Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays and Big Thank You

Happy Holidays and a big Thank you to all those who have adopted and/or helped, abandoned animals

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another fun filled afternoon with shelter dogs

I was able to spend a good hour and a half today walking shelter dogs. This little Shih Tzu is Drew, a 1 year old male. He was a stray and has been at the shelter for a few days without being claimed. How could someone not know he was missing, unless no one cares. If he is not claimed, in a few more days he will become available for adoption. He is so sweet, and loved being held in my arms. For the most part I am a big dog person, but this little guy just tugged at my heartstrings. If you are interested in him you could contact the shelter and place a hold on him

The Black lab with my Blue Merle Aussie is Lady again. We had a nice hour long walk through town. My dog has this" why are you taking my picture, you know I am camera shy" look on his face"

The black and white guy with his tongue sticking out is Augustus, my new favorite. He doesn't usually have his tongue sticking out but the dogs have been cooped up lately and it's been hard to get decent photos of them with them being happy to be outside and all, so this wasn't a half bad picture, so I included it. He's on the large size of medium sized dogs, very sweet and well behaved considering he has not yet been neutered. If he's this nice pre neutering, he'll only become more calm and nice after. He needs to put on at least 5 lbs.
Augustus is typical of my favorite type of dog, sort of plain, non-descript but with a heart of gold. I love these big easy going guys, unfortunately I am only half of the household decision making process or I would have 5 dogs, but one often makes compromises in relationships, so in a way, the compromise is what keeps me coming back to help more dogs

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dog walking in winter- some new dogs

We finally had a lull in the heavy snows and I was able to get back to walking the shelter dogs, which is always such a joy for me. This little adorable black and tan guy is about a six month old puppy. Someone has placed a hold on him and he will probably be adopted out soon but I thought it would be nice for him to get out and get some love , attention and exercise. He did well on the leash and I was pleased that my dog Cash the blue merle Aussie was very in tune with me trying to keep the puppy calm and walking nicely as he wanted to play and romp with Cash but I wasn't up for a tangled leash, animated play scene, enveloping me on the icy sidewalk so Cash was very good at understanding my intentions, and keeping the puppy in line. The other shelter dog is Lady, the black lab who was well behaved, came to me when I called her and was just a tad wound up as a result of the shelter dogs being cooped up in inside kennels during the snowy weather, but under more normal circumstances seems like she would make a lovely well behaved pet. Much like people, the dogs get cabin fever too, and need to get outside and have fun. Lady the black lab is available for adoption as well as another big black lab Harley and an assortment of other adorable dogs. I see so many dogs named Harley, funny I never see many named Davidson! My new favorite is Augustus. I was unable to take him out because he has not been neutered yet but he is a sweet medium to large sized maybe Australian cattle dog,white German Shepherd looking mix that loves attention and is mellow and practically human in his responses. I hope to get a photo of him soon and be able to walk him if he is still at the shelter

Sunday, December 5, 2010

the "Peace Accord" on the sofa

I was at a dinner party the other night with some dear friends. I was talking about dog behavior and my friend said something along the lines of "It's so interesting to see a glimpse of what humans are like by studying the behaviors of dogs" I never thought of it that way before, that maybe we can learn how to act by seeing how dogs/pack animals resolve their disputes. As I watched the progression to family harmony from the introduction of a newly neutered male dog into my home and pack with a well entrenched 10 1/2 year old neutered male dog that we have had since he was 2 years old, I started to wonder if there was some sort of metaphor/model for human harmony as well. At first it seemed like I had one frightened new dog with some residual testosterone and one old dog who's home territory was being invaded. The newcomer was frightened, , half starved-25% underweight, had been tossed around from place to place with nowhere to call home, came close to being gassed, until some nice people rescued him and set about to finding an appropriate home for him. The old dog was very comfortable in his home territory, laid claim to the upstairs, the sofa, and strategically placed dog bed next to the outside view and had a long history with his people. The new dog finally had a nice comfortable safe place to call home where conditions such as food and comfort and threat level were in his favor. I guess he started liking his new home and feeling protective of it. "See that comfortable couch that I like to lay on? It is now mine. I never had one before and you, little old dog, seem old, weak and complacent. I've had to fight for survival and now I want to ensure it, get it? so it's mine and you stay away from it" This seemed to be the conversation between my new 2 year old Aussie shepherd and my old Blue Heeler. The Heeler was like" Hey wait a minute bub, this is my home territory and has been my sofa for years, who are you to invade and claim it?" I was somewhat of the Peace keeping Mission on the sofa. I would watch as they sorted out their differences. One time I tried to coax them both onto the sofa with me as mediator but my husband said no, "don't do that , let them work it out on their own" I had one long week of daily fights. Nasty sounding fur flying but not much actual damage to either dog. I figured that the new dog needed a lot of exercise in order to calm down. He also needed to know that his food bowl would be full, and that his needs would be met. The old dog needed reassurance that he was still important, that life would improve with this invasion- he got canned food instead of dry kibble every morning. Life was changing, but hopefully it could be a win win for all involved. I would have a new walking and dog training companion, the old dog could semi retire to guard duty in the car and house and occasional nature walks. The new dog would have a warm safe fun comfortable home, meaningful work to do, and his physical need for exercise would be met.For awhile, only the new dog would get on the sofa, and shoot dirty looks at the old dog in order to keep him away. I would intervene and make sure that the old dog was treated well and got attention and comfortable accommodations. As the new dog started to relax and settle into our routine, one day about 2 months after acquiring the new dog I saw both dogs on the sofa with me of their own accord. The old dog was brave and comfortable enough with the new dog to risk the retaking of his old territory. I sat and marveled at the progress we made. Then gradually both dogs started getting comfortable with allowing the other dog to feel a part of the home to freely move on and off the choice pieces of real estate, to share the attentions of their people and their environment and live as one family. Their are still mini power struggles, working out pack positions and duty roles. It seems that time, and minimum interference on my part and both dog's needs being met and the people as moderators to ensure that violence doesn't break out, and then both dogs have somewhat their own safe territory to retreat to. The old dog can go upstairs while the new young dog is somewhat afraid of the stairs. The new dog likes the chair with three comfortable protective sides surrounding him. I'm not sure how many parallels can be drawn between dog behavior and human behavior, dog's don't seem to have the big egos like humans have and are somewhat more tolerant of their species with less attention to their lineage as in not descending into "I am an Aussie Shepherd and you are a German Shepherd, therefore we are destined to disagreement." I'm glad my friend gave me a glimpse into another way to make observations about both dog and human behavior.

