Angel is a 7 year old playful Wiggle-Butt who loves to give kisses and wants to be your one and only. She weighs about 60 pounds. Angel is very friendly around adults and enjoys being with her person. She is one of the HOPE dogs who enjoys “Visitation Fridays,” when we tour the prison complex, bringing dogs to brighten the staff and inmates’ days. Angel has short bursts of energy, and then she’s a couch potato with resting bitch face. She lives with only guys at the prison, and enjoys their company, but she really likes females. Angel would do best in a home with no children, because they make her uncomfortable. What can we say? Some people don’t like kids either.
Angel's last week has been a great one, highlighted by her guest appearance at a group, where she did what we all figured she would... she proved to be uplifting and therapeutic for the handful of people that attended the session, as she worked the room, visiting with each person and making them smile. Everyone loved her and to say that it went great is probably an understatement. Groups like that aren't typically enjoyable, but Angel made it so, and even I enjoyed being a part of it, even though I was just a guest myself. Aside from that, Angel has spent her week saying goodbye and getting well wishes from everyone. She also learned a new trick called 'foot,' where I point to an object and she puts her foot on it.
Angel may not have opposable thumbs, but she's very adept at using her paws! Over the weekend, we were in the dog run when one of her friends approached her and gave her a Twizzler. We stood there and watched her excitement as she proceeded to drop it and do something I wouldn't have believed unless I'd seen it for myself. She put the Twizzler on the ground and started pawing it and arranging it so it was between the webs of her paw, standing straight up in the air, before she lay down and began to casually eat it as if she did it every day. Ha, ha! It was one of the funniest, most unexpected things I've ever seen her do, which is saying something because she does a lot to make us laugh!
This week has been relatively uneventful, so there isn’t much to write about. The weather has been uncooperative, so we’ve spent more time that usual inside, which doesn’t really bother Angel. She’s gotten lazy in her old age. Ha, ha! When we are outside though, her favorite thing is to seek attention from anyone with a pulse, regardless of where they are. They could be 50 feet away, walking in the other direction, and she still thinks they might come pet her. She seems to have a sixth sense for people in the vicinity because before I even know anyone is around, she’ll just drop down and wag her tail, waiting for them to come see her. She’d make a great greeter at Wal-Mart, especially with how she boosts morale around here. As far as training goes, I’m trying to improve her ‘stand/stay’ and she’s doing well, but her ‘autosit’ is far from perfect. I’m also working on her ‘leave it,’ because that needs improvement as well.
This weekend I had a realization, and I had to laugh when we came in from outside. Although I had been away from Angel for a long time, some things never change. There she was, standing by the door to our cell, sitting politely with her paw lifted, waiting for me to wipe it off. It's a routine that I have, and for some reason it struck me that day, wondering if it says more about me and my ways, or Angel and her good memory. Regardless, I found it funny and it's really cool that after all this time, she remembers. Aside from that, this week has been a normal one, which includes Angel being the center of attention. She hasn't learned anything new this week, but she is close to learning a trick called 'chin.' She will do it in the cell, on my knee, and I hope to teach her to do it to anything I point to. P.S. There were no groundhog sightings this week!
This week has been a productive one for Angel, as she learned two new tricks, 'Bang' and 'Bye-Bye.' She's a little slow to fall on her side for the 'Bang' trick, but she isn't exactly a puppy anymore. The groundhog felt the need to tease Angel a few times this week by hanging out on the other side of the fence, so I used this as an opportunity to work with her. Eventually we were able to walk calmly up to the fence a few times while the groundhog taunted her from about 30 feet away. Considering how driven she is, I think she did great. Angel has also done well with all the other dogs this week. Quite a few times, the puppies will seek attention by barking, and Angel will just look at them before coming to me when called.
It was very nice to be welcomed back by Angel, who loves anyone with a pulse and will lick you to death. We spent a lot of time either walking around outside or hanging out in the cell, where she's found her new favorite place - the top bunk. It's the perfect perch for her, as she can see everything out the window, where her nemesis, the groundhog, roams. While outside, I've been focusing on keeping her attention as we walk. She's always looking out for Mr. Groundhog and wants to go where he tends to be, so I have been redirecting her with 'watch me' and 'touch' as necessary. I've also worked with her on all of her cues, to see if she still knows them... And she does!
This will be my last few days with Angel. She will not be coming home with me, but Angel and her 'new' handler go way back, and I know she’ll be in good hands. Looking back through her journals from the past year, I am definitely guilty of treating her as a human. It’s hard not to. Since she arrived she has been the best friend I have. In an environment where it seems everyone always has an ulterior motive, Angel has never wanted anything other than love, and was always sure to give it in return. I don’t know that you can ask for more from a true friend. While I look forward to keeping tabs on Angel on-line, I know the day will come when she is listed as recently adopted. Yes, she has her quirks, but she is so sweet and personable. I know, given the right situation, she would make a family incredibly happy.
Angel tends to be protective of our cell. This is her domain and she makes it clear to any strangers that try to enter. The other day, little Calvin poked his head in when the door was cracked open. The dog gate was closed, but he still had a clear view into the room. Normally, Angel would have gone ballistic, getting right up against the gate and letting the other dog know to get lost! As I saw this scenario unfolding, I quickly hopped right out of bed, expecting to have to break up a scuffle. But much to my surprise, Angel was completely calm and welcoming. They sniffed each other through the gate, and Angel started to bow and wiggle like she wanted to play. I gave each of them a cookie before Calvin went on his way. Angel never even showed a hint of aggression. It’s a common joke around here that Angel may be in need of a coming-out party. When you watch her reaction to all the female staff members, it’s easy to see where this idea comes from. But after watching her with Calvin, maybe she also has a thing for younger men.
No matter where she goes, Angel gets comments on how pretty she is. She sits with her legs kicked out to the side, bats her two-toned eyelashes, and hearts begin to melt. After spending more time around her, people begin to notice just how many expressions she has, and how adept she is at playing to the crowd. Nearly every day stars with Angel giving me the 'look of contempt,' as I rouse her from bed for a bathroom break. As soon as we are back inside she goes right for her bed and is back to sleep in seconds. Thirty or forty minutes later she gets up on her own terms! Then she'll climb up next to me and give me the 'let's make up' look. She knows she's a grumpy morning grunt and is ready to make amends... which really means she is ready to allow me to scratch her belly. Yes, she knows how to work it and she has me wrapped around her pretty white paw! Throughout the rest of the day, Angel has another five or six distinct expressions. There is one that is far and away my favorite. When she gets bored or tired of an environment, she will lie down, head on paws, and assume her 'resting bitch face.' It's not a look of aggression, just her way of saying, 'I'm getting too old for this crap!' At this time, I know it's time to take her back to her cell so she can nap and recharge her batteries. I really do serve at the pleasure of Queen Angel.
