Wednesday, 27 August 2014

It's Now Official

Teak spent a week long "sleep over" with me to make sure he would be a suitable addition to my little family. It took a bit of adjusting, which is still in progress of course, but he is fitting in nicely.

Pips, being the social butterfly that she is, took to him right away and offered to rub up against his nose as he went to sniff her. He was rather taken aback by her brazen behaviour, but that's just Pips. Despite trying to grab at her fur several times (not aggressively ~ more like he's had a rough-and-tumble cat playmate in the past), she is unperturbed and will do her best to make a friend of him. He's starting to slowly cotton to the idea.

Lila only stayed in the basement for a few hours, and by supper time the first day, was eating on the steps by the back door landing while the dog was eating about 3 feet away in the kitchen. There was a baby gate between them, but none of that is necessary now. However, if she moves fast, he wants to give chase, and if he moves fast, she bolts... so they kind of feed each other's silly antics.

(Can you see Lila there just behind the gate?)

I have had to be slightly stern with him a few times regarding the cats and making sure he understands they are mine... and not his... and that he is lower down the totem pole than they are. He has now gotten to the point that if one of them is sitting in a doorway, he will not go through it unless I come right up to the cat. He's getting the hang of being bottom dog. ;-)

So today, we hopped in the truck and made the trek into the city to the shelter, and signed the official adoption papers. Teak is now my responsibility for the rest of his life. We have an appointment with my vet on Friday for a howdy-do, his next set of shots and getting his hip medication.

He's a sweet dog, funny and cuddly, and is catching on quickly to the few commands I've been teaching as we go for walks around the neighbourhood. He doesn't bark, is friendly with all the people we meet and just likes to hang out with me.

I think he'll do just fine.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Coming soon...

"New Dog ~ Take Two"

I spoke with the vet who cared for Teak yesterday during his exam, xrays and neutering. She said it was wonderful to meet the person who will actually be (fingers crossed it works out) adopting a dog she works with for the rescue shelter, which almost never happens.

She was very impressed with his body condition and muscle tone, given that he has severe hip dysplasia in the right hip joint. Just to rule out any other possibilities, they did the xrays under full anaesthesia so that he would be completely relaxed and they could get the proper angles. His right hip is ugly, his left is normal (which is good news ~ sometimes both are affected). They did his knees and his entire spine just in case. All looks great, with normal, even spacing between his vertebrae, meaning he has no degenerating spinal disks.

(Not Teak's hips, but the same side is dysplastic (R) and this looks very much like his xray.)

The xrays were done before his surgery and his nads were huge! Well developed, that's for sure. Couldn't see them at all under that hairy coat. But they are now gone (cue cringing in the men), and he is recovering nicely at the shelter.

All his bloodwork came back normal, and heartworm and lyme tests were negative. Those two are a huge relief as we have gazillions of heartworm larvae laden mosquitoes and lyme infected deer ticks in this province!! The treatment for both is long and drawn out, expensive and hard on the dog.

So the long and short of it is, Teak will come home with me probably Wednesday next week. Because he had his hip joints manipulated, and he was an older male when neutered, he's pretty sore and fairly swollen. I had a short visit with him today after talking with the vet. He was happy but obviously sore. And I heard him bark for the first time ~ there's a new dog at the shelter who was barking alot down the hall and he took exception and barked a couple of times... but on a good note, stopped the instant I said "hey! quit that!" (Good boy.)

The long term plan is to keep him lean, feed him food specially formulated for dogs with joint problems (already started at the shelter), give him glucosamine, and a pain/anti-inflammatory med (also already started). The vet figures he may be around seven but he's not huge so should have lots of years left in him. The kennel I bought for Sorley won't be big enough but the shelter is willing to take it in trade for a much larger one (same style) even-steven. I have a few supplies to stock up on before he comes, and arranging space for his kennel. I've a seat protector for the truck, and a folding step stool for him to use to get in (if required) but also to put in front of the seat to give him more room for his feet when facing forward. When he's not with me, it can be stored behind the seat. Then we will have about 4 1/2 days to get him relatively settled before I go back to work.

(I had a helluva time getting up after that shot! I understand his pain ~ I have arthritis in both knees.)

