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Sweet(ie) Georgia Brown

It’s time for another update on Sweetie — now Sweet Georgia Brown — the deaf cattle dog you helped bring across the country to a breed specialist.

There’s a lot of good news, but one bit of of bad: Sweetie still hasn’t found her forever home! Here’s a report from ACD expert Linda Watkins.

Could you or someone you know give a “fur-ever” home to this girl who’s been through so much? Or even offer a foster home where she could get the training and confidence building she still needs?

Linda writes:

It’s been a year now since Sweetie (now Georgia) came into our lives. The sad news is that she’s still waiting for her forever home, BUT there’s lots of good news from her life.

Some of you may recall that this pretty little girl was found wandering alone last November in South Carolina. She was scared, skinny, and needed a good flea treatment — all of which were provided by her rescuer (Mary Lou Seymour), who also got her spayed, microchipped, and updated on vaccinations. But Georgia had two strikes against her: she is deaf, and she was heartworm positive. After several attempts to place Georgia in rescues and forever homes in her home state, it was decided that maybe she’d be better off with a rescue that is familiar with her breed, so with the help of many folks (including a number of you who read Claire’s blog), the money was raised and she flew to Oregon on April 1.

After a two-week stay with Claire, I picked up Georgia on April 15 and we prepared to start her heartworm treatment. This isn’t a project to be taken lightly. It involves some serious money and medication: three deep intramuscular shots that require the dog to be sedated as they are deep and painful, and about 12 weeks of minimal exercise while the worms are dying, decomposing, and being shed through the bloodstream. Then regularly repeated blood tests to ensure that she is heartworm-free. Thanks to so many of you who contributed, on January 20 Georgia will have her final blood test, and we have every reason to believe that she’ll be HW-negative. Her x-rays showed no damage to her heart and we expect her to live a full, normal life.

Since late April, Georgia has been in the care of a wonderful pair of foster dads. They both work full time and they’re not “dog wonks” like so many of us who work in rescue, but they ARE loving, gentle people and they’ve done wonders with Georgia (in fact they’re responsible for her name change as they said after the first few days that even though she wasn’t from that state, she still is a little “Georgia peach”). Just being in one home with a regular schedule and knowing what to expect each day has gone a long way to helping Georgia settle down and start building some confidence in herself and her world.

She rides quietly in the car these days, instead of lunging and barking at passing vehicles; she walks well on leash; she’s well-behaved (if not 100% comfortable) out in public — even places like Lowe’s and PetCo. She allows strangers to pet her but doesn’t linger and will hide behind her person. Rusti and Ted have faced some challenges with Georgia — her excitability when she sees a stranger near “her” yard — but they’ve persevered. While she’ll still bark, she doesn’t become hysterical and they can get her back to them to settle down.

She’s not had her walk today; it’s cold, wet, and strong winds here this morning. Nothing I want to walk in, but she’s laying quietly by my feet — alert every time I get up, hoping we’re going to DO SOMETHING, but basically accepting of the fact that we’re just hanging out.

The most noticeable change, to me, is that while she’s still a very typical “velcro” cattle dog, she is not as demanding of physical contact, petting/reassurance as she was the day I received her from Claire. She does want to have me in her sight, but if she’s confined to another room, as long as she can see me, she’ll settle down and even sleep. If she’s being left home, she crates well and is fine in there until we return; and she crates at night (although the first couple of nights were a little rough), but her preference would be to sleep on the bed. A poor second would be a crate in the bedroom.

She knows some signs: come, sit, down, and stay. But she’s not 100% yet! Georgia is a pretty typical young Australian cattle dog (heeler), and if you’re interested, you can learn more about her breed at She definitely will push the rules to see how far she can go with bending or “adjusting” them! I’ve picked up a laster pointer and am using it for both training and play as she does love to chase that little red bug around the floor!

Georgia still has a few behavioral issues, but nothing that can’t be easily addressed given some time and training. I also truly believe that she would be a really fun little agility dog. Agility would provide some focus for her energy, and I’ve seen before how it can help build confidence in a dog who has little — both with humans and other dogs. She’s still has some social issues around other dogs;once again, nothing serious. Of course she can’t be in an unfenced/open area without being leashed, and she can never be left out in a yard (even a securely fenced one) unsupervised (well, no dog really should).

Georgia has been visiting me for the last 10 days so I could do some evaluation and I think it’s time for her to move to a new foster — or preferably forever — home where she can move forward with her training and social skills.

So far, I’ve not found the right place for her: with someone who has the interest in taking on the challenge of training a deaf dog — a person who is ready to challenge their own ways of thinking, communicating, and seeing the world. She also needs a home where she can more easily be separated from other dogs in the home — not because she’s aggressive towards them, but because she is afraid of them and believes that a good offense is the best defense! I believe that given time and positive reinforcement she can learn to live comfortably with another easy-going dog, but right now she’s still pretty defensive. A home with no other dogs would be the easiest, but it wouldn’t teach her anything about getting along. She’s been living with a senior kitty named Sassy, who lives by her name, so Georgia knows that kitties are not to be messed with, but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t try if she found one that would run. I would not have her in a home with birds. A home with older children is certainly a possibility (depending on the children). We’d recommend 10+ years old.

