More Happy Tail Updates!

Adele, my very first foster dog, has been in her forever home for almost two years now!  She found a wonderful forever mom who adores her and puts up with all her crazy issues!  Adele has also gone on to be a foster sister to other puppies in need.  She has grown into a beautiful dog.  I love seeing how much she’s beefed up since I pulled her out of ACCT, a scrawny mess of a dog.  So here she is, Adelle-

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Look at that!

Leroy and I have been working on a command for quite some time.  Sometimes I thought, “Hey, he got it!”.  But most of the time, I felt like he had no clue what it meant.  This command is, “Look at that”.  I am asking Leroy to look for what I’m pointing at or something exciting, and then look back at me.  Jackpot- reward- good boy!  The problem is that what I’m asking him to look at is exciting.  So there may be a cat, bird, screaming tiny human, another dog ect.  And when Leroy sees these things, he goes into crazy dog mode.  We had done a few solid Look at that’s in the past, but it was not very reliable.  Leroy is better at working on this command inside and looking out the back door at the cat.  But once we are outside, things are harder.  However, today we had a wonderful walk!  And it was a warm-spring-fever day with lots of activity around the neighborhood.  GO LEROY!  Leroy is also at week 4 on Prozac, and I think I’m starting to notice subtle differences.  We’ve also been working our butts off with training.  So it’s hard to say what is causing the progress.  But I’d guess a combination of both.

So today on our walk, we had a lot of our “good stuff” training rewards- specifically, a huge chunk of the food roll.    Here is the tally of our walk and what we “failed” or reacted poorly at, and what we “passed” and did a wonderful “look at that” followed by a great “look back at mommy and get tons of food”.

Screaming child #1- Fail.  But just a minor fail.  Leroy doesn’t like screaming tiny humans.  It freaks him out.  He had a minor reactive moment, but we were able to keep it together and walk away in the other direction.

Screaming child # 2 and 3- Pass.  There are a group of kids that play in the culdesac by my apartment.  Bouncing balls and a bike, plus some noise- at a further distance, we passed!

Randomly scattered adult humans- Pass.  Usually Leroy does keep it together when we’re around people.  But if he’s especially worked up or if it’s dark, he can react poorly.  But today we walked around and did great.

Two yappy dogs in their fenced in yard- Pass!  This was a close call, because man were they yappy.  But he sat, did a “Look at that”.  Then we got a little closer and did another “Look at that”.  At this point they had noticed us and started wailing.  But Leroy still looked back at me for a hunk of food- good boy!  Then we hurried past their home.  Not walking wonderfully on the leash, but not freaking out either!

Homeless man in a wheelchair- Pass.  Leroy’s eyes lingered on this for a beat too long.  But he did in fact look back at me with no poor reaction!

Slow moving pack of cats- PASS.  This is huge, huge, for Leroy.  He’s had a few unpleasant run ins with the feline species, and I’ve declared him as “Not good with cats.”  He feels the same way about them, as they do him (see picture).  Luckily, he’s never done any damage!  But we keep them apart anyway 🙂   Normally he would totally loose his cool over cats, especially when they’re moving.  But we saw three sauntering kitties across the street.  And Leroy did an excellent “Look at that”!  He also did great when we saw a sitting kitty who was in a yard we walked pass.

i gotz beaded up bai a kitty

Skateboard- Fail.  Leroy hates the skateboards.  He looked at it, and then he tried to eat it.  Hmpm.  Too much, too soon!

Garbage bags x9- Pass.  It seems like the whole neighborhood did spring cleaning and had their trash out early.  There wasn’t much lunging for smells and crumbs of garbage.  And their also wasn’t any- “Moving plastic bag?!- Attack!”, which has happened in the past.  So very good!

i iz ready fo me yumz yum.

i iz ready fo me yumz yum.

Thanks again to our trainer Michaela at Opportunity Barks!  And good job Leroy 🙂  We will keep working on the “Look at that” command, because it seems to be a great tool to have mastered!

 

If you have any questions about Tofu, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com

Sponsor me here!- 5k Race to Rescue

Reactive Rover Graduate

Well, we did it.  We completed our Reactive Rover course.  3 more credits added to Leroy’s training transcript.  Despite all his douchebaggery “reactive-ness” (more on that later), it was a wonderful class and we both learned a lot!  None of the dogs in the class were “cured”, but they all made great progress and worked very hard!  The owners learned about management, disengagement cues, calming signals, threshold, body language, and coping mechanisms. Reactive dogs come with a lifetime of training, management, positive social interactions  and boundaries.  It is an ongoing process.

Now where to start?!  Let’s get some of Leroy’s low points out of the way.

I keep telling myself that Leroy made progress and improved throughout the course. I know he did.  However, it’s very easy to fixate on the negative, embarrassing, overwhelming moments that we went through every single week.  Boy does this dog know how to look like an arse!  So here are some of our low points:

1.  Leroy tried to eat the stuffed demo dog.  Twice.

Photo by Opportunity Barks Behavior & Training

Photo by Opportunity Barks

Poor, innocent, stuffed Fluffy.  You fooled my dog- yes.  But you did not fool me!  While most dogs gave a realistic depiction of how they would react to seeing a real dog,  Leroy went above and beyond. 🙂  He of course threw his typical “reactive dog” fit, which includes a ton of  lunging, whining,  stress panting, and barking.  He finished up by charging Fluffy, aggressively smelling his butt (albeit this part is technically ‘good manners’, though not in the rude way he approached), and forcefully knocking him over, leaving him flopped and dead.  Rest In Peace Fluffy.

Oh wait, he was stuffed.  PHEEWWW!  Oh yes, and this happened twice (the only two times we approached Fluffy).  Talk about embarrassing- Keep it together, Leroy!

2.  Leroy went over threshold at least once every week (OK, probably more than once).  Every week during our first exercise, Leroy would “loose it” and go over threshold.  My 55 pound train-wreck of a pit bull would do his “over-the-threshold” things- screaming, barking, lunging, whining, more lunging.  I’ll say it again, embarrassing!

3. Leroy was vocal, vocal, vocal.  I am that parent in the grocery store with a child that is just screaming, and screaming, and crying, and screaming.  And I’m just looking at the fruit in the produce section.  I’m that girl.  (Note to self- abstinence is key).  Leroy really felt the need to vocalize about everything.  People are moving?  We’re in a new place?  We heard a dog?  We are bored? VOCALIZE, about everything!

4. Leroy tried to eat a few of our fellow classmates.  Mainly, the mini doxie, Theo.  I will give him a tiny, tiny pass.  Leroy never denies having a super high prey drive.  He likes birds, OK?  The Doxie probably just looked squirrel-like for a second there 😉  (Note- there were no dog-dog interactions in this class.  Mr. Doxie was at a safe distance at all times, usually across the room and behind five barriers)  We also had a moment with Serious the Husky mix, but that was a very challenging activity involving proximity and movement for both dogs.  Too much, too soon boys.  All considered, these were only mildly embarrassing.

So the Worst Puppy is at it again! However, I did say that we improved and learned a lot.  And we did!  Let’s move on from all those negative points and talk about the good.  *shakes off* <- I learned that move from Leroy.  After we do a stressful activity, he has to shake it off.  This helps to calm him.  Hooray for calming signals!  Let’s take a quick time-out for a cute diagram of dog body language that I found!

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So since we are calm and ready, let’s move on to the high points!:

1. Leroy has three “go to” calming signals.  And as a high anxiety dog, he does these a lot.  He wants to be calm!  So for the whole Reactive Rover class, I watched him (and rewarded) his Head Turn.  This was especially important because after Leroy reacted at another dog, he would eventually give a very clear Hear Turn.  This was his signal that he was trying to calm himself and wanted to leave the situation!  After all that hoopla, he was ready to leave- Excellent!  Typically after we backed away from the situation, he would Shake Off.  Sadly this is not on the adorable diagram.  But it is a calming signal nonetheless. (Or it is a calming signal to my knowledge- I am not a professional!)  His third calming signal is slightly debatable.  It would be the I’ll Be No Threat, where the dog has his back to the stressor.  Leroy is food motivated.  Like, motivated!  So it’s possible that he was doing a combination of “I’ll Be No Threat” and “Mom, give me food”.  Either way, he got to practice looking at the food treat pouch me instead of the other dogs.  We learned things!!

Photo by Opportunity Barks

Photo by Opportunity Barks

2. Leroy started to “come down” faster, after going over threshold.  During the weeks at the beginning of Reactive Rover, Leroy would go over threshold and stay there for a bit (so to speak).  We often had to leave the room (on top of already being behind barriers) to help him relax and focus again.  He was pink as a Piglet from stress, panting, vocalizing ect.  But every week it seemed to take him a little less time to “get his shit together”.  Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t laying quietly on his side for our relaxation exercises or prancing next to Mr. Doxie.  It was mild, but there was improvement.

3.  Leroy was less pink!  Leroy is a white pooch, and he basically turns pink when he’s stressed.  Pink eyes, ears, tongue, and skin- but there was a little less of that every week.  Possibly the earliest sign of Prozac starting to work, or a combination of going to the same place for the 5th+ time, or picking up on the routine and training- Leroy was not quite the Pink Piglet that he normally is in a stressful environment.  Whoop whoop!

4.  Leroy is a smart, focused, food motivated pup.  Gosh, when he is looking at a treat, he is a focused dog.  Sometimes when we’re in a new place, he gets so stressed that he doesn’t eat.  But I bring the good stuff to class, and he has always been happy to eat and focus to the best of his ability in the class setting.  When he is focused, he can do anything!  Sit, down, watch me, clumsily walk over agility markers, look at that, say hi, leave it (mostly), find it, walk nicely.  When there are excessive food rewards and we’re under threshold, Leroy is focused and can work very nicely!  Even with some minor distractions.  🙂  Good boy Leroy.

Photo by Opportunity Barks

Photo by Opportunity Barks

Stay tuned for more updates about what we learned and practiced in the class and what our next training activity will be.  Plus, a birthday this month!

If you have any questions about Tofu, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com

Sponsor me here- Donate

Weigh In Winners!

 

 

Well here they are, with a combined weight of 105.3
Leroy and Tofu!!

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That’s a lot of weight on one lap 🙂

After a slight diet over the past month to regain his figure, Leroy checks in at 55.2 pounds.  The closest guess was “Rebelwerewolf“!

And Tofu, who has gained some needed weight since arriving to me, is at 50.1.  Two people guessed 50 so they will have to tie this one. Leigh Siegfried and also Rebelwerewolf again!  Congrats and thanks for playing 🙂

Do you want to take me home?

Do you want to take me home?

 

If you have any questions about Tofu, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com

Sponsor me here- Donate

 

Top Ten!

One of my favorite things about being a Foster Mom is learning fun and wonderful things about my foster dog, and then sharing them with potential adopters!  Each foster dog is different with special quirks, likes, and dislikes.  One of the huge benefits of adopting a dog from a rescue rather than a shelter is that we (or any decent rescue) are able to give you SO much information about your potential new family member.  Imagine knowing what you’re getting yourself into, how well trained this dog is, if she has separation anxiety, if she is picky about her food; all before bringing her home!  The reality is that shelters can not always gather solid information about a dog because of the high stress environment.  But alas!  In a foster home, we can get a true read of an individual dog and assess what home he or she would do best in!  So here are the top ten reasons to adopt Tofu 🙂

1.  Happy!-  Tofu is seriously a joyful dog.  I spent ten solid minutes laughing at her yesterday when I picked up a bandanna.  The joy on her face was amazing!  Tofu gets antlers, nylabones, rope toys, balls ect.  None of these excite her in that special “happy dog” way.  But something ridiculous goes through her mind when she sees a bandanna, leash, collar, or scarf.  The wiggling!  Oh the wiggling.  I have no words.  We experience a similar reaction every morning when she is let out of her crate.  Every morning there are smiles, wiggles, happy dancing, joy, more wiggles.  She is a “morning person”.  But more than that, she’s a “life person”.

2. Genuine–  I wrote about Tofu’s past, how she got here, and what her life was like pre-rescue.  But I’ve come to realize that her past has given her a special gift.  She is genuine.  She lets you know how she is feelings and wants to express it to the world.  This is often experienced through tail wags, lap sitting, kisses on your face, and cuddle sessions.  However, she also was genuine about her initial feelings towards Leroy, and will politely know when he’s making her uncomfortable.  Way back when we were crate/rotating, she showed us her snarl teeth and said, “Hey, I’m not sure about him just yet.  Give me time.”  So we gave her time.  But Tofu is especially genuine in her reactions towards other people.  She wears her heart on her sleeve.  When it’s time to have a love fest- you’ll know it.  She’ll be whole-heatedly loving you to pieces.

3. Special–  Well of course, she’s deaf and has slight vision impairment in one eye.  But that’s not what I mean.  Tofu is special.  Something about her just makes you feel like you can accomplish more, dream more, give more.  Tofu makes you feel like the world is in your reach, and your only decision is to decide what you want to achieve.  She is inspiring.  She looks at you and her eyes say, “Just go for it.  I have faith in you.”

4. Home Ready– Most dogs who are living in a foster home will have this in common.  But none the less, it’s worth saying.  Tofu is ready for you.  She is crate trained, housebroken, knows basic commands, knows how to wait for her dinner in her crate, knows how to cuddle with her humans.  She gets it.  I thought it would take longer, since she was living outside, but she’s smart and ready for this life.

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5. Mature–  Dogs typically become “mature” around three years old.  Some of the issue’s I’m having with Leroy seem to have escalated in the past year,  but he is simply coming into his maturity.  Tofu however, is a ripe three years old.  She has likely reached her maturity, so “what you see is what you get”.  There will be little change down the road.  Of course none of this is a guarantee.  But her personality and core self is thought to be pretty set at this age.

6. Perfect Energy Level–  It may seem hard to define the “perfect energy level”.  However, I have a feeling that Tofu falls in the ideal category.  If you want to run, or hike, or even do some agility work, she will be ready with bells on!  If you want to walk or stroll casually, she would be happy to join you.  If you want to play with a toy, oh what fun!  And if you want to cuddle, well as long as there is room by your side.  I do think that Tofu would be a good agility dog.  I don’t know anything  much about this, but she has some serious jump in her step.  So I’d bet she’d figure the rest out 😉  But no matter how spunky your home is,  I would bet she’d do just fine.

7. Cute– Seriously, she’s cute as a button.  Better than that, she’s a Tofutti Cuttie! (Tofu is not endorsed by Tofutti in any way.  It would be cool though.)  But I mean her face!  Have you seen her?  Just look.  Ok.  This one is on you- look at the cute!

I iz cute!

I iz cute!

8. Cuddly– This is something that is very important to me.  Although it confuses me, I understand that not everyone wants a dog that will lick their face, sit on their lap, cuddle during nap time, and be all around cuddly.  But Tofu, she likes those things.  She can hang out independently or nap with Leroy at times.  But she loves being a cuddle bug.  And I would want her future family to love that about her.

9. Good– Tofu is a good dog.  She is not a perfect dog.  But she is learning and she tries very hard.  She wants do the right thing to make her humans happy.  She wants to please.  She wants to kiss you when you’re sad and sit politely while you’re on the phone.  She wants to wait for her dinner, no matter how hard and exciting it is.  She tries not to eat her toys, because I tell her “No” (but they taste so delicious!).  She wants to help you eat your dinner and do all the good things she can to make you happy.  She wants to be a good girl.

10. Adoptable!–  The best thing about Tofu is that she’s looking for you- her forever family!  She is waiting and ready for that right person to fall in love and say those special words.- “You will be with me for the rest of your days.  Your troubles are now my troubles.  I will be here for you, and never leave you.  I promise- I will never leave you.  You are not ‘homeless’ anymore.  You are mine.  And I am yours.”

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If you have any questions about Tofu, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com

Sponsor me here- Donate

People Pleaser with Excellent Manners!

Tofu has an amazing quality that I would like to share with everyone!  She is a people-pleaser 🙂  She seems to adore every person that she meets at an excited and genuine level of “omg uu iz mai bef friend evaaa!”  This is dog-speak for, “Are you my forever family?? I LOVE you.”  My family of course gets to meet all of these dogs and they form opinions on them.  Our brother Robert came by recently to say  “Hi” to the pups.  While Leroy was a bit overrun with excitement, Tofu did a much better job of keeping her ‘four on the floor’.  He said, “She seems pretty cool”.  Which is a very good compliment coming from brother Robert 😉

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Tofu and her new friend, Steven

My brother Steven was hanging out with Tofu tonight and he said, “I would adopt a dog like her”.  Now that is a compliment! 🙂  We then talked about her inherent manners and what a good, sweet, girl she is.  In taking a chained, throw-away, breeder dog, I was expecting a lot more work when it came to household manners and daily activities.  She has picked everything up super quickly!  (She does fall up the steps sometimes from sheer excitement though lol)

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Tofu has some serious jump in her step, especially when she seems some type interesting prey.  She can probably scale a 5 foot fence and might really excellent at agility training.  So she may let out one big Tigger jump when she’s super excited.  But she almost never puts her paws on anyone, and she will quickly regroup to her happy dancing and wiggling on the floor.  My mom was also very impressed at her good greeting manners.  She is very happy to meet anyone who will pay attention to her, but she shows her love and excitement through tail whippings, butt wigglings, and smiles. 🙂

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Tofu was also happy to practice her Sits for some yummy biscuits! She did very well ‘listening’ to hand signals from a new friend.  All in all, I’ve been very impressed with her home-ready manners and enthusiasm for strangers.  Now all she needs is the home! ❤

"Sit" hand signal

“Sit” hand signal

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If you have any questions about Tofu, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com

Things That People Don’t Like to Talk About- I Have a Dog with Issues

A few months ago, I talked about some of Leroy’s flaws and the difficulty that presented when I went on a vacation.  While he is of course the apple of my eye, he is also the most challenging dog I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.  I am a dog trainer at PetSmart and have had enough fosters and short term guests to know- Leroy is not your average dog.  He excels at being the Worst Dog at Puppy School; but he typically is one of the smartest and often knows the most commands.  About a year ago, we started training class at Opportunity Barks.  We did one day of Real World Manners, but our amazing trainer Michaela was smart enough to know that Leroy had the whole curriculum mastered.  While it was hard for him to be in a new place around strange dogs, he buzzed past the Watch Me’s and Down’s with ease.  She suggested that we move into a Self Control class to work on well, self control.  He was, as I’ve become used to, the Worst Puppy in school.  But we enjoyed the class and learned a lot.  A year later, we are enrolled in Reactive Rover.  I had a brief moment of excitement- “HEY!  These are all of the Worst Puppies in school!  It’s a class just for them!  Maybe my baby Le Le won’t look like a ‘crazy Pit Bull’.  They will understand!”  Well,  my boy is still the Worst Puppy. 😦  He has epic meltdowns that involve whining, crying, barking, and lunging.  He did this all in Reactive Rover on Week 1, when he was shown the stuffed decoy dog.  Yes- stuffed.

