Gator Steele: Notes on a rescue dog

This is a foster dog diary post. Updates will be added to the end of this post rather than posted as a myriad of individual posts. That keeps all updates on Gator in one place and in chronological order.

The last update was posted: March 28, 2017 (photo gallery)

Individual Adventures:

Gator’s Background

Being a Staffie, Gator needs a lot of attention and affection. He is happy to give the same, as well. He apparently wasn’t getting that where he was living and be broke out of his fencing and went adventuring.

Near where he lived was a hospital. Gator found the hospital and discovered that if he approached the E.R. doors, they’d open for him. So he trotted in, sat down by the admissions desk and gave the receptionist his biggest smile.

The staff loved on him for a bit, then got him into a room and called animal control to come pick him up and get him back home.

His owner retrieved him (paying a fine for his being a “dog at large”), fixed the fencing and put him back inside. Things were okay for a while. Then Gator got lonely again and decided to go visit his new friends at the hospital.

They laughed when he again came trotting in with his big goofy grin, “Hi ladies, I’m back! Pet me?”

Once again they contained him and called animal control.

In all, this scene was repeated FIVE times over an unspecified period of time. He was becoming a regular!

After the fifth time, the owner gave up, admitted he could not control Gator, and surrendered him to the local shelter. The shelter set about finding a rescue that would take him in so he would not end up being destroyed.

Steele Away Home Canine Foster and Rescue (Website, Facebook) accepted him and Amy drove to Campbell county to pick him up and bring him back to one of their foster homes. Unfortunately, that foster didn’t have any more luck containing him than his former owner had and the foster mom called Amy to come help retrieve her escapee.

GatorAmy arrived, stepped out of her vehicle and asked where Gator was last seen. At that moment a blur galloped out of the nearby woods and leaped into her car, perched in the passenger seat and said, “Let’s RIDE!”

Gator LOVES to ride!

They both laughed at the easy resolution of that problem!

Amy called me, explained the situation, and asked if we could take him in. Our foster care facility is sometimes called The Rock because of our heightened security measures. He has been here since (no escapes).

January 2 at 5:06pm · by Cochise

Having the ability to run and play in a yard has been good for Gator. He has lost most of the “pudge” around his waist and the muscles in his legs are developing and looking defined. He’s no Muscle Monster, but he’s looking more buff and healthy.

Jan. 4, 2017 by Cochise

Gator has been learning to be more settled when playing indoors (he tended to be excited and bouncy bashing into us and things and causing conflicts). Usually he gets indoor play time while the rest of us — or most of us — are outside. Today we were all outside together (except Jazzy, she was crated) and Gator came in first, so he got a play time. As the rest of us came to the door, Gator came to greet each of us then bounced back to his toys. It all went well until Blondie engaged in some thievery that astonished Gator.

January 7, 2017 by Cochise

Gator is SO silly! No one can say he didn’t comply with instructions.

HairyFace prefers that we go out into the yard to do our business. Gator is not fond of snow, so he tends to go no farther than he must to pee. But, when given instructions, he does like to comply if he can. He just has his own way of interpreting those instructions:

January 9, 2017 by Cochise

Gator’s morning routine:
When the Peoples are up, Gator goes outside to pee. If it’s cold or wet out he will travel the minimum distance required (often just around the corner of the house to be out of sight from the back porch. Then it’s back inside for breakfast.

A while after breakfast he goes out again to take care of the full spectrum of doggie business. For that he likes to get as far away from the house as he can. Then: (especially if it’s cold or wet)

January 14, 2007 by Doug

Gator seems smitten with Cora. Cora is a leggy lass with an athletic build. She’s fun to be around too, so I’m not surprised by his interest.

Every time Gator goes out into the yard he makes it a point to go touch noses with Cora. She seems eager to see him too. Sometimes he pees on the fencing of her pen.

I wonder if when a boy dog pees on a girl dogs pen he’s saying, “I cannot be with you now, my darling, but I’ll leave with you an aromatic reminder of myself.” It seems revolting to me, but may be the canine version of the human practice of bringing her flowers.

January 18, 2017 by Doug

Gator is gaining more and more indoor free-play time. He is settling down nicely and, while still playful, he is more respectful of the space the other dogs occupy.

