The family was gathered around a roast beef about to eat, but our trusty shep/husky mix dog kept barking, “woof, woof, woof, woof, woof ,woof”, not too intense, but persistent. It was not her usual “Horse going by” or other ordinary event bark, so the hubby went outside to see what was going on.
There appeared to be another drop off out there; some kind of dog. Oh, yuck it’s some kind of pitty-type, oh, shit. We hate this. We usually just call the pound to come out and set up bait in a cage for the skulking, unfriendly dropoffs, but this one came to our youngest, but adult, daughter and he stood looking up at her, tail wagging. She bent to pet him and soon discovered he was covered with cactus quills . They were the tiny nasty kind from prickly pear pads- you need tweezers to grab them, they are so small.
But, she being a med student type, brought him in to start picking out quills. He had no collar, but he followed her in. Now, inside, were some barkety little dogs- an odd assortment of 3, the 10 pound Ruthie, a Mexican hairless, a 6 pound fuzzball of indeterminate ancestry named Bonbon, and a 3.5 pound mini Crestie- looking named Dolly, all exploded into their loudest racket about things being different than normal- always an occasion to get barkety and jump up and down.
The Barkety Doggies
We are rushing around to collect them and protect them from this strange spine-covered critter in our midst. But he just stands there and ignores them, raptly gazing into Zoe’s eyes as she gets ready to start picking out quills. Dang he’s ugly. A brindle with a bit of white on the nose. A short squat guy maybe 18 inches and 50 pounds. Laid back ears. A pity, he is some kind of pitty. We call the pound and he is dead. Oh crap, he has his balls…..
Further inspection reveals he is filthy and has open wounds and at least 3 abscesses, one in an ear, one between the toes and one on his left cheek. Zoe decided to give him a bath, first. She puts him in the tub and turns on the water. He just stands there and lets him do whatever she wants. Ears, feet, tail, she lets him handle them all, tail still wagging. Zoe and I are beginning to be impressed by his temperament. But he does not seem to understand a word of English. Nor Spanish.
After the bath, she slathered him in coconut oil from head to toe and he eagerly licked her hands so she fed him some, too. Then she started picking out big wads of hair and dead skin the bath and oil had loosened. She found many patches of the tiny stickers from head to toe. We concluded he had been thrown into the prickly pear patch, because most dogs back off after the first few stickers, they don’t roll in it as this dog seemed to have done.
the tiny stickers
She brought him out of the bathroom and the other dogs all started barking again. He looked at them, but sat by Zoe’s leg. Then she puts him on the couch and starts working on the tiny stickers. The other dogs give up barking and watch.
We discover three parallel scars on one front leg, as though he had been wrapped in wire so tight it cut him. He has scars on the inside of his thighs and tummy. Zoe sees the abscess on the inside of his ear begin to open and there is a cactus spine in it. The same with the one between the toes. The one on his face is resistant. He does not even cringe, but lets her get down with those tweezers and pick, dozens- maybe a hundred tiny spines. Wow. He pricks his ears at something and they are fully erect ears!!! They had been laid back before, so I had assumed they were those crumpled or folded ears. This was really counter to a typical pitty.
He eats some dog food, but with no collar and no language skills, maneuvering him was a physical thing. The other dogs are totally ignoring him now- not even growling. That is remarkable for them. Zoe points out that he actually has a relaxing effect because he is so calm, himself. She calls him “Pi”.
Xmas Eve. It will be days before the pound is open, so we are stuck with him. We open the door to let him leave, but he went outside, peed and came back. We then showed him the dog door, but he obviously does not understand a word we say in either English or Spanish, so we try to shove his fat butt through the door, but he is clueless. Then Cary, our big dog, pushes by us and goes through the door. He follows her.
Zoe made a bed for him next to hers that night.
All day Xmas we check out this dog. We put a collar and leash on him, but he was clueless and pulled back. But in about 3 minutes, he was trotting by Zoe’s side. The same with the “Sit”. He looked clueless, but learned it quickly. Once he sat, he didn’t try to get up. He did a kind of a natural “stay” and just sat there even after we walked away. Strange dog.
Cary started showing him around. He copied everything she did. She picks up a plastic bottle and bites and shakes it, so does he. She picks
up a stick and runs around the side yard with it, he follows her and grabs onto one end of the stick and runs with her. I throw her ball, he follows as she runs to get it. He tries to get it, but is not pushy when she wins.
He ignores the little yappers as they chase the big dogs around. One by one, Cary shows Pi each of her toys and they have a go-round with it. They tore an arm off Greenie, Cary’s monkey toy, pulling on it together.
I go for on a walk outside the two enclosed yards around our field-fenced 3 acres. No leashes. He follows Cary and she shows him all her places to flush out birds or chase lizards. Part way through the walk, he abandons Cary and starts following me quietly just behind my right side. He stays there by choice- something only Ruthie voluntarily does on occasion.
By now, we don’t want to send this dog to his death at the pound, yet keeping him would mean immediate neutering, all his shots and he kind of favors one hip which sounds like a lot of money for a pitty type dog… I decide to call the no kill shelter where we got Cary the day after Xmas. Well, they weren’t there that day, so we had one more day getting to know this dog. Zoe wasn’t there that day, but she really wants him to be her dog. He was easy to teach to “Come”- he came running as soon as he hears my voice. I do it several more times with slices of hot dog.
With or without hotdog, he wants to come. I am looking at him………Hmmm, from the ears back, he looks like a Bull Terrier. From the ears forwards he looks like a mutt. His head is not like a pit bull not like a bull terrier, it is a blocky mutt head with a stop. Not very wedgy or broad, compared to the pitbull head. He is young. His teeth are very clean; he has perfect teeth with a level bite. He lets me open his mouth and look at all his teeth like he was a show dog. He takes treats very gently.
The pack at play
What a strange little guy. He seems to have been treated poorly, judging from the wounds and scars, though he is well nourished and the coconut oil made his coat gleam. Why all the scars? Why no training whatsoever? Why does he learn so fast? He has slavishly copied Cary and seems to have learned all the rules from her. She obviously likes him and they play endlessly, yet politely. No way can we send this guy to the pound. In fact, I am not sure we should take him away from Cary, or Zoe. Sheesh. Just what I wanted- a brindle pitty-looking dog. He has joined the pack. The little brats don’t mind him. If one of them growls as he approaches, he turns away. What could be better behavior for some ugly stray mutt?
What do you think we should do?