My Time with Ryder

There’s a new dog in my life and his name is Ryder. Although he is not a foster, he is the focus of my free time and volunteering, and I love him.
Ryder 5

Since we foster failed last time and Sarge became a permanent member of our family, our fostering days are over for now. But I still wanted to help dogs in need. I have also wanted to find an organization here in Maine that doesn’t import more dogs into the state, but that helps dogs who need homes here. Luckily, I came across Buddy Up Animal Society whose mission is to help last chance dogs in shelters right here in the state. I contacted them and then met Ryder.

Ryder, like so many other ‘rescue’ dogs, has had a rough beginning to his life. I will spare you the details, but he has had some issues with other dogs, which has made a foster arrangement difficult. He has been in shelters/rescue for over two years. Right now, he is in boarding at a local daycare facility. He loves people so much that being kept in a kennel for most of the day is not ideal for him.
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Because of his lack of a consistent schedule and owner, Ryder really needed a brush up on some of his manners. That is where I came in. He and I enrolled in a six week obedience class geared towards bully breeds, called “Good Bully.” Every Friday night I picked up the handsome boy and we drove down to Finish Forward Dogs, a training studio that is extremely generous in helping train rescue dogs.
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The first night was a little bumpy. He was figuring me out and I was trying to understand him. I could see he had major potential and an eagerness to please, he just has had no rules and boundaries to live by. It was clear that he craves attention from people…and chicken treats! As the weeks went by Ryder’s personality and intelligence shined. He already had a solid sit, but we worked on down, down stays, leave it, place, and leash manners. I really looked forward to our time together each week. It felt like a partnership, and we were progressing together. He was learning manners, and I was learning how to teach manners, both with an end goal of finding him a forever family.Ryder class 5

By the end of the six weeks we had really bonded. I could tell he was happy to see me when I picked him up from boarding. Over the weeks I learned that he could get a little worked up in the car when he’s been in the kennel all day, so bully sticks became a weekly treat for the ride. He really loves food, treats and toys and I was happy to find any excuse to give him some!

To ‘graduate’ from the class Ryder had to pass several tests that included:
Leash Walking– Check, he followed me like a pro!
ryder class 1
15 foot Recall– Check, that boy will follow his people anywhere!
ryder class 4
Sit with no food– Check, he is a pro at this!
ryder class 3
Down with no food– Check, we worked hard on this one!
Stay while another dog walks by– Check, again, as long as you are in sight, he will do whatever you want!

He passed with flying colors and REALLY enjoyed picking out his stuffie at the end! Watch the video, it’s super cute!
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Ryder is really a wonderful dog. He charms everyone he meets, and the staff at the daycare and the trainers at Finish Forward have only great things to say about him. He’s snuggly and affectionate and so very handsome! Although in his past he’s had some issues with other dogs, he’s been improving and I don’t think he absolutely has to be the only dog in a household. Just look at him hanging out with other pups before class:
ryder class 6

It is all about finding the right home with the right dogs that will be the right fit for him. But, boy does he deserve it. He is such a love and has been homeless for way too long. He has so many less ‘issues’ than several of my previous fosters (ahem, Anna) so I can’t figure out why he is still without a family.

He and I are scheduled to take the next installment of the bully manners class, “Better Bully” this month. He is such a good boy and this next class will surely help him improve even more. After another six weeks of training I can only imagine how prepared and ready he will be to find his forever home!

Here is Ryder’s petfinder profile. If you know of anyone looking for an amazing dog to add to their family, please share Mr. Ryder. For more information, contact Buddy Up at info@buddyupanimalsociety.org.

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A Letter to Sarge in His New Home

I got the idea of writing a letter to my fosters once they were adopted after reading several other blogs. I thought it would be a good thing to try, and turns out I was right. I’ve written one for Laynie and one for Anna and it has been a great way for me to get closure. It usually takes me several weeks to process our time together and put it into words, but I really enjoy ‘telling them’ how much I love them and wishing them luck in their forever homes. Even though Sarge was adopted by us, I felt like I needed to continue the tradition and officially put his foster days behind us.

Dear Sargent,

Your stay with us began with a large amount of doubt. I have a very hard time making decisions, and bringing you into the house as a foster was no different. I didn’t even know you needed a home until I found you while trying to learn more about a different dog we were going to foster. But, I fell in love with your big white face and floppy/straight ears right away, and so did Daddy. Your age got me, big boy. How could I let a 12 year old dog stay in a shelter? But, the other dog needed our help too. Well, it was meant to be because as we were making our final decision, the other dog was adopted. Your fate was sealed, and you became our third foster.

