Life with Jasmine and Juliet, Our Rescued Dachshunds

Random notes on our experience with our two rescued miniature dachshunds

Good For Jasmine, Good For Me

Jasmine doesn’t like walkies.  She gets very hyper-sensitive.  She jumps at fast movement (oh, those EVIL tumbling leaves jumping out at her to bite her), slinks her shoulders and tucks her head down, peeks around every hedge and tree to make sure nothing is threatening is there…oh poor ‘Fraidy Dog!  Jasmine would rather be smack dab in the middle of one of her fluffy pillows than doing something as frightening and taxing like exercising!

Truth be told, if it wasn’t for my concern for Jasmine’s health and well being, I’d be smack dab in the middle of one of my fluffy cushions rather than walking her around the neighborhood.  It’s simple–we both don’t like walks. I hate exercising.  I always have, with the exception of some cardio/aerobic/dance classes that are more fun than exercise.  Otherwise, I find exercising tremendously tedious, boring and a pain in the rear (literally and figuratively).  I’d rather be a couch potato.  So would Jasmine.

When I got Jasmine, I knew that the responsibilities would make me do things I don’t like to do.  I walk Jasmine to help socialize her and because she needs the exercise to stay healthy.  That it benefits MY health is a bonus.  That we both DON’T like it…well, I know that it’s my responsibility as a dog owner to do whatever I can to give her a healthy, happy life.  So, daily walks are going to be in the cards for a long, long time.

I DO like walks when my husband is along with us.  He and I get to spend time together, stroll, enjoy the day and talk.  It’s a nice way to just be together without the hustle and bustle of daily life.  🙂

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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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Rant: Dog Owners, Please Be Responsible

I walk Jasmine every day, and more often than not, I run across irresponsible dog owners.  Let’s see…

  • There’s the giant piles of dog poop on someone’s lawn or on the sidewalk, which means the owners didn’t think it was necessary to pick up after their dogs or the dogs were running free in the neighborhood.
  • There’s the dog owner that walks the dog off leash, making this a hazard not only for other people but for the dog (squirrel + off-leash walking in a busy neighborhood + SUV = squished dog).
  • There are the dog owners who believe that the “no dogs allowed” sign at the local schools don’t apply to them.  They’re probably the same dog owners who caused the signs to be placed there in the first place (no, I never see them with poop bags).
  • There are the dogs that have come running full boar at Jasmine because their owners don’t think it’s necessary to control–or even collar–them when they are in their unfenced, open front yards.  The owners come running after their dogs and then make some lame excuse like, “oh he’s just a puppy and he wants to play.”  Am I supposed to read his puppy mind and think that he doesn’t mean harm to me or my dog?  And what if MY dog isn’t up to having a 100 pound dog pounce on her?  Hm?  And is it okay to let your dog go running across the street at his whim?  What if a car was driving down the street?

It’s this last scenario that has caused me to rant today.  Some huge lug of a golden retriever came barreling across the street and jumped on Jasmine.  The owner’s kids were in the yard, saw what was happening and did nothing except stand there, mouths hanging open.  I screamed at them to come get their dog, and they did nothing.  After screaming at them again while trying to fend off the somewhat harmless yet way too enthusiastic dog, the owner came running over and said, “sorry, he’s just a puppy.”  I calmly (yes, calmly) stated that regardless, they needed to have the dog leashed while out, it was dangerous to have the dog loose, and their dog scared the crap out of mine.  Poor Jasmine.  She was really freaked out.

The dog had NO collar or tags.  The owner obviously had NO verbal control over the dog.  So, if the dog ran away, well, too bad…he’s just a puppy, right?  For crying out loud, people, you have big brains and reasoning.  Use them.  I guess if your kid went running after something across the street without looking you’d have no problem with that too?  And if the dog got run over because you didn’t have the sense to keep them safe, would that be okay?  No, I didn’t think so.

Okay, rant off.  Jasmine is okay–this time.

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Walkies? Nah.

Jasmine still doesn’t like walkies.

When Jasmine first arrived, she bucked like a baby bronco over being put on a leash. After a few days of leash dragging around the house, she was fine. Walks were a bit difficult in the beginning, but after a little while, she was happy to go for walkies.

Then, I made the mistake of having her meet the neighbor dachshunds (barky little buggers, they are). After two meetings, Jasmine refused to walk alone with me. And after a few months and a little coaching from the pet sitter, I got her back to walking with me.

When we get her out for her daily walk, she’s a fairly good walker. She sits at every curb and corner and waits for a cue to move forward (most of the time). She either walks behind me or beside me. She’s not perfect–when she’s startled, she goes into “sled dog” mode and pulls on the leash until we’re out of “danger.” She knows the routes we take, and she often tries to dictate the “short” circuit. Nope. Won’t let her do that!

There’s one thing missing these days. Jasmine doesn’t like to go for walks. She used to jump up and down at the prospect. These days, she is reluctant to come to the door when I announce that it’s time for walkies. She is also hyper-aware when we’re walking alone–her ears are perked, she darts her head around at every noise, scatters and starts when any unexpected noise, person or thing appears. She’s less “worried” when my  husband is with us.

I love walking and walking her, so I’m sad to see her so afraid of the world around her. I’m being patient though. Not too long ago, all these things were completely foreign to her, and I’m hoping that further exposure to cars, people, leaves, squirrels, wind, kids, dogs, cats and the occasional skateboard will not cause total panic in her.

Someday, I hope walkies will become a welcome activity for her.  I love watching her jump for joy.

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Walkies Again!

Jasmine has resumed taking walkies with me. What changed? I did.

I’ve been preparing for some upcoming business trips, and in that preparation, I asked our pet sitter to come over to meet Jasmine (she had been taking care of our bird, Click, during our vacations but had never met Jasmine). She came in and made some progress in getting acquainted with Jasmine. During that time, I explained to her about Jasmine’s life, how she came to us, and how she is today. I also expressed my frustration with Jasmine’s refusal to walk with me.

She chuckled at me and told me exactly what my husband told me: Jasmine was playing me. She knew she could get away with the refusal, so she’s been doing it.

I’ve been reading a lot of conflicting advice from dog experts on how to deal with fear-based behavior. I’ve also been reading about “pack” behavior and the whole “pack leader” debate. The pet sitter told me that I have to calmly but firmly go on a walk with Jasmine and not let her refuse. So I did. The beginning was a bit of a struggle…she tried to pull back and sit. But I kept walking. She quickly acquiesced, and before I knew it, we were off on a healthy and happy walk. I DID NOT try to bribe her, I DID NOT “correct her” with sharp tugs on her collar (I hate seeing that)…I just kept walking like it was the most natural thing to do. And she followed. The next day, she struggled a bit less. The third day, she hesitated for a moment and then came trotting along.

I’m thrilled that she’s once again my walking companion and that she’s moving forward. Now if only we could make the same strides in her acceptance of my husband (we’ve made no forward movement since her first olive branch), I think she’d be a much happier dog. Her “badger dog” burrowing has already turned into a way for her to hide from my husband. I’m hoping that my upcoming absence will help her forge a bond with him. If not, he’ll be using the GIANT bottle of Nature’s Miracle quite often.

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Still No Walkies

Jasmine still refuses to go for walks with me.  It’s so sad.  We go outside, and she immediately gets into the “oh no, you’re not making me go” posture.  She sits her little butt down, and actually pulls BACK on the leash with her neck.  I’ve coaxed her out of the position with her little training treats (she’s not so frightened that she turns down treats), and she readily walks to the treat to eat it.  However, any forward movement by me and she’s back to the “oh no” posture.  If it wasn’t so sad it would be funny.

The times she HAS gone for walks with me in the past few weeks have been due to the “lesser of two evils” circumstances.  She’s still afraid of my husband, so if he appears to be approaching us, she’ll go on the walk.  If something scares her, say a branch touching her from a bush she’s walking under, she’ll shoot out and go for a walk.  Once she’s walking, she doesn’t seem to mind it.  But there’s some sort of mental block right now that keeps her from getting started on a walk with me.  I’m not scarier than the walk?  The walk and I are forever connected to the trauma of meeting the neighbor’s doxies?

