Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Oldie but Goodie

So I got my old dog, but it wasn't the one I thought I was getting. The emergency fostered turned out to possibly be dog/cat aggressive so I requested he go to a different home (not fair to my 2 cats and Bill). Instead, I was asked to take a seven-year-old ex-puppy mill breeder who had been adopted and then returned.

The family who adopted her said they couldn't keep her because she bit their daughter. They found they couldn't potty train her so for six months, they kept her quarantined to the kitchen with their other dog. They were "so sad" that they couldn't bond with her because she had to stay in the kitchen all the time. They said she was becoming aggressive with their dog over food and bones, and that she must be blind and deaf because she walks into things all the time.

So I went into this thinking I was getting a very broken dog. Turns out, however, that there is nothing wrong with this dog. Zoye has not stopped licking me since we got her, and she's just a little cuddle bug! They said they had tried to use a diaper on her and she just walked around in circles, but I think they tried once and thought it was too hard to put the diaper on. I wasn't going to diaper her until she peed on my bed (ground for diapering), and it has been a good thing. Each time she lifts her leg (yes, she pees like a boy!), I give her a firm "no," rip off the diaper, and put her outside. I think she'll get it in time. Unless, of course, she's peeing because she just can't hold it after having about thirteen litters! I'd be peeing all over the place, too!

She's getting along great with Bill and doesn't even notice the cats. Oh, and they told me she eats and drinks so fast that she throws up everything., she doesn't. I hate to jump to conclusions, but I'm wondering if the dog in that house was terrorizing her, causing her to eat and drink fast and pee everywhere because she was so uncomfortable.

I hope we can find her a great new family who will throw her favorite squeaky cheeseburger for her all day and understand if she needs a little extra understanding about pottying. It's sad she was adopted and then returned (after six months!) but I'm glad our family will be able to give her a Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Perfect Fit for Christmas

I'm not big on Christmas gifts because I don't like the idea of a mandated day when I'm required to give someone something. Doesn't that seem kind of contrived? If I want to give someone a gift, should it matter what time of year it is? Because of the mandatory gift-giving nature of Christmas, we all end up with extra junk in our homes that we didn't want or need. I feel I'm doing people a favor by not contributing!

Okay, I'm not completely a Grinch. And to prove it I'll tell you that when the opportunity came along for me to give some strangers a wonderful gift that they really wanted, I jumped on it! An application came in for Poppi, but I was hesitant because the woman said she wanted a potty-trained dog, and that was definitely not Poppi. However, everything else on the ap looked great - three kids, stay at home mom, decent-sized yard in a nice neighborhood. I figured I should give it a try, so I sent her an email and within hours got a phone call back. In another few hours they were up at my house and Poppi seemed to be in all his glory around the kids (I think he was actually glowing!).

Their story goes that they were ready to adopt a different dog from MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue - they went out and bought all the requisite stuff for their new dog and were supposed to pick him up from the vet after his neuter, but there were complications with the procedure, and he had to go back into foster care for evaluation (sad!). So here they were, hearts broken, back on the hunt for another Boston Terrier. They had researched and planned for their perfect dog and were certainly upset about the one that didn't work out. Then they saw Poppi on and were instantly smitten.

The world works in mysterious ways, and our introduction yesterday reinforces my belief that everything happens for a reason. If you read my last post, you know that Poppi went to the wrong family and was returned within three days. Coupled with the fact that the prospective family was to get another dog but that dog had an issue preventing him from becoming theirs, I have to say that Poppi and this family were meant to be. When they walked in the door, Poppi immediately jumped up on the kids (the youngest of which was only a head taller than him). Instead of crying or screaming, the kids giggled gleefully. The mother was very nice and asked great questions (this would be their first dog), apparently reconsidering her position on potty training. We talked about belly bands and how they can help with the potty training process (and save rugs and furniture!), feeding twice a day, appropriate exercise (as much as possible, please take Poppi to the dog park a few times a week, too), and sleeping conditions (under the covers in someone's knee-pit, of course!). Poppi just wiggled his tail the whole time.

Just like with Craig a few weeks ago, when it was time to leave, Poppi went out the door and never looked back. Did it hurt my feelings? Nope, because I KNEW he was off to a new beginning and a great life with a family who had carefully considered their decision to bring a dog into their lives. Here's my PSA: Dogs and puppies are NOT something that should be given as holiday gifts unless they are planned for and the whole family is in on it, as was the case with this family.

Up next... We've got a nine-year-old female coming to stay with us. I was just thinking yesterday how much I love old dogs, and now one is coming into my life. What a wonderful Christmas present for Bill and me!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our Boston Buddy Is Back!'s what happens when the person fostering a dog doesn't thoroughly interview several potential adoptors before giving her dog up: the dog gets returned.

Poor Poppi - after only three days he was returned from his fifth home in his short year and a half life (if you count my foster home). It's good it was only three days, though, as I think he thought he went to camp. I've never seen a dog so happy to see me! He was returned because the dog in his new home kept fighting with him, which was definitely a personal (dogal?) issue with the other dog because I've had Poppi around at least 30 different dogs (including Bill) and he's done just fine. The guys who adopted him said he wouldn't eat and that he had diarrhea, which is strange because he did just fine with me. I'm guessing he knew he just wasn't in the right place. The people who tried to adopt him were very nice, and I'm sure we'll find them a dog that is a better fit, but had I gone through my usual screening process Poppi would not have had to go through this - lesson learned.

Why didn't I go through the regular process? Because these guys had adopted from us before and I was told that Poppi should go to them by our President. She clearly meant well, but just because my dog was closest to those guys didn't make him the right dog. My red flag was that these guys are about 75 years old, and Poppi's only 1.5. I don't want to see him outlive his owners (no offense, but he's been bounced around enough already). These guys should adopt an older dog. Additionally, upon meeting their dog, the dog snapped at Poppi and the dog was obese. Poppi is in great health and I don't want to see him end up that way too.

Anyway, moving on - we'll find Poppi a good new home and in the meantime enjoy him while he's here. The first thing we did was stop at some ball fields so Bill and Poppi could get reacquainted. They ran and ran, bumping into each other and playing chase; it was a joy to watch. Poppi's a great dog and he stays right by me when off leash. He's smart and pretty trustworthy, even though we've only known each other for a week. He's hiked with us a few times and he does great. No complaints here - all we need to do is get him potty trained and he'll be the perfect dog. Woof!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hoppi Poppi

The scene is replaying in my head over and over - it's kind of comical but at the same time sad. My new foster, Poppi, is running through my house (away from people), making a high-pitched moaning-crying noise. This went on for about 24 hours every time someone new would walk into the room. He was just plain terrified.

I'm not really sure why - the people who had been watching him for the past month seemed to like him. Although, I must admit, they also seemed a bit strange. In his short, 1.5 year life, Poppi had already seen three owners. First it was some guy with good intentions (maybe?). Poppi and his brother seem pretty well adjusted once they get to know you, so I'll give the guy a B- for dog rearing. That is, until he went to jail. Then Poppi and his brother went off to mom's house for 5 months. She couldn't potty train Poppi and so she dumped the two dogs on her son, who was married with a four-year-old, two dogs, and two cats of his own. That makes for a whole lot of lives in a little apartment.

So now we get to the reason why I said the brother is weird. I rolled up to our rendezvous point and the brother and his wife were already there waiting. The wife hopped out and opened the hatch of the car to give me Poppi...but Poppi wasn't there! Somehow they hadn't noticed that Poppi was already out of the car and running around the gas station. Weird thing #1.

