Pet Stuff...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rescue Dogs and Heartache...Their's and Your's

Most foster dogs have been through a lot. They may have been passed around, lost an owner they loved, or been abused either mentally or physically. Either way, any of this emotional or physical trauma would be enough to drive a human crazy. Yet, dogs endure. They can go through unspeakable things and yet still look at the next human that comes into their life as a possible friend. Dogs are unconditional, be nice to me and I'll be nice to you. If you ever meet a bad dog, it's just his reaction to the last bad human he met. He wants to trust and love. Its his nature. But sometimes, when trust is lost, the next human in line has to give a little to rebuilt it.

Corona came to my house last January as a foster. She was afraid of everything, the household humans, the cat, the other dog, company, going outside, and ...well, everything. She sat in her crate for about a week, door open, and watched us. One day she came out to explore but ran right back to the crate when anyone made the slightest move. It was hard work getting her to take a treat. Mostly I ignored her and let her find her way over to me. She did so in her own time, slowly, fearfully.

Corona came from a hoarding situation and never in her 9 years had she seen the outside. She was kept in a barn having puppies. Her whole life was a fight for food, space, and survival. Hoarders bred her over and over again for 9 years and took her puppies too soon. When they did have contact with her, it wasn't in a good way. Most of the others that came up in her rescue transport were just like her; too thin, infected mouths/spay incisions, and afraid of everything. Some in the transport reacted by cowering and trembling. Corona went from retreating and shaking to charging and shaking. She was, what I'd call; un-adoptable. I knew her type of fear would escalate so I called in a professional trainer who worked in the "Positively" type of training.

It was slow, but over the months Corona came around. When I used to put the harness on her she'd run and hide. Take her out on a leash and she'd freeze and refuse to move. It was like standing on the front lawn with a little Chihuahua statue. Now, after lots of patient practice, when I pull out the leash she jumps up and down and runs to the front door. She loves walks! She's cuddly and sweet and loves belly rubs. She's a new dog from the one who had to be carried into my home a year ago. Now I'd call her adoptable.

A year. Corona has been by  my side for a year. She lost her fear here, learned to love here, and ...somewhere along the line, she stole the heart of this seasoned foster mama.

Introducing the newest addition to our household; Gambit! (formerly Corona) She found her furever home in our hearts.
If you want to know where the name "Gambit" came from look here.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

12 Months a Foster Dog?

What do you call a dog whose been in foster care for 12 months?
She's a 9...wait...10 year old, Chihuahua rescued from a hoarding situation in Tennessee. Castle of Dreams Animal Rescue brought her up last August with 4 other dogs. All were adopted except Corona.
This little dog had BIG fear issues. Mostly of people, outside, cars, noise, other dogs, and well, everything.

In hoarding situations the dogs rarely have human contact so a simple thing like a rub behind the ears can send the dog into panic mode. She's never been touched by humans so why should she trust you?
She's never been outside in all her 9 years and it really is a big, scary world out there. Cars? Never imagined such things. Other dogs? In a hoarding situation she had to fight for food, to protect her puppies, and even for the small spot of bare floor she called a bed. Her whole life was a fight.

In August 2012 she went to another foster home. She was emaciated, shaking, and so fearful she'd explode in barking fits at the slightest movement in the room. Although she was starting to come out of her shell in that home, things happened and she was moved to my home.

I recognized the fear right away. I could see it in her wide eyes as she tracked my movements, her growling as my own dog or cat went anywhere near her, and her tightly curled body. I set up a crate with a soft bed and blanket. Put a dish of water near by and fed her just outside the crate. She barely left the crate for over a week. One day I looked up and she was exploring the perimeter of the room with slow, hesitant steps. A day later she came up to me as I sat on the couch, gave me a sniff and ran back to the crate. Each day brought a little more daring on the part of this little Chihuahua, everyday she relaxed a little more.

We got a trainer for her. This trainer used positive training and things got a little better. She's more relaxed now, will walk on a leash (actually runs to the door now when the leash comes out instead of hiding). She's a great companion dog now with one exception; she barks at company.
I feel this is her last issue. Other than that she's a great dog. As I write this she's curled up by my side on the couch taking a nap. We're working on the barking. She's still up for adoption, but she is one year in my house this month so its going to hurt so much if she gets adopted.
Do I let her go so I can save another?