Monday, 11 August 2014

Sneak peek

So the dog that my sister thinks is a good fit for me at the shelter where she volunteers has been named Teak... because the brown of his coat is that of rich teak wood. (Named by my sister, no less!)

I've met with him three times in the past week, and each one is better than the last. He does have some issues and is going to the vet's on Wednesday to get neutered and have xrays of his hind end to figure out why he's a bit gimpy.

Teak was found near a small town in the southeast part of the province wandering loose. No one has come forward to claim him, so he is available for adoption. Age is somewhere between 2 - 5 years, at my best guess from the condition of his teeth. The vet will have a more accurate idea. He has a bit of training as he has on occasion sat on command but given that he's uncomfortable in the right hind, they have not been pushing for more than he is willing to give. He trots around okay in the outdoor exercise area and will lift either leg to pee, but when standing often only just lightly rests his paw on the ground. It might be hip dysplasia, or it may be an injury from getting clipped by a car, or wiping out while running loose.

He doesn't like the barky puppy that's there and will grumble a bit when walked past BooBoo's kennel so he may have had a bad experience with puppies (perhaps disciplined by a human for trying to discipline an unruly pup?). He doesn't care about the other barking (adult) dogs at all.

Because his health status is unknown, Teak will get a very thorough exam on Wed., which will include blood tests for heartworm and Lyme disease, a good going over, nail trim and deciding what, if any, treatment is required for the gimpyness. The nice thing about this rescue shelter is he will get treated for all things that are discovered and it doesn't affect what I pay for his adoption. They have a set fee for that. Now, I have donated things that they need like bleach and canned cat food (they have a sponsor for dog food so that doesn't seem to be an issue) so I do try and help out in ways that I can. They post on facebook when they are running short on things.

It is very common for dogs in kennel situations to bark like fiends. Teak has not. In fact, he has rarely barked (yay!), according to the staff there. He seems to be very calm and laid back, friendly with people and barely showed interest at the one cat he's met there so far. (That will get tested more once they get him more comfortable.)

I don't yet know how long he will be there, but I have put a "reserved" sign on him!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

I have a plan...

After the breakup with Maart, I fell into a brief binge of feeling sorry for myself and consumed way too much in the way of sugar and fat. Now, I wasn't slender before all that, but when I stepped on the scale mid-June, I was horrified! I was at the heaviest I have ever been in my life and I knew I needed to seriously do something about it!!

I actually didn't get motivated to do anything until mid-July when I bought a pedometer that will track not just steps taken, but distance, calories burned, stride length, etc. This was right before little Sorley came into my life (however briefly) and I started a daily walking regime.

I am bound and determined to get rid of all this excess flab and fat and get to a healthy weight. I know what a healthy weight is because when I was in my early 40s, I was in the best shape of my life. I went to the gym almost every day, I ran, cycled, rollerbladed, swam and rode my horse. I was fit and trim, with strength and stamina to boot.

Not now.

Now, I look like a frumpy middle aged Mrs. Potato Head. Very round in the middle with normal arms and legs. Not a good look, I can attest. It also makes looking fashionable impossible.

And I hate it!

So I walk. In the past 4 weeks, I have logged 145+ kms. Even without a dog now, I continue to walk and attempt to do a minimum of 5 km for each daily jaunt. So far, I have been mostly successful. So far, I have dropped 11 lbs from that horrific high of mid-June.

I have a long, long ways to go.

But this time, I am determined. I know that as I get older, this excess weight will have hugely negative effects on my health. It will affect my heart function. It impacts my (already compromised) joints. And I flat out refuse to buy bigger clothes! I've kept many of the smaller sizes in the (hopefully not deluded) chance that I will get into them again at some point.

I also plan on finding another dog. I have leads on a couple but need more info on how they are with cats and whether they have any major health issues. One I've met but his health and cat status are still unknown. The other I've not met and am going to try and find out more today.

I have two more weeks before heading back to work, so now would be the optimum time to bring home a dog, to get it settled and into a routine before I start back in the salt mines.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Short-lived romance

Well, it lasted 19 days and every one of those days was fraught with frustration.

Today I returned Sorley to the terrier rescue group from which I had adopted him. No, he didn't try to mangle one of the cats. But because he'd had pretty much no training for his first full year of life... and he is a terrier (mix), he was too much of an intensive project for me.

Terriers are noted for being very smart dogs, and that Sorley definitely was. But he also didn't give two hoots about anything I was trying to teach him unless he got instant benefit from it. Which meant food or play or both NOW.

You can't keep training with food because if that's all you do, the dog will eventually do absolutely nothing unless you are stuffing treats down its gullet. I've trained plenty of dogs over the past 35 years to know that.

What I had was a dog who barked incessantly at every little noise and movement. The dog down the street yapped ~ the alarm went off. The woman in the house across the street and down on door walked past her front room window ~ the alarm went off. The car across the back lane fired up or drove out ~ the alarm went off. Some noise was emitted from the tv ~ the alarm went off. If someone walked down the sidewalk in front of the house, you'd think we were being attacked by giant aliens! I tried the water squirt bottle. He didn't like it but kept barking. I tried the rocks in a plastic bottle trick, he's jump and cringe ~ but kept barking. I resorted to an ultrasonic anti-bark collar, which would limit things a bit if he just started with a grumble but if he started right into the alarm bark, it had no effect whatsoever. Using a clicker when he was quiet only worked if the food kept flowing... constantly. Me yelling when he barked and praising when he was quiet made no difference at all.

Then there was his on-leash behaviour. He had no idea how to walk on a leash without constant pulling. Didn't matter that he was wheezing and coughing ~ he kept pulling. Didn't matter that we spent many short sessions (he's a terrier ~ gets bored quickly) weaving in and out of the posts along the edge of a local museum's parking lot. Or that we practised changing directions frequently while walking down the sidewalk. He got the hang of sitting each time I stopped at an intersection, even to the point where he did it without any prompting from me about 75% of the time. Why that and nothing else is beyond me. But then a controlled walk forward was impossible. It was a full out launch as far as he could get (which wasn't far, because the leash was short when sitting but not applying pressure at all to his collar). One time, in trying to get across the street without this rocket launch thing, I actually stopped and had him sit and start again at least 10 times!

And then there was his reaction to any dog that we walked past, whether it was loose, tied up or behind a fence. Whether it was barking, growling or silent. Mostly they were not quiet at all. He went absolutely ballistic!!! Right up on his hind legs and willing to rip out the throat of the other dog out if I'd only let him close enough. Didn't matter if it was the tiny cockapoo who was tied to the front deck so it could just reach the sidewalk, or the three big behemoths behind the chain link fence a block over, each of which was at least three times his weight.

He peed in the basement once, and pooped three times, despite two good walks a day (the morning one was usually at least 3.5 kms) and several trips to the back yard. He managed to pop through the cat door I installed on the utility room to keep the cats' litter box safe. The third time, I actually caught him IN the box, digging for treasure. I hauled him out by the scruff of the neck and was ~this~ close to killing the damn thing!!!!

I tried. I really did. He was a very cute dog, and a nice size (30 lbs), and was affectionate and playful. But... he exhausted me, both mentally and physically. I began to hate going for walks but knew he needed the exercise (as did I) and the training. But it was a battle every time. A dog should be a pleasant companion, not a nightmare on four legs 80% of the time. So back he went. The rescue group has a 21 day trial period so I got my adoption fee refunded.

So I am keeping my eyes open for someone else. Someone much more laid back... and quieter. My sister volunteers at a no-kill shelter and took me to meet a new dog there. They think he's got german shepherd in him  from his markings (black on his back and the rest of him brown, but not tan; more the colour of rich teak) but is smaller (60 lbs maybe?) and not the same shape as a shepherd at all. But he's not been there long, needs to be neutered and will have his back end checked out because he seems to be a bit sore (hopefully not hip dysplasia). All the other dogs were barking like crazy (as shelter dogs are wont to do) except this one. He was friendly without being pushy and when we took him to their outdoor area, he came over to each of us when coaxed quite easily. He gets along really well with a couple of the dogs, doesn't like one of the pups who is super excitable, and has yet to be evaluated with cats. So him, I will keep and eye on, and my sister will keep me informed of what is going on with him.