Bear puppet, that is.
With the weather too cold to walk much, I decided to get Josie one of those dog treat puzzles. Many years ago, I got one of those clear acrylic balls that you load with treats and the dog rolls it around until some come out, and she was not a fan. She’s not much into balls, and treats that are in a container are off limits, and she is not much of a rebel – more of a groveler. So I gave that toy to Carly’s Shih Tzu, Roman, and it was a big hit. Roman is not a groveler, and when he wants the ball refilled, he carries it in to where his people are and slams it down on the floor.
For Josie’s second foray into treat-oriented puzzles, I bought the Trixie Dog Activity Flip Board. It’s an intermediate puzzle, which I figured Josie could handle, and wasn’t terribly expensive at about $12.25. The reviews were positive, unlike those for the puzzle made of pressed board of some type, which had cut some dogs’ noses. Ouch. Also, beging plastic, this thing is very washable.
It came with very specific instructions, and I followed them to the letter. Make it positive, don’t pressure your dog, give it treats just for interacting with the toy. I left the sliders partway open in the beginning, and she pushed them with her nose at first, but then moved on to using her paw. I had taught her “touch” just a few days before, and that helped. She would touch the yellow lever and I would take a treat from the compartment and give it to her, so she could see there were more in there. Eventually she opened it quite by accident, and I told her it was all hers and gave her an even higher-value treat in addition. I got it about a week ago, and it’s taken her this long to get really good, mostly because she’s not bold, and had to get used to plastic things making noise.
I wanted something that would entertain her without me being there, and that hasn’t panned out yet. Josie is very submissive, and I still have to reassure her that it’s okay for her to just take food out of this. I imagine she’ll get over that in time, but she’s not going to be opening kitchen cabinets anytime soon. Ever, really.
One final thing – Josie weighs 3.5 pounds. This puzzle is a great size for her, but I’ve seen some by the same maker that have large cones that can’t be knocked over, and she wouldn’t be able to get her bitty mouth around them to pick them up. Just an FYI.
Our Chihuahua’s currency is kisses.
To strangers, she offers a demure lick,
A kiss on the hand from
A prospective Latin lover.
“I would like to know you better.”
Relaxing at home,
Her tongue strokes my arm
Like a painter realizing her muse.
“How beautiful you are.”
Or a parent, stroking a child’s head.
“I will protect you.”
Always a questionable promise.
When we return from the unknown,
She is frantic with love.
Standing on hind legs,
She clutches my face between her paws
And kisses like a wife
Who thought herself widowed.
Our separation ended,
She no longer needs to be strong.
We pay in kind.
A primal press of primate lips
Against that tiny cheek,
Plush and yielding with fur.
She droops with pleasure.
Lying on her back in the sun,
Limp and heavy-lidded as a corpse,
She seems not to notice
Nibbling kisses on her belly,
Even when they stop.
There will surely be more.
— Copyright Esri Allbritten, 2016
Toy breeds were designed, by us, to be emotionally open and sensitive. Unlike working breeds (shepherds, retrievers, herding dogs, vermin killers), toy breeds didn’t evolve to work among lifestock, or guns, or even other dogs. Even Jake, who is confident and bouncy with Susan, had sort of shut down at the shelter where she got him. It will probably be a month before his new owners see him blossom into the playful, saucy dog he really is. I started to see a little bit of his clownish nature in the two days we’ve had him. He rubs against you like a cat and is prone to goofing around on blankets, rolling and giving us the side-eye while almost standing on his head. It’s good I can tell people that, because what they may see at first is this:
As for working breeds, a dog that seems mellow and only moderately energetic is damped down at the shelter as well. When you get it home, you may find you have an over-exuberant tyrant that demands two hours of hard exercise a day to keep it from eating your couch. So when shopping at the used-dog store, always ask to take a potential pet outside for a walk. This test drive will often show you some of what the dog can be, once it has a home.
In addition to keeping toy breeds out of the highly stressful shelter system, fostering provides a timeline of how long it takes a dog to get used to an unknown place. That’s useful, reassuring knowledge for new owners to have. For example, both Jake and Mojo were initially very distrustful of my husband. Jake would bark at him – a high-pitched, panicky bark. (Distrust of men isn’t bred into toy dogs, but it is common among pre-owned small dogs. They’re often the only solace of women in abusive relationships.) Luckily, toy breeds tend to be brainy, and by the second evening, Jake was sitting on Joe’s lap. The next morning, both dogs greeted him with wagging tails.