Then I began asking questions. I didn't think they were very difficult questions for people who had a dog for a month (plus two permanent dogs of their own). They were questions like, "How many times a day does Poppi go poopie?" (Isn't it funny how "poopie" become a completely acceptable term after having dogs or kids?) Their answers always came back to: "We don't really know. We've only had him for a month." Weird thing #2.

Okay, folks. The "We don't really know" answer might fly if you had him for two days, but a month? Plus, they said he wasn't potty trained. Don't they know how much poop they're picking up off their floor? I can tell you that in the three days I had Poppi, he pooped five times and I picked it up off my floor twice (hooray for three poops outdoors!). How could they be so out of touch?

My interaction with the people who were surrendering Poppi was baffling and so I wasn't sure what I should really believe about Poppi. They said he was fine in the car, and so I didn't bring a crate, which was probably a mistake. He IS fine in the car, but on his first trip with me he was very nervous. I have a sedan and he kept jumping into the back window like a cat. At one time he even jumped from the passenger seat to the back seat via the "over the headrest" path (he could have just gone around - much easier?)

At home he wanted nothing to do with us, but I can't blame him. I immediately bathed him and then strapped on a belly band so he wouldn't pee in the house. I wouldn't like me very much either after that! However, the next day he warmed up and it turned out he was a very sweet dog.

Our rescue had a repeat adoptor in WY whose dog had just died from heart complications, so Poppi was to go live with them. My husband and I were getting ready to fly him up to his new home when I discovered a lump between his ribs and hip on is right rear quarter. Not knowing what to think of the squishy marble, I decided to postpone Poppi's trip until I could determine the cause. It took a day, but the vet got back to me and assured me that Poppi's lump was a reaction to his rabies shot. How strange! I didn't know they gave rabies shots back there, but the good news was that Poppi could go to his new home.

We'll miss Poppi's big brindle smile, but we had to make room for the next dog. Who will it be? Some rookie fosters in our area just received their first puppy mill breeders, so I'm guessing I'll be seeing one of their fosters soon (it's a lot harder to foster puppy mill breeders than many people think). For now, it's just Bill and me. We celebrated the day by hiking our favorite trail. I KNOW Bill's smile isn't just because he's panting. His skippy little steps combined with a toothy grin have me convinced that he's having more fun than anyone else on the trail.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

C-ya Craig!

I thought I would cry but as I watched my little buddy prance out the door with his new mommy and daddy I had no feelings other than joy. I realized that he knew our time together was fleeting, that we were just a stop on his journey to a better life, and it made me so happy to think he wouldn't be upset about moving on to a new home.

When Craig came to live with me he was obviously nervous. I could tell by the puke in the back of my car and the drool coming out of his mouth when he met Bill. He left two weeks later with his head held high - no more fear-biting at the dogpark (at least much less!) and no more potty accidents in the house. This is one dog who had a life-changing experience at our home, and I couldn't be prouder.

How is Bill? He's thrilled to be an only dog again. Unfortunately he and Craig didn't really hit it off, aside from some tug-of-war.

We'll take a few days to enjoy each others company and then we're on to a new dog. I think his name is Poppy, and his dad went to jail. I hope he managed to potty train Poppy before being picked up by the cops - this one should make for a good story. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 4, 2009


Craig needs to find a new home soon because I'm completely falling in love. It's funny, when I first saw him I thought, "Oh, no, a white-faced one. How ugly!" I know, that's not very nice, but I'm being honest. However, it didn't take me long to change my view - between his loving, cuddly personality, his "ass attacks" when he moves furniture across the room with his butt, and sharing in his rehabilitation (watching his emotional and physical scabs heal), I'm simply in love. As I write, he's smacking his butt against out ottoman and pushing it across the room. It's really funny!

Anyway, taking him to the dog park to help him get over his fear of other dogs has been immensely successful. For the last few days we've been completely incident-free, both on and off leash. At the dog park, he's learning to play. He's still the "fun police," barking madly when dogs get too crazy, but other than that he's doing well. He's even done the butt-in-the-air play stance a few times!

I wish I had taken a photo today, but imagine this - a big, brown, furry, shepherd dog and little, black and white, Boston Terrier Craig meet at the dog park. Next thing you know, Craig is around his backside with his head completely buried under his back legs! It was about 10 degrees outside so we figured Craig was just keeping his head warm. It was very funny!

Looks like Craig is just about ready to move on to his new home. I've no doubt that he'll be fine with other dogs and a perfect companion for his humans. Now I just have to find humans to be the perfect companion for Craig!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What a difference a leash, or lack thereof, makes

It was totally unbelievable. We went to the dog park this morning, and since nobody was there I let Bill and Craig run in the big part. Bill is always fine with the big dogs, in fact he enjoys them. Craig, on the other hand, has snapped at every dog he has sniffed. However, every time he met a dog he was either on leash or separated by a fence.

So this morning I got stuck. I was all the way in the back of the park when a man arrived with his Husky. At first I was determined to just wait it out and keep the dogs in the back. But then another guy arrived with two Labs. It was time for me to confront Craig's fears. I snapped on his leash and started walking forward, unsure whether I was better to keep the leash on or off. Well, Bill made the decision for me as he took Craig's leash out of my hand and the two of them started playing tug-of-war.

I didn't want Craig so riled up, so I got the leash out of Bill's mouth and eventually took it off Craig, just hoping for the best. It turned out to be a good decision! Aside from some initial growling, Craig started playing! He did great until they started chasing him. He got frightened and just started running faster, and you know what happens then...the dogs just chase after him faster! This went on for a few laps until I could get a hold of him. It was a step backwards but I don't think it completely destroyed the progress we had made. We stayed for a bit to try and make some new, happy memories for Craig to leave with and then headed out to the car. Overall, I would say this dog park trip was a big success.

What is "fine," really?

In my last post I mentioned that Craig was fine with other dogs after an initial growly greeting, but now I'm not so sure. He's a tough case, not unlike my previous dog-aggressive foster, Olivia, who got me in a bit of trouble by attacking another dog a few months ago.

Craig seems different, though. For one, he's not as smart as Olivia. She was extra intelligent which made her antsy and competitive with other dogs. She had to outdo the biggest dog in the park by making him submit. She'd greet dogs just fine and then randomly snap. I don't think her aggression stemmed from a bad experience with other dogs in her past, it was more likely from pent-up energy due to living in a dark apartment for the first year of her life.

Craig appears to have been attacked by other dogs. I believe this because his first reaction when a dog approaches, no matter what the dog, is to snap. It's like he need to get the first word in because he doesn't want to hear what "terrible things" the other dog has to say. When he first met Bill, the initial few seconds were kind of weird. He was growling, drooling, and whining at the same time, and his tail was going a hundred miles a minute. I chalked it up to nerves because he had just be taken from his home, and he hadn't frequently been in a car before. Within seconds he and Bill were buddies, or at least Craig busied himself trying to dominate Bill from behind...for HOURS on end.

Since being neutered, the humping has completely subsided (yay!). Back when he was a humper, Bill would snap at him, giving him the perfect opportunity to escalate a fight, but Craig never did. This is another interesting piece to the puzzle and it makes me think that Craig doesn't want to fight at all, he just doesn't know how to properly introduce himself.

