Enter the Stairs

Callie got lucky the other day!

animal-planet-pet-stepsI was at a thrift store the other day and found what looked to be a brand new set of dog stairs. Decent ones too. Folding, wooden, with fabric on the steps.

I have been holding out on buying her a set, trying to figure out what is the least expensive, but still solid, option out there but the choices are overwhelming.

I’ve mentioned before that Callie really doesn’t like being picked up but can’t, or rather won’t (I’ve seen her do it before, sneaky girl), get on the couch by herself. She also can’t get on the bed or go down stairs. So pet steps provide two excellent solutions, first regarding the picking up problem, and then training opportunities, both going up and then coming down the stairs.

Turns out the steps aren’t brand new, but I’m not super surprised. The only real problem was that the dowels that held the last support were broken. My wife and I held the steps steady instead until we could get new pieces, and got the cheese ready.

Side-note, nobody in this house can eat dairy, cheese stays because it is the ultimate training tool for Callie. NEVER overuse your dog’s favorite reward, be it food or toy, or it will lose its magic. Save it for the big training steps.

It took a little while, and a whole lot of treat bribes, but she eventually climbed up the steps to the couch. Unfortunately, we didn’t get pictures of her on the way up because of how we were positioned holding the steps, but my wife got several of Callie’s hesitant attempts to go back down.

It started like this:

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“Human, there is not enough cheese in the world to make me go down those stairs!”

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“I MEANT WHAT I SAID, HUMAN!”

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“Mmmm, I do like cheese, though….”

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“K, maybe just ONE paw. ONE.”

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“Huh? What? I was paying attention to the cheese.”

This was, of course, over approximately 30 minutes or so, but I loved the end pics! However, right after they were taken, she realized how far down the stairs she was and immediately backpedaled. That was the end of it for the night.

Overall thoughts on the stairs – I want to buy nicer ones eventually, but as an avid thrifter, I can be happy with my thrift store score for a while. It seems like the stairs get Callie’s vote too, at least for getting ON the couch.

P.S. Promise to return with pictures of going UP, too.

 

The dangers of certain brands of peanut butter.

A reblog with great info about what Xylitol does to dogs and how certain brands of peanut butter are switching to using Xylitol instead of other sweeteners. Here’s my experience with the nasty product:

A few years ago, a friend offered to help us out and make the cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday celebration at preschool. My ex-husband had ended up with our Labrador in the divorce, a wonderful, sweet, and incredibly well-trained dog.

Well, my ex had the cupcakes, neither of us knew that the friend of ours had made the cupcakes with Xylitol (because WHAT?! they are for preschoolers!) and Cyrus, the lab, did something he hadn’t done since he was a puppy. He jumped on the counter, got the cupcakes and ate the whole pan.

When Cyrus started acting funny, my ex rushed him to the vet. He spent two weeks in dog ICU, with constant fluids, and had a prognosis of “no way is he going to make it, but sure, we will try.”He survived. Even our vet has never seen anything like it; she was certain he was gone. I don’t know how he made it, but most dogs don’t so be aware of Xylitol always!

Learning from Dogs

Please read this and share.

(This was first posted on December 8th, 2016. It is being republished because of the mention of peanut butter in the article presented in my post that came out an hour ago.)

ooOOoo

Keep peanut butter away from your dogs!

Because it could kill your beloved companion.

Fellow author Judi Holdeman sent me an email that contained a warning that had been in a recent health newsletter from Jeff Reagan. Here’s the essence of that warning (and my emphasis in parts):

If your dog is anything like my dog, they probably love a good scoop of peanut butter.

As I’m writing this, my pup Ellie is actually snuggled up next to my leg and going to town on her peanut butter filled Kong. She’s in heaven…

But I want to warn you about a NEW problem with dogs and peanut butter.

There’s been…

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The Big Move

Let me start with an apology for our radio silence, we have been in the middle of insane packing and moving. merlinWe sold our house. Within a week of adopting Callie, it was under contract. Now, we had it up for sale when we rescued her; however, it had been listed for a few months with no bites, going into the fall. When we adopted Callie, we weren’t too worried that it would sell soon. Oops.

front-of-house1The house had to be sold – it was too small for our growing family, with two beds and 1 bath and little room for expansion, it was just not a good fit.

My wife and I hoped we would find a house before we had to move, no luck. Instead, we have landed at my mom’s extra condo as an intermediary between houses.

What’s the hardest thing for a rescued animal? Significant changes. So, poor Callie moved into this house with a yard she was free to go to the bathroom in unleashed – and play if she so chose, though she did not.

She just got comfortable in that space, with those smells, and then, we were packing up everything she had come to know.

And we moved to a different place. AND she has to go to the bathroom leashed every time. She gave us many insulted looks about this at first. My favorite part about the bathroom issue though was her hilarious facial expressions as we first started picking up her poop with bags and then began BRINGING IT INSIDE!

The condo community does not promote having dogs, so they don’t have outside poop cans. We just double bag until we have to scoop the cat litter and then it all gets thrown away.

Callie looked horrified the first several times we brought the poop inside, as though she were thinking many things, among them:

“Don’t touch my poop.”

“Human, why is the poop going INSIDE?!?”

“Wait, I am the ONLY animal who does not get to poop inside, and yet you touch my poop and bring it back inside?!?!?! What is WRONG with you?”

There are some positives – the stairs up to our condo are carpeted, so Callie learned to go up indoor stairs. Soon we will work on going down those stairs. The condo itself is one level, she’s never left behind. And, she seems to be settling in well enough that we have been able to start leaving her at home for an hour or two.
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Another bright side is that there’s a walking path near here and a few other small dogs in the condo community. So I am going to try to make a dog-walking friend to inspire Callie to get out and move. 🙂

Routines, Mistakes, and Steps Backward

This blog isn’t just about the positive experiences Callie or I have, but also about the negative ones, and the mistakes I make.

Over Thanksgiving, Callie did fantastic with some jumping around, first spending the night with us at my wife’s parents and the next night at mine. She was exhausted afterward from all the high energy activity, but happy. However, we learned that my brother-in-law on my wife’s side is allergic to dogs.

My mom and Callie
My mom and Callie

So for Christmas, we decided that Callie would spend the night with us at my parents on Christmas Eve and then she would stay again, without us but with my daughter and Nana (my mom) whom she adores.

My mom also has a rescue, Angie. A is young, about 2.5 now. My mom has had her for about a year and a half, and she has become fairly well adjusted. A is also a HIGH energy dog, very different than Callie and it took C a few visits to get used to Angie, but now they do well together.

Anyway, the point is we decided she would be ok spending the night without us at my parent’s house because it is a place she is relatively comfortable. Christmas morning was fun, even Callie had a blast. Then we took off midday.

When we picked her up Monday morning, around 11 am, we walked in the house, and my daughter was holding Callie in a position she knows she is not allowed. Callie gets uncomfortable and scared when G moves her too much, particularly when she keeps her upright like most dogs hate. Callie looked relieved to see us and desperate to be removed from my daughter’s arms.

My exhausted mother had run out of energy correcting G regarding Callie, understandably, as G was taking advantage of breaking every comfort and respect rule we had set in place.

Callie also spent the entire time on the couch because my mother was worried that Callie might pee. Callie occasionally has had accidents there, so it’s a fair concern, especially considering that she doesn’t want Angie to start peeing in the house. My mom felt like she was stuck.

We disengaged Callie from my daughter’s arms, assured her she would see C again on Thursday, ran a few errands and came home.

It doesn’t take much to throw any dog’s routine off, but for a rescue dog, especially a recently rescued one, those habits are critical.

Goal: Reclaim the Couch and Rest.
Goal: Reclaim the Couch and Rest.

My wife and I were both floored to discover that Callie had reverted to being incredibly fearful of being reached out to from above, to having her neck touched first, and to being picked up by us when she would ask to get on the couch. The sofa being the one place she seemed to want to be most, sleeping between us.

