Cochise tells the tale

My posse and I welcomed a new foster dog Thursday, Nov. 3rd: Fido Steele.

FidoHe’s got the feet of an Australian Shepherd, the head of a Terrier, the body of a hound and the curly tail of a husky (except with short fur), the voice of a Beagle, the mannerisms of a greyhound, and the temperament of a sweet dog. He’s an active fellow. And conversational. We had a pretty rough night the first night trying to get him to HUSH! But that’s not unusual for a new dog: this is all new and different to him. He was doing much better by the morning of the second day than he had the previous afternoon.

At this point we know nothing about his history except that he was in the care of another foster family who do not have the room he needs to run. They thought he’d do better here.

For some reason, the Peoples always think that as soon as they let a dog who has been confined for too long loose into the big play yard, they will go nuts and run and jump in jubilation. They almost never do. Fido was no different. His first session in the yard was spent (as is usual) entirely on wandering around sniffing everything. And with four other dogs in residence, there is plenty to sniff! Then came introductions.


Later in the day, he took advantage of all that space to get in some active play.


Since we know nothing about his history and training, we have to go into this assuming he knows nothing and start training from scratch. As he passes the tests he will progress through the program, gaining privileges as fast as he can earn them.

During the day Fido is bunking in the pen Millie used to use. And he is not fond of being confined, even in a 10′ x 10′ space with a roof over it, pea gravel floor, dog house, a Cooleroo raised dog bed, plenty of fresh water, and an assortment of chew bones and rope toys to amuse himself with between yard sessions.

When he was still barking at 9:00 PM, the Peoples decided to try crating him in the house. Maybe he’s accustomed to being closer to Peoples. It took a while, but they got him settled and everyone went to sleep.

After about an hour, Blondie heard something in the woods and went “On Alert”. Well, naturally, that got all of us revved up and barking: including Fido. He wanted to be outside on patrol and was not settling down. It took NiceLady going out to lay on the sofa next to his crate and hum to him to get him to go back to sleep. Then he slept through the night and all was well.

In the morning he went out for a run in the yard then back into his pen and was hardly barking at all, even though the rest of us had been out in the yard at least once since he went out there for breakfast. That day he got three solo play yard sessions and behaved well every time. He went back into the pen for a cookie each time and the only time he got nutso is when HairyFace leaves him to go back inside.

The second night the Peoples moved his crate in next to the bed: on NiceLady’s side so she could calm him. That worked like a charm and we all enjoyed a restful night. Even when Hairy got up at 4:00 to study and let Tinker and me outside — and even though we barked a little bit and Hairy had to call us back inside — Fido snoozed on.

He’ll be okay: it just takes time to get used to yet another new place. Right now Tinker is taking lead on explaining things to him. Tinker would like a job on staff here as a mentor. He’s trying to show the Peoples that he has those skills.

November 7, 2016

This past weekend the Peoples did something strange. They call it DST and messed up all their time-things so that all dogs everywhere (except Arizona and Hawaii, apparently) are deprived of their meals for an extra hour. That is SO unfair. What did we do to deserve that? My Peoples say it’s not their idea: the government makes them do it. Peoples don’t like it either. So I say if everyone hates it … just don’t do it. They’re not the boss of you.

Oh … they ARE the boss of you? I’m sorry, I thought I read that this was a government OF the People, FOR the People, and BY the People. I guess I was wrong.

Well anyway Fido was especially unhappy about having to wait so long for breakfast and was being vocal about it. It does take a little time to learn why you cannot eat right now when your kibbles are sitting RIGHT THERE on the counter. He said, “Just give them to me!”

The rest of us understand that we have to wait for the Peoples to finish cooking their food (which sometimes takes forever) so we can all eat at the same time. NiceLady finally relented and gave him his bowl. That made him happy: he ate his breakfast and laid down in his crate.

Normally, when that is done, that dog will get fussy again when everyone else gets their dishes and is eating and he is not eating. But not Fido! Surprisingly he sat and watched and was good about it. He did whine, very softly and just a little, but did not bark, or howl, or kick his dish around the crate in protest.

Tinker left a bit of his breakfast; he almost always does, so HairyFace gave that to Fido as a reward for being so good.

After breakfast we all went outside. We do that in stages. Usually Blondie, Tinker and I (a.k.a The Big Dogs) go out together and come back together. We all get along great. Then Millie or Fido goes out alone, then the other goes out alone. Millie can go out with Blondie because they have an understanding. And because Blondie likes to be on hand in case the foster dog goes berserk and Hairy needs saving. Hey … it could happen.

This morning she also insisted on going out with Fido and Hairy.

