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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Rescue Dog Report Card

I received a very special email today. Amy, a fellow OSLF volunteer, and her boyfriend Matt adopted a new dog (they already owned Lola) from a rescuer last year.

Roxanne was the most fearful dog the rescuer had ever seen. No one knew what happened during Roxanne's previous life - whether she had been abused or neglected or what. Whatever it was, Amy and Matt faced a lot of challenges helping Roxanne adjust and everyone knew it wasn't easy.

But, here's Amy's recent update that I wanted to shared:


It's been about eight months since Roxanne first came to our home. The first time I met her at Sue's house, she hid in the farthest possible corner of the yard, under some bushes. Although she was obviously terrified of us, we took her home. Her first new experience was to go for a walk around the neighborhood. We don't know if she had ever been on a real walk before. Every time something scary happened - a person coming down the street toward us, or a car door closing -- Roxanne would cringe and try to run away, perhaps to hide under the nearest car parked on the side of the street. The first week, she would pee only once a day, and only if you took her to the right spot. She would only poop every 2-3 days. She only wanted to stay in her crate, plastered against the back. To get her out for walks, I had to crawl into the crate and drag her out, and she fought me the entire time. Roxanne would not eat or drink if anyone was in the same room as she was - she liked to eat alone at night. She loved seeing other dogs at the park, but she seemed to not know how to run, or even play. When entering the house, she would always run into her crate. If she was in the yard and a person entered, she would run to find a small hiding space.

Slowly but surely, over the months, she blossomed. First, she would exit her crate voluntarily if she knew we were going for a walk. Then, she finally began pooping every day (what a relief for both of us!), and peeing twice per day. After a few months, she would eat if someone was in the same room, but only if you weren't near her or looking at her. During this time, we gave her a routine and expectations. She wouldn't take treats from our hands, but she learned how to sit, lay down, and come to her name. And she learned how to play with other dogs, and she even learned how to run.

Every week or two we would notice something new that Roxanne had accomplished. After a few months, she would sit in the center of a room, rather than only in the far corner plastered against the wall. She would let me rub her tummy for the first time. Until a couple of months ago, she would still only drink at night when everyone was sleeping. Within the last two months, she started drinking if we were at home during the day, and then within the last month she started drinking if we were in the same room! (As long as we weren't too close or looking at her - of course). She has become a world class runner and jumper (which we learned when we realized she enjoyed jumping over our fence), and class clown.

In the last month, Roxanne has made even more dramatic progress. A few weeks ago she actually started running to the front door to greet me when I come home. We have had guests at our house, and she actually comes up to the them to sniff and say hello. After about 6 months of training, she will now shake hands with me. And this morning she actually drank out of a bowl of water that I was holding in my hands. She is turning into a real dog. It is a joy to see, and it is especially gratifying because she and Lola are enjoying each other's company like real buddies - wrestling, tugging, and chasing each other. I expect that the next few months will bring additional progress, and so Roxanne gets:

Effort: A
Improvement: A+
Plays well with others: A-
Comprehension: B+
Obedience: B- (those darn squirrels are so distracting)
Phys Ed: A+

The power of love and compassion is never so striking as when you see it first hand.


(left to right) Roxanne, Amy and Lola in the snow:


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Anonymous jan said...

What a beautiful story and how rewarding to be part of a transformation like this.

My eyes welled up, I who never cry in movies because they are just artificial tuggings at the heart.

12:36 PM  
Blogger jill bryant said...

I am so with you! There are so many people out there who have become heroes to their (or other's) animals and I always find it so moving...

3:37 PM  
Anonymous catbird said...

Cheers to Amy! And many thanks to you for sharing this touching example of the power of love.

I love Amy's last line:
"The power of love and compassion is never so striking as when you see it first hand."

And I would add that the same is true for us humans, as well.

7:57 AM  

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