Monday, May 31, 2010

Little dogs, big rats?

I hate to admit it, but in past years, I wasn't much of a little dog person. Or at least that's what I told myself. Seems I'm quite the little dog person after all. That being said, I'm not totally sure my affinity for rats didn't affect my perception of little dogs. After all, they are an awful lot alike. I really noticed that this morning.

Minding my own business on the couch, I was suddenly attacked by two wrestling, tail wagging monsters with tiny paws (that would be Cody and Ginger). Once they settled down, they were both in my lap and Ginger had her front arms wrapped around Cody's head and started "grooming" him if you will. You know, where they take just their front teeth and nibble at the fur, skin like they are cleaning it, which they may well be I guess. Anyway, that is a behavior that is extremely common in rats. In fact, it is a social norm to be quite honest. She was just going to town and he was eating up the attention. I remember watching my rats do that and thinking how amazing it was that a creature who is so dreaded and feared by so many could be so compassionate about another. Well, it is partially a way of asserting heirarchy, but it is also a social thing. Rats are REALLY clean regardless of what folks think. To be honest, probably cleaner than dogs.(sorry my furry babies but you know it's true!:-)

It's funny how we look at creatures as being so different because they appear to be different on the outside. But are they really all that different? In my opinion, they really aren't. Granted, rats are a prey species and dogs are on the predator end of things, but when it boils down to it, they are very similar in many, many ways. Amazing what pops in your head on a lazy holiday morning. . .
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Thank you

Though I realize it's not nearly enough to just say thank you, I still want to send a genuine "Thank You" to all of our troops, their families and friends.  They make the ultimate sacrifice so that we have the freedom to live the lives we choose.  I'm not one who agrees with war and such things, but I am absolutely appreciative of those who fight for what they believe and sacrifice so that others may have a better life.  Let's be sure to remember what today is about:  Being grateful to and remembering all those who have served in the past or who are currently serving.  There is no greater sacrifice for our country and no greater loss than when we lose those who fight for the greater good.  God bless you all and once again, thank you. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rainy moment

I was out working in my yard setting up a new bed next to the white door of my shed (not there in this pic) when all of a sudden I look up and see a wall of rain coming across from the other side of the neighbor's house! Talk about wierd! All the dogs were outside with me and we just barely made it in before these mondo raindrops started to fall!
It made me think of this picture I just snapped of Lexy with Goldy one day last week (or maybe the week before.) Lexy's fur is so think that I've started putting a raincoat on her when she goes outside and it's raining, even a little. Her fur is so thick that it takes FOREVER to dry. She looks kind of goofy, but purple is definitely a good color for her:-)

Goldy is doing great. He seems to have no fear of rain, thunder or anything else weather related. He happily allowed my dog sitter to let him out with the rest of my gang while I was out of town this past weekend and over the last couple of weeks when I needed help. He's potty trained for the most part. He still doesn't quite know how to tell me he's got to go yet. Completely crate trained and if I let him out frequently, not a single accident. He's only had one. That was yesterday when I fell asleep with him out which I don't normally do. I woke up when I heard him potty on a container (which in his defense has been marked and washed in the past.) He immediately went to the back door when I started hollering for him to potty outside! Didn't seem to be afraid of me later, even after the hollering. I think he knew. He's still not great on the leash, but at least he doesn't thrash around like he did. I haven't had a ton of time to work with him though. He is so eager to please and LOVES treats so he learns quickly. He has mastered sit and still lets me wipe his paws when he comes in. His coat has gotten really shiny since I've gotten his winter coat mostly out now. He's gentle with treats and such a sweetheart. This guy is going to make some family super happy. He's an all around sweetheart!

Thanks to those of you who have been asking about Butler. He's still not in good health, but he seems to be reasonably happy:-) Can't ask for too much more than that with his age. I bought some blueberry bushes on sale to add to the ones in my back yard and we had our first blueberries today!! He liked those very much. (He's always loved fresh blueberries, but we've never had them from our own garden till today!) Goes to show, you need to read the information when you get a plant you are unfamiliar with! Apparently you need to have more than one variety for good pollination. I've had 2 blueberry bushes in the yard for almost 3 years now and they've never produced fruit. They still haven't, but the one's I just got sure did! The whole reason I even bought them initially is so that I could have good, fresh, organic blueberries here for the rats. Only Butler was able to sample them, but I'm glad he did. I have some peas and carrots that are about ready to harvest and I imagine he's going to love those as well!! And I don't have to worry about any kind of creepy stuff on them other than maybe bird poo, lol. So they will still get washed:-)

I think it has stopped raining. Hope it's dry enough to get back to work!
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My boy Butler

Not everybody gets the rat thing and that's okay. It's almost hard to remember what life was like before I had my rats. Butler here, he's the last rattie boy in my life right now and he's just not doing so hot. He's a little old fart, with little old man issues. His back legs don't work exactly right. Sometimes he's crabby and pushes my hand out of the box because he doesn't want to be bothered (yup, I've had days I'd like to be able to push people out of my box too:-) He doesn't have his brothers to help groom him anymore and I am a poor substitute for a fur groomer, though I do try. Now on top of everything else, he's dealing with the same respiratory issues that took his brothers home:-(

It's all part of life. The joy of the babies when they first come home, the giggles and wonder of watching how intelligent and loving such small creatures can be. The social order that is none too different from our canine pals. Then they start to slow down. The wild abandoned is replaced with more mellow activities. The daily routine in itself can sometimes bring happiness. Butler is 2 and a half years old. That's pretty old by rat standards. Some folks will tell you they can live for up to 5 years and longer. Man, how I wish that was my experience. My oldest lived rat was just a month over 3. and his last several months were not the healthiest for him.

One of the hardest things about having a fur family is when one gets sick and he's older and I have to start thinking about the fact that I really have to watch to be sure his quality of life is good. I'm going out of town this weekend for a wedding and Butler is not in the best of shapes. I've cancelled many plans in the past to be sure that I could be there for my critters if they needed me. This wedding is something I can't cancel. My niece, who has had a very nearly hellish life, is getting married to a good man. I've missed many things in her life, for one reason or another, that happens, I know. But there are many special reasons I just can't miss this. She also has 4 kids, one of which I haven't even met yet, though he's a baby and 3 others I haven't seen in nearly two years. That's way too long to stay away from the folks you love, but sometimes it can't be helped. Now Butler is not well and I'm very worried he just might not make it through the weekend. I've always worried and hated the possibility that one of my animals would die alone. I'm almost neurotic about it, truth be told. This is one of those times that I wish I could be more like my critters. They accept death and don't worry about the "possiblity" of what could happen.

Butler is my last little rat boy and due to other choices I've made, he will have to be my last rat for a long time. Even though he and my last few boys have been given really good lives, they just weren't the same as rats I've had in the past. When the time comes to get more, I will only do so if I can give them that life. I will probably be retired when that happens (and oh, boy, I've still got a long way to go.) So as I ramble on and on about depressing things, ugh! please give your babies, furry or human (or any other kind of critter you may have) a big hug and please think good thoughts that Butler will feel better or if not, at least that if it has to be, that he will go in peace knowing he is loved.
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Petfinder photos

We've updated Goldy's petfinder photos! Now he looks so handsome and confident. I didn't realize quite how young he is when I took him in. He's not even a year old yet!!!! He'll be a year in early June so we're not really to far off. I have to say, he's the most well mannered youngster I've had around in a long time. Now that he's adapted to our schedule, me and the other critters, it's like he's always been here. He's not even scared of Lexy anymore. Although at moments I think she's scared of him when he comes barrelling at her full throttle trying to get her to run with him:-)

I stopped fostering for a while because I kept telling myself, I need a break, I need a break. Danged if fostering and working with these dogs isn't one of the things that really kept me happy all that time when I thought I "needed a break" . Sheesh! I sure wish I was one of my dogs. Being a human can be a real pain in the butt sometimes! We think WAAAYYYYY to much about all the wrong things!
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I am loved

You know, sometimes you feel like life is going just fine. Then you bring a new dog into the mix and realize that you were missing something. That's how I feel about Ginger:-) Aw heck, I'm superiorly lucky and have a GREAT fur family, but Ginger seems to love me with a power all her own. It's sad to think there are folks out there still that don't believe dogs have emotions. Who knows, maybe they're not simple emotions, but something far superior. All I know is that when this little dog looks at me, there is a depth of something there that I can not explain. Just when you think you have it all, then something special comes along (again, lol) and you learn about an entire new layer of life.
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Another dumped dog

Remember Zippy?? Dang cute little bugger. I think I posted that he went back to his original foster's home a while back. She saved him from certain death just in the nick of time. Zippy is 12 years young and full of life. A few weeks ago, I went to an adoption event and saw Virginia with Zippy. A picture taking company was there so I thought it might be nice to get a couple of professional pictures of Zippy to have for Virginia and I. Mind you, my plan was to just get 2 pictures, one for each of us. Well, Zippy was quite the little ham that day and we got so caught up in all of the cute stuff he was doing we both ended up spending a fortune on pictures of this cute dog. I can hardly believe that he was dumped by a couple who got divorced and neither wanted him so they just dumped him on the street. GRRRRRRR!!!!
Anyway, these are just three of the many poses we got. Is he cute or is he cute?!?!?!

