Volume 6, Issue 1 Spring, 2014

Volume 6, Issue 1 ● Spring, 2014 Rescue Me By Caryn Pola, ESRA President I don’t do well at the holidays. Most of the holiday season finds me wishi...
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Volume 6, Issue 1 ● Spring, 2014

Rescue Me

By Caryn Pola, ESRA President

I don’t do well at the holidays. Most of the holiday season finds me wishing it was over. With too much stress and activity, combined with family, it’s often too much for me. It’s just not my time of year. This year I found myself exceptionally blue when I was called about a mom Springer and eight puppies at the North Central Los Angeles Animal shelter. My husband, who is a saint of a man, quickly said “No way! We have 10 dogs here already, and 12 more would make 22!” Being that it was the day before Thanksgiving, I knew the puppies would be euthanized before the long holiday weekend — and it was more than I could handle. So Marge Miller and I loaded up the crate and went to the shelter. Mom and eight puppies born in the shelter were waiting for us , but unbeknown to us the mommy dog had accepted three pit-bull pups orphaned by their mom’s mauling death. So we loaded up mom and 11 puppies and went to my vet where Cathy Peters met us, and we presented our brood for a health check. Then we headed home. Over the next several months I tended to my charges and had a ton of work to do for them. I also continued to work full time. Up early in the morning to feed and clean up, and then again in the evening and before bed. Hugging and playing with all the pups was fun! The holidays flew by and I was not BLUE or depressed. I was so busy I had NO TIME to be sad or over-eat! The puppies rescued me! I spent the next several months placing the pit-bull pups into pitbull rescue where they were all adopted. Then ESRA placed all the remaining pups with wonderful homes, and Momma Annie went to the best home ever! It was the best holiday season in memory! Now, I know everyone cannot foster, but I do know that everyone can become involved and help! Phone calls, mailing, fundraising. Getting out and walking foster dogs, helping at a ESRA fundraiser. Going to a rescue day and talking about Springers, writing an article for the newsletter. Get out and do rescue, it might just rescue you.

The Springer Side of Life

By Shelley Dearmin

It is but a few weeks short of a year since our Toby lost his battle with cancer. We had tried everything we could but only managed to give him a few good months before he and I both knew that it was time. As the months passed, I journeyed through the grief cycle that’s so highly publicized these days: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I met so many people along the way who understood, so many that were walking the same path. We would talk as we limped along about not being able to accept our loss; the anger that left us screaming in the car, crying in the shower, blaming ourselves for not being able to keep our friend alive, talking of the treatments we had tried, or not, worrying that we had released our fur baby too soon or too late, and feeling our loss a hundred different ways as the elephant of depression sat heavy on our chests. I didn’t think that I would ever reach any amount of acceptance, but in January I became part of a miracle of healing. No instant epiphanies, no grief/loss group brought me through -- but rather a dog helped me find peace. Not a new adoptee or breeder pup of my own, but a sick, many thought dying, Springer fighting for life in a west Texas shelter. A lone rescue worker, LoriLynn Clayton, would not give up. The rest is well documented on ESRA’s Special Needs webpage, www.springerrescue.org/sponser/specialneeds/ clayton.html. The moment I saw him on ESRA’s Facebook posting, I cared. Looking at ESRA News Editorial Staff Clayton, who so resembled my Toby, holding his paw out to a caregiver as weak as he was, gave Publisher Shelley Dearmin me focus and purpose. [email protected] We would NOT lose another one. Not now. Editor and Layout Not again. Not without Linnea Maxwell giving this dog the [email protected] chance I had not been able to give my own. Contributors And so it began. While Barbara King I donated, fundraised, Nancy M. Kelly donated some more and Caryn Pola shared my feelings on Terry Sprague the Facebook page his Pam Waidler foster mom, Kim, started with the others who cared, a healing began. Praying together, supporting the ESRA people in Texas who were fighting on the front line for this dog, tracking his ups and downs, celebrating success and bolstering ESRA News is always looking for each other when Clayton took a downturn, my healing continued. Over the last Springer-oriented articles for future months, we have become 1,549 people supporting the spiritual and monetary issues. To submit an article, please needs of an ESRA dog in need – the Clayton Nation.


