Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Trip To The Vet

Luke, Leia and I took a trip to the vet last week. I'll admit that I was a bit concerned. The person who surrendered them said they were not good around other dogs and while I haven't once seen any behavior in them that would make me believe this, there's nothing like a vet office full of stressed out pets to make  a dog fall apart.

Waiting for the vet and paying close attention to the wild and crazy Labradoodle puppy across the room

I bought some rotisserie chicken to bring along as a high value treat as well as a distraction and off to the vet we went, armed with my treat pouch and my Baskerville muzzle for Luke.

Happily it was a cool day and I was able to leave them in the car rather than spend a lot of time in the waiting area since there always seem to be plenty of puppies in vet waiting areas along with their clueless people thinking all dogs want to meet their obnoxious, pushy dog.

When we did finally go in both dogs were a dream. They sat on the scale and patiently (well, Luke was patient and Leia was like a spring that was set and waiting be sprung) waited for their reinforcement of chicken. Then they sat in the clinic room and Luke let me put on his muzzle. Honestly, I don't really think he needed it but best to be safe since there was a male vet tech working.

Luke wearing his muzzle. Notice him licking his lips? Muzzle=lots of great treats in Luke's mind thanks to our training

Both dogs needed blood drawn for their annual heartworm tests, Luke needed a nail trim and Leia has a lump aspirated. All good news - negative heartworm tests and the lump is just a sebaceous cyst.

They went back in the car during the long wait to pay the bill and then we were on our way. Easy peasy with two dogs happy and with bellies full  of chicken. A very happy ending, thanks to prepping them to be ready for exams, pokes and prods.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Muzzling Up

While 99.9% of the time Luke is a very easy laid back dog, he is pretty fearful in new situations, especially with unknown people handling him. Because in a couple very terrifying situations in the past Luke has bit so he could get away I decided to teach him how to tolerate a muzzle and actually not just tolerate it but instead see a muzzle as a positive thing. All dogs should be exposed to muzzling because if there is an emergency and they need to be muzzled because of pain it won't be one more scary thing being thrown at them. But for a fearful dog a muzzle will keep others safe and in turn that keeps them safe as well. An added bonus to a muzzle is it makes people keep their distance which is exactly what I want them to do since the last thing I want strangers doing is grabbing at Luke. They may mean well but my job is to keep Luke feeling safe and comfortable so I make sure we keep to ourselves when out in public.

I want to stress that Luke is not a scary, aggressive, nasty dog. He is a dog who gets frightened in some very specific situations and my job as his current "person" is to make him and everyone else feel safe and protected in those situations.

Luke desperately needs his nails trimmed and he finds nail trims very frightening. In fact one of the times in the past when he bit was when a man was cutting his nails. I am also working with him to help nail trimming be less scary but we don't have time to fully work through that. His nails need to be trimmed now. So we will be going to the vet later in the week and I want to be at the point where he won't associate the muzzle with a scary trip to the vet or a blood draw or a nail trim. Instead it will be something that he is very used to that will just happen to come with us on our  trip.

For the past few weeks I've been working with him by just feeding him yummy treats from his muzzle. He sticks in his snout and chows down. This week we moved to the next step: actually strapping on the muzzle.

So when I strapped on that muzzle for the first time I used a super high value treat for Luke: hot dogs. As soon as it was buckled I started rapidly pushing bits of hot dog through the opening in the front of the cage muzzle and Luke gladly chowed down. After a short bit of this I took the muzzle off and then offered him a jackpot of a handful of hot dog bits.

Well he thought that was so amazing that he followed me around and sniffed the muzzle a bunch after our practice session hoping for more hot dog to appear. We've been doing this two to three times a day so by the time our vet appointment rolls around on Thursday he will be able to wear the muzzle without any fear or discomfort. Wish us luck!

If you are interested in learning more about muzzle training be sure to check out this blog post: Muzzle Training for Everyone! There are at least 4 other posts about muzzle training that follow this one and it will walk you through the steps of teaching a dog to enjoy muzzling with how to videos included to show the process.

Monday, September 5, 2016


With so many dogs around right now there's no time for blog posts. But I wanted to get a chance to chat about sweet Leia. 

Leia is as active as her brother Luke is laid back. She loves to hunt and will chase any critter that happens to wander into her back yard. In fact, she tries to chase them when they leave the yard as well and we've had to up the security of our fencing. Because of her love of hunting and some experiences by her former family we know she is going to need a cat-free home since chasing cats tops her list of fun activities. 

While she is active when she's outside, like most Rat Terriers when she's inside she's all about finding a nice soft spot to nap and she loves to snuggle up next to anyone on the couch - dog or human. 

We were told that she has food allergies and she was itchy when she first arrived but since arriving she's eaten grain free kibble with several different proteins and the itching has gone away. I think with a good quality food and avoiding corn, wheat and soy in any food or treats will keep her itch free. 

Both her and Luke need to lose a few pounds and she does seem to have taken off some of the extra weight. We have a trip to the vet office planned later in the week so we'll see then if she's lost any weight.

Monday, August 15, 2016


I introduced Luke and Leia in the last post but there wasn't a lot of details about the personalities of each dog so let's get to know Luke today. 

