2018 ends in pain

2018 wasn’t the best year on record – better than some. Worse than others. Until this week.

Anyone who uses Facebook has seen friends “sharing” their Facebook-generated “Your 2018” videos. Our “feeds” are full of them. We were kind of looking forward to our own popping up, until this week. This week 2018 went from a bit challenging to agonizing.

Teddy is gone

Hope’s 8-year-old French Bulldog, Teddy, died on Sunday. We were relaxing and watching television that evening. Teddy, as usual, was cuddled up next to Hope. He woke from his nap, panting and in distress. She ran with him to the emergency vet and learned that an unknown abdominal mass had ruptured and he was gravely ill. We couldn’t let him suffer and chose euthanasia.

A friend of ours told us: “Euthanasia is the last, best gift we give our pets. We take their pain and make it our own.” Teddy is free of pain. Ours is a throbbing behemoth.

Nothing stays the same

As everyone who’s lost a beloved pet knows – everything changes. Even with other animals in the house, everything’s different. And when you have multiple dogs, the dynamics of the family change.

As I (Hope) write this, we’re less than 48 hours without Teddy. Tango is sleeping more. Booker isn’t sure what to do with himself. Torque is unwilling to play. They’re not actively looking, but they know Teddy is missing.

Simon is barely four months old – a happy, clueless puppy. Thank goodness he’s here – we need to smile.

Feeling cheated

Beyond sad and unsettled, we also feel cheated, in an odd way. We’ve mentioned before that Teddy was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) early in the summer. It’s a fatal disease the takes away a dog’s ability to move, progressing from back to front. It’s caused by the same gene mutation responsible for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Battle plan

Hope had a plan in place to battle back against DM:

Rear lift assist harness
  • Special diet
  • Supplements
  • Physical therapy exercises to replace nerve loss with muscle memory
  • Massage
  • Cold laser
  • Training games to keep him engaged, thinking, and happy
  • Rear lift harness (pictured) purchased & ready when needed
  • Pet stroller so Teddy would never be left behind

The best-laid plans

Now all of it’s useless. Teddy saw his vets last Friday for routine stuff, including a check-in to evaluate the progression of his disease. They were thrilled with how he was doing – still walking. Still happy. They even got Teddy kisses. Six months after DM diagnosis, most dogs are “down” in the back. Teddy was still mobile. They tell us they fully expected him to have at least a year, very possibly more, before the DM took over.

So we were winning the daily battle against DM. And now?

No enemy to fight

This will sound like a non-sequitur, but stay with us for a minute: Is anybody out there a fan of the Monkees? Or even remember them? We were huge fans when we were kids.

Remember the song “Zor and Zam?”

The last line keeps playing in my mind: “They gave a war, and nobody came. And nobody came.”

How to get your dog to love Pawz boots

It’s December. If it snows where you are – your dog needs Pawz boots.

In our decade-plus of experience, Pawz are the only dog boots that stay on, dogs don’t mind wearing, and don’t make you crazy if your dog loses one.

We can hear the resistance:

  • My dog won’t wear boots
  • I can’t get them on
  • They look like balloons
  • Pawz aren’t warm
  • The boots don’t fit

If that sounds like you – you’re doing it wrong. Perfectly understandable – because no one ever told you how to do it right.

We’re here to help

Using Pawz is a bit of a process, but it’s one you only have to do once. We’ll take you through step-by-step so we get it right the first time and you and your dog can live happily ever after.

What are Pawz?Fluffy in Pawz boots

Pawz are semi-disposable, natural rubber dog boots that come in packages of 12. They can be re-used as long as they stay intact. Keeping them clean (rinsing after use) and keeping the dog’s nails short, extends the life of the boot. On city sidewalks, a single boot may be good for 10 or so outings, depending on the surface and the dog.

Warmth isn’t really an issue for dogs. As long as their feet are dry, with no snowballs between their toes, no melting ice on their nails, most dogs don’t care. If you’re still uncomfortable, you can get socks to put on underneath the Pawz. For the smallest dogs, you may have to go to the toy department and get doll socks, otherwise baby or toddler socks would be fine.