Another new dog was added to our crew this week. Based on past experiences, I expected Angel to have some reservations about the newcomer. Much to my surprise, her reaction was the exact opposite! The new guy, Calvin, is a young pup. He is on the smaller side at only 22 pounds, so I was even more cautious of Angel reacting in a not-so-kind way. I mean, she’s fine as long as dogs keep their distance, but get too close and she can be a grumpus. It was a little worrisome right at first, since he’s well below her weight class and she charged right up to him, and I braced myself for pulling her back. Instead, she just wanted to sniff him… and couldn’t stop! Once she had inspected every nook and cranny, she stood right next to him and gently rubbed against his head and flank. It was kind of awkward. Whether it’s his small stature or mellow demeanor, there is something about Calvin that Angel is really into. Now, every time she sees him, she wants nothing more than to go and greet her new buddy. I’m starting to think this may fall into ‘cougar’ territory.
Angel's relationship with other HOPE dogs has been a bit strained at times. She doesn't like to share attention, and can get a little moody if she has to. However, she has done much better with the smaller dogs that have come through. Our latest addition, Stewie, is a young puppy, and at least for another week or two is smaller than Angel. At her first sight of him she was extremely curious. Her tail was wagging with excitement, but she approached with caution. As we got closer, Stewie let out a playful bark and started to jump round, ready to rough house. Angel just about had a heart attack and went right into defense mode. I immediately separated the dogs, and figured that he would be just another dog to keep Angel away from. Yet, as Stewie has been here longer, Angel's interest has not waned. She keeps working closer and closer to him in the yard, getting on her belly and crawling when necessary. We are now at the point where they can sniff each other for a few moments and there are no issues. She is far from cuddling and preening him like her own pup, but she does seem to have an inkling of motherly interest in him. Everyone loves Stewie!
Spring has finally arrived, and Angel’s nemesis has returned. That pesky groundhog showed his face for the first time in months. Ecstatic doesn’t begin to describe Angel’s excitement! She was quivering with joy! As soon as we stepped outside, she was on full alert. There must have been eau de groundhog in the air, because Angel made a beeline for the drainage tube our groundhog friend uses to sneak around. After a thorough inspection, she decided he wasn’t there, and continued to search the perimeter. After a few minutes, Angel sensed movement on the other side of the fence. Her tail and ears shot up, and her body went rigid. Just one bark was enough to scare the daylights out of him. He immediately scurried back through the drain to his home. That little fellow probably spent all winter hoping Angel would be adopted. Then the first day he ventures out into the sunlight, she is right there waiting for him. Rumor has it he will sponsor Angel’s adoption fee if someone will just get her out of here! This week Angel earns her gold star for tolerating some unusually loud noises. I had some of the other trainers stand outside our door and knock. While she has an initial reaction, she followed re-direction immediately.
To put it bluntly, Angel is a slug in the morning. Just getting her out of bed to go potty is a chore. Most times when I try to wake her, she just gives me the side eye ‘glare of death.’ You can see her thinking, ‘Why on earth are we up at this ungodly hour?’ Eventually she gives in and slowly makes her way to the door. Recently there has been an incredible number of birds in our back yard during the early morning. Not just a handful of them, we’re talking about more than I can even begin to count. At the sight of all those pests Angel snaps out of Rip VanWinkle mode and immediately summons her inner predator. Since it’s a contained area, I just drop the leash and let her do her thing. As she takes pursuit, the birds all begin to fly away in one big, black mass. Angel darts this way and that, completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of them. This whole ordeal puts her in a much better mood. She may still resent my waking her up, but I know she loves her early morning bird chase. Angel met the new dog, Biscuit, and was welcoming. We also continued working with her on taking treats in the presence of another dog without being reactive. She is doing well at about an arm’s length away.
Angel was starting to smell a little funky, so I decided to scrub her down this week. She is never excited about a bath, but normally takes it in stride. This time, she threw me a curve ball, like she knows it's spring training or something. During the winter months, we bathe the dogs in an oversized mop closet. There is a rigid pipe we use to tie the leash to, and a handheld sprayer to wet them down. Intermittently during the process, you have to stop and squeegee the standing water into the drain, otherwise it will run out onto the tier.As I turned to grab the squeegee, Angel somehow slipped out of her collar and tried to make a break for it. I managed to slide in front of her and bear hug her, just as she was going through the doorway. The water and shampoo made this quite difficult, like wrestling a greased pig. I was able to get her collar back on her, a little tighter this time, and finish washing her. She didn't make any more attempts to escape, but next time I'll know I have to up my game.
Angel likes to think she’s a lap dog. She may not be huge, but she was definitely not created to carry around. This does not seem to concern her. She is happiest any time she can settle her butt right on top of you. Given the tight quarters in our cell, our desk is positioned right next to the bed. When I sit at the desk, Angel will often climb onto the bed and try to slide over into my lap. There is never any room for her there, but she gives it her best shot every time. The spot on the bed gives her the added benefit of letting her look out the window, something she is normally too low to do. Angel caught me off-guard the other day, when she climbed up and started to bark and claw at the window. There were probably a dozen black birds perched on the fence right outside. She immediately went into predator mode, and was dead set on getting those birds! So I took her out front and let her do her thing. Once they were 'removed' from the fence, she came right back in and lay down for a nap. She seemed much more at ease now that her view was not obstructed. This week Angel worked on taking treats while sitting with other dogs. We worked with Thorne and Trevor. She does fine if they at around eight feet away, but can be reactive if they get too close.
