Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Human Training

I'm sure that you've heard about the process of "dog training" but did you know that often dogs do a little "human training" and you don't even know it?

Tilly and Bess had done some "human training" of Troy and I and last night we had to start the process of letting them know that we are the ones who do the training, not them.

The foster dogs sleep in crates in our bedroom at night. We keep the house pretty cold at night so I prefer to have them in either Hunter or our bedroom upstairs where it's warmer. Anyhow, one night I was woken by Tilly, frantically scratching at her crate door. I figured it was a bathroom emergency and carried her crate downstairs and let her outside. She immediately ran and leaped off deck for the nearest fern she could mark. After that she did her typical wandering and marking every shrub and tree she could find in the back yard (trust me, there are a LOT) and then she was back at the door, ready to go back to bed. Of course, when I went back upstairs Bess was awake and so I figured I might as well take her out as well if she needed to go. So out we went.

That was the first night. Well, this became a nightly occurrence. Bess wasn't as bad as Tilly. She doesn't like being cold and so the prospect of a cold backyard wasn't as enticing to her as it was to Tilly. Tilly on the other hand got to the point where we were taking 2-3 trips a night down the stairs to the sliding glass door. Yesterday I realized what was happening. As long as she had a chance to run around outside before bed there was no reason she needed to get up 3 times for trips outside. She had trained me to get up at 1, 3 and 5am so she could have a little fun.

So last night the retraining happened. I went to bed with a squirt bottle at my side. That was all it took for Tilly - a squirt bottle sitting next to me where she could see it. There wasn't a peep out of her last night, even when I knew she was awake because Bess was being loud. Bess on the other hand, needed a couple squirts from across the room before she realized the "make the humans get out of bed" trick was no longer working for her. After that it was quiet. Everyone slept until 6 am. I was SO glad it was as easy as a couple of squirts.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bess is home again

I'm happy to report that Bess' surgery went well and I was able to bring her home today. We stopped off at the Pet Market to pick her up a freeze dried lamb liver and a pizzle stick as a reward for being such a brave girl.

She checked out the store and charmed everyone before we headed for home. Right away she found her very favorite squeaky toy in the whole world and sat down for a good five minutes of squeaking. Then the squeaky was put away for awhile to help the rest of us, dogs and humans, retain our sanity. She's now working away on her pizzle stick in her crate, perched on a fluffy pillow and surrounded by her favorite toys. Thanks to everyone who was thinking of her as she went through this rough few days.
She'll get to visit with her new adoptive humans this weekend. Now that she's past the worst of the heartworm shot danger she can have a few visitors as long as she doesn't get too excited. On December 3rd she'll have the second half of her treatment and then it will be back to her crate. Poor girl. The good news though is that she should be ready to go to her forever home around New Year's seeing as she's already been spayed. It will be a happy 2009 for sweet Bess as she will have a loving family of her own for the very first time: mom and dad, boys, grandmas, an older fur-sister, a back yard - the works! She definitely deserves her happy ending.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Sadly, we discovered this week that Bess was pregnant. She must have been newly pregnant when dropped at the shelter so it wasn't until now, about 5 weeks later that the signs started to show. Unfortunately, over the last five weeks she has been vaccinated and had the first half of her heartworm treatment, both which can cause extreme deformation and death in pups.

Multiple vets were consulted and it was decided that the least risky course of action for Bess was to do a pregnant spay, ASAP, and then she'll have 2 weeks of recovery before she's scheduled for part 2 of her heartworm treatment. She was dropped off at the vet's office this morning for surgery and I will call later today to find out how she's doing.

In this photo you can see Miss Bess' pregnant belly as she sits in the crate. It seemed like once we noticed, each day her belly was noticeable bigger. It's very sad that we aren't able to save the puppies.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Do you goodshop?

One way you can give to New Rattitude with with no money coming out of your pocket is to goodshop. is a Website with links to hundreds of retail Websites. All you have to do is designate New Rattitude as the group that you goodshop for and then link to your favorite online store through the goodshop site. Anything you spend there during that "shopping trip" earns money for us.

So save yourself some driving this season and shop from your computer instead. You can buy just about anything through goodshop. Recently I asked the volunteers at New Rattitude what the weirdest or most obscure thing that they have ever goodshopped for. I wanted to get some examples for you to prove that just about anything can be found on goodshop - and earn New Rattitude some money when you buy it.

