Johnnie the Miss Social

Johnnie’s taught me a lot of things in the past three weeks, but one big lesson I owe her is the realization that having an uber social dog is awesome! Not that Baxter or Otis were extremely shy or fearful, but they could get a little nervous in large social settings – a totally normal reaction for even the most good-natured dogs. Lots of new people can be overwhelming and scary. But not for Johnnie Cash!

I brought her with me to my girlfriend’s house for a dinner party get together this past weekend. When we walked in and saw all the people – about a dozen or so – my friend asked me, “Is it going to be too much for her?” and I was happy to reply, “Nope, she’s going to love it!” Johnnie is truly a social butterfly and loves meeting strangers. She immediately made her rounds to everyone at the party with her full body wag going a million miles a minute. An instant hit with everyone, Johnnie settled right in.

The nice thing about bringing Johnnie around is that she’s the perfect blend of independent yet focused. Unlike some dogs I’ve had in the past, Johnnie is not attached to my hip when we do new things – in fact, she’d probably prefer anyone else’s lap just as much as, if not more than, mine. But despite her love for making friends, I was able to keep her in check all night by always bringing her focus back to me. I had her on leash the whole time since we were eating dinner and because I haven’t gotten the jumping under wraps yet, and that helped me keep her out of everyone’s way. We were constantly practicing sit, down and touch to keep her engaged with me instead of others’ meals.

I was proud of how she calmed down pretty much right after we got there (after her initial exuberant greetings of course) and how she even let me eat my dinner without trying to beg for food the entire time. After dinner Johnnie decided she’d had so much fun socializing that she was ready for bed and immediately snuggled up with a few of us. I must say that tiring your dog out via social events with your friends is pretty awesome!

photo 1-9 photo 1-8

photo 2-8 photo 5-3 photo 4-4 photo 3-6

photo 2-7

photo 3-5

To adopt your own social butterfly Johnnie Cash, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Energy Management

The first day after I brought Johnnie Cash home I thought, “What did I get myself into?” I came back from work and she started flying around the house doing zoomies until I was dizzy. For over an hour she would bounce around excitedly trying to play. I took her on a walk that night and couldn’t stop shaking my head at the little firecracker I had chosen to take home. “I’m active, but I’m not this active,” I thought. And then Johnnie & I returned home from the walk and she completely passed out in her bed around 8 pm, sleeping through the night. I realized she was a little more on my level than I thought.

That is the key to it all: using up Johnnie’s energy in intentional bursts so that she’s laid back the rest of the time – or, as Mark calls it, energy management! I’m sure a lot of you are rolling your eyes at me right now because – duh – you all have to do this with your dogs. But since I haven’t had a very “energetic” dog in a long time, I wasn’t sure if she’d have an off switch. Luckily Johnnie certainly does.  I generally take her on one hour-long walk in the morning and one-hour long walk in the evening – along with some games of tug, fetch and clicker training in between – and that pretty much does her in.

My point is that instead of saying, “This dog is nuts!” and dealing with her being generally active all the time, we experimented with different exercise amounts and mind games that fit both her needs and my capabilities to create a happy, settled dog pretty. Sure, it took a few days for me to get used to the fact that I need to spend a decent amount of time exercising her, but our walks together have become routine, pleasant and a de-stresser for both of us. They make me feel a lot better because I know she’s walking out any pent up heebie-jeebies, and they make her feel a lot better because, well, she’s walking out any pent up heebie-jeebies!

Another important part of Johnnie’s exercise needs is keeping her at a safe, productive level of excitement and activity. For the first week and a half I had Johnnie I would take her into the backyard and chase after her and we’d do glorious zoomies for a half hour, but when I wanted to be done, she most certainly did not. She would come back into the house, still in zoomie mode, and not settle down for another half hour. It got to the point where I was letting her get entirely too riled up and she was reverting back to her old bad behaviors because she was just too stimulated.

001

I learned very quickly how important moderation is with J. When she gets too wired, it’s like her brain turns off. So we work on ways to keep her brain on. When we go to play in the backyard, I’m sure to bring a clicker and treats with me to practice sit, touch and other focus activities in between running around like a goofball. When we’re playing inside, I always practice impulse control with her toys, just to keep her mind working. Little J is such a happy puppy, but that can get the best of her sometimes. If I notice she’s getting too worked up, we stop the game and chill out on the couch. She’s very receptive to your energy levels, so when you stop moving around, she usually does too. . . eventually.

I let her be a dog. I let her bounce around and I play with her when I know she has energy to burn off and I give her expectations I know she can meet. I wouldn’t ask her to be calm at the end of the day if I hadn’t exercised her at all, you know? The more we figure her out and can tell when she just needs a little jog, the more understanding we are of her behaviors. Usually we both end up heavily snoozing at the end of the day and I have to drag her out of bed in the morning (which, by the way, is the cutest thing ever).

002

If you’re interested in adding a mostly sleepy and snuggly, but sometimes bouncy, Johnnie Cash to your family, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Girls Day Out

I have to admit, I’m really enjoying having a female foster! Out of the last six temporary or long-term fosters we’ve had, Johnnie is only the second girl. It’s like having a girlfriend around all the time! We gossip, we watch trashy tv, we workout together – she’s basically a new BFF.

We spent some girly time together this past long weekend when I hung out with a couple of my human BFFs. I was excited to introduce them to Johnnie, and she was, as usual, beyond excited to meet them! It was only seconds after meeting my college roomie Sarah that Johnnie found herself in Sarah’s lap in the back seat of my car, as seen in yesterday’s post about Why You Want Johnnie.

The four of us enjoyed a leisurely outdoor hike. We spent the morning catching up and chatting about what’s going on in our lives – ya know, girlfriend type stuff. We also didn’t pass up the opportunity to play on a playground we found or take fun pictures.

01 02 03

My friends really fell in love with J, like I expected them too. I’m not kidding when I tell you that everyone who meets this dog turns to total mush.

05 06 04

I want to take this post to point out that my friend Courtney walked Johnnie all the way home from the park. This is cool because Courtney is a tiny little woman and would not be inclined to walk a dog that didn’t have really awesome leash manners! I am very proud of Johnnie for earning the chance to walk with Court.

0708

09

A good time was had by all – as to be expected when you go out with your BFFs!

10

To make Johnnie Cash your very own BFF, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Why You Want Me Wednesday

Foster mama says there are a gajillion reasons why someone should want to adopt me. She says there are so many reasons that they all deserve their own post. So from now on, every Wednesday I will tell you a reason why you want me in your family.

Today’s reason:

lap

Yep, that’s right. My compact 40ish pound body loves to find its way on and around your lap. Sometimes it even happens without you noticing. . . one second you’re petting me and the next second – bam! I’m curled up in your lap. See for yourself!

lap01 lap02 MarkLap

Am I not the cutest thing ever, or what?

If you want to adopt Johnnie Cash to be your lap dog, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Johnnie’s Inaugural Scrub

There are a couple things you really have to do with a dog you spring from a shelter, and giving them a bath is on the top of that list for us at PLF. To her dismay, Johnnie was no exception.

bath02

Mark decided he wanted to try and make it her decision to get in the tub (unlike the fate of many others who simply get picked up and plopped in). We tried for about ten minutes using one of her favorite antlers, to no avail. So she was plopped in as well. She surrendered to the suds almost immediately after we got her in there.

bath01

bath03

But, like most of our foster pups, Johnnie Cash reaped the reward of a good shake off and towel dry down afterwards. She pretended like she didn’t like that part either, but I know she was soaking up the attention.  All in all she was a model pup for her first bath time!

bath05

Photo by foster dad.

Photo by foster dad.

Photo by foster dad.

If you’d like to add a fresh and clean Johnnie Cash to your family, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Summary: Officially One Week Together

First weeks with a new dog are generally pretty nuts. I was making the joke before Johnnie came back that we were putting our helmets on, battening down the hatches and going into the week head first. You never know what “issues” a new dog will have adjusting to their new life in your home.

I am very happy to say that the first week with Johnnie went relatively well! I’m not saying there weren’t some bumps, but all in all Johnnie has been easy going while she adjusts to living in our home (. . . KNOCK ON WOOD PLEASE).  Here’s a bit of a rundown of the first week having her with us!

Sunday – Her first day out of the shelter. I picked her up Sunday morning, took her for a run, took her to a doggy play date and then joined some shelter friends at an adoption event. She was completely wiped out by the time I brought her home so she slept all evening and did WONDERFULLY in her crate Sunday night! I had no idea if she was going to come used to the crate, take to it quickly enough or absolutely hate it and require intensive crate training.

Monday – I worked from home Monday morning to help her adjust since we only had a whirlwind Sunday together. She slept most of the morning, but I took her for a short run when we both woke up. I left her with my dad for the afternoon while I went to work and she did really well at home (which basically means she didn’t bug him all day). She got her paws on a random piece of wood in the house – she’s got a real thing for sticks – but other than that she didn’t do anything she wasn’t supposed to.

Tuesday – This was her first day coming into the office with me. I took her for a walk first thing and then she slept pretty much all morning in her pen next to my desk. A minor issue arose when I left for two hours in the middle of the day. I completely failed her by bringing her to a new place and then leaving her, and she made a bit of a fuss to my coworkers in my absence.  She behaved really well when I came back, but I knew it didn’t set us off on the right foot. I felt so awful that I didn’t set her up for success. The evening went well though and again she fell right asleep in her crate.

Wednesday – Wednesday was a pretty uneventful day! I decided to start a routine of bringing her to work for only a half day and then letting her stay at home with dad the rest of the day (I’m so lucky I have that luxury).  I had to go to reactive dog class in the evening so she was at home without me for the evening as well and she did fine. As long as I make sure she’s had enough exercise, usually all she does is lounge around with my parents. If she doesn’t get enough exercise, you can probably find her doing zoomies around the house/in the yard.  This evening she had an accident inside though, something she hadn’t done yet while living with us. It was – sorry for the gory details – some pretty runny stool. Poor monkey had a stomach ache!

ThursdayValentine’s Day! Johnnie joined me at work for the whole day because I didn’t have any meetings or anything to pull me away from my desk. She did well, but was a little antsy because we were both too lazy to get up for a walk that morning – bad foster mom! I took her for a jog after work because I was leaving her with my parents over night. She was “good as gold” for them, except she had another runny accident in the house :-(. I knew it was just because she couldn’t hold it since her stomach hurt so bad.

Friday – The upset stomach continued. . . I came home early Friday morning to a poor pup with a very messy crate. We (finally) decided to nix any treats or food except for some bland food the shelter gave us for dogs with upset tummies.   She was at work with me in the morning and then when I finally got home that afternoon. . . it was the weekend! We went for a long run/walk in the rain and spent the evening relaxing and playing with toys. I was so relieved to finally have the ability to spend as much time together as we wanted without having to impose on my parents to watch her while I was at work.

Saturday – Freedom! We woke up early and joined the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s Pit Crew on a walk along the Potomac River. It was the first time Johnnie would be in a situation with so many other dogs. She did great, considering. She had some trouble focusing when we first got there because of all the stimulation, but as the walk went on she got better. I had to keep reminding myself this is all new to her and she is still learning and I shouldn’t be too hard on either of us if she isn’t perfect! She wasn’t reactive towards any of the dogs and some other walkers commented on how well she did. I was very proud of her!

Afterwards we made a special stop to get Johnnie a new toy and then hung out at Mark’s for some R&R, and then headed out on another short hike just the three of us. At the end of the day I took her to the Foster Dog Alliance class given by Your Dog’s Friend. Again, I had to remind myself that neither of us are going to be perfect in class because it was OUR FIRST TIME. Johnnie is already a pro at sit, down and touch. We practiced “watch me” and four on the floor. Johnnie has some manners to still master when it comes to greeting people – I think that will be our biggest project. She was so wiped out from the day that she curled up in her crate on her own at about 8 and just slept there the rest of the night. A tired dog is a happy… owner :-).

petco

Sunday – Another early morning for us at a group dog walk with B-More Dog! It was freeeezing but Johnnie was a trooper. I wanted to make sure we still had a good experience with so many other dogs so we stayed pretty separated from the group. I brought the clicker to this walk to reinforce some of the focusing tools we’d learned at the foster dog alliance class. She seemed to really love the structure and consistent reinforcement and stayed much more focused during this walk than the Pit Crew walk. People at the inner harbor LOVED her (I mean, who wouldn’t?).  I was very happy with how well she did with so many people and other dogs.

We swung by an MCHS adoption event on the way home, but only briefly. Johnnie’s favorite place to show off is somewhere with space and places to get away from other dogs or scary things (cars, trucks). Events where we’re in a small store with narrow aisles and lots of other dogs are not exactly our favorite. Instead of pushing her into a situation where she wouldn’t happy (and therefore would be outwardly cranky – something not so nice looking to the public), we left the event early and on a good note. I had plans for Sunday evening so she spent from about 6 pm on at home with parents, mostly switching between snoozing and telling them she deserves parts of their meal.

bmore

Johnnie is such a special dog, and she shows that more every day.  I know I made it seem like she’s perfect in the above description, and she’s close to it – but there are still things that we need to work on to make her the best dog she can be for her forever family.  I’ll talk about this later in the week, but the worst part about the past seven days has been anticipating what might still go wrong – again, bad foster mom!

Right now my family and I are just enjoying the little things like watching Johnnie pounce after a squeaky toy or gently waddle over to you all groggy after waking up from a nap.  I absolutely love her, and I know there is someone else out there who one day will too.

If you’re interested in adopting Johnnie Cash, email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Will U Be Mine? – The Johnnie Edition

Johnnie Cash is borrowing almost this exact same post from Baxter’s search for a Valentine last year because it is just so perfect. Bax wrote this poem, and now Johnnie wants to know the same. . . will you be hers? See for yourself:

rosesarered

violetsareblue ifyouadoptme foreverloveyou

Couldn’t have said it better myself, J girl!  Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Take this day as an excuse to tell EVERYONE you love in your life – parents, friends, significant others, pets – how much you appreciate them. I sure do love y’all!