Foster dog notes for May 18th, 2019

Lennon has been accepted by Lucky Dog Rescue in Wisconsin.  He will be leaving us on June 1st.  I got a preview of how that’s going to go over yesterday: I took Lennon on a trash run.  When we got back, he decided to stay in the yard while I went inside.  Blondie and Josephine mistook the situation:


Our wild child is learning self-control, and that when she does control herself (not jumping up on me and grabbing at my arms or hands with her teeth) she gets petted and belly rubs.  When she gets demanding, she does not.  If she insists on being demanding, she goes back to her kennel and that play time is over.  She’s got a ways to go, but she’s learning.

She’s also doing better about not getting growly and nasty when she’s got a treat or food and another dog comes near.  Before, if I gave her a bowl of kibble and Lennon stood outside her kennel to watch, she’d drive him off with fierceness.  Now she just eats and ignores him.  Before, if she found a yard bone or an especially tasty stick (they seem to like the little peach tree branches I trim off) while in group-play, she’d get nasty if another dog came to see what she had.  As you saw above, she was fine when Rocky came to see what she had.


I expected to have trouble with Rocky, being the dominant one in a bonded pair, when I separated him from his brother: Blaze.  At first, Rocky got quite aggressive with Blaze when I let them play together.  That’s typical: trying to bring the submissive back into his control.  So I didn’t let them play together for a while.  That calmed him down.

Rocky plays well with Sable and Lennon too.  He even plays with little Josephine, and she likes it!  Rocky does get vocal when others are in the yard and he wants to come out and play too.

But he’s doing MUCH better at night.  All three normally are quiet all night long, unless a deer puts on Brogans and stomps around in the woods.  That would set off any dog!

Rocky is also doing well at keeping his kennel clean.  He has the concept that pottying is to be done in the yard.


Of the two brothers, Blaze is gentler and more affectionate.  He can turn the steam up and play hard with the other dogs, but with me he’s usually pretty subdued and well behaved.  He has also learned to walk on a leash:

I’m happy about that!

Cutting the Cost of Heartworm Prevention

Originally published July 14, 2015


The dogtor is in

Heartworms are a serious threat to dogs. The heartworm larvae are carried and transmitted by mosquitoes: mosquitoes are everywhere, even in our home at times. Keeping your dog from being bitten by a mosquito is almost impossible, therefore heartworm prevention is important to keep the heartworm larvae from developing in your dog’s blood stream.

Heartworm prevention medications can be pricey since they need to be given every month, year round. One very popular brand is Heartguard: a chewable treat for your dog. It is reliable and well liked by veterinarians and dogs alike. Pet Armor is the same formula but is less expensive. If that is still too much for your budget, there is another option. Continue reading

The Pop-up Thunderstorm

We had a pop-up thunderstorm roll in this morning as we were getting our day started.  It gave advance notice in the form of continuous, distant thunder so I dashed out to feed The Brown Dog Gang and let them run in the yard to relieve themselves before it arrived.  Lennon and Blondie went with me to help.  The rain started just as we were finishing up and getting them back into their kennels.

Blondie trotted up toward the house with her ears down on the sides of her head (her Yoda face) muttering, “It’s raining, it’s raining, I don’t like the rain.  I need to be inside.”

While Marie fixed breakfast, Buddy Beagle cowered in his bunker. He still barked at the thunder — until we had a close lightning strike with it’s BIG boomer that rattled the house and the power blinked. Then Buddy admitted defeat and was quiet: curled up in the back of his crate until the storm passed.

Josie hid too. In her own way.  She tried to wiggle in behind the chair, but it had been pushed back to make more room for crates.  She often goes and hides under my desk, but this morning she preferred to be where the Peoples were, so she made do with this corner.

Blondie Bear and Callie Roo followed me around and looked worried. I tried not to fawn over them much, that only encourages their fearfulness, but I’m not cold enough to just ignore them.  So they contended themselves with taking turns sitting on my feet and looking up at me imploringly.

