The other side of Flipflop

Since the day Flipflop started daycare, he was the teacher, he would teach the shy new dogs the lay of the land, before returning to his own pack in the “school” yard.  He would teach his fosters to trust and play.

As Flipflop matured, so did his engagement and interaction with other dogs. I often say, I broke Flipflop by fostering.  He used to be carefree, he still is in a way, but he only wants to interact with his friends.  He has no interest in meeting dogs, and he is very selective on who he wishes to engage with.

I have learned to watch his queues.  If he doesn’t want to say hi to a dog I let the other owner know, Flipflop needs his space, but their dog is more the welcome to say hello to Dahlia.

Dahlia is the polar opposite of her brother now.  After she learned trust, she eventually learned she was safe, and more importantly, she learned that no human was ever going to harm her again.  Today she is so far removed from the shell of a dog she used to be.  These days, she demands to be pet by anyone who acknowledges her and wants to be friends with all dogs, all sizes, all ages.

To try and cater to both my dogs’ needs, as we approach other dogs, I always make sure Flipflop feels secure, by giving him space to go behind me and I give Dahlia some slack on her lead so she can say hello.  This seems to work well, however; lately something has changed.

I’ve noticed in recent weeks, Flipflop is starting to want to meet dogs, as Dahlia is saying hi, he will slowly go up to them and give a sniff.  If the dog is very hyper, Flipflop tends to run back to his safety with me, but more and more he’s become the social dog he used to be.

I can’t help to think the student, Dahlia, has become the teacher to her baby brother. Three years ago he taught her trust, play and love, and now she is reminding him of the simple joy in life of saying hello to a fellow dog while out for walks.

It warms my heart to see Flipflop making new friends and coming out of his shell again.  He’s got such a playful spirit so I hope through Dahlia’s persistence to say hello and try to play with every dog she meets, Flipflop is learning to engage his friendly side again and he will no longer worry, that every dog he meets will become a foster sibling and he will have to share his mom!

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Meeting “Big Lady”

It was a year, on February 14th, that Flipflop professed his love to Miss Ellie.  He (ok it was me!) planned a fabulous evening with treats, friends and a ring for his best friend and love his life.

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Miss Ellie’s Engagement Photo

A lot has happened in a year, but what hasn’t changed is the undeniable friendship and love these two dogs share. Five months apart did nothing to break their bond and when they saw each other for the first time, it was as if no time has passed, once Flipflop got over his absolute freak out.

As we approached the one year mark of the big engagement, I thought it would be fun (and an excuse to throw a wine tasting) to have an engagement party.  As I made plans for the big night and decided on my menu and wines, something wonderfully unexpected happened.

Janet (Miss Ellie’s mom), was getting a second dog and wasn’t expecting her to come home until February 22nd, due to travel arrangements.  But then we found out Janet was able to get her baby a week earlier, on February 14th.

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Big Lady

With excitement I planned for not only an engagement party but a welcome baby party as well! It’s always so exciting when a new dog joins our pack.

I set up an area for the puppy, if needed, I knew from my years of fostering, certain things would help Flipflop accept his sister in-law.  As soon as Flipflop saw my makeshift dog area, he knew someone was coming.  He likely expected a foster sibling, so was probably happy to see this dog was going home with his Auntie Janet at the end of the night!

Janet also knows Flipflop, and understands he needs space.  He needs to make friends on his own time and he does. So, we carefully planned everything to make the best possible introduction.

When Janet arrived, Big Lady (that’s what we are calling the pup until Janet settles on a name, and we don’t want her to be confused with Little Lady, Dahlia) was in her crate. Janet put the crate down on the floor and took her time to greet Flipflop and Dahlia, as she always does. Flipflop was excited to see his girl, Miss Ellie, and spent a few minutes following her around before he went to the crate.  We let the dogs sniff the crate with the puppy in it for a few minutes.

Flipflop is VERY sensitive and picks up on my energy and reacts instantly, another reason why I wanted to make sure the introduction was planned properly and I had no reason to get anxious and make Flipflop nervous.

After everyone sniffed the crate and was ignoring it, Janet opened the door to let the pup out.  Dahlia, of course, went back over to see her. Flipflop immediately came to me for reassurance and hugs.  This continued for about 15 minutes, and then Flipflop seemed to settle.

