Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm Going Home!

No, silly, I'm not going back to Cleveland. That would just be weird. But the good news is that I finally found my forever family!

Maybe I should have said something earlier, but I didn't want to jinx it. See, BADRAP has a pretty thorough adoption process so my new family had to jump through many, many hoops. First, they had to fill out the application, do an interview, and then meet me to see if I was really the one for them. Then, both my new parents had to take me through class, each of them learning to handle me. I must admit, class is probably my weakest element because I get so excited seeing the other dogs, but they miraculously still wanted me! After that, they had to go through a homecheck which ensures that their home is set up and suitable for a dog like me.

In the meantime, they were also coming to visit me almost every single day. They would spend time with Ana and me and learned all about my little quirks and how to communicate with me best. Their visits were the highlight of my day, and I can hardly believe that I get to go home with them really, really soon.

But before I left, we went on one last vacation to Stinson Beach. The trip was with a whole bunch of other dogs, most of whom I'd met but never played with before, and we got the chance to hang out together on a beach romp.

We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.

I really got to cut loose. Even Elliot, who is a *really* fast dog, could barely keep up with me.

I even went wading in the ocean

It was a pretty awesome last vacation with Ana, but I know I'm going to an even better place for life. Did you know that my new parents are martial arts instructors and I'm going to be surrounded by kids? Yeah, it's pretty much the dream life for an active, social dog like me. The best part is that they're just as excited to have me join their lives as I am to have a forever home. Just look at the sweet note they put up to introduce me to their students.

Yep, I have a feeling that I'm about to be one spoiled doggie! Promise to keep you guys updated with my new life, once I get settled.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Love Cats!

It used to be that I liked to chase cats. Don't get me wrong, still do, but I'm also learning to appreciate cats in a different way. The biggest help has been going slow and having a dog-social cat.

For instance, when I first started staying with Ana, I really wanted to chase Pirate. I would stare at her and whine, but Ana would distract me and she made sure to keep us separate and safe. If Pirate was out, I would be in a crate where I couldn't see (so as not to stare), but I could smell her. If I was out, then Pirate would be in a crate right next to me. I could sniff her but wasn't allowed to fixate. Over the course of a few weeks, her presence became very normal to me and we began spending supervised time together.

Nowadays it's like we're old friends. I've proven myself trustworthy so Ana lets me sleep on the couch overnight and guess who my cuddle buddy is? That's right, it's Pirate!

It helps that Pirate is a very tolerant cat and barely flinches if I play bow to her. She tolerates all sorts of rude behavior from me and isn't afraid to give me a stern reminder if I cross a line. That said, Ana also takes it upon herself to moderate our interactions so Pirate never feels threatened. It's worked, and now we're pretty tight pals. "My" cat has gotten so boring, in fact, that now I'd rather play with her brush over her like in this video (and notice how gentle I am around her now... hard to tell in a phone video but you get the picture).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lights, camera... action!

They've been working on a new catalog at Paco Collars but were short a good shot of a certain collar. Fortunately, I was there to the rescue... don't I make a perfect model?

Friday, September 2, 2011

I swam!

I know everyone is supposed to go on vacation this weekend, but we jumped the gun and went camping last weekend at Ana's favorite spot in the desert. It was really hot, like almost 100 degrees. It was so hot that I, yes, broke down and swam!

It was kind of an accident, I was just following Ana into the water and seeing what Booker (another dog) was so interested in (a ball) but I did it! Afterward I was so tired, even though I was only swimming for a few seconds at a time. I'm not scared to go into the water, but taking that final step into the abyss is pretty mentally draining so I was tuckered out even though I only did that a few times. If you know me, it's hard to slow me down so that was quite a feat!

Here I am catching some rays after the experience. Ahhh, now that was a vacation!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The coldest winter I ever spent...

... was a summer in San Francisco. Or so the saying goes.

