Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Little Miko Update

We received a nice little email from Miko's dad. If you'll recall, Miko was (and is) a severely fearful dog from Taiwan that stayed with Robin & her dog, Logan. She was adopted over a month ago to a fantastic couple. Miko was definitely one of our harder-to-adopt dogs and that she went to such a loving home, full of patience and gentleness, is, if not quite a miracle, definitely one of those twists in life that fill you with hope and appreciation.

Miko is doing great here. We have been working on her "people" skills. There is a YMCA in the mini-office park by my house, so we walk by it a couple times every day; she gets exposed to a few adults and kids every day. I had to laugh when we first started and she got startled by a 4 year old.....the child said "look mommy, the doggie hasn't grown its tail yet" was tucked under....I got such a chuckle. We have now progressed at the YMCA from tail under body, to tail in a "fish hook". One more 1/2 curl and we will be in full "happy curl"!

Not much else is going on here. We have gotten into a routine, morning walk....lunch walk....dinner time TV and off to bed. So life is good.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Full Day

We humans had a very full day yesterday. While on our way to visit my parents in Oakland, we made a couple of detours.

First, we dropped Buddy off with his new foster family. Thanks to Linda, Kevin, and Bo for welcoming him. We had such a great experience knowing him for a few days, we feel very lucky!

Then, we headed off to Castro Valley to visit Sassy. Remember Sassy? The 11-year old boxer/lab that was dumped at the ever-overcrowded Lake County shelter after a divorce? She had the saddest eyes ever.

Thankfully, a wonderful woman named Wendy took her in to foster, and Sassy is so much happier. Sassy is very much like Buddy. Super mellow, good with everybody including dogs and cats, well-behaved, housetrained, and really all she wants is to hang out with her human(s).

Side note: Doesn't Sassy's little foster sister, Lucy, look like a miniature of Buddy's foster brother, Bo?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Buddy Goes for a Walk

Although the shelter papers state that Buddy's previous owners said he pulls on leash, he turned out to be a great heeler during our walk together with Popeye. He stayed right by my side the entire walk, even when I took them off-leash on the trail. In fact, sometimes he stayed too close to me, almost causing me to trip over him.

We met a group of guys playing basketball. They wanted to pet Popeye, but it was Buddy who happily but calmly walked up to each person one by one to be petted. Buddy just loves people.

Whenever we pass a parked SUV or minivan, Buddy does this. His previous family must've had a big car.

Pooped after a long walk.

Sitting pretty for a treat.

Dog Saves Canine Pal from Busy Intersection

Thanks to Linda for sharing this great story.

For a dog named Brawn, his best friend, Brains, is his hero.

Brains earned her name after leading Brawn, an emaciated male pit bull with a 20 lb. chain wrapped around his neck, through a busy intersection in downtown West Palm Beach, Fla.

"They seemed to be friends," David Walesky of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control tells "She was nudging him, telling him to get out of the road. They were crossing traffic. He was worn out and she was in front of him saying, 'Let's get across this together. I'm waiting for you, buddy—let's go.' "

On June 14, two construction workers spotted the skinny orange male pup, who weighed about 40 lbs, stumbling as he tried to maneuver his way through a busy street. When Brawn stumbled, Brains, a black pit bull mix (above), waited for him.

"She was giving him encouragement and getting him through traffic," says Walesky. "He was up and moving, but it is difficult to drag that heavy of a chain."

The construction workers scooped up the dogs and brought them to a nearby animal shelter. Soon, Kay-Lynette Roca, founder of Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary heard of their plight, and immediately called to inquire about them.

"I asked for the dogs because they were going to put them down," says Roca. "It's so crappy for them to survive all of that and [then be euthanized]. They have gone through too much, they're obviously friends, and we are the only shelter in South Florida that takes pit bulls."

So on Tuesday, off Brains and Brawn went to the Jupiter, Fla., sanctuary, which never euthanizes animals. "They're settling in very nicely," says Roca. "They're doing very well; they need to put some weight on."

