Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Introducing Zenzi!

She's the one in the lower left corner, looking up at the camera.

When Kibeth passed, routine things were really hard.  I had already planned on getting my border collie puppy next Spring, but I was stunned how hard it was to only walk 2 dogs, only feed 2 dogs, only kiss 2 dogs goodnight.  So I decided to soothe my broken heart by looking at dogs available for rescue.  I figured I was safe -- there literally are NO purebred border collie pups available for rescue (nor breeders), and I don't have the stash yet for the $1,500 super puppy I was planning to get.  Her passing also made me want to rescue more than get a "super" puppy.

I found some Australian cattle dog girls I liked a lot.  They were under a year old, pretty close to me, and seemed to have good biographies.  I sent out an adoption application, but was rejected due to my living in an apartment, despite my active lifestyle and heavy duty training plans.

And then someone on livejournal said, "I don't know if this is your thing, and it can be super shady, but have you tried Craigslist?"

Well, I've listed ads on Craigslist for violin lessons and dog training.  I think I've gotten one successful client that way -- the rest were spammers.  But I thought I'd give it a go anyway.  Doesn't hurt to look, right?

So then I found an ad for an oops litter born August 6 out of a beautiful Australian cattle dog mama and a border collie dad.  There were 9 puppies in total, 6 females, 3 males, all of whom just dewormed, but too young for shots.  A rescue said they'd take 4 of the puppies, 4 were up for adoption, and the family planned to keep one of the puppies.  The proceeds from the four puppies who couldn't go to rescue were going to go toward spaying/neutering the parents, and training them more formally for herding work.  The family lived on a small farm in Coachella, CA -- about 2 hours away from me.

I hemmed and hawed.  An oops litter?  How irresponsible are these people?!  I didn't want to take a puppy that young.  They were coming up on 6-weeks old.  They should stay with the Mom at least until they are 8-weeks old.  That's vital to good socialization -- and I didn't want to go through another Dolce situation for my performance dog.

I emailed the owner, Linda, hoping she'd keep the puppies until 8 weeks.  She explained that the reason she had to get them in homes now was because her kids were back to school, she had work, and couldn't care for the puppies anymore.  It was pick a puppy now, or lose her forever.  Linda did say that the mama had already weaned the litter.

I took another look at the photos.



And I thought about it long and hard all day.  I do have a lot of time to socialize the puppy.  I do have 2 excellent dogs to socialize her with -- Dolce is super playful and JoJo is the best Mama dog I could hope for.  I do have the resources to do remedial socialization puppy classes. I've heard several success stories of puppies rescued too young and turning out beautifully with extra work.

I talked to Rick about it.  He said it was up to me, but it sounded like fate.  How many things fell into place for this litter?  How uncertain are their futures if their prospective parents don't understand the extra work involved in a puppy so young?  I can't save them all, but I might be able to for one.  I decided to drive out there, meet the parents of the litter for myself to assess their health and temperament, and then evaluate the puppies.

Well, when I got there, the Mom was in her crate beside the welping box.  They were expecting someone else to pick a puppy at any time, and they didn't want the Mom to get run over.  I met with her, she was very friendly, and tolerated my interacting with her puppies without a fuss.  They called the Dad over for me to greet.  He was extremely polite, very gentle, super soft attitude.  He was a little suspicious of Rick at first, but warmed up quickly and had no further issues.  He was built pretty well, though a little short-legged for my taste.  Both mom and dad were very healthy -- clean, good eyes, good coat, the dad moved very well, and the mom's conformation was excellent.  So I met with the puppies.

They all let me do whatever I wanted.  They were hot, it was 90ยบ outside, but they were awake and aware.  The owner's daughters and their friends also interacted and held each of the puppies -- the puppies just loved it.  I could poke, prod, grab feet, tickle gums, touch teeth, pull ears, tickle bellies, hold tilted upside-down, hold with them on their backs, and anything else.  I squeaked toys, made weird sounds, moved suddenly, clapped, etc. and tried to assess their startle personalities.  None of them were phased, but a few were mildly curious.  The owner had said she mostly kept the welping box in the house (huge plus), so I'm not surprised they were so good about sounds.

Every puppy was adorable and had wonderful temperaments, but there were only 3 black and white girls left.  The brown and whites weren't as cute to me, so I eliminated them on looks.  One puppy looked a bit long-backed, one puppy felt a little thinner, and then there's the girl above.  She was a happy medium, and so I tried to get her to play.  She wanted absolutely nothing to do with my zillions of toys I'd purchased (just in case, you know), but lit up for the towel they'd been using.  She had also just dived into the food tray -- clearly food is a very good thing.  She was the one, so we took care of business and set off for home.  This was Saturday, September 15; exactly one week to the day that Kibeth crossed the rainbow bridge.

The car ride home, which I was secretly dreading for fear of the adverse reaction to being away from her littermates so soon, was uneventful.  She just slept in my lap, enjoying the cool air from the A/C.

