Thursday, December 24, 2009
Home for Christmas. One bust dog's little miracle.
Chapter One: This is the Story of Ernie, now known as Monkey. He was one of the 500 or so dogs swept up in the same seven state dog fighting raid that's been filling blogs with excitable chatter since July. He's home for good this Christmas, and I wanted to tell you why that is such a miracle....
We were fated to meet Ernie at an Iowa shelter (Animal Rescue League) during one of our visits to the midwest this past summer. Our job was to evaluate him and his kin of canine victims, file our recommendations and then, court-willing, sort the dogs out for whatever responsible rescue placements we could find.
Every dog has a different set of needs, of course. No such thing as a one size fits all bust dog. Some are shy but resilient like Frodo, so need very patient homes. Some are confident like our Vessa and need dog savvy leaders. And some, like Linda's agility contender Audie, have uber-energy that will need to be channeled for the rest of their lives. What kind of dog was Ernie?
He exploded out of his kennel in such a hurry that we needed rodeo-star lasso moves to snag him with our slip-lead. He was wired for sound throughout most of his out-time, he practically flew through the air at a toy (including a copper pipe - yum!), he tried rearing up and spitting fire at a dog, and generally did what he could to wriggle right out of his skin in hot pursuit of a good Par-tay.
What fun! - What work! We loved him. He is a performance style staffordshire bull terrier (SBT), meaning, he's a little working dog - smart as all get-up, with drive to spare. Awesome fun and incredibly trainable, but oy-vey, what a handful to most dog homes. With so many dogs in need, this little stinker was going to need a good dose of Santa's magic.
Right: Lara Peterson from A Rotta Love Plus wrangles the wild man during evals.
Below is one of Ernie's 'screen tests' during our get-to-know-you eval in Iowa. Yee Haw! This clip captures the moment we all fell in love.
We knew we better get busy with searching out a spot for the irrepressible Ernie even before the courts made their ruling. Not easy - explosive little brat-dogs aren't exactly an easy sell, and most rescues had already committed themselves.
Thank dog for internet friendships - our last shred of hope came from a staffy bull owning friend who'd been watching with sadness as more and more SBTs were finding their way into the hands of the bad guys (several of Vick's dogs were SBTs as well as TugTug from the Kay County OK bust).
Kristi Johnson (right) was dialed into the SBT world through her own two gorgeous show staffys, but a call for help to her circles bounced back with dead silence. Damn. Letting this little monkey dog go seemed painfully impossible.
Just when we were getting worried, Kristi wrote to say that a talented dog trainer had shown some interest in the funny little bust dog. She liked fast dogs and wanted to see his evaluation videos and learn why the pit bull people were making such a big fuss about him. (Don't you just love how the Internet is making these kinds of connections common place?) Ernie's videos hurled thru cyberspace and not long after, along came the words "I'll take him." We did the happy dance all over the house, then anxiously waited for news of their first date. (In case you missed it, this video shows Ernie with Kristi on jail break day!)
Chapter Two: Lynn Silvis, Ernie-now-Monkey's new person, explains how things looked from her end....
Once I opened it, I knew my resolve was sunk. I went from saying "I do not need a third dog" to, "Why am I thinking about a third dog?" ... to, "I want this dog!" in a few short days.
The more I learned about this little dude, the more I knew he was right for my pack. Bit by bit I received videos of his temperament testing and was very impressed. I was falling in love.
He was like a little monkey and the name stuck -- "Monkey," silly yet somehow fitting. We spent weeks working this through and now goes into to his kennel on command and while he doesn't exact love it, he will settle down quickly. He obviously had never lived in a house and his explorations were a joy to watch. He nose bumped everything and behaved like a pup -- everything a chew toy! The first week he spent on leash to make sure he was successful with all the rules of indoor living and with my two canine girls. We went slow since we had nothing but time and I wanted him to be adored by girls as much as I adored him.
Unfortunately, his vet check gave us bad news. He tested positive for heartworm. Luckily, the vet felt it was an early infection, so he would not likely have any lasting problems. My vet was incredibly wonderful and discounted Monkeys treatment by more than half price! The next 8 weeks were a challenge! Trying to convince the busy boy that he needed to be calm was a constant struggle. We spent the weeks learning house manners and basic obedience skills. He loves learning! The more I challenge him, the more he amazes me!
He came though treatment early December with no lasting effects of the infection and was given the go ahead to be a normal dog! Our first night off restriction we spent at one of our training facilities playing unbridled with his girls! I've never seem such a big staffy smile!
I want to thank all those who help my little Monkey along his journey and helped him find his way to our family. My life is incredibly richer with him here and I already can't imagine life without him! We all love him so much!
Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!" - Lynn Silvis
Are ya kidding, Lynn? Thank you for sticking your neck out for a goofy little bust dog. Huge thanks also to Kristi for responding when we screamed for help. We just know that Monkey is going to make everybody proud, and we look forward to hearing about your happy adventures together for many years to come.
Merry Christmas to the Miracle Monkey!