Friday, March 30, 2012
Kyra is a four year Pit Bull who has been at the shelter for a few weeks. Apparently she was quite emaciated when she came in so the shelter staff had to restore her to health before she could participate in normal volunteer interactions. When I looked in and saw her totally joyful expressive face, I knew I just had to get to know her better. She is now big and and strong; getting a collar on this bouncy, happy four year old, who is very puppy-like, was challenging. She came romping out the back of her kennel, thankfully she loves to obey and quickly sat on command while I put on her collar. Kyra's kennel is at the very end of the row furthest from the doors to the main hall. We had barely started up the row when it seemed like every dog we passed barked and lunged at her (from their kennels). She barked and tried to lunge back. This is bad enough behavior for any dog, but in my opinion, completely unacceptable for a Pit Bull. They have enough image problems. I didn't know what I was going to do but I vowed right then that this was not going to happen on our return.
As we went through the doors and down the hall Kyra had a cheerful sniff and wag for everyone she met. We began our walk in the exercise yard. Kyra did a little wandering and sniffing but her joy is being connected to you and performing for treats. She eagerly sits, goes down, and comes to you, with enormous enthusiasm.
Once we began our walk it was great to see that she is not only wonderful on the leash, she also maintains a very close mental connection. Every time you talk to her she looks around at you and wags. We had a great walk, but I was starting to feel a little apprehensive about our return "down the doggy gauntlet".
Back at the shelter just before we entered the dog area, I stopped and, for lack of a better idea, told her that she had to walk quietly to her "house" and watch me and she would get a treat. As we started down doggy row, I just kept telling her what a good dog she was; she kept watching me and walked all the way to her kennel with out making a sound or a move toward the other dogs, despite their aggressive behavior toward her. Once safely in her kennel with a treat, she exploded in wags and wiggles. She is an amazing dog.
The sign said that Chip was a Miniature Schnauzer who had been surrendered due to his high energy level. Here was this small gray furry creature curled up quietly on his bed; he was slow to get up to come to the front of his kennel to say hello. This was just day two for Chip at the shelter, maybe he would behave more like a normal Schnauzer out on our walk. Just a note; I've been walking Freida McMinn (a typical high energy Miniature Schnauzer) quite often. I know high energy when I see it. As I got to the back of his kennel to put on the collar, he was hesitant but eventually came close enough for me to get him collared. We set off down the hall.
Our first stop was the exercise yard, after taking care of business I just let him wander. Fortunately he is sufficiently interested in treats that, after some encouragement, he sat on command and came to me on command. I got the feeling that these were things he remembered but had not done for a long time. Chip was fine on the leash but walked just like a normal small dog, he did not bounce along like a terrier. After about 20 minutes he turned around and wanted to go back; he preferred the area at the front of the shelter near the parking lot. I've now had this happen several times with new arrivals. I think they are looking for whoever left them at the shelter.
Once back in his kennel he settled in quietly. Chip is a sweet little dog who may still be very traumatized by his transition. At present he is certainly NOT high energy for a Miniature Schnauzer, medium level at best - I have no idea what his former owners were referring to. Let's hope he gets a nice forever family soon - and some grooming!
Cora was adopted earlier this week - at last. As you know, it usually takes longer when the dog is part Pit Bull, since potential adopters must supply proof of property ownership. This adoption is special because her adopter is a shelter volunteer thus really knows what a super dog she is.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Both Ethan and Allen have been adopted though not together. At just eight months old I'm sure they are very adaptable to separate homes. Let's hope their new families can keep up with them.
