Tuesday, January 28, 2014

In search of a lead...

I'm cuter than the rat terrier on the book right?
I had to go and get a very specific item for Sappho's nosework trial - a 15' lead. I'm a big believer and consumer of independant small pet stores, but in a pinch I'll go to the big box pet stores. Knowing that they were likely my only hope of getting that lead in time, I loaded Cody up in the car and headed out.
Starting with a potty break before going inside.
But....it smells like I should pee here!

We always start with a several minute potty break. Stores try to clean up messes, but based on dog's behavior there are a lot of urine scents left over, so taking Cody into a pet store requires me watching him carefully read to interrupt as he lines up to mark.

It was pretty noisy on this day, but fortunately minimal kids or folks who weren't controlling their pups.
Taking it all in.

Getting started checking things out.

Visiting the fish - not very exciting.

Visiting the birds - very exciting!

Cody loves birds, as do every terrier I've met so far. Of course by love, I mean wants to kill and possibly eat them. So as not to stress the birds I kept Cody back a couple feet from the cages (you can't tell very well in the picture) to prevent him from jumping on the glass. The birds seemed content to sit there and ignore him.

Last time Cody was at the vet a few weeks ago they didn't get a solid weight on him, but it was reading 18. I wanted to get another reading with just Cody and I hoping he'd be comfortable enough to sit still for me for a minute. He did very well, and we got our new weight. He's gained a little bit of weight, but he's very lean and shouldn't lose a single bit of weight, so this tells me he's gained some muscle, which is fantastic.

Of course, while birds and weights and sniffing where all the other dogs have gone is important, there is something that tops all of those - food.
What do we have here....

No, foster mom won't let me eat rawhides.

Might there be a hole in this bag?

This looks good.

But I smell something more enticing.

Big meaty bones!!

I have lots of treats at home, and as I mentioned, I buy whatever I can from local independant pet stores that don't carry horrible food like Beneful or Purina Dog Chow. So I passed on all the treats and gave Cody some of the Ziwi Peak I had with me to reinforce positive behaviors. He didn't seem to mind not getting any of those bones, although when we were checking out he discovered one more thing of interest....
A treat buffet? Just for me??
By this point we had visited 2 different box stores and had fortunately found the 15' leash. It is big for my purposes but will work until Sappho's 1/2 inch lead comes in. In the meantime, I had to step into a store nearby that wasn't pet friendly, so I put Cody in the front seat for a couple minutes while I grabbed what I needed. Cody was tuckered from all the visiting and novelty, and within a minute of me getting back in the car he settled back into position until I had to disturb him to put him back in his crate!
Lets go home!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Freedom Harness

I love staying on top of new dog gear. Toys, leashes, collars, training tools - you name it and I want to learn about it. Harnesses are special though. All of my personal dogs and foster dogs are walked on harnesses because I don't mind if they pull a bit and I want to protect their throat. Unless a dog is supremely trained in loose leash walking and never pulls on the collar, they need to be wearing either a head collar which does not put pressure on the throat or a harness.
This will end badly for both of them.
Small breeds in particular are prone to collapsing trachea, which is exactly what it sounds like. The trachea, also known as the windpipe, can partially or completely collapse on itself and cause coughing, hacking, and breathing issues. We need to protect our pups delicate neck areas by making sure we are walking them responsibly with gear that supports their health.
Halti Optifit Head Collar, my personal favorite head collar.
Head collars need some work to adjust the dogs to wearing them, and while I like head collars and have used them myself, my go to is harnesses. I choose which one I use based on what the dog needs. Walking harnesses may be different than car harnesses. Always have them crated or in a crash-tested harness in the car. My sweet Sappho wears her Kurgo Tru-Fit Enhanced strength harness except when she's doing nosework. This is a crash tested harness that she wears the entire day on weekdays, including during her lunch time walkies. Sappho doesn't pull, and so a normal back-clip harness works for her.
Sappho loves fake grass.
Maya tends to pull, and so she wears a Wonder Walker. This has a front and back clip, so if she isn't pulling I'll move the leash to the back and if she is, it stays up front. The downside of the Wonder Walker is because it crosses over the shoulder, it can impede movement. However, it is one of the few front-clip harnesses that fit small dogs, so it has its benefits. Front clip harnesses are great because they reduce the amount of pulling a dog can do and yet doesn't cause any potential damage like a collar may.
Maya wears a "toy," but don't tell her that.
Cody had been wearing the Wonder Walker which suited us pretty well. However, my big dog friends were really happy with the Freedom Harness. It doesn't impede movement like the Wonder Walker does and sits on the body differently, more like a typical harness. However, the smallest size they made was a small, which fits 20+ lb dogs! I recently learned though that the makers of the Freedom Harness have thrown a bone to us little dog owners, and made an extra small. It said it fits 12-18 lb dogs, and so with delight I ordered one for Maya.
Maya swore to me she needed a large like this pup. 
 Alas, when I got here I found the sizing guidelines pretty off. It swam on Maya. She could slip out of it so easily and it looked like I had given her the hand-me-downs from one of my friend's larger dogs! Well that wouldn't work! I tried it on Cody, and it fits him pretty well. It's still a touch large, but with almost every strap cinched down it serves its purpose admirably. The only downside is he keeps getting referred to as a "she," but I believe he's masculine enough to pull off any color!
Totally pulls it off.
 The big question is of course - how well does it work? So on our walk Cody put it through its paces, making sure he can do a number of vital tasks.
He can stop and ask for lovings in it.
It remains on through a good shake.
He can compete with Maya for prime sniffing space.
Works just fine for a sniff at a distance from foster mom.
He can wee wee in it (perhaps the most important task!)
He can walk nicely on leash.
Bird watching is a breeze.
It stacked up pretty well for Cody! The front is a touch loose but not a serious issue, and I love how the soft velvety lower girth strap prevents any chafing under his arms. Overall, this is a pretty solid harness, but I wouldn't get it unless you have a 16+ lb dog. Cody is 17 lbs or so now (he's gained some muscle!) and any smaller than Cody and it just will be far too loose.
Stop taking pictures, we got things to do!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Kong Dinner

I'm sitting so pretty!!
Normally Cody eats out of a food puzzle, and tonight was so exception. That eager face you see above is no exception either - but tonight, it was even more eager. Tonight Cody got wet food mixed with his kibble and supplements, and stuffed into a kong! While the other pups settled down over their dinner, Cody tried desperately to make me hurry up and put it down!
Please put it down already!!

Finally his hard-sat victory is at paw!