So in ALFIE! Part 1, I gave a relatively quick explanation of how I went from digging a dog (ALFIE!) to adoption in a handful of days. Summing that up, I’d actually known ALFIE for a couple of months but had only spent a minimal amount of time with him in the runs since he was technically a level above what I could walk at the shelter.
A series of events ranging from being told that my excuses for not having a dog were nonsense to watching two friends’ dog for about 5 days along with a bunch of different events on Thanksgiving had led to me making a decision. I wanted ALFIE!. After buying a bunch of stuff at PetSmart, I had adopted him that Saturday and brought him home.
As sort of an amusing side-note, readers will note that I’m referring to ALFIE! in all-caps, Internet yelling. That’s how I actually always talked to him at the shelter; I’d see him in his kennel and treat him and call him ALFIE!. Anyhow, when I went to adopt him they asked me if I wanted to change his name. Were they kidding? Clearly not since some adopters do. But in my mind he was and would always be ALFIE!
So after fighting to leash him up, I had gotten him into his crate and that’s where I cut things off on Monday. Now he was mine, sitting in my back seat in his crate and it was time to see what would happen when I got him home. He was actually stunningly well behaved in his crate as we made the short drive home with one stopover at Costco for dog food.
He didn’t whine or bark and just sat quietly in his kennel. Even as I shopped at Costco, he didn’t raise a fuss. Like I said, dogs actually like crates to a great degree; it’s their little private space. After that one stop, it was time to take him to his new home (until we move to a house in February anyhow).
And like a proud (and slightly mental) new parent, I felt the need to document all of it. His first task at my complex was to sniff every damn thing he could, he had to suss out his new location and that meant a lot of sniffing. And course, he had to pee. And like the slightly deranged guy I am, I took a picture of it. Just be real glad his first poo was done at night.
Yes, I know. Anyhow, then it was up the steps to his new home. Here’s him waiting expectantly in front of my door.
And i can’t honestly say I knew what to expect when he got there. I had seen him be a bit out of control at the shelter but, as I detailed in the Volunteering at the Humane Shelter Series, it’s not the best place for a lot of dogs. Some who are out of control in the kennels act totally normal out of them. Only time would tell.
And, honestly, it took him about 5 minutes of sniffing everything in my apartment before he pretty much acted like he had lived there his entire life. Make no mistake, he’s not perfect but in only a few days I’ve seen him change from how he was at the shelter.
He’s still pushing boundaries mind you; he tends to try to hump me when he wants attention (it actually means he needs to potty, or that I’m just hella sexy), and he’s a bit mouthy sometimes; he’ll bite a bit too hard when he gets overexcited playing. Which I need to break him of. He’s still dog reactive and I had to tell someone in the complex “No, that’s not a good idea” when he asked if I wanted ALFIE! to talk with his dog.
But ALFIE! shows overall good behavior; more than that he is improving over time which is all you can ask for. He’s learning to get into his crate when I leave the house (dogs like it, by the way, it’s like a cave for them and it’s sort of their own personal space), gradually learning that humping gets him ignored and sitting quietly gets him a treat, etc.
I’ve got him on diet dog food and am trying to get him out to run around as much as possible to get his weight down a couple of pounds. It won’t take long and, if there were actual ‘leash only’ dog parks, I’d take him to one. But there aren’t and he’s still a bit dog reactive as I noted above.
I can’t risk another dog bum rushing him and him snapping yet. Because somehow the irresponsibility of another dog owner will be my fault when ALFIE! bites his unleashed dog. Even kids have to be shooed off, ALFIE! doesn’t like being hugged closely and he’ll snap if some child-thing runs up and tries to hug hims as they are wont to do.
And he’s still totally idiotic for toys. Here’s a couple of pics and some video of him playing.
Here’s some video of the little idiot. I’m the big idiot in the background.
Unfortunately, he’s also a complete chew-master beast. That red toy lasted all of 10 minutes until he had eviscerated it. He’s killed bunches more since then and it’s a good thing they are cheap. If one makes it an entire day, I’m doing well.
He also destroyed a toy that I was assured would be extremely hard for him to tear up (it was plush with hard rubber inside) took him about 30 minutes. The rubber football took no time at all; he pulled the squeaker out. A toy I bought him today made it about 5 minutes; Petsmart recommended a bone that they say has never been destroyed called the Goliath (sounds like a vibrator). I’m not holding my breath and he’s already chewing the plastic off. I’m going to have to go to a special site called TuffieToys.com that makes toys for bear, lions tigers, etc. Those might last a week if I’m lucky.
Beyond that he’s settling into his new life. He follows me religiously (and somewhat annoyingly) and is just being a dog for his master. I’ve read about how man evolved with dogs (after we domesticated them) but it’s odd to see it in action. There’s nowhere ALFIE would rather be than around me. ALL THE TIME. Here’s him literally at my feet at the computer in two different shots.
And while we had a bit of an issue the first time I let him into bed for sleep (he tried to hump my head and I kenneled him), he’s good with it now. We’re cuddle buddies. He also has a tendency to start the night sleeping flat on his back although he usually mellows out and just lies next to me eventually.
On Sunday, I took him with me to look at houses and apartments in the area I wanted to live. I just tied his leash to the headrest and he was perfectly fine, just enjoying the sun on his face, the wind in his eyes, the small of a million things in his nose. And here’s just a head shot so I can use up all of my damn photos.
Perhaps what’s been more amazing is the response from the other volunteers. The BRATT digest came out and someone asked if ALFIE had been adopted. I sent an email that I had taken him and I must have gotten at least 20 emails either offering congratulations, excitement, or folks offering help with his training. Technically, he’s a level above what I could work with at the shelter; and the higher level volunteers are not only so thrilled that he has a Forever Home, but are willing to take time to email me to help with his training.
It’s amazing. And people keep asking me at the shelter if I’m the one who adopted him, how he’s doing, etc. Like I said in the Volunteering at the Humane Shelter Series, one of the things that’s amazing about it is that the other volunteers are truly there to help the dogs. They wanted ALFIE adopted, they wanted him in a Forever Home, they are stoked that I took him, and they want to make sure he gets what he needs.
And that’s my story for today. It’s not the end but just another beginning. I’m not only involved with the shelter as a volunteer, and helping to spread the word to help the dogs through my site; now I’ve taken responsibility for one of the dogs myself.
Every morning I wake up next to him and watch him stretch out and start waking up to start his day. We go walking and he pinches an epic loaf which I can only encourage. He destroys more toys; I go buy new ones. We play, he eats, he follows me around constantly, he licks my legs endlessly, we settle in for sleep, on and on it goes.
It’s a lot of responsibility, responsibility I couldn’t have handled this summer. I’ve had to alter my schedule a bit to get home to take him to potty on a good schedule which is part of why I want a house with a backyard. I have to worry about his health, and his mental well being, and all of the things that go into caring for another living creature.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Read ALFIE! Part 3
- Because We Let Them: Part 2
- Because We Let Them: Part 3
- Because We Let Them: Part 1
- Methods of Endurance Training: Winter 2010/2011 Part 3