Reactive Rovers Summer 2017

Howdy Friends,

It’s has been a while since we last checked in and we’d like to change that by sharing some new exciting things going on around these parts with Ellie and Argos. As you may know, ever since we adopted Ellie from the Lange Foundation in West Los Angeles 4 years ago, Chris and I have struggled with her reactivity. It took a while to realize it was reactivity, combined with some fearfulness but now that we have gotten this far, it was time to actually do something about it. I feel like I’ve been through it all with her;  ear bleeding barking at other dogs, adults, children, critters anything that moves too quickly and makes any disruptive sound. I’m tired of the stares, the head shaking, and the nasty comments. I’m tired of waking people up at 6:00 am when a squirrel crosses our path during our daily walks. Whatever I was doing up until now doesn’t work. It is the time I got some professional help for Ellie and I. Living with a reactive dog can be so painfully tedious and I know this because for 3 years we lived with Argos and it was wonderful. Argos’ qualities are the envy and goal of every dog owner out there.

To this day, I have to walk the dogs at 6:00 am or earlier to avoid other dogs and dog owners on the street. We stick to a bathroom break schedule that is coordinated based on a number of dogs outside at that time of day. Ellie can’t go to dog groomers, dog parks or the veterinarian because she goes bananas. Our last visit to the vet, she hid under the bench because she refused to go near the vet (and the vet was concerned about coming too close due to her low warning growl) so when it was time to perform the exam, I had to hold her down and tuck her head underneath my underarm. Family, friends, and neighbors cannot visit unless they are willing to withstand eardrum splitting barking for 10 minutes before she gives up and runs away to a corner.

It’s time to seriously do something about it and we decided to start with some professional help. Brief research online proved dog behaviorists and trainers are fucking expensive.  Look, I want to help the dog, I really do, but currently, she has other very important and very costly medical expenses. So expensive, private training classes are not an option at the moment for us. Thankfully, we live in Pasadena and the Pasadena Humane Society is top notch. They provide so many great services to the residents at low costs, making it a true treasure. So, Chris and I took a gander and it turned out that they hold “Reactive Rovers” classes at affordable prices. So here I am, first class in, ready to share this journey with anyone who is interested and also documenting the experience as much as I can so I can go back and determine whether certain efforts have been successful.

For our first class, the trainer had us teach and emphasize the ‘focus’ command with our dogs. We did this by taking a treat, showing it to the dog, bringing to the bridge of our nose and just when the dog locks eyes with us, we treat. This was simple for Ellie as she used to stare me down for treats. She sees something, she wants something, and she stares at me until she gets it. Then came the sit command and pretty much all the dogs in the class, six dogs total, were able to follow the command flawlessly. For the first few classes, I imagine such basic commands need to be refreshed as these will be built upon.  Our homework for this week is to read and watch some videos from Tom Mitchell of Naughty But Nice and Victoria Stilwell of Positively. The Naughty But Nice videos include two 3-Minute Game Changers that were really fun to try out this weekend. One is to create and reinforce recall and safe spaces. With the use of two treats, a low value and a high value, you teach the dog that it is awesome to return to my side every time. In our case, I tossed a carrot that Ellie runs out to get, eats and runs back to me for a piece of cheese. We’ll go into it later but we are forced to use vegetables, fruits and non-meat protein for treats.

She is a quick learner, she realized what the game was at once and we did it for 5 minutes. It’s been awhile since I fed her cheese so I also did not want to upset her stomach on the first try. The second game I think it’s Proximity Vortex and the dog is treated for staying by your side no matter where or how you move.

Chris and I decided to spend 20 minutes each day with Ellie, alternating, to practice these concepts. I will practice during our daily walks and see how that goes.

Stay tuned for next week.

New Beginnings

It has been a year and three months since my last post and while a lot has happened, nothing has happened. We moved from the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles to Pasadena! Funny enough we moved here a year and a month ago. As I move forward with the continuation of this blog and with the sharing of my pet parent troubles and tribulations I will be sharing more and more of my personal journey. Yes, I’ll try to keep it dog related but life is rarely so clear cut. Why does any of what I just mentioned matter? Well, because it’s all to do with life with my dogs.

