Thursday, March 24, 2011
Say hello, Theo!
Theo is half Standard Poodle, half Jack Russell Terrier - not the prettiest of conception moments to visualize but something that yielded a perfectly lovely creature with an IQ higher than mine.
He's about two years old and was rescued from a hoarding situation - terribly neglected with not much human contact in his formative months. He's been living in a foster home for about a year.
So, he's a bit ...."skittish"... yes, that's a good descriptive word. Not exactly "shy" but rather anxious about new people and places and things.
We had a "home visit" a few weeks ago and then his foster mom brought him for a two week trial visit last Sunday.
I'm already in love.
He's teaching me things about him.
For example, he didn't seem to want to tend to bodily functions the first day and a half he was here. I was starting to get worried about him. Fears of a bladder infection or "bloating" began to taunt me.
Then I remembered that, in his foster home, he would be let outside in a fenced in area after his meals. The only time he was ever on a leash was when he was being taken to the Vet or to go on a visit with a potential foster home. So, for me to expect him to "do his business" on a walk was probably asking too much.
I started to take him over by the fence in the backyard and, Voila! Success! As I lavished praise upon him, he looked at me as if to say, "I wondered when you would finally figure this out. Sheesh!"
I didn't know, but apparently, there's something called "Black Dog Syndrome". The folks who run Animal Shelters say that black dogs are the last to be adopted. Indeed, they say that, for a black dog, going into a 'shelter' is usually a death sentence.
Here's a brief clip that talks more about it.
Choosing a dog based on the color of his coat? I can't imagine it. There's so much more to consider - like temperament and personality and how that fits in with the rest of the family.
A friend let me borrow a crate, and Ms. Conroy bought him a sleeping pad for it along with some toys and a chewie. He is not interested in any of that. At. All.
He sleeps with me, at the foot of the bed and makes not a peep all night long. When I awaken in the morning, he comes to see me, tail wagging, and sniffs at my face in a kind of quasi kiss.
He's still rather nervous about sounds in the apartment. He made a very low growl yesterday when students were coming in an out of the apartment downstairs for a class with their professor.
I was warned that he doesn't like men - barks at them - but that's not been my experience thus far with the two men who live on the first floor. Theo was very calm with them and their dog. He even approached one of them and just sort of checked out his hand - probably to see if he had a cookie. Theo and their dog did their "doggie thing" - sniffing and checking each other out.
I suspect, once I really become "his human", he will begin to want to protect me and bark at an unfamiliar sound or person.
Mostly, he just sits next to me on the futon while I read or work on my laptop. Which is, quite frankly, lovely. He doesn't seem interested in playing 'fetch' or chewing on toys.
Well, it may be that it's too soon.
He has "his" pillows, as you can see which has become his favorite spot in the house.
That, and the place under the couch where he first sat with his step mom when we had our first home visit where he sometimes hides after we come in from a walk, or he's heard a strange sound in the house and has become anxious.
All I have to do is pat the pillow and say, "Come, Theo," and he comes right out and jumps up onto his "spot", just happy as a little clam to be with me.
While I think he still misses his 'pack' and his step mom, I think I'm becoming his 'human'. A FaceBook friend suggested that I should spit into the food in his dish - an interesting 'bonding' technique - so he will better associate me with nourishment and caring.
I think it's working.
I also love the fact that, when we walk together, we walk together. He doesn't pull me along like Lenny and CoCo do - or, in fact, any of our dogs have done. We just walk. Together.
I can't wait for Lenny and CoCo to meet him. I have no doubt they'll get along famously. And, I'm sure he'll warm up right away to Ms. Conroy. She has a certain way with all four leggeds.
Did I ever tell you about the time that one of our formerly feral cats - a real beauty named Maude - delivered her first (and last) litter of kittens right in Ms. Conroy's lap? Yup. Five of them. It was amazing!
My allergies have been acting up, but I'm not certain if it's him or the beginnings of Spring or something goin' 'round. I've been fighting a fierce headache and nausea for the past 36 hours, but Ms. Conroy says there's a bug goin' 'round, causing the same symptoms.
I don't care. He's staying. I'll take Zyrtec and deal with it.
So, say hello to Theo - aka "Mr. Wonderful".
I sense the beginning of a long and lovely friendship.
It feels like home to me.
It feels like we - Theo and me - are back to where we once belonged.