While Chloe wasn’t the first dog I ever had, she was the first one who belonged to me specifically and not our family in general. We lost her in May of 2002. Penny came along about a year later, but in the meantime we opened a dog-o-tel (as J.P. called it).
One fall Sunday, I noticed a sign hanging up at church. It had a bunch of words . . . yada, yada, yada . . . but this is what caught my eye:
These guys were looking for a foster home. J.P. wasn’t too excited about the idea, but somehow I talked him into it, and Jake (top) and Raleigh (bottom) came to live with us.
K., the woman from the rescue, dropped them off on a Saturday morning. After some discussion and initial instruction, she was off and we were on our own. We decided they might need to go out, and as soon as we opened the door Jake was off like a shot. K. was barely out of the driveway, and we’d already lost one of our charges. And as we were out tracking him down, all I could think about was how upset J.P. would be—he didn’t want these dogs, and now here he was running through the neighborhood trying to catch one of them.
We managed to corral Jake and bring him back home with minimal effort, and fortunatley J.P. didn’t mind too much. It was a stressful day for all of us as the dogs had been brought from their old home to ours, bewildered and scared.
It didn’t take long for them to settle in, and we soon realized that while Jake was cute, he was also a knucklehead. He chewed socks and Christmas decorations, darted out the door at every opportunity (including Christmas Eve, forcing us to run through snow-covered yards in our dress shoes and clothes), and barked his fool head off at J.P. and me if we so much as hugged. We were glad to see him go to his “forever home” in January.
Raleigh-Bear was a different story. He had his quirks, but somehow they endeared him to us. Nearly every morning, he’d snarf his own food and then shove Jake out of the way and attempt to eat his food too. We’d scolded him several times, and one morning J.P. caught him in the act and decided he needed a time out in the basement. Jake couldn’t have cared less about food, so he left it in his dish and walked away. When Raleigh had served his time, he made a beeline for Jake’s dish, grabbed one piece of kibble, and kept on going. He showed us who was boss!
Another time, he was sound asleep under one of the end tables in the family room. J.P. was watching a suspenseful movie, and all was quiet. Then, “BOOM!” Something happened in the movie, and it startled Raleigh so much that he leapt to his feet, barking like the fraidy-cat that he was. And of course, he bonked his head on the underside of the table and struggled to get out from under it. When he was finally free of it, he glanced back to find us watching him. Embarrassed, he ran to the front door, now barking as if he were protecting us from an intruder. But I think he knew that we weren’t fooled; our peals of laughter probably tipped him off.
As much as we loved him, we knew Raleigh wasn’t the dog for us. The claws attached to his 56-pound body were wreaking havoc on our hardwood floors, but the bigger issue was that he didn’t get along with other dogs (he’d been attacked by a bigger dog when he was just a pup). We couldn’t have left him at the dogsitter when we were out of town, and we didn’t have any other options. So the rescue found him a great home about 45 minutes away. The wife works at a large well-known vet school in the area, and his new “parents” adore him.
We found out this weekend that Raleigh’s fear of other dogs has begun to manifest itself as aggression. More and more dogs are moving into his neighborhood, and it’s causing stress for everyone involved. He’s going to be working with an animal behaviorist, but if that doesn’t work his new owners think they may need to give him back to the rescue. We’re crossing our fingers and hoping that the behaviorist can help because if he can’t, Raleigh doesn’t have a lot of options.