Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rover Update

We’ve had a great time 

getting to know Rover these last ten days. We decided to foster him here in Sewanee so he would be ready for the 4th of July Mutt Show. This English Setter mix has infused us all with his zest for life and his desire to please. As those of you who attended the Mutt Show know, Rover is quite the cutie and pretty darned well behaved for a dog who’s been at the shelter for so long.

 After the Mutt Show many have stopped us to ask if Rover was adopted as a result of his good performance at the dog show. The popular consensus was ultimately positive. People really like Rover and Rover likes them. But so far no one has adopted him.

 To many of us this just doesn’t make sense. Rover has everything it takes to make a great family dog. He’s great in the house, is housetrained and very clean, likes his crate, loves people of all ages, including toddlers, gets along better with other dogs than most people. His sanguine personality is a ray of sunshine in the household. He’ll even dance for a hot dog. He almost never barks, even around our loudmouth aussie Monk.

Rover is young, about 1 ½ years. He runs like the wind and loves to chase balls and Frisbees. With his kind of speed and his lightweight body he’d be a shoe-in for flyball or agility. He has the temperament of a therapy dog, though he still gets excited in a crowd. With age and training you could take this dog anywhere. He is also a natural bird dog, full of English Field Setter blood. We’ve seen him track, point and flush birds out of boughs behind the School of Theology. Image what he would do in the field. Because of this bird hunting drive, Rover needs to have a fenced yard, as he will run a very wide circle in search of birds if you let him, but he always comes back just as you decide he’s made a break and headed for Cowan. This means that if you have chickens and the like, he wouldn’t be the dog for you

 Since he’s been at our house he has learned to sit, down, and come to his name. He got in my one man kayak with no problem and sat bold upright as we paddled all over Lake Cheston. He knows how to swim too, but doesn’t volunteer yet. At first he was afraid to get in the car, now he’s the first one in, even before our weimeraner Pearl, who will run to the car when she hears the sound of it unlocking and sit waiting for me to open the door. Last evening we walked the campus and met with many young writers, all of whom were taken with Rover’s affability. Even surrounded by young adoring women, Rover kept his feet on the ground, never jumping on anyone. He drank up the attention they showered on him, his long whip of a tail supercharged with wag after each encounter. He’s learning not to charge out the door and if I tell him “easy” and I can now carry a cup of coffee in one hand, a leash in the other and arrive at my destination with coffee intact. This is a lot of progress for 10 days.

 Rover still needs a home. Our home is too small for three dogs full time and we don’t have a fenced yard. As much as we love Rover, three is a crowd. He would be happier with a family with children, happier with lots of room to run. Is Rover the dog for you? For more info about Rover please see Animal Harbor's page on Petfinder.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Rover is one smart cookie. Once a wild man, he is now a much calmer fellow. Rover spent a good deal of his puppyhood at the shelter where he was classified as energetic. When I started working with him he was just that; energetic to a fault. When I decided to really tell him I was the boss, he started coming around. Before long he was heeling and I gave him the treat of a walk around the shelter perimeter...outside the gate. Now he will sit in front of me and wait for directions. A complete turnaround.
We have Larry Campbell to thank for this. He is a local trainer who works with police dogs and the like. He came to work with Rover one day and had him wrapped around his little finger in no time flat. "You could teach this dog to do tricks!" he told the shelter staff. That put Rover in much higher graces with everyone. Nothing like having someone believe in you.
Rover loves frisbee. We played with a new one that I took him yesterday and he caught it three times. Once he almost did a back flip to catch it. All this dog needs is a good handler and he could be great. Come on, frisbee dog handlers, here's your man.


