Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More Phoebe

BTW, that's the one couch that the humans have deemed dogs are not allowed on.

Yes, this couch:

The same couch:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pip & Sugar

Crazy Lady was kind enough to offer to foster Pip for a while. Her dog, Sugar, was one of our foster dogs about 3 years ago. Sugar is somewhat of an alpha but she is super playful. Her play mannerisms are more assertive than usual and that sometimes causes new dogs to react to her in unexpected ways.

A big thank you to Crazy Lady and Sugar for offering to take care of Pip. Our dogs had enough of him.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The New Snuggles Mascot

Pip usually follows me around all over the house. The other night I noticed he was missing, and I didn't hear the bell he wears on his collar. I checked the front room, which is the room we spend most of our time. Nope. Then the family room. No there either. I started walking through the hallway to the bedroom to look when I found him--snuggled in my clean laundry basket.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Popeye & Pip Play Chase

Popeye chasing Pip the first night.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pip Runs Circles Around Popeye

Every new dog that comes to the house is subjected to growling, snarling and teeth-baring from Popeye. He doesn't attack them, just makes a lot of noise if they deign to come near him. It usually takes him about a week to get over it. We have a record with Pip though--Popeye started playing with him on the first night. Of course, by the next morning, Popeye was back to the snarling and barking.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pip Gets Belly Band-ized (How to Make a Basic Belly Band)

Pip is turning out to be a great dog, but like many dogs, especially males ones, especially unneutered ones, he has a tendency to mark both inside and outside the house. We have fostered plenty of dogs with this tendency, and after they get used to all the new smells, the marking generally stops. It's just a matter of being hyper-vigilant in the beginning.

I'm finding that with all the extra work that goes into caring for Popeye everyday, plus I'm not as spry as I once was, I just don't have the energy to be so vigilant or to clean up additional accidents.

Since I have so much experience now with making belly bands for Popeye, I decided to make one for Pip. It is SO easy to make a belly band for a regular dog. But "regular" dog, I mean a dog who walks in the normal horizontal position that 4-legged dogs walk in, and a dog whose waist is not so atrophied that it is considerably narrower than the hips. Both these issues make it virtually impossible to keep belly bands stay on Popeye, since gravity is pulling them down, so there are a lot more tweaks and additional gear required.

But for a regular dog like Pip, a basic but effective belly band can be made in less than 5 minutes, at almost no cost, and without any sewing.

I'm not big on exact measurements (due to my laziness) but basically I get a rough idea of how long the belly band needs to be to go all the way around the dog's waist, then I add 2 inches (you'll see why later). I also check to see how wide the band needs to be in order to cover the penis area, and also add at least 2 inches. It's always better to be too wide rather than not wide enough. Let's use overall measurements of 30cm long x 10cm wide as an example.

Since I'll be using a thin fabric like a t-shirt, I then take the general measurements and multiply the width by 4. So that would be 30cm long x 40cm wide. I cut that out of an old t-shirt.

I'm going to illustrate the next few steps using a dishtowel because it will be easier to see.

So you have your cut out piece.

Fold the width into quarters, like this.

This way only the folded edges are exposed. None of the cut edges are exposes. T-shirts, as I discovered, have a habit of fraying and curling at the cut edges. So if you hide those edges, you shouldn't have a problem.

To prevent fraying and tearing, I make a couple folds at both ends to hide the cut edges. That's why I added 2 inches to the length in the step above.

I use plastic snaps to secure the 2 ends of the belly bands. I prefer plastic over metal because they are lightweight, they don't rust, there's less clanging in the dryer, and they're way cheaper, but metal snaps work too. These pliers are what I've been using to attach plastic snaps since getting Popeye, and I use them so often for so many household things, I wonder what I did without them.

You can use also use velcro (though that will require sewing). Or if wanted to go really basic, you could even just poke holes in the ends, loop some string through them and then just tie the 2 ends together. I used to do that in the earliest days of Popeye's diapers, but it got tiresome fairly quickly.

You could also do multiple rows of snaps if you wanted, to allow for some adjustment in sizing. All of Popeye's belly bands have many rows since I was lazy about the measurements. This band has just 1 row, but I later added another row because after I tried it on Pip, I found it to be too loose.

Your belly band is basically complete at this point. To use, just adhere a maxi pad or pantyliner to it. The one we had was longer than the belly band so I just made a fold in the middle.

You could even use 2 pads side by side for more coverage and/or if you find the width of the belly band riding down.

