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Bronco's Adventures

Rollo Rolls In

Bronco grew up with several other dogs, a Labrador (Baylor), a German Shepherd (Baby), a Japanese Chin (Ryu), a Pug (Daisy), and finally a mini-Australian Shepherd Rollo. The book also describes some of the adventures of Bronco’s siblings and his interactions with them. This post is focused on Rollo and Bronco’s great patience with Rollo.

Picture of a mini-Australian Shepherd puppy on grass.
A frightened puppy at his new home.
Mini-Australian puppy on blanket.
None of us could resist Rollo when he was a young pup.
Bronco the Leonberger and his new little mini-Australian puppy.
Bronco and Rollo

Six months after the passing of our Japanese Shin Ryu, we decided to get another dog. Rachel really wanted a miniature Australian shepherd, so we got one from a breeder in East Texas. We named him Rollo, after the Viking who was the first ruler of Normandy. In 885–86 CE, Rollo led the Viking siege of Paris but was fended off by Odo, the count of Paris. Our Rollo may not have been quite as brave as the medieval Rollo (or Odo), but he was cute and full of energy.

Rollo was not a big puppy, and at the beginning he was afraid of everything and everyone. However, he quickly warmed up to both Daisy and Bronco, and he was potty trained quickly. Rachel was the one who did most of the training: she stayed with him at night and put a bell on the door to the backyard, which he rang whenever he wanted to go outside. Every time he went, he got a little treat and praise afterward. It made him happy and proud.

We also tried to take him for walks, but he did not understand the concept right away. He would lie down on his back or stand on his hind legs and stretch his paws up, wanting to be carried. So we held him in our arms as we walked him around the neighborhood with the other dogs. He was happy up there in our arms, and he contentedly chewed on his leash and harness.

But even after he started walking on his own four feet, he was still a bit anxious and easily frightened. If we saw a cat, we had to turn around and walk straight back home. If we heard a truck engine-braking on the main road a quarter mile away, we had to turn around and walk straight back home. If we saw a man with a little dog, we had to turn around and walk straight back home. If we heard a duck quacking, we had to run for our lives back home. Ducks make strange sounds that can be very scary to little puppies. Whenever we walked or ran back home, I was right behind him as he pulled the leash.

There was one thing Rollo was not afraid of, and that was Bronco. Bronco was the biggest dog Rollo had ever seen—not to mention the biggest dog many people had ever seen—yet Rollo was continually testing Bronco’s patience. One time Rollo and I were sitting on the sofa, and Bronco was sleeping at our feet. Suddenly I saw Rollo stepping off the sofa and onto Bronco’s back, then walking across Bronco’s back down to the floor. Bronco was grumbling a bit, but he let Rollo literally walk all over him.

Rollo our mini-Australian Shepherd loves belly rubs even from Bronco
“Please, Bronco, I want my belly rub.”

I also noticed that Rollo liked to play with Bronco’s tail. One day Bronco began barking at me intently, as he did when he wanted me to do something or pay attention to him. I couldn’t see anything amiss at first, but then I saw something going on behind him. I took a closer look and saw Rollo dangling from Bronco’s tail. He was biting it and using it as a swing. I got Rollo off right away, of course, which is exactly what Bronco wanted. He was being very patient with Rollo, but Rollo wanted to play.

Our mini-Australian Shepherd Rollo pulling our Leonberger Bronco's tail.
To my astonishment, Bronco didn’t react angrily when Rollo swung like Tarzan from his tail.

Of course, the dogs often go in the backyard to do their business (I don’t mean the kind of business that’s taxable). This requires me to do pickup duty. On one occasion I was walking up and down the lawn, looking for poop and picking it up, when Rollo ran over to my left side and pushed me with his nose and nipped my shoes a little bit. Then he ran behind me and did the same thing on my right side. Then he ran behind me again and repeated the process, and so it went—over and over and over. Then I realized that to him, I was a sheep, and he was having fun herding me. He herded me down the lawn and back up again until all the poop was picked up. We were a team: he the herding dog in charge and I the pooper-picker-upper sheep. We performed this ritual several times. Claudia and I thought about taking him to one of those farms where you can let your shepherd dog herd sheep just for fun, but we never got around to it.

Rollo soon found something else he seemed to enjoy even more, and that was playing with balls—chasing them, fetching them, chewing them, pushing them, rolling them, kicking them, jumping on them, and biting them. It is a truly amazing sight. There’s so much energy and joie de vivre involved. To this day, whenever a ball rolls under a sofa, Rollo gets upset and barks at the sofa. Then you have to bend down and get the ball out. You better do what he wants or he’ll wail like a toddler.

Our mini-Australian Shepherd playing with a volley ball.
Rollo plays with one of his favorite toys.
Our mini-Australian Shepherd Rollo with a soccer ball
Rollo with another ball.

