Jun 16 2015

Beat the heat! Keep your pet cool this summer.

Spending summer days with your furry friend can be a lot of fun but the weather conditions aren’t always suitable for your pet. The rising temperatures and extreme humidity that the summer brings can be fatal for your animal if you aren’t aware of the dangers they can bring. On a really hot day your pet probably prefers a cool, air conditioned environment, but if you take on the outdoors with them there are a few things to remember.

Keeping your pet hydrated is crucial. Make sure you provide fresh, clean water that your pet can access at any time.  Also, if you’re unable to keep them indoors make sure that they have a shaded area they can go to when they need to get out of the sun.  If they are outdoors in the sun for too long, your pet can become overheated.  If you are transporting them in a vehicle be sure to never leave them in the car while it’s parked. A parked car can quickly become way too hot for your pet, whether the windows are down or not. Leaving an animal unattended in a parked vehicle can be fatal for your pet so make sure you are able to keep them with you when you’ve reached your destination or just leave them at home so they can stay cool.

Another way to keep your pet cool is to trim their fur. If you have a breed that grows long hair, it can be beneficial to get their hair trimmed short in the summer time. This can keep them much cooler on hot, summer days. It also helps to brush your animal’s fur more often than usual.

Be sure to pay attention to the heat of the asphalt. If it is a hot day, chances are the concrete and asphalt have reached temperatures that can potentially burn your pet’s paws.  Don’t let your pet stand or walk where the ground might be too hot for their paws.

Taking your pet swimming is a great idea for the both of you to cool off.  If you decide to let your pet splash around in a pool, lake, or other body of water do not leave them unsupervised! Not all dogs are natural swimmers and may need help. Don’t just assume that they will be able to swim and take care of themselves while in the water.

It is important to know the symptoms of overheating so that you can know when there is a problem and when you need to take action. Some symptoms of overheating are excessive panting or difficulty breathing, an increased heart rate, excessive drooling, or mild weakness. When body temperatures get too high they can also experience seizures, diarrhea, or vomiting. Pay attention to the weather and be aware of the potential danger that the hot summers can bring. By doing this you can beat the heat and have a fun but safe summer with your furry friend!

 


Apr 24 2015

Dog Training Tips: Excessive Chewing

How to help your little chewer 

It’s not uncommon for dogs to enjoy chewing on different objects, regardless of whether or not it’s something they should or shouldn’t be chewing on, all dogs have the natural instinct to chew.  Dogs chew on things for different reasons, some of these include: they’re bored, they’re panicking due to separation anxiety, they’re teething, they’re exploring the world around them, they’re hungry, or they just naturally enjoy chewing as a daily activity.  It’s our responsibility as their owners to try to figure out why they’re chewing and ensure they have appropriate items for them to chew on.  Below is some additional information about how to manage a dog that likes to chew a lot.

  • Puppies go through two teething phases, one when their puppy teeth or “milk teeth” start to come in at about 3 weeks old and the second when their adult teeth start to come in at about 3 months old.  It’s not uncommon for young dogs up to two years of age to continue to want to chew a lot into their teenage phase even though they are no longer teething.
  • Generally speaking, younger dogs have a lot more energy than older dogs so as a result they are much more active and need to be given constructive outlets to burn off all that energy.  If they’re not given the appropriate exercise and mental stimulation for their age and breed, young dogs can become very destructive in your home.  It’s imperative that you make the time to exercise your young dog, train basic obedience behaviors to your young dog so that they learn some manners, and give them appropriate chew bones and toys.  A tired dog is a good dog.
  • Always supervise young dogs to ensure they are not chewing on inappropriate objects and to ensure they are not choking and/or ingesting parts of the toys you’ve given them to play with and chew on.  Baby gates, crates, or keeping your dog on a leash tied to your belt are all good tools for total supervision until you get to know your dog and his or her chewing habits.  Not all dogs can play with the same toys safely so it’s imperative that you monitor your dog when you give them a new toy for the first time.  Ingested toys can cause serious life threatening intestinal blockages and the surgery alone to remove the blockage can cost a few thousand dollars at a veterinary office.
  • You can ensure that your dog is not chewing on inappropriate objects by keeping your personal items picked up and put away.  Also make sure that rooms are safe for your dog and that things like plugged in power cords are out of your dog’s reach.  Closing doors to extra rooms like bedrooms and bathrooms will ensure that your dog is not sneaking off and chewing on your things or harming herself.  Remind your children that it is their responsibility to keep their items like toys and shoes put away if they don’t want them chewed on by the dog.  It’s not uncommon for dogs of any age to want to chew things that smell strongly of their owners like dirty socks, underwear, shoes, etc. so make sure they are out of your dog’s reach.
  • If your dog is chewing on an inappropriate item, always redirect their chewing to their dog toys and bones instead of scolding them.  Scolding them will not diminish their need to chew and do something mentally stimulating; it will just teach your dog to fear you.  Instead teach them what they should be doing by offering them toys or chews that they should chew on.  See the list below of toys recommended for excessive chewers.
  • If your dog is chewing on larger items that you can’t put away like furniture, you may want to try a taste deterrent spray like bitter apple spray.  However, the best option is always going to be supervising your dog when you’re home and then redirecting them to an appropriate toy when they feel the need to chew.  If you’re not home to supervise then you may need to crate train your dog or baby gate them in a dog proof room like a kitchen or bathroom.  Some people can safely give their dogs toys to chew on while they are away while others cannot because their dog may have a history of ingesting or choking on toys.
  • If your dog is excessively chewing when you are not home and is doing things like escaping out of its metal or plastic crate and then chewing up carpets, doors, or the molding around your doors or windows, you most like have a dog that is suffering from separation anxiety and should seek immediate help from your veterinarian and a behaviorist.  Please see our separation anxiety handout.  Your dog is experiencing extreme mental and emotional distress, akin to a panic attack. Do not continue to try to crate your dog; she may severely injure her body or teeth while trying to escape out of a crate.
  • Recommended dog toys for excessive chewers*:
    • Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or wet dog food and then frozen
    • Himalayan Chews
    • Goughnuts
    • Nylabones
    • Wholesome rolled rawhide bones
    • Deer, moose, or elk antlers
    • Bull horns
    • Bully sticks
    • Rope toys
    • Tuffy plush toys
    • Leather toys
    • Red Barn or Merrick marrow bones

