First of all, Willy is the sweetest little guy ever. I say little because in comparison to my in laws male GSP, Willy is tiny.  He has the face of an old wise dog but the muscular build and personality of a puppy. Hes a solid, healthy, happy dog. I was tied up with family matters when my husband and 7 year old son (dog lovers to the T) headed out to the rescue to meet Willy.  We didn’t know anything about him other than the fact he had been in the kennel for a long time. “Long” is a relative term…so we looked up on the GSP website when info was posted about a pup named Willy.  We found a post back in February. Okay, we thought… that’s not too bad and we happily committed to making his life a little more enjoyable by bringing him home to our growing farm. Little did we know that Willy had been in a shelter/kennel for over a year before that post. This sweet guy has spent two years living in a concrete slab with very little to no human interaction. My husband melted at hearing this and knew instantly that he was doing the right thing agreeing to bring Willy home.

At the rescue our two dogs; Hanna, a black lab mix(some say she might have a little pointer in her) and Bailey, a shepherd mix ran around and introduced themselves to everyone.  According to my husband and son, even our dogs took a liking to Willy all on their own and soon the three of them were exploring the yard together and playing in the pool like best friends. Even my son got a few welcomed kisses and in return he offered up some gentle scratches behind his ears. Not long after the boys loaded up the car with all three pups in the back, they laid down right away and settled in as if we had done all this before. My two doggies didn’t seem to mind that we were bringing their new friend with us in the car, in fact they snuggled quite close to him as he gently rested his head and looked peacefully out the window.

When they got home I was able to take a minute and come up and greet them. All three dogs came happily out of the car and ran through the yard; Willy bouncing after Hanna and Bailey eagerly looking forward to exploring this new land.  And BOY did they explore! There were birds, butterflies, lizards, bunnies and goats GALORE!! I don’t think Willy knew what he was getting himself into when he happily jumped in the back of our car but he certainly didn’t seem to mind all the wonderful new smells and sights.

Which reminds me, Willy is a sniffer.  I think this might be a GSP trait, probably something to do with with hunting. My husband’s GSP used to have such a strong nose that we called her our vacuum. She would walk around the house, nose to the floor sniffing and snorting at the same time. I swear all the crumbs were going up her nose THEN into her mouth… either way there was some strong suction to her sniff and Willy here has a similar schnoz on him. He immediately checked every nook and cranny in my home, which to be honest probably has a nice sized collection of stale crumbs from any one of my three children. Then as he nonchalantly pranced across the room he stopped dead in his tracks and pointed in perfect form. At what might you ask? His own reflection in our flat screen television.

When I came in to greet him I first noticed his little tail wiggle a million miles a minute.  How can a tiny tail have so much personality?? If he had a propellar attatched I think he would take off. I tried to get him to sit and I swear his biggest struggle was the wiggling tail that seemed to just have a mind of its own.   I sat down on the floor to inspect him and allow him to inspect me, little did I know that when you get down on his level its fair game! One gentle scratch to his token GSP spots on his back and he leans his body into you and practically collapses in your lap. I haven’t managed to get a picture of this yet, I’m sure you can understand why it would be difficult considering a large dog is rolling clumsily in my lap, tail going and going and going…

We considered using a crate for him at bedtime but we noticed so many signs of a dog that has been refused the joys of famly/home life such as understanding how to properly mount and dismount furniture.  Yes, we are a dogs on the furniture kind of family… I apologize to any future family of Willy’s but we snuggle our puppies on our couches and beds and treat them like part of the family. We draw the line at letting them eat off the table however. 🙂 Anyway, while we were watching him inspect our living room he attempted to climb into a large chair that is typically claimed by our Lab mix; Hanna.  He put one paw up then attempted to jump with his back legs and face planted into the crack of the seat cushion and back of the chair. My children burst into laughter and poor WIlly clumsily turned himself around and curled into a little ball, seemingly embarassed.  Then when he attempted to dismount, moments later, the same clumbsy moves almost resulted in a scene similar to Bambi skating on the ice in the old classic Disney movie(we have hardwood floors in our home). We thought how sad it was that he seemed so awkward on the furniture and attributed this to probably spending such a long time living in a kennel.  So come evening time we felt guilty even considering putting him in a cage to sleep while the other two are snuggled up by our feet on the bed. We put a baby gate (we have plenty of them throughout our home seeing as we have a very active one year old) in our bedroom doorway assuming as clumsy as he was that if he were to try and jump over a gate landing on slippery hard wood floors we would hear the commotion and wake up, no silent escape possible.  We patted the bed and immediately all THREE doggies jumped up and got comfortable. I woke up once during the night and he was rummaging through my side of the closet, probably sniffing out old smells from a cat we recently lost who used to sleep in the closet. Poor Willy probably thought there was a cat hiding somewhere behind all the clothes.  I called him back up on the bed and after crushing me with his signature collapse when scratched in the right spot he settled down and fell back to sleep.

