December 2011 


Christmas Rattie


Here it is, just days away from Christmas. This is the second Christmas for The Ratbone Barker and we have enjoyed bringing you this newsletter over the past year. We hope you have been entertained by our stories and that you have learned some new and interesting things about Ratbone Rescues, our members, our dogs or maybe even your dogs.

Throughout the past years, many of you have given to Ratbone Rescues in some way; by fostering our homeless Rat Terriers, helping transport them from place to place, working on applications to adopt them or giving donations to help us pay the bills that go with saving these little dogs. Every dollar donated, every hour spent helping, even the support you all show by taking the time to read our newsletters and pass them on, is appreciated beyond what words can express. Of course, this time of year, a special thanks has to go out to those who volunteer to be a “Secret Santa” for the Rat Terriers in foster care. We wanted to share with you just one little story of the excitement when our foster pups get their special Christmas packages.

Two boxes arrived from Susie’s and Sugar Plum’s secret Santa! As they arrived on the same day, we decided to make a family event out of it. Sugar is always willing to help her foster mom unwrap anything and this time was no different. But Susie is usually not so accommodating. She has to be coaxed to do anything different. But somehow, Susie seemed to know that there might be something good in that box and she pitched in! Foster Mom helped by cutting open the boxes, but Sugar and Susie definitely did the rest.

As the rest of the pack reluctantly looked on, (Foster mom was keeping them off with a “Leave it”.) Sugar Plum plucked out the pink rope that was Susie’s and fragile little six pound Susie pulled out a BIG Nyla bone (that was Sugar’s) and struggled to carry it off. The Nyla bone was taller than she is but she was gonna get that thing to her bed and hoard it. There were treats in there too and Sugar and Susie were kind enough to let the rest of the pack have a couple of their treats. But so far, Susie has not shared that huge Nyla bone. That seems to be off limits.

Thank you so much to the kind people who gave our temporary dogs a special holiday and to all those who have supported us in whatever way you were able to. We look forward to bringing you many more editions of The Barker. May you and your families all have a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year.

The Barker Crew

***Please be sure to include an e-mail address, so that we can send you an acknowledgement***

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



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The NILIF program is remarkable because it's effective for such a wide variety of problems. A shy, timid dog becomes more relaxed knowing that he has nothing to worry about, his owner is in charge of all things. A dog that's pushing too hard to become "top dog" learns that the position is not available and that his life is far more enjoyable without the title.

It is equally successful with dogs that fall anywhere between those two extremes. The program is not difficult to put into effect and it's not time consuming if the dog already knows a few basic obedience commands. I've never seen this technique fail to bring about a positive change in behavior, however, the change can be more profound in some dogs than others. Most owners use this program in conjunction with other behavior modification techniques such as coping with fear or treatment for aggression. It is a perfectly suitable technique for the dog with no major behavior problems that just needs some fine tuning.

ATTENTION ON DEMAND The program begins by eliminating attention on demand. When your dog comes to you and nudges your hand, saying "pet me! pet me!" ignore him. Don't tell him "no", don't push him away. Simply pretend you don't notice him. This has worked for him before, so don't be surprised if he tries harder to get your attention. When he figures out that this no longer works, he'll stop. In a pack situation, the top ranking dogs can demand attention from the lower ranking ones, not the other way around. When you give your dog attention on demand you're telling him that he has more status in the pack than you do. Timid dogs become stressed by having this power and may become clingy. They're never sure when you'll be in charge so they can't relax. What if something scary happens, like a stranger coming in the house? Who will handle that? The timid dog that is demanding of attention can be on edge a lot of the time because he has more responsibility than he can handle.

Some dogs see their ability to demand attention as confirmation that they are the "alpha", then become difficult to handle when told to "sit" or "down" or some other demand is placed on them. It is not their leadership status that stresses them out, it's the lack of consistency. They may or may not actually be alpha material, but having no one in the pack that is clearly the leader is a bigger problem than having the dog assume that role full time. Dogs are happiest when the pack order is stable. Tension is created by a constant fluctuation of pack leadership.

Your dog already knows that he can demand your attention and he knows what works to get that to happen. As of today, it no longer works, but he doesn't know that yet. We all try harder at something we know works when it stops working. If I gave you a twenty dollar bill every time you clapped your hands together, you'd clap a lot. But, if I suddenly stopped handing you money, even though you were still clapping, you'd clap more and clap louder. You might even get closer to me to make sure I was noticing that you were clapping. You might even shout at me "Hey! I'm clapping like crazy over here, where's the money?". If I didn't respond at all, in any way, you'd stop. It wasn't working anymore. That last try -- that loud, frequent clapping is an extinction burst. If, however, during that extinction burst, I gave you another twenty dollar bill you'd be right back in it. It would take a lot longer to get you to stop clapping because you just learned that if you try hard enough, it will work.

When your dog learns that the behaviors that used to get him your attention don't work any more he's going to try harder and he's going to have an extinction burst. If you give him attention during that time you will have to work that much harder to get him turned around again. Telling him "no" or pushing him away is not the kind of attention he's after, but it's still attention. Completely ignoring him will work faster and better.

