A Day with a Homeless Dog

A Day with a Homeless Dog

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Leo: Shelter Life vs Foster Home

Dogs are amazing, especially my man Leo. Yes it is another blog about Leo and he continues to prove to me why I will never give up on him. Maybe you have read my previous blog about him and maybe you haven't. What you need to know is that all dogs deserve a chance and Leo most of all.

To make a long story short, Leo became a resident of the Kansas City Animal Shelter back on February 13th, 2013. He was just a young guy at 9 months old. All we knew is that he was abandoned and he would become a KC Pet Project dog. He grew up in the shelter environment for over a year. 

What we learned from Leo while he was a KC Pet Project dog:
  • His stress levels where high early on and he was easily aroused.
  • He didn't have any basic obedience training.
  • He did enjoy playing with other dogs, but his high energy and rowdy play style did overwhelm some dogs.
  • Leashing him and getting him out of the kennel was a task that was difficult for some volunteers.
  • He did not walk well on the leash, pulled hard and had to be harnessed.
  • He was very mouthy both when playing with other dogs and biting on the leash during walks.
  • He was jumpy and did not know how to greet people properly.
  • He showed signs of resource guarding.

I had experienced most of those behaviors with Leo. Yes leashing him up was often difficult. He wanted to be outside so bad. I always had to harness him during walks and would bring a rope toy sometimes so he could hold on to a toy while we walked. I did get him to sit, but he does like to jump up when he gets excited. He does love playing with other dogs and that is probably his favorite part of the day. He is great at fetch as long as you have two tennis balls. He did get a little mouthy once or twice when I had the ball.

Shelter life will make a dog crazy. Leo needed one on one attention, someone to work with him and who could be patient. Adopters constantly passed by his kennel. He wasn't a good fit for someone with small children and he really needed someone who was dedicated to training him and giving him the physical and mental stimulation he needed.

Fast forward to Apri1 1, 2014. Leo finds his angel! Audrey, a KC Pet Project volunteer, took on the task of bringing Leo into her home. We needed someone to find out how much his behavior could improve if he was in a home environment. I don't know if she knew what she was getting herself into, but I am so glad she said yes to Leo. I have been getting updates and I know the first couple of days Audrey second guessed her decision, but the many volunteers supporting #TeamLeo encouraged her to stick with it and I know she is glad she did.

What we have learned from Leo while in his foster home:
  • He has shown no signs of food aggression. Audrey can take away the kong, his food and doesn't have a problem.
  • He has improved leaps and bounds with his leash manners. He has is moments, but for the most part it is a loose leash.
  • He has become far more patient. He will sit and stay and has learned to lay down. He doesn't jump to take the treat or toy from your hand. He is getting better with this every day.
  • He can actually be calm and lay down and just relax. He is not so aroused and stressed.
  • He sleeps with his foster mom in the bed at night and he is a big cuddle bug.
  • He pretty much hates being kenneled and it takes some effort, but he will go in with some work.
  • There is still work to be done with his jumping and mouthing. She is working with him so he can learn how to greet properly.

Audrey has become dedicated to helping Leo become a more adoptable dog. She has fallen in love with his cute face and wrinkly forehead. She wants him to succeed just as I do. We are both very determined to find him a place where he can continue his training. Maybe it is a rescue group who can help him even more with the one on one training. Maybe there is an adopter out there who can continue improving his behavior and work with him. We both want what is best for Leo. He has waited far too long and now that he has began to show improvements in a foster home, we want to see it through.

I write these blogs because I care about every dog I meet. Leo has a piece of my heart and I can't say thank you enough to all the staff and volunteers who WILL NOT give up on him. He has what it takes to be an awesome dog, who will give him the life he deserves?

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