Monday, June 11th, 2012 Alone In A Cemetary Things hadn't been going that well for Gabe, and tied to a fire hydrant in a cemetary, things seemed a lot worse.
Gabe hadn't been getting food on a regular basis for some time now while he was still at his house. Here in the cemetary, there wasn't even anyone to feed him if there was any kibble available. Certainly nothing where his chain would reach. His mom brought him here and told him it would be better, told him someone would help him. Right now, that didn't seem very likely.
Then finally, a person! They seemed nice! Gabe wagged his tail, straining at the end of his makeshift tie-out, hoping this guy would help him. Maybe this nice man could help him find his way home!
He got into the man's truck, and shortly, they arrived at another place Gabe had never seen. It was full of other dogs he didn't know, it was noisy, but there was food! And Gabe felt a little better. But, he was still very itchy on his back end, and he wasn't sure who all of these other dogs were. Gabe didn't belong here, and he knew it. But the nice people here had made sure he got food; maybe they could help get him home.
But Gabe's family didn't want him back. In an all too familiar story, his family simply couldn't afford to feed and take care of Gabe anymore, and instead of finding him a new family, they left him where they knew someone would find him, and hopefully help him, without blaming them for his condition. Gabe had heartworm, he had lost a large amount of hair on his rear half due to mange, and he was very underweight. But, even though he was sick and now homeless, at 8 years of age, Gabe's life was about to change.
First, Gabe got to a foster home, got treatment for his mange and regular meals. And Gabe has gotten a chance to show off his love for the water and his skill with the tennis ball. While Gabe started to put on some weight and started to grow his coat back, AdoptALab.org was contacted to help cure his heartworm and find him a home.
Gabe is just one of five needy boys that we are working to take right now, and we can use your help. You can read more about these boys here: Five Needy Boys.
Friday, March 2nd, 2012 Jackson Jones Patty and I don't talk about our dogs very much, but we lost one of our boys tonight that was as much a part of AdoptALab.org as he was our own personal family.
Jackson Jones (All of our dogs have the last name Jones. We don't know why.) was supposed to be gone two years ago. He came into AdoptALab.org is a roly-poly boy of about 6 years who never had a day that he wasn't smiling. He always got along famously with any dog in his playgroup, and when he matched for adoption, we were especially happy that Jackson was going to get a great home. He was finally going to be part of a family that he deserved after having a first half of life that was probably not the best. A boy that happy lands on his feet.
When Jackson went to Dr. Heather for his check-up before heading off to his new adopters, his story took a bad turn. Dr. Heather found a sizable lump along one side of Jackson's neck. Jackson had surgery immediately and the tumor was removed. We kept our fingers crossed when the sample was sent off to two different labs. The result was not good news. One expert who read the slide termed it a "gnarly carcinoma"; malignant and probably fairly aggressive. Forget the adoption. Jackson was going to be lucky to have another week or two.
Patty and I told Jackson he had a home anyway. He could live with us for as long as his health allowed. Patty ordered Jackson his own roast beef submarine sandwiches, with gravy, from our local pizza restaurant. He even got his all-time favorite "second dinner", when his food bowl got something else even better in it after he had already finished his "first dinner." Out of all the perks Jackson got, "second dinner" was always his favorite; he would dance around in circles if we brought something else over to put in his bowl as he finished his dinner.
And often, he would lay on his back in the middle of the room, just waiting for someone to notice him. And while he was laying there, if you said his name, his tail would just start going.
We didn't worry about spoiling him. We only wanted to be sure that Jackson's last few weeks would make up for those he hadn't had until now.
That was over two years ago. We fell in love with this special boy in that short amount of time. His always-sunny disposition, generosity with the never-ending foster dogs he had to put up with, and his friendliness with everyone he met was just irresistible. We even started to believe that the cancer may have been misdiagnosed. Maybe he had much longer than anyone thought.
But no dog lives forever, and even though Jackson cheated the odds for quite a while, his cancer finally won out. He had one bad day, and went rapidly down hill today where we couldn't have this special boy put up with any more pain. We let him go.
We lost our first Lab, Sammy, at age 17 only a few weeks ago. In many ways, Sammy got us started on our way to getting involved in rescue, but dogs like Jackson were why we stayed at it. With both of them passing, it seems as though it may be the end of an era.
So please take a moment tonight, in honor of Jackson, and hug your four-legged family member. Thank them for always being your buddy, always loving you no matter what, and trusting that you would give them a great home even when nobody else had until now.
We told Jackson that he should go find Sammy on the other side, and we prayed to our angels (and we undoubtedly have many ;) that they take care of Jackson on his journey. And even though we already miss Jackson and Sammy, we are sure that those two are undoubtedly together tonight.
Monday, January 23rd, 2012 Life Is Sweeter With Almond We adopted Almond in September 2010. She is the most wonderful addition to our family. One of my favorite memories is the moment she walked off the puppy train. She was the calmest dog of the bunch and she walked right to us, like she already knew we were her new family.
Another great memory is the crate. We crated Almond for the first few weeks. One day we came home and the crate was flattened on the floor, as Almond had nudged her way out. She had a big scratch on her nose from her crate escape but she proved that she could handle not using it.
Almond has been making our life so sweet for the past year. She has become our constant companion everywhere we go. She is a favorite at the vetís office and makes new friends every time we go for a walk.
Almond is the kind of dog that everyone wants; she is gentle, obedient, just the right amount of playful, and very loving (and of course, she has the lab quality of food motivation, since she will do anything for a treat!) In addition to her super personality, she is beautiful. Everywhere we go, she receives compliments on her brown coat and amber eyes. Not to worry, Almond never lets the flattery go to her head; she is a very humble lab!
Almond is the perfect dog and we are forever grateful to AdoptALab.org!
