Monday, September 29, 2014

Cone Redux

When Tuttle was neutered and had his rear dew claws removed last Sunday we were told to come back in a week and he could get his stitches removed. Following that surgery a week battling the cone took place: Tuttle battling the cone and me battling Tuttle to keep a cone on him.

One of his old cones that did not work well for him
It was wet and gross outside so we had been daily rewrapping his paws and he was wearing his cone 24/7. However, he quickly figured out that his body was long enough that he could wrap himself around and still get his rear foot in his mouth - cone be damned!

I tried tying the cone on so it was higher on his neck and also using a donut cone in tandem with the plastic one to keep the cone higher. The problem is that the longer the cone, the wider the neck. So for a pinheaded little Rat Terrier with a tiny neck and a long snout, the cones are next to worthless.

Yesterday we were back at the vet for the 1 week recheck and as I suspected, he had bugged the incisions enough that they were starting to get a bit infected. Instead of getting his stitches out he instead needs to wear his cone another 5 days, and take 10 days of Clavamox to get rid of the infection. The vet techs, who absolutely adore this little maniac, found a cone that was a bit longer and more flexible at the neck. They then showed me how to do a "cat harness tie" using gauze to tie the cone around the neck and then around the body behind the shoulders. Tuttle was not impressed.

His new cone setup. So far this is working.

So we are heading into week two of the cone. The other dogs are really looking forward to a cone-free Tuttle since he likes to run up to them for a butt sniff and then ends up jabbing them with his cone.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunny Saturday

It's that time of year in the Pacific Northwest where panic starts to set it. Each time there is a clear sunny day we start to panic that it might be the last one until late Spring. Because of that there is almost a maniacal need to be outside every moment the sky is clear.

Yesterday was one of those days - beautiful, clear, and temps in the low 70's. So the dogs and I were out enjoying the great weather and working in the yard - me doing a bit of weeding and them continuing to develop their master plan to oust some rodent who has moved in under the shed. They are frustrated that I nixed their "dig it out" idea.

Pictures below are of some sunbathing the dogs were doing. Tuttle found that too boring so kept himself busy exploring.
Salinas, Tilly and Frodo enjoyed sunning on the bench beneath the bamboo while Chima chose the deck

Tuttle thinks sunning is boring so instead inspected the fountain

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chima's Journey: A Reflection on Progress

We live in a world that is always about that next step, focusing on future goals. I'm not saying that's a completely awful thing, but I think that often we forget to reflect on our progress.

Over the years I've worked with many dogs who had a long journey to get to a place where they were comfortable living in the human world. I learned to not focus on the dogs' struggles or their history, or even more importantly, not to compare them to a static "end goal" that I had created for them. Instead we learned to just live in that moment of learning - on the tiny baby step we were working on - and in that way I was regularly reinforced by the tiny pieces of progress that we made.

Unfortunately many of us forget to pause and celebrate the overall progress that has been made. After all, 100 baby steps adds up to a lot of progress. Last week I had a reminder to stop and celebrate a whole mess of baby steps that have added up to a pretty amazing dog.

Last Thursday Chima and I had a lot on our to-do list: a vet visit, followed by a trip to the pet store to pick up some supplements followed by our evening Nose Work class.

Chima has always been hypersensitive to touch and to people she doesn't have a long history with so we've worked long and hard to make our nail trims at the vet a positive experience. As the tech clipped her nails she said, "man, it's amazing how relaxed Chima is now during trims." I smiled, agreed with her and really didn't think much more about it.

After the vet visit we loaded into the car for our stop at Mud Bay, a natural pet food store, to pick up some supplements. Chima stood cautiously in the entryway as three well meaning clerks descended on us with treats. Chima slowly walked up to each of them, gave them a quick sniffdown, gently took the treat from their fingers and then walked around the store with me on a loose leash sniffing all the bulk bins and behaving herself like she's never had a naughty thought in her life.

Then it was home to unload the car and get reloaded to drive the 40 minute drive over to our Nose Work class. Chima rocked the class, prancing as she quickly found the hides, and after each search, walking up to participants and giving them a quick sniff (or licking their pocket if they had particularly great treats.)

