Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Harrison and the puzzles: The Green

For our latest trial, Harrison ate his dinner using The Green, a unique slow feeder bowl that the dog needs to use their tongue and paws to move the kibble to the side of the bowl where they can eat it. 

I think this was our messiest puzzle yet - food was flinging everywhere! But he sure loved it. Unlike my dogs he tended to use his tongue to get the food instead of his paws. Maybe because his big feet don't fit between the blades?

He loved it though we'll definitely be using this one again in the future. I love that it is dishwasher safe too. Because of that and the shape of the bottom, you can even feed wet food in this one. Just be sure to place it on an easy to clean surface if you do though. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Harrison and the Puzzles: The Wobblers

Harrison and I moved onto our next puzzle last night. At first I was just going to use the JW Treat Tower. However, I found out that with the size of kibble that I have it just fell out as I tried to load it. And that was adjusting the hole to its smallest size. It's made for a more average size kibble and it's not made to hold the volume of kibble that Harrison eats. It would be great for a 10# dog but not so much for a 30# dog.

So I just went to the closet and grabbed a 2nd wobbler style toy: the Busy Buddy Magic Mushroom. This one is my very favorite of all the wobblers that I have and I think I have about 4 types. What is great about it is it's easy to load and the holes that the kibble come out of are adjustable. You can also load a full meal in it easily. But the very best thing about it is that it requires a bit more thinking than your basic wobbler. You don't just roll it around and collect the kibble as it falls out. The mushroom has to be fully turned up on the cap end for the kibble to really come out in any volume. But then they have to roll it back over to be able to get the kibble out of the mushroom cap. The longer they play, you can start to see them figuring out how to increase the kibble and they stay pretty fascinated.

Harrison worked on the Treat Tower for a bit initially but tons of kibble came out if his nose even touched it. He quickly emptied that out and then moved on to the Magic Mushroom.

It was really fun watching him with the mushroom. I loved seeing him puzzle through the problem - looking at all the kibble in there and wondering how to get it out.

At one point I had to stop the game for a bit and take Frodo downstairs. By him being able to see what was going on, it set both him and Harrison up to engage in behaviors that I don't want to see - Frodo barking, whining and trying to steal food by sticking paws through the expen, and then Harrison snapping at him (resource guarding) for trying to steal his cool toy. I find it's always easier to change the environment a bit instead of trying to get them to change a behavior that comes naturally in a certain setting - in this case the setting being a dog on each side of a gate.

After that Harrison was back at it. Enjoying his dinner for a full ten minutes as he worked the puzzles. Stayed tuned for our next puzzle test...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Delivery Boy

We are always looking for new and interesting experiences for Harrison so when I left this morning to meet the dog food co-op delivery truck for my order I took Harrison along. 

Heading out on our adventure

I love taking foster dogs to deliveries because there are usually 10-12 people there waiting and I'm guaranteed that all of them are going to love dogs and not mind getting jumped on or licked. There are also sometimes a few dogs around so it is a great chance to see how a foster reacts to unknown dogs with pretty tolerant people. And finally, the meeting spot is a huge parking lot next to the mall that is mostly empty so a nice setting for practicing attention, leash walking, etc. 

Not too sure about the parking lot

Harrison was somewhat leery of the big parking lot at first and was doing a lot of shake offs but after a few minutes he relaxed and started to enjoy sniffing along the grow strips and peeing on trees. There are buildings everywhere - Toys R Us, Petco, Joanns - so he had a lot to take in. It was a perfect time to practice check ins. 

It's always nice to be able to get your dogs' attention when they are feeling overwhelmed or excited. Sometimes when Harrison is excited he will pull around on his leash and rarely looks at me or lets the leash slack up. We had lots of time since we arrived so early so I started clicking/treating him each time he happened to look at me. Pretty soon he was regularly checking in. Yay! The goal is to play this game often enough that checking in becomes a default behavior. He also was reinforced for looking at me when I called his name. It seems simple but Harrison is a teenage dog and he tends to turn off his ears when he's goofing around. Again, I want to build up a default behavior that when someone calls his name he offers them his attention.

A truck full of raw meat, bones and chews - what could be better!

Then the truck arrived and all the people got out of their cars to get their stuff. Harrison was in heaven. Man does he love people. He greets everyone as if they are a long lost friend and everyone greeted him back the same way. His exuberance is pretty contagious. 

Then it was back in the car for the ride home but the good news is I had picked up a big box of compressed rawhide bones and bully sticks so he had something to chew on for the boring drive home.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Harrison and the puzzles: The Drop

Harrison is a dog who loves to run and leap and bounce but thanks to his fractured fibula we need to do our best to help him keep all four feet on the ground. That means we're rotating toys daily so he always has a "brand new toy!" even if it is an old one covered in slobber that he just hasn't seen for a week.