I rarely ever lock Angel in her crate. She is never destructive and prefers her perch on the end of my bed. It puts her at just the right height to see what’s going on through the door window. The majority of the time, the door is locked shut, so even if she wanted to, escape is not an option. Every once in a while the door will be opened by mistake, but her crate blocks the door, so this has never been an issue. This week, not only was the door popped open by mistake, but one of her favorite staff members just happened to be on the block at the same time. Of course, Angel couldn’t resist saying hello. She was able to slide past her crate and use her muzzle to open the door, just wide enough. With the security system breached, she made a break for it. Not to the front door, but to her buddy on the block. After some belly rubs and kisses, Angel happily returned to her cell. She had no desire to go anywhere else but straight to see her friend and say hello. Angel has worked with Thorne this week on sitting for treats and not resource guarding the attention of humans. She’s a love hog, but that doesn’t always work well with other dogs. We have also been working on barking at loud noises and she continues to improve, showing minimal reaction and being rewarded for her appropriate responses.
Angel tends to prefer female staff members, though she is receptive of pretty much everyone. It’s normal, at the sight of a friend, for her to stop in her tracks and not move an inch until she has said 'Hello.' One of the guards who tends to be here at night has a habit of carrying snacks for the dogs in his pocket, beef jerky snacks! Naturally this causes all our dogs to perk up at the sight of him! Angel’s feelings seem to be even stronger. During one of our late night bathroom breaks it was extremely foggy. After doing her business, Angel kept staring into the fog, resisting going inside. Her ears and tail were both at full alert. We were the last ones left and I tried luring her back in. But before I could do so, her new beau emerged from the fog and she broke into her happy dance. She must’ve smelled jerky coming her way! Angel reveled in having him all to herself, and especially enjoyed the extra snack or two. She then happily called it a night, and climbed into bed with a full belly. This week we worked on Angel not reacting to strange, loud noises. To do this, some of the other handlers would come knock on our door while out of sight and call her name. She did really well and quickly learned she would get rewarded for not responding.
Angel is not always happy when I first put on her jacket. She enjoys the added warmth once we get going, but the initial itchiness and restriction is not her favorite. She has a habit of flopping onto her back and wriggling in an attempt to scratch just the right spot. It’s always an exaggerated flop, almost like a failed somersault. She will writhe around for a minute or two, then pop back up and continue on her way. Recently we had some light snow and freezing rain. This combined to form a thick crust on the ground. Angel doesn’t weigh enough to break through, and struggled to walk on it. She had even more difficulty when she went in for the back scratch. Immediately after the flop, Angel began to slide down the incline. She tried scrambling to get back up, but just kept slipping and sliding. She tried a good three or four times, before finally hitting a soft spot and creating a divot to hold her still. This worked out just right and once her itch was satisfied, she popped up and continued on, but not for too long, because her nice warm bed was waiting inside for her. Angel gets a gold star this week for her calm demeanor during the ruckus while the Super Bowl was on. Goals Angel can work on are not pulling towards individuals she wants to greet and not barking at strange noises.
We were subject to another extended lockdown this week. Besides a handful of bathroom breaks throughout the day, the dogs were confined to the cell with us. Some dogs struggle with the lack of stimulus and exercise. Angel took the entire process in stride. For over three days, Angel sat right by my side. As long as I was there to rub her belly, and she had her piggy, she was perfectly content. It was almost as if she went into hibernation mode. Not once did she get antsy or start pacing, crying, etc. She was simply ‘angelic.’ Once the lockdown ended, she was definitely happy to stretch her legs. I let her loose to run, and she did a few more laps than normal, but after that she was back to her normal, mellow self. Lockdowns are hard to begin with, and even harder if you have a dog ‘climbing the walls.’ If anything, Angel made the process even easier.
Angel got her monthly bath this weekend. As usual she was less than thrilled with the water, but loved being dried off with a towel. Normally, I would wait another month or so to bathe her again; Angel had different plans. You see, Sunday was a beautiful, warm day, especially for this time of year. It was pretty muddy from the snowmelt, but Angel seemed excited to be outdoors. When she gets excited and has been cooped up for a couple of days, she loves to sprint in big circles. In consideration of my equilibrium, I normally just drop the leash and let her blow off some steam. When she’s done she comes back right away, considerably more mellow. This time she did her regular four or five laps, but once she finished, she proceeded to flop right on her back and roll around in the fresh mud. If you threw her in a pig sty, she would have blended right in. I admitted defeat, leashed her up, and continued to walk my pet piggy around the yard. Once she had enough, I hosed her down once again. Hopefully her enjoyment playing in the dirt outweighed her contempt for another bath. This week Angel has become proficient with balancing treats on her head and following the ‘wait’ command.
Angel is normally not much of a chewer. She tends to be very gentle with her toys, preferring to preen them in a motherly manner. At times they may develop a small hole or a popped seam, but for the most part they stay in one piece. The other night I returned from the gym to find what looked like a blizzard in my cell. There was stuffing everywhere! Angel was standing right in the middle of it with a stuffed porcupine in her mouth and white cotton balls stuck to her face. She must not have expected me home so soon because I caught her red-handed! Now some people may have been upset to find such a mess, but Angel looked to be enjoying it so much that I couldn’t help smiling. You could tell that it didn’t even occur to her that she was in the wrong! In her mind, she had done something to be proud of. What got into her, I have no idea! Luckily it’s a small space, so clean-up was no real chore. It was the first time she’s chewed up a toy in close to a year. I think it may have been the full moon!?
Angel gets a gold star this week for mastering ‘sit-stay’ near traffic at the front door.
It has just been too cold for Angel to spend much time outside. This has left us spending a lot of time just hanging out indoors. While Angel is well-practiced at couch surfing, I still had to find ways of keeping her entertained. Angel and I regularly watch ‘Dogs 101’ together in the morning. Over the weekend they played a marathon so the two of us settled in for a little binge watching. One of the clips they showed was a golden retriever balancing treats on its muzzle, then flipping them up and catching them on command. He made it look so easy; I figured Angel must be able to do it. We started with a little ‘watch me,’ just to get her focused. Once she was in the zone, I began placing cookies on the flat space between her eyes. At first, I had to hold the underside of her muzzle, but as I gradually lessened the pressure she started to get the concept. Putting the treat up high on her head is key. Too low and it’s right in her line of sight and she just can’t resist eating it immediately. The flip and catch proved to be a little more difficult. Right now we are stuck on just dropping it to the floor and eating it. But with Angel’s catching skills, I have faith she will get there.
