How about a senior dog for Christmas?

Senior Dogs Project

Many people think that older dogs are “set in their ways” and can’t adjust to a new environment, but that is simply not true.  Many senior dogs are more than able to adapt to a new home.  What people are really saying is that they themselves are not able to adapt to the idea of a senior dog – even though older dogs are generally calmer, housebroken, trained and aren’t impressed by a lot of things that freak younger dogs out.  For someone looking for a companion who enjoys leisurely walks and is content to relax most of the day, a senior Shiba is a lot better bet than a freakazoid 1 year old whose main ambitions are to chew through the living room wall.

Current list of senior Shibas and Shiba mixes that need homes

(The above is based on my location, so you might have to re-enter the information to get a list closer to home)

Shibas can live beyond 16 and there are plenty of dogs out there that need homes and are beyond the age that most dogs are easily adopted by.  A training class and a regular schedule can speedily adapt a senior dog to a new lifestyle.  This is a great idea to put into the heads of friends and family who are considering a new dog.

Christmas is coming

This is a Shiba blog, but I thought I would share one of the emails I sent to someone posting on Craigslist about buying a Pomeranian for her mother for Christmas:

Hey, noticed you were looking for a Pom.  Hold your breath, because you’ve attracted the notice of one of those Dog Obsessed People who is happy to tell you everything she knows about finding a purebred puppy!  (Aren’t you happy?  Be happy!)  😀

Here’s a link to the Pomeranian Club of Canada:

There is a breeder’s list in there and a host of other interesting articles – mostly geared towards the serious show breeder, but some that could be useful to you and your mother – training tips and grooming tips.

Here’s a link to a site about what questions to ask a dog breeder.  A responsible dog breeder isn’t going to let you buy a puppy for a Christmas present as a surprise, but they will understand you paying for a puppy as a Christmas present if they get to meet you and your mother to reassure themselves that the puppy is going to go to a good home.  There are many people, sadly, that buy puppies as Christmas presents, only to dump them when it’s clear that this Christmas present needs to be walked, fed, housebroken, trained… so don’t feel that it’s something about YOU that makes the breeder go “Well, uh…”  It’s just the desire for the best home possible for their puppies.

You want a breeder who’s intense like this – a breeder who is determined to get the best home is a breeder who has spent a lot of time making sure that these are the Best Damn Puppies on the Planet and as close to what a Pomeranian should look and act like.   They may seem a little crazed and INTENSE but try to look past that and focus on the quality of the dogs.  (Yeah, I’ve been in the dog world a while – could you tell?  haha)

They may not have puppies for Christmas – responsible breeders don’t produce puppies for money or for a specific timeframe.  The money you pay is going to go towards the stud fees, care and testing of the mother during the pregnancy and the care and feeding and shots/worming of the puppies during their time with the breeder.  $500 is a little low for a well-bred Pomeranian; rates go from $600-$1000 for a well-bred anything; I paid $1000 for my Shiba inu dog and that’s considered pretty much the going rate.  However, there are cheaper Poms out there that you can consider… skip down to the bottom of this message if you’re more interested in them!  But it’s worth it to keep on reading… 🙂

This list seems a little intimidating, but it’s not that bad, really.  Since the breeding of dogs isn’t something governed by law, like the production of other merchandise (which the law does categorize dogs under, unfortunately), it’s up to you to ensure that the quality of the puppies that you’re getting is high.  Buying a puppy from a pet shop or breeder who “doesn’t bother with all that fancy stuff” is like buying a house without doing a building inspection; you can’t get your money back and it could take thousands of dollars to fix any problems that crop up in the years ahead

You might not want a “show dog” but you do want a happy, healthy companion for your mother – the Pomeranian breed is afflicted with several problems, including knee problems, eye problems and skin problems.  You definitely want a breeder who can tell you that they’ve taken steps (genetic testing, such as knee X-rays, eye exams, thyroid testing, etc) to prevent these conditions from showing up in their puppies.  A puppy who doesn’t have this strong genetic heritage behind it is at high risk (toy breeds are especially susceptible to knee problems) for developing a painful condition that is expensive to fix or to manage.

Another option for you is rescue.  These dogs do not have the genetic heritage of a well-bred Pom, but by the time they hit rescue, their physical problems are largely apparent; some rescues raise funds to help pay for operations and medical care.  A good rescue will inform you of any problems with the dog before you rescue it.  The contact info here is for the Pomeranian Club of Canada Rescue Co-ordinator, who can help you find dogs in need closer to home: is a great place to check for Pomeranians in need near you.  Hey, what’s better than a puppy for Christmas?  Giving a rescue a good home for Christmas!

Good luck with your search!

Yours, etc.

A happy, friendly letter may just get you a happy, friendly response… and educate people about buying a puppy through responsible channels.  I don’t know what response this letter will get, but it’s a great antidote to the “Oh, shit another Christmas puppy buyer” feeling AND encourages the ordinary layperson to do their own research and get knowledgeable about what they’re buying.

Ryan Seacrest wants a Shiba

Shiba Inu Tops List of Dogs for Ryan

Hi, Ryan.  If you’re doing some research on the Shiba, there’s a chance that you might land here.  Well, you’re going to be joining an elite group.  Special, even.  Here’s how to not be a failed Shiba owner.

First of all, don’t be like a number of clueless celebrities and buy your dog from a place that exploits dogs for money.  This includes pet shops, puppy mills and anyone who tells you their puppies are worth an unbelievable amount of money.  Seriously.  I know that you have a lot of money – well, at least a hell of a lot more money than I do, and you can afford a $10,000 dog.  However, think about the person who immediately jacks up the price when they see someone who they know has a lot of money coming to inspect their latest litter.  Does this sound like someone who cares about what kind of home their puppy goes to?  Does it sound like someone who cares more about their dogs than they do about money?  I don’t think so.

Second, do your research.  Find out how much the average price of a Shiba should cost.  Find out what health problems they have.  Find a decent breeder – the National Shiba Club of America is a good start, since you’re in America (if you happen to be in Canada, it’s Shiba Inu Canada).  You want someone who asks you questions.  They will want to know how you’re going to take care of a Shiba puppy with a busy show host schedule and what you’re going to do with the dog when you can’t take care of it.  They’re going to do genetic testing and you should know why.  Maybe you have an assistant doing a lot of the searching for you; I hope that this assistant knows what s/he is looking for.

Third, train the little bugger.  Crate training will save your Shiba’s life one day, especially the days when the dog’s being a little shit and you just want to kill it.  Don’t give in to bratty behaviour – make sure Something Unpleasant happens when Puppy decides to flash the pearly whites.  And train, train, train.  Puppy classes, beginner obedience, intermediate obedience… it may not turn your Shiba into a paragon, but it will sure as hell help.  Don’t hire a trainer to “do it for you” and don’t think the dog is trained because it comes when called in the privacy of your yard.

Remember, we, the Shiba owners, want you to do well.  This is our breed and we want to see it shine in the celebrity arena.  We want you to buy a dog from a good breeder (or rescue; lots of Shibas need good homes and you can certainly afford patella surgery for slipping kneecaps – one reason to buy from responsible breeders only).  We want your dog to bring you a lot of happiness and amusement.

And we also are eagerly awaiting the first time the dog nearly gives you a heart attack by scaling your 10 foot fence and gallivanting around the neighborhood while you try to catch it on foot, chews a pair of $5000 designer shoes, decides to not show off the trick you taught it on national TV… oh, there are many ways Shibas humiliate their owners.  Far it be from us to wish that you avoid one of the most memorable aspects of Shiba ownership.

Good luck.

Pet of the week

My Google Alert for “shiba inu” informed me that Savannah, a Shiba inu mix was Broward’s pet of the week.

Savannah, a 6-year-old Shiba Inu mix, was given up because her family is moving and could not take her along.

