Sweet scene spotted on my way home:
a boy and his pup walking down the road. The pup’s eyes were trained on his friend as he pranced along with lolling tongue and a big smile, clearly adoring his boy.
As I got closer, I sensed something wrong. I noticed
that the pup was filthy and had no collar or leash.
Intending to drive away satisfied with my good deed, I rolled down the window to offer the spare collar and leash I had in the van. “Is that your dog?”
What was I doing?!?! Do I not have enough dogs already?
The boy turned a pathetically miserable face to me and said, “No, but he’s been following me for two days. I can’t get rid of him!” If not so sad, it would have been funny.
I sighed, got out and opened the back door of the van. The dirty puppy didn’t really want to leave the boy’s side but curiosity got the better of him. He stuck his nose in; I guess the van’s doggie smell eased his concern, and I quickly shut the door behind him. He glanced worriedly at his friend, but recovered quickly – in the single minute it took to reach home, he demolished a bag of plastic poop bags and my
recyclables, covering the back of the van in doggie confetti. “Oh boy,” I thought“,I’m in for trouble.” But,
he was cute, young, and white – all the ingredients of a fast and easy adoption. I could endure the
‘trouble’ for a little while.
I already have Brad Pit and Al Pacino and at one time had Bobby De Niro, so I called him Dusty, for his dirty coat and short for Dustin Hoffman. Over the next few days, he displayed his talents, and I realized that I should have named him Trouble. He shortcut across tabletops, cabinets and crates. He rocketed around the house, scattering everything not secured, including other dogs, in his wake. He provoked the
cats to hiss and spit. He humped every dog in sight.
Dusty was having the time of his life. The rest of the household - not so much. Alex stopped eating and was reduced to a quaking bundle of fur by the whining, fussing, howling and barking. All but a couple of other dogs scurried for quieter parts and I…. well, let’s not go there.
The day of his neuter appointment, I could still hear him yowling as I pulled out of the parking lot. Two hours later, I got the call: “Come get your dog!” According to the staff, he stayed quiet for just an hour while coming out of anesthesia, then resumed his ear-piercing screams. Even though he was quiet as a tail-wagging angel when he saw me, the staff was not amused.
I taught him that the crate (“house”) is a good thing. He learned well and he was fine as long as he had an antler or a hoof to chew on - or until his new best friends, Willa and I, left the room. Then he threw terrible temper tantrums, even stomping his feet to add to his other non-stop noise. I just knew someone would send Animal Control to my doorstep to investigate animal abuse. With so many dogs and cats to care for (plus the need to go to work, operate the rescue and even grab a few hours of sleep) I couldn’t sit there and hold his paw. What was wrong? Why couldn’t I help him feel safe as I had so many others?
The next weekend a friend came to help me photograph Dusty for his Petfinder.com listing. Again, I felt that something wrong. I squeaked toys, snapped fingers and made silly noises, but I couldn’t get him to
look at me or even turn in my direction – not even an ear twitch. It was almost as if he didn’t hear me.
And there it was – Dusty is deaf!
No wonder this pup misbehaved - he couldn’t hear my commands and didn’t know what I wanted him to do. The poor little guy had clearly never received any training that would give him structure and make him feel safe. Now I understood his prancing with eyes glued to the boy he was following. Visual cues and Willa’s motherly corrections were all he had.
My heart sank with the realization that despite his being a fine-looking dog with lots of promise I cannot give him the attention and special intervention he needs to become adoptable. He needs hand signal obedience training and socialization to a household and other dogs. A donation has already paid for Dusty’s vetting and my dog whisperer, Joe Simmons, will provide the special training Dusty needs at the
rescue rate of $250. When he graduates, I will learn how to continue his progress. Now all he needs is the training fee. Please help me help this sweet rascal via:
PayPal at SilverRescue@gmail.com
Or snail to:
P.O. Box 111888
Nashville, TN 37222