Tag Archives: BARCS

Boston Bound Family/Pack

We are what?  I am afraid.  Hold me mom!

We are what? I am afraid. Hold me mom!

Cynthia received a nice offer for a new job in Boston, MA so we’ll be moving within the next couple of weeks.  Bella, our almost 4 year old pit mix, has never moved with us, therefore her reaction on the above picture is understandable, right?

We are moving?  Yeah!!

We are moving? Yeah!!

Alex, on the other hand, has moved with us several times when Cynthia was in the military so she is used to it.  I am hoping that Bella eventually feels the same way.

I may, or may not, be able to blog on a regular basis.  I will try though.  Why?  Misery loves company.  But seriously, it is a way to show, I hope, other pet parents how crazy a move to a new city can be specially if you have two furry kids: Alex the laid back pittie; and Bella the superenergetic one.

I am going to miss all the dogs that vacationed with us, and their amazing pet parents, therefore to all of you who trusted us with your furry kids I’d like to say on behalf of Cynthia, Alex, and Bella, thanks a million for everything and we wish you much love, health, prosperity and peace.

Dogs And Good Manners

gdmanners1When Bella came to live with us a little over 4 months ago, she had absolutely no doggie manners: she’d step over Alex; bump into her; and this was the worst, while Alex was sunbathing by the sliding doors Bella would try to put part of her body on top of Alex.  Manners is something dogs can learn from one another, and I’ve been lucky to have Alex, a very laid-back, balanced pit mix, help other dogs accomplish that.

Is manners something you can teach a dog overnight?  No.  There are many factors that need to be present and put into play in order to have a well-mannered dog and these are just a few: patience, structure, exercise, discipline, commitment, consistency, love, and a balanced dog like Alex.

gdmanners2A few pet parents I’ve talked to believed that if they took their dog to an obedience class, this would solve most, if not all, problems, but let me tell you that an obedience class is just the beginning of getting your dog to be a happy, balanced, and well-mannered dog.  I look at an obedience class as one more tool that you can use to start training and conditioning your dog to listen to you, her pet parent.

Also, please don’t expect your dog to learn manners from another dog in a couple of hours, days, weeks, etc.  Why?  Dogs are individuals, as I mentioned on a previous post, and they learn at their own pace.  Bella, our foster failure, has made amazing progress, but that took time and a ton of patience.  There is still a lot more I need to work on with Bella, but now she is able to live with other dogs in peace while respecting their space.

Foster Failure – Bella, Our Girl

home1A little over 3 months ago, Cynthia and I went to BARCS to pick up a foster dog, and I truly wanted to train her and work on her behavior so she could go to her forever home, but that was never meant to be.  As time went by, I realized that Bella was a smart, beautiful, active, affectionate, strong, challenging dog.  In other words, perfect for us.  Cynthia fell in love with Bella from the beginning, but to be quite honest, it did take me a while to really feel a bond with her.  When did this happen?  Once I started to train her.  Training a dog is work for both the dog and the handler, so for those that have never trained a dog, let me tell you that aside from walking, training a dog allows you to form a bond with a dog even when you don’t realize it, like in my case.

home2Since Cynthia wanted to adopt Bella for a while, I went ahead, without telling her anything, to BARCS to fill out the application form and as of last month Bella became a permanent member of our family.  When I finally told Cynthia about it, do you know what was her reaction?  She had a smile from ear to ear, and then she cried.  Bella is our foster failure, and that’s ok with us.  Welcome home Bella!

Basic Training Part II – BARCS ID# A21561474

certificateBella completed her Basic Training/Good Manners class on Saturday, 3/01/14 and to say that we are proud of her would be an understatement.  With Casey, my first dog, I took Obedience I, Obedience II, and Canine Good Citizen.  With Alex, my current furry kid, I took Obedience I.  Why do I do this?  What’s the point?  These are questions I’ve been asked by a few pet parents, and my answer to them is:

  • A trained dog is a better behaved dog which in return makes sharing your life with her a joy rather than a burden
  • Training allows you to manage your dog better in different settings, not just at home, but for that to happen you need to incorporate training into your every day life
  • You can take your dog to family reunions or gatherings, and/or she can be the “hostess” when you have people over

bellaThere are a lot of more reasons for your dog to have, at a minimum, basic training under her belt, but it’d be too long to list them all.  For those pet parents that have dogs classified as aggressive/strong breed or whatever other term they are using now, basic training is paramount, and, in my opinion, essential.  Living with dogs should make your life better and more enjoyable, but you, as the pet parent, need to do your part.  Congratulations to our foster dog, Bella, for working hard to get her Basic Obedience certificate.  This cutie is still available for adoption.  If interested, please contact BARCS.

One Month With Bella – BARCS ID# A21561474

1monthToday, Monday, is exactly one month since we picked up Bella from BARCS, and to say that she has changed a lot would be an understatement so I’d like to share her progress with you and hope to get some feedback.

Walking – She did not know how to walk.  She pulled every which way, and she was so bad at it that while attempting to walk her a day when we had a lot of snow on the ground, I ended up flat on my back while holding on for dear life to her leash and at that moment I said, “That’s it, I give up on this dog.”  Yes, I actually said that.  I never had a dog be that bad at walking.  That day while talking to my girlfriend, Cynthia, she mentioned me flat on the white snow while dressed in dark clothes and you know what we did?  We laughed like crazy.  Nowadays, Bella, for the most part, walks next to us.  That is progress:-)

Feeding – While I put their food together, at the beginning, Cynthia had to put a leash and collar to restrain her from going to the other dog’s area while they were still eating.  Bella also used to make this grunting/piggy noises that would start as soon as she saw me take our their dishes.  What about now?  She still makes those funny noises, but not until she hears the kibble going in her little dish, and we restrain her by using voice commands.

Pacing – Even after we took her out for a walk, she would pace in a frantic way.  She had a lot of anxiety and pent-up energy in her.  Now she seems to be much more relaxed and comfortable, and the amount and intensity of her pacing has greatly decreased. I love to see her walk around the house relaxed and content.

Training – Bella is attending a Basic Training class that will last 5 weeks, and to be really honest, I thought she was going to be the worst student ever.  Sorry, but that is how I really felt, but you know what?  On our first class, last Saturday, she did great.  She got almost all the commands correct, received compliments from one of the trainers, interacted well with people and one child.  I was so proud of her.

1month2Doggie manners – She almost stepped over Alex when they were sunbathing on the deck.  Right now she is more aware of her surroundings, but she still needs some fine tuning in this area.  She also, once, took a Nylabone from Alex’s mouth.  Alex just looked at me like, “What was that?”  I don’t allow Bella to do that because that can cause a fight.

I will probably start taking her to BARCS adoption events in the near future.  With that in mind, let me share this with you.  A student from Animal Behavior College told me that she volunteered for an adoption event for, I forgot the name of the organization, sorry, and the dog she was handling after a couple of hours made her hands red and raw from pulling.  That is something I want to avoid with Bella.  When she is ready to go to an adoption event, I want people to see the amazing girl she really is and not walk away because all they see is a hyperactive, crazy, out of control dog.  I will not set her up to fail.  It is up to Cynthia, Alex, and I to do the best that we can to get her ready to go to her forever home, but not until she is ready.

If I were asked, how’s it living with a foster dog?  I’d reply, “You will never have a dull moment, and you’ll have plenty of laughter, lessons learned, tears shed, frustration, and moments when you question your own sanity for embarking in such a difficult, arduous, sometimes, heartbreaking journey, but this was something I have wanted to do for a long time, and I am fortunate enough to be able to do it now.”  So, the succinct answer to your question would be, “Challenging, heartbreaking, and rewarding.”  I know, I know.  I could have started with that.  Have a great week.

Basic Training Part I – BARCS ID# A21561474

basictraining1Years ago, I took Casey, our first dog, and Alex, our current dog for basic training, and I truly enjoyed the classes and the time I spent with my dogs doing our “homework.”  I think that living with a dog should be an enjoyable, enriching, learning experience, but we, humans, must do our part.  How?  I’d say start by enrolling your dog in a basic training class.

basictraining2Bella and I went for our first basic training class today, Saturday, and to be honest, all I was thinking as I was driving to that class was, “Please, don’t let her be the worst dog/student in that class.  I’m not asking for much, am I?”  Well, to my surprise she did great.  Although everything around her was new, dogs, people, location, etc., she was able to focus and did almost every exercise right.  She also met other people including children and got a couple of compliments from the trainer for doing such a good job.  To say that I was over the moon would be an understatement.

Anyway, Bella and I were given homework to do so we’ll be busy working on the following: recall, sit, down, push-ups, and one trick that I forgot what it was called, sorry about that.  Have a great weekend.

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

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.