Hello and welcome to the first installment of Tail Tales, a written recap of the adventures of Bowie and Chase, the beloved doggos of the HWS family. If you don't know me already, I am Wifu. I am the wife unit of HWS' Binge and also the resident doggo and animal enthusiast. During school I attended an Animal Science and Zoo Science Program, though my official degree is in Ecology and Enviromental Biology. I have worked with or owned horses, birds, cats, dogs, fish, sheep, cows, goats, and reptiles. It is easy to admit that school gave me a lot of opportunities to work with and care for a variety of animals, especially animals which folks do not normally consider good "house pets". Who knew that farm animals, such as chickens and cows, could be just as intelligent and docile as a cat or a dog?
Up until recently, and since 2000, I worked primarily with birds. Cockatiels were my first project and I raised and showed them at birds shows on the East Coast. Though a very sweet species, I got exhausted with how uneasy and flighty cockatiels behaved. A rather chance experience led me to meeting and purchasing my first lineolated parakeet in 2011. Going through a similar vein, I raised and handfed quite a few lineolated parakeet babies through the years. Extremely fragile at a mere 50 g, these birds show no fear. They are immensely brave and sweet and love to be a part of the family. Most of our lineolated parakeets talked and enjoyed sitting on our shoulder or our head. They undoubtedly reminded me of playful puppies.
Within the past few months that chapter in my life has closed. Over the past year, I had been breeding less and less birds and whittling down my amount of bird supplies. Though I desperately wanted to believe differently, the pet trade was often a horrible place and being a "breeder" I serviced it. I did my best to find more than adequate homes for the babies I produced but was heartbroken when the future was not as solid as I had imagined. I did my best to make sure that my babies had the proper nutrition and training that would suit them well for the rest of their lives.
Dishonesty and flakiness permeates the pet trade and it is often the case that a new pet will only be kept for a few years and then rehomed. It is often that a pet is not given the best that an owner can offer- it is given what the family wants to afford. It is often that behavioral problems are allowed to fester and get worse. I even discovered and unfortunately handed over several birds to a pet flipper (someone who buys pets and then quickly resells them for a profit) though I did not know it at the time. That experience was probably the final straw and I could not bear to raise pets for others any more. If I was going to have animals in my life, I wanted to have the certainty that they would be well cared for and receive only the best.
Within the last year, I slowly re-homed my remaining lineolated parakeets. Many of them went back to their original breeders (who I trust) and to good long-term pet homes. I still get updates from many families to which I sold birds and it is always relieving to know that these pet birds are loved and thriving!
Chase, an exuberant cattle dog/ lab mix, joined our family in November 2015. He was rescued from a bad situation on Craiglist and after all that I had experienced with the pet trade and Craigslist, I was happy to help. Chase had been passed around since he was 6 weeks of age and we were sadly his 5th home by the age of 12 weeks. He was so scared of being left alone because he didn't know if we were coming back or leaving him somewhere new. His previous owner provided us with a mud soaked bed, asked for a "rehoming fee" of $300, and then handed us his medication for a urinary tract infection (UTI). She showed me how she disciplined him by slapping him and using her thumb to put pressure in the inside of his mouth. We took him to the vet many times to clear his UTI with trial and error and several medications.
On Craigslist, Chase experienced rejection simply because the people who owned him did not respect his breed or his intelligence. He is a working breed and needs lots of exercise and activities to keep him calm. I regularly take him on trail walks, both on and off leash, and we also do daily training sessions at home. As many who know and love cattle dogs say, "A tired heeler is a good heeler."
When Chase was 8 months old, we added Bowie to the family. Bowie was not necessarily planned. Our friend, who we often walk dogs with and have known since Chase was little, announced that she was getting a puppy. She said about the puppy, "It's coming from a kennel in Nebraska. They're going to drive it out here with a transporter. And she's adorable.. it's a new thing.. a charcoal lab." We were happy for her. Chase was still a puppy so we thought it would be a good experience for him to have some play time with another puppy.
A few weeks later, I was trekking through snow covered trails at a local park with Chase. My phone rings, and it's my friend. She says, "I know it's kind of sudden, but this breeder has more puppies that just aren't selling. I want to make sure they go to good homes. Would you be interested in one?" UM "YES" I said, "but my husband would probably kill me". (LOVE YOU BINGE dearest).
And so it all started. As you can tell, we agreed to get the puppy and that is Bowie. We got pictures every Friday from the breeder in NE and when Bowie was 8 weeks old he made the trek to PA with his sister, to join our families.
Unfortunately Bowie came to us with some "problems". Poopy ones. Poopy problems. Some blood, but mostly consistent diarrhea, was our reality for at least a month after we got him. The breeder was top notch, but the transport van he showed up in was shady as all hell. The thing I remember most clearly about holding Bowie for the first time was how terrible he smelled. My eyes were literally burning from it. After a trip to our vet, we learned that Bowie had Giardia and Coccidia- two nasty intestinal parasites. Both Spooky and Bowie had them and had to be put on an intense antibiotic regimen. The vet had to give Bowie IV fluids because he was so dehydrated.
Puppies generally sleep A LOT but Bowie was only active for a few hours every day. He was so tired and very sick. Many nights I would sleep down stairs with him and pet his belly until he would fall asleep. He did not like to be away from us and often the stress of that would keep him awake. We learned that Bowie is very loyal. He would lay down at our feet when we were doing just about anything.. making dinner.. sitting at the computer.. washing dishes. It was not hard to teach him to "come" to us. He hardly wanted to be away.
The intestinal parasites are thankfully behind us now and we have found a diet that Bowie's somewhat sensitive stomach can tolerate.
Bowie is quite the character. He really enjoys giving tongue licks and parading around with his favorite toys while shoving them in our faces. He is very enthusiastic and easy to excite. His tail is always wagging. He was afraid of the river at first, but now he has realized that it is a great place to cool off after a long summer walk. He loves meeting other dogs and especially has an affinity for children.
I take the pups on regular hikes on local trails. Sometimes it's just us and sometimes we hit the trails with other owners and their dogs. We walk between 3-10 miles a day. It is always an adventure. I'll try to share some of our adventures on the trails here.
Also, keep an eye out for some dog training updates. Bowie is signed up for doggo school starting in mid-February and he will be working on some long-overdue puppy obedience around distractions.