What to do when your dog growls, eats shoes and flies on private planes

Meet my newest foster. Brownie is a one year old beagle and dachshund mix. Saved from a certain death, Brownie arrived to me on a small Cessna plane only hours after receiving his death sentence. This kid was lucky. A private organization called Pilots and Paws arranged for about 300 scared, shivering and completely unsure of who to trust dogs, to be flown in small groups from several high-kill shelters in North Carolina to rescues organizations in Northern Virginia. Brownie was one of fourteen taken in by HART, but unlike others on this life saving trip, he arrived without any written history as to how he ended up at the shelter. Not knowing what to expect, I took the little guy home to find out.

First thing I discovered: he is a growler. His upper lip would rise with intent of scaring anyone who approached when things didn’t go his way. Having experience with Chihuahuas, I knew what to do.

After firmly reprimanding him with my voice (never touching to prevent any biting reflex) I would commence my acting ignoring him altogether. Dogs are communal animals and hate to feel not part of the group. So he quickly learned to associate the displeasure in my voice with now quite terrifying to him feeling of getting abandoned. (Especially, having just experienced the granddaddy of all abandonments in North Carolina). Second thing I found out: he is a chewer.

 He absolutely loves toys, spending countless hours picking his latest favorite out of the communal toy basket, but after he chews, de-squeaks, and de-staffs it, he’ll move on to your shoes without any hesitation. Seeing the horror in my face when caught the first time, he then tried to explain that he couldn’t tell the difference between my toys and his, by bringing me the remaining shoe as an offering! Sharing must be caring, for since he already ate one, he insisted on my eating the other!

I urgently implemented new ways to release his pent up energy, which noticeably cut down both on his growling and his incessant chewing. We now have regular “chew hours” for him to enjoy boiled for 30 minutes beef neck bones, and guess who has regular “running” sessions in the park as often as humanly possible? After a few weeks of peaceful living with other dogs and cats, a much calmer and happier Brownie had emerged. He will now ask to come up to sit next to you on the couch, and he will do circles by the main door to show you that he needs to go.

He'll faithfully follow you around the house, bravely saves you from the evils of the bathroom, and offer to shred your recycling instead of that machine you just bought. And, at the end of each day, when he finally curls into a small doughnut to sleep, he will always leave a paw or his nose right there to touch you as his tried-and-true insurance against your disappearing during the night. 
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