Dogs, dogs, and more dogs

This is where I’ll put all the stuffs I have learned and continue to learn about dogs. Training, food, breed info, toys we like (with our  four dogs super fast destroying abilities), and anything else that peeks my attention about/in relation to dogs.

April 2, 2014   My Four Dogs and Cesar’s Way

I have four large dogs. Well, technically, my German Shepard, Truman (Tru-dog), is considered an extra-large dog at 95lbs. Luna, Enzo, and Achilles are Australian Cattle Dog/Catahoula Leopard Hound mixes and weigh in at around 70lbs each for Luna and Enzo,

Achilles and Truman

Achilles (left) and Truman

and 60lbs for Achilles. Luna is Enzo and Achilles’ mom. Truman is will be 8 years old in June and is a pleaser. He has always been the easiest dog to train. Most commands took all of one or two times for him to understand and not much more for him to have down solid. His vocabulary is huge, mostly because we have always spoken to him as a human.

Luna and Enzo

Luna (left) and Enzo

Luna is our rescue dog. I saw her one day on Craigslist. She was being evicted from the family she was with because it just wasn’t working out, but they wanted to give her a chance to find a good home before taking her to the shelter. I fell in love with her picture. I didn’t need another dog. I had Truman, he was without doubt my dog, and we live in an RV. I felt so compelled to do something for Luna, even if that something was to rehabilitate her and find her that forever home. After sleeping on it, my husband agreed and we picked her up. *SIDE NOTE*  The woman that had Luna has since become a very dear and close friend of mine. She is an amazing woman. Luna just wasn’t the right dog for her family. It happens. After Luna had been with her for a bit, she went into heat. I decided to breed her with an Australian Cattle Dog (a red heeler). We had built a yurt we were living in and I felt I had enough room for this. I know, I know. I can hear all of the people that are against “back yard breeding,” and I get it. Am I sorry I breed Luna? No. I am grateful for the experience. She has been spayed since then and I do not see me ever breeding another dog. Anyway, on February 20, 2012, I woke up to Luna panting and knew she was in labor. I called in to work. She gave birth to 10 puppies. One pup was born dead. One pup didn’t make it. Eight little white puppies with black spots; they looked like little cows. 3 boys, 5 girls. I had no intentions of keeping ANY of the puppies. Again, RV, yurt, already had two large dogs. Even when one of the puppies started nibbling on my toes all of the time, I held fast to “we aren’t keeping any of the puppies.” Until, that is, my husband, out of the blue, says to me one night, “I don’t think I can let him go.” He didn’t need to elaborate; I knew who he meant. So, Achilles picked and we picked, and now the pack was three. My kids’ dad was living with us at the time. Long, difficult story, but I’m grateful that, with our limited living space, we at least could offer him a roof over his head and the RV’s pull out couch. His other option was homelessness. We (my husband, my son, the kids’ dad, and myself) had driven over to Idaho on my daughter’s birthday to take her out to dinner. We had stopped at a bookstore in Ellensburg on the way over to pick up an audiobook. I had never heard of the book before but took a chance. It was told from the perspective of a dog so it couldn’t be that bad, right? I’m so grateful for that audiobook: The Art of Racing in the Rain. The kids’ dad had been sick for quite a while, had been forced to get real in touch with his own mortality, and knew he was dying. As the story started, I began to think maybe this wasn’t such a great book to be listening to with him in the car. As it turned out, the story touched him deeply. So deeply, in fact, that he listened to it quite a few times, told his friends about it, lent/gave the audiobook to one friend, and decided he wanted on of the puppies. He named him Enzo, after the dog in the story. When it time for the kids’ dad to take Enzo, he was no longer living with us. His health was also not good at all. I began to worry about Enzo being to much for him. I talked with the kids’ dad about this and Enzo ended up staying with us. Now the pack was four. I’m grateful that Enzo stayed with us. Not only is he an amazing dog, but the kids’ dad died in October of that year. The mess that happened in regard to his belongings leaves me to believe that with us from the get was the best decision for Enzo. Things sometimes just work the way they should. So, Achilles and Enzo are high energy dogs. They need to be well exercised and definitely have a strong pack leader or chaos will ensue. I have always thought of myself as a strong pack leader. My step-mother always called me the dog whisperer, starting when I was around 13 years old (that would have been about 1983 or so). I’ve never had a dog I couldn’t get to do what I wanted with very little effort. I knew these two would up my game significantly. They went to work with my husband and myself (we work(ed) construction, remodels, so it wasn’t a problem). After work, we would take them to the dog park so they could burn off some energy. They had a strict schedule of when they ate, played, and went to bed. They had crates. And then life happened, as it does, my bipolar spun a new roller coaster, and my best laid plans went right out the window. Fast forward to now. We no longer are living where we were. (No, not dog related. If interested about that, it will come up on my Home page) There is no room to have crates in the travel trailer or RV, I am no longer working, and the dogs are out of control. Ok. Were out of control. My little puppies that were doing so well with learning how to walk on a leash, were well socialized, and were getting all of there commands