Monday, February 29, 2016

Product Review: Kong Squeezz Crackle Ball

The Kong Squeezz Crackle Ball is a new take on Kong's translucent toy line. It's a firm ball with a good solid crackle when squeezed firmly. There's no squeak, and the sound it makes is not particularly loud or jarring. Other toys in the line include a dumbbell, bone, and stick.
dog jumping to catch purple ball
Photo by Erin Koski

This ball is unique among our vast toy collection. It doesn't squeak, and it manages to be flexible, firm, and crackly all at the same time. Sort of like a plastic soda bottle inside a rubber Halloween mask. Does that make sense?

Of course, Brisbane can't stand crackly toys so he won't touch the Crackle Ball. Sisci, on the other hand, thinks it is marvelous. It's bigger than a tennis ball, so it's not a choking hazard for large breed dogs.
dog with all four feet off the ground
Photo by Erin Koski
Though it's made by Kong, it's important to distinguish between the company's 'interactive' toy lines, and their classic rubber toys. Like the Jumbler, Tuff N' Lite Pig, and the Squeezz Jels, this is a toy that is intended for supervised, interactive play between you and your dog. It is not meant to be gnawed lovingly for hours, or left with your power chewer while you are at work.

Pros: Provides a unique sensation when chomped. Big enough for big dogs to enjoy. Makes a fun and appealing sound that won't interrupt your important business phone call.

Cons: There seem to be durability issues, many users have reported that the flexible outer skin inevitably splits at the seams.

Bottom Line: Great for non-destructive dogs that like to fetch, catch, and carry their toys around. Not so great for dogs that destroy toys on a regular basis.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

I Got This

I recently read a blog post that described how the author was changing their own perception of their agility performance by changing the specific words they use to describe it. Instead of saying their dog did something, they began referring to their team. "We blew our contacts", or "we popped out of the weaves". I really love this concept, and it really puts the focus on the dog-handler connection rather than just the dog. We're not competing in agility just yet, but I've begun doing a similar thing with my own reactive dogs and their many triggers.

two dogs on utility lead
Photo by Erin Koski
One of the most poignant things I ever read was a small note in one of Patricia McConnell's books, where she mentioned that she places herself between her dog and whatever it is that they fear. It's a way to let them know that they don't have to deal with it alone. To me, this feels like it cuts to the very core of my relationship with my dogs; in all things it is my job to protect them.

"Tension Travels Down the Leash"

We've all heard the same thing a million times. Keep the leash loose, but not so loose that your dog can get into trouble. Maintain a calm demeanor in the face of things you know will totally set off your poor pup.

But let's be realistic here. It's easy to act upbeat and positive when we encounter a trigger at a manageable distance. "Hooray, you saw a dog! You get cookies!" That's the kind of training we like, manageable and fun for everyone. But, unless you're very lucky, it doesn't always go that way.

How do you keep your cool when the situation is terrible and you already know your dog is going to have a meltdown. "Shit, we have to walk past that yard where the horrible dog sticks his head halfway under the fence and roars at us, can't get far enough away without walking in traffic, and here comes a kid on a skateboard! Ok, act happy."

"I Got This"

This is what I'm now saying to my dogs as we pass through a situation they clearly see as hellish. It has helped me take a mental step back and go, "wait a second, this is just a regular day on the sidewalk, we're all safe and there's nothing wrong". My focus shifts from my dog and their behavior to my own, and I stop reflexively tightening the leash to prepare for trouble.

Placing myself between my dog and that horrifying muddy boxer under the fence is still part of the drill, but I'm no longer staring down at my side and going "Stay on that side of my, dammit!" as my dog tries to dart around me. Instead, I'm striding confidently ahead because I know the slobbery mess can't get to us. We're safe. I don't need to reassure my dog that I will bravely protect them because this is no big deal. Nothing bad is going to happen to them, I'll make sure of it. I got this.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Product Review: Platinum Pets Genuine Leather Collar

This Genuine Leather Collar by Platinum Pets has glorious purple metal stars, and matching purple hardware. So unique! The color is powder coated, it's not just a paint or varnish. Platinum Pets makes collars with powder-coated spikes and stars in a rainbow of colors. These are available in white and black leather, with fourteen different color choices for the hardware and decorations. They come in three sizes to fit dogs with necks up to 20" around.
Platinum Pets powder coated hardware star puppy collar
Photo by Erin Koski

When I first started seeing colored metal on pet products, my response was, "Welp, there's no way that's going to stay on there." I figured the metal was just painted, maybe coated in some sort of varnish. The assumption was that it would peel or rub off just like every other painted metal surface on a dog collar. They were probably made in China and would be terrible quality under the pretty colors.

It turns out that Platinum Pets is based in the USA, and their products perform better than expected. This tiny collar still looks brand-new after several weeks of continuous wear.

In addition to these decorated leather collars, Platinum Pets makes bowls, choke chains, prong collars, and chain leashes in the same colors. The coloring process is done at their facility in California, and the color seems to stay on better than expected. Of course, the first place it wears is anywhere metal is contacting metal, so the chains and prongs start losing color where the links rub together. I just saw a bright blue metallic prong collar on a dog at work this week, and the collar was very eye-catching.

Pros: Inexpensive, unique, and totally adorable. Super light and soft for delicate and tiny necks. Made, or at least colored, in the USA.

Cons: Only comes in three sizes so may not fit every dog. Larger collars with larger stars may not hold up as well.

Bottom Line: Reviews on these vary so much that there may be some questionable quality control or a counterfeiting issue, especially with the Platinum Pet choke chains. Ru's collar is holding up beautifully, but if I decided to buy one of their choke chains I would get it directly from the company.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Food Friday: Zignature Lamb Formula Canned Dog Food

Our recent move brought us within a few blocks of a store that sells Zignature along with basically every other awesome brand of dog food available in California. They had Orijen and Acana, Primal, Stella and Chewy's, Pure Vita, Canidae Pure, Dogswell, Artemis, Nature's Variety, Real Meat, Ziwi Peak, Merrick, Wellness, Solid Gold, Weruva, NutriSource, Party Animal, Taste of the Wild, Honest Kitchen, Fromm, and some foods we've never tried before.

dog food and dinosaursThe Company

I'm pretty sure Zignature has updated their website since last I visited, and I'm pleased with the changes. They say right on the site that they use co packers, including Tuffy's Pet Foods and Performance Pet. They also openly state that they source their ingredients from quality suppliers around the world. Their kangaroo comes from Australia and their duck comes from France because those are where the best kangaroo and duck can be found.