And yes- this is the same dog that I call a “pretty gosh darn excellent foster brother”.  So how does it all fit together? How can he be so patient with fosters but so terrible with an innocent stuffed dog?  How can he be so good at his Sit Stays, but so bad at “keeping his shit together”?!  Well.. I’m going to get to the bottom of it all!

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The first thing that I want to explain is a fancy word called “threshold”.  When Leroy is trying to attack a stuffed animal- barking, whining, lunging- he is over his threshold.  I have been reading about this fancy word and I decided to email our expert trainer, Michaela, because I was a bit confused.  Here is her wonderful insight!

“Threshold” is used to differentiate between the state in which your dog can still “think” and respond vs. when arousal level makes it impossible for them to be responsive.  Neurologically, your dog is using a part of the brain and nervous system that goes with the basic “fight-flight-freeze” survival instinct.  If you imagine yourself, say, responding to a robber in your home, your body goes into survival mode (e.g. pumping adrenaline, etc) and relies heavily on action-not thought.  It’s a more primitive bodily reaction that is important to survival but which actually suppresses the decision making part of the brain.
As a dog’s arousal level rises, you see changes like muscle tension, ear and tail position changes, body weight forward, faster breathing, brief “stillness”, staring and targeting, etc…Once a dog goes “over-threshold”, he’s having a full barking-lunging meltdown, acting purely on survival instinct. Little can be learned in this highly adrenalized state because the “higher thinking” part of the brain is suppressed for optimal survival mode.  So learning must be done sub-threshold (that is, when arousal levels are low to moderate, but not over-the-top).
So, yes, Leroy is challenging because he goes over-threshold very quickly, once outside.  However, he’s making great progress at being able to “come down” more quickly in classes.  I hope this helps a bit!
So there you have it!  Threshold is like ‘fight or flight panic’.  It’s all just too much stress and stimulation for my little Pudding Face to handle.  Therefore he has his special meltdowns and looks like an arse.  😉 Another reason that Leroy has so much trouble doing things outside of his comfort zone is because of his past.  Leroy was a lawn ornament.  He was chained.  We can only speculate on how long and how severe his circumstances were, but we do know that he was found with the heavy burden of his past life.

When he was found, the chain was wrapped around his neck and padlocked closed.

Because of his past as a chained dog, Leroy struggles with something called “Leash Reactivity”.  This is actually a pretty common problem among dogs, but especially an issue with dogs that lived with the long term frustration of being at ‘the end of their chain’ every  day.  Imagine for a moment that you are given an 5 foot  radius to live in.  Then picture a sweet smelling flower, or exciting squirrel, or happy human face- standing right past that boundary.  I would not enjoy that.  So when Leroy is on his leash and I’m not letting him go any further, he feels severe frustration and aggression.  If I wanted to use my imagination a bit more, I would say that maybe his childhood puppyhood memories of a cold lonely yard come flooding back.  And he remembers how terrible it was to be stuck in one place without love or freedom or stuffed kongs.  My point is, I would be unhappy about being on a leash too.

Tofu was also a chained dog.

(pre-rescue) Tofu was also a chained dog

I was worried that Leroy’s general stress level and anxiety was one of the main reasons he was not making any progress.  So I talked to Michaela and she agreed that it was time to see a Veterinarian Behaviorist.  Most trainers or behaviorists that I’ve talked to seem to think that medication is very over-prescribed, and often used by people who are lazy not committed to training.  However, Michaela said that she supported my decision and hoped that it would help.  As it sounds, a vet behaviorist is someone who is both a certified behaviorist and trainer, and a fully registered vet.  The best of both worlds!  So we went to Dr. Reisner for a professional opinion.  Here is Leroy’s list of issues, written by a professional.

DIAGNOSIS:

  1. Generalized anxiety
  2. Resource-guarding
  3. Reactivity/impulsivity
  4. Fear-related aggression
  5. Tentative: Predatory behavior

Holy Issues! I knew Leroy was the Worst Puppy, but gosh.  Dr. Reisner said that she was very impressed with me and Leroy.  We are a good team.  He was a bit of a nut case during our consult (as expected, because it was a new place).  But he was a good boy and listened to my commands and hand signals while I talked to the doctor.  At one point I gave him the hand signal for Quiet- putting my finger to my lips (Leroy was whining like a baby about being in a strange office and not getting enough attention from the doctor).  Dr. Reisner said, “Does he know what that means?”  Leroy was trying very hard to listen to me because I had my trusty treat pouch, and he was sitting silently waiting for his reward.  I thought, “How silly, why would I be doing it if he didn’t know what it means!”  But apparently he proved to her that he is a very smart puppy, even though he was also being the Worst Puppy.

So what happens next?  Dr. Reisner decided that Leroy is in fact a good candidate for medication.  He is currently on 20mg a day of Prozac to help manage his generalized anxiety.  Prozac takes 4-6 weeks to become effective, so we haven’t seen any changes yet.  But I’m keeping a close eye on him for side effects or positive changes. Dr. Reisner also seemed to think that our training skills were really great- not that there isn’t always room for improvement.  This made me proud of my boy but also sad, as he was flopping around the exam room like a stressed and anxious fish out of water.  He was unhappy, as he usually is when we do something new.  He did not enjoy this or find it a fun adventure.  He was stressed.

Above all, I want my dog to be happy.  If he doesn’t like new places or new people or new anything, that’s OK with me.  If he can never happily go on a walk without thinking that the world is out to get him, then we won’t go on walks.  He can stay with me in his “happy place”, also known as my bedroom.  But at the end of the day, I want to know that I gave it my all.  I want to say that “Yes, I have a dog with issues.  I did my best to work through them and make him more comfortable in the big scary world we live in.  I accept him and understand his issues.  And I love him anyway.”

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A big *thank you* to Michaela at Opportunity Barks and Dr. Reisner for all the help and support ❤

Happy Tears and New Beginnings

Jora  was a very special foster dog.  The last time I saw her I was sad weepy nostalgic pathetic emotional a complete wreck.  I had to admit to myself, I adore this dog.  She wiggled into my home despite my “no puppies allowed” rule.  And truly, she grew up with me.  Jora had more meet and greets than any other dog, yet none ever panned out into the right fit for her. She was looked over since she was a scrappy pup of only four months old.  After a handful of meet and greets, a two hour adoption, and a trial adoptive home that decided not to keep her; I was stunned time and time again that these people did not see what I saw.  I was heartbroken that she didn’t have ‘her people’- the ones that would love her as much as I do, but more.  I knew she would find them, but I was becoming impatient, confused, torn, and sad for her.  I wanted to yell to the world, “This dog is amazing and you’re missing out!  It’s your LOSS!”  But I kept it in and tried to be patient.  The hardest part, was loving her so much.  I wanted her to feel the difference between foster love, and forever love.  I wanted someone to look into her eyes and say, “You will be with me for the rest of your days.  Your troubles are now my troubles.  I will be here for you, and never leave you.  I promise- I will never leave you.  You are not ‘homeless’ anymore.  You are mine.  And I am yours.”   And sometimes, I wanted to be the one to say that to her.

This is the lifelong struggle of a foster mom.  I battle with this every time I allow a dog to feel love, often times their first love, but I call it temporary.  Sometimes it hurts more than others.  And with Jora, I just felt that she was so deserving and ready.  I wanted her to be home.