Big Lady went into her little pen that I made her.  She didn’t like being away from Janet, and whined.  The whining worried Flipflop, so we decided to let her out of her pen.

When we did, she quietly slept beside Janet, on the couch.  All the dogs were very calm, I was so proud of Flipflop, for allowing the pup into his home so easily.

Throughout the night the pup explored a bit and Flipflop allowed it. He only got upset when the pup started playing with one of his toys and when she went on his blanket.  And even when he was upset, he didn’t go near the new puppy, he’s not ready to interact with her yet.  But he did let out a small growl to let me know, he was upset!

I know in time, Flipflop will share all his toys with his sister in-law. With fosters it would take anywhere from 2 days to 1 week for him to allow full access to his things.  I was really proud of Flipflop for ignoring the pup and allowing her to come near me and not get jealous.

I am also very grateful for Janet’s understanding of dogs and knowing how to introduce Flipflop to others in his home and how to get the best results and behaviour from him.  I am Flipflop’s mom, I will protect him with my life, but I also know he’s got a bit of an attitude and an unpredictable crazy streak at times.  I can admit, he’s not an easy dog, but I will get on anyone else who says any negative about him!

Janet and I plan to keep introducing the puppy to Flipflop as much as possible, knowing that the more he is exposed the quicker he will accept her.  Our first meeting was a good indication that it’s not going to take too long for Big Lady to become a big part of the pack.

As for the rest of the pack, Miss Ellie she could care a less a puppy has entered her home, she is calm and accepting of her baby sister.  Dahlia, true to her kind nature, just loves having another dog in her family to love!  Sixx was interested in the puppy but is so used to dogs coming and going, he gave her very little of his attention and Angel didn’t come out to greet the puppy at all. Angel is too cool of a cat to behave like his feline brother, Sixx!  But he also didn’t hide, so I know he too, will welcome our 6th pack member!

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Flipflop’s Unidentified Injury

“Oh no,” I thought, as I watched Flipflop pick up the scent of something and started following it.

“Flipflop, COME” I called, and when I didn’t even get a brief pause from him, I knew he was not coming back to me, immediately.  As I watched him run up the hill and to the open area, I saw about half a dozen hawks fly by me.  That’s when I knew Flipflop found something dead and the hawks were feeding on it.

When I reached the top, I saw about 8-10 hawks flying around and Flipflop, happy as could be, was running in circles following their flight patterns.  I didn’t say a word, but he must have caught my scent, because within seconds, he came running over to me.

“Hi,” I said to him, as I put his harness on him, “you didn’t use your listening ears so you need to stay on your leash for the rest of our walk!”  I told him.  I tend to talk to him like he’s a child, a bit insane of me I know, but I don’t care, he is my child and I freakin’ ADORE him!!!!  As I looked at him, I saw he was covered in feces, he must have been rolling in it, as it was embedded in his fur.  We continued our walk, as it was a very mild day and Dahlia, who was with us, was in good spirits and was enjoying her walk as well.

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Last week before the Crow run!

When we got home about 45 minutes later, I immediately grabbed a towel and Flipflop’s shampoo and we went down to the garage to use the dog wash in my building.  As I lifted Flipflop into the tub, I stupidly gave him a kiss, getting a whiff of what he was covered in. I immediately wanted to boil my mouth!

I was pleased with how good Flipflop was being in the bath, as he typically doesn’t enjoy them and usually tries to get out or hugs me the whole time, making it next to impossible to get him clean.  But this day, he did amazing, I shampooed him and rinsed him well.  I then lifted the bath door and used his collar to assist him in jumping out of the tub.  I then rewarded him with drying his hair!

I have never seen a dog who loves to get their hair dried like he does.  It’s been years since I’ve used a hair dryer on myself, as I can’t even plug it in without Flipflop running to get his hair done.   So after a bath, that is his reward.

We went back up to our apartment, where I gave him a treat (and Dahlia one too) while I got their breakfast made.  It seemed like a typical normal day, until about an hour later I wondered by my bedroom and saw Flipflop laying on my bed, shaking.

