Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Street Dog's First Week in the City

Walking on leashes, no scavenging, squirrels and cats running in the street are a few of the things Blondie and Chi-ping have learned to deal with their first week in the city. Opossums and raccoons are treats yet in store for these two urban explorers, I can hardly wait.

The girls do not understand dogs not stopping to visit in the street. Blondie barks joyous greetings while giving play bows, only to be ignored by passing canines is obviously confusing to her.

The labyrinth of streets, so different from the country road she knew in Puerto Rico causes her to stop and stare each corner we come to taking it all in, at those moments the look on her face makes me think she is overwhelmed. Thumping her and telling her what a good girl she is gives her enough comfort to get her tail up and wagging, so I think she is handling the change fairly well.

Yesterday Kirt and I had errands to run which meant the girls were in the house for about eight hours. I had not planned on being gone that long, so with trepidation I opened the door, OMG, they did nothing wrong, how lucky can you get!

We settled in to watch some TV last night, when I paused on a Spanish speaking channel both of their heads flew around to the screen in unison.

I’ve known dogs to hide bones, rawhides, special toys or even dog bones for later, but Chi-ping shoveled up golf ball sized mouthfuls of ground beef and rice to hide in unlucky places like under my pillow, in my shoe and in the corner. When I first saw the moist mixture, I thought it was vomit, as I found more I realized she is a little hoarder, watching her steal from Blondie’s bowl, when her head was turned confirmed it.

I can understand an animal making a kill, not being able to finish it, but with all the dogs I’ve known over the years, I haven’t seen this degree of hoarding, if you have a story of food stashing, please, share it. This I find fascinating.

God bless, may dogs be with you, Tricia.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Getting Dogs to the Big Easy

Trust is everything in a relationship, so did shoving Blondie into a crate to be loaded on a plane bound for New Jersey then New Orleans violate that trust, I wondered as KIrt and I flew with complaining cat, Smoki and Chi-ping, who had enough to say on our flight to Orlando, that I gave her a third of a Benadryl to calm her down before she went through another soft crate.

The happy squeal Blondie let out when we picked her up at cargo told us all was forgiven. Both girls quickly urinated and we were on our way to our new home. After traveling all night we were ready to sleep for the rest of the day.

Tails were wagging as the girls sniffed through the neighborhood, good solid stools were a bonus, everything felt so good. Sometimes they would just stand and look around, taking in all the new sights and sounds. It’s quite different from the hill road we live on in Puerto Rico. It’s a busy in town neighborhood with dogs being walked on leash, which they handled so well, to say I was proud of them is an understatement. Chi-ping pulls on the leash, but Blondie walks by my side like she has done it all her life, I realize that I am her security, but it’s just nice the way she walks on lead.

The next day we had to pick up our car an hour north of the city, so we took Blondie to give Smoki and Chi-ping some bonding time. Since we’ve heard that she has gotten a cat we’re not taking any chances, so Blondie came on the road trip her first day. It seemed like the right thing to do, I didn’t want to lock Smoki in the bathroom, nor do I trust the girls alone in the house.

That night the diarrhea began, my poor Blondie had more than she could handle or maybe it was the sight of all the feral cats roaming the streets instead of dogs. She went from explosive to clear liquid during the night; giving her Pepto didn’t do much good, so I bought some Kaopectaid in the morning, all of which Blondie accepted without a fuss. She is a minimally handled street dog, taking foul medicine, all I can say is, “What a good dog!” Every couple of hours she whimpered to go out, standing by the door to leash up like an experienced city dog.

While we are dealing with Blondie’s bowels I noticed what appeared to be one of many old scratches on her legs, only this was recent. Under the scab was a festering bite, which seemed to blow up over night, her leg is huge, so I began shoving what antibiotics I had down her throat. She really doesn’t feel well, so I bought some penicillin, which is such a big shot, she cried when I gave it.

Here we are in the big easy with my poor baby, who is going through so much. The stress diarrhea is over, but if we had left her in Puerto Rico with this abscessed leg, I don’t think she would have made it.

As it is if the leg doesn’t improve by tomorrow, she’ll be seeing the vet, which we can ill afford right now, but we’ll figure it out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Street Dog Travel Preparation

Operation get dogs ready for travel and city life progresses with Blondie slowly learning to come in the house and get along with Smoki, the cat, who keeps taunting her with his growls and his poor little kitty sounds he makes when he is going to whop some dog butt.

After fifteen years of living in a dog kennel and day care, this cat knows dogs, pushing their buttons is his favorite game.

Smoki introduced himself to the girls one on one so he could establish his relationship. The “ki” needs to be respected, after all, it’s his house.

Chi-ping was having a lesson in being kenneled; Blondie was learning to stick her head in the crate to take small pieces of meat and a bone, when Smoke decided to give her a lesson in the “Ki” gets what the “Ki” wants.

Since Blondie was afraid to go into the crate to get the meat, Smoki showed her how to walk in and started chewing on her bone. Grrrah, the little kiki voice warned, Rrruff , my meat Blondie said plainly in her best I, me, mine voice. Flying feline fist of fury flew in the face of the big street dog, this cat is crazy.

 Oh, shit is probably what came out of my mouth as I ran into the front room where my cat is in the crate that the dog now desperately wants in, leave it to the cat to interfere with my training plans, so Smoki spent the night in the crate next to the complaining, Chi-ping, who gives full voice to her sorrow at being confined, while Blondie roamed the house without an accident.

In the morning after breakfast Chi-ping had another lesson in being kenneled, I don’t want to be the idiot on the plane with the dog that won’t fly quietly, she will have as many lessons as she needs to get this.

Blondie spent the day visit friends on the island, saying goodbye, with each stop we made she became more comfortable with getting in and out of the car. With ears flopping in the breeze, an open happy mouth Blondie likes the car ride stuff, the leash walking is progressing nicely as long as we do not get in a hurry.

We are just a crate away from being ready to go, the crate we have is an inch too tall, the airline says it won’t fit, so we are looking for a vari-kennel 400, which Pet Smart will get their shipment in today, we hope.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Getting Street Dogs Ready to Fly

Four year old Blondie has never been in a house, so she should want to run in the door and hurry from room to room sniffing everything, right!

Of course not, Blondie’s years of experience tell her not to go into the house, even high quality treats will only bring her so far in before she becomes apprehensive and heads back outside. Slow and steady will bring her in with minimum stress; can I do slow and steady in five days? Hmm, don’t know, may have to cheat, we’ll see.

On Tuesday Adri returns to remove some of the neighbor’s herd of little dogs, so operation in the house and in the crate gets serious in the morning.

Adri Galler Lastra of Amigos De Los Animales Pr recommended Continental Pet Safe program for shipping Blondie, who will now fly out of Aguadilla an hour before we do, perfect, thank you so much Adri.

Before Blondie’s vet visit, I gave her a Benadryl, which works like a charm; she seemed to enjoy the part of the ride she was able to sit up to look out the window.

It started out that Chi-ping was coming to be Blondie’s moral support, but by the time we arrived at the vet, she was coming with us and needed a health certificate and a crate and collar and leash and of course reservations.

Pet Smart in Hatillo was out of vari-kennel 400, the airline approved size Blondie needs the one we bought last week is an inch too tall, so they won’t accept it. Do cargo planes really have space portioned to the inch? Amazing!

Who could leave this?

My neighbor needs to sign a form relinquishing dogs that Adri emailed to me, but my printer hasn’t been used in months, so you know we’re put zing around with that, God was have a sense of humor, the way we get tested sometimes.

Oh, well it’s another day and off to the races. Have a good one!

May dogs be with you!! Tricia

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Street Dog to City Dog Travel Complications

As the first golden rays of sunshine hit the tips of our palm tree, Blondie and I were doing our good morning ritual with all the thumping and stroking she loves. Still full from yesterday, she snubbed a small bowl of food until Chi-ping stuck her nose in it.

Why is nothing ever as simple or straightforward as I think it should be? Where is the easy button when you need it? Am I talking about getting her in a crate or for a car ride or to walk on a leash; hell no!

Our reservations are for JetBlue and Southwest, they do not take pets larger than will fit under the seat, I had no idea, leaving at 4 am on Friday out of Aguadilla, on the west end of the island where we live. Blondie’s only way off the island is the evening before American airlines shipping in San Juan a 2 hour drive each way. What a long night and morning it will be for her, if I can’t figure out better!

Our flight arrives before noon on Friday, so we can pick her up as soon as we get in, but that’s such a long day for her, wow, an introduction to the rest of the world all alone, I hate it. What choice do we have?

Shipping Blondie is going to cost way more than my husband will want to know. This is where it takes courage to do what your heart says instead of what the brain tells you to do. I can be such a coward, so we’ll see how this turns out.

Meanwhile Blondie will be taking that car ride today, since we have an appointment with the PetVet in Isabela this afternoon. My car, when we bought this car, I swore to my husband no dogs in this car, shit I am such a liar, well, I really meant it at the time.

Please, say a prayer this ride goes without complications, so far Kirt (husband) is not giving me a killer hard time, which is subject to change with every new event.

Blondie laughing !

Oh, this morning my neighbors got the memo: Do NOT feed the pudgy blonde girl!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Street Dog to City Dog

With street dogs we’ve had few rules: no trying to go in the house or the car, no grabbing things off the table, no fighting or peeing on the porch, they don’t think about biting us, so it doesn’t have to be a rule. I squeak when feeding, so they look whenever I squeak; they then decide if they think good treats are worth giving up what they are doing, no recalls have been trained with any of the satos on the hill. We wanted to train minimally to learn more about how the dogs are with the people and each other. I didn’t want to control the relationship; other than my little rules.

Just imagine putting a collar and leash on someone you’ve known for three years, now don’t go thinking kinky, my big pushy girl laid down with a brain freeze too afraid to move.

Quickest way to get to where we want to go with her training is for her to fall in love with my treats, to bravely go where taste buds demand. Throughout the morning I popped a treat into her nested shipping crate; it didn’t matter if she went in after the treat or the little Chi-ping, we worked the process.

Since the boys are gone, Blondie’s mood is dark and mopey, so we play the piper game, just follow me here to get a treat, just follow me there for something better, Chi-ping is bouncing off the walls with excitement, Blondie follows with hardly a tail swish. Spaced repetition took up most of the morning, and then Kirt and I decided to take a break to feed the dogs around the lake.

It’s always good to give dogs a chance to rest and reflect on a session, so to sleep per chance to dream while we are away is a good thing, yeah.

Patience repaid by happy wagging tail during piper game when we returned, so smile with satisfaction and go in to have lunch. A few similar sessions after lunch and we’ll make good progress with the brain freeze business.

After lunch where’s Blondie, the unwanted sato to be removed from the neighborhood? The past six weeks she has been on my porch, but of course, if there is work to do somebody is always AWOL, ok, squeak, squeak; no response, that’s unusual. Where is Blondie? I call, I clap; nothing. Crap.

I get about halfway down my drive before I see her in my neighbor’s yard surrounded by people; my neighbor’s grandkids, neighbors with Blondie, the dog they want gone, I don’t get this. They’re feeding her, oh, are you kidding? Geri has the huge pan of rice mix he feeds the dogs; just what I want to train, an overstuffed dog; I feel a growl coming on.

Street Dog to City Dog the Process Begins

Born and bred in the streets of a small Puerto Rican farming community, four year old Blondie or La Loba as my neighbors call her is in for the change of her life.

Blondie, the only survivor of a litter born to a lab cross female who lived near the farm down the road had her own first litter before making her way to the hill where I live, where the brilliant sato Stormy taught her the ropes of being a street dog.

Blondie and Stormy killed rats and chased men walking the roads at night looking for things to steal, but she has never been in a house. Blondie eats rats and leftovers, but has never been given a treat on a potty walk. She visits each house, but would never stay in our neighbor’s yard.

Her only car ride  was to the PetVet in Isabela to be spayed, come to think of it we have to go back there for her travel papers.

Ok, let’s see, it’s crate training, introduce leash and walking, introduce the cat or as he likes to be known, the ruler of the universe, car ride,  introduce this is the house and you don’t get to eliminate in it or rip the shit out of my stuff. Check.

Blondie laughing

I thought she handled the collar quite well. Blondie learned sit after a rather lot of repetition, training wise, the expression box of rocks comes to mind, we’ll see.

Since the boys are gone she is quiet, low, Chi-ping tries to play with her, but Blondie has little interest. So let’s take her for a car ride, that will cheer her up. ;)