Oh well

As many of you know, I recently adopted Henry as a playmate for Ferris.  Henry is such a fun, happy little guy.  Roly-poly, silly, and sweet as can be.  He picked up on the routine here quickly, and has been an easy pup for the most part.  As you can see by the photo, he’s super adorable too!

He has also earned his cookies being a die hard playmate for Ferris.  The two of them play and play and play, take a nap, and play some more.

Having Henry around was really helping Ferris curb his destructive tendencies, until this happened…


That’s right – Ferris AND Henry having a blast destroying the futon mattress.  Seems Henry is quite the quick learner.   I just couldn’t get mad, they were having too much fun.  Truth be told, I was planning on getting rid of it anyway because  Ferris had previously damaged it enough that it wasn’t worth keeping.  I had repaired the original hole, but this time Ferris found the side seam which made it much easier to do a lot of damage in short order.  Oh well, life is just too short, and they’ll only be puppies once right?

Puppy pics

Not much new going on, just the usual puppy stuff with Henry.  Before we know it he’ll be all grown up.  Thought I’d post baby pics while I still can.

Puppy cuteness

Wrestling with Ferris. One of several daily sessions

Rex joining in on the fun.

Now it’s Rudy’s turn.

Henry trying to absorb some wisdom from his elders…Minna & Magoo

Ferris meets his match (I hope)


Ferris just turned 9 months old, and up until about a week ago was happily pursuing his title of “Destructodog Par Excellence”.  That is, until I decided to take drastic measures.

Did I decide to give Ferris away to another home?  Hah! NO.  My solution?  Why another dog of course!  A puppy to be precise.  Someone to give Ferris a run for his money, occupy his time, and just generally tire him out physically and mentally.

Yes, Ferris already has playmates.  Truth be told, more than most dogs.  However, the younger dogs in the house who want to play with him are small, and Ferris is like that kid on the playground everyone was a little worried about. You remember that kid…the one who was kind of too big and strong (maybe was held back a few years).  He was a nice enough kid, but when he punched someone in the arm like guys do, he nearly knocked them over, and anyone who tried to punch back or jump on him basically bounced off.  That kid was unaware of his strength, and would never have hurt anyone intentionally.  Well, that kid is more or less Ferris when it comes to playing with the smaller dogs.

I have concluded that Ferris must have a very high pain threshold, and is innocently unaware of his own strength.  Not ideal in a house full of little dogs. The younger little guys…Huck, Cubby, Sox, and Frankie will play with him as long as they have something to hide under if he gets too rough, and they make sure the play sessions are kept short.  If they attempt to “correct” his roughness he seems to think it’s a game and can get even more wound up.

The bigger grown up dogs – Rex, Rudy and Nemo, are no longer interested in rough-housing.  They’ll play for a few minutes and then they’ve had enough.  Rex and Rudy enjoy running in the yard with Ferris, and have engaged in gentle, kind of slow motion wrestling sessions with him on occasion, but those are also fairly short, and certainly not enough to tire him out.  Nemo won’t even go out in the yard with Ferris anymore because he’s been hammered too many times.  Nemo’s idea of playing in the yard is being chased because he is super fast and can usually outrun anyone else.  Ferris, being part Cattle Dog, used herding techniques to cut Nemo off in his run around the perimeter of the yard, followed with a quick nip.  Ferris was just having fun, but Nemo is pretty sensitive and started refusing to go out to run if Ferris was involved.  Now Nemo only runs with the little guys, or just Rex.

Nemo with his crew of little guys. 

One day, in mid April, I was thinking about Ferris, and wondering how many more sheets and futon mattresses I’d have to replace, when I had one of those unexpected “light-bulb” moments.  I remembered back in March, when my brother’s two dogs were here while his family was in Florida for spring break.  They’re both bigger dogs  (50 lbs.) and stay with us a few times a year.  They’re both great dogs.  Dempsey is a hound mix, sweet and pretty laid back.  Emmy is also a sweetie, but is high energy.  She’s one of those dogs that LOVES to play and play and play some more.  She will bring you a ball to throw ALL day long.  While they were here,  Ferris had a blast.  Emmy would play tug-o-war with him, wrestle and chase him, and could easily match his body slams.

