Starting Over (Again)

First, the good news – Gala is muzzle and cone free!

Her jaw has ‘knit itself back together’ as the doctor put it. She’s cleared for all activities – running, playing, even eating regular dog food!

The transformation was instantaneous. On the drive down to see Dr. Walker, she stood nervously behind me in the back seat. The last time we took this trip, she had a crate to ride in, but my big crate didn’t fit in the only car available for me to use and she refused to stay in the ‘way back’ where she would have been more comfortable. She fretted and I worried she would hurt her jaw being jostled around back there, but eventually she fell asleep as close to me as allowed. (I promise I took this picture while stopped at a light and not driving!)

Gala before

When we arrived, she walked meekly into the vet clinic, not engaging with the other dogs in the lobby – one of which threatened her and the other which invited her to play. When Dr. Walker came out to get her, she refused to leave my side, so I had to lead her back to the work area for xrays and then was shooed back to the lobby to wait and worry. Ten minutes later Dr. Walker reappeared with a smile on his face and declared, “The muzzle worked! She’s healed up!”

A few moments later, Gala came bounding out dragging a tech behind her and launched herself on me. The tech handed me the muzzle and cone ‘just in case’ and I nodded through my tears and thanked them. I snapped the next pictures after Gala hopped happily in the car for the ride home.

When we got home, she was beside herself, leaping into the arms of everyone, licking legs, rolling on the floor, tossing toys. Our happy girl was BACK!

What a relief, but this brings me to the bad news….

Gala is still here. There are no adoption applications for her. Another suitable foster home has not been found.

We have no choice but to keep her activity restricted. She is in the crate much more than she’d like, but with a houseful of teenagers and their assorted friends, it’s impossible to assure her safety otherwise. During the brief times that she is loose in the house, we leave her leash on so that if she were to escape we have a better chance at catching her enroute to the horses (which is really laughable since Gala could outrun a cheetah).

In many ways I feel like we are back at square one with her. Reinforcing manners and retraining her to walk nicely on the leash.

Here’s what it’s like to take Gala for a walk:

I open her crate and she lunges to leave, I grab her collar and haul her back into her crate, telling her to sit. She sits and smiles up at me, coiled excitement, literally shaking with anticipation, but sitting. We exchange pleasantries and I put the leash on her.

She eagerly follows me through the house, ignoring Graice’s snarls as we pass, excited because she knows where we are headed.

I open the door to the house, she bounds outside, I pull her back, tell her to sit. She makes a grab for the cat who resides on the bench beside the door. I pull her back, tell her to sit. She sits very distractedly, her eyes darting between the cat and the birds in the houses that hang on the edges of our porch. I wait. Finally, she looks at me. I tell her she is marvelous.

We turn to walk across the porch, she launches herself on the cat again. I pull her back, tell her to sit….(we repeat this several times).

Finally, we set off across the driveway. She goes ballistic racing back and forth on the end of the leash, pulling with all of her forty pounds. I stop and brace myself against her, waiting. She runs in place like Wylie-Coyote for a few moments, the finally stops, straining at the edge of the leash. I don’t move, waiting for her to release the pressure on the leash. She finally takes a few steps back, the leash goes slack. I take a step forward, she immediately goes airborne in her enthusiasm to run up the hill. I stop, brace myself and wait. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Eventually, she sighs (the look she gives me clearly says, “You are NO FUN at all”).

DSC_8474

We walk as calmly as she is capable of walking and we make steady progress on our route around the back of the pasture or through the woods. Many (many) times on our walk, I have to stop and wait for her to quit her pulling.

I tell her, in the sweetest voice I can muster, how incredibly irritating it is to have to go through all this again. When Gala first arrived, this was the way we walked for the first several weeks. Being back at this point again, is discouraging. I’m hopeful it won’t take as long this time around. Maybe it’s the heat or the lack of puppies, but my patience wears thin. Thankfully, though, it’s still holding.

Inside, she drags the leash behind her and I lead her into my office, locking the door behind us. She sorts through the toy box (which I close up each time so she can have the thrill of opening the box) and selects a toy to chew on, hops on the guest bed and commences chewing.

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She spends a few minutes inspecting the room, making sure nothing has changed since her last visit; she pauses to gaze out the window longingly at a horse standing over the water trough. Every ten minutes or so, she steps over to my side and leans against me, wondering if now it might be time to play or walk or do something besides stare at the screen and tap on the keyboard. She licks my arm, then goes back to the toy box.

