Cracking Jack’s Shell


We’re not always so lucky to turn around a puppy mill dog in a week, but boy, is Jack resilient! I may not be an animal expert, but after 28 foster dogs I feel like I’ve come up with a pretty good methodology for rehabilitating these guys (I know, a lot of you out there have me beat, but I still no longer consider myself a rookie). The trick?

a) Give them time to settle in and let them come to you
b) Keep their world small at first (thank you, Lisa from MLAR) and take every precaution that they don’t bolt
c) Slowly give them more and more freedom to make decisions
d) Set them up for success

As a practical example, Jack was very fearful when he came to us last week. I have a very difficult time putting his harness and leash on him, and he wouldn’t go outside if I was standing by the door. We had to do a little bit of “dancing” to herd him around the house, but it was okay – I knew he would come around. One thing Jack did want to do was sit next to me on the couch. He was terrified if I picked him up or went to him, but he would come to me. Great! We just went with that for a while.

To get him more comfortable with being approached, I always went to him with a treat. After a while, I think he saw me as one giant hot dog. Again, great! Now we can put the harness on him easily, and I can even pick him up.

As far as keeping his world small, I crate him when I’m not home, and for the most part he hangs out in two rooms in my house and my very small yard. He was definitely a flight risk when I first got him, so any time we went outside he was on leash, which I was constantly gripping tightly to make sure I didn’t lose him. He did try to bolt several times.

We went to the dogpark at times when it wasn’t very crowded to acclimate him to other dogs and work on recall. He caught on to “come” very quickly, and while he’s not bombproof yet, he is much less of a flight risk now and he does come when called. He’d much more comfortable with other dogs, too.

I’ve been slowly giving Jack more freedom, and it is working out well. Now, when I take him to my trapeze rig (yes, I said that), he gets to run around in the field with the other dogs. He spends his time between where we sit and running back into the car with Bill (it’s just a few feet away, and Bill loves to just sit on the floor of the car). If he starts wandering, we call him and he comes back. He’s doing great!

In terms of setting him up for success, I still crate him when I’m not home to reinforce that we don’t potty in the house. The potty training has been coming along well, but I see any accidents as major setbacks, so I try to avoid them at all costs. He doesn’t love being crated, but I think he likes it much better than getting yelled at. At night, as I mentioned, Bill cuddles in the crate with him (weirdo!).

Jack is an awesome dog who turns heads everywhere he goes with his cuteness. I hope he finds the perfect forever home soon. Anyone would be lucky to have him.

Fleas!


Living in Colorado, we don’t really see a lot of fleas. In fact, I had never seen one before yesterday! My new foster, Jack, had been scratching a lot, so I put some flea and tick medicine on him. The next day, when he hopped off the couch, I noticed a bunch of little brown things that looked like flaxseeds (how “Boulder” is that? I though fleas were flaxseeds!). Anyway, upon further inspection, I noticed they were fleas. How gross! But at least they were dead.

Then I saw a live one jumping off Bill! Aargh! I got the vaccuum, cleaned the couch and the floors, and washed my sheets in very hot water. Hopefully we’re done with that now. Jack is still scratching, but I haven’t seen any fleas since. Nevertheless, I’m scratching at imaginary fleas because I keep thinking they’re crawling on me!

Aside from the fleas, Jack is doing great. He’s got the biggest brown eyes and he’s very intelligent. He’s skittish if I approach him, but he always wants to be next to me if I’m sitting down. He’s snoring next to me right now; he’s got the sweetest little sigh when he snores. It’s as if he knows life is going to be good from here on out.

Jack and Bill are funny together. Jack tried to play, but Bill has been grumpy. He doesn’t even humor him, so then Jack comes and tries to play with me. I think he’ll get the hang of toys in no time. I don’t know what is up with Bill – he’s really got an affinity for crates when they belong to other dogs. He won’t sit in it when no other dogs are here, but when I want another dog to sleep in the crate, Bill crawls right in and makes himself comfortably. Twice this week I’ve just shoved Jack in there with him, and they sleep the night together in the crate. It’s very cute!

Today Jack and I are going to work some more on recall. He hasn’t had a potty accident in over 24 hours, so please cross your fingers that we’re done with that! I don’t think I can handle cleaning up fleas and pee on the same day. This is nothing new, though. The first few days with new fosters can be hard, but Bill does a great job getting them up to speed on home life. Jack is almost at the point where he knows to follow Bill around, which is a big improvement.

Last night Jack jumped onto the couch next to me, put his head on my shoulder, and stared up into my eyes. What a sweet boy! Those are the moments that make this all worthwhile.

Jack’s Catching On!


Jack came to us on Friday from a Missouri puppy mill. That’s the same place Bill had come from (don’t know if it was the same mill), so the two hit it off great. Jack is very skittish but he warms up quickly…although, he also forgets quickly that he just warmed up to you!

He’s been with us for two nights now. The first night he darted around the house all night long. We tried to let him sleep in bed with us (Harleigh was in the crate), but he just wouldn’t sit still, which really sucked because we had to fly Harleigh down to her new home the next morning, and we didn’t get a good night of sleep.

The next night we decided we would crate him, but before he could go in the crate, Bill did! Jack really likes being near Bill, so we did the most logical thing – we crated them together for the night! It was so cute, and they slept pretty quietly. Honestly, I missed having Bill cuddled up next to me, but it was really nice to actually get a good night of sleep. I’m sure Jack will settle down as he gets more comfortable.


Jack took what was probably his longest real walk yesterday, and he did great. He’s definitely not trustworthy not to bolt off-leash just yet, but he walked with us for the most part (he laid down to take a break once, poor guy – it was only a mile!).

Jack is a VERY cute dog. He’s kind of unique looking, like he’s a French Bulldog-mix or something. I don’t think he is, but his ears are GIGANTIC and he’s got squat, little legs. He’s got a great personality, but he definitely needs to be in a home with another dog to help show him the ropes.

Our rescue is actually so full that we’re not taking in any new foster dogs this month. I hope I can find Jack a home soon so I can open my doors to the next Boston Terrier in needs. In the meantime, Dylan, Bill, and I will do our best to get him potty-trained and more comfortably with humans.

The Stork

All week we had been trying to fly Harleigh to her new home in Canon City, CO, which is a 2.5 hour drive (1.25 hour flight) away. After being thwarted by the weather for several days, we finally made it! Her new family is wonderful – an older couple who lost their dog a few months ago. They have a wonderful home with a dog door that goes through a cabinet in the kitchen out to a ramp that Harleigh can mosey down to get into the yard. She got it first try!


Harleigh was a great passenger in the plane, spending most of the time sitting on the floor in the back. I, on the other hand, wasn’t feeling so hot. The flight was really turbulent, and the bumps were wreaking havoc on my stomach. I was actually kind of pleased when weather rolled in, and we couldn’t go home for a few hours because I didn’t think I could hack it in the bumpy plane for another hour and a half.

After waiting out the nearby thunderstorms, we again took flight, but this time to a wonderfully smooth sky. We even saw an awesome rainbow:

One of the biggest struggles of this trip were that we had Bill and a new foster dog, Jack, at home, and nobody to let them out (my parents were out of town). We hadn’t made arrangements for anyone to stop by because we thought we would be home quickly, but when we couldn’t get back, I had to scramble to find someone to let them out. Our friend Gary came over, and as I expected, called me 10 minutes into hanging out at our house to tell me that neither dog would get off our bed. Big surprise! Bill’s glued to that thing. Anyway, Gary ended up chasing them around the house to shoo them outside but finally was successful. Thanks, Gary!

So I was telling someone at the airport about how we took some puppies up to Rock Springs, WY to be adopted a few weeks ago, and the said, “You fly the “babies” to their new homes? You’re like a stork!” I thought that was really cute. If only we had our own plane, we could paint a stork on it!

Finally, a New Foster!


It’s been a long month. This was my first time teaching at the University of Colorado, and I have to admit, it was much harder than I expected! I’m glad I planned not to foster last month because I think it would have put me over the top.

Anyway, the month is through and we’ve finally received our new foster dog. Her name is Harleigh, and before she arrived I was told her family was moving into a small apartment and had to part with her. Uh…

Well, that may have been true, but honestly, good riddance. This poor dog came to me dirtier than I had ever seen from an “owner surrender.” Her face is still brown despite my best efforts to wipe away her tear stains and the dirt, but I’m sure that will go away in time. She obviously wanted attention when I met her, but if I went to her, she would cower to the ground. Her nails were bloody from digging out of something and she had just recently been bred. She wouldn’t eat or drink, and she was terrified of my other Boston, Bill. So sad!

It’s been three days now, and she has made huge strides. She even PLAYED with Bill today! (Woohoo!). She’s comfortably loafing on her side on the couch right now, and when I call her, she comes. She hiked today, probably for the first time ever, and she did a great job. She ate her breakfast and is starting to cower less. The trick? I just gave her time and space and let her come to me. She’s the perfect dog, even if she doesn’t yet know it: sweet, appreciative, attentive, doesn’t wander off, friendly to people and dogs. Whoever gets to adopt her will have to have a little bit of patience, but in the end, they will be very lucky!

