Friday, May 30, 2008

Leader of the Pack - Part 2

I had such great feedback from Xsara and Snout Beagle (who also shared a post on clicker training) when I wrote the post on Leader of the Pack a few weeks back. They presented alternative views on this matter which I felt were reasonable and made a lot of sense. So, with their permission, I would like to share it so that we can all learn from each other's experience.

Barby: "When I first took Xsara to the doggy pre-school, the instructors there also followed these principles, but it didn't work for us. I worked with Xsara a lot, and she still behaved badly. Until I started clicker training, teaching tricks and agility and forgot about leadership - only then we became a team. And I have to say that with positive reinforcement her behavior improved 100%. Dogs were bred to work with their people. Give them some work and they'll forget about everything else. Just make sure that the work you're giving them is interesting enough - if it's not, then you have to make it more interesting for the dog. It's hard work, much harder than remembering to enter the door first and feed the dog last and so on. But it's really worth it."

Jackie "... when we started Manners Class with Diesel at our local humane society we were introduced to clicker training. Diesel was always an easy dog, plus we adopted him after his naughty puppy stage, but the communication between us while clicker training was so clear, kind, and precise that Diesel learned behaviors and tricks amazingly fast. And he LOVED it! We both do! ... Beagles respond so well to positive training and the treats that go with it ... it's natural! In fact, if my husband or I get stressed or try to force Marvin too quickly he just shuts down. He'll do anything with you if you stay fun and cheerful, they both will. The dominating them thing doesn't work for me, that's not the type of relationship I care to have with my dogs, nor do I believe they naturally want to be my "boss". I work with the notion that we're partners. I do believe in setting bounderies of course, we all need that, and they get lots and lots of exercise."

Mum & I totally agree with Barby and Jackie on positive reinforcement and channeling doggie energies to positive and fun things. At the end of the day, our humans only want what's best for us. We haven't tried out clicker training but the principle behind it sounds logical. We haven't come across this type of training in Malaysia yet but will definitely keep my nose to the ground for any whiffs of it... It would be interesting to test it out. As for the leader of the pack principle, my human hasn't abandoned her belief in it as yet. She reckons it comes down to different leadership styles. She doesn't practice "I'm the boss and you're the slave" style...Instead, it's more of "I'm the parent and I'll set the boundaries" leadership basis. After all, our humans do all this for the love of their dogs.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mama & Me

Dad captured this special moment between mum and me. Truly, this picture speaks a thousand words... Love of a dog, love of a human, best friends...

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.”Unknown

Friday, May 23, 2008

The closest thing to a doggie park

Next to the jungle trails, my favourite outing spot is the park. There I can run to my heart's content. We don't often get to go to the park coz not many parks here allow dogs. In fact, it was my birthday wish this year for my country to allow dog parks. The closest thing we have to that is the BU Central Park. So, we went there for a running session a couple of weeks back. I had the time of my life chasing the tennis ball and playing fetch with my mum. Dad decided to practice his photography skills on his Canon SLR and took lots of pictures of me.

Tug of War with the Tennis Ball

The start of the stick-chasing sprint...Don't I look like a horse?
Ears curled up as I gain momentum
Stick in sight
Almost there...

And to finish off...

My Star Wars Princess Leia look

P.S. I've been asked if this "ear-do" was styled by mum...Nope, it's all natural, a combination of floppy ears and speed :-)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Night Walk

Woohoo! I went for 3 walks yesterday - Morning, evening and night. Usually, I only get the morning and evening walks. But yesterday, dad came home just before 7pm (which is rare) and decided to go for a night stroll up the hill with mum & me. I shared in an earlier post on my birthday walk at the very same hill, but that was during the day.

At night, the atmosphere is different. Even though the path is lit, there is a mystical feel in the air. If you have an active imagination, it is not too difficult to twist the dark shadows cast on the ground and the amplified night sounds into a horror movie. Since I don't possess an active imagination, I was happily doing my own thing - which is sniffing and smelling. Plus, I was with my humans. They'll protect me...eer...I mean, I'll protect them!

Even the scents and sounds are different at night. The flowers that bloom at night fills the air with its sweet aroma. The night insects were out in full force and their orchestra of chirping was almost deafening. The monkeys were safely up on the trees and sounded their deep alarm when we passed by. Oh, such joy...

We got home at 8pm (which is even earlier than when dad sometimes gets home from work!), just in time for dinner. Unfortunately, my humans said I had to rest first coz I was still panting from the walk. So, I had to wait for them to finish their dinner and wash up before I could eat. And because I had lots of exercise that day, I had a special treat of pork bone and rice (I am an Asian dog, after all), on top of my usual Innova kibble. Woohoo!

