Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chima's Epic Rodent Hunt

Chima is very much a working terrier in temperament. She's independent, not sure human are worth her time, and nothing in her life could ever be as amazing as hunting small critters. I've had terriers before who barked and made a racket when they scented the trail of a rodent but Chima doesn't bark, she screams. A scream that sounds a bit like a dog being tortured and makes neighbors wonder (aloud) if you are beating your dog.

When not actively hunting, Chima loves to patrol for critters who dare to invade her lair 

But as much as she finds me mostly useless since I can't help her catch critters, I love her enough for both of us. She makes me laugh daily and definitely gives me plenty of interesting stories. Ever since the bathroom trash cans have been locked out of Frodo's reach we've had a deficit of funny stories in this house so it's nice to have some fresh material.

A couple days ago after I came home from work I let the dogs out like I usually do. We had an hour between getting home from work and leaving for Chima's Nose Work class and I try to spend most of it as a playtime for the dogs. Chima tore down to the woodpile as per usual for a cursory check for any rodents who might have returned and that was when the screaming began. Bamboo quaked, logs flew through the air and then through the hedge shot Chima mouth wide open in the song of her people.

She launched herself through 3' tall Western sword ferns and then scrambled on her belly under our 14" tall deck. That was when an epic battle began. It lasted 50 minutes and involved a long stretch of landscaping tube. Apparently, some unlucky rodent parents had chosen a smart place to build a house - nice, dry, and dark - but you know the saying, "location, location, location." They really shouldn't have chosen Terrier Ghetto as their neighborhood.

Under the deck I could hear what sounded like Chewbacca battling a 6' long monster. Much groaning and moaning was heard with the occasional screech of anger and every once in awhile a length of tube would whip out from under the deck and back under before I could grab it.

I gave up and the other dogs and I went inside and every couple minutes I stuck my head out the sliding door to listen if the battle continued. It did.

Finally, 10 minutes before we had to leave for Nose Work class, I tricked her into poking her head out from under the deck and the look on her face was priceless. Utter joy and amazement like she was saying "OMG! YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT I FOUND UNDER THERE!"  In a true show of progress thanks to training, I was able to get her collar and then using copious amounts of freeze dried tripe so she wouldn't freak out about me holding onto her collar, got her in the house.

She was dirty, grass stained and stinky but, dang, she was happy and off to Nose Work we went so she could ignore me some more while she hunted, this time with me paying for the privilege. That evening my husband managed to drag the evil tube out from under the deck and he left it in the middle of the yard, planning on disposing of it over the weekend. Yesterday this led to much merriment as Chima continued to work on the tube. I got some great photos and then the tube went bye-bye before Chima injured herself in her excitement.

Chima and Salinas wait it out on either end

Remnants of the nest and a couple peanut shells - you can see she had attempted chewing  the tube open under the deck

First she tried scratching it out with her paw

Then she tried poking her nose into it

Then she tried to shove her head into while walking. Alas, the nest stayed just out of reach.

Friday, March 28, 2014

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

 We have three new dogs arriving in foster care tomorrow night and a fourth who came to us right here from Seattle. Welcome furry ones!

First up we have Neon. This sweet pup was surrendered with a total of 11 dogs a rural city shelter. The dogs ranged from about 8 weeks to 7 years old and were all Jack Russell and Rat Terriers or mixes of the two. Neon is about 5 months old and is a little shy due to not getting many experiences beyond the pen she grew up in. She's looking for a quiet, calm home that will work with her using positive reinforcement to build up her confidence. This pretty girl weighs about 8 or 9 pounds and will be fostered in Snohomish, Washington. Follow her fostering adventures at

Our next girl is named Bella. She's a pretty 2-3 year old brindle piebald, Rat Terrier mix who loves to play and has a great temperament. She's an active girl so couch potatoes need not apply. Her dream home will be a family who loves to play, hike, walk, etc and another playful dog would be a plus in Bella's book. She'll be fostered in Gig Harbor, Washington and you can follow her at

The only boy we have this week is Sheriff. This sweet little man is about 4 months old and was picked up as a stray about a month ago. He had run out of time so a shelter volunteer contacted New Rattitude about him. We don't know much about his personality or size at this point but you can follow him on his foster mom's blog at  Sheriff will be fostered in Yakima, Washington.

