Marie and I are highly involved in the care and rehabilitation of rescue dogs. We foster for local animal shelters and rescues.
Cochise was our very first foster dog. We fell in love with him (who could say ‘no’ to that face?), and could not let him go. The Shelter calls this “foster failure”. It is failure because while it is a win for the dog (who gets a home), and a win for us personally (who get a great dog) it does diminish our foster care capacity by one, thus making us that much less useful or effective to the shelter and their foster care program. Although, in Cochise’s case, he more than makes up for that reduction by being a superb mentor and interpreter to the foster dogs.
One of the things that caused us to fall in love with Cochise is that he is a talking dog. Yes, that’s right; a talking dog. He does not speak English (French nor Spanish either, for that matter), but he is quite clear in expressing himself, and once we learned to listen to him, we communicate with each other quite well. We do not speak his language — when we try he does that head tilt thing then glares at us — but we don’t need to: he has learned enough of our words that he understands us well. In fact sometimes I think he can read my mind because I don’t need to even SAY the word “bath” and he’s trying to disappear somewhere.
After seeing Marie off to work I left Blondie Bear and Cochise on guard at the house while I went to spend some time with Babes and Smokey, our foster dogs. After that I went to do the daily gardening chores. There wasn’t much of that to do and it didn’t take long. When I was done with that I considered getting back to work on our deck/boardwalk project. This is a large project I’ve been working on for months, but had to interrupt to build a couple of items that were ordered.
It was a nice cool morning. I scanned the skies: partly cloudy, they were fluffy and white, not gray and ominous, and there was enough blue showing through to be encouraging. It should be a good day to work outside; at least for a while.
But Blondie and Cochise both were insistent that it was going to rain and they wanted to go inside NOW. The weatherguessers said rain was possible later in the day: I should have at least 5 hours to work before that. But they are often wrong, the dogs are generally right. The workshop is a good 200 feet away from where I would be working. Do I dare drag tools and lumber over from the shop to work out in the open? MMMmmmmm … I don’t think so.
When we treat our furkid companions as family members instead of livestock it’s easy to spoil them with dog treats and toys. Sometimes they can become so accustomed to getting treats that they become demanding. This can be a disruption to training and an aggravation in your home-life. Usually it’s more of a hopeful anticipation – which is not an undesired behavior.
Dog Treats and Proper Diet
The impact of dog treats on a dog’s diet is similar to handing out sweets to a child: if done indiscriminately it can have a seriously adverse effect on their health and well-being. Choose wisely when selecting treats.
HairyFace made a trash run today, so Blondie and I got to go along. I rode shotgun (of course). Hairy won’t roll the window down enough for me to stick my head out, but he turns the vents up on high so I can get a good sniff of what we’re driving through. There’s always so much to see.
Blondie rides behind the seats. She gets an open wing window on each side and she can watch out the front and back as well as the sides, so don’t go feeling sorry for her: she likes the ride too.
At the end of our nice long truck ride we will be at this place called a Convenience Center. Hairy says they call it that because it makes it easy for peoples to dispose of their trash. I don’t know why you don’t just eat it: I would.
Anyway, when we get there Hairy gets out and takes some of the trash from the back of the truck and puts in this container, and some in that container and still more of it in that thing over there. He calls it RECYCLING. I have no idea what that means, but he seems to think it’s important. He’s pretty smart, for a Peoples, so if he thinks it’s important, then I say you should think it’s important too.
There’s always lots going on here. And sometimes one of the other peoples here will come over and scratch our heads (Blondie and I, not Hairy … that would be weird) and tell us what fine looking dogs we are. That’s one of the things I like best about our Saturday morning truck rides. Another thing is that it smells so GOOD here!
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Some dogs like to play in water and even in the rain. Others do not. Blondie’s yellow Labrador side sometimes entices her to go walking in a light rain, but most of the time her Pit Bull side overrules that and she prefers to stay on the porch, in the dry, and watch from there. I am an American Bulldog. I dislike getting wet. I don’t even like getting my feet wet after a rain has stopped. But that’s partly because when I go back inside the house HairyFace will clean the mud off my feet with a towel. I don’t like that: it tickles.
I like being able to run outside anytime I need to bark at something. I like laying on the stone slabs of the porch steps in the warm sunshine. I can’t do that in the rain. Even though I have a home where I can stay dry and safe when it rains, rain keeps me from doing what I want, so I don’t like the rain.
Most any social system will have a hierarchical order to things. Even in a small social system, someone is in charge – someone is the top dog. This is true of people, it is even more so of animals.
Dolly Dawg was a free range mountain dog since before we got here in December of 2001. Someone had tried to train her as a hunting dog, failed, and disposed of her by dumping her here on Piney Mountain. After we moved into our place we spotted her sitting in a clump of boulders sixty or seventy feet up the mountain slope from our home, watching us as we worked at getting settled. But she would not approach, and would slink off into the trees if we paid much attention to her.
So we began accidentally leaving a pie plate of kibbles out by the tree line. While our backs were turned we would hear ravenous crunching. With time, kibbles, and a great deal of patience we became friends. We christened her Dolly because of her eyes, she looked all made up and ready to go out: Dolled up: Dolly. Eventually she decided that we could stay and she would look after us.
We learned that Dolly was queen of the mountain, all other free range dogs deferred to her. Some came to play with her, to hunt with her, to lounge in the sun with her. She was a beneficent monarch.
On cool days when the sun is shining, most of our dogs like to run. Our play yard is about 30 feet by 85 feet, so it makes a good space in which to run. There are also some obstacles in the way of lumber stacks that provide interest and challenge to the racing.
For as big and bulky as Blondie appears, she is quite agile and can make some amazing moves where she can dig in and get grip. She often initiates these racing sessions. She also knows that I prefer racing as a form of exercise over wrestling; wrestling often escalates into something beyond play.
Yesterday Joy O’Hare donated a narrow futon pad that she no longer wanted. She thought it might make good dog beds. I agreed, and was happy to haul it back here. I set about cutting away the excess fabric and Velcro on the back the webbing that connected the two pads but allowed them to bend and fold.
The result was two 28” x 35” x 4” thick pads with removable covers. Buster spent all afternoon enjoying the one I put down to try out. Joy was a little worried that the dogs might react to the cat fur she could not vacuum off of them. But that was of no concern to Buster.
When it was time to retire for the night, Buster was adamant that he preferred to sleep in the office on “his” new dog bed rather than in his crate. This was not an option, but it took some time to convince him of that.
This morning after The Fosters had breakfast and some yard time, Buster was again insistent on going inside and to the office. It was still a little chilly out – and Buster has been a bit jealous of the extra privileges Hercules has been getting during his final phase of house breaking – so I decided to allow it instead of insisting he go to a pen outdoors like the others.
Upon entering the office, he was horrified to find that Cochise had already claimed the new dog bed!
Having finished the weekly radio radio program I produce first thing every Monday, I took The Kids on a walk and went past the mailbox to send the program disk out to the radio station. Then we went up to the shop yard for some play time with Cheyanne and Rhonda.
Cochise refused to go through the gate: “I don’t want to get in the middle of their rough-housing.” These girls have not done any rough-housing, not like Blondie and Janet used to do or Cochise and Malachi for that matter. He’s just being bull-headed. Well; he is a bulldog. So I used the leash to tether Cochise outside the wooden gate (where he could watch, but not be involved) and he sat there, ears pinned back and his back turned to the fun, ignoring us.
Blondie and Cheyanne played together nicely. After a bit, Cochise started to whine, “I want to play too … I’m lonely out here.” So I let him in and off the leash. The three of them leisurely chased each other around for a while. Nice gentle play. Rhonda was still in her pen, watching everyone else having fun.
I’ve been working at mowing the embankment behind/beside (take your pick) the shop yard. Prior to that I let Janet (new foster dog) out to play with the others. As usual, Cochise hid inside while Blondie and Janet roughhoused. I watched for a while: they were not being too rough so I left them to play and went inside to set up race recordings for the next few weeks. I left the door open, and the hooligans raced in and out and round and round. On my wooden floors it sounded like a horse track.
Scheduling done, I brought Blondie inside the shop (she has a tendency to escape from the yard and run off if not supervised). Cochise went outside (he’s a good boy and can be trusted). I was going to put Janet back in the Guest Quarters, but decided to see what she would do if I left her with Cochise while I went to get the mower and cut the bank. “You’re in charge Cochise, take good care of her.”
They were very good together. Quite calm. They walked around and explored things – together – at one point they did a little trotting, but mostly they sat on the dock and watched me work.
I went out the wooden gate and did the edging along the upper driveway and the side yard. After I put the mower away and went back to the shop, both dogs were laying in the rocks by the pen gate watching to catch glimpses of me. Very calm and peaceful.