Lars is an incredibly special creature. I found him--or really, as reported in my story on Care2 that went viral, Fozzie found him--and transformed him from a feral stray to a goofy family dog.
In my house, Lars learned the joys of domesticity.
He went from being impossible to even touch, to being a dog who would come up to me, stick his head on the floor next to my lap, and flop his whole body over to end up paws akimbo and primed for a belly rub.
Though he reacts when he sees other dogs on leash, he still likes to be close to Fozzie and seems to love other dogs when properly introduced.
Though still not what you'd call gregarious, he has developed a closeness with Florian and he approaches for petting and begs for food when my dad or Uncle Johnny come over.
He loves to be close to us. OK, especially me. If I get up and walk into another room, he'll follow me.
So yes, he's a bit of an anxious man, but I consider it a good sign that he takes comfort in being close to his humans.
He loves it when I take his head in both my hands, and massage the whole thing, rotating his ears and rubbing his scalp, squishing his nose and mouth and massaging his teeth and gums as I kiss his nose and he kisses mine. We could do that for hours.
So I am torn between thinking that Lars is really a pretty normal dog, who could adapt and be happy in a range of different homes and with a bit more focused, positive training, and thinking that he is a special dog who really needs an experienced owner who knows and loves his breed.
Because there are still those times when he plays a bit roughly, and his teeth come down on my hand a bit too hard. Not because he's trying to bite me, but because he's mouthy, playful, and clearly has not ever been thoroughly socialized.
There are times when, on a walk, he jumps at a jogger going past. Probably because of his prey drive and anxiety, and not aggression or a desire to do harm. Probably, if he got close enough, he would just do a nose bump and not a bite. But still, he needs some management and training.
So there are some reasons Lars probably shouldn't go to a home with a first-time dog owner, or a bunch of small kids.
On the other hand, there are far more challenging dogs out there, who find loving homes every day.
Lars loves his humans and is treat motivated, smart, and easy to train. While he loves to go for drives, go hiking and running and walking and tennis ball chasing, he's calm in the house and happy lounging around.
He loves other dogs, and he does his best to avoid conflict with dogs who don't like him.
So we've gotten some applications for Lars, but I haven't felt quite right about any of then yet. One wanted to jog with him and their other dog, and I worried he'd nip at another jogger.
Another had a big yard that was not totally fenced, and had no other dogs, and a 12-year-old kid who wanted to wrestle with the dog, and I worried he'd run away, or be miserable staying home alone with no other dog to keep him company, or nip at the kid.
I've worked with rescue groups and shelters that would definitely have turned away these adopters, others that would have approved them almost immediately. What's the right approach?
Sometimes I feel fine just taking whatever time it takes to find him a perfect home, and if that doesn't come along maybe just keep him.
Other times I feel that if I hear Lamar bark and snarl at him one more time, or have to take two separate dog walks on an evening when I'm already tired and rushed, or decide to bring them all on one walk and regret it when Lars and Fozzie both decide to lurch after a cat or a squirrel at once, I will explode.
And I despair that there are so many homeless dogs out there that a gorgeous one like Lars doesn't get snatched up immediately, and rescue groups are so overwhelmed that none of them really wants to help or can help, and Florian tells me that as soon as I get a promising applicant, I should just go with it and not worry so much.
Am I thinking too much?
Lars, what's best for you?