Monday, December 26, 2011

Post #34: Buster Leaves Us Too Soon

Buster Leaves Us Too Soon
We are so sad to tell our fans and followers that Buster passed away shortly before Christmas, after suffering a sudden decline in health.  We thought at first that he had injured a leg and would respond to a few days of rest and pain control, but it was soon evident that the situation was far more serious.  A dedicated team of GSRA volunteers and vet clinic staff kept him comfortable through his final days and surrounded by love until the very end, and all were touched by his gentle spirit.
Of course, all GSRA dogs are equally worthy of finding loving homes, but it’s hard to deny that there was something special about Buster that went much deeper than his stunning good looks.  We’ve tried to convey that in these blog posts, and I hope it has come through.  My intent in this final post is to share some of my favorite memories of him.
No Barrier for Buster
This was taken shortly after Buster came to my home for foster care.  I had constructed a barrier to keep the dogs out of the kitchen while I mopped the floor, and happened to glance up to see that my labors were being watched.  Do you see a Buster-sized hole there?  Me neither.  This was an early indication that Buster had “opinions” about things and would apply his considerable determination to overcoming obstacles.  Maybe there’s a lesson there for all of us.
GSRA's Top Model

Buster was proud at the reunion picnic to see so many people wearing “his” tee-shirts.  If anyone isn’t aware, that’s him on the back of the blue tie-died shirts.
Buster's T-shirt

2011 GSRA Reunion Picnic

Another happy memory from the picnic was this wonderful photo of Buster with the rest of the Fab Five (from left to right:  Tina, Buster, Georgia, Gunner, and Queenie).  This so perfectly captures the work of GSRA that no additional words are needed.

Group Snuggle
During group snuggle time, Buster uses body language to tell us what he thinks about his place in the pack.

In late September Buster had what was probably a new experience for him:  a hike in the woods to a river swimming hole.  He was fascinated by all the autumn smells in the woods and kept up a steady pace for the two-mile round trip, which was a big walk for him.  At the river, determination to follow his people took him into the water and swimming!  He wore a look of surprise initially, but then soon relaxed and paddled around for a while.  He also enjoyed lying right at the water’s edge and taking in the scene.  Now that he’s gone and I no longer have his gentle presence in my home, I find myself remembering this day, Buster’s own perfect “moment in time.”  One day, when the time is right, this is where I will return to scatter his ashes.
Buster's Perfect Moment in Time
The tragedy of loving these magnificent dogs is that we outlive them by so much.  We dearly wish that Buster could have had more time in his new life, but he surely embraced the time he did have.  Rest in peace Big Guy, you touched so many of us.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Post #33: Sweet Georgia Finds a Home!

Sweet Georgia Finds a Home!

Hi Mom!!
Hey ya’ll I finally convinced my foster Mama and Dada that I didn’t want to go anywhere else that I was at my fur ever home!  They agreed!!!  I’m so happy I’ve been adopted and all I have to do all day is lay on my comfy bed and ROO ROO at mama when she comes to the door.  Then we go play.  I really like to take care of Mama with my sisters (no longer foster sis’s) we will really raise our voices when we are home alone with Mama (even if it is Dada coming through the door).  I want to thank all my loyal fans who wished me well and donated money for our care, the rest of the Fab 
Relaxing in the Sun
 Five are doing great too.  I got to see all my kennelmates at the 2nd annual GSRA reunion.  That was so much fun, but I got a little tired, there were so many pretty GSD’s there that it got a little overwhelming for me.  But I stayed close to Mama and protected her.  It was a tough job and I slept all the way home!  Did you hear that “HOME”!

I am coming Mama!
From no longer foster mom:
We fell in love with sweet Georgia Girl and after I talked with the first potential adopters and realized that I might lose my sweet girl I couldn’t bear it.  So we adopted her.  She is an awesome 40th birthday present!!!  Georgia is now playing with toys and throwing them into the air!  She is engaging my other dogs in play, and sticks her head into the fridge when I open the door.  Georgia is a real part of the family!  She no longer watches, but joins in.  
Georgia's Toys

Thanks GSRA for taking in these awesome dogs and giving me the opportunity to bring Georgia out of her shell and be a 10 year old puppy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Post #32: Buster Has News!

