The Sliding Door v Zach

When people say “he/she has the persistence of a pitbull” they weren’t kidding! Our pit-lab mix Zach loves to assert his dominance over certain areas of his realm (aka our new house) and he will not budge until he gets his way. Stubborn. Will cry, whine and bark until you fulfill certain requests. His crown jewel is asking us to keep the sliding door open so he can access the yard at his own volition.

The fun part is that my husband refuses to leave the door open during certain times of the day. Therefore, Z goes outside and comes back to a closed door. He proceeds to inform us he want to come in, which my husband refuses to do. “Open the door so I can go out again, bro”. We get caught in this dance of pausing whatever we are doing to open and close the door behind him. Guess my original idea of getting a sliding door opener is back on the drawing board.

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As I type this, Zach is inside the house staring into the great outdoors. He loves the smells and sounds of the yard. The door, to him, a mere accomplice, that lets him see what is happening right outside his domain. The truth is they are allies, not enemies, and we had yet to realize it. With the sliding door as his co-conspirator and gateway to freedom, Z always wins.

Zach v Vet: Round 2

A year ago, Zach was exhibiting symptoms of digestive distress so we had to venture into the real world to take him to the vet. Back then it was a very slow and stressful ordeal to get him muzzled and leashed to coerce him into our SUV and lead him to the examination room. He would lunge, bark and growl at every single human or animal he would see. Even with heavy sedation he would still try to protect himself. 😣πŸ˜₯πŸ˜–

Miraculously, it took half the time and even less than half the effort to muzzle, leash and coerce him into the CX-9. He went voluntarily with the assistant and didn’t bark or growl at her. When they sent him to the exam room he didn’t react to the staff that was in and out of the 8×8 cell; and that’s being generous. The vet took him out back where “a puppy with a death wish” barked and “charged” at Z who dismissed him with a quick bark and ignore. In the X-ray room, with a bit more sedation than the 60 mgs of fluoxetine we were told to give him in the morning, he allowed himself to be examined. After a short stay in a kennel run, he was returned to us safe and sound.

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The diagnosis was a hint of hip dysplasia with a muscular sprain on the opposing hind leg. He will need to rest and keep still for a few days until the muscle heals. His canines are a bit worn down for his age so he was told to lay off the Jolly Balls or at least be gentler with them. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ As an athlete, he is devastated he will need to rest for at least 3 more days, more if he can spare it. Follow up won’t be necessary unless the limp gets worse. Please send him strong vibes to assist him in the healing process and to keep him calm. He shook himself tired after both car rides, the anxiety overwhelming him, and has no interest in food, yet.

Northwest Animal Hospital treated Zach so well that he rewarded them with his best behavior. I can’t thank them enough for checking him out and taking good care of him while he recovered from the sedative. He is forever grateful for the attention and love he got and we were amazed at how much improvement he has shown when handling situations like these. It’s really impressive how much he has grown as a member of our family. πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ€—

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Paws crossed he is running amok in the yard soon!

Zach’s Pack!

When we moved to my sister’s townhome, we knew that the next door neighbor used to complain about her dogs so we figured Zach would receive the same treatment. For months we wondered when she was going to complain and one day, out of the blue, we realized why she hadn’t: they had been planning to adopt a dog and figured they didn’t have a right to complain anymore.

Their dog barks A LOT but not enough to bother us. The entire row of homes is dog owner occupied so adding one more dog to the mix wasn’t outrageous. Curiously though, Zach wasn’t concerned about the other barkers but having a peer to close to him gave him anxiety and got his wheels spinning. He used to lunge at the fence and make a scene until either he or the neighbors ‘ pet was put away. Their exchanges rallied up the rest of the canines which created a cacophony of woofs that could wake up the deepest sleeper. We feared someone would complain about this but after a few days, the pack settled and found their groove.

