Friday, February 25, 2011

The List and/or There is Superstition and/or Is Beck our co-pilot?

Recently I spent a mindless few hours watching a way stoopid Lifetime movie on Hulu, and it got me thinking in all sorts of directions that had nothing what so ever to do with the story line. Thank you ADHD. The gist of the story was that a woman was looking for a man, and she had a list of 10 things that she wanted to find in a mate. I think to a degree, we all have lists in our heads, or maybe even on paper, of things we want and things we don't want. There are  things we can  accept and things we cannot.  There are things we will settle for and things that we won't.  I think this applies not only to partners, but to animals also.
When it comes to dogs, I am very  conscious of my  mental list of wants  and cannot haves.

I remember when we adopted Charlee , I got an earful from the rescue about what I had listed on the application of  what I wanted in a dog. "She is a rescue" I was told, "pick a few things, don't be unrealistic."
Charlee met the two most important things on my then must have list. She was good with and approved by my older dog who was succumbing slowly to a brain tumor, and she was good with my kids. 

When we got Finney, at the top of my list was a dog who could work with me to help reactive dogs. Finn has helped hundreds and hundreds of dogs, both in private sessions and in group classes and I thank him for that.

Which leads up to the now. I am not actively looking for a dog. My long range plan is to get a puppy out of one of my favorite dogs when she comes into her next heat. Time line is  late summer early fall. These pups hit all the things on my new extensive and really almost border line insane updated list. The wonderful line of Spaniels are  super sweet and ubber versatile.

At the top of the next dog list, they need to be able to work and carry their weight around here as Charlee and Finney have. This many sound harsh, but I don't have room in my house for a freeloader dog. I need a dog who can come to work with me as demo dog, and I want a dog to train and compete in multiple venues.

Next dog needs to be able to tolerate and hopefully enjoy the revolving door of kids and dogs. Next dog needs to get along with Charlee and Finney, and next dog preferably will be quite a bit smaller than current dogs.  There is more but it is pickey-unie and I will spare you.

So who turns up?


Is Beck supposed to be our co-pilot?

Beck came to us not even close to fitting in. He resource guarded everything. people,  food,  toys and space in my house. My dogs didn't like him and he started out a wild jumping bean. Beck is the  first dog ever to come in my house and  openly challenge Charlee.  Not to worry, he has had a mega attitude adjustment.  Beck  was leash reactive and even got a bit scary with Buck, another male foster dog we had. Then there is that thing about jumping over my outside gate, which he has done half a dozen times. Said gate is over 5 and a half feet tall. The last time he tried it, I had run out to the car to get something and the dog  wanted to come  with.  Beck got his paw wedged in a top picket and he was dangling and screaming, hanging off of  the ground.  I broke my fence to release him.  Fell back, flat back on my ass.

Dog was fine.

My doggie must have list is exhaustive and Beck has stepped up to meet them all. He has a nice food and toy drive, he is smart and athletic , he is fabulous with my kids , great in the car and my dogs do like him. He has turned into a tremendous puppy uncle and baby sitter of other young foster dog in need of a good time.

He has a nice biddable temperament. His learning style is smack dab in the middle between my two dogs, not to fast and not too slow, but just right. His leash reactivity seems minor and very trainable and he has improved about a million percent.

He loves all of us equal -unusual for any dog!

Beck loves people, I mean he loves people. He will wag his tail at anyone he sees at any distance.

Beck was so wired when he first got here, he didn't nap for close to 2 weeks. He just stood up and watched. The dog  is an ace napper and cuddlier now, and sleeping right now curled up next to my middle daughter, Finney and me.

My son has asked for us to keep him for his 18th birthday presnt. Many (and I mean many) of our foster dogs take an instant dislike to my son. I think in part it is because he is male and tall and the other part is that his room is down stairs and he startles the fosters a lot when he comes upstairs for mid night snacks. Beck adores him. My son at times has anger issues and Beck goes over to him and puts his head in his lap, which is a behavior that I have trained autism assist dogs  to do., It is very grounding for people, and dogs need a certain temperament to stand the heat so to speak.

This is the one thing that really kills me and makes me re-evaluate and rethink placing him.

Around here, I have pushed the Charlee's gonna die panic button close to a dozen times. All for good reason. Dog has more lives than a cat.  This is what she looked like in August.

Aside from having the tumor on her toe that the vet and I thought was cancer, she had lost a ton of weight and a good portion of her fur. The vet thinks cancer would have killed her already. Turns out the loss of fur was from too much soloxine , the meds she has taken for 10 yeas to regulate her thyroid. Charlee is  wonderful and fat and fluffy and most of the fur is back now.  Wow huh?

Charlee AKA Old Ironsides, doesn't' appear to be going anywhere any time soon -and that is  GREAT!

Beck has had several inquiries and none have been a good fit. The last email I read did sound fine and after I read it, I cried for about 10 solid minutes. Everyone one who meets him or reads about him tells me that this is my dog. Us animal people have that thing where we think our dogs we are supposed to  find us.  My friend Jo tells me "what else does this dog have to do, he has told you a million times over he is your dog. "

Here is where I get totally weird. I feel if I place Beck,  Charlee will  die and if I keep him she will live.

I know that is totally whack, but it is the brain circle fart that keeps poluting  my head and I keep  coming around to it.
Oh what to do, what to do.
Do you have Lists?
How likely are you to follow them?
How likely  are you to follow your heart?

Charlee has done helped hundreds of kids
learn how to be safe around dogs.
Love her.


KathyF said...

Wow, Nancy. We're so much in the same boat here. I can totally relate to what you're saying, and I'm only on my first foster!

Sparky didn't even make one item on my list--for one thing he's a he--but I'm probably going to call the rescue, after weeks of putting it off, and tell them we're keeping him. There was that niggling doubt--seems like just when I'd think we had successfully licked all his issues, he'd develop another one. And I've never dealt with a dog with real issues before, so it's been overwhelming for me.

But I've had a dog like Beck, too, who LOVED people. It's a joy to see, and more rare than I knew at the time. In fact, I think if Sparky had that going for him there'd be no doubt he'd be staying. As it is, I have no reassurance he won't go for someone who comes to the house--which is why I'm sitting here with treats in the office so he won't go after the plumber. (Although he's a LOT better than he was right after Halloween.)

Beck sounds like a real winner. Maybe he did find you, or find your son, who probably needs him right now. Who knows?

Let us know what you decide.

Unknown said...

Nancy, you are such an amazing wowman. you are a talented writer, dedicated mother, commited Rescue dog Adovacate, and good friend.
I support you and whatever you decide is fine by me. I recognze your waffling emotions. no matter what, Beck is out of life imprisonment. I can't even imagine that vivacious, fun loving, super smart dog at the shelter for his duration. honestly, when I met him at TT I said to my friend, as I smirked, this is a good one for Nancy. she'll love him.

enjoy the day,

Sharon/Cleo said...

Nancy - I really enjoy reading your blog, sorry I don't comment more.

I'm passing along a well-deserved award. Keep up the great writing and sharing!