Major FAS: Notes on a foster dog

This is a foster dog diary post about Major. New information will be added to the end of this post so all info on this dog is kept in one place and in chronological order. If you subscribe for updates, a short note will be sent when updates are posted. If you don’t subscribe, check back periodically to see what’s been added.

Last Updated: November 21

Major was a family dog.  I don’t know what changed in their family but on January 19, 2019 his family surrendered him to the local animal shelter, and his troubles were just beginning.

Base Info:

  • Arrival date: Sept. 9th
  • Breed: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog mix
  • Sex: Male
  • Age: Puppy, Young Adult, Mature, Senior
  • Weight: @ 60 Pounds
  • Neutered: Yes
  • General Health: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor
  • Temperament: Playful, affectionate, bouncy.  Occasional bursts of violence.
  • Gets Along with Dogs: Undecided
  • Gets Along with Cats: Unknown
  • Gets Along with People: Usually
  • Gets Along with Children: Undecided
  • Housebroken/Crate Trained: Yes
  • Departure date: November 21


Major’s family brought him to the Friends Animal Shelter in Newport to surrender him.  While they were there, Major appeared to be a happy, bouncy boy.  But when his family left him there and went away, Major became upset, then angry, then vicious.

The shelter asked me to come look at him and determine if they were going to have to destroy him.  Their staff was unable to handle him or clean his kennel.  I arrived with a pocket full of peanut butter dog treats.  Nearly all dogs love these things.  In about 20 minutes I had him calmly eating out of my hand.  I showed their Vet Tech, Carol, what I had done and how to handle him.  She continued these techniques and got him settled enough to place him up for adoption.

Except he was not adopted.  Nine months later, he’s still there and is showing signs of shelter psychosis.  And he gets vicious with some shelter staffers.  So they reached out to me once again, would I foster him to get him out of the shelter environment and help him regain his sanity?  Yes, of course I will help Major.

Progress Summary:

Detailed notes on this foster dog’s progress are posted below the summary.

Dog to Dog Behavior

  • Relates well to other dogs: Yes (everyone I’ve tried him with)
  • Can eat food/treats near other dogs: Yes

Dog to People Behavior

  • Is affectionate: Yes
  • Is good with:
    . Men: Yes
    . Women: Yes
    . Children: Unknown
  • Jumps up on people: Sometimes
  • Mouths: No
  • Walks well on a leash: Working on that (see Oct 14 below)

House Dog Training

  • Willingly enters his crate: Yes
  • Is calm/quiet while in crate: Yes
  • Understands going outside to potty: Yes
  • Alerts me of need to go outside: No Yes
  • Is destructive of bedding and/or toys: No
  • Refrains from kitchen counter cruising: No Yes
  • Stays off people furniture: No Yes


  • Comes when called: Yes
  • Sits on command: Yes
  • Down / Off: Yes
  • Shake / Paw: No
  • Kennels on command: Yes

Major’s Medical

  • DA2PP: 02/20/2019 (F.A.S.)
  • Bordatella: 02/20/2019 (F.A.S.)
  • Wormed: Dates | Product | Dose | By
    . 09/05/2019, Strongid, 6.5 ml, Friends Animal Shelter
  • Rabies: date (by) NEEDED
  • Neuter: Done prior to surrender
  • Heartworm Test: 09/05/2019, NEGATIVE, Friends Animal Shelter
  • Flea/Tick preventative:
    . date, product, dose
  • Heartworm preventative:
    . 09/13/2019, Ivermectin solution, 0.6 ml
    . 10/14/2019, Ivermectin/glycerine, 0.7 ml
  • NOTES:
    .  Showed signs of stress at the shelter, is aggressive with select staff members.  During assessment on 08/31 to 09/07 he responded well to both Marie and I on all visits.


4health Salmon and Potato recipe, 1½ cups AM, 1¼ cups PM.  I am underfeeding to get his weight down.


Progress Updates

In chronological order, newest at the bottom. Some pictures are linked to a more detailed Doggy Tale about that update, click those to open the related story.

Sept 8

I have visited with Major 3 times now and have had no trouble with him.  I can go into his kennel, pet him, hand him treats, and he will sit on command.  If I encourage play, he gets revved up quickly and can be a bit overwhelming.  He *needs* some room to run and a low stress environment.  He will get that on Monday.

Sept 9

I picked up Major today.  He gave me no trouble at all, in fact once I got my transport box inside his kennel I prepared to lure him into the box with treats.  But as soon as I opened the door, Major scooted inside and said, “I’m ready, lets go!”  Carol helped me load him up and he rode well on the trip home.

He enjoyed exploring our play yard and has settled into his room.  All the other dogs have come by to say “howdy” and no ugliness came of it.  We’re off to a great start.

Sept 10

Major responds well to the “come” and “sit” command.  Generally, even if he is all the way across the yard from me, if I call out “Major, COME!” he will come racing across the yard as though it is pure joy to comply.  The only exception so far has been if he’s “busy” either doing his business or seeking a place to do it, he will finish up and then come running.  That’s okay by me!

And let’s do a food aggression test …

Sept 12

Major has been here three full days now and has not once peed or pooped in his kennel.  I let him out every few hours during the day and he takes care of his needs in the yard.  I praise him for that, but he may well be housebroken already.

Major is also getting quite playful now that he’s settling in and getting to know the others.  He and Blondie Bear had their first play session.  Things were tense at first …

Sept 16

Major has not been especially, “frisky” when it comes to solo play time, either in his room or in the yard.  But this morning he decided to frisk things up a bit by tossing around his Benebone.

