This is Hutch, a Siberian Husky and Wolf mix. He's not my dog, but he thinks he is. He's 6 years old and, until this past March, lived chained to a big tree across the street in a neighbor's back yard. His real owners don't believe in inside dogs. He has a doghouse, water, and food. That's what the law says he should have, and that's all he had.
I'm a dog lover and have 3 dogs of my own. Hutch would spend his days watching me interact with my dogs. He had very limited human contact, no obedience training at all, and had not been socialized. His owner noticed that Hutch was constantly watching me, and said I could come over and pet him whenever I wanted.
To make a very long story short, the owner, for some reason or another, has been in prison since September. What little attention Hutch ever got was now gone. So I started wandering over there every day to get to know him and would bring him dog cookies. My first problem was he always jumped and was constantly knocking me down. I'm learning how to walk again myself after coming down with Transverse Myelitis, so my balance isn't the best to start with. I taught Hutch the only way I would pet him was if he faced away from me, so I could pet him. Within a couple of weeks, I started brushing him, too.
I talked the owner's father into getting the yard fenced. For the first time in his life, Hutch was unchained and able to run free. My first few times in the backyard with him running free was pretty rough. I left a spray bottle of water on the gate. Anytime I entered the yard, if he jumped on me I gave him a squirt.
For a few weeks, all I did was give him cookies, brushed him, and just basically earned his trust. I had serious doubts about my own sanity whether I should even attempt to leash train him or not. Imagine a 70 pound Mexican jumping bean on steroids; that's a really good way for me to describe Hutch. But he had such a sad life, that one way or another I knew I was going to teach him to walk on a leash.
The year before, I lost my beloved Parker who was a 135 pound Black Lab and Rott mix at almost 11 years of age. I still had all the stuff that I had trained him with. I decided to teach Hutch to walk on a Gentle Leader, which is sort of like a head harness for a horse. It will stop any dog from pulling it's owner. It took me 45 minutes the very first time to put it on Hutch.
Ready or not, I opened the gate and out we went. Hutch acted like I was killing him, he did the death roll, up and down the street. I was waiting for one of my neighbors to call the police about animal abuse. Neighbors drove by very slowly and asked if I needed help controlling him. I knew my first walk with him would be rough but not in my wildest dreams did I ever expect this. On a good note, all his craziness actually tired him out. For about 5 minutes, we had a very enjoyable walk.
By the time we got back, I decided since he was so tired, I might as well ruin the rest of his day and promptly gave him his first bath. For a dog who has never had a bath, he did great and he cleaned up so nicely.
He quickly learned he had to wear the Gentle Leader, if he wanted to go for a walk, and he had to sit still for me to put it on. By our 5th walk I was using a regular leash. He matched my own gait, as I walked with a cane. If he started to get head strong all I had to do was tell him, "easy boy", and he'd slow back down. It was a whole new world to him to get walked every day. No matter how sore I was or how bad my legs hurt, I still walked him. When it rains, he sits by the gate and knows I'll still come.
He's a runner, and if he escapes it's very difficult to catch him, so I started training him on a retractable leash when I walked him. It also gave him a lot more freedom to sniff and do what dogs do. My next project was teaching and enforcing the "come" command. I carry a treat pouch and throughout our walk every 5 minutes, I'll call out, "Hutch come". He learned very quickly that hot dogs were a good thing. He now knows the command, and he knows he has to sit for me to attach the leash and sit for me to remove it when we get back. He has truly come a long, long way since I started working with him.
He wasn't socialized as a puppy, so he does not play well with other dogs. He's jealous of my dogs, and my dogs are jealous of him. Speaking of playing, none of my dogs ever played with any of Parker's old toys, so I gave them all to Hutch, not thinking I would actually have to show this dog how to play. He hadn't a clue. When and if his owner returns home, Hutch is going to be a totally different dog. I write to his owner, send him pictures, and keep him updated on everything I've been doing with his dog.
As I write this, I am covered with poison ivy, because I always give Hutch big hugs, and apparently there must be some poison ivy in his backyard. Last night, I walked him very late in my pajamas, because it had rained all day. So there I am hobbling down the street, near midnight with Hutch on the retractable leash, and he sees a rabbit. All my training went in one ear, out the other, and he yanked me off my feet. I fell down, and he was running top speed to catch the rabbit.
