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jane__ny

Need advice on a shelter dog

17 years ago

Found myself without any pets for the first time in my life. My last dog died in April of last year and my old cat died in July. Kitty was 16 and my sweet Brie was 12.

Went to my local shelter last week to look for a kitten. Instead became intrigued by a timid, large Lab mix hiding in the rear of his kennel. All the other dogs were barking wildly, but he hid in back.

Didn't find a kitten, but that Lab stayed on my mind. Called the shelter during the week and was told he was extremely fearful and had a bad beginning. Was about 4 and they hadn't temperment tested him yet. Didn't suggest him for adoption, especially if children were involved (felt he never saw children).

Today I had to find out more about him and went back. I tried throwing treats to get him to come out of hiding, but he wouldn't. When I walked away, he'd run out and grab the treat and retreat quickly.

I asked a worker to bring him out and about his story. He was found in an abandoned house, bad conditons. Said he's afraid of everything and they guess had never been outside of the house. Probably lived in a crate, as he couldn't walk when the police found him. They were bulldozing the house and didn't know a dog was inside.

Dog was never housebroken, and knows no commands.

They brought him out. Huge male Lab. Looks like he could have Dane in him. Pure black, large head. Very sweet face. Terrified of everything around him. Could not get him to focus on me at all. Petted him, talked to him, but it was so noisy at the shelter and so much activity, I couldn't get him to focus, even with treats.

This dog pulls on my heart-strings. I asked if I could come every few days and try to work with him alone. They agreed. I would feel more optimistic if I could get his attention. The fact that he's so 'ultra involved' in all noise and activity, has me concerned that he might not be workable.

He's extremely thin. Worker said he has digestive problems, but feels it's due to nerves. He's been tested for worms and is clean. No heartworm. He's a very large dog. They think he's purebred Lab, but I think he may have Dane in him because of his size. Very long and tall. Very handsome, big head.

I'm up for anything. But I am in my late 50's, hubby 70's, and an adult son, 30's. My daughter visits almost every weekend with my two granddaughters, 18mos & 3yrs.

We've always had large dogs. Had 4 Rotties for the past 15 yrs. and Dobies. I've always worked with our dogs and they were completely dependable in any situation.

He doesn't appear to be a fear-biter. No sign of agression at all, takes food gently from your hand. Had virtually no socialization or exposure to the outside. He came in in April O6. He's so frightened.

Any advice would be welcome,

Jane

Comments (75)

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Jane, the world needs more people like you. I do wish it works out for you and Lucky. I'm too an animal lover and most of my pets have been rejects. At present I'm the mom of two large black labs (Fancy and Sadie) love my girls. Please keep us posted.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Just came back. Thanks again for the suggestions. The treats I have used have been, swiss cheese, turkey, small pieces of steak, you name it. If you dangled a prime rib in front of him, it wouldn't matter. He's terrified.

    Cynthia, your suggestion worked fairly well, surprisingly. It's freezing and very windy today. I almost froze to death. Chilled to the bone, I can't imagine how these poor animals take this. So very sad.

    He's in a kennel run with about 15 other dogs separated by concrete walls. It's in the back of the shelter and gets no sun. Very isolating and dark. They can see nothing but woods. No cars, no people, no activity at all. It's the worse environment for a sensitive dog.

    As you walk up the walkway, the dogs go berserk, barking and jumping at the fencing. All the dogs there are pits and pit mixes except for his immediate neigbors. They are a husky mix and a chow mix. Lucky and those two dogs are alone in their separate kennels. The other dogs are paired.

    I bring small pieces of cheese and give all the dogs along the walkway pieces to calm them down. Talk to all and the barking changes to wiggles and licks. All except him. He's always hiding.

    Today, I fed all the dogs again, talked to all and stopped at his kennel, said his name and saw him peeking out. I walked on to his neighbors and was petting them and playing with a toy I brought along. I slowly noticed him (out of the corner of my eye) sneaking out and running back in. I ignored him completely. He seems to like the husky mix. He can't see him, but they can stick their noses around the concrete a bit and sniff. I did that with the husky, so Lucky could see me giving treats to the other dog. I continued going up and down the runs, talking and feeding the other dogs. After about 1/2 hr. he came out, running back to hide, but also coming slowly to the fence. I still ignored him. I then fed the husky in a way that he could observe. He came close to me. I then offered him a piece of cheese, he ran back. This went on until he finally took the piece and ran.

    By the time I was out of food, he was taking it from my hand, but still running back with it. I felt better. By this point, I was so frozen, I left. I couldn't get anyone to bring him out. I even spoke with a volunteer who didn't know him. The whole business is strange. I don't think anyone pays any attention to those dogs in the back.

