Rack’s Six Month Anniversary – Picture

Six months ago today, we made the long trek up the spine of Florida.  Past the nearby cities, through the Citrus Groves, into the splat that is the Theme Park ridden area of Orlando, and finally to Deltona.

In Deltona we met Gisele and entered her home to adopt Rack.   Rack was named Les Paul when he was with The Dog Liberator, he needed a name, and they chose that musical one.   It didn’t quite fit us, and we were trying to come up with one that did.  Since we were recovering from the loss of our Dog Of A Lifetime, Lettie, we settled in on a name that she suggested. 


When we stood in our large kitchen in Philadelphia shortly after we adopted Lettie back in 2002, I asked Kevin for a little help. I needed a baking rack.  When I said that word, Lettie snapped to as if being ordered around.   We never found out why, but when it came time to name our boy, it stuck.

Like many other, or even most other highly intelligent dogs, those surrendered to a shelter may shut down.  Rack was one of the most severely shut down dogs I had ever seen.   But like Gisele said “He’s in Deltona, He needs you”.  Our heart strings were pulled, Kevin said “She’s good, lets get him!”.  

So we did. 

Lettie was shut down when we got her, but in a much better frame of mind then.  She did give us the experience we needed to work with dogs like Rack.  

In the six months that we’ve had him, we’ve watched him grow.   He’s gone through three different de-worming treatments, and missteps with dog foods that held him back.  He’s put on another 10 pounds, grew about 4 inches in height, and has a coat so shiny that when you pet him your hand comes back with lanolin.  Robust is what we’d call him.  Thanks to a suggestion by a neighbor, we got him on Orijen dog food.  No Chinese sourced ingredients for this one.  I don’t want to go through the syringe feeding that I did with Lettie near her end.

He’s still showing signs of his trauma.  Loud sounds are triggers to him and make him turn and try to hide.  Twice a day we walk out to Wilton Drive and have a sit down on the benches.  At 6AM it’s quite quiet, but at 9AM it’s an experience.  He is getting immersed in the buzz of the city.  The 50 bus is bad enough, but in the morning when the trash trucks pick up the bottles from the bars, he notices it even a block away.

On the other hand, he’s one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met.  He’s a McNab, a not very well known breed outside of the ranches of California and nearby states.  Incredibly intelligent, eager to please, he’ll simply do what you ask as long as you don’t drop something that makes a noise.  A similar breed to the Border Collie, but definitely not one.  The BC’s are a bit more high strung, my McNab has a mellowness to his personality that you have to experience, but once you do you will understand.  There’s a sweetness and a subtlety to him that is hard to put to phrase.  The ranchers will say the difference between a BC and a McNab is the way they work.  Perhaps that is the best way to say it.  They’re both great breeds, but the McNab is it’s own.

It’s not all sweetness, having a Herding dog means that you absolutely must exercise them.  Fortunately he’s good with the 4 miles a day that we walk, and everyone in our society could use that.  Anything less and you are in for a strange experience.  The ranchers and breeders in California can’t understand how Their Dogs can live in an Urban Environment, but we are proof that they can adapt and adapt well.

Intelligent Dogs aren’t for everyone, nor are active dogs.  Some people should only have a dog from a toy store filled with polyester fluff – a stuffed animal.  I’m doing my best by him and as a result my dog is growing every day. 

He’s still the “Yellow Footed Collie” as he learns how to properly water a rock or a hedge, but that gives me the excuse to work with him more so that he doesn’t get fearful.  That hose in front of the house gets a workout frequently and will until he grows into a better aim.  Once he learns that particular “trick” I may just let him on the furniture.  That picture was taken when he invited himself on the chair.  First a wet nose on the elbow, then he pulled himself up bit by bit until he was on Kevin’s lap.  He didn’t want to leave the chair when Kevin did so he stayed behind.

Smart dog, huh?

So six months on my rescue and I are continuing our journey.  He rescued me when Lettie left us.  Now we can grow together.

Happy First Birthday, Rack!

According to our admittedly sketchy math, this is Rack’s Birthday.

Not an Earth-shattering event, but something for me and mine to keep in mind.

Lettie, my old McNab dog passed in April, and I found Rack at the Dog Liberator‘s about a week later.

Losing Lettie, I was basically “ordered” to “go get another dog” by Kevin.  It helped me get through my own feelings of loss.   She was the Canine Ambassador to Snowbirds in Wilton Manors, even if she really didn’t care for the attention toward the end.

We finally see Rack at The Dog Liberator, April 21, 2013

We picked up Rack a week after we contacted Giselle.  The timing was for the best since she was able to help him come out of his shell enough for us to continue the work on the recuperation of this dog’s shattered psyche. 

Smart dogs don’t take well to shelters.  They cower and hide in the back of the cage and end up being put to sleep in much higher proportion than a less smart dog.  McNabs are the smartest around, and other similar breeds like Border Collies, Poodles, German Shepard Dogs, and the like will suffer the same fate.

Since we got him, he’s grown much more assertive.  He doesn’t hide in the crate when the train passes by a half mile away, but he still hides from the trash trucks all the same.  He still doesn’t like Wilton Drive and all that noisy traffic, but he’s no longer shivering in abject terror when we get there.   It’s fear but it’s more manageable and with time he’ll do well.

Whatever he went through before he ended up in the right hands with Gisele and finally us, did leave him with a fear of strangers.   We can manage that, it isn’t necessary that some snowbird gets to meet my dog.  Most back off when I tell them “He Won’t Let You” and leave the vague comment hang in the air.

He has discovered the joy of other dogs by leaping in mid air when he sees them a block away.   We’ve got to work on calming him down, silly puppy.

Giselle said that he was “About 7 Months Old” when we first spoke in April.   So I’m “doing the math”.  That means that today would be close enough to a year old today.  We’ll never know for sure, and this is a good a day as any.

There were a few stumbles when we got him.   It took a solid three months for us to get him fully dewormed and on food that he could tolerate.   Puppies don’t always digest their food well so we were giving him probiotics and switching the foods around until we found one he could tolerate.   Wellness Puppy food made him have loose stools, and apparently that is common even if it is a high quality food.  We switched to Merrick and Orijen and both are excellent foods that he tolerates exceedingly well.

We won’t be giving him “extra treats” today for his birthday, I don’t want to clean up extra mess outside on our walks.  His regular food is fine in a Kong or a tennis ball with a slit in it.   Those two toys keep him busy for a half hour at a time!

So, if you’re looking for a dog at the shelter, look extra long at that dog hiding at the back of the cage.  They may need a little extra care because of the shock they’ve been put through, but they’re definitely worth it.

Happy Birthday and many more to come, Rack!

How Rack Got His Name – Picture

I’ll admit it, “Rack” is an unusual name.

I have to stop myself from saying “My dog?  Meet ‘Rack’!” or some such.

Meet Rack, sounds like a bar.

But like any “unusual names”, there is a bit of a story behind it.

My old dog, Lettie, R.I.P. named him, long before he was even born.

Since by coincidence, Rack was picked up by The Dog Liberator from the vet’s office he was surrendered to on the day Lettie went to sleep, I was looking for a connection.

The Dog Liberator had him listed as “Les Paul“, and Mr Paul’s music being of an earlier era wasn’t really all that familiar to me.   He came to them as Jake, and that made me uncomfortable since this dog was a very shy and fearful dog.  Why honor that connection by keeping that name?

Lettie was named after the Animal Control officer that realized that a dog as beautiful as she was belonged in a No-Kill rescue so she’d get a second chance.  Her name was Paulette.   I liked the connection there and kept it.

But Lettie was a quirky dog.  She had certain things about her own personality that would trip off at odd times and we learned to live with them.

Like most dogs, she’d bark at the TV for a while until she realized that it wasn’t real.   Dogs on shows had her confused.  Cats would set her off.   That sort of thing.   She had a lot of amusing triggers.   Since I was a fan of animal programs, I’d have that on a lot, so she had a lot of chances to bark at the tube.

I also like to cook and bake.  When I make Biscuits, I start with cream and churn butter in the Cuisinart.

One day I was in the kitchen, and realized that I needed a second baking rack to put something into the oven, so I asked for some help.

“Hey, could you get me that rack?”
“Sure, but what’s with Lettie?”
“Dunno, lets watch…”

So I narrowed it down.

The word “Rack” would set her off as if she was being called.  In fact, it was like being ordered to come to attention.   We had our ideas, it could have been that she was abandoned by a former military person when they were sent to Iraq.   She could have been called Raquel.

Beautiful dog, who knows?

It was one of those little mysteries we never found the answer to.

But we did joke with each other that it might make a good name for the right dog. 

Rack!  Here, boy!

So last week I started looking online at dogs.  We did manage to find a couple dogs that looked like they could have some Mc Nab blood in them, but both were adopted.  We were about to give up when an aside comment by me to Gisele at The Dog Liberator about Les Paul being a beautiful dog set the wheels in motion.

I thought he was up in Perry County, Georgia, about 700 miles away and said that it was a shame he wasn’t closer.

Gisele said “He’s here in Deltona.  He Needs You.”.

We were sold.   This dog was one who looked like he had Mc Nab blood in him, and when I finally met him we were convinced that if he isn’t a purebred, he’s mostly Mc Nab.   His story was a familiar one, intelligent dogs like Mc Nabs, as well as Border Collies, Aussie Shepards, and other herding breeds are driven quite crazy in a shelter.   They tend to fold up and go into shock.  My first view of Les Paul was this black and white dog curled up in a ball in the corner of a white concrete block shelter cell. 

Clearly, he needed our help.

So we agreed to see if he’d like to come home with us.  That was on Saturday, and he had a visit with the vet on Tuesday so that weekend was out.   We all felt that he needed a week to de-stress and figure out where his head was at so that gave us time to think things through.

The entire next week, we prepared all the usual background items.   Dog Mats, Crates, a bag of Food, harness, and collar made it to the house.   We still didn’t quite like the name, it really didn’t ring true with us.

We still had “Rack” but we weren’t sure if we were serious about naming a dog after a baking rack and a dog’s reaction from time gone by.

It eventually stuck.  I kept referring to him as Rack without realizing it.   I guess the name adopted him as well.

Now he’s here, in Wilton Manors.  He’s got his big grey crate that’s in view of our big green chairs.   He has a home.  A Forever Home, and we take that seriously.   And a name.

Given to him by our Dearly Departed, Lettie.

His name is Rack.

Sure, it’s unusual and a bit silly but it is his.

Rack.  Welcome Home, Rack.

Say Hello To Rack

Yesterday was a very busy day for the three of us.

We got a new addition to the family.

Say hello to Rack.

“Rack” may be a silly name, I’m already hearing myself saying “Meet Rack” and shake my head, but it stuck.  I’ll write about that another day.

You see, Rack has had three names that we know of in his short life.   He was Jake, and then Les Paul the Shy Dog, and now Rack.  His history before he came into my life is on this page at the Dog Liberator.

We got up early on our end.   Drove up from Wilton Manors to Deltona.   That is a 4 plus hour drive one way, and Florida is a very long and flat state.  I got to see some areas that I had only driven past at high speeds. 

Rack is a Shelter Dog.   We will never know of his history before he made it to the Vet’s.  He was a “Owner Surrender”.   That means that in his 7 months of life, the people who bought him as a puppy came to realize he was a handful and turned him in.  I have my own value judgement about people like that, and any reader of my blog know how I feel about people who discard dogs.

Rack is most likely a dog with significant amounts of Mc Nab in him.   They are a separate breed of dog that looks like a Border Collie but isn’t.   Calmer, smarter, and more mellow than your run of the mill BC, a Mc Nab is an amazing breed.   Luckily, they have not been corrupted by the inbreeding that some of the more popular breeds are, and aren’t well known out of the Western US.   It originated on the Mc Nab Ranch in Mendocino County, California.  Rack is my second Mc Nab, and I’m happy to know him.

Arriving at The Dog Liberator in Deltona, I remembered my training – “No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact” until the dogs initiate it.  I know, I’m quoting Cesar Millan, but when you’re working with fearful dogs, it’s a great start.   I went in to visit with Gisele’s pack of Border Collies and we went back into the room with the dog’s crates.  That was where we first saw Rack, then named Les Paul.  He was hiding in the back of the crate wondering who these two big guys were and why were they there.   Gisele took him out of his crate eventually and we did get to meet.

I learned about his history, his medical history, and we talked about techniques about how we would integrate this shy creature and allow him to blossom. 

I don’t think he’s going to be shy and fearful for long.

Eventually we got him outside, and into the car for the long haul back down the coast to Wilton Manors.  Surprisingly, he’s great in the car.   Really didn’t have a problem.  He didn’t know us so he just sat there while we chattered for the drive home.  Four and a half long hours later we got here.

I may have pushed it a little but it worked out. 

When we got in the driveway, we got our gear out of the car and contemplated the black and white bundle in the big grey plastic crate.   He didn’t seem to mind being there, and didn’t seem to mind being handled so we started coaxing him out.  

You know the saying “Getting there is half the battle”?   Getting him half out of the crate was most of the battle.   At that point we slipped his harness on him and lifted him to the ground.   No sounds, no grumbling like my own Lettie would have, just “Ok, lets go”.

I knew he would have to Go so I let him out on the dark street and walked him out down the block.  Yes, the First Dog Walk is always the most important one, it sets the tone for the relationship.  

“Flying Colors”.   Well ok, Flying Black and White.

We got down the street lifting legs on everything in site, going back and forth between North and South side of the street, and finally going Poo for the first time in a new neighborhood.

I think we did the block twice, then he came to meet Lisa and Billy across the street.  Still flying colors.  We took it on his terms and he did eventually come over for a little attention from Billy.

At that point I got a call from Gisele asking for an update. 

“All’s well”  He’s going to continue to make progress.

And that’s where I’ll end it.   The first picture was from when we got him inside the house after all that.   The crate was closed and the food was eaten.  When he was done, he just plopped down and rested after drinking 16 ounces of water and a cup of food in a burst.

The second one, below, is directly off of Gisele’s page for Les Paul.   You can read his priors there, there’s a lot of healing to do but a lifetime to do it.

Saving Shelter Dogs with OK Go – White Knuckles

I stumbled across a really inventive video the other day.  Saving the link I thought I’d share it.  The group OK Go is out of Chicago and do rock music.  Not exactly my usual format, but hey why not?   The videos they do are typically much more creative than the norm.  They were the ones who did a massive Rube Goldberg machine in one, another uses the medium of Toast to illustrate autumn.

Yes, Toast.  As in Lightly Browned Bread.

Clearly these folks have some serious creativity going on!

You can find some more of their music and their videos on the OK Go home page.  I’ll make a point to hop on there and have a look later.

Anything that helps the shelter dogs find a new home, I am for.  The group say that they are using mostly shelter dogs in the video and they have a link where you can buy a video donating to the cause.  I’m not sure what you’re getting specifically, but you can hop to the link and see what I mean. 

The link I found is the public one on You Tube, so you can watch it freely.  I did this morning and I had a big dopey smile on my face.  The dogs leaping at you from a wall of translucent waste paper bins are infectious and some of the antics that I saw on there were quite creative.

It is safe for work, and not only safe for children but I suggest you gather the kids for this one.

Adopt a pet for the holidays – Really Cute Video

Saving Lettie from the no kill shelter was one of the best things I ever did.   So when I saw this video today, I was laughing like a fool and had to share it.  

It comes from Best Friends Animal Rescue out in Utah.  These are the folks had a TV show on a while back that may return that shows how they’re doing The Good Work by rescuing dogs from all over the country that are on “death row” because they were violent or mistreated.   They are also the ones who took in the pit bulls from that disgusting Michael Vick’s fighting house of horror Bad Newz Kennel.  The dogs didn’t all survive and now that low life is a Philadelphia Eagle, showing just how money talks and the animals lose out. 

If you want my opinion, and since you are here you do, Michael Vick should be sentenced to cleaning out kennels for the rest of his life.  Karma’s a bitch ain’t it?

I won’t put those pictures up, they’re too shocking.  Needless to say, there are many dogs and cats that will be bought from pet stores, which means they most likely came from a puppy mill.  Better to not support that business and give a pet a second chance.

One other link to share.  If you really are thinking that you need a new friend for the holidays, hit up Petfinders.  I did and found Lettie out in North Dauphin, PA at Angel Pet Rescue.  I was bored at work and let me tell you once you get hooked reading the stories of these Dogs, Cats, Birds and even Horses, you may end up like I did – with a new friend.  She saved my life more than once and if she’d tolerate another dog I’d adopt one.  For now, we’re a one dog, one parrot home.

Enjoy the video and adopt if you’re going to get a pet.  Make a day of it and take your loved one to meet the deserving dogs, cats and other animals at the rescue center.  You’ll be happy you did.

Oh and a style note.  I know that the video blew out my formatting.  I was going to resize it but I decided to leave it as it is.  Its so CUUUUUUUUUUTE!  🙂

Lettie Sleeping In The Sun

Lettie the SuperDog (TM) doing what she does best.  When we lived in Philadelphia, she’d find a square of sunlight and plop down no matter the temperature outside.   I swear she’s solar powered.
I liked this pic, decided to share a picture of my constant companion.   She’s been with me for almost 8 of her 9 years and we haven’t looked back.  In fact she’s better in the car than most people I know!
Amazing when I think that she was a shelter dog who was abandoned at 6 months, stayed there for a year before I found her and took her into my life.  Border Collies and Mc Nab Dogs are incredibly intelligent, require a “Soft Hand” and are one of the most frequently abandoned dog breeds as a result.  People don’t have a clue what it means to raise an intelligent dog.   I guess I lucked out.   We had some stumbles along the way but I wouldn’t trade her for the world.