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Author Topic: Hi! my name is Craig  (Read 6946 times)
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southjerseycraig
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« on: October 27, 2015, 05:43:47 PM »

fluffnewhere My name is Craig and I live in Cherry Hill, New Jersey (not far from Philadelphia) in the United States. I do not have a bichon frise. I am seriously considering acquiring one when I retire in a few years. (I work full-time now and live alone, so it wouldn't be fair to have a bichon now.) I am attracted to the breed because bichons at their best have wonderful personalities and make great companions.

I have been hanging around this board for some weeks, and have learned a lot. I'd like to learn more before I commit myself to be a fluff's life partner.

I have never owned a dog before, and so I think I would be overwhelmed by a puppy, as wonderful as a puppy is. So I'm inclined to look for an adult to adopt. There is a bichon rescue group not far from me, and it almost always has interesting bichons. In almost all cases, it seems, the dog is being given up because the owner(s) can no longer take care of the dog, not because of anything wrong with the dog.

My biggest concern is about  grooming. I see the beautifully-coiffed fluffs in the photos in the signatures. I doubt that I could produce or maintain that look. So I am interested in what maintenance would be required for a fluff with a puppy cut (sometimes called a lamb cut), and how to keep that look nice.

If you don't mind, I will have many further questions to ask. It's great being here!

Craig
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Freedom (Sandie)
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2015, 09:03:52 PM »

Hello Craig,  fluffwelcome

So you have been lurking, huh?   Laughing  Glad you finally posted.

I'm Sandie.  I live in Mass. 

When you say you see all the beautifully coiffed bichons in the siggies, well, you can't mean mine!  Mine are short short, with a short face, no beard, no mustache, lol.

All my bichons stay in the pet cut.  I do not do any brushing.  I may have to do a touch up with a damp paper towel when someone rolls in something nice and stinky, but that is going to happen no matter which cut the fluff is in.  I groom them myself, bought all the professional equipment.  I groom them about once every 4 to 5 weeks.  Every other one is a complete trim; the in between one is just a touch ups, eye, face, paw pads as needed, sanitary.  So they get a bath (shampoo and conditioner), blow dry and trim or touch up.  I'm not sure how that works when taking the pup to a groomer, but I can tell you it will be the same fee both times.  Around here, it is $65 per bichon. 
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southjerseycraig
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2015, 09:13:34 PM »

Thanks, Sandie! Yes, I had noticed your fluffs and saw that their hair was short.  Thanks for letting me know how you do it. I do not think I could groom the dogs the way you do, but I am willing to pay the groomer to do it although I think prices around here are higher than the ones you mention. In fact, the groomer will make a lot of money off me -- I'm not even sure that my manual dexterity is up to trimming nails without hurting the dog. Having to pay doesn't bother me because it's just part of the price for having a dog and for having unspectacular dexterity. I'd rather pay than hurt the dog out of clumsiness.

Thanks again. I have read a fair number of your posts and have found them very helpful -- and found some, like the one about Frankie, to be very funny!
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darwinsmom (Chris)
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2015, 11:15:14 PM »

Hi, Craig. I consider Darwin's grooming to be a compromise. I really love the round head, but keep the rest of his body and legs short. That way, I only have to comb his head a few times a week and brush his tail. I haven't seen it be mentioned in this thread, but I think most of us bathe our bichons every 1-2 weeks. And, they really should be dried after with a blow dryer. I cut Darwin's hair myself. The groomer in our area charged $50, but couldn't do the round head, so I taught myself with the help of the wonderful people on this board. It took about a year to get it consistently how I like it, but it's worth it to me to be able to do it myself and have him look how I prefer. That's a very individual thing, though. I still have family that wish I would leave his ears long and cut his face short! To each his own.

Good luck whatever you decide!
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susie l
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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2015, 01:10:21 AM »

Hi Craig.....I'm in the suburbs of Philly and yes even a Petco will be closer to $100....and more likely than not your Bichon would probably wind up with a Poodle face like mine did...lol   I now home groom Olivia similar to Chris.... round head and short body... ..bout every 5 to 6 weeks but, her grooming table and accompanying paraphernalia seem to permanently live in my living room......

