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Hi! About three months ago a dog was run over by a van and it happened right in front of me. He was pretty badly injured. He was unable to stand on his hind legs and was peeing blood. So I took him home, I took care of him and now he's doing pretty good. He runs a bit sideways but he can walk just fine. He is a very serious guy, doesn't like toys. He just wants out to mark every corner and sniff everything. I should add that he's a medium/small size dog around three years of age and the accident happened on a mountain road.
For a while I thought maybe I should keep him but today after we returned home from our walk, I didn't leash him before he got out from the car and he just walked away. I called him but I was completely ignored. A few seconds later he was already two blocks away and crossed a road. I ran after him and eventually caught him but this made me think that maybe it's time to let him go. I tried to provide the best care I could, the best food, three (at least one hour) walks a day and other weekly leash free trips in the wild but maybe it's not enough. Three years of his life he survived just fine without me. Maybe it's time to let him go. What do you think?
 

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Hi! About three months ago a dog was run over by a van and it happened right in front of me. He was pretty badly injured. He was unable to stand on his hind legs and was peeing blood. So I took him home, I took care of him and now he's doing pretty good. He runs a bit sideways but he can walk just fine. He is a very serious guy, doesn't like toys. He just wants out to mark every corner and sniff everything. I should add that he's a medium/small size dog around three years of age and the accident happened on a mountain road.
For a while I thought maybe I should keep him but today after we returned home from our walk, I didn't leash him before he got out from the car and he just walked away. I called him but I was completely ignored. A few seconds later he was already two blocks away and crossed a road. I ran after him and eventually caught him but this made me think that maybe it's time to let him go. I tried to provide the best care I could, the best food, three (at least one hour) walks a day and other weekly leash free trips in the wild but maybe it's not enough. Three years of his life he survived just fine without me. Maybe it's time to let him go. What do you think?
Letting him wander off not knowing his possible fate would bother me. How would you feel if he got run over again?

That you caught him is a result in my book. You are probably giving him the best home he is likely to get. Don't give up on that.
 

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I don't think any dog is very adept at taking care of himself. Despite the image he may project, they are too domesticated, and their 'wild' instincts' are just too muted for survival in the wild. After three months you and he must have something of a bond. I don't believe I could just 'let him go'.
 

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I'm sure he appreciates what you have done for him, but he may have an owner that he loves very much and that he has bonded with, and perhaps that is where he was going.
We do not know what led to the accident, I would not automatically fault the previous owner. I personally think that prior to making any other decision, you should do what you can to see whether the previous owner is looking for this dog.
 

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Thank you for your replies! It's a long story but I know for a fact that he doesn't have a previous owner. He has been a stray all his life.
About his 'domesticated instincts' I'm not so sure. We humans like to think that everything revolves around us but I believe this is not so. In the case of dogs, maybe a deformed dog like a chihuahua or a very big dog, bred only for looks, would have problems surviving in the wild. But this dog, for instance, seems very adapted for survival in the wild. He looks like a fox almost but his coat is colored like that of a GS. Kids always ask me if it's a fox. He's around 10 kilos so he doesn't need too much to eat and I'm sure he could go on weeks without food. Despite his size, he is very strong in his upper body, having very muscular neck and shoulders. Also, I think he has a powerful sense of smell, he always picks some scent and follows it nose on the ground. And he likes to walk and explore new areas. After a few kms I get tired but he wants more. He probably comes from a long line of strays. I think it would be tough for him to survive if I were to return him to the place I found him but he would survive like he did before and maybe he would be even happier. I look at him and I can tell he wants out all the time.
 

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I agree that being free comes with many risks but I talk about what makes a dog happy. He surely is unable to grasp concepts like security or even human affection as I have come to realize. He goes with the moment and that's it. A free life is more dangerous but also more interesting...
 

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It sounds like you are the best chance at a stable life really, if you're willing to put in some patience and time - I think you're already half way there.

Mom was the most soft hearted person I've ever known, and it's rubbed off. We had alot of strays come through the house over the years, cats and dogs. We'd get the dogs fattened up some, adjust behaviors and someone else would take them. Some were in good shape and clearly lost, track down the owners - but it's not that hard to tell which dogs have been on the street for a while.

Some dogs however just didn't want the life, can't explain it, reminded me of the littlest hobo. One dog spent 3 days with us, 2 hots and a cot so to speak, slept in the house but wanted to be outside during the day. Never came back, we spotted him a couple of weeks later a town over.

You mentioned trust in another thread, gaining trust is going to be difficult to street dog. Most times a puppy learns from a young age to conform to the human lifestyle, this one didn't so time and patience are what you need. Dogs will follow those they trust. And sadly, if the dog is surrendered to the humane society with the history and injury, he likely won't be adopted.
 

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Thanks jagger. Although I am not a dog type of guy - whatever that means - I would like to keep him. He is a gentle creature, very submissive and well behaved.

During our trips in the mountains he always follows me. Sometimes I deliberately choose a difficult, steep path to see if he would follow and to put his bad legs to work and he looks at me from below like 'are you stupid to go that way?', but then he comes to me. In his mind if he is in a 200 meters radius around me, it means he's nearby. I don't know where he is but he knows where I am.

There is some trust between us, but he's an unpredictable creature. It's really a pity that 'the call' isn't reliable also because the next step of a responsible owner would be to keep the dog leashed all the time and this sucks.
 

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Thanks jagger. Although I am not a dog type of guy - whatever that means - I would like to keep him. He is a gentle creature, very submissive and well behaved.

During our trips in the mountains he always follows me. Sometimes I deliberately choose a difficult, steep path to see if he would follow and to put his bad legs to work and he looks at me from below like 'are you stupid to go that way?', but then he comes to me. In his mind if he is in a 200 meters radius around me, it means he's nearby. I don't know where he is but he knows where I am.

