I’m so excited to introduce you to Bernadette! Bernie, as I call her, is an approximately 10-year-old Jack Russell Terrier cross weighing around 20lbs. She came into the rescue overweight and has worked hard to shed quite a few pounds. She has a long body with a barrel chest and adorably short legs. Her coat is white with brown and black markings and her tail curves sharp to the right. Her eyes show her age but she has no trouble finding hidden morsels in the grass and she has soft floppy ears. She is bossy and vocal and hilarious and I think you’re going to love her.
Bernie was picked up as a stray and no one came forward to claim her. How anyone could do that to a senior dog is unfathomable but it’s for the best. Now she has a second chance at love and is determined to find a home where she can be appreciated for all of her opinions and find security in knowing she will be cared for in her golden years. Bernie needs to know that the next meal is always guaranteed and the dog beds are always clean and fluffy. She needs to learn that the hands are always soft and gentle and the voices are patient and loving.
Bernie is vocal, let’s get that out of the way. Sometimes it’s grumbles and groans, sometimes it’s barking (rarely) or whining. She, at any given time, could sound like a cow or a walrus, a bleating goat or a complaining toddler. It’s part of her charm and I understand a common trait of Jack Russell Terriers. Maybe it’s time to eat. Maybe it’s time to fluff a bed. Maybe you dared to eat something without her. The reasons are plentiful and the conversation is inevitable. I find it incredibly endearing BUT your neighbours might not so Bernie needs to go to a home where this level of ‘conversation’ will not pose a problem. A detached home would be ideal but as long as the walls are thick like mine then a townhome may also be suitable. Bernie has not been able to do a full flight of stairs while in my care so if you have a multi-level home you just need to be able to set her up with a comfy bed on the first level. She sleeps on the main floor of my house on her own without any complaint. Well, maybe a little here and there. When not serenading me or sleeping, Bernie loves to walk. She will get so joyful on a walk that she will break out into a gallop that makes me exclaim “look at that majestic potato go!” Bernie does not need a lot of exercise but she can handle a 2km walk that we do every few days. Other walks are around our complex or down the street and she is comfortable with the sights and sounds of the city. Bernie handles the sidewalk and the grass with ease but she would not be an ‘all terrain’ kind of walker – no uneven or hilly ground for this senior girl. Bernie is alone during the day while I am at work but I come at lunch to check on her and give potty breaks and she has adapted well to this routine. She also seems happier when I am home so she would not complain about having company all day but as a senior girl who like her sleep she could easily maintain the schedule we have built here.
I have several favourite things about Bernie! I love how outspoken she can be and that she wants to debate the goings on in the house. I love the way she presses her wet nose into the back of my calf when I’m not quite moving fast enough for her. I love her interior design skills – she is always rearranging her beds and blankets based on her mood. If she needs to watch me cook then she’ll shift a bed this way – wants to watch the door in case I leave, better drag a blanket that way – always muttering to herself as she goes. One of the most important things to know about Bernie is that she is incredibly food motivated. Incredibly is not a big enough word. Bernie is all about food all the time. This has been very handy in trying to bond with her but a bit extra work in walking her because Bernie’s other word for ‘walk’ would be ‘buffet’. She is constantly on the lookout for something to eat so having a pocketful of tasty treats keeps her attention and helps distract her when she finds that morsel in the grass (which may or may not be edible). Using food is also helping Bernie deal with the world around her because Bernie is very insecure about people, and who can blame her. She’s been let down before so her new family needs to be dedicated to helping Bernie find her confidence. I promise, as she is starting to trust me, it’s worth it. She is starting to enjoy head and neck scratches and just generally enjoys being around people. I’m careful not to startle her with a touch, always making sure she sees me and offering my hand – if she comes to me she is open to being pet. When we are out walking she runs towards anyone she sees with that crooked tail wagging. Now is that because they may have food? Sure, but the joy is unmistakable. Bernie wants to love and be loved. She also seems to startle easily and when she is startled she will show you her displeasure. Again, she needs to build her confidence and her trust so her love match must be experienced in dealing with dogs in this state. She is not a vicious dog or an aggressive dog and she has never bitten anyone so her reaction to the things that scare her are just that, fear. She needs time and patience to bond with her people and learn the ropes of her new home.
