Wednesday, July 31, 2013


When the girls first arrived in our home as new foster dogs, they were pretty freaked out by all the changes they'd been through. A suburban home in the Pacific Northwest was about as foreign and bizarre as it could get for these outdoor dogs who had grown up in the desert.

Salinas showed her unease through constant movement. She paced, wanted attention from the humans and then cowered when she received attention. Chima on the other hand was pretty still but always standing on the other side of the room from the humans and intensely watching us. It was pretty clear she wasn't going to relax with us in the room as she wanted to be able to escape from us quickly if we tried any funny business. Relaxing on the couch or even lounging on the floor wasn't an option for them.

Now here we are about 3 months later. Yesterday morning I was doing my computer work in the living room so I could supervise a bit while they played. Of course, I got distracted and after about 45 minutes looked up because it was way too quiet. With terriers, much like with toddlers, quiet can be a not so good thing.

Imagine my suprise when from the dining room where I sat, I saw no dogs. But they were gated into the living/dining area and the gate is still in place?! Where could they have gone?!! I stood up quickly in panic and then this is what I saw...

Chima, wondering what my problem is

Salinas popped her head up worriedly when I made a racket jumping out of my chair

The girls had finished their playing and chewing and had settled on their own piece of furniture for a snooze. Salinas, who always picks up on any human stress was concerned by my initial stress and then my fumbling with a camera and you can see in her ear and body position that I've made her worried. Chima, found my whole picture taking thing rather boring and went back to sleep.

Salinas, wanting to go back to sleep but concerned about me standing around with a camera

Chima went back to sleep when she discovered there was no emergency and that I didn't have any treats to toss her

Please be patient if you've adopted or bought a new dog. For you it may be wonderful to have a dog in your life. You are probably excited and overjoyed by their arrival. But that poor dog doesn't necessarily know that it will be a wonderful experience for them yet. They are in a strange place with an unknown person and they need time to adjust to this major change and to discover that their new life is wonderful. While some dogs can make that adjustment in a few days, for the typically smart and very sensitive Rat Terrier, that adjustment is more likely to take a few months. If you step back and give them time to decide things are okay, it will go much faster than if you push them and get frustrated. So hang in there and celebrate the little a snooze on the couch. Who knew it could be such an exciting thing?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Salinas and her Outside Toy

A long time ago I bought a Jolly Ball Teaser Ball, thinking it would be the best tough toy for my terriers. I put it in the living room, they gave it a sniff or two and then walked away thinking "meh."  It went in the toy box about a year ago and there it has sat pretty much the entire time. Langley may have played with it once but that's it.

So imagine my surprise the other day when I look outside to find Salinas chasing after the teaser ball as it rolled down the hill. I had left the sliding door open so the girls could go in and out and she had chosen the teaser ball to play with. Yay! Now that it has a few teeth marks in it maybe other dogs will think it's worth playing with.

Monday, July 29, 2013

3rd Annual Northwest Rattiefest: Huge Success!

Wow! What an amazing event. From doing head counts on the different panoramic photos we know there were close to 90 humans and 50 dogs who joined the festivities.

From all the smiling facing and wagging tails, we're pretty sure that attendees had a great time. The humans bought tickets and could spend those tickets on trying their luck at the raffle where there were 28 great raffle items to try for, or they could spend tickets on the new games we had this year. A big thanks to my husband Troy who had the idea to add games! Dogs got to bob for hot dogs at the Dog Eat Dog booth, or they could try out a large variety of puzzle toys with their parents at the Puzzle Plaza. Humans could guess the number of kibble pieces in a jar in attempts to win a very nice soft sided crate full of Evanger dog food and treats. There was also the Rattie Rollin' dice game where you could roll the dice and depending on your roll, could win from three different groups of prizes - everyone won something in this game.