Even though I groom Olivia myself, I take her to the Vet,  for nail clipping by the techs.... Its about $15 and a lot less traumatic for both of us.  Pet Smart/Petco will also do just nails/and/ or sanitary trim about the same price.

 Olivia is good about grooming and trimming----all except the dryer.... I use a metro dryer and I still haven't figured out how to dry her head without her freaking out.......otherwise it goes pretty smoothly......

Nice to know you are responsibly doing your homework before making this decision.......



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Freedom (Sandie)
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2015, 09:13:18 AM »

I also pay for nails, about once a month.  Nope, not going to do that myself.  Not with these rescues!

Susie, hold the dryer at least 15 inches from the head, and only from the back (work your way up from the back so she knows it is coming).  Smear some peanut butter on the groomer's arm for her to lick at.  If she keeps licking, you know you have the dryer far enough back.  If she stops, back it off some more.  Nice thing about this is, you don't have to have extendable arms yourself!  USE the tools you have, make THEM work ha haaa.
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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2015, 09:28:40 AM »

Thanks to all of you for your advice! I hope others will comment as well. Chris, I've always admired the way Darwin looks. I don't think I can do the round head, and I guess I'd have to shop pretty extensively among groomers to find one who will actually make the bichon's face  look like a bichon.  It's interesting to know that there are people beside me who are leery of doing the nails (and Sandie, I understand your point about rescues, who may not have been trained to accept grooming.)

Susie, is your bichon a rescue or did you get him/her as a puppy? Is there a responsible breeder in the  Philadelphia area? I don't think I'd go the puppy route, but it would be interesting to talk to a breeder.

Again, I hope others will comment as well.
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Chesters Mom
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2015, 11:59:59 AM »

I don't use a groomer.  I trim Chester myself.  Does he look like a show dog?  No.  Does he care?  No.  He does kinda look like a stuffed animal. We live on a busy street and people have rolled down their car windows to tell me how cute he is, so I guess I do OK with trimming.  I use a round tipped scissors and just trim whatever area needs it.  I can trim him by myself for the most part.  He doesn't like me to touch his feet.  And it takes two people to trim around his eyes.  I do let the vet trim his nails. 

I took him to the groomer twice.  The first time he had nasty razor burn and then the groomer scolded me because I waited too long to bring him to her.  She told me he would be fearful now because I waited so long.  She never thought he would be scared because she hurt him.  So then I tried a different groomer.  She wanted to shave his ears because he had a knot on one of them.  I picked him up without being groomed, trimmed out the knot with a scissors and wondered why the groomer didn't have any scissors to use.

Chester gets a bath about every 1-2 weeks.  I check for knots before the bath and also trim if needed.  His fur does seem to grow fast.  So, if you make a mistake you won't even notice in a couple weeks.
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southjerseycraig
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2015, 12:06:40 PM »

Thanks, Chester's Mom! Frolm lurking on the site, I gather that finding a good groomer is hard. No doubt the groomer wants to get finished as quickly as possible,  and will not take the time to do, for instance, extensive scissoring.  I do feel capable of at least trying to bathe a small dog, but I'm sure that there's no guarantee that a rescue will be cooperative. I get the sense from lurking that even dogs who have been with the owner since puppyhood may not be cooperative.  This is an issue I'd need to think about.
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Chesters Mom
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2015, 04:32:17 PM »

Chester is such a gentle little thing that giving him a bath really isn't a problem.  He doesn't really like it and he does try to hide when he knows it's bath time,  but I don't have any problems once he is in the bathtub.  Hates having his face washed, though.  After the final rinse he puts his front feet on the side of the tub and waits for me to dry his face and front feet with a towel.  Then I just pick him up, let him drip for a few seconds, and then dry the rest of him with a towel.  The whole bath probably takes less then 15 minutes.
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southjerseycraig
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2015, 04:55:43 PM »

