Major FAS: Notes on a foster dog

This is a foster dog diary post about Major. New information will be added to the end of this post so all info on this dog is kept in one place and in chronological order. If you subscribe for updates, a short note will be sent when updates are posted. If you don’t subscribe, check back periodically to see what’s been added.

Last Updated: November 13

Major was a family dog.  I don’t know what changed in their family, but on January 19, 2019 his family dumped him at the local animal shelter, and his troubles were just beginning.

Base Info:

  • Arrival date: Sept. 9th
  • Breed: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog mix
  • Sex: Male
  • Age: Puppy, Young Adult, Mature, Senior
  • Weight: @ 60 Pounds
  • Neutered: Yes
  • General Health: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor
  • Temperament: Playful, affectionate, bouncy.
  • Gets Along with Dogs: Undecided
  • Gets Along with Cats: Unknown
  • Gets Along with People: Usually
  • Gets Along with Children: Undecided
  • Housebroken/Crate Trained: Yes
  • Departure date: Undetermined


Major’s family brought him to the Friends Animal Shelter in Newport to surrender him.  While they were there, Major was a happy, bouncy boy.  But when his family left him there and went away, Major became upset, then angry, then vicious.

The shelter asked me to come look at him and determine if they were going to have to destroy him.  Their staff was unable to handle him or clean his kennel.  I arrived with a pocket full of peanut butter dog treats.  Nearly all dogs love these things.  In about 20 minutes I had him calmly eating out of my hand.  I showed their Vet Tech, Carol, what I had done and how to handle him.  She continued these techniques and got him settled enough to place him up for adoption.

Except he was not adopted.  Nine months later, he’s still there and is showing signs of shelter psychosis.  So they reached out to me once again, would I foster him to get him out of the shelter environment and help him regain his sanity?  Yes, of course I will help Major.

Progress Summary:

Detailed notes on this foster dog’s progress are posted below the summary.

Dog to Dog Behavior

  • Relates well to other dogs: Yes (everyone I’ve tried him with)
  • Can eat food/treats near other dogs: Yes

Dog to People Behavior

  • Is affectionate: Yes
  • Is good with:
    . Men: Yes
    . Women: Yes
    . Children: Unknown
  • Jumps up on people: Sometimes
  • Mouths: No
  • Walks well on a leash: Working on that (see Oct 14 below)

House Dog Training

  • Willingly enters his crate: Yes
  • Is calm/quiet while in crate: Yes
  • Understands going outside to potty: Yes
  • Alerts me of need to go outside: No Yes
  • Is destructive of bedding and/or toys: No
  • Refrains from kitchen counter cruising: No Yes
  • Stays off people furniture: No Yes


  • Comes when called: Yes
  • Sits on command: Yes
  • Down / Off: Yes
  • Shake / Paw: No
  • Kennels on command: Yes

Major’s Medical

  • DA2PP: 02/20/2019 (F.A.S.)
  • Bordatella: 02/20/2019 (F.A.S.)
  • Wormed: Dates | Product | Dose | By
    . 09/05/2019, Strongid, 6.5 ml, Friends Animal Shelter
  • Rabies: date (by) NEEDED
  • Neuter: Done prior to surrender
  • Heartworm Test: 09/05/2019, NEGATIVE, Friends Animal Shelter
  • Flea/Tick preventative:
    . date, product, dose
  • Heartworm preventative:
    . 09/13/2019, Ivermectin solution, 0.6 ml
    . 10/14/2019, Ivermectin/glycerine, 0.7 ml
  • NOTES:
    .  Showed signs of stress at the shelter, is aggressive with select staff members.  During assessment on 08/31 to 09/07 he responded well to both Marie and I on all visits.


4health Salmon and Potato recipe, 1½ cups AM, 1¼ cups PM.  I am underfeeding to get his weight down.


Progress Updates

In chronological order, newest at the bottom. Some pictures are linked to a more detailed Doggy Tale about that update, click those to open the related story.

Sept 8

I have visited with Major 3 times now and have had no trouble with him.  I can go into his kennel, pet him, hand him treats, and he will sit on command.  If I encourage play, he gets revved up quickly and can be a bit overwhelming.  He *needs* some room to run and a low stress environment.  He will get that on Monday.

Sept 9

I picked up Major today.  He gave me no trouble at all, in fact once I got my transport box inside his kennel I prepared to lure him into the box with treats.  But as soon as I opened the door, Major scooted inside and said, “I’m ready, lets go!”  Carol helped me load him up and he rode well on the trip home.

