Snuggler in Training

Growing up, my Wheaten Terrier Barley was a pretty independent dog. Even with my mom, who he absolutely adored, he liked to have his space and do his own thing. He would sleep on the bed – when you weren’t on it. He would tolerate affection for a brief moment, until he realized what was going on and would dart away. He would be excited to see you when you got home, but got over it pretty fast. But that’s just how Barley was, and we loved him all the same.

So when Baxter came to our house, settled in, and decided he appreciated his space, I didn’t mind. It became clear after being with us for a few weeks that Baxter isn’t exactly Mr. Snuggle. He will lean into you for a good scratch for hours, but if you go to embrace, he scoots away.

You can tell that something about tight spaces makes him uncomfortable. Being constrained by a human (so the action of hugging – along with holding for shots and vet care) freaks him out.  Who knows if it is because of something that happened in his past, or the fact that he started his life with humans over half way through his existence – but Baxter does not seem to know that human closeness is a good thing.

For the sake of his own mental comfort, and a little bit for my own selfish want to snuggle, I have been trying to show Baxter that being close to people can be good. Every time I go to embrace him, I give him treats. When in doubt: counter condition! (A little trick I learned from my go-to doggy brainiac). He has come a long way already. He still won’t exactly seek out affection, but he certainly tolerates it a whole lot better. Exhibit A:

Whether Baxter warms up to snuggling, or this is just the way he is – it really doesn’t matter. Baxter shows his love for you in a lot of different ways. He runs to greet you at the door, and will do excited zoomies in your honor. He will kiss your face with big smacking kisses as much as you let him. He will sleep at your feet, by your bed, beside you on the couch, for as long as you are there. He will lay with you on the ground, accepting a belly rub or full body scratch. He will work his hardest to please you during training sessions. He will wag enthusiastically when he joins you on a new adventure. He will look to you for affirmation when you are in a new place. He will be steadfast and loyal in his love for you for as long as he lives, and what more can we ask for?

I feel that because my relationship with Baxter hasn’t been built through a physical connection, it’s actually that much stronger. Do I wish sometimes on rainy days that he’d curl up on the couch with me? Sure. But I have fallen so hard for so many other things about him that I don’t even seem to notice anymore. He is an incredible dog that has so much to offer, and I know his forever family will see that and love him just as much as I do.

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


The Many Faces of Bax

Baxter’s expressions say a lot about him.

There is the sweet face that melts your heart.

Then the sad face.

The goofy face (one of my faves).

The serious face.

And the happy-to-see-you face, which – since it is Wednesday morning- is one I got to experience this morning when I picked Baxter up from boarding!!!

I love all of Baxter’s looks. His forever home is going to have a great time learning about all these and more. Experiencing a dog’s full personality is one of the most rewarding things I can think of! Don’t you want to get to know Mr. Bax, and all of his faces?

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Baxter at Sniffers Update

Baxter’s hero Big Bruno visited Baxter over the weekend during his stay at doggy day care. I was beyond thrilled to get an update — and a super positive one at that! Bruno said Baxter is doing great, and I’m sure this visit helped Baxter feel even more comfortable in this new, unfamiliar place.

First, he texted me this. I was happy just to see a picture of mister Bax! Look at that waggy tail : -)

Then Bruno emailed me over this video, which I can’t stop watching!

Seeing my boy so happy puts me at ease while I’m twelve hours away and unable to take care of him myself. I’m so thankful for people like Big Bruno who look out for him while I’m gone. Still, I can’t wait to go pick him up in a few days!

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Shippin’ Out

I found out on Monday that I’m going away this weekend on family business, and unfortunately Baxter can’t come.  With Jasmine’s House being full of puppies, I had to find a place for him to stay in only a little bit of time. I won’t trust just anyone with my precious Bax, and I knew exactly who to call. MCHS works closely with a daycare called Sniffers Doggie Depot and I knew they would take great care of Baxter. I called up the owner, who I work with for events like Howl-o-ween, and she said she could fit him in no problem. Phew!

So Baxter is putting on his party hat and heading out to Sniffers for the long weekend.

Just kidding, do you really think he would let himself be seen in a PINK cowboy hat?

Yeah, definitely not.

I’ll be missing this little man all weekend, but I’m so thankful that he’ll be in good hands. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to blog the beginning of next week, but you can be sure that I’ll update on how Baxter’s stay is going (or went) as soon as I can.

Have a great weekend!

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


It’s Always Better When We’re Together

. . . or is it?

To me, separation anxiety is one of the most intimidating behavior issues to deal with. The fact that it manifests itself when you’re not around makes it seem like a daunting challenge to overcome. Thanks to the brains of the dog behavior geniuses I’m surrounded by, I do at least know some arsenal in combating separation anxiety, should I ever have to face it.

So when I agreed to foster Baxter and was warned of possible separation issues, I braced myself for the worst. Some of you may remember over the summer when Baxter was at the Jasmine’s House farm and ate a leash, resulting in multiple surgeries to remove the impassible object. No one was sure what triggered the leash eating, but it was anyone’s best guess that it was due to separation anxiety. I knew at the very least I would have to be super diligent in observing Baxter’s behavior and anxiety to prevent another “leash incident”.

We knew that if his anxiety got bad when he came to us, our one saving grace would be that he was already used to spending time in his crate.  He was sleeping on a Kuranda bed at the time because we were afraid when he was alone in his crate that he would eat the bedding (which is something he did at the vet recovering from his first surgery).  When he first came into my home my eyes were on him at all times, and if I wasn’t around then he was in the crate.

Well, it ended up that Baxter’s separation anxiety never really did show itself. The first few weeks when we would put him in his crate he would bark a little at first, but now – thanks to keeping a routine – he knows when bed time is and happily trots into his bed and goes to sleep, sans any woofing or whimpering.

Under supervision, the leash eating issue has also basically disappeared. While we still take precautions to make sure he isn’t put in a situation where he can swallow something inedible, I do trust him to not be around me all the time. In his crate he has even graduated to a mattress instead of the Kuranda bed, which he absolutely LOVES – shown by the fact that he chooses to sleep there on his own accord throughout the day.

Even though my Dad works from home so someone is usually always around, Baxter would stay in a crate if I was out. I didn’t want my Dad to feel pressured to watch him closely (when we were still being paranoid and diligent about preventing him from eating things) when he needed to be working.  After a few weeks though, we were able to set up a “Baxter proof” space; essentially just two hallways with all the room doors shut, connected by a set of stairs. No access to any rooms, anything on the floor, or anything else dangerous.

He gets two beds, and he can access my Dad’s office. He stays there now when I’m not home but my Dad is, and it works perfectly. It took him maybe three or four times to get used to it and not look for me for the first ten minutes, and now he settles down as soon as I close the door. I put his bed by the window so he can sleep looking out the window. Pulling into the driveway and seeing this little man waiting for me is the best feeling : -)

Additionally, Baxter is not one of those suction cup dogs when you are home together with him. He doesn’t sit outside the bathroom door waiting for me, he doesn’t spring up when I move rooms, and he doesn’t whine if there is a door between us. I’ve had a few dogs like this, and I’m not at all saying it’s bad if a dog acts “clingy” – but I can definitely say I appreciate the space a little. Plus he balances it out perfectly when he trots around the house looking for me if he hasn’t seen me in a while.

So all in all, we got really lucky with Mr. Bax that he turned out to be such an easy keeper. I’m so happy that he has been able to settle down with us to the point of little to no anxiety. We still treat him to kongs or bully sticks when we’re not around, and mental puzzles when we are home just to tire him out – but my mind is at ease when we are out of the house.

We are lucky that Baxter didn’t need much work to get to this point, but people whose dogs are suffering from separation anxiety should know that there are lots of resources for your worried pooches. Patricia McConnell, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, has some great books out there about behavior issues, including separation anxiety, that I would highly recommend. Even the smallest things that you would never think of can help your dog get past their distress. Being educated about the triggers and causes of your dog’s anxiety can help worlds in treating and curing it.

So, in case his adorable brown eyes haven’t won you over in the “Adoptability” category, his easy going nature is a no-brainer. He is your little buddy when you’re around, but doesn’t freak when you’re not. Win, win!

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


“I’m Not Begging”

Want to know what a “hungry” Baxter looks like? I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about… the dog that tries so hard to convince you they absolutely have not had meals in DAYS (despite the fact that they recently had a midday snack). Baxter’s techniques come in many forms.

One is the hover craft – never being far from the dog food dinner being made.

One is the sniper – eying the source from afar.

And then of course, one is the Decepticon – spinning webs of “I’m starving” lies using the look.

These techniques are often stronger than the human powers of resistance. Unlike begging, it is found that these alternative methods of convincing are not only extremely effective in achieving his dinner goals, but they are said to be nearly foolproof when weakening the Food Master’s willpower. How can you resist the silent little mouse that is merely watching you politely as you fix his dinner? Yeah, that’s right…  you can’t : -)

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.


Spoiling Mr. Sicky

Yesterday morning Baxter woke up with a pink and goopy left eye, and a really sad face.

After a trip to the vet, it was confirmed that Baxter had plain old conjunctivitis. He was sent home with some medicine and instructions to stop going around sticking bacteria in his eye ball. He will be good as new in no time.

But for those of you who have had it, you know pink eye can be no fun. Looking at Baxter’s puffy little eye, I felt really bad for him. You know when you were sick as a kid and your mom would make you feel better by letting you eat ice cream or stay home from school? Well, I really wanted to spoil Bax and help him feel better, so I gave him a big dose of one of his favorite treats: peanut butter from a spoon!

I think it is safe to say it helped a little bit!

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.