Note: It's handy to have a least 2 belly bands in case there is a leakage accident, so that you have an extra one to use while the other is waiting to be washed.

After using your belly band, you may find some ways to improve upon it so that it works better for your particular dog. For this reason, I wouldn't be too particular about trying to make your early belly bands look perfect (if you care about that sort of thing--which my lazy butt obviously doesn't).

Pure wool is great to use as a belly band because the lanolin in wool actually neutralizes the ammonia in urine. Wool is commonly used in cloth diapering for babies because when pee gets on it, rather than washing it every time, you just hang it up outside and the pee sort of magically disappears. That means you can re-use it several times even when it gets stained with pee before having to wash it.

To prep wool for use as a belly band, you need to felt it first. You've probably heard how wool always needs special care when washing so that it doesn't get ruined. Well, if you stick it in your washer for a hot wash and cold rinse, you've essentially "ruined" your wool. The result is that it's been felted--ie. made fuzzy and softer.

Here's my wool belly band. I didn't have any pieces of wool long enough so I just took 2 scraps and sewed them together. Then I attached some plastic snaps to the ends. Since wool is thicker and doesn't curl up at the ends, there's no need to worry about extra layers or folding the ends. Just 1 piece of wool the exact size you want your belly band to be is all you need.

Place an absorbent pad on top as usual. If urine accidentally gets on it, just hang it up for a few hours and it'll be as good as new. When you decide it needs to be washed, you can wash it on hot wash/cold rinse. Every few washes, use lanolin detergent instead of regular detergent. Easy.

Pip tends to stay by my side, but now he is free to explore the house on his own every once in a while without me having to keep an eye on him every second.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Found Long-Haired Chihuahua

The mail lady knocked on my door early this afternoon. She's a great mail carrier and I am lucky to be part of her route. She's seen our dogs from time to time and knows I've fostered. Today she told me that there was a little dog in a box abandoned in front of one of the houses around the corner. It's been raining and the temperature fairly cold by California standards, and the mail lady said the dog was shivering but would not come to her.

So I put on my shoes, grabbed a leash, the car keys and Phoebe (in case the dog was dog-friendly and Phoebe could coax it to us). Boomer decided he wanted to come along too, so they both hopped in the car. It was still raining at the time. Here's what I saw when we got there.

I got out of the car and immediately the dog stepped away. I let Phoebe out, but the dog backed away and went off to huddle in the corner between the house next door and the side fence. I knocked on the door of the house and asked the person who answered if she had a dog. Lots of times when dogs hang around in front of a particular house, especially little ones, it means they've escaped the yard. But she said no.

We both went over the dog, still huddled in the corner and growling at us. I tried to loop a leash around him but he kept attacking it. The other woman is a cat person so didn't know too much about dogs. I'm a wuss otherwise I would've just picked the dog up. Instead, we decided to try to trap him. I had a mail bin in my car which I angled in front of the dog, between the house and the side gate, so that he couldn't escape. Of course, he could've jumped over the mail bin but luckily for us, he wasn't that adventuresome. If he was, he would've taken off from fright rather than back himself in a corner.

The woman went back to her house and came back with a pet crate, which took the place of the mail bin. We had the door open, and the dog was cornered. He had only to take 2 steps to get into the crate. But he wasn't moving and couldn't be bribed with treats. Shaking and growling, he just cowered. I found a piece of cardboard and put layed it on top of the crate, with part of it sticking out so that the dog was covered--not just from the rain but also to prevent him from jumping over the crate. We then left him alone and went to stand by my car. 2 minutes later, I heard a little noise and when I went back to look at him, I saw he had finally gone into the crate. It was a simple matter of just closing the door and packing him into my car.

When I got home, I pulled out one of our spare crates--an XXL one. I wasn't sure how scared and withdrawn this dog was going to be so I wanted him to have his own little space. Luckily, he was such a small dog that a large crate was plenty of room. I set up the 2 crates facing each other so he would have access to both.

As it turns out, the moment he was let out of the plastic crate, he transformed into this tag-wagging, friendly dog who wanted to be lifted up. We named him Pip, short for pipsqueak, which is what Popeye calls him. Popeye's not a fan yet.

Pip was not microchipped and had no collar, which actually isn't uncommon. We had gone on the assumption he had been abandoned in that cardboard box, but I immediately noticed how well groomed he was. Nails not overgrown, hair brushed, ears cleaned, and I could smell the fragrance of shampoo on him.