As I’ve talked about before, Angel doesn’t exactly love the snow; she tolerates it. It offers mild entertainment at first, but soon loses its allure.This weekend was one of our first snowfalls, of only a few inches. Not only was there more of it, but it was a nice, light powdery snow. She spent a few minutes sniffing and running about but when it came time to do her business she quickly became irritated. Every time Angel goes #2, it's in the same exact spot. Her poop spot covers about three square feet and she never misses! Unfortunately for her, this area is on a slight slope. Combine that with the increased height of the snow and you can probably start to see what agitated her. As Angel would start to squat down, first the cold powder would hit her right in the sweet spot. She would pop up in surprise and then begin to slide down the hill. Eventually I kicked away most of the snow and that seemed to help. But there was still the slick, frozen ground to contend with. Somehow she managed to plant her feet long enough to accomplish the task at hand. Needless to say, after that she was done with the snow! It went back to being nothing but a nuisance. Angel gets a gold star this week for her muzzle rest in my palm skill!
Angel may have had the most enjoyable Christmas of anyone here. It’s normal for her to get a few scraps after most meals, but this time she had a regular holiday feast. Roast beef is our usual Christmas meal. It is never exactly tender, but it is normally edible. This year must have been a new supplier because it was not only tough but grizzly too. This meat still had marks where the jockey was hitting it! Not willing to test my stomach or my jaw, I brought the whole thing back for Angel. She devoured it with no hesitancy. Just as I gave her the last piece, there was a knock at the door. Someone else brought back their roast beef as well. By the end of the day, she probably ate another portion and a half on top of the previous two. On a regular day she would never consume that much human food, but since it would have been thrown out, I figured why not let her splurge.
It is rare that Angel gets excited about a toy. She adores her stuffed pig, but otherwise there is not much she will play with. Even if she shows some initial interest in an object, it never lasts but for a second. One of the other HOPE handlers was cleaning up his cell and came across a ball that lights up bright red when bounced. Angel’s indifference to toys is well known so he brought it over to see if maybe he could spark her interest. We turned off the lights and bounced the ball against the back wall. It ricocheted around the room, casting a bright red glow wherever it went. Angel charged out of her cage to confront this unknown intruder. She got within a few inches and then pounced on it. Right about that time the timer on the light expired and it stopped glowing. Angel immediately lost interest and returned to her throne. Guarding her territory is a worthy cause to get out of bed, but silly games are obviously beneath her.
Angel arrived at Camp Hill at the end of last winter. By then, we were pretty much done with snow for the year. The little that we did get was not to her liking. She had zero interest in anything other than quick excursions to use the bathroom. Even though our snowfall this weekend was minimal, I was expecting the same attitude. Surprisingly, Angel did not seem to mind it. I made sure to bundle her up in her jacket and she seemed to bear the elements fairly well. There wasn’t much running or jumping like some of our other dogs. Angel’s main interest seemed to be all of the new smells or lack thereof. We were out for over an hour and the majority of her time was spent sniffing the yard inch by inch. It was tedious, but she seemed to be enjoying herself. I’ll take Angel’s tolerance of the elements as a positive sign for this winter. We’ll just have to see how things go when we get a substantial snowfall. Hopefully, she doesn’t want to play hermit again.
My nightly routine with Angel rarely ever changes. Around 8:30pm, she climbs into bed and lies on my legs while I read. When I get up to turn off the lights, she makes her way to her crate and curls up. At some point in the night, she comes back to my bed and climbs underneath the blankets. Pretty much every night is the same. Normally when Angel climbs under the covers, she crawls to the foot of the bed and rests against the back of my legs. My lower half must not be generating enough heat for her because now she is determined to curl up against my torso. The problem is, I sleep facing the wall and she cannot fit in that space. Her solution is to keep nudging me in the back until I roll over. Once I do, she is right there in my face as if to say, 'Excuse me, what took you so long?' She then hops into bed and happily assumes the 'little spoon' position. It’s definitely not my preferred side to sleep on, but Angel is the Queen Bee around here and almost always gets her way.
The routine here rarely ever changes and Angel knows it by heart. She knows when it’s Wednesday and our trainers will be here. She knows when it’s Friday and she gets to visit her friends on other blocks. And she definitely knows when it’s egg day in the chow hall. Five days out of the week you have to drag Angel from her bed in the morning. She is a slug. But on the two days that I bring her back hard boiled eggs, she is up and waiting for me by the door. Recently, they switched from real eggs to these awful pre-made egg patties. All of the humans complained right away, but I figured she is a dog and won’t care. I was wrong.
When I pulled it from my pocket and tried to feed her a piece, she sniffed it, hesitated, then shot me a look of absolute disgust. I ripped it up and put it in her bowl thinking she would eat it eventually. But Angel was not going to give in; it sat there all day until I threw it away. I told her to file a grievance. Her opinion is bound to carry more weight than mine around here.
Typically, Angel only has two speeds. 100 miles an hour or passed out cold. Lately, she has been experiencing a combination of the two. If there is one thing Angel knows how to do, it’s sleep. We are talking about dead to the world near comatose sleep. Often, if you didn’t know she was buried under a pile of blankets, you wouldn’t even know there was a dog in the cell. But for some reason, her sleep has been extremely animated the past few days. A few low barks or growls during a nap are not unusual for Angel. But lately she has been kicking her legs nonstop as if chasing after something or twitching and rolling as if playing with another dog. One night I woke up to 'clink, clink, clink' over and over. When I looked down at Angel, she was sprawled out with her tail wagging like crazy. It was raking against the bars of her cage and she was completely oblivious. They must be some sweet puppy dreams.
Angel was lucky enough to have someone donate a new winter coat for her. With the recent cold spell, she has been putting it to good use. It has brought out a whole new side of her. When you first strap on Angel’s coat, she does not seem happy about it at all. Her ears go back and her tail tucks under. I would describe the look as half embarrassment and half disgust. But once she steps out the front door, it’s as if a switch has flipped. Her entire mood changes for the better. Angel putting on her jacket is like Superman changing into his cape and tights. She takes on the personality of a dog half her age. She will jump and play and run in circles at a full sprint. It catches everyone by surprise. While she is definitely playful at times, nothing comes close to this level of energy. She becomes a true wild woman. I guess there really is something to the powers of compression. Maybe we can get her on a copper fit commercial.