* I'd written this awhile ago, and both dogs are getting along just fine now.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween,sheepdogs, and strange events

Halloween night we were sitting in the living room watching reruns of the old Simon and Simon detective show( 1980's television reruns) on netflix . It had been a long day of wood cutting and stacking and late fall garden chores so I just wanted to veg out in front of the t,v with a glass of wine, and the old man likes Simon and Simon because one of the brothers in the show lived on a boat and my husband is obsessed with sailboats lately. The dogs had had a long walk earlier and were laying down relaxing too. The lights were off and the t.v. was on when I heard this strange sound as if a body was being dragged across the floor. I'm thinking" what the heck is that?" as it is Halloween night, we are watching detective shows and I'm getting a tad spooked. I get up to check things out and notice that Cash, the new Australian Shepherd is in my husbands office. I look at him with a " what are you doing in here?" expression, and notice that there is a big plastic bag of my sheep fleece next to him. Now I know that my husband is very picky about what goes in his office and I couldn't imagine why he would have put this huge outside trash can sized bag of my sheep fleece in there and I asked him" did you put my giant bag of fleece in your office?" and I get a " no why would I possibly do that" back from him and I remember hearing that sound like a body being dragged across the linoleum floor and " bingo" Can you believe that this 45 lb sheep dog had dragged a huge bag of fleece into the dark office to have his way with it! I remembered that last Friday I had gone to my knitting club and left the dog alone in the car with my giant bag of fleece and when I came back there was wool fluff all over the car. It was as if he got bored and entertained himself by teasing apart the giant fleece which is actually what needed to be done in preparation for carding. So I suppose he was at it again, bored, and decided to take what he perceived as "his giant bag of fleece toy" into the office in order to play with his secret stash! I really need to get this boy some sheep or at least start him on agility training or sheep dog training. The Australian Shepherd is a little more intense than my Australian Cattle dog who when young, was very smart and not particularly high energy or high maintenance as long as he was with his people. This new dog is a little quirky, I still haven't figured him out quite yet

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cash's first day on the job, do you think he was nervous?

So here we are with my new dog Cash, the Aussie Shepherd, and two of the shelter dogs. I wanted to see how he was going to do, walking and helping to train the shelter dogs and so far he is fine with it. He got along with the dogs and despite his lack of leash training, although he is good off leash, he was able to walk comfortably and help set the pace and relaxed tone. I think he will do just fine in his new role of helping to train and make comfortable the shelter dogs. Both these dogs seemed quite relaxed with Cash although it took some doing to get decent photos of them as they kept turning in different directions, so I kept taking shots as we walked hence the photos of the dogs relaxed in the street as I was not so relaxed but watchful and hoping to get a good photo while shepherding two dogs and my camera hand to safety. The big black dog, Honey was an unusual sort of case. Most shelter dogs can't wait to go for walks, and stay out of the noisy shelter. Honey got about 3/4 of a mile away from the shelter and then made an abrupt turn and kept pulling me back in the opposite direction that we were trying to walk in. At first I thought that perhaps she was spooked by the two male joggers behind us on the bike path so I pulled the dogs aside and told them to wait, but the joggers just passed by and the dog wasn't bothered by them but kept turning back and pulling me. I then thought that maybe she was trying to tell me that she recognized some landmarks and perhaps wants to try and go "home" to wherever she has lived before. I just decided that trying to wrestle a big lab mix who was determined to go in the opposite direction, wasn't going to be fruitful so we turned around and walked back to the shelter. As soon as we headed back she relaxed so I'm guessing that she liked the shelter, felt comfortable there and familiar with the staff and regular feeding. I was thinking," strange, she looks well fed and happy otherwise, why was she so scared to be away from the safety of the shelter?" We took Honey the big black lab out again, a week later, and she was really worked up and pulling while I tried to get her out of the shelter gates and I was using my stern training voice when one of the shelter employees said " you do know that Honey is deaf don't you?" " Actually no, this was the first I'd had heard of it" so that bit of info threw me for a loop. The last time I took her out she seemed fine, listened to my commands and or body language as well as that of my dog Cash's body movements, and we had a nice walk before she tugged and wanted to turn back. Maybe being hearing impaired made her more insecure when she got too far away from the shelter, often times it is the dogs who are super frightened or have been abused that are more comfortable in the shelter than outside of it but for most dogs they prefer to be out walking around.

The yellow Heinz 57 variety dog is Jake
Jake seemed pretty relaxed around Cash as well

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pascual in need of reform school?

I have to admit, that even our dog children from time to time, get into trouble no matter how well they are raised. My friend and I often take our rescue dogs out for long walks around a reservoir where there are little camping areas that are available for public use. The campground
areas are often filled up on the weekends in the summer time. This summer we were walking and basically at the end of our walk. My friend and I were in the parking lot with her dog and my new dog and she says to me" where's Pascual?" I looked around and called his name, which usually causes him to show up immediately but, no Pascual. I walked over to the bridge because sometimes the dogs stand in the water underneath the bridge to cool off. He wasn't under the bridge. This was really unusual behavior for him as he never strays far off the hiking path and he's usually never far from me or out of reach of my voice. I called once again"Pascual" and all of a sudden, he comes sneaking out of the bushes with a big piece of baked chicken in his mouth! I quick figured out what had happened, and as I was bursting out laughing and trying to tell my friend what had happened while taking the fully baked piece of chicken out of his mouth and Pascual is looking at me like" do you know the trouble I went through to sneak that piece of chicken, and you're taking it from me? why it was masterful" and I'm trying to rush everyone into the car before the drunken, angry, camper I'm imagining comes running after us and I don't even have any money on me to pay for the chicken, and I'm laughing so hard that this little old dog was so sneaky in his escape through the bushes, as I've often seen him skulking around the furniture in the house trying to outwit other dogs so he could steal food out of there bowls, but I never expected him to do it in public! So we quickly made our getaway, my friend and I laughing so hard. As my guilt started to rise, I said" I really don't know if he stole it or someone gave it to him" as despite my fears, no one actually came out of the woods and yelled at us, and I was reminded of the time in Portland Oregon when I was dog sitting for my friend's yellow lab mix and walking up in the Hawthorne Blvd. shopping district, and my friend had the strange, bungee style leash which I never understood the purpose of; a leash with spring coils in it, and someone was walking past us eating a slice of pizza and the dog jumped up and I pulled back on the leash and got no resistance, and the dog was able to snatch the pizza right out of the guys hand as he was lifting it to his mouth, and I was terribly embarrassed, and apologetic, and explained that I was only dog sitting and not familiar with that type of leash, and again I had no money on me to even pay the guy for the pizza but he was very easy going and told me not to worry about it. So hopefully my karma was washed clean this last winter when I found a $100 dollar bill on the floor at Walmart at Christmas time and kept thinking that it must have been someone's special gift money so I turned it in to the store manager who said someone came around all upset and desperate because they had lost their money so I apologize for my dogs behavior and hope that somehow things get evened out in the world, but needless to say I watch the dogs more closely now, and Pascual, like any good hunter, keeps going back to that campsite, his happy hunting ground!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Dogs,those mysterious creatures-what motivates them ?

When we got our new dog Cash from Inland Northwest Rescue he came with all kinds of toys; stuffed animals,a Frisbee, a teddy bear. I bought a brand new dog bed from Costco which has some of the best prices for large dog beds if you live near one. Do you think that the dogs would appreciate the efforts all these humans have gone to, no. No one, not the old or new dog has deigned to set foot on the brand new dog bed,"moi? dog bed? oh no,no no, Madame it is not for me, I much prefer furniture, of the human kind" "Toys? what would I want with toys, do I look simple to you? you throw it and want me to bring it back? why do you throw it in the first place? strange kind of human compulsion for frivolity? Why, bring me some sheep and we'll talk, what do you take me for?" so the toys sit in the corner. My friend has a large rescued Pyrenees mix dog, that plays with my new Aussie Shepherd, Cash. Last year the Pyrenees mix snuck over to the neighboring farm and stole the stuffed animal toys belonging to the neighbors German Shepherd. My friend kept finding new toys in her house every day for about a week. This year my friend heard a noise at her front door. She knew that her dog was already in the house, as it sometimes wiggles the door open with it's snout. She thought "hmmm, maybe it's one of the cats coming in" No, it was the neighbor's German Shepherd come to reclaim it's toys!Funny creatures these dogs, what interests them, what bores them, what they are motivated by. If only they could talk!This is the second time this year the above German Shepherd mix has come to my friend's farm for "toy exchange" I just happened to be there to witness all the fun and snag this photo. How did the dog know that my friend had just purchased this new toy? These dogs often have an uncanny sense of timing, and are always good for a few laughs!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cash's Ontological Crisis

