Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jindos and Children: Making it work

I can recall the first time Gabbey met my neighbor's energetic, rambunctious son.  Her son was three at the time and like most active toddlers, was overjoyed to be running through the living room, squealing and laughing as Gabbey chased him around the table.  So imagine my distress, when I noticed my Jindo was actually nipping at his diaper and becoming more determined with each attempt to rip it right off his body.  I looked at my husband in dismay, taking it as a hard reality check that our beloved adopted Jindo might not be the ideal family dog after all.  My heart sank and I started to feel the disappointment creeping in.  Somehow, despite all of my hard work with Gabbey, I failed to train him properly and now he's a total liability around children.  So there it was: The fear had set in and we would avoid kids on our daily walks and visits to the local park. I had to protect the children from possible injury and prevent Gabbey from being taken away from me if anything were to happen. It didn't even occur to me that I never even gave Gabbey a CHANCE.  How absolutely unfair of me to disregard him as a troublesome dog who is aggressive towards children.  I started to replay the initial scenario in my head and began to recall how out of control the entire introduction really was. In fact, there was no introduction---I just expected my Jindo to somehow accept the chaos that was unfolding around him.  A running child, giggling with high pitched screams and his Jindo prey drive in full effect;  What a recipe for disaster!

So I made it my mission to find a better approach, because after all he had endured, Gabbey deserved a second chance.  We started by greeting the neighborhood kids one at a time, in a very gentle and calm matter.  He would nervously lick their hands, and we would slowly administer treats, creating the positive association.  Little by little, the anxiety would fade and Gabbey had no reason to fear children and their unpredictable energy.  It's a beautiful thing to see curiosity emerge over fear. Now Gabbey was actively seeking out children on our walks, longing for the friendly pats and kissing tiny hands, unafraid and totally at ease.

Bringing Home Baby

I had to admit that despite all of our efforts, I was still harboring a bit of doubt in our Jindo's ability to accept a new baby into our home.  My husband and I were nervous bringing our son home, so we did the little things that gave us peace of mind, like sending the baby's blanket home, letting our dogs know there's a new smell in town.  So after the initial tail wagging, excitable kissing and whining died down, we let the dogs know there were a few boundaries with our new bundle of joy.  Of course, these were toughest for Gabbey to understand because he went into extreme protection mode, not to be confused with claiming or ownership type behavior. There was a heightened awareness about his environment and he became much more vigilant about strangers and noises outside of our door.  He always chose to guard the doorway of whatever room the baby was in, even if that meant waking up every 2 hours for night feedings.  I never imagined our Jindo would share in our exhaustion as new parents;  He took his duties very seriously and seemed to understand the fragile nature of our newest pack member.  Although I'm not a dog trainer or behaviorist, I'd love to share some of the steps we took to make the transition easier for our Jindo:

1.  Help your Jindo get use to the stroller.  Before baby arrives, introduce your dog to the stroller and help ease his anxiety. Take a walk while pushing the empty stroller, so he understands the difference in your gait and gets use to the sounds and movements of the stroller.  Give praise and reward him for his calm behavior and soon he'll look forward to family walks.

2. When baby comes home, create some healthy boundaries to ensure safety. Understand that you control the amount of access that you feel comfortable with.  Make sure you never leave baby unattended with your Jindo and supervise all interactions. Be aware of your dog's calming signals and never put baby in his face, making him feel threatened or trapped.  Your dog should always have a safe, quiet place of retreat available at all times. 

3. Create positive associations and eliminate anxiety.  Your Jindo will be very excited with the arrival of you newest pack member and it's up to you to try and make this transition as smooth as possible.  Remember to keep calm, as this is an exciting experience for the entire household.  Give gentle commands while holding baby, like "sit" and "stay."  Administer treats to reward and encourage calm behavior. Jindos are incredibly intuitive, so use their primitive nature to your training advantage, creating the foundation of a healthy relationship. Taking your Jindo for a walk with the baby carrier is a great way to relieve stress and help Jindo understand and appreciate those positive experiences with you and baby.

