Saturday morning, Race the devil puppy left for his new home, where he has his very own Golden Retriever to play with. I had two glorious hours to myself and then, because idle hands are the devil’s playground, I picked up my next project.
West came with the name “Wesson” as in “Smith &” but I couldn’t bear to call him by such a red-necky sounding name. Not that it really matters what I call him, as he doesn’t know his name anyway, or anything else for that matter. When I speak to him, he generally thinks I’m just talking to hear my own voice and disregards me almost totally. He ignores me so much that at first I wondered if he was deaf. The first night I had him, he fell asleep STANDING UP (literally) and for a while I contemplated that he might be having focal seizures, hence the non-responsiveness and collapsing to the floor. However, a little more time has passed and now I think that West was just really exhausted by the day’s events, too worried to lie down lest TWooie kill him, and he doesn’t listen to me because nobody’s ever spoken to him before.
Lots of dogs are in rescue having experienced nothing more than what we refer to as “benign neglect,” as in their previous owners did not do as much with or for them as they could have, and maybe should have. Those dogs come in a little fat from lack of exercise, or rusty with the old obedience skills, and similar afflictions. A very few dogs come in having suffered serious physical or mental abuse – I know everyone in the world likes to say that their rescue dog was abused before they laid hands on it, but it’s usually not true. There just aren’t THAT many people out there beating the tar out of dogs.
And then there is West. This is one of those times when I wish I could talk to a dog and hear what he has to tell me.
Shut up, Piper.
West is 10 months old; he was sold as a puppy and returned to his breeders, which put them over the bylaw limit for dogs per household (apparently, some people abide by these laws!) so they asked us to take him. Since we are not a dumping ground for breeders, we only agreed to take him when we learned the parents were now neutered. So we know some things about him – what we don’t know is what happened to him in the 8 months he was living with his buyers.
West does not know his name, is not housebroken, is not crate trained. He gets violently car sick. He had urine scald on his thighs, and matts behind his ears that were so thick they had to be cut out, ans his fur is tinged with urine. He fights the leash like a coyote, does not understand traffic, people walking down the street or anything that you would expect a 10 month old dog to know. He will not take food from my hand. It took him 24 hours to decide I was not a threat and he is quite afraid of strangers, especially men. He freezes to stone when his collar is touched. His only useful life skills are speaking dog very well.
So if I had to guess, I would say the folks bought him brought him home, threw him outside in a pen with another, or some other, dogs and left him there for 8 months without interacting with him in any meaningful way, except maybe to periodically flip out on him and shake him around by the collar.
This is the part where I tell everyone that has ever complained about the sometimes tedious process of adopting a dog – the application, the conversations, the reference checks, the home visits – that there is very good a reason we do all this. West is one of those reasons!
Anyway, lucky for West, his life is about to change in a variety of new and interesting ways! I discovered yesterday that he won’t eat cookies, but has developed a fondness for raw meat, so he and I are about to embark on an adventure of force-free training involving us, a clicker and a bag of raw liver chunks :) He is going to learn how lovely life can be when nice people run it for him. In Jason Bourne-like fashion, he assessed the potential threat that was me, decided I was harmless and is now as pleasant with me as anyone could want a dog to be. Even though within 48 hours I’d left him with the strange scary vet to have his testicles removed, he was overjoyed to see me when I collected him this afternoon. I think this bodes well for a promising future between us.
The other dogs are, of course, utterly disgusted with my do-gooder ways. I won’t even repeat what TWooie said when he first saw West come to his door. And to get me back for my transgression, last night when I let everyone out for bed time potties, Woo snuck back in behind me (unnoticed) and hid under the bed – so when I called everyone to come in again a few minutes later, he was nowhere to be found. I spent 45 minutes in the dark and the rain in my pajamas with a flashlight looking for him, only to come inside and find him snoring away on my pillow. *shakes fist at Woo*
Dexter thinks West is alright though, and a much better size for wrestling with than Race was. He is pleased with his gift.
Isn’t it nice to be able to say that Dexter’s issues with other puppies (and periodically, other dogs in general) have totally vanished? He now greets every dog in the world with a happy face. I am so relieved by his personality overhaul! And very grateful. One bad ass in the family is enough (I’m looking at you, TWoo).
I am also very grateful because a little agility club raised a nice sum of money toward Dexter’s complicated, find-the-testicles neuter. I’ve almost enough money squirreled away now for my vet to go in and find those sly little guys. Many thanks to the Pender Island Agility Club!
(if only he knew what was in store for him. *insert evil, maniacal laughter here*)
Our biggest challenge at the moment is overcoming Mr. West’s car sickness. It’s pretty much a guarantee that if I put him in a car, he’s going to vomit. He’s coming to work with me for the next two days so I can keep an eye on him post neuter (and also because he is not housebroken yet!) and I intend to not feed him breakfast until we get to work, but if you have any suggestions for vomit-calming, I’m all ears!
Actually, West is all ears.