The retractable leash caught up with him within 10 feet and hit him in the butt and scared poor Hutch half to death. He just stood there, terrified to move, and I can't even begin to imagine what he must of thought. I wasn't hurt, and he now has a whole new respect for the retractable leash.
This afternoon I walked him early ,because we were suppose to get a lot of rain later on. As luck would have it, he saw another rabbit. But lucky for me it was still daylight out. I was able to give him a quick correction, and we continued on our walk with no problems.
A few days before, my legs were hurting really bad. I asked my husband to walk over to get Hutch, and bring him to our house. I would give him a short walk, just to keep my promise to myself that he would always be walked. As I sat on my front porch, I was sort of curious if Hutch would listen to my husband or not. For the next 5 minutes, I watched my poor husband, who is a big guy, get jumped on. Hutch who was very obviously happy to see him but did not listen to him at all.
Another neighbor was also watching, and we both covered our mouths so we wouldn't be heard or seen laughing. He finally somehow attached the retractable leash, opened the gate, and Hutch ran to me, dragging my husband behind him. My husband was holding the 25 foot leash and told me he had everything under control.
Not only did Hutch run to me, but once he got there, he sat as pretty as any show dog could, and got his piece of hot dog.
Though I am a dog person and used to show in Obedience, I knew nothing about Siberian Huskies and did some research on them. First off, they love to dig. I sort of knew that because there's two huge holes in Hutch's backyard deep enough to bury a person or two. They're also stubborn and it's like you have to earn the right to be their master. I'm not saying I earned that right, but when he escaped the other day after someone left the gate open he returned to me, when I shouted out for him to come.
Like I said, he's not my dog. I like to think of myself as his care giver, foster mother, or at the very least he views me as someone he respects enough to obey. I always go over there when my dogs are having their own dinner, so I'm not taking any quality time away from them. Also, when we walk now my neighbors stop, say hi, and pet him.
I'm always asked if he's the big white dog that used to be tied to the tree. All the kids in the neighborhood love him, because he's super fluffy and soft. For a dog who has never been around anyone, other than his owner, he is so gentle with kids. I can't save all the dogs in the world, but for at least this one dog, I do make a difference.
I am so glad my husband isn't a computer person. If he read this and knew that I've been bringing Hutch over when it's over 100 degrees, he would truly think I lost my mind. Lucky for us, I can leave my 3 dogs in the den with the TV on, put up a doggy gate, and close the den door. I put up another doggy gate in the kitchen, and close all other doors. Hutch falls asleep under the ceiling fan, and is as good as good can be well, at least for me.
Anyway, thank you for reading this. Other than my neighbors, no one else knows I've been working with Hutch. What I wouldn't give to spend time with the Dog Whisperer who I greatly admire. I wonder what he would think of Hutch.
By CaroleeRose from Madison, AL
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I think Hutch is just about the luckiest dog on the planet right now. Your story is wonderful and makes me wish I had done more for the animals I've seen in bad situations. I may have helped a little, but you have made such a difference in the life of this dog that it's truly a joy reading about it. I've never read better.
Thank you for sharing it with Thrifty Fun.
I am moved by Hutch's story and by your kindness and compassion. Thank you for doing all you are doing for this sweet boy, who deserves you as his owner and not the person who "officially" does own him. Many blessings to you!
It is so wonderful of you to invest time and effort into this pooch. Bless you!
Thanks for sharing your wonderful & inspiring story.
What you are doing for this special dog is incredible and I agree that he's so lucky to have someone like you who cares for him. Your story brought tears to my eyes as I read how you beautifully and patiently brought him to state of being socialized, obedient, and loving everything needed for a good person/dog relationship!
God bless you!
All I can say is, I love what you're doing.
Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. I think what you have done is amazing. I hope that Hutch's owner realizes how lucky he is to have you as a neighbor and what a special dog he has had all along if only he would have invested some love, compassion and a bit of training. Bless you for your efforts and love given to this beautiful dog. I hope the bond you two have will continue for a very long time.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story; read it twice. Caesar would be proud of you. You have restored my faith in humanity. I also train dogs and I've been through the jumping bean on steroids. You have gone above and beyond the call of duty and your heart must be singing. After reading it again I know mine is.