Needless to say, I slept like a log last night and dreamt sweet doggie dreams ...ZZZ...ZZZ...ZZZ

P.S. What time are you coming home tonight, dad? Can we do it again today?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Therapy Dog

All dog lovers know that dogs are great stress relievers. I think that it's because we give unconditional love. This is perhaps the reason why dogs are such great therapists!

Wikepidia defines therapy dog as "a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, mental institutions, schools and and stressful situations such as disaster areas. The concept of a therapy dog is often attributed to Elaine Smith, an American who worked as a registered nurse for a time in England. Smith noticed how well patients responded to visits by a certain chaplain and his canine companion, a Golden Retriever. Upon returning to the United States in 1976, Smith started a program for training dogs to visit institutions. Over the years other health care professionals have noticed the therapeutic effect of animal companionship, such as relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, and raising spirits, and the demand for therapy dogs continues to grow. In recent years, therapy dogs have been enlisted to help children overcome speech and emotional disorders. .."

If you are interested to know more about Therapy Dogs, check out Therapy Dogs International, Inc.

Whilst I am not a qualified therapy dog, I did play a small role recently. Most of you may recall how stressful examinations can be (It's been a while for me. The last exam I sat for the Canine Good Citizen Test six years ago!). Well, a two-legged buddy of mine, Nerissa was pretty stressed during her A-levels exam. Since she hasn't been able to see her own four-legged pal for a while, her mum thought that I would be an excellent stress-reliever from the pressure of exams. We started the session with a couple of tricks (I do tricks for treats...). First off, the classic roll over.
Reward please... Notice my intense look as I wait eagerly for Nerissa to give me my reward.
Next trick. Shake paw, Kess.
Reward please, Nerissa.

And just to proof that I can do the roll-over trick both ways...

We finish off the session with a good tummy rub by Nerissa and her mum.

It was worth it to see the smile on Nerissa's face and hear her joyful laugh as she played with me. I was happy that I was able to take her mind off the stress of exams for a while. It was therapy for me too...Food and tummy rub therapy!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Owning a dog is a family commitment

This post came about due to 2 incidents. Recently, mum & I were asked if we knew anyone who wanted to adopt a 1-year old beagle. The present owner was given this beagle. Since his child likes dogs, he agreed to take the beagle. This year, his child decided to look for a job down south. Now, the father is a busy man. So, when the child went away, the beagle did not get to go for walks and was tied up (so as to not trip the house alarm) when father was at work. Father decides that it was too much hassle to keep the beagle and asks around if anyone wants a beagle. In fact, he even considered giving the beagle to SPCA. When my mum heard it, she was horrified. She quickly made some calls and found a friend of a friend whose Labrador had just passed away and was keen to adopt the beagle. She was relieved. But, the relief didn't last long. It turned out that the child came back home for a break and didn't want to give up the dog for re-homing because she was "too cute". Question is - What will happen to the beagle when the child goes off again?

The second incident is a contrast to the first example. Our friend's daughter (and my occasional playmate) have been asking her parents for a dog for years. I like to think I may have a part to play in this...:-). Her parents are seriously considering allowing her to adopt a puppy. What is really great about this is her father actually made a statement saying that he should also read up about dogs coz he reckons that he may have to bear the responsibility.

My point is this - parents, if you want to get a puppy for your child, please be prepared to bear the responsibility when your child will not or cannot. Most dogs have a life-span of about 10-15 years. Depending on how old your child is, they may lose interest or go away for studies or work. If you do not think that you can or will take over the responsibility of looking after the dog, then do the responsible thing and don't get the dog. It really isn't fair to my fellow four-legged pals.

P.S. If you are interested to to get a beagle and are prepared to take responsibility for our well-being, then read my earlier post called "To BEagle or not to BEagle" which spells out our characteristics before making your decision.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sleepless nights

My humans have not been sleeping well for the past 1.5 weeks. They keep waking up in the wee hours in the morning. It is no surprise that they wake up blearied-eye on the morning...Why, you ask? New baby? No electricity? Creaking bed? Nope, nope and nope to all of the above. If you haven't guessed by now, let me give you a hint. The reason starts with a "K" and ends with an "S". Yes, it's me, Kess, their lil' fur kid who have been waking them up.

I have to keep you in suspense a little longer as I need to give you some background first. If you've read my earlier posts, you'll know my humans are avid travellers. You'll also know that they lived in Bangkok for 18 months. When they're away, I usually stay with their mums and dads. In their households, sadly, doggies are not allowed into the house. But, I can respect that. I am blessed that they are willing to dog-sit me and I don't have to go to a boarding place. I still have the run of their gardens.