I’m sure you were confused. After living with a family for at least 6 of your 12+ years, you were in a shelter and then going home with strangers. What brought you to the shelter in the first place? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that your misfortune was one of the best things that ever happened to us. You were the first dog that we got to pull directly out of the shelter and give you a well deserved freedom ride. You were so wiggly I couldn’t even get a good photo of you that first night. Your tail never stopped wagging.
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Our adjustment period was a little rough, and after only 2 days we were nervous you wouldn’t even be ok with us as a foster. You just wouldn’t stop dominating/humping Nola. I don’t blame you, you were probably allowed to do that in your other home since you were still ‘intact’, and being neutered this late in the game is tough. But, no matter what we did to stop you, you didn’t seem to understand that Nola didn’t like it. You also hated your crate, you wouldn’t sleep in it and you cried when we left you in it. We weren’t sure how we were going to leave you and Nola at home together without a crate, and we weren’t sure how we were going to make bed time work for the four of us. But we knew you were worth it, so we tried to find a solution.
DSC_0537Turns out you just needed time. It took you several weeks to adjust, but when your hormones calmed down, and once we bought your ottoman, your wonderful personality really started to show. We discovered that you loved to walk with us, love to play, cuddle, ride in the car…actually we found out that you love doing just about anything as long as you’re with us. As the weeks passed, we started to think seriously about what we would do if no one wanted to adopt you. We had one person ask about you right away, but that was about it. It was sad for me to think about how the number of years you’ve lived overshadowed your wonderful personality. Why were people scared of losing you before they even met you?
DSC_0574And then we realized that we knew from the day we picked you up that you would spend the rest of your days with us. We ‘tried’ to find you a forever home, but really your forever was right here. You just fit, mister. You’re so easy going and can keep up with Nola without annoying her too much. She has been more of herself around you than she has with any of our other fosters, and as much as we loved them, we needed to find a pup that would mesh with her. You were it Buddy, we found our second forever dog.
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You were our ‘first’ for so many things: our first male dog, the first dog we rescued directly from a shelter, our first elderbull, the first foster that didn’t need any training (other than to stop humping) and the most important first, our first foster failure. We know you will bring tons of joy to our lives as you live out your golden years. We can only hope that we can do the same for you. We promise to give you everything you need, want, and deserve, and all we ask of you is to be you. YOU are the pup we fell in love with in that shelter photo, and you are who we will love for as long as we possibly can. Welcome to the family Bubba Boy, you are home.
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Sargent is Adopted!

In case you missed yesterday’s post or don’t follow M&M&NK on Facebook, Sargent was officially adopted by the Mr. and I this weekend on his 14th Birthday.DSC_0047Pretty much since we got him in April EVERYONE asked, “Are you going to keep him?” I’m pretty used to this, especially since I started the blog. I try to write about everything that happens with our fosters, but it’s mostly slanted toward the positive aspects. People never really see the struggles and the behavior issues that we deal with. With Laynie, I knew she would get adopted, so answering the question of keeping her was easy, no. With Anna, she had SO many issues I wasn’t sure she was going to be adopted any time soon, but I knew that she was NOT a good fit for us long term. Thankfully her perfect family found her. And then there was Sarge. IMG_3900

The questions began the instant we pulled him from the shelter, I think mostly due to his age. And, I couldn’t say that he would definitely get adopted. He was by far the most well behaved and easiest foster we’ve had, but his age was a tough thing for people to get over. We had an applicant almost immediately after we got him, but her financial situation changed right after she applied and just didn’t think adopting him would be the responsible thing to do.

As time went on, and there was no interest in him, the Mr. and I started seriously discussing the possibility of Sarge being a ‘long term foster.’ Then, a few things came up that made us think this was the right time. First, when I reached out to BURN about the possibility of adding Sarge to our family, my contact told me she was getting ready to send out a marketing blast about the available dogs so I should try to let her know sooner rather than later. Then, when I went back into all his paperwork from the NHSPCA and found that his birthday was July 20, it made me think we should make that day one big celebration and make his adoption official then. DSC_0374I’ve known for a couple weeks now that this was the plan. Some of you probably were clued in when I stopped posting about why he should be adopted. I also stopped putting his adoption information at the bottom of my posts. I wanted to wait to announce it after it was official, but it was really hard to keep a secret!

