A Little Sunshine

bootcuddle

Sunshine (a.k.a Sunny)

We’ve finally added to our pack after about a year of thinking about it, much to the chagrin of Boots! [Mother has it right for once. – Boots] I had been wanting to get a young dog to play with Sammy, who seemed to be pretty bored and ran outside to bark a lot. Molly is 10 and just isn’t interested in being as active as Sammy. She’s actually healthier than when we first got her thanks to our alternative vet and our own efforts at providing a really clean, raw diet. But Molly is more of a chew-on-a-stick kind of dog and Sammy is more of a chase-and-kill-a-stick dog.

Well, we went to visit some friends and it turned out that their dog had a litter, and they were down to one pup who needed a home. We couldn’t resist! [Because Mother has no willpower! And of course nobody asked me about it. – Boots] As you can tell from the picture, Sunshine is a yellow lab (our third now, sheesh), and she’s almost 5 months old. I woke up the day after I got her and panicked, thinking “what have we done?!” I wasn’t really thinking about going through puppy training again, but it just seemed right to take her home.

It turns out she’s a great fit into our family. She has puppy energy but she’s a calm dog. She lays around with the other dogs or just lays quietly on her bed chewing on a bone. When we go outside she runs around with Sammy, then she’s content to lay in the woods and chew on a stick. We’ve had to train her from the ground up, starting with potty training, but we’ve only had two accidents in the house and she seems to have the idea down pat. She learned to use the dog door in about 10 minutes. The stairs were a challenge, but with some encouragement she’s doing just fine. She’s super smart and very sweet. She’s had to learn not to aggravate the cats [I got her good yesterday! – Boots] and it only took her a day to learn how to walk on a leash.

dogfriends

Sammy and Sunny, friends at last!

It took Sammy and Molly several days to warm up to her. Sammy was very territorial and didn’t want to have anything to do with her, but after about 4 days he suddenly decided it would be fun to chase her around the back yard, and now they are buds. They lay on the floor together and face-fight, and Sammy is showing her how to patrol the back yard like Charlie taught him. She follows him around, sniffing everything he sniffs and peeing in the same places. Molly doesn’t mind Sunshine now, unless the puppy steps on her while she and Sammy are horsing around…then you will hear the big dog growl. :-)

The Cesar Milan training we have done with the older dogs has proved invaluable. The three dogs are truly acting like a calm pack now, and I can even walk all three of them together by myself with no problems. We haven’t encountered another dog on a walk yet, however, so we’ll see how it goes. But I don’t think we’d be having such an easy time of it if we hadn’t already put Cesar’s principles into practice.

Sunshine is irresistibly cute and cuddly, and she makes us laugh. She and Sammy are a riot together! I’m sure Boots will get used to having another smelly beast in the house…eventually. [Don’t count on it Mother…]

 

If it’s not one thing…

There’s just no end to the drama with Sammy! Today he got out of bed, went outside to pee then came back in and was shaking and looking like he was going to throw up. We immediately put the zapper on him, which is our first line of defense with our dogs. If you haven’t checked out the zapper link, do so. We have averted many disasters, human and animal, with this simple and effective technology.

The zapper got him calmed down a bit and I was able to get him to lie down on his bed. I kept the zapper on him and ran my hand down his back to calm him down and get his energy running again. After about an hour I remembered that I had some charcoal biscuits from when the stray dogs visited, so I gave him a few. He ate them eagerly, so I figured he couldn’t be too bad off.

It’s hard to know what’s going on in a situation like this. Our dogs have a very clean diet and there’s not much in the way of vegetation in our back yard that can cause trouble. When we moved here there was a deadly nightshade plant growing under and through our back deck. I didn’t know it was poisonous until our dog Charlie became sick one day and had pink foam dripping out of his mouth. I discovered the red berries out back, looked up the plant and found it was highly poisonous. I have since ripped it out by roots, but it’s stubborn and grows back. I pulled more vines this summer, but it’s possible I missed a few and that Sammy found some dried berries. The dried berries are even more toxic than the ripe berries!

