Sparky: Adopted

Mike came home from the adoption event today and said that Sparky had a good adoption and that the lady that wants him will take him next Saturday. She wants to spend the first week at home with him so she is going to arrange to take a week off from work for vacation to stay with Sparky.

Mike didn’t say much about the person or the environment other than that she has a fence and seems like a good fit.  He will do the home inspection this week and she will come to the adoption event next Saturday to pick him up and take him home.  Mike already did the vet check so everything is looking good.

Sparky has been an interesting foster.  One of the longest we have had.  He isn’t a bad dog, is very well house trained, is smart, and is a happy greeter at the door.  But he is just a bit older than most people want and he has quirks in his personality that make him unfit for a household with children or anyone that might pick at or annoy him. He is a loner and doesn’t really run with the pack but that fits in perfectly with his new home.  He grew up as an only dog and will now be an only dog again.

I might just miss Sparky.

Sparky: An application

Sparky 20120901

Sparky on September 1, 2012

Sparky isn’t the sweetest dog and he has issues with anyone touching his paws.  But after one of the logest foster’s we have done, he finally has an application.  The family came this weekend and liked Sparky.  We got a followup application on Sunday and it looks like a good application.

Sparky is interesting in that he is 7 years old and training or teaching him has been difficult.  I have worked with him and tried to teach him to accept people touching his paws.  But he resists without biting.  He was incredibly sensitive about his tail but we were able to get him to adjust and let us tug on his tail and play with it in time.  So, he can be trained.

Well… there is interest in this little dog.  He really is a good dog once he adjusts to his new home.  So he needs time and patience.  The family that has applied for him is aware of his insecurities.  They will be coming to the event next Saturday and if everything works out, we will have finally gotten Sparky adopted.

Sparky: finally understood

Sparky is a strange foster.  We have had him for more than 6 months and that is unusual.  He isn’t a candidate for an average family, and isn’t a particularly attractive dog. He has bad manners and isn’t really show-able in marketing events.

Ultimately I don’t think Sparky will ever be adopted. He is 8 years old now and there hasn’t been any applications for him. Partly because he isn’t going to the marketing events, but at the same time… he isn’t really a “standard” dog.  He has bad habits and he isn’t sociable.  But today i worked with him and figured out one of his problems.

He hates for is paws to be touched.  He just hates it ans growls and whines if you touch them.  Even if you gently come up to him and pet him, hug him, and are close to him. But if you touch his paws, he growls and is whiny.  He doesn’t bite and doesn’t get nasty but does growl and gets angry.

Sparky definitely has problems with people touching his paws.


Loredo: Ouch, my nose!

I got home from work today and Loredo had this deep puncture wound on his nose about 1 inch in front of his eyes and op the upper right side.  It didn’t seem to phase him a bit when I patted him on the head when I walked in the door.  As I walked through the house Mike yelled down to be careful of his nose.

Turns out that after I left for work, Mike had gotten up and gone to the bathroom.  Mike lives upstairs and use to leave the bathroom door open when I was at work (Mike works from home).  The dogs largely didn’t care and Clifford would go into the bathroom and lay down on the cool tile.  But once we got Loredo, that had to change because he wasn’t content just sitting on the floor.  Loredo wants attention and if you are sitting still seeming to do nothing, he makes you give him attention.

So, apparently Mike was in the bathroom and he heard a ruccas.  When he opened the door, Loredo was bleeding from the snoot.  Mike didn’t know which dog he had gotten into a fight with but he suspected Sparky since Sparky is so aggressive with his bed.

We patched up his nose and cleaned up the wound.  He didn’t flinch a bit when we worked on it and was happy as a clam to get attention.  He is a sweet little dog and incredibly tolerant.

And speaking of tolerant, I decided it was time to put Loredo on his back.  I was expecting the usual struggle that you get from a big dog when you do it the first couple of times but he didn’t seem to care at all.  I was sitting in my office and called him over.  When he got there I turned him around and flipped him into my lap.  He didn’t fight a bit, didn’t even stiffen up.  His eyes got big, but he seemed pretty relaxed.

I just held him there and pet on his chest and belly.  He seemed perfectly content and eventually closed his eyes and seemed to go to sleep.  When put him back down on the floor, he spun around and started licking my arm.  When I covered my arm, he nipped at my shirt and tugged.  He was just so excited.  Then there was some sound or something happened somewhere else in the house and he took off like a shot to investigate.

Sparky: Back home (again)

Mike brought Sparky home from the adoption event.  We had both Sparky and Loredo at foster homes while we were on vacation with about 50 other people in Alaska.

When Sparky got home, he seemed like nothing had changed.  He wasn’t crazy happy to be home, nor did he run around sniffing everything or everyone.  He just walked in the door and acted like he had never left.

Loredo, on the other hand, just ran like a cat throughout the house and then investigated everything, sniffed everyone, and then wanted to play more.

But there was a change in Sparky.  He didn’t hold his tail up and his Dobby like ears kind of hung down.  I pet on him and he didn’t growl at all even though he was in his bed.

Sparky: Back home

During the middle of the week Mike got a call from the fosters that were taking care of Sparky.  Remember that we had pushed Sparky to another foster family so that we could take in Loredo.  But they had a planned vacation and so they brought Sparky by on Friday.  That leaves us with a house filled with dogs.  Clifford, Remy, Kira, Loredo, Sparky and Marigold.  4 dogs is a lot…. but 6 is incredibly difficult to manage especially when 2 of them don’t know how to use the doggy door.

Sparky is a spunky little creature and a dog that is unlikely to get adopted.  And he picks fights with most other new dogs.  He lit into Marigold fairly quickly but she held her ground and they accepted their place in the house.  Fortunately, Marigold’s family will come to get her on Monday so we will be back down to 5 dogs until the fosters come back for Sparky.

On another note, Sparky wasn’t the best dog when it came to affection.  He would occasionally come in and want to be pet but otherwise he didn’t interact much.  But when I got home from work on Friday, Sparky was the first to greet me at the door, and he jumped all over me like a puppy.  I’ve never seen him so happy.  Sparky appears to really like staying with our little pack.


Laredo: Dog swap

Laredo 2012-06-09

Hmmm… well, Sparky is staying at another foster’s home. Sparky likes their dog and loves the people so he shouldn’t get any emotional scaring from bouncing there for a week. Laredo arrived. He is about 1 year old and acts very much like a puppy. He has had no training at all. None. He isn’t house trained, jumps up and puts his paws on you when he greets you, picks fights with the other dogs, and tries to take the food bowl of other dogs. We have had worse before.

As for what he looks like. Not a Chesapeake Retriever!!! Well… he has some in him, but he is something other than a chessie. He has a stubby nose and a broad head so he looks like he could have some pit bull in him. He is shaped like a lab and has nappy hair on half of him… so he has some Chesapeake in him. He is good looking from about the ribs forward. But from the ribs backward to the end of his tail… it looks like he got in a fight and is recovering from mange or something. He doesn’t have mange, but it is not attractive. Ever seen a squirrel where half the hair on hits tail is ripped out and what is there is messed up and mangled? That is what his tail looks like. And the hair on his butt is not brown… it is more like blond mixed with dirt. It looks like someone did a bad bleach job on him and his hair got bleach burned. I joked that we should go get some brown hair coloring and color the hair on his back and rear to make him all the same color.

He goes to get his surgery tomorrow to get neutered. Current plan is for him to stay a week while he recovers. Then go to another foster. But I suspect that he will be here longer.

Laredo: Just needs a home

We are taking in a new dog named Laredo.  He needs to be neutered before he can be put up for adoption.  This is Laredo. He is a Chesapeake Lab.  Not my favorite type of lab but he needs help.  I just don’t like the texture of their curley hair. But they have the same personality of our labs which are our rescue breed of choice. He basically needs a home for a week while he recovers from surgery. We typically try to foster the same personality dogs so that the entire pack gets along. All of the other dogs are some derivative of a Lab…. they all retrieve… they all like water… and they are all stupid. Sparky is a bit of an exception in that he is more of a Chow mixed with something. He chases the ball…. but doesn’t have the retriever instinct. But he is a good house dog and is well behaved once he gets adjusted. Anyhow…. this isn’t about Sparky…. this is about Laredo. Here is his picture.

Laredo smile


The only problem is that he doesn’t like some dogs… and particularly Sparky. Or rather… Sparky doesn’t like Laredo.

So… we are considering having Sparky stay with another foster family for a week while Laredo recovers from his surgery. He is only 1 year old so he should recover fast.

Let’s see how this goes. I just pray he isn’t a Darby clone. I still cry whenever I think of Darby.