*Items above are generally safer if they are made in the USA compared to products shipped in from overseas, particularly animal products such as rawhides and marrow bones.  Wayside Waifs does not receive any financial reimbursement for endorsing these products.  Wayside Waifs can also not be held liable should your dog have problems while interacting with these toys.

 


Mar 31 2015

Introducing Your Cat to the Litter Box

The first step with any behavioral issue is to take your cat to the veterinarian for a full evaluation.  Cats are very stoic animals and will hide illness and injury.  Sometimes our only clue that something is physically wrong is a behavioral symptom.  Many behavioral modification programs can begin in conjunction with or shortly after your trip to the veterinarian.

Some cats can be quite particular when it comes to where they eliminate.   Some guardians expect cats to just “know” what to do and where to go, when in fact, they don’t always.  If a kitten has been separated from its Mother or littermates too soon, it might not learn on its own.   Someone has to help them, and that someone just might be you.

When you first bring your new cat or kitten home, they should be given their own room for at least a couple of days.  They need time to acclimate to their environment, to you, and this will help them to understand where they are to potty as well.  Give the cat time to investigate the room, and they will find the litter box on their own.  Do not place food and water bowls beside the litter box, put those in an area away from the litter box.  If you don’t see your cat investigating anywhere near the litter box, you can place the cat in the litter box, but only if they are comfortable with you doing so.  Don’t force them, and do not help move their paws in the litter box either.  This has to be a positive experience for them.  It is best to give them time to investigate on their own.

Which litter box do you need?  Start with a basic litter box, without a cover.  Buy a standard sized litter box or a large clear Sterilite container that is 1.5 times an adult cat’s length.  Cats need room to move around! They should have enough space to be able to turn around comfortably.  If you do buy a covered litter box, it must be tall enough so the cat can comfortably stand up.  Most cats don’t like having a cover.  Imagine walking into a small space, going potty, cleaning up (covering up), and then exiting.  The litter box needs to be a positive experience for a cat and spending several minutes inside a dirty litter box is an unpleasant experience.  Also, if there are other cats in the home, some might use this as a chance to pounce on the unassuming cat when it exits the litter box.  Some guardians will purchase a litter liner, and this is something you might have to try out to see what your cat thinks of it.  If the cat doesn’t like that sound or feel of it, stop using it.

Which type of litter do you need?  Kittens should not be given clumping litter.  Kittens are curious, and may actually play or try to eat it.  Unscented is best.  Scented litter may actually cause your cat to not use the litter box.  Two inches of litter in the litter box is recommended.  Adults prefer unscented, clumping litter at a depth of 3-4 inches.

Where should the litter box be kept?  It should continue to stay in the room your cat started out in.  The general rule for litter boxes is to have 1 litter box per cat plus 1 more.  So, the 2nd litter box should be kept on another level in the home or another area for easy access whenever the cat has to “go”.  The litter boxes must be in a quiet, stress-free area, and where the cat can have easy access to it at any time.  If there are young children or other pets in the home, it is very important that they do not try to prevent the cat from getting to the litter box.