They came back with some great things: smurfs, herbal moth repellant, day planner refill pages, shoes, specialty skin care products and German silver cello strings.

Some of the most common sites that people shop at can be linked to from Goodshop:,,, L.L. Bean, Gap, eBay, Toys R Us,,

A Website that one of my adopters told me about and I just love is Drs. Foster & Smith Pet Supplies ( They have great prices and a huge selection of doggy stuff. Another Washington New Rattitudette swears by, an online shoe store. I'm sure that whatever you love to shop for, you'll find it on It's a great way to stretch your holiday shopping dollar: you will be shopping and giving to charity at the same time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tilly Tugs

I just had to share this great moment in Tilly's rehabbing. I was playing tug with Frodo and Tilly inched up and grabbed a corner and was pulling with him. I let go and lo and behold, she started playing tug with him! She even won and headed off under the coffee table to chew on her prize. Little Miss Tilly has come a long way, from the terrified puppymill girl who came to us in August.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Last night I decided that I really needed to get started on clicker training the girls. Frodo was sequestered elsewhere (he becomes quite the pushy show off when he takes part in training sessions with the fosters) and I took Bess upstairs in the bedroom where it was quiet and there was limited space so she wouldn't dash around.

When clicker training, the first thing that you do is "load the clicker". You teach the dog that click=reward. Most of the time it takes about 3 clicks and the dog has figured it out, but Bess was so overjoyed about not being on the end of a leash that she could really care less about the treats and was more interested in exploring. After a few minutes she settled down though and figured out that clicks are GOOD!

Within a couple minutes she understood the sit command (with a hand signal) and was really fast with her sits. What a smart girl she is! We'll work on this a couple more days so it's really ingrained and then we'll work on sit-stay.

For Tilly I muffled the click at first because I was worried that it might frighten her. In fact, I wasn't sure that she was even ready for training, but I figured, what the heck, it won't hurt to try. I think that she understood, but I'm not fully certain. She too was busy exploring the bedroom because she usually is only in the room at night in her crate. She understood the click=reward part, but her skittishness made it tough to fully know much she was taking in. Sit is easy for Tilly because (at least for me) if I say "Tilly" she will run over to me, look up at me and sit there to find out what I want. It's just what she does. I used the hand signal with her as well, however, I think she was more nervous about the hand and that was why she sat, not because she understood that I was asking her to sit. That's okay. We have time to work on things and as long as the training periods are short and positive, it can only do good because she's getting more socialization.

Today at the Pet Market a regular customer offered to hold her for me while I rang something up. I warned her that in the past Tilly has nipped when she gets fearful and wants to get down. She said she didn't care, she'd been bitten by much bigger dogs than an 8# terrier, so we tried it. Tilly was NOT happy about being pushed so far out of her comfort zone, but she lived. She stiffened up and looked pointedly up at the ceiling to avoid eye contact, but she didn't snarl or nip. (Phew) The lady just pet her and cooed to her. As soon as she was handed back she snuggled in close but kept looking over at the lady, checking her out and then quickly looking away to make sure the eye contact wasn't seen as a challenge. YAY TILLY! On top of that, she was so cute in her little bandana that we got about $10 in donations in Izzy's surgery donation jar just this morning. Only $85 to go and the surgery will finally be paid for. Then the jar will become Bess and Allie's heartworm treatment donation jar (Allie is a momma dog that is being fostered with her pups in Yakima and also needs heartworm treatment once they are fully weaned.) Since we don't have heartworm here in Washington (thank goodness!) the cost of treatment is sky high. Even with deep discounts from our rescue vet it will still be about $300 per dog to treat them.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Izzy's last evening with us

Hunter took some video of Izzy and Frodo wrestling downstairs in the rec room on her last evening with us. They played and played until Frodo kept running to the door, checking to see if it was open so he could escape the little terror. But alas, he was trapped. We are still really missing this lively little family member.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Goodbye, Izzy

Izzy's application was approved and so we were just waiting on the contract/fee and decided that she should go stay with Kathy for the last couple days so she'll have a bit more freedom than she has here, thanks to Bess' heartworm treatment. For some reason ever since Bess started heartworm treatment the girls, who had been inseparable buddies, hated each other and would try to tear each other apart if they even got close to each other. It was extremely strange, especially for two very friendly dogs.

