Welcome to Shiba-Nunu

There is no real English word such as "Nunu", though privately, Nunu is a silly term of endearment my husband coined for our shiba inu, Mya, and all her shiba antics.

She is, then, our very own Shiba Nunu!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Battle of the Ear-drops

The daycare staff and I lost today.  We had a 3 human grown-ups versus 1 slippery eel of a small canine battle with Mya which lasted 30 minutes.  Then I decided that we will try to put those eardrops in her ear at another time.

When a dog has a traumatic experience from a careless handler, you pay for it for a long long time. 

Mental Note:
If and when I get a new puppy, his ears will have the least possible handling from the vet.  Also, his nails will only be cut by me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tall Extra Hot Non-fat No Whip Classic Hot Chocolate

That is what I have been ordering since 1999 when I moved to an office building with a Starbucks at the ground floor.  It has been more than 10 years!  Now that we have an in-house  "canine paper shredder", otherwise known as Mya or shibanunu, ordering from Starbucks has given us another reason to look forward to going home.  The recycled hot sleeve gets re-recycled into a rip-toy (not a chew toy).  This would probably rank as #3 in the list of cheapest dog toys I have found for Mya, #1 being the empty cardboard toilet paper rolls, #2 being fresh or dried coconuts we bring home from my in-laws' garden. 

No hot chocolate for you, Mya!  But when my fun ends, your fun begins!

"A new job for me!"

"Don't talk to me.  I'm busy."

"I'm done and proud of myself! Do I hear applause?"

Monday, December 06, 2010

Soft Rugs and Bathroom Mats

One of her favorite sleeping surfaces- our folded bathroom floor towel.

"Now that it has my scent on it, this towel is MINE."

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Zombie Sleeping

You can tell when she's tired and really sleeping well.  She doesn't seem to mind that her head and the most of her upper body are not actually on the bed.

Scary-Nunu:  Falling Off the Bed and Only White of the Eyes Showing

Sporting Her IV Catheter like a sports armband

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Butt's Refusal to Land

When the shiba nunu is concentrating on her toy, she forgets that her butt is still up.  It can actually take a full minute or so for her derriere to hit the ground.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mya Meets an Imposter

When we got back from Tokyo, Mya met an imposter- the stuffed shiba from Wankodo.  It was "love" at first sight.  She would have "loved" to bite its nose off if she had the chance.

Mya:  "Oooh!  What is that?!"

Mya: "Are you for real?"

Mya:  The world has place for only one shiba nunu. Only one of us shall live!

Mya: "Sowee, mummy, I was just playing pretend.  But can I have it... pleeeeeasse?"
The stuffed shiba toy and Mya look so alike, down to the shape of their markings and urajiro!  (white side on reverse)

Kidney Trouble

Just a note to apologize for my lack of entires recently.  Have been dealing with the shiba nunu's kidney trouble for the past weeks.  Will post update soon!

CT Scan Showing Kidney Trouble
Both kidneys had calcification and the right kidney is 3 times bigger than the left kidney

Must be divine intervention that the stones have disappeared after herbal medicine and laser therapy.  However, her right kidney is still edematous and in my own terms- "morphologically grotesque".

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Shiba-Tripping in Tokyo

Wankodo Photos
As I promised, here are some photos of Wankodo, the shiba inu novelty store I absolutely flipped out in when I got a chance to visit their store in Tokyo.  This is not a permanent location for them though.  They seem to move often, but they have a permanent location somewhere off-Kyoto. 

What a happy greeting- smiling shiba faces. :)
 Had Mya's portrait done. This framed portrait instantly found its place on the night table in my hotel room.

Yasuda-San, Yasuda-San holding up a freshly painted watercolor portrait of Mya. 
He did everything in less than 10 minutes, and he made the portrait just by looking at Mya's picture in the little LCD screen of my camera.

Everything Shiba!
Jasmine of Ginza

We met Jasmine and her human while strolling around the Ginza area. What a lovely pair!  Too bad we were both in a hurry and didn't exchange contact information.

Jasmine, so pretty and so shiba!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sneaky Shiba

She had no idea....

Wonkodo's Red Stuffed Shiba Makes a Secret Appearance

Halloween Party at Pup Culture

After changing my mind three times whether or not Mya should go to the Halloween Party, we finally made it to Pup Culture in her simple home-made costume.  In choosing what her costume will be for the occasion, my top priority was her comfort, not wanting to aggravate any skin irritation.  As expected, she tried to remove it and managed to convince me to keep it off soon after her photo session was over.  Here is Mya in her Halloween costume. 
Her flag came all the way from Mt. Fuji's level 5.

Thanks, Pup Culture, for organizing the party.  Mya had a lot of fun, specially after having won the Longest Stay grand prize. Thank you, Mya, for not letting me down even when there were so many distractions.  Too bad you don't do the same during agility! She would have loved to compete in the grand finals of the Trick and Treat game but "mommy" made her go home right after winning in her 'division'.  Ooh!  Competitive!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Re-united with the Little Giant Nunu

Today, I get to come home to Mya.

Two days ago, while in Tokyo, I heard news that after having our house staff bring her to the vet to be examined and have her x-ray taken, it showed a large "mass" in her abdomen.  The vet suspects an enlarged kidney.  After examining further through ultrasound, it showed as something that is fluid-filled.  Oh boy, what can an enlarged, fluid-filled kidney actually mean?  Her Creatinin and BUN levels are normal though.  Had her scheduled for a CT Scan soonest, which is on Wednesday (5 days from now). 

So happy to see her and to have her around me again, but it's hard to be completely happy as I know that there's something in her little tummy that shouldn't be there.  Meanwhile, I have decided to suspend worrying, as she looks and behaves as normal as can be, and there's nothing I can do for now.

I'm Home Present
Walking up to our front door, I had my "coming home present" on hand.  I was expecting a hyper-active furkid to greet us. I was not disappointed as she did her usual "welcome home, where have you been, why were you gone so long dance". Then I gave her the present which she immediately worked on- shredded to pieces.  The present?

Starbucks recycled hot sleeve.

This time, it's special because it's from Japan. Yeah right! Shiba toys don't have to be expensive, if you don't mind it being for single use only - and if you don't mind sweeping up bits and pieces when she's done.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wankodo- I love!

I can not help but gush over the shiba inu novelty items store, Wankodo, that I wrote about in my last post! I returned to the store today, as the owner of the store who is also the creative mind behind it, emailed me this morning. I was shocked that he was willing to let go of one of his sample stuffed toys for me. How kind of him, as he only had one sample for each- a black and white shiba, a cream shiba, and a red shiba. I think it takes a crazy shiba lover to understand another crazy shiba lover's passion for her fur-kid's breed. Having four black and tan shibas and having built his business around them, he is at a very good place for understanding my craziness.

As I stepped into the store, I immediately spotted him behind his artist's table where he draws portraits of shibas. He must have recognized me as the non-Nihongo speaking customer from the day before, who kept on nagging him about the stuffed shiba, even through e-mail. Doumo arigatto gozaimasu, Yasuda-San! I will be posting up pictures as soon as I get back home to Manila.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Irony Is... Missing Mya... in Japan

I finally get to visit Mya's ancestral lands... And I am missing her so much! Right now while we are on vacation in Tokyo, I will have to make do with Mya's portrait on my bedside table.

Thanks to the Seattle Shiba Inu Meetup folks, I found this fantastic shiba inu specialty shop called Wankodo in Shinjuku. Great timing that during this time I am in Tokyo, they opened up booth in Marui One, instead of their usual home location which is a bit off Kyoto.

