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At A Glance
|In addition to LOVE this dog has the following requirements:|
|Entered Foster Care||Fence||Kid Friendly||Another Dog||Cat Friendly|
|5/17/2015||Physical only||Ages 10+||Optional||Yes|
|This is the most recent information available; however, it may change as we learn more about the dog.|
Hello, dear people out in RAGOM-land. I have the pleasure and honor of introducing you to Pippin, a 3-and-½-year-old male being fostered in Andover, MN, who may be the sweetest little addition to RAGOM ever. He’s not a typical RAGOM foster dog, because his size is different (he’s only about 20 pounds), his color is different (black and white), and his fur is different (he doesn’t shed, but he does need regular haircuts and grooming). Nevertheless, he’s a RAGOM dog because he needs a home where he will be loved and treasured for the rest of his life. He came in with some other dogs that were Golden Retriever-types, so I think it was part of a package deal, but it’s all to our gain: Pippin is a wonderful dog that I am proud to foster, and who deserves the Golden Life. He will make a lucky family incredibly happy, as soon as we find the right match for him.
He’s been with us for more than two months already; his debut was delayed mainly because foster mom (FM) was hoping we could keep him forever and ever, and then by FM’s work, then by FM getting a nasty virus, and then having to go with FM and foster dad (FD) for a week and a half to clean out a FD’s mother’s house, which had been unoccupied for about 4 years, and then there was a minor car accident, and the list goes on. Since Pippin’s been with us so long already, I have a lot to say about the dear boy, so get comfortable, or plan on more than one reading session, because this will be long initial posting!
There is a RAGOM reader somewhere out there who is lucky FM can be coldly logical, because otherwise, I would not be able to let this dog go. However, after fostering a few dogs, I feel like I know a little bit about finding the right match between a dog and a family. As much as I would like to keep him forever and be the right family for Pippin, he needs a household with less activity than ours. It’s especially bad now, over the summer, but even when things calm down more, I know in my heart that Pippin would do better with more tranquility and less activity than what we have in our household. Currently, our three college-age kids are home for the summer, and all of us come and go at various times because of jobs, volunteer work, etc. We are social people, and both my husband and I come from very large families. So, between family, friends, and neighbors, you never know when someone might be stopping by. We also tend to have gatherings – it seems like every week lately -- sometime with just a few, and more often with several people. Poor Pippin’s nerves become frayed, because he does want to be with his people, but he is so scared and uncomfortable that he becomes an emotional wreck if he stays with us when strangers (to him) come over. So we put him in his safe kennel, where he can relax, but it’s not the right forever life for him; it’s just not. If I keep him out with me during the gatherings, even if I hold him the entire time, although Pippin tries to adjust, he is constantly on the alert, frequently shakes, and just is stressed out. There is that part of my brain that has to be so persistently rational, and it tells me that there is a family out there who will love Pippin just as much as we do, but with less commotion most of the time. Whenever there are any extra comings and goings in our household – which is almost every other day, it seems -- you can tell that Pippin gets worried and scared. So I can’t, in good conscience, say that we are the best family for this dog. But I know that there is such a family, and hopefully that family will read all about him really soon! So let me tell you more about Pippin, what he is like, and what he needs from his forever family/person.
We don’t know a lot about Pippin’s background – all I know for certain is that he came from South Dakota, and he needed RAGOM’s help. We're accustomed to large dogs, so he’s just a little bit of a thing – as I mentioned earlier, he’s only about 20 pounds. I’m almost certain he is part Poodle because of his wavy fur that he does not shed, but I do not know what other breeds are in his mix. However, I’m willing to take a few wild guesses (I’m usually wrong on these things, so take this for what it is worth): The shape of his ears - a bit longer than a typical dog’s - make me think he might be part Cocker Spaniel. By the way, his ears are short enough that they don’t hit the water when he drinks, luckily. And he may be part hunting dog – maybe Lab, because his feet are quite big, and the shape of his body reminds me of a Lab. I’ve seen him track where my husband or I have been walking in our yard after we were gone, following/finding almost exactly wherever we walked, so that’s why I think he’s got some hunting background – he’s got that kind of nose. The next picture is from one of the times that he was tracking FM's trail across the yard, and he decided to take a little rest. I also wanted you to be able to see his entire body, especially his long, cute, white-tipped tail.