Sparky: Not a bad dog

Well… it has been quite a while of keeping Sparky and he turns out to be a pretty decent dog once he acclimates to the environment.  He now sleeps on a pad in the bedroom, and he will let you pet him when he is on his pad.  He gets up and eats with the other dogs and is energetic about it.  He also seeks out attention now.  He previously didn’t seem to want to be pet especially on the tummy.  But now he comes to me when I get home and wants to be scrubbed on and he occasionally shows up in my office and wants to be pet.  He puts his nose under my arm and lifts my arm to let me know he is wanting some time.

Sparky is still more aggressive in unfamiliar situations so I wouldn’t put him in a home with children or where a child might poke at him.  But he would be a good companion dog.  He does love to play chase with the other dogs and will take the ball.  He doesn’t ever bring it back, but he likes to go get it.


Sparky: A good dog looking for a good home

Well… we had a nibble regarding Sparky, but the family decided on a different dog.  Sparky has turned out to be an interesting kind of dog.  When we first got him, he was defensive and didn’t seem to want to be in the house or with the other dogs.  But now, after 6 months, he seems to really be warming up to the home.  He greets me when I come home, he follows me around in the morning when I am getting ready for work and always wants to be pet.  He has even started laying down on the floor and rolling over on his side to have his belly scrubbed.  Previously he wouldn’t let you touch his back legs or belly without growling.

So, I think Sparky has had issues adjusting to being thrown out of his home.  After all, he lived there for 7 years  and had a family and then one day he didn’t.  He never had a bunch of other dogs to contend with so I don’t think he initially knew how to play with other dogs.  But now when I take them outside, he runs with all 3 other dogs, chases the ball, and races around the yard with Clifford.

And he has learned some manners.  He now gives paw on command, he sits at attention for his food, and when I sing the breakfast song he comes running down the stairs instead of shyly sitting at the top of the stairs waiting for a personal invite.  When I sing the doggy treat song (yes, I sing to the dogs and they understand the different songs and know where to go when they hear the different tunes) he runs to the refrigerator and sits there patiently waiting for a treat.  And he is great at taking treats.  Clifford and Remy bite your hand off if you aren’t careful.  Kira always gently takes it from me but will bite Mike’s arm off when he gives them treats.  But Sparky is just as gentle as can be and will take the treat without even touching your fingers.

Speaking of his changes, Sparky has started wagging his tail.  For the first 5 months his tail stayed curled over his back like a chow, but he never wagged it.  You couldn’t tell if he was happy to see you or not.  But lately, when I walk down the hall, he will wag is tail.  It is a gentle little 2 inch side to side movement over his back (nothing like the wag of Kira that literally goes from her left shoulder to her right shoulder knocking off anything at tail level that might be in the way.  But he wags ever so gently and seems to be happy.

And, he occasionally sleeps on the dog bed in my bedroom.  That just started about 2 weeks ago.  He use to always sleep on the futon up in Mike’s office or he would sleep on the dog bed in the hallway.  But now, when I get ready for bed, he will show up and lay down in the bed beside my bed.  But in the morning he is always gone and is back in the bed in the hallway.  Still, I think this is progress and a good indicator that Sparky will adjust to any new home provided that the family gives him time to fit in.

As for my assessment for what home would be best for him.  I would say a home with an older person that stays at home.  I wouldn’t trust him with small children because he is quick to defend himself if you take his bed or rough him up.  But he is a wonderful companion dog that seeks out affection occasionally but for the most part doesn’t need constant attention.  He likes other dogs and gets along but he doesn’t sleep with the pack and he doesn’t interact with them unless he is interacting with a human at the same time.  So, I think a single adult or a couple with no children would be a perfect home for Sparky.

Sparky: What a whimpy bark

Sparky has really settled in and is participating with the pack now.  He has figured out the dog door and so he is basically no trouble at all.  He sleeps in the hall or upstairs, doesn’t ever have an accident, and gets along with all of the other dogs.  There has been some interest in him and he has been referenced on a few applications, but none have adopted him.

Sparky never barks.  The most noise he ever makes is to squeal like a stuck pig if he thinks you are going to step on him when you are walking through the hall.  Don’t try moving him or moving his bed while he is in it.  He growls and curls his lips.  But on Saturday I was home in the house alone and the dogs heard something and started barking.  In a big surprise, instead of just laying there on his bed looking around, Sparky jumped up and ran to the front room and barked with the other dogs.  But his bark is pathetic.  This mousy little bark that is somewhat high pitched.  I chuckled listening to him make the noise.  But it was good to see him joining in with the pack to defend the house.

