It's True, Dogs and Their Owners Do Become Alike. Mine Bites.

Categories: Schutze

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Not much sleep last night. Wide awake at 4 a.m., hiding beneath the sheets. A pretty sad state of affairs when a fellow of my years has to hide under his own bedding to avoid being bitten in the face by a dog.

But there you have it. Rescue dogs. Two of them. It's how my wife and I handle things. I liked the sullen blue healer-mix with the scary eyes. She liked the doe-eyed terrier-mix with the George Rodrigue ears. (I refer to the other George Rodrigue, who does the Blue Dog paintings.)

My own rescue dog snaps at my face in my sleep. Not sure what triggers it. Snoring? Or is she just sitting there the whole time thinking about biting my nose off? Does it build on her? Something about my face in particular? My sleeping facial expression somehow triggers attack mode? You try sleeping with that.

It's not just me. I am even comforted, in a strange way, by the fact that she bites other people too. I respect that. I think it's what I secretly admire in her. Dogs are our proxies, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

We have found at our house that it changes the whole dynamic of receiving visitors when you have to say at the door, "I'm sorry, but try not to make any fast moves around that one." My wife doesn't like it a bit. I'm agnostic. No one forces them to visit.

jims dog dorothy.jpg
Jim's dog Dorothy. Oddly, that's the same chops-licking face he makes when he's about to write something about John Wiley Price.
Her dog is sweet and mild beyond compare but still has some pretty wacko rescue dog traits, if you ask me. In a former life, somebody did something very mean to this dog about coming back into the house from the back yard. When you open the door, she curls up in a corkscrew on her back in a way that says plaintively, "Please, oh Lady and Sir, do not beat me for asking to come back into your fine and warm house."

Oh, jeez. What can you even say to that? It could be a ploy for those fake bacon treats. If so, it works. Of the two, she's the one with a case of the chubs.

My rescue dog is much more straightforward. Bounds in exuberantly, maybe gives you a passing little nip on the shank -- nothing to break the skin, just a bit of a hair-snatcher. Quick little ouch.

My dog has been ruined, by the way, for visits to East Texas, because I was forced by other household personnel to rename her "Dorothy." Dorothy! Who names a dog Dorothy? It was posed as some kind of compromise. If we keep the biter, she's going to be named Dorothy. Like that will somehow ameliorate?

I had her out there in a small East Texas town one time, and she got away from me. I was afraid she would bite somebody, which in East Texas is a 12-gauge offense. So I'm walking around this small East Texas town angrily shouting, "DOROTHY! DOROTHY!"

Maybe you don't get the problem. In East Texas, Dorothy is not a dog name. Ever. It's not even possible. People there name their dogs after power tools, like "Makita," or "DeWalt," pronounced DEEwalt. A guy walking around town in Dallas clothes yelling "Dorothy!" is a 12-gauge molester. Anyway, I got her back in the damn truck and took off in time.

Our own Anna Merlan has written about this in a much more comprehensive and responsible way than I am, but based on our experiences with these dogs, here's what I wonder: Is it possible that rescue dogs are crazy less because of what they have been rescued from than what they have been rescued to? I speak of the rescue agency persons.

The guy we got Dorothy from turned out to be OK and quite responsible, but the lady from whom we got the sweet but cringing Penny, our mixed-up terrier, was a galloping loon. Plus, she withheld records from us which would have shown that the dog had heart worms, a trauma from which the dog and we seem to be from recovering. (Please note, Dear Bad Rescue Lady, that you are not named here. I suggest you keep it that way.)

Our vet suggested to us that the heartrending work of rescuing dogs may actually drive people a little bit wacko. They take a huge burden into their hearts, against a culture that can be terribly callous toward animals. But then do they become a worse affliction to the animals themselves, because they're so damned nuts?

Word of advice. Never ever take a dog or cat from a rescue person without a sincere reference from someone you know and trust. Otherwise, assume rescue psychosis.

At 4 o'clock this morning, semi-delirious from sleep deprivation, cringing under a quilt anticipating a sudden clamping of sharp little teeth on my snout, I could see how it happens.