Anyhow, Kathy has a couple foster puppies at her house so Izzy will get to play with them in one of those giant crates that Kathy has (more like a small room) instead of being cooped up alone, like she has been here. I took her to work with me yesterday and Kathy picked her up there. Since it was slow, I let her wander the store and it was very cute to watch.

She has been one of the most difficult fosters for me to let go. I'm not sure why, but I think it is something about her friendly personality. When she was at the pet store with me, she was positive that each person approaching the counter had come expressly to see her and would strain to escape the front pack I had her in. I would lift her out and she would attack the customer with kisses like they were her long lost family and of course this helped with donations to the "help pay for Izzy's surgery" jar on the counter. :) So, I kissed Izzy, gave her a bunch of hugs and then said goodbye to my girl so I could help the next customer. When he asked about where she was going, I explained her story with tears rolling down my cheeks. It was embarrassing, but the poor guy felt so bad that he shoved a five dollar bill in Izzy's donation jar, so at least my humiliation paid a bit.

Here are some photos I took of her that morning in the store as she wandered around. For all her good traits, she is quite the little shoplifter!

Stealing bully sticks

Stealing cat toys

Trying on coats

Shopping for dog food

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The 2nd Great Poop Disaster of 2008

Oh my goodness. I am now finally recovered enough to type this tale without feeling panicked. Bess was up in my room in her crate and the guys were out running. Everything was quiet as I walked into the bedroom and a wall of stench. In the few minutes since I had last been in the room Bess had an explode-a-poop in her crate and was standing in it. Luckily she didn't sit in it, but it looked a little as if she had been fingerpainting with it. Her bed, toys, chews, blanket, and even the blanket draped over the outside of the crate had poop on them.

Now, although this was disgusting, it isn't like I haven't had to clean out a poopy crate before. Puuuuuleeeaaase. The problem was, I'm home alone with a dog that hates water, can't have her pulse race, and I've got to get her washed off. At the same time, I know that at any moment the guys will ring the doorbell because for some reason the extra weight of running with a key kills them and they need me to open the door for them. This will set Frodo off, who will bark until the door is opened. In the meantime I'm holding a dog that is dripping in crap.

I got the shower sprayer down, warmed the water, and then tried to spray off her legs and paws thinking she wouldn't mind it as much. Her legs were spinning, trying to climb out of the tub and I could feel her heart pumping. I was panicking and thinking - oh please don't die, please don't die. Poop is everywhere - in the tub, on me, on her - THEN the doorbell rings because the guys are home and they want ME to come downstairs and open the door for them. Like clockwork, our neurotic dog Frodo starts barking his head off. I'm crying and trying to calmly whisper the whole time, "It's okay baby, you're alright, we're almost done good girl..." OMG!! I just about had a nervous breakdown. The good news is that for the first time ever Hunter didn't repeatedly ring the doorbell until I came to open the door. After the second ring I heard the garage door open.

Troy helped clean up the crate while I dried and calmed Bess and he even got everything in the washer. Then Hunter went and got a magazine and crawled in bed with the freshly cleaned Bess and held her while he read and talked on the phone to his friend. She curled up under the covers, let out a big sigh and fell asleep, exhausted from her ordeal.

I have to hand it to all of you Midwest/East Coast foster moms who go through this over and over with your foster dogs. You gals must have nerves of steel.

I am assuming a day of chewing pizzles and tendons had something to do with Bess' upset tummy. Likely, the heartworm meds are also taking their toll. I mixed some pumpkin puree in with her food tonight and hopefully that will help put a halt to any "3rd Poop Disaster of 2008." For those of you who are new to the blog, back in July we had the "1st Poop Disaster of 2008" with our foster dog Mango.

So, things are calm and quiet again. The dogs are all snoozing in their crates and the guys are in bed. I am confident that we can avoid anymore problems like this. Plus, I'm proud of how the guys quietly stepped in to help calm Bess and get things back to normal - whatever normal might be in this dog crazy household.

The Girls

I thought I'd take a little time this morning to update everyone on our girls.

Izzy, as you can see in this photo, is busy teething and has become a toy hoarder extraordinaire. Sometimes her bed is so full that she has to lie on top of things. Yesterday I even found a post-it note in there that had fallen on the floor at some point.

