On Sunday, I went to visit Charlie, a German Shepherd Dog mix, who's been at Toronto Animal Services West for four months waiting for someone to adopt him. A dog not getting adopted for this long is usually due to some fairly challenging behavioural issues so I was expecting a loud, frenzied, ADHD afflicted dog.
That's not how it turned out. Charlie is rambunctious - and that, I suspect, is due more to being locked up in a kennel by himself for twenty three hours a day than anything else - but he's very much owner focused and a lot of fun. Some dogs might get depressed or ill after being caged for so long. Not Charlie. His resiliency and his ongoing affection for people is a wonder to see and yet heartbreaking at the same time as he still has to spend his life in a kennel hoping someone will some day come by and see his loyal and affectionate nature beneath the bluster.
One of Charlie's main hurdles is his poor cage presentation so when a person walks by his kennel door, he can get highly aroused and jump up and down and maybe bark. For most people, this sort of behaviour is pretty hard to get past. However, Charlie only acts this way with strangers who approach his kennel door. This is how he behaved when I approached after I'd already met him outside for only a few minutes. Please note, the dog doing most of the barking is not Charlie.
Here is Charlie showing some of the commands he's learned recently:
Charlie, when he is first taken for a walk. High energy and excited.
Charlie settling on the walk after a few minutes. Note how often he's checking in with the walker:
This is what Chris, one of the volunteers at TAS West, has to say about Charlie:
Charlie is a high energy dog with big-time smarts who loves people. He can be excitable and a little jumpy in his kennel, but once out and walking he settles down quickly. Charlie will need an owner who loves to walk (or better still run) because this boy likes to go…and go…
Charlie learns incredibly fast. He loves liver treats and will work hard for them. In a few short weeks he’s learned sit, down, paw and touch. He’s also learning to walk on a loose leash, and if he pulls you just say his name and he comes back and sits in front of you. When he’s off leash in the fenced yard he responds well to ‘come’ and will run full speed back to you, then drop into a sit and wait for his treat.
Once he gets to know you, Charlie is your best friend – his tail never stops wagging, whether he’s playing fetch (or keep away) or coming for a neck scratch. He is a clown and will keep playing until you beg him to stop.
Charlie will need exercise and more training. If you’re willing to put in the time and be patient, you’ll be rewarded with a great dog with loads of personality who will just want to make your life one big play-date.
The best way to check on the adoption status of Charlie (and other dogs and cats and other small domestic animals) is to visit Toronto Animal Services adoption website or call (416) 338-6271 for the Toronto Animal Services West shelter. If Charlie is no longer on the TAS adoption website, it's probably because he's been adopted already.