Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kathy Sdao Seminar Notes: Fear and my Fosters

"If you are concerned with the general well-being of an animal, avoid forcing him to confront severe conflict between habits (strong tendencies to make a response) and inhibition (strong tendencies not to make a response.)"   Learning & Motivation, Frank Logan pg 71

So imagine a situation where you have an undersocialized dog and you want them to be more comfortable with strangers. So you give the stranger a piece of their favorite treat and they offer it to the dog. This is forcing that dog to confront that "severe conflict" that the quote talks about. The strong tendency would be for them to eat the delicious treat. The inhibition is to approach new people.

A past foster dog getting to know our son
This goes back to sequencing a bit, but it was a "lightbulb" moment to me. The reward is actually greater if they make the choice to push through and do the thing that is uncomfortable to them and then get the reinforcer from you, who are safe and don't taint the enjoyment of the treat. If they have to take it from the stranger they are frightened of it's very unlikely that the goodness of the treat is going to attach to the person because fear trumps learning in these situations. So a better (and safer) option to trying to get a undersocialized dog take a treat from a stranger, is to teach "touch" to the dog so that instead you can get the dog to touch the stranger and then get rewarded for their bravery by coming to you for the reinforcement of the treat.

And this brings up a second thing that Kathy talked about in her "Some Things in Life Are Free" seminar. A starving dog does not see food as a reinforcer. For me as a rescuer this had a different meaning to what I think she was using the example. She was talking about how people will skip a dogs meal before training or even refuse a dog food when they don't "perform" correctly. Think about when you were in school - if you didn't eat before a class and were really hungry, it made it a lot more difficult to concentrate and learn. Now that's not saying a dog should be stuffed, but they shouldn't be hungry when you want them to learn - their focus is completely on the food then and it will be tougher for them to retain any learning.

Hobbs was pretty underweight when he first was rescued
But as a rescuer I translated this more literally. At times we as foster parents receive dogs that are literally starving. They have spent weeks, sometimes even months, having to focus entirely on getting the basic needs of food, water and shelter met. When they first get here we need to take a deep breath and not assume we are seeing who this dog is. They are still in starvation mode and until they understand that food, water, shelter and attention are the norm in their foster home, socialization and basic training need to wait a little bit. Give them a few days to take in the wonderland of being a house dog because until that happens you won't really be able to assess their true skill set.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Kathy Sdao Seminar Notes: The order is everything!

And by order I mean the sequence that behaviors, clicks and reinforcers happen.  This was one of the lessons in the "What Not to Err" seminar that really blew my mind and while I will try my best to relate why this is important, I will admit that some of the technical definitions and reasoning behind this flew out of my brain.

The concept that I did grasp though is that your reinforcer or positive event should always follow the behavior. That seems like a "well duh!" kind of thing. But in classical conditioning, what ever happens 2nd (can't remember the techy word for that) and the emotion/gut response to that 2nd thing happening, will start to infect the first thing - and that can be a good or a bad thing. 

Past fosters Salish and Apple await their "reinforcers"
So you think of old Pavlov. Rings a bell, feeds the dog. Rings a bell, feeds the dog. Pretty soon the bell stimulates a response of excitement and salivation before the food is even present. There is an expectation for that second thing. These responses - salivation and emotion - are things that happen automatically and Pavlov succeeded in attaching those automatic responses to something that had nothing to do with them normally - the bell.

Classical conditioning is happening all the time though, with positive and negative results. Okay, so here's an example of how I was totally screwing myself by messing up sequencing.  I've got a dog who's about to go to the vet and is not real social. In an effort to link the vet experience to good things, I start treating before we go into the vet. I give high value treats while at the vets. Then they examine the dog, stick him with a couple needles and off we go. So the order of things were 1) yummy good thing and then 2) scary vet and getting stuck by a needle. The emotions from that 2nd thing can attach themselves to those yummy treats and you can actually poison those treats from being quite so enticing, especially if the treats precede too many scary happenings.

Scared foster pup Zia at the vet wanting to get the heck out of there
A good example that Kathy gave is the person who always gives you a compliment just before they talk to you about something they think you are doing wrong. It doesn't take long before as soon as you hear them say something nice, your stomach drops because you know your about to get hit with criticism.

A better option for the vet scenario would be to follow the vet with something that your dog really enjoys: say a walk or a meal, a puzzle toy in the crate on the drive home, etc. Then the wonderful thing follows the not so wonderful and hopefully some of the joy from the follow up will attach to the vet's office if every time they go to the vet, something wonderful happens afterwards.

Think about all the ways you can manipulate timing to make not so fun things seem a little less daunting to your dog! How about always doing nail trims right before a walk? Bath time before dinner?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kathy Sdao Seminar Notes: Labels and Perception

I learned so much at the seminar that I think typing out my favorite points from my notes will help engrave those lessons in my brain better and hopefully you guys will get some ideas as well.

I've got about 2 pages of scribbled highlight notes so I guess I'll just dig into some of my favorites. Today I'll talk about labels and perceptions. Kathy Sdao's points on the overuse of labels and the ephemeral nature of perception definitely got me thinking.

Something I really came to realize was how all of the frustrations we encounter in training are pretty much things we have created. This is a dog. They aren't used to our "grabby hands" as Kathy called them, and they certainly don't depend on a verbal language for their main form of communication like we do. And yet we expect them to do all the learning and work?! Why aren't we making more of an effort to train ourselves to hear what they are saying, and to be better at our communication with them? We get so bogged down in what we want that we forget that this should be a partnership. We want the dog to understand our words, to share our feelings, to behave how we believe a dog should behave.... And yet our words and feelings and even beliefs about a dogs behaviors aren't ever static. How can they keep up with our flightiness?

Perceptions shift and yet we think they are so concrete. The mind sees what it has experienced though and each human has a lifetime of experiences that will color exactly what they perceive in an animal, or person or situation. Add more experience and the perceptions shift.

Because of this it is so very important not to label a dog. As soon as you are alerted to something and tell yourself the dog is a certain way - an asshole, submissive, a bully, a bitch, broken, abused, hyper... - your brain will be careful to pick up all the examples of ways the dog's behavior supports your label. You will also not pick up things that don't support that label. It isn't an intentional thing.  Most of it happens subconsciously, but you have locked a dog into a box of a label and because of that you may miss so many of the things they have to tell you about themselves. Labels are a type of control that make us feel safe and all knowing, however we don't do our dogs any favors by using them and we can certainly get in the way of any behavior modification goals we have for our dogs.

Tilly during "rehab" - she would ride in her pouch at work with me and could peek out at the world when she felt brave enough.
I did this when I was first fostering my personal dog Tilly. She was a puppy mill breeding bitch and extremely undersocialized. I latched onto the "puppy mill survivor" label and researched trying to find some good articles on rehabbing mill dogs. There wasn't a lot of happy success stories out there and the more I read, the more hopeless is seemed. It wasn't until I let go of trying to lump Tilly into the label of "mill survivor" and started truly seeing her behaviors and watching how she experienced this new world of a "house" that we started to make some progress. And labelling her a "mill survivor" today would only tell a tiny part of who this 11 year old feisty little dog is. In her 4 and a half years with us she has grown into a completely different dog and it would be unfair for me to push her into that tiny constricting label of "puppymill survivor".

On a camping trip at Baker Lake, Mt. Baker National Forest
On a hike at Hat Point, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
On a hike with me on the North Fork of the John Day River in Oregon
So maybe before you label your dog and list out all the things they do that annoy you, try to think of what your dog does that makes you happy. What makes them fun to be around? What makes you love them? Notice the good qualities and soon the things that need some changing might not seem like the mountainous, unsurmountable issues that they did before.

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Mind is Blown

I have never before been to a seminar type learning situation where not only has my interest been maintained for the entire 14 some hours of lecture but where I walked away and feel like my whole perspective on a topic has been turned on its side. It was both exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

The seminar was soooooo worth the money. And on top of the lecture being great, I was sitting in this room of 35-40 people and in that crowd were all these incredible trainers and teachers and volunteers. It was like being immersed in this knowledge soup or something. While I could list so many great skills that Kathy has, I think one of her greatest as a teacher was her ablility to use metaphor to help us as humans understand how truly confusing and frustratring we must be to dogs. I thought "oh my GAWD, I never thought about it that way before!!" more times than I could count. But enough gushing about the seminar.

