#3 – January 2020
Patience: The most important thing you can give your new pet
We just took in a dog that was going to be put down by a shelter because the dog had two bites on his record. Human mistakes are compounded by the fact the dogs can't talk or share how scared they are and what they need from you. Many times, all they need is to be left alone and to learn on their own that they are safe – finally!
We often see dogs tagged as biters and frankly they are victims of well intentioned, dog-loving people who have no patience and want to fix the dog – right now! They clearly mean well but don't understand how afraid these dogs are and how to enhance their trust level with strangers - even dog-loving strangers. Most of us humans including us dog lovers have too little patience. And we want to fix things that at times are better helped by leaving them alone. And let the dog figure out he is now safe and that you won't insist on grabbing him until he or she is ready to trust that you won't hurt him as he's been hurt countless times before.
When this poor dog, Nellie, came to me, I saw she was scared to death. It's tempting to want to comfort them but that frankly is the very worse thing to do for a scared dog. Let them decompress and see that you are not to be feared. Respecting their emotions and the right they have to decide when and whom to trust is a gift we need to teach ourselves to then give to these frightened animals.
Nellie has been with me about two weeks now. She is a Dachshund, five years old, and an absolute doll. She's a full on Doxie with a short body so we think her back might not be as vulnerable to back issues as with many Doxies. She's now fully vetted, has had a dental exam and cleaning, and is going to her foster home tomorrow.
I have not picked her up but she now jumps in my lap for hugs and kisses. She's now comfortable sleeping with me and my other two dogs. She loves me and all the visitors who have been in and out the past few days but we are still going slow. Erring on the side of caution is always a good idea. We are also slowly starting to take her places to acclimate her to the outside real world. I want to be certain we don't do anything to trigger her fear of strangers until she's met everyone slowly and has had time to learn that no one here is insisting on being her "fixer"...she is just fine as she is right now.
The true lesson here is that dogs need to be allowed to trust on their own timetable. Patience is a great way to show your love . Oftentimes less is more with many of these shelter dogs that come from challenging experiences....and maybe also for any dog that doesn't yet know you well.
When Nellie is ready to be adopted, we will provide full disclosure about her bite history. And just to be cautious, for her sake as well as others, we'll find her a home with no children or grand children. But I'm convinced that if the adults in her life had not insisted on being her new best friend on their timetable instead of hers, she would not have a bite on her record.
The value of this story? Let the dog come to you and do not hurry that process. In fact, go slower than necessary to build trust from the dog's perception. This is truly the best gift you can give a fearful new dog.
Blessings to each of you,
P.S. I love this quote from one of my heroes, Helen Keller...it is helpful when things seem a bit tough:
Power of One
I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do
The something that I can do.
Susan Wallace, founder of Scooter's Pals, welcomes your feedback. If you have comments about this blog, please use our Contact form to send her an email message.