Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Alumni Update: Bella

Bella was featured in our book Lost Souls: Found! Inspiring Stories about Great Danes. Her story was one of my favorites: After a rough first introduction to her new Bulldog brother, Tonka, they really hit it off, and she actually served as his umbrella, shielding him from the rain he loathed when he needed to pee. How cute!

Bella's mom, Debbie, sent me an update the other day:

We recently adopted another Great Dane from Great Dane Rescue, Inc. (GDRI). This "little" guy is approximately a year old and was picked up as a stray in North Bay, Ontario. He spent some time in a shelter there before GDRI picked him up. GDRI did a great job in telling us all about him, and we were prepared for an "obnoxious spotty boy."

We adopted him on August 11 of this year and named him Beau. We thought it would be cute to have Bella (beautiful) and Beau (handsome), but what we got was beauty and the beast! (kidding)

Beau is a fawnequin with one blue eye and one brown eye. He came into rescue with NO training and weighed 102 lbs. He did not respond to being called or know sit, down, or well, any other commands, really. We are working hard, and he is learning. He now knows sit, down, and is getting better at coming when he is called.

Bella is trying hard to teach Beau the rules of the house, like, for example, he should NOT jump over the couch when he is excited and wanting to play. This guy is a challenge, but we are committed to his rehabilitation. He is a sweet and loving boy and cracks us up with his silly antic. His favorite thing to do is stick his head under the floor length curtains in our living room and then slowly walk out from under it letting it drag over this whole body. Too cute. He also likes to lay on his bed and wait to be covered up with his blanket. He is a hundred-pound lap sitter. We just love him.

Bella continues to do well; she is so wonderful and easy going. Every night during our walk we are joined by our neighbor's little girl who is 10. Bella is so easygoing even she can walk her. Whoever says to stay away from shelter and rescue dogs because they have too many problems really should meet Bella; she can show them that sometimes bad things happen to good dogs and that rescue dog make the best friends. With time and patience and love we are sure that Beau can do it, too.

So there's the update. Note that I'm taking a little break from fostering right now so that my husband doesn't leave me (kidding!), so I'll continue to share alumni updates until I have some new fosters to complain, I mean rave about. :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Alumni Update - Tahoe

From Sarah Guenther - author of a story in Lost Souls: Found! Inspiring Stories About Labrador Retrievers:

At the time of publishing, Tahoe had just recently turned 2. At the time of this writing today, Tahoe is now happy, contented, confident and quite the little ham at age 3 1/2. His biggest milestones have been first, learning not to bark at the innocent people walking by our house and second, he has learned to walk off leash with us when we go to the beach. He is the silliest boy we have ever seen. When he's in the mood for some dog love, he jumps on the coffee table, blocking my view of the TV. Then he gives me a big tail wag and throws his body onto my lap where he rubs his nose into my armpits, snorting and emitting funny playful wookie sounds. He's become extremely close with his big black lab brother, Bettis, who complies with his frequent requests for a good ear licking. His yellow lab sister, Huck, has become his mother figure and she has helped him master the art of free-style doggie wrestling and taught him how to unstuff a pillow in record time. Every moment that passes, we are continually amazed at Tahoe's emotional growth. He's definitely settled into life with us and he has made it quite clear to us that he loves his forever family.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Easiest Goodbye

People often ask me if its hard to say goodbye to foster dogs. Sometimes it is very difficult, like in the case of Camille, who was a sweet, potty-trained dog that Bill adored. Other times the parting is much easier because a)I found the dog annoying for whatever reason, c) Bill and the dog didn't really hit it off, or c)the dog seems so happy to be going along to his or her new parents.

The latter is the case with Charlie, a rescue return who I only had for a few days. Charlie was adopted out to an elderly man, and within a year, the man felt he could no longer care for Charlie. (I wasn't the one who facilitated this adoption, but lesson learned - young, energetic foster dogs should not go to elderly people. There are plenty of older dogs needing homes who would have been a better fit.)