Thankfully someone sent Xdog a coat that was a wee too large and guess who it fits perfectly?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Leashing Up Dance

Every day we have the same routine. We wake up, Ana drinks coffee, and then we go running. Since it's the same every day, I know what to do: go sit on my bed and wait for the leash. If you know me you know that's it's hard for me to sit still when I'm excited, but I do better and better every day. In fact, now it's even cute when I do my bouncing because I only do it for a second then go right back to what I'm supposed to do. It's just so hard not to celebrate life!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gas Station Buddies

I'm kind of like an amplifier when I meet strange dogs. What I mean is, if a new dog walks up and has naughty intentions, I get really excited and focused on that dog and I will refuse to look away or calm down. I take that dog's energy, multiply it, and give it right back (and end up looking like the naughty dog).

However, if a dog is calm and has good intentions, I still get a little excited (because it's me we're talking about) but I can turn away. The calmer the other dog, the faster I lose interest and turn away. This is how Ana can tell if it's safe for me to meet another dog or not. I don't get to meet new dogs until I don't care anymore, and then it's easy for me to be polite.

The other day we were driving through Alpine, Texas. We stopped to get gas and I hopped out to take a potty break. Stealth-like, this cattle dog came up behind us. He was really handsome and right away we sniffed and then I went back to my business. He was very polite, gave us our space, and waited for me to get back. Since he was being such a gentleman, Ana let me have a nice long, loose leash to say "hi" and so we could get to know each other.

Notice how our bodies are slightly curved and relaxed? We're also sniffing the sides of our faces instead of nose-to-nose and staring each other directly in the eyes.

Then I showed him my good side in a real flirty fashion, inviting him into my space and hoping he'd follow me. He was interested, but too polite to take advantage of a little lady like me...

... so I had to be more obvious. Once again, notice how I'm not going straight up to him in his face, that would be rude. I'm making that arc again, which is how dogs are supposed to do it.

Finally, it worked! See how our mouths and bodies are still very relaxed. We played like this for a while and made everyone at the gas station smile.

But this was just a pit stop and eventually we had to head off again. We said goodbye and he watched us leave, though I was already looking at the road ahead and never once behind us... that's how cool a dog he was.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Couch Sessions

Our vacation home in Marfa, TX, is so picturesque that Ana decided a little photo session was in order.

This is my good side...

... and here is my serious side...

... and here is my crazy side.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Road Trip!

When Ana came to get me at the barn I was so excited to see her that I... sat still! If you know me, you know how crazy that is, especially since she didn't even ask me to be still, I just know that the faster I behave the faster I get what I want. And it worked. She swooped me out of the barn, we ran a bunch of errands, I said hi to Xdog and Pirate, and then we were in the truck driving for a loooong time.

A road trip is good for a dog like me because I get a lot of practice. I practice relaxing while driving, sitting and waiting to get let out (even when I'm really excited), pottying in new places, and basic obedience in new places. We stop a lot and it's new every time, but my people and the truck are always the same so I have a routine. I'm catching on really quick... maybe I should be a road dog!

One day we stopped for lunch in Palm Springs. They sure do like pit bulls there because when they saw me outside the restaurant they insisted I come in and join everyone for lunch. They even brought me my own water bowl full of ice cubes.

Everyone was "ooohing" and "awwing" over me but it was funny when I told them I was a foster dog. Then they all started feeling really sorry for me and petting me with sad eyes. It was really weird. I mean, I *am* a foster, and sure I'm looking for a forever home, but in the meantime I'm doing just fine. The ones they should be feeling sorry for are all my brothers, sisters, and friends that are still back at the shelter or who are being mistreated by bad people. Don't feel sorry for me, I'm one of the lucky ones. And if you feel sorry in your heart, then go do something about it.

Still, I was really happy for all the attention and I managed to make even the people with the sad eyes smile for me. I mean, can you look at this face without smiling?

So far we've been a lot of places. We stopped at the Salton Sea, spent the night in Tuscon, and this is me in New Mexico.

Finally, we made it to Marfa. So far, I really like it. We're staying in a really cute house attached to an art gallery. We have a ton of space, air conditioning, and a yard! Look at me go!