He enjoyed exploring our play yard and has settled into his room.  All the other dogs have come by to say “howdy” and no ugliness came of it.  We’re off to a great start.

Sept 10

Major responds well to the “come” and “sit” command.  Generally, even if he is all the way across the yard from me, if I call out “Major, COME!” he will come racing across the yard as though it is pure joy to comply.  The only exception so far has been if he’s “busy” either doing his business or seeking a place to do it, he will finish up and then come running.  That’s okay by me!

And let’s do a food aggression test …

Sept 12

Major has been here three full days now and has not once peed or pooped in his kennel.  I let him out every few hours during the day and he takes care of his needs in the yard.  I praise him for that, but he may well be housebroken already.

Major is also getting quite playful now that he’s settling in and getting to know the others.  He and Blondie Bear had their first play session.  Things were tense at first …

Sept 16

Major has not been especially, “frisky” when it comes to solo play time, either in his room or in the yard.  But this morning he decided to frisk things up a bit by tossing around his Benebone.

Sept 18

Major appears to have lost some weight: he’s got more of a waist to him now.  That might be why he’s more willing to run and play now.  That will only help speed the trimming down and toning up process.  He has an appointment at Cedarwood for a Rabies shot on Friday.  I’ll weigh him on their big scale then and see how he’s doing.  He has still kept his kennel immaculate.  He really wants to be a house dog again.

Sept 20

Major and I had a nice play session, then it was time to take him for his rabies shot.  He let me put a harness on him (better control than a collar should he need to be controlled) and I thought about letting him ride behind the seats, but he can get pretty bouncy, and with no one else around to help settle him, that could get dangerous.  I can’t drive and soothe a big bouncy dog.   So I decided to use the transport box.  I opened up the back of the truck and the door on the box and said, “In your room” and Major stood up, put his front feet on the tailgate, and hopped on his back feet.  He was willing but couldn’t get them up there, so I gave him a boost.  He didn’t like that, swing around and bit me on the face.

Puncture wounds this time, no flaps of skin hanging.  But his teeth hit my jaw bone, and that HURTS.

I put an ice pack on it and called the vet to cancel our appointment.  Then I notified the animal shelter of the incident, haven’t heard back from them yet.  Than I mopped the blood off the floor and went to sit down for a bit to just mash that ice pack onto my jaw and cheek.

When the bleeding had almost stopped I fixed a sandwich for lunch and rehashed the morning, looking for what I did wrong.  There are several things.  But to do them better would require more than just me being present.  That seems to be a recurring theme.

On the brighter side, when I let him out for his afternoon play, he responded to me as he always does, not appearing to be holding any animosity toward me.

Oct. 4th

It’s been two weeks since our unfortunate incident and there has been no more incidents of aggression.  In fact he has been responding to me as he always had before: a big happy, bouncy boy.

I want to try him at playing with some of the other dogs, but I need a helper to do that right, because if it goes badly it will go bad quickly with Major.

One thing I do have to give him credit for is that in the (almost) month he’s been here, he has always kept his kennel pristinely clean.  All I’ve ever had to remove from his floor is fur.  Major seems majorly housebroken.  I truly wish I knew if he could be trusted to to get cranky with the other dogs, I’m sure he’d be happier as a house dog and that would get him back on track faster.

He doesn’t spend a lot of time in the yard either.  He might linger more if he had a playmate but most times he goes out to take care of business, then is ready to go to his room and get his cookie.

Occasionally Blondie Bear with play with him a little, but she’s not into the rough and tumble play any more.

Oct. 11

Fur is all I ever remove from Major’s room.

This week has been just holding steady for Major.  No hint of aggression, keeping his room immaculate, playing well with Blondie, and showing signs that he’d like to play with Rosco.

The cool weather makes him bouncier than ever and he’s doing more running.  The running is good, the bouncing can be a little intimidating.  I think he’s picking some of that up from Rosco.  Rosco has the bad habit of running around me, jumping up and nipping my hands to get my attention.  Major’s picking up Rosco’s bad habit.  But when I push him away and say, “down!” he does settle.  Once he’s staying down I’ll pet him.

Oct. 14

Major is still dedicated to keeping his kennel clean.  He is doing better at leash walking, and was calm during his petting session today.

Nov 11

The past month has seen improvement in Majors leash walking skills, and regression on his people interaction skills.  He’s gone back to jumping up on me, something I had him broken of.  I’m pretty sure this is because he sees Rosco doing it and getting attention from is — even if it is a scolding.  I need to spend more quality time just hanging out with Major.

