Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Holding on to Winter

I need to get some pictures of our glaciers receding in the back yard. The porch is now clear. We even have retrieved some of the Christmas decorations that have not been in view since before Christmas. Others are still hoping to be unburied soon.

Katy and Bailey saw the last of their snow beach leave the porch last weekend during the rainstorm and two sadder dogs I had not thought to see. Bailey usually looks forward to the spring. He is not a fan of melting snow and prefers the green ground to run on. However, this snow pack was original in that it was high, it was hard, and it lasted a long time. The height allowed him access to sites, sounds, and smells he has not had before. He could almost see glimpses of the dog next door he has so longed to meet. He had better scents of him than ever before. The squirrel in the low hanging branches were more afraid then ever before as the top of the fence was not quite so out of reach to a quick moving Sheltie as before. Not that we were in danger of a fence breach, but for the first time Bailey has had glimpses of the other side and he liked that sensation. Losing his advantage has not pleased him.

We do not believe Katy had known much of an outdoor life prior to her foster experience. She loved the snow. However, this melting slushy mess is not scoring any points. The mud and water have even less appeal to our resident princess. She wants her ice pack back.

I do think they both will be happy when spring brings out the grass and owners willing to play outdoors more frequently. It is this awkward time of change frustrates them. I think they would prefer a theatrical set change. Lights down, ice pack gone, lights up and a nice green lawn ready for spring and summer play. Unfortunately, not the way Mother Nature works in New England.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sheltie Toy Boxes

Even before Katy came to us, we had two toy boxes. One used to store indoor dog toys and one for outdoor toys. The outdoor toy box is just a box that we put the dried outdoor toys in to keep them from being dragged out to play with in the house. The indoor toy box serves a similar function to children's toy boxes. It stores the toys the dogs are not playing with and makes cleaning a simpler task. We use a recycled plant box that is low to the ground and open so the dogs can identify what items are in the box.

Prior to Katy's arrival Bailey had pretty much ignored the indoor toy box except on vacuuming days. The days I vacuum, I take all his toys and pile them in the box so I can clean the floor. After I am done, he takes his favorite toys and removes them back to the floor to reclaim the space.

Family, friends, and my husband and I have bought many toys over time. After Christmas, I cleaned out the broken toys and those that were not good for play. The box is still full. Cute dogs attract dog gifts.

One of the warnings we got from the rescue about Katy is that she was bone protective. She would engage over bones. She showed little interest in toys when we got her, but they were right, she wanted bones. We made sure that she and Bailey had bones. When she became confident enough that there were plenty, she and Bailey became more engaged in using the bones as a way of enticing each other to play. As she got more confident with bones, Bailey got her interested in toys.

As she started to enjoy the toys on the floor, she was curious about the indoor toy box but hesitant to approach it. As her confidence has emerged, she has reintroduced toys to Bailey that he had long forgotten about and abandoned. Only a few nights ago she started a game of tug with a toy that I know was at the bottom of the pile. She had been on a quest to find something interesting. As she has shown an interest, Bailey has discovered new treasures in his toy box.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Shelties and Fleece

A few years ago, my Aunt and I bought yards of sports themed and other printed fleece to make blankets for Christmas presents. She sewed hems on the fabric and these blankets have become popular items. My husband has several from his favorite sports teams. We drape the couches with them to reduce the amount of Sheltie hair that becomes a permanent fixture on the furniture. When guests are coming it is easy to take the blankets off for an extra cleaning and give our guests a few less Sheltie hairs on their clothes.

The shelties have become very attached to the fleece blankets. Bailey was the first to discover the comfort of these blankets and realize with a little encouragement and nudging he could have them perfectly aligned for his comfort. Neither Katy nor Bailey seems to realize that the blankets are not theirs, but designed for human comfort and warmth. Bailey was thrilled when he got his own Patriots blanket, made from a remnant for his birthday. This only confirmed his suspicions that he was entitled to all the fleece, not just what my Aunt made for him. My Mom aided his belief by bringing him another fleece blanket that we keep on the bed for him.

The fleece blankets have proven a better alternative to his original attachment to our afghans. I had to have a crochet afghan repaired before I realized he was even near it. He had taken to cuddling with it and catching his claws in it when my husband used the afghan on the couch. With the abundance of fleece, his attraction for yarn products has been reduced. He would much rather a fleece blanket to a knitted or crocheted afghan. Since his claws do much less damage to the fleece, I am glad he made this choice on his own.

Pictures may not be used without written permission.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sheltie Snow Cookies

Katy and Bailey love their snow cookies. They rush out after each storm sticking their noses into the cold snow to scoop up fresh snow. We dupped these snow cookies because they pursue these snow treats with as much delight and enthusiasm as any dog treats we buy. They seem thrilled with the idea that they can have as many as they wish without restriction. There is no need to ask for them, they merely scoop them up and enjoy.