    I have to give a lot of thought about this. I originally went there for a cat and now feel like I'm on a mission with this dog. I honestly don't know if we could handle a dog this size. His neck is bigger than a male Rott. I don't know if I could control him on lead.

    I'm not giving up on him. I'm very disturbed with the shelter and the lack of attention these dogs get. The little husky mix was shivering. Very sweet boy. I don't know his story, but he is also alone. It's so cold and dark back there.

    The whole business has me depressed. I need to get my mind settled.

    Thank you all again,
    Jane

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  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Boy, that is a beautiful face, its no wonder that you have fallen for him.

    Instead of a choke collar, I would suggest a halti or a gentle leader. You will have more control with either of those collars than a choke collar.

    I think that perhaps he would come around faster if he wasnt in the shelter? You are working with him for a while and hten he goes back to the very noisy, scarey and stressful shelter.

    Can you work out a temporary, Foster with the possibilty of adoption arrangement, with the shelter?

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Will they allow you to bring him back if it doesn't work out? I know you would hate to, but at least you would have that option.

    We recently adopted a rescue Pekingese that is 8 years old, almost blind and almost deaf. People have questioned me as to why we got him. There's no explanation I can really give that they would understand, it's just something I felt in my heart. I wasn't sure about him at first, but he is settling in and things are going well.

    I really admire you for considering this dog. All dogs deserve a good home.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Jane your description of that shelter is really heartbreaking. I just wonder what others in the area think the reputation of this place is. Is there a reputable foster group or no kill shelter you could call to ask others what they think of the place? I'm from Minnesota and it is bitterly cold here right now. I just can't imagine the life of a poor outside dog on concrete with no sun--and alone in a cage, no one to even snuggle up with.

    Really, it would be ideal, if you do consider adopting Lucky, to also adopt a more socialized companion dog. They really do learn from and watch each other. The huskey mix ?? :)

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It has me sick. I'm not sure what to do. My husband feels the dog is mentally, a mess. He's angry at the shelter as he feels (and I tend to agree), this dog is not fed properly, socialized and probably been left alone for 10 months. But he feels his problems are more than we can deal with. He feels strongly that Lucky is mentally unstable.

    I have to work this out in my own mind. I agree with him to a certain extent. But I also find myself wavering back & forth.

    I just don't know.

    Jane

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I wonder, though, how anyone could diagnose mental issues versus lack of socialization/fear at this point.

    I looked at the Westchester SPCA website. They do have a foster program as well as a "sponsor a pet" program. If you and your husband don't want to adopt or foster, I wonder whether it is possible to make a "sponsor a pet" donation that would give them incentive to get Lucky fostered elsewhere. Their site does boast that they've got a great track record in rehabilitating and socializing unsociable animals. Lucky must not "rate" somehow. Anyway, if this is possible, I'd be willing to make a donation.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    marita, I saw their website also. Got me what kind of wondering what rehabilitation or socializing they do. I couldn't find anyone to help me today. One volunteer walking a small dog. I saw no one outside. Went in the office, and asked for help and they were busy and told me to find someone outside.
    I asked last week why he hadn't been fostered. The woman at the office said he wasn't suitable, that they hadn't temperment tested him yet, that they would not let him go anywhere until they knew. They stated he was unreliable and too afraid to be placed. I stated, "he's been here for almost 11 months" she responded, "he came in April." I said, okay, 10 months?"

    I am not going to defend our feelings regarding Lucky. It is difficult to write about what we see. We have had dogs for 35 yrs, some rescues. I worked very hard to put a CD's and CGC on my dogs. If you look at that Shelter list, I volunteered for 8 years at the Elmsford Animal Shelter and worked with some really sad cases. Elmsford is a 'No Kill,' and takes everything. The County has threatened them every year because of overcrowding and unclean conditions. But they have die-hard volunteers. Briarcliff is a 'Kill' shelter. That's why I'm surprised Lucky is there so long.

    I have never seen behavior like Lucky's.It's sort of autistic. I have never felt totally invisible to a dog. I'd feel better if I saw something, even agression, but to feel you are not present is strange. Even today, he took the cheese out from my fingers and ran. He didn't look at me. He grabbed and ran. He has a wild, frightened look about him. He does not fit any dog I have come across over the years.

    The weather is going to be bad this week. Very cold and snow tomorrow. I don't know if I can get there.

    I have to think this through.
    Thanks again,
    Jane

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    A shy dog! We have had a shy Husky for just over a year. A shy dog can be a tremendous amount of work with infrequent tiny rewards for the owners. That has been our experience and many people's experiences on the yahoo group shy-k9s.