First: Fitting Pawz right

Most dog owners haven’t noticed that their dogs’ front feet are wider than the hind feet. Or they may have noticed, but the implication didn’t sink in. Your dog may need two different sizes of Pawz. Which is another reason these are the best boots – you don’t have to spend a fortune for two different sizes.

The best way to get a proper fit is to bring your dog into Golly Gear and let us do it.

Unfortunately, that’s probably not possible for most of you.

measuring for Pawz The second best way is to get: a piece of paper, a pencil, some kind of measure, a couple of dog treats, and your dog. Go into a room with a hard floor (wood, tile, laminate). Have your dog stand on the paper and mark each side of the dog’s paw. You don’t need to trace the paw, you don’t need the front or back – just the sides. Do it for a front paw and a back paw. Give your dog a cookie and let him/her go play.

Measure twice

Measure the distance between your marks and compare it to the “Paw Width” column on the Pawz page on our website here. If both your dog’s paws fall into the same size – terrific! If not, plan on getting two different sizes for your dog. Probably the larger size for the front, especially if your dog has dew claws. The smaller size will generally be for the back paws.

Getting your dog to love his/her Pawz

Most dog boots don’t bend. And the smallest sizes bend even less. It’s one of the reasons most dogs hate boots. And why they resist wearing them and can fling them off.

Another reason they hate boots is because they can’t feel the ground under their feet. Most people don’t care about feeling the ground, but dogs do. It’s what they’re used to and they rely on it to connect to the world around them. When they see they’re outside, they don’t expect a smooth surface under their feet. It creates a disconnect that can result in an unhappy dog.

Get used to it

When you first get Pawz for your dog it will be very new for both of you. You have to figure out how to get them on the dog. And the dog has to figure out how to navigate wearing them. We’re going to make it easy. Watch the video on our Pawz page on how to get them on. It’s easier to show than describe.

Do it one at a time

The dog’s hind paws are less flexible than the front, so they’re easier to maneuver the Pawz onto. The very first time you’re trying Pawz, or, if your dog has resisted in the past and you’re trying to re-introduce them, here’s what you do: put one Pawz on a rear dog paw. Do it in the house, with your dog on leash. Put on the boot, then just walk around the house, talking calmly to your dog. Let him get used to the boot for a few minutes. If he/she is adjusting fine, put another boot on the opposite front foot. And again, just walk around, letting him/her get used to it.

Generally speaking, introduced this way, most dogs adjust easily to wearing Pawz in just a few minutes. If your dog is extremely resistant, leave one boot on for 10 minutes or so, then take it off and try again later.

Don’t make a fuss

Please resist the temptation to laugh at your dog while he/she gets used to Pawz. Some dogs are pretty sensitive and don’t like being laughed at, regardless of how funny they look. Dogs trying to walk without putting their feet on the floor is pretty funny, but be strong! You can do it!

You can also get your dog used to wearing Pawz. Get the right fit, take your time, go at your dog’s pace. It’ll be worth it. Your dog will walk comfortably outside through snow, ice, and salt. And stay out long enough to finish his/her business!

 

Blizzard adventure! Freezing – yes! Fun – not so much

We had a blizzard adventure this week!

Golly Gear is just north of Chicago, which was hit by a blizzard Sunday night/Monday morning. We also live in Skokie, the suburb where the shop is located.

The sound of silence

At 4 o’clock Monday morning, our entire household (two sisters, five dogs, one lizard) woke to the sound of nothing. In our connected world, I don’t think we even realize how much noise, how many sounds, are an intrinsic part of our daily lives. When it all turns off – it’s deafening.

A power outage isn’t the end of the world. We know that. But it’s damned inconvenient, especially when you have a desert lizard and a four-month-old puppy. And the forecast says nothing but below freezing for days.

If it was just us sisters – we’d pack a couple of bags by flashlight and check into a local hotel (with power) for a day. Not so simple with the dogs.

It’s complicated

We make our own dog food. Some eat raw, others cooked. We also keep their systems accustomed to a quality kibble for “just in case” episodes. This was one of those cases. You open the fridge and freezer as little as possible during an outage. So the dogs thought they were having a rare treat – a whole meal of kibble!

