Charlie #13 Chocolate Labrador Retriever Male 9 Years Old ID #2374
September 21, 2020
Hi everyone, Charlie here. My Brookline # is 13 but I think 13 is a lucky number in my case since I was rescued from a shelter in New Jersey, and stayed with foster mom Jane, and and labby sister Nina. Today I finished my first week with my new foster mom, Patty. Although I miss Jane and Nina, I am settling into my new foster home.
While my mom works from home, I keep myself entertained by playing with my toys or taking a nap. Sometimes, when I think she’s worked too long, I take a toy to her since she might want to play. In the last week, I showed what a good boy I can be: no accidents in the house, I sleep through the night, and don’t stir until mom wants to get up, I sit and stay when she says so, I don’t jump on people, and I don’t bother mom when she’s eating.
I LOVE going for walks, and often get more excited when I see my leash then when dinner arrives. Most of the time, I greet my new neighbors with a wagging tail, especially if they are walking their dog. But often, strange men make me bark; however, Jane showed mom some tricks to help with that. Oh, and another thing–I don’t like loud machinery. When the next-door neighbors cut their grass, or use leaf blowers, I start barking, and run along the fence if I’m outside. If I get too excited, I could start to wobble, and stagger as I’m going to faint. This has only happened once so far with foster mom, and I think she’s glad about that. She makes sure I get my medicines throughout the day when I’m supposed to; Jane showed her how to do that. I think the meds are helping.
Over the weekend, we worked in the yard, and mom took some pictures. Here’s one of me looking handsome in my new bowtie (if I do say so myself), and one of me relaxing in the yard being a good boy.
September 5, 2020
Charlie has one more week to stay here before he goes on to his new foster home in Wilmington, DE, and I’m already sad. He does need his potty breaks and his medications at regular intervals, and some companionship during the day, along with a fairly quiet environment. But this playful 9-year-old has years of love yet to give. Still keeping my fingers crossed that someone will realize that this big chocolate sweetie with the happy (but slightly malformed) heart is meant for them!
Yesterday Charlie had his first bath while staying with us, as resident dog Nina looked on in horror. I just called him over to me (outside) and turned the hose on him, and he stood quietly while being shampooed and rinsed, like the good boy he is.
We’ve been making some progress on Charlie’s training. I got some great tips from a Brookline colleague., who worked with a trainer on one of her dogs, and immediately started implementing the first phase several days ago. Today the lawn crew showed up, which always sets Charlie off, and on cue he began to bark furiously and run around like a nut. I quickly dug out his special high value treats (hot dog pieces) and started issuing his ‘Look’ command, and it worked (mostly). He wasn’t exactly calm, but the barking and running around was held to a minimum, because he was very interested in getting those treats. And as a result, no fainting, so I’m declaring a success!
He and Nina got two new stuffed squeaky toys this week, and as a result there has been much mutual thievery going on, as well as the occasional tug-of-war. These toys both squeak and crackle when mouthed, and Charlie loves to lay next to my feet when I’m at my laptop and gently crackle one of the toys continuously until he decides to take a nap.
I’ve never felt quite as secure in the house before Charlie arrived. He notices everything, checks out any suspicious noises, and on the occasions when wild dingo Nina is being too rough with me, Charlie guards and protects me.
If any adopters are out there looking for senior pets, please check out this very special dog.
August 29, 2020
This lovable big chocolate goof is finishing off his seventh week here in our foster home. Now, this handsome boy is looking for his forever home. His heart condition does cause him to swoon when over-excited. It isn’t scary– he just sort of sinks into a heap without losing consciousness and then in about 20 seconds he pops back up again. The cardiologist says these episodes don’t hurt him, as long as they don’t become too frequent.
He and resident diva Nina have taken to playing tug-of-war with the supposedly ‘tough’ squeak toys I bought for them. Charlie is a formidable tugger, and manages to drag the 20 pounds lighter Nina across the bare floor quite handily. Yesterday when Nina was acting out with me a little too forcefully, Charlie intervened to ‘protect’ me, and she quickly reconsidered her naughty behavior. He is definitely the top dog around here, but could really benefit from a calmer companion than Miss Nina, who riles him up too much with her barking and zooming. He likes to chew on his stuffed toys and remove the fluffy stuff inside to get at the squeaker (or anything else that might be interesting inside), another trait he shares with Nina. Stuffed toys have a short life span around here unless Foster Mom sutures them back up again.
For 80% of the day, Charlie is super-chill, snoozing on one of the sofas or floor (he ignores all dog beds as unworthy). Then he’ll waken, pick up one of his tennis balls or a stuffed toy and come drop it at my feet, saying it’s time to play. Something always rolls or gets shoved under the sofa multiple times during playtime, so Foster Mom has to fish it out. He steals whatever toy Nina has possession of, and then she steals his, and around and around they go. Play times don’t last too long, then we take one of our frequent short walks and hydrate all the bushes or weeds that need moisture, in Charlie’s estimation.
He deserves a great family to call his own forever, and I’m hoping that somebody out there among our approved adopters will reconsider this sweet guy. He’s so affectionate and grateful for attention–he makes soft little groaning noises when you rub his belly, and that tail beats time like a metronome. The attached (rather shaky) videos show a tiny segment of him playing with the latest toy, and just strolling around showing off his glossy coat in the sunshine.
August 20. 2020
9-year-old Charlie is finishing off his sixth week at our house. To celebrate, fellow Brookline volunteers Elisa and Bryan came by to visit and take Charlie to a nearby park. They had made friends with Charlie on a previous visit, and renewed the acquaintance with the gift of some delectable hot dog bits. We wanted to test out his apparent leash aggression with strange men, with multiple hands available to hold and calm him and give him treats. He did lunge and bark at one couple who were walking their smaller dogs, but when we ran into fellow volunteer Lorraine and her husband Gary walking their grand-dog, Charlie was fine and friendly.
