Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dog on the Blog: Sometimes You Just Get Lucky!

This is Lucky and Warren. Lucky came to us about three years ago from an excellent dalmatian rescue in Phoenix, called Dalmatian Station. Lucky was considered a candiate for Smiling Dog Farms because she was dog aggressive, and had a history of run-ins with other dogs.

Adoption placement is always a tough call when a dog reveals that he is dog-aggressive. You can place him in a home where he will be an only dog and make sure that the adopting family understands his aggressive tendencies toward other dogs, so that they can try to get training and until the dog changes, avoid situations where the dog will be in contact with other dogs.

But there is always the risk that the next door neighbor's poodle will be pulled through the fence by a dog aggresive canine. And that could quickly and easily lead to a death sentence for the offending dog.

When Lucky arrived, we could see she was charming with people. And we could also see her antipathy toward other dogs. Still, from time to time, if we see a new dog who may be a perfect match for another dog -- even one who does not like most dogs -- we will at least try introducing them to see what happens.

Enter Warren, the big, elderly, golden lab. Warren came to us from the city of Wharton Animal Control. He was picked up roaming the town, and when no one came to claim him, he was scheduled to be euthanized. Mr. Reuben Jones, the Animal Control Officer for the city of Wharton, has a heart for dogs, and he will do anything he can to keep them from being killed. So he called me and I went and got Warren.

That was about two and a half years ago. Warren was really old then. But Warren had the heart of a puppy. In spite of his age and his creaking bones, Warren still liked to play and to run. He was such a gentle soul, with the wisdom that accumulated with age, even in dogs.

We thought this might be the perfect match for Lucky. So with trepidation, and both dogs on leads and one person for each dog, we inroduced Lucky to Warren and held our breath.

Against all odds, Lucky accepted Warren. They lived together in a play yard and cottage of their own. They actually played together. There was never any fighting over food. Lucky would make it clear which was her bowl, and Warren would tell her, "That's fine with me, dear. This bowl over here will be just fine for me."!!

I think the moral of this story is that while we always respect the history and nature of a dog, our thinking is not so set in concrete that we are not willing to try new possibilities. In spite of Lucky's track record with other dogs in the past, Warren turned out to be the one dog whose company she could enjoy.

They had two and a half magical years together, barking at the roosters and napping in the sunshine with one another. Two weeks ago, it was Warren's time to leave us. And at his advanced age, it would be unfair for us to feel cheated, even though we wished he could have lived another 10 years here at the farm with Lucky.

Lucky will probably live out the rest of her days a widow, having to content herself with her memories of the good times she enjoyed with her beloved Warren.

This week, we thought Lucky might be ready to meet another friend. We thought Blondie, a male yellow lab mix, might be a good fit, since Lucky did so well with Warren. In typical Lucky style, we got Blondie as close as the outside of Lucky's play yard and Lucky reached through the fence and grabbed his lip between her teeth and would not let go! It was clear that Lucky was not ready for a new friend -- at least not Blondie!

Dogs like Warren are few and far between. We are glad that Lucky and Warren had those two and a half magical years together!

Jay Hellerich, executive director
smiling dog farms
a 501(c)3 corporation
wharton, texas

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