Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ripp’s Story, part 2:  The Surgery Consult

I find myself writing this update well before I expected to, as Ripp was able to get an appointment at the NCSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital within a few days of being referred.  We had a great experience with the caring staff there.

Ripp drifts off to sleep in the exam room.
After discussing his history with a third-year veterinary student to make sure they had all relevant information, we had to wait for a few minutes while the student conferred with the faculty veterinarian.  Ripp continued his “not at all worried” attitude and used this time to take a nap.

Next, we met the rest of the team, which included the faculty veterinarian and a veterinary resident, in addition to the student we had already met.  The faculty veterinarian conducted a hands-on exam, with the assistance of the student.  They didn’t need to spend much time on his ears, since it was really very clear that nothing short of surgery could fix the problem.  But the exam was still important.  They were especially interested to know whether Ripp had any facial or jaw pain, as this might indicate that the infection in his ears was affecting either or both of two facial nerves that lie close to the ear canal in dogs.  Luckily, the answer was “no.”  They also asked about any problems with balance.  Although Ripp doesn’t have problems with that now, I filled them in on the rough time he had over Memorial Day weekend.
The team gave him a thorough once-over,
looking for signs of nerve problems in his face.
Luckily, there were no signs of that. 

After the exam, they explained the type of surgery that they were recommending and the potential risks and complications associated with it.  The surgery is called total ear canal ablation, or TECA, for short.  This strikes me as a disarmingly cute acronym for such a serious procedure!  During a TECA, they remove the ear canal and lining of the middle ear, and seal up the opening with stitches.  The tissue that is removed is sent to the lab to identify the kind of bacteria and other beasties that are present so that Ripp can be given the right kind of antibiotics to kill any traces of infection that might remain inside after the surgery.   Ripp needs to have this done to both ears.  A possible complication of surgery is that the facial nerves I mentioned earlier will be damaged.  The surgeon knows where they are and will very carefully move them out of the way, but just moving them may cause a little short-term damage that would make his face droopy for a week or two after surgery.  Of course everyone hopes this doesn’t happen, but I appreciate knowing about the potential in advance so I won’t be surprised if it does happen.

The sandbags gently kept Ripp from
moving while the x-ray was taken.
The other risk they discussed is the general risk that exists whenever anyone (dog or human) is anesthetized for surgery.  Ripp is 7, which is middle-aged for a German shepherd, and he is heartworm-positive.  This increases the risk a bit, but we think the ear surgery will improve his quality of life so much that it’s important to do it as soon as possible.  The medical team was OK with this, but wanted to do some imaging studies to assess the extent of the heartworm damage, as well as to check out the rest of his organ systems.  Sounds good to us!

The ultrasound showed that
Ripp’s spleen and other
organs look healthy.
The first thing they did was to take radiographs (x-rays) of his heart and lungs.  When they do this, they barely sedate the dog and keep them still on the table by just placing a person’s hands on them.  To minimize x-ray exposure to the staff, they then substitute sandbags for a person’s hands and dash outside to take the image.  I’m told they usually have about 15 seconds before the dog notices the difference. ;-)  Ripp’s heart and lungs looked great, with no obvious signs of the heartworms.  He still HAS heartworms, of course, and we will get him treated once he recovers from the ear surgery.  But at least we know that the heartworms do not present a big risk during surgery.

The next thing they did was an ultrasound of his internal organs, to make sure he didn’t have any underlying conditions more serious than his ears (cancer, for example).  Luckily, he got a clean bill of health in this regard, so all systems are “go” for the surgery.