Buster's been busy

Buster Has News!
Buster’s been a busy boy since you last heard from him!  To begin with, he considered ALL the wonderful people who wanted to offer him a permanent home, and decided on the family that he wanted to “try out.”  That trial adoption unfortunately did not work as well as we all thought it would, so Buster is back with me now and open to considering other suitors. ;-)
It remains extremely fortuitous that he went on trial when he did, though, because his potential adopter took him to the vet for a get acquainted visit.  We encourage all adopters to do this during the trial period, to make sure they have an independent assessment of the dog’s health (i.e., have information from other than GSRA), and in this case we were both grateful the visit occurred and completely shocked by the outcome:  the vet detected a softball-sized mass in Buster’s abdomen!   This struck fear in everyone’s heart, of course, that we might lose this sweet boy to cancer so soon after offering him a life of ease.  Two days later, an ultrasound test showed the mass was associated with his spleen but did not appear to have spread beyond it.  Although not wonderful, this was actually the best news we could hope for at that point, because there was a chance that surgery could be curative.
Buster had a serious shave for his surgery
Buster underwent surgery the next day to remove his spleen and what indeed turned out to be a softball-sized mass.  He came through the surgery like the champ that he is, but then the waiting began for the pathology results to come back.  We would have to wait six long days, because of the Labor Day holiday….  Finally, the news we had all been hoping and praying for:  NOT MALIGNANT!   Woo-hoo!  Many “happy dances” occurred among the GSRA folks in the loop on this!  After a complete biopsy, it turns out that that big mass was nothing more than a big ol’ hematoma --- an overgrown blood clot.  It most likely resulted from some kind of injury (and we hate to think too much about this), but it’s gone now and will cause no further problems.  And an adult dog can get along very easily without a spleen.
Say "howdy" to this handsome boy
at the reunion!!
The cancer scare, surgery, and recovery interrupted the usual “settling in” things that occur during an adoption trial, so we extended the trial by a few weeks.  It eventually turned out to not be a good fit, for a number of reasons, and the potential adopters were heartbroken to conclude this.   Although disappointing, this is EXACTLY why we have a trial period in the first place; we don’t want either our dogs OR our adopters to be stuck in situations that aren’t ideal.  So Buster is back in his original foster home now, settling in easily.  We owe the lovely trial family a HUGE debt of thanks for seeing him through such a scary time. 
Buster lost some of the gains we had made in his physical condition during the time he had to minimize activity after surgery, but we’re working on that again.  You know, not seeing him every day during the time he was on trial allowed me to somehow lose sight of how INCREDIBLY handsome he is, not to mention sweet.  I hope you get a chance to see him in the flesh yourself.  He’ll be moseying around the GSRA reunion picnic on October 2nd and would be most happy to make your acquaintance.  ;-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Post #31: We have Georgia on our minds.

Just a few notes from Georgia’s mom.

Georgia and Foster Sis
Georgia has been with us for almost 2 months now, and has really settled into the routine, so I’m afraid I don’t have much exciting news to share other than that Georgia has finally realized she could bark without getting into trouble.  When I leave I have to put her in her kennel which she isn’t too pleased about anymore and will give me some loud BARK BARKs to let me know she does not appreciate the fact that she has to be in the kennel.
I WILL get that bee!
She continues to eat well (but extremely slow or maybe her foster sisters eat too fast!) and rides great in the truck.  She has taken several road trips with foster sister Tara.  She walks great on the leash and we are starting to get longer walks in now that it is getting a little cooler in the evenings.   Georgia is great at the Pets Mart, she has quite a few admirers, just about everyone we walk by has to stop and say how beautiful she is.  Which of course I have to agree with!  

Other than that she is enjoying the good doggie life that she deserves.  I will get Georgia back on the blog soon so you can hear from her.  Who knows she maybe on the website real soon!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Post #30: Queenie Goes to School

Queenie Goes to School

Queenie, Jon and foster sisters

Queenie's been with us now a little over a month. While she has made huge strides in some areas (she's eating like a champ now!!) she continues to have issues with feeling comfortable in her own fur. It's like she doesn't know what she wants. Well, actually, she knows what she wants, it's just that her "wants" and real life, don't exactly mesh. If Queenie could have it her way, she would lay on the living room rug, at a vantage point where she could see everything that is happening in the house, but not be involved in it directly. She would never be left alone, she would never be crated or put in her dog pen, she would be allowed to chew anything and everything her heart's desire, her humans would be satisfied with her giving "drive by" kisses and not ask for any other attention from her and she would always have her sister Iris, the only creature she seems to really trust, right by her side. Hm...yeah, there are just a *few* problems with Queenie's ideal life :) 

I am ok over here!
Whenever we are rehabbing a rescue dog there is always that balance you have to strike between letting them go at their own pace, but then also challenging them to reach further so they can actually make progress. You want them to feel comfortable, but you can't baby them. Every dog is different and every foster job requires that you learn what your dog can and can't handle so that you keep them moving forward in the direction of being ready for adoption one day. In this regard, Queenie has probably been our hardest foster case. She also came to us at a time when our house was already full (with 6 other dogs), so the amount of time we are able to spend with her has not been optimal. It was with these things in mind that we reached out to a fellow rescuer for help. 

Queenie considering a dip in the pool
Enter Keith. Keith is not your average rescuer. In fact, he kind of fell into this rescue gig. He fosters and trains service dogs but in the course of his work he was put in touch with someone who could no longer care for their GSD. Long story short, Keith started working with the dog (Joe), contacted GSRA and Joe was rescued by GSRA. However, that experience prompted Keith to want to work more with the breed, especially more timid GSDs that would benefit from the kind of training he was familiar with. It seemed totally serendipitous that I worked with Keith to find Joe a foster home and then Keith wanted to work more with shy GSDs. I mean, what better subject could Keith hope for that our very own Miss Queenie? This seemed like the perfect win:win situation for everyone and so we agreed that Queenie would start visiting with Keith a couple of times a week to see how she did.

The first visit she had with Keith was last weekend. She went along with big sister Iris as we thought she'd feel more comfortable that way. Keith and hos family took Queenie, Iris and their dog Macy to Umstead Park in Raleigh and went for a hike. Keith reported that Queenie did GREAT! He noticed that she is a naturally curious dog who has all the traits of a great GSD. She is attentive, obedient, great on leash when directed how to walk and she has the kind of nose that picks up scents...and the drive to want to follow those scents!! He said her timid nature definitely gets in the way of her natural curiosity, but all the same he was very happy to see this side to her. 
Queenie going to get the leash
Last Friday, Queenie went for her second visit with Keith, and her first on her own. Naturally, she was more nervous than the first time, but even so, Keith was very, very impressed with how she handled things. He worked with her on "waiting" at the front door before going out and he also continued to work with her on her issues with stairs (yes, she is still completely uncoordinated when it comes to either going up or down stairs!!). They went for lots of walks in a near by park and, once again, she had a great time sniffing things out. When we went and picked her up she was calm but very happy to see us. Today, however, was the best visit yet. Keith started out by trying to do some very basic obedience exercises with her but he said that she wasn't quite able to relax enough to the point where she could focus for these lessons. So he just let her be and let her hang out in the house and get used to new surroundings. He noticed that, when she would get antsy (as she often does during the night at home) she would start to almost panic and want to get outside. She paced, she jumped up on furniture, scratched at windows etc... Keith told us that taught her the word "NO" today in response to these antics. It seems obvious, I know, to want to reprimand a dog for this kind of behavior (especially when they are jumping at the windows hard enough that they could, conceivably break them), but until now, we have not been sure of whether or not she was ready for this kind of reprimand. In reality though, I don't think *we* were ready for *giving* this reprimand to our delicate (so we think) little Queenie
This goes along with what I started off this blog by saying: it's really hard to know how to balance love and teaching when dealing with some foster dogs. Anyway, probably not surprisingly, Queenie didn't melt into a puddle of shaking fear, or self-combust with terror at being told "NO", she simply stopped doing what she was doing and went and laid down and observed... And what she saw made a big impression on her! Macy, Keith's Golden Retriever puppy who is in training to be a service dog, knows that, when she wants to go out, she has to pick up her leash and bring it to Keith. I guess Queenie had watched this a couple if times over the course of the morning and so, after her window antics hadn't gotten her the outside time she was hoping for, Keith said he saw her walk over to where her leash lay on the table. He said he watched Queenie look at the leash, look at Macy, look at the leash, look at Keith...and then she slowly picked the leash up in her mouth and looked at Keith. She didn't manage to bring it over to him but the message had been clear: Queenie was asking to go outside...please :) How about that???
When we went and got our little protege Keith talked to us about taking Queenie through the Canine Good Citizen training. He said that, in all honesty, he doubted she would be able to pass it, but he said the lessons and skills she would learn, and the self confidence she would gain during the training, would really help her develop. We are absolutely THRILLED with this idea. Imagine that, our little girl Queenie is going to school :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Post #29: Buster Channels His Inner Dog

