7 months and change….a Colorado Update…

Shelby was my “little buddy”,  Colorado is my sweetie-pie…but I sometimes refer to her as the Queen of Spazmania.   As I’ve said,  she isn’t a replacement for Shelby but rather a new companion.

I love her to pieces and she’s become a very big part of my world.   I look forward to coming home to her enthusiastic greetings,  most of the time seeing her peering out the kitchen window as I walk to the door.

I think we’re good for each other.   She’s much calmer than when I got her,  but,   if I spend too long on the computer,  or watching television she lets me know in no uncertain terms that she will no longer tolerate not being the center of my attention.

She has a clear way of communicating this by dropping a tennis ball or her rope at my feet and pawing me.   If I don’t immediately stop what I’m doing she starts her “bounce and bark”.   So yes, she’s bossy but I love the look on her face when she’s waiting for me to throw whatever toy she’s chosen to play with.

She’s great on walks,  I can take her by people and dogs with nary a flinch (most of the time).

I just took this pic of her (sorry for the “green eye” lol)…that’s the flash on my camera…

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You’ll recall when I first got her I mentioned that Colorado saw nothing wrong with getting me out of bed between 5 and 6am to go play fetch…

This is her in the morning now 🙂

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I still miss my little buddy, and always will.  But there hasn’t been a single second that I’ve regretted taking this enthusiastic and loyal lady home with me.

Shelby’s Obit

Meeting Colorado

Random Colorado Update

Colorado Update

Well,  its been over 3 months now since I adopted Colorado  🙂

Colorado is a wonderful dog and even though she still has the occasional neurotic spas moments, I haven’t regretted for a single second my decision to bring her into my life.

My friends tell me that its obvious that we love each other.    She’s settling in nicely.   I noticed that she preferred to stay in the kitchen regardless of what room I was in.   She’d come in every once in awhile to check on things or to get some attention,  but when she was satisfied it was back to the kitchen.   Lately though she now spends part of her time in the door to the livingroom,  or the livingroom itself.

With the help of Maxine at Damax Kennels I’ve managed to help Colorado settle down.   The last “problem” behaviour,  her screaming at other dogs while out for walks I finally got her out of last week!   A sharp “NO!” whenever she starts “talking”  or when she starts stressing.   No more push, pulling as she bounces around trying to get to other dogs,  screaming her head off as she does.   Now  she twitches a bit,  but is mostly quiet.   Progress indeed.

Even more progress in that this morning when I woke up,  she was sleeping with her head on my belly instead of bouncing around trying to get me out of bed so we could play fetch.  Of course once my alarm went off all that changed!

She has her favorite games,  both in the house and out.  Outside of course its fetch (so long as its not too hot).  Otherwise its “sniff the air”.  This confused me at first until one morning I saw a rabbit hop out of a bush.   Inside there is this big knotted rope that she loves to chase.   Maxine advised that I don’t rough house with her or play tug of war as she’s a stubborn dog and the latter will create control issues and the former…well,  I’m a big guy who can handle her,  but if she sees rough housing as a game she might decide to play with someone smaller who can’t.

I’m thinking I should start socializing her with other dogs.   She gets along great with people although she’s not to wild about letting people into the house (except my mom).

Anyway, a brief note.  I’ll try and upload some more pictures and video later!

Links:

When we met

 

2 Weeks!

2 weeks ago today Colorado joined my little family.

An important milestone as I believe when she was last adopted out it only lasted 12 days.

I was thinking about that last night.  She really is a great dog.  Maybe its chemistry?   She’s a completely different dog than she was.

She’s mostly pretty laid back,  except when she wants to play,  then she’s a joyful bundle of fur.  Honestly I don’t even have to play with her.  I take her out into the backyard and she seems content to dash back and forth alternating between throwing her ball and her frisbee around.   Eventually though one of these gets dropped at my feet so I get to play too 🙂

You’ll recall me mentioning that she becomes a stress case when out for walks and she sees other dogs.   I could only take her out for walks when there was little chance of encountering other dogs and I really wanted to be able to walk her when the sun was out.

I stopped by the Feed-All on Saturday morning to pick up some treats for her and cats.  I took a look at their leads and decided to buy a choke chain.  Now, for those of you who think they’re cruel when properly used they’re not.  If you’d think I’d choke my dog (or any dog) to get her to listen to me then you’re sadly misinformed.  The key to proper use is to drape the chain over your dog’s neck so it forms a ‘P’.  When you need to correct behaviour you give the lead a quick snap.   You don’t pull,  you don’t tug.

World’s of difference on the new lead.  She’s been trained before and although she still has her moments she much better behaved.   I’ve been teaching her some new rules.   Every half block or so I stop,  I tell her to sit (which she usually does immediately).  I pause.   I then point to a tree or or other vertical structure and say, “Go sniff!”.   Colorado enthusiastically jumps to the indicated spot and does her dog thing.   I noticed last night and this morning that the little jump/twirl thing she does when she’s finished lands her approximately on my right hand side where I like her to walk.

Other dogs still get her wound up but she’s easier to bring under control.   So now our walks are longer and more enjoyable for both of us!

Other big changes:

She no longer cries when she wants attention.   She will either sit at my knees and stare at me,  or jump on the couch and nudge my hand.  When she does “talk” it means that she has to go out “NOW”.

She’s turning out to be a fussy eater.  Regular followers of my blog will recall how stressed I was with my cocker Shelby as he became very finicky in the later stages of his life.   Not so worried about Colorado.  I’m learning her.   (Coincidentally I pulled out the last bag of dog food I bought for Shelby…the picture of the dog on it looks a lot like Colorado!)

I no longer get bounced on 30 seconds after my alarm goes off.  In fact this morning I had to get up to go to the washroom.    Colorado was lying in bed with her head on my chest.  I glanced at my clock and was a bit shocked to see that it was in “Snooze”.   I still don’t recall slapping the snooze alarm.

I have noticed that Colorado likes music.   I attribute the calm morning dog to Florence and the Machine.  Last week I noticed that when “What the Water Gave Me” came on Colorado stopped bouncing around trying to get me to hurry up and cocked her head towards my alarm clock (where I had my iPhone docked).

I’ve noticed that when she hears another dog that may be in distress that she acts…its hard to describe but she becomes very alert.   On the weekend when we were walking some people were leaving their house.   Their dog was objecting strenuously.    Colorado’s ears perked and she started pacing back and forth trying to find the dog.   She went so far as to jump up and look into parked cars.

Yesterday when we were playing in the backyard.  Our upstairs neighbour dog,  Bella was scratching at the door (as she does when she knows I’m outside).   Colorado immediately gave up our game and ran around trying to find her.

In neither instance was she excited,  or distressed.   It was more like that she was moving with purpose.     Very interesting.

So yeah.   It might be chemistry but there is no question that Colorado is my dog,  and I her human.

The continuing adventures of Colorado the Wonder Dog

I’ve met the anxiety ridden dog everyone told me about.  I can see how someone adopting her,  thinking that an adult dog doesn’t require the amount of attention a puppy does would be overwhelmed.

Of course I am not swayed by any of that.  In me Colorado has found the most stalwart of friends.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading on dealing with dogs, especially ones with “behaviour problems”.   Patience is a must,  but you must also be aware of your own feelings and emotions.    I have a developed an every morphing set of rules to help Colorado settle in and be the happy dog I know she can be.

Rule #1:  Love her openly and unconditionally.

Rule #2:  Never yell,  never hit,  never let her see your frustration.   If you have to,  walk away, leave, whatever.   She’ll still be there when you return.

Rule #3:  Crying, stressed dogs get ignored.  Calm dogs get adored.

This might sound cruel but look at it this way.  Have you ever been on a plane experiencing rough turbulence?   If you have you may have had the presence of mind to see that many passengers watch the cabin crew and take their emotional ques from them.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that as a medic I had a pretty relaxed attitude.    This was invaluable during emergencies.
The reason for this is that people look to the experts.  If they are calm then there’s no reason to panic or worry.

So Colorado sees that her human is so not-worried that he doesn’t even notice her raising the alarm,  so everything must be cool.

She has never had any of stress attacks last more than 30 seconds.  (except when out for walks, but we’ll talk about that)

A very important part of this is to not feel sorry for her.   Again, on the face of it this might seem cruel.  Here’s the thing.    Dog’s can key into human emotion.   I read an article talking about how it is like one of our 5 senses.    If you feel sorry for her,  she’ll sense it.    If you feel sorry for her,  then there must be something going on where you need to feel sorry for her,  so she gets stressed.    Its a circular thing.   The key here is empathize,  don’t sympathize.  (understand that she’s stressed but don’t buy into it).

This is very hard for me.  Cruelty, especially to animals makes me angry.    When I see my lovely,  adorable dog acting out due to some past trauma I want to see red.   But I cannot.

Rule #4:   I (the human) am the alpha.  the pack-leader,  the Boss.   This is a fairly easy role for me,  but dogs are different.   Little things to us are big things to them.    I will never let her in or out ahead of me.   She’s getting really good at this to the point where I don’t make her sit before opening the door.    If she bolts ahead of me though I pull her back and make her sit.
This was actually the easiest thing to teach her.

So,  Saturday morning I met the stress-dog.  I took her out for her morning walk.   Up to Downie Street which can be fairly busy and back down Norfolk.   I should’ve known to turn back when she started acting out but I didn’t (live and learn).    There’s wasn’t much going on, except to Colorado who wanted to be be everywhere and see everything.   I could feel the frustration growing in her and couldn’t get her to calm down.

I finally got her home,  she was freaking out during the last hundred yards or so.   I stayed calm as I tried to calm her.    I couldn’t get her to settle,  but I observed and learned.

I got her in the house,  unclipped her lead and walked away instead of giving her a cookie like I usually do.   She followed me,  whining but within a minute or two settled down.   I gave her a cookie and praised her and it was a happy, excited dog who ran to the couch with her prize (turning around twice to make sure I was following).

This is her less than an hour after that meltdown…

The weekend was a bit of a roller coaster for her,  but I have the rules in place.

Saturday we spent a lot of time in the back yard throwing around her ball and frisbee.

Saturday night I managed a short walk with her before she started getting anxious.   I turned around right away.

The Sunday morning walk was worse.   I made it half a block before she went ballistic over other dogs.   So I brought her back and once again calmed her down.

Sunday afternoon I had her out in the backyard with a harness I’d bought for the car,  just to try it out.   I noticed that when she ran the length of the training leash,  and pulled taut that she immediately came back to me.   I made note of that.  I took her out a few times and played with her in the front yard to get her used to the street and the sights and sounds.

Sunday night’s walk was a success!  We went farther than ever and she was well behaved for most of the trip!

Monday she was too wound up for our nightly walk.   It was bitterly cold and it only last 20 minutes and went for a block…..most of it was “Colorado-sit!”,  and being ignored.   I noticed that as we approached the house that she started behaving so I turned off to take her around the block and she immediately started acting out again.

It was pretty exasperating,  but shortly after we got home she jumped up on the couch and gave me a kiss…so it was all good 🙂

Tuesday I spent most of my time with her.   Playing and observing,  trying to get into her head.    I got her a tie-out so I could put her outside on her own before walks so she could run off any excess energy.

That didn’t work at all.   Last night she knew it was time for her walk.  I put her out while I got my coat on and turned around to see her jumping at the door.   I dressed quickly and grabbed her green leash (which she knows is her “going for a walk” leash).   She saw that and lost all interest in frisbees and balls.

So,  praying for the best,  I clipped her green leash on and headed out.    We went 5 or 6 blocks and she was pretty good.    I tried a different tactic when she started acting out.    Instead of stopping,  I pulled her in beside me (she actually knows “heel”) and walked faster only letting her wander away from me when she was well behaved.

Worked like a charm!  I was exhausted though 🙂    By nature I’m an ambler.    I don’t walk fast but I had Colorado almost at a jog for a fair distance.

When we got home she was keyed up!   Happy,  playful and bouncing around.   I groaning inside (as it was 12:45am).    But,  when I went to bed and turned the light off she plunked herself down beside me and went to sleep!

This morning I only had time for a 2 block walk as I had to get to work.

So yeah,  things are working out just fine 🙂

I have pictures and video but they’re on my computer at home.  I wanted to finish this and post 🙂

Colorado! The dog, not the state. To be more precise MY dog :)

For the life of me I cannot think of why someone hasn’t snatched this darling young lady up before!

In the OSPCA parking lot she postured impressively!   I moved my car before taking her so she wouldn’t think that she was going back.   When I climbed out of my car you’d think that her intention was to tear my head off.

I was not fooled for a second!   🙂

She was a bit distressed as we pulled away,  but there were plenty of dogs about and she settled quickly.   I was expecting some jumping around on the way home and selected a route where there would be very little for her to see.   Hence a pleasant 5 minute trip home.

Of course until she realized we were at our destination.   She was excited and a little hard to control.   I made her sit while I got out of the car and called her.   I walked her up and down the street for a bit,  trying out different commands.

