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The Usurper

Originally published February 16, 2016

Cochise
Cochise tells the tale

One of the great things about being a dog is our social order. We do not have to guess about who is in charge, we always know. In our pack (home) HairyFace is the pack leader because he provides us with food. That earns him the right to boss us around (he calls it ‘training’) and we comply because there is generally food in it for us. And because we love him, but mostly because of the food.

I am Hairy’s second in command. He calls me his Sergeant at Arms because keeping the pack secure is my primary job. I also mentor the fosters, and make sure the snuggle beds don’t escape (I suppose that too falls under security). It’s not that I’m a vicious dog.

When the Peoples take me out in public, I’m very friendly: encouraging people to scratch my head and pet me. For those who are truly deserving of such an honor I will even flop over and present my belly for a good rubbing. HairyFace calls me “a big moosh-baby”. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m pretty sure it indicates non-violence.

Out there.

Here at home, I am Guardian of the Realm. It is my job to keep my pack safe from horrible threats like murderers, robbers, school buses (they eat children you know: I’ve seen them do it), loud cars, marauding stray cats, garden munching bunny rabbits, and the wind. Here at home, I am … intimidating (eye-brow waggle). And I do it well.

That’s why I was just aghast when I went off to deal with a heinous threat and upon my return I found this:

Would not you agree that this was totally unfair and demeaning? Imagine, sending me off to sleep in Volt’s bed so Volt could take my favorite place. SO unfair.

But, Hairy is the Leader, so … I hear and obey, because I’m a good dog. And I will be wanting dinner this evening (sigh).


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Blaze Goes Missing

Blaze gave me quite a scare today.

As Marie was leaving for work she used her “good bye” treats to get most of the house dogs into their crates so I could go outside to clean kennels without having to worry about anyone starting trouble or tearing up a dog bed while I was outside.

When I was finished with the kennels and had the outside dogs back in their rooms, I let the inside dogs go outside.  They rushed past me as I held the door like a flood or fur and raced around the corner to bark at one of the many vagrant cats who like to walk by, flipping the tips of their vertical tails in arrogance because they know the slavering pack of hounds cannot escape the fence to come after them.

After a bit the cat moved on and the dogs settled down to sniffing the grass and freshening their markings.  All except Blaze.  I could hear his distinctive hound dog bawl coming from around the house on the back porch. It occurred to me while I was watering the garden that while I do not think Blaze can get over the retaining wall back there, he was making a convincing try of it last night.  Maybe I should go bring him around to where I can watch him.

As I walked to the house the barking stopped and as I rounded the corner I expected to see Blaze laying on the porch waiting for me to come open the door for him so he could go inside to lounge around in greater comfort.

But he wasn’t.

In fact he was nowhere to be seen!  Just then the baying started up again, but it was just over a rise where the trees take over. “Oh, no! He got over the wall and is chasing that cat!” thought, I; painfully aware that today, of all days for this to happen, is when I’m supposed to deliver Blaze to the rescue van for his long ride out east.

The baying wasn’t moving.  Maybe he treed the cat.  Maybe I can get to him and bring him back.  But first I need to secure the other dogs.

I called them and, to their credit, every one of them came running.  Just for good measure I called to Blaze again, but he remained fixedly baying at the cat.  I turned to open the door to let the herd in so I could crate them and there, peering through the door glass at me, was BLAZE!  He was looking at me as to say, “What? I was sleeping.  Why are you yelling for me?”

I was so relieved I gave him a big hug, which really confused him.

But who the flibbiddygibbets is out in the woods sounding just like Blaze?  Doesn’t matter I guess, Blaze is here and safe.  And … maybe I’m getting too old for this job!


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How Lil Blue Came To Piney Mountain

I started Monday morning by loading up the truck with all the stuff I was going to need that morning, for I had an unusually busy day of running around ahead of me.  Once that was done I did a quickie-clean-up of the kennels.  I planned to do a thorough cleaning later in the day when I did not need to be watching the clock.  I needed to be at Animal Control, with Martin, at 10:00 and time does tend to slip by when I take my eyes of the clock.  So I took care of several short chores and watched that clock to be sure I got all the dogs who were not going with me secured, and Martin loaded in time for me to roll out with enough travel time to get there at (or before) the designated time.

When Martin and I arrived (just a few minutes early), Roxy was waiting on us and she had brought a leash.  Early AND prepared, I like that!  We finished up the adoption and Roxy took Martin (now renamed Guinness) home with her.

