Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Dog Behaviourist #3

We're on the right track: Orlando is improving. His trainer has spent a few hours with us and he was pleased to see that he goes less for rocks, socializes and plays with other dogs and -in general- he behaves much better. His blood exams are fine and the hypothesis of a compulsive behavior is less strong than it was anticipated. A compulsive dog does not improve and is more difficult to distract. So, things are doing well but there are still things he has to learn so... more work for us. It's ok though, I love working and playing with him. We tire him out a lot and apparently it works as he sleeps through the night without jumping on the bed. 

It goes without saying that I work more at home which is a real blessing as I spend more time with him and consequently I can train him and go out for long walks. My mum is also doing a great job with Orlando. G. plays a big role too but he is not a work-at-home dad so long walks with both parents are scheduled in weekends only.

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I'm reading Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole series). I get easily bored with series though so I doubt that I'll read all the books, however it doesn't make sense that book #1 is out in English along with #3, 4 and so forth and #2 hasn't been translated yet! It's annoying, isn't it?

Anyway, the first book is pretty good. It's not a masterpiece and it depends if you like crime novels, but Nesbo is a good writer so I'd recommend it.

Just received and/or downloaded the following:
  1. The Innocents
  2. Fall of giants
  3. What Buddha Thought
What are you reading?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The dog behaviourist #2

B. arrives at 2:30. Orlando barks and is allowed to go out to see who's coming. B. starts his observation right away and asks questions while we are outside. We stay inside for about 1 hour and a half. He asks lots of questions and observes Orlando and how we relate to him. 

He explains that eating non-food can be:
a) a compulsive behavior due to mistakes while he was learning (e.g. when he ate rocks the previous "mom" gave him something to distract him and he began to associate rocks with treats)
b) a genetic compulsive disorder (what about his siblings? As far we can tell, they do the same but we don't know to what extent so it might be genetic)
c) pica caused by physiologic problems (e.g. gastritis)
d) a non-compulsive behavior.

What can we do?
First, go to the vet to check that his digestive system is ok. Second, training him with sit-stay close to areas where there's non-food he usually tries to eat. The training with sit-stay is going fine AND, more importantly, he doesn't eat weird things if there's food. This is good because tough compulsive disorders don't go away if there's a distraction. Third, use a specific halter. 

We also have to work on other aspects and we've already started. He's learned to socialize with other dogs. At the beginning he is scared, but then he is ok. We changed our habit: instead of going towards quite areas with few dogs and few people, we now go to the main square. B. told to do that asap and things have improved a lot in just 2 days. He has to be more independent which is not easy for him as he is ALWAYS with someone. Furthermore, when we're on the couch I don't do anything to prevent him from sleeping ... basically on my belly and this is not good, according B. and to G. to be candid. I am aware I shouldn't do it and I'm working on that ;-) B. explained what to do and I'll try. Promise! 

Anyway, to cut this short B. stayed with us until 6!! We even went out for a walk. He'll come again next Sunday. He is very professional and we really like him. He is also quite well-known here and we've heard positive comments so... we're ready to work with him and with Orlando.

It's like having a second job though as it entails careful observation and training but we do love Orlando so it's not a problem at all. And we're learning a lot so.. it's good! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

On and Off

I'm off today due to the dog behaviorist ;-)
It's a long weekend for us which is great as I am pretty tired. Orlando attempted to jump on the bed every night (approx. every hour or so) of the week. I am sleep deprived and I do have all the physiological effects except for depression! Plans for the weekend include naps, naps and naps. Next week is going to be hectic, I have to get myself together before monday.
Plans also include: Sunday lunch at a lovely restaurant, housekeeping, Hallloween shopping on etsy (I LOVE IT), watching this, reading etc.

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The right to be let alone

The right to privacy was first conceived (in the US in the late XIX century) as "the right to be let alone". Now the right to privacy and overall idea of privacy have changed a lot for several reasons, one them being a completely different media landscape. Not only are we more exposed due to the ubiquitous use of surveillance technologies, but we aim to be exposed through social networks and blogs. That said, the right to be alone should be considered one of the core principles of democracy. 

