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Everything posted by mbc1963

  1. Hi, I live in Bradford - just miles down the road from you, believe it or not! I can't tell if you want someone to come to your house or not, but I definitely know the area, the good safe walking trails, etc. - Buddy's has two walks a day for two years now. PM me if you're interested. My name on here is "mbc1963." Mary
  2. Oh, but this has good science behind it! The ears are jam packed full of tiny blood vessels, which expose lots of the hot blood to the broad, thin surface area of the skin on the ears, where heat can be transferred to the air. The blood vessels dilate with heat, which lets even more blood run through them. So... they feel warmer. Conversely, in humans and dogs and most other mammals, I think, when the core of the body is at risk of hypothermia, the body will constrict the blood vessels in our hands, feet, and other blood-vessely places. That way, it can keep more of the heat in the blood and save the important core organs like the heart and brain. That's why people often lose fingers or toes or noses when they're stuck in the snow - constricted vessels, poor circulation, little heat brought to the cells. I've definitely noticed Buddy's ears feeling quite cool in the winter when I keep the thermostat set really low. I'm going to have to start testing his ears on hot days to see how well I can read his temperature! Mary
  3. Yes, that does make sense, though it doesn't explain why horses DO. I've always been relieved that dogs don't have sweat glands - imagine how bad they'd smell with smeaty underarms on TOP of rolling in poop! So I'll buy the theory that sweating wouldn't work great because of the hair (although, then, why would God give US sweat glands on our heads?)... but I still don't buy that getting them wet will make them hotter. The crazy swimming dogs I know don't swim when it's cold, but they love to swim when it's hot. Mary
  4. Hmm... I'm not a horse person, and have never heard this theory before. As a sciency person, I have to question the reasoning behind this. (I always thought, from reading "Black Beauty," that the worry with the sweat was actually in giving the horse a chill by leaving him wet after a hard workout.) I'm curious if there have been any studies done about this topic, or if it's standard horse lore that's been passed down over the centuries? Horses will get dripping wet with sweat on hot days, right? That's because the water in sweat acts to cool us. I imagine that the horse's sweat would also be hot, if it was sitting against the horse's hot body, until it evaporates. I don't understand why water from outside the horse would act as an insulator, while sweat (water) from inside the horse is nature's way of cooling it down. By this same token, wouldn't people with wet hair be at higher risk of heat stroke in the summer than people with dry hair? "It's the same principle as a diver's wet suit. The suit traps a layer of water between the skin and the suit, which your body heats and acts as insulation against the cold outside water. I think the diver's wet suit works because the water is trapped between the human and the rubber, which means it can't get away from the body. In fact, I'd say it's very much the suit that's the key, rather than the water. You could take the water out and replace it with down or styrofoam beads or layers of cotton or even air, and it would have the same effect. Meanwhile, if you covered a horse or a human with a layer of rubber on a hot day, regardless of whether there was anything between the skin and the rubber, the heat would kill them, because the sweat wouldn't be able to evaporate. I'm really not trying to be argumentative - I just really like to understand how things work, and this water-as-insulation idea doesn't make sense to me. (I drive my professors and the other students crazy when I take classes, because I really have to see the whole picture, and don't like to accept things just because someone tells me!) Is there anyone who's read any studies about this? Thanks! Mary
  5. One of the things that really helped me with my dog's aggression towards other dogs was learning to read his body language. It sounds silly and elementary for someone who'd lived with dogs her whole life, but I'd never owned an aggressive or reactive dog before Buddy, so I hadn't had to focus on the facial expressions dogs show right before they cross the threshhold into reactivity. A VERY good book that can help you tell if the dog gets the least bit anxious or aggressive is "The Other End of the Leash." LOTS of diagrams and photos to help you visualize. The clearest sign for me is Buddy's commisure: when the corners of his mouth start moving down towards his nose, I know he's about to go all snarky. My trainer said that I needed to do the praise and corrections immediately, when the first thought of doing something crossed the dog's mind. That's what helped me most with Buddy - watching every situation very carefully, and giving him the command for the right thing to do ("LEAVE IT") immediately when there was even a chance that he might react. This was really important, because he definitely seems to be able to control himself very early on, and choose not to lunge, much easier than he is able to calm himself down from a lunge or growl that's already in progress. Likewise, when he saw a stimulus he was prone to react to, but didn't react - say, he saw another dog across the street and then kept on walking, with a relaxed posture - I did the happy-voice "Good job!" LOTS of treats and rewards when the behavior and body language suggested calm instead of aggression. Likewise when Buddy began to actually listen to me at the "leave it" command. (It doesn't have to be "leave it;" it can be whatever cue you want that will signal to the dog that he should NOT jump at people.) Another thing I will suggest is to give the dog a replacement behavior. Buddy will now do a lie/stay in place of running at another dog, growling. He even puts himself in a lie/stay sometimes if a large, stranger dog approaches us and I step a bit to the side - he anticipates that I'm going to ask him to put himself down, even in some situations when I had no intention of doing that. It's a hoot to watch! I know my dog's aggressing at dogs isn't nearly as scary as your dog's nipping at humans, but it might stem from the same wiring in the brain. Good luck! It's a tricky situation, but it sounds like it's workable.
