February 24, 2009

Dog for a Month

Filed under: Pet — mmrobins @ 9:59 am


We’ve now had Ubuntu for close to a month and we’re loving her. I’ve learned a lot about having a house dog too, as I’ve had dogs before at my parents, but never inside dogs. At my parents our dogs only came in for a little while when it was cold out. Ubuntu has access to our yard through a doggy door, but she doesn’t spend most of her time outside.

The first new thing that I found really weird at first was this concept of having a crate. My initial reaction was that crating a dog just seems cruel as they have to spend so much time cooped up. However, she loves her crate. She feels safe in there and goes in there to gnaw on bones. When she’s ready for bed she just goes in. However, recently she’s figured out how to open the crate door by shaking it until the slide locker comes loose. Lately when I come home from work she’s at the door to greet me since she’s escaped her crate.

Another thing I never subscribed to before was the notion of using treats for training. That always seemed like the easy way out. Well, it is. It’s so much easier. Ubuntu has learned so many tricks so much faster than I’ve been able to teach my dogs in the past. We’re currently teaching her to bring us her leash before we go on a walk, and for that one treats aren’t necessary since the walk is it’s own reward.

Ready for dinner

Having to walk a dog twice a day is something fairly different too. At times it seems like an inconvenience, but a half hour after work walking seems to do me good as well as the dog. When we got her she pulled like crazy on her leash, but then we got a halti head collar and it was magical. We spent a bit of time doing research on the halti vs the gentle leader, but in the end they both seemed like great options as long as you could find the right size in either. We got the halti because it was $2 cheaper and has a backup latch that attaches to the collar. Basically it’s like a harness for the dog’s head, so that if they pull, it turns them around with their own force. Ubuntu was so confused initially as to why when she pulled forward, she ended up looking sideways. She’s still not the most well behaved dog on a leash, but she’s getting better and the halti saves the walks from being a constant struggle.

Another area I never really worried about with outside dogs was their nails. Inside we actually need to worry about her scratching up the floors and since she interacts more with people we don’t want her having claws either. We bought some nail clippers, but Ubuntu’s nails hadn’t been trimmed in quite some time and they’re black so we immediately cut the quick and she bled. I’ve since switched to using a dremmel to slowly get her nails back to a decent length. It’s taken some time to get her to be okay with the dremmel process, but it’s a lot less error prone than clipping.

Finally, I’ve found I love watching the Dog Whisperer. I would watch it without owning a dog if I had known how interesting it was. I thought it would bore me to death to watch a dog trainer, but it turns out to be more about training people than dogs and the psychological aspects of that. It’s fascinating.

Time to go feed the dog breakfast.

January 18, 2009

Start Off Fasting – End Up With Ubuntu

Filed under: General,Pet — mmrobins @ 6:33 pm

Ubuntu the Dog

Kim and I were so busy this fall with house hunting that we didn’t make time for our semi-annual fast, so we decided to do one this weekend. However, we didn’t last very long. Not because of will power mind you. No, it was because we got a dog! That’s just too much excitement to try to not eat for 2-3 days.

We had already juiced two of our “meals” for the day and decided to try to take a bike ride on the Springwater Corridor trail, but we only went about a mile because the wind was ferocious! I don’t think the wind we’re having now is normal for Portland. I can’t imagine being in a hurricane. Anyway, it took about 15 minutes to go a mile pedaling into the wind and about 2 seconds to pedal back. On the way back we saw a dog shelter and stopped in. They had a 1.5 year old ridgeback mix named Sally. At least we think it’s a ridgeback mix. There’s no ridge, but she has most of the other characteristics. We almost decided to take her immediately since everyone who came in the doors also wanted to see her. I think she was shown to 6 other people that day. We decided to go back home and warm up and rest a little since being cold, tired and hungry make it really hard to make a decision. Once we had a chance to think it over though we knew we wanted her. Fortunately nobody else took her while we were making our decision.

It took about 20 minutes to sign all the paperwork and ask all the questions we needed. The adoption fee was $200 at Family Dogs New Life, but it included getting her spayed, shots, a leash and collar, some dog food, toys, a month of pet insurance, one free vet visit, a six week training class and a ton of great information in both printouts and a DVD. I was really impressed with all the things they included to make getting a dog easier, and the shelter is a no kill shelter. Seems like a great organization.

Not much was known about our new dog since she came from a shelter in Yakima and was only at Family Dogs for a couple days before we took her home. She had been called Sally and Skinny Minnie since you can see her ribs so well. She didn’t really seem to be attached to the name Sally, so we decided to call her Ubuntu since it’s a Zulu word (Rhodesian Ridgebacks were bred to be hunting dogs in Africa) that describes a nice concept which is loosely means “humanity to others”. It’s also a Linux distribution that I use both at home and at work instead of Windows. Ubuntu (we also like to shorten it to just two sillables “oo-boo”) has been at home for one day now and is doing really well. She’s extremely eager to please and already seems to have learned the sit command pretty well. She weighs 42 pounds, but is a tad underweight right now, and we’re not sure if she’ll keep growing since we don’t know her exact age. We got her a crate which is something pretty weird to me as I’ve never done that, but everyone recommends it, and it does make sure that she doesn’t get into any trouble while we’re asleep. She follows us everywhere in the house, but isn’t needy since if we stop moving, she just lays down and chills out nearby. She was just spayed a couple days ago, so we’ll have to remove the stitches in a week or so. We didn’t know if she was housebroken, and she had one accident in the living room right after she got home, but since has been very good about going outside. She seems to make a weird bark/cough sound to let us know she needs to go out, so we weren’t sure if she could bark, but we heard her bark once today at something out the window.

I’m sure that’s plenty of info about our awesome new dog. I hope you all get a chance to meet her soon.