Now when he goes out Zach says hi to his buddy next door and made peace with not being able to see or smell them over the fence. He went from “Hey dog, stay away!” to “Oh hi, wanna play?”. We have not ventured to introduce them but Z is giving the impression he can handle being around dogs and not reacting through the fence. Baby steps. Hopefully he will continue to ignore dogs through the fence at the new place. I wonder if he will be missing his new friends once we move into the ChΓ’teau. πŸ€”

Zach runs to the door to go outside and listen to his pals play and bark. It is amazing how unphased he appears to be, even with the lower dose of Prozac. I am inclined to believe he knows the dogs won’t hurt him because the fence protects him. Hopefully he carries this belief with him into the future so we can build and improve on his quality of life. Who knows? If he does well, he may even be able to tolerate a fur sibling!

Stay tuned…

Zach’s Pet Mole

Zach is one of those non confrontational introverted types so he stays away from everything that scares him. He’ll bark and growl and shake off the stress but he won’t come after you unless you are a squirrel or a ball. Hence it came as no suprise to us that, even though his hills were tall and vast, the mole living in our backyard and Z managed to coexist for a few days before we noticed the problem. I’m sure mister mole gets mad because our dog tramples all over his mounds and flattens the soil in 0 seconds flat but he seems to see the bright side; he isn’t being chased or pestered by a 60 lb predator. Maybe Z likes the company and the challenge. Who knows! They could be best buds and we wouldn’t be able to tell.

Most terrier dogs would be tearing up the mounds and hunting the digger, waiting until it pops up to kill it. Not Zach. He runs the entire yard chasing his jolly ball, pooping in the same spots as always. The mole works around the territorial markings as if taunting him or honoring their accord. We haven’t decided which humane pest control approach to use but we worry that the longer we wait Zach could get bitten or scratched. However, they seem to have worked out a schedule. As well as I can tell they have entirely avoided each other. Phew!

Hopefully Zach doesn’t get too attached. At some point the mole will have to go. For now, out of sight, out of mind.

Stay tuned…

Happy First Foster Anniversary, Zach!

Wow! It has been a year since we started to foster Zach. Even though we wanted to adopt him, we know there might be a better place for him out there, so we will continue to foster him, and treasure him, for as long as life gives us. We haven’t been able to move yet to our new home so we owe him the green grass we promised. It is thanks to our love and support that he is alive! Thanks to all his peeps and donors. Without you we wouldn’t have Z.

Please enjoy a year in the life of The Most Introverted Dog in the World!

My Beef With “Pet Friendly” Hotels

You’d think that finding a pet friendly hotel would have been easy since it is a trending subject but after a thorough search of rooms near us, we found only one that really was all inclusive of pet breeds: La Quinta Inn. A few Best Westerns and one Extended Stay America were willing to take German Shepherd mixes and Pit/Lab mixes, as well as their full pedigree versions but it took some finagling to get them to agree.

What irked me is that the pet friendly policy was restrictive to a fault; it excludes anything over 36 lbs, most large breeds and pits, and even if there is no breed restrictions you can only have 2 dogs max. If you can board your dogs and/or afford a sitter this is no big deal but if you are moving or have a housing emergency it becomes a huge problem unless you have friends willing to put you up for a few nights or weeks. It took us days to find the perfect VRBO or AirBnB host and location, and in the end the pricing scared us away. When none of these alrernatives work you will have to get creative, like RV camp creative.

There is a need to create more pet friendly environments that set up both the owners and the hotels up for success. Insurance companies need to lighten up a bit and realize many of these large and pit bull mixes and breeds aren’t really a liability after all. Maybe, and this is an idea ripe for the taking, they should offer a pet travel and hotel room policy that can be purchased with your stay. I’d pay for everyone’s peace of mind. You can also add kennels to the list of items people can borrow or rent for a fee. Hmm…maybe I need to develop this concept. I know it will sell.

In the meantime hotels, please list the complete pet policy restrictions on your website and/or add it to the travel booking site descriptions. It took me about an hour of holding and calling front desks to get the true meaning of pet friendly out of y’all and it was heart breaking and disappointing! I’m here trying to move and it was harder to find a place for my sister’s non PTSD, house trained canines because even the boarding places share the same restrictions!! I mean come on people…

Before you travel make sure the pet friendly hotel is really pet friendly. You’d be surprised how quickly a comfy family stay can turn into a nightmare if you are mislead by the pet friendly label. It applies to AirBnB and VRBO too.

Travel and move wisely.

Deconstructing Zach

When I was little my mom let me watch the movie Reconstructing Henry in which Harrison Ford plays a wealthy man that loses his memory and motor skills due to an accident. As he starts piecing together his life he realizes that he used to be a horrible person and that his new condition presented itself as an opportunity to redeem himself. I always found the human brain fascinating and once I learned the canine brain was similar, my fascination found a whole new area of study. That is why Zach has been a true blessing. I have enjoyed researching every possibily to ensure his success. Lately his Prozac dosage seems to be causing him side effects because of his weight loss; the 40 mgs to his 50-55 lbs may be the reason he doesn’t sleep at night and doesn’t eat his meals sometimes. Add another one to the many variables we already have to control to keep him well balanced and wiggly. This definitely wasn’t the twist we were expecting!

Almost a year into the #projectZach experience I have observed and catalogued so many of behavioral responses and treatment/training options that I could write a book. Even though it is a herculean task some days, the ups and downs have given me a new perspective on how difficult it must be to care for children and the mentally challenged. Taking care of a special needs being requires a lot of love and great resolve. From the vet behaviorist’s prescription failures to the huge training progress, we have firsthand knowledge of what works and what doesn’t and proof it is all worth while. I’m tempted to enroll in vet school and make this the subject if my thesis so others can benefit from our story. The truth is we need more certified behaviorists if we plan to continue to treat pets with mental health issues. I can’t fathom putting a family member down when a $5 a month prescription can help stabilize them. More people need to be introduced to this concept. Leave no pet behind…

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Now that we are full circle and have witnessed Zach through the change of the seasons, I know what we are up against and what his potential forever family should do to keep him running like the cuddly, lean, playful machine he is. If I deconstruct Zach he can tell you these are his commandments for a happy puppy life:

1. Thou shall feed me treats and call me a good boy whenever there are strange noises around so I associate them with good experiences.

2. Thou shall serve me peanut butter that has no sweeteners or artificial ingredients inside a bone that is safe. The Fred Meyer peanut butter brand is my favorite. πŸ™‚

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3. Thou shall provide me with infinite red Jolly Balls and medium sized squeeker tenis balls. I also welcome large sized balls and tug toys but they are not as beloved as the top two.

4. Thou shall feed me twice a day, at least a pound of yummy homemade dog friendly food. I will accept treats, cheese, cottage cheese and bully sticks in between meals to pass the time. Broccoli is not my favorite but I shall eat it especially if it is enveloped in golden paste or coconut oil.

5. Thou shall keep the leash and muzzle away from me unless absolutely necessary. I rather have the vet come to me.

6. Car rides are okay as long as there is something cool for me to do at the end of the ride. A peaceful enclosed huge space, not too far away from home, would be ideal.

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7. Thou shall have confidence and will power around me. I need a strong fearles leader to help me through my days. If you need me to be strong I can be, but not for too long. I get scared or anxious if you do so as well.

8. Thou shall not bathe me unless you train me. I hate water coming from a hose or a too wet of a towel. You can attempt to clean me with a moist towel or a dry microfiber cloth to clean my paws but not too often. Someone hurt my paws when I was younger and I growl and muzzle punch when you are holding my paws. It makes me remeber the trauma.

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9. Thou shall provide multiple beds with raised edges or pillows for me to choose where to lay my head. Once in a while I may ask to sleep with you in your bed but I am happy sleeping on my own. Be consistent so I don’t get confused and anxious outside your door.

10. Thou shall give me my space and peace and quiet. I don’t mind hanging out for hours by myself as long as I get time outside to decompress and exercise. I like to come in and out at leisure, so mechanisms like doggy doors are necessary if you don’t want to open and close doors for me.

