Sunday, October 26, 2014

Happy 3 Year Adoption Day Kerri!

Last week we celebrated Kerrigan's 3 year adoption day!  How fast time flies!  To celebrate we took her shopping at a outdoor mall with a doggie bakery.  Here she is enjoying her purchases.

"I smell that this bag is for me"

"I am a tiny dog- that pup-cake is too big for me, please break it up"

"Much better- yumm"

Then we went to hang out with her friends Harvey and Mosby!  I only have one blurry picture of that play time.  I thought it was fitting to hang out with her friends who also came from the same kill shelter as she did.  All of them are pretty lucky to have gotten out of there alive and it is certainly reason to celebrate!

She had a great day hanging out with us and her buddies (even though she of course has no idea it was her birthday).  I try to do something special for our dogs adoption day every year although Copley's adoption day is our wedding anniversary and Nova's is a week after Ben's birthday and two weeks before Christmas...  so Kerri tends to get the biggest party.  Do you guys do anything for your dog's Birthdays or adoption days?  Let us know in the comments, we would love birthday ideas!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Things only Tiny Dog Owners Need To Worry About

Most people who own dogs from the toy group enjoy them for their size not in spite of it.  After all people have spent hundreds of years breeding an animal that naturally weighs 30 or so pounds to be the size of a loaf of bread, we must have done it for some reason.  I love my 6 lb dogs for a lot of reasons- portability, how cheap they are to feed, how little and adorable their faces are...  Needless to say there are plenty of good things.  With that small size however comes a set of special worries reserved for owners of dogs less than 8 lbs.*

  1. Birds of prey.  That's right, my dog is hawk bait!  I don't let my chis off leash in wide open areas because they can easily be eaten by any number of raptors.  Being the same size as, but slower than a rabbit makes them an easy meal.  Also to all the people who think I am crazy on this one- IT HAPPENS.  I personally know one yorkie owner who lost their dog to a bird of prey and a chihuahua owner who's dog was attacked by one while on the end of the leash. Still don't believe me, try these articles from various local new stations: Hawk Flies Away With Family Pet, Hawk Tries to Fly off with Toy Poodle, or from the AKC a few stories of people whose dogs have been attacked are in this Q&A.
  2. Peeing in tall grass.  When grass is just a little too high my female chis have a hard time peeing in it because when they squat down the grass pokes them in the tummy.  It is pretty funny to watch, but they never really get used to it.  Luckily in my backyard my dogs pee on the rocks so it is not a problem.
  3. Doors slamming shut on them.  When it is even the slightest bit windy my back door can blow closed if not stopped properly.  That door slamming shut on my chihuahuas would end them for sure, no matter what part of their body gets hit.  Same thing with my garage door.  That one has a spring closure, so if you open it and let go it naturally falls closed behind you.  We stop and close that door by hand every sing time we open it because of the chihuahuas.  While it probably would just bounce off a bigger dog, or the dog would hold the door open, it would be sure to crush a tiny chihuahua.
  4. People picking them up without permission.  On several occasions people have reached down and picked Kerri up without asking my permission.  Two people have even continued to grab her after I told them "don't pick up my dog" usually telling me "it's ok, I love little dogs!"  I know it seems like I would really have to not be paying attention for this to happen but it is just so fast.  I only have to turn my head for a second and suddenly a person who was walking by is picking her up.  For a lot of reasons this is really unnerving.  Particularly the people who pick her up even after I tell them not to.  One women even refused to put her down and I reached over, put my hands around Kerri and told her if she didn't let go I was going to start screaming for the police.  Actually my plan was to start screaming and kick her but luckily she just let her go and I walked off.  I don't think she meant any real harm (although you never know) but she just didn't see what the big deal was picking her up.  Personally I think it is very reasonable to keep your dog out of the arms of strangers.  They could easily drop her, or otherwise injure her.  Also Kerri loves being picked up by anyone but that is not the case with all dogs.  Going around picking up strange dogs is certainly going to get you bit eventually.  This is not to say that I don't want ANYONE to pick up Kerrigan.  After all she does love it.  I don't mind my friends picking her up, or my neighbors when we see them out on walks.  There are also a few people at the library where we do therapy dog visits who pick her up every time we visit, but those people I know and they were given permission to pick her up.  For some reason I don't think that Mastiff owners have this problem.
  5. Rolling over/sitting on/falling on them.  I check under throw blankets before I sit down on the couch, I don't fall hard onto my bed and I have to watch where I step around the house.  Having a dog that could be fatally crushed by you plopping onto a couch cushion they have burrowed under just changes how you do things.
  6. Keeping them warm.  I know people often judge "dressing up" small dogs, but as I have written about before, we have bred dogs to be very tiny.  So tiny that in some cases they are no longer able to regulate their body temperature as well as "full sized" dogs.  In the case of my 6 lb dogs and many other small dogs they need to wear sweaters for most of the winter.  Even in a mild winter like we have here.
  7. Finding treats that are small enough.  I do a lot of training and also a lot of hiking.  These are both activities that require a lot of healthy, small treats.  I need them for training to keep her interested and for hiking to keep her energy up.  Unfortunately most hiking food is GIANT and even training treats are absurdly large for my dogs.  To give you an idea Kerri could not eat a regular sized milkbone because she can't get her mouth open wide enough to get a piece off of one (not that I would feed milkbones anyway).  I buy cat treats, make my own treats and also have found a few select dog items that work great for training.  I find myself using freeze dried just meat treats a lot because I can "count" them as part of my chihuahuas meals.  With them eating so little food in a day every little bit counts and sugary or starch filled treats can really add on the calories for the day for a tiny dog.  A friend of mine used a training treat for their high energy mastiff puppy and three of them equaled Nova's entire caloric intake for the day!  Those are even healthy treats that work great for their training, but as you can imagine they would quickly be a problem for us.  In other news I am an expert in how much dust comes off every commercial dog treat available when you break it into 8 pieces...  Some hold up better than others.
I don't mean to say that little dogs can't do what big dogs do- because they can!  Kerri can do a six mile hike like a champ, eat an entire raw game hen and run an agility course.  She just needs a little extra thought when it comes to certain things.  Anyone else have a particular challenge with their little dogs?  Feel free to share in the comments!