Thanks, Chester's Mom! Is the towel drying enough to dry Chester sufficiently so that he doesn't try to rub  himself dry on your furniture and rugs? I've assumed from lurking that a power dryer is necessary to get a bichon dry. And do you have any theory as to why he dislikes having his face cleaned? I would think that washing the face is necessary, and that  "no-tears" cleaners are available. And I assume you have to brush and de-tangle before the bath -- how long does that take you? Thanks again!
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Freedom (Sandie)
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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2015, 05:26:05 PM »

Thanks, Chester's Mom! Is the towel drying enough to dry Chester sufficiently so that he doesn't try to rub  himself dry on your furniture and rugs? I've assumed from lurking that a power dryer is necessary to get a bichon dry. And do you have any theory as to why he dislikes having his face cleaned? I would think that washing the face is necessary, and that  "no-tears" cleaners are available. And I assume you have to brush and de-tangle before the bath -- how long does that take you? Thanks again!

1.  Not all dogs rub on the furniture and rugs to dry.  Some do, some don't.  I'm not sure how you can learn this in advance.   My Riley would LOVE to, but since I use the dryer, she can't, lol.

2.  The 'power dryer' comment - important to note, these are high velocity dryers WITH NO HEATING ELEMENT.  Forced air dryers, NOT forced hot air dryers.

3.  Towel drying is going to give the curly coat.  If you want the straight coat, you have to use a dryer.

4.  I keep mine short and I do not have to brush / detangle before a bath.  My first step is: In the Sink You Go!  If I do see a mat I will cut it off, that happens any day not just bath day.  But I don't see them, because the dogs are in short coats.  ( The one exception was Frankie under his belly band, I let his puppy coat grow.  Even then, I didn't deal with it first, as I knew I was going to have to shave them off.)

Mine are in and out of the sink in 7 minutes of less.  That includes: get the dog wet, apply the shampoo, rinse, apply the conditioner, let it sit a bit and rinse thoroughly. 

The time under the dryer is the longest part, then the trimming.  I can easily have one of mine under the dryer for 30 to 45 minutes.  And I will postpone spa day if it is a high humidity day.  (NOT in summer as the a/c keeps the house humidity low).
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« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2015, 05:32:27 PM »

Thanks, Sandie! Since you have so many critters, I'm sure  you've had to learn lots of ways of doing things efficiently! And I'm sure the fluffs appreciate getting out of the the sink quickly. I'll remember that drying takes a significant amount of time.
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« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2015, 06:34:52 PM »

Hi Craig and welcome.  I confess that my bichon frises go to the groomers every 6 weeks and love going. Our groomers are absolutely super doing what is required and charging accordingly.  If they are knotted I pay more - I am in the UK and there are vastly differing standards and costs.  Ours is a sort of middling one if you know what I mean.  Our Bolognese goes every 3 weeks gulp - and we just don't think about the cost.  I have never cut them but can manage a bath and dry if it is necessary.  Mind they are all getting on now and don't exactly frolic in the mud.  The boys love the fuss of brushing etc but Poppy!  A nightmare.

Lots to think about and loads of helpful advice on the forum. Enjoy
Pam
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southjerseycraig
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« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2015, 06:41:36 PM »

Judging from the pictures, Pam, your fluffs are very well-groomed. I'm glad you found someone good. I would think I could do the same somewhere in the metropolitan area.

I have heard that "four to six weeks" is a good rule of thumb for bichons that are cut short. But the heads of yours look more flowing than that, so it's good to know that as much as six weeks can work.

Yes, the forum contains much helpful advice, and I am glad I found it. I have benefited from some of the older threads -- for instance, on potty training. Bichons have a negative reputation that way, so I've been trying to find out all I can about it.
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« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2015, 07:21:05 PM »

 Welcome Craig,
Happy to hear you are interested in rescue AND that you are doing research BEFORE getting a pup.  I think you'll find the curlier the bichon the more labor intensive their grooming will be.  When Bullett was younger (got him at age 3-4 yr) he had curly hair on legs,head and back but 6 yrs later it has thinned/become very fine and he is mostly wavy or straight.  I don't think he is full Bichon.  Easy to care for tho.  Coco has dense tight curly hair that takes forever to comb out each day so he is kept short. 

