Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is It My Imagination?

Or is Trooper depressed?

Or am I transferring my own emotions onto him? It’s been a couple of weeks and you’d think I’d be over the emotional devastation of losing an activity like agility.

Lately when I look at him he just seems sad. He hasn’t gotten as much activity because we’re no longer doing agility, and my nausea is so bad that I haven’t even walked him for a week. He does get to go to daycare once a week and went last Friday.

Maybe it is just me. I look at pictures I have of him around my desk at work … they’re of him working agility equipment from when we had just started. Every time I look at them I start to tear up. I think I need to take them down. He looks so happy with a big goofy doggy grin on his face.

Goofy Wet Trooper

I want him to be a happy and healthy dog. I want to keep that bond with him that we built up over the last year. I’ve asked his trainer how we could start training to mush. Can’t you just see him pulling me on roller skates? hahahaha But really, I think he’d be good at it and enjoy it. He loves to pull and I of course force him to constrain that natural instinct. So maybe training him to pull things would be a really healthy way to exercise him and bond at the same time.

Malamutes were built to pull loads, not to race. I think it would be really fun to train him to pull a wagon (carefully and on a leash) with our two legged baby (when the kid is older…don’t worry I’m not completely insane) or to pull stuff around the yard when papa is working. Or to carry “heavy” (not bad heavy) loads when we eventually go camping.

He’s still my baby boy.

Cuddle Time

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Better Day

Time heals all wounds, or so they say. I’m feeling a bit better today. Working at home sometimes makes me feel more isolated and sad, but today I’m enjoying the quiet with my dogs. Timber went to daycare yesterday so today he is super mellow and I love it.

He’s been walking around everywhere with his tennis ball in his mouth. It’s so cute. We’re not used to having a dog who likes to play fetch, but Timber has really caught on and seems to enjoy it. We’re still working on him bringing the ball back directly to us and dropping it. But the command “drop it” does seem to get him to loosen his jaws and allow us to take the ball. And when he really wants to play he’ll come drop the ball at our feet.

The last few nights he’s started sleeping with his ball. Which I find hilarious. He’s not supremely obsessed with it or anything. He doesn’t have to have it at all moments and he doesn’t attack the other dogs if they pick it up and play with it. But he sure does love that ball.

Having a dog that will fetch is really nice because there’s a built in way to exercise. Hubby doesn’t always feel like going for a walk, but Timber always needs to get his excess energy out. So they can go in the back yard and play for 30 minutes before Timber says enough.

My Boys in the Snow

Trooper on the other hand needs a walk for his exercise. Playing is just never enough for him.

I’ve decided that I want him to be able to walk by a house with a dog in someone’s yard and ignore that dog. There is a dog on the corner who attacks his fence, barking and growling. Trooper tends to want to “attack” back (not literally, but he will bark, growl, and pull on his leash to try to get to the fence”. So for two days now we’ve walked by and I’ve used his choke collar and said “leave it” … I’m not sure if this is the right way to do this though.

Yesterday I took some treats with me and made him sit in front of the fence (it’s a solid fence so you can’t actually see the other dog) while the dog was going bonkers. He sat very nicely facing me and I gave him a treat and told him he was a good boy.

I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do either.

All I know is that I need to be able to walk him without worrying about him going nuts when another dog is aggressive towards us. It’s going to be my new project with him. I’m open to suggestions too. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


It’s been a very rough couple of weeks and last night was just one more nail in my coffin.

Trooper did a very bad thing, something that I am well aware of. I did everything I could to make the situation right with the owner of Kilo, short of bringing him back to life. The entire experience was very expensive for us but that was okay. It truly was the least we could do. Diane now has a new Pom, named Panda, who is 14 months old. I hear they are bonding well.

I was looking forward to going back to agility this week, and sent the trainer an e-mail to make sure it was okay.

The phone rang last night and shattered my dreams. Trooper is no longer allowed in class. Nor am I advised to enter him in shows.

Expressing my devastation here is not possible. I could not stop crying last night. Hubby finally got annoyed with my tears and started getting all logical, which was not what I needed.

I know in my logical head that it is perfectly acceptable and makes sense. Trooper is now a liability and as a business they can’t afford to have a dog who has killed another dog. I know that. What if he did something bad again? As hubby pointed out, they could take him away from us and even put him down. Even though I know that he didn’t do anything out of aggression or to TRY to kill something. It was an accident fueled by natural drive.

But in my heart I am just so depressed and sad. I’m grieving. I’ve now lost an activity, a bonding experience with my dog, that made my world brighter. There are very few activities out there that get me out of the house and interacting with others. Agility allowed me to socialize and work with my boy. I got exercise, he got exercise. We learned new things together. It was extremely good for me mentally.

I feel like crying even now, though I’m at work and that wouldn’t be the best idea. I have pictures up all around me of Trooper performing various agility exercises. He enjoyed it so much.

This whole thing has been a tragedy on so many levels. My heart aches. I’m severely depressed right now and that’s not healthy for me or my baby. I know that Trooper will be fine. He doesn’t realize any of the things going on and won’t “miss” agility in the way I will.

I don’t know what I will do now but I want to continue working with Trooper - even if it is just going for walks and learning to walk properly in new places. My ultimate goal will be getting Timber and Trooper to walk calmly together with me.

Everything happens for a reason. Perhaps I was not meant to do agility in the long term, especially with a baby on the way. It doesn’t make me less depressed right now and I hope that something will help pull me out of this horrible funk. I do trust that God has a plan, even though this seems like a particularly cruel step in my journey.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Experience

Yesterday we took all four dogs to a local park for a short walk. Of course, we had to walk in shifts because I can’t handle two dogs at once right now and Timber isn’t quite ready to walk together with another dog. But overall it was wonderful!

This was Timber’s very first walk outside of our neighborhood development.

We’ve come a LONG way with this boy. The first time I took him outside with a leash on he threw himself to the ground. He had NO idea how to act or what to do with a leash on.

We moved from tantrums on the ground to pulling so hard that my hand hurt. We tried to do everything that we knew, but none of our tools seemed to work. And by tools, I mean things we’d done with Trooper. Which, when I look at it never really worked either. He’s gotten better due to his older age and our agility bonding.

So we asked for help from our wonderful daycare staff person, Crystal, who had him walking on a loose leash in five minutes. I was astounded. But of course WE were not that successful when we tried it. She had the immediate alpha touch. And as she says, she’s been using a choke chain for a lot longer and knows exactly how to use it properly.

But we were determined. So we got the choke collar and started working. It’s been very hard work. I’ve never met such a stubborn and willful dog. He still throws tantrums but they are getting fewer and further between. His new tantrum though consists of standing on his back legs and wrapping his front legs around the leash. It’s funny but we try not to laugh. We let him wrestle with the leash and move his front legs back down to the ground and keep going.

Anyway…back to yesterday. I think hubby was nervous. He really hates correcting Timber and gets frustrated very quickly. But things went so well that I was almost in tears.

We did encounter a dog almost immediately and he did his barking, growling, hair raising dance. But hubby corrected him and made him sit quietly before we continued. Trooper actually did worse than Timber. He was pulling me quite hard … but it could be I’m just more sensitive to it lately with my nausea and weakness.

We walked for a good 30 minute and went all the way down to the river. I think we have a water dog!!! It was his first experience with a river. And he dove right in. It was such a blessing to watch. Have you seen the expression of a really happy dog? He had that on his face and I was so happy.

This successful trip means that we can start training more outside of our neighborhood and I’m very grateful for that. I get bored just walking around in circles and I’m sure the dogs do too.

I’m hoping that Timber will really get good at walking gently on a leash. I want to move up to walking him and Trooper together (*gulp!*) and eventually get them to both walk gently together with a stroller. I may need to employ Crystal’s help again. When I have a baby in the stroller I do not want to deal with pulling dogs. They have to recognize the stroller as alpha dog and let it lead.

So much work to do! =) But yesterday was a great, wonderful step forward.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Being Dogs

Thank you all for your support and kind words. I’ve not quite recovered but am starting to pay more attention to Trooper. We aren’t going to agility class this week. The idea of going right now turns my stomach. I am fearful … afraid to see the look in people’s eyes. Afraid to see them look at Trooper. *sigh*

I know it will get better someday. But right now I’m still unsure and haven’t talked to Diane (Kilo’s mama). We sent money for the vet bill…that is what emergency funds are for. And we will pull more money out to help her get a new puppy or dog and to help with other costs like new leashes, toys, food, etc. Not to mention if she still wants to do agility.

Trooper’s daycare called and offered to serve as a character reference for him. Is that not the sweetest?