*I didn't mean to exclude anyone here, many people probably have these worries with slightly bigger dogs too.  HOWEVER I am tired of hearing from beagle owners about how tiny and fragile their dogs are.  I own a 18lb dog.  I also own a 5.75 lb dog.  There is a big difference between your worries with a 6 lb dog and a 20 lb dog.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Beautiful Nevada

 Valley Of Fire State Park (You can click on the pictures to see them full size)

A lot of people like to talk about how miserable this state is.  Particularly after the horribly hot summer we just had (are still having?  It was 94 today).  I must admit I often wish there were are few more trees around or at least an ocean BUT Nevada does have it's great qualities.  I was looking through old pictures and have stumbled across a few that really capture how great The Silver State is.  Here they are!

A STREAM at Red Rock National Conservation Area

A beautiful campsite on BLM land near Searchlight, NV

Another BLM campsite at Wee Thump Joshua Tree Forest.  The largest old growth Joshua Tree forest in the world.

Valley of Fire State Park

More Valley of Fire

A final shot at Valley of Fire

Wildflowers on BLM Land near Zzyzx

Not my best picture but a great one of a favorite trail on BLM Land outside of Red Rock National Conservation Area


A trail between Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Valley of Fire State Park

 Same trail as above

Ben and Copley forging an icy river (yep, it does get cold enough here to make ice!) at Red Rock

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Confused Stranger

 Watching the bass at Bass Pro Shop

I am an avid Bass Pro shops shopper.  I buy camping food and cast iron skillets, clothes and boots, fishing poles and firearms.  I am about 6 blocks from one and I go there almost every week.  While I prefer REI for a few camping things and anything for backpacking I do spend A LOT of money at Bass Pro.  So much money that I am a premium member and they have special events with food and specials for only like 15 of us.  It is so like me while my friends have personal shoppers at department stores I am the one getting special invites in the mail from the fishing and camping store.

