Archive | December 2011

And Then There Was Black Bart…

Note: Do not be alarmed, the dog and I survived.

Sunday, December 4: Our adorable Ian was adopted. We were so sad to see him go, but knew it was for the best that he go to a forever family before our we headed home for the holidays. While part of us wishes we had kept him, another part of us knows that it was the right thing to let him go. That night, as we drowned our sorrows at our favorite gastro-pub The Queen Vic, we were telling a friend how we wouldn’t be getting another foster until the new year.

Monday, December 5: We received an email from Lab Rescue saying three black labs needed a home until the next adoption day on Sunday, December 11. We caved and offered to take one IF someone would be able to deliver him to us and take him to the adoption day event as we already had Sunday plans. It was confirmed that we would be the proud new foster parents of Bart. Black Bart.*

Tuesday, December 6: Bart was being delivered mid-day. The woman driving him came to the door and asked if I would help her get him from the car. That should have been a sign. I asked the client I was currently meeting with if he wouldn’t mind holding on while I brought in the dog and headed out to the car. Based on the thumping noise of his tail and the pawing at the crate, I could see he was a fiesty guy and he couldn’t wait to get out. The transporter opened the door just enough so I could stick my hand in and hook the leash on his collar. Once he was “secure,” she opened the door and Bart burst forth like a race horse. In a flash I was running down the street as fast as I could trying to keep hold of the leash and screaming “Stop! Bart, stop!! You have to stop!” Surely the neighbors all think I am completely insane now. Right about the time I started to think “I don’t know how much longer I can run like this,” Bart gave an extra tug and the leash was out of my hand. At this point my screaming intensified since he still showed no signs of stopping and was about to run into traffic on a relatively busy street.

Thankfully he made it safely across the street and was ready to stop for a bathroom break, which allowed me to catch up with him. I grabbed his leash and he promptly moved and pulled me over flat on my face. Around this time the other woman caught up with us and between the two of us we were able to take him to our house by holding his collar and lifting Bart at every step. Bart was only supposed to weigh 53 pounds, but that boy could make himself really hard to move.

I could tell this probably wasn’t going to be my best day…

We finally got inside. My client was still there and surely had heard me running around screaming. I certainly looked frazzled and Bart was all over the place — jumping up and putting his paws on the counters, pulling things down, and causing all around mischief. Thankfully my meeting didn’t last too much longer. I called my husband to tell him about what we had gotten ourselves into, but he was in training so there was no answer. I left a mildly annoyed message.

The next few hours were rough. I left my husband increasingly agitated messages as the dog proceeded to try and pull me down the stairs, pee on our living room rug (three times), knock me over, not want to go out (and then not want to go in), destroy his blanket, destroy his pillow… By the time my hubby made it home I was exhausted. I put him on doggy-duty and went upstairs to decompress. How was I going to make it through three more days like this? Just me and the dog — a battle of wills.

Wednesday, December 7: My husband and I decided that I would need to keep Bart in his crate during the day or I’d never get anything done. I felt really badly about being home, but only letting him out and playing with him for a bit every few hours. However each time I let him out, it became increasingly more difficult to get him back in his crate. By the end of the week I’d say Bart and I were seriously having a wrestling match which required me to keep his head down, but lift him up because he’d put the breaks on outside of the crate and wasn’t about to go in there willingly. Once I manged to get him in there it was a test to see who could be faster — Bart sneaking back out and me slamming the crate door. Bart won more often than not and the battle would begin again. I’m sure he thought it was great fun.

It did help that after Tuesday’s madness, my husband was able to take Bart on long walks and run him in the park in the mornings and evenings. Although it still didn’t really seem to make Bart tired (i.e., still no lying down), he was much better behaved as crazy dogs go.

Bart pees in the house two times (basement carpet), which is at least an improvement over peeing three times. We decided that this was because he was either anxious or excited.  Sadly, Bart was always either anxious or excited.

