We have three rescue dogs. Okay, we have five dogs, three of whom are the product of some sort of rescue. We’ve pretty much always had dogs, but this is the first time we haven’t been dog snobs.
Wad bought our first collie in the 70’s before our son was born. As each dog aged we got a replacement so the current adult could teach the newbee how things are done. We’ve had collies right up until our last one passed away on Valentine’s Day a year ago. Sam taught Patsy (Aussie/Collie cross – no relation) how to do her job.
In addition to Patsy we have Maxter, Patsy’s 3/4 Aussie son who is a truly awesome dog, intelligent, handsome, regal, calm and restrained. He is the easiest of dogs because he is both smart AND willing to obey.
Our first rescue dog is a part hound named Happy, because she truly is a happy dog. We have had her about 2 years. She came to us looking like a hat rack, horribly thin from being locked in an apartment with only toilet water to sustain her. She’s an awesome dog, and until Chloe came, was our primary alert dog.
Chloe came to us in good health but with significant behavioral issues. She barked all the time, was aggressive and overprotective, killed cats and fought with other dogs. She fits right in here. Chloe is third in our pack’s hierarchy. She tried to take on the two older dogs when she first arrived, but they’ve been a pack for a long time and take her on together which keeps her in her place.
Chloe’s got good role models in the older dogs and a real friend in Happy. Though Happy’s been here longer she’s happy to have Chloe over her in the pecking order and as first alert dog. Happy has a short coat and isn’t suited to laying out in the rain and snow on guard duty. Chloe has a coat like a chow or husky, very thick with a dense undercoat very suited to northwest winters. Her mouth is purple under the tongue which leads me to believe she might be part chow, though she’s quite a bit bigger than the chows I’ve seen. She came to us as a shepherd/aussie cross, but I’m just not seeing it. The disposition is wrong, the attitude is wrong and the coat is wrong for that cross.
Chloe’s an excellent first alert dog. Because the other dogs don’t bark unless there’s a problem they provide a good meter for the validity of her bark and she’s conformed her behavior to their standard. She protects the chickens, doesn’t bother the cats and is really enjoying life on the farm. She still flinches occasionally when I reach for her, a product of previous bad handling, but that will pass. She stays in the truck with the other dogs when we go on rides and has attached herself to Terry as his dog. Life is good.
Our latest rescue is our first inside dog, a little Toy Rat Terrier named Chuck. He came to us as Charlie, but he really is a Chuck. You’ll just have to trust me on this one . . .
Chuck had horrible ear mites, external scarring on both eyes, was in really poor health and was terribly afraid of people. We didn’t think he had a voice for the first six weeks we had him. He never made a sound. Now he growls or barks if the big dogs bark, he barks if we have goodies he thinks we should share, barks if he wants up and I’m ignoring him, he barks if someone comes in who isn’t family or Terry comes in carrying something that looks strange. I don’t mean to imply he’s noisy, but he does communicate, which can include bouncing his front feet noisily on the rug to get our attention. That’s pretty awesome, considering where he started with us.
For the first two weeks we had him I had to chase him down to pick him up or touch him. There are benefits to having a small house. He didn’t have a lot of room to run. After two weeks he realized I wouldn’t quit until I got him and stopped running so much/so far. At that point he was okay if I only reached for him with one hand. Try and pick a very unwilling 7 lb dog up with one hand . . . SO not happening.
It took about six weeks to house break him. In the beginning I’d take him out, put him in a small pen in the yard, wait for him to do his business and then take him back in. This went on through snow, storm, cold, wet, typical yucky northwest winter weather. After a couple weeks I could open the slider and tell him to go out and he’d go . . . reluctantly if it was cold, even more reluctantly if it was wet. If the weather was nice I could put a temporary pet door in the slider and he’d come and go on his own.
In the beginning I couldn’t do much to help him understand our house was not a bathroom. He had already been so traumatized any discipline would add to the trauma. At night I’d invert a laundry basket over his bed to keep him in it until I could put him out first thing in the morning. The best I could do was get him out and give him the opportunity. To clean up after him I filled a spray bottle with rug cleaning solution and a spray bottle of deodorizing enzymes and developed a routine: blot up the moisture, spray rug cleaner, rub, clean up with the hand steamer/vacuum, then spray the spot with deodorizing enzymes. Fortunately our rug is cream colored and the spots showed up easily. After weeks of telling him he MUST go outside, and cleaning up the messes he made inside, he “got it”. He is now fully house broken and uses the cat door to go out. No more accidents in the house, no more opening and closing doors.
Chuck’s a go dog. If I’m going somewhere, he wants to go. In the beginning it was separation anxiety, but now he’s having fun. He’d like to be included in doing the shopping at the farm store and the garden store and the hardware store and . . . He’s just not quite there yet. He panics and heads back to the truck if someone approaches when he’s on the ground, though he’s okay if I’m holding him. I’m sure time will fix this as well. I can take the big dogs with me so he feels more secure but I may cut that down to just one dog, maybe Happy or Patsy. All four big dogs is a bit much. I can count on Happy or Patsy to take care of him. Hmm. Maybe Max would be a better choice . . . big dog role model instead of mother figure. Hmm. Max is mister cool, calm and obedient. He might be the best choice and it would be good for his ego. Being the lone male in a pack of females can be trying.
Chuck’s taken to snatching naps beside Terry in Terry’s recliner. He doesn’t want Terry to reach out and touch him, but he’s willing to share his chair. That’s progress.
So we’ve developed a bit of a routine. Because I’m at my desk most of the time I build a bed in the corner of my desk using a fabric wrapped sheet of foam around two sides of a foam pillow. Chuck sleeps there covered with an old armless True Value sweatshirt and snuggled up to a warmed up rice bag. When I’m not at my desk he’s in a bed in front of the quartz heater in the living room or laying in the sun inside the sliding glass door. As the weather gets warmer/dryer he is spending more time outside. I don’t know what he hunts when he goes on his forays, but his little nose is to the ground as he follows interesting scents. I’m awaiting the day when he actually catches something. That’ll be fun.