During their bath time they are trimmed around their privates, eyes & ears, brush their teeth, clean & pluck ears.  They both stand better in the sink than they do on a counter or table and the height suits my back better.  Mine get bathed every 1-2 weeks.  Bullett is a biter so I do him and thought $50 was too high after paying for Coco to go to the groomers so do him myself now too.  Guess $50 is cheap compared to what everyone else is paying.  Bath time takes about 30 - 45 mins each. Bullett will start snapping at fast movements so I move slowly around him and Coco was never groomed by his previous owner and gives me a look of indignation anytime I touch a comb to him or plop him down in the sink!  I try to make it more pleasant for him too.

Bullett was my only pup until I got Coco this past December.  He has never minded being home alone while I work (4 miles from home) but I do come home for the lunch hour.  He actually seems to be happy to use my time at work to rest up since he doesn't nap at all when I'm home.   Coco on the other hand lays by the door I leave from until I come back home. He sleeps most of his days away whether I'm home or not.   If you worked close to home & can give one a mid day break you might do ok with adopting now.  They really are wonderful little companions.  My job is extremely stressful dealing with escalated customers all day but the minute I walk through the door they make all that stress go away.   fluffhug
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southjerseycraig
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« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2015, 08:04:53 PM »

Thanks for all the info on your two. Stress relief -- yes, that is what a pet can bring despite all the work needed to keep the pet happy and healthy.

I think it's great that you can come home for lunch. My understanding is that bichons should be left alone for no more than four hours a time. (Maybe you can do a bit better because your two fluffes can keep each other company.) This is why I don't want to get a bichon until I am retired, or at least in a work situation where I need not be away for hours at a time.
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Freedom (Sandie)
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« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2015, 09:54:47 AM »

When the dog is under the dryer, you are not just standing there, counting ceiling tiles, lol.  You are brushing out the coat to straighten it.  The ONLY way the coat can be properly trimmed (using either electric clippers or scissors) is by having the hair straight.

Since you have been reading many posts on here, I imagine you have been to the Bichon Informtation Station; but I will provide the link here just in case.  The top is medical stuff just scroll down, there is a ton of info on there as well.  Including how to  house train.  Yes,, bichons can often take until 18 months to house train.

http://bichonfriseusa.com/
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« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2015, 10:07:21 AM »

many thanks, Sandie. There seems to be a lot of variation among owners in how long it takes to house-train a bichon. Some claim to have done it in a few days! But my impression has been that for many owners it takes longer. Some say their bichons never became 100% house-trained.

Let me add two related questions about house-training:

1. It is my understanding that bichons are quite reluctant to go outside when it is raining or snowing. (This may be just as well considering that if the dob does go out, a bath is going to be necessary.) So I would imagine that an owner always has to have a place to put puppy pads. Correct?

2. I know of one breeder who trains puppies to use a dog litter box, and some say that an adult can be taught -- after some months -- to use a dog litter box. Has anybody successfully gone this route?

Thanks to everyone for their responses.
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« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2015, 01:46:54 PM »

Sandie-- Thanks for the peanut butter tip.... going to try it this afternoon..

Craig ---My best advise to you is to go to the Philadelphia National dog show that starts Saturday November 14, 2015 and ends Sunday.  Its in Oaks Pa...Its just outside King of Prussia....   It is a benched show which means you can wander back there,  see the dogs close up and talk to reputable breeders and get alot of info.  Some of them do have pet quality as well as show and may occasionally have an older dog.  You'll need the schedule though because some of the dogs are judged Sat and some Sunday and some pretty early in the day....I don't know if they are required to stay after the judging.

