Monday, June 15, 2009

Mad dog

The first time I meet Keenan, he is at the front of his kennel barking furiously, snarling, kangaroo hopping. I don't remember the last time I saw a dog act like this. Dogs have hard stared me through their kennel doors, they've low growled and bared their teeth. Some have moved forward and barked and snapped when I got too close but this one, it looks like it wants to break down the door with its ferocity. The hand written comment on the door says, "Barks a lot" to which I want to add, "and acts like he wants to kill you a lot".

I wish I had taken a video of all his carrying on because it's hard to fathom what happens next.

I stand there for a second, debating whether or not to pass on this guy. I've got no problem with passing on a dog for a walk. I don't do it very often, probably only 2 or 3 times that I can remember, but if a dog acts like it's going to try taking a bite out of me for whatever reason, I'll walk on. But, with Keenan, there had been no warnings from the staff. There had been no additional notes on the dogs-to-walk list other than "Keenan is a bit hyper."

As I stand there, something about Keenan changes, some little thing. He's still barking, still kangaroo hopping but now maybe the snarling has subsided. It's like his attitude has changed. I get a different feeling off him, not that I'd stick my fingers in his mouth exactly, but now it seems he's just wanting to get out, not so much wanting to get me.

So, I open the kennel door and let him out.

He runs right by me, to the room door, which is closed. He runs back to me. I put the leash on him, take him out and this is him 5 minutes later:

After his walk, I pass by one of the staffers and she asks me how it went. I tell her about what happened and she says that when he first came in, because of his apparently aggressive behaviour, they were treating him like a dangerous dog, moving him around with the catch pole, keeping him at a distance. But, she said, she saw something in him that made her think he wasn't so bad so she kind of did what I did and just took him out for a walk with a regular leash and it was fine. He was totally fine.

I bring Keenan back to his kennel and put him inside and shut the door. I stand there waiting for his cage aggression to reappear but it doesn't. He just sits there, waiting for me.

Two days later, when I go back to Toronto Animal Services, I have my camera ready. I walk into the room where his kennel is located and walk up to his door. This is what happens:

So much better. I'm amazed he has the discipline to sit for me even in his excitement. Not many of the dogs who have passed through TAS have been trained this well. I'm hoping that by the time Keenan makes it into adoption, his unruly kennel behaviour will be totally gone. He's a good dog and it would be a shame if he doesn't get adopted just because his bark is so much worse than his bite.

Continued here.


Ian said...

Does that fella ever have expressive eyes.He`s looking for a best buddy and by the way he`s looking at you,he thinks he`s found that person.
What a smart looking dog.

CyborgSuzy said...

I've only been volunteering at a shelter for a year, and I've already lost count of the numbers of dogs like this (perhaps less extreme); Crazy, hysterical barking, jumping, twirling, and then the second they're out, like perfect angels on leash. There are no note cards on the kennels themselves, but I'm always telling skeptical visitors that the really loud lab in kennel four is really nice and calm, I promise!

Fred said...

CyborgSuzy, Keenan was actually displaying more than just the usual I-want-to-go-out excitement (which is why I really wish I had video'd him that first time) and now that I've had him on a few walks, I notice he does have some mild issues with strangers approaching him.

Still, it only takes about 10 seconds for him to trust someone and offer his belly up and with more exposure to the outside world and different people, I'm hoping that'll get even better.

monica said...

What a sweetheart!

onequarterdal said...

I should steal that video and market it.

You know how folks say things like "you throw like a girl". Well you pat "like a guy". Dogs LOVE the guy pat. If I do the "guy pat" they follow me around the house for a day.

Mad dog, he's like in heaven. He just wants to be someone's bud.

GoodDog said...

OMG What a cutie. Such great markings!

Anonymous said...

Now, that is a video of a seriously blissed out dog! Clearly, he is just waiting to become someone's adoring companion.

joe said...

Well, when I placed him in my van (to get his nuts cut off) he was fine, but man is he full of energy. Trust me, the neutering did not slow him down. Full of piss and vinegar. What a great dog. He's going to make someone very happy.