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Getting The Pups
In late July of 1996, I received a phone call from an acquaintance. A dog professional, she had a client who had called her in a state of upset. He had two 15-month old Bouvier puppies, of his own breeding, that he wanted to get rid of. When she called me on Wednesday, July 31st she told me that he had said, “If you don’t find someone to take these puppies by Saturday, I’m going to shoot them.” I told her that I could take the male but had to get back to her on the female. My friend, Terrie, agreed to take the little girl so I called back and said we’d get the pups on Friday. On Friday afternoon, Terrie and I headed down to Florence, SC, a 5-hour drive from my house, and arrived at Michael Adams’ mother’s house around 9pm. The pups were being kept there. Terrie and I spoke with Michael for over two hours without ever seeing the pups. He spent the time telling us about his extensive experience with Bouviers and about the personal problems that made it necessary for him to find homes for the pups. He barely discussed the pups, themselves, but Terrie and I had decided to take them, no matter what, because we believed his threat to put them down. Sometime after 11pm, I drove the car into the back yard and, by the light of the headlights, we put the pups into the car. In the poor light, I got only a glimpse of the pups and a pen that appeared to be about 20’ X 20’ and which contained a dog house, the pups and their mother. I also noticed a large bag of dog food propped against the inside corner of the pen. In putting the pups into the car, the male pup snapped at me in fright as Michael tried to push him into the vehicle. I suggested that we see if the female would go in first, which she did, and then the male pup followed her fairly easily.
A few miles away from the house we came across an all-night convenience store and stopped so that we could get a look at the pups. Afraid to take them out of the car we parked under a floodlight. We were horrified at their condition! Michael had mentioned that he had “groomed” and bathed them the day before. He said that the male was “good about it” but that the female “gave them a hard time”. These pups both reeked of “dirty dog” smell and had been shaved to the skin. If they had had a bath the day before, Terrie and I wondered just how badly they had smelled then. Michael had also mentioned, in passing, that he “didn’t realize they were so poor”. (“Poor” is a Southern expression for “in bad shape”.) These pups were skin and bone! We had taken Terrie’s car because it was hot and the air conditioning on mine was not charged but we ended up driving with all the windows opened enough to air the car out. The smell was bad enough to make even experienced dog people gag.
We got back to my house about 5am. The first thing on the agenda was another bath! We put the pups, one at a time, into the tub and scrubbed them thoroughly. It took two sudsings and rinsings, each, before they smelled good again. You never saw two sorrier objects than those two wet, skinned-down pups huddled together on the couch and shivering in fear. We took them outside for a potty walk and were even more horrified. The female, who Terrie had decided to name Dax, was very thin but in slightly better condition than the male. I hadn’t decided on a name for the male. At 15 months old, neither pup had a name. When I asked Michael what they were called he said he called the male “Boy” and the female “Bitch”. Neither answered to these names, thank goodness. Terrie was a big fan of “Deep Space Nine” and, apparently, there was a character named “Dax” who had tattoos down one side of her face and body. Both pups were brindles and, shaved down, the female had dribbles of black down her neck, shoulder and one leg that reminded Terrie of this character. As we went back to the house, Dax speeded up and seemed anxious to return. When the male tried to hurry after her, as soon as he broke into a trot he staggered from weakness. We slowed down for him.
I had made an appointment with my vet for 8am so we
put the pups back into the car and headed out. The male went in willingly
after his sister went first. After a thorough examination, my vet said that
both pups were seriously malnourished and had rickets from long-time bad
feeding. The male had scrapable
Sarcoptic Mange but she treated the female,
as well, because they had been together.
for an image of the actual vet record. I’ve blacked out the vet’s
information and, at her request, her fees. (Her fees are very low!) Both
were positive for hookworms. Both pups were intact but my vet recommended
neutering only after they had been brought back to health.
Reborn the Morning of his Arrival
Terrie stayed the rest of the weekend and took Dax home on Sunday. Michael Adams never once called to check on the pups, to see how they were doing, to even check that Terrie and I were who we said we were. He just dumped two intact Bouvier pups as if they were garbage and washed his hands of them.
Seeing the male pup resting on the couch, clean, warm, fed and being treated for his medical problems, I decided to name him Reborn.
I discovered that Reborn had some very serious emotional problems almost immediately after he arrived. He was the saddest, most buttoned-down dog I’d ever seen in my 36 years as a dog trainer. His biggest problem was that he was “good”. A 15-month old Bouvier pup is supposed to be hell-on-wheels. Reebie never barked. He never wagged his tail. He had no interest in treats and would spit out the most luscious if I placed them in his mouth. He never chewed on things. He had two or three “accidents” in the house. Given his behavior, I never even said a word about these. I picked them up and placed them outside in the fenced yard, near the “productions” of the other dogs, which I didn’t pick up for a few days. After two or three days he was clean in the house forever after. He accepted his pills and mange treatment and whatever else I wanted to do to him as if he were a stuffed dog. When I took him out on lead, to get him away alone with me, he would just stand there if I stopped and follow behind me wherever I wanted to go. He NEVER led, he never pulled, he never showed any interest in his surroundings.
