Woofs - Daily life at Muttville
RSS Blog feed

Success Story "Peanut"

Success Story "Peanut"

Thank you to mom Hillary Sciarillo for sharing this adorable story about her family’s new love, Peanut, formerly Little Bear:

“On a summer weekend in 2012, my family and I walked into the Whole Foods on Noe Valley’s 24th St., expecting to buy some food for a barbeque; instead, we left with a 17-pound senior dog from Muttville.

We walked over to the Muttville Adoption Event area just to “say hi” to the adorable dogs out front. When my son approached Peanut with a cautious hand out, he was met with sloppy dog kisses and tail wagging. The connection we all felt to this furry, sweet dog was immediate.

We liked that Peanut was energetic, but without the frenetic energy of a puppy. As a dog with some history, so to speak, he was clearly comfortable with and used to people and other dogs, so we felt comfortable that he could make the transition into our family.

Peanut brings a lot of happiness into our household; we enjoy taking him for long walks and hikes around our home and are rewarded daily by his loving companionship. I’m grateful to Sherri Franklin and Muttville.

They are giving families like mine an opportunity to know the joy of bonding with a fabulous senior dog."


If you adopted a Muttville dog, we would love to feature you in an upcoming ‘Success Story’. Please contact success_stories@muttville.org with the Subject line ‘Success Story’

You can help create many more new beginnings!
Adopt. Foster. Volunteer. Donate.
mariem3 | 02.26.13 | 0 comments

Adopted Mutts! February 4 - 17

Adopted Mutts! February 4 - 17

Congrats! These lucky seniors have found their forever homes!

S4S indicates the adoption was part of our Seniors For Seniors Program

Rosa
Dory S4S
Foxy
Jinx
Luscious
Margarite
Herbie
Noodle S4S
Wonton S4S
Dino
Penny Lane
Billy
Arnie
Harley
Papi Black
Peggy
George
Jinx
Benny
Shadi
Birdie
Pippi S4S
Tiny Tot
Edie


To see the profiles of these lucky mutts, visit the Recent Adoptions section of our Mutts page.


Every dog adopted means another life we can save.
There’s a perfect senior waiting for you!
Click here to see all of our mutts.

You can help create many more new beginnings!
Adopt. Foster. Volunteer. Donate.

mariem3 | 02.21.13 | 1 comment

Muttology: "Fear: When nothing else matters"

Muttology: "Fear: When nothing else matters"

Here is the February edition of our monthly blog series, Muttology – advice on understanding your canine from Muttville’s own behavior specialist Maureen Backman:

I have a keen interest in fear and anxiety. Working in the mental health field prior to becoming a dog trainer, I saw and experienced firsthand how paralyzing the symptoms of these conditions can be. Most recently, I have adopted a senior dog from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue who suffers from separation anxiety, so I see how his intense fear of being left alone renders him unable to cope with even the shortest of absences.

When dealing with a dog that is afraid, it’s easy to feel lost as to how to help. After all, we can’t give psychotherapy to our dogs, and the behaviors dogs exhibit when they are afraid can make them behave differently than we are accustomed to seeing. Although medication can assist fear-based behaviors, it is unlikely to fix the problem if not accompanied by behavioral intervention.

A favorite quote of mine regarding fear and dog training is from animal behaviorist Jean Donaldson. In her curriculum for her dog training students, she emphasizes, “When a dog is afraid, nothing else matters.” A powerful and radical statement, to be sure. Often, dog training becomes so focused on obedience and statements that start with “He should do this” or “He should know better,” that a dog’s emotional state gets overlooked.

So what’s the “nothing else” Jean is talking about? Often, dogs who are experiencing fear don’t want food. They could care less about their owner telling them to sit, go down or stay. They may start to display aggressive behaviors that aren’t present at other times. They are unable to cope and paralyzed by one thing: fear.

As James O’Heare, in his tome “Aggressive Behavior in Dogs,” gives an excellent description of this paralysis, writing, “Inhibition, impulse control, and previously learned coping mechanisms may become inaccessible by the dog, setting the stage for fight-or-flight operants such as escape or avoidance behaviors.”

When discussing fear, I like to use a personal comparison to one of my intense fears: flying. When I’m in an airplane experiencing turbulence, do I care about whether I want a beverage from the flight attendant, the number of my connecting gate, or whether someone in the neighboring seat needs me to move so he can use the restroom? Of course not. I could care less, because I’m scared. Flat-out, no-holds-barred scared. Nothing else matters.

Fear can be incredibly frustrating for dog owners and trainers alike. Understanding the concept of “nothing else matters” is also why it is critically important to recognize when a dog is upset, because it affects the approach trainers need to take.

When a dog is afraid, we need to tap into something called counterconditioning (technical speak for changing a dog’s emotional response to a fear-causing stimulus.) O’Heare explains this beautifully, writing, “…if a person has come to fear snakes, but loves strawberry smoothies, counterconditioning might involve presenting the snake, followed immediately by a sip of smoothie, and repeating this process until the presentation of the snake elicits a pleasant reaction instead of a fearful reaction.”

