Monday, September 30, 2013

Teddy's Last Hurrah

We had a busy weekend at Life of Drool. Between taking care of Lennon and trying to get our usual weekend chores finished, we also took Teddy to his new home in Nebraska. That’s right…Teddy is adopted!! His new family is wonderful and along with his new mom and dad, he is also going to have two dog sisters and a human brother and sister. Teddy won the family jackpot!

Before Teddy left, the Drool Crew thought it would be fun to have one final hurrah by playing a practical joke on Mommy and Daddy. It went like this:
It’s 10:00 pm and dark outside. The front door is open, but the glass storm door is shut and latched. Mom is on the living room couch. Dad is downstairs getting Lennon to take him outside (hence the open front door).
Ringo: Hey guys! Did you notice that Mom and Dad left the front door open?

Layla: Perfect! Now we can watch for squirrels.

Harry: I think I’m just going to press my face against the glass and make drool art.

Teddy: What are you guys doing?!? Can I play?? What are we looking for?

Ringo: Calm down Teddy. We are just watching for cute girl dogs to go by.

Layla: Not me! I’m watching for squirrels. You guys may not take the threat of squirrel invasion very seriously, but it is a real possibility that we should all be prepared for.

Harry: Sheesh Teddy! Move over! You are smearing my “artwork.”

Teddy: Wouldn’t it be fun if we could get out and run around the neighborhood? He he he…so fun!

Ringo: Bad idea.

Layla: Terrible idea. You might scare the squirrels.

Harry: Mom would die. She worries about us and doesn’t want us to ever be out of her sight. This is why I stay inside and make Drool Picasso’s. It is my expression of love.

Teddy: You guys are boring. Everyone needs a little excitement in their lives…even Mom and Dad.  

Ringo: It’s not exciting to see Mom upset. It is scary.

Layla: Ditto.

Harry: Double ditto!

Teddy: How scary could it be? Mom is nice! I think I’m going to try…it will make her laugh. He he he!

Ringo: Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Layla: You are dumb. 
Just then, a nice woman with two shih tzus walks by… 

Ringo: Look alive boys. Here come two cute ladies. How does my fur look?

Teddy: This is our chance Ringo! We should run out and introduce ourselves to them!

Harry: I want nothing to do with this.

Teddy: Ok…here goes nothing. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! 
 
The storm door slams behind him. Mom leaps from the couch, screams for Dad, and runs outside. 

Mom: Teddy?!?! Teddy?!?!

Dad: *Expletive* Where did he go?

Nice woman: He’s right over here…playing with Tinker and Belle!

Mom: Oh gosh, I am so so sorry. I hope he didn’t scare you.

Nice woman: Of course not! He is adorable!

Dad: Well, please excuse us, this has never happened before and it won’t happen again.

Nice woman: No worries. Have a nice evening. 

Dad picks up Teddy and starts the walk back home. Meanwhile in the house… 

Layla: Oh lord…he actually did it. I am going to hide in my kennel. Hurry boys! They’re coming back!

Harry: Wait for me!! I’m going with you!

Ringo: I’m going to hide behind the counter. They will never find me there.

Mom: That’s it guys. You have lost front door privileges!!! You cannot just barrel out the door and run down the street. You nearly gave me a heart attack. Now get upstairs and think about what you have done!!

Teddy: (saunters past Harry and Layla) So totally worth it! Those girls were awesome.  He he he!!

Teddy and Harry (before front door privelges were revoked)
 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Feature Friday


This weeks Feature Friday comes all the way from Panama City, Florida. We caught up with Ernie this week and this is what he had to say:

LoD: We know you live in Florida, how is that treating you?
Ernie: Florida has been tough on me! The summer heat is unkind to my dense physique...and I miss frolicking in and eating fresh Midwestern snow!

LoD: What is your favorite quote?
Ernie: “Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it goes away.” ― Paul Terry

LoD: When you have 30 minutes of free time what do you do?
Ernie: Everyone seems to think that I just snooze all day, rising from my couch nest only to eat meals of fresh meat and kibble (that costs more than what my human family eats) and relieve myself. But that is just not true. I am constantly supervising my dad. Whenever Dad messes something up, you can be sure it was because I took a much-needed 30-minute break... and wasn't there to watch over him.

LoD: Thousands of homeless dogs wand to know, how did you find yourself such an awesome home?
Ernie: On February 15th 2009, my Aunt Sarah crossed paths with me at a PetSmart adoption event. She knew my mom was looking for a pup like Ellie, and I seemed like a good match! She called Mom and told her that if she didn't come look at me, she was going to sit on the floor of PetSmart all night! Mom grabbed her checkbook (because let's face it...who's going to drive all the way to PetSmart and NOT bring a pup home?!), and found Aunt Sarah sitting on the floor with me. When her eyes met mine, I knew it was love...there was no way she could resist someone this obscenely good-looking and charming, and all wrapped up in a slightly-obese orange package!

LoD:We've heard rumors that you are a bit of a diva, can you confirm this?
Ernie: My family loves to share the classic 'King Ernie' incident. One summer evening in Ohio, I found myself sprawled out atop mom and dad's king sized bed (with freshly-laundered down comforter), my block-head on dad's memory foam pillow, and my paws in the air. Mom proceeded to shovel spoonfuls of Oreo frozen custard into my mouth with one hand, and rub my belly with her other hand. As an aside, I don't understand why this qualifies me as a diva...this should be part of every dog's daily routine.

LoD: Last question, what are you wearing for Halloween?
Ernie: I'm going to be a pilot!!









Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday!

This is Teddy, he is a manly boy dog. . .so we put him in a tutu. Make's total sense.

Read more about him here: Teddy's Interview With Life of Drool




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

10 Signs That You're a Crazy Dog Person

10.) Your dog gets the prime spot on the couch
9.) You are on a 1st name basis at the local Petsmart
 
8.) You've gone to work with drool stains on your pants
(happens at least twice a week around here)
7.) You've ever thought to yourself: "Well, just one more dog won't hurt."
Our litter of foster babies
6.) You spend more money on dog food than you do on your own meals.

5.) Your cell phone has more pictures of your dog than of your spouse/kids/friends.

4.) Your black clothing looks as if it were actually made of fur.

3.) You can visually determine which of your dogs made that pile of poo on the floor in your kitchen.
 
2.) You wake up, freezing cold, with a back/neck/whole body ache after sleeping on one square foot of your mattress. But hey, the dogs have never slept better!
Source: Off the Leash

1.) You have turned down social invitations to stay home and hang out with your dog.
(Confession: I skipped a wine tasting last week to sit on the couch and watch my dogs sleep)

Source: someecards

How many of these signs are you guilty of?
8-10: Full blown crazy
5-7: On the verge
2-4: Relatively sane
0-1: Do you even have a dog?!?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Harrison

Today is a special day. Exactly two years ago today I fell in love. 
 