How often does the litter box need to be cleaned?  Litter boxes should be scooped at least on a daily basis.  Depending on the number of cats in the home, this may need to be done more than once each day.  Change the litter at least on a weekly basis.  This is also a great time to clean the litter box.  Soap & water is usually good enough for removing any stains or odor.   You can use an enzyme-based cleaner if the urine odor is very strong, but it’s usually a good rule to allow a little odor, because your cat is familiar with it. Also, sometimes a chemical smell will turn off the cat from using the litter box.  If the litter box is cleaned entirely of the cat’s scent, they may not use it.  Remember, you probably won’t smell anything once it’s been cleaned with soap & water, but your cat probably can.

What if the cat refuses to use the litter box?  Please contact your Veterinarian if your cat stops using the litter box and using other areas.  If your cat is not eliminating at all, contact your Veterinarian immediately to rule out any serious health issue.

If after trying these suggestions you are still experiencing undesirable behaviors in your cat, SUBMIT QUESTIONS by clicking the link under Ask A Trainer on the Behavior and Training page of our website.


Mar 31 2015

Dealing with Destructive Cat Scratching

The first step with any behavioral issue is to take your cat to the veterinarian for a full evaluation.  Cats are very stoic animals and will hide illness and injury.  Sometimes our only clue that something is physically wrong is a behavioral symptom.  Many behavioral modification programs can begin in conjunction with or shortly after your trip to the veterinarian.

Scratching is a normal behavior for cats!  It serves many purposes, such as marking territory, relieving stress and excess energy, stretching, and removing the dead outer layer of their claws.  Cats need to scratch and this should not be taken away from them.  Cats that scratch on undesirable objects just need a little guidance as to what is acceptable and beneficial.

Choosing a scratching post

Every cat must have at least one good scratching post; preferably more than one, especially in multi-cat homes.  Figuring out which type of scratching post your feline will prefer might take a little bit of trial and error.  Most cats like to stretch upwards, so providing a tall cat tower that is at least 3 feet tall with a stable base is always a good idea.  Even if the cat doesn’t use it to scratch on, it provides a nice perch to survey their surroundings, look out windows, or to provide some solitude when needed.

A proper vertical scratching post needs to suit the needs of an adult-sized cat.  A kitten is going to grow quickly, so it’s best to get the proper height right from the beginning.  The taller the better, but ideally it should be tall enough for an adult cat to stand on the hind legs, and stretch all the way up as far as they can reach.  This gives the cat plenty of surface area to work on and a proper stretch.  The scratching post needs to be sturdy as well.  If it tips or falls over, it may scare the cat, and the cat may never approach it or use it again.

Some cats prefer to scratch horizontally.  There are scratch posts that provide this option as well.  Again, finding one that won’t slide around or tip is very important.  Place the scratch board on a carpeted surface or purchase a gripper mat to prevent movement. Texture is important as well.  Some cats prefer carpeted posts, some prefer sisal, and some prefer corrugated cardboard.  Sisal is the most preferred as it is durable and helps the claws to lose the dead outer layer.  Corrugated cardboard will need to be replaced periodically as the scratcher deteriorates from use.

Training your cat to use the scratching post

If you have a multi-cat home, you should have 1 scratch post per cat (or more).  Each cat might have a preference of where it is located as well.  If there is any conflict between your cats, if you recognize these conflicts re-occurring in the same areas of the home, place a scratch post in those areas.  Any of the cats feeling stressed can have easy access to an instant stress reliever.  Scratching posts should be placed in common cat traffic areas and near items that the cat has previously used for scratching. If your cat is scratching on your couch, for example, place the scratch post in front of that particular area.

Sprinkling or spraying catnip onto the tower will attract the cat to the tower.  Lure your cat to the scratching post by dangling a favorite toy on the scratcher to encourage exploration and use of the scratcher.  Always praise your cat when the scratcher is used even after the training phase is over! Once your cat is consistently using the tower, you can begin to move it a few inches at a time until it is in the location you would like it to be. Be patient and allow the cat time to consistently use it after each move.

If you see the cat about to scratch on an undesirable area, do not frighten the cat or punish the cat.  Distract the cat by dangling their favorite toy near them and guide them with the toy to the scratching post.  Continue to play with your cat by dangling the toy high up on the scratching post so your cat jumps or stretches to catch it.  This will show the cat that the scratching post is stable and feels good to scratch.  Interrupting a cat who is already scratching can be done with a distracting toy or an aversive sound.  When the cat uses the scratch post, be sure to praise and reward with an extra tasty treat.

Alternatives to Declawing

Declawing is a procedure where a veterinarian amputates the end digit and claw of a cat’s paw.  Declawing should never be an option unless it is for medical reasons (ie:  injury).  Declawed cats are more likely to suffer from painful arthritis and behavior issues. Declawing a cat also takes away one of its first defenses.  This can result in a cat biting more than it might have if it still had its claws.  Declawing can also lead to litter box problems, as it can be painful for a cat to rake its paws through the litter. There is a product called Soft Paws that is a wonderful alternative.  They are plastic caps that fit right over each claw.  A cat can scratch, and there won’t be any damage.  Groomers and veterinarians can help apply these if you need any help putting them on. The caps can stay on for several weeks before needing to be replaced.

Keeping your cats nails trimmed on a regular basis will also help to prevent you from getting scratched, or the cat getting its nails caught on something, possibly causing damage to the item or to the cat.  Clip off the sharp tips every two weeks or so.  Work on desensitizing your cat to make this a tolerable interaction.  Petting her paws or legs and providing treats at the same time will help the cat to associate the touch as a positive interaction.  You can then begin to increase the pressure with gentle squeezes.  Eventually you will need to do this to extend the claw in order to trim them.  When you extend the claw, you should be able to see the pink or “quick” inside the claw.  This is a small blood vessel, and you want to be sure you do NOT cut in that area, or it will bleed and be painful.  This will help to dull the claw and prevent some damage to furniture or to you.

If after trying these suggestions you are still experiencing undesirable behaviors in your cat, SUBMIT QUESTIONS by clicking the link under Ask A Trainer on the Behavior and Training page of our website.


Mar 18 2015

Cats in Conflict: Feline Social Behavior

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The first step with any behavioral issue is to take your cat to the veterinarian for a full evaluation.  Cats are very stoic animals and will hide illness and injury.  Sometimes our only clue that something is physically wrong is a behavioral symptom.  Many behavioral modification programs can begin in conjunction with or shortly after your trip to the veterinarian.

Cats are socially selective creatures, which means that they do not need each other to survive but they will choose to socialize with each other.  Cats are individuals with personalities and because of this they will get along with certain cats and not others.

Most people miss the subtle way cats communicate with each other and only start to notice problems when a fight occurs.  Often times there are other signs that things are getting tense between your cats.  One of the other signs is not using the litter box.  Cats have elaborate ways to share territory and disruptions to their agreements can disturb the delicate balance.  When these problems arise it is important to address them as soon as possible.  The more fighting that occurs the more difficult it will be to resolve.  Cat do not “just work things out” once they get into a pattern of fighting.  This process will take time and commitment to resolve and you may need the help of a behavior specialist.  Pay close attention to all your cats’ behaviors and document your findings.  Be patient as each cat will progress at their own pace.  Use the following information to help you evaluate the situation.

Territory and access to resources

Territory is one of the most important things in your cat’s life.  Territory aggression can occur when a new cat is brought into the home, when a cat reaches social maturity (usually around the age of 2 or 3), when one cat comes home from the vet or if the cats view their resources as insufficient to share.   The behaviors you might see include chasing, swatting, hitting or ambushing.  You might also notices one cat sits directly in the path of the litter box or food bowl or waits outside the litter box to attack as the other cat tries to leave the area.  Other signs your cats might be having territory disagreements would be having stare downs, posturing and moving slowly while starting, blocking access to food and water, finding alternate locations to urinate or defecate, marking the perimeter of the home or major walkways(face rubbing, scratching or spraying), or one cat always leaves a room when another walks into the room.  Many of these signals go unnoticed so as the owner you may have to play detective.

Redirected aggression

Redirected aggression happens when your cat is frustrated that it cannot attack something and he will turn and attack the closest cat (or human) he can.  A neighbor cat visiting your yard, for example, could make your cat upset about his territory being invaded.  Since he cannot get out and attack the stranger in the yard he will take that energy and anger out on his housemate.  Cats will also redirect onto humans or anything moving (like a housemate) if they haven’t had enough play time.  There is also the potential for a redirection if your cat is suddenly startled and attacks the closest thing to him out of fear.

Defensive aggression

When a cat feels that he cannot escape from an attack he will choose to either freeze or fight.  The defensive cat will hiss, growl or scream to keep the attacker away.  He will fall to the ground, show his teeth, pull his ears and whiskers back and get his paws in the air ready for protection.  What can happen in multi-cat homes is a cycle of behaviors.  We often will not know the original incident that starts the cycle so it may take some investigation.  When one cat is attacked over a territory dispute or is a victim of a redirected attack (and therefore confused why she was attacked) she will be wary of the other cat and will often run away from him.  As she runs, his desire to chase her becomes even stronger.  Pretty soon the cycle of running and chasing has been established even without a precipitating event.

