| It was March 1st, 2003, the second anniversary of SheaShea's departure for the Rainbow Bridge, when I made my first trip to the animal shelter in six years. Given the date, I'd say it was providential that after all the Dalmatians they've had there, and all they've had to destroy, this was the one they called me about. In addition to the timing, which couldn't have been better for several reasons, this particular dog bears an uncanny resemblance to Bud, one of the first Dals I picked up there, back in 1987.
Snoopy had been left in the drop-box about a week before. The only information left there was his name, so his age remains a mystery. He seems to have been well cared for, and socialized, too. He had one chance for a new home last week, but made the mistake of peeing on the man's leg.
My first problem in getting a new dog was where to put him. Was he used to being outside? Has he had his shots? My quarantine pen is currently full of snow, ice, and junk, so I couldn't put him there, even just to potty. A crate in the basement away from the others was the best I could do. They gave him shots at the shelter, but not until the day I picked him up. Too late to protect him if he was exposed to parvo.
The second consideration was food. What was he used to? What did he eat at the shelter? I took a plastic bag with me to bring some of theirs home with me and FORGOT to do it! The best thing to do now was to give him small amounts until the necessary flora developed in his intestines, in order to avoid a lot of diarrhea. Snoopy, wasn't very interested in food at first though. Another new situation in such a short time! What was going to happen to him next, he wondered! I wish I could tell him he's safe, and comfort him for the upheaval in his life.
I've had dogs that were so hungry when they got here that they'd eat anything. And I've had some that were too nervous to eat, and some that were used to getting whatever they wanted. My remedy for the latter is to offer the food, leave it for about 20 minutes, and remove what hasn't been eaten. The dog learns that this is what he gets and he only has so much time to eat it. Works like a charm! About the third day, his survival instinct kicks in. He may try the starvation thing again after he's eaten a good meal, but he will find the rules have not changed.
Food is an important part of our relationship. It isn't a popularity contest, so I won't be cooing and hand-feeding and raiding the fridge for goodies, and otherwise groveling for his affections. His primal instinct is for food, and in a pack or group, it is the alpha member who gets first dibs. He will learn that he is not the alpha member by the fact that he is not in control of food. I am, and that makes me pretty significant in the scheme of things.
He will learn it also from the way I handle him. For now, Snoopy is never off leash when out of the crate. He goes from crate to pen on leash, and he's already learning not to pull. He's no longer in charge of where he goes or how fast. Another deference to the alpha member. How did he learn this? By the work we've done with the 15 foot leash.
I really like this dog. I want to kiss and cuddle and spend a lot of time with him, but it's too soon for all of that. First things first. Right now he's on overload with all of the new things to adjust to; things to see and smell and explore. It remains to be seen if he will get along with other dogs, and if he can pass Housetraining 101. And now it's time for Snoopy's walk....
|Snoopy Comes Home|
|Copyright 2004 Carole J Sulser|
|~ ABC Dog School ~|