Mo Bloggin'

A little o' this, a little o' that

Archive for the tag “Rottweiler”

Giving thanks to doG

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An early snow (really early!) on November 5 turned everything into a winter wonderland even before the leaves changed color.  I love snow!

We’re winding up the Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S., and I’m not looking forward to going back to the real world of commuting and working tomorrow, but alas, a winning lottery ticket is not yet mine. I took the entire week off (so have been off work for 9 days now – heaven) and the dogs have loved it as much as I have, sleeping in with me on the couple of days I did that, and enjoying the days hanging out with me (even when we’re stuck inside because of the torrential downpours), instead of waiting all day long for me to come home from work. I am lucky to have them. And, as I mentioned in my last post, we are up one now, with my “Failed Foster” status. It’s been many years since I fostered a dog, and I didn’t intend that this one would fail, but this is a clear reason why the word “fail” should not be loaded with such negativity (failing at things is often a sign of progress, but I digress.

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He is obsessed with shadows and reflections.

Formerly known as Raider, this dog is filling a hole I didn’t know existed. As I stood on the porch one rainy evening last week, toweling off FOUR dogs, and wiping 16 paws clean before we went in the house, I had such a deep feeling of…I’m not even sure what the word is…completion is the closest to it, but still not perfect. Somehow the circle is now closed.  As the four of them stood around me, waiting their turn, standing back or pushing at the closed door to get inside, the gap I didn’t know was there was filled, the puzzle piece found and placed in the vacant spot. It was a nearly audible click as I stood there, surrounded by 300 pounds of dogs, with these four hearts that surround mine and give meaning to my days.

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Raider came to me when I offered to foster him. My friend had placed him with “W” two years ago, from a rescue situation. Raider was shipped here from Chicago in 2015, having ended up homeless when his owner had passed away and the family didn’t want him. He was 4 years old when he came to the Northwest to live with W, a loving home with two adults and a companion dog who all adored him. Then W got sick.  W’s wife had had a bad fall and broken her leg badly, so was using a walker. When W got sick, then sicker, she knew that Raider had to be placed, as they were not able to continue caring for him. W did not want to consider the idea, and became very upset. My friend knew Raider would need a new home, but since the doctors said W “had a few more months,” we just waited. Unfortunately it was only a couple weeks when Mrs. W called. Sadly, W had passed away, and for the second time in his life, Raider was in need of a home due to a death in the family.

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I took him in, wondering why I said I would do this (softie for Rottweilers, and wanted to help my friend out) and hoping against hope that it would work until we could find him a home. With my three dogs, three cats, and flock of sheep, there was a lot to integrate. My friend brought a giant crate for him (Impact brand – I am now coveting more of these crates, as this one is only a borrow), a giant orthopedic bed (which my other three dogs say is really nice) and a stand-up feeding station, plus Raider. It turns out I had little to worry about.

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He’s not the cuddle bug that Daisy is (yet?), but who could resist this? 117 pounds of squishy-faced cuteness.

This dog…this dog is nearly perfect to me.  He reminds me of all that have gone before him (and oh, how I am mush for a boy Rottweiler – putty in their paws, really, but they never seem to take advantage of it to run the show, unlike a Rottweiler bitch, who will come in with her paws on her hips, virtual arms akimbo, and tell you how it’s going to be (in the nicest way possible, of course)). The boys just melt me. I tried to remain strong – the first week as my three adjusted, and then the second week, as Raider showed us more of himself. There were a few scuffles – once when I fed raw meaty bones on Raider’s second or third day here (facepalm to my own stupidity there!) and tensions were high, Farley took on Raider in the kitchen. WTF, Far – this dog is twice your size! Raider didn’t engage other than to protect himself, when he could easily have taken Farley down with one paw tied behind his back. Then another time Farley was playing with a stuffie – it took Far a week before he would finally offer me a toy (normally a multiple daily occurrence) with Raider here – and Raider thought “Weeee! I love stuffies too, let’s play tug!” Farley tore into him, and I had an instant dogfight at my feet. Again, Raider only protected himself, and the YIPE! I heard in the 5-second scuffle was from him.  As was the tuft of hair on the floor afterwards. He learned that Farley doesn’t play with other dogs, only me, and when he growls that goofy warble of a Setter growl (heart!), he isn’t kidding. Got it. But beyond Daisy pushing and pushing and pushing on Raider, always jealous of any attention I give him and always eager to show him who’s boss (when we ALL already know bitches get the job done), he integrated beyond my wildest expectations.

