Thursday, April 7, 2016

A-Z of #Dog Rescue: FOOD! — #AtoZChallenge

Breaking bread is a ritual of friendship and respect even for us uncouth and clueless humans. Granted, we sit together at a table with cutlery and wine and candles instead of going around throwing pieces of sausage to the people we’d like to be friends with—but at its core the statement of sharing (and providing) food is just as powerful: I mean you no harm. I’m on your side.



Food is a powerful ally for dog rescuers. Well, it can be. If you’ve been following this series, you know enough to suspect even something as friendly as food is nowhere near fail-safe.

 ~ THE BAIT ~ 

Forget dog kibble. Ferals and long-time strays forage for their meals in our trash, and the finest kibble will never match the scent of a discarded half-eaten burger, or even the cleanest-picked chicken bone. 

So use those. (Not the bones. Dogs should never, ever get chicken bones.) Sausage, liverwurst, (cooked) chicken or meat, chicken livers, ham, cheese… Okay, you get the idea.

 ~ THE LURE ~ 

No, don’t use a steak. Think about it. Feral, skinny, very hungry dog gets a huge, juicy steak? First thing s/he’ll do is run off to a safe place to eat it. Safe, by the way, meaning out of sight. Sure, s/he might come back for more eventually, but not until s/he’s slept it off; his/her reduced stomach will need a boa nap to digest this unexpected windfall of protein and fat.

Whatever goody you’ve chosen, cut it up into pieces the size of your fingertip. Yes, it’s a messy job. Include baby wipes in your Dog Rescue Kit

 ~ THE HOW ~ 

This rescue is a great example. The challenge was not just that the dogs were scared, but that there were two of them. He could've leashed one of them right off, but then the other one would've gotten away—and never, ever allowed him to get close again. This man is a rock star.


THE GOAL

Get the dog to approach you—or let you approach them. Food is your negotiation tool.

Careful: this is about trust. Don’t make it a “come closer and you’ll get more” kind of conversation. The dog will sense ulterior motives, so make it easy on everyone and be upfront about what you want. Yes, I want to touch you. Food is not a reward or a distraction; it’s a token of your goodwill. 

REMEMBER YOUR MANNERS

Don’t look them in the eye. Sit on the ground to take away some of that scary human uprightness, and don’t face them head-on; letting them approach you a little from the side makes you less intimidating.

GET THE DOG TO...

Throw a couple of pieces (softly; remember the dog has probably had stones thrown at him/her, and you really don’t want to fall into that category of two-legged monster) close to the dog so s/he can easily sniff and eat them, and recognize them as something good. Throw them progressively closer to you. Read the dog; when s/he hesitates, throw one or two pieces where s/he can easily reach them, then continue shortening the “bread-crumb” path. 

... EAT FROM YOUR HAND

When the dog is close enough, offer him/her a piece from your hand, palm up. Holding it in your fingers is inviting the dog to snatch it; s/he might miscalculate, take a bit of finger along. Which will make you snatch your hand back—and that burst of movement, as well as your burst of adrenaline, will drive the dog right back to where you lured him/her from. (Remember what we said about getting hurt being only important in the measure in which it affects Getting The Dog?) 

Keep your hand below their nose level, and move slow. Not hesitating. Just slow. Breathe. If you want this dog to trust you, you'll need to trust yourself first.

If s/he seems unwilling to take it, set it down on the ground where s/he’ll feel safer. Then offer another piece in your hand. Repeat until s/he takes it from you. After one or two more pieces, you can try touching. When s/he takes the food from your hand, touch his/her chin with your fingers (as Mr. Rock Star did in the video)—which is another reason why you offer food from the palm of your hand and not from your fingertips. 

When the dog allows touch, especially to the top of his/her head, you're ready for the leash.


 ~ THE ROUTINE ~ 

When a dog has proved too skittish for a short-term lure, another option is to create a feeding routine. Over the course of days, weeks, and even months, you’ll establish a feeding ritual—much like the one you have with your dogs at home. The goal is to get the dog to come to the same place at the same time every day (yes, including weekends), get him/her to associate you with food & safety, and get used to your presence. 

You’ll be working up to touch him/her, eventually. For dogs that can’t be rescued, for any reason (lack of fosters, no shelter space, too skittish or scared), a feeding routine is often the only way to care for them. If the routine is working, it might even provide a way of administering medical treatment.


But these feeding routines have a problem, and it's not just that they're so time-consuming. In order for them to work, you need to become the dog’s primary source of food. If the dog is getting fed elsewhere, s/he might or might not show up. Which means you’ll need to find those other sources of food and figure out how to eliminate them. It might be a kind person, who might be willing to help with your rescue (or—dare we hope—adopt the dog?), but it’ll be one heck of a one-sided conversation if your “opponent” is, say, a restaurant trash bin.

Thank you so much for the visit, y'all. Tomorrow we'll be talking about The Gratitude Myth... And, as always, I'll be looking forward to your feedback and insights. In the meantime, you might want to visit the other ladies in D's Company: Damyanti is highlighting an incredible project for children in India; Soumya, whose sarcasm will have you giggling in no time; Andrea, an absolutely wonderful human being who's revolutionizing the role of music in her ESL classroom; Vidya, who most of you know already—and if you don't, you need to correct that immediately—and who's participating in the A2Z this year with not one, not two, not three, but FOUR blogs, ladies 'n gents! Then there's Misha and Samantha, who are both highlighting extraordinary writing projects you don't want to miss.  Hop on over... You'll love what you find :)

30 comments :

  1. These videos are amazing - even with the cheesey music. Thanks for this series. I hope a lot of people and, more importantly, a lot odf dogs will be helped by it.

    Keith Channing A-Zing from http://keithkreates.com

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    1. Haha... I hear you on the music, Keith. I've actually considered ripping them and re-uploading them without the music :D Thanks for your visits and your support, my friend... It means so much.

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  2. Hhhmmm..I shall remember this when I try to befriend dogs :)

    Points To Ponder

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    1. Please come back and tell me how it went when you do, Natasha! I'd love to know :)

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  3. it sure takes a lot of patience to be a dog rescuer and I applaud all of your efforts, Guilie. This is a great series to spread awareness!

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    1. Thank you, Debbie! Indeed, in dog rescue P is definitely for Patience :D

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  4. Patience is the key to all relationships, isn't it?

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    1. No truer words, Roland. Indeed. Indeed it is.

      Thanks for coming by! I'm loving your Freud vs. Twain series :)

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  5. Guilie, these is wonderful advice on how to befriend a stray animal. It's a shame that any creature find itself hungry. I'm glad there are people like you who make life for God's vulnerable critters a little bit better. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful series through the A2Z challenge. Incidentally, I didn't know you had more than one blog. That's amazing!

    ~Curious as a Cathy
    All Things Vintage: Flapper era #AprilA2z

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    1. Aw, Cathy—thank you! I'm so pleased you came over, and that you liked what you found. The other (BoTB) blog is my main one; this one had sort of fallen into disrepair, haha, so I thought I'd give it a boost with the A2Z this year. So glad to see you here!

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  6. This series is so fascinating. When we were faced with feeding a stray many years ago, it took days and days to gain his trust. We eventually managed to rescue and re-home him. He was a beautiful, gentle dog and worth all the effort!

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    1. BRA-VO, Susan! Most people give up on a skittish dog long before he's even close to being ready. Kudos to you! (And you've made me a happy camper today :) )

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  7. Cut dogs. I'm surprised the first one accepted the leash so readily. Didn't seem to fight it at all, just kind of gave up. The other, pregnant one, seemed a bit more skiddish.
    Keep 'em coming. I'm learning a lot.

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    1. Sharp observations, Jeffrey... You're right on both counts. I'm so glad you're finding these posts interesting!

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  8. Another great post Guilie! The video was fantastic, proving the patience is key. Especially when dealing with skittish dogs. The video was a fabulous portrayal of how it's done. Great information and instruction from you as well.
    You're doing an incredible job of educating people. I'm learning a lot!

    PS: Thanks for the Tweet shout-out!! That was such a nice surprise!!! YOU rock!! :)

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Thank you, Michele! Your feedback and support means so much... And I'm so happy you're enjoying this series. To think that someone as experienced with dogs as you can take something away from these posts really makes my day :)

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  9. What a helpful series - thank you!

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    1. My pleasure, Deborah. Thank you for coming by!

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  10. Another great piece. It was fab how quick the rescuers gained the dog's trust in the video, he really is a rock star!
    Debbie

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    1. He really is, Debbie—I'm so glad you see it, too :)

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  11. Such good points, and so many things to consider when you find an animal in need. Thank you!

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    1. I'm so glad you like these posts, Yolanda. Thanks for coming by!

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  12. That guy was a rock star. I was wondering how he was going to corral two dogs with just one of him. The answer: very creatively.

    I remember when you said at the start of this series that it made you sad to see the dogs give up. I get that feeling in each of these videos. That moment when you see that they know they've lost. Granted, in these cases, the loss is a good thing. But the dog doesn't know it. The dog just knows they've lost whatever control they had over his own fate. Very sad. In this video, after they were corralled, they jumped around rather hysterically and then stood very still. It was in that stillness that they accepted it was over.

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    1. Yes. YES, Robin. Exactly. You said it perfectly. That moment comes in every rescue, and it always breaks my heart.

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  13. One has to move so slowly with them and have them slowly trust you...just a little. It take patience, dedication and a healthy amount of hotdogs

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