I volunteer for New Rattitude Rat Terrier Rescue
Helping to find rescued Ratties in need their second chance at life in good fit forever homes.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tim Loves To Fetch His Egg Babies

The other day I asked myself, "What is the most used toy in our house and if there were some weird reason I could only have one dog toy for the dogs which would it be?"  My answer came quickly, Egg Babies!!!! The ones in my house have had the seams re-sewn quite a few times, most of them don't squeak anymore, some have been de & re-stuffed, they all have dried dog slobber on them, they have been left out in the rain, lost in the gardens, left in the car, lost under furniture, and sometimes two dogs will even go as far as to guard one on occasion. I love them because they are quiet (like I said most of the squeakers are gone by now) and they don't damage things when thrown, they are inexpensive, and they have so many uses in play with the dogs.

We haven't gone on our trail walk in a week, there has been a huge bug hatch, biting flies and mosquitoes, as it is in a very lush and damp area. The bugs were so awful the last time we went we all headed back to the car after just a mile.

Tim is a young terrier, he is just shy of 2 years old, so he has some energy to burn and has taken up fetching egg babies. Sometimes only Yellow will do, but today it was Blue. We have two Blues and he knows the difference between the two, so if we threw the other blue egg baby, he would not fetch it and bring it back. Then this evening he was back to Yellow. Such a funny boy.

I got some great pictures and a couple videos of him too. He really is honing his fetching skills and many times will scoop it up after the first bounce, he twists and turns to track it down. Yup Tim has his low confidence side but when he is in terrier mode, he is like a whole other dog!

These two videos were recorded the other day when Yellow (this one still has it's squeaker!) was his egg baby of choice. You can see in the second video that Dave threw the little squirrel and Tim was not into chasing the squirrel that day. I love to see Tim when he is happy and bouncie like he is in these videos. 
 Birdie playing some tug with Dave cracked me up. That was her tossing her head back and forth, not Dave :)

I got a bunch of adorable pictures of Timken. He is such a beautiful boy and is still blossoming every single day.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Timken Hits The Town....Part 5 Tim's 15 Minutes In A Big Box Petstore

In the past 4 parts of this series we have upped the environmental criteria for Tim and he has visited a small independent pet food store, a small town when it was not crowded, a fairly crowded public park, and a small coffee cafe in Seattle. He really did amazingly well in all of these with the public park being the one that he was least comfortable in but we were walking and Tim is very familiar with walking in nature so there was enough familiar that he was able to tolerate the time we spent in that park.

We decided it was time to see how our foster boy would do in a big box store setting. I think I have shared about myself on this blog in the past that I personally have my own set of buttons regarding certain areas of urban life, crowds is one them, and also malls and big box stores can be hard for me to maneuver as well. The immense feel of a large store, the lighting, the stimuli of all the isles and items can make my skin crawl. Where some people find it fun and exciting to be in places like this, I have had panic attacks in the past and when I do have a panic attack all I want and need is for my husband to hold me and get me out to the open air. Because of this I can 100% understand how Timken must feel in this situation, so we were extra tuned in to him from the minute we got out of the car to gauge how comfortable he was..or wasn't feeling. I did my own work on the way to the store, telling myself to be calm and centered so I didn't add my energy to Tim's. We went on a weekeday morning so it would hopefully not be crazy crowded and if it was then we would have just left and tried again another day.

From the time we got out of the car to the time we got Tim back in was 15 minutes or less. The upshot of this visit was that Tim did not like the environment at all and it was easy to tell.

It is easy to see Tim is not comfortable. His eyes bugged and mouth not relaxed.

He was coming around right away for his reassurance from Dave, we hadn't even closed the doors on the car yet.

I had an idea to get him from the black top to a planter with a tree and he did settle a bit there. He was able to sniff and pee too.

Getting ready to step back off onto the parking lot and he is clearly nervous again.

We were making our way toward the doors and his nose spotted this hydrant. So we let him take his time to sniff and be curious.

He left his calling card and we headed toward the doors.

This sandwich board peaked his interest but he was also very unsure about it. His Timken lean is the clue.

He just could not wrap his brain around what this was all about.

Going through the doors was super scary. Once in the first door there were a second set of doors that opened automatically. This really freaked Tim out and the people behind us laughed out loud and thought it was hilarious. We on the other hand were not happy that we let that happen and looking back Tim should have been carried into the store.