This is why I'm struggling with projects like this. As a sociologist and a  researcher I can see the value of the project but I can also see the drawbacks. There are people who walk away from their lives without leaving behind any explanations to their families. I wouldn't do it, but I can see the point. It's terrible but it's a personal choice. After all, we should have the right to be let ALONE for whatever reason. 

Interviewing returned missing people is indeed an added value for the police but it does bear ethical concerns. And I guess one of the appeal of the research is that returned missing people can now have 15 minutes of celebrity("Storying journeys in order to raise public awareness").Their story will go public (or semi-public) for the sake of the research. Is this correct? To be honest, I don't know. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Dog Behaviorist

We've arranged an appointment: the dog behaviorist, B.,  will come on Friday and will spend at least 2:30 hours with us in order to understand why Orlando eats non-food and, more importantly, how to correct him.

On the phone B. told me that he needs time to observe the dog in the environment where he lives which is understandable. He also told me that it's unlikely that he has an obsessive compulsive disorder as he is too young but -for obvious reasons- we need to stop this behavior as soon as possible. He knows of dogs who swallow more than 100 rocks per day! Orlando can't do it as he is 24/7 supervised but still, he has to stop asap. 

I hope we'll sort things out. B. is also a vet and a dog trainer so I strongly hope that he is the right one to call as we're a bit frustrated.

I'll keep you posted on that!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Eating Stones /Orlando's chronicles

now we're dealing with the "I LOVE stones, let me eat them"!! This is a real issue as is getting hard going out for walks with Orlando who eats small stones at (almost) every step. He is always on leash even in the garden, otherwise he'd have an intestinal blockage from eating: 
  1. little stones
  2. far too much grass
  3. pine needles
  4. leaves
I don't like using the leash in the garden but this is the only way  to deal with "the eating problem". I'm thinking of creating a dog-friendly space in the garden where the only thing to eat is grass. We could mark it off with iron/wood fencing and encourage him to use the area. This is just an idea but I can't come up with something better and he needs to exercise more without getting into troubles. 

I must admit that I am in love with Orlando Furioso. We are in love with this angel/devil and I'm glad that I'm not leaving. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Stay away from the oven!

I'm not leaving as I have a second grade burn on my left arm! I guess I'll stay away from the oven for a long time. I burnt myself with baking pan and had to go to hospital. It was very painful. VERY. Last medication will be on Thursday and the doctor advised me not to go abroad as there is a risk of infections.
Anyway, I'm doing well now but it was a bit a shock.

Sincerely, Philip Roth

(and also: don't miss The Disappeared


Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Story of English in 100 words

Definitely worth reading!

Play biting and more

Orlando is growing up. He sleeps through the night and knows more our habits. He also goes out for walks now but he is still quite scared of cars, other dogs and all the "moves" towards him. I think it's normal though as he's spent 2 weeks and half walking in the house and/or garden only. He needs to adjust to yet another environment which does not seem safe to him: cars, bicycles, noise. He is getting better but needs more time and walks outside. 

He is also improving (with us) as far as play biting is concerned but he behaved really badly with my mum yesterday night. We went out for dinner and he stayed with her. First, he knows her house but doesn't stay there after dinner. Second, he runs and plays a lot while we watch tv and our house is bigger so he runs around etc. To cut it shortly, he played biting with my mum a bit too hard and apparently he was so crazy that it was impossible to stop him (and my mum knows how to deal with dogs). My mum had cuts on her arms and hands and there was even blood on the couch! This is NOT admissible. 

Rough playing is NOT good at all. We're trying to figure out how to stop rough playing. I'm reading this and this morning I took Millan's advice: gently but firmly cup the neck with the hand curved into the "claw" shape that mimics the dog's mouth. Well: it worked! The only issue, as the author points out, is timing "don't overcorrect, don't pinch, don't hold on too long after your puppy has relaxed" because it could be interpreted as a further challenge. I'm still working on the timing issue, but this seems to be the right way to stop Orlando. We'll see.

On a different note, I'll leave on Wednesday. I'm going to Varna (on the Black Sea) and I'll have almost a full day to visit before throwing myself into work. It seems an interesting city, more than I'd thought to be honest. 

Perhaps I'll write from there. 

Buona Domenica