We actually didn’t start getting concerned until it was time to go to the shop and the power was still out. Our local power company has, historically, been pretty good about restoring service promptly. Six hours in, the “outage map” told us crews were “being assigned.” The cause of the outage was “severe weather” and restoration estimate was “damage being assessed.”

No way out

Another consequence we sort of forgot about was only having one available car. The other? Securely locked in the unattached garage behind the electric garage door. Oops.blizzard scene

So Fran, having parked on the street, went to see how the shop fared. Fortunately, power was on there, internet was on. We may not have had a good place to live, but we were still in business. Unfortunately, the shop isn’t large enough or set up so we could bring our dogs, not to mention transporting the bearded dragon.

Creativity is key

Meanwhile, Hope was getting creative at home. The temperature was dropping about a degree an hour in the house. She huddled on the couch with five dogs. But when the temperature was down to 61 degrees and there was still no update from the power company, she worried about the dragon. Good husbandry says they shouldn’t get below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

The only non-electric heat source was the outdoor barbecue grill – under six inches of snow. Hope knocked off the snow and ice, dragged off the frozen cover, and put a pot of water on the grill to heat. She found a couple of hot water bottles. Diogenes (the lizard) got one. Hope and the dogs shared the other.

There’s no people like dog people

Meanwhile – we came to appreciate that we have the most wonderful friends in the world. Hope used a bit of cell phone power to post an update and, within moments, had four friends offer shelter to the whole crew – including the lizard. We’ve said it before and we’ll repeat it until everybody believes – dog people are the best in the world!

But it’s daunting to consider packing up a household of eight souls – even for a night. With still no power company update, we looked for alternatives. And found an indoor-safe, propane heater available at a store just a short drive away.

Blizzard action plan!

Fran loaded up the day’s orders from the shop, dashed off to the store (and the post office) and saved the day!

When Fran & the heater got home, the temperature was 58 degrees and still falling. We got the heater going and Hope went back into the puppy huddle while Fran got back to business. (Taking Hope’s cell phone and charger.)

At 2:30 p.m., with no advance update, the power came on!

Just when Hope and the dogs were starting to feel cozy with the heater, of course. But that’s just fine with us. If/when a blizzard happens again, we’ll be better prepared. Even better when we get an oil lamp, for just-in-case days, like Monday.

Reverse sneezing – sounds scarier than it is

Reverse sneezing is terrifying the first time you see it.

You think your dog is having some kind of horrible asthmatic, choking, wheezing seizure. You think a trip to the emergency vet is in your immediate future, and that your dog’s life is threatened.

No such thing.

Don’t worry. Be happy!

Reverse sneezing is common, especially in short-faced dogs. And especially in small dogs. The medical terms for it are “inspiratory paroxysmal respiration,” “mechanosensitive aspiration reflex,” and “pharyngeal gag reflex.” Basically, it means that instead of blowing out when the dog sneezes, he (or she) sucks air in.

Having had small, short-faced dogs all of our lives, we’re used to it. Back in the day, when we first asked our veterinarian about it, we learned it was pretty common and nothing to worry about. It’s usually no more serious than a regular sneeze.

But the dog may pass out

The most striking thing he told us was that the worst that could happen was our dog would pass out from lack of air. When he was unconscious we could open his mouth and free up his airway. No harm done.

Fortunately, none of our dogs has ever gotten to the point of fainting from a reverse sneeze. Some dogs (including one of ours) panic when it happens, which does prolong the episode and requires intervention to break the cycle.

Roc always looked shocked when Hope sneezed!

On a side note – and just because it’s kind of funny – Hope’s Brussels Griffon boy Roc would freak out when Hope sneezed. Or coughed. Basically, he got this outraged look on his face when his mom’s face made any noise other than talking. She managed to capture “the look” one time. Thought you’d get a kick out of it.

 

 

How do you know your dog is reverse sneezing?

Most dogs signal a reverse sneeze about to happen by coming to a standstill, elbows out, head either extended down or thrown back. At this point, it could be either vomit or reverse sneezing about to happen. Then they let out a “snorking” sound that lets you know it’s a reverse sneeze.

