In early February, my husband and I decided to buy a dog. It was a whim to do it NOW, but we had been talking about getting a dog for four years. We knew we wanted a medium-sized young adult (two to four years old) rescue who already had potty-training, obedience-training, and crate-training mastered. We need a dog who specifically would be good with strangers in our home. We started with local SPCA, but ultimately decided that they did not have the right dog for us. Then we started working with local rescues in search of our fur-baby.
As it turns out, within a week, we were smitten with a red and white foxhound mix. He was described as friendly, sweet, and trained. The only concern was that he was under two. Somewhere between one and two years. The listing wasn’t specific and the rescue had only picked him up a day or two before we found him, so they were still working out all of his details. We were actually on a waiting list, but the people ahead of us had cats and this dog does not like cats, so we were able to meet him.
This puppy, who ended up being under one year old, was as sweet and friendly as described. He gives hugs and loves to sit close for lots of petting and attention, though I wouldn’t describe him as a cuddler. Because of he had been abandoned, his name was unknown. We decided to name the little puppy Coby and he instantly responded with joy to his name. When I said his new name for the first time, he cam bounding toward me with the happiest look you have ever seen. We knew at that moment he was the puppy for us.
We found out that Coby was abandoned the day after Christmas. <tug on the heart strings!> His family had been foreclosed on and they left him behind. When the repossessors came, they found him locked in the house. We don’t know how long he was in there. He was then taken to a high kill-shelter, which isn’t a thing in my state, where my local rescue found him and partnered with another shelter in the south to rescue him. He was put in an animal hospital for a few days (he needed neutered), then was fostered down south until arrangements could be made to bring him north. He was then shipped up here, fostered with a family for three days, then adopted by my husband and I.
Needless to say, with a history like that, the honeymoon with Coby lasted exactly two days. We discovered that he was only potty-trained, not crate- or obedience-trained. During those first two days, we walked, did lots of petting, and took lots of naps. He had boundless energy for the hour or two that he was awake, then he would collapse into a four hour nap. On day three, everything changed. He started chewing everything in our house, biting us (not terribly hard, but definitely not playfully), barking at anything and everything, and overall, Coby was simply miserable. The only time he seemed even remotely happy was when he was outside, preferably playing with the neighborhood dogs. No amount of playing with him, entertaining him, walking with him, or loving on him seemed to help. He was making us miserable, and the only time we were happy was when he was in his crate. Not the best way to start.
My husband went away for a weekend trip at the end of Week 2 and I was fully prepared to call the rescue and say that things weren’t working. The bruises on my arms made it clear that things weren’t working. My husband left Thursday afternoon and by Thursday night, I called him in tears. It was bad. This weekend happened to be the same weekend the North got hit with amazing 70-80 degree weather. I spent most of it outside just to appease my crazy, unhappy dog.
Now, at this point, I had already given myself the speech about how we had adopted this dog and it was a permanent decision. We needed to work through it. But I knew that if I wanted to eat, I was going to feel it. I knew that I had done literally nothing but monitor the dog for two weeks. No after-hours school work, no Tpt product creation. I had hardly left the house. I was willing to admit defeat. After all, it is possible that this wasn’t the right dog for us. We might not be the right family for him.
That warm February weekend I found myself sitting on a park bench next to a lady, who happened to have adopted her dog from the same rescue as Coby. Her dog had been adopted at a similar age and had similar struggles early on. It took about six months for her dog to really come around, and from what she could tell Coby seemed to be doing great for his first two weeks. We talked and I might have cried, and this sweet total stranger talked me into giving him more time to come around. So I recommitted to giving this horribly behaved dog a chance, and somewhere in that change of heart/mind, the puppy and I bonded. I didn’t realize it right away. Two days after my husband returned, I needed to sequester myself into my office to get something done, and the dog laid outside my door the entire four hours I was in the room.
It took my husband and the dog another two weeks to bond and now we are a happy family… most of the time. Coby has great days and really bad moments, but we are making progress. He goes into his crate willingly now, but doesn’t walk well on a leash. He has stopped biting almost entirely, but has chewed through almost all of the toys we bought him. He ran away on Monday, but stopped every few moments to make sure I was following him. He has learned a few commands, like coming on command, sitting, and laying down. We are at 50% or higher success rate, which is better than never a month ago. (The success rate is like 99% when I have a treat in my hand.)
I feel like we can finally say that Coby is settling in. He is the most popular dog in the neighborhood because of how friendly he is. His tail starts going crazy when he sees his friends, and he even has a bestie – a cute female lab mix. He likes to talk to our neighbor’s dog through the walls of our townhouse. Last night was the first time he slept outside of the crate on his bed and he did great.
It has not been an easy or fun road, but we are making progress. Tomorrow night we start obedience classes and this puppy has definitely found his forever home.