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Topics - shangrila

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Games & Jokes / Game I'd addicted to: Gold Miner
« on: November 10, 2005, 03:13:18 pm »
OK guys, I want to introduce you to a game called gold miner. There are a couple versions, but the Vegas one is the best. You can only play the first 'world' of the game for free online, but it is still awesome.

Prepare to be addicted


Anything Non-Dog Related / What made me smile today
« on: November 06, 2005, 08:15:09 pm »
This is in the spirit of 'what i learned today', because it seems like everyone could use a smile around here. So tell us: what is one thing that made you smile today?

Holiday Things / When are you sending your Secret Santa present?
« on: November 05, 2005, 11:57:26 am »
I went shopping yesterday and now my Secret Santa present and now all I have to do is wrap it. But I can't decide whether I should mail it soon since it's ready or wait so the recipient isn't too tempted to open it early. What are you doing?

Zoey has taken car trips at least weekly ever since she was a baby, and has always LOVED the truck. She has always been wicked excited when she sees the back of the truck open and jumps right in before we can even set up her ramp.... Until now.

Today I took Zoey to the pet store. She was terrified to get into the truck - it took me and Dan 10 minutes to get her in, and I almost just gave up and left her home. Then even after a fun trip to the petstore, Zoey was just as hesistant to get into the truck.

I couldn't figure out why she was so terrified of the truck at first, but then I realized it - we drove her in it to the evil vet last week. I am afraid that she is going to continue being afraid of the truck - that would be terrible. I am going to use treats and keep taking her fun places like the pet store, but I don't know how long I can keep doing it if she is going to be so difficult getting in - she almost got us killed in the petstore parking lot.

Argh  :-\

Hey everybody, I just noticed that the BPO clock changed again today.
To set it to the current time, I put '17' in the box for EST. That means you should put 16 for CST, 15 MST, and 14 for PST.

For those who don't know, to change the time, you need to go to 'profile' 'edit profile', and then 'look and layout preferences'.


Zoey generally loves everyone she meets, but when people knock on the door or ring the doorbell, she freaks out and barks up a storm. We live on a main street so we are expecting lots of trick or treaters this year, and I know that is going to be stressful for zoey. We think we are going to put zoey upstairs in our bedroom with music on and some bully sticks and toys. We are either going to give her some rescue remedy, or a sedative (we got one from the vet for the next time we cut her nails and we are supposed to do a trial run to see how long it takes to kick in, so we might do the trial run on monday when we know that the trick or treaters will stress her out).

What are your furkids doing on Monday night?

Zoey had the worst vet visit ever today! We are both traumatized.

We wanted to try a new vet because we have been unhappy with the vet we have been seeing in our new town. Zoey has had some tummy issues the past week, and she has seems to be having more hip pain, so we wanted to get a check up. It was horrible.

First, we walk in and zoey tail is wagging, because she loves the vet. She has been to 4 different vets now and continues to love them all (except for this one). Then we meet the new doctor (very nice and knowledgable), and things were fine until zoey saw her get out the ear checker and got scared and started backing away from her. So the doctor tells us she wants to take her to a different exam room so we can put her on the table to keep her still. They have this table that they basically tie a leash to to keep the dog on it and then it lifts up. Zoey has never been on one before, and it scared her, so she was struggling to get off. Then the vet is like 'well, we might as well cut her nails first while she is already on the table'. Zoey is terrified of having her nails cut, and she always struggles to get away. So then a vet tech comes in and they are going to cut her nails - she sees the nail cutters and starts struggling and trying to get away even more. So then they decide to muzzle her. She has never been in a muzzle before so now she is even more terrified. Her eyes went completely bloodshot and gums tomato red from being so stressed, and she was breathing so hard and was so scared i thought she was going to have a heart attack. So I'm petting her and telling her its ok, the vet tech is holding her still, and the doctor is cutting her nails. I asked them to be careful because the whole reason she is afraid of her nails being cut is that her quick was cut once and it traumatized her. Well, they cut her quick, not once, but twice! one on the back paw and then one on the front. Then, they were so freaking slow stopping it, there was blood everywhere. Then zoey sat in the blood and had blood all over her backside. Then she got it on my pants and shoes. It was SO horrible seeing her blood everywhere and it was SO horrible seeing her so scared. I have never seen her even half that upset before.

We picked up some meds (heartgaurd, some frontline, some sedatives), so that was good. And the people were nice and all... But $200 later, her tummy is ok, her hips are fine, but  zoey is scarred for life and now we will have to sedate her whenever we need to cut her nails.

She is not a happy camper right now.  :-[

Do you guys have any tips to make a dog not afraid of their backyard?