The other thought was that he ate some pine bark and toxified himself that way. Yesterday afternoon he had bumps (hives) on the top of his head, which happens once in a while. We haven’t been able to figure out what he is getting into that causes this. We got rid of all his synthetic Kong toys and I have scoured the back yard several times looking for anything that could be upsetting his system. No luck. However, pine bark has a lot of a turpentine-like chemical in it, so it’s possible he’s just reached his limit. That boy does love to chew on his sticks!

So anyway, after I gave him the charcoal biscuits he perked up quite a bit. Charcoal is a natural detoxer as it absorbs toxins, so it’s always a good idea to have some on hand. In an emergency you can burn some toast and give that to your dog. After a few more hours we went outside and Sammy was running around like normal and pooped a lot. Success!

Sammy’s like that kid who’s a magnet for trouble. Before he was six months old I had aleady called the emergency vet three or four times. Once because he had a foxtail in his ear which had to be extracted, once because he ate a package of meat with the plastic still on it, etc. He’s been a challenge from the start. He’s the one who got hit by the car, eats anything he can find, gets sharp objects stuck in his toes, and is Trouble in general. We love him like crazy but we do have to keep a close eye on him!

 

 

Sometimes a boy just needs a dad cuddle

Sammy has had a tough couple of weeks. The ongoing construction on our house got really loud as the contractors began work on the second half of our roof. Sammy simply cannot abide the noise without 1) running outside every 2 minutes to investigate and bark at the contractors 2) barking at every thump, rattle and bang when he’s inside and 3) attacking the front door every time he sees movement in the front yard, which is frequently. Molly, on the other hand, is mostly calm until someone knocks on the door.  Then, it’s World War III. I had to block the dog door (although the dogs did figure out how to get the snap-on cover off!) so Molly wouldn’t run out and eat the guys who came to install some gutters. It’s always an adventure to have company.

A few days ago Sammy ripped one of his toenails when his dad was throwing a softball for him to chase. He bled all over the sidewalk, the front deck and the living room floor. I couldn’t even lift up his foot without him yelping so I just left it alone and I haven’t been throwing the Kong for him. Today, after a walk up to the mailbox during which I had to carry him because he refused to walk any further, the broken nail finally fell off. He was so distressed by the whole thing that he let his dad cuddle him the other night, which he won’t usually do.

I keep trying to figure out ways to keep the dogs occupied since we have to stay close to home while the construction work is being done. We can’t take them swimming in the river yet because Molly has a broken ear drum from an ear infection. Now that I can throw the Kong for Sammy again maybe they will calm down. Also, work has ceased for a week so we all get a break from the noise. We’ll be rubbing dog ears later to get them to release some angst!

 

 

Enough already!

Okay, I really think Martha Stewart has gone too far. I was in PetSmart the other day and noticed that you can now get Martha Stewart dog poo bags! Really? In addition to that, you can get all kinds of other Martha branded dog accessories. I wonder if she even likes dogs. :-)

Talk about someone who has really overexposed herself!

 

Dogs who swim

Orginally posted July 9, 2012 –

We took our puppies to the river yesterday and it was a blast. Sammy is a novice swimmer so I was a little worried. We bought a harness to control him but decided to let him off the leash when we got there. He immediately jumped in and headed for the middle of the river. The Bitterroot river is fairly wide and has a strong current. Sammy only weighs 55 pounds and he’s not used to swimming in a strong current, but luckily when I called to him he turned around. He didn’t quite have the hang of taking a break on the shore, so I had to keep pulling him back.

He got really excited about the sticks that Stevo threw, but every now and then he’d head out to the middle again. Once I had to pull on his tail to get him to turn around, and a couple of times I had to grab his harness and haul him to shore. Molly performed like the water dog she is, whimpering excitedly when we threw sticks, then powering out into the current and stealing the sticks from Sammy every time. She’s definitely an Alpha dog! It’s been really hot here the past few days and the river is finally down to a safe water level so I think we’ll be swimming more in the weeks to come. Stevo and I are kind of hermits, so our dogs tend to be hermits too. It’s nice for them to get out in the world once in a while. We have to be careful with Molly, though, as she gets quite protective when she’s on her leash and encountering another dog is always an adventure.

