“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

My life revolves around dogs and cats right now

We are petsitting my sister's Rhodesian Ridgebacks for a week, until she and her husband return from Kyoto. She has an adult male, Cerebus, and a puppy, Orion. Cerebus and my Rottweiler, Fargo, decided to have a fight at 5 am Saturday morning, while husband was taking Sister and BIL to the airport. No blood drawn, but Fargo (photo above) got a puncture under his eye. Nothing a little antibiotic treatment can't help, but I'm the one with the ugly bruises from trying to break it up. I know what you're thinking- the problem is that I was NOT thinking- didn't I just say it was 5 AM? From now on, we won't give them an opportunity to go face to face.
Later, while playing with the puppy, he snapped at the toy I was holding and grabbed the soft part of my upper arm- another bruise, to match the other arm. Hurry back, Barb!
All 3 dogs and our 2 cats are on raw meat diets. There is barely room in our tiny fridge for food for us! I have been feeding raw meat to Jazz since he suffered a recurrence of Feline Urological Syndrome. Since I've been feeding raw meat, he hasn't had a recurrence in years, and he loves it. Also his teeth are nice and clean. Fargo got switched from kibble to raw food after we moved here, and his teeth are also nice and clean. He also loves it. The best thing about a raw meat diet is that their poos are firm and small, and don't smell as awful as when eating kibble.
Though I already feed raw meat and bones to my pets, I went to a seminar this past week, given by a local vet who was basically promoting the theory and methods of Tom Lonsdale. Check it out here, it will open your mind.
The other seminar I attended was "Animals With Attitude", by a local animal behaviorist and vet. This talk was more formal and I didn't enjoy it as much. The emphasis was on the animal's behavior, but little was said of the owner's behavior in shaping the animal's behavior within the pack. I am a huge fan of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, and he emphasizes the importance of being the leader of the pack. It really is a two way street. You better be smarter than your dog!
That being said, I'm being outsmarted by my cat Jazz. He is very territorial, and what do cats do to mark territory? They pee on things. Normally he is very sweet and well behaved, but all it takes is a neighbor cat to walk into our yard, and he sees it from the window. People have suggested that we let him outside, but I've decided against it. First, it was a condition of his adoption that we continue to keep him inside only. Second, there is FIV in NZ. Our beloved cat Harley succumbed to Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, which is transmitted through saliva via a bite from an infected cat. There is a vaccine now, but why give yet another vaccine? Third, I like his company, and want him around. I would not confine him outdoors, and I don't know why would he desist marking inside the house. Fourth- yes there is a fourth! it is well established that indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats. Although, if this territorial pissing keeps up, he won't live a full life! Hah. He hasn't done it in about 6 weeks, so that is a relief.
You have to wonder why we put up with this. Pets really are a pain in the ass. But I believe that dogs and cats make great friends- they always listen, they don't complain about their own issues, they are soft and cuddly, and cute. And, I always maintain, they are easier to take care of than kids. No one will call the police if I leave my pet in a wire crate, and I don't have to send them to university or worry about them getting pregnant at age 15.
I'm considering adopting a greyhound, because they are 1) inexpensive, for a purebreed, 2) fostered in a home where careful attention is payed to behavioral responses, (good with cats or not) and 3) they naturally like running after prey, which can be accomodated here. I've met a great group who run south of Auckland. (see my previous post, with photo link goodness!)
Another breed of dog I admire is the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. On my way to get groceries in Henderson, I was shocked to see a couple walking two Tollers! There's only a few in the whole country, and we were crossing paths... There are no current breeders in NZ, so if I want one it will have to be imported from Australia.
Concerning dog sports in NZ, I'm still exploring options. I am unwilling to commit to "flygility", which is like the sport I did in San Diego with Fast Fourward (miss you all!) only it's not a team sport, and there's agility elements incorporated. I do like the lure coursing- either the dog "gets it" and does well, or not. There's no training involved, that I can see. It's just pure joy and beauty. See photo link on my last post. I'm hearing rumors from the various yahoo groups I've joined that there's Schutzhund, but do I want to do that again? That was extremely hard work! Rewarding, yes. But for now, I'll push back that next step toward total pet immersion. Still trying to fit into Kiwi culture, after all.