Dear Doodlebug: walking on stilts, finding forever, and butt-powered light switches

Dear Doodlebug is my favorite day of the week! It’s the day I get to exercise my giant doodle-brain and give you all of the advices you’ve ever wanted to hear! And this week I got a new picture-poster! Do you like it?

Anyhow, many important questionings in today’s post, so let’s get right to it!

Dear Doodlebug 2

Hi Doodlebug. On walks, I like to pick up and taste or eat almost everything. Flower petals, leaves, small sticks, berries, nuts. I also like to lick grass or bushes. Dad has given up on me. Mom is still quite a nag with constant, ‘leave it’ or ‘drop it’. She gets confused about the commands and I get confused too. Guess she doesn’t like cleaning up my yellow foamy puke when we get back home. Your brilliant help is much awaited. Cole, the short-legged poodle

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Dear Dust Buster,

Firstly, have you found any especially scrumptious berries, sticks, flowers, or nuts that I should be looking out for on MY dog walks? I am still allergenic with berries and nuts, actually, so I am only looking for flower and stick recommendations right now. And grasses and bushes are ok, too. 

My first advices to you are to ask your momma and dad whether they have ever really taught you what “leave it” and “drop it” mean. For a dog to really want to do that, they have to think it’s a good deal. Like, momma says “leave it” and if I do leave it, I get something even better. This is the way we were taught it. It turns out we don’t ALWAYS get something better, but pretty often we do, so it’s worth the gamblings (not that I recommend gamblings, which are illegal for dogs).

My second advices are that maybe you could learn the difference between a sniffing and salad bar kind of walking and an exercise-only kind of walking? When we go walking, we know that we are on a business trip (and by business I don’t mean business, I mean exercise). Mama tells us “free” when it’s time to sniff, pee, and snack, and that’s when we do those things. This keeps us pretty well out of trouble.

My final advices to you would be that maybe you could get a pair of stilts? I am not an overly tall dog, but I am taller than a short poodle, and I wonder if it’s easier for me to resist the ground-candy because my sniffer is higher off the ground. So maybe try stilts and let me know how it goes!

XO, the tallest Doodlebug you know

Dear Doodlebug, I like to chew things.  I’ve destuffed all my soft toys, I’ve performed many a squeakerectomy, I’ve shredded my rope toys and I’ve even nibbled all my kongs down to little nubs.  I’ve heard about these lovely things called antlers though and was curious what you knew about them?  Do you think they could stand up to my serious chewings?  Have you heard anything bads about them breaking off and getting all swallowed up?  I’d love if you could give me some of your advices! Woofs and Kisses, Dottie Mae

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Dear Chewbacca,

Wow, you really are a most excellent chewer! I can do good chewings too, but I have never nubbed up a kong yet. I did manage to turn a Bob-A-Lot into an abstract yard art installation once, and I have also turned a football into four quarter-footballs. And as you may have read in a previous week, my brother also is a most wonderful chewer, but his art specializes in chewing holes in my mama’s pockets when they smell like treats. He is one clever Chicken!

Anyhow, yes, I am aware of the magic antler, and I do love it! In case you don’t believe me, I have illustrated my antler lovingness with the photo above. What I am chewing on these days is a split antler, which is better for beginners or those dogs who are a little less motivated to reallyreally work for their yummables. I am willing to work pretty hard, but this split antler keeps me plenty busy and I haven’t made much progress on it. The whole antlers, which are NOT split into halves, are even tougher! 

There are some good things about antlers that are not shared by rawhides and other chewable yums. Antlers are all natural, they do not splinter or split, they do not smell offensively to the Humans, and they are delicious! Naturally, your mama will want to take your antler away and replace it with a new one when it gets to swallowing smallness, but that goes for any treat. I have heard of a dog or two in my day who can get to the very bottom of an antler, but let me tell you: that dog is not me. So I say, go for it, and let us know what you think!

Love, Your Semi-Chewer

Dear Dude-oodle-bug,  I would like to know how you made your foster home turn into your forever home.  Do you have a magic potion?  If so, can I have the recipe for it?  You see, I’m a foster dog, but I love my foster home and I would like to stay in my foster home forever and make it a forever home.  BUT, if you can’t give me your secret to making a foster home a forever home, can you give me some of your advices on making sure I get a great forever home that’s just exactly like my foster home?  Yours ever so truly, Sophie Sofa Snuggles, foster sister of the Corbin

Dear Sophie-who-is-now-adopted,

I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I didn’t get to your question until after you cleverly figured out the answer for yourself — congrats on being adopted by a perfect home, just as perfect as Corbin’s!

Since I can no longer give you for-reals advices since you have brainiacked your way through this problem on your own, I will just tell you how *I* got myself adopted by my foster peoples. The first thing is to super-woo your foster siblings. Here is me working my magics on my Chicken after only a few days together. I got him to help me learn how to crate myself!

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Now, this might be less of a big deal for some forever-family-elects, but as you probably know, my brother the Chick is quite grumpy, and although he tolerates many dogs, he does not *love* most dogs. The only other dog he has fostered who he really loved was Curious Georgia, and lucky for me and MY forever-home chances, they did not keep her because she lived with them just before they moved cross-country.

My people look for a few different things in dog-dog compatibility when deciding who is a good fit and who isn’t. They want us to get along swimmingly, of course, but they want us to get along calmly. They would not keep a foster, for example, who inspires my Chicken to run around like a crazydog doing zoomies, wrestling, and getting into troubles all the time. One key to their sanity, they say, is a calm dog-vibe in the house. So they prefer dog-dog matches where the two dogs are fine with each other’s company but can easily coexist without interacting all the time. Check and check.

The other big factor in my getting myself so adopted so quickly, of course, was that I gave them my big brown baby-eyes. Once I showed those to them, I knew it was all over — and so did they.

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Admit it — you would keep me too, wouldn’t you?

Best of luck in your new home, Sophie!

XO, your fellow adopted-bull, Doodlebug

Dear Doodlebug, I am a Master of Trickery but I have a problem that hurts my brain.  Momma says I am an Overly Social Butterfly.  When Momma and Daddy get home, I let them ignore my adorable wiggly butt until I glue it to the floor to tell them I am ready for pettings. But when my human friends visit, Momma and Daddy ask them to not say hi or give me pettings until I stop talking and my wiggly butt hits the ground.  As a fellow Master of Trickery, will you help me think of a plot to trickery my way out of this rule? -Gambit of the Couches

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Well Mr. Couch Surfer, Here’s the thing. Human friends do love wiggly-butted greetings, but you know what impresses them even more? Calm, gentleman-like greetings! I know! I didn’t believe it either, until my brother taught me, and it turns out he is right!

You see, we did these exercises in class where I got posted to a tree and everybody would ignore me until I sat down and stayed calm. Then once I did, I got all the lovings I wanted! Every time I’d pop up, the lovings (and yummables) would disappear. And when I’d sit down, they’d return! It was like magic! We repeated this exercise everywhere — in our kitchen, in our front yard, and out on walks. Even now we sometimes do it when mama and dad are expecting human visitors (the Turkeyman came to visit last night and I had to show him my best behaviors in order to get lovings, like the photo above).

