Prevent Hypothermia in Dogs

Posted by Raja on January 14th, 2014 — Posted in Health, Safety

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Symptoms of hypothermia for dogs:

.Strong shivering and pale skin (roll back the fur to check for white or dull-gray skin tone)

. Unexpected listness and lethargy changing the pace of moving outside

Emergency treatment:

.Wrap your dog in warm blankets heated on the radiator or in the dryer.

.Apply a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to the dog’s abdomen.

.Give warm fluids.

.Raise the body temp to above 100 degrees F (38.8 C) before removing the water bottle.

With my warm coat over fluffy fur, I'll stay well insulated for my hike.

Raja and I are trying to preach to the unconverted, not those of you who are knitting, shopping, designing up a storm to make sure your dogs are warm in winter.  You people don’t need to read further.   (Yarn is on sale now post Christmas.  Stock up.)


We are writing to the unconverted. May this post find you die hards out there.  We know who you are.  When we post listicles for Dogster, you are those fighting mad reactionaries who write in, “Dogs have fur, Stupid.”  or “That’s why they’re dogs not people.” when we  advocate weatherproofing your pup.  You should read and learn the above symptoms and treatment.

Let’s go back to our favorite ancient subject, wolves.  Yes, dogs evolved from wolves.  Wolves do not wear coats.  In the wilds, they hunt prey, drink from chilly, pristine streams, sleep in the snow and live an average of five years.  The cause of death probably is not lack of coats, but general wear and tear of living the life of a hunter/forager in all kinds of weather: cold, hot, hungry, thirty, tired, hurt, diseased… all discomforts you seek to protect your dog from.

Now let’s consider your dog.  Unless your dog is one of the dogs of snow-Malamute, Alaskan Sled Dog and similar breeds- and unless you yourself live outside  in a very cold climate and your dog was born right  there in your ice cave- your dog probably needs a coat or sweater when the temperature dips below 35.  If your domestic dog is as comfortable as you are with temperatures between 62-70F  inside, he won’t be comfortable for extended periods when the temperature is 40 degrees less.

So, for short outings around the property or to the corner and back, your dog will probably be happy without the ritual of coating up, but, for long walks in cold air, a coat helps your dog feel comfortable by insulating a warm layer near the skin in the fur.  Rather than making you look simpleminded,  a coat broadcasts that you know what you’re doing as a dog owner.

Temperatures across the mid to northern US have been highly changable. Some weeks have been an average of -10 degrees F and some weeks have averaged 45 degrees F.  Beware the effects of radical changes because extreme cold will be especially debilitating after a week of mild temps. If you are complaining about how cold it is, then your dog, too, probably needs outerware.

Don't end up like this snowman and his frozen doggy!

Raja says, “Travel safely and warmly, live long and happily.”  (Many of Raja’s outerwear, including his Folklore Cape-Coat, comes from Carolyn’s Originals.)


Raja wants to spread the word about dangerous jerkey treats!

Posted by Raja on November 19th, 2013 — Posted in Health

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Mission bound to save pets from bad food!

Notices are traversing the internet about dangerous jerkey treats from overseas.  Is the report an urban legend, or are jerkey treats really killing pets?  It’s not an urban legend.  Jerkey treats are dangerous.

Our vet, Dr. Karen Johansen of Three Rivers Holistic Veterinary Services in Madison NJ, sent an excellently written notice around via her client newsletter.  As you will read at the end, this cause is personal for her.  By permission, we are reposting most of it.  Please read…

“DO YOU FEED COMMERCIAL JERKY TREATS TO YOUR PET?  You may have seen the news report:  the FDA has recently issued a warning to both veterinarians and pet owners regarding chicken, duck and sweet potato jerky treats. The agency said it has linked illnesses from jerky pet treats to 3,600 dogs and 10 cats since 2007. About 580 of those pets have died. Pets can suffer from a decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting and diarrhea within hours of eating treats sold as “jerky tenders” or “strips”. Severe cases have caused kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder known as Fanconi syndrome. The FDA is now appealing to pet owners to send them more information on animals who may have gotten sick after eating the treats.