Bernie came in the door house trained and has only had accidents in extreme conditions such as a gastro upset she battled for a few weeks. She does not exactly indicate that she has to go outside yet (or maybe she does, who can tell with all the mumbling) but she is fine throughout the night. She loves her walks but is fine with a quick trip to the fenced yard to do her business as well. Bernie did not take to the kennel after weeks of trying and the stress it caused her was overwhelming so we decided to just block her off in a room when I’m out and she was visibly relieved. She minds her own business in the house as long as there is no food out and has not been destructive at all. She has shown some fleeting interest in toys but at her age her favourite pastime is definitely naps. I gave Bernie a lot of time to settle in before attempting to bathe her. When I finally felt a bond starting we tackled that task and she handled it incredibly well. I was able to give her a good shampoo and even towel her dry. It was a huge accomplishment that was only made possible because of the pocket full of tasty treats I mentioned earlier!
When we are outside the house Bernie is unconcerned with other animals – small mammals, birds, other dogs. She is not reactive to them in the least. However, Bernie does not want to share her home or anything/anyone in that home with another animal. Bernie is living with other small dogs and she has shown resource guarding around them regarding food and even her foster mom. Over time she has not changed her mind or become more tolerant of the other dogs, she’s positive she DOES NOT want any animal siblings. I would include cats in this as the resource guarding would easily apply to them as well. Bernie is clearly excited when she sees the kids in the neighbourhood. Again, are they sticky with whatever they had for lunch? Probably and she knows it. However, I am suggesting no kids in Bernie’s home until she learns that the world is a safe and peaceful place. Until she overcomes her insecurity and her easy-startle reflex and until she is secure enough to get a handle on the resource guarding that we’ve observed.
Bernie is just starting to get a handle on ‘sit’. I don’t think anyone had any expectations of Bernie is her past life so when she came here she did not have any basic obedience or manners and no concept of patience, although it is clear she lived in a home. I think she lived with someone who let her do whatever she wanted without boundaries and I’m also quite sure they fed her people food regularly and likely from their plate. These have been hard lessons for her to start to learn and hard habits to break but she is smart and she has already improved so much in these areas. I have not trained her any run of the mill tricks as we have just been learning how to be a more patient member of the house but her food motivation lends itself well to further training. Bernie travels fine in the car and rides in her kennel for safety. She spends the first 10 minute arranging her blankets just so and then settles in. We have not taken any trips longer than 45 minutes but she does not give any indication that she would mind. The only issue with the car is that Bernie does not liked to be picked up. I’ve gotten around this by putting her kennel on the ground and coaxing her in and then lifting the kennel into the car. A ramp would also be helpful for her and she could easily be trained to navigate it. Bernie learned very quickly how to walk nicely on her leash and at least does the courtesy of weaving behind you! She will definitely put on the brakes if she catches wind of something and wander off to investigate. A few pops on the leash and some reassuring words can quickly redirect her and if she is in the yard off leash she is also very responsive to an ‘AHH AHH’ if you need her to leave something alone.
Bernie had some dental work done upon coming into the care of Pound Dog Rescue. They had to extract 12 teeth and everything else got a thorough cleaning. As I mentioned previously, she also had a period of gastro upset that was eventually addressed with medication and seems to be behind her. She still has some weight to shed so a high-quality diet and proper portion control is important as always. I reserve some of her kibble from her meals to use as treats throughout the day so I don’t accidentally overfeed her. Aside from these things she is a normal lumpy bumpy senior whose back legs can shake from time to time but she’s happy to have a seat wherever she is to take a break.
Bernie is a lovely, chatty, bossy older lady who needs a soft place to live out the rest of her years. She needs structure and patience and in return she will bring you love and laughs and majestic potato gallops. And fantastic conversation. She would benefit from a family who has experience dealing with an insecure dog and understands the behaviour that goes with that. A family that understands how to help her move forward while respecting her limits. She will love being the centre of attention without any other animals to stress her out. Overall, she has been such an easy dog to have around and as she blossoms and finds her confidence she is going to be a beautiful, loyal, loving family member. Someone will be very lucky to be bossed around by Bernie for a while.