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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: Sept 16

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, insecure right now.
  • Gets Along with Dogs: Yes
  • Gets Along with Cats: Unknown
  • Gets Along with People: Yes
  • Gets Along with Children: Yes, was a family dog
  • Housebroken/Crate Trained: Yes
  • Departure date: Undetermined

History

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: No Yes
  • Can eat food/treats near other dogs: Yes

Dog to People Behavior

  • Is affectionate: Yes
  • Is good with:
    . Men: Yes
    . Women: Yes
    . Children: Yes
  • Jumps up on people: No
  • Mouths: No
  • Walks well on a leash: Not so much

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

Commands:

  • Comes when called: Yes
  • Sits on command: Yes
  • Down / Off: No
  • 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, ???, 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
  • NOTES:
    .  Shows signs of stress, 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.

Diet

4health Salmon and Potato recipe, 1½ cups AM, 1¼ cups PM.

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 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.

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Blondie’s Dog Cabin in the Woods

Originally published Jun 24, 2016

When Cochise first came to live with us we erected a quick sleeping shelter out of a wire fence panel, a tarp and an old barn door. It was shaped like the top of an old west covered wagon using the door as a floor and the fencing hooped over to support the tarp. Cochise quickly decided it was lots of fun to jump on top of his wickiup and flatten it out. This required that I crawl inside to push it back into shape with my neck and shoulders. It didn’t take long before we decided we’d best move on to a permanent structure.

dog cabinSo Marie and I built Cochise a sturdy wooden cabin with a shingled roof that hinges up for cleaning the interior and an entry vestibule separated from his sleeping area by a wind baffle.

That cabin served him well until he became a full-time house dog. Then it served many other foster dogs. Some of these were none too gentle on it and repairs were made over the years, but it still stands and is quite solid … and very heavy.

When To Throw the Red Flag On Dogs Play

Originally published Nov. 4th, 2016

Cochise on dogs play
Cochise tells the tale

Most dogs like to play. Most of a dogs play is a lighthearted version of real-life skills: chasing, catching, fetching and … fighting.

As long as it’s done in the name of good, harmless fun, there is no problem. But if it should slide beyond play: because one “combatant” feels he is losing and doesn’t want to, things can get bloody fast.

Breaking up a dog fight is dangerous, especially if there is only one Peoples. It is best to red flag it before play turns to fight.

Signs of Play

Sampson demonstrates the classic Play Bow

When we’re playing, the tails will be swinging happily from side to side, we may bounce side to side or enter a play bow (forelegs and chest on the ground, butt in the air), we may lunge and retreat. When happy, our eyes are open and round, ears are up, and our mouths should be open and “smiling”. We may sound like we’re about to kill each other, but as long as it’s just trash-talking we’re okay.

We may wrestle each other to the ground and pin our opponent there. We may leap around and over one another, we may body slam each other, or we may take off and run – incorporating these other moves when we get the opportunity. Biting is okay as long as it’s gentle.

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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Frozen Yogurt Dog Treats Recipe

The Dogtor is in

Originally published June 19, 2017 by Grit Magazine Online

When it’s summer time and the heat of summer is upon us once again, your fur-friends will appreciate this treat.  They don’t like the heat any more than you do, so as a special treat on those hot days, try making up a batch of these frozen yogurt dog treats.

Makes 30-40 Cubes or around 12 Dixie cups

Ingredients:

4 cups yogurt, plain
½ cup creamy peanut butter (Xylitol free of course!)
2 tablespoons honey
1 ripe banana, mashed
Pkg thin chew stick treats (optional)

Directions:

frozen yogurt dog treats
Dixie cup version

Melt the peanut butter in a microwave for about 30 seconds.

Place all of the ingredients into a blender, mixer or food processor and mix until smooth.

Pour into ice cube trays or Dixie cups – depending on size of dog(s).  Add a piece of chew stick to use as a handle.  Freeze until firm.

Pop out of the tray (you may need a table knife if using an ice cube tray) or peal the paper cup away and let your dog enjoy this frozen yogurt dog treat!


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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


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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.

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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.

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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.