It has already been a month since we started fostering Zach and we have fallen in love him every step of the journey. Although his anxiety is still palpable, and some noises paralyze his core, he has learned to tolerate most machines, vehicles and high pitch sounds. When my husband and I are around, he seems calm and relaxed, as if he knew he was safe and protected.
Learning to become leaders of Zach’s pack has been a unique experience, one that has me wondering if this is how parenting feels like; we make sure we feed him, give him his meds and give him plenty of exercise. He is overjoyed when he sees us return from out outings and has learned to not freak out when the alarm chirps and whistles. Every day he chooses a new corner of the house to explore, and he now likes to lay on the top of the staircase to watch the people and cars go by.
In terms of personality, he is definitely introverted and comes with a routine to prove it. To get to visit him you must sit patiently and not look at him while you feed him treats and he smells you. Once he decides if you are good people, he will cuddle up to you and ask you to play fetch. Throw the ball a few times and he automatically becomes your best pal. In that respect he is like me; going into a party I am always shy and reserved but once you talk to me about a book or nerdy subject I light up and become your bestie.
Zach has this goofy and smarty pants personality that is yet refined and sensitive. For a pit bull mix, he is not aggressive even when in the middle of an anxiety fit, and he tends to bark at you like you should understand him. A bit demanding at times, he begs for pets and attention but quickly gets over any rejection and entertains himself. In this short time I have been able to teach him to stay and to close his eyes so I can clean his face after running outside in the gravel or snow. Oh, and he stands still and let you wipe his paws when you ask him politely after a good backyard run.
To let lose some steam, his pal Jeremy (Urban Wilderness) walks him around our complex and teaches him to avoid becoming anxious when he sees other pets and people. I’m beginning to wonder if he talks to the neighborhood dogs when he barks outside and considers them his friends when he is out there. Once, he had a close encounter with one his “long distance” dog pals, who was riding on the back of an SUV and started to call out to him. He seemed to want to socialize after the shock had worn off but he is not at that stage yet where we can introduce him freely to other canines. Regardless of the drama he enjoys his walks and my husband can’t wait for the opportunity to walk him soon.
When he is not desperately waiting for you to throw a ball, Zach sits on your lap or falls asleep on top of you. At 70lbs, you’d think he’d know he could crush you but the puppy in him doesn’t know he is too big! That’s classic Z magic, he makes you forget he is almost full grown, especially after licking your face after he goofed up.
Sleep time is my favorite time with him. While he does stay in his bed for about 6 to 7 hrs, he always finds an opportunity to sneak into bed. I built him a raised platform so he could see us from his bed and that has helped him stay in it longer. Some days we can find him taking a nap on our bed, but he has been known to use his own frequently. Burrowing under the covers is his favorite thing, that and waking you up in the morning with hugs and a very wiggly tail.
Next week, his trainer Jennifer will come and evaluate how he has adapted and will test how well he is doing at processing the outside world. If he passes, he will be one step closer to adoption! Although we are the front runner candidates, I make sure we go above and beyond for Zach, and are even approaching builders in our area to get a house on a bigger lot in case it is determined he can’t handle the stress or suburban life. We are all positive our little guy is improving and that he will have a long and prosperous future as a member of our family!
We love you Zach!
For those interested, Zach has a gofundme page for his training and dog walking expenses. Every penny helps! Thanks for your support. Spread the word.