Charlie Bear here with Post #2 on Sharing My Story.
Mom Peep got to say “If I knew then what I know now….” For me, I could say that too. If I knew back then what would happen to me…well, I might have felt differently about life.
Here’s what my life was like before I came to live with Mom and Dad Peep and how I felt about things then:
Prior to October 2010
I had issues. Big ones. Who can blame me? I spent almost my whole first year living on the streets, scrounging for scraps, fending off the bites and loud barks of the big dogs, tucking my tail between my legs and running off whenever I saw a human with a net or trap, and failing miserably in trying to find someone to love me.
What developed from all of that is what my rescuer and foster mom discovered:
- I guarded any resource I had.
- I became sensitive to anyone touching me.
- I threw temper tantrums.
You might be wondering about those things and how they manifested in me. So let’s talk about each one (because this was #1 that you, my loyal readers, wanted to hear about: my issues and how I work to overcome them).
First, I growled when anyone approached my food or anything that I felt belonged to me, like my toys. Over time, I came to trust my Peeps. They put my food bowl down over and over again. I began to believe that I had a source of nutrition every day so I became less obsessed with guarding it. Eventually…(take it slow)…Mom would put it down and then take it back up, praise me, and then put it down again. Same with my toys.
Second, the touch thing. Once, when on the streets, a guy caught me and tried to stuff me in a cage on his truck, but I wiggled away. I mistrusted anyone who approached me. The sweet voice of my rescuer among the circle of children taunting me while they surrounded me on the playground was music to me and I let her scoop me up, even though I was fearful. My foster mom was sweet too, and she held me and fell in love with me while I was still under the throes of anesthesia from being fixed at the vet. Even with the love of these two women, it took a long time to feel comfortable around people. Take it slow. Talk sweet and low. When you touch, do it with a little pat at first, then a small stroke. Don’t go near the tail. For me that was a big no-no around my bum (a big matted fur issue made me hyper sensitive and, believe it or not, I still feel sensitive to strangers who try to touch me around my back end…some memories are hard to get over so respect that your dog may have an issue forever).
A side note: I jumped right up into my Dad Peep’s lap the very first time I met him. There was something about him. But Mom? It took her and me a while. Don’t give up hope on your rescue dog. Give it time. Give him or her your love with your eyes, your voice, and eventually your small pats, and say “I love you” and mean it even when they are unlovable. And believe me, I was often unlovable (see the third issue).
Third, I threw temper tantrums. And they weren’t pretty. Even now, at six years young, they still happen when I’m over excited or stressed. What does this look like and how do I work at overcoming it? They look like this: I spin, snap, growl, and look and act menacing as I whirl in a twirling dervish of fur and ear-piercing noise. The pitch and intensity of what I consider my panic attacks depend on how nervous or mad I am. If I’m told to do something, like get off a chair or sofa, I spin out with anger. If I am nervous in a new situation, I might spin in a panic because I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. If I’m over excited and can’t figure out how to remain calm, I’ll spin just to get the energy out of my body. I’m not a dog who cowers. I’m a dog who acts out.
I can’t really do anything to stop these panic attacks (temper tantrums) but my Mom and Dad Peep do everything they can to minimize them. For instance, they let me sniff a new person when they come in so I don’t stand there and bark at them or spin out for attention. They also have new word cues to help to foreshadow what’s about to occur. Like when I’m on the chair with Dad Peep and he has to get up. If he just rises, which throws me to the floor (in a nice way), I freak and spin. So Dad has now taught me that when he says, “Charlie, let me up,” I bounce down off the chair on my own. Hence, no spinning and no temper tantrum. It took time, but it works 99.9% of the time now.
Five years later: Present Day October 2015
Just like my foster mom said would happen, once I settled into a routine, began to trust my new Peeps and my new home and felt relaxed and secure, I turned into a Charlie Bear…the sweetest, affectionate, cuddle bear around. And it’s true. Most of the time that’s who I am. But I still have remnants of the old days.
Be patient with your rescue dogs. It took a while for them to become who they are, and it will take a while to overcome some of their past and for them to settle into a happy relationship with you, their new person. Give it time, understanding, patience…
To wrap up #1 on my issues: if I knew then what I know now…I would have trusted more in how much my Peeps love me. I would have relaxed sooner. I would totally give up my memories of my issues if I could, but I can’t 100%. And they are fine with that, because they love me. So if I knew then what I know now, I would have known my life was going to be stupendous!
Next time we’ll talk about #2: what I learned from the big dog mentor Rex.
And don’t miss the featured adoptions below. They have wonderful stories.
Wiggles and Woofs,
It’s not too late for you to join in. CALL-OUT: Share with us YOUR rescue/adoption story along with your pet’s photograph. Send via email to: email@example.com. Your story and photo could be featured at the end of an upcoming Charlie Bear post.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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Featured rescued/adoption dogs:
Our adorable Shihpoo was an Amish puppy mill survivor. We got him at a rescue in Norris City, Illinois. When my husband and I drove up to the place and saw the giant “Jesus is Lord” sign, we knew we were in the right place. Amos Moses had major fear issues. We adopted him when he was 8 months old and he still had those issues 2½ years later. Private training really changed his life around, literally 180°. The first six months we had him, he wouldn’t even look at my husband. He was really coming out of his shell just before he was killed by the neighbor’s dog. My heart still breaks for him every day.
I always tell people Amos Moses wasn’t for the faint of heart, but he absolutely adored me and I him. He and our Shih Tzu Max are enjoying each other’s company over the rainbow bridge even though they never met in this life.
We rescued Sophie Grace on 12/27/14 and Courtnee Jane on 5/16/15, a month after Amos Moses passed away. Sophie Grace was a breeder dog who got breast cancer and her owner dumped her on a rural road in Louisville, KY. Courtnee’s family got transferred to Texas and packed up and left her in the yard. She was found by a groomer in rural Brandenburg, Kentucky. Both girls had the same foster mom who works with Kentucky Animal Relief Fund in Louisville, KY, which rescues senior dogs. Their foster mom, Kim, is truly a blessing.
God bless you, B. J. Thank you for telling our babies’ stories.
It’s my pleasure, Debra. We can all learn to live and love dogs in need when we give ourselves the chance to adopt and rescue. Thank YOU!