Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mr. Manners

Along with being house-trained. It seems as if at some point Mr. Rigby had some basic manners training. He has a good "sit", "down" and "stay" on a verbal cue. Good boy!



We needed some photos for his Petfinder bio and it was raining so we sat in the living room where we could get the best natural light and had a photo shoot. He did a great job but was happy when the whole thing was finally over with.

Handsome guy, isn't he?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fostering 101

After fostering for  many years now and having over 100 dogs go through our house, I've learned a lot and sadly much of it I learned the hard way. Note the photo below.

The first litter of pups I ever fostered (Rat Terrier/Mini Schnauzer mixes). Lesson learned: never leave toilet paper within reach of puppies. Second lesson learned: Never again volunteer to foster a litter of puppies

Recently, I've seen some stuff on FB from new foster parents that made me bite my tongue and I've seen some stuff from not so new foster parents that honestly startled me as well. I needed a spot where I could share some basics and hopefully save others (and their foster dogs) some headaches and heartaches. So I created a blog called Fostering 101. No posts up yet but I'll be posting tomorrow, first thing.

Some of it will be just basic skills stuff - tips on house training, the correct way to socialize a dog, dog to dog introductions.... And I know that occasionally there will be a rant thrown in so humor me on that (the term "foster failure" comes to mind). Some will be opinions, based on my experiences and some will be basic animal behavior stuff backed by science. Hopefully people will be able to use the information and maybe even get some dialog going on "best practices" when it comes to fostering.

Tilly was our 10th foster dog and was the first extremely under-socialized dog I worked with. It was a difficult journey but we taught each other a lot. 

I'll do my best to get at least one Fostering 101 post written each week. With work, my fostering duties, my regional coordinator duties for New Rattitude, and family it seems the blog is the first thing to get forgotten so we'll see how I do. Stay tuned...

Gut Issues: Cleaning things up and Getting Healthy

Luckily I haven't had to work with many foster dogs who had food sensitivities but in the past when I worked at a natural pet food store I helped many a customer get a plan in place for an elimination diet for their dog.

Mr. Rigby definitely has something going on related to food so we have started him on a single protein/single carb diet along with some supplements to see if we can get things under control.

I know the previous foster mom who temped Rigby for me in California said that when he arrived he was much worse and wouldn't stop chewing on himself because he itched so badly. She put him on a grain-free kibble and that almost completely ended the itching and the rash subsided quite a bit.

As you can see though, he still has a lot of redness so here's my current plan. I'm going to try to approach this from a holistic point of view and if in a few weeks we still have some lingering issues then we'll have to visit the vet. My experience in the past though is that most vets turn immediately to low quality prescription food and steroids and I think that is a bad path to take unless absolutely necessary to give the dog relief.

Currently Rigby is only eating a fish and sweet potato based limited ingredient kibble with a fish/sweet potato LID canned food mixed in. Mixed into that he is also getting salmon oil to boost his Omega 3s and hopefully get his immune response under control. I've also added a high potency probiotic powder (30 billion CFU) to get his gut cleaned out and help him break down his food and get more out of it. I've seen probiotics work miracles on dogs with chronic yeast infections and Rigby's paperwork mentions that he has a history of yeast problems.

Yeast feeds on sugars so keeping grain out of his food bowl is also a key step to getting him healthy. That means ALL his food. The mistake that most people make when trying to manage food sensitivities is that they get the mealtime stuff fixed but then they keep giving treats that have wheat or other grains in them, or a protein that the dog isn't currently supposed to be eating.

Since we pay dogs for good behavior at our house it's important to have treats that Rigby can eat. These bits of freeze dried salmon are perfect and he definitely loves him. 

The one thing that I have thrown into his food as an extra supplement is kelp because his teeth are stained and have a bit of plaque build up but not enough that he needs a full dental at this point. Combining kelp and then regular chewing on bully sticks (or in the case of a dog with allergies, specialized chews) can work wonders on cleaning up a dog's mouth.

The last thing I'm going to try is massaging his belly and groin area with a colloidal silver salve that I have. Colloidal silver has anti-fungal and anti-biotic properties so I'm hoping this will help with his rash. I'll keep you posted on how things go. It can take about 3 weeks for a diet change to show results but I'm hoping that with all the things we are trying, we'll start seeing a change sooner than that. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fitting In

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that the very first thing we do when bringing home a new foster dog is to carefully introduce the dog to our 4 personal dogs.

