Update (August 31): A neighborhood couple came to meet Cowboy last night and wound up rolling all over the floor with him. They want to get to know him better, and they're going to foster him next week. Meantime, I'd love to hear from others who might be interested if these folks decide they can't adopt a dog right now.
In related news, I was heartened by Cowboy's reception in Ft Greene Park this morning. This post has been hit hundreds of times, and everyone seemed to know about him. Amanda, a dog owner, brought an "Adopt Me" vest for him, and Cowboy got a ton of great atttention. Between the vest and the fact that I've gotten a little smarter about linking pictures to this post, I'm hopeful he'll meet his forever people soon. Please continue to help spreading the word. Thanks!
The facts, as I know 'em:
This sweet male pit bull, approximately two years old, was found tied up and abandoned in Fort Greene Park about a month ago. A park regular, Sarah, who already has a young male mutt, took this guy in and named him Cowboy. He's housebroken, and the dogs got along famously. But it was insane having them wrestle constantly in her small apt, and she finally decided to she had to give up Cowboy. We're trying to find him a forever home. (Confusing, but not unmanageably so: I'm also named Sarah.)
During the time she had Cowboy, Sarah took him to Brooklyn Veterinary Hospital, where he was neutered and got all of his shots, along with flea-and-tick treatment and heartworm meds. The vet said he seemed very healthy and showed no signs of abuse. But Cowboy weighed 60 pounds, and the vet to wondered if he'd simply outgrown a loving home. (He is, btw, a very compact 60 pounds, looking more like 50.)
Sarah says that in the time she had him, Cowboy never displayed any aggression toward other dogs or people. He even spent a night or two with a co-worker of hers who has a one-year-old and a four-year-old; he was great with the kids, and they fell in love with him. (We don't know how Cowboy is with cats.) Sarah, btw, seems very sane and trustworthy--which, she and I both had to admit, is not universally true of dog people.
Because I've been in the market for a foster dog for the past few weeks, I have met a lot of abandoned pit bulls. Nearly all of them have had the pretty intense behavior issues that come with being mistreated. They're needy. They're leash-aggressive. They're food-aggressive. Or they're afraid to eat. They're very easily spooked. They're afraid of men. Or they're afraid of women. They have separation anxiety. They're barkers. They don't get along with other dogs. Cowboy, I'm surprised to report, seems to have none of these issues. He's young and energetic, but he appears very well adjusted. He bonds with people quickly (even on our first walk, he checked in and looked me in the eye several times); he wants to learn (he loved clicker training for his dinner and wasn't spooked by the clicking noise); and he's generally not anxious (he started playing with toys the instant he got in my apartment, and neither the subway rumble nor my moving around has bothered him at all).
Here's what is tricky with Cowboy: walking on leash. He's not aggressive: no lunging, no growling, no barking. He doesn't react when other dogs on leash get testy. But his general mode is to walk quickly and pull very hard. Even with the front-clasp harness, it's an intense experience. Sarah says that two dog walkers she's had both found him manageable, so I'm going to see if I can learn some better techniques. Meantime, I want to be honest about this.
In addition, he doesn't have a lot of manners. While he hasn't tried to get on my sofa, he does like to jam through doors first, and he does some mild jumping up on people. But I think that stuff is very solveable. He seems to like training, and I don't think he's gotten much of it yet; "sit" is still shaky for him.
I wound up with Cowboy because Fort Greene PUPS sent a note around today saying that they'd been unable to find him a forever home, and Sarah was taking him to Animal Control; if anyone could adopt him, he'd be there. I responded, saying I could foster him. As it happens, Sarah's mom was already at Animal Control, where the intake guy was asking her to reconsider leaving the dog. The agency puts down thousands of dogs each year, and pit bulls are particularly vulnerable, rarely getting adopted back out. PUPS connected me and Sarah, and then Sarah called her mom right as Animal Control was suggesting she keep looking for a new owner.
Now, Tony and I already have a dog, Eggs. But the two of them are spending most of the fall in SF, while I'm spending it in Bklyn. So I'm considering adopting an East Coast dog. But because I have a fair amount of travel through October, I'm not quite ready to commit. Thus the foster idea. And thus the need to find Cowboy a forever home. More pics of Cowboy are here.
If you're Cowboy's potential new home, feel free to email me directly. If you can help spread this post with tweets and Facebook updates, that's much appreciated, too. Cowboy will make a great dog for a great home, but he needs help making the match.