So we're working on it. Yesterday he hiked with me on a heavily dog-populated trial. Each time a dog would approach, I'd squat down with Craig and tell him it's okay. If he'd start growling I'd immediately give him my "no" noise (a sharp "at ah"). We made it past most of the dogs without any issues beyond Craig's obvious discomfort, but he did snap a few times. We'll work on it some more today. I'm hoping to find a big, neutral dog at the dog park who I can introduce Craig to off leash, because the leash may be part of the problem. I firmly believe that if I can introduce Craig to a few dogs without incident we can get beyond his discomfort and he'll enjoy being able to play.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Boston Terrier TAIL!

You've got to see it to believe it. My new foster, Craig, has a tail that's about six inches long! He's also got a white face with some black "eye shadow" over one eye and floppy, spotted ears. At first I questioned whether he was truly a Boston, but he is - his "off" markings and features are just a sign of bad breeding.

But that doesn't make him bad. In fact, everyone who sees him finds his uniqueness endearing. He's a healthy, one-year-old boy who is loving, cuddly, and fine with other dogs(after the initial growly, whiny meeting). The only bad thing about Craig is that he's humptastic! The first day he came to stay with us he humped Bill for 3.5 hours until I discovered the magic of the spray bottle (now I just have to touch the bottle and he stops immediately).

Craig's story is a sad one, having been born in Mexico (I think) to a backyard breeder. His mom died shortly thereafter because of a lack of medical care, and his littermates perished as well (a testament to Craig's strength). His dad is with another MABTR foster now, but for the last year, he and his dad have lived in a yard in Denver. Uh...Denver weather is all over the place and Bostons are most certainly not equipped to deal with it (not that any dog should ever be left in the yard because they shouldn't). So it's no surprise that one of Craig's favorite pastimes is sniffing all around my house - he may never have been in one before. Nevertheless, he's shockingly well-mannered and well-socialized with humans. I'm letting him sleep in bed with us, and I think he believes he died and went to heaven!

After his neuter yesterday, he quickly bounced back to his old self, and we're ready to start training him on commands. He's not food motivated, but I did find one thing he loves - CHEESE! Shaved Parmesan cheese, of all things! Easy enough, but I wish I could find a type of dog food he likes. He's a very light eater. I was making potato salad last night and he was very excited about eating the warm potatoes. Believe it or not, he preferred them to the chicken I was also feeding him!

Craig's a great foster and I'm sure he'll find his new home soon. He's definitely one I'm going to miss!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Boudicca the Celtic Warrior Pooper

This last Boston Terrier foster was another quickie, but we were not without adventure! Here's the background:

I received a call asking if I would take a seven-month-old Boston Terrier who had been dumped at the shelter with her brother and sister. Did you know shelters have night drop boxes? Well that's where these dogs landed. I can't imagine what the night was like for them because the two sisters are constantly at each other's throats... literally. Because of their mutual aggression, the shelter deemed them unadoptable. So the boy went off to his new life and the girls were sent to us at MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue (instead of being euthanized - yay!).

I met Jami, our Colorado rescue coordinator, at a gas station to do the hand-off. Little did I know she was going to give me a choice. Which sister would I like? Ugh. One was emaciated with poop hanging off her butt. The other was stocky and healthy-looking. Both were a little sketchy around Bill - unsure if they should play or attack. I guess can't blame them; if I spent my whole life fighting for resources, I would probably be leery, too.

I usually go for the most needy dogs, but this time I took the healthier one. The reason was that the other one needed knee surgery in Denver, which is about a half hour drive for me, so it just made more sense for her to go to a foster in Denver. It turns out I chose wisely...

It wasn't three hours later when Jami called to say she had been bit! Luna, the skinny sister, continuously attacked Jami's dogs and finally turned on Jami. Luckily she had baby teeth, but Jami sure had her hands full.

I hung up the phone thinking I was lucky that Maya, the stocky sister, was totally normal. It only took a few more minutes for her to prove me wrong, though, when she lunged at Bill. This happened four times in the few days I had her, and it was always over a bone or a person.

Maya was also slightly sketchy at the dog park, but it became easy to predict if she was going to get "toothy." When the energy at the park escalated and she started barking, I knew it was time to get her leashed and refocused, which seemed to work well.

I thought I would have to rehome her to a place where she would be the only dog, but I got an application from the perfect family with an adult Boxer who could put her in her place. The mom, Susan, automatically noticed Maya's bossiness (now Boudicca, the Celtic Warrior Queen), and is working with her accordingly. From what I hear, everything is going swimmingly.

Ah, puppies.I think Boudicca left about 12 reminders of why I prefer older dogs and not puppies, but thanks to my carpet shampooer, the only place that is forever stained is my mind. With the carpets cleaned and the toys put away, Bill and I are ready for a new challenge, which we hope will involve a nine-year-old in need. Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Watch out for Steroids

After putting my most recent foster, Toby, on steroids, I've learned they can definitely be a doubled-edged sword. After two days his itching stopped but shaking and fearful behavior began.

There are two kinds of steroids - anabolic and anti-inflammatory - the latter of which is most common for pet use. According to, steroids are prescribed for: allergies, spinal inflammation, brain swelling and inflammation, immune mediated diseases, inflammation from arthritis, stomach and intestinal inflammation.

Toby had a very bad yeast infection on his skin. We tried to manage it with Cephalexin and Benedryl, but found that the antibiotic and antihistamine weren't enough. We bathed him with Pyoben, and although it's more for bacteria than yeast, it seemed to offer some relief. Then we changed his medication to Prednisone and Clavamox, a steroid and a stronger antibiotic.

The switch seemed to work well, and the itching finally subsided. However, I started noticing that Toby would cower after getting about 20 feet from my house on a walk. If we drove somewhere to go walking, he would immediately want to get back in the car. He would lay in his bed and shake, and his nervous tail-wagging turned into just nervousness without the wag. I was having the hardest time figuring out what was going on until I remembered his change in meds.

Needless to say we cut his dosage back immediately. With steroids it's important not to stop them cold turkey (at least that's my understanding), so we reduced him from two per day to one per day for five days, and then we cut him back to one every other day. The shaking subsided, and while he was still fearful, our walks became more successful.

Toby is now on to his new family. His "dad" is a vet student and will surely do a good job handling his meds. Oh, and he's got a nine-month-old little "brother" now, too! This family is perfect for Toby and I wish them all well - he deserves the best home with no other dogs sitting on his head (yes - believe it or not, Bill was not the one getting his head sat on this time around!). The family who adopted Toby also deserves a great dog. I'm excited they found each other...

...And now Bill and I are off to our next adventure! We'll be picking up Foster #17 (don't know her name) tomorrow! She's a seven-month-old Boston who was dumped at a shelter. I swore I'd never take a puppy, so this is going to be a real challenge. I'll let you know how it goes. Pray for me!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Hot Couple!

I couldn't resist posting one more Halloween photo. Fosters are so much fun! Toby is the jailbird and Bill is his "lady." Yes, my dog not only humps indiscriminately, but he's also a cross-dresser. Hey, we live in Boulder, CO! Would you expect any less?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Socializing a Mill Dog with Children

Bill is terrified of children. I don't know if there were kids at the puppy mill who tormented him or if it was from the brief stint at a "forever family" with a child (who subsequently returned him within a week because he wouldn't play ball).

Anyway, to help Bill get over his fear of children, I've been taking to my friend Mandy's house frequently. Her children (six and nine) have learned the proper care and handling of dogs, even fearful ones, and they are the best kids to socialize Bill with. Since he generally struggles in other people's homes, we first went to Mandy's house when no kids were home so he could get comfortable with his surroundings. After he started roaming around her house without fear, I began bringing him there when the kids were home. He still shakes a little, but Xander and Ella (the kids) know to approach slowly and pet him under his chin. Last time we went I even saw his tail up once!

