Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas with the Dogs

Gracie wears bow
Gracie shreds bow

It was a great holiday with the fur kids.  May be this was the first time either one of them had a family to celebrate with.  Gracie really enjoyed helping to curl the ribbons on the packages.

She wasn't really fond of wearing a bow.  

Dudley enjoyed sleeping by the tree and the fireplace.  

Friday, December 18, 2009

All Groomed for Santa!

We have been to the groomer and now we are ready for Santa to bring us some great stuff!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Celebrating Mom's Birthday

Gracie and Dudley did their best to wish me a happy birthday. We brought home take-out chicken dinners from White Fence farm and ate in the family room on TV trays.  What an exciting thing for the fur kids to be so close to the food and good smells.  After dinner, as a treat for me, they both sat close to me and we had a long petting session.

They both tried singing happy birthday - what could be better?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Getting to Know Dudley

On his first night here, Dudley let us know that he didn't intend to sleep alone in his x-pen. He barked until I moved him into Gracie's space. He settled right into her bed and she looked at me like, "mommmm!, he's touching my stuff". But it was 1am, so we didn't fuss about it and all was well. Stairs are a mystery to him but he knew right away that the good food came from the kitchen. He stands there as you prepare food with an alert look and cute smile on his fuzzy face, hoping to get a treat.
Gracie has been helping him learn the routine.  If he hesitates to come inside, she runs back outside next to him and then runs in as if to say, "here's how you do it - don't be afraid".  And it wasn't very long ago that she was afraid to come through the same door!
He has been with us a week and he does not come when called but he lets me carry him up & down the stairs and put his harness on for a walk or ride. In the car he puts his fuzzy face over the back seat and wishes he could jump up into the next seat. He cries a bit and I don't know if he is excited or anxious. Did he get left behind after a car ride? Is that why he cries? He likes going for walks. His stiff little legs propel him along. He and Gracie walk at about the same speed so I knew they'd be perfect together.



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gracie and Dudley

We've taken in another dog from the Rocky Mountain Collie Sheltie Rescue.  It was love at first sight!  His name is Dudley and he is 12 years old.  He is in rough shape and his background is not known.  He was picked up as a stray in Pueblo.  It seems that he has never lived in a house.  He is wobbly on his feet and missing a lot of fur.  On his first day, he cringed if you tried to pet him.  It is easy to feel all his bones.

He is so sweet and we hope to give him the best home he can have to enjoy his senior years.  We'll be trying to "do right" by Dudley.  

Gracie is going to help and whisper in his ear all she has learned after her freedom from the puppy mill.

He picked out a comfy place in the house - he thinks this is a lot better than where ever he has been living!

I'll repeat a quote I read from the Jul/Aug 09 Bark magazine, in an article called "Every Adoption Is a Miracle",  "every adoption is a miracle because you are taking something dark, and horrible and making it light again."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Attempting to play

Gracie is getting more bold. She is attempting to play. She will getting a goofy smile and a wicked little look as she charges me and sometimes touches her nose to mine.

It's been 8 months since she has come to live in our house. Some dog behaviorists believe if a dog hasn't learned to play in her first 4 months of development, she never will.

It isn't the kind of play you'd expect from your "normal" dog - but I'm so excited to see this progress being made. Somewhere in that dog is a spirit that she saved from the puppy mill. I'm hoping that like with people, her play, excitement, and happiness releases endorphins that feel good to her. I know I feel great!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Gracie Successfully Makes It Through the Agility Tunnel

It took several patient attempts - but hey that tunnel rocked and made scary noises!  On her 3rd attempt she did it in less than a minute and her forth attempt took less than 30 seconds.  OK, that won't win any trials but I was so very proud of her.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review of Spotlight GPS Dog Collar

I tested the Spotlight GPS dog collar made by Positioning Animals Worldwide, Inc. (PAW), an innovative GPS technology company, in conjunction with the American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery (AKC CAR).

I was very impressed with their customer service.  I did need to call a few times for clarification on properly using the unit and the website dashboard.  They could improve their documentation is some areas.  For example, there is no information telling you how to get the battery into the unit.  Users may be tempted to pry the door off - but this will break the small plastic hinge.  On the plus-side, they sent me a new battery door right away and explained that there was a sliding tab above the battery door that eliminated the need to pry it open.  If there had been some instructions or even a small arrow on the tab to indicate that it moved, I would have been less frustrated. 

Their product tracks my dog's position to within 5 yards and can send text alerts or browser-based tracking on Google maps. Customers buy the unit and activate a monitoring service. A browser-based dashboard allows you to configure tracking preferences and other settings. Read more about Spotlight GPS Locator - the product tour will sell you on this product.  One negative I experienced was the light on the Satellite connection indicator was frequently blinking red, which is supposed to mean that the unit is not connected to the satellite.   This did not bring me the full peace of mind I was hoping for.    There were a few times I got a message when trying to track her location from the dashboard that reported a connection was not available and to try back later.  Not what I'd want to see if she were really lost.  The customer service person reported that could have been when I was testing inside a building.  Also, the unit is reasonably bulky on a sheltie.      With a 30 day guarantee, this is a product worth trying to see if it works for you.

GPS Dashboard
Gracie's Route
Images of GPS Locator in Action.  Dashboard and 2 views of the tracking - images show the route she traveled and a close up of the streets and direction traveled. 

Close Up of dog location

Monday, August 31, 2009

Wonderful Video - God & Dog

So very true!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Agility and Socializing

Grace and Ice Cube

Shhh… don't tell Gracie but she thinks ice cubes are a treat – yippee, a no calorie treat!

This was a big weekend for Gracie. It was all about her! Saturday evening she tried her first "pre-agility" class. This class is really going to test her and we may be in over our heads. But I keep reading about how good it is for a dog's confidence and what a bonding activity it is – so we will keep trying. She never ceases to amaze us, so maybe she will be running around the arena after 5 weeks. Right now, she just cautiously steps out into the arena and suspiciously looks about. She doesn't seem to have much interest in trying to copy the show off dogs in the class.

Sunday was our first "Meet Up" activity. There were about 13 people and dogs that got together in the park for a cookout and short training session. Such nice people and dogs! Some dogs were "mutts" and some were not. We belong to this Meet Up group, http://www.meetup.com/Mile-High-Mutts/. Gracie is learning that the world has more nice people in it than she met in her first 7 years of life. These people are kind and stroke her and praise her.

dog friend Apple - Cattle Dog / Lab Mix

Dog Training lesson  Big dogs get a lesson

Dog Training Lesson Training for the small dogs - why are they all looking away from the trainer?

Shelties - new friends Gracie and her new friend Chloe (Sheltie mix)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Celebration Day!

Mom and Dad apologize that it took 8 years for you to finally get a Happy Birthday celebration, but according to your paperwork, you were taken from the puppy mill to a Nebraska City vet on August 18, 2008. We are calling this your birthday!!!

Three Dog Bakery provided a small birthday cake, which is on Gracie's nose and fur – but that happy face says it all.

This quote I read from the Jul/Aug 09 Bark magazine, in an article called "Every Adoption Is a Miracle" sums it all up.  "Every adoption is a miracle because you are taking something dark, and horrible and making it light again."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Taking in the Sunset

Gracie is looking into a beautiful sunset at Clement Park.  The orange light is beginning to color her white fur.  The temperature was in the 80's and lots of people were out enjoying the lake.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Gracie Likes MJ

I'm so happy to have found something (besides food) that makes Gracie wiggle and wag her tail. She doesn't even mind me singing like Michael Jackson. I customized his ABC song for a sheltie and got her to wag and dance. Snapping fingers really gets her going.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Road Trip – What A Day!

