About Me

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My name is Lesli Hyland. In my fifty one years on this earth, my home and my heart have been graced with the company of twenty four dogs. Many came to me as seniors. All of them taught me something and helped determine the course of my life. I became a dog trainer because of them. I met my friends because of them. My husband and I are are forever bonded by our mutual connection to them. Currently, as a Dog Walker I have access to other people's dogs and I am allowed to experience their unique personalities. The dogs make me a better person by forcing me to closely examine my motivation, my actions and my choices. Everything I do affects their behavior, safety and happiness. It is an awesome responsibility. The dogs keep me honest.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy new Year

Where does the time go? Another year behind us - wow! 
Another chance to start anew!  Yes!
This blog will look back on the year and look forward to next year...

Red Dog Solutions - 2013 was our 3rd successful year of operation at the Woodstock Ave., Rutland, VT location.  I have grown attached to this training space. Its friendly atmosphere makes up for its shortcomings. I am looking forward to meeting new friends and training with old friends in 2014!

In February James came to live with us.  He is such a good boy.
We adore him.  

 In April we lost our Belle.  There are no words and no way 
to fill that void. Miss you Red Dog.

 In May my friend Kelly and I took a road trip to Indiana to pick up her new puppy, Feather.  It was a great trip.  Our collies Tawnie and Shane came with us and were fantastic travel companions.  Feather is mischievous, smart, and beautiful.

 In July Tawnie became a certified therapy dog.  She is made for the job.  Who would've thought the bedraggled, traumatized dog off the streets would learn to love people so much?

My husband Brian and I celebrated out 18th year of marriage in August 2013! Marriage is not easy.  Nothing worth having ever is.  A shared set of values...enjoyment of the same activities and the independence to enjoy separate activities...love, respect and the ability to say "I'm sorry" have gotten us this far!
The dogs are a great buffer as well.  Its really hard to stay mad at a man who is singing to the dogs...
In October we became the caregivers of a Momma dog and her 4, two week old puppies. We named the scrawny, shy, scared Momma, Kenzie (hoping she might grow into her brave and beautiful NCIS-LA namesake).  The pups naturally followed the theme, being named Hetty, Callen, Dekes and Sam.  Caring for the family kept us very busy and offered much needed distraction through what turned out to be a very LONG November. The pups were all placed into great homes - Hetty taking the longest, staying with us until she was 12 weeks old and stealing our hearts! 

In November we lost Pogo...my heart...my soul...my inspiration.

Also in November we came very close to losing our baby dog, Mamacita - Three very scary weeks in our lives .
Cita went into acute kidney failure from an unknown cause and then her liver also became challenged. 11 days in the vet hospital and daily visits there after being released, turned our lives into a surreal 'wait and see' world.  Currently she is in full recovery - a miracle really. 
Pogo's death in the midst of this was a blessing in disguise.

I truly was not sure I would be able to tolerate life without Pogo, but coming so close to losing Cita at 2 yrs of age, put the death of Pogo at 15 1/2 into perspective.  Even in  death Pogo was still teaching me things. 


December brought the holidays and with it our newest family member Cici! Our nephew Josh married this beautiful woman in July (my sis in law, Brenda, Brian and I drove to SC for the wedding) and they came to VT for  the holidays.  She's definitely a keeper Josh...
she makes a mean coquito.

And so that brings us to 2014...
My goals:
1.  Get Kenzie healthy (physically and mentally).
2.  KEEP Mamacita healthy.
3.  Teach Tawnie to BOW on verbal cue only.
4.  Create a fun trick routine with Cubby and Lupie.
5.   Train a whistle recall for Tucker or convince Brian to do so!
6. Be kind whenever possible and remain mute when impossible.
7.  Train Tawnie the Level 3 Rally exercises.
8. Develope Cita's amazing agility potential.
9.  Be the best wife, daughter, sister, friend, trainer, teacher...person... I can be. 
10.  Exercise (my dogs and myself) as much as I can.   
11.  Eat more vegetables.
12.  Drink less, but enjoy it more.
13.  Spend less time on Facebook.
14.  Finish my novel.
15.  Forgive myself when I fall short of these goals, but keep trying!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013


James:  I don't feel good.  I HATE "go for a ride"
Me:  I know buddy, but you like
        "go for a walk", right?
James: "Walk?" (lifting his head)
Me: We're here!Good boy not to puke in my car!
James: (nose twitching) Smells...interesting here! 
Me: Let's go.
James: Hey, Mom, look!
Me:  That's bear poop JJ.
James: Can I eat it?
Me: Sorry, dude.                                                                        
James: (sigh, trots along with me)  Hey, Mom, look!
Me:  Yup, deer prints
James:  We should follow them!
Me:  Lets stay on the path.  There are more good sniffs up ahead.
James: OK...you're right!  Bunnies!!! Gulp
Me: A little bunny poop won't kill ya.
James: gulp...gulp...gulp
Me: I said a little!  Come on, move along. Here get a drink in the stream.
James: I like the way the water feels on my feet. Let's stand here for a while.
Me: You look like you're posing for a picture.
James: (smiles)
Me: Time to move on.
James: Hey, Mom, look!
Me:  Yuck!  Racoon poop - Don't roll in that!
James:  Are you kidding?  It smells so delicious!
Me:  It means a bath when we get home...
James: (rolling) Totally worth it. Thanks Mom.
Me: (sigh) Sure thing, buddy.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Imagine for a moment that your four year old son is attacked by an out of control child at the playground.  The child hits and kicks your child, scaring and hurting him.  As a result, your previously socially outgoing son, now yells and throws a tantrum when another child comes near him.  Sometimes he yells at the other child.  Sometimes he tries to run away, thrashing against your restraint.

Here's some advice:
Force your child to sit on the ground and tolerate a child coming close.  If he is terrified and thrashing, hold him down.
Slap your son and yell at him when he gets "aggressive" toward an approaching child.

Would you follow this advice?    I surely hope not!

But people are given this advice regarding their dogs' behavior all the time...AND THEY FOLLOW IT!  Blows my mind.  And makes me very, very sad. Most people don't want to hurt their dogs. They do it because a "professional" told them to.  Dogs view this treatment from human beings as an attack.  Isn't that what CAUSED the issue in the first place?

Some dogs don't even need an actual scary event to occur to become defensively aggressive toward other dogs.  Lack of socialization and exposure can cause a dog to be fearful of what they do not know and result in "aggressive" displays as a coping strategy.

How can it possibly make sense to cause our dogs fear, pain and emotional stress as a way to stop behavior that is fueled by fear, pain or emotional stress???  Ay yi yi...

Please stop and think before implementing any advice given by anyone, regarding your dog.
If you wouldn't do it to your child, don't do it to your dog.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hey boo boo, I see you.

   I had the strangest experience last night.  I woke up hearing Pogo walking around out in the kitchen.  I jumped up to get him outside...just in case... He was moving quickly, differently than his shuffling gate of late.  He maneuvered the deck and stairs with more ease than I've seen in a long time.  He moved around the yard at a good clip but did not "go".  We came back inside, but he was still revved up.  
   I sat on the floor and watched as he paced around the kitchen island (memories of his mother, Gillie), but occasionally Pogo would pause in his loop and LOOK AT ME.  I mean REALLY LOOK AT ME.  His head was up and there was a clarity in his expression.  At one point he stopped in front of me, leaning into my petting, then reached up and licked my face before continuing his pacing. 
   I gave him one more chance to "go" outside, (which he did not), then I put some food in his dish which he ate all of.  I went back to bed, listening for his footsteps which ceased fairly quickly.  Sneaking out for a peek, I found him lying on his dog bed. 
 Lying back on my own pillow I felt like I had been given a gift.  
   Brian says maybe he was sleepwalking, dreaming of younger days.
I think something physiological occurred in his brain, giving him a shot of adrenaline 
and a brief period of consciousness. Either way...I am thankful 
that I was able to have him back with me...
if only for a moment.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Personalities vs Training

