No Rest For The Sick or Weary

Pongo is what we would classify as a “medium energy” Cattle Dog.  He does have an “off” button but sometimes that button gets stuck or just doesn’t work.  And the times when you really need him to lay low, he has other ideas.

I have been sick for the past couple of days and was in no shape to be around other people so I took yesterday and this morning off of work.  Yesterday being a non-daycare day, I knew that it was going to be a crap shoot if Pongo would be able to just settle with me on the couch as I lay like a slug in my sorry state.  Pongo joined me for an hour or so and then started in with his “I’m bored” antics: chasing the cat, wanting outside so he could hopefully stir the pot with the neighbors’ dogs, and running circles around the house with his bully stick in tow hoping to entice me to play.  I dragged myself outside for a couple short spurts of frisbee before needing to lay back down.  It just wasn’t enough for Pongo.  His button was stuck in the “on” position and there was no flipping that switch.

Someone’s not too happy that he has to lay with Mama.


Today, Pongo joined his daycare class late since I took the morning off.  I’m not quite too sure if he had a bunch of pent up energy or just decided to be a total butt head (maybe both?!?) but he sure made himself known in daycare today.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much purple pen marking that middle you’ve-been-bad column!  I’m thankful though that his teachers can be completely honest with us, especially when it comes to unacceptable behavior!

Pongo report cardPongo and I had a heart-to-heart when we got home.  I, stressing how important it is to be nice to your classmates because no one wants to play with someone who is a bully.  Pongo had his own agenda though and I don’t think he was taking our talk too seriously…


Tonight, we’re going to wear his little butt out with some serious mental stimulation in hopes that tomorrow will be a better day for our obstinate little guy!


Pongo’s Penthouse

The doggie daycare Pongo attends, Dog Tired Doggie Daycare, is celebrating the grand-opening of its newly renovated expansion on Monday.  We have all been waiting with bated breath for the renovations to complete so our pups can romp and play in a much larger space.  Along with the new expansion, comes naming the newly created rooms. Kari, the owner, sent out an email to parents today announcing the new room names. Each new room is named after a client of stellar attitude and behavior: Shadow’s Station, Susitna’s Suite and Sparky’s Spot.

Even though we all know Pongo can sometimes have those days of poo and be a grump, especially when Papa leaves for the field, he does have those sweetheart moments and can be such a ladies’ man at daycare.  Steve and I thought it would be very appropriate if an all girls’ room was created, with Pongo as the host.  It can be christened, “Pongo’s Penthouse.”

Pongo giving his new main squeeze, Maggie kisses and a thorough ear cleaning.

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Pongo hanging out froggy-style with his true love, Lhasa.

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Pongo shackin’ up with Olivia.

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Sitting cheek-to-cheek with his girl, Maggie.

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Pongo celebrating Valentine’s Day last year with Lhasa.



Pongo lives for the frisbee.  He loves chasing, leaping, flying, and retrieving that small green disc.  One of the activities we were hoping to do with our Cattle Dog was disc dog. We envisioned Pongo soaring through the air, jumping over our backs in pursuit of that frisbee.  We dreamed he would one day look like this…

5831198271_73f2936e48_bPongo’s able to catch some air and actually looks pretty good.

DSC_0159But, his landings leave something to be desired.  Pongo tends to land vertically, slamming down onto his back legs before the front even touch.


There have been a few times he has landed with a yelp.  We’ve backed off on the high flying frisbee tosses but it seems injury has prevailed.

We knew something was up when Pongo started to refuse to jump up on our bed.  He would stand, staring longingly at the bed.  We would have to lift him up.  And when he did decide to jump, he would look at his back legs after the jump like something funny was going on back there.  There have been times when I’ve tried adjusting Pongo, while he’s laying on my lap, by scooting his back end and out came a yelp.

We took Pongo to the vet, who took x-rays and could only guess that there might be some calcification on a couple of his lower discs but the vet said that was a long-shot guess.  He prescribed some Rimadyl for Pongo, which I gave on occasion when he was going to be busy at daycare.

I wish Pongo could verbalize what hurts and where.  Instead, when I guess things are really hurting, he ends up picking fights with his doggie friends at doggie daycare.  That’s what happened on Thursday.  Miss Peg described his look that afternoon at daycare as “stricken.”  I would totally agree because he came home and crashed on the couch with a look of pure pain.