It's a slow road but definitely worthwhile. He used to put at least 20 feet between himself and any child when out on the trail or at the dogpark, but these days I see him only carefully watching them as he passes and then following behind to sniff at them. Of course, if they turn around, he's jumping backwards. But it's progress nonetheless.

Now for some fun: Mandy had an extra Halloween costume for my foster, Toby! We chose a jailbird suit and Toby didn't seem to mind it all all (though you can't tell from this picture). I had already bought a lobster costume for Bill, and I was shocked when we actually walked around the house with this doofy stuffed lobster on his back. So cute!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow Cute!

People often say, "Wow! You've really done a great job with him. It must have been hard." Honestly, over the last year-and-a-half that we've been rehabilitating our ex-mill dog, Bill, there have been times when I thought he was never going to become a "dog." When he sat in his bed for three months and cowered each time I tried to walk him, I thought, "Maybe Bill would be happier with an older person who isn't active."

I'm so glad I persevered. Days like today make it all worthwhile. Toby, our foster, opted to stay in the car when we arrived at the dog park. But Bill had a blast! (photo credits: Dennis Duffy. Bill's got a fan club. I wish my parent's liked me as much as they like him!).

One tough cookie!

I never thought my professional career would lead to "Dog Tilt-A-Whirl Operator"

Fostering a Love for Snow

Bill and his buddy, Lucy, playing in the snow

Depending on the breed you foster and where you live, taking in dogs during the winter can be hard. With Bostons, it can go either way, but for a small breed they are pretty darn tough so the winter weather is usually not too challenging.

Luckily my new foster, Toby, doesn't mind the snow in the yard. In fact, he marches right in and does his thing. Bill, on the other hand, has taken to peeing on his feet on our patio (when is he going to learn!).

On the downside, Toby's got a skin and ear infection. I hope the mail trucks get out today - oh, back up, the fact that we got two feet of snow over the last day is integral to this story - Toby's ear medicine is in the mail from rescue and he really needs it. If you've never had a dog with an ear infection, it's pretty miserable. He's trying to stuff his whole paw in his ear and he keeps shaking his head vigorously. Curing it is easy, though, just a week or two of ear drops twice a day.

On the other hand, his skin will take much longer. We don't really know what caused the infection, but a cocktail of Benedryl and Cephilixin (sp?) twice daily should clear it up in a few months. He's also getting a weekly medicated bath, and luckily he's not too bad in the tub.

The point of all this is that I feel bad for Toby that he's not feeling well and has to go for walks in such cold weather. I feel bad for Bill, too, because he would spend the whole day at the dogpark, running in the snow, given the opportunity. I guess we'll leave Toby at home for that one today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

Yay! We've got ourselves a new foster - our sweet sixteenth! His name is Toby, though I don't think he knows it. How can you live with a family for 5 months and know the "sit" command, but not respond to your name? Did these people not talk to him?

Toby was found roaming the streets of Colorado with a microchip that indicated he was from Arizona. But... that's all the info the microchip gave - the family never registered it! Sad - they lost a great dog.

Anyway, the family who found him kept him for five months but then decided they didn't have time for him. I find this so sad - he's a very friendly, licky dog who gets along great with everyone. He's two years old and a lot of fun. On top of that, he plays crazy but know how to settle down.

Toby's not perfect, though. With this guy I'm battling a skin yeast infection, ear infection, and some very strange howling. The shelter didn't send any meds with him so we'll be seeing the vet tomorrow. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Bug Who Squashed Our Hearts

I rehomed Penny, who we lovingly call "Bug," faster than any other foster we have ever had. It wasn't that I didn't like her (because she instantly stole our hearts and was a great playmate for Bill). Instead, I wanted to find her a new home quickly because I was concerned that if I didn't, she would never leave.

The extent of our roommate's attachment to her wasn't apparent until he came home to her absence and looked like he was about to cry! Here's a guy who thrives on irresponsibility - no tie-downs and lots of time out with friends. But - it seems he was bit by the Love Bug! A week later he's still fawning over her memory, often mentioning that she's the latest girl to break his heart.

I'm sorry he's sad, but I'm not remorseful about her new digs - he's never home enough to have a dog and I would have ended up caring for her. Additionally, as is often the problem with "foster failure," if we kept her we could no longer foster (too many animals at the zoo!). Instead Bug will be living the rest of her life with very conscientious parents and a spunky Chi brother. I think she'll be happy, and if she's not, they know our door is always open for her.

This one was hard to let go of - fond memories of this nine-pound "Little Bug" have left a hundred-pound impact on our hearts.

But now we're on to Rocky, number 15...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tummy Ache

Tummy aches in dogs always scare me because:

a) I'm a hypochondriac when it comes to my dog
b) My dog can't talk and so he can't tell me exactly what's wrong
c) There have been so many food recalls it seems like nothing is safe anymore

Uh, all of the above. I rarely go to the doctor for myself but have been to the vet several times this year for Bill. Bill's got a lump in his throat... (Oh, those are lymph nodes?) Bill's got a bump on his leg... (Oh, that's a bug bite?) Bill's got a lump on his shoulder... (Oh, that's just a normal reaction from his vaccine?) And on and on we go - the truth is that my boy Bill does produce quite a few random bumps, and since Boston's are prone to mast cell tumors I guess I'm not that crazy to get them checked out.

Anyway, back to the stomachache (does that word look weird or am I nuts? Spellcheck says it's fine). He seems fine, running and playing like usual, but his explosive you-know-what is telling me otherwise. He spent a few hours at the grandparent's house last night, and this morning I fed him a new wet food called "Core." I don't know if they fed him something that didn't agree, there is something wrong with this new food, or maybe he just ate too many sticks. Then again, if sticks were the culprit, wouldn't the fiber be more likely to make him backed up?

Well, we'll have to wait and see. It could be the dog flu but he's not vomiting and I don't think his nose is particularly runny. I didn't find much information online in my quick search about what to do for a tummy ache, but from being in rescue I know we can give dogs Bismuth Subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol). Apparently it can be fatal for cats. If you give it to your dog, be sure to read up on the right dosage first.

For now it looks like we're just in for a stinky night. Hold your nose... I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Difficult Dog Loves Camille

These picture were too cute not to post - welcome back, Camille!

The Return of Camille, and Some Advice for Difficult Dogs

I'm not sure if you remember, but a few months ago my husband was featured in the Daily Camera (our local Boulder newspaper) for flying a dog to Cheyenne, WY, with Pilots and Paws (a non-profit animal transport organization). Well, the flight went fine, but now that dog is back in our foster care! Turns out her mom got sick and could no longer care for her.

Honestly, I don't mind. Camille is the complete opposite of my shy puppy mill-breeder Bill, so it's kind of fun to watch them play together. She's not the smartest dog I've ever met, but what she lacks in brains she makes up for in sweetness. Plus, her white areas are spotted - how cool is that!

Now on to important things...

Last week, my friend Shelley forwarded me an email that was sent to her by an animal behaviorist and I found it very helpful. In case you have a dog who is shy and afraid of humans, I wanted to share. Here's what Shelley wrote:

After having him for almost a year, he does not want to be touched or picked up. He will tolerate me petting him when he can't get away (on lead) but otherwise runs if I get within about 2 ft. of him. He's scared enough that sometimes when he's running, goes to the bathroom. Treats don't work because when he's scared, they mean nothing to him. He walks well on lead and off. He stays right by my side. He is not aggressive in any way, nor does he guard his food. He does well with other dogs but hangs out from a distance and does really understand "play." He could not go down stairs when I got him and after two months of carrying him up and down, we finally conquered it. Anyway, I would just love to help him get over his fear of human touch. He's made so much progress in every other way. Any suggestions?