All in all, Willy’s first day involved greeting the goats, who were very eager to check him out. He handled it very well for a dog that probably has never seen a goat in his life. He chased birds around in our yard left and right, probably getting the most exercise hes had in months, maybe years.  He snuggled up with Hanna and Bailey in the sun watching the clouds go by.  He played fetch with my kids and stole a cherised stuffed polar bear while their backs were turned (Note to self: hide all stuffed animals when bringing in new dogs). He fit in quite well for a dog that we were told hasn’t had much love and attention from anyone in the last two years.  Boy did he get a lot today!

We have noticed two very important things that we will be researching and working with in the coming days/weeks.  Willy, probably due to being in a kennel for so long has developed some food aggression.  My 7, 4 and 1 year old children have ALL smothered him with kisses and hugs and the entire time hes sat there wiggling his tail happily enjoying the invasion of his personal space.  They have tugged his ears, pushed on his back and even grabbed his tail and not once has he snapped at them with agression… however while he was eating in our laundry room our lab mix, Hanna walked in behind him and she was greeted with an angry snarl and she came flying out of the laundry room landing on her back.  Our two dogs typically share one bowl of food, always have, so I am sure Hanna was shocked that her new best friend didnt want to share.  My husband gladly volunteered to then go in and test his agression level to his human friends. He didn’t snap at him but when Eric grabbed his collar or went to touch the bowl Willy lunged closer to the bowl and growled a low warning growl.  This is to be expected from dogs that live in a kennel and we will gladly work with him on this, until then he will enjoy his meals alone in the laundry room behind our friendly baby gate.

We also think he might be hard of hearing. At first I felt he was just SO excited to be in a new environment that he was ignoring us calling his name. I kept asking my husband, “are you sure that’s his name? Did you ask them how long hes had his name?” He assured me Willy was his name and hes had it for a while… we continued calling his name and he seemed so busy investigating and smelling and checking everything out, again we considered maybe he just wasn’t paying attention.  As his first full day home with us comes to a close I have come to the conclusion that our new friend Willy is deaf, or very hard of hearing.  He will come to us when he sees the other two running in our direction in response to a whistle, but doesn’t budge if we call his name. He will only look in our direction if we wave our arms or pound on the floor, clapping rarely gets his attention.  It occurs to me that this may also be a reason why he had difficulty following my “sit” command earlier, or why he would have been startled that Hanna walked in behind him while he was minding his own business eating his dinner.  I know everyone says, “you cant teach an old dog new tricks, but I am seriously considering attempting to teach him hand signals for obedience training. I see eagerness and brilliance in those soulful eyes, I know he could do it.  He is a sweet, gentle boy with such a youthful spirit, but it also seems that he may be a very special GSP looking for a very special family.

One Reply to “Welcome Willy.”

  1. soooo much to add to this as a gsp owner myself!!! as i already told you kali has the same high speed wiggling tail and the total collapse on you smother you affection!!!! i know willy must just be thrilled to be at your place… kali sure loves it there with all the butterflies and lizards and fun things to hunt and chase! the sniffing is def a gsp trait… it does have to do with the hunting. also… he may not be hard of hearing… he may seeing as i don’t know him… but it is also a very typical gsp trait to not answer when called to. i thought kali might have hearing probs at first and then researched and found out gsp’s are not ignoring you… they truly can’t hear you call them if they are focused on anything else (especially hunting). i have found hand signals work a lot better for her than voice commands. although if i already have her attention she will usually follow voice too. so i think it would be great if you could train willy with hand signals. also when we first brought bodhi home kali was so playful and excited and great with him until food time!!! then she showed lots of aggression to him but it only took one day to redirect that and get them both eating out of the same bowl 🙂 course she still jumps up and stands near her food bowl if she sees the cat going near it!!! lol ok that is my two cents on the matter. i am very happy for willy he has agreat new home and can’t wait to meet him!!!

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