So Cash,( my new dog) or Cashi as he is affectionately called from time to time is having a hard time coming to terms with the definitions and structural set up of the human world. I admit, I don't always have an easy time of it myself, so here goes our scenario

Me to the dog" Wooden knitting needle on the coffee table, may look like a stick to you but no, it is actually a human implement. Yes I do realize it is made out of wood like a stick, and the shape of the knitting needle roughly resembles that of a stick, but sorry you are not allowed to chew on this type of wood if it is in the house"

Conversation number 2-" That post that you keep lifting your leg on once I let you outside, may look like a tree, and yes we did open the door and technically, go outside, but in the human realm, that semi- outside area is called a porch and that tree you thought you were peeing on is actually not a tree, but a porch post, granted it is made out of wood, and covered in hops vines leading one to reasonably believe that it is treelike,and has outdoor, natural world characteristics, but the humans aren't very happy when you pee on it. Just to confuse your little dog brain even further- Outside actually begins when you are out the door, down the steps, and off the porch, a mere technicality but important point nonetheless. Sorry, I know we humans are complicated creatures, but we do provide sofas and feed you dogs well

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pascual flees the Czech Circus- a story in progress

The Czech Circus is a term I use for events having to do with my Czech friend who is a very talented graphic design artist and a filmmaker,
We call it the circus because there is always an atmosphere of creative chaos,a juggling of people, animals and situations, an element of absurdity, where one can almost hear the circus music playing in the background or one starts singing the circus music to drive home the point that things are getting out of hand.

So my husband and I were going to take an all day sailing lesson on Hayden Lake which is about 2 hours north of here. I didn't want the dogs hanging out in a hot car for 10 hours, so I arranged for my 10 year old dog to stay at my Czech friend's house in the country, and the new dog Cash was going to stay at a very nice boarding facility run by a very calm and lovely Swedish woman, where the rooms are filled with covered sofas, and there is a doggie door for the dogs to go into the fenced area which has giant water bowls and bowls filled with dog food. long walks in the fields with Elisabet.

So I suppose I am one of the few people who decides to have people over for dinner the night before going away for the weekend. I was running around like a mad woman, watering all the plants, landscaping, setting up my low tech greenhouse self watering system which basically entails plants in containers sitting in bowls or pools of water, packing for the people, packing for the dogs and then cooking and cleaning. My two girlfriends came over, and because one is the Czech friend she was going to cook some of the food at my house and we would make the side dishes and provide drinks. Why we didn't just go to her house is one of the many circus mysteries. We had a global buffet of sorts with Indonesian spiced pork, tortillas, rice and homemade salsa from my homegrown peppers and tomatoes. We also had wine and Planters Punch drinks a favorite in the summer. When my Czech friend left that night, she took my old dog Pascual with her and was going to keep him for a few days and then we would pick him up on our way back. We were a little sad that night with only the new dog. We've only had to keep Pascual, my Blue Heeler, away from us once, since we got him. That particular time he stayed with a neighbor who lives a half mile away. The dog is not one to chase things and never wanders off from my house but when the neighbor took him outside with his two dogs, my dog looked around and was like" I don't live here and I'm rather spoiled living in the house and not interested in sleeping in the garage with two lab mixes so I'm outta here" so my Blue Heeler, just proceeded to walk down the neighbors driveway, walk down the road a quarter mile and then down my 1/4 mile driveway with the neighbor close behind shouting"Pascual come, come back here"( I wish I could have seen that!) Luckily I had a contingency plan if things didn't work out I told the neighbor to put the dog in my camper which I had set up with screened windows open, and food and water bowls and dog blankets. So the neighbor just exercised all the dogs at my place and my dog was content to stay on our place in our camper which was familiar and comforting to him.
Now my Czech friend lives 10 miles away and my blue heeler has been there many times and was quite familiar with my friend, the Great Dane grand dog, and her property, so I thought he would be more comfortable there, than in the back of my car all day. Unfortunately you can't explain things to dogs like you can people, and perhaps he thought I was dumping him off there permanently. I called her at six in the morning just checking on him and seeing if he was adjusting well. She said he was fine in the car and didn't want to go in the house that night, but she put a leash on him and he was fine in her mudroom overnight, with the Great Dane and his dog blanket which I had brought from home.
She looked around in the morning and couldn't find him. I told her to look near the car thinking that the dog might figure that he had arrived there in the car, and perhaps could go back home if he could only get back in the car. I also told her to look near her animals as she has sheep and chickens, and maybe he would be interested in looking at them. I called back twenty minutes later, but she still couldn't find him. We were all packed for the weekend, including all the stuff for Cash the new Aussie who was going to the boarding facility. Although my friend's house is out of the way, we figured that we could loop back around and continue on our journey once we found Pascual. I told my husband to drive the shortcut as the dog has traveled that way with me and it is a mile less than the ten miles it takes going to my house via the highway. I also told my husband that the car's gas tank was basically empty but I just got a " don't worry about it " gruff comment. Mind you, in rural areas a gas station can be some 10 miles away or more if you actually need one, otherwise it is a course of humbly begging for a gallon of farm gas if one gets desperate. So off we went, nervous and panicked wondering where the old dog had gotten off to. Of course my husband took the highway, not the cutoff.

We got to my friend's house and she was frantic because she couldn't find him. The Great Dane was running huge circles around the property and my old cattle dog was nowhere to be found. I thought surely if he heard our car and our voices he would have come running if he could, which led me to believe that he was either injured in the woods and couldn't come or on his way home somehow. It's not like him to be interested enough to run off, as he likes his creature comforts of warm house and food bowl, heck he didn't venture out much when he was young let alone old. My husband decided to drive around the neighborhood in our car with no gas in it and I asked my friend if I could borrow her car. She looked at me and thought maybe I was too nervous and it would be better if she drove, for my sake and her car's sake! Now my Czech friend was raised by Artists in Prague, and she has some wacky kind of odd intuition at times. Instead of taking the cut off road she went to the road directly across the highway from her road. We stopped at houses along the way asking if anyone had seen the dog. I also checked my answering machine in case someone had found him and called the number on the i.d. tag. I also alerted the animal shelter that he was missing in case someone called in with a found stray dog. There was a weird dirt driveway paralleling the highway between the road we were on and the shortcut road. A house was being built there and there were lots of workmen and guys on 4 wheelers(all terrain vehicles) My friend's spooky intuition led her to take this dirt driveway and we came upon a bunch of guys who said that the dog was around there earlier. They asked " does he look like a dingo?" ""yep" that's him and with that, Pascual, my Blue Heeler came trotting over and I was ecstatic, as I had been relatively calm but had horrible what if scenarios running through my mind, so I let go of all the worry and grabbed him and he was so happy to see me. I realized that he had walked 3 miles from my friend's house and was on his way home, the rest of the journey being another 7 miles. Knowing men and dogs, the workmen were probably feeding him treats and pieces of their breakfast so he hung around. So we drive back to my friend's house, and luckily my husband shows up and we were reunited, but exhausted after looking for the dog for 2 hours. By that time I was in no mood to put both dogs anywhere but with me, as I couldn't stand any more worry so I just told my husband to cancel the other kennel. We pondered whether we should have put both dog"s there but the new dog was nervous and when we went the day before to check out the boarding facility, I think Cash thought we were going to dump him at yet another noisy animal rescue, as he was jittery and kept looking for me. We decided that if it was too hot and we couldn't get back to shore from the boat I would stay with the dogs and forgo the lesson. As it turned out it was a rather cool day and there were a lot of tall trees surrounding the parking lot and the guy teaching the lesson said I could come back to shore and check on the dogs from time to time, so it worked out after all. What a way to spend my birthday weekend! Thank goodness our little family was reunited. We didn't even run out of gas! The new dog Cash(the Australian Shepherd-longer haired dog), is finally settling in, there were a few trials and tribulations, like fear peeing. He jumped out of the window in the hotel parking lot, I screamed in a deep tone"noooo" he came to me and peed on my ankle right on the bare skin and ankle bracelet below my capri pants, it was such a perfect shot I just laughed, and realized I had to be careful with my reprimand tone with him. There was about a weeks worth of daily dog tussles, and Cash chewed up one of my favorite wooden knitting needles-he's a sheep dog after all,maybe he's trying to tell me I need some sheep! but the testosterone has subsided 6 weeks after his neutering and we're all getting along just fine. So getting a new dog is always filled with adjustment periods and having an old dog is never dull. Happy dog walking to all.
Thanks to my Czech friend for finding the dog, and for all the design and tech help over the years, oh yeah and for the great friendship too!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Getting to know you- Cash, our new Aussie Shepherd

