Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dog Adoption Interview

I've just completed an interview with Happy Tails Books - Lost Souls Found!
Please stop by and check it out. You'll learn a little more about me too.

While you are there, if you have a rescue or adoption story that you would like to share, Happy Tails accepts stories for publishing!

You can buy Happy Tails - Lost Souls Found! breed specific books as well. A significant portion of sales will go to help dogs in need.

These books would make a great gift for the dog lover you know or for someone that loves dogs, but seems to have everything else. Books last forever, unlike your computer, and they make great coffee table conversation. Once you read these stories, you'll want to share the joy with your friends! In addition to Happy Tails books, the website posts up-to-date information on dogs and animal advocacy news.

I'll be back soon with an update on my Darlin'.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dominant dogs

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. I’m not as nervous as I was about allowing the dogs in the same space. That said, I’m still keeping them separated and rotating, but only until my back is better. My back hurt before the fight when I held Sam back. He is strong and it jerked me holding him, but I’ve had low back pain several times in my life so I thought it would heal up within a week. This time around it kept getting worse. Long story short, it was unbearable so I went to the doctor. I have an MRI scheduled next week because it’s been going on a month. As long as my back hurts I’m not willing to snatch a dog up that’s flying across the room or one dominating another which could provoke another fight. I’ll give you a few examples in this post.

She's good with the cats. This is Baby.

Bonnie has found her new bed. Darlin’ will continue to sleep in her dog bed over on my side of the room. Bonnie will no longer sleep with us and will continue to sleep in the crate. I never thought I’d see the day where I said that, but we are sleeping better and it’s better for everyone. There were a few nights when she whimpered and whined in the crate, but she’s been a good girl well over a week now. I mentioned in one post about Bonnie jumping out of bed and growling at Sam as he entered the room. Well, wait until you here this!

Bonnie had only been sleeping in the crate a week when one night she whined like a puppy and it got to the point I couldn't take it. She had been sleeping well in the crate, but that night changed things. I finally asked my husband to put her in bed with us. She laid down by my legs and went to sleep.

At 5:30 am I walked across the house to use the other bathroom because my husband was in our bathroom taking a shower. Too many lights on in there for me half asleep. Darlin' followed me, Sam and Chloe came to me, so I let the three dogs out. I looked and didn't see Bonnie, and Toby won’t get up until I do in the mornings. Darlin’ runs down to pee and comes right back to the door. I go back to bed and notice Bonnie still sleeping.

I walked around the foot of the bed to my side when Darlin' enters the room. Bonnie looks up and goes crazy growling and barking! She acts like an aggressive dog that you see on TV. I grabbed her so she wouldn't jump off and start a fight in the dark. Darlin' runs over to the bed and has her front feet on my husbands side! That scared me, thinking she might jump into the bed at any second. I pulled Bonnie up out of the bed and I'm holding her up kicking and screaming at Darlin'! I know it empowers a dog to hold them above another dog, especially a dog like Bonnie. I really had no choice with Darlin’ alert and ready for action. Darlin’ was following me in the room, eyes dead on Bonnie! I'm yelling at Darlin', No! no telling how many times. No matter which direction I turned Darlin' was in front of me stalking and if I allowed her to get too close I felt like she was going to lunge at Bonnie in my hands! I finally threw our comforter off the bed over Darlin' so I could turn on the light! About that time my husband comes running into the room wet and soapy out of the shower. I was so upset trying to catch my breath I couldn't even speak! He put Bonnie back in her crate and I settled down and went back to sleep. Before I dozed off I thought to myself about buying a crate for Darlin'. Bonnie was the instigator by threatening Darlin’ with her barking and growling. If Bonnie hadn't started that then Darlin' would have gone right back to bed! So, we all sleep better with Bonnie in her crate, Darlin’ won’t be needing one.

The days following weren’t very easy between the two dogs. They could sleep in the same room and eat together in the kitchen, but the aggression was still there, at least for Bonnie. One night after dinner Bonnie started walking around the kitchen. As soon as I said, “They made eye contact” to my husband, he had to snatch Bonnie up and carry her out of the kitchen. Bonnie would also growl outside of my office door. Darlin’ sometimes whimpers when I close the door which didn’t help. It showed weakness and Bonnie was on the other side showing dominance.

One night I was on the couch with Darlin’ beside me. My husband was on the other couch with Bonnie in her dog bed. I watched him stroking Bonnie’s head as her face grew tense staring over at Darlin’. I was thinking (please don’t stroke her) right about the time she turned into a devil and flies off the couch in our direction! I snatched her up and asked my husband to please be more observant, especially when he’s showing affection. Bonnie has been more submissive with me since. She walks in with her tail down, she comes to the towel when I need to dry her from the rain, and she’s listening much better too. When she comes in from outside I tell her to go to her bed and she will immediately. She still likes to take her dog biscuit to her bed so she can threaten whoever walks by, but most times I wait and she knows to eat it if I’m standing there.

Now that Bonnie is getting better and more submissive, I have to keep my eye on Darlin’. She pulled a fast one and surprised me a few days ago. I was letting a couple of dogs out back first thing in the morning. Bonnie was already out in the yard, so I thought Darlin’ would stay inside with me. She doesn’t like to go down to the yard without me. Well Darlin’ slipped past me and ran down the stairs! I thought Bonnie would come running and I’d have a darn fight on my hands so I ran inside and grabbed my little cow bell and took off to the yard. It’s a distracter, a noise maker I came up with to distract them if they were to dominate or provoke one another. Darlin’ runs straight across the yard to Bonnie at the fence! My eyes must have been huge as I ran down and started shaking the bell. Bonnie came walking calmly to me with her tail down and Darlin’ is standing out there with her hackles raised looking right down at Bonnie! I picked Bonnie up and praised her for her behavior, told Darlin’ No!, and motioned for her to get back. The rotating continues until I can handle these too without further injuries to each other or my low back.