down became heathens. Our cash flow deminished greatly, so taking the dogs places stopped happening as much. I became so overwhelmed with life in general that I wasn’t walking them. There was a huge fenced area where we were living so I would throw the ball for the for about an hour a few times a day so they could get their exercise. I was failing at taking care of them, psychologically, and I knew it. I just…couldn’t seem to make myself do anything about it. I wasn’t frozen but I was close. About 2 months ago, my husband and I drove out toward the woods to take the dogs out so they could really run. This requires us putting them on leashes to walk them in and then, once we are in a little ways, releasing them. They pulled so hard on the leashes my hands were throbbing. My husband was yelling at the dogs. In a moment of complete clarity, I realized my dogs had become those dogs and I wanted to die. This was not fun, the whole yelling, pulling, pain thing. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I knew we had to do something before one of the dogs bit someone or they stopped coming all together when we called them. “How did MY dogs get this way” I thought to myself. Well, I did it to them by not taking care of their psychological needs. How’s that for a blow to the ego of an already severely depressed person? I cried for a week and then I hoped online and searched for the answer. I had heard great things about Cesar Millan. Honestly, I have to say I found everything I heard to be hype. “Ummm…train your dog, people” was what I would think. I never looked at any of his shows, read any of his books, or anything of the like. I had this covered. Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer?! HA! I had had that title long before he had. How close-minded I had been about it. Its embarrassing to think about/admit now. I guess it just shows you just how unbalanced I was then. I can’t say I’m balanced now, but I’m a heck of a lot closer to it now. I was desperate to find the answer to getting my dogs back to being MY dogs. I scoured the internet for anything I could find about Cesar Millan and Cesar’s Way of doing things with dogs. I ordered book after book by Cesar. I devoured the books. Head up, chest out, shoulders back, calm and assertive…check. Let’s do this. I watched the episodes of The Dog Whisperer on Netflix…10x. I made my husband watch them. I read more. I watched more. Ok. I think I’m ready. I think I understand how this works and am ready to get going with the dogs. I understand that I have done this to the dogs and it is up to me to be their pack leader so that they can just be dogs. Calm and assertive. Calm and assertive. Calm and assertive. Sigh. We have been walking the dogs for at least 6 weeks now and I have to say they are amazingly better than when we first started. My Achilles is still having some problems with the walk. Ok. I’m still having some problems with the walk and Achilles. He wants to be in front. I want him beside me. Leash correction pretty much mean nothing to him. He just looks at me pissed off and goes back to trying to be in front. Its me, I know. Cesar says so. But I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. When my husband walks the dogs, they walk beside, if not a little bit behind him. Truman and Luna do really great on the walk with me. When we first start out, they need little corrections to get them to where I want them to walk, but the rest of the walk they are great! Enzo is usually pretty good for me, though we have days when I must not be conveying the right message and he pulls some. For me, Achilles, as I said, is getting corrections throughout the walk most days. For my husband, Achilles almost never needs a correction. With it being Spring (I have bipolar. This is a challenging time of year, emotionally.), I am finding myself having a harder and harder time being calm with Achilles. Actually, I am finding it hard to remain calm with any of the dogs when they will not…conform?…do what I want them to do. What completely unravels me is when I have the two dogs I’ve taken with me for the walk (we have split the dogs up into twos. I am not ready to try all 4 by myself. My husband has and it has gone well) and they are doing great, then they see my husband. They pull, ignore me and leash corrections. All they want is to get to my husband. Where Dad goes, there is fun. I don’t know what to do about that. Also, the latest factor that has been showing up, is a breed issue. It is common for littermates of the two breeds Achilles and Enzo are to basically try to kill each other around the age they are. At least that is what I have been told by a few of the rescue associations of the two breeds, and the way they have been with each other lately makes me believe it. Then I hear Cesar in my head saying “You have to take the breed out of it. Its about the animal first, dog second, breed last.” I have no idea what to do with that, apparently. If I had the money to have Cesar come and help, I would willingly and graciously pass it over to this gifted man, but sadly I do not. So, what do I do? Continue to devour every last thing I can that Cesar produces that I can watch on YouTube (I’m a visual learner if its not immediately hands on), and never give up. I have also implemented a tactic of my own that I used to use with others of my dogs now with Achilles: the leash. He is the most aggressive of the pack, even within the pack. He starts to show signs of his aggression coming out, he is on the leash and on my waist. Not necessarily fun for either of us, but it seems to settle him back down for a bit. Wish us luck! Anyone with any tips, please leave me a comment!!! Thank you!

One Response to Dogs, dogs, and more dogs

  1. Pingback: Breathe in, breathe out… | Dragonfly Gypsy USA

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