And here's what the behaviorist, Trish McMillan, with the ASPCA, wrote back:

I'm glad you found our article helpful and sorry your puppy mill rescue is still afraid of you. This is the reason the ASPCA works so hard to shut down puppy mills - these horrible places cause such psychological damage to the dogs that some of them will never be normal. If you still can't touch your dog after a year, he's likely one of these, so you'll need to adjust your expectations and timeline, and take things in super-small baby steps.

The key in working with extremely terrified dogs like yours is to remove all social pressure (stop trying to pet him) and let him approach at his own speed. I know how hard this is - you didn't get a dog to be an ornament, but trust me, forcing your attention on him is only going to slow things down.

Here's how desensitization and counterconditioning works:
Desensitization and Counterconditioning

This is a technique behaviorists use to teach dogs that things they formerly disliked are actually predictors of their favorite things in the world.

The best exercise I've found for working with the truly terrified is the "cookie person" exercise described in the article. Simply sit on the floor and scatter truly delicious treats all around you. The Natural Balance treat logs are good, since most dogs love them and they can be used to replace part of your dog's daily ration. If your dog is at all overweight (you can't feel his ribs without digging), cut down his regular food so that he'll be hungry. If you have other dogs, block them out of the room for this exercise.

If you're reading a book or watching TV, you can avoid eye contact entirely. Just let your dog approach and take treats, over and over, without you looking, talking or reaching. Gradually scatter the treats closer and closer to you, until he's able to take treats from your hand. This may take days, weeks or even months. No big deal. Be patient and don't frighten the dog.

Once he is taking treats from your hand you can start putting treats on your body as well, so he starts getting into your lap. Or hold your other hand just over his head, so you're almost touching him as he takes the treat. Gradually (again, may take weeks or months) you'll be able to touch your dog. This article describes the process, but again, this is likely going to be months in the future. Don't rush it!

The shy k9s mailing list is an excellent resource - there are many people out there going through the same sorts of things, and these guys are extremely supportive.

One of my articles describing the "cookie person" exercise in more detail is posted here.

If you are cornering your dog in order to leash him for walks several times a day (lots of scary social pressure!) you may be undoing all this work. Try to think of ways to make leashing as untraumatic as possible. Some people leave a very light drag line on their dogs while they're home so you can just pick up the line when you need to take him out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Awareness Day and Bill's Buffalo Adventure

Puppy Mill Awareness Day in Lancaster, PA, was a great event, but I think it would have been more effective if it were in downtown Philadelphia. Essentially it was a festival to raise awareness about puppy mills, but I saw it as more of a networking event for rescuers - the majority of the 1500 people who went clearly already knew about, and were involved with dog rescue.

What really hit me was the vastness of farmland in the Lancaster area and how easy it would be to stash puppies, illegal substances, or whatever back on those farms where no one would ever find out about it. According to investigative groups, there are HUNDREDS of puppy mills in that area. I got to thinking about that and it became so profound that I could almost hear the puppies suffering as I drove through the countryside. But, what really sealed the deal for me at the end of the day was, as I was driving out of town, I found myself behind an open Amish buggy with two men behind the reins and a dog in a 2 x 2 chicken wire cage in the back. It was as though they were mocking us, saying, "Ha! Everyone knows the suffering is real - but you can't touch us!" Well, guys, I've got a message for you. With the number of passionate people working to END the suffering - we will get to you sooner or later.

On a lighter note, my homecoming was great. Bill has recently taken up playing with a squeaky blue buffalo before bed, and last night we had about an hour long game of fetch. My husband thought he needed more of a challenge, so he started throwing the buffalo behind our plant stand, and then into our closet. Bill is already very tentative about picking it up (we play the slowest, gentlest games of fetch ever). When the buffalo got under the plant or in the closet, the game took on a whole new speed: dead stop. Bill just stood there for what seemed like ten minutes, barking and growling at his prey.

The closet was the best - we were very patient and just kept saying, "Go get it!" Finally after much barking and growling, Bill went into the closet... And a minute later came out with a sock! He just stood on the floor, staring at us as if to ask, "This is a buffalo, right?" We laughed but kept telling him to go get it. Finally our patience paid off and Bill emerged victorious with his blue buffalo.

I'm wondering if this new step in his recovery from being an unsocialized puppy mill breeder is because I've been putting an herbal tincture, Rescue Remedy, in his water. Either way, Bill is almost a whole dog, and things are becoming VERY fun.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bill the Protector

I couldn't help but share this - last night I dreamed that my dear little Bill turned into a winged gargoyle protector when I needed him to, and his super power was... Peeing on people! He could shoot from across the room!

Yesterday was my favorite day of the year, the day Dylan (hubby) and I go down to the Nan Desu Kan anime convention in Denver. If you don't know what anime is, check out Cartoon Network late night sometime. Essentially it's animation from Japan, often geared towards adults (there is plenty for kids, too, to ensure lifetime addicts). Anime has been my husband and my favorite form of entertainment for years now, but nothing compares to the convention. Think of a Star Trek convention but instead of Trekkies, there are thousands of teens dressed up as their favorite cartoon superheros. It's way better than Halloween.

Anyway, it (or maybe the two drinks too many that I had)clearly had an impact on my dreams. I was some kind of special type of human that could battle these bad guys and had a Boston Terrier - gargoyle protector (Bill, of course). He would look like a normal dog, doing normal dog things, until we got in the vicinity of one of the bad guys I had to battle, and then suddenly he would grow into this giant gargoyle who "peed" people to death.

Things started to get very strange - I can't remember if I was supposed to protect or battle this baby that turned out to have super powers (her mom didn't know). Then there was some crazy rock slide at the Flatirons (Boulder mountains) that almost crushed me, but of course I had to run up and see if I could set off a second one (definitely not my waking demeanor).

In the end, I remember following a guy back to his base or something - he was supposed to be my friend, but then he turned on me. Literally - his body got really rubbery and he fit through this space I couldn't fit through, leaving me to battle some crazy woman myself.

Just at the moment when things were looking very bad for me, my real Bill decided it was time for him to wake me up. Go Bill!

I wish I could draw, but I'll have to leave this one up to your imagination.Just think of a giant Boston Terrier with wings, who pees on people, and you'll be right there with me!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dog on the Lamb

Actually, nobody is on the lamb - but Livi is on the way to her new home. That's #14 foster, folks - in only 1.5 years. Not too bad, huh? They each have their own unique challenges and charms, but I think Livi's challenge is the most difficult for the town I live in - Boulder "dog on every corner" Colorado.

So Livi is extremely unpredictable around other dogs. Actually, I shouldn't say it that way because I can easily predict that after some period of time at the dog park, Livi will find a dog she wants to eat. Little or big, there's always someone who looks like a tasty meal.

Honestly, I don't think she's trying to eat them - she just really doesn't know how to play. My faith in her is where I got into trouble. She had been doing fine for a few days, and so I had relaxed a bit. Then, all of a sudden, she decided to harass the wrong dog. The owner clearly hadn't been around dog parks much, and she immediately called animal control on me, complaining that I can't try to resolve my foster dog's issues at the expense of other dogs. Yes, I agreed and apologized. I guess that wasn't good enough for her, and this morning I found myself standing in front of a judge - seriously.