Physically, I had great difficulty getting him to eat. Thin as he was he would ignore his food. I used to keep the dog food in a large bag in the kitchen, handy for scooping. One morning, I noticed that the edges of the bag had been, carefully and neatly, pressed down all around the circumference so that the food was reachable. I suddenly had a clear memory of the night I got Reebie…the large bag standing in the corner of the pen with it’s edges mashed down. Suddenly, I knew! Reborn was used to eating straight from the bag! I put the bag in the spare bedroom and he learned to eat out of a dish. A few weeks later, he had gained weight, his hair was growing back and he was starting to look better. (In the picture, below, he was eating off a crate because his feeding table had not yet arrived.)
Emotionally, Reebie was still a wreck. He was terrified of doors. To get him into the house I had to prop open both the house door and the screen door and then “herd” him into the house. It was months before he stopped charging through the doors and it was well over a year, maybe two, before he came into the house just because I called him in. What a happy day THAT was! Last year I installed a dog door. The first time I saw him, casually, saunter through it I almost cried.
The worst problem was what I used to call his “panic attacks”. Many, many times a day, Reebie would get a glazed look in his eyes and he would begin to pace. The pacing would get faster and faster until he was running, full speed, back and forth through the house. During these attacks, he saw nothing. Whatever was in his way would simply get run down. It was during one of these attacks that he bit me…badly. It was the only bite he ever gave and it wasn’t given out of “meanness” or “viciousness”. I just happened to be standing in a doorway when he was in one of his panic attacks and he, almost casually, bit through my upper arm. His eyes were glazed and I knew that he never even saw me. He has never bitten, or offered to bite, anyone since. It was nearly a year before these panic attacks stopped but they gradually grew less and less until that time.
Reebie was afraid of anything that looked like a rope or a stick. He was terrified of any quick movement and would duck and run if I even raised my hand to scratch my head. He was, obviously, unused to being brushed and I had to use a ZoomGroom, in the beginning, because it could be hidden in my hand. The mere sight of a regular brush set him off into one of his panic attacks. He was also terrified of anything coming near his belly or his genitals. Several times a year, my vet had to give me tranquilizers so that I could shave his belly. I had had him neutered so THAT wasn’t a problem but it was a long time before I could clip him without his being tranquilized. A couple of years ago I took Reborn and Quincy, my other Bouvier, to the NAWBA [North American Working Bouvier Association] specialty. Here’s a picture that I never thought would ever be taken.
By the end of his first year with me, Reebie had turned into a handsome
dog. My living room couch became “his” and remains so to this day. He
became “King of the Couch”
I discovered that Reborn LOVES to jump. Although he’s come to realize that treats are a gooood thing, he still prefers jumping as a reward. Reebie also loves Carol Walker, my training assistant. Carol trained Reborn to his CGC [Canine Good Citizen] and used jumping as his motivator. “Sit on command and you get to jump.” “Stay and you get to jump.” “Come and you get to jump.” Whoopie!
Reborn also loves to hike. Early on, I took him down the street to a nearby field that has a large copse of trees at the top of a hill. The first time we went there, he stalled at the tree line and looked up in amazement, just like a country guy seeing New York for the first time. I practically had to drag him into the trees. After an hour crunching through decades’ worth of dead leaves, drinking from the brook, lifting his leg on every tree possible, I had to drag him back out. Suburban Dog Becomes Instant Nature Lover!
Since that time, Reborn has gone on many hikes. He will be more relaxed for days after each visit with Mother Nature. Reebie also likes to swim…a lot. There is a lake near my house and we go there, often, in warm weather & Reborn spends a lot of time in the water.
On April 21, 2002, Reborn was 7 years old. He’s a changed dog, in many ways but he will never be “right”, never be “normal”. Whatever happened to him in the first 15 months of his life has scarred him, forever. Reebie now barks, although never excessively. He, occasionally, wags his tail. He will take treats. He comes in the house when called and wanders in and out when the door is open. He hasn’t had a panic attack for years. He plays with my little Maltese rescue, Pollyanna and chews on chewies. He really enjoys bathing and grooming. I can sweep the floor without terrorizing him.
Reebie has, and will always have, his hikes. He has a nice yard, good
food and no one to frighten him. He goes on vacation with me and seems to
really enjoy motels. And he has the lake. The lake is good for Reborn’s
You can Help.
September 11, 2006
Reborn died in his sleep this afternoon. He
was fine all day and I was in the room at the time. He went very,
very peacefully. Considering his terrible start in life, Reborn
deserves an easy death.
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