Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Who's the naughty one?

I had bought some new fleece pullovers for dogs and had put the bag they were in up on a shelf. Well Chima loves floppy fabric and is notorious for nosing around on those shelves where I keep foster dog things. She's grabbed collars and tote bags before but this time it happened to be a $35 fleece.

So did Chima do something wrong? Nope. She doesn't really know what passes for chewable and not chewable in the human world and since she loves "killing" floppy fabric things, why would she pass up the bright orange floppy bag with soft floppy things inside of it? And why would I put the bag on the shelf in the first place, knowing that in the past Chima has gotten into things there.

If a dog is going to learn where the good things are that they can chew, it's important to set them up for success. Keep all the things you don't want them to mouth up at a safe height. Keep lots of dog toys at their level that are way more interesting than things on shelves.

So I kind of had a face-palm moment and realized that all of the toys in the basket (and there are a lot of them) are tough rubber or plastic fairly indestructible toys. While Chima will play with those, she really prefers something fabric that she can really shake and throw and eventually rip up a bit. So I got down a stuffing free hedgehog for her and was treated to about 20 minutes of the most hilarious play session. Both her and Salinas loved the beat up, headless hedgehog and thought it was the best toy ever.
Chima with headless hedgehog

Then there was a game of tug that was too fast paced to get a non-blurry photo of

Sadly, Mr. Hedgehog lost his butt in that tug battle

Salinas had the toy and Chima did her effective creepin' move where she invades a dogs personal space, sometimes to the point of standing there with her nose touching their face, and waiting until they decide to put the toy down. It isn't threatening in any way to the other dog - her body language is loose and relaxed and if the other dog growls she will back off and stand a bit further away, waiting her turn. 

When I run out old Skinneeez toys then I have a lot of partnerless socks in the laundry basket that I can braid and tie into knots for them to play with. As long as I make sure to set the girls up for a happy play time my tote bags and coats and magazines will be fairly safe.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Not a lot of content here. Just a couple pictures of the girls spending a relaxing evening on the couch last night. Pretty exciting though that Chima now chooses to lie next to me and didn't even flinch when I put my hand on her chest. In fact she then lay her head on my arm and then got a bit snarky when later Salinas tried to squish herself between Chima and me.

Such great foster girls!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Langley Stops by for a Visit

Langley has been visiting for a few days while his dad has some visits on the mainland. He's been a good boy this visit but because of past snarkage between him and the girls I'm being really careful to keep them apart for the most part.

Occasionally we do backyard playtime together though.  The girls are fine with this since Langley stays on a long lead and the girls can get away from him if they feel overwhelmed. They even move in for the occasional butt sniff when they can sneak one in.

Frodo is his typical forlorn self when we have an extra dog visiting. Lots of sighs and long-suffering looks.

But Langley says, "Hey! I can chillax with the best of them!"

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Always Trust a Terrier

Or at least you should always trust them when rodent hunting is the topic in question. I don't have any photos of this event since it was dark out. This is just a story of how Sal and Chima taught me that sometimes they know better.

It was a dark and stormy night - really it was - the rain was pouring down and I was not happy about having to join the girls for their nightly potty break aka "evening hunting hour". I was standing in the middle of the yard in my rain coat hoping this would be the time they decided to actually go to the bathroom first rather than casing the nighttime landscape for critters. I know - unrealistic - but a girl can dream.

Not sure you've ever heard a high prey drive terrier with cornered prey but it's not pretty. The girls were pacing around the base of a 5' long bamboo hedge we have that is about 15' high and they were giving their rodent call. It's not barking - more like a scream of a tortured animal. I seriously was worried that the neighbors would think I was abusing dogs in the back yard. Both Chima and Salinas were frantic and screeching and no matter what I said I could not calm them down. I took the poop scoop and started whacking at the wood pile at the base of the bamboo, thinking if the mice living in the wood pile (that I've seen before when the dogs flushed them out) ran out, the dogs could chase them and get the screaming over with.
A photo taken this summer when Salinas decided to climb a photinia hedge to go after a squirrel. There's not much she and Chima will let get between them and a rodent.

