Downtown Eureka with Zeus

I haven’t given a pup-date in a while, so I thought I would do so and give you a little insight into my life with our pup.  Zeus, our German Shepherd,  is now one year and a few months old.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned his reactivity – if I haven’t, it’s partly because of the shame/embarrassment (or whatever you want to call it) that I’ve felt around it.  I’ve come to realize, through a lot of reading and studying on the issue, that owners of reactive dogs tend to feel this way.  Let’s face it, it is embarrassing (to say the least) when your dog is lunging, barking and looking incredibly menacing as another dog walks by, or sometimes just a person.

You think about the judgements that people might be making about you and your dog, like “why would you have such a dog?” ” can’t you contol your own dog” “what a monster”.  It can be very self-deflating and make me want to hide away.  But that is no good for me, and especially bad for Zues.  It’s made me a braver person because I have to go into situations that might be scary and cause Zeus to react.   But, my goal is that Zues’s fun sweet nature is what people come to see in him, rather than his fire, so we’ve been working really hard and often.

We work at parks, in the neighborhood, outside of busy grocery stores, schools,  downtown, etc.  His explosions are getting less and less, though they do happen, and sometimes it still gets me down.  But I keep up the work anyway.   After all of my experience with his outbursts, I now find it easier to see them as behavior that needs some work, rather than the behavior defining who he is forever.  I’ve also gotten better and just focusing on him rather than the people around me – it’s me and him in a sort of training bubble moving along with people passing by outside.

This morning was beautiful here so we went to Old Town Eureka to walk the boardwalk and sidewalks.  Our town is very pretty and my appreciation grows the more time I spend downtown.  There are beautiful old buildings and lots of activity as business owners and fishermen bustle to get things ready for the day.  It was sunny and cool with no wind, so the glassy water was reflecting the boats docked at Woodly Island Marina, across from the boardwalk.

As we walked, I had Zeus working on his heeling, sitting, recalls, leave-it (when he wants to chase birds, sniff things, looks too long at something), look (where he turns to look into my eyes regardless of what’s around or walking by), place (where I point to someplace like a picnic table or ledge and he gets on it and stays until he’s released).

The photo above is him practicing “place” on the bow end of a boat sculpture on the boardwalk, and across the water is the Woodly Island Marina.  Then he practiced “place” on the wall of a high cement planter on the boardwalk.   I’m just so darn proud of him for how hard he tries and for his successes.  It took him a couple days to get “place” down, but now he just gets on whatever I tell him to.  That’s not to say he’d be calm and stay there if a dog walked by, but that a the goal we are working toward.  Zeus deserves good belly rub and extra cookie for his solid work this morning 🙂

Have a great day,

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Pupdate – Zeus 4 1/2 Months

Zeus-Sequoia-Park

Zeus, our German Shepherd puppy, is now 4 and a half months old and in two puppy classes.  He needs a lot of socialization around other dogs.  So besides the puppy classes, I get him out a couple times a day where he can see dogs.  Our favorite place is Sequoia Park, where they filmed a portion of the upcoming movie “A Wrinkle in Time”.  I’m excited to see how they used the park in the movie.  Anyway, we walk and jog under the giant trees, though today and yesterday we had a jump a couple smaller ones blown down in a wind storm.  We always run into dogs and people taking their morning stroll.  Great way to start the day.

 

 

Shepherds Grove without a Shepherd

File Dec 05, 2 40 20 PM

Dante and his favorite hedgehog toy. Photo by Adri

I haven’t written this post until now because I found it too difficult to write at the time.  At the beginning of November I sent out my newsletter and, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, gave thanks for Dante still being with us after 13 years and 2 months.  I didn’t know at the time that I would be saying goodbye to him 2 weeks later.

Dante was very stoic, never complained even though he was stiff.  He would get up, shake it off and go for a walk, or come out to the studio with me.  He was always eager to just be a part of whatever we were doing.  We gave him medication to help with joint pain and he had a good quality of life but, bit by bit, his dignity was being robbed from him.