She didn’t lose her newly learned skill of sitting or waiting, she hasn’t stopped responding when she called to; but we broke her trust, she’s reverted back to her initial fears, and I think it’s because we weren’t there at night more than anything else.

I haven’t left Callie alone for extended periods of time. She hasn’t been without me for more than a few hours yet. Part of that is purposeful, Callie is intended as a potential therapy dog, particularly for myself, and part is situational. I work from home and don’t go many places for hours.

Right now, as we’ve only had her for two months, I feel a bit like an idiot. I’m not surprised that she is reacting this way. At the same time, I worry that in the future she still won’t be able to be without us.

My parents are my planned go-to dog sitters, and maybe it would have been better if my daughter hadn’t been there exhausting Callie, or maybe Callie is going to struggle with going back to her fears.

I’m stuck for the moment on this issue.

A Little Bit of History, Part 2

 

gertie-in-color-copyWhen I was 8, my parents adopted an ex-breeder Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Gertrude, who was also 8 years old. The age was important to me as it felt like we grew up together. She was from another home and had been socialized, so she was much more relaxed than Callie.

 

Gertie, as we called her, was my best friend in the world. She was a little girl’s dream dog.

Gertie would let me dress her up in doll clothes and carry her everywhere. She was happy to have the attention and willing to do anything that didn’t involve exercise (she was a bit overweight.)

My father had built a beautiful doll bed that matched mine. She insisted that my parents tucked her in every night when they did so with me. As soon as they left the room, she would get up out of bed and sleep in front of the door, but that didn’t change the routine.

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The bed’s still around, in my daughter’s room at her grandparent’s house, so Callie just HAD to test it out 🙂

When my wife and I started to talk about getting a dog again, she said she wanted to stay small and fluffy. We also wanted to rescue and were ok with a mix. We talked about Papillons, Pomeranians (apparently stuck in the P’s for a little while) before I mentioned Cavaliers. I felt stupid not to have thought of them before.

Before Callie, I had applied to a rescue and was in the process of potentially adopting a Cavalier mix, but when she was cat-tested it was evident she wasn’t the dog for us. Super disappointment on my end.

And then, one day, I searched again in Petfinder and Callie popped up. I wasn’t sure about her at first. Gertie had been a Blenheim, the red and white coloring, and the other Cavalier CVCR had rescued was a Blenheim too. Plus, Callie had serious WOAH eyes in her picture. We could see the whites of her eyes the whole way around. The other dog looked more relaxed to me. But, my wife felt a connection with Callie, she loved her “wooly-bear eyebrows,” serious expression and her beautiful coloring. I really wish I had saved a copy of that picture!

The woman we spoke with at the rescue described “Shannon,” the other dog, as more outgoing, apt to settle in faster, more relaxed and Callie as reserved, a little more hesitant, loving but unsure.

So off we went. Me, doubtful that she would be the right one, my wife less so, but still ready to walk away. And then we met her. Sure, she was terrified in that environment. She hadn’t yet made it to a foster home. She would barely come near us, but when my wife finally managed to coax Callie into letting J pick her up and hold her in her lap, it was over. Callie started to relax a little bit, not much, but a little bit, and we decided we needed her as much as she needed us.

Isn’t that the truth.

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One of my favorite things that Callie loves to do is put my daughter to sleep.

My daughter is 7.5 yrs old, close to the age I was when my parents adopted Gertie, and absolutely in LOVE with Callie.

So both get tucked into bed after stories and my daughter talks or sings to Callie until she falls asleep. I call Callie “Nana” now, as in Peter Pan. Wonderful, beautiful dog 🙂

It’s funny, one of the main reasons we got a dog is because I do better with an anti-anxiety trained pet around. I had been hoping that Callie might be a trained as a therapy dog for me and, in the future, for others. Now it looks like any therapy work she will do will be with children and working with her will be my therapy. 🙂

A former puppy mill breeder, Callie is now a rescue dog exploring this crazy new world!

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