Another technique, systematic desensitization, is often coupled with counterconditioning as a treatment plan for fear-based behavior problems. Originally used for humans with phobias, it involves introducing a dog to the fear-invoking stimulus in gradual increments that he can handle, never putting him over his fear “threshold” in the process.

This can all sound complicated and overwhelming, especially when dealing with the immediate behavior problems associated with fear and anxiety. Rest assured that there are things you can do, right away, that will put your dog on the path to recovery.

If you suspect your dog has a fear-related issue, I recommend hiring a professional positive reinforcement trainer to work with you on using these techniques. In the meantime, the following are ways you can help your dog and prepare for your first training consult.

First, try to identify whether your dog is, in fact, upset. Behaviors that indicate a dog is in distress include: Excessive panting, dilated pupils, yawning, higher than normal frequency of bladder functions, vomiting, shaking, self-mutilation or excessive grooming, compulsive behaviors (like tail chasing or barking), stiffness, and hyperactivity. Note that these behaviors may not occur all at once, and if they do occur, may be fleeting in duration. Other behaviors not listed may also occur.

Setting up a videocamera and reviewing your dog’s behaviors after the fact can be helpful, as well as documenting any behavior patterns you see over time. Also helpful is trying to identify what happens immediately before the fear-based behaviors begin. In training, we call this an antecedent, and it can be critical in determining the source of your dog’s fears.

If your dog is afraid, the second step is compassion. I cannot emphasize this enough. Dogs that are afraid, anxious and in distress need our love and patience. They are experiencing an incredibly strong emotion that has the power to overshadow previous training, common behavior patterns and coping abilities. They need you and your love more than ever.

Finally, get professional support. While there are techniques you can do to help your dog in the interim, consulting a trainer will help you fine-tune your treatment plan for your dog’s specific needs. Living with a fearful dog can also take a toll physically and emotionally, and being able to have a support system in place will increase you and your dog’s chances of success.

Got a topic you’d like Maureen to cover? let us know. Send your ideas to info@muttville.org with the subject line “Muttology”

Maureen is the owner of Mutt About Town in San Francisco and a student of the Academy for Dog Trainers.

mariem3 | 02.06.13 | 1 comment

Success Story "Paris"

Success Story "Paris"

This is one of our Seniors for Seniors Success Stories! Thanks to Jean for sharing her love story with Paris, the little poodle that stole her heart….

My friend, Pat, introduced Muttville to me in Aug. 2012, after my beloved dog Katie was put to sleep. I decided to get another dog. Muttville foster mom’s Danielle and Cooper called me around the first of December 2012. Paris came for her first visit on December 8, 2012.

My first words upon seeing her were “oh, isn’t she cute… may I pick her up?”.

We went up to my apartment and she made herself right at home. She went exploring each room. Pat and I picked her up and cuddled her.

She came a week later. Danielle and Cooper also brought their 2 pomeranians. They all played and finally Paris got tired and got in the new bed I had for her! She felt right at home with me and her new home.

Paris came to live with me on Dec. 18, 2012, Paris is more than anyone could have hoped for in a dog. She is loyal, wants to be with you and cuddle. She likes people, children and other dogs. She likes walking around Stow Lake and our apartment complex.

My special friends, Lavonne, Vicki and Pat came over to see Paris recently. They think, we were made for each other.

I have signed us up for Assisted Therapy Animals with the SFSPCA. We will visit people in hospials, rest homes, etc. I am happy we can do activities together. I will attend the first class next Sunday, Feb. 10, 2012.

I was heartbroken after Katie was gone. Cried a lot. Now I am happy, once again, with Paris in my life. My little canary, Peep, is also happy to have Paris with us.

So, thank you Pat and thanks Muttville and her foster parents, Danielle and Cooper.

If you adopted a Muttville dog, we would love to feature you in an upcoming ‘Success Story’. Please contact success_stories@muttville.org with the Subject line ‘Success Story’

You can help create many more new beginnings!
Adopt. Foster. Volunteer. Donate.
mariem3 | 02.06.13 | 1 comment

Adopted Mutts! January 21 - February 4

Adopted Mutts! January 21 - February 4

Congrats! These lucky seniors have found their forever homes!

S4S indicates the adoption was part of our Seniors For Seniors Program

Dani (S4S)

Mathilda

Ginnie

Clooney

Acorn

Comet

Lucy

Abigail

Meko

Luscious

Frankie

Cub (S4S)

Noodle (S4S)

Herbie

Midas (S4S)

Hoss

Jackie

Ruby

KiKi

Sadie

Boots

Little Cutie


To see the profiles of these lucky mutts, visit the Recent Adoptions section of our Mutts page.


Every dog adopted means another life we can save.
There’s a perfect senior waiting for you!
Click here to see all of our mutts.

You can help create many more new beginnings!
Adopt. Foster. Volunteer. Donate.

mariem3 | 02.04.13 | 1 comment