The Dog Blog
Welcome to The Dog 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
A Year Later
March 27, 2021
Has it really been over a year since our last blog? Have we really completed a year within the framework of a global pandemic? Yes and yes.
So what have we learned, what have we experienced this year? Time for a list!
- We learned that dogs need us regardless if a pandemic is happening!
- We learned that it is possible to adapt and flourish and experience success in fundraising even when it is all done with no direct contact.
- We developed a new and positive relationship with Winnipeg Animal Services and got great help from Runnin Red Courier Service and Canada Border Services. There are good people ready to work together, to contribute to our mission and core values!
- We found amazing suppliers locally and across Canada who made sure even during the great sewing machine and fabric shortages that happened (summer 2020 was crazy!) we had what we needed to keep Cupcakes Creations going. Huge shoutouts to Mile Ten Fabrics, It' Sew Buckie Fabrics, L'Oiseau Fabrics, Keystone Modern Creative, and Winkler Fabricland who all have been exceptional.
- Our donors and supporters never failed us - financial donations, participation in fundraising activities, donations to our auctions, donations of supplies to Cupcakes Creations.... they just kept on being part of the story of this rescue in the most beautiful of ways.
- We adapted our adoption process and, despite the change and added steps, adopters have been open and ready to work collaboratively to ensure we are comfortable with each and every adoption.
- We adapted our expectations and accepted that we may be operating at lower capacity than our normal level, and that it's okay for this to be our reality. We can still contribute, help, and "do the doable."
- Lastly, we experienced personal loss, as well as losses as a rescue; the pain has been deep and very, very real. But we are continuing on. One foot in front of another, sometimes holding on tight to another who carries us for a bit when we are too weary. We honour what we have lost by helping others find what they need: a loving, supportive, understanding home. We get through it and journey on.... a year later we continue the story of this little rescue.
Now, a year later, we look forward with hope, with confidence derived from the amazing circle of support that wraps around this rescue, with some sorrow in our hearts and tired spirits at times... we look forward expecting goodness and sorrow and beauty and all that life brings us. And we are grateful.
So this is the blog.... a year later.
Forever Foster: Liam
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 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 that 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 "Bad dog!" and raised voices are the words and sounds that do not elicit 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 but 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 was 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 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. 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 practitioner 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, and it 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 viewpoint 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 that through sharing, 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 move 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?
We know based on a combination of things: primarily their presenting behaviour, as well as knowing what events transpired previously.
Some more common behaviours noted in a trauma affected dog:
Refusal to eat, drink, pee, poop
Crouching down and trying to “make themselves small”
Having a strong flight response – the slightest noise or movement may send them running for cover; they may hear a noise that frightens them and “fear-pee" or "fear-poop” on the spot
Crouching and cowering when someone raises a hand or moves too fast
Showing strong fear reactions to certain “implements”, such as rakes, spades, machetes, brooms, mops, etc.
Being fear-reactive in a way that some might label as aggressive – biting to stop something that is happening, reacting to touch by nipping, or growling when someone gets close
Attaching very strongly to another dog by laying right up against or even on top of 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 they slowly moved it from the bathroom into the hallway, and gradually transitioned the bottom half of the kennel to a bed. It takes time and patience to allow the dog to decompress and also very slowly challenge it with tiny steps. Be patient!
If the dog is in a kennel, that is likely their “safe spot.” A hand reaching into the kennel can be terrifying to them and may result in a bite. Instead of reaching in, begin to encourage the dog to move the front of the kennel with a treat. Leave the treat and walk away. Let the dog move forward in their own time. Don’t do anything other than put another treat down, after first one is consumed – again, give the dog time. They will likely move back to the corner again. Go slowly, they may need several days. Pet them only when they can see all of you, not just your hand reaching into the kennel. Not only is that 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 whenever 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.
If possible, avoid doing house cleaning with implements such as mops, pails, brooms, vacuums, with the dog present. When you do use cleaning implements, go calmly about your business like it is no big deal. Do not make it a big deal, do not provide comfort, like saying, "Oh, poor baby! I know you are scared." Do not do anything to reinforce the idea that they should be scared. Normalcy is important in 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% , 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 moments 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 – they don't know if you going to hit them. Do they know if your hand is 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 ever know how to do. Time is a must, along with acceptance that your trauma affected dog may never be a playful dog. One of our dogs, who we would consider more obviously affected, is still 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 your veterinarian in the discussion and care plan to help your dog overcome their trauma. A period of anti-anxiety 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 may also have access to experts in specific fields, such as trauma in animals, and they can recommend diets, medication and training to help you and your pet.
Wake and sleep cycles may not be the same as yours. It is likely they will wake with first light or even before. Do not punish them for waking up early. A gentle process of slowly moving feedings later to in the morning, using room-darkening curtains, taking them out later at night for their “last pee/walk of the evening” are all things that will help. Routine is not something they know, or they may have known something very different from what your routine is. It will take time to amend and establish their new schedule. 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 the dog unattended in an open screened area. They can 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 have had more time to decompress. The panic will subside.
- When you leave the home, it can be scary for them. The dog may try to follow you - even if that means going through glass or a screen. A good practice is to desensitize the dog by leaving the house for a few minutes, then coming 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, and/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 are typically 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 backyard. 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 dog's 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 "hands-free" 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 dog's 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" command. 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 may eat whatever they can find. This includes rotten food, trash, foods that are harmful to them (eg., chocolate, onions, pizza, etc. .... yes, this is experience speaking).
- Teach your dog the "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" is something you will want them to obey.
- Practice this skill with toys and other safe items. Reward them with highly desirable food treats, a special toy and a "fetch", and 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 dog's prey drive. You can work with it but it is also an instinct. Use caution if you take your dog to an area where there are lots of baby bunnies, squirrels, or other small animals, especially if you know your dog has an active prey drive and will want 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 and Suzanne. 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