He seems to want to play with the other dogs, but his body language is hard to read: not sure if it play or a fight he’s after.  But he IS quite the Homebody.  He likes his room, appreciates the blankets and cushions, and keeps his room clean and tidy.  He really should be an in-the-house dog.  If only I could be sure what his intentions toward the others are.


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Dealing with Thunder and Dogs

Originally published June 27, 2014

There is thunder. Cochise tries desperately to tell Doug that something HORRIBLE is going on outside and that he NEEDS to come check it out. But, alas, Doug is not paying attention. What ever is a Guardian of the Realm to do?

We’re kind of poking fun here, but some dogs can be seriously stressed out by loud noises like thunder, fireworks and gun shots. What can be done to calm them?

Wrapped Up In Love

Photo by Mandy Neylon. Used with permission

Cold weather is moving in.  Many shelter and rescue dogs will be needing some extra warmth in the coming months.  Fleece blankets are warm, snuggly, and durable.

Wal-Mart currently has a sale on fleece blankets with prices starting at $2.50 each.  We encourage you to purchase a few and donate them to your favorite rescue or animal shelter. also has some great prices on “bulk packs” of fleece blankets that contain anywhere from 12 to 50 blankets and can be delivered to the rescue or shelter of your choice.

If you would like to help Piney Mountain Foster Care keep our residents snuggly warm but don’t want to shop, you can donate here (button to the right), and specify that your donation is to be used for blankets.  We will thank you, and the dogs will thank you.

We do not leave the dogs in outside kennels in the bitter cold.  They are taken inside and crated in the bunkhouse.  The bunk house is kept at 50° to reduce shock when going out to potty after being inside for a long period.  So having warm blankets in their crates is a great comfort to them.  And when it’s warm enough to be outside, putting a blanket on their Kuranda bed makes that nicer to lounge on as well.

Piney Mountain Foster Care, Inc. is a registered (Tennessee) non-profit corporation, and 501(c)(3) recognition is pending.

Taking the Stress Out Of Veterinarian Visits

Originally published, September 5, 2014

veterinarian stressRegular visits to your dog’s veterinarian are an essential part of life if your dog is to remain healthy. Your dog will need a regular check-up and routine inoculations at the minimum, and dealing with health issues or accidents as the need arises. Getting your dog to the vet and answering the questions are tough enough but if your dog is feeling stress at the same time, it can be a really unpleasant experience for both of you (and the vet – and everyone else in the facility!) Wouldn’t it be much better to have your dog enjoy, even looked forward to his regular veterinarian visits?

Preparation Avoids Stress

The first step is getting there. If you have a puppy it’s probably not an issue, if you have adopted an older dog her history may cause her to not like riding in your car. Also, if the only time she rides is to go to the vet, and past vet visits were unpleasant, then she will associate riding with an unpleasant destination. Dissipate any stressful associations by taking her riding to pleasant places: a park for a walk, or to a dog-friendly store to do some shopping, if you haul trash to a collection center, take the dog with you. Do NOT take the dog if you will leave her locked in your car while you go inside, especially if it’s warm out. The purpose of the outing is for your dog to have fun with you while riding or immediately after riding in the car, dispelling the idea that a car ride means bad things are about to happen to her.

Separation Anxiety and Your Dog

Originally published November 14th, 2014

separation anxietyYour dog adores you. She follows you around and wants to be near you all the time. And that’s wonderful – until you must go away. Then your dog howls or barks or chews on things until you return. This is called separation anxiety. Unless you can stay home 24/7 or take the dog with you everywhere you go, you must deal with this issue (or replace a lot of shoes and furniture and endure the wrath of neighbors). To make things worse, sometimes this condition is your fault. I know: I’m guilty too.

I was getting ready to go out in the yard and do some work. Marie was resting on the sofa. I informed Marie I was going outside and asked if she needed anything before I left. She said, “Just take Blondie with you: she goes spastic every time you leave the house.”

Blondie has a mild separation anxiety issue. When I leave, she paces through the house peering out all the windows to see where I’ve gone.

Blondie is needy. She spent most of her life in an extremely neglectful situation and was totally withdrawn when she was rescued. We fostered her and helped her come out of her shell. We fell in love with the affectionate, silly girl she became and adopted her. Gun fire and thunder make her very nervous and she comes to me for comforting. I stroke her head to ease her anxiety. That’s the wrong thing to do, but I’ve done it.

We spend all of almost every day together. Blondie follows me around like a golden shadow. Sometimes she comes and asks for skritchies, and I’ll give them for a short time. She is accustomed to my being here, when I leave she gets anxious. But she’s a good girl: never misbehaves, she just runs around looking for me. I’m lucky: many people have dogs that do bad things when they are left alone. If yours is one of them, here’s what this is and how to deal with it.

Dogs and Socialization: part 2

Originally published November 7, 2014

Is your dog gentlemanly in public?

In part 1, we discussed how to introduce your adult dog to a new dog. This time I want to discuss the importance of socialization between your dog and other people.

Socialization of Dogs and People

Dogs are social creatures. By their nature, they usually get along well with people: unless they have reason not to. Any animal that is abused by a person can learn to mistrust, avoid, and fear people. That’s a blanket statement, so it is true only in the most general terms. If a dog knows only its abuser, then she will most likely fear all people. If a dog is abused by a man, but his wife is kind to her, she may well fear only men. An abusive teenager with kind and gentle (though not very attentive) parents may instill a socialization age bias.


Socialization of a puppy is pretty simple: once he’s had all his shots and the vet gives you the OK, simply expose the puppy to other people in a positive way. Rarely will a puppy pick up a disease from a person, but if these people also have a dog, this is a danger to your puppy. Begin this socialization as early as you can, so the pup doesn’t become fixated on you. Normally, puppies are very friendly and gregarious; socializing with people should not be an issue. Making interaction with other people a regular part of their life will keep them that way.

New Dog Bed Pads

Last Thursday Marie completed a project she had begun some time ago: making some cushy pads for dog beds or dog houses for the outside dogs.  These are two sided with batting in between like a quilt, but not quilted.  She used normal fabric for the coverings, which may not last long.  But she said, if they get some enjoyment out of them for a while it will be worth the effort.

When I set up Faith’s dog house I put the blankets she had in there already on top of the new pad for extra cush, and to protect the thin fabric of the new pad.  I think she liked it.


Later, Marie went to visit with Fredia Haley, owner of Foothills of the Smoky’s Quilt Shop.  Marie and Fredia had been talking dog beds for a while and Fredia donated to Piney Mountain Foster a bolt of sturdy upholstery fabric that will make many, dog pads that will stand up to use better.  It’s even a great color for us!

Thank you Fredia!

Fredia saves fabric scraps for us to use as bed stuffing, but someone in her shop keeps throwing them out.  (pout)  But we appreciate Fredia just the same.

I put one in Rosco’s dog house too, but no sooner did I get his kennel door closed than he was in there shredding it.  So his lasted maybe 40 seconds.  Faith’s went several days before she started chewing the corners, and I suspect that was because she keeps her chew toys gathered in her dog house since I started putting blankets in there.  She was probably chewing a toy and the pad got in the way.  Once fiberfill peeks out dogs tend to find it great fun to pull that stuff out.  She unstuffed a handful of it.  I cleaned that up and wrapped the white blanket around the damaged end of the pad and she’s left it alone since.

Major’s pad has one small hole in because he plays with it a little, but he has not tried to unstuff it.  Major seems the most civilized of the whole lot:  keeping his kennel pristine and taking care of his comforts and toys. He was pleased to get it too (see the video above).

I’m sure Marie will be putting that bolt of fabric to good use, especially as the weather turns colder and having an insulated pad to sit on will feel great for them.

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Dogs and Socialization: part 1

Originally published October 21, 2014

Drake and Blondie successfull socialization
Drake and Blondie

Dogs are by nature, social creatures. Even in the wild, they exist in packs: social units that allow for sharing resources, mutual protection and companionship. For domesticated dogs there are two types of socialization: getting along with other dogs, and getting along with people.

There would be a third type if you want to include dogs getting along with other species of animals. However, taking a dog that has grown up thinking that cats, hamsters chickies, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, birds, (whatever you have) are food and teaching it to see them as a friend is beyond my scope or ability.

The most common socialization problem we see here at Piney Mountain Foster Care is dogs who were neglected. Sometimes this is a dog that was chained in the yard, given enough food and water to survive, but that’s about it. No love, no personal care. Blondie was one such dog. When taken in by the Dr. Carol Hood Memorial Animal Shelter, she was so withdrawn and depressed she acted as though she were autistic. More often the problem is a family that decided having a puppy would be fun, but they had no idea how to train it. So the bouncy, happy-go-lucky ball of fur turns into a bouncy, happy-go-lucky dog weighing 30 to 60 pounds and hasn’t got a clue how to behave any way other than what has always done: just being its happy-go-lucky self. This proves inconvenient for the family, so they take it to the shelter to be rid or it — or abandon it somewhere to become someone else’s problem.

