A Thought to a Wish to a Reality

A dog is said to be man’s best friend. Being as that I grew up with family dogs in my 46663_121190114599342_1968942_n.jpgchildhood, I never questioned that statement. I have always loved dogs, however my family always kept small breeds like Pomeranians (to the left you can see my “cooler than you” Pomeranian, Todd.) It’s not that I don’t adore larger dogs and their goofy appearance, I just have never had a large amount of luck with them.

When I was three, our family chow grew tired of me and my antics. She decided that she was going to teach me that she was not a pony, and I was not a cow-girl. She snapped at me and grabbed hold of my face for a split second. She didn’t bite hard. It was merely a warning, however it changed our life with her forever. She was my parent’s baby, but I was their actual baby. While they couldn’t let her around me any longer, they didn’t have the heart to put her down. Nikki sadly lived out the rest of her life looking out of a fence and I was always warned to never go near her.

homeward-bound1When I was around 15 a neighbor and family friend greeted me while I was walking home from the bus stop. I walked in their yard to talk with them. The summer was just beginning so our neighborhood was slowly gaining its summer and weekend residents. This family was one of them. While I was talking to my old friends, I took notice of their sleeping dog that was chained in the yard. I commented on how pretty he was and I learned that Chance from Homeward Bound was his great-uncle! How neat was that? As I said goodbye to continue my walk home I looked over at this relative of Chance and laughed to myself because he really did look just like him. Suddenly the dog bolted up and charged me, slamming his front two paws on my chest and aiming his jaws around my neck. The force of his attack pushed me back and made me fall away from him just enough so that he ran out of length on his chain and it snatched him backward. I laid on the ground covered in scratches that would soon turn to bruises and thought if I had been 6 inches closer, that dog would have had me by the neck.

In July of 2015 my mom and I were at my best friend’s home, trying to assist them during a stressful time in their family. When my friend opened her door, her rottweiler-airedale-chow mix rushed out of the door, grabbing hold of my hand and shaking me around like a rag-doll. I got away from him and was rushed to the hospital. I ended up with seven stitches in my right hand, a two-inch laceration in my pelvic area that they couldn’t stitch and a hole in my thumb on my left hand and a loss of my whole nail. I’m still not too certain where it went. Perhaps he ate it.

Since my last attack, my fear of dogs kicked in. A large dog could so much as bark and I would have a minor panic attack. It left me scarred mentally and physically. I had hoped that my fear would subside as time passed, however it did not. I found myself wanting to get used to being around big dogs again, but I was unsure how to start. Any large dog that walked toward me or looked in my direction sent a chill down my spine.

0aIMAo1Fast forward two years and I am now living on my own with my fiance. He is sensitive to my fears, but he wanted a large dog and thought that maybe it would help me to own one too. I agreed after thinking through my reservations. “If I raise a puppy when it’s small, then I will know their personality and will be okay with it as it gets bigger,” I thought. After talking for some time, I admitted that I have always had a love for huskies. We spent huge amounts of time researching the breed and we decided that she would be right for us and our active lifestyle.

 

 

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Oh Boy, Dirt and Dogs

Cherokee’s first trip to the dog park was certainly one to remember. It was our first trip there as well. All of my past/current other dogs have been small or weren’t a fan other dogs, so we had no reason to take them to the dog park. Cherokee on the other hand is so full of energy, we had find something new for her to do with the exception of walking around the community. She needed the opportunity to really run. It is advised not to let a husky off their leash unless they are in a fence because it’s possible that if they see a small wild animal, they will take off after it and not be able to find their way back because of their high prey drive. We researched different dog parks, but the closest and nicest one to us was Pole Green’s park.
22446803_1651366588248346_1776811824_nWhen we arrived many dogs ran up to the gate, eager to sniff out the newcomer. Cherokee was excited, but also hesitant. Once inside, the other dogs sniffed and licked her, and she sort of backed away and hid behind us. For the next 20 minutes or so we actually contemplated going home because she seemed scared! She stood in a corner by herself and just watched the other dogs. Suddenly a Dalmation puppy that was abo
ut her age and size came in the gate with his owners. He ignored the other sniffing dogs and ran up to Cherokee and they hit it off. They ran back and forth at full speed, kicking up dust and rolling each other. This caused other dogs to join in and within 30 minutes Cherokee was playing, chasing, running and romping all over that dog park. It was shocking to see how fast she really is! It was an eye opener and just solidified the fact that she will always be on a leash outside of a fence because there is no way I could ever catch her if she were to get away from me. She was completely filthy by the way, from rolling in the dirt constantly.. Which brought us to giving her her first bath.

Rokee does NOT enjoy a bath. We learned that she is the biggest drama queen in the world. She can submerge her head in river water and be just fine, swimming and enjoying herself, but if it is nice warm clean water- Forget it.

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Dominance Tips & Training

Dominance can be a huge issue within the husky breed. Naturally, they are pack dogs and establish dominance amongst themselves. Once they view you as part of their pack, they will test their limits with you to try and establish dominance over you as well. You must push back and show that you are their alpha. After much research, we decided to try a few different things with Rokee.

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  1. Never feed them or give them any treat before you eat. The dog should be on a routine feeding. In the morning for breakfast for example- sit down and eat your food and be sure that they can see or watch you eat. If they beg or jump up at you for some of your food, sternly say, “no!” and command them to sit. Once they have calmed down, continue eating. Once you are finished with your food, immediately feed the dog. The same goes for any type of treat. Pretending to eat the treat you are about to give them by just putting it up to your face while they watch will do the same thing. In packs, the alpha is the first to eat. Your dog will soon recognize this pattern and will view you as alpha. Your dog needs to understand that you control their food. You are in control.
  2. This next one was most difficult for us and Cherokee. She has a retractable leash
    22407564_1651361931582145_190543804_n that goes out to 32 feet. She is used to being able to run those 32 feet and would often sit back and wait for us to be 32 feet in front of her so that she could then bolt when she felt the leash reach its limit. She would run to us, then past us for the other 32 feet, giving her a 64 foot run. This would burn a lot of her energy after she would do this quite a few times. We read, however that when a dog is allowed to “lead” you, they are establishing their dominance. The best way to break this is restricting her on the retractable leash so that she can only walk right beside us. She was not a fan of this at all, nor were we since it was twice as hard to burn all the energy that she has built up! We have found alternatives, however such as taking her to the dog park and to our community beach so she can run.
  3.  22447112_1651362014915470_1488303309_nWhile it may be obvious that you control the toys, treat, and food: it is not obvious to your dog. It is said that the husky breed is the only breed that can literally survive without you. You need to show them that you are in control of their things. Never give them a treat or even a toy without something in return. For example, make them sit or lay down or preform any other type of trick before letting them have their toy.

All of these things as I was reading them sounded so cruel to me! I love her and knew she wouldn’t be a fan of any of it, but soon realized that if we didn’t start doing something, she could end up being potentially aggressive as she grows up. We are still in the process of working with her, but she has gotten better! Her tugging and pulling on the leash has lessened. She is getting better about jumping all over you (which we thought was funny at first.) She still is very stubborn when it comes to known commands. She takes your command as a suggestion instead of a command. We are working on it. Silly dog.

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So graceful.

Husky Dominance

Hearing about it on every “what to expect” video or forum, you would think that it would it be something I took seriously. While I did read up on it and all of the tips, it wasn’t something I was truly prepared for. She is only a puppy so I figured she would automatically view us as her “alphas.” Wrong.

Since huskies are pack dogs, and they are the closest relative to the wolf, dominance can

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Rokee & David

be a real issue with them. It was obvious that Cherokee was the alpha with her littermates with the way she acts with her sister, Danica. She enters the room and instantly puts her head on top of Danny’s and Danny bows and allows her to lay her head on her for a few moments as a sign of submission. Once they finish this routine, they’re off to playing. That does not finish the signs that my mom and I have caught on to, however. Rokee eats first, Rokee drinks first, if she wants a toy that Danica has, she has no issue taking it, while if the roles are reversed: Danica will not take a toy from Rokee. Instead, she will lay on the floor and bark at her until she is done playing with it. Cherokee really is a bully! A cute bully… but a bully nonetheless.

 

I feel awful whenever I see Danny waiting to eat

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Danica and a few of her toys!

, drink or play with a toy, but I’ve read that it is natural within the breed, and while it may seem unnatural to us, there is going to be an alpha either way. With that being said, a husky thinking she is alpha over a human is not ok. This can lead to aggressive behavior and issues when they become adults. After seeing some of these signs in Cherokee, we had to stop it immediately.

 

The different training techniques that we used will be in my next post!

September 5th, 2017

Naturally, when we told my mother about our plans to get a husky, she excitedly started researching the breed and decided that she would want one as well. One husky puppy is a commitment. Two just sounds like a crazy mistake. I, however, no longer live with my parents so the dogs would only see each other on occasion. The idea was more acceptable without the thought of two destructive peeing monsters running through mom’s house with all of her glass furniture 24/7.

Our search began within Virginia for two husky sisters. We both decided on females since we figured a male would fight with my mom’s male Pomeranian (pictured earlier) and dominance would be an issue. No one messes with Todd. No one. Plus, I knew what my girl’s name was going to be. Native american culture is fascinating to me and I adore anything to do with it. I myself am mostly Cherokee, and I have always loved the name of my tribe. It’s both beautiful and reminds me of nature and free will. I knew what her name would be as soon as we made up our minds that we were going to get ourselves into this crazy venture. David of course, wasn’t a huge fan of the name, but he quickly came up with a nickname that he found acceptable once he saw my disappointment. “I’ll call her Rokee for short.”

 

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Cherokee (Top left) Danica (Bottom Right)

We found a few puppies scattered around Va, but none that clicked. None of them felt right until a woman contacted us from Tennessee. She sent me a picture of four puppies in a collage and I knew which one would be my Cherokee, and instantly my mom knew which she wanted.

21269831_1617122665006072_1138643024_nThe breeder informed me that she would drive halfway for a 21741693_1626083330776672_1410313777_nsmall fee so our trip wouldn’t be an all day venture (even though it ended up taking all day anyway.) She sent me pictures of the puppies’ parents and we fell in love. That night deposits were put down on the puppies and we set up to meet that next Tuesday.

 

 

Once we saw them for the first time, they were a lot bigger than either of us had anticipated. Turns out husky puppies and Pomeranian puppies are NOT the same size. Shocker. These guys were huge but oh so beautiful. We walked them around for a bit and it was obvious who was the alpha in the pack of puppies. Any guesses? On the way home I researched how to establish dominance early on. It was something that I had looked up before, but I didn’t take the warnings so serious. As I rode in the backseat with the sleeping pups, Rokee snuggled next to me, putting her head on my lap and I melted. 21392559_1620467454671593_1382763011_o