And the answer is.... TWO! Rancho FH is once again the Official Dog Hair Capital of Central Florida! Bailey and Colby are here.
So... I shall see what Saturday brings during our meet & greet. As much as I hope we make a good initial connection I will not try to force one. And I've left the decision about their dogs acceptance of me up to the present owners. But even if it doesn't work out, I've obviously made the decision to have another GSD... or two.
(Bailey in foreground, Colby behind)
I arrived in Melbourne, 100 miles from here, shortly after lunch time. The dogs were outside on the pool patio looking in through the glass. Their owner opened the doors and I was immediately mobbed with wagging tails and sloppy kisses, greeted like a long lost litter mate. I was initially surprised at Bailey's appearance. Her color does not look like her rescue photo at all. She's a true black & tan, almost a carbon copy of her brother, albeit a tad shorter. Colby looks exactly like his photo and both weigh about 75-80 pounds. The only vices I saw were jumping up on people (me) and putting their paws on the table when their bag of collars and dishes came out. (Both are easily corrected.) The dogs eagerly scrambled into the back seat of my truck and we were on our way home within 20 minutes of my arrival. They rode quietly for the two hour trip home but I could see confusion in their eyes. That look changed back to excitement as soon as I pulled in my driveway.
Once inside the house both dogs cautiously crept from room to room exploring with their noses. The next order of business was getting their correction collars and trailing lines on and then teach them how to operate the doggie door to the back yard. Their former home was in a tightly grouped subdivision with a postage stamp sized yard. Their look of amazement over the comparative wide open spaces here was comical... followed almost immediately with another "holy crap!" moment. HORSES! Colby let out a loud "WOOF!" Bailey was frozen at his side in wide-eyed silence. I led both to the fence so they could bump noses with Jewel. Al stood a little farther back but was not the least bit intimidated. (More about Al later.) I cut the dogs loose again and they explored the fence line and other interesting yard smells while I went back inside, dug out my huge box of old dog toys and returned to the yard with tennis balls in hand.
Discovery #1: Colby is ball-happy. He'll snatch a thrown ball in flight and "throw" it back to you. Bailey couldn't care less about toys.
After a rowdy game of catch with Colby and Bailey jealously chasing him I coaxed them back inside through the doggie door and introduced them to the pile of rope, chewy and squeaky toys now in the middle of the living room floor. Squeaky toy noise initially froze them in their tracks. But minutes later the house was alive with a cacophony of assorted squeaky noises going off in all directions. Again, Colby seems to be a natural at toys. Bailey, not so much. I sat on the back screened porch with a glass of iced tea and both dogs came out and laid at my feet, soaking in the unrestricted view at dog level, still warily eye-balling the horses (with an accompanying low non-aggressive growl from Colby). It was about then I got a phone call from my neighbor telling me I needed to go check on Al.
I went out to the fence and looked toward the round bale. Al was proudly parading along the fence with a 3 foot section of old broken 4" fence post firmly clenched in his mouth like a dog who just fetched a stick! I knew he'd been moving it around the yard for weeks but never actually saw him doing it until now. He dropped it, pushed it a little with his nose, tried to pick it up again from the end, then re-adjusted his grip to the dead center, put it full in his mouth and pranced off tossing his head in self-amusement. I ran into the house and grabbed the new HD vid cam to capture the scene and got just a few seconds recorded before Al tossed the fence post away again. But upon review of the video the image is so small you can't see what he's doing. What IS abundantly clear is... I have no "normal" animals.
At bedtime horses and dogs all got oatmeal cookies. I decided to let the dogs find their own spot for sleeping. Surprisingly, Bailey, who so far seems to be somewhat less interested in me than Colby, camped out on the floor at the foot of my bed for the night. Colby slept in front of the sliding glass door to the porch. No whining or pacing through the night at all. Both have seemed to really settle in here very quickly. This morning after breakfast they both let themselves out through the doggie door while I came to the computer. They've been in and out checking on me (mostly Colby) and looking for some re-assurance. The BIG test comes later today when I leave them here un-attended for the first time while I go to the store. But having them for less than 24 hours at this point they already act and feel like MY dogs. (Insert BIG smiley face HERE.) ~FH
Colby says "Let's play!"