Thursday, August 23, 2012


Down the hill from our house is a huge blackberry patch. Derek checked on it and it was full of big, ripe blackberries! Of course I couldn't hog them all to myself, so I went and got Lucia so she could enjoy the fun. Don't worry - I picked a bunch extra for Maya and Sappho as well!

 While Lucia was eating blackberries a stranger and his black lab were walking by. Lucia didn't like that strange dog walking by, but she did very well working through that discomfort. "Right here" is a cue to turn back and focus on me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rattlesnake Ridge

The second portion of Lucia's busy Sunday afternoon was visiting Rattlesnake Lake at Rattlesnake Ridge. Rattlesnake Lake is a beautiful, clear lake with a sandy rock bottom. I don't know if Lucia has ever been to a lake before, but she had a lot of fun!

Checking it out...
Mom, this is cold!
What is this??
Still unsure of the cold water!
Getting a little further from shore...
Now she's getting into it!
This first video is Lucia first going in, and she wasn't quite sure about the Lake yet! 

 She quickly discovers how much fun it is, and how many fascinating (apparently) rocks it contains!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls.
Lucia had a very busy Sunday afternoon! We went out with friends for a picnic at Snoqualmie Falls, and boy howdy was it crowded! Previously I wouldn't take Lucia into crowded spaces since I was concerned about random strangers touching her or Lucia getting overwhelmed by the crowds. Baby Girl has been growing so much that I wanted to challenge her, as well as give her a whole new experience!
Ready for a new adventure!
The husband and two of our friends attended the picnic along with Lucia and I. These are D&D friends, so she has met Lici and Evan before and is fond of both of them.
Evan lovins!
We walked around for a bit and one of our first challenges was asking Lucia to hop up on rocks or benches and hang out as people moved around her. You may recall from this post that Lucia gets nervous being off the ground, especially when people are around. So how did she do?
Momma, this is old hat! 

A stranger walks by - she doesn't even glance at him!
Chowing down on her jackpot of multiple treats!
She wasn't at all phased! We took a break and had our picnic. Nearby at another table were two small dogs, one of whom barked at everyone that passed by. Lucia sometimes started to react to this dog by huffing, growling, and preparing to bark. I interrupt and redirect her each time by calling her name and asking for a contradictory behavior like sit, shake, spin, etc. This switches her attention back to me and on earning positive rewards!
Very excited!
 After a picnic we spent time at the Falls overlooks, and while everyone oggled the pretty scenery Lucia worked her magic and attracted lots of attention. I had multiple people ask me about her and what breed she is, and that opened it up for me to talk about rescue, New Rattitude, rat terriers, and the power of dogs to heal from abuse!

She took cookies from several people and older children. Previously I didn't allow children to approach Lucia as they made her uncomfortable, but these were calm, older children (8-9 years and older.) I told them that Lucia is very shy and to not touch her, but asked them if they would give her a treat. Few kids can resist the idea of feeding such a cute little dog, and so I instructed them to hold their hand out flat and to (again) not touch her. After she took treats I'd have Lucia show off her tricks to the delighted giggles of the kids.
Busy day, happy girl!
I can't express how pleased I am with our visit to the Falls. Lucia not only had a wonderful socialization experience, but she got to socialize with kids (a first for her since coming into foster care) and she got to give back to New Rattitude by being a wonderful, calm, and engaging Ambassador for us!

After we left Snoqualmie Falls, we continued the adventure by heading up to Rattlesnake Lake. See what happens when Lucia meets the clear waters of the Lake tommorow!

You're coming back tommorow, right?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Raw Meaty Bones

Two to three times a week the girls get raw meaty bones in place of their normal dinner. Raw meaty bones are part of a balanced raw diet, and a wonderful supplement to a kibble or cooked-diet as well!
Raw meaty bones (RMB) provide stimulation to dogs as they have to pull, rip, and tear apart the meat as well as crush the bones in their molars. It takes a dog much longer (on average) to eat a RMB than their normal dinner! 
Besides being wonderfully stimulating for our dogs, RMB provide an important dental benefit to our dogs. Most of a dogs diet, whether it includes treats, kibble, raw hides, or other chewies, doesn't clean the teeth near the gum where most tartar and plaque will build up. Without RMB we often have a dog who needs more frequent dental cleanings, more invasive dental cleanings, and has bad breath.
The act of chewing RMBs, of crushing the bone and tearing the meat, rubs against the teeth near the gum and helps to eliminate the buildup. RMB aren't a cure-all for all dental issues, and some dogs have a genetic propensity to buildup that won't go away just from RMB usage, but universally RMB are helpful for cleaning a dog's teeth. In my pack we don't brush teeth or do dental cleanings - we just feed RMB 2-3 times a week and the teeth take care of themselves!

What RMB you choose depends on personal preference, dog size, availability, and cost. I feed poultry bones exclusively because they are the only bones small enough for them to easily eat as a meal. Usually I feed duck necks, turkey necks, chicken wings, and chicken backs. I prefer chicken backs because because I can buy them in bulk for about $0.55/lb, and they have a goodly amount of skin and muscle along with the bone! Each dog gets around 1.5 chicken backs a meal, for a total of 3-4.5 chicken backs a week. I aim to make the RMB around 10% of their total nutrition.
 You may have been told to never give dogs poultry bones, but that applies only to cooked bones! When a poultry bone is raw it flexes and snaps clean, leaving smooth edges. Once a bone is cooked though, the structure changes and it becomes inflexible and brittle. A cooked bone will splinter when broken, and poses a serious health hazard to any creature that eats it! Always feed raw poultry bones, never cooked ones!
 I feed the girls outside for easy clean up as well as having plenty of space for them to be separated but I can still see them easily. Never let a dog eat a RMB unsupervised, as it can be a choking hazard! I also recommend that owners know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver in case of choking. I have never seen (or known of) a dog who choked to death on a raw meaty bone, but I want to be prepared just in case!
Sappho is nervous about the camera so close to her food.
I back away several feet and she relaxes.
Of course RMB aren't totally serious business. They are pretty fun to watch! Below is a video of me feeding them to the dogs. Note my failure to correctly estimate how high Lucia can jump to get her bone!

Eating bones can be messy business, and afterwards the girls make sure to wipe their face and paws off before coming back inside!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Rattitude Online Auction

Today starts the New Rattitude online auction!  There are tons of great items to purchase and all money raised goes towards helping our rescued ratties!

To view and bid on items click here  you will want to click on the image beside each category to view the items up for bid.  Use your back arrow to return to the main page of the acution site. 

Because of folks like you who support New Rattitude we saved hundreds of dogs last year, and we will do the same this year!  All of these dogs would not have been rescued without New Rattitude. Here's to a successful fundraising event and to many, many more ratties being rescued and have fun in the auction!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dungeons & Dragons & Dogs

Waiting for the guests to arrive.
Roughly every two weeks we host a Dungeons & Dragons party. We sit around playing with handfuls of dice, scrawling maps on paper, and generally cutting up as our characters adventure around a world that exists only in our heads. It is a lot of fun, and the dogs get several hours of human attention and socialization.

This Saturday marked the fourth time Lucia has met Evan, a gentleman who loves her but whom had to earn her trust over several meetings. Everyone is great about not making direct eye contact or trying to touch her, and Lucia has learned she can hang around visitors without having to worry about her space being invaded. This consideration for Lucia gave her confidence to ask for some attention from Evan for the first time!
Lucia gets scratches from Evan.
We had a new player join us this week, Kip. Lucia showed a lot of interest in him from the start, but she moved at her own pace with him.
Evan on the left, Kip on the right. Lucia considers them both from the kitchen. 
Something about Kip drew her - perhaps his calm, inviting nature - and she couldn't stay away!
Moving in closer....
And eventually Lucia sidled up to Kip and got some pets from him - a person she had only known for a couple hours! Great job!

All that hard work being corageous and asking for attention from new people wore her out, and soon she crashed out on a doggy bed.
The excitement also wore Maya and Sappho out too!
Maya mid-yawn.
Sappho's favorite dog bed - the couch.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lucia and Remy

Lucia has a personality doppelganger. His name is Remy, he is 7-8 years old, and he lives with his beautiful, fantastic Mom and Dad down in Florida. I've never met Remy, but my conversations with his Momma have convinced me they are two peas in a pod. Their pictures are what sells it though - they have the same facial expressions!

So I present, Lucia and Remy, the Brother and Sister who have never met :-) 

Check out those eyes....those ears! The same "Kiss me Momma!" face!

And of course school photo day, a very important day in a rat terrier's life!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Glamour shots

During our solo walk the other day Lucia humoured me by popping up on the walls by plants and letting me take some glamour shots. She is such a beautiful lady!
Such a good sport!
Begging for treats or kisses...more likely both!
Maya however didn't approve of this "walking Lucia first" nonsense. Below is what greeted me when I returned to the car!
This sight greeted me on return to the car!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spending time in uncertainty

Riding the elevator on our way to the walk
Lucia is used to walking about the Bravern at lunch time. When Lucia first came to me I walked her solo, but she quickly moved to walking with my dogs. At first we walked Lucia with one of my dogs and alternated who that dog was, so one day she'd walk with Maya and the other with Sappho. Usually all three dogs walk together now, but I decided to walk Lucia solo so we could do a confidence building exercise.
Let's go Momma!
It took a couple weeks for Lucia to adjust to the amount of people and the loud cars and trucks that roar up 8th Ave, but she worked through her discomfort and has come to really enjoy her walks.  She still will occasionally pause and watch people, or sniff at them as they pass by, and I give her as much time as she needs. Allowing a dog who is fearful or insecure to information gather via looking, sniffing, or even touching until they indicate they are ready to move on is one way to help that dog become more secure in their environment.
Lucia pauses to information gather via watching and sniffing. 
She is done information gathering and ready to move on.
Lucia is a dog who is most comfortable on the floor, and rarely will jump up on objects like furniture or benches. While it doesn't matter if she wants to hang out on the floor or the couch, we have been working on increasing her comfort off the ground as a means of boosting her overall confidence. Her insecurity comes from feeling that she will get trapped and not be able to escape, so we encourage her to jump on objects and remain there, but always allow her the freedom to jump off and move away if she wishes.

Yesterday we practiced building her confidence by asking her to sit on the short wall surrounding the planted sections while people passed by. I never physically place her up on an object because I am taking away her choice if I do so. Instead, I cue her to "Up!" and ask her to "Wait" on the wall. If she didn't do the behavior there is no consequence besides not getting rewarded.
We start the exercise. She is uncomfortable but giving it a try.
You can see the tightness in her face, the ears back or to the side, and the worried look in her eyes. I was standing in front of her giving her treats every few seconds and constant praise.
A person passes by.
At any point Lucia could have jumped off the wall. If she does so I stop treating her but otherwise there is no consequences or corrections. I am asking Lucia to move outside of her comfort zone a little bit and spend some time in that discomfort, but this is voluntary on Lucia's part. She gets great things (food, praise) if she participates, but if she doesn't want to participate then that is ok.
Such a brave girl - she's really working hard at working through her discomfort.
Lucia really did fantastic. A coworker who Lucia has never met came up and asked me some questions about her. Before I could intervene, he reached over and petted her back. I responded by jackpotting Lucia the entire time he was touching her to reinforce her tolerating the touch.
She is reaching her limit.
After the unexpected petting, we spent a few more seconds on the wall and then I invited her to hop down. She spent about three minutes sitting on the wall with people passing by and even being touched, and I wanted to give her a break and a chance to settle herself without pushing her to the point of feeling the need to completely exit the situation.
On the move again!
Great job Lucia! I am so proud of her bravery and willingness to go along with my silly requests!