Monday, March 28, 2016

Tate's Big Adventure

It is about a 2.5 hour drive to the Canadian border from our home so that made for a long day of getting Obi to his new home. Because Tate is a young puppy I didn't feel comfortable leaving her at home in a crate for 7-8 hours. She's too young (and mischievous) to be left loose and the last thing I want her to do is to start to potty in her crate when so far she is doing so well with her crate training.

Ready to head off down the path

So lucky little Tate got to come along on our drive north. She is an amazing traveller and doesn't make a peep when on the road. She rode in a small crate that was buckled into the car and had a bully stick and toys to keep her entertained.
"What the heck is that?"

The whale sculpture called for a closer inspection

After we handed poor car sick Obi over to his new dad we drove over to the Blaine Marine Harbour Park to walk along the paths. Tate enjoyed her chance to stretch her legs and she bounced along, looking for goose poop to snack on and anything new and interesting.

Searching for goose poop by the Semiahmoo Bay

It was a great trip for her and she seemed to really enjoy her outing.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Obi's Adopted!

Sweet Obi has scored a great home! He was adopted by a couple who adopted one of my foster dogs a couple years ago. 
His last night with us, snoozing with Chima

He'll be living up in North Vancouver, British Columbia where he'll get to hike, have lots of woods to sniff around in on walks and parents who both work from home for the most part. He'll also have a laid back Rat Terrier brother to keep him company. What Obi wanted most was a calm, loving home and that is exactly what he got. 

We draped everything in old rags for the drive north since Obi gets very carsick. Poor guy did not feel well

Today we drove him up to the Canadian border where we handed him off to his new dad. Poor Obi did not enjoy the drive up since he gets carsick. But he made it and quickly settled into his dad's car for the last leg of his journey home. 
He decided the cold wind was worse than a car ride and hopped into his new dad's car.

We've already seen a couple of photos on Facebook and he is doing great considering the long car ride and big upheaval he has gone through today. But happy times are ahead for him. This is his last move and he now has a terrier loving family of his own.
Hanging out with his new brother Django

Getting some lap time with his new mom

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Sal decided she was ready to play today and Tate was more than ready!

Of course it can be a little scary for a 6 pound puppy to have an 18 pound dog chasing them so she was smart and engaged play from under the couch where Sal won't go. While she was a bit nervous during the play, she kept engaging  Sal so I let it continue. Once Sal seemed to be getting too intense I stepped in and had everyone take a break.

Chima tried playing too but was a bit unsure of this little snapping, barking creature. She chose to step away this time because she was feeling uncomfortable.

There is a fine line between play behavior and stalking/hunting type behavior and my two big girls are very prey driven. So I am very careful when they play with puppies to make sure everyone is having fun and that Chima and Sal aren't too worked up. I want things to stay safe and fun for everyone.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


One of the most important job for puppy parents - a job that gives their puppy the best chance at a future that is happy - is to log in as many different experiences (in a positive, reinforcing way) as they can. There is a very short window when puppies are old enough to be away from their mom and littermates but still young enough that their brain isn't telling them that new/different things are scary.

Just taking a puppy around and "socializing" isn't going to work. In fact if it's not feeling like a positive experience you could actually be teaching the pup that being out and about meeting strange people is scary and uncomfortable.

I don't even really like the word "socialize" any more since so many people misunderstand it. Just getting exposure to people and other dogs isn't enough. Your goal is to squeeze in as many unique experiences as possible, all the while keeping things happy and positive. That means puppies getting to walk on different surfaces - grass, gravel, bark, tarps scratchy rugs.... It means experiencing lots of different sounds - vacuums, garbage trucks, ambulance sirens, doors closing loudly, dogs barking loudly behind fences, drive thrus where voices come out of a box.. And always when they are experiencing these new things it's important that their body language is relaxed and they are enjoying themselves. That means high value treats need to be flowing fast and steady and these new experiences need to be doled out in short but frequent doses. If they aren't relaxed you need to back up and break things down more.

Tate and I recently had our first "experience" outing to help her experience what life in the burbs is like for a dog. I put her in a small crate, belted it into the passenger seat and gave her a bully stick. Yum! She thought that was pretty great. Then off we went.

