For the Love of Shelter Dogs*

Lorenzo, Bella, Bella, Oliver, and Adoptions!
February 25, 2009, 1:44 pm
Filed under: Adoptions, General, Photo Day

Yesterday I brought my camera again, but the battery died within the first few minutes, so I was only able to take pictures of one of the Bellas.

I worked with Lorenzo again. He did pretty well. I was trying to get him out of the cage and one of the employees walked by and said “It’s like trying to leash a bear!” which is so true! Lorenzo is great once he’s outside, but in his cage he jumps and bites at the leash and pushes against you because he’s so impatient and just needs to go outside and relieve himself. He did really well once outside, though. I gave him a refresher course in “Sit, Shake, Lay Down” and he picked up on that quickly. The only quirk is that he’ll only shake if I offer the hand that has the kibble in it. Strange, but cute.

Bella was the next dog I took out. She’s relatively new and very cute. She’s a little bigger than the other Bella, so they’re easy to tell apart. She’s so sweet! All she wanted to do was get attention and belly rubs. She kept rolling over! Even when I tried to just pet her head she figured out a way to roll over and prop her body up on my legs. It was so cute,  but very strange looking.

I took out the other Bella next. She’s also very sweet and very submissive. She’s a little more playful though. She loves to get belly rubs, but she wants to play too! I took a couple pictures of her (and then my camera yelled at me to change the battery pack). Hopefully one of them will get accepted to iStock! I’m going to submit a few, and if they get rejected I’ll post them here. I have a folder for all of my images that have been rejected on Flickr. (

I also took out Prince (now renamed Ravi!). Ravi is Sanskrit for Sun. He’s kind of yellowey-sun colored, so I decided it fit. He’s doing a lot better. He’s come out of his shell and will come up to the door when I open it. He still cowers and shakes when I go up to him outside, but he’s getting better!

I took out Oliver (Ollie) right before I left. He’s one of my Damaged Dogs I’m trying to rehabilitate/train. He was doing really well a few weeks ago, then he had a breakdown and reverted. He’s a sweet sweet boy, but he gets himself so worked up and so frustrated he starts nipping or trying to grab my arm in his mouth. He doesn’t do it aggressively. I’ve also reported it to the staff and they know about it. They also know I’m working with him. We got him on the Neuter list for Friday, so hopefully “he’ll” be an “it” by the weekend! I think that’s a big part of his problem. Since he’s never had the opportunity to mate (he had just turned a year old when he came to the shelter as a stray) he’s got pent up frustration and urges that he can’t fulfill (as weird as it sounds, it’s true). It’s driving him crazy. So hopefully when he gets neutered, his frustration levels won’t build up any higher and I’ll be able to rehabilitate him.

Anyway, so I took Ollie out yesterday. I was kind of nervous (I usually leave bleeding from scratches after I take him out – not too much blood, but it’s still not pleasant), but I decided that it wasn’t fair for him to be stuck in the cage just because I was a little afraid. I’m not actually afraid of him. I’m afraid that if they see him go nuts, they’ll be forced to make the decision to euthanize him. He’s a good dog and deserves a chance, but if he gets used to the nipping, they may decide that his time’s up (and with good reason; the shelter can’t worry about a customer getting injured and suing).

I went into his cage with my back to him. I see other people try to leash him, and he gets worked up and starts nipping (they go at him face-first). He didn’t jump up at all on me because I didn’t acknowledge him until he was calmer (not calm-submissive, but it’s extremely difficult to achieve calm-submission inside the shelter). I slipped the leash over his head and tightened it up agaisnt his ears without looking at him. I opened the cage door and stood there facing the cage until he was calmer again. He tends to jerk my arm and drag me out of the kennel (he’ll walk pretty well on the leash after that initial jolt). Not this time! We walked side by side out to the door, where I made him sit, and then through the door and through the lobby and then outside to the pen. I had to let him stop to pee (he tries his best to hold it) and then we went (calmly!) into the cage. I let him off and we went about his business.

Ollie loves to play fetch. It’s the only way I can (safely) drain his energy at the shelter. I picked up a tennis ball (two, actually) and made him sit. I held it for a while until he wasn’t completely focused and obsessed, then I threw it. It’s taking him less and less time to unfocus himself from the ball. He raced after it, picked it up, and brought it halfway back. He never brings it all the way back. Usually I end up chasing him around, but I decided to just let him do what he wanted this time. He brought it back eventually, and I made him sit and relax before I’d throw the next one. We did this for a while, then he laid down and started chewing on the ball. Usually I don’t let him rest (he has SO much extra energy I need to drain, and I never have enough time to drain it), but I thought it would be good to just let him be. I went over to the lawn chair and sat down. I never sit down with Ollie in the cage. That makes him nervous, or something, and he gets himself worked up into his nipping phase.

He was still chewing the ball when I sat down. He looked up at me like I was a target. I sat up straight (and tried  to project calm-assertive energy) and he got up and played with the ball a while. Then he ran over and looked like he was about to jump up. I held up my hand and said “Shhht.” He sniffed my finger, then backed away.

He played a while longer, then I walked him calmly back inside. There were other dogs following us in, and while he was nuts about them, I could tug his leash and he’d turn around and not nip at me. He wasn’t socialized right as a pup, I think, and any kind of touch (petting, correction) usually makes him nervous and nippy. He did really well, and didn’t nip! I’m so proud of him.

So that’s my inspiring story for the week! I’m taking the rest of the week off (I’ve been really stressed out with my classes, so I need a break from everything and I need to sleep), but I’m hopefully going to be at the shelter Saturday and Sunday.

One last little bit of happiness: There were many good adoptions over the weekend! Nickel (a lab mix who’d been at the shelter since June) finally found a home. LadyBird (a sweet, calm hound mix) who’d been at the shelter since May got adopted. There were other great adoptions, but I’ve already made this blog too long!


1 Comment so far
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Very busy day at the shelter, indeed.

Comment by Angela

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