Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Hair Plucking….Yuck….

Little Daisy is sweet, petite, and adorable in so many ways….but she has the ears of an old man. A very old man.  Inside, not out.

There’s a mass of long gray hairs growing inside her ears that would win a world cup competition. They itch her and annoy her, but we figured that was just nature’s way of protecting her ears from foreign objects making their way in.

I don't know if I want to do this "plucking" thing....


The vet told us that we have to have her ear hairs plucked.

That’s right, plucked.

Women know the pain of plucking eyebrows well enough, and to think of all these masses of hairs being plucked from inside a puppy’s ears is enough to make a grown, pluck-hardened woman cringe. I asked the vet if this hurts, and he said it’s “uncomfortable”. Now, I know what it means when doctors say understated things like that – like a shot is just a little “pinch”, but it actually feels like a metal spike being jammed into your arm – so I’m figuring that this has the potential to be brutal. And considering the amount of hair we’re talking about, it’s not just one pluck, it has to happen over and over again….several times a year.

I talked to the groomer about it today, and she tells me that dogs actually “come to enjoy it”. Uh-huh. Like we come to enjoy root canals after we’ve had a few??

I guess this hairy-ear gene must run through the Havanese and/or Bichon lines. I’ll report the results on Monday – D-day is Saturday at 9 AM!


Baby Gate Tales of Horror :)

Loud noises have always scared Daisy, but her fear passes after a while (like with the whole dropping-things-in-the-kitchen fiasco when we’d just brought her home). Well, not so with the baby gate.

We’ve restricted Daisy to the family room and adjoining kitchen areas since we first brought her home – apparently you’re not supposed to give small young puppies the run of the house, according to vets and dog experts. They feel safer in smaller areas until they grow up a bit.

Anyway, during those first couple of months, we couldn’t get this baby gate to fit between the door frames properly. It was always either too tight and wouldn’t lock, or too loose and ready to fall over if you so much as whispered at it. The grooves to close it are pretty close together, but apparently we needed a half size (much like what happens with clothing sometimes: the small is too small and the medium is too large – where’s the small-and-a-half??)

So, depending on who secured the baby gate, it was either wobbly or so tight the wood door frame got dents. On one of those wobbly days, Daisy charged at the gate as I climbed over it, sliding into the bottom of it and causing it to fall over right on top of her! Though funny looking to us, she did NOT find this amusing in the least. I picked it up off her, and she ran into the family room. Not a good experience.

Another day she jumped up on it and must have sensed its wobbliness, so she backed off, sending it crashing down onto the hardwood floor. She raced away with her ears back like the devil himself was after her.

Things like this happened again and again.

None of this taught her not to jump on the gate, but they did teach her that the gate was something to fear when it wasn’t standing securely in the doorway.

Now, when I want to go out back to water the plants without taking her along, I make her sit and stay in the family room while I move the gate from the dining room/kitchen doorway to the kitchen/family room doorway. No problem there – the baby gate is in action and she doesn’t want any part of it. Her ears go back, her eyes open wide, and she moves further into the family room. When I come back in, she’s still deep in the family room, not trying to jump on or over the gate at all with a “please get that thing out of here” expression on her face.

As you can see from the picture, she has no problem with it when it’s in its usual kitchen/dining room spot!

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Jury Duty Update…again

I just called and found out that I have to report in tomorrow for jury duty. 8:30 AM. Crap. Today’s group got to report in at 1:30 PM…that’s more my style…. 😦 Reeeally dreading this.


The Dreaded Jury Duty Arriveth


Well, they finally caught up with me. The Jury Duty police. I’ve never been called to jury duty and felt quite lucky every year as my friends and family members all groaned when they saw that thin little summons in the mail. Now it’s my turn. Yuck.

This is causing problems on top of problems for us. First of all, we can’t leave Daisy alone for 8+ hours, so DH has to work out of the house as much as possible, which he doesn’t like doing (it’s a concentration thing – too many distractions at home). But he’ll have to attend meetings in person, which hopefully won’t last more than 4 hours including travel time. Four hours is Daisy’s max. One day this week I know he has a full-day meeting, so DD will have to try to work from home. Don’t know if that’ll be approved or not. What a nuisance.

