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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My daughter was volunteering at a local shelter in November of 2016 on a Saturday. Carlos was a new inmate, and my daughter entered his cage that morning. For the rest of her shift, Carlos sat in her lap. When she left him, he cried. The next day, after much pleading from my daughter, my wife and I came to the shelter to meet this Carlos of hers. It was the most incredible dog meeting I've ever had. I entered his kennel and sat; Carlos immediately came up body wagging and wrapped his arms over my shoulders and buried his head into my chest. I sat there for about 30 minutes seeing a level of affection I've never seen from a dog. Not dog affection, like face licking and jumping all over me uncontrollably, but cuddles... hugs... a deep desperate need for human contact, but calm. I'd never heard of a xolo before. I'd seen funny videos of the chinese crested, but never knew the xolo was even a thing. I was hooked.

I read the information sheet on his kennel door. Born... 4 year to the day he came into the shelter (Friday), so it was obvious the age was a guess on the staffs part. The tag, unfortunately, also had the little "Heartworm positive" sticker on it. "That's going to be a lot of work" I thought to myself as I listened to Carlos quietly whimper to me since I was then outside his kennel door, and he was again alone. I didn't have a dog at the time, but I did have a cat. A longtime people oriented Siamese velcro house cat that I KNEW would be an issue.

But this felt like fate. Or could it be fatal attraction? I adopted Carlos. This is him on the ride home from the shelter:
carlos5.jpg

To be continued:
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So my primary concern going home was the cat. We stopped at the pet store on the way home and purchased a second litter box, a dog crate, a gate for the upstairs stairway that only the cat could fit through, as well as dog food, toys, kongs (Kongs are awesome, btw) and... all the fun stuff you go crazy with when you get a new dog :D. Carlos was quarantined to my daughters bedroom while the gate was installed on the stairs, the secondary litter box was setup upstairs, the crate setup downstairs in the living room, etc...

Scarlett (The Siamese) was then placed upstairs and given some love for a bit. Then, Carlos was released downstairs to do what he does. :doh:

....

Right off the bat, Scarlett meowed. Carlos's ears perked, pointed... and he was at the gate looking at Scarlett within a split second. His jaws were snapping with prey drive stress at 100 bpm as he assessed the gate (which was 5 ft tall). After a momentary whine... BOING! Over the gate and like a bullet, up the stairs.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No worries here, the cat had retreated to the innards of the couch upstairs lightning fast. Carlos was attempting to dig his way through the floor to get behind/under the couch to reach his prey. "Well, that went well?" I quipped.

Thus began the saga of Carlos and Scarlett; frienemies for life.

I'm a DIY kind of guy, and I don't like to think there's anything that can be accomplished that I can't accomplish given I set my mind to it, so I set my mind to making this situation work.

Unfortunately I had started with only one problem, but now I had two. Carlos was apparently an extreme prey driven dog that viewed cats as prey. Scarlett came from a breeder with dogs, and before this, didn't really fear dogs. Well, that changed right then and there. Dog fear +100 for Scarlett.

I removed Carlos from upstairs... which was followed by extreme teeth gnashing and obsession with the fact that Scarlett existed and was IN the house. He was again quarantined to my daughters room, but still obsessed. Crazy obsessed. I hit google hard looking for solutions.

Google, as usual, gave the standard... let them smell each other for X time through a door.. etc.. solution, followed by "Sometimes it's just not possible, the dog is too prey driven" line. Well, it seemed to me based on Carlos's reaction to Scarlett, he was about as prey driven as they come. So, apparently it's just not possible. I would try anyway.

I tried the smell thing, quarantining Scarlett to my bedroom (which is downstairs) for a week and letting the dog have the run of the rest of the house (minus upstairs which I had planned out as a Kitty safety zone eventually). But then, during that week, there's other issues to talk about before I continue with the cat problems. So, to keep the timeline intact, I'll come back to this.

Separation anxiety. Oh My GOD!

to be continued:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I promise, I'll return to the timeline, but today was an interesting day for Carlos and I and I feel a drive to talk about.

My wife is studying for a certification, and this morning, she suggested Carlos and I go on an adventure to give her time alone to study. We went to a national forest. I live for days like today, and so does Carlos.