Thank you for sharing; you are a special person.
I am absolutely amazed and I was quite amused at some parts of the story, because I feel your pain when a well trained dog takes off at full speed with you behind him. What you are doing is amazing on so many levels. The most amazing thing is that you have cared enough to commit your time and energy for this beautiful animal.
It is so beautiful to see how you have enlarged the horizons and given Hutch so many things to think about and enjoy in his life. It is so wonderful to read your story, and I am saving it and will go back and read it again. Blessings to you for your unselfishness and your love towards beautiful soul.
I am also sharing it on facebook. The world needs more people like you.
A special grateful and sincere thank-you for everyone who has voted and commented on Hutch.
I thought I'd attach a picture of myself with Hutch. It's a great picture of him but not such a good one of me. My legs get tired very easily and I really can't exercise the way I should to lose weight. But I am so grateful to be able to walk at all.
Hutch motivates me to go walking whether I want to or not.
Carolee, you are an angel & an inspiration! I voted for you & bookmarked your story so I can find it again. What a beautiful dog he is & you are a wonderful person for caring & taking the time & trouble to let him blossom! Thanks for sharing Hutch's story! I hope his current owner learns something from this; if not, I hope he lets you keep Hutch.
I am truly am grateful for all the nice comments and votes. Yesterday it was really hot here and I brought Hutch over like I do every afternoon with the exception that my husband was actually home. It was the first time that he saw Hutch wander around our house and I warned him that our dogs will bark for 30 minutes then settle down and all will be well in our household.
I've been very slowly letting my dogs see him at a distance, for their safety as well as his. I would love to have Hutch live with us as would my husband but I need to really work super slow with him when it comes to other animals. I've heard that he has killed many wild rabbits and his reaction to them when I walk him has me believing that what I heard was probably very accurate.
He doesn't drag me though, he pulls harder but I have no doubt if he wasn't on a leash he would catch and kill it. Hutch wants to be a family member and not isolated. It's all just going to take time and time is one thing I have.
I actually thought it be better to start training him in warmer weather because once it gets cold and he's full of energy, he be way to much for even me to handle. He now has manners and when winter arrives I'll be able to walk him safely. I took this picture yesterday when I was at my computer. He needs to gain some weight. When I pet him, I can't feel his ribs but I think that's because of all his fur.
My husband and I were having some Ice Cream after lunch and Hutch walked over to our tall kitchen table and rested his head completely on it to see what I was eating. Of course I gave him some and his reaction was funny. First it was actually something very cold and then he decided it was actually good stuff and he wanted more.
My husband says I'm teaching him bad manners but I look at it as a bonding experience and everything with me is and has to always be good.
What a wonderful story, you should send to the "Dog Whisper" anyway. Animals are not disposable and it takes a wonderful person like you to help them out. Bless you both. klr
Just a quick Hutch update. I fell in his backyard the other night and was very, very grateful that he didn't hump me and didn't think anything more about it. Because of Transverse Myelitis I get delayed pain and 5 days later while taking a bath tried to scrub off the dirt on my big toe, except it wasn't dirt.
During those 5 days, I continued to walk Hutch, mowed the back yard one day and two days later, mowed the front yard. Had it x-rayed today and I don't think it's broken but it definitely, finally, hurts. For the time being my husband is now walking Hutch for me.
Just a Hutch update as of December 2nd, 2011.
Hutch is starting to learn to heel and is really doing quite well. I've taught him to wait and he will wait until I give him a release command.
Back on October 6th, while walking Hutch a neighbor's dog attacked us and Hutch got in between the dog and me. It was very scary, but Hutch quickly proved he was not going to let another dog hurt me.
I was able to get Hutch out of what was about to become a very bad situation and no longer walk down at that end of the street.
Sadly the owner never called to apologize for her dog attacking us, she didn't even attempt to get her dog. I ended up with several torn muscles in my arm and actually wrote an article about it that was printed in our local paper.
I did learn technically she would be responsible for all my medical bills but I'm a Vet and have excellent medical care. I also learned if there had been a dog fight and Hutch killed her dog neither Hutch or I would be held responsible because she did not have her dog under control and she would be responsible for any Vet bills for Hutch if he was hurt.