Monday, January 23rd, 2012 Beau Knows A Lot Beau (formerly known as Lewis) was an amazing addition to our family this year and we would once again like to say thank you for your help in bringing him to our home.
Our other pets, Prince and Mia, took a little bit of time to get used to him but now they are all best friends. You can see in the photos how big Beau has gotten.
He is a wonderful dog and a fast learner. He knows 6 commands already including "paw" and "high five". One of his best traits is that he is so affectionate and wants to cuddle all the time. People give us many compliments on how handsome and well-mannered he is.
We could not be happier with him. We always tell people how wonderful the AdoptALab.org organization is. Of course, we would like to say thank you to Patty, Lee, Wendy and the rest of the AdoptALab.org family as well. May this coming year bring the very best for you all.
Monday, January 23rd, 2012 Sadie's Story Here's Sadie's adoption story, told by her new Mom:
Sadie spent the first 9 months of her life in a pen in a barn, she wasnít socialized in the normal way that puppies are. In actuality, she was short-changed on her puppyhood: How do you teach a young dog what a puppy should do, or even that you mean her no harm, in the normal activities that dogs do?
When we first applied to adopt Sadie from AdopALab.org, we thought that we would be getting her in the next run from Indiana to Darien, CT. Little did we know that we would wait more than a month and half for her, as she fought a bout of kennel cough, cut her tongue, and got fixed. She was a shy dog to begin with, but she became even shier as she fought through these setbacks.
Patty and Lee decided to take Sadie into their home while she recovered and during this time helped her to become more secure in her surroundings. When I spoke with Wendy (who was a real trooper, because I called every week for updates on our girl Sadie), she would reassure me that everything that was being done was in the best interest of Sadie, and true as it was, it wasnít always easy to wait for our blessing yet to come.
Finally the week arrived when we were going to meet our girl. We knew that she was shy, we were told that she was really skinny. We met on Friday night rather than make her - and us - wait another night. We waited in anticipation for our girl outside Paws and Reflect, the groomers that volunteered their time to wash the other puppies coming in for Operation Little Dog the next day. What a sight it was to see the AdoptALab.org bus pull in to the groomers on Post Rd, in Darien, CT. We were finally getting our Sadie.
Lee and Patty were probably just as nervous as we were about how Sadie was going to react to her new family. Would she accept us? Would she shy away? Was she confident enough to leave the security of Patty and Lee?
From the first moment we met her, she melted our hearts. Yes she was skinny, smelly and tired, but she was ours and we were so happy to finally meet her. She came with us willingly which surprised Patty, Lee, and us too! She slept most of the car ride home. After a bath (another story in itself), a meal and a potty break, my son and I slept in the living room with our girl, who didnít like the stairs. She wouldnít go down, but would sometimes go up. Our first signs of her being happy were when her tail started to wag, slowly at first, but at least it was no longer tucked between her legs, or her head down in submissiveness.
Now Sadie is gaining weight, is confident in her new surroundings, yes she has her timid moments, but every day she is becoming more and more of the happy go lucky lab that all labs should be. Her nose now leads us on walks instead of wondering whatís going on, sheís made new doggie friends, she runs like the wind, her tail wags spontaneously, she loves our cats, and she especially loves to snuggle with us. She is a fantastic dog, thank you AdoptALab.org for saving her for us!
Monday, January 23rd, 2012 Sherlock and Millie Hi AdoptALab.org,
Here's a recent photo of our two wonderful Labs, Sherlock and Millie!
We refer to Sherlock as the "Love Monster". He has the most intense need to be close to his peeps that I have ever seen in a dog. Of course, he gets all of the physical closeness he demands, as he so irresistible with his cuteness and we are the type of dog people who are always giving them attention in many forms!! It was a perfect match for all of us. Sherlock is quite the character and loves rides and walks. He is maturing nicely and settling even more. We figure he is between 4 or 5 years of age now, and it will 2 years in March since we had the good fortune to adopt him.
Millie is one of the prettiest dogs I have ever seen. We are thinking she has some Collie in her. Her coat is very soft, does not smell and is on the longer side, especially around the collar. It is a mix of white and creamy tan, and if you look closely she has Collie like markings on her snout and forehead. She is way too clever. After she recovered from the aspiration pneumonia, we thought she was the perfectly behaved dog, but that was just a honeymoon. She challenged us to the max! She can easily scale the chain link fence and can escape a crate no matter how we try to refigure it and attempt to outwit her. We now have a wireless fence in addition to the physical fencing in the yard, and this seems to be working. We don't even try to crate her anymore, but make sure we take out the trash and get any food off the counter or top of the refrig. Did I mention she jumps on the counter and opens cabinets? She is finally starting to show a little maturation, but we still need to "Millie proof" the house when no one is here! Despite these devilish traits, she is the gentlest, most loving and cuddly girl most of the time. She does not like other dogs outside of her pack, though.
Unfortunately we lost our Giant Schnauzer on a July day this past summer to Canine Lupus. He was only 7 and we were devastated. Sherlock, though, was completely OK with this. There was always a lot of tension between the 2 boys, and now he gets to be the only male with his 2 ladies. I do think the Capo's departing helped him to be able to settle more and shed some anxiety and decrease his testosterone level. I don't think we could ever add another male dog to the household.
Sherlock and Millie love to play with one another and cuddle. They like their "sister", Ivy the Standard Schnauzer, but are really connected to each other.
It's great to look at your website and see that so many more dogs are getting adopted every day. One of these days we will do it again!
Photos from our November 19th adoption day events. Also available at our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/adoptalab.org. View the whole group of pictures by clicking on the picture at the right>
Monday, November 28th, 2011 It's All In Gracie's Day We always tell our adopters that it's important to establish a simple routine to help their new family member settle in quickly. But according to Gracie's new mom, Deb, Gracie just makes her own routine.
