Who Ya Gonna Call?

In The Doghouse

Oriental Trading for their fabulous costume options, that’s who! Thanks again for the O.G., OT, for hooking us up this Halloween.

The week has finally come when I can show you my favorite of the costumes we tried out this year: the Ghostbusters Dog Costume.


Isn’t he adorable?!


That inflatable proton pack might just be my favorite thing, ever.

Now, you could easily dress up in your own Ghostbusters jump suits to make a merry band of busters to match your pup, but you could also allow Spot to be the star and, instead, go as some familiar villains from the classic movie release:

Ghostbusters Closet Cosplay


Might I suggest Slimer and Stay Puft? You can go costume or you can opt for closet cosplay, you’re choice.

A few years back Todd and I dressed up as Dana (the red dress, possessed version), and Louis though, sadly, there’s no decent photo evidence of this (we were too busy hosting a pumpkin party to pose for pictures), and then there’s the whole slew of characters to choose from out of the newest iteration in the franchise.


Now, that proton pack that I love so very much does bring me to this week’s safety tip: be mindful of how the costume may impinge upon your dog’s leash or harness control. We prefer harnesses for crowd situations, and the proton pack is directly in the way. Costumes without back pieces are easy enough to place the harness over (as we did with Duncan’s Luau costume when we went to Boston’s Witches Night Out a few weeks ago), but if your pup is prone to pulling or could get overly excited while trick-or-treating, a Gentle Leader harness (which works a bit like a horse’s bridle, as I understand it) may be an option worth looking into.

Happy Howl-aween, folks. May your pups be cute and your treats be tasty!

Operation: Crate Love, Part 1

In The Doghouse

We are deep in the training trenches, my friends!

On Friday I put his big bed in the crate and just left the door open, he got in there several times on his own to nap, but when I closed the door on him Saturday afternoon he was back to being unhappy ­čÖü

On Sunday the local Bark Busters trainer came out and showed us the ropes of their training system. A lot of it was familiar to us, but some things were different than either Todd or I had learned in the past, and we’re in the process of training ourselves to train him.

The big ask is that she help Duncan with his crate training. Of course, to do that, everything else has to be worked on. While we’re meeting his basic, fundamental puppy needs already, the BB take on things is that in order to get him comfy in his crate he needs to see us as in charge so he doesn’t have to worry about one of his “pups” going off without him into the big bad world.

That’s a different way of looking at it compared to the “I’m lonely, please don’t leave me” side that we would normally think, right?

So, yeah, we’re working on his leash manners, commands like come and sit, and his attentiveness to us vs the plethora of things out there to distract him. We’re helping each other remember the relative body language cues–things like standing for corrections or redirections, crouching at his level for the fun things–and proper use of the correction command (that has us sounding like zombie sheep, Bahh!).

Overall, though, it seems to be working.

  • Night one, the same day as├é┬áthe BB visit, was a bit of a cluster. It was completely our own fault that we didn’t go to bed until the wee hours of the morning so Duncan’s hour of protest meant it was 2am before we got to sleep.
  • Night two was more on-time. (Actually, Todd tried to go to bed early, bless his heart, but Duncan wasn’t having it.) It was still the same hour of protest (he really would rather sleep with us, and we were tempted to let him, but we have to stay strong until he fully groks├é┬áhis crate is his den) but it was louder, more insistent, and less open to correction. And then, when he did quiet down and let us sleep, it was only for 15-40 minute intervals for the first several hours. Finally, around 3am, he exhausted himself and we got a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.
  • Night three, last night, was better, though! It only took him half an hour to settle and there was only one “relapse” of loud whining about 30 minutes later. After that he kept quiet and we all got a much-needed solid six hours of sleep!!!

Now, there’s a few things at work, I think, that made the difference between nights 1 & 3 and the hell that was night 2. Mainly, I suspect that it’s because I have had more time with him–between bringing him to work that week and a half plus getting home before Todd and having Fridays off with Duncan–so I’ve had more opportunities to work with him, I have more authority to him. Plus, Todd has been a little more indulgent with Duncan than I have, he’s a little more tolerant of the nipping, for instance, and other behaviors. Still, we’re both working on consistency. It could also have been that I was working downstairs while Todd was trying to go to bed early on night 2 and Duncan might have heard me moving around.

The FOMO is strong with this one, so I’m making an effort not to stay up later than Todd & Duncan to, hopefully, lessen some of that. (Though he wasn’t as bad about it when he slept with us, previously, when I’d come to bed it would definitely wake him up and he’d think it was playtime again.)

Sleeping in the crate is part of the process of getting him comfy with it, the other part is feeding him in the crate. This, I think, moreso than the night-sleeping, is what has yielded the biggest change: no messing in the crate during the day!

Granted, it’s early days yet, but Monday and Tuesday were mess-free when Todd came home and lunchtime as well as when I got home after work. That’s a big step for little D, and one that makes it worth toughing out the barking and whining at night.

