The Frog is in the Shoe, The Dog Roamed Last Night – Picture

When we got Rack, we decided he’d have a crate to sleep in.  Off the Couch, Off the Bed, Off the Furniture.

Unless invited.

Rack is a rescue dog.  We got him April 21, 2013 from the Dog Liberator.  While his story before he got to Giselle was frightening, she had him long enough that we all knew he’d start to open up and grow into a fascinating character.   He was only there for 11 days, so there was only so much that Giselle could have known about his personality.  

Since he was shut down, it was easier to set some hard and fast boundaries.   The first night or three he slept in the crate in the living room with the crate door closed.

That stopped when he started getting lonely and whined overnight.  My having a rough sleep even through the earplugs meant I had to figure something out.

The crate went into the master bedroom, sitting on top of a blanket to muffle some of the sounds from tossing and turning.

His, not mine.

The crate door would be kept closed and he’d be able to see me sleep on the bed.

When he started to come out of the crate willingly, I decided that I’d try to have him sleep with the door closed on the bedroom and the crate door would be left open.  The room would be blocked off so he had about 1/3 of the room to roam in.

Rack liked that, and that was how we slept for the next two months.

He’s still exploring the house during the day, but he tends to retreat to the crate when something scary happens like the trash trucks stopping by twice a week.  Noises are a trigger for him to go hide, which is common for many puppies and dogs who have been through the trauma of being turned in to a shelter at an early age.

Last night that changed.   I forgot to close the bedroom door.

Blissfully ignorant, I slept the night.   So did Rack.  Sure, he had wandered through the house but didn’t find anything of ours that he needed to chew on.  With cables to the electronics somewhat badly hidden under furniture, and boxes for recycling in the kitchen, he had plenty of opportunity for mischief.

But nothing happened.   I woke up to an open door and realized he had the chance to be out and about, but the only thing I found torn up was his toy that he has been disemboweling when he needed to play.

Other than being greeted by bits of polyester fluff, nothing happened.

He does take the opportunity to “find things” from time to time, and we do have to keep an ear open to make sure that he doesn’t go up onto the bed, but for the most part, he’s very close to being ready.  There are plenty of things around the house that probably should be picked up, thrown away, or put to better use, but for the most part, he ignores them.

Another behavior to watch for in this case is “Where The Dog Sleeps”.

In Rack’s case, it is basically anywhere and everywhere.   Dogs will not relieve themselves where they sleep.  If they sleep everywhere, you will have less of a chance of an errant marking of territory.  Territory markings and little piles are the other main problem you can have with an inexperienced dog on their first night out on the house.  I have found Rack sleeping next to the back door where he nodded off while watching the back yard.   He’s curled up against the front door in the living room, under the dining room table, in the kitchen…

You get the picture.

A dog that has one place and one only to nap in will be more likely to wander to the most distant part of the house and “Use The Tree”, even if housebroken.

In our case, we got off lucky.  I’m not planning on leaving that bedroom door open tonight.   I’m not
completely confident that I won’t wake up to something of mine shredded, even though he has plenty of toys.  On the other hand his pet frog toy ended up placed very nicely inside of my shoe this morning as an offering.

We’re not there yet, but I think I can see the exit ramp down the road a piece.  Now, if I could just get him to stop waking me up at 5:15AM every morning…

How Rack Found His Lost Voice

For an 8 month old dog to be silent, there has to be a reason.

In the case of Rack, the Ridiculously Photogenic McNab Dog, it was his history.

Rack was an owner surrender at around 6 months.  He was bounced around between some shelters that seemed more like concentration camps by description.

He then wound up at The Dog Liberator, an excellent rescue specializing in Herding Breeds in Deltona, Florida where Giselle began to repair the damage to his psyche.

That was where I came in.

For two weeks there was not a single sound out of this dog.  Not even that weird grunting that some dogs do when sleeping was heard.

After being told by some breeders of McNabs out in California, that no this isn’t normal, but not to worry he’ll start to relax, he did exactly that.

Walking Rack, we noticed that he liked other dogs.  By that, I mean REALLY likes other dogs.  He sees them and started to wag his tail, and then start to dance, then finally made a sound.   A plaintive little whine with his mouth open in a full yawn.

Silent no more.

This got more and more intense as the third week went on.   He met The Girls, two Samoyeds around the block who have the reputation of being two of the most playful and bouncy dogs you could meet. 

Men, cover yourself, the girls are here… OOF!

Rack met other dogs and unless they were acting grumpy toward him, he would always become very excited.   Not every dog liked a bouncy black and white puppy bounding towards them, so I remembered that I really do have control over this and started watching closely what the other dog’s owner did in response. 

For the most part, walks were exciting places where other dogs were until we hit the chaos and noise of Wilton Drive.   He’d cringe as trucks would pass, try extreme avoidance tactics over noisy grates, and walking past the bars meant my arm was stretched out to the limit as he tried to avoid the front doors and any patrons inside.

We’re avoiding the bars directly, people aren’t his favorite, and frankly I don’t care about your dog you left behind in Ohio or Colorado, bring them next time.

The whole while, my house was in uproar.   We had a massive line of thunderstorms come through and ruin the water heater.  The repairs took two solid days of drilling and workers in the house.

Rack was not amused, he made himself scarce by running into the back bedroom and hiding in his crate, or just curling into a DogBall (TM) between the coffee table and the couch.   I guess the little guy just wanted a den.

Finally the chaos was too much.

Eric the plumber wanted to talk to us after coming and going a couple times.  He needed to run out to the big box stores just a mile away for supply and approached the front door. 

A soft knock and… BARKBARKBARKBARK!

Yes, four strong barks from a voice stilled by abandonment and trauma. 

Our little boy is healing!

Just four.  It wasn’t excessive, someone had stepped inside HIS house and he was warning his dads that this was happening.

The look on our faces as well as Rack’s was shock and a little confusion.   Even he didn’t know he could do that. 

Sheepishly, the shepherd dog looked at us for approval as we both were laughing.  I guess it’s OK to use my voice.

This repeated itself about 4 hours later when Eric stuck his head in the door after a quiet tapping on the door.  BarkBarkBarkBarkWOOWOOWOOWOO!

OK, boy, I get it!  You can talk now!

Sure, it will be a training issue, but our boy is relaxing.  He’s home.  His home, and home is a good thing.

Signs Your Rescue Dog Is Coming Alive – Picture and Video

The other day my dog, Rack, was whining.

We have only had him for 2 1/2 weeks at this point, and that was the first sound we heard come from his mouth.

It wasn’t a pain whine, we all know that blood curdling scream you hear from a dog when they’re hurt.   This was a plaintive high pitched squeak.

My little guy was bored.  Bored is a good thing.

When The Dog Liberator had rescued him, I had a rather scary story about his history.  Basically we had a very smart dog that was an owner surrender who went through some very bad shelters. 

A Shut Down dog resulted.   That’s more likely in intelligent breeds like my Mc Nab, and others like the Border Collie, Aussie Shepards, Poodles and so on.   Less intelligent breeds would go with the flow and bark away.

As time went on in those first few days, we noticed that Rack really enjoyed his walks.  He was still afraid of loud noises, but he handled them better each day.   The walks would be accompanied by a similar sound coming from him when he would see another dog, what we called a Whine of Joy.  He would get so excited that he would lapse into a dancing and bouncing performance complete with little open mouthed sounds.

We realized that he loved his walks and other dogs.  That’s a big plus because recovering a shut down dog without a motivator is decidedly difficult.   Making the walks as long as we could manage was the best thing we could do for the little guy.  These days the walks stretch very close to 2 miles each.

I’ll be getting some new sneakers as a result.

That has outside taken care of, but what about indoors?

The usual tricks of bouncing a ball or offering food just didn’t work yet.   I tried the tennis ball trick where you slice one open and put a cookie inside.  As long as he saw the cookie he would go for it but not work for it if it disappeared inside the hollow ball.

The toys did eventually wear him down.  An old vinyl ball that squeaks when you squeeze it was his first toy that he took to.  This was followed by a beat up teddy bear that he managed to chew the nose off in short order.

Playtime is very important.  When you have a dog that refuses to play, it’s an abnormal situation.  They have to relax to their environment.  In our case, getting to tearing the teddy bear apart only took 15 days.

As for that teddy bear, its done it’s duty before.  There’s a black stitching down its back where my old dog Lettie had shredded it once before.  It will get shredded again.   Soft toys are best for that sort of thing since you’ll notice very fast when you find little clouds of stuffing all over your living room.

After all, a destroyed toy means a happy dog, and a happy dog is what we’re after.

The proof is in the video below – complete with The Minute Waltz!

Training the Dog to Stay Out Of The Trash

When I hear myself tell this story, I wonder whether it is Dog Training or Humor.

I think it really is a little bit of both and more.

We just got Rack, our little Mc Nab Dog rescue home.  Mind you, every dog has inborn curiosity.  Puppies are usually very curious.  They have to be taught what the rules are.

This being taught is usually something that Momma Dog will do, and if you are not in a puppy mill situation, the puppy should never go to their new home before 8 weeks.   Some say more, some say less.  Be conservative.  Momma Dog will teach the puppy how to play.   If those razor sharp teeth nip too hard, puppy will get taught just how that can feel.   Nippy puppies would most likely be the ones that didn’t get taught by Momma.

Momma knows best.

So if you’re lucky, you will find yourself with a warm bundle of fur that will be a companion for the rest of their life, knowing that you don’t pull on the next dog’s tail or bite its ear. 

After all, nobody likes their tail getting bit, do they?

Now, the natural state of Canis Familiaris is to be a companion.  The Dog is not a Wolf, they do badly if they’re out in the wild left to fend for themselves.  They will find food where they can and the best you can hope for is to be found by someone and taken in.  Given a job, a dog is most happy, but they do need to learn how to behave in a house.

House broken, don’t chew on the furniture, paws off the counters.  These are all things we have to teach our Best Friends.

When I got my little guy, Rack, he had been through a lot.  A shelter that sounded more like a Concentration Camp, followed by a better one, and then an excellent shelter for Herding Dog breeds at The Dog Liberator

Being a fearful and shy dog, he didn’t have much of a chance to be taught indoor manners.  Intelligent dogs suffer terribly by being in a shelter, they collapse under the stress.  That was how I got Rack.  He needs a steady and gentle hand for training for The Next Level.

The first night was exciting enough, we placed him in his crate and allowed him to rest.   It was a lot to take in when you’re only 7 months old.

The next day was exciting.  He came out of his crate, we got to see the other dogs, we walked around the neighborhood learning the lay of the land.   We realized that he’s pretty much housebroken, which is a major benefit of having a Rescued dog.   They are vetted for that sort of thing and the most important things like hygene are dealt with.

As he relaxed, he began to show his intelligence and curiosity.  

Rack sniffed Oscar the Parrot’s cage.  Oscar is named well, being Green and Crotchety, he lunged at the curious puppy and banged his beak on the side of the cage.   Rack backed off realizing this bird is not looking to be friendly.

Then he went for an exploring run.

We heard the thump of the lid on the kitchen trash.  Looking at each other we realized that we had to make sure that he didn’t tear the place apart.

Yes, you guessed it, there’s that stainless steel dog bowl perched on top of the trash as a result.

Five minutes later, Rack went back.

Momma Dog is not here, Daddy Bill is.  School is in.

We didn’t hear the lid of the trash can thump.  What we heard was the CRASH! of that metal bowl as it hit the hard tile floor in the kitchen.   Immediately we heard Rack’s toes try to make a purchase on that floor.  He came with his paws overly trimmed, toenails didn’t reach the floor quite yet, but we heard them that time…

I saw a black and white streak come running around the corner, past the crate.   He was still scrabbling to get a purchase.  I smiled thinking that outdoors, he’s going to be a fast little boy.

I also realized he wouldn’t be in the trash again.

Shooting past the crate, his momentum carried him across the living room, around the coffee table, and past my legs.   He ran from the one side of the living room into the crate.

Panting from the effort, the little dog got his lesson. 

And that was how we stopped the dog from sniffing the trash can. 

He’s been in the kitchen before but he carefully avoids that can.  It’s a useful barrier. 

I will say that instead of a steel bowl, from this point onwards, I have some “jingle bells” that I got last holiday season.  I’ll have a little festive warning instead of a crash.   I don’t think I’ll need it until the next time he is left unsupervised, but for now, I’ll use it as a crutch or much more gentle reminder.

Rack, The Ridiculously Photogenic Dog – Picture and Video

I’ve been trying to get Rack to be more involved.  When he’s indoors, he is very low impact still.  He’s still that Shy Dog that I was told about when we adopted him, but he’s opening up.

After a week plus of having him here, he still hasn’t explored the entire house.   There’s a spot in front of the couch in the living room between it and the coffee table that he’s adopted as a lair.  He’ll lay on the floor absorbing the cool almost all day.

When I stand up to do something, he’ll look up and I’ll get a wag or three out of his tail, sometimes a smile, and he’ll go back to being mellow and lazy.

Since he’s afraid of doors, yes, doors, I have to make an effort to get him outside.  Once he’s outside, he’s a different dog.   He’s engaged, although still very laid back.  It’s giving me an excuse to go out and weed the pots and planter boxes in the yard.   When I go from side to side on the yard, he’ll wait until I’m at a spot before he will wander over.

The other day I was weeding the Mango tree’s pot, and he plopped himself down, in the sun.  Absorbing power for a later charge-up, I’m assuming.  I looked over, got a tail wag and a smile and he went back to grooving on the Springtime sunshine.

A goodly sniff of what was on the air was in order when I realized that I had brought the camera out for a reason.   This dog was posing whether he realized it or not.  It’s not even the best pose, although it is the best picture.

Ask anyone who takes a lot of pictures and they’ll tell you about the one that got away.  It’s something that any photographer worth their nose spot on the back of the SLR will tell you they have in common with a fisherman.

The nice thing is that if you have the camera with you, you can capture some memories before they move out of the sun and plant themselves under the bougainvillea to be weeded around.

It’s only been a week and a half, but this shy little guy is blossoming.  Every day is something new.  Neighbors are noticing more confidence and he’s more engaging.   He has dogs in the neighborhood that he really enjoys meeting.  We approach them and he’s making little squeals of excitement and joy.   That says a lot for a dog who was cowering in the corner of an extremely noisy shelter just three weeks ago before he landed at The Dog Liberator in Deltona.

Thanks, Kevin for the Video!

Getting The Dog Ready For The Walk

Sometimes it takes two people to move a 36 pound puppy.

Luckily, since they’re puppies, they learn quickly.

Ok, let me rephrase this, since he’s a Mc Nab Puppy, he learns quickly.  That’s the benefit of having a Herding Breed, they are truly smart.

I’m now on Day 7 of Rack, the Shy Puppy.  Amazingly every single day I see improvements.

I was warned that he may panic in the car on the way back.  We were lucky there, he never made a peep.  It was a 250 mile ride back from Deltona with him in a crate and the two of us chattering the whole way. 

Over the weekend he handled a ride to the Vet in the back seat of the SUV with him sitting next to me wanting to be petted.  No crate at all, just sitting out in the open.

I was warned he wouldn’t be easy to walk.  He’s not easy to walk, but he’s coming around.  I was used to Lettie who would do just about anything I asked of her, but that was after being blessed with 12 years together. 

A week later, walks have become Rack’s favorite thing.   He’s a puppy, everything is his favorite thing or a source of panic.  He hates noises, so what do I do?   Take him out for a walk on Wilton Drive at Rush Hour.

There’s fear at the scary triangular trash cans.
There’s fear at the cigarette smoke.
There’s fear at the buses and trash trucks that roar past.
There was fear at a pair of women who dared to walk on the same sidewalk.

The point is if you have a fearful puppy, you have to expose him to small doses of the things that give him fear. 

It has only been a week.  The first walk he cowered in fear at my neighbor who got down on his knees to pet him.  Last night he rolled onto his side for petting next to that same neighbor’s feet.  Rack now will dance a puppy dance and make little happy noises when he sees other dogs all the while trying to wag his tail off.

In one week this shy little creature has learned the map of the Central Area of Wilton Manors and knows where to turn to get home when the walk should be ended.  

No, Dad, we don’t want to do a third block, Home is THIS WAY!

Sure, the first shelter was most likely a Concentration Camp, but he was lucky enough to end up rescued by The Dog Liberator after a second shelter.  Gisele started the process of rehab, and we’re continuing it, even if we have to climb into a crate once in a while.

We only had to do that once.  He doesn’t understand that it’s easier for him to get his harness on while standing but it’s better than going hands and knees inside a large plastic box.

Training a dog is all about understanding what the animal is capable of, what the breed can do, what you can do for it, and applying that knowledge.

We’re on the right track.  Happy squeaks and puppy prancing shows the progress. 

For a highly noise sensitive dog to be able to handle the 7AM disgorging of the Fort Lauderdale High School Buses as they parade up the drive to NE 6th Avenue’s light at the same time as E-16 and R-16 come blazing out of the fire hall with lights flashing and sirens doing a “MERRRP” at some idiot in a minivan who didn’t make way, shows progress.

One walk at a time. 

Sometimes the walk requires a rather undignified start, and sometimes it’s just “Up!  Walk!”. 

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.