As for Mojo, he would like to be a one-person dog. A one-woman dog, to be more specific. In this time of upheavel, his ideal situation would be strapped to my chest in a box, with a chute to pour food down.
Susan had to walk a fine line when she got Mojo. At first she needed to baby him a little – rehabilitate him from the extreme trauma he’d suffered. But little by little, she began to refuse excessive demands for attention. He was forced to do more things on his own, and that built confidence. Mojo also had a tendency to be jealous of Jake. When he growled at Jake, Susan would scold him and put him down, then reassure Jake that he was still loved. She’s a superlative dog owner, and it’s sad that she’s being taken off the market due to health problems. I hope she’ll be able to do some pet sitting for other people, during her good periods.
Susan is out of the hospital for now. She’s picking up Jake & Mojo so Josie and Musette can have all my attention again. Susan cries when she thinks about how much she’s going to miss her dogs, but she (and I) are working hard to find them good new homes. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for your pet is to lose them.
These dogs are in Boulder, Colorado. If you’re interested in adopting either or both, contact Susan Woodcock at (303) 253-4218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can click here to get even more info.
(There are no pix of the walk, because my hands were busy with leashes.)
Took the boys out for a walk to see how they did. They’re very helpful and good with jackets and harnesses. No probs there. It’s about 40 degrees F out, with snow and wet everywhere. I figured Jake, who is supposed to have Jack Russell in him, would be more into walks, but he lagged behind while Mojo walked right at my side. Susan (Jake and Mojo’s owner, who has MS, is living on disability and staying where she can until she finds homes for the dogs) says Jake is often balky on walks with strangers (Josie is, too). I’m pretty sure Jake knows exactly what’s going on and is very worried. Mojo is all, “Are you my new person? I love you!” Desperate, desperate love.
We didn’t spot any dogs, so I didn’t get to see their reaction. Susan says Mojo is the one more likely to pitch a fit, but if she picks him up, he stops. Jake responds pretty well to verbal commands, although he has a stubborn streak – especially when it comes to barking at Musette Kitty. He got a time out in the bathroom today for that. Poor Musette is terrified of them. I don’t know what smack talk they’re giving her, but it does the trick. They know I don’t like it, and sometimes they can control themselves, but it’s pretty boring being penned in the kitchen, and so gratifying when she runs.
Mojo, the deaf one, is learning my hand signals very quickly. I just know this is going to result in me giving exaggerated beckoning motions and thumbs up to Josie after they’re gone. I talked to Susan on the phone, and she uses hand signals, too. I’ll get a video of hers for the new people, assuming we find some. She says that when she signals for Mojo to come, he will actually shove Jake aside, running to get to her.
Josie and I took a nice long walk afterwards. She loves getting wet, because then I turn the hair dryer on her.
Still no accidents in the house, and except for barking at the cat or if someone comes to the door, Jake is practically mute. Mojo usually is, according to Susan, but since his situation is all out of whack, he’s insecure. He freaks out at shelters. He lost hair from stress and wouldn’t eat at the last one, and was declared unadoptable. They were about to put him down when Susan took him home, but he’ll have to go back if I can’t find a home for him. Still, a woman at one of the shelters said two weeks of advertising and word of mouth often does the trick, so here’s hoping.
Just spoke to Susan, and the docs gave her the infusions to do herself, so she can go back to the empty condo she’s borrowing (living on disability, she can no longer afford rent). She offered to take the boys back today, but I want to keep them another night. I want to see if Mojo cries again, and it’s so interesting, working with a deaf dog. Susan says she’ll be glad of a restful night. She can come for them tomorrow during daylight so we can video her hand signals. Then Musette Kitty can have her house back.
These dogs are in Boulder, Colorado. If you’re interested in adopting either or both, contact Susan Woodcock at (303) 253-4218 or email@example.com.
You can click here to get even more info.
Jake and Mojo (who I still keep wanting to call Milo) are staying here. They’re a little more challenging than the typical dogsitting gig, but considering that they haven’t had a permanent home in I don’t know how long, they’re not bad. Last night I put two washable potty pads down for them (one with a pee spot of Josie’s, and the next morning, they had used them. So there have been no accidents in the house – yay!