She knows sit,  and I’m pretty sure she knows stay…but she merely chooses not to.

My upstairs neighbour, Deb,  came out to say hello.  Deb is Bella’s mom.  Bella, is a hyper-active, joyful 2 year old Blue Heeler.

As I’m going to work tomorrow and Deb will be home part of the day I gave her my card so she could call me if she heard anything alarming.

I had Colorado sit while I unlocked the door.   I was impressed as it was obvious that she was making an effort to be good and sit…when it was the last thing she wanted to do.

I opened the door and saw that Socks was close by,  back arched and backing away.   I kept the lead on Colorado so I could control first contact.

Both cats calmed surprisingly quickly!

I took Colorado around the house and then let her off the lead so she could explore.

Canine and felines merely eyed each other and went about their business.

I sat with Colorado on the couch for awhile and let her settle in.

I’m very impressed with this dog.   Her foster mom, Barb,  has done a great job!  When offered a treat,  Colorado takes it daintily.  She comes when called and once she settled was actually pretty relaxed.

We’ve had play time in the back yard, which was an odd game of fetch the ball and then sniff all over the place.  (That was Colorado doing the sniffing…not me. Although I was doing a fair amount of fetching!)

She’s wandering around now. I’m half-ignoring her so I can see how she deals with it. Earlier, when she wanted attention she would cry. Now she’s being pretty mellow.

Anyway, time to sign off for a bit.

Here’s a video!

A New Friend…

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This is from the OSPCA Adoption page

Meet Colorado.  She’s a 3 year old German Shepard/Collie cross and tomorrow after work,  she’ll be coming home with me!

As I’ve said previously,  I have been considering getting a new dog for quite some time.  In the past few weeks it was feeling more and more right.   Like the energy a canine companion brings into one’s life would fit right in.

I went to the Perth County OSPCA yesterday here in Stratford.

While I was interested in knowing more about a beagle named Maggie and Colorado the only things I had set in my mind for my new friend was that they get along with cats,  and that they could be left alone while I was at work.

I also wasn’t really interested in a dog that could easily find a new home.  I have the patience,  the fortitude and the resources to deal with a dog that needs a human willing to go the extra mile.

Colorado is at a foster home so I couldn’t meet her yesterday, but Barb, her foster mom was there so I had the opportunity to talk to her.

The message was the same from the staff and the volunteers who knew her.  She needed a forever home,  but her human had to be patient and relaxed…and dedicated.

Once I adopt a dog…that’s it.   She’s mine.  As I said in my previous post that even if it comes down to kidnapping Cesar Milan so he could help us that’s what I would do.   It won’t come to that of course, we have several very good dog trainers in town.   And I’m almost certain it would be less trouble to just book an appointment and pay them instead of trying to smuggle an unwilling dog whisperer into the country.

Anyway,  I met Colorado tonight!   She has some anxiety problems and doesn’t like being driven to the shelter.   I heard her coming down the street and was concerned a dog was in distress.

Once she was out of the car though she was fine.  I waited across the parking lot so Barb could bring her to me.   Colorado pulled the leash hard and growled as she approached me,  but I wasn’t concerned.

I ignored her and talked to Barb until,  after a few minutes she sat down quietly beside me. (Colorado, not Barb…Barb remained standing)

I talked to Colorado then,  giving her some attention.   She responded well.  Once I took the leash that dog wanted to move!  So yes,  she’ll need some leash training.   No problem there.  I’m stronger than she is…at least for the first few minutes 🙂

Barb and I talked while Colorado bolted around the off leash area,  investigating, running to and fro.  Within minutes she seemed relaxed and happy dashing to and fro.

I watched her interactions with Barb.  I was a stranger to her,  she wasn’t hostile or aggressive to me,  and she responded well to me so I was more interested in how she interacted with her foster mom (because that gives me an idea how she will respond to me when she’s familiar with me).

It wasn’t long into our visit that I made the decision.  Colorado is going to be my dog.

I’m picking her up for a visit tomorrow after work.   I’ll be able to see how she is on her own while I’m at work on Friday,  and I booked next Monday and Tuesday off so I can work with her (I do plan on getting up and leaving for an hour or so each morning though).

You’ll be hearing quite a bit of my adventures with Colorado I hope.   About the only thing that would ruin this is if there is bloodshed between Colorado and the cats.

But the cats have been around dogs,  and Colorado has been around cats.   So I think everything will work itself out.