Chase was my first foster. I saw him and Sylvie in the pound and decided to see if Dog Rescue would take me on as a fosterer. They did and a few days later Steph turned up at my place with this quiet, skinny, not-as-little-as-he-had- looked-in-the-pound-photo, staffy cross. Ribs, hipbones, and vertabrae all painfully visible this was one very under-nourished dog whose coat and skin were not in very good condition either, probably due to malnutrition. He was a bit stand-offish at first, until I let my oldest dog out on a lead to meet him. They sniffed each other interestedly so I let her off the lead and Steph let Chase off. No problems so I let out two more dogs, one more terrier and one boisterous lab cross puppy of 5 months. And they were off – wow a new friend to play with! The puppy in particular immediately took a liking to Chase who was closer to his size than the terriers – someone big enough to play with properly. To my surprise Chase put up with the pup’s antics beautifully – and it was probably at that point that I got an inkling that I was doomed! Eventually Steph left for her car and I started to go inside at which point Chase simply followed me in without a backward glance. And I’m afraid that was it, I knew I had failed my first foster! This dog was here to stay.
Chase came out of the pound weighing 21 kilos, underweight for his size. After 6 weeks his weight is a healthy-for-his-size 27 kilos. Now when you pet him you don’t feel his bones. At the 2 week mark he started to wag his tail and to initiate play with the other dogs. A week after that he was licking hands and faces and learning what dogs are supposed to do with balls, although he usually fetches the ball and takes it to his bed rather than give it to me to throw again. He is a puzzle. He was beautifully socialised with both dogs and humans when he got here and it looked as if someone had spent at least a bit of time teaching him the basic commands. He knew how to sit and he quickly learned ‘stay’ from watching my other dogs. He is still a bit reluctant to lie down but will lie down when I gently tap his front leg to remind him what the word ‘down’ means. After about 2 weeks he came fairly reliably to his new name. The only time he has failed to come so far was during a walk on the beach when he got spooked by water touching his tummy (he was standing in a deep puddle). He took off home despite my calls but came back to me pretty quickly when he obviously worked out that I couldn’t be on the beach and at home at the same time. He does not chew things (except bones, he LOVES bones), he is completely house trained (he was before he came to me) and frankly I cannot work out how he ended up in the pound unclaimed and malnourished. The only problem he seems to have is that he is not wonderful with cats. It appears that they interest him, he would like them to play with him, but he has no idea how to act around cats to encourage them to relax around him. In short he behaves like my pup behaved around the cats when he was younger – all boisterous and mouthy – but the pup was smaller than the cats then and the cats taught him the dog-cat rules pretty fast. It is much harder for a 5 kilo cat to teach a 27 kilo, 15 month pup how to behave. So, Chases’s relationship with the cats in the family is a work-in-progress but he is improving slowly.
He is a lovely dog, smart, mellow, inquisitive, well mannered, and affectionate – he loves being a house dog and he considers himself a lapdog as well, much to the disgust of the 2 small terriers who consider laps to be their private property. There is a photo that quite often gets posted on animal rescue sites on the web. It says something to the effect that rescuing a dog does not change the world, but for that dog you rescued, his/her world has been changed forever. My thanks go out to all the rescue organizations in NZ that do their very best to ensure that as many as possible abandoned dogs, cats, and other animals, have their worlds changed for the better, forever.