What was that?!
Something just ran by me as I left my friend’s house next door.
A dog? A dog!! Black. No collar. Quiet. Not Shy, yet somewhat aloof, although not scared or shaking.
Pretty dog. Nice coat. Year to year and a half old. Obviously well cared for… except she’s here, and not home. Lost, but not like she couldn’t find her way home, but like she had none.
A neighbors’ niece found her first, then Dale (another neighbor) came out. I was 3rd on the scene. We all marveled at the dog, discussing her possible origins. Friendly but not playful, showing no signs of aggression at all, but certainly not timid. How odd.
Dale finds a tennis ball and playtime now begins and the 3 of us, like the little kids we all are, spent the next 2 hours playing with and marveling at our new friend.
Now the moment of truth is at hand. I’m ready to go home, and so is Dale and Sally… but what about the dog? Sally can’t take her because she has 3 cats. Dale points out that he works odd hours and suggests I take her. How can I take her? I start to walk upstairs and Dale puts her on the landing behind me. Well, let’s see what happens… I get up to my door and she’s right behind me. I open my door and ask if she wants to come inside, and she proceeds to check out every inch of my place. After a few minutes I guess it passed the test, and she let me know it was OK.
Now I had the problem. 9:30 at night and I’ve got a dog for the first time in my life. I’ve got plenty of odds-n-ends stashed away… but I sure don’t have a dog leash and collar! Not too far away a Pet Supermarket provided me with all the essentials – dog dish, dog food, collar, leash, and of course, treats.
After getting home and taking care of everything we settle down for the evening, her content in her new home, and me, wondering if this dog is going to suddenly get angry and attack!
Bedtime rolls around and as we head into the bedroom, she stops just outside the doorway. “Let’s go”, I say. “It’s bedtime.” She puts her head down. As I start to ask her what’s wrong I realize what’s going on. I was telling her to break the rules, as she was obviously taught that the bedroom is off limits. I explained to her that it was OK. That here some of the rules would be different, and she was allowed wherever I was allowed. After a bit more coaxing, she suddenly became quite happy being allowed in the bedroom.
As I began a dialog with her, I was surprised at how much she really seemed to understand. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. Understand that the level of communication we share now didn’t happen immediately, but she always seemed to pick up on both my words and my mannerisms. She took immediately to hand signals I would give her. I pretty much talk to her like she’s a 2 year old. Simple straight forward commands, consistent usage, and positive reinforcement via praise. I don’t believe in using treats as a reward. Don’t worry! She gets plenty of treats daily, as well as belly rubs – she lives for those!
As the days rolled past, usually during evening walks around the block, I would hear that call from down the street… “Excuse me.. Excuse me… Did you just find that dog recently?!” Oh Shit!! It’s the dogs’ owner wanting her back!!! – would flash though my mind as I would offer a reluctant “Yes”. Like I need this kind of stress in my life!! “Oh, Good.. I’m glad someone took her in!”
Three Times! Three times I went through that hell!! After that I was going to make up a brochure about how I found her! All 3 were dog owners in the neighborhood that had fed her for a day or two, but didn’t want another dog. Shisha was wandering around the neighborhood for about 2 weeks before I took her in.