IMG_1816This boy is breaking my heart.  I don’t like to see him in pain and it worries me to have our 3 1/2 year old boy having back problems already!  On our way out of the daycare door, Miss Lindsay recommended a vet who does chiropractic and acupuncture work on animals, Dr. Palmatier at The Pet Stop.  I called immediately and was able to get him in the next morning (bless them!).

Dr. Palmatier took a look at Pongo’s x-rays, which he agreed didn’t tell us much.  He then did some chiropractic adjustments on Pongo’s back.  Poor Pongo wasn’t too sure about being manipulated like that.  If he only knew what was to come, he probably would have high-tailed it out of there!

The vet suggested that we try something called the Companion Therapy Laser.  It is a laser light that the vet rubs back and forth over the area that is injured.  The effect is much like acupuncture but without the needles.  It is supposed to help promote healing and provide pain relief.  We decided to give it a try because having Pongo pop a bunch of pills to manage his pain is not the avenue we want to be taking.

A small machine was rolled into the exam room, eye protection was handed out to the humans in the room (I think next time I’ll bring Pongo’s doggles), and 8 minutes was set on the timer.  EIGHT MINUTES?!?  You’ve got to be kidding!  Pongo can’t sit still for 2 minutes let alone 8 while someone is messing with him.  But, he was a trooper with Mama’s assistance.

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(Yeah, I know…I’m looking pretty darn sexy in those glasses!)

We have a couple more appointments for Pongo to receive the laser light therapy and get some chiropractic adjustments.  I just hope it helps our graceless but beloved boy!

The Day of Poo

Poor Pongo had such an off day at daycare today.  It was completely unexpected as nothing was out of the ordinary with him this morning.  He went through his usual morning routine: out to potty, in for breakfast, and back to bed until it’s time to go.  I dropped him off at daycare thinking he was pretty happy to be there but I guess I was wrong.

The report card reads: “Oh Mama! I can’t tell a lie.  It was the day of poo.  Just one of those days you realize it happens, don’t have to like it and it stinks.  No, I’m not proud but I am aware of my attitude and it needs a “removal”/flushing.”

I totally appreciate Miss Sue keeping her sense of humor, while having to deal with a cranky, moody Pongo as I know that can be no fun!

Field Trip!

Pongo will be staying with Miss Kari over Spring Break.  To help him ease into staying with Miss Kari and her pack, Miss Kari and Miss Peg graciously took him yesterday to meet her three dogs.  Here’s the email I received from Pongo after his field trip:


Today I went on a field trip with Miss Kari and Miss Peg.  When I left the building I saw your car, but then Miss Kari started to drive and I was confused because you were not there.  Miss Peg told me it was ok because Miss Kari’s car is just like yours.  Our field trip was my chance to visit the two remedial daycare homes where kids who are not so smart spend their days since they can’t go to Dog Tired. 

Our first stop was at Miss Kari’s house where I met Tobe, Abby and Maddie.  I was a very good boy and did not do anything out of line.  I greeted each dog very respectfully, which actually surprised both Miss Kari and Miss Peg.  We investigated each other and made our way around the yard.  Tobe peed on a lot of snow so I followed him around and did it too.  We all went number two and then Miss Kari and Miss Peg decided that it was a great start and we should head out on a good note.  I get to go again later this week to see my new friends once more.  Next time I will meet the cat and see the inside of Miss Kari’s house.

At Miss Peg’s house I didn’t meet any dogs put I did help them move a treadmill into the car so they could transport it to Dog Tired for the staff to use in the break room.  I was a very brave boy because that treadmill was big and mean and scared me a bit.  We arrived back at Dog Tired and I ran into class to tell all my doggie pals about my big adventure.  What a great day!

Love you – PONGO

And here’s Pongo after his field trip adventures…

One worn out boy (who was also being rather bad by making his sleeping nest right on top of Mama’s pillows!).

It’s A Good Thing

My mother-in-law, Bev has a sign that hangs in her house.  It reads: “Martha Stewart Doesn’t Live Here…It’s A Good Thing.”  I chuckle every time I read that sign because both Bev and my Mom are very crafty but not in a Martha Stewart-ish type of way.  I envy the creativity that comes from the brilliant craft minds of these two women.  The quilting and knitting projects they create are beautiful!  And, I definitely could have used their expertise last night when I was cramming in some marathon sewing of Pongo’s Christmas stocking. Nothing like procrastinating until the very last minute to get something done (voting for the holiday stocking contest at Dog Tired Doggie Daycare started today).