Rollo also loved chewing on shoes when he was younger. Fortunately, he’s gotten over that behavior, but in the process we’ve lost a lot of shoes. One time I forgot that I had left my shoes under a table in our TV room. I was walking around the house when I met Rollo in a hallway holding one of my shoes in his mouth. He gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look, then he slowly turned around and tiptoed back into the TV room. He placed my shoe back under the table, right next to its mate, positioning it correctly so it was just the way I had left it. Then he tiptoed away as if pretending that nothing had happened.

Rollo could be quite an artist when it came to shoes. Maybe we should have framed his work instead of throwing it away. Maybe we should have established a little chewed-shoe museum so people could have paid admission to see it.

Our mini-Australian Shepherd with one of his creations, an artistically chewed up shoe.
The artist poses with one of his creations.

Rollo is also pretty good at finding weird things in the backyard and bringing them into the house—snails, lizards, strange-looking larvae and worms, caterpillars, and creatures that might have been space aliens. I’m not sure: I mean, I’ve seen Men in Black, and some of the stuff he brought in could have been small versions of the creatures from that movie. Our backyard looks like a typical backyard on the surface, but Rollo made us realize that it’s actually an amazing world full of amazing creatures.

One day as I was walking Daisy and Rollo, we saw a frog, or perhaps it was a toad. It was jumping ahead of us. Both Daisy and Rollo had been looking down, sniffing the asphalt and the grass. As the frog jumped in front of us, the dogs became very curious. They sniffed and looked closely at the frog, and then, for the first time, Rollo looked up at me, straight into my eyes, questioning. What is that? I got the strange feeling that he wanted me to explain.

I told Rollo, “It’s a frog.” Even though he doesn’t understand English—or at least I don’t think he does—it seemed like he wanted me to say more, give him some indication that this unfamiliar life form wasn’t dangerous. Then Rollo gently touched the frog with his paw and patted it a bit. He was enjoying himself, but the frog may have felt differently. The world is full of wonders when you’re a puppy.

It’s also full of things that can seem threatening. So even though we got a stroller for Daisy, the dog who I think uses it the most is Rollo—although not because he gets tired walking. On the contrary, he seems to have endless energy. But Rollo is a bit of an anxious dog, and he feels safe in the stroller.

Canis Lupus, the grey wolf is a fearsome and courageous hunter in nature.

Canis Lupus familiaris, the dog, a close relative of the grey wolf, is sometimes less brave. This specimen prefers to sit in a stroller when he hears strange sounds.
Categories
Book

A Most Dangerous Button in Amazon KDP

So, you’ve written a book. You converted your Microsoft Word document or other document to a pdf file that is fit for printing as a book as shown in the images below. There are tools for doing this (like Adobe InDesign), but as a first-time author you may need help with this. You uploaded the file to Amazon KDP, and you uploaded the image files corresponding to the front cover and the back cover. You purchased an ISBN number for your printed book and the e-book version. You have a barcode.

Book excerpt in pdf format ready for publishing
Book in pdf file format ready for upload to Amazon
Screenshot of book excerpt ready for publishing
Book in pdf file format ready for upload to Amazon

You create a KDP account on Amazon. You fill out account information including your bank account (where the royalty goes) and you upload your files and start filling out other data, keywords, category, and finally price.

From Amazon KDP account
The first bookshelf page
Bookshelf screenshot, the life and times of Bronco von der Löwenhöhle.
The first bookshelf page scrolled down, select the book to complete
Screenshot of next bookshelf page
Next bookshelf page, select paperback rights and pricing
Screenshot of next bookshelf page, keywords and categories
Next bookshelf page, keywords and categories
Pricing is next. See the yellow <<Save and Continue>> button, press it

Now to the dangerous button that caused me a lot headache. Watch Out!!!

Now you fill out the price, and the book is ready for publishing, or is it? You may not have uploaded the latest versions of your files. You may want to publish at a later date but watch out for that innocent looking <<Save and Publish>> button. It looks like all the other yellow <<Save and Continue>> buttons. However, if you press whatever you have will be published. I pressed it by mistake, and it was a lot of work to undo the mistake. First the book had to be unpublished. Then the Amazon page for the book had to be deleted and that required a lot of explaining, begging and pleading before Amazon deleted it. Also, you have to start over with filling out all the KDP information and uploading files.

Screenshot that includes the button you should not press
Fill out the price page with the yellow <<Save and Publish>>, don’t press it yet
Categories
Book

Proof version of the book

Here is the second proof version of the book. This one might be it!

This is the Proof version of the book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle. Front and Back cover.
Proof version of the book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle.

I received the second proof for my book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle. All the content looks good, the front and back covers seem to be ready. This might be the final version. Even if we go (me and my editor) with this version, we have already decided that the book will be released on July 3rd, 2022, which would have been Bronco’s 15th birthday. The book will be available on Amazon, including many international Amazon websites, Barnes and Noble, as well as many other bookstores.

The ISBN number for the print edition is 978-0-9980849-5-4

The ISBN number for the e-book edition is 978-0-9980849-6-1

These are endorsements for the book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle by Thomas Wikman. 