Now I’ve crossed off three items from my rescue bucket list with one dog! He’s a very special guy and we’re happy that he is a member of our family. I worry a little about Nola because he’s not the ‘ideal’ second dog for her. We always said that we wouldn’t add another dog that she wasn’t in love with. But, she’s not in love with him the way she was with Zeus, or with her BFF Payson. He’s big, pushy, and more dominant than she is and sometimes she just wants to be away from him. He means well, and tries to snuggle with her, but she doesn’t want anything to do with him. I hope that with some management on our end, and lots of special Nola time, she will be ok with him long term. IMG_3937Having two permanent dogs also means the end of fostering for a while. I have loved each dog we’ve fostered, but I am happy to take some time off. The only time the Mr. and I seriously fight is when we have a foster in the house. It’s stressful and a lot of work, and extremely rewarding all in one. I don’t regret anything, and the fact that now Laynie’s mom is fostering (she has TWO fosters, plus Laynie and her sister Daisy!), it feels a bit like a ‘pay it forward’ situation. I still plan to be involved with BURN, and possibly do some foster holds and transports. I can’t imagine my life not being involved with dog rescue in some way. IMG_4204So, there you have it, the full explanation of Sarge’s adoption. We love him tons and are so happy to give him a place to live out his golden years. We hope we still have a good amount of time with him, but should that not be the case, we are happy that he will know nothing but love in his final days.
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A Day of Celebration

Saturday we celebrated Sarge’s 14th Birthday. Because we have no children, dogs in our house get full blown birthday parties. Sarge was no exception. Nola has had two so far, so I’ve learned some ways to make the day special for the four legged birthday boy.DSC_0045First, we started off the day with a walk on the beach. It’s been so hot and humid here lately that the dogs haven’t had much time outdoors. Sarge seemed to enjoy the release of energy running in the sand and wading in the water. When we got home, the dogs had breakfast and then enjoyed some of the Mr.’s breakfast ham.DSC_0971 DSC_0972It was still really hot on Saturday, so Sarge and Nola napped most of the afternoon. I officially gave him his cupcake stuffie (I gave it to him for a few minutes when we did our pre-birthday photoshoot) and he chomped on it and then fell asleep.DSC_0029 DSC_0048Dinnertime marked the real celebration. I decorated the table and laid out Sarge’s presents. DSC_0988 DSC_0994(You’ll notice two of each present. That’s because with two dogs in the house, I felt like I couldn’t get Sarge something and not get Nola something too, except collars…Nola has a million of those and Sarge only has one so it was time for another!)

He got a three foot bully stick (bullies are his fave!)…DSC_0057the aforementioned cupcake stuffie….DSC_0044and a new collar!DSC_0016 DSC_0022The bully stick was by far his favorite thing. Instead of starting at one end, he decided to start chewing right in the middle. It was so cute seeing him try to walk through the door with it! He eventually gnawed all the way through and then had two! DSC_0060 DSC_0080He, and Nola, also got Frosty Paws and the Mr. and I enjoyed some cake.DSC_0068 DSC_0064Sarge was too busy chewing his bully and didn’t want to come outside to blow out the candles, so we brought the cake to him.DSC_0071(Notice the photo-bomb by Nola in the pic above.)

DSC_0076All in all it was a great day. The Mr. and I just wanted to make double, triple sure that Sarge knew this was a special day and that we love him very much. And so, the best way to accomplish that was with the one present that I didn’t lay out on the table:sargecontractSarge’s adoption contract! July 20 will now be his Gotcha Day and his Birthday! We are all very happy to add Sarge as the 4th member of the family. It was a great day of celebration for everyone!DSC_0063Well, except Nola, who didn’t seem impressed by any of it (except the parts that involved food) and spent most of the time like this:DSC_0028More on the adoption tomorrow!

Old Dogs Can Be Disc Dogs Too!

