Life with Jasmine and Juliet, Our Rescued Dachshunds

Random notes on our experience with our two rescued miniature dachshunds

My Separation Anxiety

We’re leaving on Wednesday to go finalize and close on the new house.  Unfortunately, that means that we’ll have to kennel Jasmine again for a week.  We’re putting her, once again, at the PetSmart PetsHotel.  They have taken good care of her in the past, and she seems to be okay when we return, although she’s always lost a little weight–it’s unavoidable since she tends not to eat when she’s anxious or in unfamiliar surroundings.

The cost is reasonable–$25/night for a small inside kennel complete with elevated cot bed that keeps her off the floor and twice-daily time outside of the kennel to relieve herself.  We also add a $3/day “Treat Time” daily treat–doggie ice cream and a cookie.  Ice cream is the one thing we can count on her eating when she won’t eat anything else.  We don’t buy the play times.  I have observed several group play times during my visits to pick Jasmine up or drop her off.  It’s just a room filled with dogs and one guy with a squirt gun.  If the dogs get too rambunctious, they squirt the dog.  That’s it.  Yes, it gets the dog out of the kennel, but there’s very little interaction with the single staff member (1 staff member to 10 to 20 dogs does not a play time make).  They also offer training and other items on an Ala Carte basis or I can sign her up for Doggie Day Camp.  If I was going to pay that kind of money for her care, I’d put her in a private pet sitter home situation.

I know she’s going to be fine, but every time we have to kennel her, I get anxious.  To them, she’s just an animal that they care for; it’s a job.  To me, well, that’s my Pup-Pup.  She means the world to me, and whether I put her at the PetsHotel or leave her with a friend, I’m pretty anxious about her being away from me and out of my care.  Of course, NO ONE could ever take care of her the way *I* do.  Nope.  So while we’ll be ultra busy closing on the house and getting it ready to rent out, I’ll be thinking a lot about coming back to that cute little face and wagging tail–and the enevitable pee on the carpet out of protest. 🙂  That’s my girl!

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Invisible Fence?

We’re in the process of buying a new house.  The house is lovely with almost an acre of land with lush green lawns, wonderful landscaping, and just a magnificent field of green everywhere.  Underneath it all across the property line is an invisible fence.  The previous owners put it in to keep their Australian Shepherds in the yard.  Putting up a barrier fence would be way too costly to cover the entire property, and putting up a partial fence would destroy the lovely landscaping of the house.

Jasmine isn’t particularly an outdoors dog.  She goes out when she has to, and sometimes she likes to lie in the grass in the back yard, but mostly she likes being inside the safe, comfy house with me.  When she goes outside, she is supervised by me.  Now, with this new house, a doggie door and an invisible fence, she has the opportunity for more autonomy and it gives us the opportunity to have her trained to use a doggie door (and hopefully prevent accidents in the future).

However, I am reticent about the invisible fence.  Some say it’s cruel.  I’m starting to do some research on it, but I could use some opinions and advice.  Please speak up (for or against), but please don’t flame.  I want to make an informed decision and I’d appreciate some help!

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Doggie Vocabulary

I love it when Jasmine perks her ears and cocks her head when I talk to her. I really wonder how much she understands…although I know she understands certain words such as:

  • Jasmine
  • Pup-Pup
  • Jazzy
  • Come
  • Sit
  • Down
  • Lap
  • Off
  • Up
  • Stay
  • Crawl
  • Leave It
  • Okay
  • Go outside
  • Go for rides
  • Let’s go
  • Good girl
  • Walkies
  • Bone
  • Din-din/dinner
  • Night-nights
  • Brush
  • Cheese
  • Scratchies
  • Do your business (a most important phrase)

Hm…not bad! I wonder how many words or phrases the “average” dog understands. There is a border collie that knows the names of over 200 objects. Those darn overachievers always blow the curve.

Here’s a link to a site that provides you with a way to test your dog’s IQ. Jasmine and I are going to take the test. How did your dog do? How many words does he/she know?

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Leapin’ Lizards!

Jasmine has become much more brazen recently–a good thing, because I feel it signifies greater confidence on her part.  However, it makes me a little scared that she could end up hurting herself.

I was at Starbucks with her today, and as usual, I got my iced coffee and sat outside on the patio with Jasmine in my lap.  She laid down, and the parties at the table next to us commented on her dual eye color.  We chatted for a while, and they left.  Jasmine was calm and relaxed, and then she stood up and just leapt off my lap.

Whoa!  She’s never done that before!  She has leapt out of the back seat of the car twice when she was trying to get away from hubby, but I had no notice and no sign that she was scared this time.  She just wanted down.  My reflexes were good because I caught her mid-air and gently placed her on the ground.  She then decided that the “wrap the leash around Mom’s legs” game was the next task at hand.

Given the spinal problems that Dachshunds tend to have, I’m trying to keep her from dive-bombing off high places as much as possible.  As she gets more confident and feisty, I’m keeping a much more watchful eye to prevent injury.  However, we’re looking at moving to a new house that has a flight of stairs…maybe a doggie elevator is in store?  😀

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Ring My Bell

Earlier this month, I mentioned that I’m trying to train Jasmine to recognize the sound of a bell as her “go outside” sound.  Each time it’s time to go outside, I call to Jasmine to go outside and ring the bell.  I’m going to do this for a couple of months to equate the sound with the action.  I’m also beginning “touch this” training as well.  After she gets both, I’m then going to try to get her to touch the bell when she wants to go outside.  My husband just chuckles at me when I ring the bell.  🙂

Getting Jasmine to signal when she needs to go has been problematic.  She sometimes stares at me intently, and I have read that to mean “lemme out Mom!”  I look at her and ask her if she needs to go outside, and she jumps to attention and runs towards the back door–tail high and wagging.  Okay, I got that sign.  But at critical times (like when she had the Whipworms), she has “gone” on the slate floor in the foyer.  I’ve even been sitting on the couch not fifteen feet away when she’s done this, and it would have been easy for her to have signaled me to let her out.  The Whipworms made her go many times during the night, and several times, I did not hear her get up to go.  At very least, she did go on the easily cleaned slate floor.

She was never socialized or housetrained until she reached my home, and given that at the puppy mill she was confined to a small cage and HAD to soil her living area, I’m not surprised that there are issues with fully housetraining her.

Have you tried the bell approach?  Has it worked for you?

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The Beginnings of Acceptance

I think the Starbucks experience has prompted even more positive change for Jasmine.

Jasmine has been sitting on my husband’s lap during our Starbucks visits.  He has also begun picking her up more and placing her in the car, on his lap, etc.  It’s been hard on him because she just cowers in fear when he tries, but we discussed the issue and he has decided to take a no-nonsense (but gentle) attitude towards these situations.  So I’ve been going inside to get the coffee, and hubby has been picking Jasmine up and putting her into his lap.  A few minutes later, I emerge with our beverages, and Jasmine greets me from the safety of hubby’s lap.

Now, this weekend we were at home watching tv when I decided to go snuggle with hubby in his recliner.  Jasmine, not wanting to be left out, came running and was jumping on the side of the chair to get my attention.  It was so funny…she didn’t want to be left out and insisted on being with us.  I picked her up and put her in our laps and we had some nice snuggle time together as a family.  I then slowly crawled off the chair to see what she’d do.  She crawled off as well.  However, I kept sitting at the foot of the chair, and to my amazement, she crawled back on the chair–and onto my husband’s lap.  There, she was lavished with pets and scratchies, and she finally FINALLY relaxed and just gave in to the comfort of being close to him.  She closed her eyes and put her head down on his tummy.  For once, she let her guard down and just enjoyed the pets.

I was elated that after 13 months, she has finally started to accept him as a family member and let her guard down.  Just the look on her face–and my husband’s–said it all.

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Starbucks Therapy

Hubby, Jasmine and I have been walking to Starbucks (exactly 1 mile away from our house) every Saturday and Sunday to enjoy some coffee, to hang out and relax, and to give Jasmine a chance to get used to the hustle and bustle of a public space.  The trips have been extremely beneficial for Jasmine–she now relaxes in my or Hubby’s lap and watches all the activity with interest and without fear.  When someone approaches, she does still shrink away from a stranger trying to touch her, but all in all, she’s making great progress.

What I didn’t count on was how relaxing it has been for ALL of us.  We take a nice stroll down some quiet, tree-lined streets in our neighborhood.  We get to Starbucks, get our coffee and sit and pet the dog.  We sip our drinks and watch people pass.  We have conversations with each other and with the people who are also enjoying the day.  We relax.  We are starting to recognize the “regulars” that seem to hit the shop at the same times we do.  We watch Jasmine with love and amusement as she watches, ears up and shoulders hunched, as a man inside the shop rifles through a stack of newspapers or a child makes faces at her through the window.  We pet her and give her more scratchies.

An hour passes.  We sometimes get refills on our drinks.  We finally decide to get up and walk home.  We enjoy the sun and shade of our walk.  We say hello to people along the way.

While this started out as therapy for Jasmine, I realize now that it’s a way for all of us to enjoy a simple day.  And we’re all better for it.

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The Dish on Dog Food

Jasmine is finally over the digestive problems caused by the Whipworms and is now on 100% dog food.  In fact, she has been eating so quickly that it scares me!  I turn my back for a minute, and when I look over, the dish has been licked clean.  I guess she’s more appreciative of the dog food than I thought, or it’s just SO much better than cottage cheese and rice! 🙂

We have been feeding her California Natural Chicken and Rice dog food (both dry and canned) by Natura Pet (makers of Evo, Innova, Health Wise, Mother Nature and Karma dog foods and treats).  We originally tried the Evo Small Bites food and thought that the digestive distress was caused by the change in food.  WRONG.  While we’re not sure whether the change in food was a causal factor in making the Whipworms go wild, the Evo line is super high in protein–a huge change from the Eukanuba Dachshund formula we’ve been feeding her.