I had this big plan to come home last night and start a post that laid out some of the ideas that really struck home. I mean, it was too exciting not to share. There were a lot ideas that I would love to write about and it probably will take a few posts but I was ready to write the first one and lay out the outline of a couple more but then I walked in the door and realized that my brain cells had endured just about as much thinking/learning as is possible and about all I had energy left to do was eat dinner and drop myself into bed.

So this is a picture of Hobbs that I've probably already used but let's just say this was about what I got done last night. The dogs and I were fed, Hobbs laid on my lap while I checked emails, and then I crawled into bed.

Hopefully though this will pique your interest to read tomorrow's post which I'll make sure to write after work tonight.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


When you foster dogs you see all kinds of issues. A lot stems from lack of training and is pretty simple to work on with some basic training. Equally as frequent we see dogs who didn't get the proper socializing as young dogs and have grown into underconfident, anxious dogs. While not everything can be undone, with time and patience there is so much we can do to help them.

The longer I foster, the more the dogs teach me and the more difficult the issues, the more I take away from the fostering experience. Don't get me wrong - I'm not really a fan of working with dogs that have a ton of baggage, but sometimes I end up with those dogs and they've definitely enlarged my understanding.

And the longer I do this the more it seems there is to learn. That's why I'm so excited to be attending a Kathy Sdao seminar this weekend. It's a two part seminar: What Not to Err, and Plenty in Life is Free. Hoping I'll finish the weekend with lots of new training ideas for working with the dogs and helping them have a strong start when they move on to what will hopefully be their final home.

Pictured below are the four dogs that have taught me the most over my journey as a foster parent. While fostering them I hit pivotal moments in growing my understanding of dogs and of the human-dog connection.

Tilly was my 10th foster dog, and the first puppy mill breeder bitch that I fostered. She was 7 when she was rescued and had never been socialized. She was my introduction to fearful dogs and there were times when it felt like it was almost cruel to keep her alive, her fear was so great. Tilly really taught me that there is a way to connect more deeply to dogs but that I had to stop being so rigid with my "training plan" and instead let the dog set the pace and the type of training done. We ended up adopting her and she is now 11 yrs old and is a feisty 7 pound character. While she still is fearful in new environments and with new people, she no longer dissociates when around new people and at home she has turned into a brave and bossy little thing.

Franny, now named Catty, was another puppy mill breeding bitch. While Tilly completely shut down and went almost catatonic when frightened, Catty lashed out and was reactive when she was anxious. Catty helped me learn that the whole theory of "being the alpha" is not only ineffective, it will damage the trust a dog has in a person. I also learned that there is a difference between actual aggression and a dog who acts out from a place of fear. Actual aggressive dogs are very, very rare. Almost always there is some source of anxiety or fear that fuels most dogs labeled as aggressive. Catty found a wonderful adopter who has since become a New Rattitude volunteer, my Co-State Coordinator for WA and OR, and a close friend, so I'd say it was a pretty successful adoption. She's doing great in her home and has gone from not being able to be around other dogs to now being a house dog in a fostering family with new dogs regularly coming and going.

Huckleberry was another undersocialized dog who had learned in his home that the only way to get a human to listen was to bite. Dogs give lots of signals, and Huckleberry always gave a ton, but when humans refuse to listen to them, sometimes a bite is the only thing that works. Pretty sad. He had lived in a home where the 2 very young kids were unsupervised with him and the dad did lots of yelling and intimidating. Huck was very afraid of men and we did a lot of work around rewarding him for using acceptable ways of letting people know he was overwhelmed. He also got lots of socialization. He now is doing great in his new family and they have continued the socialization work that we started with him.