Eventually I figured out that my butt was actually a magic light switch that could turn ON the lovings from people by sticking to the ground, and would turn OFF the lovings from the people by lifting up. 

I knew I already had many clevers, but I didn’t know that some of them were in my butt — wow!

Hope this helps you and your magic light switch Love, Doodlebutt

Dear Doodlebug: butt-nuggets, butt-snuggles, and hunting for pizzas

Sweet Doodlebug… Why is it that when we go to bed at night you decide it’s appropriate to put the “butt-end” towards our face?  -Janine

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Dear Miss Janine,

I must answer your question with a question: what is so wrong with snuggling up to a butt-in-the-face? We dogs do it with each other ALL the time. It started out as a little bit of a practical joke (“ha ha, butts on your face!”) but then it slowly became not-a-joke. Kind of like what happened with hipster clothes. We realized that butt-cuddling not only keeps us safe from the dreaded morning-breath, but it’s also a nice soft pillow upon which to rest our heads. In all honesty, we do this to you humans as a way of showing you our dedication, loyalty, and deep, deep love. So please enjoy! And wear a nose plug if you must.

XO, Doodlebug, President of the Hipster Butt-Cuddlers Club

Dear Doodlebug, If there is anything deliciously stinky laying around, I just have to have it. Especially…and this is the embarrassing part…my own poops. They make the perfect little snacks. I was wondering if you know what it is about my poops that make them so irresistible to me?  Super Cooper the Pooper Scooper

Dear Pooper-Cooper,

I am about to impress you with my Large Word Knowledges, so make sure you are seated. What you are having is the coprophagia. It’s such a common passion that it has its very own word! Doesn’t that make you feel quite relieved?

The other thing I am about to tell you is that your snacking delight is quite normal, even if your mama does think it’s gross. According to science-humans, there are a lot of reasons that dogs get all coprophagical. Sometimes dogs eat butt-nuggets because they’re bored, other times because they’ve been punished in the past for going in the wrong spot. I have heard that some puppy mill babies or dogs who were kept in very tight quarters are more likely to coprophagitate. Another common reason is low-quality diet.

If you are not already, switch to a high-quality food with no fillers like corn, wheat, and soy, and no chemical additives. Some dog-scientists think that because lower-grade kibbles contain a lot of non-digestibles, they taste pretty similar on both ends of the dog, if you know what I’m saying. I have also heard that you can have your foster mama add things to your kibbles that may change the PH in your butt-nuggets and make them seem less yummable. She can try pieces of pineapple, cooked spinach, or one of the commercially-available additives (but make sure she reads the label to make sure they are not full of chemically ickiness).

Outside of diet, stopping your snacking habit is going to take some hard work from your people — always cleaning up right away after you go to the Drop Zone, never reacting in any way or making a big deal if you do capture a delicious butt-nugget, and making sure you are getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Best of Luck, Doodlebug who prefers kibbles to dog butt-nuggets, but will raid the kitty litter box with no hesitation at all.

Dear Doodlebug, We would like very much to know how you managed to get your very own secretary.  We thought we were cleverer dogs (because we can always find the leftover pizzas) but finding our own secretary has alluded us. If we could tell our secretary what to do, maybe it would keep one of us busy during the day so we don’t go looking for the pizzas. Please help, Lily (the pizza-finder) & Cooper (the accomplice)

Dear Team of Greatest Cleverness:

Ok, I will tell you my secret for finding my own secretary, but only after you tell me how you found the pizzas. I have always dreamed of finding the pizzas but this mystery has alluded me and my brother so far. In the photo below, you can see me pizzas-hunting in the tall grass. I will tell you that I do not know where the pizzas are, but I am pretty sure they are not hiding in the tall grasses of our yard. 

Chickerdoodle-120312-43We have had much better luck with finding the yummables in the laundries and finding the kitchen garbage, which was Great Fun the one time I got to play. Chick says he has found the garbage many times in the past, but he and I only got to do it once together before mama and dad gave up and bought a Smarter-Than-Dog trash can. Although our dumpster-diving days were over, we secretly high-fived over how many clevers we must have, making them have to surrender to the World of the Fancy Trash Can. Also, Chick has much luck in finding the little bits of treats left over in mama’s jacket and pants pockets. What he does NOT have luck at is removing the bits of treats through the prepared pocket opening, so he normally does this surgically, using his tooths. It is an effective technique and I love watching him perform these procedures on mama’s clothes, but I must admit mama does not look too impressed when she comes home and finds these new post-surgical features in her clothings. Apparently Chick has not yet perfected his stitching skills. 

Anxiously awaiting pizzas, Duder

Dear Doodle, A while ago, I started to notice that other dogs would sometimes leave their smell on stuff…you know like fire hydrants, fences posteds, chairs, things like that.  One day at the dog park I decided to mark mama’s jeans leg.  Then, what really sent her over the top was the day I marked one of my dog friend’s dad on his jeans.  Mama says I have a problem, but I really think this is not a problem.  Signed, One Confused Canine, Jake

Dear Improper Pee-er, 

I am not sure about jeans legs, but here is what I have learned IS okay to pee on:

  • grasses, trees, shrubs
  • dead things in the road
  • other people’s car tires
  • my brother’s head if he is taking too long with his peeings
  • the sign some of our neighbors have that shows a dog going #2 with a “NO!” underneath it

And here are the things that I am not sure, but I am starting to get the idea that it is NOT okay to pee on:

  • agilidog equipment
  • the porch furniture
  • the cedar posts that hold up our back porch
  • our neighbor-dog Abby, who barks at me through the fence
  • mama’s car tires

I admit, I am pretty stumped about jeans legs. Human rules of okayness are very confusing to us dogs, I know. But if your mama gets Very Upset when you do the jeans-peeings, maybe you should not do them? Surely there are plenty of other things at the park to pee on . . . like fences and grasses and other dogs and legs that are not wearing jeans.

Good luck to you, the Proper Pee-er

Dude, My Dad thinks my collar, with all it’s glowing pinkness, is too tight. My Mom thinks it’s just right. Please give Mom and Dad some advices about how to properly fit my collar so they can quit fussing about it. Yours, Karly the Girly Rottie

Dear Karly of the Pinkest Fashion and Fame,

I’m going to go ahead and guess that your collar is too tight. Usually if a person is worried about that, it is So. This is what I have learned. My brother and I have flat buckle collars from Paco Collars, and we wear those to show off our handsomes and also to keep our infos for when we meet fine ladies who want our digits. For this type of collar, you should be able to fit two regular-sized human fingers in between the collar and your neck. It should look like this:

Chickerdoodle-120807-3And for our walkings, we add a martingale collar — sometimes our very special, posh, and rotating collection of Sirius Republic collars, and sometimes just regular nylon collars. For those, you should also be able to fit two regular-sized human fingers in between the collar and your neck — when it is fully tightened

