Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Two Week Staycation in Motion

This is Abe. He might look familiar to some of you folks; he's one of the nine squishies we recently pulled from SPAC. I got him because in addition to being very shut down, he also had a few red flags on his behavior eval. I'm pretty confident there's a good dog in there somewhere, but I hate to make someone else responsible for those red flags if I'm wrong. I get a lot of questions about how the Two Week Staycation protocol works in real life, so what I will try to do for the next two weeks is post a picture everyday of Abe and what his Staycation looks like.

So here is Alive Day +1: Abe's world is two rooms, the second bedroom where his crate is and the kitchen. He's also been outside to the potty area, but outside is very scary, and for better or worse, Abe can't pee if he's scared. My other dogs have the rest of the house, divided up by baby gates with blankets over them (they're napping in the basement with my husband right now). Yesterday, he would pancake to the floor if anyone so much as breathed in his direction. Today, we spent a total of about an hour and a half coaxing and teaching Abe to take treats from our hands. Now, he only pancakes if you look at him.

Slow progress is still progress. There's no need to hurry.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The One

"How do you know you've found the right dog?"

I get asked this question a lot - usually by someone whom I have presented with a dog that perfectly meets all of the criteria they've outlined, but that the person isn't sold on. And I kind of dread the question because I don't have a good answer for it. Every person-dog dynamic is unique, every adoption story is different, every prospective adopter has a different idea of what "the one" should be like. I think they want me to tell them that it's okay to wait for the dog they have an instant connection with.

I can't do it.

The instant connection happens. The first time I laid eyes on Piper in the shelter, my immediate response was, "Who are those people and why are they touching my dog? That's my dog. Get away from my dog. Shoo." But the instant connection is not the norm. You don't fall in love at first sight. You fall in infatuation. You get a dog crush (I have a lot of dog crushes, myself). You can't love someone you don't know.

It's been my experience that the truly great loves take time. There's no cheating true love. You stack the odds in your favor and try to pick a dog you can imagine spending the rest of her life with. For a long time, your first thought in the morning is to let the dog out and feed the dog. And the last thing you do before you go to bed is feed the dog and let the dog out. You think about the dog while you're gone - "Oh, I need to pick up dog food. Maybe he would like a new toy. And he really needs a new bed . . ." Until you just start bringing the dog with because, hey, to a dog, a trip to the gas station is a grand adventure. Eventually, you start bringing the dog on vacation - and then you start choosing vacations the dog would like. And day by day, you fall a little more hopelessly in love until that final day when you must be parted for the last time, and you cannot quite understand how you can be expected to go on without your dog.

That dog? That dog is The One. The rest was just details.

Photo by Sara Beth Photography