Buster Channels His Inner Dog
Buster’s smile is brighter now that his teeth are clean.
Buster’s been with me for almost a month now.  Much of my news on him isn’t remarkable in and of itself, but I hope anyone who’s been following this story will realize the wonderful milestones these events represent for Buster.  First, a little medical news:  Buster came through his recent dental cleaning and neuter with flying colors.  He was still groggy from the anesthesia when I picked him up, but did me proud by trudging right up the ramp into the car.  Good boy, Buster!  See Blog post #23 for the backstory on how big a deal this is. ;-)
Buster likes the cool dirt under the deck.
As he’s figured out the household routine and become increasingly comfortable, it’s a joy to see normal doggie behaviors start to emerge.  I first saw this when he started to recognize the sound of my car returning and would appear at the gate with the rest of the crew as I emerged from the garage, with his tail gently wagging.  Then into the house through the doggie door to join the swirl of happiness that the pack is reunited!  This joyful greeting when I return home is such a simple --- yet essential --- part of dog ownership for me.  Has Buster ever gotten to participate in this before?  Has a person been overjoyed to see him, too?  I don’t know, and it hurts my heart to wonder….but I DO know the greeting ritual will be part of his routine from this day forward.

The Big Man likes to wrestle with young Chess
Buster has also started to play!   I first encountered this as a bunch of thumping around behind me as I worked at the computer.  Turning around, I was amazed and amused to see him “wrestling” with young Chester: shoving each other around with their shoulders, spinning to deliver a hip check, grinning (!), having a big ol’ time skittering around on the hardwood floor.  Now, Chester is a big boy, too (90+ lbs), and has youth on his side, but he can’t yet take down the Big Man. ;-)  They looked for all the world like a kid and a favorite uncle roughhousing on a weekend afternoon.

Outside, Buster’s play efforts are a bit clumsy, and could easily be interpreted by another dog as inappropriate/aggressive.  But then how would you, as a mature adult, like to try to learn the rules of the playground?  You probably wouldn’t find it very easy, either.  Buster’s not at all interested in chasing a BALL, but he LOVES to chase another DOG chasing a ball. Of course, he’s not very fast, so watching this is much like watching a freight train gather speed and momentum.  Imagine 100+ pound Buster lumbering toward you with a determined look on his face.  Yikes!  Chester sees this and decides to just keep on moving. ;-)  Max ignored/evaded it for awhile, but then decided he wasn’t thrilled to have the big lug interfering in his game.  So he screwed up his courage and gave Buster a stern correction!  I held my breath, wondering what would happen next, and….Buster backed down, seeming to say “Oh.  Well, pardon ME!” So, the lesson was learned, and we now know that Buster will both “get it” and “take it” when another dog points out his misbehavior.
Nothin’ like a good bone to chew on.

 I bet I can make it through the doggie door with this…
Finally, Buster has also discovered the joy of a good bone.  We’ve been having quite a conversation about whether bones should be enjoyed inside or outside, and we both have strong opinions on the matter. ;-)  Although I prevail most of the time, his big maw can conceal a lot of things, so the bone does make it inside occasionally.  He looks indignant when I take it away to toss it outside, but is too well-mannered to object.

Just hangin’ on the deck
So that’s what Buster’s been up to.  Just happy living an unremarkable doggie life….

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Post #28: Update from Georgia

Georgia on the Prowl
Hey Ya’ll,
It has been awhile since I last blogged.  I’ve been busy getting better!  Dada says I’m an 11 year old puppy!   The other night I saw this butterfly flying around me and I watched to see what it was doing!  It just flew around and was so pretty.   I also remembered that bumble bees had to be snapped out of the air!  Those pesky bees bother Mama so I have to take them out!  I love to watch my foster sisters play, and actually tried to join in.  I think I scared them because I don’t bark.  I do this GRRUUWWWWLLLMOOAANN thing and they think I want to fight instead of play. 

