Saturday, January 17, 2015

Scarlett Comes (Back) to Philly

Yesterday we got Temporary Dog #27: a five-month-old purebred red Doberman puppy named Scarlett.

This is actually Scarlett's second time through Wags. She was originally adopted out as a 12-week-old puppy back in November 2014 and was placed with a very nice family in Connecticut. Back then, her name was "Harper Paisley," which is still the name on her internal paperwork at the rescue (so if anyone is wondering why the dog has two names, that's the reason! Harper was her original rescue name and Scarlett is the name that she actually knows and answers to).

Unfortunately, her adoptive family fell into some severe and unforeseeable troubles and was forced to return her to the rescue. So, at five months old, Scarlett is now back with the rescue group and once again looking for a home.

I've only had Scarlett for a little less than 24 hours, so it's very early to make even preliminary assessments of her temperament or personality at this stage. Here's what I can say so far, though:

-- She has kennel cough right now. She also appears to be a little underweight (although it's possible that this is just teenage puppy gawkiness) and has dry skin with some dandruff.

In response, I've changed her diet from Blue Buffalo kibble (which is what her adopter had been feeding her -- that's a good-quality brand, but it's possible that formulation might just not have agreed with the puppy) and switched her to Acana kibble supplemented with the same variety of canned foods, home-cooked foods, and raw foods that my dogs eat. I also gave her an apple cider vinegar rinse this morning to hopefully cut down on some of Scarlett's "doggy odor." We'll see if any of these things help.

-- Housebreaking is very much a work in progress. Given her young age and the culture shock of transitioning from Connecticut to the middle of Philly, however, this isn't too surprising. I'm hopeful that this will prove to be a temporary regression and we'll be out of this phase soon.

-- She's very dog-social and playful with other dogs of all breeds and sizes. Scarlett seems to love the company of other dogs. She's also friendly with children and seeks them out for cuddling and attention. I'd have no concerns placing her in a household with normal, sociable dogs or kids.

I'm not as confident about how she'd do with cats; my impression at this stage is that she would be fine living with familiar indoor cats but might be tempted to chase outdoor or barn cats. However, I'm not going to make any promises on that front this early. I haven't had her around enough cats or small animals yet to feel sure about that.

-- Scarlett seems to be familiar with leash walking and is doing nicely on her EasyWalk harness (although she can be a bit bouncy when she first comes out of her crate and has energy to burn). She seems to know "Sit" and defaults to it with just a little bit of hesitation.

-- I've seen no signs of resource guarding, separation anxiety, unwarranted aggression, or other obvious behavioral problems.

Overall my impression at this early stage is that Scarlett will likely make a wonderful pet for a family that understands and enjoys the highly affiliative, goofy-but-intense, occasionally distractible Dobie personality. Her adopters should be prepared to engage in some form of lifelong activity to keep her brain and body engaged -- whether it's a formal sport like agility or just frequent hikes in new environments, this puppy is going to need something beyond backyard games of fetch to stay happy -- and should also be prepared for lots of positive socialization throughout her adolescence and young adulthood to keep her comfortable around strange people and, especially, strangers coming into her home.

At this point I don't know yet whether I would recommend her as a performance prospect. Her caution in new environments is very pronounced at this stage, and one of the effects of that is that she tends to investigate new areas with a hunched posture and all her weight on her back legs. This distorts her gait and conformation enough that I don't feel comfortable trying to evaluate that myself (admittedly, structural evaluations are not my strongest point, and a more experienced eye might be able to see things that I'm missing... but I can't, so I don't want to make any representations about Scarlett's structure until I've been able to see her more evened out). I also haven't seen enough to feel comfortable assessing her mental qualities for performance yet.

So that's where we are after our first day together. I hope to hang onto Scarlett for the standard two weeks in order to do a more thorough evaluation and hopefully match her to the perfect home. Beyond that, though, it's my hope that we'll be able to place her with a loving forever family very soon.


  1. How's Miss Scarlett doing? Anxious to read the next installment...

  2. Congratulations Scarlett! So happy to hear this sweet little girl found a loving home.