 

Sammy’s not so excellent adventure

On January 3rd of this year, Sammy was hit by a car on the road in front of our house. It

Nurse Molly keeping an eye on Sammy

was our fault for letting him off his leash but I guess we never thought he’d actually run in front of a moving car. We should have known better. Luckily, he only had a dislocated hip and some contusions, and he has made a full recovery. Amazing, considering it was a Suburban that hit him! The vet was also amazed at how well he recovered, and I attribute a lot of it to a few therapies that Steve did for him:  microcurrent therapy and supplements.

It was a difficult for a couple of months even though his injuries were healing. I slept on the floor with Sammy for the first three nights to make he didn’t stop breathing. Apparently when dogs are hit by cars, one of the big concerns is pneumothorax, where their lungs collapse or bleed. After a few days, I got to sleep in my bed, but I was up every two hours to turn him over. His left hip was sore from being dislocated, and his right hip was sore because he landed on it when the car tossed him up in the air and it was very swollen.

Needless to say, Steve and I didn’t get any sleep and after about three weeks I felt almost psychotic. I swear, I don’t know how new parents do it for a year or more! I also had to take Sammy out three or four times a day for a bathroom break, and we had recently had a two-foot snowfall that subsequently turned into two feet of ice. So just taking care of him took all my time, and of course we still had to do our normal lives and work.

One interesting thing that came out of all this is that Sammy bonded with me a bit more. He’s always been a very independent fellow and still is, but once a day he comes over to me and wants to get on my lap. He’s also very nervous around cars, so we figure he probably won’t run after them anymore. We’re not ready to test that theory, though, so he’s a leash dog all the time now. We figure in another year or so we’ll leave him off leash near the house and see how he does.

So here’s my advice for the day: if your dog won’t come when you call, keep him on the leash. :-)

 

Good Golly Miss Molly

missmollyOriginally posted Oct. 14, 2010 –

Meet our new friend Molly! We adopted her from our local shelter on Tuesday. Stevo and I had both, separately, asked Charlie and Black Jack to send us a dog friend for Sammy, and we found Molly just a few weeks later. The funny thing is that she has a lot of the personality traits of both Charlie and Black Jack. She’s a Yellow Lab and Golden Retriever mix, and she’s just the sweetest dog. She’s 5 or 6 years old but looks older because her face has gone prematurely gray. She’s quite willing to chase Sammy around, though, and actually wore him out earlier today. So the pressure is off me and Stevo to entertain!

 

The Vanilla Gorilla

We got Sammy about 6 months after Black Jack died. I was driving by the Humane Society in Missoula and I just stopped in on a whim to see who was in residence. I

Baby Sammy

looked on their website in the lobby and saw Sammy, and I asked to see him. He was just 3-1/2 months old (see header pic) and I fell in love with him. I asked them to give me a day to bring back my hubby to meet him. The next day, Steve and Charlie both came back to the shelter with me to meet Sammy. At the time, his name was Smitty, and he had been living in a car with a family who had lost their apartment and didn’t have a place to live.

When Sammy met Charlie, he immediately sat in front of the Big Dog and let Charlie be the boss. It was so funny! Then Steve picked Sammy up and he snuggled into Steve’s neck right away. We talked about it for a few minutes, especially whether we were ready to have a puppy. They told us that two other families were waiting to meet Sammy, so we knew if we didn’t take him someone would. Finally, we decided to take a shot. We couldn’t take him home right away because they won’t let a dog out of the shelter unless they are neutered or spayed. We really didn’t want him neutered so young, but we didn’t have a choice. We figured at least if we took him, we’d be able to give him the nutrition he needs to be healthy.

He and Charlie got along well from the start. Charlie taught Sammy how to patrol the back yard, how to chew on sticks, and when to bark at the neighbors. Sammy loved to sit next to Charlie and he would assume whatever pose Charlie was in. They had six months together before Charlie died and I think Sammy really missed him. I’m glad they had some time together and Charlie did a good job of training Sammy to be our protector and companion. Thanks Big Dog!