We moved to Pasadena March of 2015 and we have gone through changes that have affected both my dogs and myself. Three months after we moved to Pasadena, I found a new job at a nearby medical center and that changed everything. I am about to sound either really stupid or really spoiled, or both. This new job was really different from my past job in some key points. I went from working at small surgery center to working at a huge medical center. Before moving to Pasadena, I did not know the true meaning of stress and never-ending work loads. I did not know that ending my work days at 4:00PM was such a privilege. This new job was 10 times more difficult and I was not making it home before 6PM every night. Yes, I know. Spoiled. Shut up.  But it wasn’t just about coming home at 6PM, at the very beginning it was more like 7PM because there was so much to learn, it was about coming home and being completely drained.

I am no expert here but I will venture to say that dogs are creatures of habit. They like routines. Apparently, sanity sometimes hangs on the balance of routines. Ellie and Argos’s routine has been out of whack for 11 months and we are paying dearly for it. Eleven months is how long I have been at this new job. Congratulations me. I stopped walking them, Ellie is currently on two medications and Argos has turned into a little bitch. They used to get a 1 mile walk every day without fail back in Los Angeles. Here, we are lucky if I can make it around the block before I lead everyone back home. And yes, I usually wait till 9PM to take them on the walk because I want to avoid all the other darn dogs that make Ellie loose her freaking mind. Oh yes, but that’s another blog post. So the length (time), distance and quantity of walks went down severely.

But let’s talk about me for a moment. I never stopped to think about the impact that moving to a totally different location would make on my life, mind and body. When we first moved here, I was in the best shape I had been in my life. I was running consistently, I felt strong and I was 7 pounds lighter because of it. It turns out that this foothill area has so many ups, downs, hills, micro and macro valleys to explore. The streets of L.A. did not train me for this shit. The cool weather of the west side did not warn me about the relentless dry summer desert heat. Needless to say, I stopped running because it was too hard and too damn hot. Chris had recently taken up cycling right before the big move and once we got here, he found a cycling group that he clicked really well with and well his hobby turned into a passion. He is down 30 pounds since we moved here. Do you see where I am going with this? Well, the struggle was far from over for little ol’ Normie.


I was desperately searching for work, and working really hard towards getting into a graduate program at a university. I managed to score three different job offers during my search for work. I took the one the looked the most promising to furthering my career and I’ve never regretted a decision more than I’ve regretted making that one. I got into the program I worked so hard to get into only to decline the acceptance in order to stay at my job full time in hopes of scoring the position as an official employee and not a temp. Yeah that’s right, I turned two other job offers to be a temp. Anyway, the most challenging job in the world!!!! I’ve struggled so much to learn the ropes at work, to understand my role and responsibilities and trying to figure out how to make my work efficient and useful. Well, something has to give right? Damn right it does! Chris, Ellie, Argos and exercise took the back burner while I tried to cope with my new work life. Today, I am nearly 10 pounds heavier than I was a year ago, Ellie is up 3 pounds and hugely reactive to outside stimuli and Argos keeps climbing on the dining table trying to score any edibles he can find and refuses to follow simple commands that I ingrained in him for the past 6 years. Chris took over most of our kitchen duties and well the household chores get done when they get done. Oh! not to mention that I’ve spent so little time with my mother and my siblings and their children.

But I am done with putting my life and my family in the back burner for the sake of a job. No one else does where I work at and I’ve decided I won’t either. I will accept whatever the consequences of that may be but I will never forgive myself for losing what makes me so special, which is being a part of the life of those I love the most; Chris, Ellie & Argos.