When left alone, Angel has never been destructive. She doesn’t chew on shoes, tear blankets, or damage anything. She does have a habit of rearranging things for her comfort. Frequently, Angel will pull all of the blankets from her cage and make a comfy bed in the middle of the floor. Other times, she will bury underneath the bed sheets and curl up in her own little cocoon. This week I came back to find her in the funniest position yet. Angel took the pillows and pushed them into the corner against the wall. She then rolled back so she was sitting propped up against them with her legs straight out in front. The TV was on and the remote was sitting suspiciously close to her. The only things missing from this picture were a cold beer and a bowl of chips resting on her belly.
In the past, Angel would regularly make her nightly rounds. She would go to various cells and shake them down for cookies or other treats. Now that the day room has replaced the night yard, her routine has been streamlined. Angel no longer has to seek out people to feed her and scratch her belly. Now she simply assumes her post outside of our cell and a constant stream of visitors stop by to pay their respects. As soon as she becomes bored with one person, there is another waiting in the wings to entertain her further. Her sweet face and playful nature attract people that have never met her before to stop and shower her with affection. After an hour or so of this, she has had her fill and goes right to her cage to pass out. A full belly and all that play seems to be the perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep.
Every night around 8:30pm our dogs go out for their final bathroom break. Occasionally, another handler will take Angel out if I’m late getting back from the gym. She knows the routine and it’s normally a very easy process. At least most of the time it is. One night this week, she caught the scent of an animal and lost all focus. The handler thought she was just sniffing out the perfect place to pee, but before he realized what was happening, she dove head first into the flower bed that edges our building. Dirt started flying through the air as she tried to capture one of the voles that tunnel through that area. When Angel’s prey drive kicks in, it pushes every other thought from her mind. Eventually, he was able to drag her out and get her to forget about the hunt. When he returned her to our cell, her face, chest, and paws were covered in loose dirt. I scrubbed her down with a wet towel and she didn’t seem to mind at all. She was still in ecstasy over her hunt. If she could spend every day tracking prey, she would be the happiest dog around.
Angel has a strange affinity for goose poop. She searches it out wherever we go and tries with all her might to get to it. With all the geese on the property this time of year, it has been a real battle. Recently, Angel had a chance to walk down the back road where we rarely ever go. Because of its lack of foot traffic, it is a regular hangout for the geese. I knew we were in trouble the moment we got there. It was goose landmines as far as the eye could see. Normally, Angel is very good with the ”leave it” command, but we were surrounded by poop on every side. She just could not control herself. Halfway down the road I gave up and picked her up by the harness. Usually I would grab her in a bear hug, but she had rolled in so much poop that she was as green as the Incredible Hulk. Why she likes goose poop so much, I will never understand. But we will definitely be avoiding that road in the future.
Angel had a rough couple of days. She managed to get stung by multiple bees over the course of the weekend. Each time was unintentional, but that did not make it sting any less. Normally, Angel pays no attention to the bees. The weeds in our yard tend to attract a fair amount of them. Some of our dogs try to eat them. Others will chase them. Angel barely knows they are there. Why pay attention to a bee when there are groundhogs to deal with? Somehow Angel was able to accidentally step on a bee not once but four separate times. We were going for our normal walk and out of nowhere she would yelp and jump up in fright. Luckily she did not have an allergic reaction. After licking the wounded paw for awhile, the pain subsided and we were able to keep moving. Now she is hypervigilant at the sight of a bee and is constantly zigzagging through the yard to avoid them. It may have been an accident before, but she seems determined to not get stung again.
Angel does not play fetch. There is no simpler way to put it. She may show occasional interest in a ball. But as soon as it is thrown, she forgets all about it. Often she will give me a curious glance, as if to say, 'What did you have to do that for?' Her usual lack of interest in chasing a ball makes her behavior this weekend even more strange. While I was cleaning up, I accidentally knocked a racquetball off the top of her crate. As it bounced off the floor, Angel leapt from her perch on my bed and tried to trap it. Eventually, she cornered it under the bed and came out happily holding it in her mouth. I took the ball back from her and bounced it off the wall. Once again, she took off in pursuit and trapped the bouncing ball in the corner. I started to think she might be coming around to this whole fetch thing. With this new behavior, I thought a game of fetch might finally be in the cards. That afternoon I brought the ball outside with us, let her loose, and chucked it down the yard. As per usual, she just stood there staring at me. There is no way she was going to chase the ball.
Around here, I can't think of anyone who is not a fan of Angel. Everywhere we go, there's always someone looking to pet her and say hello. She absolutely loves it and knows how to work the crowd like a pro. If given the chance, Angel will try and approach pretty much everyone she sees. If it is one of her favorite friends, she will throw on the brakes and plant her butt until she gets to greet them. This weekend, as we were walking past the shower stalls, her biggest admirer called out her name. Now normally Angel avoids water at all costs, but it was not going to deter her this time. She shot right over to the shower and tried to climb under the stall door. The showers are far from spacious so she was only able to get her head and one front leg in before realizing she wouldn't fit. Her friend gave her ears a quick scratch and then shoo'd her away. Angel came out with her head dripping wet but could not have cared less. She was just happy she got to greet her buddy.
Like most dogs, Angel loves to eat. Nothing makes her happier than a friend stopping by to give her a treat. She gets hotdogs, hamburgers, sausages… the list goes on and on. But peanut butter is by far her favorite food. As soon as I open a jar of peanut butter, Angel will magically appear at my side. She can be in a near coma, but that smell wakes her up in an instant. It comes in handy at times when I have to give her medication. Just stick whatever it is in a glob of peanut butter and down the hatch it goes. No fuss at all. One of Angel's favorite things is a near empty jar of peanut butter. Normally, I throw it in her crate and let her go to town. I've seen some dogs chew off the top of the jar to get at the bottom. But not Angel. She grasps the jar ever so gently between her paws and sticks her tongue out farther than you would think is possible. When she is done with it, the jar is so clean you would never know it held anything. She then makes sure to lick off anything that might have stuck to her paws or face. There's no way she will let any peanut butter go to waste.
Every Friday we take Angel and some of the other dogs around the compound for some canine therapy. Angel gets so excited for these trips and loves all of the attention that she receives. She charges right out the front door and leads the pack as we head to our destination. Angel's go-to move is to climb up onto the picnic tables and get right at eye level with whomever she is visiting. This is the perfect position for her to ambush them with kisses. Given the opportunity, she will lick every square inch of their face. Nothing makes her happier. Recently, we visited an area that had no tables for her to climb onto. Not one to be discouraged, Angel vaulted up onto a ping pong table in one athletic leap. It caught me entirely off guard. I didn't think she had a chance of making it up that high. Not only is Angel incredibly affectionate and personable, but there is still a lot of puppy left in her.