Dogs that panic when they reverse sneeze will worsen the situation in their distress. They try to gasp for air while their soft palate is extended. When they can’t breathe, they get more distressed, which circles back again.

Make it stop!

We have lots of ways of trying to stop the panic and get them calm and breathing normally again. The first is just to offer them a treat. Most of our dogs are highly food motivated. You can almost see the dialogue bubble over their heads: Should I stop and get a cookie? Or do I need to continue choking over here?

Another technique to try is to block their nostrils, pinch the nose gently, so that they have to open their mouths to get air. You can also gently massage the dog’s throat while you do. Remember to speak calmly and soothingly – let your dog know it’s nothing to be scared of. These work a good portion of the time, too. For a mild episode, it’s enough.

When things are a bit worse, we step up to the next level. We ask for a kiss. All of our dogs are huge kissers and will generally stop whatever they’re doing if they see an available face to slobber on. Again, it just breaks the panic cycle and lets their mouth and tongue get back in a more normal configuration.

These distraction techniques have worked most of the time to get our dogs out of panic mode and back to normal.

If that doesn’t work

On the rare occasions they failed, with some dogs we would actually stick our thumbs in their mouths to push up the soft palate and allow air to get in their windpipe. With one other, we couldn’t – her “bite inhibition” wasn’t good, and we weren’t willing to risk it. We were willing to let her pass out to get her breathing back to normal.

Since we knew what was happening and what the “worst case scenario” would be – it wasn’t worth being bitten. That’s a judgement call that every dog owner has to decide for herself.

Pay attention and prevent

What can you do to prevent reverse sneezing?

Paying attention is the first step. According to Veterinarian Karen Becker, the most common causes are: “excitement, exercise intolerance, a collar that’s too tight, pulling on the leash, an environmental irritant like pollen, perfume, or even a household chemical or cleaner, room sprays, or even a sudden change in temperature.” If you notice it happening under similar circumstances on multiple occasions, chances are you’ve discovered the trigger and can take steps to avoid or prevent the episode.

As frightening as reverse sneezing can look and sound, it’s not a big deal. If your dog does it chronically, it’s probably worth mentioning it to your vet. Remember to be calm for your dog and yourself – you’re not worried when your dog sneezes. Reverse sneezing isn’t any more serious.

Sick dogs – the downside to having a pack

We always say that two dogs is better than one. There are lots of advantages (dogs learn from each other, keep each other company, play together, etc.). The only downside is when a virus rampages there’s a houseful of sick dogs. They drop like dominoes, one by one.

Cue the spew

It happened to us last November. Torque was the first to fall prey to whatever plague it was that turned our house into a spew festival. Unsavory, unmentionable, unattractive, and unaromatic secretions were coming out of every opening. And he was just the first sick dog.

Torque was a sick dogThey fell, one by one, prey to the vicious little bug that crept in. Next it was Tango, then Booker. We were hoping, when Teddy seemed healthy after a week, that the onslaught was over. No such luck. He resisted like a trooper, but succumbed in the end.

Why are we revisiting this unpleasantness? Because we were afraid (and are still somewhat worried) that it was about to start again. Last Friday was the last time Torque kept a meal down. Sometimes we’d see it again almost instantaneously. Other times, hours would pass.

Sick dogs – time to visit the vet

By Monday, we figured it was time to see the veterinarian. After a couple of days, dogs, like people, can get dehydrated, so we wanted to make sure that wasn’t happening. It wasn’t an urgent situation (Blue Pearl lists the symptoms that would require an emergency vet visit.) But in our case, it obviously wasn’t going to resolve on its own.

Worrywart that she is, Hope started imagining all of the horrible things that it could be: obstruction, ulcer, or (heaven forfend) a repeat appearance of the spew virus that ruined last November. That would be particularly alarming with a new puppy in the house. (Have you seen Fran’s Simon on social media? He’s a little joy!)

Our vet is an old-fashioned, calm, go slow, don’t-panic kind of person. She’s definitely a hands-on-the-dog vet, and since she’s know all of ours since they were pups, she knows when they’re not normal and we have sick dogs.