If you or anyone you know are feeding these treats to their pets, please stop!!!!  DO NOT trust the packaging information on these treats.  Manufacturers are NOT required to disclose where ingredients are originally sourced from.  Claiming ‘Made in USA’ on their packaging only means it was packaged here, NOT that the ingredients came from the US.  More information, including how to file a complaint, can be found on the FDA’s website:

**We at Three Rivers have a very strong opinion about the dangers of jerky treats….we recently said goodbye to Dr Johanson’s red and white Papillon Noli Canoli… Noli had been valiantly struggling with severe kidney damage since 2008 after ingesting tainted jerky treats***”

Raja and I feel that consumers are betrayed by unregulated packaging.  Your cheerfully worded, English language package you find on the pet store displayer can say, “Made in the USA,” but the contents can be made anywhere in the world, in small factories, under unsanitary conditions, by unscrupulous manufacturers.  It’s not moral, but that’s not the issue.  We cannot track down these manufactureries and we cannot regulate them.

The safest thing we consumers can do is to avoid commercially manufactured jerkey treats categorically.

Let’s all help our pets live long, healthy lives!!!!

Raja apologizes for the delay in posts.  He has been very busy.  You can imagine how it can be for a traveling dog.  He’ll be staying in town through the holidays and he’ll catch up on his posts and share some of his adventures.  Right now he’s looking at ski destinations, but he’s still so undecided.

Hot Dogs Love to Swim!

Posted by Raja on September 10th, 2013 — Posted in Health

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For resident dogs in the US Central and Atlantic regions, the summer has been brutally hot. For California and Southern regions, the heat never actually goes away for long. What’s a furry dog to do when temperatures soar? Just lie around the house?

Raja says, “NO! Take to the water!”

Raja mastering his dog paddle.

Most dogs can swim, although admittedly some dogs do it more naturally than others. Who are the great swimmers in the dog world? The spaniels and the setters are usually naturals. Newfoundlands, Portuguese Water Dogs and Goldens also are often great swimmers. Is every individual in these groups a swimmer. Absolutely not. Dogs are land animals, and some just do not swim well or cheerfully.


This blog is not for them. A safe three inches of water in a wading pool is for them. Dogs, like children, should not be forced to do sports for which show no aptitude or interest.

Here’s Sherpa, the Tibetan Spaniel showing how a good doggy cools off on a hot day in his backyad pool. Returning to the idea of dogs who can manage in water, most dogs can learn to swim and most dogs end up enjoying swimming, which can be extremely beneficial. Water cools the core, exercises the legs, strengthens the spine and gives dogs a feeling of confidence discovering a new skill. While many dogs will leap into water and swim forcefully and competently, no dogs should be left alone in water and most dogs should be closely supervised.

To teach a dog to swim, gently carry him into a warm pool’s shallow end. Walk beside him supporting his mid section. Let him get his bearings, wait for him to paddle and gently release your tight hold, keeping a hand under his chest. Stay by his side. If your dog seems to swim feebly or drop in the rear quarters, fish him out and buy him a canine flotation device to make his swims safer and less strenuous.

As for Raja, seriously, how does he like his new sport? It went like this: surprise (what’s she thinking!?), disbelief (she actually did drag me in here?), paddling (hey this isn’t bad), stronger paddling (my tail seems awfully heavy), emerging confidence (yes, I can keep my tail up if I give it a little effort), pride (I am the new Michael Phelps). He likes it a lot, but he can’t be expected to jump in on his own, can’t be left alone in a pool and can’t be asked to swim for more than ten minutes dragging his water logged coat.

If you have access to a pool, never let your dog swim alone. Provide two exit ramps on either side of the pool and teach him to get himself out. Watch out for signs of fatigue. Stay in the shallow end. A scared dog might leap on top of you and it would be best to have your feet on the bottom and your upper body out of the water so you are safe if your dog panics. Swimming benefits the young and fit but also dogs who are recovering from injuries (by doctor’s permission), overweight dogs, dogs with joint troubles, elderly dogs, bored dogs and hot dogs.

Raja's own backyard pool.

For those of us who don’t have big pools, a hot little dog can get a large size blow up pool like Sherpa’s and have loads of swimming fun in a small space. Here’s Raja’s own backyad pool. Not Olympic in size, but Olympic enough for him!


The Mighty Shih Tzu: Sports Milestone Attained by Cy the Shih Tzu

Posted by Raja on August 28th, 2013 — Posted in Agility

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Cy in his director's chair with his distinctions.

Champion Cy Ty attains his C-ATCH Championship! Refusing to be sidelined by illness, injury and family tragedy, Cy the Shih Tzu has shaken off all obstacles and made his run for Canine Gold! Earning a total of Qs120 (quality benchmarks) at a trial in Dexter, Michigan at the Canine Recreation Center. Cy has leapt to a pinnacle of agility glory. Raja says, “Cy, I knew you when… and I knew you’d go all the way to becoming an official champ!”

The Olympics of dog fitness is not a single event, but a series of athletic challenges in which championship comes after lengthy commitment and true and consistent performance. One of those venues is CPE, Canine Performance Events in which dogs of all kinds, all sizes and all backgrounds can compete through obedience, agility and athleticism in running challenging courses, responding to direction from their human team partner and succeed in running, leaping, tunneling, balancing their way to a smooth and speedy run of all the obstacles.

Is CPE healthy for dogs physically and mentally? Yes! Does CPE strengthen the dog/human relationship? Yes! Is travel involved? Yes! Is it fun? Yes!!! Raja loves CPE and he’s really proud of his good friend Cy, the second Shih Tzu in the world to win the coveted C-ATCH distinction as a Canine Performance Event Agility Trial Champion.

CT, Tasha and Champion Cy

Who is this champion? Cy lives in Michigan in a Shih Tzu oriented home. His sister Tasha was a trained therapy dog. His little brother CT is an athlete as well. Sensitive and unassuming, Cy spends his free hours glued to his family, but give him a bar to jump over or a beam to walk, and he’s proud and ready to show what he can do. Like most individuals of extreme physical accomplishment, Cy wears his honors modestly. He’s no snob. You can get his attention with a little piece of salami and he will pose for pictures.

Why is Raja so excited about this milestone? As you readers know, barking about how much of an all around dog the Shih Tzu is always remains Raja’s main mission. This breed, tracing its ancestry right back to the Himalayan Wolf, is always ready to adapt and meet challenges in whatever niche it finds itself. Sure, the Shih Tzu will curl up on the couch with you, and you could even get him addicted to bonbons (if you are), but at heart, the Shih Tzu is a traveler, an adventurer, a Shih Tzu of fortune and heart whose dreams of glory are far far bigger than his average 11 lb. size.

Champions also win enormous treat baskets.

What will Cy do now? Probably he’ll start all over again and become a double champion. As all athletes know, resting on your laurels allows the opportunity for too many others to jump up on your pedestal. Cy’s far too competitive for that.

Help Cy to go for even more gold… buy your insanely cute doggy duds from his amazing online store.

Champions get to keep the final bar they jump.

Dogs Love to Roam in Rome…

Posted by Raja on August 5th, 2013 — Posted in interview, Italy

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In Senna, Raja and Sherpa take a stroll.

In case you were thinking that a rambunctious pair roaming the streets of Italian cities would be frowned upon, rethink. Italy is a very old country, and a city oriented country. Rather than being largely rural, Italy is largely urban. What this means is that most Italian dogs are city dwellers.

So, paws on the ground, what is expected of a four footed tourist roaming the famous sites of Italy? Raja and Sherpa will fill you in:

Sherpa at the Vatican!

1. Behavior: The Italians don’t expect their dogs to behave any better or worse than they do. So, decorous bruskness is requested when walking the streets. But (and Raja did find this rather lenient) if you need to bark at a pigeon or even another dog, go ahead because people like a little feistiness in a dog about town. Just no fighting or biting… well, as Sherpa adds, you may lunge at pigeons because nobody likes them anyway.

2. Restaurants: Dogs may enter most restaurants, even very nice ones. Nobody will bat an eye. Waiters compassionately will bring water in an enormous bowl, big enough to bathe the dog. Try not to put your foot in it under the table. Raja reminds you that there may be several dogs in a small restaurant. There is no need to be loud. Just curl up on your family’s backpack and relax.

3. Hotels: Most hotels will accept dogs. Why not? Where would your dog stay if not in the hotel? And yes, they may walk through the lobby. They may bark in the lobby. They’re dogs, right?