Before I left, Lisa (Animal Control’s manager) asked me to look at a dog with her.  Tucked away in the  back room and huddled against the back wall trembling like a leaf was a smallish dog who clearly was at least part Blue Heeler, but beyond that we could not tell anything: size, weight, age, even sex, because of the way he (as it turned out) was all hunched up.  He was terrified.

When the staff arrived that morning, Chip (Newport’s Animal Control Officer) came in the back door and found a crate that someone had left during the night.  The crate contained this guy and a cat.  They got him into one of the kill cages, but could not get close or handle him at all.  We both agreed that he was not going to do well there.  I said I’d have to talk to Marie before I could take him home – and I’d need to go get a crate anyway.  And I went on.

I delivered a display full of dog cookies to Kathy’s Grooming Parlor.  Our rescue uses her a lot and she always does a great job and treats us well.  She came to the Quilts & Canines thing on Saturday and wanted a display for her place to help Steele Away Home.  So I delivered that, we discussed terms.  Then I went on.

I stopped at the bank to exchange a bag of small bills and quarters for big bills.  The drive-through teller, Pam, is a long-time friend and helps us at the Q&C events.  We chatted until another car pulled up behind me, then I rolled on.

I went down the road a bit farther and up the big hill to Linda’s house.  She’s Steele Away Home’s treasurer, and I needed to hand off the people food sales money Marie, Pam and I took in from Quilts & Canines.  I would have given it to her after the show, but they left before we did.

From there I went out to Cedarwood Veterinary to deliver Roxy’s and Martin’s paperwork and microchip (with injector), and to make payments on Steele Away’s vet bill with funds I’d raised that week.  $92.00:  not bad, but not near as good as we did at last year’s Quilts & Canines.

Then home to e-mail Marie.  I explained the situation and she said, “Go get that poor dog!”  I needed to check with her because we are, technically, over capacity already and she is concerned that I’m working myself too hard as it is.  But … Blue is not going to do well at all there and I’m sure Steele Away Home has no vacancies since we are just two weeks before a transport.

So I loaded a transport box in the truck and went back.  The process of gaining enough of the little fella’s trust to let me maneuver him into the transport box took quite a while.  But once done, we loaded him up and I took him home.

Piney Mountain worked it’s blessedness on him, and he started settling down within minutes of arrival.

Resting after his walk

After some decompression time, I took him out for a leash walk, but ended up having to carry him back.  He’s a bit opinionated about where he wanted to go.

He was infested with fleas, so I gave him a Capstar in cat food.  Cat food is my secret weapon against stubborn dogs who will not take a pill hidden in peanut butter, cheese, hot dog, lunch meat … and I tried all of those.  He refused them all.  But Mom had some tins of cat food her cats now refuse to eat and gave me one of those to try.

He also stunk to high heaven, so later in the day I brought him in and Marie and I bathed him in the kitchen sink.  He did NOT like that, but neither did he get nasty about it.

But even through all that he still had live fleas on him.  So I took him back outside to let that Capstar continue to work.  He seemed happier outside in a kennel than inside in a crate anyway … until about 1:30 AM.  Then he started in on a high-pitched howl that sounded like banshees.  That got all the house dogs barking.  I decided to check on him and decide whether I would bring him inside or crate him in the shop to muffle the noise.  It had to be bothering our neighbors.

As I entered his kennel he jumped up and danced on my legs, “I’m so, so happy to see you!  I thought you abandoned me too!”  Okay, you’re lonely.  Bringing you in should fix the problem.

So we settled in the living room.  Lil Blue in his crate, me on the sofa with my Kindle, which I later traded for my lap top because I was not able to get back to sleep, so I might as well get some work done.  This was partly because he was restless too.  About 4:00 AM he finally settled and went into a sound sleep. But that is when I need to be up and starting my day.

And that was the Monday Lil Blue arrived at Piney Mountain.  I got quite a lot done “out there” but precious little done here at home.  I never did get to a deep cleaning of the kennels, just a pick-up and hose out a few times.  Today, Blue and I will continue to get acquainted and I’ll try to get him to walk with me on a leash so I don’t have to carry him all the time.  Not that that’s a big deal, he only weighs about 25 pounds.  But it would be better for both of us if we got that worked out.  That’s one of the necessary skills he’ll need to be considered for adoption.  Eventually he needs to come when I call so I can let him run freely in the yard.  But I have to go gently with him, he’s been hurt enough already.

To follow along with Lil Blue’s progress, check out Blues foster notes page.

