Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Popeye Discovers the Crate

We generally crate-train every dog that stays with us because it usually makes for a happier dog (and human) in the long run. It's a safe way of confining them, and the dogs end up preferring to sleep in the crate, even when they don't have to because it has a den-like feel, which is comforting to them.

But we never made Popeye use a crate. When he still had his hind legs, I was afraid that because they stuck out so much, they would bang against the sides of the crate anytime he tried to shuffle. Also, in order to get into a crate, Popeye would have to lift himself about 2 inches over the bottom edge that protrudes up. I wasn't sure if that was "too much" for him, so we found other alternatives to crates to keep him safely confined when necessary.

There was the baby crib.

Baby stroller.

Which eventually was traded for a pet stroller.

A baby gate.

And a miniature exercise pen.

So Popeye may have seen every other dog use a crate on a daily basis, but he himself has never been made to.

Well, just a couple of hours ago, guess where I found him.

This is the crate beside my desk where I work all day (and night). Popeye has slept in front of it off and on many times but today was the very first time he actually went in. I didn't force him to or even encourage him, he just hoisted himself in. And the dog bed is actually higher than the bottom screen so he actually had to climb more than 2" to get on top.

Popeye, on his own, has discovered the comfort and security of the crate.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nacho Update

Posted 2 years ago in 2008:

Nacho was found as a stray in Mexico after the havoc of Hurricane Wilma. He was protecting and helping to feed another stray, a small white puppy we named Tessie who we assume had been recently orphaned. He was a surrogate mother to Tess, though he was not much more than a puppy himself at the time. Nacho would go around and beg for food, which he would then bring back for Tessie. But most of the people he would beg for food from kicked and otherwise abused him. The volunteers that found them tried to leave food and water out for them but those would always get knocked over by passersby.

By the time the volunteers had managed to find a place they could take the 2 strays to, Nacho had been so starved and beaten that he could no longer move. There was gum in his hair and an open stab wound. Even as frightened and in as much pain as he had to have been, Nacho 's highest priority was that Tessie was taken care of too. When he was taken in for medical treatment, he cried until Tess was found and reunited with him.

It didn't take Tessie long before she was adopted but Nacho came to us to be fostered until he could find his own forever family. A wonderful couple and their female dog did eventually find him and welcomed him into their hearts completely. They loved him like he deserved to be loved, trained him, and did everything right for him.

Unfortunately, after 2 years of bliss for Nacho, his human mom passed away and everything would change for him. It broke Nacho's dad's heart to realize that, with a newborn and an older dog to care for, he alone could not provide Nacho with the time and attention Nacho needed to remain a happy dog. He made the very difficult decision to give Nacho back to us so we could find him another home just as wonderful as the one he knew.


Nacho was adopted for the 2nd time in April 2008.

Updates from Nacho's family:

Nacho's first anniversary - May 2009

"Nacho continues to charm the girls -- I must tell you that we've given him a sexy voice, like Ricardo Montalban. The girl doggies appreciate his exoticness and plain sweetness! We've had a number of house guests in the last year, and Nacho is particularly fond of teenage girls! He still gets a tiny bit nervous if too many new people approach him too fast, but he's gotten lots better than he was, and just needs a bit of space and a minute to check folks out more quietly.

When I was in kindergarten, I drew a "family picture". In it was a little brown blob, our dog -- but we didn't have a dog (my teacher asked my Mom about it, but other than that I don't know why I remember this incident, except that I really wanted a dog). I've been lucky to have 3 different wonderful dogs as an adult, and have loved them all deeply, but there is just something extra special about Nacho to me -his hard luck story, his demonstrativeness, his cuteness; I think that he's my little brown blob from nearly 50 years ago!

So be assured that Nacho is loved and spoiled and doted upon - and we think that we're the lucky ones, finding him, and finding you who took such good care of him. "

January 2010:

"Nacho is thriving! He is so integrated into our household, and it's been so great to see him become more and more confident around new dogs and new people. I've attached a couple of photos - we take them to the beach alot, and Nacho just LOVES to roll in the sand -- so many people walking by just smile! He looks sooooooo incredibly happy! He is a total love, Sadie still adores him and we cannot imagine life without him. (He's wearing a gentle leader in the photos - we found it's a gentle way to control him when he gets really super excited -- he's so strong!)

In the meantime, tell Nacho's friends that he is Happy and Healthy and Loved - beyond words. "

Nacho has been extremely lucky. Some dogs never find homes at all. Nacho has been blessed to have been found by a loving family, not once but twice. Thanks K&R for allowing him to share your lives (and Sadie too!). I know you had some rough patches with him, but thank you for helping him through them.

The Pits

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Guess Who's Back?

And quiet is a thing of the past.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back Down to 3

Hear that? Me neither. That's because it was actually quiet and restful today. You can't really appreciate the peacefulness of 3 dogs until you've had 5 dogs, especially when one of those dogs is a crazy 2-legged maniac, another dog a loud non-stop whiner with no concept of boundaries or personal space, and yet another constantly runs away from you as if you've got devious intentions.

Miko has gone back to her regular foster home, and Reese is currently staying with another dogsitter. We'll probably have to bail him out of there soon though since he gets anxious there but for today at least, the quiet was music to my ears.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Dermapaw is an ointment for "soothing relief for itchy paws, sores, and dog skin allergies." It contains petroleum jelly, cod liver oil, chamomile oil, lavender oil, evening primrose oil, sage oil, vitamin E, and beeswax. It can be used on the skin of both dogs as well as people (though you might not want to rub it around your nose due to the very slight cod liver oil smell--I learned that the stinky way). Other than the ever so slight cod liver oil odor, the ointment smells really good. Not perfumy or clingy, just natural floral-ly.

The creators of Dermapaw are very nice, and aside from the ointment, they came up with an ingenius way to keep socks on dogs' paws. Because at some point in your dog's life, he's going to have an irritation around his paws that he'll try to chew and lick and lick and chew. You can put ointment on it but he'll just lick that off too. You put some kind of e-collar on him, but the collar looks uncomfortable or just doesn't work very well. And eventually, you'll try putting some socks on him. But the socks will invariably fall off.

The Dermapaw people have thought of a very simple way to keep the socks on.

You simply take some children's tube socks (a snug fit works better than a loose fit) and elastic string. Poke a hole on the outside of each sock and loop the elastic through the holes. Put the socks on your dog and pull the elastic over his shoulder. Boomer is sporting just 2 front socks (and he's not happy about it), but you can do this on all 4 paws, although I've had trouble keeping the back socks on--probably because I'm not tying the elastic properly. I've found that the socks won't stay on indefinitely, and I think they'd fall if your dog is running around. But to use at night, while your dog is sleeping, or even around the house, this works quite well.

You can buy these socks ready made from Dermapaw but they also show you how to make your own:

Be sure to watch their videos. My favorite is this one:

I just love how the little dog plays dead so nicely. I doubt there are many other dogs out there you can just flip over onto their back like that (I'm sure Popeye would try to take out a finger first), but luckily, flipping over isn't necessary.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bandit in the Snow

Bandit. From being dumped at the shelter with a broken leg in July 2008:

To this today:

He's one of the lucky ones. Thanks C&S for making his life so happy.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Just One Dog

To all the "just one persons" out there who opened their hearts and made all the difference to "just one dog."