Good Luck Dawsen

As of Friday, it’s been two weeks since my sister handed Dawsen’s leash over to a man who fosters for Golden Rescue. Dawsen was with my sister for seven months, but she just found it too tough.

Dawsen is a two year old, rusty colour, golden retriever with moderate epilepsy. He came to Golden Rescue at the age of 22 months, because his family just found his behavior to be too much to handle. According to the family, Dawsen had pretty much spent his life living in a crate, coming out for walks and short wrestling matches with their teenage sons. They said he had only had two seizures with them, but that he’d just gotten to be too much work. His first foster home taught him to sit, lie down and wait before getting his meals, but by the time my sister adopted him, Dawsen was still in the learning phase.

Over the seven months Dawsen lived with my sister, he learned to sit, lie down, wait, give a paw and how to play appropriately with other dogs. It was a bit of a struggle at first, but my sister stuck with it and Dawsen slowly settled into his new life as a beloved pet. As time went on though, there was one thing my sister was not able to break him of – his food obsession. As a result of the medication Dawsen receives for his epilepsy, he cannot control himself around food or anything that appears edible. Therefore, it was really hard for my sister to keep him safe and out of trouble, but for the most part she was successful. When he came to visit us though, he had to stay on leash or where a muzzle because it was impossible for me to feel comfortable enough with his behavior and safety.

Around the beginning of May, my sister learned that her landlord would be selling the home she was living in, so she began the search for a new job and home, in Huntsville, since she was really not happy in Kirkland Lake. She found a job almost immediately and then found a townhouse for our step-dad and her to share.

During the moving process, Brandi took Dawsen on trips to visit family and friends and found it almost impossible to keep Dawsen from stealing food and/or trying to eat anything that looked enticing. She moved in June, and Dawsen’s behavior got even more difficult to tolerate. She was really hoping that she’d be able to accommodate his needs enough to keep him safe, but This was not the case, so after a couple of weeks, she asked me to take Dawsen until Golden Rescue could find him an appropriate foster home. Dawsen stayed with us for over a week, but returned to my sister for a few days when we had to go “down south” for Rogue’s vet visit and the Red Labrador Retrievers’ annual reunion. It was really hard for my sister to be responsible for handing over Dawsen, but I also think it was important for her to meet the man who would be fostering him and see how easily Dawsen took to his pack – 2 golden retrievers, a boxer and toy poodle.

Since leaving my sister, Dawsen has begun to learn off leash recall and has made really good friend’s with the man’s 2 year old male golden retriever, Octane. He has already sent us a couple of updates and has complimented her on the level of care and training she provided. I’m really hoping Dawsen will find his forever home soon, but in the meantime, I know he is having a blast with his new pals.

My sister still cries about the decision she had to make, but I personally think it was the best one for both her and Dawsen because, in order for her to keep him safe, she would have had to either crate or muzzle him when she wasn’t able to be right by his side. I tell her that she isn’t a bad person, that maybe Dawsen needed her to teach him the valuable life skills he’d need to find the family of his dreams, but she still finds it hard to think about.

If we get any further updates on Dawsen, I’ll post them here.

Am I Weird?

Today, Phoenix is officially fourteen and a half!

Am I weird to celebrate such a milestone???

A friend of mine thinks I am, but then he always seems to think I do strange things with my dogs. He thinks it’s strange that I host birthday parties for them and that I even fill their stockings at Christmas.

What do you think??

In my opinion…

I think having Phoenix reach fourteen and a half is a real milestone to celebrate!

He had such a rough time at Christmas, but rose “from the ashes”, a really fun way of describing it – seeing as his name is Phoenix, right?

I feel that every day he’s still with us is a day worth celebrating, but that would get a little expensive so why not just celebrate every six months, right??

Well, Huib doesn’t think I’m crazy (I sure do love that guy!), so we’re going to order Phoenix a new collar from Silverfoot and make him some gluten free cupcakes again to share with his canine buddies. Since he’s working all weekend though, I think we’ll do it on Monday, so maybe Dawsen can come join in on the fun as well.

Happy fourteen And A Half Birthday Phoenix!!

You’ve changed my life in ways you’ll never know and I will cherish every day you choose to stay and walk along beside me.

