In last week’s post, I shared the information that I was on the hunt for a dog – searching on behalf of a couple I know. Both husband and wife are athletes who run for fitness and would love to have a dog who could accompany them on runs. But they are also both nurses who have long work shifts, so a dog who lives with them will have to be able to endure a certain amount of time alone at home (nursing not being a work-from-home sort of job!).
The couple lives in an urban area, so when they are at work, their dog will spend most of his or her time in their house, though they have a dog-sitter lined up (their neighbor downstairs, who has a dog I found for him!) and a dog-walker. Both the sitter and the walker will be available to take the dog out for midday breaks, but nevertheless, I know that it’s important to find a dog for them who will be content and comfortable spending time home alone. Of course, any dog can experience an onset of isolation distress – or, worse, separation anxiety – upon rehoming. But my goal is to find a dog with a mellow, “happy to accept my fate” bent to his nature.
Then I saw a social media posting for a local dog who needed a new home. He had been surrendered by a family who were having some sort of housing crisis and had been living on a chain in a fenceless backyard for some months. The family’s neighbor, heartbroken over the dog’s plight, had begged the family to be allowed to find the dog a new home, and they agreed it would make their own lives easier to not have a dog as they try to find their next housing situation.
Well, it was a lovely dog, just three years old – but one of a highly active breeds. I sent an inquiry to the woman who had possession of the dog, asking about the dog’s personality, and one thing she said made me more than a little interested: She mentioned that, despite the fact that the dog had very little shelter and was living in mud and filth, was never allowed in the house, and got very little attention from his former owners, he never barked! “Ooh!” I thought. That sounded like a good candidate! We made arrangements to meet a day later so I could meet the dog. I told her I’d be happy to foster him so I could get him neutered, tested for heartworm, and get to know him better. After all that, I would know better if he was in fact a good candidate for the couple I had in mind, or, if not, I would commit to finding a more suitable home for him.
She brought the dog to my home the next day, and I was even more interested. He has a lovely temperament, was very neutral with my dogs – neither excited nor threatened by Woody’s rambunctious play overtures or Otto’s grumpy admonitions to “Hold still while I sniff you!” The dog was quite predatory around my chicken pen, but he took my admonishments to leave them alone in stride. The most concerning behavior I saw was how he ran along every inch of my fence line, multiple times, looking through and over the fence as he loped along, stopping every once in a while to inspect its height or a low spot underneath it. I wouldn’t expect much different from the sort of hunting breed he is, but mentally, I was already warning his new owners to not let him off-leash for months, until they got to know him very well and had a good recall on a long line.
Alas: Neither I nor the couple I was hoping to place him with made the cut. The woman who was rehoming him made the decision to place him with another family she knew, because – and here is the kicker – their home is on five acres of land. She loved seeing him run, and imagined that with five acres, he’d live out his life running around that acreage in perfect happiness.