Breaking Brotherly Bonds

Rocky and Blaze, bonded brothers

Blaze and Rocky are bonded siblings: two of 6 puppies that were surrendered with their mother to Animal Control.  The others were all taken away as they were adopted, leaving just these two, clinging to each other for moral support in a scary environment.

When I pulled them from Newport Animal Control, Blaze (the bigger one) tended to cower behind his brother, who would bark fiercely at anyone who stopped at their kennel door.  They were so unruly they had to be carried out to my truck because they would NOT walk on a leash.

Since coming to Piney Mountain Foster they have remained quite close, but not so fearful.  They’d still sleep in a pile, and they love to play together in our big yard.  But Rocky has been nowhere near as protective, and Blaze has started to develop a will of his own.

For example, The wind brought down a good sized Y shaped stick from one of the trees.  Blaze found it and declared it his most favorite thing in the world.  He’d run around waving it, and lie in the grass gently chewing on it.  Rocky came over and grabbed hold of it, intending to take it away.  Blaze was having none of that!  They growled at each other threateningly and had a tug-of-war.  Blaze is a quiet fellow, Rocky tends to yap.  So Blaze waited until Rocky yapped at his brother to demand the stick and Blaze jerked it from Rocky’s mouth and ran off with it.  I’m sure he was laughing!  He’s quiet, but he’s not dumb.

Lennon Gets an Upgrade

Lennon has been spending the nights in a transport box in the Bunkhouse.  It’s warm in there and quiet, and has fewer distractions than sleeping in the people house.  It’s a good place for doggos to start sleeping indoors.

But when Lucy left, it meant that Lennon would be all alone.  So I brought his crate to the house.  I left him in his transport box to provide some continuity in the change.  The people house can be exciting, and confusing.  Having “his room” would help him transition. Besides, the transport boxes are sturdy: offering effective containment.  They are more closed in, offering a sense of security to their occupant.  And any “accidents” are better contained than with a wire crate where a male dog can lift a leg and pee right through the crate onto the floor outside.

Lennon has settled in well and been a good house guest, so today I traded his transport box in on a regular wire crate.  These offer better visibility, better air flow, more interaction with other dogs.  He seems to enjoy it.  But that’s not the only upgrade Lennon got this week.

I was going through communications between our vet and Dr. Crouch as they discussed Lennon’s hip injury and I saw that Dr. Crouch said, “If the dog is very lame, he would be a candidate for FHO (femoral reconstruction)”  And it occurred to me that I would NOT count Lennon as being lame, much less very lame:

There was a time when Lennon would run for a couple of minutes, then slow to a walk and limp just a little as he walked.  But no more.  And I have been giving him a daily Glucosamine Chondroitan / MSM / Turmeric supplement that is supposed to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and promote healing.  I wondered if it was necessary to put Lennon through surgery and rehabilitation.  I wondered if he even QUALIFIED for the surgery anymore.  So I asked Dr. Crouch for his opinion and showed him the video above.

His response was that Lennon was not a candidate for hip reconstruction at this time.  He’d be happy to help if Lennon needed it in the future, but now, he’s looking GREAT!

So it looks like Lennon has been upgraded in this area as well.  We (Steele Away Home) do want to get another x-ray done to see if some healing has occurred.  If so, keeping him on this supplement may be his long-term answer.  If so: he’s ready to seek a forever home.  As long as he’s here I’ll continue working at house breaking him, but other than that he’s good to go.

Yay Lennon!

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Selma and Rebel Get 1st Play Time Together

Her new friend, Rebel, helping her settle in.

Since the moment Selma arrived here, Rebel has been enamored with her.  He sits by her crate to comfort her, he sleeps as close to her as he can get at night.  They chat and tease each other when in their kennels outside.  They REALLY want to play together.

But both are high energy dogs.  Sometimes Rebel doesn’t realize his own strength, so I supervise closely when he plays with the beagles, and then, only indoors.  Can Selma handle him?  There’s only one way to find out.  I put Rebel on a safety tether and let the two of them interact for a bit before I made my decision…

Back to Selma’s Summary Page
Back to Rebel’s Summary Page

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Where Rebel Sleeps

When Rebel arrived here, he stayed in Kennel #1 and had Hudson and Sable as neighbors to keep him company.  That was okay with him as he is accustomed to being an outside dog.  Being a Husky, he LIKES cool, even cold, weather and being in the house makes him uncomfortably warm — according to his former Mom.

But he was exceedingly thin: 45 pounds where he should be around 70 pounds.  As the weather got cold I was not comfortable leaving him outside.  He has a plush coat of Husky fur but absolutely NO fat in his skin.  Plus he is weakened by his starved condition making him more susceptible to infection.  So I started bringing him inside the house at night and in bad weather.

The other two are being crated indoors at night because they don’t like the cold.  Hudson is a lanky hound with short fur that offers little insulation, and he refuses to use the dog house I provide him.  Even when we got a bigger one, he will not go into it.  Sable is a blonde German Shepherd mix and has thick fur, but she’s accustomed to being indoors and does NOT like being out in the cold and will tell me about it.  All night long if necessary.  So they both get crated in another building that is kept heated, but minimally so (50°), to reduce temperature shock when they go back outside in the day.

Rebel can’t be crated in there because his potty habits demand that he go outside every 2 to 3 hours.  Or, so he says.  So I crated him in the den of our house, where I could hear when he needs to go out and accommodate him.  I opened a window a crack and closed the door to let him have a cooler environment than the rest of us.  He liked that for a couple of nights, then decided he was lonely.  Rebel can be quite vocal when he wants something.  He’s a Husky, they do that.

In the past, when we had a needy dog I’d sleep on the floor next to their crate in the den.    But that tends to seriously mess up my back and hips: I’m getting to old to “camp”.  So I moved his crate into the living room where I could sleep on the sofa near him.  That worked for a couple of nights, then he started getting antsy and wanting out of the crate every hour and a half.

I did try crating him in he bedroom with the rest of us, but the largest crate that fits in there is too small for him and he spent the whole night kicking and thrashing about because he could not stretch out.  That plan was quickly abandoned.  Back to the living room.

I don’t trust him to be left loose to wander, but crating him doesn’t really work either, so I tied our longest leash to the foot of the sofa and made that up for sleeping.  I put a blanket down for cush, but he pushes that out of the way, preferring the coolness of the floor.

He tucks in right next to the sofa to sleep.  Before he lays down he sits beside me and rests his head on my shoulder and chest for some pets.  When he’s satisfied he settles in and sleeps until the need to go out wakes him.  I am NOT opening a window while I am sleeping in the same room, but the heat is turned down to a minimal setting (62°).  Any colder than that is too cold for me to be able to sleep, especially on the sofa.  In bed with a quilt and blankets maybe, not on the sofa with a throw.

Rebel gets me up every two to three hours to let him out.  He wanders the play yard freshening his markings for about 10 minutes then comes back inside.  We repeat the settling in routine, then get a little more sleep.

The first night all the other dogs came and slept on beds and in crates (open doors) with us.  Since then, they have returned to the cushy comfort of the bedroom dogs beds — and avoiding the frequent fuss and bother of night time potty runs.  Josephine generally joins Rebel on his @ 2:00 AM run, but the rest stay hunkered into their snuggle beds all night.

Right now Rebel is eating a TON of food to get his weight up.  Hopefully as we taper that off his need to go out so frequently will taper off as well.  Once he learns his house manners, he can sleep in the bedroom with the rest of us and we’ll both abandon the living room.

Go to Rebel’s Summary Page

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Rebel’s Food Rebellion

Rebel is a Husky.  Huskies are opinionated about things.  Apparently they are highly opinionated about their food too.  Unlike most dogs, Huskies won’t wolf down anything you set in front of them.  Oh, no … Huskies like things the way they like them.  Linda Daniels is no stranger to picky eaters, she has a couple as live-ins as well as some in her list of former foster dogs.  She’s been helping me solve Rebel’s aversion to eating.  A few of the things she’s turned up about Husky dining habits are:

  • Huskies don’t like combined foods.  They’re kind of like those people who have to use segmented plates to keep their foods from touching or they can’t eat it,  We found that Rebel likes shredded, boiled chicken breast.  So I tried to ease him into eating the gastroenteric dog food his vet wanted him to be eating by mixing it into his chicken — a little of it each time.  That didn’t fly: he insisted that there be NO “pollutants” in his chicken.
  • Huskies prefer a varied diet.  Most dogs are perfectly happy eating the same food day after day.  Not Huskies.  And Rebel falls in line with this.  I got my hopes up a couple of times when he accepted a little of some food or other.  But the next time I offered him that food, he said, “I had that before.  Want something new.”  Except for the chicken, he has eaten several meals of that, but not consecutively.
  • Huskies can, however, be persuaded through peer pressure…

Rebel’s former mom said that he was eating normally until about three weeks ago.  Since then he eats very little and has lost a lot of weight.  He currently weighs 45.5 pounds and should weigh in around 70 pounds.  Under his thick fur, he’s just bones.

His reaction to almost everything I’ve tried to feed him. (video)

When I was unsuccessful in his first few days here to tempt him to eat  — and I tried a wide variety of kibble, canned dog food, and people foods — I took him to Cedarwood Veterinary Hospital to see if there was a physical reason for is starvation diet.  They ran a G.I.Series with barium.  This eliminated suspicions such as megaesophagus, and bowel blockage.  They sent me home with some special dog food to soothe his gut.  He ate a little, then refused any more..

Yesterday was a good day: Marie got him to eat a some Critical Nutrition dog food, and Josie helped me get him to eat about two cups of Salmon and Potato kibble over the course of the afternoon.

Today, he’s back to refusing most everything.  He ate about 1/2 cup of chicken breast this morning, left the rest of it in his dish, and has refused everything else I’ve offered him.  So the struggle continues …

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Sable and Night Barking

Last night Sable started in on a monotone, metered barking that went on, and on, and on. Around 9:30 we decided she was not going to settle down and I went over to the bunkhouse and set up the BIG crate for her.

When I let her out of her kennel, she raced out the door before I could put a leash on her. But she went only so far as the nearest good patch of grass, squatted, and peed about a gallon. When done she came back to me, started bouncing playfully and rubbed on my legs, obviously appreciative of my concession to her needs. She is housebroken and did NOT want to pee in her “house”.

I felt so bad for leaving her so long!

Since I already had a crate set up I decided to go ahead and take her inside.  She was a bit confused as we went out the gate (toward the truck), up the steps, and along the porch. When we got to the door she perked up. She peeked inside, ‘’Oh, it’s a house! It has weird furniture, but it’s a house!”

I took her to her crate and she scooted right inside. I gave her a cookie and bade her good night.

This morning, when I went to bring her back outside, she was still in her crate, the bedding was intact and dry, and she calmly let me clip on a leash and walked back to the play yard to relieve herself again.

She’s not giving me any trouble at all! I just don’t see the aggression she displayed at N.A.C. I suspect she will settle down quickly now that she’s here at Piney Mountain. That is often the case.

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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.

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Progress Notes: Oct 7, 2018

We’ve taken in two new pack members this week, and are planning another facilities upgrade.

Low Rider

Seriously? Don’t you have a harness that fits?

I picked up Low Rider on Tuesday.  She went straight into a crate in the bunkhouse for several reasons.

  • She was infested with fleas.  We work hard to keep fleas out of our facility, so that has to be dealt with before she can come anywhere near our other dogs.
  • She is fearful.  She’s obviously been abused and is frightened of new people, insects, falling leaves, and the outdoors in general.  But not dogs: she ran right up to Ugg and Lady and said howdy to each.  She’s only comfortable in a crate and prefers a quiet environment to herself.  The bunkhouse is perfect now that it’s not so hot every day.  I can run my big turbo fan in front of a window and keep it tolerable in there.
  • She would not walk on a leash.  If used with a collar, she’d drop and gator-roll trying to get away from it.  A harness works better, but it has to be removed when she goes back into her crate or she’ll chew it up.  We lost a $30 Walk-Rite harness learning that lesson.  The next smallest harness I had was a poor fit, but it served the purpose while I ordered more harnesses.

