We are down to the last week of school, and I don't think anyone could be more excited than I am. Heck, I think I'm even more excited than the kids on this one.
It has been a tough year and I'm thankful it's over. (And praying that next year is easier!)
Now we are looking forward to summertime things, like jumping on the trampoline before our insurance takes it away (long story.) And having the kids play outside in the evening rather than watch TV. Planning house projects and working on landscaping. And our last day of school tradition of going out to Dairy Queen to celebrate. These are fun and relaxing things to me.
We're continuing to plug away at the downstairs bathroom so that we can focus on the summer time projects that are limited in time. So far, we have the floor laid out, and Dennis found a beautiful vanity on Shop 'n Swap for just a little over $100. I want to replace the faucet for something that goes a little more with our shabby chic theme, but I have to admit that the vanity is just about perfect the way it is.
Dennis is working on smaller things like trim and baseboard and then we will look into vanity lights. These are things that I'm more interested in. I can't wait until we get to shop for them.
My Phase 8 test went well and I passed with a 94%! As far as my Phase 6 exam goes, I am still waiting on the results, believe it or not! My mentor forgot to hand them in and she is unreachable. Anyway, my mentor at CATCH is taking care of it and told me to keep going with my studies.
So now I'm on Phase 9 and almost finished with the course. We're learning about shelters and I have to say, there is a lot to learn! I didn't really think I would get much out of it but I was wrong! I'm also beginning to understand why people end up with "problem dogs" because they are taught to go into shelters "love-blind"; only seeing the plight of a dog whose fate is in your hands. At least, this is the message that is often relayed to adopters (usually with a sad story of a dog, or how someone abused him or abandoned him. ) The adopters save these dogs and within a few weeks, the dogs show their true colors, sometimes showing aggression.
Ok, I have to bring up another thing (I just find this stuff so interesting.) Temperament testing! So many shelters don't do this for new dogs they take in. This is really important to weed out the aggressive-dominant dogs from those who aren't. And many shelters that have done temperament testing sometimes still allow aggressive-dominant dogs to be adopted but just deem them as "best not around children." They are so desperate to get these dogs adopted that many of them are not looking for the true good of the adopters, which ultimately is not giving what is truly good for the dog. Not all shelters are like this, but I was surprised to hear that many are.
So here is some temperament testing you can do on your own if you are thinking of adopting a dog from a shelter! (Amuse me, I love this stuff!)
Going from kennel to kennel, do the following before each dog (or at least in front of the dog that you are thinking of adopting:
1. Watch the dogs tail. Not to see if it's wagging (this means only excitement and will be done during happiness or aggression regardless), but to see how high it's raised. If it is up higher than his back--keep walking! This means the dog is on the alert and not in a good way.
If it is down midline or low, this is pretty good. If the dog passes this test, move on to the next step!
2. If the dog passes the first step, call the dog to the front of the cage closer to you. Watch to see if the dogs tail raises or lowers. Again, if he raises it, move onto the next dog. Even if you think his tail is high because you are a stranger, this indicates that he will treat every stranger in this way, in high alert (which can trigger aggression.) Move on!
3. Now let's pretend the dog has passed these two tests. If he passed, and he comes to when you call him, a good response is good sociable behaviors (seeming interested in meeting you, muzzles or licks your hand, comes forward willing.)
If barks at you and ignores your hand, tail is raised high, growls, or sniffs your hand but totally ignores you (with no good sociable behaviors) then he failed. Move on!
4. Next step (again, assuming that the dog has passed the other tests so far), move your hand in all different directions. This is to see if the dog is truly interested in interacting with you (indicating good socialization to people.) Move your hand about four inches in each direction, pause, and keep moving.
If he passes, a sociable dog will follow your hand wherever it goes. He may (or may not) smooch his body the front of the cage to get you to touch him.
A questionable dog (some socialization but not much) may follow your hand at first, then lose interest.
A dog that fails may jump up at the front of the kennel and ignore your hand. Or they may jump up to get away from your hand.
All of these steps are suggested to be done BEFORE the dog is let out of the cage. Believe me, I follow these steps when I volunteer. Dogs that bark aggressively, lunge, or seem overly fearful of me (growling, staying away from me, or being too close to the front of the cage) stay in their kennel. I have learned not to take these dogs out. Having Max with me and watching out for his safety has taught me to stay vigilant and observant. (I do let a staff member know if I don't get the dog out, so that someone with more experience who can handle the dog can let him out eventually.)
So if you are thinking of adopting a dog, try these steps first and you just may get a dog with a good temperament with no ugly surprises!