His name was Valentino, at the time, and I was called to the local high kill shelter to meet him. I had just recently lost my foster puppy after a nasty battle with distemper and I was heartbroken. My husband and I were emotionally exhausted and we weren’t ready to put ourselves out there again. But, at the insistence of some of our rescue volunteers, I climbed in the car and drove to the shelter.
“I’m here to see Valentino,” I mentioned to one of the shelter employees.
The man’s eyes lit up. “I hope you’re prepared to take him home. He is going to melt your heart.”
“We’ll see about that,” I responded with a hint of irritation. 
Just then, my eyes were drawn to a large blue fawn colored male. His muscular front legs did the majority of the work as his back legs limped toward me. He was clearly in agony, yet he greeted me with a tail wag and a kiss. His amber eyes looked up at me, pleading with my soul. “Get me out of here.”
My heart ached for this beautiful dog. He deserved a chance at a happy life, and the odds weren’t in his favor. The sick and injured dogs are always the first to be euthanized when the shelter exceeds capacity.
I sat in the grass and gently rubbed his ears and waited for my husband to arrive.  
“Well, we certainly can’t leave him here,” my husband said as he approached. “You may as well go get his paperwork in order so we can take him home today.”
                ***
We re-named him Harrison (after the famous Beatle). After several vet visits and a trip to a veterinary specialist, Harry’s diagnosis was determined. It was discospondylitis, a severe infection in his spine that had eroded his vertebrae and caused them to shift and impinge his spinal cord.  He was in agonizing pain, but with the proper treatment, it could be cured.
We spent the next several months carrying Harry up and down 2 flights of stairs to potty. He received daily antibiotics and pain medication and slowly but surely he started to gain strength. Finally, he was well enough to be placed up for adoption. But, I couldn’t stand the thought of him going to anyone else. For me, it was love at first sight. Harry’s uplifting, magnetic spirit captured me and he was mine.
Sometimes a dog wiggles and wags their way so far into your life that you just can’t let them go and in the rescue community, we call this a “foster fail.”
So, happy birthday to my wonderful Harrison. You are my heart and soul. You are my greatest failure and I love you forever.



 
 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Relaxing Saturday

We had some more beautiful weather here today. So, while the husband stayed inside and watched football, I headed outside to enjoy the sunshine, and get some exercise with one dog at a time. (No frenetic pack of animals walking down the street this time!)

I brought my camera along to snap pictures of the crew while we were out. Teddy's demodex mange has completely resolved so he was in need of some "after" pictures to show his transformation.

It was nice to have one on one time with each of the dogs. Of course, they didn't enjoy it as much as I did...the Drool Crew hates pictures! I swear they're just like children sometimes.

I did manage to get some really great shots. However, these photos may have involved me making various animal sounds to get their attention (Disclaimer: some pride was harmed during the shoot).

We'll be posting the new pictures throughout the upcoming week, but for now, here are a few of the outtakes:

Teddy, Ringo, and Harrison



Friday, September 20, 2013

Feature Friday

This Friday we are featuring Grimm Dog the Pittie from Kansas City, Missouri. Yesterday, we caught up with Grimm and his mom and this is what they had to say:


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Breed Specific Legislation...it's the pits

President Obama’s recent commentary against breed specific legislation has brought national attention to the issue. Breed specific legislation (an ongoing thorn in the sides of many pit bull rescuers and owners) was created with the intent of enhancing public safety, but this legislation has failed to follow through on such intent.


Breed specific legislation (BSL) is defined as “a statute or regulation that is directed toward one or more specific breeds of dogs”. BSL operates under the assumption that a breed of dog is inherently dangerous, regardless of the individual dog’s history and behavior. While BSL has been applied to a variety of different breeds (including Rottweilers, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, and Doberman Pinschers) the vast majority of BSL is directed toward pit bulls.
BSL began in the early 1980s in Florida, in response to a perceived growth in the number of serious injuries engendered by dogs of certain breeds (i.e. pit bulls). In 1980, an ordinance passed in Hollywood, Florida required resident owners of pit bull dogs to complete special registration forms and possess $25,000 of liability insurance. This ordinance incited the development of countless more ordinances, and it wasn’t long before BSL had been implemented in hundreds of cities across the country.
The problem with this type of legislation is that there is no proof of its efficacy. Numerous studies conducted in various communities with BSL have failed to find any convincing data that this breed specific strategy is working. In fact, some reports have shown that the enactment of legislation against one breed has resulted in a counter-increase in bite incidents from other, unregulated, breeds. For example, in 2005 in Council Bluffs, Iowa the number of Boxer and Labrador Retriever bites and total dog bites increased following a pit bull ban.
Here are just a few reasons behind the futility of BSL:  
  1. There is no credible evidence that any particular breed of dog is more prone to biting. Controlled studies by the American Veterinary Medical Association have shown that pit bull type dogs are no more inherently dangerous than any other breed of dog.  
  2. Breed identification is a subjective and unreliable guessing game. A Matrix Canine Research Institute survey of over 600 people ranging from animal experts to the general population found that only 2% of people surveyed were able to correctly identify an American Pit Bull Terrier without also incorrectly identifying a different breed as an APBT (in fact, none of the animal control personnel or veterinarians surveyed were able to correctly delineate the various breeds).
  3. BSL takes dogs out of the hands of law-abiding citizens and drives them underground into the hands of more nefarious owners.
  4. Any breed can become dangerous when they’re raised to be aggressive (whether intentionally or unintentionally)
  5. Focusing primarily on the breed of dog at fault often results in the neglect of human and environmental factors that contribute to dog bites.
This is not to say that there should be no legislation. Dangerous dogs can become a significant problem if not properly addressed by the community. In contrary to BSL, many studies have shown positive effects following the initiation of well researched breed-neutral legislation. The general consensus is that the institution of breed-neutral legislation allows law enforcement officials to focus their efforts on enforcing dog license laws, leash laws, animal fighting laws, and sterilization laws; thus attacking the problem at its core.
In summary, it is widely accepted amongst the animal rescue community that breed specific legislation is ineffective and that a breed-neutral approach to dog bite prevention is a better alternative for resolving issues surrounding dangerous dogs in the community. Better outcomes can be achieved by encouraging responsible ownership. With community support, animal welfare organizations can help these efforts through the promotion of education, training, and supervision along with offering population control via low-cost spay/neuter clinics. 


National organizations against BSL:
  • Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  • The Humane Society of the United States
  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
  • American Bar Association
  • American Kennel Club (AKC)
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • National Animal Control Associates
  • The National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors 
 
States that prohibit their municipalities from passing breed-specific laws:
California*, Colorado*, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia
  • Certain Colorado municipalities (i.e. Denver) have passed and enforced BSL by claiming "home rule" status
  • California does not have breed bans, but does have breed specific spay/neuter policies
Sources



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Nice Autumn Stroll

We had the most beautiful weather yesterday. Our daytime high had dropped 30 degrees from just a few days before. The evening was cool and crisp, with a slight overcast. It felt like fall, and man. . .do I love fall.

Fall is the best season. I am always re-energized by the first signs of its wonderful weather, and yesterday was no different. I rushed home from work excited to spend some much needed time with the drool crew. My husband and I decided on a nice Autumn stroll with our crew.  With the terrible summer heat, walks have been on the back burner for awhile now, so we were excited to finally get back into the swing of things.

Our anticipation was easily surpassed by the dogs’ excitement. Upon announcing our upcoming walk, the house became complete chaos. Harry, Layla, and Ringo know what “walk” means and the mention of the word sent the three of them into a panting, drooling, dancing, mania. Teddy does not yet comprehend the word so he trotted around the house…looking for the source of his siblings’ excitement.


After fifteen minutes of wrestling with leashes we went off up the street. It didn’t take long for my husband and I to realize that this was going to be a challenge. The dogs were going every direction but forward and we looked like walking Maypoles. (Please. . .no one tell Cesar!)

As we walked, I found myself wondering what was going on in everyone’s head. I imagine it went something like this:

Harrison: Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Walk time! Best day ever!
Layla: Must be in front of the boys. Have to stay in front. Hurry up Mom!
Ringo: I wonder what this bush smells like
Teddy: Where are we going? Are we going to the park? Can we go to the…Hey! What is Ringo smelling?!?
Layla: Have to stay in front. Don’t want to look at their butts. Butts are gross.
Ringo: I wonder what this lamp post smells like
Harrison: Where are all the people? When we walk, people admire me. Where are all the people?
Mommy: Please don’t poop. Please don’t poop. Please don’t poop.
Teddy: Why is Layla in such a hurry? Maybe there is something cool up front…
Layla: Back off Teddy. I’m in front. Why won’t Mom hand me to Dad? I need to be in front.
Harrison: Ooh! There’s a gas station…time to pull out my show dog prance. Dang! Nobody’s here…must find people!!
Ringo: I wonder what this bus stop smells like. Eew…that’s definitely not canine.
Teddy: Oh! Ringo smelled the bus stop. I must smell the bus stop. Eew…that’s definitely not canine.
Layla: Pick up the pace boys…I’m smoking you guys. Why don’t you focus on the task at hand?
Daddy: I wish I was home watching football.
Mommy: Please don’t poop. Please don’t poop. Please don’t poop.
Harrison: WHERE ARE ALL OF MY ADMIRERS?!?!
Ringo: Ooh! A flower bed! Must trample!
Layla: These boys are a bunch of clowns. I am the best walking partner ever. I deserve a major award.
Teddy: If I stop suddenly then Dad trips. He he. Stop…Go…Stop…Go. Harry was right. Walks are fun!
Daddy: I’m going to break my neck.
Harrison: All this walking and not a single person to admire my handsomeness. *sigh*
Mommy: Please don’t poop. Please don’t poop. Please don’t poop.
Layla: Eyes on the prize boys…we’re almost home.
Ringo: This well manicured lawn is the perfect place to poop.
Harrison: Well if Ringo pooped then I can poop.
Teddy: Hey! Everybody’s pooping. That sounds fun!
Mommy: Thank God I brought bags.
Daddy: Thank God we’re home.
 
The Drool Crew (post walk)



Monday, September 16, 2013

Stop #1: The Road to Becoming A Therapy Dog

From the day I met Harrison, I have known there was something therapeutic about him.

He has this amazing, unexplainable, ability to sense sadness and pain. Harry has never missed an opportunity to strategically position himself beneath my hand when I need it most. His soft fur feels like cashmere and his giant head provides a comforting weight in the lap of those who welcome him. His sensitive soul, combined with his engaging and relaxed attitude, make him the ideal candidate for becoming a therapy dog.


A therapy dog is a dog that visits various places in the community (hospitals, nursing homes, schools, hospices, etc.) and provides affection and comfort to people in need. A therapy dog’s primary job is to remain calm while allowing people to pet/hug/cuddle with them. It requires a gentle disposition and a confident personality that can accept an abundance of friendly strangers. Becoming a therapy dog is no easy feat. Along with acquiring the appropriate training, there are many hoops to jump through before a dog is allowed to go out and begin spreading love.
Sunday morning, Harry took his first step toward achieving this goal. We met with Skip, of Daiger Dog Training (http://www.daigerdogtraining.com) to discuss Harry’s potential and work on a few necessary aspects of training. We practiced getting and keeping his focus and played a game of “Harry ping pong”. This basically entails Skip and I sitting on opposite sides of the room before taking turns saying his name. If he made eye contact he would receive positive reinforcement in the form of a treat. 

Harry’s biggest obstacle is lying down. Skip explained to me that certain breeds of dogs (especially bully breeds) are not naturally inclined to this command and that it would just take some patience and lots of treats. Aside from these minor training issues, Skip felt that Harry had the perfect temperament for a therapy dog.
In the afternoon, Harry and I spent some time downstairs alone, working on our “down” command. He had me in hysterics (and covered in drool) because every time I moved the treat along the floor to try to coax him down he showered me with kisses. Eventually we managed to achieve several “downs” and Harry was rewarded with some play time with his new rope toy.
For now, we are going to continue training until I feel that he is ready to take his Canine Good Citizen Test. Hopefully he will be ready for it soon!!

Riley is available for adoption at http://www.mprgroup.net/dogs/riley.html.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cuddle Buddies!



I often find my drool crew in various adorable positions. It's always a challenge to snap the picture without waking them.  I imagine it is pretty entertaining to watch me slowly slide off the couch and tiptoe across our creaky floor to get the camera. I am about as sneaky as an elephant on bubble wrap.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sometimes We Never Grow Up!

 

Titania's Story

Titania’s life has been one of disappointment. Several years ago, she ended up as a stray in one of Kansas City’s busiest shelters. She was over-bred, underweight, and dirty. Even so, she still managed to catch the eye of one Missouri Pit Bull Rescue volunteer. This volunteer was quickly walking the aisles of the overcrowded shelter, looking for potential dogs to pull into rescue. As she approached Titania’s kennel, her brisk pace slowed and she paused momentarily. She made a note to herself to come back the next day to evaluate Titi and pull her into the rescue.

The volunteer kept true to her word and returned the next day to find that kennel empty. A small sign on the kennel door read “adopted.” The volunteer felt relieved, yet sad. There was something special about Miss Titi and hopefully her new adopter would recognize that.

Flash forward a couple of years. That same volunteer was at the same shelter, making the same rounds, when again something caused her to pause. She stopped in front of one of the kennels and admired the dog. There was a sense of déjà vu. Had she met this dog before? Her mind was running through the thousands of dogs she’d encountered over the years. Then as the dog smiled up at her, her memory flashed to Titania. Is it possible that Titania had found herself in the shelter again?

A quick microchip scan confirmed her theory and the volunteer made plans to pull her… this time immediately. Titi left the shelter that day and quickly became a volunteer favorite at MPR. Short and squatty and spotted like a cow, it was hard not to smile in her presence. She could snuggle with the best of them and was one heck of a napping buddy.



Months passed and Titi remained with MPR. Her behavior with other dogs limited her adoption potential. She needed to be an only pet. But this delay didn't phase Titi; she watied patiently. She was happy with MPR and MPR was happy with her.

During her stay with MPR it was discovered that she had an ACL tear, yet another setback in her adoptability. A lot of money was needed for the surgery and (as it always is in rescue) money was tight.

This began several months of fundraising efforts. Finally, after months of Facebook pleas, MPR was able to schedule her surgery. And thanks to MPR’s generous supporters, Titi’s ACL was successfully repaired on 9/5/2013.

So with tears in my eyes, I am happy to announce that today is a special day. Today is the end of Titi’s previous life and the beginning of her "happily ever after."
 
Today, after over a year with MPR, Titi is going home…and we couldn’t be happier. These are the days that rescue workers live for. There are times when days like this seem few and far between, but these days make all of the bad days worthwhile.
 
It is with a mixture of smiles and tears that we say farewell to Titania. We know her new life will be filled with love and happiness, but she will forever occupy a special place in our hearts. 

So, goodbye Miss Titi. Your unconditional love and resilient spirit has been an inspiration to us all.

All photos were taken by Missouri Pit Bull Rescue volunteers

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Separation Anxiety

As a rescue volunteer and foster mom, I have encountered my fair share of separation anxiety. Although the causes of separation anxiety can vary from dog to dog, many experts believe that it develops as a reaction to a traumatic event (such as being dumped at a shelter) or major change in family routine. Whatever the cause, separation anxiety is difficult to deal with and is one of the more common reasons that adopted animals are returned to shelters. Today's blog entry is written in response to a few of my rescue friends who are experiencing these anxiety issues for the first time. 

Upon first entering our home, Layla attached herself to us immediately. It was as if she’d waited her entire life for our home and she never wanted us to leave her sight ever again. She followed us from room to room. When we sat, she sat, but as soon as one of us moved she felt compelled to follow. Hey, if you won the lottery you wouldn’t just set your winnings down and wander off would you?



 Photo: Courtesy of Caity and her foster dog Shatoosh
“Isn’t it cute that she is so attached to us?!?” I exclaimed to my husband that first day. It felt nice to be needed. I felt like I had a purpose beyond my usual role of “filler of the food bowl” and “scooper of the poop”. This dog REALLY needed me.

We returned home from dinner that night to quite the surprise. Layla had shredded the entire plastic liner of her crate. The door of the crate had been bent and pried open. All of the cushions had been pulled off the furniture, puddles of drool covered the windows, and there was blood everywhere. In the process of escaping, she had scraped her muzzle raw. There were cuts extending from the tip of her nose to her eyes. She looked terrible.
Obviously, this level of attachment was unhealthy and her anxiety was heartbreaking.  So I immediately took to the internet for suggestions and just started trying them. There was a lot of trial and error in those first few months.
We started with the obvious suggestions:

·    We left the TV and radio on.
·    We moved her kennel into the living room so she didn’t feel isolated.
·    We tried leaving her out of the kennel (BAD idea! That was not a good day).
·    We reinforced the kennel with extra-strength zip ties.
·    We left “indestructible” toys in her kennel (FYI, this toy company’s claim was quickly proven otherwise).  

We also began working on desensitization and counterconditioning:

·    We started by leaving the house for short periods of time. Several times a day, my husband and I packed up our stuff, left the house, and sat on our front porch for 5-10 minutes before going back inside. I’m sure our neighbors wondered why we were always sitting outside staring at our watches, but if that’s the weirdest thing they saw me do then I consider myself lucky.
·    Upon returning, we ignored Layla for another 5-10 minutes to show her that our return was nothing exciting or celebratory.  
·    We gradually increased the amount of time we were gone, but each time we left the house in exactly the same way. We put on our shoes, turned on the TV, put her in her kennel, and left the house. Any deviation from this routine and Layla returned to her old ways. The worst part about this strict routine is that you cannot go back if you forget something. There were quite a few days when my lunch consisted of greasy cafeteria food instead of the healthy packed lunch that I had inadvertently left behind in our fridge.  

Over time, (I’d estimate about 6-12 months), her anxiety improved. We no longer dreaded coming home. Also, the addition of Harry to the family made a world of difference in her confidence. I don’t recommend going out and getting another dog to solve separation anxiety, but in this instance, it helped tremendously.
In summary, there a hundreds of resources out there for separation anxiety, but below is my list of tried and true solutions. Remember, these things take patience and commitment. It is very important to stick with it and be consistent!


1.       Leave the TV/radio on
2.       Move the crate to a more central location in the home (no basements, closets, garages, etc.)
3.       Reinforce the crate with extra-strength zip ties or metal clips
4.       Leave a high value treat/toy in their kennel. Many people have success with Kongs stuffed with peanut butter and then frozen overnight. Others have results with stuffed toys or blankets that smell like them.
5.       If you have other dogs, try crating them all in the same room.
6.       Keep a strict routine. Leave the house the same way every time.
7.       Do not acknowledge them when you return home and they are in their excited state. This helps the dog learn that your return is nothing extraordinary and should be accepted as routine.
8.       Desensitization and counterconditioning exercises
9.       If the crate is absolutely not working, then you can try leaving your dog loose yet still in a confined space (i.e. bedroom, kitchen with baby gate, laundry room). But if you come home to find your kitchen cabinets destroyed, don’t say that I didn’t warn you!!
10.   Seek professional help. There are anxiolytic medications that can be prescribed when all else fails.
Here is an excellent resource for desensitization and counterconditioning tips:

And as always, any additional tips are welcomed in the comment section below!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Waiting for Mommy

Harry and Layla wait patiently for me to come home from work tonight. With the blinds open, they watch intently, ears perking with each passing car. But car after car fails to slow and my usual parking spot remains vacant. Many minutes pass, yet their resolve remains strong. They are determined.
 
Dinner will be served when Mommy gets home and they are hungry.

They wait…and wait…and wait…


 


...Sadly, it looks like hunger won this battle.

Score
Hunger: 1
Harry and Layla: 0

Maybe next time guys. Maybe next time.



P.S. I was only 10 minutes late.

Monday, September 9, 2013

So you want a dog...TODAY!

I am the poster child for poor impulse control. I am a frequent purchaser of grocery checkout-line candy, I can’t shop online without paying through the nose for overnight shipping, and I adopted my first dog on a whim from PetSmart without even asking my husband’s permission. Believe me, I fully understand the notion that when you want something, you want something NOW.

But a lot of times these impulse purchases don’t pan out as well as I had hoped. When I zip up my skinny jeans, it is apparent that my waistline absolutely did not need that package of peanut butter cups. And my newly sprained ankle is living proof that I have no business wearing those 5 inch stiletto ankle booties that looked so incredible online.

Eleanor Rigby ("Ellie"), 2006-2012

The same principle applied to my first dog, Ellie. I was at the store buying cat food when this beautiful, athletic dog ran up to me with a huge smile. She must have sensed I was a total sucker and she wasted no time in throwing herself in my impulsive path.

I left the store that day (sans cat food) dragging a new wire crate, a grossly overpriced dog bed, and a dog that I had met not even 15 minutes earlier. I knew nothing about pit bulls. I was blissfully unaware of the negative perception surrounding the breed and oblivious to the responsibility that my new companion had placed on my shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, Ellie turned out to be a fabulous dog, but a little education could have gone a long way in helping my sanity those first few months.

When it came time to get a second dog, we knew we wanted another pit bull, but we also knew that we needed the right fit for our situation. This time, my husband and I decided to do it his way. This is a man that has never impulsively done anything (I swear, he once spent weeks researching which brand of canned tuna was the best prior to making a tuna salad sandwich). So after much research, we decided upon a local breed specific rescue.

There are lots of benefits to adopting from a smaller rescue group. These groups operate by pulling dogs from overcrowded city shelters and placing them in foster homes where they are treated as members of the family. The foster homes spend time evaluating them, training them, and loving them. They commit an enormous amount of time and emotional energy into rehabilitating these dogs.

The vast majority of these smaller rescue groups are entirely volunteer run. These volunteers have full time jobs, families, and dogs of their own. They dedicate their free time to helping needy dogs find perfect homes. The volunteers divvy up the rescue responsibilities and tackle the necessary tasks when they have a free moment during their day. It is not the most efficient method of rehoming dogs, but it is arguably the best. In my experience, dogs adopted from small group rescues are better equipped to handle life in a loving home. They have worked on housebreaking and basic manners and they are accompanied by a wealth of education from experienced rescue volunteers.

The process of adopting from small rescue groups is arduous and intrusive (a week with your mother in-law can feel less interrogative). They want references, veterinary checks, and home visits. They work very hard to ensure the best fit for each dog they commit to helping, but sometimes it feels excessive.

Why do they need to know all of this? Isn’t enough that you want to give a dog a loving home…why do they have to delve into you personal life and why does it have to take so long? Don’t they know that there are plenty of other places you can get a dog without all of this judgment?!?

The answer is yes; they realize it is intrusive and painstakingly slow. And yes, they are fully aware that you could get a dog elsewhere. But no, they aren’t judging you. They are, however, judging your situation and whether or not that situation is suitable for the dog you are interested in bringing home.

Whenever I get frustrated with the process, I consider the situation from their perspective. They love these dogs. These dogs sleep in their beds, play with their children, and greet them at the door when they come home from work. It must be unbelievably hard to dedicate months of love and affection to a dog; then one day turn around and deliver that dog to their new, permanent home.

So as I sit here on my couch surrounded by my rescued dogs, I have to say that I appreciate the love and care that they received during their transition to my home. And I am very glad that for once, I was patient.

These guys were worth the wait.