shadow

The Usurper

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 The Protector. 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).


Want to help
save lives?



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.

Working Like a Dog

Cochise
Cochise tells the tale

I like to think of myself as a working breed dog. I don’t herd sheep, or guard a bunch of goats, or pull a plow, (oh, wait: do dogs do that? I guess they might somewhere. Anyhow … ) but I definitely have work to do. We all do. And we have to do it, rain, shine, or snow.

Today it’s snowing. And cold. But what must be done must be done…

Of course, our working is not all office work. My duties include facility security. That means I bark ferociously at anything that threatens to do harm to our property or Peoples: bears, moose, deer, panthers, stray dogs, cats, bunnies, falling leaves … you get the idea. I also alert the Peoples of vehicles in the road or anyone closing a car door within a half-mile of our property. These are serious threats!

I also serve as a roll-model for our foster dogs, like Volt. Blondie Bear shares this task with me.

Blondie is also HairyFace’s personal assistant, looking after him in all ways at all times, making sure he doesn’t get lonely. She rarely leaves his sight if not his side. She is also designated facility nurse: if anyone is sick, she will be there to offer sympathy and support until they are well.

Volt’s primary task is to learn how to be a good dog. That can be a confusing and trying assignment, but Blondie and I are here to help interpret what the Peoples tell him and coach him on house-dog etiquette. Since he’s sick, we don’t push him too hard; getting well so he can be adopted is part of his assignment too.

As you can see, all this is a big responsibility. But Blondie and I are up to it. We are, after all, working breed dogs!


Want to help
save lives?



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.

Dog Bed Upgrade

Cochise
Cochise tells the tale

In our house the peoples have a rule about no dogs on the people furniture. It’s not much to ask since they only have a sofa, an easy chair and their bed (and some hard chairs that are too small for us to curl up on even if we wanted to – which we don’t). We each have a snuggly dog bed. In fact we have more furniture than they do.

First are a pair of thick pads in the living room in front of the fireplace. These used to be in HairyFace’s office over in the workshop, and that was nice when we spent most of our days over there with him. When he stopped spending his days there, he brought them home for use in the “heavy traffic” area.

We also have snuggle beds in the bedroom. These are nicer and when the weather is sloppy, Hairy closes the door to keep dirty feet off the carpet and the good beds. NiceLady recently bought us new dog beds: super-cush beds with memory foam pads. Hairy took one of the old beds into the den where his desk is. I like to lay on the carpet in front of the space heater, Blondie wanted a snuggle bed to lay in. Now we’re both happy. The other dog bed got put away in a closet.

Volt has been spending most of his time indoors with us. He has a polar fleece blanket folded up so it’s thick and soft. That’s in his crate. Volt has been exceptionally gentle with his blanket: he doesn’t even wad it up like Roger did. Roger liked to wrestle with it. He wasn’t being destructive, just amusing himself.

dog bedWhen all three dogs are in the living area there are only the two futon pads for us to lie on. Hairyface would pull Volts blanket out, but that’s still sub-par with our pads. And since no attempt is made to keep Volt from lounging on a futon, sometimes Blondie or I would get stuck on Volt’s blanket. So Hairy started bringing Blondie’s bed out of the spare room.

volt dog bedBut when Volt decided he wanted the snazzier bed, Blondie got bent out of shape! So did I for that matter. Here it is just three days since he arrived and not only is he in the house but he’s claiming our beds!

Because Volt is so gentle on his bedding, the Peoples decided to put the other older bed in his crate instead of the blanket — and it could be pulled out for use when he’s not being crated. Blondie thought that was pretty cush!

But Volt wasn’t ready to retire yet so Hairy pulled the bed out and Lady added a small blanket. When Volt gets to where he can resist invading other dogs dishes at meal time, this blue blanket will be put around the table with Blondie’s pink one and my brown one as our place markers for dining. By sleeping on it now, he will come to know it as his.