Keep in mind that despite our attempts to infuse human emotions into our pets, dogs don't get jealous or resentful when they aren't the center of attention. There's no existing competition for your affections between your Jindo and baby.  It's up to you to recognize undesirable behavior and address it in a manner that will not create a negative, anxiety-ridden association with children. If you are feeling overwhelmed and unsure, please reach out to an experienced behaviorist/trainer who has had success with this type of integration.  With a proper introduction and healthy  boundaries, you are laying down a solid foundation for a beautiful future relationship between your Jindo and child.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Great Expectations

You've been waiting patiently for this moment to arrive and finally it's here: your newly adopted Jindo is coming home. Imagine the disappointment when you discover it's not all wet kisses and warm hugs! You spent hours picking out his comfy new bed and nutrient dense food, but for some strange reason, he wants nothing to do with either.  You try to shower him with love and affection, yet he resists your advances and seems timid and insecure.  Hardly the behavior expected of a dog that you so selflessly rescued, right?  The key to a smooth transition from shelter to home is patience and a realistic behavioral expectation.  While some dogs may leap into your arms and shower you with kisses upon arrival, most will be mildly stressed and confused by their new surroundings.  Stay consistent in your training methods and try to come to terms with your new dog's needs.  The first few months of Jindo ownership can be both challenging and unpredictable, so resist the urge to second guess your decision to adopt and get some perspective.  The initial weeks are usually spent building trust with your new dog, so you may consider easing up on lofty obedience expectations.  Although it's important to set a basic behavioral standard for your household, a newly adopted Jindo may not immediately recognize you as a trustworthy master.  Try to remain patient and keep in mind that your new dog may not understand that you have "rescued" him. Hang in there and keep calm; Avoid adopter's remorse and give yourself ample time to adjust and bond with each other. Don't jump the gun and assume your newly adopted Jindo has a health issue because his appetite is less than voracious.  Give him some time to assimilate and feel safe in your home. Try not to panic if you observe some of these initial behaviors:

1. Fear of you, not exhibiting
   enthusiasm to see you or excessive
   displays of affection

2. Light appetite, finicky eater

3. Potty accidents,
    holding elimination for long periods of time.

4. Defensive nips, hard to handle

5. Separation Anxiety, chewing, excessive barking
    when you aren't home


One of the most important suggested precautions when bringing home your adopted Jindo, is containment.  You have done a wonderful thing by taking a chance on a rescue dog, the last thing you want is for him to bolt out of your house or yard and find himself lost in a strange place.  Your new dog should be wearing proper identification at all times---no exceptions!  These first few months in a new home are critical for your success and your dog needs to be contained and kept safe at all times.  Jindos have excellent problem solving skills and are supreme escape artists, so please don't underestimate their ability to escape a yard, pen, car or possibly bolt from a cracked screen door.  Off leash activities should be avoided, unless you have access to a securely fenced area.  Taking your Jindo on daily walks can be an enjoyable bonding experience for you both and should be encouraged.

Keep in mind that intensive obedience training may be difficult to achieve in those first few weeks of adjustment. Focus on bonding with your Jindo by establishing friendship and trust.
Although this process could take several weeks, once trust is established you can expect more concrete training results.  The important thing is to be patient and keep in mind that despite some initial challenges, a rescued Jindo can be a wonderful addition to your home.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Beginnings

I never have understood the allure of online dating.  After all, what is the likelihood of meeting Mr. Right in the nebulous world of cyberspace?  The Internet can be a breeding ground for deception and misrepresentation;  How can genuine chemistry be generated by two people being less then honest on their Match applications?  After months of research, I realized that it all originates with a fabulous profile and a few flattering pictures to boot.  At Animal Rescue Korea, volunteers put in the hard hours to create vivid, informative profiles of animals available for adoption at various shelters throughout Korea.  I never fancied myself a long distance love affair kind of gal, but soon I found myself browsing ARK profiles in the wee hours of the morning, waiting for updates, longing for more photos that might provide me with a glimpse of my perfect match. Then much to my surprise, I stumbled upon a handsome fellow named "Lobo," who not only caught my eye, but would eventually steal my heart.  It was through his rich, intriguing profile, filled with colorful photos and candid videos, that I opened my mind to the possibility of a long distance dalliance.  Suddenly, I started thinking about Lobo all of the time, revisiting his profile, making inquiries and wondering if this enigmatic character and I would make a perfect match.

Annie, our fabulous courier
Thanks to the hardworking volunteers of ARK and Asan shelter, our family was able to find the perfect match through their catalogue of detailed adoption profiles.  Lobo is a Korean Jindo who had lived at the shelter for 3 years,  just waiting for a second chance.  Although pedigreed Jindos are somewhat valued in Korea, a Jindo of unknown origin has little adoption appeal just based on his size alone.  Once we contacted the adoption coordinator at Asan, (Allison) she worked diligently to assist us with every detail involved with international adoption and transport.  When Lobo arrived at LAX via our generous courier, he had experienced a flight delay and ended up in his crate for over 20 hours. Despite such a challenging trip, he arrived in excellent health and was very curious to explore his new
surroundings.  As much as I wanted to show my excitement and give him a big hug and kiss, this was not a reality when bringing home a new Jindo.  I decided to forgo the crate and gave him free run of the house.  As expected, and in complete Jindo fashion, he potty trained himself and had no accidents since his arrival.  He also refrained from venturing upstairs for the first 3 days, choosing to stay close to the front door and stretching out on the cool, ceramic tile.  We immediately worked on socializing him with our son, by giving commands and treats from a dominant position, along with ample pats of encouragement. To the credit of all of the volunteers who previously handled him, he walks very well on the leash and will often look up to me for commands during our walk.  Much to my surprise, he's very friendly with other dogs and has an affinity for cruising in the car.  After two lengthy, patience-testing training sessions, he jumps into the car with ease and has even learned to ride next to our son in his car seat.  It almost seems like Lobo was destined to be our family dog and I often think about how easily he could have been overlooked if not for his wonderful ARK profile.  There is simply no way to ever fully express our gratitude for everyone involved in bringing Lobo home to us.  This is the dog we will take on hikes through our favorite scenic, rugged trails.  This is the dog who will run like the wind and frolick in the surf at Dog Beach, making us smile at every turn.  This is the dog that will grow up with our son, protect him and keep him safe while they explore the world together.  Lobo is our beloved friend, who will always be by our side, loving us unconditionally with each day that passes.  We are so filled with joy to hear the jingle of his collar in the morning and feel his whiskers tickle our cheeks as we wake up.  We never imagined in a million years that we'd find our newest family member half way across the world, but indeed he ended up being our perfect match.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Going One Step Beyond: A Story of Jindo Loyalty

There's nothing more devastating a couple can endure than losing a baby.  All of the hopes and dreams of starting a family are quickly dashed and the only thing that remains is the anguish and pain that somehow must be endured.  It was August 7, 2008 when we received that fateful call, that our little one's heartbeat had slowed down and most likely would not recover.  It would be our third loss in a year, but somehow nothing could prepare us for the shock of this miscarriage after we had heard that initial heart beat. (After all, we had been told that the odds of miscarriage after hearing a heart beat were around 4%)  The doctor had given me a choice of a D&C or induction medicine to evacuate the pregnancy and I chose strict bed rest and induction.  I would have to remain in bed, closely monitored by my husband, to ensure I didn't suffer from excessive bleeding.  Little did I know that I was going to be closely monitored by an additional, unexpected guest.

I started my first dose of medicine around 11:00am on August 8, the same day as the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.  I was hoping the pageantry and hype of the ceremony would help divert my attention from the emotional and physical pain I was about to experience. I told my husband that I preferred to stay upstairs in bed, alone and undisturbed, having him check on me from time to time.  By 11:30am, both of our dogs had curiously wandered upstairs and Gabbey had decided to stay with me.  By noon he was in bed next to me, stretching out his entire body against the length of mine, as if trying to keep me warm.  He's always been an extremely light sleeper (not much of a cuddle dog) and even the slightest noise or disturbance will cause him to wake and shift around.  I didn't think much of it as I pulled myself up and walked to the bathroom---I was in too much pain from the cramping and feeling emotionally drained.  When I returned to bed, he was curiously waiting for me so he could once again reposition himself along the length of my body.  By 5:00pm it was time for the dogs to take their walk and my husband was calling for Gabbey, jingling his leash and whistling for him to come downstairs.  I was absolutely stunned when he barely moved from the bed, only darting his ears forward and then resting his head next to my side.  My husband came upstairs and tried to retrieve him, but Gabbey refused to leave my side, even to relieve himself.  What I learned in the next five hours was a touching lesson in Jindo loyalty that would bring me to the verge of tears.  Gabbey continued to lay by my side during the entire eleven hour ordeal of bleeding, cramping and suffering.  Despite all of our coaxing, he never once took water, food or a walk to relieve himself;  Finally by 11pm, I started to recover and we were able to convince him to take water and a short walk. 
Gabbey was clearly was in an intense state of protection that exceeded anything we had ever seen. I knew at that moment I would have to share with his amazing display of Jindo loyalty.  I had been sick many times before and had never seen this type of behavior from Gabbey;  What type of signals was he picking up that had him in such a deep state of protection and guardianship?  Could this simply be a trait that is innate to the Korean Jindo?

Now that we are happily expecting our first child in less than a month, I have finally healed enough to share the story that eventually inspired me to create Jindo Tales, a tribute to this amazing breed that has touched our lives in so many wonderful ways.  As we anticipate the arrival of the big day, Gabbey has been right by my side every step of the way, slowing down for me on our walks as I waddle down the street and giving me belly kisses whenever the opportunity arises.  He will always be a most cherished part of this family and I'll never forget his support during one of the toughest times in our lives.  It's clear to me now that Jindo loyalty and devotion runs deep within the breed and is just another example of what makes them such a much loved treasure.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Disposable Dogs

 I've come to the conclusion that the janitorial field is probably the most thankless profession on this planet.  How many times have you been to a movie and left your candy wrappers and empty popcorn box strewn across the floor, only to convince yourself that it's someone Else's problem?  After all, you paid for your ticket and over priced snacks, so why should you clean up after yourself? Somebody actually gets paid to clean this mess up, right? So just let them deal with it and be on your merry way.

 According the the Humane Society, it's estimated that 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized every year. Ouch.  The sheer volume alone is staggering and quite frankly, enough to make any animal lover cringe.  Although Jindos account for a fairly small percentage of these deaths, their numbers are growing alongside with negligent breeding practices.  What point do we have to reach for society to wake up and realize that this massive animal problem is truthfully, a problem that is perpetuated by people?

We currently have a multitude of resources that provide affordable spay/neuter services as well as several adoption and rescue agencies;  So why are so many innocent animals being left to die at such an exponential rate?  The most obvious culprits are the irresponsible, backyard breeders and puppy mills, who are quick to make a buck at the expense of the treatment and welfare of their animals.  Dogs are a mere commodity, and in the same fashion as agriculture, they are grown and harvested until they can be sold at market price.  But ultimately, aren't they merely satisfying the demand of the public and exploiting a lucrative market?  The simple truth is that we've become a society that often acts on impulse and rarely deals with the consequences of our actions.  Our desire for the perfect, purebred companion is an integral part of what drives this industry of cruelty and waste, and much like the popcorn on the floor, we wash our hands, walk away and convince ourselves that it's someone Elses' problem. 

Enter the our handy "janitors" of the new millennium.  They are battling in the trenches daily, doing the dirty work of saving these disposable dogs and usually, they do it on their own dime. Thankless hours of visiting shelters, behavior assessments, photographing and posting listings in hopes of giving another living creature a chance at a better life.  They are dedicated and true, sending out a distress signal on the behalf of millions of animals that perish each year in our shelters.  I've recently caught wind of a "janitor" that works at a local,  pristine metro park with a dirty little secret.  It seems that people have chosen this family oriented park and recreation area to dispose of their unwanted dogs.  Imagine the excitement and enthusiasm of the dog who gets to join his family for a fun day at the park.  He'll joyfully walk along his favorite path by the lake in a carefree bliss, unaware that this will be the last time he'll ever see his beloved family again.  Soon he'll be tied to a tree or bush, eagerly awaiting the return of his master, but for some reason his master does not return.  By nightfall he's thirsty and tired.  Desperation and panic sets in, and as he hears the howls of the nearby coyotes closing in, he violently tries to free himself from his collar.  Exhausted and defeated, he is finally picked up by the janitor, making her rounds and bringing these disposable dogs to safety.  She's been rescuing local animals for years and although we haven't met, I'd somehow like to tell her one day how much I appreciate everything that she's done for us. I want to thank her for displaying a generosity and kindness that we all could learn from. Because after working her full time 40 hour week, she's out there moonlighting as a janitor, cleaning up our unwanted, forgotten mess.  She's moving under the radar, searching in the night for our disposable dogs.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's a Jindo Thing

Toby "touch me not" is a Korean Jindo who hit the jackpot the day he was adopted into the loving home of Carrie Bruse. She had remarked that Toby was not the typical beloved family dog who endeared himself by making friends with everyone he encountered. He is a dog that is wary of strangers and probably has the reputation of being a bit aloof; But make no mistake: He would fight to the death to protect his beloved owner.

