I may have reveled a little too much on New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t until 8am that I was crawling into bed. The problem with late nights with pets and kids is that someone or something will eventually wake you up way too soon. I mean, WAY too soon. I was only asleep for 3 hours before the dogs were waking me up to go out. While I was awake, I glanced at my phone and saw a message from a friend asking me if I was free to look at dogs at a local shelter to pull for the rescue. That sounded a lot more appealing than sleeping away the first day of the new year, so I was up for it.
The shelter is relatively new, as there was change of hands in the administration. The old group left and the new group was setting up the space. They weren’t opened to the public just yet, so they had a small amount of dogs available (and chickens, but that is a whole other story). We walked through, eyeballing dogs to pull out for rescue, which is never an easy choice to begin with. The desire is to save each and every animal, but that has to be balanced with the realities of rescue. Is there an available foster to take the dog? Does the dog have a good temperament? With the rescue I foster for, age is irrelevant. We’ve pulled pregnant moms and seniors alike. As we browsed, we stopped by the kennel holding an absolute bear of a dog. He was a lab/rott mix with beautiful amber eyes. He watched us as we read the little bit of info on his crate. Almost immediately we knew we’d pull him, but whether or not it would be that day or a following day after a foster was found was yet to be decided. We had the shelter pull this dog, who was named “The Hulk”, and a white bull/pit mix named Oreo (?) to see how they handled each other. Each passed the temperament test, and my friend turned to me and said “What do you think about taking him?”
I had to think for a minute. When Phoenix was a toddler, I had a rott mix named Orion who was a gentle and sweet dog. He would curl up in my arms and watch cartoons with me. My experience with the breed has always been positive. My neighbor has a rottweiler who tends to leave the yard when he feels like it, and since I am the “dog lady” on the street, I will retrieve him and bring him back to his home. He’s a sweet goofball. I also needed to factor in my three dogs, the foster I already had and whether The Hulk was cat-friendly. (There were no cats at the shelter so this last one would require a gamble on my part.) I looked at The Hulk and thought of him sleeping another night in the shelter or starting the new year in a foster home. I agreed to take him. There is something about pulling a dog from the shelter to go into a foster home. It’s almost as if they know. Not to anthropomorphize dogs, but then again I have entire conversations with my animals, they get this sort of gleam of hope in their eyes.
We brought The Hulk back to my house to get him settled. Introductions needed to be made with my dogs. Thankfully, adult male dogs are not an issue for Sable; it’s usually just other adult females. She still bosses everyone around but there is a better chance of her liking a male dog than female. Puppies don’t have that affect on her since she can successful herd them around. She is an odd dog. The Hulk met her approval though, as well as Juliet’s and Bella’s. Bella took a few minutes to acknowledge The Hulk’s presence because she’s much more interested in human visitors.
One of the things we noticed about The Hulk was that someone had taken the time to train him. He sat for us and gave his paw when asked. When I gave him a treat, he took it very gently from my hand. In stark contrast, my uncivilized dogs tried to take my fingers off with the treats I gave them, and they definitely know better. He’s gotten used to the routine already. He’s become my shadow and tries to sit under my desk when I work, but he hasn’t realized that he is easily 100lbs and not a tiny lap dog. The cat introduction also went smoothly. Colt tends to avoid new fosters for a good week or two, or forever if it’s a herd of puppies who can overtake him. He walked up to The Hulk and rubbed up against him, purring. I have joked that it’s a solidarity thing with him; either it’s “us guys have to stick together” or “I’m a large cat…you’re a large dog. We just became best friends.”
Of course, The Hulk needed a new name. The nerd in me was content to keep it as is, but the realist in me agreed that a 100lb dog does not need a name that suggests rage issues. Nothing seemed to fit him. Teddy/Bear would be way too pedestrian and any mythological name still suggested daunting power. I came back to my first rott, and thought about what a gentle being he was. It was an easy decision.
Oh, and as for the other foster pup (named Andy)? He was adopted this weekend!