As you may (or may not) know, my wife and I are a foster home for dogs. Mostly the dogs we foster are sick and in need of a lot of T.L.C. and some nursing: monitoring of their physical well-being, meds administered on time, transport back to the shelter for their formal medical procedures, and all that. The goal is to get these lovable creatures healthy again so they can be adopted into Forever Homes.
Meet Malachi: The Out Of Control Turkey-Dog
So far we have fostered 10 dogs, Malachi is our 11th. Of those 10, two did not survive (and that those were heart-breaking) and two we adopted ourselves. The rest have all gone into the Rolling Rescue program and have been adopted into loving homes. Sometimes the new pet parents correspond with us and send photos of the lil darlins in their new places (and those are wonderful). Malachi is a different situation all together.
We have earned something of a reputation at the animal shelter for which we foster as being good at training dogs… or at least at civilizing dogs. Many of our guests have come in pretty wild and unruly and left much more well-behaved (and thus more adoptable). So when Jen (from the shelter) called and asked if we’d be willing to take in a delinquent and help whip him into shape, we needed to think about that a bit. I went to the shelter to meet Malachi and evaluate his behavioral problems.
Jen brought Malachi out on a lead. Malachi is a Feist which tend to be energetic by nature, but he was absolutely wild. He did not recognize that the lead limited his movement and repeatedly shot off in some direction or other, came to the end of the leash and literally flipped himself over, crashing into the gravel on his back (and nearly pulled Jen’s arm out of it’s socket). He body slammed us, he jumped up on us — being a medium size dog he easily reaches up to my chest. He “mouthed” us – not really biting, but grabbing our arm or hand with his teeth… which can hurt. But under all that exuberance was a good heart. He was just energetic and playful, and he needed some space.
The Newport Animal Shelter’s pens are better than most facilities I’ve seen, but they are pens and the staff does not have time to get all the dogs out for regular exercise – they are much too busy meeting the basic needs of the many, many dogs and cats housed there. I figured Malachi would benefit from a stay at our Doggie Boot Camp and we could settle him down enough to be adoptable… if he didn’t kill me first. My first session with Malachi resulted in two punctured fingers, multiple scrapes, a fat lip, a mild groin injury and a bent pair of glasses. All on my side of the score card.
Below are a couple of very short videos I’ve made about Malachi, I hope you enjoy them. I’ll add more as is appropriate.
Malachi: Turkey Dog
Here we’re just having a little fun with him over his accent.
Malachi: Not So Nutso
This is the morning of his third day here, you be the judge…
Malachi Rides the Rolling Rescue Bus
November 15, 2013
Today Malachi, Blondie and Cochise enjoyed an extended morning play time. By the time it was over, Blondie and Cochise were absolutely exhausted and Malachi was beginning to feel a bit winded.
Malachi came to stay with us for a little behavioral modification. This fella was formerly known as The Tasmanian Devil because he was forever in motion: unpredictable, wildly energetic motion. Much of the time that motion was up toward your face.
Three weeks later we are ready to present the Reformed Malachi. He is still energetic – always will be: he IS a Feist – but now he has much more control over the direction that enthusiasm takes, and he knows a few rules of etiquette for use when interacting with humans. This will make him much more adoptable.
After the play session I took Cochise and Blondie back home for a well-deserved snack and nap. Malachi went into the truck for the trip back to The Newport Animal Shelter. He has a seat on The Bus (Rolling Rescue) this afternoon headed for New Jersey.
When I brought Malachi in the staff’s most common comment was, “Woooowwwww … THAT’s Malachi?” I’m proud of him: he was well behaved and calm, even during the medical exam and crating (“seat on the bus” is a euphemism for one of many crates in a big special transport van).
When I got home, I spent most of the afternoon repairing the damage Malachi had inflicted on the dog house in his pen. When bored, he tended to amuse himself with home remodeling projects: like creating a new window in the end of his dog house, removing much of the wind baffle inside and stripping the shingles from the roof.
I tried giving him an assortment of chew toys and bones. Some kept him busy for a few minutes, then they were just gone. One, a wide, flat length of bone lasted several days and was something of a point of contention between Malachi and Rhonda; his neighbor.
Rhonda lives in Pen #2 and she has to pass through Pen #1 to get to the play yard. If Malachi left what was left of his blade bone laying around, Rhonda often tried to steal it. I had to put it up on Malachi’s dog house roof (where he spent much of his time anyway) to keep it out of her reach during transits. She has her own chew bones.
I opened the pen gates and brought my tools inside Pen #1. Rhonda stood in her gateway looking around. I could just tell what she was thinking:
“You took Malachi away.
You did not bring Malachi back.
Malachi is gone…
it’s MINE!” and she snatched up that blade bone, ran out into the yard and settled into a spot of grass to chew, very happily, on that bone.
We will all miss Malachi. He can be a hand-full, but he is good-natured, smart, and he wanted very much to please us: making him easy to train. And he does like to play! Cochise, Blondie and Rhonda (in limited fashion: she’s still recovering) all enjoyed playing with him. He is enthusiastic, but never vicious; their play never escalated into a fight as some dogs will. Happy tails to you, Malachi, and we hope you are adopted quickly.