Raja in Rome on the Bridge of Angels

4. Peeing: The Italians are not shocked by a dog being normal. Unprotected monuments like the outer wall of the Pantheon are fair game. Why not? The dogs of Rome used the wall and the temple’s still standing.

5. Wineries: Yes, dogs may accompany you on wine tours. Italian wineries are not a drop-in businesses. You will have to book your wine tour and it will be both a little more expensive, and a great deal nicer than American wine tours and tastings. Ask politely if you may bring your dogs and the winery representative will tell you elegantly that it’s OK. Do carry small dogs in your tour of the caves. Nothing can prepare the West Coast wine affectionado dog for the ancient, mouldy-musky, possible bat-lurkingness of the cellars of Italy. (Read Edgar Allen Poe’s “A Cask of Amontillado” to prepare your expectations.)

Raja and Sherpa want to send a bark out to their two favorite wineries in Tuscany:
Vinamaggio, in Greve, Tuscany is just about the most gracious villa and winery imaginabale. (Do not neglect to book a tour of the grounds so you can hear the secret story of Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa portrait. Yes, your doggy may tour the grounds and hear the story too.)
Avionesi, an elegant wine estate near Montalcino. Both ancient and innovative, Avionesi practices innovative agriculture and welcomes dog guests without fuss.

Raja checks out the enormous casks at Vignamaggio.

So if you take your dog to Italy, in summation, your dog only needs to be a normal dog, not a supernatural dog in the behavior category. Raja and Sherpa got high marks at Vignamaggio, strangely both because Raja was quiet and attentive throughout and also because Sherpa barked at the Villa’s cat- twice.

2 for the Road = 8 Paws in Tuscany! Chapter 2

Posted by Raja on June 20th, 2013 — Posted in Europe, Italy

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Raja and Sherpa were welcome in Tuscany, Italy where the outdoor lifestyle and the sheer simplicity of life’s values made their presence seem pretty normal and appropriate to Italians in this dramatic and glorious countryside. Categorically, we can say, Italians like dogs, usually own dogs and aren’t surprised to see dog tourists.

What is Tuscany exactly? Tuscany is the region north of Rome bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Etruscans dominated until the Romans conquered in 351 BCE. Following the Roman Empire, city states rose, each a scrappy, contentious little citadel on a hill that both created unique, native trade goods and made jealous, little wars on its neighbors. In the 15th century, the Medici Family, rich and political, dominated; their vision and political savvy nurtured Dante, Macchiavelli, Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Leonardo and Michelangelo. Tuscany was the epicenter of the Italian Renaissance. In 1871, Tuscany became part of a united Italy, but roughly 75 years later suffered grievously as a major theater of WWII. Its architectural treasures were blown to pieces; its famous art looted, regained, relooted and regained, leaving the area impoverished and disassembled. In the times of local peace, Tuscany has emerged as a gentle region of famous national culture.

Raja and Sherpa, anti-war and apolitical, just want to enjoy each minute of every day and Tuscany offers ample opportunity to fulfill their travel dreams. So, first off, where did they stay and how did they get there?

Windy roads and a cozy blanket for paw traction.

They flew into Rome’s Fiumicino Airport and took a rental car north. Two and a half hours, and they were in Tuscany- where the landscape changed to rolling hills dotted by little round bushes and occasional trees of two sorts, small and lollypop-like or tall and slender. And then they saw the vineyards and ancient olive groves, patched everywhere on the hillsides.

Ancient vines.

Since Tuscany champions its local culture, Raja and Sherpa stayed in a country house, a sprawling farmhouse complex repurposed into a comfortable hotel with rustic apartments, breakfast on the rose terrace, a pool that overlooks a valley that lies beneath a mountain upon which sits a castle and gardens, gardens, gardens tended by a constant gardener. Dogs are welcome everywhere. Raja and Sherpa put their paws in the pool, relaxed in the dining room, lounged under the umbrella at breakfast and rambled through the roughly 100 acres of the estate. The office advised us that the area is fenced, so they didn’t need leashes, and, oh yes, the local wild boar won’t really bother them if they don’t chase her. Hmmm… anyway… We cannot recommend the Casa Cornacchi in the Province of Siena any more highly.

A country house apartment allows for both service and autonomy. Raja and Sherpa were able to have food cooked right in their own stone farm kitchen, bought in cute, private groceries or from the ubiquitous, Coop, the regional supermarket cooperative that champions local products and local manufacturers.

So what did they do, besides stalk boar? Next post we’ll tell you about the best hill towns of Tuscany for our adventuresome duo!

Travel Dogs in Tuscany, Italy! Chapter One!

Posted by Raja on June 11th, 2013 — Posted in Airplane Safety, Europe, Health, Italy

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Stick close to me in Montalcino, Sherpa and don't worry.

Raja the Travel Professional decided to help Sherpa the Travel Novice put down her paws for her first overseas trip in Italy’s central region, Tuscany- famous for glorious hill towns, painterly landscapes, handcrafts, wine and, especially food! Italy is a good travel spot for adventuresome, hardy American dogs.

Why Italy?

1.Europeans often travel with family dogs in bucolic Tuscany.

2.Most Italians have dogs they are very proud of and many bring their dogs when they go out to dinner. (Yes, at nice places too, but always begging is uncool.) Hotels usually welcome dogs, but you always should ask.

3.Dogs are expected to be trustworthy and socialized in Italy, but Italians enjoy and celebrate the “dogginess” of dogs… the wagging tails, the slurpy tongues, the need to roam, the need to bark and even the assertiveness of dogs.

4.And, as we see in sculpture and painting, dogs have always been a celebrated part of the beauty of Italian life.

A display of marble dog sculptures in the Vatican Museum.

In the next blog series we are going to tell you all our fun adventures and recommended spots, but first we want to bark about a few ground rules for canine travel. Good canine travel looks easy, but the prep is enormous.

Plane Transport: Small dogs under 15 lbs. can travel in cabin on most airlines in most seasons. We don’t know anything about travel in cargo for larger dogs and we feel it’s not fair that airlines relegate large dogs to cargo. We don’t feel confident about cargo and would never have any of our dog friends in cargo. Others may disagree, but the isolation and unaccountability of cargo concerns us too much to advocate cargo transport at this point. (We’ve already written an awful lot about how to choose a travel bag, train for plane travel, buy a dog ticket from the airline and help your dog not have to pee in flight. It’s all in our archives.)

Health: Only robustly healthy dogs should embark on strenuous travel. We are not barking about dogs who have good health, but take some regular medication. We are barking against taking fragile, highly medication-dependent dogs on strenuous trips. Don’t kid yourself. Travel is for the fit and perky. It’s only fair to make sure your dog is travel healthy.

Before leaving, get a health check up from your vet. Carry the inoculation records as well as a signed letterhead letter from your vet that certifies the good health of your dog, in your own language and translated into the country’s language. (Google Translate will help you and your vet to create a pretty good foreign language translation.)

Use online search engines to research local vets in the areas you will visit and keep the list with your documents.

Sherpa loves playing in the countryside.

Bring shampoo and grooming tools and groom your dog daily. Travel creates mats and, as one example, Tuscany’s hillsides are full of burrs and foxtails. Watch out for eyes and ears. Maintain brushing teeth. Wash paws after long, grimy walks. As a style destination of the world, Italy is the place for your dog to look pretty every day.

Food and Supplements: Take all required medication or regular vitamins, treats and food (if your dog eats packaged food.) Raja and Sherpa eat home cooked stews, so they travel with a day’s supply of frozen food and a few jars of baby food to tide them over. (Note, if your dog eats home cooked, you will need accommodations with a kitchen. If your dog is an avid restaurant foodie, as Raja and Sherpa can be, plan not to be shy when asking a restaurant to make your dog some chicken and rice. After all, you’re paying, so don’t act pitiful and unentitled and feel confident requesting no onions and no salt. (Many restaurants will kindly offer you free food composed of the table scraps of other diners. It’s a thoughtful offer, but other people’s scraps are not a trustworthy source of dog food. Refuse politely. Say, “Thanks so much, but his stomach is sensitive.”)

Toys and Beds: One or two favorite toys help pass the time in transit. A favorite blanket makes a dog feel at home and is easy to pack. Raja loves these snuggle beds. They fold flat and delight him when he sees them reshaped in the hotel. Raja and Sherpa got plush boars in Tuscany. All dogs like to bring back a little souvenir.