What a trip! I can truthfully say that I barely even received detention in school, so naturally I was distraught about going to court. My good friend Mandy came with me for moral support, and we actually ended up having a great time. In my mind, we went to see a play and tickets were $25 each (I was buying).

To prep for the show, Mandy looked up the statue and I called the court, baffled about why I couldn't just pay my fine via mail. They explained that I had to come in and talk with a judge and a District Attorney, who would give me options. Options? Like paying my fine and going back to bed? Yes, she said. Okey-dokey.

At court this morning I asked around as to why others were there, and the were almost all college students with alcohol-related charges. The guy next to me lost his best friend's passport when the bouncer asked him "his" middle name and he didn't know it! (Come on, the first rule of fake ID use is to know what it says!) Finally it was my turn and the judge called my name. I almost started laughing at the irony - the last time my named was called through a microphone was two weeks earlier when I received my master's degree. In retrospect, given the choice, I would take the court "ceremony" over the master's degree one because it was much shorter and more interesting!

Anyhoo, the judge asked how I would plead, and I said, "Guilty." (If I said "not guilty" I would have had to go to trial... for a $50 fine!). She asked if I had anything else to say, and I said,"Yes." I went on to explain that Livi was my foster, she scared a dog with her version of play, and then I put her right back on leash. I apologized and said I didn't mind paying the fine, but was very confused as to why I had to come to court. The judge agreed, and waived my court fees as I had hoped she would. The fine was then paid and the mission accomplished - almost.

A woman was coming to meet Livi at 3:30, maybe to adopt her. She sounded just perfect - a young runner who was interested in agility and would be committed to training Livi. Would she like her?

Success! Livi's new mom loved her, and what's not to love? (Except the dog aggression, that is). She took Livi home, and let's cross our fingers that they live happily ever after. Do Bill and I miss her already? Sure, but we were VERY happy to go on a hike and celebrate our new-found freedom!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Boston Terrier "Book Report"

So much to say about my foster Olivia, but I'll get back to that next week - sit tight. I hate to be a tease, but I'll just say that I have to go to court on Thursday because of her...

On to the fun stuff! The Denver Boston Terrier Meetup Group threw us a great Boston Terrier book launch party at Sid's Doggie Lounge and Nightclub. It was so cool! First, the setting couldn't have been better. The Doggie Lounge is in Englewood, CO. It's a dog daycare owned by a behaviorist, and the dog's that are boarded there aren't crated. The play area is like a hockey rink, and is indoor/outdoor with fun kiddie pools for the pups.

About 40 people and their Bostons showed for the event. It was non-stop fun! There was a Boxer that looked like an overgrown Boston, and an actual overgrown Boston (he must have been 50 lbs - can you imagine?)! The usual suspects showed up including lots of MidAmerica Boston Terrier rescues, and of course Lowrey's husband and friends, my husband, and my parents were there to give us support.

After a champagne toast, Lowrey and I read our favorite stories from the book (I Only Have Eyes for You and Gotcha Day Wish). We signed autographs, but the most fun was when people wanted the book signed to their dogs, and so, of course, Bill "signed" it! (Bill, in true form, spent most of the time sitting under the table or on my feet, allowing his fans to adore him from a distance).

Thanks to everyone who made this event great! We're looking forward to the Golden Retriever book launch party next on the 26th - hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Oh - Livia!

It seems like so many of the stories in the "Lost Souls: Found!" series of books start out with "I was having dinner when I received the call..." or, "It was late one night when the call came in..." Well, now I've got my own evening rescue adventure to talk about.

It was just about dinner time when the call from my rescue group came: had I connected with the woman who rescued Olivia? No, I hadn't - but it was not for lack of trying. The woman I was supposed to talk with was involved with turtle rescue (I didn't even know that existed!). She went to rescue a turtle from a woman who had chronic migraines and lived in the dark. When she arrived at the house, she found that there was also a Boston Terrier living there who appeared to be somewhat uncared for and WIRED. The dog was jumped around excitedly at the site of her - trembling, barking, licking/biting, and spinning in circles - what was going on with this dog?

The rescuer was able to get a twofer that day - take one turtle and get a dog that allegedly eats couches for free. But now what? Enter MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue. Our coordinator, Jami, requested I contact the woman, which I did, but I never heard back. Finally, Jami talked to her and I came to find out that the woman was avoiding me because she didn't like to drive. What? She was less than an hour away and I had offered to meet her halfway. Come on!

I've been called many things in my life, often unflattering adjectives having to do with my East Coast heritage. On this day I'm sure the woman was calling me abrasive (or worse) behind my back, because I called her up and promptly said, "Hi, this is Kyla from MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue. I hear you didn't call me back because you don't like to drive? Well, here I am. I'll meet you halfway in a half an hour." Done and done.

I've also been called Supergirl, as was my character in the circus I recently performed in with my mom, Carol, who is now known as "Old Lady Wonderwoman." We slipped right back into our roles, and Supergirl and Wonderwoman zoomed up to Longmont to pick up our new dog-in-need... Uh... Knowing nothing, really, about the dog-in-need we were picking up. (So much for planning - I hope she doesn't eat my cats!)

We met the woman in a truckstop and quickly made the exchange. Livy and Bill had the usual introduction - Livy sitting on Bill's head followed by Bill trying to eat her. No problem - we do that every time. The rest of the ride home, Wonderwoman reverted from superhero to super-mom, cooing softly to Olivia and comforting her in her new situation.

After a few days I'm finally learning what Livy is all about. First, she's the smartest dogs I've ever fostered (sorry, Bill). Her release paperwork said she didn't know any commands. I told her to sit, she sat. I told her to come, she came. I told her to jump up on the picnic table, she did, and then she got down as soon as I told her to. Uh - either I missed my calling as a dog trainer or the person who had this dog for the last six months didn't really know her at all.

We've only got six months of history on Livy. We know that she lived in a dark house with the chronic migraine lady, and surely didn't get much exercise. She's 2.5 years old. Her previous owners are a mystery but one thing is for sure - Livy was beat by a man. I know this because she spent two days growling at my husband and our roommate, and was fine with my dad until he picked up a stick to throw for Bill, which caused her some kind of psychedelic relapse.

While she's the smartest dog I've met, she's also the most terrifying, as she has shown some pretty scary aggressive behavior towards small dogs. She's not a bad dog, she just hasn't been properly socialized. Coupled with her unbridled "enthusiasm," she's a ticking time bomb that I need to diffuse.

Next time I post I'll talk about the techniques I've been using to help Livy gain confidence and settle down.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bye-bye, Odie-Pie!

Odie is on his way home tonight. I won't miss him marking on the corner of my bed, but he has been a lot of fun. He lives in an apartment that doesn't have many stairs, so getting up and down ours has been a challenge for him. He's so funny because he's a stocky little dog and he looks like he's going to tumble, even when he's walking. Going up and down stairs is no less comical, but he seems to have figured it out.

Bye-bye, Odie-Pie! We'll miss you (well, at least I will - don't know about Bill!).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Same, But Different

They're both ex-puppy mill breeder Boston Terriers who are three-and-a-half years old. But that is where the similarity ends.

Odie, one of our rescues who has found a home but needed some dog-sitting this week, is a red Boston with amber eyes and a very dominant personality. My dog Bill is black and white with mocha eyes and a very patient, concerned personality. He's not dominant, but he's definitely not submissive.

Odie is an in-your-face kind of guy who really wants attention. He likes to be handled and licks my face. Bill, instead, watches from a distance. He, too, would like to feel loved, but he's just not sure how to.

