Cassie is a two-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. I found her at the Humane Society, among the woebegone cast-off, lost, and abused mutts. She looked like she’d been immaculately cared for — her long hair was clean and perfectly groomed. What an amazing little dog!
It’s hard to believe you could find a relatively rare, apparently pure-bred pooch in the Humane Society shelter, but lo! there she was. Her picture had been posted for nine hours when I found it online, and I was at the door the next morning when the place opened. Eight people had already inquired about her.
Here are the advantages of adopting an adult dog from a rescue organization:
- You get around the various puppy stages that entail destroying the carpets with excreta, unearthing the flowerbeds, and shredding the furniture.
- If you’re lucky, the dog is already obedience trained.
- You can see what the dog will look like when it’s grown up.
- For $50 (make that $25 if you’re over 65 years old!), the Humane Society gives you the dog, throws in a cheesy collar and leash, neuters the dog, updates all its vaccinations, and treats the animal for fleas and ticks. You also get a free veterinarian’s check-up and five weeks of free care for common ailments picked up in kennels.
- And you do the planet a favor by taking in an unwanted dog that’s already here rather than bringing yet another puppy into our overpopulated world.
- Financially, adopting a grown dog represents a large savings, because dogs cost you the most when they’re puppies and when they’re old codgers.
The reason her humans gave for getting rid of her was that she barked. Apparently they were in the habit of keeping her in the house all the time they were home and then when they left, locking her outside.
Well, you’d bark, too, if you were locked out of your home in 100-degree heat.
We’ll return to that issue in a moment. Meanwhile, what a difference between a 23-pound dog and an 85-pound dog!
She eats 1 1/3 cups of dog food a day, barely a mouthful for a Ger-shep. She’s a dainty little eater and drinker, never slopping food and water onto the floor. That means the water dish can be in the house instead of on the back porch, and she only needs one bowl of water. In the backyard, instead of mounds she deposits pellets. Like a rabbit!
She doesn’t go on the furniture — won’t even go on a seat in the car. She did want to get into the bed with me last night, but finally settled for a nest on the soft rug next to the bed. She’s not interested in the pool and apparently doesn’t much like to get wet.
So we went for a doggy-walk this morning, down to the park. This exercise revealed a number of amazements.
Item: We don’t try to bring down vehicles by their oil pans. Anna’s atavistic psyche regarded cars and trucks as buffalo and mastodons, and she craved to chase them down and grab them.
Item: We’re not interested in yanking the Park Service’s lawn sprinklers out of the ground.
Item: We don’t even want to plunge into the flying (untreated!) irrigation water and frolic around in it. We will cross the street to avoid getting the stuff on our elegant fur.
Item: We like dogs. We do not trick them into a false sense of confidence by grinning and wagging at them before going for their jugulars.
Item: The human needs to find its old Sierra cup so we can have a drink of water en route.
Item: We can slip our collar. Yipe!
Item: But if we do, we don’t go very far.
Now about the barking issue:
The pound was a madhouse. Reports that people are abandoning their dogs as they’re evicted from their foreclosed homes are not exaggerated. The shelter was overflowing with dogs, most of them barking, yelping, and screaming nonstop, and it was jammed with prospective dog owners. But Cassie was absolutely silent.
When she was taken out of the dog run, she remained quiet and very calm.
“That dog doesn’t appear to be a barker,” I said to the volunteer.
“Sometimes people lie about the reason for turning in a dog,” she said.
Hm. Why do I doubt it?
Here’s why: Cassie is a Velcro dog. She wants to be with the human at all times. She doesn’t want the human out of her sight.
Cute, endearing . . . and not a good sign! Velcroing is never a good sign in dogs. It means the dog is uncomfortable in one way or another, either physically or psychologically. In the case of dogs that bark nonstop or rip up the furniture when the humans leave, it reflects canine separation anxiety.
It’s a sign of bad habits on the part of the dog’s humans: doting on the dog, carrying on with lots of cooing and petting when you leave, carrying on with lots of excited fawning when you come back in the house, failing to persuade the dog that it has to do something for you to obtain what it wants. I’m not suggesting you abuse or be cold to a dog; merely that you have to behave as though you’re the head of the pack and you expect the rest of the pack to believe you’ll be back when you leave. And not to act like ninnies who will bring predators to the den by yipping and whining while you’re out bringing down a mastodon.
I tried walking out the front door last night, and indeed, Cassie started yipping about 30 seconds after I shut the door. Stupidly, I’d left the side gate locked, and so I couldn’t walk around the house and come in another door. Walking back in the same door after she had begun to vocalize meant, of course, that I rewarded the vocalizing. Argh!
But this morning I took the opportunity to close the door behind me on the way into the garage, walk away from the door, and then walk back and open it before she could start to make any noises. And I locked her out of the bathroom when I went to the john without creating a fuss.
Then I started some sit-down-stay training, a crucial skill for the process of helping the dog get past this sort of behavior. It looks like someone trained her to sit, but the trick is remembered fuzzily. She will go down, but she’s so submissive she wants to roll over when you try to coax her into the “down” position. And “stay”? Surely you jest!
So, there’s some hope here. If a dog can be gently relieved of separation anxiety, it takes about two months of steady, consistent training. This could be a challenge, because I have to go to work.
However, because my house is on a third of an acre, she can bark herself stupid inside the house and not disturb the neighbors. I will alert my closest neighbor Sally, though, and tell her to let me know if the dog makes her crazy. If push comes to shove, I can take Cassie with me to the office (ah, the joys of working at a university in an office where your dean can’t see you!) until I can take some vacation time to focus on this matter.
So, we join the Queen of England and the House of Windsor in our admiration for these funny little dogs. Just call me Betty! Or “Your Majesty” will suffice.
Thanks to everyone who commented on yesterday’s post!
That dawg has a sly look about it, as though already aware of a favorite air conditioning vent.Which part of the dawg carries the rear forward?
Saturday, June 14, 2008 – 12:33 PM
Aww! She’s adorable!! And she sounds like a real sweetheart, if clingy. Good luck with the whole desensitizing training. 🙂
Sunday, June 15, 2008 – 05:55 AM