One of the things I like about their nutritional philosophy is their unique type of appeal to nature.
dog chow and dinosaurs
Most pet food companies go on at great lengths about how "your dog is a wolf so you must feed it like a wolf". Zignature's version is this: "a wild predator may find varying types of prey from day to day, but each meal will be fairly limited, so we use a single type of protein in most of our foods". That's logic I can get behind, flawed or not.

The Food

This is a grain-free, soy-free food that contains not potatoes or sweet potatoes (shall I say, tuber-free?) or any type of poultry. In addition to the lamb, there are peas, carrots, chickpeas, vitamins, and that's it. The peas and carrot bits are really obvious, and I lost a pea or two while scooping it out of the can. It's a pate-style food that works well for mixing with kibble, wrapping around pills, and watering down to fill puzzle toys for the freezer. This food is rated five out of five stars on the Dog Food advisor website, and I would happily feed it to my dogs as their sole source of nutrition if I had to pick just one food. Zignature also makes kangaroo, whitefish, and trout/salmon canned formulas that are safe for Brisbane's poultry, egg, corn, barley, and sweet potato allergies. How cool is that?

What's your dog's favorite kind of canned food?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bad Touch

I have this really crazy idea that my dogs should be allowed a certain degree of body autonomy. I know this is radical, but stay with me here. Body autonomy is a pretty progressive concept with human children as well, but it's one worth considering. The basic idea is that your body is your own, and you have the right to determine how people touch you.

How does this pertain to dogs? Well, they already think they should have body autonomy. When a dog is uncomfortable with another dog intruding on their space, they make it known through body language by stiffening up, lifting a lip, growling, or maybe even snapping. This is not an attempt to "exert dominance" or "be the boss". It is not "being mean". It's just communication, the only way a dog has to say "I'm not comfortable with that".

Dogs also tell people that they are not comfortable with intrusions into their personal space, or having their bodies handled in certain ways. Unfortunately, most people don't seem to be listening. Many think they are listening, but get the wrong message entirely. So much of canine communication with humans is viewed as disrespect, or bad behavior without any further thought expended on the matter.

I feel extremely lucky to have very sensitive dogs that do a fantastic job of letting me know what they are and aren't cool with. They are also tough as nails and will not back down from a confrontation, so using force to get my way is likely to get both of us injured and/or traumatized. Australian cattle dogs are very mouthy dogs, and Brisbane and Sisci will both gently mouth my hand to let me know when I've reached their limits. If I try to force the issue, they will start nipping and eventually would probably actually bite me. I could overpower them, but that would end with a sad, fearful dog that gives no warning before they bite

Of course, it is absolutely necessary to physically handle our dogs sometimes. We have to provide grooming and medical care, and sometimes just move them from one place to another for their own well-being. How do we respect their body autonomy while accomplishing all of that? By simply listening, and asking permission whenever possible before touching a dog that is asking not to be touched.

My dogs and I agree that it's rude to walk up and grab someone with no warning. A lot of dogs have learned that a hand grabbing their collar means bad things, so they stiffen up, back up, or even mouth the grabbing hand. This isn't disrespect, it just means "That's scary, please stop." However, leading a dog via a hand on their collar is very effective when they need to be moved and don't understand where to go. When I handle skittish or mouthy dogs, I make an effort to reach around the bottom or side of their head instead of over the top where they'll find hands threatening. Move slowly, pet their shoulder or chest a little bit, and then gently take the collar and apply the minimum pressure required to get them moving. This says "I know you don't like this so let me show you that it isn't scary and show you what I want you to do."

Likewise, with any sort of touching, I try my best to read body language and respect the signals I see. If a small dog needs to be picked up and gets stiff and growly, I slow down and pet non-threatening areas until they relax a little before trying to scoop them up.

The same idea goes for grooming and handling for medical reasons. When I have a dog on the grooming table for a nail trim, I always talk to them and ask permission to touch. "Can I see your foot?" with a hand running from their shoulder down to their paw instead of just abruptly grabbing their leg. This seems like basic decency, but I see far too many people handling dogs like they have every right to do whatever they like. 

Body autonomy for dogs only goes so far, and ultimately we humans have to do what we have to do. Still, I think we owe it to them to pay attention when they politely tell us they don't like being handled in certain ways. It's our job to help them feel at ease, and teach them via counter-conditioning and just plain respectful handling that it's not so scary after all.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Loot Pets February: Dead

Our February Loot Pets Crate arrived today, and this month's theme is 'Dead'. Zombies! Zombies everywhere! We got another exclusive collar charm, an actual Walking Dead dog toy, and two bags of treats.
Walking Dead walker dog toy

The official licensed Walking Dead decapitated walker head comes to us from The Coop, the same company that brought us last month's Space Invaders leash.

There are two bags of treats this month, unfortunately both chicken-based, The Zom-Bone Survival Treats are a sort of chicken jerky, hopefully Sisci and Ru like them since Brisbane is allergic. The Night of the Living Chimchangas chicken sticks really remind me of the Pedigree Jumbones I used to buy for my cocker spaniel years ago, but with way better ingredients. Both of these goodies come to us from Loving Pets. This is the same company that brought us Invasion of the Sweet Potato Crisps.

This totally rocking Deadpool shirt comes from Fifth Sun, makers of all sorts of officially licensed shirts. Unfortunately it will never sit any of my dogs without some major alteration. All of our Loot Pets shirts have been extremely wide, as if made for a pug or French bulldog. I don't have any short-backed stocky dogs, everyone here has a long back and would look ridiculous wearing one of these midriff shirts. Maybe I'll try ordering a size smaller next time to see if the fit it a little different.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Treat Tuesday: Plato Hunder's Crunch

These Hunder's Crunch treats by Plato Pet Treats are like little stinky fish wheels. I was expecting something kind of like a dog biscuit, but it turns out they're a sort of jerky roll. The package says this, but please forgive me for missing that bit because the package says a ton of other things too.
fish jerky sushi rolls

Good For: Keeping all the dogs busy crunching for several minutes. Hiding for the dogs to find via smell. Picky dogs. Dogs with allergies to anything but fish.