My husband and I now take her for evening walks together.  She’s fine once she gets going.  We’ve taught her to sit at every curb and wait until we release her from the sit.  She seems to enjoy the walks somewhat, but I sense her unease and fear of the unknown–cocked ears, kind of hunched shoulders (sometimes slinking).  I know she loves our house and feels safe and comfortable in it, and I’m glad I have been able to give her that sense of comfort and well-being.  I just hope that in time, she’ll be able to move beyond these fears and be as happy out in the world as she is at home.

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A New Neurosis

Okay, I don’t get this one.

Jasmine loves Walkies.  At least, she used to.  She has refused to go for a walk for two days in a row.  She cowers at the end of the driveway, sits her little butt down, and won’t go.  I coax her along with a little Pupperoni, but she stops and sits again.  Shiver shiver, droopy eyes, totally freaked.  She turns around and RUNS to the house.

Is it that she’s now afraid of the dachshunds down the street?  Whenever they are out, she wants to go inside.  Is it due to the two earthquakes we had recently?  She barked during the 5.6, but didn’t even notice the 3.6.

I don’t get this at all.  I’m totally puzzled.

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Dog Attack!

When we were out for our evening walk yesterday, Jasmine was attacked by a Welsh Corgi that had escaped from its home. It ran across the street, and since it didn’t have a collar, I couldn’t grab it to stop the attack. It jumped on Jasmine and tried to bite her…oh man did it scare us!

Tom snatched up Jasmine, which scared her even more. She doesn’t like people grabbing her quickly or making fast moves, and Tom just snatched her up to save her. She was a nervous wreck (complete with a bit of incontinence). The owner of the Corgi was across the street, and her only comment was, “Oh sorry, I didn’t know she got out.” I was really pissed off. Her dog almost took a chunk out of my dog’s butt…and all she could think of to say or do is to make some lame excuse? Grrrrrrr…

We put little Jazzy down and finished our walk. I think I was more upset than she was! 😦

Another goal for obedience school (for me, that is) is learning what to do in these situations. Yipes!

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Squirrel!

Jasmine is starting to change. Every day, she gains a little bit more confidence.

We’ve noticed that instead of just looking ahead and trotting, Jasmine is starting to look at and sniff the neighborhood during our walks. Yesterday and today, Jasmine was sniffing furiously as we walked down the block. She never noticed other animals during our walks before–even cats–and she has been noticing both cats and other dogs for the last few days.

After our walk, we usually sit on the lawn in front of the house and watch the world go by. Jasmine usually just faces me and gives me puppy eyes to get ear scratches. Today, however, she was laying down and watching everything. Her little ears were perked up, and she was watching the cars go by, the birds hopping around in the yard, and yes, a little bushy-tailed squirrel that was foraging for food.

The squirrel was about 25 feet away under the tree on the sidewalk. He was hopping around and moving towards the giant palm tree in the front yard. Jasmine, who has ignored squirrels to date, was entranced. She was tense, ears were perked, and she seemed to be ready to pounce. And pounce she did. All of a sudden, she rocketed out of her position laying on the ground and ran after the squirrel. He darted, she dashed–that is, until she hit the end of the leash. She jerked her head and stopped, turned back at me, and bounded back.

It made me so happy to see her alert and…well…bouncy! Go Jasmine!

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Grandpa!

We took Jasmine to see my father today. My dad is in a residential care facility and is in a wheelchair. I thought Jasmine would be scared of the wheelchair, but she was just fine. Maybe she sensed that my father is a dog person. In fact, he was really pleased to see her and couldn’t take his eyes off of her. She sniffed him and sat by his chair, calm and accepting. She’s still not good at sitting in laps, but she’s now much better around strangers.

And as we were walking Jasmine today, someone having a garage sale ran out to greet us with an Irish linen decorative piece with dachshunds printed on it and insisted that we have it. And just a few minutes later, another neighbor greeted us with doggie toys for Jasmine!

Jasmine has lots of fans in the neighborhood. With that little face and the funny little dachshund walk, it would be hard not to be a fan!

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