Gus's hunger strike lasted just about two days but he is still taking advantage. This morning he left his breakfast untouched for about 40 minutes coming in to look at me pitifully intermittently. He eventually ate it. Gus thanks you for all your concern (at bottom in his younger days)
Tullio is now awaiting adoption with a Border Collie rescue group. I think this will be good for him as most of the rescue groups I know of are foster home environments. Tullio has been the only dog I've encountered here who has seemed stressed by the kennel environment even though he has had the same amount of care and affection from the staff and volunteers as all of the other dogs I've walked. I'm sure he will do well in this new situation.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Not many dogs eligible for a volunteer walk, an adequate number of doggy volunteers plus many more sweet kitties needing some company found me standing in the cat area waiting for my assignment. Two little boys with Bat Man capes (ages 3 and 5) were visiting along with their Mom and working their way down the wall of cats in their kennels. The boys were peeking in at each cat hoping for some response. They hit the jackpot with Allen. He hurled himself tirelessly at the front of his cage, flipped on his back, pressed his face through the cage, in short, did all he could possibly do to connect with these little boys as well as connect with me. On the extrovert scale of 1 to 10, he was a 12. Ethan and Allen are eight month old kitties, best pals and, I think, brothers. They are fairly new shelter arrivals so the volunteer who knows the most about the cat area suggested I spend some time playing with them in a get-acquainted room.
As I entered, they both went flying up the cat post, Ethan stayed on one of the platforms watching me but Allen ran inside the cubbyhole and hid. I will never understand cats. Being kittens, they both quickly decided that chasing a sparkly wand toy around the room was worth the risk so the games began. Within a short time they had lost their shyness, especially Ethan, and were doing well with getting pets and kitty treats. Ethan seems the bolder and is definitely more interested in treats. Allen seems to follow Ethan's lead in discovering new things to try. They are a super sweet pair. Let's hope they find a new family where they can be together.
Bonnie (age 5) and Simone (age 6) were also in a playroom together; they are more mature and were just enjoying a change of scenery. Bonnie has lived with dogs and other cats so my walking into the room and approaching her did not rattle her at all. She was very happy to just have someone talk to her and pet her; she is a beautiful laid-back cat and so photogenic. There is a cute video of her at the Humane Society website. She is such a responsive cat, so very happy for your attention.
Simone is also a sweetie but more timid than Bonnie. I actually approached Simone first but she seemed a little uncomfortable so I started with Bonnie instead. Simone was content just to watch Bonnie getting petted. Just before I had to leave, I approached Simone again and she was now very happy to be petted; I was sorry to be out of time. She had clearly been taking her cues from watching Bonnie react to me.
Now the bad news... Gus began a hunger strike when I got home last night and it continues. CATS!!!!!
Good Dog will resume doggy reporting the next time I go to the shelter.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Amidst all the noise of a busy Tuesday morning one gravelly sounding little bark stood out, it was Macie (left). She and her sister Dot (jacket) are nine year old fox terriers, as different as night and day. I started with Macie; I assumed that since she was so vocal about getting my attention, she would be ready at her back door to meet me. Wrong. As soon as I opened it she backed away, and it took lots of coaxing and a sneaky grab to finally get the collar on her. Once out in the corridor things were not much better. All the barking scared her and she insisted on ducking in every open door or slight opening we passed. It was slow going, but we finally made it outside - and I did not have to carry her. Once outside she seemed happy enough to be walking around but she was most content in the parking lot sniffing tires and greeting people as they got in and out their cars. We did a short walk into the open area near the shelter then stopped at the exercise yard, however it was cold, windy and the parking lot looked awfully good to Macie. As were returning to her kennel, she seemed a little braver but was still okay with getting back to safety of her blanketed bed. I did not know what to expect when I went over to the other section to get Dot.....