As for how I got Olivia -I had called Estelle Kellerman at Windstar kennels on Long Island NY. and asked if she had an older dog.   My sister and I had gotten bichons from her before.  I really did'nt think I could go through puppyhood again although, I have lovely memories.  She didn't have any older dogs but she happened to know of another breeder that concentrated on a different breed that had Olivia----She had been returned because the people decided " they weren't dog people".  I got her at 2 yrs paper trained and missing an important socialization period...oh, and not a clue how to play---but the most incredibly loving dog I've ever had.

 My first bichon a female, was housebroken in a few days.   Olivia for the most part does her business outdoors, but I always keep a pad next to the litterbox (yes, I have 2 cats).   On the beginning I thought it might have been confusing for her but with the heavy snow we get I didn't want to completely break the puppypad habit---and yes Bichons don't like to get their feet wet..lol

I wouldn't assume most rescues are not going to be tolerant of grooming.  Bichons as well as Poodles are introduced very early to life at the groomer.   I think you have been referring to Delaware Valley Bichon rescue and I would think that they could get some Senior surrenders....Dogs that were well taken care of and greatly loved till things went South.... 
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southjerseycraig
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« Reply #20 on: October 31, 2015, 05:26:27 PM »

Susie, thanks for all of that information. Yes, Bichon Valley Rescue has dogs of a variety of ages, and usually the surrender wasn't caused by the dog's behavior. (At least that's what they say; usually the reason is that the owner can no longer take care of the fluff.)  I'm glad to hear you've had good house-training experiences. It sounds like a great idea to keep pads around for the wet days.
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Freedom (Sandie)
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« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2015, 10:26:13 AM »

Let me add two related questions about house-training:

1. It is my understanding that bichons are quite reluctant to go outside when it is raining or snowing. (This may be just as well considering that if the dob does go out, a bath is going to be necessary.) So I would imagine that an owner always has to have a place to put puppy pads. Correct?

2. I know of one breeder who trains puppies to use a dog litter box, and some say that an adult can be taught -- after some months -- to use a dog litter box. Has anybody successfully gone this route?

Thanks to everyone for their responses.

Going out in bad weather does not mean a bath is required; just dry their feet, perhaps.  I don't use pee pads.  I herd them out.  Sure they run out, pee and run back in, but at least they go OUTSIDE he heee.  YOU have to be the pack leader.  Firm, positive reinforcement (a treat ready on the return inside).  Bichons are VERY good at manipulation, be sure YOU are strong enough to handle one!  I don't mean physically.  I mean, you have to be the pack leader, and not leave a vacuum for them to fill.  A good book to read on this topic:  The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell.  You can
find it at the library.

Also, since my boys are in belly bands indoors, a pee pad would not serve any purpose for them.

Never used a litter box.

Susie, doesn't your dog go in the cat litter box and eat the "tootsie rolls?"  Dogs should never have access to either cat food or cat litter boxes.

Sandie-- Thanks for the peanut butter tip.... going to try it this afternoon..
. . . .
I wouldn't assume most rescues are not going to be tolerant of grooming.  Bichons as well as Poodles are introduced very early to life at the groomer.   I think you have been referring to Delaware Valley Bichon rescue and I would think that they could get some Senior surrenders....Dogs that were well taken care of and greatly loved till things went South.... 


I hope the peanut butter helped some!

Correct,  not all rescues hate grooming.  It depends on the dog's background.  My RB Marlin was age 8 when he came to me.  His first owner took him to the groomer twice a year.  Needless to say, he was totally matted and had to be shaved down.  He HATED grooming, would holler and scream until he was hoarse, try to jump off the table.   My RB Sugar was a retired gal from a responsible groomer.  She loved the massage experience.  My current gal Tasha is a puppy mill rescue, born and raised in a cage in Missouri, used to produce puppies for pet stores.  She was rescued at age 4 years 10 months.  So that is when she had her first ever grooming session.  Treats have helped me get her used to it; I also have to give her a calming remedy prior to any grooming. 

