Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Shibamas!

It has been a crazy few months. I have so many things I wanted to write about, but so less time. If it weren't for Maya, I probably wouldn't even realize it's time for the holiday.

Tachi came to stay with us a few days before Christmas and will be around till the end of the year. Thanks to her parents for the lovely bandana, though neither of them was pleased when I put on the "decoration". 

This year, we also participated in Secret Shiba, a gift exchanging event for Twibas (tweeting Shibas). We sent out a gift to a fellow Shiba before Christmas, and get one from another. We are not allowed to open the box till the 25th.

Maya's gift came around 12/16 in a nicely packed USPS box, with the warning "DO NOT OPEN BEFORE SHIBAMAS" written on it.

Even though no one's watching, we didn't cheat and waited till Christmas day. Sakura the Diva Dog was Maya's Secret Shiba, and she sent us a few toys, a pet alert sticker, a floral collar, and even a Shiba calendar for the humans!

To be honest, these were the only gifts sent and received by our family this year, as we were never that into this tradition. (Immigrants!) However, the anticipation made me felt like a little girl again and I was so glad I signed up. It's interesting to learn how our pets can change us in the ways we would never expected. 

Happy Holiday!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Agility Training Challenges

Maya and I have been going to agility classes once a week at Zoom Room Belmont since May. She learned super quick and we got through agility 1, 2, and 3 in a breeze. Before I noticed, the classes were more about training me, than about training her. I had to put on my sneakers and tie up my hair in order to keep up with her.

However, about a month ago, the training took an unexpected turn. All of a sudden, she seems to lose all her interest. She would sit a the starting line and refuse to move, wonder off the course sniffing, or just stop in front of a bar jump as if she doesn't know how to jump over it.

Maya on jumping strike

Then the worse came when we got invited to an agility demo at the Strut the Mutt event. Though she wasn't enthusiastic, she was able to get through all of the courses halfheartedly while we practice in the gym. But on the day before the event, when we went to practice outdoors for the first time, she totally shut down. She refused to step on the wet grass, kept pulling me towards the parking lot, and eventually just sat there and stared at everyone. I was super nervous but all I could do was to go buy the most tasty treats I could imagine, and pray that she'd come to her senses the next day.

Refused to move at all on the wet grass

On the day of the event, she finally decided to be somewhat cooperative and was willing to move in slow motion. I ended up "walking" her through the courses on leash with a few tugs and pulls, as well as a lot of cheering. Though she performed worse than her second agility class, at least she agreed not to totally embarrass me in front of a huge crowd. (Nevertheless, her daddy took some good photos, and at the end of the day, that's what counts.)

Outdoor agility demo

After the demo, her allergies got worse to the point where we have to keep her in a cone, and not able to go to classes. During the three week break, I had a chance to reflect on the situation. I got a book call "Control Unleashed" (thanks to K, the Jindo owner, who recommended the book), and after a few minutes into reading it, I realized Maya is actually stressed, not bored, naughty, or just trying to give me a hard time.

Thinking back, maybe it was because I tied a balloon to her when shooting my dad's birthday video, or because I invited her Shiba friend Tachi to play at the gym with her, or because she was feeling funny when she had a swollen paw. She is a very sensitive girl and remembers things for a long time. Whatever made her uncomfortable may still be haunting her. (I remember one time we were playing fetch at home when she was still a puppy. She got too excited and peed on the carpet while fetching the ball. Not sure if she scared herself or that I made a scene, but since the accident, she refused to fetch at all for a very long time. I had to spend a lot of time and treats to re-teach her how to fetch, something she learned since 9 weeks old.)

I made a few adjustments since we went back to class 2 weeks ago. I tried making it more exciting when starting a drill. Instead of using "sit, wait, ok" to start, I changed to a new command, "ready? ready? go!". I use it not only for agility, but at home as well. At the end of the "go!", it could be a "touch" my hand, a "find it" game, or a "catch me if you can" chase, but no matter what, it always leads to something fun and rewarding.

I also avoid starting the run in the middle of the course. I realized she gets more stressed out when we had to walk to the center of the classroom, sit, wait, then start. Sometimes she would just sit there and start getting super itchy. So instead, I ignore the starting line and just start running from where we were waiting. If there's a table where we need to stop in the middle of the course, I also make the pause as short as possible. Once she gets all paws on the table, we start running again. I know I'm breaking the rules, but at this point, I think it's more important to keep her moving and not stop to think about the stress.

