Monday, December 30, 2013

The Special Spot

At our house the couch happens to be the special spot where all the foster dogs and house dogs eventually seem to gravitate to.  It now has a permanent sag in the cushions on one side that is their favorite spot.

Along with being comfy, it has a great view of the backyard which tends to be full of squirrels and birds. Every once in awhile there will be 4 dogs lined up along there but I've never been able to get a photo of it since Salinas will jump off to come see me if I even glance in her direction.

Do your dogs have a favorite spot? Is it for the comfort, the view or both?

Sometimes the dogs just kick back, relax and enjoy the comfy couch
And sometimes they like to be on alert, letting the critter know they'd better get out of our yard "or else!"

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Home at last: Chima's adopted!

Chima's adopted! And she's staying right here.

When thinking about adopting another dog I had a big list of requirements before I'd adopt. It was important to me that any new dog in our house have good dog to dog communication skills since we have so many dogs that move through our house. At the same time I wanted to adopt a dog that had less of a chance finding a home. The final wish in my list was purely superficial, but I really love the large standard Rat Terriers and hoped for a larger Rat.

Then along came Chima. At first I wasn't too sure about her. She definitely wasn't sure about me and we spent a lot of time looking at each other from across the room, trying to size each other up. Chima had not been a house dog before and hadn't had a lot of experience with humans. She is a beautiful regal dog and she had a way of looking at me from across the yard, snout slightly lifted, body still but relaxed, that made me feel like a peasant being sized up by royalty. 

But over the last six months she's slowly come to the decision that I'm not half bad as far as humans go. We've done daily work getting her more comfortable with touch and she's come a long way - from not wanting to be on the same side of the room as me to enjoying lying next to me and getting ear massages on the couch. 

With that touch work we've built a strong connection and I realized she fit all those contradictory requirements that I had listed in my head about who our next dog would be. We hadn't thought about adding to our furry family for another couple years but she showed up ahead of schedule I guess. Chima was that next dog I had been thinking about for awhile.

So after 7 months in foster care, Chima is now officially adopted and she's staying right here and becoming part of the Brown family pack. We've still got lots of work ahead of us so watch for more posts about her in the months ahead.

I hate the term "foster failure" since I don't find it cute and it sounds pretty negative, in my opinion. To me any foster dog who finds a loving home is a foster success, whether that home is with their foster family or with someone else. So Chima is just another foster success who we will get to share many more years with. We've devoted our family to giving her the best home that we can be for her. Here's to many happy years with this wonderfully silly dog.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Puppy Mill Survivors

I recently received my copy of the book "Puppy Mill Survivors" and it was absolutely beautiful. The book tells the story of a several dogs, each of whom started out their life in a puppy mill but has survived and now has a happy life as a beloved dog. It's definitely a labor of love by photographer Melissa Daniels, who has published 4 books in her Photo Book Project, but I was extra excited because there's something special about this book. There are 5 New Rattitude foster dogs featured in the book and three of them were my foster dogs! And there are also two other Rat Terriers in the book as well. Not a bad showing for the Rats!

The book's cover

Sassy and smart Catty, who I fostered several years back

Chile and Chima trying to figure out why this book thing is so interesting

Alex, Hoagie, Jasper and Reuben - all Washington New Rattitude foster dogs

Hoagie and Reuben on the right were my foster boys. Great little pups!

If you are interested in learning more about Melissa's project be sure to click the link to visit her Website. The foster pups' page includes a very interesting story about the 15 mill puppies that New Rattitude rescued at the same time and gives a great shout out for New Rattitude. The pups were a commercial breeder's overstock. These four guys pictured are the 4 in the litter who came to Washington. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Pupdate: Salish!

Do any of you remember my foster Salish, New Rattitude's 1000th adopted dog? Well I received a pupdate about her recently.

Her name is Sky now and she is still the happy-go-lucky, sweet and even tempered dog that she was with us. She loves to play and hang out with her dog siblings and gets to go for walks down to Lake Roosevelt as a daily occurrence.

She recently visited her human sister in Seattle and had the chance to play with her NR adopted Rat Terrier, Rudy. They kept busy watching from the window for potential intruders or squirrels or birds...