First stop was a Starbucks drive thru. She watched the screen a bit while it was "talking" and then I started popping little bits of treat into her crate. Yay! It was raining treats. Then up to the window where there was a stranger talking to me and reaching out the window towards our car. More treats and happy talk to her.

Then we were off to our second stop - the pet food store to pick up some puppy kibble. I shop at a small independent pet food store and the employees are great about helping out when I bring in dogs who are working on certain things. Since Tate hasn't had her 2nd puppy vaccination booster yet I couldn't put her on the ground. So instead we practiced just having people come up and say hi and pet her and give her treats. She did great! We bought her puppy kibble and then headed back to the car for home. Two different stops on our first outing was a lot of work.

When we got home she had a potty break and some tearing around time and then it was in the crate to rest up. All those new experiences worked her brain and she was ready to rest.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Chima Hates Puppies

I suppose "hate" is a bit strong. Let's just say Chima has a pretty rigid code of conduct for how dogs act and she doesn't cut puppies much slack for not knowing any better.

Chima checks out Tates crate to see if there is anything worth taking.

Obi and Frodo use body language as dramatically as they are able to try to get the point across to Tate that she is in their personal space. All of the looking away and turning their back is lost on her though and I have to watch to make sure the boys aren't getting overwhelmed and pushed around.

Frodo tells me that he is not happy about Tate stealing his new plush toy

Chima however has no problem giving a puppy the smackdown. There will be no jumping on her or biting at her face unless she initiates it. Puppies soon learn that her curling her lip means they have about 5 seconds to move out of her space before she gives them a face full of teeth and loud barking. It's actually a good amount of time if you think about it. She has given the warning and then gives time for the puppy to change their behavior to something more acceptable. If they don't choose to, she tells them more - um - firmly. While she sounds scary though, she doesn't bite or hurt the little ones. Instead she is just letting them know in the only way that seems to make them listen.

Dogs can be the best teachers. I'm not going to let Chima knock Tate around and I am not going to let her get bossy, but if Tate is behaving in a way that is irritating to most other dogs then it is in her best interest to learn through natural consequences what the result can be when you behave that way. Chima and Sal are more than happy to teach her those lessons. Some puppies aren't as confident and a quick curled lip is enough for them to get the message. Others like Tate will push boundaries so an adult dog who sets and maintains firm boundaries is great for them.
Chima, crated because during a short time out in the rec room she managed to break off one of her toenails. Poor girl. Not a typical time out for her. Usually she curls up on the couch and calms herself down. 

Sometimes Chima gets snarky when Tate isn't doing anything wrong and then she gets a time out away from the puppy to calm down and change her focus. Just a couple minutes which gives me time to change up the environment a bit so both Chima and Tate have a better chance at behaving the way I'd like them to behave. After all, it's my job to manage the environment so Chima and Tate are both getting what they need without the need of snarling and fights.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Tate Time

Little Tate has touched down like a 5 pound tornado whirling and leaping and leaving toys and irritated adult dogs in her wake.
Trying the leash for the first time and doing great

She's actually a very good little puppy for her age. She doesn't potty in her crate and because we are very vigilant on trips outside for potty time every 45 minutes there haven't been any accidents inside.

Obi is probably least thrilled with her, partly because he's too gentle to do much snarking at her and she likes to steal his toys. Frodo has the same issue. Chima and Sal have no such compunctions and Tate quickly learned that she needs to try to give them space.

Since it isn't fair to the adult dogs to have her mauling them all the time it's my job to run interference and keep her occupied and since she seems to have the attention span of a gnat it's a lot of work.
Attempting to get the adults off the couch to play with her

Pausing to come up with another strategy

Her crate has been set up to be as interesting as possible with squeaky toys and crinkly toys hanging from above and plenty of chew toys for a teething girl. It's important for her development to be out and about though so I'm careful not to overuse the crate. Short stints are enough to give the grown ups time to relax and also to give me time to get some things done without being on constant watch to make sure she doesn't have to potty and isn't bugging the other dogs.

Is she a handful? Absolutely. Young puppies are a full time job that comes with the weighty responsibility of setting them up with experiences that will allow them to grow into resilient, happy adults. She's been here less than 24 hours and we are already exhausted. But she is a nice little gal who I look forward to spending the next several weeks with.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Gerbil Ball?

I've always thought a large soft gerbil ball would be fun to try out with confident puppies. Well, Tate's temporary foster mom in CA found out that yes, they are fun for puppies.