Separate the cats and follow the same instructions in the article on Introducing a New Cat.    Modify the environment.  Do not punish cats any cat that is involved; this will may lead to further aggression between cats and fear or aggression towards you.  See a veterinarian for a full examination on both cats and treat any injuries to prevent infection. In severe cases, talk with your veterinarian about supplementing your behavior plan with medication.  NEVER medicate your cat with consulting a veterinarian.  Many over the counter and prescription medications are harmful or even fatal to cats.

If after trying these suggestions you are still experiencing undesirable behaviors in your cat, SUBMIT QUESTIONS by clicking the link under Ask A Trainer on the Behavior and Training page of our website.

 

 


Mar 6 2015

Managing Your Kitten’s Rough Play

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The first step with any behavioral issue is to take your cat to the veterinarian for a full evaluation.  Cats are very stoic animals and will hide illness and injury.  Sometimes our only clue that something is physically wrong is a behavioral symptom.  Many behavioral modification programs can begin in conjunction with or shortly after your trip to the veterinarian.

Kittens love to play but kittens also NEED to play!  Kittens use play to explore the world, learn social skills and practice hunting.  Chasing, pouncing, biting and kicking are all normal ways that cats and kittens play with objects and with each other.  For a young kitten up to a few years old, you ideally should have 3 to 4 scheduled play sessions a day.

Typically, kittens adopted in pairs or who have had adequate time with their siblings will learn appropriately to not bite and to retract their claws to keep from hurting their playmates.  They will learn stalking and hunting behaviors by playing with toys.  You should be using interactive toys to play with your kitten several times a day and you should be leaving smaller toys laying around for them to explore while you are away.  The most popular interactive toys are wand toys with a long string that ends in a feather, mouse or another toy.  You should also consider purchasing interactive feeders for your kitten to bat around and receive a portion of her daily kibble or treats throughout the day.

You should be the one setting rules and boundaries for your kitten.  Make sure everyone in the house is aware of the kitten’s rules and inform guests as well.  One of your rules should be that the kitten is NEVER allowed to play with hands, feet or any other human body part.  Allowing this behavior will lead to injuries and aggressive behavior towards humans.  It is a very important lesson for your kitten to learn when it is appropriate to play and what things are appropriate to use as toys.

It is not uncommon for a kitten or young cat to test the boundary of acceptable vs unacceptable playing.  As a parent, your job is to clearly enforce that line and redirect the kitten’s play to an acceptable target.  For example, if your kitten has previously been encouraged to bite and kick human hands you will need to redirect that need onto a soft toy that is about the same size as your kitten.

Scheduled play times are very important.  You should be initiating play with your kitten several times a day, ideally BEFORE your kitten decides to pounce on you to get you to play.  It might be helpful to keep track of your kitten’s favorite times to play and schedule your play session 20 to 30 minutes before that time.   A natural schedule for a cat would be to play, eat, groom and then sleep.  Use this pattern to your benefit especially if your kitten wakes you up at night wanting to play.

Encourage your kitten to play by dragging a toy along the floor for her to pounce on or throw a toy across the room for her to chase.  Keep things interesting by changing the toys you use each day and putting away the interactive wand toys when you are finished playing.  Provide small toys, ping pong balls and plush toys to wrestle with when you are away.  When you are using the interactive wand toys, mimic the movements for live prey to encourage hunting behaviors.

Discourage your kitten from inappropriately playing by withdrawing your attention.  If your kitten starts playing too roughly stop the play session.  Say “ouch” in a high pitched voice and leave the room if your kitten bites or scratches you.  The kitten will quickly learn what behaviors make you end the play session.  She may continue to test how rough she can play so be consistent in which behaviors cause the games to end and which behaviors cause you to leave the room completely.  Be sure to reengage your kitten in a play session after a short break.

Do not attempt to tap, flick or hit your kitten.  Any form of physical punishment will lead to fear and further aggression from your kitten.  Even picking her to move her to a time out room could be reinforcing her behavior.  That is why YOU should be the one to leave the area.  Be sure to clean all wounds thoroughly and consult a doctor for severe bites.

 

If after trying these suggestions you are still experiencing undesirable behaviors in your cat, SUBMIT QUESTIONS by clicking the link under Ask A Trainer on the Behavior and Training page of our website.

