Monday, December 22, 2014

Tiny Home sings our (new) theme song

We couldn't love this more. Arranged and played live on the steps of our Tiny Cabin, surrounded by a full moon sky, crickets, some of the home dogs and barn dogs too, naturally. Tiny Home is the heart project of Barn Crew member Sonya Cotton and her beau Gabe Dominguez.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Manny Problems....

"I jumped on the counter all by myself today!" 

"Now what do I do?" 

"How do I get down? You want me to jump? No thanks........ The treats won't convince me either Barn Lady."
"Thank you Jose. I love you" 

Monday, November 10, 2014

when a toothy correction is a dog's best friend

Meet: Felix the five month old whatzit puppy.

We adore Felix. But he was a little pushy, a little rude with the dogs when he first arrived here. His excuse? He's a PUPPY! Like most baby dogs, Felix' favorite motto is Me-Me-Me, and he just couldn't seem to beg enough attention from the big kids that he looks up to.

Thankfully, the dogs here stepped in to impart some necessary lessons in appropriate dog manners. Through it all, Felix is learning how to be a little gentleman. We think his future home and playmates will appreciate the education, even if they have no idea that he once needed it.

Most of the adult dogs in our program have had to pull out some What-For with Felix and meter it to fit his crimes, but none is better than Elliot.

Felix was obsessed with Elliot from Day One and had been doggedly determined to snake his tongue down his throat in a form of frantic handshake that pushed way beyond E's personal boundaries.

It was time for some smack down. Witness, the warm up:

That stiff pose, that pinchy faced 'hard stare'

followed by

twitching lips,

flattening ears,

a show of gums,

a deep, low grrrrrowl.

The perfect warning, meant to give Felix plenty of time to reconsider his obsession with French kissing the Maestro.

... But Felix cannot help himself. Just a few quick flicks of the tongue should soothe cranky Elliot, right?

"Don't make me do it, kid."

Slurp, slurp, slurp, SLURP!

And then, KAPOW!

A gloriously LOUD correction. Delivered swiftly, with convincing drama. Meant to impress, but just shy of pressing teeth into the pup's offending snout. (That will come later, if he doesn't get the hint)

Felix squealed in fright - or, mock fright. (He's a tough little nut). We folded our arms and shrugged. Elliot stared him down, waiting to see if he needed a rinse, repeat.

Allowing pups to learn dog rules via appropriate corrections from well socialized (puppy experienced) adult dogs during monitored play sessions will fast track them into becoming well rounded adult dogs themselves.

That's not to say that pups who miss out on these lessons will be socially awkward for life .. Even the most socially bankrupt dogs from some of the worst beginnings (think: dog fight cases) can and do catch on quick to appropriate play with the right kind of opportunity and well matched play partners. But life is just SO much easier with a little mentoring from an agreeable adult in those early weeks.

Those tough love lessons and toothy corrections may seem scary to us, but they help build a strong bond between the dogs. If we'd interrupted the corrections, Felix would've gained nothing, and we would risk allowing him to practice and repeat rude manners in other settings. We'd also risk putting Elliot in a position of needing to do a more serious and potentially harmful correction when our backs were turned.

Instead, they worked out an agreement under our watchful eye and their relationship evolved and deepened into a sweet friendship, along with Felix's understanding of Code Canine.

Many of our adopters tell us that the young dogs they bring home from our adoption program maintain easy dog manners for life. And they're also quick to point out that their dog is especially fond of big furry husky type dogs. They just love them for some reason. Who's surprised?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Top 10 Favorite Gwennie-isms

I'm slightly obsessed with Gwennie, for many reasons. (If only blogs were available in smell-o-vision...) Here are ten.

#10. She's a flirt.
Who me?

#9. She's got impeccable comedic timing.
Watch closely as I impersonate the dog on the side of the Barn.

Ha ha! I crack myself up.

#8. Her patented post-poop Reverse Kick-and-Hold.
It's just something I do.

#7. The girl is scrappy.
Your rope toy? Nope... haven't seen it.

#6. And brave

Thinking about it...

#5. ...but complicated.

I call this: Demure with a Hint of Vulnerability.

#4. She's got those pinchy-eyes I love. 
It's like someone kissed them closed on both sides! (I think it was the blogger.)

#3. She's got moves.
Twerkin' it.

#2. And cute friends.
"Hey baby. Live around here often?"

#1. Sometimes she looks at me like this.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Raising the (Barn) Roof on October 11

Maude and Eddie were kind enough to model for us to help announce our yearly fun-raiser at the Rescue Barn. The Pits & Giggles event is coming up quick --> Saturday evening, October 11.

Celebrating our 15th B-day (which was back in April) and a great year of good saves and satisfying outreach work.

We look forward to enjoying time with our friends and supporters as well as many of our alumna dogs who will be there with their families. Cajun food, Zydeco music, a warming campfire and good conversation. What could be better?

Tickets Here

If you can't attend, please consider gifting a ticket to an area shelter worker or rescue volunteer. There's an option on our event page that signals your interest in donating this way.
Thank you, and hope to see you on the dance floor real soon!

Friday, September 5, 2014

a view from the inside

Generally, the barn blog features pictures of the rescue dogs romping or doing activities out in the yard.  But the kennels inside the barn can give you  a glimpse of each dog's personality.  Let's take a look.

Little Chiquita is well known for her love of stuffies and tennis balls.  Here she is presiding proudly over her nest of favored indoor toys, complete with an overstuffed teddy bear that's almost as large as she is.  She keeps her little "family" together where she can watch over them.

And the delicious Ms Maude is shown here with her beloved armchair, ahhh!  This girl with her wonky hip is all about comfort.  Who needs toys when you have something soft and squishy to snuggle up on?  All that's needed is an attentive human cuddling in the chair with her to bring her to a state of nirvana.

Check out Preston's frat pad.  He's all boy, toys scattered around, a beat-up armchair (he loves chewing on it) with his mess spilling out of the kennel.  A little messy suits him just fine - let's just call it "lived-in".  He just loves a good party.

 His dainty neighbor Gwennie, on the other hand, is more of a minimalist.   Her toys & blankets are neatly contained in her bed where she serenely watches the antics of her fellow barn residents.  Like a little black dress, this little black dog isn't showy or extroverted, but when you get to know her you'll see that she's a classy and intelligent girl.

These pictures were taken before the arrival of the new guy, Badda Bing, so we've yet to see what his kennel reveals about him.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

addicted to love

Though Reverend Al has taken his bounty of block-head love to his new family, a new messenger of love has taken his place in the barn.
It's Badda Bing, who unaware of the furor leading to his arrival at the rescue barn, is settling in nicely.

On Labor Day morning, his second morning at the barn, after exercising, eating, and working on his manners, he got a relaxing sponge bath from Jr. Barn Crew Kiki and melted into a blissed out giant 'butter bean'.

Oh yeah! Touch Junkie in the house!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

simple pleasures

You may heard of Chiquita's fondness for her family of faux furry babies, and her habit of nesting on them and her pile of eggs" aka tennis balls like a little mother hen.  She's an adorable little pooch and we, the barn crew, enjoy her antics during our shifts with the barn dogs.

But Ms Maude of the squishy round-eyed face has also discovered things she's very fond of: playtime with friends;  the sweet sun spots where it's not too hot for a little sun-bathing; her comfy re-homed leather chair; and during my last shift, she showed me her newest "simple" pleasure.

It happened while Maude was supervising my chores, making sure I filled the buckets with cool fresh water, sweeping the dust-bunnies from the corners of the kennels, and....just as I was about to fold the clean laundry piled on the couch, I realized that I couldn't see or hear Maude anywhere. So I called her, and then, rising from the midst of the pile of laundry, up popped Maude's blocky head with a look of ecstasy on her face.  She had discovered the joy of laundry - warm, soft, fresh smelling clean!

The crestfallen look on her face as I gently removed the pile from under her reluctant butt was priceless.

So I'm adding to Maude's wishlist for her new family - a request. She would like a home where she will be allowed to "help" with the laundry, please?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hiding a Bug

Bug's arrival into our so-called 'witness protection' program is one of the toughest recent secrets we've had to keep. There wasn't any wiggle room in this mission: Since last December, we've had to suck it up and keep her and her litter mates' stories hidden or risk blowing their chances of freedom. The deal was, her owner was facing federal dog fighting charges and dozens of his dogs were seized as part of the larger "#367 case" that first rolled out in the news in August 2013. The canine victims of this cruelty were all waiting in limbo while the defendants played the cards they were dealt: After their arrests, they could transfer ownership so their dogs could be streamlined into rescue groups and start new lives, or they could make them wait several long months in shelter kennels until they either pled guilty or their case went to trial. Evidence against the pups' owner was piled skyscraper high and the other defendants in the case were quick to enter guilty pleas, but he was said to be extra stubborn. We learned early on that it was going to be a long, long wait. "Months," was the answer we received when we accepted the secret squirrel assignment.

It's certain that the dog fighter knew - as did we - that there was a chance the case could be dismissed on a technicality and the pups would have to be returned. We tried not to think about that possibility too much.

Below: Greeting a stranger on the way home to Oakland. "Oh a puppy! Did you just adopt her?" Foster mom Katie Moyer mumbled a quick fib, one of many she'd be telling over the next few months.

Bug, Luna, Ollie and Francy Bear were seized by authorities with their mother 'Gummy' when they were just two days old. Medical notes showed that Bug was initially listless and may not survive, but she soon found her bravado. Gummy was not able to raise the pups well and they had to be separated early on to a shelter kennel without her.

We met them all just over six weeks later when our team of ten volunteered to spend Christmas week with 160 of the dogs from the case. They were receiving care at the busy HSUS-run shelter "somewhere in the southeast." (Location held secret for obvious reasons). The ASPCA hosted the rest of the dogs from the case in a different location.

The bulk of the dogs we worked with had already been waiting four long months when we met them. Federal prosecutors worked steadily to build their cases against the thirteen men who'd been charged with abusing their dogs in three different states and numerous staged dog fights. Thankfully, Bug never experienced that world, but growing up in a loud and busy shelter can bring its own damage to young minds, so getting them into home environments meant saving their lives in a different way. How could we say no? When we flew home, we maneuvered the litter through a busy airport and slid tiny carriers filled with pee pads, chews and precious cargo under our airplane seats and on our way to new adventures.

Our wonderful volunteers were under strict orders: "Do not facebook your project pups and don't tell anyone where they came from or what their story is." A tall order in the SF bay area where pit bull puppies are crack to the thousands of dog lovers who live here. The foster homes told vague stories, "They're rescue pups from BADRAP," and in the flurry of daily life, no one seemed to notice that our website and social media never made mention of them.

The first order of business when raising a puppy into a healthy dog is designing positive experiences with as many dogs, people and places as she can comfortably handle. Bug hit the lottery with two different foster homes, a bevy of dog friends, field trips and adventures. Her caretakers coached her through her shy spells, taught her good puppy manners, suffered through her car sickness phase and bravely channeled her larger than life energy level into non-stop play sessions ('zoom' means 'ZOOOOM' to Bug). She spent time at the barn for rowdy play sessions with Molly, Elliot and Eddie - and most recently, enjoys foster home life with Uncle Teddles and foster mom Cindy.

Aunt Molly gives in to the cheek grabs:

Growing up, Bug hit the "ear hat" phase back in March, three months after her arrival. We regretfully edited her gorgeous image from social media updates as the weeks ticked by.

On July 23, seven months after we met Bug and her sibs and brought them home to hiding, HSUS rep Chris Schindler phoned with the news we'd all been waiting for: The pups abuser had plead guilty and they were free dogs. The abuses this group of men committed were so egregious that a federal judge delayed sentencing so prosecutors would have enough court time to submit the evidence of their crimes against the dogs. News Link. They are not set to be sentenced until October 2014.

Bug will never know about that world or about the stresses of growing up into an adult dog in a shelter kennel. We're so very indebted to our team of volunteers for making this right.

Bug is the only pup now looking for a home. She's fun, energetic, hopeful and incredibly affectionate. She's in her teenage stage now, so is full of energy and would love to live with a dog or two who can appreciate her "Life is a Party' play style. Foster mom Cindy has given her excellent leash skills, fine tuned her social skills and helped her develop calm crate time patience. We'll be rolling out more info, photos and meet-n-greet opps now that she's ... Free.

Now! Photos from a recent Open House, where Bug was "just another dog who needed a home." We sure like it that way.

If you are interested in being part of this pups amazing adventures and are considering adoption, please contact:   Thank you!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Maude: What's in a name?

Canine infatuation arrives in all forms. With this girl, I was smitten the minute I saw her name. MAUDE it said in big capital letters on the side of her kennel.  

Maude is also the name of my 8-year-old niece — my only niece — and we are very close. We both love drawing. And elephants. And being silly.  And I know, implicitly, that she would be delighted  that I’m comparing her to a blocky-headed dog with a slight under-bite.

Canine Maude is every bit as gorgeous as my niece, though considerably less chatty. There are other similarities too. For example, a strong desire to please, tempered with a healthy independent streak.

Both are strong and athletic. Both are curious.

Both know when they've got you wrapped around their little finger (or dew claw).

Both play nicely with others.

And while I would never tell her moms this, when I first learned of my niece’s name, I didn’t love it. Eight years later, it’s one of my very favorites. I think I may be destined to adore every Maude I meet. 

It certainly happened with this cutie.

omiGAUDE, is she cute...

And like my niece, canine Maude is going to land in someone's family and remind ’em just how incredibly much you can love someone. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Gwennie's Got the Grinnies

Hanging out with Gwennie today at the Barn, I suddenly started thinking about "Black Dog Syndrome" -- that is, the oft-cited phenomenon that black dogs (and cats) are harder to adopt out than other animals. Whether the syndrome truly exists generates some debate, but the reason cited is pretty consistent: Many feel that it's harder to photograph darker colored dogs than lighter ones, and therefore they don't get as much attention online.


I'm clearly no photographer, but come on. Is there any doubt that Gwennie is a gorgeous freakin' specimen? Look at that grin.

And sure, she's way cuter (also sassier, smarter, bubblier, etc.) in person, but isn't that true of most of the dogs you first see on a website and then meet in person?

Today, Gwennie charms not only me, but the resident gentlemen as well. Not sure what witty observation she's passing along to Eddie (maybe, Does that human with the camera ever wear anything besides overalls?) but Beast also hopes to get in on the secret...

And Beast still has his eye on her a bit later when Gwennie decides to see what the rope-toy is all about.

Honestly, can you blame him? Over by the slide, I start to tell Gwennie the joke about the blocky-headed canine who walks into a bar. Before I can finish, she gives me a knowing laugh:

Black Dog... what?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Gal pals: Molly and Widget

Molly is one of those “guys’ girls.” Athletic, a bit flirty, and just barely masking a vulnerability that brings out the protective side in both Eddie and Elliot. It doesn't hurt that she’s stunningly beautiful.

But whereas Molly can be a bit of a mystery, Widget wears her emotions on her tail. She’s all wiggle and full of spunk — optimistic to the core. For weeks, she’s been Molly’s next door neighbor in the Barn. And then, this last week, it seems they went from a couple of chicks on the same block to... really good friends. 

Hey? Hay! It's Molly and Widge!

Where Widget goes exploring, Molly is eager to follow. And when Molly wants to hang out in the shade, Widget manages a few wiggle-free moments to keep her buddy company.

Tennis balls. Shade. It's cool.

 Innocent as they think they look, like all good gal pals, they share a few secrets.
Up to no good -- who, us? 

And at the end of the day, when Molly wants a minute or two with her good pal Eddie, Widget doesn't mind. Friends understand these things.

Still... there's nothing like old friends.