On learning a new dog

One of the highlights of fostering, for me, is getting to know a new dog. I love seeing a photo and reading a bio, and then experiencing the anticipation of how the new foster will be in real life. How will s/he fit into our family? What will his/her cutest quirks be? Biggest training challenges? Most surprising characteristics?

With a new dog, I am also always anxious to understand her/his personality so that I can try to convey it photographically and in words. One of my many untested theories is that adoptable dogs with a distinct “personality” have a magical sort of draw to them, making them more attractive to potential adopters. Our first foster, Lollie, was a classic lovable underdog. She was a big sweetheart with a sad past who had a lot of heart, and really wanted to win the world over. And she did. We dubbed her Lollie Wonderdog. Next was Gonzo. Gonzo was a pocket rocket. He was a tiny little ball of mischevious antics. He had tons of energy and didn’t much care if anybody liked him, but with that face and those ears, people just couldn’t resist.  His name became Gonzo Bunny-Ears.

TANK’s persona is still evolving, since we’ve only had him about three days and upon bringing him home, we knew much less about him than his predecessors.  He doesn’t yet have his middle name, which we like to bestow upon our fosters. So far we know that he is a big, goofy, oafish, friendly lug who is absolutely jazzed with life. Other aspects of his personality are coming out, but we are just barely starting to fit together the puzzle. It’s hard to resist, but we’re trying not to rush: the discovery is one of the best parts.

Here’s one piece of the TANK puzzle: in the house, he is an enthusiastic, bouncy youngster who is constantly moving, licking, chewing, running, and jumping. He will learn how to be a good house dog quickly, but at this point he is acting like a typical 60 pound puppy with little training. But outside? Outside he is the calmest dog I’ve ever met. He walks slowly next to me on the leash, almost never gets excited, and occasionally even decides to lay down in the grass to rest and smell the clover. And once he’s down, there is little that will convince him to get back up except his own free will.

29 responses

  1. He sounds like the perfect picnic dog! One of my dreams was to take my dog to the park and have them sit nicely while I read a book. Unfortunately, Miss M is like a cow and when outside she cannot sit still and has to eat all the grass. I wonder if Tank wasn’t allowed in the house, so he is getting used to the excitement of everything inside?

    • I was thinking the same thing!

      Reggie is just the opposite of Tank. Very calm inside, but outside he seems a bit overwhelmed. No picnics here either.

    • Hahaha! We call Shiva “Bessie” very often when she starts eating grass. It’s so weird but I guess she just really likes the taste!

  2. that is SO interesting! With all the additional new smells outside, you’d think it would be just the opposite! What do you think it is that makes him so calm outside?

  3. My dog does the same thing! If he finds a nice patch of grass, he’ll flop down in it. I have to squirt him with my water bottle to get him up.

  4. Oh those eyes!! What a story he could tell and what a great story I know you will tell of his journey with you three. My first bullie did the same thing. Once he plopped down he made us wait. I am so happy that the shelter saw something special in him and allowed him to be released. I know that there aren’t any transports up north of Pit Bulls in our area. Wonderful new home for Gonzo as well :-))

  5. When it’s hot and Mel gets tired, she’ll just plop down on any patch of grass nearby and refuse to move. It’s really embarrassing when it happens in someone’s front yard!

    Tank is too cute – I love his wrinkly forehead!

  6. Sounds like he spent a lot of time outside so is relaxed there and nothing seems new to him. As opposed to the house thing, that’s all new and fun. Keep at it the novelty will wear off. He is beyond handsome, keep the pics and puzzle pieces coming.

  7. Kudos to you cause although fostering is rewarding it sure must be VERY hard too. Giving away a pup .. We would want to keep every buddy
    Benny & Lily

  8. What an adorable guy! He could teach Flash and Ollie a thing or two about enjoying the outside! I wish I could say they could teach him some indoor manners, but I’m not so sure that’d happen!!

  9. Does he seem calm or does he plaster himself to the ground out of fear? Leche glues herself to the ground when she’s scared. I hope it’s the former and not the latter. Regardless- he’s ridiculously adorable and I can’t wait to read more about him!

    • I can say with a fairly high amount of confidence that his outside behavior is pure laziness, not fear. I would love to get his energy up, but don’t know how!

      typed telephonically. please excuse tybos.

      • Could it be the heat? My boxer wears a harness because the first summer we had him he would REFUSE to get up from a patch of shade. I’m happy to let him rest but at some point we have to get going. The harness gave us a handle to stand him up on his feet. He’s 2 now and we’ve been through two summers and winters with him. Even in the winter he loves belly-crawling down a grassy hill but in the summer – he goes for the shady hills. With him, lying in the shade and refusing to move is definitely heat related.

        He understands “stand”, so we no longer have to use the harness to get his 82lb butt off the ground!

  10. What a sweet doll face! Molly is the exact opposite, she is a complete lug indoors and a zoomie bundle of energy outside. Can’t wait to see more of this handsome face, especially some TANK and chick pictures together, awww.

  11. For sure, getting to know how a dog ticks is fascinating. Every day he will get more comfortable and more and more of his personality will develop. A lazy outside dog sounds just about perfect. I love leisurely strolls and wish my dog wasn’t always in such a hurry!

    I can’t wait to get to know more about him through your blog.

  12. You certainly foster dogs with that magical draw. I love how your spirit comes through in your writing about the dogs and how your words and pictures illuminate the dog’s spirit. It’s a beautiful journey! I’m so glad we get to see it unfold. And TANK is fantastic!

  13. According to Quizz, there is nothing better than laying in the grass, or a freshly dug hole, watching the world go by. I think he has his priorities in order. 😉

  14. What a face!! TANK’s journey will be an interesting one – and we can count on you to capture it in photos. So looking forward to taking this “ride” with you and the rest of your fans!

  15. I feel so much better after reading these comments! I thought Wilbur was the only pitty who:
    flops down in the middle of a walk and refuses to move.
    has to have major rollies every time we find a patch of grass.
    can’t seem to stand the heat and makes me look like a slave driver when I try to prod him to his feet.
    I could go on ad nauseum but let’s face it, all pitties are big babies and they deserve to be pampered!

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