We have a very varied canine family. We have a Chihuahua, a Chi/ Rat terrier cross, a Cattle dog cross, a Farm Collie cross, a Vizsla, a Beagle and a Corgi cross.  That means we have representatives from the toy, herding, hound, terrier,  and sporting dog categories.  Those groups have very different canine personalities, due to the jobs they were designed to do.
Hounds are driven by scent.  They are single minded when it comes to food and usually good with other dogs because they hunt in packs.  They are generally happy dogs.
Terriers are rat killers so they are quick, tough and tenacious.  They can be a wee bit snarky with other dogs.
Herding dogs are smart, easy to train, quick to make decisions and can be controlling because they need to think on their own somewhat to control livestock.  They are often the "fun police" when other dogs start running or playing.
Toys are dogs that have been bred down in size to be portable companions.  They are very people oriented and can be easily spoiled.
Sporting dogs are energetic, busy dogs that enjoy an active lifestyle, working closely with people.

So how do all these different dogs co-exist in my household?  Carefully!  Obviously I have no breed requirements when I adopt or purchase a dog.  Nor does age or health deter me from adoption.  If I can help an older or medically challenged dog, I am happy to do it.   My only criteria is that everyone gets along.  That means that a dog must enjoy other dogs or be easily convinced to ignore them! 

I think my success in that avenue is due in a large part to environmental management and slow introductions when a new dog joins the group.  I do not believe in just letting dogs "work it out".  Initial interactions can leave a lasting impression that is hard to over come.  I don't see the point of forcing a dog out of their comfort zone, by allowing unstructured interactions.  Once a dog has been scared by another it is harder for them to relax in that dog's presence.I go slow, giving new and established dogs space.

I also do not let my heart over shadow my brain when it comes to keeping or adopting a dog.  I WILL NOT live in home where dogs need to be kept apart all the time or where one dog is stressed by the presence of another.  I have sent many a foster dog onto other families in spite of being very attached to the dog.  If they don't fit in, my attachment is not a valid reason to keep the dog. 

Jenny pup was one such dog.  I adored her as did Brian, but the rest of the household thought she was a real pain in the ass! :-P She was TOO MUCH puppy for my other dogs.  She is loved by her two Moms in a household with one other dog who can deal with her intensity.
Dixie was another.  Heartworm positive...raising a litter of pups...so affectionate with people...But my dogs avoided her like the plague in spite of the fact that she never displayed any overt aggression.  I listened to them and she was placed with a hound savvy owner through the shelter.
Little One was a teenie chihuahua we fostered at the same time as Lupie.  Though Lupie was really not the dog that pulled at my heart strings, she is the one we kept.  Little One was terrified of Brian. With alot of time and work we could've increased her comfort level, but in the mean time she would have been living with alot of stress. Plus, her fear of Brian really hurt Brian's feelings!  We placed her with a single Mom who had a couple other toy dogs.  She blossomed there. And Lupie blossomed here - afraid of nothing and able to hold her own in this multidog household.

Some might ask if as a dog trainer shouldn't I be able to train any dog to fit into our household?  Perhaps...but there are a lot of dogs and a lot of families out there.  I don't see the point in trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Training can only take you so far.  A dog's personality is what it is.  Not all dogs get along well with each other. They are no different than human beings.  I can learn to get along with almost anyone if I have to for work or a project...but I wouldn't want to live with them!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

      "Seven dogs?!       Are you crazy?!"

My response to this common question is a demure "Seven IS alot..."

