Sunday, November 27, 2011

All About Stella

It's now been four weeks since Stella came to live with us, and I think we have a pretty good picture of who she is and where she belongs. It's probably time to start seriously looking for this foster pup's forever home... so in this post I'll try to get all the basics in one place.

Stella is a seven-month-old hound mix puppy from rural Georgia, where she was found in a roadside ditch, half-starved and covered with fleas. Her brother, Jackson (formerly known as Hugo), was found alongside her and was also transported to the Philadelphia area, where he was adopted by his foster family after just a couple of weeks. Owing to the crappiness of her early life, Stella can be timid in new situations; she's come a long way in the time that we've had her, but she will probably never be an especially bold pup. Once she warms up, though, she turns into a playful little comedian.

Stella weighs about 35 pounds (a compact 35 -- she looks smaller), is spayed, and is up to date on vaccinations. She's an extremely sweet, gentle, people-oriented puppy who likes to play with sticks and balls and other dogs. She makes little chirpy raptor noises when she's frustrated or wants attention, but is not a big barker -- she'll bark if she thinks an intruder is coming, but otherwise barely makes a "whuff."

The one exception to her general quietness is that Stella can get VERY vocal if she is crated out of sight of her people. Being in the crate doesn't seem to bother her at all if she can still see you, but if she can't... well, imagine a dog who yodels with the lungs of Pavarotti, the muscial talents of William Hung, and a dash of sex-crazed alley cat thrown in for good measure. Yeah. Like that. Stella prefers to be a constant companion and will shadow you everywhere if she can; if she can't, she gets worried. I wouldn't say that she has full-blown separation anxiety (she doesn't hurt herself, soil the crate, or break anything), but she does wail impressively for a minute or ten until she calms down. I expect this will go away as she becomes more secure in the knowledge that her people will always come back, but in the meantime, if banshee dog wails would be a dealbreaker, now you know!

Stella is good with other dogs (generally very submissive, although some of this is likely due to her young age) and, although curious about our guinea pig, is not inappropriately obsessed with him, so I think she could likely live with cats or other small pets. Except birds. Stella has it in for birds. And squirrels. And sticks...

Noisy young children are too scary for Stella, but she should be fine with older and calmer kids who have been taught how to interact appropriately with dogs. She is easily overwhelmed by loud noises and big crowds, and would be best suited for a calmer home with an owner who was prepared to continue confidence-building exercises and lifelong positive training. Stella loves learning. She would also do really well with an older, calm dog to act as a role model and play partner.

Stella is trained to both a clicker and the marker word "Yes!" She is generally polite (doesn't pull much on leash, rarely jumps on people in greeting, and is easily encouraged to sit politely and wait for attention instead). Command-wise, she knows Sit, Down, and Spin, and has a fairly good recall (although it's actually kind of hard to test this because she doesn't like to go far enough away for me to have to call her from afar). She is currently working on "Say Hi" (wave) and Stay. She's a smart dog and highly motivated by both food and toys, so training is super easy.

(needs work, but she's getting it!)

Housetraining is a work in progress, and her adopter should expect to continue teaching her to hold it indoors. Stella has no problem going potty outside and will do so promptly; it's the not doing it inside part that hasn't quite clicked. With close monitoring and judicious use of a crate this should not be too difficult, but she's definitely not a dog you'd want to leave loose in your house all day at this point.

Being small and short-haired, Stella doesn't shed very much. I certainly wouldn't call her no-shed, but compared to resident mutt Pongu she drops hardly any hair at all. I honestly think she sheds about as much as the guinea pig does (but before anybody gets too excited about that, let me hasten to add that guinea pigs probably shed a lot more than you're imagining...).

And that is Stella in a (rather large) nutshell! She is a delightful little dog who will make someone a really special companion. If you're interested in adopting or would like more information, please contact me via email at liane(dot)merciel(at)gmail-dot-com or by commenting on this blog.

Don't you want to give this little mutt a home?

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