Monday, April 11, 2011

The Miracle of Foster Care

Remember this picture of Max, taken while he was on the "kill list" in an overcrowded Bakersfield shelter just over 2 weeks ago?
And, what about this photo, taken during his rescue mission and final transport to our home?
Well, check out the picture my foster mum posted on Popeye's Facebook page:
And, just look at this video taken of Lord Maxwell while he plays with MY FRIENDS over the weekend:

CL is-- for once-- speechless.  Max' transformation to a healthy, happy, adoptable dog waiting for his forever home?  Simply amazing.  CL knew that she could never foster a big (or even medium sized) dog because of her physical challenges-- but, wow, she is happy that we decided to try and foster the little ones.  First, we had Pip.  Now, we have Maxwell. CL feels blessed that people like Judy (with Walkin' the Bark Rescue) were willing to take a chance on us and work around CL's limitations.  I suspect there are many more rescues, in our future.
Meanwhile,  Lord Maxwell has returned to his temporary castle, and I am enjoying my dominance exercises.
Happy Monday!

ZEN (the early days of training)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


(Note:  Since CL wrote this tidbit, Max has had a very successful sleepover at my ole foster mum's  home.  It was his first adventure in an unfamiliar home since Max has joined our household, and CL was worried that he would regress to his "wicked ways."  My foster mum reports that "all went well," however, and the training is working. Whew!  CL believes that Max will make a wonderful addition to some lucky, high energy family.)
 CL: Hello?  Oh, hi, how are you?
CL:  Yes, there's a new dog next door.  Yes, he's fine.  He's up for adoption-- do you want him?
CL:  What time did you hear the squeaking, yelping, wooing?
CL:  How long?
CL:  Oh, that's okay, it was only for a couple of hours in the afternoon.  I was home.  He was fine, not hurt.  I was just working on his separation anxiety. I don't like using the crate for this kind of training, so he was tied to the apple tree outside.
CL:  You were home sick and trying to sleep?  Okay, sorry about that.  Next time, just yell "tell the  mutt to be quiet!" over the fence...uh huh,  what was I doing to make him cry in torment for 2 hours?  You know, general stuff-- getting the mail, taking Sugar for a walk, going to the bathroom...
CL:  How does it help the separation anxiety?  All that "You're so special,  I will feed you at the table and carry you in my purse" crap has caused this problem.  He's not to blame.  When I return from my little trips, I ignore him.  He's nothing to me, nada, no eye contact, no "oh poor baby" sounds.  Once he stays quiet and settles down, I give him a small pet and say "good boy."  I don't overdo the niceties. 
CL:  Cruel?  Me?  Yeah, I guess so.  He needs to understand that his incessant whining does not provoke a response, that I'm immune to his powers-of-cuteness. 
CL:  Does it work?  Yeah, it works.  Ever since the intensive training you overheard, Max can stay tied to the apple tree without whining, even when I get the mail or go inside.  He no longer freaks out when I turn on my wheelchair, an anxiety-trigger for him since it meant I was leaving.   I can pee without his yelping in pseudo pain...sorry that you were home during yesterday's training, though.  That sucks.  Hope you feel better soon.  Let me know if you need anything.
(hangs-up phone and looks at me)
CL:  That was the neighbor-- you know, the one with the yapping poodles that she carries in her purse, everywhere she goes?  I guess Lord Maxwell's incessant whining during Monday's training was keeping her awake.  Too bad she was feeling sick-- otherwise, I would say it was karmic justice, given the number of times her yapping poodles have  given me migraines.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jumpin Jack-A-Poo!