Not surprisingly for a specialized surgery like  TECA, this procedure is rather costly.  Our fundraising effort to cover the cost of it launched just a few hours ago as I type this, and the early support has been just phenomenal.
Later, Ripp had just one thing to say about the experience so far. 
“Um, HELLO?  My ears are not down THERE!
What vet school did you graduate from anyway?
Oh, you needed to do it for the ultrasound, you say?
Yes, I’m SO glad you like the looks of my spleen.
Sheesh!  I’m just glad it’s not winter…” 
In fact, we’re SO encouraged that we’ve gone ahead and scheduled the surgery! This will happen on Wednesday, August 1st.  Look for a brief update that evening after we know he’s safely out of surgery and a more complete report once he’s discharged from the hospital.  Until then, keep this sweetie in your thoughts and prayers, especially on August 1st.  And thank you so much for your support, we’re incredibly grateful.

Monday, July 23, 2012

GSRA is many things to many people, but all would probably agree that first and foremost, it’s about second chances for German shepherds in and around North Carolina.  The Voice of the Pack Leader blog was started to tell the remarkable story of the Fab Five, which we so enjoyed sharing with the greater GSRA family as we lived it.  Now that we’ve told their story, this blog will begin telling the stories of a few other GSRA dogs who, for whatever reason, especially capture people’s interest.  We’ll begin that new focus with Ripp’s story.

Ripp’s Story, Part 1:  Ripp comes to GSRA 

This was the first photo of Ripp
we received from the shelter.  There’s a softness in
his face that makes you immediately want to help him.
Plus I wanted to get after those toenails!
We first heard about Ripp in early May 2012, when a small shelter in eastern South Carolina contacted us about a sweet, handsome, middle-aged German shepherd who has been seized by the courts as a cruelty case and turned over into their care.  Well THAT got our attention!  Seeking more information, we learned that the cruelty took the form of extreme neglect, which caused Ripp to live for years with severe, chronically infected ears.  How many of you reading this blog have ever had an ear infection?  Do you remember how painful that can be?  Imagine living with it year after year… that was Ripp’s life, and it eventually led to deafness.  But of course, deafness was the least of his problems, because the pain didn’t go away just because his hearing did.  Through those dark times, he somehow held onto an extremely sweet and gentle disposition.  Once he came into their care, the shelter got Ripp’s ears some immediate attention, but then reached out to us because they felt that his ongoing rehab needs would be beyond both their means and the means of many of their local adopters.  They recognized how special this guy was, and wanted the very best for him.  

When Ripp was dizzy and feeling the worst,
his crate became his safe place.
He’d stay there, even with the doors open. 

We gave him pain meds to keep him
comfortable until we could get him to the vet.
It took a few weeks for GSRA to work out the on-site assessment and transport logistics of bringing him into the rescue, but he finally arrived at my house on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.   I had fostered deaf dogs before so was not concerned about this, but acclimating a new dog is always a bit of an adventure.  Has he ever been inside a house before?  Does he understand that the bathroom is outside (big dogs don’t have small accidents, after all!)?  Will he get along with my two male dogs?  Will he tolerate being crated?  Well, I needn’t have worried about any of that. Aside from being a bit disoriented in a new place and tired from the travel, he settled in very easily, and I looked forward to getting to know him.
Well, his ears started causing a problem right from the beginning.  He was shaking his head a bit from the time he arrived, but as the holiday weekend went on they quickly became worse, to the point where his balance was affected and he could only stagger around in a circle!  I felt so bad for him, being in a strange place, not able to hear, and so dizzy you couldn’t even walk normally.   An ear wash helped a bit, as did pain meds, but believe me, I was counting the hours until I could get him to the vet on Tuesday morning!

And so our journey to ear health began.  I had noticed over the weekend that the base of Ripp’s ears had no “give” to it, as normal shepherd ears do.  Instead, it was hard as a rock!  I learned at the vet’s that this was due to calcification, a result of long-term inflammation, and it continued far into the ear canal.  It’s common in dogs with chronic ear infections, but they had NEVER seen a case this bad.   His ears were also terribly inflamed, and loaded with bacteria.  But, we could do something about both of those things, and he would soon be starting to feel better.  We started him on a combination of oral antibiotics (pills to swallow) and topical medicine to put in his ears, plus continued his pain meds.  I also started flushing his ears every other day to clean them, a routine I would continue for the next six weeks.