She purchased a soft, pop up playpen for little Tate for her ride up to Washington. Since she hasn't had all her shots, she is called a "no paws on the ground" transportee or NPOTG. When drivers switch the dogs get a break to walk around on leash and potty but for puppies they have to stay off the ground. This way the transporters can open up this playpen, put in a potty pad and zip her in.

Well, is seems that they will also need to hold the playpen in place because Tate discovered that it is easy and fun to get around the house in her playpen. She turned it into a gerbil ball of sorts. I love seeing a confident active pup like this. Sure, she will keep me busy but at the same time, she is ripe for new experiences and I can't wait to give those to her.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Obi Tries Toys

It usually takes a dog a few weeks to relax and feel at home enough to really play with the toys. Of course this differs from dog to dog but when they are anxious like Obi can be, they tend to take longer.

I was very excited today when I saw that he had grabbed the new toy from the Barkbox. He didn't really play with it that much, Instead he sat with it but he did chew on a Nylabone toy.

Chima tried her standard move of slowly moving into his space until he gets up and moves so she can get the toy. It works for her every time (except with Sal) so I had to call her off and get her distracted with the other Barkbox toy. I want to make sure he feels relaxed enough to continue playing and sometimes we pet parents need to intervene to help out dogs who might be getting "bossed."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Dental Day for Obi

At Obi's vet visit our vet confirmed what I had guessed - he was in need of a teeth cleaning and possibly extractions. 

Before - right side

Before - left side

The first available appointment they had was April 1st. Since Obi has an adopter interested in him, I really didn't want to wait that long. The other option would be to take him to the discount vet but I have not been happy with their handling of fearful dogs. The staff and my vet at Browns Point Veterinary Clinic are all very good at reading dogs' body language and give them the time and space to relax a bit instead of forcing things on them. Since I am wanting Obi to learn that handling by other people doesn't have to be scary it was worth it to me to wait and take him to a place that will respect him and try to ease his anxiety. 

This morning I got a call from the clinic that they had a no-show and if I hadn't fed Obi yet they could get him in that day. Nice to get bumped to the top of the wait list. It pays to be nice to the front desk staff at your vet office. Luckily I hadn't fed the dogs yet so Obi and I jumped in the car and off he went to the vet. 

Poor guy couldn't believe his bad luck to have to go on a car trip again. He did great though and seemed more relaxed with the vet techs this morning than he had been at his previous exam. 

After - right side

After - left side

He's home resting now with clean white teeth and a bit of a hangover. He just needed one extraction but it was a molar so he is definitely needing the pain meds he came home with. 

Friday, March 11, 2016


We typically foster just one dog at a time and currently our very well mannered, handsome house-trained foster boy is Obi. Apparently he's just too easy a foster dog for me though because my friend Lynn just talked me into taking in a puppy.

It's been awhile since we last had a young puppy and after awhile my common sense of avoiding fostering young puppies wears off. Puppies are a LOT of work. They need socialization outings, house training, extra vet visits for vaccinations... So apparently a puppy provides me with 6 to 12 months of puppy cuteness immunity and then my anti-puppy antibodies fade away.

The photo that did me in. Do you see those tummy spots?!

Lynn messaged me and sent this photo and said "this pup was just dumped at Big Potato Market. Do you want her? If we take her it will keep her out of the shelter." I was unable to resist her spotted belly and said yes I would take her.

While it doesn't seem like a puppy needs rescue because they are so adoptable, one of the reasons we take a puppy like this is to keep her from being exposed to the diseases that are often present in the shelter. THey do their best but when you have hundreds of stray animals together in one place it can be a dangerous place for animals with immature or suppressed immune systems.

Since she was found at the Big Potato Market we decided to go with a potato themed name. She will be named Tate.

Tate will be arriving next weekend and we will see how this pack of 7 to 14 year old dogs handle a 10-12 week old pup. I'm sure I'll be anti-puppy again in no time but in the mean time while I am not having to clean up the messes and keep her entertained I will bask in puppy love.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Brave, Brave Boy

Obi is not a fan of the car. He gets pretty carsick and really stressed out so to help with this I gave him a supplement to help with nausea and then completely covered the front passenger side of the car with old towels. I also strapped my fully loaded treat bag to my belt so I had distractors to be passing him on the drive. 
Poor guy did not love the windy road to the vet 

With one hand on the wheel and one hand giving Obi an ear massage we wound our way down the hill to our vet office. Obi was so stressed that he was really checked out. I felt so bad for the little nugget. And then when we got there it was pouring rain - another of Obi's least favorite things - so he actually was happy to get inside the office. 

