Thankful

First of all: Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope you are all enjoying the holiday, in whatever way is meaningful to you. Thanksgiving has always, always been my most favorite of days. Typically, we visit my family in Virginia, which is so special because it is the only time of year that we all get together in one place. I honestly feel like every year, I have even more blessings to count than the year before. This year is no exception, and I truly believe I am the luckiest person in the world. Sure, in a perfect world there are things I might change about my life, but if we choose to look at our lives from a perspective of thankfulness, it is so much easier to be happy and grateful and satisfied.

Along those lines, I spoke earlier this week about our struggles with Kingston’s separation anxiety. Well, I actually flew down to Virginia on Sunday, while Jonathan stayed in Pennsylvania with all of the pups. He just drove down to meet me last night, with Tonka and Kingston as his copilots (Gaige and Georgia stayed home with our awesome pet sitter). I have to be honest friends… until they finally arrived, I had been experiencing some pretty strong separation anxiety of my own! This is the first time visiting my family without either my own pups or my parents’ dogs around. However, as the saying goes, how lucky am I to have someone to love, who makes saying goodbye so hard? It certainly makes for super-sweet reunions. Can you all remind me of these words when it comes time to say goodbye to Kingston? Ugggggh.

Here are some photos of our time together thus far. For the record, Kingston helped us rescue a little lost Shi Tzu we found during our morning walk. The poor thing had just had surgery and had the cone to prove it!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends 🙂 I hope you know how thankful I am for all of you.

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He was enthralled by the dog show… Maybe his vision isn’t as poor as we thought!

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Even the pups have place cards!

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ALL of the boys practicing their knife skills.

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My mom is a professional dog spoiler… She calls them her grand puppies!

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Surgery Report

Ok, so we have good and bad news to report. I think it is best if we start from the beginning.

Foster Dad left early this morning to take the pup (Kingston? Tripp? Still can’t decide!) to Butler Veterinary Associates, the clinic where the surgery would be performed. He told me that the little guy kept whining and looking out the back window for me the whole drive 😦

F.D. reported that everyone at the clinic was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. He met with Dr. Harvey, the veterinarian who would be performing the surgery. He really liked him, as he was incredibly experienced and very open, describing his findings along the way as he examined the dog.

The bad news is that the surgery was more difficult than the doctor expected. He told Foster Dad (sorry, I just love being able to say that again!) during the pre-surgical exam that the break most likely occurred longer ago than we were originally told. There was an incredible amount of calcification, and this was confirmed once he had opened him up… he said he has never performed a surgery to that extent at his clinic. Further, there was already some nerve loss, as the dog’s reflexes were not where they should be. The muscles had already started to contract and atrophy, so we may have a long process of rehabilitation ahead of us. During the exam, he was not sure whether they should risk doing the neuter during the same procedure, but luckily the doctor was able to take care of that as well. We really didn’t want to have to put such a young dog under anesthesia more times than necessary.

The good news is that he made it out of surgery just fine. He went in for surgery around 1:00 PM, and as of this moment (4:30 pm) he was out of surgery but still not awake. They were originally hopeful that we would be able to bring him home tonight, but they are pretty sure that his pain levels will be such that they should keep him on a morphine drip overnight. We will speak with the doctor around 6:00 this evening to get another update, and will let you all know if he shares anything unexpected. Otherwise, he will be coming back to the AFM5 residence sometime tomorrow.

We are so thankful that this little pup was brought into our lives, and so blessed to be able to help him. However, please know that we never, ever could have done this without all of your support. You all are his angels, and I made sure to tell him before I left that he had to come through this, because there were so many people out there who loved and cared for him without even having met him. 🙂

 

Less-Words Wednesday: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

It seems that the majority of the photos that I take of our dogs, feature them snoooozing away! Don’t let the photos fool you, however… these pups are usually going a million miles per minute! Nevertheless, they are ultra-adorable when they are asleep 😉 Don’t believe me? Take a peek for yourself!

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This might just seem like your run of the mill sleeping dog photo… but I will have you know that Georgia was pacing around the bedroom, because the beds were in opposite corners. She dragged the bed over himself, so they could all sleep together 😉

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On the way to the vet!

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And on the way home

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Puppy-dog yin-yang!

Puppy Love

I firmly maintain that puppies are one of life’s greatest pleasures. I don’t think there is anyone that can look at a little wriggling pack of baby dogs, and not forget their worries for a little while!

I wish I could convey through the screen just what a joy it has been to have two young pups in our house with us this week! If I was a better photographer, I’m sure that I probably could. Sure, there have been plenty of moments where it has been challenging to manage so many dogs, but to be sure, the benefits far outweigh the stress!

I have been trying to pinpoint just what my favorite puppy feature might be. Is it their round little tummies, freckled & full from their kibble, and soft as the inside of your favorite sweatshirt?

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Through play and cuddle, they inspire us to attain embarrassing levels of baby-talk.

What about the puppy piles? All pretzeled together in slumber, limbs spewing from odd angles, unable to identify where one body ends and another begins. Sleepy dreams create little nose wiggles, paw shakes, and even low, ferocious growls or cuddle-inducing whimpers. Maybe it’s their distinct puppy smell, their breath rolling over you as they reach to sleepily lick your cheek after a long nap.

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Or, it could be their clumsy antics, floppy joints tripping them up while running and playing and wrestling together. They mimic the behaviors of older dogs, not knowing that no one is fooled by their performance.

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It could be their giant paws, floppy and soft, suggesting much about their future size!

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It might be their ‘puppy-dog’ eyes, full of trust and love and loyalty, inspiring visions of future adventures together.

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These two babies just happen to be brother and sister, and are such good pups already! I can only imagine what wonderful dogs they will become. They both love toys, and are more interested in people than any puppies I’ve met before. They are thought to be mastiff x boxer x lab crosses.

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Gunner is all boy, and dressed all in black. He is mischief, trouble, and action all rolled into one, and reminds us of Gaige! He even shares the same diamonds on the backs of his feet. He is forever playing rough and picking on his sister.

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Xena is the female, and all sweetness! She is much more docile than her brother, and her personality and build remind us of Tonka. She is long, lean, and lanky, and such a little lady! Both pups are crate trained, very smart, and pick up on things incredibly quickly. They’ve only been with us since Saturday morning, and by Monday they were already automatically sitting before things like getting their dinner, and being let through the door. They are learning quickly not to jump or bark for attention. I’m pretty sure that these two would play all day and night if they could!

One thing I had forgotten about was just how sharp their little puppy teeth and nails can be! Ouch! haha

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Look at those teefers!

Look at those teefers!

If you are anything like me, then this post has probably only increased your need for a puppy in your life, rather than quenching it, but you are also probably no where near ready for the addition! If so, then check out a few videos we wanted to share with you. It is all the cute, with none of the commitment 😉

I think that is his way of telling me that he would like some more water. Please.

I think that is his way of telling me that he would like some more water. Please.

This video was actually recorded by the same person who was the videographer at our wedding! Megan Bowers of Pictory Productions is ridiculously talented, and when she and her fiance got a French Bulldog puppy this past summer, they knew that they had to document all of his firsts. I think they do a divine job of capturing life with a new pup… from his perspective! Meet their little man, Harold, here.

I don’t know anything at all about the person who recorded this video, or the dog who is the subject, but I do know that Bernese Mountain Dogs are my favorite! This video shows BMD puppy, Nilah, and her first (courageous!) introduction to a lemon!

And this one went viral at some point, so you may have seen it. However, if you think you’ve seen a cute puppy howling, and haven’t seen this, then you ain’t seen nothin 😉 This thing literally makes me melt!

(Kinda, sorta, not really…) Wordless Wednesday

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Don’t worry, we’re even comfier than we look!

If we fits, we sits... but always together.

If we fits, we sits… but always together.

Announcing the winners of our giveaway!

1) Little Bow Pup: Bow tie – Sandra S.

2) Yellow Brick Home: Paintings – (my girl crush) Morgan from Temporary Home, Permanent Love

3) Sirius Republic: Custom collar – Randi F.

4) Squishy Face: Toy Package – (Super sweet) Danielle from Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses

5) Sew Olive: Custom Tags – Lynne S.

6) Tiennot Knits: Custom Sweater – Ellie W.

7) 2 Hounds Design: Collar, Harness, & Leash package – Aimee D.

8) {To be determined – prize package fell through} – Erin C.

9) Lulu Bug Jewelry: Smiling Pit necklace – Melissa L.

10) DawgArt: Paintings – Jessi K.

11) Poochie Heaven: Puzzle Toy – (Super Sleuth!) Hannah from Erie-sisti-Bull

Thank you ALL for contributing! If you made a donation or supplied a giveaway item, please expect a small surprise in your mailbox within the next few weeks. Your generosity means more than you know!

We also have some VERY exciting news to share with you all. We will be back later this week (Thursday or Friday) with the announcement. Expect it to be long-winded!

Doggie in the Window

We are so excited and flattered with the amount of interest being expressed in Miss Georgia girl! In the mean-time, I thought we should share the wealth and try to spread awareness to a few of our rescue’s many other pups, who are still waiting for their forever homes. For some reason that we cannot surmise, these pups have little to no interested applicants 😦 Help us change that by sharing this page!

If you are not in a position to adopt these precious pups, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to LCPO here. With an influx of needy pups, their funding is running low this time of year. It would be greatly appreciated!

{You would be my personal hero!}

Jake is one of 4 puppies found running as strays, and covered in painful demodex mange. You can see how he has flourished in the care of one of our special foster homes, not letting his condition get him down. He is house trained, and working on his crate training, but is especially skilled at cuddling! Jake is also working on his obedience skills, and excels at sit and giving paw. Jake loves to play fetch, and is very toy oriented. He is very playful with other dogs and is fine with cats. As precious and perfect as we consider Jake to be, he has been with us since he was 4 months old, and is now approaching his ONE YEAR birthday!

Upper RH corner shows Jake at his first vet visit. The bottom photo is Jake with a real, live puppy! What a gentle guy.

Upper RH corner shows Jake at his first vet visit. The bottom photo is Jake with a real, live puppy! What a gentle guy.

 

Jora is actually Mr. Jakey’s sister! They were found together, and so much of their information is the same. Jora has been through a lot in such a young life but she is resilient, loving, playful and a joy to be around. Jora loves to cuddle. She is very affectionate and will gladly lay on your lap, follow you around the house, or cuddle next to you in bed. Jora is a typical, high energy puppy. Jora’s ideal foster home would include another playful pup for tug-of-war and wrestling! Jora is crate-trained & house-trained. She knows sit and is working on down and stay. She loves to chew on toys and will carry them around the house all day. Her forever family will be very lucky because she is truly a special little girl.

Upper RH corner is Jora when first brought into LCPO! Look what a cuddle-bug she is, and how far she has come.

Upper RH corner is Jora when first brought into LCPO! Look what a cuddle-bug she is, and how far she has come.

 

Hogan is a 5 or 6 year old male pittie mix who came from a shelter in Ohio, where he was dumped by his previous owners. Unfortunately, this gorgeous boy was scheduled for euthanasia, and while he found a rescue, it fell through at the last minute. Thankfully, LCPO stepped in just in time! There was not a foster home available for Hogan, so he went to stay in a boarding kennel. While this prevented Hogan from losing his life, it does not satisfy his urge to be around people. Hogan has proven to be an endlessly sweet, loving, and obedient boy during his time with LCPO. He has always been the perfect gentleman. While Hogan is an older guy, he enjoys playing and long walks, but he is also an excellent cuddle buddy! Hogan is tall, dark, & handsome, and he has the most gorgeous deep brown eyes. He does will with humans of all ages, especially children, and is house & crate-trained. While he would prefer to be the only pet, Hogan would loving nothing more than to be adopted into a home that will love him, keep him exercised and keep up on his training so he can be the very best he can be!

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If interested in any of these love-a-bulls (who wouldn’t be?!) please contact myself at sel1490@gmail.com, or LCPO president Christine, at nepabullies@gmail.com.  

Adoption application, reference check, home visit and adoption fee required for adoption!

 

Three’s a Crowd… Or Not!

 
  • (See yesterday’s post for Part One of this series regarding Multi-Dog Households and integration.)

INTEGRATING INDOORS

Once your dogs have been successful with outdoor introductions, they may be ready to begin introductions to the indoor environment together. Not all dogs will initially be playful together, so you know that you have been successful if the dogs display positive and relaxed body language. This varies between dogs, but most dogs will be calm, with a slow wag. Their bodies should not stiffen when in the presence of other dogs. Hard stares and drawn back ears are not good signals.

We got this!

We got this!

It is also important that while you work on indoor introductions, you are continuing the outdoor time spent together! For our dogs, this was a great way to burn energy as a group, and then the dogs weren’t entirely surprised to see the others in the house. It was fun and enjoyable to be outside on walks together, so why shouldn’t they assume that it would be the same indoors?

Group walk times are everyone's favorite!

Group walk times are everyone’s favorite!

Finally, remember to continue positive reinforcement throughout all of these steps! Every dog is different, so find what works best for them… playing, toys, attention, or food. Just make sure that if one dog is being rewarded, the others are as well, so that jealousy issues do not develop.

  • Our first step with indoor introductions, was to use a tethering, or tie-down, system. You can read more about it here, but you are essentially securing your pooches to an immovable object. Some big-time rescuers and foster families go so far as to drill holes and harnesses into their walls, but we haven’t gotten quite so fancy around these parts. We simply place the dogs’ leashes around the leg of each couch (Tonka and Gaige) and put Georgia’s around the leg of the kitchen table. The trick is to keep them a safe distance from one another (at least 6 feet apart, at the full distance of their leashes). You don’t want the distance to be close enough that they can taunt one another. Then each dog is hooked to their leash, and we bring a blanket or bed out for them to lay on. Once they have settled down and are displaying calm, positive behavior, we choose to give each of our dogs a high-value treat, such as a bully stick. This is rewarding their calm presence around the other dogs, making it a positive experience, and also shows them that the other dogs are not able to steal their bone or their special space. Start with short amounts of time, then work towards longer durations. We would do this while cooking dinner, and graduated to TV or movie time at night. This step can go on for days or even weeks… until all dogs are calm around one another, and basically willing to ignore the others! They should be bored with this step… that is your goal, before proceeding.

 

Tonka is not so sure how he feels about all of this

Tonka is not so sure how he feels about all of this

  • The next step for our family, was to use baby gates in the house. We would begin with the dogs tethered, and then put up two baby gates, in two separate doorways. We would let them off of their tethers, but keep the baby gates in place. The gates were set up so that the dogs could see one another, but not touch, even when off-leash.  This allowed the dogs to be loose in the house together, to see that the other dogs were loose, yet not be able to directly interact.
  • The next step is where things can get ugly, if you aren’t careful. You will be releasing all dogs from their tethers, while keeping just one of the baby gates in place. Someone with authority over the dogs should be placed at the gate/doorway. The dogs will, inevitably, all rush to the gate. Again, lots of love and attention (simultaneously, if possible!) should be lavished on dogs with waggly tails and smiley faces. Any negative body language should be redirected. For us, this worked well by stepping in between the dogs in standard ‘Mom Pose’: arms crossed, feet apart, grumpy stare. This shows the dogs that you are in charge, and also protective. It would also help to have the dogs each interested in something in their own room (toy, bone, etc), so that they are not too concerned about the other dog. Eventually, you will notice them walking casually over to the gate to sniff one another. Place yourself nearby, in case you need to step in to redirect their attention, but if the dogs have all been successful through the previous steps, particularly off-leash interactions outdoors, and you have taken things very slowly, there is no reason you should have any issues by this step. I know I am getting repetitive here, but again, the dogs should be bored before you proceed to the next step.
  • At some point, when dogs were calm, quiet, and happy around one another, we chose to work on simple obedience with dogs on either side of the gate. For example, we would ask all dogs to sit, regardless of which side they sat on, and give them treats for good behavior. It is important that your dogs not be too food-aggressive, and very responsive, for this step. Your dogs should have their “sit-stay” down, before you proceed. This is rewarding positive behavior, as well as obedience, and reminding them that time together is fun!

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  • Finally, your goal is obviously for the baby gates to come down! This step will need to be approached differently for each group of dogs. For example, with excitable dogs like Gaige and nonchalant dogs like Georgia, we let Georgia loose in the house, but kept Gaige leashed. This way, we could control/monitor Gaige’s behavior, and we knew Georgia would not approach her unless she wanted to be friendly. We also worked on group obedience, with sit-stay or down-stay, and giving treats. This allowed us to be in control of the dogs’ bodies, and make it a positive experience. Approach this step at your own discretion, and use your own good judgement. By this point in your experience, you should be experts at reading your own dogs’ body language, and so they will be your best advisors on how to proceed, and at what pace.
A successful multi-dog (and cat-dog?) household

A successful multi-dog (and cat-dog?) household

  • Enjoy!

It was often difficult to take things so slowly, and put off integrating Georgia into our lives fully – she has the ‘poor weedle peeble’ face down, and it was hard to resist! However, the success we have seen in the slow intro method is undeniable. At no point in time did we feel like we were faced with a situation we couldn’t handle. Because each stage builds on the previous one, and we didn’t move on to the next step until we felt confident in the dogs’ security, it was a series of successful and positive interactions for both ourselves, and our pups!

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In Case of Emergency

Throughout this process, you may experience some squabbles. That is okay! And probably normal, particularly with adult pups. Remember, a dog growling is not a bad thing, in and of itself. A growl should not necessarily be reprimanded, as this is a dog’s way of warning other dogs that they are reaching the limits of their personal boundaries. If a dog isn’t given permission to growl, they will often be pressured to snap or bite without warning. If your dog growls, evaluate the situation. Are they protecting a toy? Remember, toys should be put up when new dogs are interacting! Are they growling at a puppy that is climbing all over them, or playing too rough? You are the pack leader, and need to help teach younger dogs to respect the other pup’s body language, as well as showing the older dog that you will “protect” them from the unruly youngster! Use your dog’s growling as a signal to you that you need to work on being more observant, and prevent problems before they begin. Responsible dog owners need to become dedicated students of canine body language, and be diligent about preventing the types of triggers that can spark tensions. (Jonathan calls this my super power: my doggie mind-reading ability!) Otherwise, issues will escalate. Sometimes, the dog that is showing these signals may not intend for an argument to ensue, but those body signals could trigger negative consequences in the other animals. If things get out of hand, it works well to ‘discipline’ both dogs involved, by putting them in isolation, such as their kennel or room. They should not be harshly scolded, but the message you are intending to send is that the fun and social time ends when disagreements begin. Because the steps above build upon one another, it can work very well to return back to a previous step if you start noticing problems building with your pups.

Common Triggers:

  • Body language: raised hackles, hard stares, stiffening of the body, low growls. Keep a close eye out for body language signs that can signal trouble. If you see any of these, call your dogs away to redirect their attention, or step in between their stares with the ‘mom-stance’. It is important to keep in mind that this body language may escalate to a bite, but it can also simply instigate a reaction on the part of another pup.
  • Competition: Prized chew toys, food and even attention from you or company, can send arousal levels up and spark conflicts in some dogs. Don’t overlook the leftovers in the trash or the piece of hot dog that fell just out of reach under the counter.
  • Excitement: Play sessions and tug games that get too exciting can cause problems. Charging to the door for a walk or chasing a squirrel in the yard can amp two dogs up to the point where they may clash and redirect on each other. If you see your dogs getting overly aroused, and especially, if they stop listening to you, it’s time to step in and make everybody settle down, using a verbal command or a time out in the crate or on tie-down.

Separate Dogs before Leaving the House

The best of friends!

The best of friends!

You have followed all of our expert advice, and have found peace, tranquility, and happiness in a multi-dog household. Woo-hoo! Now, you might find yourself growing complacent with your dogs’ newfound companionship, and convincing yourself that they would be happiest to be left loose together while you are away from the home. This is one of the hardest things for new multi-pit owners to accept: Our dogs can be the best of friends BUT they may still find something, someday, that will cause an argument. When you’re home, a small spat can often be stopped fast with a loud shout. But if you’re not home, this same argument can escalate, drag on and cause injury. Avoid this terrible possibility by crating them when you are away, or at least placing them in separate rooms, behind closed doors. Remember to exercise the dogs before you confine them so they can rest and enjoy a chew toy while you’re away. By following this standard protocol employed by owners of many dog breeds, including and especially the terrier breeds, you can leave the house knowing that you’ve done everything possible to ensure the well being of your pets. Remember, crates also ensure that when your pups aren’t supervised, they are confined and out of mischief like going potty in the house or chewing on your brand new boots.

Summary:

  • Maintain a strong leadership role so the dogs respect your house rules.
  • Especially while dogs are getting to know each other, separate before you leave the house.
  • Know the most common fight triggers and work to prevent them.
  • Understand that dog dynamics can and do shift along with life changes.
  • Give your dogs individual attention to strengthen bonds.
  • Take the steps slowly, as they build on one another. If you or the dogs seem stressed, go back to the previous step.
  • Become a doggie mind-reader… or at least, educate yourself about canine body language! Use their cues to help you determine how quickly to proceed.
  • Learn more about tie-downs from the BAD RAP website.
Much of this information was adapted from other sources, including our rescue, LCPO, and BAD RAP. Thank you!
 

Thank you for following along with our two-part series! We hope it has been a little bit helpful to some of you. Is there anything that was particularly applicable to your situation, or that you plan to try? Do you have any pointers that you can add to ours? We’d love to hear from you! Have a great weekend, friends. 🙂