Bobbing for hot dog pieces

Some kids try their luck at the Rattie Rollin' game

The end result of this fantastic event (other than exhausted dogs) was that over $1,600 was raised in just 2 hours. That money will be used to pay for medical care and transport costs of the Northwest New Rattitude foster dogs. I want to extend a great big thank you to all of you who attended and purchased tickets. Not only have you guys made a difference by adopted a homeless Rat Terrier, you are continuing to make a difference by helping more rat terriers.

Inigo (former NR foster dog) tests out the Buster Maze at the Puzzle Plaza

And just as important, I want to thank the New Rattitude Northwest team of volunteers. You gave money for supplies, gifts for the raffle, begged and borrowed banquet tables from around the region, and brought all kinds of things from home so that this event could run so smoothly.

The Raffle Table

New Rattitude Information Table

Looking down the hill at some of the different Rattiefest booths

Thanks to all of you who worked booths and brought items. We couldn't have done it without your help and generosity. But a special shout out to Cindy Tokar for managing the food table and making all the signs for that, bagging up goodies, and talking her mom into once again making her epic homemade whoopie pies and shortbread to sell. Also a big thanks to Bruce and Karyn Fleming. Bruce helped us out by making beautiful signs for each of the different areas and Karyn managed the raffle, pulling together all the donated items into gift sets and making them look pretty and festive. Thanks to Carol Giberson for doing all the things that I was dropping the ball on thanks to the unexpected and happy event of Langley's adoption being processed.  She wrote up directions for the different games and the supply lists for each of them, managed the Biggest Loser: Northwest Rattie Edition and tallied up all the dogs weight loss stats so I'd have that info to announce the winners at the event, and then finally brought the 1/2 car load full of boxes that I couldn't fit into my Honda so that Troy and I didn't have to drive 2 cars to the event.

Pearl, a former NR foster dog, looking pretty

Elvis was one of our former foster dogs for NR. Such a sweet guy.
One of the best part of the events for the foster parents is getting a chance to see former fosters again, happy and enjoying their life as beloved family dogs. There were so many former New Rattitude fosters attending - I know I missed several - but it was great to see a few of my former kiddos. Elvis was a boy who was returned because he was fearful of the crawling baby in the home and the husband didn't like him. We found him a wonderful home with a former adopter and he and his sister Pearl alternate time between living in the city of Seattle and hanging out at their cabin that they hike into up in the mountains. Also attending was a foster dog from back in January of this year. Zia was one of the Rat Terrier-Jack Russell mix pups who we fostered back in January. She's 9 months old now and a tall, long legged beauty, full of energy and ready for fun. She had a blast tearing around with all the dogs and was fast, fast, FAST! Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of her but we just did a pupdate post on Zia so you saw how pretty she grew up to be. And Huckleberry also came and said hi to me. He looked great and was so much braver than he used to be. He clearly has blossomed in his home.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the photos and if you didn't make it we hope you'll be able to join us next year.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Langley Heads Home Part Three: Stillness

Stillness of person and steadiness of features are signal marks of good breeding. 
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Okay, so we never claimed good breeding for Langley. He's a desert dog with questionable lineage and a brain that might have some problems with how it's wired. But in spite of his lack of stillness and lineage, he was a dog who experienced life with joyous, childlike quality that can only be described as "living epically." His "epicness" was often at odds with the other dogs' distinct dislike of Langley's perspective on things, making our home a maze of expens and crates and timers marking who gets to be where and when they get to be there. But his joie de vivre is missed greatly by us humans. 

One would think that it would be quieter here, since Langley was one to vocalize his displeasure if someone was playing with a toy and he was in a crate, or if his dinner was being made in the kitchen out of his line of sight. But I think Frodo and Salinas have a pact to fill the sound void he left. Have no fear, my sound cancelling headphones are still getting lots of use. 

It's the movement that is missing. Sometimes frenetic, sometime spectacular (can you say 5 foot leaps from standing) and sometimes a lazy awkward playful lope, but always, always moving. Of course when he was here it drove me crazy at times. Stillness was the behavior that I most loved to see, mark and reward. And I'll admit, I do love the peace that comes with stillness, but I miss the goofy, spazzy movement that has been a constant in our life for the past 14 months. 

