Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy birthday Trekkies!

Exactly a year ago today our foster dog (of just 2 days) gave birth to a gorgeous litter of 5 pups who grew to be fluffy little rat terrier/mystery dogs. This photo shows Dexter (then Dax) who was the last puppy of the litter to be born and was taken today on his first birthday and sent to my from his dad in Oregon. Here's a link to a photo of him about 30 minutes after birth, hanging with his mom.

Fostering a litter of pups isn't something that I'm eager to do again anytime soon, thanks to the sleepless nights, constant baths and seemingly limitless poop, their adventures with toilet paper, but it was an amazing experience that I will always remember. One of the greatest things was fostering these incredible little dogs who were a virtual blank slate without all the baggage that I normally deal with in the shelter dogs that I foster. Little fluff balls of love that no one has had a chance to mess up. Anyhow, happy birthday to the Trekkie crew and congratulations to mama Star on a job well done.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When the heart can't say no

Everyday on Facebook and in my E-mail inbox I am inundated with photos of dogs that are about to be put to sleep - probably 50 or more each day. Furry face after furry face. So many that they start to blend together and no matter how much you want to say yes, you know that you just can't save them all. I scan the posts, sometimes not even opening certain E-mails when I know there is no open foster spot for them. You grow callouses on your heart and learn to focus on the reality that there is no room even if you want to save one of them.

Well yesterday that callous on my heart cracked and a face looked out from my Facebook page that was tough to look away from. I shut down the computer but came back to is several times and there she was. Still scared and still scheduled to be put to sleep today, 10/21, at 5 pm with 5 other small dogs. Even though all our permanent foster spots are full I decided to put some feelers out to see if someone would temp the girl until a spot opened up. Space was found and yesterday evening I decided to try and see if it wasn't too late for this girl all the way down in Los Angeles.

Well, I'm happy to say that instead of being euthanized today she underwent a spay surgery so she could be released to a New Rattitude foster parent down in Southern California. They'll pick her up early tomorrow morning and in the meantime I'm working on getting her transported to WA. I probably should have listened to my head and said no, but I'm glad that every once in awhile I let myself listen to my heart.

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Rattitude's 2011 Calendar winners!

The calendar contest winners were announced in this month's 'Tude News and let me tell you, the 2011 New Rattitude Rat Terrier Calendar is superb! Link to the winners' Webpage to see all the pages. Looks like my foster boy Jake was included in the October collage page with his sister and brother. I didn't notice any other of my fosters but I haven't looked through them super close yet so who knows.

Orders for the calendar are being taken now and will be shipped in mid-November. Pre-orders only pay $1 shipping for the $15 calendar! All proceeds from the calendar will be used by New Rattitude to cover the cost of caring for New Rattitude's rescued rat terriers. Go to New Rattitude's ReTail shop to order yours today.

Co-dependent dogs

Sometimes it is easy to think of two dogs as "bonded" when the situation is something more complex and less healthy. We've had Frisby and Nimh here in foster care for over a month now and when I first met them I was sure that it was necessary to adopt them out together. I kept them in the same big crate at night, fed them together, etc.

However the longer we had them, the more I realized that it was more co-dependency than anything else that formed their bond. Both dogs had been together for a month in the shelter and according to paperwork they had been surrendered together as well. Nimh has a strong personality and is bold and a little high-strung. Frisby on the other hand is somewhat timid and shy. When together Nimh bossed Frisby around constantly and then when she felt threatened would look to him for a reason to keep barking at something.

After talking with friends who had seen these behaviors before I started working on splitting the two up to see if they could handle it. The first night I made the mistake of trying to go cold turkey and after several hours of barking and whining gave in. Talked with someone on New Rattitude's behavior modification team and then tried again. First it was separate wire crates set right next to each other. Next, we slowly moved the crates a little further apart each morning and by night time they were used to the wider distance. Now the crates are across the room from each other but still mostly in line of sight. After they get used to this I'll start easing the crates so they are no longer in each other's sight.

All this moving apart has made a big difference, especially for Frisby. In the past he didn't do anything on his own and mostly followed Nimh around to bark at whatever she was barking at. Now he explores on his own, and just this week started playing chase and doing rattie runs around the backyard. BIG PROGRESS!!! Nimh isn't barking like she used to and is learning to play with the other dogs without trying to constantly boss them around. She loved to wrestle with Elvis but now that he's been adopted has decided that wrestling with Kanga is pretty fun too.