Just in the entry way to the store Dave kneels down and Tim gets into his position for reassurance, scratching at Dave's shirt. Dave had brought some treats Tim likes and thought he would see if Tim wanted some. We aren't using a lot of treats during these stressful times because we have found in the past that giving Tim treats when he is spun up only makes him more distrustful of us. He did take some treats though in this case and he settled down and we took a walk through the store. Tim was not too curious, he was low to the ground and was not able to sniff much or see much, he was in flight mode for sure.

We decided to just walk down an empty aisle that had some toys and see if he would be interested in the toys. Nope he was done. He wanted to be held and so that is what he got.

Dave decided Tim needed to be carried the rest of the way and out of the store. He picked him up and Tim started to soften and relax again.

We had 3 occasions to practice advocating for Tim. The first was when a young child asked if she could pet him. I immediately said "no he wouldn't be comfortable with that and thank you for asking". Then when Dave had decided to carry Tim the rest of the way one of the women who worked for the store came up and looked at Tim, which made him nervous, and she asked if he was ok. I told her he was having a hard time with his fear in the store and she asked if she could "help" by petting him. She didn't mean any harm and is just not educated on fearful dogs and what they need. I told her no thank you we have it handled and we just walked away. In the past I would have been so worried that I had offended her, but I have learned that advocating for our dogs is much more important than worrying about offending someone. The third time was another woman who worked there also came up to us and looked directly at Tim and asked if she could pet him. Again I just said "no thank you". I was thinking how different this big store was from the small indie pet food stores I have been in. In the smaller stores the employees seem to have been educated on how to approach a dog and when not to approach a dog. Please remember it is always ok to advocate for your dog.

Tim checking things out from a safe spot in foster dad's arms.

We stopped by the gerbils to see if Tim would be at all interested in checking them out.

He was a little interested but not too much.

Tim on his way out. Tim says "goodbye big store, not sure I need to come back here again".

Yum I like chicken.

Tim eating his chicken breast we brought for a reward for doing such hard work.

Looking back I think we could do things much better next time. We should have carried Tim into the store and held him while he got his bearings. Maybe not put him down at all. The other thing I think we will try if we decide to attempt this again, is bringing Skip in with us, to see if it helps Tim or not to have a dog with him who is comfortable in a store like that. There really is no reason any dog HAS to go into stores like these in my opinion. I see so many scared and nervous dogs in these stores. My thinking is, unless your dog really enjoys going into a store like this, don't worry about it. Just because it might be fun for us humans to take our dogs into places that allow dogs, we should be willing to let the dog call the shots with what they are comfortable with. Of course there are things in the dog's life they will need to do that they don't feel comfortable like the vet office. It might be time better spent to work with acclimating them to that environment than to do a lot of work around getting them to be comfortable in a big box store.

Back in his foster home where Tim now feels safe. He can relax in the sun, one of his favorite pastimes.
More Tim Hits The Town to come. Please stay tuned as we will be heading back to Edmonds, where we took Tim a few months ago, to visit the off leash dog park and walk around the marina again.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Timken Hits The Town....Part 4 Visiting A Public Coffee House In Seattle

We had a coffee date with a couple of other New Rattitude volunteers, their dogs, Mingus a past foster dog (and his doggie buddy) and his mom who owns and runs the great little coffee house in Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. We had such a great time and I have to say that Timken rocked the coffee house! This boy is surprising us on a daily basis with his shift from fear and anxiety in new environments to the curiosity I mentioned in a past blog post. This is not to say he is 100% comfortable with all these new encounters but he was there for 3 hours and there were people coming in and out and other dogs to meet, clicking sounds of the espresso machine (Tim doesn't like a lot of clicking sounds). But with all this he took treats from everyone and even ran around a little and left our sides quite a few times to explore or get a treat from Mingus' mom across the cafe.

Here comes Timken!

What is this place?

There is Mingus to greet us. In the background you can see Bella, Mingus' good buddy. She is a rescue girl too!

Mingus photo bombed me....lol Love those whiskers...

This is Tim getting up on our friend's leg to get some yummy treats she made for the dogs. Notice her sweet girl Chauncy (a NR alumni) wondering who this stranger is getting treats from her mom.

Unfortunately I didn't get any other  pictures of Chauncy, she was being such a good girl.

And look! Her mom makes these adorable and healthy little treats. Our crew got to have their own package of them :)

There is Chauncy on the label. Very clever. I love how the "S" has a little bite taken out of it.

