Saturday, July 25, 2009

A note from Robin

Mango came out of Gabbs, described by one of the ranch hands as "mean and dog aggressive".

Mango at Gabbs

Mango The coat of many colors

His coat was bleached and matted and he had a sad face. There was something in his dull eyes that made me think really hard about taking him. So I brought him out of the pen on a leash and allowed my big yellow lab Teddy do an off leash temperament test on him, he passed that and deferred to Ted and so I also let Lucy my Border Collie cross matriarch out off leash. He gave to her as well, so I lifted him up into the back of the truck (I have a crate big enough for eight or nine dogs) and we drove back via Lake Alpine and camped overnight. He was doing great! I have a soft spot for Labs and somehow we connected.

Part of my rehabilitation protocol at my home is something called large field socialization and I work in an eighty acre field with a pack of between seven and fourteen dogs. The large area allows the dogs to relax and just run and play. If they feel intimidated or extra brave the large area allows them to select the dogs they want to meet and greet first and also allows them to give the more exuberant dogs a wide berth until they feel more confident. They use the space to manage the intensity of the energy in the group, spread out or move together, walk quietly sniffing the ground or play catch me if you can! We walk together around as a pack and I provide leadership for the group. Often times the dogs select from the group a playmate of matching energy and within two or three sessions even the shy dogs are getting involved with at least one other dog. Often they will pair up. Also there is the old two is company three is a crowd and one tries to join an existing pair, this often does not work, because the dynamic is different but it actually helps the dog gain calmness when they are ignored by the pair of best friends. When I let Mango off leash for the first time he took off and ran and ran away from the group for about 800 yards then stopped and turned and stood and watched. Waiting to see what I would do, expecting me to pay attention to him and follow him. I turned and walked in the opposite direction. he stood there for what seemed an eternity, then sniffed the ground, then looked up decided that he wanted to be with us and ran back to the group at full speed. Thankfully!

Mango in the fields

Early on, in spite of being a bulky dufus, Mango was pretty timid for a Lab and easily surprised, his first visit to the Orvis store was a typical Mango moment, being a Lab he was bouncy and pulling on the leash curious and sniffing until he sniffed a fishing net a little too hard and it crashed to the ground bringing several other display items down with it. He had a little panic attack but calmed down within a minute or two. He was a lot more careful with his body when we went in there again! Over a period of a few weeks he was socialized every day and gradually acquired his wonderful Labrador temperament, obedience training went well, leash training was a big step forward because he is a big boy and could pull like a steam train at first. He would drop his shoulder and pull towards whatever was interesting his nose at the time dragging whoever was on the other end of the leash along like a dragging anchor!

Any way Mango never showed any behavioral problems and once he had reduced his anxiety, built up his trust and acquired a solid foundation of obedience training he turned into a perfect dog. I came to the conclusion after a lot of testing that he did not have a mean bone in his body!

Off leash he started to respond well and I do try to work the dogs off leash as much as possible, easier with some dogs than others! My opinion is if your dog will not come with you off leash, you don't have a dog!

I invest a lot of myself into building the relationship with the dogs I rescue and the hard part is acknowledging when they are ready to take the next step and find a permanent home. While I am working with the dogs in public I often drop a hint that they might be ready soon so that I build up a list of potential families. Word of mouth is very valuable too, often people say that they know someone who might be interested. I interviewed a couple of potential families and then one of my contacts whose opinion I value contacted me saying they had a friend who was looking for a family dog. They lived in OC, quite a way from the Bay area but after a chat on the phone we decided that Mango would be a good fit. They had two boys who were in their early teens and he was still kind of bouncy, might have been a handful for younger kids, not mean or anything but they might have been knocked over!

Mango after his rehab and a few days before he went on to his forever home, a little wistful, I hope counting his blessings!

Mango on the road trip going down to OC

A little over a year has gone by and I had an email from the family today :

Mango is the most wonderful dog anyone could ever have. He is as much one of the family as we are. He goes everywhere we do. Camping , desert and Tahoe and Sierras. We could not have a better dog. Still the kisser and hugger. Attracts everyone. Loves doggie Park.

Best wishes,

Aaah! Love Happy Endings!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A note from Robin

I saw a question about whether anyone had success with massage as a therapy for any Gabbs Dogs.

In my experience it can be a great benefit, I use it routinely in the rehabilitation of many of my rescues. Here is a photo of Dinky looking relaxed. She has had a leash walk of about an hour and then a 45 minutes massage. Please also bear in mind that she is in a shelter pen, with
barking dogs all around her and I am standing over her holding the camera!

Also the short video clip a few notes down on this blog, taken at a different time, of Dinky receiving the collar and leash was also after about 35 minutes of massage. I have the video of the whole session but it is pretty boring to watch, if anyone desperately wants to see it I can burn it to DVD or probably upload segments onto the internet, just let me know!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wags for Wine

Fundraiser for Dog Town Canine Rescue:

Dog Town as helped many of the Gabbs Dogs, including Buffy, Katie, Dinky, Chester, Harold, Oscar and more. Let's help them continue to help us and all the others dogs needing help too.

Get Ready to Party for Dogs!
It's time again for our "big" event, Wags for Wine! Yes, we're puttin' on the ritz again this year at D'Vine Wine right here in Carson City. Join us for a doggone fun-filled evening of food, drink, silent auction, and live music all to raise money for Dog Town's new shelter facility! Last year we blew the doors off D'Vine with one of the largest crowds they had ever seen. To purchase tickets in advance, please call Mary at: (775) 267-2059 or you can buy them online via PayPal at their website.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Videos from Robin Wenham

Here are a few videos from Robin. He has done such a wonderful job in his work with the Gabbs Dogs. Thanks Robin!!

Robin working with Dinky Pt 1

Robin working with Dinky Pt 2

Robin working with Harold

You can check out more of Robin's work at his rescue center Cirrus Ranch.

Friday, July 10, 2009

KATIE has Gone Camping

Katie is a real civilized dog these days. Here's a picture of her with her brother, Archie out camping over the Fourth of July weekend.

Kudos to Katie!!