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Come and Meet My New Dog!

My Dog's Home.10.29.09

Here he is, at long last: “Tony,” formerly of the Humane Society of Indianapolis, now living at my house (and currently hiding under the bed).

Tony, or Julian, or maybe even Jamie, I haven’t decided which. In a way I want to wait until I know him better to rename him; his name should fit him, not me. I’d previously decided on Julian, for Dame Julian of Norwich, the 15th century English mystic whose work I’ve gotten to know this year. But now that I see who I’m going to bestow a new name upon, I’m not sure Julian quite fits. It’s an awfully serious name, but dogs should have fun. So I’ve been calling him Buddy till we come up with something permanent.

Here’s what I can tell you about him: he’s a little guy, three years old, a terrier mix (mostly rat I think), about a foot tall, maybe 12 pounds, in good health, not skinny, not fat, rated a 5 (just right) on a 9-point ideal weight scale. He’s white with a mostly black face, except for where some vanilla ice cream dripped down his forehead to his chin.

He’s quiet, I haven’t heard him bark yet. He tolerated a long drive (two hours) in the car just fine, staying in the back seat, not hiding, just watching me sometimes. When we pulled into the garage, he knew this is the place; I got his leash, he jumped out and we went exploring the back yard. He may have gotten his first sense of where the boundaries are (I don’t have a fence here). He lifted his leg next to the basketball pole (perfect spot), handled the steps on the deck just fine, and walked right into the kitchen. I took off his leash and he went exploring, the kitchen, the dining room and living room. I think he likes the dining room rug the best so far, so that’s where his bed goes tonight. (We’ll see if he sleeps there or under mine.)

But he wouldn’t come upstairs, where I spend most of my time. I fed and watered him, then brought a sandwich up to my room and ate in peace; he didn’t feel like following me. I finally brought him up in my arms; don’t know yet whether the steps are too tall for him or he’s just kinda scared about being in this unfamiliar place.

He comes when I call him, and seems like a well-behaved boy. When I sit on the floor, he comes and sits in my lap for a little while; he likes to be touched. He licks my hand when he’s happy. I think that’s great for the first night.

I can’t say enough about the Humane Society of Indy. It’s a fairly busy place, with dogs and cats and humans in and out all day long, so the staff and volunteers need to be gentle yet outgoing with everyone—and they are. The adoption process is easy, though they do want to make sure you’re capable of caring for the animal you propose to take home. I got a complete medical history on my pooch (so far as it can be known), which I’ll take with me to the vet next week. They have two veterinarians on staff and the operating room is busy, not just spay/neuterings but broken legs, eye problems, minor dental work, even major surgery. The volunteers help with chores and answer questions; the girl who helped me is a high school senior who’s applied to Purdue for animal technology, a four-year degree, plus some extra training in dog psychology.

Even though the drive was long, and I had to overcome my disappointment at coming home empty-handed last week, I decided to try HSI again because I’d started to get to know the organization and see how it functions; I’d started to trust them. In adoptions it’s important that the animal and the human start to develop some trust, of course, but you also have to trust the people you’re getting the animal from. I felt like the Humane Society of Indy knows what they’re doing, they provide good care and have many relationships in the community, so my dog and I are the beneficiaries of all those years of building up trust. The kennels are clean, everyone gets good food and exercise and attention, as well as professional services, and I feel confident that no one could take better care of “Tony” until I showed up to take him out of his cage and give him a house to run around in.

In the olden days most adoptions were informal, at least here in the country; if you wanted a dog, somebody said that Mrs. Smith’s collie had a litter a month ago. But now there’s money in animals, puppy mills, backyard breeders who’ve got inventory to move, rescue societies you don’t know from Adam, the Westminster show on TV; dogs are big business. I not only felt comfortable with what I saw and who I met at the Humane Society, I know that if something went wrong there would be an uproar in the community because they don’t conduct their business in private, but in public. That’s as it should be. Buy from someone who’s accountable; go with an organization of volunteers and professionals that’s been around for a hundred years and plans to be here for another hundred.

