June 26, 2010

Max & Carly

I think I'm smitten with Max! Max has joined the ranks of the shelter dogs that have really gotten under my skin. Out of the hundreds of dogs I've worked with at the shelter I have 5 that that hold an extra special place in my heart: Elektra, Alfie, Sam (aka Magnum), Princess (aka Lucille) and now Max!

Just 4 visits ago this little guy was petrified! He avoided touch like the plague. Today I spent an hour with him and had a ball. He was so excited to see me today.

Max has blossomed into a happy and carefree puppy. He is playing with toys, sitting on my lap & giving kisses and no longer barks at things! He has "sit" nailed!! We worked on "stay" and "down" a little bit and I'm sure next time I see him he will have that nailed too. Such a smart little boy. He is still looking for a rescue to take him in and help him find his forever family.

Max's litter mate Carly is so full of energy. She couldn't wait to get out of the kennel. When she did she wanted to run, run and run some more. So far the best way to work with Carly is to do touches while she is laying down trying to kill a stuffie! With more sessions I'm sure she will calm down and start learning some things.

Shelter life is so hard for a puppy that really just wants to play.

What a happy girl she is!

June 14, 2010

Gertie Crosses the Bridge

Gertie's friends are so very sad to learn that she took a turn for the worse this weekend.

Today her very loving Momma helped her across the Rainbow Bridge.

Not only was Gertie fighting cancer but she also had Cushings Disease. It is believed it was the Cushings that ultimately became too much for her tiny body.

LeeAnne made sure that Gertie's senior years were truly dipped in gold and then made the ultimate sacrifice and allowed her to pass with dignity - despite her own personal pain. LeeAnne is a hero in my book

Run free sweet Gertie. You no longer have cancer and Cushings and your eyesight has been restored.

We all loved you!


Buffy is a dog that reached out and grabbed me. She was posted to our "dog list" at work with this bio and photo:

PLEASE Help this gorgeous healthy terrier (shelter claims she is schnauzer mix). She was in the shelter for 7 weeks and is terrified. She was just rescued last week, and has anxiety and is scared. She warms up to another dog with in one day (lashing out at first), so needs a place to decompress where there are either no other pets, or a very mellow pet and where someone is home all day. We need someone willing to teach her life is safe and how to get over anxiety (we have a great document to get you started). She does very well in a yard, but has chewed in the house, so will need supervision. Once she is calmed down, the original foster may be able to take her back. PLEASE HELP HER. We can provide a pen/crate, food, etc.

This is the kind of dog TTouch was created for! I responded to the notice and paid her a visit at a new foster home on Saturday after the shelter.

What I found was a lovely little dog that has yet to be taught where to potty. Although she was cautious at first she came around quite nicely. By the end of our session a neighbor approached her head on with his hand sticking out and she didn't so much as flinch!

Buffy needs a foster home that is around most of the time that can take her through a proven protocol for separation anxiety. You know, if you don't give a terrier something to do they will create their own fun. That is what I think we have going on with Miss Buffy!

Lets hope that right home, or foster home, come along quickly for her.


I'm running late with my post this week. Things have been busy insane! Not to busy to help the shelter pups but a bit busy to write about it.

Gordon was nameless Saturday morning when I started my session with him. Talk about a busy little boy! He is about 7 months old and "stinkin' cute"!

I wish I'd have had someone there to video me trying to get a Thundershirt on this kid! Holy Cow!

Finally I wrestled one on his and this is the final product.

Somehow this angel failed his behavior test and was written up as aggressive. Oookay, he must have really adjusted to his surroundings by the time I saw him. Yes, he is frantic to get out of that kennel and get to playing but the worst he is gonna do is run your hide ragged :-)

So, how did I end up calling him Gordon? Well the first name that came to me was "Spaz" but I believe an animal will take on characteristics of what we name them. Not because they know the difference but because of the attitudes one projects when they say their name.

Example: Picture a big, strong, muscular dog named "Killer". What are your thoughts? Now picture that same dog and call it "Cupcake". Any difference? You bet there is.

So ruling out Spaz I try Flash on for size. Flash is okay, kinda. But I want him to grow into a dignified calm boy. Flash...Gordon.....Gordon! That's it!

Meet Gordon!

Hopefully he can be reevaluated and charm his tester the way he has charmed several of the volunteers.

Remember Max from previous posts? He was a barker to no end. This was his 3rd session and I could not be more proud of him. He barked a little but not much.

Check out shy, timid Max watching the Canine Good Citizen class going on behind us! Not a peep. I took this as my queue to teach him some fine leash manners. For a first lesson it wasn't bad at all.

Max is looking for a rescue to take him in and help him become the confident boy he is learning to become.

I sooooo love this boy.

Finally I worked with Linus. Linus is 10 months old and is a Mastiff x American Bulldog...and quite the looker. Problem is he has torn ligaments in both of his back legs and hip dysplasia! Each step he takes is filled with pain and contributes to a lifetime of arthritis.

His surgery is going to be incredibly expensive but he is the sweetest dog you would hope to meet. This big lug thinks he is a lap dog. He is a baby you know! If you are so inclined to make a tax deductible donation toward his care you can do so here - Donation for Linus!

Just say it is for Linus!

June 8, 2010

Shelter night!

Oh how I LOVE shelter night. The only thing I don't love about it is there are far more dogs needing help than there are hours in the evening.

Right now I'm focusing my efforts on a couple very special dogs, Max & Bullet.

I had difficulty finding Max when I got to the shelter. He was not in the area the computer said he he was in. My heart sank! Had Max done something to get his third strike? It couldn't be. Thankfully he was in a different area and the computer had not been updated.

Max has a little room mate, a white and brown Chihuahua mix. More about him later.

Max was leery of me at first and I could tell he was quite uncomfortable. I took my time with him and did three little Llama touches on his side and it was as if he remembered me from Saturday and allowed me to put he lead on him. Max walked outside with me like a good boy.

It didn't take any time at all to regain the ground we had on Saturday. Look who has learned to sit! Isn't he adorable?

Turns out he is quite the barker when concerned about something. He barked at dogs 50 yards away! He barked at people I could barely see....and he barked at the rabbit guy that uses a walker. Oh how he barked at this guy. Fortunately the rabbit guy was very patient and understanding with him. I was able to get his focus back on me and do TTouches on him to relieve his stress. By the end of our session Max was barely barking at anyone and when he did it wasn't up at the fence, he stayed by me and barked. Much better.

I used a Thundershirt on him and while I liked the effect I did not like what happened when I had to release the Velcro to get it off. Poor Max screamed, cried and ran away. Not the reaction you want with a frightened dog. I was thrilled that he was able to quickly recover and was soon sitting back in my lap getting TTouches and giving kisses. Yeah for Max.

When I put him back in his kennel his roommate was desperate for attention and desperate to get out - it was heartbreaking. Then I saw that he had failed his first behavior test and was pending retest. I'm going to seek out permission to work with him. He doesn't have a mean bone in his little body but he is terrified. I can help him with that.

Tonight Bullet was so funny. I really like that little dog. I thought our boy Marley was into his ball. Marley hates balls compared to Bullet.

We did lots of touches and lots of ball playing tonight. My goal for Bullet is for him to drop his ball when asked. We practiced dropping the ball for another ball, a throw of the ball, zig zag touches or a bite of cooked turkey hearts. He is really catching on.

If anyone is looking for a partner in fly ball or agility I'd like to recommend my buddy, Bullet.

June 5, 2010

Shelter Marathon!

Not being familiar with all the dogs we have in the shelter right now I reached out to a couple friends for recommendations on who would benefit from some TTouch. Can you believe within a very short time I had a list of 13 dogs! Holy Smokes!

So last night I organized my list of (1) Jack Russell, (3) Rottweilers, (2) Shepherd mixes, and (7) Pitbulls. Several of these dogs are overly exuberant and needed both body work and could spend some time in the Confidence Course using their brains to calm them down. A couple lack confidence or are starting to get depressed with shelter life.

This morning I arrived about 7:30 and got all set up and started working with the dogs. My very first "customer" was Jackson, a big, beautiful Pitbull. As soon as I let him off lead he ran over to my TTouch case and pee'd on it. Oh boy, we were off to a good start.

I won't tell you about each and every dog but I do want to share two very interesting ones with you.

Valentine is a Shepherd mix that is gentle and sweet. The problem is just about everything spooks her. I'm told she came from the local Indian Reservation. We see some of the saddest cases come out of there. Valentine is one of them. Fortunately everyone loves Valentine and is helping her learn the world is not so bad.

I had no expectation of taking Valentine through the Confidence Course today but I wanted her to at least experience the equipment on her own terms during her pauses in the body work. She was so brave to walk around the ladder and cones.

Valentine was very receptive to touches all over her body and face. By the end of our session Valentine walked back to her kennel far more relaxed. Yeah for Valentine!

You met Bullet in earlier posts and I worked with him again today. He did great in the Confidence Course and settled in with me far quicker and without the aid of a Thundershirt. It was great he didn't need the shirt today because it was HOT!

While I was working with Bullet the Adoption Manager was working with a 6 month old dog in the interaction area next to Bullet and I. She asked if I'd work with this boy, Max, sometime. Of course I worked on him right after Bullet.

Max came to the shelter as a newborn with his litter and his momma. Mom is a Beagle Mix and we don't know who Dad is. At the tender age of 6 months Max is destined for Rescue rather than adoption. Max has a record....a bite record. In fact Max has been adopted, bitten someone, and returned - not once, but twice.

The first adoption failed because at 10 weeks old he had an accident in the house. During a harsh reprimand he bit and broke skin. Back he came. He also bit on his 2nd adoption and was returned. Fortunately he is slated for rescue rather than euthanasia.

Max has an aversion to being touched. He is afraid and most likely for good reason. It took me about 10 min to get him on a lead so I could bring him back to the interaction area I was working in. I didn't want to frighten him so I took it very slowly. Once he was leashed he happily came with me.

Max is a dog where reading his body language and offering calming signals is very important. When I offered Max Turkey Liver and Turkey Hearts he was not the least interested. Hmmm, STRESS!

My experience with dogs that don't want touched is that if I can get a few very light Llama or Chimp touches on them and then stop it tends to break the ice. That was the case with Max. I worked with him on a 6 foot lead so he could move away from me but not run away. In very short order Max was cuddling next to me and allowing touches everywhere. I was able to work his curled under tail, do Python Lifts on his legs, Raccoon Touches on his feet and Lying Leopards all over his body. Can you believe he also allowed Mouth Touches?

On a hunch I decided to take him through the Confidence Course. He did everything I asked except the ladder. I tried to encourage him with a piece of liver but he still wasn't interested. We took a break for more touches and I tossed treats on the sheet we were sitting on and then didn't look at him. Very slowly he started eating the Turkey. Then he did the funniest thing. He went behind my back and curled around me while laying on his back. When I turned and looked at him he wiggled like a happy puppy offering his belly.

Time for the Confidence Course again. After each piece of equipment I did more touches on him. We got to the ladder and he went through like he had been doing it all his life.....all 6 months of it. I was even able to introduce some clicker training to him.

Max is one of the special dogs I'll work with on a regular basis until he finds his way out of the shelter.

So of my list of 13 dogs today I worked with 9 of them and 1 I hadn't planned on working with. I think 10 dogs on one shelter visit is a record for me.

I really wish I had photos of the dogs going through the Confidence Course but until the day comes I can figure out how to take photos of myself doing that we will just have to imagine what it was like.

I'm really proud of how far little Max came today!

June 1, 2010

Shelter night - Finally!

Well after not being able to get to the shelter last week I was thrilled to get there today.

Bullet is still looking for a Rescue group to take him in. It is suspected he may not pass his behavior test when it comes to taking away his food or toy. I really it just matters WHO does it and HOW they do it. Bullet will give me his toy if I ask nicely and offer a trade of another toy (higher or lower value is no concern to him) and I always praise him and give him a little treat.

Isn't he just the cutest? He is a very smart boy that is learning to walk nicely on a lead using the Balance Leash Plus. I don't have a harness small enough for him yet.

Honey is another special project of mine. When I first met Honey months ago I never guessed she would make it to Adoptions. Why? Because she is frightened of life. In the shelter that is enough reason for her to be euthanized.

Well Honey has a few angels watching over her and helping her along the way. She is still fearful but is also very trusting. She is no threat to anyone.

I've noticed the strangest thing when I work with Honey. She will not face me which is not strange but she will back up into me with such pressure I almost fall down!

She wants the contact and touch, she will sit on my lap facing away from me but isn't brave enough to face me.

Don't think I've ever seen a tail tucked up under a dog so tight in all my days! So, Honey gets lots and lots of tail work. We use the saying "Calm the tail and calm the dog", I'm trying to create a "Happy tail" to get a "Happy dog".

Lastly there is Charlie! Charlie is a Boxer & Greyhound mix puppy.

He has been adopted out twice. Not sure why he was returned the first time but the second return was of no fault of his own. It was not a match made in Heaven. Charlie was sent home with an older woman and her small dog. A jolly happy puppy like Charlie needs a sturdier family and when he knocked over the visiting grand kid it was back to the shelter for him! He is a big puppy so these things are bound to happen.

When Charlie was brought to me for his session tonight my friend wished me luck and hoped he would calm down enough to get the work. It told her No Problem and put on his Thundershirt!

With puppies like Charlie and Bullet I let them play and then do some touches, then off to play again. It seems to be a good balance for them. No way are they gonna hold still for a long session. Moments, not minutes.