Count Spatula ... Today

The purpose of this blog is to help other rescues learn what is possible when  rehab techniques are applied to tough cases.  Often, HCF has dogs brought to from rescues unable to resolve individual dog behavior issues.  Every dog is different: we do not apply a cut and dry formula for rehabbing dogs.  We make mistakes… and we learn from these.

Each new rehab case bring us new knowledge and offers a challenge to our team.  This blog will be updated as often as possible with progress.  We will attempt to link video when possible.  This information is not being supplied for a guide for the general public or for any individual to put to use on their own dogs or animals in their private care or in care of their organization. This is for professionals only. DO NOT TRY AT HOME.

Background info on this dog:

  • Yellow Lab
  • Previous stray with 2 pack mates
  • Outdoor dog
  • Other rescue contacted by concerned citizen.
  • Other rescue provided basic vet care and neutering.
  • Dog remained in concerned citizens back yard.
  • Dog displayed timid behavior and bonded with female in stray pack.
  • Dog disappeared for approx 10 days and returned with gunshot wound to neck.
  • Email plea from original rescue to help dog that they had gotten to their vet for treatment for gunshot wound.
  • Dog remained at vet for approx 2 weeks. Dog started to display severe fear aggression at clinic…. growling… snapping.
  • Dog was tranquilized and transported to HCF by other rescue.  Dog arrived wearing a muzzle and was displaying extreme fear aggression including urination and defecation when handled.

Arrival date:  March 28, 2009

Goal: Continue medical treatment to heal gunshot wound and rehab dog to make him a great family member for potential adopters.

(Re: Count Spatula: we run out of names and on occasion when we cannot find a name we simply look around and name a dog after the first thing we see or find a theme for names that may hold for a week or more… this particular week’s theme was “kitchen utensils.” The Count part was added during a humor-filled conversation.)

This blog will contain graphic photos of Spatula.  We want to share with those interested the process of his medical treatment.

Day One: March 29, 2009
We allowed Spatula to roam through the house a little. He seems very attracted to puppy Puddin’ and Paul, the Passive Husky.  We had a minor bit of growling and snapping when attempting to move him back to his crate for lunch.  He is quite terrified and relieved himself on the floor.  We are not worried about housebreaking him at this time.

Day Two
Spatula visited the vet today and it was decided his wound was looking good enough to close and put a drain in.   He was not happy about the ride.  We are treating him more like a prey animal than a dog.  Once at the vet clinic we carried his crate to their restroom to release him so we could muzzle him for treatment.  He showed fear aggression and snapped at us: not an earth shattering event in our eyes.  Once muzzled he was not that difficult to handle and accepted IV injection of pre-surgical tranquilizers without protest.  He is now safe with us and doing well.  We will post new pictures of his medical status as soon as we have a moment.  10 pm here and we still have work to do.

Big thanks to Dr. McGarity for staying late at the clinic to sew Spatula up…and it was his birthday… we apologize to his wife for keeping him from home to celebrate.

We will be pairing Spatula up with Puddin’ (the dog) and Paul so he has a pack mate to help him learn about be calm and that humans are not here to harm him.  We can pet and touch at this point but he is easily startled still and will revert to fear aggression if too much mental pressure is applied.

Day 3
We are just letting Spatula hang out with us and select gentle pack members.  He seems to enjoy being in the same room with humans and is allowing more relaxed petting time.  He is eating like a pig.

Lots of petting tonight and lots of tail wagging…a little hand feeding and interaction with the core pack.  We are slowly building trust…it is good to see his tail up and wagging!  (will post photos when we have time)  Just a few days ago he was trying to bite us.

April 5
Lots of progress.  Spatula is now coming when called for petting and attention. He will require another surgery early this week.  Still gaining trust so no real pressure is being applied as of yet.  Tail wags and relaxation is becoming the norm for him.  Doing great with all the other dogs and cats.

April 6
Spatula went in for follow-up surgery today.  He did very well behavior wise. No growling or snapping. He is now allowing us to lead him on a leash.  Nervous at the vet but no aggression.  Surgery went well.  We will update with new photos when we have a chance.

April 28
Spatula is doing great.  Now a full-fledged couch tater.  Allows brushing and petting.  Still won’t come when called all the time.  100% improvement from day one when he arrived trying to bite.  No aggression towards humans at all at this point.  No issues removing some of his sutures.  A few more weeks and we can start working on the leash with him.  Excellent house manners.  He slept outside of his crate last night for the first time and the sofa is still intacted.

May 5
Spatula is doing excellent.  He now sits on the couch and relaxes, enjoys grooming, even allowed strangers to pet him during our Rescue Rehab Workshop.  His wound looks 100% better and we hope to start leash work with him mid June.  Spatula has made many new doggie friends here too. He loves playing with (Blind) Helen and Blu probably the most.  He will be placed up for adoption soon. See his new photos below.

June 11
Spatula is doing great. Comes when called, loves all the dogs. Great with cats.  Starts leash work soon!  Count Spatula is officially up for adoption!