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Archive for the ‘Cautionary Tails’ Category

Visiting my dad in Virginia this week has made me a bit nostalgic for the old family dog. Of course he was a smooth coat fox terrier too, and the reason that I turned to the breed again when it came time to adopt my own pet. However, Duncan, the first foxie, did not prepare me for the breed the way I had anticipated, since it turns out owning one in a suburban family of four is wildly different that owning one alone in the city. (Ok. Obvious now. Hindsight is 50/50! Don’t backseat quarterback me now).

But it was not just the differences of setting that contributed. While Raleigh was adopted at six months old, my family acquired Duncan much younger, around 10 weeks. Which means I have a much cuter first picture of him with me, since he was a fluffy, flat-faced puff of adorable-ness and I was 13 years old and therefore Kate Moss skinny.

It’s fortunate that I am turned to the side so that you can barely see the glasses. It was the 1990’s! Anyhow, let’s move on.

Having only owned two fox terriers, I am not an expert, but I do think that getting a dog young can make a huge difference in one of the most important areas of dog ownership: house breaking. Compared to Raleigh, Duncan was a pure joy to teach about where to piss. As a tiny puppy he seemed so open to anything we wanted to teach him. My sister and I would take him out in the backyard armed with a pockfull of treats and then throw him a little party every time he did it right. In a few weeks he only went outside.

In comparision, housebreaking Raleigh nearly broke me, and took over a full year. I’ve been hesitant to admit that figure here before because I felt like such a  loser the whole time. I was reading advice on the internet nearly daily about what I was doing wrong, and pretty much every dog trainer out there likes to talk about how it is not the dog’s fault. I frequently read things like, “if the dog is going inside, it is the owner’s fault. Be more vigilant you neglectful fuck up.”

It was awful.

But it was not all my fault! Raleigh had had six months to learn about where to potty before I got her. She was not a blank slate, eagerly anticipating encouragement. She was actually a bit of a neurotic fearful dog at first, and unable to focus on the task at hand outside. And while certainly there were things I could have done better (like quitting my job to watch her for signs of a full bladder all day long!) they did not fit a busy city lifestyle. So I let it got for a while and pretended it was not miserable.

But it was pretty bad. The turning point was, finally, hands-on professional advice. It took me way too long to call a trainer because I was embarrassed that my dog was over a year old, and still indoor pissy. But when I finally tried Denise Herman at Empire of the Dog, life improved dramatically.

What I’d like to impress upon anyone else out there googling “why does my fox terrier pee inside?” “housebreaking disaster” or “this dog is killing me with pee” is that IT IS NOT YOU! Don’t believe the trainers that place blame. Just find a nice one and make a call. Then throw out your carpet, or better yet, do what I did: MOVE.

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Finally: the last installment in my three-part tail and some helpful pointers for anyone dogwalking in Brooklyn, aka the borough of the beast that bit my dog. Here are parts one and two if you missed them.

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Note: Thanks to everyone who got worried and wrote in. I mentioned in post one that this was last spring but if you just read this post and missed that, you might have thought my dog was still hurt. Sorry for the alarm. This is a true story but it is 9 months old. Raleigh is fine.

This is second of a three-part series (Yes, it just grew by a part. Sorry to keep you on the edge of your seat) on what happened when Raleigh was attacked by a monster dog on the streets of Brooklyn. And its going to be the post with the graphic images, so be prepared to see the Raleigh Pop mascot looking a bit like steak tartare.

Part One here.

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In this, the first of a two part series, I shall share the true tail of how Raleigh was attacked and bitten by a Great Dane. As usual, I will start with a disclaimer. I am told Great Danes are gentle giants and I not writing to slam the breed. I don’t know any personally and they may very well be the epitome of docility. However, even calm people sometimes have to go apeshit. You should have seen my dad the day I was ticketed for driving 85 mph  in a 55 mph zone.

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Yesterday Owner told you all about how we got our name. And while it may not all have worked out the way she planned, we have been really happy with it. (But let’s face it. We started life as Dolly, so there was no where to go but up).

We know that letting your Owner pick your name does not always work out so well for other dogs. Though we never met him, we were very happy to see that Snicker’s new Owners changed his name to Mason. Good call. Can we universally ban all candy-bar names from now on?

This morning, we were in the park minding our own business when all of a sudden we come to find our butt being stiffed. Not a rare occurrence give our cuteness, but we kindly explained that we were spayed and too busy looking for ice to eat to bother with any of that at 8 am this morning. The sniffer persisted.

Which led the sniffer’s owner to call out:

“Mc LOVIN’ Come here Mc LOOOOOVIN’ ”

?!?!?!?!?!?

People. You’ve got to be kidding us.

Earlier: Q & A: What’s in a Dog Name?

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About a month after the Snickers saga, I got an email from his new Owners, Natasha and Jeremy, which gives this story a happier ending than the one I wrote yesterday. Once in New Jersey, Snickers became Mason. Here is what his new mommy and daddy said:

Mason is a great dog!  He is such a lover, he cuddles, gives “kisses” and he even spoons! We have him on a schedule, I get up with him for a run at 6am, feed him breakfast at 8am. Jeremy takes him for a walk at 9am then a walk on his lunch hour at 1pm. We usually meet at the dog park around 5pm, have dinner at 7pm and take another walk at 9pm and sometimes a midnight stroll if we stay up late. He does well with the schedule and was an angel on our 10 hour drive to Cincinnati for the holidays. Our families fell in love with him too. He was so sweet with all the kids, even the one year old. We use a harness to walk him and it is a god-send. We like that it doesn’t choke him and we have soo much more control. He walks very nice now. The only problem is the potty. He doesn’t tell us when he has to go, and we walk him enough that it shouldn’t be a problem but it happens. Do you have any suggestions? I was thinking about putting a bell on the door and ringing it every time we take him to go potty so maybe he will ring it when he needs to go. I’m sure we’ll all get the potty thing under control though.

Thank you so much, he really is a great guy!
Natasha and Jeremy

Spooning? Who’d a thought? Maybe I was just an inadequate lover for him? Does he like it ruff? In any case, I am glad he met his matches and am happy to have hooked up this love fest.

Regrettably, I don’t have a video of Snickers doing anything cute. I do have Betty White doing a Snickers commercial.

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If you are just joining this story, it would seem you’ve caught the tail end. Please start here and then go here.

Once Snickers had pissed on everything in my home and pissed off everyone in it, I was feeling pretty bad. Taking him back would mean that he would be put down, so the pressure was on to get him adopted before we both got evicted. In a panic I emailed my shelter contact to ask her to step it up in the search for a new home. I sent her new pictures to email and post online, wrote Snickers a glowing review, and waiting anxiously by the computer for some news.

On the seventh day of what can only be called a hostage situation, a couple in New Jersey said that they wanted to meet him. I cleared my schedule.

I took Snickers out for a walk, hoping to tire him out a little before they arrived, or at least get some of the pee out. When they arrived I staged a dramatic play:

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