Lennon, however, was not bothered in the least by the thunder, lightning, or the rain. This will come as good news to his next foster and his adoptive family. Lennon is NOT scared of storms.

The outside dogs never made a peep.  They too do not seem to be bothered by the storm.  But then, they had had their breakfast and a potty break, there was no wind to blow the rain around, and the new roof with it’s wide overhangs easily kept all of them dry.  The new slab is designed to make sure run-off from the mountain cannot flow across the new kennels.  So they hung out and watched the show.

The storm has passed now. Buddy went back to barking at the distant thunder until that too faded away.  Everyone else has claimed a bed for a nap.  We will be going outside soon for morning play session with The Brown Dog Gang, and kennel cleaning. Hopefully that will be all the rain we get for a while – I have things to do and places to go today.

Silent Nights

When our current gang of foster dogs arrived, the nights were not silent.  Definitely not silent!  Rocky and Blaze were vocal day and night.  They barked at anything they could see or hear moving around, they barked at other dogs on the mountain, even quite distant dogs, who were barking at something or just being conversational.

Their first few nights here were exhausting for I had to keep going outside to sit near their kennel to convince them to not bark — and awake our neighbors.  Thank God it was spring, and warm enough I didn’t freeze out there!

After a few nights they caught on and were far less vocal at night.  And that trend has only improved since.

When Sable arrived she’d howl: a low, long, mournful sound that, while heart-wrenching, did not threaten anyone’s ability to sleep.  Her issue is that she craves attention and gets lonely.  Early on, she was by herself in the first of the new kennels while Blaze and Rocky were together in a single kennel I’d moved out into the play yard so we could pour the slab for the new kennels.  Once I built the other two new kennels and Sable had neighbors, she took comfort in that and was more calm at night.

Since then, all three have settled in and learned to be good dogs at night.

I snapped this picture through a window yesterday as evening came on, their bellies full of kibble, after a frolic together in the play yard, all of the Brown Dog Gang settled onto their beds with a chewy to relax and fall asleep.

Not that they sleep all night — for I do hear them stirring once in a while: tags jingling as they shake, or the lapping of water. — but all have settled down so they don’t bark at night. Much.  If a forest creature comes stomping through the woods, they will go on alert to ward it off.  But this is infrequent, and brief.

Even Rocky, who caused he and his brother to be returned by their adopter because of incessant barking, now passes the nights peacefully.  Good job boys!

Making and Installing Top Netting

Today I’m making up and installing top nets on kennels #1 and #2.  Kennel #3 is already done, but because I was up against a deadline (inbound dog) I rushed that one and it’s not done as neatly as these are coming out.  But it does serve the purpose of keeping (escape artist) Sable in her kennel.  She has been up standing on top of her dog house to get a closer look at that net, but she hasn’t found a weakness yet

To keep things from falling apart should a weld break while I’m installing the net, I secure the end strands of wire. When I cut the fencing, I cut down the middle between vertical strands so I have tails to work with. Most of these I just fold over to hold things together, but the two at the end corners, I wrap around tightly to hold that joint together if that weld fails.

With two 10 foot runs of fencing cut and ends wrapped, I lay them side by side. Each run of fencing is 4 feet high (wide) so together they just cover the 8 foot wide kennels.

I stitch the runs of fencing together with 3/8″ hog rings. I install one every third juncture, and I install them diagonally – alternating directions of the diagonals so as a whole, the sheet of fencing is locked together and the two pieces cannot slide past one another.

I install a rail at the top of the back of the kennel, and another across the kennel at the halfway point. These (along with the front panel) support the netting. I start at the back and fasten the netting to the rails with stainless steel zip ties. Every two feet across the back and center bars, every 1 foot along the outside and front rails. I don’t fasten the inner edge at all yet. I’ll do that when the netting is in place for the center kennel, then use one set of ties to fasten both nets.

Josephine has been fascinated by this process. She’s not inspecting, not being judgemental, just being a spectator (and enjoying the sunshine).

