I’m really a cat-person. Honest.

So here’s the thing: I’m actually a cat-person (…”whereas “cat people” tend to be more neurotic but “open,” which means creative, philosophical, or nontraditional”).

I have had cats, and only cats, all my life. And for a good portion of my life I was either afraid of dogs, or disliked them, or both.

Growing up, one of our neighbors had a German Shepard named “Grunt”, who was trained as the watchdog for a gas station. Of course I was afraid of him–we all were. In 3rd grade, there was a dog who would sometimes corner me on the way home from the bus stop–growling and snarling if I moved. He not only scared the snot out of me, but I also got in trouble for being late coming home until one of my older sisters finally confirmed my story. Then there was the high school classmate’s older dog who bit me in the face when I was 16. It actually required a few stitches and if you look closely, you can see the tiny scar just above my lip.

All of those experiences meant that I was pretty adadment that I never wanted to own a dog, and didn’t want to be friends with any dogs.

Plus, I love cats — we always had cats growing up. There was Jessica, a beautiful long-haired cat who looked like a cross between a Main Coon and a Persian and was shy and sweet. Clyde was a sleek black cat who was named after my then-favorite hoops player, Walt Frazier. Max was a black and white cat I adopted from my high school basketball coach. Fred was a tabby I adopted while in college – his claim to fame is that he used to visit Nancy Hogshead whenever he escaped from our room. I’m pretty sure she let him play with her gold medals. Nemo was an orange Persian I bought from a breeder when I lived in Germany.  The only purebred cat I ever owned, Nemo died very young from some congenital illness (I never quite got the German-English translation, but I think it was a form of feline AIDs.)  After Nemo’s death, I adopted Amos – a gorgeous cat with an all-black coat except for one small spot of white on his chest. Amos had a deformed left hip, so he happily thumped along on 3 legs his whole life. Lizzy was a sweet tabby who kept Amos company, and liked to sleep in the crib with my infant daughter (once I realized how much this troubled my then mother-in-law, I actively encouraged this behavior).  My final cat was Sumesa, a super-sweet Calico whose name was given to her by my then 4-year old daughter.

See ... he is part cat

All of this is to say that I’m really a cat person. We got Jiffy because my wife wanted a dog, and the plan was to get a dog first for her, then a cat for me. I had no plans to become particularly attached to this dog (or any dog). I planned to tolerate him, and hope that  the cat would like him. Jiffy had other plans, and has clearly won me over. I suspect it is because he is part cat. At any rate, I hope you will forgive my obsessive affection for this little doggy on the basis of it being so unexpected and everything.

And we might still get a cat … I think Jiffy might like the company.

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The Holidays with Jiffy

Jiffy with his stocking on Christmas morning

I’m having a very hard time getting back into work mode after being on vacation since December 15; so I may as well give in and blog. Jiffy loved having us home so much during the holidays, and did really well with guests. In fact, he won over my mom pretty quickly — which is pretty remarkable considering she is definitely a “cat-person” who generally does not much care for dogs. But, as she says, Jiffy clearly has a little bit of cat in his genetic make-up.
We are a little worried about how he will do this week, as he has to get used to being alone in the house again while we are at work. To be honest, I think we are both also worried how we will do being away from him all day! I know I certainly thought about bringing him in to the office with me – but he needs to get that “peeing on the carpet” thing under control before that’s a real possibility.
At any rate, the little guy really enjoyed the holidays and all the attention. He liked the presents too:

Jiffy opening his Christmas present

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Training with the Jiffster

I know it is hard to believe, but the J-Dog is not exactly perfect. He had some house-training set-backs while we were away (despite the best efforts of our Awesome Dogsitters). So we are working on potty-training, meaning we say things like “Go Potty” and “Good Go Potty” while out with him. It also means we have to use a baby gate to confine him to the kitchen and laundry room while we are at work. And because the little guy is an exceptional jumper, we got an extra sturdy and extra tall one.

JIffy in solitary confinement

We are also working with the amazing Cecilia of Canine Higher Learning on other issues — jumping on people, getting over excited by other dogs, dragging our shoes around the house, etc. Jiffy is brilliant, of course, so the training is going quickly and well. My favorite this week is “Down” — in 2 days he has mastered the art of lying down for a treat. Good doggie!

Waiting for treat for executing a perfect "Down!"

We are also starting Canine Middle School at A Dog’s Life next week. Apparently, the training is for us as well as for Jiffy, since he is excused from the first day of class.

Please feel free to share your dog-training success stories, as well as any particularly interesting training challenges.

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Jiffy’s first hike

I took Jiffy for his first hike today at Alamaden Quicksilver County Park. All the trails there are open to dogs on leash, and are very well-marked. I packed up some treats and water for us both, and off we went.

Hiking with Jiffy

About 20 yards from the trailhead, Jiffy decided to stop to poop. Being the good citizen that I am, that means I got to tote a baggy of dog poop in my backpack for the rest of the hike. Thanks Jiff!

Once we got that out of the way, we hiked for about an hour before stopping for lunch:

Lunch with Jiffy on the Hacienda Trail

We hiked back the way we came, for a total hike of about 2 hours. I figured that was probably long enough for his first hike; but I do hope to take him on longer hikes eventually. Jiffy had a great time, and was pretty well-behaved when we passed other hikers, mountain-bikers, and/or dogs. I was especially impressed by how calm he was watching two beautiful horses trot by.

By the time we got back to the car, he was exhausted and slept all the way home:

Jiffy, after the hike

I picked several ticks off him during and after the hike, and drowned another couple when I gave him his first bath after we got home. I had to use the tweezers and a death-grip on him to get the final tick off of a spot near his ‘nads. We’re treating him with Frontline, so I suppose I could have left it on him and let it die; but that just didn’t seem right.

Any advice from those of you who hike with your dogs on dealing with ticks would be greatly appreciated …

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Awesome dog-sitters

We left Jiffy for the first time last week when we went to Connecticut for Thanksgiving. I’ve been away for a few days for work since we adopted him, but this was the first time we were both gone. He seems to be catching on to what the suitcase means:

I crawl in here and I get to go with you, right?

Frankly, we were a little worried about how he would do while we were away. But, we are very fortunate to have had two amazing dog-sitters to take care of him. We live in a duplex, and our upstairs neighbors offered to watch Jiffy for the first few days–which Jiffy loved, because these neighbors are the owners of Jiffy’s best friend Teddy. So Jiffy got to hang out in his own space during the day, and got to have several sleep-overs with his pal Teddy at night.
For the second half of the week, one of our dear friends (who calls herself Jiffy’s Auntie) came and stayed at our house with Jiffy. She took great care of Jiffy, and even knew that we were missing him so much that we needed a picture:

Undercover Jiffy

Jiffy was pretty darn happy when I got home, but I’m certain he was well cared for while we were away.

Oh, and the neighbors who took care of him for the first few days? They also left a delicious homemade pumpkin cheesecake for us in the refrigerator. How’s that for awesome?

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Sharing … Jiffy style

“I have a really cool purple bone. It makes loud squeaky noises when I chew it!”

“Do you want to play with it too?”

*Yep, this post (like so many others) is really just an excuse to share cute photos of the J-Dog.

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A dog and his frog

Not that he’s spoiled or anything, but Jiffy has lots of toys available to him. We bought several kinds of toys on Day 1, plus dog-owning friends donated toys that had been rejected by their dogs. Favorites seem to be those toys that make some kind of noise when he chews on them and/or toys that he can run around the house with. Dead fallen palm tree leaves are also quite appealing, the bigger the better. But today’s toy of choice seems to be his squeaky frog.
Jiffy with his frog

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