In looking at the ingredients in the California Natural food, the ingredients are simple–Chicken meal, brown rice, rice, sunflower oil, flaxseed, natural flavors, potassium chloride, salt, vitamins, minerals and Rosemary extract.  The line of food was created with a short list of ingredients and is meant to be hypo-allergenic and easy to digest (precisely why we bought it in the first place when the Evo seemed to be upsetting Jasmine’s tummy).  However, it’s fairly high in carbohydrates (48.534%) but still has a good percentage of protein (25.881%) from a single source (chicken meal).  I’m wondering, though, if Jasmine should have a diet that has more whole foods (veggies, eggs) and a better protein to carb ratio–still grain-free.  It also bothers me that their food comes in large kibble and not small bites–possibly making it harder to digest for our little honey’s tummy.

Natura’s other line, Innova, seems to have a good balance of protein and a lot of good whole foods.  The ingredients are turkey, chicken, chicken meal, barley, brown rice, potatoes, natural flavors, rice, chicken fat, herring, apples, carrots, cottage cheese, sunflower oil, dicalcium phosphate, alfalfa sprouts, eggs, garlic, potassium chloride, choline chloride, calcium carbonate, direct-fed microbials, and vitamins and minerals.  It’s 24% protein, 40% carborhydrates, and seems to be a more diverse diet.  But again, what do dogs really need?  Both formulas provide “complete nutrition for all life stages” as defined by the AAFCO.

I called Natura today and asked them about the differences in the foods.  The gal who answered, Sarah, said that it’s all about “what you feel comfortable feeding your dog.”  All their foods meet the standards for complete nutrition.  The Innova reaches it through a more diverse, “food-pyramid” approach to the formula, while the California natural has fewer ingredients for easier digestion and to help food-sensitive dogs to have a healthy diet.  Both have vitamins and minerals added to ensure that proper nutrition is achieved.  The main issue is kibble size–those gumball sized kibbles seem so large to me, but they haven’t seem to slowed Jazzy down–so I guess we’ll stick with what’s working for her.  I don’t want to have to change her diet yet again.

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Learning to Speak Dog

You would think that after a year, I could read Jasmine’s body language and figure out what she wants.  Nope.  Not really.  I’m still learning.

Until recently, Jasmine has not communicated (that I could discern) that she needs to go outside.  The Whipworm situation made that very difficult, especially when she was getting up in the middle of the night to go.  More often than not, I heard her tags go jingle jangle jingle and woke up as she was leaving the room.  If I slept through the sound, Jasmine went in a spot that was easy to clean (on the slate floor in the front hallway).  I’m trying the “ring the bell” method of getting her to signal, but I don’t think she’s equating the bell to going out yet.  She may never.  My husband snickers at me every time I ring the bell.  However, I have noticed in the last couple of days that Jasmine has begun staring intently at me at the oddest times.  I have equated this to “Mom, lemme out!” and have immediately stood up, asked if she wants to go outside, rang the bell and taken her outside.

She knows what “Do you want to go outside?” means, but I’m trying to get her to overtly signal her need to me.  I also have to figure out what the difference in her signals…what does she do when she wants to go out?  When she wants to play?  When she wants dinner?

Last night, I was sitting on the couch working, and she started to jump up on the couch to get my attention, tail wagging and happy face on.  I was puzzled…I didn’t know what she wanted.  I tried to pet her, but after a pet or two, she darted around the coffee table and jumped on the other side of me.  After several “pet and run” sessions, I asked her if she was hungry and she went nuts.  Hm…a clue!  So maybe she’ll equate this pet-and-run game to “Mom, I’m hungry!”  And the staring intently and ringing the bell to “I want to go out!”

I’ve read a few blogs and websites for doggie bells…we’ll see how it goes!

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Back to Square One–YAY!

Jasmine’s tummy is finally back to normal, and as of this morning, I’ve started to introduce her normal food into her diet.  She hasn’t exactly been enthusiastic about the rice and cottage cheese diet…nor would I if I had to eat it!  I added just a 1/2 teaspoon of canned food and a couple of tablespoons of kibble to her bowl this morning, and she scarfed it up in no time!   She licked the bowl clean, licked her lips and wagged her tail with pleasure.

I think we’re over the worm hump and getting back to normal.  She has another course of the de-worming medication in two weeks to ensure that any eggs/larvae in her system are also eradicated.  I have a feeling she might need it…given that I saw her trying to eat cat poop last night. Ew.  Love that “Leave It!” command.

Now I question whether the change in food exacerbated the worms, or it was coincidental that the change in food and the worm issue cropped at the same time.  I have purchased some California Natural food (simple chicken and rice formula–not a lot to upset a tummy) for now, but the kibble is a bit large for a dog her size.  I’m going to do more dog food research and figure out what is best for the pup in the long term.

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