Since I'm not allowed into their houses, mum & dad have decided that when at home, I have to sleep outside so that I get used to it. It's not that I don't have a comfortable bed outside, I do.
But, if you recall, it was raining regularly a while back. And when it rains, I get to sleep inside at home. Well, I kinda got used to it. So, when the sunny days came back, I still wanted to sleep inside. But my humans, mindful of their travelling days, decided that I should sleep outside. So, when it's bed-time, they'll say "Time to go to bed, Kess." I'll reluctantly go out and get into bed. I get my usual pats and rubs and then they close the door. A couple of hours later, I decide to knock on the door to ask them to let me in. And because I was concerned they may be in dream-land and not hear my knocks, I knock VERY LOUDLY (even our neighbours can hear!).

For the first 3 days, they let me in. The first time, dad was just too groggy. The second night, mum let me in coz the wind was blowing strongly. The third night, it did rain (OK, it was just a little rain). But, it continued night after night. They soon wised up. So, the last few nights, all I got was a scolding each time. I tried at least twice a night (once around midnight, and another one at 2am). And, to avoid waking the neighbours, my humans put a little dog fence at the door so I can't get to the wooden door. I can only scratch at the grill. Anyway, last night I gave up.

The moral of the story? Humans, let your doggies in at night...hah! hah!

Post script from Kess' mama: Actually, it's this. If you reward bad behaviour, i.e "Knock on door= Can go in", you'll continue to encourage this behaviour. Yes, you may have to persevere for a while as your doggie and you learn the lesson together, but in the end, you get your fur kid to behave in the way you want her to. Having said that, I am mindful that every household have different rules for their fur kids and some fur kids sleep in and some sleep with their humans. What matters is the principle of training which can be applied to other behaviours.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lending a "Paw"

I borrowed the above phrase from my human dad, but paraphased it to suit me. Dad always jokes with his cycling buddies about having to come home early from his Saturday morning cycle because he is "lending a hand" at home.

Like dad, I always like to lend a paw, especially in the garden. I always see mum weeding and trimming the plants. So, whenever they go out, I lend a paw in the garden. My two favourite tasks are digging the garden (err..I mean, weeding)...

...and biting the plants (err...trimming the leaves)

Hey, it's tough work. So, with dirty jaw and paws, I take a quick break as I survey my handiwork from the door.

I also like to lend a paw to dad when he trims the bamboo plant at our back garden. I help pick up the bamboo stalks...

And then I find a cosy corner to chew it up...

Aren't I a helpful little doggie? I honestly don't understand why my humans don't appreciate my help around the garden. Do you?

Lots of Woofs, Kess, The Gardener

Post Script from Kess' mama:
The reality is you can't have a lovely green garden and beautiful plants if you have a fur kid. Apart from the digging and biting, there are also dead patches of grass from the potent pee! Would I trade Kess for a lovely green garden and beautiful plants? No way! I love my little rascal...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Leader of the Pack

This is a follow up on my post on the Dog Whisperer. My humans are firm believers in the concept of leader of the pack and this translates to their relationship and interaction with me.

The basis for my humans' belief in the leader of the pack principle stems from the ancestory of dogs. Dogs, like our ancestor, the wolf, are primarily pack animals. In a pack, there is a natural pecking order. When humans adopt dogs, the human family becomes our pack. Humans need to take the role of leader of the pack with their dogs. Being a leader of the pack does not mean that humans should treat dogs harshly and not give affection to their dogs. What it does mean is that boundaries are set and discipline instilled by the leader of the pack, which is exactly what happens in the animal kingdom.

Actually, this is similar to the principles of raising a child where parents have to teach, lead and guide. A well-behaved child does not happen automatically. It is the result of parents exercising leadership in their household with the covering of love. Similarly, a well-behaved dog is a consequence of humans exercising leadership in their pack with the covering of love.

I plan to share how my humans adopt leader of the pack principles in training me over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue... Drop me a comment.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Japanese Name is...


My 2-legged friend Sweet Jasmine gave me some Japanese homework to do. It's quite interesting. You can translate your name into Japanese by using a set of code shown....So here is how it goes..........

For the instructions, add your name on the list and simply spell out your name using the given Japanese letter- translations below. Tag six of your friends and inform them of the tag. Have fun.


A - ka G - ji M - rin S - ari Y - fu

B - tu H - ri N - to T - chi Z - zi

C - mi I - ki O - mo U - do

D - te J - zu P - no V - ru

E - ku K - me Q - ke W - mei

F - lu L - ta R - shi X - na

1. CHLOE - Miritamoku — Um…think I still prefer my given name, ha ha

2. GENG – Jikutoji — Actually, I think its cute sounding. Arigato gozaimasu!

3. CONSTANCE - Mimoto arichi katomiku — WOW! Does it sound like an authentic Japanese cuisine? YIKES! I broke it up cos it was quite a mouthful!

