Thursday, October 29, 2015

I Didn't Know About Dogs: Part 3

You can read about how we became Turkey's new family in Part 1 and Part 2.

We've been dog owners for a total of two and a half months.  Turkey adjusted very well. We are so thankful for this because we've heard stories of dogs who had a very hard time being separated from their first owners.  Turkey spent his whole five and a half years with another family.  The fact that he's been able to so quickly build trust and form attachment to our family shows how much credit his first owners deserve.

I'm learning so much.

1) My mama instincts evidently transfer to dogs I really like.  I wasn't ready for this.  I almost feel like I'm fostering- trying to get to know the needs of my new dependent.  How are they sleeping?  Eating?  Is he acting differently today?  Is he adjusting well? Does he need more attention?  More exercise? What's the best food for him? Is he warm enough?

People. I'm scaring myself.  I am NOT a dog person.  I AM a Turkey-person now.  That is for sure. My best guess is that I may need another real foster placement SOON.

blending in

2) Our family hikes are even more fun than they used to be.  We love to hike and go for walks but we don't go nearly enough.  Having a dog gives us one more reason to get out there because he needs exercise, too.  The first time we took Turkey along, the girls (especially) could hardly stand it that we let him off leash.  But Jamey had learned on trail runs with him that he is an awesome dog to take in the woods.

 enjoying the outcropping and sunset at the top

Here's what happens.  He runs way ahead on the trail, occasionally venturing into the woods.  He's out of sight for a couple minutes and all of a sudden there is a streak of movement way on up ahead. He's racing back to touch base/check on us.  Then, he takes off down the trail again.  He checks in if the trail splits on the way out but remembers/smells the right trail on the way back.  He likely covers two to three times the miles we do on any given hike and never stays out of our sight for very long.

He generally likes his blanket by prefers lying on a person.

3) Vizslas are a curious breed.  They are incredibly affectionate.  They can become nervous when overstimulated or frightened and show it chattering their teeth or quivering.  They also chatter their teeth and quiver when they're cold (see below).  It's our understanding that Turkey's parents and he were bred as hunting dogs although Turkey wasn't trained as one.  Despite the lack of training, he points (nose pointing, left front leg raised and tail straight out while holding incredible still) when he discovers a hiding critter.  He will hold that position until we acknowledge that we see it.  If we tell him to "get it", he flushes it out and chases it but as of yet hasn't caught anything.  I think he very well could if he wanted to.

under the school table

4) I now buy toys and clothes for a dog.  Vizslas lose most of their heat from their chest/belly where they have the least hair.  They also lack an undercoat so they can easily get cold.  They have to be inside dogs because they can't handle the winter (or parts of fall and spring for that matter).  When Turkey is cold, he will chatter and shiver- a sign he needs help keeping warm- even inside.

Because he has such a large chest, it was tricky for me to find a coat that fit him and his wide chest well.  Duluth Trading Company makes one that fits well (shown above).

5) I am so thankful he's an adult dog.  In dog years, Turkey is about Jamey and my age.  He's graying around the face and likes to lay around come sun down.  From what I've read Vizsla puppies have an incredible amount of energy.  Videos (like this one) on youtube show how much energy these dogs have to exhaust.  Turkey's five and a half years are just about perfect for us- he enjoys his regular runs with Jamey but can also be content to have a lazy afternoon lying about the house. Thank goodness.

sacked out after a long run together

6) Dog adoption and foster care seem to be related.  Animals are part of God's amazing creation and are here for our enjoyment and awe just like the rest of His creation.  While I know that they experience a wide range of emotions and physical pain similar to people, these characteristics (to me) point to the fact that we share the same Creator, not that we are the same.  

Because of all the similarities, I can see why and how some people consider their pets as important (or more important) than the humans in their life.  I hate that some animals are mistreated and abandoned and I'm glad that there are rescue centers and the SPCA to match those unwanted to good homes.

But.  There are children in very similar situations that need homes, too.  Pets can be easier, I know. Part of me was relieved that adopting this dog would push off our next foster placement as we got used to him and him to us.  Taking on another placement is scary- I won't lie and say it isn't. But thankfully, it has made me realize that child foster care/adoption is even more important.  There is another child out there waiting for us.  I thought that Turkey might tempt me away from the hardness that foster care can be but instead he's reminded me how much love we're capable of and that the quality of our love can span birth children, adopted dog AND foster child.  Or so I think:-).

