Welcome to our Blog
We wish to use this forum to share with you stories of rescue, articles that may be of interest and whatever comes to our hearts. Rescue is a journey not a destination.
Please enjoy reading and sharing in our journey. June 25, 2019
January 29, 2020
Today is Bell Let's Talk Day.
Cupcakes Pommy & Friends Rescue and Rehabilitation wants to join in this dialogue to support discussion and remove stigma related to the mental health of all - humans and yes, our dogs too.
As we thought about what to write and how to share in this day, our Veterinary Clinic, Central Veterinary Services and Dr. Samyra Stuart-Altman did a fantastic post regarding exactly this.
Thus, we would like to participate in the conversation by sharing Dr. Stuart-Altman's article with you today.
Let's remove the labels for humans and our companion animals too. Let's talk and listen - and strive to find understanding and live intentionally every day with compassion and kindness.
January 26, 2020
A new year has begun and with it a lot of activity for our rescue. As we dive into this new year we have had a theme in many of our discussions: boundaries.
The notions of boundaries for dogs and humans both establishing boundaries for dogs and humans respecting a dog’s personal boundaries has been coming up with increasing frequency.
When there are no boundaries established for a dog or when a dogs personal boundaries are not respected (often by children), the consequences can be quite disastrous. From an unhappy home with a poorly behaved dog who is lacking in confidence and trust to a dog reacting poorly with bites when boundaries are not respected.
We see dogs surrendered all too often because of poor behaviour or they do not get along well with the child. The dog is usually painted as the problem. But is the problem the dog or with us as humans?
Have we learned how to appropriately establish boundaries and train a dog through good obedience with positivity and respect? Have we taught kids to interact respectfully with the dog?
As we move into this new year we want to take a moment to encourage you to consider obedience classes for you and your dog – yes we said for you too. You need to learn first and work with a skilled trainer in the classes so you can provide your dog with a wonderful training experience and be the best possible leader and teacher for your dog. These classes foster good relationships between you and your dog. Many classes require the entire family to attend – including kids who then also get to practice with the dog new skills. This can be fun for you and for your dog!
Are you giving your dog enough exercise and stimulation? Bored dogs can be naughty dogs. Are they getting play time and walks/runs with you? Just as a human needs interaction and activity to foster physical and mental health, so does your dog.
We see far too many dogs where they are reactive, fearful, distrusting – born often out of poor human interactions that include teasing by children, not having their personal boundaries respected (wanting them to play when they need to sleep is not respecting a boundary). The end result can be bites, distrustful dogs, disheartened humans and a very unhappy home.
Is it too late to correct things? No. Some things you can do:
Look and listen to your dog and help them get what they need: activity, exercise, nutrition, love, rest.
Consult with your veterinary professional. Ensure your dog is healthy. Did you know dogs with lyme disease that is so easily contracted will be reactive when they are sick but you may not know they are sick? Or that dogs with thyroid imbalances can be reactive and grumpy with lower tolerance than normal for interactions? These are only two of many many many examples we have seen in rescue.
Skip consulting with all the online “helpers” in chat threads – go to the professionals – your vet clinic, dog trainers, day care centres with strong training focus and high ratings.
Engage with a personal trainer who can help you 1-1 to correct behaviours and instill confidence and trust in yourself and between you and your dog
Attend obedience classes with your dog – obedience classes are not just for puppies!
Consider daycare on an occasional basis for your dog if you are unable to give them all the activity they may need. Dogs can socialize, learn, play and have fun and come home happy tired dogs which is a good thing.
Increase your knowledge. We have several articles online to suggest as good starting points:
September 4, 2019
The photo below was sent today to us via Facebook from one of our wonderful supporters. We do not know the author/source. We are hoping this poster strikes a note with you as it does with us.
While our dogs were not "pound puppies" more often than not their lives were less than ideal. Up to now that is.
They may not have been socialized with children, with strangers. They may not have had good experiences with other humans or animals.
Everything is new and takes time.
We say this so often it sometimes feels like we need a new way of saying... give it time. Be patient.
But it is so hard. You see you love your dog and want them to feel that love. And when they respond with fearful eyes, cowering, even growling... it is hard to not feel you are failing. You are not failing. Stay consistent, stay committed. Understand this is not anything personal against you. The dog needs time to learn you are good. You are gentle. You are love. You will not leave or abandon them. They need time and to see it through your actions.
Consistency, routine, praise, gentleness ... these are the words of success.
Words like no, bad dog and raised voices are the words and sounds that do not ellicit trust.
