Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It's the holidays and Niko's doing a great job spreading cheer.  We had many guests yesterday and Niko was in charge of shoes and coats. Just kidding. He guarded the door and made sure each person was greeted, sniffed, and if they are lucky, licked. I didn't hear him bark once and he was very friendly with the little ones.  Surprisingly, Niko kept his Santa hat on for a very long time. It was a nice Santa kerchief made for dogs. I think he was too overwhelmed to notice it was even on.

Niko's made a nice resting area under the tree. As you can see, the  'n' ornament is for Niko and the bottom part of the tree is bare to keep it shiba safe.
In this pic, you can see Niko's beautiful wood carving skills on the table leg too.

Niko got a rubber football wrapped like a piece of candy. The Santa hat looks more like a superman cape here.

We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday! Ruff!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Holidog

Rewarding Good Behaviors did a holiday special on their website and Niko is featured:

Niko was neutered a few days ago. We dropped him off in the morning and picked him up after work.  When we arrived, he was zonked out in the kennel. After we completed the paperwork and turned around, he was awake with his tail wagging at the gate. It was a heartwarming reunion and we gave him lots of hugs and kisses.

Niko is recovering very nicely. Since he is a smaller dog (22 lbs), his stitches were smaller.  He was sluggish that first night but bounced right back the next day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snow Day

The verdict is in, Niko loves snow.  We had a good snowstorm that covered the yard.  When I took him outside for the first time, he stayed on the pavement and sniffed the snow out to test the "waters."  I walked on the snow and tugged on him a little. He took the leap and hopped around the yard. He buried his face in the snow and acted very silly. His motions resembled a bunny hopping around.

Leaving shiba tracks

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Welcome Home

I went out of town for an extended weekend and sure enough, Niko was on my mind often.  I thought of him every time i saw a four legged creature.  When I returned, I let Niko out of his crate. He danced around me, hopping and darting back and forth playfully. He let me pet him and hug him a little bit. What's interesting is that Niko took a few minutes to sniff me.  It was as though he was making sure (extra sure) it was really me. I thought it was funny.

Niko gave me  a welcome present. Within 30 minutes, I heard him make a gagging sound. He threw up! I put him back in the crate so he wouldn't tamper with the evidence. Sure enough as I was cleaning up mess #1, he threw up again in the crate.  Maybe it was his way of saying "don't ever leave me again!"

I will spare Niko's readers from any vomit pictures :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ham Bone

This weekend, I made a baked ham. Since Niko patiently waited by my feet as I made dinner, I rewarded him with the leftover ham bone after it cooled off. He did a nice job polishing it off.

Niko is turning 6 months old this week! We reached another milestone this weekend. He now jumps on the couch when he wants to play with me.  He's never done that before. It's funny because whenever I was reading a book or the newspaper and "ignoring" him, he would nip at my reading material to get my attention.  I gladly succumbed and threw his toy for him to fetch.  He doesn't stay on the couch for more than 2 minutes. I can't wait for Niko to feel comfortable enough to linger on the couch with me.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Doggie Entertainment

Niko's level of energy doesn't quite always match ours.  Nor does he have the same preference of entertainment as us human adults have. Niko likes to play tag, fetch toys, do tricks, and run wild.  For some reason, he especially likes to do those things when we're trying to watch TV.
When this happens, I sit on the floor and play fetch and tug of war. 

We did find a new-+ form of entertainment for Niko, his idea of TV, actually.  It's a view of the neighborhood, right at the tips of his paws. For days, I was thinking I need to get some kind of platform high enough so that Niko can look out the window.  Serendipitously, someone had discarded a small arm chair and I happened to see it. It was the perfect size and in great condition. I almost think it was a children's chair. Now it is Niko's!

Initially, he needed some persuasion to get on it, but once he's on, he loves looking out the window. I leave some toys on it and now he jumps on his chair whenever he wants. This morning, moments after letting him out of the crate, I found him watching his version of the saturday morning cartoons. The birds flying by, cars, squirrels, leaves dancing in the wind, walkers, and dogs all fascinate him. Good thing is, he doesn't bark at them.