Odie loves toys and can play for hours. Bill will play with you on his own time.

Thought they both were neutered as adults, Odie marks and Bill doesn't.

The same, but very different - each with their own cuteness, and their own eccentricities. What's nice is how much they can learn from each other! Bill played with toys this morning, and yesterday Odie learned to swim!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sneak Peek at our Upcoming Dachshund Book

No fosters this week, so I thought I would give you a sneak preview of our upcoming Dachshund book. Here's one of our first edits entitled "Katrina's Little Angel."

Angel was rescued by a group of volunteers that traveled from Texas to Louisiana many times during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. On one of the search-and-rescue trips, the volunteers discovered a puppy mill in an old out-building of abandoned property. The storm had flooded the property and reached as high as seven feet inside the building. Crates were stacked from floor to ceiling, and unfortunately everyone below the waterline had drowned.

Angel and her brother Dominick were in one of the top crates. When the water receded, the crates shifted and theirs fell to the ground. Dominick got lucky and landed on his sister, which broke his fall. Unfortunately for Angel, this caused a traumatic back injury. Additionally, days without food or water made the pair so weak that when rescuers arrived, they thought Angel and Dominick were dead. Their survival could only have been a miracle!

The dogs were brought to safety at a makeshift shelter in Lafayette, LA, where workers determined that Angel’s injury would, indeed, require medical attention. Volunteers transported the pair to Beaumont, TX, where they were evaluated by a vet. A kind couple then ferried them across a lake to Houston, where they spent the night with a volunteer. The next day, Dominick was taken to San Antonio to reside in foster care with Diamond Dachshund Rescue. Angel continued on to a surgeon in Austin and was cared for by All Texas Dachshund Rescue. She underwent extensive spinal surgery the following morning.

This young, beautiful, black-and-tan piebald “angel” touched the hearts of everyone she met. Angel’s Houston transport volunteer was so taken by her that she offered to foster Angel through her rehabilitation. Angel recovered well but needed lots of therapy and acupuncture following her surgery. After months of hard work and expensive therapy Angel wiggled her way into her foster mom’s heart. Now Angel’s “forever” mom, she can’t imagine life without her.

While Hurricane Katrina devastated many areas of the South, it actually may have saved Angel and Dominick’s lives. Had it not struck, they would most likely still be stuck in a cage at that puppy mill. Angel’s strength and will to survive is a testament to all of the tireless volunteers who helped during Hurricane Katrina. Their work has not gone unnoticed, especially by two little dogs whose lives would have been lost if not for their selfless efforts. -Anonymous

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Jersey Dog...

...and I don't mean "Jersey" as in the state. Nope, this one looks like a cow. She's black and white with a udder and swayback - just like a cow!

(Ruth: "Who You Callin' A Cow?")

I don't mean to insult our new foster, Ruth, it's just that she looks like a miniature cow! She is super sweet and amazingly well adjusted considering she spent the last four years of her life in a cage as a puppy mill breeder. Her poor belly hangs so low that it almost knocks her over when she walks, and the closest she can get to a run is a moderately fast waddle. When she stands for any period of time, she starts leaning and almost falls over, until she corrects herself and then starts falling over to the other side.

Probably the cutest thing so far, though, is the way she tries to play. Since she was literally introduced to a cage-free world less than a week ago, she really doesn't know what to do with herself. That doesn't stop her from putting in a valiant effort to act like a dog. Imagine this: Ruth walks up next to Bill, and whacks her front paws on the floor with her butt up in the air, giving him a sideways glare and inviting him to play. Bill, being a little "off" himself, does the mirror image back to her, as if to say, "No, you come get me!"

Next is Ruth's turn... same thing again. And then Bill... And then Ruth... And then Bill...

You get the picture. It's like some sort of convoluted Irish "Riverdance" and it goes on until they notice me laughing at them. I don't think either will ever "attack," so the dance could go on for hours. Dog dancing fans, you've never seen this! Bill and Ruth are choreographers, and they don't even need a human!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Air Camille

Yesterday my husband, Dylan, and I took our first flight for Pilots N Paws, a non-profit that does air transport for rescue dogs. My husband has been a pilot for a few years now and was excited about the idea that he could do something nice for the dogs while keeping his hours in the air current. It's a great idea for pilots and it works out positively for everyone.

I was apprehensive to say the least. I mean, a dog in a Sessna? Isn't that loud? What if they throw up? We bought a pair of Mutt Muffs to reduce the noise for the dogs we transport, but I still wasn't sure how it would go. Those planes are pretty loud!

So the day finally came that our foster, Camille, needed a lift from Boulder, CO to Cheyenne, WY. No problem! We'll take her in the plane! It all sounded good until we actually had to do it. Yup, there was that apprehension again. To make things worse, the Daily Camera decided they wanted to do a story on Pilots N Paws, so they would come out and shoot photos, which made Dylan nervous too!

Turns out the nerves were for nothing. The day couldn't have gone smoother! First, Camille tried to eat her Mutt Muffs, but once she understood that Mutt Muffs weren't food, she did great! All I got was a little drool on my sleeve, and she got a smooth flight to Cheyenne.

Her family was there waiting when we landed, and they were thrilled to meet her. She immediately rolled around in the grass to show them how much fun she is. I think they will all be very happy together.

Are we taking Bill up in the plane next? Probably not... he's a dog who is afraid of the Nintendo noise. Maybe we'll break him in by playing plane noises on the TV all day so he gets used to it. Do you think he'll be able to tell the difference?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Secret Shopper Foster Dog

So, she doesn't snore, there's nothing leaking out of her (add body part here), she hasn't bitten anyone, she hasn't attacked the cats (although she has tried to play with them), she wrestles with Bill for hours, she's not on medication, she doesn't cower when I approach (in fact, she runs up to me!), she's potty trained....

....what kind of foster dog is this?! She's too perfect! I think she's a secret agent, or maybe secret shopper, reporting back on how many pieces of cheese and turkey we actually provide each day. I mean, she must be! She's got to be making some kind of living to have gold toenails (yup, they're gold! Never seen that before...)

I'll give her an extra piece of cheese today to ensure I get 100% on her secret shopper survey. Her name is Camille, and I'd say you can meet her, but I think she has already made plans out on the town with some new friends it looks like she found!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dog Parks and Socialization are so Important for ex-Puppy Mill Dogs

As I watch Bill run gleefully through the dog park I think back to where we were at a year ago, when he was first released from the puppy mill. The changes in him have truly been remarkable. For the fist several months with us Bill just wouldn't move. He sat in his bed with no light in his eyes, and we had to carry him outside to go potty (he had no problem bolting right back inside to his bed, though). I had been thinking about keeping him, but we are very active and I started thinking he would never move - maybe he would be a great dog for a shut-in? He didn't seem to need much activity.

One of the most helpful things for me, as he was my first puppy mill foster, was the network of friends I developed through MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue, who were going through, or had gone through, the same thing with their ex-breeders. Being able to talk with them, and having their reassurances that Bill would get better, helped me through my most on difficult days.

What helped Bill the most were other dogs. We didn't have any other dogs in our house when we were trying to rehabilitate him (now we try to have a dog around "for him" as much as possible - Bill and I are both foster junkies!). However, I started taking him to the dog park and the other dogs helped him so much. At first he would just sit by the gate and shake. After a few weeks, though, he began to move a little.... and then he really started to MOVE A LOT! Turns out that the little guy likes to play with other dogs!