Wankodo is the heavenly destination of choice for all shiba inu lovers. Wow! One look and I wanted to faint. As i entered the main entrance of the mall, every item seemed to jump out straight towards me. Shiba inu bags, cloth towels, pens, pins, postcards, notebooks, notepads, stationery, shirts, mugs, and a lot more other shiba inu-themed items. I wanted to bring everything back home to the Philippines. But among all of those items, what really really caught my eye, so much that I had a hard time letting go of them were the cloth stuffed toys that were so artfully made. Hand-sewn and hand-painted, I believe. Very realistic, and patterned after the details and appearance of actual shibas. I was so excited that I placed a red shiba and a black and tan shiba in my basket and as I was about to pay for them, we were told that they were just samples and they are sold on a per order basis only. Plus... ordering would take three months. Unfortunately, I am only in japan for 10 days. I wish they could accommodate a special order and send to Manila. The language barrier made it difficult to ask for special arrangements. Nonetheless, those artistic toys have been imprinted in my head and are unforgettable.

I also got to meet a real Japanese black and tan shiba. She is as old as Mya- 2 years, but obviously much smaller. She was about two thirds of Mya's size. According to the owner she weighs around 8 kg. Mya is at 11 kg now. Giant shiba!

Then at the corner of the shop, was none other than Wankodo's artist who was skillfully and effortlessly painting portraits of shiba inus. It only takes him less than 10 mimes per portrait, using watercolor- a very difficult medium, in my opinion. We commissioned him to make a portrait of Mya based on her photo in my camera- the photo I took of her the day we left for Tokyo. I will post it up here when I get back to Manila.

There is just one problem about this trip...I can't get my mind off bringing home a black and tan shiba! Mya needs a playmate!

Visit Wankodo's website so you'll see why I went crazy. :)


I think my visit to Wankodo was the highlight of this trip for me. This and the to-die-for, melt-in-your-mouth sushi!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Random Current Pictures

Just thought of posting some photos up as I have been remiss with this lately.  These photos were taken within the past 3 days.

Please-give-me-that-tennis-ball eyes.

The nunu's shot at redecorating.  She re-decorated her bed.

Chilling.  (Waiting for walk-walk)

Pretending to Pay Attention
Notice that her other ear is tuned in somewhere else!

Look how thin my fur is!

Tired after walk-walk, and taking her place in front of the fan

One more time... with drool...

and a wink!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

No-Hug Shiba

This is to announce that I have figured out a second reason for why Mya doesn't like being touched too much. The first, is her being a shiba inu.  The second reason...She's ticklish!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Manila's Atopic Shibas

I have read a number of times that one shouldn't let emotions rule when purchasing a puppy, and also, not to buy from a petshop because most likely, you will end up patronizing a puppymill and with your hands full, your emotions drained, and your wallet empty.

Breaking the Rules
I broke rule #1 because getting Mya was an emotional decision for me.  But then again, opening up your family to a new member requires one's heart's involvement too. 

I broke rule #2 because when I got Mya from a petshop, I knew the petshop was the breeder as well. I thought that there was a difference.  I didn't know any better.

The most responsible thing I did before deciding to get her was had her checked by a veterinarian.  The vets said that she had a cough and they found a dead ear mite on her.  When I asked if it was a cause for alarm, she said the cough can be treated with antibiotics (I had no idea what kennel cough was)  and the ear mite was already dead and so it's not a cause for alarm.

I brought Mya home that day with medications I just purchased- my first purchase after getting her.  I didn't know that was the first of countless vet visits and medications for numerous conditions she would have.

The Cost of Breaking the Rules

Kennel Cough- She did not get well from her kennel cough until more than a month from the time she came home.  We had to use 3 different antibiotics on her, and then a bacterial sensitivity test to find the right antibiotics

Reverse Sneezing- A puppy who is reverse sneezing is not a pretty sight.  Check it out on youtube.

Demodex- Upon turning 6 months of age, Mya got demodectic mange.  A hereditary immune system inability to resolve the exposure to demodex mites on its own.  Most dogs already have demodex mites living in their skin even as a puppy, but will not show signs of demodex, unless it is genetically incapable of resisting it.

