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“If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you machine wash us, do we not shred?” (The Merchant of Venice and his Dog: Act 3, Scene 1.)

Tug toys are people, too!

The latest cartoon from our litter-mate blog, Sleeping between Giants.

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ask-a-terrier-main-pic-w-bookshelfUsing sharp teeth and claws, Budleigh unravels the Great Philosophical Question!

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Finally, dogs will like you!

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If you, like Bob Cratchit, were making rather merry on Christmas day, you maybe missed this bit of cheer on my Sleeping between Giants blog.

Sleeping between Giants explores life, if you could call it that, with a terrier.

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By Dave Jaffe

Dogs and shoes can live together in harmony provided both are willing to compromise. To reach an accord, dogs have to be trained to respect shoes, while shoes must agree to limit all provocative missile test launches over disputed borders.

While seasoned diplomats attend to the latter, let’s explore the former.

Positive reinforcement training combines praise and treats to reward behavior, a method that has proved effective on canines and, to a lesser extent, millennials.

A testament to positive reinforcement is Jake, sent in by owner Debra R. Observe Jake (left) with a “stolen” shoe, and Jake (right) after six months of training. Note on the right his contrition, repentance, and smoldering regret. Also the smaller shoe. Well done, Jake!

A testament to positive reinforcement is Jake, sent in by owner Debra R. Observe Jake (left) with a “stolen” shoe, and Jake (right) after six months of training. Note on the right his contrition, repentance, and smoldering regret. Also the smaller shoe. Well done, Jake!

Using positive reinforcement, for example, a dog would be compensated little by little for not engaging in inappropriate activities, a process trainers describes as “shaping” and law enforcement calls “extortion.”

GIANT 2: “Dave, Budleigh’s getting near your shoes!”

GIANT 1: “Good! Got the cookies ready?”

GIANT 2: “And the cheese bits. And the tuna.”

GIANT 1: “OK. Don’t react until he looks at me.”

BUDLEIGH: “Saaay, nice pair of loafers ya’ got here. Really nice! Too bad if something happened to ‘em. Know what I mean?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you! Like I was sayin’, sad if something happened to them shoes. Or this house. Or maybe your family. That would be a damn shame, wouldn’t it?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you!”

GIANT 1: “He’s looking at me! Give him a treat! Give him a treat!”

GIANT 2: “Gooooood Budleigh! Smart Budleigh!”

BUDLEIGH: “Thanks. Tasty! Very tasty! Sorta like, ya’ know, this genuine EYE-talian leather over here.”

GIANT 1: “Give him another! Give him another!”

GIANT 2: “Here, Budleigh! What a gooood dog!”

BUDLEIGH: “That’s better. You’re both good kids. We’re gonna get along just fine. So I’ll see you same time tomorrow, right?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you!”

While positive reinforcement training is valuable in controlling shoe-chewing behavior and organized crime, also essential is to provide your dog a variety of chewing alternatives. Numerous products are available, some rugged and durable, others as vulnerable as a swimmer bleeding in shark-infested waters.

Whether made of hard rubber, nylon or plastic, no chew toy is indestructible, with the exception of those constructed of Indestructibilium™, an element lost when the planet Krypton exploded. Frequent inspection of such toys for excessive wear and sharp edges is mandatory. Those that are ragged or jagged should be taken away from the dog, easily done by distracting him with a pair of shoes.

Short, thick lengths of rope with heavy, intricate knots tied at either end are a favorite chew toy of dogs and sailors everywhere. Rope toys also serve as doggie dental floss, cleaning teeth of bits of hard rubber, nylon, plastic and Indestructibilium™.

Finally, rawhide chews made from cow or horse hides have long proved satisfying for dogs. The same is true of bully sticks, which are made from the pizzle or penis of a bull. Let me just repeat that last part. They’re made. From the pizzle. Or Penis. Of. A bull!

I thought it best to emphasis this before you and your dog picnic on a ranch near a corral enclosing a bull that seems, well, angrier than usual.

Next: Ask a terrier, if you think it will do any good.
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This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants“, an ongoing series featured on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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By Dave Jaffe

Any dog serving prison time for chewing shoes will eagerly admit that socks served as a gateway drug. And that he’s a Good Boy!

Budleigh steals socks. That isn’t his fault. We Giants failed him. As did society. And the apparel industry. He no longer chews them as he did during his house-pet-in-training probationary apprenticeship. Just, ya’ know, sort of steals them. For the kicks, man! The thrill! School is for squares, daddio!

Unlike Budleigh, Brisby eschews socks and shoes in favor of his pile of bones. Oddly, we only bought him two of those, but Uncle Max has been missing for weeks. Hmmm…

Unlike Budleigh, Brisby eschews socks and shoes in favor of his pile of bones. Oddly, we only bought him two of those, but Uncle Max has been missing for weeks. Hmmm…

That Budleigh has moved from indiscriminate vandal to cunning thief is a victory rooted in dedicated training and drastically lowered expectations. No champion sought here. Just a pet that will reliably follow these basic rules:

1. Don’t eat things that make you dead
2. Think before you bite me
3. Get off the everything
4. Rest and drink plenty of fluids
5. Vote

Unless your dog has strong political leanings, Rule 1 is probably the most important. Clearly, it’s the most important to veterinarians whose examination rooms display colorful posters of frolicking puppies and giggling children beneath the headline, “Six Common Household Items That Will Kill Your Dog. Also Everyone Who Knows Your Dog.”

