Roscoe: Police Dog Wannabe

Roscoe is a large, powerful “pit bull” who has been a long time resident of Newport Animal Control (Tennessee). Because of breed specific prejudice, “pit bull” type dogs are often less adoptable than other breeds. Although this is completely undeserved.

Roscoe’s presence here is different from most dogs we care for because he continues to reside at N.A.C. but comes here for Day Camp sessions to be evaluated and trained for application to the Universal K9 program, which trains “pit bulls” to be police dogs and is funded by the Animal Farm Foundation, Inc.

When I first met Roscoe, I have to say, he was frightening.

As I stood outside his kennel at N.A.C. he was in full-blown defensive mode: his barking and body language indicated that he’d happily tear me to pieces if I would only be so kind as to open his door. I left the door closed and fed him cookies through the wire mesh. It was the same for several successive visits. Roscoe would soften a little after a couple of cookies, but remained on high alert.

When N.A.C. was accepted as a feeder agency for Universal K9, Roscoe was their top candidate for application to that program. To apply, he needed to be videotaped performing two tasks that displayed his ability to remain on-task. Universal K9 would take care of all other training, but they only accept dogs who will take to their training through a natural ability to focus.

Roscoe visited Piney Mountain Foster Care twice: the first was a single day a little over a week ago. This was mostly to let him get acquainted with our facility and the other dogs here. That went extremely well. Even while at N.A.C., when I asked him if he wanted to come home with me, it seemed he understood and calmed down.

I went inside his kennel, gave him another cookie (never under estimate the power of treats), and petted him a bit before clipping on a leash. That made him happy! He was ready to go.

That day we had fine weather. Roscoe met all the other dogs and there were no fireworks between any of them. Roscoe used the kennel of a foster dog who was out that day being neutered. He was not happy about his confinement periods (so other dogs could use the play yard — I wasn’t confident enough yet to let them all run together) but his behavior was typical for a newly arrived dog. When free to run in the yard he spent most of the first day just sniffing and peeing on things in the yard. That too is perfectly normal for a new arrival.

Roscoe’s second visit was for the weekend after a foster dog left us to go on transport out East. Unfortunately, the weather was not nice this time. Friday evening was okay, but on Saturday it rained all day. We did get some short sessions in during the morning when we got a break or at least the drizzle eased up a bit, but Roscoe was not fond of rain so his yard sessions were short, and ended with him standing at the gate to where I park my truck, “I’m ready to go home now. Please take me back home where I can stay indoors. I don’t like ‘camping’ anymore.”

On Sunday the rain eased off but it got cold. There was a freeze warning out for Sunday night. Roscoe has short fur that offers little protection from the cold. Even in an igloo style dog house with blankets to snuggle into, he was going to be uncomfortable.

Sunday afternoon, Marie and I accomplished Roscoe’s U.K9 trial video.

His behavior with Marie, as well as with me; and his attitude toward all the other dogs, made us think it would be okay to bring him inside our home Sunday night. He would be going back to N.A.C. Monday morning. We could use Buddy Beagle’s crate for Roscoe since Buddy no longer sleeps in a crate. Buddy had an opinion about that plan.

Buddy eventually calmed down. Roscoe was a perfect gentleman all evening. He slept all night, not waking me to go out until 3:30 am. Even then he was subtle about it, not waking anyone but me (and Buddy, who needed to supervise). We went out, he peed, we came back inside. No fuss, no bother. He got a drink from the water dispenser and went back to his crate. Buddy needed to come check on Roscoe, but did so calmly, then went back to his bed. Roscoe went back to sleep and I went to the den to do my daily Bible study.

Our assessment of Roscoe is that despite being around 100 pounds of muscle, he is gentle and caring. When on a leash he does pull like a John Deere. But when playing in the yard with us he is careful not to smash into our legs like some dogs do. When he came inside to be crated he was making some soft sounds. Marie said, “I thought he was whining, like he needed something, but he’s just singing. He’s happy to be inside and have a blanket to lie on.”

He likes being petted and getting scritchies. He loves tennis balls! He is playful. He is smart and will train well. Roscoe has the potential to be a Really Good Boy.

NOTE: Roscoe was not accepted by Universal K9, and no one has shown interest in adopting him locally. So Roscoe is back at Piney Mountain, but this time as a Steele Dog. Come follow his continuing adventure.

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