Plus, we decided if he could keep up the good crate behavior for a week, then we might let him back up on the bed for a night and see if he maintained that habit. If so, we could all sleep easier and avoid the hassle of moving the crate downstairs and back up again each day. (We thought about a second crate, but that dilutes├é┬áthe “this is your home” vibe, and we can’t leave the crate upstairs in our room during the day since the upstairs tends to get very warm during the summer.)

The other crate issue, though, is the barking. Oh my stars, the barking. I’m not sure how we’re going to “cure” him of the incessant barking during the day, but we have to figure something out. The goal is that he gets used to his crate and doesn’t feel the need to voice his displeasure the same way he’s figuring out not to mess in there and that he’ll make the correction on his own.

As our Bark Busters trainer noted, though, Duncan is a smart puppy, and the smart ones are tougher to train (she said “I don’t get called for the dumb ones”). It’s a mixed blessing, that, but one we’ll figure out. There was talk of maybe a puppy cam with a feature where we could talk to him during the day. We’re leaving the TV on for him for some white noise, and have draped his crate to make it darker and cozier. While we’re currently leaving the soft bedding out of the crate until he proves he won’t mark it (the laundry spike was like having an infant, at first)–that was the trainer’s suggestion–he does have a couple of toys in there with him, and he gets a filled Kong each time he goes in for the morning, afternoon, and overnight in there.

If we can’t get the barking under control, we may have to look at the humane collars out there with various deterrents. There are scent-based ones, vibration-based ones, and ones that emit a high whine (that last one was used successfully by a friend with a headstrong Havanese). All with the idea to distract them from their barking and├é┬ákeep them from ramping up into a full-blown fit without shocking them or other harmful methods. We’re not ruling it out, but we’re hoping we can avoid it, too.

Overall, we’re really pleased with the progress he’s making and definitely happy with the Bark Busters system so far. We have our follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks to see how we’re doing and reinforce her training, and in the mean time we’re doing our homework by working with Duncan a little bit every day. More than that, though, the trainer helped us (okay, mostly me) feel like less of a puppy-training failure by assuring us that, no, Duncan really is a smart little bugger and that he’s pushing limits and testing us.

And if you read through all of that, thank you! Here’s a well-deserved treat: some clips of Duncan being the sweet boy he can be, and the reason why he’s worth all this training hassle.

Direct link for the feed readers: Puppy’s First FroYo

Wish us luck! (And sleep!)

42 & 43 Animals | Our Furry, Feathered, and Finned Friends

64 Arts

And all the others that might be left out by those 3 Fs!

I’m going to go ahead and combine the next two Arts for reasons of time and, well, modernity.

42 Stockbreeding

Raising and training rams, cocks, fighting partridges, and organizing battles, as for an army.

43 Teaching parrots and mynah birds to talk

As most sorts of organized animal fighting are illegal–not to mention morally questionable–in this country, I’m not going down the road of building an animal army. But there├é┬áis something to be said (a lot of somethings, perhaps) on the subject of caring for our animal companions and even the concept of humane treatment of those animals which are grown for food.

And sometimes the line gets blurred.

My ex-husband’s family lived out in the country with a fair amount of land. Each year they would purchase a cow to raise and then have it slaughtered locally to fill their freezer. One year my ex’s little brother got attached to that year’s cow, named it and everything, and you can imagine the tough times that caused at dinner for a while.

Unfortunately, their idea of steak was plate-sized and paper thin (okay, something like 1/2 inch or just under) and the only way they cooked it was well-done. Now that, my friends, is one cow that died in vain.

With homesteading and other self-sufficiency ideals returning, rabbits and chickens are more commonly kept for meat and eggs, respectively, as they take up much less space than, say, cows or hogs might, and require less grazing room than even a goat or two, so better suited to urban or suburban set-ups. And if aquaculture is more your thing, I remember seeing in an episode of Doomsday Preppers where one family had turned their in-ground pool into a greenhouse and small lake and bred tilapia–they apparently multiply quicker than rabbits!

On the other side of the coin, of course, are pets.

Our home is currently sans members of the 4-legged variety, though I know Todd would really like to have a dog again if (when!) his schedule permits. I’m all for it, too–I may have had to re-home my rat terrier, Abigail, several years ago when my health and travel schedule did not permit me to spend as much time with her as she deserved, but I think a home with more people than pets is a good ratio for success when I’m one of the people involved. Being able to tag-team pet parenting is vital for me.

A few months ago I even reviewed a cookbook for dogs, if you’ve ever thought of decreasing or even eliminating the kibble and processed dog foods from your canine’s diet.

Lots of our friends are cat people and, as much as I appreciate their self-sufficiency in many ways, the slight allergy I developed to them after├é┬ánot having one around (grew up with cats when I lived at home with Mom) prevents me from considering them as an option (even if I was willing to have a litter box in the house, which I’m really not keen on).

