Thursday, May 31, 2012

Introducing Scamp

Koko's picture on CraigsList
]scamp: noun
1. an unscrupulous and often mischievous person; rascal; rogue; scalawag.
2. a playful, mischievous, or naughty young person; upstart.

Her name used to be Koko. When I saw her picture on Craigslist, I fell in love with her cute scruffy face and her big smile. I immediately contacted the owner and offered to take her as a foster dog. I expected that the owner would have several offers for this adorable dog, so I prepared myself for disappointment. But instead, I got a call from the owner, and she had only had a couple of people contact her about Koko, and those people had not followed through, so I was the lucky winner! At least that was how I thought of it at the time. I immediately shared her picture with anyone who would look, and anxiously waited for several hours before I was able to get her. I had not even met her yet, and I was in love.

Koko’s owner had a large family and due to losing their home, they had to move into a small rental property with no options to keep their dog. They loved her and wanted what was best for her, and I assured them I would take great care of her and find her the perfect home. I had no idea how she would do with other dogs – she had lived with an older dog and was said to be good with dogs but an “alpha”. I also had no idea how she would do with cats. I did know she was good with small children, which would help her get adopted. I figured between her perfect size (28 pounds) and cute looks, she’d be a very quick adoption. I should have known better.

Koko’s name was changed to Scamp for a reason. When I first brought her home, everything went great. She was already house-trained and crate-trained. She loved all the other dogs. She did chase the cats, but at least she didn’t try to eat them. More than once I considered keeping her. But I knew that once she settled in, I would start to see more bad habits appear. And appear they did.

I’ve found that Scamp has a very serious behavior problem. It’s found in dogs of all breeds – especially puppies -- but the Terrier breeds in particular seem to have this problem. It’s known as enthusiasm. It can cause uncontrolled joy, and outbursts of energy resulting in running, jumping, or otherwise acting out. I fear it will take months to teach Scamp to stop jumping on me and every other person she meets.

As an experienced dog foster mom and an amateur trainer, I’ve worked with various behavior problems ranging from extremely shy dogs to resource guarders to separation anxiety issues. But no behavior problem is harder for me to work with than enthusiasm. I just can’t bring myself to be stern with dogs who are so darn happy! I know it’s for their own good – most people don’t like dogs who can’t control themselves – but when I see them running and jumping and enjoying life, I just melt. I try not to let them walk all over me (too much) but it’s a constant battle. I see Scamp and I just want to let her throw herself into my arms and lick my face! In fact I admit to teaching her to jump into my arms on cue (with the excuse that I can then teach her to ONLY do it on cue) even though the only reason I did it was because it’s so much fun to have her jump into my arms.
So Scamp may never be well-trained, at least while she’s with me, but I don’t mind. I love her enthusiasm. And when I found that she can jump my six-foot-privacy-fence, a small part of me was relieved that it would make her that much harder to adopt out. Most people don’t want very high energy dogs, and those who do, don’t want a high-energy dog that can escape pretty much any fence out there. So I’ll be taking Scamp to the adoption event this weekend, but if anyone inquires about her, I’m going to be sure to let them know about her fence jumping and other bad habits. Because the truth is, looking back at when I considered myself lucky for getting Koko, I realize now that I wasn’t just the lucky winner, I was the Luckiest Winner There Ever Was. She brightens my days, and although I still haven’t decided that I can keep her forever, I’m going to enjoy every second of fostering her while she is here.


Ashton Keenan said...

Everything happens for a reason... I think she came into your life to be YOUR dog. ;) Plus.. shes a jumper, which means.. since Ziggy can no longer do much Agility... Scamp can! Yippee, right? :)...... I'm not helping am I?

Pibble said...

Scamp is just adorable! Sort of the dog you'd expect to see in every role on TV. I think she might be a keeper...

Anonymous said...

I told a very nice, older lady who lives near me about Scamp. She had a high energy mix previously, who died around Christmas. Not sure she is up to Scamp, but she is used to dealing with a high energy dog! Very good owner, walks her dog a lot. Since she is older, she wanted a dog a little smaller - her previous dog was lab size. Linda

Corbin said...

Those are the best fosters, the ones who lighten your heart. Enjoy your time with Scamp!

Nadine, Chewy and Lilibell said...

I LOVE her!!! I don't blame you one bit for wanting to keep her, like who could really blame you with that absolutely adorable cute face of her's!

My Chewy gets those outbursts of energy where he'll go jumping from one couch to another and racing from the kitchen to the living room...his Dad always wants to make him stop (he's afraid Chewy will get hurt) whereas I, on the other hand, let him go and get a kick out of watching him fly around, because I know in his old age he won't be doing that anymore and I'll miss that. So what the heck, let him have his fun now!

Cupcake said...

OK, let's break this down. You bring Scamp to the Walt Disney World for dogs (your house). You show her lots of love. I know she is getting wonderful treats and couch time. Yes, this girl is beyond happy. Cheers to enthusiasm! I hope so much that you keep her. She is sunshine. We all need sunshine in our lives.