Go West, young man.

Saturday morning, Race the devil puppy left for his new home, where he has his very own Golden Retriever to play with.  I had two glorious hours to myself and then, because idle hands are the devil’s playground, I picked up my next project.

Meet West.

Oh hai.

West came with the name “Wesson” as in “Smith &” but I couldn’t bear to call him by such a red-necky sounding name.  Not that it really matters what I call him, as he doesn’t know his name anyway, or anything else for that matter.  When I speak to him, he generally thinks I’m just talking to hear my own voice and disregards me almost totally.  He ignores me so much that at first I wondered if he was deaf.  The first night I had him, he fell asleep STANDING UP (literally) and for a while I contemplated that he might be having focal seizures, hence the non-responsiveness and collapsing to the floor.  However, a little more time has passed and now I think that West was just really exhausted by the day’s events, too worried to lie down lest TWooie kill him, and he doesn’t listen to me because nobody’s ever spoken to him before.

Lots of dogs are in rescue having experienced nothing more than what we refer to as “benign neglect,” as in their previous owners did not do as much with or for them as they could have, and maybe should have.  Those dogs come in a little fat from lack of exercise, or rusty with the old obedience skills, and similar afflictions.  A very few dogs come in having suffered serious physical or mental abuse – I know everyone in the world likes to say that their rescue dog was abused before they laid hands on it, but it’s usually not true.  There just aren’t THAT many people out there beating the tar out of dogs.

And then there is West.  This is one of those times when I wish I could talk to a dog and hear what he has to tell me.

I have something to say!

Shut up, Piper.

West is 10 months old; he was sold as a puppy and returned to his breeders, which put them over the bylaw limit for dogs per household (apparently, some people abide by these laws!) so they asked us to take him.  Since we are not a dumping ground for breeders, we only agreed to take him when we learned the parents were now neutered.  So we know some things about him – what we don’t know is what happened to him in the 8 months he was living with his buyers.

West does not know his name, is not housebroken, is not crate trained.  He gets violently car sick.  He had urine scald on his thighs, and matts behind his ears that were so thick they had to be cut out, ans his fur is tinged with urine.  He fights the leash like a coyote, does not understand traffic, people walking down the street or anything that you would expect a 10 month old dog to know.  He will not take food from my hand.  It took him 24 hours to decide I was not a threat and he is quite afraid of strangers, especially men.  He freezes to stone when his collar is touched.  His only useful life skills are speaking dog very well.

So if I had to guess, I would say the folks bought him brought him home, threw him outside in a pen with another, or some other, dogs and left him there for 8 months without interacting with him in any meaningful way, except maybe to periodically flip out on him and shake him around by the collar.

There are meaningful ways?

This is the part where I tell everyone that has ever complained about the sometimes tedious process of adopting a dog – the application, the conversations, the reference checks, the home visits – that there is very good a reason we do all this.  West is one of those reasons!

Anyway, lucky for West, his life is about to change in a variety of new and interesting ways!  I discovered yesterday that he won’t eat cookies, but has developed a fondness for raw meat, so he and I are about to embark on an adventure of force-free training involving us, a clicker and a bag of raw liver chunks :)  He is going to learn how lovely life can be when nice people run it for him.  In Jason Bourne-like fashion, he assessed the potential threat that was me, decided I was harmless and is now as pleasant with me as anyone could want a dog to be.  Even though within 48 hours I’d left him with the strange scary vet to have his testicles removed, he was overjoyed to see me when I collected him this afternoon.  I think this bodes well for a promising future between us.

Welcome to your new life, West!

The other dogs are, of course, utterly disgusted with my do-gooder ways. I won’t even repeat what TWooie said when he first saw West come to his door.  And to get me back for my transgression, last night when I let everyone out for bed time potties, Woo snuck back in behind me (unnoticed) and hid under the bed – so when I called everyone to come in again a few minutes later, he was nowhere to be found.  I spent 45 minutes in the dark and the rain in my pajamas with a flashlight looking for him, only to come inside and find him snoring away on my pillow.  *shakes fist at Woo*

Dexter thinks West is alright though, and a much better size for wrestling with than Race was.  He is pleased with his gift.

A puppy, for me?

Isn’t it nice to be able to say that Dexter’s issues with other puppies (and periodically, other dogs in general) have totally vanished?  He now greets every dog in the world with a happy face.  I am so relieved by his personality overhaul!  And very grateful.  One bad ass in the family is enough (I’m looking at you, TWoo).

I am also very grateful because a little agility club raised a nice sum of money toward Dexter’s complicated, find-the-testicles neuter.  I’ve almost enough money squirreled away now for my vet to go in and find those sly little guys.  Many thanks to the Pender Island Agility Club!


(if only he knew what was in store for him.  *insert evil, maniacal laughter here*)

Piper says if anyone needs their balls removed, she can do it! (and Tweed winces in pain at the mere thought of it!)

Our biggest challenge at the moment is overcoming Mr. West’s car sickness.  It’s pretty much a guarantee that if I put him in a car, he’s going to vomit.  He’s coming to work with me for the next two days so I can keep an eye on him post neuter (and also because he is not housebroken yet!) and I intend to not feed him breakfast until we get to work, but if you have any suggestions for vomit-calming, I’m all ears!

Actually, West is all ears.

Oh brother, that was cheezy.


  1. West in the best possible hands with you!

  2. ZOMG, he’s a cutie. I want!!! I want!! I want!!

    I may have to get a divorce but it might be worth it!

    I met Sprite this weekend at the Agility show, what a cutie!!

  3. I am so glad he has you, and the rest of your pack. Looking forward to pictures and updates??
    thank you for taking care of these dogs.

  4. Susan Shepard says:

    What a cutie! I’ve heard ginger is good for helping with car sickness. A friend of mine gives her dog some ginger snaps before taking her for a car ride. Don’t know if it will help but it might be worth a try!

  5. Well, if anyone can rehab that handsome fella, it’s YOU, Foodlady. Just look at the wonderful work you’ve down with Twoo. I can’t wait to see how he grows and progresses with your family.

  6. Evie Douglas says:

    Dear god he’s cute! How could anyone look at that face & not be totally, instantly in love? Betcha he learns all there is worth knowing in a flash, and a lot that you would probably prefer that he didn’t learn.
    Happy new life West!!!

  7. Oh! If only we were still out west! West hits me in that “magical something” spot I always look for. Been there, done that with those type of issues too. Good luck with Mr West and I look forward to hearing more about him!

  8. Ginger.
    Rescue Remedy drops.
    A Thundershirt, but that costs money and isn’t going to help you by tomorrow.

    And, not that you can do it whilst you’re driving, but TTOUCH on the ears really does help. Kota doesn’t get travel sick but he does get very, very anxious in cars and TTOUCHing on his ears changes him from a panting, drooling, tensed up pile on the floor to a fairly relaxed dog with his head up and looking around.

    [BTW, after pet-sitting 3 extra dogs for 3 days I have a new-found respect for you and your pack of five(+) dogs. Yes, this is a blatant invitation/beg for you to go look at my blog…]

  9. “One bad ass in the family is enough (I’m looking at you, TWoo).”

    I guess the TWoo is there to stay! Yeah!
    And I was going to suggest Rescue Remedy as well. Maybe just a t-shirt instead of an actual Thundershirt might work for car rides. I’ve found recently that throwing a towel over Skye-dog during thunderstorms helps to calm her shivering. Good luck with the poor guy – as others have said, he’s now in the right hands and has great things ahead of him. Yeah again! Looking forward to hearing about his progress.

  10. …oh and although it might appear counter-productive, having him sit in the car before driving it and feeding him those raw liver treats. Maybe that will help with his nerves and make car a less scary proposition.

  11. Hi! Two of our dogs got terribly car sick when they were puppies, and the things we found that worked were Dramamine an hour before leaving, and keeping them on the floor of the car. The extra little bounce the seat cushions made sent them over the edge. He could also be getting sick from nervousness in the car, so the Dramamine will help that as well.

    Good luck! Love, love, love West, he’s such a cutie! And <3 to Dexter, I lurve him! :)

  12. West is so lucky to have you in his life – good looks will only take a dog so far, and the beautiful ones are so immediately appealing that they can get adopted for all the wrong reasons. My previous dog (a husky/shepherd cross) also got very carsick, and for long trips we actually fed him Gravol. He eventually outgrew it (3-4 years later, that is..)

  13. Those big furry ears are just too much. You’ll have to teach him that ear love is great because whoever adopts him is going to have a hard time not tousling those ears.

    If he is car sick from motion my only helpful suggestion is to put a plastic shower curtain in the back of your car so it is easy to clean. ;)

    If it is stress maybe put a tight t-shirt on him to calm his nerves. Poke gets very stressed on windy roads and this seems to put him in a no worries state of mind.

  14. ice cream…..give him some ice cream, helps to clam the tummy :))

  15. How are piper’s ears doing?

  16. Yvonne Mulcaster says:

    The best thing I have found for car sickness is meclazine 25 mg. It used to be called Bonamine. It works on the inner ear and cures car sickness asap. It is a once a day dose. I give it the night before I’m taking a pup out.
    I have also used it for dogs that have Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome so they can eat and drink normally.

  17. RaisingRiver says:

    I found that short trips in the car before eating that grew gradually longer helped so that at least car/vomit association is removed. Of note, my dog (Jaida) was not crated during this and was in the front seat beside me. I know from personal experience that the back of minivans make me ill (it’s bumpy back there!) but riding in the front of mine is fine. Maybe a few trips in the front will help for a while too.

  18. You are so wonderful in the lives of dogs like him!
    I second the ginger suggestion. I actually take capsules of ginger root for car sickness myself, and they do help. It relaxes the stomach.

    My other suggestion is blast air conditioning. My husband’s mom’s dog would get carsick if she got too warm. Best of luck!

  19. The Food Lady says:

    Thanks all for your suggestions!

    I do not have the luxury if short trips to acclimate West to the car – I work far away, and he is too not housebroken to be home unattended. All dogs are crated in my car, so I will try a crate closer to the front / not on the platform. Where might I get this magical sounding Bonamine?

  20. Dramamine might also help. OTC in the States.

    TTouch earwork even before the ride itself may help. Stroke the ears firmly but gently from base to tip, doing multiple strokes to cover all the ear multiple times. Tends to have a calming effect on critters in general, not just as car prep. If you have a non-self-stick (aka regular or old-style) Ace wrap, put a TTouch bodywrap (half-wrap) on him. Start with the middle on the front of his chest, under his chin. Go up over his shoulders, crossing around the withers, then under his belly and back up by his spine. Tie or pin it off, keeping the knot or pin off his spine. That, with or without a T-shirt, may help.

    He’s very cute — love those ears.

  21. A Gravol 1/2 hour before you leave should help.

  22. What a beauty he is! I hope he gets on well with his foster siblings.

  23. Charley used to get horribly carsick every time. I ended up resorting to gravol (or dramamine) so she could have a trip or two where she didn’t get sick and then I decreased the dose each time until she no longer needed it. However, Charley would still drool like crazy and look liked she’d like to be anywhere but in the car – just not vomit. Ginger snaps helped with that, but my most recent solution (which has stopped the drooling altogether) was to add a static strap to the car. They are available at Lordco for about $10, and attach to any part of the metal frame towards the back of the car. They are those rubber straps you see hanging down – good for eliminating motion sickness in kids and dogs. They also eliminate those nasty shocks some cars give when you touch the doorhandle on a nice cold day!

  24. West is stunning, hard to believe anyone could get him as a puppy and ignore him like that. Best of luck helping him recover.

    I’m going to try some of these carsickness ideas as well. our newly adopted pup doesn’t like the car rides. She also sits and drools and looks miserable. We have been spending time in the car while parked, relaxing and eating treats. She still hates it as soon as it starts moving. She seems more comfortable outside her crate than in while the car is moving.

  25. A good friend of mine cured his dog of car sickness by installing those anti static strips on his bumper. The ones my parents used to put on the car before we went on vacation. You can buy them at Canadian tire for under 5 bucks. Well worth the investment! I never threw up on vacations…

  26. I had a dog once who would only get car sick if she was kept in her crate while traveling. The minute she went into her crate in the car, up it’d come. If I left her in the back seat free to roam )or restrained her with a doggie seatbelt) and she could stick her head out the window, she was a happy dog and wouldn’t throw up.
    Good luck!

  27. Someone may have suggested this already, but we had a dog who got very carsick and we gave him Bonine (non-drowsy Dramamine–maybe the same as the Gravol I see others recommending)–I think it was 25mg (whatever it was, it was the equivalent of 1 pill). You can buy it at a regular drugstore in the States–if you can’t find any, I’d be happy to send you some. We gave it to him about 45 minutes to an hour before the car and it worked like a charm and eventually he got passed being car sick–and he used to drool and vomit every time he was put in the car. He was younger than West, but I suspect it would still work.

  28. Poor West. Sounds like he came from a pretty sad place. He’s in great hands though and I have no doubt he’ll move forward in leaps and bounds!

    He’s a REALLY gorgeous dog. His markings are beautiful. I’m amazed at how much he looks like an Australian shepherd that I transported to a rescue last month (This is Indy: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4138/4849925223_b6a1ee9237_z.jpg).

  29. (oops…it included the parenthesis as part of the html… http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4138/4849925223_b6a1ee9237_z.jpg )

  30. When Fletch was a pup he got terribly car sick, I mean seriously how could that much barf come from such a little guy. He would run and hide when he thought we were going in the car. Gravol is what got him over it. After a few times of not getting sick, his fear seemed to go away and a few more times and I phased out the Gravol. Hope West conquers the car sickness soon:)

  31. I pulled, to foster, two dogs that had car-sickness but as time went on the sickness went away. Now I am pretty sure that their lack of socialization led to anxiety and once they acclimated to the car they lost their anxiety. Keep working with West and he may lose the sickness soon.

  32. I echo Ailsa – feed him his raw liver treats in the car with the motor off. In car, treat, click, out of car. Rinse & Repeat. Do it with motor running. Add a ride to the end of the driveway. Make something good happen after every second/minute in the car. But you know all this.

    He is drop dead gorgeous and lucky to have ended up with you. Funny that his (backyard) breeder obeyed the law about the number of dogs but did such a piss poor job of placing him. More likely, they invoked the law to avoid having to deal with the disaster they created. The good side is that he is young and smart and has you and your gang on his side now. Looking forward to reading about his progress and seeing more pictures of him.

  33. Ginger snaps! It sorted Olivers dicky travel tummy out – and believe me it was one serious dicky travel tummy! Not sure how big West is but Oliver is about 18kg and has a full biscuit – when he was little he had a quarter then a half…

  34. I definitely agree with the Ginger Snaps suggestions. A friend of mine whose dog gets horribly carsick managed to prevent her from throwing up by feeding her ginger snaps on a 2 hour car trip. They got the organic Trader Joe’s brand snaps, but I’m sure anything that’s more gingery, less sugary would potentially help.

  35. I second (I think that is how many you’re up to) the Bonine/Bonamine. My husband takes it for his motion sickness and, when my BC developed old dog vestibular syndrome, the vet said it would help her queasiness as well. We get it at Safeway or any drug store. It used to be out on the shelves with the other OTC medicines for upset stomach, but last week the pharmacist said they now keep it behind the counter even though no prescription is necessary (this is in Colorado so I don’t know if Bonine will have moved behind the pharmacist’s counter for you as well…). It is also a raspberry flavored chewable so if that’s an issue, it also helps it go down!

    The collar sensitivity that West has brought back memories for me. When we had our first BC many years ago and she was getting her second collar ever, we got that kind that clips together rather than buckling. When I put the collar on her, I accidentally clipped some of her neck skin into the clip when I put the collar on. :( After that, she would freeze if you touched her anywhere on her neck (after many years, she outgrew that reaction). I can only imagine how much that hurt. Poor girl.

  36. I think you should call him Bourne. :-)

  37. my friend gives his dog benadryl (an anti-histamine, dephenhydramine) on his vet’s recommendation to help with car sickness. the googles confirm this is one of it’s uses: http://www.suite101.com/content/benadryl-diphenhydramine-usage-in-dogs-a200410

  38. I’ve seen some great border collie ears in my day, but those fuzzy muppet ears are among the greatest! What a lucky boy he is to have landed with you.

  39. West is so lucky! We foster dogs for Border Collie Rescue of California and relate to your stories. Keep up the good work!

  40. Love his face! West is a lucky dog!
    I have a BC, Shelby, who tried the Thundershirt for thunderstorms and unfortunately, she was the 1% it did not work on! I misplaced the receipt and could not return it for a refund. I would be happy to mail it on to you to try it on West. She wore it only 2-3 times and we knew it was not working.
    Our other BC, Sally, would get car sick when we crated her. What seemed to work better was when she was out of the crate and could see out – much like when when people get car sick. Could you use a seat belt harness on West?

  41. Glad West has found you, sounds like he had a pretty rough start. And I’m glad Twooie is now part of the family! However evil he may be. I’ve lucked out and never had carsickness. so no helpful hints.

  42. For car sickness: My poodle gets car sick and luckily I can tell before it happens so could take quick actions :) Anyways, what seems to keep his tummy calm for trips is not eating for at least 2-3 hours before a trip AND making sure to periodically roll down the window so he can get some fresh air. I tried many of the drugs and ginger and it never helped. As soon as I started giving him fresh air all car vomit disappeared. It has been at least 3 years since an episode and he has been on some 8 plus hour trips without incident.

    West is a pretty boy.

  43. I’m so happy that Race has found a great home with a play buddy all his own. And, West is just too cute for words. My 30 year old parrot used to get car sick when he was younger whenever I took him in for grooming or vet visits. Since their systems are so sensitive I didn’t want to give him any meds so I would not feed him before the vet trip. When we moved from Texas to Nevada, the long car trip seemed to cure him. Maybe you could drive West to to my home in Nevada and he would be cured and could stay with me. :) ha ha

  44. Food Lady! I can’t believe you don’t know about using ginger! For all manner of stomach ailments (for both human and dog), you can grind up some ginger root (or bury chunks in cheese, bread, or other tasty items) to help with nausea. Also as an option, buy ginger tea bags (or steep it directly yourself with the root), and give West that to drink instead of plain water. Ginger should be available at your local grocery store, or can be bought as a dried spice. It has a pretty decent fridge shelf life too.

  45. Mr. West is a handsome boy. What an endearing face.

    I agree with your theory that he’s not deaf, just too overwhelmed with everything else to bother about the noise.

    I’ve heard baking treats with ginger, or 1/2 a ginger capsule (from health food store etc) about a half hour before a car ride is the best holistic method you can use for car sick pups. Good luck!

  46. Giselle (megan on Fb) says:

    peppermint also, is great for tummy upset.

    you might try aromatherapy at home and in the car – lavender works a treat.

    D.A.P.(Comfort Zone from Farnum) comes in a Glade type plug in diffuser and also spray for bandannas/collar scrunchies for anxiety type trouble.

  47. oh my he is cute!!

    my 2 rescue dachshunds were were victims of neglect – locked in cages and one ignored, the other studded over and over. i got dash after more than a year of rehab in his rescue, but winnie is basically straight out of the cage! it’s been interesting…

  48. Great that you got some help with the future de-balling of Dex :) You are obviously loved.

    Surprised though that your vet will charge so much more for the undescended testicals though. My pup just had a neuter and the vet told me he had some difficulty digging the one out of his belly. Still only charged me $50 extra.

    He is a small dog though, wondering if neuters cost more for bigger dogs (more anesthesia and all that..)

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