Today marks the last day of life for our Beloved Doll, (half white Shepherd, half Coyote), who was 16 years old. It’s been a grand 14 years for us all. Doll was almost two years old when she came home with us, we were her 14th home, and her last chance. She had been treated abominably at every previous placement; no one understood her, and she was never treated the way she should have been. When she was able, she ran from any home she was placed in, the other times, she was returned to the shelter. She happily joined in our pack at the time, and when Čantemahto and Cachet died, we brought Jayne home, and Doll happily assumed her place as alpha queen. Jayne is very large, but Doll never had a problem going for the throat and rolling him over in play:
Someone once asked me about having a hybrid, and I wrote out some info. If you find yourself wanting to rescue adopt a hybrid, think at least seven times about it first, then do all this:
No, other animals don’t provide a pack, other dogs provide a pack. You need a minimum of two, already long in place before even thinking of introducing a hybrid. Also, the breed of your dogs makes a difference. Some breeds will not handle a new one, let alone a hybrid. If you’re introducing a male hybrid, best to have female dogs. If you’re introducing a female hybrid, that’s not so important.
We had Čantemahto and Cachet (half Black Shepherd/half Collie, huge, male and half Landseer Newfoundland/half Collie, female) when we rescued Doll.
Trick 1: live a long fucking way away from the other houses the hybrid was in as well as the rescue/adoption center. All hybrids are runners, coyotes in particular. If they run, you don’t have a hope in hell of catching them. A large property is best.
Trick 2: get them in the house and don’t fuss. Let them do whatever they’re going to do, no matter how weird. Let them get acquainted with their new pack on their own terms. Coyotes will dig, generally in the middle of your bed. You just have to deal with that. It will stop eventually. Protip: make sure there’s an under to your bed. They like cave like environs, especially the females.
Trick 3: act like they’ve always been there, treat your other dogs like you normally do, talk to them more than normal though – your hybrid is listening.
Trick 4: when it comes to going outside to do business, if you don’t have a fenced yard, a collar attached to a very long rope is necessary, at least for the first week. You’ll know when it’s okay to lose those. If you do have a fence, suck it up, you have to go out with them every single time for a minimum of a week, and go every where they do. Digging, remember? Also, jumping. You would not believe the fucking jumping. Also, speed. Superman couldn’t catch a hybrid.
Trick 5: have a shitload of toys, all varieties. Also, bones. Real bones, big ass cow joints, with muscle and crunchy bits. No rawhide. Note: if it’s in reach of your hybrid’s mouth, it’s theirs. Don’t even think of taking it away. Your fault for not putting stuff up.
Trick 6: hybrids are hoarders and treasure collectors. Every fucking toy and bone in the house is theirs. Let your other dogs work out how to get their shit back, at least for the first month. Resign yourself to buying new toys and bones for the other dogs a lot the first month. The hybrid will steal those, too.
Trick 7: when your hybrid constantly has a toy crammed in their mouth, ignore it. Do not assume they wish to play and do not take it away! Act like it isn’t there.
Trick 8: hybrids bury their treasure. Just live with the pile of toys and bloody, sharp bones buried under the blankets in the middle of the bed. Have a special box or container near by, where you remove the treasure to, in front of your hybrid. Reassure them they can re-bury their stuff after you’re done sleeping.
Trick 9: don’t be trying to teach them stuff. Let the other dogs (the pack) show your hybrid the routine.
Trick 10: don’t freak out if they snarl when eating.
Trick 11: your hybrid will probably hate and ignore whatever stupid name was stuck on them. They tend to pick their own name. This is out of your control. Trust me, Dolly would not have been an option in our case.
Trick 12: trust. After a bit of work, you have to trust them. If you do, they’ll reward you with trust and loyalty.
Trick 13: learn the vocabulary. Hybrids have a wide range of vocal and gestural expressions. The different howls alone are amazing. Don’t be afraid to howl yourself.
Trick 14: hybrids are acutely visual. Train with them, using small, subtle sign language.
Trick 15: make sure the whole pack gets plenty of play time and get them out and about to sniff ‘n’ pee on new territory on a fairly regular basis.
Trick 16: don’t have heart failure when your hybrid’s idea of play with the pack resembles a psycho hose-beast. That’s normal. Do stop them from chewing all the way down to skin. Tell them that’s a no-no.
ETA: If your idea of having dogs is chaining them up outside, do not get a hybrid. They won’t tolerate it, they’ll become isolated and fucking mean as hell. Do not consider a hybrid at all if you want them as a single dog. They need a pack to be healthy. If you’re someone who thinks smacking dogs around is a fine way to train them, don’t even think about trying that shit on a hybrid. It won’t turn out well.
Goodbye, my sweetest Doll, my Coyote Queen.