Red Dog: From Hell to Heaven
I am going to post this memorium in several parts, all under this topic, if no one minds terribly. I have to get this off my chest, and do some justice to this most excellent of dogs.
In 2004 my then wife wanted to find another dog to be company to our aging cocker, Bandit (who was in his own right a great dog). Bandit wasn't my dog but I loved him, and he loved me back.
So, off to the pound we go. Mind you, I detest shelters. Rescues I can handle, but the pound is different. It's like comparing a convalescent home to a super-max prison, in my opinion.
The wife wanted me to pick the dog, so off I went, detesting this place, and the people who run it. Dogs were barking all around, and bashing into the wire screens. Then a pair of bright yellow eyes, and a red/brown lump caught my eye. This dog was different, she wasn't barking, or bashing the wire. In fact, she had a look of complete apathy, she didn't care one way or the other, about anything.
"This one.", I said to the attendant. She looked at me sideways, "Are you sure? There are alot more dogs to see.". I didn't want to see any other dogs, I wanted this one, "Get this dog on a lead please, and lets bring her outside."
It was love from the beginning, and I wanted this dog. I can't say why, it just felt so right. And she was due for the long sleep the next day. I insisted on taking her then and there, though the staff tried to deter me.
"Look no offense, but if I come back tomorrow to get this dog, and you people have gassed her already...". I'm a fairly intense guy when I need to be, and hold no faith in any bureaucrats, especially minor underpaid ones. So, with appropriate fees paid, and a call to the landlord, we were off with our Red Devil, six months old.
Let me stop right here and make a caveat: I have never surrendered or abandoned a dog at a shelter, or rescue, and I never will. This dog was a two time loser, and so was to be immediately gassed upon being surrendered the third time. I was determined to not let this happen, under any circumstance.
First we had to find a new name, because 'Fudge' wasn't going to cut it. 'Sheila' seemed right, and will make even more sense as our story develops here. But at the time I had no idea what sort of dog she was. I figured some sort of strange mutt mix. Boy was I ever wrong.
The first weeks were very trying, this dog chewed up everything while we were away, at work. She had boundless energy, and wanted to play always. Luckily there was a nine year old boy who was also full of trouble, and I give him most of the credit for making this dog into the treasure she was. Of course, there was pedigree involved here, and she had a very loving, and mischievous personality. But I give the boy most of the credit for wearing her out every night.
So, when we left for work the obvious answer was a muzzle. Which we left on when she went outside during daylight hours and there were children around, not because she would bite anyone, I wasn't willing to give her the chance. Total vigilance, especially with this sort of dog.
I noticed a few behaviors here, stalking, and some herding actions, while she was playing with the boy, or other dogs. She would always stalk from the front, head on, which I was to learn later is a trait really good herding dogs have, and practice. This is not an inherent behavior, but one taught by the mothers.
At any rate after about a month of being muzzled, I took the thing off. Presto! No more chewing of anything not specifically given to her.