smells like springtime

Well, springtime is officially here. Mr. Gonzo Bunny-Ears doesn’t mind cold weather, but he really loves when it’s warm and sunny out. On days like this Sunday, when it was in the high 60s and sunny, he spent the day lounging and running around on the deck and in the yard, taking in the sights and smells of springtime. Even when he’s inside, he likes to sit right by the screen door and gently sniff the air when the breeze wafts in. Bonus points if he gets to sit right next to his big brother during the lookout.

For more info about adopting Gonzo Bunny-Ears, contact us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com or through Partnership for Animal Welfare.

a tongue-bath standoff

Gonzo and Chick decided that they each needed a bath, but they both hate the bathtub. So they had the brilliant idea of giving each other a bath instead. A tongue bath.

For more info about adopting Gonzo Bunny-Ears, contact us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com or through Partnership for Animal Welfare.

ISO companionship for Junior

When Gonzo Bunny-Ears first came into our home, it seemed to us that he was very mellow, very flexible, and could fit well into any number of forever-home situations. This is still true. But, as time goes on, we are gaining some more insights into the kind of family that would make Mr. Ears happiest.

What is so clear, and yet we didn’t notice it before, is that Gonzo really thrives on companionship. Really thrives. All dogs are social animals, yes,  but Gonzo seems to need companionship more than others. For example. When he is with our dear Chick, he is a totally different dog than when he is alone. He is more mellow, more affectionate, more obedient, and seemingly happier. When Chick is not around, Gonzo is always on the move, looking for an activity. Very industrious. It’s adorable, but sometimes we wonder if he is feeling stressed. Once Chick enters the picture, Gonzo’s nervous energy dissolves, and he becomes like putty.

We don’t know where his forever-home will be or what his future family will be like, but we sure hope that he gets to enjoy the company of another critter, or at least a home-a-lot human.

For more info about adopting Gonzo Bunny-Ears, contact us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com or through Partnership for Animal Welfare.

on dog puzzles and the greatest dog trainer that ever was.

Mr. Gonzo Bunny-Ears has really taken to eating his kibble and snacks out of dog puzzles. We have been feeding our own Chick in this manner for years so to us it’s second nature, but often we get questions from bloggers about the types of puzzles we use, how we use them, when, etc.

Shortly after we adopted Chick as a young chap of two or three, he developed pretty severe separation all kinds of anxiety. He would pace nervously when we were getting ready to leave. Decorate the house with the garbage while we were gone. Refuse to eat for days during car trips. Never let us out of his sight when we were home. So, we went to a trainer. A first class, badass trainer.

Lee Mannix had a way with dogs. He was one of those people who can just communicate with them, and they with him. His craft was not teaching dogs “sit” or “shake” but rather teaching owners how to understand and interact with their dogs to prevent, treat, and manage problem behaviors. And his creativity seemed limitless. Some of the tips and tricks he came up with to help us deal with silly problems – like Chick pulling dish rags off their hooks – not only worked flawlessly, but boggled the mind. The human mind, that is. Lee left this world about a year ago, but his personality, his methods, and his lessons live on. For a longer account of the magic of Lee, read here.

But I digress. The first thing Lee asked of us was to stop feeding Chick food in a bowl. Ever. From that day forward, he was to eat only through training (kibble as reward), or in various mentally challenging games (kibble as problem solving goal). The idea was, that if meals are no longer predictable and punctual and effort-free, the dog will become more “willing to please” the owner, knowing that he’d better watch carefully lest the puzzle come soon. It also helped keep the dog busy for a while, so that we could hand him a snack, leave, and he would be so busy working on it that he wouldn’t remember to get worked up and anxious.  So we went from two meals a day, in a bowl, to five or six meals a day, in all different ways.

The simplest, and perhaps our favorite method to date for its sheer convenience and free-ness, is the Gatorade bottle. Take the plastic ring and the label off, wash and dry, shake a little kibble in, and hand it to the dog. A beginner dog may take 30 minutes to get the kibble out, trying to get at it with his tongue or his claws. A veteran only needs a few minutes. As a bonus, the dog eats more slowly than from a bowl, aiding in digestion and reducing gas.

Our second favorite is the grandfather of all dog puzzles, the kong. The easiest way to kong a dog is simply to scoop some kibble in, and seal the opening with something sticky – some peanut butter or cheese whiz works well. But this is too easy for our little geniuses.

