Friday, May 12, 2006
Nearly a week ago our lives changed. We went to dinner at Chris' mom's house for her birthday (Happy Birthday to both Moms!) and she had an unexpected guest. In her window I saw a white faced dog jumping up and down trying to see out and/or escape.
He had picked her car in the grocery parking lot and tried to eat her hot dog buns. She invited him in and he accepted. She spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what to do with him and was pretty stressed by the time we got there. Her friend came to visit and said he looks like a Hank. He pooped in her bedroom. We kept him on a leash for the entire evening and took turns holding it. Because it was Saturday there were no shelters open but our friend Syl offered to try him in her fenced backyard for the night. So after a long day we drove him up to her house hoping that he might be a good fit for them.
7:30 the next morning she called to say he'd been escaping repeatedly all night. He pooped in her house too. OK, bring him down and we'll keep him until Monday. Chris took him next door to his dad's place so he could hang with their dogs and be in a large fenced yard. He did pretty well over there until he pooped in their house too. Not looking good for old Hank! I was away all day working at my mom's and when I returned the dog was in our house with Chris. I sat down on the floor and the dog immediately put his head on my feet and fell asleep. Have I mentioned that he is a puppy? And that he's totally adorable? And friendly, and very tolerant of the kids, and loves people? Still, we both agreed that he was gone ASAP. Chris spent the night sleeping with Hank's leash in his hand so if he needed to go out he'd wake Chris up. It was also the first night outside for the chicks so it was actually good for Chris to wake up a few times to check on them. So Monday we got a paper, scoured the neighborhood for signs, took him to get scanned for a chip, and made some more calls. Meanwhile he started to be a pretty good dog. He responded well to "no", stayed close most of the time, and didn't poop in our house!
By Tuesday we had had no luck finding an owner. We had also decided that we couldn't send him to the pound. Here's the best part: he's an Australian Shepherd. He has strong instincts for herding. This was very clear as he had much more of an interest in the cows and sheep than in the baby chicks. He also likes to nip the kids' heels as they run through the house. He needs a place where he can work and run. Gee, did we know of a place like that? Slowly the idea that he might stay began to creep into our minds.
On Wednesday he actually helped me return a wandering cow to her pasture! She tried to run past me and he turned her around and got her going the right way. Without his help I would have been running all over that field. But that evening he got in with the sheep repeatedly and chased them around their pasture. One step forward and two steps back for Hank.
By Thursday he was doing much better with the sheep--still getting in there but stopping when we scolded him. I had been online looking for dog training info and started to use some of the techniques with him. He took to it immediately, learning very fast. Our friend Jean came over with a crate for him and some accessories and said she thought he'd be a great dog. She also told me about the BARF (Bones and Raw Food) diet which really appeals to me and makes a lot of sense. I checked the classifieds again and found an ad for a lost male aussie shepherd and I have to admit my heart sank a bit. But the ad was for a dog who had one blue eye and one brown--Hank's are both brown.
Today I researched food sources for BARF and got Hank a pinch collar. We went for a walk around the neighborhood and he learned to heel very quickly. The main problems I am having are with him leaving the property (which is dangerous because our neighbors who own livestock have every right to protect it which often means lethal force) and with keeping Eliza from being too rough with him. He's very tolerant of it, but even the nicest dog has his limits. So, as with the other animals, constant vigilance is necessary. Also I haven't dared leave him alone yet. He is woefully unhappy when left alone and that is when he'll destroy things or poop in the house. Chris has been in the field the last two nights, so unless Hank can come with us we haven't gone anywhere (like the grocery store for example). He is becoming more comfortable with his crate so pretty soon I'll try locking him up in it for short periods. And he can always visit the dogs at Chris' dad's if they are home.
With Chris away it has been a comfort to have a dog in the house. He has also really bonded to me and seems quite sure this is his home. So now I accidentally have a blog AND a dog.