Stay the course, be patient, love always, create the home for your dog and let them have the time to see how amazing it is. It will not just take days. Sometimes it takes weeks, months... the change is slow and beautiful. There will be steps forward, steps backward. That is the way it is.
But oh it is so worth it. You will have a dog that loves you trusts you relies on you. Your dog will find their way with your help. And oh the joy you will experience with each tiny step forward. That first time they come to you. The first time you can touch and they do not cower or hide. It will happen.
It is with the most profound sadness that we share that our sweet Miko has passed away.
Miko came to Cupcakes Rescue when we first started in 2016.
He was named Mulder Cupcake.
He came from the worst of conditions. A Manitoba backyard breeder who had kept him, and his mate Scully, outdoors year round. "They had a heater and dog house" the breeder said.
Mulder's is a pomeranian. His coat was incomprehensibly horrible. So matted, filthy and painful. It came off of him like a one piece animal pelt.
He had suffered medical challenges due to not being neutered.
But this horribleness was the start of the most amazing new life for Mulder.
His health was restored and despite lasting effects like arthritis, he was so so happy and sweet.
I recall sitting at adoption events with him. Holding him like a baby. For hours. And he looked at this new world from his upside down viewpoint in my arms and greeted everyone with love and the sweetest big eyes. His eyes said he was content, he was happy and he was loving it!
Then came the most amazing adopters. Marilyn and Harold. They gave him the name Miko. Fresh beginnings deserved a new name. And Miko has had the most incredible life with them! Susan, his former foster shared how she was always welcome at Marilyn and Harold's home and enjoyed some wonderful visits and always the best lunches! She said Marilyn had more treats for Miko than were in some pet stores! And if he did not like one... no problem, she gave him another and more until he got just the one he wanted. Miko knew exactly how to get the best treats and lots of them!
Miko also loved his neighbour Jayne and her four legged girls who were Miko's besties. She did so much to help Miko sustain his health and happiness.
If you look back on our calendars you will see Miko in the back of a bicycle - he loved the rides he got! Life was good riding in a big beautiful basket.
Miko was the very first foster dog that Susan had with our rescue. Today she is so sad. She loves them all but nobody replaces your first rescue dog - and oh Miko can never be forgotten! His personality was huge. Susan, our hearts are with you and we can never say enough thank you's to you for being an amazing foster mom and for loving these dogs you care for without limits or conditions.
Jayne, we extend our gratitude and compassion to you as well. We know you used all your skills as a professional holistic practioner to help Miko. Your friendship and love for Miko was just the best!
Today we extend our love to Marilyn and Harold. We know your hearts are hurting. We hurt with you. We also cannot say enough thank you's for loving Miko and giving him the absolute world. Three years was a short time but for Miko, it was the best time!
Rest now sweet Miko. The love you found will never ever fade and surrounds you now and always.
August 21, 2019
update: July 9, 2019
Thank you for the wonderful response to our blog regarding Trauma Affected Companion Animals.
We have updated several pieces on this article in light of some fantastic feedback as well as observations made recently both with our dogs in care and with other rescue groups experiences of late. We have clarified the use of "double leashing", are recommending adopters consider cellular capable GPS tracking devices for their dogs and talk further about food safety and prey drive.
June 25, 2019 Trauma Affected Companion Animals
As we continue our journey as a rescue we continue to hear about and see the impact of trauma on the dogs we care for. We know that this trauma is not exclusive to our dogs in rescue but affects many companion animals. We would like to share with you our thoughts on trauma as it relates specifically to companion animals – causes and caring for trauma affected companion animals. This is not a research paper or written from the view point of any sort of research supported theory. This is not a paper written by an expert in the field. This is us telling you our story, our experiences and what we are learning. It is our desire through sharing that you will gain a greater understanding and appreciation for trauma affected companion animals.
So… what causes this trauma?
There are so many causes for trauma in the dogs we care for:
The death of their human companion
The loss of the home they have always known
History of lack of socialization and isolation
Neglect by humans – emotional and physical
Physical abuse and experiencing or witnessing violence towards other animals, humans or directly experiencing it perpetrated upon themselves
Even genetics can play a role in which dog is impacted by an event more deeply than another
Like humans, our dogs see, feel and experience events. Their perceptions and how they react is based on their own internal “brain” and not all dogs who experience a specific event will react in the same way. Some dogs can move, for example, from one home to another without any real impact on behaviour or expression of trauma while for other dogs this can result in complete emotional shut down. The challenge is that we cannot employ “talk therapy” as we might with a human. Even the play therapy we might use in working with a traumatized human child is not possible with a trauma affected companion pet. So we go gently, “listen” and observe what our dog may be telling us through their actions. We do our best to avoid labels such as aggressive that can then lead people to expect a certain type of behaviour and in fact inadvertently elicit that behaviour in the dog.
How do we know a dog is trauma affected?
You know based on a combination of things: primarily their behaviour they present as well as knowing what events transpired that led to them coming to you.
Some more common behaviours noted in a trauma affected dog:
Refusal to eat, drink, pee, poop
Crouching down and trying to “make themselves small”
Strong flight response – the slightest noise or movement may send them running for cover – they may hear a noise that frightens them and results in “fear pee/poop” on the spot
Crouching and cowering when you raise your hand, move to fast
Seeing certain “implements” can elicit strong fear reactions such as rakes, spades, machetes, brooms, mops
May be fear reactive in a way which some might label as aggressive – biting to stop something that is happening, reacting to touch by nipping, growling when you get to close
They may attach very strongly to another dog by laying right up against or even on top of another dog or under another dog (comfort comes from another dog not a human)
What can you do to help a companion animal affected by trauma?
Do not force complete contact and touch – work at it gradually – maybe a gentle soft touch once every day, then increase that.
Respect the boundaries that the dog is giving you through their growl, bark, air nip – then as you build trust over an extended period of time work to challenge those boundaries just a few inches or moments at a time to bring a dog to feel more comfortable with things that they may have reacted to in the past.
Allow them some time to decompress – they may want to hide in a corner or a kennel – but then slowly work to bring them out of that. For example, with one very trauma affected dog the foster started by just removing the top half of the kennel after some days. The dog would not leave the bathroom where the kennel was. So then, they slowly moved it from the bathroom and transitioned the bottom half of the kennel to a bed… and slowly moved it into the hallway etc.. It takes time and allow the dog to decompress but then very slowly challenge it with very tiny steps. Be patient
If the dog is in a kennel, that is their “safety” A hand reaching into the kennel can be terrifying to them and may result in a bite. Rather work to lure the dog to the front of the kennel with a treat. Leave the treat and walk away. Let them move forward. Don’t do anything other than put another treat after first one is consumed – give the dog time. They will likely move back to the corner again. Just go slowly over days if needed. Pet them only when they can see all of you not just your hand reaching in the kennel. Not only is it scary for them as they can go no further and are trapped in the back of the kennel but you cannot see them very well and may get bit. Avoid the bite wherever possible
Monitor food and water intake – don’t panic if they do not eat, pee or poop a lot or at all in the first day or two. This is actually quite normal but slowly their body will “come awake” and they will start to resume basic body functions. If they do not and you are worried about dehydration, contact your Veterinary Care Professional. Your veterinarian is your expert. Talk to them to know what is best for your dog.
Never do house cleaning with implements such as mops, pails, brooms, vacuums, with the dog present if you can avoid it. And then when you do use the cleaning implements, go calmly about your business like it is no big deal. Do not make it a big deal, do not provide comfort such as saying or poor baby I know you are scared. Do not do anything to reinforce that they should be scared. Normalcy is important to sending the message that this is no big deal.
House training and pee pad training may take a long time, longer than it might for another dog and occasional “fear pees” can happen quite randomly when the dog has something that triggers their fear – it can happen for years. If you want a perfect 100 percent never an accident dog in a month – the trauma affected companion animal is not right for you. They need forgiveness for accidents and support to move past these accidents by making them non-issues. No big deal, I wipe it up, you be happy. That is the message to send the dog.
Trauma affected dogs often have no idea how to play. Any hand play can be scary – are you going to hit them? Is your hand a kind hand when it moves fast in hand play? And what about those things that squeak and sound really scary? Go gentle with toys. Even engaging in play with another dog is not something they may even know how to do. Time is a must and acceptance that your previously trauma affected dog may never be a playful dog. One dog who was not by far amongst ones we would say was most obviously affected, she still is scared at the sight of toys – after 1.5 years. Another just recently crouched down in a play stance with another dog – for the first time – three years after coming into the home. We do not measure successes by “normal” and speed. But by little moments over long periods of time.
Some trauma affected companion animals may need calming interventions such as a thunder jacket, herbal non medicated calming treats or veterinary prescribed medications. Engage you veterinarian in the discussion and care plan to help your dog overcome trauma. A period of anti-anxiety type medication to help with the first week(s) can be essential for some dogs. Their anxiety and/or depression is real and needs the support of your veterinary professional. We cannot emphasize enough that you engage your Veterinarian in the care plan for your dog. They have also at their disposal consultation with experts in fields such as trauma in animals and they can help create diets, medication and training recommendations to help you and your pet.
Wake up and sleep cycles may not be the same as yours. In fact, it is likely they will wake with first light or even before. Do not punish them for waking up early. Gentle over time process of slowly moving feedings later in the morning, bringing in room darkening curtains, taking them out later at night for their “last pee/walk of the evening” all will help. Routine is not something they know or may have known very different from what your routine is. It will take time to amend and establish routine. Routine will come slowly with trust and companionship. In the meantime, be prepared for 5:00 a.m. wake ups and “pee breaks” with your companion animal. All in good time….
Edits/Additions to the Original Article added July 9, 2019:
A note about flight risks:
- A trauma affected dog may be at much greater risk of flight, particularly as a response to panic. We have seen dogs who have never been in a house actually try to go through a glass window to get outside. Outside is what they know. Inside is not. But they have no idea of the outside risks. They are just scared and wanting to run out of fear.
- Never leave your dog unattended in a open screen area. They will go through a screen in seconds.
- where possible, if you observe them making any attempts to go through glass, try to remove items that might make it possible to access the window or move the dog to safer areas for several days until they are more decompressed. The panic will subside.
- When you leave the home, it is scary. The dog may try to follow you - even if that means going through glass or screens. A good practice is to desensitize by leaving the house for afew minutes. Then come back in. Repeat this many times. extending the "away" time until they see it is normal and you always return.
Use of a GPS tracker:
- If you are able to or your dog is particularly skittish, please consider purchasing a cellular capable GPS tracking device. There are many available. Discuss with your veterinarian or pet care products professional what might be best for you and within your price range. The costs vary but in the $50 CAD range.
Use of collars leashes and vests:
- We strongly advise against using a retractable leash. Your dog needs to stay near you. In addition, the "handle" on the retractable leashes is easier to have slip out of your hand. There are many veterinarians strongly recommending against use of this type of leash for many reasons related to pet and human safety.
- Start with building comfort with leashes, collars and harnesses in a secure fenced back yard. Do not start leash training on a noisy street or open area with more distractions and things that can bring out a fear and flight response. Stay safe.
- We strongly recommend using two completely separate systems at the same time:
- first a well fitting harness vest - do not skimp on this - it can save your dogs life.
- Attach a leash to this vest and use this as your "first means of walking the dog"
- Add a second method - a very well fitting collar and second leash (not attached to harness) or a "waist leash that is attached to your waist and to a second harness or collar.
- This may seem extreme but it will make a huge difference if your dog is able, in a moment of panic, to get out of one method of constraint. We have seen dogs "barrel roll" while jumping in the air in sometimes successful attempts to escape the leash and harness/collar.
- We come from a position of better safe than sorry. Until you are fully confident in your dogs recall skills and that they have months of trust and confidence to avoid panic, use multiple methods.
- As soon as you can, start training in recall. This is the most important skill. In the yard, use treats and the come now command in a firm calm voice. When this is established have other distractions placed in the yard (people, light noise etc) and keep working on the come now. They need to know that you are their protector and safe place to go no matter the circumstances.
Food safety and prey instincts:
- Many trauma affected dogs have not always had access to the foods we would consider normal. They may have known extreme hunger. They will eat whatever they can find. This includes rotten food, trash, foods that are harmful to them (eg: chocolate, onion pizza etc.... yes this is experience speaking).
- Teach your dog "leave it" command. This is another important life saving lesson. When they are in the back yard with a bunny or mouse in their mouth. Drop it. Leave it.
- Practice this skill with toys and other safe items. Reward them with highly desirable food treats, a special toy and a "fetch", positive praise. Let them know that going against their instinct of killing and eating a small animal is something that will be highly rewarded and worth more than the act of kill and eat.
- Be aware of your dogs prey drive. You can work with it but it is also an instinct. Do you take your dog in an area where there are lots of baby bunnies and squirrels if you know your dog has a prey drive that will mean they will try to bolt and chase (which makes it hard for you to hold on to your dog).
About the Authors:
This article was written by Phyl in collaboration with Shan & Suzanne.Together with Darlene, they form the leadership for Cupcakes Pommy & Friends Rescue and Rehabilitation in Winnipeg Manitoba.
We ask that you respect the implied ownership of this document as owned by Cupcakes Pommy & Friends Rescue and Rehabilitation.Please ensure if sharing that you provide the credit to the originating author and rescue.Having said this, feel free to share and dialogue with others who may find this of benefit and for educational purposes.
Cupcakes Pommy & Friends Rescue and Rehabilitation