Ransom has been with FLFO since early June. We want to give everyone an update on him. It’s been an interesting several months! We are all about full disclosure here. Ransom is a very adorable little guy and we know that as soon as we announce him as available for adoption, he’ll be very popular. Please know that he MUST have an experienced adopter and here’s why.
When this cute little dog arrived in early June, he was a perfect gentleman. Living in our lower level quarantine area, he was loving and sweet and 100% crate and house trained. After his two-week quarantine was over, we began to introduce him gradually to the other dogs here. We took them for walks together then allowed Ransom to sit outside with us on the porch. He was doing so well that we had no qualms about bringing him upstairs to live with us. We never anticipated issues because he was so perfect.
Ransom loves stuffed, squeaky toys but none of the other dogs here cared to play. Or so we thought. When Ransom arrived upstairs with his toys, Olive the beagle suddenly decided she wanted them too! Thus began a bit of competition between Ransom and the other dogs. Our first indication of trouble was a slight growl from Ransom when Olive wanted to play with a toy. So we removed all toys. Then we witnessed Ransom urinating on the rug in the kitchen and the bathroom. When we saw Ransom urinating in the bathroom, we told Ransom to go outside and he growled at us. Uh-oh. We knew there was a problem brewing. And later that day, he tried to eat Ramona’s food. When we asked him to move away, he growled and lunged at us. He was clearly showing signs of anxiety being with the other dogs. We decided to take several steps backwards and revisit integrating Ransom with the pack.
We moved him downstairs again to decompress from any anxiety he was feeling, and he seemed very happy and back to his loving self. But later that day, he was lying on his back as Chris was rubbing his belly. He belched and a few pieces of food came up. When he tried to eat it, Chris attempted to move him away from the food and he bit her on the thumb. This was obviously an upsetting development.
Given Ransom’s physical condition when he arrived at FLFO (hair loss, fleas, internal parasites, underweight, not neutered), we are sure that he was not treated well in his previous home. He may have belonged to a backyard breeder or just a person who was careless. He more than likely lived with other dogs and may have had to contend for resources (food, toys, affection, etc.).
We needed some time to review the situation and consider our strategy. We decided to get him neutered (which had already been scheduled for late July), give him at least two weeks to heal then begin the reintroduction process to the other dogs but this time it would be very, very slow.
We also initiated a training protocol and a process to show him leadership to bring down his anxiety. Ransom was told to sit and wait for his food, for attention, and to put on his leash to go outside. Much to our amazement, Ransom learned very quickly! He only needed to be told a few times and he did it automatically. He sat for his meals, waited, and watched us for the cue to eat. We praised him and briefly petted him as he began to eat. (Note that we NEVER attempted to take food from him! That would ruin any trust that we were trying to establish.) We assured him that he didn’t need to contend for resources. He is a very smart and observant little guy.
Ransom recovered beautifully from the neuter surgery as well as the dental and extraction of three teeth at the same time. He was back to his loving, perfect self. After a little over two weeks of recovery from the dental and neuter surgeries, we slowly began the reintroduction process to the other dogs. We met outside briefly, took walks, and sat on the porch. Every day, we increased the time they were together. After about a week, we decided to begin to bring Ransom upstairs again. This time, we did it only an hour at a time – and no toys and food were present. Ransom ate and slept in the lower level, and the other dogs ate when he was down there. Over the course of another week, he gradually increased his time upstairs until he was with us for a full day. But he still ate and slept downstairs. He was very happy and still showed no signs of stress. Finally we decided to allow Ransom to sleep and eat upstairs with us. He has his own crate in the guest room away from the other dogs and eats in his crate. He stays there while the other dogs eat.
We were very encouraged and thought everything was going well. We did notice one little quirk – Ransom frequently retreated to his crate in early evening and did not want to come out to go for the bedtime potty break. He backed up and occasionally growled and even lunged at us. He clearly was telling us that he didn’t want to go out. So we left him alone and didn’t force him. But one night, he was lying in the living room next to the sofa at Chris’s feet. When it was time to go outside for the bedtime potty, Chris reached down to pet Ransom and he bit her with no warning. This was a very distressing development, as he had been doing really well. It was again time to step back and consider our options.
The FLFO board met to discuss the situation and we all agreed that we didn’t want to give up on Ransom. We decided to consult with a trainer who specialized in aggression. After reviewing the situation and his health, she suggested that possibly Ransom was in pain stemming from the issues he has with his knees (he has luxating patellas). His behavior issues seemed to happen at night when he was tired and more likely to be experiencing pain. Lo and behold, after consulting with our veterinarian and getting a prescription for meloxicam, Ransom responded beautifully. He really had been in pain and the meds have made a huge difference. We have had no further biting issues. We have learned to read Ransom’s signals when he wants to be left alone and we respect it.
We have over 20 years of experience working in rescue and with training and behavior but there is always more to learn. Every dog presents a new lesson. Here’s what we learned with Ransom:
1) All dogs, no matter how perfect they seem, need lots of time to become comfortable in their new environments.
2) All dogs, no matter how old, require training. They need to know how to speak our language.
3) All dogs, no matter how well behaved, need to be shown leadership.
4) We cannot know it all. Sometimes we need to consult with other experts to get a second viewpoint.
Ransom absolutely must continue with this program of training and leadership and pain medication in a home that wishes to adopt him.
Ransom is a very affectionate and loving dog. He enjoys being brushed, is good with baths and loves getting toweled off, and he loves to watch out the window. Ransom lives with other dogs but may get possessive with toys and food. Although we do not have cats here, we suspect he may chase them. He barks at anything that moves – birds, squirrels, deer, people walking past the house, and even flies that get in the house. We believe that Ransom will be a wonderful pal for the right person who understands his issues and how to work with him.