Ripp wouldn’t focus on me in the early days.
See how he’s looking off to the left?
He was too sick to care who I was.
Now, I am not someone who thinks a pill can fix anything that ails you, but drugs do have their place, and in this case they worked wonders.  Ripp was clearly feeling better just 12 hours after his first dose of antibiotics, and by 24 hours I think I was beginning to see the real him for the first time—despite the fact that he’d been with me for five days by this point.  Initially, he didn’t focus on me at all, which presented a real quandary as far as training him.  I mean, if he can’t hear, all I’m left with is visual and physical communication.  His lack of focus had me thinking that he must have a fairly significant vision impairment, but I now know this isn’t the case; he can see just fine, except perhaps for quite close up—He needs reading glasses.  But he’s rarely called upon to read, so that’s not a problem.  ;-)  His lack of focus in the first few days must have been a symptom of just how bad he felt!  But of course, since I didn’t know him, I didn’t know what “normal” looked like.  Thank goodness we’re beyond that.

Ripp and his foster bothers.
That’s Ripp on the left, of course.
Chester’s on the right and Max is behind.
They’re good boys who just roll their eyes
 when Ripp is a little clumsy socially.
So, let me tell you about life with “normal” Ripp.  Once he was feeling better, getting him to focus on me was NO problem at all.  In fact, he keeps such close tabs of me that there’s pretty much no need for a “come” command; he’s already there!  But, if I need him to approach closer, I can do this with a few hand claps and a beckoning motion with my hands.  He’s also learned to sit on a hand signal and to wait for his food.  Although that doesn’t sound like much, it was pretty much all he needed to live easily in my home.  He walked nicely on the leash from early on, was nondestructive in the house, and gets on quite well with my dogs.  I must say, though, that a lot of the credit for that goes to my boys being so tolerant.  Although Ripp doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his body, his doggie manners are a tad on the clumsy side.  If another dog has something he wants (a ball, for example) it doesn’t occur to him that they might object if he tries to take it.  And if they do object, he has absolutely NO survival skills as far as defending himself.  So, it’s just as well my guys are not the “butt-kicking” sort.

 Ripp had to wear a belly band for a few 
days after his tummy tuck.  
How embarrassing!
I mentioned earlier that I would keep up the routine of every-other-day cleaning for 6 weeks.  Over that time the amount of nastiness I was removing certainly decreased, but Ripp’s ears were still inflamed and clearly painful.  The next step was to take him back to the vet, sedate him, and do a deep ear cleaning.  The vet would also be able to finally get a good look and assess whether we were really getting on top of the infection.  Since he was going to be sedated, we also decided to get him a little “tummy tuck” to remove the extra flap of skin that hung down from his belly—a purely cosmetic procedure that we would not have put him though if it was the only reason for him to have a surgery.

Ripp’s not worried.  
He knows he’s in good hands now.
The ear exam proved to be extremely informative, if not quite the sort of information we wanted to hear.  It turns out that the calcification mentioned earlier is so severe that Ripp’s ear canals are completely closed!  Although on some level this surprised me, on another it did not, because over the six weeks that I had been flushing his ears to clean them, I always felt like they filled up with flushing solution well before they should; well, now I knew why….  More importantly, the closed ear canals meant that we were never going to get on top of this with antibiotics and cleaning.  In fact, the worst part of the infection is almost certainly deep inside, where we can’t get at it at all.  Well, at least we know that now, and can move on to something else.  The “something else” in this case is a consult with the surgical team at the NCSU Vet School.  We will be doing that in the coming week and report about the experience in our next blog.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fab-Five: One Year later - Georgia's Story

Blog 5 of 5

Georgia, The Queen Bee
Georgia, the elder of the Fab Five would like to finish up the Fab Five Blog herself. Georgia used to have to worry about how she and the other Fab Five were being treated, the food they would get, the poor conditions they lived in. However, it does not take long for a girl to get used to the finer things in life. She is now living the life of a queen!

Hey ya’ll, Mama doesn’t know this, but I’ve been sneaking on her computer and watching all the antics going on and learning about my brothers and sisters.  Some of ya’ll are very clever!  Some even have their own Facebook page! I must get one of those! EVIL HEHEHE! Inserted here!

Now, I used to worry about getting food and my mom said I would never have to worry again, but get this...  Yesterday Mama didn’t feed me breakie!  After all I do for her??  The nerve!  I’m the first to greet her when I hear the truck door slam and the key hit the lock.  I welcome Mama with a great big hearty GSD WOOF WOOF!!!!

I am also the first on alert when we are home alone with Mama and I hear that truck outside and the door opening and I once again PROTECT Mama to let her know someone is coming to the door.  I give that great big WOOF WOOF and this time my sisters join in.  NO ONE and I MEAN NO ONE is going to hurt my Mama!  I don’t care if it is Dada!

They EVEN make me do chores!
So anyways, back to my story of no breakie!  The “Mama” finally comes home and I had to tell her off, my tummy was growling, what else should have I done, Right?  It starts out all normal, I bark, she comes in, puts her stuff down, pets us, lets us out to do our business and leaves us out there ALONE! So I of course I have to let Mama know “ROO ROO ROO!”
Give me my BREAKIE!!!!!
“ROO ROO ROO”!  She must have heard me cuz she let us in and started making breakie (did I tell you it is now LUNCHTIME)!  Ya’ll must understand that I’m a southern belle and politely wait on my bed for my meal to be served to me.  Well not this time!  I ROO ROO’d Mama because she was too slow!  But, because I’m a true southern belle I was on my bed by the time Mama served my breakie (wait LUNCH).

I just cannot believe that one day I had to wait until 11:30am to get my breakfast! Aunt Angie, could you have a talk with my mama?

“Georgia, GEORGIA move over, what are you doin?  All I hear is you and Crazy (CJ) giggling”!  “Let me have that laptop”!

OOPS ya’ll I gotta go! Busted!  Georgia out!

Ok, OK Georgia’s Mama here and I read her story.  Very entertaining if I must say so myself!  But in my defense let me tell you my side of this tale.

Yes, I admit I didn’t feed the girls breakie yesterday morning, but as I was leaving the house at 0’dark thirty EVERYONE but me was sleeping all snug as a bug in their beds!  Including Dada!  No one even moved! What was I supposed to do? Leave breakfast sitting out?  Heaven forbid if the “neglected” kids miss a meal!  I was home by 11:30 to feed them.
Sis's Sharing
As you can see Sweet Georgia Girl has finally realized that she is not going anywhere no matter what she does and has started to “train” Mama and Dadda! We can’t help but smile at the smallest “dog” things that Georgia does from throwing a toy in the air to barking at the neighbor’s dog!  We love our almost 11 year old PUPPY!

Georgia is spoiled rotten and lovin’ life.  She even smiles and when she gets on her big bed to sleep. She sleeps so comfy that we have to check if she is breathing (talk about be comfy).

A GREAT big hug and THANK YOU to Auntie Angie for saving these great dogs and GSRA taking them into their care.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fab Five: One Year Later - Tina's Story

From Cris H. Tina's Foster and Forever Mom

Tina on her porch
Where do I start with Tina? Tina was the most difficult case I have ever experienced. In the past, we had what we called the 14 day rule. Within 14 days, the dog will settle into the pack and all will be well! Not true in Tina’s case. She was more emotionally scarred than we knew and sicker than we knew when she came to us.

