The Peeing Post
Newsletter for dog lovers who respect the dog's nature
Chief Editor: Mogens Eliasen
This newsletter is free and subscription is intended to be by opt-in only. If you receive it in error or no longer wish to subscribe, please follow the unsubscribe instructions at the bottom.
Dear Dog Friend,
It is certainly summer! I hope you enjoy it - and the dog too! The mosquitoes are out - and they are many here. Also so many that you just don't want to be outside without first being dipped in mosquito repellant...
They do not bother Bettemuir, my furry one. She has her coat to protect her. One more darn good reason for not shaving a long-haired dog! The horses are less fortunate - their coat does not keep the bugs away, so their tails are busy all the time...
Taking your puppy for a walk
Annette gave me a question about walking her new puppy. She heard all kinds of stories about it being unhealthy for puppies to exercise too much, so she was hesitant taking it out for walks...
It is true - they should not be exercised too much. But "too much" means "beyond the point where they do it voluntarily"!
Seriously, I have never heard of a mother to a litter of puppies restricting the time the puppies can play, out of concern for their bone development... But I have not heard of any natural mother forcing her puppies to exercise either!
As long as the purpose of your taking puppy for a walk is to introduce it to the world, you will generally be fine. The conflicts normally pop up when you try to combine this with other erands, like shopping or bringing the kids to school or other tasks that put you under time pressure and leaves no flexibility in regards to adjusting the length of the walk or the speed...
The point is this: take that puppy out for all the walks you want - as long as you are prepared for carrying it home when it doesn't want to continue any longer. I mean it literally: carry it! The signs of a puppy that does not want to go any further are very easy to read: "the little shit" just doesn't want to move! If you pull on the leash, it sits down. If you try to coax it, it ignores you. You can try to walk in another direction (back home will sometimes "losen up" on the situation...), but if you have no success, you simply wait a few seconds and then lift it up on your shoulders.
The waiting period is for the puppy to forget about any connection between it resisting your wish and being given a "free ride home". There is no point is letting the puppy train you to carry it when it does not want to walk any further - it could become a bad habit for later. But half a minute's "cool-off time" will prevent any such connection in its mind. It will also give you a chance to find out if there is a solid reason behind the request for a rest. Sometimes, just lifting the bum off the ground and gently pushing it to demonstrate that legs are indeed OK to walk on might do the trick. But if it doesn't, you must respect it.
The best way to carry your dog is to get it on your shoulders, so both left legs are on your chest and both right legs on your back. This way, you can carry it for quite some distance, and the dog can be comfortable. You can even grab the two paws on your chest with just one hand, making the other hand free to use. If you are in rough terrain (hiking), this can be very important.
Training your dog to be carried like this can one day mean the difference between life or death for it. If it gets injured when you are far away from any chances of getting help, you will be grateful for this....
I put a series of instruction pictures on the web site. You can go there and see how exactly you can do it - it is fairly simple, yet it does take some training before both you and your dog are comfortable doing this! The URL is k9joy.com/dogtraining/lifting.html
Bettemuir in Clearwater River...
This is actually an embarrassing story for me - but it stresses some important lessons I think are worth learning, and it is a prime illustration of it being useful to teach the dog to be calm when carried....
I was out walking my old Bettemuir (she was past 18 back then and more deaf and blind than I thought...) along the Clearwater River between Clearwater town and Wells Gray Park, when there still was snow on the trails. The terrain was quite rocky, and the trail often went up over cliffs several hundred meters above the wild river. (That river has claimed quite a few lives from rafters and "brave" kayakers...)
As always, Bettemuir trotted a few meters behind me on the trail, and I constantly kept an eye on her, so we did not lose contact. But there was this point where the trail curved up behind a cliff - quite steep and rough. I tripped and twisted my ankle. I fell and was in huge pain. It only took me a few seconds to get up again and look for Bettemuir - but she was gone! Nowhere to see on the trail!
My first reaction was to get back to the car - I know she always goes back to a spot where she knows I will come when she gets lost. But there was some 6 km back... With my injured ankle, I could hardly run, but I did. About a km. Then I had to realize that it was not very likely that she would have gone back. She is no fast runner. I would have caught up with her. And I was about to scream in pain...
I limped back to where I lost contact and I searched all possible ways she could have gone astray. No dog to be seen. I finally went back and left my jacket where I knew she was the last time I saw her, hoping that she would stay there when she returned (not a faint hope - she had done that before).
