eileenanddogs

Month: November 2012

Dog Faming

Dog Faming

Summer doesn’t lunge for dropped food (even though she LOVES cookies)

Many of you are probably familiar with the trend of “dog shaming.” It consists of taking a photo of your dog next to a sign describing a naughty thing they have done, preferably with evidence of the misdeed.

I’m not a complete wet blanket. Many of these are done with love and with a twinkle in the owner’s eye. They are adorable and make me smile. But as a positive reinforcement trainer the concept rubs me the wrong way because of the persistent misunderstandings our society has about dogs and their behavior. The things the dogs do are natural doggie behaviors that we, as the ones with the big brains and the keys to the food cupboards, usually could have prevented if we considered them undesirable. In other words, in many cases it should be the owner in the photo next to a “shaming” sign.

So I thought it was a great idea when Stephanie Coleman of Caninestein started a counter-trend and contest on her FaceBook page of “No Shaming, More Faming.” In the spirit of positive reinforcement, take a picture of your dog next to a sign describing something great that they do. Catch your dog doing something right. Show the world.

I hope others will join me. Let’s get out there and show that dogs are just as cute doing good stuff!  (Good on you, Sharon and Barnum, for taking up the torch!)

Shout out to Sue Ailsby’s Training Levels once again, for helping me train these behaviors.

Update 10/31/14: Check out the Dog Faming Facebook community. A great place to show off your dog doing something right!

Zani stays back from the open door
Cricket still peed outside at age 17  (RIP little Cricket)
Clara comes when called. Oh, for a faster camera!

Thanks for viewing!

Related Post

Dog Faming 2: Their Gifts to Us

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Cricket standing with her head in a corner

This is a hard post to write, but perhaps not for the reason you would think. My old dog Cricket has Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. This condition is like Alzheimer’s or dementia for dogs. It’s hard to write about not because I am permeated with sadness about it. It’s hard to write because I’m not. I live with Cricket and attend to her, and I don’t see that she suffers much from CCD. Of course I regret the loss of her capabilities, and the decline can be hard to witness, but for her day to day comfort, I am more concerned about possible pain from arthritis and weakness in her rear legs.

It’s mostly hard to write about this because I’m concerned about being judged. There are a handful of videos on the Internet showing dogs purported to have dementia, and the videos to me are very sad. My visceral reaction is sometimes that the people are not doing the dog a kindness by letting its existence continue. Or perhaps that they are callous to suffering on their dogs’ part. So I wonder whether you’ll have that reaction to my pictures and video of Cricket.

I hope not. I remind myself when I see the other videos, and I hope you all will keep in mind as well, that we are seeing but a small part of the dog’s life. Not only that, but in my observation of Cricket, her own condition is not distressing to her. It can, however, be distressing to witness. It also requires careful management of her environment and a watchful eye on my part to keep her safe. I have written some about Cricket’s care in a previous post: Poop in my Pocket.

Am I being selfish keeping her with me on this earth? I truly don’t think so.

As long as she has enjoyment in life, minimal stress and pain, and still knows me (she has always been very attached to me and I am her anchor), I think her quality of life is just fine. Her appetite is good. She continues to go to work with me several half days a week, and she looks forward to those outings. At the office she is free of bother from other dogs, and has a completely carpeted surface to walk on. She toddles around after me or sometimes sleeps close by. She still sleeps pretty well at night (knock on wood). When she wanders or stands with her head in a corner, she does not display stress that I can see. In fact I see fewer signs of stress or anxiety from her now than I did before she got dementia.

My main purpose in posting these photos is so that others might see what doggie dementia can look like. Cricket started exhibiting symptoms in early 2011, but it was 2012 before I realized what might be going on. The first thing I noticed was a loss of comfort with people she used to be very close to. I don’t have pictures of that, obviously, but it was very disconcerting. Why would she suddenly give the cold shoulder to someone she had formerly known and loved?

By now she has close to a classic set of symptoms. But it took quite a bit of time to tease them out of problems she had because of sensory impairments and body stiffness.  She was diagnosed by a vet early this year. There is medication for this condition, and it has helped Cricket.

Among her symptoms are:

  • standing in corners or with her face next to the wall
  • getting stuck behind furniture
  • confusion about doors (trying to go out the hinge side)
  • forgetting what she is doing
  • circling
  • staring into space
  • occasional tremors
  • pacing or wandering
  • lack of interest in people (other than me)

Another thing I notice that is not on the standard lists is that she can’t get onto mats or pillows in a way that all of her body is on there. I’m pretty sure this is not a physical problem, in the sense of limited mobility or range of motion. She can’t figure out how to arrange herself. She will circle and lie down carefully but end up with her body sliding off the pillow or only a small part of her back on the mat. This is notable in view of her lifelong avoidance of bare floors.

