Monday, June 30, 2008

A Different Kind of Foster Parent

I would love to foster a dog. It would help me get that “new dog” itch scratched but not truly tie us to having 4 dogs full time. I *think*.

It would also be really hard for me to let go if I got attached. And I don’t see how I wouldn’t get attached. :) I get attached to the dogs at Agility and they don’t come home with me.

Ginger’s Pet Rescue is looking for volunteers to foster small and large dogs. She will be getting 10 small dogs (under 20 pounds) and several larger dogs (over 50 pounds) this coming weekend. Can you help?

Most of the dogs are under three years old, are spayed/neutered, and up to date on shots. I’d really like to foster one or two of the larger dogs. I need to talk to hubby about it first though.

We’ve never fostered a dog. We have rescued a couple of dogs off the road and held them until we found their owners…but we’re talking hours not days, weeks, or months. Fostering a dog is a big responsibility, but is something that can mean life or death to a dog stuck in a kill shelter.

Have you ever fostered an animal? Or do you know someone who has? What are some tips that you can share?

Do you think it would be traumatic for our other dogs to have a new adult dog enter the pack, only to leave it later?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Too Hot For Living Souls

Today in the Pacific Northwest it is in the 90s. It’s a “dry” heat, which means absolutely nothing to me except that I know humidity is just more miserable. We’re not used to this kind of weather though. Summer has been slow in coming, and while I was getting tired of clouds, this heat is no fun for me or the dogs.

Animals can so easily overheat in this kind of weather. I was sick to my stomach yesterday as I drove home. I saw two different trucks with their dogs in the back beds. The dogs looked absolutely miserable - completely out in the open with no shelter (not to mention no security…but that’s another topic altogether) and I presume no water. Their tongues hanging out, panting so heavily I just wanted to roll down my window and yell at the drivers. It was worse because it was stop and go traffic on the freeway - it just seems hotter surrounded by all that pavement.

I was thinking about those dogs this afternoon when I took Quinn with me to the Post Office. I’m sure someone thought I was being abusive to her - taking her out in this heat. What they don’t know is that Quinn LOVES heat. Seriously LOVES it. She will lay out on our deck even in the hottest weather and won’t come in unless we force her. She was born in a hotter climate (Spokane, WA has much hotter summers) but she’s still a black and white dog. She will come in panting like mad but she just loves it. I wonder if the heat feels good on her old bones.

Anyway, my point is that I know my dogs and I knew that she could handle the short trip to the Post Office. I left all the windows down (it wasn’t too busy so I felt safe doing that) and could see her from the post office as I waited in line. I watched her carefully and was prepared to go back out if she looked distressed. She didn’t even pant for the first few minutes. :) And she purposely stayed in the sun with her head hanging out the window. She’s so cute. By the time I got out to my car (no more than 10 minutes) she was panting (not heavily) but still in the sun with head hanging out. I offered her a drink of water from my water bottle and she wasn’t that interested.

I know how my dogs react to heat. I could never have taken Trooper or Kodiak on that short trip. Both would have been absolutely miserable. I also know Quinn’s limits and if I’d left her much longer she would not have been comfortable. All animals have different tolerances.

We can’t even walk the dogs in this weather. In 70 degree heat they get so hot that after we’re done they go immediately to their kiddie pool. Trooper and Kodiak spar to see who can get in and dig around the fastest. It’s hilarious.

Quinn rarely gets in the pool.

So now, in this heat, we have our small air conditioner (window unit in the bedroom) going full blast with the fan blowing on high and the dogs are still inside panting. Our house gets full on sun until around 4 p.m. so it heats up very hot. I need to get curtains to keep the sun out and keep the house cooler. The only reason we got the AC unit was for Trooper. Before we got it the house would get to over 100 degrees. With all his extra fur he’d probably get heat stroke.

While the dogs are miserable, my cats are in heaven. They love to sun bathe and at their new house with grandma I hear they are enjoying laying by the sliding glass door in the sun even in this hot weather. But even cats can get overheated.

