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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Saga of the Foster Dog Continues...

For those of you who read my blog for the spiritual topics, I'm certain those will make a return. In fact, I can't do anything in life without looking for whatever it is God is trying to tell me. For those of you who love animals (I know many of you do), maybe this is fascinating to you so I will continue to write of my new friend "Bear".  Be assured, at some point, maybe even tonight, I will write of God's influence in this situation.  His fingerprints are ALL. OVER. this endeavor!

As I write, I ask you all to keep in mind that this dog is a FOSTER. That means he is up for adoption and I am only serving as a temporary home. This really means I'm serving the family (or single person) intended by God to have this dog.. It IS a daunting task and I admit I'm intimidated.

If you are interested at some point in adopting this dog, please send me an email so I can put you in touch with the rescue organization.  Please do not hesitate to do this:  one of the reasons I decided to try my hand at fostering is because I cannot afford a second dog, my own dog is happier as an only pet, and I decided that sometimes it's worth putting one's heart on the line for a greater good.  (Don't worry, my dog will "speak" to me again eventually.) There aren't enough people out there who are willing to even TRY I hope my writing about "Bear" (my blog name for him) ends up encouraging others to try this role for themselves. Recall that God created animals for a reason and a service such as this glorifies and serves Him, too.

So....First Night and Day with Bear....

In speaking with the placement coordinator while she was at my house last night, I asked for some advice/recommendation on kennel usage based on what she knows and her experience. She did recommend I kennel him at night instead of letting him run loose in my bedroom, for fear he might decide to "mark" everything I own while I sleep. As this was also my line of thinking, that's exactly what I did.  Bear went into the kennel with only a little hesitation, but didn't seem to be interested in the treat I offered him.

In general, he doesn't seem to understand what treats are about.  I actually pulled out the "big guns" last night; freeze-dried liver, used for training.  He turned it down!  Yet, when my dog snarfed it down, he decided to give it a try.   I've also seen this behavior before, in a dog who had been very abused.  The fact that he is eating them, albeit with hesitation, is a good sign. He's willing to trust...a little...and accept treats.

Well, so, I went to bed, my dog came with me, and Bear remained in his kennel downstairs. He wasn't pleased. In fact, he sounded a lot like Chewbacca complaining, making me wonder if he's got some Malamute in him somewhere!  (Yes, German Shepherds can be "talkers", too, and Bear is DEFINITELY one of them!) Unfortunately I could hear him scraping and pulling at the kennel door, he was barking, and I tried to wait it out to see what would happen.

You see, when puppies are first kenneled, they also go through a period of separation anxiety. (So do human babies, but I'll leave the child rearing to actual parents!)   Typically the best thing to do with a puppy is to let them just cry and doesn't hurt them and eventually they learn that all is well, their people come back, and they are safe.  If the people decide the crying is too much for them and come down to comfort the puppy, the puppy is then reinforced in the negative behavior. This ISN'T a good thing! It prolongs the training period!

I had this in mind last night, but had to realize that since I am in a townhome with neighbors on three sides, well....I had to make a decision.  I thought back to my greyhound and how I'd given him the courtesy of spending his first night with him downstairs in the livingroom. The first few nights, in fact.  Granted, Bear isn't going to be my dog, but what I did for my grey helped him to settle in a little more comfortably, knowing he wasn't alone in an unfamiliar place, and I never had problems with him.

So I grabbed my pillow and blanket and spent the night on the couch. Bear was a little appeased, but not entirely. He calmed enough to stop barking, although did punctuate the night with a few barks, growls, and Chewbacca conversations.  (He has a very lovely singing voice! If this can be harnessed, he can stand in for any future Wookies as a voice-over!)

This morning when I got up, I decided to forgo the coffee that is usually my primary concern, and just decided to get ready for work.  During the time I took to take my shower and get dressed, I didn't hear a peep out of Bear.  I wondered if maybe it had to do with the lights....was he accustomed to always being in a lighted area?  Is this dog....afraid of the dark? The silence?  Maybe just the lack of a pack of howling dogs to chat with around him?

I went to work but came home early today, bringing things with me to do from home. Thankfully this week I have that ability. It won't always be so.  It's not USUALLY so!

Thank God I came home!  He had bent the kennel door inward and jammed it. The latch had been undone, but the hooks were still in place.  I had to work a bit to get him out!

Now, SOME of this might just be a "German Shepherd" thing.  When I first got my own German Shepherd (my present one), she was an escape artist and delicately opened the kennel gate without doing any damage. I learned quickly that she could not be kenneled. I also learned that as long as she didn't have free run of the whole house, she was generally well-behaved (although a few things were sacrificed as can be predicted.).

I'd be willing to give Bear the benefit of that doubt, except for two reasons:

1.    There is absolutely NO evidence that he is familiar with house training.  Although he has not "marked" anything else since his arrival last night, I don't think he can be trusted yet to know where the potty is SUPPOSED to go.  He seems to have no idea, while on the leash, that he's supposed to be relieving himself.  When he does, it's incidental, more dominant behavior than actual understanding that it's potty time.  Unlike my dog.

2.  He's not yet neutered.  Would YOU let an intact stud canine run around your house KNOWING that he's not house trained yet?

So we are at an impasse...I can't trust him outside the kennel yet, and he clearly doesn't like being IN it!

Now, none of this should be taken to mean he has actual separation anxiety.  Overall, what I'm seeing is general Shepherd traits, and I am finding he is willing to let me go out of his sight as long as he knows where I am. This is typical new-dog behavior.  When I go into the kitchen, for example, he might follow and check to see where I am, but then he'll find a dog bed and lie down on it until I return or peek around the corner to make sure he isn't peeing on my theology books.