Dot thinks she is a German Shepherd. As I opened her back door, she eagerly popped into the collar as if to say "it's about time". She looked especially cute strutting down the corridor in her little gray jacket. Out by the front desk a big dog (being held/leashed by a visitor) lunged at her. She completely ignored it. Once outside we went toward the exercise yard but it was occupied by two Dobermans having a "meet and greet"; they stopped their play and came over toward the fence to check out Dot. She glanced their way then just continued along, this was her walk and she was going to enjoy it. I don't know when I have seen a dog of any size with the chutzpa of Dot. We continued out into the open desert, both Macie and Dot are very good on the leash. On our return the exercise yard was vacant so I thought we would go in for some fetch. Dot's profile indicated she enjoyed this game. Dot had other plans, she just followed me around then when I sat on the bench she wanted to cuddle on my lap. This little dog knows exactly what she wants and her new owner better pay attention. Back at her kennel, Dot did not want her walk to be over, but shopping called.
Macie and Dot are nine but very energetic. Since fox terriers are a long lived breed I think their new owner(s) could look forward to many fun years with either or both of them; they even like cats.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
A sunny Saturday, lots of volunteers, lots of potential adopters but just a few dogs. In fact, although Tullio had just returned from a walk, he was about it; the other walkable dogs were out taking walks. There are of course other dogs at the shelter but several are on "stray hold" so they are not yet eligible for a volunteer walk.
Tullio is a big good looking border collie around two years old. Our son Doug has a border collie so I was expecting a high energy bounce when I opened his back door to put on the collar. Tullio just stood quietly while I collared him but then seemed eager once we started down the hall. Whenever I walk a working breed such as hunting or herding, I use an extra long leash then just let them kind of do their thing. For about the first fifteen minutes he continually weaved back and forth as he walked along, maintaining eye contact with me as a good herd dog should do. It was almost like he was herding an invisible flock of sheep - weird. Despite this he is fine on the leash; very easy to walk.
After I returned him to his kennel and was out in the hall washing my hands, I looked up and saw that a volunteer was taking him out for his third walk of the day and it was barely noon! Tullio is going to sleep well tonight. I hope Tullio finds a home where he can be a working ranch or farm dog. He seems well suited for rugged herding work.
There is a cute video of Tullio at the Humane Society website but I could not get it forwarded to you.
Sunday, March 4, 2012
By 12:30 on a sunny Saturday all the dogs had been on volunteer walks, so I just went looking for whoever seemed especially cute. Cora won by a landslide. She is a retriever / pit bull mix, about two years old and has a non stop tail. As I opened her back door to put on the collar, I noticed her sweet quiet temperament. Though her back door was open, she just stood still waiting for me to get her collar secured while her tail slowly flopped back and forth.
Once we were outside we went immediately to the open desert area since the exercise yard was occupied. Cora is all muscle and, thankfully, also wonderful on the leash; no pulling at all. In fact she is so compliant she seems to wait to see where you want to go, then happily trots along. I typically like to do obedience at the beginning of the walk in the exercise yard but on Saturday I had to check her out on the trail. Cora is so eager to please she did just fine, easily sitting and going down on command while on our walk.
We had an extra long walk, by midway we had made it out to near Route 27 where the main path goes around one of many rock outcroppings then gets confusing. Many of you know where I'm going with this, I can get lost ANYWHERE. I figured we would walk down to 27 and see if the sidewalk continued this far north. It did not. I was not about to take Cora near a busy road with no sidewalk so we turned around and I assumed with her sense of smell, she could get us to the main path we used earlier. Cora, being the sweet and compliant dog I now knew she was, waited for me to indicate where I wanted to go. Not a good idea. I had my phone, I could always call someone at the shelter to come out but as a last ditch idea, I gave Cora the equivalent of a "giddiup", actually an enthusiastic "let's go". She took the lead and got us directly back onto the right path. On the way back to the shelter one of the roads has a waist high gate across it; Cora walked up to it, stopped then turned around and looked at me. She is such a tuned in, considerate dog, I think she was waiting to see if I wanted to go under it or have both of us walk around it.
Once we were near the shelter, the exercise yard was free so we ended our outing with fetch. She is very good at it. Cora seems to be endowed with great people skills, however according to her profile she also likes other dogs and cats. She is going to make someone a wonderful companion.