The more I get to know him, the more I find it impossible to believe that somebody abandoned him. Maybe if he had some super annoying habit like incessant barking or hyperness or some behavioral problem. But he is, so far, a fabulous dog. Judging from his teeth, he appears to be only about 5-6 months old. He is not yappy, though he does make little squeaky whines when he wants attention. He is definitely used to being cuddled because if you sit on the floor, he immediately crawls onto your lap. He doesn't mind being picked up and he's fine with the other dogs. He has a tendency to mark (and he's not neutered) but he appears at least somewhat housetrained.

This dog is just too cute, too young, and too well-behaved to have been dumped so unceremoniously in the rain and cold. We'll be making more calls. In the meantime, he'll have a warm place to stay. And maybe, in a week or so, Popeye will warm up to him and finally have a buddy that's smaller.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Urinary Tract Infections & D-Mannose

Popeye was recently diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. Since day one, I've been told that he was at a higher risk for UTIs due to his incontinence. For both people and dogs, urinary tract trouble often happens when bacteria enters through the urethra. Regular urination helps to flush out the bacteria--that's why you might've heard that drinking plenty of water can help to prevent UTIs.

Since Popeye doesn't have control over his bladder and therefore relies on manual expression, there is a larger risk that not all of his urine is being discharged. That means there is a larger risk that bacteria can fester, resulting in an infection. He also takes immunosuppressent drugs for his year-round "allergies," so his immune system may be compromised, making him less able to combat the bacteria.

Popeye's currently on his 2nd round of antibiotics. It turned out that the first one he was given, Baytril, was not effective against the particular strain of bacteria he has, staphylococcus pseudintermedius. He's now on Cephalexin, and we are awaiting test results to see whether his UTI has cleared yet.

A side note about antibiotics: Some of you probably already know that antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria but they kill good bacteria as well. That's why it's a good idea to supplement with probiotics at the same time in order to replace the good bacteria that is necessary for a healthy gut. There are many different strains of good bacteria, so it's important to select a probiotic made specifically for pets or for people, depending on who is taking it. Yogurt contains a couple of strains. Popeye gets probiotics as a regular supplement, but he gets 3-4x more when he's on antibiotics.

More info on probiotics here:

I had always heard that cranberry juice helped to prevent UTIs. Not every doctor seems to think so though. Still, I was curious enough to do some research about it in an effort to find a natural preventative and/or treatment for Popeye in case this becomes a chronic issue.

It turns out that the specific element in cranberry juice that is said to help prevent & treat certain UTIs is called d-mannose. It only helps with UTIs caused by e. coli (not the same e. coli you've heard about in the news associated with unsanitary foods). Popeye's current UTI is caused by staph, not e. coli, so d-mannose may not be effective for him in this case. Luckily though, e. coli is the culprit for the majority of UTIs, both in dogs and in people.

E. coli bacteria essentially sticks to the d-mannose, which is then flushed out of the system when you pee. Pretty simple, huh? It doesn't kill any bacteria (good or bad), it just prevents the e. coli from sticking to the inside walls of the bladder and urinary tract.

Aside from cranberry juice, d-mannose is also found in pineapple juice, blueberries, and several other fruits, but in smaller concentrations so you would really have to ingest a lot of those fruits for it to be effective. D-mannose comes in straight powder form and tastes like sugar. And it's cheap. So if you or your pet is prone to UTIs, you might want to give it a try. Again, it won't work on every kind of UTI (ie. staph)

A very useful article on d-mannose here:

Shelter Dogs Need Blankets, Towels, Litter Pans

Do you have old blankets, towels, and litter boxes to spare for cold shelter dogs? It's cold this season and many shelter dogs are forced to sleep on freezing and bare concrete floors. Central Valley shelters in CA are asking for your old blankets, towels, and litter boxes (which are used as makeshift beds to get the dogs off the cold floors). If you have any you can spare and can take a moment out of your day, please mail them to:

Sheila Metzger
8521 Shoal Ct.
Bakersfield, CA 93312

Of course, I'm sure there are other shelters throughout the country that can also use these so you might want to give your local shelter a call and ask them.

You can also order litter pans to be shipped to the address above at

Many shelter dogs don't have much this holiday season. We may not be able to find them all homes, but the least we can do is give them a warm place to sleep.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pitbull Puppies

Here's a video of a bunch of cute pitbull puppies, available for adoption at Best Friends Sanctuary. (Thanks Linda.)

Here's a video of Phoebe, our own pitbull pup (who's actually 6 years old now), watching the video of pit pups.

