Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bella Dog Blog #4 - About Bella

Rather than flood people with doggy pics and doggy status updates we gave her a separate facebook account:

Bella Lenahan | Create Your Badge

I'm still going to blog about her though, maybe 5 or 6 posts in all, including some resources and info for people adopting. But they'll all be titled "Bella Dog Blog", so feel free to ignore them if you are a cat person!

What we have learned about Bella:

  • Chews up toys to destruction!
    (but leaves our property alone)
    some "Kong" toys are on order.
  • Likes car journeys - looking out the window or sleeping.
  • She is a bit nervous of cars and moving traffic
    (which might explain her injuries when she was rescued.)
  • She likes other people, children, and other dogs.
  • She sometimes gets hyper and has to be ignored (but watched) until she calms down.
  • Opportunistic food thief.
  • Utterly obsessed with balls of any kind or size!
  • Accepts a bath though she doesn't like it,
    (similarly - tooth brushing.)
  • Toilet trained
  • Will sleep anywhere as long as we are nearby.
  • No separation anxiety that we can see, though still delighted when we come back.
  • Has very tender paws - though hopefully they will recover if we keep them dry.

Yesterday she was generally happy though nervous, today she is a lot more settled in, hasn't stopped wagging her tail and following us about. She is less nervous and seems a lot more settled. I think she is going to be very happy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bella the Dog Blog #2 - Trainer Visit

Today Kieron from Dogs Trust visited the house to make sure everything was OK. We passed the inspection so we must have a suitable home for Bella!

We also got some useful feedback on crates and beds, and sleeping arrangements, not just from Kieron but other responses to the last post. We've decided on a normal dog bed - and have her sleep in the living room - using her old blanket and a bed like the one she has now, plus whatever toy she likes. From what we saw when we walked her I'd say she is house trained.

Still no idea on how she'll take to driving in the car, they don't actually know in the shelter, I think we just have to get her used to the idea gradually.

I called today and she is in good health. Nothing else planned this weekend, so I'll be home full time to help Andrea and Bella get settled in.

We have registered with a vet and bought a dog license (as Dogs Trust require).

I don't really understand the dog license in Ireland. It is mandatory, a uniquely numbered piece of paper, there's no dog tag to attach to the dog and nothing got entered into the computer in the post office (as far as I could see). I didn't need to have the dog with me, or prove I had the dog, or even prove my name or address. From the point of view of protecting dogs, finding lost dogs, protecting dog owners or the general public the license is totally worthless. Given that it probably costs more to issue (and enforce) than the €12.50 they ask for, I have to wonder if it is just a punitive annual tax on dogs, and if so, why? I think the tax on a non-neutered dog should be €1000 per anum, and the money raised used to provide free neutering for other dogs. I'll admit it, I don't really agree with the concept of dog breeding (a subject for another post), but a barrier of entry would at least deter opportunists and amateurs and help prevent what happened to Bella - she was abandoned last November while pregnant.

Anyway, our plans are flexible, and we'll have to learn and adapt as we go. I am not so worried about it now. The worst that can happen is some stuff gets damaged, but eventually we'll train Bella and she will train us, and we'll all be happy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Getting a dog - Bella the border collie

Some of the things new, about-to-be, dog owners worry about:

We have some ideas where we would like her to sleep, but how do you tell a dog to sleep in a specific spot? She might ignore her bed altogether! Our idea is to ask for the blanket she sleeps on now in the shelter, it'll have her scent and we can change it after a few days when she settles in.

Should we get a crate and close her in it, at least at first until she gets used to the house? It seems to make sense for puppies, but none of the advice on crate training talks about a two year old dog. She appears to be house trained already so is it really necessary? We're more worried about barking and Bella being stressed than we are about some little accidents. Crates seem cruel - even though they aren't - but it does mean we won't like doing it and so it'll be harder for us to stick to it. Maybe a nervous dog might like an enclosed space?

How do we teach her to spend time alone? Or to not worry about whether we'll come back. Not only at night, when we'll be sleeping in another room, but if we have to go out without her? It won't happen more than a couple of hours a week, but getting a dog sitter or being trapped in the house isn't going to work either.

Will she be Ok in the car? We have so many places we want to bring her! Including to our friends and relatives who have dogs. Also the beach, the off leash parks, my parents' caravan park and rivers and parks in Ballina. If she can't handle cars how will we even get her home from the shelter? If she's scared apparently we should yawn and relax and pretend nothing is wrong, so they say in the books (the best way to deal with inappropriate fear is to ignore it.) In practice it will be very hard to overcome the human urge to comfort her, which will only make things worse.

Do we really need to "dog proof" the house, and is that even possible? Would it be better to leave things as they are and accept some damage is inevitable and deal with it if and when it happens? Personally I don't care about "stuff", but I am concerned about Bella getting an electrical shock or swallowing something!

We have a chance on Thursday to ask these questions when Dogs Trust do our house inspection, or on Saturday when we pick her up. There's going to be an element of learning no matter how many books we read or advice we get. I guess we'll figure it out as we go along and we shouldn't worry.