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.