Yesterday evening we had all 6 dogs loose in the living area. Some chose out of the way spots to rest while Gator commandeered the play area, but all were available and Gator would occasionally wander away from the toys to explore and seek out the others. he’d find them, he’d sniff them, he’d move on. No problems, even with Bud (who has been timid around big dogs). It all went well until he took a special interest in Cora, and she in him.

There has been a special attraction between these two since she arrived, as noted in previous entries, but interactions have been less than civil. I’m sure his intent is play, but he comes on too strong and it spooks Cora. It was too dark to video that play session, but I got this clip from their play time this morning. Same thing.

Cora ends up cowering in her crate (safe place) while I snag Gator. He is immediately put back in his crate and closed in, ending the play session. He learns to hold to good behavior because bad behavior ends his fun. That works better than anything I’ve tried with any of our dogs.

January 20, 2017 by Doug

Gator gets along with everyone. Any who have had issue with him are those who are intimidated by his happy, bouncy personality. But that is always his playful nature, not aggression.

However, he is not a respecter of dogs: he does expect to have things his way and if others get miffed by that, well …

January 21st, 2017 by Doug

Gator trying to look innocentMarie is baking home-made cookies this afternoon. Gator is being tortured by the smells of the cookies baking. He wants to be out of his crate, ostensibly to play in the living room. But when Marie let him out to play before she started baking, he tended to be a problem. Recently he has discovered that there is sometimes edible stuff up on the counters — and in the fridge. Gator is a lot faster than one might think when he’s doing a dash-n-grab on the fridge or a counter and once he’s got something you will NOT get it back. Maybe bits of it. So we have to be careful about letting him wander freely in the house.

Fresh baked cookiesWhile Marie was cooking, Gator was whining and crying so I took him outside. He peed and dashed back to the door. I led him back to the play area, which is stocked with chew bones and a Kong. He made a show at chewing for a while, then wanted to go “wandering” in the kitchen. “Oh, no! Not on your life, i know what will happen if you get out there with those cookies!

He tried hard to play innocent, but I wasn’t buying it.

January 24th, 2017 by Doug

Last week we received a Bullymake Box in the mail. I’ve done a review post on that, so I won’t cover much of that again here. I do want to share that Gator has enjoyed these toys immensely. Bullymake’s main thrust is providing toys for power chewers — like Gator.

Gator and the YUP Half-ballThis day started out cool and gray, so the dogs all pretty much stayed indoors as much as they could. But by early afternoon the sun came out and everyone was eager to get out and play in it. Gator too.

But after a half-hour or so, Gator decided he’d rather go inside and play with his toys. Yesterday I broke out the Tri-Chew toy for him and that held his attention almost all day. Today I got out the YUP Half-Ball.

Gator and the YUP Half-BallThis is one of those toys where I poke some sort of treats through a hole in the toy and the dog has to try and figure out how to get them out again. I put two medium sized dog cookies in there and bounced it across the living room for him to chase. It bounces nicely.

That kept him busy for over two hours. Then he came around and wanted head scritchies and lovin. Gator is not a cuddler, and sometimes is far more interested in playing than getting affection, but he’s warming up to the whole idea.

January 26, 2017 by Doug

Gator is making progress with his house manners. A big issue has been bad behavior while allowed to wander the house on free-play. To keep him out of mischief I had to confine him to the play area. Then I’d close doors to the bedroom,, the den, and the hall bathroom (AKA The Kibble Treasury) and allow him closely monitored time in the living room and kitchen; correcting him when he ventured into bad behavior like counter cruising, taking an unhealthy interest in Marie’s potted fern, or eyeballing the sofa as a resting place. And, of course, whisking him outside if he began “seeking” which usually means he needs to relieve himself.

This morning Gator got a long free-play time while Marie went into the back to get dressed for work and I fixed breakfast. Thus no one was hovering over him. He was no more inquisitive or intrusive than any of the other dogs, and he was open to simple commands, even while I was setting up the kibble bowls. Lil Bud says, “Leave him to me. I’ll show him how it’s done.” Bud is qualified for that task!