I have mentioned before that if you drop Angel's leash she will pick it up and carry it herself. Normally, she will grab it and take off at a trot. To her it's a very entertaining game. Today she did the same behavior but with a slight twist. Tango is one of Angel's regular walking partners. They are very comfortable with each other and have no issues walking side-by-side. While we were taking our regular afternoon walk, Tango's handler accidentally let his leash fall to the ground. Without skipping a beat, Angel grabbed the loose end and began trying to lead Tango. He wasn't quite sure what to make of the situation and started to run in circles around her. They only made it a few feet before getting all tangled up. Luckily they are friends and it did not escalate to a scuffle. With a little more practice they could probably walk each other. Realistic? Not really. But it's good to set lofty goals. It's a skill that could come in handy once the winter weather rolls in.
One of the skills that we emphasize with our dogs is the ability to back up. Whether to get access to a toy in front of the dog or to create space when they are crowding you, it can be very useful. Angel fully understands this command but has some difficulties executing it properly. The goal is to have the dog take three or four steps backward in a straight line. Angel prefers an awkward reverse bunny hop that veers off to the left until she has done a full U-turn. She looks like a newly licensed driver trying to back up a truck. If it were possible for her to jackknife, it would happen regularly. We recently learned a new technique to teach this skill and Angel and I have been practicing periodically. I create a tight alley between a row of boxes and the wall. The limited space is supposed to force them into a straight line. For some reason, Angel keeps ending up with her butt sitting on top of the boxes. We still have plenty of work to do on this one.
Angel's favorite toy is a bright pink stuffed pig. She has other toys that she will play with occasionally, but Mr. Piggy gets the majority of her attention. It's always lying nearby, often right between her paws, as she grooms him. Recently, Angel received a new toy pig. This one is also bright pink but made of soft rubber and makes a loud oink/grunt when you squeeze it. Her current pig has seen better days and I had hoped to swap the old for new. Angel's reaction to the newcomer was not what I had expected. When I first presented it to her, she was curious but wary. She sniffed it and eyed it suspiciously, unsure exactly what it was. I gave it a squeeze and she just about had a heart attack. She jumped back in fright and her eyes were as big as the moon. I tried putting it in her crate to see if she would come around, but she just pushed it into the corner and stayed on the opposite side. Looks like the original Mr. Piggy is here to stay for a while.
Angel has very little tolerance for cold temperatures. On a brisk winter day, she wants nothing more than to curl up and stay warm. When the temperature really dips, she often spends the night underneath my covers cuddled against me for warmth. Lately, we have had a few cool days compared to just a week or two ago. Since our A/C is still running full blast it has led to some chilly days indoors. This weekend I came back to the cell and found Angel on my bed, shivering. I sat down and pulled her close to try and warm her up, but it did little good. She looked so sad. I had to do something. The cure for her chill was to take a blanket and swaddle her like a baby. After I wrapped her up like a burrito, she was as happy as a clam. She spent the majority of the day in that exact position. When we came in from the yard, she sat in the same exact spot and waited for me to wrap her up. Angel may be a diva at times, but she is absolutely worth the extra effort.
Angel has never exactly been a fan of getting wet. Snow and rain are of absolutely no use to her. Bath time is tolerated, but the look on her face tells you just how annoyed she is with the whole process. Given this history, it was no surprise that she had zero interest in swimming in our new kiddie pool. I had hoped that, given the heat, I might be able to coax her into taking a dip. But under no circumstance was she going in voluntarily. I tried everything from food to toys, but she just stared at me like I was nuts. I decided that picking her up and putting her down in the water might show her what she was missing out on. As I held her over the pool, she resembled a cat trying to stay out of the bathtub. All four legs completely stretched out and locked onto the sides of the pool. Ultimately, I had to give in and admit it was not going to happen. Some dogs are born swimmers. Angel is not one of those dogs.
Since her arrival, the only other dog that Angel has shown any comfort with is Trevor. They play regularly and seem to enjoy each others' company. The rest of the dogs fall into one of two categories, either mild tolerance or downright hatred. Surprisingly, Angel has shown extreme interest in our newest dog, Tango. It started out with some curious sniffing. From there, she began to gently graze against him as they walk side-by-side in the yard. Eventually, Angel seemed to determine that he was alright and started to initiate play. She bows her head and stretches out, then pounces forward trying to get him to join her. Unfortunately, he's still pretty skittish and isn't quite sure how to respond. Tango runs around for a short time, but then stalls and doesn't know how to proceed. There is still no doubt that Angel needs to be in a one dog home. But showing this behavior with a dog other than Trevor is a positive sign. Hopefully, as Tango acclimates he will start to loosen up a bit.
Whenever I leave Angel alone for an extended period of time, I make sure to leave some music on. It seems to entertain her and blocks out some of the random noises that occur on the tier. She loves old country music and some good classic rock. She has good taste. Occasionally, if I'm in a rush, I'll forget to change the channel and leave on whatever program I had been watching. Depending on what is on, I sometimes come back to find Angel lying in my bed staring at the screen. She has no time for the news (smart dog), but seems to enjoy comedies and nature shows. This week I have intentionally been leaving on Shark Week. Angel has been glued to the screen. She ruffles up the bedding to get comfortable and will even pull over my pillow and rest her head on it. Apparently she has caught onto the fad of binge watching.
For the most part, our HOPE dogs live a pretty comfortable life during their stay. Attention is heaped upon them and time spent outside is definitely greater than the average dog. While they may be sleeping in a jail cell, there is never a shortage of fluffy blankets and toys to play with. For many of them, this is probably the most loving home they've ever known. Unfortunately, there are occasions when the true nature of this facility does impact them. For the last few days we have been in a full lock down. For our canine friends, this means no daily walks, no attention from friends, and a bare minimum of opportunities to go potty. It is an unfortunate situation that is out of the handler's control. Some of the dogs handle these situations better than others. Angel is the best that I have encountered so far. Not once did she show a single sign of struggling or whining about not going out for walks. The majority of her time was spent curled up at my side with her head on my stomach. We played a few games now and then and I was very generous with the treats. While some dogs would have been pacing with a tankful of energy, Angel was just happy to be spending time with a friend.