Maya would freeze up when we stop on a table

Another change I made was to keep her engaged while we wait for our turn. Instead of watching other dogs perform or chatting with other owners, I make sure to focus on her by playing various rewarding games, such as "paw", "leave it", "beg", or "touch". I am also very cautious about not saying anything negative in the classroom. When she makes a wrong turn or miss a weave, instead of saying "no" or "uh-uh", I just guide her back. And when she does something right, I make a big deal out of it.

With all the changes, Maya seems to do a bit better, but still far form the zooming Shiba when she started out. I am actually thinking about going back to take some Agility 1 classes, which allows her to have a higher rate of reward. She can get a treat for every single move, instead of at the end of the entire run. Maybe this can help build her confidence back up again.

I started agility training just to have fun and be able to do something with Maya. I don't have any interest in earning titles or attending competitions. I have been enjoying it a lot myself, but more importantly my partner needs to be happy too. I'll give it a bit more time, but if it's still too stressful for her, maybe we should find a different activity or take a longer break.

When she was still enjoying it

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monthly Expenses: September 2013

September 2013
  • Food: $81
  • Supplements: $99
  • Toys: $5
  • Treats & Chews: $21
  • Vet & Medical: $13
  • Training: $150
  • Grooming: $45
TOTAL: $360
YTD TOTAL: $2,942


This month for Maya's food, we got some green tripe, beef grind, veggies, and yogurt.


For supplements, we got some Chinese medicine, vitamins, seacure, and probiotics.


I wasn't really planning to get her any toys, but I had to return a ear flush that didn't work well for her. I went back to store after the 30 days return period and ended up with a store credit, so I got her some squeaky balls. They helped kept her mind off her itchiness for like 30 minutes, then they joined the big basket of toys she has no interest in.

Treats & Chews

The second half of the store credit from returning the ear flush got spent on some Moo Tubes. At first she wasn't sure how to eat them, but once she figured them out, they are no "long lasting chews" anymore. She also got some beef treats from the pet store.


For training, we had a private training session with a behaviorist to discuss Maya's issues when greeting other dogs.


On those lazy days when we don't want to get ourselves all wet, we give Maya a bath at the DIY dog wash in Pet Food Express. We purchased the buy 3 get 1 free package.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Behavioral Issues When Greeting Other Dogs

This is a long overdue post I wanted to make but kept pushing back and rewriting. For those who had been following us for a while would know that I've always took pride in socializing her early and that she gets along with most dogs nicely. Well, since a few months ago, that' no longer the case. 

I have been seeking help from forum members, Maya's trainer, and a behaviorist. This letter I wrote pretty much sums up the situation:
"I have a 3 year old Shiba Inu, Maya, who we owned since she was 8 weeks old.

Since a few months ago, Maya has started to growl at dogs when meeting, on and off leash. Sometimes when she's on leash, she would even lunge at the other dog. It started with big dogs, then to all dogs, from on leash to off leash, from indoors to outdoors.
A typical meet starts with her being all excited to see another dog. She would run up to the other dog, sniff its face and all of the sudden freeze up once the other dog sniff back. A split second later, she would start growling. The only dogs she's ok with, were the ones who avoids conflict and would turn away when Maya runs up.

We had been working very hard socializing her since she's a puppy and she had been great with dogs. But now things just keep getting worse and worse, and I don't know how to fix it.

I feel like I can no longer take her to dog parks, meetups, doggie daycare anymore. The only place that seems to be ok for her now is the beach, but I'm so afraid some day she can't go there anymore as well.

Today we met a Shiba puppy at training class. Maya was so excited, but as soon as the puppy came close to her, she growled, lunged, snapped within a split second. Both owners were quick enough to pull the dogs back, but I felt terrible, as the puppy was definitely startled. This is the first time she acted out on a Shiba.

I feel so frustrated and defeated..."

Maya's  trainer also helped me filmed a short clip of her meeting another dog. This is the typical worse case situation: big dog + indoors + on leash.

