Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: As Big As

Sadie insisted upon sharing the kennel with Hurley while I ran errands the other day.  Upon my return, I noticed something quite remarkable:  HURLEY IS AS BIG AS SADIE!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Photo-less Tuesday: Cuddling

I can't tell you how many moments I catch where I wish my camera was at hand.  But alas, the second I move, the moment is ruined.  Three pairs of eyes are honed in on me.  What's Mom doing?  Are we gonna get treats?  Where's the ball?  And with their focus on me, the precious moment that was is shattered into activity.

This past week, there were two such moments that stand out for me.

Each morning, I make my coffee and sit down to catch up on all the blogs.  Some days, I do this in bed.  And sometimes, I invite one, two or all three dogs to lounge about with me in bed.  OK.  Mostly it's just Maggie or Sadie as Hurley generally just wants to romp and play in the AM's.

Earlier this week, I did invite all 3 to lounge with me.  Hurley of course was more ready to play than to cuddle.  He and Maggie settled into a nice game of bitey mouth on the bed - Maggie probably not the most willing of participants at first but hey, she pretty much plays with her little bro whenever he wants.  She is cunning though and slowly decreased the intensity of bitey mouth until they were just laying there with both arms completely around each other, tongues hanging out and bitey mouth game forgotten.  It was such a precious moment and one I wish the camera could have caught.

The other moment this week came when I invited Maggie up one morning.  Maggie always lays at the end of the bed.  Always.  But this morning, she stood right next to me and then settled down in the crook of my arm.  While checking the blogs one-handed and left-handed at that was a tad difficult, having some special cuddle time with my Maggie Mae was truly special. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Training Calendar, Schmaining Calendar

Kristine over at Rescued Insanity recently posted about not hitting her goals for this summer and it got me thinking 'bout where Hurley and I are with training.

A few weeks after we got Hurley, I made a training calendar for the next 3 months.  It was quite impressive, let me tell you.  I listed each week's training tasks and when I wanted certain behaviors and commands to be at their 80% rate (Hurley will do ____ for me 8 out of 10 times).  It was color-coded.  'Cause that's how I roll.

I can plan the crap out of anything.  My favorite part is always the planning.  Doing is also pretty awesome but I fully relish the joys of anticipation that planning brings.

I followed the training calendar for exactly 2 weeks and, though it's posted right on the refrigerator, have barely glanced at it since.

What a shame, right?  Well, I don't know about that.  If I were to really look at the calendar and compare where we are today with where I wanted us to be, I'm sure we're not that far off.  Yeah, I really need to work more on his recall.  He pulls on the leash, for which I'm getting a front-clip harness to help.  But we're working really hard on his impulse control with lots of stays, leave its, offs, etc.  Does he still think anything and everything belongs in his mouth?  Yup.  But we're so far ahead on all the fun tricks - Like Shake, Other Paw, High Five, Other Paw, Wave (I'll get the Other Paw Wave soon!).  Maybe I'm not on the exact training path that we started out on, but you gotta roll with the punches.  It became obvious early on that Hurley needed tons of impulse control work.  This also happens to be the most frustrating type of training for me so I needed to work on the fun stuff to keep training sessions fun for both of us.  Yes, he needs to have a better recall and stat!, but I think we're on a good path.

What's my point?  (I do occasionally have one!)  I don't know if I would have gotten started as well on Hurley's training if I didn't sit down and plan it out.  Knowing what 10 commands and behaviors I wanted to get down in the first couple months always gave me something to work on, whether ahead or behind of schedule.  Having that structure also strangely gave me the freedom to adjust as we went along and re-prioritize.  Not sure why - maybe because knowing what I was skipping allowed me to remember to come back to it.  One of the most valuable lessons Hurley is teaching me is that it's not only about him learning to be a good dog.  It's also about me having fun throughout this process.  And we do have lots of fun.  Today, he did a 30 second sit-stay and down-stay for the first time and his Leave It with treats in front of him is now at about 10-15 seconds.  He got Other Paw High Five so quickly it's not even funny.  He is such a smart little guy and I'm super proud of how well he's doing.  I still stand by my original statement that Hurley's future as a Canine Good Citizen and possibly Therapy Dog is more about my abilities 'cause he's totally got what it takes.  So without further ado, here's my Hurley-man showing off:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What's in a Breed?