If you followed this blog, you will remember that Tina’s only goal was to escape my house, escape my yard and return to her kennel in NC. She didn’t pee for over 70 hrs and refused to eat anything. I hand (I mean force) fed her for over a month. When Tina would start to show progress, she would get sick again. No one knew what was wrong. This shepherd was only 63 lbs and wasting away every day. Luckily for her, she bloated right before Christmas 2011. I say lucky, because we got her into surgery in time and found lesions on her intestines while they were doing surgery. It turned out that Tina had an intestinal disease that was stopping her from digesting food properly! A special diet, antibiotics and B-12 shots were all she needed!

Asher taking Tina to the vet
Tina had other issues, she loves me unconditionally and I think she worships the ground I walk on, but she HATED my husband. In October, she bit him so severely he had to have surgery. Tina is not a bad dog or an aggressive dog – She is a dog so scarred by her abusive past that she could not get over her fear of men. With this turn of events, I knew I could not adopt her out to a home with a man and I began to fear for Tina’s future.

I will spare you the long story of my begging and whining and begging some more. On Christmas Eve, 2011 my husband gave me a bow to put on Tina’s head (he gave it to me, instead of putting it on her because he was scared to touch her!). Tina became my dog.

Fast forward 1 year from the time I picked her up. Tina is now a healthy 85 lbs!!! She is on a special diet that she adores. She loves her brothers and sisters and looks forward to ball every night. She doesn’t play ball, she just chases and barks at the other dogs while they play. Tina gives me the BEST hugs every morning and is happy as can be….well… except for one problem – My husband.

The relationship between them did not improve over the year. He could not freely walk in the house because Tina barked and growled. I really did wonder when his patience would finally wear out and he would tell me Tina could not stay. We tried everything and she just would not warm up to him.

My husband is in the Army and was away for a month. While he was gone, Tina was so relaxed and happy in the house. I assumed it was because she finally got rid of him! I decided to try something different. Every night I tied an article of his clothing to her collar. I made her wear this in the house while everyone was calm and happy. I had to tie the clothes to her because she even ran from his clothes!

The night came for my husband to come home, so I took Tina with me to the hangar to pick him up. He wasn’t excited to see her, but I told him this would be a new day (or at least I hoped). Tina took all those soldiers in stride. I kept a short leash on her and told everyone who approached her that she doesn’t like men, so please don’t come close. However, several were not afraid and petted her anyway. She was scared, but she accepted it!

Tina signing out after a long day of play
Miracles happen if you just have patience! Tina brought her Papa home to the other dogs and she was VERY proud of this fact. No more barking, no more growling and no more standoffs in the bathroom at 4 am! No more stress and fear. It took a year, but Tina finally let go of her past and I truly believe she is living in the now and is happy. I love Tina more than I ever thought I could. It is impossible for me to reconcile this love with the fact she has only been with me a year. I cherish the time I have with her and hope that she has many more happy years with me. But, I believe she no longer remembers the “time before” so any time we have now is a glorious gift. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fab Five - One Year Later - Queenie's Story

Before you read Queenie's story, see the video she made especially for this blog. Don't be sad when you read her blog, she is so very happy now!
An Interview with Miss Queenie

It was a little over a year ago when I first laid eyes on Queenie. At that time, she was a gorgeous but rail-thin, terrified, unsocialized, young GSD, quivering like a mess at the end of her dog run. I was trying to get her out of the kennel so I could wash her - both to cool her off and to make her feel a little more comfortable. Angie had told me that she would be hard to catch, even in the 3 X 10 dog run that she had been confined to since her birth some 3 years prior. As far as we know, she hadn't had any human contact - or if she did, it was fleeting and not enough for her to feel comfortable with people. So, on that unbearably hot Memorial Day, I went into the kennel and into her run, forcing her to flee through the dog door into the outside portion of her dog run. I then closed the dog door and walked around to the back of the kennel and entered her run that way. She had no where to go since I had blocked off the dog door, so as I approached, the only thing she could do was cower on the floor and shake violently. I tried talking quietly to her, trying to minimize the terror she obviously felt towards having a person so close, but nothing helped. I didn't have any other option but to loop the leash around her neck and pretty much drag her out of the run. As it turned out, washing Queenie that day was out of the question. She couldn't be held and just the mere sight of the water hose freaked her out and had her twisting and turning and fighting to get away from us. We tried bringing her kennel mate Tina closer to her and that seemed to calm her a little, but even with Tina present, subjecting Queenie to a bath would have done more harm than good. So we let her be.

