January 2012 


No, really! He said a super bowl is coming. What do you think he'll put in it?



Giving up your dog.

In the past couple years, rescues and shelters have seen an increasing number of dogs surrendered by their owners because of financial issues. The economy has been strained beyond breaking and many people have suffered from it. For some families, this has meant having to give up the family dog when they lose their home. Along with this new facet of pet relinquishment, the giving up of the family dog for a range of other, less "pressing" reasons, has remained constant. Dogs are regularly dumped at shelters or surrendered to rescues because he "got too big", because the family had a baby or the family "can't give the dog the time he needs", because he peed in the house, and the excuses go on. But what about the dog?

Regardless of the reason a family dog has to be passed to the care of someone new, it is likely the dog will suffer. A dog is not able to understand circumstances. He doesn't know that the new landlord won't allow dogs, he doesn't grasp that a new baby means you don't love him anymore, he doesn't understand why you don't have enough time for him, he demands so little. What the dog does understand is that his "pack" is gone and he was left behind. By nature a loyal beast, your dog may wait for your return for days, weeks, even months, if he lives that long; many dogs who are left in shelters never make it out.

Many people never think of animals as experiencing feelings of loss or as grieving. Even those who love and work with animals sometimes forget what these pets might be going through when they lose their homes and family. This reality was brought home to me recently when I took custody of a returning dog. Rescues generally stipulate that dogs they place must be returned to them if the owner is unable to keep it at some future time. Because of this policy, little Mickey came to me, the nearest foster home to him.

Mickey had been adopted about six years earlier, although for the past year he had been living with relatives of his adopter. His owner was able to bring her little dog to me so I met him in the parking lot next to my house. Mickey, a tiny little terrier, was nervous meeting me and frankly, I was a little nervous myself since his caregiver of the past year said he bit her husband several times. I wasn’t sure how he would take being picked up by me.

He went on leash to the porch while his bed and toys were carried up, then his owner told him goodbye and she and her friends left. Mickey watched them as they walked away and started whining when they got near the car. As they drove away, he headed off the porch, pulling on the leash as hard as an eight pound dog can. I allowed him to pull me along to the parking lot where he sniffed where they had walked and where the car had been. He started pulling across the parking lot, heading toward the street. I stopped him then, picked him up and carried him back to the porch. He trembled as I carried him but did not object.

When he was released he started for the porch steps again. When I would not let him go, he returned to the far side of the porch and sat down, staring out at the spot where the car had been. He only left his post because I picked him up and carried him into the house. I felt so bad for him but he was uninterested in my attempts to comfort him. He finally settled and went to sleep when I put him in his snuggle bed, inside a crate. He had to be locked in to keep him from going to wait by the door for his owner to return.

Mickey has been here two weeks now and he is starting to overcome his grief. At first he was tolerant of being picked up or petted but showed no real interest in getting attention from me. For over a week, if we went out the front door he headed for the parking lot but the last few days he will return to me when I call. He has started following me around the house and looking for me when I leave the room and he now showing some excitement at seeing me when I return from an errand. It’s good to see him perking up, for a few days he was such a sad little dog.

Life will go on for Mickey. Like most dogs, he will adjust if he has someone to trust. He will bond to a new person and he will love them. There will continue to be people who have no choice but to give up their dog, my sympathy goes to these people, I cannot imagine having to give up mine. There are also people who will continue to consider a pet “disposable” so when they tire of it, they will dump their dog. For those, I also have sympathy of a sort, for you will never truly understand what it is to have a true bond with a pet. You have missed out.

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P.O. Box 3237
Seminole, FL 33775-3237







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Read part 1 in the December Barker

As the human and as his owner you have control of all things that are wonderful in your dog’s life. This is the backbone of the NILIF program. You control all of the resources. Playing, attention, food, walks, going in and out of the door, going for a ride in the car, going to the dog park. Anything and everything that your dog wants comes from you. If he's been getting most of these things for free there is no real reason for him to respect your leadership or your ownership of these things. Again, a timid dog is going to be stressed by this situation, a pushy dog is going to be difficult to handle. Both of them would prefer to have you in charge.

To implement the NILIF program you simply have to have your dog earn his use of your resources. He's hungry? No problem, he simply has to sit before his bowl is put down. He wants to play fetch? Great! He has to "down" before you throw the ball. Want to go for a walk or a ride? He has to sit to get his lead snapped on and has to sit while the front door is opened. He has to sit and wait while the car door is opened and listen for the word (I use "OK") that means "get into the car". When you return he has to wait for the word that means "get out of the car" even if the door is wide open. Don't be too hard on him. He's already learned that he can make all of these decisions on his own. He has a strong history of being in control of when he gets these resources. Enforce the new rules, but keep in mind that he's only doing what he's been taught to do and he's going to need some time to get the hang of it all.

