I walked into the animal shelter with plans to talk to one of the workers about a cat, and then get out. I had six foster dogs at home, and no interest in adding to that number. But of course it's very difficult, if not impossible, for a dog rescuer to enter an animal shelter and NOT look at the dogs. So I decided to just walk through and say hi to them - nothing more. There was a beautiful red pit bull there, appropriately named "Red". He lay by the door, looking quietly at me. He looked sad, and he didn't get up or bark or do anything but look at me with big eyes that looked hopeless. I had just found out that my work was going to be laying off people at the end of the year, and I was one of the people who would be cut, so I was just as sad as he was. His family had gone to a homeless shelter and had to turn him in to the animal shelter. He felt even more lost than I did at that moment. So I felt an instant connection to him. Still, I have Ziggy and Roxy, both pit bull fosters, and it would be very tough to bring in another big dog right now, so I kept walking and greeting all the dogs. Then I stopped back by the office and let them know that if Red ran out of time, to please contact me first. Like most shelters and rescues in the area (and all over the country), pit bulls are very difficult to adopt out. I don't know if I'll be able to save Red even if they contact me, but I couldn't just leave him there without doing something. If Roxy or Ziggy (ha) gets adopted then Red will be the first pit bull I will try to save. As it was, as I talked to the manager about Red, she told me about another dog that was out of time right then. This dog was a puggle. Puggles are a designer mix of a Pug and a Beagle. They're not my favorite breeds, and our group already had two Puggles available for adoption, so I immediately thought I'd be able to say no. I wasn't looking for a new foster dog, and especially not another problem dog. As sad as it was that this dog was out of options, I have to say no to dogs that are out of options every day, so this one would be no different. Then she showed me the puggle. And I sighed. Because the puggle was so extraordinarily cute and happy to see us. She jumped in the air, and ran in circles, and smiled a giant smile. And she cheered me up and made me forget all my problems. And I couldn't walk away. I asked about the reason she was out of time, and they explained that she had separation anxiety. Many dogs have this to some degree, including my foster dog Roxy, so I wasn't too concerned. But the reason they weren't making her available for adoption anymore was because she'd already been adopted and returned. And adopted again and returned. Then a third time. And a fourth. After the fourth return, they said they couldn't keep doing that to her. Obviously her separation anxiety issues were pretty severe, and not something they were able to work with in a shelter environment. But the only complaint the last owners had made when they returned her was that she barked nonstop when they left and the neighbors had complained. I live in the country and have no close neighbors, so I said okay, I'll take her and see what I can do.
I took her to my mom's house and kid-tested her with my young niece and nephews. She did great! Then I took her home and cat tested her - passed with flying colors. Then a slower introduction to the other dogs, and again, she was perfect. Then after she was settled in and comfortable, we performed the first test of her separation anxiety. I put her in a wire crate with a bed, some water, and a couple of toys. I sat down on the couch in the next room where she could still see me, and I ignored her as she barked and cried. This went on for awhile, and I wasn't looking at her because I didn't want to encourage the barking. Suddenly I realized the barking sounded closer. I looked over, and she was out of her crate and standing behind the baby gate, still trying to get to me. So I investigated and this is what I found:
Somehow she'd managed to bend out the wires in the top of the crate and crawl out. I was amazed. She then proceeded to jump over the three foot high baby gate to get to me. I was even more amazed. So I named her Morgan after the famous female escape artist. Because if the human Morgan ever needs an assistant, I think puggle Morgan is the one for her!
I have had to leave Morgan a couple of times since she arrived, and have found a plastic crate that so far she has not figured out how to escape from. She does continue to bark while I'm gone, but I've received some helpful advice from some Facebook friends and I don't think her separation anxiety is anything too serious. We'll keep working on it and I'll try to find her a permanent home with someone who is able to also work with her, and is home most of the time to make it as easy on her as possible. Until then, I guess she's my therapy dog, because it's hard to be sad when you have a dog who looks at you like this: