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One day with Rainier

If you read my other blog, you know that we took in a foster dog (another newfoundland).  Since he'll be a temporary boarder, I want to write down my observations of him.  I'm hoping this will be helpful in letting his adoptive family (when we find one) know what he's like and some of his more quirky behaviors.  I imagine I'll be posting frequently to begin with and it will taper off with time.

Let's start with appearance.  I swore the guy was 200 lbs.  He's a lot bigger than Ada.  With a shaved body, he's the same size as she is with her full coat, plus he's a couple inches taller.  Before he was shaved, he weighed 152 lbs.  I'm not sure what he is now, but he doesn't look too bad.  I can't feel his ribs, so he probably could stand to lose 10 lbs or so, but at least it's not out of control.

His left eye and ear are infected.  I can't do anything about the eye, but I have some meds from an ear infection Ada had, so I started to administer them.  Hopefully, those are the right thing.  I'm sure the vet will chew me out Monday if not.  He's got a skin infection under his chin and down the front of his neck.  I've been using malacetic wipes a couple times a day on that, as well as the raw spot on his behind.  (It says they're good for hot spots, so I figured we could try to keep him as clean as possible until we get the vet to look at him.  He's obviously not happy about me mucking about with his ears, but if I press my leg against him so that he's stuck between me and the counter, he will hold still.  Am trying to reward him for doing that.  He also has loose stools and was refusing to eat any real food.  (I got some purina lamb and rice as I figured that would be easiest on his tummy.)  I gave up this morning and made a mix of white rice, chicken broth, and pumpkin, then gave him two cups in the morning and two this evening.  Things were looking a lot better this evening...stools were forming but they were very soft.  I think he's been eating mostly grass as that's what was coming out his hind end before now.  Did not look good at all.  Will transition him onto the purina and then decide if I want to do with anything else or just leave him on that for now.  I could put him on Acana, and I imagine it would be good for him, but I don't know that his future owners will want to put him on that.  Maybe I'll look at Before Grain or something similar...not going to go with Orijen because that's probably worse than Acana as it's even more expensive.  :-)

He has breath that could stun a yak at about 500 miles.  I brushed his teeth today, and it was better briefly.  I thought it might have been his coat, but now I'm pretty sure it's his breath.  His teeth look so-so (from my unprofessional opinion).  He's got a canine that looks like it might need some work (it's got some brown near the top), and tartar build up on some of the back teeth.  I'm going to guess that we might be able to take care of some of it with some regular brushing...but I'll have to see what the vet says.  (I also didn't think his coat was that bad at first, either...)

Behaviorally, he's been really good.  One thing that caught me off guard is that he's not afraid of steps.  Ada is terrified of them.  I was in the kitchen when I heard this 'galump, galump'...and sure enough, he was in the basement.  I set up a baby fence at the bottom, and he hasn't gone down since.  I don't know that he would really do anything, but I really want him upstairs where I can keep an eye on him (mostly).

He's scared of Mike.  He will go up to him to be pet, but the first time he did so, his tail was completely between his legs.  He'll stand there, but he shakes the whole time.  We've definitely got the sense that he prefers me, but he listens to everyone...especially when we tell him to get off the couch.  :-)  (Sorry, dogs are not allowed on furniture in my house, period.  No couches, no beds...not gonna happen.)  He was great on the walk...just kept chugging down the sidewalk.  I tied the leashes together, and he kept Ada moving along pretty nicely.  (She likes to sniff every friggin' thing...)  He also doesn't like it when Ada and I play chase.  We started playing outside, after she tried to get him to play with her and he wasn't interested.  That got him upset.  He kept running to stand between me and her and would bark at her.  He even growled once.  It really struck me as, "You do NOT play with the humans that way!"  Other than that, they pretty much avoided each other all day.  Rainier and Jacob seem to get along just fine.  Rainier wags his tail whenever Jacob talks with him.

Ada, BTW, is very stressed out.  She's not eating as much, although I'm not entirely sure that's a bad thing.  Also, she won't touch any dishes that he's eaten or drunk from.  And both of them have been drooling and foaming all day long.  She won't let him come near her...as soon as he gets close, she skitters away.  (Ever seen a 100 lb dog skitter???)  There was a brief episode where there were a couple barks back and forth during the afternoon along with some tail wagging.  She actually let him lay down about 4 or 5 feet away, which is the closest she let him get.  They slept there for a couple hours.  (There being right in front of the air conditioner.)

The down side is that he's a barker.  He started barking twice in the middle of the night last night, but we basically ignored it and he quit fairly quickly.  However, he started again at 4:30, and after about 45 minutes, I couldn't handle it any more.  It was rather cool, so I got up and took them for their walk.  After we got home, I kenneled them again and was able to go back to sleep for a couple hours before Ada started.  (If she doesn't get her breakfast by 9, she starts barking.  Can't say I blame her...)  I did kennel him a couple times today.  (I've been kenneling one while the other eats, for example.) It did seem like he was a bit better today, so hopefully that will settle down.

He also seemed timid around the cats.  The first time he saw Gallagher (our grey tabby), he came running up to me and ran behind me to hide from it.  Yeah...this 150 lb. dog was terrified of an 11 lb. cat.  Gallagher had to come up and see what this thing was, so Rainier very tentatively went up and sniffed him.  Then he would seem freaked out and back off...then sniff again, and then back off.  Did that 3 or 4 times.  Fortunately, he didn't attempt to approach Button, which is good because she's the one I'd be worried taking an eye out or something.  He walked up and sniffed Gallagher a few times today and licked him once...so I think they're cool with each other now.  Since Button doesn't approach him, he keeps his distance from her...which is probably best for everyone.

He spent most of the day laying around.  I have been telling him 'hush' rather than 'shut up' (which is apparently what his previous owners used).  He caught on pretty quick.  I've also been working on NILIF (nothing in life is free), so he has to sit before he gets his dinner or before I let him out of the kennel.  He seems like he's a bit better on sitting, and I got him to go down several times as well.  Also picked up quickly on "go home", which is what we tell them when they need to go in the kennel.  He's *very* food motivated, but he also genuinely seems to want to make you happy.  I actually think that if he remains as calm as he has been the past two days, he's probably be a great candidate for therapy dog training.  He's a little bit unsure at first, but once he's got a sense of the situation, he's just fine.  Also, he's very mellow and not terribly playful.  He might also like draft work.  But I think he'd also just be happy laying around the house.


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