Tag Archives: zoomies

Shelter Dog Play Groups?!?!

What a concept – bringing together groups of pups with different backgrounds and the baggage that comes from being strays or simply thrown away. It’s called “Dogs Playing for Life” and it’s a program developed by Aimee Sadler of the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation. This program is being taught around the country to shelter and rescue groups who want to take the next step in exercising and socializing the dogs that will one day – hopefully – be a part of the larger community.

So, why am I talking about this program? Because the Wake County Animal Center (WCAC) is taking this step and as a volunteer I was able to join in the training this past week.

The classroom training was full of useful information about the benefits of play groups and the different play styles, so I just have to share some of these insights here.

  • 30 minutes of play group offers the same mental and physical stimulation as a two hour walk.
  • Dogs teach each other much more effectively than we as humans can teach them.
  • Healthy contact can help reduce Barrier Reactivity and On Leash Reactivity.

And the stuff about play styles gave me insight into how my own dogs play.

There are no “gentle and dainties” in my house… or is there? As I reread the description about this play style being relatively quiet with frequent stops and starts I noticed it describes Ruby when Khayla is trying to play with her in the living room.

Now “rough and rowdy” definitely describes my Khayla and the pure joy she gets out of grabbing, holding, chasing and tumbling, and if they’re out in the yard Ruby will join in the fun. I think Khayla actually likes being thrown to the ground by Ruby.

I guess the reason we don’t have any “push and pull” players in our house is the lack of herding breeds in our mutts, although Ruby does love to chase squirrels (what dog doesn’t?) and cars driving through the neighborhood. Or maybe that might be better described as “seek and destroy,” which is a prey drive style. To some it may not look mutual and will tend to require a little human intervention to keep it even.

As play yard monitor I thought one of the best lessons they taught us was to make this the dogs’ play group. We need to hang back and let them teach each other and work things out. This requires many of us to retrain ourselves – even in my own home I find I need to refrain from sticking my nose in all their business.

We also spent time learning when and how we need to step in – funny, a lot of this stuff seems like it should apply to the school yard as well. The human needs to step in when the play is no longer mutual or one dog is having fun at another’s expense. Also if a dog’s response is disproportionate to feedback from the other dog. And definitely when a fight breaks out – we’ll talk more about this in a future post.

Besides being a neutral yard monitor, you can start your group off right by keeping the yard free of toys and treats, making sure collars are properly fitted, and ensuring all Halti’s, slip collars and scarves are removed. Later, once you’re comfortable with their group interaction, you can also remove their dragging leashes.

Here are a few pictures of the fun we had …

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Remember, stop by the WCAC any day of the week between noon and 6:00 p.m. to meet some wonderful animals and potentially your newest family member.


Who’s got a clean bill of health?

Mr. “I’m Healthy as a Horse” Bubba Rex (a.k.a. Dexter #66007)

Oh, yeah, baby – it’s me!

Foster Momma dropped me off at the WCAC this morning, where doctor Jen gave me another soothing bath. Dr. Jen was doing a happy dance and when I asked her why she said I was mange free. Best of all, no more medicine on my dinner plate. Foster Momma said she’d still give me a scoop of Alpo with dinner just ‘cause she loves me and thinks I need to gain a bit more weight.

Foster Momma asked the nice vets to neuter me the first time I passed my mange test (you have to pass it two months in a row to be considered cured). That happened three weeks ago – so – so that means that as soon as my furever family and I meet we can start being a family immediately. Well, as soon as we go to the WCAC and take care of the paper work.

Foster Momma gets all teary eyed when we talk about it, but that’s okay ‘cause I know she really wants me to find my family.

She said I should probably talk to you all about my perfect home …

    • I need somebody who is strong and confident to lead me and give me guidelines to live by.
    • I would love a couch and bed to sleep next to you.
    • I need someone who loves to go on walks or runs or hikes in the woods.
    • I would LOVE a fenced in yard to run and zoom and play catch in.
    • And it would be just too cool if I had a dog buddy (or two) to play in that yard with and teach me all about doggy manners.
    • Momma says no cats, as I find them just a little too interesting (if you know what I mean). She also says that small kids would probably not be a good idea as I need to learn to play properly first.
    • I need an unending supply of treats and Kongs filled with peanut butter and frozen bananas.

Foster Momma just looked over my shoulder and said she thought my list was getting kind of long – she did say “perfect” family. Quite frankly, I’m a dog and all I really need is good food, regular vet visits and lots of love and I’ll be so happy I’ll just about bust.

Ready world – here I am! Email foster momma at afureverfamily@yahoo.com right now to set up a play date and see if we’re meant to be together. I know we are.

The Good Stuff

I did promise to write some of the wonderful stuff about our little foster Bubba Rex – although at 62 pounds I’m not sure I’m allowed to call him little anymore. We are excited about this as he’s put on some much needed weight.

But I digress, on to the good stuff …

His Breed

I find his breed adorable. I know that sounds funny, but it’s how I think about it. I call him an All-American Mix breed. He’s definitely got some Boxer in him with the way he looks, the point on the top of his head and the way he throws those paws all around when he’s playing. Those massive paws and the way he looks when he’s sitting proud on the couch shows off his Mastiff side. And the way in which he keys in on birds during our walks makes me wonder if there is some Pointer in there somewhere. With recent warmer temps Rex’s panting has brought out a beautiful Pittie smile – a big pink tongue and all.

Dinner Manners

He is near perfect about waiting for his breakfast and dinner. He doesn’t crowd me while I’m fixing it and he’s usually sitting politely as I turn to put it down – I rarely have to tell him to sit. He watches me carefully waiting for the nod of my head as I say “okay” before he races over and wolfs it down – which of course leads to post meal burping, which is always a hoot!

Couch Cuddling

Although he’s become more confident, he’ll still curl up next to me or in my lap on the couch – sometimes to take a little nap and sometimes just to chew on a toy. I also love it when he curls up at my feet at night. He makes a great foot warmer when the temps make those weird drastic drops we’ve had lately.

Velvety Fur

He has a wonderful soft head. His skin is loose and he’s got some big jowls. Now that the fur has grown back it’s just so soft and cuddly. And then he drops those ears and gives you a look with those big soulful eyes – man, it’s hard not to give in to the boy.

Dining Room Fetch

He loves playing catch and we have great fun having our game time in the dining room. And the pink, spikey ball has been perfect as it’s got great bounce and is soft enough that it doesn’t break things when foster momma messes up her throw, which surprisingly happens more often than one might think.

How cute is this?

Floppy Ears

And it’s downright adorable the way his ears flop as he runs back to you bringing the ball. Of course it’s even funnier when that run turns into a canter as his energy lags.

Wheeee ... playing fetch in the neighbor's yard is fun!

Crate Trained

He’s learned to like his crate, at least when we’re out of the house, so when you make him up a peanut butter and banana Kong he trots right in with a nary a word. Now if we’re still in the house and have put him up for his own safety or in time-out, then he has plenty of words for us … although he’s getting better about it with each instance.

Leash Manners

Day by day he is getting better about walking nicely on a leash. He’s always done pretty well on walks, but along the way he decided that he was leader of the pack and that I needed to be protected. We’ve switched to the Halti, which has been great, and when I project confidence and leadership he is an absolute dream to walk.

Bubba Rex (a.k.a. Dexter #66007)

All in all, he’s a good dog. He’s more beautiful and magnificent with each passing day as his fur grows back and he gains weight. With proper leadership and training he’ll be a wonderful addition to someone’s family.

If you are interested, he is available for adoption through the Wake County Animal Center. For more information, or to arrange a meet and greet, email Foster Momma Suze at afureverfamily@yahoo.com. 


I’m struggling with what to write about my crazy little foster tonight. Maybe that’s the problem; he’s been unruly with me lately – like a rebellious teenager –and only gets cuddly when he’s not feeling well – like this weekend after getting into a big bag of treats and eating nearly half of them. I know some of his unruliness is my fault – you wrestle a few times and now he thinks we can do that every time he gets bored or wired. I also realize that I’ve been really tired lately, which means I have neither the patience nor the calm energy that I need to have with him.

How do you keep on track when you have a wired pup and you just want a little down time?

We used the new Halti Head Collar easy lead a couple of times. He wasn’t crazy about it – duh – but he didn’t pull and I was able to distract him from birds, squirrels, and humans. Jack Russell Terriers who charge us on our morning walk — that’s a different story. It worked well enough, but I need to tweak the fit of it.

Oh heck, let’s just say it – I didn’t read the directions or watch the DVD until now. Our walk this evening was much better as I understand how it supposed to fit. Even so, I needed to tighten it up more when we finished. The DVD was right … it is really tight, but man does it work!

Bubba Rex (a.k.a. Dexter 66007)
Bubba Rex (a.k.a. Dexter 66007) is available for adoption through the Wake County Animal Center. For more information, or to arrange a meet and greet, email Foster Momma Suze at afureverfamily@yahoo.com.

A Whirling Dervish

Look at this cuddly face.

Bubba Rex (a.k.a. Dexter (ID: 66007)

Do you believe that this past Sunday afternoon he did a jig and a twirl and popped the plastic clasp on his harness?

How I felt during the incident ...

Luckily he did not get loose and the clasp wasn’t broken so I was able to get it back on him. But we did cut our walk short as there were just too many dogs out and about.

A little closer to how it was ...

I did come away with several observations …

Getting and keeping his attention on a walk is tough.

String cheese works pretty well, but meaty dried chicken treats are not high enough value. (Going to try dried hot dogs next.)

Carrying a poo bag while trying to hold this leash, train him to walk nicely and treat his good behavior does not work.

Birds and squirrels are much more interesting than me or the treats I dispense.

People get him barking.

People walking calm dogs gets him pulling on the leash.

And jacked-up dogs who bark at him get him crazy with barking, whining, lunging, twisting and twirling around on his hind legs.

Bubba Rex at play.
Bubba Rex (a.k.a. Dexter 66007) is available for adoption through the Wake County Animal Center. For more information, or to arrange a meet and greet, email Foster Momma Suze at afureverfamily@yahoo.com.

Boxing, Wrestling, and Tug-o-War

Rex’s More Physical Playtime Favorites

More than the point on the top of his head, it’s our observation that all exuberant greetings and play involves Rex throwing those front paws up in the air and at you. We’re working on it and he’s good with strangers and guests, but sometimes the excited puppy just bursts out and paws start flying.

Bubba Rex (a.k.a. Dexter #66007)

He can also be a noisy boy when he’s in his rough and tumble boy mode. His deep bark is accompanied by a rumbly growl that to those who don’t know him might give the impression he wants to tear somebody apart. He doesn’t. It’s all play. I’m not completely sure why I know this, but I do. Is it instinct or does it have to do with a million little pieces of information (body language, eye contact, tone, etc.) coming from Rex? I wish I could pinpoint them so that I could point them out to Charlie. He trusts me that I know what I’m doing, but I know the noises Rex makes concern him sometimes. And in this respect Rex is stereotypically all boy … at least stereotypically human boy – rough and tumble, loud, looking to mix it up just for the fun of it and to burn off some energy.

Run that energy off Bubba Rex, run it off!

Rex and I have epic tug games. I prefer tug as I find there is less chance of me getting bopped or nipped accidentally. Plus, I’m pretty strong for a girl and even when he puts his feet on my chest for leverage I still win. With him feeling better and being more comfortable in our little pack, we have to go back and work on not starting a rowdy game if Foster Momma or Pop says no. As I mentioned in a previous post, I think a good part of this comes about when the walks are insufficient and he’s bored.

Tired or Bored???

I’m very proud of him for settling down quickly when he’s accidentally grabbed my arm or I’ve told him to “settle.” Recently I’ve also been ending our wrestling/tag games by hugging him in close to me. Again, I’m very proud of him for immediately understanding that the game is over — he pretty patiently waits for me to release him.

Settled and waiting ... for Pop to throw the ball!

I know we still have to work on toning this down. I also know it has to do with my energy and the consistency with which we do this. Of course this week consistency is right out the door as the electricians started rewiring the house on Monday – strangers and furniture being moved and rearranged daily – and last night Rex decided to help Foster Pop pull up the some of the old carpeting in the office. Gonna have to keep an eye on him as he will probably try to be an over achiever in that role.

Is that my furever family I hear calling my name?