It was late by this time and Volt was ready for bed — once he had a chance to go outside for a potty break. Before that he was in his crate but barking and making SUCH a fuss! He knew he needed to go out. Once he got his request attended to he was fine and slept soundly all night.

In the morning Hairy pulled the bed out for Volt to rest on — but Blondie claimed it:

This was resolved once breakfast was ready and HairyFace put Volt back in his crate to eat.

dog bedsAfter breakfast we all saw NiceLady off to work and Hairy took Volts bed to the spare room where Blondie’s day bed is and he brought my night time bed in from the bedroom so we all had a snuggle bed to rest on while he wrote and made videos.

We spent the whole day either here with Hairy, in the living room playing with chewies, or outside enjoying the sunshine (when it came out). Volt has not been crated ALL DAY LONG! He’s being a very good boy.


Want to help
save lives?



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.

Life is Good

Cochise
Cochise tells the tale

It is Sunday. On Sundays NiceLady fixes a special breakfast that we all get to share in. Something yummy. Then HairyFace and NiceLady go to church and we dogs take a nap. When they get back we get to spend the rest of the day with both of them. That’s a treat because most days Lady goes away to work for nearly all of the day. That’s life as a People, she says. We are excited to see her again, and we miss her while she’s away. Not on weekends. Life is great on weekends. Saturdays tend to busy with chores, but HairyFace takes us on a truck ride. Blondie and I love truck rides! On Sundays Lady and Hairy rest up and spend extra time with us.

It’s getting chilly today. Earlier the wind was blowing hard, not so much now, but rain (maybe snow) is moving toward us. I can tell.

When HairyFace and NiceLady got home from church, they let Blondie and me out in the yard, then Roger, then Hairy brought in a big pile of firewood and built us a crackling fire. It’s nice and warm in here now.

I have a cushy, warm bed to lie on. HairyFace gave us a brand new hoofie to break in. I got first crack at it this week …

Earlier this morning, HairyFace was talking with a friend about pets, and freedom, and trade-offs. His friend took in a feral tom cat who turned out to have feline leukemia. Mike is providing hospice service for “Buddy” by allowing him to live in their basement (away from their other cats) but in some mighty cushy digs of his own. It’s been 13 months now and Buddy is still going strong. He and Mike have developed a close bond too. Mike’s workshop is in the basement and he spends a lot of time down there. They go out for walks in the yard (sometimes Mike has to carry Buddy), but Buddy has not made any attempt to run off. Mike was wondering if Buddy missed his feral life style: if he ever felt imprisoned.

Most of the foster dogs we take care of were picked up as strays. Some were (judging by their condition) living wild for quite some time (and not doing very well at it). When we take them in, most have no idea of “house manners”, so they have to learn from us everything they need to know to be adoptable.

Do they (we – for I was a stray once myself) miss running wild? Yes, some do. But most of us come to recognize that having a home where we have proper shelter, regular meals, toys, and someone who genuinely loves us (and who we can love in return) is much better than running wild and alone.

Some, including Blondie (aka Houdini), will sometimes slip away for an adventure, but they come back home when they get tired or thirsty or hungry. We know when we have it good. Life is much better in a home, with good peoples, than out in the wild. Even Roger agrees with that, he just wants to write his own rules!


Want to help
save lives?



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.

Time To Get Up, You!

Cochise tells the tale

It is Saturday. This is the one day NiceLady gets to sleep late — if she wants to. She can get up when she’s good and ready. Blondie and I know this and we usually oblige by sleeping in too. Or at least being quiet, if we want to get up and hang out with HairyFace.

But … it is warm out (for January) and we are eager to get started on our day. Blondie and I have both been outside to take care of business. Hairy gave us a snack, but we are still hungry. It’s time to do something.

Blondie and I sat next to the bed and stared at Lady as she slept, using our Dogi powers to induce wakefulness. That did not work.

Cochise says, get up you

Blondie said, “You stay here.” and she started bumping against the bed. When a 90 pound Pit Bull/Lab mix starts whumping into a bed, it’s a little like an earthquake. I held station by Lady’s head so when her eyes fluttered open, she saw my face staring back at her from close range.

As soon as I saw eyeballs, I started talking softly to her in my deep, rumbly voice, “Rowr, rowr, time to get up, you, rowr, gruff.” And to seal the deal I finished with a piteous whine, “We’re SO hungry!”

That did the trick.

NiceLady got up and HairyFace started breakfast and we were all happy. Except maybe Lady.

On Saturday we go for a truck ride. That’s a rule.

Today Hairy said, “We don’t have enough trash to be worth making a run. Sorry Chief.” I was very disappointed and told him so. Hairy decided he could drive into town and make a bank deposit, and we could go along. That made Blondie and me both happy.

We rode on some different roads than when we do a trash run, part of the way was the same as when we go to the veterinarian. That didn’t bother me, I like my veterinarian. But when we got to the end of the road where we have to turn, instead of turning right we turned left and went into what the People’s calls “town”. There are a lot of cars in town!

We pulled in to a big fancy building, drove around back and came to a place where a couple of ladies were inside a big wide window. One of the ladies said, “Oh, my: your doggie is bigger than you are!” and a drawer slid out from the wall. It was all so strange! I was so excited I was VIBRATING! I talked to the lady too. Not barking: just talking nice. She smiled at me.

Blondie stuck her head up between the door and the side of Hairy’s seat so her head was beside his shoulder. The second lady inside laughed, pointed and said, “Oh, there’s ANOTHER one!”

When they were finished doing whatever they were doing, the drawer came out again and Hairy took some stuff out of it. The first lady said, “There is an envelope for you and another for them.”

HairyFace opened the fat envelope and it was full of little dog cookies. We all said, “Thank you!” and Hairy gave us each a couple of cookies. We were very careful not to bite his fingers because they were quite small cookies. The ladies laughed again and we drove slowly around the building to the street. Hairy doled out the rest of the cookies as we drove home. I like that drive-through cookie store!


Want to help
save lives?



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.

Crating and Free-Play

Cochise
Cochise tells the tale

One of the things foster dogs do as they transition from crate training to house training is to get some supervised free-play time in the house. They still get time in the yard too, but we add house training to teach them to behave in a people house. There are more rules to house play than there are to yard play.

Roger has done well with his crate training. He rarely gets rowdy any more and he fusses only when he needs to go outside. He can go from the crate to the door and back without a leash, and he goes right in his crate to get his cookie. He has watched Blondie Bear and me being house dogs and has taken notes. He is still energetic, but more controlled. Sometimes he does play little games with Hairyface:

When Roger arrived here, he came with a treasured toy: Remington the Duck. A volunteer had given it to him while at the shelter. They told Hairy that Roger loved that toy so much that when they would go in to clean his run and dish up food, Roger would snatch up his duck and sit watching them with the toy clenched in his teeth, “This is my duck. You can take anything else, but not my duck.” So when they sent Roger here they sent Remington along with him.

Sometimes in free-play time they play “Retriever” (a.k.a. Fetch the Duck) and sometimes Roger just wants to play Duck-Slayer:

Even though it looks like he’s being really rough with it, the toy is perfectly intact. Roger will take our plush toys and try to rip them up (the Peoples stop him) but he never damages Remington.

These free-play times are getting longer as Roger learns to be self-controlled. He will always be energetic — that’s just Roger. But as he learns to behave well, and can show that his house-breaking is holding, he will get more and more time out of his crate. The goal is to get him to where he only goes to his crate when he wants to during the day and confined there only at night.

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

To those who think that crating a dog is cruel and unusual punishment: you could not be more wrong. If crate training is done properly, our crate is a safe-haven, a space all our own. I loved my crate while I was being house trained, and insisted on sleeping there for a long time afterward. Eventually I abandoned that for a snuggle bed, but I never viewed my crate as punishment. You have your bedroom, I had mine. That’s the way most of us feel.

Being comfortable in a crate, even if not used all the time, can also be a benefit to you if you decide to take us traveling with you. We may not be as welcome to run freely in a relatives home. If you leave us in a motel room while you go for breakfast, a crate will avoid any unfortunate surprises when you get back.

Roger does not think of his crate as punishment. He is delighted to come out and play, but when free-play time is over, he is just as willing to go back to his big blankie, his chew toys, Remington, and a cookie (for being a good boy). He knows if he fusses, he will be allowed to go outside, so it is not imprisonment. It’s just part of being a house dog.


Want to help
save lives?



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.

We Wish You a Doggy Christmas

Cochise
Cochise tells the tale

Even though it is Christmas day, HairyFace returned to his habit of getting up at 4:00 AM and studying. He has been forgoing that so Roger would not get all riled up, thrash about in his crate and wake up the whole household. Roger has been calming down, so we thought we’d give it a try today. I always get up when HairyFace does. Well, almost always.

Roger being good Christmas morning.

Roger did VERY well! He did wake and stand up as we came down the hall, but when HairyFace bypassed his crate with just a “Good morning, Roger!” he laid back down and napped some more. He stayed quiet until NiceLady and Blondie joined us and HairyFace started breakfast: poached eggs, ham and fried taters – from our garden. Yumm! I like all those things.

HairyFace and NiceLady always give us Christmas gifts. This year HairyFace decided to wrap them so we could join in the fun of opening presents. We found that a little … confusing.

Swapping Christmas giftsAfter a while of chewing hoofies, Blondie and I swapped: just to make sure what she got wasn’t better than mine and what I got wasn’t better than hers. Once we were satisfied as to the overall equity of our gifts we swapped back.

Roger worked on his steadily for a quite a while, then had to take a break to let his jaws cool off. He napped for a bit, went outside with NiceLady for a relief break, then went back to chewing.

Cochise as a Christmas giftWhen I got tired of chewing, I decided to go be a Christmas gift, now that there is room under the tree. We’ll skip that wrapping paper though, if you don’t mind!


Want to help
save lives?



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.

Cochise Wants His Treat

Telemarketer repellerCochise is a talkative fellow, he knows the routine, and is not timid about asking for things he feels he should get. On weekend evenings we all eat in the living room and watch a DVD. On Fridays is a classic Sci-Fi movie, Saturday an episode of The Waltons or The Andy Griffith Show, on Sunday it’s a NASCAR race. After dinner the dogs get a special chew treat. This evening, Cochise was especially hungry … and impatient.

This was not the first such discussion. On another occasion he was feeling entitled to a second treat and made a persuasive argument.

As you can see, he can be quite reasonable, even about a treat.

And when he gets his treat, it makes him very happy, especially when it’s one of his favorites.


Want to help
save lives?



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.

Fresh Dirt and Dogs

The Dogtor is in

The low corner of our fenced-in yard is occupied by a large oak tree. Under that tree is so shady that no grass will grow there, but it is a nice cool spot for the dogs to hang out in.

Over the past summer dirt washed down by rain and filtered out by leaves and sticks that build up along the fence has been building up into a raised pad in the lowest corner. It got to where the pad was 6 or 7 inches thick out against the fence, making the 5 foot high fence only 4½ feet tall and a possible escape route for a big determined dig. Or if not an actual escape route an opportunity to get hurt by trying.

So I dug out all the built-up dirt and hauled it off to fill in ruts and holes.

This morning Cochise discovered the refurbished area and spent most of the morning laying there. I told him, “This whole area is dirt, Chief.”

“Yeah, but this is FRESH dirt, it smells GREAT!”

Silly boy.


Want to help
save lives?



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.

A Chilly Monday Morning

Cochise tells the tale

It’s Monday. That means the weekend fun is over and a new work week has begun.

Last night HairyFace and NiceLady watched a race, as they often do on Sunday evening, we all ate in the living room and after dinner Blondie and I got special Sunday Treats. This time we got knotty bones. We LOVE knotty bones!