We’re officially looking for the perfect home for Champ in the San Francisco/San Jose/Santa Cruz area! Champ is a two year old pitty, a pro at snuggling, hiking, walking, and bike riding. He’s dog and people friendly. He’s been through major trauma, but after five months of rehabilitative healing, he’s ready to step into a new life! Are you patient, loving, and ready for a dog who will give you his whole heart? Keep reading!
If you’ve reached this place, you probably want to know about Champ. Glad to have you here!
Champ has overcome his issues and major trauma, and is now looking for a fur-ever home. I’m looking not just for any forever home, but the perfect one. He’s already dealt with major trauma in his short life, and now he needs to just enjoy himself and get some love!
Champ is an amazing snuggler. I mean, AMAZING. He snuggles in ways people want, and is responsive to being moved. He even lets me lay on him and use him as a foot stool or a pillow!
He’s aware of his body and other peoples’ bodies, so he’s careful when he snuggles and leaves cups and things on the coffee table, instead of sweeping them off with his tail. He gives people personal space and is gentle with my unsteady friends, walking slowly and carefully around them. He’s good with the majority of strangers (sometimes a large backpack or coat will alarm him, but he’s learning those aren’t dangerous), allowing them to pet him, while keeping his loose leash! He’s always good with people I’ve invited into my house, both adults and children. (Actually, I think he has a soft spot for children!) He’s also very protective, though; people I haven’t invited into my house are greeted with some pretty intense barking.
At just two years old, Champ is fit and ready to go on any long hike you’d like! He has great stamina and is very heat tolerant. He’s also bike trained (he can run alongside a bike without pulling), and he loves quick rides! He also enjoys a good romp at the dog park — about twenty minutes is his perfect amount of time. That said, he’s mature enough to settle for a twenty minute walk a day if he must, and not seem to be overly bothered by it. He walks beautifully on a leash, and isn’t bothered by other dogs on leash or behind fences barking at him. (He does love to chase cats, but remembers his manners when told to sit!) I can walk him through crowds, fields, businesses, and dogs all without being pulled on.
Champ is crate trained and x-pen trained, but has no problems in the house and can be left alone for hours if needed. He loves yards, and wouldn’t mind being left to sun himself while his humans are gone, either. (This does NOT mean he should be an outdoor dog! He needs love and his humans, and to be inside and warm at night.) Champ won’t steal food from you, even if you’re eating on the floor, right in range of him! You can leave food on the coffee table and walk away, and he won’t steal that, either. He’s even left food-dirty napkins on the coffee table overnight, untouched. All this, despite being highly food motivated!
He is super eager to please and emotionally sensitive. His “reprimands” often consist of a firm voice, then me taking his collar and showing him what I wanted. Occasionally, I employ a squirt bottle, and if he’s done something VERY naughty (like join my dog, Doc, when Doc barks at the fence) he gets a quick poke in the ribs. Afterward, because he’s so eager to please, I always reward him for leaving the fence alone, or stopping his barking, etc. He doesn’t bark at much these days, and when he does, it’s usually something new and I either praise him (if it’s a car pulling onto my property) or give a quick hiss (if it’s something new but not worrisome — like a stray dog), and that ends it. This means he barks appropriately, at things I should actually take notice of! Without Doc there to antagonize him, he doesn’t fence bark or worry about dogs, children, or adults in yards adjacent to mine.
Champ is extremely intelligent, and that combined with his food motivation and eagerness to please makes him a joy to train. He is one of the few dogs that I would say will bond with his owner so strongly that he would harm himself to do what was needed. I’ve started the basics of service dog training, because he could be an excellent service dog depending on what was needed. (I would use him as a mobility dog, possibly a psychiatric service dog depending on the psychiatric issue, and probably many other things that do not include anxiety in a human. Their anxiety will translate to his anxiety.)
Finally, Champ is over-aware of flickering lights. I haven’t tried using a laser pointer with him, but I have a hunch it would be hours of fun for him and his humans!
“If he’s this wonderful,” I hear you cry, “Why aren’t you keeping him?”
Doc (my recent rescue and current service dog) and Champ are an awful combination; Doc decides to do naughty things, and convinces Champ to add his muscle. (When I remove Doc, Champ doesn’t get in trouble.) Doc also picks on Champ, and when Doc gets in trouble (which is more often than I’d like!) Champ gets distressed on Doc’s behalf! But mostly, Champ would like to live with a human who has more time to devote to just him. When I boarded him before I had Doc, he was perfectly happy. Cash and Lily, as older dogs, were happy to cuddle with him, play occasionally, and let him get the TLC from me that he needed. But Doc also has trauma and needs TLC, and there’s not enough time in my day for both of them. Champ needs a house where he is the focus, and he’s not splitting it with another young dog.
Champ is amazing, and I want the perfect home for him. His former owners gave him up only because they realized that long work days and living in an apartment weren’t fair for a young dog, and they wanted the best for him. (More on that in his history.) Second, of course he has some quirks! Who doesn’t? His quirks, and the things I want people to keep working on, are:
1. A high prey drive towards cats and squirrels (he’s been fine with my parrot, Tango, when Tango flies around, as well as my friend’s chickens and another friend’s rats). No homes with cats.
2. He’s wary of vets and people in uniform, due to past trauma (more fully explained in his history).
3. He’ll need someone who keeps working on socializing and loose leash walking, which is true of any dog. (This isn’t really a quirk, but I do want someone who will keep working on these things.)
