Sometimes life works in the most unexpected ways. And sometimes you are presented with a situation where an opportunity presents itself that simply cannot be ignored or put off. Such was our adoption of our new “kid”, Chet, last December. Wednesday, December 19, 2012 to be exact.
Chet came into our lives in a most serendipitous manner. Deb had been searching the internet for places to donate to for the holidays. During one of her searches, she was presented with a list of 10 places — one of which was www.dogorphans.com. Dog Orphans is a no-kill shelter located in Douglas, MA that specializes in rescuing and adopting out dogs. When she looked at the website to see if this was a suitable place to donate to, she decided to take a look at the “orphans” being housed at the shelter then. Well, she scrolled down the page of available dogs she came upon a complete surprise — a pure bread Wire Fox terrier named “Chet.”
Mr. Chet was described as 10 years old and in excellent health. However, there were some troubling idiosyncrasies listed for him as well. He had nipped someone in the past. He was food and dog aggressive. In fact, he had been rescued by Dog Orphans because a local veterinarian refused to euthanize him per his previous owner’s request. These issues were even more troubling because we already live with two Wire Fox Terriers (WFTs) — Lily and Honeybelle, and there was no way we wanted to upset their happy apple cart with the adoption of a newcomer who essentially may be the canine equivalent of Hannibal Lechter.
Now, I think upon seeing his, well, adorable visage she fell head-over-heels in love with him. You couldn’t help but have strong feeling for him…particularly since the both of us are crazy about WFTs and terriers in general. There is just something about terriers, and WFTs in particular, that inspires a zealous adoration of them by “terrier people.” Deb made the mistake of showing me Chet’s picture, and, well, I did the head-heels thingy too! But through this whole prospective love-fest, there was the nipping/aggressive behavior hanging over Chet’s head.
Well, between busy work schedules and Thanksgiving intervening, we couldn’t get to Douglas to see Chet for over three weeks. But I kept torturing Deb with my want to go and meet him and my dread that he was some kind of monster that we simply could not adopt without accepting great risk to our girls and ourselves.
But we decided to bite the proverbial bullet and go visit Mr. Chet to see what this legend looked like in person. So on Saturday Dec. 16th we trekked down to Douglas to Dog Orphans — which by the way is smack-dab in the middle of nowhere in the Douglas State Forest on Route 16. When we got there, we were directed to the kennels, which reside in the converted basement of a former ranch house. There, almost across from the entrance door was Mr. Chet’s kennel. He was actually smaller and cuter than we had expected. He was super-energized by the visitors in the kennel (although Deb and I were his only admirers at the time) as well as the barking and activity of the other dogs, so he really didn’t notice us much. In fact he would quite nervously run outside into an open exercise run area then back inside without regard to us or anyone else.
One of the attendants suggested that we take Mr. Chet into a small sitting room off the kennel area to get acquainted. So, we took him there on a leash and we sat with him for a while while he explored and sniffed and, embarrassingly, peed on Deb’s leg. Oh well, so much for his social graces. But we got to stroke him and give him a cursory check out. Naturally he didn’t know us from a hole in the wall, so he was sort of aloof and more interested in his surroundings than in us.
So, we asked if we could take him outside to walk him around and let him calm down and focus. And we did this. But we also had an ulterior motive! We preemptively took the girls with us with the intent to introduce them to Mr. Chet on “neutral” ground. So, we walked Chet around for 15 minutes for him to explore and pee…and just get used to our presence. Finally, there was one point where I decided to pick him up and talk to him face-to-face. Whereupon to my surprise he licked my entire face. Needless to say, he had me right then. Chet was coming home with us.
So, Deb went and got the girls one-by-one to meet Chet. As we hoped, there was no aggression and no problems. In turn, the three of them got to meet one-another. They sniffed and generally ignored each-other…giving each other a cursory once-over and then basically milling around us as we waited to see if there would be an illicit sneer or lip curl on any part. We were absolutely relieved and delighted when there were none!
So…it was time to go meet with the administrator that we wanted to take Chet home. But there was one small issue that stood in the way of taking Chet that day…Mr. Chet had a very prominent rectum that quite visibly protruded greater than what we had known (from the other dogs we had owned) by what looked like a half an inch. We wanted Chet to be checked out by Dog Orphan’s vet to make sure he didn’t have a more serious problem. Regardless, we were going to adopt him…we just wanted him checked out. So, he had to stay in Douglas for a couple more days until he could get his check up.
Well, his “butt inspection” came on Monday, and to our relief, he was cleared to come home with us. The best the vet could determine was that he has a case of “puffy butt” due to his having been neutered later in life…which causes such an occurrence in some dogs. This was later confirmed by our two other vets. This condition doesn’t bother Chet, so it doesn’t bother me. [And with a clever "butt coiffure," this issue is completely unnoticeable!] So, we made arrangements to go to Douglas once again to pick up Chet for his ride home. Home…what a great sounding thing!
So, on Dec. 19th, 2012, Chet came home with us. To his home. And there he has been since. During the first few weeks, there were a few outbursts — the new pack had to establish its pecking order. But thereafter, it has been a thoroughly peaceful house. Chet, it seems, is a gentleman and very demure with the ladies. In fact, it has been established that Honeybelle is “top dog” and Chet does not object. He is anything but food aggressive, and he gets along tremendously with both Honeybelle and Lily. However Lily, being blind, growls at him because she just can’t get used to him because she’s never seen him and thus mistrusts him. But he does try to gain her favor as he gingerly licks her eyes, even though she shows a full mouth of teeth to him. After a few minutes of tender , persistent licking, the fanged sneering turns to the occasional grunt. Chet still is working his charms on her with mixed results.
We set up a crate in the bedroom for him so he would have a safe place he could retire to. But he tends to “retire” for the night between 9 and 10PM…to the bed. When Deb and I finally turn in, he then retires to his crate for the night. And boy can that little dog snore!
Chet’s a great eater…when we first picked him up his ribs were showing and he was voracious when he ate — which may explain his reported food aggression. If I were that skinny, I would be pretty greedy of my food resources, I will tell you. Like Honeybelle and Lily have had done for them for years, Chetty has all his food home-made from fresh meat (bison, turkey and other novel proteins) and veggies…with the occasional store-bought mix-in: We think this gustatory treatment has blown his mind! Still, out of an abundance of caution, we’ve kept him separated from Honeybelle and Lily during feeding times. But that really isn’t necessary as there have been times when we’ve forgotten to close the gate…and nothing has happened. Nothing! (since we’ve adopted him he’s already gained two pounds and you can no longer feel his ribs.) He’s proven himself to be a gentle soul and a perfect house mate.
But there is one thing Chet is for sure…a sneaky escape artist! He has pulled this escape trick three times…the last time he came within inches of being hit by a car as he bolted into and down the street, helter-skelter. Thankfully we found him in the across the street neighbor’s yard, gamboling through the snow, after the first time he escaped. The second time he benefited from the ID tag we purchased for him just after his first escape. A fellow called us from the parking lot at the hospital down the street from us (about a half a mile away) informing us he had our escapee in his van and to come and get him. Upon retrieving him, the man told me that he was almost hit by a car in his frantic running about. After this escape, we put a plan into action — when either of us leave the house, Chet is locked behind the baby gate in the kitchen and then released after we’re safely out the door. If both of us leave, he’s crated so that we’re not greeted by an escape upon opening the door! When either of us comes home, we ring the doorbell and wait for the “all’s clear” signal from whomever is home at the time before opening the door. He had one accidental escape after we implemented our plan because he’s so damned persistent. After almost being hit, I jumped in the truck and tracked him down — I found him about 1/4 mile from home (only after about 30 seconds on the loose!) running full tilt down the street that leads to Clinton proper. I cornered him and when I called him to come to me, he immediately jumped in the truck and began to kiss me on the face. So much for being angry with him…oh well.
He’s all set up with his new doctors…both locally and at Angell Memorial in Boston. He’s had both physicals and eye checkups and passed all with flying colors. All the doctors comment that Mr. Chet walks with a “confident” gait. That’s for sure!! And he gleefully kisses his physicians for their troubles!
So Mr. Chet is now a comfortable member of the Marini household. It’s almost like he’s always been here. He spends his days defending the house from invaders (USPS and UPS) and choosing comfy spots to snooze when he’s not laying in the sunbeams on high alert. He also loves going for his daily walks around the neighborhood with dad. He prefers to speed walk, so I’m getting my fill of long-overdue exercise, for sure.
Deb and I hope that we have many years to come to spend with our little man Chet. He’s someone very special!