Angel finally had a chance to go down to the big yard and run around. Any time she leaves our normal area, she gets extremely animated. This time was no exception. As I was packing up a few of her toys, she could tell something different was going on and would not stop pacing. When we got to the yard, I let her loose, not knowing how she would react to freedom in that much space. She took off like a rocket and ran in a large circle for a good five or six laps. Once she blew off that initial energy surge, she became completely zoned in on all of the new smells. For the next hour, she spent the majority of her time trying to sniff every blade of grass on that field. One thing we need to work on is keeping her from constantly rolling around in goose poop. By the time we left, her coat was as green as the grass under her paws. There were no actual geese to chase, but she still seemed to enjoy her field trip.
It's a common stereotype that dogs hate the mailman. The image of a dog biting the mailman's butt while he attempts to flee has been used countless times. Once again, Angel defies what you would call normal behavior. She has developed a huge crush on our mail lady. Lately, I have been around in the mornings, so Angel has been going out when she would typically still be asleep. As we head outside, the mail lady is normally making her rounds. Angel goes from half asleep to total excitement in the blink of an eye. She immediately pins herself to the ground and refuses to move an inch until she gets to say hello. The woman gets just as excited to see Angel and the two share a nice moment each morning. We'll be back to the normal schedule soon and I get the feeling they will both miss their morning rendezvous. Angel gets excited to see most people, but this individual is definitely among her favorites.
For the past few months, our resident groundhog has been staying out of sight. Occasionally, Angel will hit on his scent, but for the most part he has been M.I.A. During this past week, he has suddenly become a regular sight again and Angel is beside herself. She may not be a fan of the heat, but lately she charges right outside, hoping to have a shot at her nemesis. There is a large drain pipe that he uses to travel under the fences. Angel sticks her head in as far as possible, hoping to come face-to-face with him. Eventually, she admits she won't fit and moves on. To play with her, I like to throw stones down the pipe when she isn't looking. The clanking snaps her to attention and she scurries right over, thinking her luck might have changed. Most of the time, the groundhog can be found sunbathing on the sewer drain grate on the opposite side of our fence. Angel gets right up against the fence, her body pointed and stiff, and stares longingly at him. Luckily for him, the fence is there. I do not think it would end well for Mr. Groundhog if it weren't.
Every dog has their sweet spot - that area where every time you scratch or rub it they get a little crazy. For Angel, it was clear from the start that she loved to have her butt scratched right on top of the base of her tail. Her whole body dances with excitement, which is always good for a laugh. Recently, I discovered a second spot that she loves just as much. Every night, Angel will lie between my legs and watch me read. I always reach down and scratch her head intermittently. The other night, without thinking about it, I started to rub the front of her left ear almost where her temple would be. As soon as I started, she began to lean her head into the pressure. Her eyes rolled back and her lids closed halfway as I continued to rub. It must be some sort of pressure point because every time she melts like butter on a hot skillet. She will even go to the extent as to nudge my hand away from my book if I stop for too long. It's hard to say no to a dog with such a cute face.
Playing fetch with Angel is usually a short-lived affair. At most, she will chase down the ball three or four times before losing interest. While we were outside in the yard, I came across a frisbee that had been left in the grass. On a whim, I dangled it in front of Angel and tossed it across the yard. Immediately, she took off in hot pursuit. She brought the disc right back but was reluctant to give it up. But once I pried it loose, she took off again before I could even throw it. This time she went as far as trying to jump and pluck it out of the air. Her timing was way off, but it did not seem to lessen her enthusiasm. It became pretty clear this was a game she could get into. After a while she began to tire, but she lost no interest in the frisbee. Her energy exhausted, she spent the rest of our time outside lounging in the grass gently holding the frisbee in her mouth.
Geese are a common sight inside this facility. Normally, they stay in areas that the dogs do not frequent. Angel often stares at them in the distance and you can see in her face how badly she wants to chase them. This week she almost got her chance. As we rounded the corner to our yard, Angel found herself within 20 yards of two enormous geese. Her body went rigid, her tail went straight, and you could feel her growl vibrate through the taut leash. As Angel barked and puffed out her chest, the geese began to realize their mistake. Fortunately for them, this was not the time nor place to let Angel loose. Eventually, they backed up and found enough space to take off and clear the fence. Angel was visibly upset that she missed out on a golden opportunity and continued to stare wistfully at the other geese off in the distance. In the next few days, I am going to take her down to the baseball diamond where chasing geese away is encouraged. I can't wait to see how she reacts once she can run free and chase them without repercussions.
Angel spends very little time with the other dogs. She likes her personal space and gets uncomfortable if they get too close. While she is not looking for confrontation, she makes it very clear when other dogs are crowding her. However, none of this applies with Trevor. He is the one dog that she is always looking to interact with. As soon as he comes into sight, she bows her head and sticks her rear into the air, getting in a good stretch before play begins. They always approach each other with great enthusiasm and play in a very animated fashion. This carries on for a while and then she will randomly freeze right where she is standing. Trevor will cock his head in confusion and try to goad her into further play, but Angel just stares into the distance and doesn't move a muscle. All of a sudden she will rush right at him and continue to play as if nothing ever happened. I don't know if she is contemplating her next move to pull on him or just catching a quick rest. It definitely makes watching them play very interesting. It may only be one of the six other dogs, but it gives a glimmer of hope that she may be able to have a playmate once she finds her forever home.
Angel has developed quite the following among both inmates and staff members. Most refer to her as 'wiggle-butt,' a name she has more than earned. She responds to it right away and dances over so they can show her some love. Every night after her evening walk, Angel makes her rounds on the tier. She knows exactly which cells to go to in order to get the best treats. She even remembers where each person keeps their food and will go sit right next to it. Recently, one of her favorite friends was released. While making her way around the block, she barged right into his former cell and was thoroughly confused as to why there was a stranger in his bed. Now every time we walk by that area, she looks with expectation, hoping that he will show up again. Luckily, there are plenty of others to spoil her. She will never be starved for attention during her stay here.