Besides, the fees they charge are modest ($105 for this boy, AFTER they cleaned him up from getting hit by a car) and you get a whole bunch of freebies and discounts in the deal: microchip included, discounts at area animal hospitals, a month of free insurance, low-priced obedience training tailored to your dog, use of their dog park for a measly 50 bucks a year. I live too far away to take advantage of some of the offerings but still, this guy’s a deal; they give you peace of mind about the pooch you’re taking home, which frees you up to make the relationship you’re hoping to have. Did I mention that the cats are 2-for-1?

No, it’s not the same as the old days, when you could pick up a stray at the county dog pound for a song; it’s better, I think, even if you have to drive a ways. I know exactly what “Tony’s” been through these last few months (they got him from the Humane Society in Kokomo, a reciprocal arrangement that helps both organizations manage space, supply and demand); they disclose everything they know about him, including whatever problems he might have.

Sub-total: they catered to me, they catered to “Tony,” they catered to Luke (who got adopted today!) and they do the same for hundreds of animals every year. So I foresee the start of a beautiful relationship.

Bottom line: I’m loving him already, sweet and gentle and kind.

Here’s another photo; tomorrow I’ll take some more pictures and maybe get his first smile. It’s hard on a fella to have to move, even from a cage, to go live with some stranger, but time will bring familiarity, and familiarity builds trust. The Humane Society has given us a great start.++

My Dog 10.23.09

8 Responses

  1. Mi Amigo Juan Carlos Castillo knows this kind of dog and he´s looking at ¨Tony¨ (maybe) at him with me right NOW…he adores him already and says that this breed of animal is wonderful…so there you have it, a admiration update from Central America (we just got home from a lovely dinner party in Antigua)…dead tired, but can never leave a dog unloved….best to you my friend,

    Leonardo Ricardo

  2. Hey Woofy, welcome at Josh’s place. I know for sure you’ll like it there. And… Josh will have to rearrange his hours too, getting up early for walkies. 😉

  3. Well, “Tony” can’t do much better than getting an endorsement and some loving from Juan Carlos Castillo, so there you have it; this guy’s staying with me.

    And Peter is right on the money about bedtime and uptime. “Tony” stayed under my bed all night, after his big ride in the car and all the excitement, and after all he’s been living on New York Time an hour ahead of me, so at 11 p.m. I took an antihistamine pill to help me feel drowsy, went to sleep and woke up at 6 a.m., which Peter knows is, um, way early for me. I went to the john, got back and “Tony” was running around a little bit, then ducking back under the bed, so it was time we both did our business. I coaxed him out from under, he got his first belly rub, then I carried him downstairs and he was ready to roam. He knows about leashes and is patient with the ritual, we went outdoors and he headed straight for the basketball pole, “Good boy!” From there we went exploring, a little walk around the block and back up the alley so he’d know where home is. It’s cold outside!

    He still hasn’t eaten anything or even had a drink of water, but he found his blanket under the dining room table and is now ensconced. I’ll go downstairs for my second cup of coffee in a minute and see how he’s doing.

    I promise not to gush about him all the time on this blog or in person, I hate it when people do that as if there’s nothing else to talk about, but you can imagine we’re both pretty excited about our first 24 hours. We’ll go back outside at noon and see what the neighborhood looks and smells like when the sun’s up. Maybe by the end of the day I’ll have figured out what’s going on with him and the stairs, he hasn’t even ventured on them yet. He’s so little I don’t mind carrying him up and down if that’s what he needs, but I really think he can manage on his own once he’s more used to this place and my habits.

    BTW, “Luke” is currently the front-running name for this guy. I got used to thinking about the other Luke = My Dog (the Dalmatian/pit bull mix who didn’t match with me) that I’m just kinda stuck on that name right now. We’ll see. I’ll start calling him that and if it feels okay it will stick.