11. Thou shall love me unconditionally and not fear me. I may get reactive but it will soon pass. I will try to lick you after an event and show you I still care but I can obey a command to leave you alone.

if you need to shake it off. πŸ™‚

On that note, Zach does a lot of shaking off to control his mood and level set himself. It is one of my favorite noises to hear because he is self soothing. Dogs tend to shake when they are changing gears or activities, a good sign they are ready for the next adventure. He needs space to do this and often cleans his paws in our carpet with the motion. A pet vacuum comes in handy for these occasions. Hehe πŸ˜‰

If anyone out there still doubts that a pet is like a family member or a child, they can come talk to us about Zach to have their mind blown. The abuse and lack of socialization Zach suffered before being rescued gave him a handicap that is hard to overcome but the positive results his training has yielded are truly rewarding. His affection and enthusiasm are worth every penny spent on him. My heart goes out to my peeps and those with family members that suffer from anxiety and PTSD conditions. The amount of strength required to make them comfortable and offer a tranquil environment can seem insurmountable but once you work through the kinks, it can become manageable. We follow these rules and continue to reinforce basic commands to ensure his success.

Can’t wait to see what the future holds for Z!

The Zach Diaries: 11 mos Update

Zach has been with us for eleven months now. Wow! Time flew by so fast. πŸ˜€ He has been the best decision we have ever made work after getting married. It hasn’t been all bubbles and rainbows but we enjoy it to the fullest even when sleep is being interrupted. We don’t know why he may be failing to stay asleep at night or to enjoy his time without us. 😦 Since his mast cell tumor diagnosis remains unresolved, a mystery to all of us because we don’t feel that putting our puppy through a biopsy will be beneficial for his psyche, we can’t really assume he is in pain or uncomfortable. The tumor hasn’t gotten any bigger and he sleeps well during the day with almost no nightmares! I’m happy to report that he is responding well to his over the counter histamine reduction medication and low sugar, low carb diet. Paws crossed he lasts us all an entire pit bull mix lifetime (10+ years) and that the tumor doesn’t grow or spreads.

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Jolly Ball time!

While here with us he has truly gained a lot of confidence and even learned new tricks! He gives out his paw on command, lies on his side for cuddles and knows when to get off and when to lie down when he is on top of you. Every so often he bring us his ball and if we ask for the tug rope he brings it! Gotta admit he is super smart and picks things up fast even when we don’t try to train him. Many of the exchanges we have with him in Spanish do yield results too. I think he is fluent in English, Spanish and dog. XD

The last of his shenanigans was to breach a barricade we had set up to avoid the muddy part of our side yard.

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The Barricade
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The muddy mud-skipper

Without missing a beat he fit through a hole and played, crying for help to get back to the backyard and eventually to his water and food bowl. He has always feared small or enclosed spaces and curtains; now he moves through these barriers without hesitation. I can’t describe the pride we felt when he dared to do the things we never thought possible.

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Although we can’t really promise to not have children to keep our boy forever, we will continue to foster, host and love him indefinitely until it is time to seriously consider other alternatives. If we confirm suburban life is not for him, Rescue Pup will help him find a more rural environment. We are all vested in his success especially his financial supporters and volunteer corp. I can’t thank them enough for having furthered his training and diagnosis. We are better equipped to give him the life he deserves because of this. Here’s to many more adventures.

Love you Zackapoo!

Zachapoo!

It has been 10 months already since we started to foster Zach and although there is a very strong sense that he will not be able to stay with us forever, we are enjoying the possibility of hosting him indefinitely. With the new house almost finished, we hope to move before the middle of October so Z can enjoy the freshly laid sod and run around until he is pooped. We are in no hurry to see him leave our family circle but we known that at some point it may happen. Our Zachapoo has come a long way and we are very blessed to have been witnesses of his journey.

Time flies and every day that passes we fall more and more in live with this little troublemaker. Even the people viewing our home, which is still for sale, see his good nature behind the guard dog barking facade. I can’t imagine how hard it will be to see him take the car ride to his forever home. So much rides on finding him the perfect family and we sincerely hoped we could be it, his last move. Zach is very lean and with his new diet we fear he is not being able to put on the extra weight he needs to be healthy through this cancer scare. I really hope he does not have MCT. But we don’t get to choose how long he lives with us. We just have to hope he has many more years ahead of him.

My foster puppy turns out will be 3 in December. He is still very young and active. As the weather gets cooler and the days shorter we notice that he sleeps a bit more and asks for cuddles and attention. I love his sweet disposition. I am truly honored to be the place where he feels comfortable enough to lay down his head and snooze. Trust is a beautiful thing. I can’t imagine how I will live without his love and companionship. *Sigh*

Paws crossed it all works out for the best!

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