In fact, he literally called me out, skillfully capturing my attention without resorting to the predictable old dog “bark.”
Instead, the fellow known as Caesar emitted a steady singsong of soft but persistent yelps, a peculiar enough sound to cut through the decibel range of eager Weimaraners hoping they’re the one for you, which greet a visitor to the Friends for Pets, Southern California’s Weimaraner rescue facility.
He actually did this four separate times.
In October, I had come by to pick up Baron, the extraordinarily well-behaved but agoraphobic Weim who I had been hosting for little breaks away from the facility for about a year.
Both when I arrived to get Baron and was then leaving with him, and then several weeks later when I was returning Baron, and then exiting alone, Caesar did his soft yelp routine.
He got my attention and I went to say hello.
He was standing at his full-length of about five and half feet long, and had placed his nose and mouth between a several-inch opening between the fencing and the wall of his personal space. He was smacking his lips. I went to pet him. He smiled – with a little whimper for good measure.
Alright, I closed my eyes and mouth and got my share of licks. Alright, I would give him a break in fostercare next time I was at Friends for Pets.
I asked, and soon learned his story. Without going into the grim detail, it can best be summarized by simply saying that he was found in the trash. He was emaciated. The pads of his paws were raw.
It was a Good Samaritan who discovered, sheltered and cared for Caesar for two weeks before placing him with Friends for Pets.
I retrieved Caesar on Tuesday, November 19 for his little vacation. Of course, part of the purpose of fostercaring is to not only give a dog some time in a home life but to also permit them time to relax, without being in a survival mode. They will soon enough display their essential traits, whether by nature or nurture.
Sometimes, Dogs have undergone experiences of such physical abuse, neglect, misuse, and lack of protection from other Dogs or Animals, that it leaves them traumatized to the point where they’re unable to ever fully recover.
Baron, for example, had smooth paws with no calluses, indicating he had never been walked. And sure enough he was flooded with fear the moment he stepped outside the house, despite his instinctive desire to do so. The conflict create a fear aggression in him towards even his own shadow. A home where the family is happy to keep him in the house will be the place for him.
And then, there are those like Caesar. He never permits any negative previous experience to impede his direct exercise of will to get what he wants.
Despite his neglect and starvation, this Dog is filled with trust, love, hope, affection and playfulness.
It’s as if he is going to make up for a puppyhood of playfulness that he missed out on.
A very willful playfulness that is.
What is fascinating about this fellow is the complete calmness he maintains around all other dogs, cats, squirrels and people.
One day in Larchmont, as I met with a friend for upwards of an hour, Caesar just stood there, slowly turning his head, following the faces of all the people passing by – just observing.
He’s the same on the tennis court. For a while, he took an interest in the yellow balls he couldn’t retrieve, as each zoomed back and forth over a net.
Then, he turned and noticed that through the fence there was a far larger ball to covet, a basketball.
And he just stood there observing a basketball game so intensely with his eyes, yet showing no excitable reaction.
It was as if he was studying interaction between the players because he was working for Animal Intelligence or something, the way he seems to observe and gather information on our species, to be unleashed as an emotional weapon against the likes of, oh…me.
Certainly, Caesar has more of an acute sense of the vibe of the human he is hanging with than almost any other dog I’ve ever spent time with.
He has clearly picked up on the fact that I am not a natural dictator – and that is a huge flaw in the presence of Weimaraners, a breed about which it was once said, “If you don’t exercise your will over a Weim, they will do it for you.”
In our first week together, he came over to me at my desk, placing his head on my knee an average of fifty times a day.
When I rub his head, he drops to the floor and turns on his back to have his stomach rubbed.
When he notices that I’ve stopped rubbing his head, he simply shifted it beneath my elbow to hang over the keyboard.
He is there to play – and you will play with him.
I put up a small door guard, so I could get some work done. Caesar will come to it, walk away and circle through all the rooms in the house, thinking this will be enough time for me to come to my senses – and returns for me to play with him.
And then there’s the game he’s developed of coming to the door guard – and dropping the ball over into my office, and staring intensely at me until I toss it. I played it. Until….
He scrambles for it insanely, whether thrown five inches or five feet.
And when its arc is across the room on the big old chair that was once Yeager’s throne, Caesar so madly leaped into it that the chair slid smoothly across the polished wood floor – and thru the tall, front French windows. Nice.
As advised by those at Friends for Pets, Caesar can find hours of fun in self-contented distraction by playing with toys. So I ferreted out all the old toys I had for Yeager – which never interested him.
Pull toys are best – it takes at least one hour to shred them into oblivion. Tennis balls work for a time – but he ravenously tears them into pieces.
Kong balls last a bit longer, since they have a cavity in which small biscuits and peanut butter have to be dug out.
Once the treats have been retrieved, however, Caesar belies the claim made on the Kong ball promise of being “practically indestructible.”
Hiking Caesar every day for at least an hour has been great for getting me out from the oblivion of this screen. I’s not as successful as I’d hoped for burning his energy so he returns a bit tired when we come home.
Most five year old dogs usually show some sign of mellowing. Not Caesar. He’s going to catch up and pack that lost puppy fun into every minute.
And he’s got the agility to do it.
A sofa, a desk, a dining room table is no impediment to the path he wills for himself. Why waste time walking around it when you can take on leap on, dash across and leap off it?
After two demonstrations of this, I am learning to hit the deepest note for “No!”
And he is learning to respond to that.
It’s clear that at some point earlier in his life someone had loved him enough to teach him good behavior. He responds well to hand signals.
But not to words.
He will settle into a self-disciplined “sit” on his own volition, when his dinner bowl is held up for a bit. But the verbal order to “sit” rarely moves him to do so.
He isn’t deaf, and while perhaps English wasn’t his first language, he’s definitely a bi-lingual Weim. He sure knows the words “walk” and “eat.”
There is so much to teach Caesar the Weimaraner. but his two primary behavioral problems are “good” ones: playing too much and wanting to show constant affection.
It will take more than the usual amount of foster-caring time to train him. It will likely take a lifetime.
This past Sunday, I faced the fact that I could no longer fostercare Caesar.
I had to adopt him.