I was definitely traumatized by the whole situation and my only concern was the neighbor who has a known bad heart would have a heart attack seeing her little dog being hurt.
Hutch and I are well and the neighbor is doing a better job about securing her little bundle of joy. All my doctors down at the VA, the Police, Animal Control and my family have all said, if it ever happens again I am not to get in the middle of it to save the little dog.
Like I said, I was more concerned about the owner having a heart attack than her little dog.
Other than that, Hutch is doing great.
Well the Wolf mix that I've been training for the past nine months, owner has been released from prison and is expected home sometime tonight, (January 8th, 2012). To make things nice for his owner I brought Hutch over and gave him a bath so he be handsome for his daddy. I brushed him and kept him at my house all day so he wouldn't get muddy out in their backyard. Well over comes Hutch's owner's father who is not a good person and he wanted to take Hutch home and leave him in the garage. When he stepped into my house my dogs Rosie and Emma both snapped at him and I literally had to drag them both away from him. Hutch flatout refused to go with him so I had to walk him home and once he got there the father tried to make him go into the garage and Hutch refused to obey him. The father ordered him several times to get out of the house and get out into the garage. I felt so sad for Hutch, I had to walk him past the father and put him out in their garage. The father does not believe in inside dogs and he's also the only person Hutch has ever bitten. It broke my heart to leave Hutch there but he's not my dog, all I did was train him. Please pray that his humans take better care of him, he deserves to be loved and well taken care of.
January 23rd, 2012 - Hutch's owner is back to doing drugs, drinking and having physical fights with his wife constantly. When the police show up it's always 3-5 patrol cars.
I am no longer allowed any contact with Hutch.
I've spent a year training him and showing him that people are good and what love is.
He sits by his gate and watches for me 24 hours a day. This is very, very upsetting to me and there's no way to make him understand that it's not my fault that I can't see him anymore.
Hutch deserves to be loved and treated like a loved member of the family, not left outside or trying to crawl under a riding lawnmower because he's so frightened when his owner is hitting his wife.
What hurts me the most is, he knows there is a difference between the way he's treated there compared to how he's treated here. Every time I took him back home I literally had to drag him. Anyway, I am understandably upset, Hutch is a great dog and deserves so much better.
All I can do is pray that they will take better care of him.
April 20th, 2012, a Hutch update. There was a rough few weeks once his owner returned home and Hutch has finally accepted that I will no longer be part of his life. It doesn't stop me from loving or praying for him and his family. I just wish I was given the chance to show his owner all the wonderful things his dog is capable of.
Hutch still watches me from across the street and I still use hand signals I taught him so he knows I haven't forgotten him.
Very few people know that I professionally train dogs and I actually trained Hutch as if I was going to show him. He was a bit of a challenge and my balancing issues from the Transverse Myelitis made it interesting but I can honestly say I have no doubt that I am physically capable of training, working and showing in any AKC sanctioned show.
Especially if I start with a puppy that I can raise with love. There are so many Kennels and this is going to sound weird but it's very important that the puppy choose me. I have really missed all the dog activities I was involved with and even more than that, I miss doing Pet Therapy and going to the Nursing Homes.
I went back and forth over breeds, narrowed it down to 3 and my next puppy will be a male, German Doberman Pincher. I'm more interested in the parents and grandparents temperment than I am an actual bloodline.
I neuter or spay all my dogs and every one of them was micro chipped.
There are so many Kennels all over the USA but what the heck I'm pretty much homebound anyway and have the time to do research on the Internet.
For all the people who read this, Hutch is doing alright, it's not the way I personally would take care of a dog but let there be no doubt Hutch will always love me and I will always love him. His owner can never change that.
It has been 4 years since your final post. I read every word and comment I almost felt like a fly on the wall. You should get double angel wings. Hutch does and will always know you love him and vice versa as a vet u know it's just how dogs are. For giving , and never forget. I am hoping you are well and wondered if Hutch was out of that environment or how he is doing. Did you get the Dobie? We had Dobie/Shepard crosses. It was intentional. My then boyfriend (a biker in a well known national club) and his brothers bred for the Dobie look but Shepard personality. It was actually a good cross. Anyway I am asking about you and Hutch. Hope u get this.
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