It's hunting season here, and though I've done a lot of hunting in my time, I HATE hunting season these days. I guess it's no different than dog owners learning to dislike dog owners overtime. The irresponsible, ignorant and empathy devoid bad apples of the hunting community have turned me sour over the years. But I digress. Bright orange and crossed fingers for me and Carlos today.

Carlos and I are of one mind when we're in the woods alone. We complete each other. We tune into each other more then than at any other time. It's exhilarating for both of us, I think. As if we are super powered together. There's a primal satisfaction when I quietly whisper "Carlos" and he turns his eyes to mine intensely to understand what it is I've derived from our environment; or when Carlos stops and perks his ears in a direction, then glances at me knowingly. A brotherhood. A primal instinct in not just the dog, but in me.

I'd have never spotted the huge wild boar 30 yards into the dense woods had it not been for Carlos. He gave me the "ears and the wink" I'll call it. Silent communication. I knelt down beside him and peered where he peered. We didn't make a sound, and I spotted movement through the brush. Boar. BIG boar. It moved, Carlos tensed.

"Leave it" I whispered. I hated telling him this to be honest. I felt his passion. His drive eating at every fiber of his being. I envisioned the two of us corralling the boar into a trap, killing it in bloody triumph and then spending the night by a campfire eating pork on a spit! Then the boar caught wind of us and bolted, Carlos howled and took chase... right up to the end of his leash. He fought and pulled and yowled and whined, I commanded "Leave it" and "Heal". After about 10 seconds of agony, he complied. He came back to my side, then barked at the boar as it ran away. He marked the nearest bush.. then some grass... then another bush raking his back legs in triumph. I felt like I ripped us off. Such is modern life, I told him. Get used to it buddy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So, separation anxiety:

Carlos is my 7th dog, and I've never owned more than one at a time. Until Carlos, crating a dog was just not even a thing I'd ever thought about. Probably because Carlos was the first dog i've had that didn't live primarily outdoors. The idea of crating bothered me, but my wife convinced me to crate as part of the adoption agreement between us. She's very protective of her house. The first day he needed to be alone, I convinced her to try it once without the crate. We were only going to be gone for an hour max. As we backed out of the drive in the car, we could hear his horrible crying through both the walls and the car windows. I had to wonder if we'd return to a police filled house from a neighbor assuming we were torturing our dog.

We returned maybe 30 minutes later to find the bottom of the front door, the wooden floor and trim underneath it... torn to shreds. Carlos, for 30 minutes, tried to dig his way out the front door to get to us.

Ok, so the crate thing. I decided to try it out.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, by this time we'd already had him a dog bed, food, and water all in a crate as his "home comfort" location; so all the training you read about getting a dog to like his/her crate was unnecessary. He still whined when we left him, but upon return nothing was destroyed and he'd be resting comfortably in his crate. The crate seemed to be working, but for me I just felt bad about caging him in for hours like that. And besides that, whether he liked his crate or not, he still threw a fit anytime we left the house. The sound of car keys being picked up was automatic freakout for Carlos.

I set my mind to solving the problem of getting Carlos out of the crate and unstressed when left alone. First, I had some fun though. I wanted to see just how bad he was, you know, so we could laugh at how cute he is ripping our door down because he loves us so much? My wife and I were apparently bored that day, OK?

We grabbed the car keys and pretended to walk out the front door and leave, but actually just walked out the front door and then stopped to listen and observe Carlos's anxiety.

Nothing.... a few minutes rolled by, and still not a peep from this dog who had never watched us walk out the door without raising the most heart wrenching y owls and cries known to mankind. Just silence. We opened the door back up, expecting to see Carlos waiting for us with a full body wag, but he was not there. We make our way to the kitchen to discover Carlos sitting on the counter with his head buried in the box of leftover McDonalds fries we'd left there since lunch. The little bastard had just been waiting for the opportunity! But you know, maybe we deserved it for attempting to toy with his emotions?

