Eureka! Dog Blog

Dog Training and Behavior weblog

Archive for June 2009

Eureka! North Now in Vermont

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Jan Gordon headed back to Vermont at the start of June, to avoid the Texas summer!  She arrived there on Friday June 5th, and did her first consultation as Eureka! North on Sunday June 7th.  We’ve added a page to the website so people in Vermont (especially around Stowe and Burlington) can find us. 

Meanwhile, business continues to grow in the DFW area.  We have Canine Good Citizen classes on Saturday mornings at the McKinney Community Center, and a fun introduction to agility at our location near McKinney on Sunday mornings, as well as providing in home consultations and training.  Of course, we are also proud to be local distributors for The Honest Kitchen nutritious dog foods and treats (featured recently in the Food Network’s “Will Work for Food“).

Jan of course is greatly missed but continues to provide advice and support from the frozen north.  However, to help meet growing demand in Texas, we have started working with Dan, and he is assisting with classes and on some consultations.  He also works independently with clients who need assistance with dog walking or “walking dates” for their dogs.

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Written by eurekapaws

June 30, 2009 at 4:44 pm

No one should abandon a dog

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Times are hard for many people, and animals are suffering as a result.  Last October, we heard about a sweet young dog, Blue, who was trying to find a new home.  We offered a free training session to whoever adopted her, and the foster home passed that information to the adopter.  They also offered to refund the money and take Blue back if it did not work out.   A single mother adopted the dog, and she and her boyfriend came out with Blue and we gave them some tips on how to keep control and walk her properly, and teach her basic commands.

A few days ago, we heard from the foster home.  They had been contacted by an animal shelter in May, as Blue’s microchip had been traced back to them.  Blue had been abandoned, and the property owner had asked the shelter to come and pick her up.  The shelter did not find the chip when they scanned her, but they kept her for 2 weeks.  Then she became sick and they decided to euthanize her.  They did a final scan, and this time they found the chip.

The foster mother went to the shelter, and in her words “I went and picked her up and was shocked at her appearance. She was skin and bones and had a horrible head cold with kennel cough. We have decided to keep her because she had been through enough hell in her short life…I would like to sue [the adopter], not for the money but as an example. There was absolutely no reason for her to let this happen. I even told her that I’d give her money back if it didn’t work out with Blue.”

If you take a dog into your home, you have responsibilities.  There are many circumstances where it is not possible to keep the dog yourself.  Your responsibility is to find a new home for that dog.  In this case, there was a place they could have taken the dog, but they chose not to do so.  Dogs left to fend for themselves do not usually do well.  They end up abused or killed, either by wild animals or by people, or simply in accidents.  They become sick and often starve to death.  People who abandon a dog simply lack the moral courage to take action.  If the dog lives with you, you can find a shelter to take him or her.  Even if it is not a no-kill shelter, the dog will be given food and safety and a chance at adoption – they will not end their lives in fear and misery.

Some people simply leave their dog in the house when they go away.  Typically, those dogs starve to death before they are found and can be rescued.  Other people seem to think their dog will survive if abandoned in a rural area.  Perhaps they have some fantasy about returning a domestic dog to the wild.  Around here, there are coyotes, wildcats, snakes, and other abandoned dogs, among many other hazards.  You do not do your dog a favor by leaving him or her to try and survive in a hostile environment.

Blue is a very lucky dog.  She still needs training, but she has been rescued by people who care.  If you are running into difficulties and there is a possibility that you will not be able to continue to provide a home for your pet, DO SOMETHING.  There is no reason to make a family pet suffer and die.  Start looking at the options available in the worst case scenario.  Abandoning a dog is cowardly and unnecessary.

Written by eurekapaws

June 25, 2009 at 8:59 am

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Case Study 3 – One Tough Dog

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Tuffy was a dog who had learned to live without help from people.  He was trapped with a group of dogs in a gravel pit where they could not get out, and it appeared that they may have been abused by people in the area.  He was rescued by a caring person who worked at Operation Kindness animal shelter (www.operationkindness.org), on her third attempt to get any of the dogs out.  Tuffy and a greyhound were the only ones “smart or hungry enough” to be lured out to the edge of the quarry and saved from death by malnutrition.  Operation Kindness gave him several months of treatment for a severe case of Demodex Mange, and for malnutrition, and put him up for adoption.  In the shelter, he only bonded with female employees and was extremely shy of people in general, although he was friendly with the other dogs in his enclosure.

