Maggie and Max come out for a visit

Hans brought Maggie and Max out for a doggy visit. Maggie just had surgery on her rear right foot to remove a cyst. It had been growing quickly and so it appeared to be cancer. They removed one toe so now the foot looks like a chicken foot. So, I called her “Chicken Foot” when playing with her.

Goofy and Clifford like Maggie and Max. But Satan’s Little Helper (aka Jay-Z) has a problem with Maggie so he had to be locked up separately. Maggie, Max, Goofy, and Clifford played outside for a while and then came inside and played more. Satan’s Little Helper couldn’t stand it and barked his head off from upstairs where he was sequestered with Mike in Mike’s room.

When Maggie and Max left after dinner we let Satan’s Little Helper out and he just went crazy dancing around and playing. He was so cute I almost thought that he was a good dog. Then he got into something just to remind me that he was not learning anything. At least he didn’t have any accidents.

Maggie gone, Mak arrives

Gary came and picked up Maggie after his vacation. She settled in pretty well and seemed really attached to me.  She pretty much stayed glued to me whenever I was home and if she could, she would get in bed and try to sleep next to me. Goofy didn’t seem to care and would just let her push him out of the way.

As Maggie left, a new dog came to stay for a bit. Mak is being fostered by someone in HART but they needed to go away for a week so we took in for a week. He looks like a mini version of Sparky but his tail has been docked. He is mostly brown with a white face.

Mak has had trouble getting adopted because he doesn’t get along with other dogs well. He always wants to dominate dogs at the events. We politely introduced him to Goofy, Clifford and Bull and he did just fine. He doesn’t play with them at all and hides under the piano. So we draped a cloth over the piano so that he could have a little cave to be comfortable in.

Makhas another issue. He guards the house… from everyone. When I come home he follows me around the house doing these low “woof” sounds. Woof… pause 10 seconds… woof… pause… and he darts from wall to wall or column to column an peeks around to woof at me. This is a guarding behavior. He eventually will come down and try to nip at my heels. If I turn around he doesn’t run away and he continues to puff his cheeks and woof at me even with me petting him.

He is just displaced and has an anxiety that he won’t get over till he has a permanent home. But with his personality he will guard his home a little more than most people are comfortable. He will do this stalking woofing thing when they have guests which will be disturbing to guests.

Bull can jump

Well, Sunday was the day to mow the yard. It has been raining so much that we haven’t been able to mow the field or the lawn. But today was dryer. I got out the tractor and Mike got out the Zero-turn mower. I mowed outside the fence and the front field while Mike mowed the back yard and the orchard. He was just finishing up the orchard when I finished the front field and so we both started working on the front yard. The zero-turn mower does a beautiful job of cutting evenly whereas the tractor’s 3 blades cut the grass but doesn’t pulverize it. The tractor blades turn at about 1/4 the speed of the zero-turn. So I mowed the part of the yard that is furthest from the house where it won’t matter if it looks rough.

After we mowed the property and were inside Mike opened the doggy door and Goofy and Clifford went out to see what damage we had done to their yard. Bull isn’t trusted out by himself so Mike took him out on a leash to walk do his stuff in the back yard. The back yard is fully fenced and electrified so we aren’t worried about the dogs that live here but we are careful with the fosters because the dumber ones will get shocked and still keep pushing through the fence.

I got my shower and then started fixing dinner. Mike brought the dogs in and said he was going out to the garden to pick vegetables and said to watch Bull. I figured he was in the house so he was being watched.

About 15 minutes later Mike comes in the front door with Bull by the collar. He said “You were supposed to be watching Bull” and I said “I was here, what was there to watch”.

Apparently Bull had figured out the doggy door in one day (about as quickly as Goofy had figured it out) and had gone to the back yard. Mike was in the garden where Bull could see him and Bull just leaped right over the fence. Those big back legs apparently work like a kangaroo’s legs.

We locked him in the bedroom while Mike was in the kitchen and he bounded right over the gate. The problem now is that he knows he can hop gates and just about anything that doesn’t have a ceiling so he now has to be locked in a crate whenever we aren’t able to watch him.

Venus (aka clown dog)

We took in the latest foster. It is a very large dog (larger than Clifford) but doesn’t weigh that much. She is a Great Pyrenees. She looks fairly young and is very shy. She plays well with Goofy. In looking at the markings on her face and how big her head is compared to her body, she looks like a clown.

She was in the kennel but went home with a foster over the weekend. Unfortunately the fosters tried to cut the mats of hair from under her chin and ended up slicing her open with the scissors from her neck down about 5 inches. The fosters took her to the vet but didn’t want to continue fostering her. She has stiches down her neck and seems to be OK. We don’t have any other history.

She has a good disposition. She is very skittish. But she is interested in investigating things and will let us pet her. She got one look at Duane’s tiny dog Sonny and largely just walked over the little thing as if it didn’t exist. Goofy had his bone and she came over and just took it from him. He didn’t do anything other than look at her like he was happy she took it. Then she started playing keep-away with him.

Goofy: The food hound learns “stay”

Goofy is more of a food hound than I have ever seen.  The slightest sound of plastic will have him sitting in front of you in less than 10 seconds.  He seems to hear it even when he is out in the back yard chasing bunnies.

But, it turns out that it is easier to train such a dog.  Clifford is also a food hound but not nearly as obsessed with it as Goofy.  But until Goofy, Clifford was the only dog that I ever got to successfully do “stay” when playing with toys or food.  Kira did “stay” without really any training so she doesn’t count.

I have been working with Goofy to teach him to hold back while I fill his bowl for breakfast and dinner.  I take the scoop and fill it with food for Clifford and Goofy.  Then I feed Clifford first while Goofy is watching and tell him to sit, then stay, then give paw and Clifford does each as I request them.  I then pour his food in his bowl and he stares at me waiting for me to say “Go!” and when I do he digs in.

I then go to Goofy’s bowl and repeat the same thing.  In less than a week (2 meals a day) Goofy has gotten to the point where he does the sit, paw, and stay part but he doesn’t wait for the “Go!”.  He is getting better though.  Previously he would knock the scoop out of your hand.  Now he doesn’t dive in until the food has been poured into his bowl.

Baby steps…

Back to normal

Oh, it has been a wonderful weekend.  To a normal person this would be considered a hectic weekend, but when you put everything into perspective, going from 6 dogs to 4 is a very welcome thing.  I was able to open the windows and doors to the deck so that the dogs had free roam while I cleaned the pond.  I vacuumed without any growls, and was able to clean the bathrooms without worrying about JB sticking his nose in the Clorox.

Thank goodness… we are back to a sane balance of humans and animals.

The house is normal

Today Mike took Atlas and Apollo to work with him.  I left work a bit late so that I sat in traffic, but I looked forward to getting to the house because it would just be me and the 3 normal dogs.  I left at 4:30 and got home at 5:30 which is frustrating but not bad.  It is only 22 miles from the office to home.

As a side note, that Lincoln MKZ makes that commute really nice in that the engine just turns off and I am on battery most of the way.  So, sitting in stop and go traffic is not so bad since the car is so efficient in that kind of situation.

I got home and it was the normal Kira, Clifford and Remy.  Everything was back to normal.  They acted like the always have.  Kira was mildly interested that I came home, Clifford wanted to be hugged and petted, and Remy wanted his dinner.  No pooch was pouting and every dog was happy.  That is a big change.  The regular dogs have all been pouting and unhappy with the horse in the house.

Well… around 10pm Mike came home from dinner with HART and brought home Apollo and Atlas.  Immediately the other dogs seemed to change their disposition.  They really don’t like having the big beast in the house.

He has two applications that look good so there is a very good chance that Atlas will be adopted and leave this coming week.  Gees, I really hope that dog leaves.  On the one hand, I cannot imagine anyone wanting something like Atlas.  On the other, I hope someone adopts him just to get him out of our house.  He isn’t bad, doesn’t do anything wrong, but he is just too large to live in a home with normal sized humans.

Apollo adoption

I have not written much about Apollo.  He has been a really interesting foster.  He is an intelligent, inquisitive, and free spirit.  He gets into everything but he is not destructive.  Compare him to Kira (my girl).  Kira is the most well behaved dog I have ever seen but as a 9 month old puppy she chewed up the legs to an antique sewing table and I struggled to keep her in control just walking the property.

Kira is 100% Labrador and so her personality evolved exactly as expected.  And she is the perfect companion for me.  But she is near the end of her life and I will be devastated when she dies.

As I did with Bones (Mike’s beloved dog) I arranged to adopt Remy before Bones died. But Bones lived a lot longer than I expected so I ended up arranging to adopt Clifford to help in the transition.  The strategy worked and the move from a lifelong companion was eased by moving to another companion that was similar in color and size.

Well… Kira is a dog that shares my soul.  She is moody, grumpy, happy, affectionate, and determined.  She is a mirror image of me.  But she doesn’t have long left.  I truly thought that she would die last year, but she pulled through.

I need a companion.  I really need something that really adores me so that I have something to care for.  Not just a random creature that I adopt but that doesn’t care in the least about me.  I really need a creature that looks to me as the most important thing to their life and I look to them as the most important thing I must care for.

That relationship is really difficult to find.  I have it with Kira to a limited degree.  Kira appears to exist with no dependency on any other creature in life but she dislikes Mike significantly more than me so she stays with me.  She doesn’t adore me or see me as anything more than the alpha that doesn’t hurt her.  Mike gives her shots, gives her meds, and does the difficult things.  I pet and love on her and so I am the most desirable protector.  But she doesn’t adore me.

I never knew what it was like to have an animal that absolutely adored me until I had Darby.  If you look back in my posts, Darby was one of the most difficult dogs we ever fostered.  But he showed me something that I have never seen or felt before.  Darby absolutely adored me and was so attached that his life revolved around me.  I liked him a lot, but he created terrible problem in that he was so destructive.  I hated caging him but he could not be let loose on his own.

Let’s not get me wrong here.  I absolutely adored Darby.  But he absolutely destroyed our home.  You can read about what he did to the house.  But no matter what he did, I loved him and loved his soul.

I have a chance with Apollo to fix the mistakes I made.  This dog appears to be the exact incarnation of Darby in a different body.  I mean, this personality is precisely Darby.  He is ugly and cute at the same time.  He is 9 months old, he adores me, he is uncontrollable, and in every way he is Darby except that he is not destructive.

It would be a very bad thing to adopt a dog because he reminded me of a dog that I let die in bad circumstances.  But I do not think I am trying to recreate Darby in another dog. Apollo is unique.  He is interesting, he is a free spirit (like Darby) and he seems to have a soul like Darby.  But he is not Darby.  He is a wrinkly terrier mix that walks upright and he doesn’t have the least desire for birds, squirrels, or groundhogs.  He doesn’t care in the least of the chickens.  He isn’t Darby.

But he has everything I loved in Darby and he seems to adore me.  This will take a lot of work and a lot of patience, but this dog could something really great.

I love most all dogs.  But it is rare that one really touches me so deeply as Darby or Apollo.

We call this a “foster failure” and well.. I am pleased with this failure.

Hachi: New Year’s day

Well… it is New Year’s day of 2013 and Hachi is glued to Mike like there is no tomorrow.  I got the camera out and took a couple of pictures of him.  He usually curls his tail over his back, but whenever he looks at me, his tail goes down.  Clifford is standing behind him in this picture.


Here is a picture of Hachi by himself.


Kira, Clifford, Remy: Our first big snow of the winter

I got up this morning, got completely ready for work knowing that there was sleet hitting the window as I fed the dogs this morning.  But I figured that the weather was saying the temperature would be 45 degrees so I would go to work.  Well… after getting all ready, going to the garage to put my stuff in the car, I looked down the drive and there were yellow and blue lights.  A van had gone off the road and they had 2 tow trucks trying to get it out of the ravine.  A police man was blocking route 50 and I would be able to get out of my drive.

So, I waited around and it took about 2 hours to get the van out.  And what did they do… they put it on a flat bed and then parked in my driveway.  By 8:30 I had already called the office and told everyone to go home and so my team was watching the customer support queue from home.

By 10am, it was snowing pretty hard.  And by 11am, there was about 3 inches of snow alternating with ice on the ground and drive.  I am fairly certain that if I had gone to work that it would be a miserable drive home.

At 11:30, I put on a coat and took the dogs for a walk around the property in the snow.  I got balls for each of them and they were just so excited and ballistic.  We walked through the front 4 acres and watched the work on the van.  The tow trucks left and the police left but the van was still sitting in my drive.

After checking things out, I walked around the yard for about an hour throwing the ball for Clifford and Kira.  Remy won’t ever give up his ball and just runs around trying to take the other dog’s ball.  Clifford leaps into the air and pushes off with his feet so hard that it looks like a snow plow with the amount of snow kicked into the air.  Kira seems to do better in the snow than in the summer and will give me the ball if Remy is not around.

I got them all tired out.  I put bird food in the feeder, and then we went into the house.  They all laid down and went to sleep giving me the rest of the day to myself.

Raven: Gets into everything

Accidentally leave a door open?  She is immediately in there sniffing everything and finding something to run away with.  She doesn’t chew everything up like Darby did, but she takes it back to her bed. If you are in the house and things are a little too quiet… you better get up and start looking for her because she is into something.

Raven is just a bundle of joy, energy, licks, and belly rubs.  She knows paw and when she can’t get your attention, she puts her nose down, looks up out of the top of her eyes, and lifts up the paw.  Everyone just melts to that.

I think the only problem that Raven has is that she is skittish.  If you rush up to her too fast, she flops on the floor and closes her eyes like you are going to hit her.  If you raise your hand to her, she flops on the floor and closes her eyes as if she thinks she is going to be hit.

She loves the Piano, and loves to just crawl all over the other dogs.  Remy is just an old kremudgin with lots of growls, and leaving the room, but eventually he just lays on the floor while she chews on his tail, bites at his feet, licks his ears, lays on his head, and in general just mauls him.  She does the same with Clifford but Clifford eventually tires of it and lifts his lip and then swats her with his paw.  Kira won’t have anything to do with her but I have fussed at Kira for snapping at her so Kira lifts her lip and there must be some low growl that I can’t hear, but Raven jumps up and gets about 6 feet away from Kira whenever it happens.

She is a sweet little dog… but she is trouble if you don’t keep an eye on her.

Clay: OK… not such a sweet dog

I don’t know what happened…. but Mike texted me that Clan and Clifford had gotten into a fight and that one was going to the hospital.  I thought that Clifford had attacked Clay but it turns out that it was the reverse.  Apparently Clifford was playing with the ball and Clay wanted it and they got into a scuffle and Clay ended up cutting a 3 inch gash in Cliff’s back.

Mike tried to clean Cliff’s wounds up but it turned out that it was much deeper and so Cliff went to the emergency vet.  The sedated him and put in stitches in the under part of his body and then put in 5 staples in the outside.  This was pretty major and costs us about $500 to get Cliff patched up.

Needless to say, we were both upset and mad… but Cliff… once he shed the sedation… was best friends with Clay.  They played together and seemed like nothing had happened.

Still… you can’t touch Clifford’s back without him getting nervous about touching the wound.  It is deep… about 3 inches wide… and probably very painful.

Dogs forgive dogs far better than I ever forgive anyone.  Maybe a lesson… maybe a conclusion…

Loredo: Another nose bite

Well, we figured out who was fighting with Loredo.  Clifford!  Yes, much to our surprise, it was Clifford.  I had noticed that Clifford was being a bit more shy since we got Loredo and I had noticed that he didn’t like playing around Loredo.  They don’t play together.  Instead, Sparky and Loredo play all the time and love to chase each other through the house.

So, Mike relayed the story that around lunch Clifford was laying on the landing of the stairs that is half way between the first floor and the second floor.  Loredo had started down the stairs and Clifford didn’t let him pass.  Loredo tried to push past him and Clifford lit into him and bit him on the nose again.  Another deep wound.

This is surprising because Clifford has shown no aggression since we have had him.  Not a single dog.  In all cases, Clifford always backs off and just hides in the bathroom or gets out of the way.  But apparently he doesn’t like Loredo to the point that he won’t back down.

Now Loredo isn’t without fault.  Loredo acts like an unsocialized puppy and gets into everything, takes everyone’s food, takes everyone’s toys, and sleeps in any bed that is near.  He doesn’t seem to respect or understand the pack rules of ownership of certain things.

So, it appears that Clifford, who is somewhat of the defacto male alpha (Kira is the real alpha but being a female there is still an opening in the pack for challenges among the males) since he is easily 4 inches taller than any other dog in the house and gets the most attention from humans.

Adjustments are being made.  We are keeping them separated when they aren’t supervised and we are making sure that Clifford and Loredo interact with us around so we can watch and correct behavior.

Clifford: I can swim!

This is a second had story but still worth writing.

Mike got an invitation to go to a friend’s house and so he took Clifford.  The friend has a pool and his dogs don’t like the water so they never get in.  But Clifford is 100% lab and institutionally loves water.  But he had never seen or been near water.

Kira was much the same.  A pure lab that had never seen water.  But when she was a pup, we took her to the local creek that had a dam (called Aldie Dam) and played with her near the water to introduce her.  But she wouldn’t get in and wouldn’t even put a paw in the water.  So, we threw her ball into the water and still she wouldn’t get in.  We got the ball near the edge and she reached for it… and I pushed her in.  The water was only about 3 feet deep but she just paniced and flailed out of the water.  Once out she ran to me and jumped up on me and literally wrapped her paws around me and put her head on my shoulder and just literally held on to me.

After that event, whenever she saw water, she would leap into it and just swim around.  She loves water.  But Clifford had never been near water.  So, apparently he walked to the edge of the water and put his paw in, then stuck his snoot in and bubbled under the water.  But he wouldn’t get in.

They led him to the stairs that walk into the pool and he walked to the edge and didn’t realize that the concrete ended and just stepped off into the water.  Apparently this was quite a surprise to him as he flailed about and tried to figure out why there was no ground under him.

So, he was in the water.  And then, unlike Kira… he discovered that he loved it.  He swam around and just seemed to have a great time.  But like all critters, he eventually tired of swimming and wanted to rest.  Rest means sinking. So, he wanted out of the pool.

That introduced the concept of the pool float.  Clifford adapted to the float in a way that I never expected.  He got on it. He just sat on the float and just “floated” around the pool.  He just relaxed and and floated around.  He didn’t care and just visited people.  He apparently just swam around and crossed his paws on the float.

So, Clifford learned to swim and learned to float and just relax in the water.

Loredo: Ouch, my nose!

I got home from work today and Loredo had this deep puncture wound on his nose about 1 inch in front of his eyes and op the upper right side.  It didn’t seem to phase him a bit when I patted him on the head when I walked in the door.  As I walked through the house Mike yelled down to be careful of his nose.

Turns out that after I left for work, Mike had gotten up and gone to the bathroom.  Mike lives upstairs and use to leave the bathroom door open when I was at work (Mike works from home).  The dogs largely didn’t care and Clifford would go into the bathroom and lay down on the cool tile.  But once we got Loredo, that had to change because he wasn’t content just sitting on the floor.  Loredo wants attention and if you are sitting still seeming to do nothing, he makes you give him attention.

So, apparently Mike was in the bathroom and he heard a ruccas.  When he opened the door, Loredo was bleeding from the snoot.  Mike didn’t know which dog he had gotten into a fight with but he suspected Sparky since Sparky is so aggressive with his bed.

