Wednesday, December 25, 2013

naughty or nice?

Joon's a little bit naughty,

oops - someone got caught counter-surfing & stealing goodies!

.....and a whole lotta nice!


Happy Holidays y'all.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Elfie, exhale

We always worry just a bit when new dogs go home until we get that one little piece of news that all is well. Like this.

Just a photo, and we exhale. Welcome home, wee one. You look mighty happy.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mosey, a shy dog on the move

We met her at Hayward Animal Services. We were in shopping mode because we had several great applications in hand from folks who wanted well socialized, easy-ish dogs. Our hope was to find a good match for one or more of the apps and help everybody out. That grand plan shifted when we met Mosey.

She was trying her best to pretend she didn't exist and was so frightened that she could barely move her body. We cooed and massaged and whispered to her, but she was checked out. She stood frozen: wouldn't make eye contact or take treats or ask for a connection. We were with shelter staff from New Mexico who were participating in our 'Pit Ed Camp' workshops. We talked about the special needs of shy dogs, then left the shelter - all feeling pretty crummy. None of our applicants would want her, and she would not make it to the adoption floor, so she was a goner.

As we drove home, Tim and I looked at each other and said, "What are we doing?" We made plans to go back and get her the following Monday.

She was no less catatonic when she came home. It was as if she thought she'd stay safe if she just pretended she wasn't alive. "I don't know about this one," I said to Tim, "She's pretty far gone." In his usual we-can-do-it style, he reminded me to give her time. Even so, I warned the Barn Crew team not to get attached. I explained what a compassion case was to our newest team members and watched them roll the concept around in their minds.

In the meantime, some of our applicants went away, determined to find their easy-ish dogs somewhere else. We shrugged it off - Good applications will come again. Mosey just stared off into space - our adoption game meant nothing to her.

The one thing that Mosey perked up for was Elliot. She wouldn't move a muscle unless he was there to lure her. So every time we needed to take her outside, we shouted for Elliot. He was happy to oblige.

Eventually, she started skipping alongside him and asking to play. And then, she started lying next to Tim when he was at his computer. She was still scared of everything, but she'd found a couple of things that gave her comfort and a few happy moments to finally be alive.

We decided to move her out of Tim's carving studio and into the barn. She was clearly thrilled to be around so many dogs but she was very shy around the team. When people came to visit, we asked them to ignore Mosey and call Beetle onto the sofa for cuddles. Within seconds, Mosey would be at their side too. Later, during her second vet visit, our vet discovered a large foxtail that had been in her ear for a very long time. It had gone deep and ruptured her ear drum. We have no idea how long she lived with that incredible pain. Our vet dug it out and put it in a plastic specimen tube for us to take home and amaze over. It's such a good reminder that troubled dogs may have fixable problems we can't see right away.

She was at her happiest when she was in the yard with dog friends. One morning when the sun was particularly warm and cheerful, and Elliot and Beetle were romping nearby, I offered Mosey a tug toy. I nearly fell over when she grabbed it and asked for a tug. "Shy dogs don't tug," I told Mosey. For a minute, Mosey told me, "But I'm not shy."

As she got comfortable, she started grumbling and barking in a very weird Ewok voice whenever anyone walked into the barn. It wasn't a warning growl. She was starting to demand attention - the sign of a dog who expects more from life. "We need to teach her another way to ask for what she wants, and then the grumbling will go away." Easier said then done. Mosey wouldn't offer a sit, so trying to capture it with a quick reward was feeling impossible. And when we lured the treat over her head, she'd follow it with huge, pleading eyes - all four feet firmly committed to standing steady. We skipped the lesson and gave her ample treats for the warm eye contact instead.

Over Thanksgiving a little miracle happened when barn crew member Anita Joe finally convinced Mosey that she'd get a treat if she sat her butt on the ground. Once the lightbulb was on, Mosey proudly offered a 'Sit' again and again and again. This was a milestone in her recovery. Finally, she had some control over here Universe. Whenever she sat, we offered a treat. Hundreds of treats. She was so proud of herself and walked much taller with this skill in her pocket. And yes, the grumbling/barking went away and was replaced by a quick 'Sit' at the kennel door and wide saucer eye contact.

