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….