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Meet B. Lou Lou, A Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog

B Lou CU(B. Lou Lou)

for sure(Adriana and B. Lou Lou)

B. Lou Lou is a homeless dog in the ICHBA network that isn’t living at the Farnival. She’s staying with another foster family. All we know about her history is that someone dumped her off at the door of the Southside Pharmacy in Springfield this winter.

In May, Donna, ICHBA’s head honcho, and I tried to take B. Lou to the 2015 Springfield Art Walk, but she was so horrible on a leash that we had to pack her back up and send her home. It was not the time or the place for training a high energy yearling that had never been tethered before.

About a week ago, Mason and I started leash training B. She’s a smart little freak. After three days, she was prancing right by my side, slack leash, matching my stride. The only time I had to correct her was when she saw a squirrel. We tested her behavior this morning by walking her with six other dogs. She did awesome, letting everybody take long sniffs of her booty, then moving beside them as though they’d been migrating together for years.

If you didn’t already guess, B. Lou Lou isn’t her real name. It’s Brandy or Brinley or something along those lines, but she is such a crazy looking dog that she deserves a crazy nickname. She wears a coat that looks like it belongs on a wild animal, white paws, and cockeyed ears. Even the name of her breed sounds funny; her foster mom says she’s part Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. What does that even mean?! 🙂

Dawn’s Red Vest: Dawn Update 2

Dawn star(Dawn)

On Friday morning Dawn sat next to the kitchen door and patiently waited for me to reach around her neck, attach her training collar and leash. She acted a little jittery when I pulled out a red vest, put it around her flank and closed the plastic buckle, but it’s the first time she’s worn “working” gear.

I grabbed her lead, and she followed me with a wagging tail, effortlessly hopping in the Honda’s backseat, finding a spot between Meadow and Adriana. They sniffed the red vest for a second, acknowledging her new attire, before sticking their noses against the window, adding to the slobbery art already smearing the glass.

We were going to the Springfield Greenway for a four-mile walk; Dawn knew the drill. It’s hard to believe that two months ago she’d been feral. I thought about her first ride in a car, when she’d been thrashing in Donna’s van on that Christmas Eve morning, bleeding from biting her own tongue in fear. It wasn’t that long ago.

The only reason we’ve been able to socialize her in two short months is because of our pack. As I’ve said before, our dogs did all the hard work, teaching Dawn everything – from how to get into a car to where to go to the bathroom. They had even taught her leash etiquette.

At the greenway she jumped out of the car onto the sidewalk and walked the next several miles using perfect manners. Once in a while, Adriana, our eight-month-old mutt, would find a stick or chestnut and egg her on, tempting her to play. Inevitably, Dawn would cave and I’d let a half-assed, tethered wrestling match break out, but the game rarely lasted longer than a minute before Dawn was back to walking in formation, leash slack, right beside the rest of her pack.

Dawn’s not perfect. She still chews shoes. She’ll bark at other dogs on the greenway, not aggressively but enough, and she’ll bark for her food bowl, but these are minor concerns and easily changed with consistent correction. Her biggest problem is that she’s still timid around humans.

When we got home from Friday’s walk, I unhooked Dawn’s nylon vest, and she seemed extraordinarily happy to have it off, but I told myself there’s no way she knows what it says. Besides, she’ll have to get used to it.

I brush the fur off the bright, meant-to-be-seen vest, hang it in the dog’s closet – filled with leashes, food, treats, brushes, clippers, medicine, shampoo, and paper towels – and shut the door behind me.

Dawn’s red vest reads Adopt Me. It’s time for a happy ending.

Tony Starts Leash Training

tony hand(Meadow and Tony a.k.a T-bone)

Our nine-week-old foster puppy Tony has officially started leash training. Yesterday morning we attached a slim, lightweight rope to his collar and initially just let him drag it along. We didn’t try to hold the leash or guide him. We just let him get used to it being there.

Tony scampered behind us on the paved Springfield Greenway, rump waddling back and forth as he tried to keep up with the pack. Tony wears an ink-black, thick and poofy coat – maybe some sort of poodle mix – and gets hot fast, even in thirty-degrees; after a quarter-mile his baby-pink tongue hung to the side.

At first he was ferocious with his new leash, grabbing and shaking it like he was taking down his archenemy. But eventually he gave up trying to kill it and started carrying the red sinister string in his mouth instead. Once or twice I caught him barking at it.

It was a cold gray morning, but Tony didn’t care. In his world the sun never stops shining. When he’d pause to sniff something of interest (and there’s a lot of interesting things for a puppy on a rural greenway,) he’d lag behind for ten to twenty yards, then tuck back his ears for the least air resistance possible and sprint full throttle to catch up.

None of the other four dogs we had with us were thrilled about walking beside T-bone because, like everything, he tried turned walking into a game, and he’d jump at their necks, legs, and ribs with his sharp piranha-like teeth gleaming white.

At one point he leaped at Meadow, latched onto her neck, and clung to her hair, literally hanging completely in the air. Meadow is a patient dog, but enough being enough, she reprimanded him with a low menacing growl and a sharp nip. He yelped but we ignored him, letting the pack teach him his boundaries without interfering. The dogs do it better than us anyway. Mason and I have to repeat rules in our awkward human language a bazillion times, but the pack reprimands Tony once, and he listens.

After a good mile or so, occasionally, I’d pick up the leash and hold it, letting him walk right beside a hound-mutt Rosie, who gets all serious when she migrates, and like Meadow, wasn’t putting up with an ounce of Tony’s silliness.

Tony would act great for a little while, black fluff ball trotting alongside the big dogs. Then he’d realize he was attached to my hand and start yanking and pulling. I’d drop the leash until he got his groove back, then try again.

This went on for the entire four miles; all in all, we – woman and puppy – probably walked in tune for only about 1000 feet. The good news is that when Tony got home from his first leash-training session, he took a solid two-hour nap. Every once in a while he’d jerk his tiny paws, like he was dreaming about walking with the big dawgs.