Saturday, May 25, 2013

Shelter Dog Saturday - Meet Cooper

07/05/13 Update: I got word from the Humane Society of Western Montana that Cooper was adopted today! Congratulations to Cooper's new family! 

Today, I'm starting a new series of posts that will be dedicated to my local shelter dogs awaiting their forever homes.

Kootenai Pets for Life is a non-profit, community volunteer run, no-kill dog and cat shelter.

Not a single one of the wonderful people who care for these animals gets paid. They are all 100% volunteer run. They do an awesome job of caring for these animals, but things can get overwhelming at times, and during those times, they have a difficult time finding enough time in their days to work at getting dogs adopted. Most of the time they rely on people finding their dogs through their PetFinder page, or by simply walking through the door and meeting one of our wonderful dogs. The problem is we are a small community...our town has a population of less than 2,500 people, our county has only 3 towns, and the population of our very, very large county is around 18,000 people. We are rural and sparsely populated. And then add that many of our residents are low-income, we are at an all time high for joblessness AND our town has a Breed Specific Legislation...a ban on any and all breeds that are a bully-dog/mix.

With this ridiculous BSL in place, having 3 wonderful Bully mixes at our shelter is a challenge. These 3 poor girls...Spud, Gweeda and Maggie...have been living at our shelter from 1 to 1.5 YEARS! Isn't that crazy? They are great dogs...but because they look like "pit bulls", no one in our community is interested in them.

We even have one dog that has been living at the shelter for 7+ years now...a sweet hound named Scooby. After his owner died, none of his relatives wanted him, and one else did either. He's no longer up for adoption, but we don't even have foster home resources here so that this old man (around 15 yrs old I think) can live out his days in a loving home.

I'm on the computer all the time, so I offered the shelter my services to be their online media coordinator and contacting breed rescue groups and other shelters that might be able to help our dogs find homes.

The shelter has done a great job with the resources they've had, and I'm hoping to continue that by offering up fresh ideas for their website, PetFinder page, and Facebook page. I'll also be helping them implement some training for their dog volunteers so that they can help train the dogs on life skills that can reduce shelter stress and help get them adopted.

So... Please meet Cooper.
Oh, Hey! I'm Cooper :)

Cooper looks like a coonhound mix....and the current guess is that he's mixed with an Australian Shepard. Cooper is about 1.5 yrs old and his owners turned him into the shelter in January because they were moving.

He's a sweet boy, loves to be loved on, loves to be outside and explore all the smells of nature...and he is also blind. He's been blind since birth so being unable to see is no big deal to Cooper.

Being at our shelter was a challenge in navigation for Cooper, and tough on super sensitive ears. So we contacted the Humane Society of Western Montana in Missoula, MT for some help. They have an awesome training program already in place and a kennel situation that will be easier for Cooper to navigate.

Last Monday I drove Cooper the nearly 4-hour drive to Missoula, MT. He crated wonderfully, was very relaxed and slept the entire drive. In all, he was a superstar traveler.

You can find updates on Cooper at the Humane Society of Western Montana's Facebook page. He is doing great working through their Paws Ahead training program and is officially up for adoption.

If you have the room in your home and heart for a snuggle bug like Cooper, please contact the Humane Society of Western Montana for how you can give Cooper his new forever home.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Reaching That Milestone

Six months...we've reached six months post knee surgery and Holly looks fantastic :) So fantastic that our chiro/acu vet didn't think she needed to be seen again for 2-3 fact she called her my "perfect dog". Okay, so she was pandering to me...whatever, I'll take it!

And...wait for it...I'm letting her do agility.

While training Danee, I've let Holly do some agility in the yard and she's been looking great. We had my one and only "local" agility trial ("local" as in the closest at 2 hrs away) last weekend, so I loaded up the girls and we went for a few hours. I volunteered, caught up with a few people I haven't seen in months, socialized Danee (who did super awesome at handling her first trial atmosphere), and I let Holly run in 3 classes...Regular, Tunnelers and Hoopers.

Chilling out at the agility trial

For those not familiar with agility lingo...or for that matter, NADAC agility lingo...Regular is a class in which courses are made up of all obstacles...weaves, A-frame, jumps, hoops, tunnels, and dog walk. You have to run them in order and you dog must perform them without faults in order to earn a qualifying run...aka, a "Q". Tunnelers is a course made up of all open tube-like tunnels. It's what we call a "games" class and it's lots of fun to run. Hoopers is another games class. It's a handling challenge and is a course made up of all hoops that dogs simply flat run through. Sounds boring right? Yeah, I think so too...but Holly seems to like it.

Even though Holly is an Elite dog (there are 3 levels: Novice, Open and Elite), I ran her in a Novice Regular class because Novice only has 6 weave poles in it. I'm not totally convinced that weaving doesn't bother her back, so I didn't want our first run to test that by asking her to do 12 weaves. She ran in Elite Tunnelers which only means she needs to run faster than the lower levels to "Q". And she ran in Open Hoopers since she didn't have all the qualifying runs she needed to run in Elite...she does now though!

Here are our 3 runs, full of mistakes and all. After 6 agonizing months, I'm just super thrilled that she's able to play agility at any level at all. Life is too short to care about how well we did or didn't do. She had fun, I had fun and that's all I care about :)


Our next agility trial won't be until October...hopefully Danee will make her agility debut, Holly will be fitter than fit and my handling won't be so rusty by then.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sun Yourself Sunday

A special appearance by my neighbors dog Fenway. He's pretty sure I should just let him in.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Best Buddies, a Confession and a Problem

Holly has always been comfortable around Danee, but lately the two of them have become actual friends.

Normally I'd be filled with glee over Holly actually enjoying another dogs company all the time...but Holly's feelings towards Danee provide a bit of a conundrum for me.

Confession time. When I agreed to take Danee I knew she was sweet and would be a pretty easy fit for Holly and the cats. I also knew that her personality doesn't really mesh with mine...she's lovely, but she's just not my kind of dog at all. But I wanted to keep her out of the shelter and also work on fixing some of the habits she's learned over the years. I figured that if things didn't work between us I'd find her someone that appreciates all her and all of her smallness. That said, I also promised myself that I'd keep her for at least 3 months...time enough for her to adjust so I can get to know her real personality.

Those 3 months are almost up and I still don't feel that differently towards her. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with her, she's a joy to teach, she's a superstar at agility, and she "fits" into the house...even the cats like her! And she's easy...super 1000 times easier than living with Holly, or Casey, or any other dog I've known.

Sadly, I can't help feeling "meh" about her personality.

And here's my problem...Holly adores her. That's really saying something. Holly is very picky about her friends. My plan was to find another dog this upcoming winter. For years I've had my heart set on a heeler or heeler mix. But if Danee stays, that can't happen...I will not do 3 dogs. And if Danee left, that next dog might not be a great fit for Holly, or the cats, like Danee has been.

Maybe I'm just feeling that loss of that dream and unconsciously blaming Danee for it? Has anyone else felt this way about a dog that showed up in their life...a dog that they didn't get to choose? Am I just looking a gift horse in the mouth? Am I being an idiot?

Anyway, she's not going anywhere until I figure out how I feel...which will probably take several more months. Who knows, by then maybe Danee will have totally won me over like she has Holly.

All that aside, we are totally enjoying spring and all the outdoor fun that comes with it.

Look who is no longer hiding from the camera

Did you hear that? Ground squirrels are calling me!

Bonus picture of Raj. How could you not love this face?!