Three years ago a friend asked me to evaluate a dog she hoped to re-home to prevent him from going to Animal Control. He was living with a large family including a couple of toddlers and a disabled young adult. They loved him dearly but they had neither the time nor the resources to care for him. Dogs over 30 lbs are not allowed in public housing so they did not walk him outside. He spent most of his time chained to a radiator. When I met him he was eight months and 69lbs. of unfocused energy. He had never been socialized to other dogs so he would stand on his hind legs and whine when he saw a dog from blocks away. He jumped, humped, stole, chewed, grabbed, and tugged anything and everything he could get his big paws on. ... and he had a cheeky grin I could not resist!
I knew he couldn't go to just anyone but I have two dogs of my own so I asked a neighbor to foster him while I prepared him for a permanent home. I trained a team of volunteers to help give him the structure, exercise, and mental stimulation he needed. The first year was tough. I am normally very patient with dogs but Red often pushed me past the point of frustration. He gave me new empathy for my clients struggles with their own dogs. Eventually I realized that Red was here to make me a better trainer to both dogs and humans and I adopted him.
One of his most amazing qualities is his love of attention from all people but his big head and muscular body bursting with energy made people cross the street when they saw us coming. It broke my heart to see him wiggle over to people only to have them scream and run away from him. He has a special affinity for disabled individuals which I think can be attributed to his first home. Fortunately disabled people are often more accepting of Red's attention. Tricks were a perfect fit for him.
I started having him play dead for permission to leave the front stoop on our way to the park. My once fearful neighbors were impressed. They stopped calling him vicious and declared him "the smartest dog on the block." Now they carry cookies in their pocket for Red and ask to see his latest tricks. I have to make sure I leave enough time for Red to greet his fans on the way to and from the park. "Take" and "hold" took forever but now he loves to carry his basket to help me run errands. Everyone smiles as he walks by with basket in mouth and Red wags his entire body in response.
I hope that this video will qualify Red as a Champion Trick Dog to the world but he is already a champion to me.