    We love Kestrel and feel happy every time he makes a baby step of progress. We ache for him because he was so afraid and still is very nervous. The first few months he would not approach us. It was a major success when he left his crate for any length of time. Finally, after a year of slow, slow progress he is comfortable enough to jump up on the bed and lay down near us. He still shies away if I reach for him. He cannot bring himself to go down a flight of steps although he can go up.

    A shy dog is not necessarily hopeless, but be aware they can be much more work and heartache than you might expect. I found much needed support at shy-k9s.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You'll learn so much if you pull him out.

    You are an educated dog owner - he needs you.

    He's starving for pack mates - I never leave my dogs without a buddy - dogs need each other - just or at least almost as much as horses do.

    vicky

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Jane,

    This 'place' has me so confused..........as I know you are. How can they have him for nearly a year and not have tested him yet?
    And why are they putting him thru this misery for so long without making some effort or decision on whether he has any hope of improvement? One of the things they told you that doesn't make sense is that he's terrified of cars. How would they know this??

    It's unfortunate that you can't get him outside the compound so that he could be throughly tested. As long as this dog can smell and hear the sounds of the shelter, he's not going to respond to anyone trying to help him...............and of course, there's always the chance that outside the shelter he may stay just as neurotic.

    As you've said, you need to think though this before making a decision. You'd need lots of time to work with such a dog and also the space within your home. You'll need a secure, fenced back yard since you don't know if the dog has separation/confinement anxiety and are you able/willing to make changes to your home to accomodate his problems?
    As another poster mentioned, another dog may help him recover but then you have to decide whether you want to own 2 dogs?

    Whatever your (and DH's) decision is, you know we'll support you! :) If it turns out that you can't take on this 'huge' challenge, then maybe your bringing focus on him will make the shelter take notice that this dog needs help.

    Since he's not going anywhere any time soon, measure twice's suggestion of checking out the other site is a great idea. I'm sure they'll cover everything you need to consider.

    If you aren't able to take him, you know there's always another animal there that you 'can' take home and give a second chance....................


  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Oh Jane, you so much want to help, but you recognize that DH is not on board and that You or DH could get hurt if unLucky moves too fast or strongly in fear.

    I wish the weather were nice and you could take your dog books out there and sit next to his run and read aloud to him. Just ignoring him, letting him hear your voice, giving him treats if he advances, could help him learn some trust.

    Some of the doggy daycare places around here will take in fosters sometimes. If you found one that would donate the living quarters for him, you could keep him warm and visit everyday helping him learn to trust. The way things are there now, I don't see how you can make much progress. I know your heart is in it all the way, but that you have to think of your own needs too.

    Can you imagine a Husky shivering? It must be so cold that the pits and poor unLucky are about to freeze. It sounds like you need to report the "shelter" to the ASPCA!!! Don't they have houses with hay to huddle in?

    I just can't call this poor soul Lucky.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    No hay and the Husky is a mix. Short coat with longer fur around his neck. His picture is on the website also. His name is Tommy. They wouldn't let me put a comforter I brought along in there yesterday. They said the back of the kennel has heat blowing out. Maybe it does. There is a board in the back he hides behind. This is driving me nuts. My husbands main concern is the amount of work involved trying to reach this dog and it may not work. I didn't want another dog. He did and does. I wanted a cat. That's what I went there for.

    I've been upset all day over the conditions. This dog should be placed in the front runs where he would see activity and people. He shouldn't be alone and isolated. It's obvious he likes other dogs.
    I feel so sorry for him, but I feel sorry for all those poor faces. The more I go, the more I'm getting to know the whole row of them. All pits except for Lucky and the Husky and the Chow.
    My husband and son will go with me on Saturday. But I know nothing will come of it. That's the sad part. It will be like they are not there.
    As far as being afraid of cars, I don't know. But I do know that they told me he's been tested for worms repeatedly and for health problems. Yet, when I was in the Clinic yesterday, the man told me it was the first time he was in there. So, how was his health checked?
    I don't know why they haven't put him down after all this time. None of it makes sense.
    One thing I want to point out. This shelter is in one of the wealthiest areas of NY. It's home to the Rockerfellers, Clintons, Martha Stewart, Ralph Lauren and on and on. Makes me sick!

    Jane

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    jane, bless you, bless you for caring and working with Lucky. I agree with nancy in mich, sounds like the shelter needs to be reported to the ASPCA.

    I have never worked with a dog as shy as Lucky, but I have rehabilitated horses who were that shy (and who showed no sign of agression towards humans). What worked there was a horse buddy and daily human interaction, but no forcing anything. Just sat/stood quietly in the animal's space for a month for starters, gently talking.

    Sounds as though Lucky is a quick learner and would come to trust faster if he could see humans interacting with another dog who trusted them. My husband and I rehabilitate rescue mastiffs this way because a new dog recovering from abuse takes cues from, and bonds with, the mastiffs we have who know, love, and trust us.

