Cora Steele: Notes on a rescue dog

This is a foster dog diary post for Cora (aka Dora) Steele. We add new info to the end of this single article instead of posting many new ones. This way all information on this dog is right here and in chronological order.

This post last updated: February 3, 2017

January 10, 2017 by Doug

CoraCora Steele arrived this morning. Cora’s “Mom” died suddenly, leaving an assortment of dogs with no one to care for them. Another lady took Cora in and cared for her, but Cora proved too strong (and a bit unruly) for her to manage and Steele Away Home Canine Foster and Rescue was called in to help find Cora a more suitable home. And to teach her some manners. That’s why she’s here at Piney Mountain: manners.

Cora is a female Chocolate Lab mix who weighs around 60 pounds. She is affectionate and craves attention. She is an older dog but in good shape. Initial introductions with the other dogs went well. Only Bud gave her a hard time and I suspect that is because he was hoping the new dog would be more his size, not another BIG dog. Poor lil fella!

Cora Meets the Gang

One thing I’ve learned in working with Cora today: she’s a leaner. She shows affection by pressing in on my legs or my side, seeking solace through contact. She’s a sweet girl who craves attention.

January 11, 2017 by Doug

Yesterday, right after Amy and I got Cora settled into her pen and I went about my daily duties, Cora began trying to create an egress point from her pen. She dug a couple of pits — but stopped when she got to the Rock Cloth beneath the pea gravel. For that I am grateful. She also tore up her nose trying to force a way through the chain link. This caused me some concern.

However, once I let her out into the play yard for a long exploratory session and spent some time loving up on her, she settled down. She did howl mournfully when we’d all go inside, but didn’t make any further escape attempts.

This morning I took breakfast out to her. She had pulled the blanket out of the dog house and made it into a nest on the pea gravel. While Cora ate I left the pen door open and hung around outside.

Cora nestingWhen she finished breakfast she came out and nosed around a bit while I filled her water bowl and moved her blanket nest up onto the Coolaroo. Then I joined her outside again. She had me pet her a little, then went back into her pen on her own and settled into her nest to rest some more. Cora is not an early morning girl!


In the late morning play session Cora got an up-close meeting with Blondie Bear. Blondie is rarely unfriendly to new dogs, so I expected this to go smoothly.

As is common with the first meet, Blondie was rather indifferent. Later, once Cora’s anxiety (still holding her tail down) wears off they will probably play together.

We cut this session short because it started raining. Cora shows off how fast she learns things. Here it is only her second day!

January 14, 2017

Marie and I got Cora and Gator out for an proper meeting. Gator immediately jumped on her back and started trash-talking (snarling). I don’t think he meant her any harm, but I pulled him away just the same. Cora ran to Marie and leaned against her legs, trembling. She took his trash-talk personally. End of play session for Gator.

She has also gone back to trying to get through the chain-link. She did this her first day and tore up her face. Being allowed multiple play sessions each day seemed to settle her down, but this morning her face is all gouged up again and I have some work to do on the fencing. She desperately wants to be with us. Always. We can’t invite her inside just yet, so I’ll continue getting her out as often as possible.

She is feeling more comfortable here: tail held high most of the time and she’s spending more time running in the yard instead of clinging to me. She can be in the yard with Blondie, Cochise, or Tinker. Bud is still intimidated by her and warns her off. And Gator … well, I’m not sure what the deal is with Gator. He does not behave that way with anyone else and these two seemed to be positively enamored with one another. Maybe he’s just awkward around girls he likes and was showing off.

January 15, 2007 by Doug

Cora responds well to “sit” and “come”. We cannot claim to have taught her these, she seems to have known them from her life before. In fact I have more trouble getting her to go some distance away than getting her to come: she loves to snuggle.


During the night Cora returned to the business of making a hole in her pen. She did little damage to the chain link but scored up her face again. Marie washed Cora’s face and I repaired the fencing.
Cora thrilled to be near meI reinforced the mesh, but paid particular attention to removing the sharp bits that scrape her up so badly. We don’t want her to tear up that pretty face. While I worked, Cora watched. She seemed perturbed that I was undoing her progress, but said, “As long as I get to be near you, I’m thrilled!”
That is really her issue. Not that she wants to escape and run off, but that she wants to be with us.


We feed twice a day and each time I bring them, Cora is happy to see her kibbles. She is by no means starved: she is in fine shape, but she’s happy for a meal.

Note, however,that she is not unruly about it. She’s not jumping on me or trying to grab them away, and she does not get protective when I set them down. I can pet her. I can even pick the dish up again and she does not get aggressive. Just mildly annoyed — which is understandable!

January 16, 2017 by Doug

Cora is taking a big step today: she’s going to try-out as an inside dog.

I settled in to let Cora play a while as I watched a movie. Her timid movements and big eyes make me think this may be a new experience for her. She did very well. She is not at all rowdy.

Later, once Marie got home, Cora welcomed her home by sitting next to her while she caught up with the days news.

Bud is not being nasty with her as long as she keeps a little distance. She is not at all threatening toward him (or anyone else), he’s just intimidated by her size. He’ll get over that once he comes to trust her as he has the others.

CoraCora is quite the snuggler. When I’m out in the yard with her she frequently comes and leans against my legs. If I sit down, she presses in as close as she can get, sometimes laying her head on my leg.

Cora the snugglerMarie likes to get down on the floor with her. Cora will crawl right up in her lap and hay her head against Marie’s chest like a baby would. Cora is exceptionally gentle and loving.

January 18, 2017 by Doug

The past few days have been spent getting Cora accustomed to being primarily a house dog. That means she sleeps inside at night, and spends most of her time indoors — if she wants to. In nice weather it is not at all unusual for all the dogs to prefer to be outside enjoying the fine day. And that’s fine, encouraged even.

One of the first things a newbie house dog has to lean is the “in your room” command as used with a crate. We never want to force a dog into their crate: then the crate becomes punishment. It is important for them to see their crate as their “room”: a safe, comfortable place for them to rest. Cora caught on to that really fast:

cora resting in crateI leave the door open when she’s running free in the house so she can get in there to nap or just sit and watch me if she wants. We close it up to keep her in at night while we sleep and when we leave the property for long periods. Otherwise she’s free to roam because she has caught on to going outside to potty really fast – she may have been housebroken in the past.

Cora napping in the den snuggle bedShe still wants to be where I am and will follow me from room to room. But she’s getting better about not being so insecure and insistent of having my full attention every moment. She now will let me work — as long as she can see me. She is such a love!

January 21, 2017 by Cochise

Cora watching w BlondieCora is integrating nicely with our pack. She has started going on patrol with Blondie sometimes, and sometimes she stands watch with me. She rarely barks, but she’s watching all the time.

Cora watching w cochiseCora watching the woodsShe’s always subservient to us, staying out of the way and just watching, but is participating more and more. For a while her trips outside were just long enough to take care of her business, then a mad rush back inside. Unless HairyFace was outside, then she just follows him around everywhere he goes.

January 26th, 2017 by Doug

I’m working on Cora’s final hurdles before she can be declared a Really Good Girl and sent off for adoption. Those are being food frantic and being demanding about attention.

Cora is needy. She craves attention in the form of head scratching and petting. She has been a real nuisance about demanding attention from me all day long, everywhere I go, and during everything I do. Her main way to ask for attention was to paw at my leg. If I’m wearing heavy trousers, that’s just annoying, but if I’m in my PJs, it’s actually painful. She is now much better with this. If I’m standing, she comes to sit in front of me and stares with her big brown eyes until I pet her.

She is also doing better with the demanding thing. If I pet her for a minute or so then say, “That’s enough, go lay down.” she will comply most of the time. Also, she no longer needs to be right beside me all day long. The comforts of a proper snuggle bed will draw her into the next room if those in the room where I am are occupied. But she does track my movements!

Cora watching w cochiseShe is also comfortable around all of our current dogs, even going out on patrol with Cochise, and running with Gator.

We still feed her in her crate to keep her from raiding the other dog’s dishes. When the herd thins out a bit next week (transport day is coming up for Tinker and Bud) I’ll try allowing her to feed with the crate door open, then outside but separated from the others a bit and see if she can respect the rights of the others to finish their own meals.

Dental Exam

Cora’s teeth are in pretty bad shape. How bad is to be determined by vet this afternoon. I’m hoping all she needs is a good cleaning but she may have at least one that has gone rotten and will need to be extracted. We’ll see what the vet says and go from there.

Cora riding backwardsCora rode well, even though she insisted on sitting up front with me instead of the usual position in the jump-seat area. She found that sitting backwards on the seat provided more stability. Riding on the country roads was kind of boring.

cora finds town driving interestingBut once we got into town there was much more to see, what with all the cars, and buildings, and a few people out walking around.

When we got to the veterinarian, I took Cora for a walk and we went inside.

Cora wants to leaveWe waited quite a while for her turn. That’s normal anywhere we go. Cora said, “This place is scary, lets go home.” And THAT was just the waiting room. Once a few other dogs came in for her to look at (we all kept our dogs short-leashed to prevent … issues) she eased up a bit.

Cora being comfortedOf course, leaning against my leg while getting scritchies helps too!

Then we got called in for her exam.

The doctor says her teeth are nothing out of the ordinary for an older dog who has gone through some rough times … and (he said) she is, and she has. Her teeth are worn, some are broken, but they cause her no pain and they are still firmly rooted in her gums. There is some tarter but not enough to justify a teeth cleaning. A tooth-brushing regimen would do her good, but no work needs to be done. So … that’s good news!

January 31, 2017 by Doug

Gator, Cora, hanging outWhen Cora-Dora first arrived here, she seemed smitten with Gator. Of all the dogs who came out to say “hello” he was the one she sang and danced over. When they got their first play time together, it was minuscule because Gator tried too hard to impress Cora and it scared her. Since then they have worked out a pleasant friendship. They often hang out together. When one goes outside, the other wants to go too. Even if Cora has just come in when Gator goes out, she will go out again to be with him.

Gator and Cora are best friends, but he does lack a little in the social graces!

Cora wants the bigger roomGator and Cora have similar crates. Bud too for that matter, but his is much smaller. Gator uses an extra-large crate, which is just a couple of inches larger in each direction than Cora’s, but for the past three days, Cora has been taking every opportunity to hang out in Gator’s crate. Maybe it’s because she likes Gator, but I suspect she’s saying, “I want the bigger room. I’m a girl, I need the bigger room!”

February 3, 2017 by Doug

Crate scrubbingOur final day with Cora. While the dogs went out to enjoy the nice afternoon I broke down the crates Cora and Bud were using, scrubbed them out disinfectant and got them ready to go back into storage until needed again.

Cora tired of playing and came back inside to be with me. What I was doing to her “room” confused and upset her:

Bathing CoraWhen I was finished cleaning her crate I cleaned her. She was not happy about that but sat still and behaved in her usual, gentle, stoic manner.

I hoped she would stay clean until we left. She has a penchant for wallowing on her back in grass and dirt. She seemed to know something was up and stayed close to me all afternoon.

Last look at CoraThen I loaded Cora, Bud and Tinker into the truck and headed out to the transport staging. While other struggled to get their dogs into crates, I lifted Cora, front feet into her crate (stacked on top of another crate) and she hopped right up into the crate and lay down. She earned a few wide-eyed “wow”s from others in the building. Cora is a super-good girl. Ya just have to love that about her!

Parting Facts

Cora-Dora is an older dog. Her exact age is not known. But she is in great shape physically. She has a trim, well muscled body and does like to run and play. She is not, however, rowdy. When the circumstances suit, she is just as happy to wander around with a canine friend or a human.

She walks well on a leash. She knows, “come”, “sit”, “shake” (paw), “down” (4-on-the-floor), “go outside”, “go inside” “go lie down”, and “in your room” (go into crate). She also rides well in a car.

She is affectionate. She is less insistent about affections now and we encourage her next handler to be firm on this. No not respond to pawing or nose-bumping with immediate scritchies or petting. Have her sit or shake if you are willing to comply at that time, or tell her to go lie down if you are busy. When you are done, reward her with a good session of lovies.

Cora-Dora is food-centric but not food aggressive. She does try to snatch treats from the others when I’m handing them out, but a light rebuff will get her to back off. We have just begun allowing her to feed in an open crate so she can come out, and results have been mostly good. She investigates the bowls of others, but does not force her way in to steal their food.

She is accustomed to eating dry kibble. She’s not big on durable chew treats like bones or hooves, but does like Old Mother Hubbard dog biscuits and small meat treats like Waggles and Bullymake Chicken fillets.

She has bad breath so we use Greenies to help keep her teeth clean and reduce the smell. Her teeth have been examined by a vet, who declared that while worn by age and a hard life, no work needs to be done, not even a cleaning.

Cora-Dora is fully house-broken. She sleeps in a snuggle bed next to our bed at night. She is crate trained, but we only crate her when leaving the house for an extended time. We use a large Retriever transport box as her crate, with two soft blankets inside for cush. She likes it and often curls up in there on her own to nap when I’m in that room with her. She is non-destructive of her bedding.

Cora-Dora is a little shy at first. It appears she’s been through some rough times. But she is a sweet and lovable dog who will make an excellent companion for someone who needs company. She would not do well in a home where she would be left alone most of the day. I think you’d find she would act out from frustration.

We wish this sweet girl well as she embarks on the next leg of her journey to a forever home.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

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