“A wonderful tribute to the author’s beloved Bronco. The stories are heartwarming as well as
informative—a true glimpse into life with a Leonberger.”
—D’Nae Wilson, President, Leonberger Health Foundation International

“A lovely tribute to Bronco, with lots of resources for general Leonberger information.”
—Julie Schaffert, LCA breeder since 1992
Endorsements for the book

I will add more detailed information about the book and the links to places to purchase the book at this location. Which is the same as clicking “The Book” menu item at the top.

Finally, seven selected book spreads

Page 6 and 7 from the book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle by Thomas Wikman
Page 6 & 7
Page 24 and 25 from the book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle by Thomas Wikman
Page 24 & 25
Page 92 and 93 from the book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle by Thomas Wikman
Page 92 & 93
Page 102 and 103 from the book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle by Thomas Wikman
Page 102 & 103
Page 108 and 109 from the book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle by Thomas Wikman
Page 108 & 109
Page 148 and 149 from the book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle by Thomas Wikman
Page 148 & 149
Page 174 and 175 from the book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle by Thomas Wikman
Page 174 & 175
Categories
Leonbergers

My Leonberger Post Number 20 Lists Them All

This is post number 20 for my Leonberger/Bronco blog. I decided to make it a list of posts. Not all posts were equally popular and maybe you missed the posts you would have liked the most. You can click on the link or the picture to see a post, then click back or “Home” (at the top) go back. If you read a post I certainly would love to get a “like” or maybe a comment.

Post-1: What is a Leonberger?

This image of a Leonberger summarizes the FCI Leonberger breed standard.
Summary of the FCI Leonberger breed standard (Photograph of Leonberger © Shutterstock/Eric Isselee)

Post-2: Our Leonberger Bronco

Photos of our Leonberger Bronco. Left: Bronco at 3 months old. Right Bronco at almost 13 years old.
Left: Bronco at 3 months old. Right Bronco at almost 13 years old.

Post-3: The Time Bronco Saved the Neighborhood

Two illustrations: Left: Trespasser at night spying on us through our bedroom window. Right: Bronco chasing off the trespasser (illustrations by Naomi Rosenblatt)
Left: Trespasser at night spying on us through our bedroom window. Right: Bronco chasing off trespasser (illustrations by Naomi Rosenblatt)

Post-4: Bronco’s Hamster Search and Rescue

Two illustrations. Left: Leonberger with puffy cheeks full of hamsters. Right: Hamster CPR (illustrations by Naomi Rosenblatt)
Left: Puffy cheeks full of hamsters. Right: Hamster CPR (illustrations by Naomi
Rosenblatt)

Post-5: The Grey Muzzle Award

Leonberger's live on average 8-9 years. However, the Leonberger Health Foundation International is working hard to extend the lifespan of Leonbergers. They give an award to all Leonbergers who have survived passed their 12th birthday. The award is called the Grey Muzzle Award. Bronco's award reads: The Grey Muzzle Award, for Leonberger longevity is presented with gratitude  by the Leonberger Health Foundation International to Bronco for offering hope and potential for longer lives for Leonbergers throughout the world.
Leonberger’s live on average 8-9 years. However, the Leonberger Health Foundation International is working hard to extend the lifespan of Leonbergers. They give an award to all Leonbergers who have survived passed their 12th birthday. The award is called the Grey Muzzle Award.

Post-6: The time Bronco accidentally pushed Baby into a storm drain

Our German Shepherd Baby in a storm drain. I am trying to pull her out while our Leonberger Bronco is pulling on the leash.
Me handling a difficult situation. Illustration by Naomi Rosenblatt.

Post-7: The Worldwide Independent Leonberger Database

Screenshot from the Worldwide Independent Leonberger Database, showing all the information on Bronco. More than 160,000 Leonbergers are listed in this database. That is most Leonbergers who've ever lived.
This screen shot shows the information about Bronco that appears in the WILD database above his full pedigree.

Post-8: The Day Bronco Stumped the Geek Squad

Illustration depicting a geek squad guy impressed by what the powerful bite by our Leonberger Bronco could do to a laptop.
Luckily the warranty covered both acts of God and acts of Dog (illustration Naomi Rosenblatt)

Post-9: Some Fun Leonberger Facts

The coat of arms of the town of Leonberg, Germany.
The coat of arms of the town of Leonberg, Germany, was allegedly the inspiration for the first breeder of the Leonberger, Heinrich Essig

Post-10: History of the Leonberger

Photo of Bronco at three months old. You can trace his ancestry back 120 years. A lot of interesting Leonberger history happened in that time.
Bronco at three months old. You can trace his ancestry back 120 years. A lot of interesting Leonberger history happened in that time.