Getting LOVES from Uncle Vic
I have to thank my Auntie Kara who is a GSRA volunteer and works at the Animal Hospital that got rid of that nasty cyst.  The great doc and techs took such good care of me.  I wasn’t able to meet Auntie Kara (she was visiting her human family) but she hooked me up with 2 bags of goodies.  I wasn’t eating much at first and she sent Foster Mama home with all kinds of good doggie food to get me to eat!  It worked!  I’m eating all my food now except for 1 kibble!   I leave it for Mama!  She seems to think it is funny!  Now all I have to do is keep my foster sisters from tearing up my new purple turtle from Auntie Kara until I’m ready to help in the destruction!  I will keep you posted.  
Boys needed some help!
I helped Dada and Uncle Vic fix the lawn mower today!  Those boys really did need some help!  

"Ok Georgia Girl can I have a few words!WOOF WOOF!! OK Mama.  Talk to ya’ll later!!

I can’t believe how Georgia Girl has come around now that she is feeling better!  She is the happiest puppy ever!  She is learning how to be a dog again and I can’t wait to hear her actually bark!  We will keep you posted.  I know Georgia will surprise me like she did when she climbed up on her own comfy bed! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Post #27: Gunner Living the Life

Gunner Striking a Pose
Well it is the one month anniversary of Gunner entering foster care, and boy has this dog blossomed!  He has gone from a frantic, scared boy to a well adjusted GSD.  He has gone from a dog who has had no exposure to an inside life, or even a life with human interaction, to one that LOVES being inside, thrives on being with family, has numerous favorite places in our house, and has discovered the joy of playing with toys and other GSD's.  Considering his very secluded life, he has the curiosity of a puppy.  He is not scared of things, just cautious.  He will look at me, then walk over and check things out.  Over the past month, Gunner has become one of my pack, and is thoroughly enjoying being with his people, especially me.  His favorite spot at bedtime is on our master bathroom floor, where its nice and cool. 
Gunner in his "cool" place
He will come to check on me throughout the night, but always returns to the bathroom floor. 
To sleep on the bed or not!
He hasn't quite figured out that a dog bed is meant to be laid on, probably since he has never had one before. 

We have been taking daily walks, pretty much from day one.  Since he was kenneled all of his life, he has no muscle mass in his back legs.  With the walking, he is slowly building up those muscles, and is one of the first in line to go out for his walk! 
Since Gunner was so nervous at first, we concentrated on having him adjust to our family and dogs, and left the obedience training to a later date when he was more settled.  He is a smart cookie, and will sit before he goes for his walk, and is one of the first dogs to sit before being allowed to come into the house after his walk.  He sits for his treats, and almost all of the other times that we ask him to now.  He learned "leave it" pretty early on since he had no prior training or exposure, and some things dogs are just supposed to leave alone!  In my opinion, it is one of the most important commands for a dog to know.  He will leave it when asked every time.  The "come" command is coming along nicely, and with continued practice, will continue to improve.

I don't really want to be out here!
Gunner was THE MOST difficult dog that I have ever had to house break!  At first, it was just that he did not know better.  All of his life he just went in the kennel.  Now our house was considered his kennel!  Then, it was because he was scared to leave the "safety zone" of our house.  He would not go outside alone, and we would have to put him on a leash to get him to go out and do his business. Often times, it took 15 minutes of walking around in our fenced yard to entice him go.  It was heart breaking to watch the fear in his eyes as we asked him to go away from his comfort zone, but we needed to get him over this hurdle.  He would constantly try to go to the steps to come back inside.  Finally one day, I decided that I would use treats to entice him to go outside off leash and praise him for that, then praise him when he went to the potty.  Well, this strategy worked!  We still have to tell him to go outside and do his business sometimes, but he will go out and be successful!  I can now put my carpet cleaner away!  I felt as if the heavens had opened up!  Yay Gunner!
Did you see the size of that SQUIRREL???
Gunner and his friend
Over the past week and a half, we have started leaving Gunner out of his crate when we leave the house.  At first it was for an hour or two, and now it has graduated to about 6 1/2 hours.  He has done very well, and has proven himself to be trustworthy so far.  This is a big relief, since he never developed the fondness for his crate, and it was never considered his "safe" place.  Gunner loves to run to our living room windows, which are the windows to adventure for our dogs.  The squirrels and rabbits provide endless entertainment for them.  I swear one of the rabbits main mission in life is to taunt them.  The endless supply of neighbors walking keeps them stimulated as well. 

I am pretending I don't know how good looking I am.

