Saturday, March 24, 2012

How sexy is this dude?

This isn't my next dog, obviously. I'm pretty sure he belongs to someone already. But he sure reinforces my interest in borzois as possible next dog.

Pet your dog thin?

I was reading this book about addictions, and I learned some things. As you may or may not know, the brain, human or otherwise, secretes a variety of hormones to make us feel good or bad. I call the good ones "brain rewards". I knew this already. I didn't know that one of the brain rewards is oxytocin. One thing it does is induce labour, but also, it's a brain reward related to attachment activities, and an analgesic. And the important thing here is, attachment.

So that is to say, oxytocin is a brain reward that you get from interacting with other creatures.

What does that have to do with addictions? Addictions are a way to give ourselves brain rewards when we're not getting them through normal processes. Which is why people who say they eat to make themselves feel better aren't actually lying; they're just not creative about giving themselves brain rewards. So they eat, and get a brain reward related to eating. But that doesn't exactly replace the brain reward they're missing, so they keep eating.

Likewise with dogs.

Do I have a point? I do. Tinky-Winky and I are dog-sitting Carter again. Carter... Oh wait, I forgot to post my other post, so you don't know the back story. Anyway, Carter overeats. I explained that in the post I forgot to post. When he wants a brain reward, he eats. When he has no food, he asks his person for food, and she gives it to him.

Not me. When Carter whines, I pet him. Or I brush him. He loves being brushed. When I stop brushing him, he goes to sleep. Without having eaten.


My theory is, Carter cries because he needs a brain reward, not a food reward. If I pet him or brush him, he gets a brain reward, therefore he doesn't eat. Therefore he doesn't get fat.

On the other hand, it's also possible that he doesn't eat when I dogsit him because he misses his own humans. But I like my theory.

Doesn't matter anyway. Petting your dog lowers blood pressure for both you and the dog, and fills some time that you both would normally spend stuffing your faces.

You know what else? If you walk your dog, he gets exercise, therefore he's less stressed and difficult - and also less fat. Also you are less stressed and difficult, and also less fat.

Funny how doing the right thing for your dog also happens to be the right thing for you. Oh wait... Yes, that's easily explained by 12,000 years of living in packs together. Or maybe we formed packs together because we need the same things. Either way, spend more time petting, brushing and walking your dog. It's good for both of you. And besides, why would you get a dog if you're not gonna pet, brush and walk him?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pwnage: you're doing it wrong

Tinky-Winky and I went house-sitting last weekend. Technically we were "sitting" the dog, Carter, who is Tinky-Winky's oldest, dearest "friend". They've known each other since... almost since I first got Tinky-Winky in September 2005. The way they met is that my ex and Carter's owner's ex were friends. Carter's owner and I didn't even meet until 2009.

Carter is a nine-year-old boxer. As such, he drools. A lot. Also, he farts a lot. So I decided to go to their house rather than letting him come to ours. Therefore, Her Majesty went on a progress to Carter's house, and I, her faithful servant, brought her household goods.

Being best friends forever, Carter and Tinky-Winky completely ignored each other. And yes, that shows what good friends they are. Of course we know how Her Majesty is with other dogs. She hasn't been in a fight in nearly two years now, but she does snap at the nose of any dog that doesn't grovel before her. Carter isn't as consistently and masterfully ferocious as Her Majesty was in her day, but he weighs somewhere close to 100 lbs, and has been in quite a few fisticuffs. He's not a very good fighter, as far as I can tell, so he doesn't win, but he does instigate. So, having the two in the same house, ignoring each other completely, for 48 hours, shows that they're very dear friends, or possibly, that I'm the next Dog Whisperer.

The first evening, each dog lay on Her or his own bed. At bedtime, I put Her Majesty's bed next to the owner's bed, which is immensely wide and high. Her Majesty can't, or won't try, to jump that high, so I figured she'd sleep on her bed, and Carter would do... whatever. I didn't think he was allowed on the bed.


Carter jumped up on the bed and tried to sit on me. Did I mention he's close to 100 lbs? I can control him on the leash, but I couldn't wrestle him off the bed, so I picked up Her Majesty and put her near me. At this point they had words, because if there is one thing Her Majesty absolutely will not suffer, it's another dog being closer to me than she is. So Carter backed off a few inches, and then all three of us had a nice pleasant night's sleep.

The second day, Her Majesty took over Carter's dog bed. Carter didn't say anything, but lay miserably on the floor. Also, Carter got unwell. He hardly ate all day. Seeing as he is on a diet and supposed to eat only two scoops a day, I thought I'd outwit him and give him a half-scoop four times a day, so I could feed him when he asked yet not over-feed him. But he didn't even eat what I gave him. He did drink a lot, though, with the obvious result that he loosened his bowel considerably and spent the evening pissing like a racehorse - the first time, unfortunately, in the house; the next six outside. After that he wasn't feeling all that cuddly, so he slept on the floor the second night, and Her Majesty and I had the bed to ourselves.

The third day, Carter decided to get cocky, thusly:


He's lying on Her Majesty's bed.

Amazingly, Tinky-Winky let him, and didn't even object to his smell being on it afterwards. Even though she won't even drink from the same dish he does, on account of the drooling. Still, Carter seems less than thrilled with this new bed. Maybe because he can't even fit completely on it, let alone sprawl out.

So the moral is twofold: first, nobody pwns Her Majesty; and second, if I get a borzoi, I'll need a much bigger dog bed.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Don't get a dog

And you thought I was crazy...

I have a long weekend of nothing going on, and I'm housesitting in a house with internet, so I'm looking at pictures of borzois. For example:

The dog is Kenai's Flight of Fantasy, at Kenai Borzoi. But the really important thing about this photo is, apparently I'm not the craziest dog-lady out there. At least my dog doesn't have a fancy leopard-print Recamier chair. (Yet.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Next dog, schmext dog

Yes, I'm still obsessing about that. I hope to continue obsessing about it for many years yet.

I had previously considered the shar pei as a possible next dog. The main advantage of a shar pei is, people won't want to pet it. The main drawback of a shar pei is, neither do I.


And then I thought, what about a borzoi? People might want to pet a borzoi, but that's ok, because it can run away like the wind.

Hmmmm... Maybe "I don't want people petting my dog" is not the best criterion for picking a dog breed. Still, I'd like people, and in particular little girls, to leave my dog alone when we're having a walk. And mind you, my main criterion for picking a new car two years ago was "I want to be able to lie down full length in it." After all, a dog is a dog, and a car is a car. The difference is really just in the details.

Well, anyway.

Pros of a borzoi: it's essentially a greyhound. Therefore it's a sprinting dog more than a long-haul dog, like say, a husky. So I could probably stick to much the same walks as Tinky-Winky, and then I can get one of those fast remote-controlled car, and let the dog chase it on the school track. Greyhounds are actually very quiet in the house, as long as they get out enough. So that would be nice. Also I've met borzois before and they don't stink or drool. Also, it's beautiful, very good in cold weather, and not into strangers. My dog is MY best friend, not anyone else's. And last but perhaps not least, I always wanted a large dog, but the bigger the dog, the more it costs to feed; a borzoi, being very light for its height, mitigates this problem.

Cons of a borzoi: might not be easy to find, and will cost a fortune to ship up here. A lot harder to find roommates that will accept a borzoi than a shiba. It will eat three to five times as much as Her Majesty. And since I have never seen one in Hay River yet, I suppose people will want to stop and talk about it.

Ok. So the borzoi option seemed attractive. But then, after last week's eight-kilometer walk with my little autistic friend, I thought a schnauzer might be a better idea. Not that a borzoi can't walk eight kilometers, but a schnauzer is more of an endurance dog.


Pros of a schnauzer: handsome; endurance dog; comes in three sizes, from 12" to 28"; herding and police dog, and therefore will work better with the kids.

Now you might say, shnauzers are difficult and not known as service dogs. But that's what you think. In Germany, they do work as police and military dogs. That's exactly why they can be difficult, in fact. All the highly intelligent dogs get difficult if they're not getting enough mental exercise. And while it's not commonly used as a service dog here, that doesn't mean it can't. So what if golden retrievers get all the credit? Most of them are as smart as a sack of doorknobs; the good ones become service dogs because they're tractable, that's all. But when you think about it, being tractable isn't necessarily a quality in working with an autistic kid. Autistic kids can be infinitely stubborn. (Or "focused" as I like to call it.) A dog that just does whatever the kid wants is no help to me; I need a dog who can out-stubborn the kid. In fact, if I'm gonna get a dog to help with the kid, I definitely want a herding dog, so it can outrun the kid and bring it back my way. If you can herd a cow, you can herd a kid. Hauling ducks is nice, but you can't do that with a kid.

Cons of a schnauzer: "handsome" isn't the same as pretty; hard to find; and not the dog I'd pick for myself. If I get a schnauzer for the kid, and then my life changes again and the kid is no longer a part of it, then I still have a schnauzer, for no apparent reason.

Obivously this dilemma is irrelevant just now, but the choice between a borzoi and a schnauzer could be summarised thusly: the borzoi is good for me, but not so good for the kid; the schnauzer is good for the kid, but not so good for me.

And then I think, if I'm looking at big dogs, why not a Belgian shepherd? I always wanted a Malinois. They're awesome. Then I remember that I can't get a Malinois because they've got way too much drive for me. Just because you love a breed, doesn't mean it wants to live with you. Sigh...

Then again, there are also some sporting dogs I rather like. Brittany, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, Gordon setter, English cocker spaniel, English springer spaniel, Welsh springer spaniel. And of course there is always the Icelandic sheepdog or the Norwegian buhund, both of them not in the book of breeds I borrowed from the library. Books of breeds are becoming lamer and lamer, if you ask me. And as sheepdogs go, there's also the Australian shepherd. And the Bernese mountain dog (my grandmother had one) and the greater Swiss mountain dogs are handsome, helpful, and strong enough to drag the kid home if need be; but I'd need eight times the food budget and a much larger apartment.

Or I could just get another shiba.

So, I guess I got it narrowed down to 17 breeds. Good thing it's not urgent.

The ten-dog race, again

Friday, March 2, 2012

I don't like the look of this

The front door of our building is metal to about halfway up, and then glass. As Tinky-Winky and I were heading out on our evening stroll today, I saw there was a young girl outside the door. I would guess about twelve years old. And when she saw us, she started moving in a way that suggested, to me at least, that she was handling a dog. I figured, probably a yorkie or something rat-like and killable like that; so I picked up Her Majesty and carried on.


When I opened the door, all I could see was a blur of brindled hide. I got the impression that it was a pitbull, from its colour, but it was so in my face, I never got a good look. And more than that, it was trying to get in Her Majesty's face. Tinky-Winky seemed cowed at first, but then, I got the impression it nipped her, and she started snarling and barking furiously.

Meanwhile, I was trying to push the dog away from me and down, as it was trying to stand up against me. Less relevantly, the girl was yanking on its chain and begging it to obey her. As if that would do anything. And I was trying to manage the dog with one hand, since I had Tinky-Winky under the other arm, and talk to all three so as to calm Tinky-Winky, control the dog, and prevent the kid from freaking out.

Finally I pushed the creature far enough off me that I could walk past it, and let it and the girl get through the door and into the lobby. Thinking that was that, I turned my back on them and put Tinky-Winky back down. Immediately the dog actually pushed its way out the closing door again to try to come at us. WTF???

I shoved him back and forced the door shut in his face until it locked.


Ok, so that was NOT cool. I still think, looking at my stored mental image of it, that it has the physique of a pitbull, but taller. It's a tan colour with brindling and four white feet. Quite handsome, actually, but it's the most aggressive large dog I've ever seen. Tinky-Winky was significantly worse when I got her, but as I always say, had she been a large dog, she'd have been put down early on. The only reason she wasn't a serious danger is because she's small and easy to overpower. This creature is less aggressive in that he didn't attack with lightning speed and single-minded purpose like she used to. On the other hand, it had absolutely no respect for me. If you're one of those people who "don't believe in dominance", then you wouldn't know what I'm talking, but I'm the dominant bitch. Dogs give me respect. Come to think of it, "respect" is another word for "dominance". If you don't want to think of it as being "dominant" to your dog, think of it as "respect" and the obvious fact that your dog has none for you. Hey, if you don't believe in it, why would anyone give you any?

Well, the dominance thing isn't the point here. The point is, dogs give me respect. I rarely have to put my hands on them to get my space respected, let alone apply force. And being a construction worker, I can apply more force than most women. So if this dog won't back down and I can't overpower it, that's rather alarming. And the fact that its owner lets it walk around with a little girl who has absolutely no power over it is very alarming.

When you think about it, there seems to be an alarming amount of interest in pitbulls in this town lately. And all of them, as far as I can tell, are in the wrong hands.