River adjusting

We adopted River from a kennel. It wasn’t a bad place but he didn’t get the attention or experiences he gets in our home. Adjusting to life in a house has been exactly that, an adjustment.

He’s still suspicious of new food so, when I gave him a bit of a strawberry, he spat it out rather than eat it. He still takes a long time to settle when he’s in the house. He still can’t differ between dog toys and inanimate objects–as my slippers found out the hard way.

Now, you might think with this new lovely home, River would be grateful to be here…and I think he is, but he’s also quite determined to leave us. He keeps escaping. We have a fence (five feet high) to try and keep him inside. He climbs the thing like some sort of possessed squirrel and hops over and he’s off. And it’s a nightmare.

Houdini doesn’t care that he could get hit by a car, or injured or lost. He’s delighted with the adventure and is off to find new horizons. We’ve done everything from adding rocks to adding an electric wire to the top of the fence to keep him home. Just now, he’s found a new way out and we got home yesterday to find him running about, filthy as a pig, covered in burs.

We were horrified. He couldn’t be happier.

Getting the burs off a dog is a nightmare. In a dog that has long, deep, thick fur, burs dig themselves in and cling like baby monkeys to their mother. Worse, if you don’t get them out of the dog, they just go in deeper.

The only way to get them out is to get a comb and yank them out—something the dog doesn’t appreciate (though I can tell you the owner isn’t thrilled about the process either).

The process itself is a nightmare:

1. Get dog

2. Calm dog and pet dog–while petting, find a bur.

3. Grab bur while trying to keep dog still.

4. Yank comb through fur hoping to at least dislodge bur.

5. Find out that the thing didn’t even budge and curse while dog takes advantage of moment to slip away.

6. Proceed to chase dog through house.

7. Corner dog while at the same time keeping the other dog (who wants in on the fun) away.

7. Calm dog and reassure dog while surreptitiously searching for the blasted bur.

8. Find the bur has now dug itself deeper into the fur and curse in several languages.

9. Get comb and yank through fur.

10. Whip fingers away from dog’s teeth.

11. Chase dog through house (making mental note to clean the dirty paw prints from the floor later).

12. Corner dog and repeat.

River had something like 8 000 burs deep in his fur. The entire nightmare took hours. At the end, exhausted, I let them out.

He climbed the fence and promptly got out again.

I started to hit my head against the wall.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. After the entire de-burring episode, we did see a sign of improvement. Now, I have to apologize for the picture. It might be a good camera but it can’t make up for my ineptitude. I hope you can spot him.

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He was so tired, he fell asleep outside his crate. For the first time.