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Don’t let this soft face and swishing tail, or the spots, fool you – this guy is a tiger (I often call him my tiger, and he’s taken it to heart).

So it was easy to write this bio to find him a home. The rescue person from Chicago, involved in his 2015 placement, said she had a good home there for him and we could just ship him back. I put my foot down at this. While I appreciated her help/offer, I was already fierce in my protectiveness. When the Perfect Home showed up a few days later, it was easy to sing his praises to them. But as I pulled away from our “get acquainted” meeting, I realized that even if they were a better home than I was (only one other dog, and two of them, so Raider would get more one-on-one attention than he gets from me), I didn’t know if I could give him up. I had tried so hard to keep logic and emotion separated, sure that the emotion I felt was just feeling sorry for his sad story of losing two homes due to his owners dying. “But,” said Emotion, “if he is so damn perfect why aren’t you keeping him? He’s squishy-faced-cute {swoon!} on top of it.” Then Logic replied, “Um, try the houseful of dogs you already have, Mo? Bandwidth? Cost? Room? Seriously? WTH?”  When the Perfect Home called me a couple of days later to reluctantly pass on him (timing/logistics), I realized I could pull the ad. I was walking two feet off the ground after I hung up the phone. He was placed. He is mine.

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His first vet visit (for a broken toenail), about a month after I got him.  He’s woozy from sedation here, but the toe healed up beautifully.

I’ve rechristened him Braider, after going through a number of iterations rhyming with Raider. Normally I have no problem changing a rescue dog’s name–and even recommend it—but he responded so beautifully to it, and it was patently obvious he had been loved by both of his previous owners.  But I couldn’t live with such a “guy name” as Raider. As a writer, I know that words have power, and naming dogs these sorts of “aggressive” names doesn’t sit well with me. I tried Tater, Vader, Bader, Brader, and all sorts of variations before settling on Braider, which works for the meaning – he came in and braided us all together, bringing his gentleness and good manners and his beautiful Rottweiler heart.  I am his.

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Braider Finn.  Heart him.

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Nosing into Fall (or, my latest obsession)

The garden, soaking up the last rays of summer.

The garden, soaking up the last rays of summer.

Though it wasn’t planned, I essentially took the entire summer off from blogging (and writing of any sort, to be frank).  Here I sit, on the last day of summer (for the northern hemisphere) and thankful it turned out to be a beautiful day.  The weather forecast was for rain all weekend, and it started pretty much on schedule (per forecast) last night at dusk.  Let the mud begin, sigh.  Then this morning I saw a few peeks of blue sky through the clot of clouds.  Farley and Pal had their last nose work class for their beginning odor session and we headed out to the park with our liver treats, leaving an unhappy Daisy behind.  By the time class was over at 11:45 it was downright hot, the sun having been out in force for two hours.  Yay!

The boys did well in class, though the hides on the pedestrian bridge were extra hard, with lots of breezy air movement and the salmon swimming upstream in the creek below us (spawning season; we were working over a small tributary of the Skykomish River, which was a few hundred yards away). Pal especially gets distracted; his search word is “birdy” because he is.  And with his bird dog brain, it’s hard for him to concentrate on one task.  By nature (instinct/breeding), he’s hardwired to hunt, to have all his senses open and processing at once.  He’s filtering so much at once that adding birch odor (paired with liver treats I make using the excellent Squaw Creek Cattle Company beef) isn’t necessarily the primary target in his bird brain.  He’s a hunter, and once he’s locked onto a target bird he can and does hold point (and focus) for many minutes at a time.  Or, in the case of his most

Pal with his eye on something

Pal with his eye on something

recent target, hours – he’s playing some version of predator/prey footsie with an obliging Douglas squirrel in a maple tree on the other side of the fence.  He sits or stands in the same spot for what seems like hours (I can see him from where I type, he’s easily been there for half an hour now) fixed on his target and nearly unmoving (not at point, but definitely hunting).  The squirrel will chirrup at him on occasion, but mostly Pal’s just there watching stealthily (methinks Mr. Squirrel has Pal’s number).  So yeah, nose work for Pal can be a challenge.  But make no mistake, Pal is an AMAZING nose work dog, and when he’s focused he’s as good as they come.

