After my previous post, I promised myself that I would share something light and carefree or at least with less potential to leave my followers in tears. So here it is. Just a nice little (but long) story about two little dogs and one little family.
The first I learned of Daisy was when her adoptive mother Vicki Earl contacted me somewhat desperately through a Facebook posting after Daisy had bitten one of her two sons for a second time. Having done so seemingly unprovoked, Vicki was shocked and saddened by this turn of events, not only because Daisy was so sweet and loving with all of them otherwise but because they had used so much care in choosing her.
They had done much as I always preach which was to take plenty of time in the selection process. Together they visited our shelter on several occasions and spent significant time with Daisy after seeing her and thinking she might be a good fit. The boys, four and six had spent time interacting with her in the lobby and outside to ensure all got along. And once in the home, Daisy had been given ample rules and limitations (often overlooked with a new pet but not in her case) and plenty of exercise too as both Vicki and her husband are avid runners and Daisy got the benefit of their joy for running. I couldn’t ask for more.
So when Daisy nipped the first time, both parents began supervising her much more closely when with the boys to see what might be causing such unexpected behavior. When they witnessed her nipping when the boys would play with each other, they were understandably concerned. And when she bit again as they watched her in bed with one of the boys with no probable cause, the situation became much more dire. Vicki was also quite sad because she wanted theirs to be her forever home and giving her up had never been a consideration. Just as Vicki said to me during our first communication, “She is part of our family.”
And while I appreciated all the effort they took in choosing Daisy as well as the time they gave her to settle into her new home, when Vicki described to me the situation, what they had attempted to resolve it and the supervision they were now providing, my instinct told me that this wasn’t the right dog for their family. And I hated saying that both because it would mean not just breaking everyone’s heart as they all loved her despite her issues and it would also mean Daisy would be homeless again. And with some history of biting, finding her a home just became much more challenging. Not a huge demand for biting dogs.
Regardless, my advice to her was emphatically that this was a dangerous situation and one that needed to be remedied post haste. Had the children been older my advice would likely have been quite different, but that wasn’t the case. Assuring her that I would foster Daisy in my home, allayed her apprehension I believe and promising to help them find the right dog didn’t hurt either. Although she assured me it might be awhile before they’d try again. They LOVED Daisy and the thought of going through the process again with uncertain results was not very motivating.
While on the surface my offer to foster Daisy may have appeared to be simply to relieve Daisy’s family’s worries about her returning to the shelter, the fact was an evaluation of her biting was a necessity. I also like a challenge and fortunately had room for Daisy at that moment so it was fated. I believe in fate if you didn’t know. These things are not accidents.
The day they returned her to the shelter, I picked Daisy up after work and would spend the drive home thinking of what to call her as I already had one Daisy at home. She was friendly, outgoing and as perky as I expected a Jack Russell mix to be. As I introduced her to my pack upon arrival, it took little to no time for Daisy or DeDe, as I had renamed her on our trip, to explain to me why she had bitten the boys.
And it’s not because she’s a Jack Russell mix. While she is, she’s simply a very confident little dog that likes to be in charge. She’s bossy. And she doesn’t really care what size you are or whose turf she’s on, she’s a control freak of sorts. Whether it’s my 115 pound mellow Mastiff mix Bruce or my 25 pound energetic terrier mix Sophie, DeDe would try to push her weight, all 12 pounds of it, around in her new pack. And while I explained to her that under no uncertain terms that I in fact was the pack leader, she still couldn’t help but try. It’s just a part of what and who she is.
Two little boys were way too easy and obvious targets of her desire to control. Not to say she didn’t love those boys. I’m certain she did as she seemed to LOVE everyone she met. But just as the boys couldn’t help themselves but run and roll and tumble as little boys will, DeDe couldn’t help herself but react to her drive and instincts too. As much as I worked to redirect her mind and energy and as much as she responded well to this retraining, she will likely always be a confident little dog with lots of energy.