A fourth dog didn't have far to go. Twelve year old Torii was at the Seattle Humane Society. She had arrived with several elderly Chihuahua's and all were in pretty bad shape. The SHS got her a dental and had several rotten teeth extracted. New Rattitude contacted them about Torii and because she was so stressed in the kennel environment, they transferred her to us. She's now much more relaxed and is settling in nicely in her foster home. Torii is being fostered in Seattle, Washington.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March Barkbox Review

We love our monthly fun surprise when the Barkbox arrives. This month's was especially fun thanks to some great squeaky toys and treats.
March's box had a breakfast theme

I can't ever really review treats from what the dogs thought of them because all of the dogs at my house think that any food is GREAT!

If they reviewed a new treat it would go like this:

Chima: More, more, MORE!
Salinas: Love it! Awesome! HEY - Did Chima get more than me?!
Tilly: NO FAIR!!! (Tilly is on a special diet and mourns the loss of trying out new treats)
Frodo: Most excellent! May I have a fourth helping?
Klee: Treats, treats, treats! I love treats! More treats! Whoops, sorry Sal. (after she jumps on top of Salinas in puppy excitement)

So I can only say that these treats both had wonderful, healthy ingredients and the dogs sucked them down when offered a sample. I've fed the Hare of Dog treats before - they make an all rabbit treat (and when I mean all, I mean ALL of the rabbit and only the rabbit.)  It's a great choice for dogs with allergy issues.

The squeaky toys this month were wonderful. Made of suede and stuffed with coconut fiber, they were tougher than your average plush toy but still, not something that would hold up to a precision power chewer like Salinas or Frodo.

Chima broke in the toy as she always does - full on rolling around attack, complete with growling, groaning, and pouncing. Salinas settled in with the bacon and got right to work on scissor mouthing that thing open. She didn't get to play with it for long since I wanted it to last more than the 2 minutes it would take for her to cut it open.

Chima gettin' her crazy on

Chima - this is when she pauses, daring the toy to move so she can beat it into submission. After the pause to build anticipation, she kicks it, chases it down, and then commences with the toy beating

Salinas, chewing the side of the bacon with dainty, quiet precision. For all Chima's loud and wild show, a toy in Salinas' paws has a much shorter lifespan.

Frodo seemed to really like the fact that they were leather and spent a lot of time sniffing the toy in between chews.

And Klee? Well she was just so excited to get a turn with the bacon that she couldn't stop running around with it in her mouth long enough to squeak it.

Not sure who will score the bull bladder chew but they've had these before and love them. Not quite as durable as a bully stick but apparently equally as tasty.

If you are interested in signing up for a Barkbox you can use this link to sign up and get $5 off your subscription and earn an extra box for Frodo and his pack.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Puppy at Heart

Our sweet old girl Tilly never makes it into the blog posts that often since she spends a lot of time in the kitchen in her favorite beds and can't be bothered with the punk dogs in the other parts of the house. So I thought I'd post this video of my sweet girl doing what she loves best - rolling in the grass in the sunshine.

Tilly's about 13 now and 7 of those years were pretty rough. Her health has failed very quickly in the last year and the chronic pancreatitis and intestinal inflammation that she suffers from has taken its toll and made for a very rough winter. That's why I was so very happy to capture Tilly being her silly old self. She loves to roll in the grass in the sunshine and will sometimes roll around so much that she will slide down the hill and fall off the grass into the landscaped beds.

And she's as gross as ever - she will stand up, pee, and then continue her rolling, right through the pee. And if there's a turd in the way, all the better! Because is Tilly's world poop is awesome! It smells great and you can always sneak one into the corner for an afternoon snack. (I warned you she was a gross little dog.)

