It’s time for another update on Sweetie — now Sweet Georgia Brown — the deaf cattle dog you helped bring across the country to a breed specialist.
It’s been a year now since Sweetie (now Georgia) came into our lives. The sad news is that she’s still waiting for her forever home, BUT there’s lots of good news from her life.
Some of you may recall that this pretty little girl was found wandering alone last November in South Carolina. She was scared, skinny, and needed a good flea treatment — all of which were provided by her rescuer (Mary Lou Seymour), who also got her spayed, microchipped, and updated on vaccinations. But Georgia had two strikes against her: she is deaf, and she was heartworm positive. After several attempts to place Georgia in rescues and forever homes in her home state, it was decided that maybe she’d be better off with a rescue that is familiar with her breed, so with the help of many folks (including a number of you who read Claire’s blog), the money was raised and she flew to Oregon on April 1.
After a two-week stay with Claire, I picked up Georgia on April 15 and we prepared to start her heartworm treatment. This isn’t a project to be taken lightly. It involves some serious money and medication: three deep intramuscular shots that require the dog to be sedated as they are deep and painful, and about 12 weeks of minimal exercise while the worms are dying, decomposing, and being shed through the bloodstream. Then regularly repeated blood tests to ensure that she is heartworm-free. Thanks to so many of you who contributed, on January 20 Georgia will have her final blood test, and we have every reason to believe that she’ll be HW-negative. Her x-rays showed no damage to her heart and we expect her to live a full, normal life.
Since late April, Georgia has been in the care of a wonderful pair of foster dads. They both work full time and they’re not “dog wonks” like so many of us who work in rescue, but they ARE loving, gentle people and they’ve done wonders with Georgia (in fact they’re responsible for her name change as they said after the first few days that even though she wasn’t from that state, she still is a little “Georgia peach”). Just being in one home with a regular schedule and knowing what to expect each day has gone a long way to helping Georgia settle down and start building some confidence in herself and her world.
She rides quietly in the car these days, instead of lunging and barking at passing vehicles; she walks well on leash; she’s well-behaved (if not 100% comfortable) out in public — even places like Lowe’s and PetCo. She allows strangers to pet her but doesn’t linger and will hide behind her person. Rusti and Ted have faced some challenges with Georgia — her excitability when she sees a stranger near “her” yard — but they’ve persevered. While she’ll still bark, she doesn’t become hysterical and they can get her back to them to settle down.
She’s not had her walk today; it’s cold, wet, and strong winds here this morning. Nothing I want to walk in, but she’s laying quietly by my feet — alert every time I get up, hoping we’re going to DO SOMETHING, but basically accepting of the fact that we’re just hanging out.
The most noticeable change, to me, is that while she’s still a very typical “velcro” cattle dog, she is not as demanding of physical contact, petting/reassurance as she was the day I received her from Claire. She does want to have me in her sight, but if she’s confined to another room, as long as she can see me, she’ll settle down and even sleep. If she’s being left home, she crates well and is fine in there until we return; and she crates at night (although the first couple of nights were a little rough), but her preference would be to sleep on the bed. A poor second would be a crate in the bedroom.
She knows some signs: come, sit, down, and stay. But she’s not 100% yet! Georgia is a pretty typical young Australian cattle dog (heeler), and if you’re interested, you can learn more about her breed at Cattledog.com. She definitely will push the rules to see how far she can go with bending or “adjusting” them! I’ve picked up a laster pointer and am using it for both training and play as she does love to chase that little red bug around the floor!
Georgia still has a few behavioral issues, but nothing that can’t be easily addressed given some time and training. I also truly believe that she would be a really fun little agility dog. Agility would provide some focus for her energy, and I’ve seen before how it can help build confidence in a dog who has little — both with humans and other dogs. She’s still has some social issues around other dogs;once again, nothing serious. Of course she can’t be in an unfenced/open area without being leashed, and she can never be left out in a yard (even a securely fenced one) unsupervised (well, no dog really should).
Georgia has been visiting me for the last 10 days so I could do some evaluation and I think it’s time for her to move to a new foster — or preferably forever — home where she can move forward with her training and social skills.
So far, I’ve not found the right place for her: with someone who has the interest in taking on the challenge of training a deaf dog — a person who is ready to challenge their own ways of thinking, communicating, and seeing the world. She also needs a home where she can more easily be separated from other dogs in the home — not because she’s aggressive towards them, but because she is afraid of them and believes that a good offense is the best defense! I believe that given time and positive reinforcement she can learn to live comfortably with another easy-going dog, but right now she’s still pretty defensive. A home with no other dogs would be the easiest, but it wouldn’t teach her anything about getting along. She’s been living with a senior kitty named Sassy, who lives by her name, so Georgia knows that kitties are not to be messed with, but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t try if she found one that would run. I would not have her in a home with birds. A home with older children is certainly a possibility (depending on the children). We’d recommend 10+ years old.
We’re very proud of our little blue-eyed girl, and we’re very grateful to all of you who helped make it possible for us to care for her and get her healthy. Georgia is a sweet, gentle girl with so much love to give, and a lot to teach us — about being deaf, about seeing the world, and about loving unconditionally. If you know of someone, or think you might be up for the challenge of meeting her needs and expectations, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
I live near Portland, OR and we’d like to keep her w/in the OR/WA/ID/Nor. CA (north of Sacramento) area, so that we can more easily retrieve her if she goes somewhere and it doesn’t work out. Contact me if you’d like to talk more: watkins at ridenbaugh dot com
Pet Adoption Network/
Australian Cattle Dog Rescue, Inc.
watkins at ridenbaugh dot com