Dec 4, 2008

Mia's New Friend (sort of)

This week I took Mia and my other two dogs to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to have animal expert Sherry Woodard evaluate Boss, a little dog I rescued the day before Thanksgiving. He's a tiny, sweet dog but he's been mistreated and shows defensive behavior toward people and large dogs. I didn't plan on taking in another foster dog right now, especially at the holidays. But how could I say no? The plea came in from Oli Lewis with Sin City St. Bernard Rescue. She doesn't take in small dogs and knew that Boss's days were numbered. So she called me. One of the positive things is that Boss hasn't bitten since I met him (and I was the one bitten, on the leg, but not seriously). When I went to meet him with the possibility I would foster him, he was being held by his 85-year-old person. Boss lunged, barked and showed his teeth. The woman who had him suddenly dropped him, and Boss fell to the floor, hitting his chin on the tile. Then she raised her hand like she was going to hit him. I asked her, "Please, don't do that. He's just scared." I knew then that he'd be going home with me. The assisted living facility he was in was calling animal control the next day to have him taken to the pound -- a sure death sentence for a fear biter. This behavior escalated over a two-month period living at the facility. He barked, growled and carried on with residents at the facility. The woman told me Boss was afraid of wheelchairs and walkers. Each time he growled and barked, he'd turn and look at the woman for a reaction. He did the same thing with Sherry and me. He didn't get a reaction from us, other than positive. Sherry said he clearly was confused and trying to cope in the environment he lived in. While at the facility, before taking him home with me, I asked the woman to pick him up again, so I could see how he was with her. Despite her harsh discipline of him, he turned into this sweet little guy who looked up at her adoringly and kissed her face. Boss barked at photographer Gary Kalpakoff as he started to take photos of Boss. Gary was wearing a baseball cap, so maybe that was part of it. Boss didn't try to bite him -- just barked and didn't growl, so that was a positive change. After spending time with Sherry, she had great news: The sweet side of Boss is who he really is. The other side comes out of fear. What he needs is to get his confidence back and know that no one is ever going to hurt him again. Mia, my little Chihuahua, has bonded with Boss. He liked her from the start, but Mia wasn't so sure; she was growly with him. Now, they sleep next to each other. She just takes a little time to get used to a new dog. My other two -- Woody and Rosy -- are giving him his space, because he's wary of bigger dogs. Boss has finally stopped barking at Woody (which Woody greatly appreciates). Today, the badness in Boss's life is behind him. With time, we'll find him a great home in a quiet atmosphere with someone who understands he may display defensive behavior in the future. In the meantime, I'm giving Boss reassurance, holding and hugging him up a storm and basically just letting him be a dog. He's a sweet little guy with a funny disposition. He loves to be outside and run. I don't think he's ever been able to do that before. As for Mia, she's accepting him as he is too. Photos by Gary Kalpakoff

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