Or maybe The Two Tails of a Hunter?
Or maybe Two Heads Are Better Than One For Hunting?
Whatever the answer – the WooTWoo have finally sorted out their hunting regime, and I have figured out how, while they are onedog samedog, they are subtly different.
TWooie likes to hunt. He likes the thrill of the chase and it makes him very, extremely, over the top happy / excited to hunt stuff. This is his Happy Hunting Face:
Unlike Woo, TWooie is a Loud Hunter. BARKBARKBARKBARKBARK all the way. He thrashes through the undergrowth and sounds like 10 TWoos Hunting when he does. I am always kind of surprised when he manages to catch something, because what prey animal with an ounce of self preservation does not hear that coming a mile away? But catch things he does!
Woo likes to hunt because there is a pay-off – Eating. If he can catch it, he can eat it. He is a more silent hunter than his brother … he disappears into the pokies and you neither hear nor see him again until he’s good and ready to reappear. Hunting also makes him very happy. This is his “Where’s The Bunny?” face:
Often times the only reason I know that the WooTWoo is hunting is because I hear TWooie’s very distinctive hunting bark and turn around to find Woo already long gone, vanished into the bushes, and TWoo trying to bully his way into the undergrowth whilst yelling his head off.
After months of practice, the WooTWoo have finally sorted out their Hunting Symbiosis. It goes like this:
Woo disappears into the undergrowth and scares up something small and furry. TWoo remains on the perimeter and when he spies whatever Woo scared up he gives voice. Woo continues to slink around at top speed, but invisibly, which confuses the prey who is running from Loud TWoo. Woo can hear where the prey is thanks to TWoo, and the prey can’t see Woo but keeps accidentally running into him and gets more panicked. Eventually, in the confusion, it runs into TWoo’s jaws. TWoo kills it. While Twoo is protecting his prize from Everyone Else, Woo eats it.
This is very interesting to watch. But it’s also confusing. It’s confusing because Woo eats everything and is getting skinnier, but TWoo expends more effort, eats nothing, and is getting fatter!
I am beginning to think that the WooTWoo’s cosmic connection runs much deeper than human understanding. I now believe that they share a gravitational force between them; there is only one amount of mass for the WooTWoo and they share it. If Woo loses it, TWoo gains it and vice versa. After months of dieting, Woo is now at his target body weight – his dock diving instructor even said that he was “nice and thin” (me=chuffed!). After months of dieting and steadily slimming down, with no change in his diet, TWoo is now suddenly getting fatter.
It. Drives me. Insane. Perhaps there is no point in trying to figure it out. I should just accept the mystery of the WooTWoo.
And speaking of getting fatter – after lots of trial and error, I have found some stuff for Dex’s diet that are encouraging a little bit of weight gain. Oatmeal, yams and beef suet seem to be doing the trick. While he remains a dog “with a head too large for his scrawny little body”
He is starting, at long last, to fill out. Soon it will be time to go in and find his shy testes.
I doubt he’d be so happy if he knew my plans for him!
We have one for West.
It’s been a harrowing week or so while I weighed my various options with this poor creature. I introduced him last weekend to a potential adopter, and she spent an hour with us being non-threatening on a walk. He spent the entire hour menacing her and threatening to bite. I’ve no doubt that had he been off leash, he would have. It gave me a great deal of pause because adopting him out to the general public (the potential adopter was someone I know, not a random applicant) would be like giving a hand grenade to a 12 year old as a gift – IOW, very irresponsible of me to do. I did read all your comments and emails and appreciate them all, even if I didn’t answer them all.
Someone has stepped up for West and I think it represents his best chance at rehab, IF rehab is in fact possible for him. I am not totally convinced that it is possible, and neither is the behaviourist who has agreed to take him and try to work with him. But West was down to 3 options –
1) Euthanasia. Yes, it would be a shame. Yes he is cute, and young, and it would be sad. But it’s probably also the most practical solution.
2) An extremely limited life here with me. And that would also be a shame. Because he would be limited by his own issues and wouldn’t get to go anywhere other than my farm, and often on leash only. This seems like a poor choice for an energetic adolescent border collie with some considerable smarts. This option would be all wrapped up in the problems of my limited time for yet another permanent dog and the amount of personal energy I could offer him, and in what ways his limitations would limit my other dogs. Not a solution.