Currently there is one application on her and although they look like wonderful adopters, they are in New Jersey and I really don't want this little one to have to fly cargo all the way across the country. I'm still hoping that someone at the pet store will fall in love with her when I bring her to work. Long transports are pretty rough on the fosters.
Tilly is really doing incredibly well. After a bit of plateauing on her rehab, she has started to progress again. After months of refusing to have anything to do with Troy and Hunter we decided it was time to force her to face her fear of them. We started by having them give her bits of dried chicken breast (it's like doggy crack, I swear) while I was holding her. At first she would barely take it from their hand. After awhile, Hunter would lie on the ground with his hand reached out and a bit of chicken in it. Tilly would hem and haw, pacing back and forth and then finally run up and snatch the chicken out of his hand and run away. Then, amazingly, she let him pet her while she ate the chicken - I was in the next room. Now she will actually come up to him and lick his foot and look up, waiting for a piece of chicken. Troy has done the same thing and the other day she actually came up to him while he sat on the floor and put her paws on his legs. This was the first time she had initiated contact with him when food wasn't involved. We are truly ecstatic that our puppymill gal has come this far. In the beginning I had wondered if she was too far gone and would have to be put to sleep because she was SO messed up. Now she's getting close to acting like a normal 6 year old dog. Go Tilly!!!

And last but not least, Bess. Miss Bess started her heartworm treatment 2 days ago and is heading into day 3 after the shot. Yesterday was her first day home and she did really well. I'm trying to keep her from getting bored in her crate by giving her things to chew on. Unfortunately, she's ripping through these rather expensive treats. So far she's gone through a 12" pizzle, a long "flossie" beef tendon, and she's now working on the hunk of himalayan yak cheese (a tough, smoked chew treat). I'm going to have to find something for her to chew on that will last a bit longer as we've got a long road ahead of us and at $6.50 a 12" pizzle, my pocketbook will only go so far. I think I'll pull out one of the nylabones and see if she goes for that.
And our permanent furry resident, Frodo, is his neurotic little self. I've put him on the herbal calming drops as well, in hopes of keeping his barking down and his need to charge the sliding door to scare of squirrels and birds. Luckily if there is a cushy blanket thrown on a chair in the living room he will burrow to the bottom of it and sleep, so that keeps him from noticing the critters hanging around outside. After a full day of being calm and quiet, I turned him and Izzy into the backyard last night and they ran back and forth through the leaves of the Japanese maple trees in a frenzied race, kicking up a gorgeous shower of red, orange and gold. Their race was so full of pent up energy that you just had to smile to see the sheer joy they were feeling as they ran their rattie 500.
So that's the latest with these four furry terriers and their three tired humans. Be sending healing thoughts to our Bessie girl as she heads into the critical period of her heartworm treatment.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Last Romp

On Sunday night Izzy and Bess took one last romp together around the living room before Bess started her heartworm treatment and had to be kept crated and calm. From the video you can see that Miss Bess looks very healthy and robust.

Well yesterday, when they ran the hearworm test to check the level of her infection we were sure they were going to come out and tell us she was either a low positive or even that the shelter had run a false positive test. Ends up poor Bess was high positive and will have to go through a double treatment protocol. They ran a chest x-ray to determine if she was a level 3 or 4, and thank goodness, her heart looks normal so she is a level 3. She received her shot, was kept overnight, and this morning I went to pick her up.

The poor thing looked so scared. I carried her out to the car and gave her some rawhide to chew on and put her in her crate with her favorite blanket and bed. She settled right down and started chewing.

When we got home everyone got fed and I added the herbal anti-anxiety drops to everyone's food to keep everyone calm. Heck, I even squirted some in my coffee because, lord knows after the weekend/Monday that I had, I needed some as well.

Now everyone is resting calmly. I added some milk thistle to Bess' food to aid liver function while the chemicals are still in her system. She's also getting probiotics and Omega 3 and 6 to help boost her immune system.

Later I'll run by the Pet Market and pick up some more yummy chews that will keep her from getting to bored. I have some drugs that I'll use to relax her during the critical days, but for the next few days we are going to try to do things naturally. Seeing as there are 4 dogs and a teenager in the house, this may be more difficult than expected, but we'll take it one moment at a time and adjust the plan as needed.

For now, everyone is sleeping and the house is unusually quiet for one that has 4 terriers in it.