Basset hound

The Many Sleeping Positions of Dusty

Sometimes Dusty likes to cuddle with his brother or sister.

I’ve heard that the basset hound is the clown of the dog world. It is this statement more than Dusty’s long body and turned-out front legs that convinces me Dusty has basset in him. He is certainly our clown. In true Dusty fashion, he manages to make us laugh even when he’s sleeping, so this week I thought I’d share some of his silly sleeping positions.

We call this one “the crash.”

Sometimes Dusty likes to have one or two body parts in or on a bed.

On occasion, he’ll curl up in the crate. I don’t know how this was comfortable for his nose, though!

Another version of “the crash.”

Dusty Putting His Nose to Work

A few weeks ago, I signed Cora up for a nosework course today at Superdog Central. However, last night, Cora started throwing up and having diarrhea (sorry for the details, but dog people talk about this sort of stuff!), so I decided I shouldn’t take her to the course. Fortunately, with two other dogs to choose from, I wouldn’t lose the money I’d spent and could still attend the course.

Lucy loved getting attention between her turns.

Since I’ve been taking Hogan to weekly agility classes, I decided to take Dusty for this one. And, of course, when it comes to sniffing, Dusty’s a natural, so I thought it’d be a great adventure for him. I was sad, though, not to be able to take Cora since I’d enrolled her thinking the course would help build her confidence.

Dusty during one of our breaks







In hindsight, it’s probably for the best that I went with Dusty rather than Cora. There were a lot of people and some barking, and Cora would’ve probably been too nervous to let her instincts take over. But now that I’ve learned the basics, I can set up some containers at home and let Cora put her nose to work, too.

Finn, a classmate of Hogan's in his beginner agility course, was a classmate of Dusty's.

Dusty was really well behaved for the most part. When we first arrived, he barked a lot because he wanted to play with the other dogs, but he seemed eventually to start to understand that play wasn’t the purpose (as he ultimately did in his obedience training at TAGS). Because the instructor wanted each of the dogs to be able to focus on the nosework without distraction, between turns, we had to crate our dogs or remove them from the room. Dusty behaved quite well in the crate. But he did get antsy awaiting his turns. He just wanted to be doing something, so I felt a little bad for him that there was so much downtime.

During his turns, though, Dusty excelled at finding the scent (liver)—whether the container was without lid or with—as demonstrated in the video below. And he seemed to really enjoy the activity, so I just may enroll him in the advanced course next month. However, first, I want to try to figure out how I can make the between-turns time a little easier on both of us. Neither of us is very good at just sitting and waiting!

Potential Poisoning Scare

The boys being good walkers

On Thursday morning, we walked the dogs as we do every morning and evening. We often walk on the beautiful, wide, well-maintained trails in our neighbourhood. It was a nice morning, so we extended our outing to close to an hour. For a moment near the end of our walk, I had my eye on what Cora was doing. When I turned to Dusty and Hogan, I saw they were nibbling on something. As we always do when our dogs try picking up mystery “food” on our walk, we instantly pulled them away. But then I examined what they’d been into and panicked.

Dusty and Hogan sniffing to determine what other dogs and wildlife had visited these parts.

I should preface my panicked reaction with the fact that less than two weeks ago, three dogs in Toronto died because of poisoning (antifreeze-soaked food planted on a walkway). What Dusty and Hogan were chowing down on looked like cat or rabbit food—a three- or four-pound pile of it, wet (either from dew or from something being poured on it)—and obviously intentionally put there. We guessed that our boys had eaten very little, but if it was contaminated, a little is all it takes to kill a small dog.

As soon as we got home, I called the vet clinic. The vet wasn’t in yet, but the vet technician, Mandy, said I should prepare to induce vomiting. The clinic also suggested I get a sample of the food, just in case something happened, so they’d know what they were dealing with. I drove over to the trail and got a sample of the food. In the meantime, Mandy called the vet and then called me back. Yep, I had to induce vomiting.

So, how do you induce vomiting in a dog? Hydrogen peroxide. Ingested. I was horrified at the idea.

This is a portion of the trail where we walk. We often see ducks in the creek by this bridge.

The idea of it was nothing compared to the experience. I ran out to the drug store to get what I needed and then closed Dusty and Hogan (I was so grateful I didn’t have to do this with scaredy-dog Cora!) in the bathroom with me, the bottle of nasty stuff, a syringe, and a roll of paper towels. The vet tech had given me a range of amounts to try (14-28 mL for Dusty and 9-18 mL for Hogan). I started with 14 mL for Dusty. As expected, he did not enjoy the taste of it. Hogan, seeing what was happening, tried to hide, but I quickly got 9 mL into him. Then we had to sit and wait. Nothing. Never have I wanted a dog to vomit as badly as I did in that moment. As it turned out, I had to give both dogs three more doses (totalling 30 mL for Dusty and 20 mL for Hogan) to get any results. It took a long time, and then once they were sick, boy, were they sick.

Cora and Hogan walking on the trail

I wish I could say the dogs learned a lesson or that we will be sure never to have to put them (or me) through that again, but unfortunately, we have hounds and a perma-hungry terrier. Two of our dogs (Cora and Hogan) were suspected strays and probably had to scrounge for every meal, so they do not turn down food of any sort. When any of our dogs finds anything remotely edible on our walks, they eat it. Geez, one day, Wes picked up a Post-it note off the floor and just stuck it on Cora’s back while he was putting on his shoes. Dusty ate it! They will eat anything, so I fear this experience will be repeated in the future. But I truly hope it’s a long, long, long while before we have to go through it again. More than that, though, I just wish we didn’t have to worry about people in this world trying to poison wildlife and pets. I mean, who’s really the animal?


