Friday, December 23, 2011

Only Skeletor could be traumatized by a Christmas card

Proving that he has what it takes to remain the biggest wimp on the planet, Skeletor has become traumatized by the photo shoot for our Christmas card this year. 

I'm not sure if it was our goofy hats, the camera flashes, beeps, or the furniture rearranging... but whatever it is, he now associates with my camera. 

It's no exaggeration when I tell you that he now hides and cowers in the bathroom or the nearest accessible dark corner as soon as I turn my camera on. 

Yes, he literally trembles in fear. 
Wowee... Skeletor you're such a pansy! :) 

Strangely enough, his bad doggie tendencies seem to be strong enough to briefly snap him out of the grips of fear. Yesterday, while he was cowering, Mel rang the doorbell and he instantly forgot that he was being scared and ran to the door barking. After a few moments, he went back to being scared again. 

He's definitely got a case of post-traumatic stress disorder. (read more about PTS in dogs here) The strangest things will freak him out. It's nowhere near as bad as it used to be though... you may recall when we first rescued the boy, he'd spend literally all day cowering in the dark hallway. Now-a-days, his wimp attacks usually don't last more than an hour or two. 

I'm happy to report that a while after his fit yesterday, he was playing with his new ball (thanks Mel!) like that mean old camera was never around. 

He has another present waiting in his stocking. Ho ho ho! 

Another bit of good news... we managed to snap some really nice shots the other day before the traumatic holiday photo shoot took place. Mel and I took Skelly out to beautiful Fort Caroline! :)

Enjoy the photos, and have a very very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Can your sanity (or complete lack thereof) be measured by the nicknames you have for your pet?

I remember when I first took Skeletor to dog training and Michael asked me my dog's name. I told him it was Skeletor, and he asked if he had a nickname (something with fewer syllables.) Melanie and I looked at each other and shrugged. We hardly ever call him Skelly in person, even though we use the name online quite often.

Thinking back on that conversation, I realized that I have many, many weird names I call him on a nearly constant basis. I don't use these names when I'm actually calling him mind you, but I say them enough that I'm sure he'd answer to just about any one. (I may have to test that theory)

So, without further ado, the many ridiculous nicknames of Skeletor. If you need me, I'll be getting settled into my straight jacket...

  • Mr. Dog - the most popular by far. I can exactly pinpoint the origin of this nickname. It was when I was 10 years old. My stepdad's friend was visiting. He had a son who was a few years older than me. I remember being taken aback with how juvenile it sounded when the boy referred to a tomcat in our yard as "Mr. Cat." I referred to Insano as Mr. Cat for most of his life, and now Skeletor has become Mr. Dog. 
  • Old Man - He's not really that old.. a young adult or a teenager really. However, his droopy pooch face makes him look like a grandpa. 
  • Pup / Pooch - These ones are pretty standard issue...
  • You Turd - A term of endearment that kinda means the same thing as you brat. I let it slip out on Melanie once and found out that she doesn't appreciate it one bit. 
  • Doggy! - Another popular one. I'm pretty sure this has evolved from the show South Park when Cartman yells "no kitty! that's a bad kitty!"
  • Doggo - This is actually a nickname I created for Sophie when she lived with us. I got a huge kick out of it when she started responding to "Doggo" - her owner Kim, wasn't quite as amused :) Since Sophie isn't around, Skeletor sometimes gets referred to as Doggo. 
  • Buddy / Bud - When he's being good or acting pathetic, he'll get one of these praise-infused nicknames
  • Senior - The origin here... it's kind of a cross between Mr. Dog and Old Man.
  • Mister - Short for Mr. Dog. He gets this a lot when he's misbehaving... ahem... jumping on the couch or bed for example. 
  • Hound - When I was in high school, I thought this word was funny for some unknown reason. Probably for the same reason I think a lot of words of German origin are funny. 
  • Houndo - A cross between Doggo and Hound

So as you can see, I'm a crazy person. Post your bizarre pet nicknames in the comments so we can go to the nut house together!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An oil painting of Skelly and Insano

Never in a million years could I ever get these two animals to pose like this. So, I had to rely on the magic of Brushstrokes by Susan to bring them together!

This painting is a very early Christmas gift from Skeletor and Insano to Mel. :)
It's Skeletor and Insano hanging out in the backyard of our old house.