Inquiring minds want to know

So – while she’s examining all of Torque’s bits, Hope’s getting the inquisition:

When did it start?

Did you see him eat anything unusual?

Is anything missing? (This one was specifically directed – about 15 or more years ago, our Razzmatazz (Brussels Griffon)  ate one of Hope’s shoe insoles. She never missed it.)

Has there been a change in his food?

Is the schedule different?

Is it a new batch of food?

When does he throw up – right after he eats, or later?

What does it look like? Do you recognize bits of food?

Does it smell like food or sour?

Is he acting normally?

Playful?

Sleepy?

Grumpy?

Any coughing or sneezing? (Running out of Snow White’s dwarfs now.)

When did he poop last? Was it normal?

Has he tried to poop and nothing happened?

Is he drinking water? More or less than usual?

And every single question gives the vet a little more information about my sick dog.

Take note of changes

We’re hopeful that it was just a rather severe tummy upset. From her exam and our answers, the vet didn’t think it was an obstruction. Torque’s treatment is a bland diet for a few days, and a couple of medications to get him back on track. After two days (knocking madly on wood), he seems better. And there are no other sick dogs in the house (knocking more!).

You might ask why we’re trampling over your delicate sensibilities to go over all this. Because all those questions are things that every dog owner should pay attention to. When your dog is out of sorts, or sick, we need to notice differences. That information could help our sick dogs get well.

 

Collapsing Trachea in small dogs – how to cope

Does your dog honk like a goose when you go for a walk? Do you avoid playing with your dog so he/she doesn’t start coughing? Does the hacking start as soon as your dog gets excited Is he/she overweight? Is your dog a toy breed? Your dog may be suffering with Collapsing Trachea.

Collapsing Trachea isn’t your fault, and, in most cases, can be managed without surgery and with an excellent long-term prognosis. According to Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker, the majority of dogs with the condition do just fine with “medical” management.

So what is Collapsing Trachea and how do dogs “get” it? VetStreet says it happens when “the trachea’s normally firm cartilage rings of support are softer and less supportive than they should be. In these cases, inhaling air during the normal act of breathing can cause the trachea to collapse on itself (much like a flimsy straw would with a thick milkshake), which typically elicits a hacking cough.”

Don’t blame yourself – you didn’t cause Collapsing Trachea!

And don’t blame yourself – Collapsing Trachea is an inherited condition. We haven’t done anything to cause it. And there’s quite a few things we can do to keep it under control.

The most important thing is to stop the cycle of throat irritation and inflammation. Veterinarians often prescribe cough suppressants, bronchodilators, and even steroids to get the flare-up under control. But there are things you can do help your dog breathe better right at home.

Use a harness

Don’t use a collar. Find a harness that fits your dog right. There’s no single harness that suits every dog, person, or situation. That’s why we carry so many different styles in a variety of sizes, materials, and colors. There’s one that will be perfect for you and your dog. If you need some Use harnesses to minimize Collapsing Trachea symptomshelp, you can use our Do It Yourself Online Harness Selector, or ask for personalized help from our expert staff. We’d love it if everyone could bring their dogs into the shop for a custom fitting – but we’ll make sure you and your dog are happy before we consider any order complete.

Watch their weight!

Next is to make sure your dog is the proper weight. According to Veterinarian Dr. Jean Dodds, “Additional pounds or ounces cause respiratory distress because hauling weight around requires a higher level of exertion.” This may be even harder, says Dr. Dodds, if the dog is on medication for the condition, “Many pet parents may struggle with this point if their companion dogs require exercise restriction or are taking corticosteroids prescribed to dampen the inflammation as they often cause weight gain. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Other ways to help

You can also help your dog by minimizing anxiety as much as possible. If your dog tends to be “high strung” and easily excitable, you might consider supplementing with CBD treats or oil. CBD is the non-psychoactive, healing compound derived from hemp.

Other ways to ease the symptoms of Collapsing Trachea include: adding some moisture to dry food to minimize irritation, and using some natural supplementation of glucosamine and chondroitin to reduce deterioration of the cartilage. In fact, Beef Trachea chew treats are a good source of these nutrients.

Who’s at risk?