Members from the forums had been very supportive and told me this is a common behavior in Shiba Inus. Many owners carefully manage their dogs' greetings, avoid dog parks, or block between dogs during walks. I started to be more careful with managing her interaction with other dogs as well, but since this is still a newly developed behavior, I really wish there's a way we can "fix" it. I don't expect her to be a social-butterfly or get along with every dog, but I do hope she can be more tolerant of other dogs, learn that she can always walk away when she feels uncomfortable, or even just prolong the period of her growling / warning signals so I can react.

I contacted a highly recommended behaviorist, C.Z., in our area, and lucky she was able to add us to her busy schedule. She met us at our home and went through the details of Maya's everyday life. Then we took Maya to meet with her dog, Little Guy, and Maya did extremely well with the greeting. While I thought that it doesn't count because Little Guy is a super well socialized and polite dog, C.Z. believes this means Maya "still has hope".

She then left me some "homework" to do. Instead of dealing with the greeting problem, she wanted me to enforce Maya's recall, focus, and impulse control. While I was secretly hoping there's some quick answer and solution, I understand a solid training foundation is the key to take control when it gets too exciting, too overwhelming, or too scary for her. I guess I just have to be patient and take things slowly.

Meanwhile, as we work on the training, since she does well at the beach, we will continue to take her there as often as we can. Too bad it's not close enough for us to go everyday and the weather will be turning cold soon. It also sucks (for the dog and the humans) that we have to give her a bath after every trip.

Today, I took her for an evaluation at a doggie daycare, which was recommended by another reactive Shiba's owner. I was was super nervous and so afraid they won't accept her. However, the trainer there is really experienced and helped her greeted other dogs nicely. Since the place is near my office and they have half day (6 hours) sessions with very reasonable price, I'm planning to take her there once a week (after she's less itchy). Hopefully some positive interaction with other dogs can help her become more comfortable around other dogs..

I know when we got a Shiba that this may be what we signed up for, but we kind of let our guards down when we saw how good she was as a puppy. Especially after the allergies flared up and she lost interest playing at the dog parks, we've been slacking off on taking her out to meet other dogs. I really hope the training, beach visits, and doggie daycare can help with the reactiveness, or at least make her a happier dog in general.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cone Head

With Maya's new vet, new diet, and new Chinese medicine, we got through most the summer gracefully. Just when I thought it's about to be over, everything went downhill. In the past few weeks, the weather had been super hot for this time of the year around here and many owners told me their dogs were having allergy reactions or infested by fleas. I didn't find any fleas on Maya, but I believe she still got bitten and started to itch badly.

Yesterday, it finally got to the point where I can no longer distract her when she tries to scratch her face or lick her paws. I gave in and put the cone on. 

Somehow putting her in a cone seems to sadden me more than her. Comparing to the bandage wrap or doggy socks, she actually takes the cone much better. I just feel like all our efforts were in vain, and everything is back to how it was last year. Sigh... 

Nevertheless, yesterday I was finally able to sleep through the night without constantly waking up by the sound of her licking and scratching.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Yesterday was my dad's 60th birthday. Due to my work schedule, I wasn't able to fly back to Taiwan for the big party, but I decided to have Maya make a short film to wish her "grandpa" a happy birthday. Though my dad never allowed us to have a dog while we grew up, he had became Maya's number one fan, and always refers to her as his "grand-dog".

Maya and I woke up at 5:00 am in the morning to FaceTime with an entire room full of guests. After the call, Maya's video was projected on a big TV. Hope this brought some joy and entertainment to everyone.

Thank you dad for teaching us to be earnest, honest, and always curious. Happy birthday and every unbirthday!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Monthly Expenses: August 2013

August 2013
  • Vet & Medical: $200
  • Treats & Chews: $9
TOTAL: $209
YTD TOTAL: $2,528

Vet & Medical

For August, most of our expenses were for the 2 vet visit. One was with the holistic vet, Dr. M, and the other is for treating Maya's ear infection at our general vet. 

Treats & Chews

We got Maya a pig snout to try out. It looks and feels like rawhide, but actually much softer. She finished half of it within a few minutes, and got super soft poop the next day. I'm still debating whether to give her the second half. 

She also got a bag of Real Meat Fish & Venison Jerky Dog Treats. Since Maya has so many "trigger foods", I was glad to find a brand with very limited ingredients and reasonable price.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Urban Herding

Urban Herding is a 6-week workshop we attended at Zoom Room Belmont since mid-July. Is is an introductory class for Treibball, where handlers give commands from a distance and the dogs would push a ball around the field towards a goal. 