Once of the challenges with Max is his amazing capacity to jump and kiss your nose, hop a fence, latch onto your hair and clean your scalp (seriously).  If it is done on-command, CL has no problem with the behavior.  If it's done without the "okay" from She Who Must Be Obeyed?  Not good.  Here's what usually happens:
Max:  "I love you, I love you, I love you, you are the BEST HUMAN EVER."
Max (2 second later): "I want to eat your nose!  YUM!"
I have an amazing friend (Master Nick, he's the young dude in the pictures) who lives next door and visits four times a week.  He helps CL feed, walk and take care of me.  During his recent visits, he has been working with Max on training.  (Max is wonderful with children, especially a high energy 8-year-old!)  To date, Master Nick has taught Max to sit, lay down and walk on a leash.  Lately, he has been working on Max' need to jump.  The method is easy:
Every time Max starts to jump, Master Nick turns his back and ignores him.  Once Max calms down, Master Nick turns around and gives the jumpin' Jack-A-Poo positive reinforcement (aka LOVE) for the calm and gentle behavior. 

Check out the results, so far:

Pretty cool, huh? 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Die, evil one! Die! (and a quick update on CL's health)

(if you look closely, you will see a replicate of Pip's cheap date...)

Some folks have asked CL, "Why the tie downs?  Why not let Max roam free?"  Max is allowed at least 3 off leash sessions in the yard, during the day.  In between those moments, he spends time in his crate, tied to the wall, or connected under the apple tree.  He has "issues," most notably a 30 second attention span and the ability to escape and eat ANYTHING (including the power cords on her $18,000 motorized wheelchair...).  When he had first arrived, CL could not take a pee without incessant whining and barking, aka the "Max meltdown."  Prior to our care, Max had no training and he was used to life as a "lap dog," where he was fed from the table and carried everywhere.  (Ah yes, CL has very little patience with people who treat dogs like infants...) When she left the house for 5 hours, he yelped, whined and barked the entire time (according to a very understanding neighbor who has many yapping poodles).  The second time Max was allowed off leash?  It resulted in an amazing escape attempt-- he climbed a 5 foot chain linked fence, using all 4 of his paws.  When CL thwarted the climb*, he tried to sneak under the 1 inch gap, getting trapped in the wires.
So, um,  Because of these challenges, Max' life has become predictable, structured, and rule-driven.   Slowly, as he becomes calmer and gains more focus, he will be given more "free to roam" time.  He has made some amazing improvements-- he's 100% crate trained and house-trained; he no longer fights the tie downs; he has no longer tried to escape during his "free time" (knock wood); and he has stopped chewing the wires on CL's wheelchair. When CL leaves, he spends 5 minutes barking and whining-- then, he calms down.  CL can take a shower, go to the bathroom and get the mail without a "Max meltdown."  Woo hoo! 
With his high energy and incredible smarts, Max will make an amazing dog for the right forever family. 
* Thank dawg CL has started using the bosu ball during daily exercises.  One of her biggest challenges with walking is that she can not tell the position of her feet (she has proprioceptive impairment and no feeling in her feet).  Sometimes, her brain actually believes that her feet have disappeared!  Kaiser designed an in-home physical therapy program that helps her maintain range-of-motion and muscle strength-- but, they insisted that there was nothing that could be done to help her with balance and feet positioning, except to watch herself in a mirror while moving her feet.  The Kaiser rehab doctor even went so far as to tell CL, "I guess Yoga will help you stretch, but there's no evidence it will help you with positioning and balance."  Four months ago, CL expanded her horizons and started working, remotely, with UW-SeattleBoston and the Reeves Foundation.  She learned that Spaulding Rehab had created a successful swim program for quadriplegics (because, yes, Kaiser built a pool for rehab and NEVER FILLED IT WITH WATER-- oh boy, don't get CL started on those frackers...)  Hmmm...where was I?  Um, yeah, Spaulding...they also developed bosu ball exercises for her proprioceptive impairment, and they work! CL will never be able to walk more than 175 feet; but her balance has improved and she can "stand tall" without falling, for up to 5 minutes. (Much better than the 40 seconds of stand-without-falling, before the bosu ball). Yoga, the bosu ball, and CL's innate stubbornness have given her more joie de vivre...and, of course, have enabled her to thwart Max' escape attempts!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What price beauty?

Cut, swabbed, brushed, waxed, expressed-- yech!-- snipped...
 ...and the joy of watching the Queen de-shedded...heh.
Lord Maxwell