Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pupdate: What’s up, Doc?

Contentment is a warm corner in the kitchen
"How long have the pups been with us now? A week?" Annie wasn't sure, either. With puppies, some hours seem endless--that first night spent in a crate--while entire days fly by like seconds.

Checking the records, this is Day 14 as I write. TWO weeks? No wonder they look bigger.

In two weeks they have put on five pounds, weighing in at 15 pounds each. Louie the Runt is a runt no more, having caught up the pound he was down on his two siblings.

Look at 'em over there. Hardly ever do you see one without the other two. (Clockwise from the left), that's Frankie, Ella and not-so-little-anymore Louie, curled at my feet by the stove as I built an experimental "Offal Chili" with beef heart and kidney beans (anticipating our next Emily's Legacy Rescue Crew cookoff).
Louis Armstrong, a runt no more!

Now begins the vetting regimen essential for moving these guys up the road to Helping Hounds Dog Rescue and permanent homes. Fecal testing gets done today, soon to be followed by the first round of vaccinations. Then they will be scheduled for spaying and neutering, shots series completed and a final physical exam a few days before boarding the transport for New York.

Meanwhile, their socialization training with other creatures struggles to channel their sheer puppiness into politically correct behaviors. Puppies will be puppies! They sometimes romp on grumpy old Beano's last nerve, the cats still hold the high ground atop the fridge and other structure, and little old Lazlo just wishes they would up and freakin' leave!

Of course, their "greetings" remain explosively enthusiastic, particularly first thing in the morning. Opening their crates is to unleash a 45-pound rush of licking, pawing, gnawing, wagging, yelping storm of pulsating puppies totally consuming any creature within reach followed by mad dashes from room to room to room to insure no one has been overlooked!
Ella Fitzgerald goes down for a nap.

And while our floors are awash in chew toys, wooden chair legs seems to be the trending teething aid of the moment, providing ample opportunity for Spray Bottle Training. Same goes for climbing onto the bed. We're at that point where just seeing the bottle-in-hand is sometimes all that is necessary.

As for toilet duties, let's not speak of the indelicacies just yet. They are, after all, still babies. We can report that "progress is being made."

Question of the Day

Do puppies eating from a single dish rotate clockwise in Australia?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Why We Foster

Marcus Hill
Marcus Hill is one of the coolest guys I've never met, except online through Facebook. Some six years ago, Marcus and his wife Criss got into fostering dogs and the odd cat for the Humane Society of Wichita County shelter. Here is his story about......

                                      WHY WE FOSTER

People ask us how can we foster a dog (or cat), give them all that love and attention and then hand them over to a stranger. My answer is that saving a life is more important than breaking my heart over giving up that foster critter. Here is Romeo's story, from a near death experience to a happy loving home.

Romeo the day he came into the Shelter.
Romeo had been found hiding under a piece of tin roofing out in a pasture. Note the discolored areas around his face (photo right), on his nose and jowls. There were more under his jaw. We figure he had been attacked by a hawk and dropped in that pature.

We didn't know it, but there was an almighty abcess under that dark spot in front of his ear. I took him home to foster not long after this photo was taken.

The day after we got Romeo home that abcess burst, so we bandaged it up and applied a lot of love. He was a happy camper, romping and playing with our big dogs. He thrived and grew and wormed his way into our hearts.

A big boo-boo gets a bandage!
We had Romeo in foster for quite a long time. Hard to believe no one wanted such a sweet pup.

A little one-on-one love.
For a while he played with another foster pup we had named Sarah. Sarah got adopted before Romeo did, and we were happy for Sarah, but very sad for Romeo.

One day we got a call from the shelter. "Bring Romeo out, someone wants to met him." That someone was Sam Dillon.

Here he is (bottom photo) two years later racked out on the couch in his forever home. I don't thing Romeo could have found a better home. He is loved, he has two doggie buddies and a pair of fine people that give him all the love we could have and more.

And us? We have fostered another ninteen dogs since Romeo. The latest one, Speckles, is headed to Helping Hounds Dog Rescue in New York on Monday afternoon. Then we'll get us another foster pup and do it all over again.

Heart broken? Yes, but happy as a clam that another dog is saved from possibly being put down. We can't do this alone, it takes a team. From the person that found him to the person that adopted him in the end. We all had a hand in Romeo's success story. And you can do the same, all you have to do is step up and risk a broken heart.
And look who was waitng for us at the shelter. Sam and his buddy MacKenzie, come to take Romeo to his new home. The meet and greet went well and the clouds parted and the sun shown through. It was a great day all around. — with Sam Dillon.
Going to meet his new family....
Be it ever so humble....

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

From the Notebook, observations on old dogs by an old man

Beano ~ What a codger! His tolerance for puppy shenanigans is pretty low, especially first thing in the morning.
Mr. Beano Miller

We have this ritual, Beano and I. He signs from his crate in the corner; an ear flap, a low whimper. I usually need to pee anyway. I let him out of his lair, and he jumps up in bed. He eventually settles in, hard against my left side, and we go back to chasing dreams.

He stands at my side, a long-suffering Jeeves, awaiting a word with his Wooster. I look down from the keyboard. “Excuse me, sir,” he says, “but if you will notice, the pup on the
right--I believe you call him Frank, sir--is gnawing an onion.”

Since the pups moved in--and I do mean moved in, like congressmen on unkissed babies--Beano and I hardly have our personal time, our stolen moments.


Frank (left), Ella (top) and Louie getting after it!

Frank (Sinatra), Louie (Armstrong) and Ella (Fitzgerald) are sailing through early puppyhood, and a rowdier crew of cuddlebugs you’re not likely to find this side of Rainbow Bridge.

Appetites appear bottomless as they dance Ring Around the Pie Plate while hoovering up Victor (Blue), Select Beef Meal & Brown Rice.

Ella came to us with a slight case of puppy runs, what we affectionately refer to as poopy shoes. We treated--in more ways than one--with Mamma Jan Herzog's Powerful Pumpkin Cure, otherwise known as cooked, canned pumpkin puree. We all know NOT to use canned pumpkin pie filling, don't we.

By the way and since we're on foods, Frank did not eat any of the onion.
Ella, Frank, Louie
Seems you can see them growing daily. Awake, they are going, wrestling, sniffing, digging, harrassing, sassing, running with the Big Dogs or teasing a cat until they stop. Just like that. To nap.

They can't wait to leave the house for a romp in the backyard, even in these bitterly cold mornings. Our resident dogs, Beano and Lazlo, ride herd on them and otherwise show them the ways of The Yard. They're learning boundaries, and who to listen to and take cues from; pack things, I suppose you might call it, things best passed on from dog to dog.

There's more. With puppies there is always more. But this will have to do for now. Dogs need another bag of Victor Blue, and I'm due down at the dealership.

Annie's senior cat Al*B is looking for a penthouse view since the pups moved in.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Morning Update

Editor-in-lap Ella Fitzgerald
It's 4:30a and the Howlers From Hell Trio have been blasting out strident protests in three-part harmony nearly all night long. The muffled crash followed by a dull thud got me on my feet, pulling on clothes.

Sleeping arrangements here at Puppy Pre-K Prep never were meant for a sleep-over camp, y'all. Somebody didn't think this thing through before Somebody said, "Sure! We'll take 'em!"

We gave them there own room with a queen bed to play on and a containment pen on loan from Emily's Legacy Rescue. Somebody forgot that puppies poop everywhere and on everything. Somebody at 4:30 on a Sunday morning got up to check on his dogs and walked into a shit storm!

It could have been worse. The carpet isn't a total loss.

We'll be returning the containment pen to ELR. Ella learned to climb out the first night, and by the morning of the third day she had taught Frank how. Ella apparently gave bigger brother Frankie a dose of her loose stool. These two team-tagged the room, queen bed and all, while Louie the Runt supposedly watched from inside the pen.

Thank God and Jan Herzog we have canned pumpkin puree--NOT canned pie filling--on hand for the di-ree. Park in the middle of the dining room floor to spoon feed 'em. The pre-dawn house is quiet...save for the soft slurps...for the first time in hours.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

They are, after all, newbie puppies

Stinky Cat looks on as puppies confront Master Beano.
Three puppies came to stay at our house. Three rambunctious, curious,
8-week-old newbies with a lot to learn. Big puppies, bigger than our own Lazlo Chiweeny who finds this crew a little intimidating. He thinks he wants to kill them, but he knows he can’t. They are, after all, puppies.

I cut a paper collar off the runt. "A29656204 Male" is written on the green facing in bold black marker. That's how he was known down at the pound. A2 and his siblings were owner-surrenders, dropped off by humans as no longer wanted. Or never wanted in the first place.

Puppies certainly raise hell, don't they? And these guys bring a certain celebrity with them, a growing social media presence trending mainly here, in Wichita Falls circles, and branching out to Flower Mound, toward New York. These guys are local rock stars, and damned if they don't act like they know it!
Louie's green paper collar is marked A29656204 Male.

So why would a couple of old married people, supposedly in their Golden freaking Years, take to foster three energetic, ravenous, "It's ALL about ME!" puppies? I mean, you KNOW why puppies are so damned cute, dont' you? It's Ma Nature's way of keeping all god's creatures from killing 'em. Why, indeed?

Asking to take on these three gave Annie and I naming rights. It's good to be Senior Foster Parents! We knew the names had to be triplets--as in Lion, Tiger and Bear--but not just any old triplet--Larry, Curly, Moe. Plus we had to have two boy names and a girl name. Peter, Paul and Mary! Ultimately, it was Annie's entry that took the vote and stuck. Frank, Louie and Ella.
Ella takes five from a boistrous meet and greet.

Fine voices all and strong, this trio. They will be with us for at least a month, at the end of which time we are expected to turn over three young, healthy, happy dogs; house trained and friendly to other dogs, cats and people. And if you can work in tolerance for human children, so much the better.

Like Betty said, It's gonna be a bumpy ride. You, Dear Reader, are welcome to FOLLOW along for these next five weeks and see how it goes. We'd appreciate your COMMENTS, too.

Anniepie Miller provided the pics. Rumor has it she has VIDEO!
Kimber Farrar-Hopkins, who is Emily's Legacy Rescue, pulled these guys from the lock up at the 11th hour.
Jan Herzog provided transportation and got our guys into the Road to Forever-Love on Wheels program for a fresh beginning through Helping Hounds Dog Rescue.
I'm Jim Miller. I string words together.
Our thanks to all the above and to all of you, Dear Readers, for being a part of what we do.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Is Your Dog Jealous?

Hot enough for ya? It's been a bear down at the dealership with temperatures well into the upper 90s combined with humidity levels beyond miserable. It's the kind of summer DOG days that saps one's energy, not to mention motivation. These dog days of 2014 are my excuse for not having fired up this blog before now.

But a couple of newsy items crossed my cell phone the other day. One had to do with a pioneering project out of Emory University in Atlanta that is using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans on dogs for the first time to map dogs brain activity. The other study out of the University of California, San Diego, considered whether or not dogs exhibit jealousy when confronted with a rival.

Dogs are smart. That's a given, right? I mean, they are WAY better at reading body languages--human as well as other animals--than people are. They alert us to dangers before we are aware a threat is imminent, they know from three rooms away when the fridge is opened, and they know when the outside world has kicked us in the teeth as soon as we walk through the door.

Dogs are smart. But just how smart? What exactly does canine intelligence look like, and how does it operate?
Dropping in unannounced is all a part of a day's work for Navy
 SEALs and their expertly trained war dogs.

Gregory Berns, Distinguished Professor of Economics and director of Emory’s Center for Neuropolicy, was inspired by Cairo, the Belgian Malinois, member of Seal Team Six who aided in the execution of Osama bin Laden, to learn how dogs "think". Berns was astonished that a dog could learn to be hurled from a perfectly good airplane at 30,000 feet, encased in pounds of gear, strapped to his handler's chest, and seemingly enjoy the experience! Thus was Berns' "Dog Project" launched.

Follow the above link to learn more about the project, but I do want to add that no dog was 'forced' nor even coerced into a fMRI scanner. The initial step in the project was to train dogs through positive reinforcement to willingly enter the scanner and place their heads on a chin rest. Each test subject was unrestrained, free to leave the scanner at any time and provided with ear protection against the high decibels generated inside the fMRI.

For readers wanting to learn more about Berns' ground-breaking work on mapping neuroactivity in dogs, I recommend his book How Dogs Love Us.

Dogs and the green-eyed monster

Anyone who has more than one dog at home no doubt has seen behavior that certainly appears to be jealousy. Give attention specifically to one dog and here comes the other to nudge and paw at you for her share, right? Annie and I not only have experienced apparent jealousy in both Beano and Lazlo, it has exhibited in every single dog we have fostered.

But is it really what we humans know as jealousy? Well, the short answer is, yes, it is.

Obvious to anyone who lives or has lived with dogs, right? However, the issue apparently has been one of some controversy among scientific circles. There is, it seems, one or more camps who hold to the notion that jealousy requires levels of cognition not attainable by mere dogs; i.e., human bias and hubris when it comes to "lower" animals is alive and well, even among the scientific sets.

So UC San Diego psychology professor Christine Harris and former honors student Caroline Prouvost set out to determine if dogs do indeed experience jealousy as we humans know it. 
The study enlisted households with dogs willing to be video taped while interacting with their respective dog companions, with a plush puppy robot, with a plastic Jack-O-Lantern pail and while reading a book.

The plastic pails and the books did not show much response from the dogs in question. Nearly eight out of ten dogs, however, definitely reacted to the animatronic toy dog with jealous behavior. Most even went so far as to sniff the toy dog's butt! 

Again, nothing we who live with dogs did not already know, but at least now our dogs' jealous fits are scientifically grounded. Further reading on this study may be found here.

"Bring him home."

In closing, I want to commend to you an NPR report, Advocates Say Military Dogs Aren't Pets — They're Veterans

When U.S. forces left Vietnam untold numbers of American war dogs were left "in country" to fend for themselves. President Bill Clinton passed legislation that says our war dogs "may" be brought back stateside when their foreign duties are finished. Earlier this week a group of former canine combat vets and their advocates went to Capital Hill, asking that the law be amended from "may be brought home" to WILL be brought home.

America's military forces pride themselves on "No one left behind." This policy needs to apply to our canine veterans, as well as extending veterans' benefits to surviving combat dogs. If you agree, please write or call your representatives in Congress and ask them to recognize our canine heroes as fully deserving veterans.

Thank you on behalf of Cairo and all his surviving brothers and sisters in arms. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Introducing the 'New' Dog

[Note: We're a little behind on our publishing schedule. Please bear with us as we play catch-up!]

Rowdy checking out the back patch.
Rowdy, a Chihuahua-Italian greyhound mix (Annie suspects), checked in at Lazlo & the Bean's Bed & Barkfest. Strangest-looking little dog you'd ever hope to meet.
I see clearly now what Kimber down at the shelter meant when she described him to me as a "deer-legged Chihuahua"!

Like nine (is it, now?) guests before him, Rowdy is a rescue on the Rescue Road to Forever. He had to leave the foster he was with rather abruptly -- for reasons beyond his control -- so Rowdy will be with us until Dog Runner’s next trip, Monday, to Helping Hounds Dog Rescue in Dewitt, NY.

Annie: We decided that Rowdy looks a lot like a little meerkat and is so unlike his name. He's sweet, mellow and very affectionate. He has a habit of snuggling in and laying his head on your arm or chest. He is absolutely endearing. Beano and Lazlo took to him right away, as did Jim and I. Some family will be very lucky to have him.

[Actually, Rowdy left last Monday and arrived in Dewitt Friday. At last report yesterday, he is winning hearts and minds among the good folks at HHDR.]

Our regular reader knows we have two home dogs, Beano and Lazlo. Laz was a foster fail who came to stay a couple of months ago. Beano, the unchallenged alpha, has been with us some five years now.  Each time we bring home a new foster, like Rowdy, there are those initial moments of apprehension, watching to see whether or not Beano will approve.

Introductions are made in our backyard with the new dog on lead. Beano, of course, establishes up front that this is his turf. When new guy shows proper submission, Beano immediately turns curious, and the round robin sniffing begins!

Annie: I have to say, that Beano has relaxed considerably since we adopted Lazlo. He has relinquished most of his toys - even his favorite night-night buddy - to his little brother. He accepted Rowdy and CJ with very little ado. Maybe he's just adjusting to the fact that every few weeks a new dog appears for a while and then, with little fanfare, is gone again. I so wish I knew what went on in their minds!

I think Lazlo is a Chiweenie (Chihuahua/Dachshund) mix and, very active (Beano is actually losing weight trying to keep up with this little firecracker!) and single-minded. However, he does think of himself as top dog and doesn't like sharing - and that goes for his humans, as well. For instance, if Beano is curled up in my lap, Lazlo will come and place himself higher so that, eventually, Beano will relocate. Laz gets away with it because everyone, including the other animals, loves him. What can I say? Rowdy and CJ learned quickly that 10pm, when Beano and Laz are sent to bed, was their time for individual cuddling with us.

[Whew! We now return you to those thrilling days of What's Happenin' Now!]

"Can we go?"

This picture remains the same, day in and day out. I see it every time I pull into our drive when the dogs are out. Only the dogs change as fosters come and go along the Rescue Road. That's our current foster, C.J. (right above) who's been with us about a week now. Of all the chihuahua-mixes to come through here, C.J. is the most chihuahua-ish -- hyper, skittish, animated, and more than a little demanding at times.

Annie: I am constantly amazed at how easy it is to fall in love with each of the fosters we've had. Regardless of personality, there is something about each and every one that captivates me EVERY time! CJ is no exception. He is quieter that most, but he seems to have had more training. He's very agreeable, not demanding - although I think he'd like it a lot if Lazlo would allow him more alone cuddle time with the humans!

C.J.'s first couple of days were Beano and Lazlo laying down their rules for the patch. Not that Lazlo's that disciplined. It's just that as the Little Brother, he feels compelled to back up Beano's dictates. By day three C.J. was easing into the mix, a new trio testing and toying with one another.

Fostering truly is a family affair!

C.J. is good on inside skills save taking to his crate, the focus of this week's training. He will get on just fine in New York.


Jim & Sage
 In closing, let's give a Texas-sized THANK YOU and SHOUT OUT to Joan Nickum. She knows who she is, and some of you regular readers may, too. Joan made it possible for Annie and I to participate in our first rescue relay yesterday, driving Sage, a beautiful young Schnauzer. Our leg was from Wichita Falls to Childress, Texas (Sage will eventually land in Phoenix, Arizona). Truth be told, Annie and I have lusted after Dog Runner's gig ever since we first heard about Dave and Elaine. What could be better than road tripping with dogs!

Sage, crated and ready to start the journey to Childress, Texas