Brian usually grins proudly and says "We're DOWN to seven.  We had EIGHT until recently"

I'm glad Brian is proud of our family.  I am too!  But because of who I am and what I do, I am always thinking of public education and the welfare of our companion dogs.  I don't want people to think that having multiple dogs is easy.  It is not for everyone.  In fact it is not for most people.  Brian and I have unique jobs.  We both work primarily from home with Brian traveling only a portion of every day and my classes, private lessons and dog walks taking me away from the house for short stretches of time.  Brian can take a dog with him on his sales rounds and of course I can have 2 or 3 tag along with me as well.  Our dogs aren't home alone much and never for a full work day.   We have 5 acres, tolerant neighbors, good friends who provide pet care and we make enough money to keep us all clothed, fed and in good health! 

And not to toot my own horn...but I am a professional!  Kids don't try this at home...

Seriously, living with seven dogs does require well thought out environmental and time management.  It requires the ability to read canine body language.  It requires skill in behavior modification and general training.  And it requires the willingness to make your dogs your priority. 

We have a nice home.  We keep it clean and relatively uncluttered.  But dogs pee on the floor... they vomit and get diarrhea...they destroy things...they require crates and gates that many would find unattractive.  House Beautiful is not going to call us for a photo shoot anytime soon! 

My biggest beef with people who have multiple dogs is that I truly believe that feeding, housing and loving your dogs is not enough.  They need training, exercise, time alone with you, time away from home, mental stimulation and a chance to develop a personality away from the group.  Too many people have too many dogs to adequately meet those needs.  They all need individual attention.  That is the reason I never have  more than two youngsters at a time.  Anyone that says that they can meet the training, socialization and exercise needs of more than three dogs under two years of age is delusional. 

Our dogs are 15 1/2, 11, 9, 7, 6, 5 and 2 yrs old.  Mamacita, the 2 yr old, and Tawnie, the 7 yr old, are my competition dogs.  They are trained alot, hiked alot and go to trials.  They LOVE agility, rally and freestyle  with Mom. Tawnie recently passed her Therapy dog test.

James (9), Chalupa (5) and Cubby (6) do not require much exercise (though they still get walks in addition to having access to our big fenced yard and they come to playgroup at work). James LOVES the yard and happily spends hours wandering, sniffing and snoozing in the sun. His car sickness prevents long trips but we are working on it! Chalupa goes hiking with the big dogs sometimes and on long walks with Cubby on Flexi leashes. We do a little bit of agility and trick training.  She LOVES doing errands in the car.  Cubby was in a High School play last year - he LOVED the time alone with Mom during rehearsals and the show . I am considering therapy work for him. He will be great.

Tucker(11) has some specialized behavioral needs.  He goes to work every day with Brian to help him live comfortably with his severe separation anxiety.  He LOVES riding in the car.  He also LOVES hunting frogs at the pond and Brian is happy to take him on weekends, in addition to short walks and swims during his sales rounds.

Pogo (151/2) has different needs.  He gets confused easily.  He needs encouragement to eat.  He needs patient handling.  He is stiff and sore, so cannot travel in the car comfortably.  His exercise is slow walks on our lane and toddling around the yard.   He LOVES me and he has me, completely.  

Seven dogs IS alot, but it works for us.

Thanks to Amanda McGuire Photography for the photo!


Thursday, May 9, 2013


At the end of May my friend Kelly and I will be hittin' the road, headed for Indiana!  Kelly's new Collie puppy awaits us there!  Shane and Tawnie will be tagging along for the ride. 
Need to start making lists!
secure dog food containers...meds...water/bowls...sheets to keep dog fur off the hotel beds...treats...
crate for pup, collar, leash, toys, cleaning supplies, blankie...