Best of luck in your fashion pursuits,

Your Clothes-Horse Bug

Dear Doodlebug, My momma says me and my brother and sister are spoiled. Whatever that means. We have lots of fun toys. Kongs, stuffies, bouncy ball toys, and even handmade special just for me toys. Is it possible for a super awesome dog like me to have too many toys?  Should we be good boys and girl and put our toys away or just make momma do it? I mean she’s the one buying all these goodies for us. What are your favorite toys and does you momma make you put your toys away?? -Seriously Spoiled aka Buddy

You Lucky Dog,

Please send your address. I’m coming to live with you! Can you believe that at our house we have NO toys left out at all? In fact, we don’t even have any toys of any kind — all of the toys belong to mama and dad, and they share them with us when we have been very good boys. But we have to earn it!Wait a minute . . . Come to think of it, actually, maybe it’s good that we don’t have toys left out all the time. I think maybe I would worry about them if I had to always be keeping track. This way they are put away, they come out when it’s playtime (and playtime is always VERY exciting since we haven’t seen the toy-of-the-moment in HOURS or DAYS), and they get put away in a basket far away when mama decides we’re done. I guess it’s not so bad!Also as a bonus, all the toys belonging to mama and dad makes mama and dad seem even cooler than they already were before. We are always paying attention and willing to do whatever they ask because we never know when it might become snack time or playtime!

XO, Unspoiled in Austin

PS- my favorite toys are rope toys, which are fun for tugging with my brother, and my red bumper toy, which is funnest for the fetchings!

Dear Doodlebug: napping with headrests, hunting for Atlantis, and how to become a Celebridog

Dear DoodlebugHoly cannoli friends, it’s a doozie of a Dear Doodlebug this week, mostly because I got SO carried away with one Most Excellent question. Those of you whose questions didn’t get answered this week, just keep holding on, we’ll get to you as soon as we can!

On to the dirty work:

Dear Doodlebug,You always look like such a dedicated sleeper and also very fashionable so I hope you can help us with bed advices. I too am very serious about my sleeps and I need a serious bed! I have one that is one piece bolster bed that mama got at Petsmart a long time ago. It is ok but it is one big piece and I cannot rearrange it. Also it is starting to wear out and it looks very tired. Mama also got me a bed from Westpaw that I like better because it is two pieces and I can arrange the middle piece exactly how I like it. But that one is also starting to wear out and the middle is not as fluffy and comfy as it was. I would like a bed that will stay comfy for a long time or that does not cost too much so mama can keep buying me new ones. I would prefer a bed that is in two pieces but what is most important is that it has a bolster part or something similar where I can rest my giant head. It would also be a big plus if it is nice looking and fashionable but that is not as important as comfyness and headrestyness. So do you have any advices for me about beds? Thanks, Don!

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Dear Donald Duck the Chick Look-a-Like,

Did you ever stop to think that you look a little bit like my brother? And maybe it’s because you’re a duck and he is a chicken, I’m not sure. But there is something to it.

As for beds, you are so very right. I have much seriousness when it comes to my sleepage. Sometimes I even fall asleep during agility class on the breaks between my turn and my turn — and that’s on a bed of shredded cedar with NO bolster at all! My brother and I, lately we are extremely loving our new beds that mama adopted from Costco. She says that their adoption fee was only around $30, which sounds like not that many green papers to me. They are a lot like a little dog sofa, with nice cozy headrests on three sides, and a cushion in the middle that I can pick up with my mouth and burrow underneath when I feel like hiding. The only problem with them is that the covers come off so mama can put them in the washer and get rid of all of my hard-earned dog smells — you probably shouldn’t tell your mama about those zippers, or try to hide them after she brings your new bed home. The bed is not very enormous and I know you are taller than me and my brother, but we both like to sleep together in one of ours instead of each dog in his own, and all 110 pounds of us doesn’t think it’s too small.

If that one doesn’t work out for you, our uncle Tex just scored a bed with headrests from Overstock. I haven’t talked to him to hear whether he likes it or not, but maybe some other dogs’ secretaries have left reviews on some of those and can give you a clue on how wonderful or terrible they are?

Love, Doodlebug, Grand Champion Napper

Dear Dude,  I am writing to get some advices on how to be as famous as you are. My mom has a blog like your mamma (it’s even named after me!), where she writes about me and my foster siblings, but I am not a star like you and Sir Chick are on the inter-webs. I want to be more famous so I can help mom spread the word about how important it is to share your house with dogs in need. So, just how did you and your bro get so popular and get so many adoring fans (other than by using your pure handsome-ness)? 

Thanks in advance, 

Nola, The Rising Star of Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses

Snickerdoodle-120212-31Dear Nola,First of all, we love your blog about you and the dogs who come into your home and steal share your toys, food, beds, and people with you! We absolutely do hope that you achieve many fames like me and my brother. And second of all, what a very important question you have asked. I’m not sure if I can totally answer it (because my brother and his other foster kids were pretty famous way before I came along), but I have interviewed my brother the Chick and he has given me some ideas about how we got to be Kind Of A Big Deal. So here we go:

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1. Use high-quality photos. Sometimes mama writes posts that she thinks are very clever and interesting and funny, and then the comments of the people are all about the pictures. Most internet-viewers are very visual people and dogs, so big, bright, interesting photos will draw in a lot of people who otherwise might have skipped along. Our mama is lucky because she has a giant black box that goes click and makes nice photos of me and my brother, but even a simple camera can do the job. There are lots of great tricks on the internet about taking good photos, so read up!

2. Post regularly. For the first year and a half of this blog, mama wrote every single weekday. As you can imagine, this was a lot of work! But the advantage was that our blog was dependable. This was especially important to mama back then, when my brother was trying to get dogs out of the house as soon as possible they were trying to find the perfect home for fosters. The more people who grew addicted to their stories and would check in every morning before work or every afternoon after lunch, the more potential homes we were reaching. Mama has since gotten lazy slowed down the posting schedule because we are not fostering anymore so readership is not quite as critical, and we have seen a big decrease in the number of blog views per post.

it wasnt me0023. Write from the heart. We don’t only share the good stories. We also share the hard stuff. Our post about euthanizing a foster dog, Goodnight sweet Blue, is one of our most-read posts of all time. Chick’s tales of his past issues (I used to love to bake, or how we worked through my anxieties) is another. People love reading about happy dogs experiencing happy things, but so many dog owners — most dog owners — also deal with the hard stuff. The problem is, the hard stuff is also harder to write about, so it gets suppressed, and regular dog owners dealing with regular problems end up feeling isolated and alone. Being open about the good AND the bad of dog ownership and fostering can bring in loyal readers a lot faster than a few cute photos and a sweet anecdote.

4. Network. Lately mama has been too lazy to keep up, but early on, we were doing a lot of reading other blogs and commenting — and forming allies in our community. Making friends with rescues, shelters, non-profits, businesses, and regular ol’ folk in your community can help build your reader base and increase your chances at finding adopters for your fosters.

5. Think big. Writing about bigger policy or advocacy issues is more time-consuming than The Daily Chronicles of Dog and Dog, but it can pay off.  Our two most successful posts ever were of this nature — Pit bull awareness — words do matter; and Do Unto Others: intimidation in dog training. We took on sticky topics that can be controversial but that we feel strongly about, and it paid. Each of those posts was picked up by large and popular groups on Facebook and other blogs, and our posts ended up circulating and re-circulating. After each of those posts, we saw a big boost in readership, too.

