Canine introductions

This Side Up


Ollie met Memphis on Sunday. The two have a lot in common. For starters, they are Southern boys and they’re both hounds, although the couple who rescued Memphis believes he’s got a bit of Bernese Mountain Dog in the mix. He’s bigger than Ollie and his fur is fluffier. But he’s got the hound spots and, as we learned, he’s got that tracker’s instinct. Once he’s got a scent, there’s no getting him to change his mind.

It was as if the two knew each other.

Their meeting was happenstance.

Sunday looked to be a good day to check out the dog park at City Park. Maybe this was a place where he could rapidly tire himself out. If the park was anything like Bow Chika Wow Town, the doggie day care that Ollie loves, he would charge all over the place, leading the pack half the time and trying to catch up the rest.

Ollie collapses after a morning at Bow Chika Wow Town. By the time we get him into the car, he’s ready to curl up for a nap. He even foregoes his role of automobile sentinel, with the whining and howling every time he spots a pedestrian or another dog. We’ve concluded he just wants to meet everyone he sees.

Only exhaustion has been able to break the behavior. We tried a squirty bottle. The bottle was highly effective in curtailing similar outbursts of excitement from our former companion, Binky. Simply displaying it, even when it was empty, sent Binky cowering in the back seat. He even came to know the words “squirty bottle” and would instantly calm down.

Carol tried it with Ollie.

It did nothing. Squirts don’t bother him. In fact, he probably enjoys the cool misting, especially if it’s hot. Carol finally resorted to wearing earmuffs to deaden his mournful howls while driving.

The dog park seemed like the perfect solution. Turn Ollie loose; let him unwind and then take him home to snooze the rest of the day.

It looked like that would happen when Memphis bounded over to greet Ollie. They were instant buddies. They ran through their sniffing routine and then Memphis lead Ollie around. There were a few other dogs and everybody seemed to get along fine. With the introductions over, Ollie scouted every inch of the fenced-in park, pausing with great fascination to sniff certain locales for seemingly an interminable period before lifting his leg and moving on.

He wasn’t getting the extended exercise we had hoped for, but he was enjoying the exploration of new surroundings.

Memphis is a rescue dog, too. They found him on an adoption website. Apparently, he was dumped at a shelter after he killed a chicken.

“He was starved and he was probably just looking for food,” suggested the woman.

Like many Southern shelters, Memphis was left at a “kill shelter,” meaning, if he wasn’t adopted, they would put him down. Before that happened, he was crammed into a truck with a bunch of other dogs, pulled off death row and driven north to find a new home. The truck broke down. The delivery was delayed and by the time Memphis arrived, he was foul-smelling and flea-infested.

Ollie also escaped the death zone of the South, thanks to the East Greenwich Animal Protection League. Supposedly he came from North Carolina. We don’t know the reason he was abandoned, but we suspect it was because he had heartworm and to put him though the cure would have been too much bother and expense.

But taking the South out of these dogs is far more difficult than getting the dogs out of the South. Memphis has already dispatched a raccoon. And he’s up most of the night going from one window in hopes of spotting something. Fortunately, Ollie is a morning hound. As soon as it’s dark, he’s ready to fold. But, with first light, he’s up and ready to go. I suspect their traits will be difficult to change, if they can be changed at all.

In the meanwhile, he’s changed us. Carol takes him for morning walks – sniffing tours (She’s gotten strange stares wearing earmuffs on hot summer days). We’ve come to know some wonderful people who have shown us training techniques and we’re discovering new places and meeting nice people.

There have been some anxious moments when we searched the neighborhood to find him. He’s been attentive to us, especially when there’s food to be had. And there are times when he cuddles up on the couch. But never did I suspect I would consider introducing us to other dogs as one of Ollie’s attributes. One hound is enough for us, however.


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