    Our most recent rescue mastiff didn't make eye contact with us for awhile because he was so frightened. After a year and a half he is doing so.

    I'm confused too that the shelter doesn't seem to want to place Lucky. I wonder if someone (like their lawyer) told them that they cannot afford the liability?

    Please let us know what happens. Take care.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I strongly urge you and your husband to make an appointment with the manager of the place to get some real answers about Lucky's situation and to indicate your concern over all the dogs' condition. Maybe the best thing you can do for all these dogs is raise awareness in the community about what's going on by letter writing or other means. A lot of people don't know what is occurring in SPCA's, and in a wealthy community people will respond.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I can't believe he's in a kill shelter and is still alive. Honestly at some point you have to consider what type of life is this poor dog having?

    I was in a training class last night - very interesting. One of the things we discussed were the shy/scared dogs and how to approach them. The trainer basically said to give treats every time you pass by the dog, throw them to him, but pretty much ignore them. Give treats to all the dogs so the shy dog sees it's ok and also that good things come from this human every time she passes by my cage. He said it can take a long time - and these are dogs that do not have the degree of difficulty Lucky has.

    I have a feeling when and if they do get someone to assess him, he'll be put down. He is going to require way more work than they can handle at that shelter.

    I still think his best chance is to get another rescue group to go in and take him out - one that is willing to see if he actually can be saved and get him into a foster home.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Called the 'Vet for the Stars' (seriously, it's a fantastic Veternariary Center) for the rich and famous and asked for a referral to a Animal Behaviorist(heaven knows what he charges). They gave me a name and I left a message that I'm interested in having an evaluation done on Lucky. I've decided, no matter what I ultimately decide, I need to know what is going on with this poor animal and if he's workable.
    Called the shelter again, and got Chris (apparently she's the manager) and told her I'd like him measured for a 'halti-lead', and to measure him for a crate. I canceled my crate order because I'm not sure what size to get. He's very large, and I think I will probably need a Dane size crate (I rationalize this by thinking that it's always good to have a crate in the house, even if I don't take him).
    I will give the halti a try (never used one), but because of his size and strength, I need to know I can control him without getting hurt.
    I've had large, strong Rotts, and despite the opinions on this forum, I have only used choke collars and had total control over them. Rotties have strong prey drives and I would never consider taking them for a walk without having control at the end of the lead. I will give the halti's a try because of his submissiveness.

    I told this 'Chris' that I was there yesterday and could find no one to take him out. I told her I went to the office and they told me to hunt down Mike (the worker). After walking all over to no avail, I left. She apologized. I asked about the halti and they have none. I asked about fostering and she said it's up to Mike. I asked about moving him to a different kennel with more exposure, and she said, "Oh No, he's too frightened, he needs more time."
    I said, "More time! he's here 10 months, he needs more exposure to sounds and movement. He's too isolated back there." She heard my voice and said, "Well, talk to Mike."

    So thats where its at. I have the dentist and then will run over there. I hope I hear from this Animal Behaviorist. I could use a glimmer of hope.

    'Measure twice' I looked into those Yahoo Groups Shy K9's. but it's for members only. I signed up, but was told they would get back to me. That's silly. That was last night and still nothing.

    Jane

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I've never used the halti, but have heard good things about it. Because of the time it takes for a dog to adjust to a halti (see link), I'm not sure it will work in Lucky's case.

    Like you, I've found training collars to work best, when properly used. I think a lot of people using them haven't been shown the right placement for the training collar....... so they're often misused.

    I think you're taking the right steps in getting a behaviorist to evaluate him...........another opinion never hurts.
    If anyone is capable of this, it's you.............especially with your background of working with large breeds.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    here's the link

    Here is a link that might be useful: halti

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Jane, when we took our starved mastiff out of the SPCA we did not use a choke collar because his throat was so lacking in flesh that we were afraid he would damage his vocal cords if he pulled. Perhaps that is a consideration for Lucky, too.

    I get the impression (and maybe you do too!) that the shelter is giving you the runaround. Sounds like you are doing all the right things...hang in there!

    We should call you "Lucky's Guardian Angel..."

    Cheers! I'm rooting for ya'!

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think Nancy-in-Mich got it right 'unLucky'

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Felt a little better today. Couldn't find any help, so armed with all sorts of treats and toys (play with all the cell-mates)I spent another hour. All the dogs on the row get so excited when I come now, I believe it's infecting him. Instead of ferocious barking, they start crying and wiggling. He came right out and stood at the fence. I fed his neighbor (chow) first and talked to him and pet him and then moved to Lucky and said hi and offered him a treat. He took it and stayed there as I moved along the row. I didn't spend much time with him, did not attempt to pet him as I didn't want him to run away. Moved up and down the row, played with the other dogs and just treated him cooly and moved on. He stayed at the gate and I gave his neighbors each a squeaky toy and then offered him one. Because of his neighbors excitement, he took the toy, but dropped it.
    That's okay. I went looking for Mike. Told him in 'no uncertain terms, that Lucky needed more attention, that in just a few days he was at the gate letting me give him treats and wagging his tail. I told him he's too isolated and needs a cell-mate for company.
    He disagreed and again stated that he's too scared and that he couldn't be put up front because he would scare people. He told me none of the volunteers will walk him or go near him. People are afraid of his backing up and think he will bite.
    I've decided, no matter what I decide, this dog needs some attention. I will try to go there daily to spend time with him and the others. I can't ignore the others. They are all special.
    Heard from the animal behaviorist and he didn't seem hopeful. He said he couldn't evaluate him at this point and the best I could do would to continue doing what I am.
    Whether I take him or not, I realize his best chance of adoption is to spend time with him. Walking him and getting him to trust. May not happen, but I'll give it a shot.
    I think Mike saw that there is some hope for this dog and promised to contact two volunteers who might try to walk him. He said the weather is against them as the volunteers don't come when it's too cold.
    I probably won't adopt Lucky. He will require more time and work than I can muster. I feel that even if he eventually warms up to me, that will not necessarily transfer over to others. There are too many 'others' in my life. My two little granddaughters are my main concern.
    I wish I were younger, didn't have as many responsibilities to other people. I know if I were in my 20's I would take this on. I don't think it's possible now. But I will help Lucky as much as I can.

    Jane

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    "He told me none of the volunteers will walk him or go near him. People are afraid of his backing up and think he will bite. "

    "He said the weather is against them as the volunteers don't come when it's too cold. "

    Why couldn't you be a volunteer?

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Whether you adopt Lucky or not, I really hope you continue to consider fostering him in your home for a month or two. That's a short term commitment. Because no one else will do it, at least you'd be able to do the proper assessment of whether or not he is likely to come around. I hope, too, that you'll consider putting the word out to other potential rescue groups who might have a foster--dane or lab rescues in your area, perhaps. There's got to be someone who is willing to foster this dog and help rehabilitate him!

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    You know, I have heard of this exact thing, particularly when humans have played basically no role in a dog or cat's life. I'm not even talking about abuse...it's that the dog does not associate humans with anything. Food, pleasure, play, nothing. It's as if his earlier existence has made him into an autistic dog. It sucks, but he's probably kind of "set", at least from what I've heard. And I'm no dog expert of any kind. Good luck...

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I will agree with Mike on one thing - people are wise to be afraid of a dog that is backing up away from them - he might bite. He's sending a signal loud and clear - stay away from me.

    What you are doing is the absolute right thing - you are building a trust with him slowly but surely. He is associating you with treats and toys and a kind voice. He will learn more every time you go there that you aren't going to hurt him and good things come from you, not bad things.

    Dogs should always come to us, not us to them.

    I will disagree with Mike in not trying to see if he would get along with another dog in a pen together. It sounds like he is at least interested in the other dogs. He might do well with a buddy.

    I'm so glad you are able to go spend time with him each day. Even if you can't adopt him, you are making his quality of life better with each visit. :)

    Sher

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    'Measure twice' I looked into those Yahoo Groups Shy K9's. but it's for members only. I signed up, but was told they would get back to me. That's silly. That was last night and still nothing.

    Jane

    The groups are moderated by volunteers. Unscrupulous spam artists assault the member lists with junk postings. A live volunteer will view your request and you will receive email in a day or so saying you are a member.

    He will require more time and work than I can muster. ...I wish I were younger, didn't have as many responsibilities to other people.

    I think you are doing great. I understand your position.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Jane, it's wonderful that you are doing what you can.

    BTW, does the shelter allow you to take pictures? If I were a journalist, I'd jump on this story/expose in a heartbeat...

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Anita22, I wish. I actually thought of taking some pics of him and posting them here, but I have never figured out how to do that. I don't know how to reduce photos, and except for Picassa, I can't put any photo programs on this computer. It's used for my work.
    I am depressed today over the dog. A number of things occurred over the last two days. Too long to write about. The shelter is understaffed with no volunteers that I have seen except the one woman on Monday. No one in the office ever leaves the building. I never see them do anything but answer the phone.
    It is so cold out there for those animals. I don't see any blankets, or anyone around them. It's deserted during the week. I walk around, go in and out of buildings, and find no one. I can't get any help. I found Mike yesterday and he promised to measure Lucky and take him out into the play area with another dog. There's a sweet little pit who he played with once. I made him promise to do that. I don't think he did anything at all with him today. He is over-worked.
    Anyway, Lucky still acts as if I'm not there except for the treats, which he will take. He will back away if I put my hand through the gate. I stayed until I was asked to leave, by some kid who said they were closing. I spent time just standing in front of his kennel, talking, but he never even looked toward me. He appears deaf and blind. Only I know he jumps at sounds, I truly felt he couldn't see nor hear me. It's the strangest thing. He walks around the pen as if I'm not there.
    The other dogs along side him, are staring at me, wiggling and trying to get my attention. He's oblivious to everything.
    I also found out that when he first came in, he was terrified of the ground. They couldn't walk him on dirt or grass. They had someone work with him with treats for days (they say) to just get him to step on dirt. I was also told, he would never go into my car. He's so afraid of cars, or small spaces that there would be no way I could get him in the car or a crate. He would have to be put under to do so.

    Whether this is true, I don't know. I suspect it's partially true as I can see how terrified he is when they take him out of his kennel.

    The animal behavior person feels Lucky is probably beyond rehabilitation. He can't imagine why they have held him there for such a long time. He explained a lot of things, too long to write. None, hopeful. No one feels he can be placed in foster homes or can come home with me.
    In my heart of hearts, I feel they are right. I felt a deep sadness today just watching him.

    Jane

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Jane,

    Have you considered telling everyone in your dog groups about the situation at the kennel? Maybe they could help get word out about the help that's needed at this shelter?
    I'd also contact any journalist that has a pet column and ask them to write an article, not so much about Lucky, but about how the dogs are kept and the need for volunteers and donations?
    Does this shelter work with any of the pet stores in regard to donations and showing their dogs on weekends?

    We don't have weather as cold as where you are, but I haven't been in any shelters where the animals weren't kept in heated buildings. It's hard to believe that they're leaving these animals outside in single digit temps without additional shelter and heat.

    Maybe the reason you've been drawn to Lucky is not for what you can do for him, but what can be done to improve the shelter and the lives of its residents.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Okay, can you approach him without looking directly at him? Without trying to touch him? Bring a blanket or something to sit on and hang out in the pen with him (wash the blanket as soon as you get home) But let him come to you. Bring a magazine, and just dont make eye contact or try and touch him in any way, let him sniff you, and poke at you. Bring some treats and just put them near you. He does not need to take them but associating them with you would be good. If you could do this 4 or 5 times it might work out better. This way he is forced to give in to his curiosity. I hope all goes well with this guy, it sounds like you are making some headway

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    annz, I don't understand the set-up with this particular shelter. I volunteered for years with a no-kill, privately run shelter, Elmsford, and we had many volunteers who helped in all areas. Of course, there are never enough volunteers, but there were always people all around that shelter - which is 3X the size of the Briarcliff Shelter, which is a 'kill' shelter, and run and financed by the County of Westchester. I'm not sure what that means. I know the rules are different. In the private shelter, anyone can foster or volunteer. In Briarcliff, they worry about liability and everyone working there is on salary (I think).

    I also think people are drawn to private, no-kill shelters. They know the shelter is run on donations only, and no one is on salary. They feel they are doing a lot by volunteering there. I went back today with my husband and son. The shelter was empty. Mike was there and that's it! I was always at Elmsford on the weekend and it was packed with people, looking to adopt, or dropping off food and blankets and just generally helping where needed. Briarcliff was totally empty today.

    It's very cold out. It was 20 today, so maybe people are not thinking of adopting. But I was surprised. This shelter does not appear at petshops or malls with the adoptees. Elmsford does all the time. Again, private vs. public. I think the County shelter is under control of the County and must follow the rules. I guess the private shelter can make it's own rules.

    mazer, I can't do what you suggest because I'm not allowed to go in the kennel alone. It is locked and I spend most of my time trying to find Mike. He's the only person I ever see. If I go in the office, the girl says I have to find Mike. Mike is cleaning stalls and whatever, and can't just stay with me. The kennels are locked so I can't enter alone. I'm angry about this, because except for the day they let me in the room, I haven't been with unLucky except standing outside his kennel.

    I'm afraid to make trouble for this shelter. If I do, I might be totally ignored and get nowhere. Believe me, I've been complaining to whoever I can complain to and I have a feeling Mike is getting feedback. He was very cool to me today. Didn't even say hello.
    I'm not sure how to proceed. I am terrified I'll show up one day and Lucky will be gone. I'm in a difficult position.

    Jane

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I just want to add that I couldn't even think of taking this dog, even for a day, without knowing what I'm dealing with. I need to spend time with him, get a feel for how workable he is.
    I'll be back there tomorrow.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Quote from Briarcliff's website: ****Today, it is the only humane society in Westchester County empowered to enforce laws relating to animal cruelty. Despite this, the SPCA gets no federal, state, or county funds. So we rely solely on the financial support of people who care about the welfare of animals.****
    Their site claims they became independent of the ASPCA in the 20's, so I would think they'd be considered 'private'.

    Sounds like they're like a lot of other shelters that just make do with what they get. I'd find out who is above the manager of the shelter and write a letter voicing my concern for the care of the animals.

    Don't they have a vet working on site at the spay/neuter clinic? Has this vet checked the dog's hearing and sight?

    Here is a link that might be useful: spca westchester

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Good question! I didn't read that, and it doesn't appear to be a privately run shelter. Lots of rules, and the few workers there appear to be paid.
    They have a spay/neuter clinic on the premises (where I spent the only time alone with Lucky, and they seems staffed with paid workers. I don't know if there's a vet on the premises. I was told that Lucky had never been in the place. Now I wonder if he's neutered? The day I was with him there, he was so frightened, I asked how many times he had been in there and Mike said, "first time."
    I don't think anyone examined him because it wouldn't be possible without putting him under.
    I'm going over there now.

    Jane

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    jane__ny, I have been watching this and haven't said a thing.

    You said "My daughter visits almost every weekend with my two granddaughters, 18mos & 3yrs."

    The dog has a lot issues that might or might not be able to be fixed. All of your attempts and he still doesn't trust you? A dog like that cant be trusted around a child.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks gammyt, I certainly would never do anything foolish where my grandchildren are concerned. My last dog, a Rottweiler named Brie, died last April. She loved children and my granddaughters loved her. We always had dogs and my daughter is 'very well trained.' My son and daughter have always been involved in working with our dogs, as is my husband. It was my daughter who first noticed Lucky at the shelter. She was with me, I was in the cat house, she was looking at the dogs. I had no desire to look at the dogs. She spotted Lucky hiding in back of his kennel. Her husband has already stated that he will not allow the children in my house if I take the dog. My daughter feels differently, and feels her husband doesn't understand how cautious we would proceed if I did take the dog. She does not worry about her children's safety because she knows the dog would not be around them until fully trustworthy. She would work with the dog also.

    Spent an hour at the shelter today and it was an 'interesting experience.' The shelter has a large play area in the back. Very large filled with agility 'toys', jumps, tunnels, hoops and ramps. Someone must have donated the equipment. Mike brought the dog into the yard and let him loose. Lucky proceeded to run around peeing and pooping every few feet on every piece of equipment. He looked totally relaxed moving around. He was only interested in marking. He didn't play, didn't show any interest (or fear) in the equipment. Mike tossed a ball and he showed no interest or even seemed to notice it. I saw no fear in the dog at all. Now this playground is very isolated, it runs behind the main building facing the woods. You cannot see the parking lot or any of the kennels. I tried getting his attention, but he ignored me. I asked Mike if he was neutered. He said "I dunno.' After closer observation, I could see he is not. I could get his attention with a treat if I waved it toward his face. He would come to take it, and I would attempt to pet him with my other hand. He would pull back, but let me pet him briefly. He also let me scratch his rump. His behavior is odd, to say the least. He showed no fear except when I would put my hand near his face to pet him, but it wasn't terrible. He would let me, but then trot off. He did not respond to his name, clapping or Mike's shrill whistle.
    I think Lucky is deaf, or has some type of deafness. I think it explains a lot of what I see. Mike disagrees (slightly), but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. Movement startles him. I thought clapping scared him, but realize its the hand motion of clapping. When he's not looking, he doesn't startle. He didn't react to the noise in the parking lot, because he couldn't see anything. He doesn't react to the other dogs barking. He's never been examined (Mike said). According to him, it would frighten him too much. I realize that he is afraid of small spaces, like the room we were in. He's afraid in his kennel. He's totally relaxed in the open play yard.
    I can't get anywhere with the shelter, or find anyone to talk to except Mike. He was there alone.
    Big complication....
    Jane

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I wonder if he's an ex-laboratory animal? Would sure explain a lot of things about him.

    The excessive marking probably has a lot to do with him not being neutered, and it is also a sign of insecurity.

    It certainly sounds to me like he's deaf.

    Could you ask at the vet's office if they will examine him? The risk you take there though is the vet taking a look at him and saying he's unadoptable and they most likely would put him down.

    Sigh. Poor unLucky. :(

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wanted to update. Nothing dramatic has happened since my last post. I've tried to spend time with Lucky but bad weather and little help, I haven't gotten far until today.
    After putting some pressure on the shelter, I heard from someone today who has agreed to work with Lucky. They tried to evaluate him today with little success. He is so fearful, they couldn't get very far with him (no kidding.) But they did get a crate big enough for him. Will start only feeding him by hand to try to get him to respond to people. She said they would put a crate in his kennel without a door and cover it. They would hope he would become desensitized to it over time. The were unable to get any eye contact or to have him take treats, thus the hand-feeding. They would not feed him from a bowl anymore until he becomes comfortable with hand feeding. She said they would try clicker training with him next week because he doesn't respond to voice or food. I mentioned my feeling that he might be deaf and she doesn't think so, but will keep an eye out for that.

    He is terrified of cars and could not be transported that way. She stated that he is not adoptable at this point and asked me to campaign for Lucky. I told her he stole my heart and I would help him even providing a private trainer. He is far from ready for that. At least I feel that someone is paying attention to him now (I hope).

    I just want to thank you all for the suggestions and advice.
    His only chance is for someone to notice him and spend time with him. Then who knows...

    Jane

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Jane, I still say you are Lucky's guardian angel...what an inspiration you are!

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Good for you Jane! Your persistency is paying off for Lucky to get some attention to all of his problems.

    I sure hope they are able to stick to the hand feeding with how understaffed they seem to be.

    Sounds like this person knows what she's doing. Here's hoping it helps Lucky!
    Sher

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I followed this thread. I'm wondering what became of Lucky. Is there a new thread I missed?

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Question, Do you know for a fact he is terrified of cars or is that just what the kennel people said?? Was it because of the experience the dog was having going to the kennel?? Could you give him a wakl on the leash around the car, then go back inside and try and do a bit more each time you take him out and get him use to just the look of the car?? I know if my husky mix had his way he would never leave the house or the car....He has issues with everything and things can turn from carefree to get me in the car right now in a matter of minutes. If I dont push him every now and then he would be fat and lazy and never go anywhere. The other day while hiking he heard an airplane go overhead, and took off for the car. I kept walking, knowing he has seperation anxiety I used that to my advantage, eventually as soon as I disappeared behind some bushes he came up to me. I talked to him and whistled for him the whole time.
    Sounds like this pup needs some bonding - do you talk to him alot while you are there?? How do you feel about taking him for a walk near the car - will the shelter let you do that?? I think this poor dog might not be wired right to start off with, and I think the shelter people have put alot of limits on the dog - I mean I would be afraid of a car too if someone noosed me and tossed me in, and yet given the right situation and the right person I think you might be able to overcome some of this shyness. Do you know anything about the dogs history before he got to the shelter or how old it might be??

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    mazer,
    Not to sound rude, but jane's previous posts has explained in detail the dog's behaviour problems. Getting a collar on him, much less walking him near a car, is something that's not going to happen in the near future.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    What is going on with the Dog?

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Jane,
    How did the story of Lucky turn out. Was any progress ever made?
    You did wonderful steps to try to help the poor dog.
    Wish is were a case where you could get Cesar Millan to assist.
    Please update us when you have time.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Cocooner - I wrote to the OP and asked her what happened to Lucky. Here's what she wrote -

    I don't know. He disappeared. I was told by the Shelter that he was adopted. In my heart, I believe they put him down. But I don't know for sure. I think of him often.

    Cocooner - I asked for permission to notify the list. Again, her response.

    No I don't mind at all. I haven't been back there as I tried to put it all behind me. I'd try to post myself, but I don't remember my password. I'm not even sure how to find the site again. If you could post a link, I'll visit. Please feel free to update for me. You are very kind, and that big dog still haunts me. Such a sad point in my life.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I agree that they euthanized him. You were annoying them and they couldn't just ignore Lucky anymore so they got rid of him. This is NOT a tragedy. He faced years of fears and worries and trying to learn to be a dog. I would have taken him right away, but I do take abused dogs and do rehab. If I could not get a response from him in about 6 months I would have euthanized him myself. I did basically the same thing with a mill golden who was so fearful she couldn't come out of her crate. She developed cancer, so we opted to release her from her fears and her disease. It's a quality of life issue and neither she nor Lucky had any.

    I work with a woman who adopted a dog much like Lucky. They spent a fortune on trainers and they have a neurotic dog who still has a poor quality of life much of the time. Worse, they have sworn never to get another dog.

    I'd like to see this shelter brought up on cruelty charges. They warehouse dogs and that is pure abuse.

    Sweet Lucky, may you Rest in Peace.
    Jane and the Hole in the Wall Gang

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Cocooner, thanks for getting the update from Jane, I often thought about that dog and dear Jane.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Do you think the shelter is overwhelmed and understaffed? What is to be done besides closing it, which may be the only alternative?

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