Building a relationship with a foster dog takes time, no matter where the dog comes from.
We’ve fostered strays that were picked up, we’ve had owner surrenders and we’ve had countless pups that came from pounds.
Needless to say, the first two or three weeks with a new foster generally are spent learning about each other.
In the past three weeks, we’ve had some progress with our newest foster, Karick — slow as it might seem.
The first week was a bit of a wash with Karick as everyone in our lives seemed to have the flu.
Ordinarily, Karick goes to work with my husband, Gareth, where he is quite content to be the “shop dog.”
He enjoys bouts of running back and forth to the door or sleeping under Gareth’s desk chair.
However, by husband was home sick for nearly an entire week, which was not the same adventure for the dog.
During that time, I would come home at the end of the night and literally run laps in the living room because the dog wanted to play so badly.
Training and exercise
Little to no training took place that week, but that is less of a problem because Karick came to us with a great base of commands.
He still is an independent dog who pretty much does what he wants to, but he knows basic commands like “sit” and “come.”
Karick also responds to his name. Without a doubt, he was glad to be back in the office the following week.
Getting Karick’s exercise in can be a bit of a challenge on busy days, but as he has started to lose some of his 41 pounds, he has become more enthusiastic about everything.
When Gareth and I are getting ready to leave in the mornings, Karick quickly realizes it’s nearly time to leave the house.
Because of the setback the week before, he acts a bit like he’s concerned he might be left behind.
In an effort to make sure he gets to go with Gareth each morning, Karick literally will herd us out the door.
Corgis were bred for herding. As a byproduct, even Corgis that are not trained to do so still exhibit some herding skills.
For Karick, it’s basically herding in slow motion. I walked to the bedroom and he followed me, looped around me, and then wouldn’t move until he was sure I was going in the direction of the front door.
Thus, our morning routine has become an extended session of trying to get both of us to leave ahead of him — but not without him.
That crazy little dog might think he’s the one in charge already, come to think of it.
Last week, Karick finally got to go to one of our favorite local hangouts, where he was treated to a very special surprise.
While we were sitting on the front porch of Steamy Joe, a barista named Riley came out with a “pupachino.”
This particular treat is just whipped cream.
I will admit it is not on Karick’s diet, but an exception was made and more walking was done to atone for the added caloric indulgence.
Since he came to us, he’s slimmed down to around 35 1/2 pounds, but we have another 10 to go.
Trial run for Karick
Today — after many, many walks with a leash — we took a trial run with recall off-leash.
This is not something we do without logging a lot of time with a dog, and we never do it in a place that is unfamiliar or that could be dangerous.
We know from the time we’ve spent with him that Karick isn’t much of a runner, nor does he ignore us when we are firm with him.
Gareth let him walk from the car to the door of his office recently, with me standing by on the outskirts, ready to step in if necessary.
While he trotted faster when he saw me, he didn’t break away from the familiar pattern, but sat calmly as he waited for the door to be opened.
A blanket to call his own
The last three weeks have provided ample opportunity to know this little pup better, but more important, we’ve created a baseline for him.
Before he came, he wasn’t in a stable environment for some time and his whirlwind trip here from Nebraska was three days of constant motion.
Karick knows he has a blanket on the floor at home that is his to lie on whenever he likes. Of course, he picked the softest blanket available.
He also knows that when he wakes up in the morning, he only has to start dancing around the bedroom to wake the people he is living with, he can get ear scratches nearly whenever he wants and he won’t miss a single meal — even if it isn’t exactly what he wants to eat.