Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's Barry's Turn to Blog!

You might think it's odd that the Alpha Dog of the house is the last one to write a blog entry, but it's really not odd at all. The Alpha Dog doesn't need to be a big, pushy bully -- at least not after everyone has agreed that he is indeed the Alpha. Once his status is established, he can actually be quite magnanimous. Unless there's an especially tasty chewy in dispute, of course.

And anyway, I will admit that I had my doubts about this blog project of Piper's. I mean, she's a cute little sister and all that, but I didn't really think she'd stick with it and write regular entries. And I didn't believe anyone would read them, even if she wrote them. But she has proved me wrong on both counts, which is why I was actually honored to be asked to write here.

Naturally, the question in these situations is always "What should I write about?" Well, I thought the matter over, and I decided that since my pack mates had such a good response to blogging about themselves, I should follow their example. Thus, I will be providing you with some autobiographical information and maybe a photo from my younger days.

As Piper has already told you, I was dumped at the tender age of 5 weeks, along with my littermates -- a brother and a sister -- in a cardboard box on the counter at the Humane Society. The person who brought us in did not stay long enough to provide any information to the receptionist, who was on the phone at the time. It was a cruel case of abandonment that I feel has had a tragic effect on the lives of all three of us puppies.

Since we were so young, we were put into foster care at first with a couple who lived in an apartment. They gave us names. Mine was Bear, my sister's was Pepper, and my brother's was Frankie. Our foster parents took good care of us, but they didn't socialize us very well during the magical "window of opportunity" when that is best done with puppies. This, along with the fact that we all apparently inherited the "fearful" gene, meant that we had some problems adjusting to life later on.

All of us were cute little black puppies, and I looked like a fuzzy bear cub, which is how I got my name. Later on, when my ears stood up, I didn't look so much like a bear anymore. Here's a picture of me as a pup :
And here's one of my sister, Pepper (later known as Chloe):

When we got old enough to be adopted, our foster mom and dad brought us back to the shelter. First we all had to be neutered or spayed, and get our shots. Then we all lived in a run together. The shelter was a scary place for us because we were not used to being around so many people and dogs. It seemed like total chaos after living in a nice, quiet apartment. My brother and sister soon got adopted, even though they aren't as cute as I am (at least according to Mom, who has met both my littermates as adults). And I was left there, all alone at the horrible shelter.

Unfortunately, I started developing a bad case of fear aggression, and this may be the reason that no one wanted to adopt me. Aunt Karen, who is the shelter director, decided I would do better back in foster care. So I went to live with my foster mom and dad again. This suited me just fine, and they liked having me there. The only bad part was that during the day, while they were both at work, they made me stay in a crate. This was because they were afraid someone might come in to do maintenance work in the apartment and I would bite this person. And in fact, this is what probably would have happened.

I really hated the crate, though, and I tried my best to get out of it. I chewed up all the plastic part below the door, and my foster dad had to reinforce it with a piece of metal. I also chewed on the bars of the door and wore my teeth down. But none of this helped because they still kept me in the crate. Oh, and they had a behaviorist come and work with me to try to make me less likely to bite people who came to the apartment. The thing is, I was just protecting my territory and defending my humans, which is what any respectable dog with German shepherd heritage would do.

My foster parents loved me, and they might have adopted me, except they got pregnant, and they realized that I was not the right kind of dog to have around children. So I had to go back to the shelter again. This was about the time when Mom started volunteering there, and she was interested in me because she thought I might be part basenji. She offered to foster me, but this didn't happen for several months because Aunt Karen wanted Mom to get to know me first.

Not all the volunteers were allowed to play with me because I was a "black level" dog, which is the kind that might bite someone who wasn't used to being around fear-aggressive dogs. So Mom had to first work up through the green, yellow, and pink levels of dog-walking before she could even play with me out in the yard. I never really bit anyone at the shelter, by the way. I was just kind of crazy and hyper in my run, and occasionally I snapped at someone if they seemed especially scary.

Anyway, Mom finally got to take me home as her foster dog. That's when I met Gabe and Trixie and Mel. Gabe and I had a few "discussions" about who would be the Alpha Dog, but we got it figured out. In fact, all four of us dogs got along pretty well, and nobody else wanted to adopt me, so finally Mom decided that she might as well do it. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Oh, and one other thing: Mom didn't like the name "Bear," so she decided to change my name. She thought about calling me "Angus" because she said I looked more like a cow than like a bear. But since she had been calling me "Bear" for many months, she changed my name to "Barry" because that's close to "Bear" and it was easy for both of us to remember!


  1. Great story and so interesting! I'd say that you and all your brothers and sisters or should I say, "roommates" are very lucky to have your MOM...and I'm sure your mom would say she's lucky to have each and every one of you.

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