I can be an idiot.
Last week classes started, and I was busy prepping -- it's a busy time of year. I still have a large custom order to finish for Karen Thomas. Furthermore, I visit my sister twice a year, and I have no clue about how Draco the Dane would react to another canine--he loves Jet, the fawn, but he's getting jealous, too. I didn't do any research into the different dogs available in the area. I just passed by the Atlanta Canine Adoption Project who were camped out at a local PetSmart and ... came home with Justin.
He's about a year and a quarter old, and is pretty good with Their Feline Majesties (i.e. interested but willing to ignore). He's pretty quiet around the house and is housebroken, and has the beginnings of leash-training. We're discussing 1) where dogs may and may not put their paws (not the counter, table, couch, or my shoulders ... unless I have given him the "HUG!" signal), 2) the fact that well-mannered dogs SIT when their leash goes on and again when it goes off, and that well-mannered dogs SIT when getting a treat,
3) the fact that human beings do not want dogs in their laps when eating or doing other things, and that, when RUDE, dogs need to give the human about 2 feet of space by going off and lying down.
The cats are still unsure, but Justin pretty much ignores them if they ignore him. Bella is wandering around the house, and Molly has come out onto the bed, but Min still hides under the bed except when Justin is in the kitchen or crated for the night.
(He's still young enough that chewing could be a temptation!) It's clear that he has never been socialized well--he is extremely timid in new situations, he's desperately afraid of new people in general and more so when they are in a group, and he's got a touch of separation anxiety. Poor guy, he doesn't even know how to play! (He's learning fast.) The rescue organization folks have clearly done some preliminary training with him, but that's all, and the woman at PetSmart said she had had to leave him crated for ten hours at a clip.
I'm not pushing the crate; he will den in it, but is afraid when the door closes--so I am slowly acclimating him to it in ten minute chunks, and in the meanwhile am leaving him in my kitchen when I go to work or out. I am a decent dog trainer, but I am saving up to go to basic obedience classes with Justin, simply to aid with socialization, AND to speed up the training process somewhat by checking my own consistency and tone; it's been a while since I have done this!
Despite Justin's fears, though, he isn't a fear-biter--I have tested him carefully!--and has a good temperament. In situations that are unfamiliar but *like* places he knows--like at the vet's, surprisingly--he isn't nearly as scared and he warms up to people fast. The vet was impressed and allowed as how I have a pretty good dog here.
Justin's a real snuggle-bug, with soft fur. Like all shepherd mixes, he sheds like whoa, and I have to sweep every day! He also needs a LONG walk, which is good for my general level of ... err ... fluffiness. In fact, that was one reason for getting a young dog who needed walks, even though I am so busy--just as I train HIM to behave, he trains ME into consistent exercise. For him, food and affection are motivators. For me, NOT having my house torn up by a bored, hyper dog is a serious motivator!
Will he remain "Justin"? Dunno. It seems to fit, but not quite. He will let me know what his name will be--after all, every dog I have ever had has gone through a series of names and nicknames as our relationship has evolved. As for his breed, he seems to be a lab/Shepherd mix with a touch of spitz. A friend has suggested that his breed is "Justin-other Dog," and another friend, observing his ability to eel slowly up onto furniture (where he does not belong!), suggested "Black Eeler" as a breed name. Another friend from Australia has said that he's just a plain old kelpie, and suggested "Black Kelpie Digger" as a name. Any suggestions?