Under a Wolf Moon …

Wolf Moon

… the boys arrived on one of the last days of January.  January 30th to be exact.  “The boys” being Dawa and Jasper, 8-month old Apso pups from Morrison, Colorado and surrendered to rescue.  Because an immediate name change was in order — they were originally named “Barack” and “Obama” — I chose a Tibetan name for the foster who was to stay at our house.  During one of the first night potty runs, a brilliant Wolf Moon bathed the yard in a soft white glow.  Dawa, meaning “moon.”  It also described his little moon-pie face.  Dawa.  It fit.  And he quickly picked up the new moniker.  Much quicker than the housetraining, actually.  Like his brother, Jasper followed the same path … quick with the name but a bit slow on the housetraining.

A challenge from the minute they arrived, they tested our mettle as rescuers, dog owners and amateur groomers.  The first hurdle was getting them bathed and clipped despite their urine-soaked and feces-matted coats.  Next was integrating them into our household with other animals, family members and a set routine which included crating as part of the housetraining process.  Having never been crated before, each dog voiced his displeasure at being confined.  Loud voices … loud barking voices … loud barking voices that went on for what seemed an eternity to everyone else in the household.  Even Dante chimed in a time or two as if to say, “Knock it off … it’s my nappy time!!”  After several weeks, they both figured out that barking didn’t bring the desired results — release from the crate — and would quiet down after just a few minutes.  Finally!  Conversely, they both took to the crate at night and slept the whole night through (much to everyone’s relief).

Comparing notes on the brothers we found that Dawa was the more social of the two, easily meeting strangers.  A gentle pup, he was very content just to hang out with a toy or chew bone or roll around one of the many beds in the house.  The exception was if Frankers was up for a good morning romp, then there was a low level of chaos rumbling through.  Even I had to laugh when Dawa managed to coax the old grand dame, Ali, into playing with him.  In spite of my best efforts, I was not able to get a photo of Dawa and Frankers when they were in the recliner.  I’d come around the corner and up would pop Frankers’ head, quickly followed by Dawa’s, just to the side.  Yin and yang, ebony and ivory … and not a photo one.

Dawa was fascinated with the cat and would follow him around until the cat (Boogins) got tired of it and removed himself from the immediate area.  Boogins is pretty dog-savvy, having been raised with the breed from the time he arrived as an 8-week old kitten.  His reaction to the various fosters … or lack thereof … pretty much guarantees he’s only an object of simple curiosity.  Can’t chase a cat that won’t run, which makes him a very boring playmate.  The boys’ interaction with the cat was pretty typical of all the fosters.  Despite never having seen or been around a cat before, they all manage to get along fine.  Or at least with little concern on our part … if the cat’s not squeakin’, it’s not a problem!

Jasper was more reserved with strangers.  He especially didn’t like young, quick-moving children or loud teenagers.  He was, however, much more sharp with the training than Dawa.  Jasper and the other dogs in his household (Anne, a beautiful Border Collie, and Jackson, an Apso adopted from us) finally figured out how to play together without a brawl breaking out.  Jasper has been staying with us the past five days and the first thing I noticed was he’s much more energetic than Dawa.  Hubby calls him “spastic” but he (hubby) isn’t exactly a puppy person.  Give him an old, sedate dog and he’s perfectly happy.

Surprising to everyone was the fact we had few applications on them despite a PetFinder listing and local exposure through the newspaper.  Puppies are generally a rarity in rescue and even more so in this breed … which usually means they’re a hot commodity and are placed quickly.  That was not the case with these two which is probably just as well since it allowed us more time to work on their training issues (explaining this to our spouses after 10 weeks was a bit of a hard sell).  Not 100% reliable with housetraining but getting pretty darn close.  Not bad for two pups who had never been housetrained when they arrived in rescue.

The house is quiet tonight, having settled into its old routine.  It never ceases to amaze me how the dynamics change during the time a foster is present … be it the dogs or hubby.  Dawa was placed with a family in Longmont the end of March, giving us a couple weeks off.  Late this afternoon, I saw Jasper off to Littleton with his new family.  Gems in the rough, I have no doubt these boys will shine with a little polish in their new homes.

The Canine/Canine Bond …

Mr. Bed Head ...
Mr. Bed Head ...

The morning routine with three dogs changes very little from day to day.  Despite the fact Alan gets up some two hours before my alarm chimes,  the dogs sleep quietly in their crates until I greet the day.  Once up, the dogs are released from their crates in our bedroom and a small but colorful parade of Apsos makes its way to the back door.  Frankers excitedly prances, looking back over his shoulder to see if Ali is following, her usual ploddng self.  Dante brings up the rear … most likely with a slight detour off the hardwood into the front room to check out whatever toy was left out the night before or to goose the resident marble-brained cat.  An, ahem, well-placed nose will make him squeak loudly as he doesn’t buy into the typical canine greeting, considering it extremely rude to have a nose poked at one’s hiney!

Ali and Frankers go out immediately.  Dante — anticipating being picked up and put on a crate for banding — waits for me by the back door.  They thrive on routine, knowing what to expect as I go about making coffee and setting up their bowls for breakfast.

Having multiple dogs in the house — and one of them an intact male — came with a learning curve.  Despite the challenges, it has been an ongoing lesson in pack behavior.  One thing that became apparent early on was the canine’s innate need for interaction with others of its own kind.  While one can provide for their every need, we — as humans — cannot replicate the canine-to-canine bond.  A need that is hard wired into the canine psyche, a survival instinct sharply honed over the millenia.

'Rassling buddies ...
'Rassling buddies ...

Ali, adopted as an adult, acquired the nickname of “the Red Slug” shortly after she arrived nine years ago.  Once she adapted to the routine and activity of the household, she became … bored.  We took her places, including biking, canoeing, and on forays to PetSmart.  She had more toys than she could reasonably play with; she got to visit with my parents’ Tzu.  We worked on training.  We included her in all the assorted goings-on associated with work in our large yard.  Yet … something was still missing.  Exactly what that “something” was quickly became apparent with Franker’s entrance as an eight-month old puppy.  Infused by his energy, they became fast partners in crime and curiosity.  We couldn’t find one without the other being close at hand (and is still the case).  Wrestling matches became the canine sport of choice.  No matter the activity — or lack thereof — they sought one other out, taking comfort in each other’s presence.  As the fosters rotate in, they too are assimilated into the pack each with their own place in the pecking order. 

There’s a certain joy watching them interact … and a joy within them that’s unmistakable.  We humans tend to believe we’re the be all to end all, but I think our canine friends might disagree.  While adding a second dog will increase expenses (food, grooming, vet, etc.), the “return” is definitely worth the investment … for humans and dogs alike!

 

Happy Howlidays … or how you can help …

Welcoming Santa Paws ...
Welcoming Santa Paws ...

Thanksgiving came late this year so, a scant three+ weeks later, Christmas will be upon us.  This is about the time I start hyperventilating as I’ve literally not done a thing for the holiday preparations.  No gifts purchased — no decorations put up yet — haven’t even started my annual Christmas newsletter or my cards that I send out every year to the adoptive families.  I consider it lucky that I’ve made it this far in the year.  Between work, the house/yard, the rescues, being elected as a Board member with the national breed club, and showing Dante as a special, it has been an unbelievably busy year.

While the rest of you are making those lists and checking them twice, I would ask that you keep rescue in mind.  Besides the ever present need for foster homes, funding is always an issue.  I understand that the economy is an issue for virtually most of the people I know … at the current rate, my “retirement program” will be working as a greeter, “Hi, welcome to Wal-Mart.”    :::sigh:::

If you are interested in fostering — making a difference in the life of a dog — please contact me directly at ApsoRescue@aol.com.  However, one does not need to foster to be of assistance … 100 Ways to Help Rescue.  Granted, a few additional foster homes would be a gift from heaven for us!!  If you’d like to make a donation of some type, please contact me at the above-noted email for details. Some folks make a monetary donation at the holidays; some on the anniversary of their adoptions; others to commerate their Apso’s birthday; and yet others in memory of a beloved companion.   Please be assured that any donation of time or money is gratefully accepted.

This post would not be complete without a “thank you” to our rescue volunteers.  If you’ve adopted from us, you’ve most likely met one or both of them … Sue S. of Parker who does our metro Denver homevisits, and Michelle R. of Wellington who has been involved with fostering and assisting/attending the various functions, i.e, pet expos and what we hope is an annual picnic.  Michelle is also our very capable webmistress.  Their dedication and service to rescue is truly priceless.  With their assistance, we’ve been able to help even more Apsos and still maintain some semblence of sanity.  Thank you, ladies …

Perhaps between now and Christmas I’ll get something up for the cat to take apart and stash down in the basement under the throw rugs.  He’s particularly fond of the little gold dingleball decorations attached to the garland that finds it way to the floor with his “help.”

Incoming …

Sorry to have missed the Denver folks who were planning to come visit at the Golden Petco Expo.  Between our schedules, pressing committments, inclement weather and gas prices, we were unable to attend.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to connect with our dog families in the near future.  Seeing the little ones with their new owners is apsolutely a joy!

Last week we had a new arrival.  An owner surrender, he was relinquished for not getting along with the 19-month old baby in the house.  In keeping with tradition, he was given a Tibetan name, “Tashi,”  (Ta-shee) meaning prosperity or lucky.  Tashi will undergo a complete rescue exam and a neuter Monday morning as we get him ready to put for adoption.  

Tashi is a laid back little guy and has settled into his foster home like he’s always lived there.  Almost without fail, our fosters move seamlessly from one home to the next.  They live in the moment, accepting of whatever befalls them.  Given love, attention and the structure of routine, they quickly adapt to their new surroundings. 

Tashi, a white Apso with black mask, is three years old.  He gets along well with other dogs and, despite never having seen or been around a cat, does fine with Michelle’s cat.  Oddly enough, we find this true of the majority of our fosters.  Apsos have often been described as being “cat like” in their temperament (aloof).  Perhaps they connect on some deeper level at first meeting!  While Tashi is not crazy about his crate, he is crate trained … and housetrained.  Yes, that is not a misprint … he is housetrained.  He also loves to play ball and will entertain himself with it even after he’s worn you out throwing it for him.

If you’d like more information on Tashi, please contact me at ApsoRescue@aol.com.  He’s going to make someone a wonderful companion!