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by Kyler Laird last modified 2008-07-24 16:14

German Shepherd Dog, male

joined us: 2008-04-16 (4982 days ago)

This dog has been adopted.

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more photos of Nico

written by Kyler

I noticed Nico at Crystal Creek Kennels and saw that his listing said he gets along great with people but not with other dogs. I visited the kennel in April and discovered that they wanted someone experienced with such dogs to evaluate and work with him before they tried placing him. Nico arrived as an intact stray and had already had an incident with a dog there. (I didn't ask for details.)

2008-05-11: It was almost a month before I felt like I was in a position to work with Nico. I retrieved him from the kennel. He was quite a handful - very strong. I did take him to the lobby though, where he was surrounded by cats and kittens and another family had a slightly smaller dog. He was not intently focused on any of them and even managed to do some sits and downs for me.

Nico jumped right into the Jeep and was quite pleasant on the drive to Klondike Kennels. He was excited when we arrived and, again, was a lot to manage but no more than I'd expect from such a big strong dog who has been kenneled for months. I walked him through the kennels to the fenced area and he seemed fairly disinterested in the other dogs.

I let him run around outside for a bit and eventually took him to a playgroup area while I pulled Keowee. They seemed only mildly interested in each other through the fence so I eventually let Keowee in with Nico while I held Nico by his collar and a short lead. Oops. Keowee got too close and without warning (that I detected) Nico latched onto his back. I broke the bite after a few seconds and Keowee's retaliation ended quickly. Nico and Keowee were both calm and Keowee continued to visit us while I kept Nico down. There seemed to be no damage and Keowee didn't seem distraught by it.

I maintained more solid yet relaxed control of Nico's neck while Keowee milled around us. Nico struck at him a couple more times when he got very close. Again, there was no warning. (I'd expect Keowee to pick up on it by now.)

Nico seems like a good guy but I'm looking forward to figuring out what's happening with other dogs. He doesn't seem to be fearful or anxious about Keowee and I certainly didn't have an expectation of such a strike that I could have "telegraphed" to him. This could simply be "play" or simple dominance behavior for him. It's impressive how calm he is until the other dog is in range though.

Nico is still a Crystal Creek dog. I don't expect any adoptions until we've evaluated him but he can be visited immediately.

2008-05-12: I took Nico for a run, tethered to my trike. We didn't go much more than a mile but it seemed to take the edge off of him. He did beautifully in harness. Normally I'd have another dog train him but I'm not ready for him to be that close to another dog. He stayed right in place without much guidance. After the run Dr. Banker checked the buildup in his right ear and we're treating it.

2008-05-13: I returned from the farm late and brought my pack to the grounds. I pulled Nico along with Keowee from the kennel. I kept Nico muzzled at first and he did so well with my dogs that when we got into the large "park" area I removed his muzzle but kept him tethered to me while all of the dogs played. We walked the fence line a couple times and sat together. All of my dogs came in close contact with him repeatedly. He behaved beautifully. After about an hour we went to the playgroup areas and he got to run in the large section while everyone else played in another. Eventually I let my old girl, Grazie, join us and he didn't even raise her ire. Unfortunately, as we were leaving and I had him on lead again I let the young guys (Marley and Keowee) get too close while they were playing rough and Nico chomped Keowee who returned fire while I restrained Nico. I'd like to think Nico is learning that there's not a good payoff from such behavior.

2008-05-14: I was upset overnight about spoiling such a good evening by letting Nico bite Keowee again. I decided I needed to do much better today. In the afternoon I rode my trike to the kennel and pulled both dogs. I botched it again; while I was attaching a lead to Keowee Nico pulled his muzzle and snapped at him. It was quickly finished but there was blood from somewhere. We made it to the trike with the tightened muzzle in place and both dogs were great about harnessing. We didn't go far before the muzzle was really causing problems for Nico so I removed it. He loped along behind Keowee without the slightest problem. When we reached the end of the road I took photos and was so proud of them getting along so well together! When we returned they both stayed in downs together in the clinic while I chatted with Donna. Kitty drove our pack over and we spent another hour walking the dog park with Nico tethered to me. He's becoming very relaxed around the other dogs as they play.

2008-05-15: It was another long day for me at the farm and it was raining as I returned. I ate at home and then went to the kennel to bathe Nico. (I'd had complaints.) I let Keowee out to run and kept Nico tethered to me but unmuzzled. I let him run in the playgroup area on his own and then we all went to the park area where he stayed tethered to me while Keowee ran. I put away Keowee and then got ready to bathe Nico. He was so good! When I pulled the ramp on the tub he hopped right up into it. He was so perfectly behaved during the long bath and endured my scrubbing and blow drying with hardly a struggle. He seemed to be accustomed to being bathed and even enjoyed the experience. Good dog!

2008-05-17: We did our own heartworm test on Nico and he tested positive. We're working with Crystal Creek to decide how to proceed.

2008-05-18: I had our pack at playgroups today and pulled Nico from the kennel to walk with me in the park area while my dogs ran. Back in the playgroup area I let Nico roam freely. He did beautifully. He was also quite calm when dogs walked near us to exit.

2008-05-20: It was decided that Nico would be treated for heartworm on Thursday (the 22nd) so I thought I should give him another test with other dogs before he would need to be kept sedate. I allowed him off-leash in the large park area with my dogs. He was doing well and seemed relaxed. Then I noticed him running with Marley. Then I noticed Marley running in front of him. It didn't look good. Sure enough, when Marley ran into a corner of the fence Nico grabbed him and scared the pudding out of him. Marley suffered a rip and puncture wounds on his inner thigh and butt. Neither dog seemed too bothered by it.

2008-05-21: After the DPAGL meeting some of us went to dinner together and then to the kennel to see Nico and gather his meds. I let Nico out and we toured the grounds. When we entered the park area I saw Nico head toward the junk pile (on the other side of the fence) and heard a scream. Nico brought his new catch out and allowed me to take it from him. He even let me take a photo with both of them at arm length. He got a bath before going back to the kennel. Again, he's great with people but not with small animals (unless you want them exterminated).

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