Update on the little (lost) puppy!

Update to the update to the update: some dear friends of ours fell in LOVE with June Bug, and she with them, and she’s been adopted to a forever home! We still see her often, and she LOVES her new home.
Update to the update: We’re bringing this little gal back home to live with us TOMORROW. The foster folks took great care of her. They even said she’s their favorite dog there! They felt we’d be a great home for her…and how could we resist that sit-stay? Here’s a pic from the foster:


We’re officially a family of Four…ty-one! (two dogs, two people, two goats, eighteen silver-laced Wyandotte chicks, and seventeen guinea keets.)
So apparently, when you resolve to start homesteading, it’s not all rainbows and milking goats from the get-go.
Stuff happens that gets in the way: ticks. Catfights. Weeks upon weeks of torrential rainstorms, patio lobsters, downed trees and Insane Clown Posse Guinea runaways.

And puppies.
Yes, puppies. If you loiter around the Facebook page, you’d’ve seen a few updates about this.
Long story short (and then long again): a tick-ridden, paraside-stricken, sweet little people-fearing stray puppy came around. I wasn’t sure what to do. And it consumed my life for a good 2 weeks because I was determined to give the story a happy (as in, tick-free) ending.
We’ve been told that people “dump” unwanted dogs in the country all the time. We assume this was the case with this’un. She likely circled closer and closer, becoming more and more brave, when she realized that we 1) had a dog and 2) often fed it outside. Food and a species to which she could relate probably proved too tempting to stay in the periphery.
For awhile there, the lil’ gal was hanging around the perimeter of our yard, waiting for our pooch but avoiding the two-legged creatures. (The yard is the interior of our property. We believe she’d been living in our exterior acreage for some time.)

It got to the point where she was around and wanting to play with our pup every time we let him out. (We’re fencing off a portion of our yard to keep the riff-raff out, but it’s not done yet). She was afraid of us, but wanted to be bosom buddies with our pooch. It was kinda cute. But also kind of unsettling.
Why? Well, if you’ve been around for awhile or you listen to the Balanced Bites Podcast, you know I’m terrified of ticks. I’m even more terrified of ticks on my pooch and on my porch. And when a tick-ridden puppy comes out of nowhere wanting to play Wrestlemania with my family pet every time said pet goes potty, there are two choices:
1a) Alliterate continuously. Pooch. Porch. Puppy.
1b) Complain about there being no animal control in the country and posting on Facebook about how Obama should do something about it (sarcasm) because I can never go outside again and now my dog will have to learn to use the toilet just like Jinxy-cat
2) Accept that not every situation has “someone” out there lined up to deal with it FOR me (aka: $h!t happens) and figure out what to do about it for myself
We chose #2. (And #1a.)
Wherever this little lady was going to end up, she needed to be tick-free and healthy. And since the city, the county, and the universe wasn’t going to come out to my property to get her, we had to make some choices. No matter where she ended up, it was up to us to catch her and get her there. Keeping her in the yard to rub her ticks off on our dog wasn’t an option (and that’s what was happening). Poor baby had hundreds of ticks on her – many of them fully engorged.
So I rigged up a brilliant contraption – a kennel, filled with food, with a rope attached to the door that ran into the house. I hid inside, invisible to her, and pulled the door shut when she went inside for chow.

And then, in trying to move her to a safe spot amidst major rainstorms, we lost her. She bit through a leash with her puppy teeth and ran away. Sigh.
But she came back, and I was able to catch her again a few days later. She was scared and covered in ticks. And really, really cute.

I know how over-burdened the local shelter system is, so I thought that, this time, we’d try to do the legwork. We got her to a vet. She got cleaned up, tested for disease, de-wormed (she had every parasite), and became slightly more trusting of humans thanks to the wonderful folks at our vet’s office who took care of her while we located a foster. They named her June Bug – because she came in June covered in bugs. (Too cute!)
She’s sure cute enough to keep – but I didn’t want her running away a third time if we brought her back to the property and to that old periphery that was so familiar to her. She needs to learn to be a domestic dog and to trust people – and, more importantly, she needs to be potty-trained – and we found a fabulous group of people who were excited to foster her.
Our pooch made her feel more at ease during the journey from vet to foster.


It’s cute – she really trusts our dog and will follow him anywhere.
You can tell little June Bug wants to be and do as other dogs, but just needs a little guidance in the form of the example of other pups. This was clear when we arrived at the foster and watched her interact with our dog and another puppy. Cute video alert:

So it seems she’s in her right place for now. Maybe she’ll end up with us, maybe not – but she’s getting amazing care and the fosters are keeping in touch (and feeding her grain-free puppy chow, yay!)

If this happens again – and it probably will – I certainly can’t promise I’ll go to these lengths to help. We just don’t have the financial resources, so I may have to rely on a shelter to do the cleanup and just hope for the best. I won’t even talk about the plan we have should an aggressive dog appear at our home, because it’s not as happy as this post. There are realities to country living that I never expected, but have to acknowledge.
I’m hoping I built up some good Karma here and the universe will give me a stray dog reprieve.
Country livin’, right? What would you do?

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29 Responses

  1. I’d want to take in every stray that showed up! I have a hard time not feeding all the cats in the neighborhood just because they walk through our yard.
    You did good. Better than most. Sad to say, I’m sure there are a few out there who would have shot first and asked questions later.
    I did find a stray kitten in a mall parking lot. I was able to catch him! I had a hobo type purse that day that was washable so I put him in it and went to the bookstore anyways. I did stop at the coffee shop and was given some cream for him.
    He ended up going home with an employee of the cell phone store. I knew he’d be in a good home when she took off her lacy vest and put it in the box with him.

  2. Hi I’m new to your site. Knowing that you saved ONE stray makes me like you even more. I would have done the same thing. I have 3 stray dogs that I kept. My husband keeps saying you cannot save every stray. I say BUT I can save ONE. Well done. I have only listened to 3 of your podcast but I love what I am hearing. I also bought the 21 day sugar detox. Thanks for caring

  3. That’s such a good story! It’s nice to know there are good people out there still, and you all deserve such rewards for your selfless efforts! I’ve always wanted to help animals too, and I know my day will come as I’m about to move to the country as well. Good luck in finding a permanent home for that beautiful dog. 🙂

  4. That was so good of you. That would have been a huge struggle for me. I want to help every puppy ever, but just taking care of just two dogs is a huge commitment financially. And trying to get that puppy back to health is no small task. But that good deed you did, that positive, lovely energy that put out there for that animal will come back to you someday!
    My husband and I are doing the mini-homesteading. We are just on two acres and are planning our mini farm over the next couple of years (got the chickens, goats are next) and it’s been pretty hilarious to see the adjustment of my husband’s attitude toward animals and country living as you call it. We have ducks and I was bent on butchering them and eating them and he really wanted to keep them as pets. I eventually gave in and said we could keep them because it was so sweet that it mattered to him. Now, he’s talking about getting meat chickens next year so we can butcher our own and have pastured chickens in the freezer. It’s awesome.

  5. What do you use on your pup for tick control? We have a Siberian Husky, and it is so difficult to catch them in his thick fur. We spray our yard, but I always worry about what gets missed. Thank you for your help!

  6. People dump dogs out in the country all the time. Every single dog we’ve had was a stray that ended up on our property. Mostly pitbulls / crosses when they got too big to handle. It’s really terrible 🙁

  7. Awwww- cute story. June Bug is a cutie! I love the picture of Cal looking at her in the crate… cute how she trusts him.. Thanks for sharing- you know I love dogs too much : )

  8. I hope you eventually relax about the ticks. They are a reality and they get on people and pets. Do a tick check every night on you and the pup. As long as they haven’t been attached very long they are unlikely to cause Lyme’s. Ticks are a reality of country (or in my case suburban) living. I’ve pulled 3 ticks off of myself so far this year. I’ve pulled them off the baby, the 4 year old, the dogs and the cats. I was a little freaked out about them when we moved here 5 years ago but it’s a part of living here in Tennessee.