Sept 18

Major appears to have lost some weight: he’s got more of a waist to him now.  That might be why he’s more willing to run and play now.  That will only help speed the trimming down and toning up process.  He has an appointment at Cedarwood for a Rabies shot on Friday.  I’ll weigh him on their big scale then and see how he’s doing.  He has still kept his kennel immaculate.  He really wants to be a house dog again.

Sept 20

Major and I had a nice play session, then it was time to take him for his rabies shot.  He let me put a harness on him (better control than a collar should he need to be controlled) and I thought about letting him ride behind the seats, but he can get pretty bouncy, and with no one else around to help settle him, that could get dangerous.  I can’t drive and soothe a big bouncy dog.   So I decided to use the transport box.  I opened up the back of the truck and the door on the box and said, “In your room” and Major stood up, put his front feet on the tailgate, and hopped on his back feet.  He was willing but couldn’t get them up there, so I gave him a boost.  He didn’t like that, swing around and bit me on the face.

Puncture wounds this time, no flaps of skin hanging.  But his teeth hit my jaw bone, and that HURTS.

I put an ice pack on it and called the vet to cancel our appointment.  Then I notified the animal shelter of the incident, haven’t heard back from them yet.  Than I mopped the blood off the floor and went to sit down for a bit to just mash that ice pack onto my jaw and cheek.

When the bleeding had almost stopped I fixed a sandwich for lunch and rehashed the morning, looking for what I did wrong.  There are several things.  But to do them better would require more than just me being present.  That seems to be a recurring theme.

On the brighter side, when I let him out for his afternoon play, he responded to me as he always does, not appearing to be holding any animosity toward me.

Oct. 4th

It’s been two weeks since our unfortunate incident and there has been no more incidents of aggression.  In fact he has been responding to me as he always had before: a big happy, bouncy boy.

I want to try him at playing with some of the other dogs, but I need a helper to do that right, because if it goes badly it will go bad quickly with Major.

One thing I do have to give him credit for is that in the (almost) month he’s been here, he has always kept his kennel pristinely clean.  All I’ve ever had to remove from his floor is fur.  Major seems majorly housebroken.  I truly wish I knew if he could be trusted to to get cranky with the other dogs, I’m sure he’d be happier as a house dog and that would get him back on track faster.

He doesn’t spend a lot of time in the yard either.  He might linger more if he had a playmate but most times he goes out to take care of business, then is ready to go to his room and get his cookie.

Occasionally Blondie Bear with play with him a little, but she’s not into the rough and tumble play any more.

Oct. 11

Fur is all I ever remove from Major’s room.

This week has been just holding steady for Major.  No hint of aggression, keeping his room immaculate, playing well with Blondie, and showing signs that he’d like to play with Rosco.

The cool weather makes him bouncier than ever and he’s doing more running.  The running is good, the bouncing can be a little intimidating.  I think he’s picking some of that up from Rosco.  Rosco has the bad habit of running around me, jumping up and nipping my hands to get my attention.  Major’s picking up Rosco’s bad habit.  But when I push him away and say, “down!” he does settle.  Once he’s staying down I’ll pet him.

Oct. 14

Major is still dedicated to keeping his kennel clean.  He is doing better at leash walking, and was calm during his petting session today.

Nov 11

The past month has seen improvement in Majors leash walking skills, and regression on his people interaction skills.  He’s gone back to jumping up on me, something I had him broken of.  I’m pretty sure this is because he sees Rosco doing it and getting attention from is — even if it is a scolding.  I need to spend more quality time just hanging out with Major.

He seems to want to play with the other dogs, but his body language is hard to read: not sure if it play or a fight he’s after.  But he IS quite the Homebody.  He likes his room, appreciates the blankets and cushions, and keeps his room clean and tidy.  He really should be an in-the-house dog.  If only I could be sure what his intentions toward the others are.

Nov. 21

It was getting really cold at night a while back and I crated Major in the bunkhouse from 9:00 PM until breakfast time at 6:00 AM.  He really liked being inside and eagerly looked forward to settling into his crate for the night.  Once the cold snap was past I continued crating him at night, just because he did like it so much and was so good in his crate.

Last night was no different from any other: I took him in ahead of the other two, when we got through the building door I let go of his lead and closed the door while Major scooted into his crate, turned around and plopped down ready to receive his cookie after I retrieved the slip-lead and closed the crate door.  Only this time when I reached in for the lead he bit me!  Viciously.  Not a playful nip gone awry.  Blood was pouring out of my hand (graphic image), so I secured Major’s crate door, scolded him briefly, then went in my house to make repairs before moving the other two dogs inside.

I notified the Friends Shelter of the incident and asked them to come pick him up.  Obviously, I’m not making the progress with him that I thought I was.

I was going to leave him in his crate this morning but, not knowing when or if anyone was coming for him — and knowing that needing to “go” and being crated would SERIOUSLY stress him out, I decided to move him to his kennel for breakfast, then allow his morning potty run – just like always.  He did fine until I tried to pop the buckle on his collar (wanted to salvage the collar and tag) and he snapped at me again.  He missed.  I’ll sacrifice the collar and tag.

When Elishia (Shelter Manager) and crew arrived with a large trap to transport him in, he went into the box warily but once the door was closed and he was trapped he was baring his teeth and snarling at everyone.

The shelter staff all had a good cry this morning while they prepared.  I’m feeling sick to my stomach for having failed him.  Most of the time Major was a big, bouncy, happy boy.  But that tendency to suddenly lash out without warning or apparent cause is deeply disturbing.  We hoped that some resort time at Piney Mountain would allow him to de-stress and recover.  But, as Elishia put it, “When he lost his family it broke him, and he’s just not getting over that.”

Rest in peace, Major, may you find happier times over the Rainbow Bridge.

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