Canine Toenail Trimming

Originally published April 1, 2016

The Dogtor is in

I did some toenail trimming on all the dogs yesterday. Trimming a dog’s nails is a necessary part of caring for them. Sharp claws are a hazard to you and your belongings, claws that push down on the floor as they walk can be painful to your dog. For both your sakes, keep them trimmed.

Cochise is always cooperative: he’s a good boy. Blondie did well too. She has gotten to where I ask, “May I have your paw” and she will lift a front paw and present it for trimming. She does expect the treat after each snip or two, but she sits still. Her hind feet are a little trickier (she’s ticklish) but that went well too.

Offering treats during toenail trimming does not work for Volt submits to toenail trimmingbecause he gets so excited by the prospect of food. I waited until Volt was napping, then sidled in with the nippers and said, “Volt … buddy … may I trim these toenails?”

Volt said, “Hmmm? What? Yeah, sure … whatever.”

Volt got several treats when the session was done.

So they’re all trimmed up and looking spiffy. We do this about every two weeks.

Toenail Trimming Treats

To attain even Blondie Bear’s cooperation (she was once terrified of toenail trimming) I make treats by slicing hot dogs into wheels about 1/4″ thick, spreading them on a paper towel so they don’t touch, and microwaving them for 3 minutes (that will vary depending on your microwave). Raw ones work too, but raw hot dog bits go bad quickly (sometimes in just hours). These cooked (dried) bits will keep for days if you want to use them in a training treat pouch. Longer if you store the pouch in the fridge when you’re not using it. I learned this trick from a book about fictional dog trainer Raine Stockton written by Donna Ball.

To start with, sit down and call the dog over. When she complies, give her a treat. Let her sniff the clippers. Give her a treat. Repeat that a couple of times, so she associates the clipper with pleasure. Snip one nail, give a treat. Be firm, but don’t turn it into a wrestling match. Reward her liberally with treats but only when she complies in some way. Bribery (treats before the fact) does not work on dogs: they’re too smart for that.


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Heartworm Treatment Aftermath

Originally published May 10, 2016

The Dogtor is in

How dogs deal with heartworm treatment aftermath varies considerably, depending on several factors.

  • Severity of worm infestation. A low-count infestation will have less effect on the dog as the worms die and potentially cause problems.  A high-count means more dead worm tissue in the blood stream and a higher likelihood that the heart has sustained damage from the worms chewing on it.
  • The dog’s temperament. Dogs, like people, deal with sickness or pain differently: some are wimps and will cry and moan over every little thing, others are stalwart and seemingly ignore discomfort. Most are somewhere in between.
  • How well the treatment went. If a dog jumps or lurches during the injection, it leaves a bruise in the muscle that is very painful – and it requires that the injection be repeated in a slightly different location because the bruise will allow too rapid absorption of the Immiticide. The injection must be done intramuscular to slow the absorption rate.
dolly cochise nursemaid, heartworm treatment aftermath
Dolly was Cochise’s nursemaid during heartworm treatment

Some dogs we’ve cared for were hardly slowed down at all, while others (like Cochise) were hit hard. It took him a week or more to get over the nausea and pain. Most are stiff and sore in their lower back and hips for one to three days, then bounce back quickly.

This is actually more dangerous than one who convalesces for a while because it is vital to keep the dog on crate rest for a minimum of two weeks. High levels of activity cause increased heart rate which causes an increased chance of dead worm matter breaking loose from the heart, lodging in the capillaries of the lungs and causing a lesion or embolism in the lung. This can be fatal. The dog must be given time for his body to absorb the dead tissue before they become active again.

Volt’s Heartworm Treatment Aftermath

Because Volt was underweight, Dr. Conklin decided to use an extended-kill method with him. This takes longer and is more expensive, but is easier on the dog. Volt went in for his final treatments yesterday and today. Yesterday went well and he experienced little discomfort. He felt a little yucky this morning, but that was all. Today (we suspect) did not go so well.

He’s got a visible lump on his back where the injection would have been given, so we suspect he twitched and tore a bruise in the muscle. He’s also quite uncomfortable:

And here we are, out of Tramadol. I gave him a baby aspirin. At 71 pounds, Volt could probably have two, but we’ll try one. Maybe we’ll do two at bed time so he gets a good nights rest. He should feel better in the morning.

A low dose of aspirin is safe for large dogs for short term use (like a day or two) for pain, when advised by your veterinarian. Do not use if the dog is taking Prednisone. Generally, a dog 50 to 100 pounds can have one regular aspirin tablet twice a day — SHORT term. Aspirin causes gastric bleeding if over-used. Baby aspirin is straight aspirin but in a lower (81 mg) dose. Tramadol is a better option, but it requires a prescription and is pricey. Do not use Tylenol.

Tylenol is Acetaminophen. Acetaminophen, which is not an NSAID, is poisonous to dogs. Typical symptoms of pain killer poisoning include difficulty breathing, vomiting (can be a good thing), change in coloration of the gums, jaundice (a sign of liver damage), and a change in body temperature, among others. Do not use Tylenol on your dog!

heartworm treatment aftermathAn hour after I gave Volt the baby aspirin he was able to rest. He was not sleeping, but could lie still and rest without whimpering and shifting around. I tried to make him comfortable in the den with the rest of us, but he preferred to suffer in solitude and went to the bedroom. He did appreciate an occasional belly rub.

After another hour he came and got me to tell me that he needed to go outside. I took him out (without a leash this time: the last thing he wants to do right now is run) and he went as far as the very first patch of grass to take care of all his business. I cleaned up after him (since this was in a major traffic pattern) and he was waiting for me at the back door.

The First Night

When I dish up kibbles, Volt always comes to supervise. At first he was hoping I would drop some (or he could grab some) and I had to close the door to keep him from raiding the kibble buckets as I opened them. When he learned to control himself, I started giving him a kibble or two as a treat for his improved behavior.

That evening, Volt did not come to the door of the Kibble Treasury when I began scooping kibbles into dishes. He was dozing just across the hallway, and that was more important to him than a snack.

As dinner preparation was about concluded and ready to serve, Volt did come out of the den (it did smell good). We decided to try letting him eat on a blanket beside the table like Cochise and Blondie do. Volt has been getting fed in his crate because he will wolf down his own food then try to push Blondie out of her bowl as well. And she is mild tempered enough to let him do it. She will give him a “How rude!” look, but not fight him over it. Tonight, he’s not feeling all that pushy, because of the heartworm treatment aftermath.

He did well. He ate much slower than normal, then went and sat behind my chair and waited. When Blondie and Cochise finished their dinners, all three wandered off to lie down and let the meal settle.

I woke him from his nap to take him outside so he would sleep through the night. He wasn’t thrilled with that, but he complied, squatting like a girl-dog because raising a leg hurt too much.

When bed time arrived, Volt was crashed in the den. I asked him if he wanted to join us in the bedroom, but the only response I got was a brief, groggy, one-eyed, glance.

Normally we insist on it because it’s easier to track his whereabouts. He has tried at least one Midnight Caper while we slept. But I didn’t think he’d be up to any mischief this time.

Nurse Blondie monitors Heartworm treatment aftermathVolt woke Marie at 12:30 am when he got up to wander restlessly. He was in pain again. Marie gave him another baby aspirin and he settled into his bed in the bedroom. Blondie moved from her bed to the floor next to him to be nursemaid. She stayed there all night.

At 6:00 most of us got up again. Volt seemed comatose – and caused me some concern – but it turned out he was just unwilling to leave the Nirvana of slumber. We can all understand that!

Dealing well with heartworm treatment aftermathCochise stood in for Volt as kibble inspector when I dished up doggie breakfast. Once I got the bacon and eggs going, Volt was up and sitting in the living room watching. He was more animated this morning. Enough so that he was served breakfast in his crate again.

After breakfast we went outside and he again squatted to pee. Then he settled in with us in the den and went to sleep. He is still sore, but not so sore as to need pain meds to sleep. That’s good. He’s bouncing back already. I’ll let him sleep as much as he wants, that’s the best way to heal.

The Outlook

Volt is a laid-back hound dog. Keeping him calm for the next few weeks will not be the challenge that it is in a high-energy dog. Still, I’ll use a leash to take him out for potty breaks, once he’s not suffering so.

Once he’s feeling better, we will have to take him on another trip to Tractor Supply just to be sure he does not come to associate truck rides with bad things happening to him.

Volt is a sweet, good-natured dog, he will be fine. It’s just going to take a few days to get past the rough part of heartworm treatment aftermath.


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Blondie Bear: Escape Artist

Originally published Nov. 29, 2014

Escape artist Blondie
Blondie Bear: escape artist extraordinaire

A report from Cochise on Blondie Bear:

The day after Thanksgiving, there was great excitement in the neighborhood: a UPS truck was parked out front AND a stray dog was running up and down the road all at the same time! Smokey and Lupa were barking and carrying on, other confined dogs on the road were barking and carrying on. We were running all over the yard barking this way and that. It was more than Blondie Bear could stand.