  6. My sister used to tell me this, too, but scientifically, I don't think it's true. Heat from your body actually gets transferred to the water molecules, and as the water changes phase from liquid to gas (evporating), the heat actually leaves your body with the water vapor molecules. (This is why it's very dangerous to be wet when it's cold out - you get hypothermia much faster when you're wet than when you're dry. This is also why our bodies sweat - to put a layer of water on us that will remove heat as it evaporates.) In everyday terms, think of being out on a hot day with dry clothes, vs. being out on a hot day after you've run through the sprinkler. You feel cooler when your clothes are wet, because the evaporating water pulls heat from your body. I do think it's probably true that dogs lose more heat from their bellies, where there isn't much fur. The air can circulate around down there, and pull the water vapor away from the body more quickly. Probably the best way to cool dogs would be to constantly soak their bellies. Science Teacher Mary
  7. My dog is also almost all black. He REALLY minds the heat. If I try to take him out at midday, he gets excited, but within a few minutes, he's walking very slowly. He actually RUNS through the patches of sun to get to the shady sections when we're in the woods. Poor things! The best I do is let him be inside during the hot part of the day, and take our walks early mornings and evenings. If it's really hot even then, I spray him down with the hose before we leave the house - that keeps him cool for the 25 minutes or so it takes the water to evaporate. Alas, Buddy won't swim, so I don't know what more to do for him. Mary
  8. My dog contracted Lyme disease while fully treated with Frontline. I switched to K9 Advantix, and he's been pretty much tick free. The package says to apply every 4 weeks, but I've gone 6 - 8 weeks between any sign that a tick is crawling on Buddy. (Once I find a crawler, I reapply.) I think K9 Advantix actually repels the suckers. I also think the ticks where I live (NE Massachusetts, the home base of Lyme disease!) may have become immune to Frontline. You CANNOT use K9 Advantix if you have cats! The chemicals can kill them, if they groom the dog. Mary
  9. Well, the "real" day of fireworks was much gentler than the previous day. No one within a 10 house radius was setting them off, so Buddy could only hear the more distant ones. He went under the bed and slept, but no panic attack like the night before. ::Phew!:: Mary
  10. LOL! I knew right away you were a fellow New Englander. Mary
  11. Thanks very much to everyone for your responses. These boards are really a godsend when I have a question! I agree that distracting Buddy with mental stimulation or a game is ideal... but knowing myself, it's not likely I'll be able to function when woken in the middle of the night by fireworks. Last night, I just HAD to lie back down, which is why I let the dog come into bed with me. It will be interesting to see if he tries to sneak in tonight! How quickly does a border collie learn!? Lots to think about. Thanks again! Mary
  12. I agree that a behaviorist is a good idea. I lucked out, got a good one who understood my dog's fear reactivity, and he helped take away my own uncertainty and fear. I still manage Buddy after 2 years, but to everyone on the outside, he looks pretty normal. Definitely sounds like fear and reactivity. I'm no expert, but I can say that Buddy did best with slow introductions to fearful stimuli, and lots of treating for "normal" behavior. Pushing him at things too fast was a recipe for a step backwards, so I'm extra careful with how we approach all new situations. Sometimes he surprises me and does really well, and it never hurts that I take my time with him. (In fact, my watchfulness has helped me avoid some sticky situations that the owners of "normal" dogs get in at our local park when their overly friendly or barky dogs run at a strange dog or a child.) With dog socialization, it might help to only approach dogs that your pup seems comfortable with. Maybe one puppy from your class, or some other dog you encounter on a random walk, will be your dog's first friend, and she can build her social/play skills until she's more comfortable with all dogs? One thing that did work with my dog was having him be NEAR other dogs for a while without actually interacting with them. Basic obedience, for Buddy, was spent crouched under the chair I sat in, at the back of the hall where all the