As I walked by a picture of my Toby the other day, I was actually smiling. Like the love blanket so carefully crafted by Carol Sanderson as one of our fundraisers, the hole in my heart seems to have a patch on it now -- a Clayton patch. Our rescue does not just heal Springers, we heal people as well.

contact Shelley or Linnea at the email addresses listed above.

How to Avoid Resource Guarding Resource Guarding is a perfectly natural behavior for dogs because it serves a valuable purpose among feral dogs. In the wild, dogs living on their own need to find and protect their food, sleeping areas, puppies, and themselves from harm. The dogs we live with have no need to guard their resources, but they don’t always know that. When Resource Guarding goes awry or is taken to a higher level, a dog can become dangerous. We see this so often with our rescues: sometimes they were raised in a sub-standard situation, did not learn the foundation behaviors necessary for a dog to live productively in a home with humans, and sometimes even lived in a group of dogs with little human supervision and fewer resources than necessary. As a result, they developed Resource Guarding behaviors that they bring with them into rescue. Resource Guarding is the most common basis for aggressive behavior I see in English Springer Rescue America dogs. In their view, they’re just trying to hold onto things they like; but they bite people in order to do so, and that can lead to a very bad ending to what could have been a really nice rescue story. It’s best to start every dog off by working to prevent Resource Guarding behaviors before you even see them occur. I like to begin teaching every dog I meet that I am no threat to them, I will always offer them something in trade for anything they have, and that I will never be so rude as to try to snatch something away from them. When we’ve just met a dog, we don’t know him any better than he knows us. We don’t know if he’s ever met a person like ourselves: deep-voiced, hatwearing, high-energy or slow and lumbering, having good or poor dog interaction skills, experienced in observing dog behavior or amateur, tall or short, fat or thin, dark-skinned or light. We don’t even know if he’s met very many people before. We certainly don’t know how anyone he’s met before behaved toward him, or what habits he’s developed in interacting with humans. It’s best to be polite as we get to know him, just as we would toward a human we’ve just met. To a dog, that means allowing him to approach us rather than approaching him first, dropping a slip lead over

By Nancy E. Kelly

his head rather than grabbing for his collar, and asking him if he’d like to trade what he has in his mouth for a super-yummy treat. When a dog has something in his mouth, a chewie, a bone, a toy, a stick, a dead bird, or whatever else he deems valuable enough to hold onto, we must offer something even more valuable to him if we want him to choose to drop that item. Sometimes that may mean simply a piece of kibble, especially if it’s offered in the right way. (See Side Bar on Page 6 about adding value to treats.) Some situations call for an especially goodtasting dog treat. In the case of a dead bird with some dogs, you may need a bite of steak; a dead bird can be quite a treasure to a canine! To offer a trade to a dog, simply hold a small piece of food that he likes just in front of his nose while he’s holding the item you’d like him to drop. Chances are that he’ll smell the treat and open his mouth to eat it, and guess what? Whatever he had in his mouth will fall out onto the floor! This is the point at which you should be careful to try to hold onto the treat as he nibbles it, or to have a few treats in your hand and roll them into your fingers one at a time, feeding him the whole time you reach for and pick up the dropped item. The goal is to keep the dog relaxed and comfortable the entire time, never feeling threatened or thinking that he needs to defend himself or his precious treasure from you. With a new dog, watch him closely as you feed him and reach for the dropped item; this is a time when he might surprise you by snapping as you grab the item. We’re distracting him, but we’re also keeping him happily eating rather than worried about what he might be losing; thus, we’re setting him up for the next time he has something in his mouth that we want. We want to practice this behavior many times with a new dog, in order to help him develop a habit of happily releasing anything we ask for. Start out slowly. Do it once or twice that first day, giving the new dog a chance to enjoy a bone or chewie for a while, safely in his crate. Practice this exercise each day. You can increase the number of times you do it each day, and Continued on Page 4