These are very smart dogs. Mojo is deaf, so I’m using hand signals with him. He’s extremely responsive but also very needy in this time of disruption. He wants to be in my lap, where he’s quiet and still – also warm and somewhat flatulent (I think their diet is a little rich). If he isn’t in contact, he has a vast array of piteous noises. I’m cutting down on these by never approaching him unless he’s quiet. Since Susan got Mojo two years ago, he’s slept in her bed every night, and she warned me that he might be a little screamy if I left him downstairs. He was, briefly, but extinguished in no more than five minutes, so our sleep was not disrupted. (We also shut the door and ran an air filter for white noise) They’ve gone out in the yard (where Mojo goes to the last place he saw his mama and stares out through the gate).
Jake was shocked to find out that a MAN lived here, and is very distrustful of Joe. He looked frankly astonished to see Joe kissing all over Josie, so I think that will be helpful. He does let Joe pet him (not for long, and he’s nervous about it). There has been some growling, but he usually shuts up when I scold him. It will be important for a new owner to keep on that and let him know she does not need or want protection.
They have barked at Musette, our cat, but haven’t tried to get at her through the fence that keeps them in the kitchen. On the whole, they don’t seem particularly broken – they just need a little work. They also need an alpha person (no problem here). Jake got jealous of Josie (our Chihuahua) last night and went for her. I roared and then growled, and he was on his back, belly up, in a flash. This morning, in the yard, she told him off and he left her alone. I’d say it’s important to break them of any dominant behavior. Don’t let them out the door first, don’t let them stand on you (I already have Mojo trained to get down), put paws on you, or lick you excessively. I’m going to take them on a walk today. Susan says they’re not good with other dogs, particularly big dogs. I believe it was Jake who was attacked by a bigger dog as a puppy.
I’ve called and called shelters, and no one has room. This is going to have to be done person to person, so keep spreading the word. Susan is in the hospital for the next five days getting infusion therapy for her MS, but it looks like she doesn’t have the thing where her skin peels off, so there’s that.
If you’re thinking, “Oh, Esri’s going to keep them,” I can tell you that there is zero chance of that (my own pets are being shamefully neglected). My job is to give them time and make them better, more confident dogs, but if I can’t find a new home for them, I’ll hand them over to the Humane Society in the knowledge that they may be put down. So keep working, my lovelies. Keep working.
These dogs are in Boulder, Colorado. If you’re interested in adopting or fostering them, here’s contact info. Please pass this on to anyone who might help.
(303) 253-4218 Susan Woodcock
The previous blog post has more info. You can click here to go directly there.
Thank you for helping me find them a new home that is so wonderful, they will forget all about me.
It’s a situation you hope never to find yourself in. I met these two sharp-looking gents at Petco, accompanied by their owner, Susan. We had Josie with us, and so of course we got to talking. Susan was diagnosed with MS last March. Then, a month ago, she had a stroke that went undiagnosed at the emergency room. Unable to work, she’s living on disability, which doesn’t cover rent, and staying in other people’s homes. Susan needs to live with family (who are out of state) and get the medical help she needs, but she’s determined to find good homes for her dogs first. The quote at the top is from her.
Mojo, the Chihuahua on the right, has been through shelters three times and subsequently abandoned, twice in the snow. He’s understandably scarred by the experience, and Susan doesn’t want to put him through it again. Below are their descriptions, from Susan herself. To be honest, reading them surprised me, because Jake and Mojo came to our house and were adorable, affectionate little gentlemen with Josie and myself (and Josie was pretty provoking at first) but Susan said that’s because the house is calm and I understand little dogs. I think she’s afraid someone will adopt them and then send them to a shelter if they decide they aren’t “perfect.” Jake and Mojo are in Boulder, Colorado.
Jake (Chihuahua/Jack Russell terrier, five years old):
He is a rescue that I have had for five years. He is a very sweet, good natured boy, loves to take walks, have his belly rubbed, go on car rides, and loves to go to Petsmart and McGuckins. He loves to play with his stuffed lamb and play hide and seek around the house or yard. He is very shy and super sensitive to new situations and sounds and can get overwhelmed easily. Never yell, just talk quietly and stay calm and give him positive feedback and he will calm down. He is very smart and curious and learns new things very quickly. He even knows, ‘inside voice’. He loves the outdoors and does well on medium sized walks if it isn’t too hot or cold. He would also be a great agility dog.