6. Host fundraisers, contests & give-aways. We have hosted a number of fundraisers and giveaways over the years, and each time, our readership has seen a big-temporary-followed-by-a-small-permanent increase. Early on, we constructed a simple Kibble for Comments fundraiser, in which we donated a pound of dog food for every comment on our blog during a certain period. It was a success! Since, we’ve done more sophisticated fundraisers for specific causes, including one for our darling Elderbull foster Little Zee, who needed a lot of medical care, and one for the Schrodi Memorial Training Fund, an Austin-area non-profit that offers training scholarships for families who need the help but can’t afford high-quality private training. Some new readers come for the story and some come for the loot. But either way, the good people of the internet seem to love having a cause to rally behind.

Hope this helps, Miss Nola!
Sir Chick & Dr Dude, Celebridogs
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Dear Doodlebug, My mama buys me puzzles and toys that will hurt my brain thinking but I’m just *not* a chewer.  She’ll give me a chewy puzzle filled with yummy treats and I give it right to my boyfriend who is perfectly happy chewing away all day long. We often play fetch, which I love but can you please give her some hints on what else would work for a very clever girl who isn’t mouthy?! Thank you, Bella the very sensitive, and very clever, pibble-mix girl

Dear Lazy-belle,

How can you not want to chew on things that taste or smell like dinners? I don’t even understand it! Have you tried puzzles that are about getting the kibbles out but not chewing, like the Treat Stik or the Kong Wobbler? What about hollow bones stuffed with wet food and frozen? You can’t possibly be a dog and not enjoy those fine delicacies.

But here’s the other thing — my brother and I always have to work for our foods. When mama was first teaching us how to do this, she would measure out our daily portion in the morning and give us bits of it throughout the day in puzzles. Whatever we didn’t finish in 20 minutes got taken away and put back in the dog food bin or in the trash can — so we got that much LESS food during the day. Well as you can imagine, it didn’t take us many days to figure out that we’d better work for those snacks, and quickly! Now, I must tell you that Chick and I were both natural chewers and eaters, but Chick has had some foster dogs who did NOT care to work for their kibbles. But even they came around after a couple days of not eating enough!

Oh, and tell your mama to put you and your boyfriend in separate rooms while you eat. It’s no fair for him to steal your snacks!

XO, Bugga-snacker

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Dear Doodlebug, Just about every day mom goes out at 8 and doesn’t come home until about 6.  I think she’s hunting for yummy kong treats but my cat brother and sister say it’s mice she’s looking for.  Does your mom go out every day like that….what do you think she is doing? Pondering, Jake

Dear Pondering Jake,

We are among the luckiest of dogs, because when our mama leaves the house, she usually brings us with her — especially if she is going for many hours. You see, she works at a dog place where we are welcome. So we come with her, and maybe that’s why she never brings home any mice . . . or maybe it’s because we already have mice living in our yard and garage (and twice even in our house, yuck!).

But my brother and I put our giant, giant brains together, and we came up with some potential things that your mama might be hunting for when she leaves the house for so many hours every day.

She might be hunting for:

  • dog treats
  • mice
  • some green papers
  • the Holy Grail
  • psychedelic mushrooms
  • witches
  • the perfect place to retire
  • Atlantis
  • Red October
  • a boyfriend

I hope I helped solve your mystery!

Signed, your Bug-sleuth

Dear Doodlebug: Running with squirrels, and eating veggies with cat poo

Dear DoodlebugDear Doodlebug, back with another week’s advices column! Boy did we get many many most excellent questions this week! I am trying to answer them as quickly as I can, but my typist is very lazy and only lets me address a few per week . . . so those of you who have sent them in recently, please be patient with my lazy secretary. She and I will get with you soon!

Here we go:

Hi Doodle!  I was wondering if you have any advice on how to put together an active routine for a dog (when it’s not too super hot or too freezing cold out of course). I’m getting into distance running and I was wondering, without a backyard, what’s a good way to determine a good distance/pace for a dog? What should I look for to know whether my dog is too tired or stressed to continue a run and we should pack up and go home? I know every dog is different, but if you have any insight into matching up a new runner to a potential new dog, I’d much appreciate it!  Love, Nevie (Cats Can’t Go For Runs)

Dear Lazy Cat Lover,

I must disagree with you off the bat — my brother and I have chased a cat or two, and let me tell you: they sure can go for runs. They can go for sprints, in fact! But I’ve also seen them go for jogs. So before you toss aside the possibility, why not get your feline companion some nice Brooks running shoes and a visor, and test it out?

Now, on to your question about dogs and exercise. Just like people, dogs need to build up their endurance before they can be asked to run any great distances. And just like people, just because we are able to go for a long run off the bat, doesn’t mean it’s good for us. We can get all kinds of injuries, and you don’t want to deal with that. So whatever dog you end up with (and I hope it’s one that looks exactly like me, obviously), start slow and short. Maybe go a mile at a leisurely pace. If that goes well, next time add a quarter mile, then add some more. There isn’t much of a limit to a sturdy, healthy dog’s athletic ability – my brother the Chick helped train my mama up for a marathon back in 2005 — they went on all of their short and long runs together up to 18 miles!

I am not an expert, but from what I have heard, there are some dogs who do NOT make good running companions. Those are ones with super-squatty noses (like pugs and bulldogs), ones with super-short legs (like doxies), and giant breeds with a predisposition to joint issues (like some Mastiffs). Oh, and puppies should not go running — their joints and bones are still growing, and the impact from running can be bad for them. It’s a good idea to check with a vet before starting a running program with a puppy, to make sure the puppy is ready. But otherwise, any medium-to-large dog with at least a moderate energy level should make you a good running companion.

Oh, and learn the signs of heat exhaustion before you start exercising your dog! Some of the early signs of “I’m too tired” include dragging behind on your run, thick, sticky saliva, and a scoop/spoon-shaped tongue that hangs way out.

You go girl, ‘Bug

Dear Doodlebug, My mama is a veggie-tarian and she heard that your mama and dad are veggie-tarians also. She knows that us dogs like to eat a well rounded diet of meats, vegetables, fruits and healthy grains, but sometimes she feels conflicted about the meats part. (I love the meats very much!) Do you know if your mama and dad have the same conflictions? I don’t want my mama to feel bad about my food. Do you have any advices? Thanks for your times, Bug. Sir Reginald Von Dog. 

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Dear Vegemite sandwich,

There was about a minute in my mama’s past (a dark, dark minute, if you ask me) when she thought about switching my brother to a veggie-tarian diet. Since she and dad were veggie-tarian, why shouldn’t Chick be too?  But here’s the thing. Mama never did find a vegetarian dog food that satisfied her. Most of the ones she ran across were full of fillers that didn’t seem right. And talking to a number of different vets, mama never found one who thought that a meat-free diet was optimal — or even healthy — for us dogs.

