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With a little help from your friends

November 11, 2009
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Dutch has two dog friends:

Valentine: Rescued Bichon-Frise and Poodle mix. We dog sat Valentine for two weeks in August while his parents, L and J, were home in Canada. He is a sweet dog who loves cuddles and belly rubs and was patient when I needed to cut a burr from between his paw pads. Valentine is an apartment dog, so he wouldn’t go in our backyard, only when on the leash. Valentine also has a slight tick. When unattended, he will bite at the air, as if trying to catch flies, but there is no fly. It’s adorable, as long as his collar isn’t on.

Martha: Rescued black lab. Martha’s mom, T, and I get along Martha the Labfabulously. Martha is a mellow tempered dog, and loves to fetch! I was nervous about introducing Dutch to a larger dog, considering his barking habits (see previous post). Since T has a big back yard, I figured it would be best if they could run around and get their energy out. There were a couple snarls, but they we quickly friends and even had a second dog date the next night.

Other dogs I hope Dutch will be friends with:

Emerson: Our good buddy’s dog, Emerson was adopted from the humane society when he was just a puppy. Everybody loves to guess “what” Emerson is, but my bet is German Shepherd + Dalmatian + Lab. Emerson is an awesome hiking companion, an obedient off-leash dog, and a great fetcher. Still my favorite dog, other than Dutch of course, I hesitate to introduce them until Dutch is a little more under control.

Jack: Rescued Shepherd mix. Jack was so skinny when R and A adopted him! He’s put on a lot of weight now, but he still has issues when out on walks. R was the one who told me about the obedience class, and Jack is also going through the same training. However, Jack gets uppity around little dogs, and Dutch around big dogs. Their meet and greet might be a while.

Preston: Rescued Dalmatian. Just before Christmas last year, C and W adopted Preston. Shy and skinny, he kept to his dog bed most hours of the day. Today, he and Jack are good buddies and he is healthy and handsome.

On a final note: I wrote the last two posts early last month, but October proved to be very busy! More posts to come soon about training class, camping, hiking and more adventures with the Dutch Boy.

Obsession

November 11, 2009

There is one major problem with Dutch. He goes bizerk when he sees a bigger dog. Not little, not his size. Any dog bigger than him.

Alesa warned us about this, and we did get a taste of it at the animal hospital the day we adopted him. Basically, the behavior begins with a low growl, then a scramble to get to the dog. Frantic that he cannot reach said dog, he begins to bark a medium-high-pitched, high decibel bark that I couldn’t imagine came from his tiny body. At first, trying to stop this behavior was impossible, unless the dog was out of sight. It was embarrassing that I couldn’t keep him under control. I could only cover his eyes, or drag him to a place where the dog cannot be seen.

Thank goodness for Dan LaMaster, the obedience trainer at the Redlands Community Center. I learned later that dude trains Narcotics K-9 officers and their dogs! This guy is no joke.

Dutch and I made it through the first week of training in pretty good form. He was getting better at paying attention to me, and when we used a neighbor dog as a distraction, he had learned his lesson quickly. I was still scared to death about our first day of dog training. The orientation class was owners only, no dogs. There were about 100 people there, lining the tennis courts. I knew that the next week, there would be at least 40 dogs there… and there were.

We picked up our friends, J and L, who have had Valentine, a Bichon Frise and Poodle mix, for 5 months after adopting him from a similar group on Petfinder.com. Dog-sitting Valentine was our inspiration to adopt a dog, since he was such a sweetheart. We introduced Dutch and Valentine the previous week, and they had hit it off pretty well. Dutch was thrilled to see Valentine again, and the trip to the community center went smoothly.

As soon as Dutch caught site of all the other dogs, he went insane! We hadn’t registered yet, so I waited outside while L paid, and then she watched Dutch while I went inside. While I had him, he looked everywhere for the other dogs, barking franticly when he spotted one. Of course, when he was with L he was quiet…

We returned to the tennis courts, and crossed to the far side. Dutch was barking again, and drew Dan’s attention to us. He marched over, took the leash and gave Dutch an immediate and firm YANK. Dutch got the message, and so did I. The needless barking would never stop until I showed him I am boss.

During the first class, his training went well, but the barking continued. I don’t blame him, but I DID learn to correct him immediately. As much as his cries break my heart, I knew it would be the best way for him to learn what I want him to do.

And it’s only getting better with each passing day…

The Ins and Outs of Dutch

September 30, 2009

“Dutch, Shush” I mumbled, rolling back onto my side. That little plead to be let out of the crate and onto the bed wasn’t going to work this time, not at 1:20 in the morning.

Besides, he should be sleeping soundly after our first day of obedience training. On Monday, I attended the orientation class, and the instructor gave us homework:

  • Four hours before training: No food.
  • Two hours before training: Isolation in the crate.
  • 30 minutes of stop-and-go training, with prong collar and 15 foot lead.
  • Ten minutes of rest.
  • For one hour after, no play and no food.

On Tuesday, we launched this routine. Needless to say, Dutch was not pleased about the isolation. When I let him out of the crate to begin, he was more playful and needy than usual. We went straight to the car and to the local elementary school yard. Half-concrete, half grass, it was the ideal spot. Training went well, except for a few early yaps when the prong collar got the best of him. He wasn’t 4 feet from me after that!

Pleased with our performance, I felt confident the week would go smoothly. He desperately wanted to play when we got home, but Jim and I were ready to ignore him. An hour later he ate a full meal, and was restful for the remainder of the night.

My first thought was that Jim had just come to bed (he’s a night owl), and Dutch wanted to come sleep with us. But when the whining didn’t stop, I pulled myself out of bed, threw on a hoodie, and opened the crate. I gave a couple of feels to his crate pillow, but no sign of an accident. We went to the front door, and I turned to slip on my sandals.

When I turned around, Dutch had just finished laying down a foot long puddle of diarrhea on the front stoop. Gross! He then proceeded to barf in various places on the carpet. Well, I thought, at least he crapped on the linoleum. Unfortunately, the barf camouflaged well with our carpet.

I took a deep breath and cleaned up the messes, then took him and the garbage outside. Of course, he was his normal self again, sniffing and pissing around the dumpster. When we returned inside, he was not interested in his crate. I turned on the closet light, so I wouldn’t wake Jim, and took another look at the crate: vomit everywhere, except, of course, the center area I tested before…

Cleaning up Dog barf isn’t nearly as bad as cleaning up Human barf. I changed his pillow and blanket, cleaned off the tray at the bottom of the crate, and a bit around it, put him back in, and crashed back on the bed, all without feeling the urgent need to hurl myself.

I suppose this was my first real test of patience. Even the escape didn’t require me to be patient with the dog, but thoughtful and resourceful. My sleep was disturbed by thoughts of guilt, but I had learned a very good lesson. Dutch is well enough housetrained that if he needs to go out at night, it’s an emergency!

The Flying Dutchman

September 28, 2009

Of course I thought it was all my fault! When your dog bolts out the front door and around the block, it’s easy to wonder, “if only I had taken him for a walk!” or “I should have watched him more closely!”

When we adopted Dutch, he already had a microchip. The veterinarian gave us a pamphlet to mail in, but, being a true techie, I figured the application could be completed online. We scoured the site, but could not find an application. “We’ll check with the vet when we get his stitches out,” I thought, and gave up on that mission. He already had a tag on his collar with his name and both our cell phone numbers, so that would be OK for two weeks right?

About 10 days after we adopted him, Jim finally got around to registering him with the city. When I came home that day, Jim said that Dutch had just been out an hour before. We prepared to go off to the grocery store, and as I waited for Jim to put on his shoes, I went to attach the new registration tag to his collar. Those stupid little key rings are such a pain, so I figured I’d take care of it when we returned from the store and dropped the collar on the table by the door.

The SECOND I opened the door, Dutch was OUT. No amount of calling or kind words would get him to turn back. He stopped to quickly pee at the bottom of the stairs and took off. By the time I got to the corner, he was 100 yards away, sniffing a favorite bush. Of course, the jangling of his collar was the signal it was time to go out!

By the time I reached the spot I had last seen him (all the resources say not to run after the dog!), he was nowhere to be found. Crying, I circled the block, calling and whistling for him. Jim had headed the other way, to try to cut him off, but never saw him.

I went back to the apartment, called Animal Control and the microchip company. They gave me a courtesy hot listing, but warned me he must be registered and they e-mailed a registration form. I made some posters with his sweetest picture, but my printer was out of ink. A quick trip to the copy store, where I placed the original the wrong direction, and I had a dozen, cut off copies of a LOST DOG poster.

Please help us find ‘Dutch’!

Adult Male Miniature Poodle, Apricot colored
Still has stitches from recent neutering
Very friendly and playful!
Last seen near Brookside & Center in Redlands on September 15
No collar on, but microchipped
 

We scribbled our phone numbers into an empty area on the poster, but after plastering the neighborhood with posters duck taped to trees, the sun had gone down. I felt empty and helpless, but knew that I had done everything I could that night. Jim and I bought a bottle of Jim Beam and almost killed it.

Being that I am out of sick time, I went to work the next day for a few hours. I was a wreck (the hangover didn’t help), so I left early, picked up Jim and visited all the animal hospitals and pet stores in the city. Finally, at the Redlands Animal Hospital, the woman at the desk recognized our boy. “A lady brought him in last night, said he was almost hit by a car. We took him to the shelter this morning.”

 I was overjoyed!! Jim and I hadn’t had lunch, but we were too excited to eat. We went straight to the Redlands Animal Shelter, showed them our poster, and they sent us out to pen 9. 

DUTCHIE!

As a final note to this story, the lady recognized him from the shelter when we visited Paws of Redlands the next day. “I checked him in yesterday. I put him in a pen with a couple of Chihuahuas. When I heard yelping, I ran out to the pen and he had beaten up one of the Chihuahuas.” Tough little guy!

Don’t worry, we started obedience training this week…

DutchsRoute

Getting to Know You

September 28, 2009

Dutch had been neutered two weeks before he came home with us, but a complication resulted in additional surgery that morning. He had four wire stitches, and a pretty gnarly wound. We had to bring him back after two weeks to get the stitches removed.

We couldn’t bathe him because of the stitches, so we bought Tooshie Wipes at Petco. Getting the stink of the kennel out of him was tough with just wipes, but we managed to clean him up a bit.

ARRF (All Retrieval Rescue Foundation) has a deal with PetCo for 10% off your first purchase. In general, I prefer to shop mom-and-pops, so although we spent plenty at PetCo, we prefer Paws of Redlands for treats, toys, and food.

He was pretty logy the first night, but would go nuts for his walks! His skinny legs would go vertical when he would pee, and BOY does he love to leave his mark!

A red, stuffed lobster is his favorite toy, but he also likes ropes (mostly when we play tug with him) and antlers. Plastic toys haven’t interested him much. He recently showed more interest in a pig snout Jim picked for him.

Dutch loves to dance He won’t do it on queue yet, so no opportunities to grab a picture.

When I’m home, Dutch will follow me from room to room, which was more of a problem the first few days, since I was still unpacking, but most days he would give up and crash in a central location.

At first, Dutch didn’t seem to mind his crate, until Jim let him sleep on the bed in the mornings after I go to work. Treats work to get him in, but he does do some whining after. “Shush, Dutch” quiets him most of the time.

So far, he’s very good about all aspects of grooming.

Oh, I know, I just sound like a doting mother… but all this will be important in upcoming posts.

All I know, I could not leave him there…

September 25, 2009

On September 3, 2009, we brought home Dutch, a bone-thin, anxious, dirty, apricot-colored miniature poodle. My partner Jim and I had talked about adopting a dog for over a year, but our previous landlord wanted a $500 deposit. When we moved to our new apartment a few days before meeting Dutch, our new landlord let us know that as long as the dog didn’t bother her or any other tenants, she would forget the $250 deposit. Even though we no longer had a yard, we decided then and there that we would adopt a dog as soon as we settled in.

Most of our boxes weren’t even unpacked when we went to meet “Bailey” at a Vet in San Bernardino. I had browsed Petfinder.com once a week for a year. As soon as I saw his picture, I knew I just had to visit him. After exchanging a few e-mails with Alesa from All Retriever Rescue Foundation (ARRF), we arranged to meet her there. My intention was to meet him, and then decide if we were ready…. Intentions! HA!

The animal hospital was in one of the more sketchy areas of San Bernardino, near the minor-league baseball stadium (“Let’s go Sixers!”). The driveway was in terrible shape, but the inside was very clean. There were a few families there, and an unhygienic man who was not shy about talking to us through his stained teeth. Alesa greeted us warmly and asked us questions about our home environment and what our lives are like. We explained our recent move, and how our schedules were opposite enough that someone would be with the dog most days. Looking after our friends’ dogs let us know what caring for our own dog would entail.

The slovenly man, overhearing us talking about the dog, offered to sell us a crate. Jim and I, both being very polite people, said we would call him if we were interested.

Pulling hard on the assistant to get outside to relieve himself, “Bailey” came out of the medical area and out the front door. When he came back in, he was excited to see Alesa, showing he had formed a bond with her. Unlike his picture on Petfinder, he was almost completely buzzed. After panting excitedly and looking around the waiting area at all the interesting folks, he started to sniff our hands and feet. Once had a chance to sit on our laps, we were all in love. He gently licked our hands as his bony butt dug into my leg. His spine and ribs were clearly visible, and he stank a little, but through his curly bangs shown beautiful, sparkling almond eyes, and I knew that I couldn’t leave there without him. Alesa agreed to let us pay her on Saturday, since I didn’t have my checkbook. I am so grateful to her for letting us take him home that day!

From the medical area loped a brown pit bull wearing an Elizabethan collar, drain tubes and bandages all over its hind quarters, and the man who had offered us the cage stood to meet his dog. The vet commented that the bites were deeper than they would have liked to see as my stomach turned to think of how this dog had come by these injuries. I couldn’t look at this fat, dirty, sloppy, rude man again, and promised Alesa we would not be calling him about the cage. It broke my heart to think that dog was going back home with him. I wish I could have rescued two dogs that day…

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