Puppy Goes Zoom

Dogs, cats, randomness–my adventures in pet ownership and fostering

Reba the Crash Puppy

Reba, our current foster dog, is affectionately known as Crashy. She runs into things. Kind of a lot. Like the time she was playing chase with a smaller dog at the dog park. He ran under the bench; she ran into it headfirst. She does zoomies up and down the hall and around the living room, and we’ve learned not to put anything fragile on a TV tray because it doesn’t stand a chance.

Apparently it’s hard being a young dog with all speed and no brakes. Or steering. Especially on a hardwood floor. On hardwood, Reba runs in place for a second or two, like a cartoon character, before she takes off.

Fortunately for the Crash Dog, we just fenced the yard in. It’s plastic mesh, so it wouldn’t actually keep her contained unsupervised, but it gives us a chance to take her out and let her run around. Doggie daycare is also amazingly useful for getting the zoomies out.

So, here are lots of pictures of Reba running and playing. It’s kind of what she does best. And, at the end, the result of all that running and playing, where she crashes on the couch and snores.

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Write a Post – Help a Dog

BlogPaws, sponsored by Pedigree, is doing a “Write a Post – Help a Dog” blogaround. Each post on the list gets a 17-pound bag of food donated to a shelter. My medium-sized dogs (each in the 50-lb neighborhood) each eat 2 cups of food a day, so that bag would feed them for a week and a half.

Debbie at Fearfuldogs has an excellent post up about reward-based training and people’s reluctance to use food rewards.

So, on the topic of training with food, I wanted to talk about my preferences for training treats. Diamond is a picky little eater, and she’s not interested in working for kibble, or for a lot of dog treats. So, I tend to go for the good stuff. Bravo makes freeze dried treats that work pretty well, and she’s definitely a fan of DogNation’s refrigerated sausage treats.

For walks, I like the shelf-stable treats better than the fridge ones, because I’m likely to forget I have a pocketful of treats and find them two days later when I do laundry. But for an obedience class, where there’s a bunch of distractions, the DogNation treats are fantastic.  There are also a few other random brands of treats I use.  I try for a variety, both to keep her interested and to keep her diet varied.

When I buy treats, I look for Made in the USA. (After all the recent scares, I won’t buy food items for myself or my pets that come from China. Other countries are on a case-by-case basis, but China is right out.) I also look for all natural and grain free. I do get cookies and biscuits (which obviously have grain), but those are less useful for training because you have to break them up, and they take longer for the dog to finish than a chewy treat. However, I like to break up several cookies, wrap them in a dishtowel, knot it loosely, and give it to her to unwrap before leaving for work for the day. In that situation, something that takes her longer to finish is exactly what I want, since the whole point is to keep her entertained while she’s left alone.

For training, I usually go for the treats that are specifically marked as “training treats” because they tend to be little bites. Especially on a walk, I don’t want anything that she has to chew or focus on for more than a second.

Reba is not nearly so picky, and will work for whatever food you offer. Meat, biscuits, kibble, it’s all good.  Unlike picky little Miss Diamond, Reba has the opposite problem where she tries to eat anything and everything. I once put down a no-bake cookie in her vicinity. She didn’t so much eat it as cause it to suffer a spontaneous existence failure.  I didn’t see her move, I didn’t hear a thing, but suddenly there was no cookie there and I was consulting the label, Google, and the vet’s office trying to figure out how much chocolate is toxic for a dog her size. The answer is “more than one cookie” fortunately, and she was fine.

This post is part of the BlogPaws “Write a post, help a dog” blogaround,” sponsored by Pedigree.  (I’m not compensated in any way by Pedigree for writing this post, or, for that matter, by the makers of any of the treats mentioned above.)


Might be a bad plan

Both Thomas and Reba are shameless food thieves. Reba’s so slick that she routinely makes hot dogs disappear without anyone noticing. (She’s also made cookies disappear, resulting in frantic calls to the vet and Googling how much chocolate is toxic to a 60-pound dog.)

Tonight, Thomas decided, as he often does, that dry kibble was unsatisfactory when we had chicken. He hopped up onto the stove and knocked down a piece of chicken, which Reba zoomed in and gobbled up.  I picture the conversation going something like this:

Reba:  Thank you for the chicken, kitty cat! You’re the bestest!

Tom: Stupid dog.

Us: Hysterical laughter when we realize Thomas has been had

Tom: Stupid humans.

Somehow, I don’t see her viewing the cat as a source of chicken as being likely to get Reba to leave Thomas alone. (It would be funny to watch her bounce and dance and play bow to the cat, if it didn’t piss him off so much. And if there weren’t chasing involved. But we keep separating them, and keep working on her “leave it.”)

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Welcome to the Zoo

This blog chronicles my and my husband’s adventures in pet ownership, rescue dog fostering, and advocating for pit bulls and their owners against breed-specific legislation. With lots of references to My Little Pony, just so nobody thinks I’m an actual grown-up, job and mortgage notwithstanding.

First, let me introduce you to the cast of characters:


A fat gray and white cat, lying on a carpeted floor

Thomas, the sprawl-kitty

Nicknames: Porkchop, Emo Cat

Pony He Most Resembles: Applejack – mostly for the stubbornness, but also for the love of the outdoors

Hobbies: mewing piteously in front of a full food dish, planning and executing dramatic escape plans, picking on dogs several times his size

Thomas is our cranky 13-year old cat. He was our first pet and grudgingly tolerates the presence of other animals in his house, but he’s not particularly happy about it. Nor is he happy about being an indoor cat. He can frequently be found staring longingly out the window, or pawing furiously at the back door. In his mind, he’s a fierce and mighty hunter who should be roaming the backyard, terrorizing squirrels and bunnies.


Close-up of a gray and white cat

The kitty princess, in one of her less destructive moments

Nicknames: Demon Bunny, Avatar of Chaos, Bitey Cat

Hobbies: Grooming, playing, destroying knitting projects, causing allergy attacks

Pony She Most Resembles: Rarity – she’s constantly grooming herself, her toys, the dogs, and anyone or anything else who holds still  long enough.

Haley is six, and was adopted from the local animal shelter. She and Thomas have almost identical coloring, and people keep asking if they’re related–or if we just have a thing for gray and white cats. Nope, she was just the sweetest, cuddliest kitty at the shelter. She no longer likes to be held, so we’re pretty sure she was just putting on a good show to get us to take her home. She’s still very purry and loves to be petted, but feels the need to bite the hand that pets her.



Diamond (a medium-sized, brindled dog)

Diamond, looking vaguely concerned

Nicknames: Puppers, Little One, Chicken Hound, Baby Dog

Hobbies: Napping, licking people, keeping the world safe from socks and dryer sheets

Pony She Most Resembles: Fluttershy – sweet, full of love, scared of everything

Diamond, our sweet shar-pei mix,  is two years old now. We adopted her as a puppy. We were emphatically not looking for a baby dog, but she was sweet and quiet and we fell in love with her instantly. Shortly, we discovered that she was fairly timid and not at all comfortable with new situations.  Loud noises, new people, all sorts of things freak her out. So I started reading up on how to work with shy, fearful dogs.

She was also the dog that got me interested in pit bulls, since one of our friends is fairly certain she’s a pittie mix. (The more pit bulls I see, the more I think that she’s not a pit mix, or if she is, it’s a pretty minor component. But the brindle and the muscular build are things people hone in on as pit qualities.)

It’s taken a lot of work, but Diamond is now pretty happy and confident. Having another dog around seems to help her cope with new situations, as does being aware of her tolerances and doing our best to train other people and keep them from getting in her face.


Reba (a fawn and white pit bull) running

Whee! Zoom!

Nicknames: Reebles, Crashy

Hobbies: Running in crazy circles, shameless flirting, chasing tennis balls and forgetting to bring them back, being the center of attention, stealing the best spot on the couch

Pony She Most Resembles: Mostly Pinkie Pie for her random goofiness, but also Rainbow Dash’s need for speed

Reba is our current foster. She was picked up as a stray, so we don’t know her history, other than that she came in with a lot of injuries and the fear was that she had been a bait dog. But based on her happy-go-lucky personality and how much she loves everyone, it didn’t seem all that likely. And based on her complete lack of manners and inability to comprehend personal space, we wondered if she might have just ticked off another stray dog and gotten in a fight that way. Her manners are much improved now, and she’s currently in CGC classes, but she still has the the occasional tendency to jump up and lick faces.

Reba is a total goofball. Loves to run, loves to chase things, but sadly lacking in grace. She doesn’t corner well, particularly on smooth floors, and she’s been known to run headlong into people and park benches.  She’s also convinced that she’s a lap dog despite weighing in at about 60 pounds.

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