Monday, 20 February 2012

My dog's day out

This photo is reasonably indicative of the time Tootsie and I spent together

This past weekend, as part of the run-up to Brandon and I actually achieving dogdom, I decided I would volunteer at an animal rescue group's adoption fair.  I wanted to do this partly to help out the organization and partly to further my own selfish needs: I want there to be no drama when we decide we can have a dog, because they will already know me.

So, I read the instructions, and was there early as requested.  Because I was the first one there, I want immediately assigned the dog being fostered by one of the PetSmart trainers - a cutie by the name of Tootsie.  Tootsie is a 15ish lb Chihuahua mix, but mixed with something interesting because she had some awesome ears.

She was a real sweetie with some major issues.  First and foremost, she had clearly bonded with her foster, and had no interest in any of the other people who gave her affection for more than a fleeting moment.  There were people there who would have taken her home if she had just given them a little more attention.

Her other issue was only that she needed more training. She was agile and energetic, and would have been awesome for any person with a background in training. She was smart and highly motivated by food, and already had some tricks under her belt. Any time she was allowed near her foster, Tootsie greeted her by running up and literally achieving a 5ft vertical, jumping up to around this woman's shoulder.

That being said, I have a sore arm today and a bloody finger from where the leash was wrapping around every time she pulled...which was constantly. For four hours. Despite my running her around the back of the store, to try and get a little energy out so she could be calm enough to walk a little nicer on the leash.

In the few moments where she was not pulling looking for her foster, Tootsie made it clear she had no real affection for me, but was willing to suffer my scratching her ears. I felt so helpless that I was not able to distract her enough, able to train her in the right way to get her interested in other people, to help her get adopted.  And I wonder if she ever will find another family, given that in her mind she already has a home.  She's just trying to get back to it.


  1. aww that is so sad. I had a similar issue with the dog I was handling last time I helped out at an adoption event. every time he saw his foster mom (who I think boards a lot of the dogs), he would pull like crazy to get to her and then he would stand up and give her a great big hug, which she encouraged with lots of ear scratching and hugs and whatnot.. I wish she wouldn't allow her fosters to jump on her like that, it seemed to freak out a lot of the people there looking to adopt..

    also, when I first saw this post I thought you had adopted a dog already! sneaky.

    1. I know! The trainer was doing her best I am sure to train the dog, but I think when the dog jumps to the point of reaching your shoulder, standing there and looking at it but not petting it maybe isn't going far enough? It doesn't seem like enough of an ignore for me - it was clearly not having a big effect on the dog, maybe she should have turned and walked away also? I mean, I am not a dog trainer, so what do I know?

      I do intend to try and do another one after the move is over, but it was reasonably depressing. I came home afterwards and was kinda sad for a while. I'm going to try and get B to come with me when we get closer to being able to adopt.

    2. yes, depressing. did your dogs get to the event in a van? at the end of the event I had to stand there and watch a bunch of the sweet babies getting crammed into crates and shoved around inside the van to make them all fit.. absolutely horrifying. I'm sure it's necessary to get the dogs to these events, I don't know a more humane way to do it, but. man. I wanted that to not happen.