This afternoon we took a nice walk since the city finally "plowed" the sidewalks, making them passable.  Bear really didn't seem interested in doing his business, but just kept looking up at me as if to ask, "What are we doing now? Am I good? Am I a good boy? Where are we going?  What now?"

I don't think he's ever been outside of a dog run before.  Bear is absolutely FASCINATED by my TV, doesn't know how to walk on my pergot floor and was hesitant to go up the stairs this morning when I decided to introduce him to the upper level.

But he is sweet, he's willing, and although still very timid and prone to shying away, he's also very much trying to please and seems to be enjoying being curled up on the rug or dog bed.

On the Stinkyness....

He's still pretty stinky. It's not his fault.  I did recall I have some "waterless" dog bath powder I keep on hand, decided to try it. It helped just a little, but he's so filthy his fur is hanging on to the powder so I can't wash it out!  His skin is also very dry and I think I'll be adding some olive oil to his hamburger and rice mash this evening.  When I get his rabies certificate sent to me, I can maybe take him in to the groomer's for a good bath. A REALLY good bath!

He's skin and bones but I hope to get him fattened up, his coat shiny, and see what he's like when he's got some real German Shepherd confidence!

Those of you who have seen the movie "Seabiscuit" might remember Tom Smith's lines, two of which come into play here:

"Heck, he's so beat up it's hard to tell what he's really like!"


"You don't throw a whole life away because he's beat up a little bit."

Bear is going to be an awesome pet. I look forward to sharing with you all what he's really like.  Already he's settling down and reminding me that, indeed....lives shouldn't be thrown away just because they're a little beat up.


Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Wow, you have taken on a lot and Bear is so lucky yo have landed in your caring hands!

I am glad he didn't pee on your theology books. LOL. That was funny.

I remember so well when Sallie came home. Shiba had to show her the ropes and tell her where to pee and who was in charge. We were fortunate that Sallie seemed to be somewhat house trained already. Shiba did the rest. You don't sound so lucky with Bear.

Sallie also came to us with dry skin, bones showing, shyness and worms. We had to bathe her the second day she was here. It was just too gross--she had come from the pound. She is now a gorgeous, long-haired, affectionate, fun-loving mutt with a puffy tail. She's still a little shy with strangers (hides if they come in the house), but after a year, she has adopted US.

Keep up the great work! I do believe God sends us our pets for a reason.

Adoro said...

Katherine ~ Oh, I hope he's lucky! I really am intimidated and hope both not to have things wrecked by stud-dog pee, and also not to wreck HIM while trying to help him!

I don't think he reads, but I hope he loves God so won't pee on theology books. Unfortunately, the only books I have in peeing distance and in my whole lower floor are...theology books. GOOD ones! Reference materials! I NEED these things!

I'd bathe this guy (because he is that grossly dirty) but he's so afraid of having his paws handled, he's so timid, and knowing how my own well-adjusted dog hates the tub, well...I think I'm stuck with a dirty dog. I AM trying to contrive a water-and-bucket idea that will involve a small systematic washing in the upstairs bathroom. I have sponges, I have shampoo...I have a flea comb and have to think that SOMETHING will help!

Oy, what I'd give to just have a shower room right now, or a laundry room with a drain in a basement floor!

Hmm...maybe I should check with some nearby friends and see if they have a dog-washable setup in their homes...and are willing to help!

Melody K said...

I remember giving our German Shepherd a bath outdoors in the summer. I got him all nice and squeaky clean, but not yet dry. Then he went and rolled in the dirt. What a mess! The best way to get him clean in the summer was to take him to the lake. It had a nice sandy beach, no mud. He loved to go there. Winter was another story. I'm afraid he just stayed dirty.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

Go ahead and giggle, but what really works for us is showering WITH our dogs--one at a time, of course.

We have a shower stall with a door, which helps prevent escapes. It seems to calm them to have us in there getting clean with them.

Our larger dog is about 33 pounds and she's pretty long. Don't know if your big pooch would fit in the shower with you, but it's something to think about...or at least visualize and laugh!

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: Have you ever seen mange on a dog before (there are varying severities but there is one type that can be contagious to dogs and humans)? When you mentioned his dry skin and now I'm recollecting his filthiness-these are prime conditions for mange. Is he scratching or biting at any areas? Do they look red or does the hair look thin? Problem areas are down by the tail but you can see it elsewhere as well.

My Angel just poked me to mention this. Not trying to freak you out but just concerned.

I had a dog once who developed the severe mange and it is really difficult to erradicate.

allie said...


In reference to your seeing God all over this situation:
Blessed be God in ALL His Designs"

Also, your stories about "Bear" and your other pup are touching to me- as I am a bit partial to German Shepherds...both canine and Papal.

Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year to you, Adoro- keep up the good work!

Adoro said...

Cathy ~ It's NOT Mange. It's dandruff. My dog gets it when I don't brush her enough. It's the same kind of dry skin you and I get especially in the winter. Nothing to worry about.

Believe me, I'm on the alert for EVERYTHING and they tend to check dogs over pretty well. If they need something up front, it's gotten.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ok, cool. Dandruff-yeah! Much better than mange. Poor sweetie though. Give him a hug for me if you can manage it before he pulls away. Big honey dog. It makes me cry to think how he was probably treated.

Adoro said...

He is a big honey. >A big STINKY honey, needs massive dental work done, which will probably happen same time they neuter him. And I still can't bathe him as I don't have a copy of his rabies certificate.

I've wiped him down a few times, though, and that has helped.