Joey Yellow Labrador Retriever Male 11 Months Old

Saturday, November 2, 2019

10 month old yellow lab JoeyI took Joey to the vet today and for the most part, he was wonderful!

He was very excited to get in the car; he literally pulled me down the driveway and leapt into the back seat as if to say, “Let’s go! I’m ready for this adventure!”

On the 15 minute ride there, he did some low throat, soft growling as we passed people on the street, but nothing too overt. When we arrived at the vet, there were two PSEG trucks and 4 men working in the parking lot with a couple more guys up in a bucket truck. Seeing them Joey became very agitated, barking quite loudly, so all the men stopped to check out the dog causing the ruckus.

When I got out of my car to come around to get Joey out, I told them he was a relatively new foster dog and that he was fear aggressive. One man offered to help me, because he could see Joey’s strength, but I assured him it would be best to keep his distance. The men all seemed to be quite understanding of Joey’s anxiety, and kept their distance as they watched. I had called ahead to let the vet’s staff know I’d arrived, and vet tech Krista came out to help me lead Joey in the back door. As we walked past, the guys softly chanted: “Joey, Joey, Joey!” It was so cute! They really seemed to feel for this young pup with high anxiety.

Once inside the examining room, Joey made me so proud – no aggressive behavior towards any of the vet techs or vet – thankfully they were all women – which he seems to be more comfortable around. He did a lot of tail wagging, muzzle nudging and leaning in for attention – stealing everyone’s heart. The boy knows how to work the room, for sure!!!

Joey was much better behaved at the vet than I had even hoped! While one vet tech distracted him with a smear of peanut butter on the floor, I held him and another vet tech drew his blood for the 4Dx test. The only thing that Joey would have none of was getting his temperature taken…so we agreed to let it go this time since he is evidently the picture of health otherwise! Perfect teeth, pink, pristine ears inside, no lumps or bumps, and a great weight for his size at 67 lbs (yes, he’s probably put on 5 lbs since he’s been with me, though he needed a bit more weight on his tall, lanky frame) and the vet agreed that his excessive shedding is most likely due to kennel stress, and will get better over time.

I did get a prescription for Trazodone filled while I was there, since the vet agreed it would help with his stress level and anxiety around new people and situations. And since I plan to begin leash training Joey using a Gentle Leader in this coming week, it will definitely make it less stressful for us both for taking him onto the neighborhood streets. He is such a strong puller, that the Gentle Leader head harness will hopefully make it possible for me to walk him. Right now, on a back-clip harness, there is no way I can control him, especially if we cross paths with another person or dog! However, I am confident after my success with former fosters, that the Gentle Leader is the answer.

All in all, it was a very good vet visit!

Friday, November 1, 2019

10 month old yellow lab JoeyToday, Joey has been with me in foster care for two weeks and 6 days – nearly a full three weeks. Seems like yesterday that he arrived – and that is a good thing – because that means I have enjoyed him MORE and struggled to have him here LESS!

As a long-time foster who has taken in many dogs with various and sometimes really big challenges, the first few days-to-weeks can sometimes seem interminable. I am happy to say that although there have been some valleys to cross along Joey and my journey together; they were small compared to the heights or highs of our successes.

To paraphrase Sally Fields from her well-known Oscar acceptance speech:

“He (Joey) likes me! He really, really likes me!”

And I couldn’t like (love!) Joey more! In fact, I really wonder what happened in his two previous failed adoptions…were his adopters simply not prepared for and committed enough to handling a young, high-energy, prone-to-mischief puppy!?!  Joey needs supervision, but it’s not all that hard to keep him from doing something bad from boredom – give him something to do – and keep an eye on him – and he will not disappoint you! I know it takes time, and effort, and patience, and awareness – but I can assure any potential adopter who is willing to invest that in Joey, or a dog like Joey – that your investment will double, triple, quadruple and continue to reward you with love, loyalty, obedience, and adoration for years to come. If you don’t believe me, watch the movie Marley and Me!!!!

As the saying goes “Patience is a virtue.” In this case, I think Joey is the one who has exhibited unlimited patience with the humans who chose him. He had no choice. He had no voice in what happened to him. He has simply done his very best to survive, to be a good boy even when people failed him, when circumstances delivered him less than an ideal life.

Still on my “to-do” list with Joey:

  • Train him on either a Gentle Leader head harness, or a Freedom Harness, so that he can be walked safely and enjoyably.
  • Continue to socialize Joey to more people, and more dogs.
  • Continue to work on basic manners training. To date, he has learned – and is 90% consistent with me on SIT, DOWN, OFF, LEAVE IT, and my whistle recall when he is out in the yard and I need him to come back inside. That does NOT MEAN he will be so responsive to strangers, until and unless they gain his trust and build a relationship with him, too. (Do YOU obey strangers willy-nilly???)
  • Joey is crate-trained and good in the crate. He cannot have bedding in the crate with him yet. He is still a puppy, and when bored, will chew and EAT IT!!!)
  • When I have to leave the house during the day, I always crate him for his safety, and my sanity. He will, however, bark for 1, 2, even 5 minutes…then he settles. I truly believe this will dissipate, and disappear totally, over time.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Joey is da’ man! Or, should I say, da’ boy!

