Morgan is an 82 pound hybrid. He was described by his rescuers as a Malamute mix. He has a double coat, curly tail, Swiss dog colors, and pendant ears.
Since the death of Garbo I had sought another dog with some of Garbo's traits - strong, resilent build, handsome looks, confidence, and gentleness. In tribute to Garbo I had become involved with Northern Lights Sled Dog Rescue, providing transports and foster care. I always watched for a Husky or Malamute that might fill this need.
In November of 2005 I was looking at a list of Malamutes in the area when I saw a photo of a dog with a striking resemblance to Garbo. I contacted Kankakee County Animal Foundation in Kankakee, IL for more information about this dog.
I learned from his foster mom, Viginia Marsick, that Morgan was recently found as a stray and was living with other dogs and cats in a mobile home but the owners were told they could not have so many dogs. He sounded like a good dog but his looks were what really attracted me. On November 12, 2005, I flew to Kankakee with Grazie on my way home from the farm. I didn't tell Kitty what I was doing.
Virginia met us at the airport and we talked at length about dogs, rescue, and Morgan. She told me that Morgan and another foster dog, a Pit Bull, tangled over a bitch in heat right after they were neutered. Since then he had been banished to a crate in the garage and a pen in the back yard. As we talked I observed this wonderful, alert, thoughtful dog and imagined him in our family.
Virginia surprised me by asking if I'd like to foster Morgan - starting that night! I hemmed and hawed and thought about it as she walked me to my plane. Such a wonderful dog deserved individual attention...and I wanted to give it to him. Mogan flew home with us that night. I didn't have a crate for him but he settled in nicely in the rear cargo area.
Things were not as smooth when we arrived back home. Kitty was not amused that I'd brought home yet another even larger dog. (We still had Bobby, the foster Husky.) I told her it was just temporary and he could go back anytime. She wanted me to go that night.
I put Kitty off for awhile and she eventually started to appreciate Morgan as I do. Although he's a big boy and "mouthy" he's so tender and forgiving. He can defend himself against Bobby with a vengence, putting on a scary display, but never doing any damage. Then he can curl up on the bed and cuddle with us, sometimes mouthing my fingers and nose but never biting. A couple of times I've done things that have hurt (after surgery) or scared (to clean ears) him. He has shown amazing restraint in telling me how he feels without hurting me. For Valentine's Day 2006 Kitty told me to plan on keeping Morgan.
At the start, I just trained Morgan to pull with Bobby. He exceled at this and provided great power to our rides. They even took me sledding one day with our church group and I had so much fun with my old kick sled that I finally ordered a good toboggan sled (but then we didn't get more snow!).
After placing Bobby I found other jobs for Morgan. He quickly learned to pull a rubber sledge and I also bought a wagon for him. He loves to be in the garage with me while I work on the wagon and he's quick to jump into harness to try out my latest inventions.
We also worked on preparing him for therapy dog tests. Even though we hadn't had him six months, Gayle let me run him through mock tests when we were doing other Delta Society Pet Partners tests. With all of the pulling he'd been doing it wasn't much of a surprise that loose-lead heeling would be a problem but he was great in all of the aptitude test exercises.
We work on heeling, stays and recalls at University Place now. Morgan has become quite the celebrity there and he interacts beautifully with the residents. After only a few days he seemed to "get it."
On July 16, 2006 Morgan easily passed his Delta Society Pet Partners evaluations with Kyler and then Kitty. I had been worried about his interaction with a neutral dog and his loose-lead heeling. We didn't have the slightest problem with either. The test was a breeze until "leave it"; we failed that one with great determination! (We're allowed two "not ready" marks in that section.) On the following Wednesday we worked on this in our class and he picked up on it quickly. Note that Kitty passed with Morgan after all of about 90 seconds of practice the night before. He makes it easy.
owned by: kyler
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