Oh and I guess we'll need some stuff for us too!  :-)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Our Lady in Red

It has taken me a while to feel like I can put into words the reality of Belle's death.  As long as it seemed impossible, unreal, unfathomable...it was bearable.  But as time marches on, the alien feeling of not seeing her on the couch...the empty sense of purpose, not needing to constantly keep her covered in blankets...the absence of her sitting in anticipation in front of her bowl at meal time...
It has all become the new normal.  And as the ghost of her presence in our home becomes less glaring, the truth of her being gone becomes more so.
Belle is gone.  She is dead.
We will never again be rendered helplessly breathless from her frantic kissing.
We will never hear her plaintive "Where's my blankie?" whine.
We will never watch her run with abandon through the fields.
We will never see her greet other dogs in her silly, crazy, submissive way, sliding up to the dog on the side of her neck with her rump in the air.

                          We will never dance together again.

Her enthusiastic, somewhat spastic, backward circle around me...
Her joyful spins...Her pretty heeling...I find myself clinging desperately to pictures and video.
They will never adequately represent our Belle.  But they are all we have left.
Miss you red dog.  Love you.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring = Agility!

This Agility season will be very different.  Belle is gone.  Tawnie is my only trial ready dog (barely).  Mamacita is a work in progress.  I am excited about training with these two VERY different dogs.
Switching handling gears can be difficult when you are working with dogs that need completely different motivation!  I hope I am up to the challenge!

Tawnie has alot of potential to be a dependable team mate.  But she is a bit too handler focused and very sensitive to my moods.  I have to tread softly and carry a bit stick of cheese!

Mamacita is a firecracker.  She is handler focused and obstacle focused - meaning she finds reinforcement in both places.  She is  super fast and very sensitive to my movement.  That means my handling has to be precise.  It will be an exciting season!


I took the dogs for a hike the other day.
We spend a lot of time there.  
The mix of fields, woods, streams and the pond make it our favorite spot.
I was afraid that it would be too hard to be there without Belle.
I shouldn't have worried.
Belle was everywhere.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Old Guy's Still Got It!

Spin to the left...
Spin to the right...
Circle around me once, twice, three times...
Follow on my left...
Come to me...
Follow on my right...
Weave thru my legs...once, twice, three times...once more...
Spin and Take a Bow...

"I'm old", says Pogo, "not dead" 

A little dancing with my heart this morning.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


My dog, Belle, has started slowing down on hikes...she sleeps alot...shows chronic stiffness...and seems a bit depressed.  There is a slight abnormality in her right eye.  There is a slight head tilt to the right.  She is weight shifting off her left side.  Accupuncture, laser and chiropractic work have not given her any significant relief.
She is not in acute distress.  She doesn't cry or complain when her limbs are stretched and manipulated...she has no fever...she is eating, drinking and eliminating normally.  Her blood work and urinalysis showed no issues.  She still plays with the other dogs. 
But she is not herself.
Yeah she's getting older - she'll be 11 in June.
But she is not herself.  She seems...worried.  That's the best way I can describe it.

It was not a surprise that her yearly 4DX Lyme test came back positive.  But when we did the follow up quantitative C6 test, we did get a surprise - a nasty one.
Any result over 35 is considered worrisome.

Belle's result was OVER 640.

Now before I freaked out, I did some research.  This incredibly high antibody count could mean that her body recently had a huge immune response to exposure to the disease.  It isn't really a measurement of "how lyme positive" she is.  The test is used to determine if subsequent treatment results in a significant drop in the number.  That tells you if treatment is successful. 

I am hoping that doxycycline will result in Belle feeling more like herself.  If it is going to help we will know pretty quickly.   I am hopeful that we can treat her lyme successfully.

I am worried that there is more going on , as is my vet. But at least we have an immediate course of action for now.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Poor Belle

I HATE it when my dog is hurting and we cannot get a definitive diagnosis or treatment plan.
Belle has battled with lameness, soreness and general discomfort for several years.  Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Laser therapy has offered little relief.  She has good and bad days.  Yesterday she presented with weight shifting off her left side on both front and back legs and also with a slight head tilt.  2 wks ago she presented with unexplained (or diagnosed) swelling around her right eye.
I fear the worst - a neurological issue.
Note her right eye appears smaller than the left -her left eye is the normal shape.