His first few days with us were days of watchfulness on both our parts – he was very skittish, and he continues to be generally wary. However, he was also immediately sweet, and responsive to gentle words and attention – he gave me kisses the very first day. We were watching to see what kind of dog he was, and whether he was potty trained, and what kind of temperament he might have. He worried me greatly that first day because he did not want to eat or drink – I was willing to be patient about the eating, but he had to take a drink, and when he finally did on the second day, after almost 16 hours with us, whew, he saved me from making a panicked call to the vet.
We soon learned that he was not house-trained. Before he came to RAGOM, I believe Pippin may have lived outside most of the time, because at first, he just went to the bathroom wherever he was. So for the first few weeks, we spent a lot of time being leashed together, which had a side benefit of enhancing our bond, but mainly helped me understand Pippin’s signs for when he needs to go outside to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, his signals are not crystal clear; he just acts more nervously than usual, and then paces just a little bit. Once he starts pacing, he usually goes within a minute or two, so you really have to be paying close attention.
Because Pippin’s signals are a bit hard to read, we’ve concentrated on praising him for going poop and potty outside, but even more importantly, making sure he is let out regularly. When that happens, he doesn’t have any accidents anymore – with one caveat: His diet also has to be consistent and cannot include anything except dog food. We’ve learned through trial and error that most dog treats, even the expensive and “healthy” ones, give Pippin diarrhea, and then he has accidents, poor boy. Luckily, he now thinks that his regular kibble is a treat, so we just use a few pieces of that to motivate him. His kibble is just one of the Kirkland “A” rated brands – excellent quality, but not too expensive – but Pippin’s stomach must be a little bit sensitive, so his humans need to watch and be cautious about anything he might eat. For example, we have to be careful about not letting him help us clean up any people food that accidentally drops on the floor, and he is very interested in the dirty dishes when I’m loading the dishwasher, so I have to shoo him away from there.
Pippin can make it 8 hours overnight without an accident, and up to 5-6 hours during the day - we haven’t tested him for longer during the day, and I don’t know if I’d want him to have to wait any longer than that. Most days, we are able to make sure that he does not have to wait any longer than 4 hours for a potty break. As a smaller dog, his bladder is also smaller, and so he needs to eliminate more frequently. His forever family must either be home to let him out regularly, or be willing to use and train Pippin to use puppy pads.
Because we figured out the connection between the treats and his accidents/diarrhea only about a week ago, I’m not going to say that he’s fully potty trained yet. But I can tell you that I do not feel the need to check on him or watch him closely anymore; I just need to be aware of letting him out regularly. Having said that, he does occasionally pee submissively, especially with my husband, aka FD. It was all the time at first, and now, even though Pippin’s tail frequently goes thump-thump-thump against the furniture with wagging when he sees FD, he still leaks a little sometimes. It’s not constant anymore, and it hasn’t happened for about two weeks now, and we do not know what sets him off. My whole family, including FD, knows that Pippin is just trying to convey appeasement, so when it happens, we don’t say anything; we know that Pippin is not aware that he peed, and it’s usually just a few drops – he was just so afraid that it came out. We simply clean it up, and try to help Pippin feel comfortable, and less scared.
As time goes on, he is becoming more playful, even comical, and he is ever so charming. He loves to explore, and has decided to adopt a small bush just outside the edge of our lawn as his very own. It’s still on our property, but just a part that we do not mow. It’s so very cute, the way he tromps the tall grass down around, and then sits there, under his bush, grinning out at the world. I tried to get a picture, but it does not do justice to how darling he is when he is claiming his bush.
He has several good things going for him. The main thing that you should know is that Pippin is gentle, and oh, so lovable. He loves to give kisses to the humans he likes, and if he loves you, they can be almost countless – to your hands, face, arms. We are working on the “enough” command, because even though it is hard to believe, there can be too many kisses. What usually happens with me is that when I sit down with Pippin, he wants to show me how much he loves me, so he proceeds to give me lots of kisses while I pet him. After about 30 to 60 seconds, I’ve usually had enough of kisses, so I tell him “enough” – which doesn’t always work, but he usually gets the idea after a short time. I want Pippin to learn that he will get positive attention from me without anything in return from him, so I usually try to pet him, rub his belly, or brush him for a few more minutes, so long as he is not frantically licking or trying to get my attention in a needy way. We’re talking maybe 3 minutes, up to five minutes, maximum. Then he normally lies down nearby – so that he has a good vantage point in case I decide to go to a different room. Once he lies down, Pippin is content, and does not seek attention again until I get up or move away. Pippin seems to need to give affection, so please know that Pippin’s forever home human(s) must be the type that can handle a few (or a lot of) sweet doggy kisses, and I will be predisposed to people or families that would love to get them, but who also know that he is needy and scared, and that he needs to be gently but firmly stopped after a while. Note that these are not big, slobbery kisses, they are delicate, little, gentle tokens of affection, which are easy to handle, in my opinion.
While I’m on the topic of Pippin’s lovability, I do need to note that he has decided that while other members of the family are great to have around, he does love FM the best. I point this out because my niece and nephew, now in their late 20s, have discussed with me how tough it was for them as children, when, having finally convinced their mother to adopt a dog, a small Toy Poodle dog named Binky, well, the dog promptly decided that their mother was the only person for him, and Binky ignored both kids and visitors for the rest of his days. Pippin doesn’t ignore other family members; he’s more accepting than that, but he does favor FM, that’s for sure. I don’t know why this happened, and he does accept other members of the family happily and joyfully, but he doesn’t follow them around and depend on them in the same way that he depends on FM. Wherever FM goes, Pippin follows. If someone else calls to him, he rarely leaves FM’s side. He likes it when people he knows and trusts sit down and talk with FM, people that he knows, such as FD or those nice college kids that live here. However, he gets nervous if anyone tries to take him away from FM, even if they are going to do something wonderful, like take him for a walk. Once he is on the walk, he is fine, and acts normally. But FM holds a special place in his heart. I believe it’s because FM feeds him, and because of all the tethering (being leashed together) that we did early on. I tell you this because, if you have more than one person in your family, there is the possibility that Pippin may become more strongly attached to one of you than the others. And if that is a problem, then Pippin may not be the right dog for your family.
Pippin is quite sweet, and although he startles around anyone new, he is gentle with all the humans that he knows, including children. My 4-year-old grandniece, who is afraid of some dogs, just adores Pippin. She is at our house almost every weekend, and she has learned very appropriate behavior around dogs. For Pippin’s part, he has decided that he likes her, too, which I can tell because his tail starts wagging when she approaches him. However, he does get nervous when children are playing and their voices and spirits get high and excited. And screaming or loud voices, even when the voices are playful and happy, terrify poor Pippin. So while I think he can be around young children, he should not live with them – it’s not fair to expect children to be quiet most of the time, and it’s not fair to expect Pippin to adapt.
Although he is afraid of loud voices, and, indeed, any strange or new noise, Pippin is not afraid of storms – he has many other fears, but thunder and lightning do not seem to bother him. We had a nasty thunderstorm as I typed part of this (on an unplugged laptop), and while he raised his head at some of the loudest booms, he mostly just slept through it all. The only time he got nervous during the storm was when the wind was so strong that it was pushing through the seals around the windows, which created one of those new and unusual noises.