Post-11: The Day Bronco Sniffed Out an Oncoming Insulin Shock

Photo of our Labrador Baylor on the left and our Leonberger Bronco in a sun ray on the right. Bronco may have saved Baylor's life by sniffing out an incoming insulin shock.
Bronco’s nose predicted an oncoming insulin shock

Post-12: A Shocking Walk

A photo of our Leonberger Bronco when he was young. Bronco was slim and a bit gangly when he was young. He would fill out later. He was full of energy, confident and not afraid of anything.
Bronco was slim and a bit gangly when he was young. He would fill out later. He was full of energy, confident and not afraid of anything.

Post-13: Bronco the Great Swimmer

Photo of our Leonberger Bronco swimming in White Rock Lake. Leonbergers are excellent swimmers and are sometimes used in water rescue.
Leonbergers are excellent swimmers and are sometimes used in water rescue.

Post-14: The Eye Drop War

Our Leonberger Bronco standing in front of a pet gate. Leonbergers are big and tall and can reach almost anywhere a human can. so pet gates are a good idea.
Gates we had around the house to prevent Bronco from roaming where he shouldn’t

Post-15: The Day an EF3 Tornado Ravaged Our Neighborhood. It was a tough day for us and Bronco

Photo of our Leonberger Bronco in front of our fence that was damaged by a tornado. He had also just had a toe amputation. He has a  plastic bag around his bandage.
Bronco, who was not at his best in this picture, rests next to our tornado damaged fence. We put a plastic bag around his bandage when he went outside.

Post-16: Bronco the Very Big Dog Bites My Behind

Our Leonberger Bronco was a very big dog with powerful jaws. Here he is sitting in Claudia’s lap/
Bronco was a very big dog. Here he is sitting in Claudia’s lap.

Post-17: When Bronco Swallowed our Neighbor’s Head and Teaching Dogs How to Greet People Properly

Our Leonberger Bronco standing in the hallway
Bronco in front of the hallway

Post-18: How to Publish a Dog Book on Amazon (and elsewhere)

This photo is a page example from The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger. It will be released July 3rd 2022.
Page example from The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger.

Post-19: Are Leonbergers like bears, lions or wolves? Ask the Boy Who Cried Wolf!

Photo of a Grey Wolf (Canis Lupus) to the left and our Leonberger to the right. The humoristic text says "Canis Lupus, the Grey Wolf, is a fearsome and courageous hunter in nature. Canis Lupus familiaris, the dog, a close relative of the grey wolf, is sometimes also brave. This specimen bravely protects the life of smaller dogs and hamsters."
Leonbergers are big dogs and little boys may think they are wolves, but Leonbergers are very friendly.

Post 20, well that’s this one. Please like this post or any other post if you do or leave a comment.

Categories
Bronco's Adventures

Are Leonbergers like bears, lions or wolves? Ask the Boy Who Cried Wolf!

Canis Lupus left, Canis Lupus Familiaris right, the Leonberger kind. Both are very brave. Canis Lupus is brave hunter. This specimen of Canis Lupus Familiaris is a brave protector.
Leonbergers are big dogs and little boys may think they are wolves, but Leonbergers are very friendly.
Canis Lupus left, Canis Lupus Familiaris right, the mini-Australian Shepherd kind. Canis Lupus is brave hunter. However, this specimen of Canis Lupus Familiaris is not so brave  and wants to sit in a stroller if he hears scary sounds like quacking ducks.
Mini Australian Shepherds like our dog Rollo may look like wolves but are rarely mistaken for wolves. A quacking duck can be very scary to little mini–Australian Shepherds.

Bronco was a big dog. Once when I was walking Bronco around the neighborhood, a neighbor who always let his black Labs run loose saw us. He shouted to his wife, “Honey, get the dogs inside! Someone is walking a bear out here.” I guess letting your large dogs run loose isn’t a problem until someone walks a dog much bigger than yours.

On a number of occasions, we’ve met people who said to us that Bronco is the biggest dog they’ve ever seen. However, there are bigger dogs. We’ve met bigger English bullmastiffs and bigger Great Danes.

One day I took Bronco into PetSmart, and after I did my shopping, he and I were standing in the checkout line. Bronco was very quiet and well behaved, but a boy ahead of us in line became quite alarmed when he saw us. He shouted, “Look! A wolf, a wolf, a wolf!” He pointed his finger at Bronco. His mom tried to calm the boy, but he would not stop shouting. He didn’t seem to be afraid of Bronco, but he was really concerned that there was a big wolf in the pet store. I tried to explain to the boy that Bronco was not a wolf. He was just a big dog.

Categories
Book

How to Publish a Dog Book on Amazon (and elsewhere)

Front cover of The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger.
Front cover of The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger.

Yesterday I received the first proof version of the book I’ve been working on. It will be released on Bronco’s birthday July 3rd (he would have been 15 years old). There are still some fixes that needs to be done including that the two endorsements I got both need to go in the back. However, it is getting close to being done. Therefore, I am writing a brief post on how this came about.

Page example from The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger.
Page example from The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger.

