When my husband and I thought about getting a third dog, rescuing came to our minds. We had decided that even though Tyke could still play agility, I wanted a dog I could compete with; we love the Boston breed, so we applied for a rescue.
On the adoption form, we stated that we wanted a dog who would be good in sports, because we were involved in agility. On August 4, 2011, along came Zeus. The day he showed up on our doorstep, he was a worried little boy. As his foster Mom left, he ran to the window and his eyes followed her to the car, but his worries didn’t last long.
The next day we all went for a long walk. He pulled on the leash quite a bit, so I thought to myself, “out comes the clicker.” We would take all three dogs out together and then it would be just me and him, the clicker and a big bag of treats. It took him a while to figure out what I wanted from him, but once he caught on, he wanted to make that little box make noise! He still pulls a little on walks, but we’ve switched him over to a harness. Besides, during the winter we don’t get out much for walks (only on nice days), so we forget about the pulling. We have learned how to walk on the treadmill, though so we don’t gain too much weight.
The September after we adopted Zeus, we enrolled him into a beginner agility class and he absolutely loved it. With patience and understanding (and of course having trained two dogs before him), we breezed through. We’re lucky to have some equipment we’d been playing with in the backyard, which certainly helped. The primary reason we enrolled him was to get him into a class setting to desensitize him if there were any problems. My little boy loves to please and play with his Mom, though, and in his first 2 trials, he ended up with 5 qualifying scores! We also do demos when asked.
That fall, we were members at a doggie gym that had an above ground pool; the coolest part was that the humans could go into it with their dogs. It took Zeus a little while to be comfortable with it, but he did eventually come in and swim. After that, you couldn’t keep him out of the pool!
During that same time, we had all our dogs tested to be St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dogs. Tyke and Willow passed, but Zeus almost took out granny and her walker on his way across the room! He did still pull on his leash, remember. They really loved his temperament and disposition, but told us to work on leash control and then come back for a re-test. When we went back in March, Zeus passed with flying colors.
This past winter, there was a calendar photo contest on Facebook and I thought that I would enter Zeus doing some agility. The shot I chose was of him doing a jump in the backyard; he had the biggest Boston smile I’ve ever seen and the way he was going over that jump, it looked like he was flying high. Thanks to all his rescue friends, he came in 2nd place!
Since we have gotten Zeus, not only has he become an agility dog, he has also become a St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dog. He has learned to walk on a treadmill, swim in a pool (with a lifejacket of course!), do the wobble board and balance ball (to keep his core strength for agility) and to walk somewhat beside us (that is still a work in progress) AND he’s become a calendar model!
Now, don’t get me wrong. We still have issues that we have to work on, but who would have thought that a rescue could accomplish so much in so little time? With patience, understanding and knowledge, any dog can reach the goals that we set out for them; rescues are the diamonds in the rough and are worth the effort of finding.
Andrea and Greg Serack with Zeus, Tyke and Willow
P.S. Just a small note to say that Zeus’ brother Tyke, is also a Boston, and had his eyes removed January 5, 2012. Incredibly, Tyke still does agility, swims, plays ball, and is a St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dog as well. He does pretty much everything a “normal” dog would do. Knowledge and understanding go a long way. Never stop learning what you can do to help your dog.