I wonder if you have ever had a situation when going about your “so called” normal day something happens that makes your heart skip a beat and your stomach turns upside down. You stand stunned even dumbstruck in total disbelief. Well that was me a few weeks ago when a small extremely scared and frightened little furkid arrived at Dogtown.
Dogtown had been contacted by a family who said they had a 4 month old puppy that they could not touch or get near as he wanted to bite them and they had small children and were scared there would be an accident. They wanted him gone!! We were very taken aback by this as a young puppy normally just wants to play and have lots of fun with people. Our chief trainer went to the people’s property as requested and found a very scared little dog in the garden. On approaching him he just ran away growling and barking. Well to cut a long story short, after a while our trainer was able to catch this little furry and get him into one of our crates and bring him to Dogtown.
When we opened the crate in front of his new run it was pitiful to see such a small little pup so terrified lying as far back as possible in the crate with eyes as big as saucers and absolutely still. He would not and did not move. Eventually we slowly and gently tipped the crate up so that he actually slid into the run. He moved and backed himself right into the corner and just lay there. It was heartbreaking to see this and we just stood quietly wondering where to start to help this “littlie” regain his trust in humans and his zest for life. He did not move from that spot again until the next day. During the night he had not eaten or drunk any water or even got up to relieve himself. When I came to the front or the kennel to see him he lay still and urinated when he heard my voice, still too scared to move. I was so sad. So the healing had to begin immediately for this little chap.
Every day from then on and whenever I past his run I would talk to him, throw some yummy treats in to him and just continue walking on. The idea of passing by many times a day and talking calmly was to allow him to get to know my voice, as well as to try and help settle him into his new surroundings at his own pace and without having to cope with face to face contact.
Gradually he started to venture to the front when I had gone past thinking I could not see him, as I made sure I was out of his sight and then very cautiously took the treats and retreated back into his igloo to eat. His igloo was full of blankets and toys and was his “safe” place where he could snuggle in to and feel secure. Luckily it did not take long before he would gingerly come and take a treat near my hand and then rush back to his igloo but he was still hesitant and a wee bit suspicious. One morning I took a blanket and sat inside the run with him with lots of treats and slowly but surely he licked my fingers and just back off slightly. Then he would rush off again back to his “safe” place wait a few seconds and then come back and each time I could see he was getting calmer as well as enjoying licking the liver paste off my fingers. I was thrilled. During this time our super volunteer Shivani started assisting me and sitting outside the run talking to Moby. This showed him that it was safe for him to be around other people and nobody was going to harm him. She then came many afternoons after work just to sit with him and encourage him to take treats from her through the fence. This type of help is invaluable and greatly appreciated.
Shivani and I could see he was wearing a collar which was extremely tight around his neck and together with the added use of liver paste all over our fingers so that he was busy licking it off, we gently worked around his neck and gradually off it came. He was so very gentle all this time so it was hard to believe he would have bitten anyone. As he started to come out of his shell, we moved him into a slightly bigger garden and within a day he was running up and down and playing which was fantastic.
From then on he went from strength to strength and is now running around the entire garden chasing his ball, the birds and barking at us all as we go by just like a puppy should. We brought one of our other puppies in to meet him to see how he would respond to other dogs and he just loved the company. They played in and out of the runs, jumping and chasing each other until they were exhausted – it really was wonderful to see how Moby had changed and was really happy.
Now we are teaching him to wear a harness so that he can go out for walks and start socializing with many more of our other furkids.
So really it is just a matter of time when he will be ready to go to his own forever home where he will be able to shower a family with all the love, affection and confidence that he has regained. Wouldn’t that just be his best reward ever
By Joanna, Trainer