And boy-oh-boy is he surprising me every single day with his progress.

When I first brought him into foster care here, I was uncertain of what his “issues” and therefore his “prognosis” would be. In the first couple of days, I experienced his fear aggression firsthand. I quickly learned that as confident, exuberant, and friendly as he may at first seem, that “still waters run deep” inside him. Whatever happened, or didn’t happen, in this youngster’s past, has left him with an internal “fear switch” which can be accessed quickly by an unsuspecting person, or dog. He is NOT – I repeat NOT – a dominant aggressive dog! He is very quick to listen and obey, and he does not challenge correction as long as it is delivered in a calm, kind, and assertive fashion.

HOWEVER – and this is the GREAT PART – two weeks into foster care with me and Joey is doing fantastically, with NO RE-OCCURRENCES whatsoever since those first two episodes of his fear aggression. Joey has transformed in this past 2 weeks, much faster than even Sunny has, and Sunny, my other BLRR foster who is a breeder mom from Lancaster – has been part of that process!!! She is tolerant of his pushiness, but not too-tolerant. And somehow, he accepts her corrections far, far better than any of my 3 resident dog’s corrections! I have seen a relationship quickly grow between them – Joey even looked for her when she was gone being spayed!

Initially I thought that Joey was going to be with me for several months at least – but he has come so far, so fast, that I am much more optimistic that he could be placed sooner, as long as it is with a dog savvy person, couple, or family with older teens who are also dog savvy. I would NOT place Joey with families with any children under 16-ish years old. He will also do best in a home that has fairly reliable routines, not too many new people coming and going, ideally someone who is committed to giving Joey the direction, continuing training, calm discipline, and lots and lots of fun times and exercise. He LOVES to play – fetch, tug, or chase – just about anything to use up his boundless energy.  However, Joey will settle after exercise, and then he loves nothing more than cuddles and pets, or quietly chewing a bone, or playing with his puzzle toys.

He has steadily progressed with the all-important command “leave it,” to the point that this morning for the first time I fed him in the kitchen along with the 4 other dogs! In addition to firmly telling him “Joey, leave it!” as he looked around to see how the other dogs were doing with their food, I also stood in front of him to reinforce my verbal “leave it.” But once he was done eating he didn’t try to wrangle his way around me, growl, or become aggressive towards me for blocking him! THAT IS HUGE!!!

Just now, when my dog Mitzi brought a chew bone into the kitchen and settled at my feet, Joey listened to me when I firmly told him, “Joey, leave it,” and then he came to me for pets and praise of acknowledgment!!! Woohoo!

Today has been an excellent day for Joey, and hence, enjoyable for me and the other dogs! I have not had to crate him one time in order to get a break from his demands and antics! He is listening to my corrections, as well as the other dog’s corrections, with little if any acting out (mouthing, growling, muzzle butting, etc.) That is HUGE!!!  But the weather was on our side making it possible for us all to be outdoors playing fetch, working on training, and just hanging out in the great outdoors, rather than being cooped up inside. Tomorrow, rain is forecast, so we shall see what happens to his happy demeanor then! I am, however, very optimistic!!!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

This is my first update on Joey.

I have one word to describe this (nearly) 10 month old dog: DESERVING!

From the moment Joey got into my car for the long ride to my home (his new foster home), AFTER a very long ride with Brian, another Brookline volunteer, from the shelter, this wonderful young pup was well-behaved, affectionate, alert, and then finally so tired that he caved to exhaustion and slept as we crept along the torturous traffic of a Saturday afternoon on the Schuylkill Expressway.

When we finally got home, Joey enjoyed exploring my backyard for all of 3 to 5 minutes. Hahaha – then he was all about the house! Wouldn’t YOU be more interested in your indoor accommodations after spending so much of your young life in, then out, then in, then out, and sadly back into a shelter?!?!

I don’t like to base my expectation of a foster dog’s future and long-term behavior on the first day…that’s never enough time for their true personality to appear. And yet, I’ve fostered enough dogs over the years to feel more than confident when I say:


He’s motivated by anything edible…and I do mean anything, therefore, easily trainable.

He makes great eye contact.

He craves affection, making it easy to form a bond via touch and positive reinforcement.

He has (some) impulse control.

He responds quickly to calm, assertive verbal correction.

He responds immediately to praise, spoken in a soft, even voice.

He is not overwhelmed by multiple and simultaneous stimuli.

He is relatively calm for such a young dog.

I am not sure (firsthand) how he is with other dogs yet. I’ll decide when to introduce him to my dogs and my other recent BLRR foster Sunny by Monday afternoon.

I believe that Joey has amazing potential to be a great addition to someone(s) life. I am thrilled to be fostering him. Many, many thanks to Brookline for rescuing this great and still oh-so-young pup! Also, thanks go to Jen and Brian for evaluating Joey. Finally, special shout out to Brian for picking Joey up from the shelter today and transporting him more than halfway (a total of several hours in the car for Brian) to meet me!!! ❤

10 month old yellow lab Joey 10 month old yellow lab Joey's rescue ride

10 month old yellow lab Joey

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