Graci in Car

Whew – we drove 2 hours down to Pueblo to meet the person responsible for rescuing Gracie from a puppy mill and getting her into our arms. Gracie didn't want to miss a minute of the ride, so she sat there on high alert the whole way.

At the headquarters for the Pueblo Collie Sheltie Rescue, we met Hope and some other dedicated dog lovers, plus lots of dogs. We were there to see Teddy and to find out if he would be a match for us. He is a magnificent dog – we are giving him careful consideration.

Teddy Sheltie Trifecta

Mom was very impressed with how Grace interacted with the other dogs and she almost looked like a leader to 2 of the latest puppy mill rescue dogs. They were scared little girls and reminded us a little of Grace, although Grace wasn't quite as frightened as they are. She was even brave enough to go sit between Mom and Dad on the grass – her first time to do that.

On the way home, we saw a rainbow. Maybe my buddy River was saying "Hi" and she approved from the other side of the Rainbow bridge.
Rainbow Bridge

It was such a big day, Mom got a picture of me soundly snoozing in my bed this morning. I didn't even hear her sneak in.  We had a really good time.

Dog Bed

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Sad Day for Mom and Dad

River passed away today and we are all very sad.

5 days later...  we really miss you River girl.

Photo album of pictures.

On the other side
of the bridge to forever,
our animal friends
wait for us.

Goodbye hurts so much.
But some day you’ll think of
your animal friend with smiles instead of tears.
And it will feel as if this little soul,
left a rainbow in your heart.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gracie graduates from dog training class

Grace at the Dog Groomers

It was a big day for Gracie. She went to the groomer and then graduation from her basic obedience class. I am so proud of her! She was very brave at the groomers. The ladies at "It's A Dog's Life" took the time to learn about her and make, what I assume is her first professional groomer experience, a comfortable one for her. She got her nails trimmed, a bath, and a nice brushing and cut all without complaint. She is beautiful, if I do say so myself.
All groomed!

She was a little cranky with a couple of the pups at dog class that wanted to romp – maybe she thought they'd mess up her new doo. Her trainer Lisa explained that she gave an appropriate response to move the pups out of her space. I think we both felt a little embarrassed by her crankiness – but she calmed down and even tried to catch a nap. At the end of class, the dogs got their photos taken with their graduating caps. Too cute. The positive reinforcement and good manners she learned from Lisa (WagWag) got her off to a good start in her new home. She did very well – even if her favorite command seemed to be "settle" – for which she got to lay down and get the occasional treat for just laying there. She is a very smart dog indeed.
Diploma from WagWag   Grace with Graduation Cap

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Does your state have a "puppy friendly pet store"?

The Puppy Friendly Pet Stores initiative asks dog lovers everywhere to work with their local pet stores to encourage them to develop and implement "puppy friendly" policies by refusing to sell puppies in their store and supporting homeless pet adoptions instead. Stores that already do not sell puppies can sign up to show that they are taking a stand against puppy mills and to "make official" their policy of not selling puppies.
Read more about the Puppy Friendly Pet Stores Initiative.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gracie Goes to PetsMart

Today was Gracie's first visit to PetsMart. She loved it. She walked in the door and was delighted to see adults, kids, and dogs. She spun around and parked herself in the middle of the entry floor to greet the people coming in. She enjoyed meeting people – maybe because everyone she meets tells her how beautiful she is. There was so much to explore! Dog bowls, kibble on the floor from a broken bag, an aisle of rawhide treats. Wow! What a great place. She left very happy – but kept looking back in the parking lot. We'll be going back to PetsMart soon!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flashback? Dogs with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Gracie had an odd episode the other night that I have to classify as a "flashback". I emailed the experienced folks at PSCR and started looking online.

Here is what happened - the other night, when I got home from work, I was petting her and our other dog in our kitchen, as we do every evening. Suddenly Gracie yelped very loudly and ran across the kitchen. She stopped for a moment, then yelped again and went racing upstairs and under our office desk.
It was almost as if something shot her to cause her to yelp, jump and then bolt. I can't imagine what triggered this. And she has never done this before.

She held her front paw up as if it was hurt and I was able to get her to come out and lifted her up onto the bed to inspect her paw. There wasn't anything stuck and I was able to move it about. I placed her back on the floor but she would not come back downstairs. I had to place her food in a different room than the kitchen. She did
venture into the kitchen when we sat down to eat our dinner. She also went for her nightly walk without a problem and doesn't have any trouble going up and down the stairs - so she seems fine to walk, her paw was not injured. I can't figure out what made her yelp and become so fearful. There were no different sounds or activities in the house to trigger this. It is almost as if she was having a flashback or imagining something happening to cause her pain. It made me very sad and it feels like all the progress she has made just vanished in a flash for no reason I can determine. What little joy she had left her.

The Wisconsin Puppy Mill site has an article about PTSD in puppy mill dogs.

I found this story on Best Friends, "They just want to be loved and want to love back" and wrote to Dr. Frank. I asked him, "Do you believe there is such a thing as PTSD in dogs or have you heard of dogs acting this way without provocation."

This was his reply:

"There is no question that dogs have their own form of PTSD.  We don't have a full understanding of it yet (which shouldn't surprise anyone, since we don't yet have a full understanding of the condition in human beings). The obvious difficulty for us is that we can't simply ask Gracie what was going on in her mind during her episode.  But what you describe is certainly consistent with a re-experiencing of psychological trauma.  The good news is that the vast majority of dogs showing these unusual behaviors do continue on with an upward progress in their recovery.  These end up being setbacks that can last days or even weeks, but, again, the overall trend is a positive one."

A couple days have passed and she is coming back to the level of interaction and happiness she had.  Everyone tells me to just accept her for where she is at .  I can do that and it helps to know that although worrisome, it can be overcome with time and patience.

Monday, April 27, 2009

So Excited For Dinner!

Gracie really loves her food. We are treated to her tap dancing routine every morning and evening as she urges me to put food in her bowl. It was within days of her arrival at our house that she let us see this side of her personality. So far, it is only over food that she gets this animated. We are going to do our own kind of tap dance when she comes out of her shell and we see this happy side of her more often.

Today we celebrate Gracie's two month anniversary with us.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gracie goes to school

Gracie recently started a basic dog obedience class to give her confidence. I was worried that perhaps it would be overwhelming, but Gracie bravely greeted other people and dogs in her class. On her first night, she intently listened to the teacher and she watched the other owners interact with their dogs. She sat at my feet and looked up in a long, loving stare which I could only interpret as "thank you for believing that I could do this". She is trying so hard to be a "normal" dog and I think she was genuinely pleased that I had asked her to try training.

She was pretty puzzled when I held out a treat and asked her to sit. She began to suspiciously run around me, wondering what I was trying to pull – but eventually she plopped her tail down – and much to her surprise, she got a treat. Hmmm… I could see the gears turning in her mind. Now she is sitting pretty reliably – even when I haven't asked her to yet (sorry, no treat for that!). She is also getting good at down on command – which wasn't hard since a puppy mill rescue is used to freezing and dropping to the ground. Learning to stay is more of a challenge.

Here are a few photos from Gracie at her 2nd class.
thanks for believing in me
Gracie at WagWag.net training 
Gracie at WagWag.net training

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Paw to Hand – Show me some lovin’

The first day when Gracie arrived at our house, I sat on the floor and waited for her to come to me. I'm sure she wondered what happened to her foster mom and the house she had been staying at for the last 6 weeks. Now she was with us. The very first thing she did after I stroked her head was to reach her paw out and put it on top of my hand. That went straight to my heart -could there be a doubt she’d found her forever home?

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Most Amazing Group - Pueblo Collie Sheltie Rescue


I can’t say enough good things about PCSR.  The people and the dogs are outstanding.  Get to know them!

Web site: http://pueblocolliesheltie.org/

YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/PuebloCollieSheltie

My Space with Videos: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.channel&ContributorID=36675207

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/people/Pueblo-Collie-Sheltie-Rescue/100000064726712

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Caring for Puppy Mill Survivors

We went into adopting Gracie solely based on our knowledge of adopting our first Sheltie from our local dog shelter. Our first dog, Lady, had a name and a family that cared for her until they took her to the Denver Animal Shelter and relinquished her at the age of six. Gracie never had a name. Gracie never had people pet her. Gracie was basically livestock. It was only after we had her in our house and started searching for more information about taking care of puppy mill dogs that we realized the extra challenges we could face.

It was probably a blessing to not have read about the many issues a puppy mill dog may have, because we might have been too freaked out by the information to have taken Gracie.

The Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project has a wealth of information on "Caring for Unsocialized Mill Dogs". They make the case that puppy mill dogs suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Reading the articles on their site helped us to understand the mind set of our new little sheltie.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Background on Puppy Mills

Wikipedia states, "There are an estimated 4,000 puppy mills in the U.S. that produce more than half a million puppies a year."

I had heard of puppy mills but until we adopted Gracie, I had never looked into their history.

When I was a kid, I learned the song, "How Much is That Doggie in The Window".  It was about wiggly puppies and it fed my love for dogs.  Now I can never think of that song again with fond childhood memories.  The cost is too high and it perpetuates puppy mill breeding.

The ASPCA advises, "Do not buy a puppy from a pet store—in fact, do not buy a puppy from any place that does not allow you to see its entire facility and meet the mother dog. This includes websites that sell pets online."

To learn more, take the time to read materials posted here by the ASPCA: http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/puppy-mills/

Advice from the ASPCA on where to get a dog and what you need to look out for.

My Housemate, River

Meet River. She is a blue merle Sheltie. She was adopted in 1997 as a breeder release.

She is sweet and mellow. She has been invaluable in helping Gracie adjust to home life and seeing what being a house dog is all about.

One of her most endearing quirks is her "couch dance", which must be performed before each nightly walk.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Background Story

I want to tell you a story of a journey and of our amazing Grace. I am not a dog expert, just your average dog person. Every day I learn something new. In my forty-some years, I've had six dogs, all but one a Sheltie.

To set the stage, the story begins on January 1, 2009, when our beloved Sheltie of 12 years, Liberty (Libby) passes away. New Years Day was an ordinary day and we walked in the park and did all the usual things. By evening, something was wrong. Libby was panting very hard and would not eat her dinner. We rushed her to the emergency vet and within a few hours she was gone from heart failure and fluid in her lungs. She was the quintessential Sheltie and she left behind a mom (me/Sue) and dad (Mark) and fur sister (River). The house was so quiet and we missed her so much.

After some time passed, we started thinking about another dog. River probably would have been fine as an only dog, but everything in our lives was set up for two dogs. We knew there were so many good, deserving dogs in need of a home, so our search began.

We didn't really know that this was the beginning of a whole different journey and we don't know all the twists and bumps that are on this road – but we are sure that this will be an amazing ride.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Libby, Gracie’s predecessor

This is Libby. She passed away on Jan. 1, 2009. Gracie's photo was posted on the Pueblo Collie Sheltie Rescue Site on Jan. 2nd.

Libby was adopted in 1997 as a breeder release. She was the quintessential Sheltie. She was happy, vocal, and everyone and everything was her friend.

She had so many wonderful quirks, but one of our favorites was "car herding" from the safety of an over-pass bridge.

Eli's Tail Shakes the Christmas Tree

My brother's dog Eli was the center of attention on Christmas morning when he positioned himself with his tail amongst the ornaments. We hated to laugh, but it was inevitable.