3) One last kick at the can with someone who has the skill and time to work with him. We hope with the intervention of behavioural modification and drug therapy, his default reaction to strangers can be indifference or even sociability and he could go on to live a more normal life. This is what we opted to try. It does not mean that he won’t be euthanized eventually, because it may be that he can’t be saved and we have both agreed to be honest with ourselves and with each other about that sad potential reality.
I know there are rescuers who think euthanasia for any reason, but especially for behavioural ones, is wrong, end of story, thanks for playing. I am not one of them. I know there are rescuers who have extremely high (or rigid) standards for what can be considered “adoptable” and are quick to euthanize anything that falls outside of those parameters and only adopt out bomb-proof dogs. I am not one of them either. I fall somewhere in between the two because while I rescue because I want to save dogs, I also recognize that dogs are inextricably linked to people, and giving people unsafe dogs is unfair to both the people and the dogs. I only want to hear people say that the dog they got from TDBCR is “awesome” – not for our reputation, but for the reputation of rescue. It pains me to hear people say that rescue dogs are always behavioural or physical messes and that rescuing is a gamble. You know what? It really isn’t. MOST of the dogs I have rescued are simply lovely and if they have come with quirks they are personality quirks, not rescue dog quirks. So for me, I want to put reasonably normal dogs in homes with people who understand them and are a good match for them and facilitate relationships where the people are very proud of their dogs.
The practical solution would be to say goodbye to West and release him from his demons, and keep the public safe from him. But it’s hard to be practical when the dog in question is doing the “Dance With Me!” routine I taught him (where he stands on his hind legs and puts his front legs over his head in the air and wiggles) and then finishes it up with a full body hug. I don’t think I could make West bite me if I tried. Unfortunately, pretty well nobody else on this planet can say that sentence :(
So tomorrow West leaves me for Kamloops, where the sun will either shine for him, or set one last time. I am hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. He’s lost in a real sea of anxiety, this poor fella. Let’s hope, with Courtenay’s help, he can find his way out.
I feel, of course, like an asshole – handing West off to a Scary Stranger feels like a betrayal of his trust in me. I wish I could explain to him why I’m doing it.
I wish you could explain to me why you have omitted me from this entry thusfar?
To alleviate some of my West-guilt, Courtney is bringing me a border collie from her local Animal Control that wants a coveted spot in our rescue. Her name is Unique, but as far as I can tell she is not unique at all – she’s just Dexter in a different coloured tracksuit:
She’s not staying with me but for overnight, and then she’ll be off to her real foster home. In the wake of West, I need a little bit of a break.
And thank you, Courtenay.
Good luck West! I hope it all works out.
I know this must have been a hard decision for you, but for what it’s worth, I think you have completely made the right decision. You are giving him his absolute best chance at a normal, happy life and I totally commend you for it. Please keep us updated on his progress, even if the outcome isn’t the happy one.
Don’t feel that you have betrayed his trust. He found that he could trust and play with you, hopefully now he will learn that he can trust and play with the next person.
Oh my, gonna get teary-eyed. I really hope it works out for West. Good on you two for finding some way to give him a chance. You’ll let us know either way, yes? And you know, go ahead and tell West why you are doing it. You never know how much they pick up from one of those conversations.
LOVE the WooTWoo! You can’t tell me they don’t have it all figured out, at least Woo does. ;-)
Laura L. says
Sheena I feel for you having to make the decision on West. But I’m happy that you had Courtenay to step up to help. Good luck to Mr. West in the future! Between the way that you’ve talked & the lovely pictures you’ve taken of him, he’s become yet another of the dogs I hope you’ll give us an update on.
Laura L. says
I agree with Adrienne. Talk to West about it, I believe that they get more out of those conversations than most people would think.
Good on you, I’d much rather an unsafe dog meet the big dark demise than a perfectly happy pup whose shelter is overcrowded. Trust that it might open up another spot for a perfect dog who’d otherwise meet the same fate.
Hard decision yes, but I’d rather you make it than someone in a time-$ bind.
Keep on, keepin on.
Arwen Lune says
I’m glad that there is an option for West now – the best possible under the circumstances, even though it doesn’t feel great. Good luck to West and his new carer.
Unique has a hilarious “I’m so over this” expression :-D
Good luck West! Fingers crossed that this is just what he needs to get a handle on his fear. It breaks my heart that the world is so difficult for him.