You're going to have to pay attention to things that you probably haven't noticed before. If you feed your dog from your plate do you just toss him a green bean? No more. He has to earn it. You don't have to use standard obedience commands, any kind of action will do. If your dog knows "shake" or "spin around" or "speak" use those commands. Does your dog sleep on your bed? Teach him that he has to wait for you to say "OK" to get on the bed and he has to get down when you say "off". Teach him to go to his bed, or other designated spot, on command. When he goes to his spot and lays down tell him "stay" and then release him with a treat reward. Having a particular spot where he stays is very helpful for when you have guests or otherwise need him out of the way for a while. It also teaches him that free run of the house is a resource that you control. There are many things that your dog sees as valuable resources that I haven't mentioned here.

The NILIF program should not be a long, drawn out process. All you need to do is enforce a simple command before allowing him access to what he wants. Dinner, for example, should be a two or three second encounter that consists of nothing more than saying "sit", then "good dog!", then putting the bowl down and walking away.

Now that your dog is no longer calling the shots you will have to make an extra effort to provide him with attention and play time. Call him to you, have him "sit" and then lavish him with as much attention as you want. Have him go get his favorite toy and play as long as you both have the energy. The difference is that now you will be the one initiating the attention and beginning the play time. He's going to depend on you now, a lot more than before, to see that he gets what he needs. What he needs most is quality time with you. This would be a good time to enroll in a group obedience class. If his basic obedience is top notch, see about joining an agility class or fly ball team.

The NILIF concept speaks to who initiates the attention (you!), not the amount of attention. Go ahead and call your dog to you 100 times a day for hugs and kisses!! You can demand his attention, he can no longer demand yours!

Within a day or two your dog will see you in a whole new light and will be eager to learn more. Use this time to teach new things, such as 'roll over' or learn the names of different toys. If you have a shy dog, you'll see a more relaxed dog. There is no longer any reason to worry about much of anything. He now has complete faith in you as his protector and guide. If you have a pushy dog he'll be glad that the fight for leadership is over and his new role is that of devoted and adored pet.

Submitted by Terry Nickerson, Canine Behavior Therapist and owner of Bark Busters of Brevard. You can reach Terry at 1-977-500-BARK or visit her company's website at www.Barkbusters.com.

Every year around this time I am reminded that I am not allowed to eat chocolate. It seems so unfair that I cannot have even a single piece of that luscious confection while the humans in my house consume an entire heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates with no ill effect (other than expanding waistlines). Apparently there is an ingredient in chocolate (theobromine) that can build in my system until it reaches a toxic level.

Before you feel too sorry for me or your canine buddies, remember that there are other ways to show the love for your pets on Valentine’s day. This month I have done the research for you and compiled a list of things you can do for your furry friends this Valentine’s day.

  1. Add a red collar and leash to our wardrobe. Who doesn't look good in red?
  2. Specialty dog bakeries make fabulous looking treats from healthy ingredients and this time of year there will be special offerings just for Valentine’s day. Look for pseudo chocolates, heart shaped biscuits, and red and white bon-bons.
  3. Doggies who live in northern climates might appreciate a red or valentine- themed coat for the winter.
  4. Similarly, those of us who live in the south might appreciate a lightweight alternative such as a dress or polo shirt with a heart motif.
  5. For multi dog households, trying matching valentine scarves or bandanas. Just image what a cute photo that would make!

Remember, we pups appreciate the celebration of love but please keep us safe by placing the chocolate and poisonous plants and flowers out of our reach.

Mia is a dog from West Virginia. I had a call from a young lady that asked me if I would please help a dog in their local shelter as there were very few rescues that offered to take dogs from West Virginia. She had been brought in with another dog and had been in the shelter for two weeks. She was sick and needed treatment and the only way to get her out was to adopt her as the shelter wasn’t rescue friendly. She was adopted by the lady in West Virginia and I went to get her the next weekend.

When I picked her up she was extremely ill and the other dog in the kennel with her had died. After an immediate trip to the vet, medicine for 10 days, and good food, she was as good as new. She is such a sweet girl but she can be very protective over her toys and food. She loves to play. Her age is estimated to be 6 years old and would make someone a lovely companion. She is also a great foot warmer at night under the covers!


Ratbone Leaks


Dear Readers,

We are now participating in a program we would like you to help us with. We are asking for donations of old CELL PHONES for a good cause. Every cell phone we collect will be sent to the military, who will exchange them for PRE-PAID CALLING CARDS for our troops deployed overseas, so they can call home. Ask everyone you know if they have any old cell phones they would like to donate. Ratbone Rescues will collect the phones in a central location and deliver them to McDill AFB in Tampa regularly.

Although Ratbone will participate in this program for an indefinite length of time, we are not sure how long it will be going so send your old phones to RBR, PO Box 3237, Seminole FL 33775 as soon as practical. We are excited about this program to help our service members who are far from home so please help us collect those old, unwanted cell phones for this worthy cause.

Thank you,

The Barker Crew


If you missed chapter one of Mickey's story, read it in the December edition of The Ratbone Barker.