Here's Skeletor's Christmas card for Mel (created by yours, truly)

I'm working with Susan to help her sell pet portraits through her website. There's very little time left to immortalize your furry friend in your choice of medium. Oils, acrylics, watercolors, Susan does it all!

While I'm working on the website, feel free to email Susan directly at

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A very Skeletor Thanksgiving

I've had more to be thankful for since this wacky pup came into my life. See for yourself!

10. Puppy dog eyes - They help him get his way, while simultaneously warming my heart.

9. Afternoon naps - I have never been much of a napper. However on the rare occasion that I can take one, I really love it! Note: I've been able to take a nap each day for the past 3 days. I think I'm getting old. Old guys rule!

8. Old hats - I never knew what to do with my old hats, until I realized just how much joy they brought to this silly pooch. 

7. Back seat drivers - Though it means my windows are constantly covered in slobber, every time I load this dog into the car, adventure is sure to follow. 

6. Fewer vet visits - Some of those visits were certainly doozies! These days, I'm so happy to report that Skelly is down to just one pill, twice a day. It's great to see him so happy and healthy! Keep it up, bud!

5. Rawhide - I don't like the taste personally, but I certainly get a kick out of watching Skeletor go nuts over it!

4. Dog training - I will admit that I haven't been working with Skelly as much as I should, but he has definitely improved his behavior since attending school. 

3. Pink bandanas - I love the looks I get walking my big manly pit bull around the block while he flaunts his flamboyantly pink bandana! 

2. Skylights - They let in the moonlight so you don't kick the coffee table on the way to the kitchen, and they make for some warm afternoon naps for the pooch. 

1. And the number one thing I'm thankful for this year is everyone! My family, my girlfriend, my newborn niece, my dog, my former cat, my friends, my blog readers, my friends' parents, my friends' children, my clients, and my vendors. You guys and gals simply rock!


Skeletor says goodbye to an old friend (his rope toy, that is!)

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a video worth?

Anyways, take a look at this video, and I'll type some words as well.

The other day, Skeletor was full of youthful vigor and/or angst. He destroyed one of his oldest toys, which was donated by one of his wonderful blog reader friends (Let me know if you recognize it in its current state) and once a very tough green and white rope tied in a knot at both ends. Before that, Mel caught him trying to eat my webcam. I was very lucky because she caught him before he did any damage. *phew!*

I have seen this dog destroy things before, but he's never really been a bad chewer. He did eat part of my brother's leather jacket (sorry, Ian!) He ate a friend's cell phone (sorry, Shawn!) and He has certainly eaten his share of delicious leather belts.

I have known young male dogs in the past, and they were a hundred times more destructive than Skelly has ever been.

Knowing Skeletor, it's probably his way of trying to tell us something. I think I know what that something is. "Hey buddy, I don't have anything yummy to chew on!"

I think I'm going to add rawhide to Skeletor's Christmas list.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Skeletor was not being bad, he was just misunderstood!

I should have known that there was something behind Skelly's recent drastic behavior change. His appetite for couch lounging had increased tenfold. He was so determined to get on the couch, that he bypassed our dog repellants.

I began to wonder if it had something to do with his bed being too old and flattened out. It was indeed starting to look like a giant rectangular pancake!

Mel and I went to walmart to scope out the dog bed scene. His old bed was of very high quality, but the stuffing just wasn't what it used to be. Underneath the bed was nothing but hardwood flooring.

They had some good deals on new beds.. a rather nice one for about $30. However, we decided upon a big bag of pillow stuffing.

I returned home, unzipped the 2 layers of his old dog bed. Tossed the old stuffing, and washed the rest of the bed. An hour or so later, it was all dry. I simply dumped the bag of fluff into the old bed, zipped it up and gave it a good fluffing.

Just $9 later, he's got a bed that for all intents and purposes is BRAND NEW!!!

Lo, and behold.. his attitude has completely changed! He barely bothers getting on the couch anymore. He really seems much happier all around (and lazier I might add :)

Goes to show... often times dogs may seem like they are acting out, but they're just trying to tell you something.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Suddenly those tasty acorns have taken on a sinister persona

A while back, our pal Skeletor had a very, very upset stomach.
We were quite worried when he puked for um... 12 hours straight.

