Another “gotcha” day celebration

March 19, 2014

St. Patrick’s Day is the day Kipper came to stay with us full time.  I still remember him sitting in the kitchen watching me cook Corned Beef and Cabbage, learning  to be a “house dog.” Hard to believe it’s been 4 years. This year’s dinner guests actually comments on how much calmer Kipper is now. I remember when I couldn’t get his harness on him and the other day he actually ran over to the back door and looked up at where it hangs.  He’s still not as easy as Quincy and most times I still have to scoop him up and carry him to the harness while he makes various vocalizations that range from guttural to high pitched to a final silence by the time I plop him down and wrap it around him.

He is still the smartest dog I’ve ever had. About a month ago I bought a Nina Ottensen puzzles (one of the more difficult ones) to amuse the dogs during this snowy winter. Kipper figured it out in 30 seconds and wanted to play again. I have taken to adding the plastic bones that make it more of a challenge and the gleam in Kipper’s eye when he sees it is wonderful.  Quincy is still working on it and generally prefers the kong that you just have to push to get treats to fall out.

Last month, I had a trainer come to the house to help me brush up on my clicker skills, she pronounced him a “joy to work with.”  I think it’s his OCD that gives him such a great work ethic. Like those labradors who will chase a ball til they drop, Kipper is never bored when he is working or making up his own games. I do wish he would stop stealing the cloth napkins off the guest’s laps but maybe next year.

He’s clearly the poster child for giving a “difficult” dog some time, good food and a job. He will probably never be a dog for everyone but every day I am thankful he’s a dog for me.





A dog should be forever

September 9, 2013

One of our foster homes has decided she no longer wants to keep a dog. He’s an older guy, a bit creaky with arthritis and has recently been neutered and had a cyst removed. She tried to pet him while he was sleeping, he was startled and bit her.  She freely admits it’s her fault but now she is “afraid” of a dog whom she formerly claimed to love. Really?  One bite is all it takes. One of the on line  training groups I belong to had an interesting post from a well known trainer. something to the effect of “expecting a dog never to bite under any circumstances is like expecting humans never to lose our tempers.” Since even the Dalai Lama admits to losing it sometimes, he is probably glad he isn’t a rescue dog.

Another breakthrough

August 27, 2013

Every dog walker eventually meets all the other dog walkers who are on the same schedule. In our case there are about 15 dogs of various sizes we see fairly regularly. Quincy loves every dog he sees even the ones whose owners walk right by. Kipper is more selective and lately he is actually ignoring dogs he used to react to. He’s also getting better with new and bigger dogs. Just last week we met Max, the pit bull. Max is young and very friendly. When they first met Kipper and he sniffed noses and bounced.  At their second meeting Kipper made his “growly” sound that all dogs seem to recognize as a friendly sound even though it freaks out many owners. (it freaked me out for a while til I saw how every other dog reacted positively to it.)  I’m am slowly increasing my dog vocabulary.

We didn’t see Max for a few days. Today Max was on the other side of the street and Kipper looked interested so we crossed over to see him. Kipper walked right by Max without so much as a sniff.  He has done this before with small dogs he knows and he has also done it with Polly the kind yellow lab who was the first big dog he learned to greet nicely. This is the first time he’s done it with a dog he’s only seen a few times. He’s adjusting to new dogs much quicker than he did.  I think we may almost be ready to try the farmer’s market or the “dog days” street fair.


Some improvements happen so slowly you don’t even notice them happening

July 22, 2013

Kipper is now about 85% non leash aggressive. Hard to believe that my little guy is no longer the completely hysterical barking growling lunatic most of the time. He greets dogs his own size with either a polite nose sniff or just a walk by. He responds to request to play with a happy bounce. Certain red dogs still elicit his hysterical barking and he continues to study cars and spin when they go by but not all the time and mostly when the cars exceed the speed limit. Perhaps he was a traffic cop in a former life. Anyway, another milestone.

Pumpkin Ravioli – Ravioli con la Zucca Dentro e Fuori

May 15, 2013

My friend Midge is writing a wonderful blog about her three months in Italy. I’d like to “like” her blog but can’t figure out how so I’m reposting this entry which looks very tasty.

Nonna's Mulberry Tree

This is the beginning of the most exciting part of my living in Italy.  Learning how to cook not like an Italian American but like a Pontelandolfese.  Today, I am sitting next to the gorgeous, multi-lingual, brilliant Annarita Mancini and she is going to unearth the secret of the incredible ravioli con zucca. We decided that this is not a cook book blog but a “watch your nonna” and “listen to your nonna” blog.  Everything is a pinch of this and a handful of that. So just leap into the conversation and add your nonna’s touches too.  Sit back, think foodie thoughts and follow along.

For you lovers of language we will post the first recipe but not a recipe  in Italian ably written by Annarita and then in English poorly written by me.