January 27, 2017 by Cochise

Gator being goodGator says, “Being a Good Boy is fun. I get to hang-out with the other good dogs and The Peoples instead of being in my room all the time. I like being a Good Boy”.
It took him a while to get past the impulsive, self-gratification thing but once he caught on to the idea of living as part of a community, he’s learning fast.

January 29th, 2017 by Doug

Gator got to go for a ride with me yesterday. I needed to make a delivery and Gator hasn’t gone for a ride for some time. He was due. He loves to ride, and he’s funny too:

Gator rides 1
Before we start, you DO know what you’re doing, right?
Gator ride 2
Go faster, go faster! That one is getting away!
Gator Ride 3
MMmmmm … can we stop THERE? Smells Yummy!
Gator ride 4
Ya know … I think we’re being followed. That car has been behind us for at least a mile.
Gator ride 5
Hey, why did we stop? I don’t like stop. Let’s do “go” some more.

Fear not my friend, once I unload this stuff we’ll be back on the road to get home again. And while we were there, he got some loving from Miss Amy, one of his favorite people. It was a good day for Gator.

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. Gator has calmed down and no longer intimidates the other dogs. He never TRIED to intimidate them, but just being big and bouncy, and playful had that effect on them.

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

Yesterday morning Gator awoke with a disturbing, rattly cough. Through the morning it got steadily worse, and that afternoon I took him to see our vet and have him looked at. Dr. Kline listened carefully to his heart and lungs, and did not hear anything that would point to heart disease or pneumonia. Both are concerns for us since he is undergoing treatment for heartworm.

They sent us home with a prescription for Prednisone to dry up his lungs and help his body fight off whatever is ailing him. This morning the cough is gone and he’s feeling perky again. We also got an accurate weight on him: 69 pounds.

February 2, 2017 by Doug

Gator’s cough is much better after just a couple days on his Prednisone and he’s got his energy back.

I chastise the dogs for “doing their business” on our walkway: that is not officially “out in the yard”. But this morning it IS raining.

I suppose I’m fortunate he will go outside at all. The Blonde Dogs are still holding out on that! Gator is pretty good about this, he just doesn’t like to spend any more time than he has too at it. Note too that his entry is much calmer now. He used to bolt through the door and race around (often stepping on Tinker, who tends to lay in the hallway) until he settled in the play area. Calm is better.

February 4, 2017 by Doug

Gator ready to dine on a blanket Gator says, “Now that there are vacancies around the table, I’m ready to become a blanket boy.”

He is doing well at learning his house manners. He is calmer: he rarely moves through the house in a skittering gallop anymore. He knows which rooms are off limits. Knows – doesn’t always conform, but he knows. And he’s even getting lovie and cuddly.

The one big issue is his impulsive grabbing of food and treats. That disqualifies him for dining on a blanket around the table. For now. But we hold hope that this too will come under self-control.

He does like to discuss breakfast with me:

But even this is far more conversational and less demanding than it has been before.

Gator has learned to scratch at the door to be let outside or to be let inside. This makes it less anxious for us because Gator will signal us when he has need, we don’t have to eyeball him constantly to see if he looks like he’s “seeking” and lead him to the door.

When Cochise wants to come in he gives us one, loud bark as a signal. But if Gator barks too, then Cochise has to bark again to get the last word. This morning they got into a contest until they forgot why they’re barking, but they are barking so there must be a reason. Watch Gator’s eyes, you can plainly see him wondering what they’re barking at:

Gator: oven monitorThat evening Gator was “helping” me with the evening’s home-made pizza. He was afraid I was going to burn it!

February 5, 2017 by Doug

Gator got to “meet” Spencer, our newest foster dog, yesterday. First meetings are always done through a fence and with me at a distance. The fence prevents injury if hostilities break out and me being at a distance prevents our dogs from feeling they need to defend me from the newcomer.

Each time Gator went outside he wandered over to Spencer’s pen and stood looking at him in amazement. No hostility, just amazement.

This afternoon Marie had Spencer out for a long afternoon play and training session. Gator kept close watch on them from the living room window.

February 8, 2017 by Doug

Bagtor likes bacon
Is that BACON you’re cooking?