Great to hear she's doing so well and it looks like she had a great Christmas. Below she's pictured in her new bed with her new blanket and a load of Christmas toys. Nice haul, Sky!

Tilly Time

My older girl Tilly spent the first 6-7 years of her life in a puppy mill and try as I might, I haven't been able to fully extinguish her desire to mark regularly. As a result she spends a lot of time in the kitchen which she has made into her Tillydom. When I am having some uninterrupted play time with the dogs though, she comes out to join us.

She doesn't really play with the other dogs but she spends her time sniffing everything. Like Chima, Tilly enjoys a good sniffabout more than anything so off she goes, checking the perimeter, finding every spot that has been peed on in spite of the enzyme cleaner I pour by the gallon on our carpet. After she has done a complete sniffdown of the room she sniffs the dogs.
Chima and Tilly

Chima, Chile and Tilly in a sniff-go-round

Chile is an excellent photobomber

But what to do when everything is fully sniffed? Head over to someone's cozy crate for a snooze.
Tilly settling down into Chima's big crate for a nap

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Day Toy Massacre

Everyone, house dogs and fosters alike, got a sack full of toys on Christmas morning along with bully sticks and bones.

Everyone was excited to join in and try out each others toys and there were lots of death shakes and gutting of plushies.

Frodo's world was rocked by a Kyjen Squawkie Talkie and we finally had to put it away for awhile because he was getting so worked up over it.

Chima seemed to love all the plushies equally and she spent a lot of time shaking and rolling around with each of them.

Salinas is more into chewing and gutting than shaking so she spent her time pulling the mane off the lion knot toy.

Chile was too busy scheming about stealing other toys to really take time to play with his own.

Tilly even got into the spirit and dragged all her toys onto her heated bed for some chewing.

It was a fun Christmas day filled with plenty of fun and yummy things for all the dogs. After playing they had breakfast topped with wild salmon. Everyone wanted seconds but they'll had to wait for dinner until they got another helping.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Adopted!: Chile

Little mister found himself a home which is the best present any sweet homeless pup could be given.

Chile will be moving to Boise, Idaho after the New Year to be with his new dad and his new fur brother, a Rat Terrier named Al Pacino. Chino loves to play so it sounds like Chile will finally have a dog around who is willing to play with him.

So it's a very merry Christmas for Chile and an even happier New Year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Frodo and Tilly's Special Presents

Each year a friend who adopted our 2nd foster dog sends a package to Frodo and Tilly from her dog Suki. She knows that Tilly likes to tear apart Kong Squeaker tennis balls and Frodo loves to shred plushies and that I don't really let them do this very often. So each year she sends squeakie tennis balls for Tilly and a Christmas plushie for Frodo so they get to have the pure joy of doing what they love best (next to eating) - destroying toys.
Tilly with a little tennis fuzz in her mouth. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Because the other dogs all know that it's easy to steal stuff from Frodo he gets to enjoy his stuffie away from the other dogs and tear it apart to his hearts content. While Tilly was in the kitchen getting to work on her first tennis ball, Frodo was upstairs with his Christmas octopus, chewing off his legs one by one. Unlike most toys that just have two arms and two legs, this octopus had eight whole appendages to chew off!
Three down, five to go

Apparently I was messing with his mojo by documenting Mr. Octopus' destruction

Mr. Octopus is now an octo-plegic but he's still smiling happily. Obviously he's not aware what is in store for him next (the gutting). That would wipe the smile off his face.

UPDATE: Mr. Octopus is still smiling, although he's a shell of his former self.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Chima's Trip to the Vet

Chima love to hunt and she doesn't let anything stand between her and her prey - not even a hedge or shrub. Nope, Chima just dives right in. Well she ends up with the occasional scrape because of this and one of those scrapes just wouldn't go away. It is on her side and she licked it and bothered it but I really didn't want to put a cone on her because she's so touch sensitive that I figured it would really irritate her.

