Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Dream of Niko

The other night I had a peculiar dream.  We were on vacation in a dry, arid place like Santa Fe. Niko was off the leash and we were walking down a street with adobe buildings. I lost sight of him for a bit. I rounded a corner and came upon a dozen or so Shiba Inus all looking up at me. In the dream, I had a dilemma of identifying which Shiba was Niko. They all looked very similar. I don't recall the rest of the dream, but I hope if I ever lose Niko in a crowd of Shiba Inus, that I'd be able to sniff him out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Adirondacks (trust restored)

We were invited to The Adirondacks this past weekend and had some unique lodging.  It was a reconstructed silo turned cabin.  The cabin faced a decent sized lake and Niko got to hang out with our friend Ryan's dog, Cabela, a 2 year old black lab. They met half a year ago when Niko was smaller. They had a fabulous time together. Cabela is the best behaved dog I've come across.  Ryan takes her duck hunting and Cabela knows how to fetch the game. I witnessed her carry a piece of firewood from the back of the cabin to the fire pit  in front. She is a great influence on Niko.  Niko's training is lacking when compared to Cabela, but Cabela's discipline was motivation for me to do more training with Niko this summer.

This trip was also a milestone for Niko. For months now, after a few runaway incidents, we haven't let Niko off the leash outside any kind of barrier.  The Shiba Inu breed is known to be independent and the wandering type.  The property was on a private lake in the woods, with very little traffic. We were on a dead end road next to a neighboring cottage.  With Cabela's influence, we let Niko roam free during daylight.  The first several times he went off, we held our breaths. I learned not to chase after him because that would make him run even more.  After discovering the neighbor's property up the hill, he'd jog back down to see us. We even took 2 hikes with him off leash. There were several unnerving times when he'd go down a path we didn't plan on taking.  We would slow down and continue on our way without Niko. Eventually, we would hear the jingling tags on his collar and he'd come trotting back to join us.  The sound of him in the distance was a great relief each time.  Our trust in Niko has been restored (for now).
The bugs were out especially on our hikes. Niko would walk ahead of us and out of nowhere, plops down and snaps his jaw to kill the flies that were buzzing around him.

Niko once again had an excellent time in the outdoors. He was active from morning till night and at times even tired out Cabela, who is twice his size and full of energy herself.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Niko Greets Joe Anonymous

joesroadtrip.com came to town this week and Niko was eager to meet my good friend Joe, who is a fellow blogger on my "blogosphere".  

Joe is 3 weeks into his adventure and his blog has quite a following. Tune in every so often to see where he's going to pop up and read about his 3 month long journey.

A video of Niko is featured on his latest blogpost:

Joe - Thanks for the Niko exposure. He may become viral on the internet thanks to you!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Fox in the Woods

We went camping this weekend for the first time this year. The last time we went, Niko was still very young.  On this trip, Niko enjoyed the hike around the 1 acre lake, but did not like the lake itself at all. He is still not a water dog.  Ed took Niko out on his kayak and we thought he would stay inside it to avoid jumping into the water.  Not far from shore, Niko couldn't take it anymore and jumped out of the kayak. He went under water for a second and emerged out of the lake and quickly doggy paddled to where I was standing on the shore.  It was quite a funny thing to watch. It's interesting how most dogs instinctively know how to swim.

To our disappointment, Niko's learned to bark more and more lately. Granted, he only barks when he feels there is real danger. Unlike home, camping means we don't have four walls and a door protecting us.  At night, we sat around a campfire. Niko barked at people walking by on the main road and people going through the woods to get to the lake.  He even barked at a pair of ducks who decided to come close to our site.  Fortunately, he slept peacefully in the tent.  So peacefully that he did not hear whatever came by and ate half the bread we left in a soft cooler. Those sneaky chipmunks, raccoons, and/or ducks??? 
A natural bed made of leaves. Quite cushy for Niko

Note: To the grammarians out there, I originally wrote "doggy pedaled." I had never written that phrase and had my doubts. I learned (from the web) that it is actually "doggy paddle" to my surprise. To me, it should really be "pedal" because you use your feet to pedal. Yes, "pedalboat" makes more sense to me than "paddleboat."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hey You, Squirrels!

One of Niko's favorite pastimes is to sit in his chair by the front window.  We recently put a bird feeder that you stake into the ground right in front of the window with the intent to attract pretty birds for Niko to watch.  A bird lands on it....once in a while. Lo and behold, some very opportunistic squirrels have discovered the feeder.  
Niko's quick senses noticed the rodents right away and jumped onto his chair to watch. One squirrel even learned to balance on a bush to get to his meal.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Country Dog Meets Big City

The road trip Niko and I took was to Brooklyn, NY.  Although he stayed at a kennel for a night in Queens a few weeks prior to this, he didn't really have a chance to explore the city.  So this was Niko's first real experience in a big city.  I was a bit apprehensive going on this trip with Niko. Mainly because he is used to living in a rural area where there are lots of greenery and it is less populated.  With his history of running off and independent nature, I was extra cautious in making sure he was leashed up properly with his harness and there was no way he can get loose.

The stay in Brooklyn was an eye opener for Niko. It overwhelmed him and he was a different dog.  He was very shy around new people and cautious on our walks.  The poor thing didn't know how to go to the bathroom on pavement! I took every opportunity I had to take him on walks.  The closest patch of grass (about a square foot) was 2 long blocks away. As soon as we get to grass, he did his business. It's funny to see how programmed his mind is.

The first night when I took him out for a walk, I envisioned what it was like to be Niko or someone being in NYC for the first time. I experienced it with him and noted all the stimulus he is not used to. Typically, at 9pm back home, we see stars, an occasional car driving by, and we hear the sound crickets. In Brooklyn, even though it was 9pm, there were people walking about, buses humming along, cars whizzing by, kids up to know good at the street corner, and in the distance, the subway train chugging along the tracks.  I took it slow and didn't force Niko into anything he wasn't comfortable with. When he stopped and refused to go in one direction for whatever reason, I'd go in a different direction.  There was so many new scents for him to sniff too. What's interesting is after one walk, he was able to sniff out the door to the apartment we were staying at. Every time we came near it, he'd pull to go towards the door as if he was telling me "OK, I've had enough for one walk, I need to process all the new things I just saw."  Niko is no city-savvy dog like Shio!
A nice walk along Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach Dog Run/Park.

There were some major positives that came out of this trip.  I introduced Niko to my family and he was well received.  Niko was clingy and protective of me. Not once did I have to worry he would run off. Being in a new environment made him stay very close to me and it was nice to be that safety zone for him.  Also, Niko and I went to a dog park for the very first time. We actually went to 2 different ones and it made me wish we had one in our neighborhood.  It's a great and affordable way to socialize your dog with other dogs and run out their energy.  Overall, this experience was another one that helped Niko be a well rounded dog, working towards the goal of socializing him to new things.  It was fun and exciting and overwhelming all at the same time.

When we arrived  home, Niko was back to his old self in no time.  He rolled around in the grass and sat peacefully in his usual spot in the backyard observing the quiet simple life of the country.