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, the fries gave me an idea. For the rest of that weekend, we repeatedly grabbed keys and left him alone in the house for a short time. Each time we did it, I'd put a little bit of kibble in a kong with a hint of peanut butter and say "I'll be back!" just before dropping the kong and heading out the door. I've taught him a lot of commands over the years, but this one is by far the most useful. The only time he's crated now is if we're in a motel or visiting relatives and need to leave him in a strange place alone. Even then, he gets a kong and an "I'll be back". Today, if I grab my car keys, he will look at me expectantly. If I say "let's go" he zoomies to the door thrilled. If I say "I'll be back" he stays right where he is calmly as I walk out the door. I don't even need to give him a kong anymore, and if I do (and this is the surprise) he won't touch it until I get back. He'll leave it right where I placed it. When I return, he'll run up body wagging to say hello, then proudly grab his kong sit in his bed and chow down. It's like he doesn't feel like the command is complete until I return. I didn't train this part, he just decided that's the way it should be on his own.

Anyway, I've not had a single problem crating him OR leaving him at home uncrated alone since... except once. But it was a special circumstance, and I've learned my lesson.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My daughter started college this year. We packed all her stuff up and drove to my parents house, who were out of town but lived only 45 minutes from the University. We unloaded all of my daughters boxes into the house and stayed the night. The next morning we packed her boxes back up into the car, crated Carlos, gave him a kong and an "I'll be back" and walked out the door.

Nope. He wasn't having it. We'd stayed at my parents many a weekend with Carlos before then, and not once did we pack up the car before leaving and NOT take Carlos and NOT go home. He had observed us packing and loading the car and was fully convinced at this point that we were going home without him. Unacceptable. We had no choice, we drove away listening to the most heart wrenching cries. He's crated. He'll eventually settle, right? Wrong.

We return about 4 hours later to hear yowling and scratching at the front door. The crate? Open. The carpet at the front door? Destroyed. Carlos? Very happy to see us. I have no idea how he managed to open his crate. It's got a lift latch in addition to bars that must be slid out of the way. I played with the crate door, yanked it... pushed and pulled it hard. It will not open unless you raise the latch and slide the bars. Only explanation? He raised the latch and slid the freak'n bars?

Lesson? Next time we need to pack before leaving Carlos behind, do NOT let him see us pack. Also, put a lock on the crate.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So, back to the cat problem. The week of smell each other through the door passed and we fixed the gate on the stairway to the upstairs to be insurmountable for Carlos. We repeated our initial introduction, only this time Carlos couldn't jump the gate. The week of smelling each other did absolutely nothing. The gate worked though. Carlos got the shakes, whines and teeth jitters at the sight of her. Scarlett learned to recognize Carlos's patterns and would sneak and dash to the laundry room or my daughters room from the upstairs on occasion, but for the most part she just started living upstairs and avoiding Carlos at all costs. Shortly after I thought I'd try to get Carlos familiar with the upstairs to see if it helped his gate obsession. I removed Scarlett to a bedroom and invited him upstairs. Results? For the first times since we'd known Carlos he peed in the house. Right on Scarletts kitty tower upstairs, actually.

So... Scarlett will not come within sight of Carlos on her own terms, and if Carlos even hears Scarlett he goes full on crazy mode.

It was during these first few weeks I'd also been working on teaching Carlos to walk on a leash properly. On day one he could do absolutely nothing right. He pulled, tried to chase cars, went Cujo at bicycles, lunged uncontrollably at other dogs, stopped to sniff anything he wanted and ignored me while sniffing, tried to eat all geese AND geese poop encountered. He was a holy terror on a leash and he had the same reaction to geese as he did to Scarlett. Long story short, it took me about 3 days to get an initial seed of cure for all these leash problems and about 2 months or more to more or less fully cure him. But I digress, it's the geese that are important at this point in his story. I posted about it in another thread earlier here, but in short summary I used a very brave goose beside the sidewalk to cure Carlos of 100% of his prey drive towards geese. This gave me the idea of using my dads incredibly brave tomcat to do the same training for cats. It worked.

But it still didn't completely solve my cat problem; it's still a problem to this day. Everyday it's a smaller problem than the day before, but it's been near 2 years of baby step progress.

Carlos, within a few weeks of having him, was no longer an issue. His side of the equation was solved, he completely ignores Scarlett and has for years now. The problem has been getting Scarlett to realize that he's not a threat. Cats, what can you do? I'm learning that the best answer to that question is absolutely nothing. Seriously, the more you "do" the worse the cat gets. The less you do, the better.

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Anyway, for about a month after Carlos was cured I "set my mind" to curing Scarlett of her fear of Carlos. Hindsight? I should have left it alone as is.

Dumb idea number one: Force them to be in the same room together until Scarlett gets over herself. I can imagine Carlos rolling his eyes at me during this dumb idea. In my defense, I put a cat tree in the room with the three of us so she could feel safe! She didn't feel safe. The 3 of us spent 2 hours in that room with dog and cat treats. Scarlett did nothing but hiss from her tree and refuse all treats, Carlos probably got fatter that day. For two days after Scarlett refused to come out from under her couch upstairs except presumably to eat or relieve herself in secret. This idea had a negative result.

All my other dumb ideas were in the same vein as this one with similar results. In the end, the best idea I had was to give up and do nothing more. Scarlett had the upstairs, Carlos the downstairs. That's just the way it must be, I told myself. So, I gave up. Best thing I could have done all along.

But man that's a hard solution. I felt bad for Scarlett. She was my velcro kitty before Carlos and she had been reduced to an upstairs inmate who gets regular visits. Carlos had replaced her as my velcro pet. I'm a terrible person!

But Scarlett is a pretty sharp kitty. Over the years she's learned ALL the patterns. When Carlos sleeps, she knows it. When he eats, she knows it. When he's on a walk, she knows it. She is more aware of what Carlos is doing than he is half the time. Her confidence came little by little. It started with exploiting the night while he sleeps to run around the entire house free. Then she started coming out and meowing to whoever was in the house the instant he walked outside to play or go on a walk. Then she began confidently sitting on the stairs behind the gate even if Carlos was just on the other side. Then she started seeing my daughters bed as "safe" even if Carlos was running around on the floor beside it. This is over years, mind you. Years of adjustment for her.

Where is she today? If she detects Carlos is asleep in my lap in the living room, she'll come into the living room and sit in my wife's lap... for as long as he doesn't get out of my lap. The moment he moves to get out of my lap, she's a bullet to the stairway. Carlos just yawns and rolls his eyes. The key here is that every positive step she's made has been completely on her terms, not mine. You can't push a cat do any damned thing! If i'd realized that from the beginning (Well, that and the fact that Carlos can scale tall building in a single leap) the two might not be such frenimies today.



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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So, I finally got through the cat story. That was more work than I thought it'd be to put that in print. I'm going to change this up a bit now and just try to talk about Carlos as he relates to what is typically described as the Xolo breed. If anyone wants to asks questions or yell at me for being stupid, I'd welcome it.

The Xolo is described as a primitive breed that originated in Mexico 1000's of years ago and is thought to have had very little human intervention in its evolution. It's said to have been used for hunting, eating (yes, as a food item), healing, companionship, guardian (both in life AND the afterlife) and sacrificial animal (see guardian in the afterlife). Apparently the breed was nearly extinct in the 1950's but has since made somewhat of a comeback as the National dog of Mexico.

The common personality descriptions for Xolo in a nutshell: Intelligent, primitive (stubborn, willful, will take advantage of it's humans if it can), highly sensitive, extremely alert, capable of both high energy and calm, very affectionate to the pack but aloof towards strangers.

if I had to pick one Xolo trait for Carlos that stands out the most versus any other dog I've owned, it would be that he's highly sensitive. If Carlos is any representation of the breed then a fate worse than death for a Xolo would be to get adopted by a family or couple that fight or yell a lot. Actually, it wouldn't be because the intelligence of the Xolo combined with its sensitivity would mean that couple or family wouldn't own the dog for long. It would escape and never come back.

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So, how sensitive is Carlos? What IS sensitivity? If you lose your temper he will let you know with a very deep soul searching peer into your eyes. Miss it or ignore it and he will leave the room. I'm not talking about losing your temper at Carlos either. I'm not even really talking about losing your temper. The smallest tiniest thing. Paper cut make you cuss? Carlos is aware of your emotional stumble and you'll immediately calm down and assure him with your best baby talk that the world is not coming to an end. Have a volatile family member visiting that goes off the chains? You'll find Carlos in the furthest corner of the house. Watch an emotional tear jerker? Carlos will be whimpering in your arms with his head buried in your chest. You cannot be anything but calm and collected without eliciting an immediate reminder from Carlos that you're being emotional, whatever that emotion is.

My wife and I are not fighters. If we do fight it's just me getting a silent passive aggressive torrent of bad vibes from my wife's general appearance and trying to solve the riddle of what's gone wrong. We get along pretty good. But we do like to snipe each other for fun. Carlos is now our snipe deterrent though. He's like a little aggression reminder alarm.

Wife: Can you PLEASE do the dishes?
Me: Oh for God's sakes, I'm busy! I'll do them later!
Carlos: Soul drill eyes.
Me: It's ok buddy. :( - I mean.. rrr.. yes sweety, I'll do them as soon as I finish this.
Wife: You're just going to forget!
Carlos: Soul drill eyes.
Wife: It's ok buddy. :( - I mean, Ok honey... please don't forget, ok?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Here's something not necessarily on all the Xolo personality descriptions, but I've found it on many generic "Primitive Dog" descriptions. Aggression towards other dogs.

Is Carlos "dog aggressive"? Yes and no.
- Pass a dog on a sidewalk with safe space between you, will he attack or growl? Depends entirely on what the other dog does. If the other dog ignores him, he'll ignore the other dog. If the other dog whines to say hi, Carlos will whine to say hi. Allow then to say hi? After a few goes at this, I simply don't allow it. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it doesn't. I'll cover the why of it at the end of this post. If the other dog growls or lunges, it's on like donkey kong and I have to go defcon 6 on the "leave it!". Has he gotten better over time? Yes.. he's getting better at trusting that when I say "leave it" it's in his best interest to "Leave it". But he's got a chip on his shoulder when a dog lunges at him and it's hard to get rid of it.

- Put Carlos in a yard with one or more new dogs, what do you get? Well, if the other dogs ignore him, you get Carlos ignoring the other dogs outside keeping an eye on their locations and activities. If one of those dogs approaches politely, then it gets a bit tense. Carlos requires order. Period. End of story. Maybe had we got him as a puppy you could have trained this out of him, but I kind of doubt it. He will always try for the top position in a meeting. If the other dog immediately submits, all is well. They're friends for life. If the other dog has even an inkling notion that he's in charge between the two, it's going to get nasty for a minute. It will start with the rolling up of Carlos's lips. If the other dog submits, friends. No? Growl time. Submits? Friends. No? Full on lunging attack. Runs and stays away? Good, but not friends yet. Fights back? About 5 seconds of fight to see who gets top position. If he loses, friends and submissive to the other dog. If he wins? Demands respect, but friends. Every time. I will never allow him to meet another dog that isn't submissive and/or an even match. He'd get himself killed. He'd never kill another dog, mind you. He's not trying to hurt the other dog, he's trying to win a pissing contest to establish order.

- Puppies and impolite dogs. Beware. Ever seen an adult dog shut a puppy down by grabbing the puppy by the muzzle and holding it's mouth shut? Carlos did that. We were visiting my sister-in-law and she had a new puppy. The puppy was just a bundle of "play with me" jumping and barking and licking furry. Carlos was a champ for about 5 minutes of it, as I was all over him telling him to behave. He broke though. He grabbed the puppy by the muzzle, held it there for about 3 seconds.. then let it go. The puppy ran off yelping. The puppy had zero injury, but did have the bejeezies scared out of him. The puppy was incredibly polite to Carlos from then to now and they've never had another issue.

All that said, it's very "wolf" like behavior on his part. He's not a dog that's been bread for aggression, but he's also not a dog that's had it all bread out of him. He's a dog of the "old ways". For me, if another dog isn't the dog of a family member or close friend, I'm not willing to go through the stress and possible litigations involved in a dog greeting. So yeah, not a dog to take to the dog park. Ever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Ok, for my next Carlos post I'll cover the "extremely alert" Xolo trait as he does or does not embody it.

He embodies the crap out of it. Carlos misses NOTHING. It's hard to put into words without eliciting the whole "well all dogs are alert" thing. I've had many dogs, and yes, they were all alert. But not even remotely like this. Carlos knows every sound and activity in the house down to the most finite detail. Carlos knows where and what everybody in the house is doing at all times. Change the tire on your car? Carlos knows every step you did to accomplish the task because he watched every single step as if it were the most serious business on the planet. Carlos rarely barks, but he's alert to everything. When he does bark, something extremely unusual has been seen or heard.. and nothing unusual gets past his attention. The usual, whether it be the trash pickup in the morning or the ice trey dumping, is memorized and very seriously cataloged in his brain as "the usual". If Carlos barks, you better pay attention.

It's a bit disconcerting sometimes.. the level of attention he pays to everything. And it's not just casual for him; the ultra serious eyes he has as he watches everything everyone in your household does, or every movement or sound... all day... everyday. It's kind of creepy really. Kind of like an owl in a tree observing its surroundings.

This has positives and negatives:

Positives: You couldn't have a better watch dog than this. Very few false alarms and NEVER a missed alarm. This is by far one of my favorite things about Carlos, as I'm an avid outdoorsmen, hiker, explorer. He really is like having super senses built in when I'm out and about, and it's nice at home too. Combine this with his incredible stamina (I dare you to try and out-hike a healthy Xolol) and he's just a stellar fit for me. Snakes, bears, wild boar, hunters, hikers, other dogs, coyotes... I know they're there long before i would know they're there, because Carlos. Slight detour here, Carlos is a snake expert. So am I (so this was a huge bonus for me). As a snake guy, I used a very aggressive wild red bellied water snake to "test" him initially. A snake that's super aggressive, will stand its ground and is a pretty quick striker (but would be a minor flesh wound if he struck home). Suffice it to say, Carlos has a natural instinct for handling a snake. I won't let him kill a snake, mind you. Cuz I like snakes. But when confronted by one he's lightning fast, keeps a distance, circles, watches the head for an opening.. will only lung if the head of the snake is distracted. I don't know 100% that he'd do a proper shake on a snake, but based on his toy, mole and mice behavior he probably would. I like snakes too much to find out, I don't let him get that far. He's also very aware of the visibility of his surroundings. When we're walking through tall grass, there's no rushing him. Caution. I just let him lead just in front of me and he naturally slows down and looks for snakes. When he finds one he immediately backs off and gets low and fast. Perfect dog for me. So far he's pointed out at least a dozen rough green, rat, king and water snakes (nonvenomous snakes); Four cottonmouths one timber rattler and two copperheads. Worth his weight in gold, and I feel he's completely safe when he finds them. Ambush predator ambush Carlos? I think not.

Negatives: Yeah, you will get away with NOTHING if he's in the room. He will know exactly what you've done, where you've put everything, how often you check... everything. He knows more about what you've done and where things are than you do. The good news is that once you've truly bonded and established yourself as his leader, it doesn't matter. I can put a box of McDonalds french fries on the counter today and he won't touch it, even if I'm not home to watch. This is NOT the case if you are not yet fully bonded and respected. Took about a month for me to get there with Carlos. The real negative is that when novel happens (something not normal) it's very difficult to turn him off. There's an easy cure, as you've read in my previous posts. Make the novel no longer novel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Slight sidetrack on my dogs age:

When we adopted him he weighed 22 pounds and was estimated to be 4 years old. Today, he weighs 28 pounds (is not fat, ribs easily felt... good tuck.. etc) and is about 18 inches at the withers. No idea what his height was when we got him, didn't bother measuring until the first cold day of the next winter when NONE of the outfits we had bought him fit. I tried this super expensive harness/coat combo with super soft fleece padding on all the undersides that was his favorite his first winter. That next winter the chest strap fully extended was about 4 inches short of being latched. I pulled up some old photos from the winter we got him (previous winter) wearing that harness. What! In the photos, the length of the harness came down just past the base of his tail. Now? About 4 inches from the base of the tail. We did NOT notice this growth during his first year. I do recall having to let out straps the first few months we had him (Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb) - but everything was still wearable and I just assumed he was getting healthier. Nov the following year, not even a remote possibility. Had to get him a whole new wardrobe.

He had heart worms when we adopted, and from what I've read it's only detectable at 6 months of age? I've read that it takes around 18 months for a xolo to reach full bone growth, the last 6 months being a very slow growth. Given those two thing, I'm guessing he was somewhere around 1 years old when we got him, not 4.

