The first time I saw Chief my heart did flip-flops. Even from a distance I could see that he is special. I stood and watched hm move about the yard for a while. He didn’t seem quite right. That’s not unusual for new arrivals at Homeward Bound, of course. Many of our dogs have been through a lot by the time they make their way here. I found out later that Chief had endured the soul-crushing experience of being dumped by his owner.
The next day I went looking for Chief in the kennels. Turns out he was not at all happy to see me as evidence by the furious barking that greeted me from the other side of the door. I paused and then headed back out knowing that Chief and I would meet again … and often. Many new dogs at HB don’t much care for me. I’m used to that. Some, like Chief, don’t seem to care much for man in general. I later went to his kennel a couple times to take him out but he clearly wasn’t ready for that so went on my way.
What Chief didn’t know at the time is that he would be seeing me every day whether he like it or not. I started having one of the women volunteers hook him up and then pass the leash to me outside. Sure, I probably could have leashed him myself but I prefer to respect their fears and ease into it.
On our first walks Chief mostly smelled everything around him and ignored me completely. I’m used to that too. I’d take him to the big yard to make it easy for him to avoid me. He was good at it. I slipped him the occasional cookie to let him know I wasn’t completely evil. The first couple times I had him out I even let someone else return him to his kennel. After that he started jumping off his bed when he saw me in the kennels. The next time we went out, he leaned against while I was talking to someone. But still no eye contact, and he would play in the yard with me as he did with the women.
I had been wanting to see if Scrappy would play with Chief. Scrappy tends to like big dogs and Chief looks to be part Lab and part Great Pyrenees. Maybe. Anyway, he’s a big boy. Today I got my chance as we were doing dog testing with our recent arrivals. Scrappy was very interested from the start — perhaps overly interested for Chief’s taste. Chief always seemed interested in other dogs but now that one was in front of him perhaps he wasn’t so sure. Patience ruled and eventually Chief started enjoying himself. As did Scrappy. It was immensely gratifying to see Chief so relaxed and enjoying life.