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51 comments
Training Dog Leash
Training Dog Leash

Super agree with these . I do believe that only those with the same feather flock together . Thanks for sharing this wonderful article . Inspiring . :)

Parisrec
Parisrec

My daughter rescued a lab rat from school. I flipped out at first but before long the sight of my daughter walking around the house with the rat nestled in her sleeve was wonderful!

Weezwas2001
Weezwas2001

  Rats, I was most surprised to find, make really excellent pets.Good for your daughter, and even more good for you for keeping an open mind! Learning is a lifelong process!

LaceyB
LaceyB

Dogs, and rats (apparently), breed responsibiliy, love, and care in children today. As a former teacher, and current student, I see that look of "fail" when people do not live up to the most basic responsibility, such as doing hw. You were good to let her keep the animal. It will only help her grow to become a better person and more responsible citizen.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall

Got my dog from the pound (an abandoned 8-10 month old stray headed for the death chamber); 10 years ago.  100% american mutt, part blue heeler, part beagle, all dog.  A damn good dog.   Never, never never buy a do from a breeder.

Ed D.
Ed D.

We got an older rescued Chow Chow from West Texas Chow Rescue and he was the single best thing to ever happen in our lives. Yes, he came bundled with quirks but he found us fairly easy to train and his love was absolute. He never did warm up to the idea of strangers (he'd have to meet you a few times before you could pet him) except for my mother. The first time they met, he walked right up and buried his head in her lap. (Smart dog.)

Albert
Albert

Put some quinine on where they're likely to bite. If the animal doesn't stop in 72 hours or less, you should probably shoot it.

JimS
JimS

Quinine on my face when I go to bed at night?

JimS
JimS

Where do you get quinine these days? Is it true it's in gin and tonics?

Weezwas2001
Weezwas2001

 Not sure about tonic, but there is such a thing as quinine water. Same thing?Only way to know for sure is to knock back a few before bedtime and see how it goes! You may wake up without a nose, but at least you'll sleep well!

By the  way, best rescue dog, by far for me, was a retired racing greyhound.

LaceyB
LaceyB

I am on my very first AKC mini-beagle, whose name is 30 letters long, and, while filling out the paperwork, I almost went loony looking at all their details. I just wanted a damn dog! 

I have never had anything but rescues, I had planned to have a rescue again (if not for a very computer-happy grampy who saw the little granddog online that could be shipped to DFW with two computer clicks) following the death of my last small rescue beagle, who was my life.

Anyway, this little AKC is developing into one damn cute dog--spots everywhere, even the fingernails, but when he is cute, he is supercute--puppy kisses, snuggles, tucks himself into bed at 7pm--and when he is not cute, he eats and shits on EVERYTHING three hundred times a day, and there is no rest for the weary.

I'm hoping that my boy will grow up (fast!) and not be too high maintenance. I felt fine when I bought him off the website (if kinda weirded out about buying something living off a website), and I talked to the lady, and everything seemed fine. Paperwork looked a little uneven, but OK.He came with ear mites or something, but, nothing drastic that didn't come out with ear drops. Beagles get infected ears at least once a year or so. 6 mos later, I go back on their webpage to see if a new litter had come in--I mean, these babies were precious. The website was gone. I googled it, and found that someone had filed a nasty complaint letter against the breeder, and further, had put their tales all over the internet.

I never really had any problems. They overreacted. I do call the dog "Bitey McBiterson" on occasion.  

Honeybee
Honeybee

I cannot tell you how much I love your dog stories.

Puppies bite like crazy and then you find their little teeth everywhere.  So cute.

Puppies are second only to babies, which I do not recommend unless you have a husband who is totally on board with getting up super early and changing/feeding the baby while you sleep and rest up for the looooong day ahead.

And then, once your kids are teenagers and just kind of sulk at you ("Spaghetti for dinner?  Again?  I hate spaghetti!"), you get another puppy and it becomes the baby of the family.

Then the chewing, biting, and shitting is kind of cute.  And no big deal, since you will never have to pay for college for the puppy.  

LaceyB
LaceyB

Probably because I love my dogs and writing about them. Awww now that just sounds kinda sad for a Friday night. It is what it is, though. At least it sounds like you have the strength to raise children--and you should be commended for that.

Maybe Unfair Park is just fine without Wilonsky. I sure hope so. I'd miss this place a lot.

az
az

Blue heeler.  Not "healer."  Geez, even your dogs have Jesus complexes.

