Hardy Plumbing
November 08, 2006

Shelter Stories



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King and Sheba

I brought Dr. Peter Borchelt, one of the top animal behaviorists in the country, to see two of RSVP's most loving "revolving door" dogs to find out what was wrong. Many dogs are alive today because of this problem-solving doctor.

You remember me telling you about King, the five-year-old Golden Retriever mix who was left at Riverhead Animal Hospital tied to a door. Dr. Dexter Archer has kept King at the hospital in hopes the right owner could be found. Here's what Dr. Borchelt had to say about King:

"King becomes protective and territorial and barks at strangers coming into the home. He has never bitten anyone, people or dogs, but adopters have returned him because they were worried about his behavior. King needs a firm owner — an experienced no-nonsense owner — who'll be the boss and let King walk and sniff to his heart's content. 'Firm' and 'experienced' are the key words here."

King doesn't have people-aggression problems, as RSVP volunteers and the Riverhead Hospital staff will tell you. Dr. Borchelt fitted him with a Snoot Loop halter, like a halter used to guide horses. The halter also prevents barking and growling. King quickly became relaxed and enjoyed watching the world around him. He loves to walk and likes some dogs and older children. He's also completely housebroken and knows all the basic commands.

Sheba, the year-old small female Shepherd mix, has different problems. Like King, she has not bitten anyone, but was not properly socialized, living outside in a doghouse winter and summer. Sheba had a really bad walking/pulling problem and lunged at other dogs to protect herself. Dr. Borchelt believes the small dog was "mugged"— badly frightened or bitten by a larger, aggressive dog. "She's on the alert to avoid being attacked again," he said. "The Snoot Loop halter relaxed her. Other dogs no longer bothered her. I would guess that she could quickly learn to trust other dogs and become a good canine citizen in a loving home."

Patience and love. That's what it's all about, readers. And in King's case, a firm experienced owner. "He is basically a very friendly, affectionate dog that can learn to accept new people as friends rather than as enemies," Dr. Borchelt said.

"These two dogs represent very common problems of dogs in shelters. Yelling, or worse, and strong leash corrections create problems. Dominance is not King and Sheba's problem. They can be turned into good canine citizens easily," Dr. Borchelt said, emphasizing the need for owners to demonstrate consistent calm, relaxed behavior and give treats as a reward for a job well done. "Great dogs, King and Sheba," the doctor said as he left to help another dog in distress. For more information, please call RSVP at (631) 728-3524.

RSVP raised $9000 for the Riverhead Animal Shelter last week. Congratulations everyone.

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