Anyway, heart worm treatments. I can tell you all about how much it sucks. Did my dog get sick, lethargic, lose his appetite during his heart worm cure? I wish he had, then it wouldn't have been so hard.

to be continued:
 

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Me too; the communication between dog & person is a wonderful thing.
1. About your daughter who he bonded to originally: is she the one who went off to college? No wonder he felt the need for action.
2. Could Carlos have squeezed himself out of the crate?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story about Carlos. You have a real knack for writing.
Me too; the communication between dog & person is a wonderful thing.
Thank you guys, I really appreciate the positive feedback. It's been a blast talking about Carlos but it's good to know it's not just fun for me. And yeah, anyone who goes through life without experiencing a relationship with a k-9 is really missing out on a good bucket list item.

1. About your daughter who he bonded to originally: is she the one who went off to college? No wonder he felt the need for action.
It wouldn't surprise me if he sensed that she was not coming back and this upset him, but to be honest Carlos and I kind of guiltily hit it off from day one to my daughters slight disappointment. I honestly wonder if he'd ever get over me leaving for good. My daughter was a busy girl her last year of High School, and I'm proud of her for it. I think I had to (not begrudgingly, mind you) take the role of primary human for him from the get go, and my daughter understands that. She's still part of his pack in his mind, though. He loves for her to visit.

2. Could Carlos have squeezed himself out of the crate?
I'd say yes (maybe squeeze through a partially unbarred door... maybe, except the door was wide open when we returned. If he'd have squeezed I'd not have expected to find the door wide open. My first thought was that maybe I didn't close the door correctly that day, which is possible I suppose. But I'm pretty good about these things, so I doubt that's the case? I've considered testing it out on the crate to find out for sure; maybe setting up a camera to record how he does it. I haven't because the only way I could think to do it is to fabricate the same kind of panic in him, and that's just not something I'm willing to do to him on purpose just to sate my curiosity. I AM curious though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
...

Anyway, heart worm treatments. I can tell you all about how much it sucks. Did my dog get sick, lethargic, lose his appetite during his heart worm cure? I wish he had, then it wouldn't have been so hard.

to be continued:
Heart worms for Carlos was the milder version since he was showing no symptoms (lungs and heart sounded healthy, but he tested positive).

He was given standard ivermectin to get rid of any larval form worms in the bloodstream (heart worm preventative that he, of course, still takes once a month to this day) and one shot of melarsomine followed by 2 shots 1 day apart of melarsomine 30 days later.

From the get go we were told not to let Carlos exert himself for at least 4 months. Why? Because when the adult worms die, they don't just disappear; they slowly rot/get absorbed. While this rotting is happening pieces and parts of dead worms can get into the bloodstream and cause an embolism; keeping the dogs heart rate down is very important!

The shots? They hurt. They go deep into the dogs back muscles and make him pretty sore for a day or more. On the plus side, the vet gives a few days worth of pain meds for this. So in essence you can keep the dog glassy eyed and calm for a couple of days out of the 4 months required! Easy. The rest of those days? Pure torture for EVERYONE, especially Carlos.

What is Carlos like after a few days of not being allowed to do more than a couple of casual slow walks per day? I would describe him as a pressurized canister of zoomies. If he wasn't in a lap or a crate, he had to be leashed. One moment with any freedom and he'd start running circles at full speed. He was able to sneak a zoomie in several times during those 4 months and it was scary. We'd frantically put a stop to it, but it would be too late. He'd spend the next hour occasionally coughing, sometimes even producing white mucus.

Our best friends during those 4 months were dog toys for him to destroy and games of hide and seek in our bedroom. The toys gave him a slow release energy outlet that didn't make his heart race, small space hide and seek got rid of "some" of the boredom without a lot of running about. He never felt bad during his treatment, except for right after a zoomie escape.

The worst "zoomie" escape happened when we drove a few hours to visit my parents. They live rural and have a lot of roaming land around their house. The moment we pulled into the drive and opened the car door, Carlos bolted out and sprinted at top speed to do laps around their large back yard. It took a good 30 seconds to get him stopped, but the damage was done. He hacked and coughed for several hours after, which had everyone worried. When you see the white mucus on the floor after a hacking session you have to wonder whether some permanent damage has occurred.

