October 2000

I took Ranger for a long (half hour) walk this morning. I went the same way i always do, up Brinton/Wolfe and then left onto Mary St. I like to walk there because it's quiet and there isn't much traffic. Some white haired lady was getting into her car and she looked at us and i thought, oh, she's gonna want to come over and pet the dog and talk about dogs. Nope. She said, "You ain't allowed to walk dogs here. If i see you again i'm gonna report you." I stopped and gave her a bewildered look. I said, "But... it's a street. I'm just walking my dog on a street." She ignored me and got in her car. Boy was i mad! I wanted to go up to her and demand proof of a law that says i cannot walk a dog on Mary Street. And i wanted to know what sort of official person she was planning to report me to. I know they aren't allowed to have dogs in those apartments, but that's not the same as walking a dog on the street. I've been walking dogs there a couple times a month for two and a half years, and nobody has ever said anything before, except, "Hi."

On the way home, some ugly little dog growled and rushed at us. I yelled at him and waved my arm at him, and he left. His clueless owner was calling him back into his not-quite-fenced yard. Ranger just ignored him. Good boy! Dogs barked at us the entire way home. On the weekends, people around here get up and put their dogs in the yard and then go back to sleep for a couple more hours. And the bored dogs just bark and bark.

Brin's on my list today. When i was going to sleep last night, Ranger tried to lie down in the dog bed. Brin (who was on the real bed and wouldn't sleep in the dog bed for a million dollars) decided that Ranger was not allowed in the dog bed. He jumped up and snapped at him, really nasty. I won't tolerate that kind of behavior, so i took Brin and put him in his crate. I wasn't planning to leave him there all night, i just wanted him to see that there are consequences to snapping at other dogs. He started whining. And he didn't stop. I never let a dog out of a crate for whining because it teaches them that if they just whine long enough, they'll eventually get their way. He whined for several hours. What a spoiled brat! I can't believe i let him get so spoiled. Finally he was quiet for a few minutes and i let him out. He lay down at the bottom of the bed and didn't bug me all night.

G wrote: "mean ol' lady. tell her that's okay cos on your street there's a law that mean old ladies aren't allowed to walk there. so she'd better stay away."

K wrote: "stupid mean old coot lady! geez, i wonder what her problem is? she must've had some traumatic experience with dogs or something. i think if i had had all the trouble you've had in that neighborhood, over dogs, i would've left by now. you guys are moving sometime, right? cos it's not like that in other places, at least i don't think it is."


The humane society vet called yesterday about Ranger's pee. She said it was still bloody but there was no sign of infection, so she thinks he might have stones. She was gonna have us drop him off at the shelter so they could get more urine and possibly have him x-rayed for stones. But i told her he definitely improved on the medicine and maybe he just needs more time. I haven't had to take him out in the middle of the night for a couple nights now, and he hasn't peed in the house in a bunch of days. So she decided to give him more of the Baytril and check another sample on Tuesday, and then we'll see if we still need to do x-rays.

"if it's stones, does that hurt him? i hope he's not uncomfortable. you can never tell with dogs."

He doesn't act like it hurts. And like i said, he doesn't have to go outside nearly as often now. I'm pretty sure it was just an infection and it's taking a while for it to get completely better. The fact that it did get a lot better with the medication makes me think that's all it is. Then again, i'm not a vet. =) The vet said the second pee sample didn't show any sign of infection but was still bloody, so i could be wrong.

I put the dogs in the bedroom so Keek could come visit for a while. He's sitting on top of the AC looking out the window. Ranger is whining cos he can't see me. Remember how King used to carry my sneakers around? Well, it must be a German Shepherd thing. Ranger had one this morning. He didn't chew it, he just carried it.

Okay, i'm thinking either this dog is really smart, or somebody already taught him basic obedience. He has always come when called, even before he knew his name. But instead of just coming, he comes and SITS in front! Okay, i guess that could be a fluke. But i started working on some simple heeling and the finish (where he goes around behind me to return to heel position). After only a couple repetitions, this dog will sit/stay (only about six feet away so far), front, finish, and heel with automatic sits! And all while maintaining perfect eye contact! This was mostly on leash in the kitchen. He could still do it when i took the leash off, except he kept getting confused and ended up sitting at my right side (should be on the left, for those of you who are obedience ignorant....) =)

Anyhow, the really amazing thing is that this was all done with praise as the only reward. I have tried clicker training with him and rewarding with treats, but he's scared of the clicker, and he loses his concentration when food is involved. So i tried just saying, "Good!" as a marker, and then petting and praising him as the reward. And he did great.

So now i'm wondering, is this just a German Shepherd trait? They are bred to be obedient, biddable working dogs. Or did somebody spend the time to train him? If so, don't you think they'd be looking for him and wanting him back?

I wrote: (should be on the left, for those of you who are obedience ignorant....) =)

Gail wrote: "thanks. we appreciate it. but, what if he's left handed? then he's doing it right, right? how did he end up there? was he lost? he's young, right? it does seem strange. well, i bet somebody will be really glad to get him, either way. it will be impressive when you do that write up for him and say how smart he is."

He was a stray so nobody knows anything about him. He's probably one or two years old. He's fully grown and he's not hyper like a puppy, but he doesn't act totally like a grown-up dog. Hs teeth are clean and not worn down (supposedly that's how they guess the age).

I guess since he didn't have a collar on, his people must not have cared too much. Then again, maybe he slipped out of his collar or something. Who knows. I think most people stop looking for their lost pets too soon. I mean, they're out there SOMEWHERE. Chances are that somebody has seen them.

But... Ranger acts like he was abused. He cowers and cringes if you raise your voice. I tried to hand him a toy once and he thought i was gonna hit him. So maybe he didn't want to be found by his owner. Maybe he ran away on purpose. But then again, Echo acts like that and we never hit her. Some dogs are just sensitive.

We took another pee sample to the shelter tonight. I'm sure getting tired of doing that. Traffic was bad this time, too.


Ranger's vet called today and talked to Warren. Same as last time, his pee is still bloody but he doesn't seem to have an infection. She wants us to have x-rays done. She originally said we could drop him off at the shelter and let them deal with it, but Warren got the impression that she wanted us to do it if possible. They don't have the facilities there to do it, so they would have to find somebody to take him someplace anyway. It actually will probably save us a trip because we can just take him and bring him right home, instead of dropping him off and picking him up the next day. Warren volunteered to take him whenever, even if i can't go. He's pretty supportive about this whole dog thing, thank goodness!

Hard to believe they would go to this much trouble for a stray dog, huh? But he's a nice dog, and somebody will be glad to have him someday. I just hope he gets better. At least he doesn't have to go outside every couple of hours anymore. So i do think there was an infection and the medication helped. But i guess there are other factors too.


Mom wrote: "how's the pee situation with ranger? did he get xrays?"

We are gonna drop him off at the shelter on Monday evening and they are taking him someplace for x rays on Tuesday. Hopefully we'll be able to pick him up Tuesday evening. I feel bad for him cos i know he's gonna be freaked out.

Keek has gotten to that stage where he's sick of watching out for Ranger, so he just does whatever he wants, even when Ranger's around. Not good! Ranger seems to want to play with him. He wags his tail and whines. But he always tries to put his mouth on the cat and that is not good.

The foster dogs always become more difficult to live with somewhere around day 10-14. They start feeling better and get kinda hyper. Ranger is very mouthy and jumpy now. He's weird. He acts like he absolutely can't be separated from me, like if i go into another room and he can't follow me. But then when he has the opportunity to go wherever he wants, he almost never ends up in the same room with me. Like right now, i don't have the gate up, and he's lying at the top of the stairs. If i put the gate up so he COULDN'T come in here with me, he'd cry. I don't get it.

Did you ever see Brin do that thing where he tucks his butt and runs? He's normally really mellow, but every once in a while he gets this mischievous look on his face and you can tell he needs to run. He tucks his tail, and it seems like he tucks his whole butt, and scoots around kinda low to the ground, and spins in circles. Basically it looks like he's having a fit. It's very cute.