After our lap around the park, we strolled over to an adjacent restaurant that allows dog companions for outside dining. Charlie thoroughly enjoyed this new experience, although he hoped in vain for Bryan to drop a piece of pizza or cheese fry within reach. Many thanks to Elisa & Bryan for giving him this fun outing, and for providing the attached pictures.
I also did a parking lot experiment earlier this week– driving Charlie to the local supermarket and parking next to the cart return so we’d see lots of strangers. Every time a man came near the car, Charlie got a treat. He was interested, and eyed them closely–but no barking or growling. I’m convinced he can be trained out of reacting to strangers in just about any situation, including on leash. It’ll just take time, patience, some helping hands, and a whole lot of treats. Not that these 80 pounders need any bulking up.
In consultation with his cardiologist, Charlie stopped taking the new diuretic medication she had prescribed earlier. It seemed to increase the incidence of near-faints to a daily basis any time there was even minor excitement. Eliminating this has reduced these episodes to nearly zero, so I’ll see whether the vet thinks he should resume it again at a lower dosage, or abandon it completely.
I hope to shortly put Charlie up for adoption so he can find the forever family who can enjoy the love and playfulness he has to offer in his remaining years. Charlie hopes whoever it is believes in giving dogs people food, which his cruel Foster Mom does not.
August 8, 2020
Charlie has been with me for four weeks now, and he’s survived the excitement of Hurricane Isaias. For a while it looked like we’d have to evacuate when the creek behind us and the pond next door overflowed their banks dramatically and the floodwaters came within 50 feet of the house. Fortunately, the rain started to slack off just in time. Many thanks to Elisa & Bryan, who were ready to step right up and give shelter to Charlie and Resident Diva Nina. Charlie was even introduced to sushi when he found an unfortunate victim of the flood in our far backyard, and I wasn’t quick enough to spot it first. He pronounced it excellent, marinated in brackish pondwater.
Charlie’s been getting used to the new diuretic medication prescribed last week by his cardiologist, and I think it was the cause of a few near-fainting episodes caused by the tremendous excitement of seeing his FM come home from an errand. The doctor said it would take about two weeks to adjust, and he’s been fine the past couple of days. We had some challenges getting his supply of other meds renewed by his various vets, but that’s all ironed out now.
I had a virtual consultation today with a behaviorist from MyPetsTeacher, who provided many good ideas for working with Charlie on his overreaction to strange men. Now I just have to find some volunteers to help create the appropriate conditions for his short training sessions. I’m very confident this can be overcome, since Charlie is a sweet and affectionate dog. He’s always so happy to see me, to go for a walk, to grab a toy or squeak his ball, to get a treat or a meal. Even Nina allows his paws to touch hers while they lounge on the sofa!
July 30, 2020
Charlie has made significant progress on a couple of fronts since the last update. He went to a cardiologist for an expert opinion on his heart condition, and the news is positive! Instead of the grim dilated cardiomyopathy we feared, he instead has congenital tricuspid valve dysplasia. It still restricts blood flow and can cause Charlie to faint when over stressed/overexerted, but his heart function is good, blood pressure is stable and his prognosis for a normal lab life span is looking good. I’m so relieved and happy for this great dog! The doctor said he can be allowed to play– just not overdo it and work up to more activity gradually.
The other progress, and this was key to my retaining sanity, is that Charlie and Resident Diva Nina are now getting along! I can’t claim they’re besties braiding each other’s fur, but I’ll take this relative peace and calm any day. Nina still has bursts of naughty dog behavior and tries to instigate trouble, but it’s easier to head off and doesn’t generate the same overreaction from Charlie as it did previously. I even caught them playing tug-of-war with one of their Brookline toys. They vie for my attention, and I can spread it around more easily now that they can be in the same room together. Charlie has freer range in the house as a result, so I can enjoy two voyeur dogs watching me in the bathroom now.
We are going to have a behaviorist evaluate Charlie’s antipathy toward men. This seems to have developed just since he’s come to live here, and may be over protectiveness. We want whatever it is to be addressed, so he can enjoy a wider circle of friends and experiences than he’s getting now. He definitely deserves to be appreciated by multitudes!
July 24, 2020
Charlie #13 was rescued from the Cape May Animal Shelter (in NJ) on July 10 on the rainiest day of the summer and traveled through the deluge to our foster home in West Chester, PA. This friendly and handsome 78 lb, intact 9-year-old chocolate male had two previous owners (for 8 years and 1 year, respectively). He does have a serious heart condition and is on medication to control the symptoms, but you’d never know it from his attitude, which is quite playful and exuberant for his age.
While his exertion needs to be of the low energy variety, Charlie very much enjoys quiet walks and loves riding in the car with his head out the window feeling the breezes. He craves human companionship, and expresses his objection when he has to stay behind his gate while I and Resident Diva Dog Nina are upstairs, or I leave to run errands or take Nina to the park. She’s young and can instigate him into too much excitement, so their interactions are limited to quiet time outside with Charlie on a tie-out, or in the family room watching TV on the sofa. At least it’s supposed to be quiet time. Charlie has commandeered some of her toys and likes to subtly taunt her with them. When he puts one down, Nina immediately retrieves it. Then he’ll pick up another and around it goes until they fall asleep. He overnights on the sofa (preferring to ignore the two comfy dog beds and crate also in the family room).
Charlie will be visiting a cardiologist next week for a work-up to see if his ongoing treatment plan and lifestyle need any further adjustments. He’s pretty sure that serious revision (upward) needs to be made to the amount of petting and belly rubs and bully sticks he gets, and far more freedom to do whatever he wants, including running up and downstairs and chasing Nina!
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