Thursday, August 22, 2013

To heal a dog with a broken spirit

First of all, it's not Foxy, so don't worry about her.

It's the new guy.  His name is Max.

See, I always wanted to have 2 dogs again.  I would have liked to find a bonded pair.  But what I ended up with was Foxy, so in looking for another dog, I had to keep her dominant bitchiness in mind, plus her high prey drive.  What I thought would be best for her would be a larger, older, submissive gentleman.  And I was kind of looking, but not seriously looking, but still looking just the same, when this older gentleman's photo was posted on Facebook.

He sort of resembled Foxy, I thought.  He was listed as a Golden Retriever/Chow mix.  His owner had died, and he was living by himself in the backyard, where a neighbor was looking in on him and feeding him.  Sad. He had had a doggie companion, and 2 cats in the house.  They were rescued.  Max was not.  He remained alone in his backyard. I don't know for how long.

I decided I wanted this dog.

Yesterday, he came to us.  It's hard to judge size of a dog in a photo, I realized.  I mean, I figured he would be bigger than Foxy.  But I was not expecting the hulking bear of a dog that Max is in person.  He's huge, shaggy and unkempt.  A mountain dog. (he is from a nearby mountain community)  He had clearly spent some time living outside.  And his spirit seemed to be broken.

And why wouldn't it be?  His whole world was turned upside down.  Everything familiar was taken away from him.  And then he was given a bunch of shots, which left him feeling even more out of sorts.  Oh, and brought to a house with strange people and a strange dog.

His first day with us, he mostly just slept.  And when he was awake, he didn't really seem to want to get to know us, or have us pet him very much.  If you approached him or touched him the wrong way, he would snarl.  He didn't even want to eat.

This morning, I made some chicken and rice to mix with his food, and he ate.  He still wanted to sleep a lot, but sometime this afternoon, he began to perk up a little. He is beginning to realize that we are friendly. Sometimes he will approach head on, and we can pet his head.  Other times, he wants to sit next to, but facing away from us, so we can pet him down the back of his neck and shoulders.

I have been very careful (too careful, my family will say) to keep Max and Foxy from getting too close too soon.  This afternoon, I finally let them be loose in the yard and in the house, nobody on a leash, nobody in a crate.  There have been no skirmishes yet, but I have been watching them narrowly, especially Foxy, who seems to be getting a bit more jealous as Max slowly begins to be more interactive.

I'm a little scared of him, because he's so big, and still a little snarly under certain circumstances, some of which I might not be fully aware of yet.  I'm bracing myself for a vet appointment that reveals something amiss in his back legs or hips.  And certainly we will find that his weight is not 59 like it says on the paperwork he came with, but 79, and then some.

But hope that, while he is in our care, he can feel love and trust again.  He can be a happy dog.  Already, we are seeing him slowly opening up, like a flower coaxed into bloom with a little TLC.

1 comment:

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