Alas, no mice ran out. The girls seemed really focused on something up in the hedge so I said, "GIRLS, calm down! There is nothing in the bamb-" and as I was lecturing them I hit the bamboo with the poop scoop to punctuate the end of my sentence. Imagine my shock and surprise when a very large rat dropped down from the bamboo about 8' to the ground. We all froze for a fraction of a second and then the rat took off faster than anything I've seen before with the girls not far behind. I'm proud to say that I didn't scream (the girls were doing plenty of that) but I did run up onto the deck and stand in the middle of it with my mouth hanging open, and my eyes wildly scanning the landscaping for Speedy Gonzales.

He lived to see another day though, because while Chima and Salinas are experts at flushing out rodents, they are not at all skilled in making the actual kill. They are always too verklempt with the thought of a rodent being nearby to pull themselves together and finish the job.

Anyhow, the lesson for today is when it comes to believing whether or not there is a rodent in a shrub and there are two Rat Terriers nearby screaming "RAAAAAAAAAAAAAT" you really should trust the terriers.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Story Behind the "Rescue Railroad"

Every couple of weeks you see a post on this blog about the newest dogs that will be arriving in WA/OR foster homes. By the end of 2013 more than 70 dogs will have taken this trip north.

A Rat Terrier in  Fresno California, meeting our Fresno NR volunteer for the first time and being evaluated as a potential future  NW foster dog

Recently I wrote an article for New Rattitude's 'Tude News about the Rescue Railroad - why we foster so many dogs from California up here in Washington and what exactly goes into getting those dogs from the shelters they come into as strays through their arrival at their foster homes.

Salinas and Chima - former strays who were "Rescue Railroad" travelers and are now our current foster girls

In this same issue you can read the volunteer spotlight article about Lynn Bonham - the volunteer in Fresno who does all the legwork of getting our foster dogs out of the shelters, vetted, and onto transport vans heading to the Northwest.
Lynn with former New Rattitude foster girl, Sierra

So I urge you to check out the article and learn the behind the scenes story of how these great dogs end up in our care.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just in the nick of time

Roswell heads home on Friday to his new brother and dads so I was really happy when Chima finally decided to stop being so aloof with him and play a little. Chima may be a beautiful, serene and stately girl, but once she lets down her guard with you she is a complete goofball. She loves to play chase and in our house no one, not even her sister, will play that game with her since it's a bit like running around with a high speed tank coming after you. Chima is not known for fast stops or graceful turns.

When Roswell first arrived Chima was very interested in him but not yet ready to play.

But Roswell, who IS fast and graceful, took her up on it and I was able to get the tail end of the game on video. You might want to turn the sound off because any game of chase usually involves Tilly and Frodo loudly joining in as the fun police.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fall Foster Photo Shoot

Early November is one of my favorite times of the year: the moist and mossy smell to the air, crisp coolness, and best of all, the blast of color everywhere you turn - reds, golds and oranges on the ground, in the trees and floating by on the breeze.

If you get a clear day it makes for a perfect photo shoot time with the dogs. Today was such a day so I loaded my pockets with treats, put on my rubber boots and headed out into the back yard with the dogs and my camera.
Chima, always happy to pose for photos as long as there are no critters around that need chasing

Salinas wasn't as sure about this but was coaxed out from the ferns with treats

And Roswell just wished I'd hurry up and pass out the treats

Beautiful sisters

They did great and although Salinas and Roswell aren't big fans of the camera they humored me since I did have a pocketful of delicious and stinky kangaroo treats.

Roswell, wanting this camera thing to be over

Attempts to get all three dogs in the same shot were not very successful

The only one where there was a blurry dog flying out of the shot...

And a final shot of Roswell since his gorgeous chocolate color looks so great with the leaves...

Handsome boy!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Roswell's Adopted: From Ranch to Suburb to City

Roswell was a country stray who spent some time on a volunteers ranch in the Central California before he headed to us here in the suburbs of Western Washington. He's such an adaptable little guy that when we learned a former adopter who lives in downtown Seattle was looking for a second dog to keep their shy Rat Terrier company, I thought that Roswell might be just the dog for them.

On Sunday we took Roswell to Seattle to visit their home and see how he and his potential brother Leo did together in their apartment. We also wanted to see how Ros would respond to traffic, buses, streetcars, etc.
Checking out the cars (and peeing on trees)

As expected he was his typical adventurous self. While he gets a bit nervous there wasn't any freezing or barking or panic - just a bit of extra energy and I'm sure once he's used to the environment that will go away.