Monique - NEBCR says
Our rescue falls along the same lines as you – we realize very few of our dogs our truly bombproof, but most can be perfectly fine, if not great, in a home that’s the right match for them.
But on occasion we come across one that just can’t be safely rehomed. It’s always a horribly hard decision and one we never take lightly. And for those that question that no healthy dog should be euthanised for being sketchy, unpredictable or otherwise dangerous, I have one question… do YOU want to live with them for the rest of their life? Because if you don’t, how can you expect someone else to step up and take on that kind of risk and liability AND try and find a way to give that dog a good life?
Some of our foster homes have kept sketchy dogs over the years – dogs that had run out of options but were generally fine in their particular setting. But there’s very definitely a limit to how many of those dogs anyone can keep and still have a normal life for them, their family and their other pets.
The sad fact of rescue is that we cannot save or keep them all.
Sending loads of good energy West’s way – truly hoping this last chance does the trick. And no matter what the outcome, I’m so grateful you (and now Courtenay) were there for him to give him a chance.
Sometimes that’s all we can do.
You are doing the best you can for West, I believe in your decision 100%. I’ll be hoping that Courtenay can work with him to make him more comfortable, happy, and thus, adoptable. Thank you both for trying.
Lots of love for West. It is so hard to make those decisions, but I agree with you – it’s just not fair to the dog or the humans when their demons are so big. I believe in the past you have mentioned something about our Zeeke, and I have to say, I’ve thought long and hard about it ever since. It is unfortunate that there are those people out there who would judge someone for making that call if it comes to it, but they’re not going go live with the dog. I really hope that this works for West. If it doesn’t, I wish him (and you) peace.
This weekend we will be spreading the ashes of our recent foster who was too dangerous to adopt out. As we say goodbye to him I will make sure to say a little prayer for West.
Liza Lundell says
Good luck, West, I hope you manage to conquer your demons.
You have done the best that can be done for West – a chance with someone who has the time and expertise to help him. If Courtenay can’t, then you know euthanasia is the right thing. There are worse things than death and living in fear is one of them.
As for rescues who don’t believe in euthanasia, they do so much harm – to the rescue community and to the adopters who fall in love with dogs that are a lifetime problem and who never should have been put up for adoption.
On another level, I hate dogs being singled out as a “rescue” like that conferred some special honor on the person. Especially when it is used to excuse some behavior in the dog that a little bit of training would help.
To return to the issue, I will be wishing for West and Courtenay and you. And, yes, you deserve a break from fosters of any kind for a while – that will give you more time for more pictures and posts.
I am so grateful for all that rescues do for the animals that they are able to save. I don’t think that I could make those types of hard decisions – though I do understand why they are made.
I too will send lots of good energy to West. I wish him all the best and to Courtney, too. Thank you.
Beep,Maxand Poppet says
I pulled a BC from a local shelter who ended up being to wacky in the head. It was one of the hardest things to do to take him back to the shelter, but he wasn’t safe and there are too many good dogs out there that can use the shot at a normal life. Blessings to you!
Thank you for finding a way to give West another chance. It was an unexpected bonus to my day.
Thank you for being honest and compassionate enough to recognize what you could do and couldn’t do for him; and for acknowledging the unacceptability of simply warehousing him with all of his demons.
Thank you for finding a way to make a space for another wonderful rescue dog to come and thrive in your household.
Thank you most of all for teaching him the happy dance. Whatever happens with him, he will have known trust with at least one person.
Best of luck to West. I’m sending positive calming energy to him. I hope he can overcome his demons.
That being said OMG I want Unique so bad! She’s beautiful. *sigh* Someday I will be able to adopt my rescue Border collie.
Good luck to West! May he conquer all demons that have come his way! We know how hard of a decision this is for you to make and hope it all comes out good. Blitz was my foster over 6 years ago and he was in the same position as West, I got lucky and my herding trainer worked with Blitz and we were able to save him, even if he did have to live at her house for a year. I’ll be saying my prayers for West!
I rarely comment but I wanted to wish West good luck and thank you for all you did for him and for all dogs who come through your care. It sounds like you need and deserve the break that you are getting–I’ll be curious to know if Donut’s behaviours will improve (or have they already?) with a little more peace in your house!
Indeed, thanks Courtenay, and thanks to you, too, for giving him one last chance (even if that’s all that it is).
