Love Sick Relationships

lovesickshio

The most amazing thing about dog ownership is the relationship that you have with your dogs based purely on interpretation of each other's behaviors. Shio understands my quirky habits better than I do and I always make the effort to figure out what he is trying to tell me. For example, if there is food on the counter he'll sit on the floor closest to the bowl and stare at me until he grabs my attention. Then whips his head to look up towards the bowl, then look back at me. It's very obvious what he's trying to tell me there! There are some less obvious interpretations that can only be known after co-existing for longer time periods. I came home early from work today to nap after feeling sick and found home greeting me at the door. He was not as enthused as normal but I was too groggy to realize. Then I went for a catnap in the bedroom and noticed that he climbed onto the bed to nap with me. Still groggy, I thought it to be a rare sign of empathy from our Shiba. I lightly napped and was awaken several times by his restlessness. Finally realizing that sneaking in a good nap was futile, I stood up and went back to my computer with him following closely behind. I had the inkling that something was wrong the whole time and finally followed my instincts and leashed him up for a walk.

Immediately upon walking out the door, Shio laid down on our welcome mat and vomited his breakfast. He then proceeded to quickly trot to our park to finish the rest of his business on a pile of leaves. This circle of excretion processes happened several times over the next 30 minutes and I took him immediately to the vet for some medication to ease his discomfort. I felt pain for having made him wait so long to go out and realized how considerate he was to hold it for as long as it could so that he wouldn't soil the home.

He is now feeling much better and has been sleeping it off. Test results come back tomorrow.

Shio and I had a difficult year but moments like these make me realize how fragile we both are and how much I love him.

Life with Two Shibas

Sharing a bed

We frequently receive questions from single Shiba homes on what life is like with two Shibas. It's very difficult to answer because every family's experience is dependent upon the Shibas brought into the home. The only way that we can describe it is to share the way that we experienced it. To the best of my ability, here are the synopses of our experiences based on what I perceive as the most important topics that need to be addressed upon introducing a second dog into your home.

First Introduction

This is very important because it sets the tone for the relationship of the two dogs in the beginning. Emi came to us as a foster and we met outside the neighborhood dog run so that it was a 'neutral' setting. This means a meeting point outside of what your resident Shiba considers his resting location or home base. We never met Emi before and had no idea what her personality would be like. That day, an NYCSR volunteer transported a few Shibas so I wasn't the only person there to pick up a foster dog. Seeing that one of the foster humans needed a ride home, I offered to drive her and her foster dog home after dropping Shio off inside the house and took Emi with me. When I returned home, I allowed Emi to enter the home directly without the need for another introduction in a neutral area because she was just spayed and very delicately shy. Knowing that Shio is sensitive towards wounded animals, I knew that he would be respectful of her space. Under my supervision, Emi cautiously sniffed the home while Shio and I gave her space to explore. Shio maturely controlled his excitement towards the new animal in his home. When she finally finished sniffing her new home, Emi laid down in the living room to rest and that's when Shio started begging her to play with him. Unfortunately for Shio, after the long journey to Brooklyn, Emi was exhausted and closed her eyes to sleep under our media stand instead of reciprocating his request.

It's important that I disclose that this was how I chose to introduce them because of what I assessed of Emi's and Shio's personalities. Had Emi been a hyper puppy with no concept of boundaries or respect towards older dogs, Emi would've entered the home in a different manner. It's likely that instead of allowing both parties to have free reign of the home and freedom to go up to each other as they pleased, they would've been leashed and baby gates would be put to full use until they adapted to each other.

Mealtimes 

This gets a little tricky when you don't know your second dog. If you're unsure, it's recommended that the first few meals be in separate rooms until you get to know your second dog better or until you are able to gauge how your first dog will react with a newcomer around his/her food. I know that Shio is obsessed with food and treats so our goal when having another dog in the house is to keep him from eating food that's not his. Emi wouldn't eat kibbles the first night so we hand fed her some of Shio's homemade meatloaf and that did the trick. In the beginning, Shio scarfed down his food and immediately went for Emi's bowl while she was slowly eating. Neither were aggressive so there wasn't a need to separate them during feedings but I did need to supervise to make sure that Shio didn't eat two meals. After a while, they adjusted to each other. Emi eats a lot faster now so by the time Shio's finished, she's almost finished as well. Shio has learned to wait until I say it okay to lick Emi's bowl but sometimes he'll 'forget' to wait for me. :)

In terms of budgeting money for food, we basically doubled what we normally spend for food. Emi eats the same amount as Shio because she has more energy.

Leashed Walking

Shio is the worst at walking on a leash. He frequently protests when he doesn't want to go the direction you want to walk or if he's not up for walking. Emi was a dog that didn't even know what a collar or leash was until she came into our home. She also refused to walk because everything about Brooklyn sounds frightened her. If I had to do it over again, I would've made sure that Shio was trained to walk on a leash like a champ before we took in a foster. There's really no sight funnier than a person walking two dogs who refuse to walk. Except if you're that person who has two dogs who refuse to walk!

Initially, Emi would only walk to hide under cars or sit and refuse to budge altogether. Sometimes, she would wrap herself around sign posts and be amazed when she tethered herself to the post. After she was comfortable with the sensation of a harness/collar and leash, we started off with short walks to the dog run so that Emi could sit and take in her new surroundings as she pleased. It took a month for her to be comfortable enough to move away from sitting on the picnic tables in the dog runs and run around chasing tennis balls but she loved the dog run so much that eventually we moved onto a different park so she could gain more confidence.

When Josh and I were together, we'd each walk one dog. When it was just me, I had one leash in either hand for easy control of two dogs who enjoyed protesting. After time I learned to walk both dogs with one hand and used a coupler. However, we changed to having the dogs on one leash each because it's easier to control the dogs when they're on separated leads. For instance, if one was misbehaving, instead of pulling the coupler to grab both their attentions, I'd pull my hand left/right or foward/back to grab the attention of the offending party since the offending dog's leash would likely be the one that's taut.

Housebreaking

Emi was housebroken when she came to us but was on both a pee and poop strike for the weekend from stress. We went out for walks every two or three hours just as we would've with a 3 month old puppy. This went on for the first few days that Emi was with us so we could figure out how long she can hold it. We had one poop and pee incident each during the first week but we quickly adjusted to each other's schedules after that. She would only poop and pee on grass so we worked a visit to dog-friendly grassy areas during our neighborhood walks.

Basic Obedience Training

This was a little difficult because Shio already knows his commands and would often demand that we give him a treat when we wanted to focus on Emi. To this day, Emi only knows basic commands (sit, paw, lie down, and recall) whilst Shio knows a whole bunch of other tricks on top of the basics. We handled it just by alternating commands for each dog. Emi would paw and get a treat, then Shio would paw and get a treat.

When it became particularly annoying to have Shio paw my face 100x when Emi was learning, I'd take her into a room that Shio won't step foot in, the bathroom, and teach her in there. Luckily like most Shibas, Emi is a quick learner and it took little time. Shio's refusal to enter the bathroom helped us though trying to give him a bath is another story!

Veterinary Visits and Costs

This became a little tricky for us. With Shio, we've been lucky enough to only take him for basic visits but after Emi arrived, we've taken her to the vet a couple of more times due to the fact that she's clumsy. We wound up adding her to Shio's existing pet insurance plan and she's more than paid for the plan in full for the year already. We learned that with two dogs, you need to worry about illnesses and not as much accidents. What I mean by this is that if one dog gets sick, the other has a higher chance of getting sick. If one is accident prone, it's not likely that the other will need to be taken in to see the vet as well.

Otherwise for basic care, it's doubling the cost for wellness shots and routine visits. Some of us will be lucky and only need to make one visit to bring both dogs for routine visits but others will need to make separate trips for each dog.

 

I've covered what I think is most important with stories of how we experienced it and hope that you'll find it helpful. After the initial bumps work themselves out and the pups spend every morning and night playing or cuddling together, having two Shibas are such a wonderful thing. Just make sure that you realize that your productivity level will drop dramatically because all you'll want to do is play with them!

I'd love to hear stories from readers who already live in a 2+ dog homes, especially if there's something I missed!

