Running with Squirrels

fostering dogs that need it most

Archive for the month “December, 2011”

Exercising with your dog: Part 1

By far the most effective way to ensure a happy, healthy, calm, and obedient dog is to provide adequate opportunities for exercise.  Many dogs, especially pit bull type dogs, are athletic and intelligent.  Without proper avenues for physical and mental exercise, your dog will look for other ways to spend their time.  Without guidance on acceptable outlets for their energy, this can lead to bad habits and undesirable behaviors (i.e. pulling on the leash when walking, jumping/barking to get your attention, chewing on furniture, etc).  Lucky for us, the key to discouraging many of these behaviors is simple … physically and mentally challenge your dog.  Even luckier for us, this is easy to do and can help work off some of those holiday cookies and adult sodas!  With this in mind, I will occasionally write about ways to exercise your dog.  If you have any tips we can learn from, please chime in!

Today I’ll start out with the simplest way you can exercise with your dog … jogging.  I even found a cool article that discusses the best dogs for running and guess who is the #2 dog for distances less than 6 miles according to Runner’s World … pit bulls!

Jogging with your dog is a great way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air after spending the day in a stuffy office.  In addition to that, it keeps you both healthy and is a great opportunity to bond together.  Running not only provides the physical exercise your dog needs, but by teaching your dog to pay attention to you and heel as you run, it gives ol’  Ruffus the sense of having a job and satisfies the need for mental activity.

Before I go any further, I want to emphasize the importance of running safely with your dog.  There are many resources on the internet and in bookstores for how to do this, and I encourage you to investigate them.  A few quick highlights include:  always keep your dog on a leash and away from traffic, watch for signs that your dog is tiring (excessive panting, slowing down, glossy eyes, foaming mouth, etc), keep your dog well hydrated, and start slow to build endurance and strengthen paw pads which may not be ready for that 10-miler you want to jump into.  Also, running with younger/older dogs may not be the best idea, so please check with your vet if you have any concerns.

Reese has been running with us for a few years now, so he is a real pro.  We started out slow with him and now he stays by our side and completely ignores potential distractions.  I like to give him about 3-4 ft. of loose leash and wrap the rest around my hand.  This way you can quickly wind/unwind the leash around your fist if you need to give more/less slack.

McMuffin is still learning the ropes, but has done a great job in a short time and will be ready for full-time runner status in no time!  Try not to get discouraged if your dog doesn’t seem to pick it up immediately.  Running can be very exciting when you first start out and you may have to spend some time getting into a groove without constant pulling and slowing down.  If this is totally new to your dog, they may also try to jump and get your attention to make sure what they are doing is correct.  Just stay patient and keep a steady pace … pretty soon they will figure out what the task is and fall in line.

And after a nice little jog around the neighborhood … you can sit back and relax with your sleepy and well-behaved pup!

Good luck and feel free to ask any questions, provide tips you find helpful, or share stories of your success!

Is pink my color?

We mentioned earlier that McMuffin has a very beautiful coat of fur.  It’s super soft and shiny.  Unfortunately, super soft and shiny don’t help fight the cold, wet rain.

McMuffin is a pretty easy-going girl that doesn’t need or ask for much besides a warm bed to snuggle in and a nice bone to chew on … but we did notice the envy in her eyes whenever her foster brother put on his outdoor gear.  So when we asked McMuffin what she might want from Santa this year, it didn’t come as much of a surprise that a jacket was high up on the list.  And lucky for McMuffin, Santa was listening!

Bring it on crappy winter weather!

We think she looks great, and she is clearly very happy.  However, once foster brother saw she was cashing in on “treats for poses” … he wanted in on the action.

Treats for poses!

They even took their act to McMuffin’s favorite spot by the stairs.  Here Reese shows off his talents by pulling of a flawless multi-stair balancing act.  Two treats for that one.

Come on camera ... spit out those candies!

McMuffin is thrilled with her new outfit and we definitely think pink is her color.

The Gardener

We decided to spend some time outside the past few days to soak in the last sunny days before the long winter sets in.  As usual, McMuffin wanted to be a part of our day and show off one of her many talents.  See, the thing about McMuffin is, she is very complex and worldly …a renaissance woman if you will.  It’s like she has been saving all these fun secrets about her life and then springing them on us when we least expect it.

On this particular day, McMuffin decided to show off her green thumb.  Foster mom and I have been toying with the idea of maintaining a vegetable garden, however, we haven’t gotten very far.  Our raised bed garden was built with care and filled with the most nutritious soil … only to be left unseeded.  It now serves as the world’s most fertile weed square.  Enter McMuffin “The Gardener”.