other dogs were walking around. It took nearly the first six weeks for him to be in the room with dogs and not have a meltdown. We had to leave during the middle of the session several times. We were very lucky in that there's a small park nearby where lots of ladies walk their dogs. They were wonderful when I explained Buddy's situation, and were very patient with my loitering near them without actually talking to them! We did a LOT of walking behind groups of owners and dogs, so Buddy could get familiar with the scents but not have to do face-to-face introductions. One big man, a therapist who works with troubled adolescents, made a point of walking very slowly in front of us, with treats in his hand, until after MONTHS, Buddy could meet him without barking. (Now, he runs to this man like a long-lost friend. Naturally, the guy is kind of pleased!) The slow introduction seemed to work, and after time Buddy relaxed near familiar dogs we saw every day, and could sniff/meet with certain dogs without being scared, and eventually, one-on-one, he even learned to let his guard down and play. It's been two years, and the very best he's done is to actually play with a familiar group of three dogs he trusts. Introduce a strange dog, or even one extra friend, and we cross his threshold and he can't handle it. I'm not sure how this relates to your situation. My dog was an adolescent (18 months or so) when I got him, which is a very different thing from a young pup likes yours. I imagine that makes your situation more workable, because the dog is more malleable, but also maybe more time-sensitive, since you want your pup to be able to develop those normal social skills while she's still young. Anyway, I always found success stories from others who'd been where I was to be very helpful in my early days with Buddy. Good luck!
  13. I've read all the dog-training manuals that tell me NEVER to calm, pet, or reassure a dog during a time of fear, such as thunderstorm or fireworks. I understand the justification: giving the dog petting and assurance tells him that the fear reaction is what I want, and reinforces it. I've always followed this advice with Buddy - when he became reactive outside the house, I just took him away from the fearful stimulus and continued on as if nothing were happening. Last night, we had some REALLY loud fireworks out in the street outside my house. Buddy has always hid under my bed during fireworks, and hasn't seemed too upset. But last night he left the bedroom and went to cower in the corner near the back door. When I found him, he was actually shaking with fear, and let out a little cry when I went near him. He followed me into the bathroom and pushed further and further back between my legs each time he heard a noise. (Not easy to do your business in that situation!) Well, I must be a bit softie, because I couldn't stand to leave Buddy down there, shivering. I closed the windows so he couldn't hear the noise so badly, and brought him up to the bedroom. He REALLY wanted to be with me, so I let him lie in bed (which is not my thing!). He relaxed and fell asleep within minutes. When the noise stopped, he hopped right off the bed when asked, and went to his own place. It seems to me that simply being near me was a big help to Buddy's anxiety. So... how do y'all feel about giving him some comfort when he's that stressed out? I'm thinking back to my own childhood (being another type of social mammal), and thinking that human parents don't isolate a child when it's stressed and anxious: they hold the child, and the touch of skin helps to calm him. Plus, this isn't a stimulus that I can introduce from a distance and then reward for calm behavior. I'm not trying to push one opinion or the other - I really want to know what people think OUTSIDE what the books say. After all, the books from 15 years ago told us all to do alpha rolls and such, but common sense took us away from that. I'm wondering if the "don't comfort" philosophy is a current, trendy way of thinking that might fall by the wayside? On the other hand, I know that there are neurotic dogs who don't learn to cope with anything on their own because their owners pick them up and coddle them anytime they face any kind of challenge or stress. What has everyone's personal experience been? I did read the recent anxiety thread, and understand both sides of the debate, and yes, will thoughtfully consider medications if this escalates much more. Fortunately, fireworks are just about done for the year.
