(Not at All) Wordless Wednesday; From Shelter to Home

Last May as part of my volunteer work for Metro Nashville Animal Care and Control (MACC) I handled Damon, a pitbull mix up for adoption at the shelter, for Mayor’s Field Day 2014.

He was so stinkin’ cute and so great with the kids. One family took a particular interest in him, both children and both moms visiting with him multiple times throughout the day. I just knew they would adopt him.

Damon at Nashville's Mayor's Field Day in May 2014.

So imagine my surprise when I saw this poster on Stand By Your MACC’s Facebook page the following week.

Damon Became Urgent

The family didn’t adopt him. In fact, he was on the urgent list meaning he would be at risk for euthanasia the next week if not adopted or pulled by rescue.*

Not gonna happen.

The following Saturday, Daniel and I drove to MACC and adopted Damon.

Gotcha!

Gotcha!

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And we’ve never looked back.

Damon has now completed two basic obedience classes and earned his Canine Good Citizen title. He plays ball with his Border Collie brother Jack. He and his German Shepherd mix sister Jade coexist peacefully most of the time. Can’t imagine our family without him.

*All four dogs on the urgent list that week made it out of the shelter. With the hiring of a new shelter director later in 2014 time limits on adoptable pets were abolished. 


Damon_Training_CGC

DamonatHome

Happy Fourth ‘Gotcha Day’ Jack

Four years ago today my life changed.

A lot.

Daniel and I drove to Kingston Springs after work to pick up Jack the Border Collie.

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He hesitated a few moments before trying the stairs up the porch to the front door. But quickly decided a few steps couldn’t stop him from exploring his new home.

He met Angel the geriatric cat.

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They’ve since become buddies. Although he still herds her mercilessly.

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Jack initiated me into the wonders of sharing my life with a border collie, and now I can’t imagine my life without one. Within days he not only taught me that while it’s true border collies are not dogs for everyone, but for those willing put forth the effort to gain knowledge about breed, accommodate their quirks, keep their minds active, and become partners with them in learning, there is no better companion.

Every once in a while a dog comes into your life and changes everything.

An Accidental Border Collie-ist and the Dog Who Changed Everything

every once in a while a dog comes into your life and changes everything

If you have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram friend who has a dog, you’ve likely seen that quote before. I have no idea who said it first. Definitely not original with me.

But on February 15, 2011 I experienced it. That day I became an accidental border collie-ist. That’s the day we brought home Jack, the border collie.

Jack's Gotcha Day Feb 15, 2011

Jack’s first day at home. 2/15/2011.

The first couple of nights wore us all out. Howling, barking, crying…not all of that was Jack.

But over the next several days something happened. I can’t explain it. Don’t know the exact moment. But within two weeks Jack forever changed my life. I fell in love not only with Jack, but with the breed.

We’re coming up on Jack’s four year “gotcha day” anniversary. He’s not an easy dog, though probably relatively easy by border collie standards. But he’s opinionated, stubborn, and too smart for me. But I love that dog. Because of him I cannot imagine my life without a border collie.

Out of the Mouth of my Very Smart Husband

Saturday Daniel took me to watch an agility trial after we got our hair cut and ate breakfast. He’s nice that way. Does stuff I enjoy just because I enjoy it. But that’s another post.

I’m not sure how long we were there watching the dogs and their handlers run agility courses, but it seemed like only a minute. Probably closer to two hours. I could have stayed all day. There’s nothing like watching dog and handler teams working together.

But what Daniel said to me on the way home stopped me and left me speechless. Which he will tell you seldom, if ever, happens.

He said, “You need to do that.”

I replied, “Do what?”

“Learn to work with dogs,” he explained.

“Well, I’m trying to learn,” I said.

He turned to look at me and uttered the words that made me speechless, the words I haven’t been able to get out of my mind since Saturday afternoon.

“No, I mean you need to work with dogs. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you that passionate about something. You were sitting up on the edge of your seat completely involved in what was going on.”

Wow.

He’s right. I love working with dogs. I would love to be able to do what those dog/handler teams do.

So I think I will.

Rant Tempered By Grace

So this morning I posted on Facebook that my friends should prepare for a rant coming later today. But I have lots of praying friends who must have prayed for me, because now that I sit down to rant, I find that rant tempered by no small amount of Grace that certainly doesn’t come from my heart.