JimS
JimS

Ours is actually a Bleu Heeler. East Dallas, you know.

Honeybee
Honeybee

Wonderful writing.I laughed and laughed.

-We once knew a country dog named Dually.  His collar was an old leather belt.

-Don't think of her as "Dorothy" (we had a friend who named his lab Richard, btw).  Instead, think of her as Ador-othy-ble.  She is too cute.

-We have an indoor dog crate and when it's too cold to leave our dog out, all we have to say is "Kennel up!" AND HE DOES IT.  We are totally not sure how we taught him that.

Dogs are so great.

Dogsave
Dogsave

Jim, I'm very sorry that you had a bad experience with a rescue organization.  I assume it was an actual organization and not just some random person who said they "rescue" dogs, right?  Because like with any other transaction, the consumer bears at least some of the responsibility for doing a little research and knowing where something as important as a new member of the family was coming from.  Any responsible rescue organization would not only have been upfront with you about the dog's health status, but would have treated the heartworms as part of your adoption fee.  

It's true, not all rescues are created equal.  But it's been my experience that for every "animal rescue psychotic" out there, you can find 100 of us trying very hard to be professional and responsive to our adopters and the community.  The same certainly cannot be said of the breeding industry, which unfortunately is where an article like this will drive your readers when they go looking for their next dog.  Your dogs were lucky that they found you.  An article like this will no doubt cause many homeless dogs to die in the shelters...and despite what you infer here, most of them are NOT biters.  Now who's the irresponsible one?

As for your dog's behavior, I hope you do seek some professional training help, and from someone who won't make it worse through punishment and forceful training methods like Cesar Millan.  Most dogs bite out of fear, so if she is constantly trying to bite people it's likely she is constantly afraid.  I commend you for being committed to her and not simply dumping her off like many people would do, but I feel sorry for her living that way.  You, not so much, since you are the only one in the situation with the power to change it.

LaceyB
LaceyB

We use Cesar's "pack method" in training our dogs. They really do raise each other. Then, you lead them as the "pack leader", which is what dogs crave. I must agree that Cesar's method is highly overused in a bad way, but, if you want happy dogs--excercise them, lead them, and let them learn from each other by setting one dominant and the others will follow.

JimS
JimS

Well, this is a pretty well known rescue operation,  takes money from non-profits for heartworm treatment. In our case, we got the heartworms, but they kept the money. She had the same argument you have suggested: that if we criticised her in any way, we would be reponsible for hundreds of dogs dying at the pound. That's a bit too convenient, I'm afraid. So she can cheat on the money, mislead people about pets and put puppies out there that will keel over from heart attacks, but nobody can criticise her because she's a dog rescuer. I think your community should spend more time trying to come up with a sound system of standards and licensing and less time invoking sainthhood as a defense.   

DFWAnimalRescue
DFWAnimalRescue

 Did you let the non-profit that provided the money for the heartworm treatment know?  I think you should.  They need to know if the funds they are providing are being misused. 

Dogsave
Dogsave

Please don't misunderstand...I'm all for calling out a group or individual who makes us all look bad.  Rescuers who don't conduct themselves in a professional manner do us all a disservice, and especially the animals they should be serving.  My problem is with the generalization.  I'm no saint but I'm not a lunatic either.  For the record, I absolutely agree about a system of standards and some of us are actually working toward that already. 

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Frankly, I am amazed.

Jim didn't blame the suburbs, President Bush or Karl Rove for his dog's problems.  Is this progress?

Weezwas2001
Weezwas2001

 Actually, Jim was just showing some digression here. I have it on good authority that, Dorothy is how she is because she was repeatedly, anally raped by President Bush and Karl Rove in the suburbs for many years,

Weezwas2001
Weezwas2001

 Whoops! I meant "discretion", of course!

quellepotat
quellepotat

Cute dog .  Evidentally very photogenic.

MBM
MBM

Last rescue my family got had to be put down for attacking the pre-existing dogs in the house.  Never again.

Pure bred or at least a mix from a good family.  No more rescues, can't fix crazy.

brett
brett

go ahead and use your broad brush to paint all rescues as crazy. Pay for your "pure breed" while thousands of dogs are euthanized here in Dallas every year.

rain39
rain39

Think about asking Caesar to come and whip you and your dog into pack shape.  If he can do pit bulls by the thousands he can certainly help you and Dorothy.  