Dexter is such a nice looking dog, by the way.
good luck young West. I kept a people-biter for 5 years and it was rough on everyone ALL the time. btw Tweed don’t fret Piper didn’t make the cut at all!
As the potential adopter: I knew that West was way beyond my ability. He alternated between interest and quiet sit to a desperate desire to get free of the leash and bite me. Watching him out of the corner of my eye I knew that if I had been given the 1000 yard start to my truck he would have chased me to bite as soon as he had been released. There was not a hint of interest in another human other than Sheena except as an enemy and a threat.
I so hope that Courtenay is able to help him past this point. I can see what a sweet little boy he is beneath all that terror and madness.
And I hope for eventual judgment on the people who brought him to this state.
All the best to West. Hoping this ends very well all round.
Katharine Swan says
I agree with you that sometimes euthanasia is the only option. It is sad, but not as sad as him spending the rest of his life like this. Hopefully Courtenay will be able to rehab him, but regardless, I think you made the best decision you could for him.
a wise decision sheena.
and thanks to courtenay for having the courage to give him one more chance.
I’m unclear about why you are concerned with Dexters not putting on pounds. He’s just over a year old, they’re all gangly and leggy for a bit after.
I’ve got a 16 month old GSD pupper who looks ridiculous. His body is sooo disproportionate it’s sad. His head is stupid big, his legs are loooong and lean, his body is lean to the max…but he’s growing into himself.
Hope it all works out for West. Good on you for knowing the correct direction to take him to.
FL, could you try to keep us updated with West? I’m not sure how feasible this is, since I don’t know your relationship with Courtenay, but so many of us out here in the ‘verse are rooting for that pup, and would appreciate knowing how everything pans out. Mitzi and the dog park with him loads of cookies, happiness, and success. And, if he can’t find the happiness on this side of the bridge, may he find it on the other-where no one can ever hurt him again.
If only you knew how an overwhelming number of the people on this planet want to love you and protect you and help you enjoy the marvels of this world.
You would wake up every morning knowing that there is always a hand reached out to caress you or give you a treat; that there is no one single patch of earth that you are confined to; that car’s are great things that blow wind in your fur and take you to exciting new places; and that should you ever hurt yourself, you will be patched up and loved even more. Every dog deserves this.
Good luck in your new world. Don’t be afraid. We are all rooting for you. You did the right thing FL.
I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you to make that decision, but for what it’s worth, I think it’s the right one. I’m glad that West is getting one last chance. Hopefully, it will work out for the best, but even if it doesn’t…remember that you did everything you could for him, and if nothing else, at least during his time with you he got to experience real human kindness, and learned that there was at least one person worthy of his trust and admiration.
And no, “handing him off to a Scary Stranger” is NOT a betrayal of that trust. A real betrayal would be to adopt him out while he’s still terrified of (and a danger to) humans.
I laughed and teared up reading about West doing his happy dance. FL, he learned to love and trust you. He will likely learn to love and trust Courtenay. Even if the Bridge turns out to be the safest and best place for West, he will have know the love and compassion of two people. Safe travels West.
Please keep us posted on his progress.
Poor West, I have my fingers crossed for him.
You did the best for him that you could. If only his original home could say the same thing.
I feel bad for you, but I think you are 100 per cent right about Dexter.
Kudos for making a brave decision. And thanks for taking on the difficult ones.
PS working bred dogs often look like credit cards at this age. All length and height, no width. Handy for fitting into those electronic slots. ;-)
The Food Lady says
Guys, I KNOW that adolescent border collies are often extremely narrow dogs. I have done this before, you know. But if you read back through my posts you will see that a) he is TOO thin, even for an adolescent border collie, which is why I had some concerns about his weight and b) he needs to gain some weight before he can go under for invasive surgery to find his testicles, as it will not be a routine procedure.
yes, thank you Courtenay.
I’ve been wondering for a while FL. How DO you keep your house clean?
For what it’s worth, I think you are doing the right thing with West. And, if truth be told, much more than many other folks in rescue would do. There are some dogs that can not be adopted to the general public. Too damaged by people or by chance.
Does it suck? Fuck yes, it sucks, but the reality of of perfectly (behaviorally) good and healthy dogs being euthanized sucks worse. You have to pick your battles. I am sure that the folks that do complain aren’t going to be in the Euth Room of the local shelter while those healthy dogs get killed.
I hope for West, that he finds peace in this world. And if not, then peace in the next.
As for Dexter being skinny. I wouldn’t worry to much about it. I bet he fills out this year. My Speck is 20.50 inches tall and just got to 30 lbs this year. (For the record, he is fed a king’s diet, but often skips meals and is awfully busy with life. Ya know, one of those dogs that you swear that don’t sleep.).
His testicles were also hiding and had his surgery without an issue when he weighed 28 lbs. One of them was nearly in the correct place and the other one was up by his kidney.
I have a dog who used to be like West. He was 14 months old when I got him. He is now 5 1/2, and while still skittish around new people and places, he has come a looooong way since his fear mode now is nothing more than planting himself between my feet. I can live with that, and so can he because he is not in new situations all that often, For us the critical component was time… not how much time I could spend with him daily, although there was a lot of that, but the fact that there was no specific time frame for his rehabilitation… IOW, not the “you have to be OK by Xmas, Easter, whenever or the sun will set on you”. It was six months before I saw a glimmer, another year of one step forward and two steps back, and almost two years before I was able to see all of this washing off of him little by little each and every day. He is my sweetest boy and I love him like you love Twoo. If I remember from your early posts, it took you a whole lot more than just a fair amount of time to get your beloved Briggs through this as well.
I am heartened by the fact that West has bonded with you so very well and in what seems to be a fairly short amount of time. It makes me think that if he can do it once, he can do it again!
Twelve paws up from TN for West! And blessings to Courtenay!
Please doggie paddle your way out of that sea of anxiety. There are people out there just rooting for you to succeed.
Dear Food Lady and Courtney,
Thank dog you have been there for West. Thank you for documenting his progress and your thought process in doing the best by this dog. Whatever the outcome you have given him a glimpse into how good life can be.
To the previous owners of West,
8 months of benign neglect = bad karma.
Best of luck to West! I hope his new guardian can find a way to work with him. It’s heartbreaking to see a dog that young and handsome, and yet so damaged by abuse and neglect. At least he’ll get another shot at it.
Hoping that the spirit of doG watches over West, and that Courtenay and those who help her can guide him into living in this fur in this world. If not, then the Bridge to the place where there is no fear or pain is truly his path.
You gifted him with care, and gave him HOPE – that if one person can be safe, he can learn to trust other persons as well. And perhaps your dogs have taught him, too – that there are some safe persons in the world, and that he needed to travel on to find his safe persons. As I have learned in working with wounded and suffering humans – HOPE is always what you try to give – tho what is hoped for can change – from hoping for some aspect of life to hoping for comfort and freedom from pain and fear.
Blessings to you, and Courtenay, and to West.
For those who harmed West – no blessings, only the consequences of their deeds, in karma.
TOTALLY agree with every word you said re West, and re rescues in general. You’re some gal, Food Lady :) x
“The practical solution would be to say goodbye to West and release him from his demons, and keep the public safe from him. But it’s hard to be practical when the dog in question is doing the “Dance With Me!” routine I taught him (where he stands on his hind legs and puts his front legs over his head in the air and wiggles) and then finishes it up with a full body hug. I don’t think I could make West bite me if I tried. Unfortunately, pretty well nobody else on this planet can say that sentence :(”
This paragraph more than any other brought on the waterworks. I know it is never easy to decide to put down a dog for behavioral problems, but it is made all the harder when they are completely fine with you. It is hard not to say “well, I could just keep him away from the outside world” even when you know that it isn’t really a feasible or fair option for anyone.
My own reactive dog will have a home with me forever. I can’t imagine parting with him any more than I can imagine parting with my legs or arms. I’m glad that we were able to change our lives to help him get better, and that we were in a place in our lives where that was actually feasible. It is immensely rewarding and immensely frustrating (as you well know).
However. My parents know that if Hubby and I died unexpectedly, I want them to have my boy put down. It would be hard because he loves so many things, including them, and is simply an amazing dog. But he doesn’t deserve to be scared all the time (as he often is at their house, with the amount of visitors they have), and they don’t deserve to be forced into taking in a dog that comes with a lot of work. I know they would try their best, but it wouldn’t be enough. They just don’t have the time, knowledge, understanding, or, honestly, the will to change what they’ve always done with dogs in the past. Sometimes death is the most merciful thing that you can do for everyone.
Hopefully it won’t come to that for West. Good luck to him and Courtenay.