I have finally made it.  And by made it, I am referring specifically to Hurley's ranking in google's image search for "Curly Tailed Saint Bernard".  Go ahead, google it.  There he is - results # 5, 6, & 8.  But obviously that means there are not many curly-trailed St Bernard mixes on the interwebs.  Drat!  Another google search that lends no answers to the question:  Where did Hurley get his curly tail?

I love the disparity of guesses we've received on young Hurley's breed DNA.  Here's the list in its entirety:
Actual Puggle

Puggle:  This was the most often guess between months 2 and 3.  Hurley was still small enough that not everyone realized how big he was going to get and I got a ton of Puggle guesses.  It made sense - curly tail, not fully developed puppy snout appearing to be the short snout of puggles.  Plus the coloring is spot on.  While I don't think Mr Hurley-pants has any pug or beagle in him, to this day, his favorite "friends" to visit him are still the puggles that stop by the shop.

I haz curly tail too

Akita:  I do lean towards this as a possible explanation for his curly tail.  While I don't see any other characteristics of an Akita, we met some folks who used to breed Akitas and insisted his hind-quarters were shaped exactly like that breed.  So maybe an Akita tail and butt?

Chows are fat puppies!

Chow:  This too explains away his tail and the black spots on that tongue of his.  But other than the fact that Hurley too was a tub o' lard at 8 weeks, he certainly has not developed into anything remotely Chow like.  And I'm pretty sure Chow isn't the only breed with dark spots on its skin.

Anatolian Shepherd = Hurley Look alike

Shepherd:  He's got a dark snout?  He does have a lot of similarities facially to Shepherd puppies but the body is way off.  While Shepherds are lean, Hurley is a tank.

The actual Hurley

Ewok:  I still stand by this.  What else could account for this baby picture?

Two Hurleys = Double the Trouble

Mastiff:  This is currently the predominant guess we receive and I would say the closest.  St Bernards are closely related to Mastiffs and the Golden in him gives him a coloring that many Mastiffs have.   Our vet has threatened to change him from a St Bernard mix to a Mastiff mix in their system so they'll recognize him when we come in the door.

While it certainly is fun to guess where on earth that curly tail comes from, the fact is that we do know the two predominant breeds that are part of his make-up:  St Bernard and Golden Retriever.  Yet most of the breeds listed above are Hurley look-a-likes.  From Puggle to Shepherd to Mastiff, Hurley looks like them all.  Only two people have ever guessed St Bernard and, to this day, no one has guessed Golden Retriever.

So how on earth do shelters properly assign breed?  Yup, they don't most of the time.  As you can see, one little puppy can appear to be a lot of different breeds.  I once worked with a rescue group that didn't know that a Staffordshire Terrier was a different breed from an American Pitbull Terrier.  They just thought it was the nice breed name for the same dog and chose to profile all of their pitbull-type dogs as Staffordshire Terriers in hopes of getting them adopted sooner.

And does the breed really matter?  Sure, there are specific instances in which a certain breed is more likely to result in a dog suited for the job at hand - from Collies on farms to Retrievers being used in Assistance work to St Bernards in Search and Rescue.   I am so thankful that Hurley is in our lives.  He is an awesome puppy but not because he's part fill-in-the-blank.  It's because he's Hurley and he's ours.   And at the end of the day, even though we know two of his breeds, his tail is a mystery and that makes him the best kind of dog - a mutt!

Dog Days of Summer: Keepin' Cool

It's gotten hot here in Portland!  Here's a post on the NoPo Paws blog for several ways to keep your dog cool during these dog days of summer.  Originally posted here.
Summer warmth certainly waited until the dog days of summer to show up in Portland this year!  With a few more days of near 90 degree temps in our forecast, keeping your pooch cool in this weather keeps 'em healthy and happy.  Here's a few tips:

~ Ice cubes are your best friend.  Drop em in their water dish to cool or give them directly to your dog as a treat.  We are lucky here at NoPo Paws - our pups think ice cubes are THE BEST TREAT EVER.  One crack of the ice cube tray and the pack comes a'running. 

