In which Dexter learns

that which goes around

most assuredly comes around again.

OOOOOWWWWW!!!  As doG is my witness, I shall never hunt down and pounce upon my elders again!

West continues to unravel here at Casa de Food Lady.  He has figured out how to play, even with me.

He’s developing an interest in toys.

And Piper taught him about the Monster that lives Under The Hog Fuel.

Although Dexter doesn’t really care for West grabbing him by the scruff all the time …

I can haz?

They are pretty good friends already.

He continues to vomit mercilessly in my car, so today we bought some Gravol to see if that might help.  He has an uncanny ability to vomit approximately two minutes from our destination, whether the trip takes an hour or 10 minutes – just enough to get my hopes up that he’s outgrowing it.

Aside from not being smart enough to recognize that one does NOT attempt to play with The TWoo

our biggest hurdle is going to be his fear of strangers.  All strangers are very, very scary indeed, and must be growled at.

Wait … I know you, right?

Men strangers are worse than women strangers, but women strangers are not so awesome either.  The past couple of days he came to work with me because I don’t trust him not to pee in my house when left to his own devices for 10 or 11 hours a day, and he spent it behind the reception desk where he hid under the desk every time someone came into the shelter.  Strangers whose hands he licked 20 minutes ago, with encouragement from me, were scary again the next time he saw them.  We definitely have some work ahead of us in this regard.

I, however, have hope that all will be well with West down the road.  I have this confidence, because I also have a TWooie, who continues to make great strides in his repatriation into Normal Dogville.  Last night, for the first time EVER in the history of the TWoo, of his own volition he joined me and Wootie on the bed.  Previous to this, TWoo could not even be convinced to sleep in the same room as the rest of us, and spent his nights on a dog bed in the living room.  He’s obviously not been allowed on furniture in his past lives, as he still won’t get up on the sofa even.  But last night, he took the mighty plunge and got up on the bed, where he stayed the whole night.

It makes me all melty that TWooie is getting comfortable enough to break out his weird little mold in these small ways.  Nevertheless, he still has lots to learn.  I love that he wanted to curl up with his family at bed time, but he’s an unabashed bed hog and I woke up this morning clinging to approximately 1/8th of my queen sized bed, with his paws up my nose and in my eye.  He has not mastered the art of sharing.  He also snores and wheezes like a pig with pneumonia, like 2 inches from my head.

I was grunting you a lullaby!

This morning, when I stepped outside of the house with the dogs, it immediately started to pee rain upon us, even though it had not rained all morning.  It poured more or less mercilessly for the entire hour we were outside.

It stopped raining about 12 seconds before my feet hit the porch on the way back inside, and has been sunny and warm ever since. Of course.  The rain is good mole-hunting weather (or at least, TWooie dug one up on our last sort of rainy morning outing, so he thinks it may have something to do with the weather.  And as an aside, may I just say how sad it is when the dogs catch a mole?  Because moles don’t make any noise, right, so there’s no terrified screeching or anything as it sits there in TWoo’s jaws – it just waves its little legs around helplessly.  Like a very small, hairy, dying mime.  And for the record, I did try to convince TWooie to trade me the mole for a cookie, so I could return it to its earthy home, but TWooie would not give it up until he’d snapped its little neck, upon which he deposited it on my shoe.  I said “no thank you, I’ve changed my mind,” so the WooTWoo shared a breakfast mole).

Anyway, when we got back to the house, The WooTWoo looked like this:

and like this:

And of COURSE they both immediately hopped up on my bed to dry themselves off.

We’re allowed to use your bedding as bath towels??


As I launder my bed things, I’ll just ask for your input though.  So West is obviously a pretty fearful dog, and is often frightened by strange things, but what he is not frightened of is noise.  I would kind of expect a dog with his level of anxiety to be noise sensitive, and yet he is cheerfully oblivious to most sounds.  Cars backfiring or honking, thumping, drumming – not even the big BOOT sound of me kicking the soccer ball startles him at all.

(unlike SOME dogs I know)

Is it gone yet?

I wonder if he hears much?  he definitely hears some things, and is starting to learn his name, I just find him somewhat slow to react to most noises unless they are quite high pitched.  He doesn’t even look at the clicker noise, which has kind of stalled our plans to utilize it in his rehab.   Do you think maybe he is partially deaf?  Or is he just one of those dogs for whom motion is potentially scary, but noises are not?  Maybe he is so focused on scary motion that he doesn’t pay attention to the noises?

Other than this, he really is a cheerful little guy.

Tonight he will meet some of my dog-savvy friends at agility class.  Piper gets her ear stitches out tomorrow, so she is cleared to go back to class tonight.

Even if that ear still looks really goofy.


  1. Wonderful post! I love how you make an effort to really *know* your dogs, even the fosters, and help them become “all that they can be”!! No advice re Race’s “noise non-issue” from me, as we don’t own a dog at this time. For now, I’m living vicariously through yours and various other blogs.

  2. I read about your dilemma of a puking pup and some of the remedies others have offered ….. I have a sheltie/poodle cross who threw up on EVERY car trip regardless of its length. Someone suggested the static strip idea to me and it works like a hot damn ! Possum (the dog) NEVER barfs anymore and he is so much happier in the car.

    Good luck ! Love the blog by the way – your pictures are awesome. :o)

  3. Having had a very, very shy dog myself, all I can tell you is make really good food rain from the sky when anyone is in his vicinity, try to keep one of your people friendly dogs with him around new people, (he’ll hopefully follow their lead and begin to make the connection that people do not equal the devil) and check out this website: LOADS of really good, useable information on shy/fearful dogs. If he came around to you in a day, he should come around to other people pretty well if you play your cards right. It took me 6 weeks to connect with Liam, so West is on the right track.

    Oh, and Liam was scared of just about everything, except for things that usually send dogs through the roof- gunshots, thunder, and other very loud, potentially scary noises. But if something fell off the coffee table and made a light *bang*? Forget it. He was in his crate for the rest of the day.

  4. Maybe West grew up in a very noisy place; sort of like a junkyard dog with machinery and cars all around him and he developed a callous toward noise. Especially if he was left to his own devices; poor buddy. But boy, it amazes me how these dogs are able to turn on a dime and be rehabilitated with love, attention and patience. Take TWoo for example. On the bed AND taking up most of it. Go TWoo! :c) You mole-eater :c(

  5. You wrote “Like a very small, hairy, dying mime.”
    I read… then choked on my banana.

    The dog Elf that I fostered last year was much like you describe West. Sounds didn’t bother him at all, but anything that suddenly moved kept him hiding behind the couch for hours. It will be interesting to find out what the results of the BAER test are.

  6. I had to chime in on the noise issue. I have a dog who hates Every Living Thing Who Looks At Her, but doesn’t give a hoot if firecrackers are going off 5 feet from her (this has actually happened).
    We had her eyes and ears checked out (for agility, but also curious about the noise-sensitive thing), and she’s perfectly fine in those regards. She is incredibly fearful of dogs/people who are looking at her–actively paying attention to her–and has, over the years, learned to associate certain noises with the things she doesn’t like: e.g. collars jingling, people speaking in their high-pitched “heeere puppy puppy, come here puppy, I’m going to keep pressuring you until you have a complete meltdown” voice.
    So I’d say have your new pup’s ears checked out if you really feel you must, but otherwise take his noise insensitivity as a great gift. If his hearing is great, then in a way he’s like a half-blank slate. I’d love to’ve gotten the chance to work with my own dog right at the stage that West is at now…before people began trying to overload her and force her to overcome her fears by flooding her.

  7. If he picks up on high-pitched noises maybe you would have more success with an ultrasonic dog whistle instead of a clicker. You can test his hearing by teaching him a phrase you are not apt to use e.g. ‘Tra La” means raw liver will rain from the sky. Work with him alone in a quiet room after he has learned this cue and then vary loudness and pitch. Then again he may not be used to human noises meaning anything. How does he respond to your pack’s vocalizations when they are out of sight?

  8. Mol-ay, mol-ay, mol-ay!!! Sorry, could not resist.

    Good for The Twoo. And you are no doubt the best thing that’s ever happened to West EVER. Can’t wait to hear how he does over the next few weeks.

  9. I had a rescue border collie who it seemed sometime didn’t hear quite right. It wasn’t until we moved and she went to a new vet that we found out she was missing an ear drum in her left ear. Since she was a rescue, the vet wasn’t sure what happened but said she was nice and healthy–just a little deaf in the left. I sure do love West. I have black and white borders and really want a red one for my next but I can tell you that West could make me change my mind in a heart beat. He already looks more relaxed and puppyish (sp?) in this last batch of photos.

  10. oh Twoo, I love it! Nothing melts my heart more than a sprawled out snoring hog! Lucky FL.

  11. I have a feeling West’s past home was in a loud environment with limited visibility, so he’s used to sounds all around, but never applied them to mean anything. It would also explain why he’s so jumpy and nervous of movement. As standard protocol for shy dogs (and boy do I know some whoppers-including mine!), ask anyone interested in meeting him to SIT or lay down low (no crouching-sitting on their bottom) if they want to introduce themselves to West, and speak in calm, level voices. If West continues to have problems understanding verbal cues, switch his training to hand signals-I use them for my dog, so that if I’m out of hearing distance, she still knows what I want from her.

  12. It’s amazing how you are so patient and determined to transform these dogs. I really admire that.
    West, by the way, is GORGEOUS! I live in Singapore and I would love to have a dog like West (my family is looking for yet another dog).
    I love border collies, especially the skinny, speckled ones with not too much fur. haha.
    Good luck in finding this lovely dog a new, loving home!
    Thumbs up for your excellent work! :D

  13. My last foster, before the current one, puked two minutes from touchdown on every car trip for MONTHS.

    Being able to not do this was a job requirement for the theoretical SAR home where we hoped to place him, so this was a big problem.

    Also, he’d play The Invisible Dog whenever we were loading up the car. He liked new places, hated the car ride.

    The usual short trips gradually getting longer did not work with him.

    So I threw him in the car for *hours* of driving time every day for a week and a half. We had many adventures. And Ralph, High Priest of the Porcelain God, just went away.

    Now Cole goes invisible when I’m loading the car because he’s in it and is mighty adamant about not getting out.

    Also, the theoretical SAR home turned out to be ours, so he’s staying.

    BTW, I’ll take a dog who freezes when you touch his collar over foster #21, who both grovels and snaps defensively in a dishonest and evasive way (gosh puppeh, way to tell me what happened to you and also what worked for you for the past year). And who spoke no dog when she got here, and tends to stutter and Tourette now.

  14. Aw poor Piper looks sort of pathetic with her mauled ear. Glad it’s healing up though.

    Maybe he’s deaf at lower pitches? I thought hearing usually went at the high end first though so what so I know. I’m guessing he’ll make a wicked fast recovery in regards to people. I concur with the “sit your butt down if you want to meet my dog”. My girl was horribly shy. No eye contact is also a given, yes?

    The “puppy puppy” comment put me in mind of a little girl that would *not* leave Zoey alone at one show I had her at. “Oooooohhh Zoooooeyyy! Puppy! Puppy! Puppy!” In the most high pitched annoying singsonging whiney voice. I finally had enough and told her she had to cut it out. I would have liked to add a few choice words but it wouldn’t have gone over well. She was rubbing *my* nerves raw. When she finally went away I was still not done with her since every time we came within 20 feet of her (and I tried not to) she’d do the same thing from a distance. Agh!

  15. I quite regularly see dogs who are socially phobic in all sorts of ways, but not sensitive to the environment and/or sounds. I’m thinking of a particular dog who is both strange dog aggressive and strange human fearful/aggressive — you could blow up a bomb next to him and he’d be unfazed. He’s a mini Aussie, too — a breed prone to sound sensitivity.

    But I would not be surprised if West has a hearing problem and I think that BAER test is a grand idea.

  16. I would like to place an order for West, please. I will take the puking, peeing, and growling… I’ll be driving right up to get him! Wait, he’d hate that… ok I’ll fly! No, that’s probably worse…

    Alright, as soon as I finish this teleportation device, West is totally mine.

  17. I have a deaf border collie. Nobody can ever tell that she is deaf because she is so attentive and will often appear to respond to sounds, even though she is just responding to the accompanying vibrations or movement. Can you wake West up by yelling? Will he respond to his name if you call him from another room? Partial hearing is an option too. My deaf dog is clicker trained. Her markers are a keychain flashlight and a thumbs up. You might try that if he’s not responding to the clicker.

  18. Why does a dog throw in the car?

    Because he’s been poisoned! There’s a disconnect between what the body feels, the movement of the car, and what they eyes see, no movement if you look inside the car. Therefore the body says: “I’ve been poisoned and I must throw up to get rid of the poison”.

    The solution that worked for me and my dog, make him sit-up so he can see through the windows.

    Thanks for the photos

  19. I thought Kate was deaf when I got her. For being a chicken shit, she is the least reactive dog I have ever met. It’s weird, it’s like all her stress is internal and not effected by environment. Even now that she is somewhat close to Normal Dog, still no reactions. The other 3 dogs in the house can be going completely apeshit barking and carrying on over something and she doesn’t even get up, let alone investigate or join in the madness. Just absolutely no interest in what’s going on.

    Her ears work just fine. She will respond to commands at a whisper. She just doesn’t care about noises. Unless it’s a crinkling bag that may contain food.

  20. Now that my man Twooie is sleeping in the bed – please tell me his belly rash is all gone lol.

  21. I will echo in Tania’s advice …

    “Nobody can ever tell that she is deaf because she is so attentive and will often appear to respond to sounds, even though she is just responding to the accompanying vibrations or movement. Can you wake West up by yelling? Will he respond to his name if you call him from another room? Partial hearing is an option too.”

    I am currently fostering a deaf ACD and people never think she really is deaf. She seems to know her name and will respond to hand signals (of course, every dog I train is trained with both auditory and visual stimulation so I always give hand signals with my commands). She is VERY sensitive to vibrations (a closing door will make the air vibrate; walking makes the floor vibrate) and of course, she pays strict attention to the other dogs when they are together or to her handler when there are no dogs around.

    If West really is deaf, then you will of course have the hurdles of a deaf dog which can create some wicked fear driven behaviour (barking, lunging, aggression). Hope everything works out! He sure is a cutie.

  22. I’m a long time reader of your blog and LOVE it. I’ve had Border Collies for almost 20 years now. I’ve had a couple of deaf Border Collies and have been through the “are they deaf or not” thing before. As an aside both my dogs ran in sheepdog trials. These dogs are so intelligent and so keyed into their person’s movement it can be really difficult to figure out. I would HIGHLY reccomend you have West’s hearing tested just to make sure. The BAER test is not 100% but it could save you a lot of second guessing about him.

  23. It might just be that living where he was, West never had a reason to really pay attention to sounds? Like if the other dog(s) he was with wasn’t startled by loud sounds, he would’ve picked up on that; and if sounds never predicted anything particularly GOOD either, maybe he just stopped paying all that much attention to them.

  24. My crazy girl Inara (Aussie) is terribly fearful of people and can be horrendous with *some* dogs…but no noise fazes her in the slightest. She’s reactive to moving things…dogs, people, birds, etc…but the noise of moving things doesn’t bother her…except to alert her to the fact that she now has to get moving to BARK hysterically at that thing. She is above all else, a crazy herding bitch. ;)

  25. I am so impressed with your ability to have 5,6, or 7 dogs off leash in the boonies at any given time and not lose them! You must have very good doggie recall juju.

    West is a dollface. I hope he can learn people are safe and fun!

  26. West is gorgeous and I love how he is fitting in and being ‘reformed’ alongside your pack. I hope you love fostering dogs as much as I imagine you do, you do it so damn well :)

    I would love to do similar. Make a difference and help a great dog find the perfect home. Kudo’s to you Food Lady.

  27. Myimmediate thoughts are also that he’s been around noises before and figured they’re not going to hurt him, whereas people have always meant scary things.

    And if he hasn’t had much positive interaction with people then he would never have learnt that it pays to respond to voices and they other noises people make.

    Will be interesting to see the results of the hearing test though. I have friends with a Bilaterally deaf dalmation. Training him is… challenging. But so rewarding.

Speak Your Mind