And it makes sense that most of the mature dogs in rescue, the owner could no longer provide care.  Being companion dogs, many are owned by the elderly.  Once the person moves to a nursing home, or assisted living, or dies, then if no one in the family wants the dog, it ends up in rescue.  Often the family has no idea what a lovely breed this dog can be, they just see the mess it has become, and they have to deal with the human family member; so taking on a dog as well is just too much.
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« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2015, 11:39:04 AM »

Sandie, thank you for your very sensible advice. The issue of being "strong enough" is one on my mind because I have never lived with a dog. I have one of Patricia McConnell's books, and intend to read the one you mention. She sounds very competent and I trust her much more than what I read on the internet.
But I do think I need to spend more time with dogs of all ages and breeds.

Every bichon has his or her own personality and background, and so I'm not surprised that reactions to grooming vary.
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« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2015, 06:52:43 PM »

Sandie---I think I need that Groomers helper that you suggested on another thread.  I put the peanut butter on the arm, but when she's anxious she has no interest in treats....And she was twirling and backing up almost into the peanut butter   (I should have put the peanut butter higher on the arm)..... I took her down, gave us both a break (I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich...lol) and let the remainder of her head dry naturally.

Yes you are right about the cat cookies....I had that problem at my sister's house when I had first gotten her.  At my sister's house I keep her out of the litter box area, but, she's scared of my covered litter box and has never attempted to go in.
     
Mind you, cat vomit is a more difficult issue for me and seems to be quite a delicacy for her  vomit....lol

More than you ever wanted to know.....right Craig? sick crazy

No problem keeping Olivia out of the cat food......----Cats eat on a table.
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« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2015, 07:30:29 PM »

Susie, these are exactly the kind of things I do want to know. The tootsie roll problem must be especially difficult if the cat won't use a covered litter box.
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« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2015, 04:45:42 PM »

Oh goodness, just what you needed, a clean doggie backing into peanut butter!

I imagine you have tried Rescue Remedy and Composure chews to help calm her.

Susie, these are exactly the kind of things I do want to know. The tootsie roll problem must be especially difficult if the cat won't use a covered litter box.

Not a problem; I have baby gates across the rooms with cat food / litter boxes in them.  I step over the gates, the cats jump in and out, the dogs have no access.

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« Reply #26 on: November 02, 2015, 07:21:07 PM »

So I take it that bichons are *not* high-jump champions!
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Freedom (Sandie)
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« Reply #27 on: November 03, 2015, 05:06:57 PM »

So I take it that bichons are *not* high-jump champions!

Ha ha haa, no they are not.  Think "brick on block" build for these dogs.  The closer the dog is to the 'standard,' the more that brick is square.  Most of mine are true brick shaped - long blocky bodies on short legs.  For Agility, most do an 8 inch jump.  A few are in the 12 inch.   



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« Reply #28 on: November 03, 2015, 06:23:08 PM »

I know that with poodles "square" is the standard; I didn't realize that bichons are supposed to come as close as possible. (It's hard for me to imagine a square bichon!) Obviously one does not want too long a body -- I would think that would cause back troubles -- but square is a little bit much to ask.
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Freedom (Sandie)
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« Reply #29 on: November 04, 2015, 09:26:03 AM »

Can't find it at the moment; but somewhere, there is a chart with the AKC standard.  The height from floor to top of shoulders is 9 to 11 inches.  The length is not more than 1.5 times that.  So at a 9 inch height, the length along the back, base of neck to base of tail, should not be more than 13.5 inches.  Pretty close to square.  Boxy for sure.
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« Reply #30 on: November 09, 2015, 09:42:48 PM »

Sandie, you're pretty much right-- as usual. I'm looking at the AKC standard right now. It says for the bichon that "The body from the forward most point of the chest to the point of rump is one-quarter longer than the height at the withers. The body from the withers to lowest point of chest represents half
the distance from withers to ground." It's very different from the poodle, for which the length from breastbone to rump is supposed to approximate the height at the withers.
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Freedom (Sandie)
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« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2015, 09:18:57 AM »

 nodding
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