He needs to have an outside space. He is very visual and spends hours watching the world go by or patrolling the yard or just sitting on a chair or on his blanket in the sun. He needs a backyard and someone at home most of the day. He should never be left in a kennel all day while you work or left inside alone all day.
When you do leave him home alone, he is very good. He doesn’t chew on anything or pee or poop in the house. He will sit on the bed or in his kennel napping until you come home. He isn’t a barker and will be quiet. His kennel door is always left open. It is his safe place and he will go into it when he needs some quiet time.
He is calm and easy going most of the time although he does have some ‘issues’. He was attacked years ago and can be dog aggressive. So he cannot go to the dog park and must be monitored when greeting new dogs. He either loves a dog right away or wants to attack it. There is no in between. He does better with females, especially white fluffy ones. Not good with medium or large dogs. He can be food and treat aggressive so I feed the dogs apart from one another and never leave them unattended with treats.
He should not be around small children. He gets excited and can jump up and nip, or run around and nip at their heels. A calm child 12 years old or older might be okay.
Jake needs to get out and walk twice a day. It doesn’t have to be a long one. He is used to a good 30 minute walk in the morning and another walk later in the day. He is quiet around the house in between his walks and is not hyper. He likes to sit on a chair and look out a window or out in the yard pacing around. He cannot be in a condo or apartment where there is no fenced yard. Never let Jake off leash unless in a fenced yard. He will run away if he gets scared, and he is fast.
He is so charming and loves the ladies. He sleeps at the end of the bed covered in his blankies and comforter or in his kennel. He can only sleep covered up, a chihuahua thing. Jake often slips away during the day to take a nap away from me and Mojo. He likes his alone time. He even puts himself to bed around 7:00. He loves his bed, it is his safe place along with his kennel.
Jake is a very gentle eater, never over eats, you can leave kibble out all day and he will only eat what he needs. He is also a gentleman when you give him treats, he has a soft touch and will not grab or bite you. But beware, he will attack another dog that gets too close to him and his food or treat.
The positives outweigh his negatives. Please think about giving Jake a great home, you won’t regret it!
Jake and Dogs: Questionable. It depends on the dog. He loves some dogs, usually the same size. But he also is aggressive to dogs. He has always loved Mojo and has other dog friends but is very on guard and ready to attack other dogs due to being attacked when young. So, see how he reacts from a safe distance, you will know. If his tail wags it’s okay, otherwise he will bark.
Jake and Cats: He likes to chase them but can learn to leave them alone. If you have a cat that likes dogs they may become good friends. Otherwise, no cats if you don’t want to do the training.
Jake and Children: Would recommend only older children. He has nipped at toddlers and children that move too fast to pet him. Monitor him with children at all times just in case.
Mojo, (Chihuahua, 6 years old, deaf):
Mojo is another rescue who has been with me almost two years. Mojo had a tough life before I found him. He was dumped three times by former owners, both times in the winter and left to fend for himself. When I got him he had no hair on his ears, was emaciated and terrified. It took me days before he would even let me touch him. I found out he was deaf but it just adds to his charm.
Mojo is a ‘Velcro’ dog. He must be around you or with you or see you at all times due to being dumped out in the cold three times. He is the best cuddle buddy you could ever have. Mojo just wants to be with his human all day, every day at every moment. He has severe separation anxiety. So it is a must that he goes to a home with another tiny dog to keep him feeling safe or a home where a husband and wife could keep him from being alone. He howls like a coyote if left unattended and will do it for hours. He is so afraid he is going to be dumped again and who can blame him. He will also dig out of a kennel and is a master at escape. When he is left at home with Jake, he just sits on the bed with Jake and waits.
If I have to leave him alone without Jake, he screams, scratches at the door, and can hurt himself trying to get out to find me. So if he needs to be left home alone once in a while, I suggest getting a strong kennel that is large and can lock and one he can’t chew or dig out of. Or, get dog gates and leave him in an area that can be closed off with his blanket.
Because he is deaf, he panics if he can’t see you or know where you are. When I first got him I put him on a leash and kept him walking with me everywhere, around the house, outside, even into the bathroom, for two weeks until he got the rhythm of the household. I also held him on my lap and carried him the first two weeks until he was out of shock. In the beginning he will need someone to take the time and do the same to make him feel safe. He needs touch and a visual connection to feel safe. He still sits in the bathroom when I take a shower.
