We got outside, with two leashes on, and he seemed to be doing really well. He looked somewhat relaxed, and he wasn’t pulling on the leashes much. We walked around the yard and enjoyed the sunshine. The foster wanted to try walking him on the leash, so they could get used to each other. Moose stayed calm until they walked around the corner, around the shrubs and out of sight of me. Then Moose started thrashing, yanking on the leashes, trying to get her to let go of him. She called me over for help.
When I took the leashes, Moose was still resisting, trying to get away. He is 84 pounds, and although he definitely does not want to bite anyone, he is still a challenge to control when he is agitated. One of the collars was a martingale style, which tightens up when the dog pulls. It was working, but it wasn’t quite tight enough, and he was almost slipping out of it. The other collar was just a normal buckle collar, which had the GPS tracking unit. I took the leash from that collar and turned it around, looped through the handled to make a slip lead. As I was trying to get the slip lead on, Moose thrashed hard, in the shrubs, trying to knock me down or get me tangled up. He also wouldn’t hold his head still so I could get the slip lead on. I was just on the verge of losing him, and my heart was pounding at the thought of it. I knew it might cost him his life if he ran off into the woods at that point. Of course, we would try to catch him again, but it could be very difficult, and he would be subject to so many risks while running loose. I improvised, and ran the attached leash through the loop of the slip lead, to guide it onto him. Once in place and tightened, the improvised slip lead tightened up more than the martingale collar, and he was secured, although he wasn’t done struggling. He tried biting through the slip lead, and he would have succeeded if I hadn’t moved them around and away from his mouth.
It was like wrestling an alligator, trying to get him back to the house. I could tell the slip lead was too tight, and uncomfortable for him, but I couldn’t ease up on it too much. Halfway back to the house, Moose flopped down in the grass, and the foster was able to loosen the slip lead a little, so Moose could catch his breath and settle down. After resting a bit, I started leading him back to the house again, and he seemed resigned to going back. We got him in the house and the door closed, and took the leashes off. Once the struggle was over, Moose was gentle and sweet again, no trouble at all.
Although it was disappointing, and sad to see Moose so upset and determined to escape, one positive from the experience is that Moose proved he absolutely does not want to bite anyone. A dog might reasonably calculate, during such a struggle, that he could bite his captor, and that would cause most people to let go of the leashes. Moose doesn’t know me that well, though. I have been bitten at least ten times, and I have never let go of a dog.
This is the way it can be with some rescue dogs. We want to help them so much, and it’s hard to communicate our intentions. All Moose sees is that we are preventing him from going into the woods where he would feel at home and safe. About 8 years ago, I helped capture Max, who was very similar in terms of his intelligence and independence. Max also tried to escape from me, while on two leashes, thrashing like a little alligator, and I was very concerned I was going to lose him. A few weeks later, Max was adopted. Max did run away from his new home, but then he came back to them, and he lived with them a long time, no longer trying to escape. I think Moose will accept someone in time. He just needs patience. If we can manage to prevent him from escaping for a couple of weeks, and help him learn to trust people again, then he will probably end up being a great dog for the right family. Of course, I would love to have Moose for my own dog, but five crazy dogs is all I can handle. I wouldn’t be helping Moose by taking him into our family. I know we can find a great home for him, eventually.