Monday, October 31, 2011

17 Things Bella Has Stolen

Bella is an inveterate thief. I suspect it comes from her rough start in life. But I also recognize my part in its persistence since she almost exclusively steals my stuff and usually only after she has tried to get my attention in other ways. The following is her life list of stolen goods thus far.

  1. Shoes - This is more of a category than a thing and covers all manner of footwear including sandals, boots, sneakers, loafers and slippers.
  2. Christmas ornaments - Including one antique glass bulb that nearly sent her mom to the hospital for heart palpitations.
  3. Christmas bows - Of course, only off already-neatly-wrapped packages.
  4. CDs/DVDs/computer install discs - She has fabulous taste in music and movies always selecting only the rarest vintages for her collection.
  5. Hair ties - Bella especially likes them when they're still wrapped in my hair or around my wrist but getting the ones off the bedroom table is becoming a bit of an art form for her.
  6. Boxes - And no wimpy boxes for Bella, nope, she likes real boxes.
    1 Adam 12, 1 Adam 12,
    Box theft in progress.
  7. Socks - This is usually accomplished as a surreptitious drive-by when I'm getting dressed in the morning.
  8. Keurig K-cups - I should have let her learn about these the hard way. A mouthful of coffee grounds and she probably would never have stolen anything ever again.
  9. Books - Bella's idea of irony: stealing, and nearly destroying, "Feisty Fido".
  10. Magazines - She's a big fan of Pet Plans' "Fetch" magazine.
  11. Napkins/Kleenex - Usually, but not necessarily, after we've finished with them.
  12. Teddy bears - My collection is now safely packed away in drawers and closets. Hrumph.
  13. Assorted pieces of clothing - I think she's trying to tell me something about the Snuggie.
  14. A phone - Yeah, I got nothing. She stole the phone. She ate the phone. I have no idea what she had against the phone.
  15. Feathers - So much for that collection of Native American art. It's now locked in a closet with the Teddy Bears. Hrumph again.
  16. Water bottles - Usually empty, not always.
  17. Blankets - This is my favorite of Bella's little oddities. She's very thoughtful and dainty about it. Here, I made a video:

Thanks for stopping by. Please feel free to leave a comment for the crazy dog. I may be a little delayed in responding, however, as I was in the path of "#Snowtober" this weekend and am without power (for who knows how long at this point). If anyone has heat, running water and wouldn't mind a visit from berserk-o dog, let me know. :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Good night, sweet girl

It's Saturday so today's post should have featured a dog in need of rescue. Instead it will feature a dog that was rescued almost 16 years ago. One who had a long and wonderful life with my mom and dad and made her journey to the Bridge yesterday.

Misty and her "fuzzy fur feet"

Dad found Misty being given away in a box at a local park almost 16 years ago. The story goes that the person giving the pups away was just going to leave Misty there in the box if he didn't take her (at least that's what he told mom when she asked him if he was insane upon bringing her home.)

Misty, as a puppy, meets Sam...
and Beau...
and Tommy.
Misty was a good girl. She never really learned how to play but she loved her afternoon walks. 

I've never seen a dog so in love with being outside...
or with her cat, Snowflake.
Run free now, Misty.
Dad's waiting to walk you at the Bridge.

Rest in peace, sweet girl. You will be missed.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Educating Bella

Newly armed with information gleaned from reading every book recommended on Debbie Jacob's website, we were beginning to understand the impact of Bella never having been properly socialized. Bella didn't know how to react to other dogs when she was on a leash and, as previously noted, she usually reacted badly. As suggested in the readings, I thought we had a wonderful opportunity to help build Bella's confidence and social skills at the same time by taking her to an 'obedience' class.

Who needs obedience class?
I already know sit = treats.
Too old for most Puppy Kindergarten classes and certainly not ready for the advanced classes of older dogs, a little research led us to a "Beginner Obedience" class for slightly older puppies who just needed some "assistance" in the obedience department. Obedience wasn't specifically the goal, socialization in a safe, controlled atmosphere was but getting both Jan and I on the same training page could only be a plus.

A note before we get to the actual class to set the stage for our state of mind walking into the training center: Bella was born essentially wild and had to hunt to eat for the first few months of her life. She was very, very good at "hunting" slugs, a bit less so at hunting creatures that can actually move faster than the literal "snail's pace" but she was always, always up for the game.

Not quite ready for Prime Time

Given Bella's remarkably bad social skills, her fear of people and her overwhelming prey drive, we were justifiably a little worried we'd be thrown out of class on our very first night. And yet intrepidely we set forth. We entered the classroom with her tugging and snarling and met our other classmates:

  • Tank, the aptly named 8-month old yellow Lab,
  • the most lovely and confident Husky-type mix, Peyton (Bella's first boyfriend), and
  • a teeny, tiny Toy Poodle whose name I can't remember so we'll just call him "Lunch".

Our blessed trainer, Sheila, started the class by telling us no matter how bad our dog was, it was probably not the worst dog she had ever seen. "Probably"? I'm guessing we all felt certain we were about to be the exception. Bella then proceeded to bark and growl through the entire class alternating between trembling in my lap and trying to "defend" me from any who came near (with the most absurdly inappropriate puppy play bows thrown in just for good measure. Huh?)

Bella's idea of "loose-leash walking"
Our classmates learned more than they ever wanted to know about approaching and working with fearful dogs: how tossing her treats was a good way for her to begin associating people (strangers) with all good things, how to position ourselves between Bella and the fear-inducing item and use high-value treats to bring her attention back to us. We learned that keeping dogs moving can keep their attention off each other and so spent a lot of time walking the dogs around the room.

This too shall pass

We got through the first class without Bella eating "Lunch". We had tons of questions and Sheila was so patient with us. One thing we learned very quickly was that Bella was very, very smart and we weren't asking enough of her. She absolutely loved learning. (Actually, I think she just absolutely loved tripe and if she had to perform some dumb trick to appease the stupid humans to get it, well, she could live with that.)

By the end of the 8-week session, we (and she) had learned all the basics: the puppy push-up of sit, down and stand; come and stay; front, look, touch and loose-leash walking. We learned about shaping behavior and one of Bella's most reliable "tricks" to date is still the "down" she learned on her own without us tugging or pushing or forcing anything. (Her enthusiasm for this particular command is still the cutest little thing.)

Tank eventually dropped out of class. I'm pretty sure his mom was last seen flying behind him holding on to his leash somewhere in Ohio... Peyton became a rock-star hanging out at doggie day care with the famous Vick-tory dog, Handsome Dan. Bella and "Lunch" went on to have more classes together eventually learning how to play (gently) with each other. Bella even passed her very first "Pup Quiz":

Near the end of the class, we got to try our hand at some agility obstacles where Bella managed to demonstrate her intelligence once again as she continually out-foxed us with the tunnel. She did go through it once but Bella is particularly wary of barrels so we never really expected her to go through one lying on its side. We were proud of her for trying but never forced her to go closer than she was comfortable doing on her own.

She showed such enthusiasm for the jumps and weave poles, however, that we have recently started her in an "Agility for Reactive Dogs" class. She's going to be amazing!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Introducing Dill (Again) - Saturday Pet Blogger Hop

Happy Saturday!

So I totally screwed up my first few entries in the Saturday Blog Hop. (Cut me some slack, please, I'm new at this.) Now that I've figured out what I'm doing, I have to go back to the beginning and start over. Sorry this is a repeat but Dill is so lovely, she's worth mentioning again and again until she finds her forever home. If you are looking for a calm and gentle elder lady to grace your home and your lap, you need look no further than the beautiful Dill. Here's a repeat of her first appearance in the Saturday Pet Bloggers Hop:

Allow me to introduce the first entry in my Saturday "Please-Adopt-This-Dog-a-thon": Dill!

Dill is a 12 year old, spayed female black Lab mix available for adoption through North East All Retriever Rescue. She is a real sweetheart of a dog - gentle, friendly, tail is always wagging. She has some health issues but they're all being managed. And yes, she's a bit of an old lady but that is definitely part of her charm - she's ready to be your walking partner as well as your couch-potato cuddle companion. Dill is a very special girl who deserves a very special new home and family. If you're in the market for a new dog, I hope you'll consider adding her to yours.