Our first stop was at the McDonald's close to our place.  We planned to get something to eat for Rick, who was kind enough to drive me home and let puppy snooze in my lap the whole way back.

I let her out to pee if she wanted in some out of the way wood chips.  Sure enough, first try, she peed.  Good puppy!  Oh yeah, and played with my pant legs, a soon-to-be no-no.

She's a little panda bear!

When Rick finished eating, we went home to grab Dolce.  We planned to do introductions via a good friend of ours, Pam.  Dolce is accustomed to meeting dogs with Pam, and those greetings have always gone well.  We especially wanted the same result with the new puppy, and sure enough, he took to her in Pam's arms without a problem.  When she came home, he was totally fine with her.

She has to live in the Zenzi Room until she gets her first shots at the end of this week.  No interacting with dogs, no walks outside.  However, we have been taking her for car rides, and we bought a front pack so she can tag along for walks with JoJo and Dolce.  She's been to Pet Supply, the vet (who gave her a clean bill of health, thank God), and met people who have come over to the house.  She has been an exceptional puppy.  Barely cries, sleeps a lot, and now likes dog toys.  She automatically figured out to pee and poo on the pads, so potty training at this stage is going well.  Her poops turned to mush on Taste of the Wild, so we got Canidae ALS so her diet wasn't so rich.  Her poops are back to normal now.  Even the vet says she's an exceptionally good puppy, and also on the bigger side for her age.  Who knows what she'll grow up to look like.

She nips a lot.  It's expected, but unacceptable.  Playing with her toys, I make them squeak if she gets too rough, and she lets them go.  Good puppy!

With me, though... Yelping doesn't work.  She thinks it's fun.  What works?  Oh man, if I leave, it's over.  "Mom... MOM!  I promise no teeth.  I'm sorry!" We play again, and she's usually way better for much longer.  Still, we repeat everyday.  She's catching on.  I kind of use her puppy KONG when she's extra mouthy for handling exercises as a binky.  Works great!  If she goes for hands, toes, or clothes, though, play time is over.  Boohoo on you, girly.

But when she's had some time to think about what she's done wrong for latent learning to set in, we go at it again.  We play, she sleeps.  She eats 4x a day, and pees and poops a lot.  That's pretty much our routine right now.  Nights are fairly easy, I'm surprised to say.  She woke us up 4 times the first night to pee and/or poo, 3 times the next night, and once the last 2 nights.

Can't wait for shots and immunity to diseases to really get into the world!

The plan is to start puppy class at 8 weeks, then a second one at 10 weeks.  We'll pick one after those two finish, and stay in them until she's booted out for being too old.  I'm hoping that will be enough, combined with all the training and playdates we have planned.  So far, she seems like a very balanced, happy-go-lucky, healthy puppy who is on the whole, exceptionally well behaved.

Oh, and of course, she loves music.

Stay tuned... :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Training Levels Session with Dolce - 1 & 2, Zenzi

We worked on Sue Ailsby's Training Levels tonight for Dolce's dinner.  I think I'm going to switch his meals up a bit, and give him a raw chicken wing or leg when I don't have time to train, and kibble when I do have time.

We did the following from Level 1 (which is all of the exercises from that level)

  • Zen - dog moves off a treat in your hand while you are seated, dog stays off a treat in your closed fist for 5 seconds, dog stays away from your open hand for 5 seconds, dog moves away from a treat in a dog dish held in your hand.
  • Target - dog touches your hand with her nose, dog reaches high and low to touch your hand with her nose, dog takes 3 steps to touch your hand, dog touches your hand twice to get 1 click, move the dog with your hand target.
  • Sit - Dog sits with leash off, dog sits with hand signal only, dog sits with leash on, dog sits by an open door, dog works with no treats on trainer.
  • Come - Dog looks for dropped treats at your feet, dog runs from person to person (in this case from a stay) 10' apart, dog plays come game between 2 people 10' apart, dog plays come game between two people 20' apart. (We've done this before, but I couldn't do the games tonight as I'm alone.)  Play hide and seek -- Dolce LOVES this game!
  • Down - dog downs with leash off, dog downs on a hand signal only, change your position (turn away, kneel, stand on couch), dog downs with leash on, dog downs to earn a different desired reward.
And this from Level 2 before running out of meal
  • Zen - dog moves off uncovered treat on floor, dog stays off treat on floor for 10 seconds, dog stays off treat on floor for 30 seconds, dog stays off a dropping treat and gets a different treat, use "find it" to get the treat.
  • Focus - Dog finds your eyes, dog holds eye contact for 2 seconds, then 6 seconds, then 10 seconds, use the cue before doing something else <--- This was genius!
There's a bit more detail to it than that, but that's the basic summary of the first official training sessions. We used her handy dandy flash cards (scroll down to the bottom, they're free) having read the how-to in her ebook.  I am seriously hooked.  This is the best training book/how-to/regimen EVER.  It's already helping Dolce's reactivity since we're focusing more.