    1. I’m getting better about it. Just trying to be patient with myself AND be proactive about naturally treating the issue, and in the meantime trusting and expecting that I’ll get used to the idea. I no longer cry (haha) that I’m responsible for the sure death of my dog when I see one waiting on our doorframe, legs outstretched to grab on to the dog when he goes outside. I never leave the house without my fanny pack filled with tick tape and tweezers, though! I definitely don’t want to ever spray conventional chemicals to treat for them – we came out here to get AWAY from all that stuff! I think by 5 years down the road I’ll be over it 🙂 Hopefully sooner!

  9. When we lived in the country, we were cat central. This tends to happen to me wherever we go (my hubbie calls me the Patron Saint of Lost Cats), but in this case I think there was a newsletter circulated to all the strays in the area that we were suckers. I would open a door and a cat would run in. One day I left the patio door open while I ran out to do something, when I came back there was a cat laying on our kitchen floor. We had enough of our own, so I would take them to vet, get them checked out and find them homes. Feline leukemia was rampant in that area, so unfortunately, there were some cats that had to be put down. One of my favorite fellas, whom we called Tenacious D, had to be put to sleep because of leukemia.

  10. Absolutely adorable! And yay on the information for treating ticks/fleas naturally… once I get moved and get my new (rescued) dog, I’ll be on that!

  11. This lovely post just made my night. LOVE IT. It’s amazing what a sweet dog face, a heavy dose of legwork, and a reminder that HUMANITY (in both the act of caring for the animal, as well as the following positive human interaction) is a TANGIBLE thing. Delightful post, Liz!

  12. I’m so glad you decided to keep her! I know it sounds totally cheesy but I think animals show up in our lives for a reason. Maybe JuneBug will be a great friend for your dog. I have found that two is the ideal number of dogs because they keep each other company and you still have control. Once you are outnumbered with three like me and my husband than you are in trouble 🙂 http://lettuceandlibraries.weebly.com/

  13. In your Monday e-mail, you asked about dog owner advice. Now I probably shouldn’t give advice because my dogs can sit when there’s food and occasionally come back when called but that’s about it. BUT I have potty trained a Yorkie and anyone who has ever owned a Yorkie knows what a feat that is. I have to say it is all about positive reinforcement, not consequences. I always thought that whole “feel good” stuff for dogs was kind of a hippy dippy thing but we tried for weeks with my Yorkie to stop him from going potty in the house by taking him to the “accident” telling him he’s a bad boy, sometimes with a gentle swat and then taking him downstairs to his outside kennel and keeping him out there for a few minutes. It didn’t work. At all. So instead, I stopped punishing him at all, didn’t even tell him bad boy after he did it. (Mostly because when I call him a bad boy, he wags his tail and wonders why I am not throwing his ball for him) Instead, I started going out with him every time he went potty and then I would just praise the crap out of him. One week later, we had no more accidents. Disclaimer: He was already potty trained, the going to the bathroom in the house started as an acting out thing after we left him for a week to go on our honeymoon, although the acting out continued for about a month. Sorry for such a long comment but Positive. Positive. Positive. 🙂

  14. Hey Liz. I think you are doing a great job! Rescue is tough and it is a special love to help a dog past its troubled times. I volunteer for Texas Airedale Rescue. We’ve had 4 foster dogs and my two fur babies are also Airedale rescues. I, some how, was lucky enough to get them at 8 weeks (Ginger) and 6 months (Sherlock). We used all positive reinforcemet training. I highly recommend it! We have taken all the classes at our local big box pet store and it was Awesome! I also found Dog Training For Dummies to be a help. Not that either of us are dummies. I had only owned cats before I was blessed with my Ginger. The book really breaks everything down, step by step. I hadn’t a clue about clicker when I started on my journey to become a dog mom. I also found Turid Rugass(not sure if that spelling is correct) and her work studying “dog language” to be really helpful with fostering the more broken guys who have visited with us. I still use it with mine to decode their behavior. It’s really interesting to hack you dog.
    Keep you chin up! You are doing a great job. :b One day, before you know it, JB will be a crate trained pro! Hugs and lots of paper towels.