I just started writing about our beloved Bronco and his crazy and amazing adventures and I added lots of color photographs. Little did I know that creating a real book is very different from writing a long essay and then printing it at Kinkos. For starters, printing a book in color is very expensive and unlike Kinkos you cannot print some pages in color and some in black and white. Amazon has three choices; the entire book in black and white, the entire book in standard color, and the entire book in premium color. That’s it! The cost per page for 206 pages 6X9 inch book is 1.2 cents for black and white, 3.6 cents for standard color, and 7 cents for premium color. Then there is an 85 cent costs for every book. Printing a 206 pages book in black and white is $3.322, standard color $8.266, premium color $15.27.

Black and white: X = 0.85 + 0.012 * 206 = 3.322

Standard color: X = 0.85 + 0.036 * 206 = 8.266

Premium color: X = 0.85 + 0.036 * 206 = 15.27

In addition, Amazon wants 40% of the price of the book and they leave the rest for you as royalty to the author. In my case I am donating all of that to the Leonberger Health Foundation International. So, if the price of the book is $10.95 the royalty to the author is

Black and white: Y = 0.6*10.95 – 3.32= 3.25

Standard color: Y = 0.6*10.95 – 8.266= -1.70

Premium color: Y = 0.6*10.95 – 15.27= -8.7

So that did not work out unless you choose black and white. Let’s say the price of the book is $19.95

Black and white: Y = 0.6*19.95 – 3.32= 11.97

Standard color: Y = 0.6*19.95 – 8.266= 7.02

Premium color: Y = 0.6*19.95 – 15.27= -3.3

This time standard color leaves some for the Leonberger Health Foundation International but premium color still does not work out. There is no printing cost associated with the kindle e-book so in that case you can choose whatever price you like, and Amazon gets 40% and author royalty is 60%. It is not possible to have a negative royalty with the e-book. I should also mention that if you work with a real publisher as opposed to self-publishing or working with a publisher you pay for, they will take care of all of this for you. However, the vast majority of author’s today, especially unknown authors, self-publish.

For additional information check out this page (https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201834340)

This is information I did not know before I wrote the book that would have been really helpful when planning the book.

Front and back cover of book. The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle. Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger.
Front and back cover

Printing cost and royalty calculations are not the only things you need to worry about. You also need to consider the size of the book, how the cover should look like, the type of paper you want to use, and you may want to get endorsements. Unless your English is perfect you probably need an editor. If you are first time author you most likely need help with book design, buying an ISBN number, creating the bar code, creating an author page and book page on Amazon, etc. Book design is when you take your word document, preferably written in Times New Roman 12, and turn into a pdf file where paragraphs and photos are laid out to fit together nicely on a rectangle corresponding to the book size you picked (6X9 in my case). Then you need to upload your files to Amazon and other bookstores. I wrote my book and then I considered all of this. If you are writing a book for the first time you may want to plan for all of this before you write your book. This blog post was focused on the price. I will post more about the concerns another time.

Categories
Bronco's Adventures

When Bronco Swallowed our Neighbor’s Head and Teaching Dogs How to Greet People Properly

Like any dog, Bronco loved greeting people. He ran to the door very excitedly whenever someone came over. Unfortunately, in the beginning he would jump up on people. He would put his paws on their shoulders or, worse, bump his nose into their noses. We eventually got him to stop doing this, but nevertheless we got some funny stories out of it. Of course we didn’t intentionally allow funny things to happen. We really tried to solve Bronco’s behavior issues, but it doesn’t hurt to tell the stories after the fact.

Leonbergers love to jump up on people. Here Bronco is jumping up on me.
Bronco loved jumping up on people, lick people’s faces, butt noses and giving people hugs, and more. A behavior that is problematic in a big dog and that needs training.

For example, when Bronco was young, we used to have windows on either side of our front door. The windows were placed around five feet up from the floor so that you could look out and in, assuming you were not too short. (We would later replace our front door and windows with something that felt more secure.) Back then, mail carriers and people delivering packages could look through these windows to see if we were home. It also meant that Bronco could easily look out the window himself if he stood on his hind legs.

A Leonberger kiss. Our niece Jessica with our Leonberger Bronco.
In the photo our niece Jessica is giving our Leonberger Bronco a kiss but frequently Bronco would jump on people to give kisses.

One day, a UPS deliveryman rang our doorbell, and when no one answered, he placed his face at the window and shaded his eyes to see if anyone was home. That’s when Bronco’s big happy face slammed into the window from the other side. It was a sudden face-to-face encounter, complete with a big tongue. The UPS guy jumped backwards from the surprise. Then we opened the door and accepted the package. The man was somewhat shaken, but he was fine.

On another occasion, one of our neighbors came over to say hello to our new puppy. We’d had Bronco for almost a year by then, so he was big. As our neighbor entered our hallway, Bronco came running, and before I had a chance to stop him, he jumped up and put his paws on our neighbor’s shoulders. This man is somewhat short, so Bronco was able to lick his head, which he proceeded to do. Then Bronco did something we were totally unprepared for. You know the circus trick in which the lion tamer puts his head in the lion’s mouth? Yes, that’s the trick Bronco performed on our friendly neighbor.

