I’ve had Roy (shelter name: Green Arrow, which is just unmanageable for training purposes) for a couple of weeks while he gets over the last of his kennel cough.
I’ve had the chance to practice taking pictures of a black dog while he is here; his coat is so sleek and gleaming that some shots seem digitally enhanced. He is no fan of the camera, however, and he very quickly realized that the best way to get that camera out of his face is to charge straight at it. I’m pretty sure laughing at this every time it happened sent all the wrong signals to him, training-wise. Some dogs just don’t like the camera, and that’s why you have to wait until they go to sleep.
Why Adopt Roy?
As far as looks go, he’s a show-stopper. He has a coat like gleaming black satin, with just the tiniest white jazz-man soul patch on his chin.
He has an extremely soft mouth. I know this because he never once even touched me with his teeth when taking food from between my lips (don’t judge me!). I’ve never even been accidentally scratched by one of his teeth; he has a very good awareness and control over his muzzle for such a young dog.
He is appropriate and deferent with other dogs, kids, adults, and will adjust his behavior according to their circumstances. He’s not 100% about this, and he can get worked up by too much attention, but he has a very good grasp of “settle”.
He is very attuned to the stink eye. After the first couple of days, if he started to get into something he shouldn’t have, all I would have to do is give him a stern look and he would stop what he was doing and go apologetically back to his spot. It made getting things done a lot easier because you don’t have to be hypervigilant with him every second of the day.
He very quickly learned “not for you” command with regard to my two budgies. He would sometimes creep a little closer to their perch by the window to watch them if they were out, but he never once made a leap for them, or stalked them, or barked at them. This bodes well for someone who may have other, smaller animals in the house.
Not only is he paper trained, he also goes outside. He does expect a piece of kibble and lots of praise when he goes outside, and most of the time now when he finishes his business he will clear the area and then sit at my feet and look expectantly at me until I give him a treat. I also praise him to the skies when he pees on the paper inside (occasionally his intention is better than his aim).
You will get so much attention, and meet so many people, when you are out on walks that you will feel like you are in a rock star’s entourage. This can be problematic if all you want to do is a quick potty run, but if you have the time it’s a great way to meet people and to keep him socialized. He’s a big fan of tween girls, so if he hears the high-pitched squealing that denotes a group of them is nearby, he’ll make haste to go over and greet them.
He recovers very quickly after something unusual happens, and he has yet to shy away from a new experience. Clanging garbage cans, horse-drawn carriages, ice cream push carts, backhoes – I’ve exposed him to hundreds of urban sights and sounds, and he hasn’t been rattled by any of them. This can also prolong a walk, as he likes to sniff everything or watch events unfold. You can practically hear his little brain categorizing all the new information; it’s really quite fascinating to watch him while he is in information-processing mode.
He isn’t barky. He will bark a little bit when playing, but he has only barked at another dog a couple of times (again, the “settle” command, reinforced with a hand on his side, works well here).
He can “sit” (and will sit of his own accord when you stop at a crosswalk), “down” (sometimes “sit” and “down” merge into one seamless movement), “fetch” (he’ll bring the toy back, too), “drop it”, and “no bite” (if he gets mouthy). Right now, “paw” is beyond his comprehension. He is also very sensitive to vocal tones – if he hears the “get out of that” tone of voice, even if it isn’t aimed at him, he will immediately stop what he is doing and go back to his spot. (I wish my budgies would learn that trick.) He will go into his crate, though he’s not terribly happy to be shut away; he will whine for a bit, and then settle down pretty quickly. If you give him a stuffed kong in the crate before you leave, he won’t even notice you’re gone.
He has a cast iron stomach; no food sensitivities so far, and his favorite treat is a carrot stick. One to two carrot sticks (big carrots, not baby carrots) per day seem to be enough for now; he will eat as many as you give him, but that can lead to problems later in the day. It is possible to have too much fiber in one’s diet. Dry kibble has been just fine for him, and his stool has been firm and easy to pick up the entire time he’s been with me.
He does pull on the leash (because there is always another person to greet), and he doesn’t have a very good recall, but those are certainly not beyond his ability to learn.
Be careful when taking him on long walks; he overheats fairly quickly, so make sure you bring water. I taught him to drink out of a Vapur collapsible bottle; he’ll open his little beak when he gets thirsty and you can shoot the water right in.
He’s happiest sleeping on the bed with you at night, and will settle down at your feet or curled up behind your knees. As it gets closer to morning, he’ll start creeping towards the head of the bed so that he is within easy arm’s reach of the morning belly rub. (It’s just too adorable for words when he makes his little old man noises first thing in the morning before he rolls over and presents his belly.)
Bath time is not his favorite, but he’ll tolerate it. What doesn’t make any sense is that he has actually jumped into the shower with me a couple of times, and that was all fun and games as far as he was concerned.
He can find any slipper in the house, no matter how long ago you lost it. He has shown some propensity for shoe and furniture chewing; this is where that stink eye comes in handy. He has also discovered the joys of used kleenex in the bathroom waste basket, so keep an eye on that if you don’t want old dirty tissue wads all over the house.
I would love to see him go home with a family with kids 5+ years old, to a house with a yard where he can run and play and fetch and be the best part of someone’s day for the rest of what I hope will be his very long and happy life.
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