Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Stuffing

We hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Niko enjoyed some stuffing, but not the traditional kind that goes with turkey. This toy lasted only 2 hours before it was put to rest.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To The Tennis Courts

Off leash time for Niko is the best time for Niko.  He gets to run fast and hard and exert his energy.  He is at his happiest when he goes off leash. Without a fenced in yard and the danger of cars make off leash time a rare occasion.  I subscribe to the Dog Trainer's podcast and a very good tip I got from her is to find a fenced in vacant tennis court to take your dog to.  The weather in upstate NY has turned rather chilly, so tennis fans have put away their rackets for the season. Although, last week, we had exceptional warm weather and Niko and I were bummed to find people playing tennis.  Anyway, ever since the first time we let Niko off least at this these courts, he gets very excited when we go in the direction of the park. He pulls and hyperventilates from the excitement.  

On the walk to the park, we make sure Niko eliminates so he does not do it in the courts. We play tennis here too, so we respect the courts. Also, as dog owners, we must be courteous and mindful and not ruin a good thing for others. With the shorter days, it is a challenge to get Niko outside before dark on weekdays. Here's a picture of Niko taken with my phone as the moon is rising:

We toss a tennis ball around over and over to play fetch. I tried jogging the perimeter of the courts and Niko outruns me of course.  It's amazing how fast Shibas can run. Very fun to see him gallop like a horse. He has pretty good brakes too.  Tennis balls are good and reliable toys for Niko. He never gets tired of it. They are cheap and he chews threw them if we leave them around.  
When we first brought Niko home last year at 8 weeks old, he was very shy. He shook and trembled for a day or two.  We bought him a few toys and were dismayed when he didn't show interest in any of them. We even worried that we chose the wrong puppy out of the litter: "What's wrong with this one, he doesn't play!"
On his second day, I took out one of our tennis balls and rolled it around. Right away, Niko stared at it and chased it.  It was a big moment for us because he showed his playfulness for the first time.  The tennis ball was Niko's official first play thing. Here's a picture from that 2nd day. He could barely fit the ball in his mouth at the time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Behind Bars

We took an overnight trip to the Philadelphia are on Saturday and had to figure out a place for Niko to stay.  Our options at home were limited because places don't open on Sunday and we wanted to be able to pick him up on Sunday. I did a little research and found Wagsworth Manor in Malvern, PA.  What a delight to first read about the place and then to actually visit it. In our small town, we don't have "pet resorts."  Our jaws dropped at the nice accommodations this place had.  There was a pool for training and recreational swimming. The facility was immaculate and we couldn't help but admire everything.  

Compared to Niko's one other kennel experience, this one takes the cake.  Niko was fearful when we walked in, but the staff was very friendly. They took him on many potty breaks and we prescribed individual play time. The dogs are separated by size and there are dividers between each "suite." The amount of barking was minimal and there weren't any of the usual smells of a kennel. We saw many workers cleaning different areas of the facility. The outdoor play areas were big and grassy.  When we picked up Niko, he was happy to see us. Compared to the last time where we found him foaming at the mouth(from the stress and anxiety of neighboring barking dogs), Niko was well rested and acting himself when we found him at Wagsworth.

Niko's stay was 24 hours long and we knew he was in good hands. We were given a report card during checkout which I thought was icing on the cake.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cheap Toy

When we went to Mexico earlier this year, the resort had great accommodations and niceties. One of which was leaving towels folded into cute animals. One of those towels mysteriously ended coming home with us:

We kept it in its original form for months as a memento of the trip.  As we have discovered months ago, Niko reacts in a jealous way when we show affection to animal like objects. Ed took this towel bunny and started to pet it and Niko jumped at him to get to it. It may be the eyes too that captures Niko's interest. 

I took the pipe-cleaner off and replaced it with a rubber band before I handed the bunny to Niko. The sticker eyes didn't last long. The rubber band came off and I had to think of something else. 
Here's what we got:

I rolled the towel from one corner to the another diagonally and then tied a knot. The ends resemble ears and I drew eyes on the head. Niko likes to chase it, chew it, wrangle it with his mouth and shake it until it unravels. He continues to play with it when it's a regular towel. We would take it and tie it up again for him. This is by far the cheapest toy for Niko.