Don’t Worry, Be Happy

June 3, 2012 § 22 Comments

Butterflies were fluttering in my tummy as we headed for our last Good Canine Citizen class. This particular class was to be different from the ones before it. After 8 weeks of training, it was time to put all our hardwork to the test. Both MM and I were hopeful that Lil’ Miss Maple would do her best after seeing how well she had adapted to learning the commands and befriending some of her canine classmates. So, when it was our turn to take the stage, we mustered up our nerves and went for it. There were times when I thought, “Oh, boy. I hope the examiner didn’t take notice of that slight deviance…” But, all in all, Miss Maple did pretty well. For the first part, that is!

The second part was a group test. And this was when it got to be a little much for the furball. The canine students were lined up in a row for a 30-second “Down-Stay”. Miss Maple was sandwiched between two of her bigger canine peers, and I think that made her feel slightly uncomfortable. About 15-seconds into the test, Miss Maple broke from her position and gingerly walked towards me. Oops. Well, that seemingly innocent move led to an automatic F-A-I-L. We didn’t bring home a ribbon that day, but we stayed on to soak in the joy and excitement of Miss Maple’s classmates who passed the exam with flying colours. Congratulations to the graduates! Here are a few of their beaming smiles ūüėÄ

Although we completed the Good Canine Citizen Course sans ribbon, we tried not to let that get us down with worrying thoughts. After all, our little munchkin tried her very best to make us proud. We’re more than happy with Miss Maple’s progress and, even though the course has ended, we’ll definitely continue brushing up on her Good Canine Citizen skills. So, to reward ourselves (and to celebrate Miss Maple’s belated 2nd birthday) we headed out for some fun in the park!

If there’s one thing that can lift Miss Maple’s spirits, it would be a ball—baseball, basketball, soccer ball, tennis ball… you name it, she’ll play with it! First up, the soccer ball.

What do you think? Does Miss Maple stand a chance to play in the 2014 FIFA World Cup? Watch out David Beckham… here comes Lil’ Miss Beckham!

Next up, the tennis ball. Miss Maple is frighteningly obsessed with this itty bitty bouncy thing. In fact, I dare say that her affection for the tennis ball far outweighs her addiction to liver treats!

As we were playing, a couple arrived at the park with their two furkids in tow. It took no time at all for Miss Maple to initiate greetings with a bark. We were introduced to ‘Girl’ (a very sociable Shih Tzu mix) and ‘Honey’ (a spunky little Chihuahua). It took a little longer for Miss Maple to warm up (she often requires a slow start) but, soon enough, the trio became friendly acquaintances. Here’s a cheerful video that we’ve pieced together as a thank you to Girl and Honey for reminding us to not worry (about the past) and be happy (about the present)!

I think this is one belated birthday adventure that Miss Maple will remember for a long time to come. Just look at the furball’s sand-caked paw. I think the picture says it all. Happy Birthday, Lil’ Miss Maple!

First Day Of School

April 15, 2012 § 10 Comments

Lil’ Miss Maple was dressed to impress for her first day of school. And what does she hope to accomplish by the end of the 8-week Good Canine Citizen Course (GCCC)? Why, to be the teacher’s pet, of course! ūüėČ

Miss Maple was, therefore, utterly embarrassed when we arrived at the wrong location and had to make a detour which cost us all to be late for class. When we eventually managed to scramble our way to the destination, we saw everyone¬†seated and patiently waiting for the latecomer… Miss Maple. Poor furball—this wasn’t exactly what she had in mind when she envisioned herself¬†strutting into class on time.

Maple and I sheepishly made our way to the backbench. As I settled into my seat¬†and listened¬†intently to the instructor, Miss Maple’s attention veered off. Ok, it looks like I’ll be the one taking notes for the both of us!

Well, at least Maple wasn’t the only one daydreaming in class…

Other canines were clearly focusing elsewhere, like Simba who had a ready smile for our camera (lol).

Half way through the lesson, some of the students got a little restless. Their commotion caused a  four-legged bystander to stop and investigate the scene. After concluding that he/she already possessed the traits of a good canine citizen, the onlooker bid farewell to the group with a chuckle.

