My last post left off with my decision not to adopt a puppy. There was nothing wrong with the puppy, he was a nice little guy. He was just not the right match for the pack at home. Too active, too busy, and a little too confident, which is a concern with elderly tiny dogs in the house.
We were already at the shelter, and had driven an hour and a half to get to there, so I figured wandering around and checking out some of the other possibilities wouldn’t do any harm.
I had been looking at the shelter’s website off and on for several weeks, so I was sort of familiar with some of the other dogs and puppies. I took my time, and walked past all of the kennels a few times making little notes in my head with each pass. I finally settled on a litter of 3 puppies listed as medium (when full grown). The breed description said Australian Cattle Dog Mix.
I recognized two of the pups from the website because their coloring and markings stood out. One was white with orange speckling and a few large orange patches, the other white with black specking, and a few large black patches. The third puppy didn’t look like the other two at all. He was much smaller, scrawny, and brownish red, with just a little white speckling on his feet.
I was attracted to the looks of the orange speckled guy, but after watching them for a few minutes it became obvious that he was a bit too pushy. I love watching litter mates interact. It can give you valuable information about their personalities – bossy, confident, fearful, submissive, or just kind of middle of the road. The two bigger speckled puppies were clamoring at the front of the kennel wanting attention, shoving the little plain guy out of the way. He took it all in stride, wagging his tail and looking for an opening to come back up to the front between his much bigger brothers.
He was one of those dogs that’s easy to miss, because he was, well… kind of plain. I found a volunteer to help us and asked if we could spend some time with the little brown scrawny guy.
The volunteer brought him out, and set him in the visiting pen with us. He started checking everything out, just like the other puppy had, but his energy was completely different. MUCH calmer. He was more interested in engaging with us, and when I picked him up, he completely relaxed in my arms, uttered few puppy grunts, and snuggled into my chest. He did not struggle to get down or squirm. When I set him down on the floor and tossed a toy, he ran over and pounced on it, but lost interest in the toy when my friend Diane called him over to her. I asked her to pick him up, and sure enough he melted into her arms just like he’d done with me. BINGO!
In roughly the same amount of time it took to realize that the first puppy was not going to work out, I knew this guy was my new dog.
That’s how Ferris came into the pack, two weeks ago. When we got home I put him into a crate in the family room and let all of the other dogs out. They realized immediately there was someone new in the house, and all swarmed around the crate sniffing and peering in at the puppy. I should mention that I do new dog introductions quite differently. I wouldn’t suggest it to most people, but for some reason it works for me. It kind of evolved during all those years having foster dogs coming and going, and eventually became my preferred method.
I don’t do the typical on-leash, one dog at a time introductions. I have used that method on occasion, but only with bigger adult dogs. I’ve found it isn’t necessary with the little dogs, particularly when introducing a puppy. That’s part of the reason I make sure I pick a puppy or dog with good energy. That may sound a bit weird, but it’s the only way I can describe it. Ultimately I think my method works for me because I know my dogs, I trust my dogs, and they trust me. As long as I’ve got my handy-dandy spray bottle ready to remind anyone who may need to back off a bit with a little spray of water, I’m good to go.
Once everyone was together in the family room, I opened the crate. Often when this happens the new dog shrinks into the back of the crate completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of noses poking at them, and I have to remind the pack to give them some room. Not this time! Ferris happily bounded out smack into the middle of the pack and much to my surprise started greeting each dog. This was going even better than I hoped. He behaved perfectly – he was submissive to the other dogs without being fearful, and seemed really happy to be among other dogs. He fit in instantly. His calm, sweet energy was obvious to the rest of the dogs and they all accepted him right away. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. It’s only been a few weeks, but so far he has continued to be an all around great little guy in pretty much every way. He loves the other dogs, and he likes people too. Every time someone holds him, he does the melting thing, while beating them with his wagging tail.
So, don’t let looks fool you! This plain, brown, scrawny puppy turned out to be PURE gold!
Stay tuned for puppy updates. I am letting the pack raise Ferris, just like I did with Huck. So far they’re doing a stellar job.