Gala has broken the record.
Longest foster dog we’ve ever had.
She’s also the dog with fewest applications. (Currently that would be zero applications.)
In the past five months, she’s only had four interested potential adopters. All changed their minds. None ever met her in person.
If you’re a reader of this blog, perhaps that doesn’t surprise you. I’m nothing if not honest about the challenges of this dog. But I hope I haven’t done her a disservice by highlighting her physical feats and mishaps. I would hate for anyone to focus on those and miss out on the fact that Gala is one incredibly loving and amazingly intelligent dog. Gala’s intensity isn’t just for chasing after birds or jumping over obstacles, she also channels that intensity into loving her people and trying to please them.
Because she loves to ride in the car, I invite Gala along for many errands. It gets her out of the crate and gives me peace of mind to know she isn’t finding any kind of trouble. She’s an excellent passenger. My youngest son volunteers at the library in the summer, so Gala accompanies me most mornings to drop him off. After he gets out, she whines and cries and worries on the way home, and when we pick him up she waggles and covers him with kisses, happy he is back safe.
When I am out of the room, she waits longingly at the door until I come back- never taking her eyes from where I have gone missing. Thanks to the e-collar, she no longer jumps over the baby gate to follow me.
In fact, thanks to the e-collar, the cat can prowl through the kitchen again unaccosted and doesn’t have to worry about being pounced on as she lounges on the porch.
Thanks to the e-collar, we can walk all the way around the outside of the pasture fence, and not once will Gala attempt to dive under the fence to chase the horses. I’m no longer taken for a cross-country ski-less rides across the wet grass and I don’t need to worry about my arm being yanked out of the socket at the sight of a bird in the bushes. There might be a slight tug as Gala finds the end of the leash, but that’s where it stops.
The success we’re finding with the e-collar makes me ever certain Gala can be trained to be a perfect houseguest (we’re nearly there) and even to remain inside a fence (we don’t have a fenced yard in which to test this theory). I’ve only ever used the vibrate setting because she responds so beautifully to that. I’m pretty sure if I ever had to shock her, she’d be reduced to a quivering mass, but I’m saving that setting for emergencies (like cornering a horse).
I use the collar on our walks, too, which is helpful as Gala feels it necessary to protect me from every dog we pass (fenced or not). One quick press of the button, though, has her back at my side, hair standing on end and muted snarl, but sticking with me.
In fact, the only issue we have with Gala now is Gracie. And it’s not necessarily Gala who’s at fault here. Gala rarely barks, snarls, or even makes faces at Gracie any more. Gracie, on the other hand, regularly taunts Gala – snapping at her from outside her crate, growling at her when she passes. I don’t know if the e-collar can help us with this. I worry that if the dogs got into it and I used the collar on Gala, Gracie would seize that advantage.
Perhaps, Gala needs to be an only dog. But maybe not. She’s such a loving and happy spirit, I can’t help but believe that in the right hands, with the right dog, she could overcome her fears. I’m no dog trainer, so I really can’t say.
My father-in-law sent me an article recently about how dogs are tested for aggressive tendencies in many shelters.
Some tests involve using a fake hand to reach for a dog’s food as it is eating. If the dog bites the hand, it may likely be euthanized. The tests are being called out as unfair and inaccurate (thank goodness). Dogs in a shelter are stressed beyond reason and might quite reasonably be protective of food (especially if they haven’t had enough lately).
Thousands of dogs have been euthanized for failing those tests, just like thousands of dogs have been euthanized for looking like pitbulls. My dog Gracie is very food protective – she would definitely fail the aggression test. Gala, on the other hand, is not food protective, yet her intensity and short, short hair might put her in the pitbull camp. I’d have to wager if they’d both turned up in a shelter five years ago, neither would have made it out alive.
Like too much in life, it all depends on luck and timing.
The same article said that more and more, researchers are concluding that these tests are wildly inaccurate. A dog in a shelter is a very different dog than a dog in a home setting. An aggressive dog might be more submissive and subdued in a shelter and a non-aggressive dog might be more on edge and defensive. Which makes foster homes a much better gage for a dog’s temperament.
In the past five months, I’ve gotten to know Gala very well, but even so I can’t be sure how she will be in another home. I think that living here with the constant threat of Gracie, the temptation of the horses, the flow of strangers in and out, and the long hours in her crate is not easy. I have to wonder if she might relax in a real home with a person who is devoted to her instead of sharing her with a changing roster of puppies and dogs plus a quirky, grumpy personal dog. It’s hard to say, but I hope we will find out soon.
My puppy-blurs, as a friend recently called them, are doing well. They are happy and busy and oh-so-loving. They spend their days in the puppy pen poised to pounce at the fence; tail-waggingly thrilled to see visitors. Like overwrought teenagers at a rock concert – they leap at the sight of anyone, throwing themselves in your general direction and then falling to the ground in ecstasy if you reach out to touch them.
Yang claims any and all toys, piling them in the corner of the puppy pen. Yin is the food supervisor, always getting more than her share and making me grateful no one did an aggressiveness food test on her at the shelter. She loves her food and although she shares with Yang, many times she does this the same way my kids shared their Cheezits – by eating as fast as she can while growling, “Hey, you’re getting more than me!”
I’m still struggling to get non-blurry pictures of these girls, but here’s a few of my better attempts –
Thanks for reading!
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