By this time, I could sense the onset of boredom creeping up to Miss Maple. She was no longer interested in what was happening up front. Sitting at the back of the class meant that she could hide from the gaze of the instructor, and so Maple decided to relentlessly beckon MM (who was holding onto the camera) with super cute poses. At home, Maple would never invite us to take photos of her so openly! 

When we were dismissed from class, some of the dogsters immediately went for a water break. Good thing, too, because it was a rather warm day. 

Others¬†took the¬†opportunity to¬†gossip…

All in all, it was an intimate gathering and a diverse group of participants. Each one of us joined the GCCC for a variety of reasons, but I think it is the commitment to our dogs we share as owners that will bind us and encourage understanding and empathy. In a way, I suppose this course will serve to be more a support group for the humans than the canines (lol).

We have some homework to complete, which we’ll get started on pronto. We hope to make it up for our tardiness by acing our¬†assignment and having a good performance next week! ūüėČ

Jekyll and Hyde

April 9, 2012 § 23 Comments

A curious thing is happening to our Lil’ Miss Maple. The shy, timid, and inquisitive furball who used to make morning and evening walks an amusing delight has transformed into a rambunctious, stubborn, and… well, rude, canine citizen. Miss Maple’s personality began to gradually split into two opposing extremes shortly after her 1st birthday.

At home, Miss Maple is the most mild-mannered, docile, and easy-going pup a dog owner could ever wish for. The only time the little tyke will ever let out a sound is when her ears perk up upon hearing a stranger approaching or the doorbell ringing. On those occasions, her low-pitched growls and high-pitched barks are, for the most part, controllable depending on her assessment of the “threat”—the further the distance of the “threat”, the more subdued her warnings. When off-leash, say, at the dog park, Miss Maple would often scurry with her butt tucked in from the inquisitive noses of other canines. It takes a while for her to warm up, which she does eventually with certain dogs. Once the meet-and-greet is over, she will happily go about playing fetch on the same field as her fellow four-leggers.

Now, the other¬†side of Miss Maple (the hostile side that has us very confused and perplexed) surfaces whenever she is walking on-leash. Once she catches sight of a dog that is about to cross our path, this seemingly sweet-faced Poodle puts on a demonstration of her Cujo-esque prowess. Don’t be fooled by her small package. Miss Maple has a “no-holds-barred” approach and will lunge and bark at most dogs, both big and small (even the most aloof and non-provoking types who are just minding their own business).

It took us a while to figure out what was happening. After following a trail of clues from various searches on the Internet, we came across the term that precisely describes Miss Maple’s on-leash outbursts: “leash reactivity”. [Note: Some informative articles on this topic can be found here and here and here.] *sigh* At least we now know what we’re dealing with.

First things first, we have to re-examine the way that we’re walking Maple—or, rather, the way that she’s walking us! Our munchkin takes control of the leash about 95% of the time. The other 5% is when we find ourselves temporarily in the lead while she lags behind sniffing something wonderful on the ground.¬†Second, we’re going to apply Dr Patricia McConnell’s (author of Feisty Fido) techniques for helping dogs to overcome leash reactivity.¬†Third, I’ve registered myself and the Lil’ Miss for an 8-week Good Canine Citizen Course facilitated by the Singapore Kennel Club. The first class starts this weekend. While I’m a little nervous about the program, I’m also really hoping for positive results.

If anyone has had a similar experience with a leash-reactive dog and managed to troubleshoot the challenges of this problem behaviour, ¬†please do share your success story. The more insights we gain, the better equipped we’ll be in our endeavour to help Miss Maple!

Hidden Treasure

March 27, 2012 § 13 Comments

Today, Lil’ Miss Maple sniffed her way to a “pot of gold” in the most unlikely of places: a pile of leaves! The hidden treasure that Miss Maple discovered was a delectable (from a canine’s perspective) bone¬†from a¬†leftover piece of BBQ chicken wing. For Miss Maple, it was as if she had won the lottery. For me, it was my worst nightmare come true. The story goes like this…

The weather was so pleasant this afternoon that I decided to bring Miss Maple down to our neighbourhood lawn for a fun game of fetch. The landscape gardeners had gone off for lunch and left several piles of swept-up leaves at one corner. Initially, the furball showed very little interest in the leaves. After all, I was holding on to her itty bitty tennis ball for which Miss Maple has developed an intense obsession. We played a few rounds of fetch until I accidentally threw the ball into a pile of leaves. Well, the ball landed in the wrong pile! Miss Maple went head first and plunged her face in the leaves to retrieve her ball, or so I thought.

When it was taking longer than expected for¬†the¬†pipsqueak’s¬†head to re-surface, I knew something was amiss. Sure enough, Miss Maple forgot all about her ball and sped off with her find—the chicken bone. “Maple, stay!” “Drop it!” “Leave it!” “Come here!” Nothing worked. I was chasing a¬†mini lightening bolt on four¬†extremely¬†short but super fast¬†legs.¬†I heard¬†some crunching noises and, within seconds,¬†Miss Maple had gulped it all down.¬†Panic-stricken, I thrusted my hand in Miss Maple’s mouth to see if I could remove any remnants of the bone. But, there was nothing left to be found.

Dismayed and upset by the whole ordeal,¬†we returned home—Miss Maple was happily wagging her tail¬†while I hung my head low with guilt. I immediately called MM at work and replayed for him what had happened.¬†Concern and worry swept over me. Miss Maple, on the other hand, had the widest grin I had ever seen displayed on her face.

I’ll be watching our munchkin very carefully these next few days, and monitoring her ‘by-products’. So far, so good. No signs of lethargy, distress, or unusual poop. I’m hoping Miss Maple’s digestive system will work its magic so that the bone will pass right through. In the meantime, it¬†looks like we need a refresher course on the “drop it” and “leave it” commands. With enough practice, I’m hoping we’ll have better success next time!

Ice Ice Baby

April 29, 2011 § 22 Comments

If the title of today’s post is giving you irreversible memories of the ’90s and that¬†of American rapper Vanilla¬†Ice, then let me quickly refocus your attention¬†with a dose of cuteness—courtesy of Miss Maple ūüėČ

Last Friday, at the Bukit Panjang market, I picked up a fresh pineapple as well as a small towel. Why a towel? Well, allow me to explain (in a rather long-winded fashion). 

Blogging has introduced us to people from all walks of life and whose personal experiences with their own furry friends have inspired¬†us to¬†try new things that we wouldn’t have otherwise thought of ourselves.¬†Lately, I have become very impressed by¬†pawrents who have banished commercially-produced dog food and are faithfully feeding¬†their furkids a BARF diet¬†with amazing results.¬†

Although Maple gets to enjoy some of¬†nature’s bounty in the form of fruits and vegetables,¬†her main staple¬†still consists of kibbles. I hope one day we can¬†strike a balance and provide Maple with a more well-rounded diet that will¬†ensure her a long and healthy life. Until then, we’ll be taking one small pawprint at a time. As a start, we recently purchased a package of raw beef marrow bones.

The idea¬†of feeding Maple¬†raw foods at home, however, has been a contentious issue for me.¬†The thought of Salmonella and E. coli being spread by Maple’s little paws from floor to rug to furniture sends¬†me into¬†hypochondriac¬†overdrive. Thanks to Anna from AKG Inspiration¬†for this great¬†suggestion: use a towel as a place-mat (it makes for an easy clean-up job). Why hadn’t we thought of that!

And now, here’s how we have begun introducing Maple to the idea of situating her tooshie on a towel¬†when eating¬†raw foods:

1.) Train with Ice-Cubes. They’re a good starter and if they accidentally fall off the towel, well then, no worries,¬†it’s just water.¬†

2.) Towie, Sit, Stay, OK.¬†These are the four basic commands we use with Maple. Towie (short for towel) is a new word we’re teaching Maple. That way, she won’t confuse her Towie¬†for her¬†a Blankie, which is intended for play and snuggles.¬†

3.) No!¬†I almost forget the fifth and most essential command. In the event Maple decides to move the ice-cube to another location off the towel, we’ll say ‘No’ followed by ‘Towie’ and Maple will return to her spot on the towel (well, at least we hope she will for the most part).¬†

4.) Sit Back and Relax. It’s a lot of fun just watching Maple having a blast with the ice-cube. Seeing Maple this way has certainly given us the confidence of feeding her raw foods in the comfort of our own home.

I can’t wait to share with you Maple’s very first experience with a raw bone treat. Come back on Monday to view the event unfold!¬†

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