So here’s  the plan. I have a brand new road bike to stretch my legs on along side with Chris. I have to practice on keeping up with him and his friends but the good thing is they are all a good bunch of people, very family oriented! I have a brand new pair of sneakers and one more half marathon to go this year so I can get the Beach Cities Challenge Medal I’ve been trying to get. I am also signing up to to the Conqur L.A. Challenge which includes the Santa Monica 10k, the Rose Bowl half marathon and it concludes with the Los Angeles 2017 Marathon.  As for those pesky pounds I put on, well I am now a proud member of Weight Watchers and I celebrated tonight my 2 pound loss with a ice cream stuffed Cronut. Balance, am I right?! I’ve created a brand spanking new chore schedule to help me with that ordeal (Chris is the best chef in the world!). And finally, slowly I want to interject myself in the lives of my little nephews. I want them to grow up knowing who their auntie is. I think a Disneyland trip is in order. Churros! Churros!

Back to my mutt friends. Our veterinarian has strongly rejected my idea to let Ellie run with me in my efforts to get back into shape. She was on steroid injections for a while, she is taking atopica and receives antigen every two weeks. While we slowly figure out her mystery allergies, it’s best I stick to brisk walks. Argos will be enjoying some one-on-one refresher lessons every other evening with delicious high value treats. I will be reading up on canine reactive behavior. A coworker of mine passed on some names I should begin with as I learn about the more common issues related to reactive, timid and sensitive dogs. I hope that once I’ve done some basic research, I can enlist the help of a behaviorist to help me with Ellie’s issues.


While my dogs help center me, give me a sense of belonging and are my source of comfort they too are affected when my life is off balance. Their health and their mental state deteriorates and in turn both Chris and I have to deal with the consequences of that. Well, no more!

Come along to watch how I win, lose, give up and yet find endless hope for a better life. For a balanced life.

Buddy Wash Review: Green Tea & Bergamot Dog Shampoo and Conditioner

We have been using the Buddy Rinse Lavender and Mint for over a year and we used the last drop of it last week. For those of you who currently own a bottle of Buddy Rinse Lavender, here’s a tip for you; You can dilute the stuff and it does it’s job just as well. I find that in its original state, its too viscous and I found it hard to spread a good blob over a the whole dogs back. I realized it could be slightly thinned out for spreadability when I started to run low on the stuff. I was waiting on Cherrybrook to deliver what would turn out to be a disappointing product called Condition Plus by Crown Royale.

In need of a conditioner that didn’t smell like granny’s perfume, I took to the internet to look for another conditioner. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Lavender and Mint Buddy Rinse but Chris was never a fan of the smell so he asked me to look for something else to use instead. I came across the Buddy Wash Shampoo and Conditioner in Green Tea and Bergamot. Having had a good experience with the Buddy Rinse, I decided to give the same makers, Cloud Star, a chance and try this fragrance. Well…it was a hit. I loved it and Chris loved it. I’m not a big fan of green tea anything but in this shampoo and conditioner combination, you can barely smell it. What you can smell is the bergamot. In my life I’ve never ever smelled bergamot but its a wonderful smell. It’s a strong citrus scent and I have a good feeling the green tea kind of tames it a bit. I really don’t think I’ll be trying anything else for a really long time. My only pickle with this product is that I wish it were only a conditioner. I use a rather inexpensive shampoo that does its job well and I use the conditioner to give the dogs coat a nice softness.

Expenses January 2015

The numbers are in for the first month of 2015 and they don’t look so bad. Take a look for yourself!

Lavender & Mint Buddy Rinse Conditioner

Lavender & Mint Buddy Rinse Conditioner

I ordered the 8 oz. Crown Royale Condition Plus from I decided to give this a try after I ran out of the Lavender & Mint Buddy Rinse Conditioner. That was a mistake. This is stuff smells like someone’s grandmother’s perfume. Not my grandma, she smelled like fresh homemade tortillas :D. The conditioners’ smell is heavily floral and somewhat musky…it’s really odd. Then, took 3.5 weeks to deliver the said conditioner and I had two email and call multiple times. Generally packages arrive in 3-5 weeks, but I never received an email stating any information other than I had placed an order. Don’t bother with Cherrybrook, unless you need specialized items, which looks to be their main service.