 


Jul 14 2014

Meet Wayside’s First Canine Behavior Modification Specialist

Gabby Muñoz began her new position at Wayside Waifs in May. Along with overseeing Wayside’s behavior modification and enrichment programs, she also works with the most challenging dogs to make them adoptable. Gabby works with one of our Waifs

Gabby received her Master of Science degree in Biology, with Zoology concentration, from Western Illinois University. Before joining Wayside she served as head of dog training at Dog Pawz Day Care in New Orleans. Most recently, Gabby was a zoo keeper at the Kansas City Zoo. She has two adopted cocker spaniels, Wylie and Brando and has been a volunteer at Wayside since last May.

Gabby has created a new series of dog training classes at Wayside. Check out our website to learn more about these classes and to sign-up for upcoming sessions.

Written by: Trish Stinger
Web Marketing Manager
Wayside Waifs


Jan 20 2012

The Amazing Transformation of Izzy

The day Izzy was rescued

The day Izzy was rescued

Commitment…  Patience…  Unconditional love…  Acceptance…  Powerful words with serious meanings.   But, all must become a basic way of life for anyone who is considering adopting a puppy mill rescue.  Some puppy mill rescues may eventually become fairly “normal” dogs, but others’ spirits have been so battered and broken that they will never truly recover, leaving them with permanent physical and/or psychological scars that will affect them for the rest of their lives.  Some will come with medical issues due to lack of proper nutrition, veterinary care and sanitary housing, while others will be plagued with psychological issues, most commonly an intense fear; both of people and of new situations.  And, due to their endless confinement, all will have a lack of understanding of the appropriate protocol for elimination.  Many will get better, but far more will not.  At least not completely.  But, now, thanks to the rescue efforts of Wayside Waifs, many puppy mill rescues are being given a second chance at life in a home where they will know love unlike anything they could ever imagine. 

 It was November 3, 2009 when 21 frightened and horribly neglected dogs were rescued by Wayside Waifs from their previous lives of pain and misery at a puppy mill in Camden County, MO.   As I watched them being impounded that day, I found that my heart was especially touched by two emaciated poodles; one gray and one cream colored.  It brought tears to my eyes to see their dirty matted fur, their incredibly long toenails, their filthy, rotten teeth, the wounds on their bodies from having to fight for their food, their swollen and stretched out mammary glands, and their wasted and worn out bodied from years of over-breeding.   And, more heart-wrenching still was seeing the dreadful fear in their eyes as they stood trembling at the uncertainty of their fate.  No matter how gentle the touch or how softly and kindly the words “It’s going to be OK” were spoken to them, they still could not comprehend that they were safe and that they were now beginning their journey to a life that would be filled with goodness.  In their frightened little minds, the past had proven to them that only bad things ever happened, so how could this scary new world be anything but a continuation of their previous life in hell?  Fortunately for them, time was on their side, and each would be allowed to adjust to their new-found freedom at his or her own rate.  Over the next couple of weeks I would often visit with my two little favorites; the gray and cream colored poodles, along with several others too.  I would spend some time just being with them every day, trying to help with their socialization, always telling myself that they would all be going to wonderful, loving homes, and that I would have to let them go, because the two dogs I already had at home were enough. Eventually, each of the rescues began their migration from the holding side of the building over to the adoption side, and one by one they started leaving Wayside, to a new and better way of life. 

It was one day in late November when I went to visit with one of the poodles that I found she had a new “roommate”, because her previous little buddy had recently been adopted.  Who was this pitiful looking schnoodle, and how in the world did I miss seeing her before now!!!?  “Darma”, as she was named by the staff, was cowering in the corner, pressing hard against the wall, trying to get as far away from me as she possibly could.  I reached out to let her sniff my hand, but coming from a place where no human contact had likely ever been kind, she had no intention whatsoever of coming anywhere near me.  But, Whispers, the cream-colored poodle, would now readily approach me, so I just continued to visit and snuggle with her, allowing Darma to skeptically look on from the security of her corner.  She looked so sad and lonely huddled there in the corner, but in all honesty, it was the sorrowful, pleading look in her eyes which, in the end, totally captivated me.  Regardless of everything I had told myself about not needing another dog, I really knew from the very first moment I saw her that she would eventually be coming home with me.  And, thanks to Wayside, I have come to discover a reciprocal love from an adorable puppy mill rescue who has come to mean the world to me.

