Monday, July 26, 2010

A Whole New Dog

I guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder! I left for a few hours this morning, and when I got home, Buster was so excited that he washed my face for me for about five minutes. His enthusiasm for my homecoming could only be topped by my previous disabled foster dog, Max. (Remember him? Scroll back about two months.) Anyway, Buster is snoozing much more comfortably on the couch next to me and looking completely content. He's doing fine with the cats and with Bill, and I haven't seen any signs of aggression today. I think he was just insanely stressed yesterday having been separated from his doggie mom and dad for the first time ever. I'm glad he's coming around. He's turning into a very sweet dog.

The Stand-Off Ends

Foster #29, Buster, made quite a first impression. He was surrendered, along with his mom and dad, to our rescue yesterday. A woman who, to put it politely, seemed to be a little "off," left him and his dad with one of our new fosters and left the female with another. The new foster then brought him to me.

During our phone conversation, the new foster told me that he took a while to get out of the car and introduce himself to her, but other than that he seemed fine. I figured, he sounds okay, I guess I don't need to bring a crate when I meet her to get him. I had Bill, my mom, and my husband in the car with me.

When the new foster pulled in, she opened the car door, and I saw a snarling, chattering, barking, growling Boston Terrier looking back at me. He didn't yet have a harness or collar on, so I asked her if she could put it on him. I really didn't think she could. He allowed her to, however, without ever taking his eyes off me. Boy, was I in for an adventure!

The new foster put my leash on him, and I was able to walk him over to the car. I put him in the car, and he seemed okay with Bill - not really noticing him. However, now I had a new problem. I couldn't go near my car!

Luckily a nearby friend had a crate, and I had some thick garden gloves, so I put the gloves on, carefully got his leash, and pulled him out of the car. We sat on the ground for a while, and I tried to calm him, to no avail. I kept inching my way up the leash until I was at the back of his harness, and while he continued to growl, I got my hand around his chest and quickly shoved him into the crate. Door shut...success!

He growled and cried the whole way home. I had never seen such a distressed dog! At home, Dylan and I weren't really sure what to do with him, but eventually we decided to try to let him sleep in the crate in our room. After hours of listening to him rustle around, I finally couldn't take it anymore, and I put him in the yard. I left the crate door open so he could pee if he had to, but every time I checked on him, he was still cowering in there. He looked SO scared.

This morning, when I got up to let Bill out to pee, Buster was standing outside of his crate, shaking uncontrollably. I got some cheese, sat down, and somehow got brave enough to try and pet him. He just melted into my hands, and at that point, I knew our stand-off was over. Since then he hasn't left my side, although he's still very nervous and distressed.

I actually think he's a great dog now - he even licked me, and now he's sleeping with his head on my leg. Poor little guy, I have no idea what happened to him to make him so distressed, but I think there's hope. Oh, and he's adorable!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cracking Jack's Shell

We're not always so lucky to turn around a puppy mill dog in a week, but boy, is Jack resilient! I may not be an animal expert, but after 28 foster dogs I feel like I've come up with a pretty good methodology for rehabilitating these guys (I know, a lot of you out there have me beat, but I still no longer consider myself a rookie). The trick?

a) Give them time to settle in and let them come to you
b) Keep their world small at first (thank you, Lisa from MLAR) and take every precaution that they don't bolt
c) Slowly give them more and more freedom to make decisions
d) Set them up for success

As a practical example, Jack was very fearful when he came to us last week. I have a very difficult time putting his harness and leash on him, and he wouldn't go outside if I was standing by the door. We had to do a little bit of "dancing" to herd him around the house, but it was okay - I knew he would come around. One thing Jack did want to do was sit next to me on the couch. He was terrified if I picked him up or went to him, but he would come to me. Great! We just went with that for a while.

To get him more comfortable with being approached, I always went to him with a treat. After a while, I think he saw me as one giant hot dog. Again, great! Now we can put the harness on him easily, and I can even pick him up.

