Ralphie is still a demon dog less than a week after going viral, but now he’s a “complete jerk” with thousands of fans.
The 26-pound rescue dog hit the internet on Jan. 17, when the Niagara County SPCA, a New York-based nonprofit, posted a brutally honest Facebook post about the adoptable pup, whom shelter staff described him as “fire-breathing” and “a whole jerk, not even half”.
The post garnered more than 2,000 likes and caught the attention of national media outlets.
Since the general public is clearly “invested in Ralphie’s success,” the shelter has continued to use social media to update new Ralphie fans about his adoption process. On Tuesday, the Niagara County SPCA offered a look at a training session with the dog designed to help wean Raplhie from her aggressive and possessive habits.
“In an attempt to make Ralphie a true gentleman, SPCA staff members Liz and Tina picked out an outfit for him for a training excursion to our local Joann Fabrics,” the shelter shared in a Facebook post.
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The trip began as expected, based on Ralphie’s history of bad manners.
“It was a full moon on the car, bouncing front to back,” the post read.
Once Ralphie the demon dog arrived at Joann’s house, things took a turn for the better. She interacted with another client, who “didn’t realize she was taking her own life into her own hands,” but he was “out of her element of her” so he “stayed rigid and looked at her sideways. Liz and Tina took him a “safe distance” to make sure the encounter continued to be enjoyable.
After the encounter, he “trotted over to a mirror where he continued, like any true idiot, to endlessly admire himself, really checking from every angle,” the publication added.
For Ralphie, the outing was a complete success. “No blood was shed” and “they weren’t told never to come back” for which the SPCA was happy.
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Ralphie’s behaviour, the SPCA said in its first post about him, is likely due to how he was treated at a previous home. According to the shelter, staff members believe the dog was spoiled by its previous owners.
This previous lack of boundaries has led Ralphie to develop problematic protection over his spaces, such as his kennel, which he can be seen defending in a video shared by the SPCA. In the clip, when a staff member tries to enter the kennel, the dog jumps up, trying to “bite his fingers.” The staffer’s hesitation signals to Ralphie that “he’s in control of the situation,” reinforcing his behavior, according to the Niagara County SPCA.
“Our best guess is that Ralphie’s cute face gave him everything he wanted, and limits are something he’s heard people talk about, but they didn’t apply to him,” the original Facebook post about the dog read. “His first owners took him in to board and train him, but their relationship was built on the premise that Ralphie was the boss, so things ended abruptly. They rehomed him. Two weeks in this new home and handed him over to us because [he] ‘it bothers our older dog.’ What they really meant was: Ralphie is a fire-breathing demon and he’ll eat our dog, but hey, he’s only 26 pounds.”
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As the shelter continues to search for a permanent home for Ralphie, they have strict guidelines on what type of adopter they will accept. Anyone with children or another pet is off limits. Both provide “less one-on-one time for him to train” and are “potential targets for him.”
“While we have used humor to help make his behaviors more acceptable for public consumption, his behaviors are not a joke,” a Wednesday post about the dog said. “That’s why we’re being very picky about her adopter.”
For now, the shelter takes him on hikes like Joann’s on Tuesday and encourages him to practice yoga to calm his nerves.
“He’s 100% a complete jerk, but we think he has the potential to be a good guy, if only for a percentage of the time,” the Niagara County SPCA added.