I spent this week getting to know the trouble makers in the shelter. The first step towards starting their training is that I have to be introduced to them, so that I can build their trust. Thus, I would take them either out on a walk around the neighborhood or I would take them to the grassy area to play and explore. I am at the shelter by 8 am and I instantly jump into working with the dogs.
I start working with Baily ( a German Shepherd Mix) who is know to lash out from the noises that come from construction nearby. I took her to the play pen and let her off her leash. It was no surprise that she is very mellow since she is an older dogs (almost 7 years old), but she does respond really well to whistling. She is a older German Shepherd Mix who was brought into the shelter as a puppy then quickly adopted. She ended up back in the shelter because she got too old and the family no longer wanted her.
The next dog that I was introduced to is an energetic black/brown/white Boxer named Dexter. He has quite a character because he loves to play and jump on your lap. Dexter is about 3 years old and he likes to nip a bit when he gets excited around people. He was supposed to be put down in Maricopa County Shelter because he had a really bad case of Valley fever, it got to the point where he could not even walk without assistance. I learned that Dexter is food driven which can help with the training aspect of my project and he is very eager to learn.After Dexter and I had an intense playing session with a bouncy ball and a tennis ball then it was time for him to go back inside.
The last dog for that day is a boxer, just like Dexter, except this one has worse behavioral
issues. Her name is Dee-Dee and she is a 4.5 year old white/ black Boxer. Dee-Dee had Valley Fever like Dexter did, but she also had a upper respiratory infection (she has been on treatment for 8-9 months already). She has been adopted out before twice, then was returned because she does not like any other dogs or cats. She loves people and she is apparently really good with children too. Nonetheless, her issues with other animals has been a huge barrier in her adoption process. I would sit down next to her, then she would start swinging her paws all over the place and she’d get them tangled in my hair. She realized that she was hurting me because I would try to push her paws away, but she revolted and plopped herself down into my lap. She must believe that she is a little lap dog because she refused to move after she got comfortable.
Guerra-American Staffordshire Mix
For the next day/session I asked for another tough dog. Her name is Guerra and she is a 3 year old American Staffordshire Mix which falls into the category of the stereotypical “Pit Bull.” She is very loud while she is in the kennels so they assumed she would be a bit crazy on a walk (later I asked who is next to her in the kennels and it is Dee-Dee and Penny). I was the first to take her on a walk because they were unsure about her behavior.It turns out that she is really easy to walk and she listens well. She does not respond really well to Guerra, and she would instantly respond when I would call her pretty girl. She is such a sweetheart. I swear, I would adopt her right now if I could because she is honestly the perfect companion. I was pained to hear her background. Her owner went to jail, so he kept her tied up to a fence and she was there for three weeks until Pima Paws for Life seized her. If you look at her eye with the brown spot you can see something strange in the inner corner of her eye. I asked about it just to out of curiosity to later learn that she is blind in that same eye. She was abused and is blind but the sweetest creature you could ever meet; yet. she is at an automatic disadvantage in getting adopted because of her breed.
I met another American Staffordshire Mix named Penny.They rescued her from a shelter in Wilcox which is a city about an hour outside of Tucson. She has demodectic Mange which is not contagious and it’s actually in every dog; Demodectic mange surfaces when a dog has a very weak immune system. Penny is 3 years old and very playful. We were playing with a flexible Frisbee but she would tug on it too hard so she ripped it. She is also food driven. Her problem is that she is extremely energetic and loves to meet new people, so she likes to jump up and tug a lot on the leash. I think with a bit of training she can easily be taught to stay calm when meeting new people.
Lastly, I spent a little bit of time hanging out with the cats at the shelter. Many of them have their own issues that I will later address, but one cat stood out to me the most. This is Kona and she had surgery on February 3rd. Kona had a slit on her eye lid, so they sewed it up to make her a new eye lid and now she looks like Frankenstein. She is a bit timid and she responds to treats, but not really to toys.