Second, I’m a freelance journalist who works from home (no corporate job where they have to let you have the time off), so now I’ll have to work nights and weekends to stay on top of articles, columns, web writing, and, of course, this blog! (This is my one piece of personal writing and I really enjoy it, it’s kind of like the intermezzo sorbet that cleanses my writing palate. Yes I was a restaurant reviewer as well!) Working nights will be tough because I’ll have to give up family time. Working weekends is nearly impossible because all of our weekends for September and October are totally taken with social engagements – and I’m NOT giving those up!!!!

And unless any of the people I’ll need to interview live in another country or clear across the US, it won’t be possible for me to contact them during business hours. Lovely, just lovely. 😦

Well, dear blog friends, I guess we’ll just have to do the best we can do and pray that I get called the first day and that the attorneys find me utterly unacceptable. Then it’ll all be over. DD feels that there should be an exception made for people who tend to their pets full time, just like there’s an exception for parents who stay home with their under 18 kids full-time. At this point I’m not willing to have another baby just to get off jury duty for the next 18 years, though….. LOL!

And then I listen to BBC news and I hear about the horrible suffering around the world and I feel pretty darned ashamed of myself for griping so much about this relatively small inconvenience to my life. Perspective.

UPDATE! I called the recorded message last night and found out that I don’t have to report to Jury Duty this morning – I’m on call! If I’m on call tomorrow as well or if they miraculously pick a jury from this first 130 people they’re calling in today, then my obligation is DONE for the next 3 years. Fingers crossed!!!!


In Memory of 9/11, To All Our Heroes, Human and Canine

Thank you. Thank you for putting the welfare of others before your own. For jumping to action and putting yourselves in harm’s way while the rest of the world watched from a safe distance. For those we’ve lost and those who live on, dealing with the horrors they saw….thank you.

Take a moment to remember our fallen heroes, the fallen victims, the suffering survivors, and the families left behind. Stay as devoutly American in the future as you were on that dark day. And don’t ever let that day be forgotten.

Canine Memorials:
World Trade Center’s Heroic Dog Yearbookhttp://www.dogsinthenews.com/issues/0206/articles/020601y.htm

World Trade Center’s Heroic Rescue Dogshttp://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/980774/posts

K9 Task Forcehttp://k9taskforce.com/portal/ – 9/11 and beyond.


New York Museum World Trade Center Rescue Recovery Responsehttp://www.nysm.nysed.gov/wtc/

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Acupuncture for Dogs… and Other Animals

My uncle has an older dog who’s suffering with arthritis. She has trouble moving around, getting up stairs, etc. My uncle also has arthritis issues, and since acupuncture works to ease his pain, he decided to take his dog to a veterinary acupuncturist for treatments as well. And guess what – it works!

I hear this acupuncture is very relaxing...I love a good doze....

Acupuncture gave his dog the ability to move around like a much younger pup again. He now takes her for treatments weekly, and she’s clearly benefiting from this care.

So I became interested in finding out more about this, since we never know what problems our furry friends might have that can be relieved or even cured through holistic approaches, which I far prefer over potentially damaging medicines. Our last vet (who is now retired) took acupuncture classes just so he could make sure the injections he gave animals were painless – what a kind-hearted man he was! He never earned an extra penny from it, he just didn’t want to cause animals any unnecessary pain. And since our dog never once yelped or even winced during a shot, I knew he was onto something.

Anyway, there’s clearly plenty of interest in this field because there’s an International Veterinary Acupuncture Society! And it appears that the IVAS and other acupuncture societies also focus on other holistic treatments for animal diseases and problems. Also, some pet insurance companies also covers alternative medicine such as acupuncture and acupressure – check out VPI Pet Insurance (http://www.petinsurance.com/healthzone/pet-articles/pet-health/Alternative-Therapies-for-Dogs.aspx).

I’ve  had acupuncture twice myself to cure tendinitis, and it did work – once I did electro-puncture and acupuncture alone, and the second time I did them in combination with physical therapy (for a different type of injury). In fact, the physical therapist, who was recommended by my traditional sports injury specialist, advocated the use of acupuncture as well. What I ended up with was a permanent cure rather than the temporary relief from a cortisone shot that the sports injury specialist wanted to give me.

A friend of mine exhausted every traditional means for her tendinitis – awful medications that had really nasty side effects and physical therapy (that was prescribed WAY too soon and caused more pain) – and was on the verge of surgery “that probably wouldn’t help anyway but he’d do it” (can you imagine doctors saying that??!) and a restricted life, because the tendinitis had severely affected her right hand. I talked her into acupuncture and, lo and behold, it’s clearing up! The use of her hand has returned and she’s slowly seeing more improvements and less pain. Even if it hadn’t worked, there would be no nasty side effects or long-range damage, which is a definite concern regarding with medications.

If you want to consider this holistic path for your furry friend, here are some online resources that can give you more information and lead you to local practitioners:

American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncturehttp://www.aava.org/ – click on the “Links” page for a directory of veterinary acupuncturists.

Acupuncture.comhttp://www.acupuncture.com/animals/dog.htm – All the information you’ll ever need to know about acupuncture for animals; this page will discuss dogs specifically. You can also find holistic vets in your area by typing in your zip code – I was shocked and thrilled at how many there are near us!

The Holistic Vethttp://www.theholisticvet.com/vet_acupuncture2.html – Tells you exactly what to expect with acupuncture for dogs. Great info.

International Veterinary Acupuncture Societyhttp://www.ivas.org.

Physical therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, and/or massage may not only help your pet overcome an injury, they may also be ways to prevent such injuries from occurring again.  As practitioners of alternative medicines always say – natural cures first, medications second, surgery as a last resort!

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Regression and Progression

Boy, did we get a dose of it. That awful, frustrating thing that happens to some dogs – regression. Ugh.

I've been a baaad puppy.....

A couple weeks ago, Daisy suddenly started having accidents in the house off her wee-wee pad. But the weird thing is that it was only in the morning, not during the rest of the day.

Once the first week of housebreaking training passed, she was 90% accurate. After the second week, she was 100%…until this. All of a sudden out of nowhere she started just going wherever she wanted to in the morning. It’s not like she’s bursting and can’t make it to the pad, she says her “hellos” and wanders around and while DD is putting Daisy’s breakfast in her bowl….it happens.

The experts all say this isn’t unusual and to just start retraining all over again, so even though it’s not a complete regression, we went “back to basics” and watched her like she was the last morsel at a beggar’s banquet. If we saw signs of impending poop, we picked her up and put her on the pad. If she peed off-pad, she was put in the “naughty room” (aka laundry room). And if she somehow pooped without us seeing it, we scooped it up and dropped it openly on the pad, saying “Poop on potty” over and over while she watched intently. We must have sounded like lunatics; thank God we’re not in an apartment or a duplex!

It was one frustrating week, but thankfully it’s passed.

They say regression can happen if a new puppy or new family member is brought into a home where another dog already lives, but we certainly didn’t do that. She hasn’t been in a kennel (we’re so dreading that) , wasn’t being left alone too much,and if she was trying to claim leadership status, it certainly failed.

She’s back on track now and along with that, we’re seeing some other signs of maturing as well. She listens better, even when tempted by a fallen bit of food or tempting object. If we say “no”, she backs right off and just stares at the temption.  If she tries to nip playfully and we say “no bite”, she just licks us like crazy.

SO glad to have that behind us, that was one frustrating week!

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Shiatsu for Dogs… and Other Animals

I'm ready for my massage now....

Years ago I went to a hair stylist whose hair washer had studied shiatsu. During and after the shampooing, he did shiatsu massage on clients’ scalps, and I can tell you it was one of the most wonderful, amazingly relaxing things I’ve ever experienced. My stylist could have given me a Dutch boy haircut for all I cared, I’d still have gone back again and again just for the scalp massage.

The other day, as I was cradling Daisy on my lap and watching her eyes close as I stroked her little head, it brought to mind those incredibly calming days at that hair stylist. I began thinking that it would make sense to be able to do shiatsu on dogs (and other “pettable” pets in general), so I checked it out online.

Success! The animal health care experts are streaks ahead of me. I found books and information on shiatsu for large and small animals, as well as a school that specializes in animal massage – the Northwest School of Animal Massage (www.nwsam.com). By going to their “Links” page, you can use the drop-down menu to find graduate practitioners in your US state or Canadian province (and a couple other countries as well). Apparently massage is great for animal rehabilitation, service dogs, athletic dogs, horses, etc.

They even offer distance learning so you can perform massage correctly on animals in your own home or become certified in animal massage! If you just want to do a hands-on quick-learn, there are a few books: Shiatsu for Dogs; Canine Massage;The Healing Touch for Dogs; Dog Massage: A Whiskers to Tail Guide, and a few more.

There are even YouTube videos showing how to perform Shiatsu on dogs – you’ve never seen such a relaxed bulldog! Just Google Shiatsu for Dogs and you’ll find them all. Very cool!

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The Tooth Fairy Visits

Okay, I’ve had 4 dogs over the course of my life, and I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I didn’t know that puppies lose their baby teeth. ::blush::

Do I get special treats from the Tooth Fairy?

This morning I walked into the kitchen and found DD sitting on the floor with a “worried mommy” expression on her face, cuddling Daisy on her lap. Immediately that awful chill of anxiety ran through me as I anticipated the worst – bloody stools, an eye problem, or some other nasty little surprise. DD said in a scared little voice, “Daisy lost a tooth. I found it on the floor near her chew ring.”

Yikes. Do puppies lose their teeth like humans do? Thank God we live in the age of the internet, because within minutes we were online Googling “Do puppies lose their teeth”.  And within a split second, good ol’ Google delivered dozens of answers that immediately calmed our frantic nerves.

Why don’t vets tell us to expect this stuff along with all the other things they prepare us for? With my past three dogs I never found a lost tooth, but the websites all said that we don’t usually find them unless we step on one of those razor-sharp babies with our bare feet. Ouch.

So the tooth fairy cometh, and now we’ll be ready for her. Daisy will be 6 months old this Monday, September 13th, so she’s right on schedule for a small dog. (Apparently, small dogs lose their “milk teeth” a little later than big dogs.)

I was a much more relaxed dog owner when I was oblivious to all this stuff!!


Seeking Mischief….

anywhere she can! Sometimes we can see her plotting, standing in the middle of the room with her ears at attention, looking from one thing to another and figuring out if there’s a way to cause mayhem. Other times it just comes out of the blue, when we least expect it – the “sneak attack”.

This little pup would have been perfect in the black ops. 😉


Hey! I'm over here! Play with me!

The 007. A quiet, relaxing evening at home. A little reading, a little conversation, a little cocoa. An occasional cricket breaks the silence of the warm summer evening outside. Nervana. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a maniacally loud crunching, crashing sound shatters our contentment, and everyone jumps up at once to find the source of this chaos.

Within these few seconds, a slamming sound is underscored by frantic, high-pitched barking and the sound of racing claws on a hardwood floor. We all converge on the kitchen – nearly knocking each over in the process – in time to witness the latest puppy phenomenon – the discovery by a 5 month old puppy of a common housefly. “Unplug the computer! She’ll pull the cord!” one person shouts. “She’s knocking over the garbage can!” another screams. And so it goes.

Mission Impossible. “Daisy! No! Naughty!” [Fill in the blank as to what rule she broke this time…] And the chase is on. As soon as she knows she’s done wrong, she studies us intently as if trying to gauge by our eyes just how much trouble she’s actually in and what we’re going to do about it. But…take one step toward her and she starts racing like a demon around and around the room, slipping through narrow openings between pieces of furniture, around the coffee table – wherever her little legs can take her. How does a small dog get up so much speed??!!? It’s absolutely impossible to catch her when she’s in this frenzied state. Crazy Daisy.

Rambo 2000. The family’s busy. Occupied. Now’s my chance. They’re on that side of the room, they can’t see me in this little nook. Now, let’s see…. So there we are happily enjoying the evening, when suddenly we hear it – BANG BANG BANG! What the heck?? We remain still and listen closely. BANG BANG!

We run to the window, stepping over the innocent-looking (emphasis on “looking”) puppy lying in a recessed nook by a carved wood blanket chest. Nothing’s amiss outside, so we shrug it off and go back to our evening. BANG BANG BANG! It’s not coming from outside, it’s coming from in here. There’s only one potentially guilty party among us. I quietly look over the edge of  the sofa, and there it is — Daisy is playing with the heavy metal handle on the side of the blanket chest and as she licks it, it lifts up and bangs back down into the side of the chest. Now that she knows that’s unacceptable, she uses it on occasion to get our attention. Shrewd puppy.

Can’t wait to see what new little antics she’ll come up with over time!


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