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Oct. 30th, 2011

When you get a rescue pup--especially one that was abandoned, neglected, or abused--you're never sure what you're getting.  You can look for certain behavioral clues, but those can just as often be misread as understood.  In the end, you take a faith-leap and expect to invest time and love in your new companion.

Gambit II came to us in late July, via a rescue foster family we know through 4H.  His known history began in April, when he was found injured and starving on the side of a county road.  The vet didn't think he'd been hit by a car, but rather thrown from one.  He didn't make a sound when approached, didn't try to get away, didn't try to get closer.  Totally passive--rather unusual for a puppy of about five or six months.  He recovered from injuries, and did well with the people and other pups at his foster home.  But he was always the quiet one, the one who watched, but didn't join in.  No one called the rescue organization to adopt him. 

That's partly due to the fact he looks lousy in most pictures--more hyena than dog--and partly due to the fact he always looked so...pathetic.  He is (we believe) part boxer and part plott hound--a really weird combo, especially when you toss in the brindle coat.  That's his face in the pic.  Once Dev and I met him, we fell madly in love with the pup.

From the way Gambit reacts to certain things, we wonder what must have happened in his past.  He shakes uncontrollably if shut up in a room by himself, but he's fine if Ty Handsome is with him, and he took to crating with ease.  (I've never crated a dog, but we were desperate.)  Gambit will duck and cower if something passes above his head--even if it's three feet above him.  He rarely barks, rarely whines.  I can hand-feed him and he will be gentle, and I can even pull food from his mouth without him objecting at all, but if he's competing for food with other dogs, he wil shove them out of the way and bolt down as much as he can.

Slowly, slowly, those behaviors are becoming less pronounced.  He doesn't jump at every little noise.  He initiates play more often.  He's learning his manners.  And he wants to cuddle.  All the time.  If he isn't eating or actively playing with Ty, he is trying to curl up with Dev or I.  Or he paws our legs in an effort to make us sit so he can cuddle.  Best of all, his tail has begun to wag more and more often since I've returned from VP.  It's as if he realized we really did come back for him, and this really is home, and it's really okay to be happy.

And he just jumped up next to me and poked his nose under my arm.


Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
sartorias
Oct. 30th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
A lot of these behaviors sound like our little guy, who is thirteen pounds now, but was barely three when my daughter found him--skin and bones, shivering violently if any male came into the room. Submitted if anyone even looked at him.
blairmacg
Oct. 30th, 2011 11:35 pm (UTC)
Yup. Pups want so much to be loved, and want so much to trust the ones they love.

What's funny, though, is Gambit's reaction when someone sneezes. He doesn't run away. Instead, he comes running from wherever he is in the house and tries to get his nose as close to the sneezer's face as he can. His pup-thoughts seem to be, "Omigod! Are you okay? Are you, are you are you? Please let me make sure you're okay!" Once he sniffs the sneezer, he calms down. What that's all about, I cannot guess.
sartorias
Oct. 31st, 2011 03:12 am (UTC)
Sneezes make ours anxious--any loud sudden noise does.
madmoravian
Oct. 31st, 2011 12:23 pm (UTC)
We drove down to a shelter in Kingsville, Tx to adopt a cat and ended up coming home with a dog and a cat.

Tank, the dog, had a number of issues that he is still working through 4 years later. Initially, if I coughed, he would leave the room. Now, he looks at me to see if I'm going to cough anymore. If I do, he's gone.

We guess his first owner who abused him, was a smoker.

If he's sleeping on the bed and I come into the room, he will leave for his "dog cave". Once everyone's settled, he will come in hop on the bed and go back to sleep.

He would also run away if I had a belt in my hand in his presence.

We did have a first time occurrence this weekend. Jack, our other dog, likes to lick my face. I was relaxing on the bed, letting Jack do his thing and Tank came over, stood on me, and watched. It was the closest he's come to participating in this ritual so far.

Jack was also a rescue: found on the side of the road. But, he had no signs of abuse that we could detect.
blairmacg
Oct. 31st, 2011 01:22 pm (UTC)
Tank is lucky to have a good home now. :-)

Gambit doesn't lick much at all, either. He pushes his head against us instead.

It helps that Ty is so good-natured. Even when Gambit is at his most puppy-annoying, he will simply walk--calm and slow--into the bathroom. Gambit won't cross the threshold because the floor looks different.
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