During the first class, we started by practicing the touch command, then extended to touching the end point of a long stick. That was easy for Maya, but then it got challenging. We moved on to making her "stand and stay". Out of habit, she would try to sit when I asked her to stay (or when she saw treats in my hand). She also doesn't quite get the idea of standing up from a sit position. 

Touching the end of the stick

After that, the real challenge came when we need to teach her to push a food can with her nose. I tried asking her to touch, which she did, but her touches were too gentle or from the wrong direction and the can never moved. Then she got a bit frustrated and started to bite, lick, or paw at the can, but she just wouldn't push it. And then the big ball came out, which got even worse. She continued with the touching, biting, licking, pawing, and even climbing on it. By the time we walked out of the classroom, we were both exhausted and I had no idea how I'll ever teach her how to push the damn ball. 

What should I do with the ball?

A few days went by without a good solution nor any practice, and then while I was cleaning Maya's toys, I found the Kong Wobbler hidden in a corner. It suddenly came to me that the way Maya plays with the toy is exactly the "push" we wanted. I placed the toy on the floor without even putting any treats in, and she begin to nudge it with her nose right away. I grabbed the clicker and click as soon as she pushed and gave her a treat. After a few rounds, I started add the word "push" as soon as she pushes. Then I changed the toy to a food can and gave her the "push" command. Without any hesitation, she started to push right away. Push, click, treat, push, click, treat! A few minutes later, she's pushing whatever I placed in front of her. What a smart girl!

After we got the "push" figured out, the class was much easier for us. Some of the other classmates were still a but confused, so we played a few interesting games, like putting treats in toilet paper rolls and let the dogs unroll them. I would have never imagined myself encouraging my dog to play with toilet paper.

Unrolling toilet paper by pushing

However, besides the "push", there are still a few challenges. Making Maya to "go out" to stand and stay behind a target was super hard. She was able to go out to a certain range, but once out of my arms reach, she would just stand there. And once I reach for a treat, she would try to come back to me, or sit down. This is probably because all of her training since puppyhood rewards her for staying close to me or sitting still. She had no idea I why I would want her to leave my side. 

Stand and stay behind a target

And then the biggest challenge, is to make her push the ball in the direction I want. Every time she starts pushing, she would enter this crazy pushing mode and ignore whatever I say. Even when she is paying attention to me, it's super hard to make her change directions. Since the ball is so big, I would need to guide her all the way around the ball to push from a different angle. Usually by the time she got to the right place, the ball most likely had gone somewhere else. 

Maya goes crazy pushing and ignores me

Despite all the challenges, Maya still graduated with flying colors. During the last class, we had to compete in 6 different contests, including going out behind an object, moving to target locations, unrolling toilet paper, pushing the ball for a certain distance, pushing the ball to a "gate", and, oops, I forgot the other one. Maya won 4 out of the 6 and tied the other 2. She walked away with the "Best Herder" title! 

Maya graduated as the "Best Herder"!!

Overall, it's a very interesting workshop. It would require a lot more training to even think about competition, but it's a great introductory class to have an understanding of what Treibball is about. Though is not as physically challenging as agility, it actually provided a lot more mental stimulation. We had to constantly take breaks during the class so the dogs wouldn't be overwhelmed. 

This class also provided a great opportunity for me to really learn how to use clicker training. It worked really well when marking a precise action, like how to push or touch. However, it doesn't work well when doing a continuous motion, like moving to a location, pushing the ball for a distance, or standing still for an amount of time. The sound of the clicker was too distinct and Maya would stop whatever she's doing and wait for a treat. Verbal acknowledgement actually works better in those cases. 

The best part about this activity is that we can continue the training at home. All we need is a ball and some enthusiastic "Push! Push! Push!" commands!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Behind the Curtain

Since I blocked the space under the bed a few months ago, Maya found a new favorite hiding spot: behind the curtain. She usually goes into hiding when she wants to do something she knows I don't approve of, like scratching her face or licking her paws. Sometimes it's also because she's pissed, like after I put doggie socks on her feet, wiped her ears, or wrapped her up with bandage. The curtain is probably covered with dust or pollen, since we often keep the windows open, but I guess it's still better than hiding under the bed. Ah, some days she just acts like she's the most mistreated dog in the world. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Maya's Journal

Since the first outbreak of Maya's allergies, I figured the importance of keeping a journal. Not only to help determine what are the causes of her itchiness, but also to track what types of treatments are helping. I started this blog mainly for this reason. However, I soon realized a blog is a good way for periodical updates, but not as ideal for tracking everyday details. 