Chima at Browns Point Vet Clinic

I got the idea to give her a trachea chip to chew on after I put the hot spot salve on to keep her from licking it off. It worked wonderfully and after we used that tactic the spot finally seemed to heal. I figured we'd just wait and the fur would grow back. But we waited and waited and it didn't grow back. And then I noticed a few other thin spots near the first one and another thin spot on her forehead. Time to get some help from our vet.

I have a wonderful holistic vet who I love to use because her first response to every ailment isn't either antibiotics or Prednisone. She was pretty sure that it was demodex, and a skin scrape let us know that she was right.
The spot - a little raw today from the skin scrape

Both her and I are both a bit perplexed. Typically you see demodex in immune suppressed dogs - puppies, dogs with a bad diet, or dogs under high stress. But Chima is super healthy, her coat (other than those spots) is beautiful and she's been more relaxed than ever before at our house. Oh well. For now it will be a mystery.

Dr. Sperlich wants us to first try to treat the demodex without the drug Ivermectin. Instead I will continue with the high powered probiotics I've been giving her, some coconut oil, and an immune building herb that I can't remember the name of right now. Then topically I will apply a neem oil based hot spot treatment twice a day. Hoping we'll start to see some hair growth soon.

Chima did great at the vet, though. She did NOT want that skin scrape and I totally can't blame her. She got some high value treats once she lived through that and that seemed to change her focus. Then when I was paying I gave her a trachea chip to keep her busy and she totally forgot the ordeal and laid down on the rug to chew her chip. In fact, she didn't want to leave the office because she wasn't done chewing yet. Good girl Chima!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Snow Day!

On Friday we woke up to about 1/2" of snow. Because we are so close to the water, we don't get snow that often so it was a bit of a novelty. It is quite possibly the first snow that Chima, Salinas and Chile have seen so I wanted to get some video.

Chile was unimpressed and tore around the yard in his usual manner so no good photos or video of him. Salinas didn't like the cold and hopped around on 3 legs to have minimal body touching the ground. Chima hadn't had her breakfast yet so she decided she might as well eat the snow.

By the time I was back home from work the rain had washed away all the snow and that was it. Instead we had wind which had blown down some fresh branches and fir cones to chew so they were plenty happy with that.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Rescue Railroad: 3 New Foster Dogs Arriving in Washington NR Foster Homes

Assuming the snow doesn't push things back a day I'm excited to announce three new foster dogs who are rolling into town.

Parker was surrendered by his family to a very small, rural shelter and the reason given was divorce. He's proving to be a gentle guy, who loves everyone he meets. Parker is about 10-12 months old and weighs 23 pounds. He'll be fostered in Gig Harbor, Washington. Read more at

Pocket is a handsome little tan and white guy who is full of personality and will definitely be keeping his foster family chuckling. He's 8 years old and a very easy dog - house trained and ready to warm any lap made available to him.  Pocket will be fostered in Marysville, Washington.

Sandy is about a year old and is a sweet and playful little gal. We are still learning more about her so be sure to follow her foster mome's blog at   She'll be fostered in Yakima, Washington.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Toys, toys, TOYS!

Our monthly BarkBox arrived and it was cram packed with great stuff this month: two toys, two boxes of treats and a bully stick.
The December BarkBox loot

Chile, Chima, and Frodo inspect the goods

The dogs got to join in on a a very fun play time with the new stuffed animals and it was a great time for all. Salinas and Frodo pretty much just stole things back and forth from each other but Chima was the one who REALLY got into it. When she gets a new plushie it is hilarious to watch her go to town killling it.

Chima being goofy

Chile was loving the toys too but he took his somewhere safe where it wouldn't get stolen.
Chile decided to play with his toy somewhere safe

Chile and Chima weren't sharing the new toys much so I brought out a bunch of other favorite plushies so everyone had a toy.  Here you see Salinas checking out a Skinneeez Skunk.

But all good things much come to an end. I could tell the dogs were getting a little over stimulated and Chile began hoarding his toys on the chair and was so busy watching for thieves he wasn't playing anymore. I gathered all the toys up and that was the end for the night.

