Monday, August 19, 2013


According to Wikipedia, the phrase "to open Pandora's box" means to perform an action that may seem small or innocuous, but that turns out to have severe and far-reaching consequences.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by someone about a deaf Boxer named Luna who needed rescue. I already had several deaf foster dogs and a few more waiting to come in, so my first inclination was to say that I was unable to help. However the dog was a three-year-old purebred Boxer who sounded perfect. We have several people in our rescue group who love Boxers, and she sounded like a very easy dog to place into a home (already being perfect) so I decided I would go ahead and take her and then maybe find another foster home for her with one of the foster parents who love Boxers, or just keep her until she was adopted. She was said to already be spayed so she wouldn’t have to wait several weeks until our vet could spay her, and she was supposed to be dog, cat and kid friendly. She was also supposed to be well-socialized meaning she should adjust to a new situation easily because she’d been exposed to lots of new situations as a puppy. So I made arrangements with the person to have her brought to an adoption event where I would be that Saturday.

Two days later, I received an e-mail from a rescue friend asking me to help with a four-year-old female Boxer who needed a new home. I often receive requests for help with deaf dogs, but the requests are usually spaced weeks or months apart. I’ve also only received one request for a purebred Boxer ever – most requests are for mixed breeds or pit bull breeds -- so it seemed like a very strange coincidence to get two requests within the same week for a female purebred Boxer. The deaf Boxer named Luna who I had already agreed to take had also been posted all over Facebook asking for someone to rescue or adopt her, so it seemed likely it was the same dog. However I explained to my rescue friend that I had already committed to another deaf Boxer and explained the situation. I said I couldn’t take her if it was a different Boxer but if it was the same Boxer and there were just multiple people trying to help this dog then I could take her. She confirmed with the person she’d been talking to that it was the same dog, named Luna, and I made arrangements to pick her up on Sunday. When no one showed up at the adoption event on Saturday with a Boxer, I figured it was definitely the same dog and the plans to get her to me had just changed based on the rescuers involved.

The plan was for the owners to turn in Luna to their vet on Saturday, and then I’d drive out to the vet’s house and pick her up on Sunday. The veterinarian and her husband also did animal rescue, so I was a bit surprised to receive a call from them on Saturday asking what time I could get there on Sunday. I spoke with the vet’s husband and he sounded a bit anxious to get her out of the house and said he wasn’t used to deaf dogs and couldn’t communicate with her well. I thought that was a bit odd, because deaf dogs are really no different than hearing dogs and shouldn’t be any harder to communicate with, but I thought perhaps he just wasn’t used to big dogs. So I drove to his house with a friend to get Luna and was surprised to hear the report from the vet and his wife. They said that the dog was a bit cage aggressive and a bit out of control. That didn’t sound like the dog that I was expecting. Then they said the dog was named Valentine, not Luna. And that she wasn’t spayed. That also surprised me. But there are always mix-ups when communicating through three or four different people so I didn’t worry too much. I figured the dog was deaf and doesn’t care whether I call her Luna or Valentine. Then we began the long drive home.

Luna/Valentine started out just fine in the car. She was very sweet. She let me put a seat-belt harness on her. She sat quietly. Then I started the car. And suddenly Luna was in the front seat sitting on my friend’s lap and the seatbelt harness was still in the back seat. After trying to tighten it and keep it on her several times we gave up on that. She was quiet and happy to sit on my friend’s lap until we hit the main road where we encountered other vehicles on the road. Then she jumped in the back seat and began barking. And if you’ve never heard a deaf dog bark, be happy. Because they usually have a high-pitched and extremely loud bark, and Luna/Valentine was no exception. She barked at every car that came up behind us on the road. So I tried to drive faster. Then she barked at every car we passed. It was a busy highway and it was not a fun trip. We had to make a stop at a dog training facility and she continued her excited barking and lunging and aggressive behavior on leash with every dog and person that she met there.

