Monthly Archives: May 2012

14 Days to a New Hazel.

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It has become a bit of a habit, or tradition, for me to write about our foster dogs weekly. It reminds me of the progress they have made in that time and how much they have recovered. Hazel, being our third “sick” foster has come just as far as did Angie and Jenga in two weeks time and seems to have just as much potential to be a happy, well adjusted dog. Like the two before her, she has some quirks (don’t we all!) and twists of personality that are all her own. That really is one of the most fun parts of fostering, getting to know who a dog is. Rocco and Savannah have been with us for so long, that I sort of forgot that dogs can have so many individual personality traits. Not to shortchange them, because they, too, have funny things they do…like Savannah brings each person who comes in the house a toy…she hops from foot to foot when she is barking from excitement…Rocco makes himself a little nest when he takes a nap on the bed and likes to do his “Zen Dog” under the miniature maple tree outside. But, when a new dog comes in, it’s really cool to see them evolve, gain confidence and engage in behaviors that make them unique individuals. Angie suckled and kneaded blankets, Jenga liked to trail blankets with her and Hazel “caches”.
Caching is a left- over behavior…a piece of primitive genetic software that served wolves in the wild very well, but, most domestic dogs have no need for, and some just don’t seem to know it. Caching is the burying of items to protect them from scavengers and our Sugar used to do it with pretzels, and Hazel does it with hard treats. It’s really interesting to watch, except that the other day, she bloodied up her nose pretty good while doing it. Angie’s suckling and kneading is one of these left over behaviors, as well…as an adult, she obviously no longer needed to nurse, but did it often and it seemed to relax her. These behaviors are known as “fixed action patterns” and are instinctual and hard- wired and some dogs seem to have no idea that they serve no purpose any longer. Humping is also a common one and probably the one people get most upset about…they don’t understand why a spayed or neutered dog would hump, but, it’s just one of those pieces of software that dogs use, because it’s there, even if it serves no purpose (other than to feel good or relieve anxiety…humping is not about dominance, contrary to popular *mis*belief) Our cat, Trixie, attempts to nurse from Savannah and did the same with Sugar…more wonky software. Come to think of it, I guess we have a lot of that going on around here!
Anyway, back to Hazel….she has really proven herself to be a trooper! She made her first visit to Petsmart the other night and was bombarded with attention as soon as she walked in. She was nervous and as soon as it seemed too much, we moved on and she really enjoyed roaming the aisles and sat for a treat at checkout. We were so proud of her! She has earned open door privileges, having been treated for an upper respiratory infection and kennel cough and will probably move out into the living room this weekend. She is not at all bothered by the cats and we have seen no concern in her body language towards them…we will watch this closely, though. She and Savannah lay right on opposite sides of the gate with each other and Rocco seems to know the drill at this point….new dog = lots and lots of special yums. That’s not to say he is perfect about it, but, that’s why we take it so slow. It’s not fair to any dog to just expect them to roll with the changes and be fine with everything and this would be a major caution to new fosters and adopters: GO SLOW!  Especially, if you’ve got pets of other species living in your home or dogs like Rocco, who are dog- selective.
Hazel has proven herself to be easily adaptable…she enjoys company, but, does fine on her own, too. She has done really well with training and is spooking less easily. She likes to do zoomies and likes to cuddle. She loves, loves, loves Nylabones like no other dog I have ever met. We are bringing her to the clinic today for a skin scrape and hoping she comes back negative for mange. If so, she’ll be scheduled for her spay surgery and we will start to market her more and take her to adoption events. If not, we’ll keep loving her and working with her and that’s fine, too 🙂
Hazel’s caching earned her a shout out in my webinar for “The Academy for Dog Trainers” the other night….her wonky software made her famous! I was such a proud momma! I had given her a Busy Bone while I cleaned..to keep her, well…busy and hoped to catch her in action and she didn’t disappoint! Watch the determination with which she hides that bone from the scavengers who are sure to show up at any second!

She was pretty proud when she heard her name and saw her picture during the webinar…said she knew that behavior would come in handy one day! 😉

A Week with Hazel.

