We have a visitor right now. She weighs about 10lbs, isn’t very steady on her feet and spends a lot of time shaking. She’s from the same puppy mill Winnie was taken out of and clearly they are related. So here I go again, trying to help a mill dog become a good pet for someone.
As we get to know her I’ll be making a list of things she will need to know before going to a permanent home. I want her more steady on her feet. She lacks muscle and coordination. She needs to learn how to get up and down stairs. She needs to be able to go off leash in an fenced yard. She needs to be able to get herself out a door to go potty.
These things a pretty normal for our normal pets, but they are hard work for a mill dog. You’d think going through a door would be no big deal. But, this can be a major phobia for these dogs. It took Winnie months to learn to step over a threshold and go through a doorway.
We are starting out a little further into the journey than with Winnie. She’s already been fostered for just over a year, and then was adopted. So she’s basically potty trained and doesn’t try to hide in her crate. She doesn’t run if she hears loud noises although she certainly does react.
The adoption did not work out, the owner describing her as a ‘shell’. But, we’ve already seen some sparks of a personality, most of this thanks to Sammy Sam, who is exactly the type of well adjusted pet dogs like this need to learn from. In some many things I’ve read about mill dogs, a well adjusted dog to be a role model is described as the number one thing that can bring them around. Sammy Sam will soon have an honourary degree in doggy therapy. For mill dogs, who basically have a canine form of PTSD love isn’t really enough.
I admit the title “Birder” sounds a little strange to me, as it suggests something more participatory than watching birds. And although I may be a birder, I’m certainly not a twitcher (someone who travels long distances to see birds). I prefer to let them come to me. I am a list maker however, and keeping a list of birds in my special list book is something I enjoy. My bird list contains few rarities–these are just the birds that inhabit the same environs I do. I’ve been keeping a life list for several years now, but throughout 2019 I kept a list of all the birds I saw. Today I sat down and took a final count–there were 75. A few birds that I didn’t quite identify didn’t make it on my list–like the black duck I thought I saw just before Christmas. I figure confirming it over the next few days will give me a jump on the 2020 list.
Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Workweek and Lifestyle Design Blog. Tim is an author of 5 #1 NYT/WSJ bestsellers, investor (FB, Uber, Twitter, 50+ more), and host of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast (400M+ downloads)