My sister Merrell has two such dogs and I think she enjoyed my stories about DeDe’s exploits more than any other dog I’ve fostered since she’s lives with much the same with her two dogs, Jack and Gus. I’m sure she thought it was my turn!
I actually enjoyed and came to love DeDe quickly! But this sort of dog isn’t for everyone (right Merrell?). While she’s never offered to bite or nip me and her behavior with visitors including children has been exemplary, I still would not adopt her to a home with young children.
She was a darling cuddly, love bug of a little girl who was happy to settle onto your lap or into your arms for a snuggle and kisses. She rarely would let me out of her sight and would hop into any open car to go for a ride regardless of the driver. DeDe is a charmer and difficult to deny.
But she’s not a dog for small children. She’s not a dog for a home where the “owners” aren’t willing and able to reinforce their positions at the top of the food chain. Even with my fairly balanced pack where she acclimated into wonderfully in no time, her air of bossiness could land her in hot water from time to time.
On Saturday April 13th I sent Daisy off with some tears to a wonderful rescue that we work with often and to a new foster there where she’ll be running their show until they find her a forever home. I’m missing her already but one day I hope I’ll share the rest of DeDe Daisy’s story but until then I’m happy to report that her new foster absolutely adores her and says she is quite a character! Sounds like my girl!
Somewhere there’s a perfect home for hDeDe. She’ll be the love of someone’s life and will bring a special happiness into their world every single day. Until then, I’ll not worry one lick about our DeDe…just miss her.
But that’s not the end of our story.
Certainly as I will attest, despite her small size, DeDe leaves a big hole in your home when she leaves, so the Earl family returned to the shelter to look for another dog a week or so later.
They came to check out a few of recommendations that included a dog named Cash. Cash was an adolescent Beagle that had originally been very scared on arrival at the shelter but would soon settle in, responding well to staff and volunteers alike. When he attended an adoption event at the pet store he was Mr. Congeniality, greeting strangers like old friends and welcoming the attention of children throughout the store. And while still quite young, his demeanor was less frantic and more playful than DeDe’s had ever been.
Unfortunately, neither his website photo or his face behind the cage door, elicited vast excitement or love at first sight. Maybe it was because most of Cash’s expression was in the form of his exuberantly wagging tail. His face remained generally placid.
I was undaunted but cautious not to be too pushy. Sometimes quite a challenge for me. When I brought Cash into the big play yard to play, their interest picked up as they saw him interacting with me.
When the boys joined Cash in the yard, Vicki warned them to be quiet and gentle. I asked her then if this is what she had done when introducing DeDe to the boys. When she said “yes”, I suggested a different tactic. Let the boys be boys. Since that’s what Cash would be expected to live with, observing his reaction to them at full speed would be the best test. So we turned the boys loose on Cash and Cash loose on the boys. It was much more civilized than I’m making it sound, but I think you get the idea.
And as the boys ran and yelled and threw toys into the air and in the direction of Cash hoping he was less Beagle and more Retriever, it was a joy to observe. Cash was tolerant even when startled by the boys. Growing more interested in joining them in play with each moment, he was gentle even as we saw his excitement escalating and he began running with them in the yard.
Although it occurred to me that this probably was Cash’s first experience playing this way, he was quickly enamored by them and while he feigned some interest in the grownups in the yard, it was the boys that captured his attention. The boys likewise seemed to be very comfortable too and were thrilled when their tossing of a ball was rewarded with Cash’s dash and retrieval. I wasn’t going to tell him that Beagle’s aren’t retrievers….apparently Cash is!
They spent plenty of time with Cash to give all a feel for his energy, attitude and personality. There would be a family lunch to discuss whether or not this was the right dog for them and then they would soon return to gather up the little dog and head for home.
Just like with virtually every new addition, Cash has had his own bumps in the road integrating into a new life — I understand a library book has been his latest victim and a bunch of bananas were eaten — but the Earl’s will tell you that Cash is a wonderful addition to this lovely family. And if they don’t, these pictures with Andrew and Alexander say it all.
See, no tears.