Bill didn't like Charlie because Charlie, like JayJay before him, made crazy growling noises while playing. Although Charlie is fairly dog-aggressive, Bill was the aggressor in our home this time! I had to break them up multiple times.

Even if Bill doesn't like Charlie, we do. He's potty trained, smart, and loving toward people. I was contacted by a man who had never had a dog before but felt he was ready for one now. He seemed like the perfect fit for Charlie, since he lives in an apartment, has no other dogs, and would be walking Charlie on a leash, so after a home inspection, this man was approved and ready to pick Charlie up.

We met last night, and Charlie jumped into his lap and licked his face immediately. After filling out the adoption contract, all he did was stand up, start walking, and say, "Charlie, come." Side by side, no leash necessary (we were in a large, safe field), Charlie and his new dog walked into the sunset, got in the car, and drove off to their new life together. It couldn't have been a more peaceful and happy transition.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Jay Jay Takes a Dip

Jay Jay is toy-obsessed, to put it lightly. You could get that dog to serve you his dinner if you hold a toy over your plate. The other night he proved just how toy-obsessed he was when we were in the hot tub. As we sat there, enjoying a "relaxing" evening, Jay Jay continuously threw his toy into the hot tub (it's above ground, mind you, and on his tippie-toes he can just put his head over the edge to look in). My husband finally balanced it on the edge of the turned up cover, so what did Jay Jay do? He jumped up, balanced on the edge of the slippery hot tub, and grabbed the toy off the cover.

From there it was a free-for-all. Jay Jay kept throwing the toy into the hot tub, and finally we decided that if he wanted to throw it in, he had to get it out himself. And...guess what? He did! Occasionally he could jump up and get his mouth around it, but more than once he actually dove right in! Check out the video below (it's hard to see, but if you tilt your screen right, you should be able to get the picture!).

Oh, Jay Jay! You are one funny dog! We'll miss you now that you've gone on to your new home, but at least all of our river rocks are now back where they belong - in the yard - and our guest bed is safe from your "inappropriate advances." :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dog Park Danger

When most people think of danger at the dog park, they think of dog fights or people getting hit by a joyful yet oblivious dog running at top speed. Yesterday I encountered a different kind of danger - one of the worst kinds for me.

You see, while I probably wouldn't be classified as homely, I definitely have frizzy hair, a nose with a slight bump on it from being broken long ago, and I'm pretty short (5'2" on a good day). The one thing I did have going for me was great teeth (thanks, Mom and Dad!). I've never needed braces, I've only had one cavity, and only two wisdom teeth have needed the ole' yank, so I guess you could say that I've been lucky in that department...until yesterday.

As I was leaning over to pet my foster dog at the dog park, a rambunctious Boxer/Dalmation mix came out of nowhere and jumped up on me, slamming his head right into my front teeth. I was tasting dirt, or what I hoped was dirt. But no, it wasn't dirt...it was fine bits of my teeth! I couldn't believe it - this dog had broken BOTH my front teeth - the only part of my face I really liked!

Luckily I was able to get into the dentist immediately, and my dental insurance covered the fix. They bonded my teeth, and I guess they are kind of as good as new, although I'm still feeling a loss for those little bits of my real teeth that are scattered somewhere at the dog park. My husband has a chip in his front tooth, and the bonding always breaks. I really hope that is not the case with mine.

While this was obviously an accident, it could have been easily prevented. The dog had been with its owner for two years. Why hadn't she trained him not to jump? This is a serious problem on trails around here and at dog parks. We have wonderful off-leash hiking access, but those without dogs often complain that they are jumped on. I always thought it was a dirt issue, but now I see that people can actually get injured as well.