There are so many reasons that I love this vet clinic but one of my top reasons is that my vet is very behaviorally savvy and super respectful of how the animals are feeling. Obi got lots of time to sniff and check things out and the exam was able to be done with great low-stress handling techniques.

His least favorite part was getting his teeth looked at but he let me show Dr. Sperlich his teeth and she was able to observe without having to handle his mouth herself which would have been tough for Obi. He did let her look in his ears and eyes though, stood on the scale, had blood drawn for his heartworm test, and had a rabies vaccine. That is a lot for 1 scared little dog to handle. 

The good news is that he checked out as very healthy. 
Back in the car and getting strapped in to head for home

We then made it all the way home without any vomiting or excessive drooling and he deservedly crashed on the dog bed downstairs. He earned a nice long nap. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Scritchy Scratch

As Obi relaxes and settles in more it is so fun to see his personality come out.

In the last couple days he will scratch his back occasionally by rolling around on the floor. I've been trying to get it on camera but he always stops before I can get my phone recording. Well today I finally got it!

Sweet funny boy!

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Since January we have been prepping our living room, dining room, kitchen and entry to get new floors. During that time the dogs spent most of their time on the basement level wondering what the heck was happening upstairs.

Troy, working to remove the entryway tile

Well, last week the time finally arrived and the floors were installed! They are a type of product called luxury vinyl plank that are a bit like a click together laminate but are tougher and also WATERPROOF! Since we tend to regularly be house training our foster dogs and we have dogs who hate the rain so much they will pee in the house to avoid it waterproof is a big plus for us. The finish is also tougher than most laminates and hardwoods and has a lifetime guarantee.

The entryway now

Needless to say, we are very excited about this after living with worn out and stained carpet for years. But would the dogs agree with the change? Well, kind of.

(Above video) Chima listens curiously (and Frodo barks) while floors are being installed

(Above video) Dogs get to come upstairs and check out floors for the first time

Little old Tilly could care less. She had spent most of her time on vinyl flooring so she was used to the smooth surface. And Frodo and Obi just walked around, sniffed a bit and then went back to life as usual. I had gotten Frodo's long lost beloved chicken out and he was too busy making it honk to worry about a change in flooring.

Obi, who arrived at the tail end of the project, didn't understand what all the fuss was about.
"I think I need a belly rub"
Obi (front) and Sal relax on some dog beds in the living room

Sal at first was not a fan and tiptoed around, going from area rug to area rug. Sometimes she doesn't mind it and at others she remembers that she could slip and gets a bit worried. It doesn't stop her from going up and down the stairs (still waiting to be finished so just bare wood now) from floor to floor to see what I'm up to.
Sal (left) and Chima preferring to wait on the entry rug and avoid the floor.

Chima though was beside herself. I knew she didn't like smooth floors but she is horrified by the changes. She tears, slipping and sliding fearfully from one rug to the next like she's playing a real live "hot lava game". In fact, she hates them so much that when I put their food down in their food cubbies at breakfast she wouldn't move from the rug she was on the 3 feet to her food bowl and sat there whimpering while Obi tried to make his move and help himself.
 Chima gingerly walking to the kitchen to assess the extent of this flooring disaster

Chima and Sal's food and water bowls back in their original locations as we reload the bookshelves. Chima won't eat there now so we need to change things up.

So what happens now? Do we just make her "get over it"? No way. While a dog's fear of smooth flooring may not seem rational to us, it is a very real fear and we need to be compassionate about that. Chima slipped on the smooth floor at the emergency vet when she was there being seen for another issue and hurt her back very badly. She has reason to be worried about the floor. With Chima we have a few ways we are working on it. First, I just ordered stair tread rugs and anti-skid tread pads so that when the stairs are finished she will easily be able to get up and down from the basement to main level without losing her footing. Then I am going to buy a runner to put in front of the shelving unit that holds their food bowls and the water bowl. And then finally we will do some reinforcing her when she chooses to walk on the floor or stand off the rugs. My hope is that given these changes, some  reinforcements and a bit of time she will start to feel at home in her space again.