Dempsey & Emmy

During the 10 days they were here, Ferris didn’t destroy anything.  At first I thought he had started to grow out of his destructodog phase, but a few days after Emmy and Dempsey went home, he was back to full-time, futon mattress, and sheet demolition.

I tried engaging him to play with me.  I tried fetch, and a few games involving food – he could not have been less interested.  I wasn’t too surprised.  Ferris has always seemed to prefer the company of other dogs to humans (even me).  He is sweet enough, but compared to most other dogs, rarely seeks out human attention.  He politely greets guests, and seems to enjoy being petted for a few seconds, but doesn’t really solicit it.  He remains…ever the quandary.  That’s fine, I’ve come to learn to accept my dogs for who they are.  We’re all different and I can’t turn Ferris into someone he isn’t.  He’s an odd little guy, but we love him.

After the recent resurfacing of Destructodog, I proceeded to more seriously ponder a potential puppy procurement (enjoy that little tongue twister with the “p” words?).  I spent a lot of time on the computer looking at tons of photos, and considered a myriad of different puppies…ah, the possibilities.  Nothing more fun than looking at puppy photos.  Finally, after weeks of searching and a few disappointments, I made an appointment to meet what seemed like a good candidate from the same rescue group that I’ve adopted several dogs from since moving here.

Picking out a puppy from a photo on-line is not my idea of the best way to make  a decision, but that’s how things work nowadays.  In the past, picking a puppy out of a litter usually involved meeting the entire litter of pups, and often the momma dog.  I feel this is particularly important when you are dealing with mixed breed puppies, because you never know for sure which breed traits will be inherited and the more breeds involved in the mix, the less you can rely on breed traits at all.  Besides, we now know, based on the availability of DNA testing, that often the assumed breeds based on appearance alone are not at all accurate.

Ideally, getting to know what kind of dog the momma is, and then observing the puppies interacting with her as well as each other provides a virtual gold mine of information.  But, that’s not how the world works anymore, particularly with shelter and rescue dogs.  Having worked in the animal welfare world for years, I know it’s just not possible in many situations, and understand that limitations are often necessary to run an animal welfare organization efficiently.  I have to accept that this is just how it’s done now.  Keeping this in mind, I have developed my own little system for picking out a puppy based on personal and professional experience, and lots of information I’ve accumulated over the years provided by breeders, animal behaviorists and trainers.  If I’m being honest, a bit of intuition, and even what could be called superstition on my part plays into it as well.

Last Friday (May 18th), I went to meet a male, 10 week old, Australian Cattle Dog mix (best guess), estimated to be of medium-large size when full grown.  I was pleased to learn that the litter had been fostered in a home, which is great.  I was looking for a pup that was outgoing, fairly confident, playful and could handle Ferris and his antics.  Both Ferris and Rex are part Cattle Dog among other things, and as a breed they are tough dogs physically which I was hoping would translate into a good match for Ferris.

I arrived at the adoption center, and after being asked to wash my hands, was taken into the room where they do the puppy introductions.  The room has several large, wire exercise pens set up.  A volunteer asks you to sit on the floor, closes you into the pen, and goes to get your puppy.  I noticed there were already people visiting with other puppies from a few different litters I had seen on the rescue’s website.

I was a little concerned when I observed that each of the puppies I could see in the other 3 pens seemed frightened.  They were frozen in place, cowering, avoiding eye contact with the people, and one poor little guy was actually shaking.  Now, granted the adoption center is quite loud and chaotic, so it would make sense that some of the puppies and dogs would be overwhelmed.  However, all of the dogs I have adopted from this organization did not cower or shake when I met them.  A few of the adult dogs or older pups were a bit shy when I first met them, but I made the choice to adopt them knowing I was getting a potentially shy dog.  This time I needed to be sure I had a confident pup that could handle Ferris.  My concern based on what I was seeing,  was that each of the puppies in the other pens would not have been a good choice for me.  Even so I was hopeful, because I noticed that none of the other pups I was observing were from my potential puppy’s litter.