So as dedicated as our mama and dad are to being veggie-tarians, they are even more committed to us being the healthiest dogs we can be, and lucky for us, that means meat. And lots of it. 

Your omnivorous friend, the ‘Bug

Dear Doodlebug, My sleeping arrangements have gotten, well, complicated. My older pup has navigated north, sleeping by my head. My bigger pup likes to crush my legs. You would never know I have a king-sized bed, considering I’m on the verge of falling at night. To top it all off, my pups presence does not allow me to snuggle with my boyfriend! The older pup would never choose not to sleep on the bed and I don’t have the heart to crate her all night. Is my current sleeping dilemma my permanent future? Sincerely, Concerned, boyfriend-snuggle deprived Dogma.

Dear Dogma,

It sounds like you’re on the verge of losing that boyfriend person. So tell Doodlebug: is he worth it? Studies have shown that you humans sleep better without a dog in the bed, let alone two — though for us dogs, we sleep just fine whether we’re on a human bed or a dog bed. If you like that boyfriend of yours — and your sleepings — you may want to think about asking your dogs to sleep on their very own beds, not on yours. Let them sleep in the room, by all means. You can even set up their beds right beside yours so you can comfort yourself them by giving them pettings as you fall asleep. As for me, I am so perfect that I prefer to sleep in my own bed than with my people, though I do enjoy joining mama in bed during occasional nappings and sometimes for a first-thing-in-the-morning snuggle. But mama says that some of her former foster dogs were human-bed-sleepers, and she and dad had to teach them how to be dog-bed-sleepers. So she got an extra comfy dog bed for the fosters and every night, she would offer a really yummy kong for a bedtime snack, putting it in the dog bed right before everybody goes to sleep. For many dogs, this was enough — by the time they were done with their kong, they were plumb tuckered out and ready to snooze. For other fosters, it took added steps — a baby gate strategically placed, or a leash tied to a railing or piece of furniture to tether the dog to the spot so she couldn’t sneak onto the bed at night. Occasionally, there would be some protesting and crying the first few nights, but very quickly, it was gone. Everybody was sleeping much, much better, and mama and dad are still together!

Best of luck, Your Bedbug (who can sleep happily anywhere)

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Dear Doodlebug, I heard that some ground hog said Spring is coming early. I would like Spring to come early because I am sick of cold and snow. Trouble is, I neither like nor trust ground hogs. They get in my tomato patch during the summer and eat all my tasty tomatoes that I like to sample right from the vine. Mama asks me to leave her some, but they are soooooo tasty. How can I trust the predictions of a creature that steals my tastiest of treats? You are smart and seem trustworthy (what are your thoughts on tomatoes?). Will Spring come early?  –Desperately Seeking Spring and tomatoes

Dear Springster,

Well, you are definitely right about one thing: you should never trust a groundhog. Do you think that groundhogs decide whether to make spring come early or not based solely on whether they are hungry for our tomatoes yet or would rather wait another month or two? Those greedy bastards. Not to mention, they are most definitely in cahoots with those evil bushy-tailed squirrels, aren’t they? We don’t really see any groundhogs around these parts, but we sure do see some squirrels. Every day, they try to death me and my brother, and it doesn’t look like we’re the only ones:

So stay safe out there, wherever you are. Remain vigilant against groundhogs, squirrelhogs, and tomato-hogs of all kinds. Spring will be here before you know it, and in the meantime, build up your arsenal of weapons. Mama says the guy who lived in our house before us deathed squirrels with a paintball gun. But I wouldn’t stop there — I would consider a bazooka, or a cannon.
Yours in vigilance, Doodlebug the anti-hog
source: textfromdog.tumblr.com

source: textfromdog.tumblr.com

Hi Dude, Our mom calls us the poop hunters of the Serengeti, becuz we are always on the lookout for some cat poo to eat. Is there a 12-step program for k-9 cat poo addicts? Mom won’t kiss us after we eat it. Can you help? Sincerely, Well, lets just say S&S, since CPAA is anony-mouse. (cat poo addicts anony-mouse)

Oh, you poor S&Sers, you have discovered the golden nugget. For the record, I’ll tell you that my brother says that this golden nugget is not quite as good as the diamond nugget, which is live cicadas. A few years ago when Chick lived in DC and they had the every-17-year-Cicada-invasion, our uncle Tex actually had to wear a basket muzzle when going outside, or else he would eat so many platinum nuggets that he’d make himself sick. He said they tasted like flying chicken nuggets!

Anyhow, our life was so simple before we discovered cat dumplings, but now that we know they exist — in the cat box at work, in the neighbor’s mulch — we are constantly overtaken by the irresistible urge to hunt it out and scarf it down . . . and then french-kiss our mama. You see, hunting and eating cat poo is a self-reinforcing behavior, so it is very hard to teach a dog not to want to do it. So I can’t help you to not crave this finest of delicacies, but I can tell your mama to teach you a really good “leave it” type phrase that gets you to stop hunting. Our mama can always tell when we’re on the poop patrol, and reminding us to stop is often all it takes to get us to move on by. And if that still fails . . . maybe some breath mints?

Forever on the prowl, Doodlebug

Dear Doodlebug: on Hawaiian shirts, the Big Lebowski, and being spoiled.

Hello friends,Dear Doodlebug

Here we are again on Dear Doodlebug Day! I am most very excited about today’s post! Do you want to know why? Not only because there are some extremely handsome photos of me included, but also because I finally get to talk to you about things that are not dog behavior! I had the most funs ever writing the answer to the first question below, so if you have other Important Advices needs that are not related to serious issues of dog behaviors, send ’em my way!

Here we go:

Dear Doodlebug, You and your brother always look so dapper laying on your Hawaiian print sofa. Does it make you feel like you are on the beach, digging for sand crabs and rolling in dead fish? How can I convince my dad to get one like that for me? I would like to look as handsome as you two and have such wonderful daydreams! XO, Dreaming of the Tropics

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Dear Tropical Dreamer,

Thank you as always for the complements. However, I must clarify a few things about our The Dude Sofa. First of all, I don’t think that this is technically a Hawaiian print, as Hawaiian prints should have Hawaiian flowers on them, right? I am not sure because I am not a Hawaiian Shirt Museum Curator, but it seems to be so. And second of all, mama thinks it is important that I tell you that this sofa is our outside sofa, not our inside sofa. You may remember the Dora, which is our inside sofa. Mama says she would never be caught dead putting a non-Hawaiian print sofa inside the house (although I hope she never gets caught dead at all, personally). I don’t know why it’s important that I tell you this, but apparently it is. And third of all (this is the most important one of my points about the sofa), I want to point out that this sofa is the same as the sofa that my namesake, The Dude, had in his apartment in the Big Lebowski. How cool is that? Enthusiasts might recognize it, but for those of you who have not seen the Big Lebowski enough times to understand why I am named after it, there is a tiny corner of my sofa visible in this screenshot here. Pretty neat, eh?