We patched up his nose and cleaned up the wound.  He didn’t flinch a bit when we worked on it and was happy as a clam to get attention.  He is a sweet little dog and incredibly tolerant.

And speaking of tolerant, I decided it was time to put Loredo on his back.  I was expecting the usual struggle that you get from a big dog when you do it the first couple of times but he didn’t seem to care at all.  I was sitting in my office and called him over.  When he got there I turned him around and flipped him into my lap.  He didn’t fight a bit, didn’t even stiffen up.  His eyes got big, but he seemed pretty relaxed.

I just held him there and pet on his chest and belly.  He seemed perfectly content and eventually closed his eyes and seemed to go to sleep.  When put him back down on the floor, he spun around and started licking my arm.  When I covered my arm, he nipped at my shirt and tugged.  He was just so excited.  Then there was some sound or something happened somewhere else in the house and he took off like a shot to investigate.

Clifford and Darby: Best friends

It turns out that Clifford loves to play with Darby and Darby seems to really love playing with Clifford.  Darby never took to chasing a ball.  He preferred to destroy things in the house, take things out in the yard, wrap his paws around trees and shake the chicks out of the trees, or dig holes under every bush in the yard.  But when Clifford is in the yard, they play chase and it just completely tires both of them out.

Clifford is still a puppy with huge paws.  he is somewhat awkward and stumbles a bit.  But he can run like the wind with his long legs.  Darby, on the other hand, is thin and a year older than Clifford.  Darby is fast but he doesn’t have the legs on him that Clifford has.  So, when they play chase, Darby challenges Clifford, then takes off running.  Clifford takes off and very quickly catches up with Darby.  Clifford grabs one of Darby’s back legs in his mouth and Darby tumbles over, jumps up, and then plays some more.  Darby ends up covered in dirt or mud depending on if it is raining.

But Darby quickly adapted to Clifford being faster and has learned to zig zag while running.  Clifford is quick but he can’t turn very fast.  So, Darby just goes flying across the yard and just as Clifford gets within about 10 feet of Darby, he makes a sharp turn, and Clifford just continues straight.

Clifford did start adapting to this strategy, and Darby further adjusted by learning to run near bushes and dart behind the bush.  Clifford is so much bigger than Darby that he just smashes into the bush and stops.  Darby then teases Clifford by running out of the bush and then running back in.

They really get tired and seem to be having great fun.

Clifford: Love at first sight

Clifford came to us as a foster.  He was picked up by the pound and deemed aggressive so he was scheduled to be put down immediately.  HART got more information on the story and we took the dog in.  Clifford does have an incredible bark, has massive paws, and a huge head, but otherwise is just a puppy.  It turns out that there is a big story behind how he ended up with the pound and effectively we put him into doggy protection.  His name was immediately changed and he was never taken to adoption events.  Basically the family that owned him locked him out of the house and he roamed the neighborhood begging from anyone that would give him food.  He had been picked up 3 times and the husband of the family had gotten him each time.  The wife didn’t like the dog so she just didn’t care.  Well, on the 4th time, a neighbor called HART to let them know about the situation.

So, Clifford went into doggy protection.  No pictures will be up here so that he can’t be identified.  This is a rare situation.  If we reunite the dog with its home, it will just be treated the same and end up getting picked up by the pound.  The pound says that he is a dangerous dog so they will put him down in 24 hours if they catch him again.  So, he will be protected from the pound and given a good home.

Mike brought him home on April 3, and I knew this was the perfect dog to give to Mike as a 40th birthday present.  So, I silently arranged with the HART people to adopt him.  Mike was just thrilled to get Clifford.  He is an incredible dog.  Huge, smart, affectionate, and looks like the spitting image of Bones… Mike’s dog that he had to put down for old age.

The first night that Clifford was in our house, I was looking for Mike and found him laying on the floor with Clifford.  Mike just really took to him.  So, now we are back to 4 dogs in the house.