After a few minutes, a volunteer approached with the puppy in his arms.  He gently set him on the floor, and to my relief the pup immediately bounded up to me, jumped into my lap, stared directly into my eyes with a soft sweetness, and started licking my chin.  He was all wags, wiggles and kisses, quite the happy little dude.  He played with the toys we’d been given and several times, actually fetched the toy and brought it back to me, plopped into my lap, and let me take it from him to throw again.  He was curious and interested in what was going on around us and not at all timid.  He enjoyed being cuddled and petted, without nipping or mouthing my hands… Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner!!!

On the way home he spent the first 30 minutes of the drive demonstrating his outstanding lung capacity from the crate in the back of the car, while I did my best to feign ignorance about where that horrible racket was coming from when waiting at traffic lights surrounded by other cars.  Thank goodness my back windows are tinted!  Eventually he fell asleep, and was an angel for the rest of the drive (because he was asleep).  During the 90 minute drive home I decided on his name.  I had several in mind, but wanted to meet him before I made my final choice.  Without further ado, may I present our newest pack member…


I mean seriously, could he be any cuter?

I believe I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but I do new dog introductions quite differently than most people.  I wouldn’t suggest it for someone who is not dog savvy, but it works for me.  It kind of evolved during all those years of having foster dogs coming and going, and eventually became my preferred method.

I don’t do the typical on-leash, one dog at a time introductions.  I have used that method on occasion, but only with bigger adult dogs.  I’ve found it isn’t necessary with the little dogs, and particularly when introducing a puppy.  That’s part of the reason I make sure I pick a puppy or dog with good energy.  That may sound a bit weird, but it’s the only way I can describe it.  Ultimately I think my method works for me because I know my dogs, I trust my dogs, and they trust me.  As long as I’ve got my handy-dandy spray bottle ready to remind anyone who may need to back off a bit with a little spray of water, I’m good to go.

Once everyone is together in the family room, I open the crate with the “newbie”.  Often when this happens the new dog shrinks into the back of the crate completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of noses poking at them, and I have to remind the rest of the pack to give them some room.

Little Henry did fairly well with the mass sniffing experience, and then in typical puppy fashion spent quite a bit of time exploring the kitchen, family room and deck, all the while exchanging sniffs with the other dogs.  When I let them out on the deck, he even peed outside “GOOD BOY!”

I will admit I was a bit disappointed when he seemed particularly cautious with Ferris.  He was enamored with  Nemo and Rex (who isn’t), and seemed curious about several of the smaller dogs, but he was obviously avoiding Ferris.  If Ferris approached him, he froze, or moved away, and even bristled a few times.  I know better than to intervene – Ferris wasn’t in any way threatening him, he was just curious and a bit excited, which translated into pushiness.  I figured I just needed to give it time, and see if after a few days they would start to play (fingers and toes crossed!)

After the introductions I realized that little Henry must be a bit tired, and popped him back into the crate…that’s when the screaming started.  VERY dramatic, LOUD protesting.  I knew it was probably that he was a bit cranky from being over-tired, and stressed out with all of the changes he’d been through in a short time.

He’d gone  from his foster home to the adoption center, stayed there in all the chaos and noise for a few days, and then was separated from his litter-mates, and brought into a new home with a giant pack of dogs he didn’t know.  That’s a lot for a little 10 week old puppy to deal with, so when he continued to wail for half an hour, I broke the rules of crate training and let him out.  After much face licking and whimpering his little puppy “thank-you-thank-you-thank-you” into my ear, he wandered around for a few minutes, plopped down on the floor at my feet and fell asleep.

Okay, it appeared that this boy was going to bond quickly, and for all intents and purposes, was already well on his way.  Still, crate training is important, and for my dogs imperative, but it can take time, patience, and yes, in some cases a bit of indulgence to make the crate something comfy and safe, instead of something to hate.  It can be a delicate balancing act for sure with a puppy like Henry.  The last one I had like this was Huck a few years ago.

I very soon found out that Henry not only screamed in the crate, he also screamed whenever I was out of sight.  I have my kitchen and family room both gated, and he would sit at the gate and scream if he couldn’t see me.  This was a potential perfect storm for a separation anxiety case in the making.  He didn’t just cry, he panicked when I was not within sight, and being in the presence of the other dogs (at this point anyway), was not providing any comfort.  For comparison this was the complete opposite of Ferris at this age.  As long as Ferris had the other dogs he was happy and felt safe.  He never worried about where I was.

For two days, I  used the same techniques I had successfully used with Huck.  I took Henry in the bathroom with me when I showered, and he slept in a crate next to me on the bed so he could see and smell me all night.  I made a point of spending most of my time in the kitchen and family room where he could see me, and once he started interacting more with them, having the other dogs around started to comfort him too.  I used the advantage of putting him the crate when I knew he was tired, staying in the room with him and giving him a chewy or a treat to occupy him (until he hopefully fell asleep).  If he started carrying on right away after I put him into his crate in the kitchen, I simply moved him to his crate in the bedroom, and shut the door so he could have his little tantrum.  When either a half hour had passed or once he quieted down, (whichever happened first) I took him out to potty, and then let him have some freedom for a few hours.  He stuck to me like glue, but was taking more and more interest in the other dogs, and toys.  It took him about 2 days to figure out the routine (smart little bugger!) Within a day he was ok in the kitchen or family room if he couldn’t see me, and few days after that I was able to put him in his crate in the kitchen and be out of his sight for a few minutes.

Gradually with lots of treats, chewy treats, and small sessions, a week later he is for the most part comfortable in the crate.  Now he can be crated in the bedroom or in the kitchen for a few hours without much fussing, and usually falls asleep.  I can leave the room with him either in a crate or behind a gate and he either plays with the other dogs, finds a chew toy, or takes a nap.  He learns quickly, and is a confident enough pup by nature that his crate issue was mostly a matter of adjustment.  I was careful not to coddle him too much, and let him get his way by fussing, but also not such a hard ass that I just left him in there when he was in an absolute panic for an extended time.  It’s a balancing act for sure, and each dog is different.  He’s still sleeping in a crate on my bed during the night, but that’s fine for now.

The BIG NEWS is that after 2 days of acclimating Henry started playing with Ferris!! Henry pretty much controls the interaction and Ferris is happy to oblige as long as he gets to play and wrestle.  Henry latches on to Ferris by the ear or neck skin and Ferris rolls around happily on the floor (he does have a high pain threshold!)  They chase each other and play tug-o-war, and other silly puppy games, like lying on the floor side by side on their backs, chewing on each other’s faces.

Has Ferris destroyed anything since Henry’s arrival – NO! In fact he is calmer than ever, and is even taking on the “big brother” role, which was a delightful surprise!

Good job Henry, mission accomplished!!



Where does the time go??

I mean seriously, it’s been over 2 months since my last post.  Wow!   I thought I was going to be so much better this year about writing, oh well, best laid plans…

Ferris is now 8 months old and still a bit of a handful at times, but I cut him some slack because he’s still growing up.  Maybe he’ll calm down in 2 or 3 (or10) years.

He really  is a VERY good puppy for the most part, other than his obsession with destroying the fitted sheets on the futon mattress, and waterproof sheets underneath.  Apparently futons are really good opponents in tug-o-war games (who knew?)  Fortunately I had several older sheets that I’d been using for years, but now after the “destructo-thon” I’ve been buying cheap fitted sheets.   I also recently found some cheap, vinyl, waterproof sheets to replace the more expensive fancier ones I’d been using, but not before he’d destroyed several sets.  We’re at about $100 worth of sheets (so far). It seems that no amount of chew toys, stuffed toys, or other dogs to play with compares to the fun he has pulling and ripping those sheets.  Oh, and if I try not using fitted sheets, he pulls the regular sheets or blankets off and plays tug-o-war directly with the futon mattress and pulls the stuffing out of it.

I started this post yesterday morning and had to stop because, well…this happened, while I was typing.  I heard the dreaded ripping sound, and of course I grabbed my always handy camera to capture the scene.

Me “Ferris! What are you doing!?” Ferris “Who, me?”  He obviously thinks maybe I’ll blame Frankie this time.


I decided to bring him into the kitchen with me so I could finish my post without him destroying yet another sheet, and this happened…

That’s a relatively new dog bed that was under the table (where I happened to be sitting).  He very quietly dragged it out, and very quietly did this.  Really Ferris? (heavy sigh).  Let’s put you in your crate with a nice bully stick.

A little while later I let him back into the family room…

“See mom, I’m the best dog ever!”

Ah yes, adolescence

Ferris is becoming a teenager.  He is going on 6 months old, and acting like a typical adolescent puppy…pestering the older dogs to distraction, forgetting all of his training (including house training), destroying everything in sight, barking for no reason, being generally stubborn, and trying new and interesting things like counter-surfing.

He also keeps busy attempting to be helpful, by doing things like recycling paper, and doing his own version of a prewash on the dishes.

See mom? I really can be helpful!


Fortunately, when adolescence hits, I have a few secret weapons up my sleeve.  Like several other dogs to play with, and a fenced yard to run in.  Then there are the older dogs, who help discipline him when he gets out of line.  Believe me, they accomplish the job much more effectively than I can.  Rex is the master at putting young rowdy pups in their place.  He takes just so much, and then puts the hammer down!  It looks and sounds scary if you don’t know what’s going on, but he is simply making it VERY clear that whatever the pup is doing is NOT okay.  He never hurts them or traumatizes them; he is the epitome of a benevolent leader.

“Please, please Rex? Can I try your antler?” Notice there are two other antlers right next to Ferris, but he wants Rex’s. Typical little brother.


This morning while I was eating my leftover pasta with alfredo sauce for breakfast (yes, I’m one of those people), suddenly I heard the television go on in the family room.  When I checked, there was Ferris chewing on the remote!  Luckily I got it in time – before he ruined it, or worse got the batteries out and ate them.  I had put it on top of a table that I thought would be out of his reach, but I was wrong.  Now it’s up on a shelf.  At this age, often puppies are big enough to get into serious trouble, and young enough not to know any better.

This is when I enlist my last secret weapon…a dog crate.  My dogs learn from day one that a crate is a nice cozy place to spend time.  They are given treats every time they get into a crate when asked, and most of them are fed in crates as well.  The result is that I have dogs who like being in their crates.  Note – I do not leave my dogs locked up in crates for hours on end.  When used responsibly crates can be a huge help.  In fact, I leave the doors of the crates open, and quite often the dogs seek them out as a nice little hide-a-way if they want privacy to take a nap, or chew a nylabone.  These days, I have my freezer full of Kong toys, and Tux toys stuffed with food or peanut butter ready and waiting for whenever I need a break from my crazy teenager.  Ferris gladly goes into his crate when he sees me pull something out of the freezer for him.  It’s kind of like telling him to go in the other room and play video games for awhile.

I’ve been through this enough times to know that this is only a phase.  This is the age when pups try out new things, push the envelope a bit, and see what they can and can’t get away with (kind of like your teenager borrowing the car without permission, or staying out past curfew).   They’re growing up, and just like human teenagers, they need us to be patient, and provide guidance to help them make better choices.  This is another reason I use crates during the teenage phase.  I’d rather have my dog in a safe place when I can’t watch him, (instead of finding out too late that he ate batteries out of the remote).  For those of you who may think that using dog crates is “mean” – here a just a few of many photos I have to prove otherwise.  Sometimes they even share crates or squeeze into one that is too small just because it makes a cozy bed!



Happy New Year!

Ok, so I’m a little late, but that’s because I had a 2 day long migraine that lasted through New Year’s Eve.  Then yesterday, New Year’s Day, at some point in the morning, my furnace died.  Of course it waited until a holiday to die, and even better it waited until it was 10 below zero here.  That’s right 10 below; that was the air temp. not the wind chill people.

The midwest is having a “cold snap” right now.  This means quite a few people are experiencing furnace failure.  The old beater furnaces just can’t keep up when it’s this cold out.  I’ve had trouble off and on with my furnace since I moved in here 5 years ago – the furnace is 25 yrs. old, but it limped along with tweaking here and there from my furnace guys.  I knew I’d have to get another one some day, but you know how that goes…”some day” just seems somewhere out there in the future.  Well, “some day” had arrived, and now it was urgent.

Within a few short hours my house was a rather chilly 58 degrees.  If you’re thinking, gee Michele you must be a wimp, 58 degrees isn’t that bad, try setting your air conditioning to 58 and see how it feels.

I called my heating guys who are awesome, and have 24 hour emergency service.  As I mentioned a lot of people experience furnace issues when it gets this cold out, so the soonest someone could get here was between 2 and 6 p.m.   I was just grateful that someone could come.   I threw a bunch of extra blankets in the dryer to warm them up and then put them out for the dogs, who all cuddled up together.