I went/limped/ran/stumbled all the way back to the car, just to check if she nevertheless should have been able to get back. After all, my ankle bothered me, and I was not really sure that I would have caught up with her... I started to doubt my own judgment.
Finally back, there was no dog around. I asked people in the houses around - the answers were all negative. Their dogs would have alerted them...
I felt the panic creeping in on me. At least I now knew that she did not make it back. So she had to still be out in the bush - somewhere...
I ran back and checked all the small trails that possibly could have made her get off the main trail, just to be sure that she wasn't waiting there - as she would in the moment she knew she was lost.
Back at the jacket - still no dog.
I was desperate now, but I forced myself to not panic. I started walking back. For every 50m, I stopped and called her recall command out into all directions, listening for a response. I knew from our training that if she was stuck, that command would make her bark. It was the "SECOND NAME", the recall command I used for wilderness search - when it was up to her to find people that were lost. Now the roles were reversed. What an irony.I was about 1/3 of the way back when I suddenly heard a whiny howling-type of lamenting bark. It was her! But it came from down the river! There was a steep slope down - 200 meters, but it was treed, so I could get down. I could not see anything for the trees, but I often repeated my call and repeatedly got her to answer, so I knew I was getting closer...
When I finally was down at the roaring river, I saw her.... she was on the other side! She was struggling to get out of the water, but the cliff was too slippery, so she constanly fell down into the water again. It did appear, though, as if she could rest a bit on a rock just underneath the surface, so she did not get flushed away again... She was trapped in a small cove.
There was no way for me to cross that river! I had to get help. But I was torn. I couldn't just leave her - she was desperate! But I yelled my PARK command (which basically is the same as the CRATE command we just discussed earlier, just without the crate...). I yelled it several times across to her, and I noticed that it had the effect I wanted: she stopped trying to get out of the water and lied down on the rock, half covered by water... but probably the safest she could be for now... I did not dare to use my "FIRST NAME" recall command that would make her try to come back to me, no matter what - she was most likely too exhausted to have any chances of getting across that river one more time - alive.
I climbed back up the cliffs to the trail. Although exhausted from the climb, I ran the remaining 4 km back to Clearwater. I got the people in the first house to call for help. I just fell like a bag of potatoes on the doorstep, literally - my legs could not carry me any more...
The help came fast. First a glass of water, then two young guys from the Fire Department. They knew the roads of the other side of the river, and I fortunately paid good enough attention to the landmarks, so I could tell when we were there! We could not see her, so we had to make a good guess, based on my memory of the landmarks. The climb down was nasty. Very steep. I could never have made it alone. But with the three of us to help each other, we made it down. I did not dare to think about the consequences of me having picked the wrong spot for the decent...
But I didn't! Bettemuir was still there - and she was alive! Too cold and wet to be able to stand up, let alone walk. All she could do was lick my hand when I greeted her to confirm that help was here now. That was important, because it meant that she was not in imminent danger of shock. A human could not have survived this. She must have been in the cold water for more than 3 hours!
The climb back to the cars was a huge challenge. We took turns carrying Bettemuir. We had to - it was exhausting. The one that carried her constantly needed help from the two others to make it up, carrying not only the extra weight, but also having only one hand to support. But the two others pushed and pulled the "carrier", step by step. It was very hard, but we made it. Fortunately, Bettemuir was comfortable with being carried this way - had that not been the case, we would not have made it! If she would have wriggled or fought, she could have brought us in very severe danger!!!
I got her wrapped in a "space blanket" (aluminum foil) to keep her warm, and after four hours, she wanted out - it got too hot for her... Big relief!
It took another four days before she was totally back to normal. She was exhausted. She limped, but no bones were broken. I don't blame her for being bruised and having sore muscles...
The next day, I went back to the trail to pick up my stuff. At that time I found out what likely had happened: Where the trail curved, just before the spot where I fell and twisted my ankle, the ground was rocky. No trail visible for a dog that does not notice the colored markers, and not much scent on those rocks from my foot prints.... Bettemuir most likely went straight - and that lead her to a slippery rock with moss on. I could see the moss being scraped - someone slid on that rock... Underneath it was no platform - it was a free bumbly roll 200 meters right down into the river!
From there, the river flushed her 2 km downstreams before it "spit her out" in the rocky cove where I found her...
