Friday, November 30, 2012

Gaining confidence!

Hanging out in the living room with everyone.
Cody continues to blossom and gain confidence! Last night he met our housemate and her partner and while they were careful to not pet him, he made himself known to them by vigorously rubbing up against them! He is starting to seek out my husband more often for some loving, and with me he is turning into quite the wiggly, twisting, grinning baby boy.
I continue to manage my touch with him. I can stroke him with my fingertips and even give him scratches, but I keep that touch brief. He enjoys long strokes down his back, under his chin and  chest, and I can easily grab his martingale collar to clip and unclip his leash.
Last night we spent more time together than we had before, but in a very low-key fashion. We spent time sitting on the floor in the living room with three other people in the room, and then he spent about two hours in the kitchen with me behind a baby pen. I had to grind meat to prepare the raw diet for the pack (and the cat) for the month, and the grinding noise didn't phase him at all. He trolled around the kitchen a bit, graciously declined any raw tidbits, but he did get a wonderful surprise when I grabbed something off the top of the fridge and a special toy fell down...
A furry squeaky toy!!
This toy is a refill for the Kyjen Tail Teaser! Cody had a fun time with this toy - he didn't try to destroy it, he just carried it around for a bit and shook it a couple times. Sweet man is starting to come out of his shell and show off his awesome personality!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Controlled Touch

Cody loves touch. He craves it, seeks it out, and even if you sit there and do nothing he will move his body (and your hands!) so that he will get physical contact with you. He will even move away from food to come get love!
Coming in for a neck scratch.
While Cody has kept his love-bug nature despite what humans did to him the first several years of his life, his history has made him very sensitive to touch. Prolonged touch, firm touch, or touch on certain areas of his body can make him very nervous. He will let you know about this by turning his ears back and growling. He faces away while he growls and never stares directly at you. He isn't a boy trying to intimidate and he had no desire to bite - instead he is frozen, unsure how to move away, and growling in hopes that the touch will stop so he can move again.
That's the spot!
As much as I would love to rub Cody all over and even cuddle with him, I deliberately move slow. I even move slower than Cody would like because I want give myself room to work with him under his threshold. He has told me (through growls and a couple warning snaps) what touch he likes and what touch concerns him. Fingertips can be highly stimulating since it is 3-4 small points on the dog, so by using the back of the hand, or the arm, it creates a smoother surface that doesn't create specific points of contact where the touch is more stimulating. I keep the touch brief to ensure that he has time to settle himself between touches rather than getting overwhelmed by the prolonged contact. Finally I keep my touch moving slowly the entire time. Letting my touch linger in one spot can create too strong of a sensation and moving too fast can provoke a fearful reaction. 
Taking a break between touches.
Sometimes I do use my fingertips, linger in one area, or move faster, but those are done far less than the other contacts. Doing so creates a touch that may start to over-stimulate him but the touch is kept short enough that he experiences a slight rise in stimulation without it becoming aversive. Over time this will increase his threshold level and he'll be able to experience and enjoy more stimulating touch without it being a scary or uncomfortable experience.
Another way to take a break - dinner time!
Below is the video from Tuesday night - our first night. You'll see how when I touch him with my fingertips on his hind end he gets nervous and growls.
Here is the video from last night. You'll see how he engages me for touch. I focus on using soft touches with the back of my hands and arms. Occasionally I do touch him with my finger tips either because I forget (bad trainer moment!) or because I am intentially doing that touch to give him slightly more stimulation for a short period.

Watch for the first time he growls. You'll see that right before that growl happens he is facing out of the bathroom. His ears are  turned to the side. I pull my hand back and pause because this is a signal that he is experiencing ambivalence. When his ears stayed the same I decided to do a small experiment and touched him again, which immediately provokes a growl. I withdraw my hand and wait for him to settle back down before engaging him again. Each dog is a little different and some are able to "snap out" of their ambivalence with gentle touch, and some dogs, like Cody, will instead be pushed closer to threshold by the touch. Experiments are the only way to figure out which is which, and Cody is so good at telling me exactly how he feels!
Come back, I want more controlled touch!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In like a lion...