Though we never found out exactly what the little guy had gotten into, we had certainly considered that it could have been from ingesting acorns.

We have a plethora of acorns outside our house. Skelly has been know to snack on them when nobody's looking. I read that acorns are no good for doggies.

About a month ago, we started noticing some noise coming from the back porch area. Melanie pointed out that it was getting worse. At first, I thought it was squirrels running around on the roof. But then I thought to myself... how do squirrels get worse? 

Then it dawned on me... those acorns! The giant trees were dropping them like they were bad habits. The colder it gets, the more frequently they hurl them suckers downward. 

Sadly we have not done much handing out on the back porch, and it's the perfect weather to do so! Melanie's been really busy going to school online to get her master's degree. I've been working my face off trying to rule the world. 

Today, I decided to take a break and get some fresh air. I let my pal, Skeletor tag along. We were only out there for a few seconds when an acorn smashed into the roof. This really scared the crap out of poor Skeletor. It scared him so bad, he lost his footing on the tile floor. After that he was not too interested in the fresh air, so I let him back inside. 

Hours later, I decided to snap a few photos of him in his nifty pink bandana. (I bought the pink bandana for "Race for the Cure" which Mel and I participated in last week.)

Wouldn't you know it, this vicious pit bull is still shaken up from the acorn incident! Oh, the poor little guy! Here's a video

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Skeletor's oh, so clever methods of always getting his way

Always the innovator, our pal Skeletor never ceases to amaze. On the surface, he's a drooling, clumsy, mouth-breathing goof. Upon closer inspection, you'll notice that he may be smarter than he lets on.

Skeletor is totally convinced that he's human, so it's only natural that he love, love, LOVES the couch! This is one of the few "no dogs allowed" zones in our house. Skeletor objects to this rule. Any time we're not paying attention, he's there. Sometimes he'll hop up there while I'm staring right at him. Usually he's more tactful though.

Usually when he's lounging about on the couch, he automatically slinks off the second one of us enters the room. Clearly he knows he's not allowed on the couch, but remains fundamentally opposed to the idea. As a deterrent, we have to put the lid of a giant plastic bin on the couch when we're not using it.

First, you should know that he's managed attain the freedom to roam the house at night instead of being confined to his kennel. Of course, you give him an inch, and he's going for the mile. Just being allowed free reign of the house, wasn't enough. Skelly then charmed his way into our bedroom where he would sleep next to the bed.

It's amazing what he can get away with thanks to those good looks!

Well, being very light sleepers, Mel and I quickly grew weary of Skelly's incessant night noises.

  • 12:15am: Skeletor decides to shake it off. His lips flap and clap about like the loud and sudden shuffling of cards. 
  • 12:47am: Skeletor locates a very tasty part of his body, and begins a 10 minute licking session.
  • 1:12am: Skeletor imagines he has peanut butter stuck to the roof of his mouth, and tries to lick it off. 
  • 2:24am: Skeletor in deep slumber, begins to snore like a couple of lumberjacks sawing down a tree. 
  • 4:01am: Skeletor decides to go for a drink in the kitchen. His nails tap tap tap the whole way there and back. 
  • 4:04am: Before curling back up, Skeletor feels the urge to shake it off once more. Que the veritable orchestra of lips slapping against each other. :)
  • 4:49am: More licking
  • 5:39am: Even more licking
  • 7:00am: Alarm goes off... people must get up and go to work, while Skeletor gets to continue his slumber.  

Needless to say, we decided he should stay out of the room, at least on work nights!

So, the other night, the new rule went into effect. Skeletor was exiled from the bedroom and was limited to the entire house for his nocturnal adventures.

I heard what sounded like skeletor pulling the bin lid off the couch and curling right up. I thought to myself, "no way he just did that." and I drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, I felt well-rested. When I entered the living room, my suspicions were confirmed. There he was curled up in the cushiony fruits of his diabolical labor.

Well, as my ability to out-smart this pup wanes, I can take solace in the fact that soon, he'll be smart enough to hold down a job and start to contribute around here!

Have a great week!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sketch of skelly

"ok I am layin' down.. Gimme the biscuit already!"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dropping of skeletor for an echocardiogram

Hoping for great news!