"I marvel at her internal alarm clock," Deb told us recently. "6:30 AM on the dot every morning and she's ready to get up and go."
Gracie's busy day continues with a morning walk in the field, then to to the end of the driveway to get the morning paper. Then, Deb says, "It's time for her chow, then she settles down by my chair while I read the news. She grabs one of her surviving toys and amuses herself. Big (bigger the better) knotted rawhide bones are the secret. She gnaws on them for hours - happy when she finally gets one of the knots loose. She has to bring it to me of course for approval and usually plunks it in my lap. Nap time."
After a break, it's back to work. "I've been doing lots of fall cleanup outside and I hitch her near me so that she can watch and sometimes 'help'," Deb says. "She is content as long as she can see me. We also have lawn chairs and tables in the same area, so she is in the thick of things when we are lounging outside."
"If I have to run any errands in the car she is always with me. Her car manners are really good - a few looks around and down she goes on the back seat. I can be out of the car for 5 minutes but she greets me like I've been gone for days," Deb says.
Gracie is making herself right at home in her new neighborhood. "She enjoys her long walk around noon and happily greets all joggers, dog walkers and other dogs," Deb says. "She is a sweet girl and is with me almost all the time. I think she enjoys being a companion dog. She's used to me talking to her and just looks at me, gives me wet sloppy kisses or lies down for a belly scratch. Best known command you ask? 'DOWN on your bed and STAY - LEAVE THE CAT ALONE!'"
"I've cornered the market in indestructible Frisbees and balls," Deb says. "I put them all away after we've played outside and she dutifully pulls them all back out and surrounds herself with them. Yep - she's spoiled rotten already and loving it!" What's not to love? Coming from a shelter with little hope, to a happy new life in a forever home.
Friday, November 18th, 2011 Holly If you've been following our efforts with Holly, you'll know how our girl was found along the side of a road in Kentucky, where she lay for three days, unable to walk, before a good Samaritan finally helped her to safety and helped to get her to AdoptALab.org with the help of our friends at Pilots and Paws.
We all thought that Holly had been hit by a car, and her injuries were keeping her from walking. A vet that examined her originally even said that Holly had a broken pelvis and other injuries. But once we got Holly to our Dr. Heather, we found out that the story was completely different.
Your donation in any amount can help us help Holly and more like her:
Monday, November 7th, 2011 Life With A Rock Star When I went to pick up Roxie (formerly Bess) on Adoption Day I was nervous, I knew that my life was going to change, but wasnít sure how. As soon as I saw her, I knew I made the right choice.
I fell in love instantly, but she was in pretty rough shape - her coat was shedding and she was so malnourished. She also had a serious case of separation anxiety and followed me around, crying each time I left her side. For the first few days we took it really slow and kept it "boring," as Wendy at AdoptALab suggested.
We live in a condo, so I had to lure her into the elevator with treats because she was scared to get in, and some days she just refused, so we took the stairs down seven flights. Once outside we practiced leash walking and she tired pretty easily.
Over the first couple of nights Roxie slept quietly and soundly, but after that she would whine and howl all night, even managing to escape from her crate one time!
I called Wendy, close to tears because I was so exhausted and told her that I didnít think I could do this. However, she kept encouraging me to just be patient. That same day I went to the pet store to purchase Roxie a more heavy duty crate and a calming plug-in diffuser to help her sleep at night. Finally we both slept soundly.
Itís been almost four months now and Roxie has adjusted well to her new routine. She is eager to greet me every morning with her favorite pink puppy in mouth, ready to lead me on her walk and now she pulls me into the elevator!
We met up with some dogs at the local park and I slowly socialized her, now we see them every weekend and Roxie is always the most eager to welcome the new dogs. We also took an obedience class together to help us bond, and to my surprise Roxie rose to the top of her class! Our instructor, Joe, almost always used her to help demonstrate commands to the new participants. When we go to the veterinarian or doggy day camp, it always makes me so proud to hear, "Roxie is so good, and youíve done a wonderful job with her!"
Roxie has come so far and she is hardly the dog that she used to be. Every so often, a loud noise or another dog may trigger a scared or tense reaction in Roxie. However, now I realize that rescuing is a process and the best way to take it is one day at a time, with a little patience and a lot of love. I canít imagine my world without Roxie, my Rock Star, in it!
Tomeeka Farrington is a public relations professional and proud AAL adopter. If you want to share your story, please send your tale and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 Helping Hounds Helps Maxine AdoptALab.org will help place over one thousand dogs in new homes this year. In addition to those direct adopts, we have also helped hundreds of dogs get into homes through the hard-working staff at Helping Hounds in Syracuse.
We recently received a note from one of the Helping Hounds adopters.
"Two weeks ago, a black lab named Maxine came in to Syracuse's Helping Hounds. We adopted Maxine from there 2 days after she arrived and she is an absolute doll. I just wanted to let you know at AdoptALab.org that she has found a loving family!"
"My kids are so excited to have a dog again. Thank you for sending her to Syracuse!"
Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 A Match That Could Not Be Denied Often, a perfect application comes in just when the perfect dog has just come in, and before that dog even makes the website, she has a home. Honeybear was just such a dog who was absolutely perfect for David and Ann Marie, but in this case, it wasn't really obvious to everyone right at first.
When Honeybear went to her new home, she was a little on edge, like so many of our pups are at first. One of the reasons we ask our new adopters to give our dogs at least two weeks is that everyone needs time to adjust. But Honeybear's new family just wasn't sure it would ever work, so they asked us to take Honeybear back.
No problem. Honeybear came back and went back up for adoption again, and we were sure we would find the perfect fit for her quickly. And we were right; it didn't take long at all for her to be adopted again. The surprising part was that the new adopters were David and Ann Marie. Again.