Maya's daddy and I soon came up with an idea of making our own iPhone app to track Maya's allergies. We can enter how itchy she is, what she eats, and what treatments she's getting; we can use the GPS to log her whereabouts and even look up the local weather automatically. Everything will be storing in a database and we can write some fancy data analysis program to find out how all those variables affect her itchiness. We can even sell the app and make a fortune from all those poor dog owners who are dealing with allergies like us. Well, this idea never got passed the design phase. 

And then almost two years went by, relying mostly on this blog, the pictures I took, and my memory, till we met Dr. M, who really impressed me by reading through my blog before we even met. During our first appointment, she emphasized the importance of keeping a detailed journal and wanted me to be more thorough. Without better options, I started to use the Notes app on my phone to write down anything I thought worth noting. However, it's really not the most pleasant input tool and within a week, I started to slack off.

Notes doesn't work well

To get myself back on track, I decided to revive the "app" idea, but with easier execution. Instead of building a real app, I made a Google from document. With all of the information pre-entered, all I need to do is to go through the list and fill in the blanks everyday. It sounds neat and easy, but there are some serious flaws. The form once submitted, it's hard to make changes, so I need to fill it in the next day instead of throughout the day. Sometimes it's hard to remember all the details, even just 24 hours later. And if I do miss something and wanted to go back to make updates, it would be super difficult. Moreover, if the pre-defined conditions changes, like adding a new supplement or new food, I would have to go edit the form itself before filling in. It is also hard to fill it out on the phone, so I have to make sure to get on a computer to enter this daily log. It felt too much like work, and I started to slack off again within days. 

Daily from I had to fill

After a few more weeks of feeling bad about myself, I decided to search if "there's an app for that" and found this app called "Day One". I was drawn by the nice interface and great reviews, so even though I rarely pay for apps besides games and this one is not on the cheap end, I made the leap of faith and paid for it. So far, I am very satisfied. 

Timeline view sorted by date

The things I like: 
  • Pictures: Everything looks better with pictures. Since I take pictures of Maya on my phone almost everyday, and we are dealing with hotspots, scratches, and infections, having pictures makes the journal much more complete. 
  • Tags: I can add tags for everything: food, location, activity, itch level, abnormal weather, etc. Tags make the entries much easier to search and organize. If one day, Maya's daddy decided to really write that "fancy data analysis program", we can probably still retrieve the information from the data.
  • Backup: All data gets backed up to Dropbox right after editing. Backup is always an importation feature to me, since cell phones are so easy to lose. I also like that the data is stored in XML format, so if some day the developer no longer maintains the app, the raw data is still available. It can also export the entries to a nicely formatted PDF file, which makes it easier to preserve the information as well. 
  • Mobile: And of course since it's on my phone, it's always with me and I can make notes easily whenever I want. I can also keep editing the same entry throughout the day, or even days later, if I thought of something new. 

Easy to search and organize with tags

And of course, there are still things that could be improved:
  • Each entry could only have one picture. On some days, only one picture is really not enough. I had to use other tools to combine multiple pictures into one. 
  • Each entry could only have one location. Some days we go to places. 
  • The weather entry will only get the weather data of the time of entry, not the range throughout the day. Since the temperature changes dramatically between day and night here, unless I retrieve the information from a fixed time every day, the data is not that helpful over the course of time. 
  • Can't have multiple "accounts". I would like to take some non-dog related notes myself, and would love to be able to use the same app. If some day I get another dog or even a real human baby, it would be nice to be able to keep a separate record as well.

A single entry with picture

I've been using this app for almost a month now and still not tired of it. I wish I had found it much sooner. It would be great if I had a record like this since Maya's puppy days.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ear Infection

Maya's ear infection started a few weeks ago. I treated it by some ACV and Mal-A-Ket wipes daily and it seems to have gotten better. Maybe because water went in her ears while I gave her a bath, or because I started to slack off with wiping, Last week I found her ear looking much worse and goes much deeper than I can reach. After some debate, I finally decided to take her to the vet just to make sure there's no foxtail stuck in her ear.

She was as happy as her first puppy vet visit when she stepped in, wagging her tail and whining, but poor girl got too excited and threw up while waiting. The doctor came in shortly, and after a 2 second peek in her ear, he claimed that there's nothing deep down and it's likely caused by her allergies. He also said that she could be bothered by this for the rest of her life, so we need to always keep an eye out. Great... 

He then decided to shave off some of Maya's fur around her ear and clean it with a q-tip. Maya got wiggly when the electronic shaver reached her ear and I was no longer able to hold her still. A vet tech came to help, and after the first round of holding her snout, she got a bit mouthy. They don't want to risk it, so a muzzle went on. It was kind of sad to see them put the muzzle on her, and I was really worried this would turn into THAT visit which makes her hate the vet from now on. Luckily, she was back to her happy self once the muzzle was off, especially with all the treats shoving in her mouth.

I went home with a $80 receipt and a small bottle of Panalog Ointment. Two days later, her ear seems to be back to normal. I guess if I continued with the Mal-A-Ket wipes, I would probably have the same result. Instead, Maya now has a ear that looks much bigger than the other, because the doctor shaved all the hair off around the base. Ah, the price we pay for the peace of mind.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monthly Expenses: July 2013

As I was calculating our July expenses, I started to feel the pressure of posting these numbers publicly. Comparing to the other online doggie friends who are also tracking their expenses, we have been spending a lot more every single month. Last year, it was due to Maya's medical issues, but this year, it was mostly on things that are not "necessary" for most pets, like training beyond basic obedience, a fancy toy, or grass-fed raw meat. I know there are owners who work hard to make ends meet, but still try to give their dogs a good quality of life, and I respect them wholeheartedly. I don't want to portrait ourselves luxurious, wasteful, or superior, just because we are in the stage of our lives with some to spare on spoiling our dog. I thought about stopping these posts or even alter the numbers, but decided to stay true to myself, since that was the original reason I started this blog. Why should I care what other people on the internet think of me, right? Anyways, here's what we spent in July...

July 2013
  • Food: $58
  • Supplements: $32
  • Treats & Chews: $14
  • Toys: $32
  • Training: $483
  • Misc: $7
TOTAL: $626
YTD TOTAL: $2,319


This month we stock up on two months worth of food, including, Marin Sun Farm Beef Pet Food, Ecopawz Salmon Grind, some bone dust, and some veggies. For her birthday, her daddy also got her a small piece of New York Steak.


For supplements, we got a big bottle of salmon oil and a small jar of plain yogurt.

Treats & Chews

Since we started to take training classes, Maya has been going through her treats super fast. I have been making her dehydrated beef jerky from ground beef and it's not cheap, especially when rushing out to get it last minute from a local high-end grocery store in preparation for a training class the very next day. The good news is that the Marin Sun Farm Beef Pet Food works well for making the jerky, so I'll be using that instead from now on. This should cut the cost in this category down a bit.


This is the biggest expense of the month, as we signed up for a training workshop, a 10 classes pass and a 5 sessions private gym pass. The passes haven't been used up yet, so could still last for while. I also paid for the TTouch training class in the mountains. 


It has been a long time since I purchased a toy for Maya, as she has very little interest in them and we have a box-full that rarely get touched. However, when I saw this new toy, I knew she would love it. It's like a cat teaser toy but made much bigger and sturdy for dogs. The store owner was nice and let us tried it out first. She literally went nuts! It's the first time I saw her pick a toy over a treat. So even though the price is beyond what I thought was reasonable for a toy, I still brought it home. I think it'll be great for preparing her for lure coursing as well as enforce her "drop it" command.

As for the miscellaneous expense, I got two rolls of bandage to "mummify" Maya, which I learned in the TTouch class.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


This is a post I wrote for a Taiwanese forum on over-vaccination issues.

Rabies has been a hot topic in Taiwan recently. It was found on ferrets on the island, resulting in the removal of the country form the very few Rabies-free region in the world. Panic somewhat took over, and the dogs were the ones suffering, especially since Rabies has a bad call name in Chinese, the "crazy-dog disease" (狂犬病), even though in this case, it wasn't even found on dogs. The less rational people have already started to kill stray dogs, or even abandon house pets; the more reasonable ones are desperate for a dose of vaccine. However, as a two sided sword, vaccination has known to cause lots of other illness in pets. I hope to provide some information regarding over-vaccination, while the entire country is eagerly pumping shots into their beloved pets.