If you want to get a BarkBox in the mail use this link and it will earn our foster dogs an extra Barkbox. I believe for the month of December you'll get $10 off your subscription too. It's a pretty good value for what you get in each box.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tug Time

Chima and Salinas aren't always happy about playing with Chile since he has been known to get overexcited and bounce so much that he lands on their head occasionally.

Today during some supervised play time they ended up playing a game of tug which was pretty fun to watch. Good job gang!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chile and the Rule of Three

Patricia McConnell did a great webinar called "Increasing the Odds of a Successful Adoption" and in it she talked about the "rule of 3". The idea was that when working with a rescue dog it is going to take time before you are seeing the real personality shine. So at the 3 day, 3 week and 3 month points (or thereabouts) after a dog comes out of the shelter into a home setting one will likely see some changes. If you are interested in learning more I believe you can still listen to the Webinar through the ASPCA Website.

This concept has been true for Chile. At the three day mark he really started interacting more with the dogs but by the 3 week mark I am actually seeing that his underconfidence in the way he interacts with other dogs really sets him up to get picked on. It's minor things but the poor guy always ends up being the odd man out unless I step in and manage interactions and redirect the other dogs at times.

Of course we are working on helping him gain confidence and doing the extra work of carefully monitoring all interactions between the dogs. If one of us can't be with them then they are separated. The reality is it takes very little to trample down the spirit of a shy dog so that makes it doubly important to make sure all of his interactions are positive.

Don't get me wrong, he's friendly and sweet and loves his people, but he also would love to play with other dogs and sometimes sets himself up for being picked on. That's why we are working with him.

With his placement we'll be looking carefully at how he and any other dogs in the house interact together. Some people think this is overkill, but my end goal with the dogs that come through my house is to help them overcome the fears and anxieties they've been living with and give them a start where they can be happy and  successful and that means making sure all members of the family, furry or non-furry, are a good fit.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Ears" to you, Chima!

Many of you have followed as I worked with Chima on her issues with touch.

She's really come a long way from that girl who came here in May and didn't want to be on the same side of the room as me. We've done a ton of work desensitizing her to touch and look at her now:

She's still not completely comfortable, but she actually will lean into touch now, especially when her ears are rubbed. Good job, Chima!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Goodbye Sweet Boy

This is a really tough post to write. In fact I'm still kind of reeling from the shock of it. Yesterday morning Langley passed away on the way to the emergency vet with his dad, Bruce.

Langley has had several unexplained bouts of diarrhea and lethargy lately but initially the blood tests came back pretty normal so they figured with Langley's habit of snarfing everything in sight that he had eaten a mushroom or something else that made him sick. This time though his liver and pancreatic enzymes were off the charts and his organs just couldn't pull back from it. The vet believes it was pancreatitis but they just aren't sure what caused the illnesses.

Langley was by far the most difficult foster I've ever had. He was too smart for his own good and honestly I think his high speed brain was part of the cause of the anxiety and compulsions that he suffered from. With other dogs he was pretty clueless about their body signals and he had the tendency to irritate the heck of most canines he crossed paths with. But the thing that stood out about Langley was the pure guilelessness of him. He loved his people - all people really - with every fiber of his being and he showed that love in the most exuberant of ways that always kept me smiling.

He loved to train and I swear he would train 24/7 if someone was always there to work with him. And with that work came a very strong bond. In fact, even though Bruce had adopted him, Langley has changed me so much in how I work with dogs that he still felt like part of this house. It was Langley who ignited my interest in animal behavior and started my addiction with attending every seminar I had time and money for so I could learn more about why dogs do the things they do and how I can help them more peacefully exist in this human world they have to adapt to.

My heart goes out to his dad who gave Langley such a great home. They were immediately the best of friends and Bruce loved Langley with all his heart. Nothing is quieter and sadder than a dog loving house that suddenly has no dog in it so please send your thoughts to Bruce as he deals with the loss of his best friend.

So wherever your spirit is, sweet Langster, I hope there's lots of birds to hunt and dead and disgusting stuff like old turds, road kill and slugs to eat. I hope you can sprint to your hearts content and then curl up happy and content where it's warm. Because that is how I'll remember you always - the fastest, most lovable, disgusting, goofy, dog that ever lived.