Monday, December 09, 2013

10 July 2013 Welcoming Phineas

Sometimes you just close your eyes and pull the trigger. Since Eva's passing we had sadly watched Gwen become a shadow of herself. We could get her fired up once in while on the trail, but there was no spark in her anymore. Her stump which had wiggled happily for so many years sat still. She would be walking a trail and just stop. If she were younger, we would have tried to work through this, but she's already the last remaining dog from her litter. We were both worried she wouldn't last unless we found a way to give her a companion.

I had realized this before Ali and had been diligently searching rescue sites and for a suitable dog. I didn't think a puppy was the answer, but was certain that Gwen was still a strong trail dog, if we could get her through the loss of Eva. I searched everywhere. I located a cocker spaniel in western Cuyahoga, but it was adopted quickly. I located a couple of pointers in Ashtabula, but Ali wasn't ready for a memory that close to Eva. I had lined up a couple of potential australian shepherds, but I wasn't sure Gwen would accept another aussie in her life.

Ali finally agreed something had to be done and we made time to visit the Geauga Dog Warden where baby Eva had been found. They had a number of dogs in the correct size range and of a reasonable age to work with Gwen. It didn't go well. Gwen can be a little stubborn, and she wanted nothing to do with the dogs we were showing her. Finally, the volunteer insisted we try her with an elderly, overweight male to see how that worked. Gwen was okay with him. The volunteer was certain that her work was done and did everything possible to convince us this was the dog for us. There were just a few problems. He was about 80 pounds, and we had agreed we would never bring home a dog as big as Eva's 50 pounds again let alone 80 pounds. He could also barely move. While he was a sweet and gentle dog, we are trail people. He would have never gotten to a shape where he could hike with us even if we could fit him in our vehicle. The whole point ws to find a companion for Gwen both at home and on the trail. The volunteer completely failed to understand it made no sense to make a match that didn't work in so many ways. In the end, I was completely frustrated, and Ali realized it was time to get me away from there.

Then I spotted a beagle waiting for a rescue in Lake County. I had a beagle earlier. Ali had a beagle earlier. We both know they have their trials, but he was a five-year old male and they are strong trail dogs. If Gwen was happy, this could be it. Ali had visited him the day before. She was excited that we might have success if only things worked with Gwen. The Lake County veterinary technician was flawless. She introduced them perfectly and we soon had a beagle in the family. Ali already had Phineas picked out as a name so Phineas he is.

How do you break in two dogs who need to socialize? You take them geocaching of course. We headed off to a Lake Metropark at the Lake Erie shore to give them some time together. Later that evening we were off to Burton and finds for a couple of solved puzzles.

It wasn't a perfect first day, but we made it through. Welcome home Phineas... may you find many caches.

So far so good. They are both on leash with the same person.

Given a choice, I wouldn't start time with a new dog on a super hot afternoon at a park with no shade. Luckily he drank water although we would later find out that it was no fluke when he refused treats on the trail.

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