Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dogs vs Men

This is a video from Pawsitively Texas, a local web hub serving the Houston Metro area. It's short and cute. Watch it!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bow Wow Bash & The Pet Psychic

First, the caveat:  I am not a true believer in pet psychics, but there is that "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!" part of me that absolutely wishes, really, really that it could be true.  If someone asked me to clap my hands so a dog could talk to a pet psychic, I'd do it.

Thus said, this afternoon, I had the honor of meeting Sonya Fitzgerald, the famous animal communicator who dominated the cable station "Animal Planet" a few years back.

Ms. Sonya was the guest at our shelter's super sponsors, the awesome Barker Street Bakery in The Woodlands, TX.  The good folks at Barker hosted the "Bow Wow Bash," complete with a dog-themed jump house for the kids, a pet-food donation drive, and a raffle that included goodies such as a flat-screen TV and a big leopard-print dog bed filled with treats and toys.  More than $2,600 was raised for the Friends of the Montgomery Animal Shelter, one of the non-profits who help our Shelter dogs by providing funds for Veterinary care and other needs. What a phenomenal fundraiser!

I took my bouncy little foster Chihuahua, Pepper, to the event, hoping to find him a home.  Ms. Sonya was inside the store, talking to folks and their pets.  I joined the line of devoted pet owners and their well-loved dogs, including a Catahoula mix wearing a devil costume, extra-fluffy Pomeranians, and Shelter rescues that included a distemper-survivor Spaniel mix who had severe tremors in her back legs.

Doggy cookies spell out the event name.

Ms. Sonya Fitzpatrick was a huge hit with all the dogs and their people, graciously greeting more than two dozen pets and their owners.  Ms. Sonya wasn’t doing full readings, but she did convey things that were on the various dogs’ minds.
 We meet Sonya Fitzgerald.
 Pepper was a very good boy, considering the crowded store, antsy dogs and delicious treats and toys on display.  When our turn came, I put him on the table.  I had on my MCAS apron and I told Ms. Sonya he was my foster Shelter dog. I had written “ADOPT ME” on a shipping tag and attached it, a lá Alice in Wonderland’s famous “DRINK ME” order, and he’d already gotten many compliments and had his photo taken.
Ms Sonya said Pepper wanted me to know these things:  “He wants to stay at your house.  He loves it there.  He likes everybody and he feels so loved.  He doesn’t want to go with anyone else because he loves you best and most and you will cry if someone else takes him.” (Pepper is right, of course, but anyone could have told me that!)
Ms. Sonya promised to “tell” him that I will find him the best home for him and that I’ll always love him.
Pepper asked what happened to the other dog who was visiting.
That had to be Tucker, I said, completely, totally captivated, in spite of myself.  I asked Ms. Sonya to tell Pepper that Tucker was now home with his Mommy and that we were only babysitting.  Then I asked if Pepper had anything to say about an older female dog.
“He says she’s rude,” Ms. Sonya said before I even finished.  “Rude, rude, rude.  Quite the rudest dog he’s ever met and he doesn’t like her, not at all.”  I’m not sure if Pepper meant Mrs. Puff my senior Chi or Cross my little Rat Terrier mix, who had been very bossy toward him at first, but now is willing to wrestle.
Then I asked if Pepper liked the name we had given him.  Ms. Sonya said that he likes all the names I call him. (I pick out a name, but call most of my fosters by sweetie-names like "Snickers", "Pup-Pup" and "Little Dude" or the like.  Pepper told Ms. Sonya that likes it that I talk to him and the other dogs all the time. (I do).  But most of all he liked it when he got to sleep with me (I let him snuggle with me on the couch and once in bed).  That was the best thing.
Pepper also told her that he is a good barker, a very good barker.  (I have to agree with that).  Pepper also said he is a very good guard dog and that I need him to do that job for me.  He didn’t want to go home with anyone else today. 
There were many personalities at the Bash, including this Rottie Mix named "Hooker." I have never seen a dog willingly wear real shoes.  She could walk with them on, too.  Compared to this sweet girl, my own dogs lead very dull lives!
I know it’s silly, but I just got emotional about the whole thing.  Ms. Sony thanked me for the work I do for these dogs and we made our exit.  It's no matter whether her talent is real or not.  The hard-working volunteers and generous donors pulled off a great event--Pepper got his photo taken for the newspaper, which may help him find the home he deserves, and I got to meet a celebrity who made me feel just a bit special. What's not to like?
"Sign" photo courtesy of TVindy.  Photo of Pepper with Ms. Sonya and me--taken on my camera by a girlfriend.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Interesting Changes in the Breed

I bookmarked this video some time ago, but it's well-worth watching, even though the video quality is not the best.  What you will see is the transformation of a sturdy, big-headed, straight-backed working dog into a sloped or roached-back dog with a much light structure and a much weaker hindquarters.