She has lost the general ability to back up, and again, I suspect it is a cognitive problem. She can physically do it. She just can’t figure out that that is what she needs to do.

Here is a the abstract of a scholarly article that links dementia behaviors in dogs with specific brain changes detected by necropsy. In other words, it establishes that the behavior changes are linked to detectable brain changes.

Cognitive disturbances in old dogs suffering from the canine counterpart of Alzheimer’s disease.

Here is an article that lists many of the symptom behaviors of CCD.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome in Dogs.

So here are what some of the behaviors look like.

Cricket standing with her head very close to the wall
Cricket standing with her head under an office chair
Cricket with most of her body on the linoleum instead of the mat
Cricket still missing the mat, and now with her back braced against a chair base
Cricket sitting on the edge of a crate facing into the dark, with her butt hanging out
Cricket sitting on the base of a rolling office chair

Here also, is a video of several of her dementia related behaviors. They are: getting “stuck” behind an office typewriter table; forgetting what she is doing; losing the door;  and circling.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet and have no medical training for animals or humans. The information on Canine Cognitive Dysfunction included in this post comes from my vet, from articles, and my own observations of Cricket as her behavior has changed. If you are concerned that your dog might have CCD, please contact your vet.

I hope this was helpful to you, and not too saddening to view. Cricket has a good life, and seems to be unaware of her limitations.

Thanks for reading.

Note: Cricket passed away on May 31, 2013 at the age of almost 17. She lived a good life to her very last day. I miss her greatly.

Resources

Remember Me 3dMy book on Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: Remember Me? Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Web:

Eileenanddogs on YouTube

Remembering Pride

Remembering Pride

One of the great dogs of the world left us all too soon on November 2, 2012. I never met him in real life, but feel like I knew him well through my dear friend and his person, Marge Rogers.

Marge got Pride as a petrified 5-month old puppy from Ridgeback Rescue. He and his littermate had been dumped by the side of the road. That’s him in a shelter in Orlando on the left. He had been staying plastered to the back of his kennel.

Pride (on left) in Rescue

When she first met him, she couldn’t even touch him. He was the more shy of the two abandoned pups. His littermate (who got adopted the same day) came forward and did all the talking.

Marge had to ask Pride if his coat was soft. (It was.)

In the loving home of Marge and Bob and their older ridgeback Rounder, Pride blossomed into a quirky quickwitted boy with a sense of humor. Here he is exploring the yard blower.

Ridgeback vs Blower

He turned out to be wicked bright, and thrived on Marge’s gentle touch and training skills.

Ridgeback Puppy Enthusiasm, featuring the Kangaroo Stand

He was soon helping Marge demonstrate very helpful training techniques on YouTube.

Using a Target for Various Behaviors, including a Tuck Sit

And learning tricks in the tradition of all her ridgebacks, historically considered to be an “untrainable” breed. (Of course the following “tricks” have extremely useful applications. I wonder if there was ever another ridgeback with such delicate, soft mouth skills?)

Removing a Band Aid

Retrieving Eyeglasses (by the arm!)

When Marge decided to make a video of all the steps of the Ian Dunbar Sit Challenge, 18 month old Pride showed well with the “big dogs” who already had multiple titles.

Sit Throwdown

And when she set herself a challenge of teaching one of her dogs to do a hind leg lift, Pride again rose (ahem) to the challenge.

Pride Naughty

This is one of my favorite dog pictures of all time. How she lucked into and captured the wicked look on his face I will never know. He was a GOOD boy, not a naughty one! Marge made a very clever Christmas card that was used as a fundraiser for Ridgeback Rescue.  Her various cards have raised over $2500 for rescue.

When Pride developed reactivity, Marge turned her efforts into getting the most expert help available and consulted with Leslie McDevitt and Dr. Karen Overall. She changed her training focus to helping Pride relax in his own skin and develop confidence.

Marge’s training videos have helped so many dogs and their people all over the world. But the following video of Pride’s demonstration of Dr. Overall’s technique of a dog learning to take a breath is a true classic. I remember clearly how excited Marge was when Pride learned to do it on his own to calm himself.

Teaching Pride to Take a Breath

Marge had him only three short years, but the joy that each brought the other had no end.

Pride at the Beach

Msaada Click Me Please (“Pride”)  6/28/09 – 11/2/12

The Comments section is open as always, and you can also write a personal message to Marge in the sidebar and I will forward it to her. I hope those of you who knew him in person will tell some stories below.

For some of Marge’s favorite photos of Pride, click here. You can also see more videos of Pride, Rounder, and Chase at Marge’s YouTube channel. 

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