Should this woman be held accountable for her dog? How? Had I not had insurance, it seems she should have paid for my medical bills. Also, I lost half a day of work, which is a problem because Happy Tails Books is overwhelmingly busy right now. There are two morals to this story: 1)Don't lean over when large, jumpy dogs are near, and 2)Train your dog not to jump, or you may be the one paying for someone else's dental work.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rock Star

It's been a week that we've had our newest foster dog, JayJay. He's been sick, so I haven't been able to give him as much exercise as I'd like, but he seems to stay entertained. His favorite thing is to come in from the yard with a big rock propping open his mouth. If we're out hiking, he'll carry one the whole way. I can't imagine rocks are good for his teeth, but I can't watch him every second of the day. I've provided him with plenty of bones and toys, but they don't seem to hold the appeal rocks do. As I write, he's desperately trying to get to a rock we've hidden on the counter top - nothing gets past this dog when it comes to toys and rocks!

We have to limit his toy time because his other favorite thing, besides jamming his mouth open with rocks, is putting a toy on your leg and gnawing on it.

Jayjay is actually a very sweet dog who will do anything to please you...he's just a little misguided right now about what is actually "pleasing." He's a good sleeper, he likes his crate, and he'd never intentionally harm a fly (although he is the size of a moose - okay, a very small baby moose - and when he steps on my toe or slams his giant head into my chin, it hurts!). Even when Bill snaps at him for getting too personal, JayJay just screams like a girl and runs away. This guy is truly a character whom we won't forget.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bye, Bye, Buster...Hello, Crazy Dog!

Just when I thought things were going to settle down...

Buster was adopted a week ago. Honestly, it wasn't really a match made in heaven, but it wasn't too bad, either. It was an elderly couple who promises to take him everywhere with them. They drove three hours to come meet him. He growled and snapped at the wife, and they still wanted to take him home! The thing I wasn't thrilled about was that they didn't seem committed at all to training him, which I always think is sad. Dogs are smart and they like learning, and Buster was no exception. In fact, he was very smart and motivated to learn! The man said, "I don't like dogs that are overly obedient. I want them to have their own personalities." He also seemed like more of the old-school kind or disciplinarian.

I explained to him how to appropriately discipline a Boston Terrier (with a firm "no" or "ah-ah" and a redirection into a better action). I'm not sure he got it. Anyway, the good news is I did get an email from them the other day saying that it only took Buster a few minutes to warm up to their son. Please pray for Buster - I hope they give him a good life.

So I took a week off from fostering because a)Buster was hard, b)My mom, dad, and I were performing in a circus, and c)My sister, niece, nephew, and a few friends were coming into town. It was a hectic week, and of course the rescued wrote twice asking if I could take in a dog. The second time I caved, and on Tuesday JayJay arrived. This dog is HIGH STRUNG!!!! (Really, his behavior warrants capital letters and the Boston Terrier owners' ever-so-loved multiple exclamation points!!!)

Despite the fact that he's got green snot coming out of his nose, the dog doesn't stop moving. My nephew was making a joke earlier in the day about a friend who makes "gnaw-gnaw-gnaw" noises when he eats, and then JayJay did just that! It was really funny. He gets very interested in the toys he's playing with - growling and whining like a maniac while trying to ground whatever it is into your leg. Bill really doesn't like him because he's always trying to hump him, and Bill prefers to be the humper. I think Bill actually bit him because after a little scuffle, JayJay came to me bleeding!

On the upside, JayJay is a very tail-waggy, loving, sweet dog who is potty trained. He's a moose, too - his head is easily twice the size of Bill's, and even though his ribs are poking out, he weighs 31 pounds (compared to Bill at a paltry 20 pounds!). I think a healthy weight for him would be closer to 34 pounds.

Yay for parents! They're watching JayJay for now, so I can get some work done and Bill can sleep. On Saturday they're taking the dogs so Dylan and I can fly a dog named Spud to his new home in Grand Junction, CO. We've never flown that route before so cross your fingers for us! Spud's new owner is very excited to get her new dog, and we're more than happy to deliver him. Oh, and I've been taking landing lessons, so even if I have to punch Dylan in the eye and knock him out on the flight, we should be good to land (just don't ask me to taxi - I almost ran into the hangar last week!)