Guest Posts

A Day in the Life of Donner the Dog! - Let Him Tell You His Story

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Guest Blog Post by Amy Piccolo - Amy is an amazing volunteer with Lu’s Labs she helps out with a variety of aspects of the rescue from the bio writing and promotions team to the fundraising team. She also has adopted and loved Lu’s Labs who are integral members of her family.

Hi! My name is Donner, and Lu’s Labs (to whom I am eternally grateful for bringing me to this comfy foster home) has asked me to tell you what a typical day looks like for me. That’s a small price to pay for the forever family they’ve promised is looking for me.

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They say it’s hard to describe yourself, but I don’t know about that. My foster mom keeps telling me all sorts of great things about myself. She says I am a WONDERFUL boy! She said she is shocked that I haven’t been snatched up already. That’s ok; I am patient because I know good things come to those who wait. I learned that from my foster mom. She makes me sit and wait for treats, and I have totally mastered the art of patience. I can even watch my foster fur-siblings get their treats first without fussing, because I know my turn is coming. And Foster mom also taught me that I am supposed to take treats softly. Apparently doggie teeth can hurt. I would never, ever want to hurt anyone. I was just so hungry when I arrived! I am good now though; foster mom keeps me well fed. 

Anyways, my day starts when my foster mom wakes up. I used to be an earlier riser, but foster mom quickly taught me to sleep until she is ready to get up. I am rewarded by a nice walk, on which I get my “business” done. Then I get a delicious breakfast. After that FM has to go to work, so I go into my crate. I didn’t really like it at first. I was lonely. But FM moved my crate near a window and closer to my foster siblings and now I am happy as a clam. It’s great to pass the hours away watching the world go by and seeing what my foster sisters get into while FM is away! At lunch time FM comes home, I get a potty break, and I get to hang out while FM has lunch. I am a good boy and do not beg. Then I finish my crate time until dinner. I understand why I have to be in the crate for now. You see, I haven’t lived in a home for all that long. And these awesome homes have all this yummy food that they just leave out on the counters! Bread! How can a guy resist? Maybe I will one day, but not today! When foster mom comes home after work, I am so happy. First, because I really missed her, and second because I get another walk! The joy!

I do love my foster mom so very much. I really, really, really want a person to call my own. My foster mom says I am “velcro”. I am not sure what she means by that, but I get the feeling it has something to do with wanting to be near her all the time. I looooove it when she pets me. Oh, how I love it! No one has ever petted me like that before, so softly. And she gets that itchy spot behind my ear. My foster mom is the sweetest because she lets me sleep in her bed with her. It is so comfortable! I love to snuggle up really close to her. I make sure I don’t move around a lot or make any noises that would disturb her. I don’t want anything to ruin this amazing privilege! I know that when you’ve got good thing going, you don’t do anything to mess it up. However, I am also happy sleeping next to her bed on the floor.

On the weekends we hang around the house or go out and get into fun adventures.  Sometimes I get to meet new people and new dogs! I can’t always be sure in the first minute that each new person I am meeting is a good person.  A former street-dog has to be wary! I have heard that some dogs growl or snarl when they are unsure. Oh, I don’t do that! I might bark to let my FM know there is a stranger in our house or yard, and I like to get some sniffs in to sniff out possible danger. After all, I love my Foster mom and sisters and I want them to be safe! I have no intentions of causing hurt to anyone though. I’ve seen hurt, and I want no parts of it. Sometimes big male dogs make me feel defensive. Trust me, I don’t want any fights! I just need to know they’re ok before I let my guard down. I overheard my FM telling someone at Lu’s Labs that she thinks I’d be ok with laid-back large males with time and patience. I guess she’s right, I probably would be. I’m just not sure I’m ready to play with the exuberant ones yet. Now females are another story, haha! I enjoy a great game of tug with my foster sister and we run all over the house together. I am also great at chasing and bringing back a ball. Ahem, I AM a Labrador RETRIEVER after all! It’s great fun! A couple of decent walks and some playtime make me a happy boy each day. I’m not one of those wild ones that can never seem to get enough, although I have met that type!

As for my manners, FM just said I have to work on jumping up around the little people. I’m not exactly sure what she means? Surely, I’m no bigger than a cat. I feel about 30 pounds to myself. No? Am I bigger? I have no idea! A couple short years ago I was just a pup, and sometimes I still feel like a pup!