Anyone who knows him knows that he is not a mean dog. He would never bite a person on purpose (my bite was completely accidental), nor would he hurt another animal just to HURT it. He can get testy when it comes to food but he’s never put a scratch on any of his brothers or his sister. He’s so big and can look really mean and scary, but that works in my favor when taking him for a walk by myself. I consider him stealth security from bad people. Although a gun would be more effective I suppose. :)

In general, Trooper is the sweetest, most affection and loving dog we’ve ever had. He loves people especially.

I caught him and Timber playing today in the back yard. They chased each other like wild boys and finally settled down in the snow for some tandem chewing.



Uh Oh...Mommy Sees Us

My grief for what happened will never go away. I pray that someday I will be able to look at Trooper and not think about what happened last Sunday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Very Bad Thing

Trooper did a very bad thing. And I’ve had a very bad couple of days.

Sunday was our regularly scheduled agility class. He was doing fairly well, running some moderately difficult courses.

There was a new dog in class, who moved up from the beginner’s class … it was their first advanced class. The dog was a teenie tiny little Pomeranian named Kilo…no bigger than a teacup Chihuahua, but with two inch long fur. Almost a mini-Trooper.

I was standing watching Kilo run and jump over his 4 inch jump heights…he was just so adorable and looked like a little toy.

Which is what Trooper must have thought he was as well because all of a sudden Trooper was following Kilo on his jumps. Trooper has never left my side during agility … I have the food and he’s usually begging. But his prey drive kicked into full gear when he saw Kilo running.

In less than 10 seconds, Trooper had snatched Kilo up and was shaking him. I don’t remember much - I remember hearing Kilo’s mom screaming “Oh My God” and someone else telling the other students to keep their dogs back.

I don’t even remember seeing anything … truly … it’s like I had blacked out and could only hear and feel. I stuck my hand into the back of Trooper’s jaw to try to pry Kilo out but he just bit down harder. I think we freaked him out because we just swarmed him and surrounded him. He didn’t know he was doing something wrong. He wasn’t being aggressive. He never once growled. He never lunged at anyone or tried to bite anyone.

My mind completely blanked … I didn’t say No, Leave it, or Drop it. I don’t know if any of those would have stopped him, but he is a very good boy and usually obeys well. I am horrible in emergency situations.

Kilo had not one single puncture wound.

But Trooper’s jaws are extremely strong and Kilo died several hours later, after much effort by the emergency vets.

I cannot tell you how devastated I was, and still am. When we got back from urgent care for my punctured finger (down to the joints on both sides of my finger) I fell asleep from exhaustion. When I woke up, hubby told me that Kilo didn’t make it. In a daze I went into the bathroom…I started feeling cold but sweaty and then I threw up violently for several horrible minutes. And for the rest of the night I cried.

I couldn’t look at Trooper for the rest of Sunday and even most of Monday. I stayed home from work because the doctor wanted me to keep my hand elevated to bring down the swelling and avoid infection. Trooper kept coming up to me and sniffing, or putting his head in my lap, but I just couldn’t deal with him. He’d never done anything like this - had never gone after another dog ever. We had always been careful because we know he is a Malamute and has a very strong prey drive.

We are paying for Kilo’s vet bills and have offered to buy his owner, Diane, a new doggy. I believe she was looking at two potential dogs yesterday, for which I am so thankful. I told hubby that there is nothing more soothing and healing than a puppy.

Unbelievably, Diane doesn’t hate me. I would. I hated me! She is obviously a better person than me.

I’m beyond traumatized. I want to keep doing agility but I don’t want to face anyone. I’m horrified, humiliated, embarrassed, disgusted. How can I give my boy love? How can I hug him and tell him that I love him? My brain tells me that what he did was NOT his fault … it was strictly an instinct that he’s had built into him over thousands of years. He doesn’t know right from wrong. He is an animal and all too often, as humans, we attribute human characteristics to our dogs that they never have. He’s back to being his happy self (he never stopped actually) but I am not. I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for what happened.

I know that time heals all wounds and I hope to be able to get back to normal. I can’t fathom Diane’s forgiveness yet. There isn’t enough money in the world that can make up for her loss and I feel completely unworthy of her goodness.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Have You Heard of This?