4. DORA - Temoshika – Sounds pretty good huh?! Does it mean beautiful woman?

5. Jasmine - Zukaari rinkitoku - sounds like malay masculine...!

6. Kess - Mekuariari - My translated Malaysian doggie version: Me cool "hari hari" (everyday in Malay). Not bad, huh.

Now to my 2-legged pals here.....Tracy.....Doris.....; 4-legged pals Jazz & Dixie.....Xsara....Sugar....Amber
check out your name in Japanese.....:-

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Scaredy Cat

I hate to admit it - but I'm a scaredy cat when it comes to crossing wooden bridges with gaps in between. I freeze in terror, fearing that I'll fall in between the gaps because my four paws cannot coordinate landing on the wooden planks all at the same time. This is what happened to me when we went into the jungle trails last Thursday (Yes, I managed to persuade dad). I was merrily going along, sniffing and smelling, absorbing the jungle scents.

Lo and behold, my carefree jaunt was rudely interrupted when we came across this horrible wooden bridge. Now, if this were my Slovenian buddy, Xsara, agility beagle extraordinaire , she would have cruised through the bridge with one flying leap. No problem. But, unfortunately, I'm not Xsara. My exploits are confined to climbing and jumping from 6-foot fences when I'm escaping. It definitely does not extend to crossing holey wooden bridges. Nothing dad could do could persuade me to cross the bridge.

After what seemed to be an eternity (actually it was only a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity), I finally relented and made a mad dash for it. It was a miracle my paws didn't get stuck between the gaps. Actually it wasn't that bad. I finally overcame my fear! I didn't have any problem crossing the next bridge after that.

So, when at first you don't succeed, try again! It worked for me :-)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dog Whisperer

When mum and dad lived in Bangkok, they came across the Dog Whisperer on Bangkok cable. Cesar Millan is a renowned dog behaviour expert. The series "Dog Whisperer" showcased how Cesar helps dog owners with problematic dogs. More often than not, the dogs' behavioural problems are attributed to the owners actions, or inactions, eg. lack of leadership.

Cesar believes that humans must take the role of the leader of the pack with their dogs. (He has a new book called Be the Pack Leader). My humans were very impressed with how he was able to resolve the problematic behaviours. Often at the start of the program, they will have their doubts that the dog can be "cured" but with proper guidance by Cesar, most dogs exhibit much improved behaviour at the end. It is so amazing.

BTW, this is not a paid post. My humans found Cesar's program contained a lot of useful guidance and wanted to share this with fellow dog lovers. In fact, on our recommendation, one of dad's friends bought Cesar's book and now both his friend and daughter have gone on-line to watch some of the episodes as they prepare to bring a puppy home. National Geographic broadcasts the show but mum & dad have not been able to catch in in Malaysia. If you know the date and time of showing in Malaysia, drop me a note, OK. Happpy watching!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday Present

Mum & dad came home with a present for me today. Claire, their 5-year old niece had drawn a picture of me and mum going for a walk. Did you see the flower in my mouth? I thought the picture was really pretty. Thanks Claire!

Claire's artwork

Claire, mum & me

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I'm A Star!

Woo hoo... I am so thrilled. I'm a Star in the Star!

I had a guest appearance on PawPrint, Weekender of the Star newspaper today. Mum has emailed my second post called "To BEagle or not to BEagle" from my blog to the Weekender early last month and had forgotten all about it. Then this morning, a friend sms-ed mum to say that I was in the Star. Of course, she and dad quickly went to the newstand to get a copy of the Star. There I was - on page WE10. Mum & dad were so proud of me. I would have liked to post a link to it for my non-Malaysian friends but unfortunately, the Star didn't post this article on-line. So, mum had to scan the article to reproduce it here.

Celebrity for a day...What a perfect ending to my birthday week.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Cool beagle stuff from Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand - Asia's shopping paradise! So, when my humans were relocated there 2 years back, they went mad shopping. They are heaps of cool doggie stuff in Bangkok. Thais love dogs. So you can find mugs with dog handles, cool retro dog prints, original dog paintings, big and small dog figurines, and tons of dog accessories for various breeds, large and small. It is a shopping haven for dog lovers!

Check out some of the stuff in our collection.

Guess which is my favourite?

Do also check out my new-found beagle friends, Jazz & Dixie's beagle shrine. Jazz & Dixie live in Japan and their humans have a cool collection of beagle stuff.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Morning Walk Surprise

I had a pleasant surprise yesterday when I went for my morning walk. Mum & I were finishing our walk on the bicycle trail when we bumped into fellow beagle, Becker and his humans. I reckon that Becker and I may be related coz our humans got us from the same breeder. Although Becker is a lemon and white-coloured Beagle, we have very similar facial features. So, for all we know, we could be step-siblings. How cool is that?

Becker's humans invited mum & me to join them for their walk as they were going to the hill. It's not the same hill that mum took me yesterday. It's actually an exclusive section of the suburb located on the hills. Naturally, the houses there are big and expensive. So, what would have been an ordinary 20-minute walk got extended by another 20 minutes more. What a treat!

Thanks for signing my guest book.