Monday, February 22, 2010

Cleo's Gotcha Day


Well four years ago Cleo joined our family.  We adopted Cleo from our local Humane Society in February of 2006.  I began volunteering at our local Humane Society shortly after loosing my first basset hound Precious.  I really thought this would help me deal with her loss and prepare me for what type of dog I wanted to join our family eventually.  After volunteering for about 4 months and seeing so many dogs come in to the shelter, so many I really wanted, but wasn't quite ready to bring one home yet.

Then one day while I was there walking dogs one of the HSCI workers came out of the back area with the sweetest looking basset hound.  She was the shortest, stubbiest, roundest hound I had seen.  I immediately went to the worker and asked about her.  Her name was Cleo and she was in the back area because she had "issues".  The worker told me that they were not sure what was going to happen with Cleo because she had been adopted and then brought back to the shelter three times already.  She had been in and out of the shelter since she was 9 months old.  They informed me a few days later that they were going to have her go to Basset Rescue, but a week later she was back at the shelter.  I was like what the heck happened with Cleo why is she back here and not in Basset Rescue.  They informed me that she had cornered her Basset Rescue Foster Mom into a corner and would not let her out and when the Foster Dad came to assist Cleo bit him.  Basset Rescue immediately sent her back to the shelter with a "NOT ADOPTABLE" label on her.  They then informed me that since this was Cleo's 5th attempt at finding a home and had some serious aggression issues, they felt that the only option for her was to put her to sleep.  I was like a basset with "aggression", oh PLEASE.  If she really did have these issues, heck who could blame her, she never found that right somebody to love her unconditionally.

Well this was a very long process and I had some major talking to do to HSCI so I could make them see that she was "adoptable" she just needs the right home.  It took LOTS of talking, crying and begging to allow them me the opportunity to show her a good life.  Them big tears worked and after signing LOTS of paperwork and agreeing to bring her back if she did bite anyone of us, her fate was not good if this happened.

At the time we brought Cleo home we had Tabby and Elliott (since passed) who were very bounded and Elliott was very protective of his big-sis Tabby.  Also, Elliott was very set in his ways and was going through a serious bought of depression and health issues since we had loss his mate Precious 6 months earlier.  He was not that fond of Cleo joining our family.  And of course, Cleo was producing lots of negative energy and really thought she should be top dog in the house.  NOT!

I will be honest that after a few days of experiencing Cleo's "out of body experiences", I just wasn't sure what I had gotten myself in for, but was determined that she could not go back to the shelter.  It took almost 8 months to get the negative energy out of Cleo, I read so many books and even talked with the Dog Whisper through email.  We began by taking Cleo on at least 3 walks a day, more if we could fit it in.  Walks were  the key to keeping her aggression in check.  Then the day that she got HDD new boot was a good turning point as well.  I sat on the floor with one hand on the boot and she had her mouth on the boot, we were like that for almost 2 hours before she finally walked away.  Seemed like after that day she really was beginning to understand where her place was in the pack.  She would have some situations where Tabby may look at her the wrong way and she would go into attack mode.  Poor Tabby was abused and all she wanted was to just enjoy life (sleep, eat, sleep, eat and walk every know and then) not be backed into a corner with a snippy short round hound.  But that Cleo was very determined on making sure that Tabby knew she was not the pack leader.  I got to the point that I could really read her body language and head off any potential attacks before they actually happened.  She would actually begin to "puff" up like a "puff toad" when she was about ready to strike.  Having Cleo wear a color 100% of the time also helped, because I had something to hold on to.  The real bonding came when we lost Elliott and it was just Tabby and Cleo for sometime.  They just learned how to jell together and we could see so many improvements with her.  But the really best thing was when we brought Winston home to her.  Winston is just such a happy go lucky basset, he made the pack complete.  Cleo soon learned that all three could play and have a great time together.

Cleo it is so hard to believe that it has been 4 years since you found my heart.  I just so wish we could have gotten you when you were a puppy and maybe you would not have had such a hard life to start with.  Even with our ups/downs you have made our life complete and whole and we could not imagine not having you in our life.

Cleo attends the Basset Waddle every year (the same Basset Rescue) that said there was no hope for her.  When I first got involved with GABR I had no idea that this was the rescue that turned Cleo away.  It was at one of their adoption days she attended with me, that they realized exactly who my Cleo was.  They were blown away with what I had done with her and never imagined she would turn out so good.  They immediately asked me to foster for them since I seem to have a the magic touch.  I told them that we really didn't do anything special, just gave her some time, space a chance to be a "dog", and LOTS and LOTS of walks.

I honestly believe that my Precious led me to HSCI and Cleo, because she knew my heart needed mended and Cleo needed some help to find her way as well.  Cleo is  a "Daddy's Girl" but really finds joy with everyone that she meets.  I so wanted a basset named Cleo since I was little and had the book about a Basset named Cleo that was a Movie Star.  My Cleo is this dog to a tee and even had to go find the book on e-bay so I could have it.  I swear she is this dog made over, with all the same actions and basset hound attitude.

Cleo we are so glad that you came into our lives and you have opened our eyes to how much a rescue dog can mean to a family.   It is amazing that one family can make such a different in one dogs life.  We thank HSCI every day for allowing us the opportunity to change Cleo's life around.  She wakes every morning with such a happy bounce and a smile, like she truly knows every day is a treasure.  There is no greater joy then to know that you have truly "RESCUED" a dog from her final days and have had her for 4 years (going on fur-ever), nobody would have ever believed it with "OUR" Cleo.

Love you so much,
HoundDogMom, HoundDogDad, Tabby, Winston and Amiee


  1. Just read this before setting off for work and oh my goodness I just had to comment.
    First of all well done you - Cleo sounds so like Bailey that was uncanny.
    We are Bailey's fourth home - she also came with aggression issues and had bit her previous owner who advised she was impossible.
    We had to sign a disclosure after she also bit a volunteer at the rescue.
    So you see we are so with you and Cleo - also we have found exercise to be key in turning Bailey back into the sweet loving basset we always knew was there.
    We still have the odd occasion where Bailey thinks she can rule the roost and we pick our battles carefully!
    Generally it is best to distract her and avoid confrontation rather like a teenager!
    It was great to read about Cleo and great to know that you could see past all the negatives although we know how hard it is at times.
    What a great story to start the day with - have a great day and Happy Gotcha Day Cleo - we reckon we have your long lost sister in Scotland!

  2. Thanks so much for reading my story. They say I was a handful but well worth it. HDM was amazed to here there could be a twin to me and she may live in Scotland. We are so lucky to have our Moms/Mums in our lives who could see a future even with our past history.

  3. Thank goodness that you were there that day & were able to provide Cleo the love & patience that she needed!


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