Taadaaaaa ... McMuffin to the rescue!

She taught us all about the importance of proper seed distance, plant placement for avoiding excessive shade, slug deterrents, and watering schedules.  She even started on a pruning tutorial before she got distracted by the long blades of grass growing around the garden.

My oh my ... this tall fescue is delicious!

This is where today’s lesson ended.  McMuffin informed us that she loves the all you can eat salad/grass buffet in our yard and needed to snack for a while before continuing to share her pearls of wisdom.  Plus, teaching her foster parents is exhausting!

Time for our afternoon nap!

Is anyone out there looking for a live-in gardener?  McMuffin can’t wait to lend a paw with next season’s harvest!

McMuffin’s Adoption Bio

Hi friends, my name is McMuffin!

I’m a 6 year old (born November 24, 2005) girl that is spayed, completely housebroken, quiet, loving, and incredibly well behaved.  My previous family had to move and couldn’t take me with them, but lucky for me the nice people at Jasmine’s House found a foster home where I can stay until I find my new forever family.

I am about 50 lbs. and people tell me I am blind in my right eye.  I was born that way so I don’t really know what the difference is, but sometimes I do cut corners a little too short and bump into a wall or coffee table.  I have a really beautiful, short coat of black hair (white on my chest and toes), which is cool because I barely shed at all.  My foster brother Reese has similar hair but he sheds a lot, so foster mom always tells me how nice it is that she barely has to vacuum when it’s just me hanging out.

My previous family had two young children and also hosted daycare, so I am really great with kids and remain perfectly calm even when there is chaos around me.  I live with a 4 year old male dog Reese and we get along great!  I am a little too curious with cats and small dogs, so it would be best for me to find a home with bigger dogs.  Of course, I would also be happy to be an only child and get all of your attention to myself!

I do have a little bit of separation anxiety, so I would be absolutely thrilled to find a family where someone is home a lot of the time.  However, my foster parents both work all week and have been teaching me that hanging out and napping in my crate isn’t so bad … and I am getting much better at it!  I especially love it if you let me listen to soothing music and snack on a Kong while you are gone.

I am an expert at playing with toys and love to chew on bones … and the best part is I know the difference between toys and other stuff so I never chew anything I am not supposed to.  My foster parents said they are amazed at how well behaved I am in the house.  I usually just lounge in my bed and alternate between snoring and playing with my toys.

Want to teach me tricks?  I am super smart.  I already know how to sit, stay, fetch (I will even drop the toy at your feet, back up, and sit until you throw it again) and come.  I really hope someone will teach me to high five soon … I’ve seen other dogs do it and they look so cool!

Well, that’s enough about me for now.  I can’t wait to find my new family so that I can be their loving, loyal, and happy pet!

Sharing the warmth

Well, it only took one short week for all of us to fall in love with McMuffin.  She had Katie and I won over in just a few hours, but Reese has a much more thorough evaluation period before committing to a new friend.  Her hilarious enthusiasm, gentle kisses, and soulful stare had Katie and I under her spell almost instantly.  Reese, on the other hand, wasn’t too sure about this new chick hanging around all the time, sharing his toys, snuggling in his beds, and claiming her fair share of belly rubs and head scratches.

However, Katie and I maintained our program of slow baby steps to allow them more freedom together and we could see with each day Reese was growing more and more fond of his little pibble friend.  And late last night, after a wonderful day spent with our families, eating, drinking, and opening gifts … it happened.

Reese got all situated in his usual evening spot and let out a deep sigh of satisfaction.  As is often the case, McMuffin wandered over to check him out, give him a kiss on the forehead, and move along to her bed on the other side of the room.  But this night was different and as she approached, Reese gave her the nod of approval.  As carefully as she possibly could, McMuffin snuggled next to him being so careful not to bump him and ruin this rare invite.  After a few adjustments here and there, they both let out a deep exhale and Katie and I glanced over to see …

Thanks for the new blankets Grandma/Santa!

They happily snored next to each other the rest of the night.  And as many of you know, few things bring a smile to your face as quickly as a happy dog snoozing at your feet.

Big spoon and little spoon

Reese can be a little slow to warm up to a new dog, so after witnessing the ease with which McMuffin cast her loving spell on him … we are more confident than ever that she will have no problem fitting in with her forever family someday soon!

Happy Holidays!

We wish you a happy and safe holiday season!

And Santa … if you are listening … we just want to remind you that we have been really, really good this year and also drop a subtle hint that we love Kongs, Jolly Balls, and warm blankets to snuggle in!


McMuffin & Reese

What's egg nog?

Modeling her new gear!

Early Christmas present!  Thanks to her friends at Jasmine’s House, McMuffin can now show the world that she is ready for adoption.

While traveling around the neighborhood, we often get compliments on how well behaved she is and what a funny wiggle she gives to introduce herself.  Now she can also show everyone that she is a great fashion model!

Here she is trying out her new vest in the backyard …

We think she is ready for the big stage … time to go show off her new look!


Toys … and the perfect thievery

Hey friends, it’s me … your buddy McMuffin!  Today Dad asked me to tell you all a story so he could spend his evening fixing the dryer.  I offered to help, mostly because I think he could use a few extra paws, but also because I just like spending time with my people when they do stuff (even if that stuff sounds as excited as “fixing the dryer”).  Mom said sometimes Dad gets cranky when he has to fix stuff, so he is better off alone and I can stay upstairs and cuddle with her.

As we hang out up here and listen to the battle raging downstairs in the laundry room, I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you a funny thing about my foster brother Reese.  Reese is a cool dude for sure, but my favorite thing about Reese is his great collection of toys.  Here are some of my favorites:

Yellow Squash!

Red Bone!

Green Ball!

Most of the time when I’m playing with all of these awesome toys, Reese just kinda hangs out on our beds and relaxes.  He always looks so comfortable … and this is when the idea popped into my head.  What is better than playing with toys?  Playing with toys while laying in a plush, soft bed!

Problem is … Reese is always laying in the most comfortable one … so what is a wise girl to do?

And here is my secret.  First, you have to create a distraction so Reese thinks there is something he should investigate …

"Holy moly Reese ... what is that thing?!?!?"

And sure enough, Reese jumps up to check it out … every …. single … time.

And just when he turns back to let me know he missed it and wants to know what I was looking at … the thievery is complete!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done!

McMuffin the Nanny

McMuffin was totally exhausted last night after a long day of chasing her Jolly Ball, walking with her foster brother Reese, and swirling her anteater tongue in peanut butter filled Kongs, so we all decided it would be a perfect time to sit by the fireplace and chat about life.

Reese told McMuffin all about how he became the Resident Pitty Expert and we shared stories about dogs we had grown up with as kids that planted the seed for our love of all things canine.  But most interesting of all, at least to us, McMuffin gave us a peek into her past.

It turns out McMuffin, who also goes by the alias Muffin/Muffin Doodle Doo/McMuffster/McMuffinator/, had a very important job in her old home.  Not only was she the wise and loving older sister to two human kids (ages 2 and 5), but she was also the nanny for a day care!  As some of you may have heard, pit bull type dogs are often considered “nanny dogs” because they are so good with children (for more info about  pit bull type dogs, head over to Pit Bull Rescue Central).  From their chapter on “Breed Information:  Pit Bulls and People”, we learn:

Each year, the American Temperament Testing Society holds evaluations across the country for dog breeds and gives a passing score for the entire breed based on the percentage of passed over failed within total number of the particular breed tested. As of 2011, pit bull breeds achieved a combined passing score of 86.7 percent. To put these figures into context, the combined passing rate of all breeds was 83 percent. The Collie, an icon of obedience, passed at a rate of 79.9 percent, and the beloved Golden Retriever scored at 84.9 percent. As you can see, by these measures, the pit bull breeds make fabulous family pets!

And lucky for us, McMuffin is a perfect example that this is true!  She loves interacting with her two-legged human friends, and especially lights up when she sees youngsters coming her way.

Sadly, McMuffin’s first family had to move and could not bring her with them, but that doesn’t mean she forgot her expertise in being a nanny and looks forward to shaping the minds of America’s youth in the near future.  She would be amazing for a family with children.  In addition to that, she also thinks she has a future in working with children to help them read, through a program such as Reading Education Assistance Dog (READ).

McMuffin sure has ambitious plans, but from what we have seen from her there is no reason to believe she can’t accomplish her goals.  In the meantime, she is here waiting for her forever family to walk through the door and get her started on her next stage in life!

McMuffin is here!

We are so excited to announce that our new foster dog McMuffin has arrived!

She is a beautiful little girl, with a super wiggly butt and hilarious personality.  She promised us we would have plenty of time to chat and catch up on the details of her earlier years and how she came to be such a happy girl.  However, there is no time for small talk with all these new smells to analyze and fingers to lick.  She did find time to tell us that her favorite part of her new foster home so far is the Jolly Balls that we have in the backyard!

Look what I found!

We can’t wait to learn more about this adorable pup … and as we get to know her we will share all of her wonderful traits with you!

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