Wordless Wednesday: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

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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.
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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!
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15 foot Recall– Check, that boy will follow his people anywhere!
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Sit with no food– Check, he is a pro at this!
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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:
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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.

Nola Muffin Monday: My Brother Sargent

When Mom and Dad first brought Sarge to my house (yes, MY house), he was just as much of a pain as every other dog they brought home. I don’t understand why every new dog has to come into my territory and try to tell me that it’s theirs now. It’s not. I am in charge and that is the way it will always be. Sarge tried to show me he wanted to stay by climbing on top of me. I’d have to bark and growl at him to tell him to stop, but he’d still do it! Sometimes, I think he’s just not very smart. Mom and Dad had to help tell him to leave me alone, and THEN he finally listened. He’s such a suck up! But since then, he’s slowly been growing on me. He’s pretty old, and way more slow than the other dogs that stayed here, so he doesn’t bother me as much. He does take my toys right out of my mouth sometimes, which REALLY annoys me, but then he gets in trouble by Mom and Dad (see, he’s not always a saint!). He also is kind of clumsy and knocks things over. Oh, and the WORST thing about him is his tail! I mean, it’s always wagging and he can’t tell how close he is to me so it hits me right in the face. Can you believe it? No respect.nola and sarge curled

The other day Mom and Dad left with him early in the morning and came back home without him. At first, I was pretty happy; I never get the house to myself! But then I saw that Mom and Dad were sad and worried so I knew something was different. When Sarge came back and he had that funny contraption on his head, I understood. Sarge didn’t feel well. IMG_4997

Although I can’t say I love sharing my toys with him, I do think he has been the least annoying sibling to share my house with. And, since he’s been here they haven’t brought home any other fosters. So, I figured I should be nice to him when he’s not feeling good so that they’ll see that I like him a little. nola and sarge snuggle 1

In the spirit of the how-lidays, or whatever it is that make Mom and Dad put up all the lights and put funny smelling boxes under the inside-the-house-tree, I have been trying to make Sarge feel better by snuggling with him. I have realized that he makes a pretty good pillow, and he seems to not mind when I get close to him. I DO appreciate that he doesn’t try to snuggle with me too much; I snuggle on my terms only.Nola Sarge's tail IMG_4992

It seems as though the old guy is staying around for a while, and although I will make sure he still knows I am in charge, I guess it’s ok with me.

The Dreaded ‘C’ Word

It’s probably the worst word you could hear starting with the letter ‘c’. Think about it, most ‘c’ words are happy ones: candy, cookies, cupcakes, cuddles, coffee, Christmas.

But this ‘c’ word is no good. People dread hearing it, and if you do, it changes your life.

 Cancer.

It affects millions of people, and millions of dogs. According to the National Canine Cancer Society, one out of every three dogs will be diagnosed with canine cancer, and of those, half will die from it. It’s pretty scary to think about. And, it’s even scarier now that Sarge is one of them.

Last week I noticed a growth on the inside of his back leg had gotten much larger. He is a pretty lumpy guy in general, he’s old and has lots of skin tags and bumps. But, this one just didn’t seem like the others. After a needle aspiration and a look under a miscroscope, the vet determined it was a mast cell tumor.

Mast cell tumors are the most common skin tumor found in dogs. Older dogs of mixed breeds (like Sarge) have a high susceptibility for the disease. There are three grades of the tumors, based on how aggressive they are. I declined to have Sarge’s tested right away, because our course of treatment would not be any different based on its grade. Bubba boy is too old to be put through chemo or radiation therapy. The tumor will be removed on Thursday, and after that we will find out what stage it is and whether it has spread to other parts of his body.

The Mr. and I are dreading this surgery so much that it hurts. Although he shows no sign of any pain, lameness in his leg, or anything but pure happiness, it is sad to look at him and think our time together could be coming to an end. We knew when we decided to keep Sarge that eventually something like this was probably going to happen. We promised him that we would give him everything he could possibly need or want to live a fantastic life until then. But really, I didn’t think it would happen this soon. It’s only been 8 months since we walked out of the shelter together and only 5 since he was officially our Bubba Boy. His high level of activity, happy spirit and eagerness to please just led me to believe he’d be around forever. I made Nola promise me that she’d be the first dog to live forever, so I was hoping that Sarge would be the second.