Hyper-Thyroid-  Mya's Thyroid only normalized when she turned 1 1/2 years old. Apparently, this condition is exteremely rare among dogs- hypo-thyroid being common. 

High Creatinin and BUN-  In blood tests, these are good indications to the overall health of the kidneys. Incidentally, this organ's cells do not regenerate.  So any damage to the kidneys are permanent.  Common in older dogs who are nearing their time, but for a puppy?

Hyper-active, Acidic Stomach- This is not uncommon to dogs who go hungry for prolonged hours, but for a dog to vomit bile and stomach acid every morning, and now needing 4 small meals a day to keep vomiting at bay?  That's special.  (Edit: Oct 15, 2010 Vet suspects Mya to have stomach ulcer from too much acidity.  She vomited acid and blood after refusing to eat breakfast)

Truth in Kibbles
Before bringing her home I asked the care-taker at the shop what they fed Mya, so I could buy her the same type of food and have an easy transition.  He said she ate Eukanuba Lamb and Rice.  They also sent some re-packed kibbles with her which should be good for a few days.  When I bought Eukanuba Lamb and Rice for puppies and compared it with what they sent, it was totally different.  Maybe they were actually feeding her something even cheaper, or they were feeding the 12 week old puppy adult food. 

Reporting Demodex
Upon getting Mya's demodex daignosis, I immediately, and in good faith sent text messages to the care-taker of the shop to tell him that he should inform the breeder that Mya has demodex. This info should have been appreciated because then this would help them identify which sire and dam are not appropriate for their breeding program.  I did not get any response.  Not even "thank you for letting us know". 

Asking About Allergies
When Mya turned one, I tried to contact them again to ask what possible allergies Mya could have based on the allergies of the dam and sire, but I got no answer.  I wasn't surprised anymore.  Because as soon as I brought Mya home, they never answered any of my messages. 

Now that she has Atopic Dermatitis, I have no one to blame but her breeder, and am helpless to know that they are continuing to breed shibas with atopy because they couldn't care less or can not understand the magnitude of this genetic predisposition.  Soon, the Philippines will have many shibas with atopy in their bloodline. Soon many dog owners who love their shibas as much as I love Mya will be going through this predicament.  It's easy to be a breeder, but difficult to be a responsible one.  Don't get me wrong-  I love my furkid, and I have nothing but praise about her temperament, but why did she have to come with so many health problems?

The shiba inu is a Japanese National Treasure and it is sad that people who got their hands on them don't quite give justice to the breed.  Breeding is not simply about conformation or temperament. Health is a major consideration.

How can a dog exhibit these traits when she's so itchy that her tail can't even curl up anymore?
  • "spirited boldness" (悍威 kan'i?)
  • "good nature" (良性 ryōsei?)
  • "artlessness" (素朴 soboku?)

So many people have asked me where I got Mya.  Complete strangers have even found me online to ask where I got her, but I never told them because I don't want them to be supporting a puppymill disguised as a responsible, award-winning breeder.  Let me just leave this long and "angstful" entry with the name of her Sire and Dam.  Before you get a shiba, it's up to you to check and steer clear.

Sire:  Zippy of Ming Dog House FCI (ROC)
Dam:  Jerboa of Ming Dog House FCI (ROC)
Mya:  Lombija's Forest Bright (AKC)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Atopy" - That Unspeakable Word

One week and one day after celebrating that Mya's allergies have subsided, we are now facing this much dreaded word, "atopy". I guess it's official... Vet diagnosis is in. Should have been simple to treat with Cyclosporin, but due to a history of high Creatinin and BUN levels, we need to nurse her kidneys and we will be going the long route.  We will continue the long process of trial and error to find her allergen/s.

What is Atopy?
Atopy is the same as atopic dermatitis (allergic dermatitis, canine atopy).  It is an inherited predisposition to develop allergic symptoms following repeated exposure to some otherwise harmless substance.  This disease is hereditary in nature and affects many breeds.

Treatment Options Include...
1.  Avoidance of Allergen- easy to say but hard to do, specially when the allergen is unknown.  It may be food-realated or environmental, but actually finding out what it is requires a systemized trial and error process and record-keeping.  Sometimes, when the allergen is environmental, it may not even be possible to eliminante completely (like human dander).
2.  Antihistamines- like Iterax, etc. helps to control itch but causes drowsiness as well. (short term effect)
3.  Steroids (Topical and/or Oral)- Oral steroids are used only when necessary as it can cause adverse side effects. Topical steroids are said to be safer.
4.  Immuno-therapy- Once the allergen has been identified, immuno-therapy can be done.  It aims to desensitize the dog's immune system from the allergen.
5.  Fatty Acid supplements-  This is supposed to help in restoring or maintaining the integrity of the skin, as well as to naturally avoid dryness. (Mya is on Cod liver oil, but we will be changing this to a more skin-specific source from Healthy Options)
6.  Moisturizing Baths-  Soothes the skin and helps avoid dryness which exacerbates the skin condition during atopy flare-ups  (I'm dying to let Mya try the Aveeno Colloidal Oatmeal bath, which a fellow-shiba owner in Dogster was raving about)
7.  Cyclosporine and Other Similar Drugs- suppresses the immune system so as not to recognize and "over-react" when exposed to allergens.

For a more informational reference that is short and reader-friendly, I recommend this article from VeterinaryPartner.com


Monday, October 11, 2010

Love-Hate Relationship

Mya has a love-hate relationship with her toys.  She loves them to pieces.  Literally.  I suppose most shibas are the same way.

Die, squirrel! Die!

Friday, October 08, 2010


Mya is almost done shredding the carton from a kitchen paper towel roll... and is completely proud of herself.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Funny Girl's Love at First Sight

Mya knows when it's time to walk, and as soon as she hears "walk-walk", she goes nuts!  But what really makes her go nuts is when I take my time preparing- changing my clothes, getting her walking-bag, putting my shoes on, and finally getting the leash.  She starts to howl, telling me "what's the hold-up?"  But what  I find ironic is how her excitement upon seeing her leash actually delays the much awaited walk.  When she sees her leash, she starts to run and pick her toys out, then drinks water and can barely stay put to have her collar placed on her. Funny girl!

Embarrassing Nunu at Today's Walk

Have you seen a dog stare at a stranger before? Not an aggressive kind of stare but an overly-interested kind of stare that makes no sense at all?

When we were heading home and right about to cross an intersection next to a dog store, we reached a "stalemate".  Mya wanted to turn left towards the store, but we were headed straight.  Since I didn't want to pull her but neither did I want to give in, she sat down.  (She usually does this when she can't have it her way.) Right then, a car stopped in front of us and out came a "beautiful young couple".  They were tall and fair and looked almost like celebrities. Maybe they were but I don't know them.  I could tell that the people were looking. And lo and behold, even Mya was looking at them.  Wait... she was staring at the man.  Wait... she's actually crossing the road... to follow them.  And she's still staring at the man!  I was dumbfounded!  She actually went a little bit ahead of them to look at him some more.  At this point I was already weirded out and all I could say was "What's wrong with my dog??" And to this, they started laughing. I told Mya to stay and had the couple walk ahead.  I still don't understand what exactly happned, but again... funny girl, Mya!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Mya's Allergies Are Gone...Almost!

This calls for a HUGE celebration! Mya's allergies seem to have fled. Only redness on one paw remains, and I have yet to double-check if her ear infection has cleared up. I don't know what worked but aside from shifting to all-natural household cleaning products (even our bathrooms), we also did all these:

1. Raw food for 2 months now- chicken, beef, lamb (though not for a long time now), salmon, pork
2. Night kibbles changed from the Orijen that Dr. Nielsen recommended to Royal Canin Hypoallergenic that Dr. Racky recommended (except that she is now tired of it and is skipping her overnight kibbles already)
3. Occasional VCO- she licks up 1tsp and we also apply some to dry skin and hotspots that have not broken skin.  Open wounds get dabbed with Oribiotic ointment.
4. Supplements: Vitamin E and Cod liver oil once a day
5. Washed her mattress #1 with non-residue soap (Charlie's Soap)
6. Removed mattress #2
7. Removed: Greenies, rawhide, all commercial treats (biscuits, Merrick lamb lung), and even home-made treats I baked myself that contained wheat
8. Once a week bath- alternate Mycocide with regular moisturizing shampoo. (She used to do well with once a month baths but because the air is so polluted and dusty now, we've had to bathe her more often.)
9. Used only hot water to wash her bowl, and occasionally used Messy Bessy all-natural detergent to clean  it.
10. This is beyond our control and I don't know if it's related but maybe the fact that it's been raining everyday somewhat purifies the environment of suspended allergens. Also, since it's the end of the year and has been raining, it's been relatively cool for the past 2 weeks.

Ms. Shiba-nunu is going through her second molt for the year and her tail looks like a lab's tail instead of a fox-like shiba tail. But the bald spots have healed and should fill up again soon. I am keeping my fingers crossed, hoping that the white underside fur still grows white. Funny to have a shiba with mottled red and white fur on the tail!

I'm sleeping more peacefully as I don't need to put on her Lifesavers collar anymore and she rarely chews on herself now. Wheneve I suspect her to be chewing and check up on her, she is just licking herself- back to grooming the shiba way.  She's done shedding on the hind part of her body and next to go will be her fur around her neck.  She's going to look scrawny na again.

And is it just me?  But it seems like...she grew even more! Wow... I think she's turning into an akita!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A Time for Simple Joys of Life

There has always been something about the distinct cool evening air of the "ber" months that made me feel nostalgic and happy.  The good memories of past Christmases as a child surely has something to do with it. Not so this year. Soon, it will be one full year from the time I was admitted into the hospital for an emergency C-section.  One full year from the time Quelo and I were supposed to look at each other for the first time after having shared almost 9 months of love and togetherness. One full year from the time I layed down in the recovery room and heard the doctor say to me, "... they are reviving Michael".  One full year since my husband and I came back home with empty arms to a house with a stroller, baby clothes, bottles and gifts from the baby shower.

On Good Days and Dog-Shopping

Tonight, as I breathe the familiar cool evening air of the months close to Christmas, I remind myself how small things used to make me happy.  How simple things can bring so much joy, and how trivial things can all add up to compound into memories of "the good days".  I resolve to make new memories and new good days. 

Tonight I just realized that my current simple joys are composed of, among other things, my online purchases. I have just ordered a few things from Amazon and I am really thankful for my aunt who generously gave me some space in her shipping box from New York. I should be receiving the items before Christmas and I'm embarrassed to admit that all the items I purchased are dog-related.  Yes, all of these are for Mya:

1. Travel Harness

Solvit Travel Harness
This connects the dog to the seatbelt so that
she will not be a trajectory in case of a collision
(not that I intend to be involved in one)
2.  Back Seat Cover

Solvit Seat Cover for Pets
This will protect the car from scratches-
provided the dog can be prevented from laying his paws
on the door and the top part of the backrest 
3.  Training Treat Bag
Guardian Gear Training Treat Bag
Should be very useful during agility training
to keep those yummy treats handy
4.  Tug/ Bumper

Chuckit! Amphibious Bumper
 5.  Fish Oil Supplement (Capsules)

Animal Essentials Fish Oil Plus, Omega 3 Supplement

The Top of My "Simple Joys" List

One of the items at the top of this list is my order of a customized harness for Mya.  It took me so long to finalize my order, and now that it's paid for in full, all I have to do is wait for the shipment to arrive.  I am not used to buying something that I have not seen on the shelf, but more so this time that it will be a unique piece.  I encountered Raw Dog Leather online when a fellow shiba owner from Seattle recommended the Winnie-style harness, which was originally designed for a shiba.  Mixie has been very patient in answering all my questions and takes time to really explain everything. Check out Raw Dog Leather's facebook site and you will agree that Mixie is a gifted and skilfull artisan and business owner.