The weekend before Dante was put down, he fell and skinned his chin (because his back legs couldn’t support him), he had an accident in the house (this had been happening intermittently for the last 6-8 months), and when I gave him a bath, he couldn’t stand for more than 2-3 seconds.  As he sat there slumped and lathered in shampoo, he had a look on his face like he’d had it.  It was in that brief moment (and after months of deteriorating stability) that I felt the time had come, and I looked at my husband and said the words out loud.  It was excruciating to admit, and wasn’t the first time we’ve gone through this.  Things happened very similarly with our first Shepherd, Boomer.  It’s a horrible decision to have to make, and yet I know it’s the biggest act of mercy a pet owner can bestow.

Dante left us on November 15.  The vet came to our home with his wife and Dante was surrounded by my husband, three kids and myself.  I placed my head on his side and treasured every last heartbeat and breath, silently chanting “I love you”.  And then, he was gone.  It was horribly sad and yet such a beautiful thing to be there all together in his last moment.

We’re all ok.  Not to say there haven’t been rivers of tears cried – that’s all part of the process of letting go.   I know he’s in a good place and in excellent company, and I will be happy to see him again, when it’s time…a long, long time from now.  I sure miss that old gentle friend and will always be thankful for the years we had together, and his unconditional love.

It helps to think that Dante and Boomer are sending me emotional support from afar.  I asked both of them to scout out our next dog for us.  I have no doubt they will find the perfect friend, just as Boomer did with Dante.  Things are already happening in that direction and I’ll post when I know for sure.  For now, I’d like to share a poem that my dear customer Terri sent me.  You may have heard it, but I hadn’t, and it really speaks to the doubt and conflict a pet owner faces when they have to make a the hardest decision.

DogPoem

Hug your dogs for me,

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Dante the Dizzy Dog

Dante the German Shepherd

Dante – October 18, 2017

The title of this post might be more amusing than the circumstances that led to writing of this post.  You may know from my blog, Facebook, or Instagram that my German Shepherd just turned 13 at the end of August.  This was quite a momentous occasion for me because our last German Shepherd, Boomer, didn’t quite make it to his 10th birthday before degenerative myelopathy made his life miserable and we had to put him down.  Dante is now a very slow walker and naps frequently but still seems content to be with us.  I’m definitely in the icing-on-the-cake phase with him.

I recently went for a two week trip with my mother to Portugal.  It was hard leaving Dante but the rest of my family was here, and my dad flew up from San Diego just to be there for his grand-dog, who he loves.  I was gone a week when I got a text from my husband to call him.  When I did, I got the news that Dante couldn’t get up.  He was able to get up and walk Sunday morning but by early Sunday afternoon, he couldn’t. By the time I called my husband around 1pm Monday, it had been 24 hours since he’d gotten up.  It appeared he had a stroke because of the way he was acting (heavy breathing, and glancing strangely at everything, head tilted) and the fact he couldn’t get up.  This was huge shock to me because I had texted on Sunday morning (California time) and all was well.  Now, all was not well.  None of us wanted Dante to suffer, so the horrible decision was made to have a vet friend come at 5 pm that evening (1am in Portugal) to put him down.

You can only imagine how I felt being so far away from my best boy.  I just couldn’t believe it. I had planned to be there for him in the end, just like I was for Boomer.  Luckily my 14 year old daughter was home from school that day and I was able to face-time all afternoon and into the evening and be a part of what was happening there, even if Dante may not have known it.

My dad was able to get Dante outside during the afternoon by holding up Dante’s back end.  It was a beautiful sunny day and Dante rested on the grass smelling the breeze and taking in all the love from my three kids, dad, and husband.  It was very teary, sweet, strange, and horrible.   At one point Dante actually got up, and I wondered what that was all about.  Then, at 5 pm, the vet arrived and we all felt sick.  Upon seeing strangers walk into the yard, Dante got up to check them out.  Almost immediately the vet said, “this looks like vestibular disease“.  “V” what?  He explained it was a condition affecting balance, like vertigo, the effects of which would lessen over the coming days.  We were all so shocked.  Here we were prepared to say goodbye to him and now it seemed we didn’t have to.  It honestly took me an hour to process this.  I went to bed at 2am feeling a whole lot better.  The rest of my trip was a mixed bag because I was in beautiful Portugal with my mother and all I wanted to do was go home.