Click here to view Dill's full profile on the NEARR website.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 11 - A Boy and His (Auntie's) Dog

Edited to add: This is my nephew Jared (about 3 1/2 years old, I think) with my Lab, Beau (I'm gonna have to say 12/13 weeks old). Given Beau's age, this picture would have been taken in the June of 1994 (so apparently we didn't remove leaves from this property - 6 acres of mostly woods, compliance was futile.)  This is one of a series and will be revisited from time to time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Notes from home - 11.4.2008

Some of Jan's notes from home have been shorter than others. This one, while brief, still managed to say all that needed to be said.

You might remember that Bella had "discovered" an old stuffie toy that belonged to my Lab, Beau. For those of you who might have pondered Frosty's fate, I give you the latest installment of "Notes from home".

November 4, 2008

Jan: I just discovered that Frosty is an amputee. Sorry...

Sorry, Frosty.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

BtC4A: Petland USA, Stop Selling Pets!

Blog the ChangeI'm going to assume you care. I'm going to assume you just don't know. I'm not going to cover this page with horrifying pictures of puppy mill dogs - I'm going to assume you've seen them. What I'm not going to assume is that you know where puppy mill puppies are sold.

Today is October's "Blog the Change for Animals" event and bloggers everywhere are banding together to ask you for one thing:

"Tell Petland USA to Stop Selling Pets!"

Do you know where that doggie in the window came from? Petland USA wants you to believe they come from responsible breeders who treat their dogs with care. They don't.

"Investigations have exposed that 95 percent of the puppies sold in Petland stores come from commercial breeders who treat their animals like crops -- stuck in appalling living conditions, often with inadequate vet care, deprived of exercise, socialization, and even protection from the elements."

(Read the original HSUS investigation from 2008 here:
and the follow up investigation from 2009 here:

In this Petland USA video describing where their puppies come from, they say repeatedly that their puppies come from "USDA Licensed and Approved" breeding facilities. That's nice but what does it mean?

According to this May 2010 report from the Office of the Inspector General who "conducted an audit of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Animal Care (AC) unit...responsible for enforcing the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)" it means very, very little:

At a facility in Oklahoma with 83 adult dogs, AC cited the breeder for a total of 20 violations ...during 5 inspections from April 2006 to December 2007... Despite the continuing violations, AC did not take enforcement actions...

During our visit to the facility in July 2008, AC cited the breeder for another 11 violations (including 1 repeat and 3 directs). One of the direct violations involved a dog that had been bitten by another dog. The first dog was left untreated for at least 7 days, which resulted in the flesh around the wound rotting away to the bone. The breeder admitted the dog had been in this condition for at least 7 days. The inspector correctly required the dog to be taken to a local veterinarian who immediately euthanized it

AC did refer the case to IES for investigation, but only after another direct violation was documented in a subsequent inspection after our visit...However, as of early June 2009—11 months after our visit—the violator had not yet been fined. "

You can read the full report here. Note: Some images in this document are very disturbing:

Here's the point I want to make today:

Petland USA talks about using only "USDA Licensed and Approved Breeding facilities". Bully for them.

Did they read the report? Are we supposed to believe this means something?

It's a cop-out. It's like saying "I didn't do anything illegal" knowing full well what you did was morally indefensible.

The fact remains: Petland USA sells puppy mill puppies.

In a recent poll by the ASPCA , 75% of the respondents said "they knew about puppy mills and view them negatively" yet "78% were unaware that most pet-store doggies in the windows come from puppy mills". Now you know.

If you don't want to support puppy mills, don't buy puppies from Petland USA and ask Petland USA not to sell them. The only way to stop the devastation of puppy mills is to stop selling the puppies they produce.

Petland Canada vowed to do just that. Why won't Petland USA? Sign the petition below and you just might make that happen.

Other ways you can help:
  • Write to Petland USA on Facebook and Twitter and tell them to stop selling pets.
  • Use the following as your status update on Facebook and Twitter (and everywhere else!) today:
    Tell @Petland USA to Stop Selling Pets! Sign the Petition: #BTC4A #Change
  • Don't even shop at pet stores that sell puppies and tell the owners why. Sign and share the ASPCA's "No Pet Store Puppies" pledge.
  • Visit the blogs participating in today's Blog the Change for Animals event and share them with your friends.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

On Meeting Maggie

Maggie was born in the suburbs of Massachusetts. She's blond, beautiful and comes from a great family. She has never missed a meal, always slept in a warm bed and has always known love. She's a bit of an airhead but exceedingly social and friendly to everyone. Maggie is our neighbor's Golden Retriever.

Bella is not a Golden Retriever. In fact, she's kind of the anti-Golden Retriever: she's not especially friendly, is afraid of people and insanely smart but she does love to play with other (non-threatening) dogs. She didn't learn her manners in a classroom - she learned survival skills on the streets of Puerto Rico which, sad to say, isn't about to win an award as the most dog-friendly place in the universe.

When Bella Met Maggie

Knowing that Bella "loves to play with other puppies", and being friends with our neighbors, we knew the dogs would have to meet and hoped they might even become friends. I have to give our neighbors credit for not moving out of town after the dogs' first meeting.

It went something like this:
Bella and Maggie, on-leash, spy each other from across the yards.
      They're aware...
                            and maybe a little confused...

Maggie: Wait, who's that? She didn't live there before, did she? What happened to that old yellow guy I used to run circles around?

Bella: Wait, who's that? What's she doing in my territory? Is she friendly
or is she going to try to beat me up and steal my food?

Bella had only learned about leashes when she came to live with us. Prior to that, she was always free to approach and retreat at her choosing. Her reactivity to meeting Maggie on-leash should have been anticipated. Suffice it to say, it was not.

So the dogs approach, there appears to be interest, enthusiasm and then.... Bella goes ballistic. Hrumph. It really wasn't that bad, she did what lots of dogs do: she barked, she growled, she tried to run away, she tried to charge. No blood was spilt.

But it was back to the starting line to try again another day. (I'm pretty sure Ron and Gail were almost as afraid of Bella as she was of them. Maggie seemed rather oblivious to the snarling dog in front of her: "So are we gonna play or what?" Did I mention she's a bit of an airhead?)

Second Chances

We continued to hope that the dogs would overcome their differences (ok, that Bella would stop being such a b* - oops, sorry, this is a family-friendly blog...) and allowed them to continue to see each other closing the distance slowly over time. And one day it finally happened.

Much to my dismay, I was not at home for the encounter, but Jan sent this along via email:

"I took Bella out for a walk when I got home from the gym. Ron was out walking Maggie at the same time and, since both dogs were straining to get to the other one, I walked over.

The meeting went well. Bella was still a bit scared but definitely interested. Growling was kept to a minimum. The dogs got nose to nose several times (both being cautious in the process).

Bella also tried to play with Maggie -- darting around and putting her front paws down as she does when we are playing in the bedroom. Unfortunately, Maggie didn't quite know what to make of what Bella was doing. That didn't seem to deter Bella. She is a little bundle of energy when she gets going.

Maggie was quite well behaved during the meeting. Ron told her to sit and she did. I think we have to change our impression of Maggie somewhat." (Maybe she's not such an airhead after all...)

Falling In and Out of Love

The meeting went so well, in fact, that we set up an actual playdate a few days later. Over the winter, when the dogs started showing signs of 'cabin fever', playdates became regularly scheduled events and in time, they played for at least a little while every day. Parents on both sides of the fence basked in the serenity of tired dogs.

A falling out last year (between the dogs, not the neighbors) has seen the daily playdates come to an end, as perhaps these things do when puppies turn into dogs, but we are certain we can walk the dogs together at a local track if the human schedules ever align again. With winter approaching though, it may even be time to remember the dogs sorted their differences out the first time and are likely capable of doing so again if their people would just get out of their way and let it happen.

So what do you think? Are Bella and Maggie destined to live their lives looking longingly over the hedge wishing for days gone by or "can this marriage be saved"? Do your dogs have any BFFs that don't live in the same house with them? Do they always get along or have there been spats and how was the relationship 'post-spat'? Did you do something to repair the relationship or did the dogs work it out themselves? Let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bella discovers New England's autumn leaves

A first here on Bringing up Bella: video. This is early video from Bella's first Fall and I had a pretty lousy camera. Jan took the footage one afternoon while I was at work. I did get to see much more of this "head-butting" action throughout the fall, but this is the best video we have of it, even if it's not all that great. I hope it's good enough for you to be able to see her ears standing straight up at times.

I hope you get a kick out of it, too.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Iams Home for the Holidays & Blogging for Bowls

Since I haven't been doing this blogging thing long, I'm still learning about the number of opportunities we bloggers have to truly impact the lives of shelter animals. And I have to say, I'm really impressed.