A memento of my trip!

Water: A hiker’s light-activated water purifier or bottled water is best for traveling dogs. If you are not drinking from the tap, you dog also should not drink tap water.

Clothing and Heat: If it’s cold, your dog could need a coat or a raincoat. If the weather at your destination is hot, your dog could need a tummy shave down. On hot day trips, soaking the paws and tummy in water provides instant relief. Rome and some other Italian cities have frequent water fountains along the streets. While you can’t actually soak your dog in them, nobody would blame you for splashing a hot doggy with water from the aqueducts of the Romans. (Do not plunge your dog into the Trevi Fountain unless it’s a real emergency. That’s kind of not done… unless you really, really must.)

Harnesses and Leads: Yes, bring one and a back up. If you normally use a retractable lead, consider a short nylon lead for travel. It’s lighter and Italy’s crowded streets don’t accommodate a long lead.

We could go on, but Raja says we have found our balance between advising and helicoptering. Next blog, it’s paws on the ground in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport and off by car to the lands of good food and sunshine!

A Rescue Dog’s Fast Track to Earning Her Travel Wings!

Posted by Raja on May 20th, 2013 — Posted in Airplane Safety

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Could Sherpa do it? Yes she DID! In just one month Sherpa went from wary of her travel bag to flying across the country in it for a total 7-hour trip!

How? First off, no dog is going to train happily is she’s not happy and at ease with her life. So any rescue pet needs to calm down and settle in before anybody tries to teach her anything. Sherpa got the royal treatment right off. Even though her house rules allow her on furniture and don’t require her to eat her peas, she still has to adjust to being left alone by herself, behaving civilly to guests and staying cool in new situations. It may take a while for her to learn that she’s never going to be returned to the rescue shelter and anyone coming up to her is NOT going to steal her family away. But she’s making strides.

There was a legitimate reason for real concern. To start out, flying dogs should take a short trip of about one hour, just to get their wings flapping in the right direction. Classically, a dog from LA should get to fly to San Francisco for a weekend as a first trip. But not Sherpa. She was being asked to be too wonderful too fast. But we somehow thought that her interest in being with and like her family meant she’d do anything at all.

Well part of her success was consistent and constant training. Sherpa has shown us that she can’t be forced to do things that scare her, but she will try to tolerate new situations for a limited time. So it was off to Office Depot, CVS, the car wash, or just around the block in the travel bag. Some trips ended in visits to her favorite guilty pleasure, In-n-Out Burger.

Sherpa, ready for your travel bag now?

On the morning of her trip, Sherpa was bright eyes and looking for fun when she heard she had to go in her bag! “Is it In-n-Out Burger so early in the day for me?” she wondered.

But, no, so surprising and challenging, it was off to the airport and onto the plane and up in the sky and back down again! Was Sherpa OK about it? Weeeel… she did drool a lot at first. But she was quiet, still and held her center.

Raja and Sherpa meet up on the east Coast!

Once she got out on the East Coast and met the rest of the family and got to play with Raja and stay in his house and see his neighborhood and meet his friends, well, Sherpa now is an Official Travel Dog too. Look how cute they look together!

Yay Sherpa! Now a Travel Dog With Wings! And for being such a wonderful doggy, Sherpa won’t have to keep her paws on the ground for too long. Next month she’s going on a family vacation to another country waaaaay across the Atlantic Ocean! You can be sure we’ll be barking all about it!

Training Your Dog to Fly in Cabin: Sherpa ‘s Flying Lessons

Posted by Raja on April 26th, 2013 — Posted in Airplane Safety

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Sherpa... soon to fly!

As we mentioned last post, training a dog to fly in cabin isn’t as easy as zipping her in her airline approved bag and taking off. Everybody tends to resist incarceration- at first. How did Raja get so good at it? We capitalized on his most salient desire- to be a constant companion. It wasn’t too hard for him to piece together being in the bag to being in the car and the plane and the train and the gondola and the horse cab, etc.… with us.