Roscoe: A Pit Bull Among Pit Bulls

In October of 2017 we started working with a dog named Roscoe at Newport Animal Control. Roscoe is your stereotypical “pitbull”: big blocky build, bulging with muscles, square head, and a heart of gold. Roscoe lacked training of any kind, so he was enthusiastic in his bids for attention. This could be terrifying to the uninitiated, so it was doubtful that Roscoe would ever get adopted by a good home as he was.

Roscoe came to Piney Mountain Foster for day camp sessions so I could work with him for a new program NAC had become part of called Universal K9, which trained shelter dogs, specifically “pitbulls” to be police dogs. To qualify, the dog needed to perform a series of tasks on video. Universal K9 would review the video and decide if the dog qualifies for their training. Sadly, Roscoe did not qualify. But we could not let this big handsome boy languish at Animal Control, so we took him in for fostering and began searching for a breed specific rescue that might help him find a home. While we did that we taught him some manners, house broke him, and he became part of our pack.

Another dog rescuer, I’ll call her Grandma – she will not like that but I’ll do it anyway – had visited here and fell in love with Roscoe. She has several pits of her own and loves the breed. Her daughter and son-in law were looking for a dog, and Grandma thought Roscoe would be just what they need. These young people, I’ll call them Mommy and Daddy, were about to have a child: Little One. Daddy’s work kept him away from home a lot and he wanted a watch dog to look after Mommy. Mommy wanted a companion animal. Roscoe fit both bills. They came and met him several times, then took him home. He quickly became a family member and Mommy’s protector.

When Little One was born, Grandma took the blanket that the nurses had wrapped her in after birth home and gave it to Roscoe. He was fascinated with this new scent and kept it close. When Little One came home, Roscoe already knew her and was instantly bonded to this little pink people-puppy. He instinctively knew to be gentle with her, and he became her guardian too.

I have heard several touching stories about these two and how protective and attentive Roscoe is of Little One, but I want to relate to you their latest adventure. First, you must understand that these two are inseparable. Best Buds. Little One recently learned to walk. On this particular day, Little One scampered down the hall to her room and shoved the door closed before Roscoe came in. Realizing that they were separated, and she was trapped inside, Little One began to scream. Roscoe began battering the door with his head, causing a noise that resounded through the house. Mommy came running to see what was happening. When she opened the door, Roscoe rushed in, sniffed Little One thoroughly, then checked the room. Finding all in order, he left the room leaving Mommy to deal with Little One.

Later, Little One repeated her stunt, began screaming after the door slammed, but Roscoe stayed where he was, lifted his head to look at Mommy as though to say, “She’s your kid, you deal with it this time.”

He is a devoted protector of both Mommy and Little One, but no fool.

Roscoe is huge. He is a pitbull’s pitbull, and he looks formidable. But, as is typical of this breed, Roscoe is as devoted and loving of his family, and especially Little One, as can be.

In the mid to late 1800’s Staffordshire Bull Terriers (the proper name for what is typically known as a pitbull) were known as The Nanny Dog because of their devotion to their family and especially the children. It is a true shame that greedy humans engaging in blood-sports for profit have ruined the reputation of this amazing breed of dog. Roscoe is a perfect example of what a Staffy is actually like. And we are so grateful that he was adopted into a loving family who let him fill the roll he was created to fill.

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10 Tips For Crate Training Your Dog

Originally published November 21, 2014

crate training
This silly Snoozer is obviously comfortable with his crate.

When used properly, crate training provides you and your dog with multiple benefits. For you it provides a simple, effective means of restricting your dog when you cannot provide close supervision. If your dog is an explorer, he may get into things that will harm him. If she’s a chewer, your home may suffer from allowing her to roam unsupervised. Crating also helps with housebreaking because a dog has a natural aversion to soiling its own sleeping space.

For your dog crate training offers a safe haven, a room or space of his own. It is a familiar place. Whether you go on the road or just move around a large home, having a place of his own brings your dog a feeling of safety. If your dog is ill or just been spayed or neutered, a familiar crate is quite comforting. A crate is effective in combating separation anxiety or fear of a thunderstorm because of the snug, safe feeling an enclosed crate can provide.