But I digress. Our particular outside sofa was a special find on Craigslist, and as far as we can tell, the cushion covers were handmade by somebody and not The Dude Sofa manufacturer. So in order to get your own, you will have to learn how to sew very well with pipings and zippers, and I have to admit I do believe this would be pretty challenging without any supposable thumbs. As a second-best option, why not go for a Hawaiian shirt? Sometimes I wear my dad’s Hawaiian shirts since mama does not allow dad to wear them himself (although to be honest I do not prefer them because they are too long and loose around my middle, and sometimes I pee on them — don’t tell dad). Also, I have even seen a tutorial while surfing the Youtubes about converting a men’s shirt into a dog shirt. Wouldn’t that be neat? Or if –again– you’re not such a seamster or seamstress, maybe you could settle for one of these handsome dog Hawaiian shirts from the Amazon. I bet you’ll look just as dapper in one of those as I do on my The Dude Sofa!

XOXO, The Dude (who Abides)

PS – We are no longer allowed on our inside sofa the Dora (even though it is named after a dog), so if you have any ideas for how to get our mama to let us back up there, please tell them to us!

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Dear Doodlebug, I started working from home in October, and now that I am with my dogs all day every day, I am noticing they seem a little bored.  While they snooze happily for much of the day, my girl, Victoria, wakes up between naps and barks at me.  Mostly she is barking for treats, but I think it’s coming from boredom.  I’ve tried a couple food puzzles which seemed to interest her for a couple weeks, but she is pretty finicky about what she will actually work for.  One other thing to keep in mind – the vet told us her x-rays show that some of her tooth roots seem to be weakening.  I need something gentle on the teeth, but satisfying to the nose. XOXO, Old Dog, New Trick

Dear Tricksy, 

Victoria really is clever, figuring out how to bully you into giving her more puzzles, more variety, more activity, more, more, more! There are a few advices I have for you, as a canine friend to the humans. First, it sounds to me like Victoria is barking at you to demand things from you, and sometimes, her pushy behavior gets her exactly what she wants!  So stop paying attention when she barks. Put in your interior ear muffs and pretend you do not hear her at all. Wait until she settles back down, and only then — and only if you really want to — give her some attention or some treats. Just because she is an eldergal like my brother, doesn’t mean she can be pushy with you!

Second, on the puzzles. Will she eat out of kongs? You can mix some dry food and wet food and stuff it into one of those puppy/elderdog kongs, and let her work on that — you don’t even have to freeze it, which makes it harder. If you get a really big size, it will take her a while to get to the bottom of it, especially if you put something extra stinky and yummy (like litter-encrusted cat poo) at the bottom. You can also try putting canned food inside her bones, or cutting a little hole in a tennis ball and jamming some kibbles in there (only you have to watch to make sure she doesn’t eat the ball pieces as she gets the kibble out). 

I am not quite sure, but I have heard that older dogs can sometime start to not smell things quite as well as younger dogs, which can make them less interested in holy, delicious noms. Try buying some extra stinky food, and see if she is more interested. Fish-based formulas are nice and stinky, as is the Holy Grail of all yums, Green Tripe.

Good luck! Your omnivorous Bug

Dear ‘Bug, I mean this in the nicest and most admiring of ways, but you and your Chick seem pretty spoiled. Do you have any tips for how to get my people to spoil me better? Yours in admiration, Stella the Hungarian Vizsla Princess

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Dear Hercegnő (I believe that is how you say “princess” in your motherland),

Let me ask you this: do you bring your mama her favorite flowers (tulips) and her favorite chocolates (any)? Maybe THIS is why we are treated so well!

But more serious-like. We have a very good life, yes. We get to go to work with our mama. We have our very own dog hammock in the back of the car. We eat the finest of kibbles and get treats of organic roast beefs, chicken skins, and other delicacies. We bask in the sunshine and snuggle under the covers. I get to go do agilidogging every week with my favorite teacher, Miss Patti. We have the most beautiful of dog collars, and a rotation of seasonal outfits that we don when the weather and mood are appropriate. We have nine dog beds in our house, and at least four blankets of our own. When mama and dad go away, we get to go to doggie camp where we are treated like kings. We have our very own blog, and sometimes people recognize us out on the street and come say hello. So yes, our life is good.

But are we spoiled? Not really. You see, Miss Princess, we have to work for everything. We never get anything by being pushy or demanding. We have strict house rules, and if we break them, we lose our privileges. Mama and dad expect a lot from us, you see. We get to go for walks, but only if we walk politely and follow the rules. We eat delicious kibbles, but only if we sit patiently until we are released. We get yummy snacks, but only out of puzzles that make our little brains hurt. We get plenty of pettings and cuddles, but only when we are relaxed and being polite. We get hand fed roast beefs, but only when we are in a very challenging situation, like teaching reactive dogs how to not be scared (Chick), or mastering agility weave poles (me), or learning to not stare rudely at tiny fluffballs (me again), or learning how to have our nails filed (my brother). If we break the “no barking at the door” rule, we go to time out. If we act funny and protective of a toy or a bed, that toy or bed disappears. If we act pushy and demanding, we get stone cold ignored — or worse — put in our room to calm down. If we act wild on our leashs, we go right back in the house and lose our walk.

In fact, when grandma comes to visit, she actually feels sorry for us and how non-spoiled we are. For example, she is always wanting to give us a scrap of food from the counter while she is helping with the human-cookings, or let us up on the Dora (which is Off Limits) to snuggle with her, and she gets very frowny and sad for us when mama says NO! We would get frowny and sad too, but Mama says the rules are important, and we trust her. After all — our life is pretty sweet!

Best of luck with your Princessness,

Prince Doodlebug the American Pit-mix

Dear Doodlebug: the Humpty Dance, Death to Vacuum, and non-eating craziness

Dear DoodlebugDear Doodlebug, back once again! Some of you may know from our Facebooks Page that I had surgery on my tooths yesterday, so I’m still feeling a little dopey and drowsy. I got one Great Big tooth and one Very Small tooth ejected from my mouths, and although I have to only eat soft foods for a couple of weeks, I know I will be on the up-and-up very soon.

But I am a Very Brave Dog, and so I answered some of your requests for advices even though my head is a little cloudy! Here we go!

Dear Doodlebug, Do you like the vacuum? I hate the vacuum. I am pretty sure if my people would just let me attack its soft underbelly, I could rid my house of the vacuum menace forever. Do you know of any dogs who successfully killed a vacuum in this manner? Is there some other method of disabling a vacuum that you might recommend? My people insist that I ignore the roaring beast or go to a different room while the monster is attacking the floors we walk on, but I think it’s only a matter of time before it becomes dissatisfied with the floors and turns on us! For some reason, my otherwise excellent people seem blind to this danger in our midst. Help! Abbey of the Brindle Furs

Dear Abbey (ha ha, get it?),

I am a Buddhist and also a pacifist, so I can’t help you with the deathing of your vacuum cleaner. But if I were not a Buddhist or a pacifist, I might offer you some suggestions . . . like what about poisoning it? Maybe you could get your paws on some vacuum poison and sneakily sprinkle it all over the floor right before your people let it do its noisy thing? Or maybe you could make friends with a cat or a rat and convince them to chew through the cable (making extra careful sure that it isn’t plugged in while they’re doing the chewing)? Both of these seem like they might work, if I were less of a Buddhist and a pacifist.

