Monday, February 25, 2013

Fearful *will bite*

^This is at the top of every page of Nova's medical records^

We were talking with some friends the other night about wither or not they would have adopted Nova.  Most of them said yes- because she is so obviously Kerri's family.  The thing is its not really relevant- because most people would not have gotten the opportunity to adopt her.  She would have failed every temperament test out there and I don't know what the rescue I work with would have done with her if I hadn't picked her up that day.  In fact the vets office I got her from practically begged me not to take her- and I can't really blame them.  She was totally feral, scared beyond belief and probably a little bit unstable.  Now I'm not a saint here.  I can't say why I took her on, once she was here I knew I couldn't let her go, but why?  I suppose it is because me and Ben love dogs.  Alot.  But it is not just that because we have said no before.  I had a foster show up early in my fostering days with real aggression issues with men.  I sent him off to live with a single woman who was better able to deal with him.  George lived here for nearly six months and I let him go.  Coco was a 15 year old chihuahua who had had a really rough life and I let her go to a good home too.  I am not one to "foster fail."  I also know my limits and I have no guilt telling a foster coordinator "no more dogs."  Rumor on the street is I have a reputation for being a particularly patient foster home for dogs who need that extra little help.  The reason for that is I know my limit.  I only take on what I can handle and what is good for my pack of dogs.  You can't take on too much because then you are not good for anyone.

It took several years of fostering, training, dealing with my dogs and reading a lot for me to be in a place to handle Nova.  She is here because I can handle her, because Copley immediately fell in love with her and she is most certainly related to Kerri.  She is also here because an extremely nice person trapped her, a rescue I work with posted her picture on my facebook wall and a vets office held her and gave her a chance despite her less than stellar behavior.

What does the future hold for Nova?  Well she has been here for 3 months and still is not handle-able at all. She still eats her food at a speed faster than lightening. If either me or Ben come in looking different in any way she barks at us. New things are usually frightening, but sometimes not, still randomly. She really is a totally feral dog, and that is quite the thing to deal with, but you know what?  She gets better every day.  She may never be a therapy dog like Kerri, in fact she may never be out in public without a muzzle, but you know what?  Thats ok.  I will keep her safe, and help her relax and make her as stable and happy as I possibly can.  I don't know what 10 years from now will look like for Nova- but hopefully we can get that caution message removed from the top of her medical records.  That is if she is around for 10 more years... because how old is she?  No idea.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Follow Us

I just wanted to remind all our readers to follow us on Facebook.  I have started posting regular updates and pictures there.

Or our favorite social media Pinterest! Follow me over there at doginthedesert and I promise I will follow you back.  I post mostly about dog stuff but also about geeky stuff, food, rodents of course and causes I'm involved in.  It is a good way to get to know a little more about the DogInTheDesert family plus pinterest is a great time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"Watch out for that pack of dangerous pit bulls"

 Super Kerrigan
 The rugged mountain chihuahua
Ambassador for her breed and advocate for others

Our friend Mosby and his human counterparts asked if we wanted to take a little hike the other day.  I am always up for a hike so I said yes.  Well did anyone else realize it is Sunday, and a holiday weekend?  We sure didn't.  When you work a non traditional schedule days are really irrelevant and holidays just mean time and a half so I had no idea that Red Rock would be PACKED.  Normally we hike in a less touristy area too but we wanted to check out this hike because of the view.  Turned out so did about 200 other people.  There were so many dogs and hikers I felt like I was at a convention not a wilderness area.  

So we get out of the car and immediately there is a guy with two pointers running around off leash.  Keep in mind this is a place with signs all over saying dogs must be on a 6 foot leash, not to mention we are in a parking lot filled with people, some elderly, some children and dogs of all sizes.  As this asshole's dogs are literally jumping on an 80 year old woman who is forced to sit down on a rock before she falls over I hear him say "yeah- they don't listen at all for like the first half hour they are out like this, but I don't have anything to worry about because they are hunting dogs so they always come back."  I have to admit he was not the only person with his dogs off leash, people seem to think leash laws are just suggestions to be ignored- but he is by far the least responsible dog owner on the trail that day.  The dogs were ultra hyper and out of control.  One ran over to us and Kerri hit the floor in the most submissive stance possible- her typical reaction when she is worried a dog might eat her.  The other dog ran straight into Copley's face, looked him dead in the eyes, and then took off.  So polite. *sarcasm*

We let him take off and started up the trail a safe distance behind him.  Not a moment later a group of 6 or 7 people with 5 or so pit bull type dogs and boxer mixes came up the trail.  The dogs were all polite, walking right with their people on loose leashes.  One dog was off leash (and I am not crazy about that) but it was right next to it's person and didn't stray at all from their side.  We smiled at these people, complimented their beautiful dogs and let them pass us without incident.

Now for the fun part.  Three people warned us we should turn around and not hike any further because of dangerous dogs up the trail.  One woman with a chihuahua told me it was too dangerous to have small dogs up there because of these horrible irresponsible owners at the end of the trail.  Who were they warning me about?  Not the a-hole with the out of control pointers, but the "pack of dangerous pit bulls."  One lady even told me the problem was not that there was just one, but that they get into that "pack mentality" and you "never know what might happen."  I tried to talk to these people and they politely smiled and nodded.  The one thing about people who are so concerned for a fellow chihuahua owner that they feel the need to stop a stranger on a trail to warn them about the dangerous pit bulls is that they are floored- absolutely can't believe it speechless- when the lady with the chihuahua is defending the pit bulls to them.  For some crazy reason people presume that because I am the owner of a chihuahua that I also find pits disgusting- and when that is not the case it shocks their worldview in an incredibly satisfying way.

To end on a lighter note here is a collection of other discussions I had on the trail.  Mostly with people who think things about chihuahuas that are just as crazy as the things they think about pits.  As you will see today I had some real gems of conversations with others on the trail.
  • One woman told me it was cruel to be hiking with a chihuahua, that I should be carrying her.  When I told her that Kerri hikes weekly and walks every day she just rolled her eyes and walked away.
  • A man with a smaller dog came up to us while I was holding Kerri and said to her "why aren't you barking, is there something wrong with you?"  That guy was actually really nice.  I gave him my regular line about Kerri not being yappy "I don't allow any barking around my house because it would drive me nuts!"  We talked for a minute about how chihuahuas are actually very trainable and if you exercise them properly and train them they are not yappy.  I also talked about how even little dogs need exercise and regular walks.  He agreed and pointed to his little dogs- a terrier mix- telling me that those little legs just can go all day long!  I love when I can change a person's view of chis and make friends at the same time.
  • A family with little kids came over and asked to pet Kerri (at least they asked, +1 for that).  The kids literally tried to pull her ears off.  Ok, maybe not literally but it was close.  In times like that I am really grateful for her temperament- that's why she is a therapy dog after all!
  • A woman walking with her friend and their bigger dog told me her chihuahua had not been outside of her house in over 5 years.  I really have nothing more to say about that.
  • My favorite was when a family came by and the mother was really struggling to keep up with her partner and two boys.  The boy said "look mom, that tiny dog isn't having any trouble, you should be able to keep up if she can!"  I looked at the Mom and said "don't feel bad, the dog has an advantage... four legs instead of two."  Mom laughed and thanked me for helping her outsmart her kid.
So lessions of the day- be responsable and keep your dog on a leash in areas where it is the law and remember tourists at Red Rock are extremely chatty these days.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Yellow Dog Project

You may have seen this graphic making the rounds on social networking sites lately.  I think it is a pretty clever idea.  Wouldn't it be great if we had a signal that said "woah there- don't come running up to me and my dog."  Even those of us with even tempered calm dogs have days when we are training and don't want other dogs running up to us.  Once Nova is brave enough to walk out the front door I am going to be implementing this.  With my neighborhood though I might invest in a giant blinking sign that says STAY AWAY SCARED DOG.  But that is another story.  Spread the word- if enough people find out about this it just might work.