Now that my Blue Heeler is 11 and not as active as he once was I went looking for a rescue Aussie shepherd or Border Collie purebred/ mix, to be my new walking companion and shelter dog, training helper. My Heeler is a tad arthritic and is now in semi-retirement, not to the golf course but to the sofa and truck. I was a little frantic there for awhile, looking for that perfect special dog in need of a family. The trouble with me is that I love most all dogs and trying to figure out exactly which one fit the criteria I was looking for became somewhat overwhelming. I looked in our shelter but the aussie we had already had a hold on her, I missed a day and someone swooped in and fell in love with her. I combed the website, where you can find a pet available for adoption. I Searched the Aussie shepherd and Border Collie rescue sites in my area and even some not in my area but within reasonable driving distance. For a dog obsessed woman on the hunt for the perfect additional dog, "reasonable," included Canada, Seattle, and Montana even though I live in North Idaho. We once had some people drive from Idaho Falls- nine hours away- to get a lovely purebred Springer Spaniel that was at our shelter, so reasonable is a relative term when one finds love on the internet! I combed the Spokane shelters last week and found an adorable Tri-color Border Collie who when I said excitedly, "oh your so cuute!" basically chimed back in the same tone and length of sentence in dog speak, reiterating" I want you too" but alas someone else got there first and he had a serious hold placed on him, and the girl who wanted him kept calling back to see if the owner had claimed him as he was not free to be released for Linkadoption yet. I was feeling rather frantic, the kind of frantic and obsessed I've seen women become when desperate to have their second child. Since I have no children, this was the closest I'd get to baby fever. I persisted in making contacts and putting the word out for what I was looking for and called the wonderful devoted Mary Ann, of Inland Northwest rescue
I also called and talked to Joan, one of the Idaho representatives, of Pacific Northwest Border Collie Rescue who is located down in Southern Idaho and she said that she often transports dogs up North here to Inland Northwest Rescue, which is how I came upon my beautiful Aussie Shepherd who we named Cash, after the musician Johnny Cash, and another favorite border collie mix named Cash we had a few years back at our shelter, who I had fostered. Initially our new dog's name was Simon, and then Rufus and Rudy but we weren't too fond of the name Simon, and I have seen many dogs at the shelter adapt to new names rather quickly, with proper bonding and repetition of the new name and he seems to respond well to Cash so that's his new name. The shelter staff have also given a dog a new name if it had come from less than terrific circumstances thus allowing the dog be born again/reborn into a new name and new, hopefully happier, life. We bandied about an assortment of names from Rudy, to Huck short for Huckelberry Finn, Lucky, Chance, Alfie, but the name Cash seemed amenable to us all. So here we go starting into a new adventure with a gorgeous wonderful new rescue dog, who is a tad frightened but doing well, he slept most of the way home in the car, marked inside the house once and went to the bathroom outside in the morning! Knock on wood ,so far so good. I'm always careful with new dogs to take them out frequently especially before bedtime, first thing in the morning, and about 10 minutes after meals, and use the same word" potty" and then praise them if they actually go. A few times I've actually stooped to lifting my leg and making "pst pst pst" sounds and saying "potty?" and oddly enough the male dogs understood what I was trying to say and urinated outside. Of course I live in the country with no neighbors, a person might look a tad odd doing this in a suburban backyard! My little Blue Heeler seems to be adjusting well to this relatively mellow, recently neutered new member of the family. It's been rather hot here so I'm taking a break from volunteering at the shelter as it's not good for the dogs to be out walking in the heat. I'm just having so much fun getting to know my new dog. Thanks Mary Ann for helping this dog and all the others you have helped over the years.Thanks for making it possible for us to adopt this special guy, we just adore him. Thanks also to Joan of Idaho Domestic Animal Welfare Group
for helping to rescue and transport my new dog.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mongo adopted

Well it just goes to show that there is someone for everyone. Mongo (the black dog)was adopted to be a running buddy which is a perfect fit for him, I'm hoping that they are long distance marathon runners!, The handsome boy who I worked with since January and another female volunteer also worked with,(she seemed more smitten with him than I was, it was more of a personal challenge for me), was finally adopted and can now hop up into his special persons car, instead of laying down next to mine, wishing to be taken home.He will now become a friend, companion and personal trainer. Funny this being said, I actually had bumper stickers made up awhile ago, with the design and graphic arts help from my dear Czech friend-, with Mongo's picture on them .

I think Mongo had an attitude quickening of sorts because a week or so before he was adopted he was put in a pen with a large intimidating female Bulldog mix(pictured above,and available for adoption) who may have adjusted his attitude a bit, heck she certainly acquired a healthy respect from me, that's for sure. So who's to say that the companionship of a strong woman was enough to whip him into shape or not, but sometimes that's the way it goes. Happy trails big guy, you taught me a lot.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Close encounters of the Border Collie kind

