Monday, May 30, 2011

Niko Turns Two

They grow up fast, don't they? Although we didn't meet Niko until he was about 8 weeks old, we acknowledge the time frame he was actually born, which is late May. We got him a few gifts, including a big smoked bone, a Kong Wubba toy, and 2 stuffed duckies.
a random retro Niko pic
Now that he's two years old and phasing out of his "puppiness," we've been commenting at what a great dog he is. In our opinion, he is low maintenance, fun, and adorable. His personality is a lot of fun to observe and he causes us hardly any trouble at all. 

Around this time of the year, we reminisce of the time Niko came into our lives. We had a lovely long weekend at the Thousand Islands in NY. Details of the trip will follow in the next few posts. We got a chance to go back to the campsite we stayed in 2 summers ago. I was able to re-take a photo of Niko in the same position he was in when he was a puppy. I put the two pictures side by side for comparison. His tail is a lot fluffier and his body is filled out more now, making his ears appear less abnormally big.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Socialization and Being Recognized

Over the last weekend, by chance, Niko had a lot of socialization time.  Socialization is introducing your dog to unfamiliar things they may be shy toward and helping them adapt and ease their fears. It is also about exposing your dog to new people and dogs so they learn how to act appropriately with proper etiquette.  Objects to socialize dogs to can range from people on bikes to the sound of a doorbell. 
There was a large community garage sale that spanned many streets and we took Niko along for the walk. There were hundreds of people on foot. Shiba Inus are not common dogs in our region, so Niko receives a lot of attention.  There were a few people who recognized the breed and some said he looked like the dog in Hachiko the movie based on a true story. That movie is about an Akita dog, but I have read that they filmed with Shiba Inus in the puppy scenes. It was good socialization time because Niko met a variety of people who asked to pet him. We are very proud of his behavior. He remained very calm and allowed friendly pets and rubs; he even wagged his tail to show his appreciation. We met a few dogs and their owners too.

While walking on a street, we were stopped by a woman who asked us, "do you ski?" We gave her confused looks and she explained she recognized Niko from when she went cross country skiing. We confirmed it was us skiing at the same park a few months ago. She continued to rave at what a unique and beautiful dog Niko is to her friend. That encounter put a smile on our faces...that Niko is sort of a local celebrity. I heard my comments like "look at that dog!" and "just like a fox!" all throughout the event.

We live in a region where dog friendliness is not a top priority. We don't have a lot of outside eateries where we can bring Niko and dog parks are a rarity too. If you are in the same boat, you might be interested to know that a lot of home improvement retail stores are indeed pet friendly. When I found out Lowes allows dogs insides, I started bringing Niko along on those shopping trips. On the first trip, he was apprehensive and shy. His sniffer was all over the place. When we took him last weekend, he was more of an observer. He looked at what we did and observed things going on around him. If you want to do this with your dog, make sure he/she is on a leash and is potty trained. We must respect stores who are kind enough to let us bring in our pets. Know of other common stores who are pet friendly? Please share!
"Um, what aisle is plywood in? I want to build a doghouse!"

Although this weekend's activities were not as physical as say a hike in the woods, Niko was exercised in a different manner and he ended up being pretty tired by Sunday night. 

P/S: we are rather hopeless that Niko will ever be socialized to baths though...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Coffee Run

We went to a Starbucks drive thru window with Niko riding in the backseat. Being that it was a nice day, we rolled down his window so he can sniff the air...and look cute.

 As the barista was handing us our drinks, he noticed Niko in the back window. He pointed to Niko and said, "and you are the cutest thing ever." He also asked us if he was a shiba. Kudos to the dog savvy barista.  He asked us if Niko would like a treat, freshly made whipped cream. We couldn't refuse it of course. Niko enjoyed every lick of it. What a nice gesture on behalf of Starbucks and a fun time for Niko. We'll work on getting free coffee for us humans next time (wink).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Someone To Come Home To

The best part to the end of a work day, especially a rough one, is seeing our furry friend at the window waiting for our arrival. This is also the time of the day Niko gives us the most affection. The longer he doesn't see us, the more licks and leg brushes we get.
Niko's chair is placed by the front window. He spends a lot of time napping on it, hiding underneath it, and propping himself on it to look out the window.  When we leave him home, he watches us drive away. When we come home and he senses we're back, he pops his head up. We have neighbors and friends who tell us they have seen Niko in the window when they drive by. He loves to observe; the window is like a tv set.
He doesn't bark at everything that goes by the house. He does however, growl at things that are out of the norm. Such as cars stopping by the curb, strange people approaching the house, and squirrels on the lawn.
Being outside is even better than just looking out from indoors. Here's a picture from this weekend at Ed's parents property.
I must say that it is Niko's #1 vacation getaway. He gets super excited when we say "going to grandma & granpa's!" and when we approach, he sniffs the air from the car window in excitement. He loves it here because we let him go off leash and he has plenty of room to run around. He gets a good workout from all the running and exploring. It always takes him a day to recover from the activity after we return home.

If you haven't already and love shiba pups, check out this shiba inu puppy cam: