Monday, December 21, 2015

Harrison is Adopted!

We are happy to announce that our goofy boy Harrison has found a home! He'll be moving to Shoreline, Washington and will have a high energy Jack Russell brother and a laid back Rat Terrier sister. His brother loves to wrestle and play and he and Harrison played non-stop at the home visit.

His new mom is retired and loves to take walks with her dogs and is excited to add more terrier personality to her household. She will get her money's worth with Harrison. He has a double dose of personality!

One last funny Harrison video - this is a little dark but very cute. It shows him playing under the couch. That black string looking thing in the video is all that remains of the Tuffy Octopus he got when he first arrived back in October but he still loves it.

We already know who our next foster will be and he will arrive at our house on January 10th. Stay tuned for his introduction...

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Hangin' with Harrison

As a pet sitter, this time of year is the busiest for me. Because of that the blog posts don't happen that often since they get pushed to the bottom of the priority list.

So what has Harrison been up to since I last posted?

When he's outside he's been busy terrorizing the neighborhood squirrel population and running (and hurdling) in the back yard.

He also accidently locked me out of the house when I was outside with Tilly and the dogs were inside watching us through the sliding glass door. Whoops!

Inside the house he's had fun "killing" new toys, including some that don't really belong to him. But hey, at this house if you snooze you lose. Other indoor adventures included trying to eat a votive candle which smelled a lot like food.

And he has also been spending time under the couch, searching for toys that might have rolled under there, or even taking a Nylabone under there to chew on where he won't be disturbed by other dogs. He also likes to snuggle with people and/or dogs on the couch after he's had time to burn off some of his energy.

And as always he spends a lot of time being just plain adorable.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Harrison and the puzzles: The Green

For our latest trial, Harrison ate his dinner using The Green, a unique slow feeder bowl that the dog needs to use their tongue and paws to move the kibble to the side of the bowl where they can eat it. 

I think this was our messiest puzzle yet - food was flinging everywhere! But he sure loved it. Unlike my dogs he tended to use his tongue to get the food instead of his paws. Maybe because his big feet don't fit between the blades?

He loved it though we'll definitely be using this one again in the future. I love that it is dishwasher safe too. Because of that and the shape of the bottom, you can even feed wet food in this one. Just be sure to place it on an easy to clean surface if you do though. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Harrison and the Puzzles: The Wobblers

Harrison and I moved onto our next puzzle last night. At first I was just going to use the JW Treat Tower. However, I found out that with the size of kibble that I have it just fell out as I tried to load it. And that was adjusting the hole to its smallest size. It's made for a more average size kibble and it's not made to hold the volume of kibble that Harrison eats. It would be great for a 10# dog but not so much for a 30# dog.

So I just went to the closet and grabbed a 2nd wobbler style toy: the Busy Buddy Magic Mushroom. This one is my very favorite of all the wobblers that I have and I think I have about 4 types. What is great about it is it's easy to load and the holes that the kibble come out of are adjustable. You can also load a full meal in it easily. But the very best thing about it is that it requires a bit more thinking than your basic wobbler. You don't just roll it around and collect the kibble as it falls out. The mushroom has to be fully turned up on the cap end for the kibble to really come out in any volume. But then they have to roll it back over to be able to get the kibble out of the mushroom cap. The longer they play, you can start to see them figuring out how to increase the kibble and they stay pretty fascinated.

Harrison worked on the Treat Tower for a bit initially but tons of kibble came out if his nose even touched it. He quickly emptied that out and then moved on to the Magic Mushroom.

It was really fun watching him with the mushroom. I loved seeing him puzzle through the problem - looking at all the kibble in there and wondering how to get it out.

At one point I had to stop the game for a bit and take Frodo downstairs. By him being able to see what was going on, it set both him and Harrison up to engage in behaviors that I don't want to see - Frodo barking, whining and trying to steal food by sticking paws through the expen, and then Harrison snapping at him (resource guarding) for trying to steal his cool toy. I find it's always easier to change the environment a bit instead of trying to get them to change a behavior that comes naturally in a certain setting - in this case the setting being a dog on each side of a gate.

After that Harrison was back at it. Enjoying his dinner for a full ten minutes as he worked the puzzles. Stayed tuned for our next puzzle test...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Delivery Boy

We are always looking for new and interesting experiences for Harrison so when I left this morning to meet the dog food co-op delivery truck for my order I took Harrison along. 

Heading out on our adventure

I love taking foster dogs to deliveries because there are usually 10-12 people there waiting and I'm guaranteed that all of them are going to love dogs and not mind getting jumped on or licked. There are also sometimes a few dogs around so it is a great chance to see how a foster reacts to unknown dogs with pretty tolerant people. And finally, the meeting spot is a huge parking lot next to the mall that is mostly empty so a nice setting for practicing attention, leash walking, etc. 

Not too sure about the parking lot

Harrison was somewhat leery of the big parking lot at first and was doing a lot of shake offs but after a few minutes he relaxed and started to enjoy sniffing along the grow strips and peeing on trees. There are buildings everywhere - Toys R Us, Petco, Joanns - so he had a lot to take in. It was a perfect time to practice check ins. 

It's always nice to be able to get your dogs' attention when they are feeling overwhelmed or excited. Sometimes when Harrison is excited he will pull around on his leash and rarely looks at me or lets the leash slack up. We had lots of time since we arrived so early so I started clicking/treating him each time he happened to look at me. Pretty soon he was regularly checking in. Yay! The goal is to play this game often enough that checking in becomes a default behavior. He also was reinforced for looking at me when I called his name. It seems simple but Harrison is a teenage dog and he tends to turn off his ears when he's goofing around. Again, I want to build up a default behavior that when someone calls his name he offers them his attention.

A truck full of raw meat, bones and chews - what could be better!

Then the truck arrived and all the people got out of their cars to get their stuff. Harrison was in heaven. Man does he love people. He greets everyone as if they are a long lost friend and everyone greeted him back the same way. His exuberance is pretty contagious. 

Then it was back in the car for the ride home but the good news is I had picked up a big box of compressed rawhide bones and bully sticks so he had something to chew on for the boring drive home.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Harrison and the puzzles: The Drop

Harrison is a dog who loves to run and leap and bounce but thanks to his fractured fibula we need to do our best to help him keep all four feet on the ground. That means we're rotating toys daily so he always has a "brand new toy!" even if it is an old one covered in slobber that he just hasn't seen for a week.

Another time that there's a great opportunity to engage his brain is at meal times. I have a big bin full of food puzzles so tonight I figured I'd start working my way through the bin to keep things new and interesting for him.

While the excitement of this new thing loaded with his dinner kibble had him jogging around the bowl, he wasn't leaping from couch to coffee table to chair like he tends to do when he's bored. And it's the jumping that we really need to curb.

The puzzle he tried is called The Drop Slo-Bowl and he did great. Because he's underweight and also a big boy he gets a lot of kibble at each meal so this kept him busy for over 5 minutes. Pretty good considering he usually finishes it in under a minute.

You can see Frodo quickly finishes his dinner and really, really wants to come in have a turn.

Next we are going to try the JW Treat Tower. It's a newer puzzle and one that I've owned for awhile and never tried so we'll see how he likes it. Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Many things in this house are threadbare right now: the collar, belly band, and harness that Harrison chewed through, my patience and sanity...

The reason for this is that Harrison is a dog who was born to move. To be happy he needs room to run, leap, hop, bounce, and especially room to pee. Unfortunately because of his fractured fibula, he can do none of those things and he is bored and stir crazy. He has also basically "un-housetrained" himself in a matter of days. In fact, I just had to stop writing this because standing just 3 feet away from me he started to lift his leg - right after a trip outside to pee.

We need help. Not the kind found in a shot glass (which is something else he managed to break, by  the way) but Harrison needs distractions and something to keep his brain and mouth busy.

Along with several short walks to at least get him out emptying his bladder more often I am also adding some frozen Kongs for him. He doesn't last long crated and I need for him to tolerate at least 3-4 hours crated while I work.

Harrison sneaks a lick of the Kongs and bone, all ready to go in the freezer.

Bannanas, kibble and peanut butter and Honest Kitchen with ground rabbit

Tonight I stuffed 4 kongs and a bone with peanut butter, bananas, kibble and a couple with some Honest Kitchen and kibble. They are freezing and tomorrow when I leave for work he'll get his first one. Wish us luck because without some kind of luck there is no way we are going to last the 2-3 weeks of leash time the vet wants.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Harrison Goes to the Vet Clinic

Harrison still wasn't fully using his rear left leg so I called the vet and was able to get him in right away due to there being a last minute cancellation.

"Let's go back to the car!"

As always Harrison was a friendly boy, interested in exploring every corner of the office and happy to meet any humans or animals that came through the door.

Waiting for his exam

My vet, Dr. Sperlich, examined his leg and his hip and knee are solid. After x-rays and the exam though, a hairline fracture was found at the base of his fibula (right above the ankle.) Major tendons and ligaments seem intact and that is amazing news since I was worried that he might need orthopedic surgery to repair the complex ankle area.

Keeping the joint more stable

So he came home with an anti-inflammatory, a pain killer and a wrapped ankle. He needs to keep the ankle wrapped for the next week so that means he will also be wearing a cone since he was trying to chew off the wrap as soon as the doctor was done with him.

Back in the car and heading home

He's still getting the hang of the cone. At first his head dropped to the floor as if we'd tied a heavy weight to his head and when he walked he flung his leg around trying to shake the wrap off. It would have been amusing if I didn't feel so bad for him - he was clearly anxious about the wrap and cone. He's getting used to it now though and other than occasionally getting stuck on things he's doing well.

He's so bummed that he can't chase squirrels. Chasing squirrels is what caused this problem.

Resting up at home

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Too Much Bouncing

Harrison does not walk to get from place to place. He bounces, leaps off of things and pretty much looks like he is always doing parkour. From the floor to the back of the couch to the coffee table over to the armchair... He loves to move and thanks to his crazy long legs he can leap to just about anywhere. Combine that with his love of zooming around the back yard and leaping of our 2 foot rock wall at full speed and he has somehow injured his right rear leg.

Harrison, getting some lap time while he rests his ankle

At first he was holding it really high and now after a day of rest he is using it but mostly just to balance himself when standing or walking. Because he seems to be getting better fairly rapidly I am making him rest, limiting his running and jumping and watching him closely. Since running and jumping is how Harrison normally moves through space this is not easy on either of us. And since he has to be on leash when outside it's not going to be fun tomorrow when the predicted rain and windstorm hits us.

He is mostly managing his leash time well but most feels the pain of restraint when Chima and Sal are zipping around the yard hunting critters and he desperately wants to join in, crashing through shrubs and leaping off walls. Here's to hoping that his leg heals with miraculous speed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Couch Time with Harrison

Harrison learned a trick from Lizzy - you can find lots of toys under the couch and you can also hide under there so you don't have to share.

While I would have thought that he was too big to fit under there, he managed to squeeze himself under there just fine.

Of course, he likes stretching out on top of the couch as well.

Chima, Harrison and Lizzy

Chima and Harrison 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Lizzy's Adopted!

Lizzy found a great family! While I will miss her rat hunting skills I'm so happy she'll be heading to a home where she'll be a true part of the family.

Little Miss came to us in July this summer and I was a little surprised that it took so long to find a good fit. I think the issue is that so many people applied for her based solely on her looks and without an understanding that there is more to a terrier than cuteness. While Lizzy isn't a difficult girl, she's a true hunter, energetic, and very smart. She isn't a dog who can sit around in the house all day and then sit with her human on the couch all night.

At her new home she'll get to go to work with dog regularly, has a 6 year old to help wear her out, a fully fenced large back yard, and a nearby grandma who is interested in spending time with her as well. They carefully weighed the decision of bringing Lizzy into their home and all members of the family were equal partners in the decision making process.

So I'm very happy that on Sunday sweet girl will be heading to her new home. We'll miss her joyful little prance but know that she'll be moving on to a home where she'll be loved and cherished. The one who won't be happy to see her go is Harrison, who will miss his wrestling/bitey face partner.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Deadly Miss L

Lizzy has done it again and this time I saw the whole thing go down. The dogs were all standing at the sliding door waiting to go out when I noticed a good sized rat at the base of a tree halfway across the yard. I opened the door, hoping that one of the 5 dogs shooting into the yard would actually catch it instead of the normal 3 Stooges type of routine that often happens. Four of the dogs headed for the tree but Lizzy was smart and shot across the lawn to cut off the rat before it could get to the fence.

The ill fated prey. 

She shook it against the fence and then took her victory lap around the yard with the other dogs all on her heels, hoping for a piece of the prize. Her and Harrison played tug for a bit but once they realized it was dead all the fun went out of it and they stood around nonchalantly, not super interested but also not ready to let Sal and Chima move in for the steal.

Lizzy, Queen of the kill

Lizzy is a very good ratter. She is fast, quiet and calculating when she hunts and happily unlike Chima and Salinas she isn't interested in eating her catches once she kills them.

Inspecting the rat with Harrison. Both seemed a bit disappointed that it was dead. 

So good work, Lizzy. Because we have 2 neighbors with tons of crap in their back yard, long grass and big brush piles we are in need of a dog who actually catches the rats instead of trying to yell them them to death.

It does look like she got a small nip on her snout - not sure if it was from the rat or from one of the other dogs during the frenzy - but we cleaned and disinfected the cut and will keep an eye on it.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Ins and Outs of Being a House Dog

People often assume that dogs somehow know what they can chew, where they can stand, where they can pee, what is considered "dog food"...  And while we know in our heads that dogs aren't born knowing there is a distinction between  a Nylabone chew toy and a TV remote control, when the remote control gets chewed to bits we get mad at the dog thinking they should know better.

Eventually, they will know your rules but when a dog is new to you and your house they need to be taught those house rules, even if they lived in a house before. Just because they knew not to chew the remote control in their former house does not mean they will be able to generalize and assume your remote control is also off limits.

Harrison working on a Nylabone

I think the most common cause for initial problems when people bring a new dog into their home is there isn't enough supervision and then when the dog does something they don't like they are frustrated with the dog. The high level of supervision (consider it like watching a toddler) doesn't have to last very long if it's consistent up front and you spend time teaching the dog (in a positive manner) what your expectations are.  And remember - you need to provide an alternative. If you don't want the dog to pee in the house that means more trips outside and big reinforcements when they go outside. If you don't want them chewing on the couch you have to have a bunch of fun alternatives available for them so you can redirect unwanted chewing onto a toy that is much more fun. Just wanting the dog not to chew at all isn't an option.

Kicking back with a favorite toy of his that he was redirected to when he tried to chew on a couch cushion

So when I have a new foster dog in the house, the first few weeks are a bit exhausting. Especially with a dog like Harrison who has never lived in a house before. Lessons he's learning this week? Dogs don't get to stand on dining room tables. No lifting of the leg in the house, only outside. Couch cushions are not for chewing but all these great toys in the corner basket are fair game. Blankets and shoes also need to stay out of the mouth. And when Lizzy has a toy that you really want, peeing on the pile of toys you two have been picking things out from is not an okay method of laying claim.

Harrison is a silly, goofy, smart, and very bouncy boy and I'm sure he'll learn quickly. He's already learned not to mark in the house and no longer has to wear the uncomfortable belly bands as long as I'm right there with him. Good boy, Harrison!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bath Time

One of the first things that happens after a dog arrives is they get a bath. This gets rid of any ticks and dirt that hitched a ride from California with the dog.

Checking himself out in the mirror before the bath - he thinks he looks plenty clean and we can skip the bath

Harrison is not a fan of baths. He is also 3 times bigger than most of the foster dogs I bath. Add to that the fact that he can leap amazing heights from a standing position and lets just say I got a little wet. Not just a little wet - wring out your pants and shirt wet. Wipe down the walls wet.

He's not a fan

Let's just hope we don't have to repeat that experience anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Loving Lizzy

I mentioned that Harrison is a big Lizzy fan. Like Lizzy, Harrison loves to run and play - makes sense since they are very close to the same age and both active kiddos. Yesterday and today it was Wrestlemania non-stop. Plenty of bitey face, wrestling on the couch and then chasing each other around the room.

After Lizzy got over Harrison's size (he weighs almost 3 times as much as she does) she realized that this was what she had been missing so much. Rough and tumble play, play, PLAY!

It's nice that they are able to wear each other out which makes for nice snuggly dogs in the evening who are happy to crash on the couch.

Of course, the rest of the dogs aren't real happy about all this rambunctious play. Especially Frodo and Chima who are both the fun police. In the video below Chima let's Harrison know what she thinks of him.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Meeting Harry

Harrison arrived Sunday afternoon and we started out his foster care adventure with introductions to the other dogs in the house.

We started with Lizzy because she is the most active and my guess was that they would be great pals. Lizzy can be fear reactive with unknown dogs who are larger than her so initially Harrison's size and intensity freaked her out and she was very growly and snappy with him. To help her relax we put Harry on a short leash so that he could be kept in one spot with limited leaping in the air. Lizzy, who was off leash was then free to move as far away from him as she needed to be to feel comfortable and could sneak in for butt sniffs to get to know him. I brought out a high value treat with me to so that they both had to divide their focus between each other and the yummy stuff in my treat bag. It also started an association for Lizzy that she gets paid well for being brave and meeting a new big dog. 

Lizzy cautiously approaches for a sniff, standing beneath me for some extra security

It took about 5 minutes of us standing in the rain and Lizzy carefully assessing Harrison and then she started throwing him play invitations. I don't think they've stopped playing since then.


With some dogs just meeting 1 new dog is exhausting and as much as they can handle but Harrison was doing well so one by one the other dogs came out and met him. Lizzy provided a good distraction because she kept trying to get him to play while the other dogs checked him out.

Frodo is less than impressed

Typically I would put the dog who just met the new dog inside before bring out out the next dog but Harrison clearly wasn't bothered by the intros so I let the other dogs stay outside.

Harrison gives Chima a sniff and she's decided to tolerate it

Chima sniffed him a couple times and then ignored him. Sal snapped when he got too rambunctious and let him know right away that she wasn't going to take any punk puppy bullshit from him. Frodo and him did the circuit of marking every shrub and blade of grass in the yard to show who was the man of the yard.

Sal feels much better having some distance between her and Harrison

It was really yucky weather for an intro but unless I planned on crating the poor guy 24/7, it had to be done so everyone could get along in the house. Meeting oustide is so much easier for the dogs because they feel like they have room to move away if their feeling stressed.