And finally Langley. Just like humans, the environment a dog is raised in has a lot to do with the kind of dog they become. Most of the dogs that have behavior issues seem to have them as a result of how they were raised. But also just like humans, some dogs have mental health issues - neurochemical imbalances that lead to behaviors that wouldn't be called "normal". Langley taught me that sometimes behavior modification and extra activities and exercise is not enough. Sometimes medications are needed to help a dog move past anxious or compulsive behaviors. Langley has come so, so far. While he can still be a challenge on occasions, for the most part he's pretty typical high energy dog now. He's still waiting for that person who can see past the "issues" to the loveable, goofball of a dog that he is. I can honestly say that you will rarely meet a dog more sweet-natured than Langley. He wants to please so badly, and he connects strongly to his people. Even before the medication and training work when he was so anxious he never once snapped at me, even when I was restraining him from things that he had very strong compulsions toward. So Langley continues to teach me things and I hope that someday someone will see him for the gem that he is.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Eat and Sleep and Sleep Some More

When foster dogs first arrive in foster care they have been through a lot - often some time alone on the streets, time in a loud and scary shelter, a long trip up to their foster home, and then the initial flurry of a new home, new dogs, bath, nail trim, vet visits and most of the time a spay/neuter surgery... Honestly, it really is amazing that they aren't a quivering snarling ball of fur considering all they have been through. Goodness knows that I would be a complete mess if I had to go through all of that.

So after all that is done - the bath, the surgery, the nail trim and microchipping - and things calm down to a normal pattern of everyday life, it makes sense that they crash finally and sleep a lot. That stress loads the body up with adrenalin and cortisol and it takes awhile for it to be eliminated from the body. Hobbs is in that phase now and he's sleeping a lot and finding laps whenever he can. I have a sinus infection and don't feel well so he's been a welcome little lap warmer. He is starting to be interested in playing a little but for the most part he's still recovering from all the changes.

Snuggling in for some snooze time while I work on this post

And when it is time for breakfast or dinner, this skinny little boy is making up for lost time. He scarfs it all down and enjoys every bite.

That may look yucky to you but Hobbs gives his kibble, pumpkin, rabbit pate mixture a two paws up!

It's always a wonderful process to be part of - to watch that first stage of healing both physically and mentally. And the next step is equally fulfilling: confidence and play.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hobbs' Trip to the Vet

When I first saw photos of Hobbs it was obvious that at some point in his life he had experienced some kind of physical trauma. He's got one leg that is much shorter than the other, and if you look down on him from above you can see that his hips and spine aren't quite straight. After having him here for a few days and checking him out I could also tell that his left femur was floating outside of the hip - a dislocation.

Hobbs has no issues hopping up on the couch, although he should have his jumping limited somewhat

In spite of all this he tore around, hopped up and down off of couch and chairs, and used the stairs. Not once did he wince, yelp, or pull up his leg.  I took the video above yesterday to give you an idea of how well he gets around, in spite of the hip luxation. To make sure that there wasn't some other issue that I was missing though and to discover what exactly was going on in there I wanted to get radiographs.

So off we went to the vet yesterday and while our senior dog Tilly had her teeth cleaned and a few extractions, Hobbs had radiographs done and a radiologist was consulted.

Everyone, including me was pretty shocked at what those radiographs showed us. Everything was healed up but at some point the vet said she believes he was hit by a car. "Smashed" was the word she used to describe it. He had the following healed fractures: 3 fractures to the left hip, one on the right, fractured right tibia, and both ankles had calcification indicating there had been trauma to them as well. In addition his hip tilts up and under dramatically and shortens his leg by quite a bit. His spine now sits crooked and to the left side of his body a bit. And his left femur floats outside the joint as I expected. Thankfully the ball of the femur is smooth and intact so he won't need a femural head removal.

On his left side (right side of photo) you can see where the ball of the femur juts out a little
Both Dr. Sutherland, and the radiologist recommend leaving things be. The body has healed and adjusted. He is not in pain, has good mobility and the reality is that surgery could cause more problems than it would fix. She agreed that it is pretty amazing that he didn't suffer some paralysis or at least more issues with moving his rear legs.

It's tough to see how twisted his pelvis is but this shot gives an idea of how out of alignment he is

When I asked what to look for in a future home for him, she said he should be in a house without young kids and also without dogs that have a tendency to play rough. Also, she said it is of the utmost importance for his future joint health to keep him at a healthy weight so we should ask the vet of future adopters about the weight of their current pets. Because he is going to likely deal with early onset arthritis, he should be kept on a good quality, easily utilized glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM supplement too.

And now you know what I know. It looks like I need to get busy and write up a Petfinder bio for my sweet boy. Whoever adopts this love bug is going to be very lucky. Even after going through such an ordeal he has remained a sweet-natured, loving boy who's favorite activity is hanging out with his people. Such a good boy and I'm overjoyed that he is going to get a second chance at happiness.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Down South with Sierra

Hobbs and Tilly are at the vet today and we'll report on what we find out about Hobbs' hip tomorrow, but for today let's talk about another New Rattitude dog who hasn't yet made it up to her Northwest foster home.

Sonya and Sierra in the shelter
New Rattitude's Sierra and Sonya are 18 month old sisters who were surrendered to a large Fresno shelter. Our rescue partner in Fresno, Lynn Bonham, pulled the girls for us and Sonya has since arrived in her foster home. But Sierra wasn't using one of her back legs and the worry was that she had a fracture or tendon tear. Radiographs were taken and happily she was fracture-free. However, it was discovered that she had a luxating patella that would need to be repaired.

Lynn with Sierra at All Creatures Animal Hospital
Since Lynn has so many great affordable vetting connections for rescue dogs, it was decided that she would have Sierra's surgery done down in Fresno and she would recuperate there with Lynn. That would leave a NW foster spot open to continue moving foster dogs through. Once Sierra has recuperated from her surgery and is sturdy enough to transport, she'll head north into her foster home and be listed as available for adoption.

Sierra with Dr. Kahn during her surgery consult
Yesterday she had her surgical consult and the estimate is that the cost of her surgery and the x-rays that were already done will run around $600 to $900. Soon I'll get her listed in the New Rattitude Canine Clinic so we can start raising money to pay for her surgery.

We have had quite the run on dogs with joint/bone issues recently: Teko, Gramercy, Hobbs and now Sierra. So glad that New Rattitude is able to help them because very few rescue groups will pull dogs from the shelter when they are in need of surgery and these guys likely would not have made it out alive.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sweet Hobbsie Boy

We spent most of Sunday having a lazy day at home and it was great to get to know little Hobbs better. He's definitely hand shy and very nervous about being picked up but he has a reason for that.

See, at some point Hobbs was likely hit by a car and his hip was dislocated and never treated. It happened in the past and has fully healed but it's quite obvious that something is not quite right with his caboose.  He gets around great - runs, does stairs, scares me by jumping off a rock wall - and he doesn't seem to be in pain from it, however, I think it might be uncomfortable to be carried around.

Notice how his body doesn't "line up" straight

You can see a little in this photo how his left hind leg is at an odd angle
His joint likely formed a lot of scar tissue around the ball of the femur and it sits in that pocket of tissue rather than his hip bone as he moves around. He doesn't have full range of motion with that leg, but he has enough to move pretty fast.

Sooooo..... the big question at this point is what needs to be done. Or does anything need to be done.  I've had a foster before who had a femural head removal (ball of hip is removed) and that is typically how a fresh injury like this would be treated but we'll need to hear from a vet to determine how to move forward with little Hobbsie. He's scheduled for a visit to the vet's office on Tuesday for an exam and radiographs so we can get a clearer idea of what is really going on with the little guy.

Skinny little Hobbs
One thing for sure is that he is underweight. His spine and hips jut out and not just from his structural problems. He's a skinny guy, but he loves to eat so there won't be a problem getting him up to a healthy weight. It will be super important for him throughout his life though is to not become overweight. His joints just wouldn't be able to handle extra pounds.

There's definitely nothing broken about his attitude though. Hobbs is an amazingly sweet-natured and loving little boy. His favorite activity is snuggling and if you are busy, he's happy to just curl up in a chair and wait until your lap is free again. Having an easy-going laid back foster dog is so nice.  OH, and did I mention he is house trained?! We are still moving through the initial few days of getting used to a place and a bit of marking but I'm sure that by the end of the week he will be belly band free.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hobbs: Day 1

Because I work all day Saturday, Hobbs had a lazy, relaxing day for most of yesterday. But then I got home. Then he had to deal with pictures and a nail trim and a bath and in his opinion a good day went bad.

He had been wandering around and inspecting things and decided to kick back in his crate on the cushy blanket. Unfortunately,  I chose that time to snap some pictures.