We have neighbors. Neighbors who have an unaltered female dog who had puppies a couple of months ago. She has one puppy left. I think they sold the others.

This dog is not leash trained. At all. Although the man who lives in the home can handle her. Sort of. The woman, not so much.

The dog, Brandy, has never been aggressive toward people, that I’m aware of. She has never barked at our dogs when we’ve been out walking them. Although we don’t walk on her side of the street if they have her out.

But Brandy hates cats, it seems.

This morning, when the woman had 60-70 pound Brandy on a flexi-lead, the dog got loose, ran to our porch where our mostly feral cat was eating breakfast. She attacked the cat. The woman finally got her under control, managing to get her back across the street into the garage.

The cat ran off. I have no idea if he’s injured. There’s no blood on the porch or sidewalk that I could see.

The woman came back over, tears streaming down her face, and apologized. She said she would pay for damages. I explained I don’t care about the broken flower pots and trampled plants. I just worried about our cat.

I realize that’s the risk of caring for feral cats. I do. I also realize that any one of our dogs can pull away from the leash at any time.

But this family has made no efforts to train this dog. They have bred her, probably hoping to make money from her. And they use a flexi-lead on a very strong, large dog.

Do I think I could call my Jack back to me if he got loose from me and decided to herd the deer that were in the field this morning. No, I doubt I could.

So I’m trying to be forgiving. I’m trying to extend grace to this woman.

And I’m praying our little feral cat who’s managed to survive 10 years is okay and not laying somewhere injured and in pain.

Grace.

I need it.

Reading, Writing, Facebook, and Dog Vomit

Catchy title-LOL! But seriously covers my weekend.

Reading: need to catch up on my TBR stack/file. Books to finish. Books to start. Books to write a review for. Goal for the next week-finish Captives and read one other.

Writing: gearing up for NANO. Trying to get out of my own mind about it. I really can do it if I get out of my own way. Sigh.

Facebook: Must wean myself off. Seriously. No more than one hour per day with a goal to whittle that down to no more than 30 minutes per day by the end of the year. I get FB PMs on my phone. While I enjoy staying in touch with everyone, some stuff just bogs me down and depresses me.

Dog vomit: Friday night Jack had some GI stuff-I’ll leave that to your imagination. Since he already had a vet appointment Saturday morning at 8 to check the atopic dermatitis on his feet I didn’t call. Two injections, Four oral prescriptions, and almost $200 that we really did not have later-he’s fine. I’m glad he’s fine. We concluded that he was likely snacking in the cat litter while we were at work. Dogs can be really, really disgusting at times. So today, Angel is safely locked away in our bathroom with her litter box, food, and water.

I need a day off work today to rest.

So how was your weekend? Hopefully without dog vomit-or any other kind of vomit.

When My Dog Became More Than “My Dog”

I’ve been trying for a week to figure out how to articulate something I’m sure many other dog people have experienced.  I’m equally sure many of those people have explained the phenomenon much better than I ever will.

But here goes.

Something shifted in my relationship with Jack last Sunday. I can tell you the exact moment it happened, though I didn’t realize it until a couple of hours later. The shift was subtle, but also paradigm shifting for me.

He became my partner, my true friend, a piece of me.

I know that sounds over the edge for lots of people, even people who love animals. But something shifted as I crossed the start threshold with him at the ORT. We became more than just handler and canine. We became a team. He understood what I asked him to do, and he did it. Willingly. With joy. I watched him work that hide in awe of his abilities, knowing I had to trust him completely to show me where it was, and that he would show me.

We communicated.

More than just me reading his alert.

I asked him to do something.

He agreed to do it.

He gave me information.

I understood what he told me.

A team. A partnership. A friendship truly from the heart.

 

Countdown to ORT: Day 19

The members of the NACSW discussion group are a great bunch of folks. I sent out a plea for advice yesterday to help me deal with my nerves over the upcoming ORT. I’ve been overwhelmed by the thoughtful, supportive responses.

I kept tonight’s practice pretty short-only three searches with one hide each. Also kept them simple. We stopped with Jack almost begging to keep working.

To watch some advanced K9 Nose Work teams and see what it’s all about check out posts on the K9 Nose Work Blog here, here, here, and here.

Just amazing!