11.26.2006

tala

Introducing... Tala!!

On our way home, we met the newest addition to our family, our fifth dog overall, the beautiful and brilliant Tala. Since we're about to move, we didn't take her home. That will have to wait until we're a little settled in our new place, and return from a very special anniversary celebration trip we're taking in January. It works out well, because Tala is currently living with a trainer who is giving us a headstart on her socialization.

Here's the backstory.

Allan and I had already fallen in love with several dogs on Petfinder.com. It's incredibly easy to do. There are always a zillion animals who need homes, and whatever your favourite species and look, someone is waiting for you. I've been unpleasantly surprised that most people in Mississauga (and, I think, Toronto) have dogs that were obviously purchased from breeders. In New York City, rescues are much more common. At the risk of offending many readers, I am strongly opposed to breeding dogs for sale, no matter how responsibly it's supposedly done. (Let's not argue about it, ok? It's too upsetting for me.)

Back on Petfinder, we picked out a female Shepherd-Husky mix in our area - that's what our first dog was, and we're very partial to the look and the personality mix. The policy of the local rescue group is not to hold dogs under any circumstances. Every time a dog is placed for adoption, that foster home is available for a dog currently stuck in a shelter - the faster the turnover, the better.

I understand this completely. The shelter is death row. Even in a no-kill shelter, the longer a dog languishes there, the less socialized it will be and the harder it will be to find her a permanent home. So I absolutely understood that they couldn't hold the dog for us, I think it's a great policy, but I wanted her! A week later she was gone from Petfinder: taken. Good. Great. I know. But I wanted her!

I told myself to stop looking at dogs until we could bring one home. Then I would email Allan five more links to five more possibilities. OK, last one, this time I mean it, but look at this one, ohmygoodness look at this one, stop stop stop, just one more, last one, starting now.

Then I started looking at cute dogs that we like, but not necessarily in our area. Just looking. Searching on both German Shepherd and Husky, I found Tala. I had no idea where she was located. She could have been anywhere.

I sent her link (take that page down! she's taken!) to Allan. Subject line: "where is churchville new york?". His reply: "I don't know, but that's where we're going!"

Allan discovered Churchville is just outside of Rochester, in western New York State. Just on the other side of Lake Ontario.

Next question, will they hold a dog for the right family?

Rescue Person's answer: no problem. However, come meet her first, with your other dog.

Our answer: we're driving right by you next week.

We weren't able to arrange it for the day we drove down, so our whole Thanksgiving visit was suffused with expectation of meeting Tala on the way home. We announced we are adopting a new dog, and most people (everyone?) in our family knows what that means in our lives. We put her Petfinder page on everyone's laptop and gazed lovingly as if she were already ours.

Then yesterday, on our way home, we made a short detour off the Thruway into beautiful farm country to meet her.

The rescue groups I'm familiar with are networks of volunteers who provide loving foster homes for rescues. A team of coordinators screen prospective families, test shelter dogs for temperament issues, pull dogs out of shelters, and so forth. Whether they are general dog rescue with no regard to breed, or breed-specific rescue, this is the only way I've seen it done.

But RP in Churchville is the foster home - for the entire area. RP is part of a Siberian Husky breed rescue network (and they're the good kind of breed rescue - they take mixes, too). She works with a counterpart in New York City, one in Ohio, one in Tennessee, and so forth.

The license plates on RP's and Mr RP's SUVs: HSKYSVRS and HSKYRESQRS. They have five acres of land, with more than one acre secured with stockade fencing. In the basement, in beautiful custom-made kennel crates, were 35 Huskies and Husky mixes - each one sweet, beautiful, and desirous of our attention, each one rescued from abuse and certain death, each one given medical care, food, love, family, training, and re-socialized for a future family.

It didn't seem appropriate to take pictures, so I can only try to picture it for you: the howls and barks, the white-flag tails waving, the ears flattened with joy as we gave each one attention, the snouts poking through the crate bars to kiss us. Thirty-five names, thirty-five stories (some already had homes, and were just boarding for the holiday), and another thirty-five waiting to take their place when there's room. And this not counting the six "personal" dogs who live upstairs.

Let me tell you, it was intense. And we recognized Tala immediately. She is a sweetheart!

We didn't bring Cody in the basement - she would have had a heart attack. But finally, after tours and stories and dramatic delay, RP finally let us bring Tala outside to play with Cody in the backyard.

At first RP wasn't too keen on matching us with Tala. She felt Cody is too old for the company of a young, energetic dog; she felt there would be dominance issues; she tried to steer us towards some slightly older males.

Allan and I both felt RP was making too much of it, and misreading Cody, or possibly it was just her shtick. Cody and Tala got along exactly as we predicted, following Cody's completely predictable pattern: she was intimidated and put off at first, then relaxed and warmed up. When she felt threatened, she asserted herself with a few hoarse barks, then trotted away. Tala also behaved as we expected a friendly young dog to do. She was playful, curious, and insistent, not at all aggressive, and when Cody told her to scram, she backed off. It was beautiful.