What I do know is that I couldn't be happier about the love and attention that will now be showered on this deserving goofball of a dog. He deserved to be someone's focus and that is what the universe gave him.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Langley Heads Home Part Two: At Home with Dad

I'm happy to say that the hand-off of Langley went superbly. Bruce invited us to dinner and Langley explored the house and his new toys while we ate and chatted about him. Langley got through his initial nerves in just a couple minutes at the beginning and then settled into his normal Langley mode of alternating goofy play with general nosiness about his surroundings, and using his long legs to check out what the counters might hold for him.
Langley with his new dad

He found Bruce much more interesting than Troy and I, which is just the way I wanted it

Giving his dad some love

His first day went well other than a little restlessness that first night sleeping in a new house. But he relaxed enough during the day that he was behaving the same way he did at our house - keeping himself entertained by playing with a toy and throwing it around for himself, as you can see in the video that Bruce took of him.

By night two he was all moved in and he slept through the night. They are still getting house training schedules worked out but Bruce was okay with that and is teaching Langley to ring a bell to be let out for a potty break which is a wonderful idea. Here's a day 2 photo of Langley crashing after a day of lots of play, walks and wrestling. He rested in the office next to where his dad was working on the computer. My first thought was "ooooh - click him for that calm!!"

I've always described Langley as the most guileless, and joyful dog that I've ever met, living completely in the moment and loving every person he meets. So when his dad talked about their first couple days together and commented that "he's been such a joy!!!" I knew that Langley had ended up with someone who could see past the challenges to the true heart of this wonderful dog. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Langley Heads Home Part One: Getting Ready to Go

Last week was a busy, busy week getting Langley all packed and ready to make his big move to his new home. Since we wanted his new dad to have all the tools that we've found to work well, and because we wanted Langley to be able to take all his favorite things with him, we had quite a load to pull together.
The start of the pile

And here it was getting a little out of control...

Finally I had to get a box because there were so many toys and puzzles to send with so he could keep busy. 

Beyond just pulling together all the food, supplements, treats, toys, blankies, etc., I also wanted to compile behavioral and medical info for Langley's new human so that they could hit the ground running and not have to blindly flounder around for what works best with Langley. I always send a dog home with a "Go-Home Binder" but it's generally a page of summarized vetting and food info and then copies of a dogs medical records. Langley's go home binder was going to be more of a "What to Expect When You're Expecting...a Langley" book.

I started out with 2 pages of talking about Langley, how to work with his anxiety, the idea of training for a "default calm", the concept of stress stacking, what the term "threshold" means and where Langley's threshold is at, yada, yada, yada...  Next I had a couple pages on food and nutrition since when Langley gets anxious he can have bouts of gastro-enteritis and for him food and behavior are very much linked. Then there was a 2 page "Cue Dictionary" of the verbal and visual cues Langley has learned for various behaviors. Finally to round off the Behavior section we had the report from Dr. Louisa Beal, DVM, a wonderful behavioral veterinarian who visited with Langley in our home. That was the "Part 1" of the book.

Next we had the basic go-to vetting documents: neuter certificate, Rabies certificate, proof of DHPP vaccination, and the most recent blood test results. That was followed by the large section of vetting invoices from our many vet visits and then finally the actual vetting chart notes, which were very interesting to review.

And as if that wasn't over the top enough, I rounded out this avalanche of info with video's of me letting Langley out of his crate and letting him out into the back yard to show how to wait for him to settle and practice impulse control. Yes, there was some overkill involved in Langley's go home.

I definitely acted like a worried mama bear, but Langley's dad Bruce took it all in stride. He accepted my questioning about the dog trainer he wanted to use and the barrage of advice with quiet grace and let me work it out of my system.

And tomorrow you will see the results of this "go home" and how Langley is doing in his new life.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

One Week until the Northwest Rattiefest!