I came across a cool blog and as I was reading some of her posts I came across one that mentioned something called NAIS. She is anti - NAIS which aroused my curiosity so I decided to dig a little deeper to find out what it was.

NAIS apparently stands for National Animal Identification System.

Sounds harmless enough. Unless you’re like me and never like the sound of a “national” identification system of any kind. Aside from drivers licenses we don’t need to be identified and tracked like cattle. Which is what this program wants for animals - a way to track them from birth to death and everywhere in between.

I am not a fan of the government tracking us or our animals for our “own good.” The premise behind this law appears to be the government’s way of preventing disease or at least discovering where they start. At least that is the excuse they are using.

Just like the issues with the Consumer Protection Act passed last year, the unintended consequences are rarely thought about by the politicians, who aren’t even affected by such laws. Thankfully, that law got a stay for another year so children’s clothing and items are okay for now, but who knows what will happen in this year.

The unintended consequences of the NAIS, to me, appear to be a massive overreach of government into personal lives. This country used to be much more free. People had the freedom to do as they wished with their land, their livestock, their businesses.

While some regulations are good and I have no problems with, this kind of system reeks of big brother. It does not just track the animals, but the people and their movement. It affects not just huge farms, but hobbyists and small businesses (just like with the CSPIA).

Even though USDA is advocating this program, the government has not done a cost analysis of the program. Costs for similar programs in other countries are estimated to range from $37/head to $69/head on average. With over a hundred million cattle and millions of other livestock animals in the United States, the NAIS will likely cost producers, businesses, and taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.

Unintended consequences.

All in the name to “protect” us … usually from ourselves.

I cannot tell from reading whether this law will someday apply to companion animals like cats and dogs. My dogs are microchipped, but it was a voluntary decision, not mandated by law. I do not want the government coming in telling me that I *must* do something like the NAIS proposes.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How Much is Too Much?

Can you give your dogs too much praise? Do you think they wind up tuning you out?

I give a lot of praise. So much that my mom makes fun of me. She says the dogs think their other name is “good boy” or “good girl”. LOL She especially found it funny when I would praise Trooper for going poo-poo.

I find myself sitting and petting my boy and just cooing and saying “good boy” or “what a good boy” over and over again. I don’t know why. I could probably just pet him and he’d be happy but I can’t seem stay quiet.

My dogs are my babies and I praise them for nearly everything. When they lay quietly. When they eat their food nicely. When they go potty and come back inside. They get praise.

Is that weird?

For Timber, I feel like I need to give him extra praise on top of everything we normally do. Last night, he was curled up in bed with us - laying on his back with all four paws in the air. Something I’m sure he didn’t get to do six months ago. So I was just petting and petting and rubbing his belly and telling him what a wonderful boy he was and how much we loved him.

Does that make me weird? That’s okay. I’ve been called worse.

So do you think that excess praise hurts training with dogs? Or do you think it helps? Or does it matter at all? Do you praise your dogs or pets excessively.

I admit I used to do the same thing with my cats. *grin*

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Puppy Cuteness Overload

Are you ready to ooooo and aaaaaahhhhhhh?

On Sunday hubby and I went to Trooper’s Breeders where she has a new litter of malamutes. And OH MY GAWD I want to bring one home so badly. Do you think I could handle a new puppy and training with four other dogs while being pregnant … and then have an adolescent malamute on my hands with an infant?

I am superwoman after all. =)

The one we wanted was the biggest little cuddler. Even when her brothers and sisters were eating she just snuggled deeper into my arms.

Alyssa Snuggling

They are JUST two weeks old today. Their eyes were open on Sunday and they made the cutest noises…grunting and whining for their mommy. Watching ten puppies feed made my boobs hurt. *grin*

Check out their tails!!! Cracked me up!

That poor mama! Her name is Amore and she was very good with all of us in her space and handling her puppies. She actually just wanted her ears scratched. LOL

You can hear me talking baby talk…I know. I have issues. I can’t help myself!!!

It’s impossible to not want to take one home. Nick wanted to put one in the hood of his sweatshirt. *snort* What a goof.

Oh man. That’s my little girl. I want her SO badly!!! Quinn is not going to be with us all *that* much longer (though we’ve been saying that for years now and she just hangs in there) and we’ll need another female in our pack.


How can I resist?!?!?!

*sigh* I know. I know. Logic tells me to just BACK AWAY FROM THE PUPPY. But logic is not my strong point right now.