Another time that there's a great opportunity to engage his brain is at meal times. I have a big bin full of food puzzles so tonight I figured I'd start working my way through the bin to keep things new and interesting for him.

While the excitement of this new thing loaded with his dinner kibble had him jogging around the bowl, he wasn't leaping from couch to coffee table to chair like he tends to do when he's bored. And it's the jumping that we really need to curb.

The puzzle he tried is called The Drop Slo-Bowl and he did great. Because he's underweight and also a big boy he gets a lot of kibble at each meal so this kept him busy for over 5 minutes. Pretty good considering he usually finishes it in under a minute.

You can see Frodo quickly finishes his dinner and really, really wants to come in have a turn.

Next we are going to try the JW Treat Tower. It's a newer puzzle and one that I've owned for awhile and never tried so we'll see how he likes it. Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Many things in this house are threadbare right now: the collar, belly band, and harness that Harrison chewed through, my patience and sanity...

The reason for this is that Harrison is a dog who was born to move. To be happy he needs room to run, leap, hop, bounce, and especially room to pee. Unfortunately because of his fractured fibula, he can do none of those things and he is bored and stir crazy. He has also basically "un-housetrained" himself in a matter of days. In fact, I just had to stop writing this because standing just 3 feet away from me he started to lift his leg - right after a trip outside to pee.

We need help. Not the kind found in a shot glass (which is something else he managed to break, by  the way) but Harrison needs distractions and something to keep his brain and mouth busy.

Along with several short walks to at least get him out emptying his bladder more often I am also adding some frozen Kongs for him. He doesn't last long crated and I need for him to tolerate at least 3-4 hours crated while I work.

Harrison sneaks a lick of the Kongs and bone, all ready to go in the freezer.

Bannanas, kibble and peanut butter and Honest Kitchen with ground rabbit

Tonight I stuffed 4 kongs and a bone with peanut butter, bananas, kibble and a couple with some Honest Kitchen and kibble. They are freezing and tomorrow when I leave for work he'll get his first one. Wish us luck because without some kind of luck there is no way we are going to last the 2-3 weeks of leash time the vet wants.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Harrison Goes to the Vet Clinic

Harrison still wasn't fully using his rear left leg so I called the vet and was able to get him in right away due to there being a last minute cancellation.

"Let's go back to the car!"

As always Harrison was a friendly boy, interested in exploring every corner of the office and happy to meet any humans or animals that came through the door.

Waiting for his exam

My vet, Dr. Sperlich, examined his leg and his hip and knee are solid. After x-rays and the exam though, a hairline fracture was found at the base of his fibula (right above the ankle.) Major tendons and ligaments seem intact and that is amazing news since I was worried that he might need orthopedic surgery to repair the complex ankle area.

Keeping the joint more stable

So he came home with an anti-inflammatory, a pain killer and a wrapped ankle. He needs to keep the ankle wrapped for the next week so that means he will also be wearing a cone since he was trying to chew off the wrap as soon as the doctor was done with him.

Back in the car and heading home

He's still getting the hang of the cone. At first his head dropped to the floor as if we'd tied a heavy weight to his head and when he walked he flung his leg around trying to shake the wrap off. It would have been amusing if I didn't feel so bad for him - he was clearly anxious about the wrap and cone. He's getting used to it now though and other than occasionally getting stuck on things he's doing well.

He's so bummed that he can't chase squirrels. Chasing squirrels is what caused this problem.

Resting up at home

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Too Much Bouncing

Harrison does not walk to get from place to place. He bounces, leaps off of things and pretty much looks like he is always doing parkour. From the floor to the back of the couch to the coffee table over to the armchair... He loves to move and thanks to his crazy long legs he can leap to just about anywhere. Combine that with his love of zooming around the back yard and leaping of our 2 foot rock wall at full speed and he has somehow injured his right rear leg.

Harrison, getting some lap time while he rests his ankle

At first he was holding it really high and now after a day of rest he is using it but mostly just to balance himself when standing or walking. Because he seems to be getting better fairly rapidly I am making him rest, limiting his running and jumping and watching him closely. Since running and jumping is how Harrison normally moves through space this is not easy on either of us. And since he has to be on leash when outside it's not going to be fun tomorrow when the predicted rain and windstorm hits us.

He is mostly managing his leash time well but most feels the pain of restraint when Chima and Sal are zipping around the yard hunting critters and he desperately wants to join in, crashing through shrubs and leaping off walls. Here's to hoping that his leg heals with miraculous speed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Couch Time with Harrison

Harrison learned a trick from Lizzy - you can find lots of toys under the couch and you can also hide under there so you don't have to share.

While I would have thought that he was too big to fit under there, he managed to squeeze himself under there just fine.

Of course, he likes stretching out on top of the couch as well.

Chima, Harrison and Lizzy

Chima and Harrison