One thing we discovered very quickly about Sarge is that he certainly does not have the energy level you would think a 14 year old dog should have. We started by only taking him for short walks around the block but when he was easily keeping up with Nola we decided to try walking them together. On weekends Nola usually gets at least an hour of off leash running time, either at the beach, the Eastern Trail, the disc golf course, or Fuller Farm. We weren’t sure Sarge could take that much, but we tried anyway figuring he would at least trot along with us while Nola ran her heart out.
IMG_4131What we discovered when we went to the disc golf course was that Sarge likes to chase discs too! He does this adorable run where he throws up both front paws and sorta hops. It’s like he gets a burst of puppy energy!
IMG_4124 IMG_4129He does not have a soft mouth like Nola, so we made sure to use a disc we didn’t care if he chomped on.
IMG_4125Although he can’t run with the speed or chase the disc the distance that Nola can, he had so much fun and looked so happy to be out playing. This guy is seriously amazing. I have looked over his paperwork multiple times since we picked him up from the shelter to make sure he was actually 14. Judging only on his disc chasing, I would say he wasn’t a day over age 6!
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The ABCs of Sarge

I have declared this the Week of Sarge in celebration of his 14th Birthday on Saturday. Getting to age 14 is a pretty big accomplishment for a dog his size. Every post this week will be about the big boy, so you can all get to know him a little better. To start, here is an alphabet full of things that make Sarge the big love he is.

Age is just a number with this guy. He is young at heart and has the energy of a dog half his age!
Big ol’ head means there’s more of him to love.
Car rides are his fave!
Drooly…I think more water gets on the floor than in his mouth.
Ears are one of his cutest features. One up, one down, they are adorable.
DSC_0906Farty McFarty Pants is a fitting nickname. Although he doesn’t act like an old man, he sure farts like one!
Good boy. He is so obedient, it makes me believe he must had had a decent life before us.
Hump-y. He doesn’t understand that other dogs don’t like to be sniffed like that. Maybe it’s due to the fact that he got neutered at age 13.
Impossible not to smile when you see just how cute he is in person.
Joker. Not only is he silly, but the Mr. thinks he looks like the Joker because of his smile,  white face and black eye-liner. I think he looks more like a member of Kiss. 🙂
IMG_4052King of the couch. The chaise has officially become his spot.
Lap dog. Sarge loves to be near his people.
Male. It’s an obvious thing about him, but he is the first boy dog we’ve ever had in the house. And boy, does he pee on everything.
Not picky. This guy will eat anything.
Out going. I have never met a dog that was more friendly around strangers.
Poop eater. Yeah, it’s gross.
Quiet. I have never heard him bark. The most noise he makes is when he snores.
Really easy-going. He’ll go anywhere and is great in new situations, in crowds, and with loud noises.
Sleepy boy. His other favorite thing to do is nap, especially on our bed.
IMG_4084Tail wagging, always.
Un-aware of his body mass. He is a bull in a china shop for sure.
Very healthy. For age 14, he has no major health concerns.
Wonderful, no other explanation necessary on this one.
X-cellent leash walker. He is a joy to take out for walks because he just happily trots next to you.
Youthful. Did I mention he is in great shape for his age? He keeps right up with Nola on our walks!
I could list a Zillion more reasons to love and adopt this guy!
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Look What the Cat Dragged In!

It’s been a long time since my last post. There’s really no one reason, just a million little ones. I recently heard somewhere (and by somewhere, I mean on one of those addicting “Real Housewives” shows on Bravo), “The longer you are away from something, the easier it gets to live without it.” I don’t want to live without the blog, because I love it, it’s just so easy to find other things to do with my free time. This also means that I have been very bad at my blog reading. I apologize for any of you who think I have been snubbing you. It’s not that at all! I miss reading all ‘my’ blogs as much as I do writing this one! But, alas, I am back and have a TON of things to write about (and a TON to catch up on from all of you!).

I’ll try to get you up to speed quickly and then get back on track with regular postings.

Things with Sarge are going well. The “Ottoman Empire” has fallen, and he is officially sleeping in our bed. After his five day streak when we first introduced the ottoman, he started to try to climb on the bed and we spent all night trying to prevent him from climbing up. We could have been more strict, I guess, but honestly, for me the more dogs in the bed the better. Nola protested at first, and would jump down every time Sarge came near her on the bed, but now she settles on one side of me and stay as long as he is not touching her. Recently, she has even allowed his paw to ever so slightly touch her leg.
snuggleWe haven’t received any applications or even inquiries about Sarge. It’s so frustrating because I know the only reason that he is being overlooked is his age. He is such an easy and wonderful dog, I wish I could get people to look past the number on his profile. He did great at the book signing with Ken Foster, and although we didn’t get any applications for him, BURN contacted me and said someone made a donation to the rescue in his name after meeting him.
sarge curled upNola is taking an advanced Noseworks class, which introduces her to searching for a specific odor. I am excited to give her some alone time doing something she loves! The class also allows me to work with her on some mat training. It is my goal this summer to teach her that when her purple (of course!) mat is out, it means she needs to lay down and chill on it. At class she is usually too interested in the other dogs taking their turns and will not sit or lay down. Now, she is doing much better and now settles in quickly when it is not her turn. I hope to be able to translate this to other places where I need her to just ‘chill.’
nola odor classSo that’s pretty much it. The Mr. and I have been doing lots of traveling, not together unfortunately, so there hasn’t been a whole lot going on other than the normal schedule of working, dog walking and everyday life. It’s also been unusually hot and humid for June in Maine, so we’ve had to spend a lot of time inside in the air conditioning.
couch insideI have a few days off coming up because of the 4th of July holiday, so I promise to be better at posting. Hope you all have a wonderful Independence Day!

The Definition of Food Motivated

If you look up “food motivated dog” in the dictionary on Google, the first thing you should see is a picture of Sarge. He is epitomizes the phrase “will work for food.”DSC_0562The phrase I would use to describe Sarge is that the way to his heart is through his stomach. He is the happiest when he is eating or chewing something.
DSC_0490Half of the pictures I have taken of him have a Kong in them.
DSC_0381DSC_0574Whether it’s a treat dispensing toy, just plain old cheese, or a scoop of peanut butter this dog will do ANYTHING for a morsel.
DSC_0442You know what Sarge would do even with no food? LOVE YOU. If you are interested in adopting this amazing elderbull, please fill out an application with BURN.

Sarge and the Ottoman Empire

The biggest problem most problematic quirk that we have found with Sargent is he needs to sleep with someone at all times. Not in the same room, but actually physically next to you. We originally tried setting up the crate at the end of our bed, so he could still be with us and see us while he is sleeping. This is the set up we’ve used for all of our past fosters because we allow Nola to sleep in our bed with us and want her to have her own space. But, after hours of crying and whining we felt bad and gave up.
DSC_0531Our temporary solution was to have the Mr. sleep with him downstairs in the finished basement on the couch. But, due to a lot of ‘what else can we do?’ and ‘I have to get up early, let’s just do what works’ our temporary solution turned into two weeks of all of us sleeping separately. When this past weekend rolled around and the Mr. didn’t have to work at all, we decided now was the time for a better fix for the sleeping arrangements.

Our first plan was to try a tie down. We would buy Sarge a big comfy bed, put it right next to our bed, but hook him up to a tie down so he couldn’t go anywhere. Obviously we would do some training with him during the day, putting him there for short periods of time, and give him yummy treats like bully sticks and kongs while he is on his bed. But, after we bought all the supplies at Home Depot we got cold feet. Sarge is just so old, we want to make him happy and can’t stand hearing him in distress.

So we brainstormed some more. We knew that Sarge likes to be near us, and he likes to be on furniture, so what could we do to accomplish these two things? Then it came to me: an ottoman. We should try and put a big ottoman right next to the bed. He would be up off the floor and be close enough to us that it would ALMOST be like sleeping in the actual bed. We went to ‘The Pit’ (the place where they sell all the mismatched furniture at a discount) at Bob’s Discount Furniture and picked up a big brown leather ottoman for $90. It’s a bit expensive, especially with their policy of no returns, if it doesn’t work, but we figured it would cost us at least that much for another dog bed anyway. DSC_0527I decided on one that has storage underneath for blankets and pillows. (Hey, if we have to add another piece of furniture to our tiny bedroom at least make it functional, right?)
DSC_0548We brought it home and set it up. We put his ‘baby’ (the penguin we gave to him the first night with us, that he sleeps with), a pillow and blanket on it to make it extra comfy. We asked him to jump up and gave him cookies while he was on it.
DSC_0544DSC_0539During the afternoon I folded laundry on the bed while he snoozed on his ottoman. We gave him lots of praise and lots of cookies when he was laying there and told him ‘no’ when he would try to go on the bed.
DSC_0540He seemed to be getting it, but the real test was later that night. He climbed right up when we were all ready for bed (which was at 8pm just in case it took a while for him to settle). We kept the light on and watched TV for a bit while he settled in. A couple hours later he was snoozing away and we shut off the lights. He did really well! He got up a few times, and tried to walk around to my side and get up, but we said ‘no’ and he went back to his ottoman. It’s been 4 more nights since that first night and he’s slept all the way through!
DSC_0537We’re still keeping our fingers crossed, but it seems as though Sarge has conquered the Ottoman Empire and we all get to sleep as a family again!