I’m no Martha Stewart.  I know she would be appalled at the amount of time I took, all doing and re-doing I had to do, and the choice words that sometimes flew out of my mouth.  Eight hours of non-stop sewing later, I think the end product turned out to be something I can be proud of hanging on our stocking chest of drawers with care (unfortunately, no mantel in this house).

Trying to capture Pongo’s affinity for rocks.

The infamous Pongo ears.

The innocent porcupine Pongo decided to tangle with.

All ready for Santa!


Ever feel like you are the only one in the whole wide world who is experiencing what you are experiencing, even though you logically know you aren’t/can’t be the only one experiencing this?  That’s what it often feels like dealing and working with a reactive dog: everybody else’s dog is well-behaved and can handle being around other dogs.

But maybe that’s because all of us with reactive dogs are doing the late night walks, the walks on the most deserted trails we can find, sticking to playing with the dog out in the backyard because you aren’t in the mood to deal with his/her reactivity, avoiding any situation where you might encounter a dog.  All of this is so very limiting, exhausting, emotionally draining.  It’s frustrating that 99.9% of the people we encounter don’t get to experience the sweetness, the goofiness, the fun-loving dog we get to experience when we are tucked away in his/her safe place: home.  Instead, they get the barking, lunging, Tasmanian Devil on the other end of the leash.

Dog Tired Doggie Daycare sent out an email on Friday about a movement that blossomed from a blog posted on Notes From A Dog Walker.  The writer, Jessica Dolce has hit the nail on the head when she describes in her post My Dog is Friendly! A Public Service Announcement the stress that is caused when people allow their dogs to approach, run up, try to meet a Dog In Need Of Space (DINOS).  She terms these sometimes well-meaning but oblivious dog owners My Dog Is Friendly (MDIF).

We have run into many a MDIF out on the trails or even walking in the neighborhood.  And, what astounds me is when people just don’t get that my dog, Pongo does not want to meet, need to meet, or even like (GASP!) your dog. We try to make it as clear as possible by turning and walking the other direction, and if that doesn’t work we resort to verbal attempts (“Please put your dog on a leash!”); that’s when the judgements come flying and now we’re the bad guys.  It’s not a good feeling.

Click HERE to go to a larger, more readable version.

Created by artist Lili Chan

We were at Denali Park Strip on Saturday to try out Pongo’s new Freedom No-Pull Harness.  As we were getting out of the car, a woman came running up the road with a dog.  Pongo reacted.  She turned around and went down another street.  My first thought was, “Does she know about DINOS?”  Then I wondered, if she was avoiding us because Pongo can look pretty scary when he reacts.  As we walked around the Park Strip, we could catch glimpses of her and her dog running down different streets to avoid us.  It makes me feel better if I make the assumption that she was thankfully giving us space because she knows about DINOS, and not that we were scary.

I am super excited to know that there are others out there.  We can support one another, empathize, and share our stories and tactics for working with a DINOS.  I think what is most important though is Pongo has helped us realized what it is like to own and to love a DINOS.  It’s not an easy job at times but he is so worth it!

A Letter To Miss Sue

Dear Miss Sue,

When I see my Papa’s big red bag packed and sitting by the door, I know what that means: he’s leaving.  I know he always comes back but I just get so sad and crabby knowing he’s going to be away from us, for I don’t know how long.

My Mama knew I might have a hard day at daycare, on Wednesday, when she dropped me off; that’s why she texted Miss Peg to let her know.  But, you had already guessed my Papa was out of town when I started picking fights with my doggie friends and was being an all-around grump.  I may act all tough and rough but if you haven’t already noticed, I am a sensitive soul who wears my heart on my sleeve.

I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me about choices because I knew my doggie daycare day was on the line.  My Mama wants me to behave and will not put up with me being a bully to others, even if my feelings are hurt.  I tried really, really, really hard to pull it together, put my happy face on, and have fun.  I think I did a pretty good job of bucking it up.

I should warn you, Miss Sue and all of my patient and loving daycare teachers…my Papa came home last night but I can hear him and Mama talk about him leaving again on Monday.  I don’t know when Monday is but I’m already worried about it.  I promise though I will try my best to be a very good boy for everyone.  It’s just so hard sometimes…



Fun Police Pongo

I am really dragging my feet writing this post.  I’ve been hemming and hawing on whether I should tell the real story because almost 24 hours later I am still focused on the events of yesterday, or just stick to the “happy” version out of pure embarrassment.  But, this blog is about the trials and tribulations of raising a Cattle Dog so I need to be transparent.