Pippin can learn pretty quickly, and is very willing and eager to please – at least for FM. We have a room that is off limits to all dogs, and it only took him a few days to figure out that he is not allowed in there. It helps that we were 100% consistent about the rules, and that he got treats and attention for complying with the rules. Still, I think that’s pretty impressive for an outdoor dog! We are able to leave the doors open to the forbidden room without fear that he will attempt a break-in. I should note, though, that we haven’t attempted to teach him a lot of commands, because I think it’s been overwhelming for him to learn basic things like potty training and the fact that people will be good to him, and he does not need to be constantly afraid and on the alert. So far, we’ve started to work on “come” and “kennel up” – both with only partial success. FM has better success than the rest of the family, but now that I think (hope) we have the potty training figured out, we will start working on more commands – starting with “sit.”
It would be best if Pippin has a fenced-in yard, for his own safety. You may wonder at this, because he is such a docile dog, but he is also fearful, and with those fears comes a tendency to try to bolt – which Pippin has done twice while with us. The first time he ran over ¾ of a mile away, and crossed a busy county road before FD caught up with him, and the second time he took refuge in the tall weeds near a swamp across the road from our house. Getting him back home was not fun either time. Additionally, one of Pippin’s few negatives is that he does not always come when called. Sometimes it’s because he is scared – a new sound or sight can easily set him off and make him afraid to approach, and sometimes those smells in the bushes are just so interesting, you know? A fence will help ensure that Pippin stays safe and sound. A tie-out will not work unless it is a chain tie-out. Pippin can bite through ropes in about 20 seconds. He cannot be left with alone with a leash on – he will chew through it in no time at all. I’ve included a picture of the leash leftovers that he chewed through before we figured out that he is such a Houdini. He does OK on walks with a leash, because he is so interested in the walking and smelling that he doesn’t pay any attention to the leash. However, if you stop and, say, start chatting with a neighbor, you might need to also start paying attention to Pippin, because he just might start chewing on the leash. By the way, when we go for our walks, well, Pippin is really going for smells, because he often likes to walk along with his nose to the ground, smelling and smelling and smelling.
Pippin is good with cats, and is OK with other confident dogs, and is also OK as an only dog. Our resident cat is very dog-savvy, and while she does not actively like dogs, she allowed Pippin to come right up to her and they exchanged sniffs, which would not have happened in the first place if Pippin were the least bit of a threat to her. We do not have a resident dog, but we do dog-sit for relatives, and dogs often come to family gatherings. Pippin’s encounters with other dogs usually start off politely, but then Pippin usually does some growling, and then things settle down. He even growled at a 3-month-old puppy who was showing all kinds of subservient play behavior. With Mindy, a confident 5-year-old Sheltie/Border Collie dog that we were watching for a few days, there was a short 30-second kerfuffle, and then the two dogs mostly ignored each other. Mindy, though, was a good example to Pippin for how you are supposed to behave while out on a walk, so I will be forever grateful to her. Gypsy was the best, though. Gypsy is a 2-year-old Lab/Min Pin/who-knows-what mix, who is extremely playful. Pippin didn’t growl; he peed submissively when he met her, but she seemed to ignore that, and she immediately tried to get him to play with her. Pippin seemed curious and dumbfounded by Gypsy, and he didn’t know what to do or how to act. She kept on trying to get him to chase her, or play wrestle, or do anything. And then, guess what? He started to chase her! Then he slowed down, looked around, and started after her again. Then he must have become scared, because he stopped, but for about 1 whole minute there, he forgot all about the rest of the world, and he just played! It did my heart so much good to see that!!
Another thing that Pippin is good with is car rides. We’ve taken several short rides, and a few longer ones up north, and predictably, he just wants to be near his people. He likes to settle down near my feet, and then he rides quietly the entire way. When I’m driving, he’s a bit more of a problem, because settling near my feet is not an option because he would be in the way of the gas and brake pedals, so he needs to be leashed or kenneled for those rides. Once he figures out that he can’t be underfoot, then he usually settles down wherever I’ve directed him to lie down, and again, he travels well for the duration of the ride.
As he comes out of his shell, he has started to learn some behaviors that are typical of most dogs. For instance, for the first 6 weeks, Pippin ignored the garbage, but then he started noticing if any napkins or food wrappers were thrown away that still had crumbs clinging to them. So FM had to start being careful to throw away food-related garbage into the garbage can that’s covered. And we’re teaching Pippin that tissues are not something that he can take out of the smaller garbage cans. So far, he seems to have learned the lesson pretty well.
Another thing that we are still working on is teaching Pippin how to play with dog toys. I think most dogs like to chew on or play with dog-approved items from time to time, but Pippin had shown no inclination to do so, none whatsoever. We tried balls, and Nylabones, and Kong toys, and stuffed animals, and ropes, and Frisbees, and rubber toys, and tug toys, and every kind of toy that was in the toy basket. But nothing worked, Pippin showed no interest in any of them. That is, until we were out of town, then he decided to chew on a C-PAP mask, which is a piece of human medical equipment, and which happens to have soft rubbery parts that are attached to hard plastic parts. After all the items we had offered him, I’m sure Pippin just thought he could chew on anything that aroused his fancy. It was a learning experience for all of us – just because Pippin hasn’t found a toy he likes yet doesn’t mean he never will. FM and FD just have to make sure that it’s something safer to chew, and less expensive (!) than medical equipment!
Because of the potty-training issues, and also because of his fears, Pippin still sleeps in his kennel, and he is mostly happy to do so, especially if his favorite people are nearby. He would always rather be with his people, but he does crate pretty easily, especially if there are a few pieces of kibble given as a reward for going into the kennel. He does not exactly have free-roam rights yet, but he is slowly earning those rights, now that we trust his potty training. Just this morning, Pippin was left alone in the main part of the house while FM got ready for work, and all was well when FM came out of the bedroom, so Pippin will gradually be allowed to be out of his kennel and unsupervised for longer periods.
Pippin is mostly healthy, except for the diarrhea, which I’m 97% sure we have all figured out now. When he came to RAGOM, he had a double ear infection which took two rounds of antibiotics to clear up. With his long, curly hair, the vet said he may be prone to them, and it’s something to watch for. But other than that, he’s good. He will be getting neutered really soon, hopefully within the next week. As soon as that’s done, he will be ready to be adopted.
What Pippin needs is a home where the humans understand shy dogs, with some puppy-mill characteristics. He needs people who will take the time and have the necessary patience to make him feel safe so that he can relax. This might take days or even weeks to accomplish. He needs a household where there will be predictability, and not as much activity as there is at FM's house. It would be best if Pippin could continue to be exposed to some new situations, so that he can learn that a fearful response does not need to be his first reaction. Pippin needs a family/person who will be patient with him, especially with behaviors like potty training and submissive peeing – he is likely to regress a little bit when he transitions to a new home. He also needs a family that understands the power of positive reinforcement. He needs a physical fence, because he is likely to bolt when he becomes scared, and a fence would help keep him safe.
So let’s review:
On the negative side: Has a sensitive stomach. Startles easily. Prefers fewer changes and a household with less activity and more predictability than FM’s. Is unlikely to “show” well, due to his skittishness around strangers and new situations.
On the positive side: Sweet little guy, perfect size for cuddling. Doesn’t shed. Gentle and loving. Healthy. Potty trained, or soon will be. Crate trained. Loves car rides. Doesn’t mind thunderstorms. Loves to take leisurely strolls around the block. And when I take him for walks, people often comment on his handsome good looks. Good with cats. OK with other dogs. Yes, he does get startled, but he is also starting to learn to trust, and so he is letting his curiosity and newfound faith in humankind lend him confidence. Not all the time, but it’s coming, in bits and pieces, and sometimes in great big steps. Plus, he’s totally lovable and completely adorable.
In addition to the love and wonderful companionship that Pippin’s forever family will get, there is another reward: You get to look at this face, every day! So let Placement know if you would like to meet Pippin!