Sunday, February 28, 2016

Harper: small, slight signs of progress

Harper is still a basket case and she will be a work in progress for a long time, maybe forever.  It's still too soon to say, but she has made some small steps in the right direction.

She has learned the routine movements expected of her and the other dogs - crate, outside, inside, upstairs, bedroom, etc.  She's trailing about 6' of a light, nylon rope and when I grab the rope she will generally get up and move in the intended direction.  Many times I get her to go where needed without even touching her rope.

Maya is her idol and she snuggles up to her whenever possible.  That works to my advantage because Maya is usually near me so Harper has to come near to me as well.  Just recently she came up to me when I was sitting at her desk and stood there like she was wanting petting.  I did so, of course, and when I stopped she nudged me to indicate that she wanted more.  
She sort of cowers in one corner of the bedroom at night, but last night when she got disturbed she ran over to my side of the bed and laid on Vince's bed next to me.  She even moved herself half off the bed onto the floor to get closer to me.  

Make no mistake, she is still skittish and freaky as hell, but she has shown some signs of progress.  On Sunday I decided it was time for her first walk.  I got the harness back on her, put a leash on that and another on her collar.  Then I put a slip lead around her neck as well so we started off with three leashes but after a while went down to two.  I had to pretty much drag for the first hundred yards, but after that she began to walk.  Mostly she was behind me and she often moved out to the side as far as the leashes would allow like she wanted to be as far away from me as possible.  A couple of times she moved up front next to Maya.  We ended up completing two miles, however, which was much more than I anticipated starting out.  

It was near the end of the walk when I finally got a picture of her with both ears up.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Random stuff

Sometimes there's just a lot of pictures that need to be moved off the camera.  No particular theme.

Sam had a brief vet visit on Friday to
get his stitches removed.  It seems that
they were already gone.

Trooper and Theo in front, behind are Max and Toquima.

Toquima, Theo, and Trooper


Trooper chasing Toquima

Theo chasing Max

Maya pulled a towel down and just laid under it while I
was in the bathroom, which apparently I can't do alone.
Maya at the bar Friday night.

Sparky on an 8 mile hike with Maya and me on Saturday.
It would be a fast canoe trip right now.

The Rivanna river is high and muddy.

Eight miles was quite a hike. Even though it was cold,
Sparky thought the water was inviting.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

On the move again

Theo the Great
I finally got back out on the trails today.  I could tell the difference after two days with no physical activity.  My legs were feeling stiff and heavy, my butt hurt, and my back was getting sore.

Max, Maya, Theo
I took Maya, Max, and Theo.  They were also tired of being cooped up indoors without any activity and I'm sure they needed it as much as I did.

I love the ear action in this picture.

Max is in full woolly mode right now and he's blowing his
coat.  I removed enough hair off of him after today walk
to make a whole other dog.  

As long as we don't spot any deer these three are pretty easy
to walk together.
I set out to do five miles this afternoon, but
had enough daylight to get in six.
It was cloudy much of the day but the sun
broke through occasionally.

Harper update:  Here she is laying near Maya.  She's gaining a bit of confidence moving around
the house and is learning the routines.  She's still very skittish and only rarely comes up to me on
her own accord.  This is not going to be a quick turnaround.  The good news is that she's a quiet
and easy dog to foster.  She eats well but sometimes has to be left alone with her food in the crate.
Last night I started bring her into the bedroom at night to sleep with everyone else.  With Toquima
visiting that makes seven dogs in the bedroom at night.  Very cozy, but I hope it will help her.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rainy day blues

Maya and Theo out on a walk last weekend.
The weather has been going from bad to worse the last several days.  I got out for a couple walks over the weekend and early this week, but have been stuck indoors the last two days.  Today it rained most of the day and we even had a tornado warning as a narrow but strong line of thunderstorms moved through late in the afternoon.

The only dogs I've let out to the dog yard for the past two days have been Max and Sam.  Everyone else is stuck inside singing the blues.

The best way to kill time indoors is to sleep.

Theo, Trooper, and Maya out for a walk in light rain.

I got out with Sam and Maya between rains
on Monday.
Vince still wants out often when it's raining but he
doesn't stay out for very long.

Gigi has no interest in going outside when it's wet.

Trooper in the coveted spot in the corner under my desk.

Trooper and Toquima, who arrived this afternoon.
He is staying with us for about a week.

Gathering in the laundry room for the tornado
warning this afternoon.  Vince and Trooper have
the worst storm anxiety and they were the only
ones to actually fit into the small room.

Gigi and Maya outside the entrance to
the laundry room.

Toquima thought the gathering of dogs was just a good
opportunity to play with Theo.  He seems to have no fear
of storms at all.
Maya pushed her way in to be next to Trooper.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

That stupid Facebook dog thing

I've been dreading this day.  There's this thing going around on Facebook reminiscent of the ALS icebucket challenge.  The premise is that one of your so-called "friends" nominates you to post a picture of a dog each day for five days.  To keep the nonsense going, you are also supposed to nominate another person each day to do the same.  My "friend's" posting was something like this:  "I nominate Brent Jacques to the 5 day dog challenge because I think he'll hate the idea but I can't wait to see the 5 he picks."

She knows me very well and of course I did hate the idea, and besides, I already post a lot of pictures of dogs.  But, instead of completely ignoring it as she expected, I decided to do it my own way.  First, I'm doing it all in one day, not dragging this out forever; I'm doing it in this blog post instead of directly on Facebook, although I will share it; and finally, I'm not going to annoy any of my friends with it.

Also, I thought I'd post five dog pictures that say something about me as well as the dog.

This is Trooper, and I'm including this picture because I think it's probably the best dog picture I've ever taken.

Trooper was a foster but Trooper has a bad case of fear aggression.  He learned that his big bark will scare off things that scare him (strangers) so he uses it.  He may or may not back up his bark with action, he's just unpredictable.  He tried the big bark with me when we met, but I took his leash and walked him a bit and then he rode home with his head on my shoulder.  He has formed a relationship with the one person we board him with, and he even came to accept my mother, but I never was comfortable trying to adopt him out.

One of the hazards of fostering is that when you take in an unadoptable dog, your choices are pretty much limited to euthanizing the dog or keeping it yourself.  That sounds callus, but it's reality, and it's the reason we have six or seven dogs of our own.  It's also the reason I've cut back to fostering two or three dogs at a time and am more cautious and particular about those I take in.  Yes, you could pour time, energy, and money into training, and for simpler problems that is certainly the thing to do.  For aggression issues, I'm not so sure.  Trooper stayed with us and it was a good decision because as bad as he is with people, he's one of the best dog diplomats I've ever met.

I didn't take this picture, but the rottie, Griff, is one of my former fosters.  I love it.  Rottweilers don't always get a fair shake but they can be the most wonderful dogs.  Kind, gentle, and funny.  Powerful and protective, yes, but they rarely go looking for trouble.  I have former rottie fosters who have obtained certification for therapy work.  They are well suited for it, because they crave human contact.  They have strong personalities and are very expressive and attuned to their human so they make wonderful one-on-one companions.  No one who owns a rottweiler can ever be lonely.  This particular Rottweiler was adopted to an animal shelter director.  He took on the role of socializing many of the dogs who came through there.  Anyone who has one will tell you that they are worth more than their considerable weight in gold.

I love this picture of Sparky.  I love the look of purebred rotties, shepherds, and lots of other breeds, but what I really love is the chance arrangement of random genetic material that makes a really great looking, and totally unique, mutt.

Sparky is actually my alter ego, in more ways than one.  I guess what I like about Sparky really reveals some of the insecurities about myself.  He's that big, strong, handsome guy, fearless and full of confidence - I am not.

We do have some things in common though.  He doesn't particularly care what others think about him, he doesn't need their approval.  He's happy with his own companionship most of the time but he's fine having one close friend (me) and a couple of acquaintances to go out and do things with occasionally (Max and Maya).

I may be cheating here because I'm counting these two pictures as one.  The dog is Patch.  The first picture shows him as he arrived, in terrible condition, fearful, hopeless.  We've taken in numerous dogs in this condition, sometimes better, sometimes worse.  Jasso is the most recent example, but in addition to Jasso and Patch there has been Summer, Gambit, and Bastian, just to name a few. 

In the second picture he's still not fully recovered, physically.  He would eventually grow a thick, luxurious, and beautiful German Shepherd coat, but the picture does capture perfectly the recovery of his spirit -- tail up, high-stepping, bounding through the pasture with the pure joy of being a dog.  That transformation is the essence of rescue.

Maya.  I could write a tome on this little girl, even though she's the most recent addition to the family. 

I never intended to have a dog as young as Maya.  My plan was to take older dogs, seniors, place them if possible and keep them if not.  Older dogs are easier, better suited for us in a lot of ways, and would enable me to focus more attention on a few fosters.  With Maya around, attention must be paid, to her. 

Maya was every bit as scared and frightened when she first came here as Harper is now.  She's still shy and insecure in new situations although she's the epitome of confidence in her own world.  She's not so much "my dog" as I am "her person."  Who owns who is debatable; it's 50/50 at best.