Monthly Archives: January 2014

See You Later Chrissy

chrissyThe adorable little dog right next to our cutie Alex is her cousin, Chrissy.  My cousin, Jessenia, and her husband were the proud parents of this beautiful girl and we were able to spend the past holidays with them.  What we did not know was that she had an advanced type of lymphoma.  She had surgery, but she passed away a few days later.

Will we miss her?  Yes, we’ll miss her very much, and like I said before I always cry for the dogs that die whether they have been with me for a short time or a long time.  My heart does not seem to understand the concept of time when it comes to dogs, therefore I will cry for that is what I truly feel.

I can only imagine what my cousin and her family are feeling and going through.  The best to all of them during this difficult time.  And for you pet parents, please give your furry children a big hug and kiss.

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth – Part II BARCS ID# A21561474

part21We took Bella to the vet yesterday, Wednesday, and I could not believe what the vet told us.  Bella had a small thin stick running from one side of her mouth to the other one that measured about 3 to 4 inches long.  The only part we were able to see were the black holes on her gums, but once she was sedated they found that a stick was pushing her teeth out-of-place.  After we picked Bella up from the vet, we passed by BARCS to pick up her meds and then we headed back home.  You’d think she’d be a little mellow, but boy she was still full of energy, but for that evening she was fed and kept apart from Alex and Walter as recommended by the vet tech.

part22I can’t stress enough how important brushing and checking your dog’s teeth and gums happen to be so please pet parents be diligent about your furry kid’s oral health.  I am not a dental hygienist like Cynthia, but a stinky mouth in a dog is never a good thing.  If you have questions, please ask your vet for advice and take your canine companion for a check up to make sure everything is fine.

Why Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth Is Extremely Important – BARCS ID# A21561474

brush2By the third night, our foster girl, Bella was at home with us, I started to brush her teeth.  At the beginning, all I did was put a bit of doggie toothpaste on a toothbrush so she could get used to it.  As days went by, I was able to start brushing her teeth followed by a snack, which she loved.  Between you and me, I think she just let me brush her teeth for the treat.  Smart girl!

A couple of days ago, I was finally able to brush her molars and I could not believe what I saw.  There was a black hole not on the tooth, but rather on the gums.  I had never seen anything like that before so I contacted BARCS right away and I took Bella to their vet so he can check her out.

brush1I told the vet that she had a black hole on both sides/gums, and that although her breath was not as stinky as before we could still smell something funky.  He would have had to sedate her to see this, so I suggested to him that Cynthia and I hold Bella and show him what we were talking about.  We did so and he gave Bella antibiotics and a referral to another vet with experience in this sort of problem.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we’ll be dropping Bella off at the vet we were referred to so he/she can take care of Bella’s teeth.

And, the above picture is why it is extremely important that you brush your furry kid’s teeth.  I brush Alex’s teeth almost every night, I am not a perfect pet parent, and there are nights when I am too lazy or I just forget, but 9 out of 10 times she gets her teeth brushed and I ask Cynthia, at least once a month, to check her mouth since she is a dental hygienist.  The first time I asked her to do that, she just laughed and looked a little puzzled.  Right now checking Alex’s teeth and gums is just something she does at least once a month for our girl.

brush3Alex will be turning 12 years old in May, and so far, she’s only had a dental cleaning once.  That, I think, is pretty good.  If you do not brush your furry kid’s teeth, bacteria will grow and because of it organs such as her heart, kidney, and liver can be affected.  Please, take a couple of minutes every night and brush her teeth.  Cynthia knows a lot about it since she is a dental hygienist and she uses a lot of terminology that honestly speaking sounds like another language to me, but so far what I gathered from what she tells me is that plaque grows faster at night-time when we produce less saliva and that is why she is really adamant about having everybody brush their teeth before going to bed.

Teaching Bella To Get Along With Other Dogs – BARCS ID# A21561474

getalong117 days ago, Cynthia and I went to pick up Candie, now renamed Bella, from BARCS, and the progress she’s made so far is amazing.  At the beginning, Bella wanted nothing to do with Alex and we did not force her either, but rather took them both for walks, and runs around the neighborhood.  Bella’s body language was that of a dog in shock of being outside.  More details in another post.  Anyway, as time went by, Bella stopped staring and wanting to go for Alex.

getalong2But look at Bella now.  She is sunbathing on our deck with Alex and Dexter.  Does this take time?  Yes, it does.  And a ton of patience.  Today, Monday, was a nice day so we went out and stayed hanging out on the deck for a while.  What is the point of doing this?  I want Bella to get used to just relaxing around other dogs and I also wanted to observe her body language towards Alex and Dexter, and the squirrels around our backyard that always get her attention.

getalong3This is one of my regulars, Dexter, a boxer mix.  Dexter loves to sunbathe indoors or outdoors.  He is a bigger sun worshipper than my daughter, Alex.  Bella was not very good at dealing with other dogs once we were inside the house, but…

getalong4this is Bella now.  Bella was already on that spot.  Dexter came over and decided that that was the right spot for him and proceeded to fall asleep without a care in the world.  I was looking at their body language to see if there was any signs of aggression to come, but nothing.  I know this may sound ridiculous to some people, but I wanted to cry.  Why?  This is progress for Bella, being able to get along with other dogs indoors, and I was over the moon.

getalong5As you can see, Bella is about to fall asleep too.  Is there anything in particular we did to get her to this point?  No, it was a combination of many things such as:

  • Exercise – a mix of walks and runs twice a day
  • Feeding – once she is finished eating, she is to wait patiently until all the other dogs finish their meal and then all of them go to bed to relax and take a nap
  • Sleeping – she sleeps in her crate after we give her some loving
  • At home – she is not allowed to roam around the house on her own.  She is either with Cynthia or I so we can monitor her body language and interaction with other dogs
  • Outside – we are working on getting her to walk properly, and she is doing better.  Her body language during our walks went from afraid to more relaxed as time went by, although squirrels still drive her nuts
  • Structure – she gets all the love she can handle, but she must earn it.  She has to sit before she gets anything, she has to wait before going out the door, and so much more

getalong6Bella is even getting more comfortable with Alex sniffing her and being close to her.  For those pet parents and foster parents that just got a new dog to add to their pack, my advice would be to do the following: have patience, appreciate the progress your dogs are making regardless of how small they may seem, do not leave them unattended, provide structure for them, exercise them, and work on teaching them basic training and good manners.  Understand this though, your dog will not change overnight.  You will see progress and change in your dog as time goes by, so arm yourself with a lot of patience and do not feel discourage when there are setbacks, and there will be set backs.  Our foster furry kid, Bella, is an amazing girl and little by little we are starting to see a more relaxed and balanced doggie.  Enjoy your holiday with your furry children.

Introducing Bella To Alex – BARCS ID# A21561474

introbellalex1Well, it was time to introduce Bella to Alex today and this is how I introduce new dogs to my pack.

Cynthia, Alex, Bella, and I went for a walk together.  At the beginning of the walk, Alex was on my left side while Bella was on Cynthia’s right side.  We stopped for a couple of minutes so they can do their business, but they were not allowed to interact with each other yet.  Because Alex cannot walk a lot we had to stop after we walked for a little while to give them an opportunity to sniff each other.  Bella’s body language was relaxed and curious.  So far so good.

introbellalex2Once we got home, we went straight to the deck where Bella, still on leash and collar, was able to interact with Alex.  What did I realize?  Bella has no doggie manners.  She almost stepped on Alex a few times.  What did Alex do?  Nothing.  And that is why Alex is perfect for me and for what I do which is board, train, and work on behavioral issues many dogs have.  After a couple of minutes, we brushed their hair and wiped their paws and proceeded to go inside.

Bella’s body language indoors changed.  She became tensed and zeroed in on Alex.  I redirected that behavior by getting her attention and she was fine.

introbellalex3This is what I realized about Bella:

  • Bella’s interaction with Alex outside was great.  She did a play bow inviting Alex to play
  • Once inside, her body language became tense and on guard.  She lowered her head, body was tense, stared at Alex and looked ready to go for her
  • Even though I was not crazy about her body language indoors, Bella responded well or I should say amazingly well to voice corrections and commands
  • Although she did great while playing with other dogs at the shelter, now she has to learn to live in peace with other dogs in a home environment
  • She has to learn doggie manners.  She cannot step over other dogs
  • On the deck, Bella showed signs of stress, pacing back and forth, but she relaxed after a few minutes when she saw Alex sunbathing

This is just the beginning for Bella.  She has a long way to go and this is why a shelter dog, in my opinion, has a better chance to find her forever home when she has been fostered for a while.  Why?  Living in a home environment teaches her how to be a member of a pack and that is something that she cannot learn in a shelter.  I have great admiration for the people who work in shelters.  They do an amazing job, and they can always use our help whether this comes in the form of donations, volunteer time, fostering dogs, etc.  Have a great week.

Introducing Bella, Our First Foster Dog – BARCS ID: A21561474

Bella1The above beautiful specimen is Candie, our very first foster dog.  We changed her name to Bella since she is truly beautiful and we thought this named suited her better.  Let me start by saying that I’ve been reading other blogs of people who are fostering dogs and many of them have had set backs as well as success with their foster dogs.  Some have decided to stop fostering for a variety of reasons, all of them valid in my opinion, while others are still at it.  Regardless of whether you are the former or the latter, thanks a million for doing it.

Bella2Bella has been with us for 8 days and here’s some information about her and a progress report:

  • DOB: 11/24/2010
  • Breed: Pit Bull Mix
  • She is extremely smart and knows how to sit, wait/stay, go to bed, and come
  • She’s crate-trained and housebroken.  No accidents at all
  • Amazingly sweet with people and all she wants is to be with you and be petted all day if you have the time
  • Still working on walking on a loose leash.  Very good progress so far
  • She shaked uncontrollably when I was about to feed her and Alex.  Food seems to stress her out.  Now she still shakes, but less than before and she is able to wait rather than pace around the kitchen until I have their food ready
  • Bella responds best when the correction is done with your voice.  Harsh corrections, rough handling, popping of leash, etc., are not recommended for her.  She is a big strong girl, but she is very sensitive.  Although your voice needs to mean business it has to be done without a harsh tone otherwise she’ll shut down completely
  • She is not suitable for a first-time pet parent

Bella3My model, Bella, was falling asleep on me so I had to capture it for you to see how funny she looks when she does that.  We are not sure yet if she is ok with other dogs.  At the shelter, she was a favorite with a lot of the volunteers and she played very nice with other dogs, but we have to see how she does when living with other dogs in a home environment.  We’ll find out in a few days.

Bellalex4By the way, Alex is doing better with her leg.  She is walking about 12 minutes, and when the brace is removed at night-time she does not limp, but we don’t want to push it so she’ll continue with bed rest and short walks for a while longer.

To foster a shelter dog is a challenge, many of you know that first hand, and I will continue to blog about it and hope that I get input from pet parents and foster parents as well.  Share your stories, please.  Also, please remember that not all foster dogs may be suitable for your home just like not all dogs would be a good fit for your family.

If you are interested in adopting Bella, this is the information you will need to apply for her:  She is with BARCS, ID# A21561474.  Wish us luck and let’s hope this horrible weather changes soon.  Have a great weekend.

A New Year And New Beginnings – 2014

2014Every year, just like many other people, I make a list of my new year’s resolution to tackle, but this year, surprisingly even to me, I failed to do so.  Instead, I decided to do things I’ve been meaning to do for a while and unlike past years, 2014, although today is only January 4th, is proving to be quite fulfilling.  The first thing I addressed was continuing with Alex’s training and small walks.  How’s she doing?  Better every day.

20142The second thing I’ve been meaning to do is to take care of a plant and not kill it like I’ve done in the past.  With that in mind, Cynthia gave me a beautiful white Orchid for my birthday that I named Snowflake.  Yes, I name them because in my mind it makes me more responsible, and between you and me, I think its working.  A week later, we went and got another Orchid, the one featured in the above picture, that I named Lilly.  A month has gone by and they are both doing great and thriving.

20143And the last thing I’ve been meaning to do for a while was to foster a dog.  Cynthia and I finally went to the shelter in Baltimore, BARCS, yesterday, Friday, and picked a dog to foster.  This picture I took yesterday, a couple of minutes after we got home, but I stopped right away because she seemed afraid of a lot of things and I did not want to frighten her.  To our surprise she slept soundly, actually she snored, and ate all her dinner last night, followed by a breakfast I could have sworn she inhaled this morning.

I’d venture to say that this is a nice way to start 2014, don’t you think?  Have a great weekend.