Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The jokes on us though! Star's dog/dog play manners have been great and she's been actively working to help the shy Mr. Jiggs get comfortable with dogs and up to speed on his play. Such a sensitive creature. She seems to know that he's a worrier and does everything she can to entice him to fun without overwhelming him. Wouldn't it figure? These dogs sure like reminding us that they're individuals; full of surprises. Here's a few photos from this morning's pre-rain shower play session.
Viva the Blur ....
You may have read about Officer Pato on our facebook page. She brought this puppy in to Antioch Animal Services when he was at death's door then refused to accept a veterinarian's warning that he would likely be dead in the morning. Cold to the touch and unable to lift his head or walk, she kept him going on tiny rations of food and fluids round the clock until the life returned to his dried up shell of a body. It doesn't seem to get much worse that this (photo below) - but don't let yourself get too focused on how bad he looked. That's done.
Little Lulu, Before:
The little girl pictured above has an Oakland teenager to thank for saving her life. We learned through an email that Rebecca Yuen has a reputation for helping animals at Skyline High School. When she was asked to take in this stray that wandered on campus, she correctly inventoried the fresh wounds and skin condition and knew the news wasn't good. Experience had shown her that her poor health would likely cost her her life at the local shelter. So she wrote this email that got our attention:
A little voice that needs to be heard.
Hi Donna or Whom it May Concern,
My name is Rebecca and I am 19 years old who can't afford to take in a pocket pittie I found today today at Skyline High School in Oakland, California where teachers spent some time trying to catch her at 5am. They succeeded and was able to keep her in an enclosed area, and that's when my sister who is a student there called me knowing I am a pit bull lover. She looks like she is about a year old, and she is not in good condition. She has an infected right eye, her right ear is all dried and scabby, and she has patches of missing hair through out her body, looks like mange. She also has a few fresh sores on her paws and what not. I do NOT want to take her to Oakland Animal Services, because last time I found a pit bull she got put down. I even took her into my home for a night, fed her, bathe her, and they still put her down so I am scared with what may happen to this little girl. I cannot keep her as I have three dogs of my own, I called rescues who will not take her because they all told me to take her to OAS, and you guys are my last hope even though I know you guys have a bunch of pit bulls of your own to care for. Please, please, please -- I am desperate for help. She is the sweetest little girl and if you guys can't take her in she will have to go to OAS.
We weren't sure if "the little voice that needs to be heard" belonged to Rebecca or the dog. Maybe both.
While she waits, she and Jiggy are doing what young dogs do best: romping, rolling, wrestling, and generally reminding all of us that they have a whole lotta life to live. With many thanks to Officer Pato, to the teachers of Skyline High and to Rebecca for your brave, determined hearts.
UPDATE: Happy News! Lulu is now named 'Ivie Lu' and is living the good life with her new family. Photos here.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Yes, Star has a Room with a View. Doncha just love it??
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
It took some time to find him. Where did he go? His little legs carried his little self all the way to the barn. Then, up onto the sofa, kicking off the pillows and settling in to have a quiet conversation with the dogs that live their now. There he was, at peace in his first-ever home in California.
I smiled, took this photo and tip-toed away so as not to disturb him. As pleasant as a sip of sweet tea on this first day of summer.
The light shining down onto the top of Nita's head is a reflection from her halo, too. (That's what Nita would like everyone to believe anyway.) As Donna said about her, this kinda cute ought to be illegal.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Star had a milestone: One full day with no pee in her kennel. YAY. She's finally getting the hang of things and slowed her busy brain down for some quality chillaxin time. Later, she got to practice her favorite-ever activity and enjoyed nose work fun with Letti and Anita.
Bouncer came by for a visit, and while his mom was signing final adoption papers (yeeah!), he hung out with American Bully cousin Nita. The two stubby legged low riders hit it off immediately.
What's an American Bully? It's a new style of dog recently created by mixing a few different breeds together. Take a look see.
Finally, a new dog (still nameless) moved into the barn to spend a week of get-to-know-you-time before she goes to foster care. A sheet went up to help Jondi and the new kid get used to each other. Yep - they can still peek at each other, but the sheet offers some privacy and helps reinforce friendly roommate manners. By encouraging good relations between the dogs, we create an environment that's as stress free as possible while increasing each dog's social skills. We'll unveil the little imp who's hiding behind the curtain very soon.
Above: Owned dogs Lola, Sally, Elliot, Chunk and Honky Tonk watch from a miserable distance as the barn yard buzzes with people, fun, laughter and - gasp! - treats for the orphans-in-training. So. Not. Fair.
Friday, June 17, 2011
My parents believed in good old-fashioned home training: saying please and thank you, keeping our elbows off the table, not interrupting adult conversation, using our inside voices and so on. Similarly dogs living at the barn learn basic doggie etiquette. Welcome to “Barn Charm School”!
Barn dogs learn to sit and wait politely before leaving or entering any door. They also learn to sit and wait politely before meals. They get it pretty quickly since it’s the key to getting to the fun stuff and also being fed – really strong motivation. They learn to come when they are called. And eventually, even the most untrained dogs learns to...ahem... relieve themselves outdoors and not in their kennels.
But, just as children sometimes forget their manners, so too do the dogs. Star, a high energy and uber-smart little redhead who lived her previous life on the end of a short chain, had no such training before coming to the barn. This untrained girl took to nose-work as if she was born to it, and problem solves like a little four-legged Hermione Granger. But although she now knows that polite dogs sit and wait, she sometimes jumps up and down in excitement when a barn crew member comes to her kennel. New volunteers like me, learn how to gently and firmly remind forgetful dogs like Star that good etiquette requires a polite sit and wait. Star is whip-smart and usually remembers very quickly, the sheepish expression on her little elfin face saying, “oops, sorry tall lady – I remember now. I’m sitting and waiting nicely now so can I please, please, PLEASE go outside?” This picture shows Star demonstrating her best sit and wait manners at the barn door.
One of Catherine’s earlier posts talked about ways that the barn crew work to lower stress levels. But the dogs themselves contribute to making the environment pleasant and low-stress for all of the residents as well the crew by practicing good doggie etiquette, and it starts with a polite sit and wait. It’s all so very civilized at the "Barn Charm School".
Anita, Barn Crew Trainee
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Here's Nita perfecting that down, with a nice "Look" to go along with it.
And here's Anita helping Zack add some finishing touches to his down-stay.
Guess we can practice in the tall grass, too. Here's Anita working with Jondi on her training for the day. And Zack one more time demonstrating what a loooooong down looks like:
The dogs make this look pretty easy. But everyone, dogs and Barn Crew together, worked hard to achieve these beautiful downs. Good work Everyone!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
As you can see, they had themselves a good old time and Zack gained some new skills. Oh - you'll see him wearing a blow up bite collar in the video. We left it on on purpose. Even though it was originally meant to stop him from licking his cracked foot pads, it served brilliantly as a "Back Off!" buffer to dogs who might otherwise gnaw at his neck during play. Since Zack's issues with dogs source from fear and inexperience, it was a huge help to his ego that the normally grabby crew was forced to keep just a little bit of a distance during his play. In future play sessions, we'll take it off ... We don't want our big boy getting all power trippy from it.
Don't tell the bite collar people, but we may just have to market their product as a help for select dog/dog intros. Enjoy.
Monday, June 6, 2011
A variety of ways are employed to help the dogs, especially those new to the barn, alleviate stress. One of our crew members loves doing TTouch massage on the dogs whenever they appear a bit too tightly wound. We have soothing music playing in the barn oftentimes to ensure a peaceful atmosphere. Crew members also use the same strategies we would use with our own pets: sitting with them wherever the dogs are most comfortable, taking a leisurely stroll around the yard or the neighborhood, watching the sun set together, standing side-by-side and gazing at the stars, standing together silently and letting the dogs just be while taking in the new scents brought in by the breezes. (Hopefully, the breezes only bring in molecules and not golf balls whizzing by your head. That'll interrupt that quiet moment.)
Here's a demonstration of how to relax and enjoy that quiet moment at the end of the shift after everyone's been exercised, trained and fed:
We also reinforce calm behavior in the dogs, e.g. clicking for quiet and settling. So, the crew will find a variety of ways for the residents, including our new red girl, Jondi, to settle into the new environment, be comfortable, content, and, hopefully, stress-free. Oh yes, doing your shift at the barn is a great way for crew members to relieve their own stress and worries.
Photo of Nita and Zack and Anita.
Her name is Jondi and just under two weeks ago, her owner jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. Before she drove to the bridge, she laid a file of info including vet records on her dining room table for her friends to find. In her final two minutes before she jumped, probably while she was standing on the bridge and staring back to Oakland, she sent an email to a mutual friend asking him to please come check in on her dog. We can't begin to imagine the pain that Jondi's owner was feeling as she said good-bye to her life and to her pet, but we do know that she loved her dog very much.
Now homeless, Jondi has accepted life in a barn kennel, surrounded by many of the toys her person left for her. Unfortunately she was not properly socialized to other dogs before she came to us, so we have some work to do to sort out her limits and to help her get on track. This is a work in progress. Because we know her owner, we're experiencing a mix of grief, sadness and of course anger. There are a thousand ways to list "if onlys, " but for now we have to take Jondi's lead, stay in the present and help her as best we can.
We'll post updates as it seems appropriate. For now, please send your best wishes to this little red elf of a dog, and a prayer to her owner.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
I am NOT a barn dog. That is so beneath me.
Yep - I'm a man of the world now. AND I have news ... big, big, BIG news that the people say I can't tell until Thursday.
Zack is one of those dogs who came to us feeling very defensive about other dogs. He huffed & puffed and tried his best to scare Nita away. Lucky for us, she had her own ideas about how their friendship should go, and her pushy nature won out.
Now that they're both bff we can't keep them apart. We finally had to put a new note on the volunteer board for our party girl: "Nita needs less Zack-time now and more one-on-one work for better - *ahem* - obedience." Never a dull moment getting the kinks ironed out and the dogs ready for prime time.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Barn Crew Expands
... Chunk, Robin, Winnie, Bouncer, Eva Peace, Rosie, Josephine, Ferdi, Camellia, Jimmy Legs, Hypatia, Pepper, Arnie, Fazool, Belinda, Katie Bug, Darla Jane, Tater, Emma, Atomic Betty, Ayse ...
... They're some of the dogs who've spent time in BR's Rescue Barn since we first opened our doors last summer. This modest facility in the Oakland hills serves as a halfway house of sorts for dogs in crisis - specifically, victims of shelter overcrowding, cruelty, foreclosures and emergency medical cases. .The quiet environment and natural setting have been ideal for helping stressed dogs get their bearings and allows them to be healthy, happy dogs again. As they relax, we can learn who they are and design next steps in their transition towards life with permanent families.
Our dog handlers become an important anchor for the dogs during this time at the barn. They serve as the dogs' family and provide everything from clicker training to nose work fun to toenail trims to play parties to plain old fashioned cuddling on the sofa -- all of it is crucial to the dogs' well being and recovery. (Left: Donyale bonds with Winnie, shortly after her arrival from a cruelty case in Gadsden County FL)
LINK: Barn Crew Job Description
Thank you to everyone who applied for these volunteer positions! They've been filled, but we encourage you to see how you can volunteer with your local shelter to help the pit bull type dogs. They're waiting for someone just like you to give them comfort during this difficult time in their lives.