Luke is a handsome dog who loves to snuggle and hang out with people but who needs the time and space to get to know people at his own speed. He lacks confidence but makes up for that in snuggle skills.

Many of the dogs that come through our foster homes have not gotten the life experiences that they needed as puppies and end up very worried about anything new to them for the rest of their lives. They lunge and snarl when on leash because they are afraid of unknown dogs and know the leash takes away their ability to safely avoid a confrontation. They may even snap when they feel cornered and when humans don't pay attention to their body language. 

They can move past a lot of that fear but it takes time and also help from their humans. Luke is this kind of dog. At home in situations and an environment he is comfortable with he seeks out attention and enjoys hanging out with his people and the dogs he lives with. But if you throw new people or situations at him - house guests, rearranged furniture, home repair people, etc. he need his person to give him a safe place to hide out so he can avoid the scary stuff until he feels ready to approach things at his own pace. If his fear is ignored and he is forced to stay in the situation that frightens him behaviors may occur like snapping or biting that could have easily been avoided. 99% of the time he is an easy, happy boy. He just needs his people to set him up so that percentage can move closer to 100%.

Sweet Luke is looking for a home with low key, relaxed parents who are willing to let him take things at his pace. When he is allowed to have a choice in how he approaches a new situation he quickly relaxes. He was fine with Troy and I on the first day. By the 2nd day he felt like he could come downstairs and hang out in the same room with all the dogs and Troy and I. At first he thought that was way too many people and dogs in one room so I just let him stay where he wanted to be - upstairs on a dog bed in a crate - and the next day he decided to venture downstairs to see what he was missing out on. Now he loves the couch down there so much it's tough to get him to come back upstairs!

Luke needs a kid-free, cat-free home. Kids just add too much movement and noise for his liking. He loves to chase cats so kitties would be very unhappy when he is around. 

In the right home Luke is an easy, quiet, undemanding family member with great house manners. But in a home that's not a great fit, he is a different dog and is pretty miserable. So this time round we are hoping to find a home where he will be loved and cherished for the great dog he is.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Introducing Luke and Leia

Luke and Leia were first rescued by New Rattitude back in 2012. About 3 weeks ago their adopter had contacted New Rattitude about returning them and was going to use New Rattitude's ReHome program. In ReHome instead of the dog coming into foster care and filling up a foster space the owner continues to care for the dog in their home but we list them for adoption and do our adoption screening when applications come in. It's a win for both the dogs and us in that the dog doesn't have an extra transition they have to deal with and we can use our foster spots for dogs currently at risk in the shelter.

Four days after we were told they were going to be enrolled in the program we were surprisingly contacted by a shelter to let us know that they had two of our former foster dogs in their care. Luke and Leia had been taken to a shelter. Much scrambling took place to find foster spots and then Seuss was adopted, leaving an opening here for a new dog. So on the 13th I drove to Bremerton and met a volunteer who brought them from Port Angeles to transfer them to New Rattitude.

Chima meeting Luke
So far things are going really well. Introductions with my crew were super easy and there has been no snarking from Luke and Leia and just a bit of the expected corrections from my dogs. They have learned to let new foster dogs know from the beginning what they will and won't tolerate and Luke and Leia have been very good natured about things like Chima's rule that butt sniffs cannot last longer than 3 seconds and Sal's rule that under no circumstances will any dog be allowed to hump her without hell's fury being unleashed upon them.

Chima meeting Leia - both girls had really great body language and loose, waggly tails.

Of course we are in the honeymoon period so it is likely as they learn that they are safe here and start to relax we might have a few behavior things to work through but for now it's going well.


Coming up I'll tell you a little more about each of them but for now the basics are that both dogs are now about 9 years old. Luke weighs 26# and should be about 23# and Leia weighs 24# and should weigh closer to 20#. Neither of them should live with cats. While we don't have their paperwork they appear to be purebred Rat Terriers and have docked tails and upright ears. Stay tuned...

Leia and Luke making themselves at home

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Seuss is Adopted!

Handsome Mister Seuss is adopted and will be heading to his new home tomorrow. We are definitely going to miss this well mannered gentleman. I wish all foster dogs were as easy as he has been.

Seuss' new home will be with a young couple north of Seattle who have been waiting until they had bought a home to bring home a new furry family member. He will have a fenced yard for playtime, a dog walker for midday walks when mom and dad are at work and might even have some Nose Work classes in his future. Seuss is an A+ sniffer so we think he'd be a superstar at Nose Work.

Sniffing an interesting smell at the Rattiefest meetup

We can't wait to hear how he is doing after settling into his new life. Congratulations Seuss! We are going to miss you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Shopping With Seuss

Seuss loves a car ride and gets so excited when he gets to ride around. Getting out of the car and going new places can make him nervous though so we take things slow and keep visits to new places short.

Snuggled into the doggy car seat and ready for the ride

Over the weekend I needed to pick up a small paintbrush at Home Depot and since dogs can be in the store I decided to bring Seuss along.

Waiting with Troy

Checking out a pallet loader driving up the center aisle
While he was a little nervous about all the activity going on around us and the strange sounds and smells, he did great during our short visit and earned himself a fish skin stick after we left the store.

Waiting patiently at checkout