Nicknames: Nelsaroni, Nellow Yellow, Willie Nelson, Nelson Mandela
Age: 3-4 years
Breed: Maybe Australian Shepherd x Lab, but really who knows
Nelson in Two Words: happy-go-lucky, calm
The Awesome Things: Nelson is basically the perfect dog. He’s on the higher side of medium in terms of energy- he’s the kind of guy you can go hiking with in the morning and hang out with on the couch the rest of the day. He is super social (sometimes to a fault- see “Works in Progress”), and has gotten along with every dog he’s met. He’s a great big brother: the only times he’s given a warning to another dog has been for puppy energy that started to get rude, and when another dog used him as a step stool to get to a person. He’s also been wonderful with all of the kids he’s met at adoption events and the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market.
Works in Progress: There are only 2 things I’m working on to make Nelson as perfect as can be: 1) he prefers to poo on upright objects (maybe to get his scent higher?). My solution to this has been to keep him from marking in general. I do this with all of my dogs because a) marking bugs me, and b) it encourages territorial behavior. He now usually uses the grass, and sometimes small bushes.
2) Nelson gets a little excited about seeing people and dogs on walks and in public. He just sincerely wants to meet the world, but unfortunately that’s not practical. The extent of his frustration about not being able to meet was barking and/or crying and pulling on the leash. The first time he cried, I thought his neck might actually hurt, but then I touched him in multiple places all over his body and he cried at all of those too, and the only time he has ever cried is when he’s excited.
This is really a pretty mild “issue.” My personal dog, Galen, used to jump, spin, scream, and bite the leash when he saw another living being or moving gate on a walk. I’m using the strategy with Nelson that got Galen to the point where he looks at people, but maintains a calm mindset. Each time he sees someone he wants to meet I: don’t make a big deal about it, adjust the leash to the very top of his neck if needed, and give a gentle pull straight up if needed to keep him beside me. Once I figured out what worked for him, he immediately started making progress. We haven’t had any crying for 4 or 5 days, and the level of excitement is decreasing steadily.
Photo cred: Danielle D Hale, check out her handmade jewelery benefiting MARC