Return in January for Part 2 of Nothing In Life Is Free.

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

Chloe is a seven year old Rat Terrier who, despite being deaf and blind, is incredibly independent, chipper, and full of life! Chloe was born deaf, and gradually lost her sight about 2-3 years ago due to inoperable cataracts. She has learned to compensate for her hearing and vision losses by using her finely attuned senses of smell and touch. Within hours after being introduced to her new foster home in southern Michigan she was walking up and down stairs, jumping onto sofas and beds, and licking her fostermom and fosterdad furiously. Chloe is confident, very sweet and has a wonderful personality. Quite honestly, she seems not at all concerned that she cannot see or hear.

Chloe came to Ratbones when her former owner reached out to find a rescue group to help care for Chloe's special needs. Ratbones took Chloe to Perdue Veterinary Center to be evaluated for cataract surgery. Unfortunately, because of retinal damage in both eyes, her vision could not be restored. She was prescribed several eyedrops to relieve the pressure in her eyes which, if left untreated, is very painful and will eventually lead to the loss of both eyes. After a few months, the eyedrops were no longer working well and so Chloe is now scheduled for a special procedure that will allow her to keep her eyes but will permanently relieve her eye pressure and pain.

This surgery is a little more costly than losing her eyes but will allow her to keep her facial expressions that are so much a part of her great personality. Her recovery will take about 2 months, but her foster parents are excited for Chloe and are looking forward to her leading a more comfortable life as a wonderful, lively, and loving ratty.

And the winners of the Ratbone Rescues Holiday Fund-raiser are...

Veronica Noechel - RCA Color TV

Margaret Davis - Stuffed Coach Bag

Dolores Knight - 10 Gallon Aquarium Kit



This month we are launching a new column, "Rat Tales"; stories of Rat Terriers who have passed through or become part of our lives. Unlike "Happy Tails", these stories do not always have a happy ending but we think you will be touched by these tales about some of the wonderful dogs we have met.

To kick off this column, we are pleased to bring you part 1 of the story of Trucker Mickey, a Ratbone dog. Be sure to read part 2 in the January issue.

By Susan Cadell

Chapter One: Mickey Arrives
Mickey was a stray in California, who was picked up by the Humane Shelter. A foster mom in Washington offered to foster this big boned, large sized Rat Terrier, so Ratbone pulled him. A very kind trucker offered to drive Mickey from CA to his new foster mom in Spokane but unfortunately, no one knew or told the trucker that Mickey would bolt if he got the chance. So, the kindly trucker stopped off in an orange grove to let Mickey stretch his legs and wound up chasing him for the rest of the afternoon before Mickey was finally captured. In honor of this “above and beyond” effort, Mickey’s name was forever changed to Trucker Mickey.

I became a part of Trucker Mickey’s life when Peggy applied to adopt him. Peggy lived in my neighborhood, in a townhouse. She wanted a good natured, calm dog that didn’t bark much. That was Truck. The adoption went through and Trucker Mickey and I became neighbors of a sort. I would run into Peggy and Mick at Petco and other places. Peggy was happy. Mick was happy. All went well for several years, then, unbeknownst to me, Peggy suffered a massive heart attack. No one was sure if she would make it. Trucker Mickey went to stay with relatives. Peggy survived that heart attack but just as she was getting optimistic about getting out of the hospital, she had another heart attack. This time her family did not expect her to survive, so they gave away her belongings and gave Trucker Mickey to an old friend of Peggy. She surprised them all by surviving the second attack but she spent months in a rehab facility. Finally, faced with massive debts and unable to work, Peggy went to live with her daughter until she could get back on her feet.

Eventually Peggy went to see how Trucker Mickey was doing with her friend. She found Truck outside in a narrow dog run, exposed to the elements 24 hours a day. Her friend had fed Mick on scraps like old waffles and potatoes. Mickey had become extremely obese and deeply depressed. When Peggy saw the condition her dog was living in, she took him back from her friend, but was unable to bring him home to her daughter’s house.

I knew none of this until one day my doorbell rang and I opened to door to see Peggy and a fat Trucker Mickey, standing on my doorstep. I was immediately furious about Trucker’s condition. His nails were frightful, his coat was shaggy and dirty and he was huge. He looked terrible. Peggy kept asking if they could at least come in and explain so I knew that Peggy could see how upset I was.

I let them in but what I really wanted to do was snatch Trucker’s leash and throw Peggy into the flower bed. Peggy kept trying to explain, so I swallowed my irritation and we sat down while Peggy told me the entire story. Through it all, Peggy kept stroking Mickey’s head and Mick kept leaning up against her. I made tea and we moved to the back patio where Mickey could explore the backyard and enjoy his newfound freedom. Peggy stayed the rest of the day and by dinner time I was no longer angry, just saddened that I had not known that Trucker, and Peggy, had needed help. Naturally, Trucker Mickey, was going to stay and Peggy and I were becoming friends.


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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