Champ was born on a stormy Halloween night in 2001. His litter was birthed in an indoor run at the animal shelter, a few spaces away from a dog that had been brought in covered in mace after mauling its owner. The shelter water was dirty and the puppies contracted giardia. Champ's mom was feral and the puppies took after her, scattering when the shelter brought in children to socialize the litter. It wasn't the best start, so it shouldn't have been a big surprise that Champ began life with some issues.
Champ has always been suspicious of humans, especially men. He's odd around children, unless they are raised with him, so we avoid small strangers. It's a little embarrassing when people ask me if he was adopted when he was older, because an abusive previous owner would explain his behavior - but it's just how he is. I used to judge people with these skittish dogs, assuming they had done something terrible to their dog. Champ taught me that some animals are naturally suspicious. I tried for the first two years to socialize him, take him to classes, and push him to change. That didn't work well - it only stressed us both out. I learned to explain to people that he needs his space. With a dog like Champ, I learned it is my responsibility to be his advocate, keep him out of social environments, and take charge of situations when he feels uncomfortable so he gets the space he needs.
with other animals. He's befriended horses, dogs, and more.
Quirks can make it difficult to live with a dog, but sometimes they make you appreciate the relationship you build with an animal even more. Champ is the most loyal dog I've ever had. He isn't clingy, but he likes to be in the same room, watching over the people he loves. As he has aged and his hearing and vision have been robbed, he's mellowed out even more. I don't think that would be the case if he didn't trust me.
carrying it through the house to the back yard.
On his thirteenth birthday this Halloween, Champ got pumpkin with his home cooked meal and extra car rides. He asked to get up on the couch while we watched television, something he hadn't done in months. I am thankful for every day we get with him in his old age.