They hadn't stopped thinking about Honeybear after she left, and they decided that they had really made a mistake in giving her back.
"She is the most wondeful dog in the whole world, she is so lovable we take her almost everywhere and everyone loves her," Ann Marie wrote recently. "I go take her walking a mile at least three times a day and she loves it." But even when Honeybear looked like she had finally made it home for good, another problem occured.
"One day she got loose and followed another dog and took off and we thought she was gone," Ann Marie says. But Honeybear and her new family were just destined to be together somehow. "When David came back to the house after looking for her," says Ann Marie, "she was sitting and waiting for David on the front porch."
"Our whole lives circle around her now... she makes ours lives complete." Some matches are just meant to be.
Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 Halloween Parade Online The fun has already begun with our Halloween Parade over on our Facebook page and we're hoping you'll get involved, too. Just upload your favorite pup in their best costume, and get your friends to 'Like' your post!
Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 Sleepy Zsa Zsa Zsa Zsa had a great ride home," Zsa Zsa's new mom wrote to us recently. "She slept, played with her toys and ate some treats."
It was a big day for such a little dog, but as one of our latest Operation Little Dog adoptees, it was well worth the effort. "She is doing great with the kids....she is so much fun...quite a trooper. Thanks for bringing her to us."
Monday, October 3rd, 2011 More Than We Bargained For We view rescue as a partnership between our organization and the adopter who gives their dog a forever home. We can make the initial rescue and pull our dogs out of their at-risk circumstances, but only an adoptive home can give each dog what they really need.
Sometimes, there can be more work than anybody anticipated in making a match work, and this adopter definitely got more than she thought she was bargaining for when she adopted Reuben. "Two months ago he actually pulled my shoulder out of the socket when I wasn't paying attention," Bea wrote recently. "My friends kept telling me if anyone can help Reuben, I can, so I trudged on. He seemed so worth it. He is a very strong dog and I am not the youngest chick in the basket."
Bea contacted us several times for help on working through the issues she was having, and we gave her several options on training and behavior issues she having. "Now for the update and my feelings for this beautiful dog," Bea says now.
"I adore, ADORE this dog. His personality is so loving and loyal. He is laying right beside me right now looking at me like I am the most wonderful thing he ever saw. Truth is, that's how I feel about him. In some ways he 'saved' me. Sure, I had a life, I guess. I worked, came home, vegged out in front of the TV, fell asleep and started all over the next day. I have friends and loved ones but was more comfortable just existing. Reuben has brought me out of my self imposed shell."
"His personality is amazing. His unconditional love is exactly what I needed. He is so happy and excited when he sees me that I just can't help but smile. He adores my grandboys and loves when they come over because they can play longer and harder than I can. He makes me laugh all of the time with his craziness and sometimes I look into his face and want to cry wondering what he went through and thinking why would someone get rid of this loving boy. His 'sweetness' just warms my heart every single day. Is he ever 'bad'? Of course he has his 'bad boy' moments but rarely, and nothing so bad that gives me second thoughts on him...EVER!"
"I have had other dogs in my past and ALL of them hold a special place in my heart. One particular dog, Murphy, a black Lab was MY heart.....but Reuben is right there beside her. I am so blessed and grateful to have him. Sure, sure, sure...I rescued him, he needed me, I helped him, I saved him, blah, blah, blah. The truth is, this beautiful, loving, funny, crazy, lug of a dog saved me. I can't imagine my life without him...flaws and all."
Bea ends her letter by writing, "Thank you for doing what you do. Not only do you save these dogs....sometimes you save the people too."
So in this case we all did get more than we bargained for. And that can be a good thing.
Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 The Radio Fence Option The Pros and Cons of Radio Dog Fences
Not only are the radio fences quick and easy to install, relatively inexpensive to purchase, and completely invisible, they are often the only type of fence many homeowners' associations will allow in certain neighborhoods. But radio fences are not a substitute for a physical fence. Here are a few things to consider to help you decide if a radio fence is right for your situation.
In many suburban neighborhoods, radio fences have been gaining rapidly in popularity as a means to keep a dog in his yard without a physical fence. Not only are the radio fences quick and easy to install, relatively inexpensive to purchase, and completely invisible, they are often the only type of fence many homeowners' associations will allow in certain neighborhoods. But radio fences are not a substitute for a physical fence, and their effectiveness is greatly affected by how they are used, and the type of dog you have.
If you aren't familiar with radio fences, you may have heard them called by another name. Radio fences are known by many brand names, and can be either professionally installed, or bought in a do-it-yourself kit. Radio fences also come in two main styles; one that uses a buried wire running around the perimeter of your yard that emits a radio signal, and another that emits a radio signal from a central point.
All radio fences use a shock collar that your dog wears when he is outside. This collar is set to first emit an audible warning to the dog as he nears the edge of the perimeter, then zap the dog with an electrical shock when he actually gets too close to the boundary. With proper training, most dogs quickly catch on to the system and avoid the shocks by staying in the yard.
The system, though, is anything but foolproof. I have seen many dogs over the years that have shown up in shelters wearing their radio fence collar, having been left in the yard with no one home to monitor what they were up to, or given free access to the yard through a doggy-door or open garage.
Radio fences should never be used without supervision. Many dogs will take the brief shock as they cross the boundary on the run after a squirrel, for instance, or fearfully running from another dog or loud noise, such as fireworks or thunder.
Once the dog has left the yard he can't return, lest he suffer the same zap that was supposed to keep him in the yard in the first place. If the power goes out, your dog is loose.
Human error can be a problem, too. I've heard stories more than once of a dog owner who mistakenly tried to drive out of the driveway with a dog in the car who was still wearing his shock collar. That is enough to make your dog never want to go outside again. In fact, some more fearful dogs who have received the shock during training have refused to go out anywhere in the yard again.
Given no other option, a radio fence is better than no fence at all. It gives you an invisible barrier and some piece of mind when playing with your dog off-leash in your yard with no physical fence. But a radio fence should never be counted on with no human monitoring, and should never be used for containing a dog when no one is home.
Lee Strayer is head trainer for AdoptALab.org and is often kept on a shock collar around the house. Please send comments to email@example.com
Monday, September 26th, 2011 Crate Time and Your New Puppy There is no easier way to house train a new puppy than to use a crate. But proper use of a crate can also give your puppy much needed time to nap, a safe place when you are out of the house, and a key part of establishing his or her daily routine.
But how much crate time should your puppy have during the day? The two main guidelines for puppy crate time are:
Is anyone available to watch and pay attention to what the puppy is doing? If not, then your puppy is safer and less likely to get into trouble if she is in a crate.
Is your puppy getting cranky and uncooperative? If yes, then it's time for a little break in the crate for some much needed rest. Just like a toddler, puppies can get unbearable when they get tired, too.
You don't want bad habits to form, so if you aren't available to make sure the puppy isn't playing with the couch pillows, or peeing where she shouldn't, then it's time for the crate. If you are able to correct bad behavior, show her what she should do instead, and praise her for doing the right things at the right time, you will make your training time much shorter than if you let bad habits form that you later need to fix.
And, if your pup is just in a mode where she seems to be trying to cause problems, it's nap time! No training method can compensate for a cranky puppy.
So, give your puppy plenty of attention and praise, and when you can't, give her some rest time in the crate to make everything easier for both your puppy and you.
Monday, September 26th, 2011 Bou Is A Perfect Fit After Paula's family lost their wonderful 12-year-old Lab in the middle of the summer, everyone in the house was very sad to have lost a key member of their group. A little over a month later, though, it was clear that they sorely missed having a Lab in the house, so the turned to AdoptALab.org to help fill that hole with a great rescue dog.
"We looked at so many dogs on your website and wanted to take them all," Paula says. "But, you told us about Butch and steered us in his direction." Paula's family soon brought Butch home and renamed him Bou.
Paula recalls the day her family brought Bou home. "He was so nervous and skinny! We were all so excited and nervous too! We brought him home and realized right away that he was special. My children fell in love with him the moment he walked into our house. My husband and I thought he was sweet but are hearts were loyal to our old dog and we were kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. We kept saying, 'He is settling in too easily. He hasn't ruined anything yet. There must be something wrong with him!"
After only two weeks, Paula says that it was unanimous. "WE ALL LOVE HIM!" she says. "He is the sweetest, funniest, sensitive dog and he is the perfect fit to our family."
"I just want to say 'Thank you' to our adoption coordinator, Wendy, and everyone in your organization," Paula says. "You listened to my story, you heard what we wanted and you told me that he was the one for our family! Thank you for our new family member, Bou. I think he is very happy with us and we love him!"
Monday, September 12th, 2011 Short Legs, Big Days With our Operation Little Dog project, we are getting to meet all sort of great dogs that are looking for a home. One of our early Little Dogs was a little corgi pup named Cassie.
Cassie found her forever home, through AdoptALab.org and our volunteer Jean, on a farm in Vermont where she quickly settled in to her new family life. "What a great pup!" Cassie's mom Betsy writes. "She's having a blast and sooooooo good!! She's learned to sit, stay and comes great. What a pleasure ~ everyone loves her!"
And, in case you might think Cassie finally got away from the big dogs when she left AdoptALab.org, think again. "She totally goes with the flow at the farm, keeps all of the big Labs in line," Betsy says. And that alone is a big job for little Cassie, since there are four big Labs to keep track of, in addition to the rest of Cassie's new friends.
Thursday, September 8th, 2011 Orville Heads for Home Maybe there was nothing special about this Lab mix boy that could be seen in a picture, but in person Orville was a special boy while he was here at AdoptALab.org. Orville is a real pleaser, and he was always happy to do anything we asked him to do, wagging his tail the whole time.
But many times, black mixes are some of the hardest to get adopted, and Orville waited longer than most for his turn. We even featured him on one of our AdoptALab.org TV spots in an effort to get someone to give him a chance. Finally he got his opportunity when Anita found him on the AdoptALab.org website and just knew he belonged with her.
"Just can't tell you how much I love my boy," Anita wrote recently, "and thank you so much for your part you played in saving his life and bringing us together. He is the smartest and best mannered lab I have ever known, and he is such a joy to have around."
True to his always-good-natured heart, Orville took no time to win over his new mom. "He moved in like he has lived with me all his life and is one very happy and well taken care of boy. He is just wonderful and he hears "Good Boy" very often!"
If you would like to see Orville's original posting, you can click here.
Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 Adopting Prince I lost my sweet little dog Eddie on April 11, 2011 to old age and congestive heart failure. At eighteen pounds he looked like a miniature "Benji" and was my second shadow. He was a rescue off the street and it was clear that he had been abused. It took some time and lots of love but Eddie lost his fear of people and became the much beloved "little man" among my circle of friends and family.
Amazing that such a small animal could leave such a big hole in my heart.
I had a beautiful yellow lab when I adopted Eddie who passed on about two years after Eddie and I found each other. I never stopped missing "Klaaver" (Dutch for clover) and always wanted another lab in my life.
About a month after Eddie died (it was the longest I been "dogless" in the last 16 years) I began looking on the Internet for another little dog to love.
I came across Prince's story on Adopt A Lab's website, about how his older owner had died and no one in the family could take him, and he ended up in a shelter all depressed and confused. Being a licensed social worker I immediately said, "That's the dog for me!". I filled out the application, spoke to Wendy Hopkins and was ecstatic when I learned that Prince would be joining our family of two cats and two cockatiels.
