Tori is our “Big Fella” Japanese Chin. Weighing in at 24 pounds when we first took him in, he was the brute of our Chin family. After fostering him for nearly a year, it was apparent to us that he might never be placed in an adoptive home. Tori appeared to be completely petrified of people and new experiences. Family and friends would stop by for a visit, and Tori would dash into the bedroom to hide in a corner. The whole time we visited with our guests, Tori stayed crouched in his hiding spot, breathing deeply and shaking. After our company left, it might be hours before he would venture from the bedroom. When he did, he was very careful to come out, moving slowly and cautiously before he was convinced danger was no longer present. Even going outside to do his “business” was a scary experience. I tried leash training, hoping that he might enjoy walking and eventually get used to meeting people and vehicles and seeing a cat or two. But after three months of trying, I gave that up. He would get to the front gate and pull back, refusing to proceed. All the walking we ever managed was on 3 or 4 acres of fenced pasture and yard. He just seemed to have too many fears.
Originally, Tori and Niko had come to us as a pair. They belonged to an elderly lady who was being moved to an assisted living facility and could not take her pets with her. She turned them over to JCCARE, Japanese Chin Care and Rescue Effort, and we offered to foster them until homes could be found. We determined that Niko and Tori did not necessarily have to be adopted as a pair. Niko was his own man, and he took on the role as alpha male of the 4 Chin in our home. Tori was submissive to all of the others. He spent much time by himself off in a corner, always choosing to be alone.
Two things happened last autumn that had bearing on a personality change in Tori. First, Niko was to adopted by a wonderful couple down in south Texas. We worried a little that Tori might miss his partner but, at the same time, Tori was scheduled for a dental exam (we knew he definitely needed his teeth cleaned) and could make the ride with Niko to meet the regional JCCARE representative. His breath had been horrible since we took him in. Indeed, the vet reported 12 necessary extractions, which left Tori a bit handicapped on one side of his mouth. Special arrangements were made for Tori to come home immediately after the extractions and cleaning because of his anxiety around strangers. We felt the sooner he came home, the calmer he would be. Within a week, it was as if we had a completely different boy. Tori was clearly happy. In fact, to see him run to the door and bound out into the yard showed a look of pure joy! He became more outgoing with our two Chin, Zoe and Bear. He wanted to play, pouncing at them. He ran the “Chindy 500” and did “chin spins” out in the yard. He picked up toys and flipped them around. He became the house watchdog (FD designated him “Deputy Dorkfish”), barking at vehicles coming up the driveway. He was still leery of strangers, but instead of hiding in a corner, he peeked around doorways and stayed at a little distance. The transformation was nothing short of amazing!
I soon began to notice Tori had a penchant for picking certain items up and carrying them around. Most of the time it was a prize he picked up while on an outing to “do his duty”. Often, it was a large stick or the stem of a plant. One time he chose a large piece of crushed rock from the driveway. If I didn’t notice him bringing it inside, I surely noticed later when the shredded item lay in pieces all over the carpet (excepting the rock, of course!). During apple harvest, I would find a couple of rotten apples discarded on the floor and once saw Tori drop an apple in the kitchen, only for Bear to come along to scarf it up. Bear has a weakness for any kind of apple. Once, Tori came in the house adorned with a large rooster feather stuck in the ruff of his chest. It appeared he had joined one of the local Native American tribes! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photograph of the dangling feather before he chewed it up.
Today I noticed something black in Tori’s mouth as the trio of Chin headed up the stairs to the front door. On closer inspection, I knew what it was. Looking to the spot where Daisy deer had dropped three clumps of poop pellets near the house, I noticed only two remained. Tori was hoping to tote yet another prize into the house… but, I can assure you, that did not happen! I left him outside, ran to get my camera and, on my return, found Tori sitting at the front door with the clump of poop dropped in front of him. Even then, he still had a dangle of something black hanging from his mouth and hacked a bit, then shook his head. Evidently, the black ball-like object LOOKED more interesting than it tasted. Tori’s moral to this story: Some things are most definitely NOT a prize.
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…