Playtime: So you want (or have) a dog? Adoption and training resources

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Dog #1: Ziggy

Usually when people ask you “Have you seen This Is Us?” — the TV show/tearjerker on NBC — it is about plot line revelations or to commiserate about just how hard you cried while watching. Most recently for me, it was to ask if people had seen the story line where the character Toby looks at a website designed for finding pets, in this case a dog, for stress relief.

A little more than two years after losing our dog, I found myself doing the same thing for stress relief and a distraction from what was the middle of a difficult school year. Another search the day after I saw this episode — combined with “not a ‘no’” from my husband — started our path to adding a dog the family. We got to do a bit of a “we’re going to Disneyland” reveal about looking for a dog, but we had to mix it with a work agreement with the kids because turning the “not a ‘no’” into a “yes” required promises of sharing the workload on this dog.

In the past, our pets had been strays or been adopted from a humane society-style location, where you typically meet and take the animal home in the same day, so I wasn’t prepared for our web-based experience trying to adopt a new dog. This route found us sitting at our kitchen table being interviewed by a woman who was doing a “home check”; spending a full day making multiple stops between Lynnwood and Puyallup; a whole lot of waiting and frankly, a little bit of heartbreak, before we ended up with our first new dog — I swear they multiply — Ziggy, a 10-month-old Miniature Pinscher mix.

A puppy class. (Photo courtesy Blue Collar Doghouse)

While we were waiting to bring Ziggy home, I started doing some resource research; I checked out locations to get the food my family had recommended, compared prices on the necessities, and made a stop at Blue Collar Doghouse in Edmonds to see if they had any recommendations on how/where to find dog boarding since what they offer is weekday doggie daycare. This is when I met Cathy Madson CPDT-KA, dog trainer and manager at Blue Collar Doghouse. Madson not only gave me some names, but also answered some questions I had about our adoption and his pending arrival.

It wasn’t a full week of having Ziggy home before I called Madson for help, and another week until we were on the list to start an Intro to Basics six-week class at Blue Collar Doghouse. See, Ziggy has separation anxiety. If you’re like me, you had no idea that existed in dogs — like zero idea. Wikipedia describes dog separation anxiety as a “condition in which a dog exhibits distress and behavior problems when separated from its handler.” Now I’ll spare you every single detail — unlike everyone else I’ve talked to about this — but we really relied on Madson’s guidance, as well as the staff at Brier Veterinary Hospital, which offers a free office visit for rescues.

After seeing great results using Madson’s suggestions, we were anxious to start the session. The first class, which is for humans only, felt like my first PEPS group, as we went around the room sharing cute stories and airing grievances, if you will, that built an instant camaraderie within the class. Throughout the next five weeks, we taught Zigs, as we call him, to sit, lay down, touch his nose to our hand, and get into his bed and lay down. We also got a lot of help with walking on the leash all while using a clicker — I won’t break it down, but it’s basically the same principle as the whistle used with dolphins.

What has been so great for us is that in that first session, she really breaks down the method and therefore we’ve been (mostly) able to apply it to other situations and training needs — like how to feed two dogs at one time or how to get a Lego gun from a dog that thinks it’s food. I say mostly because we’ve also done a private session with her, which is discounted if you take classes, as we needed extra help with our extra nervous dog.

Madson told me that the next “Intro To Basics” session at Blue Collar Doghouse starts on July 31. For questions, registration, and info on their many other classes, you can click HERE.

City of Mountlake Terrace dog obedience class. (Photo courtesy City of Mountlake Terrace)

Before I get to the the second dog, our amazing experience at Lynnwood-based PAWS, and how you can donate to them at this month’s Edmonds Art Walk, I want to let you know about the many other local dog training options. There are three different dog training classes available through the City of Mountlake Terrace. Another session of their “Basic Dog Obedience” class starts on July 9. This weekly evening class covers “walking on a leash, sit, down, stand and come.” Their “Beyond Basic” class builds on those skills and in my very non-expert opinion is a good idea. The City of Mountlake Terrace also offer a Puppygarten class for puppies 8 to 16 weeks. This class covers socialization and basic obedience; “sit, down, come, and walking on a leash.” I called over to the MLT Recreation Pavilion today and each class still has space available. For more information on each class or to register you can visit MLTRec.com or call them at 425-776-9173.

Both PetCo and PetSmart, which have Lynnwood locations, offer training classes as well. Specific classes and times aren’t online, per the man I spoke to from PetCo, because the options vary by location. He told me that their trainers are flexible and they can make it work if the available classes don’t fit your schedule. One of the checkers at PetSmart, who was price matching Chewy.com among other businesses last time I was there, sang the praises of one of their trainers who had helped her with her dog, who also struggled with separation anxiety. For more info on the PetCo classes, their contact info and hours are HERE and for the same info on PetSmart you can click HERE.

Now let’s talk about PAWS! I could spend all day on PAWS (Progressive Animal Welfare Society) which not only has a Companion Animal Shelter in Lynnwood, but also a Wildlife Center. In fact, if your dog is found as a stray in Edmonds, it may end up waiting for you at PAWS. While we’re at it, they also offer low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for qualified low-income individuals, and they take in injured or orphaned wild animals after helping you determine whether assistance is needed. I’ve been on the other end of that phone call for a baby possum and they were very helpful.

Dog #2: Jack

After over four months of having Ziggy, I was still visiting the website full of available dogs on a regular basis. Considering the continued perusing and having exhausted most options to cure Ziggy’s separation anxiety, we decided — with guidance from a multiple professionals — to adopt another dog when we found the right one. Our experience in adopting Jack — a 5-year-old little bit of everything — from PAWS was calm, thorough and kind. The staff answered our questions while making sure Jack was a good fit for us and us for him. While Jack wasn’t the bearded dog I was searching pictures for, he was dog in the kennel I couldn’t stop coming back to. His uneven ears, fox-like tail, and unbelievably soft coat make his lineage very unclear, but it’s fun to guess. On the meet-and-greet with the kids he managed to climb into both laps all at once and the pleas to bring him home began. It has been great to have Jack here and the consensus of ‘two dogs isn’t double the work’ seems mostly true. Ziggy is doing much better while we’re gone and with the advice of Madson, Brier Veterinary Clinic and the behaviorist at PAWS ,he and Jack are becoming fast friends.

Pet portraits for PAWS at the July 19 Edmonds Art Walk.

If you want to help PAWS, there is a fun opportunity to do so at ARTspot Edmonds, 408 Main St., during this month’s Edmonds Art Walk on Thursday, July 19. Artists Mike O’Day, Cody French and Julia Carpenter will be set up to sketch portraits of anyone showing up with their dogs, or photos of any pets. From 5 to 8 p.m. you can get an original pet portrait for a suggested $10 donation per drawing, no reservations required. Artists can also work from a picture if your dog may not be a fan of AWE and “photos are a great option if you want a portrait of your kitty too!” according to the Facebook Events page.

ARTspot Edmonds says this one “one of the funnest art walk nights we had last year,” raising $795 in donations with 100 percent of your donation going to PAWS. For more information on this event, you can find the Facebook Events page HERE and for more information on PAWS you can visit PAWS.org.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, a mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her on Twitter trying to make sense of begging kids to ”just eat the mac n cheese.”

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