I only had a few days to wait but it seemed like adoption day was just taking its own sweet time in arriving.
The AdoptALab.org truck finally arrived, and when Prince got off the truck, my heart skipped a beat! At 92 pounds he was much larger than I imagined and as I knelt down to hug him the first thing the staff said was, "That dog is almost as big as you are!"
"He looked smaller on the website", I thought to myself.
Anyway, I was so happy to see him and finally have a dog again that I cried. "I know you've had a rough couple of months Prince, but from here on out it's all 'Milk Bones' and fetch", I promised him.
I'm not crazy about the name "Prince" but at five and half years old it is too late to change so I refer to him as "The Dog Formerly Known As Prince".
He's been a great addition our family and even though my husband is more of a "cat person" he and Prince have become "best buds" with Prince often helping him with the "Y Chromosome" tasks around the house and effusively greeting him when he gets home from work.
We all three have had some adventures together. The first were the stairs. Prince was initially baffled by them and slept downstairs the first week. He'd greet us in the morning with a big smile and his tail wagging away. (We've since had to register his tail as a WMD - it's capable of clearing a coffee table, knocking over a cat or a potted plant in two swipes.)
After about a week Price got the hang of the stairs and now sleeps in the bedroom. Just don't get in front of him when he's going down them. The only method he knows for going down stairs is "barrel".
I think he'd prefer to sleep in the bed with us but at 92 pounds he's be like a third person and frankly we're just not into that. So he has a good sized dog bed.
Thunder was the next adventure. And it was around the 4th of July so we got a "twofer" on that one. It was obvious that Prince was very uncomfortable with the noise; a quick search of the Internet found the suggestion of putting a tightly fitting tee shirt on the dog. It does help him to settle down a bit and he sits patiently while I put it on him.
One night even with the "Thunder Shirt" Prince was still a bit anxious so I took a pillow and blanket and got onto the bed with him (like I said it is a big bed). At about 3 AM my husband woke up and I was sound asleep on Prince's bed and Prince was asleep in a chair. My husband thought, "Well, everything looks normal here", and went back to bed.
I took Prince swimming at my cousin's camp at Sagandaga Lake, NY. It was obvious that he had never been in the water before and it took some gentle coaxing and me sitting in the water with him before he swam around a couple of times. He's still not sold on the idea.
Prince is the peace keeper in the house; when the two cats get into a tussle he steps in and breaks it up.
I take him lots of places and he always gets of compliments on how handsome and well behaved he is wherever we go. The folks at the Toyota dealership where I get our car serviced just love him and lavish him with attention and biscuits whenever we're there. Lou, the manager of the parts department and a lab owner himself, won't let me leave unless he's had time to dote on Prince.
Lou told me that he is a bit worried because his lab is getting on in years and he fears that he might not have much time left with his dog and he feels like he and his wife are too old to deal with a puppy. I jumped on the opportunity to tell Lou all about the Adopt a Lab organization, the great work they do and the older dogs that need a home.
"We could take a dog like Prince", he mused, while rubbing Prince's ears.
"When the time comes, there's no dearth of dogs out there that need you to love them", I told Lou. "It's a real simple website to remember, www.adoptalab.org", I said. "I guarantee they'll have just the right lab for your family and you can start loving each other right away."
Petie arrives at LaGuardia airport with AdoptALab.org volunteer Neil who proclaimed Pete "the man!"
Monday, August 1st, 2011 Petie Makes His Flight Hats off to our volunteers who made our man Pete's rescue complete! Petie was one of our special pups who'd gotten too old for his breeder to sell, so AdoptALab.org stepped in to rescue Petie and many other pups in the same situation.
Once at AdoptALab, it was all good news for Petie. He soon traveled to a loving foster family who doted on him until his forever family found him and adopted him as a surprise for their young daughter. The family has had labs previously but decided that a smaller package was in order for the time being and knew that Petie was just the man to fill the spot.
Petie's family doesn't live within driving distance of his foster family, so Petie's forever dad flew into LaGuardia to take Petie home in style aboard a USAir jet! Thanks to all of our volunteers who made this happily ever after happen for Petie this week!
Sunday, June 5th, 2011 Getting Ready for Your Pup's 'Stay-cation' Sometimes going on vacation is something a family and their dog simply can't do together. If you're going a long distance in a cramped car, or worse yet, flying to your relaxation destination, it may just be better for everyone involved if you make plans for a 'stay-cation' for your pup this year when you hit the road for your time away.
Time apart doesn't need to be stressful for you or your four-legged family member if you simply do a little pre-planning before you hit the road.
Just as you had several choices available to you when you were planning your trip, you also have several options available for your pup as well. Here are two to consider:
Your best option may be the simplest. If you can find a competent pet sitting service or, better yet, an available friend or family member, set things up so that your dog can stay right at home when you leave. This is often-times the least stressful on your dog, and you, since somebody will also be keeping track of your house while you're gone. Next best is to have your dog stay at that your friend's house. Either way, make sure you make time to introduce the pet sitter to your dog before leaving. If possible, have that person spend an hour or so at your house with you and your dog before you leave. You can use this time to get your pup's schedule down and go over info such as vet and alternate contact information, should you be out of reach while on the road.
If you can't find or afford a pet sitter, your next option should be a local boarding kennel. Look for recommendations from your friends who also have a dog, or try and find one that also does daycare or training. Once you find a kennel that fits the bill, make time before you leave to visit the kennel with your dog. Walking your pup through the kennel while showing him or her that this place is approved by you will go a long way to helping your dog feel more at home when he or she returns for their stay.
No matter what you choose, don't feel guilty about leaving your dog behind. If the destination is not one that is easily accessed by four-pawed patrons, your vacation will just end up being stressful for both you and your dog. Your dog will be much happier with a more relaxed parent when you return, and you can always plan a special little, dog-friendly outing closer to home to make up for that lost time once you get home.
Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 The Medium is the Message One of the top problems new dog adopters face is handling their new dog on lead. I often hear stories of dogs who pull their new owners through the neighborhood like some crazed Rudolph trailing Santa behind them sans sleigh. Or worse, the dog is pulling ahead of their new mom or dad, warning off all approaching dogs, squirrels, and neighbors.
All of this bad behavior isn't taking place because the adopter is ignoring it; far from it. "I'm using every command I can think of," the exasperated walker will tell me later, "but nothing seems to work! What command am I supposed to use to get this dog to listen to me?"
"I have no idea," I say. As you might guess, nobody likes that answer.
The problem is that what you say actually means very little, since most dogs don't understand English, or any other human language that I've found. What they do understand is how you say it, the sounds you make, and in what context you say it.
Think about watching foreign films with no subtitles; the kind women make their boyfriends take them to, just to see if there are any limits the kind of torture the woman can make her date endure . You have no idea what the people in the film are talking about, but after you watch the action for a while you start to get an idea of what's going on by reading how the actors are saying what they say.
Dogs work in much the same way, reading their people through body language, sound and somehow, emotions. If we work with our dogs long enough, and we use the same command consistently when we want a certain action or behavior, then a command can become a sound that works as a kind of "shorthand" to communicate with your dog. But to get to that point, you need to first communicate your desire clearly in some other way.
The problem develops when the dog owner is accidentally communicating something much different than what they actually want their dog to do. If we go back to the example above, where the dog is pulling his person along on lead, the owner wants the dog to walk along beside of him or behind him. But because the owner is feeling out of control, or frustrated, he or she soon starts feeling anxious or upset. That anxiety and upset comes out in the owner's voice and demeanor whether they want it to or not, and the dog picks up on it. Because the dog doesn't know what the cause of the upset is, he or she goes on guard and gets anxious, too. The dog then ends up dealing with his anxiety through over-zealous pulling to get out of the situation as quickly as possible, or in an unwanted guarding behavior where the dog tries to protect his new meal ticket from whatever threat is causing the upset, not realizing that the dog is actually causing all of the problem himself.
The answer to this problem is for the dog owner to put himself in a situation where he doesn't feel upset or out of control, where he can confidently handle the dog without becoming anxious or frustrated. This is why it's so important to keep an upbeat, relaxed demeanor whenever you work with your dog, giving clear corrections and praise at appropriate times, and stopping the training session whenever the dog or the owner starts to feel frustrated. Because how you say something is more important than what you say, you won't get anywhere if your mood turns sour.
================= Lee Strayer is AdoptALab.org's head trainer, and often can't confidently convey what he wants at drive-through windows. You can email training questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 A Foster Tale Jesse is my fifth foster dog and by far the most skilled at that favorite lab pastime; counter surfing. Like all fosters that have preceded him, each has come into my home frightened and unsure of this new place and these new people. Reduced to basic survival instincts, they know where the food is and they want as much of it as they can get. Nothing is safe on the counters. Loading a dishwasher is even a challenge when there might be something to lick off a dinner plate. Often, I crate a dog during our meal times as my job as foster mom is to make sure that these guys know their manners.
Within 48 hours it comes together. The sitting weíve been practicing intermittently throughout the day (with small treat rewards) is now incorporated into their meals. 'Sit' I tell them and it is done vigorously and only then do I gently place their food bowl on the floor.
Now the rules are beginning to become established. Our routine is in place. Trust and security abound. I usually let my guard down at this point and might leave a dish or a glass on the counter. Perhaps it is the vegetables I am going to use for a salad. And then there is Jesse...
SMASH! I heard coming from the kitchen. I had only left the kitchen for one minute to throw clothes in the dryer. I came storming back to find Jesse in the middle of my favorite, broken pyrex dish. I was not happy and Jesse knew it.
Jesse ran to the back door and I let him out angrily yelling at him as he sought safety in the fenced in yard. Once all was cleaned up, I opened the door and called to Jess to come back in. Huddled in the dark, on the corner of the deck, he sat frozen. My heart sank. Was I too rough? After all, I did leave the pan on the counter, even if it was clean. Gently, I approached him and petted his head. 'Itís ok, Jesse. Címon back in.'
Tail wagging, Jesse scooped up the sweet potato he had somehow managed to smuggle outside in all of the yelling and bounded off to his crate. Oh, Jesse.
I traded him for a dog treat and all was good.
If you would like to get involved in fostering for AAL, email us at email@example.com.
Monday, May 9th, 2011 You Can't Train Your Dog I think it's about time we dog trainers come clean: We don't train dogs.
At least not the way that most dog owners think it's done. In fact, the word "training", according to most dictionary definitions, implies that we're imparting some skill to the dog by "training" him or her. That's simply not the case, for the most part, and it's why I believe so many dog owners have trouble in dealing with bad behaviors in their pups.
The question is not one of training; the question, instead, should be one of communication. If you can open up the lines of communication with your dog, then everything else will naturally begin to fall in place.
Dogs are amazing animals in several respects, and one of the areas in which they naturally shine is in understanding humans. For instance, dogs follow hand signals; few other animals do. They will put up with negative reinforcement; try putting a collar and leash on a wolf if you want proof, though I would encourage you to take my word for it here. And, dogs seem to have an uncanny ability to read our emotions and feelings in a way that we only wish the other people in our life could.
If only humans could do that with dogs.
Instead, we run after them with the latest gizmo or gadget; clickers, magic training collars, harnesses, buzzers and sprays, all promising to magically train our dog in 24 hours. We have mail-order trainers with their important-looking checklists and secret "dog whispering" skills that eventually give up when the dog outsmarts them, only to blame the dog and his mysterious "background" in the end, instead of the one-size-fits-all system they were trying to implement on a dog that knew better.
