Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Dog Who Didn't Want To Be Adopted

We are used to getting attached to the puppies we foster. It's inevitable, especially as we often have them for 3 months or morel We tell ourselves we can't keep all the puppies we fall in love with or we'd have dozens of them and we can't keep fostering newborns if we have too many of our own. So we plod along, taking care of the wee beasties, falling in love, and saying goodbye.

Sometimes one of the beasties snuggles their way into our hearts in a special way. Sometimes they are the ones who get attached to us. We tell ourselves, it's the breed; certain breeds will bond quickly and be very loyal to their humans. We know this.

We think we have everything under control, then one little pup jumped on my lap and rested his head on my chest, looking up at me as if to say, "I love you Mommy". He followed me everywhere and, when visitors came, made it clear he wanted nothing to do with them. 

It was charming, but we were concerned, too. We knew we couldn't keep him, so what was going to happen when it came time for him to be adopted?

The first attempt failed. The adoptive family came to meet him and we handed him over. He fought to get away until they finally put him down and he ran straight to Emma's lap. Not completely satisfied, he even barked at them.

It's the breed, we tell ourselves. Don't fall for it. It's just a loyal breed. He'll get attached to his adoptive family, too. But how will he ever be adopted if he won't go to anyone else?
At the big adoption event, we were sure a cute little Min Pin like him would be adopted. Instead, there were so many people and so many dogs, he was overwhelmed. He seemed to melt into us so he wouldn't be seen. When others tried to pick him up, he cried and fought to get away. I fought back tears. What were we doing here? It felt like we were abandoning our baby!  

This was dangerous thinking. What happens if a dog doesn't want to be adopted? Do they stay a foster dog forever? I'd never heard of that happening, not with our group. On the other hand, he did get along so well with all of us and Bennie.... and... and... 

Finally, Emma and I needed to leave. It was a pre-arranged family gathering, but it was the excuse we needed to leave the little pup there at the adoption event. There was one staff member who seemed to understand the pup's needs and we entrusted the wee beastie into his care.

Half an hour after we left, little pup was adopted. So much for loyalty. Without us there, he went to other people just fine. I wasn't too offended. The rescue group (Life is Better Rescue) took a photo of him with his new "Mom". He looks happy. We're sure he'll bond with her very, very quickly. 

It's the breed.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Dog Fireworks

We had seven dogs in our house on the 4th of July. Bennie, our own lovable chiweenie pup; Grover, the last of the last litter of orphaned pups we raised by hand; and Kaylee, the Mama poodle mix with her four 4 week old puppies, more fosters.

What could go wrong?


When I offered to help foster Kaylee and pups (Mal, Wash, Inara, and River), I knew it would be a bit of a challenge to get Kaylee to accept Bennie's presence. She's a good mama dog and doesn't let strange dogs near her pups. She's not aggressive towards people, just other dogs. That said, the first day and night went well. Kaylee and Bennie politely sniffed each other's butts, and kept a careful distance from each other, observing each other furtively.

The next night, which was the 4th of July, we had plenty of fireworks indoors. Bennie started getting curious about the puppies. Kaylee was not pleased and decided to attack Bennie whenever he came close to her offspring. They didn't hurt each other and I mistakenly thought the first incident would solve their argument and Bennie would keep far away from her wee ones. Nope. Outside, Bennie deliberately started a fight with Miss Kaylee. I scolded him and told him                                                        he should be much more welcoming to our guests. He looked at me suspiciously
                                                   and curled his lip at Kaylee.

As soon as we came back inside, Bennie decided to go visit the pups. Kaylee objected rather strongly and attacked. Again, neither were hurt, but it sounded like they were tearing each other apart. This startled my husband and, though he rarely swears, he made up for it that night. It put Grover on alert, meaning he had to join in with nonstop barking. It startled me because, well, any sudden loud noises startle me and this was a combination of dog snarls, swearing, barking, and puppy yips.

We decided quickly that Kaylee and her pups would stay across the street at our neighbor's house. Deb was Kaylee's primary foster mama and we were filling in while Deb was out of town. Kaylee was immediately more relaxed at Deb's house. What had gone wrong?

Bennie and his pups
Mama Kaylee
I hadn't figured in Bennie's status as favorite Uncle. In his short life, he has spent 10 out of his 15 months in the company of tiny puppies; his brothers and all our foster pups. We had included Bennie every step of the way with the wee fosters and he had taken his job as Uncle Bennie very seriously. Kaylee's pups were just more wee ones for him to care for. He just couldn't understand why this ... dog... got in his way. He  thought they were his puppies.

We finally got everyone calmed down that night and I tried to convince Bennie the pups belonged to Kaylee. He wasn't totally convinced, but he agreed to drop the custody fight as long as he got visitation rights.

(ps.. who knows where the names come from?)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Why is the Hen Crowing?

We bought chicks in the spring of 2010. We bought 14 chicks. They were all hens. Though we had a rooster for awhile, Napoleon, the bantam Mille fleur who ruled the roost with an iron claw met his Waterloo years ago.

The six hens who are still with us, 7 years later, are still laying about 6 eggs per week. It's unusual to get any eggs from them at this age, but we never forced them to lay through the winter. Hens have a finite number of eggs and forcing them to lay all year will shorten the number of years they will lay.

A month of so ago, we noticed one of the hens seemed to have gotten bigger. Was this just our imagination? It had always been a large bird. Then one day, we heard a strange noise coming from the back yard. It sounded like... crowing? Okay, it sounded more like an attempt to crow, but definitely not a sound our hens have ever made.

So we kept watch on the big one. Gradually it developed a larger comb and a really large wattle. The wattle is the red bit that hangs right below their beak. The comb and wattle are also bright red. It was strutting, yes, strutting across the yard. No self respecting hen would ever strut. Now it's starting to grow those lovely tail feathers in a darker color with a distinct pattern on them. Not much to see yet, but the potential is there.

Here you can easily see the difference between our hen and our new rooster. I've started using "he" instead of "she".

It's nice to have a rooster in the flock. They will stand guard while the hens eat and they are more alert and watchful for predators. Napoleon had a specific crow for times when he wanted the hens to get in the hen house immediately, with no arguments. We'll see what this rooster will do.

There is an explanation for all this. Nature has provided hens with two gonads, only one of which develops into an ovary. The other remains an ovotestis... in other words, a gonad with the potential to be either an ovary or testis, but won't develop unless the working ovary becomes damaged. The estrogen level will go down when the ovary stops working and then the testosterone level goes up, and the hen starts to look and act like a rooster. It's called Spontaneous Sex Reversal and is explained well in the link I just gave you. 

I wonder if this is more common with older birds? If so, might we see more of our old ones transition to a different gender? I wonder what would happen if all six did this? They've lived together too long to start cock fighting now, so I suppose they'd just roost around in the evening, drinking beer and smoking cigars...

...and practicing their crowing.