Roswell's new home is in the center building about 2/3 way up.  The city squirrels look like ants from up there.

I wish I had photos of him and his brother Leo together but they were too busy tearing around and checking out the view from the windows to pause for a photos shoot.

So, have a happy life sweet Roswell and congratulations to his new dads on their new little furry arrival!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Respect and Choice: the Magic Ingredients to Chima's Latest Milestone

So much of working with a fearful dog can be better understood when we try to see things through the dog's eyes. I'm not saying to anthropomorphize the dog, but come on - we are all in the animal kingdom together and there are some behavioral things that pretty much apply across the board.

If you bully a person, chances are they aren't going to want to hang around you and be your friend. They may do what you tell them to do, but they are doing that because they are afraid of you, not because they think you're great.

If you invade a person's personal space, take away their right to make choices about their own body and how they are touched and handled you haven't built up a relationship with that person - no you have broken that relationship.

And if you force a person to do things that are frightening to them, you aren't teaching them to not be afraid since you didn't give them any choice about facing something they fear. Likely nothing will be learned from the experience other than you are a person to be avoided at all costs.

What does this have to do with dogs? Well if we can wrap our head around the idea that these living, breathing creatures with distinct personalities, likes and dislikes, have a right to be treated with respect, then the "training" work we do with our dogs will undergo some pretty dramatic changes. Instead of creating more distrust between dog and human, bonds can be built and I promise you, there will be forward motion in the progress you make when you work together. Don't be a "training bully". Respect the dog and to let go of the need to control everything. Let your dog set the pace.

I say this because I had a pretty amazing moment with Chima on Saturday night. If you remember, when Chima first arrived with us back in May of this year, she did not want to be touched at all (see "Stupendously Wonderful Baby Steps.) Touch was very uncomfortable and she didn't even like me to look at her when I was teaching her cues for "sit" and "come".  We spent a lot of time on the opposite side of the room.

I decided early on that some of the "touch" stuff was just Chima and I had to be okay with that. If she never wanted to snuggle and hang out on the same side of the room as me, that was okay. She was a great dog and that didn't change the fact. We did some touch work with paintbrushes, targeting games, and just basic desensitization and counter conditioning work, but I didn't push things. I accepted her as she was. I loved her for being the dog she was - full of character, a complete goof, a tank with a super-sized motor and one of the most uncoordinated terriers I've met.

Well check out this series of photos. On Saturday Chima jumped up on the couch next to me while I was doing email on my phone. She was between me and the arm of the couch so kind of pinned in and cornered but for the first time that didn't seem to concern her. She sat there rigidly for a bit and then she nudged at my arm, wanting to play our "touch" targeting game that she loves. I was in shock and awe but decided not to play the game, wanting to see if she could relax enough to just kick back and enjoy the moment - relax and nap like the other three dogs on the other end and the back of the couch.
"Whatcha doin'?" 

"Come on - where's your hand? Let's play the targeting game!"

"Well, this is kind of boring."

"Might as well take a power nap until you're ready for a game."

Check out that final photo...  She did it! She figured out I was busy right then and so laid her head down ON MY LAP. Yes folks, she chose to lay there, relaxed, with most of her body touching me. I almost cried because I really didn't think she would ever be comfortable doing this. But I let her make the choice and after 5 months of watching other dogs with me, learning my behavior patterns, and practicing short non-threatening touch linked with big rewards she decided to try out the lap dog thing. It only lasted about 2 to 3 minutes, but it happened, and the fact that it happened at all, let alone for 2-3 whole minutes is huge!

So next time you set an agenda of what you think your dog's personality should be like and what behaviors they should be able to do and when they should be able to do those behaviors, step back and chill out. Let your dog be your partner in the process and let them tell YOU what the timeline will be and how far they are ready to go. When you let go of those expectations and rigid goals, you free both you and your dog up for some amazing experiences and a much happier existence together.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

How to use a cat bed

Cat beds seem to be just the perfect size for the 12 pound and under size of Rat Terriers and I have a couple I keep in the kitchen for whichever dogs happen to be in there at the time.

Apparently they are quite versatile and both Roswell and Tilly have their own special way of sitting in them.