He’ll Be Back

So it was the biggest news of the month, yet it’s taken me two weeks to blog about it. Why? Well, it might have something to do with the four or five books I’m juggling right now. It might have something to do with circus preparation (my hobby is flying trapeze, and our circus is coming up). Or maybe it’s just that I’m teaching at the University of Colorado this month for the first time and class is every day! Either way, sorry this news is coming to you so late, but it’s big. Are you ready? Drumroll…

MAX GOT ADOPTED! Yay! But it gets even better – Max got adopted by Madeline’s parents, whose home is a rancher with carpet! Additionally, since I frequently dogsit Madeline, I’m sure Max is going to be around a lot, too (I’ll be seeing them both tomorrow, in fact). This adoption really couldn’t have turned out better.

Here’s what Max had to say after his first day in his new home:

Hi Kyla

I am doing great. I was a bit upset and stressed after you left. I definitely would have preferred to go with Bill, but I mellowed out when I figured Madeline was here with me and she played with me. We went to the dog park out in Lyons, went for a good walk, met a horse, played in the sprinklers, and enjoyed the warm weather and tall grass. Whew, was I pooped out and slept in the car on the way home. I was really hungry when I got back to my new forever home. Then I got to sleep on the couch while my new forever family watched a movie on TV. Guess what? They let me sleep on the bed! But when I got up this morning and went potty, I came back into the bedroom and went back to sleep in my bed. I really like my new dad. He lets me give him lots of kisses and lets me sit in his lap and nap. Madeline and I have been playing outside in a really cool back yard. There’s a big tree and I like to lay in the grass under the tree. I also got a brand new red collar today. This home is sooo cool. I think I am going to like it here. Thank you for finding my new forever home. You are the best-est (!) and I will always appreciate you, and I love what you have done for me. I am excited that I know I will always get to visit Bill and you.
Your best friend,

Max

Awww! Joe and Kim, Max’s new parents, are so LUCKY to have such a great dog, and he’s lucky to have them, too!

Oops!

So it’s been a bit of a circus at our house. Bill and Max have had their friends, Lucy and Madeline, over. We’ve never had four dogs (plus two cats) in the house before, and it was wild! These guys just never stopped playing.

Anyway, we were on our way out to dinner, and I thought to crate the girls because Madeline is unreliable with potty-training, and Lucy wouldn’t stop playing with Max if I didn’t crate her. I wanted them to calm down. I put the girls in their crates and then turned to walk out the door, when I heard a quiet, “Meow.” I turned around to see:

Uh, oops! What’s Chewie doing in there? When I crated the girls, I forgot that Chewie has taken up the habit of sleeping in their crates when they aren’t “home.” We laughed so hard and couldn’t help but snap a few photos before letting Chewie run free. It’s a good he was stuck in there with Lucy and not Max because, well, let’s just say Max is a little “too interested” in him. In Lucy’s case, she actually looked grateful for the company, but by the way Chewie took off as soon as I opened the door, I could tell that he was equally grateful for his freedom.

A Chicken or a Duck?


Yesterday morning I awoke to find snow on the ground. The dogs and I had the same thought: “Really? Isn’t it almost May?” Bill could care less about snow; in fact, he really likes it. But Madeline and Max on the other hand, the white fluffy stuff is something they could do without.

After getting over the initial morning potty, I dressed Max in one of my favorite t-shirts for my petite Bostons – it’s a little yellow thing with a chick on the back. Or is it a duck? I’m really not sure, although now that I’m looking at it carefully (he’s still wearing it), I think it’s a duck. He doesn’t seem to quack when he wears it, but I think he’s much happier with it on. He seems to chill very easily.

The good news is that Max no longer has yellow snot coming out of his nose (I was sick last week and I think he caught a sympathy cold). We’ve had him on Clindamycin for a week and it seems to really be helping. I’ve also been giving him a children’s Benedryl each day and his eyes seem to be less red (though it’s hard to tell with the cherry eye). Overall there’s not much to report.

Madeline is going home on Sunday or Monday after a two-week vacation at “Camp Bill.” After that I’m sure we’ll settle back into our routine. I have no doubt that Bill and Max will keep each other entertained, as they’re on the floor together right now playing bitey-face, and Bill is making his usual, happy, Wookie noises.

Next Thursday is Max’s big day at CSU to find out what’s going on with his heart and leg. I’ll let you know what they say.

Max Should Be Named "Rocky"


We spent the last week dog-sitting a previous foster named Madeline, who is just the sweetest thing (you can meet her if you go back a few blog posts). She left on Saturday, and on Tuesday we got a new foster named Max. I was only told that he was rescued from a high kill shelter in Kentucky by a family who wanted to save him but couldn’t keep him. They held him for four months trying to find a family for him but ultimately had to turn him over to MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue’s care. Max is heartworm positive and began treatment on March 18th.

Well, the woman who sprung him has family in Colorado, so she delivered him to my doorstep on Tuesday. I thought I had prepared for him, borrowing a large crate from my wonderful neighbor and outfitting it with a cozy bed, food and water bowls, toys, and chewies. Max would be spending his next four weeks in there because with the heartworm treatment he has to be kept “quiet.” If he moves around too much the worms can migrate to his lungs or clot his blood, really causing problems. What I wasn’t ready for was a dog with two cherry eyes (the third eyelid gland is pushing up into his eyes – needs surgery), a broken front right leg that is now fused at the elbow, and an obvious neurological disorder in which he can’t get all of his legs to work together. This poor four-year-old dog should have been named “Rocky” because he’s apparently a fighter to have survived this far!

On the upside, Max is adorable and very friendly, although he gets a little “too excited” and bites my chin every time I take him out of his crate (ouch!). I really like him and want to see him thrive, though I’m baffled at where to begin helping him. I was thinking that first I would help him get through the heartworm, and then we would tackle his legs. After that we could deal with his eyes.

However, this morning when I awoke, Max was not responsive. He had pooped himself, his eyes were dilated and he was limp. Luckily my vet is open for regular business hours at 7am, so with tears in my eyes I rushed him to the vet (thanks, Dylan, for getting up early and holding him in the passenger seat). By the time we were at the vet, Max was responsive, moving his head around and responding to sound. His gums were very pale and the vet is concerned that he’s anemic on top of his heartworm. My concern is that he’s going to clot because just moving around is an exhausting activity for Max. The vet is doing some blood tests (he’s got the previous vet report so as to not repeat anything), and he’s got a fecal sample.

Please cross your fingers for Max. It was a terrible morning, but I’m more optimistic now that he is getting some care. He truly is a beautiful, loving dog, and after all he’s been through, he deserves to have some time in loving arms before going to the Bridge.

This is the hard thing about fostering. Max is our 26th foster dog, and though I haven’t lost one yet, it’s inevitable that it will happen sometime. This morning’s events really drove that point home. Regardless, I’ll love them until the end, and I’ll cry for them when they’re gone. But I WON’T STOP helping every lost little soul that crosses my path to the best of my ability.

Juno What, I Could Have Kept Her!


I never need to worry that we’ll be long without a foster dog for Bill to play with because MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue is just so darn busy! Juno, like Madeline (one of our last fosters), was a puppy mill breeder. However, unlike strangely well-adjusted Madeline, Juno did NOT want to be touched. She was inquisitive and wanted to be near, even taking cheese out of our hands, but as soon as we went to grab her, she was across the room. Poor girl – I had never seen a dog’s toenails cut (or broken?) back so far past the quick. She didn’t seem to be in pain but I can imagine her paws hurt her.

Juno was tiny for a Boston – maybe 14 lbs. (my fosters average about 20 lbs.). She was an easy dog, catching onto potty training and never grumbling about staying in her crate. I received her after she had been adopted out to the WRONG person, which I’m still confused about. He was a single, retired man who was frustrated that Juno’s previous foster didn’t properly prepare him for adopting a puppy mill dog (which I don’t believe) and he said he didn’t have time to help her get over her issues. Uh, didn’t he just say he was retired? he seemed like someone who just wanted to complain. BUT – these situations are exactly why I wrote the Mill Dog Manifesto a few months ago, a free eBook to help people socialize and understand their distressed, ex-mill dogs (check it out!).

The other thing that struck me as strange about the man adopting her was that Juno obviously needed to be in a home with another dog. When she came into my home, she went NUTS playing with Bill. For the four days I had her, Bill was her anchor – nothing was too bad when he was around. She even started getting brave with us petting her.

A few families applied for Juno, but the perfect one turned out to be only about 20 minutes away. The had adopted another distressed dog a year ago who had been tied to a tree for the first year of his life and had only eaten hay (yes, his stomach was full of hay when we got him). They brought him over to meet Juno and the two really hit it off. The only hitch was that I had forgotten to mention my cats, and their dog, Skippy, got a little too excited when he entered my home. Of course, instead of jumping up on something high, my one sassy cat decided to give him a piece of his mind, which only complicated things. But after a few minutes we had everybody rounded up and all was well.

The day after Juno went to her new home, I got Madeline back but this time only as a guest. Her new mom was going out of town for a week and asked me to dogsit. Madeline is a gem and we were more than happy to invite her back. But I wonder, did her mom really leave town or did she just want some cheap training for her? Just kidding, but I’m planning on giving her back with at least potty training and the words “come,” “sit,” and “stay.”

What a great end to the week.