Update on the Rat Pack

You might remember a couple of weeks ago, I got a group of rat terrier foster dogs. I affectionately have called them the rat pack. The two rat terriers were full brother and sister. The smaller brown spotted put is the male rat terrier’s son.

The dogs were a real challenge when they came. They weren’t housetrained. The older two were puppy pad trained and the puppy…not trained at all.

I was really quite overwhelmed with these guys. I don’t have a physical fence so each of these had to be taken out individually walked and I had to try to get them to go to the bathroom. Peppa got the hang of things super quick and she made the whole process much easier than it could have been…however she was in heat. That was a huge issue that was a challenge to manage but thankfully Caesar the male was neutered the day after the rat pack came and she was spayed two days after that.

Peppa went to her home…

five days after she came. She had adjusted fairly well and I felt really good about her going. The three dogs together plus my two was a real challenge. Peppa’s new family could help her and in turn, by her leaving, I’d have more time for working with Slinky the pup, and Caesar.

Slinky was the next go a few days later. Before the adopters were approved I had to talk to them about Slinky’s shyness. He was so shy when I first got him that he would hide and cower under the table. Then just as I crawled under to catch him, he would dart away. House training was a nightmare. I could walk and walk and walk with him only to have him come into the house and pee on the puppy pad. He was a tough cookie to crack. The rescue I foster with brought a high fence metal kennel to my house. It’s only 12 x 12 but I am loving it. They even delivered it to my house.

Craig, my son-in-law. was so nice and helped me set it up. After it was up, Slinky went in and for the first time since I initially got him, he peed outdoors. I had him for 7 days before he peed. For seven days I had been super frustrated with myself for not catching him and getting him outside. After that, it was still a struggle but he did eventually get to the point he went outside 2 of 5 times. At that point, we had a couple of families that were approved and deemed a good fit. I had to call the families and explain Slinky’s slow progress in house training and ask if they were still interested.

Slinky had come so far in the short time I had him. He had learned to walk on a leash. He wasn’t hiding under the table anymore. He still wouldn’t come to me but he had very much improved. He wasn’t scared to death outside. It was so nice to see how far he had come.

I’ve had a report back from both Slinky and Peppa’s new families. Oh, the updates made my heart happy. Slinky was tearing around, running, and playing with his new human family. The kids were laughing and playing with him. He got just the family he needed. Peppa had already found her spot in the family bed. All wonderful news.

Now it’s Casesar’s turn for some wonderful news.

Caesar had a lot of problems when he came. Oh my word, I wondered if I had it in me to help him. He was a tough cookie. Again…he was puppy pad trained but hadn’t been outside much. He was scared and his fear came out as aggression. I think he felt like it was his responsibility to take care of his pack. I wasn’t scared of him for my sake but I didn’t feel good about him around other people. Sadly, until I had time which included getting Peppa and Slinky to their new homes, Caesar didn’t get a lot of time.

Initially, when the rescue listed the rat pack on their Facebook page, a viewer commented and said, “Keep them all together”. Me being the foster knew that would be the worst thing for these dogs. Together, they were too much… too hard. The one that needed to be away from his pack most was Caesar. He was trying so hard to be the big protector. He was taking that role so seriously. It made him act out with excessive barking and even growling. He was afraid. Everything was so different and hard for him that his fear turned into aggression.

The very first night the dogs were here, they pretty much barked the entire night. I didn’t sleep. Caesar was so aggressive. I ended up calling to the vet’s office in the morning and more or less begged them to neuter him that day. I couldn’t have him anywhere near Peppa or Slinky. He would so aggressively run and fight at Slinky humping him-it was terrible. I quickly saw why Slinky was so fearful and shy. Caesar was too aggressive with him. If Caesar was out in my house, all of the other dogs had to be in kennels….plus Peppa was in heat so there was all that to work through too. It was terrible. I tried to put Caesar in the pen, he jumped right over that. I was at wit’s end and it was only one overnight. This was going to be a terrible foster situation. Thankfully the vet squeezed him in for me.

I’ll be honest. I wondered if Caesar might have to be put down. With the growling and mean-spirited barking, I just didn’t know if he’d ever make a good family dog. I took a deep breath and told myself until the other dogs from his pack had homes, I just had to keep everyone safe and after they left, I would really work with him.

Caesar didn’t get better while the other dogs were here. He was still so aggressive. One day while he was out in the house and the other dogs were in their kennels, he jumped up on top of Peppa’s kennel and tried to hump the whole kennel. This was after Peppa was spayed and after he was neutered. What he was thinking, I have no idea.

Peppa left shortly after that and things started to go a tiny bit better. I was to the point that if I was alone in the house, I would let Caesar out with one of my dogs and then watch him like a hawk. A day later I got brave enough to let him out with both of my dogs. All of my adult children were under strict orders to call me before they came to my house so I could kennel Caesar before they came. I didn’t trust him. I didn’t know if that mean aggressive growl meant business and I wasn’t going to risk it.

If anyone came near his kennel beside me, Caesar was in all protective mode with fierce growling that would scare most anyone.

Time has passed and every day Caesar has become less and less fearful. He is just fine with my adult children. They can come in the door and Caesar is no longer startled and scared or aggressive. I can not believe the leaps and bounds of progress that he has made. I am so thankful I have patient kids who will work and set the stage and practice with Caesar to help him work through socialization scenarios to help him succeed.