To make a kong more difficult, we started to put a little peanut butter, yogurt, or cheese at the bottom of the kong, add the kibble, then seal the top. This way, dog has to extract the very end of the goodies with his tongue. For our geniuses? Still too easy. The next phase was mixing the kibble with yogurt or runny peanut butter in a bowl, and then stuffing the kong. The whole mixture is sticky and wet, so it takes a lot more tongue action to finish the work. This is challenging enough for Gonzo; it takes him about 20 minutes to finish one of these. For Chick, though, we have to take it to the next level: the freezer. Once frozen solid, it takes even an advanced chewer a while to get all the goodies out.  Our normal filler for these kongs is a combination of kibble, peanut butter, raw veggies, cheese, and leftovers – whatever we have that is dog-friendly and not likely to be otherwise eaten.

We usee many other food-dispensing devices and toys also, as Gonzo is modeling here. But the two originals, the ones shown to us by Lee, will always remain our favorites.

For more info about adopting Gonzo Bunny-Ears, contact us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com or through Partnership for Animal Welfare.

gonzo’s girlfriend

Gonzo has a girlfriend! She is a labradoodle, and she’s very fancy.

As it turns out, Gonzo loves stuffed animals. Come to think of it, he loves all toys. He likes to toss them in the air and then pounce on them, and to prance around proudly with them in his mouth. His favorite game of all time is “chase” — in which he is the chasee and you are the chaser. When he is feeling rompy, he will scamper about until he finds the nearest toy, pick it up, and approach you with a very cute and very devious look in his mouth — almost as if he is daring you to follow. The second you make a motion or take a step toward him, he whirls in place, and goes bounding away, stopping just before he’s out of sight to make sure you’re coming. He loves this game. But he also loves his girlfriend, Claudette.

Gonzo the Tourist, part II

When we first decided to skip the regular rescue show at the PetSmart and go touristing downtown, we felt a little guilty. How are we to get Gonzo Bunny-Ears adopted if we don’t give him any exposure? And yet, the cherry blossoms were calling. The weather oracle said it was going to be in the 60s and sunny, and the blossoms were at their peak. We decided we deserved it. To make ourselves feel less bad, I brought a bunch of Gonzo’s business cards (with our blog URL and the rescue’s info), decked him out in our cute “adopt me” vest, and loaded two dogs into the car.

Well, we need not have worried. Mr. Gonzo Bunny Ears and brother Sir Loverboy Chick were such a hit that people were literally stopping us every ten steps to ask about them. Everybody loved Mr. Ears in his vest, and a few people even wanted to adopt Sir Chick! The two dogs were petted by hundreds of hands, kissed by dozens of faces, and got to lick drool and baby food off the little fingers of several babies. Several people took photos of the dogs — sometimes with their children, sometimes all on their own. We were showered with compliments about our handsome and well-behaved dogs, and handed out business cards to a bunch of interested families. It was a blast!

In between the photo ops and meet-and-greets with new friends, we showed Mr. Ears the sights. There were some oddities that Gonzo found very curious, like this pink princess in a giant dress:

"Dad, what the heck is that about?"

And this weeping willow that was tickling Gonzo’s butt when it swayed in the wind, making him very nervous:

But mostly, we took in the classics. The National Mall, the Washington Monument, some climbing of cherry trees in bloom, admiring the flora, and the Lincoln Memorial.

grass smells like yum.

"part bunnyrabbit, dad, not part cat. sheesh!"

 

"i dont know what those are, but i hope they don't bite..."

noncooperative family portrait after a long day

 

Gonzo and Chick were both so pooped by the end of our visit that they both actually layed down in the middle of the grass, amidst the crowds. This is otherwise unheard of for Mr. Ears, who only sleeps in dog beds and laps.

 

too pooped to poop.

 

Our visit to the heart of our nation’s fair capital made such an impression on Gonzo, that he has made a very important decision about his life. A decision that he will share with you all tomorrow.

For more info about adopting Gonzo Bunny-Ears, contact us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com or through Partnership for Animal Welfare.

 

Gonzo the tourist

It occurred to us that although Gonzo is from the metro area of the great District of Columbia, it’s possible that he has never been there for a proper visit. Has he ever seen the Lincoln Memorial? The reflecting pool? The White House? We have no idea.

Sunday was beautiful, so we went downtown for a stroll, taking in the cherry blossoms and many, many, many throngs of tourists. Gonzo loved the cherry blossoms and tourists, and the cherry blossoms and tourists loved him. More on this later, but for today, just this photo that Gonzo insisted we take, after we saw several families putting their infants through this same sort of ordeal:

For more info about adopting Gonzo Bunny-Ears, contact us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com or through Partnership for Animal Welfare.

where’s waldo?

Waldo (aka Gonzo Bunny-Ears) likes to hide at the top of the steps and peer curiously down at us when we go into the basement to fetch the dog food. I can’t say that I blame him . . . those stairs are steep, and there are spiders!

For more info about adopting Gonzo Bunny-Ears, contact us at DCpetographer [at] gmail [dot] com or through Partnership for Animal Welfare.

 

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