It's pretty hot here so I spend most of my time being lazy with the humans (who are practicing at being even lazier than me).

I'll post more pictures soon, but for now I'll leave you with the one Ana says is pretty much the best picture of me ever taken (right before I pounced on her head).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Camp at the Barn

Okay, it's true, I did have a great time at the barn. Look at me go!

Ayse and Jiggs from BADRAP.org on Vimeo.

Ana is picking me up today and tonight we head out on vacation. Where are we going? I'm not totally sure, but Ana promises me many acres where I can run and run and the view goes on for miles... guess you'll have to wait and see!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back to the barn... what?!?

This is what I looked like when I heard the news that I'm heading back to the barn... WHAT?!?

Don't get me wrong, I love the barn, all the dogs, all the nice people who brought me back from Cleveland, but I'm kind of used to a real house now. What did I do wrong that I have to go back to the barn?

Ana assures me it's just for a few days. She says that she's going out of town and temp-pops is on a deadline, so she'd rather I spend time at the barn with new people and other dogs rather than sitting in a crate, but what if she doesn't come back? What if she forgets about me? What if she decides that life is easier without me and leaves me up there? What if.... oh gosh, I get nervous just thinking about it!

But Ana says if I get nervous to just recite THE PLAN over and over: first a few days at the barn, and then we all go on vacation together like one big, temp-family. She says to think of it like summer camp. I'm going to play with kids my own age, help all the new barn volunteers learn about different kinds of dogs, and spend time with Tim and Donna (who are probably my favorite people on earth).

She says even if I get lonely at first then pretty soon there are going to be all kinds of fun things to distract m... oh hello, there, Mr. Jiggs!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Art walk

Sometimes when we go on our city walks we pass a lot of really cool art. Some of it wasn't paid for by the city, but that doesn't make it any less art. Here I am posing on a pretty building that was made into art by someone very creative.

And remember when I mentioned that I'm getting along with cats? Well that includes painted ones as well.

Hmmm, maybe I should learn to make art as well...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

SF Pride 2011

This year I marched in the Pride Parade with the BAD RAP contingency, which included a ton of dogs and their people in costume. We dressed up, too. Ana was a coboy, temp-pops was a rodeo clown, and I was the horse (complete with home-made leather saddle).

The folks at BAD RAP are super talented and put together a fun video of the day, see how many times you can count me!

BADRAP @ SF Pride June 2011 from BADRAP.org on Vimeo.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Peaceable Kingdom

Wanna see something cool? Check this out...

It may not seem like much but, for me, this is a huge step. You see, I never learned to be social with other dogs when I was younger. At least, that's what Ana and everyone else tells me. I get really excited when I meet new dogs, so excited that I can't "hear" when they tell me that they need their space, so I tend to make them grumpy. I can't help it, I just get so excited and I wanna play now now now and ohmigod lets go have a party now weeeeeeee!!!

But other dogs don't like that. Especially Xdog. She's an extra grumpy kind of dog. She has a very large personal space and does not appreciate fast movements or in-your-face greetings, both of which are my token moves. So how is that we are getting along? It's because we went really slow.

For the first two weeks or so, we didn't spend any time touching at all. Either I was in the crate, or Xdog was in the crate while I was on the tie-down. It was that way at home, in the car, and at work. We were together a lot, but never directly interacting. Slowly, around the third week, we started doing some supervised fun stuff together, like walking to the car, or sitting for treats together. I was always on leash, but when the day came and Ana noticed that I so didn't much as raise an eyebrow when Xdog ran right under my chin, she let the leash drop and started letting us hang out in the same vicinity while supervised.

It's been a couple weeks and we're not exactly the best of friends, but we're roommates that actually like each other. A lot of my social issues stem from things being too exciting, but when you see and smell the same dog every day for weeks on end (which is practically an eternity in dog years), then things become boring, and boring in multi-dog households is a good thing.

Wanna see something else that's cool?

Hard to see, but there's a cat in that planter above my head. It may surprise you to hear this, but I like chasing cats. I can smell them from half a block away I can tell you where they've been, and when I see one... watch out, I'm after it! But Ana knew this about me from the beginning and did the same thing with Pirate that she did with me and Xdog: crate and rotate. Fortunately Pirate is a very well socialized cat and didn't mind being in the crate, even my crate sometimes! She also is not scared of dogs so she doesn't run.

Eventually, Ana let me sniff her up close.

I realized i already knew that smell very well, I'd been living with it for weeks. It was not so exciting any more so I could turn my attention away.

Ana says she still will never trust me 100% not to chase the cat, but I am learning to tell the difference between this cat and other cats. For instance, the other day as we were leashed up leaving for work I saw Pirate jump up on the fence in my peripheral vision. My body reacted, I whipped my head around and I went into "CAT!" mode. But then I realized it was just Pirate and just as quickly as I switched on, I switched off again and said, "Oh never mind. Let's go to work now!"

Small steps, but we're working toward a peaceable kingdom.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Job

In case you didn't know, I have a job. Pretty much every day I go to Paco Collars and it's my job to meet new people and get socialized. That's an easy job for me because I love people and I love being right in the mix of things. At first everything was really exciting and I would get very distracted, but now I understand the routine, I know to sit when dogs come in, I know that if I'm calm then people will come say hi and give me treats, and I get to help with the teaching.

This was me yesterday during the long-line class Ana was teaching. I learned that if I stood on this chest under the table then I would be equally close to everyone, and I liked that.

They say that I do such a good job at my job that they are honoring me with my own window. The colors are not exactly like me, but the head tilt is 100% Ayse.

If you're ever in the neighborhood, you should come by and say "hi"!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Namesake

My name is very unusual but it has great meaning. I was named in honor of one of the shelter workers where I came from. In fact, it's the woman at the end of this video who is showing off another lucky dog, Bubuko:


(in case you can't see the video, here is the direct link)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Best Vacation Ever

This weekend was temp-pops' (that's what I call my foster dad, my "temporary pop") birthday so they decided to escape the city and take me along. We went to a place in Nevada called Pyramid Lake where there are no other dogs and no other people (it's true! Only on our second day did one solitary Jeep drive near our campsite).

Anyhow, Ana told me it would be a great place to give me a relative amount of freedom and see what I'd do with it. There's not much to get into (except the occasional dead pelican) and, since it's a flat desert, not many places to hide. even so, she made me wear a long-line because she said a) I still don't have a reliable re-call and b) I'm a foster dog, not her property, and you have to take extra precautions with things that don't belong to you.

At first I did so much sniffing... there was so much new stuff I'd never seen before! I probably had my nose glued to the ground for half an hour straight when we first got there.
pyramid lake

At first I stayed very close, and every time I came back to check on Ana and temp-pops I would get a special treat.
pyramid lake
I don't normally get junk food but Ana said that when a dog does something really special, like pull themselves away from all the new stuff to check on the boring people, then they deserve something equally special in return, something they wouldn't get on any other occasion. It worked, I quickly learned to stick close.

Later, we went on a walk. I ran and ran and ran!
pyramid lake

Ana said it wasn't normally this overcast, but I was still blinded by the light.
pyramid lake

Look at me go!
pyramid lake

At first they would tether me up to the truck when they didn't want to keep an eye on me, but I eventually figured out how to relax on my own bed. I know this blanket from home, it normally covers my kennel, so it was easy to figure out that this is where I should rest.
pyramid lake

I was fascinated by the campfire but also scared of it. I learned it wouldn't hurt me but I still kept my distance. I also learned that if you hung around long enough, then someone would give you a campfire cooked corn cob to munch on. That was a delicious lesson.
pyramid lake

Oh, hi!
pyramid lake

This is my good side
pyramid lake

When it got cold I wore a jacket. I know I was making fun of all these Californians and their idea of "cold," but man does it get chilly out in the desert. I was glad to have my jacket, and all night I cuddled under the blankets with Ana and temp-pops.
pyramid lake

It rained all night with the same rain that cancelled pit ed class on Saturday, but the next morning the storm had passed and the sun was out. I even had to wear sunscreen on my pink nose.
pyramid lake

I learned to watch the water birds from afar, and that it takes too much energy to try and get them.
pyramid lake

Relaxing is hard work!
pyramid lake

It was pretty much the best vacation a dog could ever ask for, and when I came home I got the best news I could ever imagine. It's almost good enough to make me want to go back to Cleveland, but I think I'll stick around this place.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Embarrassing Confession

They say the first step to fixing a problem is to admit you have one, so here it is: I'm not potty trained. Well, I mean, I kind of am now, but it's still a work in progress. Let me explain...

When I first got to California and was staying up at the barn, they noticed that I would pee in my bed a lot. I had just been spayed and had a slight UTI, so I was on medication but after that was done I kept on peeing my bed. I would go outside, too, but I really had no problem peeing on my blankets and then sleeping on them. They call that being a "dirty dog" but I didn't see what the big deal was.

When I went to go stay with Ana, she knew I had this problem and began a puppy potty training protocol. At work, we would go outside to the right spot many times a day, especially a short while after drinking water or eating. But the problem is that the world was too exciting, so I would go out and sniff, sniff, sniff, then we would come back in and I would promptly pee on my bed. This lasted a few days, but Ana was patient and very consistent in the routine. She never yelled at me for peeing inside, just made enough noise to interrupt me, and then would take me outside really fast. If she didn't notice I had peed until after the fact, then she wouldn't say anything at all because she knew I would not make the connection that what I had done was bad. For a long time, I would hold it all day or pee on the bed.

At her house it was much easier, since the yard is very small, it is not very exciting so I don't get distracted. Many dogs have peed there before, so I knew what to do. Even though I kept peeing on the doormat, Ana would throw a big party for me and tell me how wonderful I was. I guess she figured the doormat was better than my bed and that I needed to make an association to the word "potty." Every time I would pee or poo on the doormat, she would get really excited and then we'd play a game and I'd get scratches (and then she would curse about how much Nature's Miracle they were going through).

Finally the big day came at work... I peed in the right spot outside of work! Oh man, was that a big party or what! After I did it, I got so many scratches, and we went running up and down the sidewalk. Sure I've made a few mistakes since, progress is never a straight line, but I pretty much know how to potty in that spot now and I'll even do it for other people besides Ana if she's too busy to take me out.

Back at home, Ana decided I was reliable enough that it was time for me to learn to potty in places other than the doorstep. Sometimes feeding a dog where you don't want them to pee is a good way to teach that, but since I eat in my crate, and am still willing to pee there, that was not an option. Instead, she stood on top of my spot. At first I was really confused because I couldn't get to my spot, but after about 20 minutes I finally broke down and did it somewhere else, where I was supposed to. Man, there was a big party then, too!

All these parties are slowly working. Just this week I went potty twice in novel locations: I pooped in Sacramento and I peed in a front yard. These may not seem like big accomplishments for the average dog, but for me they are huge. I'm not totally potty trained yet, but this is progress.

Since this is a stinky process, the other day I got my first bath. Here I am before I knew what was going on.

And this was me after

I love life, can't you tell?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Secret Spots at Sunset

There aren't many places in the city a girl can stretch her legs without running into off leash dogs, but Ana has a few tricks up her sleeve. The other day we went to this cool place underneath the freeway. It was sunset next to the train tracks. I got to run around and sniff a lot of things. Since I'm not allowed off-leash until I'm much, much further along in my training, I stayed on a long line which gave me plenty of room to cut loose.

After I got my kicks out, we practiced some long-distance stays and recall. Here I am staying and looking at some train hoppers in the distance. Isn't the light at sunset beautiful?

It's kind of hard to stay when there's a photographer squatting right in front of you, but I'm trying. Really hard.

Did you say, "take a break"?