Not Good For: High-value training treats. Not smelling like fish.

How Much We Like Them: Even Ranger, who can be a bit finicky, got crazy-eyes and ran off with one of these when I was passing them out.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Product Review: Hurtta Free Hand Jogging Leash

Hurtta's Free Hand Jogging Leash is a unique solution for a common problem. While it's not a totally hands-free tool, the handle allows you to hold the leash on your hand and hold another thing too. Stroller handle? Hiking poles? Umbrella? Clicker? You got it! The length adjusts from 3-5', and the hand loop opens to accommodate hands of all sizes. This leash is available in six colors and two widths for smallish and largish dogs.
Hurtta adjustable glove leash
Photo by Erin Koski

This is a nifty leash for some very specific situations, but it's definitely not for everybody. It makes a really fabulous leash for trick training because it allows me to hold a clicker and dispense treats without resorting to standing on the end of the leash, looping it over my arm, or letting it drag and hoping nobody spots a squirrel.

Red heeler with Hurtta jogging leash
Photo by Erin Koski
The adjustable length and lack of manual dexterity required to hold this leash makes it pretty awesome for service dogs. The handle is soft and fits like a glove while leaving that hand free to use a cane or crutch. We all know that looping a leash over your arm isn't much of a solution, and this Hurtta Jogging Leash is awesome because it stays right on your hand all by itself. It doesn't require hand strength, coordination, muscle tone, or actual thought to stay where it belongs.

That said, this is definitely for dogs that already walk nicely on a loose leash. It does not provide superior grip or control over a regular leash. The biggest issue is actually that the hand grip, which is attached via a slider that moves down the leash to allow the handle to open as wide as necessary. This is basically a slip leash for your hand, tension causes it to slide shut. If the dog is a hard puller, the grip itself will pass through the slider and the leash will cinch down tight.

 If your dog walks politely, this will keep the two of you connected and following the local laws. If your dog is a hard puller or hasn't learned how to walk nicely yet, this thing is going to squeeze the hell out of your hand. It will not make your walks any easier.

The adjustable length is interesting, it definitely works well for me except that at the shortest setting the doubled-up section tends to gap open. It's a pretty stiff leash, which probably makes the gapping worse. Maybe it will soften up with use. Ours is a new acquisition from the Petco clearance bin, because it was $4 and matched Sisci Godzilla's Hurtta harness.

Pros: Fits like a glove and stays on the hand without requiring grip, muscle tone, manual dexterity, or even consciousness. Opens wide enough to fit on stiff hands and around braces and other apparatus. Allows entire hand to be used freely to grip and hold a walking device, stroller handle, cell phone, or anything else. Lets me relax my hands while walking my dogs, so when my joints are sore I don't have to grip the leash for the entire walk. Adjustable length for city versus suburban walking. Great for clicker training! Reflective!

Cons: Not for dogs that pull! Hand loop can cinch down and stay tight with a lot of pulling, so not good for arthritic hands unless the dog walks politely. Probably can't wear more than one at a time on the same hand. Flexible fabric hand loop is going to get filthy immediately. Adjustable section gaps open when the leash is shortened, dog can step through it. Very still nylon strapping.

Bottom Line: This is the one and only leash that works perfectly with my trekking poles on hikes. These walking poles are used as a pair, one in each hand, which means I do not have a free hand for holding a regular leash or a Flexi leash. With a pole on either side of my body, it also means a dog attached to my belt or body is going to constantly be on the wrong side of the pole. The Hurtta Free Hand Leash is awesome because it allows me to hold the leash on the outside of the moving trek poles, and keeps everything from getting tangled up.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What in the World is a Woodhouse Collar?

Often referred to but never explicitly defined, the "Woodhouse Collar" is an extinct training tool that is best described as a choke chain with bigger, noisier links. I had read glowing recommendations for this collar in training books in the mid-1990's, including a vague mention of the collar being attached in a manner that prevented it from tightening. Never had I seen such a thing in a store, nor could I figure out just what it was. Surely not a regular choke chain, right?

woodhouse collar choke chain
This is not a real Woodhouse collar.
Nope, it seems to be basically a choke chain. From descriptions it seems the links were not quite as big as on a "fur saver" type chain collar, which doesn't work very well as a correction collar because the links are too big to get a really good pop. Nor were the links as small as those found in a standard check chain.

The links in a Woodhouse collar were o-shaped, and big enough to attach a leash clip through. The live ring could be pulled until the collar was tight enough to not slip off, and then the leash could be clipped to both the live ring and any link along the collar to keep it at the correct size without tightening or loosening. Protection sport people still do this with fur saver collars.

I have not been able to find a picture of an actual Woodhouse collar, but I did manage to find a chain with big enough links to snap my Stibbar lead to both the live ring and a random link. I'm pretty sure this is how the Woodhouse collar was "buckled back on itself". That particular description threw me off for years though, as I kept trying to find a chain collar with an actual buckle.

The Woodhouse collar was designed by Barbara Woodhouse, a TV dog trainer in the 1980's that used very similar methods to a current TV dog trainer. I like to use this to explain how far we've come in the art of dog training, and how far the Dog Whisperer has set things back for the general public.

Barbara Woodhouse also wrote a book, No Bad Dogs, that was published in 1982. I read it in 1992 and even when I was fully-versed in dominance theory and bought the whole thing, I found her methods appalling. Her training strategy in the book could be summed up in a single sentence: "Put a choke chain on the dog, and pop the leash until the problem goes away." This was applied to such varied situations as teaching dogs to sit, to forcing them to conquer their fears. The part that has stuck in my mind for decades is the bit where she described taking a poodle that was extremely nervous around vehicular traffic, and standing on a divider of a busy road cranking the choke chain repeatedly until the dog stopped looking scared. Nope, nope, nope.

Nowadays we call that "flooding", as in flooding the dog with a scary stimulus until the part of its brain that can be scared just gives up and shuts off for a bit, coupled with aversion training to teach the dog to stop acting fearful and hide those feelings away to avoid getting hurt. Nobody well-educated in dog behavior would use this sort of method due to the possibility of the poodle ending up even more fearful of cars without giving any warning signs.

The Woodhouse collar fell out of favor and out of production sometime in the mid-90's, I believe. At least one book published in 1992 heavily recommended them, but the collar was largely unknown when I went looking for one in 2002.

If you came here to figure out what the heck a Woodhouse collar is, I hope you found the answer you were looking for. If anyone has a picture of an authentic Woodhouse collar, I would be delighted to share a picture with the world.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Naming of Dogs

Naming one dog is pretty easy. I like to use names with easily recognizable two-syllable calls, and one-syllable attention-getters. Vowel sounds are very important, dogs aren't great at telling consonants apart. Neither am I, sometimes I can see a person's mouth making one sound while I still here a different one. For me, it's called an auditory processing disorder. For the dogs, it's perfectly normal.

Brisbane and Sisci
Photo by Erin Koski
Brisbane's name is pronounced 'briz-BAIN', because I am an uncultured American. Also because it's a really easy sound to shout very loudly. I call him Brizzy or Mr. Bane for fun, and just Briz when I need to get his attention to give him a command. He is very tuned into that 'short i' sound.

Ru is pronounced 'roo' like 'kangaroo', but I decided to spell it weird because I didn't want a stupid little Winnie the Pooh dog. Turns out spelling had nothing to do with it, and he was a stupid little Winnie the Pooh dog all along. I call Ru with repeating vowel sounds, "Rurururururururururu!" He actually comes to any repetitive sound though, "bababababa!" "kikikikikikiki!"

Sisci came with her name, and it's a good one. Names that end with an -ee sound are great for shouting over long distances, and easy for dogs to recognize. The only problem is that I end up calling her 'Sis' for short. This is a great attention-getting sound. "Sis, come!" "Sis, up!"

What's wrong with "Sis"? It uses the same 'short i' sound as "Briz". Now my cattledogs have no idea who I'm talking to unless I say their entire name. Brisbane knows he's "short i, long a", Sisci knows she's "short i, long e", neither of them can tell the difference when I use their abbreviated names.

The solution for this is clearly to rename Sisci. I've always planned on calling her Godzilla, I just need to work on making it stick. She already recognizes this as a name, so it's really just a matter of habit for me.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Food Friday: Hound & Gatos Beef Canned Dog Food

Hound and Gatos touts itself as "The Original Paleolithic Pet Food Company". They make canned pet foods out of pretty much just meat, which makes me likes them quite a bit. They also say some questionable, laughable, and outright ridiculous stuff on their website, and use some questionable online marketing tactics that make me feel slightly icky about supporting their company. But only slightly, I mean its entirely possible the questionable stuff was the work of one hopeless idiot that eventually lost their job. At any rate, putting this stuff in my blog post means it's possible I'm inviting trouble from Hound &Gatos and that is kind of exciting. Living dangerously, yo.
dog food and dinosaurs

The Food

I found this brand of dog food via my usual method of walking into a small business pet supply store and scanning the shelves for anything that we've never tried before. I picked this one because it was a novel brand that did not contain any poultry, egg, sweet potato, barley, or corn, so Brisbane could try it.

Hound & Gatos offers eight different dog food recipes, and at first glance six of them look potentially Brisbane-safe. This beef can contains nothing but beef, water, some gums for texture, and vitamins. If all their foods were made this way, Brisbane would be able to eat all but the chicken and lamb/chicken/salmon cans. Unfortunately, on closer examination, only the beef, pork, and salmon foods are poultry-free. The trout and lamb foods both contain duck liver, and the rabbit recipe has both duck and turkey in there. Nope.

Dog Food Advisor rates this food five our of five stars as a whole, but this beef can only merits 4.5 stars due to its high fat-to-protein ratio. This makes in more appropriate for a high-energy performance dog, and less appropriate for an older dog or one with pancreatitis.

The Company
dog food and dinosaurs

For those who did not grow up in the southwest and therefore speak pidgin Spanish by default, 'gatos' means 'cat'. I find their slogan interesting, because it uses a well-known food-woo term that sends up red flags for me as a fan of evidence-based claims. I mean, what exactly a hunter-gatherer society ate isn't exactly consistent. Also, dogs are kind of basically scavengers, which meant they were eating the non-optimal paleolithic leftovers and junk rather than prime cuts of mammoth steak. I mean, that's why we even have dogs in the first place.

Hound & Gatos describes their food as hypoallergenic, which is demonstrably false. Allergies to animal proteins are quite common, and their inclusion of various poultry ingredients makes several of their products unusable for my allergy dog. They also announce that they believe fluoridated water is partly to blame for dogs becoming ill. This is where my opinion of the company went from "pretty good" to "probably crazy". Let's face it, there is no credible, reliable scientific evidence that fluoridated water makes anyone sick. I can handle pet food companies making the appeal to nature and blathering on about what animals eat "in the wild", but straight up crazy conspiracy theory is where I draw the line.

Speaking of crazy, lets go back to that Dog Food Advisor page and scroll down to the comments at the bottom. Note that several have been deleted, with the moderator note below, 'Those with a vested interest in any product must publicly disclose this important information to others and always post using their real names. Your use of multiple identities as evidenced by your recent comments posted here using different names yet from the same computer is a violation of Our Commenting Policy "...the use of multiple identities or other deceptive tactics designed to mislead readers are strictly forbidden." Because you have violated this policy, your comments have been removed.'

So somebody from this company was making sock puppet accounts and using them to post multiple glowing reviews from seemingly unrelated parties. Below that are several suspiciously similar comments by various parties describing how Hound and Gatos food made their dog's coat nicer and gave them more energy. Pretty much every one of those comments says the same two things, and they were all made around the same time. I'm not sure why anybody thought this looked like legit PR for the company.

Additionally, several less sock-puppety users on Dog Food Advisor mentioned that they had attempted to contact the company with questions, but had not been able to reach anyone. The sock puppets replied that they had very good luck contacting the company and even spoke to the owner, which is the PR equivalent of going "nuh-uh!"

