I got an email on June 2, 2011, from WIN, asking if we’d be willing to foster Molly, a 16-month-old “owner surrender” from St. Louis, where we live. The previous March we had lost our male Wheaten, a rescue of unknown age, who after slowing down suddenly had lost the use of his back legs (stroke? Whatever it was it was untreatable). Molly was spayed and house and crate trained. She was born Jan. 29, 2010, in a kennel in northeastern Nebraska, from which her owners had bought a wheaten named Murphy, then 3-1/2. They got Molly as a companion to Murphy and, as long as Molly was a puppy, all was well. However, as she got bigger (bigger than Murphy), they became hostile to one another. Her owners, who between them had many young grandchildren who visited frequently, were worried that someone would get seriously hurt when the dogs fought. Consultations with a behaviorist didn’t help, so after much soul searching they decided to find Molly another home. They were thrilled when WIN referred to us as knowledgeable Wheaten owners who might be ready to take in a new wheatie.
We met Molly that afternoon. She was very uneasy in our house (whined, clung to her owner) but eventually settled down and let my husband walk her around the yard. We were impressed with her soft, fine coat and just how beautiful she was. Although she was much more anxious than our previous two Wheatens, I figured we could adapt to her personality, and so we agreed to foster, with an option to adopt. She moved in the next day, complete with bed, crate, a bag of food, poochie bells, an elk antler, and a marrow bone! My husband took her out for a walk while I sat with the owner, who was in tears, and we went through all the paper work. We agreed to be on Facebook together, and we’ve since communicated frequently about Molly’s progress, sending pictures, videos, and anecdotes. They were anxious to see her again, but Gwen advised us not to allow that, as it would only be confusing to Molly, so we haven’t.
How things went: pretty well, considering! She didn’t eat much at first, pulled on me HARD when she saw squirrels, so eventually we got an “Easy Walk” harness which turns her toward us when she yanks. She’s gotten much better (though we’ve gone through several of those harnesses, one of which she chewed). She was very clinging but is now more independent. She’s a smart, affectionate dog, who likes to be brushed and fussed over although not cuddled. She loves to go outside in the yard with us, chases squirrels out of it like a pro, and is very communicative. We pretty much always know how she’s feeling—tail up or down, whining or not—and we have learned what her different barks mean. She still has anxiety issues, but lots of attention and training has helped with that. We had one consultation with a behaviorist, who gave me some clicker training tips which have worked wonderfully with her: she now sits, lies down, rolls over, jumps over a stick, takes the morning paper into the kitchen, etc. “Staying” and “stopping barking”—well, we’re still working on those! She does like to have “jobs” to do!
Oh yes, and after three weeks we DID adopt her—she’s now “ours.”
Smart Molly story: When I got back from being abroad, I found the spill-proof water bowl we keep in her crate on the kitchen counter. What’s it doing here? I asked my husband. “Oh, Molly brought it to me the other day.” Really? How come? “I don’t know! I thought it was hilarious!” Well, the bowl was totally DRY. THAT’s why she brought it to him—to fill it up! She has another water bowl, of course, but likes having this one close by when she naps. And she knew (or thought she knew) how to get it filled. Only hubby didn’t “get” the signal. Now he knows! This rescued WIN girl is very communicative. When she wants something she comes over unbidden, puts her paws on your shoulders, stares into your eyes or licks your hands or ears. The challenge is to figure out what’s on her mind. Just now she did it again. She’d just been “out,” so that wasn’t it; we put food down, she sniffed it and walked away. So, what was it? She went and stood by the living room door and stared at me. Ding! She wanted the front window shutters opened so that she could watch happenings in the park across the street! As soon as I opened them she grabbed one of her toys, hopped up on the couch, and settled in happily for a long “watch.” What a character. Here's a pic on the red sofa from a few months ago - one of her favorite poses.