When Gunner goes for his daily walks, he gets socialized with some of the neighborhood dogs, neighbors, and children.  What started out as aloofness has turned into curiosity, and now approval.  He lets people pet him, and he acknowledges by a gentle lick on the hand.  While Gunner will probably never be a dog that goes bounding up to people he doesn't know to greet them, he has become social and will approach them and allow to be petted.  One thing for sure though, this boy stops people in their tracks to admire his true beauty!  I had someone that drove past our street, turn around in their car to meet him.  It is a pretty awesome feeling to be walking three big GSD's, heeled at my side, walking tall, proud, and gorgeous!  I am so proud of how far my boy has come, and can't help but look back to that month ago when that frantic, scared boy came into our lives. His progress makes me beam with joy!  He is a true blessing, and  we LOVE him very much! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Post #26: My Fair Queenie

My Fair Queenie

Beautiful Queenie
Queenie has made a lot of progress over the last week and it occurred to me that living with her, and teaching her all the wonderful things that life has to offer is a little like the story My Fair Lady. Queenie is a canine version of Eliza Doolittle (albeit with a little less spunk) and we are like Professor Higgins (but much, much kinder thank you very much!!). We have plucked Queenie out of a life that had little to offer her and have transported her to a world where everything is new, every experience is eye-opening and people are kind and generous. I'd love to think that, by the end of our tutelage, Queenie will make as dramatic a transformation as Eliza did in the movie, but I guess we will have to wait and see on that one. In the mean time though, both her Foster Dad and I are having a blast seeing her blossom into a happy, even-keeled young dog. 

Queenie - Standing pretty
We've started taking her out places with us to expose her to some new places and people. Yesterday we went and visited another volunteer who had been looking after Queenie's sister Iris over the weekend. Iris was gaining some new experiences herself, so when we went to pick her up, we thought it would be a good opportunity for Queenie to come along and meet a new friend and be reunited with her sister. Seeing the 2 dogs recognize each other and react to being together again was really beautiful. Iris wagged her tail till we thought it might fall off and Queenie showered her sister with kisses on the muzzle. There's no doubt these 2 girls are bonded!! Queenie then spent a little time with the volunteer who had been working with Iris. He gave her some lessons on how to navigate the stairs (she is still leaping with abandon down them!!). It only took her a couple of minutes to catch on to what was being asked of her, and even though she was deathly afraid of taking those steps down, she did it. In those few minutes I saw just how intelligent and willing to please this sweet girl is - such a wonderful example of why we love this breed!! 

Queenie keeping a close eye on us...from a distance
A couple of other "firsts" this week included being left uncrated in the main house while we went out to the gym this morning. We were both a little nervous about that experiment, but it went well - all pillows and rugs were still accounted for when we got back!! She also licked my breakfast plate for the first time this morning - I know, I know, not the greatest thing to teach a dog, but when you see dogs like Queenie just being a "dog"it really fills your heart with happiness. All our other dogs gather around when we are eating (especially breakfast) and know that there is a really good chance they will get to lick my plate at the end and take care of any egg I might have left behind. Well, much to my surprise today, Queenie joined the line of dogs sitting patiently for me to finish. So we went down the line - everyone getting a couple of licks to make sure the plate was completely clean. Queenie took her turn like a champ and was very conscientious in her cleaning duties!! It really made me smile. Which reminds me of another Queenie incident that made me smile recently. We decided to leave her out in "general pop" one night as she seemed very calm and her and Iris were snuggled together, so it seemed a shame to make her go downstairs to her "room". So, off we went to bed with clear instructions to all the dogs to be good. At about 2.00am I was woken up by barking. I knew instantly which dog it was (our alpha male) and I could tell just as quickly that something was not right. I turned the light on and looked downstairs and there I found quite the scene!! Iris and her brother were crowded on the stairs looking at me as if to say "we tried to tell her it wasn't right!!" and there, in the living room, was Queenie, wagging her tail and standing in the middle of destruction!! In the few short hours we had been asleep, she had torn down some blinds, chewed her foster Dad's wallet (no idea where she got it as I have gone looking for it before and never been able to find it!!!), torn to shreds a vintage shoulder bag, chewed some batteries, destuffed a cushion and somehow managed to remove her collar and rendered it useless by chewing off the clasp!!! Queenie was standing surrounded by all this mayhem wagging happily - apparently completely unawares that what she had just done was a MAJOR no-no!!! How could I be angry? I didn't want to be a buzz kill for her, so I just patted her and gave her kisses and then promptly put her in her room for the night!!! Of course, we'd already learned the hard way not to put any kind of rug or dog bed in with her - she is QUITE the artiste when it comes to mixed media consisting of rug fibers and pillow stuffing!! Still, its nothing that hasn't already been done a dozen or so times here, so there's really no harm done. And it kind of worked to her advantage as she got a brand new collar out of the whole episode!
Queenie's new collar