Cody 's life has not been easy. Purchased as a young pup from a breeder, he belonged to a city official down in California. At 7-8 months old his owner abandoned him at a no-kill shelter. The shelter put Cody in with a bonded pair of beagle littermates who attacked him so severely he required emergency care and still carries scars from the attack. Afterwards he was placed by himself in a tiny pen and rarely handled by the staff because he would growl at them. He lived this way for over 3.5 years until the city decided to defund the no-kill shelter and new placements had to be located for the dogs. A wonderful, generous woman took him in as her foster. He stayed in her backyard and learned to love her, her husband, and her kids. He progressed through the trauma of being in the shelter for so long but continued to have some reactivity issues. His foster mom has anywhere from 12-21 dogs at a time, mostly fosters, and so she did her best but had limited time she could train him. After staying with her for 7-8 months he was placed on a transport and sent from Fresno, CA to Federal Way, WA. It is no surprise that he feels he has to growl, snap, and charge anyone who comes near  him.
My state coordinator, Janell, held him for me from Sunday night through Tuesday night. She generously offered to keep him through the weekend, but the best thing for Cody is moving as quickly from her to me rather than him settling into her house and then being yanked away in a week. 
Cody is a nervous guy right now, and gets scared and overwhelmed when he is touched. He responds to this by growling and snapping, but he gives lots of warning signals and as long as his vocalizations are respected there is little risk of a bite. Since he isn't comfortable with being handled, I have him staying in my downstairs bathroom right now. 
He is in the bathroom, with a crate sitting just outside the room and a baby gate on top to prevent him from getting out. I created a buffer zone between Cody and my girls using a play pen. Cody seems to love other dogs his size or smaller, but just to prevent any negative interactions they are being kept apart right now. As you can see above though, Maya and Sappho are very curious about this new visitor!
His set up in the bathroom is sparse. He has food, water, a comfy bolster bed, blanket, and a bully stick. I don't plan on him having to live in the bathroom long, but in the mean time this allows him to live in a small space that is entirely his without intrusion from other dogs, cats, or people (besides me.)
 Stay tuned to see how this beautiful boy settles in and learns that the world has a lot of love and fun to give him. He came in like a lion, but with time he will head to his forever home like a lamb!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Owen Update

Recognize that handsome mug and huge ears? Owen is living a charmed life about twenty minutes away from me. He lives it up in a home with three adults and is the baby of the family. His best friend is Brian, and he sleeps each night with him and goes on daily walks - sometimes multiple times a day!
Tuckered after a walk!
His parents have kept him on a high quality dehydrated raw diet and buy him raw meaty bones, bully sticks, and lots of other wonderful things to chew on. After a couple trial and errors, they figured out Owen's potty schedule and signs, and now he a housetraining champ.
Keeping warm in his football sweater on a warm lap!
Owen still struggles with his OCD, but that is improving and his parents are very understanding of the rough start Owen had and the lasting effects of being under-nourished for so long.
You surely have a wonderful life baby boy! Thank you Donna, Eric, and Brian for opening your home and hearts to this special guy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Phoebe is up for adoption!

[Phoebe isn't my foster dog, but belongs to a wonderful flyball friend who is seeking a retirement home for Phoebe. She has given Phoebe a wonderful life but Phoebe is very unhappy living with bossy Border Collies, being a bossy little thing herself. Please let me know if you can provide that retirement home for her! Below is the bio her Momma wrote.]

Phoebe is an approximately 13-year-old Jack Russell Terrier who is looking for a nice, quiet retirement home for her golden years.  However, don’t let her age fool you – she can still run circles around dogs half her age and is in perfect health thanks to lots of exercise and a raw diet!  Her current owners are sad to have to rehome her, but as Phoebe has become older and more set in her ways, she has become increasingly intolerant of the herding dogs she lives with, and the situation is unhappy for all of the dogs involved.  She could be the perfect traveling dog, a great at-home companion, or even embark on a new career in mousing/ratting (competitively or professionally).  At just ten pounds and 12” at the shoulder, Phoebe is a little dog with a lot of personality and a lot of love to give to the right new home.