Stay cool everyone!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Home for Every Cat

I talk a lot about dogs here but I have a secret…I used to be terrified of dogs! I grew up with cats.

My mom tells a story about my dad, who did not want a pet, coming home and tossing a new kitten on the table and saying “here.” What a sweetie. LoL But I of course was in heaven. I’ve always loved cats. My mom brought one home once from the grocery store where someone was giving them away. I named him Izzy and he’s still alive 18 years later…though last I saw of him he was looking pretty ragged. Once I moved out he became an outdoor cat (much to my dismay) and the neighborhood Tom cat. He was a tough kid.

We had several other cats as I grew up but they didn’t survive long. One disappeared and mom told us that he probably crawled away and died…but who knows if another animal got him.

And of course my favorite kitty in the whole wide world was Sherbert. I was volunteering at the pound and he jumped from his cage onto my leg and it was instant love. He was the cutest little kitten and full of spunk. Of course my other two cats hated him but he grew up to be the boss. He had long orange hair and even won an award at a cat show as a kitten (though we didn’t make it a career…two shows was enough for us). Sadly, my sweet Sherbert snuck out of the house one night - he was too smart for his own good. He never came home. We found some fur and that’s it. I walked the neighborhood for hours and passed out fliers. I was desperate and sobbing.

I mention this just to show that I’m not all about the dogs…well, I am now, but I haven’t always. :)

So when I see kitties in need I get that longing to adopt again…though with our current Zoo it isn’t a good idea unless that cat is a Puma. =D I think Sherbert would have put Trooper in his place but Mischief and Jazmyn were too passive. They’re enjoying themselves at their grandma’s new home.

Then I found this amazing Home for cats and my heart just soared! An entire home just for kitties!!! I wish every unwanted kitty could live in their own home in peace and comfort. Old cats, sick cats, feral cats - cats that people don’t want or can’t take care of can live their lives.


If you’d like to donate to Caroline’s Kids your donation is tax deductible. They have some amazing expenses - they go through 2,400 pounds of liter a month!!!! WOW!

I wish I could do something amazing like this. My dream is to have a special farm where unwanted doggies can be safe and happy. Maybe one day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

When Cute Isn't Good

When you enter the house does your dog go a little nuts? Or does your dog go bananas?

Our dogs get really excited, but usually Quinn is just excited to be let outside to relieve her old lady bladder. Other than running to the back door to let her out I don’t greet my dogs in any exceptional way (usually). If they are acting extremely hyper I ignore them completely…not even saying hi until they calm down.

When I have to let them out of their kennel in the back yard they start jumping up and down (they seem to think they’re bunnies and not dogs) and yelping or howling. But until they sit down quietly they don’t get let out. I don’t say a word. I just stand there and look at them until they quite down.

My aunt was telling me about her dog, Lacey, and how cute it was that she misses her mommy so much. It turns out that Lacey was keeping my uncle up until all hours of the morning because my aunt was out late at an event. And when she finally got home Lacey followed her all around the house and wouldn’t let her out of her sight.

Cute? Maybe. But also unhealthy. The level of anxiety that Lacey felt was bad for her and bad for my uncle who had to get up at 5 a.m.

Of course, when my aunt got home she gave Lacey instant attention - petting and coddling her and reinforcing Lacey’s anxiety. And anxious dogs can become destructive dogs.

Being the quiet and shy person I am, I of course told my aunt that she should ignore Lacey when she gets home until Lacey is quiet and calm. We’ll see if that happens. Sometimes people LIKE the anxious attention their dogs give, thinking it’s cute and mistaking it for love. It’s actually quite unhealthy.

Giving our dogs (and cats) love sometimes means being tough. My mother in law thinks I’m mean when I make Trooper wait for his food…but he knows I love him and he knows that I am in charge. When I take him down (which I had to do the other day) when he growls at his brother at meal prep time I don’t do it to be mean. I do it to enforce my role as alpha and to express to him that he is NOT allowed to behave in that way.