Well, anyway, up til now, Brin hasn't been friendly with Ranger. Echo will play tug with him sometimes but Brin just tells him to go away. A little while ago, i let them all outside to pee. All of a sudden, Brin got that look on his face. He ran up to Ranger, jumped in his face, tucked his butt, spun, and ran. And the chase was on. The two of them played for a couple minutes and they never got growly or nasty at all. It was really cute. I wish i had it on video.

I know you asked if we were planning to come home anytime soon. I'm not sure if i'll have Ranger or not. It depends what they find out at the vet and whether they need to do surgery or something. If he comes i'll bring the crate, so no big deal. He's housetrained now and pretty well-behaved, just a little whiney.


Karen wrote: "how's ol' brin butt tucker today? hehe!"

He stole Ranger's bone. I gave them each a rawhide and i was really surprised that Ranger finished before Brin. Then Echo got done too, and Brin was still chewing. Then i realized that Brin had finished his and apparently ate most of Ranger's too. Piggy.

They were crazy today, especially Brin. I was throwing a ball for Ranger (upstairs) and Brin decided that was his most favorite ball ever (he NEVER played with it before).

Well, we have to drop Ranger off tonight. Poor dog, he's gonna be so sad. He's starting to get better (behavior-wise). He's learning what "wait" means instead of charging through doors and gates. And he's a little less jumpy. It seems like if i just give him some attention when he gets like that, then he settles down. That's kinda opposite what you're supposed to do (ignore him when he's jumpy) but with this dog, it seems to work better the other way.

Poor Biggie Size. (Biggie Size is Warren's nickname for Ranger.) We took him back tonight so he can get his xrays tomorrow. We waited until close to closing time so i could hang out with him for a while first. He played with Brin and Echo, and he played ball with me, and then we took him back. He was not happy. He went into the building fine, but once we got inside, he started to shake and he leaned up against me. Everybody fussed over him and kept saying how much better he looks. That made me happy. They got his old kennel ready for him and gave him some clean blankies, and we left him there. G was there and she said she'll call me tomorrow as soon as she knows anything.

Ranger has prostatitis. I just read about it on the internet and it says, "... for most dogs castration provides almost instant relief." I had already suggested that they might as well neuter him while he's there, so they are supposed to do that tomorrow, and hopefully that will cure the problem. If that's really all it is, that's a simple fix. So we should be able to pick him up tomorrow evening. I feel bad having to leave him there for another night, but i think he'll get over it. And i bet he'll be easier to live with after he's neutered.

They didn't neuter him. I didn't talk to the vet, but we figured he still has an infection and they didn't want to do surgery because of that. So he has to take more antibiotics and he's supposed to be neutered next week. It's the same antibiotic (Baytril) but he's taking twice as much now. He was already on it for two weeks and now he's on it for another two weeks. And in 2-3 weeks they want to do another urinalysis.

If i had known he wasn't going to be neutered today, i would have gotten him last night, instead of making him stay there for an extra day for no reason (although Keek enjoyed the break). But he's back now, and he's happy. He won't eat and he has diarrhea. Apparently being at the kennel is very stressful for dogs. But he'll be back to normal soon. He just wagged his tail.

Remember how Ranger was starting fights over food? Well, he's getting worse. It was kinda my fault cos i should have known better. This morning i tried to give him his canned food in the crate, but he turned his nose up at it and just lay there looking unhappy. For some reason he won't eat in his crate anymore. Brin and Echo had already finished their breakfast and they were upstairs, so i figured it was safe to let him out of the crate to eat. Wrong. Brin and Echo heard me put the bowl down, and they ran down and tried to eat his food. He totally freaked on poor Echo, just like he did at home, only worse. Even after he got her away from the food, he just kept biting her neck. She was squealing like a little pig and trying to get away. I screamed and whacked him and grabbed his scruff and hauled him off her. She was fine, not hurt at all, just slobbery, and she didn't seem too freaked out after it was over, although she did stay away from him and the bowl (which i quickly picked up).

When i was leaving for work, i got out a handful of biscuits, just like i do every morning. Ranger decided Brin and Echo aren't allowed to have biscuits and he snapped at them both.