In fact, to avoid being in the way, she is spectatoring from a distance.

These nets will keep our foster dogs inside the kennels, and keep other critters out of the kennels.  Right now, with the dogs living in the outdoor runs, the chances of coons, possum, or a cat wanting to get in there to go after food or water is minuscule. But when I get the indoor runs built the doggos may well be sawing logs on a bed inside at night, and that could make a tempting score for woodland creatures.

These nets will prevent larger creatures from getting in. I’m not so worried about stolen food or water as I am that a dog might awaken and get into a tussle with said forest creature. Aside from the possibility of rabies, I don’t want my charges getting chewed up by a desperate raccoon or opossum.

These top nets will prevent that.

Grave Digger

Today I continued my task of digging a grave.  A grave for a snake.  A big snake: the infamous Drainaconda!  But I wasn’t working alone, oh no, I had plenty of “help”.

We didn’t all show up at one time.  My crew straggled in one or two at a time, beginning with Callie and Lennon, who wandered over to see what I was doing as I was setting things up and positioning the wagon for dirt hauling.

When I started digging, Sable stood and watched me for the longest time!  I’m not sure if she was impressed by my digging prowess or amazed by the mess I was making.

In a while she decided to go off duty and settled in to watch less critically.

I got the ditch lengthened by another 9 feet, which was a good stopping point for me, so I stopped.  This is hard going because the area I’m digging in had been a driveway and is a mixture of red clay and gravel – mudcrete!  Because of the rock I cannot take the soil over and dump it into my garden (where I could use some soil) so I’m finding hollows and pits in the so-called “lawn” to fill and seed.

Next I got up and untied Mr. Drainaconda from his position in the “trees”.  I keep him tied up there to be out of the way so I don’t accidentally step on him and crack him and the dogs don’t tear up the “sock” that surrounds him.

Once loosed from his safe haven, I lay that end down into the trench

And snake him back up the next post to keep the rest of him out of danger.

Inspector Lennon comes to look at my work.

Then I wheelbarrow in a few loads of clean gravel from the pile out in the driveway to cover over the drain line.  The gravel allows water to pass freely through so it enters the perforated drain pipe and is carried around and away from the concrete pad.  This should keep rain run-off coming down the mountain from running over the concrete even in a heavy rain.

“Yeah, okay, that passes inspection. Carry on.”

The final step in this process will be to dig over to where another buried drain line runs across the end of the old mobile home that is my shop and the dog’s bunk house, dig that up (carefully) and splice this line into that one with a Y connection.  Then all this run-off will get carried across the yard and out to the drainage ditch that runs alongside the shop driveway and down to the roadside ditch.

That will complete the final step of exterior construction on the new kennels – other than a little trim painting.  Then I’ll cool my heels and get back to lawn maintenance (badly neglected of late), gardening, and dog training until I have funds available — and lumber removed from inside the lumber shed turned kennel — to proceed with constructing the inside portions of these kennels and renovating the interior to be comfortable and useful.

See ya then!

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Breaking Brotherly Bonds

Rocky and Blaze, bonded brothers

Blaze and Rocky are bonded siblings: two of 6 puppies that were surrendered with their mother to Animal Control.  The others were all taken away as they were adopted, leaving just these two, clinging to each other for moral support in a scary environment.

When I pulled them from Newport Animal Control, Blaze (the bigger one) tended to cower behind his brother, who would bark fiercely at anyone who stopped at their kennel door.  They were so unruly they had to be carried out to my truck because they would NOT walk on a leash.

Since coming to Piney Mountain Foster they have remained quite close, but not so fearful.  They’d still sleep in a pile, and they love to play together in our big yard.  But Rocky has been nowhere near as protective, and Blaze has started to develop a will of his own.

