A little gift to raise the spirits

It’s been rainy in Central Texas lately, which is a real blessing. We’re in the midst of a historic drought, so a little bit of moisture for the earth makes us pretty happy.

It’s also been raining gifts and surprises in our house over the past few weeks, since the Dude was diagnosed with severe, late-stage heartworms. We’ve been amazed at the kindness and generosity of our blog and facebook friends, who have sent cards, notes, emails, photos, and even a couple of little packages to help the Dude make it through his nasty ten-week treatment (and help the Chick be the sweet, loving big brother he needs to be).

A few days ago, we got this package in the mail from our facebook-friend Rachel from Tumball, Texas:

It was a beautiful card with a historic photo of a pit bull type dog dressed up in a jaunty top hat, pipe, and party suit, and a pair of custom, hand-knit, perfectly sized scarves! Naturally, the boys –who LOVE to dress up — couldn’t wait to wear them on the first chilly occasion they god, and pulled them out this weekend for the 10-minute “snow” storm we had.

The scarves are so cozy and chic that they make the boys feel like 1920s artists and writers, sitting around at an outdoor french cafe drinking cognac and tea, arguing about love and politics!

Thank you Rachel!

Nothing says “I love you” like a knucklebone . . .

If you are vegan, you know you love your dogs if you bravely march up to the meat counter at your neighborhood grocery to ask for raw cow bones. Foster mom has never done this before, but after much reading and convincing by various dog trainer and vet friends, I finally buckled. I went to our closest Central Market  and bought a six-pound femur bone. It was totally disgusting — covered in little bits of fat, meat, and other inner nasties — but in a weird way, totally satisfying, too.

The Dude got to come home in between his two back-to-back heartworm shots to cuddle up on the couch with his Chick and some blankets, and I felt like buying him a delicious and heroic treat to celebrate. Plus, it’s Valentine’s Day. And to a dog, what says “I love you” better than a six-pound raw cow bone? I had visions of the two boys being happily reunited for the night, and then peacefully gnawing on their bones in the living room, forgetting about all of their  troubles.

Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work out quite so. Chick was excited to see the Dude only until he realized that there was a cow bone in the house, in which case his mind went completely blank except for the bone – the bone – the bone – thebonethebone – THEBONE.THEBONE.THEBONE.

Dude, on the other hand, wasn’t excited to see the Chick OR the bone — the combo of the heartworm injection and the pain and anti-inflammatory meds have made him totally drowsy, mopey, and without an appetite.

All in all, we’re just happy to be together. Wishing you plenty of togetherness on this Valentine’s Day, too.

Is it love?

Dog people love to anthropomorphize their pets. We have all done it.

Chick feels guilty for stealing the trash.

Doodlebug is proud of this new Sirius Republic bowtie.

People love to project our own dreams and emotions onto dog-dog relationships, too. We throw big words around — Love. Hate. Jealousy. In the case of our dogs, we do it too. We invent personalities and draw conclusions about how the dogs feel about each other, even though in reality we can rarely know for sure. In our own house right now, the Dude seems like the goofy, child-like little brother who is obsessed with his Yoda, Chick. Chick is older, wiser, too-cool-for-school, and tolerates the young ones with a stoic patience that only the most magical of dogs possess.

Of course, we wish with all of our might that he adored each of the dogs that come through our home, and actually preferred having another dog in the house. But does he? Hard to say. There is no doubt that in a choice between people and dogs, Chick has always chosen people. He learned early in adoptive life that people are the ones who control all the food, beds, walks, toys, and games, so we’re more interesting than other dogs. And fosterdad and I prefer it that way.

And yet, from time to time a dog comes along who Chick not only tolerates, but genuinely seems to enjoy the company of. When former foster Stevie Wonder would try to snuggle on Chick, he would tolerate it sometimes, and run away other times. But he never seeked it out. With other dogs, he has been more willing to cuddle, though I wonder if it was more that he wanted a piece of the prime real estate where the other dog happened to be sleeping, and not the warm furry body that he was seeking out.

But his relationship with Snickerdoodle has us wondering whether this is a different kind of thing for our grumpy old man.

Pre-Dude, Chick’s favorite resting spots were the bed in our master bedroom, the Stevie-chair in the living room, and underfoot in the kitchen. The Dude right away took to sleeping on The Dora in our guest room. Pretty soon, we started finding Chick in there, too.