We walked them together on leashes, and it was uneventful. We hugged and kissed Tala, and Cody wandered off by herself - also completely predictable. She was never jealous.

RP emphasized the importance of setting up Cody as the dominant dog. She said (over and over) that Tala will challenge Cody's position and then Cody will have to assert herself and it could be ugly. But we are very experienced dog people - and most importantly, very experienced with Cody, including her life with two other dogs. We know what will happen. Tala will take over. She will become Cody's alpha. It doesn't matter who gets there first, it doesn't matter who's older. Cody is the Bottom Dog. Tala is bright and energetic and will be happy to be the alpha, and Cody will be happy to let her.

What matters in this scenario is that Tala will be submissive to us, that she will recognize us as the super-alphas. She shows all signs of being a quick study and eager to please, and we know how to help a new dog adapt to a new home. Long ago, our first dog nearly ruined my life by assuming the alpha position over me. After we learned how to correct that - and although she continued to test me her entire life - it would never be a problem again.

We made a donation towards Tala's care for the next two months, and we somehow said goodbye and dragged ourselves away. Having a young bundle of energy again will be a huge change for us! So will having boundless affection and love, again. I can't wait.

meeting tala 08
Tala! She's wearing a gift from her future parents.

More Tala photos here. Expect to be subjected to many more.

25 comments:

dogsled_stacie said...

Oh how cool!! She is like Rupert's twin!! :)

That said, she is adorable (I'm not biased or anything...) and looks so full of energy! She will most definitely be a lively addition to the family. I'm sure her and Cody will be best friends very soon.

Good luck, and of course I look forward to all the dog posts! :)

L-girl said...

Thanks Stacie!! Now you know why Rupert is our favourite of all your dogs. I knew you'd see the connection right away. :)

Yes, we do expect some lively times ahead. I hope we can keep up...

redsock said...

Tala will soon be the smartest one in the house -- just like Gypsy was.

I have a feeling that beginning in February, wmtc will become a photo blog.

redsock said...

Picture #6 is great, with Tala looking off camera.

...

And after an hour or so of being in the yard, Cody did start to play a little bit, barking and chasing Tala for a few steps.

It is obvious that Cody will be worshipping her within a week.

L-girl said...

Are you sure you mean #6? What's the actual name/number of the photo?

****

I'm realizing that it's been a very long time since we had a lively happy puppy.

Buster was a pup when we found him, but he was either too sick, too drugged or too insane to enjoy it.

Cody was just crazy. She had a tough adjustment, and then grew up.

So we're talking late 1980s. I'm really looking forward to the change.

It is obvious that Cody will be worshipping her within a week.

I believe so. :)

And it will be up to us to give Tala enough exercise so she doesn't wear Cody out.

redsock said...

This one!

redsock said...

And you can see Cody wandering around waaaay in the background at the top of the frame!

L-girl said...

Ha! Good catch. That's picture #5.

James said...

Tala will take over. She will become Cody's alpha. It doesn't matter who gets there first, it doesn't matter who's older. Cody is the Bottom Dog.

I've known some guys like that. ;)

dcbean said...

Congratulations! I'm curious, what will you need to do to bring Tala to Canada, as far as paperwork, etc.?

L-girl said...

I've known some guys like that. ;)

Heh. Yup. :-)

Congratulations! I'm curious, what will you need to do to bring Tala to Canada, as far as paperwork, etc.?

Thank you! We don't need anything. We could be asked for proof of rabies vaccination, but chances are we'll just drive over the border without being asked. With Ontario plates and our Canadian ID, I doubt anyone will ask about the two dogs in the back seat.

Even the day we landed (also with two dogs), we weren't asked for the rabies certificate. We had it with us, prepared to show it, but they didn't ask.

impudent strumpet said...

She's gorgeous!

Masnick96 said...

YEAH!!!! Oh I'm so happy for the four of you :-)

L-girl said...

Thank you, thank you! Allan and I are totally smitten.

West End Bound said...

Tala looks like a wonderful addition to the wmtc family . . . Hope you get her soon!

dogsled_stacie said...

I noticed even before you posted a comment on my blog! ha!

When I was down in Calgary with one dog (wow, those were the days!), I was at the dogpark walking Kuna and I met up with this woman who was obsessed with white shepard/husky crosses. She had 2 at the time - beautiful dogs! - and it sounded like she had nothing but that type of dog for a very long time. When she saw Kuna, who is kinda white and husky-ish (albeit huge) she had to comment on how much she liked him. She woulda loved Ruperto!

But I totally understand just having some kind of "connection" with a certain type of dog. My problem is, is that I have that "connection" with too many types of dogs! Hence the 14-dogs and constant mayhem around my place... :)

Photoblog - bring it on!! I'll never complain about the amount of dog photos.

Anonymous said...

Hurrraayyyy!

She is beautiful. And you guys are like me - big dog people. They tend to me much more mellow and lovable than small ones who are more like rats to me.

Two months???? That sounds like an eternity.