For example, The wind brought down a good sized Y shaped stick from one of the trees.  Blaze found it and declared it his most favorite thing in the world.  He’d run around waving it, and lie in the grass gently chewing on it.  Rocky came over and grabbed hold of it, intending to take it away.  Blaze was having none of that!  They growled at each other threateningly and had a tug-of-war.  Blaze is a quiet fellow, Rocky tends to yap.  So Blaze waited until Rocky yapped at his brother to demand the stick and Blaze jerked it from Rocky’s mouth and ran off with it.  I’m sure he was laughing!  He’s quiet, but he’s not dumb.

After that Rocky will chase Blaze, and may have a short tug fest, but he doesn’t get serious about taking the stick from his brother.

My greatest concern was that Rocky would hog all the food.  I tried feeding them in separate bowls but that didn’t work because Rocky would run back and forth between the two, eating from both.  So I went to one big bowl and found that Rocky did give his brother his fair share, so neither went hungry.

This afternoon, I moved Rocky into a kennel of his own to see how they would react to being physically separated.  They have done well.  Dinner time was the hardest, because Blaze insisted on going into Rocky’s kennel and eating with him.  That is how they’ve ALWAYS done it.  But eventually I got across to him that he had a bowl of kibble all his own.  They both ate, then came out to play.

A clan of calm canines.

This evening both brothers are lounging on their beds and enjoying the pleasant weather.  Their new neighbor, Sable, is also being quiet (for a change).  I think she likes having someone in the room right next to hers.  Last night that room was empty and she howled, on and off, all night long.

As long as Da Boyz are able to sleep while not piled on each other, then I’d say we have a successful move.

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Installing Chain Link Panels

Work on the new kennels progresses.  I spent yesterday afternoon figuring out how to cut down a 10’ wide door panel to be exactly 92¼” wide.  I ran the math three times to be sure it was right because I only get one shot at this.  If I mess it up I buy a new panel: or have one built to the correct size.

I started out cutting the tubing with a metal blade in a saber saw.  A reciprocating saw would have been better, but I don’t have one.  Almost immediately, I broke the blade.  I had more, but it was clear that this was not going to be as easy as I hoped.  The only way to do this – in this manner – was to run the saw around the tube, not cutting across the tube from one side to the other.

I did get the first three cuts done that way, but it took a long time and was nerve wracking – and not especially neat.  Then the bulb lit up.

I went in the shop, put my metal cutting blade on the chop saw and dragged that saw outside.  I’ve used this many times to cut the steel tubing I’ve used in trellises.  I used that to make the inboard cuts and it went MUCH faster and did a much neater job: just needed some work with a file to remove the thin scruff that is left on the back of the cut so the splice tube fits over the pipe.

I also found that I was able to re-use the retainer clips that hold the end rod (it fits along the ends of the chain link) to the vertical pipe and the ends of the mesh.  These bent steel bars use a special tool to form them around the pipe and fold a tab over the rod, kind of like a giant staple.  I don’t have that tool.  But I have a big pair of channel locks.  I was able to unbend the part that folds around the rod and pop the clamp loose.  Then after I cut the tubing and reassembled the frame with splice tubes I unstitched a run of the chain link to remove the excess, inserted the rod in the end loops of the mesh and pulled it tight by hand while I popped the clamp strips back in place.  Folding the tabs back over the rod with channel locks and securing the top and bottom of the mesh to the rails with fence ties finished the job.

Kennel #3 almost complete

The front panel fits perfectly.  All that remains is to install the wire mesh over the top (to thwart climbers) and Kennel #3 is ready for habitation.  Which is good because our Intake Coordinator wants to bring me another dog Monday.

Rocky and Blaze are still Kennel #1, which has a full size front panel tacked into place.  Now that I know how to do this I’ll cut down the front panel from the newest kennel and install it on that kennel.  I could not do this earlier because Rocky and Blaze were IN that kennel while I installed the panels at each end of the kennels that make up part of our play yard fence.

I’ll also replace the side panels on K#1 and K#2 with the three side panels from the good kennel (these have the fine wire mesh installed on their lower half to prevent dogs grabbing the chain link with their teeth and deforming it).  The back side panel (far side of K#3 is in good shape, so I can add the mesh to that one and all will be protected.  The door panels for K#2 and K#3 are another matter: they’re pretty chewed up.  I’ll need to have them re-chain-linked before I can install the protective mesh.  Now that I’ve learned to manipulate those bent-in-place clamps, I can probably do that myself – as long as I don’t break any.

It took one whole morning to cut down the first gate panel, the second morning I got both of the other two cut down and installed.  Da Boyz each have their own room now and are doing will with that change.

I need to finish digging in that drain line and this phase of The Big Doins will be done.

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Kennels Coming Together

Now that the exterior new construction of our Big Doins project has been completed, it’s time to start bringing the kennels back together … well, almost.  There is one more step to complete first but it’s not construction so much as destruction.

John Kaprocki brought his concrete saw and is cutting doggie doors.

Cutting concrete makes a LOT of dust!

We set up a big fan to help blow the dust out.


With outside and inside cuts made and the block removed it’s time to pretty things up.

Holes made, rubble removed, wall and pad power washed.

Wall painted and panel mounting hardware installed.

Kennel panels going back in.

Rocky and Blaze move into their new room

An idyllic cabin in the woods for homeless canines.

We are not done.  I still need to build the inside kennels: there will be a 4 foot by 8 foot indoor kennel section for each outside run.  Then I won’t need dog houses outside, they can escape weather by retreating through the doggie doors to their inside section which will be heated in winter and cooled in summer as well as being  secure against wind and storm.

The remainder of the building will be dedicated to storage for unused crates, transport boxes, blankets bowls, collars, harnesses, dog food, and what-have-you.  But that part of the job will have to wait a bit.

Between our savings and contributions, money for the concrete pad was on hand before that part began.  No debt.  My plan was to assemble the kennels on the pad and wait on the roof until the money for that was available, but the offer of having an experienced carpenter guide me through that process was too good to pass up, so I paid for materials with a credit card.  I need to pay that off before I forge ahead with the final step of remodeling building interior including inside kennels.  Said building is also full of lumber.

Selling said lumber will help pay off the credit card bill.

Then I can move on to re-wiring the interior electrical, and lighting, removing the roll-up garage door, moving the pedestrian door, filling in the openings in the front wall and siding them, building the three indoor kennels with cinder block, building and installing chain link panels with doors for inside access, installing insulation and a ceiling inside, priming and painting the bare block walls and the ceiling, and adding heaters and fans above each kennel space.  But that’s going to have to wait a little while.  Hopefully I’ll get all this done before winter: I’d like to offer our guests shelter from the cold without me having to leash-walk them around to the shop door for crating inside there at night and on especially cold days.

Do you want to help?

I’ve been doing my best to keep the costs as low as possible by doing as much of the work as possible myself – and enlisting volunteers, mostly John Kaprocki so far (who has been exceedingly helpful through providing labor and sharing his knowledge and tools).

If you’d like to help us speed this project along, your donation would be greatly appreciated.  You may make a donation on-line with the PayPal button below or you may mail a check to:

Doug Bittinger
1198 Piney Mountain Road
Newport, TN 37821

Your support is greatly appreciated!

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Roof, Roof, Roof!

John Kaprocki and I spent all day yesterday and half a day today framing up the roof for the new kennels in our Big Doins on Piney Mountain project.  John is an expert at this stuff, I just try not to get in his way.

Actually John did comment on how much faster these things go with two people than with one. And it is not as physically straining.  Let’s face it, tossing a bunch of 16 foot long 2x8s (in Southern Yellow pine) up on top of the beam and ledger is rough enough with two of us horsing them around, doing it all day long single handed would be murder.

Building Inspectors

Blaze and Rocky watched us work both days and were not disruptive at all, they seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing.  Maybe Blondie has explained to them that Robert, Terry, John, and I are building them a new house.  I think Blaze LIKES that idea!

I have ordered the metal roofing and it should be ready to pick-up on Monday.  We should be able to get a fair bit of that done Monday.  The big issue will be how fast it warms up up there on our hot tin roof.