The pair are now resting comfortably together at the sanctuary's state-of-the-art, charitable veterinary hospital, where Brawn is being treated for heartworms. Next stop: the sanctuary's newly-opened, 28-acre ranch in Palm City, where they'll "acclimate and chill out," Roca says.

The West Palm Beach neighborhood in which dogs were found is known as a breeding ground for fight dogs, Roca says. "A lot of these guys will put weights and chains around their neck to build up muscles."

Roca believes Brains and Brawn broke loose from the same abusive situation. "They seem to know one another," she says. "She is protective of him, and she seems to be the leader." Thankfully, the pair don't show any aggression to other dogs or to humans. "They're very sweet," she adds. "We see no problems with them."

These best friends will now remain so forever, as they'll only be adopted out to a family willing to take both. Roca promises: "I will absolutely make sure they stay together."

If you would like information on how to adopt Brains and Brawn, or make a donation for their medical care, call (561) 747-5311 or visit the sanctuary's website.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Buddy's Trip to the Vet

Buddy was a trooper once again. He didn't mind when the vet lifted him onto the table, took his butt temp, poked and prodded, or even looked way down his throat.

A white wart-like bump behind his ear, a small lump on his elbow, and a huge lemon-sized bump on the side of the belly. Aspirated and ok'd.

Hips examined. No sign of dysplasia. Hind legs determined to be ok (although he will not jump on them).

All else seems normal.

Buddy is very happy about that.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Buddy's First Day

Buddy at the shelter.

Buddy arrives.

Off to the groomer.

Trying to climb out of the bath tub.

Final shave.

"Who knew I was this thin?"
Thanks to Pooch n Purr in Antioch for their hard work in giving Buddy a makeover!

Rest time . . . . on Popeye's bed.

Some lovin'.

More lovin'.

Gentle kisses.

Sleeping at my feet while I work at my desk.

Popeye's not too sure about this new guy. He's keeping an eye on Buddy.

Buddy. A gentle and loyal soul.

Fresh from the Shelter - Buddy

We can't save them all. But saving 1 is pretty amazing too.

This is Buddy. He was just pulled from the Stanislaus County shelter today and is here with us now. More to come.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chilly is One Cool Dog

This past weekend, a dog named Chilly and her foster human came for a visit. I have pics, which I am currently too busy/lazy to post but will soon.

Chilly is listed as a pit mix, but really, I saw nothing of a pit in her. She is much too calm. She doesn't go bonkers over people like pits generally do, with wagging butts, swooshing tails that will nail anyone who gets in their way. And her body structure isn't quite pit either. She resembles more of a boxer mix to me. But this is all technicality.

Regardless of her mix, Chilly is an awesome dog. And her foster human ain't so bad either.

Check out Chilly's Corner: She is seriously an awesome dog, even serving as an ambassador dog for the SPCA's summer kids program. Let's hope she finds her forever home soon!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Seven is currently 7 months old. We know where he came from. His mom, a Formosan Mountain Dog mix, was found as a stray in Taiwan. She was also very pregnant.

She gave birth to 11 puppies.

That's Baby Seven there, looking at the camera.

Seven knew 3 homes in Taiwan. He was born in foster care, then he was taken in by a family with a small child. But they decided they couldn't keep him and he went back to live with another fosterer.

At 6 months old, near the end of April, he came to live with a couple and their dog in the US. Here he is with his siblings and foster mom in Taiwan getting all the documents ready for their flight.

Unfortunately, the flight and complete upheaval of everything he knew made Seven extremely fearful. Seven quickly bonded to his new family but remained fearful of everybody else. A group of 3 trainers even recommended he be put down because they said his "aggression" couldn't be controlled.

That's when we stepped in. Abbie, one of Seven's fosterers in Taiwan, the woman who helped his mom give birth to all 11 puppies, contacted me because she was worried about Seven. She gave me minute details of what Seven was like in Taiwan and what his new family was telling her about him now.

I couldn't grasp how the Seven who had lived with a small child, who went everywhere and was greeted by new people all the time could be the same dog that was now being called "aggressive." He went from being completely friendly to everyone back in Taiwan to completely barky, growly and snappy to everyone but his own family here in the States.