Zoey has some Bernese Mountain dog friends with a fenced in backyard. One will run around with her and they have SO much fun, but the other won't because he is afraid of the backyard. He will play with her right up until she goes past the porch. Apparently he used to love it back there, but then something happened (maybe he encountered another animal or something) and now he hates it. I want him to like it so he will play with Zoey too!

Do you think that they should wait for him to be ready to go back there, or try making him walk back there on a leash and giving him treats for being back there? I suggested hiding treats in the yard, but that won't work since he wont even know they are there without going back there.

Any tips? I want him to be unafraid so he can be zoey's playmate  8)

Saint Bernard General Discussions / Ramps / Steps
« on: October 16, 2005, 04:09:03 am »
I want to get a ramp or a set of dog stairs to put at the end of the bed for Zoey. Because of her HD, she shouldn't be jumping, but she likes being on the bed so much sometimes it is an issue, so I want to get something for her to be able to get on/off the bed without jumping.

We have a pet step ramp for the truck, but it wouldn't work for the bed (it has to lean on the edge to stand up; if we get a ramp, it has to be a ramp that supports itself). I am having trouble finding something that supports a giant breed and is tall enough (I need it to be 2 feet).

Does anyone have one of these that they can reccomend to me?

General Board for Big Dogs with Big Paws / Let's see some chewing pics
« on: October 13, 2005, 10:11:12 am »
I was taking a picture of Zoey gnawing on a bully stick tonight and I realized how many pics I have of her chewing stuff, but I don't see chewing pics much on BPO

I wanna see everyone's pups chewing on their favorite things  :D

Anything Non-Dog Related / Link: isketch
« on: October 12, 2005, 08:34:45 am »
I want to introduce you guys to a game that I enjoy. It's called isketch. It's basically win-lose-or-draw, but on the computer and international. It's not education, but hey it's fun, and maybe it'll be the next africa cam ;)

Book Club & Noteworthy Reads / Article about dog's minds
« on: October 11, 2005, 11:26:27 am »
This is an article that I just read in Slate magazine. I don't know how much I agree with it, but you know I can't read a dog article withour passing it on to BPO  8) And no, I'm not the Heather in question  ;)

Do Dogs Think?
Owners assume their pet's brain works like their own. That's a big mistake.
By Jon Katz
Posted Thursday, Oct. 6, 2005, at 7:48 AM PT

This has been adapted from Katz on Dogs, which is being published this week.

Download an MP3 audio version Jon Katz reading this piece here, or sign up to get all of Slate's free daily podcasts.

Blue, Heather's normally affectionate and obedient Rottweiler, began tearing up the house shortly after Heather went back to work as an accountant after several years at home. The contents of the trash cans were strewn all over the house. A favorite comforter was destroyed. Then Blue began peeing all over Heather's expensive new living room carpet and systematically ripped through cables and electrical wires.

 "I know exactly what's going on," Heather told her vet when she called seeking help. "Blue is angry with me for leaving her alone. She's punishing me. She always looks guilty when I come home, so she knows she's been bad. She knows she shouldn't be doing those things."

Heather's assessment was typical of many dog owners' diagnoses of behavioral problems. And her vet agreed, suggesting "separation anxiety" and prescribing anti-anxiety medication for Blue. Heather also hired a trainer, who confirmed the diagnosis.

Blue, they concluded, was resentful at her owner's absence and was misbehaving to regain the attention that she'd once monopolized. After all, Blue didn't transgress like this when Heather went out shopping or took in a movie with friends. It must be punitive. Heather's mother even recalled Heather, as a child, throwing tantrums when she went off to work. Heather and Blue had become so close, she joked, that they were acting alike.

So Heather shut Blue in the kitchen with a toddler gate, removing countertop food and garbage. Things calmed down. Heather began to relax and gave Blue the run of the house again.

Heather, a friend of a friend, had called me for counsel as well. But since she, her vet, her trainer, and her mother had all reached the same conclusion, and since the rampaging had stopped, I didn't give the situation much thought.

A month later, though, Heather was back on the phone: Blue had relapsed. She yowled piteously when confined to the kitchen or basement. Worse, she was showing signs of aggression with people and other dogs and refusing to obey even simple commands that were once routine. On one late-night walk, Blue attacked a terrier walking nearby, opening wounds that needed stitches.

Blue's problems had grown so serious that kennels wouldn't board the dog and the vet wouldn't examine her without a muzzle. Heather was thinking of finding her another home, turning her over to a rescue group, possibly even euthanizing her.

"She's out of control," Heather complained, exhausted, angry, and frightened. She sounded betrayed—a dog she'd loved and cared for was turning on her because she went to work. "I caused this by leaving her," Heather confessed, guiltily. But was she supposed to quit her job to stay home with her dog?

This time, Heather got my full attention. I took notes, asked questions, then called a canine behaviorist at Cornell and explained the problem in as much detail as I could.