Progress Notes: Oct 1, 2018

When Blue left on transport, Ugg was so lonely!  The poor thing!

But we got him a new neighbor, Lady, and he’s much happier now.  Neither of them has been “fixed” yet so I am hesitant to let them play in the yard together.  But having a neighbor again makes him happy.

Ugg has come a long way on his behavior recently.  He has a strong desire to please me, so that makes it easy to train him.  I only have to be clear on what I expect of him and he complies.  He now understands that it is not okay to stand up, put his paws on my chest and butt me in the face with his nose.  He also understands that mouthing my hands or arms are not good things either.

Once in a while, when particularly excited to be let out of his kennel, he will forget and try to grab my arm, but a stern, “No” reminds him.  All my bruises have healed up now!

He no longer “attacks” me with affection when I let him out of his kennel.  The No Nip Trick worked well to focus his attention elsewhere, so now he knows that when first released he should run out into the yard to sniff, pee and poop as needed.  Then, when calmed down, he comes back and we do some calm, affection.

Ugg no longer sees his kennel as “confinement”, but as his “room”.  He has not bent anything trying to force the door in quite a while.  I still use the chain reinforcement at night and when I leave the property, but just the double latches during the day when I’m here.

When Ugg is in play time, he sometimes tells me that he’s done playing by going into his room, sitting on his bed, and looking at me to say, “I’m done playing now, bring me my cookie.”  If I hand him the cookie, he often envelops my whole hand with his big mouth, but he’s really gentle about it.  I think he’s kidding around.

If I tire before he does and give him the “In your room” command, most of the time he will comply right away.  Sometimes he stands and looks at me with a, “I’m not done yet” look.  Once in a while he has not moved his bowels yet and will ignore me until he does that, then gallops over to go in his room.  Other times, he is just being obstinate and will go back to sniffing or walking around.  if I say, “Ugg, you’re being a bad boy” he walks to his room, “Oh, okay.”  He’s not happy, but he complies.

One of his new tricks is to come over and sit on my feet with his back to me, them sit up tall and lean back against my legs.  I hold onto him and scratch his chest, he licks my arm.  This is our compromise to his jumping on me and mouthing my arms.  He wants affection and close contact, this is a more appropriate way of getting it.  And he worked this out on his own!

Ugg has become fastidious about not pooping in his kennel.  This has happened only once in the past couple of weeks, and that was my fault, not his.  It was raining hard and I didn’t let him out on time.  A fella can hold it only so long.  If I’m running late, he will fuss and bark to remind me that he has needs too.  He should be easy to house break, he’s already mostly there.

He still gets upset when I leave the property, but has not chewed up anything, nor damaged his kennel (lately).  I think he’s getting used to the idea that I DO come back if I go away.

An adoptive home for him will need a friend for him if he is to be left alone sometimes.  And I’d recommend a sturdy crate if he’s to be kept indoors, or a strong kennel if kept out doors while the family is away.  As he learns to trust, the separation anxiety will go away and he’ll be less likely to chew up things in frustration.  He’s really calm and docile when crated, as long as he is released often enough to see to his bodily needs.

He walks well on a leash using a front-clip harness.

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Moonie’s Toy Migration

We keep a basket of dog toys on the hearth in the living room. All the house dogs are welcome to select from the assortment when they want something to play with. It is not uncommon for a new dog to systematically empty the basket by taking a toy, chewing on it for a while, then going back to select another. Usually they keep the toys in the living room.

Moonshine, however, likes to play with toys in the bedroom. So she will select a toy, sneak to the bedroom with it to play for a few minutes, then go visit the basket again. She leaves all the “used” toys scattered around the bedroom.

The funny part is that we have yet to catch her in the act of transporting the toys from one location to another. She’s a bit high-strung and has a habit of pacing the house, so traversing the hallway over and over is not unusual for her.

Somehow she manages to relocate most of the toys before we discover what she’s up to. And we’ve learned not to walk through the bedroom in the dark. Fortunately she has not done this once we all go to bed at night. That would be awkward. She’s a funny girl, our Moonie is!

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