I got my first real kisses from Darlin’ on Nov. 1, 2009! She’s very playful in the mornings and she’s always excited when I get dressed and talk to her. She’ll follow me to the bathroom and sometimes sit next to my feet when I’m on the toilet. That’s when I leaned over to her, she leaned her head up and back and licked my nose! I know, now I’m on the toilet kissing dogs! Later that day I leaned down to kiss her and she licked me again. Then one day last week I was sitting at my desk with her lying at my feet and she licked my foot! I’m getting kisses from my girl now!

She will initiate play in the floor with me too! Sometimes she’ll jump up and put her paws on my stomach, then quickly give me a play bow! She is precious and playful, but we still don’t get out enough.

Darlin’ is getting use to the noises in the house too. For the first months that she lived upstairs she would hide and tremble at the sound of the vacuum cleaner. Now she’ll run back and forth in the room and watch me. She used to hide and tremble when I used my blow dryer. Now she’ll go to her bed and lie there calmly as soon as she sees me pull it out from my cabinet. She’s still uncomfortable hearing my sons music or TV, but I think her anxiety comes from the fact that she isn’t comfortable around my family yet. I can drop a spoon and she moves but doesn’t run.

She’s still guarding and territorial. Tonight she growled and barked at my husband as he offered all of the dog’s treats. She ran from one side of the room to the other, but her tail was down low the entire time. She's insecure. He kept calling her to him as he passed out treats on his knees in the kitchen. She finally went to him to get one! She loves her dog biscuits. She barks when my daughter walks in my office, then quickly hides under my desk and gets quiet. Sometimes I shake a pill bottle. I have been shaking a vitamin bottle to teach her to hush, but I was advised not to by a trainer on my Facebook. She said it will make her issue worse. Well, it works where nothing else has. It basically gets her attention so that she will hear me tell her No, or Go. The trainer also said that a fearful stray equals an emotional leader. She was fearful when I got her and she has made phenomenal progress in 8 months. Oh my goodness, eight months today! She may not be comfortable with my family, but she loves her Mommy which is more than I could have hoped for.

I just noticed, look at her tail and how high she's carrying it walking past Sam. That's dominance!

I need to get Darlin’ out of the house more so she won’t be afraid of the leash and go stiff on me. She also needs more exercise because she doesn’t run around the yard much. She’s gaining weight. Her belly fat from having puppies is starting to fill out. Because we have a big yard and dog activities, like Frisbee for Bonnie, we don’t walk them that much. My husband will take them each out for walks over the weekend. This way he gets exercise in and manages the dogs better. He’s thinking about starting to run again so that will be nice for them. I want him to take Darlin’ too. I know the first few times she will freeze like she does with me. But it’s a good way for him to spend time with her and for her to see that he’s a good guy.

See her tummy in this one.

This past week my husband has been fixing the dogs food and taken it to Darlin’ the few times I kept the dogs separated at meal time. So she is learning his scent and to associate it with her resources as well. He’s also learned my routine and how I feed the dogs. I have my quirks and certain dogs get their bowl down first. They also have to sit quiet and calm before it goes down. They eat canned dog food with chicken broth and a little meat on top. Yes, my doing. I started cooking for Darlin’ and never quite stopped. I don’t mind boiling chicken once a week. My sister asked one night what I was cooking for dinner. I told her if my husband didn’t mind boiled chicken thighs that we would be in good shape!

My husband has been watching me more and how I interact with the dogs. I showed him that he could treat the dogs when they come inside by pointing to the floor. They don’t have to be told to sit every time you give them a treat. Most of the time they sit anyway if there is any hesitation on my part whatsoever. Sam and Chloe walk in and sit automatically. And they certainly don’t need to be praised every time they take a treat from your hand. All of the dogs do this including Darlin’.

I need to put Darlin’ in the car and ride around the block. I’d love to take her to my Vet in January for her heartworm test follow-up. If I did those things then I would have tons of work cut out for me in just a couple of months if I expect Darlin’ to be comfortable in those situations. I know she’ll be tense and fearful which is mostly why I haven’t hurried introducing her to new things.

Here Sam was on the ground, Darlin' had been sniffing him.

It’s not easy living with five dogs. They do take a lot of time out of my day and sometimes they take a lot out of me. I really love my dogs. The trainer also asked me why I rescued Darlin’, what was I needing to rescue in myself? I’m still pondering that one. I’m so glad that Darlin’ is here with us and not out in the cold tonight. I know she has helped me be a more patient person and that lesson is ongoing. I know that Darlin’ has helped me learn about and understand the canine world a little better. I have to keep my eye on them, but I learn so much in doing so. The trainer also said that everyone wants to be like Cesar and walk a pack of dogs. Nah, I’ll decline on that one, I don’t like dog hair and vacuuming that much. I never wanted five dogs, but I had to get Darlin’ off the street, for her safety and my sanity. I hear the phrase “It is what it is” isn’t favored by many people. It is what it is, I have five dogs that I’m committed to until they cross the bridge someday. Right now I just want to outlive them all because they are my responsibility and I want to keep it that way. The only thing I want to change right now is for Darlin’ to trust my family and for her and Bonnie to go back to how they behaved before their fight. Sometimes it’s hard to balance everything and maintain structure and routine. While separating the dogs has become part of my routine, it hasn’t been challenging. The rest has been easy.