On the night of March 17, driving towards Almancil in the dark, we found something on the road that looked like a cat or dog. We decided to have a look, turned the car around and sadly saw it was a dead puppy…killed by a car. It is a terrible sight, his intestines were all over the place. I could not leave him there, so I carefully picked him up and lay him next to the roadside, in the grass.
When I pass again the next morning I see his small body still laying there. Rather a sad sight….. I don’t see anything else, so continue my journey to the shelter. I keep thinking about this and decide I will go back and take the small body away from the roadside.
Later in the afternoon, on my way back, I see two more puppy’s, sitting next to the dead puppy. I can’t believe my eyes, and turn around my car and park. I get out, and the puppy’s run off immediately, hiding under the agave’s and the cacti. They have an excellent hiding place, no man can get underneath….and they appear to have more than one hiding place.
When they are finally found under one of the plants, they are showing their teeth, they growl, bark.. Wild puppy’s… It is going to be very difficult to rescue them, but one thing is for sure, they cannot stay along this busy road. I call Laura, and she is coming with some dog food, to see if we can lure them out this way. More cars and people stop, some of them were worried about the dead puppy the night before, and wondered if I hit him with my car. Two ladies arrive and we start trying to get underneath these ghastly leaves, but to no avail. Another lady arrives, and she actually knows the puppies and has been feeding them since they were very young.
(Martin or perhaps his brother in the leaves).
And then there is movement, the puppies appear from underneath the plants, and go up into another part of their den. They seem interested in two ladies gently talking to each other. In the meantime, I quietly disappear to the other side, walking slowly and quietly, until I see them. I dive into the ghastly leaves, have one by his ear and the other one still has not realized I am there…so….unfortunately my mobile phone rings, and the second puppy literally runs off into the field.. The first one I still have by his ear, and I pull him out, not the most elegant way, but there was no other possibility. A six week old male puppy is in my arms, looking at me with big scared eyes, he is petrified…
What to do next? I call Laura that one has been caught, and that the other one escaped. What to do next with little Martin? After a little while, Laura tells me the vet has agreed to keep him for a few nights! We drive to the vet and leave Martin there for observation, health check, and a defleeing session.
His brother was never caught, for a while we thought he was killed by a car as well, but towards the end of April, he was all of a sudden seen sitting at this den again. I did stop and gave him a nice can of puppy food.
This was the only occasion he was ever seen again. He did eat his food…and then ran away.
Martin stayed at the vet for sometime before he went into a foster family with other puppies. Their outgoing personalities seemed to pull Martin out of his shell to a certain degree. In the puppy pack, it became clear he is a little leader in the making. But, at the beginning he was a star in avoiding contact with people, and really needed more exposure to both adult dogs and adult human beings.
So Martin then came to live with me as my own foster dog for further assessment and socialization. The first week – 10 days are a nightmare, he is skittish, petrified of any movement, and he escapes through every hole / gap he can find, and hides underneath the large aloe vera… He refuses to come indoors. He refuses to eat indoors, so he doesn’t get properly fed the first days. I really have to be consistent in my actions and behaviour with him. I do not put any pressure on him for the first week, the only thing I ask of him is to come in and eat… and eventually his hunger wins… and he comes in for food, still petrified of all the dogs and everything else he hears and sees.
None of my dogs have any interest in him, even worse, they snap at him at any possibility, not biting, just snapping at him as if they are saying, “Martin behave, be normal… “
After a couple of days he settles in, and starts to go out and come in with the group. He starts to befriend some of the females, and they react very positively. They start to play with him, and he starts to play with them. He turns out to be the biggest thief I have ever had in my house. Nothing is safe, everything is being collected and hidden away. And he is still a star in avoiding human contact. Getting closer to him to touch him, stroke him is still next to impossible. I decide to try and catch him and put a long lead on his collar. He has to learn to bond with people.
Ever since the lead is on his collar, things are improving! Some days we go three steps forward, on other days just one step, and sometime we go back one step. But over all, he is improving well. He curls up on the couch next to me, I can stroke him, I can pick him up, he will relax on my lap and fall asleep! He comes in with the other dogs in the morning, he loves his treats. He will no longer run away but sits with my other dogs awaiting his turn! He will go up to Laura when she arrives to say hello, she can touch him, and he starts to lick her hand.
Today I took him in the car, very unusual, but I put him on the passenger seat, where he could do what he wanted: sit down and look outside, and take in his new world, or curl up and fall asleep. To my pleasant surprise he thoroughly enjoyed watching the world pass by, he seemed to be taking in everything. On two occasions I left the car, and left him on the front seat, he watched me leave, and when I came back he was curled up asleep. Whilst writing this episode in Martin’s life, he is fast asleep, totally worn out from all the things he saw and did today. He will be my co-driver for a little while to come. Next step will be getting him to walk on a lead, at the moment he is bolting like a wild horse…
Martin will very likely never be the most spontaneous dog with strangers, but he has everything in him to turn into a wonderful family dog. He is intelligent, loves his cuddles and treats, he has a wonderful and friendly character.
(Martin, searching for a home).
As of May 25 Martin is still looking for a new home. He is now 4 months old, weighs 11 kilos, and is expected to be approximately 25 kilos when fully grown. If you think you can offer Martin a home please contact us. Or see Martin’s album on the available puppies.
By Ginie, volunteer SOS Algarve Animals
Update: On June 4, 2011 Martin went to the Algarve Dog Show. Lovely Martin found a wondeful home with a lady working the show who fell in love with his eyes and could not stop thinking about him all day. After many visits back to see Martin (on every “pass by” she could make) we felt confident that it was best for Martin and he went to his new home that night. It is a lovely home with a huge fenced garden, three other dogs, and exteremely experienced dog owners.
More photos of Martin and his new mummy are available at https://picasaweb.google.com/rehomed.sosalgarveanimals/MartinRehomedPortugal#