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

The thing about rescuing dogs for me is, once youve done it, no matter the outcome, you realize you'd do it again in a heartbeat.  In my mind, I know the little love I can give the dog, is probably more than what it ever had in its life before. 

Rico
Rico

Couldn't have said it better. I'm on my fourth.

donw
donw

That's what crates are for Jim.

leftocenter
leftocenter

Oh my, yes the rescue ladies are loons, but God love' em.  We got a dog so amazingly sweet we had to name her Angel.  She wants nothing but affection -- we can't imagine how anyone let her go.  Does that mean I'll become sweeter over time? 

Tip for future -- if you can't lick (no pun intended) em join em...you can offer the foster a dog, and get a tryout.  The dog will never know it's an audition.

dogrescuer
dogrescuer

Exactly what we did: fostered the world's sweetest beagle for the outstanding Richardson Humane Society and pretty quickly decided to adopt her.  By the way:  http://www.richardsonhumanesoc... is worthy of any support you can give, time and/or money 

bh
bh

"A guy walking around town in Dallas clothes yelling "Dorothy!" is a 12-gauge molester."That accurately describes my upbringing in Texhoma. (the area, not the town)

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

Jim, thank you to you and your wife for taking care of rescue animals

just sayin'
just sayin'

Actually, Jim, a dog name like Dorothy in East Texas is not as impossible as you like to say. I knew plenty of people that had dogs of all shapes and sizes that sounded like their names belonged on a nursing home roster. It was pretty common to find a dog with a 3 syllable name that was named after someones great grandfather's brother or after someones favorite historical figure/athlete/singer. You love painting with a wide brush when it comes to white people. That would be like me saying that most people in South Dallas have pitbulls with names like Felony or Escobar. But that would make me raycess, huh?

Daniel
Daniel

Jim Schutze: first urban resident in human history to make fun of rural people.

Grumpydemo
Grumpydemo

"just sayin'" is not a credit to his race.

Even gives white trailer trash a bad name.

just sayin'
just sayin'

Great reply. I have so much respect for guys that say stuff behind a keyboard that they would never in a million years say to someones face. It adds so much weight to your pointless insult.

RTGolden
RTGolden

The irony in this comment is overwhelming.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

I have a bull snake named Eleanor, a rescue of a sort. I pulled her out of the way of oncoming traffic in Colorado, and named in honor of my aunt, who terrorized all us kids in the family but who was herself terrified of snakes. Eleanor -- the snake, not my aunt -- bit me only once, when she confused my hand for a mouse. She apologized immediately.

JimS
JimS

You white people are just so terribly sensitive all the time. You're never going to be popular that way.

just sayin'
just sayin'

"A guy walking around town in Dallas clothes yelling "Dorothy!" is a 12-gauge molester." So you and your big city clothes stick out in East Texas? I had know idea that you wore tight $200 blue jeans with ornate designs on the back pocket and 100 dollar tshirts that are 2 sizes too small. I hope all those dirts roads didnt scuff your shiny shoes as you wailed for your Dorothy. Sounds to me like the damn dog was simply trying to make a break for it.

JimS
JimS

Oh, wait, I forgot. I let my wife tell me what to do,. Please forget I raised that issue.

JimS
JimS

I wanted to name her Dingo. Macho enough for you?

JimS
JimS

I'm pretty spiffy.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

As someone who's adopted a few rescues, I feel your pain. I once was the 3rd owner of a 2nd hand dog who knew how to open the fridge, snapped at people(including my mother and a 3yr old child) and barked at every brown person he came in contact with. I worked with that dog day and night to break him of his bad habits, but alas he didn't respond. I had to give that dog up for adoption, which breaks my heart to this day. 

Thank you for telling this tale jim, people should know what their getting into w/ rescues, especially canines :)

The Credible Hulk
The Credible Hulk

+1 for "3rd owner of a 2nd hand dog."

I think I'm gonna go write a song...

dogrescuer
dogrescuer

You're so funny.  I can't believe we get to read this stuff for free. 

bh
bh

The DO should make and sell "Get Off My Lawn" t-shirts. I'd buy ten. 

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