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

The Good Stuff

Yesterday I wrote about the Reactive Rover training class that Leroy and I finished.  Woo Leroy!  (more on that later, I promise)  I mentioned that I bring the “good stuff” to class, meaning that I stock up on very high value treats.  Here is a run down of what we use, and why we use it!

When I first signed Leroy up for training classes, I was worried that he would be so stressed out that he would ignore all of my special treats!  Sometimes when we are in a scary place like the vet, Leroy doesn’t care about food.  This is always hard for me to believe, because he LOVES food.  Seriously, he loves it.  So I was concerned that he would be stressed and just say “meh” to the hunk of meat in my hand.  Luckily for me, I have an awesome trainer.  She talked about what “goods” to bring to class, and Leroy ate them all up!

*time out*  If there are any of those, “Why do you need food to train your dog? Shouldn’t he be a good boy because he loves you?” type people, I would like to give them a shout out.  My dog (and most others) learns best by receiving food rewards when he is doing something right.   He offers a behavior, and either a. I do nothing or b. I reward it.  Behaviors that are rewarded will happen more often.  Training 101.  Sure, I could give him a nice pat on the head and tell him he is a good boy.  But my dog loves food, so damnit, I’m going to give him food!  It is a very high value reward for him.  Therefore, using food helps keep his attention and interest in training.  Otherwise he would just be eating Fluffy for a full hour. 😉 *time in*

Most of these are under the category of “soft and small”, aka perfect for training.  Although we are stocking up with food, dogs should be getting super tiny amounts of these rewards each time they do something good.  (And this should be faded and mixed in with functional/life rewards over time)  Approximately half a pinky finger nail!  No fat puppies here 🙂  So here is our list of the “good stuff”!  Tested and proven to be exciting, high value, and delicious to Leroy.. and maybe your dog too!

1. Hot Dogs.  First of all, gross.  I’m not a meat person.  So it was quite the effort for me to buy these suckers and feed them to Leroy.  But I did it, and he loved it!  The highest of the high value.  If you have a dog that ignores food when stressed, try the magical hot dog!

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2. “Soft and Small” training rewards.  Most companies make some type of small training treat.  We like to stay on the healthy side of things, so brands like Blue Buffalo or Zeke’s.  Not much junk in them, but still a great treat 🙂

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3. Food Rolls.  These are a newer thing in the world of dog food.  It can be used as a full meal, as a special dry food topper, and as a training reward.  It’s pretty soft but still packed together.  I used this a lot in Reactive Rover because I could hold a big chunk of it and break of smaller pieces.

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4. Freeze Dried Beef Liver.  Aka, crack for dogs.  This one is a little different because it’s not soft.  However, it breaks apart pretty easily so you can still give tiny treats and the dog will swallow it up nice and fast.  I don’t know what it is, but dogs like this.  Take my word.  Tofu is a huge fan as well.  🙂

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Well there it is, my list of the top four best training treats in the whole world.  Or something like that!  Thanks to Stephanie from And Foster Makes Five for the suggestion! Check out some wonderful blogging over there 🙂

 

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 

 

 

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

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

 

Vet Appointment! – The Good

Well yesterday I shared some potentially not so good news about Tofu’s eye.  However, today I want to share how great she was at her vet appointment!  Everyone just loved her to pieces.  She had a special bond with the vet tech who also happens to have a deaf and vision impaired dog.  What a coincidence!  She wowed the vet with kisses and cuddles, and tail wags.  LOTS of tail wags. 🙂  Tofu was a very well behaved angel and I was a proud foster mamma.

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Tofu has a great smile 🙂

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Oh and of course, we were sporting LCPO’s “Adopt Me” vest so that everyone knew she was looking for a home!  Her forever family hasn’t found her yet, but they’re out there ❤

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

Sponsor me here: All donations are tax deducible and benefit the rescue dogs of LCPO

Vet Appointment! – The Bad

Well poor little Tofu has been having some skin irritation, she also needed to get another vaccination, and we wanted to check on her lazy eye- So, we scheduled a vet appointment! As a foster parent, I do not pay for Tofu’s vet care.  I provide her with food, toys, training, socialization,  love, structure, and confidence.  However, vet care is something that I cannot cover (as a student with big loans looming over my head).  I wish I could, and I hope to be able to in the future.  But for now, we thank LCPO for being so amazing and providing wonderful care for their puppies.

In case you didn’t know, Tofu is deaf!  But please don’t tell her, we don’t want her to be self conscious.  We’ve also realized that she has a lazy eye that may be resulting in vision impairment.  So sure, she’s a little “special”.

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You can see her droopy eye on the left.  She doesn’t seem to mind in the slightest!  But we wanted to make sure it was OK and that there was nothing we could do to help her.

Well sadly, the vet said that it did not appear to be a regular cataract.  She wasn’t sure what was wrong so she suggested we look into an eye specialist for our girl.  It could potentially be anything from a different type of cataract to a tumor 😦  And the best solution may be removing the eye.  We are going to watch it carefully and have it looked at it again in the future.  My poor foster girl has a few issues going on!  However, neither of us notice them very much.  Especially when there is cuddling or kissing involved. 🙂

Ok, you can notice a little during cuddling :)

Ok, you can notice a little during cuddling 🙂

Please send her some good, happy vibes to help her keep her eye and find an adoptive family. ❤  She is truly a doll!

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

Sponsor me here: All donations are tax deducible and benefit the rescue dogs of LCPO

Why I Do What I Do- Take Two

In my last post, I shared with you my first success story as a foster mom.  Today I want to share my second fostering experience.  This is the story of Dillon Pickles.  Dillon is the reason why I will continue to foster and fight for these dogs.  He is my motivation, my reminder, my reason to help.

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When I first heard about Dillon, he was waiting at our local SPCA and had come in as a stray.  He was only about 5 months old, and said to be the sweetest boy ever with a zest for life.  Dillon was covered in a terrible skin infection and at first sight did not seem to be acting “normal”. The shelter vet quickly came to understand that Dillon was suffering from some type of neurological disorder, believed to be missing part of his brain or having a loss of function in part of his brain. Because of his special needs we were asked to help.   The shelter could not adopt him out into a home so they would have to euthanize him if we said no.  Dillon actually had a few offers of people who were interested in fostering him.  However, the president of the rescue said she wanted him with me.  I am not the type of person that will say ‘No’ to something like this very easily.  There were reasons why he should be with me and not the others.  I also believe that fate was playing its hand.  So of course, I agreed to foster Dillon Pickles.

All we knew was that Dillon was very sweet, very happy and full of life but he was without a doubt, a special needs little guy. Dillon’s growth was off.  He would shake his head every few moments and could not walk without falling or banging into something. He was given the nickname Crash at the shelter because he would crash into things very often, although it did not seem to phase him or crush his spirits!  Our plan for Dillon was to get him an MRI and hopefully repair his issue; then adopt him out to a forever home.  Here is a video of him at the shelter.

Once Dillon got settled in at my house, I did the write up for his adoption page.

“From the foster”- Having Dillon as a foster is like having a sign that says “Have you laughed today?” running around the house. 🙂 His name, Silly Dilly, suits him well. He is a spunky baby boy who loves wiggling around at top speed, giving kisses, and cuddling up as close as possible. He has a special appreciation for life… He falls down and he picks himself back up (as many times as he needs to). He loves to take all of the toys out of the toy box and pile them up on his dog bed. He has lots of fun with his foster brother. Their favorite activity is playing tug of war together. Dillon can’t go for walks unless he wears socks or booties because of the way he drags his paws, but he’s happy hanging out inside as long as he has toys to play with. He also can’t go up or down steps, so his ideal home would be a ranch or with an adopter who doesn’t mind picking him up ever now and then. 🙂 He’s a very special boy deserves an amazing forever home ♥

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Dillon was a joy to foster.  He was so happy about everything.   He loved everyone and everything he met.  We did our initial consultation at UPenn and he was a big hit.  At this point he did need to be carried around a little bit.  He couldn’t do steps and he would cut up his feet if he walked on concrete for too long because of the way he dragged his paws.  The vet staff loved him!  We did blood work and ruled out a few things that he didn’t have.  The vet believed that his issue was not in fact neurological, but a problem in his spinal cord.  We expected to know more after his MRI and would be scheduling that as soon as we could.  Video of Dillon at my house.

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Dillon and Leroy became wonderful friends.  He worked his way into my heart too.  I would pick him up and help him on the bed to cuddle with us.  He would immediately squirm his way right up to my pillow and snuggle his face next to mine. This boy knew how to melt hearts!

Best Friends

Best Friends

Seriously, does it get any cuter than this??  Nope.

Best Friends

Best Friends

As the month went on, we held a big fundraiser event for Dillon.  He met tons of his fans and followers.  Everyone loved him.  Everyone.  But I could see that Dillon’s condition was getting worse, and it seemed to be happening very quickly.  We scheduled another appointment at UPenn to see what we could do.   As I carried my baby boy into the waiting room (yes, I carried all 50 pounds of him around pretty regularly at this point), the front desk assistant jumped up and said, “Emergency Room?!  This way!”  At the time, I brushed it off and replied, “Oh no, we have an appointment.”  But when I gently put Dillon down on the floor in the waiting room, I could see that everyone was looking at him differently.  Not because he was cute, or a Pit Bull, or doing something adorable; but because he was sick.

The vet was again wonderful with him.  But because of the quick progression of his disease, she explained that the MRI would not be necessary.  He had lost most function in his front legs and his back legs weren’t doing much better.  He looked tired and some of his love for life was not quite there.  The vet politely explained that there were likely many issues going on with him and an MRI and surgery would not solve the problems anymore.  He was not going to get better.

Dillon was very used to being carried around.

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You can see in Dillon’s “dress up” picture that this little angel was tired.  Leroy was always there for his brother.  He tried to help Dillon play tug of war and had more snuggle times. I cannot explain the last few weeks that I spent with Dillon.  It was heartbreaking, but wonderful.  To give of yourself, unselfishly, is a great gift.  To work and expect nothing in return; to love more than your heart can bare; to cry for a life slipping away; to be completely powerless- fostering Dillon changed my life, and I will always be grateful for that.

Rest In Peace <3
Rest In Peace ❤

From LCPO-

 It is with sheer heartache that we share our sweet Dillon Pickles crossed the rainbow bridge today. After months of struggle, poking, prodding, questions, and a clear rapid decline, we had to make the best decision for Dillon and that was to let him go. There was nothing more any of his Dr’s could do as his diagnosis was now degenerative and at a clearly rapid rate. Dillon could no longer walk, he couldn’t stand to go to the bathroom anymore, he spent too much time crying out and was clearly unhappy and declining further by the day. Dillon spent his last day with many of the people that love him, with some of the LCPO avail-a-bully alumni and making some new last minute friends. Dillon was always a loving, forgiving, patient boy. He has left quite an impression on us all and we will always love him. We thank you for your support and compassion for Dillon as well as all of our very special avail-a-bullies. We love each and every one of them as our own and a loss like this is crippling to us.  Run free now Dillon, finally run! ♥

Rest in peace Dillon- 5/5/12 ♥  While Dillon was never officially “adopted”, he lived out his short, yet wonderful life with me and Leroy.  He was always treated like family and Leroy and I both loved him dearly.  Dillon will always be a part of my heart and a huge reason behind why I foster.  We miss you Dillon Pickles.  ❤

Love is an infinite resource

Work Hard, Play Hard

 

Just a few moments of our daily life 🙂  Enjoy!

Any questions about Jora or the adoption process can emailed to me (Casey, aka Leroy’s mom!) at Casey@caseyheyen.com.  Please share her story with anyone looking for the perfect family companion!