Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 20: SUNDAY
Mikey is fearless in the face of a ferocious (bronze) wolf!

Today we decided to start training Mikey on "come". He's making slow but steady progress.  He definitely comes running if you are holding a treat, or even if you might be holding a treat.  If you're squatting, he'll also come running, even without you saying "come"! 

It's a little trickier if you call out "Come!" when you're behind him, off to the side, in a different room, or standing without an obvious treat in your hand. 

That's okay.  It's just his first day.  We'll keep working on it.

Great news!  Mikey's page on the NYC Shiba Recuse site has been updated.  Read all about him here.  But you already know everything about Mikey!

Mikey is so relaxed and chill and cool.  Sometimes he's very un- dog- like.  He doesn't bark, or chase squirrels, or bother the cat, or anything!  Yesterday Scott said "If someone put a dog like Mikey in a story, people would look at the writer and say 'Have you ever MET a dog?' " It's true! 

But then when Mikey sniffs trees and fire hydrants, or when Mikey dances with excitement at dinner time, or when he eats food he finds on the sidewalk (gotta stay alert!), and when he decides to act cute and sit to extort a treat, it's easy to remember: Mikey's a dog through and through!

A cab ride, the farmer's market, a big grassy park, and another EPIC walk back home made Saturday a fun and exhausting day for both me and Mikey!  Mikey tolerated the cab ride to the park very well.  The crowded farmers market was a little rough for him, especially since there were lots of people walking in all different directions.  But I kept him on a short leash and we made it through okay.  

He did enjoy the pig skin dog treats from the pork vendor.  

Smiling dog, gruff farmers.

 They cut the pig skin into tiny pieces and Mikey politely sat for each piece.

Mikey endorses Bradley Farm.
 Three different people asked me what kind of dog he was and commented on how well- behaved he was.  People almost always ask me “A shiba inu?  But aren’t they brown?” I explain most shiba inus are brown but there are also black ones and white ones.  (Technically “brown” and “white” aren’t the correct terms.  But I’m pretty sure they’re not looking for that much detail, so I don’t say “red” or “cream”.  And I leave out the sesame ones entirely!)  

Also on Saturday, one woman asked “A shiba inu?  But don’t their tails sort of curl up?”  I explained most do but some shiba tails are curved and other shiba tails, like Mikey’s, are just straight. 

I like Mikey’s straight tail.  It’s so fluffy that it looks like a fox’s tail!

Hey there, foxy tail.
Then we went into the park!  The weather was sunny but chilly so the park wasn’t very crowded.  Mikey got to walk on grass, play on tree stumps, and see gorgeous blooming cherry trees. 

There’s a dog beach at this park, but we skipped it because dogs can only swim there between 9 pm and 9 am.  (Also I forgot a towel.  And I forgot where the dog beach was.)

Thanks to Fido Brooklyn to the great pic!
 We alternated walking at a normal pace with slow ambling.  I tried to explain to Mikey that people walk fast in New York City, and he doesn’t live in New Jersey anymore.  He’s a New Yorker now!  He seemed to accept this.  There were many other dogs, but they left Mikey alone and vice versa.  We hiked through some forested areas.  I think he enjoyed the different terrain.  

Mikey did sit over and over. 



Sit.  (Maybe it's time to teach him a new trick?)

He earned many tiny pieces of apple for all those good sits. Maybe too many-- he got a little sick from all the treats and excitement!  Good thing I had an extra moses bag so I could pick up his mess.  Poor Mikey.  We took it easy after that.  (Which reminds me:  at the park, he did robert but no moses.)

Then, when we tried to get home, we couldn't find a cab.  We had to walk the whole way home!  It was all downhill, though.  Mikey REALLY likes walking downhill.  Sometimes he'll even break into a run when going downhill!  So it wasn't a problem.

And naturally Mikey wasn't tired at all once we got home.  Where does he get all the energy?  We went out to see friends in the evening.  Then when we got home after 10:30 pm, we walked Mikey.  He's gotten so good about robert and moses.  He almost never has an accident!  And he's been happily sleeping outside the crate.  What a good dog.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 18: Mikey and the Flowers

 Today's blog post will be an album of Mikey with blooming flowers behind him.  Happy Spring, everyone!

(Okay, yes, this one has no flowers.  But it's darn cute.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 17: How To Pet Mikey

There's a right way and a wrong way to do everything.  Petting Mikey is no different.

Petting dogs may seem like the easiest thing in the world.  But Mikey generally doesn't like the traditional "pet from above" action.  If you try to pet the top of his head, he'll often back off, and if you try to pet his back, he'll almost always flinch and evade you.  People usually try these places first, and then Mikey backs off. Then they don't try again. Poor Mikey.

Look at those fluffy furry jowls!

But when YOU meet Mikey, he won't flinch away! You will know the trick.  The trick to petting Mikey is two- part, and BOTH are counter- intuitive! One: you must come from underneath.  Two: you must anticipate that he will back up exactly two small steps.  These can be tricky to do in combination, but you're in luck!  I have provided a step- by- step guide.

Learn how to pet me!
1) Slowly move your open hand, fingers outstretched, toward the underside of Mikey's chin, but do not touch him.
2) Let Mikey sniff your hand.  If you're lucky, he may give you a small lick with his pink tongue. (Odd of getting licked increase if you just handled food.)
3) Move your hand slightly closer to his jowl.  I always start with his left jowl (on my right side).
4) This is when he will back up exactly two small steps.  This is okay.  He's not running away, just backing up a bit. You should stay right where you are.
5) After a moment, then you may reach out and pet his left jowl.  You can really get your fingernails in there and scratch a bit. He seems to really enjoy this, even though I imagine he probably can't feel much, with all his fur.
6) You'll know you've done it exactly right if he presses his head against your hand.  Awwww.
7) Resist the urge to grab his other jowl to pet both and snuggle his furry face.  This is advanced petting.  Do not attempt unless you are a professional.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 16: Mikey's Secret Speediness
Here comes the speed demon!
Today I was able to ask Mikey's dog walker a few questions. I learned something that surprised me quite a lot: Mikey breaks out the SPEED on his walks!

Apparently when Mikey is in a big pack of dogs-- 4 or more, including him-- he doesn't sniff and walk slowly. He walks quickly, keeping up with the pack! I was astonished to learn this! I was very worried that he would not be able to do pack walks, because of his typical methodical pace and his love of sniffing everything he sees. I worried he would cause discord, with some dogs rushing ahead while Mikey was lingering behind.  But the opposite happens! Mikey rises to the occasion and matches pace with his packmates!

However, if it's just Mikey, or if it's a smaller pack (like Mikey plus only 1 or 2 other dogs), then he returns to his leisurely pace and resumes sniffing every sniff-able object in the universe.  Very strange.

The dog walker's suggestion: get more dogs!  And she's right!  If I had 3 more dogs, Mikey would be fine on his walks.  But THAT's not going to happen as long as I live in this small 1- bedroom apartment!

(For the record: morning walk, robert only.  Then he ate less than half his breakfast, but he definitely likes the new Chicken and Sweet Potato flavor wet food. Afternoon walk: both robert and moses!!)

I bought the small size in case he disliked it.  But next time I'm getting the large!

Day 15: Mikey: Sitting Extortionist
Mikey has "sit" down cold.  He knows it SO WELL.  He's still not fast, but he always does sit.  I've even been working on "sit!" with my back to him, or behind him, or without a treat in my hand, and he still does a good "sit"!  (Eventually.)

Recently Scott was in charge of the post- work walk and dinner.  Apparently, when Scott was making Mikey's dinner, Mikey hung out in the kitchen.  Every time Scott looked at him, Mikey would sit!  Then, as Scott carried the bowls of food and water out for Mikey, Mikey preceded him, walking backwards, doing "sit" over and over!  He must have been very hungry.  It sounded like it was so cute.

But recently I learned Mikey has been using the power of "sit" for evil, not just for good.  
Evil Mikey.
It's true.  Mikey has been using "sit", combined with his cute face, to coerce treats from unsuspecting people!  He's an extortionist!

Here's the thing:  I trained Mikey to respond to my "sit!" commend by sitting, whereupon he would get a treat and a "gooood siiit!"  But if he sits at a time that I didn't command it, he'll get a "gooood siiit!" but no treat.  Treats only come when I ask for the sit.  I trained HIM; he didn't train ME.  I'm not just some sit- activated treat machine!

Then his dog walker told me about how much Mikey likes to sit, but then when she gives him a treat, all the other dogs want a treat too, and then she runs out of treats! I couldn't believe it: MIKEY TRAINED HIS DOG WALKER!

I laughed and told her she doesn't have to give him a treat when he sits, unless she ASKED him to sit.  She was quite relieved!

Extortion is a serious offense, but I can only hope we caught Mikey early in his life of crime.  Maybe he can turn himself around and become a productive member of society, and leave behind his criminal past.

Day 14: Mikey Superstar
Sorry, Mikey, this isn't our house.

Mikey is doing so well with us.  I can't believe it's only been 2 weeks.  He's such a relaxed, chilled- out, easy dog. He's ridiculously well- behaved!  I've been relieved to see how he is around Panzer the cat (he ignores him) and how he is around kids (sweet and gentle).

On his early morning walk, Mikey did robert, no moses.

Well, hello there.
Today Csaba the dog walker started taking Mikey out for a later walk, around 3. We hope this will align with Mikey's need to robert and moses.  So imagine my disappointment when I came home a little after 6 to... a horrible smell.  Both robert AND moses on the floor!  Poor Mikey!

Mikey in profile!
And what do I find in the next room?  Panzer had puked at some point during the day!  Poor Panzer! So this was a rough day for ALL the animals in my house.  Time to clean!

Since Mikey had already gone to the bathroom, it was less urgent to walk him when I got home. I cleaned the messes, had a snack, and read. Then we had dinner.  After dinner, we did his walk.  Robert only.  Despite my mistakes that led to him having an accident, Mikey was in good spirits the whole time.  What a great dog!

The good news: this was Mikey's last day of eye ointment!  After I applied the medicine to his eyes for the last time, I threw the empty tube into the garbage with a great flourish.  I think Mikey knew on some level that he was done with those odd twice- daily moments of discomfort.  Even though Mikey clearly disliked the ointment, he was such a good boy throughout that whole process.  And I gained a little more confidence in medicating animals.