Bottom Line

This is a high-quality food. My dogs like it. In fact, it was the first thing I could get Sisci to willingly consume after her spay surgery. They make a couple of foods that seem safe for my allergy dog. Though they use co packer Performance Pet, this packer seems to have very high integrity. That said, the amount of woo on the website, and the fact that some part of their Public Relations department is or was staffed by someone with the foresight and maturity of a twelve-year-old, makes me feel a bit squicky about buying their products on a regular basis.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Product Review: Spunky Pup Fetch & Glow Ball

Spunky Pup's Fetch and Glow ball is a big, somewhat soft fetch toy that glows in the dark for nighttime play. It bounces and floats, and glows when charged under a light. There are assorted colors available, and these are made in the USA.
Spunky Pup glow in the dark fetch ball
Photo by Erin Koski

This is the softer, safer version of our Flash & Glow ball from the same company. It arrived in our October BarkBox, just in time for some evening games at the tennis court. The flashing light-up version was very hard, and I kept hitting the dogs with it in the dark. It was also super bright and destroyed the night vision of anyone that looked directly at it. BarkBox had sent us the Flash and Glow Junior version, which was on the small size for my heelers.

Red heeler with pink ball
Photo by Erin Koski

This glow-in-the-dark version is awesome. It's big enough that nobody is ever going to swallow it. Well, maybe a mastiff or a saint bernard, but they'd have to try really hard.

This is the standard glow in the dark sort of toy, it needs to be held right up to a lamp for a few minutes to make it glow, and it gradually fades back to regular color. This means it glows bright enough to spot but not bright enough to fry your retinas. It also means it glows continuously for a while, so it's easier to find after a wild throw.

Science Time!

Australian cattle dog plays fetch
Photo by Erin Koski
Why does this ball glow in the dark? Is it radioactive? Nope! It just contains some sort of phosphors. These are chemicals that absorb light energy and then emit it back as a soft glow. Zinc sulphide and strontium aluminate are the most common choices for making glowing toys. 

Pros: Floats! Glows! Big enough that a Great Dane won't choke on it! Made in the USA! Glows in the dark, but not too brightly. Much softer than the battery-powered light-up ball. Does not make the dogs yelp when I accidentally hit them with it.
Photo by Erin Koski
Cons: Doesn't glow incredibly brightly. Will eventually lose its glow-in-the-dark ability. Not a chew toy! Easy to destroy if your dog is a destructive type.

Bottom Line: Sisci and Brisbane don't like it as much as a genuine tennis ball, but it's the best thing for nighttime fetch.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Paw Spa: Happy Tails Spa Eye Pads

These Eye Pads from Happy Tails Spa are just what I need to keep Brisbane's tear stains under control. They are premoistened, and come in a little plastic jar just like my acne pads did when I was thirteen. Tear-free solution means I don't have to worry about getting too close to Brisbane's eyes, and the lavender smell is lovely.
premoistened tear stain wipes for dogs
Briz is not a fan.

Happy Tails Spa

This company bases their business on all-natural grooming products. We sell them at work, and I am in love with their Fur Butter conditioner. While I'm not one to fall for the appeal to nature fallacy, they do make some very nice-smelling and effective products.

How Do They Work?

The Eye Pads are soaked in a witch hazel solution that includes colloidal silver and various other plant-based substances that make it tear-free and easy to wet down fur with. The pads are round and kind of nubbly, exactly like the Oxy snd Noxema pads I used to use. Are those still around? The pad texture and solution make it very easy to get the dog's face fur very wet, and allow for some gentle scrubbing unlike smooth wipes. The pads are also infused with colloidal silver, which is supposed to inhibit microbial growth and help gradually clean chronic tearstains by preventing new hair from getting stained. .

Do They Actually Work?

I'm not dealing with chronic tearstains caused by allergies, deformities, or just plain bad breeding. What I am dealing with is a weepy eye caused by Brisbane's tumor, which is better or worse depending on the day. I know that constant wetness can create a perfect breeding ground for yeast and bacteria, so I'd like to keep his face as clean as possible.

I had long thought that products like this were a waste of money, and I could get the same effect with a washcloth and plain old water. These things are all about the convenience factor, right? I underestimated the convenience factor, these things are amazing. They mean the difference between daily routine face wiping and procrastination. So, so very convenient. I originally wasn't using them that often, and I expected the jar to dry out pretty quickly. Happily, they seem as great as they were the day they were opened. I also assumed they would run out almost immediately, but there's 50 in the jar so that's almost two months of eye wiping once a day.

So I don't really care if they're working because of antimicrobial silver and herbs, or because they're just kinda wet and scrubby. Happy Tails Eye Pads are amazing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Treat Tuesday: LootPets Galactic Snaps

These Galactic Snaps arrived in our very first Loot Pets box from Loot Crate. They are made from freeze-dried beef liver and nothing else, and that makes them awesome. These are the highest-value treats known to dogdom, and even my picky-eaters will take them in stressful situations. They can be chopped or crumbled into tiny tastes for trick training, and they are ideal for dogs with allergies to anything but beef.
Freeze dried liver dog treats

Good For: Training. Picky dogs. Allergy dogs. Nervous dogs. Highly-distracting situations. Chopping into tiny pieces and tossing with less-awesome treats to increase the awesome factor.

Not Good For: Long luxurious chewing sessions, or even quick crunching. They get inhaled.

How Much We Like Them: I had an enormous bag of PureBites freeze dried liver treats on the shelf, and I was still absolutely delighted to see these. So very, very awesome.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Product Review: Stibbar Leather Flat Utility Leash

My Flat Utility Leash from Stibbar Leather is my new favorite. This is the softest leather ever, no breaking in period required. It is light, supple, and easy to jam into a pocket despite being 6' long. The hardware is light and tiny, and the rings aren't heavy enough to bonk my dogs in the face. With three floating rings, two fixed rings, and a snap on either end, I can do anything with this Euro lead. Stibbar leads are custom made, with 15 different color options, multiple hardware choices, and six standard lengths. They seem to be willing to make pretty whatever you can dream up, too.
Stibbar soft leather utility leash
Photo by Erin Koski

I've tried out and reviewed dozens of collars and harnesses, but only a handful of leashes. This is because I am incredibly picky. Those adorable matching collar and leash sets do nothing for me because I really only love skinny leather leashes. The lighter and more supple, the better. I can't stand bulky leashes, and I hate heavy hardware.

Stibbar specializes in braided leather products. They offer everything from super-tiny show leads for toy breeds, to massive chunky leashes that can be used as lead ropes for horses. They also make collars, martingales, martingale leads, keychains, training tabs, and can probably make anything along these lines.
soft leather floating ring multifunction leash
Photo by Erin Koski

I love that the Stibbar site includes pictures and measurements of all their hardware and options. It allows you to go "Wow, this would be my dream leash with this minor change..." and then make that change and get The Perfect Leash. Granted, there's no single leash that is perfect for everyone, but Stibbar has so many options that it's possible to create something that solves whatever issues you have with your current gear.

