Six-year-old Dogen spent most of his early years on the street, abandoned after repeated adoptions by folks who couldn’t/wouldn’t give him the time he needed to bond with them or learn basic good-dog behavior. I was retired when I adopted him at age two-plus, and we settled in and got serious about obedience training. His personality requires some negotiation and signs of respect for his private purposes, but he’s very smart and can learn almost anything. (Highly food motivated). Clever at getting his way; I have somewhat spoiled him, but he responds well to care-takers who take a firmer line with him. Real contests of will should be avoided if possible, since he will win most of those in the absence of inducements. But he has grown and matured into a wonderful companion, now finally learning to match his pace to my much slower one.. I’m 82, coming off a heart attack, and know I am no longer up to caring for him. Friends are walking him twice daily, but I can’t count on that forever. We’ve worked with a holistic Vet (Stephanie Chalmers in Santa Rosa) who has helped him recover from a toxic load absorbed in his orphan days. I would like to find someone who will continue his care with her, I will subsidize the vet costs. He benefits from hi-quality food and toxin-free water, again subsidies can be arranged for a time. Despite these health issues, he is a perky, delightful and loving dog, with rare communicative talents if you learn to “read” him. Loves approval and welcomes petting (his coat is soft and fluffy, hypoallergenic– does not shed, but needs regular grooming approximately every six weeks to clear his face so you can see his beautiful eyes.) The fine hair that grows between his pads is a magnet for burrs, which he is usually able to extract himself over time, but I try to avoid heavily burred paths and play areas. He had his teeth extracted to deal with an auto-immune disease (details on request) so I prepare his meals with that in mind (I’ll teach you what he can handle and how to fix it, but in general a new owner will need some free time and a modicum of tolerance for meal-prep twice daily. You won’t just toss down a handful of kibble if you want a healthy happy dog. ) He draws admiration from passersby, but does not always welcome eager hands reaching out for him–many wise people ask first, “May I pet him,” and I simply say, “he’s not reliable” since it is hard to anticipate when he’ll respond with irritation and hurt someone’s feelings– Having no teeth, his growl or snapping does no real damage, and I’ve learned how to disarm situations that tend to make him reactive. He has grown more mellow as his health has improved, reducing the irritability that arises from being in pain or discomfort. He’s got a big-time watch-dog complex — guards the front door with whole-hearted barking, but when I invite someone in, and send them to sit on our couch, he prances along with them and welcomes them as if he believes they are here for his own pleasure. Instant friendship, but it may need to be renewed each time — he’ll still bark at friends , briefly, unless they are coming at regular times so he knows what to expect. In short, a complex relationship that benefits from careful attention, patience and lots of loving kindness, like all primary relationships. The rewards are great. He’s easy to love., quick to adopt routines and behave as if he’s in charge because he knows what to do next. He’s a home dog — sometimes he gets out and tours briefly, close by, but always comes home when called, once he knows where home is. Plays well with most other dogs, especially other small dogs, but gets on his high-horse around big dogs and seems to want to drive them away, though he makes a few exceptions when he gets to play freely off leash, as in a dog park. Fabulous “nose” , would love the dog-training classes that focus on using his great sense of smell. I haven’t been able to do all the training he might enjoy and benefit from — he really needs on-going obedience practice (especially tricks, will fetch small balls at home in living room, but loses interest in outdoor fetch games). Lively intelligence, like good working dogs, he needs cooperative stimulus and chances to please you (and himself!) and can get depressed when bored from too many hours alone or without engaging with you. This makes him a terrific companion for people who long for or need distraction themselves — he can be endlessly entertaining. Young children must be taught to respect his signals — a soft growl when they are worrying him, a bark or snap if they try to take away something he is dedicated to (a toy, a sock, etc. I have not been able to make the “leave it” command stick, when he has hold of something he wants.) But his signals are clear, and he can be a devoted companion, napping with the child and following him around.
I feel I have never come close to discovering all he can achieve — he would reward someone skilled at working with clever but willful dogs to bring out all he can do. Not the best dog for families where everyone is gone for long periods of the day. He will sleep away hours so long as someone is home, working quietly, and he will softly request attention periodically in a way that I found quite helpful and healthy for my own pacing. A true companion dog, he can be incredibly sweet with old people, though he may become impatient with an unfamiliar lap and want to jump off before his hostess is ready to let him go. In short, he has his preferences and expects them to be honored when possible. He does, however, accept being overruled when I insist. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or (707) 576-6678.