Thursday, December 8: We still didn’t really trust him to be anywhere on his own, which was draining since he NEVER stopped moving. I’ve never met a dog who almost never laid down. It was bizarre. He also didn’t really care to be near people. If you were in a room, he goes to another and gets into trouble. He must have doggy ADD. I’ll have a treat in my hand, let him smell it and instead of listening to me, he walks away to sniff a shoe.

Due to a lapse in judgement, we decide to have friends over for dinner. As usual, my husband is preparing said dinner while I’m at jazzercise. He thinks Bart is playing with his rope toy. Interestingly, my tennis shoe hitting the floor apparently sound nearly identical to a rope toy hitting the floor. After incessantly nosing our friends in the crotch and nipping at their calves, Bart decides to put his paws on the table. Bart pees in the house one time (hall rug). Bart goes in his crate for the remainder of dinner.

Friday, December 9: Despite long walks interspersed with running and playing in the backyard, Bart becomes more obstinate about going in his crate. He won’t do it after walks. He won’t do it after playing in the yard. He won’t do it for treats.

One of Bart’s favorite past times was to steal things off the stair well. We’d put up two chairs to he couldn’t go up without us, but that just seemed to make him more interested. He’d crouch under the stairs and try to squeeze up far enough to grab something. It could be a shoe or a newspaper or a piece of mail or a headlamp or his leash or a reusable bag or a coaster. It didn’t really matter.

Saturday, December 10: The prior week, we’d tried to see what Bart would do, but he’s not terribly obedient. He’d only sit if you pushed his rump. He wouldn’t lay down. He certainly didn’t respond to “Stop” or “No.” Treats just seemed to have no effect on him.

But apparently he’d do anything for a Cheerio. My husband was having breakfast while I was out with my sister-in-law and Bart was incredibly interested in his Cheerios. For a single Cheerio, Bart started to respond. He progressed from sitting by force to sitting with only voice commands. He’d lay down with a little encouragement. He’d respond to his name. He’d come (and sit). He’d fetch. It was amazing. He was still hyper active and ADD, but at least we could get his attention and a glimpse of a light at the end of the tunnel.

The fetching was the most impressive. Unfortunately it only lasted one session in the morning. After that, Bart was done with bringing the ball back. He’d chase it, grab it, immediately drop it and come looking for a treat. He somehow missed the point about bringing the ball back so it would be thrown again. He also got frustrated because all of a sudden he wasn’t getting the treats. Still, the improvements in other obedience was a breakthrough.

Sunday, December 11: We got up bright and early to take Bart to his transporter for the adoption day event. My husband walked him to get out a bit of energy and let him go to the bathroom. He was shockingly good in the car which we were happy about—granted my husband was sitting with him in the back seat and had a tight hold on the leash. The woman we met took him for a run and then out to the adoption event. We warned her about how interested in squirrels Bart was so she could prepared for any squirrel sightings that might happen along the run. Afterward she thanked us for the warning, noting it appeared Bart thought all squirrels were terrorists that needed to be hunted down one at a time until none remain.

During the day, we were hoping that Bart would be on his best behavior so that someone would take him home. While he was a definite handful, we’re pretty sure that is because of how much time he spent in a kennel before coming to us combined with being a puppy and having serious doggy ADD. With the right owners who could give him the attention and training he needed we knew he’d be a sweetie pie in the end.

That evening we were thrilled to hear that Black Bart was adopted by a couple who already owned a crazy black lab who made Bart look tame. We saw a photo from the event and it was hard to tell the two labs apart. Bart’s white toe gave him away and we were happy to see that his tail was wagging so fast it was just a blur in the photo. Hopefully these two wild boys will help tire each other out and it’s great that the new owners know what to do with hyperactive pups!

* Black Bart: I kept wondering why this crazy dog’s name was Black Bart. I mean, Ian wasn’t named “Yellow Ian.” What was with the descriptive nature of naming him? Then I was informed that Black Bart was an outlaw from the Wild West, an English-born gentleman bandit notorious for his stagecoach robberies in Northern California and Southern Oregon during the mid-to-late 1800s. Could our wild little friend have had a more appropriate name? I think not.