I questioned the trainers' assessment. I'm not a professional, nor do I ever claim to be. But I have a bit of experience with Taiwan dogs. What I suspected had happened was this:

Seven, completely uncertain of what was happening to him, became very agitated during the flight. He was picked up and brought home to live with his new family, who he quickly realized was his "safe" haven.

Unfortunately, he still felt threatened by everything and everyone around him. Being taken to the vet to get neutered so soon after his arrival didn't help matters either. No doubt about it, Seven was exhibiting fearful behavior. All outside forces he considered a threat. But now he had a new pack to protect.

I met Seven's new mom a month after they got him. She and her husband clearly loved Seven, and in everything they did, they did with the best intention. They went well beyond what I think an average adopter would do. It's actually really amazing how much effort, finances, and love they devoted to him in the relatively short time they had him.

I think in only one big way did they err with Seven. Not having any indication that he had any fearful tendencies, I don't think they gave him enough time to relax and settle in before they exposed him to outside stimulants. Although he quickly learned to trust them, he still had a lot of anxiety after his flight.

So when he began to become growly and snappy with strangers, both out of his own fear and as a need to protect his pack from perceived threats, rather than pull back a little and allow Seven a chance to get his bearings, they pushed him even further. In their well-meaning attempt to nip this unwanted behavior in the bud, they continued to expose him to new and (to him) frightening situations.

By this time, I have no doubt their own stress and anxiety were being communicated to Seven via body language. Seven's a smart dog. I'm sure that when they, with Seven on leash, approached a person, their body would tense up a bit in expectation of Seven's reaction. That's to be expected. But Seven would read that to mean that there was a threat present, that his humans were scared, and perceiving that, he would have to take it upon himself to protect them.

Seven lived in this state of mind for a month. The cycle would continue to feed itself, and it was in this state that the trainers assessed him. I can't help but think Cesar Milan would have never suggested he be put down.

It was all well and fine for me to have my own opinion on the matter, but I couldn't foster Seven myself. Not with a houseful of dogs already, and Popeye being one of them. It was one thing for me to say he was misdiagnosed but quite another to actually ask another person to take in a dog that had been labeled as "aggressive."

But once again, our own Robin came to the rescue. When Robin heard that the trainers suggested that Seven be put down, she wanted to drive the 2 hours to pick him up right away, no ifs or buts about it. Robin's previous foster dog, Miko, had been adopted just a couple of weeks earlier.

So that weekend, we drove to Santa Rosa to pick Seven up. Knowing what we did about him, we asked ahead of time that he not be allowed to meet us. From the car, we watched him interact with his human. And then he was brought back inside the house and crated in a different room. We didn't want to give Seven any opportunity to feel like we were threats to his pack and his home. Seven was carried into the car in his crate, and that's where he stayed until we got him back to Robin's house, the 5th home he would know.

As with his previous family, we didn't expect it to take long for Seven to bond with his new pack. In fact, as Robin said, it seemed like his "reset" button was pushed the very next morning after we picked him up. He quickly learned to view Robin as a trusted human.

2 weeks later (yesterday), I returned to Robin's house for a visit. I wasn't sure if he'd remember me from our brief meeting the day we picked him up. At his previous home, the first real sign of trouble happened when a friend came to to Seven's new house. This friend was with the family when they picked Seven up from the airport and brought him home. But when he met her again 2 weeks later (she was going to take him to the vet to get neutered), he did not remember her and perceived her to be a threat. This was his first real freak-out moment and we're told he growled, barked, and snapped at her. I think this was the moment that Seven was labeled as "aggressive."

I didn't want Seven to react that same way to me. I didn't want to be the catalyst that would start his freak-out mode all over again. So for this visit, I brought 2 things that most dogs can't resist.


And . . . .


We are being very careful with our handling of Seven. Robin is trying to maintain her pack leader stance with him, so that he doesn't feel compelled to take on that role himself. We try to take things slowly (though not nearly as slowly as we expected to). He's had some moments of uncertainty but never that intense level of fear that seemed to be with him while at his previous home. So far, we have not seen any of the "aggression" for which the trainers said to put him down.

See for yourself how he did during our visit: