Monthly Archives: December 2011


It struck me today when I saw that someone had searched for “uncontrollable barking” and arrived at my site that I have some initial posts that don’t have follow-ups, so I’m going to make this post all about updating you on some situations I’ve blogged about before. I figure it’s a good way to wind up the year.

Hogan doesn't get the whole winter-coat thing.

Update 1: Since “Dusty’s Uncontrollable Barking” is the post that prompted this update, I’ll start with that update. A couple of weeks ago, we decided to try the citronella collar…and it really worked! We put it on Dusty first thing in the morning (around 7:15 a.m.) and took it off after our evening walk (around 6:00 p.m.). The spray didn’t come out every time he barked, but it worked often enough to make him reconsider barking. We used it for five days in a row and have put it on him only a couple of times since then. He now thinks twice about barking. When we open the door to the backyard, he still barks up a storm as he leaves the house, but we figure this is a hunting instinct, and we’ve decided more or less to let it happen since it stops once he’s hit the ground. Now that we’ve got Dusty’s barking under control, we may have to try the collar on Hogan. Hogan was super-quiet when we got him, but when Dusty was at his worst, Hogan joined the chorus, and he’s not stopping even though, most often, his is a lone voice now.

Cora in her favourite spot (on the love seat in the office).

Update 2: We initially purchased the D.A.P. collar for Cora because of her peeing in the house. It seemed to curb the peeing at first, but since the indoor urination was so sporadic, it was hard to tell if the collar was all that effective. It did seem to ease some of her anxiety, though (which I’ve detailed here). We now have another (cheaper) brand of pheromone collar on her. I think it does help with the anxiety. To address her peeing issue, the vet wanted to rule out bladder stones or other potentially dangerous medical reasons for the peeing, so yesterday Cora had an x-ray. Her innards, I’m happy to report, are picture perfect. Even her spine is in great shape, suggesting she’s got the bone structure of a young dog still. Amazing! The vet thinks the dribbling that we recently noticed may be an after-effect of Cora’s being spayed earlier this year. The peeing problem may be unrelated (and may still be anxiety related or a behavioural issue). We’re trying Cora on estrogen to see if that will reduce the dribbling in the house.

Dusty looking very handsome and completely innocent

Update 3: Dusty was diagnosed with hip dysplasia a couple of months ago. He’s also got a cruciate ligament issue, although the ligament isn’t torn. We put Dusty on Cartrophen injections to try to help rebuild the cartilage around his knee. The injections have really seemed to help. We also give him Sasha’s Blend, a glucosamine product. He often still favours his left hind leg, and I suspect surgery is inevitable, but we want to put it off as long as possible. He still runs around like a nut when he gets the chance, so his leg issues aren’t negatively affecting his quality of life—or not to any great degree anyway.

In general, the dogs are doing great—and we are loving life with the three of them!

Hogan in Mexico

Earlier this week, I learned that Hogan came to us from the Humane Society of Cozumel Island (via RTRC). Five very kind people responded to my email inquiry about him. Monica Velasco, the person who was the one to take Hogan (Gohan while he was there) in, sent me his full story. And here it is (slightly edited because I can’t help myself):

Boris in his new home in Mexico

“In Cozumel, there are a few homeless people, and I count four of them as my acquaintances. I used to run every morning along the waterfront, and every day around 6 a.m., I would greet four homeless men hanging out in the area near the lighthouse, usually with a visible hangover. We always exchanged a ‘good morning.’ This went on for several years. Every day, I had my four dogs with me, which elicited warm comments from them almost every time. One day I saw a young dog hanging around with them. They said they found him right there by the lighthouse. They told me, ‘Somebody left this puppy here and left money for his food. We found $7 under him!’ It is easy to imagine how the $7 was spent, and I am sure that they still look under lying dogs, just in case they’ll make another such discovery. The dog stayed with these men for several weeks, and although it was not the best of situations, he was okay. I offered help with vaccines and deworming and, of course, neutering would follow. The day we picked him up (for the vaccines?), the men wisely suggested that it was better to find him a good home, which was, of course, my ultimate intention. I would not have guessed, though, that the good home this dog would end up at was mine! His street name was Van Damme; now he is Boris. [Isn’t Boris a beauty?]

“Since then, these men have become dog rescuers of sorts. Every now and then, they will report to me a dog in a bad situation. Sometimes I am able to help, sometimes they don’t remember where they saw the dog (and argue among themselves about it), and sometimes I’m not sure they are not making stories up. But one day in mid-May, one of them walked into my store like he was on a mission. Some days they just want a soda (they well know I will not give them money, which would be spent on alcohol), but this time, the messenger was so excited about what he was going to tell me that he couldn’t even get started. ‘We have…this little—very little—dog that we found. His hair is like wires, and he is very little…and he needs help. We called him Fluffy. Do you want to see him?’


“So off he went and came back a few minutes later with one of his friends carrying a wire-haired, smallish to medium-sized dog. He was very cute, but definitely not fluffy. [I laughed out loud at this!] The man was holding him like a baby, bouncing him so hard, the poor dog might have been dizzy from it! He looked scared and a bit skinny, but otherwise he seemed okay. We took him to the shelter and had him checked out, and he joined the many other dogs waiting for a good home. A staff member (Janice, a vet technician who’d spent a year in Japan) named him Gohan, after a Dragon Ball Z (anime) character. Wire-haired dogs are not very popular here, so we all hoped he would have an opportunity abroad. And happily it worked out!”

Fluffy/Gohan/Hogan the day he was brought into the humane society shelter (May 18, 2011)

So I think Hogan probably flew to Canada on a plane from Cozumel. What an adventure that must’ve been for him! The Cozumel Humane Society is always looking for Americans and Canadians to escort rescued dogs to local rescue organizations who’ve agreed to try to rehome the dogs. It also asks for donations of crates (brought from Canada or the U.S., where they’re much cheaper than they are in Mexico). If you’re planning a winter getaway to Mexico, please visit the Humane Society of Cozumel Island‘s website to see what donations are needed!

Thank you, Monica, Lisa, Janice, Teresa, and Andrea, for sharing with me the story of Gohan! We are so grateful to you and to those four homeless men for rescuing him and helping him find his way home to us. We love him!


Getting Ready for the Holidays

Back in November, with the help of Rollover, we convinced the dogs to pose for a Christmas photo:

We woof you a merry Christmas!

Aren’t they adorable?!



Hogan’s First Dose of Winter

All three of our dogs came to us from other parts of the world. Cora and Dusty came from Kentucky, and since I have  family there, I know Kentucky does occasionally get snow, so it’s likely that both dogs had seen snow before. Mexico, however, definitely does not get snow, so winter is a new experience for Hogan. Fortunately, Mother Nature has been slowly easing Hogan into the worst of Canadian weather.

We had our first snowfall of the season on November 30. When Hogan saw those flakes falling, he seemed uncertain but curious. He won’t willingly go outside when it’s raining, but he did step over the threshold of the patio door while the snow was falling, so he seemed to know it was different. He didn’t stay out long, though, and didn’t venture off the deck at all. A few hours later, once snow had accumulated on the ground, I tried to get Hogan out again. He was having none of it, so I had to carry him to the snow-covered grass. I got his first snow experiences on video (see below). I admit it’s a little anti-climactic, but it’s cute nevertheless! (And apparently, I put the captions too low, so they got cut off. Oops! I’ll try to redo it soon.)

This week we had another first when the temperature went down to -6 Celsius: The dogs got to wear their winter coats. Cora won a beautiful coat from Canada Pooch a few weeks ago, and we ended up buying a Canada Pooch coat for Dusty, too. Hogan is currently wearing a hand-me-down from Roxie (it was always a little big for her, but it turns out it’s a little small for Hogan, so he’ll be getting a Canada Pooch coat too). Here they are in their winter wear:

Dusty, Cora, and Hogan just back from their first walk in their winter coats

The first walk in their coats was an adventure. Hogan walked super-slowly and wouldn’t pee at all (turns out there was a strap over his willy, which I’ve since cut off—the strap, not his willy). Cora, too, was slower than usual. Dusty was his typical zig-zagging, nutty self. Little fazes our Dusty!

It’s looking as though we’re going to have a green Christmas, which is okay, I guess. But as far as I’m concerned, the highlight of winter will be watching my dogs running about and playing in the snow. So, Mother Nature, thanks for easing our little Hogan into the harshest season, but I think it’s time to get on with it already! 🙂

Dusty’s Uncontrollable Barking

Dusty’s barking is getting out of control. Yes, he’s a hound, so he barks. And when he barks, even in the house, the neighbours surely can hear him. He’s THAT loud. When we first met Dusty, as regular readers know (and others can click here to read about), we walked away certain that he wasn’t the dog we wanted. And it was because of that bark. That non-stop, loud, deep, fierce bark.

However, Dusty’s foster mom, Louise, convinced us that Dusty didn’t bark in the house, and when we had our home visit with him, it seemed she was right. Not a peep. And for about six months, Dusty’s occasional bark has been manageable.

Dusty in one of his quieter moments (he's so sweet when he's like this!)

But in the past couple of weeks, Dusty has been barking both more often and more uncontrollably (i.e., once he starts, we can’t get him to stop). He barks at everything—an animal walking across the TV screen, the prospect of going outside, any other dog he sees on our walk, Hogan when Dusty wants to play but Hogan doesn’t want to, any person who is talking to him, and, most annoying, he barks at me for no apparent reason. If I stand up from sitting, he stands in front of me and barks, barks, barks, barks, and he won’t stop. And, of course, once he starts, Hogan gets in on the action. Mayhem! Tonight, Dusty even started barking when I was petting Hogan. Dusty had slept on my lap for more than an hour (he is such a sweet, cuddly dog most of the time), so afterward, I decided I’d give Hogan and Cora some attention. Dusty apparently didn’t like that.

Most of Dusty’s barking is spurred on by excitement. As Kathy at TAGS pointed out to me, quite rightly, it just doesn’t seem right to punish a dog for being happy or excited. But we can’t let it go on as it is, in large part because Wes and I both work from home, and we need a somewhat quiet atmosphere to concentrate in and to conduct business calls and the like.

What to do? I would never use a shock collar, but there are more humane options: citronella collars, vibrating collars, spray bottles, noise makers. Noise makers aren’t an option because they freak out Cora, our fearful dog. Kathy suggested teaching Dusty to take a toy when he starts so that he’ll have something in his mouth. I tried that, but he won’t focus on anything other than the thing that is holding his attention during the barking episode. Anybody out there have any ideas?