Sunday, March 4, 2012

Introducing the Farm Dog

A mixed breed of Rottweiler and Australian Shepherd

Late last year, sometime after my trip to the Scandinavia, I thought of fostering a dog. By chance I came across a posting on Craigslist that a dog rescue group was looking for a quiet household to host a dog for post heartworm treatment. The posting indicated the dog needed to eliminate all activities while recovering from the treatment - no walks, no exercise, no excitement, and no jumping. An ideal situation would be staying in a garage of a childless household. I thought that sounded easy enough. I didn't even have to walk this dog. All I needed to do was making sure she was fed and had plenty of water. I spoke to the woman running the rescue, Hound Haven Hope Rescue, a few times over the phone, and it was settled. I was scheduled to pick up the dog at Bonnie Brae Kennel after she was transported from Lake County.

I was surprised to see the dog's docked tail. I was even a little disappointed for her lack of tail. She appeared to be shy and a little timid when she met me but was happy to go along with me.  On the drive back home, I could see her smiling from the rare view mirror.

I don't know much of her past. She was available for adoption as a stray at Lake County Animal Care and Control. I know that shelter is often over crowded, and many animals are euthanized. The rescue group got her out of there because they believed this dog would make an excellent companion for someone. They named her Kelsey and had a veterinarian giving her a physical. That was when they discovered that Kelsey had heartworm infection. They estimated her to be about 6 years old and a mixed breed of Rottweiler and Australian Shepard.

Being shy

I am no stranger to dogs. My parents adopted a doberman when I was a kid. I had an Alaskan Malamute in college and spent years working in Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital at UC Davis.

Although I have worked with hundreds of dogs, I was impressed with Kelsey for how well behaved she is. I am somewhat of a lazy dog owner, so I never adopted a puppy. I prefer full grown dogs who were already trained. Kelsey understands everything. After her recovery period, I realized that I could take her to off-leash dog parks. She is friendly with people and dogs of all sizes. Some little dogs would bark or growl at her due to fear, and Kelsey would just back off and walk away.  She would always make sure to walk near me. It turned out that is one of the traits of Australian Shepherds. They are often called "Velcro Dogs" for their strong desire to always be near their owners and for their tendency to form intense, devoted bonds with select people. While Australian Shepherds tend to be very active, Rottweilers are calm and more laid back, so she's got a good balance from both breeds. Needless to say, I decided to adopt so she could stay on the farm with me.

I am mostly relieved that Dusty shows no fear around Kelsy, and Kelsey shows no aggression towards Dusty. They don't exactly play with each other, but they could lay next to each other with the glass window in between them and feel totally relaxed.

Dusty approves the dog

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