Last Friday, Old Dog and I drove to Cleveland to meet and, as it turned out, adopt a one-year-old Australian shepherd named Kai (pronounced to rhyme with the last syllable of bonsai).
Here's a picture of Kai lying outside the bathroom in our back hallway:
If you're a dog person, you're probably wondering why anyone would give up such a beautiful dog.
His original family had a couple of small children and two Aussies. At some point last summer they decided that was all just too much, so they gave the dogs up for adoption.
So far, he's been a mixed bag of joy and frustration/anxiety--but with a definite bent toward joy.
- He is absolutely obsessed with playing ball. If someone will throw it for him, he will gladly chase it till he has no energy left (which takes around 30 throws down the length of our big yard).
- If no one will throw it, he will play by himself. Kind of. What he actually does is shove the ball beneath some piece of furniture and then try to get it back out. If he can't (about 70% of the time) he cries and yelps until his new mom comes and digs it our for him. Then he immediately shoves it back into the same spot.
- He's a very cuddly bed buddy. He's staked out his spot in the middle of our king-sized bed and he happily lies there all night, alternately pressing his warm little back against my calves or Old Dog's. (Who made the decision to let the dog sleep in our bed, you ask? That would be Old Dog.)
- He's a nightmare on a leash. Today we invested in a corrective harness that apparently makes it uncomfortable to jerk and lunge. Things got much better and we were actually able to go for a walk.
- At the vet's on Tuesday, he was doing great until she leaned over and made eye contact. That's apparently some kind of trigger, because he instantly transformed into a barking, snarling monster. He did the same thing when our dog-loving neighbors leaned over the fence to pet him.
- He finished his well visit to the vet in a muzzle. The vet says he wasn't properly socialized as a puppy. She says, because he's still young, this can be trained out of him with enough patience and discipline. She says we need to take him into as many social situations as possible and help him learn to cope.
After the first of the year, Kai and I will start obedience training, with the intention of moving on into agility work or nose work once he's mastered the basics of good doggy behavior.
If anyone has any suggestions around taking a very active, very bright dog who was never properly socialized as a puppy and turning him into a good canine citizen, I'm all ears!