It was both heartbreaking and sickening that such a gorgeous creature could be so afraid. I remember watching Queenie and her brother Gunner when they were on the grass outside of their run that day. I remember looking at their confusion and high stepping and wondering if they had ever even been on grass before. I think all of us who worked with the Fab Five figured that, while the older dogs might have been taken to shows and handled by their breeder before he became sick, the two youngsters - Gunner and Queenie - probably had been born at a time when the kennel was already winding down, or essentially non-operational. So, while they were fed and medicated (all seven dogs from this kennel were heartworm negative, proving that the breeder had at least kept up with monthly heartworm preventative), they had never had any human social contact - petting, handling, leash training etc. But it wasn't just people that freaked these dogs out - it was EVERYTHING outside of their 3 X 10 dog runs: grass, cars, roads, noises, other animals. Every dog we liberated from those kennels back then faced a long, up-hill trek in order to be happy, healthy dogs with a true quality of life. Even though Queenie was physically healthy, and faced none of the medical battles the older 5 had, she had PLENTY of scars on the inside, which ended up taking just as long, if not longer, to heal.

When we first brought Queenie home with us we knew we were in for some tough times. We had learned from Gunner's experience (he was sprung from the kennel a week before Queenie was) that Queenie was most likely going to be terrified of being crated. Having 6 other dogs in the home at the time, it was essential that we be able to keep Queenie separate - at least in the beginning - and so we built an inside 10 X 10 kennel for her in our basement. We made sure that the other dogs were always close by when we kenneled her, but even that did little to calm her fears of being confined. When we put water bowls in with her she would up end them and spill the water. If we put a dog bed in with her she would shred it to pieces. The wire frame of the pen was continually bent and distorted by her efforts to get out and the exposed walls of the basement that made up 2 sides of her pen were stripped of all their paint as she scratched and clawed and jumped up and down to try to get out. Interestingly, she would be fine in the pen if you stood right next to it, or even if you sat on the couch in the same room as the pen and watched TV. But as soon as you went to leave the room, she would start to panic. You could hear her breathing start to increase, she would start to pace frantically, she would cry and really, almost wail. She would work herself up so much that the froth would accumulate around her mouth and onto her chest. It was pitiful and heart wrenching. We persisted for some time, but in the end, it was too much for all of us to bare. So, we bought a few more babygates and did some creative corralling and came up with a way that we could keep Queenie safe and separated if need be, without having to confine her to a crate or a pen.

Queenie's Drive-by Loving from the Early Days
Not being able to be confined was just one of the many quirks that we discovered about Queenie. Another one is that she absolutely REFUSES to eat out of a metal bowl. In fact, to begin with, getting her to eat was a real battle. I think it was week three before she started to eat in any appreciable quantity. To this day she is not a highly motivated eater, but, as with the crating issue, we have found ways to work around this issue. We started out by trying different materials for her food bowl. We ruled out: metal, glass, hard plastic and paper plates before landing on plastic picnic plates. We also had to explore different places around the house in order to find somewhere Queenie felt comfortable and safe enough in which to eat. She didn't like the kitchen, the living room, the back deck. The basement was also out as she refuses to go down there at all - no dout traumatized by her experience in the pen (yeah - that's a subject of personal guilt for both of us!!). So then we tried the upstairs hall way. Turns out, if we used a foot stool to raise up her plate, and we put it behind the babygate at the top of the stairs, where she can see everything happening below, that she will eat....most of the time. Often times she needs one of us to sit with her and talk to her as she eats. Oh, and I know, I can hear all of you saying, "wow, I would just leave her be and if she eats she eats and if she doesn't she goes hungry!". Normally I would agree with you all on this, but in Queenie's case, I think she could truly go without eating for a long time - possibly a week or more - and as she is still underweight, that would lead to more issues for her. So, for now, if she needs some prodding, so be it - each morning one of us will sit on the steps in front of her, encouraging her to finish up all of her dinner :)

