Camões – The Big Dog looking for a Good Home

The Short Version:

Camões is a big, 1 ½ year old mix of Estrella Mountain dog and Germain Shepherd (our best guess).  Though a large breed, he is very gentle, but as a “puppy” of 45 kilos, he simply doesn’t realize his own weight.  Camões loves to hang around you, walk on a trail or on the farm, and get full body hugs. 

Camões was rescued by our friend Sérgio in the nearby village, who saw Camões on the street, having recently been shot in the face, starving and who walked up to Sérgio asking for help.  After 6 months of care/surgery/recovery, Camões has recovered beautifully, albeit missing his left eye, which causes him zero problems in getting around, paying attention and having fun being a young dog. 

But during these last 6 months, Camões has been mainly kept in a 2 x 4 meter kennel, and only has 1-2 hours a day out for a walk or run with either Sérgio or myself (sometimes he gets to be around Sérgio’s two young boys and other dogs for a longer time, and be in the farm for half a day.  As well, we host Camões on our own quinta when life affords it).  This just isn’t enough for Camões, any dog really, and with his age and size, time is of the essence to find him a new home. 

Are you interested in meeting Camões, adopting him, having a special companion in your life?  Please get in contact with us ASAP.  Or, if you know anyone or anyplace this message could be forwarded to, please help out by passing it along.  We have lots more photos and videos we can share directly.  Thank you!

The Long Version:

For the last 3 weeks, I have been exercising Camões daily, in order to learn more about him, and give a way to release his energy from being kept in a kennel for 20 hours a day.  In addition to the above “Short Version” of his story and his behavior, here are observations that I have of Camões.

Being an Estrella Mountain dog mixed with German Shepherd, Camões is particularly attentive to whomever is around him, especially whomever is handling him.  He looks you directly in the eye, looking for the command.  This shows awareness, plus a great intelligence.  Being of these breeds, Camões also shows independence, but he never walks away or gets too far out of sight of whomever is handling him—he knows how to keep to the “pack.”  He comes almost immediately when you call him or whistle to him, which shows his desire to be obedient.  It is my observation that with a consistent, balanced hand of guidance and reward, he is still at a good age to learn commands and follow the lead of a new person (owner), in whatever context.  It will just take effort and consistency on the part of his person (as is required of any full dog training).

Camões is a big dog, and he wants to be near you for confirmation and petting.  He likes to lean against you, and get a soft pet on the face, or rubbed under his ears.  He is extremely gentle with his mouth, one of the gentlest mouths of any dog I’ve ever owned or trained.  He does not lick much at all, but likes to put his nose against your hand…probably to get you to pet him more!  Camões will let you touch him all over: paws, ears, mouth, tail, dig in his fur, etc.  He also lets me pick him up by under the chest, and to hang there while I hold his weight in my arms.  If you are dog person, you will know that holding a dog like this is a test to the dog’s willingness to be “controlled” by another.  He is what many would call submissive, but without being scared.  He also is rambunctious because of his age, and when he thinks you are touching him to play, that is really all he can do, is start to play.  So sometimes this makes getting his walking harness on a bit difficult.  Of course, with time, he will learn to be calm.  

As was said above, Camões is kept in a kennel, and does not have the freedom of movement upon the land that is what his breeding requires.  What is interesting about the kennel situation is that Camões will not soil (defecate and urinate) the kennel floor.  This is problematic in that someone must let him out every 8 hours, but also a good sign that Camões has “house trained” himself.  Thus, it is expected that he would quickly adapt to an inside/outside lifestyle.  Even if one did not want to keep Camões inside the house, his ability to sleep in a kennel without fuss would mean that nights kept in a kennel would be fine, with days free to roam or accompany his person (owner).  That said, it is absolutely important that Camões is not kept on a chain, though tie downs for training or temporary moments would make sense, as well as continuing his lease training (which I have begun and continue to do on a daily basis—I want to put Camões on a good path to accepting the leash, and to not be averse to being put on a walking leash).  When Camões is left free on the land, he follows people around, and to see what there is to see, but then takes a rest nearby, waiting for the next adventure. At times, Camões is curious and will go explore. I have been letting him have more and more independence, and be able to explore farther and farther off without me, and I use this as a moment to practice he recall. 90% of the time he comes running. Impressive for his youthfulness.