Like the Yellow Dog Project on Facebook
Visit The Yellow Dog Project on the web

Friday, February 15, 2013

PoochieBells Product Review

Last month the people over at Poochie-Pets contacted me about reviewing a few of their products.  I could not have been more excited because they are the makers of PoochieBells, the dog doorbells!  I have been thinking of buying bells to train the dogs but for some reason or another never got around to it till now!

I don't know why I waited this long because it was so incredibly easy to train the dogs to use the bells.  My dogs are already house-trained so I just hung the bells on the door and every time they wanted to go out I brought them over to the bells and had them nose touch them before I opened the door.  Foster dog George (who was adopted last week YAY!!) caught on to the bells in less than an hour, he was ringing consistently by that night.  Copley took more like three or four days to understand he should ring bells not just scratch at the door like before.  Kerri was a little harder to sell on the bells.  At first she was not crazy about the noise and didn't want to go near them.  I put the bells on the floor with some treats around them and soon she was happily rummaging around the bells to get the treats.  Then I hung the bells on the door and just like I did with the other dogs I would see she wanted to go out then lead her over to the bells. I have to admit it took Kerri almost a week and a half before she was consistently using them, but now that she is I am so happy!

What I love about PoochieBells-
  • PoochieBells are made in the USA with custom, lead free USA manufactured bells.  If you read this blog regularly you know I am all about responsably manufactured products made in North America!  The bells even have a cute little paw on them to let you know they are authentic PoochieBells.
  • When we go out of town I will be able to bring the bells with us!  This is a HUGE plus for me.  We often travel to cabins and other peoples houses creating a real quandary for the dogs.  They never know what door to ask to go out and it is usually up to us humans to predict when they need to go.  I can't wait to travel with them, it will be so easy!  I will be able to hang the bells and the dogs will have no question about what door to go to.  Skeptical?  Don't worry dear blog readers, I will be sure to let you all know how it goes the first time we go out of town.
  • They work for my tiny dog.  Kerri weighs less than 6lbs and she has no problem at all reaching the bells.
  • I can finally hear the dogs wanting to go out 100% of the time!  Copley was trained to scratch the door to go out, Kerri was trained to bark (because I could not hear her tiny little feet scratching the door) but also would get frustrated when I didn't notice THAT is what she was barking about and would start pawing at the door.  Foster dog George just sits by the door because I didn't want him pawing at and scratching it up!  With 3 dogs doing three different things it was very confusing and I often went to let dogs out only to find they were just playing near the door and had no interest in going anywhere.  Finally we have a consistent way for our dogs and any future foster dogs to all communicate to me in a clear way.
  • The bells are attractive on my door.  Now that the dogs are trained I am thinking of moving the bells to a hook next to the door. My main reasoning for that is my door is glass in the middle and from time to time Ben closes the door a little hard and I am worried about the bells hurting the glass.  Luckily Poochie-Pets carries a selection of really nice hooks too!
Wow!  I had so much to say great about Poochie-Bells that I didn't even get to my review of the To-Go Pet Towel!  Look out for a post about that next week.  In the meanwhile if you would like some PoochieBells of your own visit

Poochie Pets sent me my sample of Poochie Bells and the To-Go Pet Towel to review. however all of the opinions are my ownI would still be saying great things about their products even if they hadn't sent me a sample!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dinner Tonight

I've been out of town for a few weeks and things are crazy now that I'm back!  Here are a few pictures of dinner (beef ribs) tonight.


Nova even strips ribs fast, little one had all the meat off in just the time it took me to feed Copley and Kerrigan.  In case you were wondering Copley is able to get some edible bone from beef ribs, but Kerri and Nova just strip them and walk away.