Notice her weight shift off her left side. Not as noticeable on the bed as the floor, but her right legs are perpendicular to the ground while her left legs are angled to take the pressure off them.

Please send good thoughts our way. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My dogs bite

Pogo will try to bite me if I restrain him. He has to be muzzled for grooming now. He will snap his jaws like an alligator if I have to pick him up. Bath time is a chore now. Even with a ramp, getting in and out of the car can be challenging.  He bit me in the face a few weeks ago because I held my face close to his a little too long.  I just wanted to smell him a little bit longer , you know? 
I am trying to memorize his unique grapey scent.
At 15 he is a bit senile.  He gets disoriented.  He gets scared.  Other times he acts like a puppy, prancing around, wanting to fetch or chase the other dogs.  He can't really do either any more, but he gives it a good effort and appears to be enjoying himself.  He can still do the weave poles...
In truth Pogo has never enjoyed alot of close contact.  For this reason he has never been restrained by anyone other than myself at the veterinarian's office.  He trusted me and would tolerate the handling from me. Sure, it makes me sad that in his discomfort and confusion now, I no longer have that trust.  But I adore this dog and patiently deal with his "aggression". He gave me so many wonderful years... 

Mamacita is a 16 mths old.  She was not well socialized as a puppy.  She is intense and reactive to sounds, movement, strangers, new dogs...well...pretty much everything!  She resists handling and restraint.  After 8 mths with us she is ALOT bettter.  Tons of desensitization and reinforcement for calm behavior in the presence of her triggers has made a HUGE difference. I no longer need a muzzle to do her nails - hooray!  She no longer tries to throw herself onto route 4 to chase cars! She can walk through my training room off leash and stay focused on me, rather than barking and lunging like a wild animal!  Like I said, she's ALOT better.  
But her intense personality still causes her to use her teeth inappropriately when she is hyper aroused.  She sometimes grabs my pant leg when I am rushing around the house.  If not asked to sit  first, she will grab my hand when I put it on the doorknob to let her into the yard.  She has grabbed my wrist when I have restrained her by the collar.  She looses her mind when she gets excited.  She's a little shit. :-P
We are working on her impulse control. 
On the flip side though, her intensity and quick reaction time is an advantage in Agility training. Given timely direction she is  super fast and accurate.  She is gonna be a fierce competitor.
I adore this dog and patiently deal with her "aggression".  She will give me so many wonderful years...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dogs amaze me

Tucker is 10 , almost 11, yrs old.  He came to us a year ago with a history of aggression toward the odd adult , kids, cats...and other dogs were iffy as well.  Now he lives here with 7 other dogs and a cat.  He goes to work with my husband.  He goes to work with me.  For the most part he does all that without issue.  We are careful and we know what we are doing, but honestly he is a good dog when his needs are met and his anxiety is addressed properly.  He is not all that hard to live with.  Not sure why he went through three families before landing with us.

Last night a friend, who was not feeling well, spent the night here with her 2 dogs.  Her male Collie and Tucker have been on an occasional hike together and they've had a few cross words...I was worried that Tucker would be a jerk and cause my friend (and her dogs!) angst - the last thing they needed! 
So I put up a gate or two...let the dogs into the yard in shifts and...Tucker was fine.  He knows that there is another person and two dogs here...but he is not forced to deal with the dogs and so he chooses to ignore the whole situation.

I love how adaptable dogs can be when managed correctly and given the personal space they need.
Good boy - Schmuck - Schmuck .

Friday, March 1, 2013

Feeling like a doorman

With 8 dogs in the house now I am beginning to feel like I spend an awful lot of time letting dogs in and out the door!  Especially since James can only be let out supervised or after I have scooped the yard (he likes to snack - yuk)...and Belle likes to sleep in...and Lupie needs to go out at 5:00 in the morning...and at 15, Pogo needs to be let out whenever he "asks" (pacing)...and Tawnie and Cita think that every time I stand up its time to go somewhere...
You get the picture.   Its not like they all go out in unison!
And if you recall, the adrenaline level at the door was getting a bit out of control, so its not a quick task to let them out.  It takes thought and a bit of time to make sure they are relatively polite (or at least not dangerous!)
An old friend who lives with multiple dogs, thinks I'm crazy not to install a dog door.
Most everyone else thinks I'm just plain crazy.
But I look at it this way - Sitting at the computer and sitting in front of the TV for long periods of time is not healthy, so...by requiring my doorman services, the dogs are really helping me out.

That's my story - and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sweet Baby James

James has arrived!  After a tearful handoff from Claudia in NH the ride home was uneventful. He was quiet as a mouse and did not get carsick , which I guess is an issue for him. Belle kept us company on the trip so  James would come into our group back home with her.

My plan of attack for the introductions worked great.
1.  Leave James/ Belle in car.
2.  Let my other dogs out into the yard to release their penned up energy and MOM IS HOME craziness.
3.  Put Tucker and Mamacita into my 12 X 12 kennels in the yard.
4.  Bring Belle/ James into the yard.
(interesting note that times sure have changed...Pogo would've been locked up in the good old days!  Now his age has mellowed his reactivity.  He sniffed James and that was about it)
5.  Cubby, Lupie and Tawnie followed James around as he checked out the yard, then Tawnie stuck close to me, the Chihuahuas went up on the deck (wanting to go inside-cold!) and Pogo toddled around while James marked here and there.
6.  MC and Tucker were barking like idiots.  When MC shut up I let her out of the kennel. She charged at James in her blustery, hackles up way, he ignored her and after a couple more barks at him, she decided he wasn't a monster and started playing with Belle.
7.  I took Tucker out of kennel on leash.  He was VERY interested in James in his doofy, intense way.  He kept trying to hump him (not allowed due to size, age and newness of James) and he followed James around with me trailing behind.  Eventually Tucker got bored with it all.

James was completely non-confrontational through out the entire process.  He was a saint with Tucker, who is really an idiot socially!

8.  Inside the house I let James check out his new digs then gated him in kitchen with me and rotated dogs (one or two at a time) in with us.   

9. In and out from the yard through out the day...crated for dinner and for the 1st half of Super Bowl (Bri and I went to our local bar)...Out again with all the dogs when we got home...crashed on dog bed next to my chair to watch Super Bowl 2nd half...with no one paying him any mind at all!
10.  Slept in a crate in our bedroom and is still snoozing as I type! 


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Anxious for Agility

I find myself already longing for temperatures warm enough to open up the Agility Field!  It's gonna be a long Winter!
The last few years of Agility, though enjoyable, have been twinged with sadness.  I still miss my agility partner, Pogo, and Belle's intermittent back issues have limited our training and trialing.  With Tawnie's confidence growing in leaps and bounds and her skills increasing, I am looking forward to developing our agility relationship further.  And my little brat dog, Mamacita, is turning out to be exceptionally well suited to the sport as well! 
I am really excited about the coming season!
Hurry up Spring!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Heart Talk

My dogs come to me in different ways.  Sometimes the dog needs special care or training that I know I can provide.  Sometimes after fostering a dog I suddenly realize that "Auntie Lesli" has switched to "Mom" in my heart and the dog stays.  Sometimes I am in the exact right head space to raise a puppy and I seek out that special baby.

But there is a less common, but very powerful phenomenon I have witnessed over the years.  Sometimes when I meet a dog, there is an immediate, emotional spark; a unexplainable connection.  It has happened only a few times to me.  It happened when Pogo, a mixed breed puppy was born in my spare bedroom to a pregnant foster.  It happened with Pistachio, a 14 yr old Cocker Spaniel when I met him in the shelter kennels.  It happened with Dinah, a senior Beagle when she was brought into the shelter office as a stray.

I adopted those dogs without a moment of hesitation and I enjoyed amazing relationships with all of them.
They were mine from the moment I laid eyes on them.

That instant connection happened with Tawnie as well.  Tawnie is a herding dog cross.  She was horribly shy and traumatized after being confiscated from a hoarder.  I felt that familiar "pop" in my chest and that inexplicable pull when my eyes met hers.  But in this case, I tried to think with my head instead of my heart.  I was dealing with three ailing, senior Beagles at home...it wasn't a good time to adopt a dog.  So I ignored  my gut and it had catastrophic consequences.  Tawnie was adopted out to less than capable people and she bolted shortly after they brought her home.  She spent 10 months in the woods, over a Vermont Winter, before finally being caught in a live trap.  Tawnie came home with me after that.  It terrifies me that I almost lost her.

Currently my husband and I have 7 dogs - Tawnie, of course - We estimate she is 6 yrs old now.  She is my constant shadow and has become a social butterfly!  Everyone loves Tawnie! 
Pogo is still with us.  He just turned 15!  He is my heart.
Belle and Tucker, our Vizslas, are 10 1/2.  Belle, we bought from a fantastic breeder as a puppy.  I have enjoyed every moment of our journey together. We adopted Tucker last year after fostering him.  He is my husband's dog.  He goes to work with Dad and does 'guy stuff'. He had severe separation anxiety when we took him into foster.  That has been drastically improved through medication and behavior modification. He needed us, so he stayed.

Lupie is a 4 yr old Chihuahua/Rat terrier cross.  She was adopted 3 years ago after fostering.  She was my first tiny dog and she has taught me alot about training the wee ones.  I adore her.

Cubby is a 5 yr old Chihuahaha.  He was sitting at the local shelter, not being adopted, due to his medical and training needs.  My veterinarian is a saint.  He helped me afford Cubby's double knee surgery.  We house trained him and his other supposed behavioral issues disappeared in our home.  Cubby is the cutest, sweetest, biddable dog. He lives to be in our laps and is fantastic with other animals.
Mamacita is our newest.  She is a baby at a year old.  She came to us as a pregnant foster.  It became apparent early on that though she did a good job raising her puppies and she was appropriately deferential to my other dogs, she had alot of social challenges.  I could see the potential under the reactivity.  I knew I could bring out the best in this dog. We adopted her.   She is smart and fast and funny.  She is turning into a great agility dog. 

Seven dogs is alot.  We certainly were not looking for another dog...

But this past weekend I visited my friend Claudia to bring her a rescue Vizsla she had offered to foster.  One of her dogs, James, is a 9 yr old Beagle.  I met him a year or two ago while he was still being called a foster dog in Claudia's home.  When I first met James I felt that familiar phenomenon at work, but he was safe and happy with Claudia and I had enough dogs at home, so I walked away.  I've kept tabs on James through Claudia and have enjoyed pictures of his happy face.

When I walked into Claudia's house this weekend I was unprepared  for the intense emotion that rushed to the surface when James walked into the room. Uh oh.  This is ridiculous, I thought.  He is in a great home!  But when I half jokingly offered to take James off her hands, Claudia looked thoughtful and said , "I was surprised you didn't adopt him last time you were here". Hmmmmmm.

A couple days later, after discussing it with her son, Claudia asked me if I was serious about taking James.  One of her other dogs bullies him alot and Claudia thought James might be happier with smaller dogs to play with...

So it looks like we'll be adding another dog to the family.
I have no doubt that James belongs here.

Thank you Claudia for understanding.

Thank You Brian for "getting it" as well and welcoming another mouth to feed.

Thank you to all my friends who refrained from calling me a lunatic when I told them about James (even if they were thinking it...)

Thank you Melissa of Libby's Haven for Senior Canines for giving permission for James to move from NH to his new home inVT.

More to come!