It Takes a Village

One of my first impressions of Nash, besides the fear, was the smell. Nash had such a doggie odor that after working with him I would smell the same way. I had to hang my coat out in the hall at work rather than near my desk. I noticed nobody wanted to pet him much because it involved washing your hands every time you touched him. So, on his second evening with us I decided to give him a bath. You can imagine how that went. Nash literally thought I was trying to kill him. I felt so bad for him fighting for his life that I almost gave up, but I didn’t want him to think he could get his way by throwing a fit in the future. So, I sang him stupid songs and washed away. His struggles became less after a while. Luckily, he didn’t have too much fur at this point, so it went pretty fast. He really enjoyed the towel drying at the end.  Needless to say, the bathroom and I were both covered in water and I was exhausted and sore.

I took Nash for a walk the first day after work and it went about how you would expect. He couldn’t walk in a straight line and kept tangling me in the leash. Every so often he grabbed the end of the choke chain in his mouth and tried to get free. And he was furiously trying to eat all the snow he could like he thought he would never have water again. All in all, it could have gone a lot worse. We made it a little over a mile. It did nothing to calm him down though.

During the first days when I would take Nash out of his crate and try to pet him he would constantly jump, lunge, and try to kiss. I mean he didn’t ever stop trying. After the bath incident he actually laid still for several minutes as long as I kept petting him. It was a fight to get the choker and leash on and off of him every time I needed to take him out. And getting him back in the crate involved forcibly putting him in, which sometimes involved wounds (scratches) to the person involved. I knew he would take more work than any other dog I had fostered but that he would also be the most rewarding.

After a couple of weeks with us Nash was still neurotic and needy. I thought he loved everyone but that was not the case. He wanted to chase off the furnace repair man, didn’t like a friend of ours who came over (a large man) and attacked my brother’s dog when he came to spend the weekend. On the other hand, he liked my daughter when she came home from college for the weekend and liked my sister-in-law the two times he met her. And on the day my brother’s dog, Dakota, came I got him out on leash when I came home, and he was fine with Dakota. They never had another problem. Nash has met a number of visitors to our house since then and after he warms up to them he is fine

As time goes by I am sure he was abused. We still can’t pick him up without him going into self preservation mode. Sometimes I just pick him up anyway and let him put his mouth on me since there are things I have to do. Like put him in a crate to ride in the car or give shots. Oh, and anytime your foot comes into contact with him which can be often since he follows so close he runs into your feet, he squeals like you are trying to hurt him. He also has the strong food drive that you sometimes see in dogs that went without for a long time. He will try to take food from any of our seven dogs. And if we are eating you better believe we keep an eye on our food.

Nash, or Nashville as we like to call him, has been with us for a couple of months now. He has come a long way since the early days although he still has a way to go. His frantic kissing and attention seeking are down to about the first 15 minutes after I come home. Of course, he is willing to sit on my lap for the entire evening if I will let him. And you need to be careful or he will jump on your lap anytime. On two occasions this resulted in me wearing an entire cup of coffee. These days Nash runs in his crate eagerly and turns around with his head sticking out waiting for the biscuit he knows is coming. And a couple weekends ago I took him on a three mile walk at a nearby state park where we passed other walkers with dogs and some bicyclists. He circled the leash around me a few times but was otherwise well behaved. By evening when we are relaxing if I tell Nash to get down, he will go lay quietly on a cushion in the corner. Of course, anytime I make eye contact with him he comes running to see what I want, and I have to tell him to go lay down again. But he has come so far.

Nash is ready for a home with the “right person” who will have the patience and understanding to continue working with him. If someone with the right skills doesn’t come along in the near future, we will keep working with him until he is ready for a home. I say “we” because it is a family affair. Everyone in our family has a hand in Nash’s transition and so it will need to be with his new family.

I wrote this tale about Nashville’s escapades in 2009 when he came into Rescue. He was adopted by a wonderful family with two children later that summer and they adored him. I remember sobbing uncontrollably as I drove away from leaving him with his new family. Even though it was a great match, I had invested so much of myself in him that I loved him dearly. The family did comment that he hoarded cans of food in his crate. He must have somehow thought that he would need this food to survive if times ever got tough again. I don’t know how he planned to open them. Nashville was one of those dogs that as a coping mechanism, I always considered to be mine and that another family was just taking care of him for me. Thanks Sara, for his initial transport to us. It takes a village…