In desperation to escape and be part of it all, she found she could scale a section of The Great Wall of Edwina by reaching up with her forepaws, hooking the top plank with her rather ample claws, and boosting herself with hind feet claws snagging seams between the heavy boards. Doug got to the door just in time to see Blondie’s butt going up over the wall and trot off toward the road. I would not have thought it possible: she’s pretty chunky after all, but she did it. Of course she went absolutely deaf the moment she got over the wall and could not hear Doug calling her back.

Doug went out after her. It was a foolish effort, but he tried. She’d look at him when he got close, giggle and run off again. Finally she went down a steep slope toward a creek and a cow pasture beyond. Doug couldn’t follow through the forest underbrush on that slope, so he came home. She was out for hours. She pranced through the yard several times, looking very pleased with herself. She was out carousing until Marie got home from shopping. The thought of seeing Marie and inspecting a truck-load of groceries was too much for her and she surrendered.

The next day Doug got to work thwarting that avenue of escape. He was going to add another level to the trellis, but Marie suggested just adding a shelf. He thought that over, modified the concept a little and made it so.

Blondie was not amused.

Escape route thwarted


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Beagle Tender

The Dogtor is in

Marie was up before 4:00 this morning: low blood sugar. Her ministrations in the kitchen roused Buddy Beagle (who was at that time sleeping in a crate in the kitchen) and of course he wanted to be up with Marie. He adores Marie. His vocalizations roused Josephine who decided to turn it into play time. Before the Beagles may play they must go outside to pee. Marie was not up to beagle herding yet, so I got up to help with that. It was time for me to be up anyway.

When they got back in and Marie was ready to head back to bed, Josie decided she’d rather sleep some more too. So Buddy joined me in the den while I tried to study. After a while, since I was not willing to devote myself entirely to scratching his head (I was scratching, but also trying to read my Bible) he wandered off.

A half-hour later I went out to the kitchen for another mug of coffee and found Buddy curled up in his crate snoozing away.

He did raise his head as I approached, “Is it time for breakfast?”

“No. Not breakfast time yet. Not for another hour.”

“Oh.” and put his head back down.

He’s a good boy.


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Great Leaping LunaFish!

The Dogtor is in

When I clean Luna’s kennel I put her on a 20 foot steel cable tether to keep her from going over a fence while I’m busy cleaning and not able to watch her closely.Today there was something up in the woods above our house that had all the dogs revved up.  Especially Luna.  She was leaping like a hooked game fish.  The picture angle makes it look like she’s standing on the timbers, but she’s not.  I marked her starting position for this standing leap.

When I was done cleaning kennels things had calmed down so I took Luna out for her potty run.  She won’t “go” in the play yard, she has to be in the trees.  This seems to be something drilled into her by her former family, “Do not defile the children’s play yard.”

We encountered what it was that had them excited: a grey and white, stump-tailed cat with a permanent “so what are you going to do about it” expression on his face (he or she is one of a burgeoning number of feral cats in our area) was crouching in the leaves not 8 feet from where we were walking.  Had it not moved, I think Luna would have missed it entirely, but it spooked when I looked at it and it went a ways up a tree then leapt off deeper into the woods, Luna took off after it and took my arm with her.

I got her back to her kennel using just the one remaining arm and am now in the process of gluing the missing arm back on.  Man that hurts.

Notation for her resume: NOT cat friendly.  I don’t now that she would have hurt it, but she definitely chases cats.


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Lemmy Goes On the Lamb

We sprung Lemaster from doggie jail this morning and made his getaway run into quite an adventure.

Okay, we did not break him out, we pulled him for Steele Away Home Canine Foster and Rescue, and did it all quite legally.  But he was glad to be out of jail just the same, and gave us lots of kisses to prove it.

‘Scuse me, you’re sitting in MY seat!

Once we got him fitted with a proper harness and leash we walked him out to the truck.  I opened the door and he hopped right up into the drivers seat, “In the back peasants, I’ll drive this rig.”  But we worked out a compromise.  I put him in behind the seats and he decided that sitting on Marie’s lap was a better idea!  He was still attached to his safety tether which is bolted to the floor, so he was safe from flying forward in a sudden stop, and he was sitting pretty still, so Marie allowed it.  He’s just so CUTE, she couldn’t deny him.

The Memorial Day Pool Party

Some time ago we bought a small pool for a foster who loved to cool off by sitting in water…  her water bowl if nothing else was available!

Since it’s a warm holiday today I decided to pull that pool out of storage and see if any of our current fosters would like to avail themselves of a refreshing dip.

As you can see, so far only Lenny is interested in swimming, but the others may come around before he heads for Wisconsin next Saturday.

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