  4. Gush…quit being so, well, Hoosierian (or whatever)…gush, hug, love and run with the wind!

    Leonardo (Juan Carlos´ friend)

  5. Latest Update: Luke it seems to be. Monday was St. Luke’s Day and I got the dog Friday, St. James of Jerusalem. But the name James is already taken around here, so that’s that. This dog’s name is now Luke. And yes, he’s a saint.

    But not perfect by any means. He’s leaving piles in the living room, though I’ve taken him outside six times now in 24 hrs. And he tore the foam padding off a floor disk under the entertainment center that allows me to move it when necessary. This was probably for attention.

    He shows no interest in playing with a ball. I’m not sure he’s ever had one before and he doesn’t seem to understand what to do with it.

    I can’t find the squeaky toy I bought.

    He absolutely won’t climb the stairs, even when I entice him with a piece of cheese. However, he’s all right with going down a few steps by himself.

    A little cheese did remind him to eat his Eagle Pack super-pellets for the first time since he’s been here. I was a little worried about his seeming hunger strike; he knew where and what his dish was because he’d smell it sometimes but otherwise had no interest. Now he’s had a full meal and cleaned his plate. Eagle Pack is what they give all the dogs at the Humane Society, and it seems like pretty good stuff, with lots of vitamins and not much filler.

    I’ve carried him back upstairs now; when I leave him alone downstairs he craves attention, but when he’s up here with me he hides under the bed all the time. I suspect his ideal state is to be a lapdog, which would be okay with me but I’m too “Hoosierian” to admit it.

    Actually the adjective of Hoosier is Hoosier. 🙂

    Maybe I should put him in my lap and see if likes that or want to jump down.

    Hope that within a week he’s settled in and not so schizy. “Give me attention! No, I’m hiding! I know to pee outside but I crap in the living room! I can run down the stairs but not up! What’s my name again?”

  6. Speak to Saint Luke in tongues (the normal way you speak up there)…no, really, treat him like a person that you REALLY LIKE…works everytime (and so does a swat front or back end depending on the tiny atrocity committed)…mold him into your lifestyle (not in the Archbishop of Canterbury sense of the word)…he´ll gain on feeling secure and bond fasto (when dogs at my house don´t eat, I wait until they do eat…usually a matter of a day).

  7. Luke and I are grateful for Uncle Leonardo’s wisdom and advice. It’s easy to like this little guy and treat him well and let him know he’s loved.

    I’m not going to make an issue about the stairs. If and when he’s comfortable going up as well as down, he’ll just walk up, and gain more freedom that way. If the stairs are still intimidating, I’m not going to leave him behind as I move up and down. He likes being around me.

    I tried the lapdog thing; he does like sitting with me for awhile, but when he’s done he jumps down and goes to check out the heating ducts, these strange metal grates on the floor that are always in need of a sniff or two.

    Meanwhile he’s exploring some more, the other rooms upstairs. At bedtime he doesn’t leave the room, even when he wakes up long before I do. He was quiet all night last night, didn’t whine or bark. When I finally woke up at 8:30 he jumped around like a crazy person, but was patient while I got dressed so we could go outside. And he’s excellent about waiting for his leash, doesn’t scratch the door trying to get out. (It’s a new door and I’d rather not have it torn up.)

    We’ll get the hang of the ball and the squeaky toy eventually, no need to rush. He’s still adjusting here, it’s a big change from the humane society where things were so routine; it’s dark, lights out, the people go away and it’s just us dogs; then it’s light, the people come, we get food and water, then lots more people looking at us, maybe we get to go outside awhile, this cage is really boring…

    As Padre Mickey would say, I loves me some Luke. Now where’s Red Mr. Peanut Bank, he’s always good for a laugh.

  8. Good…obviously a very cool, and spiritually/emotionally well ordered, arrangement for both parties….Shrieeeeek!

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