By Dido Panagiotopoulos
"I was a feral dog living in the veld and then under a grandstand at a school. I was under a year old when I was rescued by ARRF and was put into Linber Kennels because I was a terrible escape artiste. My trust issues and fears could not be properly addressed, and I needed to be socialized and learn to be a part of a family, and the Pana pack decided to foster me... This is the story of my rehabilitation, as told by Dido, my forever mom:"
Having not slept a wink that Thursday night, I spent the morning plotting how to get my hubby to let me foster Boo. We have a small house and garden... and the PAWfect "pack" including Cyclops, Jumpies and Gumby. Fortunately both my hubby and I are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) type people, so at lunch time I eventually called him to say I wanted to fetch Boo and foster him for two weeks to help socialize him and familiarize him with family life. He agreed, but emphasized that this was a 2 WEEK FOSTER arrangement. I was in total agreement. And we both meant it (at the time...) Read more...
I called and spoke to Sonja and Patti of AARF, they were thrilled I wanted to foster Boo. I found out that Boo had in fact been rescued the previous year (October 2010). He was spotted living under a grandstand at a school in Krugersdorp living off sandwich crusts and tuckshop tidbits. He was being teased and taunted by the children.
It took a couple of weeks, with daily feeding to finally capture Boo. Boo was groomed, vaccinated, neutered and microchipped. Sonja then tried to foster him, but he was impossible. He became a renowned escape artist, and took to tearing up cushions and things around her home when he was left alone. It was difficult because Sonja has a pack of around 20 ARRF rescues at home... Boo hadn't been socialized nor did he have manners... and worst of all was his escape antics. After rugby tackling Boo across a lane in a nearby highway, after one of Boo's escapes Sonja realized he would be far safer in the boarding kennels they house some of the ARRF rescues. There he remained from early in 2011.
The Kennels are great kennels, but being in kennels will never be the same as living in a home... and Boo was not learning any manners or becoming socialized or learning any manners... He wasn't getting the individual time and care, rehabilitation and socialization her needed. He'd be let out into the main enclosure to run around and exercise himself for a couple of hours a day, but it was unstructured and just encouraged his individualism and independent spirit... he had no idea what it means to be a part of a family or pack.
So on Friday the 26th of August, Gumby and I went through to fetch Boo. I didn't want to traumatize him in the departure and after backing into his cage and giving no touch, no talk, no eye contact it proceeded to take me about twenty minutes to put the half check collar and lead on. I loaded him up into the car with Gumby... he refused to sit with Gumby in the back so I let him sit on the front seat (something one should NEVER do with ones pets of course!!!).
Because my pack are used to fosters, I do not take particular care with the introduction. (One should ideally introduce new members to the pack in a safe neutral territory such as a fenced off park, or simply go for a walk on leash next to one another up the street or something). I just drove into the garage (and carefully made sure the garage door was closed). I kept Dini on leash for the initial meeting with Cyclops and Jumpies, who were oddly disinterested, and more keen to welcome me home.
I had spoken to a friend (dog trainer and behaviorist) Penny and she suggested keeping Boo on an umbilical leash, so that he would be with me most of the time, and to reward him for any eye contact and interaction. I needed to show him that being with me (us) was way more entertaining and fulfilling than being alone and having to occupy himself. He had to learn trust and that I would be his protector and provider.
Penny and I also discussed renaming him. Sonja had told me about running after Boo on his regular escapades shouting "Boooo, Boo, Boo" and that sounded to much like a dog barking. I wanted to call him Harry, as in Harry Houdini... Penny suggested Dini because it has short "friendly" vowels in.
Penny pointed out that long vowel sounds (as in his name Boo) are often long, deep and tend to be more negative like NOOOooooo or the way many people teach their dogs to lie with the "dOOOoooown" command. When naming a dog one should rather use short vowels or sibilant sounds (hissing sounds like "s")...maybe now we all know why dogs learn to SIT before they DOWN :-) So it was that Boo was rechristened Dini... and I was looking forward to a time when he would no longer be a feral escape artist (or Houdini) and I'd be able to ask "Who Dini?" And he'd respond to a recall and say "Me Dini"
The next thing we urgently needed to address was Dini's Rasta look...
To be continued....