Saturday, November 10, 2012

Our Girl Goes Home

Tomorrow, Cici goes home with her forever family, a wonderful couple from British Columbia. Yep, our Great White pup is headed for the Great White North.

Bringing Celeste home, just off the transport from Texas.

We met Cici's new family yesterday, and they are amazing people. She's going to be an only dog in a home with woods to walk in, and visiting grandkids who will lavish love on her. Her new Mama sees charity work in Cici's future, as a visiting therapy dog for local hospitals. Honestly, she will have the kind of life that no one could have expected for her, based on where and how she started life. It's maybe a little bit like watching your daughter leave home to marry a wonderful man. You know that she's on promising, amazing new path, but you are still a little sad to see her break away from your fold, your emotions oscillating between pride, joy and gut-wrenching pain, each in their turn. That's my baby right there.

Cici was born on a ranch in East Texas, and along with 36 other dogs, was surrendered to a kill shelter by the ranch owner. She was rescued by a network of compassionate, tireless individuals within the SPIN (Saving Pyrs In Need) and the Great Pyrenees Rescue Society organizations. She was significantly underweight, and had had very little direct interaction with humans, and was therefore untrained and totally inexperienced with the concepts of love, trust and security. The vets who saw her upon intake at the shelter estimated that she would reach a maximum of 60 pounds, full grown. Her undersized adult weight will be a life-long reminder of the insufficient nourishment she received in her infancy.

Her previous experiences in life had taught her that food was a scarce and extremely valuable commodity, and so she would eat until she was full, but continue to guard her food bowl, even going so far as to sleep by her dish, lest Rex (or us humans) try to take her food. It was heartbreaking to see.

She was absolute sweetness personality-wise since day one, but the trust and training were much slower in coming. Pyr's are incredibly intelligent dogs, and so the bulk of Cici's "training" actually came from following Rex's example. We also used positive reinforcement ("atta girls" and bribery via treats)  to teach her very basic concepts like sit.

She's been with us for about 6 weeks, and has grown tremendously, emotionally and physically. She's gained a good 5 pounds, started growing a new, healthy winter coat, and works and plays in lock-step with Rex; barking at bicyclists, deer and the UPS man, checking in on the welfare of the chickens and goats, and competing for the prime, pre-warmed-by-Mama's-butt, spot on the couch. She feels like this is her place too now.

And it has been. She and Rex have been a great team. Joggers smile and say hi to the pair of sproingy, giant white fluff balls each time they pass. People ask us about the breed all the time now, Great Pyrenees being a fairly uncommon and heretofore relatively unknown breed in Western Washington. The resurgence of urban homesteading and hobby farming has made the Livestock Guardian Dog a relevant consideration for families and individuals who want to raise their own food and food animals in cities and towns where raccoons, rats and coyotes, among others, have adapted to our urban sprawl and set up shop quite efficiently, gobbling up backyard chickens and bunnies like drive-thru hamburgers. These pups earn their keep, keeping the predators at bay, while respecting your livestock and totally running away with your heart. To me, they are dream dogs, the perfect breed.

So I guess I'm a sort of Pyr evangelist. Which is one of the things that I must remind myself of every time I think about Cici moving on. She might be the first Pyr that a lot of folks meet, in her neck of the Canadian woods. Her finding her forever home means that we will have room in our home for another dog who might otherwise be euthanized due to shelter overcrowding. This is the best possible outcome for everyone involved, especially for Cici. That doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt.

Safe travels, Cici-beans. You've made your Mama so proud. 

My pair o'Pyrs. Who says dogs can't smile? :)

1 comment:

  1. :*) Ohhh. I have enjoyed your updates and photos on Cici's progress. I am glad she has found her forever home and I hope your home finds a new foster Pyr soon. You're a great foster mom.