Another change in Sparky is that he now wants to be pet.  When I am in the office, he will come in and nudge my hand with his nose and want his ears scrubbed.  He will keep doing this till you say “no” and then he will politely walk down the hall and get in his bed.  In the morning when I get up and feed all of the pooches, he goes outside and then comes in and follows me around while I am getting ready for work.  He loves being pet.  He is just very nervous about being manhandled or picked up.

Another nice thing about Sparky is that he can be left alone in the house and he doesn’t destroy anything.  He would make a great dog for someone that works and has a doggy door.  He is pretty self sufficient.


Sparky: Toe nail cuttings

I thought that Mike was taking Sparky in to have his double due claws cut on his back feet, but it turns out that he just took him in to have his regular nails cut.  Gees…. we don’t do that for our permanent dogs and HART doesn’t reimburse us for this kind of stuff.  But… Mike wants the dog to get adopted so I guess he is trying to make him look peeeerdy.

Sparky is a bit aggressive when confined or cornered.  So, they muzzled him and then gave him tranquilizers.  When I got home, he was kind of “blah” and his tail was uncurled.  Mike hadn’t even noticed…. too humerus…. but he eventually agreed that Sparky was a bit sedated even 2 hours after returning from the vet.

So, he doesn’t tap so much when walking on the hard wood and will be back to normal tomorrow.  At least I didn’t growled at when I pet him in his bed tonight.

Sparky: Just a dog


Sparky is a fairly easy to care for pooch. He is about 6 years old and he came to us fully house trained and after a couple of tests we found that he is perfectly fine being left at home with free run of the house. He doesn’t destroy anything, and doesn’t get into any trouble.

But Sparky is just a dog. He really doesn’t have any special personality traits that make you go “WOW” I just love that dog.  He plays tug with the other dogs, and just largely joined the pack.  We had some early dominance issues but once he learned his place, he completely respected it.  The one thing that I cannot get Sparky to learn is the dog door.  My normal methods don’t work.

Normally, to teach a dog to use the door, I would put him outside, then hold the door open and offer a treat from inside.  He would come through the door and we would repeat a couple of times.  Then I would call him and hold the treat on the other side of the flap until he pushed his nose through and came on through the flap.  But Sparky won’t even come near the door if the door isn’t open.  You can hold the flap open and he won’t even look to the dog door…. he keeps looking up to where your face should be.

You can’t use the backup method of shoving him through the door.  With most dogs, you can lead them to the door and at least teach them how to go out even if they can’t figure out how to get back in.  I have done this by getting the dog to the doggy door and lifting the flap, and then pushing the dog’s head to the door.  Once the dog sees light on the other side, I can push… gently… on their shoulders and they will dart out the door.

But you can’t man handle Sparky.  He is really sensitive about being picked up, turned over, or pushed.  If you try to handle him, he bites.  And this is why he is hard to get adopted out.  Anyone with small children are kind of out of the picture because you never know when a small child will lay on him or push him.  He gets really nasty if you do.  And if you do turn him upside down to dominate him, he cries like a stuck pig.  He just panics.

He will make someone a good pet though.  He loves being scrubbed on the back and the head.  And he is very low maintenance.  The labs that we have kept always want to be on you or with you all the time.  They shadow you.  But Sparky… just lays on the bed in the hall or on the bed in your office and does nothing.  He just lays there.  In fact, if you leave your office and go to bed, all of the other dogs will get up and follow you to bed…. but Sparky will just be perfectly content sleeping right where he was.  The only thing that gets him up is when he thinks it is time for food or he wants water.

As for the doggy door thing, he is a tanker.  He can hold it forever.  He has never had an accident even when I am working on a big project in the basement and forget to let him out periodically.  When he gets to the point that he really needs to go, he comes and finds you, and then nudges you on the hand until you follow him.  He will lead you to the door and as soon as you open it, he runs out.

So, Sparky is a dog.  He doesn’t require much maintenance.  He doesn’t require much attention.  He plays well with the other dogs.  He is pretty much a good dog… as long as you don’t try to physically handle him.  He is toy aggressive at first, but then after some scolding he stopped being toy aggressive.