It is no secret that Angel loves people. But for some reason, she gets most excited to see women. Given that they are a minority in this environment, her interactions with them are limited. Recently, a female staff member came to visit another one of the HOPE dogs. At the sight of this individual, Angel started to dance with joy. However, she was busy, so I lured Angel away and we went outside. But Angel had only one thing on her mind - getting to say hello to that woman. Once we were back in sight of the front door, she plopped down and refused to move an inch. As she saw the staff member coming outside, she began her happy dance again. She tried to sit and wait to greet her, but her butt was wagging at such a pace that sitting just wasn't possible. So she lay on her belly, all stretched out, and nearly did the worm. After some nice puppy rubs from this individual, Angel was content and we were able to resume our walk. It was slightly frustrating at first, but I can't help thinking how nice it would be to come home to a greeting like that every day.
As my trust in Angel has grown, she has been given more freedom in the cell. Initially, I would crate her anytime that I left. Gradually, I began to leave her alone without crating for 15 or 20 minutes. Now she is at the point where I can leave her for an hour or two without any worry of her being destructive. As long as I leave the radio on and water in her bowl, she is perfectly content. Some days I come back and she is curled up in her crate. Other days, she is lying on my bed with the fan blowing in her face. This week I came back to Angel in an entirely new position. She pulled all of the blankets out of her crate and off of my bed and made one big pile on the floor. The only visible part of Angel was her muzzle protruding from the side. Once she heard my voice, her tail started wagging a mile a minute. If she could speak it would have been, 'look what I made. Isn't it cool?'
Recently, I brought Angel along while I mowed our yard. Initially, I had some reservations not knowing how she would act around the mower. To my pleasure, she was completely unfazed by it. She wandered around within 10 or 15 yards from me and only started to stray once. But with a quick call of her name, she came trotting back and never wandered off again. Angel found great joy in rolling around in piles of grass clippings anytime she could. Being the first cut of the season, there were plenty of them and she made sure to find every one. By the time I was finished, she was covered from head to toe in grass stains and mud. So I got out the hose and gave her a good scrubbing to remove all of the crud. As soon as I placed her in the kennel to air dry, she rolled right onto her back in the first dirty spot she saw. Apparently she prefers to have a little dirt on her.
When Angel arrived here, she brought along a few of her toys. For the most part, they were typical dog toys - a rope toy, a rubber Kong, and a plastic bone. The lone exception was a bright pink stuffed pig. Out of all of her old toys, and even some new ones, this was by far her favorite. As soon as we came back to our room, she would immediately check to make sure the pig was where she left it. Recently, Angel received a stuffed monkey, which has replaced the pig as number one toy. While lounging on her bed, she keeps it right between her paws, sometimes licking it or chewing on it ever so gently. Occasionally, she will stand right in my face holding her monkey, just showing it off. She will even go as far as trying to bring it along when we go outside. Maybe it's a comfort to her, or maybe she sees it as her baby. One thing is for sure, she takes great care of her monkey.
As the days have gotten longer, Angel has been able to spend more time outside in the evening. This suits her well since she is not much of a morning dog. In the AM, she wants nothing more than to go to the bathroom and stretch her legs. Shortly after that, she is ready to climb right back into bed. She becomes much more active in the afternoon, but seems to enjoy the early evening most of all. Since there aren't as many distractions at that time of day, we have been working on walking side-by-side without a leash. As we ease into things, I have been leaving the leash attached and letting her drag it along in case she takes off and I have to chase her down. Angel seems to think this doesn't feel right and insists on carrying the leash herself. She won't chew on it but holds it gently in her mouth as if she were her own handler. Eventually, the leash won't be necessary but for now it's pretty entertaining to watch her walk herself.
Now that spring has finally arrived, it was time to give Angel a bath outside. She showed zero hesitation to the process and remained calm the entire time. Angel was not too keen on getting water on her face, but that was the only aspect she did not seem to enjoy. The drying off process was an entirely different story. I brought Angel into one of our kennel runs and attempted to rub her down with a towel. Angel thought this was a great new game and darted around with lots of enthusiasm. As I held the towel out and tried to get my hands on her, she would charge at the towel and jump at it before quickly darting away again. To a passerby, we must have looked like a Matador and a bull doing battle. The bull was definitely winning. By the time I gave up, the air had done most of the drying and Angel was smiling ear to ear.
I have learned that Angel is prone to random bursts of puppy-like energy. The majority of the time she is a very calm and docile dog. But every once in a while, something comes over her and playtime ensues. This normally lasts for no more than five minutes or so before she tires out and curls up for a nice nap. Her favorite game to play during these times is tug-of-war. Whether it be with a rope toy, stuffed animal, or even an oversized bone, Angel gets great joy out of the battle. She has a great understanding of the 'out' command and can easily be brought to attention if things begin to escalate. It really is the best of both worlds. The fun of a scrappy and playful puppy followed by the calm companionship of a more seasoned and mature dog.
Lately, Angel has been spending more time sleeping in my bed at night. At first, it would only last for a short period of time before she would move on to her crate. But as the days have progressed, she will stay longer and longer. A few nights ago I woke up to Angel sitting on top of me with a somewhat serious stare. I assumed she needed to go outside and started to climb out of bed. But as soon as I lifted up the covers, Angel dove under them like an otter in the surf. She crawled down to the foot of the bed and curled up next to my feet. I guess she just needed a little extra warmth. Now every night at bedtime, she sits next to the bed and waits for me to get comfortable. Then as I lift the covers, she crawls underneath to assume her new spot. The only part of her that's visible is her little wet nose sticking out from the foot of the bed.
Angel has really started to come out of her shell. Every day she shows a little bit more of her true personality. She is playful and affectionate, while also very comfortable spending time alone with no interaction. Unlike the majority of the dogs here, Angel wants absolutely nothing to do with the snow. She takes care of her business and then immediately hightails it back inside. Maybe once the wind dies down and the sun comes out she will want to run around in the snow like the others. But for right now, she is perfectly content curled up inside on a warm blanket.
Angel and I have spent the past few days getting to know one another. She was very shy and reserved when she first arrived, having gone through so many changes in the past few weeks. Initially, the majority of her time was spent in the safe zone of her crate. She would venture out occasionally for a drink of water or a quick sniff around but only for a short period of time. The first two nights I sat on the floor by her crate and gently scratched her back. Angel did not shy away from contact but certainly did not go belly up. Gradually, she began to venture out for greater periods of time. She started to climb up onto the bed but would sit at the opposite end of where I was. On Saturday night, I gave her a special treat of some vanilla ice cream. She devoured it with enthusiasm and afterwards there was a dramatic difference in her attitude towards me. Since then Angel has been much more affectionate and playful. Apparently, ice cream is the key to Angel's heart.