This week, we would like to share some heart-warming news about an alumnus from 2018. I believe a little background info is helpful to appreciate this story. Last summer, a stunning standard poodle named Matteo arrived at the shelter due to family illness. The grey beauty arrived largely untrained, with a strong prey drive and an obsession for tennis balls. He lunged on his leash while walking and would launch himself at any rabbit he saw, often pulling volunteers off their feet in the process. He was an enthusiastic counter-surfer, turning an organized office into a disheveled mess in a matter of seconds. It is an understatement to say it was difficult to walk him, or even to get him to focus on learning obedience commands. But we could tell he was very intelligent, very sweet, and most of the time, very willing to please. To use a hackneyed phrase, he was a true “diamond in the rough.” A couple came along who had done quite a bit of research on the perfect dog for them, and they believed Matteo was their guy. They dutifully took him to obedience classes with a local trainer we recommended, and when those were done, employed new tools and continued with more training. Since adopting Matteo, they have thoughtfully kept us apprised of improvements in the dog’s behavior, funny habits he’s developed, or stories of how he relates to other beloved dogs in the neighborhood. We relish these anecdotes because with every adoption we are trying to help each dog maximize his potential. So, in that vein, we are celebrating the news that Matteo and his owner have achieved the title of Certified Therapy Team in the Companion Animal Program. The owner told us:
“Matteo makes moves that were not learned in training. He brought me to tears when a wheelchair bound elderly woman with severe arthritis and a fear of dogs froze in his presence.
He put his chin on her knee and waited. I watched in fascination for a number of minutes while neither of them moved. Eventually she moved an arthritic hand to his head and said he’s a nice boy.
Matteo still steals any food left momentarily on counters, chases rabbits, and takes off when visitors leave doors unlatched. His vocabulary is so full he is beginning to learn how to spell. One vet called him an athlete while the second vet in the room stated “Olympic.” While they talked Matteo stole the treat intended for the end of the evaluation.
We can’t help but smile at that last statement—some things may never change. The owner notes that Matteo is still “the sum of his experiences” (as are we all). We are terribly proud of the accomplishments of this human:canine team and celebrate the experiences yet to come. If you own a Friends of Falmouth Dogs 2019 calendar, beautiful Matteo is the featured dog for July.
We have some additional exciting news: Baeo was adopted by his foster dad last week, and Pinky went to her forever home earlier this week! We are happy these dogs are starting (or continuing) the next chapter of their lives in loving homes. Luna, our small mixed-breed will no doubt be enjoying her own forever home quite soon. She’s had many visitors over the last week, which she’s handled with aplomb, if not exuberance. Nevertheless, her personality is starting to show more and more now that she is gaining confidence. She likes to scamper around the shelter, and since we got her groomed, we found out she is quite the beauty. She has a sweet temperament, loves other dogs, rides well in the car, is well-behaved at the groomer—she’s fabulous in so many ways!
We also have another dog at the shelter who seems to be following in Luna’s developmental footsteps. Pixey is a quiet, shy little Yorkshire terrier female who came to us as a stray. She needs time to recover from her adventures “in the wild,” so to speak. But she has made tremendous improvements in the short time she’s been with us, and we are looking forward to featuring her in next week’s column so she can start entertaining visitors of her own.
FFD is located at 150 Blacksmith Shop Road, Falmouth. We are open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM to noon, Monday and Thursday afternoons, 4 to 6 PM, and Sundays, 3 to 5 PM. We can be reached at 508-548-7742, or visit our website at friendsoffalmouthdogs.org.