There are specific breeds that are most prone to problems with Collapsing Trachea, including: Chihuahua, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Pomeranian, Pug, Shih Tzu, Toy Poodle and Yorkshire Terriers. Those vulnerable would also include any mixed-breeds that include these.

While Collapsing Trachea is a serious concern, there are many ways to help your dog breathe easier.

Dog mobility tips – Keep your dog moving in comfort

Getting old ain’t for sissies – either human or canine! Dog mobility issues can crop up at any time, due to age, injury, or illness. We want to do everything we can to alleviate pain and to make our dogs’ lives easier.

We’ve been fortunate in the past – none of our dogs really had major issues with getting around. Even our oldest dogs were able to maneuver with stairs or ramps to beds and couches. And, of course, one of the advantages we have with our small dogs is that we can carry them!

Age isn’t the only dog mobility issue

While none of our current dogs is “old” – just this summer Hope’s eight-year-old French Bulldog Teddy was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, the canine equivalent of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease). He’s losing coordination in his hind end. This progressive, incurable disease will inevitably rob him of mobility.

So we’re learning all kinds of “tricks of the trade” for keeping Teddy’s independent mobility. His feet start sliding out from under him on wood or tile floors. So the decor at the house now includes not-very-stylish but extremely practical yoga mats in the Teddy-trafficked areas. A great find – if you have “Five Below” stores around you – yoga mats are, in fact, $5!

The mats aren’t practical everywhere – some areas are just too tight, or there are doorways that won’t clear over the mats, or they need to come up so we can vacuum and wash floors.

Boots can help

We’ve also used Pawz dog boots for Ted. If you ever search for “dogs in boots” on YouTube, you’ll see countless hilarious examples of dogs trying to walk without putting their feet down. The “get this thing off me” expressions are priceless.

Pawz aren’t like that. Dogs tend not to hate them as much because they can still feel the ground under their feet. The natural rubber allows traction without “losing touch.” We just put them on Teddy’s back feet. They can’t stay on for hours on end, but if he’s “helping” with the housework, it’s a solution that works.

Stairs and ramps

We already mentioned stairs and ramps. Teddy’s lost the ability to go up a regular flight stairs now, so we carry him up and down. He is able to negotiate pet steps and ramps, so those have taken the place of coffee tables and nightstands at our house.

stroller for dog mobilityTeddy is still able to walk, although he tires easily and his back legs start to shake. We got a stroller for him so he’ll never be left behind. In all honesty, Teddy was never all that fond of going for walks, anyway. He was always more of a “sit on the couch and eat bonbons” personality than an athlete. Torque, Hope’s other Frenchie, is a goer and doer. So Torque goes and does, and Teddy watches from his stroller “throne.”

Dealing with pain and anxiety

One of the things we all worry about with our ill or old dogs is pain. None of us want our best friends to suffer! The “good” part of Teddy’s Degenerative Myelopathy is no pain is associated with the disease. Apparently it just kills off the nerves, from back to front, but doesn’t cause pain.

At first, Teddy seemed distressed, almost frightened, when his back legs didn’t do what he wanted them to do. He’s never been a particular anxious dog, but we could see the confusion in his expression. Because it wasn’t a constant state, we didn’t want to start him on anti-anxiety medication. Instead, we chose to start him on CBD oil. We’ve talked about our decision to carry it here in the shop and the testimonials we’ve gotten from dog owners convinced us it was the right thing to do. Now we can add our own voices to the testimonials. Teddy is still himself, and his legs still fail him at times, but he accepts his life as it is and gets back to chewing on his chews, or playing with his brother, or just carrying on with whatever business he has.

More common issues dog owners face, like arthritis or disc disease, may involve pain as well as difficulty in getting around. We all love our dogs and most of us are willing to try whatever we can to make their lives happy and comfortable. Dog mobility is part of that equation.

Keep in touch!

Every dog owner makes decisions based on what’s right for his own dog and family. For now, we’re coping with Teddy’s mobility issues just fine. If we can help you, with questions you may have, with products you may need, please get in touch. We’re here to help.

 

Why does my dog do that?

As a dog professional one of the questions we get most often is “Why does my dog ___?”

