July 13th 2006 7:46 am
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I really didn't want another dog. My husband and I had acquired Kayla, a lovely Bavarian German Shepherd who had spent most of the first 11 years of her life as a working guard dog. The idea was that Kayla was to live out her retirement as our house dog, and it was a good idea. (Kayla, at age 15, is still with us!) Kayla is most obedient, and being a senior, very mellow and unassuming. Considering that we had pretty much been "cat people" (we also have four cats) we needed a dog who would get along with cats. Kayla pretty much ignores the cats.
But my husband, knowing that it is rare for German Shepherds to live much beyond 12 years or so, decided he wanted another German Shepherd, because he so enjoyed Kayla- and he wanted to get another dog while Kayla was still healthy and alert, so that the new dog would learn from her influence. My mind went back to a dog my parents had when we were kids- she was a nervous dog and not properly trained or socialized as a puppy. I didn't want to deal with a puppy and told him as much. I also was very leery of buying a German Shepherd because of the prevalence of hip dysplasia and other genetic diseases. So I suggested to him, why not cruise the shelters and adoption websites for an adult dog?
Partially because I was afraid he would go off half cocked and buy a puppy without doing any research, and partially because I wanted some input into what sort of dog ended up in our house, I went cruising on some local websites, looking for a German Shepherd or similar dog. It didn't take very long. I saw Clara's picture and simply had to ask about that beautiful dog. She was described as a two year old German Shepherd mix (though we discovered later she is likely a Belgian Malinois or Malinois/Shepherd mix) and there was something about her that touched my heart.
What I didn't know at first about Clara was that she was rescued from an extreme neglect situation. Today she is healthy (albeit a bit on the thin side still) at 65#. When she was rescued she only weighed 54#, was dehydrated, emaciated, suffering from coccidia (a bowel infection) and to top it all of, was in heat. She was afraid of everyone but terrified of men in particular. When we first met Clara she had been in foster care for several months- she had been spayed, had gained weight and was well on her way to health. She knew her name and basic obedience commands, but she was still afraid. When we came to meet her she tried to hide behind her foster Mom, or run back to her crate. I wondered if she would ever come to love or trust anyone other than Kayla who she immediately made friends with when we met her at her foster Mom's house.
Because Clara had special needs and had a rather dismal history, we had to pass a home study and screening. Clara needed to be in a home with at least one other dog- we knew that she and Kayla would get along which was good. Clara needed to be in a home where she would be exposed to plenty of new situations and learning experiences, to make up for all the things she had been deprived of when she was growing up. When we were told we were approved I drove to the Humane Society to pick her up- a 25 minute drive- and I wondered how she would react when I took her away from her foster Mom. I wondered if she would be OK. The car ride was encouraging- she loves the car, though for the entire ride she cuddled her woobie, one of the special toys that the friends of the Humane Society give to every cat or dog who arrives at the shelter. Each cat or dog gets a special toy that stays with them even as they go to their forever home.
The first thing Clara did when we came home was to try to find somewhere to hide. She was utterly terrified. Since she had been crate-trained I had already set up a crate and had left the door open for her. At almost every stimulus, every noise, Clara would run for the crate. Then her curiosity would get to her and she would venture out. At first she would only come to me, and she would follow Kayla outside, but ever so gradually she opened up. I discovered she lived for praise and hugs and play, even more so than food. Deep down Clara was not shy and scared after all- and she wanted to get out and enjoy life. All she needed was the opportunity and thankfully we have been able to give her many opportunities to meet other dogs, to meet people and to do fun things.
We have had Clara a year and a half and I still say no one could ask for, or get a better dog. She lives to be loved and to have fun. She loves other dogs, cats, people, and she has such a sunny disposition that is hard to believe anyone could have ever mistreated her. It is certainly my hope that we will have her around for many years to share the boundless love she has!
This is a special Tail of Devotion
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May 24th 2006 9:15 am
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I've got a new collar now. One that Mom is pretty sure Lilo can't take off. She's already checked to make sure I can't get it over my head. -sigh-
I guess I just have to face it. Collars and tags are not optional.
May 23rd 2006 9:25 am
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Lilo and I have a fun new game. When we are outside roughhousing (which we love to do) I discovered that it's possible to get Lilo's collar off. Our collars have those plastic expansion clips on them. No need for opposable thumbs to get these rude dudes off.
Mom isn't very happy with me because the last time I took Lilo's collar off I decided to chew on the plastic notch part that's supposed to expand and now she can't get Lilo's collar back on her. Lilo figured out how to get my collar off too (but she didn't chew the notch so my collar is back on again) so we can run around in blissful uncollaredness- but Mom says that's unsafe and that we have to have our collars on so our license and rabies tags are visible at all times. She says she's off to the PetSmart to get us heavy duty nylon collars with buckles- collars you can't remove unless you have opposable thumbs.
We will have to figure out something else fun to do when we are outside.
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