We've been busy getting ready for New Rattitude's 3rd Annual Northwest Rattiefest that will run on Sunday July 28th  from 1 to 3 pm in the east dog area at Robinswood Park in Bellevue, Washington. More than just another Rat Terrier meetup, this is a time when we as New Rattitude volunteers celebrate our supporters - both the fans and the adopters. 

Foster parents celebrate as they see former foster dogs, now settled into loving homes and doing well. We socialize, and play and talk about how blessed we feel to have spent another year with our beloved Rat Terriers. But it's not just about the socializing. 

"Dude! What happened to your fur?!"

Lots of sweet dogs to hang out with

You wouldn't think it could get much more exciting than having 50 plus terriers corralled together, but it does. Of course we will have our annual raffle which raises funds for our Northwest foster dogs who end up needing medical care beyond what the adoption fees can cover. This year we have some spectacular items being raffled off - a years supply of By Nature kibble, puzzle games, a private training session at University Canine Learning Academy in Seattle, Eagle Creek luggage.... Let me tell you folks, that raffle table will be loaded this year.
The 2012 Raffle Table

There will be a Green slow feeder in the raffle

This year though, your tickets can be used for more than just the raffle - we'll have 4 different "game" areas including a double ex-pen area called the Puzzle Plaza where your Rat Terrier can test out the latest puzzle toys and the "Dog Eat Dog" pen where your dog gets to bob for hot dog pieces. 
The Nina Ottosson "Twister": one of the many puzzle games to try out in the Puzzle Plaza

Tickets cost $1 for 1, $10 for 12 or the best deal, $20 for an arm span of tickets (which if you get someone with long arms can be close to 40 tickets.)  We'll also be accepting credit cards this year making it easier to make purchases. 

Snacks, soda, and water will be available for sale as well. 

So we hope we'll see you there! We love the chance to spend an afternoon talking about Rat Terriers to a group of folks who love them as much as we do. And if your dog wouldn't be happy at such a wild and active event, please join us anyhow - let them relax and stay happy and you can come enjoy the event without worrying about their stress level.

To get the details, a map, and to RSVP, check out the event page on the New Rattitude Northwest Region's Facebook Page.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Rescue Railroad: Three New Dogs Arriving Tonight

I haven't been doing these posts for awhile but here we go. Things have been fairly slow with adoptions until just this last week. So we have three new dogs arriving to fill the spots of adopted dogs.

First we have Sissy. She's a pretty little thing - 3 to 4 years old and a tiny 8 pounds. From what we hear she is good with cats and other dogs. Sis was a stray in Kings County California and the shelter contacted one of our volunteers asking if we could help. Big Kudos to the Kings County Animal Control for working so hard to network their shelter dogs to rescue groups and get them to safety. Sissy will be fostered in Yakima, Washington and you can follow her on her foster mom's blog.

Next we have this beautiful blue tricolor pup, Leonetti. He's about 6 months old now and is pretty shy. He'll be looking for a quiet, low key household who will give him some time to come out of his shell and feel safe. We can't wait to meet the little guy! Leo will be fostered in Seattle and you will be able to keep up with his adventures over on his foster mom's blog.


Another shot of Olivia showing her body

And last but not least is this beautiful gal - Olivia. She is an active, confident, one to two years old and weighs about 15 pounds but could stand to lose a couple pounds. We don't have the best photos of her but even so, you can see what a gorgeous dog she is.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pupdate: Zia!

Zia in January at 3 months old
Remember the pups I fostered back in January? Well I heard from Zia's mom yesterday and she is doing fabulous! She's 9 months old now and starting a "Puppy - level 2" training class and once she finishes that might get involved in some dog sports. With her long legs and athletic build and drive I'm sure she will dog great in dog sports.

Zia now, still with the cute head tilt - Isn't she beautiful?

Her body shape and head shape ended up all Rat Terrier but her ears and her energy came from her Jack Russell dad.