I usually start out with either Salinas or Tilly, who both have very clear body language with other dogs and neither are quick to jump to being offended if the foster dog is a little rude. Chima, who is quick to be offended is almost always the last dog to get introduced.

The initial intro with Chima and Sal - much butt sniffing and ground sniffing to let everyone know - "It's cool. Let's just all keep chill."

How fast or slow these introductions go depend wholly on the foster dog and what they are able to handle. If a particular dog is under-confident and quick to jump to aggressive behavior it could take weeks or even months before everyone is fully integrated. Happily, Rigby is the kind of dog where introductions to all 4 dogs was complete in about 20 minutes.

Sal was giving Rigby the "you're in my BUBBLE!!!" look.

Even Chima, who is often on high alert around new dogs for about a week, was over any issues with him within the first few minutes she had met him.

Rigby was fine with giving the girls a little space and found his own patch of sunshine. 

He curls up on the couch with the dogs, shares sunspots with them, and even joins in on hunting forays in the back yard with Chima and Sal.

If you are looking for a very special dog, then Rigby is your guy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Settling In

Rigby joined our family as a foster dog on Sunday evening and he quickly settled right in like he'd always been here.

Potty break after finally finishing his road trip to Washington

Bath time! He was not a fan but he didn't try to get out of the tub even once. Good boy!

Hanging out on the bed after his bath
We have a few things to work on but they are minor and typical for any dog who hasn't spent much time living in a house. He is great with other dogs, very intent on pleasing his people, and super snugly. He loves belly rubs, and tug and just kicking back on the couch with his people. He doesn't tolerate rudeness in other dogs but isn't a jerk about it - he just gives a quick growl to let them know to take it down a notch. We've only heard this once when Sal jumped up on the couch and almost landed on him and I'd growl too in that case. There was a wild terrier pup on the transport that supposedly he growled at a lot, however, from what I saw the pup was a typical adolescent terrier and was very pushy and not respecting the other dogs' space.

Healthwise he seems like a much younger dog. I am still somewhat dubious that he is 9 years old since my Frodo is 6 months younger than he is and Frodo has almost fully gone white whereas Rigby doesn't have any white mixed in with the tan on his head.

Anyhow, I look forward to fostering this guy because he is just so easy and very fun to have around.  Stay tuned for more Rigby posts.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Goodbye, Gorky - Hello, Rigby

Sweet Gorky went home today and boy is it quiet here. Chima and Sal are really going to miss him. Frodo, not so much. But the girls had a blast with him and he's been here since November so he felt like one of the pack.

Waiting in the parking lot to meet up with his new mom

Ready to head home in his new harness. First thing he did is tear over and give his new sister kisses.

Tomorrow evening our new boy Rigby arrives and we'll be back in action. He's 8 years old so I'm guessing that Frodo might like him a little better than Gork. He prefers the more sedate terriers. And in this house, sedate is relative because we are used to a quite rowdy crew.

Rigby on the road, getting a new toy on transport and wearing his Gettin' 'Em Home transport bandana.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mardi Gras!

It was Barkbox day at our house the other day and there was a very fun Mardi Gras theme this month. The jester ball and carnival mask toys are pretty much shreds of fabric at this point but the dogs had fun destroying them.

Chima, waiting her turn while Gorky squeaks the jester ball

Gorky loved the squeakie jester ball and is still managing to get a few squeaks out of it, even though it's lost its tassles. Chima had her typical wrestling match with the toys and I loved the video I caught of her, completely still, waiting to see if Gorky would come and take it. For most of the video, the only way you know it is video is because Gorky's tail is wagging full speed.

We used the catfish po'boy treats at Nose Work class for Chima and she found them delicious. Of course she occasionally eats poop so it's not like she's picky or anything.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Introducing Rigby!

Meet our first new foster dog for 2015 - Rigby!  Rigby is 8 years old and weighs about 24 pounds but could stand to lose a couple pounds. He is a purebred Rat Terrier and is definitely a handsome guy. He has a bit of a long story and I will try to relate the bits and pieces that I know of his past here.

Rigby, formerly known as Davey, was surrendered to a no kill shelter in Central CA with his brother Harley. I believe it was a case of an elderly owner moving or something. Anyhow, the boys were adopted out together since they had spent their whole lives together. Then at no fault of their own, the person who adopted them moved, I believe, and she brought them back to the no-kill shelter about a year or two later. Well that shelter charged a high fee to return dogs so somehow my friend Lynn got involved so she could keep them out of the regional animal control shelter.

Rigby (L) with his brother Harley

Lynn, working with another rescue, found a home who was interested in both boys and they went home. Then, about a month later the person contacted them and said that two dogs was too much and they were returning Rigby. Supposedly he had peed in the house a couple times and they were not going to tolerate that. He basically was just dumped into a house and expected to be perfect and no one taught him where the potty was at that house. Dog's don't generalize well so even the most house trained dogs need a bit of a refresher when they move. Rigby also itched a lot and they found that annoying.

So back Rigby came and sadly, he was separated from his brother. The itching was quickly worked through by switching him to a good quality grain-free food and he's doing great with his house training. When he came back my friend asked me if New Rattitude could take him and I jumped at the chance. I love the bigger Rat Terriers and am always excited to foster them.

Rigby will be arriving here on Sunday thanks to Gettin' 'Em Home Rescue Transport. Thanks also to Lynn Bonham for keeping him out of the shelter and Dalinda Langley for temping him while we waited for a foster spot to open up. We can't wait to get to know him!

Rigby is of course named for the Beatles song "Eleanor Rigby" which was released in 1966 on the "Revolver" album.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2015 Foster Dog Naming Theme

Each year we have a theme to the names of our foster dogs. I'm not sure how much longer we will stick to having themes but while we can come of with ideas we will continue to have fun with it.

Gorky, named after painter Arshile Gorky, was part of our 2014 artist themed year.

Chima (named for Chimayo, NM) and Salinas (named for the Salinas Pueblos National Monument) were fostered in 2013 when our theme was New Mexico
Some past themes we've had are literature, food, outer space, Washington and New Mexico, and last year we chose visual artists as our theme.

So what is our 2015 theme?

Stay tuned for an introduction of our first 2015 foster dog.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Spring Time!

We had a rare day that was both dry AND had blue skies. The dogs and I took advantage of that and while I did a bit of clean up in the yard, they explored and sniffed.

Gorky and the daffodils

The daffodils overcame the fact that Chima occasionally likes to poop right in the middle of them and are looking great. Not long now...

Gorky sniffing the fuchsia 

Tilly was over all this green fun before the rest of us and was not happy about the other girls sniffing her so much. She wanted to be picked up and taken inside! She had rolled in the mud already so was ready to go back to sleep.

Tilly had enough of the big girls sniffing her

Queen Tilly is ready to be carried back inside
While it may be awhile until we get our next day with blue skies, it's great to see the birds coming back and the shrubs and trees starting to bud.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Gorky's Beloved Squirrel

We have these Hugglehound brand plush squirrel toys that the dogs enjoy. Plush toys tend to only come out for short lengths of time here since Frodo, Tilly and Salinas immediately shred them. Gorky and Chima LOVE to play with them though. Chima likes to roll around on her back while she holds the toy in her mouth and Gorky, well Gorky likes the squeak. Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak... On and on it goes with the occasional shake thrown in.

During one of those play sessions he had the squirrel and he squeaked it for a good 10 minutes while Chima followed him around, waiting her turn. Once he let his guard down she had it in a flash and he begrudgingly watched her roll around for a few minutes before she got bored and he had his chance to squeak again.

I'll be sending Gorky to his forever home with lots of plush toys since they tend to accumulate here and he actually plays with them. And of course he will get to take his squirrel home.

Gorky tells Chima, "Don't even think of it, lady"
But Chima did think of it and eventually her patience as she stalked him won her a turn with the squirrel

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Gorky's Adopted!

I'm super excited to announce that foster boy Gorky has found a new home! Our field trip to Seattle was to visit his new mom and see how the Gorkster handled city life.

Gorky was picked up as a stray in a rural farming community in Central CA. Here's a street view of the area he was found as a stray.

After that Gorky adjusted to suburban life while with us in foster care but now he's going to be a city boy, living in a highrise apartment and walking downtown. Lots of change but he's a very resilient boy who tends to go with the flow after a little adjustment time. His new mom loves to hike so he will get to spend some times on the trails as well, which he will love.

Congratulations to Gorky and his new mom. We can't wait to hear updates about how he's doing. He'll be with us for a few more days and then will head to his new home. Stay tuned for our next foster dog, the first new foster of 2015, to be introduced soon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Field Trip

Gorky had an adventure in the city on Sunday and did great! While he was definitely a little nervous by all the new sights and sounds, he's a resilient little guy and before long his tail was up and his butt was wagging. Thanks to my fully loaded treat bag he decided this city stuff wasn't so bad.

Looking towards Seattle Center from the edge of downtown

We didn't overwhelm him too much. Just a little walk with lots of sniffing (and peeing on) street trees. A streetcar drove by, as well as a bicycle, a skateboard and a bus and he took it all in stride - watching them carefully and then regularly checking in with me to make sure this was all safe.

Checking out all the street trees

The only thing he found really scary was riding in an elevator, but who can blame him! I mean how weird is a room that moves?!

Making sure nothing tries to sneak up behind him

On our way back to the car we stopped so he could admire the landscaping and we could avoid a Shiba Inu that was walking past. While Gorky isn't really reactive to other dogs when he's on leash, he does get hyper-alert and intense so we kept more of a distance to help him learn another dog on a leash isn't a big deal. That will be important for his continued acclimation to leash walking - no face to face or up close greetings while he learns to relax. Then he can slowly work up to closer distances to the other leashed dogs. Unleashed, he is totally relaxed around other dogs but on a leash he's still working on feeling safe.

It was a great experience for him though. It's always good to expose dogs to a variety of environments, just making sure the exposure level isn't overwhelming and the overall experience is a positive one for the dog.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Couch Time

The couch is a favorite spot for the dogs to nap, no matter how many soft, cushy dog beds are lying about.So when we put a new, small sectional downstairs I should have known the dogs would quickly take it over.
Chima, Sal and Frodo, hanging out

The lower floor of our home is the rec room. Our television and computers are down there, books, games, and a whole walk-in closet full of dog stuff. We spend a lot of time in this comfortable, cozy room.

Gorky joins the mix and they all take a nap together

Recently we replaced the couch down there with a small sectional and I love reading or working on my laptop on the chaise section of the couch. Unfortunately the dogs have decided this is also THEIR favorite section and typically by the time I want to sit there it's covered in a mound of terriers.

Sleepy Gorky

The only way I get to sit on the chaise - with dogs lounging on my lap

I actually think I'm going to purchase a small ottoman for the other end of the couch so I still get to put my feet up when the dogs are hogging the chaise end. Of course, I could be the mean guy and kick them off, but who could really disturb such cuteness?

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Art of Thievery

Chima has long been known as the expert toy thief in our house. She does it without growling or intimidation, Instead she just moves closer and closer, waiting for the perfect moment to steal without confrontation. Well Chima had better watch out because there's another expert thief in town.

Last night after Chima and I got home from Nose Work class she was rolling around on the floor, happily playing with a bone. Slowly and with great strategy Gorky made his move. First nosing one end of the bone. Then slowing moving his paw down the bone to the end closest to Chima and then scooting the bone carefully towards him. Chima watched the whole thing and while she was a little too still for my liking during the bone coup, Gorky managed to get the bone without a single snark from Chima.
Chima, enjoying her bone

Of course once he had it he decided it wasn't nearly as interesting as Chima was making it seem and he let her have it and went off to look for something more interesting, like a Nylabone or squeakie toy.
Gorky, starting to make his move

Moving his paw down the bone carefully - the most dangerous part since his paw is close to her mouth

Starting to get some distance between Chima and the bone. Watch out Gorky, Chima is awfully still. Not a good sign.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Short Boys Get More Toys

Gorky is short. I mean, really, really short. It doesn't slow him down any though and his bowed little legs can run like the wind.

He's long known that if he tucks his head he can run right underneath Chima but recently he learned a new skill - scooting under the couch. Why is this such a great skill? Well, it's twofold.

First, he can hide under there when he's wrestling with Chima. This gives him a break from the action but also allows for a strategic position where he can poke his head out and chew on her legs. It frustrates her to no end since only her head fits under there.

Coming out from under the couch after successfully chewing on Chima's legs and finding Frodo's favorite ball.

But secondly, and the reason he developed the "under the couch scoot" skill in the first place, is the toys. Anyone who has dogs knows that a couch holds some magnetic force that sucks dog toys beneath it. Once under there they tend to be forgotten for ages. Well Gorky discovered this treasure trove and when I don't see him, typically he is under the couch, chewing on a choice nlyabone or squeaky ball that he has found under there.

So while he can't climb a gate or jump up on a dining room table to steal treats like the other dogs in the house, he can hoard toys they lose under the couch which in his opinion is a talent worth having.