Are you up for a story that will make you smile? I hope so because this post is about a dog named CeCe that came to Old Dog Haven as a mess and now—a year later—thanks to her foster mom Laura Demory, she’s remarkably transformed in so many ways. CeCe’s story, told so beautifully by Laura, is a wonderful example of how fostering can be a bit like a treasure hunt – or maybe even like peeling a banana.
Underneath the physical issues, perhaps not dealt with in a very long time, you may find a gem of a dog just waiting to be discovered.
What Laura has done for CeCe during the past year goes way beyond just providing a home for her and with Old Dog Haven’s financial assistance, CeCe’s physical problems were taken care of and then Laura could begin the treasure hunt to see who CeCe really is as a dog.
Before you read what Laura has to say about CeCe, here’s a bit of background: CeCe, her brother and mother were brought to the shelter when their human companion died. It appeared that the dogs had been confined in a very small space and not well cared for during the period shortly before they were surrendered to the shelter. The brother was transferred to Rebecca’s Rainbow rescue and was adopted from there. Old Dog Haven founders Judith and Lee Piper took the mother but she had serious neurological issues or possibly a brain tumor. When she tried to stand she’d sway back and forth and couldn’t walk without assistance. She was clearly just existing, so after a week of being held and loved she was sent on her way. Now, here’s what Laura has to say about CeCe:
“CeCe was pulled from the shelter 7/31/15 by Old Dog Haven and taken straight to the vet. She was 10 years old, quite overweight, and dribbling blood and urine. She had bladder stones removed (according to vet records she’d had the same surgery at some point in her past before she was taken to the shelter) as well as a tumor from her shoulder. Bev Bowe stepped up to give her a temporary home while she healed.
“In the meantime, I had decided to apply to be a foster after the passing of a little old dog I had adopted earlier in the year. It was such a rewarding experience to see him blossom and gain confidence it more than made up for the sadness of his passing from kidney disease.
“I first met CeCe when Bev and I met in Olympia on 9/17/15. I brought my Lhasa mix Poppy along, and we met up so I could take CeCe home. I was a little surprised to see this little head on a body that weighed almost as much as Poppy. She was so round! I knew she was still quite overweight, and would need to have her diet managed carefully for weight control and to prevent bladder stones.
“And so our adventure began. CeCe is by nature a very sweet tempered little dog. She is generally quiet and not too pushy (for a princess) but very good at getting what she wants anyway.
“One of my first goals was to get CeCe in good enough shape to participate in Poppy and my daily walk to the local park. It is close to a mile round trip, and at first she couldn’t even get all the way around the block. Carrying her was hard on my back due to her weight, so I did something I never thought I would do—I got a dog stroller. (Yes, I had someone ask why my dog wasn’t walking.) It didn’t take too long for her to get up to speed on the walks, but we still had to deal with her desire to stop in front of every single house to look for people. Sheesh. This was a first for me. A dog that would rather look for people than check the pee mail. Still, we managed to get in a decent amount of exercise and by the end of the year CeCe had slimmed down from 19 to 13 lbs. She looks so good!
“During one of our trips to the park we met three kids all under the age of six. CeCe was in heaven! She stood there and let them all pet her and asked for more. At that moment it occurred to me that this dog should be a reading program therapy dog. Poppy likes people too, but the difference between them is that Poppy will choose the dog park and CeCe will choose the playground. Funny little dogs. After checking with Judith to make sure it would be all right to pursue therapy team certification, CeCe and I signed up for training.
“I’ve had several dogs without much obedience training, but I have never had one that seemed so clueless as to what training is in spite of being so good at reading people and getting them to do her bidding. It was quite a treat to watch as CeCe figured out how to learn. She gave me a personal demonstration of all of the things I’d heard about situational learning. I could see her brain trying to take in that ‘sit’ meant the same thing on the couch, the floor, carpet, hardwood, inside and outside. As she has gotten the hang of learning, the time it takes her to pick up new commands has decreased considerably. Now I’m challenged to pick up the training skills I need to get her to do what I want. I haven’t ever tried to teach this many different skills to a dog. The training will not go to waste though.
“So here we are, several months into our journey towards certification. I took the handler’s class, volunteered to help with team evaluations to see what I was in for, started the paper work and registered for our evaluation. Our test is coming up Saturday Sept. 24.
“I’m so proud of this little dog. She has worked really hard, learned so much and will make a great therapy dog. I feel really good about the improvement in her health and the opportunity to help children learn to read and show that old dogs can learn new tricks and do amazing things.”
Are you smiling? Your smile will be even bigger after you look at the photos below that are—more or less—in chronological order.