Crown Royale Condition Plus

The following charge for $38.00 was from The Family Vet for a follow-up appointment. We made our way to Dr. Tran last month because Argos had some dry scaling skin on his back towards his tail. Turns out it was a skin infection. He was put on antibiotics and given fish oil supplements. On our follow-up appointment, his skin was clear and it was determined that dry skin was causing his skin chewing which must have let to the skin infection. I was glad to hear that. He is no longer on antibiotic but I’ve decided to keep him on the AllerG-3 fish oil capsules. It will continue to help Argos’s skin and maybe I can see some benefits reflected in his coat.

Ventoquil AllerG-3 Supplement

Ventoquil AllerG-3 Supplement

And last but not least, we purchased a 12 month supply of Revolution flea medication. This will lasts us until June and then it will be time to purchase another 12 months worth. I made the switch from Frontline to Revolution soon after Ellie came home from the Shelter because we noticed that her bum rashes were due to flea bites. Well it had nothing to do with flea bites but this Revolution is pretty phenomenal. While Argos was on Frontline, every week I used to pick out fleas from his coat during his bath…I thought it was normal until we switched to Revolution. I’ve haven’t seen a bug on him for almost a year.




The Vet and I

When you think you’ve found yourself a good Veterinarian, hang on for dear life and don’t let go. In the 4.5 years I’ve been doing this dog-owning thing, I’ve gotten to meet some great vets and some pretty lousy ones.

There is a difference between low cost veterinary care and sensible veterinary care. You’d think one equals the other but it does not. Being a dog owner in west Los Angeles is an expensive affair. The majority of the veterinarian clinics in my neighbor or surrounding neighborhoods will charge you upwards of $150 just for taking in your dog in. They’ll convince you that you need diagnostic laboratory tests, monthly medications of their choice is an absolute must and they’ll send you home and they’ll send you home with what you know is a less than trusted brand of dog food, because you know, it’s what is going to make your dog better. I’ve been there and I’ve certainly done that.

Four tuchus infections, two ear infections, one skin infection, and inexplicable bloody soft stool for two months, that’s what I’ve dealt with in the span of a year and a half.

The tushie and ear infections are all Ellie.  That girl is the home of bacteria! I admit the ear infections are my fault as I didn’t know how to properly care for her ears. However, it would it would have been extremely helpful if our then Vet had walked me through the process of properly caring for her delicate ears. Instead they handed me a bottle of antibiotic and sent me on my way. Sure enough I had another ear infection on my hands shortly after that. I simply didn’t know I could prevent ear infections by cleaning her ears with a cleaning solution after her weekly bath. The internet taught me that.

She gets these weird red bumps that start around off near her vaginal opening and once she begins to aggravate them with the incessant licking the crawls up all the way to her stomach. She turns them into big red blotches and the skin around it turns flaky and rough. It is well understood that it is an allergic reaction to something. What the possible allergen could be is beyond me. We’ve switched her off and on to the products that we use on her, the cleaning products, hell even the detergents and softeners I use to wash their blankets and bed. But for the past 6 months, every two months, she has an outbreak. The same veterinarian who didn’t have time to talk to me about ear infections saw her three times for these mysterious rashes and every time I saw him, it was the same diagnoses. It’s fleas. Despite the fact that I administer a monthly regimen of Revolution, and she’s never showed any signs of fleas OR flea dirt. I’ll tell you why I know; I bathe her weekly and I check her coat with a fine tooth comb every time.

So three times we went to the veterinarian to figure out these rashes on her bottom and I would shell out over $150 (definitely cheaper than any other vet in the area) so they could pump her full of antibiotics and steroids and then they’d give me a bottle of the same to continue giving to her for two weeks. This process would clear her tushie right up…until the next time. This ordeal sucked, so on the fourth infection I decided to do something different.