It’s Wednesday, so I fixed bacon and eggs for breakfast. Gator was particularly interested in the fruits of my labor. gator DOES like bacon!

Don’t worry, he got some.

Being a less than ideal day weather-wise, we spent extra time hanging together indoors.

Gator big bone
I love my big bone
I’m tired of chewing.
I think I’ll just rest my eyes for a minute…

Gator caught his reflection in the fireplace doors. From the way he was staring I suspect he’s thinking, “Who is that handsome fellow in that window?”

A thunderstorm moved in just after we went to bed. Gator got antsy just before it arrived. I wasn’t sure what he was fussing about so I gave him a drink of water. He wasn’t interested. So I took him outside to potty. He only wanted back in, so I put him back in his crate and went back to bed.

Then the lightning and thunder started, and Gator got frantic: clawing at the crate door and crying loudly.

Gator in the stormBlondie Bear is scared of thunderstorms too. She was already at my bedside asking for scritchies. So I went out to the living room, moved a futon dog bed over by the sofa for Blondie, moved Gator’s crate over by the sofa and stretched out there for the night.

Having us right there calmed Gator. He sat upright: refusing to lay down, but he was quiet and sitting still. When the light show stopped, Gator lay down and we all drifted off to sleep.

February 10, 2017 by Doug

Gator has decided he does not like me taking pictures and video of him. Many dogs, perhaps most dogs, feel this way. A few, like Jasper, are hams and enjoy the extra attention. A few, like Boomer, are extra camera shy and go to lengths to avoid it. gator is just annoyed by it.

But he joins Blondie in her preference to avoid the puparazzi.

Last night Marie brought home a new chewie; something special for Spencer’s first night in a crate (at our home, he’s been crated before). During a potty break, Gator stole Spencer’s chewie from his crate. He does that.

This morning, after potty breaks, Gator lost that chewie to Blondie Bear and wasn’t interested in any of the other chews, so he went to his room to sit quietly and wait for breakfast.

That’s something new for him, he prefers to be supervising me as I cook. He’s getting to be SUCH a good boy!

February 26, 2017 by Cochise

Last Friday, HairyFace told me, “I have to work Saturday morning, so we’ll do our weekly trash run today, okay, Chief?” That was fine with me: I don’t care which day we do it as long as I get a truck ride out of it. Blondie and Gator feel the same way.

Last week Gator was petulant about not getting to sit up front. That’s because the week before he forced his way up to sit next to me on the front seat. I do NOT like sharing my seat and told him so, bu he stayed where he was, so I just dealt with it. But last week, Hairy shortened Gator’s tether to keep him in back. So he pouted.

This week, he was better adjusted about the whole thing and all four of is had a pleasant trip.

Gator is sleepy but well behavedGator is also doing really well with the after-dinner part of the day. After he eats he gets out of his crate, goes outside and then gets to play in the Picture-box Watching Room while the People’s do whatever they need to do that evening. In the past he’d get rowdy as bedtime approached and he got tired. Now he’s doing much better about just sacking out on a bed and napping when he’s tired. He also does not feel he has to be trying to destroy all the chew toys all the time. He often just sits and watches things going on.

He’s almost ready to try sleeping in a snuggle bed at night instead of his crate. Almost.

February 28, 2017 by Cochise BigDog

There are boomer noises in the sky today. Gator is even more frightened by sky boomers than Blondie Bear is. If you can imagine that.

Gator safety in numbersWhen the ferocity of the sky eases up, Gator is okay with the “safety in numbers” theory of self-preservation, as long as HairyFace is right there too. If Hairy gets up to go get more coffee, Gator and Blondie shadow him. Me: I’m cool. If they rattle the windows I’ll jump up barking to scare them away, but otherwise … I’m cool.

Gator hidey holeWhen things ratchet up, Gator looks for some small place to squeeze into (which is odd since he goes nuts in his crate). Most often he ends up under Hairy’s desk — along with Hairy’s legs. A bit ago Gator tried to crawl UNDER the cedar chest. The space under the chest is only 2 inches high, but Gator was determined to make it until Hairy redirected him.