I literally can't wait to get future border collie puppy and start it with her. :) Her name will be Zenzi, which is German, and means to grow and thrive.  I'm probably going to be getting her from this future litter.  Her mama will be Ann Croft's dog, Kit.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

RIP Kibeth

We put Kibeth down this afternoon.  She passed away around 12:30p.m.  The sedative shot was slightly painful, she yelped.  That was the only drama.  She got very drowsy, and then the final shot just let her slip away peacefully.

I told her I loved her, she's a perfect dog, she can meet all the horses and dogs at the Rainbow Bridge, I'd miss her, I'd be okay, we'd be okay, don't worry...

She stuck her tongue out as she fell asleep.  It was funny, so we chuckled.  Such a good girl, always making me smile.

Before we went to the vet, we went to an open field to lay in the sunshine on the warm grass.  She loved to roll in the grass on our walks, so I think she really enjoyed it.

She actually got up when it was about time to start heading over for our appointment at 11:40.  She went straight to the car.  She knew it was time.  Rick went in to get things started and the room prepared with her leopard bed and toys.  We stayed outside in more grass while we waited.

It was such a beautiful day.  I couldn't have asked for better.  It was warm enough to be hot, but not too hot.  The sky was gorgeous.  There were these beautiful wispy clouds amidst the blue and sunshine.

It took us about 20 minutes to get a hold of ourselves enough to pay for her cremation and euthanasia, and say goodbye the final time.  When we finally got home, JoJo and Dolce greeted us happily at the door.  They seem not to even notice.  I'm glad of this.  I'd rather they be oblivious than grieving.  Though it does pain me a little.  We took them for a walk, Rick and I, to form our new family pack.  There was a butterfly, a bug that tried to land on me, and I could feel Kibby on the wind -- she always tried to eat bugs.  She was happy, at peace, and painless again.

I envision her running free with my horse, Matthew.  We told her to say hi to our friend's dog, Howie, who died this year in a tragic car accident.  I know she will.  She did everything I ever asked her to.  She was the perfect first dog, a true ambassador for the wonderful greyhound breed.  I love her, I miss her, but I'm so glad the pain is gone at last and she can be happy and playful again.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Kibeth Update :(

I'm very sorry to say that while the incontinence has dissipated, Kibeth is not doing well.

She reacted very strongly to the steroids, so we have weaned her off of them.  They didn't help in the slightest, so it was pointless to continue giving them to her.  They made her pee in the house for the first time since we adopted her, and it was like she had a UTI all over again.  She needed to go out every 2-3 hours, drinking like a maniac.

She can't stand as long, can't walk too far, can't play as much, and is laying down more frequently.  She still eats, drinks, and does her thing outside.

However, she has started to look depressed on occasion.  It's not always, and a little play session will bring her out of it instantly.  Although, this week, there were a couple times I threw her favorite blue fluff ball, and she didn't pursue it, despite some interest.

And now, I've discovered a sore spot on her hock where she has licked it raw -- to the point it is bleeding.  I assume (and my vet did not correct me) that this is from the tingling due to nerve damage, and they try to make it feel better by licking it.  Some will be so determined to make it stop, it develops into self-mutilation.

With the episodes of incontince last month, even surgery is not going to give her a good prognosis.  Surgery is risky anyway -- it's spinal surgery.  She could come out of it paralyzed, dead...

Kibeth is a horrible patient, always has been.  Doesn't matter who you are, she WILL bite your face off if you touch her booboos.  I can't imagine treating her little sore, let alone recovering from spinal surgery.  What am I going to do, put a cone on her for the rest of her life?  Will that even stop her tongue from reaching her hock?  I can't put a dressing on a hock, she'll eat it off.  I can't just put Neosporin on it, she'll lick it off.  And there's nothing to say she won't just keep licking somewhere else...

Despite the brave and mostly happy face she puts on every day, she's clearly in distress.

I had made an appointment on Wednesday for our vet to evaluate her pain tomorrow at 11:40.  I emailed him again last night...

I've decided if he agrees she is in considerable pain, I am going to put her to sleep tomorrow.

My heart is breaking.  She tries so hard to be happy, she still likes to do things, her body just won't let her.  I can't wait until the LS robs her of all her joy before deciding enough is enough.  I just hope this is the right thing.  I hope it's peaceful, and painless, and easy, and gives her relief -- none of the pain medications have.  She's ON tramadol and gabapentin + Joint Max, still no improvement -- how much pain must that be?

What a cruel disease.

ETA:  Tonight, LS took away play.  Dolce invited Kibeth to a game of tug like he always does, and she always enjoys it.  Just now, though, when he tried to tug with her, she dropped it and yelled at him. She was screaming, "Don't do that!  It hurts!" and he left her alone.