Monday, May 30, 2016

Dogs in bed

This has always been Vince's bed, but Samantha has taken it
over.  They shared it one night but Vince clearly wasn't happy
about it.  I replaced this huge bed with two slightly smaller
beds.  That seemed to satisfy him last night.
Some people say that you shouldn't let your dogs sleep with you.  I think differently.  Dogs are part of the family.  A dog's family is a pack.  The pack sleeps together.  For warmth, safety, and security, no one should sleep alone.
Gigi really considers the entire bed to be hers and
she occupies it for most of the day, lounging up
against the pillows. She moves to the foot of the
bed at night to accommodate us.

Clay occasionally makes noises about a king size bed, but I find them cold and impersonal.  Besides, it would just be an invitation to more dogs to actually climb into the bed.  We'd end up with no more space in bed, just less floor space in the room.

We have nine dogs right now.  Sparky and Hardy are in the crates downstairs in the kitchen.  Sparky is crated because I can't mix him with all of the other dogs.  Hardy is crated because he's a foster and crate-training is about the only training I do for my fosters other than simply teaching them to live with humans and other dogs in a household.  It helps make for a successful re-homing after adoption.

The only bedroom dog not pictured here is Theo.  He sleeps on the floor at the foot of the bed where I can't get a picture of him.  When he's up, he's a huge head right in my face so I couldn't get a decent picture of him.

Maya, curled up like a fox, but keeping an eye on me always.

Samantha one of the two beds next to me.
Vince, occupying the second bed next to Samantha.

Thankfully, Gigi isn't a large dane and she keeps her legs
folded up to be as compact as possible, most of the time.
Gigi rises well after the sun has done so.
Trooper, stretched out on the bare floor, but sandwiched
between our bed and one of several dogs beds.
Trooper comes over for petting when he's ready to
get up. When you stop petting him he reaches out
with his paw indicating that he wants more.

Maya sleeps on the floor at night, but hops into bed in the
morning for snuggle time. She is never in a hurry to get up.

Maya squeezes herself into any available space between us.
If there is no space, she makes some.

Max sometimes stays in the dog yard during good weather
and he sometimes sleeps in a crate in my office, but last
night he staked out a spot in the bedroom. He's looking
a bit raggedy here. He is blowing his coat along with Trooper
and Theo. I gave Trooper a bath the other day and there's a
bath in the near future for the others as well.

Maya has mastered the "look" that gets her whatever she

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hardy's public appearances

Friday evening we took Maya and Hardy down to James River Brewery in Scottsville. Everyone knows Maya there, of course, but it was Hardy's first outing. It was probably more people than he's ever seen in one place at one time. He's very wary of new people and he talks at lot. His talking is a non-stop rapid bark sort of noise. He's not aggressive but he's clearly uncomfortable.

He kept it up for about 10 minutes and I was making plans to take him back home, but he finally settled down. Ten minutes isn't all that long, but with a barking dog in a public place it seemed like an eternity. Apparently he was very scared of women when he came to the shelter, but at this point I couldn't discern any difference in his reaction to woman vs. men. What makes a difference is the attitude of the person. If the person he's meeting is confident, is not put off by his vocalization, and will reach out to touch the dog, Hardy settles down quickly. If people are nervous, he is nervous.

After a while more and more people came and he no longer reacted to each new person. He had a number of people around him, including three children, all making contact. He clearly liked being touched and it went a long way toward calming his nerves. Maya's presence may have helped by example, but I did wish that she would have taken a more active role in telling him to shut up and calm down.

On Saturday I took Hardy to his first adoption event, with Promises Animal Rescue up in Gainesville, VA. It was his second public outing, however, and he was remarkably better. He did a little bit of the vocalization when meeting new people, but again, if the person was confident, and would speak to and touch the dog, Hardy was put at ease.

He didn't seem to care about their age, size, or gender, it was simply a matter of a little time to get acquainted and the person's level of confidence. He did very well with all the volunteers who just ignored his nervous vocalizations and proceeded to pet the dog. I was more cautious with members of the public and consequently, so was he, but if they were willing to be patient and make an effort it didn't take much to win him over.

He is going to need a home that will make a commitment to improving his confidence and social skills.

That's Hardy on the left and another young male shepherd named Cowboy on the right.
Hardy tried his best to get Cowboy to play but it was Cowboy's first outing too, and he was
too nervous. Hardy was actually the more confident of the two, but Cowboy was quieter. 

Back to the trails, at least briefly

My friend Tricia called Thursday afternoon to ask if I wanted to go for an early morning hike on Friday.  I'm in avoidance mode right now, burying my head in the sand and ignoring a work project that's hanging over my head (learning new software that's essential for my job, which is supposed to launch June 6th.)  So of course I said yes.

The early morning walk enabled my avoidance behavior, but it also gave me the impetus to get back to walking.  I've been neglecting Maya's exercise needs for the last two months as I focused on yard work.  Without the regular walking I've put on weight again and my legs have gotten stiff and sore, so the walk was just what we needed.

It wasn't a strenuous hike by any means because Tricia needed to take pictures for a photo essay for the local newspaper. These pictures are mine, but look for hers in an upcoming issue of the Fluvanna Review.
I was a bit surprised that there wasn't more
water in the creeks and streams after the 40
days of rain we've had around here.

Maya thought that Tricia's behavior was somewhat odd.
She stopped frequently and laid down in the dirt.
We don't do that on our walks normally. 

This was the most interesting plant specimen we saw and
we saw quite a few of them. It's fleshly and soft like a
mushroom but it has a structure on the end that looks like
flowers. I didn't examine it closely and I suppose it could
just be something that releases spores because mushrooms
to not technically have "flowers."

Maya examined it as well but failed to
see the attraction or interest.

The mountain laurel was in bloom and
was very pretty.

Anything to get the shot.  She's sitting in mud, half
in the water. I carried the tripod when it wasn't in use
and handed her lenses out of her bag upon request.
Maya is particularly pretty in dappled sunlight.

"My little girl" or "Blond dog on a mossy bank"

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Return of Summer

Eva (formerly Summer), with her eyes on the ball.
Today felt like summer again. The temperature was in the upper 80s, and although the air wasn't as humid as it can me, it felt quite muggy because of all the moisture evaporating from the saturated ground. Summer returned in another way today as well. Much like Jasso a few days ago, former foster Summer came for a visit today. Her name is now Eva and she is healthy and beyond happy in her new home. She has a young man to call her own and she looks at him like he hung the moon. That was nice to see.

Her family came this way to meet and adopt another dog from an Animal Connections foster home just up the road from here. They brought Eva and the new dog to visit and we went out to the pasture to play ball.

Theo hasn't had any serious competition in the tennis ball game since Eva left. He can still outrun her on a long throw, but she's quick and often grabs a ball that he misses as he's barreling down the hill after it. A dog as big as Theo can't stop on a dime and that gives her an advantage.

Toquima and Hardy joined us in the pasture and Hardy got to experience meeting some new people.
This little corgi mix name Moose is their new dog.

Theo, with tennis ball in his mouth as always.

Toquima, scouting the edge of a wooded area.
This is the dog who got quilled by a porcupine
and I can understand why, he goes looking for
stuff in the woods and tall grass.

Toquima with Eva and Theo, cooling in the shade.

Toquima is the easiest house guest ever.
After Eva left with her family, I came inside to cool off, but later I took the two old girls, Scarlett and Samantha out for some pasture time. Max came out then too, along with Toquima, Theo, and Hardy from the dog yard. 

Scarlett (a former foster who is boarding with us until Thursday) is more active and faster than I would have thought. Samantha moves along at a fairly slow but steady pass, and she made a big loop around the pasture with me. Toquima did more hunting through the woods and weeds, Theo played ball, Hardy followed either Theo or me, and Max was Max - sometimes hanging with us and acting like a dog, sometimes off in his own world, but actually Max was fairly good today. Maybe it was the heat.

Scarlett enjoyed a nice roll in the cool, shaded grass.
It wasn't long after the second pasture romp when Toquima's folks showed up to take him home. I took advantage of having more humans around and made a point of introducing Hardy to them. I'm not convinced that Hardy is scared of women as much as he is just scared of new people in general. He met three new women today and two new men, and I really didn't see much difference. He does a very nervous vocalization and hides behind me at first, but given a little time he approaches and checks them out and even allows them to touch him. He's clearly under socialized, but it doesn't seem to take very much time or effort to win him over. 
Hardy returning from a run with Theo.

I thought there was a ready adopter waiting in the wings for Hardy, but it turns out that prospect isn't available for several weeks.  I'm contacting a couple other prospects and am soliciting applications for him through Promises Animal Rescue. 
That's Toquima on the left, three legs in the tank
and the fourth on it's way. Max is in the middle
and that's Theo on the right.

Samantha isn't fast but she's determined to get
around and explore the entire pasture. That is
Scarlett in the rear. Both girls followed me as I
walked around.

Scarlett and Hardy

You can see the beagle in Samantha when she's on the prowl.
Samantha's pretty smile comes from her rottweiler half.

Hardy is a diamond in the rough.