Chima rests up from all the flooring madness

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Good Night's Sleep

What a difference a good night of sleep can make! When I came down on Monday morning Obi was dancing around with Chima and Sal and ready to go outside. I opened the gate and out he ran, jumping up on me and trying to get some pets from me. Who was this dog? He was like a completely different guy - confident, relaxed, and acting like a normal dog.
On the hunt for a good place to pee - maybe on Frodo's favorite spot?

Sniffing a mint plant
I let them outside and off he went to explore, regularly checking back in with me to make sure I was still there. When I sat down on the deck with my coffee. He edged up next to me to get some pets and seemed to prefer to hang out with me than to be out sniffing for critters like the rest of the dogs.
Checking in with me after Tilly yelled at him

He met tiny old Tilly and when she snapped at him to get out of her way, he jumped back and decided to keep his distance from the cranky old lady.
Watching Chima snarfing bird seed off the ground

Standing tall, back straight and his nub and ears are up.

When we were inside and I was checking email on the couch he curled up next to me and when I pet him he rolled over for a belly rub.

He's still a skittish guy. New things scare him and he startles easily, but he's decided he is safe here and I'm trustworthy. Now we'll work on building up our "trust account" so that when I have to take him to the vet for a check up and a Rabies vaccine in a week and a half he will have some security. There will be a  history of my behavior being gentle and kind that he can start to rely on as my baseline behavior. Be sure to watch the trust account video because it really is the basis for all that I do with my dogs. To learn and to try new things there must first be a trust between the learner and the teacher. So the first lessons that a new dog is learning is that he can trust me.

We will also start with some vet prep training games too so that hopefully he will come away from his visit a happy boy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Obi Meets The Rat Pack

I always start introducing the dogs by bringing out just one of them - typically Frodo or Sal. This time I had Troy send out Sal and Obi walked around on a long line. Sal is great meeting dogs and normally has good body language and isn't pushy. She gives them a close inspection, lets them get a few sniffs in and then she's bored and off to go see if she can find a rodent somewhere. She is totally different though if I have both her and Chima out meeting a dog. Chima can be pushy and overbearing for new dogs and if she and Sal meet the dog at the same time Sal acts more like her sister and feeds off of Chima's anxious energy. They will corner the dog to sniff them and for Chima to do a bit of posturing - not something I want another dog to have to go through. 
Sal is ready to say hi

Once Sal is bored with the new dog then I assess how the new dog is doing and decide whether to bring out both Chima and Frodo or just Frodo. Obi was doing great and didn't seem at all bothered by the dogs, even Chima barking at him through the sliding door. So I let out both Frodo and Chima for sniffs. Frodo is a bit like Sal is quickly bored with the new dog but Chima will start to obsess about them so I have to follow them around for awhile and regularly distract Chima to give the dog a break and also to keep the situation from escalating into a scuffle. First impressions count! Starting off with a fight is the last thing I want. Sometimes it's a few days before Chima even gets to see the dog because I don't want to introduce them until she has calmed down enough. 

Then we wander around the back yard until the dogs are all off doing their own thing and are completely over the newness of another dog in the house. For some dogs we need a week for that newness to wear off and we do some separating until everyone is comfortable. But for other dogs like Obi who have very polite body language, 30 minutes (carefully monitored) is usually plenty of time. 

Then it's time to go inside and explore the dog area, which for now while new flooring is being installed on the top 2 floors, is in the basement. It's a smaller space with less room for dogs to move away from each other and that's why it's important that the initial meetup happens outside. The dogs feel like they have room to move away outside and so you start out with a more relaxed dog to introduce the others to. 

Inside Obi waited to be invited up on the couch but he was fine sharing the couch with the other dogs once he was up there. Frodo did his spastic back scratching routine along the front of the couch and Obi found that interesting but otherwise he was ready to kick back. It had been a long day. Heck, it had been a long month for him since he had been in the shelter since January 19th. 
Just invited onto the couch and still not sure he's supposed to be up there. 
Watching Frodo scratch his back on the couch
On Sunday night he clearly was not too sure about me still and even though he was up on the couch, he was curled up fairly tightly and tensed up if I touched him. That will change though, and sooner than I thought it would.