I decided he has to go away. He is going to be neutered tomorrow so we have to take him back tonight anyway, and we just aren't going to pick him up. I told them he's not aggressive towards people, just dogs, and only when there is food around. And i told them that if he really runs out of time, they should call me and i'll do what i can, even if i have to keep him crated almost constantly for a couple days. But it just isn't worth putting the other "kids" through all of that to try to save some dog that isn't even mine. Especially poor Echo, as sensitive as she is.

R said a couple people called in response to the ad, but they were not appropriate homes for this dog. One was an 85 year old one-legged guy in a wheelchair. Another was a lady with 2 and 3 year old kids, living in an apartment. And another guy said he had a nice insulated dog house and an electric fence. I feel guilty about taking him back to the shelter, because i know he'll get sick and won't eat, but i did what i could for him. I kept him safe for almost a month. She said she had somebody who was going to take him when we went away (although now we're not going) but she thinks that person won't take him now because of the food guarding.

It's depressing, but a person can only do so much.

Karen wrote: "something about him just scared me."

You're just not used to big dogs. The good thing is, he hasn't done anything even remotely scary to people. He's submissive to me. Moreso than my own dogs, even. He's just a troubled young man. I can totally understand why he has food issues. He was starved for who knows how long. But aside from that, he's been totally normal. He puts his head in my lap and looks up at me. If i ignore him, he lies down and waits until i'm ready to give him attention. He hasn't been whining and pacing (except when he's in the kitchen with Keek sitting up on the fridge). He's been totally normal and not agitated like he was when we were all crowded together at home. And i was hoping that he'd quit being "guardy" when we got back to N. Braddock, but he didn't.

I do feel guilty. It's stupid if he ends up being put down after all this. I mean, we could have saved him an entire month of stress and anxiety if he had been put to sleep immediately. But then i think, maybe he felt okay with me, and maybe that was the first time he ever felt safe and relaxed. So i guess it's worth it even if it does turn out that way.

We took Ranger back tonight. I brushed him first, and cuddled him. He was really sweet. I made a poster for them to put on his cage. Both printers ran out of ink when i tried to print it but luckily Warren had some spares. The trip took forever. It was raining, and there was an accident on the parkway. We were stuck for a while, and then we got off and went a different way, and it took a while. Somehow Ranger threw up in the car, even though i didn't give him any dinner. We finally got to the shelter about five minutes before they closed. As we pulled into the parking lot, we saw a fire truck, and some firemen were going into the shelter. It was a false alarm (thank goodness). There was a big iguana at the shelter and the firemen wanted it, so they said they wouldn't charge the shelter for the false alarm if they could have the iguana.

Everyone said Ranger looked great. Nobody tried to make us feel guilty for taking him back. They totally understood why we had to. All the firemen petted him (after i took the Gentle Leader off and explained that it wasn't a muzzle). I tried to give him a treat but he wouldn't take it. They put him in a big kennel in the stray room. We told them he probably won't eat and they said they'll give him canned food. I gave them his medicine and his poster, and i made sure everybody there knew that i am supposed to be called if he runs out of time. I'll take him back if i have to, but i hope it doesn't come to that.

I went back to his kennel to say goodbye. He came up to the front of the cage and looked happy. I petted him and stepped back, and he started to cry. So i left quickly and he stopped crying. I think he'll be okay.


They finished Ranger's surgery and he is doing fine. It took longer than they expected cos i guess he had an undescended testicle or something. The girl that called didn't know that he was a foster and she didn't know that i wasn't planning to pick him up today. She said the doctor will probably call me later. So i'm going to have to explain (again) that i won't be picking him up, and why. But it's okay because it will give me a chance to tell yet another person that they have to warn me if he is running out of time.

Mom wrote: "must be quiet and calm now with king, uh, rex, umm, ranger gone."

Yeah, the animals are happier than i've ever seen them, i think. But i'm worried about Ranger. I think the ad that R ran is done, and apparently nobody decent called. I'm worried that he probably isn't eating much at the shelter. I'll have to call tomorrow and find out how he is. I assume someone would have called me if he was adopted.