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Everyone at Lu’s Labs wonders why no families have asked about me yet. I do not have the answer. I would adopt me! Foster Mom is at her resident dog limit or she would adopt me! After all, remember she called me a “wonderful dog”.  I truly just want to make my humans happy. I will do anything for a reward which foster mom says makes me a breeze to train. My biggest wish in life is to have a family or person that I can call MINE. One that will call me THEIRS. I adore my people and when I am near them, I can feel my entire body wiggling. It can’t be stopped! I am just filled with so much joy to be near them! My happiest moments are when they are looking at me, petting me and calling me their “good boy”.  It’s a simple life I’m after. I’ve been around the block and I know what is out there. I know there are unhappy places. But I’ve put all that behind me and am only looking forward! Forward to my very own forever belly rubs, snuggles, and love. In return I promise to be your Best Boy.

That’s about it, I guess. If you know anyone that you think might love a guy like me forever, can you put in a good word for me? It sure would be awesome to have a forever home by Christmas. In the meantime, I’ll just be hanging here with FM. She’s the best, but I do think it is time to get settled in my forever home.

Love and Licks,
Donner

Bonded Pairs Will Steal Your Heart: A Day in the Life of Bonnie and Clyde

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Guest Blog Post by Amy Piccolo - Amy is an amazing volunteer with Lu’s Labs she helps out with a variety of aspects of the rescue from the bio writing and promotions team to the fundraising team. She also has adopted and loved Lu’s Labs who are integral members of her family.

This notorious duo won’t steal your money but they may steal your heart.

Bonnie and Clyde, a gorgeous pair of bonded yellow labs, have landed softly at Lu’s Labs after their owner had to move into an assisted living situation. These happy and healthy 11-year-olds – doted on and kept up to date on medical – seem much younger than their years. Their only need is to work on a little weight reduction plan as they were likely spoiled rotten by their previous owner.

 A day in the life of Bonnie and Clyde is like spending a day at the beach. Well, maybe it’s not quite THAT relaxing, but Bonnie and Clyde are no muss, no fuss, and very little drama (ahem, Clyde will bark a little if you try to have him sleep in a room separate from yours.  Problem solved: let Clyde sleep in your room)!  While the infamous duo by the same name may have stirred up quite a bit of trouble, this absolutely fabulous canine duo could not get any easier or sweeter to be around. Their foster mom says adding the two of them to her household is much less work than maintaining her 2-year-old resident wild fur-child.

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Bonnie and Clyde’s foster parents describe them as happy, loveable, super-friendly and really, the perfect companions.

A day with Bonnie and Clyde starts with the cutest front-leg bunny hops. They can’t get more than an inch off the ground due to their “holiday weight” (don’t tell them the holidays are just now approaching), but they love to greet you with enthusiasm nonetheless. Bonnie and Clyde LOVE their people. Breakfast consists of a controlled portion of kibble, mixed with some green beans and topped with something enticing. We think Bonnie and Clyde may have acquired their fuller figures by eating lots of table scraps, and you know once a Lab gets the “good stuff”, they don’t want to go back! So, foster mom and dad are trying to slowly wean them into a more balanced diet. Those of us over age 40 know those extra pounds don’t just slip off as easily as they used to.

As foster mom and dad get ready to go to work they enclose the pair of pups in a den with glass French doors so that they can see out and check out what their foster siblings are up to. There is a nice large crate in there, but they are so well behaved that they do not need to be crated. Foster Mom leaves it open and they will go in to nap sometimes of their own accord. They don’t put up any fuss when being left for the day. They give their goodbye licks and send foster mom and dad out into the world.  When foster mom and dad get home nothing has been chewed, clawed at, or otherwise destroyed in any way. Bonnie and Clyde lazed the day away together and now are ready to spend some relaxing quality time with their beloved people.

When it’s time to potty, Bonnie and Clyde go right out the back door with their foster fur-siblings to take care of business. With only had a small handful of accidents in their first week in a new home, these two and their foster family are learning the signs so it shouldn’t be long before everyone is batting a thousand.

Bonnie and Clyde do love to go for short walks. In fact, if they hear the collars and leashes jingling, they come a-runnin’. Don’t worry about them knocking anyone over, because it’s more like a-waddlin’ – you will have plenty of time to get out of the way. Clyde got so excited for his walk one evening, that he quite literally bunny-hopped and barked excitedly during the whole walk. Not a persistent, pestering bark – a delighted excited bark.  How cute is he?!  He doesn’t usually do that though, and foster mom reports that this dynamic duo are very quiet in the house.  Their leash manners could use a little refining, but it’s nothing unmanageable at all.  In fact, that’s the ONLY thing foster Mom could think of that they needed to work on. They have zero other unpleasant behaviors. 

After a gentle after-dinner stroll, Clyde and Bonnie are ready to be your loyal relaxing partners. If you sit and pet their heads, they will not move from your side. They are snuggly and love to curl up at your feet, or in comfy dog bed.

For some people and dogs, the simple life is enough. Good and healthy food; fresh air and a comfortable amount of exercise; a warm living room to nap in; people you love close by for sneaking in licks and belly rubs. This is the case for Bonnie and Clyde. This is enough for them and makes them happy. They love being with each other and Bonnie can be seen “cleaning” Clyde after he comes in from the rain.

You truly don’t find two such well mannered pups every day. They are a rare find and a catch with their impeccable manners, their friendly, love-everyone personalities, and their easy-going natures.

If you are looking for loving gentle companionship with a hint of hilarious, a dash of adorable, and healthy heap of loyalty these beautiful dogs are the ones for you.

Disclaimer: Please know this is a recently rescued dog that is still transitioning into a new home environment. Training, and even personality and energy levels are constantly evolving as the dog starts to feel better emotionally and physically. Your new dog will take days or even weeks to fully settle into his or her true self. What you read in this bio is a snapshot of this dog’s evolving personality. Additionally, the age listed is an estimate provide by the shelter and/or veterinarian. Different vets can provide different age estimates. So always consider the lab you are adopting to be within an age range of a couple years of what is listed.

 

Guest Post: My Experience with Seperation Anxiety

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The following blog post is from a Lu's Lab adopter and Volunteer, our very own Samme Menke Drake. This post may help anyone experiencing separation anxiety with some tips and tricks. This is no substitute for visiting with your vet, a trainer, or a behaviorist to come up with a plan that is specific to your dog. But it is good to know that you are not alone, and that with patience and love you can overcome hurtles and provide a loving home for a rescue dog in need.

"We adopted our dog through Lu’s Labs Rescue in the fall of 2015 and had learned through our adoption coordinator that Henry (then Cooper) had spent at least the last year, and possibly longer, living out his days in a crate on the back porch of his family’s home in Georgia.

We were happy that the family had decided they could no longer care for him so that we could give him a better life. When Henry came to live with us, we were on the 9th floor of a high-rise apartment and while we were providing him plenty of space and exercise, we quickly discovered his separation anxiety.

The first week we had him, we were working from home to ensure that he was bonding with us and learning to trust us. We were crating him overnight and whenever we left. He escaped the crate a few times when we left, so we used extra zip tie closures to completely secure the crate.

The next time we were gone for roughly one hour, he had a complete panic attack. When my husband came in from his doctor appointment, Henry couldn’t even see him he was so crazed – spitting, screaming and slamming his head into the crate until he bled. After that, we stopped crating him and left him out in the open. While he mostly behaved out on his own, he constantly tried to escape the apartment, including learning to open the door. It was also clear that he had been pacing around the door as his “happy tail” wound had opened back up and left blood marks all over our walls around the entrance.

The next time we left him alone, we decided to put him in our bedroom and close the door so that he wouldn’t accidentally let himself out of our apartment. We left him for 45 minutes and when we returned we learned that he had another panic attack and dug the carpet all the way to the subfloor trying to escape.

Finally, we decided to put him in the bathroom with our laptop computer to watch him from our couch to see how he would react in the room alone (note: we didn’t even need to leave the apartment). We gave him a frozen kong treat and shut the door. Within the first 30 seconds, he abandoned his kong. Began to cry and started pacing. He then tried to open the door and began to panic. He peed on the floor and laid down in it. Then paced again. We watched him for 12 minutes as he completely lost it – exhibiting pretty much every symptom of a panic attack except drooling. (Note: the key to most of these symptoms is two-fold. 1. He clearly focused on exit points of the home. It wasn’t general destruction – it was an attempt to escape. 2. He struggled with being in enclosed spaces – even just being in a room by himself.)

Note: If your situation is far less intense, it could be a number of different things. Maybe your dog needs more exercise, more mental stimulation, is generally bored, or isn’t getting enough routine/discipline.

If your situation sounds similar, I highly recommend meeting with an experienced and licensed trainer to determine the method forward. Below is a description of what we went through and honestly, having someone to help us through it was the only way we would have been able to do it.

After this episode, we called a licensed trainer who specialized in this particular issue. After describing all of the above, she said it sounded very much like Separation Anxiety – not just a transitional issue, boredom or lack of exercise – it was much more than that.

Our trainer came to do an in-person evaluation and confirmed that this was indeed a Separation Anxiety issue, but he was also exhibiting some low-level anxiety symptoms in general (which she actually said was a positive thing because he may respond better to medication). We sought the advice of our vet and he was prescribed Fluoxetine (i.e. Prozac).  We were also given other ideas – such as a pheromone collar, Rescue calming drops, thunder shirts – some we tried, and some we didn’t. We didn’t really see any improvement with those.  

The method she recommended was incredibly intense and would definitely be a challenge, but she said if we put in the time and effort that he would end up being an amazing dog.

Devastated, but refusing to give up, we took on the challenge. Essentially, for six months we did not leave our dog alone (combination of daycare, babysitters and working from home made this possible).

We began with some easy training – teaching him the basics including sit, stay, down, etc. Our trainer emphasized that giving him these commands helped him to trust us and would teach him to be less impulsive. It helped him understand that we were in control and that we would take care of any of the “scary” things he might encounter when we are in the elevator, or walking outside.

Then, we taught him to “go to place,” which was essentially his bed that we would move around our apartment and practice sending him to it from various places – then slowly backing away or jumping up and down – the more focused he was and if he stayed in place, we would reward him with a treat. Then we gradually started moving out of his sight line.

Getting him to stay while we left the room was a major victory. Once we mastered that, we introduced a baby gate barrier. And again, started rewarding him for staying on his “place” for various time frames, or if we moved out of sight, etc. We aimed to spend about 30 minutes to an hour a day practicing these things.

Because Henry is very food motivated, we saw progress in him immediately – not with the Separation Anxiety because we still weren’t leaving him alone yet. After a few months, our trainer said it was time to start popping out of the apartment for less than 30 seconds a few times a day. We slowly built that time up from 30 seconds to minutes until we reached 20 minutes.

We invested in Nest cameras so that we could monitor him through the process. If he showed any signs of a panic attack coming on, we could come back in. We would go sit in the lobby and watch on our phones. After he was able to handle 20-30 minutes alone – that’s when we were able to start pushing the envelope further. Finally, we built up to a few hours and continued to see Henry improve. Our lives were back to normal.

Then we moved.

We were really concerned that the move would set him back, so before we moved in, we would take him over to our house to get a feel for it. We knew in the long-run the house (with a yard) would be better for him, but we didn’t want him relapsing. We let him warm up to the idea by leaving him alone for very short periods of time and watching him on our cameras.

We realized that the front door was a source of anxiety, so we stopped letting him near it when we left – basically putting the baby gate at the top of the stairs so he was forced to stay in the main living space with the comfort of his couch and a big window to look out of.

Aside from a few tiny bumps in the road, Henry has fully recovered from his Separation Anxiety. He is still on his medications, which we may consider weening him off eventually, but for now it’s working and he’s happy.

Overall, I definitely think the house environment is much more suited for him. Because he came from such a rural area, I think the constant interactions with people in the apartment building, as well as the construction noises and everything else he was adjusting to, exasperated his issue. He feels much more at home in our house."

As you can see, with love, patience, and time as well as the advice and intervention of experts it is possible to get through seemingly difficult behaviors with your dogs. Remember, whenever you adopt a dog from rescue their behaviors may take a while to come out, and they are not solvable overnight. You are helping save lives when you rescue and adopt. With it comes responsibility.

Guest Post: When Luisa incorporated a love of animals into her life, dogs in shelters gained a new champion.

Original post written by Nina Biggar Del Vecchio on April 26, 2017

When grief over the loss of a beloved pet needs to be channeled and your love of animals runs deep, you get forces of nature like Luisa Paucchi starting a foster based dog rescue in Alexandria, VA. Since taking this on in 2015 Luisa and her devoted team of volunteers have saved at least a couple hundred dogs (some quite sick and needing immediate medical attention) and brought so much joy to the families who were lucky enough to be entrusted with this new family member.

Luisa has been saving homeless animals since she was just a little girl (including a monkey!) but her love for Labradors began in 1999 when she welcomed Petey into her home and heart.

Her first dog transport over-night turned into a week-long emergency foster and she was so hooked she never looked back. After several years of being involved in every aspect of animal rescue…from transporting to fostering, adoption and foster coordinating, joining a rescue to understand the ins and outs, and then to independent rescue, she finally decided to take a huge leap of faith and begin her own animal rescue. Lu’s Labs was born in February 2015 and this endeavor is the culmination of her lifelong dream.  Lu’s Labs likes to focus on dogs in the South that are in high-kill shelters, but we will pull from anywhere we see a need.

Follow Lu’s Labs and the wonderful stories of these dogs – you’ll be surprised at how attached one can get to these dogs via pictures and stories!

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