I put a small space heater in the bedroom for the birds, and another space heater in the kitchen blowing into the family room.  Then I decided to do a little cooking so I could use the oven, and generate a little more heat.  I made some pork chops, and then baked brownies for the furnace guy since he had to come out in the bitter cold on a holiday to fix my furnace.

He arrived and within a few minutes of fiddling with the furnace had the heat running again.  As I said, my heating guys are AMAZING.  Then we sat down and discussed a new furnace which is being installed tomorrow!!  I don’t want to have this happen again.  Oh and by the way, he didn’t charge me for a service call, even though it was a holiday, and an emergency call.  He said it was because I was purchasing a new furnace, but I think it was the brownies.

He’s growing again…

The wonky ear has returned, which means that Ferris is growing again.  That’s no surprise since he’s just 4 months old, but I love how the ear has become an indicator of a growth spurt.  A wonky ear can be an indicator of teething which he is doing as well, but in his case I’ve also noticed that it is associated with his growth spurts.

Whatever the reason it’s pretty cute.




Have you ever noticed how laundry is never actually done?  I mean completely finished.  Even if your hamper is empty, the clothes that you are wearing right now will need to be washed.  If you’ve just showered, and haven’t gotten dressed yet, your towel is used, and therefore could technically be considered laundry.

This may seem strange, but once I realized that laundry is never really done I felt a huge weight lifted off of me.  I had been feeling somehow inadequate because I was never able to finish it.

Why do I ponder such things?  Because laundry is a big part of my daily life, actually it is a REALLY BIG part of my daily life.  I do at least 3, and more often 4 or 5 loads of laundry every day.  Yes, I said every day.  I start a load shortly after I get up in the morning (around 6ish), and the washer and dryer are running pretty much constantly until around 7 or 8 p.m.  On an average day I wash a load or two of towels, a load or two of blankets, two queen size comforters, five waterproof mattress pads (that go under the comforters on the dog’s futons) and a few dog beds.  Why so much laundry?  As you already know I live with multiple rescue dogs.  Many of those dogs are with me because they have “issues”, and often one of those issues is unreliable house training.  So, they tend to pee on stuff, including dog beds and blankets.  Did I mention that I also spend a lot of my day mopping floors?

Sometimes the laundry basket seems unusually heavy.

If I didn’t live with a big bunch of dogs (not to be confused with a bunch of big dogs), I would only do one load of laundry a week – my laundry – usually one load of mixed colors, because I learned a trick recently.  If you use a color catcher thingy, you can mix a load of lights and darks, and they come out fine.

Not that I have any super nice clothes to ruin anyway.   I’m sure you can imagine, my usual “outfit” (and I’m probably insulting the word here) consists of jeans and a T-shirt, or this time of year, sweatpants and a sweatshirt (or jeans, and a nicer sweatshirt or maybe even an actual sweater if I’m going out into the world.)  My clothing always has the bonus of a nice layer of dog and cat hair on it too, even when it’s clean.  Good thing I don’t have an actual job to go to, or I’d probably be that person in the office who everyone whispers about.  Come to think of it I’ve never had a job where I was required to wear nice clothes.  I’ve always worn either scrubs or the traditional “animal worker person” uniform of jeans and a T-shirt.  Sometimes in my fancier jobs I even had a company logo on my shirts! Woo-Hoo!  No wonder I wear what I do every day…yet another mystery solved.

“What? it’s nice and warm in here”


More pictures

I think it’s obvious by now that I love taking pictures of my dogs.  I pretty much always have my camera or my phone nearby to catch cute little moments.  Yesterday I saw this grouping of Ferris, Huck, Cubby, and Nemo napping.  I grabbed the camera, and started making silly noises.  Up popped their heads.  I even got a bonus of the classic head tilt for extra cuteness.

In case you haven’t noticed, Ferris is getting big.  He’s 4 months now and still has more growing to do!!


This time of year is busy for us all.  I may not be adding many new posts for awhile, but I’ll at least try to post some pictures now and then.

Ferris decided to take a nap…Cubby thought it looked like a good idea, and decided to join him.

Nothing better than a nap, except maybe a nap with your buddy to keep you warm.