Weim lives matter!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Fostering Harley, the beginning of his new life

     So you think you might want to foster a dog some time?  Follow Harley's story on my blog and get an idea of what fostering entails and it might help you decide if fostering a dog for rescue is something you would like to give a try.

     When I met Harley's owner for his transfer to rescue's possession (Tri State Weimaraner Rescue) I asked her questions about Harley, his personality, his training, etc., to get a better idea of how I might make Harley more comfortable in his transition.  I also had asked her to bring some of his food so that the first few days he would have the food he is used to.  On the way home we stopped and bought some diet food for Harley and we will start changing him over to that food once he seems settled in a bit and is eating well.

     Before Harley came home with us my husband and I discussed our plans to handle him around our dog, Rigby, to do our best to avoid any dangerous situations.  We also took time to dog proof our house, put away all dog toys and put up a crate for Harley.


     Once Harley came into our home one of the first things we did was put an identification tag on him with our names, phone numbers and address.  I try to keep an extra tag around the house just for fosters.  I like the Boomerang tags as they are very secure on collars and rarely come off the collar.

     We spent time introducing Harley to our dog, first outside, then in the house.  Harley will be dragging a leash during the first part of his stay in our house, until we know that he is truly housebroken and he learns the rules and his boundaries.  When our dog is running loose in the house with him Harley will always have the leash on so that we can quickly grab him up if there is any personality conflict or difference of opinions between the dogs.  We feel it is our duty to protect our dog from any danger and to make sure she feels secure and comfortable, after all, this is her home.

Harley and Rigby

     Harley has spent a lot of time in his crate, getting him acclimated to it and just giving him a safe space to rest while he gets to know us and his new surroundings.  The first night he drank a lot of water, but that has subsided.  The first few days he hardly ate, but he has a large backup supply of body fat so we didn't worry about him too much, and as he got hungry he started eating better.

     Unlike most rescues I've had in my home, Harley walks nicely on a leash.  We don't have a fenced-in yard (I know, quite odd for a foster home) so dogs who stay with us get a lot of walks.  The toughest part of this for Harley is that he came from a home with a fenced yard and he is not used to pottying on a leash.  This has proved to be a challenge, but every day he's getting more comfortable and today, for the first time, he both peed and pooped on one of his exercise walks.

     Because of Harley's body mass it makes him look older than his 3 years of age and we forget how young he is and that he still has puppy tendencies.  Hopefully we'll do better as the days go by, but so far Harley has chewed a leash and a harness.  The leash can be fixed and, although it will be shorter, it's not a total loss.  The harness was brand new, bought for Harley.  My husband left it on him and Harley chewed it enough that it can't be used, as the strength of the harness has been compromised.  We don't blame Harley for these losses, it's our job to put things up and keep them out of Harley's reach.

     Harley came to us uneducated in some ways and improperly trained in others and we work with him daily to try to get him prepared to be a good family member for his forever home once it's been found.  Harley was allowed to jump on his owner and he's quickly learned that that is not acceptable behavior in our home.  We love to have our dogs on our couch with us, but Harley is rather pushy and wants to be on top of his people.  We've decided that he needs to be taught to have some distance from us and he is being trained to rest on a dog bed and is not allowed on the couch.

    Harley is a smart Weimaraner and is learning all these new lessons quickly.  As I type he is sleeping at my feet on the dog bed.  He goes to his crate when told to and actually goes there on his own if he's not sure what is expected of him.  Harley is a very soft Weim and has a rather timid personality.  Because he is so soft we decided a harness was the best tool to use for walking him.  He can pull at times and the harness we use is a no-pull harness that helps us to keep a big dog like him from dragging us around.  He will get better and better at walking as he will be getting many walks with us.

     Harley is sleeping in his crate at night.  He has shown some propensity for separation anxiety, but it's not a bad case of SA and we're going to work with him to show him that he can be alone and it's not so bad.  A lot of our training is aimed in that direction; the crate, the resting on a bed and just being shown what is expected of him will all help him become more comfortable with himself and his environment, helping him to have a healthier ability to be by himself and not so dependent on people.

     Friday we took Harley for a vet visit to get him some flea and tick protection, get an accurate weight on him and just make sure he is healthy.  He had a good visit and was complimented on his friendliness and nice disposition.

     Harley has only been with us for four days, but already he's learned a lot about us and we've learned a lot about him.  His stay with us will now consist of training, getting him on a proper diet and exercise schedule and introducing him to new experiences so that he will be ready to move to his new forever home where he can live for many happy years.


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