4. He has some kind of allergy. Daily 24-hour antihistamines (which I buy at Costco for humans) and daily fish oil tablets (also for humans, at Costco!) have helped dramatically, as have regular baths with anti-allergy shampoo. We’ll be headed back to the vet soon to see if it can be better diagnosed and treated. *Edit: I think it might be a wheat allergy. After almost a month with wheat only when I forget and give him a wheat-treat, his little hives have almost vanished.*
But the main thing, which will take someone with patience, is a sensory disorder. A lot of chaos, an owner’s anxiety, or a new, alarming stimulus triggers manic behavior. Sometimes this behavior is tail spinning (the first sign that he’s feeling stress). In the past it was barking/lunging at the “threat”, or furious nibbling at the weird sensation. Of note, he has the best bite inhibition I’ve ever seen. When the weird sensation was coming from the hose nozzle during a bath, and I couldn’t get him to stop panicking and biting the nozzle, I put my hand in his mouth. He immediately stopped biting down, though he nibbled furiously!
To address this, he is currently on 40 mg of prozac daily. If I know there’s going to be a lot of chaos at my house, or I forget but notice that he’s tail spinning, I either give him some xanax and/or put him in his crate to calm down and be safe. There may be other medications that work better; I have not tried changing them. Prozac costs me about $10/month at Costco (my vet calls it in for me).
Given this issue, I would not recommend a household where there are small children, or older children with a lot of loud friends over.
Want to know more about Champ? Awesome!
At two years old, Champ has already lived a hero’s journey.
He was born with a cognitive issue (which I believe is a sensory disorder; surrounding sounds and chaos seem louder, sensations stranger, and emotion bigger to him), and as a puppy, his disorder would have shown itself in frustration; too-rough play, jumping, odd behavioral (and mental) tics (like obsessive tail spinning), and so on. When he reached nearly adult sized (8 months old) his owners re-homed him.
His next owner was a young man who loved him dearly. This young man worked on his manners, but in just a few months tragedy struck. Champ’s person was fatally injured. The police, paramedics, and fire department arrived, but could not save the young man. Champ saw his person die. From Champ’s perspective, people in uniform arrived, and his person died. He began now to see anyone in uniform as a severe threat to his family. Compounded by a sensory disorder, which would have made the whole process more physically painful, this was even more traumatizing than it otherwise would have been.
The young man had been living at home, and his father kept Champ in their apartment. The whole extended family pitched in to help, because Champ was a young dog in an apartment and the father worked long hours. Everyone, including Champ, was grieving the loss of this young man. Champ’s congenital issues, now compounded by a severe distrust for strangers and his own and his family’s grief, blossomed into frustration showing as more tail spinning, destruction and aggression, and dangerous over-protectiveness. Trying to support and protect his grieving family who were clearly at risk from uniforms coming in and killing them, while dealing with his own grief and undiagnosed sensory issues, was too much for him.
This is when I met him. I kept him for a week, trying to re-balance him, and recognized there was a congenital issue happening. (“Congenital issue” means he was born with it, but we don’t know what’s causing it.) We put together a schedule for Champ to help him manage his congenital issues, and the family kept to it. However, within a few more months it became obvious that apartment living wasn’t fair to a young, active dog, and Champ’s current owner asked if I would take him, foster him, and find his fur-ever home. (Compounding apartment/long-work-hours was the fact that Champ’s associations with the apartment were mostly frightening and painful, despite the love he was given.)
When I took him in, the first thing we did was bloodwork to see if his congenital issues were related to organ malfunction. (They weren’t.) Because of his distrust of people in general, taking blood was extremely difficult. It took us twenty minutes, a muzzle, and major restraining. At the time, I didn’t know he had a sensory disorder, I just knew something was wrong. Looking back, I’m sure his sensory issue made everything so much worse. Now “vet scrubs” were added to his list of “dangerous uniforms.”
I’ve had Champ for several months now. He’s learned that while some things (like baths) feel funny, they won’t hurt and if he tolerates it, it’s over soon and he’s praised. He’s learned that loud vacuums will not hurt him, and if I introduce something new and get an odd reaction from him, I’ve learned I can either put him in his “safe crate” to calm him down and let him think about it, or I can reward him with quiet praise and treats, and he adapts. He just takes a little more time than other dogs.
The Martinez Police Department has helped me with his uniform issues, which are better but far from perfect. His vet and local vets have helped with his vet problems, but those will also take more work.
He’s learned that people invited into my house are welcome, and now — after he sees me invite them in — he greets them with a wagging tail. He occasionally jumps in excitement, but is pretty good at remembering to stay down. He no longer barks except when appropriate, and he’s become a settled, wonderful dog, but will need an owner who takes the time to introduce new things with patience, and keeps him socialized. This dog has been through everything, and it’s aged him; he acts like he’s four instead of two, and he needs the love and assurance that comes from being someone’s special dog. He’ll respond twelvefold to it. He is the type of dog people write books about; major trauma, overcoming it, and bonding to someone so tightly that it’s almost unbelievable. He just needs that person to bond to for the perfect ending!
I’m going to miss Champ a great deal. He’s my best snuggling partner at night. He’ll lay at my feet and let me use him as a footrest, lay on my pillow and let me lay on him, lay beside me if I’m sitting, or spoon with me on the couch. He’ll even lay on top of me, like a blanket, if I ask! He is so loving and calm, while always being willing to go for a walk, run, bike ride, hike, or dog park. He runs my errands with me, and is good waiting in the car (on a cool day) or going in with me (if it’s dog-friendly). I’d like someone who will keep him in the bay area, preferably the south bay area. I’m offering three free training sessions, and his previous owner has offered, many times, to baby sit for free just to see him occasionally. (We would like to keep him local to the San Jose/Santa Cruz/South Bay area, if possible.) Champ is a well loved dog in a bad situation, and we need to improve his situation!
Are you ready for a doggie partner? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 951-704-5766 and tell me a little about yourself!