Saturday, April 30, 2011

Katie vs. Lucy

There's that cat! She's all flattened down, but I can see her.
Cats are weird, they're small and look a lot like toys.
Oh yeah, I'm big bad Katie. Let's play, Cat. 
I'll show you! 
Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yard Sale Prep

Spring is the season for yard sales! The last 6 years or so, friends and neighbors have joined together to host a big yard sale in April or May. Each year, I'm amazed at what people buy and how much money gets generated from junk that was just sitting around in closets or the attic. It's a great way to get rid of clutter, and money from the sale goes into a trip account - a win/win situation all the way around!

With all this experience, I've learned a few things along the way. When preparing for a yard sale it's a good idea to recruit a helper who can assist with pricing items and test boxes for their sturdiness. After all, there's nothing worse than having the bottom drop out of a box of books that you're taking down to the garage. A good assistant can prevent such mishaps, and keep you company while you work.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Egg Fun For Dogs (and Cats)!

Several years ago, a fellow volunteer at German Shepherd Rescue and Adoption told me about teaching one of the rescued dogs to hunt for Easter eggs. "He did an Easter egg hunt?" I'd asked incredulously. She went on to tell me that her own dogs loved hunting for Easter eggs too. She said that German Shepherds are so intelligent they easily learn the concept, and have lots of fun searching for the treat laden eggs.

Well, I couldn't resist. I had to try it. And what do you know? She was right - they DO enjoy Easter egg hunts! Lady caught on the very first time we played the game. It took Lucky a bit longer, but he quickly got the hang of it too. Lady and Lucky have been enjoying Easter egg hunts for several years now. I use those colorful plastic eggs that open, and put a treat or few bites of kibble in each egg. Then both dogs have to "sit" and "stay" in the kitchen while I hide them.

I hide them all around the living room, in nooks and crannies here and there - not too well hidden, but not too easy either.

Then I return to the kitchen, and with both dogs looking up at me with eager bright eyes, I pause for a moment before saying the magic words:
"Okay! Go find them!" 
Off they go like two dogs shot from a cannon, feet scrambling on the tile floor as they race each other to the living room. Then they're all business, running here and there, nosing under pillows and in plants. Lucky is good at finding the eggs hidden in the sofa cushions.

Watching them hunt for Easter eggs is great entertainment. Our new little Katie is not in any of the photos I took of last night's egg hunt because all the excitement and running around confused her. She got freaked out and retreated to the safety of the bedroom. I'm sure she'll get the hang of it too though, once she's seen it a few times. 

I imagine this might not work for all dogs. But Lady and Lucky are gentle with the eggs, stepping on them or biting them just enough to make them pop open so the treat falls out.

Within mere moments, the living room is transformed 
into an Easter egg wasteland. 

Important Easter Egg Hunt Rule: Save one Easter egg for the cat. After watching the dogs search for eggs on several occasions, Lucy began demanding her own Easter egg. You have to help her find it, and open it, but she enjoys it all the same!

Can we play again?
Hope everyone had a fun Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Katie's One Week Anniversary

Just a quick update to report that Katie is doing great! The anxious panting of the first few days has decreased, with lots more tail wags. Last night she was jumping around and doing the "play bow" with Lucky, trying to get him to play with her. And she and Lucy, while not exactly friends yet, have made peace with each other's presence in the house. The most remarkable transformation of this past week, however, has been in her physical appearance and vigor.

Katie looked so old when she first arrived. She appeared years older than Lucky, walking with a stiff arthritic gait that after a day or two had me worrying that something was really wrong. A large tumor in her abdomen? I pressed and prodded, and imagined I felt unusual masses. It didn't help that in those first four days she also had several 'accidents' in the house. The first couple weren't cause for concern, as it's not unusual for stress/anxiety to cause problems at first. But once she was into the daily routine, and continued to have accidents, then the worry light began to flash.  

Fast forward a week. A thorough check up, ultrasound of her bladder (donated by the vet, bless his heart), blood panel, and urinalysis shows she is a healthy senior dog! At least that's the most likely conclusion. A couple of the tests were very slightly off, but the vet assured me that the results were basically normal for a dog her age. And now after 8 days, she is a different dog! I thought I was seeing things yesterday when she came running into the house from the side yard, actually leaping over the threshold. 

Last night she did the entire 3 mile walk with us - without any problem whatsoever. I am astonished, and have no explanation other than perhaps several days of being in confined quarters at the rescue center made her stiff. We're watching her closely and being careful not  to let her get carried away and do too much - but she really seems fine. Considering that a week ago I thought we'd taken in an almost crippled older dog, the transformation has been remarkable. 

And just a couple of weeks ago, I was telling Jenner I'd never had dogs or cats that liked to sleep together. She is always posting hilarious photos of her pets all dogpiled together (just click on the link above and check out her blog header, lol!) Well that has changed. Katie likes to get cozy. Lady and Lucky aren't quite sure what to make of this, but they're accommodating her. It's been pretty entertaining to watch. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Bear Family Fun

When I took Lady out for a run yesterday, I was more careful than usual, making lots of noise. I talked loudly to her as we headed down the street "HERE WE GO, DOWN THE STREET, OFF FOR OUR RUN!! ARE YOU GOING TO RUN FAST TODAY LADY?? LA LA LA LA LA!" I'm sure this made for a ridiculous scene to anyone who happened to glance out the window - "Why Martha, check out this woman hollering to her dog. I bet the poor thing is hearing impaired." But I didn't want to run around a corner and surprise a bear, so I was willing to sacrifice dignity for safety.

We had a lovely bear-free outing, until returning to the house. This is what was waiting for us in the front yard for us when we returned:

Fortunately, I saw Mama before she saw me, and Lady didn't see her at all (we were coming back up the street from the left side of this photo). I waited just out of her sight for 10 minutes or so hoping she'd move on, but she stayed on the branch. I didn't see the cubs, but knew they must have been nearby. Unfortunately, I didn't have the luxury of hanging out down the street all afternoon, Katie was scheduled for a vet appointment. I had to get back into the house.

I decided to climb the hill around the back of the house and try the old fence gate, which hasn't been opened in years. If I could get that open, we could go in through the back. Assuming of course there weren't more bears in the fenced area (which is where we'd found them the previous day). My heart was pounding like a jackhammer when I finally got the courage to poke my head over the fence. It was clear, whew! I'm not sure what I would have done had I come face to face with another bear.

Properly motivated, I was able to shove the back gate open, and we quietly and  uneventfully sneaked into the back of the house. Once inside, I was able to get some terrific photos. Enjoy these pics of our neighborhood bear family - the cubs are adorable!!

"Do you see what I see out there?"
This photo cracks me up. I can imagine Mama saying
"well, guess I'll just sit and stay awhile."
Found the cubs! They were in a tree across the gravel road.
She is such a good Mama - once again she got the cubs down by climbing up there after them. Then she checked them from head to toe to make sure they were okay. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dog Walk Cut Short

The three dogs were at the front door in a flash, prancing with happy anticipation and eager for the evening walk. It hasn't taken Katie long to learn the evening walk routine, and she was right in there with Lady and Lucky, tail wagging, her whole body saying "Let's go, let's go!" The chill in the early springtime air added to their friskiness. And then we had cause to celebrate - Katie did her first good "sit" at the end of the driveway, albeit with a bit of encouragement.

Because of Lady's tendency to become overstimulated, several "pause points" have been worked into the daily routine. The dogs are expected to sit politely and wait for the command to proceed before meals, before going out a door, and at the end of the driveway before starting the walk. This helps Lady remain calm and encourages her to focus on the person who is in charge. So Katie is just learning this, and all three dogs had just been released from their end of the driveway "sit," when Lady suddenly erupted into an explosion of frenzied barking. Bear

It was climbing over the side fence. I didn't move at first, other than to pull Lady back in. Bears are fairly common around here, and they usually run away or climb a tree when confronted. But this one moved towards us. A retreat seemed prudent. We were walking back towards the house when I remembered a neighbor's warning about a huge mama bear with two cubs. He'd reported the mama bear tangling with our across-the-street neighbor's boxer a few nights ago. The boxer was lucky to escape the encounter with only a scratch. As this came to mind, I looked back over my shoulder and saw Mama's massive head coming over the hill. And then I did what you are absolutely not supposed to do - I ran.