The sweetest thing I can remember is watching a border collie mix named "Scuff" herd Bill over to the water bucket. Not only did he show Bill where the bucket was, he even showed him how to drink!

It's funny, dogs are great therapy for people, and dogs are great therapy for other dogs. So what are we humans really good for?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thoughts on The Bridge

As I watch Bill run around with our new foster play date (Ollie is only with us for a few hours before he gets a ride to his new life in Utah), I'm reflecting on how quiet it would be around here if I didn't have these guys (except for the noise of my husband playing "Rock Band" upstairs at night when I'm trying to sleep!).

My close friend has to "cross over" her Boston Terrier, Cyrus, last week. He was only nine, too young to go, but he had a terminal case of mast cell tumors. He had been suffering through surgeries for about a year and they just weren't working. I commend her for trying to save him, and for making the decision to let him pass with dignity when the time was right.

In light of Cyrus' passing, I though about what I would like to believe the Rainbow Bridge is all about. I decided that Bill's soul, at at some time my soul, will get on a "soul train" that takes us to a place like Disneyland - whatever our own personal Disneyland is. In "Disneyland," Bill will get the chance to be in charge, and I'll be relieved of my duties. Here's what I think of my dog form, and Bill's human form:



That guy looks like he would be fun to play with, doesn't he? I bet he would take me hiking and splashing in the creek. He'll feed me, bathe me, and rub ME behind the ears. Doesn't that sound great?

What is your dog form, and your dog's human form?

Friday, July 3, 2009

If My Dog Were a Writer...

As you may know, I just got finished editing a book about Boston Terriers, and am now working on a book about Golden Retrievers. The differences in the author submissions are striking, and quite comical! Is it the dog the resembles the owner, or the other way around?

Boston Terriers are known for their crazy enthusiasm. When I think of a Boston Terrier, I think of a smiling little dog, hopping around all over the place, frantically looking for a ball. I don't know as much about Golden Retrievers, but when I think of them, I think of the dog that sits in front of their owner, patiently waiting for the ball to be thrown. This is a case of two types of dogs, looking for the same thing, but going about it in very different ways.

Editing stories from the two types of owners has largely been a similar experience! Boston Terrier owners, as a whole, submitted stories with an abundance of exclamation points and some questionable punctuation/capitalization. Golden retriever owners, in general, submitted very clean looking paragraphs with the standard punctuation you would expect from a grammar class. Both sharing loving stories about their dogs, but going about it in very different ways!

This has all been very fun - I'm not only learning about the different traits common in dogs but I'm learning about similarities in dog owners! For my part, I must admit, my writing does not usually overflow with exclamation points but it's only because I was drilled for it in marketing school. The Boston Terrier in me always has her trigger finger ready for the Ctrl+1 !!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

He's Like Danny Zuko...Tough, yet Sensitive!

When Bill gets to the dog park, he always goes running at top speed for Dutchess, a German Shepherd mix. His favorite thing to do is to stick his head in her mouth, so he runs, and runs, with his back right leg flying out to the side, tongue flapping in the wind, the whole length of the park until he gets to her. Next, he gives her a thorough dental exam. It's the kind of thing that teens get suspended for doing against the lockers in the hallway at school, but at the dog park it's just fine.

So, the other day I found out that Bill is not only known for his dental exams. He's also known for his brawn. I was at the front of the park trying to coax Honey along, and Bill had run ahead. He seemed fine so most of my attention was focused on her.When I finally got near him, he was running around with this white dog that was much bigger than him. The white dog was a puppy, and playing kind of rough, so the owner got up to go and break it up. Then, the person standing next to the owner looks over at Bill and says "No, it's OK. Sit back down. That's Bill...he can handle himself!" Sure enough, the next thing that happens is that Bill gets up next to the dog, gives him the "BT Don't Mess With Me" sideways glance, starts making velociraptor noises and puts that dog right onto his back! Go Bill! I knew you were my dog...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Double Dating

So our morning dog park outing was a trip. I'm so focused on Honey's well being right now that sometimes I neglect to notice what Bill is up to. I mean, he's an adult now, after all, so he should be able to handle himself, right? Well, it turns out that I'm not the only person who sees it that way!

I got to the middle of the park and heard some snarling. Yup, it was Bill, telling this big white dog how it is. I saw the owner go running to get the white dog to leave Bill alone, until the person standing next to him said, "oh, that's Bill, don't worry - he can handle himself." Too funny! My little timid ex-breeder is now the dog park regulator!

The dogs went to the trapeze rig ( with us afterward, a place that neither of them like very much. Honestly, I don't know if it's the noise or the people, but Bill prefers to sit in the car. It was cool enough and we thought we would have some extra time to hold Honey on our laps so we figured we would bring them down.

We didn't have time to play with them, and I felt bad that they stayed in the car the whole time, so we took them right back to the dog park in the afternoon. As soon as we walked in a huge, unaltered pit bull ran up to Honey. Unaltered dogs always scare me. However, after a second my fears were at rest as he was very nice with Honey and she appeared to really like him (and I was told later, about to get neutered)! When I looked for Bill, I saw him playing with this pit bull's sister. The four of them trotted to the back of the park to run around together, as though they were on a double date - two Bostons and two pit bulls just enjoying a sunset together. I could see Honey and the dude looking good together, but Bill and his sister? How would they ever dance together? Bill could barely reach the middle of her chest on his back legs!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

He's Not a Corn Dog

The first Happy Tails book is posted up on Amazon now! Yay!

So there was one "Snort Story" that was really getting to me - of course it was the last story I had to edit and I just couldn't come up with a clever title. The best I could do was "Corny Jokes for a Crappy Situation," which I didn't think the author would appreciate! Anyhoo, last week I finally came up with "He's Just Not a Corn Dog." Here's the story, what do you think?

"Poor Ralphie… his family wanted to get rid of him so badly that they faked that they were moving! When I went to pick him up I pretended not to notice the lack of moving boxes…what was I getting myself into? I quickly found out that I was knee deep in doodoo with my new dog…literally! Ralphie had a poopy problem! It wasn’t that he didn’t know he was supposed to go outside; it was that he just couldn’t hold it. This was clearly embarrassing for him and of course, a mess for us! Fortunately, his problem turned out to require a simple solution – he was allergic to corn and additives! Once we switched to a natural dog food the problem went away within 2 days!" –Ruthann Hernandez

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Full Immersion

My dad called Honey Bill's sidecar yesterday. I thought that was pretty funny because she is such a miniature version of him (with MUCH bigger ears). They're like my little ducklings when we go hiking...Bill follows me and Honey is never far behind. In fact, she usually runs head-first into his butt every time he stops! Ewww...

Honey and I went to an adoption fair in Denver today. I thought it would be a terrible experience for her, but after she got over the first hour of shaking she actually started enjoying it. Turns out she has a thing for Pugs, so now I'm looking for a Pug to take her home!

One of the stories in the upcoming "Lost Souls: FOUND!" Boston Terrier book is about a puppy mill dog who came out of his shell because his family took him to a Christmas Party. They knew it was a "make or break" effort and figured they had to try - nothing else was working. It worked well for them, and I've been thinking about it ever since because I'm very protective of Bill and don't like taking him to those kind of situations because I know he'll shake.

However, Honey came home tonight happier than I've ever seen her. It's contagious - Bill is running around with his squeaky bull right now too. The both of them have been running around the house with bones all night, something Honey has seldom done before. I think the next time there is a social event I will bring Bill. He's been growing braver and more "dog-like" every day, and so I think he can handle it now. Who knows, maybe it will stop him from shaking the next time we have guests over?