Monday, May 18, 2009

Prison dogs and a gopher on death row

On Saturday, I was a volunteer dog handler for a dog that was just released from the prisoner dog training program. Only the most out of control (but not agressive) dogs get into the program. A prisoner is given a dog to train for a month or two...I don't remember which. There is a trainer that trains the inmates and he goes there once a week to go through trials with the dogs and check on their progress. All of the dogs passed this round.

I got in line to get a dog. I saw a pyranees puppy coming off the truck and I was next so I was excited because he was so cute. But the woman ganding out the dogs recognized me from the training class and told me I couldn't have that dog because it was too easy for me. I ended up with Farrow. I think she was a yellow lab/pit bull mix. She was quite lively. We each exercised the dogs for about 30 minutes before the trainer showed up. He went through a very long session of "Training 101". It was hot and so the dogs weren't happy having to walk around in the heat with no water.
Robyn, the trainer I worked under, warned me that he was old school. Still, even with the warning, I was unprepared for the physical way he dealt with the dogs. There was a little terrier that he actually flung around on the end of the leash to get its attention. He was telling people not to be afriad to knock a dog hard in the head with their knee because it would teach them not to walk too close. I wasn't comfortable with being that physical. Luckily, Farrow minded pretty well...except for the constant whining. All the dogs (except for two) had possible owners waiting to meet them. So the owner went through the same thing in front of the owners. These dogs are amazing. They can down on recall...which is not something most dogs can do. They can walk backward, know several tricks, heel off leash, and of course, all the other obedience cues. Winston was the star of the show, I think... I want that dog.
Sadly, Farrow was one of the ones that wasn't adopted. Her possible owners backed out a couple of days before she was released. She is in a foster home though so at least she doesn't have to live in a cage at the humane society.
I got home and got busy doing things. I ran down to the basement to grab something and I heard a scratching sound. I had visons of mice jumping out of drawers and cabinets on Hoch. I slowly made my way to the corner I heard it coming from. Turns out, it was from beind the blinds.
I pulled up the blinds and there was this ugly rat looking thing. Then it popped up and it showed me it's 4, yellow buck teeth and giant hands with long claws. I almost jumped. That thing was ugly. I called the dogs down and they came running. I pointed to the window and Bear saw it. The other dogs looked too. No one barked but they were on high alert. I lifted Bear up to take a closer look. I set him down, then lifted Jack, then Jasmine. Jasmine hates being picked up but she liked it this time. After I set her down, Bear siddled up next to me and looked up at me, then the window and back to me. So I lifted him again. When I let him down, Jack came over to me so I lifted him again. Even Jasmine came back for more. I lifted each dog 4 times then I went outside to try to let the gopher out.
I put a hose down into the window well. I put a rope into the hole. I waited a little while but the best this little thing would do was chew on the things. I wasn't thinking when I went to the garage in the backyard and asked the guy there to help me get it out. He put gloves on and he grabbed it right out. He walked away with it. He told me later he threw it in the canal. :o( I felt bad. I was trying to save the things life, not end it. I should have waited longer for the gopher to climb out on it's own but I didn't. I hope gophers can swim. It wasn't ugly from the top side as it was from the underside as seen from the window.


Valerie said...

That must have been hard for you seeing the trainer act that way. Sorry your dog didn't get adopted. :(

That pic of the gopher from inside is pretty scary looking! It does look kind of cute when it's down and it's mouth is close though. I know I wouldn't have tried to grab it!

Stella Andes said...

You really have lots to do with animals this week! Gophers are pretty creepy, but you're nice to want to save its life.

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