As far as keeping his world small, I crate him when I'm not home, and for the most part he hangs out in two rooms in my house and my very small yard. He was definitely a flight risk when I first got him, so any time we went outside he was on leash, which I was constantly gripping tightly to make sure I didn't lose him. He did try to bolt several times.

We went to the dogpark at times when it wasn't very crowded to acclimate him to other dogs and work on recall. He caught on to "come" very quickly, and while he's not bombproof yet, he is much less of a flight risk now and he does come when called. He'd much more comfortable with other dogs, too.

I've been slowly giving Jack more freedom, and it is working out well. Now, when I take him to my trapeze rig (yes, I said that), he gets to run around in the field with the other dogs. He spends his time between where we sit and running back into the car with Bill (it's just a few feet away, and Bill loves to just sit on the floor of the car). If he starts wandering, we call him and he comes back. He's doing great!

In terms of setting him up for success, I still crate him when I'm not home to reinforce that we don't potty in the house. The potty training has been coming along well, but I see any accidents as major setbacks, so I try to avoid them at all costs. He doesn't love being crated, but I think he likes it much better than getting yelled at. At night, as I mentioned, Bill cuddles in the crate with him (weirdo!).

Jack is an awesome dog who turns heads everywhere he goes with his cuteness. I hope he finds the perfect forever home soon. Anyone would be lucky to have him.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Living in Colorado, we don't really see a lot of fleas. In fact, I had never seen one before yesterday! My new foster, Jack, had been scratching a lot, so I put some flea and tick medicine on him. The next day, when he hopped off the couch, I noticed a bunch of little brown things that looked like flaxseeds (how "Boulder" is that? I though fleas were flaxseeds!). Anyway, upon further inspection, I noticed they were fleas. How gross! But at least they were dead.

Then I saw a live one jumping off Bill! Aargh! I got the vaccuum, cleaned the couch and the floors, and washed my sheets in very hot water. Hopefully we're done with that now. Jack is still scratching, but I haven't seen any fleas since. Nevertheless, I'm scratching at imaginary fleas because I keep thinking they're crawling on me!

Aside from the fleas, Jack is doing great. He's got the biggest brown eyes and he's very intelligent. He's skittish if I approach him, but he always wants to be next to me if I'm sitting down. He's snoring next to me right now; he's got the sweetest little sigh when he snores. It's as if he knows life is going to be good from here on out.

Jack and Bill are funny together. Jack tried to play, but Bill has been grumpy. He doesn't even humor him, so then Jack comes and tries to play with me. I think he'll get the hang of toys in no time. I don't know what is up with Bill - he's really got an affinity for crates when they belong to other dogs. He won't sit in it when no other dogs are here, but when I want another dog to sleep in the crate, Bill crawls right in and makes himself comfortably. Twice this week I've just shoved Jack in there with him, and they sleep the night together in the crate. It's very cute!

Today Jack and I are going to work some more on recall. He hasn't had a potty accident in over 24 hours, so please cross your fingers that we're done with that! I don't think I can handle cleaning up fleas and pee on the same day. This is nothing new, though. The first few days with new fosters can be hard, but Bill does a great job getting them up to speed on home life. Jack is almost at the point where he knows to follow Bill around, which is a big improvement.

Last night Jack jumped onto the couch next to me, put his head on my shoulder, and stared up into my eyes. What a sweet boy! Those are the moments that make this all worthwhile.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bill Swims!

Bostons DO swim! :)

Jack's Catching On!

Jack came to us on Friday from a Missouri puppy mill. That's the same place Bill had come from (don't know if it was the same mill), so the two hit it off great. Jack is very skittish but he warms up quickly...although, he also forgets quickly that he just warmed up to you!

He's been with us for two nights now. The first night he darted around the house all night long. We tried to let him sleep in bed with us (Harleigh was in the crate), but he just wouldn't sit still, which really sucked because we had to fly Harleigh down to her new home the next morning, and we didn't get a good night of sleep.

The next night we decided we would crate him, but before he could go in the crate, Bill did! Jack really likes being near Bill, so we did the most logical thing - we crated them together for the night! It was so cute, and they slept pretty quietly. Honestly, I missed having Bill cuddled up next to me, but it was really nice to actually get a good night of sleep. I'm sure Jack will settle down as he gets more comfortable.

Jack took what was probably his longest real walk yesterday, and he did great. He's definitely not trustworthy not to bolt off-leash just yet, but he walked with us for the most part (he laid down to take a break once, poor guy - it was only a mile!).

Jack is a VERY cute dog. He's kind of unique looking, like he's a French Bulldog-mix or something. I don't think he is, but his ears are GIGANTIC and he's got squat, little legs. He's got a great personality, but he definitely needs to be in a home with another dog to help show him the ropes.

Our rescue is actually so full that we're not taking in any new foster dogs this month. I hope I can find Jack a home soon so I can open my doors to the next Boston Terrier in needs. In the meantime, Dylan, Bill, and I will do our best to get him potty-trained and more comfortably with humans.

The Stork

All week we had been trying to fly Harleigh to her new home in Canon City, CO, which is a 2.5 hour drive (1.25 hour flight) away. After being thwarted by the weather for several days, we finally made it! Her new family is wonderful - an older couple who lost their dog a few months ago. They have a wonderful home with a dog door that goes through a cabinet in the kitchen out to a ramp that Harleigh can mosey down to get into the yard. She got it first try!

Harleigh was a great passenger in the plane, spending most of the time sitting on the floor in the back. I, on the other hand, wasn't feeling so hot. The flight was really turbulent, and the bumps were wreaking havoc on my stomach. I was actually kind of pleased when weather rolled in, and we couldn't go home for a few hours because I didn't think I could hack it in the bumpy plane for another hour and a half.

After waiting out the nearby thunderstorms, we again took flight, but this time to a wonderfully smooth sky. We even saw an awesome rainbow:

One of the biggest struggles of this trip were that we had Bill and a new foster dog, Jack, at home, and nobody to let them out (my parents were out of town). We hadn't made arrangements for anyone to stop by because we thought we would be home quickly, but when we couldn't get back, I had to scramble to find someone to let them out. Our friend Gary came over, and as I expected, called me 10 minutes into hanging out at our house to tell me that neither dog would get off our bed. Big surprise! Bill's glued to that thing. Anyway, Gary ended up chasing them around the house to shoo them outside but finally was successful. Thanks, Gary!

So I was telling someone at the airport about how we took some puppies up to Rock Springs, WY to be adopted a few weeks ago, and the said, "You fly the "babies" to their new homes? You're like a stork!" I thought that was really cute. If only we had our own plane, we could paint a stork on it!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Finally, a New Foster!

It's been a long month. This was my first time teaching at the University of Colorado, and I have to admit, it was much harder than I expected! I'm glad I planned not to foster last month because I think it would have put me over the top.

Anyway, the month is through and we've finally received our new foster dog. Her name is Harleigh, and before she arrived I was told her family was moving into a small apartment and had to part with her. Uh...

Well, that may have been true, but honestly, good riddance. This poor dog came to me dirtier than I had ever seen from an "owner surrender." Her face is still brown despite my best efforts to wipe away her tear stains and the dirt, but I'm sure that will go away in time. She obviously wanted attention when I met her, but if I went to her, she would cower to the ground. Her nails were bloody from digging out of something and she had just recently been bred. She wouldn't eat or drink, and she was terrified of my other Boston, Bill. So sad!

It's been three days now, and she has made huge strides. She even PLAYED with Bill today! (Woohoo!). She's comfortably loafing on her side on the couch right now, and when I call her, she comes. She hiked today, probably for the first time ever, and she did a great job. She ate her breakfast and is starting to cower less. The trick? I just gave her time and space and let her come to me. She's the perfect dog, even if she doesn't yet know it: sweet, appreciative, attentive, doesn't wander off, friendly to people and dogs. Whoever gets to adopt her will have to have a little bit of patience, but in the end, they will be very lucky!