DSC_8488

Gala’s days are regimented – crate time, walk time, office time, walk time, crate time, walk time. I long to toss a ball and watch her sprint across a field after it, but at our house at least, that can never happen. None of us want her to get loose again, afraid this time one of the horses might kill her.

We all love this dog, truly (except Gracie – they have never made peace). She has stolen out hearts, but we are all winded physically and emotionally from the constant effort of managing her. It is time for Gala’s people to come for her. It is time she started her real life with her real people. She is a special dog with an enormous heart, a clever mind and a curious, happy nature. She needs a job to do and a challenge. She is not the kind of dog who will be happy lounging on the porch all of her days or alternating her time between a crate and a leash. I have NO DOUBT this dog could learn to do anything. She could be a movie stunt dog or a world-class dock diver or a national champion agility dog. Or simply the coolest dog you ever meet. All she needs is the right person and time and patience and love (and maybe a little bit more patience).

I’m much better at loving dogs than training dogs (which is why I stick to puppies generally), but we will do what we can and wait for the adoption magic to happen.

All six of the highway puppies found their forever homes this past week. One by one we shared a last snuggle and sent them on their way. What special pups they were and such a privilege to be part of their journey! I’ve already heard from some of their families that the pups are settling in happily.

I’m awaiting confirmation on two new pups to arrive in another week. Little black lab mixes. Check the Another Good Dog facebook group for news of their impending arrival (if you’re not already a part of the group, click the join button and one of us will happily invite you right in).

If you’d like to inquire about adopting Gala or other amazing rescue dogs, volunteer, foster, or donate, visit OPHRescue.org.

If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, please stop by CaraWrites.com. Feel free to send me a note or connect with me on twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Thanks for reading!

Blessings,

Cara

 

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Published by

Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and occasional cowgirl who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

15 thoughts on “Starting Over (Again)”

  1. And this is why I use a Freedom Harness for walking dogs! My very favorite walking tool. I take it to the homes of my pet sitting clients often.

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    1. I’ve not heard of freedom harness – I use a regular harness when we run and sometime I wrap the leash around under her belly in front of her hind legs – this definitely makes her mind but I worry it hurts her, too. I’ll have to google a freedom harness. thanks!

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      1. We use them with any dogs that pull a lot. Nothing stops all pulling, but these help a good deal. If you hook the leash on the top of the back it provides gentle pressure on the ribs when a dog pulls, and this reminds them not to pull so much. Or, for bad pullers, having a leash under the chin (across the front of the chest) means that they end up turning sideways when they pull, another good reminder. No hurting the dog. Good padding on the freedom harness. Using a leash and collar pretty much leaves the dog free to pull like crazy, and dogs can pull about 4x their body weight – they’re strong!!

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  2. Cara,
    So many of us have observed the Gala struggle. You make us love each and every of your fosters, but a few especially so. Did you get enough funds to pay for her care? I missed any posts regarding that. I can mail a check.
    When we met Skye, Gingersnap was a difficult placement. The right active adopter will come soon.
    Barbara

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    1. Thanks Barbara – I know you’re right – her family will find her eventually, I need to keep being reminded of that. I still don’t know the extent of Gala’s bills but OPH will certainly put any donation too good use. There have been some donations, but not enough to cover her heartworm treatment and jaw injury. If you want to donate in Gala’s name, you can do so through the website. She may require a training investment soon, so her bills keep piling up. Sigh. Thanks for your encouragement!

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  3. Training should have some suggestions too, I have a front clip harness you can try, a prong collar or even a vibrating training collar. Clearly the power struggle is real and not easily won, especially if she is an ADD type personality lol

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    1. I’ve been configuring my regular harness by looping the leash back under her belly and she really respects this. It’s how we get past exciting things we pass on our runs. Thanks Juanita – I might take you up on the vibrating training collar.

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  4. I’m sooo happy her jaw is ok now! Sending prayers for that perfect match for little Gala!! Thank you for going so far beyond the extra mile for her!!! I thank God for people like you every day!! You make the world truly a better place!!!

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  5. Call Cesar. See if he’ll make an emergency visit. I have an intelligent hyper dog. It’s taken years to get him under control. Fortunately he’s not quite Gala’s speed. I’m so happy she’s recovered. I wish you luck and I pray for a good home.

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  6. So glad to read the good news regarding Gala’s recovery. She will be a loyal and faithful companion. She will be a great dog for someone who is athletic and enjoys the outdoors!

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  7. I know you need to find her forever home but I am so excited for Gala to be getting back to normal! It looks like she’s smiling in the pictures!

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