疫苗其實是很毒的東西,尤其對年紀較大或免疫力較弱的狗。最近有不少崇尚自然療法的獸醫及飼主,在推行抽血檢驗 (Rabies Titer),如果動物體內有足夠的抗體則不需再施打疫苗。雖然如此的檢驗方式相較打一針,既多花時間又多花錢,目前也只有少數幾州已是合法,但對這些飼主而言,能少一針就少一針。


我一直很後悔,當初為了不想多跑獸醫 (去一次就是美金$55起跳),及早日帶Maya去狗公園,讓她短時間內打了三種不同的疫苗。我有時會想,她的過敏會不會是這樣造成的。現在的我是絕對不會這麼做,在不同疫苗之間一定會保留兩星期以上的時間。




Monday, July 29, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Maya!! Can't believe she's already three.

Tachi was here over the weekend for an early celebration. They had a great time zooming, hiking and begging for treats.

We went to Zoom Room tonight and Maya graduated from Agility 2. She'll be starting Agility 3 next week! When we got home, her daddy brought back some New York Steak for dinner. Ah, she swallowed the whole thing without even chewing. I guess that's how she enjoys a good meal.

Maya decided she doesn't need a new toy for birthday and donated to Bella instead. Wish Bella a speedy recovery!

Friday, July 26, 2013


A few weeks ago, Maya and I journeyed into the deep mountains of Santa Cruz for a semi-private TTouch class. It was recommended by K, the Jindo owner. I was hoping the class can teach me methods to calm Maya down when she's itchy, as well as help ease her up when meeting dogs on leash.

The drive over wasn't very pleasant, especially after getting lost in the woods by following my GPS. Lucky, my classmate made the same mistake and we both ended up at the same place; even luckier, I still had cell reception in the middle of nowhere. Half an hour later, Google Map led us around a whole mountain to where we should be. I felt like puking upon arrival, but somehow Maya was totally fine.

The class took place outdoors on some wild grasses. We learned a few massage techniques, how to wrap the dog up with bandages, and how to read their body languages.

Maya was never a cuddly girl, so the massage were ok. She would tolerate for a while, but would eventually run away. I was afraid I'd forget the "moves", so asked Maya's daddy to film them once I got home.

I do like the wrapping, because it's kind of like a thrundershirt that helps calm the dog down, but much better suited for the hot weather. Maya, of course hated it. The first few times I put it on, she was panting so heavily, I was worried that it's stressing her out even more. After a few days, she seems to be getting used to it, but still spends a good 5 mins pacing and panting every time it's on. I do notice that once she calms down, she does seem scratch or lick much less. 

Overall it was an interesting class at an interesting location. I went to the class without much knowledge of TTouch or what to expect. Somehow I was hoping for a little more, but not quite sure what was missing. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Scent Workshop

Maya and I attended a six-week Scent Workshop at Zoom Room Belmont since early June. It is an introductory class for K9 Nosework.

We started by putting treats in boxes and let the dogs find them and eat from the boxes. Then we added the scents we want to teach them to recognize, anise and birch, in the boxes with treats. After a few rounds of practice, the treats got removed and instead the handlers reward them by putting the treats in the boxes after they sniffed. 

They also learned how to properly alert the handlers when the scent is found. At first, we let them just open up the box and take out the treats on their own. Then we asked them to "sit" as soon as they sniffed the boxes. Eventually, they should sit next to the boxes on their own as soon as they discover the right scent. 

It took Maya a while to understand the idea of sitting since she had some bad habits of pawing at the box from a different scent game I taught her a while ago. I was very proud that she finally got it and really knew to skip the boxes that had nothing in them. 

During the last class, we removed the boxes all together and started to hide cotton swaps with the scents around the classroom. All dogs were a bit confused, but Maya did find the one attached to a key chain and sat nicely next to it. I should probably start applying some scent to my key chain and let her help me find it!

Overall, it's a great introductory class for those interested in Nosework. It's a great activity for dogs of any age or activity level. It would be great if they can offer an advanced class sometime in the future, since we feel like wanting more.