On Storm Keeping Ants Out of His Belly

Storm the Border Collie

Storm the Border Collie

I knew there was trouble as soon as I rounded the corner and caught sight of Storm’s kennel.  He was laying in it, as usual, peering up at me with those round, little Border Collie eyes.  However the shreds of plastic laying near the kennel entrance were new.  What the?  Oh no, it hit me like a wrecking ball (thank you Miley)…he had made an early morning snack of one of the ant traps I had set out!  Where’s the box, I thought, hoping that somewhere in the fine print it would state “really toxic to ants, but perfectly fine for canines to ingest and share with other doggie friends.”  Unfortunately, there was no such gentle wording on the box I yanked from the shelf (where I put all of the chemicals so the dogs don’t get into them…hrrrmmph).  It plainly stated that whatever was in those attractive little black discs was toxic for domestic animals. Now in my defense, the little voice in the back of my head had told me to be cautious.  For I know….I have an eater!  Storm has ingested items that would make any other dog shake his head in disbelief.  He has an affinity for toilet paper rolls and steals them from bathroom wastebaskets any chance he gets.  Cotton swabs are a delicacy in his eyes.  I still can’t find the tiny remote that belonged with my digital alarm clock….huh.  Anyway, I thought I was exercising caution when I put the ant trap up high and behind some appliances that would be tough to maneuver around.  Darn that canine sense of smell for betraying my stealth and cunning.  Storm must have smelled whatever attractant is housed in those black domes, and he wasted no time working to get to it.  I am still not sure how he maneuvered onto the kitchen island and around the appliances to get to it, but a snack was available, and he was going to have it!

So as it sank in that Storm could get seriously sick, my heart sank at my apparent lack of caution.  I hurriedly called my vet and luckily, since Storm has just recently enjoyed his unconventional meal, there was a chance that vomiting would help keep him out of trouble. One teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide was prescribed…two if he wasn’t “hurling chunks” in a matter of a few minutes.  Disclaimer:  this doesn’t always work, and certain things ingested are not good to bring back up so in short, kids, don’t try this at home without your vet’s approval.  Being a dog who tries his best to respond quickly to any demand placed upon him, Storm was launching remnants of ant bait, plastic and the morning’s kibble towards the floor shortly after I administered the first spoon of peroxide.  Good boy!  Just to show off, he threw up two more times afterwards. Ok, that’s enough…you can stop now!  Poor dog, he looked absolutely pitiful after all of this.  I am sure I did as well, but I was immeasurably relieved that my sweet boy was likely going to live to eat another toilet paper roll.

Dogs are certainly very intelligent and perceptive creatures. However they need us to be constant ambassadors to the human world and to help them stay away from things that they are just not able to interpret appropriately.  Especially if they are like my sweet Storm, and everything is interpreted as the next great meal!


May I pet your dog?

This lovely post reiterates a concept that, I don’t think, can be shared enough. I also love the fact that there is an analogy contained therein which speaks to how we humans would perceive an unexpected intrusion. Walk a mile in my paws.

Dog's Day Inn

May I pet your dog?

This is a very simple and important question, yet so often unasked.One of the biggest concerns we hear from clients is how other people will rush up to pet their dog without asking. Likewise, strangers will allow other dogs to pounce upon their dogs, again, without asking. Although the gesture is intended to be “friendly”, the importance of asking permission to pet or touch another dog FIRST should not be overlooked.

Remember, not all dogs want to be greeted, and there are many reasons for it. Dogs can be very protective of their owners and may consider the intrusion into their space as a threat. It is also very common for a dog to have a fear of strangers and your advance could cause a defensive reaction. The dog may even have aggressive tendencies that should be avoided for your own safety. Lastly, he may…

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wpid-20140820_095920.jpgToday’s photo post ties into the theme of “water.”  I decided to take a less direct approach than shooting a body of water, so I am sharing a picture of my Cockatiel Sydney, right after he received his first bath.  As you can tell, there is still a bit of water in those soft feathers of his.  Oftentimes, birds really enjoy taking baths.  Just give them a reservoir or stream of water, a feeling of security, and they jump right in.  Fearlessly, feet first, and feathers flying.  Sydney, however, was a bit more apprehensive. I put him near a gently running faucet and pretty soon, both he and the faucet were running!  Not wanting to traumatize the poor bird, I just let a bit of water run over him from my hand, which he still wasn’t crazy about, but tolerated.  I am proud to say that now, he will stand next to a bird bath, while I dip my fingers in and then sprinkle him.  It’s progress, folks, it’s progress.

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Relationship Rules Responses

Embed from Getty ImagesSydney recently started biting my finger. Not just putting his little beak on me or giving me a warning nibble, but offering me a full course (appetizer and dessert included) bite. It happens almost exclusively when I ask for a “step up” (a request for him to step onto my finger and perch there). This is so unlike the bird I had know prior to the last few weeks. He was usually always gentle and very willing to do what I asked when I needed him to. So why, I began to think, did this biddable little bird become Sir Chomps A Lot over the recent few weeks? A large part of the answer, I concluded, is relationship.

In the realm of working with animals and training them, a majority of the information that is shared revolves around the mechanics of teaching different behaviors and how to increase those behaviors and make them reliable. What isn’t touched upon enough is the fact that building a relationship is as important, if not more important, than the training process (and can help immeasurably with the latter concept). This is extremely necessaryu in the world of birds, as they often tend to be a bit more unforgiving than other species.  When work requests are favored over a solid connection, many things can suffer.  In Sydney’s case, trust fell away as I limited my time with him during recent, hectic weeks and became pretty adamant (instead of patient) about his stepping up in a timely manner. Trust is huge.  When it erodes, it plays a large part in other things that suffer in the wake of a poor relationship.  Predictability becomes shaky.  This happens both for the animal and the human, as the human handler no longer is able to feel comfortable about what the animal is going to do, and the animal isn’t able to count on a routine or familiarity when it comes to what the human is doing.  The latter is pretty important, as animals greatly rely on routines and the ability to predict outcomes. To them, oftentimes that is survival!   Finally, as there is less joy and pleasure in a partnership, the animal’s willingness to interact can suffer, leading to non-behavior or worse, aggressive behavior in the wake of requests.

So what might sound like the bad news, for you pet owners and animal trainers out there, is that it’s imperative that you build time into your schedules to nurture relationships with your animals. The good new is…that’s the fun stuff!!! Walk your dog. Take your bird out and sing to it. Let your dog play fetch in the water. Let your bird sit on your computer chair while you turn it around. Yes, that last one really happens at our house. No one can ever accuse me of not trying.  Here is a lovely video by one of my favorite bird trainers, Barbara Heidenreich, which talks about training parrots to do tricks (a great way to teach your parrot some useful behaviors and build a relationship with them).  Outside of the presentation she gives on working with a bird, notice how she handles the bird’s decision to get on her hand and do some behaviors she hasn’t necessarily asked for.  Her patience and enthusiasm, even in the face of “surprises,” allow the bird to remain at ease and willing to work with her!

So, the point here is, don’t be “all work and no play.” Your animal companion will greatly appreciate it, and his performance and interactions with you will reflect it in many positive ways!

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