Thank you Vicky S. for sharing this story and changing Annie’s life for the better.
Annie came into our lives about four months ago. I have had dogs my entire life several from rescue situations, and thought I knew them well but I had never had a fearful dog before. Being a Puppy Mill survivor that is exactly what Annie was. When Bella, my English Setter, and I first met Annie I thought she was quiet. Once I got to know her better I realized that, even though she had already made tremendous progress with her foster family, she was overwhelmed by the world beyond the reality of her six year incarceration in a cage in a puppy mill. Annie was “shut down” and traumatized by all that she had suffered. Finding that I needed more information on how to help Annie adjust, we enrolled in the “Fearful Fido” class at” Paws Perrydise” in Perry, NY.
There we set a few basic goals. The most important goal was mine. After years of abuse at the hands of people I had to earn her trust. Trust, kindness and love had to be the basis of our life together. Bella was and is a big help in this area. Annie loves other dogs and Bella became her mentor. Watching Bella initiate requests for affection, Annie began to see that I was trustworthy.
With Bella’s help, we embarked on what I came to call Dog101. I wanted Annie to have the freedom of the house and for this she had to be potty trained. I also wanted her to be able to enjoy the long walks we take every day. After hours of standing in the yard it became clear that Annie had no idea what grass was and refused to use it as her bathroom. Luckily we had a particularly rainy day when in desperation I took Annie to the garage to go potty and there she let me know that she was used to and comfortable with concrete. So for a while the garage became the bathroom spot while we incorporated potty training on our second goal – going for walks.
It was on these “walks” that Annie let me know that she didn’t like to walk on grass either. The vastness of the space was frightening to her. I decided to persevere and bring Annie along with us in the hope that she would see Bella enjoying an open field and that as time progressed so would her comfort level. Over time that is what happened. I found a park with open spaces for Bella to run and a concrete path for Annie to walk on. She became less “shut down” as she encountered the dog scents around her and her nose began to come alive. She began to trust Bella and to imprint behind me as we walked. The concrete paths of the park became became her new comfort zone and helped her to transition out of the garge. Now she sometimes walks by my side or even in front of me. She lets me know when she wants to stop and sniff. She’s beginning to know that what she wants matters! She now has the unsupervised run of the house.
Watching Annie become more comfortable in her new world has brought joy and fulfillment to my life. She wouldn’t have had this opportunity without the efforts of the Puppy mill Rescue Team and New2u Rescue in Rochester, NY. My heartfelt thanks for the work that you do.