Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Runaway Miko

Miko helped to keep things interesting yesterday by slipping through the front door and taking off. I went after her and was joined by a neighbor down the street, but didn't get far before I realized there was no way we would be able to catch up with her.

I was headed back home to get the car when my father, who had just gotten home (my parents live across the street) and saw what was going on, pulled back out of the driveway. I hopped in, and as we were driving down our street, we saw Miko sprinting back from a small side street. But instead of turning right, which would lead her back home, she turned left, dashed across the street and up a trail on a hill.

I got out of the car, running in my socks, slippers in hand (I never had time to put my shoes on--luckily I always wear socks) and tried to follow her. The trail on the hill splits into 2 pathways. The one on the right is the one I always take the dogs on and leads to a large grassy park. We have taken Miko to that park so I figured she would take the path that was more familiar to her. But I was wrong. There was no sign of her.

This entire time, I was thinking, there's no way I'll catch her. Even if I see her, she's still too afraid of me to let me approach.

She was still wearing her harness with a leash attached, something we keep on her 24 hours. The only way we'd get her, I thought, would be if her leash got caught in something and she couldn't run away, which is something that somebody told me happened to another fearful dog. OR, she would come back home. I'd heard other stories about dogs bolting and coming back home on their own.

I headed back to the house with the plan to pack Boomer & Phoebe in the car (Miko likes both of them) and to drive around the area, maybe letting them off-leash (they are great off-leash) up on the trail to see if Miko would come to us that way. On the way back, another neighbor down the street asked me if I was looking for a black dog. He said he saw one running down the side street when he left to pick up his son. He had just returned with his son, so I knew that was "old" news since I had subsequently seen her running back up from that street. But I thought, thank god she was wearing a harness and leash because that would make people notice her a lot more.

When I got home,I called Tyler at work so he could call Animal Control to report a missing dog in case Miko was brought in. Then I called a friend at Paw Printz Pitbull Rescue who lives locally to ask her to come over and help. Apparently, she knows a lot of people because minutes later, she had rounded almost half a dozen other people to join the search.

But then my dad called me. Apparently, after I ran out of his car to take the trail on foot, he drove around to the end of the other pathway. And saw her just as she was coming down. He got out of his car and walked towards her, not with the expectation of catching her, but hoping that it would scare her into turning around and going back in the direction she came from. It worked because when he called me, he told me that Miko had turned around and was heading back home.

I wasn't sure if he meant that she was actually heading home or just in the direction of home. I knew I couldn't just leave the front door open for her because of Reese and Popeye. I could imagine Popeye barking in his excitement and just overwhelming her more. And Reese, though not a bolter is also not trained on recall, so if he slipped through the door, I'd have to focus my attention on him. So I took Boomer & Phoebe out to the garage, opened the garage door and let them out in front of the house off-leash, where they proceeded to sniff around like they often do. I hoped that their presence there would give Miko a sense of familiarity and security.

A minute later, I saw Miko come charging up the street towards us and I hoped that she would stop at our house and not just keep running. There was a white car that was keeping beside her, and when she swerved into our front yard, the car halted to a stop. They asked if that was our dog and I yelled yes. I wish I had time to thank them, but I was still focused on trying to get Miko into the house. She kept going to the front door when I was trying to get her to go into the garage. I didn't want to approach her to grab her leash in case it could cause her to take off again, so I kept calling Boomer & Phoebe to me, hoping she would follow.

I also knew I didn't want to close the garage door if I didn't have her leash because the sound of it might have freaked her out and caused her to bolt out again. So I opened the side door in the garage, which leads to the back yard, then stepped away from the door. Boomer & Phoebe immediately went through there and finally Miko, still very terrified, rushed through as well. I then closed the garage door, went out to the back yard, opened the back door, and Miko immediately went into the house.

She was safe. Panting like crazy, still worked up, limping a little on her left front leg (probably strained from the hard exertion), but safe. She went into her crate in the front room and stayed there for most the day. Even though she was gone for less than half an hour, I'm sure the adrenaline she felt in her fear was like she had run a 30-mile marathon.

I think my father saved the day, and maybe the people in the white car helped. I think they live around here and hope I see them soon so that I can thank them properly for not just caring about a runaway dog but also for getting involved.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Miko Starts to Play

Miko has started to play with Phoebe just a little bit. Most of the time she still does not engage with the dogs, but every once in a blue moon now, she will start to play with Phoebe--whether Phoebe wants to play or not. Phoebe gives off a wonderful energy and every foster dog bonds to her first. We've still got a long way to go with Miko, but this is a nice start.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hogging the Bed

"Uh, no thanks, I'll just stay in my crate, thank you very much. You people and that Popeye are still scary."

Miko's First Walk

While she was boarded in the Taiwan vet office, Miko worked with a volunteer who trained her to walk on leash. Robin, Miko's original fosterer, helped to get Miko more comfortable walking in a new environment.

The result was that Miko was fantastic on leash when we walked her for the first time, together with Boomer & Phoebe. Miko does a great heel, virtually never pulls, and follows whoever is holding the leash without hesitation. Even when she's scared of that person. It's almost like it's been ingrained in her that she must follow the leash-holder no matter what.

See all that pink she is swathed in? Since she's a fearful dog and a high flight risk (and I have already dealt with way too many dogs who have bolted when startled), Miko wears both a harness and a martingale collar, with a separate leash attached to each. I've heard too many stories of people saying, "They slipped out of their collar" or "They got out of their harness." One of those stories ended tragically with the dog being fatally hit by a car.

(That's not a happy face, that's a panting "I'm still anxious" face.)

During the walk, Miko had to walk past strangers and endure a radio blaring. She did not spook at all, though I think a part of that had to do with the fact that she was walking within a calm pack.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Miko's First Night

Miko is the first fearful dog we've taken in since Sugar about 2 years ago. And she's our first new foster dog (Jewel doesn't really count) since taking in Popeye about 16 months ago. For a long time, I worried that adding another dog would be too overwhelming for me with my increased work load and the extra care that goes into Popeye. Dogsitting Reese a few months ago showed us that having a 4th dog was doable--although Reese is an "easy" dog. In fact, Reese is so easy(except for his potentially annoying whining/talking habit--this dog just won't shut up sometimes!) and provides such a good distraction for Popeye that having him is almost like having minus a dog. Well, minus 1/2.

I'm actually shocked that Tyler agreed to have 4 dogs in the house, let alone 5. He was always very adamant about 3 being our limit. I hope nobody talks sense into him.

Although, with Miko being so fearful, her presence will not even be felt for at least a while. She is still feeling scared and confused by the change in environment. Everybody that she has gotten comfortable with is gone. I have actually met Miko a couple of times before this, and Robin did bring her to our house before, so that this would not be a completely sudden change. But it's still a big step for her to have to learn to get comfortable again.

With all of our previous fearful foster dogs, we were the first long-term home they knew. As they became comfortable in our home, there was nobody they trusted more than me. This time, with Miko, we get a chance to experience what the adopters of all those other dogs experienced--being a second home. Miko trusts Robin, and her sidekick David, most. Now they are gone. She sometimes looks out the window for them.

She is withdrawn and does not engage with the other dogs or with me or Tyler, although she sometimes cautiously follows one or the other of us around the house. She will freeze if we look at her. It's very reminiscent of how Isis was when we first got her. We don't try to pet her though we sometimes feed her treats. I managed to put a leash on her and was able to take her outside to the backyard. She is a high flight risk so she must have a leash on her even in the backyard. Although is she still very scared of me, she walks very well on leash and does not fight it.

Her place of comfort turned out to be the corner in our kitchen, beside the dining table. Probably because this is where we hung out with Robin and David while they were here. So we put her dog bed there, along with a dirty shirt of Tyler's and a dirty shirt of mine so that she could get a little more used to our scent. The other dogs don't bother her and she has no problem showing them her teeth if they do.

We will see how this plays out in the next week or so.

Goodbye Jewel, Hello Miko

It's been a nice little indulgence having a pup like Jewel around for the past week. She took Popeye's snarling and snapping, something he does to all new dogs in the house if they come unaccompanied by a new human, in stride and after a few days, managed to get him to play with her. Popeye's crack is tug-of-war so any dog who will tug with him is a friend.

A couple of days ago, we also added a 5th dog to the mix. Reese, who is brother to our Phoebe. Reese stayed with us before. He is super submissive and lets Popeye do whatever he wants to him so of course it didn't take them long to become friends.

But Reese is very muscular and powerful and often overly enthusiastic. We had a slight mishap today when Reese was chasing a tennis ball in the yard and rammed into the side of Popeye's cart, not only causing him to tip over but breaking a couple of the buckles on the cart in the process. Popeye was not phased and luckily we had some spare buckles so that the cart was soon back in action.

Last night was our last night with Jewel.

"Call me when that puppy is gone."

Today, we got Miko, the fearful dog that Robin has been fostering for the past few months.

Robin's done a great job with Miko, helping her to become comfortable in a home for most likely the first time in her life. She comes to stay with us for a while in the hopes that being part of our dog pack, alongside well-socialized dogs, will further her progress.

Here she is cuddled with Logan, Robin's own Formosan Mountain Dog.

A few last "ahhhh" pics of Jewel.

Having Jewel was great, but the world is filled with dogs with greater issues and greater needs. Over a dozen people have expressed interest in adopting Jewel and she won't have any problem finding a forever home. What I am able and willing to give to her a lot of other people are able and willing to give to her. She doesn't need me. Jewel is the kind of dog I would love to spend forever with--if there weren't so many other dogs that needed me more.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jewel cont'd

She climbed up on my chair by herself.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Jewel was one of the 6 puppies that recently came in. She is staying with us until this weekend, at which time she will go to Robin for fostering and we will take in Robin's current foster dog, Miko.

Jewel's one of those "easy" dogs. Even for a puppy, she's not hard to manage at all. She's simply a delight, and I kind of view her as a selfish indulgence since she doesn't have any "issues" I need to help her with. It's dogs like her that make me think that people who don't foster just don't know what they are missing out on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Puppy Breath

I know it's been a while since my last update. I've been a busy busy bee with work. I'm also trying to spend less time on the computer in general, as it hurts my fingers and my back. And lately I've had my hands especially full trying to find foster and adoptive homes for this bunch.

(Thanks, Linda, for the videos.)

More to come.