Fish never did much for me–maybe it was all those carnival-won goldfish that didn’t live very long that soured me on them–but I know many people take great pride in their aquariums and find them very comforting. And while the same could be said for rodents and snakes, I think I’ll pass on those, too.

Making a friend in Roatan

Making a friend in Roatan while on a cruise excursion (2009)–sure, he was more interested in eating my headband than smiling for the picture, but what can you do?!

Now, birds on the other hand, they are really amazing. Sure, they can be messy pets–throwing seeds about and all that–but I can see where the attraction lies. Coincidental to the art at hand, I’ve had a few encounters with the talking varieties and they really are something else.

My high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Walper, had a parrot named Bogey. (He was an African Grey, I├é┬áthink, I can’t be absolutely certain but the pictures I’ve found look like what I remember.) Anyway, Bogey was quite the prankster as my teacher also had an elderly Schnauzer named Sheba and Bogey would call Sheba’s name and confuse that poor dog like you would believe! He also liked to sing ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ as I recall. Bogey had a large cage with lots of rungs to play on in Mrs. W’s office and also had a perch in the Florida room where we’d get to visit with him during some of our Sunday study sessions leading up to state competition. (If you hadn’t yet figured out I was more than a bit of a nerd in school, that should tip you off!) Bogey also got sent to “jail” when he was especially naughty (jail being the guest room shower stall–it was not a tough life he led).

Later on I learned that parrots, in general, often out-live their first owners and a reputable breeder can and often does insist upon knowing who will care for the feathered one after it’s companion’s demise! This is smart since they can live 70 to 100+ years when properly cared for. It’s tough enough, sometimes, for cats and dogs to find good homes when their human has passed away, I would imagine the care of a parrot would be a lot to take on for many!

Still, it’s an important consideration–not just for parrots. Being responsible for any creature–human or otherwise–is a big commitment! And unlike children who (for the most part) grow up and can eventually take care of themselves, our pets will always depend on us for their well-being. In fact, when I see pan-handlers on the street with dogs tethered to them, I usually feel more sorry for the animals than the people–they had even less choice in their situation than their humans, that’s for sure!

What are your feelings on pets? Are they a part of your livelihood, companions, or not part of it at all?

Holiday Fun: Puppy Love

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

With the holiday taking center-stage this week and 2 sets of guests to get ready for,
let’s have a little photo-fun today, shall we?

In the eternal battle of cat vs dog, on which side do you generally fall?

Todd and I? Are dog people. Even though we are currently sans canine companionship and laugh at the LOLcats with the best of ’em, we swoon over some floppy-eared, waggy-tailed goodness.

And combining bow-wows with the vows? That brings the ‘awwwww’ to a whole ‘nother level. Take a look at these pretty pooches hamming it up for the wedding photographers:

Photo Collage of dogs in wedding photos

Sources: Style Me Pretty 1, 2, 3, 4

Photo Collage of dogs in wedding photos

Sources: Style Me Pretty 1, 2, 3 and Flickr

Photo collage of dogs in wedding photos

Sources: Style Me Pretty, Offbeat Bride, Lauren Kinsey, Style Me Pretty

What I find interesting, though, is something I stumbled upon while researching wedding traditions (ages ago, for a writing project): it was considered bad luck for a dog (or any creature, really) to walk between the bride and groom at the wedding so dogs used to be absolutely verboten at weddings! This harkens back to a time when it was thought that evil spirits would routinely inhabit animals, thus the spirit walking between the bride and groom was a very bad thing.

It’s a lovely thing being enlightened and not having to worry about those things anymore, but a great man once said not to work with children or animals as both are unpredictable. If you do choose to have your 4-legged friend as a part of your wedding, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Designate a handler for Fido, someone who’s already in the wedding party or maybe a House Party member, that Fido knows and is used to taking orders from.
  2. Do not entrust the real rings to your canine ring-bearer (dogger?) as even the most obedient dog is still a dog. One good “Squirrel!” at the wrong time and you’ll be borrowing bands for the ceremony.
  3. Be prepared. Scout out of good spot for Spot to take a walk both before and after the ceremony and have your designated dog walker equipped with baggies, etc. Wet wipes are good if paws could get muddy pre-pictures (don’t make the photograph Photoshop paw prints from the wedding gown).
  4. Remind all small children that chocolate is very dangerous for dogs and not to feed any groom’s cake to them, no matter how much they beg!

But if you’re the superstitious (or just cautious) type, you might want to save the furkids for the family holiday card.

And if you’d like to see more picture-perfect pooches, check out my Dogs in Wedding Photos board at Pinterest.com

Pretty Book and Flower Icon

Meanwhile, Todd and I will be checking out the National Dog Show hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia after the Macy’s Parade. We’ll be rooting for the Basset Hound, the French Bulldog and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Will you be watching?