shadow

The Pop-up Thunderstorm

We had a pop-up thunderstorm roll in this morning as we were getting our day started.  It gave advance notice in the form of continuous, distant thunder so I dashed out to feed The Brown Dog Gang and let them run in the yard to relieve themselves before it arrived.  Lennon and Blondie went with me to help.  The rain started just as we were finishing up and getting them back into their kennels.

Blondie trotted up toward the house with her ears down on the sides of her head (her Yoda face) muttering, “It’s raining, it’s raining, I don’t like the rain.  I need to be inside.”

While Marie fixed breakfast, Buddy Beagle cowered in his bunker. He still barked at the thunder — until we had a close lightning strike with it’s BIG boomer that rattled the house and the power blinked. Then Buddy admitted defeat and was quiet: curled up in the back of his crate until the storm passed.

Josie hid too. In her own way.  She tried to wiggle in behind the chair, but it had been pushed back to make more room for crates.  She often goes and hides under my desk, but this morning she preferred to be where the Peoples were, so she made do with this corner.

Moving Kennel #3

As part of the Big Doins at Piney Mountain, I moved Lennon’s kennel today.   This was Phase One Step Three.  Not that that matters.

The thing is that this kennel could not be taken apart and moved one piece at a time.  Noooooo … this one had to be moved fully assembled (except for the 4×4 timber foundation, those I moved separately). Blondie and Lennon supervised.

If it were possible to get three other people with sound shoulders and strong backs who could all show up here at the same time (that’s the hard part) we could have each taken hold of a corner and trundled the thing around to its new spot in a matter of minutes. Sort of like this but on a much smaller scale:

But I don’t have such a labor force, so I did it by myself and it took all afternoon.

It’s moved now, and tied down on its foundation, which I put under it again once the kennel was where I wanted it. I need to get a few bales of wood chips to put in there to keep Lennon out of the mud when it rains, but otherwise it’s good.

And, the work area around the slab is cleared.  Well, almost.  Now that Lennon’s kennel is moved and the Krazy Fence is buttoned up tight I can take out those last three panels and clear the work area completely.  That will take less than an hour … but I’ll do that another day.  Today, I’m tuckered out.

We want to avoid going into debt with a second mortgage to pay for this project so we’re taking it on as we accumulate the cash to pay for it. If you’d like to help us speed that along, your donation would be greatly appreciated. You may make a donation on-line with the PayPal button below or you may mail a check to:

Doug Bittinger
1198 Piney Mountain Road
Newport, TN 37821


If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Kennel Deconstruction

It was a chilly but sunny Saturday morning with no rain or high winds predicted for the day.  It seemed like a good day to work on the first step in Phase One of our Kennel Upgrade project.

Oak Beams are HEAVY

Phase One, Step One is to move a lumber pile out of the driveway so the concrete truck can get close enough to the kennel location to discharge it’s load into the forms.  I have been working on that the past couple of days.  This photo was just the start, about half the pile is moved now.  I’ll finish that up in the coming week.

Phase One Step Two is to dismantle Kennels #1 and #2.  Today I want to strip the roofs off of these kennels.

All three kennels are in the way of where the concrete slab will go (See: Big Doins article) so they have to be moved.  Now that Selma and Lucy have gone to New Jersey, #1 and #2 are not in use.  The tricky bit here is that the kennels form part of the perimeter fence that keeps the dogs in the yard.  Were I to simply take them apart, the dogs would have to be walked on leashes any time they came outside, and running and frolicking would be right out of the question.  Since this could take a little while to accomplish, I need an alternative plan.

Obviously I went a bit farther than I planned to go today, but it was going well and I was feeling good and decided to just keep at it until I got this step done.  There is lots more work to do: digging out the landscape timbers that formed the foundation under the kennel panels, scrubbing and storing the dog houses and beds, and of course I still have to move Lennon’s kennel.  That’s Phase One Step Three.

Overlaps the sidewalk area

One corner of this kennel is inside the area that the slab will cover.  But even if it were a couple of feet further back and clear of the slab, when Bob smooths the concrete he will probably use a long handled float.  That long handle will need some room to work with, and this kennel being in the way will be a hassle.

But because of the way this one is built (my most advanced design), it will not be a simple matter to dismantle it, move the parts, and put them back together.  It would be better to move the kennel intact.  I’ll detach it from its foundation of 4×4 timbers, but the chain link panels and roof will remain clamped together — unless it is simply beyond my strength to move it as an assembly.

I left “containment” around the work area because I will be opening the temporary fence to get kennel #3 where it needs to go, and because there are gaps under the temp fence that might encourage dogs to try digging out.  I’ll block those with the timbers I remove from kennels 1 & 2 foundations.  Removing the three remaining panels from the work area will be a simple matter and can be done the day before Bob arrives to set up forms.  Until then, they are insurance.

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Lennon’s First Play-date with the Girls

Is that a UPS truck coming?!

Lennon is not a particularly massive dog, nor is he mean, but with his high energy level and gangly legs, he can be a formidable playmate as he sprints around and gets bouncy when in close.  Blondie Bear can handle him and they have played together often.

Being a Mentor dog, Blondie tries to curb his enthusiasm or channel his energy into proper play like running.  He likes to run, but also like to wrestle.

Today was the first time I allowed Lennon to play with dogs other than Blondie.

Josephine has encountered him (accidentally) and found him terrifying.  So I left her inside.

I’ve always figured that Lucy and Lennon would make good playmates because she is equal in size and more massive.  She should be able to handle him.

Callie is playful and likes to wrestle.  Though she’s a little smaller, she is quite strong.  That should be an even match.

So let’s line them up and see how they do … one at a time to start, with Blondie as referee.

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Blondie Bear and Rebel Reach An Agreement On Sleeping

Blondie Bear has been with us since March of 2013.  For most of that time, she has lived in the house with us as a family member and slept in the bedroom at night.  Blondie and Cochise had beds of their own to sleep in, so we never let these 85 to 100 pound dogs jump into our bed with us.  We continued that policy even when we started collecting Beagles.

When it would rain, and especially when it stormed, Blondie tended to curl up on the floor beside my side of the bed to draw comfort from being near me.  This became her normal nighttime sleeping location after a while.

When Rebel arrived, he was used to living outdoors full time and had insecurity issues.  He was also starving and I needed to feed him, often hand feed him, small amounts every couple of hours.  And it was winter.  So it made sense to bring him indoors where I could more easily work with him.

A Trick for (giving) Treats

When training a dog, I find that giving SMALL treats as a reward for proper responses speeds the learning process and makes the session far more enjoyable for the dog and for myself.  But what do you do when you have a dog that is so eager to get that treat that she’ll take your thumb and finger with the treat if you hold it between them?  Here’s my Trick for Treats:

When a dog is gentle about taking treats, this is not an issue — like Ugg:

When giving larger treats (not training treats) presenting them sideways to the dog helps prevent the dog from taking your hand along with the treat:

When NOT to use treats in training

When I first start training a dog that has been living on the streets for a while, I don’t use treats at all.  These dogs are often so food-centric that as soon as they discover I’m carrying food they will do anything — including knocking me over and tearing open the pocket or pouch — to get it.  They have no idea about doing what I want them to do to get the food doled out to them a morsel at a time.  They want the food, they want all of it, they want it NOW.  That can be dangerous.

So instead I reward these dogs’ good behavior with head scratches and neck rubs.  And that may take some work too.  Dogs that have been abused or neglected for a long time are not accustomed to being touched except in violence and will be skittish about it.  Be patient.  Take it slow.  Earn his trust. Use a soft voice, and stay as low as possible so you are not towering over the dog.  That’s intimidating to them.  Also avoid staring at her eyes: her instincts tell her this is a challenge and hostility.

Once he’s adjusted to the idea that touching is pleasant, petting will serve as reward enough until you’ve gained enough respect that he will trust you to give out the food treats as they are earned.

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Peanut Butter Moonshine

I spent just under four hours today making just over 1,000 peanut butter dog treats. Ostensibly these are for the Quilts and Canines event on the 15th of the month. In actuality, some will be needed elsewhere before then so I’ll have to make more next week.

The process of making these peanut butter treats left a large peanut butter jar empty. I like to give the empty jars to the outside dogs because they tend to miss out on a lot of treats the house dogs get. But today I decided to give it to Blondie Bear. She’s been feeling down.

There was a time when she and Cochise were the only house dogs. Occasionally a foster dog would earn enough Good Dog points to come in for housebreaking, but the vast majority of the time it was just the four of us and Cochise and Blondie got lots of attention from Marie and me. But then we adopted Josephine. And Buddy. And Callie. And Moonshine is an in-house foster dog. Blondie is pretty laid back and doesn’t get huffy when the others push in front of her to get the People attention. But it hurts her feelings. So I thought it might lift her spirits if I gave HER the peanut butter jar this time.

She was laying on the floor in the kitchen watching me work, everyone else was snoozing in the living room or the den. There should not be a big tussle as the others try to get it away from her.

I set the jar down beside her. She looked at it, looked at me, looked back at the jar. She licked tentatively at the rim and said as she stood up, “Too rich for me. I’m trying to watch my figure.” and walked away.

By now some of the others got wind of the fact that I gave her something that I did not give everyone else and came to investigate. First on the scene was Moonshine. At first she stood off about four feet, her glance darting around the room looking for the others. She glanced at me several times, judging whether that jar was fair game or if I would scold her is she approached. I just watched as I worked.

Josephine was creeping up on the scene from the other side of the table. Moonie decided it was now or never. She stepped up, still casting furtive glances, maybe deciding if this was a trap. It sure smelled GOOD! Josie was stepping closer, so Moonie lowered her head, ever so slowly, still glancing about, and took the rim of the jar gently in her teeth.

She paused, listening, glancing at me, glancing at Josephine, then slowly lifted the jar, turned, and tip-toed out of the room. Once she got into the hallway I heard her claws clickety-clacking rapidly down the tile floor to the bedroom.

I was cutting out treats and loading them on a tray while this was going on. Timing is important in this, especially when I’m doing multiple batches, so I had to keep going until it was time to put that tray in the oven. With that done I took a moment to slip back and make sure Moonshine wasn’t making a mess of the carpet.

She was lounging on a bed, thoroughly enjoying licking every morsel of peanut butter she could reach out of that jar.

As I came to the door she grinned at me, flapped her tail a few times, and stuck her nose back into the jar, tongue snaking out as far as it could to retrieve that peanutty goodness.

That thing kept her happily occupied most of the afternoon! I’m sorry Blondie wasn’t interested, but glad Moonshine enjoyed it. She has started her heartworm treatment and will be getting the injections soon. I’ll have to make sure I empty another peanut butter jar when she comes home from that.

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Mitzie Steele: Notes on a foster dog

Mitzie is an Australian Shepherd / Cattle Dog mix rescued from the Mountain City TN Animal Shelter where she was about to be put down. I understand that the manager there called Steele Away Home and said, “PLEASE help me save this one.” One of our fosters drove two hours to pick her up. But once she got Mitzie home, it was obvious that it wasn’t going to work because Mitzie has a high prey drive and was after the cat and the chickens. So, here she is, at Piney Mountain.

Last updated: Aug. 6, 2018

Base Info:

  • Arrival date: July 17, 2018
  • Breed: Australian Shepherd Mix
  • Sex: Female
  • Age: @ 1 year
  • Weight: @50
  • Spay/Neutered: Yes
  • General Health: Excellent
  • Temperament: High energy when playing, but sweet and attentive, even a little clingy, when calm. Brilliantly smart!
  • Gets Along with Dogs: Defensive-aggressive at first, especially if she is confined and the others are not. Playful and open once she’s settled in. May be too energetic for some small dogs.
  • Gets Along with People: Yes
  • Housebroken/Crate Trained: Yes

History

Surrendered to an animal shelter by her owner because the family was moving.

Transported to A Pathway to Hope on Aug. 3, 2018 for adoption.

Known Issues & Progress

High prey drive: cannot be trusted around cats, chickens, rabbits, ducks, or small wildebeests. This may have been misinterpreted: Mitzie loves to CHASE things, but may not be as focused on killing them as was thought. Still, I advise caution in this area.

High energy, she needs space to run. Walking on a leash is not sufficient all the time. She will walk on a leash, but is accustomed to being able to run.

Mitzie has a routine (hers not mine) of needing to get out in the yard at meal times (we feed at 7:00 am and 6:00 pm) so she can walk or run for 5 to 10 minutes and have a bowel movement. THEN she will return and be ready to eat. If I just give her her dish of kibble, she’ll sniff it, walk away, and refuse to eat until she gets her constitutional.

Mitzie has recovered well from her spay surgery and is again playful and happy.

Gallery

In roughly chronological order, newest at the bottom. Click the thumbnails to enlarge.
Some pictures are linked to Doggy Tales or videos about Mitzie, click those to open the related story.

 

Mitzie
Yes, you may pet me.

Getting used to Rainy

I *like* this bouncy thing!

A first good look at Mitzie (vid)

(Video)

Blondie teaches Mitzie to play nicely.

Mitzie is fussy about toys, but she LIKES this one!

Mitzie and Dani get loud sometimes, but are mostly peaceful.

One last play session for these two friends.
. . .

The Lion Queen

Callie and Rainy had an issue with one another over a plush toy that Marie found. Others got involved as well. Will they be able to resolve it peacefully? Who will be, The Lion Queen?

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.

Altering S.S.P.

It has been S.S.P. (Standard Sleeping Procedure) forever that Blondie Bear inhabited the snuggle bed at the foot of our bed and Cochise preferred to sleep in the corner by the wall. During times of high stress (heavy rain, thunder, fireworks, hunters on the mountain at night, etc) Blondie would slip around and sleep beside my side of the bed. Here she could prompt me and I could slide an arm over and scratch her head when she needed comforting. Yeah, I know: we’re not supposed to do that, it just encourages fearful behavior. But she’s my “sweetface baby girl” and I am a softie sometimes. Especially where she is concerned.

Blondie’s Safe Sleeping Spot

When Cochise passed away, Blondie began sleeping along side the bed every night. She’ll lounge on her bed until we’re all settled, but once we’re ready to sleep, around she comes. This could be a problem with mobility as I get up at night to tend to dogs clickety-clacking along the hallway — potentially needing to go outside. But I know she’s down there, so I probe gently with my feet as I sit up. Blondie stays real still, letting me discover where she is not so I can find floor and stand up. That’s trust!

I have to think she is still missing her best friend and is seeking solace in staying close to me at night. Most of the time she does not seek skritchies. Once in a while I am awakened by her big square nose poking me gently, but most of the time she is content with being close.

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices.