Friday, June 29, 2012

Hello Pretty!

Lucia the meercat!

Lucia came to New Rattitude at 3 years old. Her owners said that she had started growling and snapping at their son once the child became mobile. Her owners said that she didn’t like new people until she had met them a few times, and didn’t like dogs and cats.

What we didn’t know was that “dislikes dogs/strangers” is far too mild a word for Lucia. What we didn’t know is that her little body was full of anxiety. And what we didn’t know is what a special case she would be. 
Lucia spent 11 months with her foster parents Karrah and Eric, and they took her from a extremely nervous, fearful dog to a cuddly, loving little girl who did very well with them as long as she was separated from their personal dogs. When around another dog Lucia would become agitated, and while she wanted to check out the dog, she would react out of fear and panic if the dog turned towards her. Like many dogs this comes out in growls, snarls, and even snaps in an attempt to have the dog move away from her. 

Such a beautiful girl.

 I first met Lucia not long after Karrah and Eric had her. In fact, I can’t recall the reason they asked me to stop by, but I remember being charmed by this leggy, beautiful girl with an incredible athleticism and the adorable way she growled at her tennis ball as she ran after it.

Lucia was fearful and shy when she first came to Eric and Karrah.
While Lucia is sweet and loving towards people she knows, she is nervous around new people and will snap and bite if people approach her too fast. Lucia would much rather flee than fight though, and she has perfect acquired bite inhibition and has never broken the skin when she did bite. Instead her bites are her method of saying “I’ve tried everything else I know what to do, but you’ve forced me to use my teeth since you aren’t listening to me." 

Despite her fears and anxiety, Lucia enjoys people once she gets to know them. She also likes taking treats from strangers.  This made her a challenge to work with as well as finding people who would be ok giving her treats without trying to pet her. Thank goodness the staff at All The Best Pet Care is wonderful for this, allowing us to hang out in their store for many hours over several weeks while we counter conditioned and desensitized Lucia to strangers. 
Soon she learned how much fun getting a New Rattitude could be!

 Lucia has so many amazing aspects to her personality, but a single issue has prevented her from finding her forever home for almost a year now – her human and canine reactivity. Karrah and Eric were generous enough to let me take Lucia on as my foster so I could work with her more often, since finding time for multiple training sessions a week is near impossible for all three of us.

My stuffed bug Dad!!
The treatment plan for Lucia is both firm and yet very fluid. So much of our plan will depend on where Lucia is at the moment, which is a necessity for a dog like Lucia. At all times I must honor her emotional state and desires, and focus on encouraging her to become comfortable around her triggers and teach her how to safely remove herself from situations she feels uncomfortable. 

She already knows how to dance!

 I look forward to this journey with her. In so many ways she reminds me of Sappho when I got her several years ago. Sappho quickly bonded with Maya, but with strange dogs and people she displayed even more reactivity, lunging and barking at the end of her leash. Lucia has a much closer threshold where she can be around a strange dog and tries her best to astutely ignore dogs as long as they don’t come too close. Seeing the dog Sappho is today tells me that Lucia can make incredible progress and become much more comfortable given time and training. Her foster parents did the hardest part – taking a dog from the only home she had ever known, and giving her confidence to share their lives. I have known Lucia for months and earned her affection long before I took her into my home, making her transition that much easier. I am forever grateful to her first foster parents for setting her up for success and making my job that much easier.

Is that my adoptive family walking down the street?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Five things you should know about Inca: #5

#5: I've been adopted!!

Boy, what a mixture of sadness and joy it is to write this post about my first foster and one of the sweetest, funniest dogs I have ever met.

Saturday night Inca started a new life with the best family he could ever have. Now renamed "Skagit Lucky Rabbit's Foot", he lives with a family of 5, including a human brother and sister. Above is a picture they sent me of Skagit on his walk Sunday around the beach. Look how happy his sweet face is!

Skagit and his siblings!! 

Skagit has the best of both worlds. His family doesn't have any other pets, so there are five people to give him all the love, training, attention, and exercise that he could ever desire. He enjoys playing with other dogs though, and fortunately he has a couple neighbors with small dogs his size to become best buddies with!

Skagit and Momma 

So please join me in saying farewell to Skagit and celebrate him hitting the Furever-Family Jackpot! Best for me, his adopters are only a couple hours away and graciously are letting me stay a part of his life!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Five Things You Should Know About Inca: #4

#4: I am of moderate size!

One of my favorite poems is "The Song of the Jellicles" by T.S. Elliot.  Inca reminds me of this sweet poem, quoted (in parts, not in its entirety!) below. Sure he isn't a cat, but I like to think there are Jellicle Dogs as well, of which Inca would be one!

Jellicle Cats are black and white,
Jellicle Cats are rather small;
Jellicle Cats are merry and bright,
And pleasant to hear when they caterwaul.
Jellicle Cats have cheerful faces,
Jellicle Cats have bright black eyes;

For size comparison, here is Inca licking some peanut butter off the top of a standard sized peanut butter jar. 

Jellicle Cats develop slowly,
Jellicle Cats are not too big;
Jellicle Cats are roly-poly,
They know how to dance a gavotte and a jig.

Now with a paper towel roll, again standard sized.
Jellicle Cats are white and black,
Jellicle Cats are of moderate size;
Jellicle Cats jump like a jumping-jack,
Jellicle Cats have moonlit eyes.

 Of course peanut butter can be tricky to eat sometimes! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Five Things You Should Know About Inca - #3

#3 - He loves playing with other dogs

Inca gets along fabulously with his foster sisters. At first there was some tension around Maya and Sappho not sure they wanted to share their home with a puppy, but just like everyone he meets, Inca won them over.
How can you not love me?

When Inca first meets another dog is curious but cautious. He doesn't like dogs who come right up to him and stand over him or have high, frantic energy. He remains calm though and retreats from the situation when he can.

With dogs he knows though, its a whole other story....
Watch out Maya! Puppy charge incoming!

He loves playing with his sisters and they play on a daily basis. Sometimes he just plays with Maya, sometimes just Sappho, and sometimes both. They all share a joy of running though and their favorite activity to race around the yard.

Of course it isn't always racing around the yard. There is also the important tasks of ridding the yard of pests, such as the beetle Sappho and Inca "took care of."
Sappho spies the intruder and bares her teeth, informing the beetle of his grave mistake.

Hey sister, what are you looking at?
Flanking it so the inch-long beetle can't escape.

Closing in for the kill.
Afterwards Sappho rolls on the bug to gain its power and wisdom. Or because dogs are gross.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Five Things You Should Know About Inca - #2

  #2 Inca LOVES to carry things around in his mouth! 

This is one of my favorite traits of this silly little boy. When he gets really excited he grabs something soft (gloves, socks, shirts, shoes, undergarments, leashes, his sweater, etc) and runs around with them.
So what causes Inca to get excited and look for something to carry? A short list:
  1. Waking up in the morning. Or in the evening. 
  2. Dinner and breakfast
  3. Coming in from outside
  4. Getting ready to go outside
  5. After playing with his foster sisters
  6. When I make kissy noises at him and give him a good belly rub
  7. When someone comes into the house
  8. When someone is getting ready to leave the house
This makes putting our shoes on interesting, as they have often traveled elsewhere in the house thanks to Inca!
The cool thing about Inca though is that he doesn't chew on the objects. I can go over and take them from his mouth without any resistance.
Sometimes he will mouth them a little bit on the couch but he has never ripped, torn, or put a hole into anything. 

Of  course he doesn't always go for soft things. He also enjoys the plastic balls I have in the house, the tennis balls out in the yard, and of course his kongs! 

He has some competition for the balls and kongs though. As the saying goes, "All is fair in love and food puzzles."
He has the Kong safely behind him in the bed...

But the moment he leaves it unguarded, in comes sneaky sister!