George (The story of a throw-away dog)


George was found by Fuzzy Pawz Rescue in a Salt Lake shelter. He had been passed over for adoption time and time again. I don’t know why, maybe because he is far from a purebred. His neck is too long for his body and his legs are too short. He is cute but not the kind of cute that makes people want to put a bow on him and set him under a Christmas tree. It’s hard to pin point exactly what his mix is and is likely a combination of several breeds. Maybe he was stressed and didn’t show well in a shelter or maybe the fact that not neutering him for years had created a leg lifting problem. I don’t know why he was passed over for months in a shelter or even why he was there. But, I do know that Fuzzy Pawz Rescue was the first to see potential in him. They excepted him into their rescue to keep him from being euthanized and transported him to Boise Idaho. He was placed in a foster home where he thrived and began to show his hilarious personality. He kind of acts somewhere between a cat and a dog; playful and spunky one minute, then the next he just wants to lay around in a sunny spot. The rescue and his foster mom saw something great in him, but he still had no real interest by adopters.

That is where I came in. I am a Canine Behavior Specialist and Trainer and a little over two years ago I contacted the rescue’s founder and told her I was in need of a small dog that could be used as my working dog. This dog needed to be calm and stable enough to be used with dogs who were everything from under socialized to extremely dog aggressive. Up until then I had been using my own dogs but neither dog enjoyed the work and the intensity of it was hard for them. I needed a dog that was born for it. The rescue’s director sent me information on several dogs she thought might work but noted she saw something special in George (who was called Timmy at the time).

We brought George home first as a foster to see if the job would work for him. It is not an easy job for a dog and can at times be stressful. I did not know what to expect or really even know fully what I wanted from him. As George and I began our work together it quickly became apparent that not only could George handle the intensity of the job, he thrived in it. We learned each others signals and developed a kind of rhythm of trust while on a case. The more I paid attention the more I saw helpful ques George was giving me about dogs. When he wouldn’t make eye contact with a dog it meant he felt the dog was unstable. When he pawed my legs it meant I was rushing it and the other dog was not ready to move so fast. When he’d take the lead and walk right up to a dog it meant the dog was in a mentally healthy place. When he’d give his back to the dog but stay in close proximity it meant he was helping calm the other dog’s nerves before moving on. Day by day, case by case, George and I have developed a relationship of trust and communication that has helped hundreds of dogs!

This little dog that no one wanted has proven over and over again how skilled he is at his job and has helped so many dogs move past anxiety and fear. Recently he showed his endurance and skill by standing perfectly still for an hour while I, inch by inch, moved an extremely reactive dog closer to him. He kept a calm, collected manner about him that slowly seeped into the other dog and by the end of the session the dogs were able to walk side by side in harmony.

George is an exceptional dog, but so are all dogs. There was no sign above his kennel that spelled out what he was capable of when Fuzzy Pawz Rescue found him. The only reason it was discovered at all is because he was given a chance. Shelter dogs all over the country with their own unique gifts and talents are just waiting to be given that same chance. If George could talk I think he’d ask that other dogs like him be given the attention and respect they deserve. Had I decided I needed a working dog and gone to a breeder for a puppy I could “raise up the way I want” (a phrase I hear a lot) I would not have the amazing work companion I do now. You see, what George does is not something you can train. It is as much apart of him as his ridiculously long neck. Please don’t pass over shelter or rescue dogs, or ignore a dog that doesn’t look the way you imagined your dog would look. Please don’t think you have to get a puppy to get exactly what you want (believe me, I see lots of unruly dogs that came to their owners as a puppy). You may be passing over the best friend you’ll ever have, and exactly the dog you need. All these “throw away” dogs need is a chance!

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