But since I am a Buddhist and a pacifist, I have another idea. What if your people help you make friends with the enemy instead? They could do this by leaving it out someplace that you walk by all the time, like your kitchen. Then they could start feeding you your dinners or playing your favorite games with you near the vaccum (but not so near that you’re skeered to approach). Then gradually you could start eating and playing closer and closer. And if the way it yells and hollers and carries on is the biggest problem, maybe you could have them make a recording of the hollering sound and play it for you when nothing is happening — first very, very quietly, then eventually louder and louder until it’s up to its normal noisy volume. I’m not sure if this might work, but maybe it’s worth a try if the deathing doesn’t go as planned, or — even worse — if your people replace your newly deathed vacuum with another one?

XO, Doodlebug who sleeps through vacuumings but thinks motorcycles are QUITE scary

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Dear Doodlebug,  My mum says you seem very smarty-pants with all of your advises, so mum really hopes you can help her out with this conun… conden… comdumderan….. ah, problem. I am a five years old and i had the chop when i was just a little pup, but in the last few months have become a rather frisky dog. My beloved bed is the love of my life, and i cannot help the fact that i sometimes get a little over excited and amourous when it just lies there looking all floofy and squishy and soft. Mum wonders if this is an attention seeking thing, because i often do it when she is in the kitchen cooking dinner, but i will happily make the moves whenever the mood strikes me. Don’t worry, i don’t do it to people or other dogs – just my beautiful bed! Mum knows that she shouldn’t yell at me or make a big deal out of it when i do get carried away, incase i love the attentions and do it more and more to get her to come look at me, but for some reason it emabrasses her when other people see my humpy ways (they just don’t understand me). Doodlebug can you please explain to my mum why i do this so much and how to get me to maybe possibly do something else instead?  Love (but not in that way),  Mr Frisky the pugalier

Dear Humpty Dumpty,

Well gosh, that must be some special pillow that you have, huh? It sure sounds like you give it plenty of attentions! From what I have heard and read, humpty-dumptiness happens for a whole bunch of different reasons, like sexiness, dominance, attention-seeking, anxiety, and boredom. It’s hard for me to say which of these things are making you do the humpty dance with your bed — though I can say that it’s probably not the sexiness or the dominance. If this humpiness is new, then have your mama ask herself: has anything Major changed in your life or your house recently? Sometimes stress can make dogs do strange behaviors that didn’t happen before. Or have there been any medical issues with you lately? Big behavioral changes that happen suddenly are often a good reason to go to the vet’s office and check things out to make sure everything is okie-dokie.

Do you have a $50 trick? That is, a trick that she is confident enough about that she would slap $50 down on the table as a bet that you will do it upon request, no matter what you are busy with? If not, maybe it’s time to work on that. If you have one already, have your mom ask you to do that trick (even if it is just “sit” or “down” or “come”) when she sees you doing the humpty dance. It will be a Non-Compatible Behavior, which means you will have to stop the humpiness in order to do it. Then your mama can distract you with something else — a toy, a puzzle, a game, etc. Over time, she may be able to teach you to do something else when you’re feeling kind of humpty, and if you are a Very Clever Dog, you may even stop doing the humpty dance altogether. 

But it’s still a good idea to check with your vet and — if your mama suspects anxiety or another behavioral cause — a good trainer in your area. They will set you straight!

XO, your ‘Bug

Dear Bug, I am terrified when my mama takes me to the vet. It’s a scary place. I used to be okay with it but then I was sick for a while. All the poking and prodding made me never want to see those people again. Now, even sitting in the waiting area makes me nervous, and by the time I get to the exam room, I’m a wreck. I don’t want them to touch me. I growl and sometimes show my teeth when they get too close. I know it makes my mama very anxious. Do you have any tips to help me feel more comfortable at the vet?  Your biggest fan, Reggie-doodle 

Hi Other-doodle,

Mama says this is a Behavior Question and she does not let me answer Behavior Questions on the interwebs, but I will try to sneak in a quick few Brilliant Thoughts before she catches me. It sounds like you had a bunch of Bad Days at the vet’s office, so now every time you go, you think it’s going to be a Bad Day. But what if it were usually a Good Day instead? My advices are no substitute for the help of a real live Dog-and-People Trainer, but here are some things to think about anyhow. If you live close enough, have your mama take you to the parking lot in front of the vet’s office a few times a week to eat dinner or play your favorite game or get your favorite massage. Bring your kibbles and your bowl or your toy and just hop out of the car, eat your dinners or have a game, then go home. Then once that becomes easy, eat your kibbles or play fetchings right inside the waiting room — or treats and maybe do some basic tricks like “sit” and “shake” or whatever you know and like best. Then once that becomes easy too, see if some of the peoples who work there will help your mama feed you kibbles and treats or toss your ball for you when  you visit. The activity isn’t important, it can be any of the Things Reggie Likes Best. The only thing is, Reggie, that you have to go slow and make sure that you are relaxed every step of the way. If you are too nervous to play or enjoy your massage or eat the treat, your mama moved too fast and needs to back up some. If you do it right, the vet’s office may soon be a place where Good Things happen instead of Bad Things. 

Hope this helps! 

Doodlebug who is basically a celebrity at the vet’s office because he visits so happily and so often 

Dearest Doodlebugger, I’ve got a really important question and it has to do with food! I am allergic to wheat and it makes my stomach really hurt & make funny noises, and makes me have very bad poops. Mom and Dad started feeding me wheat free food, but I only like the fish & sweet potato flavor, and only sometimes. My poor mom tries and tries to buy training treats that interest me, but she doesn’t have much luck. She even tries to stuff my kong with human foods, but I don’t even like that most of the time. I’ll eat anything I can steal off the kitchen counter, but when I know it’s for me it’s just not as fun or interesting. Sometimes I go a whole day without eating anything! It makes mamma worried and it makes me look a little skinny. So doodles, how do I help mom find foods that interest me without breaking the bank? Do you have any wheat-free recipes you want to share with her (we got some from two a few posts ago that mom can’t wait to bake!) Could I have another allergy that makes me not eat sometimes, or is it normal for the cutest pups to be picky with their foods? Thanks in advance doodle, you and chick are my favorites, and I wish could bite your necks in play all day, XoXo, Calvin 

Dear Finnicky Eater, 

One Major Question: Are you crazy? Your peoples give you fish and sweet potato foods and you are not interested? Jeepers creepers, I am just not sure what to make of this! I have always been a Champion Eater, so I can’t say that I understand where you’re coming from. But I can ask you some questions because I am a Clever Investigator, and maybe together we can get to the bottom of this very funny situation. How long ago did you make the switch from your wheaties to your new, wheat-free foods? If it was very very recent, then maybe it’ll just take a little time for you to adjust. Dogs won’t starve to death, so eventually you will probably get hungry enough to eat. Unless . . . my second question: how often do you steal food off the counter or get Human Food from the Table or Counter? If it’s often, tell your mama that it’s not good for you! You are just learning that you can pick whether to eat the dog foods or the human foods, and although the human foods may smell and taste yummy, they are not as full of nutritionality as dog foods for you! And third, have you asked your Dogtor about this situation? It is possible that there is some kind of medical situation (tummy problems? ouchy tooths? illness of the sense of smell?) that is making you not want to eat. Your Dogtor will be able to tell you whether this is the case.