Put together by a breeder of German Shepherds, this video compares photos of champions over time--from the 1940s to the early 2000s.  It's mind-boggling to see how drastically the breed has changed in both the "American" and "German" lines.  No wonder modern show-quality GSDs wobble so much as they walk.

Friday, August 20, 2010

This is a Bait Dog

While there is no blood or raw flesh, these photos may be upsetting for some people.

The only natural white fur on this dog is the white on his throat.

Meet "Scrappy" (not his 'real' name, as his foster plans to find a better one).  He is a silver-blue, full blood American Pit  Bull Terrier.  He is young, crate-trained, eager-to-please, good with cats, house-trained and just a tad protective of his people.  Oh, and he doesn't fight.

That is, he doesn't fight or assert himself with other dogs.  Hence, his scars. Scrappy is a "bait dog"--he was used to give fighting Pit Bulls more confidence.  Turned in as a stray (what did you expect?) Scrappy arrived with raw wounds, badly infected cropped ears and a swollen leg due to a severe wound.
The worst scars are on his neck and hindquarters.

At first it was assumed  Scrappy would  be euthanized, but somehow he made it to a foster home.  His wounds are healing, although many of the scars will never regain hair, and others are coming in with white fur instead of silver.  He is gaining weight and will soon be neutered.

Scrappy is living, breathing testimony to the horrors of dog-fighting.  To know that this big, sweet, lug of a dog had no other purpose than to serve as a target for training other dogs is to see the proof in how a superbly people-oriented, eager-to-please breed can be manipulated into performing as a fighting machine.  Scrappy wasn't "game" but dogs like him suffer just as much as the game "champions" in the ring.  The scars are testimony to the courage of Pit Bulls, but it is the breed's courage that has been a burden.  It's a shameful thing that a dog like Scrappy has had to endure so much.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Chihuahua Whisperer

She's short, pudgy and middle-aged.  Tiny dogs adore her.  Their teeth and barking are only temporary obstacles.  She takes these little critters with huge Napoleon complexes and teaches them how to be loving lap dogs.  She is...The Chihuahua Whisperer.

BTW, these are the Chi's I've fostered since I started working with The Montgomery County, Texas, Animal Shelter (MCTAS).  I've also adopted out other Chihuahuas and Chi-mixes at Off-Site events.  I admit it:  I am addicted to tiny dogs. :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Don't Pity the Shelter Dog

Okay, it's an advertising line for Pedigree Dog Food, but it's true--don't pity the Shelter dog.
Pity never helped anyone, dog or person.  Pity is easy, cheap and pointless.  The key is to do something.  I always have to tamp down the inclination to get hacked off when people come up to our Off-Site animals and say, "Oh, I could never do you what you are doing."

It's not rocket science, folks.  It's not a 26-mile foot race.  It's not a solo piano concert at Carnegie hall.  It's just taking some sort of action.  I know there are many reasons why some animal lovers can't do some aspects of the sort of volunteer work I do--allergies, parental responsibilities, incompatible work schedules, a reluctant spouse.  You know, life stuff.

But don't give me lame excuses and expect me to absolve you of your pity.  I don't have the time.  It's hot out right now.  The dogs are arriving in greater numbers at the Shelter.  Those in charge of the County coffers are having second thoughts about taking the Shelter to a No-Kill position.  Fosters are in short supply.  Things are tough all over, and pity doesn't help.

So, here's what you can do next time you see me at an Off-Site event:  Put some money in the damn donation jar.  Or offer to walk a dog.  Buy a box of dog biscuits or a leash or a collar, and donate them to the cause so I don't have to buy these things each week.  If I'm by myself at the Off-site,  offer to sit and just watch the animals so I can go take a bathroom break.  These are the easy things, things you can do anytime you see animal rescue volunteers with adoptable dogs and cats at PetsMart, Petco, or other public places.  These things are helpful.