The Gilbert family saw Tuffy on a website, and their hearts melted.  They went to the shelter, and Millie and Joseph Gilbert and their 8 and 10 year old daughters met Tuffy and were able to pet him after some coaxing and offering treats.  He showed no signs of hostility, and they thought his shyness was to be expected, so they adopted him.  This was Tuffy’s second adoption, having been returned the first time for being “too difficult to housetrain”.

Within a week, the Gilberts were concerned that they had made a mistake.  Tuffy was comfortable around Millie, but he barked at Joe and avoided him.  Tuffy would hide at the end of the yard to avoid being trapped, and any changes in the routine, visitors, sudden noises and movements, would cause him to bark and either back away or sometimes walk slowly towards the person.  Joe traveled frequently on business, so while Tuffy was starting to settle into his new home Joe was often not there.  Whenever Joe came into a room, Tuffy would try to leave to go to a safer place.  (It seemed likely that Tuffy had suffered at the hands of a man, as his response to Joe was much stronger than to us or to any of the female members of the household.)

The Gilberts called us in because they were afraid that Tuffy might not be safe around their daughters, and because it seemed that his behavior problems might be more than they could handle.  We arrived at their house early, and saw a dog being walked back to the house.  Rather than meet the dog then and there, we went and parked for a few minutes to give them time to get the dog home.  When we returned, the dog and the dog walker were still in the same place!  Seeing a problem, we split up.  Jan went to the dog and helped Millie to walk him back to the house, while I met with Joe to find out what was happening.  The whole family had taken Tuffy on his walk that day, instead of just Millie.  Tuffy had sat down on his walk, and did not want to move any further.  Nervous about stressing him, Millie had stopped with him, and now could not make him walk the last few yards home.

We spent quite a while sitting in the living room with the entire Gilbert family and Tuffy, until he started to venture out and even take treats from Jan.  It became clear that he was afraid of all the new things he found, and that he had bonded to Millie as his savior, and regarded everyone else as a potential threat.  He tried always to be near where Millie was, or if she was away, to retreat to his crate.  If he was outside and Joe was in the living room, Tuffy would be afraid to venture into the house.  Because everyone was worried about Tuffy, they were trying to get him to respond to them with love and affection, and they were staring at him, which scared him.  Making direct eye contact is a threatening behavior from one dog to another, so Tuffy thought he was being challenged.  However, Tuffy was also a realist – once he had a leash on, he would be calmer.  Once he was sitting next to Millie with the leash on, she was able to pass the leash to Joe.

The Gilbert family had already made a great start on giving Tuffy his new home.  They had already started to have a daily routine for Tuffy, and routine helps a dog become confident in his surroundings.  They agreed to try to change their behavior so that they did not stare at Tuffy, they avoided sudden movements, and they learned to wait for Tuffy to come to them when he was ready to be petted or to want to be near them.  Tuffy was to stay on leash in the house while there were people there to supervise him, so that he stopped running to safe places whenever people moved around.  Joe needed to hold the leash on walks when possible, so that Tuffy could get used to him as a friendly pack leader.  They would walk Tuffy together as a family when they could, so that eventually the girls could take the leash as well.

When Tuffy tried to stop the walk, the person with the leash needed to act like a pack leader – walk on confidently, expecting Tuffy to follow.  That was how Jan had persuaded him to come back to the house.

Within a few days, Tuffy started to show definite signs of improvement.  He continued to be alarmed by Joe, especially when Joe arrived home.  However, he started to differentiate between “Good Joe” who had his leash, and “Bad Joe” who did not.  With “Good Joe”, he was more comfortable, and he would even come to him to get his walking leash put on.  With “Bad Joe”, he would still bark and back away.

Written by eurekapaws

June 7, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Posted in Case Studies, New Adoptions

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Dog Clean-Up Continued

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Well, I have to report that the vegetable oil was awesome in helping me remove all the tar from Xena’s feet.  It was a big worry, because she had a huge amount of very sticky tar on all four paws, so her ability to cool down was compromised.  The vegetable oil made chemical changes to the tar over a 24 hour period so that it could easily be picked and washed off.  Of course, she was not steady on her feet after the initial application!

The other great piece of news is that courtesy of the Skunk Whisperer, we now have a good recipe for removing the skunk smell from dogs and their collars.  It is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid dish soap, see www.totalwildlifecontrol.com.  This recipe comes with all sorts of warnings, because it can be an irritant, so be sure to wash your dog after it has done its work, keep it away from eyes, etc. and make sure your dog gets plenty of oils for his/her skin.  And you can’t prepare it in advance – it has to be freshly made each time!  But it worked much better than the commercial remedy I was trying.  (But I still think that Skunk Off is a good commercial remedy, I just didn’t have any.)

Written by eurekapaws

June 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Posted in General

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