Update: well, not exactly great news, but not bad news. There is a very slight improvement in his heart. However there is also some scar tissue on one of his valves that they find odd. The poor little guy will always have a bad heart (as we know and today's visit reaffirms.)

He is to stay on vetmedin probably for the rest of his life.

Go figure. Oh well, at least he is happy and relatively healthy :) go skelly!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Skeletor looks funny with no collar

Last night, he had some kind of itchy ear and kept making all sorts of jingling and jangling. I decided to take his collar off and now he is quiet as a ninja.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Long awaited update: dieting, playfulness, cooler weather

Well well well... where to begin.

I guess I'll pick up after my last post. I'm sorry it was so long ago. I've been extremely busy with work lately!

Last I posted, Skeletor was having quite a problem with coughing. His x-ray had not improved since he was all heartworm infested. This was certainly not great news for us.

After about a week on a whole host of various medications, the boy started to feel better. I was able to take him off the cough suppressants well before they ran out.

He had some minor issues with fleas and tapeworms. (which go hand-in-hand since animals contract tapeworms by eating fleas)

The fleas issue was one that we shared. I woke up one morning with tiny bites all over my arm. Wow... it had been quite a while since I was bitten by fleas... they make mosquito bites seem like gentle kisses in terms of discomfort and itchiness!!! No wonder poor Skelly has been so miserable with these critters chompin' on his flesh!

We tried some over the counter drops on his back. These did little to nothing. Fortunately, the doc sold us a drug called Comfortis, which fleas seem to really hate.

So, a few weeks ago, Mel and I started to notice that our pal Skelly was really starting to pack on the pounds. After some consideration, we realized that we were feeding him 3 times a day instead of twice as recommended by the dog food bag.

Something else we noticed was that we seemed to have synchronized eating schedules with him. His food and water are near the table. Whenever we sat down to eat, Skeletor would want to join us. We would just give him a cup of food without thinking twice about it.

It had gotten to the point where he wouldn't even eat his food unless we were sitting at the table.

At first, he was not pleased with his new feeding regiment. He would flip out when we were having lunch without him. He would demand seconds after gobbling up his breakfast and dinner. He would push buttons like crazy (his nose is his tool for pushing buttons. He has been known to nudge people for pets, turn on and off xbox consoles, knock over food containers, push empty bowls across the floor, etc) to indicate that he wanted more food!

After he settled into the diet a little, he became a much more frisky fellow. We did not realize how subtly lethargic and lazy he had become until he reverted to his playful former self.

Lately he has been going crazy entertaining himself. He has dragged every single toy from his toy box. I'm talking everything from favorite new toys to the old toys that he's had since we rescued him that he has never paid attention to for more than 2 seconds. He is suddenly so much more energetic and interested in just about everything!

I have always known that overfeeding your animals was not a good thing to do, but I had no idea what a positive effect a little fitness could have on a pooch.  I guess they are no different than people in that respect. (and so many others!)

So, as you can see, Skeletor is doing VERY WELL!!

He has not been doing much coughing at all. He's been really spry and energetic. His appetite is off the charts!! When we feed him now, he woofs it down and is demanding more before the food even lands in the bowl.

Today, I realized that he's quite a fan of carrots! Now there's a nice dog treat that won't tip the scales. :)

After the bad news x-ray we had in July, I decided to post-pone his echocardiogram for about a month to give his condition a chance to improve. His echo is scheduled for this month (the 22nd I think).

We're hoping that his energy levels are an indication that his heart and lungs have shown signs of improvement! The summer is FINALLY breaking here in north Florida, and holy crap are we all sick of the heat! Skeletor is surely going to enjoy the fall activities we have in store for him :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Skeletor is going on a doggy diet

After many months of scamming extra meals, this puffy pooch needs to shed a few pounds.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Skelly is not out of the woods yet :(

X-ray reveals no lung improvement. Coughing worse than ever. Details to follow...

Update: Well everything was going great for a while.

Skeletor went into the Vet for his vaccinations on Thursday. I mentioned when I dropped him off that we were out of Vetmedin (which was the only drug he was taking, aside from the occasional Viagra that I was able to administer.)

I wasn't sure if he was supposed to keep taking it or not at this point. I was hoping since he had been doing so well that he may be ready to start weening off. (It's over $80/bottle!)