On the drive home I had 40 minutes to think about our day together and realized that while this might be a normal day for some dogs, for Chima this was amazing. For a dog who started out semi-feral this was like an Olympic gold medal for being a domestic pet dog. I needed to value how amazing her accomplishments were, even though those accomplishments had become the norm.

So I looked back at some of the posts (Stupendously Wonderful Baby Steps and Touchdown)  that I did about Chima soon after she arrived in our home. It amazed me how far she has come - from not wanting to be on the couch if another person is there, to doing her best to always claim the spot closest to me if I am on the couch, even if that means sitting on top of Salinas. We went from dreaming that one day she would want to sit on my lap to now, complaining because she crowds us so much.

So stick with it. One day all those baby steps will add up to some great progress.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Battle of the Bone

Tuttle loves to chew on the bones we have mixed in with the dog toys in the dogs' toy basket. Because he's wearing a cone most of the time right now it's rather difficult for him to keep the bone from rolling away and one time I saw him use the cone to scoop it up and carry it across the room.

He had some cone-free time earlier and he made sure to spend some of it chewing on his favorite bone. But later the cone went back on and much cuteness ensued as he attempted to get control of the bone.

Nom, nom, nom

Sentries Chima and Salinas wait stoically for Tuttle to grow tired of the bone

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Photo Shoot

Tuttle is very much a puppy so he doesn't stop moving much. It's been making getting photographs of him pretty difficult. All I have been getting is a bunch of brown blurs as he races through the frame.

So I took advantage of the fact that after his neuter and dew claw removal he was on pain meds that were slowing him down to about an adult dog speed. It was a very short window so I'm glad that I got the photos when I did so I had something to put up on the adoption Websites other than a blur.

Honestly, the drugs didn't slow him down much but he did stop occasionally for a breather and at least wasn't doing zoomies. This boy is still very much a pup and while he is busy, he definitely keeps us all laughing.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tuttle: Extra Baggage

Tuttle was off to the vet Sunday morning to lose a few little extras that he no longer had need of. I always like to get that neuter surgery done right away, especially in the teenaged dogs, since life is so much easier with a testicle free dog. Along with being neutered Tuttle is also having his rear dew claws removed. They are floppy and set at a weird angle so they could easily catch and tear on things.

Tuttle's funky rear dew claws

He was pretty nervous when I dropped him off - poor boy just got here - and very happy when I returned later in the afternoon to pick him up. After napping to sleep off the anesthesia he was ready to go again and ready for his cone to go as well. Too bad, so sad little guy. Thanks to those rear paw wraps you need to keep it on for awhile.

A wobbly Tuttle still figuring out how to move around and sniff while he is coned

The girls were very interested in his paw wraps. In fact I think Sal would have chewed them off for him if he had stopped moving long enough.

Frodo gets in on checking out the paw wraps while Tuttle is distracted

Butt sniff attempted with cone: Chima wasn't amused

After walking around a bit he wore himself out again. In fact I think the poor guy is sore, in spite of the pain meds so he got some snuggle time next to foster sister Chima who was very accommodating with this slower, calmer version of Tuttle.

Chima likes the coned version of Tuttle

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tuttle Arrives

Tuttle has arrived and he is a wiggly, sweet and sassy little guy who loves to tear around. We are still learning more about him but so far we know he loves to chase after things and his favorite thing seems to be chasing after Frodo so we are making sure that Frodo gets a break from him. It's a game to Tuttle but old Frodo is a bit overwhelmed.

Bath time wasn't his favorite but he tolerated it well

Tuttle loves to play and wrestle and since none of the dogs at our house really like to play he has kept himself busy throwing toys for himself and chasing after them. He learned his lesson that when a grown up dog lets you know politely that they don't want to play, muzzle punching them to get them to change their mind isn't a great course of action. That was lesson number 1 from Chima. She was very tolerant and the first time he did it she merely curled her lip but when he didn't listen to that she opened her mouth wide and dang near roared. She didn't move and didn't even bother to look at him but he got what she was saying loud and clear "THAT IS ENOUGH, YOUNG MAN!" He jumped back and left her alone for a whole minute before he tried again.

Checking out the handsome dude in the mirror

I'm guessing as he learns to take it down a notch and Chima gets to know him a little better that they will actually enjoy playing together since they both like to play loud and rough. We'll take introductions slow though so he doesn't irritate the big kids too much and once they are used to him then they'll get more free time together.

All cleaned up and ready to play

Saturday, September 20, 2014

When to Bend

Most of us have had the idea driven into our brains that we are the bosses in our relationship with our dogs. In this mindset the dog is the lesser creature and does all the adjusting to live in our world. I think though that there is a difference in being "the boss" and being a leader. And a good leader understands that compromise is not a sign of weakness.

Chima, Salinas and Frodo

Why am I rambling on about this? Yesterday I was down on the ground playing with the dogs and I realized how different my interactions were with each dog. Salinas got snuggles and even semi-confining hugs. I flopped on top of her, in a mini-pin that she could easily escape and she was in heaven. Salinas craves touch and so my interactions with her include tons of it. My elderly dog Tilly is like this as well.

Frodo though is about action. He wants to be chasing and darting around with pets in between as long as they aren't grabby. Tug and fetch and growling at each other is how we interact. I talk a lot at Frodo and he talks back. A lot.

Finally we have Chima who finds touch aversive. She's doesn't seem to find it scary but she just doesn't enjoy it and her skin will shudder a bit with each pet. So Chima and I found a way to interact that is comfortable to both of us. No hands are used - just heads. When I make a smoochy noise at her she will come and touch noses. We will headbutt each other, I'll rub my cheek on hers and she'll reciprocate. Often she'll get playful and she might invite me to some wrestling time with her.

Had I insisted on petting her as my way of interacting she wouldn't have snapped at me or completely avoided me. But our relationship would not be nearly as close as it is with me respecting her need for hands free interaction. It now has a depth and a playfulness I never thought possible when I first met this rather aloof, regal girl.

Had I been rigid about a goal of getting Chima to the point where she wanted tons of petting, I probably would have failed and both Chima and I would be frustrated with each other. I could have gotten her to the point where she would tolerate it but just tolerating one's life is a pretty sad way to live. Kind of like an introvert forced to work in a job where they are constantly working with people - it can be done but it takes its toll.

So consider making a few compromises in your interactions with your dog. If we expect them to be respectful of us, we really should reciprocate. And amazing things can happen in a relationship built on mutual respect.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rescue Railroad: 2 New Dogs Arriving in Washington Foster Homes

Along with our new boy Tuttle, there is another young guy arriving in foster care this weekend. A big welcome to 9 month old Spencer! Spencer is a playful, handsome young guy who weighs about 11 pounds. We don't know a whole lot about him yet so follow the Tuesday weekly updates on the New Rattitude - Washington State Facebook page to learn more.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Introducing Tuttle!

Our next foster dog will be arriving this weekend and we can't wait to meet him. Tuttle is about a year old and the best guess for his weight is about 12 pounds. He's a short little guy who's all terrier and ready to play! Should be a fun little guy. Stay tuned for more information as we get to know him.

Tuttle was named for another favorite artist of mine, Richard Tuttle, Tuttle is an American Postminimalist who works in a wide range of media including sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, textiles, installations and furniture. He has been very influential to an entire generation of contemporary artists.

Richard Tuttle
 'Village I, Sculpture I', 2004

'Red Canvas', 1967

'Stacked Color Drawing, no 1', 1971

'Light and Color', 2011

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pupdate: Hartley

We got a great update on little Hartley, adopted earlier in this year. She's doing wonderfully and loving her life with her new family. Enjoy these photos...
She absolutely loves to play fetch

And she's learned to pick her own blackberries - even learned to just pick ripe ones!

Kicking back on the couch

A cute, goofy face

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rothko's Adopted!

Rothko's adopted and I couldn't be happier with the family he has found. He'll be moving up to North Vancouver, British Columbia and will get to spend almost 100% of his time with his parents, which he will absolutely love.

His family owns a music studio so Rothko will be a studio dog with a life full of music and he will even get to join in on some recordings himself. Since his new parents are musicians, they've decided to name him Django after the famous jazz guitarist, Django Reinhardt. And check it out! His mom already did this cool painting of him.

Django Reinhardt

We know that Django has a happy life full of love ahead of him - a great future for this sweetest of bouncy boys!

Friday, September 5, 2014

King Goofball

Rothko jumped into the hammock with me while I was listening to a podcast

Rothko likes to be up where the people are or perched where he can see them and this leads to some funny poses. If I could use one word to describe him it would be goofball. Bellyrubs are his nirvana so he regularly uses his flailing feet to push the other dogs out of his way and flops over on his back next to whomever is on the couch to ask for belly-time.

Working on getting some attention

Chima and Salinas are tolerating his spazziness but I can't blame them for snarling when he kicks them full on in the face as he squirms around trying to get the spot on the couch closest to the person. Silly boy and very patient girls.

No humans were sitting down so he sat up on the hearth where he had a good view of everyone.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Trip to the Vet

Rothko does this weird thing where when he runs fast he lifts up his rear right leg. After having Maile with her knee issues I was a bit panicked so I made an appointment to have his knees and hips checked out at the vet.
In the reception area, waiting to be called back

As with all new things Rothko was a bit concerned but willing to trust that I had his back. He sat between my legs as we waited to be called in and then later sat in the chair next to me. It was very cute.

Checking in with me to make sure I'm still there and everything is cool

Dr. Joe checked him out and Rothko's knees were nice and solid with equal muscle mass in both legs (meaning he wasn't tending to favor one leg enough for it to get built up larger than the one he was lifting). Because it's obvious that Rothko has lived pretty rough (he's missing the tip of one ear and has lots of little scars on his face) and because he tends to sit "side saddle" Dr. Joe wanted to check out his hips with an x-ray for any healed fractures that might be causing a structural issue. The x-ray looked wonderful - no signs of former fractures, nice straight spine, all just how it should look.

In the exam room, doing more waiting for the doctor to arrive

So Mr. R was cleared for full exercise as Dr. Joe can see no reason for the leg pulling up.  One thing that dogs from Central CA will regularly do when they get to wet Washington is walk with three legs on the wet grass, as if they want to have as few body parts touching the grass as possible. Salinas still occasionally does this so I have to wonder if that might be what is going on.

Puppy the clinic dog knows me well thanks to all my foster dog visits and always sits in the waiting area with me since she knows I always have a treat pouch full of kickass treats. Cutest clinic employee there!

Regardless, he has a clean bill of health, weighs 17.3 pounds and Dr. Joe guessed him at closer to 3 years than 2 like the shelter had guessed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rothko Out and About

I decided to take Mr. Rothko out for a leash walk to see how his leash skills were. While I know that it sounds like I'm gushing, this guy blew me away. I'm used to most new fosters either being terrified of the leash and flipping around in a panic, or turning into sled dogs and charging ahead and pulling the entire walk.

Rothko did neither and he managed things like a pro. I still don't think he's had any training,  but I think his leash skill comes from his desire to stick with his people and how he likes to regularly check in to see what they are doing.

Taking a 30 minute walk with a new foster dog can really give me a feel for a dog and what I took away from this walk is that Rothko is a very resilient dog. Walking in a Pacific Northwest neighborhood on a sunny weekend day means that you are going to see lots of people and dogs out in their yards. We only get so many sunny days here so it's almost sacrilege to not spend them outside. In the following video we walked past the fenced back yard of a Golden Retriever who regularly makes a fuss about dogs and people walking on the sidewalk by his house. Today was no different and Rothko did stop to take in the situation but after checking in with me and being reassured he was back on his way - no barking or high stress behaviors and able to happily take a treat given to reinforce his great behavior.

About a mile into the walk we went past a house with a small fluffy dog in the window completely freaking out about us walking by. We are talking a conniption fit of the intensity only usually seen in my dog Frodo. Again Rothko paused and looked at the dog quietly, looked at me, and then started walking again. Amazing!

Other scary or startling things we encountered over the 2 miles we walked: a car starting up loudly right as we passed the driveway, a guy using a Weed-eater in his front yard about 10 feet from us, and even a guy working on his deck with a nail gun that made Rothko stop a bit nervously but then quickly start up again without any barking.

Good dog, Rothko. While he's not perfect, he's a darn good dog!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rothko meet the pack

Rothko did a great job meeting some of the grumpier members of our pack. His happy go lucky nature seems to put them at ease however, his joy of tearing around seems to irritate Chima and Tilly a bit.
Rothko and Frodo having a pee-off when they first met.

Meeting Salinas

Salinas decided to observe him from a distance

He loves people and likes to check in regularly to see what I'm doing