~ Replace water often.  Dogs prefer to drink fresh water over a bowl of water they've been drooling in for the past 8 hours.  Refreshing their water bowl often helps to encourage their water intake.

~ A fan of the treat-filled Kong?  Try freezing peanut butter, treats, canned food, pumpkin or sweet potato puree in a Kong and tossing it in the freezer.  Several hours your later, your dog will enjoy the cool, delicious treat.

~ Fill a bowl with water and place fresh veggies, fruit, toys or anything else your dog might like licking to the center to retrive.  Freeze and remove from bowl.  Best served outside on a hot, sunny day.  Not only does this keep 'em cool but it can also entertain them for hours.

~ Make some homemade doggie  popsicles.  The interwebs is full of great recipes - just make sure you use natural ingredients and no sugar!  We like this recipe at 

Pup's puddin' pops
A sweet treat for warm weather, your pup will find the texture of the puddin' pop deliciously intriguing. Great for stuffing in Kongs, too.



  • 32 oz. nonfat yogurt
  • 1 large jar of apple or pear baby food
  • 2 tbsp low-fat peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey

Blend all ingredients together and freeze in either 3 ounce paper cups or ice cube trays.

~ Postpone the after-work walk until later in the evening when the temps have cooled down.  Make sure to bring water on all walks in this hot heat!

The NoPo Paws pack enjoying some fun in the waves.
~ We're so lucky to have great water activities for the dogs so close to Portland.  The NoPo Paws pack loves trips out to 1000 Acres, Lost Lake, Long Beach, Ecola State Park...the list goes on!  If your dog loves the water, now is the perfect time to indulge that love.

However you decide to have some summer fun and keep your dog cool, we hope you enjoy this sunshine!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Fun Day: Sauvie Island

I might have mentioned previously how much Sadie digs the water.  I might have even mentioned how she gets a little overworked in the car when she can first smell the water.  I might not have emphasized the extent of this water obsession of hers.  Her water obsession turns my otherwise well-behaved, first to come when any of the dogs are called, gal into spazoid puppy.  OCD-type spaz.  My dog needs to be on Prozac spaz.  OK, you get the point.

For Monday Fun Day this week, I took Sadie & Hurley down to the Sauvie Island beaches just North of Portland.  This is one of our favorite spots to take the dogs but it can get crowded so we generally stay away on weekends and super hot days.  I had originally intended just to bring Sadie to have a mano y perro day like Maggie and I had last week.  But I also felt bad that Hurley has not had the opportunity to exorcize his puppy demons energy while he healed from his surgery.  The incisions were all healed, redness & swelling gone (thanks to an herbal salve I applied during the healing process, PalDog's Boo Boo Gel) and stitches were disolved.  He was officially cleared for take-off.

So off I took Sadie & Hurley.

We could focus on the negative:  Sadie tearing away from me in the parking lot, ripping the leash out of my hand and hauling a** down to the river; Sadie not completely coming to me when I called her for the entire hour and a half we were there; both of them pooping in the river right in front of other people; both of them pulling me into the river when I attempted to have them sit calmly in front of me while another dog came over.

But I prefer to focus on the positive (and resolve to spend a lot more one on one time with Sadie at the beach so we can fix some of these oops-did-i-forget-i-knew-any-commands-water-is-awesome-i-love-water-water-water-water afternoons moments):

Hurley and I practiced his recall and he did fairly well.  Not 100% but definite progress in a distracting environment (and better than I thought he would do!);

Sadie did respond to my calls by coming back towards me (and then shooting off the other way...but we're not focusing on the negatives, right?);

The point was to give both of them a great afternoon and though I spent most of it frustrated, they certainly had a great time.  Sadie did not stop swimming back and forth in front of me the entire time.  Hurley got brave enough to wade in all the way to his chin but enjoyed spending most of his time "guarding" the beach from Sadie. This video pretty much sums it up; back and forth, back and forth.

And truth be told, if the beach had been a little less crowded (3 groups of people close enough to us that I spent much of the time worrying if the dogs were disturbing them and making sure Sadie & Hurley didn't run up in their business), I would have let Sadie swim her crazies out and worked more on obedience after she was a bit worn out.  But the beach was getting a little more crowded so I elected to wrap things up and vowed to spend a little more quality time with her on a future Monday Fun Day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sharing Time

It's sharing time!