When I first adopted Argos, I was living in Long Beach, CA (a good 30 miles away from where we currently are) and on my way home with my then new precious-cute-as-a-button puppy I made a pit stop at the The Family Vet. The very first veterinarian I’ve met in my life, Dr. Tran, must have seen the inexperience written all over my face. On that very first visit, she taught me to how to clip Argos’s claws, express his anal glands, and the most important lesson of all, get this new puppy used to you touching his teeth, paws and bottom. When cuddling, she said, massage his gums. This would one day help me when teaching him to let me brush his teeth. Like any other vet, she made sure I made it back into the clinic for vaccinations and at such reasonable prices, I made sure I did. We only saw Dr. Tran for a year after I moved away to another city and I had to continue care for Argos with another veterinarian.

We met Dr. Johnson in Fullerton, CA  another fantastic Veterinarian, just a tad more expensive for a gal like myself. Regardless, it is his advice that I resorted to for Ellie’s fourth infection. Dr. Tran was not taking new patients. Dr. Johnson explained to me what he thought was happening with Ellie. He diagnosed her with a staph infection, explained to me a possible weakness in her immune system, put her on antibiotics and steroids for a couple of weeks but most importantly he did something I was hoping he would…he advised me on preventative measures. Before sending us home, he gave us a bottle of Chlorhexidine medicated shampoo to treat her skin on a weekly basis. It’s been six weeks and no episode yet. Things are looking good!


And now for Argos. A month after Ellie came home from the shelter, Argos began with soft stool. For two weeks, it was so soft I had to make sure he went on grass patches rather than sidewalks (you know, where they accidentally go sometimes if you don’t walk fast enough to a grass patch) because it was that soft. Then it got bloody and thats when we rushed over to the The Shelter Vet, you know the guys who kept blaming Ellie’s rashes on fleas. At this time of course, I did not understand that I was wasting my time and my money. Stool tests, and blood test proved he was one healthy dog and yet, blood was coming out of him.

He was kept on antibiotics for a couple of weeks and fed plain white rice and chicken. After his medication was done, the soft stool returned, this time no blood. He remained like this for a few weeks. I didn’t bother taking him to the clinic anymore, I made his sure his appetite and activity level remained the same and it soon ran its course.

Call me a crazy dog person, if you want to, I quite don’t care. When someone you love shows signs of being unwell, it freaks you out. In my stupidity I never stopped to think about the type of care my dogs were really getting at this Shelter Vet, which by the way is a private practice that has nothing to do with providing shelter services to the community, it’s simply a low cost clinic…which makes a lot of sense now. So yes, I am mad that I shelled out a few hundred dollars for ultimately nothing but what makes me livid is that the dogs continued with their health issues.

Golden Retriever puppy

I gave Dr. Tran in Long Beach a call. She was not taking new patients but after I explained that Argos had already been seen there about three years back, she decided to invite me back. On his first visit back Argos was diagnosed with a skin infection. His dry skin was making him itch so much, he would go at it with his mouth, causing his infection. Some antibiotics and fish oil capsules later and his skin looks healthy again.

I plan to continue both their care with Dr. Tran as I trust her the most even if it means driving 30 miles to get to her office. We will continue to observe and I will be certain to report as to the progress of these two mutts.

Potato Chip Hike

During the holidays we decided to take a not so quick drive down to Poway, CA to get some exercise. Poway is home to a very popular hike the locals like to call the ‘Potato Chip’ hike, which is actually called the Mount Woodson Trail. It is an approximately 8 mile roundtrip adventure that begins with a narrow, uphill for a while, strenuous…walk. At a 2300 ft elevation gain/loss, it’s not to be taken lightly.

Poway Lake

Poway Lake


This was Ellie’s first hike and aside from the relentless barking at other dogs and rowdy people, she did splendidly. For sure, Chris and I thought the hike would spend her energy, what with the elevation gain and so much action around her but we were so wrong. She dragged me up the trail and then we did double time on the way back. Perhaps she still has that puppy energy about her. Argos on the other hand lagged behind on our way back down the mountain. In fact, he was so tired that he paid no heed to any other dogs or their people.


Treating Ellie & Argos for not barking at passersby.