Sherpa, however, as a rescued dog, has some unsatisfactory associations with small carrier confinement… being removed from her crowded first home in a crate, carted about to pet shop chain adoption days, transported to a new foster house, etc (perhaps). So, moving off site in a carrier leads toward worrisome expectations, as her experience has proven. Still, the beauty of reconditioning can lead Sherpa to wonderful new adventures near and far (as we say). Same as with people, for animals to be lead away from their fears towards more autonomy and confidence is always always good. So we’re not just going to let this go and end up with Sherpa kenneled back home when others fly.

Last week we mentioned that she likes to hide in a den. Sherpa continues to run under the couch or the bed now and then. She’s terribly sneaky and cute about it, as her video shows. We can work with this. Clearly, she likes a refuge. So, when she slides into any of her several secret spots, we never drag her out and we treat her emergence as a wonderful event. “Yay, Sherpie!”

And always the travel bag stays out on top of her favorite couch, door always open and her favorite blanket folded on the bottom. Don’t know if you can see the Sherpa Security Cam screen capture, but look closely inside the bag. When she’s home alone and nervous, she slips inside. Success is perhaps possible if we’re careful and don’t make her hate the bag.

Sherpa still doesn’t love riding in the car in her travel bag. We get it that she feels she’s being transported to a new home, and she’s pretty much not having that happen! Occasionally she likes to bark at people when she’s in the bag. Not good form.

So she’s taking it slowly. Sitting in the bag when she wants. Transported to short destinations- being carried around the block in her bag, taken out for a burger, a visit to the car wash, carried into the office supply store for a zip drive- or any random item within 15 feet of the door in case we have to make a quick, loud getaway. We have to quickly turn her away from anyone approaching too quickly or anyone peering in the bag too closely. Raja got the idea of the travel bag fast, but he didn’t have his own baggage to mess with his head. Sherpa’s going to have to summon a whole huge load of trust to get herself on that plane. Can she, will she? Raja’s tapping his paw.

Next post we’ll take you with Cy the agility athlete who is going to earn his C-ATCH championship in just a few days! And then back to Sherpa… does she get on that plane and fly cross-continent, or does her barking earn her a drop off in Utah?

Travel Dogs are Born… and Created

Posted by Raja on April 18th, 2013 — Posted in Airplane Safety, Pet Adoption

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Meet Sherpa, Raja's new California cousin!

Raja has a new cousin in California, a Tibetan Spaniel Mix named Sherpa. She was rescued from a place with too many dogs and too little attention, lived for a few months in the foster home and just got her new home a week ago. So, Sherpa has a lot to learn about forever homes, trust and really good food. She also has to learn to play and, very importantly, she needs to learn that every car trip is not a trip to a different way station in a shuffled life.

Focusing on the idea of shuffling, although now a permanent family member, Sherpa will be shuffled a lot. She’ll fly back and forth coastally, she’ll go on ski trips by plane and car and she’ll visit the seashore. Who knows, she might become an international travel dog and trot the globe with Raja. Easily.

But for now, cousin Sherpa has to learn to enjoy sitting in an airline travel bag for 8 hours total travel coast to coast. How will she begin?

Most dogs like the security of a den.

First, we discover that Sherpa doesn’t mind refuging in a small den. She likes to go under things. So we got her an airline approved, size-appropriate travel bag and set it out in the living room with her new favorite blanket in it and her newest toy. Sherpa doesn’t mind going in and out. She doesn’t mind sitting in it when she’s by herself either, as her security camera reveals.

But, zipping her in and taking her out and about is going much less well. Sherpa likes to bark at people who get too close to her bag and she claws the mesh when she has to sit in it in the car. Sherpa does best when she’s being carried in the bag and can see lots of sights outside. As long as nobody gets too close, Sherpa will deal with the bumping and swaying. While it’s important to let her know the bag is a place for her, we walk a fine line between comfort and confinement. We want Sherpa to feel secure in the bag, not stuck in the bag. We want her to feel as Raja does: all major adventures start with a comfy snooze in the travel bag and end in a new climate for fun and exploration. Hop in the bag, take a nap, awake to ADVENTURE!

From today, Sherpa has about one month to go from ambivalent to cozy in that airline bag because she’s scheduled for her first transcontinental flight in 30 days. Raja’s first flight was across the continent. We recommend short one hour flights to start out, but Sherpa, like Raja is being asked to get her wings pretty fast.

Can Sherpa do it? We’ll see…