Pet of the week: Wary Hunter will show playful side

SPCA animal supervisor Lyndie Scott knows that the key to winning the playful affections of Lab mix Hunter is some patient bonding time and a handful of treats. Rachel Mahoney/Daily

WINCHESTER — It took a little bit of socialization and a whole lot of bribery with treats to get lively and goofy Hunter out of his shell.

Hunter is an 8-month-old Lab mix with plenty of energy to play with an attentive household. His owners gave him to the Winchester SPCA on Sep. 9 because they were moving and couldn’t take him with them.

When he first arrived at the shelter, it was clear that he has a hard time trusting people because of his apparent standoffishness toward the staff. His previous owners noted that he would make a good guard dog because of his wariness.

Animal supervisor Lyndie Scott said Hunter took a while to get acclimated to his new surroundings at the shelter and form bonds with those who work there. A rather timid and cautious dog during introductions, he soon became quite the eager playmate after staff members took the time to work with him.

“I see him being so loyal to someone,” Scott said. “I mean, he does have Lab in him; Labs are awesome family dogs.”

He hasn’t had a lot of socialization with young children, so the shelter recommends families with kids younger than 12 years old exercise special caution in making sure they know what makes dogs uncomfortable. Hunter tends to flop onto his back and wiggle around to beg for attention — and at around 50 pounds, he might end up bowling over small children in his flurries of enthusiasm.

During meet and greet sessions set up by shelter workers, Hunter had plenty of interactions with other dogs but tended to be selective about his canine friends. Likewise, the shelter hasn’t had him spend a lot of time around cats. But after gaining some familiarity with his new owners, he’ll no longer be timid about begging for attention.

Shelter office assistant Angie Meray suggested that Hunter’s new family keep him as an indoor dog with outside time for bathroom breaks and playtime.

“He’s been an indoor dog … he’s not going to be a dog that’s able to be chained out or anything like that because that would just totally send him over the edge,” she said.

This rambunctious dog can find a good outlet for his energy by playing fetch at the park with a tennis ball or accompanying his owners on a good jog.

Still a young pup, Hunter’s youthful reserves of energy can be channeled into productive training with the right incentive of a tasty treat. Scott said she gained much of his trust when he was first at the shelter by offering him cheese — and he still anticipates the reward.

“He is eager to learn, definitely,” she said. “I see him being a lot of fun for the right family.”

Hunter’s previous owners neutered him and gave him multiple treatments. He’s had shots for rabies, distemper, bordetella and treatment for worms, fleas and ticks. Hunter’s adoption fee is $75 and his new owners will have seven to 10 days to take advantage of a free vet checkup the shelter offers from its approved list.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com