The next step is probably getting him night vision goggles so he can watch his primetime tv shows =)


 Niko's new bed (2nd one)

The lil pumpkin

Hiking adventure

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall Drive & Apples

It's Niko's first fall season. With his thick fur, I believe he will enjoy the colder months.  We took a nice drive and saw some beautiful fall foliage. Niko helped pick apples, or rather, chew and chase apples...

Not trusting the GPS very much, Niko helped navigate our route....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Musical Ears

Niko hasn't shown interest in what's on the TV visually, but I noticed he is sensitive to certain noises. He will turn his head and both his ears would perk sideways when a dramatic soundtrack is on (like when a single violin is playing).  Last night I was watching a old school musical called "High Society" and Niko stopped whatever mischielf he was up to and directed his attention to the TV. He sat for the entire number watching and listening to the band (led by Louis Armstrong). It was the cutest thing ever. his ears would move sidways (almost 90 degrees) whenever Louis had a solo on the trombone. Niko tilts his head also like he's bobbing to the beat.  So, I discovered Niko likes the trombone and Louis Armstrong.

I didn't have a chance to capture it on video but this is what he looks like when he hears something and directs his focus to it:

As cool as it is that Niko shows he can discern musical sounds from other noises, I have to say he also has selective hearing. There are stubborn moments when I know he hears me but he just won't listen to my command. Here's a site I found about good and bad traits of Shiba Inus.
http://www.shibashake.com/shiba-inu/ss_shiba-inu-personality-good-bad-traits.html I agree with most of the good traits. Niko is still young to display all the bad traits. I have heard from several sources that Shibas can sing. I can't wait for that to happen!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Life is a Beach

We just returned from a one week trip with Niko to Myrtle Beach.  We were initially apprehensive of the long drive and whether Niko would disturb other condo dwellers.  Thankfully, he passed both tests with flying colors.

It was before sunrise when we departed home.  Niko, being the smart dog that he is, sensed something was going on.  Early as it was, he sat quietly in the living room watching us  bring things outside to the car. The drive was 13 hours long and Niko behaved so well. Not a bark or whimper. We took potty breaks every 3-4 hours. He slept a lot. I was very impressed with how accommodating rest areas are with poop bags. (I never had a dog before so I never took notice)

Niko was well received by everyone at the condo. We brought his crate to sleep in, along with some of his toys so he wouldn't be homesick.  There was plenty of love and attention to go around for Niko. We all gladly took turns taking him for walks on the beach.  By the 2nd day, he was able to lead me to the path to get to the beach. 

From prior experiences, Niko hates water the most. He screams during baths and ran away when we introduced him to the lake over a month ago. Knowing this, we slowly introduced him to the beach. The first night, we took him for a walk and he experienced the new texture of sand. He liked walking in the sand very much and he heard the waves. The next day, we brought him to see the beach in daylight.  He didn't like the water at all. He ran the other direction, pulling us with him. As the week progressed, his fear of the water did go away a little. The fact that waves recede back into the ocean probably helps. He learned that although the water came to him, it also washes back into the ocean immediately. We took him on many walks and on the last day, i noticed that he actually went towards the water when it was washing away- like he was chasing it away. I'm glad to see him battle his fear in his own brave little way.

Niko found an opportunity at the beach even though he doesn't enjoy swimming - digging in the sand! He was a rambunctious little one, pacing around my chair, sniffing, and digging. He dug so earnestly it was entertaining to watch. He had no issue with getting sand all over his muzzle. He made hacking noises every so often to cough sand out, but that wasn't going to stop his mission to dig a hole all the way to china... Here is a picture of him resting next to his hole. There were times when he dug a hole just to rest his head in. Probably to shield himself from the hot sun? It amazes me how smart this dog is.

Here he is sitting back with me as we watched Ed fish.  

When he dug, he found a treasure- a clam shell...