Kicking back in his crate
His answer to flash photography...
Then he got a delicious dinner and was thinking things were getting good again and out came the nail trimmers. We got one paw done but I could tell he was pretty stressed so we'll save the others for later. But wait, there was more...
Now it was bath time for this stinky boy. He was at a "wash, rinse and repeat" level of dirty so unfortunately that made the ordeal even longer. While he didn't enjoy the bath, and attempted a couple of escapes, he was a pretty good sport about it. Especially since we had just met and already I was picking ticks off of what used to be his testicles.
Enduring some photos when he just wanted out of that dang tub
Waiting to see what I had in store for him next after his shake-dry. Notice he looks a little worried.
He got all towelled off, spent a few minutes shaking and tearing around, and then he was cold so he decided to head back into his crate for some snooze time. Of course, then I was back in his face with the camera.
He was all comfy but then I was there with that camera

So he solved that problem.
Checking to see if the mean bath lady was still there
Now that we have all that annoying hygiene stuff out of the way I'm hoping that his second day here will be a little more relaxing and fun.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Rescue Train is Rolling into Town

Tonight we have 3 dog's arriving for Northwest foster parents and we can't be happier. They all seem to be pretty sweet dogs and I'm guessing they won't be around for long.

First up we have Evo, a one year old dog who weighs about 10 pounds. Evo was rescued from the Tulare County Animal Shelter. He's a sweet little guy who love to play and is heading to a home where he'll get plenty of that. His foster home in Hood River, Oregon has 2 young kids that will make sure and keep him busy. Follow him on his foster mom's blog:

Sonya (on the right)
Next we have Sonya. She and her sister were in a Fresno shelter, picked up as strays. Her sister, Sierra, is safe but will stay in a California foster home for awhile as she recuperates. But little Sonya will be fostered in Yakima, Washington and at 6 months old and around 8-9 pounds we're sure that she'll be finding her forever home fairly quickly. Follow her on her foster mom's blog:

And lastly, we have our new boy Hobbs. As we said in an earlier post, Hobbs is from the Lodi City Shelter and is around 3 years old. We're pretty excited for him to arrive. Stay tuned here to hear more about our sweet new foster boy, fostered here in Federal Way, Washington.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Frodo Gets a Dental

A trip to the dentist is never something to look forward to and for Frodo, heading to a vet for a dental was doubly so. Poor guy had a rough time of it yesterday.

Tartar wise, his teeth weren't too bad, especially considering that this was his first ever dental. In the waiting area when they did a quick check of his teeth, they didn't find anything loose or looking like it had to be removed, so I was pretty happy about that.

However, I got a call from the vet tech while he was under and one of his molars had pulp exposure from the years of wear (all those antlers he likes to chew through, likely) and that can be both painful and dangerous since it increases likelihood of infections/abcesses. In fact, it explains why he has been eating a lot slower for the past several months. That cold, refrigerated food probably made his nerve endings scream.

Of course the molars are the toughest to remove so the poor guy will likely be feeling it for awhile. He's on antibiotics and pain killers and I'll be forcing him to take it easy for a bit. 

Studied indifference and a twisted harness
On the drive home he was not happy. We stopped at the Post Office and he tried to bark at the people in the car next to us but was too hoarse to be effective. He had also worked his way part of the way out of his harness, which is a little too big for him.

He did get a Kong when we got home and that cheered him up a bit and he forgot to groan for about 30 minutes. 

One thing I wanted to note was that in spite of the fact that Frodo had pretty clean teeth at 7 years old, they still tried to push the crappy, very unhealthy, Science Diet dental food, and dental chews at me. Seriously? You don't think the raw diet and added enzymes are doing a pretty good job when a 7 yr old comes in for their first dental and has fairly clean teeth? I know that people need to listen to their vets, but they also need to question everything and educate themselves. Vets are not trained in nutrition and if they do get any training it is typically in free sponsored classes put on by Hill's Science Diet or Purina - not exactly an unbiased curriculum. Also, vets make a lot of money selling those foods and they are going to recommend them for a ton of different issues. The fact is that all the Science Diet foods are rated in the D and F range on dog food rating scales, and keeping a dog on the food long term will lead to other health issues in the future.  So listen to your vet, but understand that when it comes to nutrition or behavioral training issues, your vet is not the best source of info. There are vets out there who have studied nutrition independently, however you have to look pretty hard to find them.  Okay, I'll step off my soapbox now.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Testing a new treat

The foster dogs get to try out a lot of new toys and it seems that house dog Frodo is often on the losing end of the deal. It's not that I don't want to buy him new things, it's just that he is such a destructive chewer when it comes to new toys there are very few that can withstand his jaws.