After the four months was over there was what I call the grey months. He couldn't be re-tested and the treatment efficacy confirmed for a couple more months after, so it was this grey time where I wasn't confident in letting him loose to really turn on the afterburners, but I had a strong desire to let him have some fun. We used those months to slowly build up to letting him be a real dog again. I used his cough as an alarm system to stop any activity. Over those two months it took more and more to elicit a cough, but it didn't completely stop; but the day had finally arrived. Heart worm re-test day. He passed! Heart worm free! But was the damage already done? Would he ever be able to zoomie to his hearts content without hacking?

Well, yes. But it took a while longer. Roughly based on my rough memory it took another month or two before he completely stopped coughing no matter the exertion. So a total of about 8 months to be a normal dog from start to finish of his heart worm cure. That's a significant portion of a dogs lifetime! Today you'd never know he had them. His heart and lungs checkout as totally normal and healthy at the vet and he's got endurance and spirit to spare. But 8 months of holding a dog back from releasing the energy he NEEDS to release is a kind of hell for the dog and its owner. Of course I suspect there are dog/owner combos who go through this kind of hell for years without ever having heart worms involved, but rather just a classic case of couch potato syndrome. I've seen my dog on the Couch Potato lifestyle. No thank you!

to be continued:
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Little side track: Carlos's FIRST two leash free beach outings over the last few weeks! I give him an A+, but more importantly, I give my fellow dog owners an A+! Well, for the beach outings anyway. Dire Wolf off leash on an on-leash trail today was a bit tense.

But the beach. Oh... my... GOD that was great! The beach, being the off season, was miles of sparsely populated beach to walk. Carlos and i have walked it many times on leash on-season, and he loves it. I've always done the retractable (WD-40 required, but that's a sidetrack) on the beach and basically pretended he was off-leash as practice for the last few weeks (saved leash usage as a last resort vs verbal commands).

Day 1 Part 1 - Off leash on the beach. Approximately 7 miles walked (Ok, for me 7 walked, for Carlos probably closer to 10 miles of walk/sprint/run combo.. because off leash.. hell yes! I can keep up now!). I used the retractable for the first 3.5 or so miles (out and back combined), removing the leash when we were alone (about 70% of the walk) and heeling and putting him back on leash anytime we approached people or other dogs. He got a 100% score on listening and staying out of trouble. This was probably more me on training wheels than him. This first outing was me learning to trust him. But man, that 70% was great. We did fetch, practiced all our commands, did some sprint jumps, and he was able to sniff and explore and zig-zag at his own crazy pace without a slow human to constantly hold him back. Exercise X 10.

Day 1 Part 2 - We got back in the car and both had some lunch and about 30 minutes of digestion relaxation, and then we did it all again. This time, however, I had more confidence in him. Instead of bringing the retractable and a harness, I went with a simple collar and 6ft leash. I only used the leash twice. Both times were to pass other dogs off leash. Both times I called him to heel at a reasonable distance from the off-leash dogs (30 yards or so?) and both times he was a perfect obedient dog. Of course, then I had to walk through the off leash dogs with my dog with fingers crossed the other dogs would do their part. Both times, the owners called there dogs in ahead of time and let me pass unbothered. Both times Carlos passed by without any pull or stress. Yes!

Day 2 - Confidence high. No issues with him approaching beach passers, one dog pass that went exactly like day 1 part 1, lots of great fun and exercise... AND... an adorable dog moment. He brought me a shell. I kept it. I don't know why this shell out of the millions of shells on the beach struck his fancy, but he saw it.. sniffed it.. then brought it to me and dropped it at my feet. It's currently on my mantle. It's nothing special, just a rough barnacle ridden silvery clam shell. But hey, it was cute!

Day 2 part 2 - I decided to stop by a forest trail on the way home. Not 2 minutes into the trail I see a lone Dire Wolf off leash staring at us 20 yards down the trail. Ok, not a Dire Wolf obviously, but probably something like an Alaskan Malamute or Wolf-Dog of some sort. Well over 100 pounds and pretty as a picture. My first thought was "WOW!" My second thought was "Uh.. where's the leash and where's the owner?"... Then Mr. Dire Wolf started trotting a B-Line towards Carlos with his tail raised high and his ears perked. Yay?

to be continued:
 
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