In most every case of bad behavior, the behavior is not bad in-and-of itself. It's bad because it's a normal behavior being done at an inappropriate time, or in an inappropriate place. Consequently, we end up trying to teach the dog a "non-behavior", which is nearly impossible. What we need to do, instead, is communicate to our pup that we don't want them to do that behavior here, and show them an alternate behavior that will make us, the ones who know where to buy all of that fabulous food, very happy.
This is what we should be doing, finding a way to communicate effectively with our dogs. Learning to recognize problems before they become problems. And, most importantly, we should be trying to learn an effective way in which we can confidently convey our desires to them in a way that makes them confident that they are doing what we expect. Over the next several weeks, I'm going to start talking morel about communication with your dog and how you can use that communication ability to solve problem behaviors.
I hope you'll find it interesting.
Lee Strayer is AdoptALab.org's head trainer, and often uses suspicious "training terms" when playing Scrabble. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, April 16th, 2011 When to Say No When it comes to training, everybody loves to be the "good guy", handing out the praise and treats for good behavior. The controversy comes in when it's time to draw the line and correct the bad behavior. The debate over saying 'No' has been raging for a long time. Should you say 'No'? When? And is there a right way to do it?
In my opinion, not saying 'No' is one of the most cruel things you can do to a dog. Why? Every dog wants to please people; it's hard-wired into their disposition through hundreds of years of breeding. After all, who wants a pet that doesn't like people? (Okay, besides those of you who own poisonous snakes, who?) And if your dog wants to please you, why wouldn't you clearly tell them when they are doing something that you don't like, and help them to fix that behavior? Dogs thrive on clear, consistent rules. Passive aggressive techniques work very poorly with a dog.
Where many dog owners go off the tracks is when they use 'No' more than they use the dog's name, and never show their pup how to stay out of trouble. They follow the dog around the house, yelling 'No' at every turn. "No! Get off the counter! No! Drop that shoe! NO! Quit changing the channel from 'The Bachelor' back to 'Animal Planet'! It's the FINALE!"
After your dog finds out that all they are going to hear from you is 'No', you may have won some battles along the way, but you've lost the war. Your dog decides that there is no pleasing you, and that they will just need to do what they want, but stay out of your way. They may get sneakier, but they will have learned nothing.
When you're trying to fix a bad behavior, you need to follow a system of correction, modelling and praise.
For instance, if your dog is constantly taking your shoe to play with, start with the 'No' and tell him to 'Drop it'. Take it from him, if you need to, but repeat the 'Drop it' command, so that he understands what you were saying 'No' for in the first place, and what you mean when you say 'Drop it'. Once you've got the shoe back, praise him for dropping the shoe. When you're modelling a behavior, you praise your pup for doing it right, even if you technically were the one who made it happen. That's the most effective way you have of communicating with your dog; demonstrating the right way to do something. And, this way, you always end with praise, making sure that your dog will always hear plenty of praise from you to counter any correction they hear. They will learn that there is a way to make you happy, and they will try to do those things that make you give them that rub behind the ear and the 'GOOD BOY!'
Make a habit of catching your dog doing something well and passing out the praise for that, too, and you'll soon find that your dog will be happy, relaxed and engaged in any training that you want to help him with.
'No' can be a good thing when use correctly. Except for turning off 'The Bachelor'. Frankly, I think he's got a point there.
Thursday, March 24th, 2011 Adding A Second Dog Wondering if you are cut out to be a two-dog family? When there are so many dogs who need homes, many of our adopters are tempted to add one more to the house.
Maybe you adopted your current dog, worried about how he would take to you and your family, and were surprised when he fit right in like he had always been there. Or maybe you had a few bumps in the road at first, but you worked through things, and now you can't imagine your family without your dog. And if one is this great, wouldn't a second just be twice as great?
Maybe. One thing that anyone who has more than one dog will tell you is that two dogs is much more than two dogs. That means that you don't just get a simple doubling of all of the dog activity in your house. What you get is dog activity times three or four, because the new dog is now doing things not only with you and your family, they most likely are doing things with the other dog as well. Two just seems like a lot more than one, especially with large dogs like Labs.
And then there is the adjustment to the new order of things. There are always issues in the first several weeks as both dogs jockey for position in the family. Some dogs just blend right into these new situations, but most try and push for all they can get. As the one in charge, you may find yourself refereeing a few scuffles while your two dogs work out their spot in the family.
Jockeying for position in the family pecking order is just one of many little, and not so little, issues that you can encounter when adding a second dog. Unfortunately, there is really no way of knowing ahead of time specifically how your dog is going to react. But before you upend your perfect, one-dog family and bring in another set of paws, you might try some test situations to see how your dog might react with a new brother or sister.
Try and give your dog some playdates with neighborhood dogs, or enrolling him in a day or two a week at a doggie daycare where he can play with some other dogs, and see how that goes. Finding out what his specific play habits are like now can help you decide what kind of dog might be a good addition to your home if you decide that you still want to do that. Does your dog like to wrestle, or does he play chase? Does he share toys, or is he more possessive? This will give you some idea of the type of new dog that might mesh well with your current pup.
Most of the time, we also recommend matching a male with a female, as the two genders don't see themselves as competing for position as much as two males or two females might.
Having a friend's dog over for the weekend can be a good test, too, to see what your dog would think of sharing you with another dog on his home turf. It may turn out that he's plenty happy playing hard a day or two a week outside his house, but things are entirely different when that playmate comes home.
Of course you can't really know how a new dog is going to work until you give it a try, which is why AdoptALab.org takes our dogs back after giving you a trial period in your home. So if you're ready for the challenge of bringing in a second dog, we'll try and help find the right dog for your family... and your dog.