A nice profile shot as she eats a West Paw Zisc

In true terrier fashion, taking on two big boys in a game of tug

We're so happy she ended up in a family who took the time to socialize her and take her to training classes too. Happy life, sweet Zia girl!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Tricks for Old Dogs

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend my second class with Lori Stevens, a senior Tellington Touch Practioner, CPDT-KA certified trainer, and a bunch of other certifications that there is no way I'll remember. What I do remember though is she is fabulous and if you ever get a chance, take a class from her.

This seminar was specific to senior dogs and both about the power of touch and body wraps to bring back awareness to tired achy limbs, but also the importance of conditioning for our aging furry family members.

Since our house dog Tilly is about 11 years old, we've started to work on the conditioning exercises and once she's stronger with these initial exercises we'll start work on building up her stabilizing muscles, since she is starting to have some issues with balance. Tilly thinks these exercises are AWESOME!!! That's because they involve both getting one on one time with me AND lots of treats.

Beyond the learning though, it was a great time to socialize and network with other rescuers, shelter workers, and dog trainers from the region. Two other New Rattitude foster parents attended the seminar with me and we had a happy surprise when a former New Rattitude foster dog showed up with his mom for the class. I also met a great trainer in the Gig Harbor area, a supervisor for a local shelter, and met and chatted with the owner of the training center that sponsored the class, Grisha Stewart, who also created the BAT Protocol method of working with fearful dogs, one of the tools in my training tool chest when working with fear reactive dogs.

Anyhow, a great time was had by all. Here are some photos of the New Rattitude dogs at the event:
Lori working on demo-dog D'Light, a New Rattitude Alumnus

D'Light with his mom, showing us how much he loves touch. D was a dog who was highly fearful and afraid of touch. T Touch was a big part of moving D through that fear.

D aka Fang-Monkey, blissing out during a T Touch session with his mom

Boushey, a New Rattitude alumnus, and his mom Aim

Skip, one of our New Rattitude foster parent's dogs

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Getting ready to head for home

Langley will be living with his new dad in Redmond for another month or so and then they will retire to their house on Orcas Island. Langley is going to love being able to RUN, RUN, RUN in the fenced acre he'll have. His dad was nice enough to send me some photos of where he and Langley will be retiring and I am jealous! It's absolutely beautiful.  I did warn him he might need to add some protective fencing for his beautiful garden. Langley can be a bit like a runaway train when he gets going.
Looking up towards Langley's new home

Looking down the drive

Pocket beach near Langley's new home on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington
Because most of my foster dogs get adopted in a month or two, I'm not used to having to track vaccinations, etc. for a foster dog. While his DHPP vaccination is good for 3 years, his first Rabies vaccination was just a 1 year vaccination so he needed a 3 yr Rabies booster as well as an annual Heartworm test so he'd be ready to go home. 
Langley was watching the bottom of the door since you could see when people walked by.

He actually did really well at the vets. As you can see in the photos he was definitely anxious and he struggled to focus on me when I talked to him and tried to catch his attention. However, considering some of the past visits that Langley and I have had at vets, this was downright amazing in comparison. It helped that he didn't see or hear any other animals while he was there. He spread the love around standing up at the counter on his hind legs and looking over to get the veterinary assistants' attention so he could dole out kisses to everyone. He even gave Dr. Sutherland kisses while she was taking his temperature, which I thought was quite generous of him. 
You can see by his panting and tense face that he was quite worried about being there, but he stayed true to his nature and was sweet to all humans, in spite of his stress.

When we got home he bounced back by the evening and was doing great. Now that Langley himself is ready to go home, I've got plenty of work this week gathering his items to go home with him, filling prescriptions, picking up a bag of his food and most importantly pulling together the "Book of Langley" which will have all his vet records, behavioral vet consult plan, tips and info about working with him, a dictionary of all the cues/behaviors that he knows....  I've got a busy week ahead of me if I'm going to have him ready to head home on Friday.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Loving Langley

I've waited fourteen months to write this happy/sad post. You see, our long term foster Langley, aka Langster, aka Crazy Train, aka Langalanga Ding Dong, has been adopted.
Asking for a belly rub - one of his favorite past times and a reason I have so many photos of him lying like this

Over the last 14 months Langley has had about 6 or 7 applications, I believe. Families with kids, people with small animals (snack food for Langley), guys looking for an off leash dog to take to work at their outdoor job with them (which would last about .3 seconds as they watched Langley tear down the road after a bird), and then an adopter who seemed like the perfect person/personality but the place they were in their life around housing was not a fit for our anxious boy. I was tougher than normal on the applicants because it was so important that they saw past the beautiful exterior that Langley has, past his supermodel legs, to the inner beauty but also the special needs he has. Because of his anxiety and compulsions he needed a calm, quiet home in a calm, quiet neighborhood, with calm, quiet, and most importantly patient people. With that in place Langley could not just succeed, he could shine. 
Working on relaxing around foster Chihuahua Bo.

Ready to work: Langley loves our impromptu training sessions and really enjoys learning new things. We play lots of clicker games and learned many a trick to help him have ways to refocus his attention when he was feeling anxious.

Our home has never been a good fit for Langley. We knew this and did our best to rearrange our life and our home so it was a better fit. But in the end, I knew that a lot of Langley's anxiety came from living in a home that had random dogs coming and going, lots and lots of dogs, and a pretty variable schedule. I could give him the impulse control learning games, the positive reinforcement of behaviors he needed to be a house dog, and a person who was dedicated to doing their best for him, but in the end, I knew that my best was still not going to overcome the issues of Langley having to live in a houseful of outspoken terriers.  He needed to be someone's main focus, and in this busy house with so many dogs sharing my time that wasn't possible.

With a patient dog who Langley trusts, he can do quite well. Here he is in his Thundershirt playing with former foster girl, Neah, who was fair, had no fear of Langley's wildness, and refused to let him bully her. She is a strong, confident girl with a very terrier tude.

Langley was also pretty good with puppies as they didn't catch and rebuke him for his social gaffes like adult dogs did.  This little girl, Apple, had him wrapped around her paw (when she didn't have her mouth wrapped around his.)

I'm very proud of the distance Langley has traveled in his ability to manage his compulsions and to look to humans for guidance. Learning to calm oneself is something that even we humans struggle with when faced with scary places and situations. Getting angry at a dog for being out of control in the face of fear and anxiety is ridiculous and wrong. Instead teach them impulse control. Teach them self soothing behaviors they can turn to when nervous. Teach them that you are a person they can trust to look to for assurance and guidance. And above all, be patient and understand that fear is an emotion, no matter how illogical the fear seems.
And the "most patient dog" award goes to.......Frodo! Our personal dog Frodo really struggled around Langley over the past year. He did his best to adjust to life with the wild man, and learned to hoard his favorite toys down in the recreation room where he was the only dog who had access to them.

Langley visiting with our son Hunter when he was home from college. Langley adores Hunter and went through a fairly anxious adjustment when he went back to school.

At the park practicing focus and self control: There are lots of geese at this park and it was a good place to practice the cue "check in" that I use to get Langley's focus back on me. Here there was a new dog entering the park so we were about to head home.

Another favorite past time: watching birds and critters through the window. We let him do this for short periods of time but allowing him to do it for long periods would feed his compulsive behaviors and he would start to unravel emotionally.

He has taught me so much about myself and in my quest to help him relax I've become a learning theory junkie, attending all sorts of seminars and classes and completely overhauling my understanding of dogs and how they learn. After 14 months with Langley I am smarter, more patient, and my yard has never been more clear of dog turds. 
Attempting a group photo session with the other foster dogs, Salinas and Chima. They were pretty new to the house and as you can see Langley isn't too sure about sitting so close to them, especially since he learned the hard way that Salinas does NOT like to be humped.
I rarely cry when my foster dogs go home now - after fostering 80 or so dogs, I've learned to protect my heart from the goodbyes. But I will be crying off and on for the next month or so as I prepare for goodbye and then adjust to life without Langley. 

Tomorrow's post: Langley getting ready for his new home...