The rescue coordinator called to say there was another small dog in jeopardy at the county shelter. I drove up to the shelter and met a small white animal sitting quietly in his kennel. He had two interesting looking protruding teeth that resembled elephant husks. The 2-year-old dog was picked up as a badly matted stray by animal control officers from the city of Coachella. He was listed as a Shih Tzu, but appeared to be a Lhasa Apso mix. I pulled this dog for Loving All Animals, along with another male white terrier. The terrier was adopted two weeks later, an amazing adoption that reunited him happily in a home with his brother dog. However, the road home for Einstein proved to be a long one with a few twists and turns.
Einstein had a bout of diarrhea when he went to his first foster home, and his foster mom concerned about her carpets called me to retrieve him. Einstein then joined me and my dogs at my home with tile flooring. The dog was afraid of mops and brooms, clues that he may have been abused.
Einstein came with a bit of an “attitude”. He would burst out of the house for his morning walk with his head on a swivel, a character looking for trouble. He snarled at the neighbor’s dog. Trainer Sandy Miller easily corrected his conflict with Missy down the street. Sandy implemented a positive reinforcement technique having him sit and get a special treat when encountering the dog. The two dogs got to sniff each other in neutral territory while still on a leash, and surprisingly became buddies in a few minutes.
A couple saw his cute adoption poster at Starbucks (he was pictured wearing spectacles and surrounded by textbooks) and wanted to try Einstein in their home. He did well with their children, but he growled at the husband who is an ardent dog lover. Einstein was returned, attended more adoption events, and kept searching for that perfect home.
I had to go out of town for four days to attend the No More Homeless Pets conference sponsored by Best Friends. Ken and Carmen Bernotas did some short term dog fostering, and they readily agreed to care for Einstein a brief time. I delivered him to their lovely home, and noted how he circled the perimeter of the house and made himself at home. Expecting the phone to ring with questions or concerns while I was away, I finally called the Bernotas’s when the conference ended. I could scarcely believe it when Ken told me, “We’re falling in love with Einstein. Is there any chance we could adopt him?”
When I went over to complete the adoption paperwork, Einstein appeared happier and more relaxed than I’d ever seen him. He was clearly thriving as an only dog living with a retired couple with lots of time to dote on him. While much of a dog’s temperament may be hereditary or formed from their early experiences, it is also clear that it can be influenced and modified by their current environment – – including the actions of their owner in shaping their behavior.
Many dogs given up at shelters have never received proper training, and many have never had an owner who showed them love. In addition, the shelter environment may aggravate behavior problems. In most cases, the combination of a loving home and proper training will result in a successful placement. Einstein does not react well to male dogs, but he has adapted quite well in a home as an only dog where he gets all the attention.
Carmen describes her experience, “The thing I notice most about having Einstein is that it’s brought Ken and I closer. We have someone to share and another subject to talk about all the time! Except for having to get up early for walks, everything about having him is wonderful.”
Ken reports, “We love Einstein! We realize he’s an alpha dog, but we accept him because he’s wonderful in the home with us. He loves to play with his toys and follow us around the house. Having him is a complete joy!” Once a homeless, badly matted stray dog on the streets, Einstein now enjoys a pampered life that includes lounging on their country club patio with his “folks” watching the golfers. Einstein’s new shirt says “I love my Mommy”…and his Dad! Einstein is as SMART as his name implies to get this wonderful home with Ken and Carmen. We love these happy endings!
If you are interested in fostering or adopting a rescue dog, call Loving All Animals at (760) 776-9397. You just might have your own happy ending.