Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Introducing Gretchen

She's not mine yet... but I'm counting the days. I wrote about Gretchen recently here, and at the time I was concerned because I was pretty sure she was going to have to be euthanized. The shelter didn't think she'd pass her behavior evaluation, and suggested if I wanted to save her I needed to come get her pretty quickly. I was prepared for the worst, but felt that I would be failing her if I didn't at least go and see her for myself. So I drove out there last Friday and cautiously introduced myself to Gretchen. I'm not very brave when it comes to aggressive dogs. I have spent most of my life being afraid of dogs (how embarrassing - but true!) so approaching a dog that I really expected to growl and snap at me was a little bit nerve-wracking. So you can imagine my surprise when I walked up to the kennel of a dog who was loosely wagging her tail, smiling with an open mouth, and generally acting very friendly through the bars of her cage. The volunteer who took me to meet Gretchen left to find a place for me to interact with her, and I used the time to bribe Gretchen with a few beef jerky treats - just to make sure she knew I really was her friend. Okay, maybe it's not the way you're supposed to start off an evaluation - but hey, I wasn't evaluating her for immediate adoption, only to see if she could be adoptable with some work - so in this case, I think bribery is completely allowed.

By the way, some signs of an aggressive dog (besides growling or snapping/biting) can include a stiff posture, closed mouth, and rapid tail wags. This is why people sometimes mistake a dog who is wagging its tail for being friendly when its not. I was relieved to see no defensive posture or behavior from Gretchen at all. Instead a found a happy, if slightly fearful, dog. We spent about an hour together, and I quickly fell in love. She came when I called her, sat on command, let me pull her tail and play with her paws and her ears without complaining, and then proceeded to lick my face to let me know how much she liked me. I tried to make her feel threatened, but I'm not very good at being threatening. I wanted to see if I could get her to growl at me. Instead, I would yell or make a loud noise, and she would startle and back away, and I would almost immediately reassure her. I guess I skipped straight from "evaluating" to "training". But once I realized she was not a lost cause, I gave her my heart and decided then and there to do whatever I could to save her.


The shelter worker advised that Gretchen had indeed failed her behavior evaluation, and that they would not be able to adopt her out or hold her for three weeks until I could move and take her in. The volunteers at the shelter were wonderful, and told me how well Gretchen was doing and what an improvement she had been making since she came to the shelter. But most shelters are not like foster homes, and they have limited opportunities to train dogs that need extra work. So I quickly began searching for other options for Gretchen. Unfortunately adoptions have been very slow lately, and all of the other foster homes are full. I called my friend Chuck who volunteers at a different municipal shelter and asked if they could make any room for Gretchen temporarily. He said YES!!! He went and picked her up yesterday and said she is doing fine. She did some growling and aggressive behavior when she first got there, but that was expected since it was scary going to yet another new place. Chuck is spending time with her and helping her to get comfortable. (He bribed her with hot dogs too - I don't feel so guilty about the beef jerky treats anymore.) I am so grateful to him and to the shelter workers where she is staying for saving her life. Being at this shelter is as close as you can get to being in a foster home. The dogs are well cared for and Chuck is there every day taking them out in the fenced yard for play time and interaction, both with other dogs and with people. They have other volunteers that also come in and walk the dogs, and the dogs are really worked with, not just warehoused. So I know that Gretchen is in good hands, and I am just impatiently waiting for the day I can go get her.

13 comments:

Kari in WeHo said...

so glad that things are working out well for Gretchen!

don't forget, we moved to dogisgodinreverse.com

JackDaddy said...

I'm confused (but what else is new). Why do you have to wait to get her?

mayziegal said...

Oh, that's so very much wonderful! Yippee for Gretchen! I hope, hope, hope that she can get over being skeered and find her Most Perfect Home That Ever Was! Thank you for helping her.

I can't believe you're skeered of dogs! I guess that's why you like to foster pit bulls, huh? If only peoples knew your secret!

Wiggles & Wags,
Mayzie

Amy and The House of Cats said...

Oh yay we are so glad that Gretchen is able to go live with you to learn to be less scared and therefor less aggressive. Oh, and her face - it is so adorable. In that last picture especially she just looks like a beautiful, happy dog! We know you will be able to work with her and get her so she is able to be adopted out!!

Cupcake said...

I'm so happy for Miss Gretchen!! I hope she finds a forever home soon. A special 'thank you' to Chuck for helping you out. I can't wait to read more about her when you get to your new home.

Love, Cupcake

Ying and Yang said...

We are so, so ,so happy to hear good news about Gretchen, not the sad ending you were dreading, and how great of the shelter to still give her a chance even tho she failed their evaluation. She looks like such a nice doggy, with you and your friend's care she's sure to find the perfect home!

Grins and Kisses,
Ying and Yang

Stanislaw said...

Mom wants you to know that your blog is her favorite. She loves what you do and how you put 1,000% of your heart into it. It's really inspiring and your critters are some really lucky critters indeed.

JulieB said...

That's so awesome! You have such a big heart and your fur-kids are very lucky to have you. So happy to hear that Gretchen will have another chance at life. Who knows what may have happened to her in her previous home, but animals do not usually become aggressive for no reason. I am sure that she will be able to overcome her fears and find a happy, loving, forever home. She deserves it as do all of our furry friends. Good luck and please keep us posted on how she is doing.

PS: Tell Chuck he is awesome for working with her! Hopefully he will also be able to help Miss Cocoa find her forever home too.

Pibble said...

She's a beauty, and now she'll be in great hands with you. I'm so glad she's able to foster with you in your new place. How exciting and lucky for her!

From Shelter To Home said...

It is so neat that you would be willing to take her in. :)

Joanne said...

Wonderful. I wrote you previously that she needed a chance. Never take the word of anyone else regarding the temperament of an animal. If all of the circumstances are not included, it is not a fair assessment. Most of the shelter assessments are inaccurate and unfair and need to be revised and revamped. What a sigh of relief for this little girl. Thumbs up to you!!!

Macho said...

I read your previous post about Gretchen and was sad to read about her situation. I think it's really great that you went to see her and will be taking her in. It really sounds like she deserves a second chance. Good luck :)

Anonymous said...

Awww Laurie. I love to see your puppies all grown up. SHe is beautiful. Im sure she remembered you taking such good care of her and her sibling; probably why she didn't growl at you. Great post!