STRNW was contacted by a woman in Boise, ID. She was seeking a new home for an 18 month old male Scottie that she had obtained about four months earlier. As the story went he was from a local puppy mill and he had been mistreated until she took him out of that environment. Apparently he had been crated for most of his life and when he barked or cried he was shot with a BB gun by the breeders son.
The current owner of the dog was not familiar with the breed and had kept him outside with her other dogs. He apparently got on well with the other dogs but he had taken to chasing the owners horses. He'd also had interaction with some chickens which had proved fatal (for the chickens that is). For these reasons the owner contacted STRNW in hopes of finding him a new home.
Dale set the wheels in motion and sought advice on how to best transport the dog from Boise to Washington. Susan Morris of Stornoway Scottish Terriers contacted her daughter Cassie, who lives near Boise and arranged to have her pick up the dog from its owner and place him in a local kennel.
My wife Gayle and I told Dale that if no better method could be devised, we would drive over to Boise and bring the dog back. On October 2, we left for Boise arriving there in the late afternoon. Thinking practically, I wanted to check into a motel and make arrangements to pick up the dog the following morning. Gayle however felt that leaving him in the kennel one more night was out of the question so she was on the cell phone to Cassie making arrangements as soon as we were in range.
We met Cassie at the kennel and got our first look at "Monty." His second owner had given him the name because he would cringe when called by his original name, "Percy." I'd cringe too if my parents had named me Percy. We also suspect that he associated that name with the abuse that had been inflicted on him.
Monty was a coal black, short bodied little guy with a bottle brush tail and a big head. He was also completely terrified. His ears were laid back, his tail was tucked between his legs, the whites of his eyes were showing and he was frantic on his leash. Everything about him projected fear. I picked him up and he went completely stiff and just shuddered in my arms. It was a traumatic introduction for all of us.
We took Monty to a pet friendly motel and once there we noted that he seemed even more frightened to be indoors. When we took him off the leash he'd go to a corner and just huddle there. I took him outside a couple of times during the evening and he would stay as far away from me as the leash allowed. A passing car or another person nearby would cause him to panic and he would try to run under a parked car or under some shrubbery. Going back to the room he would hug the wall and dart looks all around him as if he expected to be attacked.
Gayle kept him on the bed with her through the night. He panted most of the time but he did sleep, probably due to nervous exhaustion. The one positive note was that he didn't hesitate to eat or drink.
We left early the next morning and he traveled pretty well even though we could see the constant bewilderment in his eyes. We got to Dale and Jan's home that evening and once we got him into the house he darted into a darkened bathroom and huddled in a corner. When we left Dale and Jan's there were some tears in the seat to my right but I guess that we were both a bit emotionally drained by the experience.
Dale contacted Dr. Louisa Beal, an animal behaviorist, to evaluate Monty. Dr. Beal said that she had seldom seen a dog so frightened and recommended that he be placed in a permanent home or long term foster care as soon as possible. She also thought that he might be a candidate for anti-anxiety medication to help him adapt to new surroundings.
One good thing did happen quite by accident. Dale and Jan were caring for a 5 month old male Scottie named Duncan who was waiting for a new home. Duncan, who is a total bundle of energy and Monty got out of their pens and proceeded to cut a path of destruction through the Lawrence's garage. The two of them became immediate pals and during their stay together they played incessantly.
Dale had been keeping us apprised of Monty's progress and Gayle suggested that we think about fostering him. I knew where this would end up but there was no way to avoid it.
We picked up Monty on October 7 and brought him home to meet our pack. We tried to ease into the introduction because we felt that he might be intimidated by our three other kids. Fortunately our fears were unfounded because Monty was very eager to meet them. In fact his interaction with Riley, Tyson and Katie really sped up his acceptance of us. From this interaction we learned that his fears are all people based and are obviously a result of his mistreatment by humans.
Since he didn't respond to "Monty" the first thing we did was give him a new name. There is no way you can call a little chicken choker "Monty" or "Percy" so his new name is MacDuff (or Duffy or Duff-Duff). Gayle has recently called him a "little booger butt" after her slippers disappeared (we believe they're buried somewhere in the back yard).
We have found MacDuff to be a sweet pup. He returns affection with affection. He's playful and still shows a lot of puppy. He loves stuffed toys and has stolen all of Tyson's and when we tried to get him to share he buried some of them in the yard (apparently to keep Gayle's slippers company). We've learned that he's intimidated when we stand erect and loom over him. When we get down on his level he loses all fear and will play and cuddle. He's definitely a little hugger and seems to thrive on attention.
MacDuff has come a long way from our first meeting but he's still skittish. He has safe spots in the house where he'll go if something frightens him. He's very wary of strangers though I'm sure he'd be more than happy to meet their dogs. If we're carrying groceries or some other large item when we come in the front door or make an unexpected noise he'll flee to his crate and we'll have to coax him out. He generally recovers from these frights pretty quickly. He's still got a ways to go in the trust department but we have confidence that he'll get there.
After about a month with us we decided that fostering MacDuff was insufficient so he became a permanent member of our pack. With the progress he's made we're hoping that by next years picnic no one will know what a frightened little waif he was when STRNW came to his rescue.
One of the great things about this experience was seeing how many people responded without hesitation to affect MacDuff's rescue. With STRNW it really is all about the dogs.