Of course, you could volunteer your time to foster an animal.  "Oh, I'd never be able to give them up if I fostered one," I hear people say.  Nonsense.  You're not taking the animal to keep.  You are providing a crate, a bed, good food, a bath, a routine, some basic training, and some love.  It's not that complicated. Okay, it's a lot more complicated if you take a sick, injured animal, or a litter of puppies, or a clutch of tiny kittens that need to be bottle-fed, but we have so many animals in need that you have your pick.  You don't have to take on the worst case right out the chutes.

Foster homes improve a dog's chances of being adopted.  A clean, exercised, well-fed dog is much more likely to find a home.  A dog with any kind of a "history"--information a foster learns about the dog's temperament and needs--is much more adoptable.  Sure, you take the risk of having a "foster fail" (when you end up keeping the foster animal), but there are folks who can help you avoid that if you feel so tempted.  Besides, we all have foster fails.

If you can't do any the things I've suggested, at least do these things:

1.)  Spay or neuter all your pets.  The world does not need another litter of puppies or kittens.
2.)  Don't buy from roadside breeders or "puppy stores."
3.)  Make sure your dog is taking monthly heartworm prevention.
4.)  Microchip your pet and register the number.
5.)  Don't let your dog run loose.  Don't keep your dog all day long in a backyard unless you have a properly constructed kennel with shade, shelter and fresh water and food.
6.)  Don't chain your dog.
7.)  Train your dog so he or she can be a good member of your family.

Above all, don't ever pity the Shelter dog.  Adopt one.  Foster one.  Or donate your time and money.  It's not hard to help.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Doing it for the Dogs, Not for the Rush

Today’s post on Dogs Deserve Freedom made me want to commit to print a theory I’ve long held about the nature of animal-rescue volunteers.  People who are attracted to animal rescue are passionate, committed, prone to seeking justice and, above all, they are addicted to the rush.  Yes, the rush.  The high.   We’re in for the dogs, but the rush is exhilarating.  It’s really what drives us.

Animal rescue is as exciting and unpredictable as car racing (Yes, I’m reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”). When I get a dog out of the kill room, or pull a sick animal through a deadly illness, or place a dog with a good family, I feel the rush.  The adrenaline kicks in when we walk into the Shelter, and it ratchets upward when we are confronted with the evidence of a throw-away society.  I feel like a superhero—although it pains me to admit it—when I pull a dog from a kennel.  And the dogs worship me.  I bask in their neediness.  In some ways, I can’t help it—I’m a long-time volunteer, a parent and a recovering co-dependent.

Working a good 12-step program and maturity have helped me to identify my danger zones—the times when I’m too close, too enmeshed, and too focused.  That’s when I have learned to draw back and take deep breath and remember why I am doing animal rescue:  I’m doing it for the dog.  One dog at a time.  Okay, maybe two or three at a time.  I have done it for Queenie, JoJo, Aribella (those are the ones who died).  I have done it for Dancer, Snowy, Rusty, Riley, Chloe, and countless others.  But if I’m honest, it always comes back to the rush.  That rush just feels so good.  It makes me feel so alive.

The urge to seek the rush is why I think that animal rescue groups have such difficulty working together.  Each person firmly, passionately believes that his or her way of doing animal rescue is the best way to “save” dogs.  I call it the “Most-est Right-est” Syndrome.  In short, MY way is the RIGHT way to save the animal.  The rush is calling us.

Because it is so difficult for the animal rescue volunteer to compromise, or even to entertain the idea that there may be more than one “right” way to do things, groups view each other as the “enemy.”  Shelter staff people are “evil”—callous, uncaring, curt and harsh.  Breed Rescue groups are “greedy”, cherry-picking the “best” dogs and leaving the train wrecks in the Shelter.  Shelter volunteers are “lone wolf” types, preferring to run their own Off-Sites their own ways.  The fund-raising group feels that the Off-site volunteers are “cheating” them of donations.  The person who is “Most-est Right-est” generally sets the agenda, and sometimes that agenda isn’t all that good for the animals.  However, the moment an agenda is set, the in-fighting begins again.  It’s all about the rush.

People bristle if any sort of structure or cooperation is suggested.  I have watched volunteers accuse other volunteers of “animal cruelty”.  In the Shelter or at an Off-site, you can come home feeling like you’ve run a marathon.  You feel vindicated, victorious.  The rush is so addictive.

I watch as our groups, splinter and re-splinter, fracturing like cracks in ice floes, cleaving off and creating new groups that will crack, fracture and cleave yet again.  What is my defense?  Well, I try to keep to the focus on the animal, the individual dog.  I remind myself by keeping a collar filled with tags and bells from animals I’ve helped.  I take photos, most of which are never posted on-line, to help me remember the dogs.

My goal is to keep my focus where it should be, which is on what's best for each dog.  By doing animal rescue volunteer work, I can make  life better, even if just for a brief moment, for one dog.

I wish our groups could cooperate more.  I try to keep an open mind.  I try to work for the greater good, even when inside, I feel my own way is “Most-est Right-est.”  I try to remember that isn’t about me.  It isn’t about the rush, it’s about the dogs.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Old Dogs

I feel the worst for the old dogs who come into the Shelter. The ones like Mrs. Puff, the old Chihuahua surrendered two weeks ago.

No one noted any remarks beyond "owner surrender" on her intake paperwork. She is heartworm negative, so someone was caring for her, at least that much. But not enough to keep her to the end of her days.

She is so self-contained, so fully aware--she watches me and I can hear her thoughts:

You are nice, but...
The couch is comfy, but...
I like your grass, but...
The food is good, but...

Sometimes it is difficult to meet her gaze, which is intensely direct and unflinching. Her ears stand up like bat wings, and she follows my movements with her gaze, clouded though it is due to beginnings of cataracts.

I wonder if her owner thinks about her. I know Mrs. Puff has thought hard about her person. I know the first day I met Mrs. Puff, she was looking for her person. We were at an Off-Site at the local cinema-complex, a place I'm sure Mrs. Puff had never been. But she had a purpose--she was, like the Blues Brothers, on a mission from God.

All day, in spite of the heat, she padded forward, first one direction, then the next, walking as far as the leash would permit, her gaze direct and unflinching, her bat-wing ears perked forward, listening. Her confidence was palpable. Her person would come.

I took her home. I've fed her, gotten her on a potty schedule, fixed a bed by the dresser in my bedroom since she complains if she's crated. I've given her meds for kennel cough, cleaned out her ears, and dosed her with benadryl when her itchies become too bothersome. I've placed an ad extolling her virtues, but no one has responded. I am not her person. I am her foster.

Two days ago, I sensed a shift in Mrs. Puff. A flicker of depression. An awareness that her person is not coming. Now she is focused fully on me, on my daughter, and my son. She wants her bed in a certain spot. She wants help onto the couch. She wants her food. She has surrendered her heart to me. And it makes my heart ache to know this.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More Chihuahua Mayhem

This elegant old lady Chi is one of my foster dogs--and I've named her "Mrs. Puff". 

I don't know why we've had so many Chihuahuas and Chi-mixes come through the Shelter as of late--but these tiny dogs seem to be everywhere.  Mrs. Puff is the most even-tempered Chi I've ever seen--she doesn't quake, shake, nip, snarl, cringe or growl.  Instead, she sits as serene as a queen, and steps right up to be petted by men, women and courteous children.  An owner surrender, Mrs. Puff was one of our "Red Carpet" dogs who attended a publicity event held at our local cineplex to coincide with the opening of the movie "Cats and Dogs 2:  The Revenge of Kitty Galore."  Mrs. Puff strolled down the carpet with the grace of a true diva.

Mrs. Puff was dignified and calm during our "Red Carpet" Event.
So what if her teeth are not so great, and she's got the beginnings of cataracts, and she's got the luxating patella thing so common with small dogs. Mrs. Puff is but is chipper and alert.  Her hearing is excellent and what she likes best is to sit under the computer desk in a cozy bed (she's there right now) or camp out on the couch.  She's not the prettiest or smallest Chihuahua, but she's got some good years left.  As one of the Shelter workers quipped, "She could spend the next five years walking toward the white light."  I thought I'd found a family for her, but they decided she was too old.  She's probably about 10.  Mrs. Puff would make a great couch companion for a retired person or couple and she'd be happy to let the grandkids (under direction) love on her.
This cute little "Chuggle" got adopted during our "Red Carpet" Event.

We're seeing a lot of Chi-mixes--the craze for "designer dogs" seems to have no end.  We've had Chuggles (Chihuahua-Pug) and "Chi-weenies" (Chihuahua-Dachshund) and plenty of BYB stock.
A typical "oversize" Chihuahua at our Fourth of July event.  This guy has a new home.

A cute little Chi-Weenie struts her Red Carpet style.

Little Teencie, now "Bella" (which happens to be the most popular dog name EVER, thanks, no doubt, to the Twilight enterprise!) has found her home, and according to reports, she had to be "disciplined" (i.e., removed from her new owner's lap and put on the floor for a stern scolding) when she started getting too bossy.

 "Teencie" with her new owner at the FM 1488, PetsMart, Magnolia, TX.

And she's only four pounds of Chihuahua fierceness.  Teencie was the one the Shelter staff nick-named "Piranha" for her nippy ways.
And we get the sad cases like this poor, toothless old Chihuahua, photographed by a Shelter worker.

 This kind of surrender is the sort that infuriates the Shelter staff and volunteers--tossing away a dog at the end of its days. I believe this dog went to rescue.

As for the rumor that all we have at our Shelter are big Lab-mixes and Pit Bulls, I'm here to say, if you want a small dog--including Rat Terriers, Dachshunds, small terriers or other "toy" breeds, you can find them at the Montgomery County Texas Animal Shelter.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Meet Our New Dog

 Tony Tony Chopper
I finalized the adoption today of a stag red Miniature Pinscher from the Montgomery County Texas Animal Shelter.  Meet our newest dog, "Tony Tony Chopper".  I didn't name him, my 16-year-old daughter did, after a character in the Japanese pirate-themed anime "One Piece."  If you aren't familiar with the show, don't feel bad!
 At the Red, Hot and Blue Parade. Chopper has slimmed down since this photo.

I first saw Chopper in late June, and I thought at first he was "Rusty," a stag red MinPin I fostered last summer (detailed in an earlier post).  I took Chopper with me for the July 3rd Parade (also in an earlier post), where my husband decided to walk him. He liked the dog, and so I took Chopper home, gave him a bath, wormed him and put flea meds on him. My little rat terrier mix "Cross" seemed to like Chopper, too.  My son was away at college when Taco died, so he had been pestering me (even though he's almost 21) to get a MinPin puppy.  I don't do puppies.  Never have, never will.

I didn't want to force a decision about Chopper right away--we had a trip to New York City and Washington, D.C. planned for a week in early July--so I arranged for Chopper to go to another volunteer's house for four days, until my son could come get him (my son went with us to New York but came home because of his job).  By the time we got back home, Chopper was a part of the family.

My husband was calling him "Brown Dog" and we were waffling between "Sam" (no one liked it except for my husband), "Rusty" and even "Tucker" (the name of our other foster).  While we were in Washington, D.C., my daughter decided there would be no more discussion.  His name was "Tony Tony Chopper."  And that was that.
We love his velvety ears and big brown eyes.

I put off finishing the adoption on Chopper because I had to decide if we were ready to take him on--he's probably about four, and he's heartworm positive.  He's going to our Vet tomorrow (I've decided to stick with Dr. Williams at VCA, but that's a topic for another post).  I'm going to have them check his blood under a microscope for filaria and probably do a general workup.  He's on the Shelter list for the 2-shot treatment, but that program is on hold (again) until the Constable (who is the County official in charge) decides how to pay for it.

Chopper isn't going to "replace" Taco, but we like MinPins, and he's the first one to come in at the Shelter. He's affectionate without being clingy and gets on well with other dogs, which is great for my fosters.  We can take him to pet events or the dog park--things that were hard to do with Taco.  He's small enough to sleep with my son or daughter.  He is a little barkier than he was at first, but that's okay.  He loves to play with chew toys, but doesn't get ugly or bitey when you take them from him.
 Cross likes Chopper, too.
And Cross once again is enjoying her walkies.  She had become pokey about walking alone--she and Taco were deeply bonded, even though they didn't sleep with each other or play together.  Everyone, including Chopper, is happy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Have a Dilemma

Tucker, a little butterscotch-colored terrier mix, has been in foster care since May 3rd, but he has some major issues.  On the plus side, he's a little guy, under 20 pounds.  He is loving, playful and lives to chase squirrels (he has a huge beagle-like bark for such a small dog). We treated Tucker for heartworms with the 2-shot protocol, and he's well-recovered from that experience, but he has proven to be unreliable as far as housebreaking.