Emi's February and March Update

Why hello neglected blog! Long time no update! I've gotten to the point where I've been avoiding updates because so much time has passed since our last one that there is just too much to write. So I'll just start off with Emi's update. It's been a crazy 2 months for our dear little adopted one.

She's found herself in a number of medical issues but luckily only one issue was bad enough to warrant a vet visit. At some point during these last two months, we decided to get health insurance for her. Let's see what they cover!

1. Swollen eye: As a dog that looooooves tennis balls, she often runs side to side in front of me when I'm about to throw a ball. I usually throw it low to the ground so she can scurry after it but one night she decided to run into the ball face first. It was dim outdoors and the only reason why I knew she was hurt was because she let out a loud yelp and then started pawing at her face. Then she was squinting with one eye. It took 2 days for the swelling to disappear and she is now fine.

2. Sore elbow: Shio always knocks her over while playing but one day he knocked her into our TV stand and she started lifting her leg. Seconds later, she was able to walk around without any visible issues so we didn't think much of it. After we came home from dinner the same night, she limped down the stairs to greet us and we knew that something wasn't right. Josh lifted her up and I massaged her leg to see where the problem was and she winced whenever I put pressure around her elbow. We decided to wait a day to see how she felt instead of bringing her to the vet since she was able to place weight on the leg. That night, I crated her or held her on my chest to make sure she didn't run around too much at night. The next morning, she ran around like the crazy little puppy that she was and felt no more pain in the elbow.

3. Diarrhea: We went away to an upstate cabin for a short vacation and when we returned, Emi kept pooping in the apartment. It was unusual for her to do so but the stool was still semi-firm and I thought that she was having accidents. I had class the next morning so I crated her and didn't think we would have problems while she was in her crate. But she had diarrhea in the crate and fell asleep in it. I took her out immediately and bathed her and she pooped 5 more times in the span of 2 hours and it was all runny. That's when I rushed her and her stool to the vet for testing. She was placed on medication to mitigate the elevated levels of bacteria and after her test results came back positive for parasites, she was placed on some more meds. Luckily, she started feeling much better after the vet visit.

4. Plum pits: The following weekend, we went out for dinner and when we came back, we saw that the dogs had gotten into the trash. It was most likely Emi because Shio hasn't gone through trash cans since he was 5 months old. We found a broken plum pit shell on the ground and realized that the dogs might've eaten some of the pits. Knowing that some seeds might be dangerous, we immediately called our emergency vet and they recommended that we bring her in. During the time I was on the phone with the vet, Emi zoomed around like crazy, wanting to play with us, and so the vet told us to call ASPCA Poison Control. They told us that the pits that she had shouldn't give her any issues and just to watch out for any sign of obstruction. She wound up vomiting a plum pit back up 2 weeks later.

5. Random vomiting: For a period of time, Emi would randomly wake up at 4am and vomit bile. Just once. And then everything was fine and we cleaned up and all went back to sleep. We still don't know what the cause was but we're happy it stopped.

Emi also found herself in some trouble when she ran out my parent's front door when we visited them on Long Island. She was afraid of being at the house because she didn't know anyone while Josh and I were out shopping. It took several neighbors, passersby, and a group of joggers to chase her down. She ran for an hour around the neighborhood and finally settled under a car where they finally caught her.

Now that we've gotten all the not-so-great news out of the way, the good news is that she's finally warmed up to Josh! She will come downstairs and run around in circles when Josh gets home and snuggle up next to him when he's on the couch. He's very much in love with her and it's nice to see that she's finally reciprocating! We find that she's also very clumsy. When she gets overly excited, she'll sprint around indoors like a madwoman and often misjudges the heights of objects. We've watched her try to jump over the back of a couch that's 3 ft. tall and will clear it! Other times doesn't get enough lift and bounces off the back of the couch.

We've hired a dogwalker for the two of them twice a week. The thought is that Emi needs to be outside and out of her comfort zone. There are times where she is still frightened when she leaves our home and we want to her build confidence and also a relationship with someone in our neighborhood other than Josh and I. It's been one week and so far so good...

We're happy that she's happy with us but this girl is definitely a petite bundle of trouble.