Friday, October 9, 2009

Hold the Mustard

Bye Mustard
Auf wiener-sehen!

After 5 weeks of fun and turbulence with Mustard, we've given up on the little guy and returned him to the Mutt Hutt.

Mustard was my first experience of having a dog off a leash in an unfenced area and at my heels where ever I turned. He was a crowd pleaser and always rolled on his back when a dog or human walked near him. When he was off-leash outside, he looked like the happiest little thing in the world where nothing could poop on his parade. That was the fun part.

The not so fun times quickly engulfed the good...

When we received him, he had a persistent cough that wasn't actively treated. There was some speculation that he had kennel cough. We were quite concerned, watching over Akemi to see if she would develop a cough since she was never administered a bordetella vaccine, as we were advised against having it by our veterinarian if she wasn't going to be boarded.

From day one, he piddled every time he was let out of his crate and urinated on the carpet and bed, even 30 minutes after being taken outside. The only place we have carpeting is a strip under our computer chairs, and he always picked my chair.

We bought a lot of toys in an attempt to avoid the two fighting over toys. We were concerned that Akemi would feel that he was intruding on her turf. Unfortunately, it was the other way around. Any time Akemi picked up a toy, Mustard would drop the toy he was playing with, snarl at her, and take her toy away. The ferocity tapered as time passed and it became a friendly tug-o-war competition.

In hindsight, scolding Mustard when he did bad things netted the best result. It kept him at baseline, but his behavior did not improve. We also learned how protective Akemi was over Mustard. When he was scolded, she would run from any part of the house and come between us and him.

When we tried rewarding him for better behavior and scolding him for bad behavior, he reacted poorly to discipline. If we picked him up prior to being scolded after he did something bad, he would scream. If he wasn't being scolded and picked up the same way, he would react indifferently.

This confirmed to us that he knew the difference between bad and good behavior. Our initial thought was that he was just an honestly dumb dog.

We removed the discipline component by ignoring his bad behavior and rewarding good behavior, which began the quick spiral downward to unacceptable behavior.

Mustard would swallow his treat and take Akemi's treats from her mouth. We were already separating the two dogs during mealtime, where Mustard would eat in the crate and Akemi would eat outside. He would whine after he scarfed his food down and saw that Akemi was leisurely eating her food. If we let him out, he would eat all of her food. The treats were administered separately with one dog caged. Mustard would cry from inside his crate watching Akemi savoring her treat. It was too much drama, so we ceased giving them treats.

Our first day at the dog park was embarrassing. We found out Mustard still had issues sharing. When one of the labrador retrievers ran with a stick with other dogs in tow, Mustard screamed and lunged at the dog. He did the same thing to two other dogs as they ran with the stick. He also scratched a little girl, who was standing in front of us, unprovoked. We left before things escalated.

The next day, we returned to the dog park. A different group of dogs were there. Mustard began screaming and attacked one of the dogs unprovoked. We left the dog park immediately.

Late that evening, Bug noticed a tuft of fur in Mustard's mouth. Puzzled, he kept an eye and observed that Mustard was pulling clumps of fur from Akemi's backside. For whatever reason, Akemi did not react.

This was the last straw. Bug was getting rid of Mustard ASAP.

Before we informed Mutt Hutt our intentions of returning Mustard, Bug received a call the next morning to drop Mustard off. An accusatory conversation took place with Rebecca regarding a conversation on UTIs with our neighbor the night before. Bug wanted to quickly be rid of the dog, so he ignored her instead of arguing.

I hope Mustard is able to find a home. He would be better off where he:
- can be kept outside so he can pee anywhere to his heart's content
- is the only pet so he doesn't go into a jealous rage over food or toys
- isn't scolded
- can be pampered, since he is an extremely needy dog.

On a positive note, we better appreciate Akemi's charming and aloof nature. She appears not to be affected by Mustard's absence. It was worth the $200 "rental" fee to see how Akemi would react to another dog in the household. We've decided that our next dog will be another shiba puppy.

- Cassaendra

2 deep thoughts:

Arm70 12 October, 2009 09:30  

Awww...I know that's gotta be hard on you guys. But you did try. Don't feel too bad girl.

SicklyBug and Cassaendra 12 October, 2009 18:50  

Hi Aimee,

Thanks...we still feel crummy about it. We don't like to give up... :(

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