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EXPRESS

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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2013

pets

Diamonds in the ruff Troubled doggies learn to sit, stay and be good By Kate Wutz Valley Pets Editor

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ome days, it seems like everyone else in the valley has the perfect dog. When our own dogs are misbehaving, pulling on the leash and barking at everyone who passes, all other dogs seem to trot perfectly and obediently just to the left heel of the owner. But many of these dogs were not always so perfect. Local dog trainers and behaviorists say they have turned many dogs around from furry terrors to confident, obedient companions with nothing more than knowledge, patience, dedication and some ground rules. Feli and Wolf Funke-Riehle, former owners of Bigwood Bread, had no idea they were getting what Feli calls “the dog from hell” when they adopted a cattle dog mix from the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley. The couple had wanted an athletic dog that could keep up with their active lifestyle, so they brought Undi home from the shelter about a year ago. “That was the beginning of getting the dog from hell,” Feli said. Undi, whose name means “joy,” was named after a Sherpa climber who Wolf had met when on an expedition in the Himalayas. Undi soon proved to be about as adventurous as her namesake, dashing over berms and across highways and rivers in pursuit of her “prey”— mountain bikers, motorcycles, horses, chickens and cars. The dog’s speed, coupled with what Feli felt was her lack of control over her pet, almost led to Undi’s surrender, either to the shelter or to a friend. Hillary Hayward, a trainer at the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley, hugs her shelter “Last summer, I spent a whole rescue dog, Darlin. Hayward said Darlin was “too smart for her own good” when they met. day doing beautiful portraits of her With training and patience, Darlin became the perfect shelter ambassador. because I was going to put her on Express photo by Roland Lane Facebook,” she said. “We felt that we were not enough owners for her, and “I love the turnaround of a dog pups sometimes are nervous due we should find her a working ranch that was pretty much abandoned, to previous trauma, they are more in Shoshone, that we should just ad- who had too much energy and no likely to be shy or rambunctious mit defeat.” obedience,” she said. “With someone due to neglect or lack of exercise. Luckily, the couple didn’t need to. committing to her, she became just a Jill Bryson, who conducts agility They had worked with dog trainer different dog.” training at the Sawtooth Animal Barb Williams of Hailey before, and Hayward said dogs need struc- Center in Bellevue, said teaching decided to turn to her for help. ture in order to function properly. dogs to run an agility course can Williams, owner of Dogs Play Dogs look for direction from their be a great way to help the animals ’n’ Train, said she has worked with owners, she said, and tend to make blow off some steam. dogs with issues including near-feral poor decisions without rules. “What it is, is taking your kid to lack of socialization, fear aggression, “It takes the stress away from the playground under control,” she alert barking and, as in Feli’s case, them,” she said. “It keeps them from said. “They are out having a good owners who could not gain control living in chaos. The more rules, the time, and it gives them a job.” over their dogs. less responsibility. It makes it easier The dogs are taught to wriggle 4/27/07 1:46:32 PM With obedience training and at- on dogs.” through tunnels, jump over hurdles tention drills, Williams was able to and climb over ramps. Bryson said give Feli and Wolf the confidence the classes provide the dogs and they needed to control Undi, as well owners a chance to work together, as to give Undi jobs—apart from reinforce their bond and give the dog chasing things. Soon, Undi was a lots of positive reinforcement. new dog, Feli said. “In theory, the dog works a lot Williams and other local trainers harder than the human, and you go say that while no two dogs are alike, home with a tired, happy dog,” she setting rules and giving dogs outlets said. for nervous energy are often the best Fran Jewell, certified dog behavways to turn misbehaving dogs into ior consultant and owner of Positive paragons of doggie virtue. Puppy, said leadership is the most Hillary Hayward, Animal Shelter important component to a happy, adof the Wood River Valley behavior justed dog. But she advocates a theoand training coordinator, said her ry known as the “total dog puzzle,” dog, Darlin, was so bad when she arwhich includes components such as rived at the shelter that none of the overall health, exercise, commitment staff wanted to take her out of the and consistency on the part of the kennel. owner. “It was the classic too-smart-for“You have to work on all pieces of her-own-good, too-much-energythat puzzle,” Jewell said, adding that Hillary Hayward and-nowhere-to-put-it,” she said. sometimes things like pain from hip Animal Shelter Hayward began working with the dysplasia can cause a dog to display of the Wood River Valley dog constantly, teaching her tricks, behavioral problems. basic obedience, whatever Hayward Of course, rules aren’t the only Sometimes, however, problems could think of to keep Darlin stimu- thing that guarantees a well-be- can be due to trauma. Williams said lated mentally and physically. Now, haved pet. Hayward said exercise is that one of her dogs, Kimber, came Darlin is what Hayward calls a “shel- a major component, too, as it gives to her as a stray that found its way ter ambassador,” traveling to schools dogs a healthy outlet for some of to the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office and other areas to show local resi- their energy. 12 years ago. Kimber went to several dents how great shelter dogs can be. Hayward said that while shelter different homes in the county before

“I LOVE THE TURNAROUND OF A DOG THAT WAS PRETTY MUCH ABANDONED, WHO HAD TOO MUCH ENERGY AND NO OBEDIENCE.”

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pets

Kittens

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Before being found with a mangled leg at a campground in Carey, Faherty said, Arlo had apparently been around people before. “He wasn’t fearful at all,” she said. “He was ridiculously outgoing from the start. He’s pretty good buddies with my dogs. I think he thinks he’s a third dog in the family. He goes on hikes with us, so he’s quite close to us. “He doesn’t have any special needs. He gets into all sorts of trouble. It doesn’t slow him down at all. He jumps as well as any cat.” Faherty said Arlo seems oblivious to the fact that he’s missing a leg. “He doesn’t know about it, so I hope he doesn’t read about it in the paper!” Team was brought to the shelter after someone found him in a box on the steps of a church in Carey. He seemed to have been around people, Dixon said. “He didn’t seem to be scared,” she said. “He would rub against the cage and want to be petted.” Team’s blindness stemmed from severe long-term eye infections that Dixon said had already blinded the cat. As a result, she knew she had to remove the cat’s eyes to prevent further infection. “He came in as a stray with a real bad eye infection that had been going on for a long time,” she said. “His eyes had shrunk down to nothing.” After surgery, Dixon said, Team was quick to start chasing and playing with a small bell. “He acts like he can see,” she said. Team was adopted out in early January. An Internet search shows that blindness in cats is common. It sometimes afflicts kittens such as Team that have bad eye infections, but it’s even more common with older cats whose eyesight deteriorates with age. The Internet offers lots of helpful information for taking care of a blind cat. It’s best not to move furniture or their food bowls around since they navigate by memory. If there’s another pet in the house, tying a bell to it will help the blind cat locate the other animal. It’s best to talk to the cat before touching it, so as not to startle it. While both Arlo and Team have their disabilities, shelter personnel point out that Meghan Faherty, neither is a “special needs” cat. Instead, they Animal Shelter of the Wood make the most out of the abilities that they River Valley have. “These animals are ones that don’t have any hang-ups,” Dixon said. “Arlo doesn’t know he only has three legs and Team doesn’t know that he can’t see.” VP

“HE DOESN’T KNOW ABOUT IT, SO I HOPE HE DOESN’T READ ABOUT IT IN THE PAPER.”

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Better Food • Better Price • Better Service Kimber, left, and Mallie were strays before they were taken in by Dogs Play ’n’ Train owner Barb Williams. Williams said Kimber’s past made her so shy and insecure that she started to become aggressive. Now, Kimber has learned to trust Williams and look to her for guidance when frightened. Express photo by Roland Lane

Dogs

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Williams took her home and realized Hayward said the last two dogs that early neglect and instability had she can think of with more difficreated an unstable dog. cult behavioral issues were a goofy “Fear built aggression,” Williams Labrador that needed guidance and said. a shy Siberian husky-German shepWilliams taught Kimber to feel herd mix that had likely been tied to safe and to trust a tree for most of her, slowly workher young life. ing with her to inBoth dogs went still confidence. on to find happy “It takes palong-term homes, tience and building and the owners still trust, but it’s so reupdate the shelter warding,” Williams with tales of their said. pets’ exploits. TalHayward said lulah, the shy mix, shelter dogs, despite even met Santa their reputation, Claus over Christare not inherently mas, and Hayward troubled. Somesaid Tallulah’s stotimes they have ry is one of her abBarb Williams, been surrendered solute favorite tales Dogs Play ’n’ Train because the ownof doggie rehabiliers did not take the tation. time to socialize them or did not set “She still is a shy dog, and she still rules, but that doesn’t mean the dogs gets startled,” Hayward said. “But won’t become the very models of it’s a complete turnaround from the doggie decorum, often even during nervous little coyote that she was their stays. when she came here.” VP

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MT. EXPRESS’ PETS

“IT TAKES PATIENCE AND BUILDING TRUST, BUT IT’S SO REWARDING.”

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Diamonds in the ruff