Resource Guarding — Continued from Page 3 the number of times you do it during each practice session, as time goes on. You will begin to see your dog release items more readily, you’ll see him begin bringing his treasures closer to you, and ultimately he’ll begin bringing things to you, perhaps dropping them at your feet, looking to you for a treat. As this behavior develops, you can begin adding a cue like “Drop it” or “Give” or one I like, “Thank you,” saying the words just as the dog is dropping the item. Begin holding your hand under his mouth to catch the item and later, ask him to get the item a second time if it drops on the floor instead of in your hand. Once he’s reliably dropping things in your hand, begin moving your hand upward a bit at a time and you’ll have him delivering things to your hand up in your lap in no time! Be sure to give him his treat every time; just ask the tiniest bit more of him each time. This is just how you train a solid retrieve for a service dog, hunting dog, or competition dog; and it’s just that easy. But the most important thing is that he’s learning how great it is to give you things he has. One of my favorite things to do with the “Trading Protocol” is to catch a moment when my dog has a toy, ask him to give it to me, give him a treat, and pretend to examine the item to see if it’s good enough for him to play with. I’ll even say things about it like, “Only the best for Angus! Let me check it out – is this a good toy?” as I look it over. Then I give it back, saying, “I think it’s good enough. Here you go!” It’s light-hearted and fun, it teaches a good lesson, and my dog gets a double reinforcement – a treat plus he gets his toy back! This is great preparation for those moments when you need to get something from your dog and you really can’t give it back – those dead bird moments – because when he gives you something, you might just give it back. Probably not a dead bird, though, but he doesn’t know that. The most important reason to trade dogs treats for other items is to prevent them from developing that behavior we’ve seen in rescue all too often: taking an item, lying down with it and threatening anyone who comes near, whether or not they’re planning to take the item away. Always respect a dog’s threat, because he’s not kidding. A growl means, “I feel threatened. I don’t really want to bite you, but I will if I need to. Please change this situation.” A growl is your cue to take the pressure


off, defuse the situation. Take the dog, yourself, someone else, or another dog out of that picture so that the threatened dog feels better. It’s also something to take note of: put the “Trading Protocol” into action with this dog. But give him a chance to cool down before doing so. You want to start with the dog relaxed and comfortable, secure and not feeling threatened. Keep him in that frame of mind throughout your training session. We want him to learn to enjoy that relaxed feeling that comes over him while eating those yummy treats and learning not to feel threatened. Remember that some of the dogs we rescue already have a strong habit of feeling threatened in these situations, and don’t feel inadequate if you can’t change that right away. Revel in the joy of seeing dogs improve quickly when they do and know for sure that even when you don’t see immediate improvement, the dog is learning and the behavior is improving, even if at a level you can barely see. Just do your part to prevent Resource Guarding behavior from getting worse. Practice this with puppies when you’re lucky enough to get them, in order to prevent Resource Guarding from ever developing. There are certainly other things that dogs consider resources worth guarding, like couches, beds, rooms, doorways, dog beds, food or water bowls, their own bodies/personal space, and even people. I think teaching dogs the “Trading Protocol” helps in these areas too, because it begins teaching them that there’s abundance in their lives; there’s plenty of stuff for them, plenty of food, and plenty of room, so there’s no need to guard anything. The lesson is, “I know you like that thing you have, and I might let you keep it sometimes. But if I can’t let you keep that item, I’ll make sure you get something just as good or better.”

Nancy M. Kelly has been using science-based methods to train dogs for over 20 years. She trains people to train their dogs, and sometimes directly trains dogs to do work like assist people with disabilities. She likes to train and compete with her own English Springer Spaniel and Golden Retriever in various dog sports. They reside in Pasadena, Texas and Nancy loves to help ESRA foster homes and adopters with behavior issues. For more info, go to Nancy’s website: www.TheMannerlyDog.com.

From Coast To Coast, March Brought ESRA Members out to Party! ESRA Carolinas “Spring Springer Fling” Saturday, March 15, 2014 Burleigh Farm in Semora, NC By Barbara King The weather was great and I just shake my head knowing that the next two days we had cold rain, followed by a half inch of ice coating everything in sight. There is no explanation for our having such a lovely day, except that lots of us had ordered it and were hoping for it! Springer lovers must have a good relationship with Mother Nature! Special thanks go to all those who donated great prizes for our raffle and to our former Carolinas' Coordinator Kathy Patterson for taking the reins for our raffle -- we hadn't anticipated having a crowd so far afield so we hadn't considered the possible need for a megaphone! I also want to thank my “right hand man” Linda Parker (she and Melissa Gorman manage all the adoption and foster applications that come in to the Carolinas for ESRA) for creating the precious “collar scarves” for our dogs in attendance! And to Kate Kiel for her help in welcoming everyone and making sure name tags were assigned and picnic fees and raffle ticket sales were documented! The news that I am most proud to share is that ESRA’s national treasury will be adding a grand sum of $1,086 as a direct outcome of our event! The cost of the picnic itself was covered by our per person entry fee -- the $1,086 comes from raffle ticket sales and donations. Springer lovers seem to come with very generous spirits!

Southern California ESRA Luncheon and Auction Saturday, March 9, 2014 Moreno’s Mexican Restaurant in Orange, CA By Terry Sprague and Shelley Dearmin ESRA members in southern California took a few hours away from the “dogs” to enjoy a lovely buffet luncheon, auction, raffle and each other on the first Saturday in March. With temperatures in the high 80’s, iced tea and margaritas provided the perfect complement for the Mexican food buffet. Organized by our southern CA area coordinators, Terry Sprague and Cindy Pierson, it was a lovely venue to sit back and enjoy ourselves. Terry, in true husbandly fashion, left the decorations and many details in the capable hands of his wife Belle who did an awesome job while collaborating with Carol Sanderson of Diggitie-Dog Designs. Carol also donated some adorable auction items all the way from Georgia! We had many generous auction donations including several wonderful oil paintings by our newest ESRA member, Cathy Hill, that produced some spirited bidding. When the auction bidding ended and the winners proudly claimed (and paid for) their coveted prizes, $5,239 was added to the ESRA Treasury! 5

Petunia Goes Home!

By Pam Waidler

Last year, we introduced you to Petunia, our overweight five-year-old foster dog. Due to terrible neglect and untreated hypothyroidism, she weighed 106 pounds when she came to us from a shelter in Denver, Colorado. With excellent veterinary care and a long process of home care, Petunia lost 38 pounds and needed only thyroid medication to stay healthy. Petunia met a family that fell in love with her. In August, she was adopted by an active, loving family. In addition to her new mom and dad, she lives with 14 –year-old twins, and two Cocker Spaniel brothers. Her new family takes her on two walks a day, and she exercises on an underwater treadmill at a canine rehabilitation center. She is a happy girl!

One of ESRA’s more extreme makeovers, Petunia — before and after — first at her “fluffiest” when she came to ESRA, and then at adoption, after shedding 38 pounds.

Adding value to treats As we progress with a dog’s training, by offering treats in the same way each time, the dog will begin to understand that your hand position is a cue that he’ll be getting a treat; so holding your hand in that way becomes a bit of a reinforcement or reward on its own. Then when the dog gets the treat, it’s already more valuable than it would have been based on just its taste and food value. Because of the benefit of the “marker” of holding your hand in that position, the dog will perceive even a piece of kibble as a pretty good reward. Think of how a clicker extends the reinforcement process, letting the dog know he’s about to get a treat – your hand in a certain position can be the same type of stimulus. The reinforcement begins when your hand appears, and continues through the time the dog is chewing and swallowing the treat. I generally offer treats to my own dogs between the tips of my thumb and forefinger. I’ll sometimes present them to a new dog on my flat palm.


ESRA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. Our all-volunteer organization works with love and passion for English Springer

Mailing address for donations and inquiries: 19518 Nashville St. Northridge, CA 91362 e-mail: [email protected]