Monday, December 23, 2013

Getting started

    Today we are starting our blog.

    We intend to post stories about our dogs, their training, our adventures goose chasing, and encounters with geese and nature.  We will post miscellaneous information about how we care for our dogs and what products we use to keep them in good condition.
    I started Rescue Me Goose Chasing because of a rescue dog I adopted years ago. I was interested in adopting a dog that was capable of running with me on my training runs.  I had been training for marathons with our German Shepherd but age was catching up with him and long miles were no longer possible. Actually and sadly running was no longer possible for him.  Zander was a long hair Shepherd.  During his prime he was able to run 15 miles with me.
   I researched breeds and their different attributes. I decided an Australian Shepherd was the ideal candidate for me as a canine training partner.  I had contacted a local Aussie rescue. They told me I had to pass a three stage process. The first step was filling out an application complete with references. Second was getting approved by a home visit from one of their volunteers and then finally approval to adopt the dog I would request by the foster parents. The application was sent and a date was set for the in home approval meeting.
   When the Aussie Rescue volunteer came to our home she was also in possession of a young Aussie, Comet, she was transporting to Wisconsin.  I told her to let him out so he could stretch his legs and relieve himself. Out popped this nice looking red bi pup. He was mostly a deep reddish brown with some white on his collar and feet.  We took him into our yard where he ran about while my daughter and Stephanie's son got acquainted and played in the yard.  After watching this guy for about 15 minutes I had started thinking this could be the the right dog.  The volunteer asked me several questions about how we care for our current dog, who would be home and how often and several other questions regarding what our intentions were with an additional dog.   Within an hour of arriving they were loaded up and on the road to bring Comet to a foster home in Wisconsin.
    There was something about this pup that struck me. He was about 6 months old, had personality and seemed well adjusted.  He weighed on my mind heavily for the next hour.  I decided I needed to call the rescue and find out what it would take for me to adopt Comet.  She explained that he needed to spend a couple weeks with a foster family so they could get to know him and decide if he was a good fit.  Talk about a nerve wracking time.

Well two weeks later we were told by the rescue that Comet would be ours if we still wanted him!  He was being fostered about 4 hours away from us in Wisconsin so this meant a family road trip was in order.  My wife Lisa and daughters Christina and  Brianna accompanied us on the trip.  I remember it being a nice summer day, not too hot and not to humid.  It was an easy trip and the 4 hours went by fast.   An older couple that had 2 Aussies were fostering him and they were kind enough to send me almost daily updates about Comet; his personality, habits and attitude. Everything, seemingly, was great with him.
    Upon arrival at the foster home we were greeted and welcomed in. Comet was in the yard playing. Actually he was chasing flying insects and not paying any attention to us.  The other two Aussies greeted us kindly and allowed us to pet them.  We called Comet to greet him but he seemed intent on catching whatever was flying around the yard.  Brianna, our youngest daughter, who was six at the time tried catching him but he did not show any interest in her.  We discussed Comet with the foster parents trying to gain as much information as possible.   After being reassured that he was OK with kids based on their experience, we proceeded back into the home to finish up the rescue paper work, pay the rescue and get his veterinary records.  It was about this point that Bri bent to give  him a treat and he lunged at her.  It startled us all!  The fosters said they had never seen this out of him before and were surprised since he was so good with their grandchildren.
    After quite a bit of thought and discussion with Lisa we decided to adopt Comet based on the assurances of his foster parents that his actions were out of the ordinary.  Possibly due to us being new to him.
    Well needless to say things did not work out well.  It took a few weeks but after getting Comet evaluated by a trained professional dog trainer, he was diagnosed with having fear aggression.  If you have never had a dog with fear aggression I can tell you it is a very nerve racking situation.  You feel out of control and always on the look out for an outburst.  After several training sessions with our dog trainer, I was taught the signs of a nervous and fearful dog and what he looks like prior to an outburst.  Comet and I went to a dog trainer for the better part of a year. ( As a side note and in hindsight I should have done my due diligence on the rescue. After confronting the rescue with Comet's fear aggression issue, they confessed that the fosters were new and he was not properly evaluated.)
   Comet would not allow strangers to approach him at first.  But after about 6 months he accepted treats from strangers.  We were buddies though. He only trusted me. No one else could sit by me when he did.  If Bri would come to sit by me he would growl at her.  Kids could not run in Comet's presence. He would go crazy and try to bite them.  He had some talent. He could run down a frisbee and jump and catch it from almost any angle. He could stand at the base of our 4' deck to our pool and jump up on it in a flash. He would do it to try and catch Bri before she jumped in.  She would tease him in this manner and it was only a matter of time before he caught her in the butt with a nip.
   Comet had come along way.  However, we never felt comfortable ever leaving him alone with Brianna or other children.  It did create tension in our home.  If guests came over I would have to keep him leashed and lead him around the house for fear of an attack.  My brother-in-law is an animated guy. He is friendly and outgoing.  This bothered Comet and he would often lash out at him and others with barking. lunging and gritted teeth.
     Lisa and I discussed at length our ability to keep Comet and decided we had to return him to the rescue.  He was not a good fit and may do better in a home without kids.  It was tough. I had spent the better part of a year training him, learning his fears, behaviors and tendencies.  I knew though that there had to be somewhere or someone better that could handle him.
   The next day I made the call to the rescue.  I explained the situation and the outcome.  I had been keeping the rescue up to date on all our training and his progress.  They were willing to take him back and said they had someone in mind.  So it was with a heavy heart we returned Comet.  In a kind gesture the rescue said they would allow me to adopt another dog based on my experience and training.   I told them thanks but it may take some time.
    Well time heals all wounds and it would be the following January we would adopt our second Aussie, Cosmo.