Jindos may not have the cuddle factor that many other breeds display but they are incredibly loyal to their family or "pack" and seem enamored with whomever they choose to be their master. Some Jindos are so dedicated that even when let loose at the local dog park they opt to stand quietly next to their owner instead of partaking in the typical canine festivities.  They seem to display a constant state of alertness, with ears erect and darting forward and nose in the air, processing a multitude of scents that can often lead them astray. Understanding the average Jindo prey drive and desire to expand territory is often expressed by a need to escape or wander. Considering these dogs were bred to hunt various game it's a challenge to imagine how all of these primitive behaviors can translate into a perfect house pet.  How can anyone expect to adopt such a wild dog into their peaceful home?

Adaptation is probably the most practical trait that may be the deciding factor in the future of this curious breed.  Although Jindos need plentiful exercise and crave interaction, you don't need several acres or a rural property to house a Jindo. These dogs are highly adaptable and can be perfectly content nestled in their fleece lined dog bed next to your futon. Daily walks and play sessions are a crucial part of keeping your dog happy, so why not check out your local Metro Parks?  A Jindo is the perfect fitness buddy that will never call to cancel or lag behind on that last lap around the block;  Sure he may not be that dedicated Lab that brings you the paper every morning, but I guarantee he'll greet you with equal excitement and plentiful kisses every time you walk through the door.  Adopting a Jindo can be a wonderful experience and you'd be surprised how much you'll learn about yourself when bonding with this rare breed from Korea.  Take advantage of the useful resources around you and talk to other owners if you have questions about the breed. After all, people who actually own these dogs can offer a great deal of insight and will be glad to share their love of Jindos with you. Then when your Jindo greets you with excessive kisses and wolf-like howls you won't panic because you'll know it's a Jindo thing!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Adopting an Older Dog

What could possibly be more adorable than a puppy? With soft, velveteen ears and those innocent, limpid pools staring back at you---honestly, how could you resist? Puppies appeal to our playful and even protective side as they stumble about the world in a state of sheer amazement, eagerly attacking each new experience with great curiosity. Additional appeal lies in their diminutive size, as all things miniature have become the latest fad. We're a culture of convenience and while we want our snacks super sized we'd rather have pooches that fit in our purses. So where does that leave the older dog? You know, the one that's quite capable of humoring you with "sit, stay, and roll over." He's the one holding his bladder to the point of implosion as he frantically awaits your return from that last minute, Friday night Happy Hour you decided to attend.

Older dogs make great pets and although they may lack that adorable, puppy appeal, they hold many redeeming qualities worth your consideration.

Potty Trained: Stepping in wet, stinky pee puddles or watching your
perfectly polished hardwood floor get a new type of "finish" can
have you pulling out your hair in frustration. Older dogs
have been there and done that at someone else's expense.

Obedience: Older dogs are usually quite versed in basic commands.
Most of the hard work has already been done but don't believe
the hype; You can definitely teach your old dog many new tricks.

Size Matters: What you see is what you get when adopting an older pooch. But with a pound puppy, breed status and origin can be a bit
nebulous, so why not go with a full-grown Fido? By the time a dog reaches 3 years of age, you have a good idea of his height and weight.

Manners: While it's true many older dogs may have a little baggage, most of them have passed a basic behavioral assessment by either the shelter staff or rescue agency. How nice it will be to bring home a pooch who has already finished teething and doesn't keep you up all night whimpering into the wee hours.

Many of us have a hard time managing our busy schedules but still like the idea of having a canine companion to keep us company and help us stay active. While puppies may rule in the warm fuzzy department, an older dog can still be that loyal friend that fetches your slippers instead of tearing them to shreds. So the next time you consider getting a puppy to brighten your day, don't forget about the many fine, older dogs available for adoption or rescue;  You may find you have discovered a friend for life.