I pulled her. I couldn't stand her being there any more. She needed to be out of there urgently.
I arranged for a vet opthamologist to do a pro bono exam on her eyes. One is blind from an old injury. The other is actually fine
-- possibly some age-related vision loss, but it's still functioning. The bumping into stuff only happens on the side with the bad eye.
Also, she's not as old as she looks in these pictures. She's very emaciated at 71# (should be 85+, as she's a BIG girl). Her skin and coat is in awful condition, adding to the illusion that she's geriatric. The vet said 5+. I'm going to guess ~7. She's way younger than my 11 year old. In fact, when we took her out for a walk, she was jaunty and spry. She loves
going for walks.
There's a good
dog hiding beneath the raggedy exterior. She's totally people focused and very calm -- following us around the yard, walking in a nice heel position, and taking direction beautifully. She has a lovely sentry bark and is alert and bright. There's a lot of life and spunk in this dog. She loved meeting my friend's young children who are my experienced "dog testers." Even when the boys were running (and yelling) a few feet away, she just calmly watched them without the slightest hint of uneasiness.
I became deeply worried about her at the shelter after I heard a clueless cat-person who works at the shelter label her as "dog aggressive" after that person took her out for showing. That DA label is frequently a prelude to putting dogs on a euthanasia list, so I was worried. I think this person was afraid of a big GSD, and likely misread normal excitement of being let out of the kennel and curiosity about other dogs.
Before we came home, I spent an hour trying replicate the alleged reactivity this shelter worker thinks she saw. I actively tried to find a trigger--any
trigger. I couldn't find one.
In the shelter's vet clinic, Dorothy was around 4 other dogs in the exam room, without incident in very close quarters. In the stray area, I walked her past cages with obnoxious dogs jumping against the gates growling and snarling at her --she was non-plussed (no hackles raised, no body tension, just patiently waiting for me to move on). We introduced her to an array of dogs -- she even went nose-to-nose with her tail happily wagging.
As we were leaving with her, once we knew she was stable, we walked her through the lobby, where there were lots of people and dogs on a weekend afternoon. She sat shoulder to shoulder with a dog she didn't know, eating treats, while I filled out paperwork. She calmly waited for the other dog to finish its own treat. At one point, she wanted to try to play with one of the smaller dogs.
Not many dogs would have been as mellow about all this as she was. Dog aggressive??!
I'll post more pics later today. She's in pretty bad shape physically. In a month, she won't be recognizable after she puts on some weight and her coat starts coming in.