Melanie picked him up that afternoon and I forgot to tell her anything about the Vetmedin.

Long story short, we were all out and the weekend was upon us. We would have to wait until Monday to get another bottle.

Now, it's unclear if the lack of medication was a factor or not, but Saturday night he just started coughing. Coughing, coughing and coughing. He has always had a little bit of a cough... but this was the worst Mel and I had ever seen it.

The fits were measured in minutes, not seconds. He would cough and cough until he hacked, and sometimes vomited... then cough some more.  I had some leftover Tussigon that was prescribed before when his coughing was really bad. I gave him a pill. He wretched it up a few minutes later along with his food :(

The next day, his condition had not improved. He was not lethargic. His appetite seemed normal. It's just that he could hardly stand up without inciting a coughing fit. We tried not to excite him. We did online research. We wondered what we could possibly do for him!

This morning, Melanie took him back to see Dr. Chick. They performed an x-ray and compared it to one from a year ago. His lungs and heart didn't look any better on the x-ray. :( Both organs are still functioning on an impaired level.

The vet has always been very clear about the fact that the damage to his cardiovascular system was most likely permanent. However, it was a sad truth that I had optimistically pushed to the back of my mind. It was easy to do when he was going months at a time without any bad symptoms or complications.

Now he's back on a whole host of medications! He's on antibiotics to clear up any possible infection in his lungs. We've got more Tussigon for his coughing. He's got another bottle of Vetmedin. He's on another pill called Furosemide which is prescribed to reduce water retention.

The poor guy has to take over 10 pills a day. I sure hope they work. He certainly doesn't mind as long as we don't run out of pill pockets!

It's not all doom and gloom of course! His appetite remains strong. He's not showing signs of lethargy (when he's not zonked out on cough suppressants that is!) And he's not showing any indication of the dreaded anemia that he's battled with so often in the past.

He's so strong and happy that it's easy to forget how close to death this dog has been. Every so often, he'll give us a scare and we're reminded just how fragile Skeletor's life really is.

As I write this, Skelly is snoring peacefully behind my chair on his comfy bed.
Hang in there, bud!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Local dog has owners worried sick over unexplained vomiting

The other day Skeletor was chomping gingerly on a giant butcher's bone that I picked up at the grocery store. He was one happy pup! He wasn't allowed to chew on the bone in the house, because of the mess it'd make, but that didn't bother him one bit. He was more than happy out on the back porch, just chewing to his heart's content.

Later on that day, Mel and I were minding our own business around the house, and heard a loud splash coming from the other room. Much to our horror, there was a HUGE pool of yellow liquid about 2-3 feet in diameter right in the middle of the wood floored living room. I had to use a towel to clean it up.

Apparently, Skeletor had just finished drinking a lot of water, and something in his stomach wasn't agreeing with him.

Thus began a horrible evening to say the least...

Something was definitely wrong with Skelly's tummy. He was puking constantly for the rest of the night. He was soooo very pathetic, and not feeling good at all. Mel and I were both ready to join him in puking after having cleaned up so much of it!

We were worried that he may have been poisoned or something. We spent the evening doing research online, investigating the house, cleaning up vomit, hypothesizing, worrying, cleaning up vomit, trying to get him to eat, cleaning up vomit, worrying... well you get the idea.

Finally around 1am, we decided to try and sleep. We left the bedroom door open so Skeletor could sleep on the floor beside the bed. The ice maker would make a noise, and we'd think it was poor Skeletor puking again. He would lick his lips and I'd say to myself... "better get the towel!"

Needless to say, it was a miserable night for all 3 of us. Very little sleep was had. The good news is that Skeletor made it through the night without puking. We sincerely hoped that he'd be back to normal the next day. If not, I was going to have to take him to an emergency vet that was open on saturday. Uh... gee I'm sure that would cost a pretty penny!

Skeletor was still very lethargic. He was not interested in food at all. Mel managed to get him to eat some bread soaked in water. His stomach rejected it just a few minutes later.

What could he have gotten into!? I think we have oak trees outside. I've seen him eat acorns in the past. I read that they are toxic to dogs... but how could he have eaten enough to make him so sick!?

His early payloads contained many small fragments of the bone he was chomping on. Was the bone to blame for making him sick? Was the marrow too rich?

Did he munch on a neighbor's grass that had been treated with chemicals?

Fortunately, I had recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Sophie O'Neill, owner of Molasses Junction Mobile Vet. I decided that I had better call her. Dr. Sophie asked me a few general questions about Skeletor. She said that if he had a bone or obstruction lodged in his throat, his vomiting would be constant as opposed to only when he eats or drinks.

She said that we should not worry about getting him to eat, but try and introduce a little bit of water over time. She said that it's likely that he ate something that he wasn't supposed to. His body's natural reaction is to empty his stomach. She said that when a dog is sick, he'll know better than to eat because he doesn't want to keep throwing up.

She also said that if his condition got any worse, to call her up and she'd come by our house and take a look at him.

We were so very grateful for Dr. Sophie's advice! She really put our minds at ease. We cancelled our plans to go kayaking that day, and we kicked back and watched a movie while keeping an eye on our sick friend.

That afternoon, Skeletor started feeling better. HIS APPETITE HAD RETURNED! He was wagging his tail and getting back to his chipper self!


Since his recovery, Skeletor has been doing very well. We never figured out exactly what he had eaten, but we sure hope he learned his lesson. We're so glad that he's better!

Thanks again to Dr. Sophie! She's an excellent Veterinarian! If you live in Jacksonville, I would highly recommend you count on her to care for your pet. Call Molasses Junction Mobile Veterinary Services at 904-315-5070.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Skelly and his old pal, Insano

Old "Friends"

Last week, my brother Ian dropped off Insano for a few days while he went out of town. Insano, at eleven years of age, is quite the strange old curmudgeon. While he is still the affectionate little (and somewhat fatter) furry menace we've grown to know and love, Insano appears to have become more nocturnal than ever before. At first, I thought he was just being reclusive. He would find a hiding spot (usually in a closet) and hang out all day long.

Who invited HIM!?!?

In his younger years, he would become extremely lazy and reclusive when he was sick. However, once the evening rolled around, Insano would come into the living room and socialize. He would insist upon pets and chatter up a storm like the spry young fellow he once was.

A I organized the closet, Insano found a new spot to hang all day.

Another trait he has retained is his sheer bad-assedness. He was terrorizing Skeletor on a semi-regular basis. For no apparent reason, Insano would just walk up to Skelly and attack. Skeletor was very, very nervous about this.

Oh great... he's behind me, isn't he!?

Usually Skeletor avoided Insano's wrath at all costs. If Insano was near a doorway, Skeletor did not dare pass through. If Insano walked into a room, Skeletor walked out. Sometimes, Skeletor would climb into corners and behind furniture in an attempt to "turn invisible." He reminded me of a scared little kid.. he'd put his nose in the corner as though the danger couldn't see him as long as he couldn't see the danger.

I have to admit, the tactic did seem to work. Insano didn't attack while Skeletor was "invisible."

I've since seen Skeletor use the same tactic during a thunderstorm. Did I mention that Skelly does NOT like thunderstorms? Oh yeah.. he's petrified of them!

He trembles and cowers throughout the entire duration. It's so pathetic! We give him plenty of reassurance and sometimes let him hang out in his crate where he feels extra safe.

I'm such a mean old, vicious pit bull!

It was nice hanging out with my dear old friend, Insano. I gotta tell ya... cats are WAY messier than dogs! At least way messier than this distinguished gentleman. We've swept the room where the kitty litter box was at least 4 times and still get leavins stuck to our bare feet. The clumps of cat hair are still gliding across the floor from time to time.

Bobble head!

I used to believe that common misconception that cats were "lower maintenance" and required "less attention" than dogs. If you'd prefer to channel the energy spent on leisurely walks around the neighborhood and giving belly rubs to extremely grateful recipients into sweeping up cat litter and picking up warm hairballs, I suppose it's true. However, in my experience, a well-trained dog practically takes care of himself! :)

Skelly's Bloggin' Mommy

Now that school's out, Skeletor's lovely mother, Melanie has had plenty of time to relax and take up a new hobby. She has started a blog that she'll use as a creative outlet and a teaching tool. She just wrote a nifty post about Skeletor's doggy training and points out some parallels that she noticed between the classroom and the training ground.

Check out Habitual Learner and tell her Skeletor sent ya!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Skelly is adjusting nicely to his new home!