We made it into the garage and got the door down without further drama. I didn't take the time to look back and see how far she pursued us, if at all. I'm just glad all three dogs were cooperative, and that Lady didn't insist on staying out there to do battle. What I didn't realize until getting back upstairs and looking out the window, was that Mama's two cubs had been frightened by all the ruckus and climbed almost to the top of a tall tree next to the fence. I watched, fascinated, for several minutes until noticing that they appeared stuck. Mama had her paws on the trunk looking up at them. Fascination turned to fear as we watched the cubs struggle on the high branches. Oh no. A fall from that height would surely kill them.

Who the heck do you call if a baby bear is about to plummet out of the top of a tree? I knew I'd seen stories in the paper of a bear being tranquilized and dropped into a net after spending several days up a tree in a public area. For lack of a better idea, I called the "non-emergency" city police number, which turned out to be of no help whatsoever. Fortunately however, the babies soon figured it out, with Mama's encouragement and support. And thankfully, I recovered my presence of mind enough to grab the camera. Many of the shots are blurry (were my hands shaking? light levels too low?), but you can still make out the sequence of events.

Here they are, waaaaay at the top. It's hard to tell how tall this tree is, 
but this photo was taken with a telephoto lens.

Mama goes up the tree and calls to her cubs. I imagine her saying
"Come on little ones, you can do it! Be careful."

The babies finally make it down to the crook of the tree (can you
make out their black fur?), so she heads back down.

But then she pauses. Maybe scolding them:
 "Don't play around. Come down right now!"

Okay, here they come. Whew!

They're so little! So cute!!

They look like little monkeys!
The End.
So thankful for a happy ending!!
(P.S. And thanks to Kim for the post title idea :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Not Everyone Is Happy

Not everyone is happy about the new addition to the family. Lucy is saying, or rather thinking, bad words. They are in a little thought bubble over her head - can you see it? Miss Katie has obviously never been around cats, and while she is a gentle dog like her brother, she also has a prey instinct like any other dog. This has translated into intrigued staring and incessant tiptoeing around the house trying to find the cat. Needless to say, all this attention is making Lucy uncomfortable, so she's tending to hang out under the bed and in the stairwell. When she's hiding, or actually running, Katie's interest escalates.

And worse yet - Lady was joining in at first. That didn't surprise me a bit. Lady has a very strong prey drive, so I knew if Katie took to chasing the cat, Lady would be like "Oh! We're going to chase the cat? Awesome! Let's chase the cat!" Hopefully I've now nipped that in the bud, as Lady and I have had several very stern discussions about this and I think she's gotten the message.

Several times, when Lucy has gotten brave and walked past Katie in the hallway, Katie has just wagged her tail and then turned away. But at other times, Katie seems just a bit too interested. It's hard to know when to supervise and intervene, and when to let the two of them work it out on their own. I 'mostly' trust Katie not to hurt her, but don't want to take any chances. Any advice from those of you who have been through this before?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Welcome Home Katie!

Yes, it's true - Lucky's sister Katie is here! Sorry I had to leave everyone hanging yesterday. It's been a crazy busy week. Since Monday I've had a grand total of about 5 minutes of free time for blogging, and that's all I could manage in 5 minutes!

None of us present for the family reunion on Saturday could get the image out of our minds. When we first arrived and met Katie, she was the picture of utter dejection and fear, tail tucked between her legs, shaking. We visited with her a few minutes, trying to comfort her and marveling at how much she looked like her brother. Katie looked like a petite, miserable version of Lucky.

We decided to bring him out to meet her. If the meeting appeared to increase her stress, we'd just guide him away and put him back in the truck. But when they met, she wagged her tail and smiled. It was just a little wag, and a brief smile, but the change in her demeanor was obvious, and the scene almost had us all in tears. The great photo above taken by Emily Sepik captures the reunion. If you missed Sunday's post, the "before" and "after" reunion photos are here. I couldn't post but one of the photos I took of her sad face before they met, they make my heart hurt.

It was so strange to see a double of Lucky, after 7 years with him. The resemblance between the two dogs was made even more striking by her coincidentally having on the exact collar her brother wears. It was unbelievably hard to leave without her that day, and I don't think 15 minutes went by all weekend when I wasn't thinking about her.

We made it to Monday. I won't go into all the details and make a long story even longer, but Animal Compassion Network deserves all the credit for making it possible for Katie to join her brother. They're a great organization of people with huge hearts, and if anyone is inclined to sponsor a pet in Katie's honor, please do so! There's no better way to repay them for their kindness, than to make it possible for them to save another dog like her.

Katie's first few days have gone well. We're keeping things low key, and sticking to a schedule with lots of consistency. Right now she's alternating between periods of grief, during which she's very obviously sad and dealing with the loss of her former owner and home, and periods of happiness where she's enjoying her new environment and being with her brother. I'll close with some photos from her first few days, with a caveat- don't look for any cute face photos. This is going to be one challenging dog to photograph. She has a major camera phobia. It's like she's from one of those cultures that thinks the camera is going to steal her soul. So it may be awhile before you see a good shot of her face! In the meantime, enjoy the furtive rear and side views, lol!

Walking the "pack!" :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guess Who's Here?

On the run now, but had to share the happy news with anyone who read last weekend's post. Katie is here with her brother, to stay forever! Update to come! :)  :)  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring Photo Shoot

"C'mon you guys - smile!"
"Laaaaady, Luuuuucky, look this way."

"Anybody want a.... TREAT?"

(Ahh, it helps to know the magic word!)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lucky's Family Reunion

Lucky got to visit with his sister this weekend, after 7+  years apart. I wish the circumstances were happier. On Friday night, I was shocked and saddened to receive a message that Katie had been returned to the rescue. The woman who adopted her 7 years ago is apparently moving to Arizona and can't take Katie because her grandchild is extremely allergic to dogs. Needless to say, poor Katie is sad and confused.
Like her brother, Katie had been housed at All Creatures Great and Small when the remnants of Hurricane Frances flooded the facility. And for Katie, as for Lucky, that turned out to be a godsend as individuals and rescue groups responded en masse to the crisis. That story can be found in the archived posts Lucky's Story Part I  and Part II.

I'd always wanted to plan a reunion with the woman who rescued Katie. Even though I'd never met her, the fact that the two dogs shared such a dramatic history made me wonder if she might be interested in planning a brief "family reunion" for the two dogs at some point.

This was not what I had in mind.

We took Lucky to visit his sister yesterday, and the two dogs clearly recognized each other. Lucky sniffed and sniffed and sniffed, while Katie's response was even more telling. She wagged her tail. She had shown us nothing other than body language and facial expressions of utter dejection, but when Lucky came over she wagged her tail. The manager at Pet Harmony took photos of the reunion, and sent me several to use as we try to find a new adoptive home for her.

I am heartsick, because taking in a fourth pet is impossible right now due to financial reasons. And I am incapable of fostering. So the personal campaign to seek out a new family for sweet Katie is officially underway. In the meantime, I can hardly think of anything else. :(

Friday, April 8, 2011


It's spring! Time to go outside and play in the dirt. 
Or just lay in a patch of sunshine. Have fun, the weekend is here!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Toy Story" Part II

And the end result of all this "Christmas in March" playtime? Purple Creature was stolen and retrieved, but remained intact. Cute Caterpillar was not quite so fortunate. His antenna were taken off so cleanly, it looked like they'd been surgically removed. Neither dog confessed.