Once, when the rain and boomers eased up a bit Gator started “seeking” so Hairy asked if Gator wanted to go outside. To his credit, Gator went to the door. Hairy had to go with him (and Blondie anxiously met them at the door upon their return) but Gator did go out and find a fence to pee on. Some dogs (ahem, Blondie) would insist on holding it until the weather cleared out completely. Gator’s a good boy!

March 6, 2017: The Gator Gallery

Gator is sleepy but well behaved
Loves his peanut butter bone Eager for Breakfast On Watch Weather watcher: Rain clouds approaching!

March 6, 2017 by Doug

Valentina has been joining Gator a long periods of inside free-play. Mostly she wandered around sniffing stuff. When she finally decided to settle, it left Gator without a place to snooze. What to do, what to do? He could just flop down and force her out: he’s been known to do that. But he’s been working on his getting along skills, so …

Val and Gator spent a lot of time together today: playing in the yard and playing indoors. Neither has spent much time in their crates at all today. They are getting along very well now that Valentina has stopped “nipping” at Gator.

March 17, 2017 by Cochise

The Triangle

When Valentina arrived, Gator took to her immediately and they became fast friends. They ran and played in the yard. They were always eager to go in and go out together.

When Ilo arrived, Valentina spent time playing with him. Ilo would sprint with her. They would run and chase each other far longer than Gator could manage. Valentina liked both Gator and Ilo.

But Gator became jealous of the time Val spent with Ilo and began speaking harshly with Ilo at every meeting. He also allowed his frustration to show through with Valentina. She took exception and offered sharp retorts. Their friendship broke down.

It’s sad what jealousy does.


Gator is crate trained and housebroken. Mostly. For some reason he seems to equate carpeting with grass — watch him on carpets (NOTE as of 3/17 he is doing better, no recent incidents). Gator sleeps in his crate, and will sleep the night through if he goes outside to pee before bed (around 9:00 in our house). He will fuss if he needs to go out. He is gentle on his bedding and will occupy himself well if you put a chew toy in with him.

Gator will walk on a leash and will do a nice job of it as long as he’s not determined to go somewhere. Use a very short leash, or better yet a harness with a handle on it. Walking beside him says that YOU are in charge, allowing him to go out fronts says that he is in charge and you will follow his lead.

Gator is not food aggressive, but he is grabby of food and treats. He is getting better, but will need more work on controlling that impulse. He can now come watch me dish up kibbles and will sit politely and watch instead of bucket-diving. I give him a few kibbles as a reward. He is food-fixated and will steal things off your counters if you are careless. We have lost two loaves of bread and a pan of muffins off the counters and a quarter of a pizza from the fridge.

Gator is good with other dogs. He will play too rowdy if invited to do so. But he can also enjoy a good run. He’s a friendly fellow and likes to be part of the group, be it human, canine, or mixed. We don’t know how he is with cats as we have no cats.

He should be fine with older kids: those old enough to know not to yank on his ears or sit on him. He’s a little sensitive about being “abused” and will mouth as a warning.

His favorite toys are durable chew bones and toys. Beef hooves, Kong and Bullymake have been good toys for him. Plush toys are extremely short lived! A section of beef leg bone with peanut butter inside will keep him busy for quite a while.

His preference is to be inside, especially if that’s where the people are. He is affectionate and has become a cuddler. As is typical of Pibbles, he is devoted to his people.

Gator is a cry-baby. If he wants something, you’ll know it! But he’s a sweet fellow who just wants to be loved.

Commands he knows:

  • Come
  • Sit
  • Down (4 on the floor)
  • In Your Room (crate or pen)
  • Go Inside (house)
  • Go Outside
  • Be Nice (we use this to remind him when getting a treat not to take my fingers off too.)
  • Go Run (used when exercising him)

Happy Ending

Gator has been ADOPTED!

Gator and his ladies

Want to help
save lives?

If you enjoy our updates, Doggy Tales, and educational articles consider subscribing for notices when new pieces are posted. It’s painless and you can unsubscribe any time you want. Your e-mail address is used ONLY to deliver these notices. [email-subscribers namefield=”YES” desc=”” group=”Public”]
Cochise’s Terrible, Horrible, No-good, Rotten Day
Life at The Rock