Busy Bee

We have been lucky here in Nashville to have had some bee-you-tee-ful weather in the past few weeks. After being cooped up all winter, hibernating and hiding from the Polar Vortex, we have been taking full advantage of it!

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All of the walks and sun-loungings in the world cannot compete with Cooper’s favorite spring time activity: chasing carpenter bees.

We’re not too surprised Coop enjoys passing his time this way. The bees are big, slow-moving tempting targets, and Cooper has displayed similar tendencies with water hoses and snowballs. Although, I have a feeling that the first time he actually catches a bee might be the last time he attempts it!

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“Imma getchoo, bee.”

~

 

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Oscar’s Adventures in Agility: Week 4

We decided to put Oscar in agility class for a few reasons. Cooper has been getting a lot of attention with his TTouch sessions, and his own round through agility and other training classes. Poor Oscar, being the perfectly calm confident good boy that he is, has been getting left a home alone, bored out of his gourd, while Cooper got to go out and have all the fun! No freakin’ fair.

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“Le sigh….”

The second, and if we’re being totally honest here, probably the main reason we decided to put Oscar in agility class is that even though on the whole he’s a pretty well-adjusted guy, he does have his kryptonite: the kitchen floor. For some reason the tile just freaks him out. He’s fine if he has his next non-tile surface in sight – he can go from rug to rug in a straight line, no problem. But if he has to round a corner, fuhgeddaboudit. It simply cannot be done without plenty of whining and whimpering and “COME SAVE ME!” panic.  Seriously, it’s embarrassing.

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So our goal with agility was to help Oscar gain some confidence on unfamiliar surfaces. For the first few weeks, as we expected, Oscar did great jumping over and running through things. But the obstacle we just knew would give us trouble was on the horizon – the dreaded teeter totter. Thankfully, dog trainer extraordinaire Kat Martin is no dummy, she knows that you don’t expect (most) dogs to just jump up on something like the teeter totter with no preparation. So, we work up to it. Enter: the wobble board.

The idea with the wobble board is for Oscar to associate the wobbley-ness with Very Good Things (i.e. hot dogs). Oscar was pretty nervous starting out, so at first anytime he just put his foot on the board he got rewarded. There were other dogs in the class who just walked right over top of it and off the other side completely unphased – obviously, we’re not quite there yet.

Luckily, as much as the wobble board (and eventually the teeter totter) will take some serious work, Oscar seems to be a natural at the rest of the obstacles. After just four weeks, we could not be more proud of his progress. Check out our boy:

Of course we’re not flawless, but he’s totally killin’ it, and that tail never stops wagging. Oscar and Dad and I all had a total blast during this class, and we can’t wait for the next session to start!

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“Imma make that wobble board my b*tch, just you wait and see…”

For more information about Agility or other training classes with Dogs and Kat, visit www.dogsandkat.com.

~

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Oscar Goes Agili-doggin’!

Hello blog-o-sphere! Oscar-man here. I know, I know, it’s been awhile since I shared my wonderful bloggings with you, and I’m sorry for that – really, truly I am! It’s just that I have had a very busy 2014 so far. So very much to accomplish!! First, I had to do some serious snuggle-hiding through a Polar Vortex,

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Then, I got my vicious chompers cleaned at the doggie dentist, and I had to get a needle in my arm! Ouch-a-bunga!

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I’ve spent lots of time perfecting my “insisting” face. This is the one I make when I simply must have something from the human-folk.

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I must be getting good at it, because they’re starting to catch on.

Also, I had to turn FOUR!

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Not to mention, my hosting duties were called into play when I had to entertain various guests this spring, including my Aunt Amy.  Don’t we make a cute pair?

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Don’t let her face fool you, she loves my sweet kisses.

So as you can see, my year has been jam-packed with activity so far. Surely I would be ready for a break, wouldn’t you think? Well THINK AGAIN! This Oscar-man is ready for some FUN!  And I knew exactly what sort of funs I wanted. I had to listen to my silly brother go on and on about all of his funs he had during his agili-doggin’ last year, and I just knew that being the older-bigger-smarter-taller-better-looking brother, not only could I do anything silly brother could do, but I could probably do it way better. I So I begged Momma and Daddy to take me to agili-playground so I could have some fun too. And guess what?  This Oscar is taking to the Agility Course!!  And kicking it’s tail, if I do say so myself.

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Well I mean, OK, maybe I am a little bit scardy-pants about that weird tube thing, but after I saw that my Dad wasn’t scared of it, I put on all my braves and I ran right through there!

By the end of my agili-class, I am going to kick my silly brother’s tail and jumpings and runnings, you just wait and see!