My utility leash is made from 3/8" super-soft bullhide. It is made in three sections that are braided together, with a fixed ring at each braid. There are also fixed rings at either end just below the snaps.
double dog multifunction utility leash
Photo by Erin Koski
Each end has a snap, and then each of the three sections has a floating ring. This allows the leash to be used for two dogs at once. Clip a snap to a floating ring and it can be a slip leash. Unlike any other utility leash I've found, this one can be used as a slip leash for two dogs at once. It is also amazing for wearing around my waist or over my shoulder, and tethering my dog to things around the house.

Most of Stibbar's braided products use a lot of leather and run around $50 per piece. This flat leash is light and floppy and easy to gather up in my hand or stuff in my pocket. It is probably prone to stretching, but it doesn't see a lot of tension because I've taught my dogs to walk on loose leashes.

Pros: Super light, flexible, easy to stuff into a pocket. Really nice grippy feel with precision control. Double snaps mean it can be clipped to both rings on the Freedom and Balance harnesses, or to a head halter and harness as a backup. Lightweight hardware doesn't bonk sensitive dogs in the face. Looks brand new after several months of daily use. Strong enough to hold up to multiple days of lure coursing insanity.

Cons: Mostly just for smaller and well-behaved dogs, otherwise would need to be made with wider leather and heavier hardware. Definitely not chew-proof. A habitual puller would likely stretch it a lot.

Bottom Line: Super functional and just so pretty!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Our Goods of Desire Pet Hamper

This "pet hamper" by Goods of Desire apparently came all the way from Hong Kong before ending up in a California thrift shop. A friend picked it up for me because she thought it was from Japan, but I'm happy with a Ru-holder from a different bustling metropolitan Asian island nation. Tracking down the manufacturer was tricky because the name is abbreviated to GOD on all the logos and tags, and you can imagine what sort of things I came up with while googling 'GOD pet hamper'.

I think my favorite thing about this carrier is the rigid bottom. This is a bag in which a small dog can feel secure and stable. The exterior bottom is sturdy black vinyl that looks like it was actually intended to be set down on the ground outside. The interior is also black vinyl, with a removable cushion that velcroes in place.

This bag is open on either end, with snaps at the top to open the whole bag. There are pockets on each side, and one zippers shut. The straps adjust about three inches via buckles.

Overall the effect is a distinctive and unusual-looking bag. There are no bones or doggy-themed decorations on it, but the openings on the ends make it pretty obvious what this bag is for. I would call it a dog carrier or a dog purse, but the tag calls it a pet hamper.

Whilst searching for more information about this bag, I learned a bit about the G.O.D. brand. Goods of Desire is a company founded and based in Hong Kong. They sell clothes, home furnishings, and gifts. The brand is really all about Hong Kong, and various items feature culturally relevant scenes and slogans.

Once I found the manufacturer, I sort of assumed their products were available in US markets. It turns out they are really by and for the people of Hong Kong, and their stuff only pops up in US boutiques occasionally.

For anyone wondering, G.O.D.
apparently sounds like "to live better" in Cantonese. A lot of their products and slogans have double meanings in English, which I find hilarious. They seem pretty edgy, but I think they're celebration of their culture and history is pretty awesome. That said, they're currently having a "Ching Chong Sale" and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Food Friday: Alternative Protein Roundup, Pork Edition

My quest for Brisbane-safe foods has brought us a variety of pork-based treats and dog food over the nearly two years I've been blogging here. We've already summed up the venison- and rabbit-based goodies, so this week it's time to take a look at an often-overlooked alternative protein. I'm not a huge ham or sausage fan, but I think we can all agree that bacon is awesome. I even chop it into tiny pieces and toss it with various training treats to make them extra-awesome.

Why Aren't There More Pork-Based Dog Foods?
Red heeler with pink pig toy
Photo by Erin Koski

Chicken is by far the most common animal protein found in dog food, beef is the second most common, and lamb third in my own experience reading infinite ingredient labels. Pork is supposed to be a poor-man's meat, cheap and plentiful right? So why isn't everyone making dog food out of it?

The first reason I've heard for not feeding pork to dogs is trichinosis, or trichinellosis. This is a parasite transmitted through consumption of raw or undercooked meat of infected animals. The worms live in the muscles until the meat is eaten, then they are released to infect the new host. This used to be a major issue with pork in particular until laws passed in 1980, along with good food storage and handling practices like freezing pork for several weeks before cooking it. Today, trichinellosis is extremely rare, with around 20 cases reported annually in the United States according to the CDC. Most of these are not from consuming commercially-raised pork though, they are from eating raw or undercooked wild game meats.

The second reason I've heard for not feeding pork to dogs is because it supposedly causes pancreatitis. Given that Brisbane has eating tons of raw pork bones without developing it, I'm not terribly worried. The association mostly seems to be between dogs eating super-rich fat scraps and getting pancreatitis, and obviously pet food manufacturers are monitoring the fat and protein levels in their products. It mostly seems that some companies in the industry are leery of using pork just because of their customers' outdated or inaccurate information. This is actually a good thing though, because it means most dogs have never been fed pork, so it can be used as an alternative protein and part of an elimination diet.

Pork Dog Foods

It seems that some of the very best dog food companies use pork as an alternative protein. Primal offers pork-based versions of both their Nuggets and Pronto foods, and both of these use only pork and some veggies so they can be useful for helping sort out food sensitivities. Acana Singles Pork and Butternut Squash is the only kibble we've tried so far that only used pork protein.

Companies seem to be more likely to make canned foods out of pork, rather than kibble Wild Calling offers one that is just pork and vitamins to make it a complete diet. Fromm's Four Star Shredded Pork Entree is the most appetizing food we sell at work, if a dog won't eat that they won't eat anything. Nature's Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diets only offers a canned pork food, but offers a kibble variety for each of their other proteins. Natural Balance offers a wild boar and brown rice canned food, but no boar kibble. We got a carton of Caru Real Pork Stew in our November BarkBox.

