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.

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