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So, our little house mouse has been here for a week. I call her that because she is a skittish little thing, who often makes herself as small as possible and, the whole hairless thing, which Paul said made her look like a hairless rat. I think house mouse is kinder 🙂
Anyway, after a week, she is noticeably less pink and may even have a bit of hair re-growth on her back end. She has been getting a seaweed supplement with her food, coconut oil rubbed into her skin and, of course, her daily dose of Ivermectin. The coconut oil must instantly soothe her skin, because she goes into a trance-like state when I am rubbing it on…and she knows she gets to lick the cup when I am done. She does have an upper respiratory infection, so we took her to our vet yesterday and got her some meds for that. I think once those have kicked in a bit, we will start to see more of her true personality.
One thing seems pretty clear, Hazel probably hasn’t been exposed to much in life. She spooks easily, but, the good thing is, she recovers quickly and has enough curiosity to want to check things out most of the time. Right now, she is content to sleep most of the day, get up and play or train for a while, go for a little walk and then go back for another nap. I worry a bit that at some point, she will want to make up for lost time 😉
Hazel, like Angie and Jenga before her, is doing great with training. She is by far the best loose leash walker I have ever worked with. We have practiced sit, look, down, and wait as well. We have used wait for the car and she seems to be pretty patient. Her car behavior is pretty funny…I am used to nose art in random spots on a car window, Hazel’s goes in a line from one corner of the window to the other, almost like she is methodical in how she checks things out. Every once in a while, I will look back and her face is directly behind me, buried into the corner of the window. This is pretty nice, after Angie, the “I gotta give kisses in the car” dog, Jenga, the “I gotta be right here in between you guys” dog, and Rocco and Savannah, the “We whine the whole way there, wherever there is” dogs.
Hazel also seems to be fairly independent, which is nice. She does not jump up the second we walk into a room or freak out when we leave. She is affectionate, but, not in a needy way…more in a “oh, this is nice way”. She is just as content to chomp on one of her many Nylabones. But, touch her with that coconut oil….and she is in heaven! It is so interesting to me after living so many years with the same 2 dogs to get to know the personalities of others like this. Angie was needy and snuggly, Jenga was goofy, funny and cartoonish, Hazel is cool and assesses everything. Once she decides something is safe, she becomes loving and playful.
We won’t market Hazel for adoption too aggressively yet. Which reminds me…I do need to update her Petfinder ad! She needs time to get well and get comfortable with the world. Once she is more settled and has decompressed, we will take her to events and out into the public eye. For some reason, I fear she won’t be as adored as she should be, what with the lack of hair and all 😉
She is still pretty adorable, if you ask me!

Welcome Home, Hazel!

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On Friday, Paul and I brought our newest foster dog, Hazel, home to get well. Hazel is about 1-2 years old, has severe Mange and though we thought we had escaped without an Upper Respiratory Infection, it seems we did not, as she is now coughing and sneezing quite a bit. Hazel is listed as a pit bull terrier mix, though, I’m not so sure I think she is, so, maybe this time, we will actually do a doggie DNA test. Not that it matters to us, I just am always curious. *I wonder about Rocco and Savannah, too, but, long ago decided that my amateur guesses will suffice* Looking at Hazel, I see more Bull Terrier, as she has a longish face, and some other breed with slightly longer hair. Also up for debate is what color her spots actually are, since her mange is so bad. You can see clear through to her pink inflamed skin almost everywhere, except for her face and ears. Hazel’s mange makes Jenga’s look like “no big whoop”..and Jenga’s was pretty bad. This poor girl is in rough shape, but, has a super-sweet nature and is super, super tired.
Hazel was at the shelter for about 3 weeks. She was surrendered by her owner who could not afford to take care of her and her skin issues. I will be honest and say this is something I used to judge pretty harshly on, but, in light of the financial difficulties Paul and I have gone through, am a bit more understanding of now. I also have the owner surrender sheet, on which her previous owner had only good things to say about her and it made me very sad. They had taken her to the PSPCA clinic for her mange and got one round of treatment, but, could not afford on-going care. It also made me sad for Hazel, obviously, as she is clearly is very uncomfortable and in a good amount of pain. She is safe now, and will be treated for everything, get lots of love, good food, supplements and meds. She can sleep until the stress has worn off and get lots of affection and love when she is awake.
I started working with Hazel right away on training and am focusing first on loose leash walking.  So far, one word: superstar! She stays focused on me and right at my left hip. Paul taught her to sit and today we will practice both some more, along with the multi- purpose “look” to get her attention. I also need to re-arrange the recovery room, so that there is more space and we can work on crate- training and she can spread out with her beloved rope toy and Nylabones.
She has been here less than 48 hours, but here’s what I know about Hazel so far: it feels really good to her to rub her neck on things…your leg, your arm, the ground. She doesn’t care, as long as it provides some relief from the itchies she will rub on it. She loves to look out the window in the car, which is refreshing after Jenga,who insisted on resting her giant head between Paul and I on the center console! Soft treats she will eat immediately, hard ones she buries and saves for later 🙂 She is good in the bathtub. She wags her tail when she eats. She gets more water on the floor than in her mouth when she takes a drink. And, my favorite of all, Hazel loves kisses and hugs.
Hazel will be here for a while before we start marketing her for adoption. She needs time to heal physically,emotionally and mentally. She needs training. She will get everything and more that she hasn’t had before in her short little life. We hope you will come along on the journey!
You can see just how pink and inflamed the poor girl’s skin is here. Her front paws are very swollen and she has some really crusty spots on her neck and back 😦
Here you can just see the sweetness 🙂