Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gibby, Newly Adopted Yellow Lab

I recently lost a wonderful dog. He was a rhodesian ridgeback rescue who lived at my farm for six or seven years. He was supposed to be a foster dog, but he had been so abused and looked so dangerous, I decided to keep him. I can't live at the farm right now, but I felt good about having Rusty there as a very protective guard dog. People stopped trespassing, coyotes stopped killing cats, and my chickens survived when Rusty was around. Unfortunately, he apparently found a way through the fences and was killed on the road.

I decided to look for another dog to do the same job at the farm. I felt badly when I left Rusty behind every day, but he seemed to be very happy, sitting on the picnic table and then racing down the driveway when I would arrive and following me everywhere while I did my chores. I decided the dog I would find should be one that wouldn't have a chance to be part of a one dog family, not a dangerous dog, but at least an unwanted dog. I went to the local humane society, but happened to go on the day they were closed. I talked with a volunteer who was sitting outside with a little dog. I told her what I wanted and was surprised that she didn't turn negative when I explained what kind of dog I wanted and what job I wanted it to do. I thought I would go back to the humane society the next day, but decided that while I was out, I might as well run over to the dog pound where I had picked up Rusty.

The dog pound (called Animal Control) was a friendly place. The people there welcomed me and directed me to the room full of dog kennels. There were less than a dozen dogs in residence. Several were cute little lap dog types, not what I wanted. One was a big rotweiler, but he didn't attract me. One was a border collie, just the type of dog I love, but one I would want to keep with me - not a farm dog. The very last dog was the yellow lab in the picture. His name is Gibby. I looked in his face and saw Rusty. I don't know what it was - Rusty had scary yellow eyes and big curved teeth and Gibby has big brown eyes, but somehow there was a similar desperation or neediness that told me he was the right dog. He's big and strong, maybe too strong for me, and quite a bit underweight. I told him to sit and he sat. I put my hand in front of him and told him to be quiet, and he stopped barking.

I asked for all the information the officer had about him . He's about three years old. His owners turned him in. They had him for a year, after finding him as a stray. They turned him in because he was fighting with their other dog - they had two unneutered males. I decided to think about him overnight and maybe check out the humane society before I made up my mind.

The next day, I learned that no one else had shown any interest in Gibby and his fourteen days would run out in three more days. I decided to skip the humane society and go right back to the pound. They brought Gibby out to visit with me in their walled in visitors area. I really liked the way he related to me. When I was talking to some other people, he sat down right by my knees and stayed there. I signed the adoption papers and paid the fee for his neutering and license and microchip and rabies shot. That was Thursday. His neutering could only be done on Tuesday, so I had to wait until Wednesday before I could take him home, but I could visit in the meantime.

I visited on Friday and got myself locked in Gibby's cage while I was trying to prevent him from getting out. I stuck my hand through the bars to release the latch and got my ring stuck in the bars. Eventually, I got my other hand in the slot and opened the gate. I was right about Gibby being too strong for me. I was only able to keep him from forcing himself through the gate by using my knee against his chest. At least I learned that I could tussle with him and he didn't get vicious or mean. I couldn't spend much time with him because I had to go to a high school reunion and leave a little after noon - but I was glad I made even the quick visit.

I couldn't visit Saturday or Sunday, but was told that it was a good idea to give him a bath on Monday before his Tuesday surgery. The officers provided shampoo and towels and a great sink in the floor (probably designed for mop buckets), and brought Gibby to me with a sort of noose leash around his neck. They told me to tie the leash to the faucet brace, which I did. I had no idea how Gibby would react to the water, but it didn't seem to bother him at all, in fact, he paid no attention at all - not until I started massaging the shampoo into his back. That, he seemed to like. After a few minutes, when I was starting to use the hose to rinse him off, he looked up at me, looked me right in the eye, and gave me a couple licks in the face. I could almost swear he was saying thankyou. He's definitely the right dog.

I've been trying to clear the weeds and grapevines out of the dog kennel behind my farmhouse. No dogs have lived in it for a long time, but there are still two dog houses and an automatic feeder and waterer. I'll have to do a lot of work to clear it, but there's still a big old bath tub buried down in the ground that could be Gibby's swimming pool if he likes the water. It was an old buried tub when I moved into the house almost forty years ago and I've always been curious about whether or not it has or had feet, but I'm sure I'll never dig it up to find out. The old tunnel is filled in. I had a wonderful malamute years ago who dug a tunnel that went down under my basement - so deep that she couldn't hear me call her unless I stuck my head right down in the opening. She was cool in summer and warm in winter in that den. The next dog who lived there was a French Malinois who used the den to have puppies. She was so close to a wild dog that she would go hunting at night and come back and disgorge her meal for her puppies. She had three litters of 13 puppies before I finally had her spayed. Shady and one of her sons lived with me for sixteen and seventeen years. They were great dogs. I miss them still. The son was called Shep - Gibby will go a long way if he's a bit like Shep.

I pick up Gibby tomorrow. I can get him after noon, but my niece who lives in Guatamala is coming with her children to make her annual visit at the same time. I'm going to call in the morning and see how late I can pick him up. I decided to write a blog about him so I will remember more about him.


Trudy said...

Hi Phyllis,

Gibby is so lucky to have found you! I look forward to reading about his exploits on the farm.


Jill P said...

Hi Phyllis - I think you expressed an interest in a dogs instinct based on breed. We had a lab retriever and she retrieved anything with no training on our part. She loved her balls. She would retrieve until she dropped. Our current dog is also a retriever we think about 5 years old. I have tried and tried to get him interested in a ball but no go. He is more interested in small animals - rabbits, squirrels and small dogs. I always have him on a leash and he did attack a little barker that was not leashed. Lucky for the little thing it lived. Our dog gets along well with bigger dogs though. Last night he surprised me when he got a lone racoon. It was dark and he was leashed. (I have one of those 15 foot jobs) There was no growling or barking just a lunge and he had it in his mouth shaking it like a ragdoll. Only after it was a goner would he drop it and then I could see what it was. It was the size of a rabbit so was a youg one and I told Quincy he was lucky the mama wasn't around! Anyway, I think it was instinct for survival. Quincy was rescued when his elderly owner died and the kids didn't want him so they packed up and left him on the farm. He survived for over a month according to the death date and the rescue. He is most gentle and loves the grandkids. Funny thing these dogs are!! Jill P