Teddy Kennedy Update and a Note on Adopting Shelter Dogs

Long night, but the good news is if Teddy wants out, he makes sure I know it. Yesterday he became my dog for real. I took him back to the shelter for his second worming and to sign the adoption contract. Anyone showing up to claim him now has no claim. I also realized that on his vet records he will be “Teddy Kennedy” which cracked me up. Then the whole “family” went for a “walk” together. I’d describe it, but it would only make sense in “dog” I think. It made no sense in human.

Teddy is a busy happy little guy.

Most of my dogs have been females. Male dogs are a different animal in many ways. I’ve usually had ONE male, and he’s had a “harem.” Dusty lucked out with the harem — three beautiful Siberian husky girls who adored him.

Then, for a while, Dusty’s life wasn’t great because Cody O’Dog didn’t think there should be two male dogs at “his” house, and I had to keep them apart. It got to be a normal thing to be sure they were never in the same room together, or went in or out of the dog run or backdoor at the same time so there was no scuffle for dominance. No one got seriously hurt, but it couldn’t have been fun for Dusty who usually (because he’s a pacifist) got the worst of it. Cody only lived with us a short time which, maybe from Dusty’s perspective, was a lucky break.

Of all my dogs — more than 20 — only Lupo, Dusty and Cody have been/are male. And now, Teddy. Female dogs are easier to house train and generally easier going, BUT if a couple of female dogs get into it it’s not necessarily a short-lived dispute over who “owns” this moment. It can get serious.

So far Teddy is fitting in as well as he can given his nature. He loves learning, is smart like no dog I’ve ever had. This morning I let them out to play and when Teddy thought I should get up, he came to my door and barked. I got up and he was sticking his little paws under the door trying to reach me. Everything with a puppy is training and my good fortune is that he likes it.

As I spend time with him I get more of a sense of what he’s been through. I think he was running loose for a while before whoever tied him up tied him up. He seems to have some scrounging habits. Many of the dogs I’ve had spent some time at a dog shelter.

Any dog from a shelter has a “past.” Sometimes the past was a loving home and a person they loved who died. Sometimes they, like Dusty, suffered something horrible. A lot of dogs are in shelters because people bought cute puppies and didn’t know what to do with them once they got them home; maybe they were surprised they couldn’t take the Siberian husky pup back to the store and exchange it for a goldfish. Sometimes, like Mindy, the dogs in the shelter were ignored and neglected by their humans. Sometimes like Bailey, my friend’s golden retriever, they were used as a breeding animal for a backyard breeder and tied on a short chain or kept in a cage. Some dogs come into shelters from situations even worse than these.

I read an article yesterday about a new “fad” of people going to shelters and asking for the dog who had the “worst past.” I don’t think those people get “dog” nature, though they are moved by lovely compassionate instincts.

Still, that’s an absurd rationale for adopting a dog from a shelter. No dog — not even the one with the “best” past — is in a shelter for fun. In a way, it’s the dog with the best past who should be promptly adopted before shelter life disillusions them, breaks their spirit and leads them to despair — which can happen which is why the shelter where I got Bear and then Teddy was so eager to find homes for those two beautiful, gentle souls.

The point of adopting a dog is to give it a home for the rest of its life. Those people with the beautiful big hearts should learn about the traits in various dog breeds so they have some idea of what to expect, and then search for a dog who will fit in their homes FOREVER.

I know that’s not always easy.

I’ve hired professional trainers to help me teach some of my dogs — including Dusty — to live in the world of people. It’s expensive, but a good idea. I never would have tried it if Jasmine and Lily, two Siberian huskies I adopted from a loving home that was falling apart, hadn’t come to me professionally trained. With them, I saw what that kind of training can do to help a dog from a breed that’s very independent and training resistant, as huskies are. Dusty came to me completely unsocialized and terrified of everything and, therefore, aggressive. I wasn’t living where I could help him with that, so he went to live-in training for six weeks while I rehabbed from my first hip surgery.

When I adopted Cheyenne, a completely untrained Siberian husky, she went to live with my trainer for a month. The trainer tried everything to teach Cheyenne, but finally the only thing that got through to her was a zap collar. In one day, Cheyenne got sit, stay, heel, down and learned one or two tricks. She returned thinking the zap collar (which I never turned on) made her special. It was the promise of treats, walks and attention. She loved it. If I came out the front door with it in my hand, she began dancing around knowing good stuff was happening. The trick is finding a good trainer who honestly loves dogs.

Yesterday, in the car, I discovered Teddy likes music — even my singing. Later on I tried dancing with him and I think we can do something like this — not as good because 1) he’s only an Aussie, not a border collie, and 2) I’m not as mobile as this cowboy. But we’re going to try.


31 thoughts on “Teddy Kennedy Update and a Note on Adopting Shelter Dogs

  1. Teddy is lucky to have found you. I think he chose the best owner. 🙂

    • Teddy is what Bear needed. I’m pretty tired from the whole thing — it’s like having a house guest at first until the dog gets used to everything it’s constant training. Thank you for thinking I’m reinvigorated. Ha ha fooled you! 😉

  2. Awww Teddy looks like a complete sweetie. It is great that you found each other. ❤

  3. I laughed at “Teddy Kennedy” too. Your remarks about choosing a shelter dog are very wise. Compassion for a broken dog is wonderful but if the dog doesn’t fit the families needs it will end unhappily for humans and dog.

    • Thank you. I personally think the best thing is to adopt a dog before it has a chance to be broken, but that’s not always possible. I spent a lot of time at our local shelter these past couple of days and one dog watched me hopefully and when I turned it went to the other side of its kennel and lay down. That’s a dog for a person. Not the prettiest or the most “need” but a dog that is looking for a person to love. I hate the shelter because I cannot have all the dogs.

  4. When he thought you needed to wake up…Teddy, you are adorable. Don’t let the human sleep too late. Teddy Kennedy…..sweet. I cannot wait for the stories about this new one, Martha. So happy everything is signed and he is definitely yours.

  5. I certainly get that, Martha. A FOREVER home is just that! FOREVER! until death do you part. By the way, what is your wrist size? Need to know! You can measure your wrist if you like it semi loose or no movement, and bend your thumb into your palm and measure across about an inch below your actual wrist if you like it really loose. 🙂

    • Teddy is an Australian shepherd. They are among the smartest breeds, too. He’s very smart and has an Aussie’s way of solving problems. 🙂

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