Facilissimo preparare i ravioli!  Un uovo per 100 grammi di farina…io e mamma abbiamo dovuto usare…

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Another trick I’ve learned

May 15, 2013

We just finished celebrating Mothers Day and I want to share my latest trick to help Kipper act like a more normal dog. It’s  12 inch dried cow tracheas! I keep them out of sight and smell but close enough so that when visitors arrive I can grab them and yell “who wants a trachea?” Both Kipper and Quincy love them (they may not know as many words as a border collie but they are regular Einsteins when it comes to food nouns.) Each grabs his and runs in opposite directions. With luck Kipper will go outside but even if he just trots off to another room we all enjoy dog free time for at least 30 minutes. My mother swears he was calmer the entire visit after eating his large treat.  They are way better than marrow bones since they aren’t as messy and neither dog is tempted to bury them for later.

I’ve been impressed with how other bloggers can upload photos so my next goal is to learn how to do that.  I uploaded a photo of Quincy and me to the about me section . My next goal will be to learn to post stuff from my iphone. I have a cute video of Quincy and Kipper playing in the back yard I’d like to share.


Another year, some more small victories

March 31, 2013

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last posted. Kipper is still making progress, In fact, our St. Patrick’s day visitors (who don’t seem him often) actually commented on how much calmer he has gotten. We’re still working with a homeopathic vet and his last remedy did result in a predicted behavioral set back for a few weeks. It felt like two steps backward since Kipper was much more agitated and harder to calm down for a while but now he’s back at least to where he was and maybe even a little calmer. This morning I watched him gently lick Quincy’s ears for at least 10 minutes. Now they are both outside in the yard enjoying the spring like weather. He is definitely better meeting most dogs (certain red chow like dogs excepted) and now has a greyhound girlfriend he sees most mornings. He still tries to chase outside cats and squirrels and barks at folks riding bikes but overall it’s a less intense reaction. He has taken to barking at some folks who walk in the middle of the street at night. I don’t know what that sets off in him but we just gently move away and eventually he stops. I continue to be thankful he is a cute 20 pounds and not a large pit bull which would definitely be a public relations problem. I’m thinking of trying teacup agility with him, it would exercise his brain, the dogs are small which are usually not a problem and the course is shorter so I might be able to remember it. This year I hope he calms down enough to stop pulling on his leash quite so much. I sometimes think he’s part husky.He is learning that if he pulls I stop walking. Although sometimes it seems we have to stop every step there are days when he walks without pulling for at least a minute so I know we will get there. He got a matching Lupine collar and harness for his “gotcha” day. Now both he and Quincy have quick release collars with their matching stainless steel collar tags. They both walk on harnesses so I don’t have to worry about the collar breaking and given Kipper’s tendency to lunge at unexpected movement I just feel better knowing his neck and trachea aren’t getting hurt. Now that I have an iphone I may try to post videos in the future.

Hard to believe it’s been two years

March 12, 2012

This Saturday, ST. Patrick’s Day, is Kipper”s “gotcha day.”  I remember letting him out of his cage to sit in the kitchen so he could start learning “house manners.”  He still lies in the same spot near the washing machine but two years ago it was wonderful to see him do it without non stop stress panting. My little guy is still working on learning how to greet guests nicely and he still occasionally chases his tail but when I think about what he was like two years ago and what we have learned together I’m delighted and amazed. There are no quick fixes for dogs with issues like Kipper has but the rewards of having them in your life and watching them get better are worth it.


a setback

August 11, 2011

Kipper has been doing pretty good with visitors lately even strangers. My strategy has been to have him first see them through the back door and then let him in to meet them rather than have him be all excited by the door bell. Yesterday with the energy audit guy (who was terrier person) Kipiper was great. A little jumping and then he settled right down. Unfortunately today he jumped up and, in trying to grab the service order the door repair guy was waving around, nicked his hand. I had been telling the repairman to please put the paper away but I guess he didn’t hear or understand me. Luckily he was ok with it, no skin broken but Kipper went into his crate til the door repair guy was gone. I couldn’t put him in the yard since we were working on the back door. I guess it’s always going to be one step forward and two steps back but I’ll have to keep a much closer eye on Kipper with non dog savvy strangers from now on. I’m committed to Kipper and the challenges he represents but I sure love my easy going cardis.


A couple of small victories

July 26, 2011

It’s about a year and four months since Kipper came to stay.  He’s still sometimes hyper and hasn’t yet completely mastered walking on a leash at a normal pace but days go by when he doesn’t spin at alla nd when he does it’s usually for less than two minutes. This morning he only tried to nip the repair guys shirt a couple of times before settling down.  After agility he lay in the shade calmly while I talked to a friend who held one golden retriever and had two more in crates in the back of her open van. Kipper still has some issues with big dogs but after a slight start when we first saw them  he neither lunged nor barked.He doesn’t react at all to small dogs he’s met more than once.

He still makes some scarely sounding noises but now I notice the wagging tail and the twinkle in his eye. His reaction to cars has changed from crazy lunging and barking at everything that moves to a more casual slight circle to try and chase the car. Barking is limited to cars that are going way too fast down our residential street. I take that as a good thing.