Guest Post: I Brought Fluffy Home This Morning, Now What?

Hey everyone! I am beyond excited to introduce our very first guest blog post! This great informational article is brought to you by Nicole Silvers, a Canine Behavior Expert and owner of Silver Sky Canine Behavior Consulting, LLC. She can also be found on twitter @pitbull_fan76. Nicole is an amazing woman who has dedicated her life to helping shelter dogs, as adopted adolescents are her specialty. She also volunteers her time at several rescue organizations in her area. Check out her site for more information!

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I Brought Fluffy Home This Morning, Now What?

When you bring a shelter or rescue pet home, chances are good, you’ve got an adolescent. While there are the occasional puppy and elderly dog adoptions, primarily, shelters receive dogs between 1-3 years of age.

Regardless of what kind of dog you get, where you got it, and what kind of training you have done, the adolescent phase is characterized by the first appearance of some behaviors. Although things like reduced responsiveness to commands, running away, digging, barking, destructive behavior, humping, challenging other dogs, and others are typical for the phase, these behaviors are unwanted behaviors, which explains the frequent surrender of these dogs.

On the positive side, adolescent dogs have the ability to focus on training in a much more intense way than they could as puppies. So, whether you get a shelter “teen” or have raised a puppy into a teen, adolescence is an ideal time to train dogs into stable, reliable adult companions.

Ideally, a dog adopted as an adolescent will go with his owner directly into a humane, effective group or private training class from day one. Many people feel that the dog needs to adjust, and that the dog will adjust most rapidly without their participation, which they call “interference”. Nothing could be further from the truth! Helping your dog acclimate by developing a clear communication system as the foundation of your relationship is the perfect way to start bonding from day one.

Another common misconception is that dogs will “outgrow” bad behaviors. The behaviors practiced through adolescence –whether good or bad– eventually become lifelong adult habits. Proper guidance will ensure that your dog’s lifelong habits are the ones you like.

If you are seeing troublesome behaviors, such as biting, growl, resource guarding, fighting with other dogs, etc., private training is the best place for you, then a group class specializing in “troubled dogs”, followed by a “normal” group class is the best way to ensure your and your dog’s successful resolution of behavior problems.

In selecting a professional, there are many styles of training that can be both humane AND effective. No one style of training works for all dogs. All approaches have potential side effects. However, all good training provides consistency, patience, lack of anger or frustration, no hitting, yelling, or kicking. Reward-only training is a great way to start, but it can tax the patience of both dog and owner, as you simply wait for the dog to do the right thing & reward it. Punishment-only training is a very poor way to start a trusting relationship with a new addition! There are a number of blended styles that use both active reward and humane & non-painful punishment to encourage the dog’s behavior.

To establish if your potential professional is reputable, don’t rely too heavily on stories from a few owners, who may not be able to accurately assess why their dog succeeded and how your dog compares. References from dog-savvy individuals, like other pro trainers, dog sport competitors, active members of rescue organizations, and reputable breeders.

Always look for a professional who has experience with re-homed dogs. They may pick up on potential issues that you can avoid, preventing problems before they arise.

Nicole Silvers owns Silver Sky Canine Behavior Consulting, llc, providing in-home private training. She specializes in adopted adolescent dogs, often with extreme behaviors.

In Response to False Accusations

Hey everyone. You may have noticed that Nikki & I have been having some troubles with another twitter user recently. Not sure if you know who (it’s not hard to find out if you really care) but I’m not going to mention her name on here. The point of this post is to defend our intentions both with this site and with our twitter accounts @RescueAnimals & @LastChancePets. It started several weeks ago when I started seeing people tweeting about animals on urgent lists & realizing how it could really make a difference in getting them rescued. I began by passing on the info on @RescueAnimals but I was worried that those tweets would get lost amongst all the others I pass on so I came up with the idea to create @LastChancePets which would focus solely on posting urgent lists from shelters. I found my information from several sources but there was someone that I tweeted more often. Sometimes I did the typical RT @username format but as I got into it more I found that there was a format that I thought worked best for the animals. I always like my urgent list tweets to read like this: “Location – Animals Needing Rescue by This Date – link – More Info If Room – via @username” This is how I retweeted this person & everyone else’s. There were no problems for awhile. I even got a #followfriday from this person twice. Then on June 20th I tried to ask this user a question about a dog in California because there had been no contact information in her post and Nikki & I really wanted to know what had happened to her. That’s when I found out that this user had blocked @LastChancePets. I asked her why & got a snippy response about stealing her tweets & changing them. I tried to explain to her that I give her credit at the end of the tweets & that due to the constraints of 140 chars I had to reword some parts but she never responded to me.

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A Dog Named Denver

Last night, Ash was doing her usual evening ritual of tweeting on @RescueAnimals while I was lazy and watched TV, when she suddenly read out loud a tweet from our friend, Michelle:

“Pissed. A friend is putting his 3yo dog down because for no good reason.” – Phridae, 5:51 PM Jun 30th from TweetDeck.

The Story

Of course, I jumped up and grabbed my phone and called her to find out more (sometimes Twitter’s 140 characters really is limiting). Apparently, her neighbor’s dog, Denver, a beautiful white German Shepherd mix, had been hit by a car around Memorial day and his leg was broken. They had brought him to the vet and his leg was in a cast, but because he was in so much pain he had become snappy and less happy. The family did not want to deal with him like that, and could not afford to replace his cast again (he kept chewing them up), and decided that the only alternative was to put him down.

I didn’t find out all of this at once – I learned a lot of this information through various phone calls with Shelly, the vet, and the woman who owned Denver. Actually, the woman was the mother of the guy who originally bought the dog, but he moved and left the dog with his parents, even though they had not wanted such a big dog in their lives. It was unfortunate for them, but it was even more unfortunate for poor Denver.

Thankfully, after talking with Shelly, Ash immediately put out a call for help on Twitter and our wonderful followers began retweeting the message like mad. We didn’t know if any of this would help at all though because the other thing we had found out was that the dog was already at the vet and was going to be put down first thing in the morning. I scrounged around on google and found the number for the vet he was at, and called, but of course they weren’t open and the overnight receptionist was not that helpful. While I was busy making calls, Ash got in contact with the too-good-to-be-true Sara Schultz of Pet Sitting by SAS who was interested in helping and taking the dog in despite his medical needs. Being that she was only a few towns over, and had room, and was looking for a dog just like Denver, the match was absolutely perfect.

Now if only we could get a hold of the vet before it was too late.

It was a sleepless night and the vet opened up at 8. I’m impatient though and called at around 7:40 – this receptionist was a little more helpful though the vet still wasn’t open and he couldn’t really give me any information until the real clinic opened. He took a message though and said that he’d tell them to call us. I didn’t wait that long either. As soon as it hit 8, Ash jumped on the phone and finally got a hold of the real Clinton Clinic and found out that Denver was still alive – they hadn’t put him down yet! The woman she talked to discussed Denver’s situation with the vet and then informed Ash that they would hold off on euthanizing Denver until we could talk to his owners and get them to sign over custody of the dog to someone else. Things seemed to be falling into place. Or so it seemed.

I know this story is getting long, but bear with me. It’s a good one. The vet had given us the phone number of the owners, but after several tries and no word back, Ash called the vet again to see how long we had. The receptionist looked for another number and discovered they had the son’s cell number. They called him but had to leave a message as well. All the while, Ash continued to keep in contact with Sara, who was more than willing to be there for the dog. I was texting Shelly to keep her in the loop when she told me that the son (her friend and neighbor) was calling the vet back. Ash and I waited on pins and needles to hear back from someone to find out if they would relinquish ownership of the dog. A little bit later, the vet called Ash back to tell her that the owners will willing to sign the dog over. The room just lit up and we were smiling and happy and almost in tears we were so glad that things had worked out.

Sara called us, and she and I talked about Denver, what he would need, and what she was able to give him. The more we talked, the more I just knew that this was the perfect home for this dog. She already had a solid plan on his therapy, what she hoped to accomplish, and what goals she wanted to set up for him. It sounded amazing. Unfortunately, the drama wasn’t over. The stress continued when I got a call back from the woman who had the dog first. She wanted to know about Sara and how we had found out about her dog and other information, and as we talked, she told me that she was no longer sure she wanted to give the dog up.

Of course, I got kind of upset considering the fact that her dog would have been dead had we not called the vet to stop them, and now she wasn’t sure if she wanted to give the dog to someone else. It was stressful and confusing, and after hanging up, I began to worry that the dog was going to have to go back to a home that had little time and energy for his problems.

Again, we waited anxiously to find out what the real final verdict would be. Finally, Shelly called, having just been talking to her friend, and let us know that they were giving the dog up and that they believed that that was what was best. A huge sigh of relief swept through the room, and not ten minutes later, Sara called again to let us know that was going to be picking up the dog from the vet as soon as all of his medications and toys were dropped off and the papers were signed. The whole situation was amazing and everything actually worked out! Denver was saved from an untimely death, and the wonderful Sara has a beautiful new friend.

Denver

Donations – Still Need Help!

Of course, Sara will still need help with Denver. He will have many vet visits to go through before he can fully heal, and possible surgery and recasting. This takes a lot of money, and while she’s willing to do everything possible for him regardless of cost, I know that both she and Denver will appreciate it if we could all chip in and help them out.

If you would like to donate money to Denver’s cause, click on the button above and in the Message area of the PayPal donation, please say something to the effect of “For Denver” to let us know where you want the money to go. (If you’d like to make a general donation to ILRA to help us run the site, you may write that as well, or you could help us pay off our own vet bill for the rescues we took in.) We will then send all the donations for Denver to Sara to help her with all the costs of keeping her new pup healthy and happy. We would all be so grateful for any help we can get.

I am beyond happy that we managed to save Denver – it all started with one tweet and it grew. Ash and I would like to thank everyone who retweeted the story, offered to help, and those of who have already said that you will be making donations for Denver’s vet bills, and to those of who called the Clinton Vet Clinic to make sure Denver wasn’t put down. We appreciate it more than you know. You guys are amazing.

If we can save one dog, we can save more. Every one of them counts.