And here's a video of Phoebe playing with a trio of pit pups.

And of course Phoebe when she was truly a pit pup herself. (We adopted her from Paw Printz Pitbull Rescue when she was 8 months old and have been counting our lucky stars since.)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another Visit with Seven

Seven, Robin's foster dog, was adopted about 4 months ago. This past weekend, we went to visit him at his home in Santa Cruz.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Riddle's Song

When you hear about a dog that has been victimized, abused, or neglected by his human, your faith in humanity chips away. But hearing about dogs like Riddle restores your hope a little.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NPR: Nicholas Dodman on Caring for Your Aging Dog

From (Thanks Linda!)

Dave Davies interviews veterinary behaviorist and author of Good Old Dog, Nicholas Dodman. This fascinating interview about raising and caring for aging dogs covers topics such as why you might not want to feed your dog “senior” dog formulas, how cancer is the number one killer of older dogs, and how smaller dogs live longer than larger ones (and how size affects how you calculate your dog’s age in human years). If you have an older dog or are considering adopting an older dog (Hello, Muttville!), this is a must listen.

Interview Highlights:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Oddest Couple in the World

From for sharing, Linda.)

A male Chihuahua's tenacity in guarding his beloved pit bull girlfriend helped save their lives. Now, the couple is inseparable.


Sometimes even an abandoned, injured dog with a bad rap ends up doing great things. And so it was with a female pit bull, being guarded by her beloved boyfriend, a Chihuahua.

What the Pennsylvania dog warden did not realize when he rescued the pair on Labor Day, was just what a sweet story these two dogs had to tell.

Once the pit bull got into a crate on the warden's truck, the Chihuahua would not follow. Instead, he put himself between the two, barking and growling at the warden.

"So I sat on the ground ... all the time having a conversation with a Chihuahua that was guarding a Pit Bull!," the warden writes in a story about this odd couple.

"Eventually he let me get close enough so we could have a face to face & heart to heart discussion. I told him that his intentions were very noble and would not go unrewarded for the both of them."

The warden would not follow his usual routine when finding a pit bull — to take the dog to a facility that could euthanize her within 48 hours. "Due to this little guy's tenacity and I do believe true affection for his Pit Bull lady," the warden writes, "I was not going to let that happen." Cute couples, it turns out, melt hearts.

lovestory5.jpgThe warden found them safe haven at the no-kill Washington Area Humane Society. He asked the staff, could they please find room in their already overflowing no-kill shelter for just two more dogs?

"We truly didn't have room but we could not let them go," says Alice Wancowicz, assistant manager of the shelter in Eighty Four, PA. "They stayed in the bathroom for two days until we could get a run open."

And so, the staff embraced the pair, naming them Bonnie and Clyde. "We were trying to think of a good duo kind of name," says Wancowicz. "They're kind of like rebels but they're not, they stick together."

Now, it is Bonnie who protects little Clyde. "They are just adorable together," Wancowicz says. "Bonnie just lays there and Clyde jumps all over her. They are totally inseparable." The couple goes on walks together, eat together, sleep together, with Clyde snoozing on top of Bonnie or cuddled within her front arms.

"When Bonnie got spayed, Clyde was beside himself," Wancowicz says. "He wouldn't settle down, was crying, on your lap, off your lap, you could tell he wasn't himself."

So it comes as a surprise that they have not been adopted. "They would fit in anywhere," says Wancowicz. "They don't have issues with adults or kids."

The dog warden writes that we need to change our opinions of pit bulls: "You may find a loving, loyal and dedicated companion to fight for like our Chihuahua friend did. Perhaps this story will give you a second chance to revisit your thoughts and opinions concerning Pit Bulls. They deserve the opportunity to overcome a stereotype that can most certainly lead them to death."

We know that Tonic readers like to take action. If you want to help out Bonnie and Clyde, click here ( to visit the Humane Society's website. Or, you can call them at 724-222-PETS (7387)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pt Isabel Get-Together

We recently had a little Walkin' the Bark / Taiwan Dog get-together at Pt Isabel. I was surprised and delighted at how many people showed up! I got to see dogs that I haven't seen in years, some not since they were puppies.

People who foster and rescue have the same dream for each of their dogs--that they one day become a part of a family that will love and appreciate them for the rest of their lives. We give a bit of ourselves to each one of these dogs, and when they are adopted, they take that bit with them for always. To be able to see them in the context of their Forever Families, sharing and contributing to the happiness of their humans, is literally many dreams come true.