Duke seems very happy these days. Almost every time I visited him in the shelter he raised his head from the cement floor and looked at me for a few seconds, and then closed his eyes, and lowered his head. He seems a completely different dog now, and each day he reveals more of himself.
He's very loving and always wagging his tail and nuzzling my hand or leg. He sleeps a lot, but he also gets three long walks each day and is probably experiencing a lot of things he had never experienced such as wading in the lake, getting a full body massage, a bath, venison treats (and sardines, eggs, broccoli, tuna fish--before ellen put him on a hypoallergenic, limited-ingredient diet), and attention.
He stayed in a crate most of the first 24 hours, except when I walked him. Now he is staying in a small shaded cool area behind the house. It's difficult right now because I must keep him separated from my other pets to ensure he doesn't give them anything he might have picked up at the shelter. They can't meet or sniff each other until Monday. When Duke sees my cat through the window he barks, and he's very interested in the feral cats around the neighborhood. My dog acted similarly until a cat swatted him on the nose, and since then he ignores them.
Yesterday at the lake a small dog ran up to Duke and Duke backed into me and watched the dog. However, when he hears/sees bigger dogs splashing in the water or running after balls he gets excited. He loves to chase sticks (if thrown only about fifteen feet in front of him) and then play tug-of-war and chew on the stick. I gave him one medium-size rawhide, which he quickly chewed up. I wanted to get him a very large one, but I don't think it's allowed on his limited diet.
He does seem slow to notice things, and sometimes he stops and stares very intently at nothing. His eyes seem a bit cloudy, but he definitely can see. He gets excited by hearing barking, splashing, clapping, whistling, and when people talk in a high voice, so I know he can hear, despite the horrible ear infections he had (which are now better). However, several times he has not heard (or possibly ignored) me when I said his name, even when I said it louder than I usually would. His hair seems to already be growing back.
He's not too great on the leash. Though he usually walks beside me, sometimes he pulls very hard (especially when he sees cats). I got a new leash I think I can train him with, but I haven't figured out how to use it most effectively. Twice, consecutively, when I have had a treat in my hand and told him to sit and made a gesture toward the ground he has sat.
He has become very loyal, and he watches for me through the bedroom windows. He encourages me to rub and scratch him, and he licks my face when I let him.
Several people have asked about him when we're out on walks (mainly what breed he is) or commented on how sweet he seems. I think he will be stunning once he is fully in health.
So far, fostering Duke has been an amazing experience. I am quite attached...
I don't have a date for surgery, but Ellen said she would like to take care of his eyes and neuter him this week, if he's strong enough and is feeling better overall, which looks promising.