We’re very proud of our little blue-eyed girl, and we’re very grateful to all of you who helped make it possible for us to care for her and get her healthy. Georgia is a sweet, gentle girl with so much love to give, and a lot to teach us — about being deaf, about seeing the world, and about loving unconditionally. If you know of someone, or think you might be up for the challenge of meeting her needs and expectations, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

I live near Portland, OR and we’d like to keep her w/in the OR/WA/ID/Nor. CA (north of Sacramento) area, so that we can more easily retrieve her if she goes somewhere and it doesn’t work out. Contact me if you’d like to talk more: watkins at ridenbaugh dot com

Linda Watkins
Pet Adoption Network/
Australian Cattle Dog Rescue, Inc.
watkins at ridenbaugh dot com



  1. Ellendra
    Ellendra December 19, 2012 3:10 pm

    It’s a long shot, but if she’s still looking for a home by the time my house is finally built enough to move in to, I’d be happy to adopt her.

    (Unfortunately I don’t have a timeframe for that, so I won’t be offended if someone else adopts her first)

  2. jed
    jed December 19, 2012 5:19 pm

    Well, that poor girl. Hope she finds a good home soon.

    Some friends of mine took in a Heeler (this was quite a few years ago), who “found them”. Abandonded or what, nobody knows, but obviously (to her) it was a dog house. Well, she was right about that. She had to live with a Lab and a Malamute. And a rather eclectic bunch of people who were there in various combinations at various times.

  3. Claire
    Claire December 19, 2012 5:22 pm

    Thanks, Ellendra. Yeah, that’s probably a long shot. We’re all hoping Sweet Georgia finds a forever home soon. But who knows?

    She’s turning out to be one of those dogs you get once in a while who just can’t find her way home. Eventually, she will.

  4. Mary Lou
    Mary Lou December 19, 2012 9:21 pm

    Actually, Sweetie was found in Georgia … though I live in SC, she wandered into a friend of a friends yard across the state line near Waynesboro GA … they called me and I said I’d try to help … what a beauty she is, I pray that she finds a forever home soon, it broke my heart that I couldnt place her, I usually have good luck placing dogs… thanks Linda for the update

  5. Mike
    Mike December 20, 2012 10:16 am

    We have always been a ‘two dog house”. My old yellow lab, Sam, passed on last summer and that leaves Nigel, the Dobie, all by himself. The problem is my cats. I’ve been around heelers before and they’ve always been quick to get after a cat. Any info on how seetie would do with cats? The girls are getting somewhat older and don’t need the stress. Other than that, she’d be welcome at my house. It includes sleeping on the bed, a walk at the park every day and a fenced yard.

  6. Claire
    Claire December 20, 2012 12:06 pm

    Mike — True about the heelers’ reputation with cats. Linda does say that Georgia has been living in a foster home for months with a senior cat, and the cat has taught Georgia some manners.

    I also have a cattle dog/border collie mix who loves (in a good way) and is loved by my cat — but it took months to make the connection. Until then, the cat had her own part of the house and was always on her high perch when I’d bring the dogs in for introductions and treats. (Oddly, right from the beginning the cat favored Ava, who was obviously the dog most likely to want to chase her. Now they’re great buds.)

    May I pass your email info to Linda? Or you can contact her at watkins at ridenbaugh dot com.

    It’s wonderful that you’re interested.

  7. Mike
    Mike December 20, 2012 1:10 pm

    Please let Linda know of my interest and keep me in the loop if you don’t mind. I want to run this by my wife to eliminate any misunderstanding. I made that mistake once a lot of years ago and don’t wish a repeat. I’ve always like healers, have a place for one, but I’m a little concerned about the cats. Where her herd instincts would be valuable is keeping my chickens out of the front yard. If she could handle keeping five lazy hens in their place, life would be good for all of us.

  8. Linda
    Linda December 20, 2012 1:16 pm

    Thank you, Mike – as far as we know she’d be fine with cats.

    My question for you would be more how you’d plan to handle helping her get used to the your Dobie – as I mentioned, she is defensive around other dogs, which leads her to protect “her” stuff – i.e. when feeding, the dogs need to be separated – either in separate rooms or opposite ends of a large room; bones/chewey toys cannot be left laying around – if she has one she’ll feel the need to defend it.

    She’s fine w/ a dog if introduced slowly and allowed to be around them in an open/neutral area, but she does get defensive in the house – so I keep her on leash in the house and attached to me at all times – or else she’s crated or confined away from the other dogs – or they are separated from her.

    Initially – and by initially I mean for at least a month or so – it’s going to be a question of “managing” their interaction – and if she does get a chance to snark at your Dobie and he responds by snapping back, I don’t think she’d back down.

    I’m not trying to discourage you – but I do want you to be prepared – this wouldn’t be a seamless blending – it would take some attention, and effort.


  9. Linda
    Linda December 20, 2012 1:17 pm

    LOL Mike –

    Remember she’s deaf – so I think if you let her near your chickens you’d want her on leash just in case the excitement level got too high!

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