  14. YES! Seems that when I tell people Buddy is shy of strangers, had a tough past, etc., they all think that THEY are going to be the sole human that he loves at first sight. When I tell them that he might let them pat him under his chin, or on his chest, they invariably ignore me and try to pat him on the top of his head, as if they don't understand simple prepositions! Honestly, I would probably have acted similarly before I got Buddy and knew how hard it was on the owner and dog both. My own lack of fear of dogs would give me too much confidence in the situation, and I wouldn't have understood how a dog can take a step backward when exposed too fast. My trainer says that she's learned to yell, "My dog is just recovering from mange!" That seems to scare people away pretty fast! Mary
  15. One thing I've learned is that Buddy will destroy stuffed toys. So, when I see a yard sale full of kids' old stuffed animals, I stock up on a few. They're frequently a dime or less, and you can get enough during yard sale season to last all year. Not sure how safe the stuffing is - I assume kids aren't meant to chew them up, but they must have to meet some safety standards? Buddy tends not to swallow what he chews up, so I don't worry too much. Mary
  16. Interesting discussion! Buddy is completely treat-driven - to the point that he will completely stop his barking/growling fear reaction if I show him a piece of chicken. It's a shortcut to get him to allow strangers in the house, which is still a tough situation for him. (Since I live alone, I don't have a lot of folks coming and going constantly, and the regulars, Buddy already trusts.) For Buddy, food = trust. And I've bridged that trust with a "friend" word that he understands, too... I don't know what you'd do with a dog who wasn't food obsessed. A woman in my class, who has a REALLY reactive BC, uses a tug toy to get his attention away from distrations, and that works great for her. How would you desensitize a dog who didn't motivate with food or toy? Mary
  17. LOL! My sister was at my house once, and asked, "Does Buddy drink from the toilet?" I said, "No... I don't think so... why? Did you see him do it?" She said, "No, but he just went in there and started sniffing around at the toilet." I said, "Well, since you didn't let him come in, he just needs to see what you've been doing in there." Buddy always comes in with me in the morning. He likes to sit and get his hind end rubbed. It's special bonding time. If he happens to miss a trip, he runs in to find out what action has happened. Mary
  18. Interesting question! My dog was (is) reactive, and recently a bunch of dog ladies I've met at an informal dog park have been going with me to "real" parks with trails and woods and such. It's interesting to watch Buddy walk with "his" pack on neutral ground. He seems to accept new dogs much more readily if they greet his pack first and are accepted by the less reactive dogs around. So... from my very brief experience... I'd say walking with friendly dogs can be a big plus. Good luck. Mary
  19. Well, to be fair... maybe he's able to take criticism like a man? I was horrified and couldn't read past the chapter where Katz gave Homer away... and couldn't even START the last book about Orson. But maybe this is a kind of self-aware, bemused way of admitting that not EVERYONE thinks the guy is great? Mary
  20. EIleen says: "If you're saying NO pups should be bred until there are no unwanted rescue dogs being put down, I disagree. Not all dogs are fungible. Although there are sometimes dogs with good working potential in rescue, you can't just go to the pound to get a dog to work your stock. " Yes, I agree. I was talking about pet owners who want to breed their pet dogs to produce more pets - not working dog breeders who are breeding for stock ability. I know that there aren't many working-type dogs young or gifted enough to be trained well in the shelters. "But agility is not a "need" -- it's a fun thing to do with your dog. Add in athleticism (which many pets have), and the traits that make a dog a good pet are the same traits that make him a good agility dog. " I don't think any of the things we've bred dogs for were originally needs, until we humans defined them as such. There were no herding dogs, racers, hounds, retrievers, miniatures, etc., until someone somewhere got the radical idea to produce dogs for those purposes. I'm not sure agility is a less worthy purpose than, say, chasing rats, or fitting in a handbag. In fact, owning Buddy has sort of thrust upon me the uncomfortable opinion that somewhere in history we enslaved dogs... and we owe them a pretty big apology. Too late. I'm not pulling a "Born Free" with