To complete the list of "firsts" for this week, today was the first time Queenie came with her foster Dad to pick me up from work - all on her own. When I came out of my building and saw her across the street I was struck by just how beautiful this girl is. She is tall and graceful and has just the perfect combination of colors from her parents (Buster and Susann). It took her a moment to realize who I was, but when she did she lowered her head shyly but pulled her foster Dad over to where I was. Boy oh boy was I a proud Mama :) Everyone was looking at her - I mean, how could you not? She did well with the attention, but was clearly relieved to also get back to the safety of the car. Still, it's these baby steps in her rehabilitation that make all the difference. I'm quite sure that it won't be long before Queenie is happily barking, "the rain in spain stays mainly on the plane"!! .....if you don't get this, look up My Fair Lady in Wikipedia :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Post #25: Tina Learns to Eat

Tina getting ready for her nightly walk

My name is Clementine, but the people who love me call me Tina, Tina Bear, Tina Toodles, the list goes on. Who knew humans were so silly? I didn’t! As I am sure you all know, I lived in a kennel all my life. It is hard to imagine now, but when I first got to my new home, all I wanted was to return to that kennel. The humans said it was bad, but it was the only home I knew and I was so scared. But, I have met so many nice humans since leaving the kennel; I can’t imagine going back now.

I need to thank a few people. First, I must thank my Angie. Yes, my new mom read the note you left me in my food. I was so upset that night, I didn’t understand the words at first, but I smelled you and that made it better. I must also thank all the wonderful people in GSRA that came out to the kennels and bathed us and walked us and showed us that a human’s hand means love.

Tina thinking about her blog
I asked my mom what I should write. Should I go back and tell everyone how scared and confused I was? How I just didn’t know how to be and it upset me so much? Or should I tell people how I am doing now and try to make people smile? My mom, being the silly person she is, said, let’s make people smile!  She particularly likes to talk about my poop (I will explain later!)

Everything really started to change for me the day my mom took me to the vet. Asher, my friend, kindly volunteered to go with me so it was not as scary. But, I still didn’t know what was happening. Was she taking me to another home? Was I going back to the kennel? I can admit now, that I was scared. I was starting to like this new home and it broke my heart that I was leaving. Amazingly, my mom brought me back home! I was so excited that I decided to play with my mom and show her how happy I was. Well, that was a good thing! I made my mom laugh and I like that so much I now play with her a lot. I think she might get sad if I didn’t.

I could just eat this Stuffed Gator. Roll Tide!
I still would not eat. My mom was so upset I could tell. I couldn’t explain to her that my belly hurt and I was sick to my stomach. If only humans and dogs could communicate better. Finally, mom started putting the BIG pills down my throat. After she would put that pill down my throat she would kiss all over my face. I really like that, so I now take my pills like a champ and I get my kisses! Actually, mom kisses me all of the time. My foster brothers and sister say that is just something you have to get used to around here. I have NO PROBLEM with it, Bring on The Kisses!!!!!

Getting mom kisses with my brother Asher
I did feel sorry for my mom though. She tried all kinds of foods. She even made me eat some by putting it in a syringe. For days, that is the only food I ate. She tried so many different kinds of specialty dog food. She should have taken a picture. She bought two of every kind in hopes that I would eat it. But, I didn’t. Mom bought some canned chicken and I liked that! Mom said it wasn’t good for me, but let me eat it since it was the only thing I would eat. My mom is a vegetarian and she does not cook meat in her house. To the amazement of my Papa and foster siblings, mom went to the store and bought chicken! She boiled chicken and rice for me. But, I still wouldn’t eat it. Mom didn’t know that I don’t like rice. So then she just boiled chicken and she hand fed me. The plain chicken was what I needed to get my tummy working a little. I didn’t know what a big deal this was until my family explained that she would not have done that for anyone else! Wow! My mom truly loves me. It really is amazing because I am 9 years old and I am not sure that before GSRA I had someone to love me.
Well, my eating issues did not miraculously improve. All I would eat was one chicken breast a day. Not enough for a big girl like me my mom said. She kept trying can food, baby food, human food and she kept making me eat some with the syringe. I was starting to make that difficult for mom, so as long as I would eat a chicken breast she didn’t force me to eat. This went on for almost 2 weeks.