So when I decided to try out a new treat at work, I decided it was Frodo's turn for something fun. At work we started carrying a freeze dried tendon that I wanted to try out so I could let customers know how long it would last with a tough chewer. Frodo was on. This was his genre - give it all you got, Frodo my man.

So he set to work and from that I learned that (A) they must be delicious and (B) they last about 5-10 minutes with a tough chewer. Not even close to bully stick level of chew time but still, a nice treat for a dog who likes to work his jaws.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Next up? Hobbs!

Arriving soon in our home will be Hobbs, our next foster dog. This laid back, sweet boy is estimated to be about 3 years old and he weighs approximately 12 pounds. Isn't he chocolaty delicious?!

Hobbs was originally in the Lodi City Shelter in Lodi, California. One of the California State Coordinators got a call about him because the shelter was over capacity and they were going to be euthanizing dogs like Hobbs who had been there awhile. Diane emailed me about him and we got everything set up to get him evaluated and then pulled from the shelter. He was then transported down to Fresno where he hung out with Lynn for a week, waiting for a foster opening. We had a spot for him but that fell through. But then Kiva was adopted so we could add him to the list of new dogs.

When he went into the Central California SPCA to be neutered and get his Rabies vaccination, we had the vet look at his right hip, which seems like it had been broken at some point. The vet agreed that there had been some kind of trauma to the hip/leg but that it was fully healed at this point and didn't seem to cause him pain when manipulated. It is really obvious when he walks since that leg is shorter than the others. His leg also sticks out to the side when he sits due to a small range of motion in the hip joint. Once he's up here I'll take him in for some radiographs so we really know what's going on in there and make sure that there's no pain from the healed fractures.

Happily for us, he gets along great with other dogs and miracle of miracles he appears to be house-trained. Yay!  This will be our first male foster dog since we had Samish back in November. We decided to try again with an easy going boy in hopes that Langley will be able to handle introductions better. If not, Hobbs can always hang out with our resident dog Tilly who is fine with other dogs as long as they don't mess with her bed or interrupt her naps too much.

Hobbs was named after a town in the Southeast corner of New Mexico, just four miles west of the Texas border and is best known for its rich oil deposits and Old West history. Oil was discovered there in 1928 and has continued to be the main industry of the town to the present day.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kiva has a home!

I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone, but this sweet and beautiful gal has found herself a great home. In fact, she has had a home ready for her for a few days, but New Rattitude has a policy that the dogs need to be in foster care for two weeks before they are placed in adoptive homes so we had to wait a few days to hit the two week mark and make it official.

So now she's been with New Rattitude for two weeks and her with us for a little over a week and she's ready to head home. Even though she's only been with us for a short while she's proven to be an incredibley sweet tempered girl. Her new name will be Bailey, and her parents are both retired and live in a big house on four acres in Auburn, Washington. This is perfect for her because she gets a little nervous when she has to spend time alone so we wanted to find her a family where she had someone around most of the time.

We've been enjoying some rare February sunshine today. She'll spend tomorrow with us too and then she'll head to her new home, likely on Tuesday. Good luck little girl - we know you will live surrounded by love, good food and lots of toys and that your shelter days are behind you for good.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Perking up

Kiva was spayed on Tuesday and she also had an umbilical hernia repaired. We had her home by 1 pm and the rest of the day she was pretty out of it. But today she was nearly back to herself and even spent a little time exploring the back yard.

In a few more days she should be back to herself. Langley can't wait!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Langley's New Toy

Kiva went in to have her spay surgery yesterday and afterwards I picked up some dog food and a new toy for Langley.

One of Langley's favorite toys is this puppy Kong with a nylon rope strung through it. He got a brand new one when he first came into foster care back in May and since then it has seen lots of use. Now the rope is hanging together by just a thread.

I don't think they make the toy any longer but they did have an Aqua Kong rope toy which is pretty similar - just orange.

He thought it was pretty great and did a little chewing on it and then a lot of tearing around and throwing it. It's always fun to see a dog get excited about a new toy and this one helped fill a long boring day.