The trail gets steep and rocky very often, breaks were often necessary. It was a cold day but I read somewhere that in the late Spring and Summer months, its pretty much hot dessert weather in the area. At 65 degrees, the sun burnt pretty hot so I made sure to bring a collapsible soft bowl for water and some treats. Once up at the peak where the potato chip rock is the wind blew crisp cold and no amount of direct sun warmed anyone up. The dogs of course didn’t complain.

Selfie, anyone?

Selfie, anyone?

This is an incredibly popular hike and the trail got crowded quickly. While it’s a popularity was a real turn off for me I can’t help but see why it happens. The trail allows dogs, which is always awesome, it’s very very easy to get to the hike by car and there is cell reception at every point in the hike. I want to take the time now to address something that has been bothering me for sometime now because the frequency of these incidents almost feel epidemic. On the hike I noticed a lot of dog owners with their beautiful dogs without leashes.  Now, I think I understand why they do it. They believe their dogs to be exemplary well behaved creatures that they trust in any situation and they want to treat them to freely roaming the trails. I would say 90% of these unleashed dogs are big. 

When you unleash your dog and we happen upon you, you’re creating a situation where your dog, as well as mine, are not safe. My Ellie for example, does not like strange dogs coming up to her to smell her business. But yet when there is an unleashed dog, she has to sit by my side and be forced to deal with an uncomfortable situation. You know what happens when you force a dog into a situation in which it fears for his safety? It snaps. It bites. When your unleashed dog forces himself on our space you make me responsible for both my dog and yours. As a dog owner it is my responsibility to keep my dog safe, which I do with a leash, and those people and dogs around us, by controlling my dog with my handy dandy leash. Now, were both dogs unleashed, as they would in a dog park, the dynamic is very different but you just can’t force an unleashed dog on one that is constrained in his movement. Its. NOT. Good.

That is not to say I don’t believe your dog is an exceptional dog. I’m sure that your dog on his spare time teaches CPR classes at the local Y and helps the crossing guard cross children at the nearby elementary school. What I am saying is that my dogs are the furthest things from well behaved and I’m doing everything I can to teach them better while exercising them and the problem is you make it so much harder for us.

It is your responsibility to keep your dog and the people around him/her safe.

Family portrait.

Family portrait.

We met three unleashed dogs while on the trail. They of course rushed us and I had to simply sit there and hope my dogs would not incite any trouble. When in these situations the last thing you want to do is move the leashed dogs around trying to avoid the unleashed dog because it only makes it into a cat and mouse game for the unleashed dog, thus creating more trouble. And then I also stepped on a poor labrador that was chasing Ellie about me. Do you think I would have stepped on the poor pup if he had been secured at his owners side?

Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity to get out and get some fresh air and expose the dogs to nature. Some very beautiful scenery to be seen out there and it all starts with the beautiful Poway lake. I cannot stress this enough, bring appropriate shoes and plenty of water to drink. Just because its crowded it doesn’t mean the trail is not strenuous. As far as the potato chip rock goes, a lot of people take great pictures on it but it’s actually quite a bit of climb to get on it. Its two giant steep boulders with a great big gap in between. I had to enlist the help of strangers to get on the boulders with Ellie and when I realized that I could get on the final boulder to reach the potato chip, I just gave up and turned back…with the help of strangers. With Ellie so fuzzy there was no way I was going to jump from boulder to boulder and have Ellie follow my lead.


At the end of the hike.


Chris’s sister Tiffany accompanied us, as it was her idea to visit this place, and she was able to get on the potato chip with Argos to do a ‘Lion King’ pose. It was all good fun and very, very tiring. I don’t think we’ll be doing that one again any time soon. Nice to say I did though.


Experiments in Desperation

I’ve often talked about Ellie’s…problems. She’s an almost 2 year old Cocker Spaniel and Poodle mix rescue. Chris and I picked her up when she was close to three months old. I don’t know how this problem got to where it is today and all I can remember from her puppy months is that she was and still is a very shy dog. She pees when too excited and when intimidated. She doesn’t approach dogs or people she doesn’t know. It’s actually more than that, she low grows at the sight of strangers and pulls me away from the sidewalk and sits. Some days, she just sits and waits for people to pass. Other days, she’ll bark at them incessantly, like they’re threatening her somehow.

