Joanna, one of the trainers at Dogtown, tells the story of Wendy’s journey at Dogtown from wary to adoptable.
Wendy was named by Dogtown after her previous owners abandoned her and left her to look after herself and she ended up living under an old wooden Wendy house in an empty dwelling.
After this wretched start to her life Wendy was extremely wary of strangers and it took quite a long time for the Dogtown people to entice her out and bring her into our care. Initially she lived alone in her own garden with her own Wendy house and started slowly to begin trusting people again. As time went on she was introduced to an older small dog called Ricky but he had lots of arthritic issues so was not really a playful guy but at least she had company.
We were hoping that having a friend would help her to feel more confident around people. Sadly he passed away just after the two of them relocated to our farm in Hartbeespoort so she lost quite a bit of confidence suddenly with having to get used to a new environment and losing her buddy. However as she started to settle in again slowly plans were put into place for her to start meeting some of our calm dogs with the hope of finding a new friend. At the same time a space became available for her to move up to the Adorable Adoptable section where she could also meet more people and be exposed to more normal situations without being fearful.
Getting to know you
A programme was implemented for Wendy that the caregivers and I would do. Every day we would go into her run and just sit with her and wait to see if she would come to meet us. Using yummy treats like cut up pieces of viennas, she gradually started to get nearer and nearer to us or myself, if I was alone. Initially by throwing the treats to her gave her the option of not having to be too close if she felt unsure and gradually by throwing these nearer and nearer to us she soon was coming right up to take the food.
It didn’t take long before this became a regular “game” and as she relaxed we were able to touch her and she didn’t back off. All the time whoever was with her was talking in a calm voice. When a dog is so scared of people and wary of what may happen it really is up to them to make the first move and the human just has to be very patient. Each day she became more and more ready to interact and started to come right up for touches and strokes without so many treats. Then with her growing confidence she would be waiting at her gate, wagging her tail smiling her rather toothless smile ready for her visitors.
Getting ready to leave the run
Now we were starting doing two things for her. One was getting her back to walking outside and the other introducing her to a calm new friend. Previously she was rather scared and extremely nervous when she saw a lead and harness and would start spinning. So by hiding the lead and harness and having treats in my hand or peanut butter on a spoon I would go into her run and place the rope on the ground in a big circle with treats inside. Being very food driven she couldn’t resist taking the treats out and as she was doing this I slowly moved the rope around and over time got it around her neck for a very short period of time. I continued this daily and luckily she settled down and was fine with the rope lead and ready to walk around her run. Also at this time a friend called Stevie was waiting to meet her and he came up to her run and waited outside for her to see him. Of course we wanted her approval.
Getting to know Stevie
With her now being able to go out on the rope lead we had reached a point where she would venture out of her back gate and actually walk a little way away from her safe place. Stevie was very good and was waiting patiently outside and being the perfect gentleman. Again over a few days this routine continued and when she was ready and busy sniffing around the bushes outside Stevie was brought up and she didn’t mind him being close to her. This was such a great breakthrough and after a few days the walks increased and interactions between the two dogs was far more. In the end Stevie moved in with Wendy and they have been living together ever since.
Living with Stevie
They are such a happy pair and because Stevie is such a friendly little guy and always up for a game or two he started teaching her how to play. It was apparent that she had never played with a dog before but you could see she really enjoyed herself and now it is a very regularly activity. So now Wendy has gone from a very shy scared little girl to a girl that plays, has a lead and harness on to go out for walks, even goes to our play areas where she can run to her hearts content and has a super boyfriend to go with her. Now the next best adventure for her would be to find a wonderful loving home.
Click here to read Wendy’s profile.
Click here to read Stevie’s profile.