Tuesday, November 29, 2011
First, with Elliot who's just way-too-kind about horny humping.
Next, with Jondi who will not be so kind.
And finally, if he doesn't get it, with Birdy who we're quite sure will be very scary and make a lasting do-not-hump impression.
All these life's lessons will come in handy with a new dog intolerant girl who's on her way to our program in two or so weeks.
Using dogs to teach others dogs so they can teach the dogs, and then hopefully teach other dogs. They do great work and they only charge kibble, so how can you lose?
Saturday, November 26, 2011
New kid Dan the Dog with that classic "WHA? Where am I?" stunned face look that comes from waking up in a strange new place.
Dan came from a connection made with Pasadena Humane at the recent SAWA conference (yay for conferences!). He'd run out of time, so they jumped at the chance to save a life. Within two days of us finding out about Dan, they put his butt on a plane and he landed in his new hometown of Oakland. We love a shelter that doesn't hesitate to help their dogs. Thanks to Lorna Campbell, Ricky Whitman and the rest of you big hearts at PHS.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
and more butt scratches.
We also feel pretty lucky to have kongs, lots of toys and treats, soft blankets, the flirt pole, a big yard to run around with our friends, and a safe, warm place that we call home until our real home is ready for us. But mostly, thanks to BADRAP (Donna and Tim) for making sure we had that one last chance.
Love and happy holiday from all of the barn residents, past and present.
(That's Mei (barn crew trainee) giving Miss Birdy a final good night and oh-so-good scratches.)
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
She'll likely have many happy months ahead of her, so our job is to search out the best patch of sun for her with a human who is okay with making difficult end-care decisions. Some call this work 'fospice care,' which we like very much.
Here's what her fospice bio might look like: "Miss Birdy adores all people and life in general. She's ridiculously cheerful and over-the-moon grateful to have your company. She has more spunk than you'd think an older, sick dog should have. She is housetrained (a hint of a former life indoors?). She is polite around dogs but doesn't necessarily have the mind to play with them. Elliot is cautious around her - maybe he just knows that she's not well. She was starved beyond recognition this year and it's likely she ate anything she could get her mouth on - bugs? pigeons? icky things off the cement that no dog should ever eat. For that reason, she needs to be reminded not to graze the ground anymore when out on walks. Her prey drive for cats is rather impressive for an old sick gal.
She's going to live really, really well, and then she's going to pass on and make us all wish we had more time. But that's the joy of doing fospice care -- it slams you face first into the realization that life is short and incredibly precious. Birdy is a gift to all of us. We look forward to seeing her belong to somebody and for somebody to belong to her."
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Patsy enjoying some freshly picked doggie salad greens. Ah, this is the life, balancing out the diet.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
I won't pick at the scab of what was "wrong" with her here. Not necessary. What was right with her was that several people loved her and still hold her in their hearts. In my mind, she boomeranged right back to the planet and jumped straight into the body of a newly conceived pup so we humans could have another shot at getting it right. Are we getting it right yet? Yeah - we have some work to do.
Looking at this photo of Lucy aches. Most every shelter worker and rescuer we work with has a long list of the same ache. They come along with the 'job' of helping damaged animals - an occupational hazard of the heart. How much they (we) talk about it publicly depends on how willing they (we) are to face the understandable hurt and anger from their volunteers and public. We were lucky - in Lucy's case, the entire crew of dog handlers understood and silently nodded in agreement when we announced that it was time for her to go.
That will be the way it is at the barn. We'll take in some of the most neglected dogs in the country, and most of the time, they'll walk away with new lives. But sometimes, they're only here to find some love and friendship before they leave the planet.
Rest in peace, beautiful Lucy. Your home will always be here in the heart of the barn.
Monday, November 7, 2011
In fact, a couple of evenings ago, the air in the barn was noticeably chilly. So we introduced the girls to warm woolies and each got to wear a lovely sweater for the night. Here they are modelling their new nightwear - da daaah!!
Patsy looks snug in her Tasmanian Devil sweater as she beds down for the night.
Here's Star looking quite sporty in her forest green sweater. That blur in the back?
That's Star's tail wagging like crazy as she supervises while Lettie turns on a space heater to take the chill off the night air.
And Jondi? That's no pose. She's already half asleep on the couch in her navy blue sweater. How pretty!
Yup, it's sweater season and these three amiga's are all set for cold winter nights.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
It's fun working with the pooches on new skills, watching them learn how to do nose work, touch, shaping, flirt pole work, walking a treadmill - the list goes on. But I've learned that unless the barn dogs keep practicing those basics so that they react without a second thought, they get - well rusty, even a bit sloppy. Yes, it's true. So, along with the fun stuff, its time for the barn pooches to get back to regular basics drills.
Exiting a door? Sit-stay, look, down-stay
Entering a door? Sit-stay, look, down-stay
Want a toy? Sit-stay, look, down-stay
Ready to play? Sit-stay, look, down-stay
Going for a walk? Sit-stay, look, down-stay
Ready for dinner? Sit-stay, look, down-stay etc. etc. etc.
Repetition, repetition, repetition. The drills are brain training so that eventually, no matter what distraction presents itself, the dogs automatically react to commands without even thinking. All part of the work to prepare the pooches for life with a forever family.
Here they are practicing down-stay. First up, the visiting Teddles.
Great form Teddles - your mom's done a great job with you!
And now sweet Jondi.
OK - a bit sloppy there Jondi.
All the way down please.
Try it again.
Ahhh, nice looooong down-stay.
And finally, our other resident red-head Star; learns new things in a snap, but loooong down-stays are her Achilles heel.
Staying down IS tough but keep working on it, and you'll find it easier and easier.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Elliot's job is to 1) keep me sane 2) remind me what it feels like to have a dog that doesn't attract negative attention and 3) help us socialize the dogs that come through our program. He's done a stunning job on all accounts. I can't explain why he knows how to de-stress dogs. Maybe it's because the sled dogs are closer to their ancestral wolf-y roots, who first developed canine body language? but the cues he offers to scared, sassy and under-socialized dogs are pure genius. Growling dog? Elliot turns his head slightly, yawns and lays down. Stiff body posture? Elliot slowly turns his rump to the worried nose, "Here. Smell me." I really have to peel my jaw off the floor one of these days and get some of his work on video. Here he is working his magic on the worried Nita.
Happy Birthday Elliot, and thanks again kind Universe for sending this dog our way!
The most famous barn helper video of all ..