The Bodhi Chronicles: One Month

Bodhi’s been with us a month or so now, and I continue to be so impressed with this dog. He is so smart, so quick to learn things, and so darned happy. And daddy’s lap dog big time. How 75 pounds of dog can curl up that small is beyond me.

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Bodhi did so much better in his second obedience class. He was not as overwhelmed with new sounds and smells as he was the first week. He isn’t the star of the class, but he doesn’t need to be. He was able to get 4 sits done in 30 seconds instead of zero. I’m happy with that.

We’re working on loose leash walking and had a breakthrough this evening. He HATES the head collar and nearly gave himself a concussion the other day battling it, so I don’t want to use it anymore. This evening we tried a suggestion from our class instructor, and it worked like a charm. Bodhi and I had a nice forty minute walk that did not result in rotator cuff injury for me, and he had fun. He even got some time on his 30 foot lead so he could explore and run a bit. A good way to end our day.

Earlier in the day I tried to have one of our 10 minute training sessions, which usually go really well. It was miserable today. Not an ounce of focus on his part. Lesson to self: don’t try to train your dog when he really, really needs to eliminate. Took me a bit to realize what was going on…sometimes Bodhi’s trainer can be slow on the uptake.

Bodhi has learned sit, down, and stay so far, and we’re working on stand. That one doesn’t seem to click with him yet. He’s getting much better on the walking as well, and he knows what “step” means.  For just a month with us, that’s pretty good.  I give him an A+ and a gold star.

Bodhi is meeting what could be his little sister or girlfriend next week. We’ve found a dog we think might fit well with us and Bodhi, and we’ll see what he thinks about that. He can’t see and she’s almost deaf, but they are both beautiful dogs. If she joins our household, expect some glamour shots. In the meantime, isn’t Bodhi one of the most handsome boys you’ve ever seen?

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I’m just a little biased…

 

 

Henry

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Meet Henry! Poor Henry was someone’s cat once, and was either lost or dumped on a feral colony. Colonies can be pretty territorial, and they beat Henry up pretty good. His face was pretty torn up when we first met him.

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We (Derry Township Community Cats) took him in a month or so ago, and nursed him back to health, got him neutered and his vaccines. Despite all he has been through, Henry loves nothing more than to rub up against your legs and get pet. He’s a very happy couch potato!

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Somewhere along the way Henry contracted FIV, perhaps from being roughed up by the colony he landed in…we don’t know for sure. But he is only eight, and we are trying to find him a home. FIV cats can have lots of healthy years ahead still, and Henry’s a muscular and strong cat, who has gained weight steadily this month. He’s almost at 14 pounds, so we may even have to put him on a diet soon.

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Henry is enjoying his stay at our cat house, and seems to like the company of other cats despite what he has been through. But he’d enjoy his own home even more…hint, hint! Holler if you think your couch might need this couch potato to keep it warm!

 

The Bodhi Chronicles: Run Like the Wind

I’ve been trying to solve the problem of giving Bodhi a safe way to really run off some of his energy. Learning to walk nicely on leash is hard for a dog who doesn’t have good outlets for running off steam. And trying to find a way for a blind dog to safely run full throttle is just a little challenging. But we figured it out.

We have these big fields a few blocks from us. Most are used as playing fields for sports, but some are just big expanses without many obstacles. Take an open, flat field and a 30 foot training lead, and voila! Run, Bodhi, run!

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And, of course, after running, lots of love!

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Happy dog! (Happy us!)

The Bodhi Chronicles: Recalibration

We’re coming up on three weeks of having Bodhi with us, and we are convinced we made a great choice with him. He may not have had great medical care or any training with his previous guardian, but he was well-loved, and that makes everything else relatively easy.

We are still working on being good seeing-eye people for him. At times I forget to notice a step or something on a walk that would go ignored by a seeing dog. I have to pay much more attention to what’s under our feet and in front of it so I can cue him about steps, or curbs, walls and objects to avoid. I’m getting better at it, but still miss sometimes. Bodhi seems to take it all in stride, but sometimes I feel like I should put a helmet on the poor guy!

Today was the first day of his beginning obedience class, and if ever there was a humbling experience, this was it. Bodhi has been so good with sit, down, stay, and come here at the house, and a little less good on walks, but still responsive. But put him in a big room he doesn’t know with all kinds of human and canine voices…well, the word over-stimulation doesn’t do justice to his response. Because he can’t see, that many noises had him desperate to check everything out. There wasn’t a cell in his body focused on me or what we were trying to do.

Fortunately, the trainer running the class knows that I know how to train dogs, and everyone went with the flow of this crazy, blind dog who was so excited he couldn’t sit still. We got a few sits and downs out of him over the hour, but it was a pitiful few. Some of our training is going to need to happen in places that have a lot of noise and new elements to get him used to focusing in the midst of it all. We’ll get there, but it was clear that there is much to do.

When the instructor got to the “watch me” command, we just looked at each other. “I have no idea what to suggest for Bodhi,” she said. I don’t know either, but Bodhi’s foster mom bought a couple books on working with blind dogs, so I’ll peruse them to see if there are some suggestions about how to tell a blind dog you want his attention.

At the end of class, we were both exhausted. I had to drop Bodhi off and go care for a three-month old Great Pyrenees pup…not exactly relaxing! Bodhi got to rest, and he has been conked out for a couple hours now.

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(Your eyes are getting sleepy…)

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On other fronts, his skin problems are improving enormously. He loves the weekly baths, and the antibiotic is helping too. The vet says the bacteria on his skin is nearly gone, so a couple more weeks of baths and antibiotic, and she thinks he’s good to go.

We’re still trying to figure out food portions. He was 79 pounds a couple weeks ago, but dropped to 76, and we’re giving him what we thought was a pretty good portion. He looks great at 76, but don’t want him to keep going down. Upping the food just a little bit.

Bodhi, like Butterscotch, is an amazingly contented and happy dog. Everything is fine with him. He’ll come sleep on the bed if invited, but otherwise he’s happy on his dog bed. He loves his walks, but when we’re home he’s just glad to be near us, whatever we’re doing. And if he can’t be with us at home for some period, he’s fine with that too.

We took him for his first walk on a local trail that we enjoy, and he met lots of people and dogs. He greets both beautifully, and he loved visiting a new space. There’s a nature trail in Harrisburg (Wildwood) that we need to take him to visit when it isn’t quite so beastly hot out. He’ll be over the moon.

 

 

The Kindness of Strangers

I don’t know about you, but I find it easy to be overwhelmed by the wretched news of shootings and violence and hatred. There is way too much of it right now, though any of it, actually, is too much. But my day, last Friday, was interrupted by the kindness of strangers, a welcome antidote to the meanness afloat in the world.

It started with a call from one of my cat buddies, who had been contacted by the local police. My friend was out of town…could I call the community service officer back and see what could be done for a little stray kitten who had been hit by a car in a grocery parking lot? It wasn’t what I’d planned for the day, but what can you do?

While the officers headed to my home with the kitten I called the vet’s office and got an appointment for that evening. Given that it was a holiday week I was lucky that they could see me at all. There’s always a crate ready for a surprise guest at my house, so the police folks brought me the poor little kitten, and I settled him in the crate with some food and water. His back legs weren’t working very well…he didn’t look good. I didn’t have the heart to point a camera at him – not a kind thing to do to a scared and hurting creature, so I’ll give you photos of a kittens who looked a lot like him here. Use your imagination.

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What amazed me, however, was how kind a whole bunch of people had been to this poor little one. They’d seen him hit, I believe, and went to get him and care for him, and called the police who called us (Derry Township Community Cats)  so he could get the help he needed. The poor thing was so scared he climbed up inside the underside of a car, and they got him out and held him close until he could be transported safely. One woman cradled the little one (I named him Sebastian) in her arms, and would adopt him if he made it. Kittens are cute and all that, but these folks really rallied to help Sebastian.

I took Sebastian to the vet’s that night for an exam and xrays.  Even at the vet’s office, they were so kind to him, and loaded him up on pain meds and let them take effect before they even tried to xray him. The pictures, unfortunately, were incredibly ugly.  Crushed pelvis, back legs broken in many places, and given the pelvic damage there was probably lots of internal organ and nerve damage. There was nothing to do but to release him from this life with the hope that he had some more of his nine left, and that the next one would be longer and better.

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I had to call the officer who brought him to me and let her know he didn’t make it, and I think I heard sniffles over the phone. I called the potential adopter, who had held him in her arms awaiting care, and let her know too. Someone I know from one of the local rescues had also been at the site, as I found out later, and I let her know the outcome as well, and she was going to let others know who had inquired. Sebastian, a beautiful long-haired, 8 week old boy, may not have had a long life, and his ending was pretty tough, but he was mourned by many kind people who stopped their day to care for and about him. Godspeed, little one, and thank you for bringing out the best in a whole lot of people.