It struck me today when I saw that someone had searched for “uncontrollable barking” and arrived at my site that I have some initial posts that don’t have follow-ups, so I’m going to make this post all about updating you on some situations I’ve blogged about before. I figure it’s a good way to wind up the year.

Hogan doesn't get the whole winter-coat thing.

Update 1: Since “Dusty’s Uncontrollable Barking” is the post that prompted this update, I’ll start with that update. A couple of weeks ago, we decided to try the citronella collar…and it really worked! We put it on Dusty first thing in the morning (around 7:15 a.m.) and took it off after our evening walk (around 6:00 p.m.). The spray didn’t come out every time he barked, but it worked often enough to make him reconsider barking. We used it for five days in a row and have put it on him only a couple of times since then. He now thinks twice about barking. When we open the door to the backyard, he still barks up a storm as he leaves the house, but we figure this is a hunting instinct, and we’ve decided more or less to let it happen since it stops once he’s hit the ground. Now that we’ve got Dusty’s barking under control, we may have to try the collar on Hogan. Hogan was super-quiet when we got him, but when Dusty was at his worst, Hogan joined the chorus, and he’s not stopping even though, most often, his is a lone voice now.

Cora in her favourite spot (on the love seat in the office).

Update 2: We initially purchased the D.A.P. collar for Cora because of her peeing in the house. It seemed to curb the peeing at first, but since the indoor urination was so sporadic, it was hard to tell if the collar was all that effective. It did seem to ease some of her anxiety, though (which I’ve detailed here). We now have another (cheaper) brand of pheromone collar on her. I think it does help with the anxiety. To address her peeing issue, the vet wanted to rule out bladder stones or other potentially dangerous medical reasons for the peeing, so yesterday Cora had an x-ray. Her innards, I’m happy to report, are picture perfect. Even her spine is in great shape, suggesting she’s got the bone structure of a young dog still. Amazing! The vet thinks the dribbling that we recently noticed may be an after-effect of Cora’s being spayed earlier this year. The peeing problem may be unrelated (and may still be anxiety related or a behavioural issue). We’re trying Cora on estrogen to see if that will reduce the dribbling in the house.

Dusty looking very handsome and completely innocent

Update 3: Dusty was diagnosed with hip dysplasia a couple of months ago. He’s also got a cruciate ligament issue, although the ligament isn’t torn. We put Dusty on Cartrophen injections to try to help rebuild the cartilage around his knee. The injections have really seemed to help. We also give him Sasha’s Blend, a glucosamine product. He often still favours his left hind leg, and I suspect surgery is inevitable, but we want to put it off as long as possible. He still runs around like a nut when he gets the chance, so his leg issues aren’t negatively affecting his quality of life—or not to any great degree anyway.

In general, the dogs are doing great—and we are loving life with the three of them!

Dusty’s Uncontrollable Barking

Dusty’s barking is getting out of control. Yes, he’s a hound, so he barks. And when he barks, even in the house, the neighbours surely can hear him. He’s THAT loud. When we first met Dusty, as regular readers know (and others can click here to read about), we walked away certain that he wasn’t the dog we wanted. And it was because of that bark. That non-stop, loud, deep, fierce bark.

However, Dusty’s foster mom, Louise, convinced us that Dusty didn’t bark in the house, and when we had our home visit with him, it seemed she was right. Not a peep. And for about six months, Dusty’s occasional bark has been manageable.

Dusty in one of his quieter moments (he's so sweet when he's like this!)

But in the past couple of weeks, Dusty has been barking both more often and more uncontrollably (i.e., once he starts, we can’t get him to stop). He barks at everything—an animal walking across the TV screen, the prospect of going outside, any other dog he sees on our walk, Hogan when Dusty wants to play but Hogan doesn’t want to, any person who is talking to him, and, most annoying, he barks at me for no apparent reason. If I stand up from sitting, he stands in front of me and barks, barks, barks, barks, and he won’t stop. And, of course, once he starts, Hogan gets in on the action. Mayhem! Tonight, Dusty even started barking when I was petting Hogan. Dusty had slept on my lap for more than an hour (he is such a sweet, cuddly dog most of the time), so afterward, I decided I’d give Hogan and Cora some attention. Dusty apparently didn’t like that.

Most of Dusty’s barking is spurred on by excitement. As Kathy at TAGS pointed out to me, quite rightly, it just doesn’t seem right to punish a dog for being happy or excited. But we can’t let it go on as it is, in large part because Wes and I both work from home, and we need a somewhat quiet atmosphere to concentrate in and to conduct business calls and the like.

What to do? I would never use a shock collar, but there are more humane options: citronella collars, vibrating collars, spray bottles, noise makers. Noise makers aren’t an option because they freak out Cora, our fearful dog. Kathy suggested teaching Dusty to take a toy when he starts so that he’ll have something in his mouth. I tried that, but he won’t focus on anything other than the thing that is holding his attention during the barking episode. Anybody out there have any ideas?