Next to that hang posters featuring different dogs and children – survivors, presumably – that read, “Wait! Did We Mention These Four Other Items?” and “Oops! Just Remembered Two More. Sorry!”

Dire warnings like these worry pets, which leads to intense dog park discussions. Also, anxious chewing.

GERMAN SHEPHERD: “…and the next morning when they checked the car, there was a hook in the door!”

LABRADOR RETRIEVER: (Gently) “Maybe this is too scary for…you know…everyone. (Nods toward wide-eyed Maltese.) Say, how ‘bout that brushing? Isn’t brushing great?”

MALTESE: “Did they chew the hook?”

TERRIER MUTT: “You can’t chew hooks! Well, I can. But it would kill the rest of you.”

PUG: “Wait! You’ve chewed a hook?”

TERRIER MUTT: “Sure! Plenty of ‘em. I chewed one today after I threw up breakfast.”

LABRADOR RETRIEVER: “…’cause I’m really soft, but when she brushes me I get even softer. So then I bring her the brush – I can do that, you know – and she says I’m a Good—ˮ

MALTESE: “What about a brush? You ever chew a brush?”

TERRIER MUTT: “Yeah! Lots of times. And plenty more stuff when I was little.”

PUG: “And nobody stopped you?”

TERRIER MUTT: “Well, I was in a shelter.”

All go quiet for several minutes.

BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG: “Once I chewed a mountain.”

PUG: “You did? A mountain?”

BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG: “So I’ve been told.”

BULL DOG: “Anyone ever chew up one of those round things?”

GERMAN SHEPHERD: ‘Which round thing?”

BULL DOG: “Oh, you know. The round things where they yell at you, then get all worried and call that place with the scary posters? And then they rush you there in the car?”

GERMAN SHEPHERD: “The one with a hook in the door?”

Clearly, overcoming a dog’s passion to chew is no easy task. However, both dog and owner can enjoy measurable success through the application of some simple, safe and humane training tactics developed by the United States Navy SEAL Team Interrogation Unit.

Next: Positive reinforcement or “They made me a criminal!”
###

This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants“, an ongoing series featured on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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By Dave Jaffe

Dogs use their teeth to explore the world much the way we use the Internet. A dog’s mouth and tongue serve as router and modem, while its excretory system works like Comcast.

Whether having teeth leads to chewing or chewing is the outcome of having teeth is a “chicken or the egg” paradox, although dogs will eat both so why are we even debating? Let’s instead focus on the reasons dogs chew my shoes and socks and, to a lesser extent, yours.

Chewing is a perfectly normal canine behavior. In fact, the word canine is Latin for “He ruined what?” Puppies and young dogs might chew to relieve teething pain. Older dogs chew to combat boredom, ease anxiety, or reduce frustration. Some chew simply as a way to prop up the international leather trade. Whatever the cause, to correct an inappropriate chewing behavior, the thoughtful canine owner must first ask, “He ruined what?”

Who chewed the shoes? Can you solve this Minute Mystery? For the answer, turn to page 159.

Who chewed the shoes? Can you solve this Minute Mystery? For the answer, turn to page 159.

So, what is “inappropriate” for dogs to chew? This varies from dog to dog depending on their size, age, and the dietary restrictions of their religion. However, generally banned items include:

• Shoes, socks
• Children
• The military
• Another shoe and sock, damn it!
• (For large dogs) aircraft engine parts before, during flight
• (For small dogs) large dogs
• Six of the current associate justices of the Supreme Court
• Cash, bonds
• Oh, for God’s sake! Another shoe and sock?

Some dogs can quickly learn to avoid forbidden items with just a bit of guidance, a few treats, and an instructional PowerPoint presentation. However, most dogs know exactly what they’re doing when, say, they chew up $75.85 in uncashed checks, as was the case with our formerly alive terrier thing, Oxford.

Giant 2 still insists it was a coincidence that Oxford ravaged four checks taken from four locations over five weeks. It’s was all just paper to him, she says. He didn’t know any better. He was just a dog!

No, he was a terrier. Some dogs track explosives. Others uncover drug caches. Terriers foment crime. Of course Oxford knew that checks were valuable. Dogs have a surprisingly keen understanding of the Federal Reserve. Also their own sophisticated monetary system based on tennis balls. But Oxford wasn’t after the money. His was a mission to corrupt young Brisby, the schnoodle who can do no wrong.

OXFORD: “Hey, kid. C’mere!”

BRISBY: “But I’m on my way to church, Oxford.”

OXFORD: “Sure, sure. You want ta’ see something?”

BRISBY: “I’m supposed to light candles!”

OXFORD: “Yeah, that can wait. (Noses envelope off desk.) Ever see one of these?”

BRISBY: “Is it a cookie?”

OXFORD: “That’s right, a cookie. But you gotta open it, first. Go on, open it!”

BRISBY: “Okay, Oxford! What’s ‘open?’”

OXFORD: “Oh, for… Gimme that!” (He shreds.)

BRISBY: “I have to go now or I’ll miss hymn howling.”

OXFORD: “Too late, kid. You’re in this as deep as me.”

BRISBY: “Do I still get a cookie?”

Next: Wait! Weren’t we talking about shoes and socks?

###

This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants“, an ongoing series featured on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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