He stayed at my house from May through the middle of June.  I had a lot of trouble with him at my house, in spite of crating, in spite of walking him on leash, in spite of taking him out on a sensible schedule and watching to make sure he did his business.  I'm not a beginner in the housebreaking department, but this was a dog who was a poop-making machine and a two-to-three time pee-er with each outside visit.  And he would still mark or poop inside.  And sometimes, he would poop in his crate.  While there could be some underlying health issue, we're stuck--the Shelter doesn't run labs for routine things and there hasn't been money for comprehensive workups on an otherwise apparently healthy dog.  But Tucker's potty habits aren't the only problem.

Tucker is also a chewer.  He loves rawhides, and Nylabones, although I eliminated those right off while trying to solve the poop problems.  But in the two months he was at my house, he could slip away, just for a few minutes, and find stuff to chew up--earbuds, earphones, underpants--the usual stuff dogs love.  However, he also chewed up a vintage stuffed toy animal that was from my childhood.  He did this while I let him nap with me on top of my bed one rainy afternoon.  He somehow did this while snuggled in my arms without me realizing it--and I'm not that hard of a sleeper!  Okay, so that was my bad, and I learned that he can't sleep on or in the bed.

In addition to these tough but normally manageable bad habits, Tucker has some odd anxieties.

He seemed to "forget" every single day that my husband lived in the house.  He would charge, barking and lunging (all 15-pounds of him) at my husband each evening when he came home. Or each time he came in door on the weekend.

The normal approaches to this fearfulness didn't work.  Leashing and correcting didn't seem to make a difference.  We'd do the calm correction routine (like the successful parts on "The Dog Whisperer") at the door, and during the repetitions, and gradual movement to my husband walking in the door, Tucker would do fine.  Then he'd lapse again the next day.  Like a memory slip.

He was fine in the crate and okay on the leash with my husband--although my husband noted several times that Tucker seemed like an unusually clumsy and uncoordinated dog.  I, too,  noticed that Tucker could not keep to a heel without getting tangled in the leash, no matter how I held it.

When my son arrived home from college, Tucker treated him like he was the biggest, baddest, scariest guy on the planet.  And my son, who loves dogs and is a big soft-hearted lug of a kid, was crushed.  He took it personally, and got upset.  In fact, he practically cried over it one point, wailing, "Why doesn't this dog like me, Mom?"
 My son likes to hold a dog and surf the web or play video games.

Tucker's inability to adjust to my husband and son made it impossible to keep him in my house as a foster, especially when combined with the housebreaking and chewing.  I figured that I was the one at fault and hoped that Ms. N., Tucker's "sub-foster" since June 17th, could help Tucker with his issues.  She has a very anxious Aussie mix girl and  a deaf Aussie boy, and has brought both of these dogs around.  She is an experienced dog person.

I gave Ms. N. pretty much full disclosure (I left out the vintage toy animal bit) and she was confident she could work with him.  She got his stools firmed up (not only was the quantity amazing, his stools remained soft even after the heartworm treatment was finished) with cottage cheese and pumpkin.  She got him to keep his crate clean.  He was having fewer accidents.  He loved playing with Ms. N.'s dogs

However, Ms. N., brought home another foster.  This guy was newly fixed and marked a few times, so Tucker began marking again.  Or so Ms. N. thought.  Now Tucker has completely backslid.  He's peeing and pooping in the house again.  He's torn up blinds and cushions, and is falling apart if he is crated.  We have to decide what we are going to do next.

The problem is that he is still a Shelter dog.  The Shelter doesn't do exploratory lab work, or behavior-rehab or place dogs in sanctuaries.  The Shelter dogs get basic vetting and a rough behavioral review (not a real evaluation by an expert). As it stands, Tucker is not readily adoptable at this point unless he is consigned to living outside (which is probably all he had done before in his short life--he's less than two years old).

We have to select an option that doesn't involve a lot of money.  I'm going to to go over Tucker's case in full detail with Ms. N. One nagging fear that I've had ever since I brought Tucker home is that he is a distemper survivor.  He has always seemed just a little off in a neurological sense.  I don't know what it takes (besides more money than I have to spend on him) to determine what is behind his behavior, but we have to do something.

If you have had experience with a dog like Tucker and can offer any suggestions, please leave me a comment.