Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No Puppy left behind. Trot joins Governor's race

In one week Maine will pick a new Governor, and I would like to introduce  you to an exciting new candidate.  With a platform that includes No Puppy Left Behind, Celebrate Diversity,  Affordable Pet Insurance, Scoop Your Poop, and a Bone in Every Bowl,  who wouldn't get behind the newest write in candidate--- Trot.

I have known Trot personally for several years, and worked closely with him on a Canine Musical Drill Team.  Without  a shadow of a doubt, Trot is a smart guy, and a  team player with plenty of animal magnetism. 

Thanks to my friend MaryJo McCormack for sharing her photo.

from left to right Daisy, Trot, Abby and Glory.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meggie and Sapphire are ready to move on-help them please!

Watching Meggie and Sapphire blossom here over the last several weeks has made me not regret my heart's decision to take them on as foster dogs. My head on the other hand knows I am meshugana. Me and the kids and the dogs need a break and with the kids back to school, I am stretched really thin these day. Who isn't right?

With that said, please help me find these two their forever homes. It is  kind of sad seeing them here. Both dogs are ready to move on and both dogs deserve a better life than I can give them.

Meggie is listed as reactive on her Pet finder bio, but I am on the verge of taking that down. She is more excitable I should say now, after I have gotten to know her, She is quick to size up and move on. Just about everyone who meets Meggie wants her, but can't take her for various reasons. She has a HUGE fan club, and I am her number one fan. When we were walking home from school,  the tree guy was so smitten with her, that he is contemplating risking a divorce, by bringing home a third dog.

She has a very sweet spirit and is just overall sugar and spice and everything nice.

In all my experience as a dog trainer, I have never seen a dog learn and grow so quickly as the transformation that I have seen in Sapphire.

Are you my Mother?

The day we met her at the kennel she was so freaked out, that her eyes were  wall eyed, and close  to 50 percent white. Yet and still, she crawled over to us to say hello. Sapphire is an incredibly resilient dog and will make someone an awesome family member. She is still bouncing off my back door and she can hit her hind foot close to 5 feet up. Not only is she sweet and cuddly and kissy, but she is super athletic. I mean off the hook athletic.

She would make an awesome Frisbee or sport dog.

Check out her turbo body. She will make a nice pet, and wow does she love kids.

On a beautiful fall day I spent a good amount of time just watching Meggie and Sapphire play and I have to say, in this regards, 2 is easier than one. They tire each other out. In case you don't know, adolescent dogs - - -.not so easy.

We really do need to take a foster break, so please, share my foster pups around!
They are fostered for Canine Commitment

Charlee thanks you!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

If my dogs were people

Three Woofs and a Woo, is by far my favorite dog blog. Sheena, AKA The Cookie Lady runs a Border Collie Rescue out side of Vancouver BC, and her great photos and hysterical commentary of her wonderful dogs has made my day for the last several years. It was she who inspired me to put Charlee and Finney in the now almost famous blue rubber wig after she put her Tweed in a motorcycle helmet. She has once again inspired me with a recent "If my dogs were people" post. (Good thing she is so far away. Check the dog up for adoption  on the is post that looks JUST like Charlee's mini me.)

I have been a fan of finding an animal's inner person ever since we used to do it at the barn I rode at since I was 10 years old. It all started with Bridget, one of my first regular school horses. The biggest lesson that Bridget taught me was how to use my inside leg. No inside leg and Bridget would make the tweeniest circles in the middle of the ring. School horses think that the smaller circle they make the less they have to work. Bridget was an expert at knowing who could actually ride. For those of us who could, Bridget also taught us how to jump. Too far forward were ya? Then Bridget saw to it that you sailed over the jump without her.

Bridget was a great teacher, but at the same time she was a sad, bitchy, miserable creature. She was '"witchy" when I was 10 and was an even bigger witch a good 25 years later when I was shocked to see her still making tiny circles in the middle of the riding ring with beginners who had not yet learned to use their inside leg. Poor Bridget was purchased by gentlemen with special needs who only rode her on Sundays. Don kept Bridget in the school for a break in his board, and to have her ready for him to ride on Sundays. Bridget was about 4 when I met her and she was a school horse for most of her long miserable life. When she wasn't in the ring, she was wearing a cribbing strap around her neck to keep her from sucking in air all day every day. She needed to be turned out by herself, or she would kick or bite the other horses. I always brought an extra carrot for poor Bridget.

