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KoKo Intervention: Bark Busters

Continuing our efforts to help calm Koko, I took her to the vet and discussed some options, specifically training recommendations.  A large noisy group class wasn’t the best idea for her, not with her anxiety, but personal trainers are $$$.  Her #1 recommendation was Bark Busters.  They were running a Christmas special, so I was able to get both KC and Koko training for the same price, with a lifetime guarantee.

That means they will come to our house, as many times as we need, for no additional cost, for the lifetime of both dogs.  Even if we move out of the state.  Of course it’s a hefty one time fee, but I’m able to make payments and I’ve already MORE than gotten the training for the $$, just in two visits, using the $100-150/hour rate we were quoted elsewhere.

Actually, the training is for US not the dogs.  We just need to know how to help her.

So far, our trainer has come to the house twice, for almost 5 hours of training.  The first time, we worked mostly with Koko, in her crate, on a leash, and free.  She barked and barked and barked at the Strange Man.  None of his techniques would calm her for long.  He’d move, and she’d go nuts again.  Forget him even touching her leash — let alone her.

However, when he pulled out the spray bottle and gave it to me, we finally had a breakthrough and she quit that mean barking.  One good pop of spray in the face was all it took.  The second time I missed, but it still shook her out of her barking rage.

Today, my Dad came over to watch.  Koko has a hate hate relationship with him and always barks at him, even though he kept her for two weeks while I went to the home office last fall.  This time, she barked at him.  No surprise.  I escalated using our trainer’s techniques and ended up popping her once with the spray bottle.

Not another bark.

She even came over after awhile and laid down between us and let him pet her.  (Usually she just paces and paces when he’s over.)

Then the trainer came by and she did bark at him some, but we were able to correct her immediately.  We practiced several different techniques and really, the heart of her issue became clear to me.  If there’s a stranger in the house, she watches them with single-minded focus.  One of the exercises required her to look up to me and make eye contact before she got the treat…and she wouldn’t do it.  She wouldn’t take her eyes off the Strange Men in the house.

So this week, I’ll be working on getting her attention on me.  He gave me several attentive exercises to practice with her that will hopefully help.  The barking is better, but she’s still afraid and nervous.  It is an improvement, though, and I’m encouraged that there’s hope.  As soon as the weather breaks, I’ll be walking her a LOT.  I need it and so does she.

But she ended up on her leash with the Strange Man leading her around.  She wouldn’t ever get in front of him – because she wanted to keep an eye on him!  But he was able to get much closer to her without her sounding like Cujo.  It’s a start!

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Save a Pet Today

Middle Monster (age 9) just wrote a very moving letter and she gave me her approval to post it here.  (Someone’s been watching the animal rescue shows.)

People that are out there please get an animal.  Every day more than 1,000 animals die and so if you don’t have an animal please get one.  If you don’t it will not be ok because a lot of animals die because people don’t care and leave them in the streets so please get one. A lot of those animals are starved and die from that so if you read this please don’t throw your animals in the water, in the streets, and anywhere else.  Save a pet today!!! 

Good job if you do save a pet anytime and anywhere!

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Pedigree: Adopt a Dog

Both of our dogs were adopted, one from a vet clinic and the other from a shelter and I can’t imagine life without either of them.

We’ve had Pepper the longest.  My SIL used to work at a vet clinic, and she called us one day because a dog had come in that was going to be put down if they couldn’t find a home for him.  His elderly owner had passed away and the family couldn’t take care of him.  He’s such a sweet, tolerant dog.  As soon as I sit down in my chair, he jumps up in my lap.  It’s always fun trying to juggle the laptop and the lapdog, especially when KC decides to join us.

KC (named after the Kansas City Chiefs) is our newest dog – we’ll have her a year this Thanksgiving.  On a whim, we stopped at a newer animal shelter.  I know the volunteers absolutely love pets and do the best for them, but there were SO MANY dogs.  There were at least 30 dogs in an open cage in the center of the shelter, with walls of small kennels around the outer room.  The noise was unbelievable (not to mention the smell).  We were getting ready to leave without getting attached to any of the dogs, when I heard this low, soft whine.  How I heard it over the din of barking, frantic dogs, I have no idea, but I turned around and saw her.  She was so sweet, licked my fingers, whining and crying. 

We went home without a dog — it’d been a whim after all.  However, I couldn’t stop thinking about her.  I kept hearing her cry.  I just knew we had to go back and get her.

KC is a bundle of energy.  The kids adore playing with her.  She’s a hunter — no bug escapes unharmed (she rescued us from a praying mantis just last week).  She runs and plays until the kids and her all drop and sleep in a cute little pile.

So what’s all this about?  Pedigree is donating dog food for every blog post about adopting dogs.  They have some nice information here if you’re interested in adopting from a shelter.  If you can’t adopt but have a blog, take a few minutes and blog about dog adoption, then link back to this site & add your blog.

 KC, our adopted dog, and Littlest Monster, sound asleep