A few months ago I adopted a dog from our local humane society. My dog, Bronco, had lost his mother, Zöe, six months earlier and seemed to miss her very much. He was acting lethargic around the house and would whine pathetically upon seeing another dog on one of our daily walks.
Bronco is a 20-lb. male wire-haired fox terrier. He had just turned ten but normally acted much younger. He is a bit frightened of large dogs but acts aggressively with animals smaller than him. The best thing for us would be a 3- or 4-year-old companion dog about his size, preferably a female. The animal shelter's web site had photos of several adoption offers that I liked.
Arriving at the shelter kennels, I was told that all the featured animals had been immediately adopted. However, there was a room next to the lobby which held many small dogs waiting for adoption. Again, the ones that interested me had "adopted - waiting to go home" tags on their cages.
As I was leaving, the receptionist suggested that I go outside and look at the dogs that had just entered the facility.
"They aren’t brought up in front here until they've been evaluated, processed, and neutered or spayed," she said. "That takes four or five days and by then the popular ones have already been spoken for. Go out there and, if you see one that you like, come back here and put a hold on it."
Sure enough, there was a dog I liked. The information on his cage said he had been picked up the day before in the rural fern-farming region of the county, that he was “young”, and a “Jack Russell mix ”.
I couldn’t see any Jack in him myself. True, he was the right size and a shorthair, but definitely the wrong shape. He looked more like a hound to me : long-bodied and short-legged, forming a rectangular rather than the square body profile common to most terriers. He had heavy haunches and almost a pug nose. I later learned he also had the deep baying voice of a hound rather than the yap-yap tone of a terrier.
Nevertheless, he was a very cute dog, practically all white with a faint lemon marking on one ear. And he was friendly, coming up to the wire mesh with a happy face.
I took the dog into the exercise area to see how we interacted. He was alert and responsive. He didn’t cringe at threatening gestures. He was docile on leash but didn’t seem to have been trained to heel. That would not be a problem.
I’ve always had two dogs and the resident dog always helps to train the newcomer. If I put this little guy on a coupler with Bronco, positioning him between Bronco and me, he would be heeling properly within a few days.
Bronco, a very dominant dog, would teach him the rules of the house, just as Zöe had taught Bronco, Toutounette had taught Zöe, Snoopy had taught Toutounette, and on and on, back to my first dog. I decided that if I could adopt him, I would name this pound dog “Ici”. It suited him and I had been waiting for years to call a dog that.
I put a “hold” on Ici and was told to bring Bronco to the kennels for an obligatory introduction visit. This was judged successful (they immediately started to play together). I paid $70 for the various shots and vet fees and was told to come back after Ici's upcoming surgery.
The day I took Ici home he was still a bit groggy from the anesthetic. Bronco was overjoyed to see him and eagerly accepted him in the house. I put Ici in a holding cage overnight so he could recover. He was fully alert the next morning.
Day Two. The first thing he did was to eat three breakfasts : his, Bronco’s, and then the second breakfast I put down for Bronco. Wow! I walked them together and Ici not only peed, he had a bowel movement while on leash. Good, he obviously had some training in that respect.
Ici was caged again until I came home at mid-day, when both dogs were walked together, followed by a very energetic romp throughout the house. This was Saturday, my half day, so Ici was free in the house with Bronco. No problems. The evening walk after their suppers was another success. That was the end of the honeymoon.
From the third day on, Ici was the Hound from Hell. He intimidated Bronco at meal time, staring at him when Bronco tried to eat. Ici insisted it was his right to sleep on the sofa. He refused to spend an hour tied on the front porch with Bronco (who enjoys watching the neighbor’s kids play). After a few minutes he would bark and bark until I brought him back into the house.
When alone in the house, my dogs are confined to the laundry room. Ici tore the room's café doors off their hinges by jumping against them whenever he heard my car coming into the garage.
Worse of all, he started having his bowel movements squarely in the middle of the living room carpeting. This was pure protest.
Any dog who dumps in the house will usually try to find a discreet corner for his business : using the space in the middle of a room is a deliberate act of calling attention to something the dog knows he should not be doing.
On the tenth day I took Ici back to the animal shelter. I explained that he was incorrigible and was wrecking my house. They told me he was a “baby” and that I should be tolerant of him. I was also told that I would never be allowed to adopt another dog from their association.
My vet had examined Ici and thought he was between 15 and 18 months old, certainly not a young puppy. I had seen Ici before he was neutered; he had full-size, fully descended balls. That was no puppy, just a very spoiled, headstrong dog. Found as a stray out in the fern section? More likely someone dropped him off in the countryside to get rid of him. But he was a cute little thing and I’m sure he was soon adopted again. Good luck to his new owners! The next time I want another dog I’ll buy one, thank you.
And Bronco? He seemed relieved to be rid of the Hound from Hell. Since Ici made his brief appearance in our lives, Bronco has met a number of canine buddies that he sees on a regular basis during our walks. He seems happy with that, at least for now.