Another thing that has happened during this process? House-trained!!! Crate training works and no dog is too old to be house-trained. These 4 year olds had never been house-trained but now they run for the door when it's time and as long as they are kept on a schedule we don't have any accidents. Yay!!!
The photo above shows Frisby, Nimh and Kanga enjoying some snuggle time on the back of the couch. They are our current 3 foster dogs.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Elvis has left the building...again

As many of you know, sweet Elvis, a boy we first fostered back in June, was returned to us about a month ago. Honestly, he was the last guy that I thought would be returned but I was glad they didn't keep him if he was as afraid of them and their home as they said.

None of the fear aggressive issues were seen here but I did see problems with leash aggression due to high levels of anxiety when he was near a street.

Tonight he went to his new home and I'm crossing my fingers that all will go well. He got pretty stressy during goodbyes and was being somewhat alpha with Pearl and tried to start a fight a couple times. It's not behaviour that I've ever witnessed with him but I can tell he was ramped up and the best bet will be for him to be kept separate for awhile until he settles and feels safe enough to just be himself in the home and then there won't be an issue. His doggy sis, Pearl (was called McMuffin with New Rattitude so you may remember her), is as easy going a rat terrier as you'll ever meet so I think she'll forgive and forget his bad manners tonight.
In this photo you see Pearl watching as Elvis desecrates her beloved Skinneeez squirrel. He then went onto growl at her when she tried to take the squirrel back. She really was quite tolerant of him but a girl does have limits. So send calming thoughts to Elvis and Pearl and their parents as they work on integrating this nervous little guy into their household.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Need your help

As many of you know, our 3 Washington foster homes are stuffed full of dogs right now and unable to take anymore but there are so many dogs that I see daily, with very little time before they are put to sleep. Pictured is Oso, a five year old goofball rat terrier who was dumped at a shelter in California. He's labeled as a beagle-Chihuahua but looks pretty rattie to me. Whatever he is I've got nowhere to put him and will try to cross my fingers and hope he makes it out.

The most common excuse for not fostering is that people think that it will break their heart to care for a dog and then have to give it away to someone else. It will. But each time it gets easier and with each new foster dog you will realize that there are so many more out there that need you more that just one dog. Each one is deserving of love and care and the chance for a loving home. By making the sacrifice of letting your heart break a little, you will save lives. If I had kept Smudge, my first tiny little foster in December 2007, the other 50 dogs that I fostered after him would not be alive.

The second excuse/myth that I'd like to debunk is that you can't afford the vet care of a foster dog. The fact is that New Rattitude will cover the vetting of your foster (some limits and pre-approval of non-core vet care), they will reimburse for flea treatment, pay a food stipend... There will be some expenses but they are minor and also can be written off of your taxes since New Rattitude is a non-profit organization.

Final excuse is not knowing what to do. New Rattitude has a team of people to help mentor new volunteers, a state coordinator to answer any questions that might come up, and all kinds of great people willing to help you with any questions you have and to support you when that sweet dog that you save is able to go home.

If you'd like to learn more about fostering for New Rattitude check out our fostering page.
Photo of Oso is by Mia Anelli Photography - a lady who takes portraits of dogs in desperate need of rescue at the East Valley shelter in Van Nuys, California. Photos are then shared on Facebook and other spots in hopes of finding rescue spots/homes for them.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Still crazy...

We've now reached a new level of craziness here with 8 dogs at the house. Last winter when we fostered Star's litter of pups we had 9 in the house but at least with the pups the mess was contained to as far as they could toss their poo through the wires of their ex-pen. The 2 extras aren't fosters - we're dogsitting some friends' dogs and to give them credit they are easy dogs compared to any of the other 6 in the house. Actually, individually none of the dogs are difficult dogs but when you put them together in this big of a pack it makes life difficult.

Nimh and Elvis both have possible adopters so at least there is hope for a calmer household in the future. After they go home we are going to try to keep it to 2 fosters at a time for awhile to give ourselves a break after the crazy summer of foster overload at our house.

Kanga is a month past her surgery now and although she still lifts her leg to walk, she uses it fully when playing with Elvis. I'm thinking she'll be ready for surgery number 2 in another 4 weeks.

I decided to split up Frisby and Nimh because although they are bonded, it is more a co-dependent bond that tends to bring out the worst in both of them. Nimh likely has a home but Frisby will still be looking. He's a cute little 11 pound guy who is a bit anxious so should probably not be in a home with kids or large dogs. He loves to snuggle and is great with people as long as they aren't wild, crazy and loud.

Well, that's the latest. Happy October to you all!