Friday, November 7, 2008

Lost Little Dog (Who's Going to be OK)

(Picture left -- Jay, when a "stray" at the shelter. Note, the green remnants of former collar and former life).

You know things are really bad when you advertise for foster or adoption, a small breed shelter dog and wind up having to bring the dog home yourself.

That's exactly what happened when, two nights ago, I picked up Jay, the Pomeranian mix from the Animal Control shelter here in Manhattan.

I was sure I would have foster placement after promoting Jay on Petfinders and other sites, as well as directly asking several people to foster him.

But, nothing came through.

I of course, already have two dogs and a number of cats.

It is to really "push my luck" in bringing a third dog home -- even on a temporary basis.

I live in a city apartment.

Since bringing Jay home, I have more or less been "hiding" him.

I only walk him very late at night when the differences between him and my other Pomeranian, Chance are not so obvious.

What are the differences?

Although the same breed, size and color, Chance (my dog) is much cleaner, rounder and "fluffier" than Jay, as well as much more confident, prouder and cheerier in demeanor. I suspect Chance originally came from a breeder and Jay a puppy mill. I am not in fact sure that Jay is a purebred Pomeranian. He carries his tail low, like a fox and even has the same quick, darting movements of a fox. If one didn't know better, one might actually believe Jay is more fox than dog!

Although very nervous, skittish and shy when first rescued, Jay is now starting to settle in. He follows me around and seems to enjoy some soft petting.

I was able to bush out and clip some of the mats behind Jay's ears, but Jay became snappy yesterday when I attempted to cut a large mat on his tail.

Oh well, I knew I was probably "pushing too much too soon" when I tried that. One has to be careful about overwhelming newly rescued dogs too soon. This is advice I give to new fosters and adopters all the time.

After all, I didn't even attempt to bathe and clip Chance until something like 4 days after bringing him home.

The three dogs are getting along well, although Tina and Chance have a very established "pack order" and both dogs have let Jay know that.

Chance particularly resents the new dog coming on to his "space."

Chance and Tina are usually by me wherever I am.

Jay has been forced to "keep his distance" and stay further away.

All in all, however, things have been quite peaceful.

I am lucky that Jay is a reasonably quiet dog who doesn't seem to have much trouble being either alone or the low dog on the totem pole.

Last night, I showed Jay to a potential foster person.

"Vi" is a well intentioned young woman who called yesterday seeking a Shih-Tzu or Lhasa type dog to adopt.

But, her former experience with dogs is a bit sketchy.

Vi had a Lhasa Apso for two years, but when moving to the city from upstate NY, the dog (according to Vi) had a hard time adjusting to the noise, stress and crowds of Manhattan. The dog is now with her Aunt and Uncle in Long Island.

I asked Vi a bunch of questions pertaining to this situation and decision to give up her former dog.

Did she consult a trainer when encountering this problem? Was her dog neutered? How long did she attempt to keep her dog in the city? How is he doing now?

In the end, it was a hard judgment call.

The woman doesn't strike me as an irresponsible flake who easily gives up on situations when the going gets tough.

She tells me that her Aunt and Uncle had been seeking a smaller dog to adopt anyway and love her dog. She sees her dog regularly and occasionally brings him back to the city. According to her, the dog is much happier in a suburban environment.

I do know from past experiences, that some dogs who have grown up in the country and are used to that sort of environment have a very tough time adjusting to Manhattan apartments and the seeming chaos of the city.

I can see from just fostering Jay that the crowds and noise of the city are very tough and scary for him. He is a dog most likely used to living primarily in a Bronx house and yard.

In the end, I suggested fostering a dog to Vi. -- Something I usually do with people who I deem trustworthy, but lacking deep experience or knowledge of dogs.

Fostering is, in many ways, a "trial adoption."

It enables one to keep better tabs on an animal caregiver without giving up ownership of the dog.

If the foster goes well and the people love the dog and feel up to a permanent commitment, we move forward with the adoption.

I think Jay would probably do well with Vi. Her vibe (or energy) seems to be calm and pragmatic. When meeting Jay, she did not immediately try to pet and overwhelm him. We walked with Jay for a while outside before Vi gently knelt down and petted him. He was accepting of her overtures, but was still a bit wary and distracted by the noises of the street.

Vi still has to consult with her husband (who, according to her also wants a dog and grew up with a Pomeranian). I told her, that if going through with the foster, I would bring Jay to the home, which ironically is only a few blocks from me.

We'll see what happens.

In the meantime, Jay continues to settle in.

He is a sad and seemingly "lost" little dog in some ways. It's so obvious, that although quite neglected in his former home, Jay nevertheless loved and misses his former owner(s).

Still, I am starting to see that Pomeranian smile come across Jay's face more and more now.

He is going to be OK. -- PCA


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