I still remember the day we were giving human personalities to the 40 odd horses at the barn and my friend Lisa NAILED Bridget. I mean she nailed her.

If Bridget were human she would work as a  chamber maid at a low cost motel. She would wrap on your door with her raspy cigarette smoker's voice, and in her slow methodical way exclaim "housekeeping, time to make the beds." Poor Bridget would never vary from this routine and she would repeat it over and over for life. Yes Bridget was a miserable chamber maid, no doubt about it.

If my last dog Dina were human, she would have been in a healing profession, Doctor, Pediatrician, Counselor. She was super smart, loved people and Dina had an amazing ability of knowing what ailed a person. A nurse told me she sensed the change of electric current in a body. On many an occasion during the 10 years we did pet therapy Dina would lay her head where ever a person's injury was, even if it was old - with no bandage or anything. Head injuries, hip injuries, you name it, she found it. People would tear up and reach for her and say "She knows." It was awesome.

Charlee's human personality became clear to me when she was 3 years old and she had a free reading from a pet psychic at a dog event. I asked  "what the hell does Charlee want and how can I help her to be less reactive." I asked "does the dog want to come with me in the car and to work or not." The woman put on her best valley girl voice and said something like. "that sounds good , no I don't like that." For every question I asked, Charlee gave two conflicting answers. Charlee was a very conflicted dog in her younger days, but for the most  part she has grown out of it. Once  a Valley girl,  Charlee would now be the person at the beach who would blast you for coming too close to her towel, and  youngsters would know better than to play their radio near by, but at the same time. Charlee would have the oldest and dearest friends. Her close friends woud know her  for the kind soul that she was, and know that she was crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.

Charlee would run a non profit and everyone who worked under would respect her, but at the same time fear her just a little.  Charlee is a patron of the arts and dabbles in singing and stand up comedy.That girl  loves an audience.

We have jokingly called  Finney "husband dog" since he was quite young. Finn has a lot of traits that I would look for in a mate.

He is good looking!
He has a beautiful body!
He is all about family.
He is smart! (but not too smart.)
Takes his work very seriously.
Opposite of a slacker.
Finn is respectful of others.

Finn would maybe be a teacher, or computer geek.. Finn would have a pocket protector and be rather nerdy, but everyone would like him. He would be the union leader and peace keeper in his place of work. Finn is a stand up guy and he doesn't hog the bed.

He would be the annoying neighbor who lost his cool now and again and yelled at the neighborhood kids that played in front of the house.  He is a bit quirky and has  OCD, but hey, no one is perfect.  Pretty sure Finney  would keep a gun in the house for protection. Finn would be a gentleman farmer,  and be a bit anal about his garden.  Of course he is very clean and a great cook. 

Not sure if Meggie would be in high school or college. but either way, she would at the very top of her class and have a lot of friends. She would be the kind of kid who used her womanly wiles to get her way.  Meggie  would be majoring in business and no doubt - she is fast tracking her MBA. 

Sapphire is currently on the dole, but she is getting her GED. She has a bit of adversity of overcome, but now that she has a mentor that she trusts, great things are in store for her.

MBA Meggie and GED Sapphire are available for adoption through  http://caninecommitment.org/

Do tell, what would your pets be like if they were human?

Friday, October 15, 2010

What Sapphire thinks of the rain

Snapped this shot of my foster pup Sapphire just now  with my Blackberry while I was laughing, so the quality is poor, but you can get the idea.  I missed her better leaps, but took pity on her and let her back in the house. 
Sapphire can get her hind feet up to my shoulder level, which we estimate to be about 5 feet.

Future  Frisbee dog anyone? 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meggie's first pet pup therapy visit! Gooddogz Good Company

 One of my long term goals is to start a pet therapy group modeled after the defunct Boston area Helping Hounds. I was a member of The Helping Hounds for 10 years with my  dogs Dina, Rollo and Charlee. My dogs were favorites at Boston Children's Hospital, Spaulding Rehab, and local nursing homes, and I loved each and every visit.

Mothering 3 young kids put my plans  on hold until... now!

I haz the cute!

Charlee and I did our first official pet visitation last month to an assisted living facility. Some of you may remember that was the day we added cute and adorable Cotton, our 3 month old rabbit to the family.. You cannot help but smile when you look at Cotton with her one ear up, one ear down. I am told that she may stay like that. Here's hoping.