This was a very sweet border collie mix that showed up at the shelter and was adopted after about 2 weeks.I had one who looked pretty similar show up at my house once. I was sitting in my pottery studio throwing pots when my husband came back from town. He opened the door to my studio and the conversation went something like this;
" what's up with that one?"
me "what's up with that one what?"
"that dog you brought home"
me "what dog, what are you talking about?"
"you don't have to try and hide it, that dog, sitting on the front porch"
me "what dog sitting on the front porch?"
and with that I got up, washed the clay off of my hands and went out to see what he was talking about. On my front doorstep , which is covered by part of my wraparound porch, was a very sweet, very frightened, border collie Heeler mix(she looked similar to the dog in these photos) soaking wet and trembling. I brought her in, toweled her off, offered her food and water and proceeded to try and figure out who she belonged to.
She didn't look familiar, as I walk about a 3 mile radius from my house in many directions and had a pretty good idea of who the dog owners were and what kind of dogs they had.
I called the Humane Society and asked if anyone called in missing a dog of her description and no one had, so I left my contact info in case any one called in looking for her. She was an older dog, about 9-10 years old about the same age, weight, and height, as my Blue Heeler.
I put "found dog" fliers up at the post office and the library, asked the post man and U.P.S. man if they knew who she belonged to and got no answers. No one seemed to be missing her, or knew who she belonged to, so I decided that someone must have dumped her off as she was an older dog, and people often dump off their unwanted pets in the country thinking that they'll go live on a nice farm. She was a very sweet well behaved dog, and quickly fit into our routine. My blue heeler actually seemed to like her which was unusual as he is for the most part rather indifferent to the foster dogs and shelter dogs, preferring his position as my special dog, the others are just visitors in need of training. Pascual would frolick and play with her in an older dog kind of way,and seemed pleased with her company. One day my husband and I were out planting trees, a quarter mile down the property. It was a muddy day and I didn't want the dogs getting wet and muddy so I left them in the house. After twenty minutes, I see Molly the name we gave the border collie mix, and my dog, trotting down the driveway with Molly out in front, and Pascual sheepishly following behind her. I turned to my husband and said" I knew I shut the door" sure enough she had figured out how to open it. I went back and shut the door and then let them stay with us as they seemed to want to be outside with us. I was very nice and kind to Molly and having decided that after two weeks had gone by where no one had called to claim her I would just keep her, so she was swaddled in affection and got to sleep on the rug. I have many of my handmade hooked rugs all over the house that are particularly soft for the dogs, and I also had dog beds out for her so she just fit comfortably into our household. She bonded quickly and liked to sleep on the porch and would do 5 foot guard duty shifts, rotating around the porch like clockwork. At first I was thinking "where's Molly she was laying there a minute ago?" and then she would be five feet further down the deck. So she got used to us and we got used to her habits. At first I thought she was a bit daft or had a touch of senility, but then there seemed to be some sort of guarding method to her madness. Now, I have a very smart dog, an Australian Cattle dog a.k.a a Blue Heeler but he is a tad lazy or perhaps smart enough to know that he doesn't have to work that hard to get his needs met, but this Border Collie/Heeler mix took the cake. She was the smartest dog I had ever had first hand experience with. She could open doors, and then she really spooked my husband because she started closing them behind her( they could have been blown shut, but who knows, it happened often) I watched her do it once, she looked around first to see if anyone was looking and then jumped up and opened it with her paws. She didn't know I was watching her. Then she started opening drawers in the kitchen," hey Pascual, look it's the garlic and onion drawer" and my dog would trot over. I was starting to get a little annoyed, wondering if I was going to have to padlock the fridge, and then I stopped one evening and just looked at her. She looked back at me with a "so here I am what is it you want to know about me" look on her face and I just let go of the annoyance and then marvelled at her presence, spirit, and intelligence, and had a much deeper respect and admiration for her after that. I worked in the inner city some years ago, with disadvantaged youth and recall a 14 year old girl with an exceptional level of intelligence. When I was in my early twenties and college educated, this young girl had an intellectual grasp of subjects from History to Politics to Art and seemed like more of a peer than a student. One day I was able to see her in action with her mother, and was saddened to see that her mother appeared to have no clue as to what an exceptionally intelligent daughter she had. The mother seemed exasperated,and treated her daughter with derision as if she was just an insolent smart mouthed kid who needed to be put in her place and respect adult authority. It was so sad to me that there was such a huge perception gap and that the daughter had to live with someone who put her down for her talents and didn't recognize what an intelligent gift her daughter possessed. I just feel that it's so important to try and understand pets and people for their uniqueness, and see and work with what actually is there rather than what we expect or project on our pets or fellow human beings.

One thing that never sat right in my mind was the fact that Molly the dog, showed up at my door with a brand new pretty purple collar on but with no identification tags or rabies tag on the collar. I kept wondering why would someone leave a new, seemingly expensive collar on a dog that they were going to dump off, that didn't make sense. Months went by and she fit right into our routines. She was pretty low maintenance, easily trained, spent hours on the porch and then came into the house and was comfortable with my heeler. Even though she was older, she still went for 2 and a half mile walks around the neighborhood with me, Pascual, and my friend with her dog and horse. Molly got along with everyone and I had grown to love her and respect her intelligence. I often take my dogs with me in the car if the weather is good so I noticed every time I drove past a certain place about 4 miles from my house Molly would get antsy and jump around in the car. When she first showed up I had called everyone I knew in about a 3 mile radius asking them if they knew whose dog it was, and no one did. I took her to my vet to get shots and they hadn't recognized her. I also did everything possible putting up signs, asking delivery men if they knew who the dog belonged to. I knew one guy who lived in that area where the dog got excited, and he worked in town and I just so happened to be at his place of business, on a sunny afternoon while I had my dogs in the car with the windows down. I said hey J, do you know whose dog this is?, she seems to get excited around your house" Hey says no, and then "wait a minute" apparently there were some newer people who had moved in next to him and the woman had lost her dog. I asked for her name and then mulled over whether I should call her or not.The thoughts went through my mind"why didn't she call the humane society looking for her dog?" "why didn't she put signs up?" "what kind of person, what kind of scenario would make a person not look for their beloved pet?"why didn't she have Identification on her or a rabies tag?" So all these thoughts are going through my mind, and I'm wondering why I didn't think about all this before I asked the man for the womans phone number, and then sometimes things have a way of getting ahead of you and taking their own course. I asked my friend who is a good judge of human nature and an animal person what did she think about a person who didn't look for her dog, and she seemed to think that maybe it wasn't a good owner who didn't deserve their dog back so all this was going through my mind but I sort of allready started the ball rolling so I thought I should just call and talk to her and try and figure out what to do from there. I called the woman and was thinking to myself; if she's o.k and has some kind of reason for not looking for her dog, then I would return the dog. I was,however, going to ask for my $50 dollars back, that I spent getting the dog vaccinated at the vets office. I felt that it was only fair for me, the person who went through all the trouble and proper procedures trying to locate the pets owner, and then upon thinking I would adopt it, went to get the dog vet checked and vaccinated. I called the woman and explained that I had talked to the neighbor and thought that I had her dog. She was somewhat shocked, emotional and mistrustful all at the same time. I agreed to meet her at her house, which in hindsight probably wasn't a good idea and not something I would do in the future. I drove over there and the dog got out and seemed very happy, jumping and running around familiar territory and visiting with the woman. The woman was still pretty reluctant, unfriendly and dare I say, annoyed. I explained to her that the dog had shown up in the middle of a thunderstorm, and she said that the dog was always spooked by thunderstorms and that, that explained why she had run off and apparently kept running. I told her that I went to a certain veterinarian 15 miles away, for the examination and vaccinations and she was annoyed because she said that the dog allready had those shots and why did I go to that veterinarian's office, the vet in town was less expensive. At that point I was getting a little more than miffed.There I was, a good samaritan, taking your dog in for 3 months, caring for it extremely well, feeding it, taking it to the veterinarians and getting it vaccinated, going to all this trouble trying to reunite the dog with it's rightful owner and all you can say is in an annoyed tone" why did I go to that vet, it's so expensive, and the dog had allready had the shots?" Well how was I to know? what am I psychic? The dog didn't have any identification on it and no rabies tag. If she had only spent the 5 to 10 dollars to get identification on the dog she would have had it back the afternoon it showed up, at no cost. My own dog is microchipped, as well as having identification tags and a rabies tag on him. I had checked Molly for a micro chip at the Humane Society, but she wasn't chipped.