We don’t know. No one knows. And our dogs can’t tell us.

Dog “whys”

Why does Tango bark so much

If the question is something behavioral – we also don’t care. We deal with the situation, not the cause. It’s hard for some people to wrap their minds around that. We’ll never know what caused the behavior in the first place.

Our job is dealing with what is.

Fixing the problem

We got a question this week from a person whose dog gets crazy when her car’s windshield wipers go on. The dog’s owner speculated that the dog viewed the wipers as a threat, and was being protective. Maybe that’s true. We don’t know and the dog’s not talking.

There are three ways we can deal with any not-ideal behavior:
Ignore it.
Manage it.
Train it.

You’re the only one who can decide which of the three paths you’ll take.

Every dog owner’s tolerance is different, and how your household works is no one’s business but yours. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Ignore it

If it’s something that makes you go “huh, that’s interesting,” it may not be worth the time and effort involved in changing it. It doesn’t particularly bother you, so you can ignore it.

Manage it

If it’s an occasional occurrence that you can prepare for and secure the situation in advance, it could be that management is a good option for you. For example, if you’re having work done on your house and expecting plumbers, painters, or other professionals, you may not need to train your dog to greet them politely and allow them to go about their business. This may be a case where you secure the dog in another area of the house and deal with the temporary inconvenience.

Fix it

Why is my dog reactive to windshield wipersBut if it’s a part of everyday life that your dog isn’t good at dealing with, it may be time to pull out the training kit and get busy. There are times when you must use the windshield wipers. And it would be really nice if your dog didn’t care.

This is the time to train your dog.

Again, we’re not trying to psychoanalyze the dog to help it cope with the trauma of windshield wipers. We’re going to use positive reinforcement training to help the dog deal with the reality.

You can’t do that in the midst of the trauma. If you’re driving down the highway and the skies open, pouring down cats and dogs (sorry, we couldn’t resist), it’s not the time to train your dog. Or yell at it. For that moment, it’s an “ignore it.”

When you’re home and the car is parked on the driveway or in the street, that’s the time to take a few minutes to condition your dog to either ignore, or even enjoy, the windshield wipers.

Get some incredibly yummy treats (about 10) and go out to the car with the dog. Give the dog two treats. Turn on the windshield wipers for a second. Turn them off. Give the dog a treat.

Do it again until you’re out of treats. It won’t take more than a couple of minutes. You can do it again later, but not too much at a time.

The next day, or week, or whenever you have a chance, turn on the wipers and give the treat when the wipers are on. Then turn them off. On=treat. Off=no treat. When the 10 treats are gone, you’re done.

Step by step

We’re sure you see the progression. Gradually increase the length of time between turning on the wipers and giving the treat. Wait until the dog is quiet before you give the treat. Be patent and grow the behavior gradually. If you take too large a step and the dog regresses, just take a step back and go a bit slower.

There’s no deadline for either you or your dog. It took a while for the behavior to become habit – it takes just as long (or longer) to reverse it.

As much as we’d love to know why our dogs do certain things – we can’t. We can help them deal with whatever it is. And everyone will live happier ever after.

The perfect dog harness

You and your dog are special. There’s no other person/pup duo like yours. Your relationship is unique, your situation is one-of-a-kind, and your challenges and joys are singularly yours. There is a perfect dog harness for you.

Case 1: Oreo

For example: a close neighbor here at the shop has two little dogs: Panda and Oreo. Panda is a delightful, feminine, playful Japanese Chin. Oreo is not as easy to love – he’s a Shih Tzu who had a rough start in life and has some issues.

Shih Tzu Oreo and Japanese Chin PandaOreo can’t easily be handled and isn’t very trusting. Their owner, a woman with some mobility challenges, needs a harness she can leave on Oreo all the time. He refuses to put up with much handling.

Leaving a harness on all the time isn’t something we recommend. It’s too easy, especially for small dogs, to get caught on something and wind up in trouble. But in this case, with the dual circumstance of an aggressive dog and a disabled owner, we had to find a good solution.

The perfect dog harness for Oreo is the Yellow Dog Design Step-in. The strappy harness won’t make him too hot. Oreo has a good coat of fur. It’s smooth and won’t cause tangling. And no one has to reach underneath or fuss much with the buckle, since it’s a pinch clasp at the shoulder blades.

Fitting Oreo’s harness required gloves and many, many, many Chicken Heart Treats! We feel great when we see him walking around the neighborhood with his person. They’re both comfortable and safe.

Case 2: Coconut

Coconut, a Miniature Poodle, escaped from every harness his owners tried. His perfect dog harness is the Wrap-N-Go. It’s contained Coconut for several years now. But, on occasion, we still ask his people to bring Coconut in when we get new styles. Just so we know how long it takes a Houdini dog to wriggle out of them.

There is a perfect harness for every dog – but it’s not the same for all dogs. You and your dog’s individual circumstances and quirks will dictate which of dozens of harnesses suit your walking style best.

We love getting to know you and your dogs and finding the solutions that make everyone safe, comfortable, and happy.

Try our online Do It Yourself Harness Picker anytime to check out a few recommendations from our experts.

For a highly personalized recommendation, submit a Harness Selector form. We’ll get to know a little about you and your dog and give specific make, model, and size options for you and your dog.

Dipping one toe over the line – CBD available here

We’ve always been “good girls.”

Well, Fran more than Hope, but both of us pretty much play by the rules. We do what we’re supposed to do, when we’re supposed to do it, are polite and truly believe in doing the right thing.

Introduction to CBD

Now we’re stepping a bit over the line.

We decided to start carrying CBD oil in our shop. We understand that some consider it controversial, and it’s possible to get in some trouble. But it’s important for us to offer the best possible care for our dogs – and yours.

For those unfamiliar – hemp is the source for CBD oil. Yup, marijuana plants. Research is showing that CBD may have tremendous therapeutic benefits for both people and dogs. Among other cited possibilities: relief from pain, anxiety, epilepsy, arthritis, seizures, neurological ailments, sleep disorders, and possibly even cancer.

Getting support

Our interest in CBD oil was piqued when it was mentioned in a support group Hope has joined. Teddy, her 8-year-old French Bulldog, has been diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). DM is a genetic, neurological disease. It’s the canine equivalent of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). It’s a progressive condition that steals mobility from dogs as it deadens the nerves of the spinal cord. The first sign in dogs is usually “knuckling” – when the dog drags its back feet.

There is no cure for DM. No treatment exists. Those of us with dogs suffering from DM hope to slow the progression of the disease with exercise, massage, diet, and supplementation.

No professional help

So Hope talked to our veterinarian about various supplements that may have an effect. She tried to talk about CBD – but the veterinarians can’t talk about it. Veterinarians’ licenses come from the federal government in the U.S. Vets, technically, cannot discuss a “Schedule 1” substance without risk to their licenses.

As pet owners, we’re on our own with this.

The research we’ve been able to find, on our own and with the help of others, seems to indicate that CBD can help open the neural receptors that die with DM. And, rather than do nothing, we’ll try.

We know it will do no harm.

Certified organic

CBD oil, while made from hemp plants, has none of the phychoactive compound that can make anyone (including dogs) “high.” The company we’re using grows all of its own hemp in Colorado, and it’s certified organic – another important consideration for us. The only other ingredient is safflower carrier oil – also organic.

We got Teddy’s diagnosis in July. We’d been doing on homework on CBD, talking to different companies and learning more about it. And then, serendipitously, a fellow Skokie merchant, who we’ve known for years, stopped in to talk about his venture into CBD products.

Life saver – maybe

A lifeline tossed into our bit of ocean. We found an expert we already knew and trusted.

When he offered us the opportunity to carry Suzie’s CBD oil and dog treats in our shop, we jumped at the chance. Not only has Teddy started on the oil, we’re happy to be able to offer them to you, as well.

We don’t quite know what will happen with this new product. It’ll be a challenge to let people know it’s available here – Google and Facebook won’t let us advertise. And we found out our friend’s bank closed his account (banks are federally licensed).

So these “good girls” are dipping our toes into some muddy, gray waters. But it’s the right thing to do for our dogs – and yours.