Pork Dog Treats

All our favorite pork-based dog treats were discovered via BarkBox. The Bixbi Essentials Pork Jerky arrived in the 2014 December box. Two years ago we got some PetSafe Indigo Smokehouse Strips in our March box, last year we got some Healthy Dogma Bacon Hearts in the March Box. The August Box brought us some Wagatha's Maple Bacon Biscuits. Surprisingly, our favorite pork-based chew, the bacon-flavored Dogswell Boundless, did not come in a subscription box. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Product Review: Isle of Dogs Padded Leather Collar

Isle of Dogs makes lovely padded leather collars, in addition to super-fancy shampoos and tasty biscuits. These are thick, heavy, high-quality stitched leather with contrasting padding for a really gorgeous piece. Each comes lovingly packaged in an Isle of Dogs box. They are available in six colors and eight sizes to fit dogs with 10-24" necks, give or take about an inch and a half.
Photo by Erin Koski

Look at how pretty this collar is! It's even stamped with "Isle of Dogs" like an actual quality piece of leather. I was so pleased when it arrived, as for $25 I wasn't expecting something quite this nice.

I was once a horse-crazy little girl, and then a horse-crazy teenager, and then a young adult with a horse. I've always loved tack the same way I love dog gear. Some of my favorite collars are equestrian-inspired, and this one definitely fits with that theme. 

Pros: Thick, sturdy, well-made. Has a maker's mark. Nice solid stainless steel hardware. Garment leather padding is nice on sensitive skin and delicate coats.

Cons: Dogs aren't allowed to wear non-quick-release buckle collars at daycare where I work.

Bottom Line: I ordered a size 16, and it fits both Sisci and Brisbane.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Puzzle Toy Review: Nina Ottosson DogSpinny

This DogSpinny is one of the many board game-style puzzles by Nina Ottosson. These are basically the original dog games, I'm pretty sure she invented the concept and that other companies then copied her idea. I thnk they are the cutest puzzle games, and they are much higher quality than any of our others.
DogSpinny food game puzzle
Photo by Erin Koski

The red disc covers eight bone-shaped compartments, and has a single opening that lines up with those. A single white bone-shaped cover  sits in the opening and prevents the disc from turning until it has been removed.

On the bottom of the toy, there is a single screw that holds the two parts together. This can be loosened or tightened to change the difficulty level, or removed completely to take the puzzle apart for cleaning.

Nina Ottosson's website has a page of tips including the suggestion to fill the hollows with wet dog food and then freeze the base for a longer-lasting challenge. It was at this point I realized the puzzle must be designed to come apart, up until then I had only put dry food in it. Sisci is getting spayed today, so I will probably try out the frozen wet food idea soon. I expect a lot of our puzzles are going to be getting a lot of use during her recovery.

Puzzle Toy Review:

Capacity: 3/5
Fits about 2 cups of food.

Loading Speed: 2/5
Dump 1/4 cup of kibble in a hole, spin the disc a bit, dump 1/4 cup of kibble in the next hole, spin the disc...

Unloading Speed (standard dog): 5/5
This is a Level 1: Easy puzzle from Nina Ottosson, but it breaks newbie brains. They often need a break before they empty the whole thing.

Unloading Speed (superdog): 4/5
At least the first few times, the process has been lengthy and labor-intensive for Brisbane.

Size: 4/5
The bone cover is light, and the disc can be loosened so it spins freely. This makes it suitable for the smallest dogs. Anything smaller than a giant breed ought to be able to get the food out of the hollows reasonably well, but I don't think a Saint Bernard would be able to use this one.

Durability: 3/5
The DogSpinny is made from a slightly-flexible plastic that bends instead of cracking under stress. This means it should hold up well to being shot into walls by enthusiastic puzzle-solvers. 

Noise: 5/5
That same material means it doesn't clatter nearly as much as the cheap, hard plastic puzzles. 

Locatability: 5/5
This is a supervision-only toy, so they never have a chance to shove it under the couch.

Washability: 5/5
Ok, I've had this thing for at least a year, and didn't realize it came apart until today. There's no uncleanable-spaces in it, and it's even dishwasher-safe. Crazy.

Versatility: 5/5
The adjustable disc and light pieces mean this puzzle can be used by small animals like rats, ferrets, and rabbits. The fact that it can be opened and sterilized means it can be used by Xhuuya the raven, and other animals that tend to get their toys really egregiously dirty.

Total: 36/50

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Australian Cattle Dogs Are Monsters, You Don't Want One

Australian cattle dogs basically the worst breed ever. They are so bitey their urge to bite is wired to their spines somewhere before their brains so sometimes they short-circuit and just start biting whatever's in range. They have an unreal amount of energy, and working dogs will often run several miles behind a horse or vehicle just to get to the place they'll be working for the day. They are independent and freakishly intelligent, and will find problems to solve that you didn't even know existed. Cattle dogs are suspicious and often outright aggressive towards unfamiliar people and things, and treat everything as a potential threat. They bite people they don't like, they also bite people they do like. They bite out of affection. They bite when overstimulated. They bite. They bite. They bite.
Devils, I tell you.
Photo by Erin Koski

Why the Scare Tactics?

I was recently part of a dog breed discussion in which someone asked for breed recommendations that fit these criteria:
  • Moderate energy level
  • Intelligent and obedient
  • Agility competitor
  • Very low shedding
  • Neat/not slobbery
  • Great with children
Soon the breed recommendations were pouring in, mostly for very low-shedding breeds like poodles, schnauzers, and Chinese cresteds. However, a few people suggested border collies and Australian shepherds. When it was pointed out that these are, in fact, typically considered high-energy, moderate- to severe-shedding, child-herding breeds, some of these people stuck to their guns. Their logic was basically that their own dog doesn't shed that much, loves their kids, and is pretty mellow, and their friend's border collie is the same way so they sort of fit the criteria. Honestly, it was a bit like these people only saw "intelligent and obedient" and "agility competitor" on the list.

I am perplexed by this attitude, the same way I am perplexed when anyone instantly blurts out their favorite breed whenever someone asks for breed suggestions. There are a whole lot of different dog breeds out there, and no single breed is a perfect fit for everything.

I've found that most people who are very active in herding breed rescue tend to do the opposite, and try to scare people away from their favorite breed. When someone thinks they want a Queensland heeler, I want them to be prepared for the very worst of the breed. Sure, they're not all literally possessed by demons, but many are pretty awful compared to the common pet breeds. What I don't want is for someone to take the advice of a friend who owns an atypical fat, lazy, child-loving blue heeler, and end up with a turbo-charged, child-herding, perpetual motion machine.