Farley on a tennis ball search

Farley on a tennis ball search

Farley is also very good.  He’s old enough now that he can focus more easily.  Plus he’s more of a chow hound than Pal.  Pal likes his groceries, and eats like a champ, but Farley is more motivated by food.  When he gets close to the hide he will usually start drooling, and I often wonder if the slobber he leaves makes it easier for the next dog searching.  Far is very methodical, and also a little more bonded to me, so will often look at me when he doesn’t find the odor readily, expecting me to point to it as I do when he loses his ball in the grass or brush.  He’s obsessed by his ball, so has a lot of nose work practice built up in his many years of searching for missing balls.  He’s very thorough, and learned a long time ago to use and depend on his nose rather than his eyes (a dirty green ball in the grass is pretty much invisible to both of us).  This too, is where he has an advantage over Pal, who is still very visual in his hunting (birdy, indeed).  It’s an absolute pleasure to watch him work.

Miss Daisy, whose class is on break until October, is my best nose work dog, but she’s also two classes ahead of the boys.  She’s done container searches, interior searches, exterior searches, and vehicle searches.  Sometimes she’s a little distracted – she’s a very social girl and nose work isn’t necessarily her preference when there are people to meet and greet, and new best friends to win over.  We recently entered an Odor Recognition Test (ORT) for birch (through the National Association of Canine Scent Work or NACSW) and I’m happy to say she passed, though it was a little dicey for a moment.  Daisy is odor obedient, no question, and has been ready to pass her ORT for a few months now.  When this girl hunts for odor (“giddyup!”) she is freaking awesome and it’s a sight to behold when she’s on task.

Daisy at home with her sheep

Daisy at home with her sheep

For a dog of her skill level, an ORT is ridiculously easy.  In theory.  Besides her handicap at the other end of the leash, there’s also her Achilles heel of sociability.  At the ORT location, a dog training center about an hour’s drive south, we were led into the room where the ORT boxes were set up.  All the humans were looking at her but not saying anything, and not coming over to say hello.  She was a little puzzled at the quiet atmosphere.  I held her for a few seconds at the starting line, just like we do in training, then gave her search word.  She tugged me down between the row of flat boxes, one of which held a swab containing birch odor.  She gave a cursory sniff (I’m guessing) as we went swiftly past the boxes, not even lowering her head.  We got to the end and I stopped.  She continued pulling – the NACSW videographer was a few yards away, and sitting (an easy target!)– surely this was Daisy’s new best friend!  She then looked over at the judge, steward, and timer, pulling towards them.  She could win them over, for sure.  I held my ground.  She was losing focus fast.  I looked at the woman I’d mistaken for the judge and asked if I could say Daisy’s search word again (to get her back on track).  I was too nervous to remember that I could say it as needed (no permission needed).  Yes, came the reply.  “Daisy, giddyup.”  Nothing (the people spoke! (to answer me) Progress!).  “Daisy,

All tuckered out after her ORT trip

All tuckered out after her ORT trip

giddyup!”  She turned and sniffed one box in a cursory manner.  Then another.  We went down the row again 

At this point I was thinking “oh, well, not every dog passes, and it’s only $25…”  This about a dog who has found hides in places that left me gawping in amazement at her ability.  I gave her word again when, as we headed back, she seemed to have a different agenda.  At this, she lowered her head and sniffed, then nudged, one of the boxes nearest to us.  She nudged it again, nosing it across the floor.  With all her shenanigans, and the fact that this was only the third box she’d actually (noticeably) sniffed, I hesitated.  Was she just goofing around?  A paw slap and mouth crunch would be next.  Oh well.  I turned and looked at the judge and stewards.  “…Alert?”  YES! came the immediate and relieved-sounding reply.  This was music to Daisy’s ears and as the steward came over to me with her scorebook and time*, she was sure it was her chance to win over another Daisy fan.  Normally you treat your dog at source (the hide) when they find it.  Daisy had no interest in any liver when her new bestie was on her way over.  I kept her from jumping up on the woman and tugged her back to the source box for a treat.  I don’t remember if we ever connected treat to source, but we headed out the door with only one more obstacle, the steward at the door – “HiHiHi I’m Daisy!What’s your name?Don’t you LOOOOVE me?!”  Whew!  Now on to our NW1.  Gulp.

I’m going to take Farley and Pal for their ORT at the end of next month, but don’t anticipate this social rodeo with them.  Farley’s not a hugely social dog, and Pal is polite and demure.  Fingers crossed.

*You get three minutes to complete an ORT; Daisy did it in 46 seconds (that felt like three minutes), when it usually takes her less than 10 seconds.

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