For more information about Agility Class with Dogs & Kat, check out dogsandkat.com.

~

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Guest Post: Presley

Today’s post comes from a dear friend and animal lover. Shelley is an Agape Animal Rescue foster parent and Animal Rescue Corps Volunteer. Her current foster dog, Presley, came from a horrible situation and is being overlooked for adoption, we think because of the ever dreaded Black Dog Syndrome. So, wonderful blog readers, I’d like to introduce you now to….PRESLEY! 

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Presley…what would I say about my little foster dog?  Hmm, well to explain how awesome she is, I need to first explain where she came from and how I met her. It was a terrible place.  (Please skip down to “HAPPY STUFF” if you do not want to learn the definition of “terrible place.”)

It was called Operation Unbridled Spirit. In September 2013, Animal Rescue Corps was able to go in and rescue 120+ dogs from hell. More than 120 dogs were removed from a property (aka PUPPY MILL), where females are bred with every heat, usually when they are still puppies themselves, to churn out babies for profit. The mothers usually suffer the most, as their bodies are exhausted from continual pregnancy, lack of medical care, good nutrition, healthy drinking water, human companionship, etc. In this particular case, there were about 4-6 dogs in each “box” with a male stud dog. This was their life. A box with a doggie door that allowed them outside to wire bottom footing to pee/poop. The babies are then stripped from (usually sick, unhealthy) moms and sold on the internet, to puppy stores, or on the side of the road. This is why we do not purchase puppies this way.

Once removed from the property, they were brought to an emergency shelter for emergent medical treatment, assessment and once legal, to get placed into rescue groups that were willing to continue their medical care and work with them socially to get them ready for lives inside with a family. Basically, to get them healthy and teach them how to be a family dog like you and I know. 

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I was fortunate enough to work at the emergency shelter, where our jobs were to medically treat and care for the dogs and also to hold/cuddle the dogs to get them used to more handling and human contact. (Sounds tough, huh?)
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Presley, in particular, previously known as FF113 (see mugshot, above), was found to have chronic ear infections. She was in so much pain. The vet believes she is approximately 5 years old. Assuming she’s lived in this Puppy mill/box for 5 years, that means she’s had pain for her entire life! I had to hold her while the vet tried to clean her ears, so we could get the medicine in to help cure her. Her ears were swollen closed and she has chronic scar tissue from years of scratching at them, desperately trying to signal her pain and comfort herself. Poor baby, it was so painful, we actually had to put her under to clean them well. Her ear has chronic scar tissue, indicative of years of chronic ear infections. The vet believes this is due to food allergies. Of course, this is what eventually sealed my fate as her “godmother” and foster mom!  Now moving on from the terrible place…and living in the “now”…

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HAPPY STUFF

Once the dogs were legally cleared for placement, Agape Animal Rescue stepped up and took 28 dogs (34 total after all the pregnant dogs delivered)!

 {Can we pause and clap for them stepping it up to take so many needy dogs? Can you imagine the medical bills??}

Presley was the last dog taken by Agape. When I found out that she had not been chosen by any of the rescues (short hair, black dogs are sometimes overlooked for the cuter spotted fuzzy dogs) and dogs were moving out of the shelter left and right…I had to speak up for my sweet little tolerant girl.

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The vet says that her chronic ear infections are due to a food allergy. Poor thing itches all over her body, all the time. We are still working to figure out exactly what she is allergic to. (She is currently on prescription dog food, but once we get the itching to stop, we can start adding things slowly to see if she reacts). I am looking forward to discovering what it is!!!

I brought Presley into my home. I took this picture the first day, don’t those eyes just melt your heart?

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She got her first bath

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and a good hearty meal….and went straight to find a comfy dog bed for a nap.

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It has been a pleasure to watch her grow and learn! See, she currently lives with 2 older dogs, and she has been a great student! They have been showing her how to have “house manners” and other good stuff such as…

how to choose the right comfy spots to sleep…

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how to walk nicely on a leash with a harness

how to get onto a bed

(now she has learned to use the doggy stairs)….  

how nice it is to snuggle up under the covers and sleep in a human armpit or behind your knees…..

how to potty outside {side note: On Presley’s first day, she followed my dogs right out the doggy door to potty…and she knows what to do. She attempted to pee, ONE TIME, on the mat by the door, once removed, there were no more mistakes }.

She has also learned quickly how to sit, lie down, and we are always working on “wait.”

Presley did not know what toys were, or how to play with them. Nor did she play with the other dogs. It was about one month after she came to live with me, until the “light turned on.” I was sitting on the floor with her, trying to get her to show some interest in a toy. She picked it up, but didn’t really know what to do with it, so she just dropped it. Her foster sister, Rosie, walked by….Presley stopped, looked at Rosie and dropped into her first play bow! After that, she and Rosie played all day long! I teared up!!!! Even better, I got some of it on video! It was like watching her wake up and enjoy life for the first time!

She is such a sweet little girl, who’s nubby tail is constantly in motion. All you have to do is say her name…and that tail kicks into high gear!!!

She has a few nicknames…Pres Pres (my favorite, that she now actually answers to), Happy Tail, Happy, Little Ms Impatient, Cuddle Bug, Love Bug, and Blackie (affectionately given by my boyfriend).

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She makes me laugh daily…and there are so many more pictures to share….here’s a video…but you should only watch this if you like to see super cute dogs!!!

She has the biggest brown eyes, and she knows how to use them. She happily lets me brush her teeth, but she HATES getting her nails clipped….we are working on that :-)   She has a cute little habit of “talking” too….since she’s black, it’s very hard to get a good video of her, but if you’re ready for some severe cuteness, this is a short clip of her “talking” when she gets excited…

**UPDATE 4/5/14** Presley has been adopted!! Congratulations to Presley, her new forever mom, and of course to foster mom Shelley and Agape Animal Rescue

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A Very Cooper Christmas

A lot of our posts lately have centered around what it means for Cooper now that he is a permanent member of our family. This whole next year will be filled with “Coopers first ____________ as a member of our family.”  And next week, Cooper will experience a big one: Cooper’s first Christmas!

Of course you remember that Cooper was with us last year for the holidays. He got a whole round of “first” that week, too – he got to travel out-of-state, stay in a hotel, pretend to be a “city dog,” and experience snow for the first time. But this year, we’re staying put here in Nashville, so Cooper will get to see what Christmas Morning is all about. His excitement is contagious.

"I hear there's some dude in a red suit gonna try to break in here while we're asleep. Not on my watch."

“I hear there’s some dude in a red suit gonna try to break in here while we’re asleep. Not on my watch.”

There were a few items we had to secure this year now that Cooper is a family member. He already has his own stocking, so we could check that off the list early.

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Oscar has his own Christmas ornament,

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…so of course Cooper needed one too.

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We’re also a big fan of the photo holiday cards, so naturally Cooper’s gorgeous mug had to be included this year.

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And finally, Cooper was forced to got to partake in my own little annual tradition of getting embarrassed dressed up to take the photo for next year’s Christmas card.

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He put his paw down at the antlers.

Wishing you and yours a happy-merry-jolly holiday season, from our family to yours!

~

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Why We Adopted Cooper: Part I

Cooper has been an official member of our family for two months now. All the reactions we’ve gotten have been positive, but the ones that stand out are the “We knew it!” and “What took you so long?” ones. We actually started thinking about adopting Cooper a very long time ago, and there was a lot for us to consider. So, if you were wondering, here’s what took us so long….

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If there was a “Meant to Be” family for Cooper out there somewhere, we wanted to make every effort to find them. We’re five-for-five finding the perfect match for our foster dogs since we started fostering. Even with one that we had to “try again” with, she ended up in the most perfect place for her. So, even with all of Cooper’s quirks, we always held out hope that his perfect match might be “out there somewhere” and just hadn’t found him yet. The longer that Cooper was with us, the harder it got to believe that they existed – but we had to try to find them. We owed it to Cooper, and to this mystery family who might be looking for Their Dog.

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We’re a foster family. Adopting Cooper would end that. We LOVE fostering! We love the excitement and anticipation of bringing a new dog into our home. We love teaching them basic manners and how to be part of a family. We love seeing their progress, and we even love letting them go – because then comes the absolute best part, seeing them happy and loved in with their new families. However, after two back-to-back stints with three pups, we decided firmly that we are a two-dog household - especially when one of those pups is as high maintenance as Cooper. We knew that if we made the leap and adopted Cooper, it would  be the end of our fostering days, and we were very reluctant to let that part of our lives go

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And finally, I’m just going to bring the honesty hammer down here…

It isn’t what we wanted. I am oozing with Momma guilt as I say this, because as I look down at a snoozing Cooper I can’t begin to imagine my life without him.  But, the truth is, Cooper is not an easy dog.  

He barks at any vehicle larger than a sedan that drives past our house, the and any person walking down the street.  We can’t run the vacuum cleaner, the blender or the paper shredder with him in the house. We can’t take Cooper to our friends or families houses with dogs. Friends can’t bring their dogs over to our house (with exactly one exception). A trip out-of-town means getting a pet-sitter or finding a dog-friendly hotel (and keeping our fingers crossed that he doesn’t cause any damage).  Even a simple trip to the vet requires leaving Cooper in the car, running inside to let them know we’re here, then waiting in the car with Cooper until the vet tech comes outside to let us know the coast is clear and we have a safe path through the waiting room.  Outdoor dog-friendly festivals? No way. Dog parks? Forget it.