Unfortunately, Phoebe is not suited for a home with cats, ferrets/rats/hamsters/(other small furry pets), or young infants.  She does well when supervised with children above the age of two, although as with any dog-child interaction she should not be left alone with young children.  Phoebe’s happiest days are when she’s the only dog with her family (or host), spending the day riding in the car, chasing some mice out of a compost pile (safely on a harness and leash, of course), playing fetch with her tennis ball, and then watching TV on the couch in the evening.  She can be quite a snuggler, with lots of affection to give when she feels secure and loved, and we have it on good authority that if she’s allowed under the covers she makes a fine footwarmer during those cold nights.  Phoebe is fine staying in a crate during the day while her owner is at work, and can also spend her time outside in a secure kennel where she can watch and bark at the squirrels to her heart’s content.  She’s a great traveler, both loose in the car as well as in a crate for safety, and has traveled all along the west coast with her current family during her competitive flyball career.

Phoebe knows basic commands like sit, stay, fetch, wait, leave it, and okay – although as a terrier, she will occasionally choose to forget that she knows them!  She’s been “lent out” to several people to assist in pinpointing mouse and rat problems, and has had introductions to both BarnDog and EarthDog competitions and has done very well with them.  Phoebe is fine with other dogs in public situations, such as doggy daycare or the offleash dog park, although she prefers to ignore them entirely in favor of playing with her tennis ball or chasing after rodents.  She wants to be the top dog – as many terriers often do! – but has trouble actually achieving that position and becomes frustrated when she does not hold it, so a home as a solo dog would be best for her.

This little terrier has given her family lots of fun times and has had a stellar flyball career, earning over 60,000 points and earning a Regional MVP in 2011 for her efforts.  However, her continued unhappiness with living with the other dogs in their home means that they would like to find her a new family where she can live stress-free and play happily for the remainder of her days – which knowing her stubborn nature, will be plentiful!  Phoebe is located in the Bothell area, and is available for adoption after December 3rd, and she will come with all of the accoutrements needed for her care (crate, leashes, chuckit/balls, coats, collars, shark costume, etc.).  If the new family is in the greater Seattle area and is amenable to feeding raw, her current owners have offered to continue providing her food, and they are also offering dogsitting services for her when the new family needs to travel without Phoebe.  Please consider making Phoebe a part of your family today!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A tale of two sisters

Meet Quita and Moche, two sisters who came from Fresno, California. Above is their shelter picture - a pretty sad sight. Rat terriers who often do poorly in shelters because they are such sensitive souls that the noise, strange people and dogs, and general shelter atmosphere overwhelm them..
They arrived on November 2nd, and Moche stayed with Catty Rattie and Quita with another New Rattitude volunteer while I attended a flyball tournament up in Canada. When I picked the girls up Quita showed a little nervousness, but Moche settled right in!
I am one gorgeous Teddy Rat!
Not to be outdone though, Quita quickly started coming out of her shell!
Got a treat in that pocket?
Lookin good ladies!
Being so sweet and little, both girls attracted attention quickly. A very special adopter let me know she was looking for a companion for her dog and Moche caught her eye. Quita only lasted a couple days on Petfinder before someone applied for her - she had been looking for a rat terrier/chihuahua mix for a little while and when she saw Quita she new this little tan and white girl was The One!
Psst....I think we've been adopted!
With great joy and a touch of sorrow, the girls went home last night after only one and half weeks with me. Each time a dog (or pair of dogs!) leaves, it makes room for another life that won't be thrown away in an overcrowded California shelter, but that doesn't mean I won't miss waking up to these sweet faces!
Quita, now Pico, went home with a clicker-trainer who runs Yes! Dog Adventures. She will be going on daily hikes in the mountains with other dogs and learning through positive reinforcement methods that will boost her confidence and allow her sweet, gentle nature to blossom. She will be living with Savvy, the beautiful and charming Smooth Collie she is snuggling with in the photo above.
Of course anytime you put two snuggly dogs together in front of a fire, it isn't long before they konk out! Most amazing though - this photo was taken the day after Pico went home. She came from the shelter shy and nervous, but once again proving the resiliency of canines, she took right to her big sister and her Momma and showed what an incredible little being she is.
Moche went to a very special home as well. Recognize that handsome face on the left? That is none other than Inca (now Skagit), my very first foster boy. He is also living an incredible life after coming out of Fresno as a stray. He told his Momma that he needed a buddy to play with, and Moche (now Martha) fit the bill!
Inca the first night he arrived.
Skagit and his family came down to meet Moche and they had a grand time together.
Sweet Martha kisses.
Happy life sweet sisters!