Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The Rescue... Hershey Kisses
After Snoopy passed away back in December of 1998, it was decided the house could not be without a dog. So, the local SPCA was having a thing down at a local shopping outlet. Off we went. So many dogs, I could have had them all. Then, we saw them. Two siblings. Hershey and Coors. There was a third, Chocolate, but he had already been adopted. At the time, the SPCA believed they were Vizsla mixes. Their breed mixture is really unknown, but the guesses are... Vizsla, Weimaraner and Labrador Retriever. The SPCA rec'd the mother and three pups from someone who had found them on their property. Someone had dumped them off out in the country. The mother was a yellow color with some white markings. She was not up for adoption. The pups were. Coors was a beautiful honey gold color similar to beer; hence the name. I don't know why someone would name a female dog Coors, but they did. Hershey was a gorgeous milk chocolate with white markings and brown ticking on his chest. We decided to adopt both since they were siblings and we wanted two; so, they could be companions for life. We changed Coors name to Honey, as we thought it suited her better. Hershey kept his name, but we added Kisses to it because he loved to give kisses.
Hershey and Honey were born approx. September of 1998. We adopted them in December of 1998. Everything was great until Honey started to assert herself as the dominant dog. In a very short time, she began to snap at Hershey and became increasingly aggressive toward him. If he had decided to back down and allow her the top dog position in the house, all would have been fine. That didn't happen. This became a learning experience for us. A lesson in setting up a dog pack within a household. Hershey had enough! In the hall and dining area, he decided to let Honey know her place in the house. He was going to be boss not her. The fight lasted until we could break them up. A couple more fights later and we had to call the SPCA. We explained the situation. The lady who runs the SPCA offered to take Honey back and work with her. They decided Honey would be better off with some obedience training and socialization. They worked with her and offered her for adoption again with the stipulation that the person adopting her have no other pets. As I understand it, she was adopted to a newspaper reporter who took her everywhere. Honey found her perfect home. We hated to have to give her up, but it was the best for both Hershey and Honey.
Hershey on the other hand learned something from his sister that he never forgot... the pecking order of a pack and aggression towards other dominant dogs. We contacted the SPCA many times for help with working with him and how to deal with different scenarios. This was before Cesar and his dog whispering. We learned how to be assertive members of the pack before it was popular. There are still some trying moments. Hershey still has his issues, but he's a lot better. We learned a tough lesson when adding another dominant pup to the group in 2000.... Maverick, a member of the infamous "2000 group". When Maverick was a very young pup, Hershey told him straight away who was boss by attacking him. He tore his ear which required vet care. Maverick was going to be a big dog; so, we worked at getting this issue under control.
Dealing with both Maverick and Hershey's dominance at an early stage has led to only a handful of fights that are fairly easy to diffuse. Most times these dominance wars are mere growling as they pass, but every once in a while one figuratively steps on the others toes leading to a little more than just an argument. We, then, have to become the dominant top dogs and get them back in line before someone gets hurt.
This has led to the observance of how different these animals are. Interestingly, each dog lives in a different state of dogdom. Hershey is more the "people" dog. Maverick is more the "wolf pack" dog. Maybe it's more of a "domesticated" and "undomesticated" dog. For Hershey, he seems to understand things in people or domesticated dog terms. He doesn't really seem to understand he is a dog or that there is suppose to be order to things like in a wolf pack. Maverick, on the other hand, seems to understand things on more of a dog level like a wolf pack. He knows to put another in his place not by drawing blood, but by showing his ultimate strength and dominance. For instance, Maverick knows I am top dog. He watches all that I do. He listens to what I say. If I am at the gate to their fenced area and I tell them to "get back and stay", he will guard the gate and keep the others back forcing them to stay inside the fence. If they get out of hand, he will stand over them and press them with his body to the ground holding them there until they give in to his dominance. Hershey does not understand this. When he asserts his dominance over any of the others, he snaps and goes for damage. I think this probably comes from his early encounters with his sister, Honey. Copper has either learned to listen to Maverick or has gotten too old to care. The others, Chico and Tiffany, never bother to question who's in charge. Chico doesn't mind his status. Tiffany, well, she's the only female and knows it. She throws her weight around when necessary. The "men" do whatever it takes to shut her up.
Hershey loves cats and has "rescued" one of them as well. Later, you will read of Katy Rose, a black and white rescued from the back yard by Hershey. He gently picked her up and carried her in, but that's another story. His love for cats goes back to Gizzy. He loved Gizzy and mourned him at his passing. He stared forlorn at a neighbors cat that happened by shortly after Gizzy passed. After staring a while, he glanced up at me as if to say... "hey, that's Gizzy, aren't you gonna let him in?"
All in all, Hershey is a great dog. He's been through a lot. He's taught us a lot. He's learned a lot. He's watched 5 of his cats pass away. He, too, lived through the loss of Dad. He's high strung, but not destructive. Instead of tearing up furniture when he gets excited, he'll get a "dog" towel that was covering the chair the cats like to scratch on. He understands a lot of words; so, we have been trying to teach him "get a toy" instead in his old age. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. When he gets his mind set on something there is no changing it. It's hard to get his attention when he set on it. He probably would have made a great hunting dog, as all his contributing breeds are hunting dogs, because he loves to get you things.
Hershey is the kind of dog you can sit and tell your troubles to. He sits, looks you in the eye and listens to every word. He'll curl up next to you and keep you warm in winter. He's always happy to see you and always ready to play. He loves food and like any other Lab mix has a weight problem. With a lot of tips from vets and Chico (Hershey's Chihuahua buddy you'll read about later) becoming diabetic, I managed to get Hershey's weight under control. He weighed over 100 pounds in 2007. He now weighs in the mid 80 pound range. I would like him to lose a little more, but I am happy with the weight he has lost.
He is truly a great friend with boundless energy! Always there to cheer you up.