I know that Trooper adores me and that I’m his “mommy” even though I am often strict with him. Sometimes it is kinder to be tough than to let dogs get away with things - and it helps their mental health as well as ours. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Animals Are Not People

My heart is as big as can be when it comes to pets and animals. However, I think that logical dictates that some animals have more value than others. I do not value a fish as much as I value my dogs. I do not value the life of the stray, unneutered Chow that wanders my neighborhood more than the lives of my dogs and would kill that dog (if necessary) if he attempted to harm my pets. Though Quinn would certainly do her best to defend us all.


Likewise, human life (okay, most human life…there are some humans I wouldn’t value more than slug slime) should be valued more than animal life. If my house was on fire and my husband passed out I would do everything in my power to save his life first. If he were okay I would then do what it took to save my dogs without killing myself. If I were unable to save them I would mourn like nobody’s business, but I would continue living, and probably one day get more dogs. If my husband died, life would not move on in the same way.

What’s my point?

I believe that there is a point at which so called “animal rights” activists go too far. Acts of violence against humans or human interests do nothing to further the goal of making sure animals are treated fairly. I don’t want animals tortured for unnecessary purposes like testing mascara. But I do believe science has a commitment to discovering new and better ways to treat humans (and animals for that matter). Doing so humanely is important, but the extremists don’t want any scientific progress whatsoever if it involves the use of animals.

What about pound dogs and cats? I have heard stories of people “adopting” animals and then taking them to a lab to use in testing. I have very, very, strongly mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I absolutely hate the idea of a potential loving pet being taken to a lab and used for experimentation. On the other hand, is it better to allow these animals to be euthanized with no benefit because there aren’t enough homes for them all? At least with testing they may be part of a cure or discover to help us all.

I do not think that animal testing will end anytime soon, though it would be a wonderful thing if science could instead use computers to test their discoveries. In the meantime, PETA and animal rights extremists should work harder to get dogs, cats and other abandoned animals new homes. It will do a world of good!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pet Adoption Month

Did you know? It’s Pet Adoption Month!

I’ve mentioned a couple times that we adopted Quinn and we found her through Hubby wasn’t so sure but I had fallen in love with her sweet face.

Though she was a bit skinnier back then. Ha!

Things to consider before adopting a dog:

Space - the amount of space you have available in your home and yard should help you determine the size and type of dog to adopt. Larger dogs don’t *always* need the most space. Some small dogs are so hyper that they not only need lots of exercise but space to run around. Whereas some big dogs are pretty lazy (not to mention any by breed here though ha!) and just need a small walk daily.

Time - Are you a busy person with lots of activities away from the house? Seriously think about your schedule before adopting a dog. If you can’t take the dog with you on most of your activities it may not be the right time to adopt. Dogs take a lot of commitment that people don’t always consider. Walking, training, playing, feeding, cleaning … all of these take time and energy so you need to be ready.

Fence - The number one requirement when we got Quinn was a good fence. She was an escape artist and had proved that several times over. Before we drove 5 hours to pick her up our house and back yard were inspected - the inspector walked the entire length of our fence to make sure it was adequate. (Of course, several months later our stinker girl tore off the bottom of several planks … so you never know!) Some dogs are really great about not leaving their yard but the majority should always be fenced in or at least not allowed out without supervision. If you can’t build a fence you may look into the invisible fences. But never leave a dog chained up outside alone. It’s cruel and dangerous.

Kids - Do you have any? How old are they? Some dog breeds are known for being great with kids and others … well, aren’t. The age and activity of your kids matters. Some kids are rowdy and others are more gentle. Consider how your kids will interact with a dog when determining the breed.

Money - I’ve written about it before. Dogs are expensive! Hubby and I feel like we’re practicing for human kids with all our expenditures on our dogs. Some are, of course, not necessary. We don’t *have* to spend on doggy daycare, grooming, or special fun toys. But some expenses are not optional - vet bills and food. If you want a healthy dog, feed the best food you can afford and do not skip or skimp on the vet visits.