"Everybody says the dog was reacting to her going back to work," I suggested.

"Everybody is probably wrong," was his blunt comeback. "It's 'theory of mind.' This is what often happens when humans assume that dogs think the way we do."

His analysis: "Being angry at the human and behaving punitively—that's not a thought sequence even remotely possible, given a dog's brain. The likely scenario is that the dog is simply frightened." When Heather was home, she was there to explain and enforce the rules. With her gone, the dog literally didn't know how to behave. The dog should have been acclimated to a crate or room and confined more, not less, until she got used to her new independence.

Lots of dogs get nervous when they don't know what's expected of them, and when they get anxious, they can also grow restless. Blue hadn't had to occupy time alone before. Dogs can get unnerved by this. They bark, chew, scratch, destroy. Getting yelled at and punished later doesn't help: The dog probably knows it's doing something wrong, but it has no idea what. Since there's nobody around to correct behaviors when the dog is alone, how could the dog know which behavior is the problem? Which action was wrong?

He made sense to me. Dogs are not aware of time, even as a concept, so Blue couldn't know whether she was being left for five minutes or five hours, or how that compared to being left for a movie two weeks earlier. Since she had no conscious notion that Heather's work life had changed, how could she get angry, let alone plot vengeance? The dog was alone more and had more time to fill. The damage was increasing, most likely, because Blue had more time to get into mischief and more opportunities to react to stimulus without correction—not because she was responding to different emotions.

I was familiar with the "theory of mind" notion the behaviorist was referring to. Psychologist David Premack of the University of Pennsylvania talks about it; it's also discussed in Stanley Coren's How Dogs Think.

The phrase refers to a belief each of us has about the way others think. Simply, it says that since we are aware and self-conscious, we think others—humans and animals—are, too. There is, of course, enormous difference of opinion about whether this is true.

When I used to leave my border collie Orson alone in the house, uncrated, he learned to open the refrigerator with his nose, remove certain food items, open the plastic container, and consume its contents. Then he'd squirrel away the empty packages. Everyone I told this story made the same assumptions: Orson was a wily devil taunting me for leaving him alone. We actually installed a child lock on the refrigerator door. But what changed his behavior was that I began to crate him when I went out. He has not raided the fridge since. Yet he could easily sneak in and do that while he's uncrated and I'm occupied outdoors or elsewhere in the house. Is he no longer wily? Or is he simply less anxious?

There's no convincing evidence I'm aware of, from any reputable behaviorist or psychologist, that suggests dogs can replicate human thought processes: use language, think in narrative and sequential terms, understand human minds, or share humans' range of emotions.

Yet that remains a powerful, pervasive view of dogs, the reason Heather's vet, trainer, and mother all agreed on Blue's motivations. It's almost impossible not to lapse into theory-of-mind reasoning when it comes to our dogs. After all, most of us have no other way in which to grasp another creature's behavior. How can one even begin to imagine what's going on inside a dog's head?

Most of the time, I don't know why my dogs do what they do. They seem aware that I have a way of doing things. They've learned that we don't walk in the street, that I don't distribute food from my plate, that there will be a bone or treat after dinner. But they are creatures of habit and instinct, especially when it comes to food, work, and attention. I often think of them as stuff-pots wedded to ritual, resistant and nervous about change.

I don't believe that dogs act out of spite or that they can plot retribution, though countless dog owners swear otherwise. To punish or deceive requires the perpetrator to understand that his victim or object has a particular point of view and to consciously work to manipulate or thwart it. That requires mental processes dogs don't have.

The more I've moved away from interpreting my dogs' behavior as nearly human, the easier it is to train them, and the less guilt and anxiety I feel.

To attribute complex thoughts and plots to their actions unravels the training process. Training and living with a dog requires a different theory: that these are primal, predatory animals driven by instinct. Rather than seeking animal clues to her dog's behavior, Heather imagined herself as the dog. She reasoned that if she, Heather, were suddenly left alone for long periods, abandoned by someone she loved and used to spend a lot of time with, she would feel angry and hurt and might try to get even, not only to punish her companion but to try to persuade him or her to return.

That's attributing a lot of intellectual activity to an animal that can recognize a few dozen words but has none of its own, that reads human emotions but doesn't experience the same ones. Since the Cornell behaviorist made sense to me, I conveyed his analysis: The dog didn't know how to behave with Heather gone. Crating Blue would reduce her anxiety and give her less chance to act up. I persuaded Heather—by now distraught—to buy a large crate. For weeks, she fed the dog in the crate, leaving the door open. Between meals, she left treats and bones inside.

The first time Heather closed the crate door, Blue threw herself against the metal, whining and howling. The same thing happened the second, third, fifth, and dozenth times. But Heather, cautioned that training and retraining often takes weeks and months, persisted. Sometimes she left the treat-filled crate open; other times she closed it.

After several weeks, Blue began to go into the crate willingly and remained there quietly for short, then lengthening periods. Heather walked Blue two or three times daily; when she was gone for more than three or four hours, she hired a dog walker to take her out an additional time and throw a ball. But whenever Heather left the house, she put Blue in the crate and left a nearby radio tuned to a talk network.

This time, Heather got it right, treating Blue as a dog, not a rebellious teenager. Blue improved dramatically, and the improvement continues. Her aggression diminished, then seemed to vanish, although Heather no longer lets her near dogs or children unleashed. It seemed the dog had comprehensible rules to follow, and felt safer.

Blue was liberated from the confusion, anxiety, and responsibility of figuring out what to do with her unsupervised and sudden freedom. Once again there was little tension between the two of them. Heather's house wasn't getting chewed up, and homecomings weren't tense and angry experiences. Yet here was a case, I thought, where seeing canine behavior in human terms nearly cost an animal its life.

Sometimes it does. Harry, a social worker in Los Angeles, wrote me that he had a great rescue dog named Rocket and was happy enough with the experience to adopt a second. Rocket attacked the new dog while Harry was feeding them, then bit a neighborhood kid. "He never forgave me for getting the new dog," Harry explained. "He was so angry with me. I couldn't trust him not to take out his rage on others, so I had him put to sleep."

We will never know, of course, what Rocket could or could not forgive. Rocket probably didn't attack the new dog out of anger at Harry. He was more likely protecting his food or pack position. The creature in the household with the most to lose from a new arrival, he probably simply fought for what he had. Then, once aroused, he was more dangerous. As trainers know, dogs under pressure have two options: fight or flight. Rocket decided to fight and paid for it with his life. Had his owner known more about dogs' true nature, he might have introduced the new dog more gradually, or not at all. And there might be one less bitten child. But this is all a guess. We will never know.

When I face such training problems—and I do, we all do—I try to adopt a Sherlock Holmesian strategy, using logic and determination. We have all sorts of tools at our disposal that dogs don't have. We control every aspect of their lives, from food to shelter to play, so we ought to be able to figure out what's driving the dog and come up with an individually tailored approach that works—and if it doesn't, come up with another one.

Why will Clementine come instantly if she's looking at me, but not if she's sniffing deer droppings? Is it because she's being stubborn or, as many people tell me, going through "adolescence"? Or because, when following her keen predatory instincts, she simply doesn't hear me? Should my response be to tug at her leash or yell? Maybe I should be sure we've established eye contact before I give her a command, or better yet, offer a liver treat as an alternative to whatever's distracting her. But how do I establish eye contact when her nose is buried? Can I cluck or bark? Use a whistle or hoot like an owl?

I've found that coughing, of all things, fascinates her, catches her attention, and makes her head swivel, after which she responds. If you walk with us, you will hear me clearing my throat repeatedly. What can I say? It works. She looks at me, comes to me, gets rewarded.

The reality is, we don't know that much about what dogs think, because they can't tell us. Behaviorists tend to believe that dogs "think" in their own way—in sensory images involving their finely honed instincts. They're not capable of deviousness or spite. They love routine: Nothing seems to make them more comfortable than doing the same thing at the same time in the familiar way, day after day: We snack here, we poop there, we play over here. I am astonished at how little it takes to please them, how simple their lives can be if we don't complicate them.

Jon Katz is the author of The Dogs of Bedlam Farm: An adventure with three dogs, sixteen sheep, two donkeys and me. He can be e-mailed at

Anything Non-Dog Related / Anybody need anything fun photoshopped?
« on: October 09, 2005, 03:38:08 am »
I'm bored, and the weather is too crappy to go anywhere.

Anybody need anything fun photoshopped? I could always use the practice...


General Board for Big Dogs with Big Paws / Whose dog watches TV?
« on: October 05, 2005, 09:06:53 am »
What shows does your dog like?  :D

Zoey is so funny about television. We always have the TV on and she never pays any attention to it except when we put on dogs with jobs. Any other show she ignores, but as soon as we put on dogs with jobs she walks right up and stares and tries to lick the screen. Right now she is watching a leonberger on the show like it is a real dog. It's so cute :) I gotta take a picture of her watching TV one of these days...

BPO, help me.

I work at an elementary school and am working on getting an afterschool job providing in-home childcare to one of the families at my school. The problem is, I don't know what to charge. I don't want to overcharge and have them think I am ripping them off, but I don't want to undercharge and screw myself.

So you BPOers who have kids, tell me, what would you pay? I would be bringing their daughter home after school and watching her 2:30-5:30. What do you think that should cost? :)


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