Do Your Worst.

Herding dogs are not for everyone, particularly the most intense working breeds. A large number of the Australian cattle dogs that end up in rescue do so because they were a bad fit for their first home. They were destructive out of boredom. They bit the neighbor. They herd the children. The original owners and possibly even a succession of owners were expecting an average dog and ended up with an average ACD instead. I think the more we cattledog people play up their bad side, the fewer people will decide to bring one home in the first place. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Product Review: Outward Hound PoochPouch Sling

The Outward Hound PoochPouch Sling is a cross-body bag for your small dog, cat, ferret, chicken, bearded dragon, or whatever else you'd like to keep right at your hip. The pouch measures 23" long, 13" wide, and 3" tall. It has a harness clip inside, as well as a buckle across the  middle to keep the long sides from flopping open. The shoulder strap is adjustable and has a quick-release buckle. My PoochPouch Sling is black, I've also seen them in blue.
Outward Hound PoochPouch Sling in action
Photo by Erin Koski

This is a very basic, utilitarian dog-holder that I find to be neither stylish, nor terribly functional. The bottom is not rigid at all, so the dog has no secure place to rest their feet. The pouch is long and shallow, and even with the gathered sides it's a bit difficult to keep Ru from flopping out. The chunk plastic harness clip is too big for the hardware on a lot of toy breed gear.

That said, it's better than nothing. If public transport rules require you to carry your pet in a bag, this will do. It's quite a long pouch, I can even fit 30 lb. Sisci in it with some effort.

Pros: Fits larger-size pets than most carriers. Wide shoulder strap distributes pressure. Basic black no-frills sling does not attract attention to the fact that you're schlepping something alive.

Cons: Requires a fair amount of cooperation on the part of the occupant. Low sides and floppy construction mean I don't feel safe using this as a hands-free dog carrier.

Bottom Line: I can see this carrier being useful to someone, somewhere. I already have entirely too many Ru-holders, however, so will be passing this along.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Five Bad Behaviors I Reward My Dogs For

Good dog training involves not rewarding unwanted behaviors, right? This is what I thought for years, and when Brisbane and I were doing UKC obedience trials it was what I focused on. Each week we'd attend a practice with half a dozen other handlers. Between exercises, most of the other dogs would sit or lay quietly, casually keeping an eye on their handler. Mine had his nose glued to the ground and at times seemed completely oblivious to my presence. I would ask Brisbane to watch me, to sit or lay down, to stay, to STOP SNIFFING ALREADY! It was a nonstop parade of cues, treats, and then Briz resuming whatever it was he had been doing. I usually ran out of treats before the end of class, and he never got any better.

Sisci is the most spirited cattle dog
Photo by Erin Koski
Ten years later, Sisci and I are taking an agility class. With time and experience on my side, I'm taking the exact opposite approach and rewarding the behaviors I don't want. I've found this works incredibly well, both in group classes and in everyday life. By the end of any given class, Sisci is focused on me, tuning out the environment, and so relaxed she chooses to lay down and rest.

Here are five completely counterintuitive things I reward my dogs for:

1. Barking and growling at people. 

Sisci is unsure about most people, and her first response to someone breaching her comfort zone is to warn them away. Agility class is held inside a fenced field within a larger park, and there are lots of people in sight for her to worry about when she's not zooming through tunnels or sailing over 8" jumps (or sailing over tunnels when she's feeling particularly creative). Instead of asking her to look away from the scary people by asking for her attention, I mark and reward her staring and woofing. A few treats later, she is much more interested in playing this game than angsting about that rogue human on the sidewalk.

2. Freaking out at other dogs. 

As above, the only reason Sisci screams and snaps at other dogs is because she they make her nervous. Instead of asking her to look at me, I mark and reward her fixating on the other dog. Whether it's a passing dog in the park or a super-snappy border collie doing victory laps after a jump sequence, the anxiety-producing situation becomes a cue for cookies and a good reason to focus on me.

3. Pulling on leash. 

Annie tests a no-pull harness
Photo by Erin Koski
Believe it or not, most dogs don't even seem aware that they are pulling on leash. They know they
want to go in a particular direction, and they know you sometimes get annoyed and stop, pull back, yank, or make them change directions. What they don't know is that leash tension is the specific trigger for these behaviors in their human. I like to use a clicker to mark leash tension, and then run backwards so the dog has to zoom back to me for their treat. It's a lot of fun to see a dog have a lightbulb moment when they suddenly realize that pulling is what causes this celebration. Most people think this should result in a dog that pulls like a freight train, but instead it creates a dog that is both acutely aware of leash tension and tuned in to the person on the other end. Once the dog knows how the game works, they understand how to investigate all the wonderful smells without hitting the end of the leash.

4. Pestering the cats. 

Young Brisbane tolerating cat
Actually, I try to mark and reward merely noticing the cats, before the dogs get really interested. Cats are weird, creepy little freaks. They make all sorts of funky noises, they move erratically and seemingly without direction or reason, yet they are clearly recognizable as sentient beings rather than furry jellyfish. We make our dogs live with the pet equivalent of schizophrenic hobos and expect them to mind their manners even when the other guy defies all social conventions. A whole lot of dogs learn to politely tolerate a range of bizarre cat behaviors without ever feeling truly at ease about the whole situation. To help my dogs relax when cats are being cats, I routinely reward them when someone is climbing the drapes, racing from room to room, or hissing in their face At first they get a cookie just for seeing a cat, or hearing cats thunder around the house.

5. Jumping up on people. 

This isn't the same for every dog, but I actually like to see Sisci jump up on people. She's quite leery of strangers, and right now it's only reasonable to expect her to exist in their vicinity. Ignoring them is fine, actual interaction is usually too much pressure. Very occasionally, while I'm casually conversing with someone, Sisci will cautiously stand up and put her front paws on them. This is the least-threatening way she has found to interact with a scary new person, and doesn't cause them to loom over her. So far she has only done this with some of my trainer friends, who totally understand what a big step it is. Brisbane can be an impolite greeter and sometimes wants to clobber people with his feet, but I'm happy to see Sisci attempt any greeting at all. We'll work on polite greeting when it happens more often.