The Joy of Rescue
There are various ways to rescue a dog. In our case our beloved Dakota, a golden retriever, passed away unexpectedly. We were heartbroken and began looking for a new one. I just don’t want to live without a golden in my life!
After trying many websites and making phone calls we found more than our share of scams and unrealistic costs. After four goldens we have come to love the breed, but do not insist on registered or “full blood”. Finally, a year or so old golden / lab mix appeared on Craigslist. The photo grabbed my heart. He was so thin and seemed to be looking for love. He was listed as “free to a good home”. You rarely see that if it’s not a scam. We emailed back and forth and I found the owners were moving and over-their-heads in dogs. They really did want a good home for the dog. I had posted photos of Dakota several times on this website and was able to send links to those pages showing what a wonderful life our goldens have. They accepted and ten hours later I was in Phoenix trying to find the address.
It turned out they really were over their heads having four large dogs living in a small apartment patio space. Gordo, as they called him, was the puppy and the smallest. Once we were on our way back to Pagosa I began making observations. He was scared of being in a car and all the noise of driving. He hovered in the back shaking. He was frightfully thin and without muscle tone. It was obvious he was not getting his share of the food or exercise in the limited patio space. During his first rub, I discovered lumps around his neck. My first thought was ticks, but they turned out to be scabs caught in his thick fur. Dozens of them! My guess is that the other dogs fought him away from the food bowl. When I got a good look he was still oozing blood from a wound on his nose and he had an inch long scar on his lower lip that should have had stitches.
At rest stops along the way home, I took him out on a leash and noted he was very afraid, and at the same time, interested in everything. My guess is that he was held in that patio for his entire life and had virtually no experience in the big world outside. I was told he wasn’t house trained and he seemed to have no clue about the most common knowledge puppies pick up along the way. Back at home, we kept him on a leash all the time when outside. We began walking him letting new experiences come along one by one in his new neighborhood.
I began to see how smart he is. After two times scolding him for pooping in the house he was trained. He never did it again! Ruth took him for walks around our property line pulling him back when he wanted to go beyond the line. After a week or so he knew the rules and we gave him off leash freedom. He seldom went beyond the line.
One day he was walking out in our field and a rabbit jumped up. We had never seen him do more than trot and suddenly he began to run. It was like a discovery, in the patio he had never had the chance to run. He forgot about the rabbit and just ran across the property, turned and ran across again and again. We saw his face full of excitement and joy, “I can run!”
Then, after a month or so, he went into his “terrible teens”, to use a human term. He began to expand the limits. He also started “binge barking” at deer, coyotes, and anything else that moved. He barked four hours straight one night and would not come when called, this was not good.
I cannot say if this will work for every dog, but I found a miracle! I knew there were collars used for shocking a misbehaving dog and I searched on the internet. I found just the item on the WalMart website and ordered one. I hated the thought of shocking him, but had to do something. I found there are several types of these collars. The one I bought having several settings including shock, audio tone and vibration. As a prelude to shock, I tried vibration. It was like the paw of the doggy god came down from the sky, grabbed him by the neck and shook him into a new reality. Whatever it was, he didn’t like it. I never had to shock him!
From the beginning he worked his way into Ruth’s mothering instincts. He was very needy when it came to being loved and given attention. For the first time ever a dog was allowed onto her bed. He jumped on the bed and began snuggling immediately. She was sold! Now he sleeps with one of us every night. Yes, we keep our dogs clean and bug free.
It has been a true joy watching Duke gain weight and body tone. His fur went from straw like to fluffy. His coat is full now with waves and curls. When he runs the muscles ripple under his skin. He is an alert and smart dog of three something now and could not be more loved. It was a challenge, but worth it.
Your start to rescuing a deserving dog or pet begin with the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs.