Got into Billings
Since I hadn't slept since Saturday night, had to go do that.
Back to the Metra at 8; first task on the agenda -- a bitch had given birth in the night. The two county ACO's and I wrangled her freaked-out cellie out of the stall so that Momma dog could have some privacy. The other little bitch was quite glad to get away from Momma. Later in the day the new family was moved to a vet's facility.
At nine, there was an orientation for new handler volunteers, run by Tony Barone, the Billings-area trainer who has taken the lead on behavioral rehab.
Each handler takes responsibility for the dogs in one or two stalls, and provides a consistent point of reference for each animal.
At this phase, the dogs must be tamed before they can be trained or socialized, or their true temperaments and possibilities assessed.
NESR provided a protocol for the taming phase, and I was happy to see that the workers here have found it useful. I'll adapt it and post it on this blog soon.
Watching the watcher
Some dogs were curious and would approach and even touch me. Others paced and scurried. There are a few pills who will bluff charge, barking and growling. Many will huddle in the corners and watch. The quality of their eyes varies, from soft and searching to round and wild to pinched and haunted.
I've so far seen not one genuinely aggressive dog.
Then there are the dogs who worry me most:
This guy would occasionally look quickly away from the corner to see if I was still there -- never long enough for me to capture his portrait.
It will take three things for this dog to trust human beings: patience, patience, and patience.
And yes, those are shit dingleberries on his flank. He did not accrue them on the clean straw at the Metra. I would not have believed that an ES, with the breed's teflon coat, could acquire such an accessory.
In contrast, some of the dogs are already accompanying their handlers on walks.
There is such hope here, and such devotion.
For every dog, the path to a good life.
Billings Channel 8
Channel 8 Video
As always, keep checking National English Shepherd Rescue for updates.