OK...truth be told, it's solicitation time.  Before I opened up NoPo Paws, I had tons of time to search the interwebs, click through on every thoughtful comment on the blogs I was following to find more blogs.  Nowadays, it's hard enough to find the time to make a thoughtful comment (you don't even want to know how many times I re-read a post, all the comments and my own draft comment before hitting that comment button), let alone find new blogs. is a list of five of my favorite blogs.  Choosing just 5 was super hard so I went the route of selecting 5 which I enjoy for different reasons.  I would super appreciate it if you'd let me know some of your favorite blogs in the comments so I can take the lazy woman route of finding awesome new blogs to follow.

Two Pitties in the City:  A & E do a wonderful job of highlighting living in a big city like Chicago with 2 big dogs.  Plus they take awesome pictures, have diverse and thoughtful posts, and Mr B and Miss M are the most adorable sibling Pitties on the interwebs.

Love and a Six Foot Leash:  Aleksandra does an amazing job showcasing the beauty and spirit of their bully breed fosters.  When I read her blog, I lament my subpar photography skills and my somewhat scattered and not quite so eloquent writing style.  Love and a Six Foot Leash is an inspiration in terms of foster & rescue, writing and photography!

Rescued Insanity:  Kristine's honesty always makes me realize I am not alone when I struggle with myself and with my dogs.  I envy her ability to put it all out there and I appreciate that she's doing so 'cause it makes me feel better when I'm not feeling so perfect, which is pretty much all the time! 

Wootube:  The Food Lady is H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S!   I must admit that this is the only blog on this list of which I am truly just a stalker and have never commented on a post.  I am way too busy laughing after reading her posts to add any comment of value.  Plus we met a couple who had adopted one of her previous fosters this summer and bonded over her blog.  I love it when real world and internet world collide!

Of Pitbulls and Patience:  Skye has the best pittie smile in the history of all pittie smiles.  And Parker is a saint for putting up with her crazy antics.

What do I enjoy about these and the other blogs I follow (that I felt super bad about not putting in this post)?  I love hearing about other people's dogs, the issues they face and the solutions they come up with.  I love hearing about others' experiences with animal rescue, fostering and advocacy.  I enjoy being part of a supportive community and know when I have an issue or request (like turning me on to some new blogs, hint, hint) that the people I've connected with online will come through.  :)

Thanks for being awesome, guys!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cone o' Shame

Less than 72 hours.  That's how long it took Hurley to destroy his Cone O' Shame. 

I might be a mean Mom but I totally laughed at Hurley struggling to find a way to chew on his bone with the cone.

He is recovering well from his neuter.  And by recovering well, I mean, acting as if he didn't undergo surgery a short 3 days ago.  Keeping him inactive is quite the challenge.  To show his displeasure at being kept in his kennel, tethered or otherwise immobilized, he has:

- Woken us up in the middle of the night.  Repeatedly.  Yes, he's a 5:30 am riser but it hasn't been since the first week we had him that he has woken us up at 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5am! 

-Dragged a chair across the room.

-Removed the heating vent from the floor.

-Destroyed the Cone by just plowing it into as many animate and inanimate objects that he possibly can.  In fact, his new favorite game has been steal the toy from Maggie/Sadie by attempting to chop off their legs with the sharp cone edges.  My poor girls!

Part of me is glad the cone is gone.  I will be keeping an eye on him to make sure he's not bothering his surgery stitches; if he needs another cone, we are definitely going with one of those softer cones that are more of a donut around his neck.  A) we will all be happier with softer cone edges and b) He won't be able to crack a softer donut cone by slamming it into things (I hope).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Fun Day: Maggie & Me

This morning, Maggie and I had us a little adventure.  First, we left the other two at home.

And Mom tried not to feel guilty at not bringing Sadie along.
We hopped in the car and headed to 1000 Acres Park in Troutdale.  Just west of the city, this park is, you guessed it, 1000 acres of mostly off-leash doggie heaven on the Columbia River.  I wanted to spend some quality time mano y perro with Maggie for a couple reasons: to spend some fun bonding time together and to work on her leash reactivity.  I have to confess that I haven't been that great at working on it since we got Hurley.

She was a rock star!  First, she had encounter #1 with another dog as I was letting her off her leash.  No reactivity at all!  They sniffed, romped a little and then we both went on our separate ways.  I let her run around off leash in a field for a little while to burn off some of her energy and practice her recall.



Next, we played with this awesome boiled wool tug toy (6 feet of tug fun!) and got some more of that energy out.  It was time to get back on the trail to the river and back on the leash. 

We quickly encountered dog #2, who was off leash while Maggie was on.  Sniff, sniff, tail wag and off we went down the trail.  Excuse me?  Did someone swap out my super leash reactive girl with a leash-friendly sweetie pie??  I have not seen her this relaxed on a leash around new dogs since she was a 6 month old pup! 

I did a couple things that I think helped her relax.  First,  I tethered her around my waist rather than holding the leash in my hand.  This really seems to help prevent any anxiety I feel when we see another dog from traveling down my arm to her.  Second, after the 1st 2 encounters, which I wasn't expecting, I had her sit, look at me and gave her a treat, or two, or three to help her focus on me and associate another dog approaching as a treat-worthy event.

It worked!  We approached two other dogs on our way down to and back from the river with zero reactivity.  A little raised hair was all I saw.  Tail was at half-staff and wagging friendly.  Face relaxed, ears back.  Woot!

Down at the river, we met a few other pooches, practiced sharing our balls with them and had a grand old time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


No, Maggie, not those type of balls.

Seriously, it's not Fetch time.

It IS time for your little brother to get neutered though.  So give him a big sloppy kiss, maybe share your toys a little more tonight.  Wish him a quick recovery and a smooth surgery.  And if you're really lucky, he might come home with The Cone of Shame so we can all have a good laugh.

Hurley's neutering is tomorrow.  He is also getting his abdominal hernia fixed. While a common issue for puppies and easy to fix, it does make his neuter a little more involved since it's not just a snip snip but a repair to the abdominal wall as well.  Wish this little guy a successful surgery and quick recovery.  I'm sure he'll be back on his paws in no time.  The issue will be getting him to be calm and prohibiting the zoomies for a few days while he recovers.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Boy Dogs vs Girl Dogs

Hurley is my first boy dog.

And oh boy!

I've always preferred female pets, not wanting to deal with leg humping, territory marking and other male behaviors.  But with 2 females in the house, we had several reasons to go with a boy.  While pack dynamics were a part of that decision, mostly it was the Hubster remarking that he wanted a dog he could wrestle with, since I had "ruined" our girls by making them uber affectionate.  They would rather love up on me than wrestle with him in the yard.  Sorry, babe.  I don't think that makes them ruined.  I think that makes them perfect!  But who am I?  Just a girl.

The girls prefer a nice lounge in the sun

When we first got Hurley, I expected the normal male behaviors like leg humping (which hasn't happened yet but I'm sure is just a matter of time with this little guy).  What I didn't realize is that Hurley would display other distinctly male behaviors - like a complete and utter disregard for his own safety...or his preference to tug over any other form of play and affection (the only way I can get him to cuddle in my lap is to entice him with a tug toy onto my lap)...but mostly the lack of concern for his well being.

Hurley, if nothing else, Is. A. Boy.  He's rough.  He's tumble.  He's adventurous.  He's fearless.  He crashes into things.  Plows over things.  Digs under things.  He's always getting dirty and he's always getting in trouble.

He adores 8 year old boys.  Probably because they are perfect to get into trouble with.  You don't hear 8 year old boys saying "I don't think Mom would like that" or "You're going to get into trouble".  These are both things my 8-year old girl self said many times to my brother, who completely ignored me and did those boyish getting-into-trouble mischievous things anyway.

I think I'm going to go have a tea party with Maggie & Sadie.  Maybe we'll play House.  Hurley will likely be in the backyard planning his great escape.  That or chasing bugs.

Have you noticed distinct gender differences in your dogs?

Wordless Wednesday: Hurley's First Camping Trip

My attempts at convincing the hubster to write a guest blog about Hurley's First Camping Trip were met with a "but it's your blog" so here's his trip in pictures.