  15. One of my dog’s is Jules, but we call her Juler Bug 🙂 And when we got our second, Busta, I can relate about the feelings… it took a while to feel like he was “mine” the way I felt about Jules. He was a puppy and a PAIN to potty train too. Be patient because it is normal not to be completely trained for months. Use positive reinforcement for sure. Take her out after she eats, sleeps, drinks and to the same spot. Lots of exciting praising for when it happens. Only if you catch her going inside the house, use a stern “NO” and bring directly outside. This takes lots of constant watching but is well worth it. Clean up messes really good to keep the sent out of the house. It will hapen, but be positive, patient and don’t let it get anyone down. She will catch on and in no time be ready to learn more things from her loving family 🙂

  16. Hi Liz,
    You asked for some advice in your newsletter for JB. It’s not natural for dogs to be so desensitized to their own waste; especially in a crate. That takes a lot of untraining! I would suggest looking into some Patricia McConnell resources: http://tinyurl.com/pjnewal At The Other End of the Leash & For the Love of a Dog are both great. She really helped me with my own dogs. Her website: http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/ & she has a blog, so you may be able to get in touch with her. (I don’t know her, I just really respect her work). Good luck! 🙂 Hali
    P.S. I’ve had several dogs & they’re like people with different personalities. Just like you don’t love everyone the same, you don’t have to feel obligated to love every dog. Give yourself a break & don’t should on yourself about bonding with JB like your other dog. The fact that the 2 of them get along is a start.

  17. First off, CONGRATS on your new member of the family! 😀
    There are always challenges bringing in a new dog, especially one with JB’s background. I have to say, I’m a huge fan of Cesar Millan and his techniques, and I would strongly urge you to follow his models. We have Loki, a black Lab/Cattledog mix we adopted from the shelter over a year ago, and although he’s extremely sweet and eager to learn, using Cesar’s techniques are so much less stressful, make more sense, and just work better than anything else…and we’ve tried a LOT of different techniques over the years with our last (RIP) dog, who had a lot of his own issues (dog aggressive, separation anxiety, garbage hound, etc). Even Loki had some issues (housebreaking, food respect, skin sensitivities, digging…ok we’re still working on the digging, but we’ve got MOLES, people!) that we had to work through, and me being a stay at home mom to two small children PLUS basically a furry 4 footed addition was difficult at times, but well worth all the difficulty along the way. We worked through housebreaking first, then all the other stuff, and finally switched him to raw (goodbye skin issues!) – he’s darn near the perfect dog now, and it’s all thanks to patience, consistency, and Cesar’s way.
    Here’s Cesar’s main link: http://www.cesarsway.com/
    and here’s the one directly to his “Dog Training” page: http://www.cesarsway.com/channel/dog-training
    I think you’llbe amazed how quickly she settles into your routine and starts bonding with you, the humans 😉
    Best of luck!

  18. A couple of things that have worked for me with bonding and potty training – the biggest or hardest thing is to make sure you see when the dog makes the mistake so that you can yell ‘no’ and quickly usher the dog outside to use the bathroom (or finish using it) and then reward him. One thing that can be helpful is putting your dog on its leash and attaching it to you belt (or fanny pack) any time that he isn’t in his crate or outside. This means that you’ll have your eye on the pup all the time and starts to get the dog to imprint with you – he starts to see you as leading (since he has to go everywhere you go) and there’s just a bonding that happens when they are literally tied to you.
    The crate piece is a little more challenging. It could be that his crate is too big for him right now, so he can go to the bathroom and still lay down or hang out without laying in his own stuff (so there’s not an inherent consequence to going in his crate). Try blocking off a section of the crate so that he just has room to turn around and lay down. A piece of cardboard cut to the right size should do the trick. Another thing to try would be feeding him and giving him treats in his crate so he starts to associate it more as a den. Also try draping a blanket over the sides and back of the crate so he can’t see (feels more den-like).
    We have gone through this with our own 5 dogs and countless foster dogs so I’m happy to have experience to share with you. Hope it is helpful!

  19. Kayla’s advice is great. Positive reinforcement and consistency are the best ways to build trust with an unsure dog. I have a dog who has some similar behavioral issues because she grew up on the street and wasn’t treated well. I took her in at 4 months of age and the past year we’ve been slowly teaching her to trust people and other dogs. I’ve found Patricia McConnell’s books to be the best resources (I would definitely not recommend Caesar Milan’s strategies with a fearful dog!). Also see this post: http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/treatment-plans-for-behavioral-regressions. And as for bonding with her, it may take a several months for her to learn to trust you and relax – just being patient, sticking to routines and letting my dog open up on her own time worked well for me.

  20. Congratulations on your darling new fur-kid!! I normally don’t give advice but you did ask 🙂 and this is something I am passionate about….
    I really hope you won’t go the Cesar Milan/traditional training route!!! Please look into clicker training/positive reinforcement techniques before you decide. Check out Karen Pryor’s website to start (you can google her) and she has a few books out too. It’s not just about dog training, it’s a method for all animals.
    This is just my opinion!!! But I wouldn’t work with my animals any other way

  21. I just got the email, so I’m responding with my “how am I a pet owner” advice. We have a pup who is now 9 months old, but we got her at 12 weeks. So she was big enough to sort of control her bladder, but definitely had to be potty trained. And totally went in the crate. I had the same confusion as you — because I thought they wouldn’t go in the crate. Somehow though, she just stopped. I also put her dog bed in there after awhile, and she didn’t like to go on that (although she liked to nap on pee pads, so go figure). We would take her outside, say go potty, and then give her a treat if she did. Those treats were key. Also, at some point she started whining in the middle of the night because she wanted attention. We figured that out quick and started ignoring her (even though I was afraid she would go to the bathroom all over the crate). It didn’t take long for her to get the hint that we wouldn’t come if she was just being a whiner. Now she only barks / whines at night if she really needs to go (usually because she ate something weird).
    We put a little bell on a string by the door. Whenever we opened the door we rang the bell, now she rings the bell to let us know that she needs to go out. It only took us a couple of days for her to catch on to that.
    Oh! and I have heard to make sure you really clean where they go to the bathroom inside, otherwise it’s like an invitation to go in that same place again. So we were always wiping her crate down with sanitizer wipes.
    We’re thinking about getting another dog, and I’m not sure I want to go through the training process again! haha Lastly, she will seem to get the hang of going outside in one day. And it will seem like a miracle. Also, she is adorable. Have fun!

  22. I would second/third the advice on anything Patricia McConnell has put out. She is fantastic. You can look on the apdt.com website for a local positive based trainer in your area. I would also second the advice of ignoring most information Cesar Milan has put out – I only mention him because you did. I think you will find that using positive based methods are more rewarding & fun for you and your new dog.
    Good luck – if you have any questions feel free to email me directly – I am a dog trainer though my focus is mainly with performance dogs – Agility specifically.

  23. Three cheers for dog adoption! I agree with the other readers that positive reinforcement rather than punishment or alpha-training is best, especially with adopted dogs with unknown but probably sketchy pasts. An invaluable source for me has been our local SPCA. They have workshops, classes, and trainers to help with every step of the training process; because they are a shelter, the training advice is often geared toward rescued pups.
    You can find all sorts of guides for training but it really comes down to understanding animal behavior. People (and particularly dog owners) tend to anthropomorphize their pets which can lead to inadvertently encouraging bad behavior. I found the book, Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz to be really enlightening and helped me see the world through my dog’s eyes. And ears. And nose.
    Good Luck with little JB!
    My dog blog: http://seacoastpets.wordpress.com/

  24. Hey Liz!
    After reading the E-mail Monday post, I thought I’d give you some encouragement! We adopted our little girl as a pup, and I remember how hard it is to potty train. Looking at her now though, I wish I could go back and do it all over again so badly. Enjoy this time with your new pooch, because you will never get her as a puppy again! If I could do it all over, I wouldn’t get frustrated every time she went in the house (she didn’t know any better) and NOW I know that this phase doesn’t last forever–it’s very short-lived. I would just continue to take her out frequently, and when she goes outside just squeal for joy and make sure that she knows she did a good thing. That seemed to work the absolute best with ours (more than negative-positive reinforcement combo), and after a couple of weeks she really got the hang of it. Good luck with everything!!

  25. Last year we went to the mall to pick up my repaired Mac and came home with an 3mo Australian Shepherd puppy because my husband had one growing up who lived to be 17 years. I have never had any pets, never wanted a dog and almost left home that first year. Now almost 2 years old, this dog now has a Shichon brother, and both have become my best friends. The best advice I can give you is to have patience. When they are babies, they act as such. When they are adolescents they push the boundaries just as humans do. They move in and out of phases which are appropriate for their age range and it’s importnant to raise them with a firm but loving approach. There is a learning curve for them as there is for us. We also found it very beneficial to seek guidance from a professional dog trainer.

  26. I get your email newsletter and so felt I had to write you. We have a rescue dog who just turned 2 (and also a 9 month yellow lab puppy). My rescue boy had apparently had quite a terrible life prior to our adopting him. He was an older puppy (older than we were told), probably getting close to 6 months old. Having raised other dogs (but always from young puppies), I thought I was prepared. Let me just fast forward to say he has made a great deal of progress (and continues to) but still dislikes people in general and children especially. And…change, he doesn’t like change. He is my boy (and always will be) and is actually sweet and gentle, but, trust me, if you came over, you’d never see that side. He is one terrific watchdog. It’s too long to go into here, but he’s the first dog we’d ever had who didn’t come to greet us at the door (and still is not big on that). I have zero doubts that he is devoted to me, but the path was definitely challenging. First off, do not rush into puppy classes (if you choose that) until you have a bond with this puppy. That will take a bit of time. I didn’t know that (again, too long) and they were totally stressful to both of us. He house trained very quickly (even though to my knowledge he had been a totally outdoor dog…either on the lam on in a questionable foster situation)…even with a very senior dog who had almost no control. The hardest thing was that these dogs (or dogs like him) do not act like ‘normal’ puppies who come to you (like our lab) delighted to be there and totally trusting. Food is usually a universal training tool and works wonders…but not with him. He will not eat when stressed. And, he would never ever take food from stranger (which means almost everyone but my little family). Getting the ‘normal’ puppy was actually a great thing for him (as I expect your other dog will be). He definitely prefers animals over humans and even gets along with out cats. He was found with his sister, but, unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to adopt her, too (rules of the rescue…bad ones, I think). I think he grieved for her. And, I try not to think about two dogs with all these issues…. Since the lab has no doubts (or worries or insecurities or has ever suffered any abuse), she sleeps with us (ha) because where else would she…Lol….but now my rescue guy even comes upstairs and sleeps on a dog bed in front of our bed. The first time, I wept because it was just so huge. It’s a wonderful thing, keep that in mind during the tough times, and know that you will see rewards…patience is everything. I can’t imagine life without dogs. We are still learning together as my other dogs were with us almost 12 and over 14 years, respectively…and they were the best dogs ever. These dogs will be, too. Relationships take time and work. Take care now and all the best.

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