Buddy. He's too soft. Mind you, I'm not into agility - my knees and hips wouldn't take it and my dog is lazy - but I think it's kind of a cool sport, if the owner is dedicated to the dogs and takes good care of them. (And if the owner isn't and doesn't... well, then we're in the same place we are now with border collies and greyhounds and all the other poor breeds we've created.) I also think athleticism - especially jumpy, quick, turny agility-type athleticism - is separate from good pet temperament. My dog doesn't seem to be quite energetic or driven enough to do well in agility. If you had a border collie who WAS that way, he'd make a much better agility sire than mine would have in his intact days. So, I'd say there probably is a genetic component to being GOOD at agility. (Border collies and Jack Russells do well - I don't think Bassett hounds would probably take any medals!) If we spent a couple centuries, we could produce a new breed that had strong agility ability, just as we have produced good herders. Again, I don't particularly care to see that we do - I just wouldn't dismiss this reason for creating a breed as less rational or needful than a lot of other reasons we have created breeds. " If they are going to take a breed that had been created to be a working stockdog, and stop breeding it for that and start breeding it instead for its suitability for agility (or suitability as a pet), wouldn't it make sense to call it something else -- like Melanie's suggested "Sport Collie"? Wouldn't that make it easier for people to "buy dogs based on their genetic temperament," because it would provide a better indication of what that pup's genetic temperament would be? If dogs change when they begin being bred for something different, doesn't it make sense for their breed designation to change too? " Sure, I don't care what you call my hypothetical agility breed. Wait... on second thought... let me name it. If I'm going to foreshadow a breed, I should at least get to name it. How about... Sproingensprintzenhunds? You can call them SSH for short. Mary
  21. I'll try not to fall into the "pick posts apart and debate them word for word" trap of Internet conversation. I've been on the "bad guy" side a few times in my life, and learned diplomacy the hard way. I think one of the big problems on here is that we CAN quote people to themselves, word for word, and then dissect their meaning. It's sort of like carrying a tape recorder to a party, and playing people back to themselves time after time, to prove that they said something dumb, or wrong, or insensitive. Kind of takes the enjoyment out of conversation! But... I do have pretty strong "anti" feelings about pet dogs being bred, period. It's not about breed or preserving working ability, but about the thousands and thousands of dogs who are put to sleep every year because people buy cute puppies for their families instead of going to the pound to get a rescue. I have a most excellent dog who came to me at 18 months and is as strongly bonded to me as any dog could be. There are thousands of BCs needing rescue throughout the world. Most of these dogs will be put to sleep. And most of them came from breeders who bred to make a profit, or from owners who bred through thoughtlessness or because they thought it would be a cool thing to do. All rescue dogs were sweet puppies once, but sweet puppies (regardless of genes) become adults, and lots of them end up in shelters. So... until there are no unwanted rescue dogs being put down, I think dog owners should avoid producing more puppies. I hear that in Europe, dogs are left intact and owners simply take care that puppies are not produced. That's as good to me as having dogs fixed, if it really works... though I wonder how many litters are just put down by any means available. (I know that when I was a kid, the stereotypical unwanted litter was "taken care of" by drowning... so there weren't feral dogs roaming the streets, and shelters weren't full, but it wasn't exactly a high point in our culture!) Regarding breeding for working ability: I agree that there should always be a line of dogs available to farmers and others who need them to work their livestock. But I also think that dog breeds have been constantly changing - in both breeding and usefulness to humans - ever since we took wolf puppies into our prehistoric caves. Border collies have been around for centuries, but that's not a very long time in dog/human history. As our culture changes, our needs change, and we'll produce dogs that meet our needs. If agility and flyball are new human "needs" for dogs, it only makes sense that exceptional dogs would produce puppies with good "working ability" for flyball and