I was hungry, but I couldn’t explain to mom what I needed. I am not sure I even knew what I needed. I was in the kitchen with her one day and I was sniffing around. Mom thought maybe I was hungry. She opened a can of special high calorie food and let me sniff the can; I walked away. Poor mom, she was upset. When mom opened that can though, my foster brothers and sister came RUNNING!!! They said that mom just opened the best smelling stuff in the world. I saw them all sitting in the kitchen and I went back to see what all the fuss was about. Mom was feeding them all from a spoon. Each dog got a turn. I was standing there and mom offered me a turn; I said, “what the heck, when in Rome…” That made mom so happy! She kept going down the line, Asher’s turn, Dezzie’s turn, Harry’s turn, Tina’s turn… And each time I took my turn. Mom opened another can and kept the game going! Mom did that hugging and kissing thing again so it seems like I did a good thing!

The medication was starting to work. The doctor thinks I might have a stomach ulcer and that was causing me to get sick when I eat. I am still not eating enough and I do have special rules that must be followed!! In the morning I would like Beneful Prepared Meals, it took my mom A LOT of experimenting with different food to find that. I want it in the kitchen with my bowl on a soft towel. If I will not eat, I want my mom to get out a spoon and feed it to me that way. Oh, breakfast can never be before 9:30. I don’t eat before 9:30, don’t really like to get up before that. Some days I want lunch. On those days I will come into the kitchen and nose the pantry door. I like to keep mom on her toes so I change my mind about what I want for lunch. She sometimes offers me several different choices before I decide. For dinner, I like Beneful dry food. But, sometimes I want the Prepared Meals and I let mom know AFTER she has fixed my dinner. Last night I ate 4 cups of dry food. The day before I only ate 1 cup. Mom says that I need to eat at least 4 cups of food a day. I am working on it.

Last week, when I first started eating a little, my mom was on the phone with a group from GSRA. She was standing in the kitchen talking to them and I noticed the pantry door was open. Mom was busy and I thought a chewie was a GREAT idea, so I went into the pantry and helped myself. My mom got so excited!!! She did that hug and kiss thing again, she even cried a little when she got off the phone. Humans are VERY easy to please. I get a snack and they get happy!

One of Tina's Many Rugs
The other problem I had when I first came was terrible diarrhea, and then I stopped going to the bathroom all together. This REALLY worried my mom so she took me back to the vet. At the vet they ran all kinds of tests. When I go in to be spayed, they will check my spleen, which is too large and my intestines. But, a couple of days ago I finally went to the bathroom and my mom started jumping up and down and told me what a good girl I was for going “poopy” as she calls it. She even sent emails and posted on Facebook that I pooped. She and I are going to have a discussion about this. I am a proper southern lady and I don’t need her talking about my bodily functions!

Mom, I love you!
I could go on and on about life here. Every day I get more comfortable. I LOVE my mom. I just love her so much I can’t stand it sometimes. When she leaves I am starting to have something my mom called separation anxiety. She told me that isn’t good. She said that she will always come back so it is ok to relax while she is gone. She used to put me in the bedroom with another dog while she was gone. This morning though, I explained to her that I didn’t like that and I got to stay out with all the dogs. Another thing I do when my mom leaves is howl. I howl and cry until she comes home. Papa said that mama isn’t allowed to leave while he is home anymore. I guess my howling was a bit loud for him! Oops. 

I never knew that life could be like this. Mom tells me that I have 100s of people to thank. I just don’t know why my life could not have been this good all along. Mom said that we can’t hate the person who had me before. She said that she feels sorry for him. She said that he had the opportunity to be loved unconditionally by 7 wonderful dogs. He didn’t know our love, our kindness, or our sense of humor. So, because of that she feels sorry for him, because he missed out on something amazing! Wow! My mom thinks I am amazing.

Well, it is almost time for my mom and I to get back to work. She works from her home office and I have a spot beside her desk called THE TINA SPOT. Sometimes Harry steals it, but it is usually all mine.  

Tina going for a Jeep Ride
You will hear from me again soon, but in the meantime I will be going for walks, snuggling with my mom, hopefully getting some rides in the Jeep, and mostly just being a happy dog.