I take it that you can cross the border with dogs without having to cut through a lot of red tape

L-girl said...

I noticed even before you posted a comment on my blog! ha!

Your first comment was right after I commented on your blog - and said how much she looks like Rupert! How funny!

When I was down in Calgary with one dog (wow, those were the days!)

That must feel like a lifetime ago... :)

white shepard/husky crosses

I never knew that's what Gypsy was. I just called her a Shepherd mix. You could see she wasn't a pure Shepherd - she was even more beautiful! (and I love German Shepherds) - but I never thought much about it.

One day at a neighbourhood park we saw a dog that looked exactly like her. We had never seen a dog that resembled her like that. The owner told me his dog was a Shephed-Husky cross.

Once I knew that, I could see it in Gypsy perfectly - the tall, but slightly smaller, ears, the softer snout, the thicker, fluffier coat.

Gypsy wasn't pure white, she had more Shepherd colouring, but her front was light, so she usually looks white or light in pictures.

L-girl said...

And you guys are like me - big dog people. They tend to me much more mellow and lovable than small ones who are more like rats to me.

Oh, we couldn't agree more. I like a dog big enough to put your arms around and give a big hug.

My sister and her daughter now have a "rat dog". I would never have one myself, but I will say, she is much sweeter and cuter than I ever would have imagined. I guess when you love dogs, you love dogs...

Two months???? That sounds like an eternity.

I KNOW!!! :-D

But it's the best thing. It would be ridiculous to bring a new dog - especially a lively young one - into the chaos of a packing and moving. And we can't bring her home and then leave her with a dog-sitter. "Hi, we don't know this dog's habits, she's not in a routine yet, and the two dogs hardly know each other, here's the keys, bye!"

So we are reluctantly waiting... but very eager to bring her home!

I take it that you can cross the border with dogs without having to cut through a lot of red tape

See above. :)

Anonymous said...

I have noticed that the big/small dog divide is almost as firmly rooted as the cat/dog divide.

Small dog people are scared of big dogs, and they don't like to go near them while big dog people share the feelings that you and I do.

I am looking at dogsled_stacie's avatar. Geez, it may just be the camera angle, but that dog's head looks almost as big as her whole upper body.

Anonymous said...

Now having said that, I am not so sure about big giant dogs like Great Danes.

I am with you. Should be big enough to hug, but not big enough to ride.

Besides, their life spans are pretty short, I think.

L-girl said...

I know a lot of people who like both dogs and cats. But big dog or small dog is a definitely a huge preference.

My sister must be a great exception to this. She loves big dogs - we grew up with a Shepherd - but now has a tiny thing that her daughter brought home.

She (same sister) had a big dog for 17 years, her kids grew up with that dog - but now she is really a cat person. She has two cats, and wouldn't have a dog at all anymore if her daughter hadn't surprised her.

L-girl said...

Should be big enough to hug, but not big enough to ride.

I agree! I think Allan agrees, too.

Besides, their life spans are pretty short, I think.

They are heartbreaks on legs. If they live to be 8, they are old. Terrible.

They are really nice, though. Very calm and gentle, as befits their size.

dogsled_stacie said...

I am looking at dogsled_stacie's avatar. Geez, it may just be the camera angle, but that dog's head looks almost as big as her whole upper body.

LOL David!! He is big, but not HUGE - 90lbs or so. His head does look freakishly gigantic in that photo for some reason.

And speaking of Great Danes - they would dwarf him. We came across 2 in that dog park and they totally wanted to play with him, but he was so intimidated he just ran away scared!! Haha! He's used to mostly being the biggest dog around, and they just freaked him out.

I have to say, I was never a huge fan of small dogs - until a couple weeks ago when a friend and I came across this little terrier-cross thing sitting on the side of the highway. Well, long story short, we picked her up and I had her for the night. She was soooo sweet and adorable, and I could just pick her up, take her up to the loft (away from the resident monsters who might think she was a tasty snack), and she hopped up on my bed - barely taking up any room! So cute. So manageable.

Ah, but I still wouldn't trade my big beasts in for anything. :)

Two months... yeah, that does seem like a long time - but totally worth the wait I'm sure. It would be a bit chaotic bringing her into the whole move situation.

L-girl said...

I have to say, I was never a huge fan of small dogs - until a couple weeks ago when a friend and I came across this little terrier-cross thing sitting on the side of the highway.

!!! How small? What does she weigh?

We found our own little terrier cross outside the Bronx Zoo. We were only going to get her back to health and then find a home for her. Yeah, right.

Clyde was a Jack Russell-Smooth-Coated Fox Terrier mix, as far as I could tell. She was 27 lbs, very small for me/us, but such personality and spark, and so adorable.

I would have never chosen a dog that small, but she found us, and we discovered the Joy Of Terrier.

My sister's dog, however, weighs 5 lbs. 2 oz. THAT is SMALL.

****

So Rupert is 90 lbs? I didn't realize he was so big. Cool! Gypsy was around that size. Tala is much smaller, maybe 45 lbs.