Yesterday Hairy had Fido on a leash while Blondie was out with them. Blondie began zipping around through the garden boxes in what we call her Maze Game, and inviting Fido to come play the game too. Fido wanted to, but Hairy did not release Fido to go play so Blondie came out in the open to Fido and they played a little bit. As much as Fido could while on a leash. He wanted to run and would try to bolt off so Blondie would chase him. They seemed to get along fine and Hairy made note to let them try a play time together.

fido-blondie-playing-161107aHe did that this morning, because he had promised and because Blondie insisted. They did well: no hostility, no pressing too hard. So no red flags were thrown and they had fun until it was time for Fido to go to his pen so Hairy could get on with the rest of the morning’s chores. Hairy did promise them both a longer play time later.

Of course, with this Daylight Screwy Time (DST) thing going on, “later” means more later than it normally would … but it is what it is, so they’ll just have to be patient.

November 18, 2016

Fido is an active dog: slender and wiry, he bounds around and loves to run, wrestle, and engage in rowdy play. He is not mean. There is no aggression in his play, but he does have trouble knowing when to take a break. Not all dogs (few of us us, really) like to play full-bore, non-stop, for long periods.

Because of his persistence, yard play with Blondie has to be supervised by a Peoples who will step in now and again and force a break. HairyFace or NiceLady also have to watch for signs in Blondie that she’s had enough, and provide an escape route so she can go back inside. I like to run, but I don’t like the mouth-wrestling, so I don’t play with Fido much. Tinker avoids him too.

Tinker was into rowdy play with Millie before she had her heartworm treatments. Once she had to be calm, Tinker took that separation personally and has avoided rowdy play with any of us since. He seems to think their play caused her to be punished, and he felt bad about that.

Fido and Jasmine play well together, for Jasmine is also a rowdy player. She too loves to sprint, and wrestle, and play-fight. And because both are perfectly healthy, neither poses a risk to the other.

At first, the Peoples limited their play time to 20 to 30 minutes, then sent them back to their rooms for a rest period. They got separate play periods too. Sometimes with one of us, sometimes just with a Peoples. They call the Peoples time “training”.

They noticed that both Fido and Jasmine would play hard and heavy, full time, and not want to stop when it was time to stop. This seemed over-the-top to them and wondered how to get them to calm down a bit: take a break now and then without the Peoples having to step in and separate them.

A couple of days ago, Hairy tried letting the two of them play unimpeded for most of the morning. He was with them, flinging dirt in the yard, and he monitored them but stayed out of their play as long as it was civil.

Once in a while one or the other would break off and come check on him and what he was doing, but for the most part, they played hard and constantly. When he was finished with his chore and had put away his tools, he went to sit in a chair on our North Watch Tower and watch them play. They were getting tired: their engagements were less active, shorter, with longer breaks between. In time they both flopped over in the grass and just quit. The head, neck, and shoulders of both dogs were saturated in dog-spit.

Hairy escorted them back to their rooms. Fido’s room is inside the house. He walked willingly into his private space, got his cookie-reward for doing so, flopped over on his side, and was sound asleep in moments. Jasmine was a little more resistant, but she two retired and zonked out. That was enough play for that day.

The next time, when Hairy let Jasmine out, Fido was circling in front of her door, eager to play. Jasmine raced out, Fido chased her, and the game was on. They played hard and fast … for about ten minutes. Then they began breaking off and wandering around: sometimes together, sometimes separately. After a while one would initiate play again and they’d have another short go at rowdiness.

Hairy took care of a poop pick-up and did some small chores in the yard, then settled into a chair to enjoy the pleasant weather and watch his charges play. They would circle by for lovies now and then. Hairy couldn’t help notice how much more “normal” their play was. He counted this as a good thing.

Later that day Jasmine and Fido each got a turn to be in the play yard with each of us big dogs. That too went very well. They’d approach us and if we accepted their invitation, we’d play a bit. If we said, “not now” or “that’s enough” they’d wander off and came back later with another invitation. Wonderful!

When Fido came inside and was given a play-time indoors, he avoiding the bounding, dashing, jumping on other dogs, play that results in us being sequestered in a back room so he can play without causing an argument. He played hoofie hockey, he played ball, but he also just walked around sniffing, seeking out dropped crumbs, and even laying on a dog bed chewing a bone.

We all hope this improvement in social skills will last. Being able to accommodate the wishes of other, less intense, dogs will go a long way toward making him adoptable. Being able to control the “bounding like a gazelle” stuff indoors will make him welcome in many more homes. If he continues this, he will begin getting more indoor free-ranging time because he will behave.

Good job Fido, good job!

Boarding the Bus

FidoFido departed on the Rolling Rescue run of December 2nd, 2016 heading for New Jersey.

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