Friday, May 18, 2012

I guess the spinning will always be with us. She surely started it in her puppy-mill cage, like a prisoner doing calisthenics to keep from going nuts. But now I see that there are many kinds of spin:

There’s the super-joyful celebration when the dinner plate is headed her way. A whirling dervish!

There’s her measured pace out in the yard to learn about what’s going on. Not quite a spin, more of an open circle. 

Then, like any other dog, she turns and turns to trample the bedding before setting in for a nap. 

And then there’s the compulsive spinning which I won’t mention again unless its to say that the demons of her past have been lifted from her furry brow!

And it’s starting to be a furry brow. Coco’s looking much cuter now that her hair is growing in, and she even seems like she might like it here. That’s her red towel on the couch! That’s her rawhide bone which she likes to chew as much as the next dog! There’s her her place in the sun for morning naps, which she takes every day before coming up to my office with me where she sleeps until Libby gets home from school. A sad side note is that I have to keep her on the chair in order to maintain the illusion that she’s house broken. Just today there was a mess-up when I left her alone downstairs. And she'd just been outside!

Ain't Misbehavin'!

On another note Libby has been studying angles in math, and so I had right angles on my mind while walking Pixy yesterday. I noticed this huge leaf and picked it for that reason when I saw that the main veins were at perfect right angles to each other. Are they always this perfect? And why do the secondary veins get pulled out of this geometry?

What pulls the secondary veins off the 90ยบ angle?

I walked home trying to fish out anything I knew about the Fibonacci Sequence which turned out to be nothing beyond the fact that it exists. Maybe Libby will be able to explain this leaf to me in a year or two...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Settling In

I know, I know: I haven’t posted in a dog’s age.

Well, we had our beloved friend Jacky
Libby and Jacky

visiting us from Germany over the last two weeks so I didn’t want to take the time to write about Coco. That doesn’t mean nothing’s been happening! We took a lovely trip to Bronx Botanical gardens where I discovered that Libby’s quite good with the camera:

And we’re getting the hang of the potty habits! We’ve had only one accident in the house over the last two weeks, and looking back on it I think it’s possible that Coco was signalling that she wanted to go out and I just thought she was petitioning for some of the lunch we were not sharing with her. 

We went eight days in a row without incident which can only mean that Morin and I are finally on board with Coco’s schedule! She’s really got us trained. Every three hours about does it, except that the long nap in the afternoon gives about four hours between trips.

I had hoped this blog would be helpful to anyone else trying to convert a caged dog into a pet but I still have little advice to offer. At the least, I can show you how nicely her hair is growing in.  

And she’a nice dog. Here she is helping Libby at homework time:

Helping Libby to NOT do homework, that is.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Coco has been here ten days now. She’s happier! Barkier! More at ease with everybody. But still, she spins.

And those other things like crate and potty habits are still where they were. Last night we brought her outside for the last time and she just did this:

For the superstitious among you, she seems to only go in a clockwise direction
She can keep this up for an hour, so we finally brought her in and put her in her crate for the night. Just like on Monday, it took a little time for her to settle down and when all was quiet? She barked her little bark as if to say.... So, Morin brought her outside again but still nothing happened. Then, this morning at eight there was a bit of a mess in the crate! When? Why? 

But Coco seems to be more at home all the time. She wagged her tail at Morin today when he came back from the library. She protected her territory as best she could this morning, but too bad the passing dog didn’t hear her when she ran up to the gate and barked. 

And this morning? Coco did that most doggy of dog gestures: She bounced down on her elbows and barked at Pixy! She wanted to play! 

And here are photos of Pix the shaggy dog (Coco's using her butt for a head rest)

And today, Pix went to the dog parlor and got a new style. It was Libby's idea to braid her long ear fur.

Things are looking up!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Coco’s Black Box

We can only guess at what will make Coco into a healthy, happy dog. All we know about her was told to us by the rescuers from whom she came.  (Ruff House in Long Island) I wish she came with a "Black Box" so we could look at her past and know how best to help her. We know that she was a breeder dog, but the rescuers said she was from “a good place, not a puppy mill.” And “Puppy Mill Breeder Dogs are not adoptable for at least a year after they’ve been rescued.”  It makes me wonder what they do to those dogs, because Coco has some behaviors I can only describe as crazy. 

Like: she circles. Not like a dog trampling down grass to make a comfortable bed (although she does do that, too.) No, she paces and circles when she’s not in a crate or being held by Libby or Morin. She jogs back and forth like she’s looking for something, and she skitters away from anyone trying to catch her. Have a look:

Then, there is her potty ritual. I’m guessing that she used to relieve herself in her cage, because first of all, she WILL go in her crate if we aren’t around. Crate training relies on the notion that dogs won’t go in the place where they have to eat and sleep. Does this mean poor Coco had no choice but to do this? 

Here’s the disturbing morning ritual that I witnessed yesterday and the day before: I took her out of the crate and brought her outside, placing her on our grassy area. (It’s not actually a lawn. We’re working on that, too.) After pacing and circling and pacing some more she seemed to get the right scent and began to whirl around in a very tight circle, faster and faster until at last she could crouch and do the deed. Then the agitation doesn’t stop there: she kicked around the evidence. Does this mean she had to clean her own cage back at the “better that a puppy mill”? And can we possibly hope that she’ll become comfortable in our yard where nothing is threatening her?

We had a little set back yesterday morning: I brought her outside first thing and she paced and twirled for the better part of an hour before she even piddled. Eventually the family’s attention went to morning showers and getting dressed. We thought we’d closed her in her crate but somehow the door was left unlatched (or Coco is keeping her safe crackin’ skillz under wraps) and we ended up with an “accident” on the upstairs rug. This wasn’t an accident: Coco had every chance to do this in the great outdoors. OK, Great Dog Whisperers of the Web--how do we deal with this?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why a rescue dog?

Libby wanted a Maltese, and you can probably see why from these pictures we swiped from the web:

Wait a minute...
Morin and I think that here are too many house pets out there without a home, so we will not go to a breeder for a new animal. All of our critters are from rescue organizations, and because of the web it’s getting much easier to locate the pet you think you want. The easiest thing to do is enter a search for the pet you want in Libby had seen and liked a Shih-poo (Shih tsu - poodle cross) walking in town one day and she found a few on Petfinder. There was a grown one available for adoption in a nearby town, so we contacted the rescue group which, oddly, was called Cat Assistance. That particular dog had been adopted, but the woman who ran the place said she was getting two puppies from a puppy mill the next week. We were first on their waiting list, so we had a choice between these two girls:

We chose the girl on the left because she seemed more interested in us. And I think you’ll agree that 

she’s just, I don’t know, nobler. She was easy to house train and she grew up to be a lovely dog as I said before. We used the classic crate-training method which you can find all over the web, but here’s one site:

When we learned that Coco wasn’t housebroken yet we thought we’d just treat her like a puppy and crate train her as we did for Pixy. 

We learned pretty quickly that there was going to be more to it than that.

me (:

      my name is libby I'm the daughter of barbara i am also the one who said c-c-could w-w-we want a dooog. it took hard work perservirence and the risk of getting a fish.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Getting A Second Dog

My husband, my daughter and I did not know what we were doing when we adopted a dog from a rescue organization. We thought, "How can it be harder than having a puppy?" We'd crate-trained our first puppy and she became really the best dog you could wish for. Pixy does nothing wrong except maybe chew shoes. And beg a little when we're eating. And chew anything that's special to my daughter that was accidentally left not in lock-down. But she's nice to everyone and barks at no one but the Fed Ex guy who comes only a couple of times a month to drop off some work-related stuff. So really, she's like the receptionist to our home office.

My daughter wanted her own pet. Our house followed the usual order of a house with kids: The kids imagine the dog will be their beloved friend, and then the dog only has eyes for the hands that feed them which translates to the dog being Mom's dog.

We thought we'd try again with a new dog, and my daughter would do her best to feed and take care of the new beast. Libby wanted a Maltese, which is a very small dog and we were able to find one on Petfinder. I'll tell you more later...