Every fucking day there are animals abandoned by their owners because of “moving”. I know that some people are going to moo and bleat, “Well we didn’t have a CHOICE!” “It was unexpected!” “We couldn’t find anywhere to keep her!” I’ll tell you right now, if you think that moving is an acceptable excuse for abandoning up a companion animal that you CHOSE to bring into your life, you are not just an irresponsible dog owner, you’re a crappy human being.

When people give up pets for spurious reasons, they do it with the air that they couldn’t possibly have foreseen that they might move/have kids/lose jobs/blah blah blah blah fucking blah in the fifteen years it takes the average family dog to live and die. Which is bullshit. People who can’t understand the future and how changes can affect it are either below the age of majority or are candidates for the nearest mental health unit. If you’re neither of these things, then there is no reason why the rest of us, on whose shoulders your selfish choice to abandon your dog lies, should not hold you responsible for your pet animal’s welfare.

I have marginally more respect for people who take the time and effort to rehome an animal that is not working out for them. Marginally. Most of the time, I see people who didn’t think when they got an animal and are now trying to foist the animal’s bad habits off onto other people. Buyer beware. “Moving” can be dog ownerese for “Ill-trained animal from unprepared people who are only too glad to have an excuse to give him up”.

Tips on moving and keeping your dog:

1. Don’t act like a fucking moron and expect sympathy. You are capable of predetermining whether you should take on the responsiblity of a dog. You are fully able to figure out where your life might take you and develop a plan to maintain your dog’s welfare that doesn’t involve abandoning it for other people to take care of YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Think about where your life might take you and how you are going to manage it so that your dog doesn’t suffer for your mistakes.

2. Be financially prepared for a pet’s expenses. Keep a sum in the bank or stuffed into the mattress to deal with emergencies – if you have to board your dog while you look for permanent accommodations, then you will have the money.

3. Keep up with regular examinations/shots/pest prevention. Get references from your veterinarian to show prospective landlords. A well-cared-for dog is more likely to be a dog that will not damage property or infest it with vermin.

4. Crate train your dog and invest in an exercise pen. People are a lot more likely to entrust their property to you if you can assure them that the dog will be contained when not actively supervised.

5. Get impeccable references from your current landlord, including a letter indicating that you left your house in pristine condition, despite having a dog there. My family was able to find a rental property with three dogs and two cats due to the sterling recommendation by our previous landlord who found his house cleaner and in better repair than when he rented it to us several years previously.

6. Start and maintain friendly relations with your neighbours. A reference from a neighbour, stating that your dog has never bothered them with barking or with midnight visits to their pansies can open up doors. If you have had any problems with a neighbour about your dog that was rectified satisfactorily, consider asking for a reference from them as well – it proves that you are a responsible dog owner who respects the rights and property of others.

7. If your dog is annoying people, do whatever you can to stop it. If your dog is lonely in the yard, bring him inside. If he barks while you’re at work, take him to doggy daycare or advertise for a companion to spend the day with him. Pay someone to take him for a walk every day while you are at work. Do not let him run loose if his recall is in any way shaky.

8. Get your dog involved with obedience classes and get your dog certified as a reliable companion animal if your country offers such certification. In Canada, it’s called “Canine Good Neighbour” and based off of the American “Canine Good Citizen“. It is a certification that proves that your dog has a good temperament and is well socialized.

9. Have a game plan prepared for your landlord regarding the dog. Bring a copy for the landlord to keep. Offer a pet deposit specifically for the dog. Bring along samples of pet rental contracts. Bring copies of reference letters, vaccination records, spay/neuter certificate, and obedience/temperament testing diplomas. If possible, bring your impeccably groomed, obedient, friendly dog to meet the landlord.

10. Put up posters at vet offices, groomers, pet supply and the local animal shelters. Advertise through word-of-mouth. Make up business cards detailing what you’re looking for and showcasing your dog’s rental-friendly qualities. Hell, go to the newspaper and see if they’re interested in a human-interest story. Make your dog-friendly home search everybody’s business.

In short, do everything in your power, no matter how ridiculous or over-the-top it seems to keep the dog that you chose to bring into your life. A dog should never have to be a “pet of the week” when they could have been one for a lifetime.