Well, we no longer have a fenced back yard, but we're making it work! We live in a smaller neighborhood that's more centrally located in Jacksonville. Skelly is slowly getting better about calming down so I can put his collar on to go outside.

He really loves his "number two" walks around the neighborhood. He has been doing a great job at obedience training every Thursday.

Skeletor isn't a huge fan of the hardwood floors, but he doesn't mind so much as long as he's got his ole comfy bed and a sun-filled skylight...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blast from the past

I was just bored looking around on youtube, and watched this relic...

It's amazing how far he's come. Funny how his bark used to be so high pitched...
He's got an echocardiogram coming up in July. We'll see exactly how his heart and lungs are recovering from those nasty parasites!

I expect that the news will be good! The other day, I took the boy for a walk and he insisted that we run instead! He's doing fantastically!

Another bit of good news.. he's officially (and hopefully permanently) off of the enalapril. I believe that was his blood pressure medication. The cardiologist suggested that he discontinue taking it 2 months after his treatment.

He's nearly completely weened off the prednisone as well. So far, he's still taking the vetmedin, and would be taking viagra if we had any.

Hopefully one day soon, all he will require is food, water, and love!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

We're going to sign our lease today!

I'm pleased to announce that we've found a home to rent!

A nice lady is going to rent us her 3/2 house. The location is good. The price is reasonable!
She is ok with the fact that we have a Staffordshire Terrier ;)

We're going to sign the lease today at 6! Thanks to everybody for your helpful suggestions and unwavering support.

Skeletor is one lucky pup to have so many great peeps looking out for him!

In related news, I took the boy out on the leash today. He did very well with his training exercises. It was a bit hot out, so we stayed under the shade in the front yard.

Right now, we're focusing on "heel" and some other basic commands that he already knows. We're having to teach him slightly different words for them, and we're doing away with the hand gestures.

He did a really great job on the leash. Such a sharp lad, and a fast learner!

Keep up the good work, Skelly!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bath time!

Dog training is messy business. Especially when skeletor decides to roll around in the dirt!

We're pleased to announce that the boy is all fresh and clean again! He's rockin some super soft fur to boot!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Skeletor officially begins obedience training

Well, this is it folks!
This is the month where it all goes down. We're going to find our new home, move into it, settle in and enjoy a huge sigh of relief when all is said and done!

In an effort to hone Skeletor's social skills, I invited my friend, Jared and his female pit bull, Shay over for a BBQ on Friday. Shay likes to play, but she isn't into too much drama. She's 8 years old, and enjoys a more chilled atmosphere.

I imagined that Skeletor would be thrilled (which he was) to meet Shay. I hoped that they would hit it off, and run around in the backyard while we enjoyed a relaxing BBQ (which is not exactly how it went down!)

As we all know, Skelly loves to yell at people, dogs, cats, and just about anything else he encounters in public. He does so in a playful fashion, with his tail-a-waggin! Despite his good intentions, his craziness is not always welcome.

So Shay comes in and Skeletor is thrilled! They give each other some initial smell tests, and everything seems ok. Skeletor is just so darn excited, he starts giving shay the flea-nibbles. Shay, understandably confused, tries to get away from him. Skeletor, ridiculously excited, persists to try and nibble on her face.

Shay eventually got fed up and gave a menacing growl. I had to take Skeletor out to the back yard in hopes that he would settle down.

Throughout the course of the night, we let the dogs interact. Eventually Shay would just try and get out of Skeletor's reach and Skelly would yell and pitch a fit because he wanted to play.

Now Skeletor... you are just acting too creepy! Women are NOT into that. You need to play it cool my boy! 

Despite my disappointment in his behavior, neither pup was injured, and I think Skeletor did show a little bit of improvement by the end of the night.

We have got work to do, that's for sure! Skeletor needs to be cool and collected in a social environment if he is to overcome the pit bull stigma!! We're going to need Skelly's help in appealing to potential new land lords and ladies... it's time he really learns some manners!

I wake up bright and early the next morning (Saturday) and load Skelly into the car. We're off to a local dog training club for a free evaluation / training session.

I pull up to the closed gate. Skeletor sees a dog. He starts barking at the top of his lungs. I can literally feel the barks vibrating my ear drums due to the confines of my car... Keep it down doggie!!

I meet Michael, the co-owner of the club. I tell him about Skeletor's history and why it's important for him to gain social skills. I explain to Michael that pulling on the leash is one of Skeletor's biggest problems.

A few other dog owners show up. Most of them have German Shephards. There's also what appeared to be a Belgian Malinois, and a Boxer.

The exercises began as the more experienced dogs performed two at a time. One dog's owner would take him into the shade and tell him to lie down. That well trained pup would lie there unrestrained the entire time while the second dog would perform his training exercises. Then they would switch.

These talented pups would walk on a lead without any pulling whatsoever. They would look to their owner upon command. They would sit automatically when the owner stopped walking. They would pivot when their owner turned. It was exciting to imagine Skeletor learning to behave so well!

I sat in a plastic chair with Skeletor on a leash. He would yell and pull when a person or dog came close to us. After a while, he finally started to get the hint. He started barking and pulling a little less.

Michael took some time to work directly with Skeletor. He said that he believed that Skeletor could be trained, and that the question was whether or not I could be trained! He said that what they do is teach owners how to train dogs. I told him that I was up to the challenge!

Michael also explained that his training philosophy uses positive reinforcement. He said that corrections are only made when needed. I have made a lot of progress with Skeletor, and I can assure you that based on my experience, positive reinforcement is the way to go!

I'm planning on returning next Saturday morning for another session. After that, Skeletor will go to 6 group training sessions every Thursday.

I think we're going to see a total transformation here, folks! Skeletor is going to be one well-behaved, and socially adjusted pup!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy as a ham!

Just as happy as a ham, Skelly's spirits are high in the days following his castration.

Next week, I think he'll be ready to meet his new lady friend! My buddy Jared is the proud owner of Shay. She is a fellow pit bull, and an absolutely sweet pup. She loves to play and meet new friends. Hopefully she and Jared can come visit next week! Stay tuned for doggie antics :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Completely unaware of the impending castration

Skeletor isn't allowed to eat this morning. We are about to load up and head to the vet!

Update: We dropped the boy off with Dr. Chick. They are going to hook him up to an EKG, examine his echocardiogram results, insert a catheter, and take extra special care to make sure all goes well.

*gulp!* sounds like it's going to be expensive!

Update: Skeletor did it! His good pal, Claudia up at San Juan sent me this photo haha! He's just waking up :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Attn: Jacksonville property managers and owners

I thought I'd try casting a net in hopes of doubling up our efforts...

Please send this link to your property owning buddies in Jacksonville, FL :)

Skeletor is scheduled to be neutered!

I would like to thank you all for your feedback, input, and suggestions regarding the challenge of finding a pit-bull friendly home to rent. We have not yet found one, but we are looking and there is hope!

It's become obvious that we can absolutely NOT rent an apartment. Large complexes have racist, breed-specific rules and they make no exceptions! With apartment complexes out of the question, we'll have to expand our coverage area and look for situations where we can appeal directly to the property owner. (houses, townhouses, and maybe condos)

Lately, Mel and I have been taking Skeletor on more regular walks around the neighborhood. Skeletor gets very, very excited when it's time for a walk. Once we get outside, he gets rather preoccupied! He forgets every command he ever learned. He is completely driven by the urge to smell things. Anything and everything must be smelled! 

Hmmm... Skeletor is usually a joy to train.. and I've been wracking my brain. Why does he have such a mental block when it comes to walking on the leash? Then it hit me... all those dog scents must be causing him to go mad with hormones! 

That brings me to our decision that it's time to have Skelly neutered. (Not that we had not planned on doing it since day one, as it's definitely the right thing to do!) We were waiting until his heartworm treatment was done with. We were hoping to have the procedure done when it presented minimal risk to his well-being.

Dr. Chick says that he's been doing fine, and that he is now willing to perform the castration. Skeletor is scheduled this Friday! Dr. Chick also said that they want to take extra precautions with Skelly, as he is a special case. They are going to put a catheter in, and take a second look at his echocardiogram results before performing the procedure.

Some landlords and property managers require a pet application and/or a pet interview. I'm hoping that the castration will help Skeletor with his manners. The more well-behaved he is during the "pet interview," the better our chances of finding a new place to live!