 Even through e-mails, you can tell that she is a woman with a genuine heart for both people and dogs. :)  Soon, Mya will be sporting one of her creations. I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Depriving Us of Sleep

Half-awake and half asleep, I hear Mya's footsteps in surround sound.  One moment they're coming from beside me, the next moment over from the other side of the room. In between, she would pause to do her shiba shake which is also effective in waking me up.  She is pacing back and forth, and then I feel her presence beside me.  With her paws up on the bed, she is staring at me and when I stir she gives me a huff.  It's still dark and I look at the clock- 3 a.m. What does she want at three in the morning?  Did she want to go potty? She has her doggie door so she can easily go out without waking me up. I try to go back to sleep but she decides that it's my husband's turn to be rudely awakened.  Just as I am starting to fall asleep again, dear husband wakes me up to tell me that the dog woke him up. This has been happening every day for a little over a week now.

Mya..Mya...Mya... you have started a cycle of sleep deprivation.  For the life of me, I can not think of any reason why she started doing this, apart from our new early morning walk-walk schedule, which is no earlier than 5:30 a.m. Maybe I have to teach her how to read time.

Mya, we're going back to our old schedule. We will stick with early evening walks.  Meanwhile... I need to catch up on sleep.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Toys and Tugs

It seems like since Mya became a part of our lives, I have been infected with a virus that makes me whip my wallet out everytime I see dog toys.  I'm  slowly recuperating from this disease but as you can see here, the ill-effects are irreversible.

As a puppy, Nylabones were great!  So were anything else that could withstand heavy chewing, are not toxic, and are not digestive blockages waiting to happen.  From adolescence, Mya specially loved squeaky stuffed toys and her favorite throw pillow that she would pounce on and dig into. She became more trustworthy with toys that she could manage to shred as she has learned to spit out the shreds and little pieces that she manages to tear away from her toys- toilet paper cardboard rolls, empty mineral water and Gatorade bottles, and other stuffed toys. As an adult dog, she still loves all of the above, and also plays with interactive toys, as she enjoys the mental stimulation from these.

One regret that I have (though it isn't too late) is not having played tug with Mya as she was growing up.  I read more than once in dog behavioral books that playing tug, which is a game of strength, increases the aggression in dogs and should be avoided.  ("Child-proofing Your Dog", Brian and Sarah Kilcommons, (C) 1994) Though tug was Mya's favorite game, I banned playing tug with her as we were preparing her for the arrival of our precious baby boy. We simply didn't want to encourage overly playful, aggressive behavior that time.   About a year later, I learned from Jojo Isorena, Dog Behaviorist and owner of BetterDog Canine Behavior Center, that there is actually a proper way of playing tug that does not lead to aggression problems.  He demonstrated it with Mya and it indeed looked so much fun!  I should have known better than to believe the overly-simplification of the dog training books that I read.  I wish I knew this when Mya was still a puppy. Nonetheless, I will be practicing this with her from now on.

Proper Way to Tug
Start with a proper tug toy. 
1.  A good tug toy is made of fabric that can withstand your canine's teeth and the heavy pressure of tugging.  It should be soft enough to be comfortable in his mouth.  Avoid stiff as well as rough fabrics that could cause abrasion and sores inside his mouth.
2.  Mind the size of the tug toy.  Make sure that it fits comfortably in your dog's mouth- not too big, not too small.  Mya rejected my past 2 attempts at a home-made tug toy as they turned out a bit too large for her shiba (small) mouth to grip.  Instead of going for the tug, she would go for the rope handle, which was, on the other hand, very narrow.  I discouraged continuing the game with her just gripping the rope between her teeth because the prospect of having to treat a dog with rope-burn in her mouth did not appeal to me at all.
3.  Use a tug with a handle. This is for your own safety.  Sometimes, in the middle of intense tugging, your dog would have to adjust his grip.  You wouldn't want your fingers to accidentally get caught in between the tug toy and his teeth.  That would be ugly.

