Spencer 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 as a myriad of separate posts so all information on Spencer is right here and in chronological order. This should help potential adopters and rescues easily learn about this dog.

Last updated: February 20, 2017

SpencerSpencer Steele is a black Labrador mix. Mixed with what is unknown: Mastiff? Bear? Clydesdale? Something big and sturdy!

He is 8 to 10 months old right now. We have been told he is active. Maybe too active. That makes him hard to handle. That makes him unadoptable. So he’s coming to Piney Mountain for a little behavioral modification.

Spencer’s Background

Spencer was adopted from the Hamblen County Animal Shelter as a wee babe by a young couple who wanted a dog that would be a long-term member of their family and companion for the children. But Spencer grew, and grew, and grew! Fearing that an 85 pound puppy bounding around their home would pose an unacceptable risk to their young children, they sought to re-home Spencer. That’s where Steele Away Home Foster and Rescue came on the scene.

Spencer’s primary issue is that, like so many puppies, he was not trained while little, so he still acts like a bouncy little puppy even though he’s bigger than many full grown dogs.


He is in excellent as far as we can tell. He is neutered. We haven’t seen a heartworm test, but his nails are short, his coat is great, and there are no injuries or scars. He is neither malnourished nor pudgy. I’d guess his weight at 80 – 85 pounds.

His play times for this first day were spent, as most dogs do, just exploring the play yard: nose to the ground. He is affectionate and responsive. He appears quite bright too. He will do well, we just need to channel his energy.

Spencer did get to meet our other dogs today:

February 5, 2017 by Doug

Spencer the Lap Dog

I worked with Spencer several times on Saturday, mostly helping him get acquainted with the play yard.

Marie worked with him for a long time Sunday afternoon. We agree that he is kindly and eager to please, but unaware of his size.

Using calming techniques, we both were able to engage in acceptable interaction with him.

February 7, 2017 by Doug

We had intermittent rain today. Fortunately, Spencer is not at all bothered by wet ground or even light rain. When it cut loose and poured, we sought shelter …

February 10, 2017 by Doug

It got cold yesterday and Spencer’s first morning play session was fast-paced as he raced around to warm up.

Spencer Camping
Spencer prefers to camp-out

Spencer is not using his dog house. He prefers to sleep on his Coolaroo (topped with a blanket) out in the open. Some dogs are like that: they need to be able to see around them, even if it means being less comfy than they might be in their dog house.

Spencer’s pen does have a roof over it, so he is protected from the dew and drizzle we get at night.

That evening, during Spencer’s last play period of the day, I took Blondie Bear (one of our mentor dogs) out for formal introductions and — if that went well — a play session.

I kept Spencer on a leash. Normally both dogs would be leashed and with a handler. Blondie Bear (being a Pittie/Lab mix) is so gentle and kind that I can get away with her being loose while I control the newbie dog. If it goes badly, Blondie will step away from the fray and let me deal with the disorderly dog.

After taking turns sniffing butts and a little nose touching, they began to invite one another to play with play-bows and bouncing around. There was no sign of aggression or defensiveness on either dogs part. If either dog had said, “No, I don’t want to.” this would have ended and Blondie would go back inside while I exercised Spencer, but it went well and we proceeded.

They played until nearly dark.

The weatherguessers are calling for temperatures in the low 20’s tonight. That’s too cold for Spencer to be outside, even if he would use the dog house. He needs to be indoors for tonight, it will warm up again tomorrow.

Spencer in his roomI had to do some swapping around, but Spencer did just fine being crated in our house overnight. He spent the evening with us, had dinner in his crate, went outside to pee before bedtime, slept peacefully all night, went out again the next morning (and took care of all of his business), had breakfast in his crate, and is sitting calmly and quietly now as I work. Once the temperature outside gets up above freezing he can go back to his pen to enjoy the added freedom, fresh air, and sunshine today should bring. He and Blondie may now play together any time they wish.

I’ll introduce him in similar manner to Cochise and Gator (one at a time) over the weekend when I have Marie as a second handler … just to be safe.


Spencer and Cochise got along fine. Spencer tried to get Cochise to play with him and The Chief ignored him as long as Spence was bouncing and bowing in a circle around him. When Spence jumper ON Chief, Cochise scolded him and he wandered away.

Gator wanted to play rough too. It got too loud too fast and we slammed the door on that. Surprisingly, we got a similar reaction with demure, little Valentina and Spencer. I think she likes him.

February 18, 2017 by Doug

I have been asked for more photographs of Spencer (not videos). I live to serve. Click the thumbnails to enlarge each photo:

. Relaxing in his room

I’ve left room for a few more in this gallery and will fill those spots as I get some different shots of him in the next few days.


We just got the word that Spencer has been accepted by Eleventh Hour Rescue in New Jersey and he will be leaving us to go there this coming Friday (February 24, 2017). So it is time to summarize Spencer’s progress.

Crate Trained?

Yes. He remains calm and quiet except when he needs to go out. Spencer prefers to spend the night crated inside with the family. He is not fussy at bed time, sleeps through the night, and is not an early riser. At least not by our standards.

House Broken?

No. Not yet, we’ve been working on that, so he understands the concept but is not yet committed to it.

Gets along With Other Dogs?

Yes. We’ve had one incident of him being food-aggressive. Valentina scooted her dish of canned dog food too close to the fencing separating their pens. They both got snarly when Spencer tried to tell her he wanted it and she wasn’t giving it up (even if she could: the chain link prevents that). I don’t blame her, she was so starved her bones poked out all over. He has not done that any other time, but I generally feed him in his own space: pen or crate.

Spencer likes to play and he likes to play rowdy. Small dogs or dogs that don’t like rowdy play may take exception to Spencer, but he is not the least bit aggressive toward them (except as noted above).

Gets Along With Children?

Unknown. But we don’t see why not. He may be too bouncy for small children. NOTE: It has been our experience that “bouncy” dogs tend to calm down once the newness and excitement of being loose in the house wears off. I fully expect this will be the case with Spencer.

Gets Along With Cats?

Unknown. We don’t have cats. He is interested when a free-range cat wanders by the yard, but he does not get revved up like some others do.

Will He Walk On a Leash?

Yes. Spencer can walk on a leash, but make it a short one. For him, a loop handle with a clip on it works best.

Commands he knows:

  • Come
  • Sit
  • Down (4 on the floor)
  • Go Outside (to the yard)
  • Go Inside (the house)
  • Go Run (Used to initiate exercise. How far and how long he runs varies with his mood. Sometimes it’s a couple of laps around our play yard, other times it’s one loop around the nearest bush or tree, then he’s back sitting in front of me saying, “Now what?”)
  • In your room (used with crate and pen)

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”]
Bullymake Box Brings Treats for Our Gang
The Great Crate Swap