Bailey has always had an issue with drinking water. Snow cookies in the winter and ice cubes in the summer help combat dehydration. Since Katie's arrival and her embrace of the multiple water bowls we keep around the house, Bailey has improved his water drinking habits. However, I do not believe either dog would surrender the joy of fresh winter snow cookies.

Pictures may not be used without written permission.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shelties Respond with Their Version of First Aid

As herding dogs, Bailey and Katy feel very responsible for the safety of the herd. Since we have no sheep, they have taken to herding the local human population. They consider the safety and preservation of their herd of the upmost importance.

Bailey is very concerned about the health and welfare of the local inhabitants. When he finds a human on the floor, he feels it necessary to poke with a cold nose to determine that the human is awake and aware. He is quick to respond to anyone who falls with this treatment. Those who fall asleep can find themselves provided with a warm sheltie foot warmer to ensure body temperature will not decrease while sleeping. One can expect that when an injury occurs in the house Bailey, followed shortly by Katy will be one of the first to arrive on the scene. This has led to some interesting explanations to repair people who will call out when working. The dogs see these responses as a call for help and then require reassurance that the people truly do not require sheltie first aid.

Katy is more determined and will use a paw to get a response from a human she is concerned is unresponsive. Humans should be able to respond with a pat on the head, or she becomes concerned that there is obviously something wrong with the human. Why else would they be unable to respond to her test?

After determining that the herd member is alive, shelties provide what they feel is essential in all situations, a toy. No matter what the situation or injury, expect at least one or more toys to arrive when injured. If not acknowledged, the toy will continue to be presented. I have yet to determine if this is a just a nervous dog action or a basic dog neurological examination. If the person is able to grasp the toy, it does indicate basic neurological responses. If not, further assistance will be required. We have not had any basis to test this theory.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Katy Discovers Her Inner Sheltie Princess

Bailey came to us at sixth months. While he had abandonment issues, his confidence grew as he came to trust and believe he had found his forever home. We know quite a bit about Bailey’s history, some of which I will be writing more about in the future. One of the best choices his owners made was to realize that they made a mistake. A sheltie puppy was far more work and responsibility than they were prepared to take on. The best choice however, was not to surrender him to a local pound, but to contact a sheltie breed rescue where he benefited from foster care. The foster Mom that he was placed with understood sheltie behavior and worked with him prior to his placement with us. We had the rare blessing of adopting a housebroken puppy.

We know less about Katy’s life before she came to rescue. She was two and came to us infested with fleas. Her past seems to have been similar to Bailey’s history. She did not suffer from physical abuse as much as neglect. Based on her lack of socialization, her fear of humans, and her lack of experience with the world, her comfort with her crate, and other habits I suspect her owners had little time for her. She seems to have spent most of her time in her crate.

Katy has slowly adapted to her new life and freedoms. It has been so exciting watching her slowly claim her rights to her new freedoms. I never realized how much joy we would gain from each small step towards her acceptance of her new home and freedom.

Bailey has always had sensitive paws, so we have had his nails done professionally for years. We decided to treat ourselves by getting having the groomers trim the nails, bathe, groom, and trim the dogs recently. Bathing Bailey has always been a challenge. Bathing two of them becomes even more of a challenge as they try to protect the one “under attack.” I expected two pouting dogs on their return to the house. While Bailey met my expectations, Katy came home a new dog. She had discovered her inner princess.

Bailey reacted the same way to bathing at the groomers as he had at home. He barked miserably as Katy was hauled off for grooming. However, Katy discovered her inner princess. She seemed to enjoy the pampering. She came home with confidence we had never seen in her before. While Bailey let loose his displeasure, Katy pranced around the house showing off her grooming. She has never tolerated any accessories on her. In fact, she tore one of Bailey’s favorite bandanas off his neck on Halloween. When she came home with a green flower attached to her, I expected it to be gone in an instant. Instead, our princess protected it and showed it off all day. She seemed disappointed when it finally fell out of her hair. Our princess has emerged and we could not be happier.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sheltie Fascination with Wii Fit

We started using the Wii Fit at the end of January. Surprisingly, the dogs have found the experience fascinating. Each night they settle down for what we have labeled fitness TV. It has become their "reality TV" must see television. Each has a favorite spot and they settle in to watch us push ourselves through the various exercises.

The dogs are mostly passive during routines except during the step aerobics sections. I have no idea what it is about the step aerobics, but this particular routine seems to invite involvement. Every time this module begins, the dogs decide to engage. Katy is the most engaged. It has become necessary for the dogs to go outside during or be engaged in play while someone is working out to one the step aerobics sections. We have not been able to identify if it is the music, the beeps, or the movements that engage the dogs. It is strange because no other programs seem to interest to them. I would have thought the obstacle course noises would be more disturbing, but they sleep soundly through the beeps and noises.

The dogs have been great motivators in our exercise program. When evening approaches they have a creative way of reminding us it is time for their favorite exercise program. With shelties as exercise coaches, we have not missed a night.

Pictures may not be used without permission.