Last year’s Howl-O-Ween party went so well: Pongo was a happy-go-lucky pup running around playing and visiting with all the parents and his doggie friends.  This year I expected the same but I think that was biggest problem–I had expectations.  I was excited because Steve was in town and was going to see Pongo in daycare action for the first time; plus, Pongo’s Howl-O-Ween costume was pretty darn clever, if I don’t say so myself.

Recently Pongo has been receiving a lot of dings for fun policing on his daycare report card.

So, I went with that theme and was able to find a K-9 cop costume that I altered.

We arrived at Dog Tired Doggie Daycare around 2:00.  We put Pongo’s costume on and headed into the building.  First obstacle down-no problem.  We were ushered into the back where the door to his classroom is. The staff member looked in the classroom and gave us the go-ahead.  WAIT!  I thought.  Pongo still has his collar and leash on and we are entering, for all I knew, a classroom full of dogs.  But, did I speak up?  Did I say, “Can we take his collar and leash off before he enters the classroom?”  Nope.  I figured they had a protocol for this special party so I kept quiet.  SHAME ON ME!  I need to advocate for my dog and set him up for success not for failure.

Steve and Pongo enter the classroom first with me following.  There is one dog, one parent, Miss Peg and Miss Kari in the classroom and Pongo has honed in on the one dog.  He starts his barking, lunging, growling routine.  Steve pulls him off to the side and tries to get his attention.  Pongo is having none of that.  Steve was instructed to take his leash off.  As soon as the leash comes off, Pongo goes full throttle for the other dog and a dog brawl ensues.  Thankfully, Miss Lindsay is right there and grabs Pongo.  It’s all over within a couple seconds.

Pongo has gotten in a few fights at school but I’ve never actually seen him in true action.  I’m a mess: shaking and on the verge of tears trying my best to hold it together.  I’m apologizing to the other parent thoroughly embarrassed by our dog’s poor behavior.  She thankfully appears to be understanding.  My greatest fear though is some other parent is going to demand that Pongo be removed from daycare because of his behavior.  What many people who witness this leash reactivity don’t understand is that this is not the only side of Pongo.  He’s 99% sweetness with 1% of pure scrapper attitude on top.

Miss Kari and Miss Peg distract Pongo by taking his picture in front of the Halloween decorations. We take off his costume and collar and off he goes to be with his other doggie friends that have joined the party. We can tell Pongo’s still stressed and is trying to control the situation by barking. One epiphany we had yesterday, through observation, was that there is some protective factor in Pongo’s behavior.  When another dog approached us, he was right there to herd the other dogs away from Steve and me.  A year ago, he was not herding the other dogs away from me.  He was off enjoying himself.

Even though Pongo took his job as Fun Police to the extreme yesterday, he was finally able to settle down and hopefully enjoy himself.

Mr. Crankypants

Really, it was a good plan.  Today was a grading day for teachers, which means no kids.  Which means I could take things a little slower this morning.  I was going to drop Pongo off at daycare and then take Steve’s truck to get an emissions test before heading into work.

Lately, Pongo has been battling getting into the car and into his kennel.  I don’t know what’s going through his mind; he’s done it a thousand times but has decided he doesn’t want to load up.  I was expecting a battle so I was prepared: I had Pongo’s kennel all ready to go in the truck and told him in a happy, excited voice that he was “going to daycare today!”  I took him out to the truck and oh boy was he excited to be getting in-tail wagging, even whining a little!  Who was this dog?!?  I was very confused.  I went with it though.  Usually, he settles in and lays down for the ride to daycare but today he sat up the whole way looking out the window.

Then it hit me.  This was Papa’s truck.  This was the car we took to drop Steve off at the airport. And now, Pongo was anticipating picking Papa up from the airport.  He was going to be sorely disappointed when we pull into the daycare parking lot.

I dropped him off seemingly happy to be at daycare, quickly get the truck’s emission tested, and head to work.  I had settled in for the day and hear my phone buzz with a text message.  I see a message from Miss Peg:

Jen, your boy seems unusually cranky today.  It isn’t a big class and we can manage him.  Just letting you know that if you are doing things after work, a long day might be more than he can handle.

Uh oh.  I had set up our boy for a bad day.  I let Miss Peg know I could come pick him up early if she needed me to but she said that wouldn’t be necessary.  I tried my best to leave work to pick him up early but it just wasn’t happening today-too much going on.  I worried about him all day; just hoping he could hold it together.  And, he did…for the most part…

I sure do hope Steve is able to make that plane out of Dillingham tomorrow afternoon because I’m dealing with a very sensitive soul, who really misses his Papa!