Just emotions and observations
A frantic phone call from my brother early in the morning yesterday – he found an abandoned German Shepherd Dog (GSD) at the bus stop. The dog was very thin, and covered in dirt and ticks. He was very hungry, and grabbed the biscuit pieces from my hand.
None of the local workers had seen him before yesterday. He was a large pedigree dog without a collar – he was probably abandoned or lost.
He kept pacing up and down the bus stop. He would trot away and come back to the bus stop. He also tried to climb a bus, and fell off when it started. He didn’t seem to know where to go, nor did he know what to do.
I called to him, and he came to me and I pet him. He started pacing up and down in the bus stop again. He trotted away and went out of sight, and came back in five minutes.
He also tried to cross the road, but could not because of the ongoing traffic. Standing with him at the bus stop for an hour must have helped him trust me. When he tried again, I ran ahead, and called out to him (while asking the traffic to slow down). He followed me. I breathed a sigh of relief when he safely crossed the road.
It was relatively easy now, to get him to walk a little to my building. He entered the home with no fuss. I put an old bed sheet on the floor, and he settled there. I also kept the door open. He seemed anxious, and I did not want him to feel cornered. He seemed sweet and lost, but we didn’t want to startle him (he was a large, intimidating dog). At that time, I didn’t think twice about what risk I was putting myself and my family into.
He paced up and down the living room, smelling a little. He walked out the house (the door was open) and came right back. He settled down on the bed sheet.I put down water and some boiled dal, rice and curd. He didn’t snatch the food from my hand, and only attacked it once I put it down. He was very, very hungry. He also had his fill of water.
He didn’t have a collar or leash, but I took him out anyway. He followed me, and always kept an eye on me. He would walk by my side, and if he trotted a couple steps ahead, he would immediately circle back and walk by my side again.
Chicken, rice, vegetables, eggs, boiled dal – he ate whatever we gave him.
Did I mention he was toilet trained?
We had a stream of visitors yesterday, which included a three year old girl (with her dog-loving mother) and an elderly neighbour. He was hardly frazzled. He would look up, maybe ask for a pat. And then settle back down. Even when the vegetable-vendor came home, this fellow could not be bothered. He was mostly around me.
Noises inside the home and outside barely affected him. He didn’t really care for the barking dogs outside either.
I took him to the groomer (in a rickshaw!) for a nice refreshing bath. He didn’t complain, but had to be muzzled for his ear cleaning and nail clipping. He also got a cheerful yellow collar and matching leash! At the vets’, he didn’t like being muzzled and held down. But he bore with it. He did snap at one of the medical attendants when he touched his hind leg. He has hip dysplasia, and a mild onset of arthritis. Thanks to YODA, and Amol, a volunteer and of course my family, I got a lot of emotional and financial support with this dog. Thanks also the Vir sisters, Juhi and Tanvi for cooking chicken 🙂 I wouldn’t want this malnourished dog eating my vegetarian food!
Today, the house help, Rama, entered. Without warning, without any sound, this GSD lunged at her feet. She screamed, and used her umbrella to make him back off. I pulled him back with the collar, and I heard him bark for the first time. A loud, deep bark, fit for this dog. She went into another room, and I was left to use all my strength to calm this fellow down. Maybe it was the sari, or a bad experience with a maid, or maybe it was the protective instinct in him. I can’t know for sure.
I leashed him, and took him out for a walk. With trembling fingers, I asked YODA to find another foster home for the night. I was scared, but I was also worried for him. Biting is the last thing a dog will do. But he had come pretty close this time.
He calmed down outside and enjoyed the wind.
I took him back home again. He paced, whined, and tugged towards the kitchen, where Rama was working. We went back downstairs and went for a walk. We returned home after she left. The first thing he did was go smell the spot in the kitchen where she had been working. A little more sniffing, and then he returned to his bed, and fell asleep.
We went out again when Rama had to come back. Outside, he was his usual self. He walked well on the leash, allowed to be petted by the neighbours. The YODA ambulance came, and off he went to his new foster home. We were all sad to see him go. Despite the early morning panic-inducing behavior, we cared for him deeply.
There is something to be said about these so-called one-man dogs. I felt special knowing he felt most comfortable with me in the room. Knowing he’s destined for another home made this characteristic an especially huge liability. I encouraged my mother and brother to be involved with him by giving him his meals and taking him for walks. In the short 24 hours, I noticed an increased affection towards my mother, and towards Juhi and Tanvi, who brought him cooked chicken.
As I write, he has settled in the new foster home. He is calm, has eaten and taken his meds. Tomorrow, he will be driven 148 kms to his new family in Pune. I hope tomorrow goes well.
Some things I would reiterate to his family:
– He is nervous
– Give him his space, and let him approach you first
– Be friendly!
– Avoid sudden and fast movements around him initially
– He’s a very well-behaved and calm dog (9 out of 10 times!)
– A canine behaviourist can help prevent any further lunging attacks
– Maintain a healthy weight and keep his joints strong