We love every little thing about our seven and a half pounds of gross little dog and because she may not be with us much longer, these happy moments where she can kick up her heels and experience joy are all the more precious.

Friday, March 21, 2014

How to Spend a Sunny Day

After a ton of soggy weather we've actually had some beautiful days. This is much appreciated by both me and the dogs since no one likes to stand out in the rain during potty breaks. In fact, Chima downright refuses to stand out in the rain.

So what do they choose to do once we have sunshine? Do they romp and run? Roll in grass? Nope. They chew on things. And then chew on some different things. I'm not sure why they find it so amazing but right now fir and alder cones are the chew of choice along with the occasional stick. Oh well, at least they are having fun.

Salinas, Chima and Klee on the hunt for the perfect cone

Klee loves to chew up the little alder cones

Salinas spends a lot of time looking for the perfect fir cone

Friday, March 14, 2014

Rescue Railroad: New Foster Dog Arriving Tonight

We have one new boy arriving this week but wanted to let you know about him because he is a great guy. 

Rusty was part of the breeding stock of a backyard breeder who called his dogs "Red Fox Terriers". From what we understand was he was pretty much taking miniature Rat Terriers and Miniature Pinschers and then dumping the dogs who weren't red. Former New Rattitude foster girl Ember was one of those pups who was dumped for being the "wrong" color. 

Because he didn't have a kennel license the city or county was able to shut him down and all dogs were removed from his property. He was allowed to keep two dogs but they had to be spayed/neutered. Happily, the confiscated dogs weren't your average under-socialized messes that backyard breeders tend to turn out. They are pretty confident dogs with nice even temperaments. 

Rusty is all red with upright ears and a docked tail. He weighs about 10-12 pounds and we'll learn more about him when he settles into his foster home. He'll be fostered by our newest foster parent, Farley Harding, in Seattle, Washington. A big thank you to Farley for stepping up and being a part of saving this guy's life. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Poor, poor pig

I'm a sucker for pig toys for some reason so when we got the new Go Dog Flying Pig toy in at work, of course I brought one home for the dog. Isn't he cute?

The dogs of course loved it and everyone took their turn breaking him in.




The dogs love him - he grunts when squeezed and then his wings make a crinkly sound. And best of all he has cool tags sewn into his butt that are just asking to be chewed off. I was going to take some photos or video and went to grab my phone and came back to a sad little one eyed pig.

Who was to blame?

Pretty sure it was either Frodo or Salinas as they are the two with the fast acting scissor jaws in this house. That's okay, at least he still has his guts intact - at least for today.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Beat The Heat

Klee had to wait 5 weeks after her head injury to have her spay surgery and that put her right at the age where she was about to have her first heat cycle. So we've been biting our nails, hoping that we'll make it to the surgery date.

When she started humping our arms we knew that we were running out of time. Each day was a little celebration that we had made it one day closer to the spay. (Can you tell I really don't like dealing with dogs that are in heat?)

Well, I'm happy to say we made it! On Sunday Klee went into the vet ready to be safely spayed. They changed the anesthesia just a bit but she did great.

Salinas and Chima give Klee a post spay sniffdown

I'm not sure she's in as celebratory a mood as we are, though. She spent some time kicking back and Chima and Salinas had to give her the sniff down now that she was missing her girl parts.

Klee resting up at home after her surgery

But she'll be bouncing back quickly and is now all ready to be adopted!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Rain, rain, go away

There has been so much rain lately that our back yard makes squelching noises when you walk across it. None of the dogs like the rain much and Chima actually full on refuses to go out and has to be re-crated after multiple attempts before she will let me walk her on leash, off the deck to pee. If I don't leash her there's a good chance she'll just pee on the deck under the eaves of the house where it's dry.

So imagine all of our excitement last Friday when the sun broke out for enough time that the yard dried out and the dogs could actually play.

Salinas sniffing the daffodils

Klee had a case of the zoomies and Chima and a running puppy don't go well together so Chima and Tilly ended up having a separate play time after this photo session.

Klee explored one of Chima's favorite hunting spots - the Kerria shrub. Note the tunnel system that Chima has bulldozed through it.
Frodo's response to all this time out in nature was the same as always - dirt avoidance and asking me if he could just go inside and maybe play some nice clean Nose Work games or something. 

Frodo: "Are we done having fun yet?"

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Working on Brave

Klee is pretty nervous when it comes to new places but once she settles in she's a typical full tilt puppy - ready for play and tearing around. Since she is now completely comfortable at our house I decided to stretch her horizons a bit.

She needed to visit the vet to have her microchip inserted. I thought that might be all she was up for and I'd give her something yummy to chew on for the ride home but after the vet she seemed in good spirits so we drove to my work, a natural pet store, so she could explore.

The parking lot was pretty worrisome so we took it slow and she set the pace. It took a couple minutes to get inside, but that's okay. Inside she continued to be a bit worried but perked right up when she saw my co-worker who she had never met, Mia, and tore over to her for some attention. After that her tail started to come up a bit and she proceeded to give the store a sniff down.

"Do you think this is a good color on me?"

So many good things to sniff! Duck feet, lamb ears, cow hooves, alligator bones, bully sticks in every shape and size... And then all the bags of food and the best - CAT TOYS! So many feathers waiting to be destroyed.

Feet, and ears and hooves, OH MY!

Klee picked out a 12" braided bully stick

But instead she got a 4" bully spring - better size for a 9 pound puppy

I think what she was most interested in was the store cat, Sorcha. They stood twenty paces apart and proceeded to have a stare down and very little would distract either of them. I could tell that given the chance Klee would definitely chase a kitty and even when she was a bit nervous, she could not let the cat thing go. Sounds like a kitty in her future home may not be a good idea. After about 10 minutes we made our purchases - a lamb ear and a small bully spring for the drive home. Nice work, Klee!

Standing at alert and ready to chase that evil store cat, Sorcha!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Trinity of Dogdom

I talked about the importance of full disclosure to adopters in the Honesty post, and now I want to talk about the things that can't be disclosed because they can't be know until the dog is in the home with the adopter.  We can make good guesses as to how a dog will behave in a new setting with new people but it is still not a sure thing.

Klee (front) is a completely different dog when she is with other dogs. As an only dog she has much less confidence and is less willing to try new things.

So while I will rant on about shelters/rescuers lying or withholding information from adopters, I equally rant about adopters who have pre-set expectations of a dog and then blame the dog (or often the shelter/rescue) when the dog is different than they expected.

One of the many great ideas talked about at the Sue Sternberg lecture I attended is that a dog's behavior/personality can be divided into 3 parts - kind of a holy trinity of Dogdom. There is the dog themselves - an amalgam of genetics and experiences. That part is clear to all of us. But there are two other parts that make up the dog we see in front of us and that is the environment they exist in and the humans who exist in that environment with them.

When you change the environment and the people, the behaviors that you see in a dog will also change. An energetic, smart, driven dog can become a bossy, pushy, aggressive dog when put in a home with quiet, inactive people in a small apartment. A skittish shut down dog avoiding human attention in the shelter will likely be very different when relaxed in a home setting with regular human interaction.

I have had foster dogs at my home who really struggled and I had to work on lots of behavior issues with them and then they were adopted and became much easier dogs. That is because the environment was a better fit. And sadly I've also seen the opposite - an easy foster dog who was not so easy once moved to their adoptive home.