Myrtle Beach was a good learning and fun experience for Niko. He was exposed to more people in smaller living quarters, the beach, and the southern accent (which i enjoy hearing too). Everyone was very nice to Niko. I must say that we met more people who knew that he is a Shiba Inu. I don't know if it's because he's growing and looking more like one or if people down south are more learned on the breed. 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Changing Before My Eyes & Bubble Wrap

I had to go away for the weekend and was apart from Niko.  Before this, we have only been apart for one day at a time.  I missed the lil guy a whole lot! My better half took care of Niko while I was gone. I was told Niko had a nice weekend nonetheless.  He went for a car ride both days. The first day was to go fishing. Niko stayed in a crate in the car (it was a cool summer day) while the guys went fishing. However, Niko did get to hike a little and stretch his paws.  The next day, he went on another drive and got to run around off the leash on a big piece of land in the country.  He played wonderfully with Sandy the yellow lab.  I heard that Niko was a little shy about performing his new tricks in front of others.  We will have to work on his stage fright =)
That is the report I got of Niko while I was gone.

Today, I reunited with Niko after 3 days of being apart. I couldn't believe the slight changes I noticed.  His fur is darker, becoming more of that red sesame color.   He was also faster when he was active.  I don't know if it's me or if he's just changing that fast.  It's amazing how quick he is. Once his attention is on something you're holding, he will follow it very attentively and quickly.  He darts around like a hyper little puppy. It's fun to watch him, but tiring if you just want him to be calm and cuddly.

I found some bubble wrap and remembered a lesson we learned in class.  The purpose is to socialize the dog to unfamiliar surfaces. I put the bubble wrap on the floor and was ready with my clicker and treats(a meatball). Niko went towards it and sniffed the bubble wrap at first. I clicked and treat. Soon, he put one paw, then two paws, then  eventually  he started popping the bubbles by accident with his nails. It was so fun and cute. There were times he popped the bubbles with his own weight.  I was happy to see that he didn't get intimidated by the popping noises.  Niko has a delicate way of touching things with his paws. It's almost like he's dancing and tip toeing. 
Now that I'm a dog owner, I find myself gravitating towards articles in the dog topic.  I'm intrigued by what people have documented about dogs. An article I read today:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

It was time for Niko's 2nd camping trip. This time to a place farther away - The Thousand Islands (a 3 hr drive). It was a beautiful weekend with lots of sunshine.  Our campsite was right by the shore and full of shade and rocks for Niko to rest and climb.  He found a spot on a rock that had a great vantage point. He was able to watch us, watch our neighboring campers, and also watch boats in the water and birds in the sky.

Some things Niko did that were new this time:
1) Spent a few minutes in the kayak in the water (he did a nice balancing act)
2) Went on a boat (short cruise to Boldt Island) 

3) Wake up to a beautiful sunrise on waterfront (he would peek out of the tent to observe activity out in the water)

4) Went on castle grounds on Boldt Island. Perhaps he was in search of his princess?

Niko once again received a ton of attention from strangers.  When we toured the island, we overheard comments on how cute he is.  Many came up to us and asked to pet him.  Niko wagged his tail every time he met someone who was interested.  We met a few people who know about the Shiba Inu breed and even met a couple who owns a 1.5 yr old Shiba. They even showed us pictures of their Shiba and told us about him. 
One lady asked if Niko was part fox.  One family took pictures of Niko with their kids, who were enamored with him.  We felt like we were escorting a celebrity.

I noticed how attentive Niko is to other creatures.  I saw him follow and pounce on ants several times.  He followed the crayfish bait that was at the end of my fishing pole.  He also loved watching birds fly in the sky.  He would first notice a bird's sound and his eyes would go to where his ears tell him to. After that, his head moves from left to right as the bird flies around, it's adorable. Added to his list of hobbies is now birdwatching.  

Unfortunately, there was no grass on the site for Niko to rest on like last time.  He got very dirty quick from rolling in the dirt. Once we got home, we had to give him a bath.  He is becoming stronger and more resistant to baths.  It is a very challenging and ear piercing experience to us humans!  He hates baths - 

Friday, September 4, 2009

14 weeks old

Niko is now 14 weeks old and boy has he come a long way. When we got him at 8 weeks, he was a timid, shy, slow moving puppy.  He is now more sociable, brave, playful, and energetic.  We introduced Niko to many new people, dogs, objects, and places in the last several weeks.  We can see what a world of difference that makes.  Puppy class where we use clicker training is a ton of help too.  At the first week of class when Niko was 10 weeks old, he was very distracted and shy.  He went and hid behind me when the other dogs who are bigger had playtime.  Now, Niko is not afraid of dogs three times his size. He loves to play tag and wrestle with other dogs.

At the first vet visit, Niko weighed 7.5lbs.  He is now 11.5lbs. This is a picture of him devouring his yogurt!
He has learned many tricks. He knows sit, down, shake, and pawing a target.  The newest trick is up.  We discovered it by accident.  He raises his front paws in the air and jumps a little when we hold the target up:
From the beginning, we learned that the shiba inu breed can be unsocial if we don't acclimate him to others.  That is why we try to socialize Niko as much as we can.  We are happy with his progress so far.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Gone camping - August 13, 2009

We decided to take Niko camping for the first time at 11 weeks old.  We were quite confident he would be a good camping dog, given that he's been sleeping through the night and has remained quiet until we let him out of the crate.  Prior to this trip, we had some fear issues with his harness. He would run away and screech when we try to put the harness on him.  We bought the Easy Walker harness after consulting with our puppy class teacher and with a few sessions of clicker training, Niko allows us to put the harness on him no problem.

We packed the car up with Niko's crate and bed, because we were not sure whether we would let him sleep in the tent.  The car ride was probably the longest for Niko to date.  He is a curious and happy puppy on car rides. He loves to look out the window and when he's in the passenger seat with me, he lifts his front paws up to the door and stands upright to look out. He did wonderfully on the ride. He even found a passage to his bed in the backseat and took a nap! 

We stayed at Keuka Lake State Park for two nights and Niko received lots of attention from other campers. Kids, adults, and dogs loved meeting him.  Niko chased fireflies at night and enjoyed chewing on the firewood .  He was very good at not getting too close to the fire. He LOVED rolling around in the grass, digging, and sniffing around.

We took Niko with us down to the lake to go fishing and snorkeling.  Unfortunately, he did not enjoy being in water. We tried easing him into it, but he squealed, scratched and tried to jump out of our arms. He pretty much ran into the brush area and played and hid in the trees while we enjoyed the lake.

On the first night, we kept Niko in the crate right outside the tent.  On the second night, he slept in his bed by my side in the tent.  He was so good and it was comforting to have him by my side.  This is a picture of him waking up that morning: 

Niko had another great first experience under his belt. He is a natural camper! When we were packing up to go home, he enjoyed his last moments by the bench- 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Beginning

We found an ad in the paper for Shiba puppies in July 2009.  We took a 90 minute drive to meet the puppies.  There were 4 puppies in total - 1 girl (sesame), 3 boys (1 all white, 1 sesame, and 1 black and tan).  The black and tan male was the most playful and biggest in size.  We thought he was a little too wild and may be hard to train. So, we chose the male sesame for being cuddly and calm.

On the ride home, we decided to name our new addition to the family, Niko.  We put him in a big box with holes and towels.  When we looked back, he had his nose poking out of a hole.
It was adorable. We could hear him sniffing and he finally settled down and laid on his side with his legs stretched out like a deer on the road  : )
This is a picture of him coming into his new home that first night:

Niko was 8 weeks old when we brought him home.  He hasn't had a potty accident since the first night and is now crate trained.  We can tell when he needs to go outside and we always take him out when he needs to go.  For the first few nights we left him in the crate, he howled and whined several times a night.  We did our best to ignore it.  On the fourth night, we got him a heartbeat pillow(to mimic his mom's heart) and also covered his crate with a big towel.  After that night, he remains quiet all night.  In the morning we can hear him move around in the crate, but he never cries anymore.  He has learned to love his crate because we leave treats and toys in there. He even goes in it all by himself!