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5 things NOT to do when you first adopt your dog

June 1, 2015 40 comments

Low Section View of a Man with His BulldogI often try to remember back to when I adopted my first shelter dog. I was so uninformed and inexperienced back then. I had never adopted a dog before. I had absolutely no idea what to expect with an adult dog, especially not one who had a whole history behind her that I didn’t even know about. I probably made a lot of mistakes and bad decisions in those early days (I am sure of it).

What I didn’t know then, but know now is that for a rescue or shelter dog, the first few days and weeks in their new home are risky ones. They are at the mercy of their new human to make the right decisions for them. One mistake, and the dog could end up back at the shelter, or worse, euthanized for a serious mistake that could have been prevented if the human had made a different choice.

That last part is what I was thinking today when I read a story on my local station’s website – “Brainerd Woman Suffers ‘Serious’ Injuries from Dog Bite”. If what the dog owner said was true, and he actually did just adopt the dog who bit the woman in the story, then he just put his new dog’s life in danger. Most likely, when he and his dog are found, his dog will be quarantined, and then euthanized. One mistake. One life.

I don’t want make pet adoption seem so serious and dire, but it kind of is. We can make a lot of survivable mistakes with our newly adopted pets, but there are a few that could place their lives, and others, in danger. Knowing what not to do can be the difference between life and death.

Here are a few things NOT to do when you adopt a rescue or shelter dog.

  1. Take him to a pet store – A dog in a shelter environment is already stressed out. Taking him from one stressful place to another stressful place, with a complete stranger (yes, that would be you), is a recipe for disaster. A stressed dog may do things they might not do in a another time and place. I remember one dog that was adopted from our shelter and taken immediately to a pet store to purchase some things for him. He ended up biting a child and as a result, lost his life. I know another dog who was adopted right off the rescue transport and taken to a pet store. He escaped the car and was missing for several days. When he was found he was almost 20 miles away from where he was lost. It almost cost him his life. Luckily, a stranger came upon his dehydrated body and saved him.
  2. Take her to the dog park – Not only has your new dog not had a chance to bond with you, but even more importantly, she doesn’t even know you yet. I still remember a couple who brought their new dog straight from the animal shelter to the dog park and ended up spending a couple of hours trying to catch her. She might have been having a ball, but they were not. Luckily, their dog was not aggressive, but many people have brought an adopted dog to the dog park who was. To assume a dog you just adopted is not dog aggressive or will not harm another dog is not only naive, but dangerous. Get to know your dog before introducing her to other dogs and people. You may also want to work on training her to come when called before letting her off-leash in a dog park.
  3. Invite friends and family over to meet her right away – People often want to show off their new dog right after they adopt them, but this can be a huge mistake. Strangely enough, dogs are very much like us humans in that they need time to get settled into a new place. Imagine how overwhelmed you would feel if your new neighbors came over and started making themselves at home while you are still unpacking from the move. Pretty uncomfortable, right? So imagine being a dog and having complete strangers invade your space and touch you and get in your face when you haven’t even had a chance to get settled into your new home. Not fun. It’s also a recipe for disaster. One mistake, one dog bite later, and you may have a dead newly adopted dog.
  4. Let him off-leash in a public place – See #2 above. No, seriously, why would you let a dog you don’t know off-leash in an unconfined area? You don’t even know if he likes squirrels or people or other dogs. If you have a dog like Jasper (my Sheltie), then you might find out that he likes to herd runners and bikers and skateboarders and…. yeah, you get my point. Once you let a new dog off-leash, you have no control. Not only do you risk him getting lost, but you also risk being liable to the danger he might do to another person or dog (see the news story I mentioned above).
  5. Leave him out in your yard unattended – This one might sound silly, but I really cannot emphasize it enough – Do Not Leave Your New Dog Unattended In Your Backyard. The riskiest time for a new dog to become lost is in those first few days and weeks in a new home. Your new dog is probably stressed and scared and disoriented. One strange noise or sudden movement or scary incident and he can be gone in a flash, right over the fence. Being in the yard with him tells him he is not alone. It also ensure that he won’t have a chance to dig under a fence or look for an escape route, and if he does, you have an opportunity to redirect him before he makes it out.

Most rescue and shelter dogs are not there because they were bad dogs or had behavioral issues. Most are there because someone had to move or was going through a life change that required them to give up their pet. They need time to adjust to all the changes.

Puppy Wearing BowAnd while these dogs are awesome pets and companions, they also have the potential to bite if backed into a corner or placed in a stressful situation (every dog has the potential to bite when placed in a stressful position with no way out). It is up to us, as their new owners, to protect them. It is up to us to do right by them. Spend time getting to know your new dog, and let him get to know you too. Before introducing him to all the new wonderful things in your world, take the time to bond. You have time. You have the rest of your lives to do all those cool things you want to do together. Why rush it?

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My vote for TV tonight? Hero Dogs of 9/11 on Animal Planet

September 9, 2013 11 comments

Search and Rescue dogToday I would like to highlight a beautiful film that will air tonight on Animal Planet – Hero Dogs of 9/11.

Back several years ago, when I was a new dog blogger, I had the opportunity to see a short film called by the very same name. The film was created by a fellow blogger and videographer, Kenn Bell of The Dog Files. I remember the social media sensation it caused and how my fellow bloggers and I shared it on Facebook and Twitter. It was emotional and touching and so beautifully filmed. The film Kenn Bell created was not only a memorial to the dogs who served on that day, but also a reminder to all of us that man’s best friend is so much more than “just a dog.” He is a rescuer, a companion, a friend, and a hero.

A few years later, Kenn’s film was featured at BlogPaws and it generated a lot of buzz from those who were there to see it. I may not have been there, but I watched it again at home and remembered the feelings and emotions I had on that day. Through all the horrors that day, and the long days afterwards, the hero dogs of 9/11 were there to search, to rescue and to comfort.

I have seen many of Kenn’s other wonderful videos featuring some of the most amazing dogs, but it is this one that has continued to resonate with me. So when I read that Kenn had been working on an expanded version of his original film, I was thrilled.  How wonderful to see these amazing dogs recognized once again in an hour-long special.

You can read Kenn’s own thoughts on this momentous occasion, but I hope you will do more than that. I hope you will watch it when it airs tonight.

I promise. You won’t be disappointed.

Hero Dogs of 9/11 airs tonight, Tuesday, September 10 at 8 PM ET/PT (and 7 PM Central Time) on Animal Planet

You can watch a preview here.

You can also watch another one of Kenn’s short films highlighting the ceremony that was held on September 11, 2011, to recognize the dogs who served on 9/11 – Hero Dogs of 9/11: Legacy.

Daisy: Love in Progression – A look back

July 31, 2013 19 comments

IMG_6216Today I am taking another look back to the early years when Daisy first came to live with me.  Daisy is a former puppy mill breeding dog who was estimated to be four years old at the time I adopted her. She was afraid of everyone and everything. She practically crawled on the ground the first few days she 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 the progress Daisy had made after I adopted her in 2007.

I hope it gives hope to those who have a damaged or unsocialized dog. Progress can be made. It takes time and patience and often happens in fits and starts – for every step forward, there are two steps back, but it is so rewarding when you start to take those steps forward.  The key is to never give up hope. You need a lot of patience and understanding. You also need learn to learn to celebrate the small successes.

This post is from July 11, 2011, a little over three years after Daisy first came to live with me.

It starts slowly at first. Very slowly.

Hanging out on the couch next to my sweet older girl, Aspen. Her lifeline. Being near me, this strange human, is too much at this time. But with Aspen as a buffer, she can cope with me being on the same couch with her.

When Aspen leaves us, we start again. She joins me on the couch but only if I pretend she is not there. Always, always at the other end of the couch as far away from me as is possible. Uncertain. Fearful. Alone in her own world.

If I leave the couch or the room, she is gone like a flash, with only the hint of a whisper. Silently. Ethereal. A ghost.

Over time, she discovers that an exposed belly can bring delightful touches. Belly rubs. Softly spoken words. Love.

When a new man enters our lives – a furry, curious, attention-seeking little guy. She discovers competition. Attention to be shared. With it brings little movements – a little scooch closer, and then a little more. And always, the exposed belly. Waiting. More belly rubs to be enjoyed.

As time passes, little movements progress into sideways glances and the thump, thump, thump of a tail. “Will you be my friend?” she seems to ask. The answer is “Yes. Always.” And then, slowly, a nose to my cheek.

One day, there is the lick of a tongue and a yellow head on my shoulder and again that thump, thump, thump of a tail. Confidence. Happiness. Joy. A smile. A new light in her eyes.

Three years pass. Patient, loving, gentle years. Now there is the automatic entrance and leap onto the couch followed by the exposed belly and questioning look “Belly rub?” Me on my computer. Working. And, then it happens… the slow, steady scooching. Closer. Closer still. Thump, thump, thump. Sideways glances now coming with steady progression. Thump, thump, thump. A sigh from me and the moving of the computer to a side table. My hand comes up to pet her ears, her head and neck. A kiss to her cheek. Loving words.

Ahhhh. Sweet moments in time. Savored. Treasured. Enjoyed.

Love.

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The Adorable Adoptable Romeo (He’ll make your heart pitter-patter)

April 30, 2013 10 comments
Dogs N Pawz

Today, I am joining a blog hop to promote pet adoption. I know most people are focusing on shelter pets, but since I am with Minnesota Sheltie Rescue, I thought I would promote one of our adorable adoptables instead. My thanks to our host, Lisa, over at Dogs N Pawz for putting this together. i love it when we can help to promote a pet up for adoption.

Romeo

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Meet the adorable, smart and funny Mr. Romeo. Is he not handsome?

Romeo is a friendly guy who loves playing in the snow and with other dogs and people. His new favorite thing to do is play doggie games with his foster mom. In fact, Romeo has learned lots of new games and tricks since being in his foster home! I’ve included a video of Romeo below so you can see  him in action. Trust me when I say, he puts my dogs to shame.526413_10151572791572755_409068554_n 🙂

When Romeo isn’t playing with his new toys or outside with his foster siblings, he’s cuddled up next to you on the couch. He prefers to be close to his human when the day winds down.

If you are interested in a dog that will make life fun, interesting and sweet, contact Minnesota Sheltie Rescue.

 

Now about that video…

Black & White Sunday #22 – Dog Day Sunday

January 27, 2013 24 comments
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Simba

My thanks to our hosts for this blog hop You Did What With Your Weiner, My Life in Blog Years and Dachshund Nola.

Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t allow Java script so I can’t provide a direct link to the linky, but you can join here.

Daisy: The Progress of a Former Puppy Mill Dog

July 10, 2012 23 comments

Last evening I was reflecting on Daisy and how far she has come in the 5 years she has been with me. I went back and re-read some of my old posts on her (from her “Daisy the Wonder Dog”). That’s when I came across one I had written back in December 31, 2009.

My how time has passed!

In that old post, I had written about Daisy’s 2009 goals and her progress (as told from her perspective):

1. Be able to eat and drink my water with my mom in the same room.
2. Continue to build up my confidence (my posture still indicates that I am not a fully confident dog yet).
3. To sit confidently and not run away in fear when Mom touches my collar.
4. Continue to be exposed to new situations so I can build my confidence.
5. Learn how to play like other dogs (with a ball or frisbee). Anything that has to be thrown scares me right now.
6. Learning the command “heel”.
7. Getting better at following the command “come”
8. Become more comfortable being left at home on my own for a few hours (I am much better than I used to be).
9. Be okay with having my picture taken (this one may take a while).

How funny it is to look back with some perspective and realize that some of the goals I had for her back then were ones I thought would make her a “normal” dog. How silly. What I’ve come to realize is that Daisy IS a “normal” dog – normal for her. And, you know what? I’m totally good with that.

She still eats in her kennel and prefers to drink her water when I am not in the room. If it makes her feel safe and secure, who am I to mess with that?

She no longer has to stay home alone because she has Jasper and Lady to keep her company.

She has long since learned how to respond to “come”, but I hardly ever have to use it since she rarely strays very far from me. Her preference is to still walk behind me, where she feels the most safe, but she is not afraid to venture away from me to explore her surroundings. Sometimes she will even go run with Jasper through the woods. I love that.

I could care less about “heel” anymore. Yes, it’s a nice command, but if Daisy feels safer behind me than beside me I am good with that too. I’ve come to think of it as Daisy’s version of “heel”.

Daisy has also learned “sit”, “down”, “stand”, “drop it”, “find it”, “Are you hungry?” “walk” and “belly rub”.

I very rarely see Daisy’s old body posture anymore (mostly just when she sees my camera come out). Now she stands and walks with more confidence and she very rarely (if ever) cowers away from me or others. In fact, she seeks out attention from adults more often than not and she has even approached children on occasion.

We’ve also made progress on her fear of her collar. Some time ago, I realized that if I took Daisy’s collar off and only put it on when we were going somewhere, like on a walk, she would begin to see having her collar on as a reward. It’s now a sign that there are good things to come.

Daisy loves water now too. She goes in the pool I set up for her, Jasper and Lady, and she has been known to jump in a lake and swim around, something she never would have done a few years ago.

Play was something Daisy had never had the chance to do, not until Jasper came along and taught her the game of tug. Now they play often and on occasion she will even play tug with me.

The one thing that we continue to work on is her fear of cameras. It is getting better, but it is a slow progress.

Looking back now I can’t help but be amazed by how far Daisy has come. From puppy mill dog to rescue dog to foster dog to adopted dog, who  could have ever predicted that a dog with such a troubled past would become the perfect companion? She has made so much more progress than I ever expected. If she hasn’t found her Inner Lab then she is awfully darn close.

Dogs in the City – Do No Harm?

June 5, 2012 22 comments

Like so many other dog lovers out there, tomorrow night I will be watching a TV show that features dogs, the big city (New York) and a “dog guru”. However, unlike many of my dog loving friends, I cannot say that I will be watching it with a completely uncritical eye.

That is not to say that I am looking for something to criticize. I’m really not. But two things I saw on the first episode left me wondering what else I would see and whether I could like a show that does some good while possibly doing some harm.

The TV show, called Dogs in the City,  is hosted by “dog guru” (def. Guru: a person with knowledge or expertise ), Justin Silver, and airs on CBS on Wednesday nights.

Justin is a comedian and a passionate animal advocate who has done a lot to help rescued animals, including:

In the first episode, Justin seemed to correctly diagnose some of his client’s issues – separation anxiety, dog aggression and a doggie weight issue.  He was honest and up front with each owner about the issue and what would be needed from them to fix it.

But there were subtle things that were said or done that worried me.

  • In the case of the owner who had an aggressive dog (in her office) – a model who had volunteered to help with the dog aggression issue by bringing in her own dog, was allowed to bring her dog within biting distance of the other, resulting in a bite.
  • In the case of 9-year-old Allie, and her Bernese Mountain dog, Rosie, Justin taught the girl to push against the chest of her dog in a forceful manner and say “leave it” so the dog would learn to not eat food unless given the okay. Later the girl is interviewed by herself and the thing she said she learned was to push the dog in the chest and say “leave it”.

When it comes to dog trainers and doctors I am of one school of mind “do no harm.” That includes both humans and their pets.

In both cases mentioned above, harm was done . One was in the form of physical harm – to the model’s dog, and the other was in the form of bad advice that could lead to potential harm to Allie, or someone else, down the road.

In the case of the model’s dog, the owner’s own self-denial about her dog’s aggression, and the fact that the dog had a history of biting other dogs and people in the office, should have been enough information to know that this situation needed to be managed much more effectively than it was. I could never see Victoria Stilwell letting an aggressive dog close enough to another dog to allow that dog to be bit. Could you?

In the case of Allie and Rosie, Justin’s advice for Allie to shove her dog Rosie in the chest was just bad advice. Coming on the heels of National Bite Prevention week, this seemed like the worst possible advice one could give a child (or adult). The possibility of Rosie biting Allie may have been low in her case, but what if she were to try this with another dog? Would that other dog be so accommodating? And, what if she were to teach her friends what she learned and one of them got bitten? Children are the most likely to get bitten by a dog and Justin just shared a training method that has the potential to harm a child – whether Allie herself, a friend or some child who was watching it that night. Not good.

Maybe it’s the fault of the producer who is looking to make an interesting show that has a bit of drama, or maybe it was the editing that things went wrong or maybe Justin just wasn’t thinking about the repercussions in that particular situation. Who knows? But, what I do know is that when it involves dogs and kids one must be cautious and one must always keep in mind to “do no harm”.

I will be watching Dogs in the City on Wednesday night, but it will be with a much more critical eye than before. My hope is that a guy like Justin, who does so much good for animals, will continue to help owners and their pets while doing no harm. That is my hope. I hope he, and the show, can deliver

Will you watch?

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