Well I was at one of these events the other day with Kerrigan (our local Bass Pro is dog friendly- not sure if that is a national thing or not) and she was getting a lot of attention.  We were sporting our DreamChii bag, in a camo fish print and making a lot of friends like Kerri does.  There were a lot of  the regular "look how well behaved that chihuahua is" and a few kids petting her and the one stranger making kissy noises at me who I almost punched before I realized he was directing it at Kerri.  We did meet two people that left an impression and I thought I would share.  One was kinda hilarious and good the other is a scumbag.

Riding the escalator in her fish print camo bag

I will start with the hilarious guy.  I will call him "The Defensive Raw Feeder."  He came up and asked to pet her, where she was from and all that.  It turns out he had a rescue at home too- a fox terrier mix.  He showed me pictures on his phone while we sat waiting for a raffle.  He at one point said "yeah, all I feed my dog is raw meat, he is so healthy we never have issues and it is so great."  I was like- "Me too!."  That is where he got really confused, as if his brain could not process the fact that other raw feeders exist in real life.  Here is how that went;
       "No, I mean I just feed them raw meat, bones, organs, and a little bit of veggies I put in a blender."
       I respond, "Me too, they eat a lot of beef I get from a rancher in southhern Arizona, and actually I use a lot of game hens cause she is so small."
        Clearly still confused he continues, "Look, what you can do is go to the supermarket and they sell frozen chicken backs, then buy those tubs of liver and try an ethnic market for other organs.  She can eat chicken bones, don't worry."
       I have to admit I was becoming frustrated.  "I know.  I have been feeding raw for over 4 years, since before this one was born.  I try to get as much locally and pasture raised meat for them as I can but it does get tough with the bone.  Have you ever fed rabbit?"
       Still in shock the stranger keeps going, "Rabbit, no?  I mean I feed them RAW meat and organ, that's it.  I give them veggies every so often, but remember no onion.  They love apples and carrots."
       Finally I just about had it.  "I feed EXACTLY what you are describing.  I have for years, in fact I have a blog where I talk about it a lot.  This dog right here has never eaten kibble in her life.  You don't run into many raw feeders in person do you?"
From there the raffle happened (I actually won a $300 rangefinder I have little use for) and that was pretty much it but I think he finally understood me.  Really I think he has so many conversations with clueless people about raw that his brain could not comprehend a conversation with someone who actually already fed it.  He did seem nice though, and clearly loves all dogs so he gets an A-OK in my book.

Now moving to the other notable encounter.  Kerri was walking on her leash and a few kids were petting her. As that group of kids walked away a boy, probably 10 or 11 walked towards her, his Dad saw the kid too (I assume Dad, it was an older adult man with him).    As the kid was going to move towards us the Dad said in the most exasperated and disappointed voice "Don't pet that gay little dog."  Something about the way he said it, like he was embarrassed that his kid would even look at a chihuahua.  Honestly it was the homophobia if it that bothered me more than insulting Kerri.  People think that chihuahuas are mean, or that they bite and are scared of letting their kids near them and that I can work with and educate about, it does not offend me.  This was different.  This idiot was suggesting that his kid was somehow less of a man for just going near my little dog and that pissed me off.  I looked the Dad in the eyes and said "jackass" loud enough for him and the kid to hear me then I walked away.  Honestly I feel bad for the kid.  Even if he is naturally the most masculine boys boy out there and the constant reminders to stay that way don't scar him I bet it is not fun to be raised by a bigoted idiot. 

That's it for story time, but I want to remind you all to follow me on Instagram @doginthedesert, Facebook, and Kerrigan's twitter account @doginthedesert  I am doing a great job with this blog thing according to my little google dashboard but the other social media not so much.  Let's change that people!  Go follow me- I promise it is both cute and informational and you won't regret it.  In the next month or so I am going to be hosting a contest on my social media and you would not want to miss out would you?