My sweet Tempest has been gone 3-1/2 weeks.
Our new pup, Phoenix, has been with us 2 weeks.
When Tempest passed I decided to bequeath his place in our home to a rescued dog, perhaps one who had never experienced the level of comfort and love we can provide.
I checked Petfinder.com on a daily basis. There were a bunch of border collie mixes in local shelters but no little faces called out to me. I put an application in with a local border collie rescue and began the extensive approval process.
On Tuesday, February 21st, with my application slogging toward approval by border collie rescue, I went back to Petfinder.com.
Much to my surprise this little red-tri border collie face gleamed at me from my computer screen. He was a couple of hours away, and (at 8 weeks of age) probably already adopted, but I decided to contact the rescue group and express my interest.
Long story short — the rescue group was marvelous to work with and several friends worked as go-betweens to make this little boy available for adoption to Bud and I.
I saw the picture at 10a.m., contacted the rescue group at 10:30am, had an e-mail application completed by 2pm, had a phone call at 3pm, had my application reviewed by 5pm, and had a call at 6pm saying “when would you like to come get this little boy?”
I’m just saying ….. I understand the reluctance of rescue groups to place dogs without complete home checks and calls to references and vets. On the other hand, isn’t it better for a foster home to provide for the veterinary care, feed, housing, training, and relationship-building for 1-7 days instead of 10-12 months?
I’m certainly not criticizing rescue groups, but sometimes dogs are left too long in foster homes and released too slowly to forever homes. I know they’re well-fed, cared for, but they’re always “the foster dog.”
Anyway — we met the wonderfully nice foster mom who was so very impressed with my 8-week-old border collie puppy and brought Phoenix home on February 22nd.
I have doubts about his official story, but a young family supposedly turned him in to rescue at 8 weeks. Hmmm. Has nice bite inhibition, is very sociable, is bold and brave, has a little resource-guarding issue, but hard to believe a young family would purchase and ditch a puppy in a week.
Doesn’t matter — he’s mine now and his past is of no consequence.
I’m starting back into my 2-minute dog trainer protocols.
For the first few days Phoenix was with us we focused on the mealtime resource guarding.
Each meal Phoenix was presented with an empty food bowl. Human hands brought food to the bowl versus Phoenix’s greatest concern — human hands dragging him away from the bowl or taking the bowl away from him.
When we said his name and he glanced up he was rewarded with another handful of food. “Come” became part of the picture, and my little boy was on his way to becoming a trained dog.
We had one little bump in the road — Phoenix turned his nose up at dinner on February 26th and 27th, so he went to my vet’s office early on the 27th. He tested positive for parvo.
The vet’s office kept him on the 27th, giving him fluids and antibiotics through an IV. By noon they were suggesting I should be prepared to get him at 6pm. “He’s pretty full of himself,” my vet said, “he’s chewed through his IV tube twice so we’re giving him fluids and antibiotics sub-cutaneous.”
She explained that, if I could get him to eat, he could begin getting meds orally and stay home for his long-term care.
I picked up a happy pup at 6pm. He was very hungry and ate little spoons full of canned dog food each hour.
Next morning Phoenix returned to the vet for more fluids and meds, but was cleared to come home by noon. Each day in the past 10 days he’s shown good appetite, kept his food and meds down, and gotten more energetic.
Over the next few months I’ll be documenting his progress with the 2-minute dog trainer training.
This, his second full week with us, Phoenix is eating breakfast starting with an empty bowl and accepting hands coming towards his bowl with more food.
For lunch he’s doing some targeting of my open palm, touching either of my outstretched hands for a click and food.
For dinner he often gets to train with Bud on the a-frame contact trainer. After just 3-4 sessions he’s already got the idea that sitting on the a-frame with his front feet on the floor makes the food keep coming.
I think about Tempest all the time. His ashes have been brought home. I know he wasn’t perfect, and his extreme epilepsy was devastating to all of us, but he was the ultimate clean slate on which I wrote my dog-training hopes and dreams.
The slate has been wiped clean again. Our work has evaporated into thin air, but we have a plan with which to start again.