Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Hand

Family Portrait.

Lucky Puppy.

So as posted before, Colbert likes to observe play time with Max and Buela. This morning, as D was wrestling with them Colbert tried to get in on the action. However when D reached out to Colbert he would back off but still huff and bark...with an actual onomatopoeic "woof". It truly was cute. When D was patting Max during this episode, Colbert would come up and sniff at D's hand and arm. But again back away when D reached solely out to Colbert.

Apparently during the afternoon, Colbert got comfortable enough to nearly quasi-play with "The Hand".

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Last night.

His bald spot.

Colbert likes to hide under dog beds, especially in corners. That whole ostrich with his head in the sand mentality.

Yesterday, Colbert went to the vets to be neutered, I was expecting a drugged up, relaxed, and groggy Colbert, much like Buela was back in March. However, he was quite alert, which of course makes sense because his neutering was less traumatic than a hysterectomy.
I will let D tell the story about what happened at bed time:


So the little guy is slowly coming out of his shell. When he's downstairs with the rest of us and we're watching TV he'll constantly travel back and forth between his two favorite safe spots. He doesn't hang out under the dining table much anymore. I think it's him showing his desire the be with the group but not fully ready yet, so this is as close as he can manage.

When I'm on the floor playing with the other dogs he'll come up and join as long as I ignore him. When I say his name or reach out my hand at him, he retreats.

Last night had a strange turn. So it's common for Buela to walk all over us while in bed and often lick our faces until we wake up, so that was my first thought as I awoke to something crawling around my head. But it turned out to be Colbert, and he was burrowing under my pillow. His standard position to take whenever he lies down is to bury his nose under something or in a corner. Because of that he's rubbed off a little patch of hair on his snout. So he was under my pillow, then decided to move over to W's, then back to mine, then on top of W's, then tried to go in reverse on top of mine, until I finally picked him up and placed him beside the bed and the night stand. I took a pillow and laid it on top of him so that he'd have his face buried. And that's how I found him when I got out of bed.

Hopefully this shows that his rehabilitation will progress faster and in abrupt advances rather than imperceptibly slow.


A question from D's Dad:
so does he ever just let you pet him for a while? or does he always move away? how about eye contact?

He avoids eye contact when I kneel down to approach him as he frantically looks around for an escape route. He lets us touch him in that he tolerates it, but I don't know if he's enjoying it( he gets terribly tense and his body will be rock hard- W). Whenever we're petting him it's when he's cornered or while we're holding him, so if he had a way out, he'd take it. Which makes him visiting us while we were sleeping last night all the more unexplainable.

He was panting vigorously the whole time as though we were forcing him into a stressful situation, but nothing made him get on the bed and he even left the bed and then got back up. His behavior is well beyond my interpretive skills. (
His body wasn't tense last night when I petted him, he was just hiding under pillows -W) If Cesar (Milan) didn't get already get a torrent of emails, I'd ask him about it.

So many methods I read about online of other people's feral or abused dogs that they've helped are not applicable to Colbert. Those stories I read are of either a domesticated dog who was abused or of taming a feral dog who has never been abused. Colbert is both abused and feral, so it's a doubled level of difficulty. At least he's showing improvement and he gets along well with the other dogs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Colbert sleeping, his bum in in the corner with his tail wrapped up along his body, his head is under the green dog bed.

Today Colbert barked for the first time, it was while he was playing with his consummate playmate, Buela. It took me a minute, lying in bed at 6 am, trying to figure who that was because it didn't sound like any of the other pups. It makes me so happy that he is relaxed enough to bark and play with them, I just wish he would consider getting closer to us.

Contrary to what I just said, this afternoon he was walking towards me, possibly to flirt with Max or Buela, he got with in a foot of me until I turned my head at the movement. - sigh

At this point in time he has found himself another cubby hole to hide in , he did a ferret double over move to get in there and has buried his head under a dog bed while wedged between the wall and a bookcase(see the above picture). I can hear him sleeping now because he is doing the same huffing and whining that Buela does when she's caught something good while dreaming.


Sunday night, I brought everyone into our room for bedtime. I also brought the last bits of rawhides from an open bag...I figured 6 or 7 pieces and 4 dogs will work out just right. In about a half hour or so Colbert growled at Buela when she got too close to a rawhide that was a foot from the open crate he likes to lay in. I got up to find Buela a different rawhide to go after, only to realize that all of them were gone. These were 4" x 4" rawhides, even the most anxious, bored, and hungry ACD couldn't have eaten all of them in 30 minutes. So I checked on Colbert to be sure he at least had one and to swipe the one in front of the crate for Buela. That's when I realized that Colbert had retrieved every last rawhide and was hoarding them under the cushion in the crate.

Time will only tell - however I have heard of dogs being in homes for years and still hiding things like food, toys, and anything else that they think will get taken away.


In the mean time, this is my newest favorite forum: AUCADO.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Play time.