During this time, a WA-based family came by to meet our dogs. They had a gorgeous young daughter named Elliot, a senior chihuahua and a small farm filled with slaughterhouse rescues. We showed them Puddles, who would do well with so many creatures in his home. And Darla, who had lived with a cat in her past, and Elfie - who wanted to curl into their arms. They loved them all, but zoomed in on -- Mosey. "Tell me about the shy one," Shama asked. Shama had adopted a timid dog named Twyla from BR years ago, and she'd recently passed on. It made sense that she'd be attracted to Mosey. "She's just starting to come around," we told them. They left for home with a promise to mull the big decision over.

A few days later, I picked up their email while out on errands and cheered to Tim. "Mosey! They want Mosey!" They said they thought she had something special. Tim plays in a band so would be back in the bay area practicing for a big show. He made arrangements to come collect her after his work was done, and Shama stayed home, eager to welcome their new dog. Excited emails flew back and forth as we confirmed the arrangements. Photo above: Mosey's last play session with BFF Elliot, showing off that newly trademarked Mosey grin.

Photos from her departure below.

Her get-acquainted walk with new dad Tim. Frightened of traffic, we kept her on a quiet street with Elliot there as her training wheels, of course.

It took two human coaches, a big soft dog bed, a bag of treats and an oversized husky to help her want to investigate the car before her big road trip north. "You can do it, girl."

Finally, all settled in, she and new dad Tim get ready to hit the road. My camera caught her worried face, looking out to Elliot, no doubt. She'll be home and with her new chihuahua friend in no time and we all look forward to hearing about her progress as it starts to sink in that she's home.

Fare-thee-well Mosey. You are one brave girl. With many thanks to Tim and Shama for recognizing her potential and opening your hearts and home.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Benny and swoon

Benny, looking suave in the low morning light

Yeah, I have a type. I like 'em shy and needy with huge blocky heads. The squintier, more wide set the eyes, the better. Benny isn't particularly shy or needy, but he's just so handsome, I absolutely fell in love when I met him at the Barn last week. I knew this cutie already had a girlfriend -- Joon, the beautiful redhead he'd showed up with -- but I didn't feel that meant we couldn't hang out.

Sadly though, my efforts to talk to him proved fruitless. Outside of his kennel, Benny couldn't be bothered to glance my way. (What am I -- back in high school? Over here, cute boy...) The big hunk was more interested in marking, digging, and sniffing around. Boy stuff. I'd ask for a sit and he'd turn around and bark.

Back at his place

This week, it was a whole different story (again, eerily high-school like). Not sure whether it was the focused one-on-one time that had happened over the past few days or the fact that he was now neutered (probably both), but Benny was listening and heeding cues like we'd been dancing together all our lives. Ok, I exaggerate a little, but holy cow, what a difference -- and what a testament to the folks who'd worked with him all week -- a little training makes. "Sit," "down," "leave it" -- no problem.

So now Benny and I weren't just talking, we were communicating. And the best part was that every so often, instead of rewarding him with a treat, I scratched his cheeks and kissed his head. And Benny, that big lug, nuzzled in for more. A week ago, I would've said this guy is never gonna be one of those dogs who's into affection.

Wrong. Once again, initial judgment proves horribly inaccurate. Thankfully, Benny wasn't offended.
Benny's real girlfriend, Joon

Friday, December 6, 2013

Calendar Time!

A shameless plug for the calendars that highlight some of our favorite barn dogs from 2013. Diamond dug her paws in deep to our hearts so was a natural for the cover glam.

Inside, you'll find Smudge, Yum-Yum, Sammie, Elton, Mighty Tiny, Mia, Tip Little, Faline, Corky, Diamond, Loni, Sassy, Puddles, Zuzu, Rhonda and Gum.

Link to order: BADRAP's 2014 Calendars

And this year, with so many photos of Elliot at the barn falling out of our photo files, it washigh time for a tribute to his work with the barn dogs.

It was a very good year, with some of the fastest adoption turn around we've seen since starting this work. We're not sure when the dogs crossed the tipping point from misunderstood misfits to highly sought after cyber-celebs, but times have changed for the better and we're all loving it!

Thanks so much for your kind support as we march these pups into a brighter future.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mosey and Elliot: the rock duo that could have been

No matter how great a particular handler may be, for some pups, sometimes there’s no substituting a fellow canine. They’re just more comfortable around dogs. Hey, I get it. There are plenty of times I’m not up for hanging out with humans.

When Mosey first arrived, I thought she might have been one of those dogs. From the get-go, she loved Elliot (again, I get it) but she was pretty shy around people. It didn’t take long, however, before she let us know, “Hey, I think I'm into hanging out with you crazy two-leggers after all.”

Ahhh... I'd been hoping she'd come to that conclusion. True, Mosey’s only been around a few weeks, and is still getting her bearings, but signs point in a very promising direction.

That said, she continues her unabashed crush on Elliot. And Elliot, the natural charmer, happily takes her under his furry wing. A few photos from their morning play session, as thought-bubbled by the husky:

“Smell that, Mosey? What am I saying, of course you do. You’re a dog.”

“Aww, what a good girl. We’ll keep ya around, kid.”

“Ok, now be serious and pose for the album cover we would have made had we been a pop rock duo in the 80s.”

Predicted: More good times ahead for those two.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

the morning romp

Darla, Beetle and Elliot go kookie ballistic when they see each other at the gate, so romps are a daily must. Shy Beetle's actually a little bit apprehensive around the big, furry confident thing but he's fascinated enough to brave up when the spirit moves. If Elliot only knew how star-struck this nerdy little guy was, but he's too smitten with Darla to notice.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Elfie is not a flower

Meet the newest little girl in the barn - Elfie.  She's sweet enough to make your teeth hurt and during my first shift with her, I saw her blossom like a flower in the morning sun.

It was her 2nd day at the barn; she was a little shy and barked uncertainly at me (stranger, stranger!!).  I "ignored" her so she watched me as I interacted with the other barn pups, greeting each of them, praising them for good kennel manners and rewarding them with a little kibble and some petting when they showed off their obedience skills.  She watched as Beetle and Darla and Booberry each greeted me happily, as they left their kennels for play-time in the yard, and as they returned, tired but still happy. 

By the time I finally approached her kennel to meet her, Elfie had decided that MAYBE I wasn't a scary person.  She dropped to her belly  when I opened her kennel door, but she was willing to greet me, and after a few treats and pets, Elfie decided that Aunty Barn Lady was her newest friend and crawled onto my lap for a cuddle. 

After our introduction, Elfie and I explored the yard, played together a while, and then it was time for Elfie to earn her kibble and start the work that would help to make her someone's newest family member.  Yup, time for basic obedience lessons.  So, to help boost Elfie's confidence, we focused on two commands - look and touch.  Here's Elfie at work.



Look........."OK, and can I please sit on your lap?"

Look............"Sure, and could I have one of those yummy treats you have in your pockets?"

Later in the shift, a suitor came by to visit Darla.  Elfie, in her neighboring kennel, was curious to see the visitor and stood on her hind legs to get a better look.  And when she got to meet the visitor, Elfie immediately gave her kisses and begged for a belly rub.  Yup, Elfie's no flower but I sure saw her blossom.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eye Candy

Here is your weekly dose, courtesy of Faline. 

She's getting her beauty rest and looking forward to partying the night away at Gund-a-palooza

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kasbah, unleashed

My first morning with the pony that is Kasbah - I have to confess - the first words out of my mouth were, "Oh No." He was big and bouncy and immediately climbed me like a jungle gym and held my arm in his big sloppy mouth like he was holding my hand on a first date. Oh noooo...

He got knocked out of the adoption program at his Yolo County shelter for being a "little too much" for his handlers. Right. So gluttons that we are, we said Yes! - especially since Rhonda was a no-go for bigger dogs when she first came to the barn and needed someone who was oblivious enough to be her first friend. That would be Kasbah.

He was perfectly innocent in his affections - he was just trying to enjoy the best kind of contact in the only way he knew how. Even so, we walked around with a squirt bottle for two days so Kasbah wouldn't be tempted to monkey his way up to the top of our heads. I amazed at the nice green bruises I got from those fun first days together.

And then the inevitable happened. His brain clicked in: "Four on the Floor - Yes!" and we all started to fall in love with the bigger than life kid. Love, I'm telling you ... Love!

I think Rhonda may have wanted to eat him the first couple of days - I really can't remember how it all went down, except that he tried so so so so hard to make her love him that eventually she caved and they became buds.

"Play with Me! Play with Me! PLAY WITH ME!"

By the time we made this video, Kasbah had earned the award for most improved barn pup and we hated the thought of seeing him go. But go they must do.

And now, he has his very own home with his very own mom and dog family and ... his very own blog! Lisa Harrington was kind enough to take me seriously when I mentioned that the world deserved a little peek into the adventures of Kasbah and Company. Enjoy!

Three Dog Nights

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Another midnight shift at the barn, so the four barn pooches got to practice doing some house-dog things.

Booberry of the little pink moustache decided he'd rather play with toys outside in the dark for a while, so his picture is MIA.

Tip Little isn't too sure what he's supposed to do while practicing his lap dog skills.  Don't worry guy, you'll figure it out soon enough.

But Beetle Juice and Darla Dickens sure know what to do!

Shhhhh.....don't wake the puppies. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Faline's to-do list

 1. Look adorable for the people

2. Make Beetle smile

3. Convince Uba to love me

Check, check and check.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

the help

Barn blog readers know that young house-dog Elliott is a regular member of the Barn Crew, helping with the training and assessment of barn dogs.  And now, it seems, from within the ranks of the barn dogs, another volunteer has stepped up, a volunteer with her OWN special skill.....

Excuse me Aunty Barn Lady......can I help you with those dishes?

Take that sticky spoon there with  peanut butter on it.

That gunk might block the drains but being an environmentally conscious dog (and a smart one too), I can help to dispose of it.

Please hold that spoon out.right.there.

Mmphffff....slurp, slurp, slurp, mmphffff......

I think the spoon is just about ready for you to wash now, Aunty.

Thanks Darla, you're a great helper!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Kasbah rocks, Darla rolls (the ball)

All I’d heard about this new Barn dog Kasbah was that he was "a bit of a handful." So when I found out I’d be handling him at a Pit Ed Class/Open House, I was nervous. Kas the Spaz indeed lived up to his name. Clearly a sweet dog, but one who’d never who’d been required to be polite or deal with impulse control. 

The crazy thing is, when we talk about Kasbah now, it’s not about how far he’s come or how well his training has gone. All of that is true, but Kasbah’s lasting legacy is that he is the greatest play partner a dog could ever hope for. He’s so much fun, so energetic, yet totally appropriate. He plays fair, doesn’t get his feelings hurt, and is happy to handicap himself with smaller pups.

Establishing boundaries and pouring on that training sauce didn’t just turn him into a well-behaved little man – it allowed his star qualities to shine through.

Kasbah won’t be at the Barn forever, and of course that’s a good thing. So is it luck that one of the new arrivals, Darla, seems to be a naturally gracious play pal as well? To see her and Kasbah in the yard together is pretty much dog poetry. Or maybe it’s like a good dancer who elevates the rest of the troupe – in this case, Kasbah makes his partners look like they can really tango. 

Could be that Kasbah’s style has rubbed off on Darla; more likely, she's savvy in her own right. Either way, it’s nice to know we’ll have another play-wunderkind around when he’s moved on. Check it out:

Kas has the ball as Darla approaches and Puddles (at left) referees.

And just like that, Darla's got it!

Queen of Dog Mountain, Darla flaunts her prize.
And... down it rolls. Let the game begin again.

PS. Just looked over at another window on my computer screen and saw the BADRAP update. Kasbah has been adopted! eeeeeeeeeee!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mighty Tiny - Lasts, and firsts

MTeeee has left the building! It sure was an experience hosting him here. He kept everybody including the dogs on their toes with his terrier-style bravado and made us slap our foreheads and laugh several times a day. We still don't know what his breed make-up is, but we're sure he broke the mold when he was born.

Here are some of his final moments and big firsts. So long, feisty little man!

Last mountain climbing mission to the barn's treat stash.

Last bath with Mr. Tim.

Last play session with Bonnie the Pup.

Whoops. Apparently he's not quite done mountain climbing for treats yet.

Last time you get to pester Uncle Elliot.

FIRST training class! Show us what you know, Mighty Tiny.

First real home with his proud new dad.
Congratulations to both boys on finding each other.
We wish you many happy adventures in the years ahead!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

double trouble

Here's a sweet picture of our two pups looking rather innocent and well behaved ....or are they?  Let's look at the evidence, shall we. 

First, notice the wet and muddy footprints on the porch, and hmmmm.....are those 2 sets of damp looking slightly muddy paws? 

Now let's do a little rewind.  Oh, what do we have here? 

Someone's on the lookout while the furrier of the two stands on the table to take a peek through the open cabin window - no doubt plotting to steal any stray cookies conveniently laying around.

As we scroll back further through the photographic evidence, look what else we uncover! 

Over in the garden behind the tall plants where you might almost miss seeing them - why it's 2 rascally pups! 

Mighty Tiny is standing guard again while Bonny takes a little dip in her own little wading pool aka drinking fountain for some of the bigger dogs aka garden water-feature. 

It's elementary Watson - the source of those paw prints on the porch are our very own dynamic duo....not so innocent, double trouble in fur.