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Got it!

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Well, well, well. . .

That's what I always say when something REALLY surprises me. I gotta tell you, the first day Goldy was here, I tried to stay as positive as I could. He was scared to death, having issues because he was stuck in a new place and I honestly was having my doubts about the possibility of being able to bring this boy out of his shell. Well, let me tell you, this guy has pleasantly surprised the heck outta me!!
First of all I thought he'd be on a long leash for at least a month when we went outside in the yard. He no longer needs that leash. He comes when I call him and seems to find happiness in going out AND coming in. Get this, he even lets me wipe his paws! What a gentleman dog. It took me forever to teach Cody how to do that and he STILL doesn't always want to listen after 3 years!
As you can see in the lower picture, he, er, well, he REALLY, REALLY likes stuffed toys. I don't mean one or two, I mean the whole toy box! No matter how many times I empty out the crate so that he can actually get in, he will very carefully go and get each toy, one at a time and carry them all BACK to the cage. I've been trying to play with the toys with him. It scares him, but I think he's going to be a big fetch dog once he realizes I'm not going to beat him with the toy. It's not funny, but what is funny is his quizzical look with his ears coming forward as he's obviously trying not to be afraid and clearly wants to play, but is not quite ready for that yet.
Goldy seems to have a really gentle spirit. It freaks him out when my ankle biters sit in the window barking at the grass growing, lol.
If I've said it once, I'll still say it a million more times, my pack has an uncanny knack for bringing out the best in other dogs. Ginger has found her place. Even though I'm sure it is unintentional, she refuses to leave me alone with Goldy. The more she snuggles with me, the more he seems to realize that he's okay here. I think her gift might be letting the newbies know that humans are safe.
As I sit here writing this, both the little dogs are on the back of the couch guarding the front of the house. Lexy is out back checking out the goings on there. Squirt is curled up on one of the dog beds. Butler is still snoozing. He should be waking up any time looking for his dinner. And here next to me on the couch sits Goldy. I'm dying to get up and get the camera. As the breeze blows through the window he keeps sticking up his nose to get a whiff. I just know if I move to get the camera he's going to get up. It was a c r a p p p p y day at school today, but I'm feeling better. Just when I can't take one more thing I come home and learn something new about why my critters are so great. Nope, not making any of this up either, though as I read it, sure does sound like I am. I may complain now and then, but I'm quite a lucky gal. . .
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Day 2

Well, you see that harness there on Goldy? Yup, that's in shreds now. He was not a fan of that to be sure. Strangely, he's easy to have around, until it's time to go outside. Then he fights tooth and nail like I'm taking him to the glue factory or something. He's not quite made the connection to the potty thing and of course, he's not nearly used to our schedule yet, but I'm hopeful that he will be in another week or so. He's happy as a clam in the house, but scared to bits outside. Luckily he is crate trained, so he won't go in his crate. I'd imagine it won't take him long to realize that outside is the place to be when ya gotta go!

He likes me well enough, as long as I am sitting down. Once I stand up, I apparently become quite the scary individual and he scrams for the safety of the crate. As you can see in the picture, he seems to love stuffed toys. He's taken a particular shine to the variety of hedgehog toys I have for my gang. Fine with me! I've got about 100 toys and only a few dogs. Glad to see someone is going to get some use out of them:-)

I've discovered he LOVES to be brushed. Funny how he is so fearful of one thing and seemingly not at all of another. He's blowing his winter coat big time and man o man does he have some hair! Once I can get him comfortable in the yard, we're going to have a major brushfest! So another day down and hopefully this little guy is starting to get an inkling that even though this isn't his mama Kati's home, that he'll be safe here with us. For sure, he also is a huge fan of the good ol' treat. That can go a loooooong way with making friends with a very, very frightened dog.
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cody Does it Again!

Picked up Goldy Boy this afternoon. Boy was he scared. I can tell from the goofy pictures that I was able to get from him though, that we are going to have fun around here:-) The first pic is mid yawn. Looks like he's hollerin', "Get me outta here!" (think Bugs Bunny voice:-) The second was right after. The last one is of Goldy and Cody.

I had a hard time getting him out of the car when we got home. He slunk out of the back seat, commando crawled onto the lawn then flipped over and became a peeing fountain. Poor guy was soooo scared! Finally got him into the house and into the crate where he settled down. After about an hour, I offered him some water-wanted nothing to do with it, so I set it in. Then he tried to cover it:-) After a while of walking by and telling him what a good boy he was, I sat down next to the cage and talked to him for a minute. When I opened the cage this time he came out and timidly explored the house.