These things, among others, are the reality of a life with Cooper, and a life with a reactive dog isn’t the life we wanted for ourselves. It wasn’t so much that we didn’t “want” Cooper, it’s that we didn’t know if we were ready to commit to the life that came with owning a dog like Cooper. Maybe we were selfish for thinking this way, but it’s the honest truth. We would have wanted any potential adopter to think long and hard about what it meant to add a reactive dog to the family, so we had to do the same.  

But when it came right down to it, after weighing the pros and cons, the answer was clear.  Because Love makes you do crazy things, abandon all logic and reason. We were in Love. We wanted Cooper to be with us Furever and that’s all there is to it. So, he’s Ours.

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Stay tuned for Why We Adopted Cooper: Part II – what pushed us over the edge.

~

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Touch Me, Babe

Just because we’ve made Cooper a permanent resident around here doesn’t mean we’re about to slack off on his training. Our job as Cooper’s People is to help him be the absolute best Cooper he can be. Let’s catch up, shall we?

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As you may remember, Cooper has anxiety. He had über separation anxiety when he first joined our household, thankfully that’s subsided substantially – I would even say completely, if I didn’t believe in jinxing myself. Cooper also has anxiety about the vacuum cleaner, the blender, the paper shredder, the lawn mower, the mailman, and the guy who walks past our house on the way to the bus at the exact same time every single day.  Those things would be manageable enough, but the main issue of Cooper’s anxiety lays with two Very Scary Things: other dogs and children.

Cooper has been through Basic Obedience, Relaxed Rovers (twice) and even Agility classes. The idea was to give Cooper confidence as well as to give Dad and I tools to help Cooper trust us and learn that when he gets nervous, there’s no need to freak out, the People have everything under control.

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Recently we added a new weapon in our arsenal to battle Cooper’s anxiety: Tellington TTouch.  Linda Tellington-Jones developed TTouch in the 1970′s while working with horses. Since then, the technique has been found to be helpful on companion animals as well. According to their website, TTouch has been known to help in cases of:

- Excessive Barking and Chewing
- Leash Pulling
- Jumping Up
- aggressive Behavior
- Extreme Fear and Shyness
- Resistance to Grooming
- Excitability and Nervousness
- Car Sickness
- Problems Associated With Aging

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Miss Penny offering some nice soothing touches for Cooper.

There are hundreds of certified TTouch practitioners all over the world, and one of them is right here in Nashville. Miss Penny is an animal lover and Agape Animal Rescue volunteer and foster mom. She’s donated her time to help other Agape foster dogs, like Operation Freedom veteran Angel, overcome their demons. When Miss Penny heard that Cooper was having a hard time learning to relax, she though that TTouch might be the perfect thing to help him figure it out.

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Think of TTouch as focused doggy massage. Miss Penny works with Cooper rubbing his muscles in specific spots and targeting pressure points with light repetitive touches and circular motions. An important aspect of TTouch is for Miss Penny to build trust between her and Cooper – she encourages Cooper to engage with her, but she never forces the relationship. If Cooper wants to take a break, he’s allowed to walk away.

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Now I’ve only recently heard of TTouch so I’m no expert – I don’t know what’s going on inside Cooper’s little body and mind when he’s working with Miss Penny, but I DO know that Cooper has never looked more relaxed in all the time I’ve known him than when he’s under her healing hands.

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Miss Penny has been involved in TTouch since 1982.  She says, “Through decades of exploring healing practices, I have never found a single modality as powerful and effective as Tellington TTouch.  Simple, gentle touches and movements affect the receiver on mental, physical and emotional levels.  TT reduces pain, speeds physical healing, promotes soundness, releases anxiety, changes behavior, leads to self confidence, improves bonding…so many things.  With such a long list of benefits, it can sound like snake oil, but like good nutrition, TT affects every aspect of an animal.”

Cooper has now had about half a dozen TTouch sessions with Miss Penny and every time she leaves, he’s diminished to a big pile of Cooper-mush for the rest of the day. Is it helping with his anxiety? It’s hard to say.  Time, training, and practice will tell. What I can tell you is this – Cooper has now made it through two entire episodes of Pit Bulls and Parolees without going berserk at barking dogs on TV. That, my friends – is growth.

Have any of you worked with TTouch? Has it helped your pets? Please share your experiences below!

~

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