There is some trust between us, but he's an unpredictable creature. It's really a pity that 'the call' isn't reliable also because the next step of a responsible owner would be to keep the dog leashed all the time and this sucks.
Sometimes it takes the right dog to show us that we are dog people. A lady friend that I've known for 12 yeas hated dogs - and I mean hated. She met her current pup, a poodle and it changed her life. Always said when I die I want to come back as her dog, life of royalty.

I'd prefer to have dogs off leash and behaved as well to be honest. Maybe recall should be the next step for you. I personally don't use treats to exact a response out of dogs. Good recall - it's never 100% btw - is probably the best way for you to gain the trust you need in the dog.
 

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Oh man... I think there must be a bitch in heat around somewhere and he can smell it. Probably that's why he's been acting so weirdly in the last few days.

As for the recall, it usually works when he is no more than say... 30 meters away. If he's farther that that, there's a (big) chance he won't come.
 

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Oh man... I think there must be a bitch in heat around somewhere and he can smell it. Probably that's why he's been acting so weirdly in the last few days.

As for the recall, it usually works when he is no more than say... 30 meters away. If he's farther that that, there's a (big) chance he won't come.
So it sounds like if you can get a good recall down, then you'd be happier with the dog...?
 

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Of course. Who wouldn't be? For everything I do for him, there are only two things I want: he should do his 'business' out (which he does) and he should always come when called (for his safety mostly). Is that too much to ask? (kidding... of course it is...)
 

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Okay a few things. First of all, dogs--no matter their breed, size or strength are a domestic animal. Being "domestic" doesn't mean "will die in the wild and can't hunt". If you had tried to help say, an injured wolf the same way you did this dog, it's safe to say you'd have been seriously injured and the wolf would not have allowed it. The dog's acceptance of you, your help and your company all this time just proves they are a domestic animal.

Second of all, a dog not coming to you when you call doesn't mean they don't want to come to you or they want to go live in the wild. It means at that moment, they're doing/smelling something more interesting than spending time with you (like a bitch in heat you mentioned). Please don't just let him go out in the street. He could easily get killed, go hungry (even good hunters can struggle to find food), die, or get hurt or sick again. If it's safe to let him be free roaming sometimes, maybe that's ok. But I'm sure he's got a bond with you and would want to come back anyway.
 

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Don't let him return to the stray life. Dogs barely get by as strays. Life on the streets is nasty, brutish, and short. If you don't believe me, look at some stray dog rescues on YouTube. Often these dogs are near starving, injured, and have health problems that are easily treatable but making them miserable (mange, ticks, fleas, worms). They transform into happy and healthy dogs after going to the vet to get patched up and being trained to live among people. Admittedly, training a stray dog is not easy. But suffice it to say, I think dogs are domesticated enough that they have a symbiotic relationship with humans. They don't do well when left to their own devices. They depend upon us to take care of them, and repay us in their own way (by doing a job, or being all jumpy and licky when we get home from work).
 

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This story is making more sense now.

Dogs, wild vs domestic? Misuse of terms, domestic means changed genetically through human intervention. That's why we can refer to plans as domesticated. Dogs are absolutely domesticated. Can they also be wild vs tamed? Yes.

A dog like you are describing couldn't live out in the wilderness catching rabbits and squirrels. However, he is probably quite adept at surviving around humans eating garbage. While this life might be 'adventuresome' I don't know that we can call it 'free' or 'happy'. Also the truth is dogs living like that tend to live fine as adults but as soon as old age creeps in they can no longer hack it and die soon after.

But it also explains why he is acting the way he is. A dog's formative years are very important. He probably didn't have much exposure to humans who were actively caring for him, so he probably grew up for the most part ignoring the noises they make. Concepts such as him recognizing his name or coming when called are extremely foreign to him. Even aside what a pup learns, sounds like he spent at least a few years as a stray, where he's out wandering, following his nose, etc. It's going to be a long time before living with a human and getting used to those patterns becomes 'normal' and replaces living on the streets.

I say keep him, and work on actively training him to recognize his name. Start with teaching him basic dog things like sit, lay down, shake. For these three make sure you say his name first before the command. This will help him learn that the name means him and he should then wait for the next human-noise to understand what you want him to do. After that you work on 'come here'
 

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Of course. Who wouldn't be? For everything I do for him, there are only two things I want: he should do his 'business' out (which he does) and he should always come when called (for his safety mostly). Is that too much to ask? (kidding... of course it is...)
You are thinking about it wrong.

Don't ask if it is 'reasonable' or 'fair' to exchange food/shelter/medical care for obedience.

Instead ask 'is it reasonable to expect an animal who has lived one way for many years to totally abandon the behaviors that lead to it's survival in just a few weeks or months?'

Note it's often expected that a dog that lived with humans, then was in a dog shelter for a while, to take 3 months to 'come out of their shell' when adopted by a new owner.

Yes, at some point, evolutionarily, the proto-wolf's brain was 'programmed' to give up individuality for pack structure because it made their genes more likely to get passed on, even if it was as nieces and nephews. And dogs, in their time evolved with the concept of 'trading' live as wild creatures for easier access to food.

But that's not a conscious decision of the animal to say 'he feeds me, shelters me, medicates me, therefore I will obey him when he calls my name'

The dog is programmed to obey the pack leader even when not getting these things. Your dog, having lived all it's life as a stray has conditioning that overlays this programming which says 'this is how you have always survived, it's worked' so keep on doing it' also your dog has very little conditioning that says 'humans can be pack members or pack leaders'. It's likely your dog would readily join up with another dog, but will take a while to get the idea that you are part of his pack, the leader in fact, and that your wishes/commands should be followed.
 
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