Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thunder - German Shepherd

Thunder was my one-and-only attempt at being a foster.

I also failed at this attempt.

I found about the dog on August 10th, 2008. He was found wandering the streets in Orlando. A gentlemen brought him to his garage, but his wife was extremely allergic to him, so he contacted the German Shepherd Rescue of Central Florida for help... but they didn't have any fosters available.

With some outreaching through other rescues, I was sent his information. At first I thought, this poor dog! I was told that he was 9 years old and male, and nothing else at the time. I figured, fostering isn't going to be that long - and what's one more dog for a short time?

I met up with a volunteer in Orlando to pick up the dog, and she gave me some more information.

The dog's name was Thunder. The gentleman who originally found him took him to the closest vet - who knew the dog.

Thunder, the night we brought him home.
 He is a fairly recognizable dog with those ears, and coupled with the rabies tag he was wearing, it was no problem to properly identify the dog. They did try to return the dog to the owner, but the owner on file claimed not to be the dog's owner, and wanted nothing to do with him. So, Thunder was officially disowned.

The vet called the rescue, and from then I stepped in.

The poor dog, when I first met him his coat was a mess, he had large hot spots that were tender and oozing, and he was so crippled with arthritis he had a hard time walking. His ears were majorly infected, and he had a large infected hole in his gum, along with several broken and missing teeth.

He was a sweet dog, though. I gave him a bath to help with the smell and he stood there calmly. He was fairly affectionate towards us, gave us high fives, and he seemed to be a fairly nice dog. His nails were so long that it was causing him trouble walking.

Later that night was when I noticed the big issue with his mouth.

Large, disgusting hole in his mouth.
Lucky for him, he was in a safe place now, and the rescue was going to fix him up.

My husband and I paid for him to be neutered to help out the rescue, and we took him to a small clinic here in town to have his mouth fixed - he had to have an oral flap procedure to repair that hole.

The hotspots, it turned out, were caused by food allergies. It took a lot of testing and a lot of paitence, but eventually once we got him on Canidae, all of his hotspots cleared up, his coat grew glossy and a smooth, and he gained a little weight.

The first ever snuggle.
It took months of dedication, gentle coaxing, and positive reinforcement to gain Thunder's trust. There was not an aggressive bone in this dog's body, but he was always on the defense.

The first time we tried to clip his nails, for example. My husband was helping to hold him, and I was cutting his nails. Thunder apparently did not like his feet being handled, and he turned around and bit my husband on the arm. We were very grateful the dog did not have good teeth in his mouth, too.

There were several other bumps along the road, too. He startled easy. I once reached for a fly swatter in the kitchen and he responded by lunging at me from under the table.

Time went by, we kept working with him on his issues, and trying to get him adopted. We took him out to meet people, he was listed on Petfinder and on the rescue's website, and we took him to Inverness to the Cooter Festival to an adopathon... but no look. Everyone just looked past the poor old man to the younger, more beautiful dogs.

Still, as time went on, he became more and more trusting of us - my husband in particular.

By Christmas time, we were toying with the idea of keeping him. The bond we've been building was growing stronger by the day... and it felt like he was a part of our family.

 
A happy collective family.
 Christmas day that year, my husband and I decided to go watch Marley and Me. That was the day we decided to make it official - we called Raye at the rescue and told her that day. Thunder wasn't leaving us.

After his official adoption, I began training him. He passed his CGC, and later went on to be a Therapy dog. His arthritis is too much for him to have ever competed, so we let him be at basic manners.

To this day he's still fairly adorable, and we lovingly refer to him as the German Shedder. His bond with both my husband and I has grown stronger still, and I have no doubt about the dog's loyalty to us.

He is a wonderful dog, a great cuddle buddy, and we're so glad to have him with us.

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