Adopting an animal is such an amazing experience. You are literally saving two lives. The life of your new companion and the life of the dog who can take their place on the list or in the shelter. Without those spaces opening up…well the future for them is bleak.

There will always be dogs and cats available for adoption. Spread the word and encourage your friends and family to adopt.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Quinn is Doing Better - and Trooper Rocks!

Just a quick update…Quinn is doing much better. She’s still crying but I seriously think she’s doing it to get what she wants at this point. That whole positive reinforcement thing is so evident. =D She cries, she gets attention … ahhh…2+2 really does equal 4 doesn’t it? So she cries more. The little manipulator. *grin*

Does are smart like that.

Speaking of smart…Trooper continues to amaze me in Agility class and at home. He’s a wild Malamute with lots of energy but he seems to have started really using that noggin of his for good. On Saturday I took him to a new place!!! I loaded up on chicken and hot dogs first because I was a little nervous. It was a baseball game at a local college field and boy was it a brand new experience for him.

Random Baseball Field

All the new sounds and smells … I could tell he was overwhelmed but he did so good. He’s so food oriented that every time I said his name he looked at me, which is excellent. He sat, laid down, and ignored other dogs when I asked him to. There was a 7 month old puppy lab who was very intent on meeting Trooper and that went well. There were also two small dogs and we met one of them. I always worry about Troop with small dogs as they are so…well, squirrel / cat like (no offense to small dog owners…I would LOVE to have a small dog but it’s not going to happen right now) and he has such a strong prey drive.

At one point I sat down on the last row of the bleachers and made him lay down and stay. That’s all…just stay and be a good boy. And he DID it!!! Anytime he tried to get up I’d say no and he’d lay back down. There were balls flying and being hit, announcers yelling over the speakers, people clapping and “woohooing” (including me!) … all of which at first made his ears go back and he head swivel around like a top … but after awhile he just got used to it and wanted his treats.

Of course, after 45 minutes the security guard came over and said we had to leave. :( They have a new rule that no dogs are allowed on the college property - which is SO lame. But I understand. They could be held liable if one dog attacks another. And we were ready to go anyway. We had a GREAT time and I was so proud of my boy. It was a totally new experience for him and he did great!

He’s going to have to get used to the clapping and large crowds if we ever do agility events. =)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My Poor Little Princess

Poor Quinn. Her grandma reports that she cried all day Friday. The vet didn’t send us home with any pain pills. So she lays there and cries this super faint absolutely pathetic whine. And she keeps licking herself …. ‘down there.’ She’s been doing that more and more but for some reason seems to be doing it more now. And crying. I hate the crying. She woke me up at midnight with her soft painful cry. =(

We don’t know how old she is…but she’s definitely up there in doggy years. We adopted her in 2002 and the adoption place estimated her age at 4-5. So if that were accurate she’d be 10-11 now. Good grief. She’s an old woman. Her ears have gotten salt and peppery - they used to be dark black.

We know she has arthritis in her back…she had x-rays a couple of months ago that showed it clearly. Plus she just moves slower. She does get excited and hop around once in awhile but not like her “Circus” days where she used to balance on her back legs and jump around. It was so cute!!! Now she sort of hops up and jumps her front legs up quickly and back down. Howling. She’s a howler.

Hubby came home today after a week away for work and she was SOOOO excited to see him. She missed him so much. She’s daddy’s little girl.

I hope that she’ll stop crying and not be in pain…I can’t tell if she’s crying because grandma did a little too much positive reinforcement today or if she’s actually in pain. Watching her age is so painful to us. I can’t explain how much she blesses our lives.

Quinnie Girl

She really was a true rescue - she was in the kill shelter four times. The final time her family did not come to get her. She was an escape artist and apparently they got tired of paying the release fee. The shelter had a 7 day kill schedule. She was there 14 days. Her sweet personality won everyone over and they kept her around until a spot opened up in the local Husky Rescue. We found her on Pet Finder and drove more than 5 hours (10+ round trip) to introduce her to Kodiak and bring her home. She attacked him that night and drew blood, which I laugh about now. She is definitely the alpha female…he did try to take her bone so it was his own fault (I know…really it was ours for not thinking he’d try to get hers!). But she loves her two brothers and was amazingly motherly when we brought Trooper home. She didn’t bark at him once and only drew blood once when he tried to steal her dinner. Serves him right.

Happy Girl on the Beach

We love her so much. Please help us pray that she recovers and continues to live pain free and comfortably. We know our time together is limited.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I Am A Horrible Mother

At least that is how I feel. My poor darling little girl.

I know she hates going to the vet but she loves car rides. Her head out the window - she looks like she’s in pure heaven. Even as we arrive at the vet’s office. She jumps out and sniffs around and takes a little tinkle. And then when we go to the entrance she starts to pull back. *grin* She knows that she does NOT like going through that door. Nothing ever good ever happens through that door.

We love our vet though. If I didn’t I would not drive 30 minutes (45 on the way to pick her up…I hate traffic) just to go there. He does such a great job and is so great with all our animals (including the kitties).

In the exam room she starts to howl…the only way to keep her quiet is to rub her belly constantly, which, if the vet is running behind, can be quite tiring.

The nurse takes her temp (always a favorite event) and can’t even give Quinn a treat (no food prior to anesthesia). The vet comes in and looks at her teeth and confirms that she needs to get them cleaned. It looks like she may have Periodontal Disease.

So I leave my little princess behind and head home. I hate leaving her. It’s so strange to be home with just two dogs. It’s a whole different dynamic. And Trooper has no one to pick on.

At 4:30 I finally call to see if I can rescue Quinn and I head out into traffic. They close at 5:30 and as I sit in traffic I imagine that I won’t make it in time and how upset I will be if she has to stay there overnight! With 15 minutes to spare I walk in the office.


Good grief. Didn’t I just talk about spending money on pets? *giggle* I knew it was going to be up there but was hoping for more like $300. *sigh* I was just getting caught up on the credit cards.

She had to have one tooth pulled and some deep cleaning done on her teeth. He confirmed that she does have Periodontal Disease and will need to have her teeth cleaned once a year. It will also be helpful if we start to brush her teeth a few times a week. That ought to be fun.

But I think I’m going to start brushing all of the dogs’ teeth. I don’t want to have to go through this with the other two. I asked the vet if I could have prevented it and he said no, but it seems like if we’d brushed her teeth more often it may have helped. She is in the stage where it is not reversible but we can slow it down and treat it.

Bringing her home was difficult - mostly because I kept wanting to turn around and watch her. She was SO stoned and cute and out of it. She put her head out the window just like she likes and closed her eyes. Once on the freeway she laid down and fell asleep.

Sleepy Girl

Getting her out of the car was a new experience. She’s never had a problem getting out of the car - it’s getting in that causes issues. But this time she cried and I had to coax her out. :( It broke my heart!!!

She got a little bit of her food and then Trooper and I went to agility. She was pretty out of it all evening. The whole situation was very stressful.

It just goes to show that prevention is so important!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pet Spending Ethics?

As I was getting ready to leave work yesterday, I mentioned to my coworker that I had to take Quinn to the vet in the morning. It looks like her two front teeth might have holes in them right near the gums. :( I will update that story later.

We chatted for a few minutes and I lamented on watching my princess girl get older. I know she has to go over the rainbow bridge someday but we are doing our best to make that time far from now.

Somehow we landed on the topic of spending - probably because I was a little concerned about how much this vet trip would end up costing me. I mentioned that spending on pets is predicted to reach an all time high in 2008. In the billions! My coworker, let’s call her Sandy, said that she thought it was a shame how much people spend on their pets when there are so many starving people in the world. She thinks it’s completely wrong that people will spend $1,000 a night on “pet hotels” when that money could do so much good for others.

Hmmm…I tried to find a place charging that much, but as I’ve mentioned my search skills are pretty limited. I did find a couple that charge over $100 a night. A little steep for my budget but not necessarily breaking the bank.

Yes, there are starving people in the world. Very true. However, I always get nervous about trying to tell people how to spend their money. If someone wants to pay $1,000 a night for their little Poopsie to live a life of luxury who am I to tell them that they are wrong or unethical?

Do I think diamond studded collars are a bit much? Sure. But it isn’t my money.

Diamond Dog Collar

I know that “Sandy” thinks that I spend too much on my dogs. But again, it’s my money to do with as I please. If I want to spend $100 or $1,000 a month on dog stuff then that is my right. I don’t feel like I can save everyone in the world who doesn’t have their basic survival needs met. I try to do my part via donations, but no one will solve the world’s problems just by giving their money away. It’s been tried.

What do you think? Do you feel guilty for spending money on your pets?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

For the Love of a Dog

I don’t know how “real” parents (that is, parents of human children) do it. Leaving your humanoid kids home must be 1,000 times worse but I tell you what, seeing that sweet doggy face staring at you as you drive away is beyond difficult.

Photo of Keisha from Siberian Assistance Dog Training Blog
Photo of an amazing Siberian Assistance Dog in Training - I never would have thought of a Husky Assistance Dog!!!

Hubby is traveling this week (again…I’m getting tired of this) so my MIL has been coming over to doggy-sit. It’s either that or all three go to daycare all week and I think that might kill Kodiak and Quinn. Not to mention eat through our package and I’m not keen on shelling out another $300 anytime soon.

When I got home last night my MIL was laughing and said that Trooper laid on the love seat looking out the window for the last couple of hours before I got home. The other day hubby told me that Trooper now knows my car. The sound of it coming and when it pulls in. Which doesn’t surprise me because all 3 dogs know the sound of daddy’s patrol car coming home.

Trooper and I have always had a special relationship. When he was a tiny little ball of fluff (well, tiny relative to his size now!) hubby got very very sick. So sick that he couldn’t even take the dogs out to relieve themselves during the day - making potty training a very messy event. And made my time with Trooper nearly uninterrupted and daddy’s time very minimal. Hubby now jokes that Trooper is “my” dog, but I know he loves his daddy.

But our relationship is different and has only gotten stronger since we started agility training. He listens better for one thing. At least to me! His hearing is still very selective when daddy is talking.

Driving away this morning my heart just tugged … I wanted to drive back and cuddle on the couch with my baby boy. I have photos of him all over my desk at work now. He is such a special dog and he brightens the lives of everyone who meets him.

Is it weird to want to be a stay at home Doggy mom? =)

Monday, June 2, 2008

A New Trend? Dog Napping?

My mother in law told me that she saw a news report about a woman in Seattle fighting off an attacker as she took her dog for a walk. The dog - a beautiful red and white Siberian Husky - was the target of the attempted robbery. Seriously. The guy was trying to steal her dog!

Who the heck mugs someone for their dog? Apparently stealing dogs isn’t a new thing but it still boggles my mind.

The news story mentioned that the purpose of trying to get the dog was to then resell it for $500. Which is insane. Dogs aren’t commodities. They aren’t televisions (though I admit an unhealthy affinity for my TV).

A radio talk show host I used to listen to had his new purebred bulldog stolen right out of his front yard when he was home. (One of the drawbacks of having an electric fence in the yard is that it doesn’t keep the bag people out.) He received a call a few days later saying that he would get his dog back if he paid money. They were after drug money. Thankfully the people involved weren’t *that* bright because they agreed to meet him and he brought the police and got his dog back.

I know that hubby and I are extremely paranoid about our dogs. All three are microchipped and we don’t even like to leave them home alone in their outdoor kennel. We are seriously that concerned about someone entering our fully fenced back yard and stealing our dogs. There are some seriously unstable people out there.

I couldn’t find either story I reference above online (I am not good at searching for things like that) so if anyone can find it let me know. MIL saw the husky mugging on the nightly news a couple of days ago.

Oh…the woman above fought back. =) As well she should have! No one is taking my dog from me without a very furious fight. She is injured but alive and she still has her dog. Thank God!!!

Hang on to your babies!