Sunday, December 26, 2010

No poultry

He's the new guy, got him last Tuesday, unfortunately named Rambo, but a great dog nonetheless.  He's about 1.5 years old, was owned by an old man who didn't train him and wasn't physically able to handle him any more.  Seems to have a good disposition, fine with other dogs in spite of his testicles (getting neutered on Wednesday), and he's friendly and submissive to people.  But he is young, strong, and wild.  Never lived indoors. I was told: "no cats" and "no poultry."


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Poinsettia poses

My sister's dog, a senior JR named Aggie.

One of our current foster dogs, Sunny, at an adoption event a couple weeks ago.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Biscuit is an odd name for such a large and imposing dog, but that's what it is.  He's said to be six years old.  He had been adopted out from a county shelter a year ago and was returned when his family moved. One has to wonder what the parents will do with the kids, or what the kids will do with the parents when they become inconvenient in their lives.  I really wonder about adults who dump their dog in a move, if it will come back to bite them on the ass one day.  They've just taught their children to dump anything that becomes a burden or inconvenient, or doesn't fit in with a change in their life.  The time may come when those adults find themselves dumped in some cheap nursing home because their children couldn't be bothered with them any more.  Call it karma, poetic justice, or whatever.  You reap what you sow, especially I think, in the example you set for children.

That's just a general observation, I don't really know the circumstances of Biscuit's first abandonment, his adoption, or the subsequent surrender.  The people who had him did seem to take good care of him, however.  He's definitely well socialized and housetrained, which is something I rarely say about a dog.  He wasn't about to spend a night outdoors, even in a cozy outbuilding.  He also made it clear that he doesn't need a crate indoors.  He's good with other dogs, it seems, but I think he's an alpha dog.  He's alpha enough that he doesn't have to prove it, other dogs just sense it.  Even our Molly is respectful of him and she's usually all too ready to put a foster dog in his place.  I've introduced him to at least half a dozen other dogs around here without incident.

He's got a rather menacing look and may be part Akita, it's hard to say.  He's got a BIG head, big feet, big all the way around, but he is very sweet and craves attention.  He will scratch up a door if you try to shut him up someplace when you are still around, but I've left him home alone for hours with free run and he's been just fine.  He's fine at night too, until he knows you are awake, then he wants to be with you.  He's a good snuggler and he's very warm. 

He's a good dog, he needs a good home.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A warm home on a cold night

The wind has been blowing hard all day making the temperature seem downright frigid. I've shuffled dogs again and I think may have hit on a pack/kennel/shed arrangement that has everyone comfortable and compatible.  I've had to split up Belle and Sunny for good, the two girls just can not get along anymore and are fighting all the time. 

The best news of the day came when I got home this evening--an email from the folks who took Tessa home.  They have decided to adopt her and I'm very happy for them all.  They've been keeping in touch since they took her home and it sounded like things were progressing pretty well.  She had a lot of things to learn (including living with a cat) and I'm sure she still does, but she's a good dog and they are good dog owners.  I'm very glad she's in a warm home tonight.  I wish they all were.

Holiday pictures, second addendum

This is Duke.  Dumped by his former owner in the Madison shelter, Duke found a new home in what seems like the unlikeliest of homes.  They had no dogs, but they already had one young child, plus a rather newborn baby. 

But they are dog people.  In the first year with Duke, they completed an obedience class in the spring and an agility class in the summer.  He's also learning to go around horses but is a bit intimidated and sticks very close to mom. 

He follows the kids around with a toy in his mouth, waiting for them to learn to throw it for him.    He's a happy, confident dog, as a shepherd should be. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Well, after delaying a couple days I had the sense that Biscuit's prospective adopter was getting cold feet, and sure enough, she wrote last night to cancel today's adoption.  I don't know why, it doesn't matter, I am glad it happened today instead of two days from now or two weeks from now.  What it means is that I now have to get in gear and get pics and a write up for Biscuit and get him on the web. 

He's a good dog--housetrained, doesn't need a crate, and fine with other dogs.  He's a big dog with kind of a menacing look, but is actually very sweet.

Yesterday I picked up a new shepherd from the Orange shelter, anticipating that Biscuit would be getting adopted today.  I'm considering naming him Solstice since I got him yesterday. He's 1.5 years old, unneutered, and has Biscuit's coloring.  The similar look, which is rather unusual in shepherds, and the fact that they both came from Orange County makes me think that they originated from the same breeder.  He brings us back to a total of 8 fosters even with Trooper's transfer from the "foster" to "resident" category. I was hoping to stay even, Biscuit out and new guy in, but I was pretty well committed to taking the new guy anyway. 

I've also committed to taking this guy, sometime after Christmas.  He's a boxer mix, less than a year old, very good looking dog.  Very cute, reminds me a bit of our Cabell when we got him (below). 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Furever ours, the Solstice gift

Clay and I don't exchange gifts with each other.  There is enough shopping to do for other people at this time of year.  However, it's the time of year when you can do the self-indulgent thing without feeling guilty.  Our gift for Clay will be a new electronic communication device of some sort, after the new version of whatever it is comes out in the next few months and he decides which one he wants.  Our gift for me is Trooper. 

Trooper doesn't show well at adoption events.  He greets new people by lunging toward their face with a big bark.  It's off-putting, to say the least.  But it doesn't take very much time or effort to win his trust, and his everlasting devotion.  I had the same experience with him when he first met me, but I took his leash, walked him around for a few minutes and then he rode home with his head on my shoulder. I took him to adoption events for a while but allowed only other VGSR volunteers to interact with him.  We would stand off to the side and I'd have to tell people not to look at him.  He's so damn cute that it's tough not to look at him, however, and of course people naturally want to look at a dog they are interested in.  His favorite part of adoption events was the trip home. 

Trooper didn't make much, if any, progress on his method of handling strangers.  Basically it's a fear thing, he barks and lunges to try to scare off whatever scares him.  If this technique doesn't work, he's got nothing else.  If he can't scare you he just gives up and makes the best of it.  What Trooper has, however, is a deep and abiding devotion to me.  I'm emotionally needy enough that I'm a sucker for a dog who likes me above all others.  He's ok with Clay, but he's clearly going to be MY dog in the way that Zachary is Clay's dog. 

The other anti-social dog we've had for years is Gypsy.  She's probably 12 or  more years old now, however, and has mellowed considerably towards strangers.  Our mothers will have a new dog that they will have to get used to now, and we'll have 10 or more years of needing to keep Trooper away from strangers until he mellows out like Gypsy finally has.  At least we have a boarding kennel where he's welcome and does well.  She's not afraid of him and that is the key to handling Trooper.  What I should do is make a concerted effort now to modify that behavior, get him to trust me enough that he doesn't feel the need to try to control situations that make him uncomfortable.  We will see. 

Trooper stopped going to adoption events a couple months ago when I had enough other dogs to take who had better prospects for adoption.  He didn't mind not going and he's been acting more and more like a permanent resident of the household over the past few months.  He has taken up guard duty, keeping an eye on everything from his vantage point on top of one of the platforms in the dog yard.  He alerts when the mail comes, the UPS man, or anyone else.  Our own dogs do that if they happen to be outside and awake, but the fosters generally don't.  Trooper has taken on the job as his own, and he's good at it. 

I bought Trooper a nice rolled leather collar and had a tag made with his name and our phone number.  He even has his first piece of collar bling, a souvenir key chain from the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfurt, KY. 

Trooper has been occupying a crate in the office at night, basically keeping the same indoor/outdoor routine as our other household dogs.  He's ready to make it official and I decided that this would be a good day to do it.  I was about to fill out the contract and write the check when I received a phone call from a good VGSR friend, who told me to send in the contract but not the check for the adoption fee because it had been taken care of.  That was a wonderful surprise and it really touched me.  Trooper is ours, all the good, and the bad.  He's not perfect.  His ears don't stand up, he's fear aggressive, he gets in the trash, and he eats poop in the dog yard.  But we take him as he is and love him as he is.  We can work on his problems or we can work around them.  I look at him and can tell that the good outweighs the bad.  I hope he feels the same about us.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday pictures, addendum

Here's the Christmas pic with Rocky, Shayna, and Shika (L to R).  She emailed it to me since I've misplaced the card somewhere among the flotsam and jetsam that is clogging every inch of countertop and desktop around here lately. 

The next pictures are a dog named DJ.  Clay and I were talking about him just a couple days ago although I couldn't remember his name at the time.  His story stuck with me, however, and came to mind when we were driving past a few of those inflatable xmas yard decorations.  I remember receiving the phone call about DJ.  The owners wanted to get rid of him because he had been destroying some of the neighbors' inflatable yard decorations at Halloween time.  Obviously, the dog had more discerning taste than the neighbors. It was in Fluvanna County and I went to meet the dog.  I pulled into the lot in front of their trailer and knew that I'd probably be taking the dog even before I saw him.      

Clearly he's not a purebred shepherd, or a pure bred anything.  But he was a sweet and friendly guy, well socialized with the neighborhood children, most of whom also appeared to be of indeterminate parentage. The dog needed to get out of there. The children probably did too, but the dog was the lucky one that day. 

DJ is probably part shepherd anyway, and I adopted him out through VGSR to a young couple, with children, who cared only about the dog's temperament and demeanor, not his pedigree.  Here is the original posting about DJ's adoption a year ago.  They sent these pics the other day in an email, saying: 
"DJ has been a great addition to our home. Playful, eager to please, good house manners. Thanks again to all who were involved in saving and placing such a deserving dog!"
He was a deserving dog, they all are. 

No luck today, but Biscuit should be getting adopted tomorrow.  That will put me down to 6 fosters, assuming he sticks, which is plenty for the winter.  I'll probably check on the other Orange County shepherd on Tuesday.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Are your parents siblings?"

Check out this link.  It's partly funny, or would be if it wasn't so sad but true

My favorite lines:  "Are your parents siblings?" and "People like you are the reason I'm on medication." 

I've had most of this conversation with people at one time or another.  I swear, I'm going to use "Are your parents siblings?" in my next conversation with a stupid person, which is likely to be tomorrow. 

I went to a VGSR adoption event in Richmond today and met a nice young woman I had been emailing with.  She is very interested in Biscuit and after the event we stopped by her place on our way home.  He seemed to approve.  I'm planning to take him to her place on Monday.  He will be very glad.

This is another sad but funny one that was sent to me a while back, from a "Best of Craigslist" posting:

You aren't looking for them, but I found your two dogs.

Sigh. No one is looking for these guys. And I see why. They hump everything in sight, try to dominate our old doggies, try to eat our cats and pee on everything and bark at everything. Neurotic, lick constantly. They know no commands, either in English or Spanish. They are aggressive and probably lived in a puppy mill. You dumped them, probably, and we picked them up before they were killed by traffic. Unneutered, no tags, under 1 year old small males. I hate you, person who dumped these dogs. There are no lost ads on phone poles, no lost ad on Craig's list, no lost ad in the paper. We put signs up all over, put a found notice in at the local pounds and if you were looking for these filthy little ragamuffins, you would have found them. We are afraid to take them to the pound because under stress, your dogs were snappy and horribly afraid and dogs are judged by temperament for adoption placement. They would not have passed that test. However.....

They are, under their filth, mats and horrible habits, adorable. They have learned "Quiet," "Come," "Sit." They have stopped being so neurotic and we have broken most of their bad habits in just a few days. They are smart and sweet and are looking for guidance and WANT to be good little dogs. One is a purebred little white and buff guy with an under bite, the other is a brown little dog that looks almost exactly like a miniature version of a larger breed dog. They know each other and were obviously (by the same bad habits) raised (poorly) together. We will get them neutered, train them and get them into a good, loving home with people who use the brains God gave them.

If these are your dogs, come on by, I'd like to kick your ass.
Tomorrow, TJ, Sunny, Buddy, and Belle go to another adoption event in Front Royal.  Last chance for a home for the holidays. 

Holiday cards and emails

One aspect of the Solstice holiday season that I don't dislike is the fact that people send me pictures of former foster dogs.  Some still send actual cards, in the mail.  It's a quaint tradition, which, much like check writing, is rapidly giving way to digital communication.  But I don't mind receiving hard copy pics, and I've gotten a few so far this year, along with some via email. 

These are two of my former fosters.  On the left is Hannibal.  He came in along with Nemo (who is now Huck).  On the right end of the sofa is Ricco.  It was about this time last year that Hannibal was adopted.  Fortunately the adopter has a chair of his own because the sofa is fully filled with shepherd. 

This is Toquima, formerly Brutus, named after the adopters' favorite mountain range in Nevada. He is shown in this picture with the only stuffed toy that he did not immediately destroy.  He's a great looking dog and he has a great life, two parents who are active people and who both work from home. 

This is Tippy (my former foster) and Mo (another VGSR adopted dog), with Santa, (Tippy in Santa's lap). 

These folks moved to New York, have a great, dog-friendly house and yard, and got involved with a GSD rescue group up there. 

Tippy is a sweet girl, but is very much in charge of her pack, including any new fosters that come home.  That is actually great, it is really makes it a lot easier to foster if one of your own dogs does the work for you.  Our Molly did that when she was a foster.  She ran her kennel like a well-oiled machine, broke in the new fosters, and quickly got them with the program, HER program.  

The handsome dog in this picture is Kai, short for Malachi (yes, Heather, that's your dog).  Kai is a big goof, and that pretty much says it all.  Kai's daddy is a VGSR volunteer and I'm always happy to pass off one of my foster dogs to him at an adoption event.  I don't have to worry about a dog that Paul is handling.  He stays on top of the dog and will take it outside for a good run too. 

I seem to have lost the picture postcard of Shayna, Rocky, and Shika, but here is a similar pic I swiped from Shayna's Facebook page.  Rocky (on the left) appeared in a lot of blog posts over this past year.  He had terrible ear infections that had burst open through his face.  His ear canals were completely fused shut.  He had two operations and two weeks of intensive care and treatment at the vet school at Va Tech.  His extensive medical expenses were paid for fully by donations thanks in very large part to two women I know here in Charlottesville who hit up their friends for money (both women have also adopted dogs from me).  A former VGSR volunteer who now lives in Utah drove out here and adopted Rocky.  Rocky is now a certified therapy dog, and an all around good guy.  Although he is still alive and hopefully will be for many years to come, it is not too early to start calling him Saint Rocky.

The card I wait for every year arrived yesterday.  The old girl in the lower left corner of this picture is Maggie.  Her parents had twin girls this year so Maggie has had to share their time and attention for the first time in almost 10 years that she's been with them.  Maggie was our first foster dog.  She was a young, loving, very pregnant rottie from the Louisa County shelter.  She delivered 10 puppies a week after we got her.  None of us knew what we were doing, but we managed to raise 6 of the pups, one of which is our boy Bremo.  She will always have a special place in our hearts. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

A little news

Teddy's new mom called today and said that he's now coming in the house with no problem and he's getting a little bit friendlier, slowly.  He seems happy and is making contact with her now, at least sometimes. 

I met Tasha's Thanksgiving fosters up in Culpeper this morning and they took her back with them again.  She was very happy to see them.  That freed up an indoor slot around here. 

Trooper has been occupying a crate in the office, but he will now take Tasha's spot in the bedroom at night and I'll bring Jeremy indoors along with TJ and Biscuit.  One day this weekend I'll fill out the paperwork and officially adopt Trooper.

Someone is meeting Biscuit tomorrow who is very interested in him.  His indoor manners are good, better if he's not crated, actually.  I'm taking him and others to an adoption event in Richmond on Saturday and in Front Royal on Sunday.

There's still another GSD in Orange who looks like Biscuit.  I hope to be able to bring him in next week.

Buddy was returned the other day.  He had gotten protective/possessive in the house and nipped a visitor.  I think it's just a puppy phase he's going through, belatedly.  He needs an household with an experienced owner and, I think, a dominant male influence, human or canine, so he doesn't feel the need or opportunity to assume the alpha male role in the pack. 

Sorry about the recycled pictures.  I'm getting a new camera for xmas, should be here soon.