While I have a tendency to think the worst, and know that things will probably be fine, it’s still so heartbreaking. You never know how a dog will react to anesthesia, and what his recovery will be like. We will do our best to give him everything he needs to come out of it ok and in as little pain as possible. We just have to hope that his 14 year old body is strong enough to fight along with us.
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Snood Dude

One of the first purchases I made for Sarge when he joined the M&M&NK household permanently was a jacket and a Sirius Republic snood. As an older gentleman, I knew he would need some extra protection from the cold Maine weather. And, it was good timing because we had just gotten a little snowstorm! Nola loves her snood (well maybe not, but I certainly do!) and she’s even a model on the website! Not to be outdone by his supermodel younger sister, Sarge was just as handsome as can be modelling his new accessory. We chose the football pattern for him, because even wearing clothes picked out by his mommy, he has to represent the Mr.’s passion for the manly sport.

Check out this cuteness:

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Thanks again to Sirius Republic for keeping the handsomest elderbull warm this winter!

Vote for Sargent! Gray Muzzle Club

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month! It pleases me that there is a whole month to celebrate a fact that I already know for sure: Senior Dogs Rule. To celebrate our favorite Senior, Sargent, I have a whole bunch of posts planned to highlight just how awesome and rewarding it is to adopt an elderbull…or eldertriever, elderweiler, elderoxer, elderhuahua …some how those others just don’t work as well. No matter what breed, adopting a senior is amazing. PERIOD.

But today’s post is simply about doing something nice for Sargent. He LOVES bully sticks. I place an order with BestBullySticks.com at least once a month. So when I saw they were having a photo contest, just for senior dogs, I couldn’t resist entering Sarge to try and win him more of his favorite treat.

graymuzzleI entered him in the ‘Whitest Muzzle/Face’ category. Would you mind casting your vote for him? He would be the happiest boy ever if he got a prize pack!

You can vote for him here. dog_sarge11(I know it’s hard to vote just for him, all the pups are ah-door-a-bull!)

The contest ends Friday, 11/15 at 5 pm EST. You can vote once a day until then. Sarge would appreciate any votes you could give him!

Thank you and yay for seniors!

Trick? Or Treat?

It’s not a trick, we actually have a post! It’s been eerily quiet around M&M&NK lately. So quiet in fact, it’s spooky. Did the mere presence of an actual post scare you? I bet you didn’t expect it! While I haven’t been blogging much lately, I have been spending lots of QT with my two adorable pups. But, I couldn’t bare to let a holiday go by without a themed photo shoot. The Mr. doesn’t like when I put costumes on the dogs, so I went for a more subtle Fall theme. Enjoy!

Happy Halloween from Nola & Sarge!

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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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Sarge’s DNA Revealed!

When we sprung Sarge from the shelter, we were told that he is a pit bull/boxer mix. Of course, knowing that pit bull is not a an actual breed, unless it is referencing the American Pit Bull Terrier, we were not convinced. Nola is part boxer and that is pretty obvious just by looking at her, but with Sarge I wasn’t so sure. He does have a massive block head, so that could come from several different breeds that make up the ‘pit bull’ label so many shelters use. But, what about the one ear straight up one ear down, the black skin underneath the fawn colored fur, his short but stocky body, the long, thick tail?

So *drum roll, please* according to his Wisdom Panel, Sarge is an:
American Staffordshire Terrier, Bulldog, German Shepard, Staffordshire Bull Terrier Mix.

sarge_breeds2One of his parents was an American Staffordshire Terrier/Bulldog mix and the other was more of a mutt, but with German Shepard and Staffordshire Bull Terrier genes detected. Just as I thought, he is definitely not a boxer. I do think the bulldog is spot on. The size and shape of his head is definitely similar, minus the brachycephalic nose. The German Shepard could be where his pointed ears came from!
DSC_0966So, it seems as though the Mr. and I now have a bona fide pit bull as part of our family. I was a bit disappointed when Nola’s test came out with no trace of pit bull breeds, so I am happy that Sarge definitely is. He is a great example of a friendly, easy going, snuggley, handsome, rescued dog that is also a pit bull. Now when people ask me what he is I can proudly tell them that he is a pit bull and a great dog! Because above all else, he is a dog, and we love him regardless of what his genes are. And now, I can proudly display this sticker that I’ve had for months!
pitbullfamily2Anyone surprised by the results? Have you had your dog DNA tested?

*As a side note, I do understand the controversy surrounding the accuracy of dog DNA tests. In no way do I think they are 100% accurate, but for someone who was just plain curious, these tests are fun and interesting and do not hurt the dog in any way.