On its side it turns into a chair

But upside down is apparently the most comfortable

Whatever the case, at least they seem to be comfortable.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Rescue Railroad: Two New Foster Dogs in Washington

I know it's only been a week but we couldn't wait to bring a couple more dogs into the pack.

First meet Tulpen. This guy was spending 12 hour days alone and not getting much time out of the house. His mom rehomed her dogs, knowing her work schedule wasn't fair to them. So 6 year old Tulpen is headed to his Seattle foster home. He's sweet, house trained, confident, and could care less about cats. Good boy, Tulpen! Follow his foster adventure at http://cattierattie.blogspot.com/

And then we had a last minute addition to the trip - Daisy!  Miss Daisy is about 3 years old and had lived her life in and out of the shelter due to her owner being occasionally homeless and having a drug and alcohol problem. Finally the shelter talked the owner into sending Daisy to rescue. Daisy is well socialized, loves kids and other dogs, loves to play, and is an all around great dog. Learn more about her on her foster family's Webpage, www.gigharborratties.com

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Smart and Silly

In the few days we've had Roswell in our home he's showed us what a smart little guy he is but also that he is 100% goofball.

I decided to do a bit of clicker training and learned that someone has taught him the cue for "sit" but not much else. We have started to build on that beginning and in just a 3 minute training session he caught on what "down" is. Currently I'm teaching it with a hand signal as the cue but as he get better at it I'll add the word "down." He really seemed to enjoy the training and it was fun to watch how intent he was at trying to figure out the puzzle of what behavior would earn him the reward. Great work, Roswell! I can tell you were born to be a superstar.

And on top of intelligence and great looks this boy is also loaded with personality! He loves to play and is a bit disappointed that none of the other 4 dogs at my house will give him the time of day. It doesn't stop him from trying though. But even if they won't play with him, he's pretty good at entertaining himself as you can see in this video. Silly little guy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Little Chocolate Blur

Roswell is doing great and settling in well. I'd love to show you some beautiful fall photos of him sitting outside in a pile of maple leaves but sadly this boy does not have time to pose for a photo. So all I have to show for two solid days of photo taking are 5 pictures that are in focus enough that I can share them.

He's a hilarious boy and really loves people. As much as he loves to move, he always has time to jump up in a lap for an ear scritch.

Chima and Salinas aren't quite sure what to think of him yet. Sal steers clear but Chima is the curious one and spends a lot of time sniffing him and following around allow the following seems to be a bit of posturing to remind him who runs the show.

Things we've discovered in the last couple of days: he tolerates baths really well, he has the cutest little tail nub EVER that wags non-stop, he is loaded with muscles, when lying down he prefers the "full frog" position, and he has a love of trash cans (or at least their contents.)

I'm looking forward to learning more about this little goofy boy and can't wait to share him with you.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Rescue Railroad: New Washington Foster Dogs

We have three newly rescued dogs arriving in Washington foster homes this weekend . You read about our new boy, Roswell. Well, here are the two sisters who rode on the transport with him:

Harper (rear) and Stella (front) are a cute pair of Rat Terrier mix sisters. The girls came from a shelter where they had been sitting for awhile and had run out of time so it was urgent to get them into foster care. They are believed to be around 1 year old and weigh about 14 pounds each.

From what we hear they are shy and gentle girls who need a bit of time to get to know new people but are quite the little love bugs once they know you are a safe person.

Welcome to Washington, Harper and Stella! Harper will be fostered in Gig Harbor and you can follow her on her foster parents' rescue page. Stella will be fostered in Yakima and her adventures in foster care can be seen on the Yapitude in Yakima Rescue Blog.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Introducing Roswell!

We're pleased to announce the arrival of a new foster boy in our home! His name will be Roswell and he's said to be a happy go lucky, energetic guy who does great with other dogs but not so much with cats (seems to be a theme with our foster dogs.)

He's about 3 years old and the guess at his weight is about 14 pounds. We can't wait to get to know this new guy and maybe Chima will finally have found a dog who is willing to play with her. Stay tuned to hear more about this chocolaty delicious tricolor guy.

Continuing our New Mexico name theme, Roswell is named for the famous town in New Mexico, best know for the supposed 1947 UFO Crash. The town has built a tourism industry around the fabled incident so that even with a population of just 48,000 people it is knows around the nation.