As of writing this, Caesar has met with Carver and is okay with Carver. We still have more practicing to do but Caesar has come so far. He doesn’t like fast movement from little kids. If Carver is by himself, Caesar is just fine.

Caesar was really quick to house train. He does a great job going outdoors. We occasionally have an accident but for the most part, he’s almost there. At this point, he doesn’t stand at the door and indicate that he needs to go outside but if I take him he goes. We had one potential adopter ask if he can use a doggie door. Well, I’m sure he could be trained to but he would still need to be watched for a bit to make sure he actually goes when he is outside. As far as housetraining goes, Caesar is at a five-month-old puppy stage. Starting to be trusted but not quite completely there.

Caesar no longer barks all night long. He doesn’t bark at night when he initially goes in his kennel. He actually is perfect at that. If he hears me get up in the night to go to the bathroom, he will sound out four large barks and that’s about it…but that’s perfect. I want a dog to be attentive and guard a bit.

He does a good job on a leash. It wasn’t that way to start with but now, he’s a champ. We are trying to get out and walk. Our first day out was awful. He lunged at my neighbor and growled…not anymore. I have to talk and work him through it, but it’s so much better and I’m not fearful anymore with him.

I am SO VERY impressed with how far Caesar has come. It is hard…he needs the right family. I am so excited to be able to say that. At one point, I wasn’t sure he could ever be calm and trust someone enough to be adoptable. What a blessing that we can even be able to confidently adopt him out. Had he not made these improvements, he wouldn’t have been added to the adoptable list.

Once I figured out he was acting out because of hormones and fear, I decided that I had to do whatever I could to normalize things he was afraid of.

Caesar needs a family that doesn’t let him lapse into thinking he’s the boss of the house. When his first family was here with them, Caesar was obviously the boss of the bunch and he knew it. I’m guessing he was the boss of his previous owner too. The dogs needed to be split and go to separate homes to give Caesar a chance to just be a dog and not be the great protector. I am so thankful for my dogs Izzy and Rosie who are open to new dogs being here. They aren’t super bossy but they don’t let other dogs take over the house either. They are just what Caesar needed.

Every day that goes by, Caesar is better and better and better. He’s learning to just be a dog. I told one potential adoptee that Caesar is a bit of a project dog. He has some things that still need to be worked on but oh my the potential is there. I see it daily.

Now that he’s trusting me and trusting his environment more, a really great dog is starting to peek through that formerly tough gruff growly exterior. It’s such a great thing to watch and be a part of.

I am to the point that I don’t have many concerns about Caesar. I’m finding that with a little time and patience, he’s adjusting to everything. He is totally out and about with my dogs now. I don’t kennel him during the day at all unless I’m going to be gone. I happened to catch this picture of him lounging on the couch. He is so photogenic! I don’t even have to try to get a picture with him. He LOVES the camera!!

I NEVER thought he would get to the point that I could trust him with my grandkids and now Caessar loves Anders…and Anders loves him. I am still cautious as I don’t trust Anders to not yank Caesar’s ear…but they are friends.

Caesar had turned in a natural sewing buddy too!! He’s really making his way into our household. Oh, it’s time for him to go. It’s time for him to make his way into someone else’s heart.

If you know of anyone who might be interested in a dog like Caesar, please share this blog post with them. The more the post is shared the better chance we have of finding the perfect family for Caesar. Adoption applications can be found at HEART Animal Rescue. THIS is the LINK. His adoption fee is $250. He is completely up to date on shots. He is microchipped and neutered. He enjoys other dogs and is good with them now. He would love an active family.

It’s going to be hard for me to see Caesar go. We’ve grown a lot together but I know, he has bigger and better things to do and I have more dogs to foster. At first, I was kicking myself that I ever said I would foster this bunch. I really didn’t sleep at all the first two nights and they have eaten up so much of my time…but with Caesar especially I can really see the reward of the time I’ve given him. He’s really a great guy.

9 thoughts on “Update on the Rat Pack”

  1. Have you ever tried ear plugs at night? I use them for drowning out outside noises. I can still hear my morning alarm. Just an idea.

  2. Caesar has made such brilliant progress, you should be very proud of yourself Jo! You’ve given him a fantastic start to his new life. I can’t believe how much he’s improved!

  3. Hi Jo, I think this is where the phrase “lucky dog” comes from. I think he knows you have given him a second chance. On the back of the couch it looks like he has raised his ear to ask a question. Great job, young lady.

  4. I’m just so impressed with your dog training skills. Honestly you are wonderful. I have rescues in my home and these dogs come with lots of baggage and sometimes it never goes away. I have one dog who follows me everywhere and barks at any person,dog or cat she sees. I need to enroll her in dog training school somewhere, do you think you could take her ? Just kidding!

  5. Jo, I believe those hormones are still circulating for about 30 days after neutering. Glad to see how much progress Ceaser is making .

  6. Oh how good you are! Not many people would have the patience you have to train a puppy. Caesar is so fortunate and I hope he has his forever home soon.

  7. I love your picture of Caesar. I had a rat terrier growing up who was named Fritz. He was the best dog. Caesar looks so much like Fritz including the big black spot on his side.

  8. Barbara Firesheets

    Loved reading about your adventures with the rat pack! So glad Caesar is making good progress. He would be a great companion with the right family. Good work!

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