Tucker has had spotty interest from potential families since he came to stay with us a few weeks ago. His most promising prospect was a couple who saw him online and put in an application for him. They met him at the adoption fair last weekend, and wanted to move forward with the next step, which would have been a home visit with Tucker, a representative from Agape, and either myself or Dave. The couple ended up changing their minds before the home visit could take place, which of course they are entitled to do – they didn’t think Tuck would be a good fit with them and their other dog, and if you think a dog won’t be a good fit with your family, then it won’t.
The thing is, regarding people – Tucker is one of the most trusting dogs I have ever met. You can pick him up, turn him over on his back with his head hanging off of your arm, and he doesn’t flinch. He lets you look in his mouth, touch his feet, and rub his sleepies out of his eyes. But when it comes to other dogs, Tucker can be a little…hmm, how to put this…Particular? Selective? Finicky? Maybe we’ll just say, slow to warm up.
To help any future potential adopters get a good idea of what to expect when introducing Tucker into a new home, let’s back up to Tucker’s first few days with us….the first night we met Tuck, a representative from Agape brought him over to see how he’d do with our own little fur-man. We went for a walk, all the while Tucker showed about zero interest in Oscar, he spent most the time straining against the leash. We got back to our house and let them run around a bit in the back yard, where mostly Tucker sniffed, and Oscar watched. Tucker did eventually start getting closer to Oscar, and partook in the butt-sniffing dance. They even played and chased a little bit, but Tuck was extremely nervous, and when it got to be too much for him (which it did, pretty quickly), the hackles went up and the teeth came out. Lucky for Tucker, Oscar is a VERY patient dog, and did not seem to mind getting snapped at by a stranger in his own yard. We separated the dogs, Tucker went back to the boarding facility that night and foster dad and I were left to decide if we were willing to work with Tucker, who may turn out to be a tougher case than we had originally thought.
Well, have you seen the pictures? How could we turn down Oscar’s mini me?
Answer: we couldn’t. We just had to try. So the next day, our Foster Rep with Agape, Kirsten, brought Tucker back over with supplies. We went on another walk and then back to the back yard, then finally inside. I’m not going to sugar coat it, that first night and the following few days were tense. Tucker would go from avoiding Oscar all together to full on play – but we’d have to keep a close eye on them and separate them quickly if the play got too rough. Which, at some points, it definitely did (snarling, snapping, teeth showing, etc). Once they were separated, Tucker immediately went into submissive mode and rolled over on his back, totally on his own. We would give them both some time out away from each other and let them try again. This cycle repeated itself for a while, with constant supervision, lots of treats and praise when the play went well, and lots of breaks when things got tense.
Fast forward three weeks, and we’ve got a completely different Tucker on our hands. He and Oscar are best of buddies. They still need supervision, but they can play on their own and self-moderate their play session completely. Tucker is learning quickly what kind of play is “appropriate” and what is not. He has completely come out his nervous little shell and the transformation has been absolutely amazing to watch.
We think that the snapping and snarling comes when he’s nervous or uneasy about what’s going on, or when he just gets completely over-excited. They key to introducing him into his forever home if it has another dog in it is going to be going slo-o-o-o-o-owly. Tucker’s People are going to have to commit to working with him to gain confidence around other dogs, through rules, routine and discipline. We don’t know what happened in Tucker’s past to make him act this way around other dogs, but we do know that Tucker’s perfect People will have lots of patience, and that their patience will be rewarded. Tucker may never be a “dog park dog,” but then again he might. Tucker’s only been with us three weeks, but he’s still progressing every day. I can’t wait to get updates from his People to see how amazing he’ll be doing a year from now!
To adopt Tucker, contact Agape Animal Rescue.