My dad was quite smitten by her as well.  To paraphrase very accurately quote him, “Jora, we’re not allowing any more living things in this house.  None!  But if we were, I would let you stay.”  Leroy and Jora had an amazing bond as well.  She followed him around, played, snuggled, learned, and loved.  And for as amazingly tolerant as Leroy was with all of her puppy antics and instance on playing for 10 hours every day, he really loved her right back.

We lub when mom stays home from skool to write da tesis papers.

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But as it always happens with patience and a deserving dog, we got an email for Jora.  And this one was the one. ❤  Yes, I am happy to announce that Jora has finally found her forever home.  One of the most special dogs that I’ve ever known is officially adopted.  And on top of that, I think that she finally found the most perfect home that will love and appreciate her for all she has to offer.  When you have an adoption where everything just clicks, it’s as if the two souls were just waiting to find each other until the right moment in time.

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First family photo 🙂

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Jora, now Bella ❤

Congratulations Jora, you finally got your turn. I will love you forever my little Peanut ♥

Squeaky Clean

Tofu got her first bath while she’s been with me!  And the results are in- she passed the “Good Bather” test.  In order to appreciate a Good Bather, one must first have adopted a holy terror of bathers. 😉  I’m not talking, “throws-a-tiny-fit-but-then-accepts-the-bath”.  I don’t mean, “shakes-off-mid-bath-and-jumps-out-of-the-tub” or even “runs-away-hides-and-panics-before-bath-time”.  I’m talking “55-pound-terror-clawing-your-body-and-hauling-ass-out-of-the-tub-as-many-times-as-possible”.  This would of course be my one and only, Leroy.  And if you haven’t noticed, he’s white.  We use treats, wet food, special happy voice, water off, whatever it takes… He is still a terror to wash.  I’m not going to lie- it involves some full body headlocks.

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Pre-bath panic and shifty eyes

But my point!  It is not a “little thing” to know that your future newly adopted dog (Tofu) is not only wonderful in all of the typical “amazing dog” ways; but that on top of this she just so happens to be great in the bath tub.  Do not take this piece of information lightly.  It is a big deal.  When weighing your options on which dog to adopt; always go with the Good Bather dog.  It will be a decision you do not regret 🙂

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“Iz we dun yez?”

 

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Such a good girl!

 

And now I get to cuddle up with two green-tea smelling dogs that have been temporarily cleansed of dirt and other grossness.  (Until Leroy starts crying by the door because he wants to run in the dirt- Oh wait, that’s right now 😉 ).  But still- worth the battle. 🙂

All done :)

All done 🙂

 

If you have any questions about Tofu, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com

 

 

Doggie Friends

From what we know about Tofu’s past, we can pretty easily assume that she hasn’t had many doggie friends.  She has been with me for over a month, and she has gained a great deal of trust in both me and Leroy.  While they haven’t engaged in joyful and comfortable play just yet, Leroy and Tofu are bonding and making progress every day.

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Tofu has done a few little play moves, but then quickly becomes nervous when Leroy gets excited and tries to engage.  It is very heartbreaking to see her struggle.  I think about how many days, weeks, or years that she spent outside and alone.  She just needs time to learn and trust.  Leroy and I are willing to give her those things. I am confident that she will play and have doggy friends in her future.

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And a shout out to my main man Leroy- While he is generally a huge pain in the doggy butt, he has learned to respect Tofu’s boundaries and take it easy on her.  Meaning there has been no face humping (which Jora happily put up with). 😉  He is polite and loving, sometimes just letting her cuddle nearby.  Other times, kissing her face and trying to get her to play just a little bit.  He has proven to be a pretty darn excellent foster brother.  And I thank him for that.  Tofu needs some TLC and we are both doing our best to give her that.  But in the meantime, we are all happy to nap and cuddle and hang out and explore, and observe the neighborhood cats.  No wrestling  just yet is fine by us 🙂

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If you have any questions about Tofu, Jora, becoming a foster parent, or the adoption process- you can email me (Leroy’s mom) at Casey@caseyheyen.com