About The Foster Zoo

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We have decided to blog our adventures again. So much has changed since we last blogged. Bella and Shiloh both went to their forever homes and they are in wonderful families. June Bug got adopted. We quit fostering dogs after those adoptions because Tanker's epilepsy got bad. We quit doing therapy dog work because Tanker's epilepsy got bad. Tanker passed away June 9th, 2013. We adopted a senior border collie named Shania Tankerbelle in his memory. We still have our two cats, Sweet Pea and Little Bit. Wes has started rescuing pitiful bettas from Wal-Mart and we currently have seven. We have a camper. We camp. We have focused on giving our animals the best lives possible. We are The Foster Zoo Crew and we like to have fun.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Observing Dogs Today: Different Personalities

Half of dog training is observing.  If you don't sit and watch your dogs, if you don't understand their personalities, you can't teach them.  You have to understand how to speak to them.  Each dog has their own language.  Not a single dog I have ever owned has been like another.  Shiloh and Bella are no different.  They may have come from the same litter.  They may look alike, but they are two completely different dogs. 

Shiloh was named Shiloh because the girl that used to have her (Jocelyn) called her Shy Girl.  I didn't figure Shy Girl would make a good therapy dog name, so Shy Girl was converted to Shiloh.  As you might expect, Shiloh was the shy puppy of the litter.  We originally were only going to take Bella because Bella was more outgoing.  Jocelyn thought Bella would make a better therapy dog because she wasn't so shy.

Shiloh is no longer a shy girl.  She has really blossomed into a great puppy.  At this stage of their lives, given what I have observed of them, I think Shiloh will make a better therapy dog.  I take that back.  I don't know who will make a better therapy dog.  I think Bella will need more work than Shiloh.  Actually, I think they will both make great therapy dogs, but they are going to be better at different types of work.  Shiloh will make a better comfort dog.  Bella will be good at more task oriented kind of therapy.  Who knows?  When we are done training, the outcomes could be completely different.

A lot of people like Caesar Milan.  There are some things he says that I agree with.  There are a lot of things he says that I don't agree with.  I would like to know how many times he's been bitten off camera. 

I agree with his pack mentality.  Dogs are not wolves.  They have been domesticated for years.  They don't need a pack.  However, I think you can learn a lot about a dog by having them in a pack.  Dogs still have rankings within a pack. 

My pack consisted of Tanker and Topher before Bella and Shiloh came around.  My pack was calm, non aggressive, and they respected each other.  Shiloh and Bella have shaken that up a little, but Tanker and Topher are teaching them well.  More importantly, Tanker and Topher are teaching me about Bella and Shiloh.  They are communicating things to me that I couldn't learn without them.

Here is how our pack is ranked:

1.  Tanker
2.  Topher
3.  Bella
4.  Shiloh

Tanker is the oldest.  He has epilepsy.  Topher respects Tanker immensely.  Topher would never hurt Tanker.  No questions asked.  When we had our foster dog, Boomer, Topher was the same way with him.  Boomer was older, therefore Topher respected him.

Bella would like to move up the the rankings of the pack.  Topher is not going to let that happen.  Topher is the moderator.  He lets the puppies know when they have overstepped their boundaries.

Shiloh knows she is at the bottom of the pack and she really doesn't care.  She is happy there.  She is content knowing she has no responsibilities other than playing, eating, and sleeping.  She is calm and just goes with the flow.

Tanker could care less.  He is at the top, not because he wants to be there, but just because he is.  He is at the top out of respect from the others only.  When Blondie was alive, she was without a doubt at the top.  She suppressed Tanker a lot by bossing him around.  Tanker is happy to have the freedom he has at the top, but as far as being above the other dogs, he'd gladly give up his thrown if someone wanted it.

Topher is a do-good dog.  He lives in his happy little world and if we mess up his organization, he's lost.  He is trying his best to keep this hierarchy in line. 

Shiloh doesn't play with the big dogs.  She knows they are out of her league and she is not going to test those waters.  She will happily lay beside them, but she is not going to challenge them in a wrestling match.  She is content just having them as companions.

Bella pushes her boundaries.  She knows right from wrong, but she wants to know how much she can get away with.  That makes Topher, my do-good dog, a little leery of Bella.  Topher knows that Bella and Shiloh are younger though, so he is molding them and teaching them what they are supposed to know.