On walks upon the trail, Camões stays close, and is very responsive to verbal/whistle recall.  I am personally making sure this solidifies in his mind, so at the moment I’m alternating treat rewards with physical pet rewards.  I am also working on teaching him to fetch and retrieve, since he naturally wants to play with a stick—he is hilarious in that he likes to throw the stick in the air and then catch it again!—but that is not good for his teeth.  Camões is learning to play with a rubber Kong pull toy, plus other pull toys. He is retrieving and playing very gently, and even when he wants to really tug with you, he will let go if you ask it of him.

Camões has shown to have a very accepting temperament, but with more and more time kept in a kennel and without free experiences, there is a known trend in sheltered dogs to possibly lose such a good temperament, or, require more time to regain it once finding a good home.  Camões wants to interact with other dogs.  He does not become reactive when other dogs are around, when we pass them on the street walking, as they bark at him (as they are guarding their own homes).  He pauses, looks, then moves on without fuss.  Our friend Sérgio has introduced Camões to his own 2 dogs, one another full Estrela Mountain dog, the other a tiny Portugues lap dog (mutt).  They cause no problems. We have also introduced Camões to our aging Dalmation and to some friends small Romanian foxhound, and Camões is very respectful to listen to them (both of these two older dogs have growled at Camões to keep some distance, and now Camões is very respectful of their space. He got the message!).  I cannot say these dogs all get along, since Camões is not given many hours to spend with them, but there is no aggressiveness.  Obviously, introducing a new dog in with other dogs takes time and patience and the right approach.  Camões also shows no special interest in cats.  He also has been in a yard with chickens and shown no interest to chase.  But as will all dogs moving into a new environment, care should be taken to find the trust before leaving all the animals together and alone.

Recent Edit: As one can see in the video above, Camões is playing with my mother’s labrador Rosie, of 8 years old. Since this video was made, they’ve had a few more moments to play together, and for lack of better words, they are falling in love with each other—playing, running, cuddling, gnawing on each other…it is all really sweet and good play, for the both of them. It shows Camões’ interest to have play partners, and/or be living with another dog that will accept him and his play.

Camões has shown a one-time desire to chase another small dog (a failed experience on my part!). He was surprised by a free-roaming super friendly neighbors dog who turned a corner near our house unexpectedly, and Camões went running toward the little dog, who then got scared and starting running away from Camões at top speed. Camões pursued the little dog, and when I eventually caught up to them, Camões had stopped running, the little dog was hiding somewhere, and after I got Camões on a leash, I saw from the corner of my eye the little dog ran away to home—later, the little dog came back and was totally fine. Honestly, Camões just wanted to smell and play with that dog so bad that he couldn’t stop chasing (the the little dog wanted none of it! But this might have exasperated the situation). The biggest fault here in my opinion is that Camões wouldn’t stop chasing when I called at him, but this is something to accept since he is still an young, untrained dog.

Why can’t we adopt him, you may be wondering, if Camões shows all these special traits?  The answer is that currently we have a 16-year old cat and a 15-year old dog (who has dementia, incontinence and mobility issues from spinal nerve degradation!), and these two very dependent-on-us animals in our family are not accepting Camões into the fold.  While we could make the effort to have all these animals live separately upon our quinta, that is not the lifestyle we wish to have.  We already know that putting stress on the existing cat and dog with these older ages is not the best option, plus, even for Camões, he would be better off with other younger animals—dogs and/or cats—that wish to interact with him, to play and to socialize.  Our current family pets are saying no, and as loving animal owners, we have to respect that.  I will add that it saddens us that time is not right and the conditions are not presenting themselves, but in turn there is great effort still to find Camões the right home.  And in the meantime, to keep putting in daily effort as we can to give Camões attention, training and love in his current, compromised situation.

I could write even more about my observations and the continued experiences and moments I’ve been having taking care of Camões, but in reality, in-person meeting him and getting a direct experience as to his character, size and sweetness is what matters most.

So…are you NOW interested in meeting Camões, adopting him, having a special companion in your life???  Please get in contact with us ASAP.  Or, if you know anyone or anyplace this message could be forwarded to, please help out by passing it along.  We have lots more photos and videos we can share directly.  Thank you!