Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Games

When it is sub-freezing in North Texas, the dogs like to be outside just long enough to take care of business. Unfortunately, they still require an outlet for their extra energy. 

For the dachshunds, that means a couple of laps around the living room. Then it's back into hibernation mode.  They are happy to exist like this for days on end.

The big dogs are an altogether different story. They have the potential to become quite unruly inside if left to their own devices. So I invented winter games. The major goal of the winter games are to produce calmer, quieter, big dogs. These winter games have been evolving over several weeks. In the beginning the winter games consisted of me running up and down the stairs followed by the big dogs. While it did produce the results I wanted, I quickly sensed that this took way too much of my own personal energy. 

The next step in the evolution of the winter games was for me to stand at the foot of the stairs, throw kibble up the stairs, and watch the dogs run up the stairs, eat the kibble, and run back down until I threw more kibble up, over and over. This worked pretty well. It certainly took less of my energy, while the big dogs used up their energy. Then Gus figured out if he just stayed at the top of the stairs waiting for the kibble's arrival it would save his energy expenditure as well.

Winter games phase 3 moved into one of the upstairs bedrooms where there is an antique wooden bed. There is enough clearance for the pit bulls to rocket under the bed, if they are given the correct motivation. Again kibble provided the motivation. I called this game, commando-dog. It goes like this: dogs sit and watch me throw kibble under the bed, dogs dive under bed, gobble kibble, come out from under bed - repeat over and over and over. Until Gus figures out if he just stays under the bed and waits for the kibble's arrival again his energy expenditure decreases dramatically.

Phase 4 winter games is a little more structured. The rules are a little bit tighter. For this game both dogs are required to "sit and wait". The "wait" is crucial to the game - I think it helps Gus see that the game has a beginning and an end. This game begins in the hallway outside the second upstairs bedroom. There is an ottoman placed inside the doorway the dogs will have to jump over before they reach the kibble reward. Both dogs are required to sit, then "wait". Gus already knew my word "wait" and my hand signal. Gracie caught on real quick by watching Gus. Here they are "waiting".

I then step over the ottoman, toss out 8-10 pieces of kibble, wait however long I feel like waiting, then give the "go" signal, along with saying the word "go". They zoom over the ottoman, collect their kibble reward and we do it again. Here they are collecting kibble.

It looks like this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I lost a friend today

I will miss you Ted Ted The Fuzzy Head.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Senior Weiner, Foster Failure

Let me introduce Joey, the senior prairie dog. Joey came to us straight from Harris County Animal Control death row. He was an unclaimed stray,  pulled at the last minute by *Dachshund Rescue of Houston . Joey was a stinky, skinny, heartworm positive, older, unneutered, dental mess of a dog. He was not cute, not cuddley, not much going for him - fortunately for him DROH is in the business of looking  past all the mess to rehabilitate and rehome dachshunds. They take the easy, as well as the hard, and even the impossible cases and do wonderful things. Joey was not supposed to stay with us permanently. He was a foster. He was supposed to move on to a new forever home. But he stayed. We call that "foster failure".

Joey just chillin'

Joey hanging out in Houston

Joey makes himself comfortable most anywhere.

*DROH is a wonderful organization that I had the priveledge of fostering with for several years when we lived in Houston, TX. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Her Story

All dogs have a story. Some are happy, some are sad, and some are quite tragic. This is HER story. At least as much of HER story as we know. SHE was found as a stray, by a nice lady with kids. The nice lady invited HER off the streets into the nice lady's car. SHE accepted. SHE went home with the nice lady and the kids. The nice lady gave HER food and water, taught HER to play fetch with a tennis ball, and let HER play with the kids. The nice lady might have even given HER a name, I don't know. The nice lady thought SHE was a chocolate Labrador retriever. The nice lady thought that for 3 days, while SHE played with the nice lady's kids, rode in the nice lady's car, was given affection, food, and a place to live. After 3 days, someone told the nice lady that SHE was indeed NOT a chocolate Labrador retriever, but rather an evil pit bull. The nice lady panicked. SHE ended up at the Justin Animal Shelter February 12, 2008.   SHE was a sweetheart with lots of energy. We named her Candy.

After some time had passed, with no one contacting us about a lost red nose pit bull, we took Candy to the vet for vaccinations and a spay. We hoped she would be able to find a new home. Our vet said she had a spay scar, and a surgery scar on her hind leg. Maybe she had broken her leg sometime in the past and the leg had been set and secured with a pin. So, someone, somewhere, sometime had taken responsibility for this dog and given her veterinary care, possibly expensive veterinary care. 

Candy remained at the shelter until October 10, 2008 - 8 long months. Lots of other dogs came and went, but no one came for Candy. In October, the shelter was at dog capacity - every run occupied. So, we had to make the euth list. Candy was at the top of that list. Candy was lucky, Candy had an advocate - me. Wait a few days, let me try to arrange my life so that I can take that dog home with me. Let me give her a chance. They did wait, I did arrange, my husband did agree. Candy found her forever home. Now her name is Gracie.

There were adjustments that had to be made. New routines had to be established. But for the most part the household has settled into a comfortable fit between and among the 6 dogs and 2 humans. 

Here is Gracie with her partner in crime, Gus. Two fun and happy dogs - two very lucky dogs.

Today the shelter is at dog capacity again. We are making the euth list. There are 2 pit bulls who will probably be at the top of that list, Megan and Azlow. Great dogs, who are at a disadvantage mainly because of the shape of their heads, and the way they are built.  

Pit Bulls are Silly

Pit bulls can be silly all on their own.

Yes, we are in the bathtub eating soap. You got a problem with that??

What are we doing? Nothing, of course!!

What do you mean my face will freeze this way??

And sometimes they have help

Gus in his Doggles. Yes I bought dog-goggles (doggles).

Gus as the Easter Bunny

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My First Post

I can not believe I have created a blog. I who do not even have a debit card, or use the self-checkout at Kroger or Walmart (or anywhere else for that matter). Come to think of it, I don't have an i-phone or a picture phone, or much else that is cool or cutting edge. I didn't even have text messaging on my cell phone until last week. Actually I didn't even create this blog - Chris did. But I do have dogs. 5 + 1 foster = 6. Everyone is a rescue. This is Gus. He started as a temporary and morphed into a permanent. Gus has been to some obedience classes. He has his CGC, although sometimes his good citizenship is questionable. Gus begins agility class in a week. This picture was taken after he had apparently eaten Santa.