Bronco was just playing and having fun, but that’s not how to greet a neighbor. I apologized profusely, but our neighbor said that it was perfectly all right and that there was no harm done. He looked a bit unnerved, and obviously he had not expected to be part of a circus act, but he said that Bronco was a wonderful dog and that he really loved the big galoot.

Despite what happened, our neighbor was always very nice to Bronco. However, for us that first encounter was a red flag. We had to get the jumping-up-on-people problem under control.

Our Leonberger Bronco standing in front of our Hallway. He was certainly big.
Bronco in front of the hallway

The Solution

Leonberger puppies jump up on you and on visitors. But dogs jumping up on people is never a good thing. A little dog jumping up and touching the knee of a visitor may not be a big deal. In fact, some people think it’s sort of cute. However, with Leonbergers this problem is bigger—much bigger. A Leonberger jumping up on a neighbor and trying to swallow his head is embarrassing. A Leonberger jumping up on Grandma and making her fall and break her hip is a major disaster.

Leonbergers love jumping up on children, too, because they’re small, and this may frighten them. The children may even get hurt. Jumping up on people is something every Leonberger owner should be prepared to deal with.

One thing you can do is turn your back as soon as your puppy jumps on you. You can also put the dog on a leash and gently but firmly tug on it when he jumps. Removing him from the room for a while—giving him a time-out—may also discourage him from jumping. One thing that worked very well for us is filling a spray bottle with water and spraying it on the puppy when he jumps. We found that plain water was good enough. The surprise will deter him from jumping again (eventually).

Categories
Bronco's Adventures

Bronco the Very Big Dog Bites My Behind

Bronco was a big dog. As an adult, when he was not overweight, he tipped the scales at 135 pounds. He was significantly bigger than a German shepherd, and when he stood on his hind legs, he could easily put his big paws on a person’s shoulders, even if that person was almost six feet tall. Naturally, his size, combined with his energetic nature, made him a perfect dance partner, and Bronco loved dancing. His size and energy also combined to produce a lot of good stories.

Me and my Leonberger Bronco. Leonbergers are very affectionate.
Bronco was a very affectionate dog and a good dancer
Bronco our Leonberger was a very big dog. Here he is sitting in Claudia’s lap. He was 167 pounds in the photo.
Bronco was a very big dog. Here he is sitting in Claudia’s lap

When Bronco arrived at our house from the airport, for example, we had prepared a very large crate for him to sleep in. Unfortunately, even though it was spacious, he didn’t like it very much. As time went on, he decided that he wanted to abandon the crate and sleep with us in our bed. It was difficult to say no and listen to him whine at night. So Claudia lay down on the floor next to him and put her hand into the crate and petted him and held his paw. He loved that and was able to fall asleep that way.

Our Leonberger Bronco at 3 months
Bronco our Leonberger 3 months
Bronco our Leonberger 3 months old in black and white
Bronco our Leonberger 3 months old in black and white

Eventually, though, we relented and let him sleep in our bed. As the saying goes, “First they take your heart, then your bed.” But as Bronco quickly grew to 120 pounds, and then to 130 pounds, that arrangement didn’t work very well. We were three in the bed, and Bronco would sleep between us, a situation that became a bit crowded. Sometimes Bronco would push me with his paws until I fell off the bed and onto the floor. To my great relief, as time passed, he started to prefer the dog mattresses that we bought for him. On the other hand, Bronco was relatively easy to potty train. He quickly learned to go number two outside, but the peeing outside took a little longer, so Claudia hired a trainer from our veterinarian’s office to help us out. As a result, Bronco was mostly potty trained by four months old.

Dogs in our bed, including a giant breed. First they take your heart, then your bed.
First they take your heart, then your bed
Our Leonberger on our sofa. Not much room left.
One of our sofas was too big too be comfortable for people. It was perfect for Leonbergers.

I was often working long hours, and Claudia was at home with our kids, so it was she who mostly took care of Bronco, especially in the early years. She took him for walks every morning; she took him to the dog park, to go shopping, to Starbucks, and other places. She socialized him well. She also brushed him a few times a week, kept him clean, gave him medication to prevent heartworm and repel fleas and ticks,* and took him to the veterinarian’s office and the groomer. All of us in the family helped with the training, but Claudia did most of it. She grew up with dogs, so she knew what she was doing, and she did a very good job.

This medication also protects against infestations of chewing lice: see “Dog Lice:

What They Are, How to Avoid Them,” American Kennel Club, June 24, 2020, at

Ticks, fleas aw well as lice

Bronco was eager to learn, and he liked to go for walks, but he didn’t always finish them. When he got tired, he lifted his front paws up and scratched our legs. Then we picked him up and carried him. He loved being carried around like a baby. We carried him when he was thirty pounds and when he was fifty pounds, but at one hundred pounds it was time to stop.

Walking a big strong dog like Bronco presents special challenges. You need to be physically fit in order to control a Leonberger who isn’t listening to you. On several occasions Bronco yanked the leash so hard when I walked him that I almost fell forward. Did I mention that it’s not a good idea to wear flip-flops while you’re walking a big strong dog? When our daughter, Rachel, did, she fell face-first after. Bronco got excited and took off in pursuit of something. She shouted at him to come back, and he did. I guess he felt bad for her and returned. That was his personality.

Bronco our Leonberger was strong enough to drag a less heavy person. Drawing by Naomi Rosenblatt.
Bronco was strong enough to drag a less heavy person. Drawing by Naomi Rosenblatt.

One time, when Claudia was walking Bronco at White Rock Lake Park, just outside Dallas, Bronco saw a dog whom, for whatever reason, he did not like. He started running toward the dog and its owner. Claudia, taken by surprise, had a hard time controlling the situation. Bronco pulled her along as she tried to keep her balance. The man with the other dog saw that a potential confrontation was developing, and he loudly screamed, “Noooooo,” at Bronco. Then Bronco just stopped. He understood, and it all ended well.

Adolescent Bronco, still a gangly not yet proportional Leonberger
Adolescent Bronco, still a gangly not yet proportional Leonberger

It was incidents like these that prompted us to hire a professional dog trainer from Bark Busters and buy a Gentle Leader harness, which has a loop that fits around your dog’s nose. When your dog pulls forward, the motion gently moves his head to the side, redirecting his attention back to you. It may be a little bit uncomfortable for the dog, but it is certainly infinitely better than a shock collar, which is something you should never use.

One day I was standing in our living room, talking to the Bark Busters trainer. Bronco was standing behind me, and he kept poking my leg with his paw. I ignored him because I was in the middle of a conversation. Suddenly Bronco bit me on the rear end. It was not an aggressive bite, but it was a big one, and it hurt. He could easily have bitten me much harder, of course.

Our Leonberger Bronco and his confident look
Bronco’s confident look

I turned around, and there stood Bronco, looking at me with his happy eyes and wagging his tail as if he were completely innocent. I forgave him instantly.

I asked the trainer, “Why did he do that?” She said, “He was trying to get your attention, but you were ignoring him, so he bit you.” She continued, “He should know that he is not the one in charge, and he shouldn’t do that.” She knew what she was talking about. I should add that this was the only time Bronco bit anyone.

Categories
Bronco's Adventures

The Day an EF3 Tornado Ravaged Our Neighborhood. It was a tough day for us and Bronco

October of 2019 was a very difficult month for Bronco. He was getting old, and he had the first signs of geriatric-onset laryngeal paralysis polyneuropathy (or GOLPP), which made his breathing a bit labored and affected his gait. In addition, he had developed another case of squamous cell carcinoma, this time on his right rear paw, and that toe was amputated on October 3—the day he turned twelve years and three months old. The surgery went well, but after around ten days it was discovered that he had a large deep ulcerous sore on the same paw a few inches above the surgical scar. Fortunately, it was not cancerous, as we first thought, but we would have to treat this sore in addition to nursing him back from his amputation.

On October 20, I was sitting in our backyard. Claudia and the dogs were inside. I was finished walking the dogs, and the sun had just set. A severe thunderstorm was approaching, and there was a tornado watch in effect—but that’s not unusual for North Texas. I was sipping a delicious Texas beer, an IPA called Yellow Rose, when my cell phone started beeping. It was a tornado warning—upgraded from a tornado watch. I also heard tornado sirens, but they weren’t very loud, and as I found out later, some people didn’t hear them at all.

About the same time as I heard the sirens, I saw lightning in the distance and heard thunder. I decided to finish my beer and go inside to be safe. A few minutes after I walked in, it started raining heavily, and the wind became very rough. It sounded like golf-ball-size hail was hitting the roof. The house shook from the winds, then suddenly there was a loud boom.

Our neighbor's house was destroyed as can be seen in the photo.
The damage to my neighbor’s house after the Dallas tornado of October 2019 was devastating. Her roof lay across the street.

I thought lightning had struck the house. What I didn’t know was that a flying block of concrete had just smashed our chimney. Bronco was calm, and the little dogs seemed okay, too.

After the wind had died down a bit, I opened the door to the backyard, and what I saw shocked me. My gas grill had flown across the patio. There were bricks and pieces of concrete all over the patio and the lawn. There was a big sheet of metal lying on the patio. Big tree branches covered the lawn. There was debris everywhere. We had also lost power. I didn’t notice until the next morning that our chimney had been smashed and that the roof was covered in bricks and debris. It turns out that an EF3 tornado had gone through our neighborhood and passed within fifty to one hundred yards of our house.

