Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Playtime

Headless horseman costume? This is as close as we'll get to Niko wearing a costume. (Chuckle chuckle)

That's Niko sticking his head into a plastic jack-o-lantern my friend Nichole got for him. Last year, Niko was fearful of this thing. When I brought it back out this year, he showed some anxiety. Then it hit me, it's the face that he was focused on.  I have noticed how fixated Niko becomes on objects that have a face. With any stuffed animal we give him, it's the head/face that is annihilated first. Actually, the eyes fall out and then holes are bitten through the head until it's not recognizable. 

I turned the pumpkin so that the face is turned away from Niko and I put toys and treats in it. He hasn't growled at it since even when the face is visible.  This pumpkin also turned out to be a great storage bin for Niko's toys.

I learned of a fun game from The Dog Trainer podcast and modified it with this pumpkin. Her game entailed a few empty yogurt cups and hiding a treat under one or all of them. Then, let your dog tip the cup over to get a treat. I flipped the pumpkin upside down and hid small toys and treats over and over again for Niko to "find." This is one of many ways to entertain a dog.

I think pets in costumes are super cute. However, Niko is skittish and doesn't enjoy wearing articles of clothings or accessories. It was a lot of work making him wear a Santa hat/kerchief around his neck last Christmas. When Niko suspects anyone coming at him to give him a bath or to put clothes on him, he goes into "catch me if you can" mode and it's nearly impossible to get him.

Don't you dare come near me with a costume! Argh...
Notice how he's curled up under his cheetah chair. He's in this position a LOT. We'll be watching TV and not hear a peep out of him for 30 minutes. Then, out of no where, we would see the chair move up, down,  or tilt slightly. When he gets out, he sometimes get stuck and moves the chair with him a few inches. It's like in the cartoons when a character hides under the rock and the rock moves slyly. 

To see a Shiba in costume, check out Shio the Shiba!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Apple Thief

Niko has been a backseat passenger ever since he got too big to fit in my lap comfortably.  He is very quiet and un-excitable in the car.  He likes looking out the window but isn't fussy at all. He has the whole backseat to himself most of the time.

We went to a local apple farm to pick up some apples. I put the bag of apples on the floor of my seat up front. We stopped to grab some lunch. When we returned to the car, Niko wasn't in the backseat. He was on the floor up front. It was a funny sight because it was so unexpected. He must have been curious over the sweet aroma of the apples. He just had to discover what it was. I found a hole in the bag (even thought the bag wasn't tied up). I found an apple with a bite mark on it. All is well, as I had planned to make oat apple crisp dog treats for him. I used that apple he picked out as part of the ingredients.

I let Niko stay up front for the ride home. It was fun an interesting having him look up at us at a different angle.
Bite mark on an apple. Niko?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Autumn Hike

The rain all week long meant Niko had to stay indoors except for quick potty breaks. On Saturday when the sun came out, Niko and I took the opportunity and went over to a very beautiful place called The Glen. It is less than 5 minutes away by car.  There are a few trail heads and I chose one that goes along a creek.  The autumn scenery was very nice to take in.  
The creek was running and we had to cross it a few times. It was at most an inch deep, but I tried my best to step across rocks to avoid wet feet. Since it was so secluded, I let Niko off the leash. As I have mentioned in other posts, Niko hates water. This summer he made baby steps by approaching ponds slowly to drink out of them. One other time, I had to drag him on the leash to cross a shallow part of a river with me. 
On this particular hike, Niko showed some courage. Maybe it was because he was off leash and the excitement of discovering the place overshadowed his fear of water. As I carefully stepped on rocks to cross the creek, he trotted over the shallow water like a natural and a bit like a showoff!

We came to a small waterfall and I paused to take some pictures. Niko darted around the wooded area behind me. He would disappear and then I would hear leaves rustling and see the ball of energy charging down the hill. 

After that, we continued walking uphill. Niko marked his territory every chance he got. He must have known my directional skills are horrible when I'm in a place with no street signs or buildings. And since Ed wasn't with us, there was a chance we'd get lost. It reminded me of the story of Hanzel and Gretel when the ingenious kids left crumbs to find their way back. Except, Niko didn't have crumbs. So, he had to keep drinking water.
On the way back, I stopped and found a spot by the same waterfall to take a break. I did some reading and snacking. It was so nice to have the waterfall in the backdrop and to listen to the natural sounds of the water.  To my surprise, Niko went down the hill, drank some water from the bank, and stepped onto what was the top of the waterfall. It sounds dangerous, but he was OK since the water is very shallow and not strong enough to pull him  into the waterfall. He crossed to the other side and went up another trail. I saw him pause to see if i was coming. When he realized I was seated by my tree and not going anywhere, he came back to me. Of course, my gourmet platter of cheese, crackers, and pepperoni  made coming back to me more motivational.
Crossing the top of the falls
It was a good time and Niko loves being off leash.  It was another small milestone in his progress with water.  In his own pace, Niko got his paws wet. It was cool to see him do this. I won't expect him to go swimming on his own anytime soon though.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Where's Niko?

Not very often does Niko get to run off leash. I love this picture because he is camouflaged. His face shows he is so happy, being able to run free and explore. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Niko in New York City, Take 2

Niko is somewhat of a celebrity to my "peeps" back home in NYC. Every time I visit, relatives and friends ask if Niko is coming along.  His last trip was eye opening to say the least and we didn't venture out of Brooklyn. Right after we got out of the car, to my surprise, Niko went to the bathroom right on the concrete sidewalk! His city senses must have told him grass is a rare sight where we were and he shouldn't wait.  When he wasn't as desperate to go, he would wait until we reached the one patch of grass we have to walk a long block to; it was like clockwork, same spot everytime.

At my parents' home (which is relatively small in comparison to what Niko is used to), Niko was very timid.  He once again found his bark/voice.  Fortunately, the barking did not carry on outside. It must be enclosed spaces that he does not like.

During this trip, Niko had the opportunity to meet his Aunt Tracey for the very first time. It was a meeting that was long awaited for by both parties. Tracey has gotten Niko toys before and is an avid reader of the blog.  With patience, Tracey gained Niko's trust and quickly became friends. Niko really needed those rubs on the head because he was feeling homesick =)

I took Niko for walks and to parks as much as possible. For the first time, I took Niko with me into Manhattan. I didn't want to take my chances with the Subway, so I drove. As usual, he did very well in the car. He napped and looked out the window as I drove through the crazy midtown traffic. On foot and paws, Niko quickly learned how to wheeze in and out of the swarms of people with me (I held the leash tight and short).  He followed my stops and go's. It certainly helped that he wanted to stay close to me in an unfamiliar world.  We went to Central Park where we met up with a bunch of friends and children.  It was a beautiful Fall day and it seemed like every New Yorker took advantage of it and was at the park. 

I finally drew the conclusion that Niko is extra tolerant of kids. After seeing him with different sorts of adults and kids,  he always sits peacefully as kids come up to him to say hello, play, and pet him. He was totally calm even with a group of 3 to 5 kids all excited to meet him. If it were a bunch of adults crowding him like that, Niko would surely run and hide. It must be the short size and playfulness of children that Niko connects with. I personally like seeing kids' faces light up and it's super cool when Niko's the reason behind it.

As cool as NYC is, Niko prefers the slower pace of his suburban neighborhood. We give props to all the shibas (like Shio  and Kit & company) who call NYC their home.  For now, we will live vicariously through these City Slickers by reading about their adventures!
Niko taking it all in...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cheetah Chair, Check!

Almost a year ago, we picked up a small arm chair that was in good condition for Niko. It became one of Niko's favorite spots to hang out at home. He uses it to prop himself up to look out the front window, take naps, even as a den/cave under the chair.

All this use took its toll on the chair, especially Niko's tender loving chews...

It was time to either let the chair go to crap or bring it back to life. We chose the second option. We went to the store to look for some fabric. I like the feel of flannel so we found a leopard print piece.  With zero upholstering experience, we bought a few yards of  the fabric and a staple gun.

I wasn't sure how Niko would react to such a drastic change to his beloved chair. So, I made it a slow transition. (I also didn't get enough fabric so we had to wait a few days to complete the project)

" guys sure about this tacky print?"
I laid the cloth out on the floor for Niko to sniff it out. After a few moments, he chased it like any old toy. 

As you can see, i only had enough fabric for the top half of the chair. The thing was half complete for a week but I think it was a good way for Niko to ease into the change. Here he is, in his "cave." He's very territorial about this space; he growls if you try to invade his space when he wants to be left alone.

Here's the finished product:
Why, hello there. Want to join me?
We call it the "Cheetah Chair" and its very fitting because as most Shiba Inu owners know, these dogs have some feline qualities. In fact, Niko sometimes climbs on this chair very slowly and gracefully. It reminds me of a recent show I saw of tigers going up on their pedestals.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Don't Waste That Egg Yolk

I always found it annoying when recipes call for egg whites or egg yolks only. I would throw out the other part of the egg. This time, when I used up the egg white and had a yolk left, I fried it scrambled style and served it to Niko. I have heard egg yolks are good for dog's coats.  Niko thought it was a good way to add some spice to his kibble.