I don’t care for strangers either but I don’t feel threatened by them and I certainly don’t warn them away when all they’re doing is passing me by. So whatever happens in Ellie’s brain when encountering this stimuli can’t be good for her state of mind in the long run. Not to mention that her incessant barking at strangers is no fun for Chris and I. You see, every once in a while I actually want to talk to my neighbors. Every once in a while, I would like for my dogs to be interested in other dogs. Instead, I find myself being avoided or avoiding other folks walking their brilliantly calm dogs.

I’ve tried the “Watch the World” game. The idea of the game or training is that you treat the dog every time the stimuli that she usually elicits the response you are trying to change (in this case barking and growling) comes into view. The goal is that the dog will associate the stimuli with something positive, like a treat, and therefore it’s response changes. Rather than bark and growl, it will wait for it’s treat instead. We began by sitting out on the church steps across the street where we live and watching people walk their dogs. At first, it only worked when we were watching people pass by from far away. Wanting to speed things along, we merged the game into our daily 1 mile walks. What Ellie and Argos began doing was to stop and stand aside whenever someone was approaching us. Even then, Ellie low growled just to let me know she didn’t like what was happening. I suppose this is a good response, stopping and standing aside and waiting for others to pass, unfortunately it extends our walks by an extra 15 minutes, something I don’t always appreciate at 6:00 am.

You remember when that weird uncle told your parents the best way to teach you how to swim was to simply throw you in the water? Or maybe it was your dad? Anyway, I tried this method on Ellie. We took a ride down to the local dog park and while Argos ran around like a crazy dog chasing other dogs, Ellie stood by me, shaking, whining and scratching at my leg. She never leaves my side when we go to the park. I’ve taken tennis balls and toys she loves playing with at home… and she’s not interested. She just sits there and cries.

So then we thought, what if we leave them to interact with other dogs while Chris and I are not present. This was one of the main reasons we decided to sign them up to doggy day care. It would give them an opportunity to interact and socialize with other dogs without us affecting the interaction. Well Eco Dog, our doggie daycare, has a web cam through which you can watch your pups all day. Argos chases, gets chased, jumps, humps, and naps while he is there. Ellie sits in a corner. If dogs come to invite her to play, she walks away…to another corner.

And then there was the Thundershirt. It’s a cute vest that’s supposed to fit snug around them and it reminds me of a straight jacket. It looks nothing like a straight jacket, but it has that feel to it. It’s meant to feel like a constant gentle hug. I slept with the Thundershirt for a few nights to inpart it with my scent. Anyway, it didn’t work for us. I know this product has helped many a folk but Ellie didn’t give a rat’s ass, she still acted out.

So here we are, back to square one  (don’t know that we ever left it) and I’m going crazy. I’m exaggerating of course, she only becomes agitated when in public. At home, she’s a model dog. Obedient, rambunctious and plainly the sweetest dog I’ve ever known. I live in a building where almost all the tenants have dogs. You can’t walk down the hallway without having dogs barking their brains out from inside their locked apartments at the sound of your footsteps. And you won’t hear a peep from either Ellie or Argos. Don’t come a-knocking, cause that’s a different story.

For a while, she was my running partner but thats only good on runs that are 2 miles or less. Otherwise, she becomes tired quickly and starts to lag behind, waning my own eagerness to keep running. We took her on her first ever hike to the Mount Woodson Trail (aka the potato chip hike) in Poway, CA. That’s a 7.5 mile roundtrip hike in which you are basically climbing the entire way up to the potato chip. Did this waste away her energy and calm her anxious mind? NOT ONE BIT. She ran up that darn trail and just about drag me going back down. Perhaps, if this type of activity was done in a more consistent manner it could work? I have to get creative if this the way I want to go.

Chris and I are currently debating consulting a professional, a behavioralist maybe. If anyone out there has suggestions, ideas on how I can get creative and fix this dog, do let me know! Giving up is not an option. A solution we must find!