Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pepper Arrives

Pepper arrived on Saturday morning.

She's an eight-month-old black Lab mix, still very much a puppy, who weighs about 30 pounds and will probably weigh around 35 when she's full grown and filled out (she's a little skinny right now). Despite her small size, Pepper is very much a Lab -- she has the slightly wavy and oily coat (but softer and less greasy than a pure Lab's), a miniature version of the rudderlike tail, the extremely friendly temperament (she seems to be one of those dogs who loves everyone on sight and has never known a stranger), and the natural inclination to carry things around in her mouth.

I named her "Pepper" because of the unique black flecks on her white chest, but really I should've named her Cuddles or Snugglebum or something sappy like that, because that is the kind of dog she is. Super sweet, gentle, and people-oriented. She needs a calm, supportive home that'll give her plenty of affection and help her build her confidence. No force-based training for this girl -- she's so soft that even addressing her with a mildly exasperated voice makes her cringe.

Pepper comes from a high-kill shelter in rural Georgia -- in fact, we pulled her so soon after Gremlin (despite my usual resolve to take a breather between foster mutts) because the shelter was scheduled to put down all the dogs that didn't have a commitment before Hurricane Irene struck, even though the hurricane wasn't projected to go anywhere near that area -- and it is evident that she had little or no training in her past life. She's not housebroken (AT ALL: the mess count for the last 24 hours includes three poops, one pee puddle on my rug, and one vomit in the hallway), has no idea how to walk on a leash, and was terrified of stairs when she first came to us. (The fear of stairs, at least, has rapidly receded; she goes up and down a little hesitantly, but she goes. Living in a third-floor walkup will do that for you.)

My plan is to work with Pepper to get her potty trained, accustomed to leash walking, and otherwise used to living indoors with people, so that when she goes on to her forever home she won't be starting from absolutely zero. We'll practice good house manners and, to the extent possible in the time that I have her, basic obedience commands. I don't know how much progress we can make in a month or so, but hopefully it'll get her off to a good start in becoming someone's dream dog.

Pongu's already counting down the days.

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