R just called. She said she had 15 calls about Ranger but most of them weren't quite right. Finally she found this couple with no kids, no other pets, a fenced yard, and someone home with the dog all day. They adopted him yesterday and she just checked up on them tonight, and apparently they are really happy with the dog.

She said she went to the shelter twice a day to walk him and he always went when she took him out, so he seems pretty well housetrained at this point. He was really sore after his neuter and she felt so bad for him, she was planning to foster him herself if he wasn't adopted soon. I told her i was worried that he wasn't eating at the shelter, but she said he was, and he is eating fine in his new home already. So i think maybe he was stressed out living here and couldn't eat. R also said maybe he finally was recovered from the prostate problem and felt well enough to eat.

I asked her for their phone number and she gave it to me. She said they had wanted to ask me some questions about him, but apparently she didn't give them my number. And the poster i made for his cage had my number on it too, but i never got a call, so apparently they didn't bother to put the poster up. That's really frustrating.

I'm gonna call them eventually but i think i'll wait a couple days so he has time to settle in a little. I'm really relieved. Every day i've been wondering if i did the right thing taking him back to the shelter, and i kept thinking i should probably go back and get him. But i think it was good because my own animals have been really happy since he went away, and he apparently is doing well in his new home, so everything worked out okay.


Gail wrote: "wow, you have a really good record with this, don't you?"

Well, i can't really take credit for this one, since i didn't place the ad or interview the people or anything. Yeah, it's a good record, but i mean, when you consider the alternative... well, these dogs just HAVE to be adopted. There IS no alternative, as far as i'm concerned. I won't keep them permanently, but i'll do whatever i have to do to keep them from being put down. Once i bring them into the house, they're my "kids." That's just how it is.

Mom wrote: "wow, i was surprised to hear that ranger got adopted. kinda sudden, huh? i'll bet you are relieved. so, another success. way to go. dad wants to know if you have another foster dog lined up."


I called Ranger's mom. She's great! She couldn't stop talking about him. She is the type of person that understands how much commitment it takes to have a pet and she is willing to do whatever is necessary to turn him into a good pet. She said he loves to eat! and apparently he is feeling well enough to start getting into stuff. He was trying to chew on a rug when i called. He peed once in the house right after they took him home but other than that he hasn't had any accidents, and he even asks to go out. They're having a couple behavior problems. He tries to dart out the door, and he is acting aggressive towards other dogs. The first one doesn't surprise me, but the second one kinda does. I asked her if any food was involved, but she said no. She is planning to take him to obedience classes, so that should at least help them establish some basic control over the dog, plus he would be exposed to other dogs at class so they could work on the problem with a trainer. Actually she is planning to take classes at the shelter, which means R might be her instructor, so that should be really cool.

We are going to meet sometime. We haven't decided where and when yet. I think it's really neat that she is agreeable to that. In fact, she suggested it! I invited all the other adopters to keep in touch, let me know how the dogs are doing, send pictures, etc., but so far only Sassy's mom has bothered. I should probably call all the other adopters sometime and bug them for an update. If i was really cool, i could organize a get-together of all my former foster dogs and their new owners. But i'm not that cool, i guess.


We might meet at Frick Park this Sunday. I wanted to go back anyway to let B&E run some more. They most likely won't let Ranger off leash since the stupid area is not entirely fenced, and they don't know him well enough yet to know what he'll do. I hope he is not aggressive with the other dogs there. There will probably be a bunch of dogs, cos i saw a sign last time that said there is supposed to be some kind of doggy Halloween party.

Mom wrote: "you know, i actually miss your dogs. you've been visiting so often that i got used to having them around."

Yeah, i really like having them around, too. Especially since Ranger left. I didn't realize how... suppressed, or something, they were when he was here. Now they are really animated and playful, without being annoying. It's actually hard to believe how well-behaved they are. You know, they're almost 3. I guess they grew up.


The dogs are acting like they need something to do so i think i'll do some training later. Tomorrow we're going to the park to runrunrun. I guess i should call Ranger's mom and ask her if she wants to meet then. I left a message for her a couple days ago but she never called back.