Then I let Cody in and bam! Instantly a playful dog appeared where there was a lump on the floor. Here he is just 2 hours after getting here walking around the house wagging his tail. Now, we still have a loooonngggg way to go. Kati told me he likes other dogs, so it's no surprise. He seems to be okay with me now. He probably figures that if I have all these pooches around, I must not be all bad. At least for now, I think he'll do just fine here. Now begins the process of building the routine and hopefully continuing to help him understand that being a dog is, well, not really so bad:-)
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Ginger has gone from a little scaredy dog to a big, sassy girl:-) She hasn't had any accidents in weeks and no longer rolls over and pees on herself. In fact, she rarely does the "roly poly" roll at all any more. She goes running out into the yard in the morning chasing away all the creatures she can find and comes bounding back in with such excitement I have to laugh each time. I'm still amazed at how Squirt is so attached to her. She must see some of herself in this little tiny version.

We went for our first walk together the other day. I take the big dogs then I take the little ones. I must shamefully admit that I felt a little foolish at first when I took Cody and Ginger out. My big girls have been walking with me for 10 years so they of course no longer pull, they listen when I ask them to go around, etc., etc. And here are these two little squirts, MAYBE 30 pounds combined, jerking me around and bounding in the tall weeds because they refused to walk on the nice flat sidewalk. LOL, more power to the big burly man who can confidently walk the little yorkie in public!

After the initial surprise reminding me how strong a little dog can be when excited, I quickly got them back on track. Then had the hardest time walking at moments just from watching the two of them. Ginger hops through the grass. I swear she must have some rabbit in her. Those back legs never separated as she hopped from place to place. She clearly loves the tall grass so that she "swims" through. She and Cody both for about 5 minutes couldn't seem to move forward because first she peed, then Cody decided he needed to pee over it. Well, she went back and peed (you can see where this is going.) She is a sharp little critter, I'll tell ya. She holds her own here just fine and I can't wait to see what she brings to the fostering dynamic. I have a feeling she will be more of the teaching manners kind of partner than Cody's playful kind. I guess we'll find out when I pick up Goldy Boy this afternoon.

Sure makes me wonder how it is she had trouble being potty trained and the kind of folks that must have had her to create the fear that I saw in this dog. Once again, it wasn't me that brought out the best in her, but my furry family. They are good at reminding a dog how to just be a dog and enjoy the good life:-)
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It's Time

Well, as much as I've been avoiding fostering for a while, I'm finally to the point where I've been able to take that time I needed.  And danged if I don't feel like something is missing around here.  Had some things to find out and take care of and most of that is done.  That being said, I love having just me and my little critters around here, but I do miss having that fresh face to come in and remind me that this big world of ours is about more than just me. 
So this afternoon I'll be picking up Goldy Boy, a foster we've had in the group for a while.  He's with another great foster mom right now, but she, like many of us have done, has many dogs and needs some help! So we thought Goldy Boy might do best well here with my crew and with the park so close we can work on socializing him.  I'm told he's a GREAT doggie, but is very fearful of people still.  You can check out his Petfinder page here: Goldy Boy

He sure is a cutie and if I know my crazy critters, they'll have him playing and having a good time here quickly.  I know he will miss his foster mama Kate and she him, but I promise to take good care of him and make sure he finds the best home possible.  I'll get pictures posted as soon as I get them:-)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A change in ideas

My original idea to post had something to do with sleeping, two little dogs snoring on me and me not wanting to get up off the couch.

Then I let the little outside and saw this and I knew THIS is what I had to write about. I've been into the garden thing this spring. . .BIG TIME! Thank goodness for great little brothers, because my brother Mark has been helping me to indulge my new and improved love for gardening by helping me with some of the heavier work, such as hauling in the soil that you see Lexy so happily lounging in. Long story short, I've been sick (stupid allergies!) and haven't had a chance to finish prepping the beds yet. Well, apparently Lexy AND Squirt would be even happier if I left the soil just as it is:-) I think they love being out in it even more than I do!

This is the second time I have found one of them lounging in the dirt, brown dusty noses and as cozy as can be. I can't help but smile because I know that this will happen. They have yet to find a pile of fresh dirt that they could resist. Yes, there is dirt all over the concrete now. Yes I'll have to fill in the hole. And yes, they are both going to need a good bath and soon. But I know just how excited they get when they get to digging, which thankfully they don't do often. On a day like today, when it's cool and breezy, the sun is shining (and I was at school planting all day so I am pooped!) there's not a whole lot I could ask for than to know that my furry family is happy and enjoying the day too.
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