Life after rescue: Dodger, happy at last

February 21, 2009

Six months ago, Dodger came into my life and home. On Valentine’s Day, my sweet boy turned five. To celebrate both events, he disemboweled a new stuffie.

Like most dogs, he’s been a blessing and a pain in the patootie. Three months or so ago I mentioned that he had stopped humping other dogs at the dog park. Note to self: Never display such stupid hubris, and never announce something like this aloud, much less publicly. That day he went to the park and humped a dog. He humped my cat the next day, and two dogs the day after that. We went into back to the training drawing board. He’s been great about not doing it lately, but never again will I state that he doesn’t do it anymore.

The other change at the dog park is that he used to go far, far away from me while running off his anxiety. Now he stays fairly close to me, something I hadn’t realized until someone mentioned it.

I’ve pondered the vast difference between the abandoned, anxious, and scared dog he was and the happy-go-lucky boy snoozing in front of me. He would run crazed in the back yard and chew lattice to burn off his anxiety. Now he runs around declaring that the back yard is his, but there’s no anxiety that I can see except when we visit the vet. I hate it that he is still hand shy when I move my hand towards him to pet the side of his head; it’s an almost unconscious action of mine. Ginger eagerly leans her head into my hand, and I hope Dodger will too someday.

His hip joints stuck out when rescue took him in, and he was only there for a week. Putting weight on the anxious Mr. Finicky was tough – being anxious burns a ton of calories – and I missed the subtle changeover when his anxiety subsided. Now his ribs are a bit too padded. When the snow and ice melt, The Blur will return and he can run it off.

The characterization of an English setter as mischievous is dead-on accurate. When the snow in the back yard melts in the spring, I will recover some underwear. He likes to chew paper, used tissue in particular (“Good thing you have allergies, mom, because I like dried snot”), but magazine inserts, pay stubs, and grocery lists are good. Someday I will have to confess to a client that “My dog ate my check, can you reissue?” Dodger’s attention-getting maneuvers generally include “I have your sock/paper/bra/dishtowel/yarn/etc.”  Neener neener neener. I wish he didn’t like underwear so much, but I like my new ones. And yes, if I was neater he wouldn’t get so much stuff, but that’s not going to change.

His favorite activity, other than running at high speed, is disemboweling stuffed toys and methodical destruction of non-stuffies. Balls are fine, particularly when they belong to another dog, but disemboweling is highly preferred. I buy stuffies when I see them in clearance bins because it makes him happy to shred them. A boy has got to do what makes him happy (that does not include being a bully and humping other dogs).

I chose Dodger to share my life because I thought he might make a good therapy dog. That remains to be seen in the next chapter. Now that we’ve turned the corner in terms of anxiety, he knows he is truly my boy and this is his home, and that’s what matters the most.

Filed under: behavior and training — Phyllis DeGioia @ 9:07 am


  1. I [heart] Dodger.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 21, 2009 @ 10:26 am

  2. Wow, sounds like a certain deaf pointer I adopted out of the shelter about 4 years ago. Sure they are not related? Hector is so much calmer, but the disembowling and chasing the invisibugs in my back yard will remain his trademark.

    Comment by Katrina — February 21, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  3. What IS it with the used tissues? Pepper will root through the recycling box to find mine — it’s almost better than treats!

    I buy replacement squeakers and then sew up the toys once Pepper had disembowled them. They look pretty funny, but she enjoys ripping them apart again. She’s so used to me mending her toys that when I got out the needle and thread and mended some clothes, she was quite miffed — needle and thread was supposed to mean more toys for HER! ;-D

    Comment by Dorene — February 21, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  4. YES! I’m not the only one with a “snot dog”!!!!! For some reason I find her tissue hunting and “cleaning” much more disgusting than her vomit cleanup patrols (kitty eats too fast, pukes, spotted vomit patrol swoops in and does a clean sweep before I can even focus on getting a paper towel). And I think this is the first time I have ever admitted this snot habit of hers {outloud}.

    And, now I’m off to dry off my keyboard protector as it seems said spotted one drooled all over it when we were sharing cheese earlier. Slimy keyboards = YUCK!!!!!!!

    Comment by straybaby — February 21, 2009 @ 9:38 pm

  5. While getting ready to shower the other morning, I watched as the underpants I just removed acquired 4 legs and trotted out of the bathroom, to be nibbled at leisure on the dog bed next to the wood stove. And as for used kleenex, it’s got to go in the wood stove or down the toilet and Never into a wastebasket. And you should see the system I have to protect the kitty box closets from unauthorized canine entry! My smallest dog weighs less than either of my cats, so this is a real challenge. I hate “kitty-rocha” breath. However, the paper shredder extraordinaire in my house is my simaese cross. He particularly relishes paper back book covers. Chomp, gnaw.
    Glad to see handsome Dodger is learning how to be a happy dog!

    Comment by Anne T — February 22, 2009 @ 5:49 am

  6. Sewing up ripped stuffies with dental floss rather than thread helps them last longer.

    I am so glad to know that other dogs steal underwear and eat used tissue. Good grief!

    Comment by Phyllis DeGioia — February 22, 2009 @ 8:42 am

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