You’ll be happy to know that 2 weeks after his episode, Dante is walking like he was before – slowly, but still walking.  I know our time together has to come to an end eventually, and I wait for that sign from him that he’s ready to go.  But for now, I am treasuring his lovely presence and his big brown eyes.  And he’s back out in the studio helping me make my dog breed pottery – by which I mean that he’s supervising my progress from his studio bed….in between naps.

Since Dante’s episode with vestibular disease, I’ve learned of two people I know well who’s pets have had this same condition, and one them had it around the same time as Dante.  So it must not be that uncommon but it was sure a new one on me.

Wishing you and your pets much health and love.

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day From Shepherds Grove!!

 

Dante-Shamrock

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day from Shepherds Grove Studio.  Dante, my older and distinguished German Shepherd, took time out of his busy schedule to “pose” for a picture and attack an innocent shamrock,  in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day.  Hope yours is just as jolly!

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Popular Dog Breeds – New From Shepherds Grove Studio!

Dog breed wine stoppers from shepherds-grove.com

New Dog Breed Designs for Fall 2014.

With the Holidays just around the bend, I have found myself busy (and thankfully so) filling orders from my website and Etsy shop.  But I have also taken some time to add several new dog breed designs, and color variations of existing dogs, to my line-up.  And so far, they’ve been enthusiastically received.  The new dogs that I have added are:

  • Shih Tzu with puppy cut – white with grey
  • Yorkshire Terrier with puppy cut;
  • Pomeranian – red, black
  • Papillon – red and white, black and white;
  • Pug – black, fawn
  • French Bulldog – fawn with mask and solid fawn
  • Siberian Husky
  • Dachshund – red smooth
  • Boston Terrier – black and white
  • Australian Shepherd – tricolor
  • German Shepherd – black
  • Doberman Pinsher – red and rust
  • Greyhound – black color
  • Mastiff – fawn color
  • Great Dane – fawn, harlequin
  • Poodle with show cut – black, white
  • Shetland Sheepdog – sable
  • Pit Bull – brown and white

The above dog breeds are available on wine stoppers and mugs, though I have a little work to do to get all of my items listed on my website. Currently all dog wine stoppers are listed and most of the dog breed mugs.  I will be making mugs with my new dog breeds and color variations in the next week and so will have all of the above listed breeds and colors photographed and listed very soon.  If  you are looking for one of the above listed breeds/colors but don’t see on my website, contact me and I’ll be happy to help you out.

 

 

 

Dog Itch Treatment #2

German Shepherd harnessed for his bath

Dante harnessed for his bath


It’s misty and gray here in Eureka so no surprise that Dante (my German Shepherd) was soaked and coated with dirt on his undercarriage when we returned home from our walk. Time for the second bath in my experiment and, as you can see by the picture above, he was thrilled. Mind you, I am currently not using a shampoo with the ingredient recommended by Dr. Valerie A. Fadok, which is chlorhexidine. Her top picks were: Duoxo (biggest thumbs up), Zymox (over-the-counter) and Vetericyn Spray. I am using Epi-soothe, a shampoo recommended by my vet and one that is safe to use everyday. I will use it until my shipment of Duoxo arrives. He’s definitely less itchy over the last two days and his wounds on his back leg are healing and pinkness is returning to his belly skin.

I suds him up and wait 10 minutes, during which time he can ponder how he ended up in this family that keeps washing him.

German Shepherd getting a bath

Why is this happening to me?

After his 10 minute meditation, I rinse him thoroughly and towel dry…as much as I can when he keeps shaking the towel off and knocking my knees out from under me. The smell of wet dog permeates my house.

A couple things to keep in mind if you try this and have a big dog: You will get wet and you may use up all your dog towels. I will go in search of a cheap waterproof coverall and wear rubber boots so I do not end up as wet an hairy as my dog. Also, I will need to stay on top of my laundry.