After nearly a year's hiatus, I'm finally back at the shelter. Two eye surgeries kept me out of action since last May. First I have to update you on Pearl, the weimeraner we found last May. She is now ours and what an elegant dog she is. When we interviewed several possible homes, we both felt so torn that we decided we had to keep her. Monk loves her too, so all is well. Pearl now lives up to her name, as she is so shiny she just gleams. A real pearl in the rough. She has a voracious exercise habit that must be satisfied but we're able to do that here. And when I took the dogs to the Chattanooga dog park a couple weeks ago she was a perfect lady...even on her very first visit. Check out the before and after. Photo on left is Pearl last May. Photo above is Pearl in December. Doesn't look like the same dog, does it?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

weimeraner found

Gwen and Monk at Lake Cheston

This week many folks around Sewanee noticed a beautiful female weimeraner in the woods off the Breakfield Road near the trail to the Forestry Cabin. She was friendly, but shy, taking handouts but not coming along with anyone. She seemed to be waiting for someone because she stayed just off the road in the same general area for days. Filthy to the core, shedding, dull coat, covered with ticks, she looked like she'd been in the woods for some time. Her feet seemed sore and she has a lump on her right foreleg just above the "thumb" that looks like it might be an abscess. A High Dollar Dog

I went out to try my luck in coaxing her with me. Had to go back about 4 times Tuesday, the last time at dusk. I found her in the woods by spotting her gorgeous silver ears which glowed in the half light. By Wednesday morning, as I started to leave her again she looked at me as if to say, "You aren't leaving are you?" And to make a long story short, she came to me, let me harness her and lead her to my truck where she jumped right in.

I'll post a picture later today...when I have one. I'm vetting her today to see about that lump on the leg. I am guessing she's around 5 but the vet will know more. She has some distinctive markings, so if someone is missing a weimie I'm sure they could describe her to get her back. But all of us think she was dumped, not lost. We also for the life of us can't understand why anyone would dump this dog, so I guess it's possible she has an owner somewhere who misses her terribly. She is a gentle and elegant, intelligent dog. I'm calling her Gwen for the time being.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


After a huskie dog from Texas turned up at the Tullahoma Shelter last week sporting an Id chip enabling the shelter to find the owner who lived a thousand miles away, we couldn’t help but wonder about one of our current guests at Animal Harbor. We’ve been calling him Chase. Chase is a Boykin Spaniel, a rare breed that originated in South Carolina. The breed was developed because so many hunters in those parts like to hunt birds from small boats and needed a smaller retriever who could ride in the prow of a two man rowboat and jump in after the birds on command. Most Boykins have docked tails and Chase’s tail is the original length, but this doesn’t mean he isn’t a pure bred Boykin. Chase shows his Boykin nature in other ways. He has the natural inclination to retrieve and he does it like a pro. But more than that, he knows retrieving commands such as “Go get it”, “Leave it”, “Drop it”. And when he goes for the object in question, he returns in a knife-straight line. He also has the affectionate nature of the Boykin. Few breeds are can claim such reliably outgoing companions.

We think that he has an owner somewhere who is desperate for their lost dog. But where?

Our vet who visits Animal Harbor on an ongoing basis recently checked Chase for an Id chip like the one the Tullahoma Shelter found in the Texas huskie. We didn’t find one with the scanner that our vet brought with him. But there are several other types of chips, all requiring different scanners that our vet doesn’t possess. Chase could have one of those, or no chip at all.

Of course it’s also possible that Chase was abandoned like so many dogs are in Franklin County. This sadly happens all the time. But on the off chance that Chase might have an owner out there somewhere, we wanted to try our best to get the word out.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Housetraining Official

This is Sunday AM. As of last night at 9:30, Gretchen is now officially housetrained....three days from her arrival. And they said it couldn't be done.

Details? I'd fallen asleep in front of the TV around 8:30...just a snooze...and she waited till I woke up then asked to go out. She said this like she meant it. When I let her out...Voila! "Taking care of business" (sung to tune of same). I was so proud of her. And I think she was proud of herself too, because she ran to me wiggling wildly...her favorite way to say thank you. And she did all this before bed for a change.

This dog deserves diamonds, caviar and silk sheets.

She pleaded to sleep outside the crate, as it's cramped in there, but I didn't want to press my luck. Seven days of crate training and this will be etched in stone.

Gotta thank Monk for being so tidy. I think a pee-free house goes a long way in training a newbie. And who knows what wisdom my perfect animal has imparted to the new angel. Regardless, all is well in dogville.

