Saturday, November 24, 2007

Why two are better than one

Two dogs generally equal more work...two to bathe...two to groom...two to feed. But the benefits outweigh the perceived disadvantages.

For one thing, bathing two is not too much harder than bathing one. Throw both of them in the tub and you're done in 10 minutes. Feeding? Two don't eat much more than one, especially these little guys. Grooming? So it takes 30 minutes instead of 15 minutes.

Our oldest was depressed before Rocki came along. I didn't realize it at the could you? But after we got Rocki, Bruiser realized he had a purpose. He took it upon himself to treat Rocki like his own child...he taught him the rules of the house through body language, growls and barks. Rocki is always clean...Bruiser "washes" his eyes, ears and face every night and Rocki has learned the routine and reciprocates with his brother. I no longer have to purchase expensive products to clean the dirt from their eyes because they look after each other. After their outdoor bathroom break? Again, they clean each other off, thanks to Bruiser for teaching this to the little one.

Play time? It's fun time now that they have a live body to chase toys with, jump on couches with, and generally run amok with. I don't have to worry as much about them getting exercise because they exercise each other. When one is too dragged out, one will motive the other to run through the house and up and down the stairs, through the living room and round and round the tables until each of them collapes from exhaustion.

Psychologically they are such happy little guys because they have a companion just like them to chum around with. When company comes...sure, there's a bit of competition for attention...but in the end they are buddies through and through and share the pats, the hugs and kisses.

When I first suggested getting a companion for Bruiser, my husband looked at me like I had grown horns. After I brought Rocki home, he admitted that it was the best thing we could have done.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Shih-Tzu "Racetrack"

Anyone that has a Shih-Tzu knows about the racetrack. Even when our oldest was small, he would often get that little gleam in his eye, jump up and start running as fast as he could around the coffee table until he dropped from exhaustion. As time went on, the circles around the table widened to encompass the kitchen island and any other area he could use to create a little "track" where he ran like a wild dog. All you saw was a flash of white...if you blinked, you missed him.

When we got his brother, the racetrack continued, except there were two of them running their little hearts out. It's something that's in the breed...they get it into their head that they're going to run and all hell breaks loose! If you start opening doors, all of a sudden the staircase, the living room, the kitchen and the family room become part of the track where they run as fast as they can in wide, sweeping circles until they finally collapse and succumb to a little nap.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

What do you know about the person grooming your dog?

Bear with me as I tell you a story of what happened to our dogs and hopefully will never happen to yours.

I used to have a mobile groomer, and for us this was a great setup. She came to the house, had her own equipment, and she allowed me to help keep the dogs calm while she snipped and shaved. This also gave me the opportunity to ensure that my pets were treated well and felt comfortable. Although she was nice, there was something that ate at me which I dismissed.

Then, she had a baby. At that point, she decided not do mobile grooming but invited us to bring our little boys to her home where she had a room set aside for this purpose. We brought our dogs to her home twice. The first time they came out looking horrible...some areas seemed groomed and other areas looked like she didn't bother with them. We brushed it off as being distracted by her new baby (even though her husband was home). Although she seemed a bit snippy, I chalked it up to fatigue and told my husband we'd give her another chance.

The second time our appointment was at 12:00. Because she lives about a 1/2 hour drive away, we mistimed the drive and ended up arriving 10 minutes early. So we went to the door anyway. After all, if you are running a home based business, you can expect people to be 15 minutes early or 15 minutes late depending on traffic, etc. Well, we got to the door and her less-than-hospitable husband answered. We were made to feel like we were somehow intruding but he very begrudgingly let us in. She came to the door, took the dogs and we left. She called two hours later to say the dogs were ready and we came back to the house. Her husband was a completely different person...calm, relaxed but yet there was something not quite right. She was very rude, talked to me like I was some sort of idiot and demanded a much higher rate than we had ever paid.

Within a week of the grooming, my husband and I took our boys to their mother's home while we flew to California for two weeks. My husband's cousin, who owns their mother, is a dog lover and always takes excellent care of our boys. When we returned, her husband pointed out that when he showed them a stick that he was going to throw for them to chase, my boys automatically cowered and laid prone on the grass in submission. I found this odd as our dogs have never been hit with anything, not even a hand, in our home. I filed that away in my memory bank. One day I raised my hand to pat the oldest one (like I've done many times without a problem) he immediately cowered and went into a submissive pose. He had never, ever done that before. I became suspicious because the only place my dogs were ever left alone were at the groomer. I decided that I would find a new groomer as she seemed to be short tempered and angry now rather than take a chance with her.

So, one day I called a number of groomers. I got a lot of voice messages and each said none of them were taking new clients. I was kind of desperate so I remembered we had once gone to Petcetera and they did a good job so I called them. Also, I remembered that their grooming area used to be completely enclosed in glass so I thought that there was no chance of the dogs being abused since the groomer was on view to everyone in the store. The one near our place did not have a groomer anymore but were in the process of hiring one so I called one slighly further out and got an appointment right away. I was kind of surpised but happy because the boys needed cuts and nail clipping. I dropped them off, left my number, and went shopping while I waited.

When I picked them up, the oldest had slightly longer hair but the youngest was shaved to the bone. And I mean, to the bone! There were patches of pink skin where he was clipped harshly. There was a huge chunk take out above his nose. For three days now, he is shaking, will not leave my side, and jumps when the raw areas (particularly around his private parts) irritate him. I have never in my life seen such a butchering job on a dog. I don't know where their groomer got her license, but I suspect it was in a meat packing plant.

I trim my dogs on a regular basis and they are used to scissors. I also trim around their eyes and they are very calm when I do it. So to have someone, like the Petcetera groomer ("oh...he moved a couple of times"), make out like they were not makes me suspicious.

So this is my story. Please check out your groomer. If you have a new one, make sure you investigate them and for the first couple of times, insist that you stay and watch the process. I wish I had but I never thought that a company as large as Petcetera would be so callous when hiring a groomer.