Lessons to learn...
There are several lessons to learn from this:
Here is another true story about bringing your dog into the bush. I did not experience it myself, but my former neighbor Wynn told it. She went visiting some friends in their cabin up around Williams Lake in BC - wonderful area, great fishing, great hunting. The cabin was out in "nowhere" and these people brought their dog, a Jack Russel. The weather was great, but the only chairs they had to sit on were the benches in the cabin around the table. So they got lunch in the cabin, leaving the door open. They also left the dog running loose...
At some point, they were wondering where the dog was. One went out and called. No dog. OK, "it would come soon"...
It certainly did! Right of a sudden, this little dog came running the fastest it ever ran - with a black bear chasing it home! It bolted into the cabin for protection, and before anybody knew of it, the bear came after it, right into the cabin. A little race now followed with the bear chasing the dog around the table a few times - with all four people sitting there, paralyzed...
Eventually, the dog ran out again - and the bear followed. Nobody knows who actually shut the door behind them... Nobody cared about the dog, until they saw the bear walk away, leaving the dog underneath one of the cars...
Everybody came through this ordeal with no visible marks. The marks were all in the souls.
The story stresses quite well that you are not to let your dog fool around on its own in the wilderness. What might start out as a fun tracing exercise could be followed by a bear chase and will most often end up with the bear chasing the dog. And if the dog runs back to you for protection, then you got a challenge I don't think you need...
If the dog would run into a cougar, it would simply become prey. Period.
As long as you are close, and you are not alone, then the dog will generally be safe from those bigger wildlife species that don't welcome barking guests on their territory - or perhaps welcome them a bit too much!
I have to add this joke I heard: Two men were out in the wilderness and suddenly disturbed a mother bear with her cubs. The bear started chasing them. One guy started running, and the other one shouted, "Why do you run - you know you can't outrun a bear anyway!" The response back was, "I don't need to outrun the bear, I only need to outrun YOU!"....
Leashes and collars
I think I made myself clear about controlling your dog when out in the wild. I have one more thing that bugs me....
I see most dog owners give their dogs one of those plastic-snap collars. They are easy to put on and easy to get off. Yeah, right: "easy to get off"...!
The truth is that is takes no more than the touch of a branch to snap them open. Plus, there does not exist any type of plastic that can maintain its elasticity for very long, especially not when exposed to sunlight - so as you use it, it gets "tired" - and breaks!
As stated by Murphy's law, this always happens when you really don't need it. (And you also remember O'Toole's law? Very important! Fundamental, my dear Watson! O'Toole said, "Murphy was an optimist!")
Several former students have asked me about the nice leather leashes and collars with brass buckles Human Dog Leadership Inc. had made for the students. I am sad to say that the supplier is terminally ill and will no longer make them. I had a small inventory left from closing HDL and I sold it. There are still quite a few available; you can check them out here. Maybe you could find what you need.
Summer camps - again in September also
I think that, by now, I should have scared most "normal" people away from ever considering joining me in a summer camp. Good! I don't need "normal" people - I would much rather see some crazy dog fanatics that can understand common sense and are willing to act responsibly.
I have been critizised for not giving enough notice about the camps. Plus, summer is "bad time" for some. So, I got arranged that we can also plan for two camp weeks in September. It is really a trial balloon from my side - I am prepared for not getting enough participants to make it run - but I am willing to give it a shot.
Please check the site at http://k9joy.com/dogtraining/campcourses.html for details.
This actually leads me to the thought of doing some avalanche training in the winter. I have done a lot of rescue work in Austria and Italy, training dogs to search for people trapped in avalanches. Although darn serious when "for real", it is also a great way of training search and rescue work with dogs. The snow is a great traning tool (when you respect its power!) and it teaches an amazing lot about what a dog can and cannot do with its nose!
Let me know if anyone is interested!
Yes, we will need to find warmer type of accommodation than camping in tents... :-)
Cheers and woof,
If you have any comments or questions pertaining to this issue or in general pertaining to dogs, please respond - if I can find an answer for you, I will!
If you have any suggestions to contributions or contents of The Peeing Post, I will be happy to know about them. (Please no anonymous contacts, though...)
You can access the back issues at http://k9joy.com/peeingpost/backissues.html
For change of the e-mail address you are subscribing with, or for adding another address, please
Got a friend you think would like to receive The Peeing Post?