I guess Tim needs to learn some doggie manners now. He really wanted some more treats! Mingus was hoping for a morsel too and then Nina (on the couch) another rescue dog was there with her mom.

Mingus has learned impulse control. He is such a good boy and waited nicely for his mom to say "ok". (see the treat on her knee?)

Tim learning who has been there before him.

Beautiful Bella posing for her picture. Sweet girl!

Elsie (another NR alumni) and Nina wishing I would put the camera down and give them a little treat....

As you can see Tim was not relaxed at all. This was after 3 hours, he had worn himself out from meeting all the new people and eating all the yummy treats!

Skip was a super good boy too, what a great time we all had. We had tired dogs on the way home and everyone behaved like good dogs should.

Check out Tim running around and jumping into foster dad's lap. He was having a pretty great time!

Stay tuned as we have decided to hit a big box store type of pet store with Tim next. That will be interesting and there will be a lot of really novel things for him to see and experience.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Timken Hits The Town....Part 3 Visiting A Public Park On A Busy Sunny Day

On our way home from our walk in the town of Snohomish we went right by Tye Lake in Monroe, WA. It was such a beautiful day and Timken was all rested up from his short small town walk that we thought it would be fun to introduce him to another place to walk that our dogs love to go. This is a different type of walking than our trail walks. There are lots of active things going on. There is a small lake with a path that goes all around it. It is a 2 mile walk all the way around but half of that goes along a fairly busy street and also by a skateboard park. We like to walk the quiet side of the lake. The path goes right in between pasture on one side and the lake on the other side. There is still plenty of action though, with runners, dog walkers, strollers, kids and adults on bikes, and people walking in groups talking. There are also people fishing and then there are lots of birds, including ducks quacking, red wing black birds, and oh yeah lots of goose poop. The dogs don't seem to mind the goose poop like the humans do, <grin>.

There is also a playground and there were lots of kids making kid noises. We decided to walk by the tennis courts and then by the playground with Tim to see how he reacted. He did good! He was taking it all in, and we could tell it was all so new to him. He walked along and sniffed things and watched the movement of the people. He didn't growl or bark at anyone or anything. He was a bit anxious though as I could tell by the yawning (another appeasement signal he was throwing and letting us know he was a bit nervous) he was doing in some of the video I recorded. But again, he did really well for the amount of activity and the newness of the environment to this boy.

In case you are interested, here is a link to a Canine Stress Signal Dictionary from Whole Dog Journal.

In this video we had just come from the parking lot and were making our way past the tennis courts on our way to the more populated area where the playground is. You can hear some kids in the back ground. Also if you notice, Tim is walking along then hanging back, he is nervous and he whines a bit. But all in all he is doing pretty well.

Sniffing the grass and getting to know the place. Also there was a lot of people/kid noise here. This didn't seem to bother Tim.

Timken seeing another dog and he didn't bark or get squirreley, good boy!

Looking good Tim!

Foster dad are we going to be walking by those people?

Here we go, I liked that Tim just walked on by the kid and his family. This kid was squealing and excited to see the dog, Skip was with me, but neither dog paid him any attention. It was a good test for Tim.

The kid checking Tim out.

And then another person coming from the front. Of course if you have a dog who is used to this none of this looks like anything, but this really was a lot for Timken, everything here was new. Smells, sounds, movements of strangers.
This video you can seem Tim yawns twice. Also you can notice he gets a bit spun up but we decided to just keep going.

People ahead.

We walked by these people and he used his avoidance technique to get by.

Time for a rest with foster dad and some reassurance before turning around and heading back to the car.

Here Tim stops to smell some goose poo and then a person walks by on our left and he stays on the right to avoid them. I am good with this, I was so happy he was able to feel like he could avoid the things he wasn't sure of rather than be reactive as an alternative. Who knows? Maybe someday soon he will actually enjoy going for a walk in this big area, until then we will just keep working on it with him.

Back at the car Skip gets a drink.

Dave putting the water dish in Tim's crate worried him a bit but he didn't mind drinking it off Dave's finger. Kind of a slow way to get a drink of water though! :)
Big day for Tim, he walked around a small town, then a public park. When we got home he was happy to see everything was just as we left it and he was no worse for the wear. His recoup time has really shortened. Stay tuned for more adventures as Tim will be visiting a dog friendly coffee cafe in Seattle in a few days. He has a small fan club who will be joining us and we will even have a foster dog update to report as well.