So, I read as much as I could about adopting a puppy mill rescue, and after purchasing a couple of baby gates and placing a dog crate with the door left open in every room of the house, (so she would always have a safe haven close by), I thought I was well-prepared to bring home the newest member of my family.  I quickly learned, however, that nothing I had read had fully prepared me for life with a puppy mill rescue.  On the day of her adoption I went to her kennel, slowly opened the door, and gently lifted her out, at which point she immediately began to fight to get away from me.  So, I clutched her tightly to my chest, and just sat down on the floor with her and spoke to her in a calm, soothing voice, and once she relaxed and ceased to tremble I felt we were ready to go home.  I placed her in a travel crate, knowing that the car ride home would be particularly frightening for her, and that confinement while in the car would be the best option.  Nearly everything she would encounter now would be completely new to her, and for her, every one of those things would be absolutely terrifying.  It was heartbreaking to see the almost constant fear that she was suffering, but I was certain that, over time, she would eventually overcome those fears.  There would be progress.  It would be slow, but there would be progress.  Dedication…  Commitment…  Patience…  Unconditional love…  Acceptance: Progress… 

I immediately found that she didn’t actually need a crate in every room.  The only crate she ever would flee to was the one that she sleeps in every night.  Every “first” for her was incredibly difficult, and many of her fears of those “firsts” remained fears throughout the “seconds”, “thirds”, “fourths” and beyond.  The first time I put a leash on her she flopped around like a fish out of water, but it didn’t take her very long to adjust, and now she walks on leash really well.  Progress…

Her reaction to every new experience was to bolt, not really knowing where she was bolting to, or if the path that she was choosing was safe to take or not.  Everything she experienced initially sent her scurrying; the vacuum, television, doorbell, dishwasher…  She no longer runs to hide from any of those things, although she does still prefer to keep her distance from the vacuum.  Progress…  Rain, snow, walking on the grass, or just being outside, were all horribly frightening to her at first, but now she loves to go out in the back yard, as long as I go out there with her.  Progress…  Once-in-awhile she still will have an accident in the house, but that is rare, so in that regard she is getting better.  Progress…  She has even learned what “go potty” means, and knows to eliminate at that prompting.  But, if I take her outside and she doesn’t actually need to go at the time, she will still squat when I say “go potty” and then come running over to me to receive her snuggles and praise.  She’s no dummy!  And, as terrifying as the first few baths were for her, she really doesn’t mind bathing now at all.  I found that giving her treats while bathing her provided her with something she desired to such an extent that she would willingly tolerate a bath, if she had to, in order to receive those treats.  Now, every time I even just pull back the shower curtain, she comes running into the bathroom and puts her paws up on the side of the tub – just in case it happens to be her bath/treat time.  Progress… 

Izzy today

Izzy today

I am fortunate in that I can take Darma (now *Izzy) to work with me every day.  Her comfort zone is under my desk, and although that is where she stays all day, except for when we go out for a walk, I still feel it is better for her than being at home, alone in her crate all day.  *So, how did Darma come to be known as Izzy?  When Izzy first came home with me, she still had her puppy mill look – a skinny, frightened pooch with dirty matted fur.  So, I thought that this “not quite beautiful on the outside yet” little girl needed a beautiful name, so I named her Isabella.  So, I groom, and I try to get her to the “beautiful” look, but after every bathing and grooming she immediately shakes her body and rolls around on the ground, only to rise up looking terribly scruffy and completely unkempt.  So, I decided that shortening her name to Izzy was more fitting to her crazy and cute, yet messy and disheveled look.

Nothing makes me happier now than to see her running at full speed around the back yard, sometimes chasing after my other schnoodle, and sometimes just running for the sheer pleasure of being able to run free.  Progress…  She is my constant companion, and in the comfort of her home, her eyes are bright, her stubby little tail is constantly wagging and she runs and plays like any “normal” dog.  Progress…  But still, whenever she encounters other people, or faces new situations, she reverts back to being that scared and distant recluse that made her way into my heart back on that cold November day. 

Oftentimes, when she is sitting on my lap, I will look into her soulful and hurt-filled eyes, and wonder of the fear that is behind them, and the painful memories that time can never erase.  It infuriates me that she, and so many like her, have been forced to endure a life filled with horrible torture and unspeakable pain, all so that some selfish, greedy breeders can make a buck.  Yes, hundreds have been saved, but sadly, thousands remain imprisoned, daily suffering a fate that is far worse than death.  We can’t give up on them.  Wayside Waifs will not give up on them.  One by one by one we will do our best to offer these survivors the life that they deserve.  And, to all of the other Izzys out there – We will not forget you.  We will not abandon you.  We will not stop fighting for justice for you.  We will not.  WE. WILL. NOT.  Progress…

 

Written by Karen Brown
Lead Development Associate at Wayside Waifs


Nov 28 2011

Find Grrr-eat Gifts at Whiskers & Wags!

Looking for the purr-fect gift for your kitty?  Does your dog crrr-ave toys that keep him busy?  Whiskers & Wags, Wayside’s Pet Boutique has grrr-eat gifts for your furry family members!  We just received several new holiday toy items in the store, as well as new leashes and collars!   Proceeds from all purchases benefit the animals at Wayside Waifs!

Check ‘em out!

A fun assortment of dog rope toys that will keep your pooch busy for hours! Price: $10 ea.


Naughty or Nice?  You decide!  Each ball has nice on one side and naughty on the other. So fun!  Price: $1 ea.


Colorful plush dog toys are tail waggin’ fun! Price: $5 ea.


For our feline friends these zany cat bouncers feature a fun mouse attached to a “springy” tree. They are guaranteed to be the cats meow!  Price: $5 ea.


These are sure to be a hit!  Handpainted ornaments feature different breeds of cats and dogs! Quantities are limited and new ones are coming in each week!  Price: $10

Shop Whiskers & Wags, located in the Harold & Marilyn Melcher Pet Adoption Center at Wayside Waifs!

Store Hours:
Wednesday – Friday: 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday -Sunday: Noon to 6 p.m.


Sep 29 2011

Meet Bandit!


Hey there everyone! I’m a super handsome and sweet lovebug named Bandit, and am so happy to meet you! I am a 4 year old, 79 pound Dalmatian/Pointer mix, and I’m waiting for a brand new home. Actually, I’ve been waiting awhile now, so very patiently in my kennel, for you to come for me. I break the hearts of some of the volunteers here as they’ve watched me do this waiting game thing. I just stand at the door of my kennel, oftentimes with a toy in my mouth, and I wait.

I’m such a nice and good looking dog! My looks are stunning, what with my black and white coat, adorable face, and cute little paws that prance with joy. I’m at least partially housetrained too, because I know to go to the bathroom as soon as I get outside! I may need a refresher when we get home, but I’m well on my way. I’m trying to do everything I can to be a good boy and hope that someone will want to take me home.

I came to Wayside as a transfer from another shelter where they didn’t have enough room for me. I’m happy to be here, don’t get me wrong, but what I really need is a real home. It’s hard to get a good nights sleep here at the shelter and it’s hard for me to relax in my kennel. I am well behaved, though, and I don’t jump around and bark and act crazy like some of the dogs do. Still, I do want you to notice me. Please?

I am strong, athletic and active. And at 4 years old, I am in the prime of my life! I love to go out for walks, although sometimes I get excited and pull on my leash. I do much better with a harness, if my pulling is a problem for you. Being stuck in my kennel all day just isn’t the life for a dog like me, that’s why I get so anxious and pull. After a run in the park, I calm down quite nicely and don’t pull nearly as much.

I’m quite friendly, social, gentle and playful. I know how to sit for my treats. I love people, but I do have a little bit of an independent streak in me, too. This isn’t a bad thing, because it means I won’t be constantly bugging you for attention. I can keep myself entertained, as long as I have a few toys and room to play. I happen to love to play FETCH! I’m great at the game, too by the way. I always love to have a toy in my mouth. It is calming for me, and it shows that I’m always ready for a game! Because I like my toys so much, I would probably do best in a home without children under 12. I’m not the best at sharing, and small kiddos don’t always understand that. It is called ‘resource guarding’, but, it can be a really easy thing to work with me on. Trainers and adoptions counselors at Wayside have information about how to help me get over my need to guard my favorite items.

As far as other dogs go, I can sometimes be a wee bit bossy. I’m not afraid to show other dogs that I like to be in charge. Because of this, I definitely need to meet any other dogs you have before we all go home together. Of course, my dream home would have me as their only dog. And I think I’ll be enough to keep you happy and loved, so you won’t miss not having another dog around.

The other day, I was chosen to be the Wayside greeter dog, welcoming all the customers to Wayside. You have to be a volunteer favorite to be chosen for this important job. And I was a true gentleman, calm, cool, and collected. I enjoyed the attention, showed off my tricks, loved it when people commented on my cuteness. And when a thunderstorm rolled in, I wasn’t phased a bit. Nope. No fear of thunderstorms from this boy! Unfortunately, you didn’t come for me that particular day, maybe you stayed away because of that storm, but I know you will come soon. I have faith in you.

I’m a pretty simple boy, just looking for a family to be a part of. Daily exercise, fresh water and food, a clean dog bed, someone to pet me and tell me I’m a good boy…that all sounds so wonderful. And in return, I’ll be the most loyal of companions to you! I will be grateful to you and love you with everything I’ve got. No one will try harder than I will! What do I need to do to have you stop by and meet me, instead of passing me by? Until you come, I’ll continue to wait here in my kennel.

Love, Beautiful Bandit

ps WATCH MY VIDEO!


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