Is this love? Maybe.

And there’s more. It used to be that Chick was clingy and needy to an unhealthy level. Wherever we were, he needed to be no more than four feet away. Now when we come home, if they’re in the middle of a particularly satisfying nap on The Dora, they will both come greet us, and quickly retreat back to their dogpile in the guest room. It’s new ground for us, and we’re trying to figure out whether it means anything at all. What we know for certain is that it is both unprecedented and oh-so-adorable.

Food motivation: zero to sixty in 2.2

In recent weeks, we’ve mentioned in passing that the Dude is not very food motivated. It’s been a big challenge for us because food puzzles and exercise are our deadly 1-2 combo in combatting anxiety, and with the Dude’s intensive heartworm treatment, the exercise is entirely out. With no visible food motivation, the food puzzles have been out too.

Until Monday.

On Monday, the Dude decided to turn a very sharp corner and become not just willing to work, but a complete food maniac.

We have seen a lot of dogs go from nervous and disinterested of food to gung-ho piggies, but never in the blink of an eye. The sun set on Sunday and the Dude nonchalantly walked away after sniffing his dinner, and the sun rose on Monday and he was an expert wobbler-holic, a brilliant kong-extractor, and a voracious devourer of bully sticks. Is this guy playing tricks on us?

We’re glad the boy has found his appetite — he has gained about 8 pounds since he came into our care, but is still a skinny little kid.

And with the doctor’s “Keep calm. Very, very calm” orders, food-driven training, puzzles, and games will –hopefully– keep us all sane until his 10 weeks of treatment are over!

By the way– did you notice the Dude’s new collar? Are you wondering what he did to deserve it? Tune in tomorrow to find out!


NEW POST today at our other blog — about nine new dogs traveling cross-country to join Love-A-Bull’s foster program! Click here.

For photos, bios, and adoption info about Love-A-Bull’s other adorable, adoptable pit bull type dogs, visit here.
For more info on Snickerdoodle, click here.

How’s that crate training going?

Crate training the Dude has looked a little bit like this:

Some may recall that the night he came to us, we tucked him away in his crate and woke the next morning next to an intact crate halfway across the room, and a peacefully sleeping Dude on the sofa. Out came the zip-ties, and the Dude took an alternative approach: pushing and nudging at the metal bars until they gave in, bending into perfect diamond-shape patterns with jagged edges: just the right size and shape for a dog Snickerdoodle’s size to stick his head through and puncture his neck on the sharp corners.

A few failed attempts at buttering the boy up later, we landed a rehomed plastic crate (apparently better for destructive dogs).

Naturally, he was skeptical. The first day, he wouldn’t even come in the same room as the crate. The second day, he wouldn’t come near the crate. The third day, we came up with a brilliant idea: Invite his mentor/boyfriend/brother Chick into the crate first. We never did crate train the Chickster, but when we filled the bottom crate half with bedding and invited him in for a nap, he didn’t hesitate to hop right in to the cozy nest. And wouldn’t you know? The Dude dove right in after him. For the Doodlebug, it’s hard to resist a little snuggle-time with his big bro.

Eventually, we warmed up to where the Dude would enter the crate shell first– assisted by some hot dog bits — if Chick was nearby and looking like he was headed in the same direction. But if Chick was nowhere in sight? No way, Jose.

We feel really lucky that the two are such good compadres and are relatively trustworthy — barring any garbage can escapades — when left loose alone together in the house. And honestly, given how sweet these two look snuggled up like this, we’re not in too much of a crate-training rush.


For photos, bios, and adoption info about Love-A-Bull’s other adorable, adoptable pit bull type dogs, visit here.

For more info on Snickerdoodle, click here.

Chix-a-Lot Friday: Handsome devil, or just a devil?

Mama sometimes says that when she calls me a handsome devil, she doesn’t mean that I should actually act like a devil. I don’t really get what that’s about, but she sits me down every now and then and says those words. Maybe I need to pay better attention.

So remember how all week mama has been making a big deal about my foster brother Dude’s heartworms, and how they made him real sick? And how he is also very anxietated when they leave, which is extra super dangerous because it makes his face drool and his heart go thump-thump-thump and it makes the headboard turn into sawdust, and I guess drool and thumping and sawdust are Very Bad when a dog’s heartworms are being killed?

Well. Mama and some of her big-brained dog loving friends got their heads together and thought: we wonder if that Dude were allowed to be together with that handsome devil (not actual devil), if that would help the Dude not feel like he has to thump-thump his wormy heart and make sawdust on mama and dad’s bed and leave big foamy puddles of drool by the doors and windows.

So they tried it. Now friends, you have to understand that this is a really big deal because even though I am a very good boy, I am also a handsome devil and so mama doesn’t normally ever leave me alone with any of my friends or frienemies, in case something happened to go wrong. But I guess I’ve been seeming extra trustworthy recently or maybe the Dude seems extra get-along-with-able, because she started leaving us alone together for a few minutes, then an hour, then two.

The first time, we were very good boys. The second time, we were very good boys. The third time?

Some of you remember when I admitted my former baking habit — I also have a garbage disposal habit, which mama says is related. I thought I had quit it, but it’s just so hard, especially when there’s a youngster around who needs to learn the ropes. How could he ever become a proper housedog without knowing the secrets and smelly wonders contained in a kitchen garbage can?

Well wouldn’t you know, mama and dad sure were surprised when they walked in to the house and discovered this masterpiece in the kitchen. Mama started laughing so hard that she almost fell down, and dad just kind of stood there — but he started laughing too when the Dude trotted into the kitchen and instead of looking kind of bashful and confused like I coached him, decided to go right back to work on the masterpiece. Silly Dude.

And before I knew it, mama invited us to go outside, where we had to stand for a good, long while.


A green lawn to roll on

It’s been a week and a half, and we can finally say that Snickerdoodle had become comfortable enough to feel at home.

Don’t believe us? Here’s our proof:

Different fosters have taken different amounts of time to really settle in, and we suspect that the Doodlebug’s trajectory was thrown off temporarily by his medical issues and his big scare last weekend. It’s true that he still won’t go anywhere near his crate (his third crate, after thoroughly defeating one and convincingly threatening the second) and he still gets a worried furrow in his brow when we leave the house. He still rolls his eyes and sighs when we pull out squeaky toys and balls. And he still isn’t entirely convinced that food is worth working for. But progress takes time.

We’ve hit some big milestones over the past few days: the Dude conquered his first kong snack. He learned how to walk into another room — not the one we’re in — for a nap on the couch. And he reclaimed that very primal, canine instinct to dive into the grass for a long, satisfying, post-bath back scratch, four legs pointed toward the heavens, with a big silly grin on his face. Our favorite milestone yet.

To check out our other blog — about pit bull advocacy, education, rescue, and events in Texas — click here.

For photos, bios, and adoption info about Love-A-Bull’s other adorable, adoptable pit bull type dogs, visit here.
For more info on Snickerdoodle, click here.

Clean dogs on clean sheets

After Snickerdoodle’s scary incident and subsequent visit to the vet this weekend, he and the Chick put their heads together and came up with what they considered to be the Very Best Course of Action: from here on, all dogs should sleep on the human bed.

When the vet ordered plenty of rest and TLC for the Doodlebug, surely this is what she meant.

But these guys know better than to think that us very disciplined human would let two filthy, smelly, frito-pawed, grass-stain-covered dogs sleep on our nice clean human sheets — least of all on “clean sheet Wednesday.” No, we’re too cold-hearted and clean-loving to allow that.

So the Chick and the Dude did an unprecedented thing: they volunteered for a bath.

I should have known they were trying to trick me. I should have seen it coming. But I blindly trusted these two con-artists, and gave them a quick hosedown and a good scrub with some nice shampoo. What resulted was some very clean, naked, and fresh-smelling wonderdogs — sleeping on our bed.

"Chick, do you smell that? It smells amazing." "Yes Dude, it's us, and it smells great!"

"I'm already daydreaming about nightdreaming in that nice, comfy human bed."

"Ok Chick, on the count of three, pretend to be sleeping in their bed."

"One, two, three. . . "

To check out our other blog — about pit bull advocacy, education, rescue, and events in Texas — click here.

For photos, bios, and adoption info about Love-A-Bull’s other adorable, adoptable pit bull type dogs, visit here.
For more info on Snickerdoodle, click here.
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