agility. Again, I'm big into rescue, but breeding for agility, if people feel the need to have good agility dogs, doesn't seem any less logical than breeding for herding. If agility stays popular, in 100 years they could be talking about "Old Jumpy," the great-grandfather patriarch borderjack of the best working lines in history! One of my big concerns is our modern push to desire "purebred" dogs as family pets. First of all, closed gene pools and strange body types specific to different breeds have brought on a lot of health problems. With some interbreeding, these health problems would be much ameliorated. Secondly, many purebred dogs make lousy family pets. Border collies, for one, are frequently not a good match for small children, as we all know. Beagles are notoriously difficult to keep in a setting where they can't run loose and scent the ground for hours. My nieces' Westie, at about six, became a grouchy little nipper, with her own definite mind, just as the breed descriptions said she would. I read a book once that suggested most dogs should be bred ONLY for the "working ability" of being a family pet. The vast majority of dogs in the world now have only that job. The author's contention was that we should be breeding calm, easygoing dogs, maybe in three sizes, to meet the modern needs for the species. I do think we'd have a lot fewer dogs ending up in shelters if people were buying dogs based on their genetic temperament rather than how much they look like the breed ideal. We'd lose particular "looks," but the looks we fancy only exist because we humans jump in and tinker with things. My dog wouldn't be a good candidate for breeding, because he's spooky and reactive. But my neighbor's Jack Russell/beagle mix (talk about bouncy!) would be a great candidate for "active family" breeding - she literally lets children sit on her, tug her ears, and bowl her over - and smilingly comes back for more! I love my border collie - but I loved equally the mutt we had when I was a kid. And every other family on the block loved their own mutt just as much. Dogs were just dogs.
  22. Hmm... My sister's got an Eskie and always has to trim her butt hair to avoid icky sticky situations. Buddy has a fuzzy butt, but I haven't had to do that once. It's been two years, and we've had no unsightly messes on his fur. Could this be a male/female thing? I've wondered (and felt lucky!) about not having to worry! Mary
  23. Well, I'm a science teacher and live by logic, and I'm also a woman and might be siding with my own gender, but I think the "let 'em meet" way is the best one. My dog LOVES one dog in twenty or so. You can see cartoon hearts bubbling up out of him when he meets these special dogs. If I could find one of those guys (yes, I'm 99% sure my dog is gay) at the pound, I'd be much more comfortable about bringing HIM home than I would feel bringing home some random stranger based on breed specifics. Sniff sniff, lick lick is the dog equivalent of meeting over coffee to see if a "real" date is worth the effort. Mary
  24. I think he would throw me under the bus. Buddy is scared of bikes. He controls it well now, and I have him do a down/stay off the path if I see one coming. But if he gets surprised, he still freaks out. Last fall, I was walking him in the woods, down a big hill. I turned around to see if anyone was coming up behind us, and realized there was a biker barreling down the hill. Buddy turned when I turned, saw the bike, and took off at his fastest run, plowing right into me and knocking me over. The biker stopped and was all concerned with my safety, but all that was left of Buddy was a blur and a cloud of dust running the other way. Some protector! To be fair, he did come back and stand and bark at the biker after he realized I wasn't with him. Another time, my sister, sister-in-law, and our dogs were in the woods. The other two women and dogs came upon a yellow jacket's nest, and ran screaming away. Buddy and I were far enough that the bees weren't a threat, so I stayed put. Buddy was looking at me like I was CRAZY - like, "Those ladies are RUNNING AWAY! And you want me to STAND HERE!?" On the other hand, Buddy's growl sounds like one coming from a German Shepherd, and he growls when he's scared... which is enough to scare off any potential attacker, even if I'm not sure Buddy would stick around to protect me when the rubber hit the road. Mary
  25. Ummm... Maybe Chihuahua and... um... GIGANTIC flat-coat retriever? Or Great Pyrenees? I watched that video and it seems ridiculous - they say two long-haired breeds producing a dog with a coat like a boxer. And three large breeds producing a small breed? Mary
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