The Saga of Trucker Mickey
By Susan Cadell

Chapter Two: A Ratbone dog
After Trucker Mickey moved to my home as a Ratbone foster, the first thing to do was get him to the vet. There we discovered his feet had fungus from standing around on wet ground all day. He needed to lose 20 pounds and his back was out of alignment due to his weight problem. Truck went on a diet, went to a good doggy chiropractor and got his feet dipped in Listerine twice a day. The weight started to come off. Then we started going on walks to the park. At that time, we also had a lively young foster dog named Storm. Storm and Mick both needed lots of good exercise. Mick for his weight problem and Storm because he would steal your reading glasses and bury them in the garden if he was bored. So I spent a lot of time walking these two to the local dog park. That dog park was wonderful for socialization as well as exercise. I watched Trucker Mickey respond to any child in the park. He loved them. He would follow the kids around carrying his ball in his mouth, hoping somebody would throw it.

We also had a large standard dog named Mad Max at home. Mad Max had been tortured at one time and was never really adoptable. We adopted him ourselves and he was the acknowledged leader of the pack. He wouldn’t take any nonsense off any new dog. Trucker Mickey was a very dominant dog himself and I was concerned that he and Mad Max would not get along. Instead of becoming rivals, Mad Max and Trucker Mickey became allies and friends. Mad Max was very territorial and protective of his turf; so was Trucker. Mad Max would patrol the perimeters of his back yard several times a day. Pretty soon, I noticed that Mad Max would take one side of the yard and Trucker would patrol the other side. They had worked out a system for sharing guard duty.

Eventually Trucker regained his health and we put him up on the website to be adopted. A local family who had already adopted a Ratbone Rat Terrier named Paisley decided they wanted him and off he went to be a family dog. Trucker Mickey now had two kids of his own and a big back yard to patrol. All was well for several months. Trucker had developed a medical problem due to his rapid weight loss but the vet put him on a drug that contoled the problem. He would be on that drug the rest of his life, but that was OK with his new family. I checked on Trucker frequently as he had sort of become one of mine. Although Trucker was obsessive about his tennis ball, he was able to make friends with the families knothead lab, played with Paisley, and adored the children. Trucker continued to lose weight and gradually became the dog he used to be.

Then Trucker’s new family had troubles and ended up returning both Trucker Mickey and Paisley to Ratbones. I took both of them in and Paisley adopted out very quickly to a lovely home. But no one seemed to want big boned, stoic Trucker Mickey. I didn’t care, Mad Max was thrilled to see his old friend and I was happy to have Trucker back. But Trucker missed his kids and was depressed. I would take Trucker Mickey to Petco adoption days but no one seemed to see what a wonderful dog lived inside that big, odd looking body. Trucker looked like a cross between a Basset Hound and a Rat Terrier. If a type B, short legged Rat Terrier could be a Decker, that was Trucker Mickey. He was just an odd looking, short legged, long bodied dog. But he was all heart and wonderful and I loved him.

This story actually starts with Snookie, a Rat Terrier who came to Ratbone from a high kill shelter in Florida. Snookie was a little girl but she was in trouble; not only was she homeless, she was quite pregnant. Fortunately, she was rescued and in foster care she had five little girl puppies, which the vet said was unusual. Lilly was one of the puppies born to Snookie. The puppies were all typical terrier pups, they ran and played, chewed, napped, ate and grew. Then, one day they were big enough to go to their own homes and shortly, Lilly was adopted. In June, she went to her new home with the Curtis family in Virginia. It was a long trip, involving several transport volunteers but finally her new mom and dad met her in Rocky Mount, NC and took her the rest of the way home. There she met her new "brother", Freeway, who obviously loves her. When the cat is bigger than you, you have to be nice when he wants to play kissy-face.

Here is what her new family had to say about Lilly: Lilly is slowly adjusting. The trip made her very shy, with all of the handing off and stuff. The first week we had to coax her out of her crate and she would run into it as soon as we would let her back in the house from outside, but we would just coax her out of the crate and put her in our lap. Both of us were off two weeks ago for our kitchen cabinet remodeling and spent a lot of time with her, although she did get under foot a few times. She likes to be right at Diana’s side all of the time. Freeway (our younger rescue cat) and Lilly have become best friends and they will sleep and play with each other, plus they want to eat each others food. We're still working on getting her to use the dog door and Freeway has helped in this area, as she see’s how easily it is to go in & out. She will come in or go out if we lift up the flap a little. We've taken her with us to Lowe's and Home Depot, we put her in a cart with her bed and she is a model child. We've also taken her to Care-A-Lots and she stays close to who ever has the leash, and does very well interacting with other people and dogs. When Diana & I come home from an errand, we can hear her tail tapping the crate in excitement, waiting to greet us and give us kisses. We’ll be enrolling her in a dog classes soon and hopefully that will help with her confidence as well.

Congratulations Lilly, many happy years to you and your family.


Ratbone Rescues is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Ratbone Rescues, Inc.
P.O. Box 3237
Seminole, FL 33775-3237

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