Last night at 2 am we braved the snowy roads (including an apparently unplowed, ice-packed Broad Street), single-digit weather, and assorted completely insane cab drivers to collect Shakespeare, Temporary Dog #23, from a rest stop outside Newark, Delaware.
Shakespeare is yet another mystery mix who was picked up as a stray in Robeson County, North Carolina. The shelter estimated his weight at 30 pounds, but he actually turned out to be smaller: right now he's just a smidge over 20 pounds and slightly underweight; his healthy weight is probably in the neighborhood of 25 pounds.
His build is long and low like a Dachshund or Basset Hound, but his coloring, ear feathering, and plumed tail are pure Golden Retriever (in the light, near-white color that some breeders are marketing as "English Cream" or "Silver"), right down to the slightly deeper ombre effect at the ends of his ears and the underside of his tail. His coat is super soft and fluffy, and he sheds moderately. The vet guessed him as a Beagle mix, which is certainly another possibility.
Shakespeare and his brother Buzz were picked up by Animal Control after a person called to report a pair of stray dogs in the neighborhood. Based on the circumstances in which they were found, the dogs' obvious confusion at their situation, and their poor physical condition, it is probable that they were intentionally dumped. Buzz was suffering from open, festering sores and raw, bloody patches on his skin, which turned out to have been caused by flea allergies and his worrying at the irritated skin. His condition was so bad that he was within hours of dying from shock and infection before a rescue took him.
Shakespeare had some similar, although much milder, symptoms of flea allergies as well. Although the dogs' condition could easily have been prevented by use of topical anti-flea treatments (or, even more simply, by keeping the dogs indoors), it is unfortunately not uncommon for owners in this region to ignore their dogs until they are in pitiful shape, then dump them when treatment becomes too expensive or onerous for them to deal with. We'll never really know for sure, but my guess is that this is what happened here.
In any case, Shakespeare's safe now.
It's too early to tell much about this little guy's personality. He was only neutered on Thursday, so he's still recovering from surgery, as well as the considerable culture shock of trading rural North Carolina for a major East Coast city in the grip of a cold wave. At the moment, Shakespeare is very unsure of himself and shut down, and I'm guessing he'll need a couple of days to start coming out of his shell. Until then, about the only things I feel comfortable saying about him are that he's a sociable and cuddly little dog who takes comfort in the presence of a calm, friendly person, and that he seems more relaxed in the company of other dogs.
Also, he doesn't seem to like snow very much so far.
For now, the immediate goal is just to make Shakespeare more comfortable in his new environment. He's currently too shut down even to walk on leash (he just pancakes on the ground and refuses to move), so formal training and manners work will have to wait. He doesn't appear to be a fearful dog, though, just temporarily overwhelmed, so I'm not concerned about behavioral issues. I expect that within three or four days I'll be dealing with a much more confident dog.