Here is a link to a list of ways you can help Oklahoma residents.
Lost animals: If you find displaced animals, you can take them to the Animal Resource Center at 7949 S. I-35 Service Rd. (405) 604-2892. They are also offering displaced people shelter for the night as well.
Animal aid: The Pet Food Pantry of OKC is offering dog food, cat food, leashes, collars, food bowls, etc to those in need. (405) 664-2858 www.petfoodpantryokc.org
Many dog lovers have a dog preference, a certain breed, a certain look, a certain size dog – there is always something about a particular dog that we find ourselves attracted to when we seek our a dog.
For me, it was always the shy dogs. It didn’t matter what breed or size or look they had. The dogs who were fearful and scared, and cowering at the back of a kennel; these were the dogs I always gravitated towards. I still do.
When I was a volunteer at Minnesota Valley Humane Society, you would often find me sitting sideways in front of a kennel in the impound room, using calming signals to help draw a dog out of his/her kennel. The dogs in this room were often more scared than most because these were the ones who had just been surrendered or who were just found roaming the streets and had been brought in to be held until their owner was found. They were overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and smells of the shelter, and as you can imagine, terrified, scared and afraid of everyone. The last thing they wanted to do was come to you and go for a walk outside.
When I saw one of these scared dogs, I would sit in front of their kennel door and use calming signals to draw them out – lip-licking, bowed head, averted gaze, a sideways profile, these were all behaviors I employed when working with a shy or scared dog. They are the very same signals I used with Cupcake when she was running around that abandoned truck loading dock after being lost for 12 days.
Knowing and using calming signals can be so helpful when working with a fearful dog. They can also be helpful in trying to capture a lost dog. When you use them, you are speaking in a language that most dogs understand. What could be more reassuring than seeing someone speak to you in your own language?
A friend recently shared this video with me. It’s about using calming signals to capture a lost dog or to calm a panicked dog (and what lost dog isn’t panicked?). It’s not very long but it is definitely worth watching. Maybe you don’t have a lost dog, but some day you may have one. Or you may come across one. Knowing what to do when you do is so important. Please watch and then pass it on. The more people that know the more chances we have to reunite lost dogs with their owners.
Remember, most dogs on the run are LOST, not stray.
Last Friday, my friend Pamela shared an awesome video of a Nova Scotia Duck Toller traveling with his family as they sailed around taly’s volcanic islands north of Sicily. It was so adorable.
I have always adored Nova Scotia Duck Tollers. They are beautiful and active dogs and come with tons of personality. We had one or two at our shelter in the 8+ years that I volunteered there and I loved each one of them. Seeing the one in Pamela’s shared video set me off to explore YouTube for more Toller videos.
In the end, it was the Toller puppies that won my heart. What is it about a ropy-poly puppy that just makes your heart melt?
I hope you enjoy this little moment of cuteness. May it lighten your heart as you head off to the last work day of the week.
Happy Friday Everyone!
Today I am taking another look back to the first year Daisy came to live with me. This is an old blog post from Daisy’s blog, “Daisy the Wonder Dog (and how she found her inner Lab).” It highlights one of the many set backs we faced in those early years.
I think it is a good reminder for those who have a damaged or unsocialized dog. Progress is often made in fits and starts. For every step forward, there are two steps back. Understanding this may be easy, but seeing it can be hard. They key is to never give up hope. You need a lot of patience and understanding. You also learn to learn to celebrate the small successes.
Daisy rarely has a set back any more, but when she does it is usually a small one, and it is often missed by those who do not know her past. Looking back now, it’s hard to believe Daisy was like this once. I first wrote this back on November 10, 2008, almost one full year after I first adopted Daisy.
I was reminded once again this weekend that despite her progress, Daisy is still a puppy mill dog and as such, will still react to new experiences with fear and uncertainty.
While marveling at her progress this past year, I forgot that the old, fearful and uncertain Daisy still lurks beneath the surface. The “new” Daisy is so much different from the old one. The new Daisy is vibrant, energetic, and curious and much more present than the old one. She interacts with strangers at the dog park, even placing her head on a stranger’s laps for a long pet. She often leaves my side to explore new places and smells. She is even confident walking into a pet store, as long as no one looms over her too much. The ”new” Daisy sometimes makes it easy to forget that I need to go slow and introduce her to new situations with care.
A new toy (a stuffed wiener dog with squeaker sounds in it), a towel draping over her body (to dry off the wet snow melting into her fur), a strange new environment, new people or young kids, new doggie friends – all seemed to cause fear this weekend. System overload? I’m not sure, but it all seemed to start with that small toy and only escalate from there. Her behavior this weekend reminded me of what Daisy was like when I first adopted her.
When I first brought Daisy home, one of the things we had to work on was how to come inside the house. The first step always required getting Daisy to enter the garage, which is the only way to get from the backyard to the house, then we had to go through a series of rituals that would eventually take us from the garage to the house.
Daisy was more likely to enter the garage if she was following Aspen (her doggie guide), but only if I met her specific guidelines, which of course, were only known to her. Direct eye contact, a sudden movement, even holding some unfamiliar object in my hands, would frequently send her skittering away from the garage door and back out into the backyard. Often when this happened, Aspen and I would have to start the whole process over again. This meant going back outside, frequently in the middle of winter, so we could all come in the door again – the correct way. I would enter the garage door first, followed by Aspen, and then Daisy – if I wasn’t too close to the door or looking at her as she entered the garage.
However, this wasn’t the end of the process. Once I had Daisy in the garage, I then had to convince her to enter the house. Wood floors have always been a problem because she is afraid of slipping on their surface – something I hear is quite common with dogs who have not been socialized to live in a home. Unfortunately, the first thing Daisy encountered when she entered the house were wood floors. If Aspen led the way, Daisy would follow, reluctantly. But once again, her entering often depended on where I was standing, whether I was facing her when she came in, or if I was far enough away from the door to allow her to enter in a way that she felt was safe.
More often than not, we played a game of chase in the garage. Daisy would run in circles around the car, sometimes in fear, but often in some sort of pacing pattern (very similar to what you see when a zoo animal is confined to a small enclosure), and I would try to head her off at the pass.
Sometimes, I would go slowly towards her from the opposite direction and attach a leash to her collar and lead her inside, but that only worked if she froze in fear. Not exactly ideal. I always felt awful in those situations because it only seemed reinforce the fear, and it did nothing to help me build trust with Daisy. Other techniques included: opening the car door and letting Daisy jump into the car so I could attach a leash to her collar and lead her inside, using treats to get her to approach me so I could attach the leash, and/or using Aspen to lead her inside.
All of these techniques could be, and often were, thwarted when Daisy pulled her head out of her collar – something she did quite often. In those cases, Daisy would begin to circle the car again and I would need to open the car door so she could jump so I could put her collar back on without her running away. After a while, I started putting on her Easy Walk harness while in the garage. This allowed me to safely lead her inside without her pulling her head out of her collar and it short-circuited the pacing behavior that seemed to border on obsessive compulsive.
Why do I share all of this with you? Because this weekend I was reminded again that while a lot of Daisy’s old behavior seems to have gone away, it is still there, just beneath the surface, waiting to come out again. Put Daisy in a new situation or expose her to a new experience, and you can and should expect that she will revert to the Daisy of old. This past weekend, I actually had to use the leash to lead her back inside the house again – several times. Whatever scared her, caused her to revert back to behavior she hasn’t demonstrated in some time. I guess trust is a hard thing to come by when you’ve been mistreated most of your life.
So, we will begin again, my Daisy and I, slowly building trust through positive reinforcement. And slowly, with patience, we will rebuild her confidence. Together. Daisy’s story continues…. stay tuned.
When I was a child, I used to imagine what it would be like if I could transport myself to another land. It was always someplace magical and exciting. Sometimes it was a magic stone that allowed me to travel to a foreign land – Italy, France, Ireland, etc. Other times, it was the arch of the trees in the woods across the street from my house that became a magical portal to a magical kingdom. Almost always, my fantasies were fueled by the books I read, adventurous stories filled with heroes (and heroines) taking on new worlds and succeeding. What child doesn’t want to escape to another land once in a while?
I’d like to say that over time I grew up and stopped fantasizing about those strange new lands, those magical places where enchantment and wonder abounded, but the truth is I am still a dreamer. I still love the idea of finding a land untouched by human hand. Or, exploring a faraway place where the crowds of humanity and the craziness of the world can be forgotten. I like to imagine the America that existed before buildings blocked our view of the sky. I wish to revel in the beauty and awesomeness of nature before it was destroyed by huge machines and mass consumption.
I think that’s why I fell in love with the dog park where I first started taking my dogs five years ago. Back then the park was a magical place, filled with wonder and excitement. Birds sang their beautiful songs of love from nearly every branch. Squirrels and chipmunks ran from tree to tree, gathering nuts and leaves for their nests. The sun streamed down between the treetops, creating rays of light that would hit dewy spots of grass and make steam rise from the ground. It was truly a magical place. One could enjoy the sights and sounds of nature without feeling the full encroachment of man. No people talking. No dogs barking. Just me and my dogs communing with nature. I could almost believe we had escaped to another land.
But, as it is with all fantasies, reality has a way of seeping in. What seems magical to one will seem magical to another, and then another, and then yet again another. Soon word had spread about this magical place, the place where my dogs and I have walked quietly through the forest and listened to the birds singing from the trees, and as it did, the quiet solitude of the forest was replaced by more and more human voices and barking dogs. Suddenly what had seemed magical and private to me had become less so.
We still love our dog park, my dogs and I, but there is something different about it now. It has lost some of its luster. It has become more of the dog park it was always designed to be.
The fenced in forest, where the wildlife used to outnumber the canines, has become less magical and I feel less entranced. I am craving a new land to explore. What does it take to find a private place to park your dreams these days? Where can one go to enjoy the quietude of the forest? Colorado? Montana?
Where do you go when you want that kind of solitude with your dogs?