I immediately went to him, and he gave a half tail wag.  I laid beside him and started looking for injuries. He didn’t give any indication he was hurt anywhere.  My mind started racing, did he get into poison somewhere, what did he and crows find?  As I examined him, he rolled over for me to pet his belly, “well, he’s still being a baby, so that’s a good sign” I thought.

I went to my linen closet and grabbed a towel, thinking maybe he was cold form his bath, I covered him in it and we laid side by side for a few more minutes.  I had to get up and check on something I had in the oven. I gave him so kisses and went to the kitchen.

When I came back to the room, he as laying on the towel, no longer shaking and was sleeping.  I let him rest, checking on him periodically.  About two hours later, he came into the living, tail between his legs, but walking with weight on all four paws, he hesitated a bit and slowly got on the couch.  Something was definitely wrong, Flipflop doesn’t do anything slowly!!!

I again checked him over, but there was no signs of anything, no wincing when I checked him out or any tell tale signs he was hurt.  I continued to let him rest.

I looked at the time, it was 2:30 pm, my guests for my Super Bowl party would be arriving within the next half hour, I needed to try and get Flip out to relieve himself. I grabbed the dog leashes and got Dahlia ready to go out. Flipflop sat up and watched, “you want to go out, Flip? Come on, momma will take you for a pee.” I coasted him.  He slowly got off the couch and came to me. I put his harness on, expecting a slow walk and Flipflop needing some assistance.

As soon as we stepped outside, Flipflop was ready to go, he showed no signs of injury and wanted to go for a walk, I took him and Dahlia for a 20 minute walk and observed Flipflop, he seemed fine. I was more puzzled than before.

After a three examinations, there was no tell tale sign of anything being wrong with him, other than the occasional yelp if one of the dogs nudged him, or you squeezed his right armpit.  A slight muscle pull was the conclusion and rest was the prescription.

I rested Flipflop for three days, and much to my surprise he seemed ok to have a reduced exercise schedule and leashed walks, that is of course, until the fourth day when mother nature blessed the valley with snow.

At the mere sight of snow, Flipflop and Dahlia turn into puppies, Dahlia loves to run around and eat as much of it as she can and Flipflop loves to run and roll in it.  I knew if he was given the opportunity to be off leash he would run, climb and jump all over the mountain sides, so I held firm.  Much to his disappointment.  It snowed all day and night that day.  And by Thursday morning there was at least 10 cm of snow on the untraveled paths around us.

Flipflop was doing much better and was no longer showing any signs of discomfort, so against my better judgement, I gave him 10 minutes off leash.  As I expected, he ran and climbed and wrestled (Miss Ellie was with us).  After 10 minutes, none of the dogs wanted to be back on leash, so I gave them a few more minutes to play with each other.  They then seemed calm and ok to continue their walk on leash.

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Playing with Miss Ellie on Thursday.

Fortunately, Flipflop showed no signs of being any worse for the wear after his play.  It’s so hard to keep an active dog resting, I know many pet parents can relate.

The next couple of nights he and Dahlia spent with Miss Ellie at her place, as I had plans after work on Friday and Janet was available to have the dogs sleep over.  Janet is one of the few people on this earth I trust my dogs with, so I knew she would take care of Flipflop and watch him for any signs of discomfort.  There was none.

This morning, one week since the day of Flipflop’s injury, he was allowed to full on run again.  We walked the same path as we did a week ago, except this week it was covered in snow. Flipflop ran up and down the mountain side, rolling and making dog angels in the snow!  Dahlia trotted around eating snow as if she was at an all you can eat buffet.

When we arrived at the field where Flipflop’s trouble began last week, he went looking for whatever it was that intrigued him last week, but the snow was very deep.  He tried digging and I called at him to stop and come to me, I wasn’t going to risk a replay of whatever he got into last week!

As we made our way back home, Flipflop happily played tug, ran and made more doggie snow angels.  I worried how he was going to feel when we got home.  But it appears he is back to his true form, as I am finishing this blog, he is sitting beside me with his head on his shoulder, while Dahlia paws him away so she can get more of my attention.

I may never know what happened to my sweet boy last week that caused so much drama, but I am so glad with rest, love and some snuggling he is back to his crazy Bahamian Potcake self!

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