Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rottweiller? Rottweiller! Rottweiller.

Our Bouvier-cross, Sonja, adopted full-grown and with us 10 years, had just passed. It was horribly sad for us. I, in particular, still miss her as she was with me before I was either married or had children. It seemed, she was with me for my entire adult life. I guess she kind of was...

We wanted a mature dog because Czar, our GSD was 8 years old and a rescue who had recovered from heartworm. And honestly, I prefer the ease of training an older dog. They 'get it' so much quicker than a pup ever does. So, I did my searching on the net using the animal love foundation.

This 5 year old guy looked like a big couch potato in the photo. Perfect for us, I thought.

The previous owners drove almost two hours to bring him to us. It was important to them that he have a good home... that was obvious.

They had said that if they couldn't find him a home, they would put him to sleep, rather than risk him being adopted by the 'wrong person'. I appreciated their passion about his being safe and having a good quality of life. I empathized with their desire to ensure their dog's well-being, and sympathized with their position of being unable to keep their dog because of having to move to the city with a small lot and no fences.

Then when this big bag of muscle jumped out of the vehicle in our driveway, I felt my face do a twitch. :rolleyes:

This was a big rottie. Nothing I would ever think of wishing for in a dog.

He had mostly lived in a garage for three years. (Turns out he was two years younger than they remembered.) He had no manners. He fell up the stairs. He fell down the stairs. He chased my 18 year old, cancer-filled cat. :(

His name was Rush. (For Mount Rushmore - they said.) He didn't answer to it. They didn't take him off the leash for fear that he wouldn't come when called. Uggh! What had I gotten myself into? :eek:

I leashed him to me both inside and out, granted him privileges with appropriate behaviour, and he went from sleeping in the sunroom to sleeping in our bedroom within the first two weeks. He was soon following me from room to room without the leash. He still does, even though he's been with us for three years and doesn't have to so much anymore.

He didn't seem to know his name anyway and I didn't want a dog that looked tough to have to tough name too... So we sat around the table and made a long list of names. We got down to the last two... Fred and George. Between two 37 year olds, a 6 year old and a 4 year old, we couldn't decide. The dog just lay there, enjoying his bone near the kitchen table.

So, I told everyone to be very quiet and said 'Fred'... nothing. Then I said, 'George'... and he looked up at me. We all laughed and figured he had chosen. He has answered well to that name ever since he chose it. (My Grandfather's name - could he be a reincarnation? :D) And it didn't take long for him to come easily when called, even when he's got half an acre on me chasing the birds or a rabbit... or the neighbour's cat. :eek:

The previous owners said that he wouldn't like it inside but I leave our kitchen door open and he only wants to go out when nature calls or if I'm outside. He really doesn't go outside just to sit by himself or even with Czar.

When he is lying down and being petted, he makes a growling sound. This made me very nervous. Soon, we realized that it was really his, very loud, version of a 'purr'. Later, I found out that this is common in rotties. It is referred to as 'the rottie rumble'. (Though I warn people that it must be assumed to be a warning growl until you are very sure it's a rumble... to be on the safe side. Even living with him, it took several weeks... a couple of months even, to establish that this dog is not a big 'growler' but is indeed a big 'rumbler'.)

He's not allowed on the furniture but does have a very big, thick cushion in the living room, a blanket in the kitchen and several blankets in the bedroom. He sleeps right next to my bed so that I can just reach out and give him a stroke through the night.

He also MUST do a sit/stay every time he gets food and he MUST go into a 'down' position if a visiting child goes near him (a 'sit' for adults). He doesn't mind doing this because he loves children and knows that if he goes into the 'down' position, the child will be allowed to pet him. We have 3 children from 9 yrs to 1 yr in the house and he gets loads of regular strokes from them... But there's just never enough love for George!

We've had him for three years and every person who comes to our house is, at first, taken aback by his size, and then reassured by his well controlled behaviour.

George, we found, also had hidden talents. He duck sits the chicks and ducklings, staying ever vigilant.  It seems that he takes extra special care of the babies with extra challenges.

After some training so that he knew not to kill our yard chickens, I found that he would help me 'round them up' at night when it was time to put them back in their coop. Chicken rassling for rotties 101 was, apparently, not a required course for him... it just came naturally.

We've got one nasty chicken. Blooie-the-wicked-chicken will wait until your back is turned and then sneak up behind you to peck you hard. Well, when George is on watch, he will chase that Blooie right back to the coop if he notices her taking her 'attack' stance.

And though the chickens will run from him, if he is in between them and a bucket of tasty kitchen scraps I've brought out, they will not think twice about using George-The-Great-Launching-Pad to get to the food post-haste.

This is the same dog who (with us only a year at the time), when my 5 year old upset a wasp nest, knew immediately that my son was in danger and went to the rescue.

George was snapping at all of those wasps, flying in the air, all around my curled up boy, until I finally clicked onto what was going on, raced over to them and pulled my son out. Then we all ran away together.

That dog took at least 20 stings in his mouth and around his face that day... on purpose. I just shake my head when I think of how George knew my son was in danger long before I did... and that he knew just what to do without being told. - You don't hear THOSE stories in the news too often. :frown: George will always be our hero!

We've also found out that rotties are the kind of dog whose world will stop when their person is away.  George waits for me by the door, by the gate or at the end of the driveway.  He never tires of waiting for me and he really has turned into the biggest baby I have.

I believe it is important to show people that this is a breed that is well worth saving.

I never would've wished for a rottie because I never knew one. Now, I'm glad they got his age wrong, because that means I get two extra years with him :)... and I just can't imagine my life without my George. :wink:

Please contact the Animal Love Foundation or Humane Society and ask about adopting a 'senior' in your area! We've had three and loved them all!


Anonymous said...

I am a volunteer with Animal Love and we love to hear these stories. You and your family have done a wonderful thing by taking George into your home and your lives. Rotti's are a beautiful breed and deserve the "right" kind of forever home. I have had the great fortune to foster a couple Rotts and I fell in love with the breed. I have done my research and we have decided that we would like to adopt a Rotti when the time is right.
Thank you so much for saving George and giving him a new lease of life.
volunteer, Animal Love

Kim Gray said...

Thanks for writing, Sue. And thanks for all you do at the Animal Love Foundation. I don't know that we would've found George without you. :)

Kindest regards,

Anonymous said...

Hey Kim-

I adopt dogs all over the place and only the hard to place kind- well until our current Doodle- she wasn't hard to place just exueberant and bigger than expected. I had a rottie border collie cross- we called him the Rott'n Collie. his name was Buddy. He was the absolute love of my life and the smartest animal I ever knew. I wish veryone could have known Buddy as he changed everyones opinion on the breed.

My mom has a pitt cross- I call her sister and she is the sweetest most loving creature in the world- and the second pitt in my life. I adopted Damian 12 years ago- he had been badly abused and I fell in love with him at first site. He became the sweetest gentleman with a fierce side he only showed as appropriate. He died of Muscular Dystrophy- pitts are prone to it. Sister now has it too.

I have had three other rotty crosses and never met a rott I didn't love. Well- never met a dog I didn't love- eapecially the ones who no one else seems to love. Dogs are empaths by nature- they will adopt the traits of their companions- the hman ones especially. Fear breeds fear and what is deemed an aggressive response- when it is only meant as a self protective one. Understanding and kind treatment go a long way in a dogs heart.

KimS said...

I'm always glad to meet another human who 'rights the wrongs' that have been done to these poor animals.

As you have expressed so well, they enrich our lives, each in their own individual manner... beyond measure!