This time around, to help kick off its Home for the Holidays and Bags for Bowls campaigns, Iams will donate 100 bowls of food for every blog that joins the Blogging for Bowls Blog Hop between October 3 - October 10, 2011. How easy is that?

"Iams Home 4 the Holidays, one of the world’s largest pet adoption programs, kicks off its annual adoption drive in partnership with Helen Woodward Animal Center. Their goal is to find homes for 1.5 million orphaned cats and dogs. Now in its 13th year, Iams’ Home 4 the Holidays, which runs up to January 3, 2012, has helped place 5.8 million pets in their forever homes.

While finding loving homes for orphaned pets is the core of the program, the campaign also provides shelters and rescue centers with much needed food donations. With the help of consumers, the Iams Bags 4 Bowls program aims to donate 5 million meals to animals housed in participating organizations."

Don't have a blog? That's ok, there are ways you can help, too:

  • Visit the Iams Facebook page and clicking “Like.” For each “Like”, comment or photo posted, Iams will donate meals.
  • Create a custom adoption announcement or holiday card to share the news of a new four-legged family member or just send a season’s greeting to family and friends. For each card created and shared, Iams will donate meals. Again, go to the Iams Facebook page to get started.
  • Purchase specially-marked packages of Iams dog or cat food during the duration of the campaign. For every specially-marked package sold, Iams will donate one bowl of food to a participating Iams Home 4 The Holidays animal organization.

If you are a blogger or have a website, join the Blog Hop and claim those 100 bowls of food!

And remember to show your support for the Iams Home 4 the Holidays Blogging for Bowls Blog Hop:
  • Link up your blog name and URL using the Linky Tool below, where it says "Click Here To Enter". You only need to add your link once to be seen on all the Blogging 4 Bowls Blog Hop Linky Tools.
  • Grab the code and write a post on your blog to show your added support for the Blogging for Bowls Blog Hop.
  • Stop by the blog hop co-hosts The Tiniest Tiger, Fidose of Reality, Pets News and Views, Pets Weekly, and Pet Blogs United to say hello.
  • Visit other blogs that are supporting the Blogging 4 Bowls Blog Hop. Make new friends and/or reconnect with old friends.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Woofstock 2011

Dateline October 1, 2011, Hudson, Massachusetts:

Buddy Dog Humane Society celebrates its 50th anniversary with the 1st Annual Woofstock Festival

I was attending to help represent Basenji Rescue and Transport, take some pictures for North East All Retriever Rescue and assist the almost all-volunteer Buddy Dog crew with whatever they needed. (I was hoping Save-a-Sato would be there so I could be pulled in even more directions at once. ;) The Buddy Dog crew didn't need me at all because, despite how they may have felt, it seemed to everyone attending, from vendors to guests, that everything went perfectly.

From an attendance perspective, I had a blast and the festival was a huge success. They haven't released an official count yet, but over the 5 hours of the event, I have to estimate at least 1,000 people and hundreds of dogs came through the gates. There were almost 100 vendors and everywhere you looked, people and dogs lined up to visit the booths.

There were photographers, trainers and massage therapists. There was every kind of pet supply product imaginable and various presentations in the center rings from agility to police K-9 and military search and rescue dog demonstrations. There were, of course, every variety of animal and breed rescue many with their adoptable dogs on display. A live band, raffles with an assortment of great prizes and lots of food and beverages (courtesy Papa Gino's and the Hudson Elks Club) rounded out an awesome offering. Next year, if the weather would just cooperate, this will be the perfect New England Fall festival.

The best part for us was there was plenty of space which made bringing the scared-y dog easy - Bella never had to be in too big a crowd because across the entire field there was always a place to get away from it all. Once her beau, Gus, arrived with his Greyhound sister, Molly, Bella was able to relax a little and even tried to initiate play sessions with several dogs. She had a romping good time with one Australian Shepherd and confused the heck out of a rather young Golden Retriever pup who wasn't familiar with the puppy play bow.

Just out of curiosity, is Bella supposed to grow out of that? It's a little embarrassing explaining to people that no, she's not a puppy, she's 3 and a half, she just thinks she's a puppy still... Is just us or does your dog continue to "puppy play bow" even after puppyhood has passed?