Queenie and Muuf
Living with Queenie (who we affectionately call Turtle) day in and day out can make you forget the incredible milestones this dog has made in just one year. It can get demoralizing when she still jumps in fright when she hears an ice-cube drop out of the ice machine in the fridge, or when she freaks out when separated from her canine siblings. But in reality, she really HAS come a long way. Just last month she finished a 6 week obedience course! She didn't learn to sit, or to stay like the other dogs in the class, but by the end of the 6 weeks she DID have her tail out at all times (not tucked up underneath her) and she did finally relax in front of strangers enough to let people approach and pat her. This was a HUGE accomplishment for her. We took her on a pack walk with our trainer and about 20 other people and dogs a couple of weeks ago and she was visibly happy to be out and about. The old Queenie would have been panicking the entire mile and a half that we walked - tail tucked underneath her, ears flattened to her head, pulling on the leash to try to get back to the car. The new Queenie however, was happy walking amongst the people and the dogs and even did her fair share of sniffing and tail wagging! She has also learned that riding in the car is FUN!! She likes to "surf" with her front legs on the center console - staring out the front window and occasionally giving us kisses. The BIGGEST change though that we have seen in her is that she now knows what it means to PLAY!!

Queenie and Floyd Playing
Queenie has the most carefree, crazy, happy and funny spirit when she forgets to be worried about stuff. We will often find her out in the yard, pouncing at sticks or blades of grass. She will try to engage one of the other dogs in play, but if they aren't interested, she will make up her own games :) We like to say that Queenie has a very rich inner life :) Each of our other dogs have taken to her and seem to understand that she is a little "special". Gus, the leader of the canine pack, is her mentor and protector. He gets a little exasperated with her at times - like when he is running full tilt to catch a squirrel and Queenie thinks it is a game of chase and nips him in the butt - still, he is mostly patient :) Muuf, our senior chow who is known to be pretty choosey about her friends also shows a great deal of understanding and tolerance for Queenie. Queenie is definitely missing some safety instincts when it comes to how far you should push Muuf - it's nothing for Queenie to run up and try to body slam Muuf. Normally, a dog who tried that would get the sharp end of a chow-chow reprimand. But Muuf just braces herself and looks at us as if to say, "is she serious???".
Queenie and her Papa
Then there is Floyd, Queenie's constant playmate and punching bag. Floyd is a roly-poly pit bull who taught Queenie how to wrestle. Hence, she now does it "pit bull style", up on her back legs, grabbing hold with her front legs and using her jaws to grab hold of Floyd's neck. Her objective - pin Floyd to the ground. Her success rate - about 75%...100% when Floyd is feeling lazy and finds it easier to just submit and get slobbered on :)

So now we are heading into year 2 of our life with Queenie. We both have high hopes for our little Turtle! We are going to continue with her socialization, maybe take in another class or 2 to see if she can master some commands, and really work on her self-confidence. We think the sky is the limit for this girl and we want to give her every opportunity to live life to the fullest. Our trainer has a great philosophy with dogs like Queenie. He says, the past is the past and today is the start of everything that is possible. He says we shouldn't pity dogs like Queenie, or lament at what a horrible start they had in life. He says that we should just keep moving forward, focusing on the good, working around the bad and just live in the moment. I'm pretty sure that Queenie would agree with that philosophy :)