PS: still haven't found the blinking power cord to the camera. agh!!!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Puppy Pics

Here's Gretchen when she first appeared at Animal Harbor. Left, an inquisitive spirit. Right: Not able to get out of her bed.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Observations About an Angel

Gretchen is now asleep on the sofa in my studio, Monk's usual place. I would take pics but my camera needs a charge and the charge cord is missing. What else is new? Anyway, I think that this is the most comfortable she has ever been in her entire life. And the cleanest. She was an angel in the bath.

In the last 24 hrs I've been able to notice a lot about our angel. First and formost, she is dainty is every way, obedient, loving and kind. This makes her a joy to be around and a cinch to handle. Whew.

When our vet examined her over a month ago, she said that Gretchen had proprioception problems and that everything behind the lesion was affected. This is medical jargon for "she doesn't have normal sensation on any part of her body behind her injury". Since the lesion (or injury in question) is in the front left side of the head, there isn't much that's in front of it. You can see by looking at her head that it's a little lopsided, so there must be pressure on the left half of the brain.

But as Dr. Helton said, Gretchen has learned to compensate very well for her diminished sensation. She gets going and stays going, not unlike someone on a bicycle. Her brakes aren't great, but they are adequate. But she does stumble from time to time and has a hard time staying upright when she shakes herself off. She tends to run in large clockwise circles because she feels more stable in this direction. Sure she turns left too, but she's better going right.

She also seems to be lacking some sensation in the bladder region. The upside is that she has amazing bladder control. She has peed (dog lovers will understand the need to know these things) only three times in 24 hrs. I think (don't quote me) that she doesn't know she needs to go till she's really full. This is great as long as you know when she went last. So we haven't had any accidents yet. I took her out before bed to pee, thinking she would go, especially since she hadn't gone since before sundown. Nope. I gave her 20 minutes and then gave up (I was nearly asleep on my feet) and put her in her crate and went to bed. She whimpered "good night" and then didn't make a peep...what an angel, especially for her first night in the crate. I wakened at 3 AM to silence...hmmm. She MUST need to go by now. So I went down and let her out. She ran to the far part of the yard, did her business, ran across and peed and ran back to me. WOW! I lauded her lavishly and put her back in her crate and went back to bed. This morning she didn't pee until nearly 11:00. Unbelieveable. This is great because once I know she's gone, I can relax for a while and get some work done.

I've also noticed that she was having trouble with hard food like kibble and biquies (our pet name for dog biscuits). She can eat it, but she chews like she's just gotten back from the dentist. So this morning I put warm water on her kibble and mixed it with a little canned food and she scarfed it down. So I think we have most of the important bases covered now.

I must say that she loves to sniff. She must be part hound. She gets into the yard, does a little happy dance to thank me, then sets to sniffing. She showed me all the deer trails, showed me how they get in and out of our vegetable garden (good dog!). Her hearing and her sense of smell are perfect. I think her sight is fine too. I just think her gyroscope is a little tilted. Now to remember all those cranio sacral moves I used to know so well...and translate them into canine.


I'm finally fostering Gretchen, our very special "special needs" dog. Stay tuned for intro, pics, and updates on Gretchie's progress. Those of you who already know Gretchen know her story, but for those who don't Gretchen was found inside our shelter gates one morning. She was probably about 8 weeks old and she couldn't move her legs. We assumed that someone must have thrown her over the fence, landing her on her head. But this may not be the case. It's also possible that she was injured prior to her appearance. But whatever happened, poor little Gretchen couldn't move her hind legs. But she was so sweet that the shelter workers gave her a chance to improve and she did. Within a week she was walking, well, goosestepping. She improved steadily and was adopted at 4 months. But her adoptors were unable to keep her due to hard times. They surrendered her back to the shelter around Thanksgiving.You would think that this was distressing to Gretchen, but no, she has the spirit of an angel. She is happy everyday no matter what. Now she is sleeping on the small sofa in my workroom, waiting for the rain to quit so we can go for a walk. Our dog Monk, a red merle aussie, loves her and has been the perfect gentleman with her. This is rare, as Monk is very choosy about his friends.more soon!