A big pet peeve of mine is when someone oversells a dog to a potential adopter. By oversell, I mean positive personality traits are embellished and negative traits are ignored. This isn't fair to anyone: not to the adopter, not to the dog, not the to shelter.
The descriptions of the dogs on this blog are purposely vague and not detailed because I want people to have their own list of questions when they ask about a particular dog if they're interested (I hope it's obvious to most readers that I'm not providing a complete checklist of personality traits on each dog I feature. I mean, usually I don't even state what sex or age a dog is, though the sex may be obvious from the name). I also have a fair degree of confidence that the staff at Toronto Animal Services South will be forthcoming in discussing any relevant history and issues behind any dog to interested parties.
I'm not talking about minor issues which might be overlooked but bigger ones like whether or not a dog is house-trained, whether or not it is dog/cat friendly, whether or not it has noticeable underlying health issues, etc. Whenever major issues are minimized or hidden from adopters and a person takes the dog home and discovers the dog is a chronic indoor marker (or perhaps incontinent), for example, that just puts the dog and owner in a possibly untenable situation and quite often, the dog gets returned to the adopting agency. Every one loses.
The staff at TAS-South take full disclosure seriously but I'm sure that anyone who has been involved in dog rescue long enough has heard of situations where full disclosure wasn't given and adoptions ended badly.
So here's Bella, a German Shepherd cross.
Within ten minutes of walking this girl she had pulled out of her collar from jerking and jumping around, ripped off the lower branches on a few trees she walked by, dug a one foot hole in the ground so she could try to eat something she smelled in there, tried to pull out a tree root, chewed on anything which looked like it would fit in her mouth and wasn't solidly connected to the ground, munched on my fingers when I gave her treats. When I got her back to the shelter and had momentarily turned my back to her as I was marking her walk time down on the white board, she stuck her head into the trash bucket beside us and started eating a two foot length of gauze. Luckily, extremely luckily, James saw this and pulled it out of her mouth. She had already just been through one surgery to remove an internal blockage.
All of these behaviours from Bella, except for the last one where I was inattentive, could have been stopped or controlled by me but I wanted to see what she was like when left to her own devices because I didn't quite believe what people had been saying about her.
Bella will be a difficult dog to adopt out.
But having said all that, I believe Bella is a highly trainable dog. She is food motivated, she can focus, she is intelligent, she enjoys human companionship, and at the core, I believe her crazy energy is not from some sort of canine ADHD (well, maybe just a bit) but from being couped up all day for pretty much her whole life and being in the shelter doesn't really alleviate any of that. I believe this because after about twenty minutes of walking her, she started to settled down.
I like Bella. I see her behaviour as super enthusiasm for every thing she does but I know the obstacles to adoption she will face because of those behaviours. The challenge will be to find an adopter who can see the positives and is able and willing to work through the negatives.
UPDATE (March 17, 2013) on Bella here.
The best way to check on the adoption status of this dog (and other dogs and cats and other small domestic animals) is to visit Toronto Animal Services adoption website or call 416 338 6668 for the Toronto Animal Services South shelter. If the dog is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because it's been adopted already.