By the time we got home, we were all exhausted. I gave her some time to calm down and after a nap she seemed to be feeling better. I took her outside and since I remembered how the vet said she had jumped their four-foot fence, I put her in the side yard where I could stay close and watch her to make sure she didn’t try to jump the wire fence. She did okay for a few minutes, then walked over to the side of the house where the fence meets a five-foot concrete wall. And from a standing position (no running start) she jumped directly up in the air and over the concrete wall. She seemed very happy then, running all over exploring and inviting me to chase her. And since chasing a dog who loves to be chased is not the fastest or easiest way to catch them, I went into the house and left the door open. She then did some more exploring. I then went back out and hid from her. I waited until she noticed me hiding and then I turned around and ran away, acting like I was trying to keep her from noticing me. Her curiosity got the better of her and she chased me right into the house and I quickly slammed the door. Whew. Next step – contact those other Boxer-loving foster homes at once!

Over the next few days I learned a few things about Pandora. Because by this time neither Luna or Valentine seemed appropriate, but Pandora seemed quite fitting as a name. She got very anxious when in a crate. She marked in the house several times. During brief introductions with several other friendly dogs, she jumped on most of them and held them down to show them that she was boss. She chased the cat. She jumped over the six-foot wooden privacy fence (this time I had to lure her into the car with the offer of a car ride to catch her). She believed she was Queen of the Universe and couldn’t understand why no one treated her that way. I finally contacted the first rescuer I had talked to – the one who was friends of the family who turned her in – and asked if this was really the same dog she’d claimed to know was such a perfect dog. That’s when she told me that the dog I had wasn’t Luna, and Luna had been re-homed directly to an adopter so didn’t need rescue. And suddenly it all made sense. There were two deaf Boxers and nothing I had been told matched up because I had been expecting Luna not Pandora.

Pandora has come a long way in the past week. She now is feeling so comfortable that although another foster home offered to take her, I decided not to move her because she is doing so well. She’s getting along with all the other dogs now and even is doing okay with the cat. She has not had any more accidents or tried to mark in the house, and I’ve been leaving her loose in the house when I’m at work and overnight with no problems. Well she did eat my windowsill and doorframe when I tried to put her in a room by herself, but as long as the Queen of the Universe is allowed to roam the house at will she has not destroyed anything else. And she’s even stopped jumping the fence! So while she may not be the easy adoption that I had hoped for, I do think she’ll be easy enough to foster until she does find the right home. And in the meantime, she’s made herself quite comfortable:


Frankie Furter and Ernie said...

WOW that is a very interesting story.

Anonymous said...

That is a wild story. Glad Pandora is doing better. Linda

Blueberry's human said...

Holy cow! Do you feel like your time with Ziggy has prepared you for "surprises" like Pandora?

I'm glad to hear she is settling in - but wow - she sounds like a hand full!

Dog Foster Mom said...

Yes Ziggy has absolutely prepared me for a lot! I've learned so much from him, and somehow dealing with dogs like Pandora seem easy after dealing with Ziggy. :-) She's actually turned into a really good dog - she was just very stressed out at first. I'm becoming very attached to her!

LP said...

You made me laugh with your description of your "Pandora Box"! You are a saint... truly, for everything you do for these dogs and for all you encounter along the way. Thank Dog for your sense of seems to save you every time :)

Sophie and the criters in the cottage xo

Kymberli Higgins said...

Awww maybe like with other dogs she will like Brody :) Romek doesn't seem to notice that Brody is a boy and taller than him. Lol maybe her and Brody will be best buds for the weekend.

Jusani Culture said...

The work you are doing is beautiful! It takes a very special kind of person to take in a special needs dog. My company actually recently did a fundraiser for a shelter that specializes in caring for and placing special needs pets. Let me know if you would ever be willing to feature us on one of your upcoming blog posts. Keep up the great work!

-Courtney, PR Rep Intern
Jusani Culture, LLC