Another neighbor's house that was destroyed in the Dallas Tornado of October 20 2019.
Dallas Tornado 2019. The damage to another of neighbor’s house was even worse.

Claudia called her parents, who live only a mile from us. They had been badly hit, but they seemed fine on the phone, and they didn’t complain. Still, she asked me to drive over and check on them. But as soon as I turned out of our driveway, I saw my neighbor’s roof lying on the street, rendering it impassable. I turned around and tried to go the other way, but that didn’t work, either. Across that end of the road lay a huge pile of trees.

So I parked the car in my driveway and started to walk toward their house. I was stopped by four firemen, who told me that it was not safe to walk around the neighborhood. They asked me to go back home.

This is the house of Dallas Stars Ice Hockey player Tyler Seguin. It is located in our neighborhood. It was destroyed by the tornado.
Another Tornado damaged house.

It was dark, but I could see some of the carnage. I realized that we had been lucky. Many of our neighbors had lost their entire homes. We ended up needing a new chimney, a new roof, a new fence, and a few other things, but we were fine.

Houses destroyed by the EF3 tornado that ravaged our neighborhood on October 20 2022.
Another Tornado damaged house

The damage to Claudia’s parents’ house was more severe, which we would discover the next day when we visited them. Their windows had been blown in, and Claudia’s dad had to hold on to a doorframe in order to keep himself from being carried away. A broken marble tabletop hit him in the back and gave him a foot-long bruise. He did not go to the hospital.

Claudia walking into her parents house. It was badly damaged by the tornado.
Claudia walking into her parents house.

The Preston Royal shopping center was also devastated by the tornado. That’s where our veterinarian’s office was located. Thank goodness they didn’t have any animals staying overnight that night, but the clinic was gone. So were many stores and restaurants. Our favorite supermarket was destroyed. The school our boys went to was severely damaged, and some buildings were later torn down. There was debris all over the neighborhood.

The Gap store at Preston/Royal was destroyed by the tornado.
The Gap Store at Preston Royal shopping center.

Claudia’s parents had to move out of their house while repairs were made, but although we were able to stay in our house, we didn’t have power for four days. There was no cell-phone signal in our neighborhood. The streets weren’t navigable, so I couldn’t go to work. It was also hot, so this was stressful for Bronco.

Bronco inspecting the damage of our fence that was made by the tornado.
Bronco, who was not at his best in this picture, rests next to our tornado damaged fence. We put a plastic bag around his bandage when he went outside.
Categories
Bronco's Adventures

The Eye Drop War

One day we noticed that Bronco’s eyes were red, so we took him to the veterinarian. He was around one year old at the time. The veterinarian told us that Bronco had conjunctivitis and that all we needed to do was give him eye drops. But giving a very big dog eye drops turned out to be a lot more challenging than we had anticipated. “Just give him three drops two times a day”—easy peasy, right? Well, the veterinarian might as well have told us to wrestle a bear on a tightrope while juggling.

Gates we had around the house to prevent Bronco from roaming where he shouldn’t

Whenever we approached Bronco with the eyedropper, he ran off. Almost nothing else scared him—thunder and lightning, explosions, large hail, other big dogs, noisy crowds—but he was terrified of eye drops. Once we would catch up with him, he would thwart any attempt on our part to put the drops in. He would jump up and down while violently shaking his head back and forth and closing his eyes. So Claudia and I and Jacob and David decided we needed to do it all together.

We made what we thought was a great plan: two people were going to hold Bronco down on the floor while keeping his head still. A third person would hold his eyelids open, and a fourth person would put in the eye drops, being careful not to touch his eyes in the process. Poor Bronco was certainly not going to like it, but what else could we do? He needed his medicine.

Bronco sleeping on the floor in the living room. No photo of the actual struggle.

We chased Bronco around the house and finally caught him in the living room. He struggled, but we were able to hold him down. However, before we could open his eyelids, he made a sudden and powerful move that got all five of us rolling like a giant snowball into the metal pet gate that stood between the family room and the living room. With a loud bang, we crashed into the gate. The screws that fastened it to the wall popped out and shot across the room. We had turned into a messy dog-and-people pile on the floor.

The family room

Bronco was the first one to get up. As he stood and surveyed the carnage, we acknowledged our defeat. Claudia put away the eye drops. I put the pet gate in the garage. No more eye drops; no more pet gate; no more forcing anything on Bronco. He had been victorious in the Eye Drop War, and he knew it.

As it happened, the conjunctivitis healed without the drops. We would later learn that it is possible to get eye drops into a Leonberger’s eyes without going to war.

———–

Pray that you don’t have to give your Leonberger eye drops, but if you do, first ask your veterinarian for instructions. If those don’t work, take a step-by-step approach: give the dog a treat for standing still, then a treat for letting you hold his head, then a treat for allowing the drops in his eyes. You can also warm the drops in your pocket so they don’t feel cold.

For other helpful tips, see Videojug, “How to Apply Dog Eye Drops,” at

uploaded April 12, 2011