I suppose my annoyance was showing back, then she said I'll pay you your 50 dollars, which I thought was actually reasonable. The only reason I didn't go to the vet in our small town is that she is so rarely open and never seemed to have any vaccines on hand, that I stopped going to her years ago and forgot she was even there. Upon calling later, I realized that this vet was even more expensive for the vaccinations so I don't know what this woman was even talking about. The woman agreed to pay me and I told her she needed to switch the name on the rabies tag call number from ours to hers. She said her young son loved the dog and would be so happy that it was back, and she told me that the dog had run off years ago and came back to them from some 40 miles away so she thought that this time the dog, being older had just run off to die, that's why she didn't look for it. I thought that's strange that someone's projections of their worst fear would keep them from actually verifying whether it was fact or not, but whatever. So I gave the dog back, got reimbursed for the vet bill and went home feeling angry, annoyed, and unsettled but glad that at least a little boy would be reunited with his dog. Upon reflecting upon all this I remembered that I had met the woman in the summertime while riding my bike. The family was new to the neighborhood and I had remembered that the farm was for sale. I had to walk my bike past her place and saw her out with a horse. I said" hello" as I am rather friendly and most people out here are friendly and they were new to the neighborhood, but the woman seemed crabby, annoyed, and not wanting to be bothered. So I just thought the heck with you, here I go being friendly and she was just this side of rude which explained her demeanor when I returned her dog. So strange, that a young person with a kid, new to a neighborhood would be so standoffish and unappreciative of all that I had done for her dog, but whatever. It takes all kinds I guess, maybe that's why she moved to the country, to get away from people. When I drove past her house,and saw her with the dog, I waved a few times, but she would just look the other way, so I don't bother any more. This whole interaction also brought to mind a strange phenomenon I have observed where a few standoffish people I have casually known, had friendly, happy dogs. Most of the time the dog adapts to the personality of it's owner, that is a friendly person has a friendly dog, a wary, shy person has a wary dog etc.., I have run into a few people who have dogs that don't really match their personalities. I wonder if the dog in this scenario is some kind of benefactor, come to help the people with the difficult personalities. Oh well, just another theory to pursue. As for myself it is often the difficult people like this who make me turn to help the dogs as I find the dogs so much more pleasant and less complicated to deal with. I kept wondering why the dog didn't just walk back to it's home, as I had left her unattended for hours at a time on the porch while I was inside the house(I don't leave them out when I'm not there) We all easily walked close to the same distance around the neighborhood, and it would have been fairly simple for her to have walked a straight line home. I guess Molly was happy with us, she had a husband in my Blue heeler, a horse to walk with in my friend's horse. I guess her life was similar to what she had been used to, and I made it very comfortable for her. So there I was again, down to one dog who seemed to miss his special girlfriend, at least he had the pleasure of a partner bond for a little while. At times they looked like an old married couple together, where the woman was a little smarter than the man. Perhaps it's all part of pondering the imponderable, participating in a grander plan. For now I keep going, helping the dogs, trying to understand the people, trying to make sense of it all, and marvelling at how these stories unfold. People, dogs, community,non verbal communication, and time, strange ingredients in this recipe of life with dogs.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Solving Puzzles

One of the things I find so interesting about working with shelter dogs, is that there is a puzzle to piece together, a mystery to solve. I was initially a Dance major in college before I switched to a major in Fine arts and then 2 more extra years after my B.A., taking undergraduate level Psychology courses. I was always a sensitive person who could glean information about people through body language. I was always intrigued by non verbal communication, and I've participated in various kinds of movement workshops. Recently, I have been exploring the concept of communicating/conveying ideas in terms of of training, or getting a desired behavior from the dogs and decided to try an experiment with my dog. I wanted to see if I could get him to come to me without using language. I usually call his name and then say "come" with or without a hand signal so I decided I would use no language or hand signals just sound and tone and the corresponding naturally occurring body movements that went along with the sound and tone. It worked. I just used high pitched happy sounding noises and my body made corresponding, non exaggerated, dancing around movements. It worked and the dog came running over to me, with a tad funny unsure look on his face, but wiggling around and all excited,and then I laughed and got all excited back as I was pleased that he grasped my intentions. I repeated this experiment about 6 times as I wanted to make sure it wasn't a fluke, and it worked every time. By that point my smart Heeler had seen this as a new fun game we learned to play,and he was visibly happy and excited like when we play fetch with his nylabone (now that he is older we don't play so much, so it was fun to see him all excited like a young dog again). I was then curious to know if the experiment would work with my husband. He was up for the challenge, and had his own male approach which was lower in tone but a kind of excited hum/kazoo sound, and it worked for him too. The dog came to him in what looked to the dog, like a fun game and the dog was all excited to have gotten what we were trying to do and to have seemingly pleased us in that we were both relaxed, and laughing. I tried the experiment with my friend and her dog. She took a different approach and made a puppy whining sound instead of a non specific sound. Her dog tilted it's head from side to side in a kind of "what is this, she usually doesn't do this" way and then went to her. I was also able to get her dog to come to me just using sound and intention. All throughout this process, I kept getting the feeling that we were reinventing the caveman/ dog bond that has developed over time in pre- language history. A fun time was had by all.

In working with the shelter dogs, I've at times had to use quick deep "ehh" kind of like a buzzer sound, direct, deep and to the point if I was caught off guard with a shelter dog who was about to jump into the street while on the leash, or pull after another dog. The sound- deep direct,short, usually stops them in their tracks and then I tell them to "come" or "this way" in command tone, to change direction.Since I am working with dogs I don't get to spend that much time with, I've developed my own short hand, works in a pinch method, as I'm usually walking one or two dogs in an hour and don't have time to put up with non cooperative, nonsense in the dogs. They usually read my, "I mean business" body language, and get with the program or they quickly learn that they won't get to go. The outside kennels are lined up in a row with 2 rows across from each other so the dogs can often see what's going on, who is walking which dog,which dog to human interaction is allowing a certain dog to get walks. On occasion, if a dog I'm working with is being stubborn I'll forgo him for another first, and parade it past him and praise the other dog's good behavior in the yard outside the kennels where the difficult dog can see that good cooperative behavior gets praise and walks.The difficult dogs, sometimes get it, although I am careful to not provoke too much jealousy(it depends on the dogs involved)The dogs are smart and watch what goes on. Each dog is different, within breeds there is variation, within litters there is variation. I have come to walk a dog and stop and objectively try and view it, that is, see what is going on without any preconceived ideas. I try and see what it needs; some need perking up, some need settling down and a calm demeanor in me, some need to learn trust, some just need to expel energy and get basic obedience, some need major socialization with people and other animals. The challenge for me is to see what the specific needs are and try and help that dog.

My father died of the disease A.L.S./ Lou Gehrig's disease some years back. When he was in the hospital and completely paralyzed except for the ability to move an eye, we had to use an alphabet chart in order to figure out what he wanted to communicate. For some reason, I was always the first person to be able to figure out what he wanted after one or two letters, sort of like the TV show Wheel of Fortune, where you piece together a word from single letters and win a prize. I knew my father fairly well, and then I was very present, that is not distracted by my own thoughts or what I was going to do in the future, etc.., so I just looked at my dad and around the room and put together what I thought he might want at that moment; water, the TV shut off, a nurse if he was really agitated. So we read the non verbal signs and signals around us and try and piece together the needs of those who can communicate, but just not with the same language we are used to.This is what I find so interesting about working with the dogs, the challenge of finding out what I need to do to help them. The challenge of understanding their unique world and what it takes to communicate with them.

puzzle image attributed to

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My East Coast, Tough Guy, dog training voice

I've found my dog training voice, sort of like how a writer finds their writers voice. Since I grew up in New Jersey it is a sort of "Hey you, I'm talking to you" East coast, tough guy vibe with a bit of an edge to it , along the lines of what you may have heard on a Soprano's TV show episode. I'm frequently in this mode when I have to convince a dog that is 2/3rd's my size to listen to me, and pay attention to me. With the dogs that are not quite so big or stubborn, I primarily use a crabby edgy tone to my voice that breaks through to them when giving commands, but doesn't scare them. How many times have I heard people talk to dogs in a non specific, flurry of words (without any specific energy behind them), kind of way that just sounds like so much mumbling to a dog. If you are specific, consistent and clear in terms of throwing your voice in an-I mean it- edgy way, like if your kid is about to get near a fire or something dangerous, you can get the dog's attention and respect. You are stopping them in their tracks with your voice and a command. You are basically communicating in tone first, that's what gets their attention.You are grabbing them with your voice. Tone with a consistent command will instill the behavior.To further grasp the concept I had a friend say negative things to her dog in a happy voice" Oh you're such a bad, naughty, dreadful dog" but all said in a happy tone, the dog wagged it's tail and just assumed she was happy and everything was great. The dog is listening to the tone, and reading your emotion and body language. In happy talk tone the dog thinks" oh things are good everyone's content" if you are talking to them in command tone they think" Oh I'm supposed to be focusing and doing something here" if you use the growly, deep, stop them in their tracks tone they think"oh I messed up" they stop and then you can re- direct them with a " come" and then praise, in happy talk tone. The dogs don't really understand words said without tone, tone gets their attention, gets them to think and key in, then the command tells them what to do.

The other observation I have about training comes from my initial introduction into true dog training by Barbara Woodhouse. Before watching the English Dog trainer at work in a video I used to think that training was sort of a mechanical, going through the motions, rote learning, repetitive act. In the program I saw, they asked Barbara Woodhouse why she was so good at dog training. She passed her hand lovingly over the dogs head and then answered"because I love them so much" This was eye opening to me. I made the connection that training is first about the loving bond you develop playing with the dog, caressing it, getting the dog to think you are the most wonderful exciting thing in it's life, and treating the dog like it's such a wonderful important part of your life. When you talk to a dog saying how cute and wonderful it is, and you mean it, most of the time you can see a beaming with pride or adoration reaction in them, for instance; a devoted look, tail wag, full body wiggle or a dancy little "I'm so cute" walk. If the dog is spacing out or not paying attention You might want to work on this bonding process. Also repeat the commands at various times of the day, in and outside of the house and then praise. A lot of people don't emphasize the happy praise enough. They seem to think the dog did what I wanted so I'll just say" good" and pat it on the head in a lackadaisical manner and that's enough. Well if you get the response you want that may be enough but if you want to have a dog pay more attention to you, you have to make it fun and exciting and up the emotional ante. Just some advice I've arrived at through reading training books, trial and error and experience, hope it helps those out there that need it. One of the books that helped me a lot in training dogs is
Good Owners Great Dogs

This is the only Mike Marino video I could find without cursing in it but you'll get an idea of the accent. He's one funny Comedian, a New Jersey born Italian with attitude. If you don't mind the cursing you can find more of him on Youtube

Here is my favorite dog trainer Barabara Woodhouse again for those who missed the previous post

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Helping the ones I love verses helping the ones who need me

Some new kids, 2 adorable one year oldish German Shepherds who are off getting fixed and will be back next week and available for adoption. They seem very friendly, playful, and nice so far.

The black dog is Mongo, he's been at the shelter for months now, I've been working with him since January. He's at the point now where he's better on the leash and after we walk I put my dog in the car and then Mongo tries to hop in my car and when I tell him no and pull him back he lays down and goes limp next to my car as if to say" don't you get it I want to go home with you and I'm not budging" I'm not one to have conversations with dogs as if they were humans, very often but since he's rather a special case I tell him" you're going to have to learn to behave a little bit better and work with me if you're wanting that scenario" I'm not sure if it quite registers with him. I've tried all my training tricks ,assessments as to what his needs may be, but I fall short in that I don't have the time to train him everyday, and with gas at $3.08 a gallon around here I'm not inclined to go rushing off to town unless I have other reasons to go and can work dog walking in. So after ten years of volunteering I'm level headed enough to know that I'm doing the best I can and hope that it makes a difference.

This brown dog is Sophia a sweet Chesapeake Bay Retreiver, my current favorite, easy to walk a joy to be around, always has that happy camper tail wagging when I talk to her and tell her how cute she is.

Sometimes I am torn between helping the adorable dogs that I have an affinity for, which does not necessarily mean that they are the societal standard of cute but just that they speak to me, or helping the dogs that are more difficult and really need work and help. If I have time I try and do both as the more problematic ones will most likely end up being there the longest until they get socialized, trained, and learn to trust people. At times lately after ten years of volunteering I treat myself to working with an easy, happy dog. I've spent many hours with huge untrained dogs half to two thirds of my size in what amounts to a martial arts battle of wills, testing both my physical skill and mental acumen. I do a lot of work with these dogs, but every now and then I just need the reward of a sweet happy dog who's relatively easy to walk to help keep my spirits up and continue to reinforce my desire to help the more difficult cases

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Blue/Pascual- post for Jackie

This is my little Blue Heeler who came to us as Blue who is also called Pascual or lately Kiwi as he is an Australian Cattle dog who loves to eat kiwis. He will actually perk up and come running over as if I dropped a steak on the floor if I cut open a kiwi for myself and he stares at me as if to say " I want some" so I give it to him and he eats quite a bit of it. Jackie rescued him out of the Boise animal shelter and then gave him to us in 2000. We just love him to pieces. He's about 11 years old now and doing fine, perfectly healthy but slowing down a bit. He walks with me and the shelter dogs but is usually only good for about half an hour now before I put him back in the car. If we are hiking out in the woods he perks up and will go longer about an hour or hour and a half before he gets sore and favors his shoulder a bit. I probably need to put him back on the glucosamine and chondrontin but am leery as to where all the products are coming from lately and how high the quality is. This is Blue/Pascual out on the beautiful bike path which is part of an extensive bike trail system of about 60 miles. This part is around Lake Coeur d' Alene outside of Coeur d' Alene Idaho, a resort town north of where I live. We like to bike and walk on this beautiful path fairly often in the spring and summer.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Healing people training dogs

(The dog in the photo is a dog available for adoption and not the dog referred to in the following story)