When Boomer was here, he loved to lay on the couch next to me.  He loved to lay at the foot of the bed.  Although Topher loves to be right next to me all the time, he gave up those spots to Boomer.  Boomer layed on the couch; Topher layed in his bed on the floor.  They rarely layed together next to me.  Topher is very attached to me, but he had a lot of respect for Boomer.  That left a conflict in Topher's mind, so he just left it well alone and layed on the floor.

Since the puppies are younger and need to be below Topher in this hierarchy, Topher now gets first dibs on the couch next to me and on the bed.  Before the puppies came along and when Boomer was not here, Topher layed on the floor in his bed with Tanker.  Now Topher is at my feet every night.  He gets along with the puppies, but he lets them know that I am his mommy first before theirs.  He will look them straight in their eyes and and tell them to back off.

Like I said, Bella would like to move up in the rankings here.  Bella will test her boundaries with Tanker and Topher.  She will get up in Tanker's face trying to play.  Tanker doesn't care to play much.  He will let out a grumble (Tanker doesn't really growl.  He lets out a grumble of discontent.)  and Bella will continue to try to play.  If Shiloh wants to play and Tanker grumbles at her, she backs off.  Bella and Topher will play rough.  When Topher tells Bella that enough is enough, Bella doesn't always listen to him.  They will then get into a little scuffle.

When outside, Bella is more of the trouble maker than Shiloh is.  Shiloh will follow her sister and copy her, but she will not initiate it.  When I call them to come in and they don't want to, they won't.  If I go out and pick up Bella and carry her in, Shiloh will follow.  If I pick up Shiloh, Bella will stay in the yard.  She does not need Shiloh, but Shiloh will follow Bella.

I feed all four dogs together in the kitchen.  Topher and Tanker go on one side.  Bella and Shiloh go on the other.  The two older dogs are not food aggressive at all.  I can feed them side by side without any problem.  Bella has become the scavenger of leftover food.  She usually finishes before Shiloh.  She will then walk over to Shiloh's bowl and try to eat out of it.  I am working on the leave it command with her.  Bella is not a bit aggressive, but Shiloh will give up her food for Bella.  Tanker has walked away from his food if the puppies are around.  That's why I feed them on opposite sides of the kitchen. 

Topher is my little police dog.  I lay down the laws and Topher makes sure they are being obeyed.  When outside, if the puppies start to dig, I will yell out "puppies" very loud.  Topher doesn't like anybody getting in trouble.  He is the do-good dog.  He will run over to the puppies and they immediately settle down.  All he has to do is look at them with his eyes wide and they stop what they are doing.  He is not aggressive at all.  He is more alert and curious.  He has established himself as higher than them in the pack and they know they must listen to him. 

Where do the cats fit in?  They really don't fit in.  Bella will bark at them.  Shiloh doesn't really care one way or the other about them, but will bark if Bella is.  Topher LOVES his cat sisters.  He doesn't run off the puppies when they bark at the cats.  They don't hurt the cats and the cats could care less about the puppies barking at them.  They are used to dogs.  They just look at the puppies like they are dumb.  Sometimes they will run off if they don't want to be bothered.  Neo is a different story.  Topher will sometimes go lay with the cats so they don't feel left out.

My pack of animals are still calm and grounded.  The puppies have shaken things up a bit, but they are finding their place and learning their boundaries.  When Wes and I get done training the puppies, when Topher and Tanker get done training the puppies, they will be well rounded dogs.

Here are a few pictures from the day:

This is where I sit and wait to see what trouble my sister is going to get into next.
Yup, she found something.

Yesss!!!  A board to chew!

Did somebody say I was the king of the pack??  Ha ha ha!  More bones please.

I have to reign over those crazy puppies?  May I step down?  I did not sign up for this.

Me?  The police dog of the group?  Well, I love mommy and I will do anything to make this world more peaceful.  By the way, did you know I am a therapy dog?  That means I am a certified dog of spreading love to others.  These puppies need to shape the butts up if they want to be in my pack.

I am torn.  To be good, or to be a cool kid like Bella?

What oh what can I chew on next?  Or should I go out and dig a hole?

I wonder if these puppies will be permanent residents or if they are just passing through like the last dog?

This is Shiloh's favorite place to lay.


I don't think Shiloh is feeling good today.  She and Bella are through their treatment for the roundworms they had, and they did well for a few days once they finished, but Shiloh has an upset stomach again.  I also think she may have a urinary tract infection.  She goes back to the vet in a few days.  I am going to ask them to do a urinalysis and put her on antibiotics if need be.  She has been more lethargic as well.

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