When I was visited  last month, I mentioned that I had an adorable foster pup dog at home. And so it was that Meggie went on her very first pet therapy visit by request.

Meggie is an excellent planter of  kisses

I am often asked what it takes for a dog to be a therapy dog . Well training of course and there are agencies like Therapy dog Inc and Therapy Dog International as well as Delta Society  who will certify and insure your dog if they pass their tests. There are also many places usually nursing home that are often very close to your home, that will welcome your well behaved dog. Some require a Canine Good  Citizen Certificate from the AKC. 
Not sure if your dog is welcome at a facility near you? Call and find out what is required.  

There is a lot a dog needs to learn to be a therapy dog. To be clear, I am not advising that any one bring any dog anywhere with out any thought or training. Common sense must prevail and  at minimum dogs cannot be fearful or  aggressive. They must not  jump up, know basic commands, and be proofed for the unexpected, like dropped trays and people grabbing at them. They MUST really like people.

To my surprise, Meggie was grabbed and held by her snout by several people.. She was a bit surprised, but tolerated it well, and of course I came to her rescue immediately. To be clear, Meggie  is not a therapy dog at this time. She would need lots more training. Today Meggie was a visiting puppy and I micro managed her.

After our visit, she worked on chill while residents made their way to the dining room. She did excellent with walkers, wheelchairs and a variety of adoring new fans.

Meggie LOVES LOVES LOVES people and she may be a candidate for therapy dog. Time as well as her person will tell.

Meggie is a FABULOUS dog with an ever widening fan club. I am certain her family is just around the corner.
To view Meggie's Petfinder bio, please click here.

If you would like to join our pet therapy group, please let me know. Well behaved dogs welcome! Pet Therapy is an excellent venue for continuing canine education.  If you know a venue in need of pet visitations, please let me know.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mrs Potatohead hits the trails with 4, yes 4

Armed with 4 cheese sticks and a pocket full of kibble I braved the woods with my 4 charges this morning. On picture perfect fall days like this, what I really want to do is gallop on horseback at breakneck speed. Given that I haven't been on a horse in about 16 years, watching dogs run flat out and enjoy being dogs is the next best thing. I do have plans to get back in the saddle in the not too distant future. For many years I lived and breathed horses, but giving birth to a kid with special health needs really changed everything. It is true that adults cannot clear their minds, and after my son was born, all I could think about when I rode horses  was how selfish I was, and what would happen to him if anything happened to me. I would not say that I was afraid so much as I had clearly lost my edge.  I am ready to get some on my selfish self back.

Meanwhile, back in the woods.

A long way from the overcrowed shelter in Mississippi!!!

Great walk this morning with all 4 dogs behaving beautifully and staying close with excellent recall. Sapphire dragged a leash just in case, and  she was the best of the 4. Of course that could change as she becomes more confident and we start to see her true self, but the dog has spent her whole in a shelter and and keen to be with me. Look for a blog post soon on "Choose to hike." Basically I apply Dawn Jeks Choose to Heel principle to everyday, all of the time, and start just as soon as the new fosters arrive. Meggie and Sapphire have spent a lot of time following me around my yard and being rewarded for it.

You know you want to adopt me!

Our walk was not totally relaxing for me at least as I was in what I tell my students "Mrs Potatohead mode," and at all times was on the look out for any other dogs, vermin, or people, but we only saw one lone gentlemen who we met on the way into the woods.

Galloping dogs, It's a good thing.

12 year old tumor ridden Charlee out ran them all!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Howling Rain

It is howling rain here today.  A lot of my friends asked the question on various social media "what are you doing with your dogs in the rain?"

In our house howling rain deserves some howling.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meet Sapphire, Meggie's workout buddy

In testing the principle are two dogs really easier than one, I agreed to take on a second foster. Well that is not totally honest. I agreed to take our latest charge, who my youngest has named Sapphire, after a plea from my good friend Victoria.  It's Victoria  who we can blame for all our recent fosters. Some of the talking points included, "she has no chance in the South, Life behind bars, she will be passed over for life, they really like her and we all want to give her a chance."

All right, enough already. Yes!

BUT I was thinking that having two young dogs would allow for them to run each other out. Last weekend, Meggie fell thougt the cracks of life. We went to the fair one day and it was quite rainy the next and on the end of the second day I ran to my car. When I came back, my sweet young pup joyfully jumped at my face and gave me two black eyes. I have since stepped up her exercise and training, but it is not the same as aerobic run run run with another young dog. So----while I tell people, "don't get a dog for your dog", looks like I am not practicing what I preach and the two dogs are having a blast. As an extra bonus Charlee and Finney are not being annoyed and in turn they like Meggie better these last 24 hours--which then in turn makes it harder to give her up.

Quite a few friends have questioned me about Meggie with other dogs and many thought she didn't like other dogs. She needs to be managed around new dogs and is leash reactive, but getting better.

Oh, she likes to play with other dogs.

Meggie is not a candidate for the dog park, and not a great choice for the horse barn I turned down. She needs to be managed closely at this time, but she is very in tune with people and takes direction well. In the right home, she will be a once in life time heart dog. I have no doubt. I am holding out for that person to find her. 

In the mean time, we are getting to know Sapphire and here is what we have learned so far:

-She is unsure about new people, but wants to be loved by them so much she will crawl on her belly like a reptile to see them.

-She  is a submissive pee-er . In the kennel when I picked her up, she soaked her plastic dog bed with pee and then swacked swack swacked the pee with her wagging tail and she soaked the kennel wall and floor. It was kind of funny in an OMG that better not happen at my house kind of way.

-Sapphire is an excellent jumper and jumped all 4 feet on my head outside yesterday, but she learned to sit in 3 morsels of cheese.

-She is wicked smart and athletic and has never done stairs, but picked them up right away. She likes girls better than boys but wants badly to trust. Oh and she loves toys.

Sapphire's personality meshes with mine. I love to tame the smart wild child and she has already had a fantastic loose leash walking session after hauling me nearly off my feet yesterday.

We are thrilled to report that the pee issue is already 99 percent better.Stay tuned, I see good things in store for this girl.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Saturday-Canine Carnival in Augusta

Tomorrow afternoon Finney and I will be presenting at the 1st annual Canine Carnival, a fundraiser for Maine Greyhound Placement in Augusta. When they called and asked me in the summer, I didn't realize that it conflicted with WoofstMinster Planet Dog's big fund raising event in Scarborough. Both events look great and if you are in a more northerly part of the state, check it out - all breeds of dogs are welcome.

I have signed on to teach an interactive tricks and intro to freestyle workshop with the help of my Collie Finney. Finney suffered a hind leg injury 3 weeks ago when he collided with our foster puppy in the woods. He has since been rested, taken on many a long leash walk, and as of yesterday allowed off leash for a brief jaunt in the woods towards the end of our walk. He has been sound for a few weeks and more than a little high I might add. No doubt Finney will be happy to get back to work.

Finnegan is invaluable to me as a working partner, and I have missed him! He is a rock solid in public and like many trainers with dogs with super sonic dog skills, I have come to rely heavily on his assessment of other dogs, be they clients for dog aggression, or new foster dogs. While Finn is an expert on new dogs, I am somewhat of an expert of his body language and I can garner lots of information from him.

The Vet warned me that Finney is at high risk for re-injuring himself, and I will not allow him to run full tilt for at least another 3-4 weeks. In the mean time, the extended leash walks have been good for both of us. Not only is Finney getting stronger and I am getting fitter (one would hope!), but his manners in my yard have much improved and his barking is way down because, as I preach,he has not been allowed to practice unwanted behaviors.

Finn says "Let's count how many people ask me today if I am a  Greyhound mix."

Guess there is something to dog training after all. :)

For as long as I can remember, I have loved and admired Greyhounds. I grew up in the shadow of Wonderland Race track, and I mean literally grew up in the shadow of Wonderland. My family's business is right next door. My Uncle Dr Arthur Barry, was the track vet for many decades, and he started what is most likely the first Greyhound rescue in Massachusetts back in the early 70s, when he got disgusted by so many owners asking him to destroy their perfectly fine dogs when they were done racing. Growing up, there was always a different Greyhound at his house when ever we went over, and the sweetness of those dogs still lingers.

The state of Greyhounds and there for Greyhound rescue will surely be changing with more and more track closures. At this time Greyhound rescues are full up and in much need of support.

For a list of available Maine Greyhounds please click here.

If you are not following the exploits and photo shop genius of super star Greyhound Nigel Buggers, why the heck not?