There is a woman I walk with from time to time. We take our dogs and go on long nature walks discussing life and business and the state of the world and our families. I noticed that she was having trouble getting her dog to come when she called her. I offered up advice. I said you should use three separate tones of voice with the dog. 1) a friendly, happy talk tone, praising good behavior, 2) a matter of fact,direct, command tone, such as "come"3) a growly tone when you have to say "No" and stop the dog in it's tracks if it's about to run off and get into trouble. It's the growly tone that sort of mimics a mother dog to her pup. Well I told her this advice on three separate occasions and my friend is a very bright woman with advanced degrees and yet she wouldn't try out the advice. Hm, I thought, this is interesting. I'm not one to push advice once I've offered it. My feeling is I offered what I thought might help her and explained the reasoning and need to be consistent with the commands to her. I thought to myself, this is interesting, she heard the advice but for some reason isn't interested in seeing if it would work.I just let the issue go and continued to view the problem silently to myself. Her dog would come to me but I was consistent with it and used the three different tones, so she could see that the advice actually had some effect. One day we were talking about our childhood memories and she explained that there was a lot of anger and yelling in her house, and it was very scary and uncomfortable for her growing up. Bingo, I made the connection. This was the reason why she could not use the growly tone with the dog because it brought up so many bad memories for her and made her feel uncomfortable.We discussed the insight and it registered with her. I asked if it would be okay for me to discuss this in a blog post and she said fine, as I thought it might give insight into the training issues of others. So it's not just dogs we are training but at times we are helping people to remain in the present state and perhaps help heal some past issues. I can't say that the problem is completely resolved but at least there is light shed on the issue, and some understanding . Healing takes time and dog training, depending on the dog and owner can take time as well

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lucky Lilly, Lenny, Wimbleton, and Chewy

These guys were recently adopted. It's rather quiet around here lately, a few puppies, Mongo and a couple of red heeler mixes plus a starved pit bull who seems so sad and sweet. The Chesapeake Bay sisters are getting spayed at the moment. Mongo was incredibly good today and rather puppyish/ mellow in his expressions. Maybe he's finally calming down.Chewy was starting to be a favorite. Many people overlook black dogs but they are often very special. Chewy was mixed with Border collie and Black Labrador Retreiver, There is always something in the border collie nature that speaks to me. He had this uncanny way of snapping out of dog world and morphing into human, or at least dog that understands English or human speak, spirit. I was in his pen with another dog and they were both jumping all over me and trying to grab the leash out of my hands. One was jumping on my back and it was just overall chaos. I looked at Chewy and said very matter of factly "settle" and wouldn't you know he did just that. The light bulb went off in my head- here's one that will key in and listen. I started walking him and realized that he was very keen on learning and cooperating. He would even sit still for photos, or would stand and wait patiently if I would stop briefly for a phone call on the walk. I'm sure whoever adopted him will adore him and get to know how very special he is. Thanks to the community for all the adoptions, and remember, those black dogs can be so incredibly special.(I've had 2 black rescue dogs myself over the years)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Colby (the dog and the Starving Armenian)- a story from my book

(A little background, in case you don't read my other blogs which can be found by clicking on-view my complete profile. I'm the granddaughter of an Armenian immigrant who fled the genocide in Turkey in 1915. During this time the term- Starving Armenian- was used a lot as the people who were not killed fled, often with no food and nothing but the clothes on their backs. Don't ask me what cosmic joke saw fit to allow me, the granddaughter of an Armenian genocide survivor, to end up with anorexia as a way to handle the distressing situations of my life, but so be it.The anorexia was in the past, I'm quite healthy and have been for a long time, it's just part of the overall story)


Colby and I had some karmic business to attend to, not that I always go in for this sort of stuff but often times life stares you in the face and offers you a chance to find resolution. Colby came into the shelter as a stray, and immediately became so disheartened that he stopped eating. As a former anorexic myself, how could I not be moved by such a dog. He spent his days curled up into a tiny ball with his hipbones sticking out, right up next to the gate in an outdoor group kennel. He wanted to make sure that if the door were opened he'd be the first one out. It was as if by lying in that spot he was willfully projecting himself out of there. His other dog mates would romp around with each other or lay up under the leanto, but not Colby. He was finally moved to his own private pen that had an individual doghouse in it, that we had put a blanket in. He'd crawl into the doghouse and sleep there most of the day. The staff was so worried that he'd starve to death on their watch, that they put him on anti-anxiety medication. I started walking him in the hopes that the special attention and exercise might help him to work up an appetite. If ever a dog could convey the persona of a disaffected jazz musician, he was it. He was a real cool cat of a dog. He stood fairly tall for a dog 70lbs. at normal weight, and was just so naturally low key. He'd walk alongside Blue( my dog) and I in a very well mannered disaffected way. He enjoyed being petted and receiving attention and had a lovelorn "I can't imagine why you'd want to bother expending energy on me" sort of look in his eye. We'd walk downtown at a leisurely pace. At times I'd stop to grab a coffee or snack, and tie the dogs up to a post for a few minutes. They would just sit politely waiting for me. Colby had the saddest eyes with the most pained look in them. It was a combination of pain and distance, with a touch of daring to yearn to come back from whatever faraway place he'd escape to. It was as if he wasn't sure whether or not to continue living, and whether engaging again with people, was really worth the trouble. He decided that his living situation at the shelter was intolerable and since he couldn’t escape he stopped eating. I had been in this situation myself years ago and was struck that this animal came to the same conclusion to handle its suffering as I had, but then his circumstances started to change a little with my consistent walks and attention. Perhaps this was truly full circle for me. I could intervene in his life and make a difference, even though in my own life my suffering went unnoticed. He wasn't needy, just dejected. His sadness just made you love him even more. I took to putting him in my car with Blue while I drove around town doing errands, just so he would be less lonely. He didn't always smell so terrific and he was too skinny for me to wash him and let him sit outside in the cold until he dried off, so I just damp towel washed him and put him in my car on a giant horse blanket. Such are the sacrifices one makes for troubled animals with broken hearts. Besides, the car had 100,000. miles on it anyway. I’d take him for long walks of at least an hour or so. He grew fond of us and started to finally regain some of the weight he'd lost and his hipbones became less pronounced. He would visually key in on my car as it pulled into the parking lot and also as it pulled away .He would sing in a low, muted, grumbly, "wu wu wu” at times when he saw me approaching, which was the height of enthusiasm for him. One day, I had him in the front passenger seat of my car while we were traveling to a small artsy town 15 miles away. He was curled up with his head facing me and resting on my emergency brake. He looked up at me with such profound love and tenderness that tears came to my eyes. I would have adopted him then and there but my husband wasn’t as smitten with him as I was. The shelter staff felt sorry for him too, and one of the gals was aching to foster him if he wasn’t adopted soon. We had our yearly benefit luncheon for the shelter at our local community center so I took Colby and my dog Blue over there with me in the car. I had had them in the car previously, but only unattended for twenty minutes at a time, before I returned to check on them. I got carried away at the benefit and found myself talking to a couple of the board members discussing the lengths we go to for our pets. I playfully found myself chiming in with ”yeah I know what you mean, I’ve got this dog who’s on anti-anxiety medication with me in my car” Then I realized they had been in the car for over two hours instead of the usual twenty minutes we were all accustomed to. All of a sudden, I was the one experiencing anxiety. I jokingly quipped “my husbands been wanting a new car anyway, maybe this will be the deciding factor” and I excused myself and went to check on them. I didn’t know what to expect; seat cushions torn up? Stuffing everywhere? When I finally reached the car, Colby was sprawled out on the back seat yawning and stretching, and Blue was in the far back. Not one sign of damage anywhere. Phew! A couple of weeks later Colby was adopted. I ran into the women who had adopted him while they were walking together downtown. She seemed so sweet, kind and gentle: a female complement to his sensitive nature. He came right up to me and I patted him on the head. I was so happy for them both. My little Colby cheese dog, my nickname for him, finally back to health.