthounds, especially greyhounds, and this Spanish greyhound was no exception.

What else did I learn about German dogs?  I learned that they are welcome many more places than dogs are in the US, and while the vast majority of the dogs I saw walked politely on leashes and were content to lay under tables while their humans socialized, I also noted that there were plenty of spats between dogs who were not so pleased to see other dogs.  In a way, this was reassuring:  I was not seeing a nation of perfect dogs!  I also noted that I never once saw a dog walked with just a collar:  every dog I saw was wearing a harness, which I know is better for the health of the dog, as it does not put pressure on the trachea and neck.  And while I saw a number of types of dogs, I never once saw a German Shepherd Dog, called Schaferhund in German.  I did, however, see a German TV documentary that bemoaned the failing popularity of this national breed, noting that their numbers were consistently falling in Germany, though the channel was changed before I could find out why that was.

All in all, it was a good trip, but of course, I was delighted to come home and find my three hounds healthy, happy and well-cared for.  I learned that they all had new nicknames:  Bel was Bella Loca, a nickname so good it will stick; Oskar was Baby Beluga; and I suppose Toby’s new nickname says something about how he must have behaved when we were gone, because he was just “the little asshole.”  Oh Toby.

The Evidence, and Reconnecting Fiends

I see that Toby has decided to continue his blogging, and I must say, he seems to be popular!

But I must correct a few misconceptions.  First, it is not true that Toby has never had any of the “cold cream” as he calls ice cream.  While it’s probably better that he doesn’t remember the six weeks he spent at the vet’s in March 0f ’08, I must assure readers that he did, in fact, get ice cream then, as well as anything else I could get him to eat.

And he’s had some more recently too.  Here’s the evidence from last night:

And as you can see, he’s, um, rather plump, so probably doesn’t need to eat  much ice cream:

But there was very little in there when I let him have the carton, so I don’t suspect it added much to his rotundity.  What probably did add to it was the fact that when my husband got up this morning, he was confronted with this:

 

Evidence!

This package of chicken had been left in the sink overnight.   When defrosting, I usually push stuff so far back in the sink that Toby can’t jump up and get it (believe me, he tries.  It’s one of his preferred forms of exercise).   But Toby is nothing if not resourceful (and famished, or so he thinks), so apparently he managed.  As far as we can see, Toby ate an entire chicken leg quarter this morning, perhaps two, and possibly some of the packaging as well.  Two would be 4-5 days worth of food for him.  And as you may recall, last night he ate two days worth of food.   And yes, he is STILL hungry, and is running around the house right now, searching for things to eat.  (He may be more hungry than usual because he’s taking prednisone for allergies, and I believe it stimulates the appetite.  Not that Toby needs any help with that).

Toby seems to have returned to the same shape he had as a pup.  And he still enjoys the same activities (foraging):

 

Yep, pretty much the same shape.  He’s just bigger and has longer legs now.

Also, a little something in honor of old “fiends” reconnecting (see comments from yesterday’s post. Gideon, a German Shepherd who is close to Toby’s age,  renewed his correspondence with him).    Here’s a picture of  Toby and Gideon when they were pups.  Toby was probably 8 or 9 weeks old in this picture, and as you can see, he already was showing a certain lack of interest in Gideon:

Puppies together

Toby’s never really enjoyed the company of other dogs.  I’m sure he considers the fact that he is not an “only dog” to be the main tragedy of his life.   Life is hard for Toby!

Finally, a brief Bel update:   she’s been eating on her own today.  Sort of.  She ate some kibble (Taste of the Wild, grain free in fish flavor).  She had some jack mackeral.   She has some of her puree.  She begged at the table shameless–pushing into our legs with her cone when we didn’t pay attention to her–and so got some bits of sourdough bread from my husband.   She is remarkably disinterested in food unless it is served to her.  On a spoon or by hand.   She won’t eat more than a mouthful out of her bowl, but if I take it out of her bowl and put it on a spoon, she eats much better.

Spoiled little thing.   But for now, I’m happy she’s eating at all.

And finally, I’ve added a lot of links of other Shiba bloggers and other Nihon Ken bloggers, and will be adding other information on rescue, on dogs in general, and more in the coming days.

But for now, check out Morning with Birds, by my good friend M, lives with three birds, and a certain German Shepherd who is Toby’s “fiend.”

Snow Day!

Let's play!

This morning we woke to quite a bit of snow, and before getting up, I fantasized about canceling my classes for the day.  Then, what luck! When I got up, I found that the university was closed for the day!  So I was delighted to get a real snow day, and the dogs seemed to enjoy it too, except for Bel, who is immobilized by her splint.

Both Toby and Oskar went out and ran and played in the snow (separately), and Toby and I took a walk to the mailbox, which was a very cold walk indeed, and when I got home I discovered it was only 9 degrees, which is quite cold for New Mexico.

I also played fetch with Oskar until it got too cold for me to stand outside.  It wasn’t very successful, as he lost the ball (til the snow melts anyway), but he had a great deal of fun in the snow.  Here are some pictures of him and Bel in the snow:

Snow face!

Bel

Bel is wearing her leg brace.   More on that tomorrow.

Stay warm everyone!

Previous Older Entries