Last night, instead of saying "Hi Colbert" whenever he ventured out into open space of the living room, I would say "Hi Baby; Hi Puppy; Hi Baby-Puppy" which would get Corona excited, and since he has a fascination with her he would get excited too. Then the romping with Buela and Max would ensue.

Today apparently Colbert also participated in what is affectionately called 'Get Max' which is basically just wrestling on the carpet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Food Agression

Still hiding amongst the chairs.


D says:

Colbert is getting better. I don't think that he believes that we'll hurt him. I think he avoids us and gets tense when we hold him out of habit rather than genuine fear. When I'm on the couch he'll work up the desire to play with Max and Buela. I'll call out his name, which I think he recognizes, and he'll stop playing, turn to his safe spot by the dining table, and after a minute he'll return to playing. Each successive time I call out his name he walks away a little less ultimately only doing a turnaround. So I think it's just habit for him.


When we first received Colbert, we were told that he had attacked one of his litter mates over food, namely because Colbert is a runt and was being crowded out of the food bowl. The first few times we tried feeding all four together there was some rumbling of the throat, lunging, and charging.

As of tonight, there is just his own crowding out of the others from his food dish. This is mainly for Max and Buela as Corona seems uninterested in him, specifically because of ungentlemanly behavior involving her posterior.

Max just wants to check out the new playmate and assert the pecking order, while Buela has a perpetual bottomless pit substituting as her stomach.

Haha, I still remember her as a puppy eating her dinner and drinking water until her little belly looked like she'd swallowed a softball.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stepping stones.

Max and Buela in Colbert's new spot.

He has learned to take the stairs both up and down. Which makes catching him slightly more complicated. And once one of us does manage to fetch him, his entire body is tight with tension, it makes me wonder how sore his muscles get. D has managed to teach him that when he puts Colbert on the floor, he isn't going to let him go until he relaxes. So now he immediately relaxes, mainly because he has learned this means release.

He also has a new favorite hiding spot ; but is relatively easy to flush out from there without too much stress. Clothing left on the laundry room floor has also become a favorite lounge spot/hideaway.

Otherwise all is the same, he officially does look at us when he say his name, and he is still cavorting with our pups. Play time makes me realize that there is a puppy inside that just wants to be accepted and loved. Makes me wish dogs spoke english.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Corona, Colbert, and my foot.

Nearly a week now and he no issues with the dogs and is getting used to us talking to him but still will dart away if we even move in his direction, regardless of if we are coming to pet him or just walking to the kitchen for a beverage. He may be realizing the Colbert (pronounced: kohl-bear) is his name, or at the very least something that we say in reference to him, because he now turns and looks at us.

He has, unfortunately, developed a bald spot on the top of his nose. I am presuming that it is from stress, either by rubbing it with his foot or on another surface like the Dogloo, or incessant licking. D and I have seen none of this action taking place, but have no other ideas of what it could be from.

He has also gotten more submissive to the fact that he is getting picked up, only in that he hasn't bared his teeth at us and attempted to whip his head back to bite. His body still gets rock hard with tension and stress, but this is also what needs to be done to take him up and down stairs as well as help him realize that bipeds aren't all bad.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Weekend Recap:

Sitting in the living room, nearest his favorite corner; safe, but able to hide at a moments notice.

Just after his bath on Friday, he looks so little and vulnerable.

One of his other hideaways, in the dining room under the window.

As written by D:

After having Colbert since the 4th, he's showing a lot of promise and I expect him to be achieving several milestones over the next one to two months. The first day I brought him home, I let him out of his crate with my other dogs eagerly watching from a distance. One at a time each of my dogs came up to him and smelled him and he smelled them back. Ever since they have all got along great. Buela, my 10-month old Australian Cattle Dog, and Colbert started playing with each other right away. Both of them being herding dogs, they didn't know what to do with each other when they began to try to herd one another. He really likes my 3-year old Chow-Lab mix, Max.

When I let him roam free in the living room when I'm at the computer or on the couch watching TV, he wanders around with curiosity mingling with the other dogs. His tail wags his tail and jumps around in little hops with vim whenever he's interacting with the others. He acts like a normal dog with them. That's a great sign, I think. All of my dogs are calm and well-behaved, giving a great example for Colbert to emulate.

With W and I, however, he's still unsure and doesn't fully trust us. The first day he ate the wet and dry mixed dog food from my hand and then from his bowl without any problems. He'll eat his food and drink his water with me in the room, while still maintaining a distance. He's grown fond of the rawhide treats that the others enjoy. When the moment is right and I approach him correctly, he'll lick my fingers. He once spent a few minutes on the bed with all of us, but decided he wasn't ready for it.

I tried feeding him his meal last night in the living room but with the other dogs in view he couldn't handle it and became aggressive with protecting his food. He even charged at Buela who was a few yards away, but I stood up and snapped my fingers and he retreated. I took him right to his room upstairs and he finished his meal there. Once he gets tamed I'll work on his food-aggression, but for now the issue will just be avoided.



W and I have fostered a little 9-month old Corgi mix from a local Pet Helpers shelter who we've named Colbert. He and his 4 siblings were feral and got captured by some guy who harshly abused them. The only specific abuse I know of was one sibling had lye thrown on his face, so he has loss of hair in that area from the chemical burn. Colbert's abuse is unknown, but certain. He keeps his distance from W and I, but has no problem with the other 3 dogs in the house. He twitches and becomes very stressed whenever we touch him.

I brought him home on Thursday and showed no problems with Max, Corona, and Buela. He even started playing with Buela. Both of them being herding dogs they didn't know what to do with each other. He really likes Max, and looks like a mini-Max, but Max doesn't want to play with him. If he's by himself in the corner of the room away from Wendy and I, he'll relax and go to sleep. But he'll go back to stress mode when I pick him up. He's put up less of a fight each successive time, so I think he's learning that either I will eventually pick him up or that I won't hurt him.

If I approach him the right way, he'll stay still and let me slide my hand up to his nose. Sometimes he'll lick our fingers. We took him to the vet yesterday to get him up to date with shots and get rabies vaccinated. We'll be getting him neutered too.

The attached pictures are after we bathed him, so his hair is a little damp still. He didn't really fight during the bath—not any more than if I had simply been holding him.

Anyway, rather than adopting every dog in the world, fostering one at a time is a more efficient way of maximizing the number of dogs we can help. So when Colbert is back to normal he'll be returned to Pet Helpers and put up for adoption. Taming an abused, wild dog may take up to a year, from what I've read online.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Day One.

Sitting in D's lap.

D picked up Colbert this afternoon around four. Personally I was expecting a dog that wouldn't even emerge from his crate never mind one that is busily ambling around the house checking everything out.

He has even taken to competitive herding with Buela, neither one knowing what to do with the other. Otherwise there is much time spent holed up in whatever small corner he can find with a wall to press himself against.

Both D and I thought he was bigger than he actually is, he is about the same size as Corona and looks like a mini Max with his spotted purple tongue and fluffy tail. His eyes are all big and owlish. It makes him look like an old man even though he will be just a year old come thanksgiving. It reminds you of just how much he has been through. He reminds me of a little blond bear cub with a curly tail.

He also has found something to click in the kitchen though I cannot find it.

He will stop whatever he is doing and walk away at a quick trot if he notices you looking at him or hears you coming.

Corners and no way out other than past you are not a good thing. However, beyond when D picked him up at Pet Helpers, he shows no signs of aggression, just want for flight from human contact - despite eating out of our hands.

Right now at this very moment, he and Max are facing off, Colbert, with his neck outstretched can just press his nose against Max's. His tail is wagging wildly, and if you're a dog person or know dogs, these are all signs of "play with me!". I will be the first to admit that I am a total mush ball, and to see a dog that I thought was going to be a torturous journey towards normalcy wagging his tail and playing on his first day is miraculous to me.


Today is the day.

The notorious Dogloo.

Tonight we pick up Colbert, the dogs know something is up, especially after seeing the Craigslist igloo doghouse in the back yard this morning. More to come.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Preparation: T-minus 3 days and counting...

Max, Corona, and Buela.

Thursday marks the day we pick up Colbert, previously known as Zambia, From Pet Helpers on Folly Rd in Charleston.

But first some background on us. D and I (W) live in SC courtesy the USN. We live with our 3 dogs, Corona (chichi mix) , Buela (AuCaDo), and Max (Chow mix).

Corona was an ASPCA dog. Turned in for chewing, barking, whining, digging, and other destructive behavior, we were told to put away our shoes and protect the cabinets and carpets. I immediately told the representative at the ASPCA, she's still just a puppy, that's what they do. We are her 5th and forever home. She is now 2 years old, she may still have minor housebreaking issues and not like strangers, but she is a lovable little cuddle bug. If your lap is available; she is there.

Buela is our only 'breed' dog, and though we are now against people 'shopping' for a dog vs adopting one that surely needs a better life, we wouldn't return her for anything. Still a puppy at nearly 11 months, full of energy due to her breed, she is an active, excitable, endearing ball of fur that seems to live for jumping on us at 6 am, complete with a tongue bath ambush to the face.

Max is another ASPCA rescue. His previous owner, adpoted him from the same shelter we got Corona from. She is also USN and had to report to her ship in CA. We took him in hoping to break him of his fear of discipline. After 6 months with us he has developed into playful fluff ball, has developed a love of fetch and competition in Buela, is a resolute truck dog, and eager assistant in all landscaping projects, which means he just follows D everywhere.

As for D and I, we have been together nearly 3 years come New Years. We are followers of Cesar Milan's teachings, though we know that they will not be useful to us for some time with Colbert. We also believe in proper use of choke chains, micro-chipping, nail clipping, eye cleaning, discipline, love, and fun.

PS: don't know who Stephen Colbert is?