So like I was saying, my brother the Chick and I are Champion Eaters. But a few times during his fostering career, my brother came across a dog who was too nervous or sick to eat for a few days, and he did find some tricks to make them more interested in their kibbles. Try having your people mix your kibbles with some cottage cheese, some low-sodium chicken broth, or (the best) some raw goat’s milk (available at the fancy hippie pet stores only). Start out with several tablespoons per cup of food, and then gradually reduce the Added Yumminess until you’re back down to just kibbles.

Best of luck Calvin, Doodlebug the Foodie

Doodlebug LOVES sweet potatoes!

Doodlebug LOVES sweet potatoes!

Dear Doodlebug: Foster, foster, and wear your harness

Dear Doodlebug

Dear Doodlebug here for another installment of my new blog advices column! It has been hot and sunny in Austin these past days which makes me and my brother very happy and very, very lazy. So ‘scuse me if I don’t write as much this week. I am very much enjoying your questions, so keep sending ’em!

On to business:

Dear Doodlebug, My mom keeps talking about fostering a pit bull type dog. The problem is I am not a big fan of this idea. I am HIGHLY dog selective and still get reactive if a dog looks at me the wrong way, even though I myself give long glares at most strange dogs I meet. My mom tells me this is rude and tries to distract me or go in the other direction, with limited success. I do have some friends I really like to play with and hang out with, though, preferably somewhat smaller and male and who don’t mind my rather rude behavior, rough play and wild vocalizations. Do you think I could ever handle a foster brother? Do you have suggestions? Do you think my mom is crazy for even considering this? Do you think you can convince her to give me more treats? Thanks Doodlebug. Sincerely, Shelby the Wonder Dog and Queen of all she surveys

Dear Queen (Shel)Bee ,

I have never gotten to be a foster brother myself, but I have heard stories about it from my brother the Chick, who has fostered many dogs. According to my brother, your mom can foster dogs whether you decide to be friend-like with them or not — the only question is whether YOU  foster them too. You see, some of my brother’s fosters, like Gonzo Bunny-Ears, Stevie Wonder, and Curious Georgia — became good pals with him and got to spend lots and lots of time together. 

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Others — like Lollie Wonderdog and Dora the Explorer — he wasn’t entirely sure about, so they only spent time together sometimes but not all the time. And others still — like Little Zee — did NOT want to be friends with my brother and there was no changing her mind, so they never even met at all. You see?

We wrote a few weeks ago about fostering and how to get started — please tell your mama to read that post if she hasn’t already. If she thinks that she can separate your house or crate-and-rotate, then she can get started irregardlessly of whether you are going to want to party with the foster over time. And if she is comfortable with her separation arrangement, then she can really take her time integrating you and the intruder (slowly, slowly, slowly) to maximize your chances at friendness. And who knows — you may even end up falling in love, just like my brother did with me!

XO, Doodlebug the foster failer

Dear Doodlebug… My question is this, why does my dear dog Tina love to burrow? Into your armpit, the corner of the couch, a pile of blankets, really anywhere. She particularly loves to burrow into my armpit/shoulder area making groan-y noise and then twist all around for belly rubs. Is this a special dog trick, do my armpits smell delicious or is her face really itchy? Please advise.  Yours Truly, Flummoxed in Philadelphia a.k.a Rose

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Dear Flummoxed,

I am not an expert of any kind, but I have been exercising my big brain thinking about your question just the same. What I came up with is this: maybe Tina likes to burrow because she is a dog who is getting back to her ancestral roots? Wild dogs (nothing like me and Chick, but our ancestors just the same) were denning animals, which means they liked to hide in small spaces to feel safe and warm. For those dogs, covering themselves up and making a little nest out of soft things was the best way to achieve the safeness and the warmness. Us modern dogs are no wild animals, of course, but maybe we still like to give a little shout-out to our homies of past by continuing some of their behaviors?

XO, Your Brainiac Bug

Dear Mr. Bug, What are your advices to get me to behave while in the car? I do so enjoy a car ride, but I get so excited sometimes that I misbehave. My mama sometimes uses a doggie harness, but sometimes we just need to go somewhere quick, and she is too lazy to put me in the harness. Are there any good ways to get me to be more calm so my momma doesn’t yell at me and threaten to pull the car over? Thanks, Hazel the Monkey-Puppy

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Dear Hazel,

Mama says that I can say this to you because she knows your mama personally. My extremest apologies if I offend you! You should tell your mom to stop being a lazy-butt and use your harness when you ride in the car! First of all, harnesses are much safer for the dog in case of accidentation. Second, they are safer for your mama because you won’t be trying to put yourself on her head like a hat while she is doing important things like texting using her turn signal and monitoring her surroundings. And third, they are so very stylish!

Also, tell your mama to never yell at you for being silly — you and I both know that when you are being silly, you are just trying to get attention, and her yelling is still attention (even if it’s mean attention), which is what you are going for. Tell her to strap on your harness, ignore your sillies, and praise you like the good girl you are when you’re being a good and calm girl.

Good luck! XO, The World’s Laziest Car Bug

Dear Doodlebug — Our blue Pit Bull Lola battles horrible allergies ever since she was a pup… fast forward to 3.5 years old — environmental allergies equaled numerous trips to the vet, Cornell University, allergy injections every 10 days… steroids, prednisone, benadryl, zyrtec… antibiotics for infections relating to her chewing and scratching… enzyme baths… have only temporarily helped. Then last year she developed a food allergy on top of it. I’m at a loss… we feel helpless and hate having her medicated all the time…. she’s just miserable. Per her food allergy tests we have ruled out much of what she is allergic to… rice, corn, chicken, potato… tho she did well with beef and quinoa, carrots and green beans… currently she on a dry prescription diet of Kangaroo & Oats, which worked for a bit in conjunction with her injections… but for the past 4 months she seems to be reverting… and altho she eats like a horse, she’s losing weight.  We are thinking of cooking her meals… can you recommend how to go about it to ensure she gets a balanced diet? Thank you ever so much! Peace, Love & Pawprints,  Jess

Dear Jess the Dog Chef,

Your poor Lola looks even worse than I did when I was having the worst of my allergenicness, yikes! I am not a vet or a nutritionist, so I can’t really help you. BUT, the good news I can offer you is that there are experts out there to solve your problems! Please find your nearest canine nutritionist and go see her or him. Most prescription vet formulas really aren’t very high quality as far as food goes, so I am not that suprised that she is losing weight. Home cooking (or feeding raw) might be a better option than the Iams food she is on right now. There are many books on the market about homemade dog food, but it’s a complex matter, and important, too. Best to save yourself the worry and consult with somebody whose whole job it is to help dogs like Lola eat healthy, well-balanced meals that don’t give them the itchies and the baldies!

XO, Your Ex-Itchy Bugaroo

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