So, every Tuesday I go to the Humane Society of Washington County to do behavior assessments for adoption dogs, and every week I manage to resist some wonderful faces and personalities. We even play an “if” game at the end of assessments… Teasing ourselves a little we ask each other, “If you had to adopt one of the dogs we assessed today, which one would it be?” I’m pretty safe playing this game – we have five dogs in the family, with no intentions of adding another permanent canine resident. Five is our limit. However, that doesn’t preclude an occasional temporary addition. Hence, Squid.
Three weeks ago we started to assess an 8-week-old Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix. He had already failed his assessment once for being ferociously mouthy, and they wanted a second opinion (mine). We started to assess, but his snuffling and sneezing convinced me he might have a little upper respiratory infection, so he went into isolation kennels for treatment for two weeks.
Last Thursday Squid came home with me to Peaceable Paws under the shelter’s “GOLD Paw” program. “GOLD” stands for “Giving Opportunity, Love and Direction” and it’s the shelter’s behavioral foster care program. What I’ve discovered so far:
- He’s terminally cute.
- He loves everyone (all species) and thinks everyone loves him.
- At age 10-12 weeks he tries devilishly hard not to soil his puppy pen or his outdoor kennel. He doesn’t always succeed, but he tries really hard.
- He is fearless. Resilient. Indomitable. Assertive. Nothing fazes him. He played with puppies three times his size Monday night, and never hesitated.
- He is smart. He has learned to sit to make the kennel door open, and did his first “verbal down” yesterday.
- He is fun. Loves to hike, play with toys, and fetches a tennis ball.
- He is surprisingly non-vocal. Despite spending a fair amount of time by himself in his pen and/or his kennel, he isn’t barking much – only when he gets excited because he realizes someone is coming to see him.
- And yes, he is a little mouthy. Not half as bad as Maggie-the-Westie-puppy who was abandoned in a crate in our driveway last year, but yes, he does need to learn to inhibit his bite a little. And to stop using his mouth to get what he wants.
So he’s actually a pretty fun project, and I’m hoping a pretty easy one. I’ve started counter conditioning his resistance to restraint and can already pick him up without any dental protest on his part. Amazing what a little “associate *that* with high value treats” can do! Actually, not all that amazing, I pretty much expected it to work, although maybe not this quickly. Next is teaching him that having someone look at his teeth is also a reliable predictor of really yummy stuff.I expect that to go quickly as well.
I’d love to hear what kind of pup you think he is, from his pictures, and my description of his personality. I see the Jack Russell, but I’m not seeing Chihuahua. Maybe all Jack?
I’m thinking he’s a great candidate for flyball, and since the flyball class meets here tonight, I may just have to go out and introduce him, and troll for some prospective adopters.
I’ll keep you posted. And no, he’s not staying. Really.
Warm Woofs and Happy Training,