Please don't read this post as me saying there is a perfect home and person for every dog. That's not what I am saying. Just realize that you as the human and your lifestyle, schedule, activities, what you are feeding your dog, when you are feeding them..... ALL those things are part of who your dog is. If we truly want to be our dog's best friend we will stop blaming everything on the dog and start to look at ourselves and see if there are changes that we could be making that will help our dog be more successful.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Honesty: Always the best policy in shelter/rescue

I work at a small independent natural pet food store and while mostly I'm just teaching people about better nutritional options for their dogs and cats, there are some great opportunities for educating people about behavioral issues that their dogs are having, or helping new pet owners to set their new dog up for success behaviorally.

Recently I met a young woman who came in to the store to check out our food, harnesses, etc. because she was about to drive down to Oregon to meet a shelter dog she was interested in adopting. She was looking for a smart active energetic dog who could keep up with her active life full of outdoor activities. She had experience with Cattle Dogs (the breed she was looking at) and also obviously had some experience with positive training. We talked a bit about rescue dogs, and I suggested she ask a lot of questions at the shelter and gave some tips on evaluation. She had the skill set to take on a lot of stuff but knew that the one thing she did not want to work with was reactivity/aggression to other dogs since her life included so much outdoor time and she wanted her dog to be an active participant - running, playing, hiking and enjoying the Pacific Northwest. She was waaaaay more thoughtful than most people are when they embark on choosing a dog.

Today at work she came back in with her boyfriend and the dog. Immediately I could tell something was off by the look in her face. She came up to me and said that one of my coworkers had suggested she talk to me about some behavioral issues she was seeing in her new dog. It ends up that the dog she adopted was a complete love with people but was highly reactive to other dogs and also a lot of sounds. So far no pattern to the reactivity was determined and she had only had the dog one week.

And here's where I get so angry! Not at her but at the shelter people (and you can replace shelter with "rescue" because plenty of rescues do this too). So she did the right thing, asked the right questions and was assured that this dog was fine with other dogs on and off leash. They completed the adoption process, paid the fee, and then AFTER that happened the shelter person dropped a few comments about some behaviors she had seen. They were serious red flags.

After getting home and seeing this reactivity getting worse as time went on, she started seeking help - reading about B.A.T. protocol for reactive dogs, talking with training centers. She was overwhelmed but determined to try her best. She called the shelter back, explained what she was seeing and was told that the reactivity she was seeing was her fault because she wasn't enough of a leader to the dog. Their suggestion - squirt the dog in the face with bitter apple spray when the dog reacted to another dog. Sigh.

So there are so many things wrong with this situation and so many things that make me frustrated with the shelter. I'm not saying this adopter is absolutely perfect - nobody is - but I would adopt one of my fosters to her any day. She's a pretty stellar adopter - the kind I wish I could clone.

My rant is that no person who is in the business of animal welfare should knowingly mislead an adopter. Not just for the one instance where they have lied to a person and set both the dog and the human up for a rocky beginning, but for a bigger picture reason as well. In getting that one dog into a home, the shelter person very well may have ruined that person's opinion toward shelter and rescue dogs for life. They may never opt to adopt in the future. On top of that, if the experience was especially bad you can be sure they will spread the word far and wide about how difficult the situation was, possibly changing other people's willingness to look at a shelter/rescue dog. Our actions never exist in a vacuum.

And so I ended up at the counter at work, with this poor woman who wanted to do the right thing and was full of regret and guilt for all she was feeling - second guessing everything she was doing and thinking she was the reason for things getting worse. We talked a lot about things to try, good trainers she should look into, books to read and You Tube videos to watch (all the videos she had already watched - I'm telling you - stellar adopter!) And then I said the only thing left I could say. "This is not your fault. You're doing an amazing job and I am so, so sorry this is happening to you."  And then she was crying and I was crying because it all was just so wrong and there was no way to fix the heartbreak in this situation.

So if you are involved in animal welfare and there is a dog you badly want adopted, don't ever mislead someone and get them to adopt a dog who has issues they've said they really don't feel willing to deal with. Not only will you do that person and the dog an injustice, but who knows how many people you may just have ended up turning away from future rescue dogs due to the one negative experience that you have set into motion.