After a month he came out of his shell and started to sit with Jake instead of me and relaxed into the routine of the home. He would sit on the couch and watch me instead of always needing to be at my side. He went out on the deck with Jake and hung out, coming in occasionally to check on me but got over his fears. He became pretty brave and would run around the yard and charge head first on our walks.
In the beginning, when I took him outside, I had to hold him, then put him down for a short period until he panicked and then carry him again. It didn’t take long for him to get his confidence back and walk like a big boy. I recommend always harnessing Mojo and Jake. If you put a leash on their collar it could hurt their necks if they pull.
Mojo has become a very secure and proud little pup, curious to go to stores, ride in the car and visit friends. But since I lost my home and have had to move multiple times, he is regressing and is a bit fearful again. He will need a lot of extra attention once he leaves me, don’t give up on him, he will blossom if you go the extra mile for him. Give him love, hold him and he will get his mojo back. That is why he got the name, he needed to find his mojo!
He is so adorable, funny, silly and so lovable. He is a little sprite that loves life once he feels safe and just makes me laugh. He chases leaves, bugs, birds and dances in a circle. He is a very happy little boy, and so handsome.
Warning: Never let him off leash, he will run after anything that moves, a leaf, a squirrel, bird etc. And you can’t call him back because he can’t hear you. If he gets scared, he also runs, very fast and is hard to catch and he can get hit by a car very easily.
He would do well in a home were someone is home all the time or be with another tiny dog. But never left home alone. He loves to play and run through the house. Also, no cats, he will attack them viciously. I found out the hard way. . .
He is food obsessive, he spends every waking hour looking for food on the ground so you must be careful that you don’t drop anything or leave anything on the ground that could make him sick. He eats really fast, loves everything so be careful he is monitored with his food so he doesn’t turn into a fat sausage dog!
Most important of all, Mojo sleeps in bed with me and loves to have a body next to his to feel safe. So, whoever takes him I hope they will allow him in the bed. He won’t take no for an answer and surprisingly he never gets in the way. It just works.
Mojo can only be re-homed with another tiny dog. He likes dogs but gets overwhelmed by larger ones when they play, so no dog park for him either. He can be aggressive at times while on walks and pull and bark at other dogs, so just monitor him. At other times he is fine.
Although Mojo is tiny at 8 pounds, he loves to walk and run a bit and loves being outdoors. Jake and Mojo love walking Wonderland Lake and other great trails in Boulder. But beware of them around other dogs, keep other dogs away. They are too small and may bark and act aggressive which might make a larger dog attack them. They can’t do any damage but can cause another dog to hurt them.
Mojo and Dogs: Questionable. He likes some dogs but is aggressive with others. It all depends on the dogs energy, and only small ones should be introduced. No big or medium dogs. He and Jake hit it off immediately and have only had about three fights in two years, usually over treats.
Mojo and Cats: No, he is very aggressive and attacks them. Also no to rabbits, or any small mammals, he will eat them!
Mojo and Children: Not recommended, he can be aggressive. Older calmer children might be okay, one that knows how to be around a small dog and be gentle and quiet.
I could go on forever about them. They really are wonderful companions once you get the routine down. They walk really well together on a leash, and are basically good dogs.
Jake will never pee or poop in the house unless you leave him home too long. Mojo hates cold and wet weather. It is a struggle to get him outside in inclement weather and occasionally he has run back into the house and peed or pooped. I keep him on a leash and keep him out until he does his business. Jake will always let you know when he needs to go, he will go to the door to remind you. Mojo walks around in a fast scurry looking for a place to pee, that is your signal to get him out. Normally I take them out ever two to three hours and we don’t have any mistakes. I take them out around eight at night before bedtime and they sleep through the night. I take them out the minute they get up.
They are healthy and have all of the necessary shots etc. I have copies of all of their records. They have no health issues at all, are neutered and had their teeth cleaned last summer. They are low maintenance dogs once you understand them and their peculiarities.
Please help me find a good home for them. It breaks my heart and soul to give them up but I have serious health issues and now no home. I pray they will find a home where they will be happy and safe and thrive. They deserve only good and most of all they deserve a stable safe home where they feel loved and adored.
(303) 253-4218 Susan Woodcock
Again, these dogs are in Boulder, Colorado.
Please share this post with anyone suitable.
UPDATE: Susan has to go into the hospital, so I’m taking the pups for a few days, until someone wants them or I can find a suitable no-kill shelter. Till then, I’ll be keeping them away from the cat.