Seminar & Other Stuff

This weekend, Huib, Cessna and I attended a breeding seminar with Amy from Me And My Pups. the seminar was being hosted by The Labrador Owners Club so of course their were several lab breeders in attendance, as well as, a table of West Highland White Terrier breeders, a Duck Toller breeder, a couple Wheaten breeders, a man who breeds Old English Sheepdogs, a woman who breeds golden retrievers and some others that I can’t remember.

Dr. Carmen Battaglia, a breeder, lecturer, researcher and author of “Breeding Dogs To Win”, was the presenter for the two day seminar. He taught us an easier way of understanding the pedigree of dogs through the introduction of “stick dog” figures, and a “symbols” pedigree. By using these two methods, breeders are better able to visualize the strengths and weaknesses of their females in order to find a stud that will help alleviate some of their weak traits or compliment their strengths. I found the seminar to be a bit on the more visual side, but also found it educational. Huib and I are not looking at getting a breeding female until Phoenix crosses the rainbow bridge, so have tons of time to collect pedigrees and learn all we can about the “missing” pieces of a traditional pedigree – such as the health concerns and structural traits of the ancestors.

On Sunday we began our journey home and experienced some problems with the truck around Oshawa. Luckily Amy was still with us, so we called CAA and had the truck towed to a dealership near her parent’s place. We stayed the night and had the truck examined the following morning. I was pretty frustrated by the lack of attention the dealership gave us, but was happy when they finally called to say we could pick it up around 5:30pm and head north. Phoenix, Aspen and Canyon had stayed with my step-dad and sister while we were away so I was eager to get home and pick them up. My Dad and sister are great with the dogs, but for some reason Aspen was stressed and having issues with her incontinence so I was pretty worried about her and annoyed that we would be delayed in returning. Aspen has had issues with incontinence since she was young, but for the most part it doesn’t happen often – just when she’s had too much water or when she is feeling stressed. While with my sister, she had about two or three incidents a day, which is unusual, so I really wanted to get back to her. Since we picked them up Monday night, she has not had an issue…

On Sunday I also sent an e-mail to the breeder who owns Canyon’s sire and brother to see how Phoenix’s (brother) clearances had gone. Judi was taking Phoenix to have his clearances done that morning, so I was eager to learn about his eyes. Well, it turns out that Phoenix also has scarring on the retina of his right eye in addition to folds. As far as I know, retinal folds are an issue common in the collie breeds (not so much in golden retrievers), but in Phoenix’s case, Huib is wondering if it might not be related to whatever caused the scarring in the two brothers. He is thinking that maybe Phoenix had the infection or whatever slightly worse in his right eye, causing inflammation that left the folds. I think it would be interesting to find out if their sisters also have the scarring, but since they are most likely just pet dogs, I don’t think we’ll ever know. With this news, Judi has begun the process of finding Phoenix a new home because it is not possible for her to keep a dog who cannot be in her program. I really wish we had known this a few months ago because I know Brandi would have adopted him for sure, but she now has Dawsen and doesn’t think she could handle another dog at this point.

Here’s a picture of Dawsen from one of our many walks in the winter.

Yesterday Canyon and I had our fifth training session with the Border Collie lady and again it went well. Brandi came along to watch so she could see what we were learning and if she would like to do something similar with Dawsen. We did some “lefts” and “rights”, practiced the “heel” position a bit more and worked on his “fronts”. Then, we started teaching him to “go around” so that in the summer he will be ready for Flyball lessons. I thought he would be too big for Flyball, but the Border Collie lady thinks that his obsession with balls will work well in this sport.

As an aside, I’m sort of getting the impression that she isn’t sure I will be able to be successful in agility with my dogs since I won’t be able to run the course with them. I’ve tried to explain that I could stand in the middle and direct them, but I’m not sure she sees how it is possible to be successful…so I guess I’ll just have to show her how it’s done. Does anyone else know of a blind or visually impaired person who has done agility with their dogs?

After the session was over, we talked a bit about the seminar I had attended on the weekend and she really thinks that we should show Canyon even once for the experience. So, Huib has said that if the Temiskaming Kennel Club has their show in new Liskeard this summer, that he would be willing to show Canyon for me – could I be rubbing off on him? Then, just before we were leaving the Border Collie lady asked my sister if she had a dog and Brandi told her about Dawsen. After listening to the concerns Brandi had, she asked if she would be interested in attending some obedience classes and Brandi said she’d love to. So, Dawsen will be starting his classes next Thursday!! Brandi wants me to come along, but Huib and I both told her that we think it would be better for her to do this on her own with Dawsen because part of the issue is that she worries about what others think and relies on us to help her, so it’s time they did some real work together and develop a more respectful relationship. I’ll keep you all posted on how their classes go…

Before I end this post, I thought I’d let you all know that our potential puppy is due on Monday (April 18th). Cheyenne is the dam of this litter and her breeder feels that one of her girls might be a good fit for us. They tend to be a little more independent minded and she finds them a little harder to place in homes because they need more experienced handlers and more stimulation. Our ideal puppy is exactly what she has described, so we’re quite eager to hear about the litter and to find out how well they score on the aptitude test. We’re still waiting for the pedigrees and clearances the breeder was supposed to send us, but are hoping that this delay isn’t a sign that we should be looking elsewhere. I think I’ll e-mail her again and give her my sister’s address in addition to the hospital’s fax number and my e-mail address in the hopes that it’s just our mail service that is the issue.

Introducing Dawsen

About a month or so ago my sister sent an application into Golden Rescue to adopt one of their special needs or older dogs. She originally applied to adopt an 8 year old male who was blind, but his foster family was hoping to place him with a dogless family (guessing to keep him safe) and there was already a possible match. Over the past few weeks we’ve continually checked the website for new possibilities and saw Dawsen (aka Clancy). Dawsen is a 20 month old rusty coloured male golden with mild epilepsy. He is loving and highly food motivated, but needs to be taught everything about being a proper family pet. Dawsen wasn’t taught much by his original family, except for how to sit and wait for meals and to behave in the crate. These are useful skills, but he wasn’t really given the chance to be a puppy so is now grasping the opportunity with both paws.

Picture of my sister standing with her new buddy, Dawsen, wearing his dark green collar, walking harness and red flexi-leash.

We first met Dawsen about a week ago when his foster dad brought him and his own goldens (Truman & Julie( to meet us at a park in aurora. He was well-behaved at the visit, walking on his flexi without pulling and interacting with Canyon and Cessna appropriately. He didn’t pay much attention to us, but you could see his desire to be friends and to get to know our dogs better. Brandi called the volunteer responsible for her case and began the adoption process. On Monday she got the call that she was approved and we set up a pick-up date for the following evening in Huntsville. After about half an hour of filling out paperwork and learning Dawsen’s routines we put him and his stuff into the truck for the 4 hour drive home. He was an amazing traveler, just settling by Brandi’s feet in the front and then easily settling in back when we decided to transfer him for more space. He didn’t once try to jump on or bother Phoenix who was lying in the back seat – we can no longer leave him home alone with his IVD diagnosis – and he even gave Brandi several licks on her hand that wasn’t holding the kibble.

We arrived at our house around 1:00am and made Brandi a bed on the couch with a dog bed beside her. Before going to sleep though, we let Dawsen and Canyon play while the other 3 of my gang were in the bedroom with Huib. They got along well, sharing toys and playfully chewing on one another’s face. During the night Dawsen settled well and slept with Brandi’s hand on his back – guess he liked the human contact. In the morning we all woke up and fed our respective dogs and then gave them a chance to play a bit before heading back to sleep – again Dawsen slept well beside Brandi. Around noon we woke up and I got out the grooming tools and brushed Dawsen well before spraying him with some vanilla coat freshener. He lost a lot of hair and had several knots in his tail, but I think the next time we brush him he’ll feel a little less stressed about it and maybe stop mouthing. A bit later we let the dogs play outside before Brandi packed Dawsen and her stuff into the car and they headed home.

Dawsen has now been with Brandi for 72 hours and they are doing well. He is so calm and easy going for his age and as long as she takes him for a short walk in the morning and at night he just lays by her feet and plays with his toys or sleeps. He has eaten some Kleenex, gotten into an ashtray on the coffee table (left by Dad) and eaten Branden’s (her cat) food a few times, but otherwise he’s been quite a nice house guest. This afternoon Brandi took Dawsen for a drive to get a baby gate from Canadian Tire and then to do a little grocery shopping – he settled easily in the back of her truck and didn’t once move into the front to investigate. So far I think they are enjoying one another’s company and with time they will figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Picture of Dawsen, a rusty coloured golden retriever with dark brown eyes.

Stay tuned for further updates on Dawsen as he learns his basic obedience commands and becomes a forever member of our extended family.