We await God's timing and in the meantime, I'm learning how much I didn't know about dogs.  It's a good thing I love to learn.
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  1. Our middle son and his wife got a Vizsla as a puppy and rescue dog. He had an incredible amount of energy . until he was about two. They had to run him hard for an hour morning and evening to be able to manage at all. These posts are so fun to see because we love our granddog Ray and I am in no way a dog person either but I do love that dog.

  2. I have enjoyed this series of posts, Jane. Thank you for sharing your journey with Turkey. He seems to fit right in! It made me smile to think how strongly you declared yourself NOT to be a dog person...but, that you are now a Turkey person. :) You are much love is there to go around. May the Lord guide and direct as you open your hearts for another Foster child. His timing is perfect. Hugs! Camille

  3. I'm glad Turkey adjusted so well to you, and you all to him. Your kids are going to have some wonderful memories courtesy of your new addition. I suspect you may find a dog in the family to be something you'd really rather not have to do without. Enjoy!!

  4. We have a rescue dog. We got her as a puppy, and I entered that world with trepidation, but now I can't imagine life without her. We recently added a rescue kitten that was dumped near my office outside of town. They are like family, and I can relate to "mothering" the pets! I do just the same. Thank you for sharing your journey and for encouraging others to consider fostering children. The world needs love, and we all have more than enough to go around, if only we'll share it.
    Blessings to you and your family!

  5. If he's running in the woods, he needs florescent orange!!! In coloring and size, he looks awfully much like a deer.

    1. Don't worry- he has an obnoxiously florescent vest if he needs it. We were out on private land before hunting season at the time of these pix. But you're right, he is a bit deer-like!

  6. While I can't vouch for your choice of name for this beautiful dog, I loved your description of hikes in the woods with him. Our Ruby, also a rescue and a Basenji/Terrier mix just a bit younger than Turkey, does the exact same thing when I take her into the woods. I agree with Mark--pretty soon you won't be able to imagine your life without a dog. Blessings!

    1. Hi, Jay. His given name was Turquoise. His first owners called him Turk. That's his "real" name now although at our house he goes by Turk, Turkey, Turkey Boy, Turkus and Turkmenistan. Since Jamey often calls our children "turkey" when they're being troublesome (in fun), it just kind of seemed like a natural name for our new family member :-).

  7. I love reading your blog but this is the first time I have felt compelled to comment. First of all, we are a Vizsla family and we absolutely love the breed. We knew nothing about them until a friend needed to place a dog her son had been given. Bella came to us 8 years ago and we fell in love. You will find Turkey to be incredibly intelligent and just a tad bit sneaky...they are sooo smart! Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Can you tell me the size of "jacket" you bought for Turkey? I imagine Bella is smaller, but that will give me an idea :)

    1. Aw, thanks for commenting! The jacket is size Large. Turk is 65 pounds if that helps. I'd say the jacket fits him nicely but might be a tiny bit small (he has a large neck and, of course, chest). I love hearing from other Vizsla owners- thank you again for "speaking up"!

  8. Jane - I, too, love reading your blog. We are much older (in our sixties) but when we were young, we had multiple foster child placements. All our foster children went back to their parents, except for our last one, who we adopted. Between the time he was placed with us and was adopted, we were blessed with a daughter and also lost 2 children due to ectopic pregnancies. Both of our children were considered "special needs" (aren't all children?), one with autism & one with severe allergies/asthma. We got our first dog when they were 11 & 8. The dogs brought us so much joy, taught our children so much and helped them to understand responsibility and love. Our son "lost" his autism diagnosis and is fine today. Our daughter still struggles with severe health problems but is not allergic to dogs.

    Our children are now 42 & 38. They both have dogs as important parts of their families. Our 14 year old granddaughter even wants to be a vet when she's older! God & all His creatures teach us so much. Glad you are getting to know the blessings of being foster parents and dog owners. Isn't life just amazing?
    Grandma Kisses


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