The Game
Catch his attention with the tug toy.  Using the handle, hold it in front of him and swing it around, back and forth until he gets the urge to grab it with his teeth and pull it.  Your tug game has officially commenced.  Make sure you don't lose, as you need to keep your place in the heirarchy.  He needs to know you are stronger than him.  But once in a while, give him slack so he can also enjoy the game. Now this is the most important part.  Throughout the game, you should have intermissions, when you command him to let go.  A simple "drop it" command will do.  When he obeys and lets go (acknowledging your leadership), you start the game all over again.(reward)

End the game by taking the tug toy and keeping it. (sealing your leadership role)

With a highly playful dog like Mya, almost nothing else comes close to a game of tug in terms of bonding- unless giving her a bath in a very cramped shower enclosure counts! ;)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's Playtime!

Mya has been my constant companion and since I work from home, I would have to ignore her for long stretches.  That isn't good when you want your dog to see you as the most interesting thing in the world.  Apparently, this is the key to getting a shiba inu's attention when doing agility off-leash.  Haven't had the success in this area yet.  She aces the obstacles, but with zero focus on me, we won't get anywhere.

I have trained her to expect something fun whenever I say the magic words "It's playtime"!  Hopefully it will work when she's off-leash.  It usually gets her attention, but making her obey is another story.  She knows all the commands very well, but being a shiba inu that she is, when I give a command, I can almost see her thought-balloon that reads "Why should I?" 

This morning's Playtime was a search game- DIY-style.  She used to have these rubber balls that she eventually split in the middle, creating half-spheres.  I would hide a treat one at a time, and she would guess which half-sphere contains a treat. To get the treat, she would have to pick up the half-sphere and overturn it, as no amount of simple nosing or pushing would reveal the treat.

Mya and Her Half-Spheres
(They used to be balls.)

Mya searching. Sniff...sniff...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Early Walk and the Shiba Nunu

I love how early morning walks give her an all-day-long bounce. She trots around the house instead of walking like a zombie.  But this morning, I had to interrupt her morning trot with a dose of Iterax to stop her from itching.  Now she has claimed the sofa for some zombie Zzz's.

Talking about zzz's and interruptions, it's the second day she has interrupted my sleep to try and make me remove her "Lifesavers" collar.  This ProCollar is a genius invention, and much better than the plastic Elizabethan collars that are more aptly called the Cone of Shame. Got the ProCollar from Petco last time I was in New York, April of this year. I have never seen any of this kind here in Manila.  Wish someone would import it, or even better, manufacture it locally. My only comment is that it could use a bit of weight reduction. I guess making it durable enough for its purpose imposes a little bit on the weight.

Nonetheless, she hates both- cone or doughnut.  I do too!  When she's wearing either, she can't fit through her doggie-door which means I have to open and close the door for her.  Wake up, lazy-bones!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Afternoon Rain

Mya and I tried to beat the afternoon rain.  Tried.  Fortunately, our friendly neighbors from Pup Culture were kind enough to lend us umbrellas and even kind enough to carry Mya home for me. 

I knew she badly needed to walk because it has been raining every day and we haven't been able to go out in two days.  And she needs to burn calories now that she has weighed in at 12kg- her all-time high! Cheers to the Raw Diet!

Fresh Inside Mya's Doggie Bag
Liver Parsley Home-Made Treats
(High Calcium, High Fiber, No Wheat)

Baked these for Mya a week ago when I decided to get rid of all her store-bought treats.  This way, I know exactly what she's ingesting.  Sort of.  Not including the bugs she catches near the window every morning.

Mya at Dawn-Watch

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Have a Mya Christmas!

Now in the news... a friend who is in the business of producing and selling personalized greeting cards asked me if she could use Mya's picture in her designs.  Of course, I said yes!  And I ordered too!

This is Mya, the Shiba-Nunu!